We finally see Ron's ability to put together a plan and lead the men.
On the Farm
"Okay, guys. Here's a new one. That rumor Struthers heard has some backing now. Tonight, we're going to see what's happening." Ron pulled out a map and pinned it to the board. "I've got an informant who has seen some things in Devon. It looks like some kind of dark magic gathering. We'll let you know what we're doing soon. In the meantime, catch up on your reports from the Surrey job. Fords, punctuation would be greatly appreciated." There were some laughs as the ten men and women dispersed back to their desks.
"What's up?" Harry gathered his papers and tossed them onto another pile before sitting in the new bare spot on his desk.
For the next quarter hour, Ron filled his fellow team leaders in on the lead. Together they marked out a plan that looked much like what Woods would draw out for a Quidditch match.
"I don't know. I'm going to need to see it." Harry was trying to picture the two farms in his head.
"I'll call and arrange a recon, but we need to be careful. I don't want to scare them off." Ron turned on his desk and reached for his modified phone. He pushed a button, "Exchange? I need a number." He rattled off a number and soon he was put through. "Erik, yeah, thinking about that supply cupboard, good one there. Anyway, I was wondering, can a colleague and I get a little tour today? Half hour, makes it Six-thirty? That'd be great. Meet you same place as before? Ta."
Harry raised an eyebrow. "Don't ask." Ron looked back at the plan on the large board. "How about bringing your Cloak? I'd like you to get up close and personal to the fields across the way. The more we know before we send the troops in, the better."
Harry opened the small locker behind the desk. Like Chumsworth and Ron, he took off his robe, tie and black shiny shoes. Over his regular clothes, he put on the worker's old coveralls that he kept handy for undercover work. His feet were now covered with work boots. Aurors work best when they can blend into both worlds. He checked his pockets for any supplies needed, made sure his cloak was tucked securely in the leg pocket of the coveralls. "Set," he announced.
Ron was also ready, but they were waiting for Chumsworth who seemed to have put on half a stone since his last holiday. The front zip didn't quite want to meet. Finally, Harry just waved his wand and caused the coverall to expand a size. "Time to hit the gym," the older man admitted. They looked like a group of farm workers, if no one looked too closely.
They Apparated behind the pub. It was going on full now.
They found Erik sitting glumly in the same back booth, nursing a pint. So as not to not draw any attention, the three slid into the booth without saying anything. Erik raised his eyes, expecting the worst. "Oh, thank God. I was afraid you was them."
"Them?" Ron asked.
"They were in here. Over by the bar," Erik whispered.
Harry, who faced the bar, was able to take a quick look. "What am I looking for?"
"Tall, dressed flash-like. Not what you'd expect for farm work." Erik took a swig of his beer and used it as an excuse to glance around. "Not there anymore." He looked closer at all the patrons, no longer trying to be inconspicuous. "No, they're gone. Look, I still need to get evening chores done and morning gets here early, if you know what I mean. I'm glad you're here to check it out, but I got to stay out of it, right? If it's all innocent, I don't want no trouble with neighbors."
"Right," Ron reassured him. "In fact, if you see us, ignore us. "
He nodded in relief as they left the pub. Chumsworth looked around the street, nodded a few times and chuckled. At Erik's unasked question, Harry said, "He's a Legilimens. He can hear thoughts. Got anything there, Chums?"
"Nothing more than work-related or wanting to shag a wife when he gets home. Oh, that guy wants to shag someone else's wife when he gets home, naughty, naughty." The older guy chuckled as he led them to Erik's farm.
Ron and Chums crawled into the cab with Erik, but Harry moved around to the back. When he blinked, Erik no longer saw him. What he did see was the cloth in the bed of the truck get moved aside as though by an unseen hand. He had forgotten the wonders of the magical world.
As they turned down the road, Ron laughed, "Lighten up, mate. You look like a dragon's rutting for you. Tell me about your wife, you have a wife, right?"
Erik smiled nervously. "Yeah. Linda. She's a teacher over at the primary in town. No kids. Just not happened for us yet." He shifted and eased over a rut in the road. "Been married for nearly five years now. I told her about, well, you know, but never showed her nothing. I remember what was drummed into our heads about secrecy. She thought it was cool, but never asked about it."
When they were nearly there, Erik stopped so they were not seen by his house. "That's the farm with the flashes. It seems quiet now, but I bet by night fall things will happen. It always does just after sunset." He could feel the truck move around as something, someone, leapt from the back.
"Okay. I'll pull into my place. That far side of the barn might be a good apparating place for your guys. But, please, my wife… "
"We'll take it from here, Mate. I'm sure you'll know when something happens but stay away from your windows. Answer what questions she asks but stay away from out there. Do your chores and get back inside. Understand?" At Erik's nod Ron continues "We'll let you know how things work out." Ron and Chumsworth piled out and ran towards the barn. With a shrug, Erik put the truck into gear again and went to park near the kitchen door. His wife's little ford was parked so he knew she was home. It was time to have a talk with her.
Ron lifted his wand and a patronus ran of into the distance.
Standing in the shadow, Ron and Chums waited. They counted the number of men and their placement. There were enough flashes of lights to light up a Quidditch pitch.
"Hey, got what you need?" came a disembodied whisper from Ron's left.
"Blimey, why does that never get old?" Ron jumped but remembered to stay quiet.
"Getting better, Potter. I didn't hear you that time," Chums said, still scanning.
"Good to know." Harry pulled the cloak off him and looked around. "The house looks to be set up with classrooms with a total of about fifteen men and a few women. Most of them looked like who we went to Hogwarts with them. I saw Pansy Parkinson and a few others." He nodded to several others of their team who had just apparated near them. "I felt several muggle repulso charms but nothing to keep us out. Ron, this is your party. What now?"
Ron stood in thought for a few moments while the team assembled and readied. "Alright. We'll need to divide and get into that house. I don't want anyone getting out to escape. You said some of our classmates?"
"Yeah, here was Gordon, Parkinson and a few more from Slytherin. Some were also from the years below and before us. A few older blokes, middle aged I'd guess, doing all the talking. It felt like a reverse D.A."
"Lovely." Auror Foster mumbled. He had missed out on the D A by a year.
"I don't think they'd be expecting any trouble tonight. Surround the house. Throw up some shields they can't get through and then let's go in all at once. I want stunning spells and throw in some sleeping spells if you can. We need to get information before mistakes cause some harm." Ron pulled his wand and looked over the team, "Any questions?"
No one spoke up so Ron twisted about and apparated across the road. In seconds, the others followed. When the last was in place, Ron sent up a small flash and soon a domed shield was in place, enclosing the team and the house. Harry and Chumsworth stayed on the outside, eyeing the surrounding fields.
Ron was right. No one was expecting them. Each room was shocked, stunned and then put asleep within seconds of Ron's signal. The 'students' and 'teachers' were bound and secured before the aurors moved to clear the rest of the house. From the cellar to the upper floor, all was under control.
Ron put Foster in charge of calling another team to help process the captured suspects. He stood outside the house, breathing the farm air. He felt a little nostalgic. He had grown up on a farm just twenty miles or so from here. If only he and Hermione could find something like this place. They had been looking for a place like this.
A sound snapped him from his revelry. A rustle, then a movement, a screech of rusted metal grinding . He could hear Harry scream, but a large tractor had turned itself on and large tilling blades were coming right at him… Then darkness.