Chapter 12 : Breaching Contracts
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Albus hated his life. Hated it. He didn't know he would have ever used such a strong word to describe it, but over the last three years and after current events, he knew it was the only word possible.
He knew his life had to gone to hell in a single moment when he had been forced to open the chamber of secrets in his sixth year. From that moment on, his life had been a downhill spiral. He had killed a fourteen year old boy. He thought he had killed his brother. But his family was lucky to come out on top over the Namkens, but he had never been the same. Everyone knew he still hadn't recovered from the events; Albus would always consider himself a killer, but he had tried to get on with his life.
Last night he had even made a pact with himself to make an effort to lead a more meaningful life.
And then the person he hated most in the world had to come and ruin everything, had to come and demolish any and all progress he had made over the last three years.
He was suddenly and violently thrown back into the worst time of his life. And this was worse than last time. Now he was mortally wounded. Now he could do nothing but lie in a hospital bed as his family struggled to determine what he already knew. He was hopeless in helping them. He couldn't move, he couldn't speak, he couldn't even open his eyes.
When he was awake, he was fully aware of his surroundings. He was aware of who was speaking to hi, of who was holding his hand or toying with his hair. He was aware of it all, and feeling the love from all those around him and his inability to help made him hate the situation to be of no use. He was crying on the inside; he was breaking. He couldn't handle this. He was already too fragile.
He had so much to tell them. He had to. He had to tell them it was Parker who hurt him; he had to tell them Parker had a secret agenda to take them all down. And he couldn't.
He didn't know how long he had been lying in that bed for. He assumed it had been a few hours now. Perhaps even a day. He did his best to try and sleep. When he could do nothing but worry while he was conscious, he actually much rather preferred sleeping to being awake and fretting about things he had no control over. His life was in his father's hands now, but Albus had faith in him. He trusted his father would find a phoenix to heal him.
One thing Albus knew for certain, though, was that James had yet to leave his side. Ever since he had arrived at St. Mungo's, James hadn't budged. That fact made Albus cry inside with happiness. Seeing how much his brother cared was touching.
Even as he lay motionless in his bed, he could feel his brother growing weak and tired as time passed. His brother had laid his head on the mattress by Al's hand, and Albus had tried with all his might to move his hand into his brother's hair, to clutch his long, raven locks lovingly, to give his brother a sign that he was still in there, that this was all okay. But he couldn't muster it. The one twitch of his hand when James had first arrived as all he could manage; he had put so much strength into that small ounce of movement that he had nothing left to spare.
Luckily for Al though, he found his hand moving into his brother's hair even as he was unable to move it himself. James had taken his brother's hand and placed it atop his head himself. It was yet another thing that made his brother smile within. Even in the darkest of times, his brother was there to put a smile on his face.
He felt his brother stir from beside him, and Albus strained himself to listen to his brother's soft murmur. "Dad's going to make you better, Al. He will, and if he doesn't, then I will. I promise."
Albus smiled inwardly, and he begged for his fingers to give his brother some sign that he was listening, that he understood and appreciated him.
I love you, Jamie, thought Al. So much.
He listened to James go on and on about the most random things. At first he whispered his desperation for Al to get better. Then he apologized for the things James regretted doing to his brother, such as giving up on him three years ago, and then he began to profusely declare that he would never give up on his brother ever again, that he loved him dearly and that their conversation three years ago in the Hospital Wing had been one of the most pivotal moments in his life in relation his relationship with Albus.
Al knew all these things already, but he still enjoyed hearing it. James wasn't very vocal when it came to his inner-thoughts. Not anymore. He used to be, but Albus wasn't the only one who had noticed that that had changed after the events at Azkaban. James used anger as means to everything, so any moment when James was voicing his deepest thoughts and acting without a trace of anger was a moment to be cherished.
It will all be okay, Al found himself thinking, desperately wishing he could tell his brother. I have faith that it will all be okay.
His thoughts trailed off. He didn't know why his father was taking so long, and so he found his thoughts wondering. He came up with many scenarios in his head as to why his father could be taking so long, but the first scenario that came into his head was if his father couldn't find a phoenix. What if that really was the case? What if Harry was taking so long because he couldn't find out? He wondered what his family knew and what they werenít telling him. He had heard his fatherís voice at one point in time, hours ago after Albus knew he had left the first time to retrieve a phoenix. And he hadnít gotten better then. Something told him that there was something wrong about the entire situation.
Al found himself beginning to mildly panic, but after a few moments, he found his panic beginning to diminish. He was strangely okay with the prospect of not being saved. He didn't know where the thought came from or why he was thinking the way he was; he didn't know why he was okay with dying in that moment.
But something in the pit of his stomach told him to let go of life and the ones he loved. Something inside him told him that this was his time.
Harry sat in his large chair behind his desk at the office. He moaned under his breath and rubbed his forehead. The end of regular business hours was approaching, and he had been at the office since informing his family of the situation with the phoenixes. He knew he was wasting time with every moment he spent sitting behind his desk, but he just didn't know where to go from here.
With the information he had been given from the Healer, he knew Albus would last a few more days. Three or four at the most, but Harry had wasted half a day trying to decide where to begin. He had to save his son. He knew he was the only one who had the number of countless resources that he did. His son's life was in his hands.
Once again reassured with that thought, he abruptly rose from his seat and exited the office. Upon entering the main area of the Auror Department, the few Aurors that were scheduled at desk work for the day looked up to him in questioning.
One of the newer Aurors asked quietly, knowing the delicate situation Harry was in, as he news of his son had spread like wildfire. "Is there anything I can do for you, Mr. Potter?"
"Sure, Abigail," he answered, surprised at the sound of his raspy voice from his parched throat. "You can get me a blank warrant."
Abigail rose from her desk and disappeared into the file room. He turned to another Auror, ready to demand his assistance as well. He never demanded too much of his Aurors; they were good and they kept themselves in line and did as they were told. Harry also had very few moments when he would make demands of them all at once, but now was one of those times. He had to take action.
"And you, Jonathan," he called to a young Auror a few cubicles over, "you can call in Thomas and Briggs. They're both on call tonight. Tell them they're bringing brought in for arrest duty and must report to my office within the hour. Then Stephen, prepare a interrogation cell for a containee, and then have both Karalyne and Julia prepare themselves for containment duty."
"Yes, sir," answered both Stephen and Jonathan in unison. They rose from their cubicles and split ways to take care of their direct orders.
Just then Abigail returned with a blank warrant in her hand. Harry took it from her and immediately snatched a quill from her desk. He used the wall of her cubicle to address the warrant without further ado. He filled in all the appropriate bits of information: the date, his full name, the reason for the warrant of arrest, and then the name of the person he had every intention of arresting that night.
His Aurors acted quickly as they were told. Within a half hour, his requested Aurors had reported in for their assigned duties and were ready to take further orders for Harry. He waited quite impatiently outside a interrogation cell, despite the small amount of time that had passed since he issued the warrant. But he found that his patience was running up.
Karalyne and Julia stood outside the interrogation cell with him, waiting for the arrival of Pansy Namken, and then finally Thomas and Briggs apparated into the ward with Pansy clasped between the two of them. Her hands were magically bound, but her struggle was still apparent. Pansy was weakly thrashing about, and she protested quite loudly. "Let me go! I haven't done anything! You have no right to arrest me. You have no evidence. No proof!"
Harry watched Briggs grab her arm abruptly as they hauled her down the hall, and he snarled into her ear. "Quiet, woman. Your words can and will be used against you. Choose your words wisely."
Harry quite liked Briggs' abrupt approach to things at times. Sometimes he was reckless and didn't think before he acted, but Harry had to admit that he was one of his top Aurors. Briggs wasn't afraid to do or say what was necessary in a situation, and Harry knew he was perhaps a little biased in this particular situation since his son was the main focus of the case, but he couldn't help but give a cool grin as he watched Briggs straighten out Pansy's attitude.
Seeing the three of them approach, Harry straightened from leaning against the wall. He turned to Pansy, giving her a knowing look.
Pansy immediately sighed under her breath, clearly disregarding Briggs' previous advice. "Of course. It's you."
"I'm Head Auror. Who else were you expecting?" asked Harry cooly.
Pansy only rolled her eyes. At that, Harry jerked his head towards interrogation cell #4. "Take her in. Make sure she's locked in good."
"Yes, sir," both his Aurors answered obediently.
Harry watched them haul the woman he had gone to Hogwarts with into the cell. He gladly watched them drop her into the chair behind a table, and they waved their wands. More gold bands shot out of their wands and wrapped themselves around her arms and legs, locking her tightly into the chair. Pansy gave out a loud and frustrated groan, banging her head against the back of the chair intentionally.
Harry stepped in, and Thomas exited the room, shutting the door and leaving Harry and Briggs in interrogation cell #4 with Pansy.
Harry folded his arms across his chest as he looked to Pansy. He had a history with this woman; Pansy had hated him at Hogwarts for no apparent reason other than he was a Gryffindor and stood for everything she didn't. Harry had never understood her hatred for him, but now - after knowing who her son was and what he and her deceased husband had done to his family - he found that the hatred was mutual.
He normally liked to play nice with the containees, but unfortunately for Pansy, now was not one of those times.
He said sternly to her, "It's in your best interest that you answer me honestly and tell me what you know."
"I'll do no such thing," she said sourly.
Harry was aware of Briggs shifting in an aggravated fashion due to Pansy's response at the side of the room. Harry sighed and rubbed his forehead. He needed a coffee. A nice, hot, strictly black coffee.
"You will," said Harry again quite seriously, "and you'll start with stating the fact that your son, Parker Namken, is alive."
Harry was once again aware of Briggs' response to his words. Everyone was, so far, unaware of why Pansy Namken's warrant had been issued. So this was news to the other four authors in the area who could overhear the conversation within the interrogation cell. Briggs' eyes went wide, but he quickly diverted his attention back to the containee, prepared to do whatever was necessary at a moment's notice.
The corners of Pansy's lips tugged up into a knowing smile, but she said nothing.
Harry felt his patience grow short. "Speak now before I fetch Veritaserum."
"You won't give me Veritaserum," answered Pansy knowingly, shaking her head. "I know what you did for your department. You banned the forced use of it, and I'm not consenting to it. So you won't."
Harry was reminded of his similar conversation with Walden Macnair not long ago on Veritaserum. Everyone seemed to know the measures he had taken to ban the use of forced Veritaserum, but he found that he was throwing all his morals out the window for this. The safety of his son and the rest of his family was in jeopardy; therefore, his job meant little to him. He didn't care if he was fired for what he did, as long as he ended up saving Albus in the end.
He voiced these very thoughts to Pansy. "I'll do anything when it comes to the safety of my children."
"As would I," replied Pansy with a snicker. "You see, you and I are not all that different these days. It seems you've lost your self-righteous touch."
Harry couldn't help but smile. He picked up the underlying meaning in Pansy's words. She was telling him what he wanted to know in a roundabout way.
"So Parker is alive," suggested Harry as he analyzed the meaning of her words.
Pansy smiled again, and Harry didn't need any more confirmation than that. He already knew Parker was truly alive; he was learning to trust his gut more as the day went by, and he trusted Scorpius Malfoy's word whole-heartedly, but he needed proof of it and now Pansy had given it to him.
"So where is he?" asked Harry, leaning against the back wall of the interrogation cell and facing Pansy. "It's been three years and either he, you, or the both of you together have managed to hide him from society. So how'd you do it for so long?"
Pansy only laughed at him once more. "I'm really not telling you, Potter."
Harry bit his lip, feeling anger begin to push its way through him. He approached the table that separated him from Pansy, and he let his palms play out against its cool metal surface. He leaned down and breathed to her. "You are. Your son has stabbed mine, and he's dying in St. Mungo's. I'm getting a little desperate here, Pansy, and believe me. I have no rules when I'm desperate and my son has maybe four days to live."
"You'll never find him," grinned Pansy.
"I have faith that I will," he answered cooly. "He's only made one move against my family, and I think it's safe to say that he's already fucked up once. He gave us an advantage when he went to Scorpius Malfoy's flat last night and exposed himself."
"He hasn't fucked up," argued Pansy, her tone acidic and her brow pulled together in hatred. "How do you think he managed to get away with it for so long? For three years? It's because he's smart! He's a clever young man. Far more clever than any of you! He took three years to strategize his revenge. He exposed himself because it's all part of the plan, and you have no idea what's up his sleeve next."
"But you do," suggested Harry, once again stringing ideas together as the words fell out of Pansy's mouth.
Pansy said nothing. Her brow pulled even tighter together as she glared at Harry.
"You see," said Harry, thinking aloud, "Parker may think he has a leg up on us, but I don't think he does. I think I've leveled out the playing field just by getting you here within twenty-four hours of his first attack. I would imagine you'd be his first priority. After all, his whole reasoning behind his attacks must be revenge, wouldn't you think? He was working with his father to take us down three years ago, and Elias failed. Now he wants revenge. The loss of his father is what fuels him. If the loss of a parent is what keeps him going, then wouldn't you imagine he would take extra care to keep you safe? I'd think he would. That is if you truly meant something to him. Or maybe he just cared about dead Daddy and not his mummy."
"You shut your fucking mouth," Pansy snarled.
"Mmmhmm," chuckled Harry. He was good at this; he knew he was. "That's what I thought. So that can mean two things, either one: indeed, he's already fucked up in getting you somewhere safe before we got to you. Or two: he really doesn't give a fuck."
Pansy said nothing. Harry could tell he had infuriated her, but that's what he wanted. They were right on course. Harry could see the doubt in her eyes. It was there in Pansy's face; she knew Harry had proved his point. Parker had already messed up. Parker hadn't gotten to her in time to move her to safety since acting.
Pansy couldn't help but begin to think on what that reasoning might be. Clancy O'Dell's name immediately burst into her mind. That bloody woman was replacing her in her son's life, and she hated that.
"Great," smiled Harry. "So now that we're on the same page, why don't you answer a few things for me? Let's start with the Death Eaters. Walden Macnair was helpful enough to give away a few vital bits of information before he was imprisoned last week. Information such as you and Parker were helping them. Tell me. Where are the other Death Eaters?"
"Nope," said Pansy, shaking her head. "Not answering."
"Come on, Pansy," Harry egged her on. "Just talk. You've been stupid enough to give away some things already. All I need you to do is talk, and I can figure things out for myself. Clearly, if Parker is such a clever boy, he didn't get his smarts from you."
"Yeah, well, your son clearly didn't get his smarts from you either because it seems to me that your eldest is a particularly epic dumb ass," snarled Pansy.
Such a comment truly surprised Harry. This had been about Albus so far. What had happened that made this at all about James? What had Harry missed? His brow pulled together in confusion. "How so?" he questioned.
"That Seer of yours has personally been in front of my son. Recently too. They've even held a conversation, and he was too stupid to realize who he was speaking to," said Pansy.
This was news to Harry, but it was also news he knew he could use in narrowing down his steps to finding Parker. He would have to speak to James about this soon.
"Why would he speak to James? If he was 'too stupid to realize who he was speaking to,' then you're obviously hinting to the fact that Parker doesn't even use a disguise. If he isn't using a disguise, then why was Parker the one foolish enough to even risk speaking to James with the possibility of James recognizing him?"
Pansy grinned, feeling as if the ball were back in her court with the way the conversation was headed. "Beats me. Parker's the one with the plan."
"Where is he, Pansy?" questioned Harry.
"Like hell I'm telling you!"
"Come now, Parkinson. At least a hint."
"It's Namken now!" she hissed, and she glowered. "I will tell you one thing, Potter. I'd like to see how desperate you get because you'll only get more and more desperate as time goes on. The phoenixes are gone. You won't save your son."
"Don't doubt me," threatened Harry. "I will always do whatever it takes to save my children."
"Oh, I'm not doubting you," suggested Pansy with a roll of the shoulders. "I thought I had lost my only son three years ago; I know what that grief feels like. I would never doubt what the power of a parent's love for their child can do. I just know that you won't save him. He will die. Just wait."
Harry leaned forward, reaching eye level with Pansy. He met her cool, grey eyes, and he felt his hatred for the woman only grow. He wasn't one for threats, but he remembered the promise he had made three years ago. He remembered when he swore to protect his children at all costs; he remembered swearing that he would take down anyone who got in his way. He didn't regret that promise either. He meant it. Every word. He would do anything to save his son and keep his family from harm, so he felt no regret in saying the next threat that rolled off his tongue. Even if the Aurors listening in turned him into the Minister of Magic for breaking his rules and regulations in his contract for threatening a containee. He didnít care. He would do anything.
"If my son dies at the hand of yours, then I will personally kill Parker myself."
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