Harry Potter and all characters, etc. belong to J.K. Rowling, not me.

Set after events of HBP. Part 1 of my "While Hunting Horcruxes" universe.

Locked Away

Chapter 1

Suspect

A stranger walked into the Broken Broomstick pub in Godric's Hollow. He was wearing a dark brown cloak with the hood hiding most of his face. A blonde-haired, freckle-faced man named Walter Tuttle looked up at him, noticing the glasses that the stranger was wearing. The stranger walked up to the bartender and asked for a fire whiskey. When he got his drink, he turned around quickly, and for an instant, the hood on the stranger's head moved just enough to reveal his face. Walter recognized him immediately. With a broad grin on his face, he got up from his seat and walked up to the stranger. He held out his hand and said excitedly, "You are Harry Potter! I saw your scar!"

The stranger's countenance changed immediately. He said angrily, "I am not! You're mistaken! Now excuse me!"

Harry shoved Walter out of the way and started walking, but Walter followed after him and called out, "If you're not him, then lower your hood and show me!"

Harry stopped, faced Walter, who was getting on his nerves, and said, "I don't have to prove anything to you! Now get away from me before I hex you!" Harry's hand was now on his wand.

Walter then looked around and whispered to Harry, "If you don't just admit who you are, I'll shout it out to this whole pub."

Harry pointed his wand at the man. Other customers were starting to watch them. Harry cursed under his breath, turned around and left, still carrying his unopened bottle. He thought to himself that he needs a better disguise. Silently, he wondered if he could persuade Hermione to brew him some Polyjuice Potion so that he could go out in public without being recognized, or maybe he'd just start using his invisibility cloak. Ron and Hermione were at the local library researching the town's history, and finding out where Harry's parents were killed, and where they were laid to rest. They knew that the town was founded by Godric Gryffindor over a thousand years ago, so they were also trying to find out if any relic he'd left behind may have been stolen by Voldemort and used as a Horcrux. It was funny to Harry how much Ron liked 'researching' with Hermione lately. Part of him wished they'd just get on with it. Admit how they feel about each other and end this stupid dance they'd been doing around each other for the past three or four years. On the other hand, he was a bit jealous of them. They were with each other, while he'd left his Ginny, whom by now he'd realized he was in love with, behind. It's been two weeks since they disappeared from Bill and Fleur's wedding without saying goodbye. He knew he wouldn't have been able to say that to Ginny. At the thought of Ginny, he opened his bottle and took a large drink. He was missing her so terribly. He wished so much that he could just live a normal life! He thought to himself that if he could live through destroying the Horcruxes and somehow kill Voldemort, he'd be able to. He wanted to be sure Ginny would wait for him, but he'd never asked her to. He took another drink. He pictured himself coming back to the Burrow in time to watch her marry someone else. He took another drink. He thought about what it would be like to survive all that, and then come home to nothing. He finished the bottle. He was drunk enough to realize that he didn't even want to live through this if she wasn't waiting for him. With that in mind, through his bottle on the ground, breaking it, and walked to the local owl office and wrote a letter he'd been considering writing to her since they'd left.

Dear Ginny,

We're all fine. I never realized how much I would miss you! I didn't ask this before I left, but I want to ask now. Please wait for me. When I'm finished, I want to marry you, if you'll have me.

Sincerely,

Someone who loves you

P.S. Don't write back.

He reread his letter and smiled to himself. It was direct and to the point. It didn't reveal who he was, where he was, or what he was doing. He put the letter in an envelope and addressed it. He sent it with one of their owls, making sure to keep his face completely hidden. He then walked back to the Inn, where he and his companions were staying. When he opened the door to his room, he received a sobering shock.

Walter Tuttle was lying dead on the floor in Harry's room. He didn't have any visible injuries, and Harry suspected that Walter was a victim of the death curse that he'd seen too many times in his life. Instinctively, he pulled out his wand. He heard a few steps behind him, so he turned around quickly and pointed it at a man who stood behind him and said, "Good afternoon sir, we were wondering if you needed any…what is that? Did, did you just kill that man?"

"No," said Harry, putting away his wand. At that moment, he heard the familiar sound of people Apparating nearby.

A moment later, five wands were pointing at him while he heard the man who'd caught him say, "I walked up right after he'd done it, and he pointed his wand at me."

"I didn't kill him!" he shouted.

"Kill who?" he heard a woman's voice call through the crowd that had gathered. Hermione Granger, pushed their way to the front. "Oh my," she said, then looked at Harry and asked, "What happened?"

"I went to The Broken Broomstick for a drink, and when I came back five minutes ago, this man was lying dead on the floor!"

"A likely tale," said the man who appeared to be in charge. "I suppose you're gonna tell me you've never seen him before in your life."

"I met him at the pub. He recognized me. But I'd never seen him before."

"Recognized ya as what? Who are you?"

Harry angrily said, "Fine," pulled off his hood and said, "Harry Potter." Everyone except his friends gasped.

"Celebrity or not, you've got ta explain what happened. That's still an unforgivable curse you used. I'm the town magistrate, Benjamin Wipple. Was he a Death Eater sent from "You Know Who," tryin' to do you in?"

"I didn't kill him!" Harry repeated, trying to stay calm, "and it's easy enough to find out if he was a Death Eater. Just roll up his left sleeve. If he is one, he'll have the Dark Mark tattooed on him."

After both of the man's sleeves were rolled up, the witch who'd done it said, "No Dark Mark."

"An innocent man, huh," said the magistrate. "You used an Unforgivable Curse to kill an innocent man." He shook his head and said, "I'd have never believed it."

This time Harry screamed, "I ALREADY TOLD YOU I DIDN'T KILL HIM! IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE ME, THEN PERFORM PRIOR INCANTATEM ON MY WAND!"

"Calm down Harry, or you'll land yourself in Azkaban!" Hermione interjected with a worried look on her face.

"Hermione," Harry yelled in outrage, "You can't believe I…"

"Of course I don't believe you did it, Harry," Hermione said, looking hurt, "because I know you. These people don't know you, and yelling will only make you look guilty to them."

Now the magistrate started getting mad and yelled back, "Maybe we should check the wand! Give it here." Reluctantly, Harry handed Mr. Wipple his wand.

After it was proven that Harry's wand was not the guilty one, the magistrate said, "Hm. Maybe it wasn't you. You could've just been in the wrong place at the wrong…"

"Or maybe he used another wand and got rid of it!" the person standing next to the magistrate said. Let's send him to Ministry of Magic. They'll send him where he belongs!"

The magistrate frowned and said, "We can't prove he did it, but we can't prove he didn't."

"Isn't he innocent until proven guilty?" asked Hermione.

"Yes, but we can't just let him go freely. He's suspected of a serious crime," said the magistrate.

"I didn't do it!" yelled Harry again.

"Please let me handle this Harry," said Hermione, "You'll only make things worse!"

"It's only my life that's at stake!" muttered Harry, looking annoyed.

"Please," said Hermione, looking at him pleadingly. He nodded, knowing she was right and hating to admit it, then she turned back to the magistrate and said, "Sir," trying to sound as diplomatic as possible, "We are on a secret vital mission against Vold-"You-Know-Who" and we can't go all the way back to Ministry headquarters and wait a month for a trial now! Couldn't you release him and let us try to find out what happened?"

"I can't release him," Mr. Wipple said, scratching his chin as he thought. "What I can do is hold him here for a week while you look for evidence and then have a hearing to decide if there is enough evidence to send him to the Wizengamot for trial. It's irregular when an Unforgivable Curse has been used, but not unheard of."

"Um, sir," said Hermione, looking nervous, "How, er, safe is your jail? Everybody on "You-Know-Who's" side wants to kill him."

"You do have a point, Miss…"

"Granger, sir. Hermione Granger."

"…Miss Granger. I'll take him someplace besides the jail, and make it impossible to find." Then he said in a louder voice, making sure everybody heard him, "You are not to tell anybody anything about this crime! You are not to tell anybody that Harry Potter is in town!" They all agreed, then he turned back to Hermione and asked, "Does that satisfy you?"

"Will I be able to see him, to discuss his case?"

"All right. Come to my office in two hours and I'll let you know where he's being held. I'll also instruct the guards to let you visit him any time."

"Thank you. And sir, could you, um, let him keep his wand?"

"Absolutely not, Miss Granger. He could use it to escape."

"Then may I keep it. It's not evidence."

Mr. Wipple smiled, looked at Harry, who nodded, and handed her the wand. Then he turned to Harry and said, "Mr. Potter, do you agree to the conditions we've just discussed, that you'll be held here for a week, and then have a hearing?"

He still looked angry, but he said calmly, "I guess I have no choice." Then he looked into Hermione's eyes and said, "I'm counting on you!" The magistrate pointed his wand at the body, which disappeared instantly. Harry put his hood back over his face, and walked away with the Magistrate and his guards, leaving Hermione by herself.

About a minute later, Ron came back holding a dozen roses and said, "Hello Hermione. I got these for you. Have you seen Harry? It's time for dinner and I'm…What's wrong?"

Hermione ran up to Ron, put her arms around him, started crying and said, "Harry! He's in trouble Ron! We've got to help him!"

"Of course we'll help him!" Ron said, patting her back. "Tell me what happened."