AN: Thank you all so much for the support! I deeply appreciate it!
Not a single howler today.
Percy leaned back in his leather chair and kicked his feet onto the desk. Who would have guessed that the key to winning the public's approval was to quarantine the amnesiacs?
Percy frowned. In theory, he should have known. Still, better to learn this listen now rather than later.
Percy startled. Underneath him, the chair collapsed. He hit his head on the ground and groaned.
Michael poked his head into the room and gasped. "Oh I am so sorry. I had no idea you were in the middle of something."
"No, you are fine." Percy pulled the chair upright. "What do you need?"
Michael replied, "Danica McGrath is standing outside. She said you wanted to speak with her."
"I did." Percy straightened his suit. "Please, send her inside."
Michael gestured for her to enter.
The auror's chestnut hair was matted, as if she had just woken up from several restless hours of tossing and turning. There were circles under her hazel eyes, and her movements were jerky. Still, she made an attempt to smile.
"Ms. McGrath," Percy extended his hand. "I am so happy to see you doing well."
"Thank you," She took his hand and shook it. "I am happy to be up and around again."
"Please," Percy pointed to a chair. "Take a seat."
Danica pulled up a nearby wooden chair and set it across from Percy.
Percy sat in his seat. "I do apologize for the trouble Severus Snape gave you. I cannot imagine the nightmare you endured at his hands."
"It was my fault," Danica replied. "I should never have turned my back to him."
"Do not blame yourself," Percy answered. "Severus Snape has a way of sneaking up on people and overtaking them."
"True, but I have dealt with suspects like him before. At the end of the day is he is no different than any other Slytherin I've attempted to apprehend…"
"Severus Snape is no mere Slytherin though," Percy interrupted. "He is the exemplar of that house. Every action he performs is calculated and serves only to further his self-interest."
"Perhaps," Danica mused aloud. "Still, I never would have imagined he could harm his own daughter."
"Rose is the Head of the Slytherin House. It would not surprise me in the slightest if she was merely pretending to be his hostage. After all, the apple rarely falls far from the tree."
"I suppose you have a point there. Her loyalty to him does run deep. Despite out best efforts, we still haven't been able to contact her for a statement."
"Have you tried interrupting her classes and threatening to stay there until she agrees to give you a statement?"
"I would, but Headmaster Longbottom won't let us anywhere near her."
"That is not surprising at all," Percy folded his hands. "Headmaster Longbottom has made his disdain for the Ministry known on several occasions. It was only a matter of time before his dislike morphed into outright hostility."
"As interesting and important as the Snape case is, you did not come all this way to discuss it."
"No, I did not."
"So tell me," Percy lowered his voice. "How are the patients?"
"Many of them are confused, and others are very agitated," Danica answered. "Yet the Healers are ensuring that they are comfortable."
"Are the Healers becoming overwhelmed?"
"Not at the moment."
"It may be wise to have a few aurors on hand just in case," Percy muttered.
"Yes," Danica answered. "It would be."
"I can begin assembling a team of aurors as soon as I leave."
"Are you sure it is wise to work given your condition?"
"There is no reason I cannot work today," Danica answered. "I only have a few cuts and bruises. Sure, I'm a little stiff from the stupefy, but that should go away within a few hours."
He raised his voice. "I am so happy to hear you are doing better."
"C'mon Percy, I know you're here."
Danica glanced at the fireplace. "Do you have another meeting?"
"No, I do not," Percy replied.
"Are you sure? Because I have some preparations to make…"
"No, stay. You are fine. Please stay."
"I'm going to tell Mum you won't answer the floo!"
"I," Danica stood. "I should get going. I really don't have anything left to say, and I have work to do."
"How about I come this afternoon and update you on the patients' conditions?" Danica asked.
"That sounds wonderful," Percy replied with a wink.
Danica held out her hand. Percy shook it before storming over to the fireplace.
"What on earth do you want now, Ronald?"
Percy heard the door close behind him.
"I need to ask you a question."
"No, I do not have any money to loan you."
"I don't want money."
Percy furrowed his eyebrows.
"Okay, I could use a few thousand galleons," Ron admitted. "But that isn't the reason I'm calling."
"Why are you calling then?"
"I needed to ask you about Dad."
"What about him?"
Ron's voice grew weak. "Mum said Dad ran out on her."
Percy's expression softened.
"I needed to talk to him, but I don't know where to find him," Ron continued. "Do you know where he is?"
Percy replied. "A place where he cannot give you any money."
"Damnit, why does everyone think I only want money?" Ron whined.
"Because half of your conversations revolve around your increasing gambling debts."
"Well, this time I don't want any money. I want to see Dad."
"That may not happen for some time."
Ron's frown deepened. "Why would you say that?"
"Because he's sick," Percy replied.
"With what?" Ron asked.
Percy's eyes darted to the right, and then to the left. "Have you heard of the amnesia epidemic affecting Britain?"
"The amnesia epidemic."
"Wh-what the hell is that?"
Percy continued, "In essence, a large portion of the population has developed amnesia during the week of the full moon."
"So, they forget everything?" Ron asked.
"No, they believe they're in the middle of the Second Wizarding War, and they revert to the people they were during that era."
"Indeed, it is weird."
"Did one of them attack Dad?"
"No," Percy answered. "Dad is one of the amnesiacs."
Ron covered his mouth.
"Do not worry," Percy replied. "I have made sure that Dad is well taken care of."
"How?" Ron asked.
Percy leaned in closed to the fireplace. "You can keep a secret, can you not?"
"Oh yeah, I'm great at keeping secrets."
"Dad did not run out on Mum. He is in St. Mungo's getting the treatment he so desperately needs."
"Mum will be so relieved to hear that."
"No, she won't."
"What?" Ron exclaimed.
"Mother is not to know about this because she would worry about Father too much," Percy explained.
"But she's heartbroken about Dad," Ron argued. "It would be nice to at least let her know he didn't run out on her."
"If Mother knew where Father was then she would make his location public."
"Kind of like how you just told me about him?"
"Yes," Percy moaned. "Very much like that."
"I only told you where Father was because you are in a foreign country, and nobody will interrogate you as to his whereabouts."
"Do not fret, and do not fear. I have everything under control."
"I suppose so," Ron replied. "I just wish Mum wasn't so upset."
"It's a small price to pay for Father's recovery," Percy answered.
"Sure." Ron did not sound at all convinced.
"There's another piece of news you might be interested in."
Percy grinned. "Severus Snape is wanted for taking a hostage."
"Wh-what?" Ron's eyes were bulging.
"Severus Snape is a wanted man."
"Why and how did he take a hostage?"
"In the middle of an amnesiac episode, Severus Snape took a hostage to avoid being detained by the aurors."
"Oh cool! Now everyone will see him for the bastard he is."
"Do you want to know who the hostage was?"
"His own daughter," Percy purred. "Rose."
Ron hummed, "Rose."
"Yes," Percy replied. "The child you kidnapped is the same one he took hostage."
"This is so great!" Ron cheered. "Now all we need to do is blackmail him into dropping the charges against me. We'll tell him that if he gives me my freedom, then I'll let him have his. Oh I can't wait to see the look on 'Mione's face when she sees me running around Britain again.."
"Don't get ahead of yourself," Percy warned. "Between his money and Lucius' connections this will be a minor inconvenience to him at worst."
"True," Ron replied. "But at least now everyone will know I'm not the villain, he is."
"Yes," Percy answered. "They will."
Across town, George flicked his wand. A tape player stopped.