Chapter 5 : Unexpected
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Chapter 5 - Unexpected
After the end of the war, the Ministry had gone under a cleansing period. It had turned out that the amount of power thirsty and cruel employees was far bigger than the number that was estimated at the beginning and the sad part was that most of them were not even Death Eaters. The Ministry of Magic was rotting away from the inside out. Thankfully, Kingsley and the rest of the Order was determined not to let the post-war period completely wreck what was left. A lot of wizards and witches in high places within the Ministry had been replaced, or worse had been taken to justice for their crimes during the reign of Voldemort. Gradually and as the wizarding world had started healing its wounds, people begun to trust the Ministry again, even if it was still far from perfect; but as things slowly turned back to normal, the demand for a place in the Auror office increased immensely. It seemed that after everything, a lot of people wanted to help keep criminals inside Azkaban. A lot of these people had regretted it, after meeting with the Head Auror, Gawain Robards.
Gawain Robards was a difficult man. He was demanding and strict and as touchy as a zit full of pus. He only allowed the best of the best inside the Auror office and he was an expert in discouraging the youngsters that graduated from Hogwarts, dreaming of saving the world. All of the Departments were afraid of the Head Auror and some would go so far as to compare him with MadEye Moody. Most agreed that no one would ever be able to surpass MadEye, but a few, who had seen Robards at his worst claimed that he could give Moody a run for his money. And today Gawain Robards was really angry.
“Potter!” he exclaimed the moment he spotted the door of Harry's office opening.
Harry, who had tried to pass as undetected as someone with a lightening bolt on his forehead could ever be, had to bite down on his lip, in order to keep himself from cursing out loud. He had sneaked inside the office he shared with Ron under his Invisibility Cloak and he just couldn't see how Robarts had figured out he was there. He needed to research everything about that Vaughn character, he had to track down Hermione and see what she learned, wait for Ron and arrange a meeting with an executive of the magical Child Protection Services. He had a lot to do and none of it included be given a lecture, which he could see coming his way at the moment, in the form of his fuming supervisor, whose red face reminded him vaguely of Uncle Vernon.
“Who's the Head Auror, Potter?”
“Hello to you too, Gawain”, Harry sighed.
He always found it kinda peculiar, how Robarts would refuse to call any of them with their first names and yet they could call him by his, without getting him upset. It was probably one of the few things that did not get him upset.
“Answer my question, Potter”, he demanded.
“You are”, Harry sighed again, knowing exactly where this was going.
“Then how come it's you that decided to abandon your mission and return to London, without reporting to anyone? How come it's you that ordered another Auror back as well, again without reporting to me or anyone else?”
“Gawain, the Minister was fully informed and honestly I don't see why you are so upset”, Harry replied. “It's not like there was much for us to do there anyway”.
“That is for me to decide!”, Robarts fumed.
“I know, but I needed to come back and I need Ron too”, Harry said. “I...my godson has been...taken”.
Robarts huffed and then considered him for a few moments.
“What do you mean taken? He's been abducted?”
“Well...not exactly”, Harry replied. “His grandmother came back and instead of talking to us and try to work things out, she decided that going to Gustav Vaughn and accusing us for child abuse was the most logical way to act”.
“Child abuse?” Robarts asked, his face turning an even darker shade of red; never a good sign. “That is a very serious accusation in my book”.
“Gawain, I'd never...”
“I know you wouldn't”, Robarts sighed, leaving Harry speechless for a few seconds.
Harry had concluded during his first week in the Auror office that Gawain Robarts hated him. He didn't expect him to act the way some of his co-workers or the other Ministry employees did, which was worship the ground he walked on, but then again he hadn't expected him to be a new, more hotheaded and definitely not determined to save his life, version of Severus Snape. Once, when Harry had been late by ten minutes to get to work, he had him working the night shift in the office for two weeks straight. He also insisted that it was Harry's fault, he had to go through the double amount of applications for the Auror office every year; his exact words were : "suddenly every little brat thinks he can save the world!" The man criticized his every move and was always more angered and strict with him than with anyone else and when it came to Gawain Robarts that really meant something. But while the Head Auror would explain why Harry was wrong to everyone, he would never admit that Harry was great at his job and of course he would never be one of those who considered Harry the strongest asset of the Auror office. The fact that he had just said that he didn't think Harry would be capable of child abuse was the first thing close to a compliment he had ever received. It was actually far from one, but it was the best he could have hoped for.
“Um...thanks, I guess”, Harry said after he got over the shock.
Robarts turned his back at him and begun pacing up and down the office. Harry glanced at the files he had pulled out and was unsure if he had gotten out of the lecture or not and whether he ought to get back to work. The Head Auror turned back to him after a few moments and he seemed to be in deep concern; Harry had also learned long ago that this particular look upon Gawain Robarts meant there was something seriously wrong.
“I hate child abusers”, Robarts said. “And it seems that lately we've been getting more and more of these cases”.
“What do you mean?” Harry asked. “Apart form the case Ron and I were researching in Kent, I don't recall...”
“Just because that was the most serious one, it does not mean, there hadn't been others”, Robarts threw back. “I will admit that our laws are not as nearly as rotten as they were during and even before the war, but trust me the way this Ministry works is way far from perfect. We have absolutely no way of preventing child abuse, no way of preventing wizards from doing whatever they wish with their kids and even in extreme cases we arrive far to late”.
“Kingsley says the Child Protection Services barely have any case to deal with”, Harry agreed.
“Exactly”, Robarts said. “Wizards do not like change and they definitely do not like the Ministry poking into their private lives. The wizarding world might have evolved, might have grown in some ways, but in some others we're still operating the way we did centuries ago. We still hide things under the rag and child abuse is definitely one of them, but I'm getting the feeling that the issue is about to get itself dragged into the spotlight”.
“But”, Harry begun uncertainly. “What has any of this to do with my godson?”
“Well, for starters if this was the Muggle world, you'd have gotten custody over your godson years ago and she wouldn't have a case. But as I said wizards deal with some things as they would centuries ago”.
“But...but we didn't think that there would ever be such a situation”, Harry argued, feeling the need to justify himself. “Andromeda abandoned Teddy and I was the only one left to take care of him. At first we thought she would return, after she had mourned her daughter's death and then we just...we...”
“Then you never gave it much thought”, Robarts finished his sentence. “That's because you are a wizard, Potter and wizards do not give much thought to formalities concerning their children; and that is the truth of it. Just search Child Services records and see how many trials over custody this Ministry has dealt with. I'm sure you'd be able to count them with your fingers”.
Harry did not like the way all these sounded at all. He couldn't see the connection between Andromeda's recent insanity and his last case and he deeply wished there wasn't one. But as he opened his mouth to ask whether Robarts knew anything else, the door swung open and a very flustered version of his best friend entered.
“I got Kingsley's letter”, Ron explained, throwing his luggage at the floor. “I can't believe Andromeda took Teddy. We're gonna have to...”
But he stopped talking, as he spotted Robarts glaring at them both.
“I'll let you have this one”, he said. “But the next time the two of you will go to the Minister behind my back and try to get out of a mission, it's going to be the last mission any of you will ever have, because I'm gonna have you buried in paper work”, he threatened and then with one last glare exited the office.
Ron turned to Harry and smirked.
“At least I didn't get the entire lecture”, he said.
“I'm not so sure it was a lecture actually”, Harry said, still contemplating everything his supervisor had said; he hadn't even thought that Robarts knew that much about such issues. “Anyway, we need to dig up everything we can on Gustav Vaughn and fast”.
Gwenog Jones was having a very bad day. First, she forgot her wind repellent gargles in her apartment and had to get all the way back from the stadium to get them. Second, she learned that their next game had been postponed, because the rival team was facing financial problems and then, her star player goes and falls off her broom.
As she paced up and down the waiting area of St. Mungo's, she sincerely hoped that there was something wrong with Ginny and that she hadn't simply lost her balance and fell off her broom. Imagine that! A Harpy falling off her broom, because she was day dreaming! What kind of a reputation would that give to her team?
The woman as still pacing up and down the hallway, still dressed in her team's uniform and with her blonde hair still in the bun, she always made for the practice, when the healer, who had examined Ginny, approached her.
“How is she?” Gwenog asked concerned.
“Are you a friend of Mrs. Potter?” the healer inquired.
“I'm her captain”, the woman replied impatiently.
“Well, do you have any way of contacting her husband?” he asked.
“I can sent a Patronus”, Gwenog answered, feeling more worried by the moment.
She had expected this to be a simple case of dehydration or an excess of stress, but the healer's face said otherwise and his suggest to contact Ginny's husband made her even more concerned.
“Be straight with me here”, she said. “What's wrong with her and will she be able to play the next game?”
“I somehow doubt it”, the healer replied, confirming Gwenog's worst fears.
“I still don't get it”, Ron said frustrated. “All this custody and abuse stuff sound ridiculous to me. Andromeda left, you took care of Teddy, what gives any court the prerogative to doubt that and to issue orders?”
Harry contemplated his best friend thoughtfully. He hadn't given much thought to Muggle laws for a long time, but he wasn't completely unaware of them like Ron was. His friend was a perfect example of what Robarts had suggested. Ron believed that who gets to watch over a child was an issue that families should deal with themselves and the idea of Harry giving an interview to some stranger from the Child Services, in order to be able to see Teddy was nothing short of idiotic to him.
In fact, Ron had suggested the two of them going and taking Teddy back without wasting any time, no questions asked. The idea did not sound all together bad on Harry's ears, but he knew that whoever this guy Vaughn really was, he would never let them get away with it. The man was far more experienced in manipulating the law, or the lack on any laws, than they were and Harry knew that Kingsley would never allow them to blatantly contradict a Muggle court order. Besides, Harry felt like they would be giving Andromeda exactly what she wanted, by not meeting her in court, it would be like admitting to her accusations.
“Have you talked to Hermione about...” Harry started saying, planning on asking about Andromeda's letter, but he stopped mid-sentence as his eyesight was lost, by a bright, unexpected light.
He tried to see through his eyelids, as Ron cursed at the surprise and spotted the source. An unknown Patronus, in the form of a tabby cat, had landed in the middle of his office.
“What the...” Ron begun saying, but didn't get the chance to finish his curse, because the unknown Patronus begun giving its message.
Teddy was bored. He was determined not to leave his new room, as a way to show his annoyance with his grandmother and Mr. Vaughn. He also didn't want to talk to that irritating boy, Martin, again. He got his way and no one came to bother him for the rest of the afternoon, but as evening was approaching and no one had sought him out, Teddy begun to wonder whether his grandmother had gotten the message or if she was in fact gladdened that he had stayed out of sight.
And he was bored. He had searched around the room, but there was nothing that could pick his interest and nothing he could play with. He had slept for a couple of hours, but still he kept waking up in search of Hugsy, but Hugsy wasn't there, Hugsy was back home. Mama Ginny was back home too. Teddy wanted to go back home too.
There was always something to do back home. There were books to read and toys to play with and Mama Ginny's delicious food to eat. He missed all that and he missed Mama Ginny. She was funny and nice and loud and the boy was never bored with her. Mama Ginny hadn't wanted him to leave, that much was clear to him. Teddy spend some nights away from home occasionally, when he slept at Victoire's or at grandma Molly's house, but he had never seen her get that upset about it.
Teddy huffed at himself, giving up on the idea of going back to sleep and turned around on his bed, to stare at the ceiling. He wondered where his Mama would be now and whether she was still worried about him. The boy knew that she had practice arranged for the afternoon, since he was to go at Shell Cottage. He tried not to think of Victoire and Dominique and their huge, ever changing collection of toys and of the fun afternoon that he could be having. Instead, there he was staring at the ceiling, with nothing to do and with his stomach too empty for his liking. Mama Ginny always made sure that he wasn't hungry and that he had eaten properly; she made him eat those green, smelly things, she called sprouts, too but he always forgave her when she gave him desert. His grandmother hadn't even bothered to talk to him, let alone make him something to eat. And that man. That man was more inclined to talk to him, than his grandmother seemed to be, but he hadn't bothered to explain what was happening to Teddy nor had he checked on him ever since. He was nothing like his Papa Harry.
Of course nobody was anything like his godfather. His godfather was kind and fun and strong and intelligent and protective and Teddy loved and missed him more than anything. The small boy felt his lower lip trembling and he knew that he was close to tears, so he just bit on it, not wanting to cry. He wanted his godfather to come and take him away from this strange and dusty house. He wanted him to hug him and run his hands through his hair and tell him that everything was okay. He wanted his godfather.
Ginny was staring at the ceiling, trying to put her thoughts in order. She still felt a bit dizzy and the buzzing from the medical machines all around her just added to that. She always hated hospitals. It just smelled like sickness to her and made her think of the battle in Hogwarts, where the injured were so many, that everyone had to help. Whenever her thoughts strayed back to those days, she could feel the smell of blood and ditany burning her nostrils. She closed her eyes as her stomach turned once again, the smells from the hospital making her want to throw up again.
When she came around, she was lying in a bed in St. Mungo's, but she didn't stay there for long, because she couldn't hold back the acid that climbed up her throat. She had been sick a couple of times since then; her mother's casserole didn't look all that delicious, coming back out. But that thought was enough to make her retch again, but she didn't bother leaving her bed and rushing to the bathroom, since she already knew that there was nothing left in her stomach. She fell back into her pillows exhausted, her head throbbing painfully.
Gwenog had informed her that she had alerted Harry when she left. Her captain hadn't been very happy with her, though Ginny knew that even if Gwenog seemed more worried about her team than anything else, she really did care about her teammates too and there was a part of her captain that was happy for her. A very small part, since the big game with the Canons was coming up and Gwenog's entire game strategy would have to change now, but still Ginny knew it was there.
Ginny huffed impatiently, already sick of laying down and anxious for Harry to finally get there, though on the other hand she wished he would take his time, allowing her to think of exactly what to say to him. Knowing her husband though, the moment he'd hear that she had been admitted to St. Mungo's, he would drop everything and rush there as fast as he could.
She wasn't proven wrong, as only ten minutes passed, before Harry came through the door of her room, his eyes falling on her immediately. His eyebrows were scrunched up in worry, making her smile at how cute that made him, as he rushed to her side, taking her hand into his own.
“Hey”, she greeted him and her calm and upbeat tone, made him let out a small, relieved sigh, which was replaced however almost immediately by a frown.
“Gin, what happened?” he inquired.
“Haven't you talked to my Healer?” she asked and he shook his head.
“I just rushed to your room”, he replied. “Gwenog's Patronus said you fainted during practice”.
Ginny sighed and sat up in her bed. The time it had taken Harry to get there, had done nothing to help her think of what to say and how to say it, but she guessed that the best way was to just get it over with. Harry was still looking at her with worry and she couldn't help but smile, caressing his cheek.
“You're so cute, when you're worried”, she commended and he huffed, sitting on the bed.
“What's wrong?” he demanded, but she leaned forward and kissed him.
He kissed her back, but only for a few seconds, because then he broke the kiss and fixed her with a stern gaze and she knew that she couldn't keep dragging this on.
“I did faint”, she said. “And I threw up a few times”.
“Why?” he inquired at once. “Are you sick?”
“Yeah”, she replied, but then considered it for a moment and shook her head. “No”, she said. “Not exactly”.
“Ginny, that's not very enlightening, honey”, he said and Ginny grinned, understanding that his patience was growing thin and her husband never really had any patience to begin with.
“Do you remember the match the Harpies had with that team from Spain, a couple of months ago?” she asked him and Harry frowned more, confused.
He could remember the match, he also remembered Ginny taking a Buldge on her right shoulder and her remark of that game, sent his heart racing again, as he thought of complications and health problems, that injury could have caused.
“What about it?” he asked cautiously, Ginny's mysterious grin, making it hard for him to make sense of this whole conversation.
“Do you remember what happened when we got home afterwords?”
Harry was thrown completely off track by this. He tried to think back to that evening. Paramedics had fixed Ginny's arm and even though Harry had been worried, she had appeared to be fine later and they had taken advantage of Teddy's sleepover at Victoire's, to celebrate the team's win by their own.
Ginny's smile grew bigger as she saw a flick of recognition pass over her husband's eyes and she knew that he could remember that it had been one of those times, when they had forgotten to cast the contraceptive charm. They had agreed that they would take some time, before they would consider having kids of their own, mostly because of Ginny's excellent performance at Quidditch, which required daily practices and spending half of her day in the air. Harry's work had been hectic as well, he and Ron taking up one mission after the other and they had Teddy to look after as well, so they kept on taking precautions, like they did before they had gotten married. Sometimes, however, like two months ago, after the game with the Spanish team, they would be to wrapped up with each other that they simply forgot.
“Ginny...” Harry whispered and she kissed him again.
This time it took him a few moments before he started kissing her back and she knew that he had been just as shocked by the idea that had crossed his mind, like she had been when the Healers told her.
“I'm pregnant”, she said. “We're pregnant”.
Harry's mouth fell open, as he stared at her. Ginny was suddenly overcome by nerves. It was something they hadn't planned and it definitely came in the wrong time, with Teddy and all.
“I know we didn't plan on...” she started saying nervously, but her voice was drowned mid-sentence, when Harry kissed her deeply.
“We're having a baby?” he asked her then and she nodded.
“I know it's not exactly perfect timing, with everything that happened with Andromeda. And Gwenog almost took my head off when she found out and we hadn't talked about it and we have to find a way to take Teddy back and...”
“Ginny, Ginny” Harry said, putting an end to her rumbling. “It's okay, we're gonna make it work. Gin, we're having a baby!”
“I know”, she laughed, ignoring the happy tears that littered her face. She threw her arms around him and kissed him again.
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