|SIYE Time:23:57 on 21st February 2018|
Category: Alternate Universe
Genres: Action/Adventure, Romance
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations
Summary: When the Weasley wedding is attacked, Harry grabs the first hand that comes to mind - Ginny's. They find Voldemort has hidden his Horcruxes in plain sight out of some of Muggle history's most important artifacts. Now the pair go across the continent, risking capture by both the Muggle and wizarding worlds, to end the war.
Hitcount: Story Total: 27158; Chapter Total: 1616
Awards: View Trophy Room
Fair warning: I made an attempt at writing German accents. I now have a new appreciation for what JKR went through with Fleur, Krum, and the rest. I'm pretty sure it's how I want it, so don't go thinking there are a huge amount of typos. Other than that, enjoy!
Chapter 7 - The Ghetto
“Oh. Well… thank you very much,” Harry said in an uncertain voice. Ginny, as tended to be the case, was a bit more direct.
“How do you know who he is?” she questioned the man.
The driver started waving his hands frantically. “Oh, I mean no harm, madam. But you can’t zink zat the stories of the Boy Who Lived didn’t make zeir vay across a little bit of sea.”
Ginny softened. “I’m sorry. It’s just that we’re trying to keep a low profile here. I’m Ginny, Harry’s… companion.” The driver winked at Harry through the rear-view mirror. A slight smile formed on Harry’s mouth at the side facing Ginny.
“I’m Klaus. The pleasure is mine. And don’t vorry. Zere aren’t many people left in Germany to stalk Herr Potter. I’ve heard zings in Britain have taken a… horrible turn. I’m sorry. If zere is one wizarding community zat knows vat zat’s like, it’s here.”
Klaus was about Bill Weasley’s age with springy black hair and the eyebrows to match. His beard, on the other hand, was sparse, to the point of making Ginny wonder why he kept trying.
By now, the other taxis had started a cacophony of honking. It turns out Klaus had forgotten to turn out of the taxi stand before chatting to his new passengers. He pulled out and began to swing the car toward the exit.
“Oh ja. So, vere vould you like to go?” Klaus asked once they were about to leave the airport property.
“Nurmengard,” Harry replied. The ease with which he said the word struck both Ginny and Klaus, so much so that the latter had trouble staying in the correct lane. It all hit Ginny at once. Harry had said they needed an outside opinion on Horcruxes. There is only one other living wizard that would’ve dared to even think of such a thing. She could trace the shiver in her spine run from the bottom to the base of her skull. Harry was right; once she knew what they were doing, she didn’t like it.
“Herr Potter, you understand zat Nurmengard isn’t one of zose places you just bop into a taxi and request to go. Although your guess zat it’s somevere in the mountains south of here is probably correct, I myself know no one zat vould precisely know. Certainly no one who has been.”
“Any help you can give will be appreciated. I understand that whole time is a sore spot for your people,” Harry explained.
“Zat is - how you English say? - an understatement. You’ll zee. Zere aren’t very many people still alive from zose days, but I do know vere to find one. Maybe she can point you in the right direction.”
“That would be great, Klaus. Where is she?” Ginny asked.
“The only place for magic ve have left. Just in time, too. It looks like you have another admirer.” Klaus tossed his head to the back. “Grey sedan. About 50 meters. He’s done everyzing I’ve done so far.”
Ginny swung around and studied the car Klaus was speaking of. It was simply in the same lane of the highway with a couple of cars between it and the taxi.
“Klaus, can you weave in and out a little? Maybe even get off on the next junction? See how serious this guy is?”
Klaus moved between some semi trucks, then over to the far-right lane and slowed. The next move put them in the slipstream of the second truck. The grey sedan should’ve been ahead of them. Instead, it was to their left side. Ginny and Harry looked over and saw the man from the airplane, the one that provided them gum.
“He was sitting with us on the airplane, Klaus. Probably just a coincidence,” Ginny reported.
“If you say so, madam. Vas he magical?”
“I don’t think so,” Harry chipped in. “I didn’t feel anything from him.”
“Zen ve’re about to lose him anyvay. Ve’re almost to the Ghetto.”
Further down the motorway, Klaus made an abrupt exit, then a series of high-speed turns as the terrain became steeper. Both Harry and Ginny had perilous views over cliffs. It occurred to Ginny that Klaus wasn't just a reckless driver; he was making sure he wasn't being followed - by anyone.
He slowed as they came to a wall made of wood and metal fence, standing about 15 feet high and ringed with barbed wire. The wall was haphazardly painted with colors and slogans. On either side of the drive were two Muggles dressed in random swatches of green and heavy black boots. They were holding matte black metal cylinders to their chests.
"Those aren't wands, are they?" Ginny asked grimly. Harry shook his head, his eyes never leaving either soldier, especially the one on Ginny's side of the taxi.
"Zey're going to ask zat you perform a bit of magic before zey let us in," Klaus warned.
"Why?" Ginny asked.
"Zey vant to make zure only magical people are inside the valls. A simple Lumos vill do."
Klaus rolled down his window and had a brief conversation with the guard on his side. He and his partner then knocked on the passenger windows in unison. Harry and Ginny, not understanding their directions, pulled out their wands and did as Klaus suggested. Both guards nodded and the gate began parting. Klaus guided the taxi through.
"The original name of the village is Hammerschmidt, but everyone calls it 'the Ghetto' now because zat's vat it is."
"What's a ghetto?" Harry asked.
"Oh, sorry, Herr Potter. I forgot you never had any in Britain. During the last var, one group of Muggles rounded up other groups and but zem all in one place before doing - other zings vith zem. After Grindelwald, the Muggles vere scared and did the zame zing to us."
"But wizards and witches can still leave, right?" Ginny asked.
"No, Fräulein, they can't,” Klaus responded in a low tone. “I have a special permit to take foreigners to and from the Ghetto and the airport." Ginny gasped. Harry fingered his wand more tightly.
"So you knew we were coming! Who told you? Our Ministry?" Harry accused. Ginny could see his pulse rise in his neck.
"Nein! Jawohl! No, Herr Potter. Nothing like zat. I just sit in the taxi line waiting for someone to need me. I recognized you, obviously. Most of the time the Portkey office lets me know ven people are coming.”
Both passengers took a breath. Klaus kept moving the taxi down what appeared to be the village's High Street. Everything looked derelict. Signs looked as though they've needed panting for generations. Many shopkeepers were out sweeping cracked sidewalks by hand rather than using charms.
"People can still use magic in here, though," Ginny asked, leaning forward.
"Oh ja, of course. But vithout a formal school, it's not very advanced. Zere's also embarrassment from vat vitches and visards did during the war. But Frau Strauss is better at explaining zoze times zince she vas zere."
Some children kicked a football down the road in robes that were far more shabby than the worst Weasley hand-me-down. One shopkeeper waved emphatically at Klaus.
"Zat’s Fritz," the driver explained as he returned the greeting. "He runs the book shop. Zat's how I learned English. No German magic books, you zee. Not a very busy shop, but Fritz keeps at it.”
The further they drove the more horrified Ginny became. The Ghetto was like a sketch a small child had done of Dragon Alley or Hogsmeade. Even now, she feels energized when she is in either wizarding community back home. It was the opposite here.
The taxi pulled up to an inn that had a hooked-beaked bird with angry eyes on a sign that proclaimed it "Der Schwarze Adler”. It had two stories made of wood that looked as if it was reused from abused sailing vessels. The windows seemed to be in permanent fog.
"l'm sorry, friends. It's the only inn in the village. Luckily, Frau Strauss owns it, so you von't have to go far to find vat you're looking for. If she even knows, zat is," Klaus explained as he pulled their bags out of the trunk.
"It’s fine, Klaus. Thank you," Ginny assured him. He smiled and pulled the luggage into the inn.
Harry and Ginny were both struck by how similar it was to the Hog's Head, from the dim candlelight to the tables, chairs, and stools scratched beyond repair. The floor hadn't been swept in weeks. The only thing kept in pristine order was the bar, which was almost as shiny as new. That is where the trio found an elderly woman aimlessly wiping down the wood while waiting for customers that were probably not coming.
"Frau Strauss! Jawohl! I've brought you special guests!"
The elderly woman looked up from her task. As she saw Harry and Ginny, her eyes widened and a cryptic smile crossed her face.
"Vill it be vhiskey or butterbeer for our chat, Harry Potter?" the barkeep asked while retrieving three glasses from the shelf behind her. "Or Muggle beer? Germans are famous for it around the vorld, so I'm told. Have you had it before? Oh, and I haven't been introduced to your lovely friend!”
"You haven't been introduced to me," Harry reminded her.
Frau Strauss laughed from deep within herself. "Yes, of course! My apologies, Harry. It is just that Dumbledore talked zo much of you that I feel ve're acquainted already." She held out a
flat hand. Harry walked over and shook it. Strauss wouldn't let go. Harry looked to Ginny, who shrugged. He gave the thin skin a kiss. The woman then held out the same hand for Ginny. This
time, a shake sufficed.
"Matilda Strauss. So, your drinks?"
"Uhh, butterbeer please," Harry answered.
"May I try some of the Muggle beer?" Ginny asked hesitantly. Frau Strauss poured her a half-glass. Ginny took a sip and turned green before choking it down.
"It's horrible! They really drink that?"
"Some people vould say too much, Fräulein Veasley."
"Ginny," she corrected.
"Then I'm Matilda!” She then placed full glasses of butterbeer in front of the couple. They took two stools while Klaus hung back, perching himself at a table by the door.
"You knew Dumbledore?" Harry began, not yet making a move toward his glass.
"Oh yes! He alvays stopped when he was in the village. I was so sorry to hear about his loss. I know you meant a lot to him."
“Me too,” Harry replied. Ginny reached for his hand. She flashed to that day and how Harry wouldn’t leave Dumbledore’s broken body until she came, took his hand, and led him away.
"How often was he here?" Ginny questioned.
“Oh, twice a year or so.”
"Why?" Harry jumped in.
"I think you know the answer: the same reason as you. He said I shouldn't let you see him. He also said I vouldn't be able to stop you."
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