Harry crept away from the Auror’s Office long enough to produce a Patronus and send it to Andromeda, informing her that he had to work late and Teddy would need to stay with her that night. He knew she wouldn’t mind but he would have felt bad if he hasn’t told her that he was okay. She had begun to think of Harry as family and she had lost enough in the last year. Harry waited for the evening to wind down. He watched as Auror after Auror left the office; Williamson was the last one to leave. Harry pretended to be deeply involved in the incident report of an older Auror called Stillwell. At long last it was just Harry and Ron in the bullpen and Williamson in his office. The lights in the office went out and Williamson nodded to the two junior Aurors before leaving the department.
“Are you ready?” Harry asked Ron. Ron nodded and produced a Disillusionment charm on himself whilst Harry donned his cloak. Together they followed Williamson out of the Ministry and through the streets of London.
“Why doesn’t he just Apperate home?” Harry asked quietly as they crept behind him.
“Maybe he isn’t going home.” Ron said. “Maybe he’s meeting someone.”
Williamson walked for ten more minutes weaving in and out of Muggle crowds. He had absolutely no regard for the way he was dressed; he was still wearing the dark brown robes he had worn to work.
“So much, for the International Statute of Secrecy.” Harry muttered. “Look he’s going toward the water.”
The pair followed Williamson down a steep hill and to the banks of the River Thames.
“Is he meeting with someone?” Ron asked. He was. There were two shadowy figures standing near the water. Harry and Ron watched as Williamson greeted the men with a sense of familiarity. Harry felt a nudge on his side and saw an Extendable Ear floating in mid-air. Harry understood immediately. He took the ear from Ron and held it close to his own ear. There was a cracking noise and then Harry heard Williamson’s voice in its full rumbling clarity.
“I wanted to thank you again,” said Williamson. “For your…generous donation.”
“It’s no trouble at all.” The taller of the two men said. “Our vault is nearly full to bursting. Especially after…last years…incident.”
“We help anyone who supports our cause.” Said the shorter of the two.
“You would do well to keep your voices down.” Williamson whispered. “There are people under my order who may be suspicious.”
“Who would dare violate your order?” The shorter of the two asked.
Harry could almost see the wry smile on Williamson’s face. “I assume you have heard of Harry Potter?”
“Who hasn’t?” said the taller man. “The filthy offspring of a Mudblood and a Blood Traitor, the pathetic excuse of a wizard that killed the Dark Lord.”
“He is under my employ.” Williamson said. “Unfortunately, Potter had his own agenda.”
“You think he is on to you?” asked the shorter one.
“I am certain of it. However, as far as the two of you are concerned I would be far more apprehensive of Longbottom. Potter’s arrogance seems to have rubbed off on him and simply won’t relinquish your case.”
Harry pulled the Extendable Ear out of his own. He had heard enough. His heart was beating hard against his chest. He could hear it loudly in his ears. He nudged Ron and the two of them made their way to an alley where Harry pulled off the cloak and Ron make himself visible again.
“He’s meeting with the Lestrange Brothers.” Harry panted. “They paid him off.”
“What for?” Ron asked. “Why? What do they want him for?”
“They said something about…the cause. D’you think…I mean…are they trying—“
“To keep the Death Eater’s going?” Ron asked.
“But…we’ve caught nearly all of them.” Harry said. “They’re in Azkaban.”
“Except for the two that were closest to him.” Harry felt a chill down his spine, as if he was being watched.
“We should leave.” He said to Ron. “Something doesn’t feel right.” Ron agreed and the two of them Apperated to the Burrow.
“Should we tell Kingsley?” Ron asked when they arrived on the Burrow’s lawn.
“I think we should tell Hermione first.” Harry said.
“We know what she’s going to say.” Ron argued. “Might as well just get it over with.”
“How’d you think she’ll react if we don’t tell her?” Harry pointed out. Ron got an odd look on his face.
“Fair enough. I’ll write her.” Ron said. “G’night Harry.”
“Night Ron.” Harry Disapperated as Ron walked inside.
In his own home, Harry couldn’t sleep. His mind kept wandering to the encounter with Williamson he witnessed. He knew, Williamson knew where the Lestrange brothers were this entire time and he didn’t tell. He purposely kept Neville on edge for nearly four months; he let the people who tortured Neville’s parents run amuck free from free through the Wizarding world.
“I can’t believe it.” Harry whispered to himself. He felt angry. Williamson was supposed to hunt Dark Wizards, not take payouts. Harry heart beat against his chest so hard it almost hurt. He couldn’t hear anything and with a sweep of his arm he sent a book flying across the room and crashing into the wall. He let out a scream. Before he knew what he was doing, Harry threw book after book against the wall until there were no more books to throw and his anger had subsided. Feeling extremely tired, Harry summoned the books and repaired the damage before restacking the books and drifting off to a restless sleep.
The next morning Harry returned to the Ministry in an incredibly foul mood. Ron advised Harry to wait for Hermione’s opinion before doing anything drastic. While Harry agreed that they should listen to what Hermione had to say; he was itching to do something. Every time Harry say Williamson walk into the Head Auror’s Office he felt the bile rise in his throat. That man did not deserve the honor of being Head Auror. But Harry kept his mouth shut and his head down. As the day dragged on Harry found himself even farther on edge than he had expected to be. Several times he snapped at both Neville and Ron; he almost snapped at Proudfoot, but Ron stepped on his foot harshly before Harry could do anything that he would regret.
“Watch it.” Ron muttered. “She can get nasty.”
Harry felt wasted doing paperwork.
“We should be doing something.” Harry muttered to Ron.
“We need to wait for Hermione.” Ron said. “She’ll know what to do.”
“Hermione wasn’t there.” Harry argued. “She doesn’t know what’s happening.”
“I shared the details. Just keep your head down and your nose clean.” Ron said returning to whatever mundane task he was doing. Harry thought about Ron’s words. Sirius had told him something similar when he was fifteen; Harry had scoffed at the advice of his godfather. He never kept his head down or his nose clean. Harry felt similarly about Ron. Ron had been at nearly every single dangerous event that Harry had been at. Ron had chosen to be there. He didn’t keep his head down or his nose clean either.
The entire day passed without any word from Hermione. Harry and Ron packed up their things with a rather sad air and parted ways at the fireplaces. Harry stopped by his home and dropped off his work things before Apperating to Andromeda’s house.
Andromeda was waiting for him with a stern look on her face.
“What do you think you are doing?” She asked the moment Harry walked through the door.
“I know what you are doing.” Andromeda said. “You’re sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong. You have a reputation for it.”
“Really?” Harry asked, his temper getting the better part of him. “I thought I had a reputation for saving our kind from Lord Voldemort!”
“You are over stepping your bounds Potter.” Andromeda said. “You’re putting yourself in danger.”
“In case you haven’t noticed, THAT IS MY JOB.”
“Harry.” Andromeda dropped her voice. “I don’t know exactly what you are doing but I know that you are doing something that you shouldn’t be.”
“I’m doing my job Andromeda.” Harry said all the anger in his body evaporating. “Where’s Teddy? I’d like to go home.” Harry could tell Andromeda wanted to say more, she wanted to warn him about going vigilante, she wanted to be a parent to him but Harry was old enough to take care of himself and of Teddy and Andromeda knew this so she tightened her mouth to stop herself from saying anything more.
“Upstairs.” She said. Harry thanked her and took the steps two at a time. Teddy was in a small cot that Andromeda had kept. He was awake and alert looking at Harry with wide brown eyes.
“Hello.” Harry said picking Teddy up. Teddy babbled excitedly and pulled Harry’s glasses off of his face. Harry smiled at Teddy, he didn’t think he could ever be mad at him. Harry gently pulled the glasses out the Teddy’s hand and placed them back on his face. He walked down the stair muttering nonsense to Teddy.
“Say goodbye to your grandma.” Harry said to Teddy. Teddy babbled excitedly at Andromeda, who kissed Teddy on the head and gave Harry a small hug.
“I’ll see the two of you tomorrow.” She said. Harry nodded and said goodbye before exciting the house and travelling home. He felt unexplainably exhausted by the day’s events and found himself counting down the hours until he could go to sleep. Teddy, however, was not at all tired and was begging Harry to play the only way he knew how, which was tugging on Harry’s wand. Harry spent the next hour and a half producing puffs of brightly colored smoke for Teddy and grasp and as the finale Harry produced his Patronus which charged around the room to Teddy’s delight before disappearing into a silvery cloud. Harry and Teddy stifled a yawn at the same time. It was then Harry realized just how late it was.
Harry woke with a start. He was sure Hermione had gotten Ron’s letter by now; it was just a matter of time before he received her response. Undoubtedly, she had already written to them and Ron received the letter just as Harry was waking up. It was with an intense anticipation that Harry got himself and Teddy ready and travelled to the Ministry of Magic. Harry had overshot the time and found that he had arrived to work nearly an hour earlier than usual. There was absolutely no way that Ron was going to be there, after the Horcrux hunt he had a new appreciation for sleep, which was to say he never missed an opportunity to curl up in his bed and snore until someone in the Burrow found it absolutely unbearable.
He wasn’t surprised at all to see Neville, who as far as Harry knew had been living in the Auror’s Office over the past three months as he continued to hunt down the Lestranges. Harry felt an ache in his heart. He knew how important catching the Lestranges was to him and Harry knew, how to find them but he couldn’t tell Neville. Not yet. Harry couldn’t look him in the eye. He shuffled passed Neville and pretended not to hear him when he asked if he slept well.
Harry sat with Neville in an awkward silence for nearly an hour until the doors to the Auror Office opened to reveal a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Ron, who walked to his desk whistling with a bounce in his step.
“Good news?” Neville called to Ron aske he sat down.
“The best.” Ron said., he lowered his voice and whispered to Harry. “Hermione wrote back.” Harry grinned.
“Excellent. What’s she say?”
“Same as she did last time.” Ron said. “She thinks we should tell Kingsley.”
“Maybe we won’t have to.” Harry said. “Look.”
Kingsley had pushed open the heavy oak doors to the Auror’s Department and was stalking through the desks his brilliant violet robes flowing behind him. He spent time stopping at the desks of his old colleagues before walking back to Ron, Harry and Neville.
“Hello.” He said a grave look on his face.
“Hello Minister.” The three said.
“Potter, Weasley a word?” Kingsley asked. Harry and Ron exchanged a knowing look before pushing their chairs in and following Kingsley to a secluded corner of the office.