Nicky delivers some news. The Prince brothers strike.
“There must be other ways to deal with him,” Gaius said.
“The Cruciatis curse would loosen his tongue.”
“It might also turn him into a babbling idiot. We need his mind.”
“I don’t like this. We can’t do anything without him?”
“He can’t do anything without us. It’s much safer than trusting another wizard.”
“Will the Unbreakable Vow even work for a Muggle?”
“I don’t know. Are you prepared to give the Vow and then break it?”
“I see your point.”
“Let’s see how his latest plan works before we decide.”
Jason scanned Nicky’s letter. It was only a few words, "Danger, need to meet, name time and place on west coast, Nicky."
At the bottom there were four digits which Jason recognized as the street address of the building in Seville where they had made contact. Was the letter a trap? So far as he knew, the C.I.A. did not know how to use the Owl Post and he had not mentioned Nicky by name to Harry or anyone else in the magical world.. If it was a trap, Hirsch must be behind it. He was the one person who might know about both Nicky and the wizarding world.
He decided to take a chance. Hiding was becoming more difficult. His invisibility cloak was showing dirt and his supply of Polyjuice potion was low. He had taken a chance and rented this room without disguising himself.
As Jason was pondering, there were footsteps in the corridor. Through the open window, he heard the sound of a rappel team on the roof. The owl was hooting nervously. He scribbled a reply. He would meet Nicky in San Francisco in five days time. He Disapparated just as the F.B.I. crashed through the door.
His plan for meeting Nicky was simple. He set up a meeting time on a moderately crowded shopping street. He would disguise himself with the last of his Polyjuice potion. Nicky was also a fugitive but the hunt for her was less intense. The magical authorities were unlikely to confront him in a crowd of Muggles.
Nicky was waiting at a bus stop at the agreed time. They exchanged passwords and began walking.
“First, I want to explain about last time,” Nicky said.
“I understand,” Jason replied.
“No you don’t. There are things I couldn’t tell you then. You’re in more danger than you know. There are wizards looking for you, powerful wizards who practice the worst kinds of Dark Magic.”
“Why couldn’t you tell me that before?”
“Nothing I could have told you would have helped. I knew that someone was after you, but that was all. I had no idea who it was or what they wanted you for. It was nothing but rumour and speculation. If I had talked to you longer, I couldn’t have told you anything useful and I might have put us both in more danger.”
Jason said nothing, but Nicky saw the look of mistrust in his face.
“Wizards have ways of getting inside your head,” Nicky continued. There’s a potion that can force you to speak the truth.”
“Like sodium pentothal?”
“Much more effective. It never fails. I was vulnerable. I can’t do magic so I would be easy to catch. The best way to protect you was to tell you nothing and ask you nothing. That way, they couldn’t force anything out of me. I was lucky that the guard who caught you liked me. He didn’t say anything about you to anyone.”
“What happened to change your mind?”
“I learned more. The men who are after you are the Prince brothers. Their names are Gaius and Tiberius. They’re rich and they have powerful friends. There are a lot of rumours about them practising Dark Magic. Anyway, I found out that they have an interest in the casino where I work. One day they were on the gaming floor and I recognized one of them.”
“Treadstone. I had seen him talking to Hirsch. He was never introduced to me and I never asked questions. I can’t figure out how someone like Hirsch got involved with wizards.”
Jason remained impassive. Nicky had not told him anything he did not already know.
“You knew about Hirsch?” Nicky asked.
“My friends in England found the connection. They think that the Princes had him under the Imperius curse.”
“It wasn’t like that. Hirsch and Prince were arguing. I don't know what they were saying but Hirsch was definitely not acting like someone who was under a curse."
"What made you decide to run?"
"One of my friends at the casino, another Squib, overheard the Prince brothers talking to the manager. They said that they needed me for something and that I wouldn't be back. The boss didn't want to go along, he said that he needed good dealers and it would be bad for staff morale if I just disappeared. The brothers got very angry. They said that they needed me and if the manager didn't cooperate, he would pay. I left the same day."
“So what can I do?”
“Find Hirsch and clear your name.”
“Any idea where he is?”
“Probably Zurich. He keeps an apartment there.”
“He’d never go there. The CIA must know the address. They’d pick him up in a few days.”
“Not if the Prince brothers are protecting him. They could cast charms around the apartment.”
“It still sounds too risky for Hirsch. Why wouldn't the Prince brothers keep him with them?”
"Too risky for them. Muggles aren't allowed in magical areas without special permission. Besides, from what I know of Hirsch he wouldn't want to be hidden where he was a virtual prisoner. "
They had crossed the street and were in the middle of the block when Jason sensed something was wrong. It was mid-afternoon and yet the street seemed deserted. No cars were passing. The shops were open but the few shoppers were all rushing away as though they were late for some important meeting. It was as though the whole street were under a spell.
There was a loud crack and the Prince brothers appeared in front of them. Tiberius pointed his wand at Nicky and began to say, "Petrificatus Tot ...."
Tiberius discovered first hand one of the reasons wizards had separated themselves from the Muggle world – firearms. It took about two seconds for Tiberius to point his wand and repeat the spell incantation. It took only a fraction of that time for Nicky to draw her automatic and fire. Tiberius went down and Nicky ran.
Jason held Gaius Prince off with a shield charm. When Gaius heard the shot he put up his own shield charm and went to help his wounded brother. The Prince Brothers Apparated away and Jason followed Nicky.
“Where to now?”
“I’ve been staying with a cousin. I can use her Floo network connection if you’ll start the fire for me.”
“Can I use it too?”
“No. The Department of Magic monitors the Floo. You could get caught.”
“I’ll just Apparate away.”
“You can’t Apparate from the house. My cousin put a protective charm around it. You’ll have to go to a park at the end of the street.”
They found the house and Nicky got away. Jason closed his ears so he could not hear where she was going. The park was nearly deserted. Two elderly women were sitting on a bench knitting. A young man was lying on the grass. There were some bushes near the entrance that would conceal Jason while he Disapparated. He concentrated his mind on his destination and felt the crushing sensation. Suddenly the pressure eased and he saw that he was right back where he started. The protective charm must extend this far, he thought. He would walk to the other end of the park and try again.
As he passed the elderly women, he noticed something strange about their knitting needles. One needle looked ordinary, but the other was thicker and made of wood. The women had stopped knitting and were pointing the wooden needles at him. Two non-verbal stunning spells hit him before he realized what was happening.
Harry read of Jason’s capture in the daily prophet. All he learned that was three agents of the Magical Bureau of Investigation, acting on an anonymous tip, had tracked him to San Francisco. Harry made an international fire-call to Kendrick Coppernoll to find out more.
“I just wanted to congratulate you and your team, sir,” Harry said.
“Thank you, Potter, we appreciated your help.”
“Has Bones confessed?”
“No. All he’s said is that if we want to find Hirsch, we should look in Zurich. That’s nonsense. There’s no way Hirsch could have got past the Muggle security.”
Harry was not so sure. He travelled to Switzerland and began a tour of the antiquarian book dealers. Hirsch would need money and would probably be trying to sell the two alchemy texts he had bought from Tom Riddle. At the fifth shop he visited he was successful.
"Ah yes, the Hortulus Hermeticus. An American gentlemen brought a copy in to be appraised last week. I believe he may still be in Zurich"
"What's his address?"
"We never give out that information," the shop owner replied indignantly. "If you wish to meet with him, I may be able to arrange an appointment."
Dr. Hirsch had other visitors that day.
“If you don’t give us what we need now the whole plan will be ruined,” Tiberius said.
“No. Our deal remains the same. I will teach one of you the spells on a need to know basis. Once you use it, you will wipe it from your memory,” Hirsch replied calmly. “It’s worked very well so far. That interfering fool Potter might have landed you both in jail.”
“We can’t continue like this.Things are happening too fast. We can’t keep running back to you every time one of your plans goes wrong.”
“My last plan didn’t work because you were no match for a Squib and a half-trained wizard. Now I am going to have to put myself at risk to clean up your mess.”
The Prince brothers looked at each other. “We will make the Unbreakable Vow,” Gaius said.
“Very well. Who will go first?”
Tiberius held his wand as Gaius made the vow.
“I Gaius Prince, vow on the pledge of my life that I will keep faith with Albert Hirsch, protect him from harm, provide for his needs ....”
Harry received a message at his hotel room that Hirsch would meet him at the bookstore the next day.
"Hello," Harry began, "my name is ...."
"Harry Potter and you are an Auror with the British Ministry of Magic," Hirsch continued. "Celebrities with distinctive facial scars do not make good covert agents.".
"Alright, I won't play games,” Harry said. They'll be a lot less trouble for you if you just tell me what I need to know."
“There will be no trouble at all,” Hirsch replied calmly. “You can do nothing. You are a foreign agent out of your jurisdiction. I have broken no magical laws in this country. You, on the other hand, could be charged with a violation of the International Statute of Secrecy if you continue this conversation.”
“What about your own people? They’re looking for you too. You're wanted on murder charges.”
“If they did find me, I could drag out the extradition process for years. I doubt they would even try. The CIA does not want to expose its dirty secrets in a foreign court.”
“I thought that your lot didn’t bother with stuff like that. They could just grab you or shoot you.”
“That would defeat their purpose. My trial was to be a show trial – a public demonstration that the CIA has cleaned up its act. My kidnapping or murder would tell the world that it's still business as usual. "
"Why did you agree to see me?"
"You wanted to see me and it suits my purposes to be seen. I'm leaving now. I will not be as easy to find next time”
Hirsch left the shop. Harry did not try to follow. He had what he needed. The hidden camera pictures and Pensieve memory of their meeting would be enough to secure Jason’s release. When Harry arrived in Washington, Jason was already out of the cells and in the waiting area of the M.B.I. offices. The Prince brothers were standing beside him. Jason had a chain around his neck with a single dog-tag on it.
“Hello, Jason, I’ve come to escort you home,” Harry said.
“Mr. Bones does not need to be escorted anywhere,” Tiberius said. “He is free to come and go as he chooses and he has chosen to come with us.”
Jason nodded his head and followed the Prince brothers to the door.
“Stop them,” Harry shouted. “Can’t you see they’ve taken over his mind. That thing he’s wearing is a horocrux.”
Two guards approached Harry with their wands drawn.
“That’s enough of your nonsense,” Kendrick Coppernoll said. “The Prince brothers have agreed to take care of Mr. Bones and keep him out of trouble, something your lot didn’t manage very well.”