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Old September 6th, 2009, 1:22 am
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Join Date: 09th October 2004
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Re: Butterfly Kisses (Sequel to Harry Potter and the Return to Hogwarts)

Chapter 19
The Art of Occlumency



(Hermione's PoV)

Hermione went to bed that night without dinner. Her stomach hurt so bad from the news about Herb's arrest, and she felt that if she had eaten anything, it would probably have come back up. By the time Ron had come in for bed, Hermione was still awake.

“I put your leftovers in the fridge,” Ron said, as he climbed into bed, “Since you're staying home tomorrow, I figured you needed something for lunch.”

Hermione nodded and gave a weak smile.

“Still thinking about Morrison?” Ron asked.

Hermione nodded again. Ron sighed and moved closer to Hermione. She felt him take her hand in his. His thumb rubbed across the top of it, soothingly.

“I think Morrison will be fine,” he said.

“No, he won't,” Hermione said, “It isn't some misdemeanor, Ron. He's been arrested because he has connections to Death Eaters.”

“Maybe Kingsley's wrong,” Ron said.

“I don't know,” Hermione said, “Did Kingsley ever seem to you like the type of guy to make those kind of mistakes?”

“Not really,” Ron said, shaking his head.

Hermione frowned.

“That's not helping much, is it?” Ron asked.

Hermione shook her head. Ron moved closer to her and cuddled up against her, his arms around her stomach.

“Is this helping?” he asked.

“Maybe a little,” Hermione said, smiling.

Ron chuckled.

“You know,” he said, “You could still go to the Ministry tomorrow. I imagine if Morrison's being held in the Ministry, it's in the holding cells in the Auror Headquarters.”

“The holding cells are down near the courtrooms,” Hermione said.

“Not all of them,” Ron said, shaking his head, “There are still some in the Auror Headquarters, reserved for the more important prisoners. I'm sure if Morrison is anywhere in the Ministry, he'll be in there.”

“I can't go,” Hermione said. “I'm sure Herb will spend most of the day being interrogated by Kingsley and the Aurors.”

“All right,” Ron said, “It was only an idea.”

“Oh, it's a good idea,” Hermione said, “I mean, I'd really like to speak to him. We've bonded quite well since I started working for him. But I don't think I'll get a chance.”

Hermione figured the next time she'd see Herb, it would be in one of the courtrooms. Only this time, he'd be the defendant, and another judge would be at the head of the Wizengamot.

“Okay,” Ron said, “You should probably stay home tomorrow anyway. You've been working quite hard since you got that job. You deserve a break.”

Hermione nodded, giving another weak smile. Ron leaned toward Hermione and kissed her forehead. Hermione then kissed him on the lips, and Ron returned the kiss, deepening it. Hermione could feel his tongue against hers. She cuddled closer to him, still embraced in his kiss and, for the moment at least, she had forgotten all about Herb's arrest.

-----------------------------
When Hermione woke up the next morning, she found she was alone in bed. She took a quick glance at the alarm clock. Nine-fifteen. Ron would be at work already. Hermione sat up, and she saw a small piece of parchment laying on Ron's pillow. She picked it up and read it:

Hermione,

You were still asleep when it was time for me to leave, so I put breakfast in the fridge for you. Coffee is in the pot as well, just needs to be warmed up. The Daily Prophet is on the kitchen table, as well as another letter addressed to you. Don't know who it is from. See you when I get home.

Love,
Ron

P.S. Don't worry too much about Judge Morrison. I'm sure he'll be fine.


Hermione got out of bed and headed for the bathroom. She paused for a moment in the doorway. She didn't need to go anywhere today, so she didn't have to rush things. She decided she would take a long, hot bath after breakfast, then headed for the kitchen. As Ron had said, the Daily Prophet was laying on the table. A rolled up piece of parchment was sitting on top of it. Hermione went over to the fridge. A large sausage and cheese omelette was on a plate on the top shelf. Hermione took it out and put it in the microwave and set the timer. She then walked over to the table and sat down. Deciding to read the Daily Prophet first, she set the piece of parchment aside. She found what she was looking for on the front page.

“Of course,” Hermione said, to herself, “Nothing could be bigger news than this.”

She read the headline:


HERB MORRISON ARRESTED!!!
POSSIBLE CONNECTIONS TO DEATH EATERS?



Hermione sighed and started on the article:


Wizengamot Head Judge Herb Morrison has
been quite busy ever since the Minister of Magic
started investigations against Ministry workers
about possible connections with Death Eaters.
When Morrison sentenced Ralph Fetcher to
Azkaban, he had no idea that his own name would
soon be mixed into the Minister's cauldron
of suspects.

Tuesday morning, Kingsley Shacklebolt headed
down to the courtroom level of the Ministry of
Magic. His objective? Interrogate members of
the Wizengamot concerning any possible
connection with Death Eaters. It is doubtful
that even the Minister himself even suspected
what he would discover that morning. Morrison
was called into courtroom two, while his peers
(fellow members of the Wizengamot) waited
outside for their turn in the spotlight.

Fellow member of the Wizengamot, Bea
Haven, had this to say:

“A whole slew of us waited outside the
courtroom,” Haven said. “Judge Morrison
didn't come out of that room for fifty minutes.
When he did, the only thing he had to say
was that I was next for the Minister's questioning.
Never in my life would I have expected that
Herb Morrison could have had anything to do
with Death Eaters or the Dark Arts.”

Haven, meanwhile, walked away from her
interview with the Minister unscathed. This
can't be said for Head Judge Herb Morrison.
The honorable judge was called back into
the courtroom around three in the afternoon.
When he was seen once again, almost an hour later,
he was being taken out of the courtroom by
two Aurors, as well as the Minister of Magic.
Morrison was in magical bindings and he
did not say anything as he was escorted into
the lifts.

Minister Shacklebolt, however, had this to say:

“I have been given enough evidence by
Judge Morrison himself, as well as a skilled
Legilimens,” the Minister said, “to arrest the Judge.
However, this does not mean that he has
strong connections with Death Eaters. This is
just cautionary, in fact. But he will be staying
in a holding cell overnight pending further
questioning.”

This news will come as a surprise to much
of the wizarding world. Herb Morrison is
one of the most respected wizards ever to
be placed in the Wizengamot. His arrest is
certainly most shocking to everyone who
thought they knew the Head Judge.



As soon as Hermione finished the article, the microwave beeped. Hermione took out the plate and walked back to the table. She set down the plate, then made herself a cup of coffee and started reading the piece of parchment:


Hermione,

By now, you have probably read the article about Herb in the Daily Prophet. Herb is being held in one of the holding cells in the Auror Headquarters. I visited him yesterday. The holding cells there are measurably nicer than the holding cells near the court rooms. Unfortunately, Herb didn't have much to say to me. When I asked him if he was innocent, he only shrugged and didn't answer.

I talked to Minister Shacklebolt as well. He usually lets me talk to him about stuff concerning the Wizengamot, but he refused to say much about Herb, only telling me that there are still many questions to be asked.

Court cases have been suspended until Friday. Don't be too surprised if the first defendant on Friday is Herb himself. Take care of yourself.

Talk to you soon,
Susan

P.S. I'm going to be having lunch at the Leaky Cauldron around noon today. If you want to talk about stuff, I'll be happy to lend an ear.


Hermione pushed the piece of parchment aside and took a sip of her coffee. She wondered if she should accept Susan's invitation for lunch. Ron had thought she should stay home all day, and she did have leftovers from the night before that she hadn't touched at all, and were waiting for her in the fridge. Ron would probably ask questions if the plate was still there when he got home, and if she threw it in the wastebasket, Ron would probably find out about that too.

Perhaps she could meet Susan and only have a butterbeer or something. She probably wouldn't be very long and she could have the leftovers when she returned home. It did seem like a good idea. It sounded a lot better than lounging around on the couch and watching TV all day, right? Hermione decided to eat breakfast and take that nice, long bath she was planning on. Perhaps the answer would come to her after she had relaxed in the warm water for an hour or so.

Hermione looked at Susan's letter once again. There had been something strange that Susan said that Hermione had skimmed over the first time. Herb didn't have much to say to Susan when she talked to him yesterday. That wasn't like him, as far as Hermione knew. He was usually charismatic and outgoing. He didn't hold much back. And when she asked him if he was innocent, he didn't answer. Did that mean that he wasn't, in fact, innocent? If so, did it mean he was also ashamed about the whole thing? Or did he just not want to talk about the whole thing to anyone but the Minister?

She decided that these questions were too important to leave unanswered. And if she couldn't talk to Herb about it, and if there was no possible chance she could talk to Shacklebolt about it, there was only one choice left. She would meet Susan for lunch. There had to be a reasonable explanation about the whole thing. Herb Morrison was not the type of person who could possibly be connected to Death Eaters. Especially when he was the type of man who put people like them away in prison. He'd be the first person to tell you the consequences of something like that. Hadn't he just sent someone to Azkaban for fifteen years because of that same exact thing?

Hermione finished her omelette quickly, washed the dish and proceeded to the bathroom to fill the water for her bath. Suddenly her day, that had started with the thought of staying home, had become a lot busier.

----------------------------
At noon, Hermione arrived at the Leaky Cauldron via Floo Network. Susan was sitting in a shadowy corner at the other end of the restaurant. She was sipping on a bottle of butterbeer when Hermione walked over to her and sat down across from her.

“You got my letter, then,” Susan said.

“Yeah,” Hermione said.

“I just ordered me something,” Susan said, “I didn't know if you would want anything.”

“Oh, it's okay,” Hermione said, “I'm not very hungry. I had a late breakfast.”

Susan chuckled.

“It's been a while since I've had a late breakfast,” Susan said, “I'm so used to getting up around five-thirty and being down in the courtrooms at eight-o-clock on the dot. Even on the weekends, I'm up at five-thirty. My career has given me a... what do Muggles call it? What wakes you up?”

“Alarm clock?” Hermione asked.

“Yeah,” Susan said, “It's like I have an alarm clock in my head or something. I'm afraid it might be early-age insomnia or something.”

Susan chuckled again.

“How long have you been working for Herb?” Hermione said.

“Since about a month after graduation,” Susan said, “Auntie Amelia knew how much I wanted to work for the Wizengamot, just like her. Before she died, I was set to be her new assistant. When she died, I was still promised the job. And that's the story about how I got where I am today.”

“So you know Herb pretty well?” Hermione asked.

“Yeah,” Susan said, then frowned, “Or I thought I did.”

“You think he isn't innocent then?” Hermione asked.

“I don't know,” Susan said, and Hermione noticed she looked flustered, “When I got to know Herb, I started to idolize him. I thought he was the kind of person I wanted to be.”

“So you want to be a judge?” Hermione asked.

“Yeah,” Susan said, “It's mostly all I ever wanted to do, even when I was in Hogwarts. Every day at Hogwarts, I'd hear students say 'I want to be an Auror when I get out of here', or 'I want to be a professional Quidditch player' or 'I want to tame dragons overseas'. I never wanted any of that. I just wanted to be a judge like my Auntie Amelia. Ever since I became Herb's assistant, I just watched him go through his court cases, no matter how big or small they were. No matter how much attention he got from the media, he never let it get to his head. And he never let any defendant get to him.”

“Susan,” Hermione said, “You're talking as if Herb is dead.”

“Of course he isn't dead,” Susan said, “But it doesn't mean his career isn't.”

At that moment, Tom walked over with Susan's order. He then looked at Hermione.

“What can I get you?” he asked her.

“Oh, just a butterbeer,” Hermione said, “Thanks.”

With his wand, he summoned a butterbeer from the bar. It landed in front of Hermione. She paid him for it.

“Thanks, Tom,” she said again.

Tom smiled and returned to the bar.

“What makes you think Herb's career is dead?” Hermione asked Susan, as if their conversation hadn't been interrupted by Tom the barman.

“You did read my whole letter, right?” Susan asked her.

“Of course,” Hermione said.

“If Herb was innocent,” Susan said, “We'd be on our normal schedules like usual. A court case in the morning, and a court case after lunch. Now we don't have a court case until Friday, and it looks like it will be against Herb. I'm meeting his replacement tomorrow afternoon.”

“Anything could happen between now and Friday, Susan,” Hermione said.

“That is quite optimistic, Hermione,” Susan said, “But, no offense, it's coming from somebody who hasn't known Herb Morrison very long. You don't know how much this has changed him.”

“Of course I'm optimistic!” Hermione almost screamed, “You should be too. He has spent his whole career sending people to Azkaban for the same exact thing he has been charged for. He would have known the consequences. There has to be a reasonable explanation.”

“Like what?” Susan asked.

“Well, what do we know right now?” Hermione asked, “Kings – Minister Shacklebolt is investigating the pasts of Ministry workers, trying to find any connection to Death Eaters. We know he has help with it too. He has an Auror, who is a skilled Legilimens, accompanying him when he feels he has found an important lead. Ralph Fetcher's mind was searched by the Legilimens too.”

Hermione's eyes brightened. What if –?

“Susan,” she said, “You said Herb is a Legilimens, right?”

“Yeah,” Susan said.

“Would the Minister of Magic know this?” Hermione asked.

“I don't know,” Susan said, “Maybe. Most of the Wizengamot knows, but they are his closest friends. What are you getting at, anyway?”

“If Herb is a Legilimens,” Hermione said, “Then maybe he is skilled in Occlumency as well.”

“It's possible,” Susan said.

“Well,” Hermione said, “Those who are skilled in Occlumency train themselves to block Legilimency. We know that Minister Shacklebolt brought in that Auror when he interrogated Herb. If Herb had anything to hide, don't you think he would have wanted to block the Legilimens from that information. Especially if it had anything to do with what the Minister was looking for?”

“What are you saying?” Susan asked, “So now you believe Herb has these dark connections and now he wants to hide them?”

“Well,” Hermione said, “Minister Shacklebolt said that he needed to interrogate Herb more. We already know he interrogated him twice. Maybe the Minister thinks that Herb was blocking his mind from the Legilimens, and that means that the Minister thinks that Herb is trying to hide something.”

“But you said that Herb would only block his mind,” Susan said, “If he had something to hide.”

“I want to find out what that is,” Hermione said, “I have a feeling Herb is not as guilty as the Minister believes he is.”

“It's impossible,” Susan said, “I told you. Herb wouldn't talk to me.”

“When did you try to talk to him?” Hermione asked.

“Last night after he was put in the holding cell,” Susan said.

“And when did the Minister want to interrogate him again?” Hermione asked.

“This morning,” Susan said, “He's probably done now.”

“Did Herb know this?” Hermione asked.

“Yeah, of course,” Susan said, “What are you getting at?”

“I don't think Herb was ignoring you, Susan,” Hermione said. “You said he shrugged his shoulders at one point, right?”

“Yeah,” Susan said, “When I asked him if he was innocent.”

“I believe,” Hermione said, “he was meditating.”

“Meditating?” Susan asked.

“Witches and wizards skilled in Occlumency,” Hermione said, “have to train their minds to strengthen their power. I think that when you went to speak with him, he was in the middle of that exact process.”

“He had his eyes open the whole time, Hermione,” Susan said, “Don't you think --”

“Was there a guard watching him?” Hermione interrupted.

“All the time,” Susan said, and Hermione heard a sob come to her voice, “The Auror said that he – he was on –on suicide watch.”

“Rubbish,” Hermione said, “The Minister instructed him to say that.”

“Are you sure?” Susan asked.

“If Shacklebolt even suspected that Herb was skilled in Occlumency,” Hermione said, “he would have had a guard watching him. Of course, Herb would have known this, and if he was going to meditate, he would have to keep his eyes open.”

“He could have feigned sleeping,” Susan said.

“Not if he was sitting up,” Hermione said.

“So if Herb was using Occlumency,” Susan said, “What did he want to hide?”

“That, Susan,” Hermione said, “Is exactly what I want to find out.”

------------------------------
Okay, I know this chapter was a little short. But that is only because I want to put the next part in a whole new chapter. Now, I'm not entirely sure about the process of Occlumency, but I thought that what Hermione explained might have been pretty close. Also, I know I might be making Kingsley sound a little menacing, but it's just because of his investigation.

Feedback would be great!


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