Chapter 2 : Chapter One
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Some months later…
Ron Weasley was still thanking his lucky stars as he entered the drab meeting room. He looked up and noted the time on the wall clock. He was very early, but he had wanted time to extricate himself should his identity documents fail the scrutiny of security down at the Reception Desk.
He had been in this particular building before, of course, but never on a floor as high as this floor.
The higher the floor, the higher the importance.
Ron thanked the escort who had brought him through the security doors. The young officer left saying, “If you could wait in here, Sir? The others should be here shortly.”
“Sure,” replied Ron, and was thankful that he sounded a good deal more confident than he was feeling. Ever since he entered through the large revolving door downstairs, Ron had been waiting for Kingsley to Apparate before him and drag him back to his desk for a reprimand.
He walked around the group of small tables which has been arranged into a square so that all the attendees would face each other, selecting a chair next to the windows. The heavy, soundproof door had been propped open with a chair and someone had left some pens and paper on the table closest the door.
Ron forced himself to calm down. He was perfectly entitled to be there. His fake documents said so, didn’t they?
He had felt a little guilty about misleading Brookes, but the old Warlock had agreed that it would be best to copy an ID from someone with high enough clearance to avoid any confrontation if at all possible.
They had been charged with a routine record adjustment a few weeks ago that would have been a mundane assignment had it not been the location of one particular and rather illusive copy. The confidential file had eventually been found in a small safe, but they had needed to search a number of offices over several nights before finding the right one.
In the event they hadn’t needed to enter any of the high security areas of the central London high-rise office.
The standing instruction was for all fake documentation to be returned to the Muggle Liaison Office for destruction, but Ron had purposely forgotten to return his personal ID.
At the time, even he hadn’t been entirely sure why he’d done it, although Harry hadn’t been that surprised.
Ron smiled to himself, remembering their hurried conversation. He was glad not to have to wait until Harry’s return before asking permission to do what he had gone ahead and done anyway.
Harry’s only real concern was for Hermione, of course. Ron’s recent extended stint out on loan as a surveillance specialist had been wearing on them both and Harry has adamant it needed to stop.
Fortunately for Ron, that surveillance operation had ended a few nights ago. Indeed, it was the celebration of a successful arrest that had indirectly led to his invitation to attend the meeting today.
Still, Harry seemed to understand his need to get away from the Auror Office for a while.
He had been quite annoyed that Kingsley had personally blocked Ron’s appointment in opposition to Harry’s wishes.
Kingsley had finally promoted Harry to Head of the Auror Department a few weeks ago but had insisted that the appointment was conditional upon Harry completing an extended trial period.
Ron had thought this a pretty insulting thing to do at the time, although Harry repeatedly said he was more than happy to go along with any arrangements Kingsley felt were appropriate. He clearly didn’t want to rock the boat just then and he didn’t want Ron to, either.
Everyone in the Auror Office knew that Harry had been practically running things for years already, and Ron in particular felt that Kingsley was being unnecessarily officious towards Harry.
Kingsley had even appointed two new deputies to support Harry during his provisional period, and to Ron it was looking increasingly likely that Kingsley wanted to permanently block his own advancement.
Hermione had speculated that Kingsley just wanted people in place at the beginning where there was no personal loyalty between Harry and his immediate subordinates. Ron, however, had the feeling that Kingsley just didn’t think he was up to the task, despite his having Harry’s full support.
Ron sighed and got up to look out of the window.
The fabric blast curtains, designed to protect the occupants from the worst of flying glass, were a legacy from the past when Muggle Government offices were regularly targets for bomb attacks. The curtains didn’t mask a particularly scenic view, though.
Ron held his hands over adjacent ventilation grilles under the window, and smirked feeling one grille was expelling cool air while the other was expelling warm air. Yes, this was definitely a Government building.
Hearing someone entering the room, he turned to see a familiar face.
“Ron!” cried Blake as he quickly walked around the tables to shake his hand.
“Hello, Len. Good to see you,” replied Ron with a smile.
“Thanks for coming. Did you clear things with your Governor?”
“Well, not officially,” admitted Ron. “He’s fine with me helping out for a few days while he’s away, but he’s threatening everyone in the department with personnel reviews when he gets back. In any event, I’m not going to be allowed a permanent transfer, but a one-off assignment might still be okay.”
“Well, I hope we can apply some pressure at our end. My Governor’s Guv has asked his Guv to plea your case. We could really use you.”
Ron smiled. It was a nice change to feel appreciated and wanted.
Blake was probably in his late-thirties and seemed to be a little shorter than the minimum regulation height. He was a little over-weight and went red in the face when he walked even short distances, but Ron was in little doubt why he was such a highly rated detective. Blake combined obsessive dedication with a cleverness few could match. He was also incredibly skilled using computers and any type of electronics.
The two had quickly struck up a firm friendship, and Ron appreciated that Blake had never mocked his almost total absence of technical knowledge.
Two more people entered that Ron didn’t recognise and the four exchanged nods. The two sat down and continued a whispered conversation.
“I’ll do introductions later,” said Blake before leaning in to speak more confidentially. “Listen, I really am grateful for the other night. I was sure we were all for the high-jump. The Luger-man has just been waiting for an excuse, too.”
Ron just smiled and shook his head.
“How the hell did you get that bar fixed so quickly?”
“I know some people, that’s all.”
“And keep the Press from printing the story?”
“Well, it turns out the reporter was a bit confused and the photographer forgot to put any film in his camera. Just lucky, I guess.”
Blake was about to press for more details when a uniformed senior officer appeared at the doorway.
Everyone immediately stood to attention.
“Ah, Weasley?” he said in a drawling tone.
The man smartly entered the room and went straight over to Ron. He had never spoken to Klugermann before, but Ron knew exactly who he was.
“I just wanted to offer my condolences.”
“Thank you, Sir,” replied Ron sombrely, returning the firm handshake and noting the many service award ribbons on Klugermann’s uniform jacket.
“Bangen was a legend. He made a tremendous contribution to the service,” said Klugermann pompously. “He’ll be sorely missed.”
“Indeed, Sir,” agreed Ron.
“Had you been with him long?”
“Only a few months, Sir.”
“Quite a maverick, by all accounts. Do you happen to know when the memorial service will be?”
“We held a small service last night, Sir. He didn’t want a formal ceremony, and what with his last disciplinary hearing due to render their verdict this week my Governor thought we should keep things low key. We just toasted his ashes as they were scattered into the Thames.”
“Had he any family left?”
“Actually, Sir, no. No children and three failed marriages. He left everything shared between his favourite Barman, his Nurse and his cat.”
“Well, that was our assumption since it was the drink that got him in the end. To be fair, he was genuinely fond of her and, actually, that seemed to be her only uniform fit to be seen outdoors in, Sir.”
Klugermann gave an embarrassed cough before continuing.
“Well, I have attempted to make contact your new Boss. Both to offer my congratulations and to express my thanks for your invaluable assistance over the last few weeks.”
“Thank you, Sir.”
“I hope you will be able to assist us in our latest investigation. Detective Sergeant Blake speaks very highly of you.”
Ron smiled and nodded his thanks to Blake.
“Unfortunately, my new Governor flew off to the States last night, Sir. He may be difficult to contact at the moment.”
“Ah, yes. That Washington conference.”
“Really?” asked Ron in genuine surprise. “I think his air tickets were to Las Vegas, Sir.”
“Let’s just say I’ve had enough Ministerial interference to last me a while.”
Ron and the others are briefed on their surveillance subject. Ron slips up and momentarily forgets his cover story.
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