Authors note: Thank you to all my lovely followers. I truly hope you enjoy this little fic of mine. Thank you Sjay1102. Your support is everything!
A small note to say that this fic will be eventual Dramione, for the only reason that I always felt that Hermione and Ron wouldn't have worked out in the long run. I just feel that she and Malfoy would have so much more chemistry. That being said, I will not be dwelling overmuch on a relationship and it is very much secondary to the main plot. There will also be very little smut if at all (nothing against it, I'm just really not good at writing it). The M rating is mostly for dark magic, violence and language more than anything.
I will do my very best to update regularly but having a demanding eight-month-old means that pretty much everything else takes a backseat.
Once again, I do hope you enjoy.
I own nothing.
"The French ministers floo was no social call unfortunately" Kingsley Shaklebolt leaned back heavily on his chair at the head of the table in the smallest conference room at the ministry and looked down at his steepled fingers as if deciding what to say next.
Hermione took that pause to gaze blearily at the others slumped in their chairs around the table. It was 6.00 am in the morning on a Saturday and the boys had all been out drinking the night before. She herself had stayed up past 2.00 am working on her notes and presentation materials for the all-important meeting on Monday morning. Right now, much like everyone else, she was trying to shake the sleep from her eyes and stifle her yawns.
Harry sat to her right, emerald green eyes bloodshot and only halfway open. He hadn't even bothered donning his robes and had instead turned up in muggle jeans and t-shirt. Ron on her left was no better, robes askew and rumpled, rubbing at his eyes and raking his fingers through his hair as he struggled to stay awake. Seamus Finnegan, newly arrived from Albania appeared to not even have gone home after his night of drinking.
Sitting to the right of Shaklebolt was undersecretary Percy Weasley. Despite sitting stiffly in his chair clutching papers and a quill, even Percy looked slightly ruffled, hair uncombed and not quite focused. Others at the table included Kevin Whitby, whom Hermione remembered as being in Hufflepuff at Hogwarts but did not know too well, Gawain Robards, head of the aurors, Mandy Brocklehurst, a brilliant tracker who was in Ravenclaw in their year and Stewart Ackerly. Hermione and Stewart were friends and had even gone on a few dates. He was a Ravenclaw in their year at Hogwarts although she didn't really remember him at school. Stewart was a great duellist and one that Harry requested on his team many times. At the moment however, like everyone else, Stewart also appeared to be struggling to keep his eyes open.
Shaklebolt sighed and started over "There's been another attack in Nice. Two muggles killed and one apparently obliviated. The muggle authorities are working overtime; there is no cause of death because the killing curse leaves no marks and suspicion is fast falling on the man who claims to have no memory of the event. French wizarding law enforcement was too slow getting to the scene of the crime despite detecting traces of unforgivable magic, and now there are too many muggle memories to swipe. If they don't work quickly, the third man is going to be arrested and jailed for a crime he obviously did not commit" Shaklebolt finished with a wave of his hand.
"Do we know who these people are?" Mandy asked. "The two who were killed, Joseph and Melanie Guerin are or were both ancient history professors. The other man, Robin, is Melanie Guerin's brother. He works in a muggle bank" Shaklebolt replied.
Hermione felt her heart sink "Ancient history?" she asked Shaklebolt in a whisper almost. "Yes. They both specialised in ancient Greece" Shaklebolt said looking directly at her.
This was the third such attack on muggle professors who specialized in ancient Greece within the period of a year. Hermione had been on the case since last January when the first attack happened in Greece itself. Three muggle professors of three different universities had been targeted and killed with the killing curse although there didn't seem to be any signs of the cruciatus or forced veritaserum. The next attack had been in London city; a young ancient Greek professor who had just returned from Santorini; killed on her way home from work. Lastly, an entire team of American Greek scholars had been killed while on expedition in Egypt. The logistics of clearing up the Egypt murders were so complex that several ministries had gotten involved. Sadly, of the team which comprised of fifteen people, nine had been very young; newly appointed professors from the looks of it. Hermione felt her brain buzzing a mile a minute with all the information she had collected since she had begun this case and then begun to see a pattern emerging. This was getting out of hand and she felt a rush of urgency as she contemplated the latest murder.
"Wait though" Ron had spoken up. "If this is connected to the murders in Egypt, why would the killers obliviate the other man instead of killing him? They didn't seem to have a problem killing in numbers before. Has someone gone through the man's memories?"
Hermione started at Ron's question. Why didn't she think of that? She was so caught up in the specifics of the case that she had forgotten all about the other man.
"The French muggle authorities have released the man on bail pending trial. French wizarding law enforcement has not approached the man yet". Shaklebolt replied. "That's to be understood actually" Robards shifted in his chair slightly, turning to look at the others at the table. "we're supposed to exercise extreme caution when dealing with muggles, especially ones who've had their memories modified. If you're not used to magic and magic being performed on you, like wizards are, it can cause a lot of problems mentally and physically, for muggles. Going through Robin's memories would mean we would have to detain him, bring him into the French ministry and then obliviate him again when he's released. He may end up with permanent brain damage with that much memory modification. It's not practical" he finished with a sigh.
"So, we won't get to see what he knows at all? But it would help us crack the case!" Whitby's face appeared to be scrunched up in confusion, but Hermione suspected that he was also suffering from a class A hangover.
"I'm not saying it's not done, I'm just saying it's extremely dangerous. For the muggle" Robards shrugged. Shaklebolt looked at Harry for input but Harry seemed to be lost in thought and missed Shaklebolt's pointed stare. "I've requested the French ministry to hand us the case so that our team can approach Mr. Robin for his memory extraction". "Pending the decision taken about the case as a whole on Monday, we will decide how to proceed" Shaklebolt finished still stealing glances at Harry.
Hermione tensed at the mention of the meeting. It all depended on her and whether she could convince the minister and a team of ministry council members of the veracity of her claims. After that, if she's successful, these murders would be her case to solve; along with the larger issue of a certain mythical figure and her mythical box.
Shaklebolt was still speaking as she shook herself from her thoughts. "I've called you all here specifically because apart from myself, Percy and Robards, you all will be in the team sent to solve these murders if Ms. Granger is successful in convincing the council on Monday to allow you all to do so. You are all seasoned aurors, and I expect you to work harmoniously with other… parties should the necessity arise. I don't think I need to stress the importance and urgency of this case. Should you be approved for mission, you will be working with aurors from other countries as well as other personnel that have been requested specifically by Ms. Granger. I expect you to work well with them and not let down the reputation of our ministry." "That is all. You are dismissed. I will see you all at 9am sharp on Monday". Shaklebolt ended his mini speech but remained seated. "Ms. Granger a word please. Harry and Ronald please stay back as well".
Hermione hadn't even moved so she remained as she was. Ron stopped himself mid-way through a stretch and settled down again, Harry still seemed to be comatose. The others apart from Percy and Robards, shuffled out, still stifling their yawns. Stewart briefly touched Hermione's shoulder on the way in what must have been a reassuring gesture although Hermione was too preoccupied to appreciate it.
"Hermione, Malfoy has sent over a letter accepting our request that he join us on Monday" Shaklebolt began, his tone much lower and informal than before. "However, he has also requested to add two members of his team to our list, I just wanted to check if that's okay with you". At this Shaklebolt gestured to Percy who handed him a letter clearly embossed with the Malfoy crest.
"Who does ferret boy want to join him?" Ron asked with a smirk. Across from him, Robards growled at Ron's immature use of a childhood nickname. Shaklebolt too sent him a glare before returning his gaze to Hermione. "He wants Theodore Nott and Tracey Davies to accompany him. He says that they are his trusted advisors and that whatever decisions he may have to make cannot be made without them. He vouches for their trustworthiness. What say you Hermione?"
Hermione felt her face scrunch, "I remember Theodore; quiet boy, really thin, right?" "Is he a member of Malfoy's defence team?"
Beside her, Hermione felt Harry finally stir. "No" he answered. "Theo is like his right-hand man. He's supposed to be like a strategist and spokesperson and administrator all rolled into one. I've met him a few times. He's alright" Harry's voice was raspy, as if he had been shouting all night, and knowing his penchant for loud singing when drunk, he may well have sung himself hoarse, Hermione thought.
"Tracey is in his defence team. She's like a leader of sorts. She's pretty good on the field" Ron said, examining his fingers. Hermione noticed that a few knuckles appeared to be bruised and by the look on Ron's face, he was just noticing them too. She also saw his eyes widen and his quick panicked glance at Harry, who suddenly slumped further down in his chair, eyes downcast.
Coming to the realisation that something was up between the boys, Hermione rushed to finish the meeting so that she could get them to come out with it. "So, you're both ok with Theodore and Tracey?" she asked. "yes" Harry rasped while Ron shrugged indicating that he wasn't particularly bothered by it. "They can come". She said looking at Shaklebolt. She realised that Shaklebolt too was looking at Harry strangely while Robards was staring at Ron's knuckles. Percy looked like he might be ill.
"Okay then" Shaklebolt said brushing off his robes as he got up, Percy scrambling up behind him. "I shall inform Mr. Malfoy and I will see you all on Monday. Have a good weekend" with another appraising look at Harry and Ron, Shaklebolt strode out of the room, Percy at his heels. Robards strolled out a little slower, nodding at Hermione as he left.
"Alright you two, out with it".