The Phoenix Syndrome
a/n – First, the obligatory disclaimers and notifications. The entirety of the Harry Potter universe belongs to JK Rowling and her various and sundry corporate partners. Anything recognizable from that milieu is hers and I gratefully acknowledge her creation of the wonderful tapestry that she has woven.
Next, the obligatory warnings.
This is a harmony story. If your ticket isn't punched for the SS Harmony, please find your proper boarding station. Also, this story is much less than kind to the two youngest Weasleys. Much less. Giving away anything else would give away too much of the story. Also, and this is something that's a total departure for me, this story is epilogue compliant. This translates to the implied married couples in the epilogue being married at the start of this story. Again, not to give away anything from the story, I can guarantee that no non-harmonious PDAs will occur.
Also, a couple of conventions for my stories. Unless explicitly stated, Hermione in my stories is always Hermione Jane rather than Hermione Jean. There are many reasons for it, so there's no reason for anyone to leave a review 'correcting' her middle name, unless you just really feel you have to. There are references to a couple of OCs that I usually use. Hermione's parents are Alex and Helen. Hermione's longtime assistant is a younger witch named Cara who's a cousin to Luna Lovegood. Harry's reconciled with Petunia and Dudley. Petunia divorced Vernon, Vernon went to prison and isn't in anyone's life. Dudley's married to a witch who's a healer who he met during the Horcrux hunt year that his family was on the run.
Finally, I thought about it, and I decided to up the rating level because of a scene later in the story where one of the canon characters engages in some fairly graphic violent behavior/torture. While you can see stronger on cable television, I felt better safe than sorry.
Chapter One – A Bolt from the Blue
1 September, 2019 – Sunday 1400
Looking up from the piles of parchmentwork on her desk, Director Hermione Granger-Weasley of the Ministry's Department of Magical Law Enforcement smiled at her longtime assistant. Shaking her head at the sense of déjà-vu, Hermione stared at Cara for several seconds.
"Cara, I seem to remember a conversation we had when you first started to work with me quite a few years ago. Unless Minister Shacklebolt has issued a decree I'm not aware of, my name is still Hermione." Seeing the guarded look on the usually cheerful face of the younger witch, Hermione sighed.
"You might as well get to whatever it is that I needed to hear about on the Sunday my children and god-children left for school."
Nodding towards the chair in front of her desk, Hermione watched her long-time friend and confidant slowly move into the room, as if she were facing an extremely unpleasant fate. Smiling supportively, Hermione waited until Cara was seated before speaking again.
"There's no need to look so grim, tell me what's happened, and we'll deal with it as we always do."
Looking hesitant, Cara stared at Hermione for several seconds. Seeing to come to a decision, she took a deep breath.
"Director," she began, but the look from her boss stopped her, and she began again. "Hermione, I'm sorry. I know you were seeing the children off at the platform, Horace was there with little Merri."
"She's starting tomorrow, the same as Lily. I think the two of them have been plotting to convince the Sorting Hat to put them in the same house." Chuckling, Hermione shook her head. "Lily's convinced that since she gets sorted first, she's going to insist that the Hat put Merri wherever she ends up."
Looking nervously down at the folders in her hands, Cara sighed.
"We've gotten results back from Operation Canary. We've identified two high profile leaks into the Ministry. Into this department."
Her expression clouding, Hermione closed her eyes and swore quietly in Gobbledygook. Pinching the bridge of her nose, she leaned back in her chair and waited. Finally looking up at Cara, she could see that she didn't want to tell her anymore than she wanted to hear.
"Might as well give me the worst of it. Which of my coworkers has betrayed the Ministry, betrayed us?"
"The leaks are coming through family members. In both cases, the persons in question are involved in affairs, presumably without the knowledge of their spouses. The two they are involved with are both connected to the Order of the Path, the ones who keep saying they're going to raise up a Dark Champion to harrow the muggleborn from the ranks of the wizarding world."
"Unfortunately, stupidity of that caliber isn't a capital offense." Snorting in disbelief, Hermione shook her head. "I've sent three dozen of those tossers to Azkaban in the last four years, but somehow there always seems to be more of them."
Nodding in agreement, Cara looked at the parchments in her hands. Extracting her briefing notes, she began to summarize the background briefing she had presented almost six months ago when they began this project.
"The center of the cult is over in the Baltic states, outside Tallinn. We have a double agent in place there. He won't give us any names of people working here in Britain, but he'll sell us copies of documents from the Ministry that end up in their hands." Shaking her head, she sighed. "It's expensive, but he's been honest with us in his own way."
"How many people know his name?"
"Just two, myself and his handler in Tallinn. His handler is a squib who works in the British Embassy there. Those pureblood fanatics are so blind that they would never consider her as a conduit to us."
"How did we catch them?" Sitting back in her chair, Hermione closed her eyes to listen to the report.
"A series of briefing papers was distributed over the past six months. Careful errors were magically incorporated into certain copies of the documents, ones that would be evident only when read by individuals other than the ones for whom they were intended. Our plant in Tallinn obligingly 'sold' us copies of the ones received by the Path, telling us where to look for who was doing the selling on our end."
"I detect George and my father's hand in this." Opening one eye, she smiled at Cara's nod. "Let me guess, it was those position papers about the serpent cults that are coming in from the Mayan and Aztec Empires? The ones marked 'Eyes Only'?"
"I was the only one who knew which errors appeared in which set of parchments. It took us three months to get our first results, and then another three to confirm. I didn't want to bring this to you without confirmation."
"If we had a suspicion, we could have monitored the access of the individuals involved, maybe discretely tipped them off that their spouses were playing them for fools." Shaking her head, Hermione sighed in resignation.
"That wouldn't have worked very well, for reasons that will become clear in a bit. I've got the briefing materials on the agents." Swallowing nervously, Cara shook her head.
"Let's see who's been getting shagged while they're shagging the Ministry." Hermione watched her longtime friend carefully as she opened the folio in her lap. Blushing, Cara drew out a sheaf of parchments.
"The male agent is Constantine Krum." Seeing the sharp look on Hermione's face, she nodded reluctantly in confirmation. "Yes, Viktor's younger brother. He retired to London four years ago, ostensibly after his quidditch career was cut short by that bludger from the Welsh team broke his arm and took Bulgaria out of World Cup contention five years ago or so."
"This will kill Viktor. He was never close to his brother, but when he finds out Constantine's actively been supporting these people on top of everything else, he'll be mortified." Looking down at her calendar, she nodded thoughtfully.
"Victor's coaching for Bulgaria these days, try to find out where he's going to be when the news breaks, and I'll send word to him that I need to talk to him. I'd much rather he hears it from me than some smarmy reporter from The Prophet like Parkinson." Missing the startled look from Cara, Hermione shook her head sadly.
"They've been carrying on for at least two years now, from what we've been able to determine. The assignations happen many places, but most often in the home of the Ministry employee. We theorize that it's during these meetings in the home that the official documents are compromised. The judicious use of something to induce their partner to sleep for a bit, and they find what information they can. We don't feel that either of the spouses is guilty of anything directly."
"Other than cheating on their spouse, you mean." Seeing the look on Cara's face, she pinched the bridge of her nose again, vainly trying to ward off the oncoming headache. "I'm sorry; I know this is difficult for you since you know who the two fools are, already." Nodding slowly, Cara looked down again before she spoke.
"And, as fate would have it, the other agent, the female, is Pansy Parkinson." Seeing the disbelieving look on Hermione's face, she grimaced.
"As you well know, aurors have investigated her numerous times over the last twenty years, but this is the first time we've got anything that would stick. We've got surveillance of her over the past three months, we've identified the places she's met with her paramour, and we've documented her use of Unforgivables along with her passing information to members of the Path and other groups. Even a few ragtag Death Eaters have shown up in our net."
"I can't believe it, after twenty some years, we're finally going to make something stick on that piece of work." Looking over at the fireplace in her office, she half considered trying to find Harry so that he could be in on this before dismissing the notion. Looking back to Cara, she grinned. "Do we know where she is, right at this point?"
"We've got agents staking out a small muggle hotel in Edinburgh where she's meeting with the victim of her plot..." A sharp crack cut Cara off. Looking up, Cara saw Hermione's face was flushed as she had taken the flat of her hand and smacked the top of her desk sharply.
"That will be enough of that. Unless you've got evidence that these two have been dosed with some sort of potion, the victim of a charm, or Pansy is actually a veela, these two aren't victims, they're two-timing, philandering, fools. Whether or not their spouses eventually forgive them is their business, but this office will not coddle them."
Cara closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "I understand. As I said, Ms Parkinson is in Edinburgh with her paramour and Mr. Krum is in a suite at the Savoy here in London. We have a very high degree of certainty he's with the wife, but the Savoy has too many privacy charms and the like to be absolutely certain of who else is in there with him."
Nodding, Hermione began scratching notes in a muggle notebook. Without looking up from her notes, she smiled as she jotted down a stray thought.
"I wonder who's paying the bills at the Savoy; hopefully, Constantine is on an expense account with his employers." Shaking her head, she looked up, "Where did you say they were in Edinburgh?"
"I don't believe I mentioned it. They're at a small muggle establishment called 'The Witchery'."
"And to think, I spent my honeymoon there." Looking up she grimaced. "I don't think Ron and I have been back there since Rose was born." Looking at her assistant, she waited for a few seconds before continuing.
"Cara, I realize that I'm just the Director of this organization, but I was an advocate long enough to recognize when someone is not telling me something." Seeing her friend blush, she sighed.
"I imagine that what you're going to tell me is painful, and I've already gathered that I know the people involved."
"Hermione, you're right." Nodding slowly, Cara averted her eyes. "You do know the principals involved in this. And considering the people involved, it means that I need to have you sign off on the arrests before I direct the aurors to take them down."
"Who's on tap for the pinch?"
"Team Twelve. They've been in on this since the beginning. I've got backup from the Unspeakables, no communication in or out of either suite until it's over with."
"So that's what Teddy has been working on for the past six months." Seeing the look on Cara's face, she chuckled.
"I suppose that's why he hasn't been by the house in months. I was beginning to think I'd offended my godson in some way. Last week Ron and I were in Diagon Alley, and we ran into him and Victoire. He must have gotten a message about this case; he took off like a scalded kneazel after only a few seconds."
Cara took a deep breath, and plunged ahead. "We've someone with the wife, she hasn't been told yet. The husband is in the wind, we can't find him anywhere."
Hermione scribbled a few lines in the notebook before looking up. "Make it a priority; I don't want him to find out from the press or rumor."
Seeing the look in Cara's eyes, Hermione narrowed her gaze. "Cara, tell me. Who is the wife at the Savoy?"
Looking as if she would rather be anywhere else but where she was, Cara's voice dropped to a whisper.
"It's Firebolt. She's the one at the Savoy with Krum."
Shaking her head, Hermione stared in disbelief as the security detail codename for one of her oldest friends hung in the air.
Closing her eyes, Hermione slumped back in her chair. "This is going to kill him. How in the name of Merlin's garters am I going to explain to Harry that Ginny is cheating on him?"
a/n 2 – Both of the hotels mentioned in this story actually exist. In fact, I stayed in both of them on my honeymoon, many years ago. Both are very fine, but pricey establishments, and the fact I'm divorced is in no way the fault of either establishment.