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Tales from the Crusadiverse by theelderwand
Chapter 3 : The Adventures of Reckless Git and Danger Ponce - Part 2
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 5


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Harry sat at the table in the kitchen at Grimmauld Place, his purple Auror’s robe and armor draped over the chair next to him.    He was finishing his second cup of tea and reading The Daily Prophet.  Taking in the headline, he muttered, “ ‘Bout bloody time.”

“For what?” came a sleepy voice from the hall.

Ginny, still dressed in her pajamas, shuffled into the kitchen and collapsed in Harry’s lap, making him drop the paper.  He couldn’t help but chuckle.

“Whasso funny,” she asked in a muffled, tired voice.

“You, love.  It’s Saturday. And it’s early. Figured you’d sleep another few hours.”

Ginny nuzzled his ear. “Smelled breakfast.”

Harry chuckled again.  “The age-old Weasley dilemma – food or sleep?”

She batted him playfully and grabbed a piece of uneaten bacon off his plate.  “What were you muttering about?”

“Oh.  This.”  Harry gestured to the front-page headline:  “Wizengamot Concludes Investigation into Battle of the Pitch – Auror Corps Cleared of Malfeasance.”

Ginny came awake.  “So nice of them to clear you.  Tossers!”

Just as Harry had feared, following the Battle the recriminations flew.  But Kingsley was a master statesman.  With Arthur’s help, they’d manage to channel the outrage to where it rightfully belonged: on the Wizengamot for stifling Kingsley’s efforts at reforming the Ministry and trying to purge it of Death Eater sympathizers and Pureblood extremists.  Still, Harry and Ron had to endure a months-long investigation that began soon after Ron was released from St. Mungo’s.  As the redheaded Auror was fond of saying during the tedious hours of questioning: It was a crappy way to come back to work.

All in all, the Battle hadn’t been the disaster Harry had originally feared.  All of the Quidditch players survived and 20 Death Eaters were captured or killed.  But balanced against that were the 12 dead and 76 injured spectators, including his able partner.  Throw in the fact that the remainder of the Quidditch season was cancelled and it could hardly be called a victory for the forces of light.

Ginny slid off Harry’s lap and went to the stove to retrieve her breakfast. “Kreacher at Hogwarts?”

“Yeah.  Told him I’d be making breakfast this morning.”  He fluttered his paper.

“You’re sweet.”  Then she motioned to The Prophet as she loaded her plate with food.  “Does it say anything else worth reading?”

“Not particularly,” Harry answered as he turned a page.  “Usual tripe.  There is a good picture of Ron and Hermione though.”  Harry laughed.  “Society Section – that’ll give me something to take the mickey out of him with today!”

Ron was clad in fine dress robes, escorting a ball gown-wearing Hermione to a Ministry function, one Harry had managed to dodge at the last minute.  The caption:  “Dashing Auror and Elegant Undersecretary out on the town.”  

Ginny peeked over Harry’s shoulder at the picture.  “Sweet Merlin…dashing?  Oh, George will have a field day with that!”

“I plan on beating him to the punch,” Harry said with a mischievous grin as he took another sip of tea.

Ginny took a chair across from Harry, set down her now-full plate and grabbed a fork.  “When are you leaving for work?”

Harry checked his watch.  “In about twenty minutes.  Ron and I are meeting up at the Ministry before we Apparate together to Hogsmeade.”

Ginny stopped mid-bite.  “And?”  She looked at her boyfriend expectantly.

“And…What?”

She cocked an eyebrow at him.

Harry sighed.  “Gin, it’s just a meeting, then a stakeout.”

“Details?”

The Battle of the Pitch had turned everyone’s world upside down.  With the Death Eaters now targeting Harry and Ron, and their witches, Ginny and Hermione had begun Auror training.  As Undersecretary to the Minister for Magical Law Enforcement, including Hermione in the sessions was no problem.  But, to justify Ginny being trained, she’d been hired as a consultant to the Auror Corps as a flying instructor.  She was quickly put to work on the new “airborne option,” as Ron came to call it.  After the foursome had a long discussion about how vital the Quidditch players were during the Battle of the Pitch, they’d decided adding an airborne element to Auror tactics and training was vital.  But the witches’ essentially becoming full-blown Aurors wasn’t the only major change in their lives.

In exchange for their witches agreeing to keep a low profile (“What? I’m just supposed to stay cloistered in this damn house!” was Ginny’s first reaction to the suggestion), Harry and Ron had to agree to keep them informed of their day-to-day activities and investigations.  In detail.  

Kingsley knew there were no secrets among the foursome; it was one of Harry’s non-negotiable demands before he agreed to reconstitute the nearly extinct Auror Corps out of Dumbledore’s Army.  But, following the ambush at Ginny’s match against Appleby, that sharing of information was taken to a whole new level.  And, there was an added wrinkle. Before Harry and Ron could embark on any high-risk missions (Hermione referred to them as “hare-brained schemes”), they had to consult with their witches first. The Quartet’s discussions about this arrangement were intense (Ron called it a “pain-in-the-arse of a row.”).  But, in the end they all agreed the escalation of the Guerilla War required a new level of vigilance and openness.

Openness?  The two witches in my life are doing everything but inspecting my underwear, Harry thought to himself.

“I heard that Harry James!”

Damn link.

Harry sighed.  “I’m sorry love.  It’s just…”

“What?!”

Harry cocked an eyebrow at his girlfriend.  “Look, this job is hard enough without me having to worry about you worrying about me twenty-four hours a day. Okay?”

Ginny fought to keep her temper in check.  She took a breath and began counting broomsticks.  When she got to 20, she trusted herself enough to speak calmly.  “Harry, we talked about this, all four of us.” She sighed.  “I have no intention of interfering in your work.  But we agreed.  No secrets, especially if you’re getting ready to do something particularly… dangerous.”  She almost slipped and substituted the word stupid.  She tamped her temper down and reached her hand across the table, taking his.  “I know you have a job to do.  Just don’t shut me out.”

“Alright.”  Harry slumped in his chair, putting the paper aside.  “Today’s pretty routine.  We’re still monitoring that warehouse in Hogsmeade the Death Eaters are using as a safe house, hoping Dolohov will show his face.  We’re still short-handed so Ron and I are taking a turn after we meet up with George and his friend.”

“I didn’t know you were meeting George.”

Harry nodded.  “Business acquaintance of his has some information for us.  Bloke by the name of Galloway.  Do you know him?”

Bryce Galloway?”  Ginny asked, a surprised look on her face.

“Yeah. Why?”

“He was a Hufflepuff in Percy’s year.  Odd character.  If Mundungus Fletcher and Peeves had a child, it’d be Bryce.”

Harry couldn’t help but smirk at that.  “Well, we’re meeting him at Hogwarts – Room of Requirement.  All the cloak and dagger stuff is so Ron and I aren’t seen in Hogsmeade. Could spook the Death Eaters. And because Galloway is terrified of being seen talking to us in public.”

Some of the Aurors, like Seamus, lived in Hogsmeade, so their presence wouldn’t raise any suspicions.  A visit by Harry and Ron, on the other hand, was bound to get noticed.  Harry explained that the plan was for he and Ron to Apparate directly into the Hog’s Head, meet up with George and Galloway and take the passage to the Room of Requirement.  Deep within Hogwarts, it was by far the safest location in all of Wizarding Britain.

Harry ticked the remaining points off on his fingers, an ever-increasing impatience creeping into his voice. “After that, Ron and I relieve Seamus and Dennis at the stakeout.  Then, I’m home by six for dinner.  Treacle tart’s my vote for desert.  Any questions?”  He finished with a lopsided smirk.

“Don’t get cheeky, Harry James.”

He rolled his eyes.  “Today it’s just standard, boring stuff.”

She put down her fork and crossed her arms over her chest.  “Standard. Boring.  These aren’t words I’d normally associate with you, especially when you add my brother into the mix.”

“Gin, don’t go there.”

“Oh, I will go there, Head Auror Potter…”

“Ah, not so fast.  I’m not Head, yet. I just run the show for Kingsley.”

 “…Before I do, though,” Ginny continued, ignoring the interruption, “I promise I’ll keep the link closed while you’re on the job.  I don’t want you losing focus.”  Then Ginny’s eyes began to blaze Fiendfyre, which was always a bad sign.  “But, I’m warning you, Harry.  If Reckless Git and…

****

“…Danger Ponce make an appearance, there will be Hell to pay, Ronald.”

“Can’t a man devour his breakfast in peace around here?”  Ron tried not to look up from his copy of The Daily Prophet as he shoveled eggs into his mouth.  And remembered to swallow before he resumed talking.  “Nice picture of us…Bloody hell!  Dashing?  Harry and George’ll take the mickey out of me for that.”

Hermione smacked the table, causing Ron’s plate to rattle.

He lowered the paper. “What?”  

“You heard me.”

Ron folded his copy of The Prophet and tossed it to the side.  “I’m not deaf.  And you know I hate that nickname.”

Hermione furrowed her brow at her boyfriend. 

“‘Mione, what d’you want me to tell you?” He asked in a huff.  “It’s a meeting with a source and then a stakeout.  The takedown isn’t going to happen for days and when it does, we’ll have the whole Corps on site.  We’ll outnumber them, surround them and disarm them so fast they won’t know what hit them.  It’ll be as safe as I can make it.”  He took a bite of a scone.  “Merlin, these are good!  Mum’s recipe?”

Her tone was casual.  “Yes.  They turned out well didn’t they?” Then it reverted to scalding. “Back to the point, you. What about the takedown?”

This time, he forgot to swallow before he continued, but he still managed to speak somewhat clearly around the scone. “You know I don’t like to discuss the tactical stuff until I’m ready to do a full briefing.  Give it a rest, will ya?”  He went back to his paper.

Hermione wasn’t sure whether to fume or cry.  She took a steadying breath.  “Ron, this is your first field assignment since the Battle of the Pitch…”

“Don’t start that.”

“I’m serious!”

Ron put The Prophet aside, again.  Then he reached across the table and took his gorgeous witch’s hand.  “Love, nothing’s gonna happen today.  Harry and I’ll relieve Seamus and Dennis.  We’ll swap stories and eat chocolate frogs.  I’ll come home cold, tired and cranky.” He cocked an eyebrow and smiled, mischievously.  “And, very, very hungry.  I promise.” 

Hermione tried to keep a stern look on her face.  “Hungry…I’ve no doubt.  But in one piece would be preferable.”

“No worries, love. Hows about I bring some takeout with me when I come home?”

“No need.” Hermione said as she snatched up the paper.  “Gin and I are at the Leaky for lunch.  I’ll order takeout before we leave and put a warming charm on it.”

Ron dropped his scone.  “You and Gin?”

“Yes,” she replied, not looking up from The Prophet.

“You’re gong to lunch?”

“Yes,” she replied again, as she turned the page.

“At the Leaky?”


Hermione set the paper down, examining her boyfriend as if he were some new magical creature Hagrid had just shown her.  “Ronald, your powers of comprehension are surpassed only by your table manners.”

The tall redhead clenched his hands into fists as he tried to keep his voice steady.  “I thought we agreed the two of you wouldn’t venture out unnecessarily.”

“We’ve had nearly three months of training, and we’re as capable as any of your other Aurors.  Besides, the agreement was that we’d always go out in pairs.  Me,” she raised a single finger. “Ginny,” she raised a second. “A pair.”  She put both fingers together and snatched The Prophet back up.  “Forget that point, did we?”  She asked, smugly.

Ron began counting chocolate frogs.  When he reached 30, he trusted himself enough to speak without shouting.  “Tell me, love of my life, why in the name of Merlin’s fish-and-chips do you need to go out to have lunch with my sister?”

“Neither of us have gone anywhere without one of you tagging along since Appleby.” Hermione tried to keep her voice calm.  “You know we used to get together for lunch once a week.  It’s time to get back to that.  Besides, giving us some girl time insures that we won’t hex your…”

*****

“…ears off the next time you make a cheeky comment about us inspecting your underwear,” Ginny finished with a truly devilish smile.

Harry thought to himself, Do I fight this or surrender?  

Surrender.  You’ve got no chance, love.  Ginny smirked at the raven-haired wizard.

Damn link.

***

Harry and Ron appeared with a crack in a second floor room of the Hog’s Head, to find a gruff Aberforth Dumbledore waiting for them.

“Potter.  Weasley,” he said, shaking the Auror’s hands.  “Good to see you’re well.”

“And you too, Aberforth.  Thanks for letting us Apparate straight in,” Harry said.

“Definitely,” Ron added with a smile.  “Much better way to go about it than the first time you took us in.”

Aberforth shot the redhead a gruff nod.  “And how’s Hermione?”

Ron’s smile faded.  “Impossible.”

“Good,” the barman replied dryly.  “That should keep you on your toes.  And Ginevra?” He asked, nodding to Harry.

“The same as Hermione.”

Aberforth let one of his rare smiles spread across his face, nearly making it crack.  “Don’t expect any advice on the subject from me.  Now, should I send up some food while you wait?”

“No, thanks,” Harry answered.

Ron shot Harry a dirty look.  

Harry cocked an eyebrow at his partner.  “Really? You just had breakfast and there’s food at the stakeout for Merlin’s sake!”

Ron shrugged.

Aberforth shook his head.  “If you change your minds, let me know.  I need to get back before I’m missed.  I’ll send the others up as soon as they get here.” 

“Thanks,” Harry said as Aberforth made his way out the door, shutting it behind him.

Ron collapsed onto a sofa, propping his long legs up on a pillow as he stifled a yawn; Harry found a seat on an overstuffed chair.  

Ron looked around the room, letting his eyes rest on the large portrait that served as the doorway to the Room of Requirement. “This place hasn’t changed since the Battle of Hogwarts, has it?”  

“No.” Harry spared a moment on nostalgia.  “So, I have this strange feeling you got into it with Hermione about the stakeout?”

“Right in one there, Trelawney.  You and Ginny, too, I’d guess?”

Harry sighed, nodding his head.  “Hermione tell you about lunch at the Leaky?”

“Yes.” Ron’s ears began to redden at the thought.  “I was counting on you to put a stop to it.”

“Me?” Harry asked, taken aback.  “After she was on about ‘Reckless Git and Danger Ponce’ there wasn’t much I could do.”

“So,” Ron said with a glint in his eye, “couldn’t save yourself with a smile and one of those gooey flushes of love through the bond, eh?”  The redhead batted his eyelashes, feigning a swoon.

Harry smirked at his best mate. “Apparently, I just wasn’t dashing enough this morning.”

Ron sighed.  “Weren’t gonna let that one go, were you?”

“Not a chance.”  He shot a wry smile at his partner.  “Anyway, she’s closed the link while I’m in the field, so I can concentrate.”  

“Thought you two had the bond pretty much under control,” Ron said, turning serious again.

Harry shook his head.  “We did until that ambush in the Archives.  Ever since the bond progressed from being just a flow of emotions to us being able to communicate mind-to-mind, it’s gone wonky during any stressful situation.”  During the Battle of the Pitch, the flow of emotions through the bond had been so strong, it had nearly crippled Harry.

Ron chuckled.  “Lucky for us we lead such stress free lives.”

Harry laughed.  “Don’t I know it.  Anyway, even with it closed, I’m pretty sure I can still get a message to her if I need to, though.”

Ron sighed.  “Don’t know how you do it, brother.  You know I love that bossy, bushy-haired pain- in-the-arse of mine, but if I had her in my head like you’ve got Ginny, I’d go mental.”

“It’s got its upsides.  Double-edged sword, I guess,” Harry responded.  

The bond manifested shortly after Ginny’s horse-Patronus had changed to a doe, days after the Battle of Hogwarts.  But, the reason why the two Magi shared this psychic link remained a mystery, even to Hermione.  The Unspeakables might have been able to shed some light on it, but Harry and Gin didn’t want to risk becoming Ministry lab rats.  The link remained a Weasley family secret.

“Anyway, will you Crucio me if I ask about your plan for the takedown?”  Harry asked.

“I’m still working on it.  I should be ready to present it in a day or two…But I suppose I can give you the basics without hitting you with an Unforgivable.”  For Harry, Ron was always willing to bend his rule about discussing a plan before it was polished.  He slid his feet off the sofa and sat up.  “I’ve memorized the layout of the warehouse and, based on the last few surveillance reports, figured out their wards.  They haven’t secured the place all that much.  Looks like we can do a simple smash and grab and surround them.  Hermione cooked up a charm that’ll get us inside without setting off any alarms.  She taught it to me last week.  But, we’ll still need a master warder we can trust to take down the Anti-Dissaparation and the Anti-Apparation wards.”

“Bill,” Harry added.

“Brilliant minds think alike.  Bill takes down their wards.  Then we Apparate in, put up our own Anti-Disapp wards so they can’t escape.  Expelliarmus, Stupefy, Incarcerous, off to Azkaban, have a nice day…One small rub.”

“What’s that?” Harry asked.

“To do it safely we’ll need the entire Corps.  That place is just too damn big to secure with only a team.”

Harry steepled his fingers as he thought.  “So, the rest of the realm will be without Auror protection for…how long?”  

Ron was silent for a moment.  “With enough advance warning and some good intelligence on when Dolohov will show up so we can get into position…two hours.  Maybe more.”

“That’s if everything goes according to plan,” Harry said, cocking an eyebrow at his best mate.

“So pessimistic.”

Realistic.”

“Tomato, tomatoe.”

There was a knock at the door. 

Harry shot a smile at his partner.  “Well, brother, it sounds like the intelligence you were hoping for just showed up.”

Ron made his way to the door.  “Who is it?”

“Someone not as dashing as his younger brother, apparently.”

Ron muttered, “Git,” under his breath and opened the door.  The two wizards in the hallway quickly walked into the room as Ron secured the door behind them.  George led the way, shooting a smile at Ron.  The brown-haired wizard that followed him was of medium height, in his mid-twenties.  His nose was slightly hooked and there was a bit of a devil-may-care glint in his blue eyes.

George clapped Harry on the back.  “Harry, Ron, this is Bryce Galloway.”

Galloway’s hand shot out from his side as he rapidly shook both the Aurors' hands.  “A pleasure!  A distinct pleasure.  Already know you both by reputation, of course.  Been looking forward to meeting you both in person for years. Definitely a pleasure.”  Galloway’s smile was disarming, but Harry still had the distinct feeling he should keep his hand on his wallet while he was anywhere near this wizard.

Harry began, “Well, Mr. Galloway…” 

“Oh, please, call me Bryce,” he insisted.  “All my friends do; no need to be so formal.  We’re all on the same side after all.  Aren’t we? Of course we are.  It’s like I was telling George…”

Harry interrupted him before he got a full head of steam behind him.  “Fine, then, Bryce.  We’ll be leaving for Hogwarts shortly.  George informed you how this is going to work?”

“He did,” Bryce answered, “but I really don’t think it’s necessary.  We’re all friends here after all.  And I’m the soul of discretion.  No need to worry about me letting any Kneazles out of the bag as to how we’re getting into Hogwarts.  Yes, soul of discretion.  Just ask George, here, he can vouch for me.”

Ron’s lopsided grin split his face.  “Humor us.  You want to keep this little meeting a secret; we’d prefer that you not know how we’re getting in.  Simple trade, yeah?”

Bryce shot a look at George.  “Well…I suppose, but surely there’s no need for…”

“Galloway,” George interrupted.  “Stow it.  You need help with your little problem and you want to keep a low profile at the same time.  You do it their way.  Understand?”

Bryce hesitated, then nodded.  “Alright.”  He squeezed his eyes shut, bracing himself.  “Hit me.”

With a shake of his head, George loosed a stunning spell at Galloway; Harry immediately cast a levitation spell, saving the wizard from a wicked impact with the floor.

Ron shook his head as he looked at his brother.  “Quite a talker, this one.  You trust him?”

George cocked an eyebrow at his younger brother.  “Trust?  That’s a strong word.  I think his information is reliable.  But I wouldn’t say I trust the tosser.” Then he shrugged.  “He’s relatively harmless, though.”

Harry smirked at George.  “I’m really curious as to what kind of business you do with him.  But I don’t think I want to know.”

George couldn’t help but laugh.  “Now, Harry, surely you’re not worried about me?  I keep my dealings with Bryce on the up-and-up.  He’s useful because he always tends to know what’s going on in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.  And Knockturn Alley, for that matter.”

Ron piped in.  “What was all that about Galloway having a problem he needs help with?”

George grimaced.  “Yeah, he’s got a price for his information.”

“We’re listening,” Harry added.

“Galloway got pinched by the DMLE squads a week ago,” George responded.

Harry asked, “And he wants the charges dropped?”

“Right in one,” George answered.

“So,” Ron asked, “how serious are the charges.”

“Not that bad.  He got caught dealing counterfeit Tentacula.”

“How do you fake Tentacula?”  Ron asked.

George sat on the sofa. “By charming oregano.”

“Brilliant,” Harry chuckled.

“It would be if his charm work was any good,” George added with a laugh.  “Stuff looks like burnt celery, not Tentacula, if you ask me.”

Ron pointed toward the painting above the fireplace.  “Here comes the Headmistress.  Right on time.”

The portrait swung open.  “Mister Weasley, punctuality is a virtue.  I’m glad to see you’ve learned that.”

Ron reddened at the comment.  “Yes ma’am.  How are you?”

“I’m well.  Good to see you.  And you, Mr. Potter.” Then she turned to George. “And you too Mr. Weasley…I see you’ve brought Mr. Galloway.”  She shook her head, clearly less than pleased with the company George had been keeping.

George gave her one of his signature grins.  In spite of herself, McGonagall let her frown soften.  But only a little.  

Harry made his way to the portrait hole, a levitated Galloway trailing along behind him.  “Thank you, Professor, for letting us do this.  I really couldn’t think of a safer place for us to meet.”

“Always willing to help,” the Headmistress responded.  “And I do appreciate the lengths you’ve taken to help keep this passage secret.  Too many people already know about it as it is."  The Ministry had altered more than a few memories after the Battle of Hogwarts to protect the existance of this passage, but it was hardly a state secret.   "No need to make it more widely known.”  Then she frowned at Galloway.  “Especially to some less…desirable characters.”

The group then began the trek through the tunnel to the Room of Requirement.  Upon entering, they saw the room transformed into a very comfortable study furnished with overstuffed chairs, sofas and a warm fire crackling in the grate.  They gently placed Galloway on one of the sofas as the Headmistress again turned to Harry.  “I’ll leave you to your meeting.  Take as much time as you need.”  She began to leave, but then she hesitated.  “Harry, Ron...whatever you’re planning…please...be careful.”  She fixed them both with a very soft, worried look.  Then she left.

Ron turned to Harry.  “Is there a single witch in the country who doesn’t think we’re going to end up dead by the close of business?”

“Not very reassuring, is it?”  Harry asked.

Ron shrugged and collapsed into one of the chairs.

George said, “You two do have something of a reputation.  What is it that Gin and Hermione call you?  Reckless Git and…”

“Don’t say it,” Ron interrupted.

George chuckled.  “A little sensitive there, are we?  And here I figured you’d become the perfect stoic gentlemen, what with you having been ‘out on the town’ so recently.”

Harry smiled, but decided to change the subject before Ron could retort.  “Let’s wake him up.”

George dropped his wand to Galloway. “Rennervate.”

Bryce’s eyes fluttered open and he slowly sat up.  He took in the room, with a befuddled grin on his face.  “Is this the Gryffindor Common Room?  Never been here before.”

Ron spoke up.  “We’re in Hogwarts.  That’s all you need to know.”

Harry tried to stifle his smile.  Good Auror, Bad Auror.

“George tells us you’ve got some information?”  Harry prompted.

“Yes.  Information.  Prime, Grade A, unadulterated, straight-from-the-source skinny.  Just what you gentlemen need, and I’m only too happy to help you out.”  The effects of the stunning spell hadn’t dampened Bryce’s mood.

“For a price,” Ron finished.

“Oh, c’mon Weasley.  I’ve just got a little problem I need some help with.”

Ron frowned at Bryce’s use of his last name.   “Depends on how good your information really is.”

“It’s good.”

Ron glanced sideways at Harry.  The raven-haired wizard ran his hand through his hair and then took off his glasses, polishing them on his robes.  It was one of the prearranged signals the two had been working on.  Ron didn’t miss it.

Bugger, me, thought Ron.  He can’t seriously mean it.  We haven’t even practiced a chain-Legilimens more than twice.  

“If your information pans out,” Harry began, “we’ll see to it that the charges are dropped.”

“Excellent! Now, here’s what…”

“No,” Harry interrupted.  “I need to make sure it’s reliable.  You telling me isn’t going to be enough.  I’m going to need to use Legilimency.  Do you understand?”

George’s eyebrows shot up.

Bryce looked more than a little nervous.  “You’re going to read my thoughts?”

Harry said, “Something like that, yes. If you agree, we’ve got a deal.  If not, our business is concluded.”

Slowly Bryce nodded.  “This gonna hurt?”

“Just don’t fight it,” Harry answered as he took out his wand.  Ron did the same.  Both Aurors cast Legilimens simultaneously - Harry at Galloway, Ron at Harry.

Under Kingsley’s tutelage, Harry, and Ron to a lesser degree, had finally mastered the arts of Legilimency and Occlumency.  But chain-Legilimens was Harry’s own creation; he’d been working on it for several months.  One wizard would enter the mind of a suspect while another entered the mind of the original caster.  In this way, it was hoped, several wizards could view the same thoughts and information without using a Pensieve and without risking the safety of the person being read by multiple wizards entering his mind.  It was also much more reliable than Veritaserum.  But they’d never tried it in the field and had only practiced it a few times before.

The images came swimming into view.  Knockturn Alley.  Three days ago.  A dark stoop.  Slowly the vision began to coalesce.

Bryce was haggling with another wizard over the price of some stolen Erumpent horns.  Given the subject of their negotiations, they were doing it very, very quietly, in a small alcove deep within Knockturn Alley.  They had just concluded their business and separated when Dolohov and another, hooded figure came into view.  Seeing them, and knowing that they were Death Eaters, Galloway ducked back into the alcove.

“Saturday.  Do you understand?” Antonin Dolohov demanded. “It’s vital that everything is arranged properly for the meeting.”

“Everything will be as you require.  You have my word,” the hooded figure responded.

“Good.  Yaxley will be in the country only for a few hours, so it is exceptionally important that everything go as planned,” Dolohov finished.

“I’ll make all the arrangements by noon, before he arrives.”

Then the two men parted ways, quickly leaving in opposite directions.  

Harry broke his spell as Ron did the same, both wizards easing back in their seats.

Bryce shook his head to clear it.  For the first time all morning, Galloway’s voice was shaky, and betrayed more than a little fear.  “They can never know it was me that told you.”

Harry eyed the wizard, somberly.  “You have our word. And we have a deal.  I’ll see to it the charges are dropped and that no one is the wiser as to why.”

Bryce nodded.

Ron said, “George will take you back.”

Then, the glint returned to Bryce’s eyes.  “Excellent!  I’m sure the Auror Corps wouldn’t mind springing for a meal once we get back to the Hogs Head?  After all, the forces of light always stick together.  Why, it’s like I was telling George earlier…”

Stupefy.”

Bryce collapsed back on to the couch and George placed his wand back in his robes.

“Thanks mate,” Harry said with a sigh.

George nodded.  “No problem.  He was about to go on a tear.  We’d be here for hours.  And I’m sure you and Dasher, here, need to get to work.”

“Think you’ve gotten the ‘dashing’ jokes out of your system?”  Ron asked with a smirk.

“Not even close.  But I’ll leave Harry to carry on in my place.”  He rose from his seat, levitating Galloway to the passage.  “Should I tell you to be careful?”  He shot them both a grin.  Then he was gone.

Harry pulled his cloak out of his Auror armor.  “Yaxley.”  He shook his head.  “We need to move fast.  Do we have enough time to get everyone in position, or is this going to be another last minute rush?”

Ron checked his watch.  “We’ve got time…Gods I hate throwing a plan together like this.  We’ll need to get word to the Ministry immediately.  Too much to say with a Patronus and we can’t trust the Floo network with all the leaks at the Ministry…We can send a message back with the night shift.  Quicker that way.”

Harry grabbed a pen and parchment that had just appeared on the coffee table in front of him.  “I love the Room of Requirement.”  He hastily wrote out a supplement to the morning report, stamped it “Urgent” and addressed it to Hermione.  Then he hefted the Cloak.  “Climb under; we’ll walk out the gates and Apparate to the stakeout.”

AN:  Special shout-out to my adopted little sis and beta, 1917farmgirl for all her help!  I do not own Harry Potter; the toys belong to JKR, she just lets us play with them.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


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