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Chapter 23 : Chapter 23: Zabini
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“Harry!” said Ginny, beaming at him through the mirror. “How’d it go?”
“Well, I’m alive,” replied Harry, ruffling his hair with his free hand. “But Aberforth’s in a pretty bad way.”
“I think he’s on his mirror with Hermione. At least, he disappeared upstairs when we got in and I haven’t seen him since.”
“Ah, probably. I haven’t seen Hermione in a while, come to think of it. So did you catch Grindelwald?”
“No, unfortunately. Aberforth cut off his hand though,” said Harry.
“His hand!?” exclaimed Ginny, clapping a hand to her mouth and almost dropping her mirror.
“Careful, these are bloody hard to enchant,” warned Harry. “Yeah, but Aberforth’s in Saint Mungo’s, they don’t know if he’ll pull through,” he said grimly.
“Horrible to think,” said Ginny quietly. There was a couple of moments silence between the two of them.
“We caught the spy,” Harry said suddenly.
“Oh really? Who?” said Ginny curiously.
“Dawlish!? The one who was Hogwarts in my fourth year?”
“The very same,” Harry replied. “Gawain’s quizzing him at the office. He’s off to Azkaban tomorrow. Hestia, Proudfoot and Savage questioned the others.”
“What about you and Ron?”
“Gawain doesn’t think we, or Neville, are experienced enough,” said Harry bitterly.
“Stick at it,” said Ginny sweetly. “You’ll win him over.”
“I guess so,” Harry replied, unconvinced. “How’s school?”
“Not too bad,” Ginny said airily. “I miss you though. And it’s downright impossible to find anyone half as good as you for seeker.” Ginny had been made quidditch captain for that year.
“Didn’t you find anyone last year?”
“You think Snape let us have Quidditch?” she said incredulously. “No, but we found someone alright.”
“Katie Bell’s little brother, Sean,” she replied. “He’s not bad. Third year, you probably don’t know him.” Harry shook his head.
“And what about the new Defence teacher, what’re they like?”
“He’s called Professor Piper,” she replied. “He’s a good teacher. Not as good as you though,” she said, grinning.
“I’ve got about thirty years before I even consider teaching,” Harry replied, laughing.
“Great, I’ll have to worry about you until then,” she groaned. “It’s dinner, I should go,” she said, checking her watch. “When’s your first check-up here?”
“Next week,” Harry replied. “Sure you’re not too caught up in NEWT work?”
“Hermione doesn’t have to spend all her time doing yours and Ron’s work anymore, so she can help me with mine,” Ginny said cheekily. “I’ll see you then, I love you,” she blew a kiss at the mirror.
“I love you too,” Harry replied, feeling slightly silly as he blew his own kiss at the mirror. Ginny smiled, then disappeared, replaced with Harry’s own reflection.
“Falling in love with yourself?” said a voice from the doorway. “Bit weird.”
“Shut up Ron,” Harry snapped. Ron laughed. “How’s Hermione?”
“Panicking,” replied Ron. “Thinks she’ll never pass her NEWTS.”
“If she doesn’t get all O’s for every exam I’ll eat my Firebolt,” Harry replied.
“Pretty much what I said,” Ron replied, sinking into the armchair opposite the sofa Harry was sat on. “How’s Ginny?”
“She seems fine, complained that there’s no good seeker anymore.”
“What’d they do last year?” said Ron blankly.
“Snape cancelled the tournament.”
“Git, you can’t cancel quidditch.”
“He was on our side,” Harry reminded him. Ron shrugged.
“Doesn’t stop him being a git, does it? Are these ours?” he said, indicating an enormous plate of sandwiches on the coffee table.
“Yeah, Kreacher was worried we’d be hungry. He should know with you.”
“Bless him,” said Ron fondly, ignoring Harry’s remark. “What’ve we got to do on Monday?”
“We’ve got to go to Zabini’s trial,” said Harry grimly. “Since we heard the incriminating conversation, we’re the ones who have to present the evidence.”
“Brilliant,” said Ron cheerfully, munching a sandwich. “I’d love to get Zabini for something.”
“Mr Zabini,” said Arthur Weasley, now head of the department of Magical Law Enforcement. “You’re charged with the murder of your mother, Pascal Zabini, and associating with a known criminal, Antonin Dolohov. Do you deny the charges?”
“I deny them all,” said Zabini coolly.
“Do you have any evidence against the charges?” Arthur demanded.
“Do you have any supporting them?” retorted Zabini.
“He’s good,” Harry whispered to Ron, who nodded grimly.
“As a matter of fact, we do,” said Arthur calmly. “Ladies and gentlemen of the Wizengamot, I present to you Harry James Potter and Ronald Bilius Weasley of the Auror office, who are here to provide evidence against Mr Zabini. Proceed, gentlemen.” Harry cleared his throat and began to speak.
“As part of our work for the Auror office, we were assigned to watch Mr Zabini’s apartment in downtown Paris,” Harry explained, fighting his nerves. “While listening in to his conversation with Draco Malfoy, who I may add was supposed to be in Auror custody at the time-”
“I had no idea,” Zabini interrupted calmly. “And you had no right to listen in to my conversation.”
“Objection!” called Arthur. “They had every right, I have all the correct paperwork here, signed by Mr Robards, Minister Shacklebolt and Mr Potter and Mr Weasley.” Zabini scowled but did not retort.
“As I was saying,” continued Harry, “we listened in to their conversation, and Zabini claimed that his mother’s death was ‘no more suspicious then the deaths of all her husbands,’ who were all suspected murders by the work of Pascal Zabini.”
“None of which were ever proved,” Zabini said. “My mother’s death was a tragic accident.”
“How did she die, if you don’t mind me asking?” said a wispy looking witch Harry recognised from his own trial a few years ago.
“She added a powdered poison to her tea rather than sugar,” Zabini replied promptly.
“Why was she keeping poison near her sugar?” Ron asked.
“From what you two seem to think, to poison her husbands,” said Zabini dryly. “You can’t prove I had any hand in my mother’s accidental death, so I suggest we move on, I have a schedule to keep.”
“Means he’s meeting a woman later,” said Ron in an undertone, forcing Harry to bite back his laughter.
“That’s up to the Wizengamot to decide,” growled Arthur through gritted teeth. “Mr Potter, could you please state the evidence against Mr Zabini relating to the second charge, that of consulting with a known criminal.”
“Certainly, Mr Weasley,” Harry said, feeling slightly more confident. “Mr Zabini said that members of the Consecrat had approached him several times, although he never informed the Aurors.”
“They approached me, but I refused to have dealings with them,” said Zabini icily, glaring at Harry. “I was forced too on the day in question because one of these ‘criminals’ you’re referring to broke into my house.”
“You said yourself you can’t keep saying no to these people,” snapped Ron. “Clearly you’ve seen them before.”
“By saying no, I meant staying away from them,” Zabini said calmly. “Anything else?” Harry and Ron shook their heads.
“If neither the witnesses nor the defendant has anything more to put forward, then the Wizengamot will now vote on the case of Mr Zabini,” said Arthur, looking resigned. “All in favour of charging the accused?” A small number of wizards, including Arthur, raised their hands. Harry cursed.
“Sly git,” muttered Ron darkly.
“All in favour of clearing the accused of all charges?” grumbled Arthur. The remaining Wizengamot raised their hands. Arthur sighed. “Cleared of all charges.” Zabini smiled and waltzed out the room, looking incredibly pleased with himself.
“Gawain’ll want to know,” Ron said grimly. “Not that he’ll be pleased.”
“Actually, Gawain gave me orders in case this happened,” Harry replied. “Come on,” he said, pulling him out the courtroom and slipping the invisibility cloak over them both. “Muffliato. We’re trailing him,” Harry explained.
“Brilliant,” grinned Ron. “What if he disapparates though?”
“Gawain got Sturgis to put a trace on him,” Harry replied. “So we’ll know where he goes.”
But Zabini didn’t disapparate. He left the ministry through the visitors entrance, and began walking the streets of muggle London. “He’s heading for Diagon Alley!” Harry said, keeping a few paces behind him.
“Wonder why,” Ron thought aloud. “If we bump into any muggles, there’s gonna be a hell of a lot of questions,” he added as they side stepped a large group of Japanese tourists.
“We’d better be careful then,” Harry said. “He went right.” They followed Zabini through the winding streets to Charing Cross Road, where Zabini slipped into the Leaky Cauldron. However, he didn’t stop for a drink. Harry noticed Hannah Abbott was serving drinks, although a shaky looking Tom was still behind the bar. Zabini carried on, tapping the wall and entering Diagon Alley, heading down towards a small gap between Flourish and Blotts and Ollivander’s.
“He’s going to Knockturn Alley!” Ron whispered. “Not the behaviour on an innocent guy is it?”
“We know he’s not innocent,” Harry reminded him. “We just need proof, and this isn’t it. Come on,” Harry urged him. They followed Zabini down the dark alleyway, until he stopped outside a dark, grotty looking pub, looking around nervously. The battered, weathered sign hanging above the door read ‘The Werewolf and the Banshee’ in peeling, faded bronze letters that barely stood out at all against the black, grimy background. “Doesn’t seem like Zabini’s type of place, does it?” Harry whispered.
“Not unless he was meeting someone,” replied Ron darkly. “Let’s go,” he said, and they slipped inside after Zabini. The pub’s interior was almost as filthy as its exterior suggested-it made the Hog’s Head look like a five star hotel, and Grimmauld place like a palace. The clientele wasn’t much better.
“I’m sure that’s a hag,” Ron whispered, glancing nervously at a woman with greenish skin and beady red eyes.
“There’s a werewolf in the corner,” Harry replied.
“How can you tell?”
“He smells of wet dog and he’s got hair growing out his ears.”
“Brilliant. Where’s Zabini?”
“There!” Harry said, pointing. “He’s sitting with that bloke, by the bar.”
“Who’s his friend?” Ron said, staring at the hooded, cloaked figure Zabini was sitting next too.
“Let’s find out,” Harry said, sliding through the dimly lit pub. “Under the table?”
“This is what Aurors do?” Ron grumbled as he crawled under the table.
“What do you want?” said Zabini coldly.
“Information,” drawled an all too familiar voice. “Where’s Draco, Blaise?”
The freezing wind whipped across the rocky beachhead. Despite the fact that it was still September, winter was already creeping across the furthest reaches of Northern Scotland. Gellert, having quickly recovered from his injury, was picking his way across the rocks with the agility of a far younger man. His new silver hand glistened as the rain struck it, but it gripped the rocks tighter than any normal hand could ever hope to. The howling wind was the only sound on the lonely beach, Gellert seemed to be the only life form for miles around. But he knew he was not alone.
Something was watching him. He could feel it; he had a sixth sense for it. Where it was, he did not know, but it was close. He subconsciously drew his wand, preparing for a fight that may never come. A loose rock bounced past, falling down the long drop into the swirling grey sea. Gellert’s eyes flashed upwards, and saw a shadow dart just out of his line of sight.
“I know you’re there!” Gellert shouted over the wind. “You have nothing to fear from me.” He heard a scuffling of feet behind him, and he whirled around, ducking just as an enormous shape leapt forward. It landed just behind him, and Gellert span back around, pointing his wand directly at the figure crouched on the ground. “Try it,” he said dangerously. “I dare you.”
“You’re a fool, coming here,” accused the man, crouched low on all fours, his yellowing, pointed teeth bared. He was unusually hairy, and had strange, orange eyes. “You think I’m the only one?”
“Quite the contrary,” Gellert replied calmly. “I came here to seek your kind out.” The crouching man cocked his head to one side, as though considering him.
“A brave decision,” he said finally, “to seek out werewolves, as a mere human.”
“Brave, or perhaps tactical,” said Gellert calmly. “I wish to speak with the leader of your…clan.” The werewolf’s eyes narrowed.
“Who are you stranger?” he demanded, the growl of a wolf behind his rasping voice.
“My name is Gellert Grindelwald, I come from Bulgaria,” Gellert replied. “I seek an alliance with your leader. And you?”
“Sulfr Whitetail,” the werewolf growled. “We don’t ally ourselves with humans,” Sulfr retorted, his eyes narrowing. But he looked curious. Gellert raised an eyebrow.
“Really? I was under the impression that you allied yourselves with Lord Voldemort during the war?” Sulfr flinched horribly at the name.
“You dare speak his name?” he growled, trying to regain his composure.
“I get asked that a lot,” said Gellert airily. “Evidently, or I wouldn’t have said it, would I?”
“Sarcasm could get you killed around here.”
“You’re in no position to make threats,” Gellert reminded him. “You were allied with him, correct?”
“Yes,” grunted Sulfr, “and look where that got us! Stuck in a freezing cave forced to eat rats and leaves!” he roared savagely, punching the ground in frustration.
“I can help,” said Gellert softly. “Take me to him.” Sulfr cocked his head again, and then eventually nodded.
“Follow me,” he growled, scampering up the rocks on all fours with incredible agility. Gellert picked his way after him, just managing to keep him in sight. Finally, they reached a small opening, barely large enough to squeeze into, hidden from view. Gellert would never have found it alone. “Light your wand,” rasped Sulfr.
“Lumos,” Gellert said, and the gloomy carven was illuminated by his wand’s ghostly glow. Sulfr eyed the wand hungrily for a moment, before turning, now walking normally, albeit a little hunched, and creeping along the narrow passageway.
“The others will not be pleased that I have brought you here,” growled Sulfr. “Many fear the wand carriers.”
“If you join me, perhaps you will be counted among us,” Gellert replied, keeping his wand raised.
“It is not my decision to make,” replied Sulfr shortly. The passageway widened, and Gellert followed Sulfr into an enormous room, with a sweeping ceiling covered in stalactites. A large fire was lit in the middle, and at least twenty people, presumably werewolves, were camped around it in piles of blankets and, in some cases, animal skins. Torches were fastened to the wall at various intervals, although the firelight did nothing to dispel the bleak atmosphere created by the now distant howling wind and pounding rain. Several of the werewolves, their hearing vastly improved by their lycanthropy, looked up at the slight disturbance at the mouth of the cave.
“Fresh meat, Sulfr?” growled one of the werewolves eagerly, scrambling across to the entrance. .
“Back off, David,” snarled Sulfr. “He’s with me.”
“You have no right to bring him here,” retorted David angrily. “Look! He even has a silver hand!”
“You know as well as I do that the silver thing is a myth,” growled Sulfr. “Back off before we have a serious problem.” The smaller man glared at Sulfr, but backed off, retreating back to the fire. The others looked on curiously, but none approached. “Come,” said Sulfr shortly, beckoning him. They continued past the large room, down another corridor, this one well lit with torches lit the main chamber. They came to a tattered rag pulled across the passage that appeared to be acting as some kind of makeshift door.
“Who’s there?” growled a deep voice that would have instilled fear in the bravest of men. But Gellert simply stood there, no terror in his heart, waiting for his introduction.
“Sulfr, I bring a…guest who wishes to speak with you,” Sulfr said, his tone respectful.
“Who is it?” said the voice irritably.
“My name is Gellert Grindelwald,” said Gellert clearly. “I’ve come seeking an alliance with you.” There was a moment’s pause before the voice responded.
“Sulfr, leave us. Grindelwald, you may enter.” Sulfr looked sulky as he retreated down the passageway, but did not retort. Gellert brushed aside the ragged curtain and, keeping a firm grip on his wand inside his robe pocket, entered the room. Compared with the rest of the hideout, this one was relatively well furnished. There was an organised fire pit with a bubbling cauldron and a small hole in the roof to allow smoke to escape. A bed, made from lavish looking animal furs piled upon a hollowed out log, sat in the corner.
But the thing that caught Gellert’s eye was the powerful figure that sat in the centre of the room. Despite his matted grey hair and strange, dog like whiskers, he cut an impressive figure sitting there. His muscular body seemed to bulge at every point, and Gellert knew he’d tower above him should they both be standing. His beast like appearance was added too by his pointed teeth, bared fiercely at Gellert, and his yellowed nails, almost like claws. His dark blue eyes searched Gellert, as though attempting to identify whether or not he was a threat.
“What brings you here, wand bearer?” he asked eventually.
“Manners dictate that you offer me a seat,” Gellert said coldly, meeting the werewolves stare. The beast nodded at the floor, and Gellert sat, cross legged, his hand still firmly on his wand.
“Do I need to ask you again?”
“You know what,” Gellert said calmly. “I seek an alliance. And don’t call me wand bearer, you carry a wand yourself.”
“How do you know?” demanded the werewolf, his eyes flashing dangerously.
“I have my sources, Greyback,” Gellert said softly. “It’s a pitiful existence you have here, is it not? Stuck hiding in a cave, eating rats?”
“You dear mock me?” breathed Greyback. “You’re a fool.”
“Perhaps,” Gellert said calmly. “Or perhaps I’m enticing you. I can offer you freedom, Greyback.”
“What’s to say you won’t be like the other one?” growled Greyback angrily. “The Dark Lord promised us our freedom, yet we’re stuck here in this mess.”
“Because of Potter.”
“Because the dark lord allowed himself to be beaten by a cub!” roared Greyback angrily. “He was arrogant, foolish. I had Potter in my grasp, I could have torn out his throat and feasted on his chosen flesh with my brothers. But the dark lord insisted that he be the one to kill Potter. And look where that got him.” Gellert suppressed a shudder at Greyback’s words-truly he was a monster. Admitedly, the idea of working with Greyback made his skin crawl, but needs must, he reasoned.
“Voldemort was bound by prophecy, fate and his own lack of intelligence,” said Gellert curtly. “I am not tied down by such petty dealings.” Greyback seemed to accept his words, nodding slowly before speaking again.
“Why do you seek an alliance?”
“I am a general. I have an army,” Gellert said. “You and your followers would bolster my force considerably, and the fear you bring with you would help my…campaign.”
“And what would our role be?” Greyback asked. Gellert shrugged.
“However I can use you,” he said calmly. “I assure you, we have a place for you in our ranks.”
“And after you seize power? Assuming that is your intention?”
“Naturally,” said Gellert, once again interlacing his fingers. “I have no prejudice against werewolves. In my society, you would be equal to any witch or wizard.”
“All wizards are equal,” Gellert said, raising an eyebrow. “It is the muggles who require ruling.” Greyback gave a short, sharp bark of laughter.
“I’ll drink to that,” he growled. He pulled out a short, gnarled looking wand, and summoned an ancient bottle of Firewhiskey. “A toast,” he said, baring his pointed teeth. “To our new alliance.” Gellert smiled at him and took the shot glass Greyback was offering him, draining it swiftly.
“I assume you remember where Malfoy Manor is?” Gellert asked, wiping his lips.
“Of course. You holed up there?”
“For the time,” Gellert replied silkily. “Though I’d like to send some of your…troops, I suppose to Nurmengard, until I have need for you.”
“Nurmengard?” enquired Greyback curiously.
“My fortress in Germany,” Gellert explained. “The majority of my forces are already there,” Gellert explained. “I shall return to the Manor. Join me there when you can, and I’ll have you transported to Nurmengard.” Greyback nodded, and Gellert got to his feet, pausing before the ragged curtain.
“Out of interest, how did you escape? Rookwood told me you were captured after the battle.” Fenrir smiled, baring his pointed teeth again.
“Never try to transport a werewolf by full moon,” he said simply, before laughing in a manner that sounded like a howling wolf.
“Fools,” said Gellert softly, before turning on the spot and disapparating back to the Manor. He slipped through the gates and strode up the gravelled pathway to the front door. The entrance hall of the Manor, to his surprise was alive with activity. “What’s going on?” he demanded. Silence fell immediately.
“My lord,” said Rookwood nervously. “It’s the Malfoys, they’ve escaped.” Gellert felt the blood rise in his head.
“How did this happen?” he asked through clenched teeth.
“Rowle was guarding the door, as you instructed, when Lucius and Narcissa both attacked him. He was only stunned, but we haven’t been able to bring him round yet.” Gellert swore angrily, drawing his wand and pressing it to the Hallows symbol on his wrist. A few minutes later, Sabine joined him in his study.
“My Lord?” she said in her icy cold voice.
“I have extra work for you,” Gellert said. “You must track down and kill all three members of the Malfoy family. They are all traitors to our cause.” She nodded.
“I will do as you wish.”
“Good,” said Gellert curtly. “And I have someone to help you. This is Fenrir Greyback, he will assist you in tracking them down.”
“Lucius Malfoy!” whispered Ron frantically. Harry shushed him, and they nearly missed Zabini’s response.
“He’s being protected, by the Aurors I think,” said Zabini calmly. “You won’t be able to get to him, Lucius.”
“Don’t use my name,” hissed Malfoy angrily. “I’m a wanted man!”
“Are you?” said Zabini curiously. “I had no idea. I thought you’d have bribed your way out again.”
“This is no time for jokes,” snapped Malfoy. “Draco is in grave danger, Narcissa and I must reach him!”
“And what can you give him?” said Zabini scathingly. “Better protection than the Order and the Aurors?”
“I-that doesn’t matter now,” snapped Malfoy irritably. “Can you tell me where he is?”
“He’s hidden in an apartment on Tottenham Court Road,” Zabini replied after a moment. “But you won’t get in, I told you-“
“It doesn’t matter, I have to go,” Lucius said quickly. “I advise you to hide yourself, Blaise. They will be looking for you.”
“I’m aware,” said Zabini coolly. “They won’t find me, I assure you.”
“It’s not me that needs assuring,” Malfoy retorted. “Good day, Mr Zabini.”
“Watch your back,” said Zabini. Lucius snorted, and stood, as Harry and Ron crawled out from under the table.
“What are we going to do?” said Ron urgently. “We can’t both follow the two of them.” Harry thought quickly.
“Go after Zabini, make sure he goes straight back to his apartment,” Harry whispered. “Then send me a message on the coin and I’ll tell you where I am.” Ron nodded his agreement. “Take the cloak,” Harry told him.
“What’ve you got planned?” asked. Ron suspiciously as they slipped outside the pub. Harry ducked out of the cloak.
“I’ve got something,” he assured him. “Good luck mate.”
“You too mate,” came Ron’s voice out of nowhere. The door opened, and Zabini walked out, forcing Harry to leap into the shadowy doorway of the shop next door to the pub. Zabini gave the pub a disgusted look, before turning on the spot and disapparating. A few seconds later, Ron spoke again.
“Got it, he’s gone back to his apartment,” he said triumphantly. “I’ll make sure he stays there.” There was a second crack, and Harry knew Ron had disapparated. He was alone. He didn’t have long to dwell on the fact, however, as Lucius Malfoy stepped out of the pub.
Harry cast a disillusionment charm on himself before stepping out from the doorway. Malfoy looked around suspiciously, before turning on the spot and disapparating. He didn’t notice Harry leap forward and grab the hem of his cloak.
They appeared outside a tiny cottage on a beach. It was warmer than it had been in London, but not by much. White cliffs towered behind them. Harry let go of Lucius’s cloak and followed him quietly to the front door of the cottage, where he knocked, just once.
“Who goes there?” said a terrified sounding female voice.
“It’s me, Narcissa,” said Lucius.
“What form does our son’s patronus take?” Narcissa demanded, the door remaining firmly shut.
“A ferret,” said Lucius promptly, forcing Harry to bite down on his laughter. “Though I’ll be dammed if I know how he does it.”
“He’s a better person than us,” Narcissa said, opening the door. “Was he there?”
“And?” demanded Narcissa, her eyes shining with anticipation and fear.
“He’s under the protection of the Aurors and the Order, in a flat on Tottenham Court Road.”
“We have to get to him!” she said desperately.
“We can’t,” Lucius said quietly. “Not without an Auror.”
“I can help you there,” said Harry, removing the disillusionment charm from himself. Lucius whirled around, going for his wand, and Narcissa did likewise. Harry disarmed them both with two jets of light.
“Potter!” yelped Lucius. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m in the Order and I’m an Auror,” Harry pointed out. “I can help you.”
“How?” growled Lucius, his eyes narrowing.
“I’d say ‘trust me’ but somehow I don’t think it’d work. So…Stupefy!” he shouted, knocking them both out with another bolt of red light. He pulled out the D.A coin from his moleskin pouch and sent a message to Ron, telling him to keep watching Zabini. Then, he grabbed Lucius and Narcissa and disapparated back himself.
“Harry-Jesus!” yelped Hestia, dropping the parchment she was carrying. “Wha-how?” she said weakly.
“Long story,” said Harry evasively. “Can you look after them? I need to talk to Gawain.”
“Sure,” she said, distracted. “He’s in his office.” Harry nodded his thanks and hurried over to Robards’ office, knocking on the door.
“Enter,” said Gawain briskly, and Harry did. As usual, Gawain was buried in paperwork. “Aren’t you supposed to be watching Zabini? Arthur told me he got off.”
“Ron’s got him,” Harry explained. “I went after Lucius Malfoy.” Gawain looked up from his paperwork, interest shining in his eyes.
“Zabini met him in the pub in Knockturn Alley. He’s in the office, Hestia’s watching him and Narcissa,” Harry explained. “They’re looking for Draco.” Gawain stroked his beard, looking at Harry.
“I’ll have them ported off to Azkaban in the morning,” he said finally.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” said Harry slowly.
“Grindelwald doesn’t seem the forgiving type to me,” Harry replied.
“He never went in after Dolohov,” Robards pointed out.
“All the same,” Harry said earnestly. “We should put them into hiding, maybe with Draco.”
“I’ll think about it,” growled Robards. Suddenly, Ron came bursting through the door, almost tripping over and looking exhausted.
“Zabini’s gone,” he panted. “Portkey.”
“Dammit!” cursed Gawain angrily. “I’ll have to write to the French ministry, asking for access to their records,” he grumbled. “You’ve done well boys. You’re dismissed for the day.”
“Why do I get the feeling we’re forgetting something about the Malfoys?” asked Harry, finally having given up on the mountain of paperwork for the third night in a row. The paper work related to the deaths of the foreign Aurors during the battle on the Saturday. He and Ron were once again sat in Grimmauld place’s living room, bent over their work which was sat on the coffee table. Ron shrugged.
“That’s Hermione’s department,” he reminded him, dropping his own quill.
“She’d make a great Auror,” Harry said wistfully. “Then again, she was never as keen on the fighting part as you or me.”
“No, she just saved our lives and was generally brilliant,” Ron said, and they both laughed. “It’s weird, her not being here. It’s always been us three, for what, seven years?”
“Seven,” Harry confirmed. “We’ll ask her this weekend, I’m sure she’ll help us out.”
“You mean if we ask her she’ll come up with something?”
“Yeah, pretty much,” Harry yawned. “How’s the money coming, for the ring?”
“Not too bad actually,” said Ron happily. “A few more shifts with George on weekends and I should have enough once the pay from the Aurors comes in.”
“So when you gonna ask her?” Harry said, leaning back on the sofa.
“When you get me very very drunk and tell me to do it, probably,” Ron laughed, and Harry grinned.
“Yeah, I can see it being like that,” he admitted. “She’ll say yes, you know.”
“Positive. You weren’t hanging around with her in sixth year when you were dating Lavender. I’ve never seen anyone so jealous.”
“I thought I’d blown it,” Ron admitted. “I don’t know why I did it,” he added miserably.
“Because you’re a massive idiot and you wanted to make her jealous because she kissed Krum?” Harry suggested, earning him a cushion to the face.
“Why’d you go out with Cho, if you’re so brilliant?” Ron challenged. Harry shrugged.
“I didn’t like Ginny until sixth year,” he admitted. “And I spent most of the year worrying you’d hit me if I went anywhere near her.”
“Now who’s the idiot?” Ron grinned. “I would rather you had your paws all over her than bloody Dean,” he said darkly.
“Aw come on, he’s not so bad,” Harry said. “None of your other brothers hate him.”
“George isn’t keen.”
“They looked okay when I saw them on Saturday night after the fight, in the leaky cauldron dancing on the table,” retorted Harry.
“Wha-nevermind, I don’t want to know,” Ron said. “You got any butterbeer?” Harry nodded and summoned a couple of bottles through. They had just opened them when a large, silver dog that Harry recognised as Gawain’s patronus zoomed in through the window.
“I need you both back at the office,” it said. “We’ve got an emergency.”
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