Chapter 28 : 27- A Choice of War
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Harry’s eyes flickered open. He was lying in the middle of a rather large, comfortable bed. He guessed he was in some sort of sickbay as he could feel that his right arm had been bandaged tightly and his left hand was no longer broken. He turned his head, which also appeared to have been tended to given the lack of wooziness, and groped for his glasses on the bed side table. His wand, the wands of Bailey and Nolan, his cloak, Mokeskin Pouch, and his Two-Way Mirror were all placed neatly on the table too along with a thin crooked wand that Harry eventually recognised as Akrahn’s.
“About time.” The moment he put on his glasses, Harry head snapped in the direction of Dawlish’s voice in the doorway. He was ghostly pale with heavy black bags under his eyes.
“What- How?” Harry spluttered wirily. He didn’t know what to ask first.
“We were able to repair your mirror. You know, once we pulled it out of your arm, of course.” Dawlish said walking up to him. “The other wand’s yours too, according to Dagfinn.” He tried to smile, though Harry knew it was costing him to even fake it he suspected that he and Dawlish were feeling exactly the same way.
Dawlish inspected Harry’s bandaged arm before he began taking off the strappings. “All the Healers in this place are a bit distracted at the moment,” He explained. “Akrahn lost over forty Aurors and even more Enforcers out there and most of those who survived were badly injured and nearly all of the Nurmengard guards were killed.” As Dawlish removed the last of the bandage, Harry saw a faded scar in the place where the mirror shard had pierced his arm. “That should be gone in a few hours.” Dawlish remarked though Harry was staring intently at him.
“Why and how are you here?” Harry asked and Dawlish took a deep breath and pulled a chair up next to Harry’s bed.
“When Gawain euthanized Williamson, he wanted to do more to get even with the Death Eaters, no matter what. So he began to regroup Kaman’s old group. He began to recall the All-Blood Militia.”
Harry stared at Dawlish. So this was where Gawain was before Harry and Phillipa arrived at his home. “He knew that you probably wouldn’t appreciate having a group of vigilantes running around and risking their lives, especially after Natasha’s death.” Dawlish added as though he knew what Harry had been thinking about. “But he was determined. However he soon realised that there wasn’t a lot of the original group left. Especially since a fair number of them still work for the Ministry and he was a wanted felon.” Dawlish continued. “So he began reaching out to Aurors who had resigned from the Department. Mainly from after You-Know-Who fell and resigned as they were used by the Death Eaters and couldn’t bear the thought of working with those they’d unwillingly hunted for so long. So naturally, a fair amount of revenge is desired within this new group of ours. As you know, I would have resigned had Kingsley not been so desperate for Aurors.”
“But how did you know to come to Nurmengard? And how did you get here?” Harry asked.
“Phillipa.” Dawlish replied simply. “Gawain told her Kaman’s Militia were making a comeback, albeit under new management, and when you went running off she contacted us and told the Department of Magical Transportation we’d be taking a Portkey to Norway. She messaged Ron too but she knew you’d need as much help as possible. When we arrived, Gawain found your broken mirror and recognised it. We heard your voice coming from the pieces and when we heard Akrahn foolishly announcing where you were, we came running. It’s just lucky Tyrus had been to Hasvik before.”
“Where is Akrahn now?” Harry asked, remembering that Dawlish had picked him up.
“The Scandinavian Ministry.” He replied. “Nurmengard isn’t exactly the most secure place for a criminal right now. They really did a number on it.”
Harry nodded then eventually said “And Gawain...” Although Harry’s question was answered as Dawlish shook his head.
“I’m sorry. A group of Aurors, both British and Scandinavian, went back about an hour ago. They didn’t find a thing.” Harry noticed the pain in Dawlish’s voice as he said this and Harry knew why. Gawain’s body had been very close to them at the time and Dawlish had made the choice to collect Akrahn instead.
“You made the right call, John.” Harry said sympathetically but Dawlish merely closed his eyes tightly before nodding.
“It killed him to do it, you know.” Dawlish said quietly, his eyes still shut. “To… end James’ pain. Gawain Brooks didn’t die today. No, that happened when he tampered with his best friend’s Potion Dispenser. I tried to talk to him about it but he just...” But Dawlish trailed off his sentence and continued to sit there, hands clutched around the chairs armrests and eyes forcefully shut. Harry was sure the only reason Dawlish’s eyes were shut as tight as they were, was to fight against the tears that would otherwise have trickled through.
“You said there were British Aurors here?” Harry asked after a moment’s silence, hoping to change the subject.
“Well what do you expect? Their Head of Office had been captured by one of the most wanted Dark Wizards out there.” Dawlish replied and for a split second he released a smile before allowing it to be overwhelmed by his grief again.
Harry’s head sank into his pillow. He didn’t feel like much of a Head. In the past two days alone, two people had been killed trying to help Harry. First Natasha and now Gawain. He could not allow other people to die for him anymore, especially now that it was his job to protect them.
“There’s our fallen hero!” Harry turned to see Lance followed shortly by Dagfinn enter the room. Dagfinn looked almost as bad as when he saw him after the Scandinavian’s Ministry break in. He had a gash across his forehead and his dust covered robes were torn and even singed in places. Lance however, though dirtied and tired looking, seemed overall un-harmed though Harry knew he had been subject to the Cruciatus Curse more than once.
“Minister Boyson, Dawlish was just telling me what had happened at Nurmengard. I’m sorry.”
“Sometimes, vith great victory comes great sacrifice and ve have lost a great deal from this.” Dagfinn said, wirily. “I have informed the Confederation about Akrahn’s capture and of the breakout. But our prisoner has asked to speak vith you.” Dawlish stood up and offered the seat to the Minister. “Thank you.” Dagfinn said excepting the seat. “I must say, Auror Potter, your Aurors have been most helpful.”
“Who else is here?” Harry asked Dawlish.
“Bones, Goldstein, Longbottom, Marsh and-” But Dawlish was cut off by a familiar female voice bellowing from the corridor.
“Where is he? I will kill him!”
Dagfinn looked positively alarmed at this threat but seemed to calm down as Naomi burst into the room. “There you are you stupid, stupid man!” She shrieked as she saw Harry, though he knew Naomi well enough to know that her heart wasn’t really in the abuse. “Do you have any idea what you put us all through? If you run off on your own like that again, I swear, I will hex your feet to the ground!” Harry and the others laughed at Naomi’s rant until Harry heard a voice that really did make his spine shiver.
“Where is he?!” He heard his wife call out and when Ginny appeared at the doorway, she had the odd look of both relief and anger.
“Don’t you Ginny me!” She shrieked. “How dare you run off like that! Don’t look at me like that, Potter, Naomi told me what happened!” Harry glanced back at Naomi who gave him a ‘You deserve this’ look before turning back and was alarmed to see Ginny advance on him, hitting and kissing him in between each insult. “You stupid,” A smack to the top of his head. “Idiotic,” A kiss on the cheek. “Senseless,” A blow to his chest “Git!” Her face ended up an inch away from his and she pecked him lightly on the lips.
“You certainly have a way with women, Mr Potter.” Lance remarked and both Naomi and Ginny glared at Lance. “I mean give the man a break. How many people catch a Dark Wizard leader by left hooking him across the face?” Naomi let out a small snort of laughter.
“I don’t suppose you know what Akrahn wants to talk about.” Harry asked an exhausted Dagfinn.
“He said he vanted to continue your discussion from the coast but my Aurors can get no more from him.” He replied, his eyes struggling to stay open.
“Minister, might I suggest you get some rest. You’ve been through a lot.” Naomi said in a surprisingly contradicting tone to her previous one. “I’m sure the rest of your Ministry workers would understand and cope while you got some sleep.”
Akrahn stared wirily at Naomi than eventually said “Very well, Auror Pryce. I think I vill take up that offer but, Auror Potter, I vant a full account on vat you and Akrahn talk about.”
Harry nodded at Akrahn’s statement though if Akrahn wanted to talk about what Harry thought he wanted to talk about, he knew Dagfinn would have to hear a different version of what Harry and Akrahn discussed.
The Scandinavian Ministry towered before Harry, Ginny and Naomi. Unlike the British Ministry, whose headquarters was hidden underground in the middle of the Muggle capitol, the Scandinavian’s had based their Ministry in the centre of a small Wizarding city called Staden Trollkarl. Located directly on the mountain filled boarder of Norway, Finland and Sweden, the small city rested securely on the ledge half way up the largest of the valley’s mountains. Surrounded by smaller mounts, the city overlooked a number of Wizarding communities that were scattered along the road towards the mountain’s base.
Their Ministry was a large murky-brown building that had been carved out of the mountain’s rock; a giant sapphire blue ‘M’ with a wand sticking out of the middle hanging above the entrance to the building and more windows then Harry could ever count decorating the building in several patterns.
“Subtle,” Ginny remarked as they walked through the grand, double-doored entrance.
In quite the contrast to the exterior’s colouring, the entrance hallway was adorned with crystal. Numerous crystal ornaments such as chandeliers and statues filled every corner, full-length portraits of figureheads encased within crystallised frames hung from the rough cave-like walls and two crystal water features of a Wizard wand saluting on opposite sides of the stairs leading up to the higher levels making it look as though they were about to duel one another.
The full splendour of the hall, however, was spoiled by the large number of security, though Harry noticed that most of the guards were supporting minor injuries from the Nurmengard battle. One of the Enforcers approached them and spoke to them in what sounded like Norwegian.
“Uh, sorry. English?” Naomi asked hopefully.
The Enforcer gave off a large sigh before saying “Identification and intention, please.” Harry and Naomi flashed their Auror Identification cards.
“Head Auror Harry Potter and Junior Auror Naomi Pryce. We’re here to see Akrahn Colby.”
The Enforcer stared wide-eyed at Harry’s I.D before spluttering “Uh, of course, I’ll show you up, sir.” Ginny grinned at Harry’s referral to as ‘Sir’ as the Enforcer spoke excitedly in Norwegian to a colleague.
“Please follow me. Madam, vould you mind vaiting in the reception?” The man said when he returned and, as the Enforcer began leading the way, Ginny begrudgingly made her way to the waiting area in the crowded reception.
Although it had been obvious from the outside that the Ministry was much larger than the British, it was even more so now that they were navigating the inside of the building; clearly the building’s interior carried on into the mountain it had been carved out from. When they had finally reached the tenth floor via the stairs, a feat that Naomi was not happy about, the Enforcer pointed them in the direction of the Interrogation rooms. “The guards vill tell you vich room he is in.”
When Harry and Naomi reached the end of the corridor, three guards, who Harry presumed were all Aurors, were guarding the outside of a single interrogation room and Harry assumed that was where Akrahn was and they eyed the new arrivals as they came into view. Harry approached them and said, showing his I.D, “I’m here to see Akrahn.” The Aurors glanced at each other before one of them opened the door for Harry.
“Stay here.” He told Naomi. “It just needs to be me and Akrahn.” And before Naomi could raise any objections, Harry cut across her. “He is unarmed and defenceless. I think I can handle it, Naomi.” And he walked into the room, leaving Naomi with the Scandinavian Aurors.
The Interrogation room was much darker than the ones’ back in London. Whereas their Ministry had an enchanted window as a source of light, the Scandinavians had candles hovering around the cavern-like room which gave the room a darker, almost unnerving atmosphere. There were two more Aurors on either side of Akrahn, their wands drawn. “Leave us.” Harry said to the Aurors and after looking at one another in surprise, the Aurors left.
“So, I hear you wanted to talk.” Harry said as he took the seat opposite Akrahn. As Akrahn looked up, Harry saw a large bruise on the right side of his face.
“I vanted to continue our conversation, Mr Potter.” Akrahn said. His hands were bound behind his back and he was in obvious discomfort. “The von about the Deathly Hallows.” Harry felt his heart nearly jump out of his chest as Akrahn said this and he was sure Akrahn had noticed. “You carry the symbol vith you and that is no ordinary Invisibility cloak in your possession.” Harry’s arm closed in instinctively around the outside of the inside pocket of his robes where his father’s cloak resided.
“I have often wandered, as have many, how you defeated He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named all those years ago and now I believe I have figured it out.” Silence broke out between the two Wizards for what felt like hours until Akrahn finished “Vere are the others?”
Harry gave off a small laugh. “Even if I did know about these Hallows, why would I tell you?”
Akrahn stared at Harry blankly and eventually replied “Because I know vere Selvyn’s army is going next.”
“Let me guess, America, right? To regroup with Ambrose and her forces?” Harry replied cockily. Akrahn continued to stare at Harry. Though his expression remained the same, it was obvious that he was not expecting Harry to know about Ambrose.
“Vell, it is always nice to see that our security services are not as stupid as people seem to think.” He then leaned in closer and said “But America is a big place, Potter. Now tell me, vat has become of the Hallows, or should I say, the other two Hallows and don’t even try lying to me.” And he glared at where the inside pocket of Harry’s robes would be. Harry considered Akrahn as he glared at the cloak. He had not expected Grindelwald to confide in anyone about the Hallows.
“How do you know about the Hallows anyway?” Harry asked, curious in whether his original suspicions were correct.
Again, Akrahn stared at Harry as he leaned back against his chair, clearly considering his answer.
“Since I vas a child, I have always been curious about the Hallows.” Akrahn began. “And ven rumour began to spread that Grindelvald had procured a vand of great power, I vent in to investigate for myself. I joined his following and I vas not disappointed. He performed magic the likes of which I had never seen. He, likewise, became impressed vith me and I became his most trusted deputy.” Harry was listening intently and was sure he had spotted a key element in Akrahn’s story.
“He never found out that you also knew about the Hallows.” Harry said, though Akrahn continued to glare at him. “You knew that if he found out that you believed in the Hallows, he’d have killed you where you stood.”
“It is true.” Akrahn answered unconcerned. “I do not deny, I did have a desire for the Elder Vand. But I vas not stupid enough to challenge him for it, he would have destroyed me in a duel and killing him by stealth vould have been equally as impossible vith the amount of protection he always gave himself. But I vas not vorried. I vas the favourite of the most powerful Dark Vizard of the time and I vas on the vinning side of a war.”
“Until Dumbledore came along.” Harry continued, smiling slightly but Akrahn merely shrugged.
“Both sides cannot vin a war. You of all people should know that. But ve have become distracted, vat do you say to my proposal?”
Harry’s mind was racing. The details of the Hallows for information on where Selwyn’s army was heading.
“How do I know you won’t be the one lying?” Harry asked. Akrahn glared at Harry, he was obviously thinking the same thing.
“An Unbreakable Vow.” Akrahn answered and Harry stared at him.
“Are you really that desperate for the Hallows?”
“I have vaited my entire life for this and at long last I have proof of their existence and their locations. Now, bring in von of your Aurors to be our Bonder.” And Akrahn gestured towards the door. Harry continued to watch Akrahn. He did not know the location of the Resurrection Stone so if he was asked he could answer that honestly, without fear and Akrahn had already figured out that Harry held possession of the cloak. The wand, however, was residing at Hogwarts in the tomb of Albus Dumbledore and while there were protective enchantments around the hiding place, he didn’t want Akrahn anywhere near Hogwarts let alone Dumbledore’s resting place.
But could Akrahn get anywhere near Hogwarts? He was currently being held by the Scandinavian Ministry and would most probably spend the rest of his life in captivity.
Time was of the essence. Too many people had died already and they needed to know where Marius and the others were before they joined forces with their new American counterparts. Harry needed to end this war before it got out of hand.
“Naomi!” Harry called and the door opened instantly.
“What?” Naomi said, her wand drawn.
“Close the door.” Harry said and he gestured her to come closer. Cautiously, she closed the door and approached as Harry placed the Muffliato Charm on the door. He did not want to risk the other Aurors hearing what Harry was about to do.
Naomi obeyed and asked “What is it?” as she did so.
“Do you trust me?” Harry asked and Naomi looked startled.
“What- Yes, of course I do!” Naomi replied sounding almost insulted.
“Then I need you to do what I say. No questions.”
Naomi looked nervous at Harry. “Okay” She said and Harry nodded his appreciation. Harry pointed his wand at Akrahn and the ropes binding Akrahn’s hands behind him fell apart.
“I need you to be the Bonder for our Unbreakable Vow.” Harry said flatly as the two wizards rose from their chairs.
“No!” Naomi cried, turning and aiming her wand at Akrahn and Harry was glad that he had used the Muffliato Charm.
“It’s the only way, Naomi.” Harry said. “He knows where Marius and the rest of that army are going.”
“And what are you going to do in exchange?” Naomi asked.
“No questions, Naomi.” She continued to aim her wand at Akrahn’s heart though her eyes were focussed on Harry. “We don’t have time to argue, we need information now, please.” As soon as Harry finished the word ‘Please’, she lowered her wand.
Akrahn smiled at Naomi’s discomfort of the situation and outstretched his hand. Harry clasped the elderly hand and Akrahn gripped his tightly.
“Place your vand on our hands, Naomi.” Akrahn instructed and Naomi begrudgingly obeyed, glaring at Akrahn as he spoke. “Vill you, Harry Potter, reveal to me the locations of the Deathly Hallows.” Harry and Akrahn looked into each other’s eyes as Harry said “I will.” A thick strand of fire emitted from Naomi’s wand and curled around the clenched hands sending an unpleasant warmth up Harry’s arm.
Harry felt Akrahn’s bony hand twitch in his own and said quickly and calmly “Will you, Akrahn Colby, tell me truthfully the plans of Selwyn, Marius and the rest of their followers.” Akrahn’s eyes widened slightly, still baring deep into Harry’s. Harry knew Akrahn had noticed the word ‘Plans’ and did not like it. He continued to glower into Harry’s eyes before, very quietly, he said “I vill.”
A second strand of fire slid out of the tip of Naomi’s wand and joined the first in circling the clasped hands. The agreement had been made. The threads of fire faded into the hands and when they vanished entirely, their handshake broke apart.
Akrahn slumped back down still glaring at Harry. Naomi was quick to react and, pointing her wand at Akrahn, the ropes reappeared and bound his hands again. “Harry-”
“Go and fetch Lance, tell him Akrahn has agreed to talk. Tell no one of this.” Harry interrupted looking Naomi dead in the eye. It took a while for Naomi to do as she was ordered but she eventually nodded and left.
“She is a tough von.” Akrahn said as he attempted to make himself more comfortable. “Dagfinn himself secured me and his binds vere nowhere near as tight as this.” Harry sat back down. He knew he would have to answer to her eventually. “Now, before ve are interrupted, might I suggest that ve act out your side of the bargain.”
Harry nodded and turning to face Akrahn, he began “The cloak was handed down to me by my father. I have no idea where the Resurrection Stone is, I lost it during the Battle of Hogwarts while I was deep in the Forbidden Forest.” Akrahn closed his eyes and sighed, obviously dissatisfied at Harry’s lack of information. “And the Elder Vand?”
“The Elder Wand resides in Albus Dumbledore’s tomb at Hogwarts.” Akrahn’s eyes flashed open.
“And you are its master, aren’t you? That is how you defeated You-Know-Who.” Harry didn’t answer and he knew he could do so safely. Akrahn chuckled at Harry’s silence. “But wait, how did you become its master?” He pressed with narrowed eyes. “The Elder Vand answers to the Vitch or Vizard who killed its previous master, yet it is vell known that you are an Auror who has yet to kill of your own volition, so how-” Akrahn’s eyes suddenly bulged wide as the answer struck him. “The original translation of the tale is defeated is it not? Killing is not necessary.” He then laughed to himself as though the wand were a rebellious schoolboy. “The Vand is indeed a fickle thing, is it not? But does that mean I vas it’s master back there?” Harry’s heart thundered. He hadn’t thought of that. “After I had relieved you of your vand, had I von the Elder Vand’s allegiance? Oh that is an energising feeling I must admit.” And Harry saw his hands opening and closing as though he had pins. “For a brief moment I vas the most powerful Vizard alive before, I take it, you disarmed me…” He finished bitterly.
“It wouldn’t have helped you in any way, you know.” Harry explained. “There’s a reason it earned the nicknames it got.”
Akrahn chuckled. “The Vand of Destiny, The Deathstick, it’s true the vand has a bloody history, but then those vith power have always been targets of the envious.”
“Or those who are just sickened by how you use said power.” Harry replied flatly causing Akrahn to continue sniggering.
“You know,” Akrahn said after he’d stopped laughing. “If Selvyn’s plan succeeds, the entire Vizarding World vill be in a state of var and you’re the first on his list of targets.”
“Does he really believe he can take on the entire Confederation?” Harry asked and Akrahn laughed again.
“Can you honestly tell me that everyone in the Confederation is prepared to fight?” Harry hesitated this time. He had not had time to find out what the result of the meeting had been. While Harry had witnessed many of the Ministers agreeing that something should be done, he did not know how many of them were willing to act.
Suddenly, the door behind Harry burst open and light poured into the room. Lance was standing at the door.
“Well hello there. A little birdie told me that you were willing to talk about the next attack.” Harry looked back at Akrahn and with a pang at the memory of Gawain being struck down, he and Lance began the interrogation.
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