Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter
A/N: I love symbolism and worked my ass off to finish this story in time to post today. Enjoy.
"It's great to see you again!" Lavender's voice interrupted his thoughts as he set the quaffle on his desk to listen. The enthusiasm in his former housemate's voice piqued his interest, could he really get so lucky, so soon?
"You too, Lav." Harry took his feet off his desk and sat up in his chair, leaning into his wireless, he could almost hear the warm smile in Padma's voice. "I enjoyed your reporting in the Prophet this morning. You make a compelling case."
Harry frowned, Gabrielle had been livid. Whether it was at the accusations or how close Lavender had been to the truth, he did not know.
"Any ideas as to how Astoria carried out such a brutal murder?"
Lavender was smiling in her best attempt at being mysterious, he imagined. "You'll see tomorrow."
The line went silent for several long moments. "Have you talked with your sister?" There was a hint of desperation in Lavender's voice.
"Yes. Padma replied automatically -" Harry grinned, thankful he was recording this. He was going to take down the whole family. "Parvati will be fine."
"Are you sure?" Lavender's voice sounded anxious. Far cry from how she sounded a few hours ago. "Where is she?"
"She borrowed one of my places, she's safe, Lavender." Padma repeated comfortingly. "I'm not going to tell you exactly where she is, but she cannot be found. Don't you worry."
Padma was the secret keeper and she was protecting her serial killer sister. He really was going to take the whole family down.
The conversation rattled on for another half an hour before going dead, leaving Harry to ponder his thoughts. Fleur was starting to get restless, Gabrielle had said. Maybe it would be best to pay them a visit. She and Bill would appreciate the update.
He'd always enjoyed Shell Cottage; from the location of the comfortable home, to the stables, to the impenetrable bunker underneath; he looked forward to buying a piece of land of his own when this was all over. Maybe he would build a home along the coast with Gabrielle? The thought made him smile unexpectedly.
Harry took a long moment to enjoy the salty smell of the air, his magic reaching outwards, touching the wards softly, they responded violently to his magic causing him to retreat in alarm.
Warding and cursebreaking went hand in hand. Cursebreaking, afterall, was a synonym for treasure hunting, most treasures were guarded by an array of security measures. When Bill's ten year contract with Gringotts ended he had gone out on his own installing custom security systems for the world's elite. If the ceiling of the sistine chapel was a masterpiece, what did that make the wards surrounding Shell Cottage?
Still the soul of the wards felt fractured, as though they had been violated.
Wand out, Harry picked up his pace as he made his way down the winding path towards Shell Cottage, stopping as Gabrielle appeared. Shaking violently with tears pouring down her face, Gabrielle wrapped her arms around him tightly as she sobbed.
"How's my mum?" Victoire's voice sounded casual, but Parvati caught a hint of underlying desperation. Victoire thought she was being held captive.
Champagne lunch on Padma's terrace had become something of a routine for her and Victoire, an hour a day that Parvati had grown to treasure.
If she felt as though she was a captive, Victoire would try and escape again, she couldn't have that.
"She's fine, love." Parvati said with a charming smile.
"I'd really like to see her."
Parvati's hand twitched towards her wand in anger "why don't you write her a letter?"
Victoire frowned briefly but covered it well. "I'd like that."
Parvati smiled in relief at the temporary fix. A more permanent solution would have to come later. "Excuse me."
She left the patio quickly, shutting and locking the glass door behind her as she made her way down the hallway, stopping for a brief moment to examine a picture of herself and Padma in Las Vegas shortly after her sister's graduation from Oxford.
"She- " his voice startled her, she hadn't even heard him approach.
Parvati fingered her wand as she turned around to face Aiden. "What about her?" She played the fool but she knew what was coming. Parvati had hoped to avoid it. "Harry has people watching her."
His footsteps echoed down the hall before she had a chance to respond.
A loud alarm emanating from her wand shook Parvati out of her delirium. How long had she been crying?
A tepid touch of Lavender's cool forehead told her all she needed to know.
This was Weasley's fault. Yes, yes. They put Harry up to it. He wouldn't have visited Lav otherwise.
She felt a familiar rage swell within her. Bill and Fleur were the cause of all of this. Their mere existence threatened her relationship with her daughter.
Reaching into her pocket, Parvati grabbed her grandmother's ivory hairbrush, taking a moment to admire the craftsmanship. Her grandfather had made it himself from the tusk of an elephant he had killed. He had given it to her as an engagement gift. When Parvati found out it had been willed to Padma, she took the brush for herself.
Plucking several red hairs from the horsehair brussels, Parvati dropped one each into three vials before drinking the first.
Polyjuice potion was never a pleasant experience. It wasn't natural for your bones and organs to shift. Going so small was particularly unsettling and Parvati felt herself emptying the contents of her lunch onto Lavender's floor as she shrank before changing into a child's light blue sundress. Conjuring a mirror, Parvati took a moment to admire herself. Victoire was such a lovely girl.
A smile on her lips, she disappeared with a loud pop.
She watched silently from under her disillusionment charm as Fleur walked from the bakery towards Knockturn Alley with a slight stagger, following her weekly routine.
The creature was drunk.
Parvati smiled at her good fortune. Perfect.
She ran ahead several meters, dipping into a narrow alley on her right, Parvati undid her disillusionment charm, fussed her hair, and waited till Fleur was in view.
A devilish smile crossed Victoire's face briefly before settling into a look of terror. "Mum!"
The blonde creature stopped in her place before turning towards her, a hopeful look on her face, "Victo-" she had her wand pointed at the veela before Fleur had a chance to finish. "Imperio."
The pair stood just outside the wards of Shell Cottage, the breeze from the sea giving her respite from the sweltering sun. She couldn't go further, not without permission from one of the wards administrators.
For all it's benefits, polyjuice only affected the drinkers appearance, security this advanced relied on familiar magic.
'Give Parvati Patil clearance.' Parvati's thoughts were clear and not well received by the veela, if the look of confliction and fear were any indication.
Parvati repeated the command with more force, overpowering the drunken veelas feeble attempts at self control. The weak minded creature didn't deserve to raise such a child. Victoire demanded more care, more attention than Fleur was able to provide.
She watched as a mindless Fleur moved her wand robotically before coming to a pause several moments later.
At some point the comfortable breeze had come to a stop, leaving the pair in an eerie, still, silence, the air thick with destructive magic, she could almost taste the power behind Bill Weasley's wards.
Conjuring a knife, Fleur made her way over to Parvati, cutting her palm deeper than was necessary, Parvati winced in pain. Fleur was fighting her curse more effectively now.
She felt a warmth run through her as she commanded Fleur to lead her to their kitchen.
Fleur scowled, and she felt her control on the older woman lesson, forcing Parvati to redouble her efforts.
They walked in silence for nearly a minute before reaching the kitchen.
Parvati thought for a moment, trying to decide if altering her original plan would present a greater risk than staying the course.
Coming to a decision, Parvati turned her wand on Fleur. "Avada Kedavra!"
To her surprise, the former Triwizard Champion dove to the left, towards the marble island in the center of the kitchen, the green killing curse narrowly missing its target.
Parvati scowled as she felt the effects of the polyjuice potion wane as her bones and organs began to shift, her body expanding, bursting through the child's sundress, leaving her naked where she stood.
In the time it took for the polyjuice potion to wear off, Fleur had regained her wits, sending a wobbly piercing curse her way.
Parvati smirked as she batted away the curse - the creature was still drunk. "Avada Kedavra!" She barked.
Fleur ducked the curse with a feral growl, forgoing magic, the older veela barrelled into her , punching Parvati with reckless abandon.
She struggled beneath the stronger veela before wiggling her right fist free. Extending her palm upwards with a bit of power, she felt Fleur's jaw crunch under her strength as the Indian woman smirked viciously as she gained the upper hand.
Now on top of the woman, Parvati pushed her knee firmly into Fleur's chest as her hands found her neck and squeezed.
The creature flopped around beneath her, struggling to survive. Parvati would not let up. As long as Fleur survived Victoire would never accept her.
Parvati's grip tightened even as Fleur stopped struggling. She needed to make sure she was dead, she couldn't leave anything to chance, otherwise Lav's death meant nothing.
Feeling better, Parvati stood up to admire the body.
Removing an unspoiled vial of polyjuice from her pocket, Parvati grabbed several strands of honey blonde hair, dropping one into the vial before downing it and transfiguring Fleur's body into a lily.
A pleasant chime alerted her to a new magical signature arriving.
Chancing a glance out the window, Parvati smiled pleasantly. Harry had arrived.
He held her as Gabrielle sobbed into his shoulder, something was clearly wrong, but it could wait for her to finish. It must be nice to be loved by Harry Potter.
She had maybe thirty seconds.
Parvati increased her grip on him, delighted by the lack of armor.
Reaching up her skirt, Parvati grasped the cool steel handle of the kitchen knife she'd nicked from the kitchen.
"What was that?" She said, missing his question.
This wasn't good, he was pushing away.
She smirked and his eyes narrowed, the illusion shattered.
Parvati plunged the knife between his breastplate and ribs hoping to find his heart, but was met with bone instead.
She chided herself on such a basic mistake. She should've gone for the gut.
Harry howled, in shock as he rounded on her, rage in his eyes. She had to get out of there before he got to his wand.
Having had her fun, Parvati dropped the knife before laughing wildly and disappearing with a soft pop.
"Will you stop whining about your damn boo-boo!" She snapped. Gabrielle wasn't in the mood for Harry's bullshit. Not with her sister dead, her niece missing. "She healed you up just fine! No permanent damage!"
Harry's green eyes flashed a level of hurt before settling in. "I'm sorry." He said as he took a sip of his wine, his half eaten pheasant temporarily forgotten as her eyes fell in shame. Gabrielle wasn't mad at Harry.
"Me too." She said before hurrying to the next topic. She hated lingering on a disagreement. "I cancelled my subscription to the Prophet today." She said before taking a bite of her salmon, smiling at the perfect preparation. Hermione was right, hiring a house elf had made all the difference.
"Good." He said as she hit him with a stinger for speaking with his mouth full.
Swallowing, Harry continued. "Journalists are the scum of the earth, you know that."
For the first time in days she cracked a smile, Gabrielle was well aware of her boyfriend's lifelong war with the press. "Does it bother you that they accused you of her murder?"
He stopped eating for a second. "It bothers me that people I've known my whole life would believe I actually did murder Lav."
She nodded, and for the first time in months an awkward silence fell over them as the scraping of silverware echoed through her cozy kitchen. "You looked good today," Harry started, a cute blush filling his face and breaking any tension. "I'm sure London is buzzing."
Gabrielle looked past Harry and out the window to the posh stores and social clubs of Whisper Alley. She didn't give a damn what they thought. She didn't give a damn about tradition. She didn't give a damn about her reputation, not anymore. Zacharias Smith would be prosecuted and executed for his crimes and she had been proud to announce it to the world. Backlash be damned.
"To victory." Harry said in cheers as he tapped his crystal glass to hers. "A cadmean victory, maybe." She replied pessimistically. How could she possibly believe this victory made her life better?
Her mother, Elder Monclair, and now her sister. There was nothing left except for Victoire, and they had her as well.
"Parvati is holding Victoire at one of Padma's properties." Harry spoke, as though he had just read her mind, and knowing Harry, he may have. "Padma is the secret keeper."
A ray of hope swelled within her and for a moment she felt less defeated. "Do you know where Padma is?"
He frowned and her mood dipped. "No." He said. "I don't."
She wracked her brain. She didn't really know the woman outside the IFC, but that gave them enough of an opportunity. "There's a monthly happy hour tomorrow in Istanbul. All social members of the ICW will be there."
The bit of hope went a long way to removing the tension at the table as they ate in enjoyable silence.
"I want you to take Tonks with you." She went to argue but he cut her off. "If Padma sees me she will be suspicious, Tonks blends in."
She nodded in acceptance. "As long as you are the one to ask her." He frowned. She knew it was childish of her but she needed the most effective path at the moment, not the most mature.
"That's fine." He quipped. "While you're there, I'll pay Aiden a visit."
She nodded, her eyes falling on the purse on her countertop and she suddenly felt guilty. She'd had his key for three days.
"Where are you going?" He asked as she approached her purse, digging around for a moment before her fingers felt the soft white cloth she had wrapped it in.
Her hands behind her back, she bent at the waist, giving his lips a soft kiss before placing the cloth concealing the key in front of him.
The look of recognition in his eyes nearly overwhelmed her. "Is this -?"
"It opens all Black and Potter vaults." She said softly. "You deserve it, Harry."
He said nothing and she watched as his smile turned into a frown; isn't this what he wanted?
"It means nothing without Victoire."
She held him tight, her mind elsewhere for a long moment. "I love you." She said warmly, and although she'd said it before it felt as though she meant it for the first time. "I love you too." He said softly as they swayed in each other's arms.
She weaved about the edges of the Seasons restaurant, sticking to the shadows as she watched her target converse with the representative from Bahrain at a small round table near the middle of the room.
The Four Seasons Sultanahmet, was named for the seventeenth century Sultan who ruled the Ottoman Empire for fourteen years before dying of typhus at twenty seven. Centered in the middle of Istanbul's Old City, the mostly muggle hotel was a celebration of the Sultan's grandeur.
She eyed her prey as she finished her second martini before ordering a third from the waiter as her hand rested on the forearm of the Bahrainese delegate.
Padma was horny, but not drunk enough to sleep with a virtual stranger, martini number three would solve that problem.
Accepting her own drink, a fine pour of Colonel EH Taylor Single Barrel, Gabrielle downed her calming drought before taking a sip of her bourbon, she needed more of both.
If caught she'd likely be expelled from the ICW, setting the Veela back several years. If caught it was likely Louise and her contingent would move to have her expelled from the Zekanot entirely.
Pushing those thoughts aside, she felt the calming draught kick in as she finished her bourbon. It was showtime.
Gabrielle caught Tonks' eye and waited for the disguised waitress to exit the restaurant before she made her move. The two had come to a terse truce built around their mutual desire to see Victoire safely returned. While she didn't like the woman, Gabrielle appreciated having a skilled wand at her back less something went wrong.
Unlike her slightly younger sister, Padma had a lack of self-confidence Harry had attributed to a slight stutter during her early years at Hogwarts stunting her social development.
She felt her own confidence issues creeping in as she hyped up her aura, focusing it on the delegate openly gawking at her from several meters away as she approached. She could smell his arousal and for a moment Gabrielle grinned viciously. Preventing Patil from relieving a bit of tension was a nice secondary outcome.
Padma must have sensed that she'd lost her date's attention and turned to face her just as Gabrielle was about to pass in front of her table.
Gabrielle could see the jealous hatred in Padma's eyes, her mind no doubt recalling all the times Parvati got the guy, but Gabrielle didn't care, she only had eyes for the woman's date.
She slowed her walk and smiled charmingly, brushing the man's arm with her own as she passed. She needed this to work.
"Excuse me, Elder Delacour?" She peered over her shoulder seductively, impressed at his use of her preferred title, he was interested in her before tonight.
The well-educated man's voice held the touch of an American accent, northeastern, if she was correct. Harvard? MIT? Columbia? Yale? Is that where he spent his college years? She wouldn't be surprised.
She cleared the smirk from her face before fully turning to him.
"Yes?" She said, stepping into his personal space so he could feel her warm breath on his neck.
From the corner of her eye she could see the conflict running through Padma.
'Grow some balls Patil. I'm about to sleep with your man just because I can.'
"Can I buy you a drink?" He had balls, that was for sure. Asking a taken woman out for a drink.
She licked her cherry red lips seductively, drawing his eyes first there, then to her breasts. This man would do anything for her, for only a touch.
Maybe Annette had been right, maybe it was all about sex?
"I'd like that." Unsure of what to do, she leaned in, kissing him gently on the lips, letting it linger. "I've got to use the washroom." She said loud enough for a now standing Padma to hear. "I'll meet you here in five?"
He nodded enthusiastically. Poor fool.
Her heels echoed off the cool marble as she exited the restaurant, purposefully slowing her pace, she felt her heart begin to race. She could hear Padma's soft footsteps not far behind her.
"Delacour!" The drunk woman growled. But Gabrielle didn't stop, she'd played her role, the rest was up to Tonks.
A half second later she heard a thump hit the floor, smiling to herself, she exited a side door into the garden before disapparating without a sound.
"Huh." He said from beneath his invisibility cloak. There was no defensive perimeter, no concealment charms, no hidden defenses. It was almost as though Aiden was inviting him in. That didn't really surprise him, really.
Tossing aside his cloak, he walked through the gate, not even bothering to disable the solitary monitoring ward protecting the property. Aiden was expecting him, he was certain.
He felt a warmth in his feet from the charred earth and smelt sulphur in the air, remnants of his previous trip to the Orkney Islands a few days prior.
Aiden hadn't bothered to repair the destruction.
"I figured, why bother?" A hearty, pleasant voice proclaimed. "You've never excelled at occlumency, Harry."
He chided himself for the mental slip. Aiden's legilimency was the best in the Warlocks. "You look good Aiden!" Harry replied joyfully. "Recovered nicely from your injuries in Diagon Alley, ya?"
Aiden let out a hearty laugh while Harry's green eyes scanned the area.
Aiden's small house backed up to a steep cliff overlooking the sea at the northern end of the property. East of that, where a robust grassland once swayed in the wind, the ground was thick with ash and smoldering embers. Several large boulders to the west of the house would provide his only cover.
Would there be any traps?
No. Aiden thought he was better than him.
"You didn't land a spell on me in the alley, boy wonder."
Harry grinned, but not at the old nickname. "So it was you in the shop, then?"
He grinned. "Of course."
"Never leave rookies to do the important part." They finished together.
In an instant several spells erupted from his wand.
Eyebrow raised, the larger man batted the first two away with ease before dodging the last with a grace you wouldn't expect from a wizard his size.
"Trying to get a cheap one in, Harry?" Aiden chided with a chuckle, his body language still relaxed, though he now had his wand in his hand.
Harry shrugged; "I honestly didn't come here for a long fight, just your blood." He tapped his left breast pocket. "This bloody thing won't open without it."
Aiden's body language shifted significantly at the insult. His eyes and body narrowed as he entered a crouch while squaring his shoulders, ready to attack.
The dueling style was designed for practitioners specifically like Aiden; big athletic specimens with broad shoulders and quick feet. The large target area presented their biggest weakness, the style limited that weakness.
The precise dodging and a reliance on spell deflection minimized the need to waste time shielding.
Though the technique had been designed for men of Aiden's stature, it gained notoriety as the style of choice for dueling prodigy Bellatrix Black, before becoming infamous with Bellatrix Lestrange during the wars with Voldemort.
It was also Harry's preferred method of destruction.
He felt it before he saw it, contorting his torso out of the way of a particularly nasty organ remover and returning fire with several pointed steel rods of his own, hoping to impale his old friend before Aiden had a chance to get on a roll. The man was an offensive dynamo and it seemed best to not toy with his food.
Instead Aiden transfigured the rods into three grizzly bears.
While Harry took care with the bears, Aiden found his rhythm, forcing Harry to continue to dodge left, out of the charred grassland and closer to the cliff, his old protege was trying to box him in.
He growled, more to himself than to Aiden, who was continuing to send spells his way at an alarming rate. The rods were a poor choice. His mistake cost him a quick fight.
A flick of his wrist filled the afternoon sky with a wave of thick black smoke, providing him a moment's reprieve while he sprinted unseen towards the boulders, hoping to flip the field.
Guessing his play, Aiden unleashed a barrage of spells towards where Harry was headed.
Stopping, he pointed his wand upwards, twirling twice counterclockwise before striking downwards violently.
The magic was instantaneous as bolts of lightning rang down from the sky, dissipating the smoke and re-igniting the earth, causing Aiden to run towards him, wand levelled, curses flying.
Harry dodged the American's first two spells, but took a bonebreaker to his left arm to avoid a well placed killing curse.
Smirking, Harry flicked his wand four times in quick succession, unleashing a dozen small metal orbs Aiden's way with each flick.
His opponent took four to his lower abdomen, and another handful to his right thigh, splattering blood over the field. "You've finally taken my advice!" Aiden cackled with glee at Harry's use of the orbs, one of the Aiden's favorite tricks.
"Someone I used to know said it was impossible to dodge them all."
Both wizards lowered their wands, taking stock of the situation. " How long were you involved?"
Aiden shrugged. "I started looking into the disappearances after we sparred at the club." Aiden took a cautious step to the right, "her and Smith were foolishly simple to find. If you had had my resources you'd have found them too."
He pondered that, so there really was nobody looking into this?
Aiden shrugged, his posture more relaxed. "Money."
"I don't need legilimency for that one, Ace."
Aiden chuckled, "no, suppose you don't." They paced quietly for several long seconds.
"You know it was always about you -"
He rolled his eyes "Merlin, Ace. Are you really about to dive into some soliloquy about not being recognized? I left the Warlock's in disgrace and spent the next four years as either a private investigator or a drunken fence, depending on who you ask. You became the first cowboy to lead the Warlock's."
Aiden smirked. "Fine. But it was a little bit about the money." They fell silent as Harry continued to position himself closer to the boulders.
"I was bored." Aiden said simply, no deception in his voice.
"Bored?" Harry found himself bitterly disappointed with the man's response. He expected more, a hatred for him, maybe. Boredom was such a dull motive.
"I'd assumed you hated me and wanted to prove that you're better than me?"
Aiden shrugged. "I don't hate you, and I am better. I don't need to prove it to you or anyone else, though when I walk away alive, it will be obvious, I guess." He finished with a shrug.
Surprising him, Aiden attacked, a whip of black and purple flames racing towards him in anger.
The ground sizzled as the whip narrowly missed his left cheek before Harry had a chance to respond. Several bonebreakers leapt from his wand as he moved forward, following up his initial volley with a pair of disembowelment charms.
Aiden dodged away from the ugly charms and right into a laceration curse, cutting him laterally across his upper chest, letting out a roar as the smoke from the fire began to obscure Harry's view.
Sensing his opening , Harry charged, wand flowing in anger as he hurled spells towards his opponent, only for his eyes to widen in surprise as they passed through the illusion.
His body tensed as a spell made contact with his back, causing him to howl in pain.
"You've always been rash," Aiden said from behind him as his old friend calmly approached.
He let out an exaggerated cry, much to Aiden's pleasure as Harry turned to face the younger man.
Harry felt his back spasm once more as the pain spread from his lower back to his legs and upwards towards his chest, leaving him in pain everywhere it touched.
What was this curse?
"My own invention" Aiden started.
Reaching back with his left hand to grasp his back, he slowly positioned his wand towards Aiden from underneath his right sleeve.
"You'll be completely paralyzed soon."
Aiden wasn't bluffing, already he could feel the spell begin to creep upwards towards his neck.
'Wingardium Leviosa.' The simple first year spell took almost no effort, and yet it had so many uses. You could levitate a feather, or levitate a picture to hang on a hard-to-reach location, or you could use it to crush a grandiose bastard giving his cliched bad guy speech like the piggy he is.
Slowly the large boulder began to rise.
"I lied to you earlier, you know." Aiden said conversationally. "I do hate you."
His hazel eyes turned cold.
Color me shocked. Harry thought, keeping his focus on the boulder.
"I hate that you're famous for a series of events that you survived through almost no skill of your own."
He felt the effects of the spell begin to affect his arms, first his left, then slowly his right, it was like he was moving in concrete, he didn't have long.
He redoubled his focus. The boulder was nearly in place.
"You became who you are not through talent, but because you were given every opportunity to be great, and still you nearly fucked it all up."
He was really on a roll now, he hadn't even noticed the boulder floating above his head, yet. "You're the least impressive of the golden trio."
The shadow finally grabbed Aiden's attention causing his eyes to widen in alarm as Harry smirked.
"Hey Aiden?" He said, a mocking song in his voice. "Which is better? Law and rescue, or hunting and breaking things up?"
Releasing the spell, the large boulder fell from the sky, crushing Aiden beneath its weight, covering Harry in blood and gore while releasing Aidens spell.
Slowly getting to his feet, Harry wiped his face clean before grabbing a bit of Aiden's intestine from his shirt with a grin. "This will do!" He exclaimed merrily to the ruined field before removing a small package from his pocket.
Re-enlarging the package, Harry didn't take a second glance at the rusted metal lockbox before slapping the bloody bit of intestine on top.
With a soft yellow glow, the box popped open leaving Harry to peruse the contents. As he browsed he took stock of what he found, all of which corroborated or expanded upon Flint's evidence.
As he came towards the end of the documents, he stopped to smile broadly at a picture of Parvati and a terrified Victoire drinking champagne on a rooftop patio.
Victoire was alive.
"-Harry James Potter!" Hermione's voice jumped several octaves higher as she finally lost patience with him dancing around the question. "Is Padma Patil behind that door, yes or no?"
Next to his high-strung friend Hugo looked more amused than anything, if the look on the middle-aged lawyer's face was anything to go by.
He shared a glance with Tonks and Gabrielle. The Indian Ambassador had been missing for nearly two days now and the fallout of their plan hadn't even begun to manifest itself yet. Time was running out, pretty soon the Patils would report their daughter as missing.
"Hermoine -" Tonks started. "We don't know what you're talking about." The words of the metamorph were slow and deliberate in an attempt to make her point. "But -" his friend started before he cut her off.
"Hermoine!" His voice was firm as he met her eyes. "We don't. Know what. You're talking about." He glanced towards Hugo who wore an amused look on his face. "But if we hear anything, we will let you know."
Hermione looked ready to argue when Hugo gently grabbed her by the wrist. "We are not investigators, Hermione." He said calmly as he led her from the room. "If our clients need us, they have our number." Hermione frowned but didn't argue the point further. "If you have anything to tell me, you know where to find me."
The two lawyers left the trio alone in silence. "Gabrielle." He started, a bit of guilt crept into his consciousness, he hated putting her in this position but he saw no other way, "how does the Zekanot issue an arrest warrant?"
Tonks raised an eyebrow, no doubt understanding where he was taking this. "Evidence would need to be produced to the legal committee who would vote on an official warrant, they would then need signoff from two Elder's."
He frowned slightly. He was hoping she would have that power unilaterally, hadn't Annette?
Seeing his frown Gabrielle seemed to catch on to his line of thinking. "Any Elder, however, can issue a decree asking someone to come in for questioning."
"How are those recorded?"
Gabrielle smiled at the metamorph deviously. "In the registrar."
"Is there anything special about this registrar? Any special protections or security measures?"
Gabrielle shook her head. "Just my signature and a shred of evidence to support the need for questioning."
"Well we have that." Harry said with a smile. They had been disappointed to find that Aidens box contained no information on Padma's possible involvement. He did, however, have that recorded conversation.
Gabrielle nodded. "That will do."
"Do you and Tonks want to take care of that while I tend to our guest?"
Gabrielle nodded in affirmation. "Yes."
He watched from the otherside of the observation wall as Padma stood up from her cot and began to pace the room anxiously before taking a seat at the small desk and browsing some of the books they had provided her.
She looked confused and unnerved, but most of all Padma looked tired as if she hadn't slept in several days.
She'd now spent the better part of two days and a night in her room with no human contact and no explanation. Just a cot, a desk, a handful of books, and three meals a day.
It was time. She was ready.
Padma looked up in fear as he slowly opened the door and stepped into the room.
"Good afternoon, Padma. How are you?" Harry began as he plopped down into the desk chair in reverse, so that his arms and chin could rest on the uncomfortable wooden chair.
"H-H-Harry." She got out. The former Ravenclaw's childhood stutter makes an appearance.
Unlike her twin, Padma was quiet, reserved, and extraordinarily intelligent. After Hogwarts she had studied Law at Oxford with Hermione before entering politics.
Silently he removed the orb containing her conversation with Lavender and hit play.
He watched as her eyes widened, first in surprise, then in fear at what the evidence meant for her.
"Shortly after this conversation Parvati killed Lavender, then she went to Shell Cottage and murdered Fleur Weasley and stabbed me."
Padma's face screamed fear but she remained silent.
"Tell me where she is. If we recover Victoire alive then Gabrielle and the Zekanot will publicly thank you for helping aid in the capture of an international fugitive, and you will look like an impartial hero standing up for justice, even at the expense of family. I imagine you'll be quite effective in your role, after that."
"She's my sister -" Padma's defense was feeble, she didn't even attempt to acknowledge his greater point.
"And she will kill you the second she suspects you've spoken with me."
Padma looked like she wanted to fight but her intelligence won out and a look of contemplation overcame her exhausted face. Finally, she nodded her head. "Promise me you won't kill her?"
He couldn't promise her that, but he would try. "I promise."
An overwhelmingly sad demeanor overcame Padma as she nodded her head in agreement. "Fine. But I want this in writing and filed with my lawyer."
Dressed in jeans and a light red t-shirt, Harry navigated through the posh lobby and to the elevator without raising suspicion, courtesy of a notice-me-not charm. He had left Padma's cell with a secret and some intel before immediately apparating to the location he was given.
Parvati had taken refuge in a posh apartment complex overlooking the Thames. The forty second floor belonged to the Patil family, and Harry had a sneaking suspicion that the Patils stole the floor from muggles back in the early part of the millennium when regulation was non-existent and the muggles were ignorant.
Reading the note and looking back at the dash, Harry smiled in wonder as a button for a previously unseen forty second floor appeared.
The penthouse had four bedrooms over two levels as well as a private rooftop garden and two balconies. It was likely, Padma said, that Parvati was keeping her in one of the two guestrooms on the second floor, to the right of the staircase.
Throwing on his invisibility cloak, Harry exited the lift into a well lit atrium with marble floors and Victorian decor, classical music rang through the place while work from the Old Master's gazed down upon him, making him feel as though he were in a museum.
Pausing for a moment, Harry flicked his wand. There were eight magical signatures in the apartment, one of which was a veela.
Victoire was alive, he felt some tension relieve itself at the realization.
He also recognized Parvati in the room next to Victoire's.
Each room had two guards outside their doors. Poor planning on Parvati's part. She'd gifted him a killbox.
The two remaining guards were in the kitchen.
Wand in his right, knife in his left, Harry silenced his feet and slowly made his way through the atrium.
"She's going to kill us." The voice was young, nervous, and male.
"She's not going to kill us." The second voice was also male, and seemed uncertain.
Harry smirked. Parvati kills everyone.
"She kills everyone." The first male voice was getting louder as Harry approached the stocky brown haired man from behind, he was about to become visible to guard number two at the table and prepared himself.
"What the -" Harry's severing charm didn't let the man at the table finish his thought as the violent red light met the man's jugular at about the same time Harry's knife slit the second guards throat, covering him, and most everything else in crimson.
His shoes silenced, Harry sprinted towards the spiral staircase, making his way to the second floor and hanging a right, getting several steps in before reaching the impasse leading to Victoire's hallway.
Harry observed the four men; three righties and a lefty, all four at least twelve and a half stone. They were big, but packed into a narrow corridor, and two of the righties would be casting from the same side, they'd disrupt each other, if it got that far, which it wouldn't.
"I'll be right back, gotta take a piss."
"Make it quick."
He sighed. So much for bloodless and efficient.
As the guard made it around the corner, Harry's blade found his gut as he made himself visible, using the first guard as a physical shield, a killing curse already on his lips.
"Hey!" One guard yelled as Harry hit him with a killing curse, drawing the attention of the two guards.
Harry smacked the pair of explosion curses into the wall, causing the penthouse to shake violently and leaving the burgundy wall with a massive hole.
"Explosion curses? Really?" He said, ditching the physical shield. "There's a child in there!" He said, pointing at the room where Victoire was being held.
The two guards fell for the distraction, giving Harry a moment to hit them both with killing curses before calmly making his way to Parvati's room.
"Oh Parvati! Come out and say hi, it's been so long!"
He heard a hysterical laughter from behind the door. "Why don't you come in doll, let's have a chat."
Carefully opening the door he found Parvati in black lingerie, applying dark red lipstick in front of a full length mirror.
Not turning around, but glancing at him through the mirror, she smiled. "It looks like you've been having some fun!" She cooed, finally moving to face him.
Placing her hands on his shoulders she smiled as she looked him in the eyes. "Tell me you're not aroused by all this."
He raised an eyebrow. Parvati was insane. "I'm not."
"Huh." She genuinely seemed surprised by his response. "I am." She replied before changing the subject.
"How'd you know it was Padma?"
"I overheard a conversation between her and Lavender shortly before you killed her."
"YOU KILLED LAVENDER!" She roared. "You, and the Weasleys, and Delacour." Her anger turned to sobs. "It was just Veela, Harry!"
The swing in her mood was dramatic and jarring. She'd lost her grip on reality.
"You're not going to hurt me, Harry."
"No. I'm not." He sighed. "Stupefy."
He sat there staring at her for a moment, unable to hate her like he should, like she deserved. With a sigh, he placed a pen on her chest and activated the portkey, sending her straight to the holding cells at the reservation in Menton. She was no longer his problem.
Alone in the room, Harry exhaled, a smile on his as he exited the room and crossed the hall, pausing at the door to Victoire's room.
'She's to the right of the door, in the corner.'
Opening the door and turning to the right, he nearly laughed at the sight of a restrained Victoire swinging a paperweight at him before recognition dawned in her beautiful blue eyes.
Victoire launched herself at him, wrapping her tiny arms around his neck as she cried. "It's okay, it's going to be okay."
The truth was, a nightmare awaited Victoire outside these walls, but that's not what she needed to hear right now. She could face that another time.
Victoire pushed back, an odd look on her face as she looked at him, and for the first time he realized he was covered in blood. "Don't worry love, it's not my blood."
Her friends stopped, but she waved them on. "I'll see you in the hall."
Zoe nodded, leading Teddy and the others towards the door of the transfiguration classroom. "No need, Miss Weasley. Your aunt wanted me to give you this, that is all."
Victoire smiled kindly at her second favorite professor. "Thank you, Headmistress McGonagall."
The elderly witch sent her off with a soft smile.
"What'd McGonagall want?" Teddy greeted her with the second she exited the classroom.
She smiled used to the questions by now. Her aunt said it was because he liked her, but she just found it annoying.
"Gabrielle sent me a letter, the Headmistress was just delivering it."
The Ravenclaw smiled and turned his attention back to Ewen.
"Maranda!" She quipped, grabbing the Gryffindor's ear. "Have you picked your electives?"
A bit of doubt came into Victoire's voice as she pondered her options. She was already so advanced in creatures, and Harry said only lunatics take divination. That left ancient runes, healing, arithmancy, and the mysteriously named 'Magic' that her uncle refused to give her any insight into.
As the rather large group walked, Victoire was aware that the conversations around her had come to a halt while she chatted with Maranda, and Victoire had to remind herself to involve others.
"I'm not sure yet. What about you?"
The group seemed curious to hear her response as they came to a stop in front of the great hall. They had about three minutes until the bell rang.
"I can't not take Magic." She said impulsively, before chiding herself silently. She wasn't sure what she was taking and now half of next year's third years would want to take a class none of them would be qualified for. "I'm not sure about the rest. What about you, Lily?"
Tara's fellow Hufflepuff glanced at her best friend before answering. "We were definitely taking Magic, and I think we'll also take healing."
Tara had taken a liking to healing since moving in with her and her dad.
Around her the conversation went on but Victoire found her thoughts elsewhere. What would her mother want her to take? Would her grandmother take healing or arithmancy? She was told it should be her own choice, but she couldn't help but wonder what they'd think of her.
The bell shook her from her thoughts as the group separated, leaving the Gryffindors and Slytherins to make the journey to class alone. Even though they were two minutes late, they weren't worried about tardiness as they took their seats. Their professor had never been on time in her years here.
"Do you think he'll keep his promise?" Casey asked hopefully as they took their seats.
She smiled at the excitable blond Gryffindor. "He always does."
Truth be told she was excited for this class. She'd grown up around Harry and had heard all his stories, these would be new for the rest.
She loved him so much. He saved her life.
It had taken nearly two years for her and Tara to accept what they'd been through. Without the support of Harry and Elder Potter she wasn't sure they'd have survived, her father owed them too, now that she thought on it.
The sound of a slamming door and cheers from her fellow classmates brought her back to reality as a grumpy Harry Potter entered the room. In his two years in the role two things had yet to happen; her uncle showing up on time to class and her uncle losing a bet.
Taking a seat at his desk, Professor Potter stared at her menacingly.
"My minions -" he said, a scowl in his voice. "Because Sltytherin, led by a stupid second year, of all people, beat my Lions, you get one day to ask me any questions you may have."
"Youngest seeker of the millennium, I'm told." She quipped, interrupting him and drawing a laugh from her peers.
"I was younger." He snapped back.
Taking a deep breath, her uncle smiled softly. "Now, who's first?"
Victoire raised her hand.
"Not you, you're disqualified."
Harry's comments earned more chuckles, including from Victoire. Elder Potter told her that being able to laugh at yourself was important.
"Moon! You look particularly eager to ask me something. What do you want to know?"
The mousy black haired boy nearly jumped out of his chair in excitement.
"Dumbledore is widely considered the greatest Headmaster in Hogwarts history-"
She sat up at attention, a smile tugging at her lips. This would be good.
"-they say he's the only one Voldemort ever feared. What made him such a great Headmaster? And how lucky do you feel to have lived under him?"
Her uncle smacked his head on his desk in frustration. "DUMBLEDORE-" her uncle yelled, loud enough for the old Headmaster's portrait to hear Harry from the Defense Professor's attached office. "Was too cheap to buy property and the Board of Governors wouldn't let him live here if he didn't work."
This time Victoire couldn't contain her laughter as her uncle grinned her way, her troubles momentarily forgotten.
A/N: That's all, folks! Thank you so much for reading! Somehow this story got less love than PtP and I'm baffled. I'm very proud of this one, could it have been better? Yes. But it was leaps and bounds better than PtP and that means something to me.