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Chapter 1 : Introduction and Prologue
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Part One: The Legend
Harry is about to take over as Head of the Auror Office while Ron finds himself increasingly unwanted and sidelined. Looking for an excuse to distance himself from the Ministry, Ron accepts a call for help from outside the Wizarding world. (Part One of The Traveller Trilogy)
This is the first part of The Traveller, a series of three self-contained but linked stories. The first two parts are more or less concurrent with each other.
Legend: A claimed background or biography, usually supported by documents and memorised details.
Ron here is not the fish out of water that his father would be in Muggle London. He’s an experienced, if unappreciated, Auror who has successfully worked undercover amongst members of Muggle law enforcement. He’s older and wiser, for the most part and isn’t afraid to ask for help when he needs it.
Harry and Ron formed a very successful partnership before Harry’s promotion, which is possibly why Ron feels so aggrieved at his current situation. His resentment is not directed at Harry, however, who clearly wanted to promote Ron as his deputy.
I wanted to split the story narrative between Ron and Harry. We start with Ron, and Harry’s adventure will follow in Part Two.
At first, I did this so the reader knows just a little more about the plot than Harry and what he might be walking into. However, Ron’s resentment at being sidelined whilst remaining steadfastly loyal to Harry seems much better coming from Ron himself.
Part One is complete and approximately 19000 words long over 10 Chapters. Part Two (The Raven’s Call) is also complete and about 42000 words long. The concluding part is currently in progress.
Part One: Prologue
Proudfoot shivered violently as he stood beneath the bus-shelter. He was still breathing heavily from the exertion of running from the road junction a few yards away.
Although he was glad to get out of the rain for a moment, that hadn’t been his main motivation. This bus shelter had a tourist map of the local area.
He checked the street map mounted on the bus-stop shelter hoping to get his bearings. He wasn’t at all used to being in Muggle London at night and the heavy rain and noisy traffic weren’t helping.
Even the insides of his pockets were wet, something which would not have occurred had they not insisted that only genuine unaltered Muggle clothing was to be worn.
The streets were generally well lit and the few late opening shops had bright signs and window displays. Even so he had managed to step into several deep puddles that lay in the odd shadows.
Most of the shops had had passed were closed, however, and there were many dark doorways and recesses where an observer could watch from. It was probably his constant checking and looking around that had caused him to lose his bearings again.
He urgently scanned the map, quickly reading all the street names. Nothing at all looked familiar.
Perhaps in his hurry he had got the location wrong? It wouldn’t be the first time.
He glanced anxiously at his watch. He still had time. Just.
He could hear a red Routemaster bus approaching the bus stop at speed and the light from its headlights reflected from the wide shop window behind him. The headlights created a hunched Proudfoot shaped shadow that grew as the bus approached.
Proudfoot was about to give up and ask whoever got off the bus for directions when he looked at the map and watched as a reflected shaft of light moved across it.
There it was!
He was only a couple of streets away.
Proudfoot hurried behind the bus and crossed the road at a run, jumping over the water filled gutter onto the pavement. He then slowed down to a fast walk so as not to draw too much attention to himself and took the first side turning.
If it was quiet enough he intended to Apparate at least part of the way, but every time he thought he might get away with it he saw someone. This part of London was just too busy even late at night.
Proudfoot was wet through by now and was desperate to dry himself off.
He turned right and then left.
Proudfoot looked around for a street sign. According to the bus map he ought to be there by now, but it occurred to him that the map might not have shown every road. His last turning had been into a wide passageway used by pedestrians and bicycles, after all.
Panting a little now, he hurried along past a high wrought iron fence and turned a corner into a kind of square with the buildings set back. In the middle was an area of park that definitely hadn’t been on the bus stop map.
Proudfoot groaned to himself and looked at his watch, knowing he was probably too late now.
It had all been a ridiculous mess from start to finish.
Everyone had been waiting on the wrong side of London when the message had come through that the location had been miscalculated. A small deviation wouldn’t have mattered, since the intended test area had been fairly remote.
Proudfoot wondered what the problem had been this time. There had been so many assurances that the control charms had finally been perfected.
Yes, many assurances and very little evidence of any improvement.
There had been so many tests and more than a few failures over the last few months.
Proudfoot was now looking at his watch and actually hoping that the deadline would pass. That would mean that one of his colleagues would have to clean things up instead of himself.
One of the buildings across the way looked vaguely familiar and he realised it was the back of the old commune building. He had only visited the place a couple of times, and then he must have entered using an entrance on the other side.
He felt himself being drawn towards the place.
Proudfoot walked slowly through an open gate and across an empty tarmacadam car park. There were many deep puddles here but he was so wet it hardly mattered now.
He smiled to himself seeing the large blue painted security doors. They had been open and he had looked out through to the rear from inside. They had just been looking at a pair of sculptures and she was debating their merits with a couple of the resident artists.
It was a bittersweet memory. She had been feeling ill for weeks but on that day his beloved Veronica had been so radiant and full of life. It would be some weeks later when the Healers finally diagnosed her illness.
He sighed deeply and decided to go back to the place he once called home.
Proudfoot didn’t need to wonder what his late wife would have thought about his present predicament and it hurt him to think what a disappointment he would have been to her.
He told himself that he was past caring, but that wasn’t really true.
Veronica would never have allowed him to become so weak. She would have marched him into the Ministry and demanded action.
But Veronica wasn’t here and his blackmailer knew he wouldn’t dare go the Ministry. Not now that he was so involved.
Proudfoot turned sadly and began to retrace his steps. It was darker on the other side of the square and he ought to be able to Disapparate from there.
It happened suddenly with no warning.
Oddly, Proudfoot understood what was happening at once, although he had never actually experienced time slowing before.
Of course, time wasn’t really slowing. It was simply that his reaction times were becoming accelerated so that it appeared from his perspective that time was slowing down. He, or rather his thoughts, were becoming faster.
He could see individual rain drops falling unnaturally slowly and the light from the security flood lights on the opposite building dimmed.
Proudfoot knew he only had moments to react. The protection charm had been activated because his life was in immediate danger, even if he didn’t consciously know it at the time. He would have maybe three seconds to act and must have already used up half a precious second.
He turned as quickly as he could, feeling resistance of the air pushing against his arms and torso. It was like moving through treacle.
He threw himself around and withdrew his wand in one practised motion. It seemed to take him an age, but in fact the falling raindrops only moved a few inches at most. He ought to have time to either return fire or Disapparate away.
As he moved agonisingly slowly, it occurred to him how quickly and freely he was thinking and recalling. He had barely paid any attention to the warlock that had sold him the quickening defence charm and taught him how to use it. That had been years ago, yet the memory was vivid and complete. He knew for a fact that he’d need almost a full two second’s worth of real time to Disapparate and his range of defences would be limited in his present quickened state. He wouldn’t be able to conjure a shield with any meaningful degree of strength.
Proudfoot strained to turn his head as his torso twisted until at last he could see behind himself and readied himself to fire at his attackers.
In all likelihood, a hex had already been fired at his back.
To his dismay, no one at all was behind him. There were no hexes about to hit him.
So, were was the danger? Something must have activated the quickening charm.
Proudfoot felt himself falling towards the ground but made no effort to stop his momentum, knowing his precious advantage was ebbing away.
The light seemed to grow even dimmer and he looked up as he fell back.
Proudfoot knew as soon as he saw the descending mass that he had no time left to Disapparate away. As quick as he was just now, his fate was sealed.
It seemed he had come to the correct location after all, but he would never have been able to tidy this away anyway. They had been insane to attempt anything so big anywhere near a populated area.
He vaguely wondered how many tonnes were above the strangely smooth underside of the rock that about to kill him.
In real time it would be mercifully quick. Perhaps a quarter of a second at most.
But in his current accelerated state he had perhaps a few more seconds.
Proudfoot called his most vivid memories of Veronica into his mind. Her smile. Her Touch. Her kiss.
When the rock ceiling was only a couple of inches above his head, he released the quickening charm.
He didn’t hear the dull thud of the object apparently cut from a single piece of rock and weighing many tonnes as it hit the tarmacadam surface, setting off car alarms all around the square.
“He left everything shared between his favourite Barman, his Nurse and his cat.”
Ron arrives early for a meeting using a fake ID he shouldn’t have and worrying that Kingsley will appear at any moment to drag him back to the Ministry.
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