Chapter 7 : Sorting Out the Problem
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"Dear Mr. Potter,
Thank you for your frank letter. I am so glad our girl has friends like you, who worry about her safety! I will be arriving in time for her Friday lesson with him, and we will arrange for me to observe unobserved. I will advise Graínne likewise. Will you be able, I hope, to attend the lesson as well?
Looking forward so much to meeting you,
Morag MacGonagal Cameron."
As he finished reading this, Graínne gave a stifled squawk. "My mom is coming!"
"Really? Is that allowed?" asked Parvati absently.
"It’s permissible for parents to visit the school," said Hermione automatically. "Malfoy was here a lot, a few years back, remember?"
"I thought that was because he was on the board of governors," Ron pointed out.
"Well, maybe, but I’m sure Mrs. Cameron will be welcome, since she’s an alumna. Friend of Dumbledore, too. Can you get out of lessons Friday to be with her?"
"I’ll have to check. Probably not, though." Graínne opened another scroll. "Wow, my brother Dave is coming, too," she said after a moment.
"Ooh, the one with the really broad shoulders?" giggled Lavender.
Harry felt an anxious weight in his stomach all week, especially when Graínne had a training session on Wednesday, late afternoon, and came in to supper favoring her right leg. In the middle of the meal, she decided to go to the hospital wing, because her knee hurt too much for her to eat. She was in the common room when they returned there, a huge supply of snack food on her study table, compliments of Dobby the house elf. Madam Pomfrey had sorted out her knee in a few minutes, and Dobby, who had been on hand helping in the infirmary, realized she was missing supper. Because she was a Gryffindor, and on the off chance she was a friend of Harry’s, he had brought food up to the common room for her.
Friday morning, as they were descending the marble stairs to breakfast, Mrs. Cameron came in the front doors with Hagrid.
It couldn’t be anyone else. She looked exactly like Graínne, except for a few lines and a little silver in the dark red curls. She was also a little shorter, if possible, and her body-type was more birdlike, where Graínne’s was vigorous and rather muscular. Graínne leaped down the stairs and almost knocked her over with a hug, her shriek of delight drawing the attention of everyone in the hall. Immediately she dragged her mother over to meet the Gryffindors, who were now reaching the bottom of the stairs.
"Everyone, this is my mom, Morag Cameron. This is Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Ginny Weasley, Dean Thomas, Lavender Brown, Parvati Patil, and Harry Potter."
Everyone was polite, and Morag Cameron was delighted with each of them, having to shake every hand and greet them by name. She looked clearly into Harry’s eyes and said, "At last we meet. How do you do, Mr. Potter?"
"Very well, Mrs. Cameron. I’m glad to meet you."
"Can you come sit with us, or do you have to check in with the principal?" said Graínne.
"I will sit with you, but I must greet Professor Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall first, as a matter of courtesy. Why don’t you come along with me, and then you can show me where you sit?"
"Same place Dad sat, Mom, nothing’s changed here!" she laughed, but she went arm in arm with her mother toward the head table.
"Wasn’t her mother a Gryffindor?" Hermione asked, watching them go.
"Hm? I am in awe, Hermione, how you pick up details like that," said Ron, sincere.
"I guess she wasn’t. We can ask her, I’m sure," Harry said thoughtfully. Morag Cameron had an unnerving gaze, as if she was looking to the very bottom of the soul.
They had a good time at breakfast that morning, yet for some reason or other, most people left the table early, to get to class or retrieve something forgotten. Then Morag Cameron turned to Harry and Graínne, with an air of getting to business. "Now. I’m here to see your session with Jahrho, but I don’t want him to know it. So Harry, I’m going to ride in on your shoulder."
"Beg your pardon, ma’am?"
"She’s an Animagus," said Graínne in a low voice.
"What about Davie?"
"He’ll be arriving shortly, and he plans to be in the room before the appointed time, so I need to know where the class is."
"I’ll show you on my way to Charms. Do you really think this cloak and dagger stuff is necessary?" Her brown furrowed.
"If he is intentionally hurting you, there is a good chance he’ll hold back if I show myself."
"You always sound so sure!"
"I’m not, I’m guessing," she laughed suddenly. "In any case, I intend to discredit him and sue his albino hide, but I want irrefutable evidence."
"What animal do you transform into?" Harry asked quietly, over the lump in his throat.
She looked at him kindly. "A sparrow," she answered, her voice soft. "I’ll ride in on your shoulder, which should be inconspicuous enough. Don’t worry, I’ll fly before I Transform, so I won’t squash you. My son Transforms into a cat. As I recall, there are wide window ledges in the classrooms, and he will sit on one of them and watch, and probably won’t be noticed at all."
"More evidence-gathering, independent witness, things like that?" asked Graínne.
"He’s not exactly an independent witness, is he, being your brother and my son. No, David believes he’s working here under an alias. He thinks he’s finally catching up with Whitey Purcell."
Graínne snorted. "Whitey Purcell wasn’t an albino, and he died in Cuba three years ago."
"Well, David wants to see for himself. And he has really good instincts for these things. He’s caught dead men before."
"What does David do?" Harry asked.
"His specific job is to hunt down the Most Wanted list," Graínne explained briefly. "And a number of people who have disappeared and are assumed dead. Only there’s good evidence that Purcell died in Cuba, and I don’t understand why Davie thinks he’s here, and why you wouldn’t have known him when you hired him as a trainer."
"It’s getting late, you can argue with David later."
They pointed out Room 17 to her, and had to run most of the way to Charms to get there before the door closed. Sliding breathlessly into their respective seats, Graínne resolutely did not look over and back at Harry, and pretended not to notice the knowing glances around them.
Harry was very nervous, and he didn’t know why. As he came into the entry hall, a little brown bird fluttered down from the chandelier and settled on his shoulder. Only the smallest chirp near his ear told him that she had alighted. Graínne came running up, glancing at her watch. "Good, a minute early. Shall we?" She led the way into the room.
"Harry Potter makes a second visit?" said Jahrho, coming toward them from the back of the room. "Are you interested in self-defense?"
"You could say that, yeah," said Harry neutrally, and sat down. He disliked this man intensely, and wanted to lash out at him. Self control, he told himself.
Meanwhile, Graínne had stripped out of her robes and uniform and shoes, and was stretching. She proceeded just as she had the last time Harry had watched her, and Jahrho behaved similarly, although it seemed that the intensity of his attacks had increased. After fifteen minutes, she had fallen five times, and had only landed three blows. The last one must have hurt him a lot, for he was suddenly enraged, throwing her down hard on her back. The sparrow flew from his shoulder, Transforming in the air. She landed on her feet, walking forward swiftly to where Jahrho was just cracking Graínne’s ribs, and with her bare hand, she knocked him hard to the ground without even touching him.
"I’ve seen enough," she said in a voice that made Harry very glad she wasn’t angry with him. She shimmered dangerously, as if magic was emanating from her pores. He rushed to Graínne where she lay on the mat as a great Abyssinian cat leapt lightly from the sill of one of the shuttered windows. It walked toward them, shifting into a rather tall, muscular man with the dark brown hair and blue eyes of most of Graínne’s brothers. Harry knew this was David, because of the pictures that had come in the mail regularly since the start of school. David pulled a wand out in a sleek movement, and ropes shot out and wrapped around the prone form of the albino.
"You are under arrest, Whitey," he said lazily, plucking Jahrho’s wand from a hidden pocket along his thigh.
"I--I don’t know what you mean," answered Jahrho, his sneer gone. "I am Ro Jahrho--"
"We can do this with Veritaserum," David interrupted, sounding annoyed. "We both know you’re Whitey Purcell, and you assumed the identity of a man who disappeared in Honduras. My research is indicating that you are responsible for his disappearance, too. Now, I am arresting you on a whole list of charges, and my family is going to sue you separately, so even if you do manage to get out from all these accusations, you’ll be incarcerated for a very long time, just for impersonating Ro Jahrho." He kicked the prone man a little, not too brutally, but not too gently, either, and squatted down beside him. "I’m going to have you sent to Cauldridge."
"Yep. I hear that Eddie Frankel runs the yard there. You and he are old friends, aren’t you? I heard yesterday that he’s between girlfriends at the moment. Maybe he’ll like you."
Dumbledore came in. "Ah, I see that matters are well under control. There is conveyance outside the door, David. Will you return for supper?"
"I’d be honored, sir." He turned and knelt beside Graínne, who was telling Harry she wanted to get up, but had not been able to do it yet. Harry was watching closely to make sure she didn’t even try. "Hey, Wart," he said tenderly. "Just sit still a minute. That was a bad one."
"Davie, is that really Whitey Purcell?"
"Yep. He’s a Metamorphmagus. Not many people know that, though. Look Graín, I’m sorry, I didn’t know until a few days ago that he was here. I would never have left you in his care for a moment if I’d known, and I would have stopped him before that last kick—"
"I know that," she said simply. "Go lock the bastard up, Dave, and come back and hang out for a while. This is a really cool place."
"You got it."
Dumbledore himself magicked a stretcher and levitated her onto it, and charged Harry with seeing her safely to the hospital wing. "I’ll visit you there in a few minutes, Graínne," he promised, and swept out of the door with David and Purcell.
"Would you like to, ma’am?" Harry deferred to Mrs. Cameron.
"No indeed, I would not dream of interfering with an order from Albus Dumbledore."
So Harry moved the stretcher himself, carefully up the stairs and off to the hospital.
Madam Pomfrey gave Morag a hug, and began fussing at Graínne immediately. "Whatever you are doing to acquire these repetitive injuries, you must stop it," she grumbled.
"She has," said Morag. "In a month, she’ll be old enough that we no longer have to worry about underage magic. No more defense lessons, darling."
"Thanks, Mom. I really hoovered at it."
"No, my understanding from your last teacher is that you are quite talented at it. But never mind that just now. We’ll sort it out later."
Madam Pomfrey fixed her ribs easily, and gave her bruises some attention, as well. Harry had to go to class before she was done, though, and therefore did not see her again until supper.
Her brother returned for supper, and her mother stayed as well, and they sat at the Gryffindor table on either side of her. Morag managed somehow to land Harry on her other side, and she chatted with him pleasantly throughout the entire meal. She asked about his home, his studies, his Quidditch, and answered questions about her own home, her family, her job description. By the end of the evening, they both felt they knew one another tolerably well. She said a fond goodnight to Graínne in the entry hall, and then she turned and gave Harry a hug, too.
"Thank you," she murmured, "for your letter. I am heartened to know that you two have found each other as friends."
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