Ginny's House

Investigative Techniques

They stood around the Pensieve while Harry recounted the day's events. Neither the Minister nor the Head Auror spoke until Harry was finished.

"How do we get it out of Hogwarts?" was Kingsley's first question.

"The best I can tell you," Harry answered, "is that we simply pick it up and carry it to the Ministry in a lorry. But I know there are a hundred questions and I can't answer any of them."

"We should bring in someone from the Ninth Level," said Saliyah to Kingsley, referring to the Department of Mysteries. "That's what Minerva wanted in the first place."

The Minister turned his gaze back to the Pensieve. Harry noted that he and Saliyah were wearing formal Muggle attire, a very elegantly tailored suit for him and a form-fitting dress for her. Saliyah noticed Harry observing them. "We were at a reception for the Muggle Minister at The Tate," she said. "It and he were quite boring, so thanks for getting us away." She grinned.

"What about all these guards?" Kingsley waved his hand to include Parvati and Tony. "Isn't it a bit too much? Is it all right with you, Filius?"

"It's true that there are times when privacy is needed in here," the professor said. "On the other hand, it would be terrible if even more unpleasant things happened."

"I would strongly object to removing the guard," Saliyah said. "We'll be moving the Pensieve as soon as possible, and if Professor Flitwick has to hold a private conversation, I'm sure he can devise a way to keep the guards from hearing."

Flitwick bowed his head, and Kingsley grunted. "Fine, you two work it out. Meanwhile, I'll talk to Croaker."

An Unspeakable, Harry shot back to Ginny when her question came into his mind. I'll tell you later.

Shacklebolt and Flitwick discussed the events of the day for a few more minutes. The Minister took Saliyah's arm and started to leave, but the Head Auror held back. "I need to talk to Harry, Kingsley. Give us a minute."

Shacklebolt went down the spiral staircase while, outside the door at the top, Saliyah pulled Harry aside; she beckoned for Ginny to join them. "You did extremely well, my friend," she said to Harry. "When we first got here, I was puzzled by the double guard, but it's exactly what the circumstances call for. Can I suggest that you get more people up to Hogsmeade and rotate the watch?"

Harry couldn't help but feel pleased by Saliyah's words, and he felt as well as saw Ginny's eyes smile. "I was considering that. I'll also have Ron check out the room for anything out of the ordinary."

"Good. You concern yourself with that and with keeping the castle secure. Let the Mystery folks worry about the Pensieve itself. When they decide how they want to move it, though, you'll be in overall charge. We're returning to the Ministry now and we'll make the arrangements." Saliyah sighed. "Things have been so quiet for so long, and it's too bad that when something happened, it happened here. This is the last place we need trouble."

She left, and Harry and Ginny went back inside. Harry told the two guards to rotate with Katie and Seamus every two hours, and to mix up the parings if they wanted. Professor Flitwick asked if he could supply the guards with chairs and refreshments, and Harry accepted with thanks. He and Ginny left after promising that other Aurors would relieve them later in the afternoon.

On their way down to the library Harry told her that Amander Croaker was one of only two Unspeakables who survived the Death Eater regime six years ago. There had been four at the time: Croaker; the unfortunate Broderick Bode who was assassinated in St. Mungo's with Devil's Snare; Demetrius Cawper who was killed by Voldemort himself as he tried to defend the locked room in the Department of Mysteries, the one that Dumbledore had told Harry contained the most powerful magic of all, love; and Julia Sprout, a cousin of Professor Sprout's.

"I was surprised that Riddle tried to get into that locked room," he said, "but Dumbledore told me he probably wanted to destroy whatever was in there."

In the library they found Ron snoozing at a table with his head on his folded arms, next to Hermione who was hidden behind a huge stack of books.

"I remembered something in Hogwarts, A History, which led me to a couple of other sources." She indicated the pile in front of her; there were at least a dozen leather-bound tomes, most of them old and well-worn. She glanced around and lowered her voice. "I haven't found anything about its origins yet, but the Pensieve seems to have appeared and disappeared from Hogwarts several times over the centuries."

Harry's eyebrows rose. "That's interesting. Professor Maxime said there was a Pensieve at Beauxbatons once, but it disappeared and they never got it back."

Hermione stared at him. "That's too coincidental. It has to be the same one."

"And, she also said they were rare, just like you thought."

"I'll have to talk to her."

"What about all those . . . malfunctions?" Harry asked, searching for a word. "Is there anything written about the Pensieve going nutters."

Hermione chuckled. "I haven't found anything, but I'm just getting started."

Harry poked Ron, who sat up with a start. "Dinner time?" He looked at Harry. "I'm not officially on duty, so you can't report me for sleeping."

"It's official now. Call your team together and give McGonagall's office a complete going-over." He put his hand on Ron's shoulder. "I'm sorry, mate. I know it messes up your weekend, but we have to do it as soon as possible."

"On those who lead falls the heaviest burden." Ron heaved himself up with a sigh. "Just think, I could have been my Dad's assistant and spent all my weekends charming Muggle you-pots to work without batteries."

"Those are iPods, dear," Hermione tisked, "and you don't have any music to play on them, anyway."

"That's what magic is for." He stretched and yawned. "Well, it's off to work. Should I use school owls?" He looked at Harry, who had sat down and was writing on a parchment taken from a stack in front of Hermione. He handed it to Ron.

"Ernie is duty officer at the Ministry. Send this to him. It's instructions to organize a detail so we can rotate the guards upstairs. And use Post Office owls. The paperwork will be easier when you apply for reimbursement for the postage."

"When I apply? I have to lay out the gold? What kind of leadership is that? Honestly."

Harry laughed. "Hermione, he's sounding more like you every day. Good work."

"It's my pleasure," said Hermione, smiling slightly but not glancing up from the book she was leafing through. "My gift to the wizarding world."

"My own wife hates me," Ron said loudly as he left the library. The other three grinned at each other.

"Now what, sweetie?" Ginny asked after a moment.

"I want to take a look at Firenze's classroom. Why don't you come with me?"

Hermione waved from behind her wall of books and they went up to the Divination classroom on the ground floor, off the entrance hall. The door was not locked. Neither of them had been there for years, but they remembered it vividly. It felt like being in a forest. A soft breeze rustled the leaves in the overhead branches. Under their feet, however, the grass was trampled into the ground, which was scarred with deep hoof prints as though a centaur had tried to tear it up. When they looked closely at the trees, they saw that many branches had been ripped down and flung across the room.

They walked to the cleared space in the center where Firenze would gather the class to observe the stars and planets on the magical ceiling. But when they looked up, it was blank. It looked like the sky of a cloudy, overcast day. It was almost solid gray with a few darker patches.

"That's a little scary," Harry said as they peered up. "I wonder if that's the cause of his anger."

"Or the result."

"Maybe we—I should try to find him."

Harry didn't need to look at Ginny to know what she thought of that idea. "Okay," he said, "you're right. That wouldn't be too smart. So let's go find Trelawney."

They climbed to the base of the North Tower on the seventh floor. The ladder was there, dangling from the open door above, but Harry took out his wand and in a moment Ginny was floating upward. She scrambled through the door and returned the favor for Harry.

They stood at the entrance to the Divination classroom and tried to see into the dimly lit chamber. They could see the shelves that lined the walls holding teacups and other Divination materials. There were a few dozen small, round tables with armchairs and pouffes around them. In a chintz armchair next to the fire, humming loudly and waving a bottle of cooking sherry in time to the music, sat Sibyll Trelawney.

After a glance at each other, Harry and Ginny entered. They were immediately hit by the old, familiar fumes billowing from a copper kettle bubbling on the fireplace. Harry waved his hand to dissipate the saccharin-sweet odor as they wended their way around the tables. The professor didn't notice them until they stood directly in front of her.

"Ah, Mr. and Mrs. Potter." She peered at them through her thick eyeglasses; her words were slurred and she swayed in the chair. She waved her bottle at them and several layers of shawls fluttered in the air. "Am I to assume that this is a social call? I don't remember seeing either of you here in, hmm, let me see . . . seven or eight years. But vague as my memory is of the past, the future is absolutely clear to me."

She staggered to her feet and pushed past them, stumbling to one of the round tables on which sat a crystal ball. She bent over for a moment, moving her hand across it, then looked back at Harry and leered. "As I expected. The void opens up before you and eternity awaits."

She straightened, but lost her balance and collapsed into a chair. Harry sighed and walked to her. "Professor." He tapped her shoulder and her head, which had been drooping to her chest, snapped up.

"Yes, my son? How are you feeling?"

"I'm fine, Professor. Thanks for asking. I was wondering if you knew anything about what happened to Professor Firenze. He left the castle—"

"Hah! It's not a social visit!" She sprang up, causing Harry to jump back and bump into Ginny who was standing behind him. They both stumbled and almost fell onto a table, but Harry caught her and steadied them both.

Trelawney raised her arms in a gesture of triumph, and the bottle flew out of her grasp. With a speed that startled her visitors, she whipped out her wand and stopped it in mid-flight just as it was about to smash into the wall. She Summoned it back, snatched it out of the air, and drained it in one long chug as Harry and Ginny watched, fascinated.

"Ahh." She wiped her mouth, hiccupped, and fell back into the chair. "Off to the glue factory, I expect. Or maybe it's opening day at Ascot. Yes, that's it. The first race goes off at two o'clock if I remember correctly, so he had plenty of time to get there for the paddock parade." Once again a wave of mirth from Ginny washed over Harry's mind.

"Do you know why he was so angry?" Harry asked the professor. He didn't expect a coherent answer, but he had to try.

"Probably because he hates being a horse." She threw her head back and broke into hysterical laughter, but suddenly went silent and started snoring loudly. She was sprawled in the chair, her legs splayed in front, her arms falling over the sides; her eyes were closed and her mouth was open. The empty bottle lay on the floor next to the chair.

"That was entertaining," Ginny giggled.

"Why the hell does she still teach here?" Harry wondered as they Levitated each other back down to the foot of the ladder. "She doesn't need protection anymore."

"She was always close to Professor McGonagall," Ginny said.

"I suppose. Well," he grinned at her, "that lead didn't exactly pan out."

"What now?"

"I have to get back to Professor McGonagall's office. Ron should be back soon." They stopped in front of the stone gargoyle. "Why don't you go back home? Nothing else is going to happen here."

They decided to ask Ron and Hermione to stay for dinner, and Ginny left after a goodbye kiss. Harry watched her until she disappeared around a corner, and went up to the office.

The four guards were sitting on chairs chatting outside the door. They greeted Harry and told him that Ron had returned with his investigators and was inside. Harry went in and found his friend with two other Aurors, Tom Trenton, a Hufflepuff two years older than Harry, and Dennis Creevey, in his third and final year as a trainee. The three of them were walking around the room, pausing every few feet to make a pass with their wands over furniture, walls, portraits, and cats. Professor Flitwick was not there. Harry didn't enter the room but stood in the doorway. He greeted Tom and Dennis, and asked Ron if they had found anything yet.

"Nothing," said Ron. "It's clean as a whistle. The only spell we can clearly identify is under the desk and has something to do with hairballs."

Harry chuckled. "What about the Pensieve? We used it just this morning. There has to be something there."

Ron frowned. "That's the big puzzle. There's no trace of magic, except what's actually inside the thing. As far as we can tell, no magic was used near it within the last week."

"That's impossible."

"I know. We've used every technique and Revealing spell I know. Maybe we should get Remington up here." Anna Remington worked for the Wizengamot but taught Evidence Analysis in the training program for the Auror Department. She also occasionally helped out with investigations in the field.

Harry stepped back outside the door. "Parvati, go to the Post Office and send an owl to Anna Remington and ask her to come up as soon as she can. And send one to Ernie too. Tell him we've asked Anna to come."

Parvati left and Harry went inside the office. He went over to the Pensieve and used Specialis Revelio at several places around the object. He came up blank.

"That's exactly what we got every time," Ron said.

"Why did Flitwick leave?" Harry asked. "Maybe he can try."

"He said he was expecting a visitor."

"A visitor? Who?"

"He didn't say. But certainly there's nothing unusual about that."

Harry gave him a little smile. "One of the things you told me before I joined the program was that there are no coincidences. Let's go see the visitor. Keep looking," he said to Dennis and Tom.

Upstairs at Professor Flitwick's office they knocked on the door and heard the squeaky voice bid them enter.

Harry had been in this office only a few times, all of them during Ginny's seventh year when he took private Charms lessons from the Professor. It had a high, vaulted ceiling with bookshelves lining the walls, except for the back end near the desk, where windows went all the way up to the ceiling. Where there were no bookcases there were dozens of paintings of fairies, all of them flitting in and out of their frames. Most of them watched as Harry and Ron walked to the desk.

Flitwick was sitting behind it on a high stool. In front sat a stocky wizard with thinning hair dressed in informal robes. He rose when they came into the room and smiled; he looked vaguely familiar to Harry. He glanced at Ron and knew that Ron also had seen him someplace.

Flitwick stood up on his stool. "Harry, have you found anything, any explanations? Oh, I beg your pardon. This is Mr. Chadwick Chamberlain, an old colleague and friend. Chad, meet Mr. Harry Potter and Mr. Ronald Weasley. They were both students of mine, and excellent ones at that." His voice trailed off slightly when he gestured at Ron.

Mr. Chamberlain bowed and extended his hand, first to Harry then to Ron. "I am delighted," he said, shaking both of theirs enthusiastically. "We are related, you know. Do you recognize me?"

"Ah!" Ron snapped his fingers. "You were at Fleur's wedding. Weren't you there with one of her aunts?"

Chamberlain beamed. "Yes! My wife Patience, Patience Delacour, or I should say Chamberlain," he laughed a little self-consciously.

"Pleased to meet you," Harry said.

He studied the man's face for a moment. He liked to memorize faces and tie them to a name; it was a trick he had learned from one of his professors in the Auror training program. This face was open and friendly. Chamberlain had blue eyes and contrasting dark hair, and he seemed relaxed and happy. Harry smiled to himself, thinking that any normal man married to a veela would probably be happy most of the time; Bill Weasley certainly was.

Harry turned to Flitwick. "I'm sorry Professor, we haven't found anything yet. We were wondering if you could give us a hand sometime today." He didn't want to say more than he had to in front of the stranger.

Chamberlain looked at him curiously and was about to speak, but Harry said, "It's an investigation, Mr. Chamberlain, and I'm not at liberty to talk about it. I'm sure you understand."

"Of course." He inclined his head again and sat. "Filius, if you need to go help these gentlemen, I can wait. I can even come back later. As you know I'll be in Britain for another week or two." He gave Harry a smile.

"Would you like me to come right away?" Flitwick asked Harry.

"I would appreciate that. It shouldn't take more than half an hour."

The Charms professor climbed down from his stool and gestured to a bookshelf. "Make yourself at home and browse while I'm gone, Chad."

He followed Harry and Ron to the door. As soon as it was closed behind them Harry gave Ron a signal not to talk and turned to Flitwick.

"Professor, you said he was a colleague. Where do you know him from?"

"Yes, he used to teach Charms at Beauxbatons. That's where he met his wife, I believe. He was an excellent teacher and is a fine wizard. We collaborated on several papers for various journals, both in Britain and France."

"He was a teacher?"

"He retired a few years ago, I believe it was after the marriage of your brother, Bill. It was rather strange, actually. He decided to go into the joke business, of all things. I'm sure your brother George knows him."

They were rising up the spiral staircase and Harry remained silent. Three guards stood outside the door; Parvati had not returned from Hogsmeade yet. Inside, Tom and Dennis were still moving around the room, inspecting with their wands.

"Still nothing," Tom announced. "There are traces of some medical charms back there," he indicated the room where Professor McGonagall had lain on the settee, "but nothing in here." He looked at Harry and Flitwick.

The professor took out his wand. "Tell me all the Revealing magic you've used," he said. After Ron recited the spells, he grunted. "That's a complete list. The only thing I can do is try them myself, but," he glanced at Harry's phoenix wand, "if you haven't found anything, I doubt that I will."

A dozen or so people knew that after the Battle of Hogwarts Harry had used the Elder Wand to repair his own. Afterwards, Harry noticed that his wand had become stronger. When he took private lessons from Professor Flitwick, he learned how to control and maximize that new power. It had helped him on more than one investigation during the past few years, but not this time, apparently.

"I didn't really try many myself," Harry said, fingering his wand. "I just poked around the Pensieve."

Flitwick proceeded around the room muttering charms and spells under his breath. After he made the circuit he put his wand away and shook his head. "Nothing. I'm sorry."

Harry stared at the Pensieve. "It doesn't make any sense. Professor McGonagall used her wand at least twice to activate it. Why doesn't that register?"

"Try another spell," Dennis said. "Then see if there's a residue."

Harry turned his stare on Dennis; he heard Ron snicker behind him. "Merlin, what a brilliant idea." Harry grinned at Ron. "We're dunces."

Shaking his head at how easily he had overlooked the obvious, Harry pointed his wand at the creamy Persian cat sleeping on a chair next to the desk. As the cat rose in the air, it opened its eyes, peered down at the floor and at Harry, and closed its eyes again. Only the tip of its tail twitching slightly betrayed any concern. Harry Levitated it six feet and let it back down onto the chair. The cat shifted a paw so that its head rested on it, but continued to sleep.

Harry turned to Flitwick. The professor waved his wand "Specialis Revelio," he said softly. He waited for a moment and repeated the spell. He gave Harry a frown. "Nothing. This is not normal." He looked around the room. "Something in here is suppressing the echoes that magic leaves. Harry, I think we need to keep everyone out of here."

Harry tensed. "Do you think that what happened to Professor McGonagall wasn't caused by the Pensieve? Did something else do that to her?"

"I don't know." Flitwick spoke almost in a whisper. "But can we take that chance?"

"And will whatever it is, stay in here?" Ron spoke up. "Or will it spread to the rest of the castle?"

Flitwick looked from Ron to Harry, took out his handkerchief, and wiped his entire face.

Harry took a breath. "That's easy enough to figure out. Dennis, ask the others to come in."

In a moment the guards, including Parvati, stood around Harry. "I sent the owls twenty minutes ago," she said when Harry gave her a questioning look. He nodded, and spoke to them all.

"We just discovered that something in this room is suppressing magical residues. We can't detect even a spell that was cast seconds ago. I want teams of two to go around the castle trying simple spells, like Levitating or Summoning, and then test for Revelation. Organize it," he said to Ron.

Ron took a step toward the door, but Flitwick spoke. "Wait! We can't give the students the idea that something is amiss without telling them. And . . . if we do that, we're bound to start hearing from parents. Oh dear. We need to get the staff together. Harry, this is getting out of hand."

The professor was right. Harry knew that he had been doing the right things, but the right things seemed to be leading him down a path of more complications and more potential dangers. He was reluctant to call Saliyah back; he wanted to handle this himself, but he knew that the instant the first parents learned that something untoward was happening at Hogwarts, something that might be a danger to their child, he would have no choice but to bring in the Head Auror—and her husband.

Ron was watching him with narrowed eyes. He gave Harry the hand signal for "get help." Harry knew that Ron was right, and that for a moment he had been about to fall into a bad old tendency: wanting to do everything by himself.

He turned to Flitwick. "We need to scan the castle. I know we might get some parents wondering what's going on, but I have to do this. Meanwhile, I think we ought to close off this room."

"Of course. I'll gather the staff in my office. I think I can do that quietly enough." He hurried out and they could hear his high voice muttering as he descended the spiral stairs.

"Harry," Seamus said, "why don't we check out the staircase? If it's clean, we can be pretty sure that this . . . whatever it is, is confined to this room."

Harry picked up the cat. "Here, he doesn't seem to mind."

Seamus took the animal with a grin and walked onto the landing at the top of the stairs. He set it on the floor; it sat on its haunches and looked around and up at Seamus. He pointed his wand and the cat rose into the air. This time it seemed annoyed; its tail swished back and forth. As the cat passed within a few inches of Seamus's wand it swung a paw and slashed at it with extended claws. Seamus quickly let the cat down and it scurried back into the office, weaving under the feet of the Aurors standing around the door watching. It jumped up on the Headmistress's desk and started washing itself.

The Aurors looked back at Seamus. Ron pointed his wand and muttered the Revelation charm; he smiled. "It's here."

"Good." Harry led them all back into the office. "Let's check out a few of the corridors as best we can. But," he turned to the Pensieve and pointed to it, "I think it's all about that."

Ron left two guards outside the door and sent the rest into the castle. When the Aurors had left, he went to the chair behind the Headmistress's desk and sat with his feet up and his hands clasped behind his head, while Harry leaned back in a chair that was turned halfway toward the Pensieve. Ron watched the cat watch him.

"What was going through your mind when you asked Flitwick about that Chamberlain bloke?" he asked Harry.

"Nothing, really. He just showed up at the same time strange things began to happen. It never hurts to ask questions."

The cat walked across the desk to Ron's feet, climbed onto his legs and balanced its way to his lap. It lay down, curled up in a ball, closed its eyes, and started purring. Ron said, "I wonder if he'll be at Mum's next weekend." He scratched behind the cat's ear and its tail swished.

There was a knock on the door. Parvati put her head in and announced that Saliyah had returned. Ron took his feet off the desk, causing the cat to jump down and disappear underneath it again. Harry stood, surprised that she had returned, but also relieved.

She looked concerned. "Ernie Macmillan told me you asked for Anna Remington. What's up?"

Harry told her about the vanishing magic. "It's okay just outside the door, and my people are checking the corridors. I feel a little at a loss. I've never heard of something like this."

Saliyah bit her lip, and her brow furrowed. "That is strange." She swore. "If you find it happening anyplace else, we may have to evacuate the castle."

Harry and Ron looked at each other, something close to shock on their faces. "What will you do with them?" Ron said. "Where will they go?"

"I don't know. Let's just hope it doesn't come to that. Why did you want Remington?"

"She taught all of us everything we know about evidence analysis," Harry answered. "I thought maybe she could help."

"Possibly." She appraised him. "You're uneasy about all this."

Harry only partly suppressed a defensive reaction; Saliyah's comment was not meant to be critical. "It's getting complicated. We've already taken over the most important location in Hogwarts. We've got Aurors poking around in the corridors. We might have to evacuate hundreds of children. And we have no answers. A lot of people could become upset."

Saliyah turned to look at the Pensieve. Dusk was falling, and she watched the reflection of the silver glow flickering on the window behind it. "Let's wait and see what we find."

She took a seat and they talked quietly for a few minutes about setting up a watch; whether they needed to patrol the corridors and the grounds; and Professor Flitwick's visitor. Saliyah was interested in what Harry and Ron knew about him. "I'll have him checked out, but don't worry about him."

That was fine with Harry; he had enough to concern himself with. Several things worried him: the safety of the school; the safety of his Aurors; making the right decisions; and not exceeding his authority. He was also starting to get hungry, and he wondered if he would be home at all tonight. That thought brought Ginny's face up in his mind, which he knew was no coincidence. She was at the inn, either up in the flat or down in the dining room, but she was also thinking about him, reaching out to him.

"What is it?" Saliyah asked. She was looking at him with a quizzical smile.

Harry realized that he was smiling too, at Ginny's quiet, soothing mental caress. "Nothing. I was just thinking about dinner."

She glanced at Ron, who was now all ears. "As soon as your Aurors report back, set up the night-watch schedule and then you two go eat. Why don't you go back to the inn? It'll do you good to get away for a bit. I'll stay."

On cue there was a knock on the door and Seamus walked in. He nodded to Saliyah and turned to Harry. "Everything is clean, boss. We Levitated, Summoned, Cleaned, and Dennis even animated a suit of armor." He chuckled. "The damn thing started running down the hall and freaked out a couple of first-years. It's back on its pedestal," he assured Saliyah, "and the kids thought it was pretty cool. But anyway, we were able to Reveal every spell. We also detected other spells in the corridors that weren't ours, pimple hexes, stuff like that, the same things we used to do."

"I never did those," Harry grinned. "But thanks, Seamus."

Ron went out where the rest of his little detail was waiting and set up another watch rotation. Harry gave everyone the option of eating at Hogwarts or going into Hogsmeade to The Three Broomsticks or The Hog's Head. He and Ron fetched Hermione from the library and left, trudging through the deepening dusk back to the village.

As they approached The Hog's Head, Harry felt the quickening anticipation that he always did when Ginny was waiting for him. They went around back and up the stairs to the flat. When Harry opened the door Ginny flew at him and flung her arms around him. He kissed her uplifted face. They barely noticed Ron and Hermione, who were used to these displays, pushing past them.

"Everything's okay?" Ginny asked.

"Let's eat. We'll tell you all about it."

The table was already set and Ginny had prepared a dinner of juicy lamb chops with mint sauce, saffron rice, and steamed vegetables. An opened bottle of cold butterbeer was at each place. Harry sat and sighed. He gazed at the food and across the table at his wife. I love you. She reached across and poured his butterbeer into a frosted glass. I love you too.

While they ate, Harry told Ginny and Hermione everything that had happened. When he was finished, Ginny said, "I know who Uncle Chadwick is. I remember after their wedding, Fleur was worried that he might be arrested, but he got out of the country with the rest of her family. I think he was teaching at Beauxbatons at the time."

"Why would they have arrested him?" Harry asked. "He was just here to go to a wedding."

"I don't know. I remember Fleur talking about it, though. They wouldn't let anyone leave the Burrow until they had torn it apart."

She frowned and bent over her plate. It had been a hard time for her, Harry knew, and she did not like to talk about it. The Death Eaters had questioned her relentlessly, knowing full well that she and Harry had been dating at the end of the school year. Neither of them understood why she had not been taken away and used as a hostage, the way Luna had been used later in the year. They were just thankful that it had not happened.

Ginny looked up at Harry and smiled. "He was sweet, very attentive to Aunt Patience and Fleur."

"I'm sure his being here is a coincidence," Harry said. "I'll just check with George to see if he knows why Monsieur Chamberlain went into the joke business."

"Will you have to go back to Hogwarts tonight?" Ginny wanted to know.

"Yes, and probably tomorrow too."

They ate in silence for a few minutes until Harry asked Hermione what she had found in the library.

"Very little," she said, pushing her plate away. "The Pensieve was definitely at Hogwarts by the middle of the eighteenth century, but there's nothing about how or when it got there. I went through all the histories, and now I have to start searching for information about how it works and what kind of magic it uses. I'm not very optimistic about finding anything, though."

They talked about the Pensieve for another half hour. After Ginny served coffee, the two husbands had to return to Hogwarts. Hermione decided to stay with Ginny for the rest of the evening, and Harry and Ron departed.

The castle was quiet. Although it was a Saturday night and not late, only a few students were in the corridors. Parvati and Tony, outside the door to McGonagall's office, told Harry that there were no new developments, and that Anna Remington had come and gone. "I don't think she found anything," said Parvati.

Saliyah and Flitwick were inside. There was only one guard on the Pensieve, Seamus. "We set up a base in a classroom down the hall," Saliyah informed Harry. "Cots, a couple of Pinch Portkeys, a house-elf, owls."

"The students have been informed about the situation," Flitwick added. "We had all the Heads of House make the announcement in the common rooms. Professor Longbottom is acting Head of Gryffindor. And I'm going to transfer the functions of this office to my own. That will leave you free to operate without interfering with the school."

Saliyah stood. "So, Harry, I'd like to get back to the Ministry. There's a lot to do there," she said as he walked with her to the door. "I'll be back in the morning, I hope with at least one of the Unspeakables. Anna drew a blank when she was here, but she's going to keep working on it tonight in London. Just keep things under control up here. Don't try to do anything with it." She glanced at the Pensieve, sitting under the window, the silvery mist inside it now reflecting clearly in the glass. Seamus was a motionless shadow a few feet away.

Professor Flitwick came around from behind the desk after the Head Auror had left. "Harry, there is a certain amount of magic having to do with the office that I must transfer. I don't think it will affect you or your Aurors, but . . . " He hesitated. "But one can never be sure, especially since so many strange things have happened."

"Do what you have to do, Professor, we'll be fine. How long will it take?"

"About twenty minutes. Oh, and when I'm finished, the gargoyle will respond to any Opening spell, not just the password."

"Well, keep that under your hat. I mean," Harry added, "please don't tell anyone."

Harry and Ron watched while the Professor went around the room, muttering incantations and gesturing with his wand. In less than half an hour he was finished. He bowed his head to Harry and left.

Harry looked around the room. He had been here so many times as a student when the dominating presence of Albus Dumbledore made it clear, without any question, that it was his domain, controlled by him. Now it felt like a piece of broken Muggle machinery, purposeless, without an intelligence directing it. It was just another room with walls, a floor, and a ceiling. Even the portraits now seemed like Muggle paintings, lifeless, motionless. He noticed that there were now no cats in sight.

He went behind the large desk and looked up at the empty portrait of the old Headmaster. "Has he been back?" he asked Seamus.

"Not while I've been here, which is an hour and a half."

"Hmm." Harry looked at Ron. "As far as I know he has only one other portrait, in the Department of Mysteries. Well . . ."

He walked to the Pensieve and stared into it; he could hear Ron shifting nervously behind him. Harry turned to him. "I want three guards in here and two outside the door. The outside guards will be responsible for the staircase. Set passwords on the gargoyle." He frowned. "I hope the House Heads told everyone to stay away. If students start poking around we'll have to shut off the corridor. What do you think?" he asked Ron.

"Why do you want three in here?"

"It's too damn quiet. Three will keep each other calmer than two. I don't want any accidents."

"That makes sense. It'll mean more shifts, though."

"I understand, but hopefully it'll be only one night."

Ron nodded. "I'll go set it up." He went out, stopped to tell Parvati and Tony what Harry's orders were, and hurried down the stairs.

"Why hasn't Dumbledore come back?" Seamus said from next to the Pensieve. He stepped forward so that his face was in the candlelight.

"Don't know, but it doesn't matter. It's our problem, not his."

The sound of several sets of feet on the stairs interrupted them. The door opened and Ron came in followed by Dennis Creevey, Susan Bones, and a tall, muscular, older Auror with a goatee. "The rotation is set," Ron said. "These three are first up."

"What's the drill, Harry?" the older man said. He was Alexander Popandreyu, known to everyone as Popeye. He had been an Auror for more than twenty years, and despite his seniority, he had come to accept wholeheartedly Harry's leadership. Harry's idealism reminded him of his own youthful enthusiasm, and Harry's powerful wand obtained his respect. Harry was grateful because Popeye had convinced most of the other older Aurors that Harry deserved to be Head Auror and would be a damn good one. Some of them could not be convinced, but Saliyah Ushujaa and Kingsley Shacklebolt wanted it and the discontented had no choice but to accept or retire. A few had left, but not many. Their replacements from the training classes had no problem with Harry Potter as Head Auror; they would have been disappointed if he had not got the job.

Harry pointed to the Pensieve. "That's the drill. Did Sal explain what's been happening?" Popeye nodded and Harry continued. "No one goes within five feet of it. No one touches it. No one uses magic of any kind on it. It's highly unlikely that anyone will try to break in here, but with a few hundred students in the building we can't take any chances. There will be two guards on the stairs. Now," he paused and looked at all three of the Aurors, "Popeye is in charge of the detail. If anyone starts to feel strange or starts to act funny, get out immediately, send for me, and wait on the stairs. Professor McGonagall became confused and had trouble remembering things, and then she passed out. That's what I'm talking about. Clear?"

They all nodded.

"What about the portraits?" Ron said in a low voice.

There was a stirring from around the walls and some throats were cleared. None of the portraits of the old headmasters had spoken while Harry was in the office, but he knew they had been listening and observing.

"If they have anything to say, they'll have to say it to Professor Flitwick," he said loudly. He dropped his voice to a normal level. "If Professor Dumbledore comes back and wants to talk to me, wake me up."

Harry glanced around the room. "Make yourselves as comfortable as you can. I don't know what happened to the cats." As he spoke, three of them materialized on the desk in front of him, including the Persian. "Good," he smiled, "you have company."

Outside, two third-year trainees stood on the stairs, Mya Goshdon and Elaine Goldberg. Harry spoke to them, and he and Ron went down the corridor about twenty yards to a classroom across from a large painting of young dragons frolicking in a meadow. They were sending puffs of fire and smoke at each other; it looked like a game of tag. Inside the room the desks had been shoved aside and a dozen or so cots were set up. There was a curtain down the middle, suspended magically from the ceiling, that divided the room in two, but for now it was pushed back. The teacher's desk held several trays of pastries and a case of butterbeer. There was a large window at the back that looked onto the east wing of the castle. Harry heard the rustling of wings outside and saw the silhouettes of several owls perched on gargoyles.

All the Aurors in the room looked up from what they were doing—reading, playing cards and wizard chess, or just talking. Harry waved and walked with Ron to the front of the room.

"I'm sorry I had to ruin your weekends," he said, smiling a little, "but I don't think we'll be here long. Any questions? Oh, you can eat in the Great Hall or go into Hogsmeade. I hear the food at the Hog's Head is pretty good."

There was laughter, and he and Ron went to the two cots behind the desk. Harry fell onto one and covered his eyes with his hand.

"We should tell the girls that we're sleeping here tonight," Ron said as he leaned back on his cot.

"You'd better not let Hermione hear you call her a girl," Harry said dryly. "But they already know."

"Oh, right, that mind thing with Ginny."

Harry sighed and closed his eyes. He was exhausted. It had been an unexpectedly long and stressful day. Yes, he had "that mind thing" with Ginny, and right now it felt like her fingers were caressing his thoughts and her lips were brushing his heart. Her arms were around him and her fragrance enveloped him as he fell asleep.

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