Lions and Badgers – 3


(Author's Note: How would the Order react to the investigations into a crime involving friends of Harry Potter? Finally, how would Harry help in rescuing his friends?

I have been making a few assumptions about the abilities of invisibility cloaks. In canon, they seem to be able to fool everyone, except the likes of Dumbledore and Voldemort. Consequently, I have assumed that there is no way for a wizard to break the invisibility by conventional means. It requires circumventing the invisibility through other disciplines in magic, not breaking it by force by a counter-spell.

By the way, the invisibility cloak Harry has is a general, run-of-the-mill invisibility cloak, and not the super-invisibility cloak that it turns out to be in Deathly Hallows. I am not going to even consider the idea of the existence of super-invisibility cloaks. End of story.

As usual, all criticism is welcome.)

---(Beginning of the Chapter)---

Harry considered the problem he faced. He could call on Sirius, and Dumbledore, but they probably knew about the matter and were working on it already. There was no use bothering them at the moment. The first problem Harry faced was finding out who in the Ministry was handling the two kidnapping cases. He had no idea where the Ministry office was, much less how to get there. He sat back for a moment and thought carefully. There were three ways of doing it. The first was to get in touch with the families of Hermione and Hannah. Hermione and Hannah had been kidnapped, so it was likely that whoever was in charge of the investigations would have left a way to contact them with the Grangers and the Abbotts. If he could find a way to contact the Grangers, he would be able to contact the person/s responsible in the Ministry. Both were muggle families, so he was reasonably certain that he could find them listed in a telephone directory. The second way to reach the investigating officer was to ask Mr. Weasley to help. Since Arthur Weasley worked at the Ministry, he could probably put Harry in touch with the concerned authorities. But Harry shook his head – his involving Hannah and Hermione had already caused them to be hurt. He would not involve the Weasleys and risk them as well. The final – and the potentially most rewarding technique – was to get to the Ministry via the Knight Bus. He was reasonably sure that the Knight Bus would be able to take him to the Ministry.

Even as he was pondering the means by which he could get news of Hermione and Hannah, another horrifying thought occurred to him – if Hermione and Hannah had been targeted by Voldemort's followers, it was not likely they would spare Cho either. He needed to warn her to be careful – this was of the first importance, and took precedence over all other considerations. He opened his trunk, took out a piece of parchment, and scribbled a short message to Cho about the kidnapping and warning her to keep herself safe. The message he dispatched with Hedwig.

Harry swiftly decided on a course of action. He would grab the addresses of the Abbotts and the Grangers from the library and then go down to the Ministry in the Knight bus. With luck, he would be able to speak with the two families as well as the authorities in the Ministry. His resolution made, and the note to Cho dispatched, he dressed, grabbed his wand and invisibility cloak and scrambled downstairs. He did not feel like confronting the Dursleys before his task for the day, so he wrapped his cloak around himself and left the home. He had no more than crossed the gate of the Dursley home, when he heard a sharp voice, "Harry! Show yourself!"

Harry stopped dead in his tracks. How did anyone know where he was? He was turning around when he saw a tall figure dressed in tattered robes emerge out of what he had believed to be thin air. "Professor Lupin!", he gasped, as he removed his cloak. "How did you know I was here?"

It was indeed Remus Lupin, looking tired and worn, wearing patched, shabby robes, and he chose to ignore the question Harry had asked him, instead parrying with a question of his own, "What're you doing, sneaking off like that?"

"I was going down to the library", returned Harry uncertainly.

"Library? In summer?", questioned Remus sceptically.

"Yes, Professor. I needed to find some information, and the Dursleys would never let me if they knew."

Remus Lupin sighed – he had heard many tales that Harry and the Dursleys never got along well. "Harry, what's so urgent that you need to go to the library now?"

Harry, in his turn chose to ignore the question, and asked, "Prof. Lupin, have you seen the news about Hermione and Hannah?"

Lupin nodded, "Call me Remus, Harry. I'm no longer your professor. And yes, Dumbledore went down to meet both the families late last night. But there seems no clue at all what happened to them."

"What does Dumbledore think happened to them?"

"They were most likely kidnapped, Harry."

Harry rummaged in his memory for any evidences of Voldemort indulging in kidnapping muggle-borns. He could not remember any, so he asked, "But why, Pro – er – Remus? Why would Voldemort want to kidnap them?"

Remus looked thoughtful as he answered, "There may be several reasons for that. He might want them in some ritual – there are quite a few dark rituals that require muggle-borns. It may be just the Death Eaters going on raids – they did kidnap several people in the last war, and hold them to ransom. It was an effective way of financing his campaign. But, most likely, it is a means to lure you out into the open – he probably expects you to try and rescue them, so I would not be surprised if he sends you some clues to follow. But we wander off the point – what were you going to the library for?"

Harry gulped at the thought of becoming a prisoner of Voldemort once more, but he could not stay still doing nothing while his friends were being probably tortured by Voldemort or his lapdogs. However, he still needed to know about his friends; so, Harry ignored the question once more, and asked, "But you're looking for them, aren't you? What's being done to find them?"

"Harry, for the moment, there is precious little we can do – we don't know who's got them, much less where they are. Dumbledore has said he'll do all he can, so you should leave it to him. But answer my question – what are you going to the library for?"

There was no dodging the question now. He answered, "I was going to the library to find the addresses of the Grangers and the Abbotts. I wanted to speak to the person investigating the kidnappings."

Remus nodded grimly, as though it answered his question about why Harry would be sneaking off to the library so early in the morning. "Harry, that is not a good idea. You should stay here, where you're safe."

Harry knew that the older man meant well, and that it was for his safety, but the thought of hiding in safety while his friends were the 'guests' of Voldemort made him nearly retch. The thought would not even bear consideration. "Remus, I'm going to the library. Now."

"I'm afraid, Harry, that I cannot let you do it."

"Will you stop me by force?" Harry's voice was coldly neutral.

"Dumbledore asked me to make sure you stayed safe ...", began Remus, but Harry cut him off furiously. Not only was the old man putting him with these abominable muggles when he could have stayed with the Weasleys, but also putting spies around him and controlling his actions over summer. Harry's blood was on fire at the thought, as he answered "Tell Dumbledore that he has no authority over me during summer."

"Harry, this is for your own good", Lupin tried to interrupt angrily, but Harry overrode him, "It's not enough that he keeps me in this dump that he must send his spies to watch over me, is it?", he snarled. "Leave now, Professor Lupin." Harry's voice was cold and hard.

The spies bit had hit Lupin hard, probably because it was what he was doing at the moment – keeping tabs on Harry and reporting his actions to the old man. He had rationalised it to himself that he was doing it all for Harry's good, but the truth was the truth, no matter how unpalatable or disguised. He drew his wand and pointed it at Harry, "I'm sorry, Harry, but to leave this place is almost certainly death for you."

Harry had realised that he had no chance in a direct duel – be it physical or magical – with Lupin. He would have to make the older man back down. "So, you cast spells, Lupin, when you are sure that I can't fight back because of the underage restriction? How chivalrously brave of you!"

"Get back into the house, Harry. It is for your own good. I'll have no hesitation stunning you if need be." Lupin's voice was deadly earnest. Harry did some quick thinking. Remus had not known of his presence until he crossed the gate – probably there was some enchantment that warned the older man when he touched the cursed thing. Even so, the older man had commanded him to reveal himself. It was unlikely that Lupin had a spell that could break the invisibility of the cloak. Slowly, a plan began to form in his mind. He sighed and backed down. Giving Remus the impression of disgust and anger, Harry turned away from the werewolf and without a word began stalking back to the house.

For a moment, Lupin thought that he had won. He sighed and put away his wand, glad that he had not been forced to actually use spells to stop Harry. That was his mistake. The moment Remus put away his wand, Harry in a smooth and swift move, drew his invisibility cloak around him and disappeared once more. Remus whipped out his wand and called, "Harry! Stop it! Get back here!"

Harry took no notice of the werewolf's frantic calls. He coolly, but swiftly and silently walked back to the hedge on the side of the house that masked him from his former professor, took off his cloak and scaled it without difficulty. This was his moment of danger, when he could not be invisible from Lupin. Consequently he had chosen the place – from where he would be obscured from his jailor – with care and his luck held as he clambered to the other side and then wrapped the cloak again undetected. Calmly, but steadily, making sure that he was not visible and that he did not bump anyone, he began to walk away from Privet Drive.

Remus Lupin had been aghast when Harry disappeared. His first inclination was to cast a few stunners at the point where Harry had vanished. However, the more rational part of his mind rejected this reckless course of action. If he cast spells in this muggle house, the Ministry would know and they would want to know who cast the spells and why. He was quite sure that they would take quite unkindly to the prospect of a werewolf attacking a defenceless underage student without provocation and Remus had no intention of spending the next few months in Azkaban. He cursed, and then decided that discretion was the better part of valour. Harry had mentioned going to the local library – he would have to get someone to watch the libraries in the locality. Then, he considered Harry's options in travelling to the Ministry – the Knight Bus was almost the first and possibly the only option when it came to magical means of travel at Harry's disposal. He would have to watch for Harry there. But if Harry chose to travel by muggle means, Remus would be at a disadvantage. Then he would have to stop Harry by other means, and get him back to Privet Drive. The first thing was to inform Dumbledore of Harry's resolution to speak to the Grangers and the Abbotts.

Remus cursed and ran down the street towards Arabella Figg's home.

---(Scene Break)---

Harry stood two streets away, considering his options. He knew that his time in the open was limited. Even if Remus was incapable of tracking down Harry when the latter was invisible, Dumbledore was and the old man would find him and put him back with the Dursleys swiftly. The last time he had run away from Privet Drive – which was two years ago – he had had about two hours of freedom before Cornelius Fudge had found him. There was no reason to believe that he would have more than that this time around, and he would quickly need to do what he needed to do. The Knight Bus option was out of question now – he had used it previously, and it would be the first thing Remus Lupin would be watching for. He knew of no floo that he could use; so that was out of question as well. Therefore, going to the Ministry and trying to find the people investigating the crimes was going to be extremely hard – he would try it only as a last resort. Going to the library was also a bad idea for the moment – he had mentioned it to Remus Lupin, and Lupin or other friends of Dumbledore might be waiting for him there. He thought for a moment, and then smiled coldly to himself. If Mohammed could not go to the mountain, the mountain must come to Mohammed.

He took off his cloak, and ran down the street to a large book store. He walked inside and spoke to one of the attendants, "Excuse me, d'you stock telephone directories – Oxford and Dover, to be precise?"

The man nodded and led Harry down to a shelf, and swiftly Harry looked up the directory and found half a dozen people who could be the persons he wanted to speak to. He jotted down all the numbers and ran back to the Dursleys' home. The last place where Lupin would think of looking for Harry would be with the Dursleys.

That done, he saw that Aunt Petunia was the only one up yet. Neither Vernon, nor Dudley had put in an appearance yet. Good – that meant that he would just obtain her compliance – by hook or by crook, or get her out of the way. He spoke quietly to her, "Aunt Petunia, I need to use the telephone to make a few calls."

As he expected, he saw his aunt dumbfounded for a moment, before she gathered herself to launch into a rant about the extravagance and utter uselessness of Harry and his parents, but Harry had more pressing concerns than her opinions about himself or his parents, as he cut in, "Last night, Uncle Vernon was talking about getting someone to paint the doors. I'll do it instead if you let me use the telephone. You'll save more money that way."

"We could always get you to do it. It won't be necessary to let you use the telephone."

"I could always refuse to do it."

"You'll end up in the cupboard under the stairs if you refuse – with no supper for a week."

"I could write to my Godfather about how you're treating me."

"You dare! You stand there, with the clothes we put on your ungrateful back ..."

"Oh, please, Aunt Petunia. Here I was, thinking of doing some reasonable business with you, and you go all ballistic."

Petunia was fuming, when Harry spoke with indifference, "Look, Aunt Petunia, we can argue all week about this, and we'll be no better off. I offered you a good deal – take it or leave it."

Aunt Petunia seemed to consider the offer for along moment. It was true that they would save more money by accepting Harry's offer. She could sell the offer Harry made to her husband as her own idea, and this would always be for the good. She finally nodded, "Alright, but you get to use the telephone only for today. No getting your freakish friends to call you all the time."

Harry returned, "Today and tomorrow. I might need to make a few arrangements with my friends."

"What're you going to ..."

"Believe me, you don't want to know. If you know nothing, you can tell nothing and no harm can come out of it. Just let's get on with the deal."

Aunt Petunia sighed in resignation, nodded and signed towards the telephone. "Go ahead. But you had better keep your part of the bargain."

Harry nodded and began to dial the numbers.

---(End of the Chapter)---