A/N: My Beta Majerus has been very patient and kind to me when it came to polishing some of the major stuffs in this chapter. Thank you M for being so nice!
Chapter 1- The Unexpected responsibility
On an early Sunday morning Dean Thomas sat at the dining table to have some fried bacon and a hot mug of coffee for breakfast. Waking up early and reading the Daily Prophet had become a routine, even on the weekends. As he saw the Headline his jaw almost dropped in astonishment. To make sure he was seeing right, he hastily put his mug on the table and concentrated on reading the article. His brow furrowed and his expression became stony as he read on. He stood up quickly from his seat to wake up his best friend and colleague to give the news.
"Harry, wake up!" Dean banged on his roommate's door.
Harry lay sprawled across his bed. He groaned, "Go away."
"Harry, it's important. Just open the damn door!"
Harry raised his head by an inch to look at his bedside clock. It showed seven-thirty.
"Dean, it's Sunday. Unlike you, some folks like to sleep-in on weekends."
"Are you going to open the door, or do I have break in?" Dean's voice sounded upset now.
"All right. All right." Harry canceled his wards and opened the door with a few gestures. He didn't even regard Dean as his friend entered the room. He was about to drift off to sleep again when Dean said, "You need to see this."
Cracking an eye at Dean, Harry mumbled out "I am not in a mood to read the paper."
Dean rolled his eyes, exasperated, "Fine, Gwenog Jones was found dead near her flat in Wales."
"Who is Gwenog Jones?" Harry was so sleepy that he couldn't even wrap his head around what Dean was saying.
When it comes to Quidditch, Dean Thomas is a walking encyclopedia. Normally he doesn't mind other people's lack of knowledge. But Harry's ignorance of the famous Quidditch star turned coach really bugged him, especially with what had happened to her.
He pressed, "Gwenog Jones, ex-captain, coach of Holyhead Harpies? Does any of that ring a bell in that thick head of yours?"
Harry looked puzzled for a second before saying, "Wait, what? The Gwenog Jones?" He was finally, grudgingly, waking up.
"Yes, the very one, they found her body last night Harry."
"Let me see that!" Harry's was now fully awake as he snatched the paper out of Dean's hands and put on his glasses from his bedside table.
'Gwenog Jones Found Dead'
'Gwenog Jones, the famous ex-captain and current coach of the all witch Quidditch team the Holyhead Harpies, was found dead near her apartment in Wales. The news of her demise came in the late hours of Saturday night. Both the Holyhead Harpies spokes-witch and the Jones family confirmed this tragic news.
Hardly any information is available except that she was found dead on the pavement. She was discovered by a passer by whose identity has not been disclosed for security reasons, according to a Ministry official. The Harpies are a tough contender in this year's league as they are positioned second before the start of mid-season which was supposed to start in exactly one week. How this incident will affect the league is now the burning question among the fans. Nevertheless, in the world of Quidditch, today is a day for mourning for one of the best players in the world, Gwenog Jones.'
'Take a look at the celebrated the life Gwenog Jones, page two, column three.'
As Harry finished reading, he looked at Dean who was waiting for a response. "So, that's it? Nothing else?" he asked, the frustration clear in his voice.
Dean shrugged, "It's too early to say what else could be going on. We should head over to office, Kingsley might need us."
Harry nodded and began to dress.
As Dean returned to the doorway he asked over his shoulder, "Hey, when are you going to stop being so paranoid? Nobody wards their bedroom door!" He continued towards his own room, knowing the ongoing issue wasn't going to be solved this morning.
As soon as the two friends were fully dressed for work they met in their small living room. Dean nodded towards their old fireplace, "I reckon we floo straight to the office, I don't fancy walking past the hordes of reporters at the Atrium."
With a nod from Harry, the two headed to work on Sunday morning.
As soon as Harry and Dean stepped out of the office fireplace they could see people were already hard at work everywhere they looked. It was Senior Auror Dawlish who addressed them first.
"Harry, Kingsley was looking for you. He wanted you to go to his office. Dean, you should go too."
They saw the door stood ajar as they approached Kingsley's office, inside they saw a very busy Head Auror scratching quickly on parchment. Harry cleared his throat to catch Kingsley's attention.
The old Auror looked up and smiled grimly as he greeted them, "Ahh, Harry, Dean. I have been expecting you two. What a tragedy!" He shook his head and continued, "But I need you two to gear up and get to the Atrium. Those reporters have been swarming since the news broke. Try to hold them off with the standard stuff. The Minister and I will come in half an hour or so."
Harry was about to ask when Kingsley said, "No, we don't know anything much. Now, if you and Dean please-"
"Of course." Harry replied.
As they entered the Atrium from the lift, they understood what Kingsley was talking about.
"What the-" Harry exclaimed. Dean was as surprised as Harry, a large crowd was pressing against a magical barrier.
"Wotcher Harry!" Harry was so distracted by the spectacle that he didn't even notice when Tonks came up, even though her hair was her usual bubble-gum pink.
"Hey Tonks! What's going on here? How come so many people are gathered - I can understand the reporters - but the others?"
"Fans." Tonks stated simply. "I had to create a boundary surrounding the stage, in case they got ideas."
"How did you know?"
"Remus read the news first thing, he had a rough night." The young woman said, a small frown forming.
"What do you reckon will happen now?" Dean asked, watching the crowd.
"Investigation of course. I wouldn't be surprised if Kingsley himself takes the investigation in his hands."
Dean nodded, "I just hope the League continues. This season is the best I've seen in five years." Clearly, Dean's mind was still occupied with Quidditch.
As the three of them stood in silence for few moments, they saw Dawlish approach the stage which was set in front of the fountain of Magical Brethren. The Senior Auror stood in front of the crowd, trying to get everyone's attention. The crowd's noise somewhat lessened as they saw Dawlish. He didn't want to use a sonorous charm, preferring that the crowd quiet out of respect. The tactic worked, after another minute of waiting.
"Many of you have been waiting for an official statement from the Ministry after what happened last night. I assure you, the Minister is going to address this issue in few minutes. He will not be taking questions from reporters today." As Dawlish said this, some reporters made angry remarks.
"Please, calm down everyone. I assure you, the Minister's address will contain information which will give answer to the most important questions. He is currently in an important meeting with other department heads. Till then we ask you to be calm and patient."
The crowd settled somewhat, Dawlish came walking towards them. "I have to admit, I am not going to be jealous of who gets this case." Harry could see Dawlish was sweating profusely.
"Who else is coming?" Harry asked.
Dawlish, who was watching the crowd again, replied, "Ludo Bagman and Kingsley."
After fifteen minutes they saw the Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour, as well as Kingsley Shacklebolt and Ludo Bagman step out out of the lift. Scrimgeour looked grave and the line of grey in his mane of tawny hair was making him look much older than his considerable years. On the other hand, despite his handsome features and youth, Ludo looked very nervous.
Dean, who was standing beside Harry, whispered, "Ever seen Ludo so flustered before?"
Harry shook his head. They were standing to the right of the stage, which the officials walked past. As Scrimgeour passed Harry the Minister tilted his head just a bit in acknowledgment.
As soon as Minister was on the stage, a hushed silence fell on Atrium. Scrimgeour scanned the audience, many wearing the green and gold of their team, before holding his wand briefly to his throat. Soon his voice filled the large entryway. "Today is a sad day, not just for Quidditch fans, but for the entire British Wizarding community. Today we have lost not only a Quidditch star but also an indomitable icon. Today we mourn for Gwenog Jones." Scrimgeour paused for a moment.
"She was an inspiration to many Quidditch lovers and she made us believe that nothing should stop anyone in chasing their dreams. She was a role model both in her professional and personal life, especially in recent years."
"When did Scrimgeour learned to give emotional speeches?" Dean whispered. Harry merely shrugged.
Scrimgeour continued, "This loss is more than words can express. Let us spend a minute of silence in memory of Gwenog Jones."
The Atrium fell quiet for one minute. Scrimgeour took a breath as he spoke again, "Thank you. Now the details of her death are still under investigation. However I can promise one thing to the family and fans of Gwenog Jones: No member of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement will rest until they solve the mystery of her untimely death."
Again people started to murmur. Scrimgeour carried on, "However, a quick and thorough investigation will not be possible if the media and fans lose their patience and waste our time answering questions. In this difficult time, cooperation from media and fans alike is expected." Many people in the crowd exchanged looks at this statement.
"Now, I would like to call head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports, Mr. Ludovic Bagman, to address you."
Bagman came forward, looking as nervous as Harry had ever ever seen the man. His eyes swept across the room swiftly, he swallowed hard and started, "Words are not enough to describe our loss. As the head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports, this investigation puts me in a very difficult position."
He paused for a moment as if contemplating what he was going to say next. Finally he continued, "After much discussion with the Minister and the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, it was decided to post-pone the start of mid-season league for two weeks for the investigation. T-Thank you for your patience."
The Atrium burst into chaos as soon as Bagman ended his sentence and turned to quickly move off the stage.
Dean said angrily, "Why didn't he try to say some emotional crap like Scrimgeour? He could have prepared the crowd before saying the League is postponed."
Harry laughed, turning and speaking a bit louder as the crowd gained volume. "You try making an announcement like that in front of Quidditch fans. No wonder he was so panicked."
The Minister and Mr. Bagman left the stage flanked by Kingsley and Tonks. They didn't seem too keen to stay in front of the angry crowd, barrier or not. Kingsley halted briefly in front of Harry and said, "Harry, can I have a word? In my office?"
Harry nodded and went to follow Kingsley. He looked back and signaled Dean that he will be back in a moment.
Dean took a look around, he was the only Auror left. He hoped Tonk's barrier would hold!
As Harry entered Kingsley's office he saw the Minister was also there.
"Please shut the door Harry, we don't want to be overheard." the Minister spoke quietly, yet his voice held a bit of an edge.
He slowly shut the door and turned to face his superiors.
Kingsley spoke, his voice the same deep timbre Harry had grown used to, "Harry, you know what a difficult situation we are in."
"Before today's announcement, the Minister and I had an in-depth conversation. This incident left us in the predicament of choosing the right person to investigate Gwenog's death. Minister Scrimgeour wanted me to take the job, however I declined. I believe the investigation needs to be thorough and I cannot commit enough time to get it done quickly."
Scrimgeour now looked straight at Harry, "After much debate, we have decided it was best that you should be lead investigator on this case."
His face must have shown his level of surprise because Kingsley hastily tried to reassure him. "You will have our full support. The other Aurors will give you thier full support and cooperation."
Harry shook his head and said slowly, "Why me? What about all the senior Aurors - Dawlish, Savage, Williamson or Tonks?"
Scrimgeour screwed his eyes shut, sounding indignant as he questioned, "Are you doubting your abilities Mr. Potter ?"
Harry's jaw tightened, "No, of course not. But giving me this case without considering the others might not please everybody." He didn't understand why the Minister was so upset.
"Haven't you learned anything from your training Mr. Potter? Sentiment doesn't work in your profession. Besides, we have to choose the Auror best for this situation. I think you are best suited to handle the pressure in a high profile case like this."
Scrimgeour's sneering tone was making Harry annoyed. He wasn't really reluctant about taking the case but the injustice to others made Harry grit his teeth.
"Fine. I will take the case." He said finally.
Kingsley nodded, "I trust you Harry. Now, I think you should get going with the case."
Harry thought he detected a hint of relief in his bosses' voice as he was summarily dismissed. He was about to leave when Kingsley added, "Oh, Harry... make sure you keep your friends close."