A/N: I know I told Starboy54 that the attack on the Granger home would be the only one gone into, but for the sake of the plot (which seems to have grown without my watering it) I’ve had to put in some others. I will try to keep those scenes as non-graphic as possible, but there will be some disturbing images here. Please understand, this sequence was abhorrent to me, so if you don’t want to read it, I will preface and follow that section with:
PART 20: SKULLDUGGERY
During the month of November, Harry began to show Hermione that having an intellectual equal was not a bad thing. It was in fact, a way to challenge herself to do better…without hurting other peoples’ feelings. He showed her that her overachieving nature and her tendency to show off, would cause trouble in the years to come and it was better to accept other people’s triumphs with a smile, instead of trying to overtly out-do them. He also taught her how use the calm she attained in her meditations to allow the harsh stupidities of the other children, slide off her back.
In the event neither of those ploys proved to be sufficient, he told her he would teach her how to defend herself…aggressively…in the event of attack. The Tai Chi she’d been learning would be an important part of that process.
Judith watched many times as the black haired wizard taught her baby the in’s and out’s of magic, of mathematics, of art and music, which she learned he enjoyed immensely, and of course, the Tai Chi and even the Judo. She’d been into Tai Chi as a college student, as it was quite popular with the ‘organic crowd’, but had fallen away from the practice after she and Mack had begin to create their business. When Hermione had come along, she’d had even less time to spare, and so her skills had faded away.
Now, she would join in on their classes more often than not. On the days that Mack was home and she attended to the surgery, he’d follow his own exercise programme, which was, truth be told, considerably more…intense than hers.
Although he felt it was a little too soon, on a Friday afternoon in mid-November, Harry began to teach her Judo, which he considered a stepping-stone to the more aggressive art of Aikido.
Harry had invited Hermione and Judith over to his house, advising the six year old to dress in sweats. He wore a heavy white cotton gi with a black canvas belt around his waist. Now they were standing on a thick mat in the unused formal dining room. The designers of the huge Georgian would have been appalled at the use to which the grand room was now being put, but truth be told, the only other place suitable for such a demonstration would have been ‘the book cave’ and he wasn’t quite ready to introduce her to the My Little just yet.
Remus and Judith were sitting at a small table in the corner, chatting and sipping their tea. Remus was dressed like Harry, in a white gi with a belt, although while Harry’s belt was black, Remus wore blue.
“The first thing I’m going to teach you is how to fall.”
“Fall?” Hermione was suddenly frightened. She’d fallen…or more to the point, been knocked down, more times than she could count, and it always hurt.
“Without hurting yourself.”
Now, Hermione was intrigued. Was that even possible?
Harry went on to explain. “The best way to not get hurt in a fall is by not falling, however, we both know that that’s not always practical. So, here, I’m gonna teach you to take a hit, take a fall and be ready to return the favor. Judo is called ‘the peaceful solution’ or sometimes ‘the gentle way’, but it can be just as debilitating to your opponent as Karate…if you know what you’re doing. With that in mind, I’m going to teach you the two basic methods of avoiding injury in a fall. First is the mat-slap.”
Harry carefully explained the mat-slap, and how it could be used to dispel the kinetic energy of a fall, rather than allowing the body to absorb it. “This is especially good in the event someone trips you up.”
Hermione winced in remembered pain.
Harry saw, and with a smile, demonstrated his idea, by falling backward, throwing his hand out and slapping the mat…hard! The crack of flesh meeting canvas echoed throughout the room, but Harry stood immediately. Hermione was stunned.
“Remus stood and walked over.
“A simple over the shoulder throw, if you please.”
Nodding, Remus positioned himself. Then spun, grasping Harry’s arm, turning his body and crouching so Harry was forced over his shoulder. Harry flew over the larger man and as he was about to strike the mat, he slapped it again. As before, the crack of hand meeting mat resounded. He got to his feet easily.
“Now, just so you don’t get cocky…” Harry whirled in and returned the favor. Remus, taken by surprise, flew over Harry’s back and only barely managed to slap the mat. He got up a bit more slowly than his young opponent had.
They traded throws for a few minutes, both slapping as they hit, to show Hermione it didn’t really hurt. Soon enough, she wanted to try.
Her first attempt was, as it usually is, a disaster. She had the idea and the technique, but not the muscle memory. She lay on the mat with a sore shoulder and wanted to cry.
Harry refused to let her. Instead, he gripped her hand and hauled her up. A palm on her shoulder took the ache away and he said: “It’s gonna go that way until you learn how. Please, Hermione, don’t let one failure keep you from learning.”
Her eyes flashed. Hermione was if nothing else a devout student. Nothing had ever kept her from learning before and she vowed nothing ever would. Harry smiled proudly. He showed her again, and had her practice. By her third time, Hermione had successfully slapped the mat. She stood up her grin splitting her face in half.
“Good job.” He grinned proudly and then stepped back.
“Now we do it again.”
“And again, and again, and again, until it is so ingrained, it becomes automatic. If you keep at it, by this time next week, you’ll never be hurt by a trip or push again.”
Soon enough she’d progressed from merely throwing herself backward, to him throwing her. Judith wanted to put an end to this, but she understood that this training, as bad as it felt to her, would protect her baby in ways she could not. Still, she clenched her hands, her nails digging into her palms each time Harry tossed Hermione over his shoulder. She did note that he crouched as low as he could, so the fall wasn’t too bad.
A half hour later, he called a stop to their practice. “It’s time for a break. He went to the kitchen and returned with a tray bearing two glasses of milk and a tin of shortbread biscuits. Judith glared at the biscuits like they were going to single handedly destroy her daughter’s teeth, but grudgingly nodded her okay. She held up two fingers, and Harry and Hermione grabbed two biscuits each and plunked themselves down on the mat to munch. Remus snickered, and then as the kids were resting, explained why magical folk had never needed dental attention.
After a rest, Harry rose again. Hermione was just a bit achy, but stood alongside him.
“We’ll be practicing the mat-slap for the rest of the week, but now I’m going to teach you how to recover from the fall, without it.”
“What do you mean?”
“We’ve been using the slap to dispel the kinetic energy of the fall.”
“Well, instead of just dispelling the energy, you can use it to recover. Effectively you redirect the energy from the fall, into motion, in a different direction.”
Hermione was still unsure.
“You remember your classes in infant school where they taught you to tumble?”
“Yeah!” Hermione grinned. That had been one of her favorite things to do as a little girl. She’d tumbled all over the place…at school, at home, at the park. In fact, she’d gotten on her parent’s nerves more than once by tumbling through the lounge in the evenings.
“Well, now, we’re gonna use the fall to power the tumble and end up back on our feet.”
Harry showed her how to fall and roll to a stand, and then, as before, asked Remus to help. Again, the over the shoulder toss but this time, instead of slapping the mat, Harry took the impact on his shoulder, curled his body and in one smooth movement, rolled to his feet.
“Remember, down, does not mean out!”
Because Hermione was already familiar with tumbling, it didn’t take her nearly as long to learn the technique. Within minutes she was rolling to her feet, and the she and Harry began a competition to see who could to it the most.
Remus was getting a workout tossing both children. Judith, calmed now, knowing her baby was in no real danger, just watched and chuckled at their antics.
It was a good thing that this was a Friday, because by the time five o’clock rolled around, Hermione was getting ready to sleep. Judith suspected she’d sleep in late tomorrow.
While Lucius Malfoy had been less than active in the Ministry since that…witch Bones had taken control, he had most certainly not abandoned his plans. Making certain he was not observed, he made his way into the Department of Public Records, where he spoke to a few people he knew of a ‘proper mindset’, and with their assistance, carefully correlated the names he’d gotten from the student intake book at Hogwarts, with the ministry records that showed the locations of all the mudbloods born in Britain.
Returning to Malfoy Manor, he made his plans and arranged suitable places where his fellows would be seen in public at the same general time as the…culling…of the filth. It was a risk using his own funds to such a…project; however, he felt the risk worth the reward. The mudbloods would be eliminated, and as the only sources of information on their names and locations would be the Ministry and Hogwarts, both Bones and Dumbledore would be left the blame.
In late November, after several students had learnt to their cost, that attacking either Hermione or Harry was a really bad idea, he invited them to study with them. When someone asked why, he said; “Your education is your future. If you want to do anything of significance, you have to have the smarts…like Hermione; but more importantly, if you want to be taken seriously, you need the marks, and those marks have to be better than merely ‘good’. They have to be exceptional! You all have the potential, or you wouldn’t have been accepted to this school. It is a school for gifted students after all. But if you’re doing just enough to squeak by, then you shouldn’t be here, taking up a seat that could go to someone who really wants to improve themselves. So now’s the time to make a decision. What are you? A leader…or a drone?”
With the exception of a very few, those few who’d had their collective arses handed to them, the students accepted Harry’s offer and by the end of the month, due to the much-improved marks the others had shown, even those hold-outs had joined up. Harry’s only rule was ‘No Bullying!’ He’d had to enforce that rule a few times, demonstrating that although he was small, he was most capable of taking care of himself. Two students who refused to learn ended up transferring to another school…in Crowley. When she discovered the missing students, Hermione cast a gimlet eye on Harry, wondering if he’d had anything to do with the sudden exodus, but he refused to say a word.
From then on, Harry’s house, or sometimes the Granger’s home, would be filled after school, with excited voices learning about this subject or that. Remus was completely in his element, as he’d taught many times in his past, Judith was no slouch in that arena either, and Sirius found a few fellow pranksters to corrupt. Harry had to ride hard on him to ensure he didn’t go too far…and to tailor his instruction to the purely mundane.
As a result…a result Harry would come to regret in later years, Sirius picked up on many pranks that were equally impressive as his own…but could not be detected by magic.
While it wasn’t what he’d originally planned, Harry decided it was time to begin to train up the next generation of leaders. Perhaps, this way, the future would grow into a harmonious whole…without the stagnation that had defined the life he’d lived.
By the time term ended their teachers were astounded, as all the student’s grades had improved markedly! More, they were acting as a single unit, each supporting the others as best he or she could. They could tell these children were going to blow the bell-curve for certain!
On the evening of November thirtieth, a well-shielded Harry, walked through the tunnel from Honeydukes to Hogwarts. As he passed the wards, he felt Hogwarts welcome him home. He smiled, and sent back his own greetings. He was certain the sentient castle was shocked.
Once in the castle he left the third floor and headed for the Room of Requirements.
On the fourth floor he found Peeves tampering with a bathroom doorknob. The poltergeist was trying to unscrew the knob so it would come off in the user’s hand. Secretly Harry agreed that would be kind of funny…especially if someone really had to go!
Peeves noticed him and began to sing out loud about how Harry was going to get caught, when Harry focused his magic into his hand and grabbed the annoying spirit by the throat.
Peeves struggled but he was well and truly trapped. “As you can clearly see, Peeves, I can touch you. Would you like me to stuff you into a wall and anchor you there for the next hundred years?”
Peeves shook his head rapidly. This ickle child frightened him…badly!
Harry released the poltergeist and growled: “Go - bother - Snape.”
Peeves was gone so fast, Harry was surprised there wasn’t a lingering cloud of dust.
He reached the seventh floor with no other interruptions. There, he paced back and forth thinking strongly of the place where things were hidden.
Inside, was the accumulated junk of centuries. He decided that one day he and Hermione would sift through this collection, eliminate the trash and sell the rest to benefit the school. After all, how much was a Comet five, in decent condition, worth to a collector?
He laid the antique broom on a pile and headed toward the piles of junk in the distance.
There it was. He collected the tiara and walked out the door, only to find himself face to face with the grey lady.
“You do not belong here.”
“No, I don’t…and yes, I do. I am from this place, but not from this time…not entirely anyway.”
“I do not understand.”
“Like Merlin, I can travel through time. By the way, your mother told me to tell you, she forgave you long ago. Your actions were thoughtless, yes, but they were the acts of an envious child. What mother cannot forgive a daughter a few petty crimes?”
Helena’s face crumpled, and a tear rolled down her cheek. Harry focused his magic into his fingers one more, reached out and gently brushed it away. Now, she gaped in astonishment. She’d felt that!
Harry felt someone approach. He stepped back into the room’s doorway to avoid being seen. It wasn’t necessary. The Bloody Baron, stood beside Helena Ravenclaw, offering what compassion he could. Noticing Harry, he bowed and said: “Your words were a comfort to Lady Ravenclaw, m’lord.
“My Lord Baron…” Harry returned the bow. “I only spoke truth. Neither you, nor Lady Helena should castigate yourselves for a thousand years and more, because of a foolish mistake made in your youth…or in your case, made in a temper. You have both acquitted yourselves well, and when you are ready to cross over, there will be a place waiting for you.” Harry knew he shouldn’t have made that promise, but he felt they deserved it.
Harry held up the bag and said: “I must be off. I have business to attend.”
“And what would you do with the diadem?” Helena asked
“I must take it to the ritual chamber at Gringotts.”
“The diadem must not leave Hogwarts. ‘Tis far too dangerous.” She insisted.
“Lady Helena, I am well aware of what Tom Riddle did to the diadem. That’s why I must bring it to Gringotts. They can cleanse it without destroying it, though I am not certain its mythical ability will remain. In either case, the soul fragment must be removed and sent on. After this is over, I will return the diadem to Hogwarts. My oath on my honor, magic and life.”
A flare of silvery light flashed from Harry to each of the two ghosts before returning to him.
“Aaah crap! I shouldn’t have done that!”
“Whyever not? I can see with my own eyes, that you are an honorable man, with a good and generous heart.”
“I hope so, but that is not the problem. You see, Dumbledore will come running to investigate the magic I just released, and I cannot allow him to see me…not just yet. I must heigh away.”
“Then go in peace and we shall, as the youth of these times are wont to say, ‘cover you’.” The baron intoned solemnly, before a thin smile graced his lips.
Harry laughed out loud and he faded from view. Before he left he added: “By the way My Lord Baron, if perchance, you should find yourself with an opportunity, kindly use your sword to complete the job of removing Sir Nicholas’s head, if you will. He does so wish to join the headless hunt.”
“I shall, m’lord.”
“I thank you, Sir. And now, I truly must away, for I feel the headmaster’s approach.”
Harry disillusioned himself and darted down the stairs.
Sure enough, minutes later, Albus Dumbledore stumbled into the corridor to find the Baron and the Grey Lady chatting quietly and watching through a window as the snow outside fell to softly blanket the grounds. They turned as he made his presence known.
“My Lord Baron, My lady, have you seen anyone hereabouts? I felt a most peculiar, and yet, somehow familiar magic just now, and would like to determine its cause.”
“Alas, dear Headmaster, we only arrived a few short moments ago.” Helena replied. It was true after all, depending upon one’s definition of the word ‘few’.
“I see. Well then, I thank you and I bid you a good evening.”
By that time, Harry was in the tunnel to Hogsmeade. He thought he felt the castle’s magic…laughing.
The next morning, Harry delivered the tiara to Graswold, who muttered. “While I know we will make a tidy profit from the advanced knowledge you have provided, I do wish I’d seen these before agreeing to your demands. The chalice, signet, locket and now this, are each worth a small fortune…a larger one if the right buyers can be found.”
Looking at Harry’s flat stare, he added: “Yes, I know they belong to Hogwarts, but still…”
“Don’t worry, Graswold.” Harry smiled. “There will be gold enough for everyone.”
Graswold chuckled wryly. “Aah, Harry, that in itself proves you are no goblin. There is no such thing as enough gold!”
Harry laughed loudly.
After seeing the soul fragment removed from the tiara and placed in the high security vault, Harry took the tiara and popped back to the My Little.
On December second, Amelia Bones sat at her desk, and fixed her tea. Tootles refused to allow anybody else, human or elf, to serve her mistress’ food, for she knew poisoning was an oft-used method to eliminate a rival. Amelia was rather relieved as well, knowing that at least in this, she was safe. She opened the paper to the front page to find;
FORMER CHIEF OF THE WIZENGAMOT PUSHES THROUGH LAWS PROHIBITING INTERACTION WITH MUGGLES!
Dear readers, writes Rita Skeeter, special correspondent to The Daily Prophet…It has come to this lovely and well-dressed purveyor of truth’s attention that while no longer in his capacity of Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, Albus Dumbledore has been pressing through many laws that make any kind of interaction with the muggles not only undesirable, but actually illegal! Why would the former head of the council do such a thing? Dumbledore knows full well that we depend upon the muggles so very much for the basic necessities of life. Does anyone of us think we produce our own food…our own wines…our own materials for clothing? For trade? No indeed! Muggles produce those items without knowing where they are bound. The sad fact is that without the muggles, the vast majority of us would starve…
Amelia sighed as she read the Prophet. While the article was clearly a fishing expedition, Rita Skeeter knew her business. These new laws were especially troubling. With Dumbledore’s ouster in June, she thought he’d gone to regroup. Instead, he appeared to have been working behind the scenes.
She snorted in self-castigation. ~What else is new?~
Dumbledore’s reasoning seemed to be that the wizarding traditions so deeply held, would be in danger of extinction if they interacted with the muggles…something many other purebloods agreed with. Amelia knew better. Several of her closest friends and allies were half-bloods, and had these offensive laws been around some twenty or so years before, especially in conjunction with Voldemort’s views, none of the mugglebornes she’d met would have been allowed to attend any of the magical schools in Britain. While according to the unspoken words behind these laws, Dumbledore clearly disagreed; she felt that that would be a horrible tragedy. Especially given that one of those muggleborns had been the mother of the child who’d destroyed said dark lord.
She penned out a note to her staff. She wanted all the laws Dumbledore had written over the past fifty years, to be looked over very carefully for such biases and inequities. If they found them, those laws could come under review and eventually be rewritten or eliminated entirely.
In Scotland, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore felt a frisson of unease race up his spine.
On the tenth of December, Lucius was ready. Using Parkinson as go-between, he once again called his ‘associates’ to the Redoubt. When he arrived, he quickly hid hisn irritation. There were fewer men present than there had been before. Nevertheless, he spoke with the authority he’d long before grown used to wielding.
“The time has come to begin to cull the animals. I have selected the first group of mudbloods to die. Now, there are twenty-seven of us. Each group of five will take a separate target.” He of course, would remain behind, as a General must. He would never risk himself in such an endeavour. The chances of being detected were far too great, and he knew that if he were discovered in any fashion, even his reputation would not protect him.
He gave his troops their orders. “Kill the mudbloods and the filth that spawned them, but remember, you must keep the extra…‘pleasures’ to a minimum. We must be most cautious, as our position is not nearly so strong as it was before. If we do anything to point to the dark lord’s followers, that…blood traitor…in the Minister’s office” He spat. “…will undoubtedly find…or invent, a way to trace the carnage to us. If tonight goes as I expect it will, we will go out again the day after tomorrow.”
The ‘former’ Death Eaters all nodded in anticipation of some muggle slaughter. They understood that they would have to curb their…appetites, in order to remain hidden from Bones.
Some of them, however, decided otherwise.
In a small hamlet in Leeds, a family of five, were forced from their beds and into the lounge, to find men in black robes and white masks in their home. The father, a retired soldier, darted to one side for a weapon to use. It served him naught.
“Avada Kedavra!” rang out and he fell dead. Screams followed as each of the remaining four were murdered, one by one. Stepping outside, the home, the Death Eaters congratulated themselves on a job well done, and apparated away to their next target, leaving a house filled with death.
Fortunately, their next target, a family named Creevey was on holiday and wouldn’t return until after Christmas.
In Ilfracombe, it wasn’t nearly as clean. Johann Mulciber was a man who liked his ‘pleasures’…the younger, the better; and he wasn’t particularly concerned about the clean-up. His compatriots were all of a like mind. They left the floor of the small house in Trimstone soaking in freshly spilled blood. He and his fellows apparated away, laughing and jesting with each other. They all reveled in the sounds of the woman and three girls screaming as they raped them, pleading for mercy…and then the shrieks of agony as he and his friends gutted them. The fading moans as they bled out their life’s blood onto the hard wooden floor.
They reappeared in Knockturn Alley and entered the Snake and Crow for a few well-earned drinks. The next day they would report to Lucius that they’d slaughtered the mudblood and the family that had produced her. They were certain the master would have been proud of them.
Thorfin Rowle and his twin Thorvald were easily some of the dark lord’s largest and most imposing Death Eaters, not only in size, but also in character, and their lust for blood was eclipsed only by the psychotic berserker called Fenrir Greyback…and then only by degrees. Their names were spoken with the same bone-freezing terror as that of Bellatrix Lestrange…and the dark lord himself! None whom they’d ever targeted had lived to tell the tale…in fact, those unlucky people, had died most agonizing deaths. The Rowle brothers were rather ‘inventive’ after all. However, tales did exist. There were always witnesses…their fellow Death Eaters, in fact; and so, the stories spread…and grew more brutal with each telling. The Rowle’s methods were so barbaric; they were often used at initiations as examples of how to properly deal with anyone who dared to disagree with the master.
On this particular evening they were participating in a little mudblood slaughter in Southampton. Four girls, a boy of seven months a mother and a father were all at their mercy. When Arkash picked up one of the little girls, her father somehow fought off the immobilising hex and surged to his feet, snarling; “You keep your filthy hands off her, bastard!”
Those words were the last he’d ever utter. Thorfin cast a spell that created a huge wooden javelin to soar through the air and impale the man, literally pinning him to the wall like an insect. The Rowle brothers took pleasure in killing the children first, driving the woman to catatonia. At the end, seeing as how they’d get no other response from her, they cast the killing curse and leaving her body where she lay, departed the house…just as the police arrived. The screams they’d allowed to escape the home had alerted the neighbors, who in turn, had contacted the police. The special antiterrorist team scrambled from their van, weapons out and aimed.
Of course, the Death Eaters all lifted their wands and shouted; “Avada Kedavra!” Three of the seven policemen fell, the other four, returned fire, killing all five of the black-clad terrorists.
Unfortunately due to the complicity of an Auror, these dead men would be left unidentified for several days.
Over the next few days, these scenes of rapine would be repeated.
Due to Malfoy’s interference, the dark detectors at the ministry never alerted the Aurors to anything out of the ordinary. While a pureblood, the clerk he’d killed was of no import to him. He left her body where it was, and sealed the door with blood-based runes.
Harry lifted an eyebrow as he read of the slayings in The London Times. As the reporter, one Jeremy Wight, said, it was like a return to the unsolved crimes of the decade past.
He wondered which of the Death Eaters had gone into business for himself. “Remus?”
“I see it.”
“None. It could be any of them.”
“Problem is…” Sirius interjected. “They’ll all vouch for each other.”
“What do we do?”
Harry thought for a while, then stood and clapped his hands. “According to this…” he lifted the newspaper. “…there were five men shot in Southampton. I want one of you to contact Bones. Ask her to see if she’s heard of any ‘former’ Deez who might’ve gone missing in the last two days. If there are, maybe we’ll get a toehold.”
“Worth a shot.”
“In the meantime…” Harry added; “I’m gonna go and check the wards. I wonder if I can get away with lethal wards attuned to the dark mark.”
“Harry!” Sirius exclaimed. “Would you really kill them?”
Harry’s look of derision was as eloquent as anything ether Marauder had ever heard. As he left the room to get ready for school, he heard Sirius breathe; “OK! Stupid question.” To which Remus chuckled; “You think?”
Sirius finished his breakfast dressed and apparated away. Remus would drive the kids to school.
Within a half hour, Sirius had made his way through the Ministry building to Amelia Bones’ office.
The Minister received her old friend with a smile. “Sirius! How are you?” She stepped forward, her hands outstretched. Sirius Black, playboy extraordinaire hugged the one woman who had never fallen for his charms, yet remained his friend and sometimes co-conspirator anyway.
“Hello Meely.” Sirius returned.
“Care for some tea?” She swept her hand toward the large desk in her office.
They sat and Tootles appeared with her ubiquitous tea tray. Seeing Sirius, she chided: “Moppet has been gone too long. Missy Suzy is missing her badly!”
“I’ll ask her to pop ‘round, then…” He turned his eyes to Amelia. “If it’s not too much trouble, that is.”
“None at all.” Amelia assured him. “We all miss her.” Tootles smiled at being included in the ‘all’, before popping away.
Tea sipped, Amelia asked; “What’s on your mind, Sirius?”
“I have some questions.”
“On?” She drew out the simple word, turning it into a complete sentence.
“I thought it might be that. Sirius, you know full well we cannot discuss an ongoing investigation…”
“Not necessary, Meely. We both know who is responsible. The only thing missing is the dark mark!”
“The paper said the group killed in Southampton was wearing black robes and white masks. My question is…are any the ‘former’ Death Eaters missing? Any who might not have shown up for work?”
Amelia paled in shock. This could be what she needed to capture the whole lot of them!”
“I don’t know, but by Morgana and Maeve I will find out! Connie!” She shouted the last.
“Connie Hammer opened the door and popped her head through. “Boss?”
“Connie, we need to find out if there are any members of Lucius’ old social club missing?”
“Five. Arkash, Gibbon. Malachom and both Rowle’s.” None of them arrived for work today.”
“Not a word, but we can’t send notices for five days.”
“Blast and Damn!”
“Connie?” Sirius ventured. “Is there any way the Ministry can locate those five?”
“Not really. They haven’t used any…” she stuttered to a halt.
“What?” Amelia asked, having a nasty feeling in her belly that this was only going to get worse.
She was right.
“There hasn’t been any alert from the dark magic detectors. Not in days!” Amelia was on her feet before the words were fully out of Connie’s mouth. There was always some idiot playing with dark magic, frequently just to see if the Ministry would actually come to investigate. In the next seconds the three of them were racing down the hallway to the stairs. They’d reach the second floor much faster than if they had to use that benighted lift.
What they found was worse than they’d expected. The door was firmly locked and refused to open to even the most powerful unlocking charms. Finally Sirius had had enough. He fired a reductor into not the door, but into the wall beside the frame. Stone erupted in a cloud, and after three more reductors, they were in. Of course the explosions alerted the Aurors, who came boiling down the hallway.
Moody reached them first. “Mind telling me just what the hell you’re doing, Black?” hs wand in his hand told them all that it wasn’t a casual question.
“What makes you think it was him?” Connie asked, knowing the answer as she did.
“I saw him.” Moody tapped the side of his head next to his wildly spinning electric blue magical eye. “As soon as the first blast went off, I looked through the wall. He cast three more reductors.”
Rufus Scrimgeour had arrived and seemed about to order Sirius arrested, when Amelia spoke. “Black is working for me on a special project. We discovered the dark magic detectors haven’t given so much as a single peep in days and came down here to discover why. When we tried to open the door, we found it was sealed. How, I don’t now. While his method might have been a bit rash.” She glared at Sirius who grinned innocently in return. “It was effective.”
Moody took over. “All right, recon! Two by two…move!”
Two pairs of Aurors scurried to the sides of the newly created doorway, and with a nod, one pair darted through. A second later, the other pair entered the room as well.
A soft “Bloody hell!” told them things had gotten worse.
“Clear!” Came from the inside of the office, with the echo following. Amelia stepped forward only to find Moody and Scrimgeour both barring her way.
“Not your job anymore…Minister! Moody growled. Amelia flushed in irritation and swore softly. She was used to leading her people, not waiting to find out if they were still alive at the end of a mission.
Moody knew that. ~Bastard!~
Inside the office was death and destruction. The dark magic detectors hadn’t been disabled…they’d been destroyed! It would take weeks to replace them. Amelia couldn’t care less. Far more important to her was the single dead woman in the office. A clerk named Bethany Chisholm. Amelia had never met her. The girl was only eighteen…barely out of Hogwarts. She’d been hired to watch the detectors and report to the Aurors if they went off. She had no real combat skills and according to those to whom she reported, she was as inoffensive as they came. Her wand lay on the desk. Simply put, whoever murdered her, did so because she was in the way.
She’d been dead at least two days. The signs of the killing curse were plain to see.
Amelia brushed her hand over the girl’s eyes, closing them for the last time.
“Find out who has been in this office for the past week.” She growled. “I don’t care what it takes. I want to know!”
Surprisingly, Rufus began to cast detection spells immediately. Sirius had thought he’d have just assigned someone.
Dec 14 85
The investigation turned up several things. First, all of the visitors had been accounted for, which meant one…or more of them was lying, or someone had managed to find a way in that was not monitored. Amelia rather thought that the most likely scenario. Second, when Scrimgeour had checked Bethany’s wand for any possible defensive magic, he’d found the killing curse straight off. Since the wand was on her desk and she was laying on the floor against the filing cabinets, several feet from the desk, he called in the Department of Mysteries for an expert on magical signatures. Third, that worthy discovered that while her wand had been used, she had not used it. There were two distinct magical signatures on that wand. Their conclusion was inescapable; Bethany Chisholm had been killed with her own wand.
The question remained…who?
The second investigation was less effective. When he’d been informed of Amelia’s suspicions, Scrimgeour sent John Dawlish to investigate the bodies in Southampton. Unfortunately, he picked the wrong man. Dawlish recognized his fellow Death Eaters and simply obliviated everyone who’d seen them. Done that, he transfigured their bodies into toothpicks and stuffed them into his pocket. He’d bring them to their families when he left the Ministry that evening.
A/N: I consider Judo to be a basic step to the martial arts, as so many are based, if only loosely, on it. It’s easy to learn, and nearly as effective for defense as the more violent forms. Unfortunately in this age of flash and bling, the ‘peaceful solution’ has gone ignored. While I am qualified in several different arts, I prefer Aikido, upon which Judio is based, because of its economy of motion, and while there are more effective martial arts (and flashier ones as well), except in all but a very few situations, it is sufficient. That’s why police officers are taught Aikido. On the other hand, if I ever tried to compete and used the things I was taught, I’d be kicked off the circuit…if not arrested.
The idea of using the Baron’s head to remove the remainder of Nick’s head is from ‘Harry Potter and the Quantum Leap’ by: Seel’vor…the next chapter of which I am Still waiting on.
I first saw the blood based sealing runes in the excellent story ‘The Curse That Killed Thousands’.by Gal1661
While I don’t know for certain that Dawlish is a Death Eater, his description and actions in Books Five and Six lead me to the conclusion that he was at the very least a blood-purist. ‘Sides, I needed a few bad guys in the Ministry.
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