Chapter 22 : 21- The Lost Chief
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Harry sat at his desk, head in his hands, exhausted from the past day’s work. His elbows were resting on two pieces of parchment. The larger of the two was scribbled with a mixture of arrows, circles and the names of Aurors that Harry had added to help him plan out the defences for the International Confederation meeting the next day. The smaller piece merely had a short list of names. Augustus Rookwood, Alecto Carrow, Amycus Carrow and, Harry always felt sick at this particular name, Dolores Umbridge. Gawain had given this one to him from Marietta. The price for the Malfoy family.
The combination of assisting in placing the new anti-Amethyst Orb charm around Hogwarts, Azkaban, Gringotts and other areas that they thought would be a target for the Death Eaters; assigning Aurors to the next phase of trying to hunt down Preston Crabbe; a mountain of paperwork that included a report on what had happened at Grimmuald Place, the deaths of Natasha and Cole and the fact that he hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep in days were all bringing out a fatigue in Harry.
He now had his eyes closed and his thoughts focused on Albert Kaman, all on Kingsley’s orders. The Minister had announced that there’d be a moments silence in remembrance to those who had died in the Quidditch attack.
Harry had been mentored by Albert Kaman ever since he had first joined the Aurors. Harry, Ron and Neville had been offered the job by Kingsley shortly after Voldemort’s death instead of returning to Hogwarts for their seventh year.
Because the number of Aurors had been halved during Voldemort’s reign, the three of them had skipped the three years training that most Aurors received and were, instead, offered to learn on the job. Gawain had mentored Neville, Phillipa Ron and Kaman Harry. It was only shortly after Kaman had approached Harry that the Wizangamot had elected him Head of the Department, the same way they had done with Harry. Though despite this, he still found time for Harry.
As well as advanced magic, including Legilimency and innovative duelling spells, Albert had also taught Harry the skills Albert knew he would need in hunting Dark Wizards as well as working within the Magical government. He had even allowed him to lead Neville and Ron on minor missions. It was Albert who had assigned the three of them the task of arresting Umbridge, understanding the fact that they had ‘unfinished business’ with her.
The more Harry thought, the more he remembered and the heavier his head seemed to get.
“Harry,” He heard a rough voice say and Harry’s eyes snapped open to Sirius’ voice. “Ginny wanted me to tell you that they’re now settled at the Burrow. Twelve Grimmauld Place is now completely abandoned again.”
“Thanks Sirius.” Harry said, rubbing his eyes. He would’ve liked nothing better than to go to the Burrow and sleep, though he still had to bring the Aurors he had selected for the guard tomorrow up to date with the new plans. As he rolled up the large parchment roll and stood up, Hermione burst through the door, breathing heavily. “Hermione, what’s wrong?” Harry said, thinking of another break-in and kill-ready Death Eaters, but Hermione simply stared at Harry.
“I just had a meeting with Kory. He’s asked me to be his Deputy Head.” The two stared at each other and a smile slowly crept up on Harry’s face. “I’m now the Deputy Head of the entire Department of Magical Law Enforcement.” And after a few more seconds silence, Hermione let out a scream and jumped to hug Harry. “I can’t believe it, I mean of course I’ll miss the Department for the Control of Magical Creatures and I’ll need to rethink my writing schedule for The Tales of Beedle the Bard but just imagine what I could do for Magical Law.” She said in a rushed high pitched voice and Terry ran in through the door.
“Blimey, I thought someone was being attacked in here.” He said as he saw Hermione beaming at him. “I’m the new Deputy Head of the Magical Law Enforcement Department!” She shrieked again in an even higher tone and she ran at Terry and threw her arms round his neck. “Where’s Ron? I need to tell him.”
“He’s just got back from placing the new charm on Kingsley’s place.” At once Hermione released the Auror and ran off in search of Ron. “By the way Harry,” Terry said, recovering from Hermione’s assault. “A few of us are going down to Saint Mungo’s later, check up on Ernie and James. You coming down with us?”
“Yeah, of course.” Harry said catching Sirius’ eye and seeing him go to inform Ginny he’d be later than expected and he followed Terry outside the office to bring his Aurors up to date with tomorrow’s plans.
The trip down to Saint Mungo’s was quick, despite the small group deciding to walk the journey. Harry, Terry, Neville and Gawain all approached the abandoned Muggle shop and Harry spoke to the display doll in the window. “We’re here to see Aurors Ernie Mcmillan and James Williamson.” And, after the badly dressed doll gave a small nod, they walked through the window and into the wizarding hospital’s reception. Susan, Naomi and Anthony were at the reception desk talking to the Welcome Witch, all completely cured of their ailments, though Naomi now had a fresh head bandage.
“They’re on the first floor, in the Drake Garthon ward.” Susan said when she saw them and the seven of them walked up the stairs and through the first floor corridor noticing, as they reached the burns unit, the large number of people from the Quidditch match occupying the wards. When they reached the correct ward, it was opened for them by a short blond man wearing lime green robes with the Saint Mungo’s sign of a bone crossed with a wand threaded on to it.
The large white walled room had six occupants, one of whom had their curtains drawn around them. Although at first Harry didn’t recognise him given the majority of his darkly blond hair had been shaved off, Ernie was lying in the closest bed to them and for a moment Harry thought Ernie had lucked out with his lack of injuries, until he saw Ernie’s full face. The entire right side of Ernie’s head had been brutally burned and, even though the whole side of his pointed face was covered in a thick green paste, Harry could still see red and black splotches of skin peeking through the ointment.
“About time.” Ernie murmured through half of his mouth with a slight grin. The other half, like the rest of his right side, was covered in the green paste. As Susan, Naomi, Anthony, Neville and Terry all stood and sat round Ernie, Gawain’s attention seemed to be focused on the curtains closed around another occupant and Harry guessed that was where James was.
“Well, I guess I should take compliment in the fact that the Head of the Auror Office has personally visited me.” Ernie said with half a grin and Harry felt relieved to hear the air of the old pompous tone in his speech and gave him a weak smile. “And where’s the new Deputy?”
“He and Phillipa are taking care of a possible lead on Crabbe. How’re you holding up?” Harry said.
“Better then some.” Ernie replied nodding his head in direction of the curtained up bed. “I’m not in as much pain as I was when I arrived and the Healers say they can save my hand and leg by re-growing the nerve endings but they also said that there’s going to be some permanent scarring.” Some permanent scarring was a severe understatement if Ernie’s current condition was anything to go by, in Harry’s opinion, to the point where Harry doubted his old school friend would ever resemble his old haughty self again.
“Williamson on the other hand is in a much worse condition. He got splashed by the Erumpent Horn fluid in the explosion and it’s all they can do to keep him breathing.” While Ernie continued his conversation with the others, Harry saw Gawain walking towards the curtained off bed and followed him. They pulled back the curtain and Harry felt Gawain gasp silently beside him. Ernie had seriously understated Williamson’s condition.
Several luminous green wires linked Williamson to a small grey contraption that had vials of multi-coloured potions sticking out of it that resided on his bed side table, each wire sticking into the different black and red patches that dominated his body. Very little of his face, chest and stomach were bare to them due to the bandages that were wrapped around him and although Harry was sure they were fresh, sticky, bloody stains were still being made on the white sheets. His neck however, was tightly wrapped in a blue cloth and his once long, pony-tailed brown hair had now been cut short. Though nothing made the hairs on Harry’s neck stand up on end more than the rasped struggling sound of Williamson’s breathing, as though he was fighting for every breath.
Gawain took a nearby chair and sat in it next to his fellow Chief Auror and friend, a pained look on his face. “So, Harry,” Harry heard Ernie call from the other side of the curtain. “Maybe you lot could bring me up to date with what’s going on in France and Scandinavia?”
The sound of Williamson’s breathing still in his ears, Harry and the others spent the next half hour bringing Ernie up to date with the goings on with the Death Eaters plans, including Marietta’s treachery. “Please tell me she is currently rotting in a cell in Azkaban.” Ernie said and Harry slowly explained the deal that Selwyn had set up for the Malfoys.
“You can’t be serious.” Ernie replied and he recoiled in pain as he made to move. “Am I really the only one who sees flaws in that plan?”
Harry was sure he was about to go through the same argument he had had with Kory mere hours ago, but before he could say a word, Susan fought the argument for him.
“If the Malfoy’s have any information on the Death Eater’s plan, then we need to know, not to mention the fact there’s a one-year old amongst them.” At this, Ernie seemed to be looking for some kind of retort but when he saw Anthony, Terry, Naomi and Neville all agreeing with Susan, he seemed to falter.
“Come on mate, when have you known Harry’s judgement in these things to be wrong?” Terry remarked patting Harry on the shoulder as he did so.
Ernie looked back and surveyed Harry for a moment, as though he were a part of a particularly difficult puzzle, before saying “Do you honestly believe this is the right thing to do?”
Harry stared back at him and, this time without feeling the forceful urge of his promise to Narcissa, he nodded “Yes, I do.”
“Well then,” Ernie said trying to straighten himself back to his usual haughty composure. “I suppose… you have my full support.” Harry smiled at Ernie, genuinely appreciating not only Ernie’s support but the support of the others as well. And an idea struck Harry’s mind as he remembered Kinsley’s first piece of advice to him when he became the Head of the Office.
“Visiting hours are almost over.” Said a female Healer at the door and Gawain, who had spent the entire time with Williamson, came from behind the curtain.
“We should be going.” He said sharply, though no one argued with him. They said their goodbyes to Ernie and, after promising to visit again soon, left the dorm.
“Anthony, Susan, Terry.” Harry called. “Can I have a word?” And the three of them held back as Neville and Naomi stayed with Gawain, who carried on towards the exit. “After seeing Williamson in this condition, it’s clear that even if he survives it’s doubtful he’ll be returning to the Office which means right now, we only have two Chief Aurors.” Anthony and Terry stared inquisitively at Harry while Susan seemed to take in one big breath as Harry spoke. “Which is why I want to promote the three of you to Chief Aurors.” Simultaneously, Terry and Anthony’s mouths gapped open as they gawped at Harry while Susan seemed to be letting out all the air she had breathed in in one long quit squeak and she flung her arms round Harry.
“Yes! We accept! We accept! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
The three men laughed at Susan’s response before Terry replied “It is nice to have a say in these sort of matters in your life, isn’t it Ant?” But Anthony appeared too giddy at the combination of the news and his friend’s reactions to reply.
Harry had just let out a burst of laughter at Anthony’s high pitched reply of “I accept” when their celebrations were suddenly cut short.
A high pitched, whistle-like noise erupted from the ward they had just left and they were quickly bustled out of the way by a group of Healers. The Healer that led the group had torn the curtain around Williamson’s bad to one side and started giving orders to the others.
For what felt like an eternity, the four of them watched as the Healers worked to save Williamson’s life, attempting to get him breathing again; the whistling noise continuing to go on in the background, refusing to become white noise.
When the alarm eventually stopped, the Healers abandoned their attempts. The head of the group tapped the machine Williamson was wired up to with his wand and the different potions that were in the vials vanished and the luminous green wires recoiled back into the machine like retreating snakes. He then turned to face the four Aurors that had been watching and shook his head to confirm the worse.
“I’m so sorry.” Harry said for what felt like the hundredth time to Gawain and Phillipa who both sat before him in his office, though it had about as much affect as it had done when he had first said it. Harry had wanted to deal with Gawain and Phillipa personally. Susan, Anthony and Terry had announced Williamson’s death to the rest of the Aurors as their first act as Chiefs and Ron, who had returned after hitting a dead end with the lead on Crabbe, had sent the message out to those who were out on patrols.
“Did they say what killed him?” Phillipa finally asked, her eyes reddened and puffy.
“I would’ve thought the Erumpent fluid finally made its way to a major organ or something.” Gawain said stiffly, staring at the floor. Though Harry was finding it hard to watch two of the strongest people he knew in such a tired and weakened state, he couldn’t help but notice that Gawain seemed both upset and anxious.
“I’ve asked the Healers to send word as soon as they’ve got a cause of death.” Harry said and standing up, he finished “I’ll arrange Portkeys straight from your houses to the meeting tomorrow. I know it’s not ideal and I’d love to give you time off but-”
“No!” Phillipa burst out. “Don’t say that. We’ll be fine.” Gawain nodded in agreement.
“Okay then, go and get some rest.” Harry ordered and, after a hug from Phillipa and a stiff nod from Gawain, the three Aurors departed the office. The fact ringing in Harry’s mind that in that one day, they had lost two Aurors, eleven Enforcers and the Head of their Law Enforcement Department.
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