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

Office Party

by RyanJenkins 0 reviews

Harry and Ryan mount a joint British/American raid on the last known address of the missing American liaison team...and find a shocking mystery.

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: G - Genres: Drama - Published: 2016-07-27 - 4102 words - Complete



When the car pulled up on Mount Street, there was plenty of room to park right in front of Number 96. The whole area was dark and quiet; the moon was just a sliver, and it was cloudy. The street door we were interested in was the entrance to a narrow brick-fronted building. It had a carved stone door frame with an arched top, and a fanlight with the number 96 etched in the glass. It sat between an upscale-looking men's tailor shop and an equally genteel art gallery, both of which were closed and dark, and neither of which showed any evidence of magic on the Sniffer. The display was exactly the same as it had been earlier, so Harry, Jamie, Ron, Hermione, Bill and Elliott climbed out and went exploring. I watched the icons of their wands on my display, as they moved around, cautiously casting revealing spells. After a few minutes, my phone vibrated.

“Yo, Jamie.”

“Ryan, we haven't found a thing so far. Have the driver pop the trunk.”

That caused momentary confusion, until I learned that in Britain, a car's trunk is called the “boot.” In all fairness, that might, just conceivably, be logical somehow or other, but the reasoning escaped me then (and still does). However, we got it done, and the icons clustered around the back of the car as everybody got out their brooms. Hermione stayed to watch in front as the others flew slowly up and over the building.

“Nothing in the back except some trash cans,” Jamie reported in my ear. “Ron calls them 'bins.' We're going to have a close look at the roof area. Harry says I should go ahead and try the Navajo spell, and I'll do it up there.”

I knew what was coming, and watched a new icon appear on the Sniffer as Jamie got out a small brass brazier, fired up a lump of charcoal, and began the ritual. He had described it to us earlier, and it used some of the items he had bought in Diagon Alley. (“Always best to use local ingredients,” he had said when Harry complimented him on his foresight.) Blowing gently on the glowing coal to bring it up to temperature, he sprinkled bits of snowdrops, borage and moly, finally adding several dried yucca flowers he had brought with him from home. (Talk about foresight.) As the smoke curled upward, he took out his wand and spoke the Navajo incantation. I could see a faint lavender cloud on the display curling around the group...and then watched it form itself into a line, which snaked toward the front of the building and began to pool in one spot.

“Think we may have something here.” Jamie's voice was quietly excited, and the group's icons moved toward the pool of smoke. I heard a voice in the background say “Lumos!” and then a new voice came on the phone.



“Has anything changed on your Sniffer display?”

“No – there's no change in that funny orange line, or anywhere else in this area. But of course I can see you, your wands and brooms and what Jamie's been doing, perfectly well...and if you've found something, I bet I know where it is.”

“Right. Well, it's time for you to come on up and have a look at what we've got here. Watch your footsteps when you land, don't want to wake up the Muggles. Can you bring the Sniffer with you, or d'you want Jamie down there to take over?”

“No problem, it flies through the air with the greatest of ease. I'm on my way.”

I shut down the screen, shrunk the keyboard and put it in my pocket, and levitated the CPU unit, still running. Then I got out of the car, retrieved my broom from the trunk – I mean, boot – and Hermione was beside me, saying quietly, “Let me take the computer for you.”

“Thanks.” Mounting our brooms, we flew up to the top of the four-story structure. The tiny light from the end of Harry's wand was not far back, near a chimney with an ornate cap. As we approached, Elliott's wand lit up as well, and Jamie stepped silently out of the group and pointed his wand at us; our shoes transfigured into thick, soft, perfectly-fitting moccasins.

They were looking at a spot between the brick-faced building and the next one, which had a heavily carved stone front. A strange object, dark and rectangular, almost invisible except for the shadows it cast in the light of the wands, appeared to be floating in the air a few inches above the roof surface. I didn't look closely right then, but instead busied myself getting the computer set up; there was a convenient corner where two chimneys pretty much concealed a smaller-sized display screen. When it came up, the picture was different.

From this perspective, the orange line was wider – I zoomed in until it was almost six inches wide, and centered the display on a new feature on the line – a rectangular icon, orange, with one edge showing up indefinitely, fading off into grey blankness. The opposite edge of the rectangle showed red, bordered on three sides in black, and there was a sort of a black lump about halfway along. That looked weird, but when I turned and gave it the Muggle Standard eyeball scan, it looked even weirder.

It was a trap door, or rather the edge of a trap door, not quite closed, fading off into invisibility before it reached its hinges. It was held open, perhaps half an inch, by a hand....a blackened, desiccated, mummified hand, sticking out with its fingers curled in agony.

I sucked in a breath quickly, and let it out slowly. “So that's why the concealment spells didn't work completely.”

“Yes...that seems logical...” Hermione's voice sounded faint.

“Buck up,” said Ron, “whoever that is probably got what was coming to them.”

Harry looked at me. “Ryan, if and when we got in, I was minded to let you go first, but I'm afraid this changes things.”

“It sure does. What we have here – one way or another – looks like a crime scene to me. On your turf. What's your procedure for something like this?”

Harry held up a finger, and looked at Elliott. “Just give the team a yellow, would you?”

“Right you are.” Elliott held his wand aloft and shot out a stream of yellow sparks, and about 30 seconds later four more dark-robed broom riders were hovering just above the roof. They threw back their cowls, and it was three men and a woman.

“Don't land,” said Harry quietly. “Introductions later. Got a body here, don't know what else yet. Looks like a crime scene. Zelda, go get us a flying team from St. Mungo's, please.” The woman raised a finger in silent salute and shot off at high speed over the rooftops. “Orderic, we probably ought to have some more of your people, just in case. Are there any available?”

“Already on their way,” said a stocky Wizard with a full beard. “Flying squad's always on duty. I sent a Patronus when we saw your yellow.”

“Very good, thanks! You go ahead and dispose them as you think best, but I'd like one of your lot to be up here with us.”

“Right, that would be me.” Orderic Pease (as I learned when he was introduced later) took the others up about thirty feet and gave them quiet instructions; they left in different directions. Then he came down to our level and hovered above the building with the stone front.

I had an idea, and said, “Harry, if we've got a few minutes while they get set, I'd like to try something.”

“Think you can look inside with the Sniffer?” He was interested at once.

“Not with the Sniffer – I've been trying, but the crack's too narrow – but I can scan the area with EMCASS, the analysis program I whomped up.” I looked at Ron and Hermione. “The one I used on George's front window.”

“I thought they were the same thing,” Hermione said, surprised.

“No, although they are similar. The Sniffer was created by the Magical Research people, and it's tuned into Dark Magic. EMCASS – Magical Circuit Analyzer Spell – is a programmed spell I came up with, back in school, for, uhhh – just for fun. It shows some magical spells, and electrical circuits, and fiber optic connections too. I've thought about trying to combine the two, actually, but haven't had a moment to do anything about that – ever since I visited the Research establishment and got the Sniffer, things have been happening pretty much all the time.” They all chuckled at my dry tone, and I minimized the Sniffer and brought up EMCASS. It located all the circuits in the flanking buildings immediately, and I was able to identify the lights, internet connections, two burglar alarm systems, some electric heaters, air conditioners, and small appliances. But the building we were interested in didn't show up at all....with one exception.

“Back of these buildings there's a power cable that doesn't seem to go anywhere, but it's live – in service, connected, I mean. It must be the drop for 96-B. Proof – if we needed it – that there's a concealed building here.”

“Will the building appear, like Number 12 Grimmauld Place does, when the trap door is opened? If so, we'd better be in the air when it happens.” Hermione had a very good point.

“I sort of expect it to,” said Harry, “and you're right about that. Let's not be in contact with anything.” Just then, Zelda came zooming back along the rooftops, with several other broom-mounted figures following her, dressed in lime-green robes. One of them was Dr. Conway once again. He'd brought two litters and two teams of orderlies; at Harry's direction they posted themselves in the air behind Orderic. As they did, two brief fountains of green sparks came up from the streets in front and in back, and Orderic nodded at Harry. We all mounted our brooms and took off. I levitated the keyboard, Hermione levitated the CPU unit, and the display screen and multipair connectors (dimmed way down) stayed with it.

Harry looked around at everyone, then pointed his wand at the trapdoor. “Wingardium Leviosa!” he said. Nothing happened. “Dissendium!” Still nothing. After a moment he asked Elliott, and then Hermione, to try opening the trap door with their wands. Aloud, Hermione tried “Alohomora,” and Elliott went around to the other side and used “Carpe Retractum” and “Portus Aperio.” None of those, nor anything they might have tried non-verbally, produced any result.

“Do you mind if I try?” asked Jamie. Harry was more than willing, and we watched as Jamie also failed to make anything happen with his wand. Then he shrugged, and reached into his robe. “Well, there's always the old stand-by,” he remarked, producing a miniature fishing rod, which he quickly turned into a full-sized one with a wave of his wand. Another couple of taps changed it into a heavy-duty rig, suitable for ocean fishing, and he enlarged the hook until it was the size of a small grapple. Ron and Harry gave each other one-sided grins, and everyone was intent as Jamie hooked the visible edge of the trap door, just beside that awful-looking hand, flew upwards and back, and began to pull. The line tightened, and then suddenly the trap door lid moved upwards with a loud sepulchral groan. As it reached the vertical, the groan increased exponentially and added some very low tones indeed. The concealed building shoved the others aside, and in a few seconds the trap door lid thumped down on an entirely different roof. It was a rather shabbier near-duplicate to the roof of the brick-faced building, and still, of course, invisible to Muggles. At least we hoped it was.

The hand didn't move.

“Wait a minute, Harry,” I said as he moved toward the opening, “I can see inside now. I think.” I brought both displays up side by side, but discovered only one could be live at a time. I made notes, and looked at the Sniffer. “It looks like protective magic is definitely in play here, there are apparently several spells. One's a caterwauling charm...I'll get to the others in a moment.” I switched over to EMCASS. “We've got live electrical circuits – there's an actual electronic burglar alarm! And a telephone line, with a working telephone. Two of them. That's interesting. There's a coaxial cable TV drop, apparently not connected to anything – could be an internet line also...”

“Can you see where the burglar alarm central unit is?” Orderic had flown closer and was looking at the display with great interest. “Odd that it didn't go off when the trap door opened.”

“I think it's a motion-sensor type,” I replied, studying the screen. “It's right about over there,” pointing to a spot on the roof with my wand, “and not very far down, I'd guess it was ceiling-mounted.”

“All the better,” Orderic said with satisfaction, and flew over to the indicated area to put down a freezing charm. When he came back I asked him if he could douse the power to the whole building.

“Don't need to dowse it, I know right where the mains come in.”

That stopped me cold for a moment. “Uhhh...douse, like you douse a fire with water?”

“Oh, douse! Shut it off! Ah, I thought you meant dowsing, with a wand – that's how we usually find things like that, without this picture gadget of yours.” He looked around. “Harry, any chance we might be able to get one of these?”

“Oh yes,” Harry smiled and nodded. “You're not the only one! But the one Ryan has here is an experimental model, so keep your dowsing skills up to snuff for now.”

Orderic went down and froze the current at the main breaker box (maybe make that fuse box! I thought; the building was old) and the EMCASS display showed it; everything went down except for a couple of battery backups, and the Invisibility Squad froze those with no trouble. So I brought the Sniffer on line and we tried to make sense of the magic on display. It looked like there were several protective spells still active, but the Sniffer didn't recognize all of them; it was obvious that its magical database was going to need serious infusions from the British. After a few minutes, we agreed on the best things to try, and gathered in a semi-circle, our wands out and ready.

Finite Incantatem!” Elliott cast the spell at Harry's nod. It had two effects. On the display, one layer of spell-patterned color faded out. And at the trap door, the hand moved. When the fingers stirred and raised upwards, it was horribly like the hand was reaching out. Thoughts of inferi ran through my mind. But then it pulled backwards and disappeared, with a horrid sliding and rattling and an impact that sounded like a cloth bag full of bones.

Hermione shuddered.

We sat, listening, for perhaps a minute. The only sound was distant traffic, the wail of a siren far away, and a freshening breeze. There was no sound from the trap door. “It's all right, I think,” said Harry, and one by one, several people sent anti-jinxes and counter-curses down into the square of blackness as I watched the display. They had no effect that I could see.

“I think the other stuff is down inside,” I finally said. “The spells aren't having any effect from here, but with a direct line of sight...”

“Right, then.” Harry touched down on the roof and leaned his broom against the chimney. I followed immediately, and he turned to me. “Ryan, I think the same logic still applies here.”

“Not this time, Harry. The Sniffer's no good until I can get it in there. I've got to see for myself. Besides, those people in there...or what's left of them...are apparently Americans.”

He looked me straight in the eye for a moment, then nodded. I thought I saw a small smile as he turned to the trap door and said “Lumos!” The light from his wand showed a steep open stairway, almost a ladder, slanting down to a wooden floor. There was an untidy heap of clothing at the bottom. He started down, and I lit my wand as well. The stair-ladder didn't have many steps, but they sounded very rickety. I waited until Harry had stepped around the body onto the wooden floor, and started carefully down.

It was an attic, dusty and mostly empty, except for some cardboard boxes stacked against the rear wall, under a small circular window. There was a door in the other wall, standing open, leading to a narrow, steep stairway. The body on the floor lay mostly on its face, and it was peculiar. The clothes were Muggle clothes – a grey business suit – with a white shirt and, coming out from underneath, a conservative-looking blue necktie. They looked relatively new. I say relatively, because the body inside looked like it had been dead for a long, long time.

Harry had walked over to the doorway. He turned around and said, “Ryan, could you bring the Sniffer down here? Best to have a look before we leap, I think.”

“Right you are. Shall I have the St. Mungo's people come and get....that?” I jerked my head toward the body.


Getting rid of “that” took a few minutes, but not very many. Dr. Conway supervised the litter team, and as I stood over the trap door waiting for them to lift it out, I heard Harry ask him to be very careful to preserve everything with the body for later examination. Once they had cleared the roof, one of the orderly wizards set off over the rooftops with the emaciated corpse, and out of the corner of my eye I noticed one of the Obliviator team join him as he went.

The Sniffer display now looked way different. Inside the building, we were also inside charms laid on the building's exterior boundaries (I think there were three of them) and they had blocked or distorted what we had been seeing. Now it was obvious that the place was honeycombed with spells, charms, and protective magic. I whistled softly.

“Harry, look at this.” He stood beside me before I finished the sentence. “This had to be some kind of serious headquarters. There are security spells and protective magic all over the place.”

“That's going to take a bit of doing.” He called softly up the trap door. “Elliott? Send Bill down, and back everyone off, will you?”

“Back off, did you say?” Elliott's head, facing down the trap door with his ponytail hanging down on one side, looked disembodied in the wandlight.

“We've found a lot of magic in this building we couldn't see before, and some of it could be rather nasty. If we set something off – well, let's be safe. Nobody right over this building, and people should spread out and look for some handy cover, I'd think. Except you, I'm afraid, as we'll need someone to...” His voice trailed off as I held up my cellphone, and he flashed a quick grin. “Right. Cellphones. So you can back off with the others, Elliott, and stay with Jamie.”

“Whoa! Hold on! I'm not getting any signal – the phone isn't working from in here.” I climbed back up the stairs and stuck my head and shoulders out of the trap door. “Yep. Works now.” I stepped back down to the attic floor.

“Maybe Bill can do something about that,” said Harry, “so for now we'll need you there, Elliott.”

“Right-o.” Elliott's head disappeared and almost immediately, Bill was coming down the rickety stairway. He looked at the display and turned to me, eyebrows lifted.

“That looks like a concentration of protective hexes and jinxes almost worthy of goblins. Any idea what they were protecting here?”

“Damfino,” I replied. “Should have been just some Departmental files and personal effects for three people. Except, of course, that all three of them were probably Death Eaters.”

“And it rather looks as if this was Voldemort's liaison office to your Department of Magic,” said Harry in a dry tone, “instead of the other way round.”

“Too true, Harry. Much too true for comfort. So Bill, where do we start?”

We started with a quick survey of the attic, the floors below, and the ground floor, first with the Sniffer and then with EMCASS. Bill's face got longer and grimmer as we went, and when I asked him about removing the outer concealment spells, so we could use the cellphone, he shook his head.

“Not a good idea, I think. This place is guarded like a fortress. It looks to me like they were most worried about an attack from outside, and if I'm right, then going after the outer protections is likely to give warning – set something off. It's a bit like when you broke into Gringott's, Harry.”

I don't think I've mentioned that, have I? Harry told me about it, in a very matter-of-fact way, that morning at his house; mixed in with all the other things it sort of faded into the background. Harry, Ron, and Hermione broke into Gringott's vaults, stole a valuable antique (which was one of Voldemort's horcruxes), freed a blind guard dragon, smashed their way out, and rode the dragon to freedom. A relatively minor incident. Nothing much, just the storyline for an Oscar-winning motion picture, the greatest heist caper ever filmed, that's all.

“I see what you mean,” Harry nodded. “We got through all the outer defenses before we were found out.”

“Exactly.” Bill turned to me. “Ryan, this house is old enough to have a cellar, and perhaps even levels below that. Never can tell, in London. What do you find below ground level?”

I looked at 10-foot slices below the ground floor, and sure enough. There were levels beneath, some of which looked entirely disconnected from each other, going down over 90 feet before we hit bedrock...apparently. What grabbed our attention, though, was an object on the cellar level, about nine feet below ground. It was about three feet on each side. The Sniffer showed it as black, with a red border, and showed other spells cast on the same level. EMCASS showed the object as a violent, strobing purple.

“That,” I said in a quiet conversational tone which sounded totally false to my ears, “is an object which is full of the worst kind of Dark Magic, and it also happens to be full of something which is highly explosive. It looks like there's a fair amount of it down there, too.”

“Watch it.” Bill's voice was flat. “That thing is connected – magically – to something. We don't know what – could be anything.”

“The thing is, my EMCASS program shows it blinking, strobing. See there? I've only seen that once before, when I looked at an explosion in ultra-slow-motion. A steady, solid purple means it's an explosive substance, but I think the strobing effect means it's exploding.”

“Except that it's not. We've been looking at it quite a long time, as explosions go.” Harry's conversational tone seemed to have less of that brittle edge I heard in mine. “You know, that fellow who held the trap door open was obviously trying to get out. Perhaps that was because he knew that thing was going to go bang?”

“And maybe whatever stopped him may have stopped – frozen? – the explosion?”

“And if anything should disturb whatever that is...” Bill spoke very softly.

“Right then, time to make a careful, quiet retreat.” Harry spoke equally softly. “Don't know if we can apparate from in here, but let's not try. No magic. Up and out and fly away. Bill, you first, and get Elliott and everybody back off and sheltered.” Bill climbed the rickety stairway quickly. I had started closing programs on my computer, but it took a minute or so to get it properly shut down. I was standing at the bottom of the stairway, with one my wand raised to shrink it down when Harry crowded up behind me and said,

“Ryan, go! I'll get it out – wingardium leviosa!”

The computer zoomed up and out the trap door. I scrambled up the steps, with Harry right behind me.

And that's when the bomb finished exploding.
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