Chapter 19 : Second Chances
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Hermione poked Ron in his shoulder. “Ron, it’s time to get up. Now! We’ve got to go look at Way’s End today.”
She had already been up for what seemed like hours as she thought about their plan. She worried if they needed to make any changes to their story. It was risky telling people who they were looking for, especially with the jinx on his name. Neither of them knew if the jinx covered only the name he created or if it also covered his given name.
“What are you doing?” Ron’s sleepy voice cut through her thoughts.
“Going over our plan again,” Hermione replied with only a small amount of irritation. Why would she be thinking about anything else right now?
Ron made a strangled noise when he remembered their plan – or the plan that she had devised for them to follow. Her eyes narrowed. He hadn’t been acting like this before.
“Get up, Ron. Now,” Hermione repeated herself, now becoming genuinely irritated with him. “We’ve got a lot to do today.” She watched as he grumpily got out of bed and headed to the water closet to get ready for the day. She pulled a roll of parchment from her small bag and began to read through it, marking it here and there as she waited with only the most veiled patience. She wondered if Nitwit was watching his Horcruxes even though Harry didn’t believe he would be. He had been pretty sharp where Nitwit was concerned.
Ron sat across from her waiting for her to put the parchment down. She continued to look at it just to spite him for taking so long getting up. “Hermione?”
“What?” She put the parchment back in her bag.
“When do we eat?” he grumbled.
She rolled her eyes. Nitwit and his Death Eaters as well as the Ministry were looking for them and all he could think about was food. Which reminded her – how did Harry know Draco was a Death Eater? And how they not have believed him? Why did they spend all that time ignoring him or telling him flat out he was wrong? He had even tried telling Professor Dumbledore to no avail.
“Hermione?” Ron sounded concerned. “What’re you thinking?”
She shook herself free of the memories. “Draco being a Death Eater.”
“I remember.” Ron’s shoulders sagged. “I remember Harry telling us how Professor Dumbledore already knew that Draco was a Death Eater.”
“Do you think that Draco would have accepted Professor Dumbledore’s help in hiding him and his parents?” Hermione asked. She wasn’t too sure if Draco would have or if he was trying to catch Professor Dumbledore off-guard.
Ron was silent for a very long moment. “I don’t know. Harry was the one who saw it. And I want to say he wouldn’t, but then I don’t like the creep.”
Hermione shook her head. There was too much they should have asked Harry more about. “Another good question is why Nitwit would make Draco a Death Eater?”
This time Ron shook his head. “That one’s simple. Draco’s dad messed up big time during that battle. He messed up Nitwit’s plans horribly. He didn’t get the Prophecy for Nitwit. He got a dozen Death Eaters captured by Ministry officials. And the biggest mistake of all? The Ministry saw Nitwit and began to take measures against him. A little too late, but they tried.”
Hermione nodded slowly. “Are you ready?”
“Ready for what?” Ron frowned in confusion.
“To eat!” Hermione rolled her eyes.
Ron’s eyes widened in surprise. “Where are we going this time?”
“I heard about a small breakfast place just down the road.” Hermione made sure they had everything they might need. She passed him a few Muggle bills. “Those will pay for breakfast. Let’s go ahead and change how we look.”
After a leisurely breakfast, they walked to Way’s End Orphanage. The outside looked as if he had been recently painted white. The shutters were a dark green. The lawn was evenly clipped and not one weed was seen. Again, there was no actual evidence of children. No toys were left here or there, forgotten in the rush to hurry inside when called.
“You remember our story, Mr. MacArthur?” Hermione muttered under her breath as she linked her arm in Ron’s.
He nodded, looking slightly ill. “Yeah, I remember, Miss Thomas.” She smiled at him, earning a small smile from him.
At the door she nudged him to knock. It turned out to be more of pounding the door instead of knocking, but it worked. A young lady who looked the part of a harried secretary opened the door with a scowl. “What?”
They took a step back in surprise. “We were looking for my grandfather’s brother. He told us he had been placed in an orphanage but couldn’t remember which one.” Miss Thomas said slowly, looking around as if unsure if she was in the right spot.
The lady’s scowl didn’t change. “And your names?” She demanded rudely.
“This is Miss Thomas and I am Mr. MacArthur.” Mr. MacArthur snapped back at the lady. His frown began to change to mirror her scowl.
This time the lady stepped back. “I’m terribly sorry.” She looked around. “But Mr. Connors has been in a right foul mood this morning.”
Miss Thomas looked sternly at the lady before enunciating slowly. “My grandfather doesn’t have much longer to live and wants to see his brother. I understand this is an orphanage?”
The lady nodded, wondering if these were Important People or ones who could have the door shut in their faces.
“Then I must insist on speaking with Mr. Connors.” Miss Thomas spoke regally, adding to the lady’s confusion. “Today at this moment.”
The lady glanced at Mr. MacArthur who looked very put out with being kept on the doorstep. It was starting to take everything she had just to look them in the eyes. Finally she looked down. “On your heads be it. Follow me.” She took them to Mr. Connors’ office. She pointed to a pair of plush chairs for them to sit and found two mugs she filled with a weak tea before handing them to the unwanted visitors.
They accepted the mugs of tea. Miss Thomas took one polite sip and put it on the table in front of them, content to wait. Mr. MacArthur drank a large swallow, nearly gagging on the odious taste. Miss Thomas took his mug, placing it on the table next to hers. She had to wait while his face changed several different shades of red and purple. Finally it turned pale and he sank in his chair a little. “Blimey, that was foul.”
His face had turned its normal color by the time Mr. Connors finally opened his door, permitting them to enter his office. “Miss Thomas? Mr. MacArthur?”
They stood and followed him into his office. Mr. MacArthur looked around the office in amazement while Miss Thomas contemplated exactly how a state-run orphanage would be able to support Mr. Connors’ extravagant tastes.
“Please, sit,” Mr. Connors gestured towards another set of plush green chairs. “What may I help you with today?”
Miss Thomas explained once more, trying to keep her annoyance from her voice. “My grandfather is terribly ill and he just mentioned a few days past that his brother had been placed in an orphanage. The only problem was, he couldn’t remember which orphanage it was.”
Mr. Connors leaned back, interlacing his fingers. “I take it you are checking all the orphanages in the area?” Miss Thomas nodded once. He remained silent as he considered the two young people in front of him. Neither fit a particular type which made them dangerous. He hadn’t missed the young lady’s appraising his office. Nor had he missed the young man’s amazed look at how well he had done for himself. He suspected the young man at least had grown up in circumstances very similar to his orphans. Until he knew better, it might be better to play along with these two young people. “Exactly who are you looking for?”
“I believe his name was Thomas.” Miss Thomas answered after pulling a small book from her bag and pretending to look up the name. She wasn’t worried that Mr. Connors would see it was blank. It held a small charm to make it appear written in.
Mr. Connors frowned. “Thomas Thomas?” He asked, starting to think he was having a rather bad joke played on him.
Miss Thomas shook her head. “Did I say it was my father’s father?” She looked at the young man who shook his head. She turned a baleful look on him. “No indeed I did not. I merely stipulated that it was my grandfather’s brother.”
Mr. Connors held up his hands. “I beg your pardon, Miss Thomas. It was an honest mistake.” He turned to his computer sitting on his desk. “No doubt you’re wondering about why we don’t have paper files here.” He waited for a nod before continuing. “We do, but they’re kept at a different location. I decided we should upgrade to a better way of storing files.” His fingers typed across the keyboard quickly. “I’m sorry, there are many with the name Thomas. Perhaps another name?”
Miss Thomas looked at Mr. MacArthur with a questioning look. Mr. Connors suspected that something was definitely not as it seemed. Mr. MacArthur nodded at her unspoken question. She turned back to him. “Would any of them have been born about sixty years ago?”
Mr. Connors raised an eyebrow as she deftly dodged his question. He turned back to his screen and typed in another query. “I’m sorry. No one named Thomas was born between fifty-five and sixty-five years ago.” He gave them a long look. He didn’t dare call them on their tom-foolery quite yet. There was still the outside chance they were telling him the truth and didn’t have the last name. Many children didn’t have last names at the orphanage. There were several here that had no last name. “If you find out more information, don’t hesitate to call. Here’s my card.” He pushed a small cream card towards them. He pushed a button on his desk. “If that is all? My secretary will see you out.”
Miss Thomas took the card without looking at it before sticking it in her bag. The two stood as the young lady entered the room. “Thank you for your time, sir.” Miss Thomas said distastefully.
“Miss Haldings will take you back to the foyer.” He waved to the lady waiting at the doorway as if she had been forbidden to step further into the room. He turned his attention back to his computer while they followed her out of the room. After the door closed with a snick, he looked around his office, wondering if they had been checking on his handling of finances instead of looking for a relative. There were many odd things about them, least of which was how the young lady did not even look at his card before taking it. Finally he decided it really didn’t matter if the county started asking questions. He was more than ready to disappear. He even had piles of ready cash.
Ron and Hermione sat in a nearby park near a small pond. They watched the ducks swimming about aimlessly.
“Should we go to another orphanage today?” Ron asked.
Hermione shook her head. “I don’t think so. It’s past noon right now. And if we want to search the place, we’ll need more time.”
“Where do you think he’s hidden it?” Ron didn’t look at Hermione, he stared at the ducks.
Hermione remained silent for a long moment. “I doubt it would have been inside the orphanage. Didn’t Harry say something about him having done something in a barn?”
Ron frowned, thinking back to the night when Harry had told them everything. “I think so, something about some orphan’s pet?”
“And the locket was in the cave where he scared those other two orphans.” Hermione added.
“So we’re going to look in a barn at an orphanage?” Ron asked, glancing at Hermione.
A/N: As always, I hope you have enjoyed this next chapter. Please let me know what you thought about this chapter, especially if you have constructive criticism! I am always looking for ways to improve my writing! Thank you very much!
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