Chapter 6 : The Tipping Point - Part 2
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“Lot to do today.” Harry stood in front of Ollivander’s, dressed in his Auror’s robes and Armor. Ron, likewise had donned his full kit, at Harry’s direction.
“Why didn’t we just meet at the Burrow? We’re practicing today, yeah?”
Harry nodded. “Something we need to get first.”
“New wands? Thanks, but mine works just fine.” Ron motioned to the wand in the clutch on his left forearm; he’d gotten it nearly four years ago before they both began Auror training with Kingsley.
Harry smiled. “Trust me.”
“Now why does that make me nervous?”
Harry clapped a hand on Ron’s back and guided him into the shop.
“Mr. Potter and Mr. Weasley, a pleasure to see you,” the wand maker’s smile couldn’t quite hide the fatigue etched into his face.
“Thank you, sir,” Harry responded. “Do you have what I asked for?”
“Yes. But it took the better part of the last two days. I only just finished.” He very gently, almost lovingly, placed six wands on the counter in front of them.
“You made all of these in two days?” Ron asked, in shocked amazement.
“Yes,” he said with an air of pride. “Based on what I know about your present wands, I used hair from the mane of a Manticore. Exceptionally difficult to acquire and nearly impossible to work with.” He got a very far away look in his eyes. “But, it should get the job done, yes, quite plausible…” He seemed to trail off in mid-thought.
“Blimey,” was all Ron could manage.
Ollivander hardly heard him. “Now, the wood varies. Elm, Yew and Oak, were what I chose.” Then he seemed to peer off into the distance again. “The Elm, I believe will be our best chance of a pair that is a compatible match.”
“A match?” Ron asked, his eyebrows shooting upwards.
For the first time, Mr. Ollivander seemed to realize Ron was standing in front of him. “Your wands will need to be identical for what Mr. Potter has in mind.”
“A moment, please, sir?” Ron asked the wand maker, who only nodded in response. Then the red-haired Auror took his partner aside, out of earshot. He leaned into Harry. “Mate, a question?”
The raven-haired wizard smiled. “Sure.”
“What the bloody hell are you up to?”
“We need backup wands, mate. Constant vigilance, remember?” He finished with a smirk.
Ron looked skeptical. “And why do they need to be identical?”
“So they can lock.”
“Of course. I should’ve realized that. So they can lock. Brilliant. Tell me, have you finally gone completely mental?”
“Glad to hear it. Now, try that again, please? Very slowly.”
“We can’t practice an anti-wand-locking spell without wands that will lock, now can we?”
“You’ve come up with an anti-wand-locking spell?”
Ron was clinging to one vain hope. “Please, tell me Hermione helped.”
“She did…Well, sort of.”
“Sort of? And you want to try it out on me, with a wand that a sleep-deprived nutter just made?”
Harry, who had been grinning up to this point, turned deathly serious. He dropped his voice even lower. “Yaxley has Riddle’s old wand.”
“Bloody hell!!” Ron shouted.
“Gentlemen?” Mr. Ollivander asked. “Everything alright?”
“Fine, sir,” Harry responded. “We’ll just be a minute more.”
Ron took a deep breath, calming himself. Then he hissed, “How? How the bloody hell did that git get it! It burned to a crisp in the Archive fire!”
“No, mate. Zack found it.”
Harry cut him off with a wave of his hand. “Look, let’s just get the wands and I’ll tell you everything at the Burrow.”
“Wait!” Ron hissed again. “How can you be so sure he has it?”
Harry hesitated, his eyes going dark. “The night Alicia got hurt…”
Ron rested a supportive hand on Harry’s shoulder. “It’s alright, brother. Go on.”
Harry took a breath. “My wand nearly locked with his. It took all I had to keep it from happening. But it served his purpose. I just wasn’t ready for it.” He hung his head. “I couldn’t break free quick enough to shield for her before…”
Ron squeezed Harry’s shoulder tighter. “Not your fault, brother. It’s okay.”
“Gentlemen?” Ollivander asked, again.
Ron didn’t break his grip on Harry’s shoulder, as he tried to will his strength to him. He turned to Ollivander. “We’re ready, sir. Let’s see which pair works, yeah?” Gently he guided Harry back to the counter.
“It’s not your fault. We can’t be everywhere at once. We try. Merlin knows we do; but we’re not gods,” Ron said. “The job’s dangerous. Alicia knew that going in. And, don’t forget, she’s gonna be fine.”
The two Aurors sat near the pond at the Burrow. Ron thought it best if they had a chance to talk before they let his Mum know they were there for practice; Arthur was already at the Ministry, putting in some extra hours.
Harry stared off into the distance. “Brother, I’m about played out. If it weren’t for Ginny last night…”
Ron tried to hide his concern by skipping a stone across the pond. Harry had told him about how he’d dealt with Smith. Although Ron knew the git deserved what he got, it wasn’t like Harry to be so…cold. Ron shook it off. “I can’t fault you. I would’ve done the same. Hell, I wanted to do worse. You know that.”
Harry couldn’t help but chuckle a bit. “Weasley the Crucio king.”
“I’d still do it, too. Gladly. That bastard got off easy.”
Slowly, Harry nodded.
“We’re almost there, mate. We spring the trap next week and we’re done.”
“I sure as hell hope so.” Harry sighed. Then he turned to his partner, a small smile spreading across his face. “Thanks.”
“No problem.” Ron smiled. “I’d rather us talk this stuff through than deal with one of those silent broods you used to torture us with.”
Harry couldn’t help but laugh. “You make me sound like a nutter.”
“Your words, not mine.”
“Ponce!” Harry said through his smile.
“That’s ‘Danger Ponce’ to you, Reckless Git!” Ron smiled back.
“We’re gonna be stuck with those bloody nicknames for the rest of our lives, aren’t we?”
“Unless you have a way to control the girls short of Imperio, I think we’re doomed.”
They shared a laugh. Ron was glad to see that his best mate seemed to have returned to his old self. “So, you gonna tell me how Arsely got Riddle’s old wand? And how he’s managed to master it?”
Harry was clearly angry about it, but seemed to take it in stride now. His talk with Ron had helped ease his guilt and worry. “Well, I told you Zack found it in the Archives. He’d been slipping the Death Eaters information for ages, playing both sides against the other. Once Yaxley escaped, he decided it was time to choose sides, permanently.”
“Git really should’ve been a Slytherin,” Ron spat.
“No doubt,” Harry continued. “He made contact with Dolohov. But Zack wasn’t completely trusting. He refused to turn the wand over before the Battle of the Pitch and the Death Eaters weren’t really willing to trust Zack either, until he made a show of good faith.”
Ron nodded. “He had to sell his partner out. And us.”
“Problem was, they didn’t count on him getting captured.”
“Breaks my heart,” Ron added with a smirk.
“Zack put the wand in his vault at Gringotts, for safekeeping. It’s been there for the past two years.”
“So how’d they finally get access to his vault?”
“Remember that Portkey Yaxley used to escape from the warehouse?”
“The warehouse you collapsed around our ears? No, don’t remember it at all,” Ron said, cheekily.
Harry smirked at his best mate, cuffing him on the shoulder. “Only way to get us out. Get over it.”
“My partner collapses a building on me and I’m supposed to just get over it. The things I forgive…”
Harry shook his head, ignoring the comment. “That Portkey wasn’t just a Portkey.”
Ron cocked his head. “It was Zack’s vault key, wasn’t it?”
Harry nodded. “The Death Eaters stole it from his flat. Yaxley came back to England for the sole purpose of getting it. They turned it into a Portkey as a security measure, just in case things went sour. They knew we were on to them. We’ve been thorough, but they still have eyes and ears everywhere.”
Ron shook his head. “Even so, I’m guessing we’ve been such a pain in Yaxley’s arse he wasn’t able to get the wand until recently?”
Harry nodded. “Last week.”
“Mate? How’d you find this out?”
“Who knows all the ‘prime, Grade A, unadulterated, straight-from-the-source skinny?’”
“Oh, crap! Bryce!”
“Right in one. Besides, he owed us for letting him off the hook for that counterfeit Tentacula.”
Ron couldn’t hide his smile. “You were busy yesterday.”
Harry just shrugged. “Gotta earn my pay.”
Ron laughed. Then he fell silent. He took a breath as he turned to his best mate. “Hermione told me you put her through her NEWTS in wand lore.”
Harry’s good-natured smile faltered, if only slightly. Ron saw his partner’s features fall, but charged on. “You still haven’t said how Yaxley mastered the wand?”
The raven-haired wizard took a deep breath as he continued. “King told me that Riddle’s old wand was found during the searches and mopping-up operations after the Battle of Hogwarts. The problem is the records don’t show where it was found. However, we do know that Riddle didn’t trade wands with Lucius.” Harry sighed. “Smith filled in the missing pieces. Dolohov told him that Riddle had entrusted his old wand to Yaxley.”
Ron’s brow furrowed. “Why not Snape or that bitch LeStrange?”
“I’m at a loss,” Harry said. “I was hoping you could tell me.”
Ron pondered it for a moment. “Well, from what Hermione’s put on my reading list, it seems that most people like Riddle are always suspicious of their followers and prefer at least some level of infighting and mistrust among their minions. Keeps them from rising up against their leader. Most likely, Riddle didn’t want to heap too many accolades on any single person. LeStrange was still in disgrace after the Battle of the Department of Mysteries; however, Snape was riding high.” Ron left unsaid the reason for that, much to Harry’s relief. “Riddle probably didn’t want to overly praise him with such an ‘honor.’ So, yeah mate, Yaxley makes sense. He was head of DMLE at the time, so he had to be well within Riddle’s favor, even if he wasn’t a ‘golden boy’ like the greasy git.”
Harry could only shake his head in awe. “And yet you barely made it through Hogwarts. Mate, when you say things like that, I wonder if Hermione really is the brains in your relationship.”
Ron rolled his eyes. “Please, I’m just a simple git who plays chess fairly well; that’s all.”
Harry rested his hand on Ron’s shoulder. “If we do manage to live through this Guerilla War, it’ll be because of you, brother. When the Death Eaters made you Undesirable Number Two, they underestimated you.”
Ron really didn’t know what to say to that, so he ignored it. “Back to the point; wouldn’t it have changed loyalties once you disarmed Malfoy, like the Elder Wand did?”
“Not necessarily,” Harry answered. “From what Hermione told me, murdering a wand’s master…”
“You didn’t ‘murder’ Riddle, Harry,” Ron interrupted.
“Don’t mince words.”
“I’m not,” Ron answered somberly. “You don’t ‘murder’ a mad dog. You ‘put him down.’ It’s a mercy. It’s also justice.” Ron turned on Harry, a fierce look in his eyes. “What Mum did to that bitch LeStrange, what you did to Riddle, what I did to Rowle and what Hermione did to Greyback…there’s no guilt in it. Ever.”
Harry sighed and slowly nodded. Leave it to that Weasley wisdom to make sense of the world. It amazed Harry how much alike Ron and his sister were when it came to this kind of thing. He let the thought pass as he continued. “A wand always needs a master. It’s just in its nature. If it’s lost in a duel it will cling to the victor. But, when a wand’s Magus dies, it becomes much more willing to adhere to whoever possesses it at the time if there’s no claim to it that’s stronger. When the owner entrusts a wand to another Magus, and then dies, it almost becomes like a bequest. As far as I’ve been able to figure it from what ‘Mione told me, when Riddle entrusted his wand to Yaxley it worked as a buffer that prevented me from mastering it, even though Riddle had acquired the Elder Wand before I properly claimed it and…’put him down..’ I think Yaxley had some idea that he could master it, but wasn’t sure until recently. That’s why he wasn’t using it when we dueled in the Archives. Anyway, he knows now. And so do I. In a situation like this, the wand will cling to whoever last truly possessed it, as long as they’re compatible, on some level. Apparently, Yaxley’s compatible.”
That seemed to strike Ron harder than Harry would’ve thought likely. But then, he realized that his best mate was obviously contemplating his fiancée’s wand. Harry fixed his eyes on his red-haired brother. “You still haven’t asked Hermione about why she kept LeStrange’s wand, have you?”
Ron shook his head. “No, mate, I haven’t.”
Ron shifted around, uncomfortably. “Well, at first, I was just too gobsmacked by it, but I knew she didn’t want to talk about it, so I let it go. As time went by, I could tell how well it worked for her, even though I wasn’t sure why, until now.” He shook his head. “I also knew she was purposely waiting for me to ask. After that…Dunno. I guess it’s just a throwback to how we used to treat each other. Don’t wanna give her the satisfaction of asking.”
Harry couldn’t hide his befuddled grin. “Gin thinks you two will make a fine couple, if you don’t kill each other first. Did you know that?”
Ron snorted. “No, I didn’t. But it doesn’t surprise me…I love Hermione, mate. You know that. But I plan on saving the wand question for the right moment. I’ll ask her about it when I know I really need to buy some time to deal with a first rate cock-up.”
“You two are hopeless.”
Ron shot Harry a smile. “It took you this long to figure that out? Some Auror you are.”
Harry laughed. “Well, this Auror’s hungry. How’s about we let your mum make us breakfast before I try to kill you with my new spell.”
“With an offer like that…”
The two Aurors walked the rest of the way up to the kitchen door of the Burrow.
“Molly, I really can’t eat another bite,” Harry protested as she put more eggs on his plate. He was on his third helping; Ron was on his fourth.
“You’re practicing this morning, aren’t you?” she asked.
“Yes ma’am,” Harry responded.
“Then you have to eat. Don’t argue.”
Ron just shook his head as Harry smiled. “Yes, Molly.”
“That’s better.” She patted him on the head.
“Harry’s thought up a new spell we’re gonna work on. I’m his practice dummy,” Ron said through a full mouth.
“Don’t talk with your mouth full.”
Ron swallowed. “Sorry.”
Molly just shook her head. “Practice dummy? Order of Merlin First Class, a celebrated Auror, and today you’re a…”
“Target,” Ron finished.
Molly looked at the two Aurors and bit her lip.
Harry set down his fork. “Hermione helped with the spell, so it shouldn’t be a problem, Molly. I promise.”
She shook her head, knowing that, at this stage of their lives trying to dissuade them would get her no where. “Just the same, I’ll have my emergency Portkey to St. Mungo’s on the counter.”
“Thanks, Molly,” Harry said.
“And, Harry dear, you and Ginny are engaged now, so…” She hesitated for just a moment. “If you’d like to, I’d be pleased if you called me Mum.”
Harry stopped mid-bite.
Molly’s breath caught. “If you’re uncomfortable with that, I completely understand. I never meant to suggest I’d replace you’re mother, it’s just I had this same talk with Hermione a few days ago and…”
“Mum,” Harry interrupted, “I…” He came out of his chair and hugged her, fiercely.
Ron grinned at them. “I think he’s okay with it.”
Molly shot a watery smile at Ron as she patted Harry’s back. Then they broke apart. She stood and turned quickly to the stove, trying to hide that she was dabbing at her eyes with her apron.
AN: I do not own Harry Potter. The toys belong to JKR; she just lets us play with them.
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