Chapter 3 : 02 Cassandra's Gift
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Song:Opening by Nicholas Hooper
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince OST 2009
Harry arrived to his office half an hour early. His plan was to finish some paperwork he had procrastinated doing for a few weeks. However, as he approached his office he was appalled to find the door slightly ajar. For Harry, it was a ritual to properly lock his door and add a few spells to make sure his space was protected every night after leaving. The distrust he had towards the Ministry was not something he could shake away after a few years of working for them. It was a distrust that lasted a lifetime. If they were capable of abusing their power to slander a teenage boy and make false arrests, just to look as though they were doing their job, what could possibly stop the people higher up from going through Harry’s office?
He listened carefully for any sounds coming from inside, like the shuffling of feet or the rummaging of his filing cabinet. The only sound he could hear, however, was something that closely resembled an angry bear. Harry racked his brain for any possible creatures that could have made it past security or any enemy he might’ve angered off recently; he had too many of them to keep track.
He went for the spare wand he kept strapped on his right thigh and swiftly opened the door; he was not going to give whatever or whoever was there any chances to escape or attack. As ready Harry was to fight his intruder, nothing prepared him to find Ronald Weasley snoring away on the sofa Ginny had given him when he had been promoted. For a second, Harry aimed his wand at Ron but resisted the urge to hex him into St. Mungo’s. Instead he focused on taking several slow breaths to calm his nerves and rushing adrenaline.
Once his heartbeat had gone back to normal, Harry went back to the entrance to fetch for the briefcase he had left behind. He proceeded to walk to his desk and from his briefcase he extracted his quill, blank parchment paper and reports he still needed to read over and approve.
As Harry settled in to work he contemplated on how boring and slow his day would be. Then an idea struck him and a small smirk form on his face. He went to his small bookcase and picked the heaviest leather bound book Hermione had given him-what it was about, he wasn’t sure. Using his wand, he levitated the book to the coffee table by the sofa Ron was snoring from. Once Harry made sure that the book would land on the center, he levitated the book as high as the ceiling would let him and without thinking twice, he brought it down with force.
The ear splitting bang caused Ron to choke during mid-snore and spin so fast out of the sofa that he fell face first. It also resulted in a colleague sending Harry a somewhat snarky message later in the day about how he was disrupting other people and their very important work.
“Whazzat?” Ron asked as he scrambled to his feet, too groggy to fully function or know what was going on. Harry couldn’t contain himself and busted out laughing. For him, this was the perfect payback for last month when he had been the victim of a new line of Wizard Wheezes products. Ron and George had been sure to give some to Lily, James, Teddy and Albus with the promise to get a ninety percent discount on their next visit if they tried it out the new product on Harry. “What in the bloody hell was that for, Potter?!” Ron snarled as he straightened his robes.
“I’m sorry mate!” Harry said in between laughs. “No, wait. I’m not sorry. This was just too bloody easy to not do it. Besides, you gave me quite a fright just a few minutes ago. I really thought someone had broken into my office to rummage through my files. You know I don’t trust this place entirely, no matter how they keep saying that they’ve changed.”
Ron gave Harry a nasty glare before apologizing for coming into his office to sleep without sending an owl first. “You and Hermione have another row?”
Ron shook his head and settled on the sofa again. “Not really. Hermione was just a bit worried about Hugo and kept tossing about in bed and kept me up. He didn’t bother to show up to his grandmother's dinner last night even though he said he would. Speaking of my children, Rosie is finally finishing her internship in St. Mungo’s and should be well on her way to be a Mediwitch by the end of the year. Told us that there are a few Quidditch teams that want her as part of their team.”
“You must be proud!” Harry said. “However, aren’t you worried about Hugo?”
“Nah,” said Ron with a mid-yawn. “This isn’t the first time he’s done this. Remember how he disappeared one weekend after the classic match between the Armenian Junior Nationals and English Under-17.”
Harry remembered that weekend well for Teddy, James and Charlie, the ‘responsible’ adult in the group, had been with Hugo when they had disappeared. When they didn’t come back from the match, or the day after, Ginny was ready to send a whole platoon of Aurors on Harry’s behalf to find their son, godson and nephew. When they had turned up late that Sunday night, their smiles and laughs quickly disappeared the moment they saw Ginny, Molly and Hermione waiting for them at the door. “I honestly think that he had one too many, met a girl and lost his muggle mobile. Again. And those bloody devices are not cheap. He might also be afraid of coming home to face Hermione’s wrath.”
“Sounds possible,” Harry nodded. “I seem to recall that his father did that once or twice and was also afraid of his fiancé’s wrath.”
Before Ron could utter a word of defense the small portrait of a medieval knight Harry kept above the sofa gave them an overstated cough. Harry found this quite unusual as Sir Podmore was never in his portrait. He spent most of his time visiting other portraits because he found Harry quite dull. And his second portrait was rather unpleasant and restricting, or so Podmore had said. “Ah, Sir Podmore, how wonderful to see you back. Is there anything I can do for you?”
“Just so you know, Mr. Potter, earlier today I found myself busy playing cards with Sir Gawain and Sir Lancelot. I don’t know if you’ve heard of them but they’re rather important Knights of the Round Table.” Sir Podmore gave Harry a nasty look and continued. “I had a winning hand but all of the sudden I was whisked away by a silly muggle who asked to deliver a message as if I were a common owl. Now let me ask you this, Master Potter, do I look like an owl?”
Harry rolled his eyes and ignored the question. “What’s the message, Sir Podmore?”
“That muggle man wishes to meet with you and Weasley in Nottingham University Hospital as soon as you can.”
“Isn’t that where we met with Braxton last time?” Ron asked.
“Yes, it was to take a look at the tourist’s body. Alright, tell Braxton that we’ll be there err…” Harry had to stop and think. Ron and Harry could just apparate by the building and make it there within a few minutes but if Podmore was delivering the message that meant that Braxton was in his office. “Tell him that we’ll meet him at half past eight in front of the building.”
“After that message, am I allowed to go back to play cards with Sir Gawain and Lancelot or am I going to be treated like an owl all day?”
Harry rolled his eyes. “Fine, whatever. Just make sure you deliver that message to Braxton before you do anything else.”
Podmore gave them a very dramatic bow before disappearing past the frame.
A few years ago Harry had met and helped out William Braxton, one of London’s Detective Chief Inspectors. The case had been brutal on both their parts. One of the first tasks Harry and Ron had after graduating from the Training Academy was to capture any Death Eaters that had avoided punishment. It was then the two young Aurors began their hunt for one particular Death Eater: Antonin Dolohov. He had been one of the many Death Eaters who had managed to escape after the Battle of Hogwarts, and it had been Harry’s obsession to bring him to justice. He felt like he owed that much to his Godson, Teddy, and to finally bring some peace of mind to Andromeda.
After a few years of careful investigation, and many captured Death Eaters, Harry was finally able to bring Dolohov in front of the Wizengamot. A lifetime in Azkaban, however, didn’t seem enough for Harry for the damage the man had caused. The prison was not what it used to be when the Dementors had been in charge. They had a bed, three daily meals and no Dementor to suck the happiness out of the convicts. How was that man’s so called suffering compared to Andromeda’s or anyone who had been his victim?
Despite the lack of Dementors and the low numbers of Aurors working in Azkaban, the place did tend to have its share of problems such as beatings, murders, the constant riots, and once in awhile the breakouts. That’s how Antonin Dolohov and a few others had escaped; how they had survived the raging waters Harry didn’t know. The group had split up and while the others had been caught after a few months of freedom, Dolohov had stayed on the loose for almost a year.
While visiting Dudley and his family for the Holidays, Harry was watching the telly with little Marigold when the news anchor mentioned how a business man from Germany had been found dead in an alleyway, completely stripped from his clothes and more bizarrely, his hair had been cut in awkward angles. This had been, according to the anchor, the tenth victim found this way over the last year. Harry’s initial suspicion was that Dolohov was behind all of these muggle deaths. He needed to make sure first, not jump into any conclusions; something he was very guilty of doing in the past. So after leaving Dudley’s home, he decided to meet with the person in charge of investigating the murders: William Braxton.
The meeting hadn’t gone the way Harry had planned. Braxton, who was a few years older than Harry, was a bit hesitant to believe anything about magic, thought Harry was a nutter, and eventually had him escorted out by two officers. Harry had left fuming, but told himself that if there was another murder with the same M.O. he would visit Braxton again and this time use magic to help his cause.
So for three months Harry collected every possible muggle newspaper he could get his hands on. Finally, one March morning, while reading one of his newspapers over some tea, he found what he was looking for: the report of another victim. This time it was a Swiss tourist that had first been reported missing by his girlfriend more than a week before. Not much had been done about his disappearance until his body had been found behind a Chinese takeaway, stripped from his clothes and with missing patches of hair.
A strong hunch told him that this had to be the way Dolohov had avoided capture. He was disguising himself as the people he hated the most. So Harry marched to Braxton’s office and told him, with wand pointed at the DCI’s face, that he hated the thought of using magic on muggles, but if he had to in order to capture a criminal then so be it. Braxton, who was now under a lot of pressure from the Borough Operational Command Unit, had reluctantly allowed Harry to help.
After two months of partnership, Harry, Ron, Braxton and his partner, detective Miller, were able to find Dolohov, under the guise of the missing Swiss tourist. Before thinking of approaching him, Harry placed strong anti-apparition spells but when they tried to arrest Dolohov, he became frantic and tried to fight his way out. In the end, Dolohov had been killed by either a rogue spell or bullet to the head; both had hit him almost instantaneously that it was hard to identify which had made impact first.
After all reports had been filled out on both sides, Harry had been instructed to erase Miller’s and Braxton’s memory of everything regarding the Wizarding World. Harry, instead, gave Braxton a portrait of Sir Merek Podmore as a gift, something Ron was glad to get out of his cubicle. He instructed Braxtong that if anything out of the ordinary started to happen, things that he couldn’t quite explain in a report, to just let Podmore know and Harry would come to help.
It had been five years since Harry had given Braxton that portrait and hadn’t heard anything from the DCI. Until now. Something churned in Harry’s stomach. Was he excited at the prospect of breaking away from the monotony of his job? He could always send a team of the newest members to give them some training, like Hansen or Mayer, with an apology note but even that sounded absurd in his head. If Braxton was getting in touch with him, it meant that this was important and it needed Harry’s attention.
“Wonder what’s going on with Braxton,” Ron pondered as he checked his watch. “It seems we have about half an hour to meet with the blokes, fancy a cuppa before we leave?”
Harry nodded, trying to calm the excitement building up inside him.
By the time Harry arrived with Ron to the hospital, both Braxton and Miller were already there waiting for them. Harry gave the muggle policemen a firm handshake and asked them what was going on.
“Well, we found a body earlier today and found this with it.” Braxton handed them a clear plastic bag with the word EVIDENCE clearly printed at the top and just underneath it a form filled out about the crime scene and body.
“This is a wand,” Harry said when Braxton gave him the bag. He didn’t need to dwell much on the evidence; the carvings, the shape and the weight was enough to tell him that the body they had found was that of a witch or wizard.
“Can you guys wave your wands and figure out who the owner is?” Miller asked.
Harry shook his head, refraining himself from telling the young inspector that there was more to ‘waving the wand’ than he thought. “No, we can’t. But we can take it to the man who sold it to your victim. Either Julian Ollivander or his father can identify what type of wand this is, the date it was purchased and the owner.”
“You guys have a system for that?” Miller asked. “Thought you blokes said you didn’t have computers.”
“Err…its more like a very good memory,” Ron explained as he took the evidence bag from Harry to take a closer look himself. “The Ollivanders are fantastic wand makers in our country, in our world for that matter. They go through years of training when it comes to wandlore. Garrick Ollivander, the man who sold us our wands, is old and has retired from the public eye. He was never the same after the war so his son took over the business. If your victim is young, and if Julian is anything like his father, he’ll remember the person associated to every wand that he’s sold.”
“Blimey, that’s very impressive,” said Miller. “However, I don’t see how just the great memory of this Julian can be reliable when it comes to concrete evidence.”
“Are we here to look at the body?” Harry asked Braxton before Ron and Miller had a chance to argue. It wasn’t that Miller disliked Ron; it was the fact that he considered Magic to be very unpredictable and sometimes nonsensical to have. Thankfully wasn’t as bad as Petunia and Vernon and their attempts to bash magic and hating everything about it.
“Yes. Collett Scott, the coroner, asked a pathologist to do an intensive inquiry on the body. He’s waiting for us right now.”
“Best not keep him waiting, then.”
Braxton lead Harry and Ron through the somewhat familiar hospital. The air was cold enough that Harry was glad that he was still wearing his Auror cloak and was pleased that none of the nurses seemed to pay much attention to his or Ron’s attire. Harry was sure that they were used to seeing bizarre things in their line of work. Despite being muggle nurses and doctors, there was hardly any difference between their jobs here and those of the healers in St. Mungo’s; stupidity had hardly any bounds.
After what felt like an endless walk through every hallway, Harry and the group arrived at the morgue. The room had two large tables full of muggle equipment Harry had only seen during his early years in a muggle primary school. The equipment here, however, looked far more advanced than a primary school’s and definitely far more expensive. The microscopes were hooked up to computers; beakers were full of chemicals Harry couldn’t even dream of their names. There were machines that he was sure his father-in-law would love to get his hands on. All of this around him was a different kind of magic that Harry wished he knew a little bit more. Perhaps, if he were to retire soon, he would pick a muggle subject and study it to his heart’s content.
“Hello?” Miller called out.
A door at the end of the room opened and in walked a man with a big smile on his face; working in the morgue had apparently desensitized him from his grim surroundings. “Ah, if it isn’t Potter and Weasel.”
“Weasley,” Ron corrected Tobias Allen. Tobias was a young man to Harry’s standards. He had short mousy hair, big blue eyes and a nose too small for his face. He had been the pathologist’s assistant five years ago and had helped them out during the Dolohov investigation.
“Sorry, mate,” Tobias apologized. “It has been ages since I saw you two. I’m guessing Braxton brought you here for the body I got early this morning.”
“Indeed, that’s why we’re here,” said Harry.
“Follow me, gentlemen.” Tobias led them to the room he had just come from and gathered around a stainless steel table; a white sheet was covering the body from head to toe. “I was just finishing up with him the moment you walked in. Now, I’ll be keeping the body in positive temperature for a week, it’ll deteriorate but at a very slow rate. If after a week no one has come forth to claim the body, I’ll be putting him negative temperature until we can find his family.”
Everyone nodded in agreement.
“What can you tell us about the victim?” Braxton asked.
“Not much.” He uncovered the body and Harry was shocked to see how mangled, swollen and almost unrecognizable to a human face the poor guy had. “Male, early to mid-twenties. I ran a DNA and fingerprint inquire on him but nothing came up. Also did a toxic substance analysis report and it came back clean from any drugs. He died from multiple skull fractures and swelling of the brain. He might’ve survived if he had been brought to the hospital right away but even then his chances were slim.” Tobias sighed. “I feel bad for the poor sod. He must’ve angered someone real bad for them to do this ghastly number on him.
“Anyway, Will, I recommend running a missing persons report. See if anyone has reported a male who’s gone missing with long blond hair and blue eyes recently. If he hasn’t been missed by someone, they will pretty soon.”
“Any markings on him that it’ll make it easier?” asked Miller.
“Funny you should ask. Yes, he does. However it’s a weird one, perhaps a gang related tattoo.” He lifted the sheet from the other end and showed them the victim’s calves. He had a weird tattoo and could understand why muggles would think that it was gang related, only someone like Harry and Ron could recognized. It was a mark that their children had, a symbol they had created and linked them together. Harry wasn’t a big fan of that tattoo but their children were adults and far from him telling them what they can or can’t do. They explained that it stood as a symbol for those who fought and gave them a chance to live in better world. For Harry, however, was a painful reminder of those who had perished long ago and the burden he still carried with him.
“Reckon what that is,” Braxton mumbled as he inched closer to the right calf. “I have yet to encounter a gang with this bizarre design.”
“They’re runes,” answered Harry. He was met with blank stares and continued. “They’re numerical runes to be exact. The large rune above the small one is the number six while the smaller runes underneath represent a date: second of May, nineteen ninety eight. The tattoo just represents six people and a very important battle.” The tattoo was troubling, however, for only a handful of young people had it. He tried to remain calm but his brain was working double time to try and figure this out.
“What kind of battle was fought in the nineties?” Tobias asked.
“A very important one,” Harry answered but didn’t go into details. Harry looked up from the table and saw Ron, looking pale and frozen on the spot. “Ron, you alright mate?”
“This is Lorcan Scamander, mate. The blond hair, blue eyes, the tattoo...Only our kids, Neville’s and Luna’s have these tattoos and Lysander is away with Rolf.” Harry could feel Ron’s panic radiating from him. “Hugo said he was meeting up with him yesterday, but Hugo never came home.” Harry had to remain calm through Ron’s panic but his own mind continued to buzz. This was Luna’s boy, someone whom Harry had seen grow from an infant in his mother’s arms to an adult. He had given him presents, had babysat him. And Hugo…where was he?
Harry watched as Ron took a deep breath in and exhaled with what sounded like a sob. “If Lorcan is here, beaten to death, where is my boy, Harry?”
Major Marion Johnson had been woken up by an urgent call from Benjamin Hoffman and Samuel Frankford, the two trackers she had hired just yesterday to find the problem and eliminate it. According to Frankford, Scamander had found his way back to the Academy and was poking around when Hoffman had found him by mere chance and had knocked him out before Scamander realized that he had been spotted. Johnson couldn’t believe she had used a lot of the money to pay these fools when they had taken less than twenty-four hours to find him by mere chance.
Their instructions were clear: get rid of him. Frankford made sure that they had and that it wouldn’t be traced to anyone linked to the Academy, or so he said. The problem was that Scamander hadn’t been alone when he was at the Academy. Frankford had mention that if she wanted that problem to go away as well, she could pay them a little bit extra to get rid of the boy the same way as Scamander. Johnson had argued that with the money she paid them and how little ‘tracking’ they had done, she ought to get her money’s worth; a sick buy one get one free deal. Hoffman, who had been listening to the conversation, told her very tersely that the quota was for one boy. If she wanted the other one dead, then she ought to pay them a bit more.
She arrived at her destination and knocked on the door three times. She waited patiently and went over her speech inside her head. “Come in,” a voice inside the office said.
Johnson walked into Brigadier Mortlock going through some paperwork and without bothering to look up he said, “What do you want?”
“Sir, the problem has been eliminated.”
Mortlock looked up from his paperwork and gave her an inquisitive look. “Really? I have to say, I’m impressed Johnson.”
This was going to hurt her pride. The Brigadier was hard to impress and when he was, he rarely admitted to it. Now she had to tell him of the other problem they had and was sure that the small admiration the Brigadier had for her this instant was going to vanish.
“There is a small problem sir.” She had to rip this like a band aid. “Scamander wasn’t alone when they captured him; he was with a friend. Now Frankford and his mate want more money to get rid of him as well.
“Why are you coming to me for this, Johnson?” The admiration was gone and it had been replaced by annoyance.
“Because what they’re asking for is an outrageous amount, sir,” Johnson explained. “The money we paid those two was incredible to begin with and they didn’t put any effort behind it. The reason why I’m here sir is to ask you for your permission to send this young man to Cassandra.”
“What could Miss Cassandra want with this boy, Johnson?”
“Sir, Cassandra is in charge of something way beyond of what M.A.L is doing,” Johnson began to go over her practiced speech. “The Director is only focused on one thing only; Cassandra is the one that’s helping us achieve our goal. While the Director’s discoveries are always important, it’s Cassandra’s work that we have to support the most. With this boy she can test things on him, possibly find out what makes magical born children different from the synthetic ones we create.”
After a few moments of silence the Brigadier agreed to Johnson’s idea. However, with one condition, “Instruct Cassandra to make sure that the Director doesn’t catch whiff of that boy or of what we’re doing.”
“Her work is important, and if this boy is the key for us to achieve something greater as a human race and as nation, then so be it.”
Johnson felt the tension leave her body. And as soon as she was allowed to leave the Brigadier’s office, she took out her mobile and dialed.
“This is Cassandra,” a prim, all-business voice said on the other end of the line.
“I have a surprise for you.” A smirk form on Johnson’s lips and for the first time all day she felt like everything was going to be just fine.
Dun dun duuuuuuun!! At least Hugo is alive, right? However, the question is...what is going to happen to him? How is Luna going to react to the news? What's going to happen?! *evil laugh* I guess you're just gonna have to stick around for the next chapter! I hope to hear your thoughts about this! Any CC is welcomed. Thank you for reading.
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