From the Distance
A gust of wind came into a small atelier of a far east land. An old skilled craftsman talked to a young craftsman,“We’ll have a cool summer this year.” He shaded his eyes with his gnarled hand.
Kaito Fukuyama frowned and gripped his knife. He thought his broomstick company would beat their rival company, but the Chairman of the England Quidditch League adopted Firebolt as the recommended broomstick again. He was sure their skill was unsurpassable.
English wizards had used only natural wooden broomsticks, but he had an idea. He thought that Quidditch players might be able to fly faster if they tried his new products. He had compounded materials with carbon fiber. His new models could make them fly faster than the current models. If only he could convince a famous Quidditch player, maybe Harry Potter himself to try one of his new brooms.
“No, it’s impossible”, he sighed again. The young broomstick craftsman restarted scraping off the bark of cherry wood with his knife in his atelier.
Harry fumbled the silver wrought metal palm-top mirror in his hand. The reflected light was emitted from the mirror under the warm spring sunlight after a shower. He didn’t know how to use it well. He recalled the conversation with Andromeda inside the Potter’s vault underground Gringotts last autumn. It was said that his grandfather had sent it to his grandmother, Dorea Black to prove his true love for her.
Ginny begged him to show his memory of the time when he was captured in the castle of Giant’s Causeway at the Burrow during Christmas holiday. After Skeeter wrote a gossipy book about Harry’s Love Life, there was high tension between Ginny and him. But he couldn’t answer to her request because they couldn’t use the Pensieve at Hogwarts or at Auror Headquarters for personal matters.
The situation around the relationship between him and Ginny had gotten worse since Dara Cadwagan, a daughter of the Druidic chieftain, started Hogwarts in January to learn about modern magic. All trainees were assigned a short intensive course to learn about old druidic runes taught by Bill Weasley every Friday afternoon. Sometimes Dara assisted him, and a few healers from St. Mungo’s also joined them to learn about the ancient druidic glyphs to activate all kinds of curing stones.
He stared at the mirror again and brooded over the idea he should have taken Ginny to the spot in Auror Headquarters where the Pensieve was put at the middle of the night. He should have prepared to be blamed for breaking the Law or he should have whispered he loved her in front of dead Headmasters and Headmistresses of the portraits in McGonagall’s office. He was lost in thoughts of his remorse when Ron began speaking to him.”
“Harry, are you listening?” Ron nudged him in the ribs with his elbow.
Harry almost dropped the mirror. It flipped itself in his hand so quickly that the reflected light shot wildly into his eyes, and he gasped and shouted,“Oi, it hurts!”
Ron looked puzzled and said,“Sorry, mate, but you had better stop using your old glasses. Hermione owled me to say that you should consult an ophthamologist.”
“Does she mean a Muggle doctor?”
“You didn’t read her owl for you, did you?” Ron raised his brows.
“No, I didn’t,” said Harry and he remembered an untouched owl from Hermione on the desk of his cubicle at Auror Headquarters.
They had been watching the old cottage by the small lake of Scotland, a location where local people witnessed two hooded wizards hiding. Williamson guessed that one of them might be Rabastan Lestrange. When Harry asked why, Williamson insisted that they loathed Harry and were always looking to pay him back, so hiding near Hogwarts seemed logical.
“If what Williamson thinks is right, why do they let only us watch? We’re still trainees,” grumbled Ron.
Harry didn’t answer, but he guessed that it was because they had concluded that he and Ron were the best of the trainees.
They had announced that they would change the partners when new employees entered Auror Headquarters. Sometimes Blase Zabini joined Harry and Ron because his partner, Romilda Vane had quit her job when she found a young rich handsome wizard who worked in the section of the Sports Department in the Ministry. All trainees were given an invitation card for her wedding ceremony which would take place in June.
“Did you know she was already eighteen years old?” said Ron.
“Romilda Vane. She has been giving a false age. That’s why our boss allowed her into the Auror trainee program. I never did find out why she was a year behind at Hogwarts, though. She’ll probably ask you to make a speech at her wedding to represent the trainees.
“Yeah, I remember,” Harry sighed.
The status of the Boy Who Saved the Wizarding World always brought him troublesome tasks. Lately, Harry had been thinking about starting his own family. He thought of the time when he had faced the fact that he had been one of Voldemort’s horcruxes, an image of Ginny in a wedding dress suddenly popped into his head.
Most of the time he pondered the system at Auror Headquarters. He thought there were more efficient methods for tracing and trapping culprits. Nowadays, most of the criminals were small fries since the most of the remaining Death Eaters had been locked up. Even when he was thinking about work, his thoughts would occasionally drift back to Ginny.
He looked down the deep valley, he could see the steeple of the Hogwarts castle in the distance, where Ginny was studying or she might be training for Quidditch for the next house match. The distance between he and Ginny seemed insurmountable these days, not only physically, but emotionally as well. When they would meet in the Great Hall after their lessons on runes, she often had a cold attitude which was particularly nasty when Dara had been around him.
The root of every annoying matter was Rita Skeeter’s book, so Harry persuaded Robards to let her drink Veritaserum soon after the winter holidays. She confessed that she had accepted a bribe from Pansy Parkinson and had been imprisoned for three months. Harry didn’t tell Robards about Skeeter’s unregistered Animagus form because he thought he could use the last card to prevent her from publishing anymore rubbish books or articles.
Hermione suggested that he brought suit against her for publishing the book, “Harry Potter and His Love Affair”. But even if he had done it, Harry didn’t think Ginny’s attitude would change. He shoved the silver metal palm top mirror in his mole-skin pouch. When he touched the soft fur of the pouch, he remembered Hagrid, and he thought of visiting Hagrid after this mission. He thought a talk with Hagrid would cheer up his gloomy state of mind.
Ron was now talking with Hermione through the two-way mirror. It seemed that she was having a break after Potions. Harry returned his gaze to the entrance door of the cottage. It was so boring to wait for the unidentified hooded wizards, but Ron was talking with Hermione next to him, so it was him that had to watch the hiding place. He squinted at the window frame and the blinds of the cottage, how many times he had done that so far, but nothing had changed.
He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyelids, and yawned. He hadn’t slept well since the winter holidays. He missed the warmth of Ginny’s soft body when she snuggled up to him Christmas night on the camp bed in the Burrow. When he put on his glasses again, he saw a hooded wizard apparate in the spot near the cottage. He got alert and pulled out his holly wand. Ron sensed Harry’s mood and he lowered his tone of voice and whispered to the two-way mirror in haste,
“I’ll talk with you later, Hermione,” and he shoved the two-way mirror in his pocket.
The hooded wizard entered the cottage. Harry pulled his Invisibility Cloak on and hurried to the entrance of the cottage. Ron did a Disillusionment Charm upon him and followed Harry with his wand out in his hand, too. Harry felt thankful for Ron, who always followed him without question. Harry made sure the door was locked and pointed his holly wand at the knob and cast Unlocking Charm. As he had anticipated, the door wouldn’t open. He shoved his wand into his pocket and grabbed the door knob, letting his inner magical power shoot into it. Finally, he heard the clicking sound. He entered the entrance hall gingerly, his hand fumbling with a cypress wand which would help him complete his Animagus transformation. His two Animagus forms had helped in the capture of culprits like the werewolves and the remaining snatchers hiding in the wilds.
He was fortunate to have his partner, Ron who also mastered doing Animagi during the winter. His Animagus form was an Otter which was the same as Hermione’s Patronus. Thinking about Ron’s animagus made Harry question his feelings for Ginny. He could transform into both a stag and a chough, neither of which were the same as Ginny’s patronus. Did that mean he didn’t really love her? Just then his weight on the old floor made a squeaking sound, and he was nearly shot the Stunning spell.
“Who’s there?” the hooded wizard shouted.
Harry glanced back to be sure Ron had not been found yet and he reckoned Ron was still standing by the outside of the door. Harry waited holding his breath until the hooded wizard came to a conclusion that nobody was there. The wizard approached the entrance door muttering,
“Old decayed house…” the door creaked and shut.
Carefully Harry followed the wizard who went into the dining room where strands of dusty cobweb were hanging from the corner of the ceiling. The wizard pulled off his hood so that Harry could see his face, but he had never met the wizard before. The wizard bent over and touched one spot where it seemed there was a handle on the floor. Harry soon understood it was a cellar. The wizard vanished into the basement. Harry went back to the entrance door to unlock it and pulled off his Invisibility Cloak whispering to the spot where Ron was standing,
“Ron, become an animagus now.”
An otter appeared in front of Harry, just as he was completing his transformation to a chough. Harry as a Chough hopped into the dining room and the Otter, Ron followed him. Owing to their lightness as Animagus, they could go down into the bottom of the cellar without making any sound. The two of them concealed themselves behind the whiskey barrel. Harry peeped into the spot where the wizard was working, astonished to see all kinds of high-quality brooms piled up there. The man was casting a spell Harry had never heard. He then touched each broomstick with his wand, which caused them to gleam pale blue. What on earth was he doing? Harry’s desire to know the reason had reached its peak.
Then he felt the nose of the Otter, Ron poke his body like he was asking the next move. Harry gazed at the man again. The man was continuing the same magic upon the brooms. Harry made up his mind and returned to his former figure, gestured towards Ron, who understood what Harry intended and did the same. The two trainee Aurors pulled out their own wands in each hand. Harry cast a nonverbal Binding spell upon the man from the back of the whiskey barrel.
“What the hell..?!” the man groaned bound by the heavy rope, his right hand snuck through the rope for his wand in his waistband, but Ron’s movement was faster,
“Accio wand!” soon the wand in the waistband of the man hurtled into Ron’s left hand.
“Well done, trainees,” Williamson grinned at them.
The hooded wizard was sent to the confession room at Auror Headquarters. Harry, Ron and Williamson had been staying in the cellar to investigate the smuggled brooms. They had never seen such high-class brooms before in any shops in Diagon Alley. Harry thought that some of them were made of cherry wood, for the trainees had learned a lot about different types of wood from Ollivander last autumn.
“Does Robards allow them to use Veritaserum during interrogation?” asked Harry.
“It depends on the allergy test,” answered Williamson, who was now examining the smuggled broomsticks.
“The allergy test?” asked Ron.
“Robards ordered the staff of the Potions Laboratory to make a Potion to test for allergies to Veritaserum. Our boss has been cautious about using Veritaserum since one of snatchers passed out,” answered Williamson taking pictures with the magical camera.
“Did they work out?” asked Harry.
“Yep,” answered Williamson, who was now pushing a button of the camera to develop the film. He pulled the picture and muttered, “Hmm, he used Dark Magic. He seemed to hide the real performance of these brooms. What for?”
Thanks to a great beta reader, TreacleTart.