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Chapter 16 : Chapter 16
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“Harry, Ginny quickly, come and look.” Hermione looked scared. Harry and Ginny broke into a run. When they joined Hermione at the top of the hill, Ron was about a hundred yards away running at top speed towards his home. Harry stood disbelieving at the thing Hermione was pointing at.
There hovering over the Burrow was something that he had thought never to see again. The Dark Mark, Voldemort’s mark, usually indicating a place where somebody had been murdered.
“It can’t be! That’s impossible.” Harry said in amazement.
“Come on Harry” Ginny screamed as she set off, running for all she was worth. It wasn’t until later that they wondered why they hadn’t apparated. Rain had started to fall when Ron jumped the garden fence, wand in hand, screaming as loud as he could for his mother. Molly came to the door looking worried,
“Ron, what’s the matter? Is something wrong?”
“The Mark Mum, the Dark Mark. Is anyone hurt?” he stood panting and pointing to the sky.
“I am fine Ron, what are you talking about?” Molly was bewildered by Ron’s arrival in such a state.
“The Dark Mark Mum, look.” Molly looked up and gasped as Harry arrived followed shortly by the two girls.
“What’s going on?” asked Molly. Before anyone could answer, a loud double crack was heard as two people appeared in front of them. Harry, Ron and Ginny had their wands pointing at the new arrivals. They lowered them as Kingsley Shacklebolt came towards them, accompanied by another man that Harry recognised as a senior Auror from the Ministry by the name of Cobb.
“Is everyone alright?” asked Kingsley, staring at the sign over the house.
“Nobody is hurt Kingsley,” said Molly “but where has that come from? What is going on?” She was too bewildered to be properly scared. Everybody started talking at once. Kingsley took charge and got them all back into the house.
“Now let’s all calm down a bit. We got here so quickly because we can now detect the Dark Mark virtually as soon as it is cast. I want to introduce you to Mr. Jason Cobb, one of the most senior Aurors at the Ministry. Hands were shaken all round before Cobb spoke. He looked quite young to be in such an important post, he had thick dark hair, blue eyes and a solid, set jawbone. He cut a very handsome figure. When he spoke his Welsh heritage was revealed.
“My first task is to clear the air outside which I’ll do right now then I’ll need to speak to everybody. As the Minister has said already, please remain calm and collect your thoughts individually. I’ll be back shortly.” He turned to leave just as Arthur arrived. He was frantic but soon calmed down when he saw that everyone was well. There was little conversation while they waited for Cobb to return. Molly made coffee, Arthur preferred firewhisky. Cobb returned to the living room, accepted a drink from Arthur and made himself comfortable. “The mark is gone.” He took a drink before continuing, “Now then, to begin I want you all to know that this is the second such incident in the last month. The first was in Suffolk. We now believe that the Suffolk occurrence was perhaps, a trial run. No clues were found the first time and I don’t think we will find any here. When I have finished this interview I will need to check the area around the house out to about three hundred yards. That will take some time.”
“Do it from the air.” said Hermione. “That would save some time, wouldn’t it?”
“Yes it would, if someone has a broom I can borrow.”
“I’ve got a Firebolt.” Harry and Ginny spoke simultaneously.
“I’ve never ridden a Firebolt; I hope they are as good as people say.”
“They are. You can count on it.” said Harry.
“OK. It is our opinion that you are in no immediate danger and that whoever is doing this was a supporter of Voldemort, although not a prominent one. We thought we had accounted for them all but it appears we were wrong.” Cobb continued, “Their motives however are, for the time being, unclear. So, did anyone see, hear, or notice anything at all unusual before the appearance of the mark?”
Ron answered, “I don’t think any of us saw anything before we came to the top of the hill and that’s a long way off. The mark was already there. When I got here Mum knew nothing about it, did you Mum?”
“No, nothing at all, I’m afraid. I didn’t see or hear anything.”
“That’s pretty much what I expected; I’ll go and take a look around then leave you in peace.” He finished his drink and stood up.
“Would you mind if I joined you?” Harry asked Cobb,
“Not at all Mr. Potter, show me to my broom.”
They flew for about half an hour at slow speed about thirty feet off the ground when Jonas Cobb, carrying a small square box with a glass-domed top came to a hover over a hedge. “Down here Potter, let’s land well clear of the hedge so that we don’t disturb anything.” They touched down and approached the area Cobb had indicated. Harry looked at the box Cobb was using.
“How does that work Mr. Cobb?”
“It’s a Dark Magic Detector, it’s workings are too complex to explain now but the indicators will show an area where DM has been used.” Harry was watching the box. Visible through the dome was a circular design that looked like an open flower with long, thin petals spread equally around the centre. They were six feet from the gap in the hedge when the petals nearest the hedge started to curl towards the middle.
“That’s it, Potter. This is the spot where Dark Magic has been used. I got a small twitch as we flew over. Right then let’s have a good look around.” Harry started towards the hedge but was stopped by the Auror. “Eyes first Potter, always eyes first. You don’t want to go trampling any small clues.” He crouched down. “OK Mr. Potter, get down here and tell me what you see.” Harry did as he was asked and began to closely examine the ground and the base of the hedge.
“The grass has been trampled, and… is that a part of a footprint there in that patch of mud? There’s a small piece of paper in the hedge. That’s all I can see, have I missed anything?
“How many people would you say were here?” Cobb asked him casually. Harry looked again. Considering the area of trampled grass, Harry thought two, and explained why. Cobb disagreed, “I can see your reasoning, but I think it was only one and he or she was here for a long time. For two people I would expect the area to be slightly larger with a less damage between where the individuals were, so just the one. More than an hour probably, he or she would have been restless, moving around a lot. Now let’s get a little closer and get a good look at the footprint.”
They moved in and peered at the ground. “There’s no sole pattern or anything that I can see, hard even to judge the size so it’s not much help. Pick the paper up Potter, see if that can tell us anything.” Harry did so. The paper had a small crest on one side. Cobb examined it. “I don’t recognise that, do you Potter?”
“Yes actually I do. It’s a sweet wrapper from Honeydukes. As far as I know they only have two shops, the main one in Diagon Alley and a smaller one in Hogsmeade.”
“There is a third Potter, in Paris. Went there on my honeymoon and my wife has a sweet tooth. However, I think we can discount that one for the time being.”
“Why would they hang around for an hour Mr. Cobb, do you think they were waiting for something… or someone in particular?”
“Possibly, but I don’t think it would be a person. From this distance it would be difficult to see precisely who is coming and going. That, for the moment must remain a mystery.” he paused studying the area then said, “OK I think we’ve done all we can here. Race you around that copse and back to the Burrow.” Even riding Ginny’s Firebolt, Jason Cobb lost by a country mile.
Back in the house the Weasley family were being reassured by the Minister that there was no need to worry. The improved ability of the Aurors to track Dark Magic meant that they would quickly catch those responsible. Cobb quickly ascertained that nobody from the Burrow had been in the area in question eating Honeydukes sweets. The two visitors were preparing to leave when Harry addressed Mr. Cobb, “I hope to see you when I start my Auror training.”
“I’m afraid not Mr. Potter, I’m leaving the Ministry this summer.” Kingsley Shacklebolt cut in,
“We will be sorry to lose him, but he’s moving to a very important job, so we cannot stand in his way. You see, he is going to teach Defence Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts.” Hermione’s eyes lit up, unnoticed by anyone… except Ron.
“In that case I’ll see you there Mr. Cobb, I’m going back to do my NEWT year.” she said eagerly, too eagerly for Ron’s liking.
“I’ll look forward to seeing you when term starts Miss Granger.” After they had departed, Ron turned to Hermione who, he noticed, was blushing slightly.
“Fancy him do you? I could see you practically undressing him in your head.”
“I was not Ron,” Hermione tried to sound adamant, “but now that you’ve put the idea in my head I might give it a try.” Harry looked at a broadly smiling Ginny,
“You too?” he asked her,
“Took me about thirty seconds. Almost makes me wish that I was going back to school.” she laughed.
The inhabitants of the Burrow talked long into the night about the occurrence of that afternoon and of what sort of significance they should give it. Opinions ranged from ‘just some idiot ‘having a laugh’ to the emergence of a new Voldemort.
Harry disagreed with the last premise. Voldemort, he explained, had been a superb, for want of a better word, wizard whose personality had driven his ambition into evil. However his abilities and fascination with the dark side were known, at least by Dumbledore, from a very young age. Harry reasoned that if there was to be another Tom Riddle now, his identity would already be known because he could not possibly have achieved that level of ability without drawing attention to himself.
When they decided it was time for bed it was noticeable that Arthur made doubly sure that all the windows were closed, and prior to locking the door took a walk around the outside of the house. He did not know what he expected to find, but he was sure that it would make Molly feel better.
Harry felt the tension too, so much so that he searched through his school trunk until he found his Sneakoscope which he set up on his bedside table. He lay reading in bed when about thirty minutes later there was a soft tapping on his door. Without thinking he glanced at the silent Sneakoscope then silently chided himself for his stupidity. His door opened and a furtive Ginny crept in and slid into the bed beside him.
“Ginny, what on earth are you doing, have you gone nuts?” he whispered,
“I’m scared Harry. I can’t sleep and the more I thought about today the more scared I became. Don’t worry I’m not stopping long. I may be scared but I haven’t gone crazy. I just want to talk for a couple of minutes.” She did just that. Harry reassured her as best as he could, but also warned her that complacency was dangerous.
“The Ministry seems to be on top of it so we should take our lead from them.”
“I’m sure you’re right Harry, I feel better now. I think I should go.” Harry convinced her to stay, not with words but by nibbling her ear, kissing her neck. She turned to him and they kissed. Tongues slid over and under each other, hands started to wander. In no time at all they were naked and breathing heavily. The bed was too creaky for them to risk going the whole hog. They would have had to make do with hands and mouths if they stayed on the bed, so they moved the duvet to the floor and lay on top of that. Carpet burns would be a dead giveaway. Harry had to whisper a swift ‘Muffliato’ as Ginny twisted and moaned under his lovemaking. After they had done the deed to their mutual satisfaction they lay facing one another. Ginny whispered “I only came in for a two minute talk, what the hell happened?”
“Well, we did only talk for two minutes.” He replied quietly, getting back into bed.
“Why oh why, did I have to fall in love with a git? I’d better go.” She pulled the duvet off Harry, he was lying on her nightdress and refused to move until she pointed out that he was naked and so emasculation would be relatively easy. She slipped the garment over her head, bent down to kiss him. “See you later babe.” Even as she spoke they heard someone in the passage.
Ginny held her breath, her heart pounding. She glanced at Harry and saw he had his hand clapped over his mouth to suppress the laugh that was trying to burst out of him. She dug her fingers in his ribs, and tiptoed across the room, pressed her ear to the door and listened carefully in time to hear a bedroom door closing. She waited for a whole minute before deciding it was safe to move. Blowing Harry a kiss she eased out through to the hallway.
It was as she silently closed the door to her room that she remembered that she had been wearing panties before, but wasn’t now. Hmm, she thought to herself, perhaps I should try to fix it so that Mum has to tidy his room tomorrow and let her find them. Then, if asked, I am outraged and deny they’re mine and let Harry explain what he’s doing with a pair of girl’s knickers in his bed. She knew she wouldn’t do it, but she was tempted. Oh, so tempted.
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