Chapter 18 : Chapter 18
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“A name! That’s great. Who was it?” said Harry eagerly, his heart rate rising in anticipation. The Auror, was stony faced as he said,
“Harry Potter.” The three Aurors grinned together at the astounded expression that had appeared on Harry’s face, his mouth was open and his eyes wide. Cobb suddenly stopped grinning and his expression became deadly serious, his voice had a hard edge. Harry glanced at the other two Aurors; their expressions were also suddenly severe.
“So Potter, tell us why you did it. What did you hope to achieve? Did you really expect to get away with it?” His voice was heavy, with a definite threat in the tone.
“Me!! No I didn’t… I mean… you don’t seriously think that I…” Harry was on the verge of panic when suddenly the Aurors were laughing again.
“Of course not Potter, but just for a few seconds there your face was a picture, an absolute masterpiece in fact.” Harry exhaled a huge burst of air and was silent for a moment, before saying quietly,
“Mr. Cobb, I am not yet a Ministry employee, so I can say this. You are, what my friend Ron would call, a git.” He emphasised the last word and then added with a wry smile, “However, I do have a sense of humour and I know when I’ve been had. Good one.”
The grey haired auror laughed. “You don’t want to know what he did to me at my job interview, Mr. Potter. You got off lightly, believe me.”
Harry sat down on a chair in front of the desk. “So did you actually get a name or not?”
“Yes, we did, John here was telling the truth, the owner gave us your name,” said Cobb, “which means that you are being impersonated.”
“So again, that does not help us at all does it?” Harry asked. Before he could answer there was a knock at the door and a messenger entered.
“Sorry to disturb you Mr. Cobb but there is a young lady in the Atrium looking for Mr. Potter. Name of Granger.”
“Hermione?” said Harry, “What is she doing here?” Cobb spoke to the messenger,
“Show her up here please, young man. Thank you.” The messenger left and five minutes later was back with Hermione in tow. Harry stood and gestured to her to sit down.
“What’s up Hermione?”
“Harry, I think I know who it is. Don’t think about the man for a minute, think about the young girl. Where have you seen something like that before?” Harry thought hard but came up with nothing. “Come on Harry think… Malfoy, the Room of Requirement.” Hermione hinted. Harry thought hard and remembered the time when he was trying to find out what Malfoy was doing in the Room of Requirement; thought of two little girls standing guard in the corridor, ready to warn Malfoy.
“Yeah, but those two girls weren’t girls were they. It was Crabbe and Goyle…” He stopped, beginning to see Hermione’s point. “No, no, it can’t be them Hermione, it just can’t be. Crabbe’s dead and Goyle… well he was thicker than year old custard. Anyway where would he get Polyjuice Potion, he couldn’t have made it himself, he was the only one worse than Ron in Potions.”
“Ron wasn’t that bad,” Hermione replied defensively, “but just suppose Goyle had some left over from Hogwarts. It might still be usable. I know it’s a long shot Harry, and you may be right, it may not be them, but surely it’s worth looking into.” At this point Cobb intervened.
“Would either of you care to explain what you are talking about?” He leaned back in his chair and looked from one to the other and back again.
“Yeah, sorry,” Harry began, “it was in our sixth year at Hogwarts, we were sure that Draco Malfoy was up to no good in the Room of Requirement but we were unable to find out what it was he was doing. Every time we went to check there was a first year girl in the corridor, always with some means of giving a warning to anyone inside the room. I had seen Malfoy with two girls following him, but I never made the connection. It was Hermione who figured it out. As it turned out Malfoy was fixing…”
“A Vanishing Cabinet,” Cobb finished the sentence for him, “Yes, we know about that. Thank you for coming Miss Granger, this is very interesting and we will look into it right away. I think it could be our best lead yet. You and Harry give the details to John here. While you do that I think I will pay a quick visit to Malfoy Manor.” Turning to the second Auror he added, “You gather as much information as you can on this Goyle character and liaise with John, we’ll meet back here at….” he glanced at his watch, “Five o’clock.” Hermione stayed for half an hour before she too left.
In fact it was after six before Cobb returned. Cobb looked worried which meant that Harry was worried too. The Auror settled himself behind his desk and spoke to his subordinate. “How many Death Eaters did we account for after that night at Hogwarts?” John, the grey haired man thought for a moment before replying,
“About a hundred and twenty eight if I remember rightly.”
“Was Tiberius Goyle amongst them?”
“I’ll go and check but I think he was killed during the fight.” He left the room. Cobb started to brief Harry and the others on his visit to the Malfoy residence.
“Malfoy hasn’t seen or heard from his chum Goyle since Hogwarts. He confirmed everything you told us about him, about his intellectual ability, or lack of it. However, he also said that he was ninety percent sure that he had seen Goyle and his father fleeing the battle before it was over. He also said that there had been plenty of Polyjuice Potion left in the dungeon and it was not impossible that Goyle had taken some with him. He told me where they lived and I went there before coming back to the Ministry. It looked as though the place had been occupied until quite recently. Say up to a month ago.” He paused as John returned with a parchment.
“It was one hundred and twenty-nine Death Eaters, boss, but three of those were tentative, not positive identifications. One of those was Tiberius Goyle. I think we could be on the right track here. If that identification was wrong then maybe Goyle senior is alive and kicking.” They were all distracted as an inter-departmental memo came floating through the door and settled onto the desk. Cobb glanced at the note before speaking to the room in general,
“Apparently Polyjuice Potion remains viable indefinitely. Another plus for this theory. On the minus side we don’t have a clue where he, or rather they, are. Also they have Polyjuice so we can’t even be sure what they look like at any particular time.” He looked around the room, “As far as I know, any one of you could be Goyle.”
“So what’s our next move, Mr. Cobb?” asked Harry.
“The next move is not ours Potter, it’s theirs. The trouble is we can’t do anything to let them know that they’re under suspicion. We’ll have discreet surveillance of the Burrow and Grimmauld Place, and then we wait.” As it turned out they did not have to wait long. In fact they did not have to wait at all. Just then a Ministry messenger came in with a sealed parchment.
“Mr. Cobb, an owl just delivered this at the reception desk. It’s addressed to Harry Potter.” He gave Harry the parchment. He could feel the eyes of the others on him as he opened it. It didn’t take long to read.
“We going to get you Poter you scumbag. You a ded man. You and the red hared blood trator you shag. It wont be long now”
Harry smiled and gave the note to Cobb. “With spelling like that, it more or less convinces me that it’s Goyle.” Cobb spoke to the messenger,
“Where is the owl now?”
“Normally they go up to the roof. They can get food and water there.”
“Find it!” said Cobb “Do not let it leave the Ministry.”
“Yes sir.” The messenger left immediately.
Cobb was silent for a time, as if he was thinking deeply about something. Then he handed Harry a quill. “Write a reply please Harry, be as mean and insulting as you like. Let’s try and wind them up a bit. Angry people make mistakes.” Harry took the quill, now it was his turn to think. He started to write.
“Bring it on, numbnuts, the sooner the better. I’m going to enjoy squashing a little bug like you. You were a fat, lumpy windbag at school Goyle and I can see you haven’t changed. I know its you, Malfoy had you transforming into a little girl, I’m going to make the change permanent. I’ll even buy you some pretty little dresses and a couple of dolls. Don’t keep me waiting, I’ve lots of other things I’d rather be doing.”
Harry passed the note back to Cobb, who read it with a smile before folding and sealing it.
“Now we send it back and someone follows the owl to its destination. No, not you Potter, you get off home. See you tomorrow.” he said. Harry opened his mouth to argue, Cobb pointed firmly to the door, brooking no argument. Harry left disheartened.
He was back early the next morning, keen to know what had been discovered. As early as he was, he found Cobb already at his desk. After exchanging good mornings he helped himself to a cup of coffee and sat down across the desk from Cobb.
“We’re leaving at nine o’clock Potter, a full raid carefully planned. We have a trained team of Aurors, Medics and we’re even taking Obliviators to look after any accidental Muggle involvement.” Cobb said before Harry could even frame the question.
“Great,” said Harry, “where are they and how are we getting there?”
“They’re in a small village called Bagley Tun in Norfolk, but there’s no ‘we’ Potter, I can’t let you come. You’re not qualified and you are not a Ministry employee. If anything happened to you I’d go blind filling in paperwork for a year. And I don’t like paperwork.” Harry quickly stood up, not in any mood to argue.
“OK. I’ve always wanted to visit Bagley Tun. Perhaps I’ll see you there. Bye!”
“Sit down and relax Potter. Don’t be so grouchy. I anticipated your reaction.” he passed Harry a parchment, “Sign this. Ministry lawyers drew it up; it’s a disclaimer saying that if you get killed you won’t sue us.” Harry laughed and signed the document.
The teams travelled to Bagley Tun by portkey, arriving in a clearing in a copse of trees. Two aurors were waiting, having been sent on ahead to get the lay of the land. Cobb and Harry followed them to the tree line. They looked out across a field to a large house on the edge of the village. As they watched, a car passed by their position. “That will be Absalom and Jessica. They are dressed as Muggles and will park in the village and head slowly back this way. They have a DM detector and should be in position in about ten minutes. If they get an indication we’ll get a signal.” said one of the two early arrivals. “We haven’t seen anyone leave or arrive at the house since we’ve been here.”
A few minutes later they watched as the two aurors walked slowly into view looking for all the world like a couple out for a stroll in the sunshine. They stopped, embraced and kissed.
"I'll be speaking to those two," said Cobb, "that's not in their job descriptions." The couple seemed to be admiring the house. The man appeared to take a picture and then walked out of view behind the building. Seconds later there was a loud bang. Jessica raised her wand and sent up red sparks.
Without a word of command the team burst out of the wood and raced across the field. Harry ran as fast as he could but could barely keep up. The aurors split to cover both sides of the house. Harry stayed with Cobb. More bangs and crashes were heard. The first auror yelled ‘Bombarda’ and as the window in front of him disintegrated, he dived through. Harry heard a yell of ‘Stupefy’, climbing through the window he saw an unconscious form lying near the now open door. He looked down the corridor and saw Cobb carefully opening another door, then at the far end of the passage a figure appeared pointing a wand at the auror. Without hesitation Harry screamed ‘Petrificus Totalis’, the figure went rigid and fell heavily to the floor. The noise level was lessening now. Cobb motioned to Harry to join him. They stood with their backs to the wall. Cobb pushed the door open with a backward motion of his hand and a flash of green light flew out of the room and hit the wall opposite them. Before the light had completely faded Cobb dived through the open doorway and as he hit the floor had stunned whoever was in there. He called Harry in. There on the floor was Gregory Goyle, out cold.
“That’s Goyle.” He confirmed, he barely registered the click of a door opening before Cobb shoved him aside. The shouts of ‘Avada Kedavra’ and ‘Protego’ sounded simultaneously accompanied by the flash of green light that Harry was very familiar with. He heard a body hit the floor and scrambled to his feet. Cobb was standing, breathing very heavily, looking across the room at the body lying in the doorway to the next room. Cobb sighed,
“Why did he have to do that, he must have known the game was over, why didn’t he just give up?” Harry looked at Cobb,
“Are you okay sir?” he asked, unable to fathom the look on Cobb’s face.
“No! I’m bloody well not. I’ve never killed anyone before and it’s really pissed me off.” The anger in Cobb’s voice was obvious. Absalom and another auror walked into the room.
“All accounted for boss, three in custody. We also found some Polyjuice Potion. What happened here?” Cobb pointed at the younger Goyle, still unconscious on the floor.
“Get that one out of here, put him with the others and wake him up. Send Jessica and Maxim here, they can take this body back to the Ministry. I think it’s Tiberius Goyle, his son will tell us for certain. I’m going to get some air. C’mon Harry.” Harry and Cobb walked out of the house into the garden.
“You didn’t kill him Mr. Cobb, he did that himself. It was his choice to use the Avada; you were just defending yourself… and me for that matter.”
“Thanks Potter, but at this particular moment it doesn’t help.” Harry could see that the auror was troubled by the outcome.
“Dumbledore once told me that killing wasn’t as easy as people seemed to think. At least you can justify what you had to do.”
“Dumbledore was right, but while I can justify it in a legal sense, I still have to justify it to myself. That’s going to be more difficult. Perhaps it’s as well I’m getting out of this job. Let’s go and see the survivors.”
They held a brief interrogation of the prisoners. Enough for Goyle to confirm that the man in the other room was his father. Apart from a small intake of breath the young man had shown little or no emotion when told that his father was dead. Back at the Ministry the team held a debrief and went over the operation step-by-step. The plans seemed to have worked well, with the exception of the one fatality. Everyone agreed that in the circumstances, that had been unavoidable. When the meeting broke up only Harry and Cobb remained. Harry could tell that Jason still wasn’t any easier in his mind about the events of that morning. Cobb finally broke the silence,
“OK Harry, you can get away now. We’ll start the proper questioning tomorrow but we won’t need you for that. Thanks very much for your help today, it is appreciated.”
“Do you want me to stay at Grimmauld Place, or can I return to the Burrow?” Cobb thought for a moment,
“I don’t think you need stay in London, Harry, I’ll know where you are if I need to talk to you. I’ll get the Minister to send some flowers to Miss Granger and Miss Weasley. Their help was invaluable.”
“Yeah, they’re good like that,” said Harry, “I’ll be off then, and Mr. Cobb, thanks again. Try not to beat yourself up too much. You did nothing wrong.” Harry left the office and set off to join Ginny and the rest at Grimmauld Place.
Everybody was delighted at the prospect of returning to the Burrow the next day. Before dinner he had gone to shower and freshen up and had just finished dressing when Ginny came in. They embraced and she had held on tightly.
“Do you think you’ll ever stop finding trouble?” she had asked.
“No,” he had replied, “I’m stuck with you.” he laughed, as she slapped his arm.
“I didn’t mean me… and you know it.”
“I know, but as for the other sort of trouble, unfortunately it keeps finding me!”
“Let’s go and eat. Now I know you’re safe, I’m hungry.” she looked at him with eyes full of desire, “God, I wish we were alone somewhere.”
“I thought you were hungry.” he said smiling. He saw mischief in her eyes as she replied huskily,
“Yeah well, there’s hunger and then there’s hunger, isn’t there? Come on.”
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