MISSION ICW PART TWO
"So Malfoy is done for?" Harry asked, feeling very satisfied.
"He's been kicked out of the Hogwarts board and is suspended from Wizengamot pending further investigation but it's not enough to kill his influence for good," Croaker said. "Alan had a team watching him and he was pretty much caught red handed slipping that book into that girl's Cauldron."
Harry looked at Hugo curiously and the Brazilian elaborated. "Lucius targeted Arthur Weasley's girl. The book he planned to plant on her has some really dark mojo. Sanders is examining it and she hasn't left her lab since."
"It's probably got something to do with possession," Harry said thoughtfully.
"What makes you say that?"
"Well it's a diary for one thing. What do you do with a diary?" Harry looked at the two men expectantly but just saw blank faces. "You write in it," Harry said rolling his eyes. "Malfoy mentioned it unleashing a purge so it's safe to assume the writer was going to be compelled to do something that is dangerous; most likely scenario is go on a killing spree which would destroy Weasley's name and family. The diary itself can't do anything because Malfoy was very specific about it killing only muggle born students."
"Makes sense," Hugo said, rubbing his chin.
Croaker nodded. "That chapter is now closed so let's move on with more important things."
"How am I going to replace Fudge," Harry asked seriously. "And how are you going to kidnap him and keep him prisoner?"
Croaker laughed. "Don't be absurd Harry," he chided. "We're spies not villains! We can't do whatever we feel like in the name of protecting the country. Kidnapping and holding the Minster prisoner goes against our code."
"So how are we going to do it then? You have no idea how excited Fudge is over the conference. It's his first big international meeting and he wants to make an impression."
"I'm sure the threat of an assassin will make him reconsider," Hugo said dryly.
Harry frowned and then his eyebrows rose as he understood the plan. "Inform him about a threat to his life and suggest letting someone else take his place? Neat."
"Not only that but protocol dictates that a threat to the Ministers life requires him to be immediately taken to a safe house and out of sight for twenty four hours while a doppelgänger takes his place. No one can know about the switch and no one can talk about it ever," Croaker said. "Alan will be the Auror in charge and once the switch is made you'll be joining Amelia and Barty to take the portkey to Zurich."
"The Minister will want to know who's going to take his place," Harry said dubiously.
"Already covered," Hugo said smoothly. "Nymphadora Tonks."
"She's the only other metamorphmagus in England and she's an Auror boot. She'll meet the Minister with Alan, you'll take his place and she'll be kept comfortable in another safe house until the conference is over. Fudge will get his report and of course we'll inform Miss Tonks about the need to obliviate her for security reasons, get her to sign a nice contract with a healthy bonus for her cooperation and voila, you're invisible."
"Are you clear on your mission?" Croaker stressed.
"It's simple enough," Harry said. "Don't let the ICW do something that harms our interests."
"Whatever the Americans have planned, it's got Stacy really worried. She's been hearing all sorts of chatter and all of them indicate that something big is going to go down at the conference."
Croaker looked worried and Harry smiled reassuringly. "Don't worry boss. I'll keep the lid on."
Hugo pursed his lips and then frowned. "I haven't got your report yet," he said severely. "You returned from Egypt two days ago."
"Nothing happened, it was all routine," Harry said, scowling. He hated writing up the detailed reports that Hugo demanded. Even Croaker wasn't that big an arse about reports. "The Sheik asked me where I had been and I told him we were laying low since the war had ended. I mentioned the lack of money and means, to which he generously gave me close to a hundred Galleons as a gift and told me to take care of me and my dad."
"Still playing the role of a beggar then," Hugo said idly.
To maintain the cover of Harry's or rather Ahmed's absence from the Middle East, the DOI had several trustworthy contacts, all who were under oath, to maintain the illusion of his presence in Persia. To the magical world, the whole of the Middle East was known as Persia. The Caliph who ruled, controlled what muggles called, Iran, Iraq and a bit of land stretching past Jordan, into Egypt and half of Saudi Arabia. Geographically, the muggle and magical world was vastly different.
"Of course," Harry said. "He patted me on the back with the most sympathetic and caring expression and said some jargon about always being there for all his children and there would be a time when he needed my help and that was all he wanted in return."
Croaker snorted. "Does he trap all the kids he meets this way?"
"Obviously," Harry said. "He knows how invaluable loyalty is. But there was something about his tone that suggested that time to return the favour was coming soon," Harry added.
"Was there anything else? Anything you saw in the palace or any conversations overheard."
Harry shook his head but suddenly frowned. "There was something else but the Sheik's a smuggler so it didn't seem very odd."
"What was it?" Croaker asked immediately.
"He meets all his guests in this huge garden," Harry said. "It's got white marble gazebos, dancing fountains and massive bird cages which have some really rare species of birds. Nothing had changed in the three times I'd been there but this time there was a new pedestal in the centre of the garden and there was a golden cup on it."
"It was a small cup, double handle with a thin stick. Bulging from the middle and a kind of hexagonal base but curved instead of straight. Pure gold by the look of it and it was sealed in a glass case which most definitely was warded to kill potential thieves. Umm, and I think there was some sort of an animal engraved in it. I can't be sure. I didn't get a chance to look at it closely."
"This animal," Croaker said frowning thoughtfully. "It wouldn't happen to be a badger by any chance?"
Harry shrugged. "I couldn't tell."
"You know this cup?" Hugo asked his boss.
"Sounds like what Helga Hufflepuff's cup looks like," Croaker said. "It was last in the possession of one of her descendants decades ago but was stolen and she was murdered."
"The sheik is a smuggler," Harry pointed out. "If it was stolen then it ended up in the black market which shows that the cup being in his possession is quite natural."
"But what interest does he have in an artefact that means nothing to him," Croaker said. Alarm bells were ringing in his mind but he couldn't figure out why. "The sheik is very picky about the goods he deals in. He doesn't touch things that are not connected to his legacy and culture. The cup is as foreign as it gets and yet it's on display in his garden. Something's not right with this picture."
"What do you want me to do?" Harry asked.
"Stay focused on the ICW," Croaker said finally. "Brush up your knowledge about Fudge and the ICW laws and practice being Fudge. Hugo can iron out any inconsistencies if any. We have a week to go and you know even the slightest hair out of place will have you in more than a spot of trouble at the conference."
Croaker buried his hands in his pockets and, head down he mumbled under his breath. This was Harry's first big mission and the head of the Department of Intelligence was worried, not for Harry's performance, but for the reason for the meeting. It had been years since a full conference with world leaders had been called for and the fact that the call came so soon after the suicide attacks on five major ministries in five different countries was definitely worrisome.
5TH SEPTEMBER 1992
The first stage of the mission went as smooth as a hot knife in warm butter. Fudge, as soon as he heard about the threat to his life, had panicked and demanded that all resources be put into keeping him safe and without blinking twice, he ordered Nymphadora Tonks to take his place in the conference and warned her not to ruin the plot. If it got out that Fudge was not really there, the international fall out would be disastrous. Foreign leaders were just waiting for a chance to find faults with other administrations. There were no friends among politicians, there were only those who could be used for their own benefits.
Alan had reassured the Minister of Tonks capabilities in stealth and disguise and directed her to another safe house where she detained to her surprise while Harry Potter, playing the part of Minister Fudge, left the premises with Alan to meet Amelia Bones and Barty Crouch at the Department of International Magical Cooperation.
"Minister," Crouch greeted formally, "Right on time. The portkey activates in three minutes."
Fudge fumbled with his bowler hat and twirled it around his fingers nervously. "Of course, of course, can't be late to such an important meeting after all."
Amelia scowled. "It's more than just a meeting Minister. This is a big chance for us to ensure greater cooperation with other law agencies. I hope you read my report on the matter we discussed."
"All in good time Amelia," Fudge said heartily, avoiding eye contact. "Now the portkey if you will."
There were five more Aurors accompanying them. All had the faces obscured with hoods and their blue robes were now sporting the national flag on their breast pocket. Together, the eight members of the British contingent placed their fingers on the silver plate and Crouch began to count down under his breath.
He was down to three when Fudge looked up and caught the silent Alan's eyes who gave him the briefest of nods.
Harry's time had come.
Arrival at the ICW headquarters was fanfare Harry hadn't expected and Fudge enthusiastically accepted flowers, greetings and exchanged pleasantries brightly in his usual over excited manner as they were ushered along to the main event.
The portkey had led them into a grand hall which was overflowing with flags of all the countries affiliated to the ICW along with towering pillars decorated with banners preaching peace, cooperation and friendship. The walls were huge and white with dozens of glass panelled windows all over, allowing a gentle stream of sunlight to brighten the hall.
It was a very warm atmosphere and there were two semi circular staircases at either end of the hall leading to the floor above. Diplomats from the other countries were there too, sporting the colours of their nations as the bustled about meeting and organising private meets with diplomats of other countries.
Amelia and Barty gave a short and stiff nod to the Minister and left him to go and conduct their businesses. Minister Fudge on the other hand was led upstairs to the main conference hall where only the head of the governments were allowed to convene along with their private security.
The lower floors were where all the real dealings between the governments happened. It was Amelia and Barty's job to form alliances and ink pacts in favour of cooperation, security and trade while Fudge had the final say over all matters. He was the one who had the power to say yes or no and the meeting in which he was heading into was the highest level of diplomacy and a room in which split decisions would change the world and a flippant remark could start a war.
On the first floor, just beside the elegant staircases were a pair of glass panelled elevators and the British Minister was calmly guided in despite his nervous demeanour on entering an elevator that looked as fragile as his self confidence. But a minute later they made it to the top floor and the lift doors opened into a warm and cosy room with furniture of mahogany decorating the room of leaders.
Hidden behind the persona of Cornelius Fudge, Harry felt nervous. The other four leaders of the the magical world, affiliated to the ICW were already here and they were all waiting on him. The Grandmaster of the Americas; a tall middle aged brutal faced man with long white hair neatly tied back and frigid grey eyes. He was clutching a seven foot long staff in his hand which had a strange orb nested at the top. He was looking at Fudge with contempt and he was protected by three cloaked and hooded men, all holding staffs with tight and menacing grips.
Fudge audibly gulped and turned to his bodyguards. "Wands at the ready men," he squeaked.
Seated on either side of the American was the Emperor of the Imperial Empire and the Caliph of Persia.
The Emperor was a kind faced old man with narrow slits for eyes and dressed in elegant silver and emerald robes with a magnificent dragon embroided in gold on his torso. Two men and two women with blank expressionless faces stood behind him in loose oriental clothing in black and white.
Chakra users, Harry thought warily. The magical users East of Asia used their entire bodies as a conduit for magic. They transformed magical energy into physical to make their moments, strikes and defence stronger than anything in the world. The Amazonian magic that Hugo had taught him was similar except that the Amazon way was for hunting and killing. It made it possible to manifest magic out of the body without the use of a wooden conduit.
The Caliph on the other hand was a man with harsh lines, courtesy of age, on his face stretching his cheeks and frown lines that looked like they had been engraved by a knife. He was wearing white robes and looked utterly relaxed despite his unattractive features. He radiated an aura of peace and harmony but one look at his bodyguard and Harry knew it was all a facade.
Kayami the Cruel.
The Caliph was guarded by one woman who was dressed in white robes and had black hair that was long and had not a single strand out of place along with a long and thick rope criss crossed around her torso. A woman who's gaze made even the fiercest in the room look away from that beautiful face with lust for death burnt in her eyes. Her eyes constantly swept through the room, looking for dangers and enemies and for a moment her intense black eyes lingered on Fudge, accessing the newcomer.
Harry had felt true fear twice in his life, fear that rooted him to the ground with terror raging behind his eyes and one of them was during a encounter with Kayami. His head began to pound as his blood pressure rose and his vision blurred, forcing him to recall the incident of August 1988, in war torn Iran.
The bloody muggle war between Iran and Iraq had finally ended but the anger had not yet simmered. While the muggles celebrated, the magical Middle East called Persia that had none of the borders that defined muggle countries was in a state of flux. Harry and Hugo were in a remote part of Ahwaz, trying look for aid after deserting the war front months ago, as their cover stories dictated, and were scouting for families who would be sympathetic to their cause. The sun was sinking into the horizon and the streets were almost deserted for fear was thick in the air.
Just hours before their arrival in the tiny magical community, news had arrived that a man from their community had attempted to assassinate the Caliph but his attempt had been foiled by his bodyguards. Everyone knew, that the follies of one man were blamed on the community he was raised by. After all ideology is defined by your surroundings and influences. If one man would revolt then everyone linked to him was to be held accountable. And in such instances one woman was sent to teach the traitors a lesson.
Hide Harry! For goodness sake, take cover!
But Harry could not tear his eyes away from the carnage unfolding in front of him. He could not look away from this hauntingly beautiful woman who wielded a rope, saturated with magic and danced with such fluidity that it reminded him of a feather in a gentle breeze. He would not look away as the rope slashed through the air tearing apart screaming and hysterical innocents, while the woman laughed pleasantly, as if she were exchanging pleasantries with an old friend. He could not take his eyes away from the sight of her deadly dance while blood and guts turned the sky red.
Kayami's eyes brought forth all those horrible memories Harry had tried to forget but it was futile. He quickly looked away before he lost his composure and behind him, his bodyguards tensed as her gaze fell upon them.
Harry took a deep calming breath and observed the last leader who was sitting beside him.
The Rishi of South Asia or India as it was now called. His eyes met with kind brown eyes and Harry felt all the negative emotions that Kayami brought forth disappear in a wave of serenity. Pitch black hair with strands of grey framed his smooth, friendly brown face and calm dark brown eyes were doing exactly what he was doing. Observing.
Magic users to the South of Asia used a peculiar style of magic and Harry noticed the flutes hanging from the belts of the three men behind the Rishi. Music was their conduit and using their flutes, they manipulated emotions. They could induce rage in the gentlest of souls or calm the most violent of beasts. They used music to communicate with animals and centuries ago, Salazar Slytherin had travelled to India where he learnt the art of communion with animals which became the language called Parseltongue in Europe due to his fascination with snakes.
The five leaders together presided over ninety percent of the magical world and now they were all in one room waiting for one other person to arrive.
His seat at the head of the oval table was raised higher than the others and fifteen minutes after the due time, Albus Dumbledore swept into the room signalling the start of the meeting.
"I apologise for the delay," he said smiling. "But Rita Skeeter had wormed her way into the building and refused to let me go without asking some very insulting questions."
"Insulting how?" Inquired Rishi Vayu, his voice soft and fluent with an light Indian accent.
"She said my robes were too tacky," he said, his eyes twinkling.
"Can we get on with this," said Grandmaster Rommel. "Time is not free Supreme Mugwump."
"Quite right," said the Emperor of the Imperial empire or Japan and China. "You have gone to great lengths to ensure we meet and I wish to know the reason behind your insistence. Organising such a meet is no small task after all."
"I believe Albus must call the meeting to a start before the Grandmaster may enlighten us," said Caliph Mustafar, his voice melodious.
A hush came over the room and all the leaders straightened their backs while Dumbledore turned serious and began to exude the aura of power he was so well known for. Fudge twirled his Bowler hat nervously and glanced around the room, taking in the solemn expressions of his neighbours.
"I, Albus Dumbledore, hereby declare the eighth world conference to have begun!"
"I will get straight to the point," rumbled the Grandmaster in his deep, powerful voice. "One and a half years ago, our worlds were rocked by the attacks on respected members of our communities around the globe. Two of our Wardens were killed, three Aurors of Britain and many others in Central Europe, all due to the fanatics that rule the underworld. Over the years there have been attacks on innocent people just so that these people could put a point across. These terrorists must be dealt with but we have never been able to get a grasp on their location until now."
Everyone was startled. They knew what the American was talking about. Terrorist attacks were something every government had to deal with. There were always pockets of violence that harboured an intense dislike to the ruling parties and it was also true that those pockets would never see their dreams fulfilled. They were very good at hiding and killing and it was surprising that Grandmaster claimed to have discovered their hideout.
He knew the impact of his words and gave a superior smirk. "I have called for this meeting because it is high time we strike back against these forces of evil and permanent put down any ideas of attacks against our people!"
Beside Fudge, the Rishi very audibly snorted. "You called this meeting to inform us about your decision to strike back against terrorists? Forgive me Grandmaster, but do tell the real reason for calling this meet."
"His government has discovered the hideout if terrorists," said the Emperor, his voice gravelly and weak. "How can you say that is not important."
The Rishi looked at the relaxed Caliph pointedly. "No doubt this information is very valuable and can prove to be decisive in the fight against criminals, but I'm certain there are a few in this room who will not be surprised when the location is revealed. In fact I am certain the people you call terrorists will relocate before you can strike back."
The Grandmaster narrowed his eyes. "That is a bold statement Rishi Vayu. And it is more than odd that it comes from the most spineless government tied to the ICW."
Behind Fudge's persona Harry shrewdly assessed the situation. The Rishi was right. Information about terrorist location did not warrant a full blown ICW conference. The Caliph was more than aware about the activities of organisations against the democratic magical world and the DOI was aware of the funding said organisations received from the Emperor of the Imperial Empire himself. The Americans too, largely ran a autocratic government and it was only the European and Indian magical societies that could boast about having the freedom to use magic without the intervention of the government.
"The most spineless is another word for peace loving Grandmaster," Fudge spoke up suddenly. The warm smiles of the Rishi and Dumbledore inspired his confidence and his voice grew stronger. "Attacks happen, law enforcement deals with it and the perpetrators and caught. The attacks on us were tragic, no doubt. But for a violence loving government like yours to call a meeting to announce their discovery is preposterous to say the least. Tell us the truth Grandmaster."
Grandmaster Rommel was not amused. His fingers tightened their grip around his staff and every bodyguard in the room stiffened. It could be said that the power of the Grandmaster was rivalled only by Albus Dumbledore.
"We cannot attack the place with magic," he said finally. "It was once a magical dead zone and by the hand of a very powerful wizard, a small area has become magical once more but there is no magic that can harm it from the outside.
"And in the light of such a drawback and due to the risk of infiltration being too high, we have allied with the muggle government to strike using muggle weapons."
For a moment there was pin drop silence and then everyone exploded.
"Preposterous! Absolutely preposterous!" gasped Fudge.
Even the guards were murmuring among one another and the Caliph and Emperor were muttering obscenities in their native language. The Rishi was glaring coldly at the Grandmaster and voicing his disapproval vehemently.
"Have you forgotten the horrors the muggle world is capable on unleashing on us Grandmaster!? Have you forgotten why the Statue of Secrecy was enforced? Could it be that you hit your head on the way here?"
"It is the only way!" he spat. "They continue to grow stronger everyday! The ally with vampires, werewolves, dark wizards and all manners of deranged creatures and the day will come when we will no longer be capable of holding them back!"
"And revealing our existence to muggles is your answer?" the Caliph said sarcastically.
"The muggle at the head of the state is aware of us, Caliph. The British Prime Minster and American President are always kept in the loop of our troubles and this concerns magical as well as non magical people."
"Supreme Mugwump. What do you have to say to all this!" Fudge said agitatedly.
"The law makes an allowance for passing along information to the muggle leaders of your country but it does not make allowances for the muggles to strike on wizards even with the permission of wizards," Dumbledore said dryly. His job as the Supreme Mugwump was to ensure the law was upheld and not violated by over enthusiastic leaders.
"Even if they are criminals, attacking them with muggle weapons is a big mistake," Dumbledore added. "How do you think the underworld will react if they are attacked by such weapons?"
"It will be open season on them Grandmaster," wheezed the Emperor.
But the Grandmaster was still smiling, unshaken by the vehement protests. "What if I told you that this place, where they are hiding, holds ninety percent of all the people we are hunting put together?
"The perpetrators of the 1955 bombing in India, the massacre of Wolf street in London, the murderer of the Emperors son in 1945. I can go on and on about the number of criminals our agents have discovered in this place. After hearing this would you still be quiet or will we unite and strike a massive blow to the underworld?"
"Shujin," whispered the Emperor, heartbroken. "I am with you Grandmaster," he said, changing his stance in an instant.
Harry on the other hand had gone still when the crimes were mentioned. "What is the name of this place," he asked, licking his dry lips.
"Our agent was unable to reveal the name but we know its in the Czech Republic."
His body became cold and his eyes widened. The shock was too much and his slip of control was thankfully unnoticed by everyone for they were fixed on the Grandmaster. He quickly composed himself but inside he was beginning to panic. Even with an excited front he could feel the cold sting of fear and panic cut off his ability to think clearly. The Americans were planning on hitting the Devils Cauldron. They were going to kill tens of thousands of people because they didn't follow the law laid down by the rest of the world. They were going to murder children, women, men and other magical species because a few had committed horrible crimes.
The voices of his companions turned into a buzz while Harry tried to take control of his mind and think of a way to prevent the Grandmaster from convincing the ICW to go ahead with his mad plan. Hugo had enlightened him about Tyson Storm's purpose in the Devils Cauldron a while back. It was to have a way to infiltrate this top levels and find a way to ensure the very men the Grandmaster wanted to kill, were somehow caught by the Aurors or other law enforcement agencies.
"Calm down and think Harry." Hugo's icy voice broke through his panicked thoughts. Hugo, ever the voice of cold and emotionless reason mentally glared at him. "This is just the beginning. Decisions like this take a little more time to be executed. And if it were, how would this effect Britain? Your mission is to keep our lands safe. The Grandmaster is only making his country a target and it will probably help Stacy gain significant ground inside their government."
"Are we condemning innocents to death?!" interjected James Keller coolly.
"This is not our fight." Abdul added his two cents.
"Will you all just shut the hell up and let me think," Harry snapped mentally, before realising he was in effect simply arguing with himself.
Tyson just laughed in his mind perfectly content to let this drama play itself out.
"Where do you stand Minister Fudge?" asked the Rishi, his voice frosty.
Fudge glanced at Dumbledore helplessly and found an impassive expression on the great wizards face.
"All we have is your word Grandmaster," Fudge said licking his dry lips. "What proof can you give us that what you claim is true. How do we know that we aren't making a mistake by attacking this place you speak of? If we are wrong and we end up killing innocents, you might as well kiss our political careers goodbye!"
The Grandmaster scowled, getting annoyed by the talk of personal ambition. "We have solid information," he said cryptically. "I cannot say more without endangering my agent. Unlike your ministry, we actually have a fully functional intelligence network that is capable of gathering information."
Harry laughed in his head. If only they knew how good the DOI was, let alone it's existence.
The oval table broke down into further arguments and Fudge kept shaking his head and muttering the insanity of the plan proposed by the Grandmaster over and over again while Harry was doing some furious thinking.
The grandmaster needs four votes to proceed with his idea to murder thousands of rejects of the ruling society. He's definitely under pressure by his government to take action against the Gerard and Roman. If they die they will become martyrs to their cause and that DEFINITELY is not good for any government.
Gerard and Roman were practically legends who swore to bring the residents of the underworld out of poverty regardless of their methods. Tyson was the persona that was being groomed to infiltrate Gerard and Roman's network to bring them down from the inside and now the plan that Harry had worked so hard to ensure would work was in jeopardy.
"Would the Supreme Mugwump allow us an intermission where we can gather our thoughts and consider the Grandmaster 's proposal?" The Rishi said calmly, sensing a complete breakdown of decorum if hot heads were not allowed to cool. He had arrived thinking that the meeting would be about werewolves and vampires as usual but this was completely unexpected.
"Granted!" said Dumbledore, banging the hammer on his table.
On cue, five ICW workers entered the room and walked to one leader each.
"May I guide you to your chamber, Minister Fudge?"
"Yes, yes. Of course," he replied quickly, averting his eyes from the cold stare of the Grandmaster and the calculative gaze of the Caliph.
Privacy would give Harry the time he needed to formulate a plan and end this talk about mass murder before it was approved. The Grandmaster needed four votes to get the authority to go ahead with his plan. He already had the Caliph and the Emperor and with him that made three. The Rishi would refuse but against the Power of the Grandmaster, it wouldn't be long before he wilted and agreed with the Grandmaster. But before that Harry had no doubt that the Grandmaster was going to approach him first. He, meaning Fudge was the weakest among them all and if it was the real Fudge at the meeting, missiles would be breaking the sound barrier on their way to the Devil's Cauldron by now.
Fudge was shown into a comfortable sitting room, complete with a burgundy carpet covering every inch of the floor. A couch and three sofas around a glass table and a door leading to the private washroom. There was a window in the walk opposite and the pale silvery curtains flowed over the cool breeze coming through.
Harry eased himself onto the sofa and fingered the edges of his hat agitatedly.
Fudge waved at them dismissively and signalled the Aurors to stay outside.
Harry pushed away the Fudge impersonation and immediately a serious and pensive look appeared on his face which was completely out of character for the otherwise awkward and dim politician.
I can't make contact with Hugo, he thought grimly. He had to make a move for good or bad in the next thirty minutes or else events were going to be completely out of his control. There was no possible way to contact anyone outside this floor during the meet and the weight of the decision lay completely on Harry. Hugo and Croaker were counting on him to stay calm and handle the situation like a pro. It was what he was trained for and with that thought he relaxed his mind.
Go for it, he heard Hugo's cold and ruthless voice speak in his mind. It might result in the termination of a few our networks and plans but it will also result in the death of our targets.
Our oath says something about violence being a last resort remember?! Harry argued back sarcastically, his mental voice furious.
"And it's not us doing the mass murdering," Hugo retorted. "Don't compromise yourself based on a moral compass!"
"Don't allow this now that you have chance to stop it," whispered Abdul - his timid personality whose entire character screamed cowardice in survival in the midst of violence. "Thousands of innocents will die."
"Who gives a shit morons!" barked Tyson, his voice alive and booming. "Can you imagine how cool the following shit storm is going to be?! Bodies will be piling on both sides!"
"Ignore pyscho Storm," interjected James - his laid back, cunning and sexy personality. "Make a deal with the Grandmaster. Delay the strike to a time of your liking and make him change his mind in that time."
"James is the smartest of you all," Harry murmured. "There are some fifty American wizards and witches in the Cauldron. A relatively less number but if there's one thing, the Americans take the safety of their citizens very seriously. And they rate bringing criminals to a court for a so called justice process even higher."
"American terrorist brought back to face justice," Tyson grumbled, annoyed that he was ignored. "You have it admit that headline will change the Grandmasters mind in ten seconds flat!" he crowed smirking widely.
"Go and speak with him quick!" urged Abdul.
A knock on the door broke Harry out of his mind and he swiftly brought Fudge back to the front. He felt his thought process become sluggish and self serving and muttered come in.
Fudge blinked at the unexpected visitor and Harry blanched on the inside. But he recovered his wits quickly, without arousing any signs of suspicions and gestured his guards to make way and allow the Grandmaster of Magic in the Americas to come in.
Outside Fudge noticed his guards stand with the hands loose and ready to summon their wands while the Grandmaster's guards stood opposite with the staff clenched tight.
His nervousness grew and he got up quickly and stuck his palm out. "Grandmaster," he exclaimed. "What a pleasant surprise!"
The American nodded to his men and they relaxed their postures a bit and the door was shut.
"Why are you opposed to my proposal," he said, not beating around the bush.
Fudge was momentarily stunned but he quickly gathered his wits and smiled charmingly. "The people would have my head if we are wrong and end up killing innocent people. My political career would be over just because you think you have good information."
Rommel ground his teeth and literally growled back. "We are not wrong and this is not about our careers."
"Then why are you so adamant that we should do it now, so soon. Do not take me for a fool Grandmaster. I know you are under pressure to find these terrorists and there are calls for a new Grandmaster to be elected."
Grandmaster Rommel's eyes widened. "How do you know that!"
Fudge quelled under his furious glare but held his ground. "Gossip travels fast."
Actually it was a simple observation, Harry thought to himself.
"Regardless," Rommel said coldly. "This is about ending a very real threat to our world and I need your support. I had thought the talk we had earlier would ensure your support but clearly you are the fraud that I was led to believe."
Harry frowned in confusion for a second. What talk was the Grandmaster talking about? After a through investigation of Fudge the DOI hadn't heard of any meeting with the Grandmaster and the Minister for years.
Unfortunately, in that second, the Grandmaster noticed the confusion and look that said he had no idea what he was talking about and his eyes widened in comprehension. This man in front of him behaved like Fudge, talked like Fudge and even felt like Fudge. His magic too, was telling him that this is Fudge but the Grandmaster knew that the conversation they had three months ago, under the biggest cloud of secrecy, was not something the Minister was likely to forget. Even for a second.
Harry had put a hair out of place.
The Grandmaster's staff was swept out of his robes in an instant and faster than Harry could blink, a pulse of red magic flew out of the orb and to the door, sealing it.
The air around the powerful wizard began to darken and his eyes started to glow as he gathered massive amounts of raw magic into staff. "Who are you?!" he boomed and Harry fell to the floor, his eyes wide with fear and a scream of protest was stuck in his throat.
Shit! Harry screamed in his mind, panic racing faster than his control. Shit. Shit. Shit! Events were spiralling out of control unimaginably fast!
"W-wait!" Fudge squeaked. "I am Cornelius! What are you doing man?!"
The staff was pointed at him and Harry felt something invisible begin to choke him. The Grandmaster took a step forward and Harry's body began to rise above the ground.
"Who are you?" he repeated and Fudge could only gurgle.
Harry could hear the sounds of pounding on the door and his vision was darkening with every second that passed by. His conscious was slipping and thoughts were out of control. He had to get the situation under control, he couldn't be discovered. He couldn't be found out! His lungs began to hurt and his body was dragged up to the Grandmaster's face, smouldering grey eyes boring into his dull brown with unimaginable power.
"Speak or you will die," the Grandmaster hissed and he meant it.
The runes carved into Harry's bones had been activated thrice since the time unknown, when they had been put on him. The first was when Voldemort had cast the unblockable killing curse at him. The second was when Hugo nearly killed him while teaching him Amazonian magic and the third was when the Grandmaster of magic in America threatened to kill him.
The invisible magic pouring out of the staff was suddenly absorbed into Harry, the hidden runes vibrating with power, causing Harry a sudden and immense pain all over his body. And then with the force of a small bomb, the Grandmaster's magic exploded out, blasting Rommel off his feet and into the wall behind him.
At the same moment the door to the room burst open and wizards and warlocks rushed in ready to battle. Their alert eyes took in the sizzling hole burnt through the dead Grandmaster, the shaking and terrified Fudge and his very noticeable shaking finger pointing to the open window.
"Assassin! An assassin tried to kill me!" he cried.
7TH SEPTEMBER 1992
Two days had passed by since the disastrous conference and Harry had been holed up in the DOI ever since. He had been questioned and counter questioned over and over again until both Hugo and Croaker were satisfied that Harry had done no wrong and it was a failure on their part that they didn't know about this secret meeting that took place between Fudge and the deceased Rommel.
After the death of Rommel, ICW security had poured into the room and the American and British guards nearly came to blows seeing that Fudge was alive and the very formidable Grandmaster was dead. The following six hours were buried under hurried investigations, a search for an assassin, sealing off the building and a through examination of Fudge and his wand.
In the end it was concluded that Fudge had nothing to do with the Grandmasters death. The magic he was killed with was oddly his own and the assassin had vanished without a trace. The wards were as impenetrable as ever and the security staff were baffled as to how the breach occurred.
Harry had kept Fudge's story simple. He and Grandmaster Rommel had begun to talk when the Grandmaster suddenly stiffened and brandished his staff with a furious expression. The next thing Fudge knew was horrible pain wreaking his body, which was confirmed by the healers, and a booming sound after which he saw a figure escape through the window just before the door was broken down.
Grandmaster Rommel was honoured and praised for his bravery and quick thinking which ended up saving the British Ministers life. The real Cornelius Fudge loved the story and had spend the past day giving press conferences and basking in the attention of having survived an attempt by one of the most dangerous assassins in the world.
Far behind the scenes, as soon as Harry returned from Zurich, he had blown up at Hugo and raged about their massive failure in intelligence. How could they have not known that the Grandmaster and Fudge had met! That was the question he kept asking. Even Hugo and Croaker asked themselves that question and they came to the conclusion at the same time.
"We have an American spy in our ministry," Hugo said shrewdly.
"A spy good enough to arrange a meeting without anyone in the British isles knowing," Harry added bitterly. He had not taken the unplanned hicup of his mission well, even though he had accomplished his goals.
"We will have to flush him out," Croaker said grimly. "Rommel's death could not have come at a better time. The political scene in America was already turning turbulent and with his death and the chaos that is following, Stacey has ingrained herself into the upper echelons of their government and could be promoted to Warden within a year."
"That's great news," Hugo said, his eyes shining.
Harry on the other hand was quiet. In many ways this was like his first kill. He had seen death before - a man being stabbed to death in Chicago, Kayami's bloody affair in Ahwaz, horrifying drug overdoses in the Cauldron - but this was the first time he had been involved. He had felt his runes turn hostile and there was a chance he could have stopped it but he didn't. He had let it happen and had made his first kill. He knew there could come a time when he had to kill but there was no preparation he could have made to deal with the emotional turmoil he was going through.
"What's next," Harry said abruptly. He had to move on from this. There was no point dwelling on it and throwing himself head first into the dark world was his best bet for moving on. "Where do we go from here?"
"We're sending you back to the States," Hugo said. "You have a two week break before you join Stacey. With her new position in the government and James Keller getting closer to the Franklins, we have a good chance of breaking into the vampires network with intelligence from both sides."
Harry smiled. He liked his James Keller personality the best. He had moulded him after what little Hugo had told him a bit about his father's exploits at Hogwarts. America was going to be fun, he decided immediately.
"Don't get too comfy with the idea," Hugo warned. "You have to go to the private school Jennifer Franklin and her bodyguards go to. It's a very prim and proper boarding school and there you'll have lots of chances to meet and interact with Cromag Franklin."
"Stuck up rich brats and school?" Harry said, dismayed. "Come on Hugo! I can gather intelligence better on the streets! Besides, how are we going to explain the sudden desire of James to go to a bloody boarding school? He doesn't even have the finances to justify the move!"
Hugo just smirked. "Enjoy your break for now. You'll find out the details soon enough."
Harry scowled. "Fine," he spat. "I'll see you in two weeks so don't bother getting in touch with me until then."
Croaker looked on, very amused by the dynamics between Harry and Hugo.
Harry glared one last time at both occupants before stepping into the fireplace and disappearing in a roar of green flames.
Back in his home, Harry tired to light his joint but his trembling hands did not allow it. He gave up after a few seconds and rested his head against the wall and closed his eyes, trying to will away the burning smell and sight of Rommels corpse clogging his senses.
"Fuuuck," he exhaled, his eyes unreable and emotions indecipherable.