Chapter 45: The Deal.
'No,' said Ron, 'you can't have him.'
'What do you mean I can't have him?' retorted Fothergill.
'Just that,' replied Ron matter-of-factly -I need to kill this one dead, he thought. 'I agreed to find him; I agreed to bring him to you … I did not agree to hand him – '
'But Francesca told me – '
'Probably what you wanted to hear,' interjected Ron. 'I never – NEVER – said Jacob Parry was yours – I told her I would catch him and bring him. You need to be more specific next time … William, don't you think. Or did you know what my reaction would be, eh?' Ron chuckled.
He moved back over to Parry till his back was facing Fothergill. He patted Parry on the shoulder and barely whispered, 'Trust me completely' and turned back towards Fothergill.
'This man who you say is so indispensable to you in the future, is also pretty indispensable to at least four other major law enforcement agencies including the Italians, the Spanish and the Portuguese.' Ron paused and let that sink in. 'You see, William, what you don't know is that Jacob here has been creating his own little career - not in yours or Jimmy Abrahams' league but still impressive – ' he turned back to Parry, his hand still on Jacob's left shoulder, Ron hoping it was reassuring his ally rather than intimidating him: from the way he could tell Parry was shaking very slightly he would say not. Mind you, truth be told, Ron quickly admitted to himself if was being used in a grand game of strategy and counter strategy between the Chief Auror of Great Britain and the world's most wanted Death Eater – though Fothergill wanted to be an ex-Death Eater – then you'd probably be shitting yourself too…
'No, you didn't,' said Fothergill and he glared once more at Parry. 'And nor did you.'
Ron laughed and patted Jacob's shoulder before moving off again and standing a few feet away. 'Did you expect him too, really? It's was a nice little side-line whilst working for our ministry – then our Romance colleagues got wind of a really exceptional potioneer helping out a Muggle-Magical combination who were lifting serious amounts of cash – the Mr. Parry's potions were certainly helping – wiping memories, explosives, drugging people and bribing others with rare ingredients – all meat and drink to Jacob.' Ron suddenly turned more serious. 'As you are also aware, I am Britain's Foreign Secretary – I have quite a few favours internationally to secure – handing Jacob here over while offering other things will go a long way to helping me and Britain out … so, no …you can't have him.'
Fothergill was trying to hide his considerable anger. He seemed to tense physically for a moment. 'Then this could be a deal breaker before we've even really begun!'
Ron laughed again. This seemed to piss Fothergill off even more. 'Don't be ridiculous, William – I have an alternative to offer you and – well, you'll see – it's a beauty BUT we'll come to it soon.' Ron smiled. 'Now, my turn.'
Fothergill still didn't look convinced. 'This alternative had better be stunning …Ronald,' he added sarcastically.
'Oh, I think so,' said Ron. 'Now to questions. Who was the traitor in the Ministry during the Battle of Manchester?'
'Chief Auror Collins,' said Fothergill.
Ron's expression had become like a slab of granite. 'I knew it,' he said quietly.
Fothergill smirked. 'Yes, he thought you did know – lucky for him he retired … then died, eh.'
'Hasn't his family still got that big fucking mansion down near Winchester?' asked Ron.
'Yes,' replied Fothergill vaguely, 'I think so …'
'Bollocks!' retorted Ron. 'You know they do and no doubt paid for with his ill-gotten gains. What was it? Money for information?'
'Weapons deals,' replied Fothergill. 'Oh, and a certain amount of bribery: I have certain …pictures of our Chief Auror Collins and other magical creatures in – how do the Muggles put it? Oh yes, delightful phrase: compromising positions.' Fothergill chuckled. 'Personally, I have not a thing against a little experimentation BUT I think if the Chief Auror was plastered all over the covers of The Daily Prophet – well, you get the picture. Actually, we did some very good business in the Central Asian Wars – my charm inventions and his contacts – very good business.'
'Very pleasing I am sure – well, I will have that for a start,' said Ron.
'But his family are innocent,' replied Fothergill.
'I doubt it somehow,' replied Ron coldly. 'So, I will want all the information on Collins you have including those pictures and anything else protecting his family: if they were part of his deceit they are going to prison and their estates are forfeit. Was he already in your employ when Manchester happened?'
'Oh yes, he was trying to make the most of his colleagues who had left Britain during Voldemort's ascendancy – the Aurors in exile. He found them all over the world, usually where there was great trouble – war and so on – wands for hire, you know, working for local warlords – excellent fighters and on the look out for new and novel spells – yes, we made a lot of money.' He paused. 'Do you really have to go after them? Seems a shame really; I am sure he kept his wife and children very much in the dark about all this.'
'Yes, I do,' replied Ron shortly. 'You may not value integrity but I do – or at least I did – and his intransigence at Manchester cost hundreds of lives.' Ron looked straight at Fothergill. 'Believe, me this will be nothing – if I had my way, I would have him dug up and his corpse paraded through the streets for people to throw things at …'
'Yes, I am sure you would,' drawled Fothergill.
'Next question: who were the two Aurors who helped you escape?'
'Never knew their names – Collins worked on a need to know basis. I do know they are also both dead now.'
'Did you have them killed?' asked Ron.
'Oh Merlin, no!' laughed Fothergill. 'Far too messy – one I think was killed – quite legitimately, I believe, on a diplomatic mission for Collins and the other – same as Collins: retired, grew fat, probably drank too much, you Aurors have a habit of doing that a lot …' he mused.
'And Thompson?' asked Ron.
'Ah, that was unfortunate – that one I think you can definitely put down to Chief Auror Collins.' For a moment, Ron thought Fothergill looked genuinely sad. 'Very difficult when you are caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.'
'Yes, he saw you but the memory had been tampered with and we were left with nothing.'
'Collins had him assigned to a very dangerous mission – I didn't know till much later – he was killed outright, very quickly – thankfully.' Ron looked at the man speaking opposite him.
'Yes, poor John…' said Fothergill, quietly.
'John?' asked Ron.
'John,' replied Fothergill, looking up. 'John Thompson.'
'You knew him?'
'Of course,' said Fothergill firmly. 'He was my second cousin, on my mother's side – he was actually one of the few in my family I liked.' He paused again. 'A nasty coincidence, that's all.'
Ron was slightly disturbed – not only at Fothergill's apparent remorse but whether or not Jimmy had known of this fact. 'Yes, I suppose it is,' he said. 'considering you betrayed the rest of your family to the Death Eaters – very nasty I would say.'
'How dare you – '
'Quite easily … William! Right, time is getting on – next demand – who's the leak now in The Ministry?' said Ron. Fothergill made no motion to reply. 'Come on, William – I am agreeing to a deal to let you get the hell out of Britain, with some concessions and a great risk to my reputation – and you don't want to answer? Okay, let me make an educated guess: Lawrence Rees.'
'You might be right…'
'I think I am – good looking twat, with all the oily manner of tub of lard – perfect to be bribed up – plus he DEFINITELY has a massive fuck off house down in Sussex – his family's loaded but not that loaded – AND he's in the perfect position in the Finance departments to see what's what – am I right?' He cocked an eyebrow and waited.
Fothergill waited too, then nodded his head.
'Thought so,' said Ron. 'We'll want him too.'
'Anything else?' replied Fothergill, barely concealing his air of irritation. 'Surely, it's my turn?'
'Yes, I suppose but I need to move on this I am afraid – just in case you choose to break your word to me and others decide to do a 'midnight flit'!' said Ron. 'So, here it is in a nutshell, as muggles say. Before we finish here, you will create an affidavit charm which you will seal on parchment – I think Jacob is carrying some on him, with all – and William, I mean ALL the information on Collins, Rees and how this whole operation of yours has worked over the years – names, details, accounts, locations the bloody lot – if someone's fucking family cat had the merest sniff of this, I want it – everything.'
'That won't hold up in court – you know it won't – it has to be done under oath,' retorted Fothergill.
'You know that, I know that – but the people I am going to right royally nobble with this don't know it's coming so I predict the first thing they are going to try and do is make a run for it rather than fight it out – either in court or with wands – and when they do, I'll be waiting.'
'I haven't agreed yet,' said Fothergill forcefully.
'And I haven't finished yet!' replied Ron. 'Just wait – it is a good deal.'
'Next, if you decide to agree, you will turn over your entire operation to me except those parts I agree you can keep and take with you into … 'retirement' – and I mean everything: people, equipment, libraries of tomes, supplies, the lot – '
'Do you know what you are asking me?' spluttered Fothergill. 'some of those people are like family to me!'
Ron had laughed before. This time he exploded with a huge guffaw that rang around the room. 'Fuck so far off you're round the other side of the world! Family!? You don't know the meaning of the word. At least I will give you this concession, they will receive the best trials I can get them – no Barty Crouch Snr., shite – they will be tried to the absolute letter of the law and treated fairly. And don't give me any false tears – you might be able to fool them but not me – you have loyalty to one person alone,' and Ron smiled broadly, almost wolfishly, 'and I am looking at him.'
Fothergill looked sour and said nothing.
'Next, any prisoners you have, including Adam Martineau and Francesca Isabella Abrahams – anyone who is a prisoner and even if they are working as operatives for you – are to be surrendered into my custody and put under the care of whosoever I nominate to take care of them.'
Ron noticed that Fothergill cavilled at this. 'No! You can have the other prisoners but not the Martineaus – they come with me.'
'Because I say so!' said Fothergill.
Ron noticed that Fothergill was suddenly angry … but why.
'Sorry, but you may have noticed I don't give a shaved rat's arse for your say so.' Ron replied tartly. 'Reasons – now or you can fuck yourself… William!'
There was a pause.
'I have grown fond of them,' said Fothergill.
'Really?' replied Ron sceptically, 'prison warder falls for the prison family? How fucking touching…'
Fothergill's fury was sudden and genuine – that truly surprised Ron. 'Fuck you, Weasley!' he said with as much venom as he'd shown in the entire meeting. 'You can have Adam and the two elder children. Francesca and the youngest child come with me.'
Ron decided to not push him: whatever the hell was going on here, it could wait a few more minutes. 'I'll think about it … next,' he announced, 'you will furnish me with all the details of any bank and holding accounts you have in our national jurisdiction; you will have one hour – one hour to transfer whatever you can abroad – all of it if you are lucky to begin again somewhere else and start your 'retirement'' Ron said with slight disgust, 'any monies remaining go straight to the state – this includes all properties.'
'My goodness and all that's not evil!' exclaimed Fothergill. 'Anything else? My soul, perhaps!?'
'No, thank you,' said Ron drily, 'it did cross my mind but I really don't want anything THAT shit.'
Fothergill's face darkened. Ron smirked slightly. 'Next,' he said, 'you can't have Jacob here BUT I promised you an alternative and I am going to give you a great one.'
Fothergill perked up. 'Who?'
Fothergill laughed. 'Oh, really,' he scoffed, 'and what makes you think I would agree to such an arrangement or that foul swine Abrahams would even sniff at a deal like this.' And he laughed again, looking at Ron liked he'd lost his mind.
'Doesn't appeal?' said Ron. 'Really? I thought you'd jump at the chance to have your business partner with you.'
'Business partner!?' exploded Fothergill again with derisive laughter. 'My business partner is over there,' and he pointed at Parry. 'Abrahams! Ridiculous!'
'No, Jacob here's just a great technician – a great potioneer – but he hasn't the contacts or the capital behind him. Abrahams is now one of the richest wizards in Britain and he has huge holdings abroad – especially in North America. No, you need some serious capital behind you – and Jimmy's the man to go to for all kinds of nefarious shit!'
'Ha, but I am sure you know he hates me!'
'Oh, yes, undoubtedly but I think you both tried to strong arm the other – you used existence of his sister and brother-in-law being alive to coerce him into some very good deals – he in return threatened to use his financial clout in Magical Britain's underworld to turn off the flow of an monies to you unless you played – how do muggles say it? Played ball with him. Yes, so you're a murdering shit and he's an ex Auror gone to the bad – but it works and come on! It's perfect! your great ability and his money – he's worth at least thirty millions abroad (you see, it pays to have a world wide net of helpful bloody persistent contacts) – you and he will be on top again before you know it.'
Fothergill still didn't look totally convinced. 'Go on,' he said.
'Yes,' answered Ron, 'and you can really retire whilst indulging yourself in some schemes with Jimmy – you'll be making millions – and safe away from the likes of me – I'd say it was a win-win!'
Fothergill looked genuinely torn, at least Ron thought so, but he noticed he tried to retain that passive demeanour as much as possible. 'Why don't I just use my powers to destroy you all?' he asked calmly.
Ron was quiet for a moment. Then he laughed and laughed and laughed – for at least thirty seconds – to the point of it clearly being embarrassing for the other two men: Parry was looking at him as if he'd clearly lost it! He stopped quickly and wiped the tears away. 'Go on, then.'
'What?' replied Fothergill, not completely sure he'd heard correctly.
'You heard me: go on!' said Ron, almost happily. 'Go the fuck on! Do it, William!' he shouted. Fothergill would have backed away, such was the dangerous light that had come into Ron's eyes – except that he realised he had nowhere to go, he was already against the wall. Ron glanced to his right – Parry was sat rigidly still, arms folded and compact, body language clearly saying don't notice me!
Ron turned back to look at Fothergill. 'Do you think for one paltry pissing shit-arsed second I give a fuck for you and your threats.' Ron felt a sudden calmness come over him but it wasn't some kind of reassuring resignation to fate: it was an utterly cold and chilly feeling – like all the empathy had been sucked out of him. Or rather he realised with blinding insight that it was the opposite – the knowledge that you were too much with the world that you wanted to heal all its problems and actually there was fuck all you could do: humans, wizards – the lot – we would all return to the shit from which we came and the few, the kind, the caring – they would always be struggling and losing and he couldn't stop it – he couldn't stop the Fothergills and the Riddles of. this world – they would always be there. What was worse, he'd spent most of his adult life compromising himself with it all.
He'd been crouching a little while he thought but now he pulled himself up to his full six foot five and looked down at Fothergill. He'd never believed in higher things and he wasn't going to start now but he did believe that you needed to try and be better – people had been striving for that for millennia – you had to fight for the right – and he'd failed.
'I now realise I have wasted my life in my pursuit of you. I have wasted it because I believed in myself that it was about righting wrongs and helping the world be a better place -perhaps I did in the beginning – but you know what, William – you are right – I am a hypocrite. I have gained the world and lost my soul in the way of doing that.' Now he'd begun he couldn't stop. 'and you are right, I have wasted it over utter twats like you: for all your smarm and good manners and charm, you are just another prejudiced, racist little supremacist thug who feels nothing for the world and for others, except for what they have to offer you – you are a selfish dick and you are a disgrace to the great House of Slytherin – you are just another opportunistic chancer with a vein of cruelty running through you that needs a bit of exercise now and then.'
Fothergill said nothing.
'Go on, rain destruction on us – Merlin knows I deserve it! I have utterly compromised my all – but you what? It's too fucking late for me! You want to kill my family and friends – go on! Go on, you fucker! It feels like I have spent all my time since Hogwarts in conversations like this with fucking dolt chumps like you – go on, destroy Magical Britain. Isn't that what you've been trying to do for years?' Ron laughed sarcastically. 'Fucking whup-a-do! What's fucking new?'
Then Ron was deadly serious again. 'But remember this, you cockroach: there's always revenge. Do you think you'd live securely in – ' and her Ron air punctuated, ' 'retirement'? Ha! I don't bloody think so – we're a bloodthirsty lot, us ordinary, tolerant citizens, you know, when we get going – ever seen a mob a full tilt? You think you're going to piss off abroad and live in the lap of luxury while we clamber out of the smoking ruins? Ha, you think twat! You will be the Number One target throughout the world, no question. No rest, no peace, all vengeance – we, whoever survives, will harry you, night and day, to the ends of the earth – and then some more … and then,' Ron's eyes were positively alight with glee as he smiled at Fothergill. 'Remember The DEEN, William?'
Ron was pleased to see Fothergill blanch. 'Oh yes, she's alive and going strong and just as tricksy as ever. Mind you, you know this – you met her back in your pre-Hogwarts days – and she had you sussed in two seconds – she frightened you, didn't she? You know she's a natural empath – apparently she warned Dumbledore about you – couldn't put her finger on it, but thought you were potentially very dangerous and that's why you kept such a low profile at school.' Ron paused for effect. 'She'd like to meet you again.' Fothergill now turned very pale indeed. 'Yes, she told me she would never condone torture but even she admitted she'd be tempted with you – some mention of a pair of Muggle stiletto heels and your testicles, I think …' Ron looked disgusted for Fothergill. 'Yes, go on – do it – who'd care? Why would we? Everything you value, gone, dead?' he peered harder at the man opposite him, 'all the more reason not to care anymore, nothing left to lose – and so sadly, we become what we hate. Never give people nothing to lose, William, and nothing to care about – they become very dangerous indeed.'
Ron stopped and then chuckled. 'And of course, if I survived, you think for one crap part of a second that I would leave you alone? Ha, I'd follow you and hunt you to the ends of Time and the Universe itself.' Ron stopped again and he wasn't laughing. 'You think this was all worth it? Think on this, William Aloysius Fothergill: in my pursuit of you, I have lost myself and I have spent all the goodness of my life trying to catch and destroy you – and in doing so I have become as bad as you …'
Fothergill said nothing still. 'Take the deal,' said Ron quietly. 'Give me all your operation, all your personnel, all locations; halt all operations and turn them over to me; give me all the prisoners including the Martineaus – if they wish to meet you abroad, well, in the end I can't stop them, after the trials are all over – after the allotted time your accounts are frozen, everything becomes property of The Ministry – this will be your fine, your gesture of good will – but you will still have that hour so you can bugger off abroad with what … let's estimate, I reckon you have in the region of four to five million galleons, that can be transferred either magically or muggle-wise in an instance, enabling you to keep you fortune; and I'll throw Jimmy in for good measure – your business partner – and I'll give him twenty four hours to move his operation abroad – for someone like Jimmy, with his resourcefulness, that's as easy as saying one, two, three…'
'And charges dropped?' asked Fothergill quietly.
'Not in Britain, I'm afraid. But we only have extradition treaties with forty magical nations – there are plenty of countries where our writ doesn't run – you could settle in some superb places and we would be none the wiser.'
'And you'd leave me alone?'
Ron sighed. 'As much as I would love to see you rotting in Azkaban – yes, I would leave you alone.'
'And the agreement would begin when?'
'As soon as you and I agree it will, simple as that,' replied Ron. 'If we say, I don't know – what time is it now, Jacob?' Parry quickly unfold his arms and looked at his magical wristwatch.
'It's ten to seven, Mr. Weasley,' said Parry.
'Thank you, Jacob,' said Ron. 'We agree a cease fire say at eight o'clock this morning – then the agreement begins. I tell you what – I will give you two hours – one hour to gather belongings and so on then a further hour to contact the banks and move on that – you will not contact your followers. At eight precisely, my Aurors will begin their operations – you will do nothing to assist them, they are mine. You simply get yourself and whatever money and belongings you can move out of the country.' Ron paused. 'If at the end of that two hours, by ten this morning, you are in Britain and you are captured – tough. I will give Jimmy twenty-four hours to take what he can – knowing him a fucking county-load – and go – then the same for him. He's here after that time, he's done for.'
Fothergill looked at Ron then Parry then back to Ron. 'I agree.'
'Agree to what?' came a voice from behind them all. Ron and Parry turned and Fothergill looked round Ron's shoulder.
There, by the further entrance, stood Jimmy Abrahams.
It was before seven in the morning but he was clearly dressed for business with a stylish pinstripe Muggle three-piece suit. Ron almost rolled his eyes – trust Abrahams to make an entrance and to be dressed to the nines for it!
Mind you, that was all he could trust him for…
'What are you doing here,' said Fothergill severely.
'I got a signal to come,' said Jimmy, looking between all three.
'Ah, that would be me – but I used one of Fothergill's call sign charms …' he looked back and forth between the two men. Parry continued to sit absolutely still but Ron could tell he was watching the exchange like a hawk, 'so – you do know each other,' he sighed again, this with a world of weariness behind it. 'Fuck, Jimmy! I knew you were corrupt – and after the world treated you post-Manchester I could kind of understand but … no, this is just wrong.'
'No what's wrong is you being here at all, Ron – and it certainly wasn't meant to end like this …' and he pulled a Muggle revolver from his pocket.
'Not sure that will work in here,' said Ron.
'Oh. It will work – you know me, had it adapted – it's Muggle but it will work – at least for what I've got planned…'
Ron looked back at Fothergill and thought he'd be triumphant but he saw …fear instead and Ron began to feel the same as he turned back to the advancing figure.