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Chapter 2 : 01 For Crown and Country
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Song: In the Morning Light by Yanni
Album: In the Mirror (1997)
“Would you just think about it, Ronald?” When Ron Weasley looked into his wife’s brown eyes and saw the determination they held, he knew that he wasn’t going to get away that easily. He had known her for as long as he could remember and knew perfectly well that once she had set her mind on something, there was no way she would let go of it anytime soon. Ron could already see the steps she would take in his mind. First she would get mad at him for refusing, followed by the reasoning behind her idea before taking the final step: silent treatment. That was the step he was dreading the most. The last time she’d given him the silent treatment, it had lasted well over a month. You never realize how much you can miss something until it's taken away from you.
“Why are you so obsessed about this, ’Mione?” he asked as he tapped his mug to fill it with more orange juice before he settled himself once again on his chair. “I’ve only been in the force for about thirty years. When I first started, there were blokes who had survived the war and were there for over fifty years before they even started to think about retirement. I’m still young!” And in brilliant shape at that, he thought.
She walked up behind his chair before giving him a peck on the cheek, her arms gently wrapping over his shoulders in a hug; a comforting gesture that always relaxed him when he was stressed out. “I know that, Ron. But you-and Harry for that matter-started fighting dark wizards when we were eleven years olds. The other blokes you worked with had a much more peaceful childhood. We didn’t. And I just think that we ought to be able to relax and enjoy ourselves for once. Go travel, do things we want to do instead of raising children and work."
“I wouldn’t think of Quirrell as a dark wizard per se,” Ron argued as he got a whiff of Hermione’s scent; he could smell the freshness of her garden along with a hint of the coconut shampoo she always used as her long graying tresses tickled his face. She always fussed about her graying hair, and the suddenly appearing wrinkles. Although to Ron, she was just as beautiful as the day they admitted their love for one another. Hermione kissed him again on the other cheek. “Please think about it?” Another kiss on the lips, just to give him a taste of what might come...if she got her way. In a teasing tone she added, “please?”
Ron tried his best to not start giggling like a silly school girl as his wife sat on his lap and continued to kiss him, showing just how much she wanted him to think long and hard about his retirement. She had apparently been working on a new tactic to convince him and right now, as far as Ron knew, it was working. “Fine. Alright," he finally relented, "I’ll think it over, but don’t be angry if I reach a conclusion you don’t like.” Hermione smiled at him with that giddy smile that he liked so much, and always had a way of exciting him. He wrapped his arms around his wife's waist, giving her a firm caress making it clear of what he wanted, and gave her a passionate kiss.
“Oh bloody hell, stop it! Gross!” Hermione broke away from Ron, startled, to find to find their youngest son, Hugo, standing in the kitchen’s entrance. Thanks to Charlie’s influence, Hugo had started to grow his hair out and now, at twenty-two, it was every girl’s dream; according to Ron's many nieces, long, wavy hair was the ‘in’ thing young witches wanted.
“Does no one say good morning in this house?” Ron asked as Hermione regretfully slid off his lap. Silently, he cursed his son’s early rise. He had already fancied himself getting lucky before work, and the look Hermione was giving him said he might have been right.
“I’m sorry Dad; my morning greeting disappeared along with my appetite as soon as I spotted my parents snogging in the kitchen. The place people eat, you know. Don’t you people do that in private to begin with?”
“You’re up early, sweetheart, I thought you were off today and going to sleep in.” Hermione’s cheeks were still red but she managed to move on from the incident as if she hadn’t been caught red-handed.
"Lorcan wants to meet up with me today. ‘Bloke's day’ he called it."
“Will you be meeting us for Nana Diana’s dinner?”
“I believe so,” he said as he fetched his blue scarf from the chair and wrapped it around his neck. After one quick sweep into the fridge, one of the few muggle things Hermione couldn’t let go, he gave his mother a kiss on the cheek. “I really hope she’s making her meatloaf tonight. In the meantime, I ought to get going now. Lorcan must be waiting for me,” he said as he shoved Ron’s last piece of bacon in his mouth. Ron sighed and looked at his plate with sad eyes; his eggs and toast looked rather naked without his favorite morning food. His son had a lot of cheek.
“Alright, be careful, Hugo.”
“Don’t worry Mum,” said Hugo with a dismissive wave of his hand and a smile. “Just hanging out with Lorcan. I'll see everybody at Nana’s.”
“Alright, just don’t be late!” Ron called out as their son walked out of the room.“You know how Nana Granger can be when it comes to time.”
“I won’t, Dad!” he shouted before he disapparated with a loud pop.
Ron groaned as he looked at his watch. “Speaking of leaving…I must get going as well, sweetheart.” With a few surgical swipes of his spoon, Ron finished off his breakfast before downing the entire mug of orange juice. Something he immediately regretted as it went down the wrong way.
After the alarming coughing fit, he straightened his robes and bid his wife a good day. “So you promise me that you’ll think about it?”
“Yes, ‘Mione, I’ll think it through.” He thought of carrying his wife to the bedroom and enjoy some personal time with her now that the house was empty. As tempting as that thought was, however, he was running late and his boss didn’t appreciate tardiness. Things would have to wait until after dinner with the Granger family and this time he’d hex his son if he dared to interrupt them.
With one last kiss, Ron left the house and with a blink of an eye, and a lot of concentration, he found himself on one of the designated apparition points within the Ministry’s atrium.
Right after the war, the Ministry of Magic did a complete about face, both in terms of the way things were run and the building itself. The most obvious change was the removal of the Magic is Might sculpture, Voldemort’s offensive replacement for the Fountain of Magical Brethren. In their stead was a large black monument honoring those who had died fighting or had been victims. Every time Ron found himself staring at the monument he would find the familiar names. Specially the one that still hurt no matter how much time passed.
Greeting everyone he knew as he walked towards the lift that would take him to his office on Level Two, Ron mulled over his conversation with Hermione. The idea of not having to wake up early to come to work, to travel the world with his wife and to live a quiet life after many years of chaos was indeed tempting. He knew that if things got boring, he could always help out his brother in one of the many Wizard Wheezes stores. He still felt young, however, and well capable of hunting dark wizards for many years to come if Hermione would stop thinking about retirement.
As he stepped out of the lift, Ron bumped into a young recruit whose name he couldn’t remember, let alone recall the last time he’d seen him. He was a scrawny boy, apparently fresh out of the training academy, with hazel eyes and brown hair. Ron tried, with all his might, to picture the young lad in front of him dueling against a Neo-Death Eater and winning. But after much thought he couldn’t believe the kid in front of him could even be capable of surviving the first minute of a duel. For the sake of peace and tranquility in their world, perhaps retirement wasn’t a good idea.
“Good morning, lad.”
“Sir, the Head of Office wishes to talk to you as soon as possible. He sent me to fetch you just in case you were in your office already.” As the young man talked, Ron wondered if he was ever like that when he first joined-too annoyingly perky in the morning.
“Is he in his office?”
“Yes, sir,” he answered with a single head nod and a beaming smile.
“Better not make him wait, then. Thank you, lad!”
“It’s Hunter, sir.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“My name.” Hunter explained with a sly grin across his face. “Just in case you forgot.”
Cheeky bastard, Ron thought, as a lie formed in his head. “No, no, of course not. Just, you know, I like calling everyone ‘lad’. Well, better get going; don’t wish to make the boss wait any longer.”
“Right. Have a good day, sir!”
Without bothering to respond, Ron made his way to the Head of Office wondering how he was going to approach the whole retirement idea with him. Would he take it kindly? Wholeheartedly agree? Ron had no idea but when he knocked on the door he knew that he needed to talk to him. Or at least to get a second opinion on the matter. “You called for me, Harry?”
“Morning, Ron.” Harry Potter, his Head of Office (and his best friend) greeted Ron without bothering to look up from whatever paperwork he was doing. “Come on in; I want to talk to you about something.” His office was small compared to the other Heads of Office. The only thing that kept the lack of space from driving Harry mad was the enchantment placed on the windows that mimicked the weather outside and the filing cabinets with an Extension Charm. Ron took a quick look around the office and it dawned on him that the place hadn’t changed at all since the first day they had set foot in it as Aurors in Training.
“Yeah, I just wanted to talk to you about a few things without being interrupted,” he said as he scribbled rapidly on a piece of parchment. “The Minister wants me to update everyone’s personal profile, just to make sure everything’s up to date. Did you know that Ravastan has been married five times?”
“No…but now I do.”
“Anyway, I wanted to ask you something.” He took his glasses off and rubbed the bridge of his nose. His hair was still as messy as it was when Ron had first met him, however, the jet black was slowly turning white and the wrinkles around his eyes started to show his friend’s age. Perhaps Hermione was right, he thought as he started to ponder on his own looks. His ginger hair had lost its vibrant color and it was not only turning white but also thinning on the top. His wife thought it cute, that it made him resemble his father, but it only made him feel old. It wasn’t the first time he’d wondered what had happened to him. “Would you be capable of taking care of the department for me?”
Ron blinked. “What do you mean? Is everything alright with you?”
“Yes, nothing to worry about,” Harry reassured Ron. “I only ask because Ginny is talking about me retiring and well…the idea doesn't sound too bad, really."
Ron narrowed his eyes. “Has she said something about you battling evil wizards since the tenderage of eleven and that she wants to see the world with you?”
“Yes,” Harry replied slowly.
“Hermione said the same thing to me! I think those two witches are conspiring together.”
“You think they’ve been talking?”
“Of course I think so.” Ron replied. “They want us to retire while the young ones take care of the threats.”
After a few seconds of pondering, Harry asked. “So what do you think?”
“To be honest, part of me is tired of waking up early and come to work. I can still handle it, mind you, and I can take a few dark wizards with my eyes closed if necessary.” He paused for a moment and a small smile crept up his face. “Do you remember those days right after the war?”
“Which ones?” Harry asked with a snort. “The ones where I was hiding from every witch and wizard who wanted to take a picture, shake my hand, or marry me? Or the ones where we rarely got any sleep due to small skirmishes from the Death Eaters that managed to get away?”
Ron shook his head. “No mate, the wanna be Death Eaters!”
Harry tried to hide his laugh with a cough. “Remember when we chased Arshan through an alley and he tried to jump a fence?”
Ron started laughing at the memory. “Bloody idiot got his robes caught on the fence and ended up face planting the flagstone.”
“I still wonder why he didn’t just Disapparate!” Both men continued to laugh at the memory of days gone by and it was a few minutes before they managed to regain their composure. “Those were the days.”
“Aye,” Ron agreed. “I hate to say this but part of me still misses it. The adrenaline. The thrill of knowing we made a difference. Do you honestly think the next generation of Aurors can handle this if we just leave?”
Harry sighed. “We are not leaving tomorrow, Ron. It’ll take some training and preparation before we can even bring this idea to the Minister. Also, Shacklebolt’s daughter just began her training. She’s good and with proper training she’ll be one of the best, just like her father.”
Ron sighed and nodded in agreement. He had seen Regina Shacklebolt’s performance during evaluation and had not been surprised by her talent. With Kinglsey as her father and Portia, a retired Quidditch player, it was no wonder she had aced all the preliminary tests of skill and agility. “The good thing is that with all the work we’ve put in, the worst of the country’s dark wizards were sent to Azkaban years ago or are dead. The ones that are still out there are nowhere near as powerful or dangerous as Voldemort and his minions.”
“Definitely not.” Harry agreed, the memories of the war started to creep into his mind. “Eh...tell you what, mate. I’ll speak with the Minister about the possible idea of us retiring. Maybe you and I can sit down with him and come up with a plan. As much as I would love to just hang my cloak and travel with Ginny, I think there’s more you and I can do. Imagine if we take Regina Shacklebolt and other recruits that are strong as she is and mold them into the perfect Auror department? We can’t walk away just yet...However, I do agree...you and I are not getting any younger. I just hope the Minister will take the news kindly.” Harry paused for a moment and sighed. “Speaking of Hughes, Ron, he’s been asking about that report about Runkin for about a couple of days.”
Montgomery Runkin was a middle aged wizard who, after losing a bet at a pub in Liverpool, had decided to seek revenge on the man who had ‘stolen’ his hard earn gold, Tristan Carlyle. Runkin broke into Carlyle’s home and had beaten the victim to death. The body had been found by his now widow, Elaine Carlyle, when she arrived home from holiday. Ron had been the primary investigator for the case along with two young Aurors who lost their lunch the minute they saw the body. It had taken some time but in the end, Ron had solved the case, giving Mrs. Carlyle the peace of mind of knowing that her husband’s killer was now serving life in Azkaban.
“Right then, must get going now.” Ron felt abashed. Here he was going on about young Aurors who might be be able to hand the job, when he himself hadn’t even started on the paperwork. “Those reports about Runkin are not going to write themselves.”
“When did he find out?” Brigadier Lance Mortlock asked as he set a file down on his desk.
“Hard to say when exactly,” Major Marion Johnson answered as she took a tablet out of her satchel to pull up the same file the Brigadier had to add the most recent information regarding the tutor. “But he didn’t take too kindly of what we were doing with the children. You would think that he would like that, the integration of humans and wizards after boasting about his Mum being part of the so-called Second Wizarding War, but he clearly didn’t. He told Magdalena that he was going to tell everyone who would listen to him about us and hopefully put a stop to our work. By regulation, they cannot come and harm us, “poor, defenseless muggles”, but I am afraid of the possible weight they may have with some of our high ranking officials or our Prime Minister.”
“I wouldn’t worry too much about the Minister, Johnson,” Mortlock said with a simple hand wave. “What we need to worry about is him telling the wrong people what we’re doing. The children must continue their education within the Infinity Academy and their families must continue to reside within its vicinity. Get our best trackers, Johnson, and give them this assignment. He must be stopped from telling anyone of what we’re doing by any means necessary.”
“Yes, sir. Immediately, sir.”
Mortlock watched as the Major walked out of his office at full speed before starting his video conference. Most of the tutors working for the Academy were unaware of what exactly what they were doing. All they knew was that they were helping young muggle-born children begin their magical training earlier than what was expected. A primary school for human children with very special needs, Mortlock had always said. However, someone had breached their contract by telling a wizard the truth about the Academy.
He dialed Sergeant Connor and told him of the breach and how it needed to be taken care of considering that the wizard had been working in his unit. Connor, a stern man in his late forties, agreed and said he had a suspicion of who it had been.
After they ended the call with simple parting words, Brigadier Mortlock opened the wizard’s file and memorized his face. He always did that when it came to ordering necessary executions.
For King and Country. That’s why he was doing all of this.
For King and Country.
After an uneventful day at work, Ron bid Harry a good night and left the office to deliver the report that Minister Hughes wanted. He said his goodbyes to those colleagues that still remained in the Ministry and apparated home to find himself being rushed about by his wife, who demanded him to be in proper clothes within thirty minutes; twenty if possible.
He managed to shower, shave and be ready within Hermione’s expectations and felt proud of himself when he ready to go before Hermione, who was doing last minute touch-ups of her make up. Once Hermione was ready, she descended the stairs and looked wildly around, clearly not bothering to acknowledge the fact that he had been ready long before her.
“Hugo is not back, is he now?” she asked as she began to ring him with her mobile without waiting to hear Ron’s answer. Ron didn’t quite understand why she had one, considering that she never really used it except to get in touch with the kids.
“It’s a lot faster this way, Ronald,” she had said when they bought the kids their first mobile phones for Christmas. “We can ring them while they’re out with their muggle friends. Can’t be very convenient to send an owl, now can it?”
Ron waited silently and watched as his wife began to look more crossed with each passing ring. “Went straight to voicemail,” she said with a stern tone. "Right, well we can’t very well wait for him all night. We best get going, Rosie is already with Mum.”
“Right,” said Ron. After so many years of marriage, he knew better than to contradict Hermione in any way, shape or form when she was irritated. Therefore, he gave her a reassuring smile, held his arm out for his wife to take, and together they disapparated to Nana Granger’s house.
He could feel his mobile vibrating from his pocket but he couldn’t quite reach it. His Mum was probably ringing him right now to ask where he was and why he wasn’t at Nana Granger’s house.
‘Well Mum, I’m in a bit of a fix,’ he thought as he struggled against the bindings. His wand had been taken away from him so even if he managed to untie himself he was at a loss of what to do after. He was locked in the boot of a car as if he were common luggage, and driving full speed down a busy motorway.
Lorcan’s owl had arrived at the crack of dawn carrying a letter that had asked-almost begged it seemed- to meet for breakfast; but to be discreet if anyone asked where he was going. Hugo was confused about the secrecy, even a bit alarmed, but he did what he was told so by pure loyalty. He had met Lorcan in a seedy muggle inn where he had breakfast while Lorcan told him how muggles were taking young muggle-borns into their "school" and brainwashing them. He had been hired by Headmaster Connor, a muggle-born himself, to help young muggle kids understand how magic worked. “An introduction to magic,” he had called it.
At first Lorcan had been excited to have such a job right after Hogwarts. To be able to teach young muggle-borns how to handle magic before they came to Hogwarts was a great responsibility. However, a few months back, he had spoken with Headmistress McGonagall and she had told him, as far as she knew no such school existed. At least not under the Ministry of Magic. That left Lorcan a bit suspicious and he had asked Magdalena, the girl that had helped him get the job and a fellow Ravenclaw house mate, about the truth behind the Infinity Academy.
It was then Lorcan had found the truth.
His mobile was ringing again. It was probably Rosie ready to chew him out for not coming to Nana’s and being the reason for Mum’s anger.
He screamed as loudly as he could but thanks to the clothing and tape over his mouth it only came as a weak, muffled moan. He had no idea who these people were. All he knew was they were strong, and most importantly dangerous; the surprise attack and his pounding head were enough of a testimony to let him know that he needed to cooperate with them no matter what.
As the tears started to sting his eyes, he had to admit he was rather scared. He wanted nothing more than to be home with his Mum and Dad, having dinner with Nana, making fun of his sister and of her dear Scorpio as he usually did when he saw her.
But now...he was in the boot of a car with Lorcan and with no idea if he was going to see him family ever again.
“It’s very odd of Huey to not answer his mobile, Dad, I’m worried about him,” Rose Weasley whispered to her father as they apparated back into her parents' house. Nana Granger, despite her age, was a fantastic cook and had lamented that Hugo had not been able to make dinner due to work. Or at least that’s what her mother had said to keep Nana Granger from worrying about her youngest grandchild. “You know very well how he is, Dad. If he could get away with it, he would use a Sticking Charm to securely keep his mobile by his ear at all times.”
“I know, Rosie, but maybe he’s just being a prat and decided to not show up for dinner. Instead of being a decent human being and letting us know, he decided not to answer it or even show up for tea. Don’t worry too much about it, sweetheart,” he said as he gave Rose a small kiss on the forehead. “I’m sure he’s fine. However, do us all a favor and do keep him in your thoughts…your Mum will not let him sly his way out of this one. I almost feel bad for him. Anyway, will you be staying over with us tonight?”
“Yeah, I’m just going to make myself a cup of tea, though.”
“Alright. Good night, Rosie.”
“Good night, Dad.”
Rose waited for the sound of their parents' bedroom door closing before she took her mobile out of her satchel. Scorpius wasn’t much of a fan when it came to muggle technology but Rose loved everything about them. They were magical in their own way and she had tried to explain that to her boyfriend but he would just look more confused with each passing moment. She rang her brother several times and knew, by now, that something was not right. He wouldn’t screen her calls. Mum’s, she could believe, but not his partner in crime.
She paced back and forth wondering what to do. She knew that her brother was meeting with Lorcan, one of his best mates from school, but anything beyond that was a mystery. Rose released a frustrated sigh and plopped herself on the couch. There was no way she could go to sleep knowing that her little brother was not home, safe and sound.
And Rose knew that no matter how her parents were behaving they were also worried about her brother’s whereabouts.
Sergeant Brandon Miller had arrived to the chaotic scene early in the morning. As he spotted his partner and superior, Detective Chief Inspector William Braxton, already hard at work, he wished he had arrived a bit earlier; his son and morning traffic had prevented him from beating Braxton and knew he wouldn’t hear the end of it.
“This one is messy.” Miller overheard Scott, the coroner in charge, say to DI Braxton as he joined the group. Braxton nodded to Miller in acknowledgement and asked Camille Scott to continue. “He was beaten to a bloody pulp, has a cracked cranium and several broken ribs. No gun wound as far as we can tell.” They walked up to the crime scene and body, covered in a white tarp, and looked around to see what they could collect for evidence without touching anything to prevent contamination.
Braxton pulled his small, black pocketbook and began to jot down some quick notes.. “A dark alley, it’s almost the perfect crime scene. No one can see anything from here and I bet you if we ask around, no one heard a bloody thing.”
“Your victim didn’t die here," stated Camille as she put a fresh pair of gloves on. She pulled the white tarp back and started to point in different parts of the body. "Your victim has a bloody nose and jaw but there's no blood on the pavement. Also, see how his hair is matted with blood?” She pointed to the head; the victim’s natural hair color was hard to see from all the dried blood. “Head wounds are always very dramatic. Even if you were to gash yourself on a cabinet door, you’ll bleed so much you’ll think you have to go see a medic. There’s no puddle of blood big enough to tell me that your victim died here. My guess is that he died elsewhere and dropped off here."
Braxton jotted everything the examiner was saying to keep a personal record of the scene. "Have tests done on him for drugs in his system," he ordered. "This could be gang related just like last week’s case." Camille nodded in agreement as she covered the body once more and proceeded get the ambulance medic to take it away to the morgue.
Once she was out of sight, Braxton uncovered the body and very gently lifted an arm to get what he had seen peeking from underneath the victim's body. "Miller do you have a handkerchief with you?"
Miller dug through his pockets and found a wad of napkins he had mindlessly stuffed in his trousers when he was helping his son. "No, no handkerchief. Would a napkin work, sir?"
"That would work just fine, Miller. Thank you." Miller gave Braxton several napkins and watched as the detective began to pull something from underneath the body. To a regular detective, the stick was worthless, not even worth of bagging as part of the investigation. To Miller and Braxton, that stick, with its intricate design and shape, meant a lot.
"Is that what I think it is, sir?"
"You're thinking right Miller, this is a wand." The older detective sighted as he straightened up, his joints hurting with each second. "And now I'm beginning to think that this is more than a gang related crime."
“Last time we dealt with that division was when they had a killer on the loose and he ended up killing a lot of our people.”
“And now they’re the ones who are ending up in our streets.” Braxton covered the wand with a few more napkins to preserve any fingerprints it may have and tucked it gently in his inner coat pocket. “Let’s go back to the office, we have to get in touch with Potter and Weasley right away and see if they can identify the body.”
Ah! I've finally updated!! This chapter has been completed for a while but decided to go ahead and post it. Got comments? Please, tell me what you think!! I'll take any good CC. Thank you!
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