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SIYE Time:22:05 on 18th November 2017


Homecoming
By Brennus

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Category: Alternate Universe
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Nymphadora Tonks
Genres: Action/Adventure
Warnings: Death, Extreme Language, Intimate Sexual Situations, Negative Alcohol Use, Violence
Story is Complete
Rating: R
Reviews: 219
Summary: After four years working overseas for the shadowy Department M, a world-weary and dispirited Harry Potter returns to the land of his birth. He meets some old friends and makes some new ones, as he learns that much has changed since he left home. AU, a ‘Harry never went to Hogwarts’ story.
Hitcount: Story Total: 43572; Chapter Total: 2776
Awards: View Trophy Room




Author's Notes:
I must say, I’m having fun reading all of the suggestions people have had as to how the gang members are vanishing so mysteriously. Some of them are extremely creative - wrong, but creative, nevertheless.

Although I’m always grateful, I have to especially give thanks to Arnel on this chapter, as she pointed out several (blindingly obvious) points that I’d completely overlooked, like the fact that the Ministry building is underground, and George has a shop in Diagon Alley. How did I forget that? Fortunately, Mr Weasley was unavailable for comment at this time, as he is sunning himself in glorious Skegness. No, I’ve no idea why he chose that as a holiday destination, either.




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Chapter 13 — Insurrection



“I’m missing something and it’s frustrating the living daylights out of me!” Hermione moaned.

“Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll figure it out, babe,” Dora smiled encouragingly, before taking a swig from her glass of goblin rum.

Harry, Dora, Bill, Ginny and Hermione were all currently sitting in a secluded alcove in The Leaky Cauldron, discussing their progress, or lack of it, regarding the case. Although not officially part of the investigation, both Harry and Dora had told their other halves so much about the case that there was simply no point excluding them.

They’d chosen to meet with Hermione away from the Ministry building mainly as Gawain Robards had noticed that they’d been meeting with the Legal Witch on a regular basis and had begun to ask questions. In the spirit of inter-departmental co-operation, they’d all decided to cut the Head Auror out completely and meet in secret.

“I’m sure there’s a clue somewhere that I could use to find out who is funding this ‘Mr Winter’s’ operations,” Hermione continued, “but I just can’t find it. I don’t suppose you two Gringotts employees have any inside knowledge of how to find out who deposited that money into Edgar Stephens’s vault?”

Bill looked apologetic. “Sorry, Hermione,” he said, “but the goblins keep that sort of information strictly confidential. Besides, if whoever it was is smart, they’ll have simply paid the money in over the till. There would be no paper-trail to follow that way, you see. Nobody asks too many questions about people paying in money, do they?”

“You’re probably right. I mean, this person has been meticulous in covering their tracks up to this point, so there’s no reason to assume they’d do anything silly now,” Hermione agreed glumly.

“You still haven’t figured out how that bloke you were chasing just vanished in front of your eyes?” Ginny asked her boyfriend. He’d mentioned his frustrations in not being able to capture the man a few days previously.

“Nope, it’s like he just vanished off the face of the earth. We even had a couple of Unspeakables come out and survey the area, but they came up blank,” Harry lamented.

“Not that they put much effort into looking,” Dora snorted. “I think they resented us dragging them away from their ‘important work’, the stuck-up prats!”

“Do you want me and Ginny to have a look at the place, sometime?” Bill offered. “We are paid to discover hidden magical emissions and secret objects, after all.”

“I’m not sure I can afford your help anymore,” Harry grinned. “You wouldn’t believe what you sister is making me do in payment for you guys creating those Wardstones for us.”

Ginny just winked saucily at him.

“Trust me, Harry, I doubt I’ll be asking you to do anything like that for me,” Bill laughed, “but seriously, we’d be happy to take a look.”

“Yeah, it couldn’t hurt,” Ginny agreed.

“We’ll take any help we can get at the moment,” Dora admitted. “We’ve hit a brick wall as far as this investigation goes.”

“Yeah, do you think…” Harry began but was interrupted by a shout.

“Hey, I thought it was you guys,” a voice called out.

Harry turned to see Ginny’s brother, Ron, approaching them with a grin.

“Hiya, Ron,” Bill greeted his brother. “You just finished work, too?”

“Yeah, I wasn’t expecting to see you all… oh! Err, hello, Hermione. I didn’t see you tucked away in the corner, there,” Ron said, suddenly looking embarrassed.

“Hello, Ron,” Hermione replied in a polite, if distant, voice. “How are you?”

“I’m good. I haven’t seen you about the office much, lately,” he commented. “I didn’t know you were friendly with these guys.”

Hermione frowned. “I’ve known Ginny for years,” she said pointedly, “and you know I’ve been working with Harry and Dora recently. I wasn’t aware I had to inform you of everyone I was friends with.”

“I didn’t mean it like that,” Ron protested mildly. “I was just a bit surprised to see you with my brother and sister, that was all. I wasn’t having a go, or anything.”

“Yes, well, you can be a bit judgemental at times, Ronald. I seem to recall times when we were going out that you didn’t seem to think that I shouldn’t have friends of my own. Remember when you started raging at me just because Ginny and I went off to Dogweed and Deathcap’s and left you in the Three Broomsticks? Just because you wanted to sit around swigging butterbeer all day didn’t mean the rest of us did!”

“Blimey, Hermione, we were sixteen years old at the time! Give me a break, will ya? We were on a date at the time and I just thought we should be spending a romantic day together, not shopping for school supplies. Anyway, we were just kids back then. You can’t still be holding things that happened back then against me, can you?” Ron asked plaintively.

“I know I’d hate it if people still brought up stuff I did when I was sixteen,” Harry chuckled.

“Ooh, tell me about it!” Dora laughed.

“Alright, point taken,” Hermione conceded, “and I apologise, but please don’t act so surprised by the fact that I might actually have some friends.”

“I’m not!” Ron replied earnestly. “I was surprised enough to see Ginny and Bill here, wasn’t I? I just didn’t know that you knew them that well. It wasn’t a criticism, honest.”

“Okay, well, like I said, I’m sorry for snapping at you,” Hermione said, her tone a little less unfriendly.

“We would invite you to join us, but we’re actually discussing some things you shouldn’t be hearing, bearing in mind who you work for,” Harry told the tall young man. “It’s best if you maintain plausible denial.”

“Say again?” Ron asked blankly.

“Ron, how friendly is your boss, Robards, to us at the moment?” Dora asked pointedly. “What you don’t know can’t hurt you. Get my drift?”

“Ah, I follow you! You’re discussing that case, aren’t you? Well, say no more! I know nothing. Nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say no more!” Ron grinned.

“Blimey, he’s a python fan!” Dora exclaimed in delight.

Ron laughed. “Anyway, I’d better get back to my… err,” he trailed off and looked at Hermione with a worried expression. “That is, my… err…”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake, just admit you’re here with that blonde witch sitting over there watching us,” Hermione snapped.

They all looked over and saw a pretty, young witch looking back at them. She smiled uncertainly at them.

“Oh, is that the girl from Misuse of Muggle Artefacts that you mentioned?” Ginny asked.

“Umm, yeah,” Ron admitted weakly. “I should probably join her. It would be rude to leave her on her own, you know?”

“See you later, Ron,” Bill smirked.

“Yeah, see you guys,” Ron said in a rather dejected voice, before turning and heading back to his companion for the evening.

“You know, Hermione, you shouldn’t be so hard on Ron,” Ginny said as soon as he’d gone. “He’s changed a lot since you knew him.”

Hermione sniffed. “Why should I care?” she demanded.

“I dunno, you seem a bit upset,” Harry chipped in. “If you really don’t care about Ron anymore, why are you getting so worked-up about him?”

“I’m not!” Hermione snapped.

The other four all chuckled at the girl’s sharp response.

“Yeah, it really sounds like it,” Bill grinned.

“Okay, I’ll admit he still gets under my skin,” Hermione conceded, “but has he really changed? Ginny, he really hurt me when we were younger. I know he never said anything directly, but he always had this thing where he thought purebloods were instantly better at everything then Muggleborns. He was always trying to belittle me. From the little I’ve seen of him at the DMLE, he’s still an arrogant prat.”

“Nah, he has changed a lot,” Bill interceded. “When he was younger, he had chronic self-worth issues and compensated for it by being rather arrogant. But he buckled down, managed to become an Auror, and actually made something of himself. What you see now isn’t arrogance; it’s self-confidence. Big difference.”

“Yeah, and as for the pureblood thing, I think that’s more to do with our upbringing,” Ginny suggested. “Our parents were really friendly towards Muggles, but I’ve lost count of the number of times when I was growing up that I heard something like ‘oh, isn’t it marvellous what Muggles can do without magic’ or ‘they’re very clever really!’. Something condescending like that. My parents weren’t racist, but they did have an in-built assumption that all magic users are instantly superior to Muggles. That kind of attitude filtered through to us kids, and it took ages for us to realise that isn’t true. You can’t blame Ron for believing what his parents ingrained into him from childhood, can you? Trust me, he doesn’t think like that now, believe me.”

“He even goes and watches Muggle football games regularly,” Bill added. “His mate, Dean, from back in his Hogwarts days got him hooked. He’s a Fulham supporter, I believe.”

“Oh, the poor sod,” Harry said sympathetically.

“Yeah, well, he supports Chudley Canons, too, so he must have a thing for teams who stand no chance of winning anything,” Ginny laughed.

“Alright, I’m pleased to hear he has a more enlightened attitude,” Hermione agreed, “but he’s still a prat. I’ve heard him bosting in the office about all the witches he’s dated. He seems to go through them like a dose of salts.”

Ginny shrugged. “He gets bored of them very quickly, that’s true. They agree to date him because he’s tall, handsome and an Auror, but he quickly finds that most of these girls just aren’t that interesting. Perhaps he needs someone who will challenge him a bit more?”

Hermione gave Ginny a hard stare

“I’m just saying”, Ginny smiled un-repetitively.

“Can we talk about something else?” Hermione begged.

“Actually, I’ve been meaning to ask the two of you how your dinner with the Greengrasses went,” Bill said.

“Ah, well, it was a bit confusing, really,” Harry admitted and began to sketch out the evening’s conversation points to his friends with a little help from Ginny. The idea that Daphne had turned over a new leaf seemed to elicit disbelief from Hermione.

“I’d be amazed if Daphne has changed that much,” she snorted. “Her and her friend Pansy Parkinson were the most unpleasant, bigoted, cruel, disgusting bitches in the whole school. I can’t tell you the number of times those Slytherin girls made my life hell. If you were a Muggleborn, those cows would be out to get you. I was insulted, pushed, pinched, had my hair pulled, my books stolen and even cursed a few times. I hate Greengrass.”

“Was she just following Parkinson’s lead, though?” Harry asked, recalling Daphne’s assertion that she was just trying to fit in.

“Not really. In fact, Daphne was normally one of the first to instigate trouble. She was just cruel. Of course, because she comes from a good family all is forgiven and even after the Greengrasses supported Voldemort financially during the war she can walk into a decent job,” Hermione spat. “You can see why I get so frustrated with the Wizarding world, can’t you?”

“Yes, I can,” Harry admitted, sharing an uneasy look with Ginny.

“Right, I want another drink,” Dora declared, rising to her feet. “Anyone want anything while I’m at the bar?”

Four empty glasses were immediately deposited in front of the witch.

“Oh, well, that will teach me to keep my mouth shut. My round, I guess,” she lamented.

HPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHP

For once, the section’s small office was relatively full. For some reason, Wednesdays had become designated ‘catch up with paperwork’ day and no less than six section members were currently present, all busily scribbling on parchment. Hestia Jones was one of those there, and she’d joined Harry and Dora at the desk which they were working at, mainly so they could chat while they waded through the inevitable paperwork.

Dedalus was also one of those present and was currently working out their duty rosters for the coming weeks. With the increased security threat to the Minister, the section were ensuring that they could provide additional protection whenever Kingsley made a public appearance. This meant that Dedalus was having to alter many people’s shifts, much to their general displeasure.

Harry had just completed his weekly threat assessment report when he noticed a small paper plane sail in through a small window above the door and land on Dedalus’s desk. The short man scowled at the object, before irritably picking it up and unfolding it. His expression of resentment instantly turned to one of surprise as he read it.

“My word! There’s a riot in progress in Diagon Alley! We’ve been ordered to get there as soon as possible and assist the Magical Law Enforcement Patrols in restoring order,” he shouted.

“They need us? Bloody hell, things must be bad. They normally call out the Aurors long before they ask for us,” Dora gasped.

“The Aurors are already deployed,” Dedalus explained sharply. “Now, quickly, I want everyone to the Atrium as fast as possible. Make sure you take your Ministry robes with you.”

Harry leapt to his feet and hurried over to a coat stand located in the corner of the office. Hanging from the stand was numerous grey robes with the Ministry’s emblem displayed on the chest. He threw a set of robes to each of the section members and grabbed one for himself. The section rarely wore the robes, only normally requiring them when they were performing close protection duties for the Minister at official events.

They all hurried out the office door and made their way to the service lift. A short ride brought them to a bustling Atrium where a harassed wizard Harry recognised from the Administrative Registrations Department halted them.

“You can’t use the Floo,” he told them briskly. “The Leaky Caldron has been overrun. It’s bloody anarchy out there!”

“What’s going on, exactly?” Dedalus demanded.

“I don’t know! All I know is that the Enforcement Patrols reported trouble about two hours ago. They were immediately reinforced, but they then sent a further message saying they needed more help. The Aurors were sent in about half an hour ago, but then Gawain Robarts sent a request back that all available Ministry officials were to be sent to provide back up. I hear we’ve got serious casualties and that the Alley is in a right mess!”

“And they’re only sending for us now?” Dedalus snorted in disgust before turning to the rest of them. “Right, we’ll head to ground level and Apparate from there. We’ll aim for the far end of the Alley, down by Gringotts.”

“I hope Ginny is alright,” Harry muttered to Dora as they hurried towards the main exit.

“I expect that at the first sign of trouble the goblins locked-down the bank,” Dora assured him. “Besides, she and Bill can look after themselves.”

“Yes, I’m sure you’re right,” Harry he said quietly, fervently hoping Dora was indeed correct.

Once the six of them had assembled outside, Dedalus gave the signal and the group Disapparated as one. As soon as Harry arrived, he looked around him and gasped. The man from the Registrations Department had been right: it was anarchy.

Great billowing clouds of smoke obscured his view up the Alley, spewing from the fires that engulfed several of the shops. Through the haze, however, he could make out numerous people running around and the occasional flash of spellfire. Shouts and screams echoed through the air.

“Alright, Harry, Tonks and Hestia: you carry on up the alley while the other three of us will head towards the entrance to Knockturn Alley. Incarcerate any wrong-doers and snap their wands while you’re at it for good measure. Come on, you two, let’s go,” Dedalus ordered, heading off to the right with the other two section members close behind. As instructed, the remaining three members began to head up the Alley. Harry noticed with relief that the doors of Gringotts were firmly closed.

“Harry, look, over there!” Dora called out, directing his attention to a small group of young men, all dressed in Muggle clothing, apparently kicking someone on the ground. Through their flailing legs Harry caught sight of a set of grey Ministry robes.

“Get them!” Harry ordered and sent a Stunning Spell into the back of the nearest man who instantly crumpled to the ground. A second man fell to Dora’s Stunner a moment later.

“More Ministry pigs!” a large, shaven-headed wizard yelled and cast a Severing Charm at Harry, which he easily deflected. Not feeling terribly forgiving, he retaliated with a Bludgeoning Charm which blew the man off his feet and into a nearby wall. He didn’t get up.

Hestia and Dora succeeding in taking the remaining two men down and they sprinted over to the fallen figure laying on the ground. It proved to be a wizard from the Magical Law Enforcement Patrol, who looked to be in a bad way. The man’s face was covered in blood and his breathing was shallow and laboured. While Dora incarcerated the fallen rioters, Harry and Hestia attended to the injured wizard.

“We’ve got to get him to St Mungo’s,” Hestia declared urgently as she knelt beside the man.

“Is he well enough to be Apparated?” Harry asked dubiously.

“He’ll have to be,” Hestia insisted. “I’ll cast some Healing Charms on him first, so hopefully the move won’t do too much more damage.”

“Okay, you look after this one and we’ll press on,” Dora decided.

“Yeah, go. I’ll be okay,” Hestia said absently, her attention already on the wounded man.

With a quick nod, Harry turned and began to jog up the alley with Dora right on his heels. He hadn’t gone very far when he heard a scream coming from inside a nearby shop. He ran over to the ruined shop front and peered in through the broken glass. The main window display was wrecked and there looked to be considerable damage inside, but he couldn’t see anyone. Without hesitation, he headed in through the smashed door and looked around. As he stood there, he heard a muffled screech come from behind the counter.

Harry leapt over the counter and saw a young woman being pinned to the floor by a rough-looking man. The woman’s robes had been ripped open exposing her breasts, while the man’s trousers were around his ankles. He was apparently too engrossed in raping the woman to even notice Harry.

“Get off her, you bastard!” Harry snarled.

The man’s head snapped round and he looked at Harry in horror. He then twisted, trying to aim his wand, which had been hidden from Harry’s sight in the man’s right hand. He never made it, as Harry’s Blasting Curse smashed into his shoulder sending him reeling. The man rolled on the ground moaning, his trousers still below his knees.

“You bloody shit!” Dora raged, striding forward and giving the prostrate man a kick in the groin, before turning her attention to the young woman, who had by now scrabbled back against the wall and was hugging her knees, sobbing. Dora knelt in front of the terrified girl. “It’s okay now,” she assured her.

Harry had by now cast an Incarcerous Spell on the moaning man and had neatly snapped his wand in two. A quick examination showed the rapist was hurt, but not too badly. He could wait for medical attention, Harry decided, possible for several days if he had his way.

“We’ve got to get this girl to St Mungo’s, too,” Dora said decisively as she conjured a blanket to wrap around her.

“I’ll see if Hestia’s gone yet,” Harry announced. He hurried to the front of the shop and looked out the window, and was relieved to see the dark-haired witch was still working on the injured man. He ran out of the shop and called to her.

“What?” she yelled back, irritated to have been disturbed in her work.

“We need you,” he yelled. “We have an injured witch we need you to get to the Healers.”

Hestia waved her wand over the injured wizard once more before hurrying over to Harry. Once he’d explained what had happened, she was appalled.

“What the hell is happening here?” she demanded. “It’s like the war has started all over again.”

“Not if I have any bloody say in it,” Harry growled, angrier than he could ever remember being.

Dora helped the still sobbing young witch out of the shop. Harry saw that the shop robes the girl had been wearing were now little more than rags and her face was badly marked. He felt a cold hatred building inside him.

“Hestia, get this girl to St Mungo’s,” he ordered grimly. “Dora, we’ve got work to do!”

Without waiting for a reply, he turned and began to stalk you the alley once more. The smoke was still billowing around the street, making it difficult to see more than a few yards ahead of him. Every once in a while, though, a body would emerge from the smoke. Harry instantly Stunned anyone not wearing Ministry robes and then tied them up. About halfway up the alley, he caught a pair of wizards emerging from an apothecary shop clutching a bulging sack each. They both fell to his wand before they even noticed he was there.

“Bloody looters,” Dora spat as she came up beside him. “Where are the Aurors? They should have been able to handle this rabble.”

“God knows, but I’m going to give Robards a right earful when I catch up with him,” Harry said angrily.

Robards wasn’t the first Auror they encountered, however. Through the curling smoke they caught sight of a set of familiar red robes. When they approached, they found they belonging to the grim face of Ron Weasley.

“Ron, it’s us,” Harry called to get the young man’s attention. He looked round and smiled when he saw them jogging towards him.

“Bloody hell, you’re a sight for sore eyes,” he said, relief evident in his voice.

“Don’t get too excited. There are only six of us and Hestia’s already had to leave to take a couple of wounded to St Mungo’s,” Dora explained irritably. “What the bloody hell is happening here?”

“I’m not totally sure,” Ron explained quickly. “As far as I know, the Enforcement Patrols got notice of an illegal rally being held here. Once they turned up, things started turning nasty, really quickly. We then got called in, and were just starting to get things under control when a whole new bunch of the bastards started pouring into the alley through the Leaky Cauldron. We found ourselves outnumbered and surrounded.”

“Why the hell didn’t Robards summon more help immediately?” Harry demanded. “Disturbances like this need to be stamped on quickly before they get out of control, just like they have done here!”

“I don’t think you can blame Robards too much,” Ron disagreed. “He got hit in the head by a brick shortly after he arrived here. He had to be taken to St Mungo’s. I don’t think anyone is in charge of this mess at the moment.”

“Shit! What happened to the proper chain of command?” Dora snarled.

“Well, you know how much Gawain likes to take charge of everything,” Ron shrugged. “His deputy is Persimmons, who’s little more than a toadying moron. All he’s done is run around shouting contradictory orders at people. He can kiss his career goodbye after this.”

“Well, this ends now,” Harry decided. “The rest of the alley is pretty clear, so we need to form a skirmish line and work our way back up towards The Leaky. You two get either side of me, and we’ll grab more Ministry personal as we come across them.”

Without hesitation, Dora moved to Harry’s left and Ron to his right. They methodically began to walk up the alley, Stunning any rioters they came across and adding Enforcement Patrol staff and Aurors to their line as they came across them. Dedalus and his two fellow section members joined them as they passed the upper entrance to Knockturn, and by the time they reached Madam Malkin’s Robes they formed a line right across the alley, two deep. As soon as the rioters caught sight of them advancing forward, they turned and fled.

“It’s just as well my brother George is on holiday at the moment,” Ron muttered to Harry when they were about half-way up the alley. “He’d have a fit if he saw the state his shop is in!”

Harry glanced over at a hideously-painted shop which appeared to have been thoroughly looted. Only then did he remember Ginny mentioning that one of her brothers ran a shop in the Alley. It didn’t seem to have fared too well in the disturbances, he noted.

Soon, they reached The Leaky Cauldron, which proved to be in a terrible condition. Part of the upper floor of the pub had been blown out, causing a sizable chunk of the roof to collapse. All the windows were smashed and the bar area looked to have been thoroughly looted.

“Look at this place!” Ron gasped. “It’s completely trashed. I was here just the other night, too.”

“We all were,” Harry reminded him, his anger barely under control. The riot appeared to have been contained for the moment, but the damage that had been done was extensive.

“You don’t think they’re causing trouble on the Muggle side, do you?” Dora asked worriedly.

“We’d better see,” Harry snarled, almost hoping that he would find some of the rioters out in Charring Cross Road.

Because right at that moment, he was in the mood to hurt someone.

HPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHP

In the end, the trouble had not spilled out into the Muggle world, save for a few hastily cast spells thrown by some of the panicking rioters as they fled. Ministry officials soon dealt with those incidents, and peace descended once again.

Harry and Dora spent most of the afternoon in the alley, rounding up the captured rioters and checking the damaged buildings for wounded. Harry happened to be at the bottom end of the alley, near Gambol and Japes, when Gringotts finally reopened their doors. The first figures to emerge were a group of security goblins, who took up position just outside the main doors, but several humans emerged shortly after. Harry was relieved to see a familiar redhead come running out, apparently unharmed.

“Ginny!” he called as soon as he caught sight of her. Her head whipped round as soon as she heard him, and she came sprinting over to where he was standing.

“Harry, you’re alright!” she cried, throwing herself into his arms.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” he assured her, hugging her small frame tightly.

“I saw you and Dora fighting,” Ginny explained breathlessly. “At the first sign of trouble, the goblins locked the doors and wouldn’t let anyone out, but Bill and I could watch what was going on from the upper floors. I saw you arrive and take out that bunch of thugs who were attacking that poor bloke.”

“You soon sorted them out,” agreed Bill, who had joined them without Harry noticing. The tall redhead looked at Harry with concern on his face. “Is Dora..?” he began.

“Up the top end of the alley, helping take statements from the shopkeepers,” Harry told him. Bill smiled and began to run up the alley without a backwards glance.

“How did this happen?” Ginny demanded. “The first we knew about it was when the goblins closed the bank saying that trouble was brewing outside. When I looked out the window, it looked like a war was going on!”

“I have no idea,” Harry told her wearily. “Ron, who’s also here and unhurt, said that some sort of unauthorised rally was the start of it. Normally, we’ll get wind of something like that happening, but this occurred without any warning, at all.”

“Was anyone seriously hurt?” Ginny asked warily.

“We’ve got at least two dead,” he said angrily, “not to mention dozens wounded. I caught one of the bastards raping a shop girl.”

“What? The low-life shit! I hope they throw him in Azkaban and throw away the key,” she growled.

“They will if I have any say in it,” he muttered darkly. “In fact, when I find out who’s behind all of this, I’m going to make them wish they’d never been born!”

Ginny said nothing but just hugged him tighter. Looking over her shoulder, Harry grimly surveyed the damage. He really was going to find whoever started this trouble and make them pay. Or his name wasn’t Harry Potter.

HPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPH PHPHP

Two days later, every member of the section was crammed into their small office to listen to Dedalus’s debriefing on the riot. It didn’t make for easy listening.

“This is how they were able to communicate and gather so quickly,” the little man said in disgust, throwing a small, rectangular object onto a desk in front of him.

“A mobile phone?” Dora gasped.

“Every single rioter we captured had one on his or her person,” Diggle confirmed. “There were text messages on them all, firstly notifying them of the anti-Ministry rally taking place in Diagon Alley, and then requesting help as they had been ‘attacked’ by the Aurors. This was a very well-orchestrated event.”

“But… Muggle phones?” one of the section members said incredulously. “How would they even work?”

“Oh, it’s fairly easy to get Muggle stuff to work around magic if you know how,” Dora interrupted. “My place is full of Muggle gizmos.”

“My godfather came up with a way of shielding the sensitive elements of electrical items so the magic wouldn’t affect them,” Harry added.

“Indeed, Sirius was a genius when he put his mind to it,” Dedalus agreed with a smile. “Unfortunately, it appears that other elements of our society have also figured out how to do it, and put it to more insidious uses.”

“Have we found out who organised this rally in the first place?” Harry asked. “I presume this is the same person who stood up and started preaching all this anti-Ministry crap?”

“Very likely, but I’m afraid we have no idea who this person is, at all. Not one person who was in the alley that day can give us a detailed description of the man, not even the shopkeepers. We strongly suspect that the person was using some sort of Glamour or Obscurance Charm. We can’t even trace the phone number the calls came from, as it appears the texts originated from a disposable phone which is completely untraceable,” Dedalus explained.

“What kind of things was this mystery man saying during this rally?” Hestia asked.

“Ah, it appears that whoever this person is they have a very strong dislike of Kingsley Shacklebolt,” Dedalus said grimly. “Much of this man’s speech revolved around how the Minister is leading us down a path to ruin, and that we’ll all be enslaved by the Muggles if it’s allowed to continue. Sadly, it appears there are still all too many fools still willing to believe this rubbish.”

“Could this person be behind the poster campaign, too?” Hestia pondered.

“I suspect it’s very likely, my dear lady,” Dedalus smiled sadly.

“What state is Diagon Alley in, and how many people were hurt?” a voice asked.

“We have two confirmed deaths,” Dedalus said sternly, “both of them members of the Magical Law Enforcement Patrol. There were several other stabbings, beatings and curse wounds, but nothing else fatal, I’m pleased to say. We also had two reports of rape and virtually every shop in the alley was looted to some degree. Six shops were completely destroyed by fire and several more very badly damaged. We’re still working out the exact cost of all this, but it’s likely to run into hundreds of thousands of Galleons.”

All the section members stirred uneasily at the news.

“As you can imagine, the press are having a field day with this,” he continued. “The Daily Prophet has never been exactly fond of Shacklebolt, especially after he put in place those guidelines regarding fair and honest reporting. They’re criticising him heavily, both for his failure to prevent this and for causing the unrest in the first place. Indeed, some columnists have even gone so far as to suggest that the rioters have a point and that they were acting in the best interests of the Magical community.”

“What, by stealing from shops and raping young women?” Harry spat angrily.

“As always, I feel that the writers are more worried about political expediency than actual hard facts,” Dedalus noted in a cold voice.

“It’s just stupid,” Dora raged. “Even if these idiots had a point to make, which they don’t, what do they possibly achieve by smashing up the shops and services that they use every day? It’s moronic!”

“I don’t think intelligence was high on the list of attributes of those thugs,” Hestia huffed.

“I appreciate that we’re all appalled by what’s happened, but can we please keep this meeting to the point,” Dedalus said loudly. “Now, obviously this event has heightened the threat to the Minister even further. We’ll be maintaining our close protection detail on him, and the Aurors are also putting a team together. Miles and Richard, I’ll be using you two as our primary escorts for Minister Shacklebolt due to your previous experience. Sorry that the burden has to fall on your shoulders.”

“No worries, Boss. It’s what we’re best at, after all,” the blond wizard named Miles replied with a shrug.

“Harry and Dora; you two are our experts in Muggle technology. If the troublemakers behind this are using Muggle phones and such like, I need you to get to the bottom of it. Squeeze your contacts, ruffle a few feathers, do whatever you have to do!” Dedalus told them firmly.

“Yes, Boss,” Dora replied assertively.

“We’ll take care of it,” Harry agreed.

“Right, the rest of you have your work schedules posted, so get to it. Your absolute priority though is the apprehension of whoever was behind this hate campaign against the Minister. Get out there and make things happen!”

There was a mumble of agreement and everyone stood to go to their assigned jobs. Harry and Dora were one of the last ones out the door.

“I can’t believe this shit,” Harry growled as they headed down the corridor.

“I know. It sucks, doesn’t it?” Dora agreed.

“Oh, that doesn’t even begin to cover it,” Harry snapped. “I just don’t believe this is happening again!”

“What do you mean; happening again?” Dora asked in puzzlement.

“All this pureblood, ‘let’s hate the Muggles’ bullshit,” he complained bitterly. “Kingsley is the best Minister we’ve had for years and all these idiots can do is moan that he’s selling us out to the Muggles. I can’t believe they’re such idiots! Have they really forgotten what it was like with Voldemort about?”

“I don’t think you can compare this mob to the Death Eaters, luv,” Dora said hesitantly. “I mean, yeah, they are idiots and nasty idiots at that, but I don’t see any signs that they want to kill anyone who isn’t magical. Let’s face it, most of that lot who went on the rampage in Diagon Alley just wanted an excuse to start a load of aggro and nick stuff.”

“They’re still pushing the same agenda, even if they don’t quite realise what they’re doing. It’s all just racism against the Muggles, even if they’re not following some mad Dark Lord this time,” he retorted. “I just can’t believe this is happening. I… we… lost so much in the last war, and now it’s starting to feel like that was all for nothing.”

“You can’t think like that,” Dora said sharply. “You’ll see; once we take down whatever arsehole is stirring up all this trouble, things will soon die down. Most of these idiots are just a bunch sheep, blindly following whoever panders to their insecurities and fears.”

“Well said, Miss Tonks,” a voice called. They turned to see a smiling Daphne Greengrass.

“Hello, Daphne, I didn’t see you coming,” Harry admitted.

“Ah, well, I can be a sneaky little thing when I put my mind to it,” she grinned mischievously.

“Of course, you were a Slytherin, weren’t you?” Dora said pointedly.

“Quite right, being sneaky was second nature to all of us in the House of Snakes,” she replied, obviously not taking offense. “From what I hear, I gather you’re not having much luck betting to the bottom of these disturbances, then?”

“No, we’re not,” Harry admitted sourly. “How’s the Minister taking all this? I haven’t seen Kingsley around for a few days.”

“I’m not surprised, he’s up to his eyeballs at the moment,” Daphne admitted. “The press are causing almost as many problems as those blasted rioters. The Minister has had to cancel all but the most important meetings and functions. I’ve had to shelve at least a dozen publicity events because of all these problems. Months of work up in smoke!”

“I’m sorry, but you must admit Kingsley probably has bigger priorities at the moment than a few ‘publicity events,” Dora pointed out, the sarcasm in her voice clearly evident.

“I disagree,” Daphne replied calmly. “At times like this, it’s vital for the public to believe that everything is under control. If the masses start to believe that things are getting out of hand, they’ll start to panic. A few well-chosen photos of the Minister attending summer fates and kissing babies would go a long way to convince them that things are fine.”

“Actually, when you put it like that, you do have a point,” Harry admitted.

“Naturally, I’m not just a pretty face, you know,” she smiled impishly. “Anyway, I must be off. Do give my best wishes to that beautiful girlfriend of yours, Harry. I did so enjoy Ginny’s company at dinner that time. We really must do something like that again.”

“Yes, we must,” Harry agreed with as much conviction as he could muster.

“Good luck on tracking down our antagonist,” Daphne said by way of farewell, and headed back down the corridor until she was out of sight.

“Stuck-up bitch,” Dora muttered as soon as she was gone.

“What was she doing down here, anyway?” Harry asked suspiciously.

“Dunno, and unfortunately we don’t have time to sit and figure it out,” Dora replied. “Come on, Harry, let’s start applying a bit of pressure on some of my contacts.”

“Yeah,” he agreed shortly as they headed towards the lifts.

After all, they needed answers, and they needed them fast.

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