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HP after Hogwarts >> Let No One Put Asunder by DeeDeeVee

Simple Text - To view MORE chapters use the chapter jump box to the right.
Chapter 1- Plans

Rows of cookie-cutter office cubicles lined the room deep within the Ministry of Magic. The cubicle walls were hidden under layers of memos and notices adorned with moving pictures of rough-looking men and women who scowled or glared at every passerby. Each cubicle was crammed to capacity with a chair, a rubbish bin, two or three cabinets and a desk that, in most cases, could not be seen under the piles of parchment and files strewn about.

At this late hour, all of the cubicles were dark and void of their witch or wizard occupant except for one that was set in the corner farthest from the entry door. A young man of nearly twenty sat at his desk busily writing on a piece of parchment; he paused now and then to frown in concentration or to run his hand impatiently through his unruly, raven-colored hair.

“Blimey, Harry! What are you still doing here?”

The unexpected voice directly behind him caused Harry Potter to jump. He instinctively drew his wand and turned quickly, knocking over the bottle of ink that he had just dipped his quill into.

“Damn it, Ron!” Harry snapped. “You shouldn't sneak up on people like that! Especially not an Auror!”

Harry turned back to the report he had just completed the moment before and ran his wand over it to siphon off the ink that was rapidly spreading across the pages.

“I wasn't sneaking,” Ron protested. “Can I help it if your job makes you jumpy? I thought you would have already left by now.”

Harry succeeded in removing the last stray drops of ink from his report and replied, “Not all of us were lucky enough to get a job in the family business that lets us come and go when we like.”

Ron had initially planned to join Harry in becoming an Auror after the war. But then he decided to go to work with his brother, George, in his joke shop, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes instead. George and his twin brother, Fred, started the business but Fred was tragically killed in the final battle at Hogwarts. Due largely to the celebrations and revelry that ensued after Voldemort’s defeat, business at the shop boomed. George and his business partner and old school chum, Lee Jordan, found they needed the help and Ron was more than willing to accept the proffered position in the lucrative business. The position also afforded Ron a means to keep an eye on his brother, who, to this day, continued to have a difficult time dealing with his twin’s death.

Every once in a while Harry couldn't help teasing Ron about working in the joke shop, and normally Ron would respond with a similar disparaging comment of his own regarding his friend’s chosen profession; it usually ended in a friendly squabble, but hearing the tenseness in Harry’s voice this time, Ron decided to ignore his comment.

Instead, Ron replied, “Actually, Hermione left early to get ready for tonight so she asked me to drop by your office before I headed home.”

Hermione worked in the Ministry several floors below Harry as the head of the new Department for Magical Creature Protection and Welfare.

Ron continued, “She was afraid something might keep you and you’d be late for the rehearsal.”

Scanning the parchment one last time, Harry replied distractedly, “I had to finish this report before I leave, since I’m going to be out for the next few weeks.”

“Death Eaters again?” Ron asked, correctly guessing the cause for Harry’s tension.

The Wizarding world had heaved a premature sigh of relief after Harry defeated Lord Voldemort two years ago. With the death of the darkest wizard of the age, many naively believed life would go back to the way it was before the Dark Lord’s second rise to power. But the damage inflicted upon the Ministry during Voldemort’s reign was extensive. Even with the near unanimous election of Kingsley Shacklebolt to the position of Minister of Magic, it was taking a long time to restore order.

After Voldemort’s fall, dark wizards and witches touting themselves to be a renewed generation of Death Eaters began to reorganize. They claimed they would continue their vanquished lord’s work and they renewed a campaign of terror against those they did not consider pure of blood; namely, Muggleborns and those with Muggleborn family members.

With Kingsley’s encouragement, Harry joined the Ministry’s new Auror department, which was headed by the Minister himself. The department was crucial in his effort to re-establish the government and restore justice. Since the Auror department had persecuted so many people during the war, Kingsley believed Harry’s presence would provide the legitimacy the restructured department needed. Harry’s defeat of Voldemort on that fateful morning was now legendary throughout the Wizarding world; as a result, people continued to look upon him as a symbol of hope and as a leader able to fight against dark Wizards, whether Harry himself was comfortable with the mantle or not.

“Yeah,” Harry replied in answer to Ron’s question. “This morning we raided a building that we discovered the Death Eaters have been using. We found some dark arts contraband and the typical ‘pure-bloods should rule’ propaganda, but we weren't able to arrest anyone.”

“So you didn’t find any Death Eaters, then?” Ron asked.

Ron could hear the frustration in Harry’s voice when he answered, “By the time we got there, all but one of them were gone. If I didn’t know better, I’d think someone tipped them off that we were coming.”

Ron looked at Harry in surprise, “Is it possible somebody might have?”

Harry shook his head, “I don’t see how. Only a few people in the Auror office knew we were planning the raid. And we aren’t going to get any more answers either because the only Death Eater that was still in the house is dead.”

“You killed him?” Ron paled slightly at the thought.

“No. I didn’t even see it happen,” Harry answered, and Ron heard anger seep into his friend’s voice. “We thought the house was deserted, so the five of us split up to search it. The next thing I know, I hear curses being fired. Anderson ran into the Death Eater and he said he hit the guy with a curse that should only have stunned him. Instead, it knocked him out a third story window, and he was dead by the time we got down to him.”

Harry shook his head and continued, “Anderson had him trapped. All he had to do was hold him until the rest of us got there and then together we could have captured him and brought and him in. We’ve identified him as Hasmond Carrow; he was a second or third cousin, or something like that, to Amycus and Alecto Carrow.”

“Those two who were running Hogwarts at the end?” Ron questioned.

“The very same,” Harry replied. “I bet we might have gotten some good information out of him if we had been able to bring him in.”

Harry frowned as he thought about the one person he had not personally selected for his team. Much to Harry’s irritation, the Auror Department’s director, Auror Candlehard, had assigned Benford Anderson to his team, which left Harry with little choice in the matter. This wasn’t the first time Harry had had trouble with him.

Harry never understood how or why Benford, or Ben as he preferred to be called, had become an Auror. He was rather conceited and he did not seem to like working with others in the department, including Harry. Not long after they met, Harry also discovered he had an unconcealed dislike of Muggleborns, which put them at odds right from the beginning.

Harry knew two other members of his team, Seamus Finnegan and Alicia Spinnet, from school.

Seamus shared a dorm with Harry for the six years they had attended Hogwarts, and Harry and Alicia played together on the Gryffindor Quidditch team. Harry liked and respected both of them, so when he was promoted to team leader several months ago, he immediately requested that they become part of his team.

Harry had also asked for Kevin Weaver, one of the first Aurors he met when he joined the department, to complete his team. Kevin was a year or two older than Harry, but he had never attended Hogwarts, since his family moved abroad when he was young. Kevin was reserved and he rarely spoke about his time away from England, but he was smart, level-headed and a talented Auror.

Harry finished his account of the raid by saying, “Anderson swears he didn’t hit him hard enough to cause him to fall, but nevertheless, the guy is dead. I spent the rest of the day in meetings with him and a bunch of Ministry officials trying to explain what happened. On top of that, since I’m the team lead, I’ve been stuck here for the past four hours filling out a report explaining the same exact things we already explained in the meetings.”

“Sorry to hear that, mate,” Ron responded quietly. Then attempting to get Harry’s mind on something else, he said, “But if you’re done, don’t you think we’d better get going? You have a wedding to get ready for, after all, so it’s time to let someone else worry about Death Eaters for a while. Plus, you know Hermione will be in a right state if we don’t show up at Bill and Fleur’s soon.”

Harry glanced at the watch the Weasleys gave him for his seventeenth birthday and realized for the first time how late it actually was. He tried to let the strain of the day ease away by thinking about the more pleasant evening ahead.

Harry commented, “Only married to Hermione for two months and she’s got you running scared of being a little late? Maybe marriage isn’t such a good idea for me after all.”

Ron’s face turned slightly red, but he answered, “You know Hermione, Mum and Fleur have put a lot into helping you and Ginny plan your wedding. I just don’t want to see them disappointed by us getting there too late.”

“You mean you’ll never hear the end of it and you don’t want to miss dinner,” Harry said as a slight grin finally started to show on his face. He was grateful Ron had come by to get him because he already felt his tension starting to ease in the presence of his best friend.

“Well, something like that,” Ron replied sheepishly.

Harry ran his wand over the report which immediately folded itself into the form of a paper airplane and flew off. Then he blew out the lamp on his desk and turned to leave.

“It may not matter if we’re a bit late since it’s difficult to have a wedding rehearsal without the bride. Ginny sent me a message that something came up and she won’t be leaving Bulgaria until a few hours after the game.”

They exited the Auror office and after Harry closed the door behind them, he tapped it with his wand. Immediately, clicking and clanking noises were heard as the door’s magical locks engaged. He turned to walk with Ron down the deserted hallway toward the lifts and was surprised to see the expression on his friend’s face had darkened.

“What’s wrong?” Harry asked. “Ginny’s been playing for the Holyhead Harpies for nearly a year. You know their travel schedule is always changing. I just wish I could have gone this time; whenever they play Bulgaria, it’s a spectacular game.”

“It’s not the change in schedule that’s the problem,” Ron answered tersely. “I’d just prefer that she leave Bulgaria as soon as possible.”

“Any particular reason why?” Harry asked, surprised by Ron’s sudden change of mood.

“You haven’t seen today’s Daily Prophet, have you?” Ron asked.

“No, I didn’t have the time this morning,” Harry answered. “Why?”

He couldn’t imagine what was in the paper to cause such a strong reaction from Ron. If something significant had happened, Harry was sure he would have already heard about it.

Ron stopped walking and looked hesitantly at Harry as if he was trying to make up his mind about something. Then he handed Harry the rolled-up copy of the Wizarding newspaper he was carrying.

“I guess you’ll see it eventually, anyway.”

When Harry unrolled the paper, he saw a large photograph of himself and Ginny smiling and walking arm-in-arm through a large crowd of waving people. They were going up the front steps of the Minister’s Mansion, where Kingsley Shacklebolt resided. Harry was wearing his black dress robes; Ginny had on a long flowing evening gown and her hair was swept back so soft ringlets fell over her bare shoulders.

‘God, she’s beautiful,’ Harry thought as he gazed at his fiancé’s picture.

Harry recognized the photograph as one that appeared many times in the paper and various Wizarding magazines; it was taken just over a month ago at a gala held in the Minister’s home to celebrate the second anniversary of the end of the war. It was a rare occasion, as Harry and Ginny did not attend public events often, preferring to maintain their privacy as much as possible. The festivities also marked the anniversary of Fred Wesley’s death so, unlike most of the Wizarding world, neither of them felt like celebrating. On the contrary, Minister Shacklebolt believed their presence was necessary, given Harry’s role in ending the war. After much convincing on Kingsley’s part and as a favor to the Minister, they finally agreed to make an exception and accept his invitation.

Harry tore his eyes away from Ginny’s smiling face and looked at the photograph beside it, which he had never seen before. This one was just as large and, Harry assumed, it was the reason Ron was upset.

The photo showed Ginny sitting very close to Viktor Krum, the famous Seeker for the Bulgarian national Quidditch team, at a candlelit table. They were sharing what looked like an intimate dinner for two and as Harry perused the photo, the likeness of Krum took Ginny’s hand into his as they smiled at each other. The caption read, ‘Is the Wedding of the Year Off?’

Without reading the accompanying article, Harry handed the paper back to Ron.

“Nice photo of Ginny, but it looks like Viktor has put on some weight since I last saw him.”

Ron gaped at Harry, “That pumpkin-head is moving in on Ginny and all you can say is it looks like he’s put on weight?”

They arrived at the end of the hallway and Harry pressed the button to call the lift.

Harry replied with a shrug, “Ginny told me Krum asked her to get together for dinner if their schedules lined up while she was in Bulgaria. Looks like they did.”

“But that article makes it sound like she’s cheating on you with him! It all but calls my sister a- a—”

Ron was working himself into such a near fit that he wasn’t able to complete his sentence. Harry couldn’t help laughing at the incredulous expression on his face.

“Take it easy! I’m not happy about the insinuation, but I learned a long time ago you can’t let what they put in the papers get to you. Krum’s an international Quidditch star. With the success the Harpies are having this year, Ginny is becoming famous, too. If you add in the fact she’s marrying me, are you honestly surprised a reporter took advantage of the situation and twisted the facts?”

The lift arrived and when they stepped in Ron said, “No… but my mother is going to see that article!”

Harry answered, “I think she understands this type of thing, too.”

Ron looked doubtful and Harry continued, “Did you happen to notice that rubbish was written by Rita Skeeter? Since when have you started giving credence to anything that woman writes?”

“I haven’t, but still…”

“Ron, I trust Ginny,” Harry said. “And I don’t believe Krum would ‘move in’ on her. He’s a good bloke and he’s a friend of mine. Ginny and I have even gone out to dinner several times with him and that model he’s been dating for a while, so—”

Harry stopped suddenly and looked at Ron in astonishment, “Are you still holding a grudge against Krum because he took Hermione to the Yule Ball in our fourth year?”

He noticed the color suddenly rise on Ron’s face.

“You really have to get over that!” Harry said in an exasperated tone. “You’re the one Hermione married!”

The door of the lift opened and they stepped out into the main lobby of the Ministry.

“I know…” Ron answered. “And I realize that Skeeter woman thrives on twisting things around, but when she writes things like that about my sister, I feel like she’s going way too far.”

Harry replied, “Since I’m marrying into your family tomorrow, I think you’re going to have to learn to ignore whatever junk Rita Skeeter writes. I doubt she’s ever going to give up on targeting me and the people around me for gossip in her column.”

They reached the bank of Ministry fireplaces, but before Ron grabbed a handful of Floo powder, Harry pulled the Daily Prophet out of his hands.

Harry said, “Before we go, let’s put this where it belongs.”

He dropped it into the nearest rubbish bin and smiled, “Forget about Rita Skeeter. I’m marrying that beautiful sister of yours tomorrow and I don’t plan to let anything in the world ruin my happiness or Ginny’s.”

“Right, then,” Ron said, grudgingly beginning to grin back. “I guess we’d best be getting to the rehearsal, huh?”

They both grabbed a handful of Floo powder and within seconds they disappeared from the Ministry.

* * * * * * *

By the light of a lone lamp, a man sat in the shadows in an old house with Muggle photographs arranged neatly on the table in front of him.

None of the subjects knew their photo had been taken, but all showed Harry Potter going about various activities with those closest to him: Harry coming out of a Quidditch shop holding the hand of a very young boy; several of Harry with Ginny Weasley laughing over dinner or lunch at various Muggle restaurants; Harry with Ron and Hermione Weasley cheering excitedly at a Holyhead Harpies game; the four of them entering a theater to take in a late Muggle movie; the four of them talking over coffees in a small Muggle coffee shop; Harry looking amused by something the red-headed owner of a magical joke shop was saying; and a few others.

A copy of the day’s edition of the Daily Prophet lay on top of several of the pictures; it was folded in half so only the two photographs and their caption were visible.

He blinked several times to relieve the dryness in his eyes from staring at one of the figures on the page. His anger mounted with each passing moment he looked upon Harry Potter’s smiling face. The very thought that the Wizarding world’s ‘savior’ was happy and content with his life infuriated him beyond measure.

It was not right. Potter had ruined everything; Potter was the reason he lost so much, and so Potter would be punished.

It had taken him since the end of the war to arrange things, although today all of his careful planning was nearly undone. He thought he had shaken the Auror off the trail, but Potter discovered where he and his men had been meeting much sooner than he counted on.

But that did not matter now.

He picked up the newspaper, waved his wand and the pictures flew into the small, wooden box sitting on the table. He closed the box and absentmindedly placed his hand on the top of it. Potter did not realize what he came close to discovering today and the idiot who almost made a mess of everything was dead.

All was still well. Potter would pay and, more importantly, he would suffer.

A smile came to his lips as he thought about the first phase of the plan he would finally set in motion tonight.

Yes indeed, Potter was going to suffer very much before the end.

His eyes shifted to the words above the photographs and he silently re-read the caption.

‘Is the Wedding of the Year Off?’

“Oh, it will be, Miss Skeeter,” he spoke to the shadows that surrounded him, “but not for the reason you think.”

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