Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Harry Potter and the Aftermath

The Burrow

by RyanJenkins 0 reviews

Ryan begins to learn what happened in England, and tells Harry, the Weasleys, and Kingsley Shacklebolt a lot more about what happened in America. The process of re-establishing British-American rel...

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: G - Genres: Horror - Characters: Ginny,Harry,Hermione,Kingsley,Ron - Published: 2016-07-17 - 4517 words - Complete



Dinner was delicious. We sat around a long table which just happened to be exactly the right size for the number of people sitting on it. Ginny raised her wand (after an unsuccessfully surreptitious nod from Molly) and an enormous steaming copper cauldron, followed by a precisely-spaced line of loaves, wafted out of the kitchen and settled down on the table. A group of spoons in a V formation, led by a large ladle, came hurtling after them, halted upright in the air over the table, bowed, and clattered down in front of each place. The ladle spun like a top and did a swan dive into the cauldron. We all applauded, Molly beamed, Ginny blushed, and Harry kissed her.

Lamb stew, thick with chunks of meat, lots of vegetables, and rich brown gravy, was served in an amazing collection of different china bowls which grew as you filled them, with mounds of butter for the endless loaves of fresh-baked bread. I found myself seated between Harry and the Minister, and the conversation quickly turned to Quidditch. I'd always preferred the older game, although Quadpot was way more popular in America; Quidditch seemed more complex and challenging, and anyway I really didn't much like a game with exploding Quaffles.

When he asked, I told Harry I'd played various positions, but did best as a Chaser. He, several people made it clear, had been an outstanding Seeker on his “House team,” and when that confused me, everyone jumped in to explain the four Houses at Hogwarts.

“I see. That makes a lot of sense, actually, since you only have the one Wizarding school here in Britain.”

“You have more than one, then? How many Wizard schools are there in America?” asked Ron.

“Five,” I replied, and everyone stopped eating for a moment and looked at me. Their surprise reminded me again of the gap that had grown between our cultures, and I started to explain. “Let's see, on the West Coast there's California Wizarding University, they have their main campus in Los Angeles, but CalWiz also has a smaller branch in Berkeley, and its library and Magical Studies Institute inside Mount Shasta – but it all still counts as one. Down South, there's Loomoo, Louisiana Magique University, in the bayous near New Orleans – Muggles just see a swamp, of course! On the East Coast, there are two: the United States Academy of Magic up in Salem--”

“Excuse me,” put in Kingsley, “but I thought that was called the Salem School or something like that.”

“It started out as the Salem School for Witches, and there was a Salem Academy for Wizards, but they combined the two and changed the name to U-sam – that's what we say, mostly – back in the 40s, during the War. The other eastern school is Muva, the Magical University of Virginia, near Charlottesville. And the fifth one is in the Midwest, that's my alma mater, Indiana Wizarding University, in Bloomington.”

“Called 'eye-woo' I suppose?” asked George.

“Right the first time!”

“Why haven't we heard of these places?” asked Hermione – then, realizing that the question needed either a very long answer or none, she quickly added “What's it like in Bloomington?”

“Beautiful country there, low rolling hills, lots of trees. Some amazing caves. It's a really magical place. A lot of important Tibetan Wizards came there after they were forced out of their own country forty years ago, they say it's very special. It's a major college town for Muggles too, and just full of the most astonishing people.”

By the time we were using bits of bread to sop up the last of the gravy in our bowls, I was comfortably on a first-name basis with the Minister for Magic, which seemed like a pretty decent achievement for a brand-new diplomat. “It certainly seems there's quite a lot of information our two countries need to exchange, Ryan,” observed Kingsley. When I nodded, solemnly but vigorously, he went on, “You need to learn what happened here – the story of Lord Voldemort and and our recent and not-so-recent troubles. We need to learn what happened in the United States, and how that was connected to what was going on in this country. Now if you want to find out what happened here in Britain over the last 20 years or so, the best way would be for you to simply stay here at the Burrow, and talk to Harry, and all the Weasleys. There are others you will undoubtedly want to speak with, but the most important things that happened during that period mostly happened to these people sitting around this table. This group here has more of that story – and more accurately! – than you will find anywhere else in this country.”

It felt like the bottom dropped out, somehow. I looked around at the unsmiling faces, ending with Harry, sitting next to me on the other side. His head was tilted to one side and his eyes were looking off into the distance. I opened my mouth and closed it. I couldn't speak for a moment. They waited, and finally I said, “The thing is, we've got to know what happened. All we have is a bunch of rumors, and reports we're not sure we can trust. And – I mean – the Secretary of Magic sent me over here because he thought I could find out. But now that it looks like I can, I don't want – well, look. What happened to us was really bad. But what happened to you, over here....must have been horrible. Much, much worse. I hate the thought of reminding you of all that.” I was looking at George, and glanced at Molly; their faces were immobile. “There must be lots of people who can tell me what I need to know. After all, it doesn't matter to me where I get the information as long as it's accurate...”

“It's all right, mate, we'll tell you.” Harry had put his hand on my shoulder, now he squeezed briefly, took it off, and we looked each other in the eye. “ 'Preciate your consideration and all that, but I'm willing, and I'll bet the others'll rally round as well. It'll help, you see. Honestly. It's all still fresh in the mind, but we've been avoiding talking to each other about – some things – for just that very reason. It's – difficult. But we need to do it, and move on. It's just that – well, sometimes we Brits need just a little bit of encouragement to let things out.” His wry tone on the last sentence raised affectionate chuckles around the table.

Kingsley spoke up, very seriously. “You will all have to decide for yourselves what to tell, of course. But from the Ministry's point of view, I can't think of anything we would want to conceal from the Americans. And all of you, please do understand that this is only a request, and entirely voluntary. But the Ministry – your country, in fact, when all is said and done – does very much want a full and complete exchange of information with the United States.” He turned to me. “I think it's the right way, in fact the only way, to begin reviving our Special Relationship.”

I inhaled sharply. “So you do want a Special Relationship in the Wizarding world too! I thought so. Secretary Blackstone said he hoped so, when he told me about it. They barely mentioned the subject of a “special relationship” when I was in school, you know; we were taught that it was just something that happened during the War, and came to an end soon after, because the British Wizards didn't want to continue.” I looked at Hermione. “What did they teach about this in History classes at Hogwarts?”

Hermione didn't answer; she turned pink. Ron snorted, looked down, and looked up at me with a crooked grin. “Sorry mate, if Hermione doesn't know, nobody does.”

I realized everyone around the table was looking uncomfortable. “Did Voldemort or somebody get it removed from your history lessons too?”

Kingsley Shacklebolt started to chuckle, and it spread around the table. Even Hermione had to join in, although she was still blushing. Bill said, “You, too, Dad? Mum?” and when Arthur and Molly both nodded vigorously, their children (and Harry) laughed aloud. Kingsley joined in, and I did too, just for the fun of it. George called out, “You-Know-Who didn't need to worry about Hogwarts on this one!” and everybody laughed even louder. When he ran down to chuckles, Ron explained, “You see, it's just that our History of Magic class at Hogwarts was the single most boring class in the whole school.”

“In the whole country, you mean – perhaps the whole Western Hemisphere!” Kingsley's crack got a fresh gale of laughter.

“Dear old Professor Binns, hasn't altered a word in his lectures for 75 years.” Molly's voice held a note of fondness under her amusement.

“Bore you to death, even telling about the most ferocious and amazing battle you can imagine.” agreed Arthur, shaking his head. “He's the only ghost on the faculty, and there doesn't seem to be any prospect at all of his retiring some day.”

“I always thought History could be a very interesting subject,” put in Hermione, “but everybody chucks his class as soon as they can decently do so, and I can't blame them since I did too.”

Arthur stood up. “Tell you what, let's stretch our legs a bit, clear the table and all that, and move this discussion into the living room, what do you say?” He got general assent and we all pushed our chairs back. Molly shooed me away when I tried to help with the dishes. “As if I would! You're a guest, and besides, you have diplomatic immunity from chores! Ron, George, bring the cauldron, and Ginny, do the butter if you would please...”

A little while later we were all settled in the comfortable living room, with coffee or tea or hot chocolate from the sideboard. Molly had put out a plate of little creme-filled pumpkin cakes she called “Pinkies,” “...just for filling up the cracks, you understand.”

“Ryan,” Kingsley began, “You'll have plenty of time to find out the British story, but it strikes me that this is a very good opportunity for us to begin hearing the American side of things, if you'd like to tell it.”

“I would, very much. The the Secretary of Magic has charged me to tell you something that actually continues our discussion at the table. He regards the Special Relationship with Britain as still in effect. After all, that relationship is, and has been, strongly maintained in the Muggle world; it seems that it was deliberately subverted in the world of Magic, and communication between Wizards – and Witches! – in America with their counterparts in Britain has been discouraged, not to say prevented, for a long time. We need to turn that around.”


“Mr. Minister – everybody – the first thing Secretary Blackstone asked me to do when I met the right people....and I think I have!....was to tell you that when you saved yourselves, you saved us, too. You couldn't have known it, but you did. There's really no way to thank you, but we're going to try anyway.” Harry was looking at me with a peculiar expression; everyone else seemed to be looking at Harry. But I couldn't stop now, I'd come to the hard part. “And I have to tell you this, before anything else: the United States Department of Magic, and our whole Wizarding community, owes you – owes everyone in the British Wizarding world – an apology so profound we cannot express it adequately. The Secretary’s very words. You see, there was a very definite understanding between the British and American Wizarding communities – between the Ministry and the Department, formally. If you got in trouble over here, or another dark Wizard arose like Grindelwald, we were supposed to come and help. We promised to come and help.” I raised my hands and let them fall back helplessly. “And we didn't. We're embarrassed, we're humiliated, and we're very, very sorry.”

Kingsley looked straight at me. “I have two reactions to that. The first is, thank you. Very much. We deeply appreciate what you've just said. And the second is,” he leaned forward toward me, “bosh! It seems we've all been caught up in the schemes of a highly intelligent, as well as viciously criminal, foe. What you didn't know, you couldn't help with, and if there were failures, they must be shared on both sides of the Atlantic. Tell me something. When I got Arthur's owl today, I just had a quick glance over some of the American files. They were much less complete than I had expected to find, but I did notice that your, uh, former Secretary, Sylvester Koch Parboil, was posted over here for a time, starting in 1972. Do you think that has something to do with your story?”

“Yes, we think it does. And, ah, for the record, he pronounced his middle name 'cook' instead of 'kotch.' It looks to us like Slimy – I mean former Secretary--”

“Slimy Parboil?” Kingsley grinned. “Slimy Cook Parboil! Ha! I quite like it. And don't worry about using that sort of nickname. Wait till you hear what people were calling Dolores Umbridge! But go on.”

“We think Voldemort recruited him over here, somewhere about that time. And we think it was a genuine recruitment, not a magical compulsion of some sort. Slimy was friends with some seriously unscrupulous people, both Wizards and Muggles, and a bunch of them got sort of caught with their hands in the cookie jar in 1974, and got a pretty good beating-up, politically speaking. He'd been away, and couldn't be tied to the hanky-panky at home directly, but he was recalled and started working his way up in the Department. The decline in our Special Relationship dates from about that time, and the impetus for it did appear to us to be coming from Britain – but it now it looks like it came through Slimy Parboil.”

I sipped from my cup, which was filled with a mixture of half coffee and half chocolate, an American commonplace which had raised eyebrows when I poured it. “Back in America he worked in the Foreign Wizarding Relations section, and the Personnel Office, which offered him plenty of opportunity to work against relations with Britain, especially if he was taking a long-term approach, which we think he definitely was.”

“Voldemort thought he was going to be immortal,” said Kingsley, nodding, “and used the promise of immortality as bait to lure his followers, so that fits well enough.”

“Secretary Blackstone figures that Slimy was in effective control of much of the Department by 1980. At the time, he was busy being Admiral Blackstone, but he smelled a rat. He nearly asked for early retirement so he could look into what was going on. Then, in 1981, it all seemed to stop. Parboil took a leave of absence at that time – the records say it was for 'family reasons' – and Admiral Blackstone decided to finish his naval career as scheduled, retiring in 1985.” I turned to Harry. “1981. That must have been a result of – of what happened to you, Harry.”

“Was Parboil getting some kind of magical power, as well as information and instructions, from Voldemort, do you think?” Harry was frowning.

“Actually, yes, we have considered that. It would explain a lot. But we can't prove it now that he's dead, and how Voldemort could send magic across the Atlantic is a mystery.”

“He was a very adept Wizard,” Hermione pointed out, “and he had studied a lot of things decent people wouldn't touch. If a PortKey can get across the ocean, there might be some way...”

Bill spoke up. “At any rate, he had a definite focus in America in this Parboil fellow. Having a focus, especially a sentient and willing focus, makes a huge difference when you're working at a distance.”

“Something you learned working at Gringotts?” I asked. Bill smiled and made the old “zip the lip” gesture. I nodded at him and continued, “Anyway, an old friend of Admiral Blackstone's had been commanding the U.S. Wizarding Marines, and he retired in '85. Blackstone stepped into the job as his replacement.”

“Didn't know you had military Wizards,” said Arthur thoughtfully. “We never have, not as a unit. Of course, over the years, some Wizards have served in our Muggle military, individually, and under cover of course.”

“Well, up until that point the Marines were only a small ceremonial outfit. They just did sentry duty, escorted visiting Wizard dignitaries on official visits, and marched on Franklin's Birthday and the Fourth of July, that sort of thing. They were famous for spit-and-polish, but hadn't ever actually fought anywhere. Blackstone decided to change that, and started recruiting men and women who fulfilled all the requirements of the Muggle military, and then some. Set up a training school somewhere and got some serious combat equipment, and a teaching staff of Wizards and Witches who had Muggle military experience. He put up a false front, I guess you could say, as an old fuddy-duddy who was mostly interested in how well the Marines polished their belt buckles. Behind the scenes, though, he was training them in actual fighting techniques, some borrowed from the Muggles, some taken from Wizarding experience, and some invented as they went along.”

“He created a strike force, loyal to him, right under Parboil's nose!”

“That's right, Bill.”

“Frankly, Ryan,” Kingsley began in a very serious tone, “I'm not at all sure that this is a welcome development, in the long run. A Magical arms race could be disastrous.”

“Kingsley, just between us, I don't like it much either. But without them, we would still have a big problem.”

“Agreed. I will, however, want to discuss this with the Secretary.”

“Of course. Admiral Blackstone did all this most reluctantly, and I've been authorized to tell you – uh, it was 'for your ears only,' but if I can't trust this bunch I might as well go home – do keep it quiet, please – that he's planning to demobilize half the Marines as soon as possible, and probably take on some of those to re-staff the Department. But besides the military angle – and maybe more importantly – in 1987 Blackstone was also put in charge of the National Magical Research Association, which was no big deal back then, just overseeing the budget for a group of mostly-elderly scholars pecking away at old books. By that time, though, Parboil was an Undersecretary, a rising star at the Department.”

“And pursuing his own agenda, it would seem,” Kingsley observed. “Or did he expect Voldemort to come back, I wonder?”

“Another good question we'll never know the answer to, sir. Our best guess is that he thought he had gotten enough from his master to carve out his own career, and his efforts simply put him in an ideal position for Voldemort when he did return. When was that, actually?”

“Two years ago. 1996. In the spring. I was there when it happened,” said Harry softly. “I saw it. I saw him murder Cedric Diggory. It was – well, I'll tell you about it – later.”

“Yes,” said Shacklebolt, “don't put yourself through that now, Harry. The point is, I think, that Admiral Blackstone was never one of Parboil's people.”

“No way.” I was almost savagely definite.

“Exactly. And if Parboil saw him as any sort of potential threat, he was at least shuffled off to a couple of minor, ineffectual appointments that would keep him busy doing things that could not interfere with Parboil's plans. Or so he thought.”

“Right. And jeez-louise, was he ever wrong! Blackstone told me some of the story, but there's a lot I still don't know. He was convinced that Slimy was up to no good – to put it mildly – but he couldn't use the Marines for a long time, for two reasons. First, he couldn't be sure he'd get everybody. Parboil's tentacles had started to spread throughout the Department, and around the country. Taking out Slimy and the people right around him – even if he wasn't charged with treason or insurrection or something – would have left God knows how many dark Wizards to escape and go underground. And second, what he was doing with the Research Association looked like it might turn out to be a game-changer.”

“Were those the people who started working with computers?” Arthur asked eagerly. Molly's brow suddenly furrowed.

“Well, actually, quite a few Wizards and Witches – mostly young ones – started doing that independently, as far back as the 1980s, and began to share their knowledge. But it was sort of a magic-geek thing, not organized or directed; they worked out the necessary spells by trial and error. The people at the Research Association were the first to systematically investigate the field, and developed the first programmable spells – among other things. You see, Admiral Blackstone turned the National Magical Research Association into a major organization, again undercover. He left the original group of rather elderly scholars in place, publicly generating voluminous and mostly meaningless reports, and that's all the Department (and Slimy Parboil) ever saw. Then he built and staffed a whole research and development lab and...”

“Hold on a minute, Ryan,” Bill spoke up. “Admiral Blackstone was hiring all these people – buildings, equipment – did I understand you to say he enlarged the Wizarding Marines as well?”

“Yes, he about doubled the size of the organization.”

“Didn't all this show up in the Department of Magic budget every year? How could he keep that kind of expenditure secret?”

“Funny thing, I had the same question. But when I asked him, he just said 'I'll be glad to tell you – if you ever need to know.'”

“If you don't mind me speculating for a moment,” Bill said thoughtfully, “Secretary Blackstone, as he is now, was an Admiral in the Muggle Navy. Do you think he might have found a way to get funding from the US Muggle military budget?”

“The thought has crossed my mind. About a hundred fifty times, so far.”

“Yes. What he's spending would be the tiniest fraction of the amounts involved; easy enough to charge off, one place or another. Your Muggle government, over in the States, spends huge amounts of money on their military every year – the goblins are well aware of it all.” He leaned back in his chair. “One morning in Egypt I saw an American Navy ship in the Med. A really big one with a flat deck, a 'Nimitz-class carrier' they call it. I don't know what a nimitz is, but the goblin who told me said it cost them a gigantic fortune to build.”

“Millions of Galleons, I'll bet, has to be!” put in Ron.

“Not even close, Ron.” Bill shook his head decisively. “In our money – let's see – according to old Snarledge, that ship cost about eight hundred and fifty million Galleons.”

Ron was speechless, but so was everyone else, until George said in a strangled voice, “Eight – hundred – fifty – million – – GALLEONS – – for one ship?”

I nodded; I had been doing some mental arithmetic. “Yeah, that sounds about right.” George sank back in his chair, a stupefied look on his face, and I shrugged. “I'm kind of up on this stuff 'cause I got interested in history when I was a kid, and, uh, my parents are Muggles, so I was raised in the Muggle world. Didn't know I was a Wizard till I turned eleven.”

“I have Muggle parents! They're dentists. And Harry was raised by Muggles, too!” Hermione surprised me as much as I think I surprised her.

“Later for that, Hermione, if you would, please.” Kingsley was refilling his cup at the sideboard, and I moved to join him. “I think we're getting off the track. You were telling us about Secretary Blackstone's research institution? By the way, I like this coffee and chocolate combination, thank you for the suggestion.”

“You're welcome. But now who's getting off the track?” He chuckled as we sat down and I continued. “He established a large laboratory and testing site not far from Washington, staffed with young Wizards and Witches he personally selected from the final years' classes at the various Wizarding schools. He told them of his fears and suspicions, swore them to secrecy, and asked them to come up with magical ways to surprise and overcome old Slimy and company. And they started to investigate ways of using Muggle technology in combination with Magic.”

“Oh, no! Not that awful business!” Molly was aghast. “Nothing but trouble! Arthur's car could have killed Ron and Harry in their second year!”

“Now, Molly,” began Arthur.

“Don't you 'now Molly' me, Arthur Weasley! Don't you remember that lawnmower you brought home when Charlie was a baby?” (Harry and I looked at each other.) “We had to replant the entire garden! And those poor little gnomes!” (As one, we looked away.) “All over the side of the house. How many times has your tinkering with Muggle things nearly gotten you killed, or fired, or even thrown into Azkaban?”

Nobody actually laughed, but everyone else was fighting for control too. I had to let Arthur hem and haw for a few moments, before I could safely say, “Wait a minute, Molly, I kinda think you've got it backwards. This isn't about trying to use Magic to make Muggle things work, it's about using Muggle ideas to make Magic work better.” She gave me a very suspicious look, but closed her mouth firmly and sat back, glowering. “What I'm talking about works by magic, and is guarded by tons of safety spells. Here – let me give you a quick little demonstration.”

She was sitting with her arms crossed. I took my computer and keyboard out of my pocket and brought them back to full size. Bill said, “That's a computer, sure enough! Muggle banks use those things, I've seen them. But don't you need one of those big monitor-screen things?”

“Got something better.” I drew a great big six-foot display screen, where everyone could see it, and connected it up. Then I had the computer position itself underneath the screen, and sat down with the keyboard on my lap. A pumpkin with a bite out of it appeared on the screen, and gave way to my desktop, which I had quickly re-set to a picture of three little kittens, tumbling about and playing. All this magic (and the kittens) seemed to have relaxed Molly a bit.

“For this demonstration I'm going to have to use some electricity to interface with the Muggles. But my battery is down pretty low, I'd really like to do a quick recharge. Uh – you don't have electric service here, do you?”

“No,” said Arthur sadly, “although we – well, anyway – no, we don't.”

“Not a problem. Would you mind if I take a minute and go fly a kite?”
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