Chapter 25 : 24- The House of Brooks
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Harry stood staring in the direction of a large grey house looking for signs of its inhabitants from the entrance of an alleyway, hidden in its shadows. His concentration was broken by the sound of footsteps rushing towards his direction.
“Phillipa,” Harry called quietly and Phillipa turned towards him. She was breathing heavily as though she had just run a marathon.
“I got your message.” She panted. “And have you gone mad!”
“I know it sounds crazy and I don’t believe it myself, I don’t want to. But he was the only one with Williamson at the appropriate time, and you think he couldn’t mess around with a Potion Dispenser if he wanted to.” Phillipa stared desperately at Harry, still taking in deep breaths.
“Harry, Gawain Brooks is no murderer.” She said in-between gulps of air but Harry remained silent and returned her look.
“This is insane.” She said eventually, advancing on him. “First the Quidditch attack, then Natasha and now we’re apparently taking each other out?” Harry still did not reply, though she too was now looking at Gawain’s house.
“So, who else is coming?” She asked after a few seconds more of silence.
“It’s just you and me this time.” Harry said.
“Right” Phillipa said simply, a hint of uncertainty in her voice. “And I’m here because-”
“Because this assignment is off the record and you’re one of the few people I’d actually trust to keep it like that who can help me with Gawain.”
“But what about-?” Phillipa started, but again Harry cut her off. “Ron would tell Hermione, as he should, and given the position Hermione is in now, she would have this place surrounded by Aurors and have Gawain sent straight to Azkaban. Would you want that?” Phillipa looked for a moment as though she was going to retort but seemed to fail for words. “I want to hear what he has to say for myself without the threat of the entire Ministry at the doorstep. After everything he’s done, I think he at least deserves that.”
Phillipa nodded and said, very quietly “Okay.”
“Okay then.” Harry said joining Phillipa in taking a deep breath. “Shall we?” Again, Phillipa nodded and slowly drew her wand. “I checked the surrounding enchantments while he was out so he shouldn’t know we’re here but I’ve place an Anti-Disapparition jinx around the place just in case.” Harry explained as they approached the door.
“Do you have an idea of where he might have been?” Phillipa asked, her professionalism returning to her.
“No, but that is one of the things I’ll be asking.” He replied quietly and he placed his hand on the door and opened it with ease. The two looked at each other in surprise.
“Unlocked?” Phillipa whispered.
“I think we’re expected.” Harry said calmly and they carried on through the front door.
A single beam of light from the crack of a door illuminated the long, heavily decorated hallway and the two quietly walked towards the only sign of the house’s inhabitant, their wands at the ready. Harry wasted no time in opening the next door and they entered a large, dark-red coloured living room. A combination of non-moving pictures, ancient pottery, small ornamental statues and models of different shapes, sizes and colours decorated the wall shelves and cabinets. Gawain was sitting on the end of a long plump coach, a drink in his hand, acting as though Harry and Phillipa weren’t even there. Harry didn’t know what to say. He had been burning with questions no more than a minute ago, as though Gawain’s reaction to his and Phillipa’s appearance had answered them all.
“Thank you.” Gawain said after downing the rest of his drink, still not looking at them.
“For what?” Phillipa asked quietly.
“For not calling the rest of the Auror Office and blasting your way through my house. It’s been in the family for a number of generations so it’s quite old and I don’t think it would withstand a full Ministry breach.”
“And what reason would we have for performing a breach?” Phillipa asked harshly, though her wand hand was shaking slightly.
Gawain did not answer but instead simply said “Please take a seat.”
“I’d rather stand thanks.” Harry said quickly, his voice surprisingly calm.
Gawain nodded, still not looking at them. He leaned over and from behind the side of the coach he pulled a dusty, golden bottle and refilled his glass.
“You know, Muggles also have strict guidelines for euthanasia.” Harry heard Phillipa’s breath quiver as he said this and the silence that followed seemed to freeze all three of them.
“What would you have done?” Gawain said after what felt like hours. “What if Ron or Neville were in that situation? Burning in their own body, unable to breathe without help and being revived every time they nearly escaped.” Harry stared at Gawain as he took another swig of his drink, unable to believe what he was hearing and anger began to rise up inside of him.
“So you thought you’d take it upon yourself did you?” Harry snapped and Gawain became motionless as if Harry had put a Body-Bind Curse on him.
“We all know Saint Mungo’s would never agree to leave him alone until they’d pumped him full of every single potion there is and we also know that could take months and no concoction would help him.” Despite the calmness he spoke with, Harry could see Gawain’s eyes were beginning to water.
“Where were you before you came home tonight?” Harry asked trying to keep control of the situation.
Gawain gave a small laugh and said “Unfortunately, I don’t think you should know that just yet, Harry.” Harry felt his anger rise, still unable to believe that Gawain, one of the most skilled Aurors that Harry had ever met, was sitting in front of him after admitting to killing a fellow Auror refusing to answer any other questions.
“No.” Harry replied, his voice beginning to shake. “No! You don’t get to do this! Not after everything that’s been happening! Not after everything you know we’re going through!”
The Chief Auror didn’t respond immediately but instead mulled over his drink for a few silent seconds before simply saying “I am sorry, Harry. Truly, I am.”
“Gawain, please don’t do this.” Phillipa said with a pleading tone Harry had never heard her use before. Gawain turned his head and for the first time that night met Harry’s eyes.
Both Harry and Gawain reacted at the exact same time and the spells they had cast at each other collided in the centre of them with a loud crack.
“No!” Phillipa cried as she sent a stunner at Gawain which he deflected with a flick of his wand towards Harry. He dodged, pushing Phillipa out of the way of a second spell sent by Gawain and the two slammed to the floor. Harry tried to re-aim his wand just in time to see Gawain casting a spell of his own, swishing his wand over his head like a lasso.
Harry quickly got back to his feet and turned as the miniature sculptures soared towards Harry, knocking him across the room.
Though his vision was blocked by the multiple number of figures trying to hold him down, Harry just saw Gawain quickly moving towards Phillipa. The statues were heavier then they looked and their texture was rough against Harry’s skin as they continued to try and hold him down, some of them even making it their job to obscure his vision and deafen him. He was sure Gawain was talking though was unable to take notice of what he was saying over his struggle to release his wand arm from a particularly large purple gargoyle figure. Seconds later, he fought it off and he got aim.
“Reducto!” Harry cried and with a flash of white light, the sculptures were blasted into pieces that hit the crimson wall.
He saw Gawain crouching by a wandless Phillipa and Harry aimed his wand but Gawain turned just in time to block Harry’s spell. Both wizards stood up and Gawain started for the front door. Harry gave chase, sending a volley of spells at Gawain who was forced to block Harry’s attacks. Just as Gawain was mere feet from the exit, Harry pointed his wand at the door. He saw the lock on the door melt and begin filling the thin gap between the door and the doorway, sealing it.
“No! Defodio!” Harry heard Gawain cry as a large hole was blasted into the door, just big enough for Gawain to slip through. Harry followed suit and sent another Stunning Spell at Gawain who dived to get out of range of the Anti-Disapparition enchantment. Just before Harry’s spell could hit its target, Gawain vanished and the stunner soared straight through the air only to collide with a nearby tree.
Harry swore loudly into the night and was sure that he had attracted the attention of some of the surrounding neighbours, but he didn’t care. He looked back at the destroyed entrance to the house and, as he started moving towards it, he realised he was covered in sweat and was panting heavily.
Phillipa appeared through the hole in the door slightly shaken though uninjured. She looked around for signs of Gawain and upon seeing him, ran towards Harry. “Harry, what-”
“He’s gone, Phillipa.” Harry interrupted still breathing heavily. “You okay?” He asked looking at her. She appeared to be distracted and she took some time to reply.
“Uh, yeah, I'm fine.” She withdrew her wand back to the inside of her robes, though kept her hand in her pocket, evidently lost in thought.
“I’ll send word to the Ministry, I’ve got no choice now. Damn it, Gawain!” Harry said, more to convince himself then Phillipa. He raised his shaking wand hand and his silver stag, less solid than usual, erupted from the tip and soared into the distance.
“Do you still need me here?” Phillipa asked quietly, still not looking at Harry.
“No,” Harry replied, his voice just as quiet. “No, I’ll deal with all of this, this whole thing was my idea. You sure you’re okay?”
Phillipa nodded and after saying, “I’ll see you tomorrow” she Disapparated with a pop.
The next morning, Harry felt as though someone had been beating on his brain all night. What little sleep he did get had been interrupted by nightmares of the Death Eaters, Ginny and his children. Even in the hours where he was awake his mind had been racing with thoughts and ideas on Gawain, the Death Eaters and all the other Dark Wizards that might be in on Selwyn’s plan. Along with the conversation he had had with an infuriated Kingsley, who it took some time to explain why Harry had not contacted the Ministry earlier, about what had happened with Gawain and sending the message out to the rest of the Aurors that one of their seniors was on the run after being found responsible for the death of another Auror, Harry was surprised he had any energy left at all.
“Harry dear, I know it’s hard but do try and take it easy on yourself. You’ve been through a lot in the past day alone.” Molly said after forcing a second helping of breakfast down Harry.
“Mum, he’s trying to stop a war.” Ginny said, kissing Harry on the cheek as she ran her fingers through his hair. “Good luck.” She whispered and before Molly could retort, Harry had stood up and had walked over to the fireplace.
“I’ll try not to be back too late.” Harry said, taking a handful of Floo Powder.
“Make sure he doesn’t.” Ginny said to the portrait of Sirius, which was now hanging over the Weasley’s fireplace.
“I’ll be sure to remind him of his curfew while he tries to stop the Death Eaters taking over.” Sirius grinned. Harry forced a smile and after dropping the powder, he vanished in a flash of green.
Harry entered his office and was shocked to see someone already there. Naomi was sat in the chair opposite his own, obviously waiting for him.
“You’re in early.” Harry said waving his wand at his desk, stacking the papers he was planning on taking to the meeting with him.
“I heard what happened with Gawain.” Naomi said. Harry didn’t say anything. “What’s going to happen now?” She pressed.
“We convince the other Ministries to give us some information and support to fight against Selwyn’s plan.” Harry said flatly. “And I need you to take Gawain’s place in the meeting room as security.” Naomi’s next question seemed to have left her as Harry said this.
“What?” She said after a moment’s silence.
“I need you to take Gawain’s place as security in the meeting room. There’s no one else available and I think you can manage it. You’ll be in there with Phillipa, me, the Ministers and their security.” Naomi continued to stare at Harry.
“Oh, okay.” She said simply and, after receiving a file of parchments on the meeting security and a weak smile from Harry, she left the room, instantly opened the file and began scanning through the details leaving Harry to sit at his desk, his head in his hands, knowing full well that Sirius was eyeing him.
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