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Chapter 17 : Chapter 17
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An owl from the Ministry arrived early the next morning with a letter from Jason Cobb. He requested Harry to come to the Ministry soon as possible, there had been developments in the case of the Dark Mark. Harry had a quick breakfast and set off for the Ministry. He crossed the atrium, walked past the newly restored Fountain of Magical Brethren to the registration desk where his wand was weighed and he was issued with a temporary identification card. The clerk directed him to Cobb’s office on the third floor.
“Ah, Potter, come in, have a seat. There’s coffee on the sideboard there, help yourself. I’ll be right with you.” Harry got a cup of coffee and sat opposite Cobb, who was writing something on a parchment. When he had finished he turned his attention to Harry.
“What developments have there been Mr. Cobb?” Harry asked. He was genuinely curious. “Have you discovered who it was?”
“No, not yet, and it’s possible that we are now looking for more than one person. Two hours after the Dark Mark was cast at the Burrow two other occurrences took place at roughly ten minute intervals. The reason you are here is that the other two incidents occurred at places that also have connections to you. The first was at your relative’s house in Little Whinging, and the other at Grimmauld Place in London. The obliviators have been busy at both locations. Your relatives and all other Muggles involved are fine and of course now have no memory of the incidents. Mrs. Figg, I believe you know her Potter, was very helpful. Such a shame that she has no magic, because she is far more intelligent than her appearance would have you believe.”
“I think so too,” Harry agreed, “so does this mean that the situation is more serious than you thought?”
“We always took it seriously Potter, but the answer to your question is yes.”
“So what do we do about it?” If the Ministry was worried, then so was Harry.
“The first thing we should do is to move you back to Grimmauld Place for the time being, so that you are close to the Ministry. You need not confine yourself to the house; we will have a close watch on you at all times. How do you feel about that?”
“Well, I wish it wasn’t necessary, but okay. Should I come alone?”
“I think it would be best, our resources are not unlimited you know.”
“I’ll move up tomorrow if that’s alright.” Harry’s mind was in a bit of turmoil.
“Fine. Get yourself settled and come in again tomorrow. I’ll have a permanent pass for you so you won’t have to keep checking in, it will be at the desk when you get here.”
Harry returned to the Burrow and broke the news. Everyone was concerned for his safety and while they were upset, they knew it was for the best. Harry finally found a few minutes alone with Ginny. She was not happy.
“It’s like Dumbledore’s funeral all over again. We’re being separated, just like before.” She said miserably.
“I know, I don’t like it any more than you, but as I told you, I think we should let the Ministry handle things.”
“How long this time, do you think?” she asked cuddling into his arms. He kissed her forehead softly.
“As short as I can make it. Although y’know… thinking about it, I’m not in prison, perhaps you could come to London at weekends.” Immediately her mood brightened,
“I’d like that Harry, you could show me around.” Ginny’s eyes lit up; maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as she had feared. “And we could…”
“Take a break?”
“Yeah, lots of breaks.” She giggled.
“I suppose I’ll have to clear it with Cobb, but I don’t see why there should be a problem. I’ll ask him tomorrow.” They told the rest of the family their plans and Harry was quietly annoyed when they all thought it was a good idea and said that they would like to come too. He could not think of a polite objection that would stop them.
Harry moved back to Grimmauld place that evening. He spent the next morning getting settled before going back to the Ministry. Harry was pleased when Cobb raised no objection to his weekend plans. Cobb told Harry that he had sent the sweet paper to Honeydukes. They had found some residue and had identified the confectionary as a mint and double garlic toffee. It was not one of their biggest selling lines. I wonder why? Harry thought to himself. Their last recorded sale had been two weeks before in Diagon Alley. The two of them had gone to the shop and spoken to the assistant who had made the sale. She remembered because two sales on the same day, within a couple of hours, was unusual.
One sale was to a young man with dark hair and eyes, and one to a blonde girl aged nine or ten. Neither description was particularly helpful until Mrs. Figg said that she had seen a young blonde girl in the vicinity of Privet Drive in the hours before the mark appeared. “There are quite a lot of young, blonde girls around, Mr. Cobb; it’s probably just a coincidence. We should concentrate on the man.” Harry stated his opinion.
“We will be looking primarily for the man, Potter, but we are not going to forget the little girl entirely. The descriptions could fit a lot of people so we really need more clues. Honeydukes has been instructed to notify us immediately if the man or the girl turns up there again, but not to do anything that will alarm them.” Cobb leaned back in his chair. Harry pondered for a moment,
“Am I right in thinking that the Dark Mark can only be cast by a fully fledged Death Eater with the brand on the arm, Mr. Cobb?”
“As far as I know, all the known casters have had that, for want of a better word, distinction. Whether or not it is a requirement for casting the Dark Mark, I do not know. I’ll get the Aurors Office to look into that first thing on Monday.”
“A ten year old couldn’t do it, I’m pretty certain about that.” said Harry.
“You’re probably right Potter, you’re probably right, but now it’s the weekend. Off you go, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
“I’ll see you on Monday sir.” Harry returned to Grimmauld Place and was happy to find Ginny waiting, not so happy to see Hermione, Ron and his mother. ‘Get over it’ he told himself. They had a nice Shepherds Pie made by Kreacher for dinner. Arthur Weasley had joined them. After dinner Harry had brought them up to date on the situation. Nobody had any fresh ideas, so they just relaxed. Exploding Snap and Wizards Chess filled the rest of the evening.
The four of them had a slow, easy start to the next day and after a leisurely lunch went out to stroll through the streets of London. The weather was nice. Bright and sunny, although the air was cool, verging on cold. They wandered into one of the many street markets of the capital city. Ginny and Ron found the variety of stalls fascinating; clothes, different types of exotic foods from the Caribbean, Africa and Asia, jewellery and ‘genuine antiques’ most of which were probably younger than they were. They had brought Muggle money with them and Ron had bought some especially garish tee shirts, the girls had bought a few items too. Ginny had a T-shirt with archetypal witch printed on it. Pointed hat, prominent chin and large warty nose, riding a suspiciously phallus like broom. The legend read ‘Witches do it in short spells.’ As they strolled along they passed a tattoo parlour. They looked at the weird and colourful display for a few moments and then Harry started to walk away until Hermione stopped him.
“Harry,” she said urgently, “look at this. I don’t believe it.” Harry turned back followed by Ginny and Ron.
“What is it?” His eyes followed Hermione’s pointing finger to a small picture of a tattoo low down in a corner of the window. He could not believe what he saw. “Good God,” he exclaimed “it’s the Dark Mark… but… how the hell did it get here?” They were all shaken by the discovery and over a cup of coffee in a nearby café they discussed what they’d seen. “It was definitely the Dark Mark, wasn’t it?” Harry began.
“Yes it was Harry; the question is, as you said, how did it get there?” Hermione at least was convinced.
“There were some pretty weird designs on display, could it just be a coincidence, do you think?” Asked Ron.
“A pretty huge coincidence Ron, too huge in my opinion.” Hermione stated firmly “It’s too perfect a copy to be accidental, it has to be deliberate.” Harry interrupted,
“I agree, so what do we do about it?” Nobody spoke for a while. Then Ginny said simply,
“We go and ask where they got the design from. Easy.” She stood suddenly, “You three wait here, be back in a minute.” Over the protests of the others she set off back to the shop. Entering the small poorly lit establishment she looked casually around the walls, unable to believe that some people had these designs permanently fixed into their skin. She found what she was looking for, a copy of the Dark Mark in the window. Calling to the man behind the counter she waited for him to join her. “I think I saw this picture somewhere a long time ago. Do you get many requests for it?” She was intrigued by the man’s reply.
“No, it’s a new one for us, a bloke brought in it a few weeks ago, drew it himself apparently. We bought it off him for fifty quid, cash. Do you want one?”
“Not now thanks, I’m still trying to pluck up the courage to have a tattoo. What was he like, this guy; I think I may know him.”
“Tallish, heavyset, looked a bit thick to be honest. Good drawing though, even if he didn’t look the artistic type.”
“Do you remember his name?” Ginny was nervous about asking so many questions, she did not want to make him wonder why she was being so persistent.
“No, sorry but we do get a lot of customers. Can’t remember one out of so many.”
“Was he alone?” She was hoping he might have had a blonde girl with him.
“Yeah, I think so. Didn’t notice anyone else.” Disappointed, she decided not to press it further and appear too curious and so turned to leave the shop saying,
“Well thanks anyway. I might come back if I ever find the guts to get a tattoo.” She went back to the café and told Harry, Ron and Hermione what she had discovered. They were unsure what to make of it, it might be a clue or, however improbable, just a coincidence. Harry would tell Cobb obviously, he was curious about the reaction his news would get.
On Monday morning Harry was slightly disappointed by Cobb’s reaction. While he was interested, he did not display the excitement or enthusiasm Harry was hoping for. Cobb explained, “It’s an interesting development Potter, but it doesn’t really move us forward a lot. It’s another location to be checked out but we are no closer to an identity for the suspect. The description of the male matches the one from the girl in Honeydukes so it probably is the same person, what we need is a picture or a name. I’ll send a couple of Aurors to the shop for a more thorough investigation.”
“Can I go with them?” asked Harry hopefully. He could see the logic of what Cobb had said, and while he understood the reasoning he could not help feeling more frustrated than ever.
“I think it best that you don’t. We will want to be in and out pretty quickly. Have some coffee, I’ll go and get them on their way. It should only take them an hour or so.” Harry took his coffee and went to the Ministry library. He sat idly leafing through various textbooks and thinking to himself that he was turning into Hermione. Even so the hour dragged by. A library worker approached and told him that Cobb wanted him back in his office. Harry hurried back and arrived a little breathless. Cobb was at his desk with a curious look on his face. Two Aurors stood off to one side. “Come in Potter, I think you’ll want to hear this.” He gestured at one of his colleagues “Tell Harry what you’ve just told me.” A shorter of the two Aurors, a grey haired man stepped forward,
“We’ve been to the tattoo parlour that you told us about and questioned the owner. He, of course, remembers nothing of our visit. We er… stimulated, shall we say, his memory, and successfully extracted a name.”
“A name! That’s great. Who was it?” said Harry eagerly, his heart rate rising in anticipation.
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