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The First Year, an Almost Happily Ever After story by Jet LaBarge
Chapter 26 : Ch 26 Sectumsempra Cuts and House Elves
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 4

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It was Sunday, January 2, 1999, and Harry was delighted they were going to be riding the Hogwarts Express one more time. They got to the station 45 minutes early, and they were going to be riding in the same compartment as Ginny had rode in when Hanna had her baby. In the compartment were Harry and Ginny, Ron and Hermione, Neville and Hanna with baby Frank. Kyle and Tammy Lewis were going to be on the train, and one of them was going to be in their train car and close to the compartment at all times.

Word spread quickly that Harry Potter was on the train. Few of the students ever got up early enough to catch Harry and Ginny for breakfast. Harry had either been not at dinner or gone so quickly after dinner that students did not have much of a chance to talk with them.One after the next, small groups of students timidly approached the carriage full of famous young witches and wizards and asked them to sign their Chocolate Frog cards. Some of the older students lingered a bit to ask a question or two of Harry. A couple of giggly third-year girls even had baby Frank chew the edges of their Neville Longbottom card.

With help from the Aurors, Harry and Ginny were able to visit briefly with every student who came to see them. Although most of the conversations with the throngs of students became somewhat automatic and repetitious, one visit was particularly difficult, David Jones. Harry asked David “How was your Christmas?”

“It was real hard with Nora not being there” he said. “I think Mum and Dad got more bad news.”

“We are doing everything we can to find her” Harry said. “We just have not had much luck finding most of the Death Eaters who escaped from the Battle of Hogwarts.”

When the train finally pulled into Hogsmeade Station, Harry and his companions were quite worn out and eager to head to off to the castle.

The Gryffindor table was set up with a crib on the end for Frank where he was flanked by Hanna and Neville. From that night on, Neville and his young family would occupy that end of the table whenever they ate their meals in the castle. Frank slept during most of the train ride, so by the time they arrived in the Great Hall, he was ready to eat. By this time Hanna had the nursing down, and could even eat a little while Frank was on her breast. Ginny told Harry “I’m not near ready yet, but some day we will have our own children.” Ginny remembered how good it felt to nurse Teddy for those three months.

After a day more tiring than the pair had hoped, the Potters were grateful to be back in their two-room suite. It was not home, but until the construction at Grimmauld place was finished, they really didn’t have a proper home. About half the time Fawkes was where Harry was, either at his office or at Hogwarts. The Phoenix seemed to be content to be at Hogwarts this day.

Monday it was back to school for Ginny, Hermione, and Hanna. For most of the classes Hanna wore Frank on a baby carrier, and he slept. She had arranged for baby sitters for as many of the classes as she could, and the older Frank got the more she relied on the baby sitters and the less she carried him around. Hannah soon learned that a three month-old sleeps far less often than a one month-old. She also learned that Frank could go longer between meals despite needing more nourishment at each meal.

Monday morning Harry got to work at 7:30 like he usually did. Al arrived at almost the same time. Harry went into Al’s office, and sat down.

The first thing Al and Harry talked about was staffing, and how they were going to be training the next level of managers. Al was impressed with Ron Weasley, and told Harry “We need to train Ron to be at least a team leader. If he does as well as I think he will he should be one of your key managers. What he has done managing people at the WWW store has given him more experience than anyone in this class of Aurors in managing people.

In addition there are two others of your staff who we should be training to be supervisors, Seamus Finnegan and Cho Chang. I can pair all three of them with three of my better Auror Supervisors, and over the coming month’s make sure we have the right people in place.”

Al passed over to Harry written reports on what had happened over the last 48 hours. A lot of it was routine, and was automatically routed to Gawain. Other things were “almost” routine, and although Gawain or leaders of other branches within the department handled these, Al was given copies .Other matters were handled by those Aurors directly under Al. These tended to be more serious or unusual. Attacks on Muggles or Witches or Wizards with Muggle connections were always sent to Al, along with property crimes against Muggle relatives and Muggle born.

Al had noticed that some of the same types of crimes were happening in France, and other countries on the continent. The French Auror office was cooperating by sharing copies of their reports with the ministry in Britain.

Al said “We need to find out where they are hiding. One key to finding that out is to figure out how they are getting to different places. We can do a reasonably good job of watching the floo network. We have some information on who is apparating where, but no real control. If someone uses a broom and disillusionment charms they can be impossible to detect. There isn’t any radar, Muggle or magical, that can detect someone on a broom with disillusionment charms. They could even walk or take a car or train, although dark wizards do not usually like Muggle transportation.

Harry, has anyone ever shown you how this stuff works?”

Harry answered, “No. I have been taught how to do things, but it’s like all magic. No one ever tells you how it works. I didn’t know anyone knew how anything worked.”

Al answered “We do not know how a lot of it works, but things like potions are partly chemistry and biology. The way witches and wizards are immune to so many Muggle sicknesses has as much to do with the potions we take as it has to do with any natural immunity of our bodies, although there is some of that. Some of it has to do with what we season our food with. People talk about magic like there is no explaining it.

The floo network is magical, but it has a structure you can see. Somebody has to make a Portkey. Let me get someone show you how some of that is done. It will help you understand what we need to do to control magical transportation.”

Harry was introduced to Travin Moll, who graduated from Hogwarts just before Harry entered, a Ravenclaw who was fascinated by how magical transportation worked. He showed Harry how the Floo Network was controlled. All of the British networks were monitored from a single control room. On the control room wall, was a giant map of the network. It looked, Harry thought, not unlike the Marauders Map. If you looked closely, you could see any fireplace and the ones connected to it, and you could see how a person would have to travel through several fireplaces to get to somewhere.

To set up a new fireplace you started at a known fireplace, took some magical cord, fastened it to the starting fireplace with a wand and some complicated fastening spell, and wound it around your wand with a magical knot, and apparated to the proper place. There was some magic with how you had to fasten the cord to the new floo. Harry asked if you had to go to a fireplace, and was told no but it was a lot easier to floo if you used floo powder because the feeling of apparating was not so strong and it was just easier on your body.

Shortcuts and magic carpets were set up in a similar fashion. (Magic carpets were forbidden in most of Europe but common in the mid-east.) Any time you had a passageway that you wanted to use over and over to go to the same place it was usually set up in a similar fashion, although the style of cord and number of them varied. There were other maps of known shortcuts, and you could put a charm on any shortcut to see if it was being used, or to see if certain people were using it. You could also charm part of the floo network or individual shortcuts to detect if anybody but a certain few people were coming through. Since each shortcut had to be charmed one at a time it was not something that could be done easily. There were some things that could be done to all the parts of the floo network that were linked together, so they did have charms to detect known death eaters and keep them from using the floo network.

You could monitor the network to see who was using it, but it was not easy to record what was happening. It was in fact, quite like the Marauder’s Map; easy to observe but difficult to record.

There was something similar going on with people apparating. If you knew what to do you could tell in real time what was going on, and there were certain charms or spells you could use to make it difficult for some known people to apparate, but it was not easy.

Harry spent a day learning all he could about the floo network and magical passageways. He knew that if he had any specific questions he could come back and ask, but he did not need to spend any more time here.

Tuesday, January 5 Harry Potter woke up at 6:00 AM, got dressed, woke up Ginny and they went to breakfast. Their school year routine was starting again. As they sat down for breakfast Harry asked “What are you going to be doing today, Ginny?”

“The same thing I do every weekday at Hogwarts, Harry love” Ginny said in a falsely sweet voice, giving Harry a hard time, “Classes and study.” Ginny showed Harry her class schedule, then pointing at Hermione said “Of course my dear friend Hermione will insist that we complete the entire week’s work by Tuesday if I plan to spend even an hour on the Quidditch pitch this weekend”

“You need to study really hard to pass your N.E.W.T.S. if you want a decent career after you graduate Ginny” Hermione earnestly said.

“How many N.E.W.T.S. do you have to pass to play Professional Quidditch?” Ginny sweetly asked Hermione.

“What if you don’t get picked?” asked Hermione. “What if you get cut from the team or get hurt? You can’t play Quidditch forever.”

“Then Harry and I will just have to focus our attention on creating the next generation of Potter Quidditch players! That should keep me busy, N.E.W.T.S. or no” a grinning Ginny replied, giving Harry a longing look.

Hermione just shook her head, then turned to Harry and said “You know she really is a good student most of the time.”

“Just like her brother” Ron, who was sitting right next to Hermione, piped up with.

Hermione glared at Ron and gave him a light whack.

“Actually, it’s a bit too wintry for Quidditch practice, so I expect I’ll be studying until my sexy man gets back. Back a little after 5:00 all this week?” Ginny asked.

Harry answered “I really have no idea what my schedule is going to be. It would be real nice to have a regular schedule. So far there is only one wizengamot scheduled for this month, on the 22nd.

Most of the trials are done, so it could be a short session” he told Ginny. “I do not see how many different things they can have me do and still learn how to be an Auror and manage the department.”

Harry was in Al’s office at 8:00 AM. Al looked at Harry and asked “How was your Christmas? Did you get any down time?”

Harry answered “Yes we did. We spent a couple of days doing almost nothing really, playing with my godson and looking over some of my father’s old papers. It was great to have a few days break from the constant urgency to get things done. I think Ginny and I really needed that.”

Al said “Everyone needs some of that, and the higher pressure the job, the more of that you need.

I’m going to introduce you our lead investigators Potter. They’ve been following up on all incidents we believe to be linked to dark wizards or escaped Death Eaters. They will be working with you.”

Al led Harry to a small, rather plain-looking office. There were three simple desks, each complete with a chair, a small file cabinet and a couple of wall-mounted bookshelves. On the wall opposite the door, there was a map of Brittan and Northern France. Harry noticed several brightly-coloured dots on the map. Al strode along beside Harry and touched his wand to one of the dots over a town called Castleton, on the Isle of Man. The dot enlarged itself, revealing a report of an incident that took place there recently.

“Brilliant!” Harry remarked.

“It certainly reduces office clutter” chimed an exotic-looking elderly witch whom Harry did not notice when he walked in.

“Ah Carmella, this is Mr. Harry Potter. Harry, Mrs. Carmella Budziszewski, team lead” Al said.

“Nice to meet you Mrs. Buzzewski was it?” said Harry offering his hand.

“Bud- Zis-ze-wi-Ski” the woman corrected. “My husband gave me a mouthful of a name I’m afraid. Just call me Carmella, everyone does.”

Harry studied the woman. Her curly hair was greying. Her features were distinctive. She had dark skin, although she was lighter than Angelina, but her face and eyes reminded him of a middle-aged version of Cho Chang.

“Does your husband work here as well?” asked Harry.

“Goodness no. He’s a research scientist at the National Wizard Lab in San Francisco. He’s currently trying to unlock the mysteries of magical spaces.”

“It must be difficult being separated then.” Harry offered.

“Well yes but we each do our best to see each other whenever we can” Carmella explained.

A younger witch and wizard entered the office. “Ah” said Al. “Potter, this is Igor Marcelletti and Marcelle laFlamme Marcelletti, Carmella’s partners.”

“Eet is nize to meet you Arry” said Marcelle in a voice which reminded him of Fleur.

“Harry Potter. I vos vonderink when I vould get the chance to meet you” said Igor extending a hand confidently to Harry.

Al left Harry with the three, and they showed Harry a map of where the incidents were happening. The incidents were concentrated around magical villages, with a fair number in or around London. Incidents usually seemed to happen for a while around one area, then move to another area. From what little they could see several witches or wizards would be involved.

“What about the kidnapped girls?” Harry asked. “Are we working to find them?”

“We’re not sure if there are dark wizards in several locations or one location” Carmella said, “Although we think they are in several locations. We are pretty sure both kidnapped girls are at the same location.”

There was no evidence of where their headquarters were, or how they were getting from place to place. Harry went out with both Carmella and the Marcellettis a couple of times each day, investigating incident scenes (they were not always crimes, sometimes just reports of suspicious activity) and although they found small traces of dark magic a couple of times they really did not find anything significant. Harry was told that a lot of this type of investigation was just hard work, following up on lead after lead before you got a break in the case.

“You are on call from now on, Harry” Carmella told him. “A lot of this suspicious activity happens after hours. Most of the Aurors have more or less a regular shift or schedule, but we need to be able to respond on a moment’s notice.”

“How often do you expect me to be called out after hours?” asked Harry.

“Probably a lot” Carmella ruefully admitted. “Don’t feel you have to be here at eight every morning, and if nothing is going on go home! Being on call is tough.”

Just because the intensive training was over did not mean that Harry was done with study. So Tuesday after dinner Harry and Ginny were at the desks in their room when a Patronus appeared, ordering Harry to go to the Ministry and then accompany Marcelle to a place where alarms had gone off. Harry gave Ginny a quick kiss and rushed into the floo.

“Who is it” asked Harry as he appeared at the Ministry.

“No idea” Marcelle said as she gave Harry the co-ordinates and they apparated to the spot. There were four other Aurors and four other Ministry people surveying the scene. “We can tell there was someone magical here” said one “by the magical traces, but we have no idea how many there were. As soon as a pair of us appeared they just vanished.”

“Wizards have a way of doing that” Harry remarked.

“The first persons on the scene put up anti-apparition wards” Marcelle said. “They should not have been able to apparate out of here”

“Could they get away any other way?” Harry asked.

“They could walk through some hidden passage I guess. I wish we had a way of knowing who we were dealing with” Marcelle said. “I hate these wild goose chases.”

“You don’t have any way of making a map or something of this place and seeing who is here?” asked Harry.

“I’ve never heard of a map that would identify the people at the place” Marcelle said. “That’s pretty powerful magic.”

“My dad and his friends made a map like that of Hogwarts” Harry said. “It didn’t make any difference where we were in England is still showed every soul in Hogwarts, where they were. Would it be helpful to make maps like that?”

“Helpful! To be able to know how many people were somewhere, and who they were, before trying to arrest someone! It would be right useful in avoiding ambushes as well! Not to mention if you were trying to arrest one person not knowing there were thirty more of his comrades in the building!” exclaimed Marcelle, getting very excited.

“I’ll see if I can find out how my father and his friends made the map” Harry said.

Tuesday night Harry got back before Ginny went to bed. Wednesday night there was a lot of activity at the locations that were tracked by the cell phones. In all cases wards were up when Aurors got to the locations, but when the Aurors tried to surround the location whoever was in there had disappeared. Thursday Carmella said that Harry was going to have to be ready to go on a few night missions, plus be available on the weekend, but he should make sure to get enough sleep and not rush into work, or go home for a nap, if he had to be up all night. “Unless someone calls you get in to work late tomorrow” Carmella said. “You have been working all day and half the night.”

Thursday after work Harry told Ginny “I’m ‘on call’ for at least a while. Carmella did tell me not to come in early tomorrow.”

“That does me a lot of good” a disgusted Ginny said. “I have classes first thing Friday!”

“I’m not supposed to work all day and then half the night too” Harry said.

“You’re not supposed to, but you will” Ginny said disgustedly.

“I’ll work hard to try and spend a little extra time here” Harry pleaded.

“I’ll believe it when I see it” Ginny replied.

Every other night the next week Harry was called away for some period. In most cases protective wards had disappeared when Aurors started to arrive, although there was one case where the wards did not disappear until after Harry had left. None of the locations were occupied, and although there was evidence of dark magic it was not very specific. Most of the locations had some sort of room underground, but not all.

Harry did go back to Hogwarts for a couple of lunches with Ginny, the first one in the dining hall where they were mobbed by students, the second one in their room. He also went into work late a couple of times, catching up on some sleep the first time and catching up on some couple time the second because Ginny did not have to be at her first class until the middle of the morning.

Two weeks after Harry’s first call out, Harry received another urgent call at two in the morning.Kyle Lewis went out with Harry, and they arrived at a house that was surrounded by protective wards. When the wards came down they found a young couple with cuts all over their body. One of the other Aurors asked “Have you ever seen cuts like this?

“Just once;” said Harry wincing, “This is a curse wound.”

“What sort of curse?” asked Kyle?

“Sectumsempra” said Harry solemnly.

The couple was being rushed to St. Mungo’s. Kyle and Harry immediately followed them to let the healers know what sort of wound they were dealing with.

When Kyle and Harry arrived at St. Mungo’s and located the couple, they were met by their healers who appeared stymied by the couple’s seemingly un-healable wounds.

“These are curse wounds. Without knowing what bloody curse caused them, anything we may treat them with to stop the bleeding may make things worse. Do either of you know what curse was involved?”

“The name of the curse is Sectumsempra” offered Harry. “I’ve –er seen it before.”

“I’ve never heard of it” said one of the healers with a desperate look on her face. “I don’t suppose you’ve ‘seen’ the counter-curse?”

Harry remembered Snape curing Draco Malfoy. How could he forget? Harry used this dark curse against Draco without any idea what would happen. “I may be able to find it. I need to go to Hogwarts and see if Professor Snape has the counter curse written down. I’ve seen him use the counter curse but the incantation was complicated.

“Go!” the healer exclaimed. “We don’t have much time!”

Harry flooed back to Grimmauld Place, and then to Ginny and his room at Hogwarts. (You could only get to the Hogwarts room from 2 fireplaces, the one in Grimmauld place and the one at the New Burrow.) Harry was frantic. “Ginny, Ginny, wake up! I need to get to Snape’s papers. We need to wake up Hermione right now!”

Ginny looked at Harry, threw the most basic of clothes on, and ran with him to Ron and Hermione’s room. Harry explained to Hermione how Snape had cured Draco’s wounds, and that there was a young couple bleeding to death at this moment from that curse. Hermione told Harry “I really have not spent much time looking through Snape’s papers. I think I know where to start, but there is no telling how long it is going to take.”

Harry said “I’ll get more help.” While Ginny and Hermione went to Snape’s old quarters to start looking through his papers Harry ran to Minerva McGonagall’s quarters and woke her up. “I’m sorry to bother you, but we need to know the counter-curse for Sectumsempra that Snape used to heal Malfoy. We have a couple bleeding to death at St. Mungo’s right now from what I think are those type of wounds, and the healers do not know what to do.”

“I’ll rouse as many of the teachers as I can to help” McGonagall said. “Harry, you go back to tell the healers that they we are working on it.”

Harry and his Auror shadow Kyle got back to St. Mungo’s about 2:30 AM. “We’re working on finding the counter curses” Harry said. Harry alone was given protective clothing and sent to the room where they were working on the young couple, so he could tell the healers that he had a team of people trying to find the counter-curse.

Harry recognized the injured young couple. They had been a few years older than he and Ginny when they first went to Hogwarts. He would later learn that they were a pair of Ravenclaw’s from Percy’s year. He had no idea what their names were or anything else except he recognized them. The girl was very pregnant, 8 months Harry learned. Things were going very badly for her, and when Harry first came into the room he learned that the baby was dead. One of the witches looked at Harry with despair in her eyes and said “It was not enough to cut the baby. They had to torture the poor child with the Cruciatus Curse, just to make sure the poor child died in agony.”

There were sheets of parchment floating above each bed, showing blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, and a couple of other vital signs. Harry eventually learned that they were similar to the displays at the bedside of patients in intensive care units in Muggle hospitals. Witches and wizards did not need all the tubes and wires, and they could track one thing that no Muggle instrument could. They could tell when the soul had left the body, that moment when a person’s body became an empty shell of remains.

Harry saw a large and a small parchment above the pregnant young girl’s bed. All the lines on the small parchment were flat, and some numbers read -0-. There was a little dove, which Harry learned was the symbol for the soul, on both adult charts but it was missing from the child’s chart.

About 3:00 AM the lines on the young girl’s chart started to go flat. The two healers had been working frantically with wands, potions, and by putting things on cuts, but nothing had been working. About 5 minutes after the lines went flat the symbol for the soul started to fade, and the two faced each other and the witch healer said to her male partner “We have to tell the parents.”

Harry could hear the scream on anguish from the mother when she had been told. “My only child! My grandchild! Gone!” The door was closed and the parents were let away, but Harry though he would remember those words for the rest of his life.

Meanwhile the other Witch and Wizard were frantically working on the young man. They had slowed the amount of blood flowing from most of the cuts, and had managed to replenish some of his blood. Harry was pressed into service holding patches over various cuts and emptying what seemed to him like gallons of spilt blood. About 4:30 the lines on the young man’s chart finally went flat. The Witch and wizard looked at the young man for about 10 minutes, utter exhaustion and despair on their faces, before they slowly walked out of the room.

Harry felt as beat and defeated as he had ever felt. He ended up standing at the far wall of the room, with his head against the wall, fighting back tears. He really did not want to walk out of the room and face anybody.



About 3:30 someone, no one could remember who since Sue Shook and Tammy Lewis, the Aurors, and it seemed over half the Hogwarts staff were looking through Snape’s papers, found the spells to fix Sectumsempra cuts. They were maddeningly complex and subtle, and you were warned to practice on animals you could sacrifice before trying them on humans. If you did not do the spells just right you could do more harm than good. It took until 3:45 to get practice set up.

“I’ll make a few mice” Minerva said, and they tried to cut and heal the mice. The problem was that too many of the mice died before you could even start to heal them. Minerva made a few bigger animals, and that was a little better. They did notice that after Minerva transfigured something to an animal and they healed the cuts when the animal was transfigured back into its original object the original object was obviously repaired, and not always nicely repaired. Dead non-healed animals transfigured back were just junk.

Finally Ginny said “I can make just a couple of cuts, and heal them.” She showed them the work she had done on a pig. “There’s only one way to see if it will work on humans...”

“Nooo! Are you mad?” Hermione shrieked at her friend.

Ginny ignored Hermione. She slowly directed her wand at her left forearm and muttered “Sectumsempra.”

Pain seared across Ginny’s face as her arm split open and began spurting crimson.

“Ginny!” Hermione cried.

Ginny’s knees buckled momentarily as she was overcome with a wave pain. She steadied herself and began to force the incantations for the counter-curse through gritted teeth. Remarkably, she was able to close the wound, though not as neatly as she would have hoped. This she realized would be one more scar for her to bear.

“I cannot believe you!” Hermione said incredulously.

“It was the only way to know for sure.” Ginny said.

By four forty five, Ginny thought she was ready to try the spells on another human. She rushed back to her room, took the floo to Grimmauld Place and from there to St. Mungo’s. As she rushed into St. Mungo’s she asked for Harry Potter and they took her towards a room, put a white protective gown on her, and let her into the room.

Ginny could not believe what she saw. On the right side of the room was a very naked very pregnant woman, as white as could be, with congealed blood coming out of what seemed hundreds of wounds. On the left hand side of the room was a naked young man with as many cuts. Slowly turning around was her Harry, looking as tired and defeated as she had ever seen him. “We’ve lost them both, and the baby as well” Harry said. “They were classmates, Ravenclaws’ from Percy’s year.

“I think I know how to heal those cuts” said Ginny “but it’s too late for them.” Harry and Ginny held each other for a brief moment, then both took off the white gowns and slowly walked out of the room. By this time Hermione had also appeared, but as soon as she saw the look on Harry and Ginny’s face she knew that they were too late.

Harry tried to take Ginny’s arm and lead her from the room. She winced and pulled her arm away. That’s when Harry noticed her arm. “Blimey! What happened to your arm?” Harry asked.

“I had to test the healing spells on somebody” said Ginny, very quietly but with a fierce glare. “Who else could I have practiced on?”

“Did it hurt?” asked Harry.

“DID IT HURT?” screamed Ginny. “YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT IT HURT! IT STILL HURTS! AND IT DIDN’T DO A DAMN BIT OF GOOD DID IT? It’s going to leave ANOTHER BLOODY SCAR! Harry, they’re not going to defeat us. I am going to learn those healing spells until I can do them in my sleep.”

Ginny sat down, shaking. Slowly, she collected herself. “Harry, I’m sorry. I guess I’m feeling a little vain. I want so badly to be a beautiful as I can be for you. I can’t do that if I keep scarring myself can I?” she asked.

Harry said “Ginny, you are the most beautiful girl in the world. You always will be, even when we are old and grey both of us are all full of wrinkles, you will be the most beautiful girl in the world to me. I’ll love you no matter what. My brave, brave, brave heroine, I love you because you are brave and tough enough to do this.”

Ginny did not cry, but you could tell that she was working hard to control herself. Harry could also tell that one way Ginny controlled the tears was by getting very mad and very determined. “I don’t love you just because you’re pretty” Harry quietly told Ginny, “although I do think you are the cutest girl at Hogwarts. I love you because you are brave and tough! You are so strong, so gutsy! Thank you for learning how to heal those awful cuts.”

Hermione entered the tragic scene moments later. Seeing the look upon her friend’s faces, she knew they had been too late. She sat silently with them for several minutes.

The healers approached Ginny and Hermione. “Did you find the counter-curse? Can you heal this type of wound?” One of them asked.

“Yes, we learned the incantation and the method but we still need to perfect it” Ginny said.

“Can you teach us?” the healer asked.

Hermione said “We can show you what we’ve learned. Perhaps you can improve upon the method once you’ve learned it. Once you do, I’d like to share it with Madam Pomfrey at Hogwarts, just in case it is ever needed there.”

Ginny sat with a look of concentration on her face. She was going over the counter-curse and healing method in her head so as not to forget it. After a few minutes, the healers approached her and gave her a potion which they told her would lessen her chances of her wound scarring or becoming infected.

It was almost five o’clock in the morning, but no one could sleep. Harry asked one of the Aurors “Was anybody else in the house?” “No one,” he was told, “except for a couple of house elves. Everybody knows you cannot get any information out of house elves.” Harry thought a little about this. He did not see why you could not get a lot of information out of house elves if you just asked, so he called for Kreacher.

“Kreacher” Harry said, “We just lost a pregnant witch and her wizard husband to what we think were death eaters. There were house elves in the house, but none of the wizards think we can get any information from them.”

Kreacher asked where the house was. When told he looked a little surprised, then worried. “Master and Mistress needs to rest” Kreacher said. “I will have more for you after you sleep.” So everybody went back and slept until mid-afternoon.

Mid-afternoon, after Harry and Ginny were both up, Ginny went to her last class of the day and Harry went to the office to talk to Carmella Budziszewski. “Could we ask the house elves what happened?” Harry asked Carmella.

“Well you can certainly try Potter” said Carmella. “But trying to get information out of house elves can be a pretty fruitless endeavour.”

Harry called for Kreacher, who appeared almost immediately. Harry asked “Should we go over and talk to the house elves. How should we best approach them?”

Kreacher looked at both Harry and Carmella and said “Many of the houses where you found dark magic were or are owned by the Harry Potter Estates, and were owned by Tom Riddle or one of his followers.” Kreacher had a list of properties, and Carmella decided that they would have to place magical warning charms and wizard cell phones at any property that Harry owned or used to own. Kreacher also had a similar list for France and most of Western Europe. Carmella told Kreacher that she would try to get these guarded as well, especially any that had people living in them.

Kreacher told Harry and Carmella that they were trying to get clauses in the legal paperwork, in any property that had been sold or that was going to be sold, starting with those that were inhabited by house elves, giving Harry and the Aurors permission to talk to the house elves.

Meanwhile Harry refunded the couple’s money for the purchase of the house to their next of kin. This effectively returned ownership of the house elves to Harry.

Kreacher told them he would come along for the first couple of these, but they needed a young house elf that can act as an assistant in these types of investigations. The house elf quarters at Grimmauld Place were finished and two single house elves were already living there. The old lady elf was very upset with Harry and Bill for tearing down “her” house even though it had been vacant for 50 years and had fallen in to disrepair. Mabel, they learned her name, would soon become a loyal defender of the Potter house. In fact, a pair of workmen learned this the hard way when they came to install a carpet at Grimmauld place and failed to produce their identification quickly enough.

Kreacher said that Mabel had two daughters that were assigned to other households, but that one of them had a son who was not owned by anybody other than the Potter Estates, and he wanted to help Harry. His name was Dobedo (dough be do) and he was very young and very excited to be owned by Harry and to be given a chance to work with Harry. “I call him if you like” said Kreacher, and when Harry agreed young Dobedo appeared with a big smile on his face. Kreacher said “Keep quiet and listen today. Do not even say yes or no, just nod your head when asked and keep quiet!” Dobedo nodded his head yes and listened intently to everything said.

Harry and the two elves went over to the house where the young couple lived, along with Jim Shook, Kyle Lewis, and Carmella. Al was very nervous when Harry was out on assignment without a lot of other Aurors around, and had conveyed that to the entire staff of Aurors. The four wizards stayed in the living room of the house while Kreacher and Dobedo went to talk to the house elves.

When Kreacher and Dobedo came back Kreacher said to Dobedo “Tell Master Harry what we found out.”

“Master Potter, Dobedo is so proud to be working for you and in such important job and thanks you so much!” said Dobedo, the words rushing out, before Kreacher interrupted him with “DOBE just tell Master Harry what he needs to know. Slowly!”

The young house elf hung his head in shame, said “Sorry” to Kreacher, and then turned to Harry and slowly said “The house elves said that black witches and wizards came in through a secret basement room. They know the room. There seems to be some secret passageway out of the room that they do not know about.”

Dobe looked at Kreacher, who said to Harry, “Any questions?”

“Can we see this room?” asked Harry.

“Yes” said Kreacher, and he led them down to the basement to a small storage and potion making room. He walked over to a wall, snapped his fingers and a doorway opened for the Aurors to enter.

Before they went in Jim Shook told Harry “We have been told in situations like this one of us goes in before you, and one stays outside the room.” He then went in, followed by Carmella and then Harry. Kyle stayed outside the room. Everyone had their wands drawn. Carmella and Harry could feel the presence of dark magic and could almost feel the presence of more space, but could not pinpoint where it was or how to get to it.

Harry looked at Carmella and said “Your husband is investigating magic space. Could he help find what more there is in this room?”

Carmella looked like a light bulb had gone off in her head. “Yes, he and a couple of colleagues probably could! I’ll ask him.”

The staff of Aurors, plus the house elves, spent a little more time going over the house before going back to the office. Kreacher asked if Harry would like to see the new house elf quarters at Grimmauld Place, and Harry enthusiastically agreed.

The house elf quarters were just as they had been designed. It was a good thing that Harry was small because he could just stand up in the living quarters and had to kneel down to look into the bedrooms. There was carpet on the floor and cupboards to store personal possessions, and a clothes bar with uniforms. Mabel was a sour looking old house elf wearing a “Harry Potter” dress as her uniform. It looked as severe and no nonsense as she did. “I make sure nobody go through the floo or get in the house unless they have good reason to be here!” Mabel said, and when Harry thanked her she gave him a suspicious and slightly disdainful look as if to say “Masters do not thank house elves.” Harry just laughed quietly to himself.

Kreacher and Harry sat on the floor and spent about an hour talking to Dobedo about what he was going to be doing. Harry asked if Dobedo could protect himself and others, and Dobedo said he had talked to house elves that were in the Battle of Hogwarts and he was sure he could come up with a way of helping if he had to fight.

Before they left Kreacher opened the door to his quarters, which had been shut the entire time Harry was in the elf quarters, and a very shy female house elf peered out of the door. Kreacher introduced her to Harry Potter, and she shyly bowed down. Kreacher said Azaleas was working outside the house teaching other small house elf children, without pay, and that they were both glad she could help house elves get educated.

There was no more night action until two and a half weeks later, Tuesday, February 2, when they got an urgent call from the French. There had been an attack at another house, and four people were cut. Harry and Ginny, Ron and Hermione, along with Jim, Sue, Kyle, Tammy and Sidney went to the Ministry, took the floo to France, and when there went to the French hospital. From there Ginny, Hermione and Sidney, plus Sue and Tammy, stayed at the hospital and the rest went to the house. Harry called for Dobedo as they arrived. There were ten French Aurors there, and the two groups started to go over what they had found.

Harry was nervous, and Kyle and Jim were also getting nervous. There were a lot of Aurors there, but the place felt evil. About 15 minutes after they arrived about 20 dark wizards appeared suddenly and started to attack. Harry, Ron, Kyle and Jim all thought of their emergency cell phone buttons at the same time. Everybody immediately began to counter attack. Harry heard a “Krack-whack” followed by another and another, and one dark wizard after another was downed by something other than a spell. Two of the dark wizards were dead, one was wounded and captured, and one French Auror was dead. The Aurors had all been injured; three of the French Aurors were serious wounded and were taken immediately to the French equivalent of St. Mungo’s.

Dobedo held a bloody meat cleaver in his hands. Apparently, the “Krack-whack” sound Harry had heard was the sound of Dobedo apparating from spot to spot and thrashing the dark wizards with a meat cleaver. Before the fight was over, Dobedo attacked no less than seven dark wizards. Dobedo, Harry had learned, was a formidable foe!

With an emergency summons from Harry, Ron, Kyle and Jim it seemed that Al had scrambled half the Aurors in Britain and a quarter of them in France. “I told you to have plenty of back up, Harry!” yelled Al, “Why did you let him out with so few people?” as he looked at Jim and Kyle.”

Harry answered “there were ten French Aurors here, plus Jim, Kyle, Ron and Dobedo my house elf assistant, maybe I should say my house elf assassin since he disabled 7 of the attackers himself. Somebody left without part of their leg!”

Al looked at the little house elf smiling proudly with his bloody cleaver and the remnant of someone’s leg and said “My God! I’m going to have nightmares about house elves with cleavers.” Al shook his head, looking back and forth at the little house elf, the bloody leg, Harry, about 3 or 4 times shaking his head, before he said

“Harry, I think someone out there does not like you. I cannot ask for more protection, but keep your young house elf with you, and thank you for taking both Jim and Kyle with you.”

At this moment Sidney showed up and said “We saved all four of them, the parents and both children! They will all have a few scars, but nothing major. The girls are working on the two Aurors who were cut.”

Sidney looked at the scene, and saw the evidence of a battle. When he saw Dobedo with the cleaver and the leg fragment he looked at Al and Harry and said “Good Grief! Damn! I hope he is on our side!”

Harry said “I asked Dobedo to come up with a good way to help in a battle if needed, and I think he did a fantastic job.” Looking at Dobedo he said “Thank you Dobedo. Am sure you saved lives today, maybe even mine. You did an excellent job.” Harry then put his fingers to his lips to indicate that Dobedo should stay quiet. He knew that if Dobe started to thank Harry he would run at the mouth and spend precious time with over the top thanks and gratitude.

Al said to the people around him “I wish we could find a friendly reporter to get this in the papers. We need people to know about dark wizards coming in through basements, and about the types of attacks.”

Harry said he knew of a friendly reporter and conjured up a Patronus to send to Cindy Base. She and a photographer were there within 5 minutes, before most of the others had left and before Dobedo disappeared for a brief time to put his cleaver away. As a result the photographer got a picture of the house elf with his bloody cleaver and an unattached part of a leg and foot at his feet. As the photographer was taking photographs Harry said to Cindy “We need a good article on this attack and a previous one. We need the entire Wizarding community to know dark wizards frequently come in through hidden rooms in basements, and we want everyone to be on the lookout for this type of wizard and attack.” Cindy went around and got as complete story as she could about the current attack and the previous one.

Al dismissed most of the British and other foreign Aurors, and someone from the French Ministry dismissed most of the French Aurors. Carmella, who had also shown up, led a brief discussion of what had happened. Sidney interviewed the adult victims who were healed. They told him they knew where the cellar was and that they had managed to detect the presence of dark magic just before the attack. Cindy went to the cellar as well. Al and Harry told Cindy that there was a lot more to the story, and if she could wait a day they could fill her in and take her to the house where the young British couple were attacked.

Harry finally headed to the French hospital to pick up Ginny and Hermione and go back to Hogwarts.

Meanwhile Ginny had healed one of the children, and then when the Aurors were brought in started tending a witch who had a lot of serious cuts. The staff at the hospital was very interested in how to heal the cuts, and Ginny spent about half an hour both healing the cuts and showing the French healers how to do it. She also gave them instructions on how to treat the healed areas so they did not leave big scars, “Scars like mine” she said as she showed the healers her arm, which was still pretty scared up.

When everything was done Ginny sat down and looked at her patient. She was not much older than Ginny. She had on an extremely short dress, and under the dress instead of knickers there was a small piece of cloth that hardly covered what it needed to cover. She had on stylish high heel shoes, small but obviously expensive earrings, and a beautiful watch. Her dress was form fitting as only a witch could make it, and it covered a very shapely pair of hips, a waist that was as narrow as Ginny’s, and boobs that were, to put it mildly, big. She was a lot rounder than Ginny.

Ginny looked at herself. She had on worn out slippers with holes in the bottom and sides. She had on shorts with holes burnt through them (a potions class mishap). She was wearing an old knitted jumper her mother made for which was now several years old. With the haste at which she left her room, she had forgotten a bra and was feeling quite exposed and shabby.

On top of everything she was exhausted.

One of the American Aurors came into the room and said “Are you going to be OK, Laura?”

“I think so” Laura said.

“Ginny?” the Auror asked.

“I’m just tired” Ginny said. “Is everybody else safe?”

“The French lost one Auror, and the dark wizards lost two of their own. We captured one” the Auror said. “Harry is safe, if that’s what you want to know. I think he will be here before too long.”

“Harry?” the French witch asked.

“Potter” the American Auror replied.

“You’re Ginny Potter, and you’ve just saved my life” Laura said. “You really are an extraordinary witch! Thank you!”

“You’re welcome, Laura” Ginny said. “Laura?! Have you met Harry?” Ginny had heard that name before. Was this the curvy French witch Harry partnered with in Romania?

“Please don’t Bat Bogy Hex me, not after saving my life” Laura said. “I was Harry’s partner in Romania. He is maybe the nicest person I’ve ever met, and his love for you was … touching … very strong … I hope I can marry someone as good and faithful as Harry.”

Ginny just sat there for a little while, and then said “I’m sorry I’m not more social. I’m just exhausted.”

Eventually Harry was led into the room. He looked at the two witches and immediately went over to Ginny and hugged her hard, gently kissed her and hugged her some more. “The French lost an Auror” he said. “I think we would have had lots more casualties except Dobedo apparently has found a good weapon for a house elf to wield, a meat cleaver. He really saved the day.”

“Mr. Potter, please get up on the treatment table so we can examine you” one of the healers said. Laura got off and sat next to Ginny. A small team of healers spent about ten minutes going over Harry before letting him up.

By this time Harry knew that the other Auror was Laura DuPont, and he said to her “Laura, this is my wife Ginny. Isn’t she fantastic!?!”

“Real beautiful” Ginny said looking at herself, hair probably as messy as Harry had ever seen it.

“Oh you clean up real well” Harry said laughing. He got a wistful look on his face and said “Even after putting your elbow in the butter.”

“Harry, I was ten years old” Ginny said. “You still remember that? I was not very brave around you when I was little.”

“Ginny got these scars” Harry said, pointing out the two big scars, “the year before the battle of Hogwarts, and this one on her arm learning how to heal the Sectumsempra cuts. She’s maybe the bravest person I know.”

“Maybe I can find a nice guy now that I have some scars” Laura said, looking at her legs and arms and touching a scar on her face. “I haven’t had much luck so far.”

There was a loo in the room, and Laura excused herself to use it. About this time another Auror was led into the room, a short young wizard with a noticeable limp. He wasn’t too bad looking, if you ignored big bald patches where his hair should have been. “Thank you for coming, Harry” he said. “They told me your team saved our team’s lives.”

“This is my wife Ginny” Harry said. “Ginny, this is one of the French Aurors. I’m not sure I got your name.”

“Jean” the young man said.

About this time Laura came out of the Loo. The young man looked at Laura and got real nervous. Laura looked at him for a while, and finally said “Jean.”

“Laura, your legs, your arms, your face” Jean said.

Laura said “Harry Potter says his wife’s scars are bravery marks. Maybe I’ve been too perfect.”

“Oh no” Jean said. You could tell Jean was still very unsure of himself. Laura finally said “Jean, you’re brave. How come you don’t say more than two words to me?”

“Brave about most things” Jean said. “Not about girls.”

“Why?” asked Laura.

“Bad experiences at school, when girls laughed at me and my limp and I’m short I’ve got these bald spots on my head and I’m and not so good looking” Jean said.

“Jean” Laura said, “You are a nice guy. You don’t know how much trouble I have had finding a nice guy.”

“I … I … you always were too … Oh” Jean said, and he started muttering in French.

“He’s got his elbow in the butter” Harry said to Laura as he led Ginny out of the room.

Laura whispered to Harry and Ginny, as they were right outside the room so Jean could not hear, “Maybe I’ve been looking at the wrong men.” She then turned and went back into the room with Jean.



The next day Ginny, Ron and Hermione, and the rest of the people who were called to France slept late. No one minded but Hermione, who hated to miss a single class. Sidney cancelled his classes for the day. Harry had to attend a session of the Wizengamot, but he got a little sleep before and just dragged through the rest of the day. He could survive a day with little sleep, but he felt it.

Late that afternoon Harry and Al went over the rest of the story, taking Cindy to the other house, and reviewing what she had written.

The story as it came out the next day covered almost a full page, spread over the front and 3rd pages of the paper, with photographs of the 2 basement rooms and good reasoned warnings about what to be concerned about and what not to be concerned about. It talked a little about both of the battles and some other battles with dark wizards. It mentioned Dobedo and the meat cleaver in passing as part of the story of the 2nd battle.

Unfortunately the headline was as sensational as the story was good and balanced. There on the top of the paper was House Elves with meat cleavers despite there only being one house elf, and there was a photograph of Dobedo with the meat cleaver and severed leg.

The story was picked up by almost all the Wizarding press, and it seems the lead photograph was the same on all the papers. The reaction was immediate, and not all of it favourable. There were a large number of letters to the editor questioning the policy of letting house elves even help Aurors, and the idea of house elves being armed was terrifying to most of the letter writers. Wizards were talking to Robards and Kingsley and anyone they could find on the Wizengamot.

Hermione was spending part of most Fridays at the Ministry, and she got an earful. Within the week she told Harry “This one photograph may have set the cause of house elf rights back 100 years.”

“House elves fought at the Battle of Hogwarts” Harry remarked.

“There are a lot of people who just found out about that, and are not happy” Hermione said. “You have really stirred up a nest of bees with this one.”

What surprised Harry was that many house elves were also not happy.

Kreacher told Harry one night “Kreacher happy Dobedo saved Harry Potter’s life, but newspaper has house elves very upset.” Over the week after the article appeared four house elves from Hogwarts showed Harry the article and wanted to talk to him. Harry ended up spending about four hours talking to various house elves or groups of house elves. It seems that house elves had escaped having to take sides in the many battles that had taken place in the magical world over the past 4,000 years, and what the story implied was that now house elves were going to take their place besides wizards in battles, something that went against 4,000 years of tradition.

Some witches and wizards began talking with their house elves about matters of concern aside from just meals and housework. The house elves had to start thinking about things they had escaped having to think about before.

Cindy published another large article about Dobby and his sacrifice, Harry burying him, Kreacher and the Battle of Hogwarts, the house elf assistants of the North American Aurors, and Dobedo and his training to do more for Harry than just wield a meat cleaver.

Kreacher helped Cindy with the story, and in return she agreed to end his part of the story with the battle of Hogwarts. He was becoming too much a part of the management of the Harry Potter Estates to make the people who were against house elf rights comfortable, and he wanted to keep a low profile for as long as he could.

For well over a month there were no more attacks that could be attributed to the group that had been causing all the trouble. They seemed to have vanished from the face of the earth.

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