Chapter 30 – The Locket, The Dancer & The Toad
Grimmauld Place, London
Ten days had passed since the battle at The Burrow but it felt like so much longer for the rangers. The day after the wedding they had decamped to Grimmauld Place to begin setting up their new base of operations. No further words were exchanged with the Order but they agreed to keep all contact to a minimum. With Voldemort now in charge of the Ministry via his puppet Pius Thicknesse, the Death Eaters could legally move against member's of The Order with the flimsiest of evidence.
In retaliation for Snape's defeat, the Dark Lord had stepped up his attacks on the country. There was almost one attack a day and the teens were exhausted. Coupled with the fact that they couldn't really leave Grimmauld Place, tempers were beginning to fray.
In an attempt to prepare the house for the new equipment, the Rangers spent every available hour clearing the property. Kreacher wasn't helping, it felt like everything the Rangers did, the house elf went behind them and undid. The rest of their time was spent training and planning their next move. Except they weren't sure what to do next. The note inside the fake locket mentioned an 'R.A.B' and so far, all of their research had failed to turn up anyone matching those initials.
Harry was sound asleep when the sound of Mrs Black's shrieking woke him up. It wasn't the first time that had happened, she really wasn't happy about the presence of muggles inside her old home. What was surprising was the loud crash that followed around ten seconds later.
The bang was so loud that everyone immediately got out of bed and raced downstairs. Their eyes fell on the portrait, or what was left of it. Someone had smashed a large hole in the wall right through the mad woman pictures. Moments later a small brunette dressed in a pair of black jeans and a purple checked shirt stepped through the hole. In her hand was a sledgehammer that looked comically oversized against her small frame. Perched her on her head was a pair of red framed looked at the stunned expressions of everyone and said, "Hi I'm Kiera Cranston, I think you're expecting me".
It was true, they had been expected the arrival of the purple Dino Charge Ranger, just not at seven o'clock in the morning smashing a hole in the wall, "I had to run a cable through this wall", she continued, "I hope you don't mind the damage".
"I do hope Sirius is watching this", Harry laughed, "because he will be pissing himself with laughter".
With everyone now wide awake, they gathered in the kitchen for an emergency meeting. After sorting out a round of coffee, Harry began, "I don't know about you but I'm going mad inside this building", he shook his head, "I don't know how Sirius managed it for nearly a year".
"Not like we can do much about it mate", Dean flashed yesterday's edition of the Daily Prophet. The Ministry had declared them all Undesirables with Harry leading the way as number one, "Why am I only number five?" he groaned, not for the first time in the last 24 hours.
"I've been thinking about that", Cho began, "they're not going to be looking for us in the muggle areas of the city. No Death Eater in their right mind is going to stake out a McDonalds or an Angus Steak House. They're going to concentrate on the wizarding areas and the immediate muggle streets".
"Won't they pass on your details to the police?" Kim asked.
"Unlikely, their arrogance and hatred for all things muggle means they would never ask for their help", Hermione answered. "So as long as we avoid Charing Cross Road, Oxford Street and the Whitehall area and we should be fine".
"So avoid tourist areas", Dean added, "good thing you've got a Londoner to help you out then".
"Good because I could do with a proper breakfast", Harry groaned, "no offence to Ginny's cooking but she no patch on her Mum", he smiled sweetly at his girlfriend.
The white ranger glared before rolling her eyes, "Alright fine but we also need supplies, so Dean as you know the city so well, you can go with Ron and Cho to get some food. If Hermione doesn't mind she can stay and help Kiera then once one of our groups is back you can stretch your legs".
"Guess that leaves the four of us", Kim smiled, "which means a double date", she clapped her hands together.
Dean broke out into a fit of laughter, "In this part of London, good luck finding quality food". The original pink ranger brushed him off, surely he must be exaggerating.
Soon though, Kim realised the green ranger was correct, "Dean wasn't joking was he?" Kim picked at a rubbery piece of scrambled egg of her plate.
"Look on the bright side, at least you've now experienced a traditional English greasy spoon cafe", Harry laughed. The quartet had spent nearly fifteen minutes wandering up and down the local streets trying to find somewhere decent to eat. Eventually they settled on the least run down cafe in the area, a dirty looking place next to Highbury and Islington railway station.
Tommy didn't mind the questionable quality, instead he ate like he hadn't eaten for several weeks, "Any more ideas about your next plan of action?"
"Not really", Harry sighed and cast a quick charm to silence their table, "despite taking over the Ministry, Voldemort still hasn't shown himself in public. Without a clear lead on his base, we've just got to sit back and wait".
"Yeah but not too much", Ginny added, "maybe we should try and draw him out a little bit".
"Decent idea but that could be dangerous", Tommy began, "you want to dangle the carrot but you don't want to expose yourself too much".
"Could be dangerous for people around us if a fight starts in the wrong place", Harry stated, "we want to draw Voldemort out but on our terms".
The door to the cafe opened and a couple of builders walked in and sat at the table closest to the door. Moments later a tall blonde hair woman followed them inside, she looked at the group and smiled broadly, "I don't believe it", she said in a broad Australian accent, "Tommy, Kim what are you two doing here?"
"Kat, what are the chances", Kim jumped out of her chair and hugged the woman, "we're here on holiday with a couple of students of Tommy's".
"Guys this is Katherine Hillard, she's teaching ballet at the Royal London Academy", Tommy began, "Kat I'd like you meet Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley". He leaned a little closer and whispered, "She's also a former Ranger, the second pink ranger in fact".
The woman offered her hand and her eyes immediately went to Harry's scar and her eyebrows rose slightly. The red ranger frowned, why would a muggle know who he was? "Good to meet you Katherine", he said as jovially as possible.
"Please call me Kat, all of my friends do", she smiled, "I wouldn't expect to see you in an establishment like this".
"Well we wanted to sample the authentic London cuisine", Kim smiled and poked at her rubbery egg, "can't get more authentic than this".
"You should've told me you were here, I live just down the road and I could've recommended something much better". She reached into her bag, wrote something on a piece of paper and placed it on the table.
Harry looked at the note, expecting to find the name of a restaurant but he was wrong. The note said 'Dark wizards by the door, run whilst you can'. The red ranger looked at the note and then at the newcomer, "Interesting recommendation, I'm sure there's a story behind this".
"Oh definitely, my daughter tells me exactly what to look out for", Kat smiled, "children really are the future".
"Kat can I borrow your pen", Ginny extended her hand and took the object from the Australian. She wrote on the piece of paper, 'Get down and cover your ears'. Harry, Kim and Tommy knew exactly what was about to happen and fortunately the cafe was largely empty. The white ranger gave a small nod and everyone crouched as low as they could.
Ginny stood up and screamed as loudly as she could using some of her sonic Chi power to emit an ear splitting scream. The two builders by the door grabbed their ears and their wands tumbled from their grasp, clattering onto the table. Several glasses shattered and so did the window, sending people scrambling out in the street. Blood began to pour out of the men's ears and their heads crashed on the table. Unfortunately a couple of muggles were caught in the cross fire and they too had blacked out. Harry was immediately on his feet and healed the innocents as best as he could, "Quickly out the back", he ordered.
The group ran into the kitchen, ignoring the protests of the staff, "Sorry keep the change", Kim called out and threw some notes onto a counter.
"Care to tell us how you knew they were wizards", Ginny asked Kat as they dashed between the metal tables.
"My daughter's a witch, muggleborn witch", Kat sighed, "she's due to enter her fourth year at Hogwarts. I've been keeping up with the current situation and doing my own research, fortunately it paid off".
The group burst out the backdoor and into a small side road. Fortunately it didn't look like they had been followed, "Beth's a witch", Kim began, "that would explain why you don't visit the States that often anymore".
"I decided to stay in the country when she began school", Kat replied, "she often speaks about the famous Harry Potter and his friends, I never would've guessed you'd be a fellow Ranger though".
"So that's why you knew who I was", Harry asked and Kat nodded in confirmation.
"We do have a bigger problem", Tommy began, "once those two wake up, they're going to realise Kat was seen with us".
Harry sighed, "You're right guess that only leaves us one option".
"You're not going to wipe my memory are you?" Kat said with a fearful tone.
"What, no", Harry replied, "we're going to have to take you to Grimmauld Place". There was a general murmuring of disapproval from the other three, "Look she's a fellow Ranger, perhaps she can help with training or something".
"Fine", Ginny huffed, "guess that's why you're the red guy but I'm not happy about this, the place was full enough before Kiera arrived".
"If I'm going to be a problem then I'll just go", Kat said.
"It's not that Kat", Tommy sighed, "let's just say we've got a few stories to share from the last few months".
Back at Grimmauld Place Kat had been stunned to learn that Tommy had been helping the wizarding teens since the Easter break. Beth hadn't mentioned anything, clearly their paths hadn't crossed or the teen hadn't linked Tommy with the same man she visited during school holidays.
There was a frosty atmosphere to her presence from the other member's of the Squadron but that slowly thawed when they learned she was already aware of magic and a fellow ranger. Hermione began to bombard her with questions her daughter's education and the pair had disappeared into another part of the building for several hours.
"Strewth that girl can talk", Kat exclaimed as he sat down at the kitchen table, "I thought I was never going to get away".
"That's Hermione for you", Dean smiled, "so how you feeling now?"
"I think it's finally sunk in", the Australian nodded, "and thank you all for taking me in, you didn't have to do that".
"True but you helped us out, it's only right that we returned the favour", Ginny smiled.
"I've sent a message to Beth, she's going to hide out at her Dad's for the time being", Kat began, "I'm thinking about keeping her home at the start of term. Did you know the Ministry's restricting access for foreign visitors and magical tourists now".
Cho frowned at the comment, "That's new, my family never had any problems when our relatives from China came to visit".
"I've never had a problem either but I read it in today's Daily Prophet", Kat reached into her bag and pulled out the paper, "ever since Beth told me about the rising tensions, I've been getting the Prophet to keep track of development".
"Trust me you won't get anything useful from that rag", Ron stopped when he saw the picture on the front page. He grabbed the paper and took a closer look, "I don't believe it", he hissed.
"What is it?" Harry asked.
"I've only gone and found Slytherin's locket", he stated, "but that's the only bit of good news". He put the paper down again and sure enough, there was Slytherin's locket. The bad news was the person who the locket was attached to.
"Of all the people in the world", Ginny groaned.
"Why who is it?" Kat asked.
"Dolores Umbridge", Dean groaned, "a hell hound in a pink cardigan". This wasn't good news for the rangers, if they wanted the locket they would have to steal it from one of the most prominent member's of the Ministry of Magic. This was going to need some extensive planning.