Chapter 1 : An Inquiry
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DISCLAIMER: all characters (apart from Original Characters) and the rest of the Potter-verse belong to JKR. The plot belongs to me.
She knew he needed help. Not from his scruffy robes or his cut lip. No. she knew from the lost helpless look in his eyes, the way he flinched whenever she uttered a word and how, throughout the whole interrogation, he did not start a fight; simply sitting there- lost in dark thought- and only speaking when spoken to. Hermione thought he was a complete gentleman. Then again, so did Dumbledore about Riddle and look how that ended. But this man- this boy- was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not innocent, no, not harmless, but misunderstood, and she wondered, as she flooed home that night, how she could help him. Surely there was something she could do.
He’d be sent to her office at 4 o’clock that afternoon. She had just returned from a meeting with the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (discussing how her son had yet again blown up another Defence against the Dark Arts classroom). Not in a pleasant mood at all, she had stalked into her office to find him slouched on the seat behind her desk- battered and bruised, but still alive.
“Serious breach of Gringotts security, ma’am,” explained Moorcroft, an egotistical auror with rather large eyebrows. “Sixteen years old. He was caught with his brother- twenty years old. We have his brother locked up, but seeing as this one is underage, I thought perhaps you could talk to him, get an explanation out of him, and perhaps talk some sense into him.”
Hermione glanced at Moorcroft and walked around the desk to sit in her own seat. “I don’t know how much help I’ll be. I can’t even stop my son from blowing up a classroom every other Tuesday.” The boy could not quite hide a snort and lowered his head to conceal his laugher.
“We are not here to discuss your personal life, Mrs Weasley,” said Moorcroft in his strong Scottish accent. Hermione looked over at him and glared. “Ma’am,” he added as an afterthought. Hermione ignored Moorcroft and looked over at the boy. He had brown hair, brown eyes and obviously hadn’t shaven for a week or so. Below his left eye was a large gash and on the right side of his neck was a bruise, slowly turning purple.
Hermione crossed her arms and looked him directly in the eyes. “What’s your name?” she asked, not unkindly, but with a tone which said ‘do not mess with me’. His chocolate eyes snapped down, then up to stare into her own brown ones.
“Keegan,” he said, bitterly. “Keegan Parker.”
“You’re American, I presume? What with your New England accent,” she asked, cautiously. He stared at her and nodded slightly.
“Boston, yeah,” he said, his mouth creasing into a slight smile. “You wouldn’t expect that would you- Boston?” She raised her eyebrows. “It’s supposed to be safe, isn’t it? Well, apparently not- what with the likes of me and my brother.”
“Did you intend to break into Gringotts?” Hermione asked him, ignoring his previous comment. Keegan leaned back and crossed his arms. “Well, did you?”
“He told me it was worth it,” muttered Keegan, “that when we do, our life would be changed- different.” He scratched his head. “No, I didn’t. I never believed him, see. But my bro- Devon’s his name- when he gets an idea, he sticks to it. No going back, see.”
“How exactly had you intended to break into Gringotts?” Hermione asked.
“We heard this story, from about twenty-five years ago, about a break-in in Gringotts.” Hermione shuffled uncomfortably in her seat, her cheeks blushing slightly. “About how three people- not too much older than me- broke in, fought a dragon and stole a trophy from a safe deep down. My bro thought if someone younger than him could do it, then we could.” He laughed coldly. “Shame he failed all of his exams. We could’ve actually got somewhere.”
“He failed them?” asked Hermione sympathetically.
“Yeah, he did. Stopped showing at some of his classes when he was about sixteen. Claimed they were ‘too difficult’. By the time he was seventeen, well, he was flunking. Scored a T in Enchantment 3; didn’t even show up for Potions 2.” Keegan started tapping the desk with his nails. “Wouldn’t have gotten as far as we did without me.” Hermione took the sheets of parchment which were lying on her desk and started flipping through them.
“Is there something about grades in here?” asked Hermione, glancing up at Moorcroft.
“Should be the fourth sheet, ma’am.” Hermione found the fourth sheet.
“I see you went to Salem Wizards’ Institute?”
“Yeah,” said Keegan, grinning lopsidedly. “It was alright there, I suppose.”
“Which classes are you intending to take next year?”
“If I get back in, right?” he asked, a bitter undertone to his voice. “Well, Astronomy 3, Defence 6, Transfiguration 4 and we have to take Potions. It’s compulsory. That’s if the principle ever lets me back in. Which I doubt will happen,” He leaned back, tilting his seat backwards, “If I even want to go back there.”
“You failed most of this year’s exams. You scored a P in Astronomy 2, a D in Herbology 5, a P in Enchantments 5, a D in Magical History 3 and a P in Transfiguration 3. However, you did achieve an E in Defence 5 and an O in Flying. I take you’re a good flyer?”
“Yeah, I am.” Keegan was now properly smiling. “I’ve been on the Quidditch team since Grade Seven. I play keeper. I’ve never told anyone this but,” He looked up at Hermione, who was smiling, “My dream, once I get out of school, of course, was to play for Fitchburg Finches.”
“It is still possible,” said Hermione, bending down so she was at the same level as Keegan. “On the fifth sheet I have, it is written that you were hard working and was a promised student. Certainly, the principle had high hopes for you.” Keegan gritted his teeth and scrunched up his hand into a fist. “What happened?”
“It was kind of a rough time to have exams.” Knowing that she would get no more out of Keegan, Hermione glanced up at Moorcroft.
Moorcroft edged around the desk and bent down to whisper into Hermione’s ear. “His mother, Naomi, was an alcoholic. They returned home for Easter break to find her passed out on the floor, with somebody who was not their father. Their father’s currently in jail. He was arrested by trying to break into the American Minister for Magic’s house.”
“I knew she was like that,” whispered Keegan. “I returned to school wondering whether it really was the best thing to leave her at home alone. I knew Devon would be no help; he’s just as bad an alcoholic as mom. And that guy. I’d heard of him. Trouble reincarnate, they said. Then one day, he turned up at my school and- and- told me she had been hospitalized. She’d overdosed earlier that day. Devon had walked into the kitchen and she was lying on the floor.” His eyes snapped up. “She could’ve been dead,” he said in an undertone then yelled, “She could’ve been dead!”
“Here,” said Hermione, passing Keegan a box of tissues, “take one.” Keegan took a tissue, but instead of tabbing at his watering eyes, he scrunched it up into a little ball in his right hand.
“She was taken into hospital and survived. Then three days later, we found out that she had been admitted into rehab. We had nowhere to go, no-one to go to, when school finished for the summer.” Keegan dug his nail into his skin. “That’s when Devon suggested it. Said, ‘if we break into Gringotts for an associate of his, life would get better, much better’. He seemed so convincing and I so wanted it to be true, that I idiotically agreed. However, we arrived in Diagon Alley and I knew, just by looking up at the bank, it was a bad idea. Not even worth it. Too late, though.” He laughed coldly.
“My daughter plays Quidditch,” said Hermione. “She’s a chaser. My nephews are seekers and beater and my other niece is a chaser as well.” She noticed how Keegan started glowing when she mentioned Quidditch. “Listen, Keegan, I want to help you, and I will. But I need your co-operation.” Hermione put down the sheets she was holding, stood up and walked round to stand by Keegan and lean against the desk. “You can’t go around breaking into Gringotts, or start any more duels- yes, I know about the duels. If you want to get out of this situation, we need to prove that you can control yourself, that you don’t just start a fight whenever it suits you.”
“I have nowhere to go,” Keegan whispered.
“You’ll be staying in the Young Delinquents facility for the next few weeks. Listen,” Hermione glanced down at him. “The Ministry think you’re bad luck at the moment. They’re eager to ship you off to Azkaban, just like they’ve done with your brother.”
“Azkaban?” quivered Keegan. “They’ve sent him to… Azkaban?”
“We’re trying to get him out, we are. Being Head of Law Enforcement, I know, believe me. However, at the moment, there’s nothing that can be done for him, even if the crime was only stealing, not killing. If he’d simply tried to break into, I don’t know, the Leaky Cauldron, he’d be punished but not so severely. But breaking into Gringotts? That’s a first-class crime. As for you, well, we can help you. As I said, the Ministry are all for you joining him, however I’m not letting you go there. They think you’re bad, but then again, they’ve forgotten about what kind of people are in the Young Delinquents facility. It’s going to be bad there, so bad. However, as long as you mind your own business and keep your head down, there is a possibility of getting you out. Let me help you. Just do me a massive favour and not get into trouble.”
Keegan looked up at her. She did not look like someone who’d be working in the Law Enforcement Squad. She looked too human, too understanding and concerned, not like some of the other guys he had encountered who were no doubt cold to the core. “I’ll try,” he said.
“I have an associate in the Auror office. If I can convince him you are safe and that you have learned from your mistakes, you will be out in no time. However, you have to convince him that you are not some rabid youth, determined to cause chaos. Nobody says no to him. According to the papers I have received here,” she pointed at the desk, “He should be visiting the facility within the next week. I’ll try and arrange a meeting for you and him. Keep calm. Be like you are now. No fighting, no yelling. He knows what it’s like to have a rough life. His parents died when he was one and he was brought up by his ignorant aunt and uncle. However, you have to let him see the real you, not the violent and rebellious you.” She took a piece of parchment, picked up her eagle feather quill and scribbled down a name. “I’m sure you will have heard of him,” she said and passed him the sheet of parchment.
Keegan took the parchment, glanced down and his eyes widened. “It’s him?” he whispered.
Hermione grinned. “I thought you’d have heard of him. With his help, you’re free. Remember that.” She stood up and stretched. “Mr Moorcroft hear will escort you to the facility. I’ll try and contact you in a few days to see how you’re doing. I’ll also notify you about the meeting.” Keegan stood up, still clutching the parchment.
“Thanks,” he said.
“Moorcroft,” Hermione nodded at Moorcroft, who nodded back, curtly
“Goodbye,” she said, waving them out of the door. She closed it swiftly and fell back into her seat. Work never gets easier, she thought.
Outside in the corridor, Moorcroft pointed his wand and out flew a piece of rope, which tied Keegan’s hands together behind his. “Follow me, Mr Parker. And no trouble.” Keegan thought about the parchment in his pocket and the two words written on it.