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

Capital Ideas

by RyanJenkins 0 reviews

Back in London, Blackstone goes home -- but not before setting Ryan up as bait.

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: G - Genres: Drama - Characters: Arthur Weasley,Harry,Hermione,Kingsley,Ron - Published: 2016-09-03 - 4606 words - Complete



I'm glad we took the train back to London, partly because Crackers Conway had told me not to use portkeys until I'd been examined again, and partly because the train ride was lovely in the daytime, but mostly because the banquet at Hogwarts that evening was a doozy. Wouldn't have missed it for the world! Heaps of absolutely delicious food on those golden plates (I think the house elves had made a special effort), and Alistair and I were treated like a couple of long-lost friends. There was a lot of laughter, and people made speeches – Alistair got up and told a “yarn” about his student days which had everyone in stitches, and then said some very moving things about Hogwarts which brought people to their feet again. I was made to say something, and all I could think of was to say some things about looking forward to working with Harry, and about our hopes for cooperation between Hogwarts and American schools. To my surprise they cheered me too, Alistair patted me on the back, and Minerva McGonagall gave me a kiss on the cheek. I must have been pretty red in the face when I sat down to continue stuffing myself.

Hagrid came up for the meal, and was seated next to the Admiral. They had a good chance to talk, between bites. Some people from Hogsmeade were there as well, including an older Wizard with startling blue eyes who was seated at the head table and turned out to be Aberforth Dumbledore, Albus's brother, who was the “landlord” of a pub in town. He wasn't a talkative sort of person; when we were introduced I had it in mind to ask him about his brother, but something told me that wouldn't be a good idea, and I didn't. He did tell me that he was glad we had come; “ that you're here, it's good to hear laughter at Hogwarts again.” He gave a half-smile, and I took that as a compliment; it was only long afterward that I got around to wondering if he'd meant anything else.

That night, Blackstone and I climbed the stairs into the Gryffindor Tower, and found a remarkable circular bedroom with luxurious four-poster beds, complete with curtains and drapes of red velvet, trimmed in gold. They were wonderfully comfortable, and after all the exertions and revelations and superb meals, I went out like a candle in a crosswind.

The Headmistress and about fifteen or twenty others came to see us off the next morning, after another amazing breakfast. We rode to the station in the carriages, and it was kind of spooky because I couldn't see the thestrals in the harnesses. When I said something about that, Blackstone just shook his head and said “You will someday, son, but don't hurry it,” with a funny little smile. The train pulled out amid lots of waving, and this time, of course, we could see the countryside as we rolled along, sitting in big armchairs. Lunch turned out to be wicker baskets, packed with enough food for five, and we both fell asleep after that. Dusk was falling when I awoke, to find Blackstone looking out the window as we chugged through the approaches to London. I said something about having missed some of the scenery, and he grinned.

“If there's one thing I learned in the Navy, Ryan, it's this – now hear the wisdom of the ages! – never miss a chance to sleep, eat, or pee...because the next opportunity might be farther off than you think.” On the train, I wemailed Blackstone's plan to return to Washington the following day, and Captain Mahan had replied that they had no further information about our mysterious cowboy yet, and the President had asked for a midnight meeting. Blackstone said that would be no problem, as he would gain five hours crossing the Atlantic. “Clinton likes midnight meetings, with me at any rate. I think he's seen a lot of old movies, and it tickles his sense of humor. And, of course, it does make it easier to keep things quiet if I don't show up in the upstairs fireplace until after he's sent everyone off to bed.”

Arthur Weasley met us at the station with a Ministry car, and took us to Claridge's Wizarding, where Kingsley and Harry were waiting in the private dining room, which was just the right size for five people – as usual. Over dinner and butterbeer, we filled them in on our doings at Hogwarts.

“I'm glad to hear they're making good progress,” said Kingsley. “The damage to the old place was simply awful.”

“Yes, it was,” agreed Arthur. “But you know, what with all the personal tragedies, and the people who needed help...” He sighed deeply and shook himself. “...I think we've all tended to push the physical destruction toward the back of our minds, rather. Although perhaps not you, Harry, quite as much as the rest of us.”

Harry sat, looking at nothing, for a moment. Then he focused on Alistair and me, in turn, and a corner of his mouth went up. “I...don't really know how to say it,” he said with a wry echo in his voice. “Hogwarts was such an...amazing thing for me. It was the first place I ever felt at home.” He cocked his head and somehow managed to look us both in the eye. “That's something I had in common with Tom Riddle, you know. Hogwarts was – is! – a very special place, and we both felt at home there.”

“Harry,” said Blackstone kindly, “Hogwarts is an amazing place. Ryan and I were just blown away when we saw it.” I was nodding vehemently, and he went on, “It's a treasure house of magical knowledge, upon a thousand-year foundation....entirely aside from its recent magnificent achievements in saving us all from Tom Riddle. It's obviously essential, not just for you British but for the entire Magical world, that Hogwarts be repaired and restored.”

“Kingsley told us about the donation, sir.” Harry's mouth worked, as he looked at Blackstone. “I...I literally have no words...I don't know how to say this either, what it means to all of us.” He stopped, glanced at me and looked back at Blackstone.

“Quite right,” put in Arthur, with feeling, but he too seemed at a loss for words.

“I'm just glad we can help,” said Blackstone simply. “ I could say it's not a patch on what you did...but I won't.”

“Thanks for that!” Harry smiled suddenly. “One of my best memories, ever, is the evening I arrived at Hogwarts for the first time. I've used it to make a Patronus – it makes a really good one!”

Blackstone grinned. “I'll bet it does! Ryan and I have just had that same experience, and I think I can speak for both of us...” He looked sideways at me and I was nodding again. “ say that even with all the damage, it was an incredible experience we'll remember for the rest of our lives. How was it for you, Harry? How did you first get there?”

“Well, Dumbledore placed me with my Aunt and Uncle, which kept me safe from Death Eaters and the like, growing up, but they;re Muggles, and I wasn't told about the Wizarding world. I didn't have the ghost of a clue that a place like Hogwarts could possibly exist, until Hagrid chased me down and carried me off.” I had heard about Harry's relatives, and he had quickly mentioned the outlines of this event, but Blackstone drew Harry out, with gentle, unerring skill, until we heard the whole story of how Harry discovered he was a Wizard, learned magic was real, and arrived at Hogwarts. I realized what Blackstone was doing: leading Harry back through this experience to bring us – and especially him – back out of all the sad and serious memories. It worked, too. Harry was delighted to hear we'd come across the lake, just as he had. He finished by saying happily, “...and it really was a completely overwhelming experience, especially coming straight out of the blue like that, but it was overwhelmingly wonderful.”

The next morning, Mahler brought the dawn at 7 a.m., and the heavenly smell of coffee on the sideboard brought me out of bed. Showered, shaved, breakfasted and immaculately dressed (my robes had been cleaned while I was conked out – they looked, felt, and smelled brand new), we took the Floo Network and stepped out of a fireplace at the Ministry on the dot at 8. The Witch at the desk, a cheerful plump lady in aquamarine robes, greeted us warmly and directed us to Harry's office, where we found Kingsley, Bill, Ron, Hermione, and Elliott Witherspoon.

“I thought it would be best to get you Aurors off and running – so to speak – first,” said Kingsley, “so that Alistair and I can have a good talk before he leaves. When did you want to depart, Alistair?”

“Mid-afternoon, I'm thinking,” replied Blackstone. “That'll put me in Washington with time to meet with my people and bring them up to speed, grab some dinner and have a nap before going to the White House.”

“Very good. Do please tell the President how very pleased we all are with the re-establishment of our Special Relationship. And I think you can reassure him that the general situation in the Wizarding world is now very much improved, and is only going to get better.”

“You can count on that, Kingsley...but there are still some loose ends. In particular, we still don't know what happened to the official American presence in Britain. It's a safe bet that our representatives – our former representatives, that is – are either on the run or, quite possibly, scattered over London in very tiny pieces. But we can't stop looking for them until we know for sure. What's even more embarrassing, in a way, is the fact that we've lost track of at least two hundred and twenty-five thousand Galleons.”

That startled all of us, and our faces showed it. Blackstone nodded grimly. “After you left, Ryan, Harvey Lefferson finally managed to unravel the jinxes and get into Parboil's financial records. We're still digging through them, but just before Kingsley showed up on our doorstep, Harvey told me they had discovered over a million and a half Franklins had been sent out of the country, all consigned to Pal Joey in London.”

I whistled and said, “Wow! That's a lot more...”

“-- than we thought you were going to find at Gringotts.”

“No wonder Dreadneedle was so embarrassed when I found the vault empty.”

“Yes. Of course, not all of it may have gone through Gringott's – the Goblins in New York were still stalling when I left, making noises about the 'sudden and irregular' way the Department of Magic changed hands, but a lot of it undoubtedly did. Moreover, some of that money may have been sent on to Tom Riddle's satraps in other countries, but I've got a hunch that Fangboner, Wright and Joey found it – ah, difficult to part with, once they got their hands on it. And now, I'm wondering if maybe that's what our elusive cowboy is after.”

A light dawned in my brain, but it took a few minutes of explanations before everyone else caught up with our thinking about Walpurgis Holiday.

“Who's this fellow he's descended from, Doc Holiday?” Ron wanted to know. “Was he a famous Wizard back in your wild West?”

“Well, he's famous, mostly among Muggles though,” explained Blackstone. “Even most of our people don't know he was a Wizard. He lived in the middle 19th Century, and apparently didn't have much to do with the Wizarding community after he got thrown out of school – was never fully trained in magic. He actually worked as a Muggle dentist, which is how he got the nickname 'Doc.' Mostly, though, he's known as a gunfighter – on both sides of the law – and a friend of Wyatt Earp, a well-known Muggle marshal – policeman – back in wild West days.”

“That's really weird,” said Hermione. “My parents are dentists – they're Muggles, of course – and if they were Wizards, they could do so much more, so easily, using magic.”

“Of course,” agreed Blackstone, “and Muggle dentistry was pretty primitive back then.”

“My mother told me they used to just yank out bad teeth without any anesthetic,” said Hermione in a hushed voice, “...had to have people come in and hold the patient down while they did it. Didn't even wash their hands!”

“Gross!” Ron made a face.

Blackstone chuckled. “Well, Doc Holiday had a long career for those days, and died in bed, unlike a lot of people he knew. He must have used some magic, now and again, or he wouldn't have lasted as long as he did, considering how often people tried to kill him. I never heard that he had any children, but records weren't very well kept then, and if Doc had a son who inherited his magic, that line would probably have been kept out of Muggle records entirely. And the dates fit well enough; our friend Walpurgis could be Doc's great-grandson.”

“I suppose it's possible that – Walpurgis Holiday? – what were his parents thinking? – could have come over here on some innocent business,” observed Hermione, doubtfully.

“You're bending over backwards to be fair, Hermione.” put in Elliot. “If he was chums with this Slimy Parboil, a known Death Eater...”

“And we do know he was thrown out of school, probably for using Dark Magic, and it does seem pretty dodgy that the American Department of Magic hardly had any records about him,” added Ron.

“Right you are,” said Harry. “Seems likely enough that he's up to something we should know about, at the very least.”

“I think this case ought to be a high priority for us, Harry, for our own security as well as a chance to help our American friends.” Kingsley spoke seriously, and everyone nodded. Blackstone looked grateful, and I tried to. “How would you define the problem?”

Harry looked thoughtful. “I think we've got three questions here. One, of course, is what this Holiday chap is doing in Britain. But we mustn't lose sight of the investigation Ryan originally came over to do – we haven't finished that, and it looks like it may have a relationship to the first question. I'd use two more questions: what happened to all that money, and where are the three Wizards who were here...what are their names? – Joey, and...Wright, was it? and...”

“Fangboner,” put in Ron, with a snort. “Bangarulingam Fangboner.”

Kingsley looked at Alistair. “Really?”

“Oh yeah. His mother was a Witch from India, and she named him. I knew the guy. Oily bastard – pardon my French.” Blackstone glanced at Hermione, who giggled.

“It seems to me we probably already found one of them,” I said, “the guy who didn't quite make it out of that office building. Don't know which one he was, though.”

“All three of them may have been there, trapped in that stasis spell, for all we know. If so, they're now just a bunch of smithereens.” Harry sounded bitter.

“Harry, don't start blaming yourself,” said Kingsley. “We've talked about this.”

“And if you start apologizing I'll apologize right back,” I added, “and we'll be here for hours.” That got Harry laughing, to everyone's relief.

“I know. You're right. The sticky bit is, of course, that we can't be sure they were there. We can't even be quite certain that the body we found was one of them; it could have been someone else entirely.”

“True,” said Blackstone. “I'm not entirely sure I've got everything straight in my own mind. Let me summarize the major facts as I know them. You folks correct me if I go off course.” He looked around. We all nodded and he settled back in his chair and steepled his fingers. “We know that Wright, Joey, and Ron's favorite, Fangboner, were assigned to the U.K., officially, and all had been here at least two years. Fangboner and Joey had been here four, actually; Wright was the relative newcomer. We know that they kept an office complex over on...”

“Mount Street.” Hermione was quick.

“Thank you. Mount Street, completely separate from the Embassy. We know that the Department has had a vault at Gringott's since 1819, and we know that Palindrome Joey went there and cleaned it out on...April 6th, if I remember right.”

“You do,” I confirmed. “That's what old Dreadneedle told me. And he also told me that the Ministry – which I guess means Riddle and his Death Eaters, at that time, really (Kingsley was nodding) had taken over the bank, and he was relying on Ministry records they found when the Goblins finally got back in.”

“Interesting. Nearly a month before Tom Riddle died; that was on May 2nd. But let's continue. We know that the Liason office building was blown up at some point, although it fell into some sort of 'suspended animation' stasis and the explosion didn't finish until later. We know there was at least one person there when it happened.” He cocked his head. “And that, I think, is all we have in the definite fact department. Anyone got any more?”

“We know about Wally Holly being here,” said Ron.

That got a laugh from Blackstone. “Ha! Wally Holly – oh, that's a good one. Call him that to his face, and then duck! Actually, though, we don't know that for sure. Ryan has seen him, we think, but has never met him.”

Harry said, “Let's try matching up those facts with what was happening with us and Riddle. April 6th, for instance – we had escaped from Malfoy Manor and were still staying with you and Fleur, Bill, at Shell Cottage.”

“That was just about when Teddy Lupin was born,” said Hermione softly.

“Yes,” said Harry with a strained expression, “not long after we buried Dobby. We're the only ones who remember him now, I suppose.” He sounded sad and resigned, almost bitter.

Blackstone caught my eye and I suddenly knew what he wanted me to do. “Harry, that's not true.” I tried to sound convincing. Harry looked almost annoyed, and I hurried on. “Headmistress McGonagall asked me to tell you. The house elves at Hogwarts have started to call their leader – the head elf, spokes-elf, the one they look up to – they've named that office 'the Dobby.' So there'll always be a Dobby at Hogwarts now. And what's more, she said they talk like they expect other groups of house elves, in other places, to start using the term too.”

It was a tableau. Harry looked at me, blinking. His mouth was open and the furrows between his eyebrows had disappeared. Ron's jaw had dropped, too, and his eyes were wide. Hermione clapped her hand to her mouth and shut her eyes tight. Bill, Elliott and Kingsley looked at each other, and Blackstone took them all in.

“That's amazing.” Hermione broke the silence after a moment, and we all looked at her. “Don't you see? Dobby was a free elf. You wrote that on his gravestone, Harry. But after he was freed, he had trouble getting along with the Hogwarts elves, remember? They couldn't understand his not wanting to have a master. Remember Winky? Went all to pieces when she lost her position? The other elves said Dobby wasn't properly ashamed of losing his, and they kept him at a distance, but now...but now...” She trailed off, and Blackstone spoke up.

“Now, it seems, they have realized that being a free elf isn't such a bad thing after all, and decided to honor an elf they once regarded with suspicion and distrust as a symbol of leadership. There's something very British about that, it seems to me.” Ron still looked surprised; Hermione's eyes were wet; Harry was shaking his head gently from side to side, with a smile; he looked at me and gave a little nod. I returned a wink. “But this isn't getting the cows milked!” Kingsley chuckled as Blackstone brought us back on track. “I'd really like to have a plan of action on Harry's three questions before I have to leave. Just how difficult is it likely to be to find an American cowboy Wizard somewhere in the British Wizarding world?”

“Might not be too easy, actually, if he really doesn't want to be found,” offered Elliott. We're a smaller community than yours, but there's still quite a lot of us.”

“Too right,” agreed Bill. “Especially if he's been here before, made some contacts, knows some people who don't much like the Ministry. Always have had some of those.”

“Yes,” put in Kingsley, “and you three managed to stay hidden for quite a long time with Riddle and all his Death Eaters ransacking Britain for you.”

“Mostly thanks to Hermione,” said Ron. “She was prepared for anything.”

Hermione blushed a little. “Well, we all worked together.” Ron gave her a glance that looked very grateful, and she shook her head. There was something being left unsaid, I thought, but then decided to skip it. Whatever it was didn't matter now.

“Assuming it really is Holiday, he certainly saw me at the airport,” I said. “But if it was him that I saw in Diagon Alley, he may or may not have noticed me. If he did, then he knows I'm a Wizard, but how could he know I'm connected with the Department?”

“Mmmmm...good point, but if he's over here searching for the money, he'll be wary, and suspicious of any other American Wizards, I should think,” Kingsley mused.

“You know, when I was a boy, I did some hunting with my father, and read a lot about it.” We all looked at Blackstone, who went into his lecture mode. “A hunter can search for game, and maybe find it – or in some places, they have servants called 'beaters' that push through the bush, making a lot of noise, and driving game toward the hunters. Finding old Tex by combing through the community seems like a lot of work, and if Riddle's Death Beaters didn't manage to flush you three that doesn't sound like a good method either, even if we had lots of help. But there's a third method: put out some bait, and wait for the game to come to you. People hunting tigers in India used to tie a goat to a tree and wait until the tiger came along.”

Hermione was horrified. “That's terrible! The poor goat wouldn't stand a chance!”

Blackstone grimaced. “Well, they might be able to shoot the tiger before he got to the goat. The point is, it worked. Maybe we can do something along those lines.”

“Get him looking for us? I like that,” said Elliott. “But what's the bait?”

“Easy,” said Bill at once, “the money. Make him think we've got it, or at least know where it is.”

“And I think I know how we can do that,” put in Kingsley. “Even the timing would be right. Alistair, before you leave, I was going to suggest that we give the Daily Prophet a statement, or perhaps an interview. Suppose we include some mention of the former American Liaison Committee, and their resources.”

“Yes. Of course I'm leaving, but we could say that Ryan here has been charged with recovering those...resources. If Holiday sees a picture of Ryan he would certainly recognize him, and I think he'd be strongly tempted to find out what Ryan is doing.”

“Now wait a minute,” objected Harry, “I don't much like the idea of using a friend as live bait!”

“I'm not terribly excited about it myself,” I admitted, “but it's the best idea we've come up with. Besides, I'm not exactly a poor defenseless goat, and I expect I'd be pretty well covered by some high-powered British Wizards ready to ride to my rescue.”

There was a good deal of discussion but in the end we made the decision to give it a try. The turning point in the argument came when Ron said frankly that he thought I was “bonkers” to try it, and I agreed – and then pointed out that the three of them had been equally “bonkers” to try robbing Gringott's, or break into the Chamber of Secrets, or when they went after the Philosopher's Stone as eleven-year-old students. Even Hermione had no answer to that.

The next morning, the Daily Prophet splashed the article on the front page, with a picture of Alistair and Kingsley shaking hands, and another picture of me shaking hands with Harry.


Death Eaters Routed in US Capital

Voldemort's Influence Across the Atlantic

Minister for Magic Kingsley Shacklebolt today announced that official relations with the American Wizarding community have been re-established “on a firm and entirely co-operative basis” during a visit by the new United States Secretary of Magic, Admiral Alistair Blackstone (Ret.), USN, USWMC.

In a surprisingly candid statement, Secretary Blackstone revealed the shocking news that the evil influence of the late and unlamented Tom Riddle, who called himself Lord Voldemort, had spread to the United States over a period of years, and eventually resulted in the subversion and effective takeover of the American equivalent of our Ministry of Magic, the U.S. Department of Magic. The death of Voldemort at the recent Battle of Hogwarts was the signal for a battle in the American capital, Washington D.C., led by Blackstone and a company of United States Wizarding Marines, which captured or killed a group of American Wizards, including then-Secretary of Magic Sylvester Parboil, who were found to have the Dark Mark on their arms.

The article went on to tell the outlines of the American story, and included a paragraph in which the Minister and the Secretary admitted that they had each felt embarrassed by the situation – the Americans because they hadn't helped fight Voldemort, and the Brits because the problem came from Britain in the first place. Blackstone was quoted praising the courage of those who fought and defeated Voldemort, and they both were emphatic about a new era of friendship.

Underneath this article was another, which introduced me as the Permanent Special Liaison Officer to the United Kingdom for Magical Law Enforcement Cooperation, and included a statement from Harry about how he was looking forward to working closely with me. Then there was my statement about our former Liaison Officers, who were to be arrested when found, and my mission to recover the resources (including “a substantial amount of money”) they had been misusing. I was “confident” that all that would be “accomplished promptly,” and allowed as how we were “vigourously pursuing a number of excellent leads.” The official statements were carefully written beforehand, approved by Kingsley and Alistair, and handed out as Press Releases; when the reporters (who did not include Rita Skeeter) questioned us, we responded with glittering generalities of the Mutual Admiration Society sort. There was another picture, just of me, trying to look intrepid and somehow older than I was. It was my first Press Conference, and frankly I didn't like it all that much.

Alistair then shook hands all around, grasped his TAPKey (a rather scratched-up little record with a big hole in the middle, a “single”called “Downtown” sung by someone named Petula Clark) and was gone.

I was now a public figure, and I was on my own.
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