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Harry Potter and the Conspiracy of Blood by CambAngst
Chapter 12 : Searching for Answers
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 21


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I'd like to offer another big thank you to my readers and reviewers. Your input continues to make this story better. Ongoing special thanks to my beta reader, sophie_hatter. If you're not reading her story Evolution (M), you're missing out!


As always, the characters herein belong to JK Rowling.






Harry strolled into the Ministry atrium shortly before eight o’clock on Saturday morning. The Ministerial Security guards barely noticed him as he passed their checkpoint. It was commonplace for Aurors to come and go at odd hours. The Atrium felt strange to him when it was quiet and empty. He preferred the low buzz of hundreds of anonymous voices to the echoes of his own footsteps off the marble walls. He passed the spot where Voldemort and Dumbledore had dueled to a draw at the end of the battle in the Department of Mysteries. Fifty years later, it still set his nerves on edge recalling how many people barely survived that day, as well as one man who did not.


There were only two Aurors in the office, both quietly doing paperwork at their desks. They greeted him as he passed, but otherwise paid little attention. He stepped into his office and took off his cloak, hanging it behind the door. He pulled a pair of baggy, green coveralls out of the inside pocket and quickly pulled them on over his weathered jeans and jumper. Harry opened the door just a crack and peeked into the hallway, making sure that the coast was clear. He turned on the lights and the wireless in his office and then disillusioned himself before stepping outside and closing the door behind him. From there, he moved quickly and quietly out of the Auror office, taking care to avoid the vicinity of his subordinates.


Harry entered the nearest stairwell, eschewing the lifts. Moments later, Bixby Alstrom emerged from the stairwell four floors below, opposite the Minister’s offices. Bixby had been employed by Magical Maintenance for the past eleven years, gradually working his way up to a supervisory position in the plumbing shop. He was a quiet man who tended to avoid the main hallways of the Ministry in favor of service corridors and crawl-ways. Most of the regular staffers found it difficult to get more than two words out of him.


Bixby also had a secret. He used his position in Maintenance to spy on the Deputy Minister of Magical Games and Sports and her staff. He would enter their offices under the guise of looking for a noisy pipe or a leak that always seemed to affect the floors above or below. Then he would eavesdrop or peek over shoulders to learn about signings and trades among the leading professional Quidditch squads in Britain and abroad. On this very morning, Bixby was delivering a hot tip on a pending trade between Falmouth and Puddlemore to his patron, a wealthy pub owner in Devonshire who also ran an illicit gambling ring. Ron had volunteered to take the surveillance shift of a very surprised and happy young Auror who had been assigned to shadow Bixby for the day, just to make sure that he remained far from the Ministry.


Using polyjuice potion to assume Bixby’s appearance, Harry started to unlock the outer doors of the Minister’s office suite with a key that Reg Cattermole had conveniently forgotten to turn in on the day of his retirement. The door turned out to be unlocked, however. He wandered into the office, acting very interested in the edge of the ceiling that ran along the wall on the left hand side of the hallway.


“May I help you?”


Harry pretended to be startled by the voice of the Minister’s personal secretary. She sat at a large oak desk in a workspace just outside of the Minister’s cavernous office. She was reviewing the morning editions of the Daily Prophet, the Quibbler and several other periodicals, jotting down notes on the day’s major stories. Harry had always wondered where the Minister found time to stay so well informed.


“Um, no,” Harry mumbled, staying in character. He looked at her for just a moment before looking back up at the ceiling.


“Are you looking for something in particular?” she persisted.


“Noisy pipe,” Harry muttered. “Magical Transportation complained.”


“Well, we haven’t heard anything,” she replied. “You’re Bixby, right?”


“Yes, madam,” he replied, still shuffling along without meeting her gaze. “What’s down there?” he asked, gesturing towards the Minister’s file room.


“The file room,” she answered testily. “You can’t go in there. It’s a secure area.”


“We think there’s gaddocks in the pipes. Could cause a rupture if we don’t get ‘em out.”


“Gaddocks? What’s a gaddock?” she asked, growing increasingly irate.


“Old Hagrid always taught they were related to doxies,” Harry replied, starting to enjoy himself. In his opinion, Ms. Dynt took a little too much pleaure in watching the Minister frustrate and undermine his subordinates. She had a habit of asking people to repeat their least flattering statements for the minutes she recorded in meetings. Torquing her was fun.


“Doxies? What do doxies have to do with pipes?”


“Nothing. They’re just related. I need to get into that room. Get the little buggers out before the pipes burst,” Harry warned.


“Oh, alright,” she replied in exasperation. “But I must accompany you.”


“That’s OK,” Harry mumbled. “If a gaddock gets out, you can help me grab it.” He reached into the back pocket of his coveralls and pulled out a grimy pair of leather work gloves. She recoiled as he offered them to her.


“That’s quite alright. The Minister needs this report before his morning press conference. If I just let you in there, do you think you can be quick about it?”


“Shouldn’t take more than twenty minutes. Less if the gaddocks aren’t in their mating season. They bite something fierce when they’re in heat. Leave a red welt about so big,” Harry made a circle with his fingers the size of a tea saucer.


“Well whatever you do, don’t let them get out!” she huffed. “This is the Minister’s office. We can’t have gaddocks zipping about, biting people.”


Harry shuffled down the hall, still staring at the ceiling. Ms. Dynt followed a short distance behind, trying and failing to see for herself what he was looking for. She pulled a tiny set of keys from somewhere inside her prim, tight-fitting trouser suit and pointed her wand at one, enlarging it. She unlocked the door to the file room and peered warily around the corner as Harry shuffled in and began pulling random spanners and screwdrivers out of his pockets. “Let me know as soon as you’re finished,” she said, pulling the door closed behind him.


Harry quickly went to work. He selected two of the spanners and enchanted them, setting them lightly tapping an exposed sprinkler pipe that ran along the edge of the ceiling. He placed a Sneakoscope on a counter near the door. The device glowed dimly, but did not spin or whistle. Harry interpreted that to mean that Ms. Dynt was listening from her desk, not paying particularly close attention.


He lit his wand and began searching the labels on the file cabinet drawers. Four years ago, after the trial, the Minister had ordered the case files on the murder of Edwin Stoops to be sealed and removed from the Auror office. By virtue of the connection, much of the file on Ginny’s murder had also been taken. Like most things the Minister did to undermine Harry’s authority, he had called it a “favor” to the Auror office. It would prevent any accusation of retaliation against the prosecutors and investigators involved in the trial.


He found what appeared to be the correct cabinet and pulled gently one one of the drawers. As he expected, it was locked. A quick revealing charm also confirmed his suspicion that the cabinet was enchanted to raise an alert if anyone tried to use an unlocking charm on it. Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of spring steel picks. Even though Mundungus Fletcher had been a sniveling, cowardly little git, Harry had learned one or two useful things from him. The lock was of a common, older design and it took him less than a minute to jimmy it open. Sometimes the muggle approach to problems delivered better results than anything he could do with his wand. He rifled through the files and found the one he was looking for. It was several inches thick and crammed full of photographs and documents. He set it on the top of the file cabinet.
 

Geminio. Harry silently created a duplicate of the file, then placed the original back in the drawer. He shrunk the duplicate so that it fit in the palm of his hand and wrapped it in a handkerchief before slipping it into his pocket. It took a bit longer to relock the drawer with the picks and by the time he was done, he noticed that the Sneakoscope was glowing more brightly. Ms. Dynt was probably wondering what was taking him so long. It was time to put on a small show for her benefit.
 

Harry pulled a leather bag out of a different pocket. The bag squirmed and wiggled, courtesy of a pair of very upset doxies it contained. Harry formed a loose image of a cod in his mind and transfigured the contents of the bag. Gesturing with his wand, he made the spanners apply three particularly loud smacks to the pipe, then he let out a loud yelp as the spanners fell to the floor. He fired some stunning spells around the room, letting them ricochet off of the walls and ceiling. The Sneakoscope was shining brightly and spinning like a top. Only the silencing charm was keeping it from whistling like a tea kettle. He pocketed the device, let out a few choice words of profanity, and fired two stunning spells at the leather bag.
 

As he expected, Ms. Dynt was waiting outside the door when he opened it. “Did you get them?” she asked.
 

Harry held up the leather bag and dumped the two stunned doxies into the palm of his hand. His hasty transfiguration had made them just barely recognizable, turning their fur into scales and adding webbed flippers to their arms and legs. Fortunately, she didn’t look very closely before turning away in disgust. Harry shrugged and put the doxies back in the bag. “I’ll need a second to grab my tools.” He picked up the spanners and screwdrivers and slid them back into his pockets, then he shuffled out of the room.
 

“Be sure to call us if you hear any more noises,” he mumbled as she locked the door behind him. “Sometimes the little ones hide while the adults come out to fight.”
 

She didn’t dignify him with any sort of response as he exited the Minister’s suite. He made his way back to the staircase and closed the door behind him. Moments later, Harry emerged near the Auror office, sputtering softly. The antidote for polyjuice potion was considered to be one of the more significant discoveries that potioneers had made in the past twenty years, but the stuff tasted even worse than the actual potion. He disillusioned himself and slipped back inside, listening intently for any hint of movement. After taking a circuitous route back to his door, he quietly entered and breathed a sigh of relief. Everything was undisturbed. He pulled the enchanted mirror from his pocket and called Ron’s name. A few seconds later, Ron’s eyes appeared in the mirror.
 

“Got it,” was all he said. Ron nodded in acknowledgement and the mirror went blank.
 





Hermione listened to the sounds of water falling over the edge of the small fountain on the table beside her. Her pulse slowed as she took long, deep breaths. She tried to clear her mind of thoughts, focusing solely on the gently lapping noises. Recalling the teachings of an ancient Zen philosopher, she endeavored to put her mind at peace. Peace led to serenity. Serenity led to acceptance. Acceptance led to growth.


She opened her eyes and looked at the chair sitting on the floor in front of her, trying to see it for what it was. A simple object composed of wood and leather, held together with nails and thread. It had no significance beyond that. It was merely a thing, without deeper meaning. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.


“Go ahead,” she said.


Rose pointed her wand at the chair and began the transfiguration. The back became thinner and straighter as the bottom receded upwards towards the seat. The wooden frame of the chair turned to steel and handles extended from the back. Large, spoked wheels sprouted from the sides and descended towards the floor as they grew. They were followed by smaller wheels that turned on pivots near the front. After a few moments, the simple wheelchair sat in front of Hermione. She stared at it, trying to maintain the separation between object and symbol, form and feeling.


“Are you ready?” Hugo asked.


“Yes,” Hermione responded, closing her eyes and drawing another deep breath. Her son and daughter moved to either side of the chair she was sitting in. She felt their hands slide behind her back and her hips shift as their their opposite hands slid beneath her unfeeling thighs. The first notes of anxiety began to invade her mind, and she fought to drive them back. They lifted her into the air and slowly rotated so that her back faced the transfigured chair. Slowly, gently, they lowered her into it.


As their arms slipped from behind her, she felt the leather back of the chair against her shoulders and her skin began to crawl. The arms of the chair seemed to close in on her, like the bony fingers of a monstrous hand. Her breaths began to come shorter and faster as she struggled to maintain control. Her face screwed up in a mask of anxiety and effort. The muscles in her back tensed and she involuntarily leaned forward.


“Mum. Mum! Are you OK?” Hugo was calling to her, but his voice sounded flat and lifeless, as though it was coming from the wireless. The walls of the room were closing in. Her field of view narrowed to the comfortable leather chair in front of her. Safety was so close, yet impossibly far away.


Cripple! the little girl’s voice shrieked inside her head again.


“Mum!”


She realized that she was on the floor. Rose’s arms were wrapped around her shoulders. Every inch of her body felt damp and clammy. The wheelchair lay overturned on the floor beside them, a horrible reminder of the peace that she could not find. She pressed her face into the crook of her daughter’s neck and cried.






Scorpius hurried down the path away from Dominique’s London townhouse. He had just dropped Octavia off to spend the day with her cousin Calliope, and he was running late as usual. As soon as he reached the pavement he took a quick look around for muggles and disapparated on the spot. He appeared in front of the gates of the Greengrass estate, which immediately swung open.


“You’ve very nearly late,” the cherub said without the slightest hint of decorum.


“I know, I know,” he muttered as he trotted towards the front door. The leather buggy whip hanging on the wall was already glowing with a faint blue light when he entered the house. The instant he touched it, he felt the unpleasant sensation of having his body pulled through his belly button into a whirling, twisting tunnel of confusion and nausea. The next instant he tumbled into a snowbank in the Swiss Alps. His father was waiting for him as he stood up and tried to dust the snow off of his cloak.


“You’re late,” Draco said bluntly.


“Yeah, that’s what Grandfather’s gate was saying,” Scorpius retorted. “It’s not easy getting a six-year-old girl ready to go out for the day, you know. We auditioned at least five outfits and it took her twenty minutes to decide what books and toys to bring. You’d swear her cousin didn’t own anything.”


“Cousin?” Draco replied. “Where’s her mother?”


“She and Hugo are helping their mum out. She can’t move her legs since the attack on the Ministry.”


Draco stared at his son for a second. His expression was unreadable. “I hadn’t heard that.”


“The healers are still hoping that they can make her better, but Rose says it doesn’t look good,” Scorpius explained. “The curse she was hit with is some kind of ancient dark magic. Not even Dumbledore’s protrait had heard of it.”


Draco shifted his gaze ever so slightly. The former headmaster was still an uncomfortable topic. “I think that’s all the more reason that you should bring Rose and Octavia here until Potter and the Aurors catch whoever’s responsible for this madness.”


Scorpius rolled his eyes. “Father, we discussed this before you left. With Rose’s mum in the shape she’s in, there’s no way she’d be willing to leave home right now.”


“Then you should at least send Octavia,” his father pressed. “With you always traveling for that wretched job of yours, I never know who’s keeping an eye on my granddaughter. She would be safe here.”


“Wretched?” Scorpius replied, deliberately dodging the question. “Father, I’m the head of merchandising for the top-ranked team in the British professional Quidditch league.”


“Yes, yes, your ancestors are doubtless spinning in their graves,” Draco sighed, “but that’s not my point and you know it.”


Scorpius fixed his father with a withering gaze which was returned in kind. Neither spoke for a long moment. Scorpius was surprised that his father finally broke the impasse. He had spent most of his life losing staring contests to the old man.


“Scorpius, listen to me,” Draco said in an uncharacteristically quiet voice. “Your mother and I, we’ve seen this happen once already. Before you were born, before the war. This is how it all started. I know you can’t possibly understand what it was like, but you need to realize that witches and wizards died by the hundreds, especially those that opposed the Dark Lord. It doesn’t matter whether they were right or wrong to do so, the point is that they’re dead. I can’t let that happen to you and your family. Knowing what I know, I couldn’t live with myself.”


Two generations of grey eyes met. “Please, son. Don’t let pride or your faith in Potter blind you to the truth. He can’t protect everyone, everywhere, all the time. Send her here to us, where she’s out of harm’s way.”


Scorpius considered his father’s plea. There was wisdom in his words, to be sure. But he couldn’t help thinking about his nieces and nephew, as well as all of their cousins. Al’s family had taken him in at a time in his life when he barely knew who he was, when his father’s talk of pure-blood superiority began to ring hollow and everything that he thought he knew began to come apart before his eyes. Then he met Rose and fell in love with her. And then she dumped him. And then they fell in love again and he cheated on her. And then they fell in love again and...


He shook his head slightly, trying to remember where his whole train of thought had been heading. Regardless, spiriting Octavia away to Switzerland while the rest of the family stayed behind to look out for one another felt like a cop-out. In fairness, he decided that he should at least pose the question to his wife so that she could shout at him and bury the idea once and for all. Being in love was complicated.


“I’ll talk about it with Rose,” he said, studying his father’s reaction. The old man wasn’t stupid. He knew what that meant.


“Very well. Lunch should be ready by now and your grandparents are eager to see you. Let’s go inside.”


Scorpius brushed the last of the snow from his cloak and prepared himself to be badgered by the entire family until his portkey back to London left in two hours.






Hermione spent Sunday morning buried in her work, trying to keep her mind off of her paralysis. She had fallen behind on all of her projects, not that anyone could blame her under the circumstances. The fact that she could not get her brain to agree to let her body sit in a wheelchair meant that whatever work she was going to do would be done from home, so she decided to throw herself into it right away. She diligently worked her way through a towering stack of manila file folders that her secretary had dropped off the previous day.


As she reviewed more and more of the case files, she began to notice a disturbing trend. It started with the Egyptian treaty she had been revising on the day of the attack. The British Ministry had simply conceded to the Egyptian negotiators and gutted the entire section on the rights of muggle-born witches and wizards. The notes attached to the revision glossed over the reasoning, but a quick review of the other changes made it obvious. Somebody had wanted the treaty done quickly and traded away her negotiating points to make it happen.


After completing a scathing memo on the new treaty, she began looking through her various legislative initiatives to grant new legal protections to the muggle-born. She wasn’t surprised to see that no progress had been made in her absence, but she was shocked to discover that the hearings she had scheduled before the Wizengamot had been removed from the docket. By the time she reached the bottom of the stack of files, her sense of righteous indignation was completely back to normal.


“Ronald?” she called to her husband. He appeared in the doorway to her study carrying a stack of parchment in a manila folder. “Do you know what they’ve been doing in the office while I was out?”


“Not a clue,” he mumbled, bracing himself. With Hermione back at home, he had now enjoyed two consecutive nights of restful sleep. He was feeling almost like himself again. That was good because the way her eyes flashed with anger made it clear that he was about to get an earful.


“I’ll tell you what,” she continued as her voice rose with emotion. “They’ve been pushing all of our work on improving the rights of muggle-born witches and wizards straight to the back of the queue. They’ve canceled every hearing before the Wizengamot and reassigned every last staffer to other cases. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear it was being done on purpose!”


“Who’s they?” he asked, flipping to the next page.


Hermione paused to consider the question. “I really don’t know,” she replied, momentarily losing her momentum. She recovered quickly, however. “I mean to find out, though, as soon as I can get back into the office. I think I should try the chair again before lunch.”


Her last statement caused Ron to immediately lose interest in what he was reading. “Are you sure you want to try again so soon?” he asked. “Hugo said that yesterday you tried dissociation therapy, zen meditation, accupressure and... I forget what he called the other thing, but did you really dress the chair up like a tricycle?”


“Well I needed it to be non-threatening,” she explained a bit sheepishly.


“From what he said, none of that worked,” Ron replied. “Do you really want to keep torturing yourself like this?”


“Ron, I have to get past this. I can’t spend the rest of my life having someone carry me from chair to chair.”


“I kind of like carrying you around,” Ron responded with a sly grin. “This way, I always know where to find you.” The look in her eyes took the cheekiness off of his face as surely as if she’d slapped him. “Um, did you try levitating your chair again?” he mumbled, trying to recover.


“Several times,” she sighed. “As soon as the chair shakes or wobbles a bit, I get nervous and start to lose control. I’m not sure how you and Harry do it.”


Ron decided that it would be a bad time to remind her that part of their Auror training had involved balancing on a hubcap and levitating it across a muggle motorway while maintaining a disillusionment charm. “With some practice, I think you’d get the hang of it. It’s a bit like riding a broom.”


“Which I’m also not good at,” she reminded him. “I just have an awful sense of balance.”


Ron knelt next to her chair and kissed her forehead. “You’re pushing yourself awfully hard, love. You only left St. Mungo’s two days ago. If you ease up a little bit and take some pressure off of yourself, maybe it’ll help you figure things out.”


She smiled lovingly at her husband. “Ronald, when have you ever known me to ease up when I have a problem to solve?”


“Never,” he admitted.


“And I can’t do it now. Everybody needs me. You, Harry, the kids, my work... everyone is suffering because of my mental block. I’ve got to beat this.”


In his mind, Ron thought of a hundred responses. But the need in her eyes silenced them all.


“Well, if you really want to help Harry and me,” he began tentatively, “then there’s something here you can help me read.”


She looked at him with a mix of eagerness and suspicion. “Harry gave it to me after I finished my surveillance shift yesterday,” Ron went on. “I know he’d like to have your help with it, but he was worried about pushing you too hard.”


“I’m touched, but I’m sitting here losing my mind. Please, push me.”


“OK,” Ron said, “but I have to warn you that he didn’t exactly come into these files in a way that would reflect positively on an officer of the Department of Magical Law.”


His warning seemed to confirm her suspicions. “What are you reading, Ronald?”


“The case files from the Stoops murder investigation,” he replied, his expression somewhere between ashamed and defiant.


“The ones that the Minister ordered sealed after our trial?”


Ron nodded.


“You’re right, I do not want to know how he got his hands on these. Now please help me over to the sofa and let’s get started.”






Harry met Al at the front gates to Hogwarts and strolled up the path to the castle with his son. Al’s son Oliver had finally landed a starting spot on the Slytherin Quidditch team and he had begged them both to come see his first match against Ravenclaw.


As they made their way towards the pitch, Al seemed preoccupied. Finally, he asked, “So Dad, what have you found out about this New Blood Order? I’ve heard some of the rumors and they’re troubling.”


“Like what, for instance?” Harry replied, meeting the question with one of his own.


“Like that they’re well-organized and growing. And that a lot of the old, pure blood families who were ruined by the war are privately expressing support for their cause.” Al fixed his father with a meaningful look. “Also, that the Minister is paying very close attention and he’s starting to hedge his bets a little.”


Harry didn’t directly return his son’s stare. “That’s interesting. He hasn’t mentioned anything publicly.”


Al came to a stop in the middle of the path with an exasperated look on his face. “Dad, come off it.” Harry took another few steps, but realized that his son was drawing a line of sorts. He walked back and motioned for Al to follow him towards the lake.


“Will you please tell me what’s going on?” Al asked when they were out of earshot of the castle. “All our lives, we’ve heard the stories about how Lord Voldemort took control of the Ministry. You’ve gotta admit, there are similarities. We’re starting to get worried.”


“I’m still putting the pieces together,” Harry admitted, “but I don’t think this is like the war. There’s no powerful dark wizard pulling the strings this time as far as I can tell. And who’s ‘we’?”


“Well, I talked to Scorpius last night and his parents are putting huge pressure on him to move Rose and Octavia to Switzerland,” Al began. “Naturally Rose is having none of that, but she still thinks that there’s more going on than the Ministry is admitting. James is too oblivious to be worried, but Lil, Teddy, Vic, Dom, Louis, Hugo... everyone is starting to get concerned. We’d all feel a lot better if you and Uncle Ron would just tell us what’s really happening.”


Harry weighed his response carefully. “Son, I appreciate that you’re all paying attention. The sad truth is not many people are. I don’t think there’s any need for Rose and Scorpius to move to Switzerland, but Ron and I are keeping a close eye on things. If we see anything bad starting to happen, I promise we’ll act quickly.”


“Do you need help?” Al pressed. “Hugo and I both work at the Ministry and Lil has a lot of connections in the business world. Scorpius’s family still has friends among the pure bloods, at least his mother’s family does. You and Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione don’t have to do this all by yourself if things get tough.”


Harry studied his son, admiring the determination in his eyes. “Albus, I’m thrilled to see all of you pulling together and taking responsibility for keeping the family safe. Your mother would be very proud. But I also promised her that I would always do whatever I could to keep all of you safe. There’s a reason that your mother and I and all of your aunts and uncles risked our lives to stop Tom Riddle. It was so our children and grandchildren would never have to go through the horrible things that we did. So if we’re not in a huge hurry to involve the lot of you in a mess like this, please try to understand.”


“I know I would feel the same way about my kids,” Al replied. “But I’ve also heard Grandpa and Nanna let on to how incorrigible you all were in spite of their best efforts to protect you. So if our lot decides that we have to do whatever we can to keep everyone safe, including you, well, please try to understand.”


Father and son locked green eyes for a long moment. Even Harry was surprised when he found himself turning away first. “We better get moving and find seats before the match starts.”


They made their way back to the path and hurried to the entrance to the pitch. The stands were already filling up as the students filed in.


“You’ll be sitting in the Slytherin section, I presume?” Harry raised an eyebrow at his son.


“Naturally,” Al replied with a grin. “Care to join me? I promise we won’t bite.”


“Sorry, but I have to decline,” Harry returned the grin. “I might burst into flames.”


“I’ll see you after we win, then,” Al said matter-of-factly and then headed off towards the sea of green and silver to the left.


Harry started making his way towards the red and gold Gryffindor section on the opposite side. He was pleased to see that his old house still turned out in force to support whichever team was competing against the Slytherins. He noticed a shimmering, silvery hawk swooping towards him. Justin Finch-Fletchley’s patronus alighted on his shoulder and waited patiently. It had been charmed to deliver a private message for Harry’s ears only. Harry walked away from the crowd, finding a private spot on a walkway connecting two sections of the stands. He cast a muffliato charm and nodded towards the hawk.


“The muggles found Marcus Flint’s body in a rubbish bin in a London alley,” the hawk said in Justin’s voice. “He was killed by dark magic.”


The hawk dissipated into a silvery mist as Harry reversed the muffliato charm. Regrettably, he was going to have to miss the match. He needed to get his apologies to Al and Oliver before leaving the pitch, but old habits died hard and Merlin would shave from head to toe before he was going to set foot in the Slytherin section of the stands. A thought popped into his head and immediately brought a wicked little smile to his lips. Hermione would say that what he was about to do was very immature, but that only made him more convinced it was a good idea. He drew his wand and the silvery mist began to form in front of him. Moments later the silver stag bounded off and he hurried back towards the path to the front gates.


As he was walking away from the pitch, he heard the announcer’s voice booming throughout the stands.


I have just been handed a special message for Oliver Potter.Your grandfather has been called away on urgent business and sends his sincere regrets. He also sends his best wishes to the Gryffindor team for a brilliant season.


As the Slytherin section roared with boos and hisses, Al shook his head and grinned ruefully. He had to admit, the old man had style.


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