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Old November 24th, 2010, 1:15 pm
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Join Date: 02nd August 2007
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Age: 50
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era PART II

Chapter 4 – Brick Walls

“Harry Potter to see you, Minister.” His secretary’s voice was tinny through the rubber tube affixed to the box on his desk. Scuttleburn rose from his high backed chair and pulled down on the hem of his suit coat, smoothing out imaginary wrinkles. He was tall, nearly six foot five with a narrow face and a long, angular nose. His eyes were narrowly set and were dark brown, bordering on black. He tended to accentuate his height by raising his chin up, looking down on people as if they were his students. He took a deep breath and grasped the end of the tube his hand.

“You may send him in.” He spoke in a deep baritone with the barest whisper of an Irish lilt in his voice.

The door opened and Harry entered his office with a grim look on his face. The Minister waved Harry to one of the chairs in front of his desk. As Harry sat, the Minister perched atop the edge of the desk, his hands clasped in front of him.

“So, Harry, what brings you to me?” The Minister made his best effort to look concerned.

“Minister, we’ve had run ins with people who proclaim themselves to be Deatheaters.” Harry sat with his legs crossed, making his own best effort to appear calm. “We’ve managed to capture a couple of them and I have to tell you that we may have a larger threat than we thought.”

Scuttleburn rose and started pacing, his hands clasped firmly behind his back. “I don’t have to tell you, Harry, the number of times over the years we’ve been faced with wizards and crackpots who fancy themselves the next dark lord or the next wave of Deatheaters.”

“I agree, sir, you don’t need to tell me, but this is different. One of the men downstairs is Aloysius Gibbon.” The Minister paused and looked at Harry with a question in his gaze. Harry nodded. “He was one of Voldemort’s Deatheaters that was killed at the Battle of Hogwarts.”

“Nonsense. It’s polyjuice or some other transformation charm.” Scuttleburn’s face wrinkled up like he’d just tasted a lemon. “Someone is leading us on, trying to derail our reform efforts.”

Harry did his best to hide a sigh. “Minister, we have a problem here. I’m not saying that Voldemort is back, but we can’t deny something sinister is going on. Gibbon is real. The Office of Aurors has enough counter spells and charms to defuse effects of any polyjuice potion or any transformation charm. Whoever the man downstairs is, he truly believes he’s Aloysius Gibbon.”

“Wrong!” The Minister stopped pacing and extended a long, bony finger towards Harry. “This is some political move to throw off what we’re trying to accomplish. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of these ‘missing’ wizards and witches are part of the same plot.”

Harry stared at the Minister in disbelief. “Vicky Frobisher is part of the opposition, is she?” Harry knew his tone was more insubordinate than he wanted, but the battle on the dock had been for keeps, not some sort of show.

“Vicky? What of her?” The Minister asked warily.

Harry rose from his seat and pushed his face closer to the Minister’s. “She’s gone missing. Her flat is ransacked. Maybe she’s part of your conspiracy?”

Scuttleburn stepped backward and felt his way to his chair. Vicky Frobisher had been a “true believer” in his campaign, one of his closest confidants and one of the main drivers in his election staff. Harry took a deep breath and started walking for the door. He stopped and turned before he left.

“We’ve got a serious situation here, Minister. This isn’t some science experiment. This is real life. People are dying and people are missing and we need to stop it. The best case scenario is that someone is playing a sick joke for some personal gain. The worst case?” Scuttleburn looked up at Harry, a grimace on his face. Harry nodded. “The worst case is that somehow there was a horcrux we missed and Voldemort is back. How prepared are you to handle the worst case, Minister?”

“That’s a lot to digest, Mr. Potter. How do I know that this isn’t some scam you’re putting together to keep your status as a living legend alive? After all, it’s no secret that you’ve been opposed to my administration from the start. This could all be about politics, couldn’t it?”

It was Harry’s turn to frown. His emerald eyes burned hot and captured the Minister in an airtight gaze. “Minister, unlike you, I have no craving for power and frankly, I was hoping for a relatively boring life.” Absently, Harry’s hand reached up and touched the scar atop his forehead. “I pray that I’m wrong. I really hope that this is one sick hoax, but I’ve seen too much in my lifetime to disregard the worst case. Where magic is involved, the worst case is often the most viable case. I’ll keep you informed of what we find.”

Harry turned and left the room. Behind him, the Minister stood and mumbled. “You do that, Potter.”

***

Ron and Mortimer entered the interrogation room and sat across the table from Gibbon. The seemingly resurrected Deatheater glowered with hatred at the pair, but his eyes seemed to bore right into Ron.

“You’re one of them Weasley brats, aren’t you, another one of them mudblood lovers.” Gibbon practically spat out the words. A trace of anger grasped Ron but he calmed himself as Mortimer gave a surreptitious tug on his robe.

“You’re quite a mystery, Aloysius.” Mortimer said conversationally. “You seem pretty spry for a dead man.”

Gibbon snarled. “What are you talking about? You’ve made quite the mistake in holding me. The Dark Lord will be about shortly, and you’ll be sorry.”

“Mr. Gibbon,” sighed Mortimer, “you are aware that the Dark Lord is dead, right? He died over thirty years ago.”

“Blasphemer! Mudblood lovers!” Gibbon strained at the restraints, as if willing himself to reach them.

Ron laughed. “You’re way out of touch, boyo. In fact, you died at the Battle of Hogwarts, too.” Ron stood and placed his hands on the table. “So the real question is what the blazes are you doing here, Gibbon?”

“Liars! This is some kind of trick. You’re trying to make me betray the Dark Lord.” He sat back and stared at them. “I’ll show you.” To their surprise, he smiled.

Ron studied him and then shouted. “Stop him!” Ron’s warning was a half second too late. Gibbon bit down on the fake tooth in the back of his mouth. The vial insides broke, releasing a powerful toxin. He was dead before Ron could get to him.

The door opened and Harry and Williamson burst in. Harry stared at the open eyed dead man and then shook his head. “We prepared for magic, when it’s the simple things that usually win out.”

Ron frowned. “Sorry, Harry. I had no idea. He was our only lead.”

Harry put a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “No, Ron, we’ve got another to follow, but leave it for tomorrow. I’ve got to send an owl. I want you to get your team together and be ready for a trip.”

“Why not leave now?” Ron asked.

“We’re tired, Ron, both of us. We’ll go tomorrow.” Harry sighed. “Right now, I just want to go home.”

***

Harry dropped his satchel beside the front door and shrugged his arms out of his robe. He tossed it at a nearby coat stand, which extended a wooden arm and caught it, bringing it back to its repose. He shuffled more than walked down the hall and entered the kitchen, which was abuzz with a stew boiling on the stove and a diminutive and aging house elf perched on a stool cutting away at some vegetables. Kreacher had a frilly apron tied around his waist and he was mumbling to himself, as was his wont.

“Hello, Kreacher.” Harry said and sat wearily at the kitchen table.

“Master Harry looks terrible, if Kreacher may be so bold.” Harry smiled as a cup and saucer of hot tea appeared in front of him.

“I do look horrible, Kreacher. Where’s Ginny?” Harry sipped on his tea.

“Mistress Ginerva has not returned from work yet, Master.” Kreacher paused and stared up at the ceiling, as if staring out into space. “Ah, but she is arriving, even as Kreacher speaks.”

There was a snap and clap of thunder on the open terrace outside the kitchen. Soon enough, the outside door opened and Harry’s wife of over twenty years stepped in their home. Harry leaned back and sipped his tea. The years had been extraordinarily good to Ginny. She walked in and dropped her backpack near the door. She still played pick up games of Quidditch with some of the teams she interviewed, and she still had an graceful, athletic quality about her. She wore what she called her “skinny” jeans, which fit her legs snugly and a looser, flowing white blouse which offset the fiery crimson of her long Weasley hair. Her face was just beginning to show the emergence of smile lines, yet she looked for the most part, as if she hadn’t aged at all. When she looked at him, she smiled and his heart stopped in his chest. Her soft brown eyes twinkled as they captured his and for a brief moment, he forgot the troubles of the day as the love of his life walked over and kissed him full on the lips.

“You’re back.” She said quietly, as they finally broke their embrace. She leaned her mouth close to his ear, close enough for him to catch the barest hint of lilacs in her hair. “I missed you.” She whispered.

“I missed you, too.” He replied. There was a tone, a quality in his voice that caused Ginny to pause. She stood straight.

“What is it? What’s happened? Is James all right?” Her questions were rapid fire, as if he were some hostile witness she was interviewing.

“James is fine. Everyone is fine. It’s just that I feel like something bad is coming our way, something familiar.” He proceeded to fill her in on the events of the past evening. She’d known, of course, about the disappearances, the spike in blood violence, but the appearance of Deatheaters caused Ginny feel both anxious and angry. She was always one with a quick temper.

“What are you going to do? I mean, it’s absurd, Voldemort is dead and all of his horcruxes are destroyed. This has got to be some sort of hoax.” She added.

Harry shrugged. “Part of me hope it is. I just don’t know. Tomorrow, I’m going to find some answers. I’m going to Azkaban.”

“The Malfoys?” Ginny asked, and Harry nodded.

Harry stood and pulled her in his arms. “I’ve got to figure this out as soon as possible.”

She saw an expression on his face, one she hadn’t seen in a very long time. It was one of pain, mixed with duty, mixed with resignation and determination. It worried her. She reached a hand up and touched his cheek.

“What is it, Harry?” She asked.

Harry took her hand in his and pulled it up to his forehead, lifting his bangs and revealing his scar. It was darker, more noticeable. “It’s just that the pain has started again. I’ve only felt this pain in my head when Riddle was alive. My scar hurts, Ginny. It hurts just like it did before. It’s just like it was before.”

The couple held each other, against the fear. Meanwhile, a chastened Kreacher worked on their dinner with an added gusto.

***

It seemed as if the weather had taken a turn for the worse over the past couple of weeks. The woman left her office and turned to lock the door, all the while holding her umbrella high against the persistent rain. She fumbled with the keys and then muttered a curse. She took a quick look around and then spoke a quick spell, locking the door without needing the key. She turned from the door and walked onto the sidewalk. Her pace was brisk.

She’d opted to work late, mostly trying to avoid walking in the rain, but finally, she decided to brave the elements and head home. She continued and then stopped. Something wasn’t right. This part of London wasn’t run down. In fact, it was very upper middle class, yet a chill ran down her spine and she turned and picked up her pace. She felt, rather than heard someone behind her and the faster she walked, the greater the sense she felt she was being followed.

Being a former athlete, her strides were long and confident. Slowly, she reached her hand inside her purse and drew her wand. She made a sudden stop and whirled around, wand up.

“Homenum Rovelio!” Her voice echoed against the empty street and she was rewarded by a flash of sparks as the glamour charms burst on four hooded figures almost ten feet behind her. She felt her breath catch in her lungs. These weren’t just wizards. They were dressed like Deatheaters. She’d seen and fought too many of their kind, in the past. She snapped her wrist, sending a blinding white light towards the approaching wizards. Then she turned and ran.

She rounded a corner and headed down a side street. She had long dropped her umbrella. She needed to apparate. She concentrated, but nothing happened. She made another turn and headed down that street. Her thoughts were on her office. It was a good practice by wizards and witches who lived among muggles to have an emergency port key. Hers was back in her office. If she could double back, she could make it to the Ministry, where her port key sent people.

She felt heat and flash of light as an errant charm flew past her. She half turned and sent a returning spell and was rewarded by a shout of pain. She’d struck one of her pursuers. She slid around another corner and turned back up the street to her office. She shouted another spell and created a giant wall behind her. Then she ran up the stairs to her office and waved the doors open. Her port key was an ancient copy of the “Physicians’ Desk Reference” on her book shelf. She reached up for and then felt a powerful force pick her and throw her across the room. Groggy, she lifted her head and saw a woman black robes seated comfortably in an easy chair in her waiting room. Smoke still trailed from her wand. The woman, who seemed familiar to her, smiled, and aimed her wand at her.

“I’ll give you this, Alicia Spinnet, you are a clever half blood, but not quite clever enough.” The woman rose and froze Alicia in place. Her smile turned into a sneer. Her voice dropped. “You dare use these muggle tricks to addle to brains of true wizards? That alone should merit you a death warrant.” The woman bent down and picked up Alicia’s dropped wand.

“You are a half blood freak! You try to corrupt pure blooded wizards with your ‘medicine’.” The woman stared at Alicia with contempt and anger. “We shall have to make a special example of you, Alicia.”

The woman cackled and raised her wand.

“You will be a special example indeed.” She hissed and shouted. “Crucio!”

Outside, the other Deatheaters stood guard in the rain while Alicia Spinnet’s screams echoed in the night.


A/N: Part of me wonders how many of you blood thirsty readers will actually be sad about this turn of events. Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Sorry for only one installment this week, but it is a holiday in the states and I had to take my kids to see Deathly Hallows more than once...woo hoo!

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My Fanfics:
A History of Magic: Part II - Beyond the Epilogue
Teddy Lupin and the Legacy of the Marauders ; A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era (on hiatus); You Are Cordially Invited... (First Attempt)
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