Unlike a sister
CHAPTER 2: THE CALLAHAN MATTER
Summary: Harry told Ron he saw Hermione as his sister. Is i true? Remember, Harry has no sister.
Harry looked up as his secretary Gwendolyn Fuller peeked in the doorway. “Yeah. What is it?”
Harry had been feeling harassed all morning. When he floo-ed into work at six, he was greeted by what turned out to be an unplanned press conference. The news had gotten out Sunday night that there had been an instance of “excessive force” by one of his top Aurors. The Prophet and several other prominent publications were asking for a comment from the Chief of the Auror Department. He spent the rest of the morning in his office, ignoring the whizzing inter-departmental memos zooming around his light fixture.
“New report from Stonehouse. No developments,” Gwen said as she slipped a thin file onto Harry’s desk.
“Thanks,” Harry said, taking the file and looking up at her. “Hey, Gwen. Come here; close the door.”
Gwen shut the door, looking curiously at him.
“Go ahead and sit down. I want to ask you something,” Harry said as he leaned back in his chair.
Gwen seated herself on the leather couch that faced Harry’s desk. The light from the mottled glass ceiling above gave her face a freckled glow.
“What’s the mood out there?” Harry asked.
Gwen sighed. “I really can’t tell you, Chief. Some think the Ministry is in the right, discharging Callahan from the AD and snapping his wand. But you know what kind of pull he had around here. A lot of them don’t like the way things are progressing. A lot of people don’t believe he would do that. They say he’s being set up as an example…”
“Right,” Harry said, pursing his lips. “Is that sentiment directed towards anyone in particular?”
“Not in the Auror Department, per se,” Gwen replied, looking apprehensive. “I mean Callahan acted alone. He didn’t take anyone down with him. I think the anger is probably directed towards Magical Law Enforcement and perhaps the Minister.”
Harry wanted to ask if he, Harry, was seen as pursuing the Callahan case too hard. But he resisted. He could tell by the stiff manner of his fellow Aurors this morning that many of them thought he was abandoning one of the Department’s most trusted and effective Aurors to the crusading tendencies of the government prosecutors down the hallway.
“Well, thanks. I’ll read the report and we’ll move from there. Keep the memos on your end, will you, unless they’re important?”
“Sure thing, boss,” She said moving towards the door. She flicked her wand at the ceiling and the the memos immediately queued up into a neat row like ducklings following their mother. “Counselor Granger should be here by noon.”
“Thanks,” Harry said, glancing down at his watch. Quarter past eleven.
Somewhat dubiously, Harry glanced at the yellow folder Gwen had left on his desk. He slid it across the surface and pulled back the cover. The file was marked Top Secret.
The first page included a summary of Callahan’s case. Callahan had been on assignment in Cainscross on August 29th. Seven days ago. There had been rumors that the perpetrator of a recent spate of robberies in Diagon Alley could be holed up there. The situation became more serious when the alleged assailant was identified as an ex-Voldemort supporter, one Deedrick Rudge. Cainscross was his hometown. No one, including Harry, expected Rudge to flee to the place of his birth and so Harry sent Callahan to the area alone, as Callahan was already in the vicinity.
What happened next made no sense to Harry. The report stated that Callahan arrived at 9 Ashway Court, Rudge’s childhood home, at eleven that night. He had found a Muggle family inside who had never heard of Deedrick Rudge. For some inexplicable reason Callahan did not seem to believe them. The rest of the report was rather gruesome. According to the report and Callahan’s most recent interrogation yesterday, Callahan tied up the Muggle couple’s two children—a girl of fifteen and a boy of twelve. He performed illegal and invasive Legilimency on all four of them, demanding to know Rudge’s whereabouts. The couple pleaded that their children to be left alone. It was at that point Callahan used the Cruciatus curse on both of them. Before he left, Callahan performed a violent version of the Memory Charm. Each member of the family had suffered significant memory loss and possible brain damage.
When Harry got word of the attack he had the family quietly relocated to Saint Mungo’s in hopes that the Healers could restore their memories. A week later and there was no progress. The teenage girl was still in a magical coma.
Harry flipped through Callahan’s most recent interrogation. A line in his testimony seemed to jump off the page.
Callahan: I was happy to do it. The regulations these days…they bind the hands of an Auror. If it were a wizard, no one would have batted an eye if I used legilimency. Only if it’s Muggles does this Ministry seem to have a problem. They forget who they represent.
There was a knock at the door.
“Chief Potter, your twelve o’clock.”
Hermione stepped into the room. Harry quickly took in her appearance. She was wearing a tight, pinstriped dress. A matching half-cape hung askance on her small frame, leaving one shoulder bare. The skirt stopped just before her knees, directing Harry’s eyes downward to her red heels. A red scarf was tied around her neck. Her hair was loose, but neat.
“Thanks, Gwen,” Harry said as his assistant sidled out of the room. Harry stood and walked towards Hermione. He briefly kissed her cheek. “Well, you look good. What’s the occasion?”
Hermione smiled. “Just an unrelated hearing. I’ve just come from there.” She looked around the office. “Should we start here?”
Harry stuffed his hands deep into his pockets. “You know, why don’t we go to lunch? I don’t know if you noticed but the atmosphere is tense in here today.”
Hermione nodded. “So that explains the cold reception I just got.”
Harry smiled ruefully at her. “It’s not you, darling—just your department in general. Let me grab my coat.”
Despite the strained mood in the Auror Department, Harry and Hermione received quite a few waves and “afternoons” as they made their way across the Ministry’s Atrium. Harry chanced a glance at the fountain at the center of the enormous hall. It was a round orb, the earth. Impressed into its surface, almost as if they were sinking into it, were the figures of a wizard, witch, Muggle, centaur, goblin, and house elf. They’re hands were linked. Crystal water ran from the northern pole of the orb and slid down the crevices of the statues’ faces.
Harry and Hermione squeezed themselves into a red telephone booth and ascended to the street level. Hermione’s back was pressed against his chest and Harry had to lift his chin a bit to keep his face out of her hair. She smelt faintly of lilies and new books.
They stepped into the deserted alley and Hermione turned to him. “What are you feeling? We could apparate to Diagon Alley or we can just wander about here?”
“I feel like Muggle food. I don’t know about you?” Harry ventured.
“Sure,” said Hermione. “Have any cash on you?”
Harry dug into his wallet for a moment. He looked up at her, laughing. “Two quid. Sorry.”
“It’s fine,” Hermione said briskly, reaching into the pocket of her cape and removing three galleons. “Come stand by me.”
Harry moved towards her, shielding her wand from view. Hermione transfigured the three galleons into three 10 pound notes. Hermione replaced her wand and stepped away.
“Sure that’ll work?” Harry asked.
“Yes, of course,” Hermione said distractedly. “They won’t even know. I made sure it was permanent as well—they’ll be able to use the money forever.”
Harry smirked sardonically. “I think I’m supposed to point out—just as the head of the Auror Department—that counterfeiting money is illegal in Muggle England.”
“Pish posh,” Hermione laughed. “We’re in a recession. The laws of economics state the more cheap money the better.”
Harry chuckled as they made their way down the alley. They emerged into the sunlight of a busy, central London avenue. Businessmen on their lunch break were crowding several well-known establishments, forcing Harry and Hermione into a relatively vacant Vietnamese restaurant.
As the waitress left with their orders (two bowls of Pho), Harry tried to delay the inevitable conversation. “You look very nice today, I think I said?”
“Yeah,” Hermione said. “Not my usual trousers and button-down, I know.”
“I like it,” Harry said honestly, bringing his bubble tea to his mouth.
Hermione smiled sweetly. “Well, don’t get used to it. I can’t pull off heels everyday, even with Morton’s Heel Pain-be-Gone.”
Harry didn’t know why he said what he did next. “Ginny wears heels everyday.”
Hermione nodded. “Well, that’s because Ginny is just baller that way. Three kids and she still looks fabulous.”
Harry laughed at her use of slang. It was sort of cute…in a Hermione way. “You don’t need to wear heels if you don’t want…. You look just as wonderful.”
Hermione blinked. There was an awkward pause, interrupted by the arrival of their food. They slurped their Pho in companionable silence for a few minutes. After a moment, Hermione looked up at Harry and said, “We should probably get to talking about what we’ve been avoiding.”
Harry put down his spoon, resigned. “Right.”
“I don’t like it any more than you, Harry,” Hermione said, fiddling with her purse. She pulled out a sheaf of paper and a ballpoint pen she kept on hand just for Muggle environments. “But, I will need your comments on the matter, for my report.”
“Right,” Harry said again. “Just tell me what Lakey decides and don’t move before you discuss things with me.”
“I won’t,” Hermione assured him. She grasped her wand in her cloak and muttered “Silencio.”
“Muffliato,” Harry whispered.
“All right. First tell me your understanding of the facts. When did you send Callahan to Cainscross? What did you tell him to do there?” Hermione asked, pen poised.
Harry took a sip of his soup. He glanced at her face—her eyes had that spark in them—she was “business” Hermione. He didn’t like to be on the receiving end of that look.
“Well,” Harry began with a sigh. “We received a tip from a witness at Diagon Alley after the robbery on the 29th. It was the shopkeeper of the witch’s boutique next to the apothecary. She said she had seen a man in a brown cloak running from the store. He had a baldhead and a scar running along his scalp, upwards from his ear. I didn’t receive the report directly—it went into the interpool. One of my Aurors said she recognized the description as Deedrick Rudge. She was dispatched to the shopkeeper for a follow-up interview. When she returned it was about four that afternoon. I confirmed the details with her and asked for a background search. She gave me his standard file. I wrote down several locations to monitor, including his last known whereabouts in London, his girlfriend’s residence in Leicester, and his childhood home—at Cainscross.”
Hermione was scribbling away, barely looking at him.
“I then sent out a national dispatch, ordering all available Aurors within 50 miles of these locations to contact Headquarters immediately. I sent five Aurors to the London location. Two went to Liecester. Only Callahan was available anywhere near Cainscross. He had been in Gloucester, following up on an unrelated lead. At this time, it was probably eight in the evening. I spoke to him directly via patronus. I gave him the address—9 Ashway Court. He replied that he would do some initial reconnaissance of the area and report back to me within an hour. By ‘reconnaissance’ we both understood that to mean he would scope out the area. At most, he could use de-mystifying charms to determine if there was any notable deception in the house. If he found anything, he was to report back to me immediately and I would issue an entry warrant. When I finished speaking with him, he seemed completely in his senses.
“As I think has been reported in the papers, no one expected Rudge would return to his childhood home for sanctuary,” Harry said, frustrated. “I certainly did not. I imagined that Callahan would go to the address, perform a few auditory-enhancing spells and anti-deception charms, and determine there was nothing amiss. In all honestly, I didn’t expect him to report back. Theo Callahan has an independent streak in him. There have been times when I’ve known he’s been sent on a meaningless task and he likely won’t report back until the next morning. So, I left the office that night around 10, leaving the overnight staff with orders to contact me if Callahan sent his report to Headquarters. I apparated home—I helped Ginny with the wash. The kids were leaving for school in two days, as you know. I went to bed without hearing from Headquarters.”
Hermione put down her pen and took a sip of her now room temperature soup. “Okay, and when you heard of the attack?”
Harry winced, embarrassed. “I actually got the report from the London Muggle station chief. He had received a report of strange activity in Cainscross. He’s one of the few Muggles who would recognize wizard activity on paper and the signs were all there—all four family members passed out in their sitting room. No memory of the events. The severity of their memory loss was also a cause for alarm.
“I receive a phone call from Commissioner Hewett at 6:30 that morning. I linked up the address on the police report with my orders to Callahan—of course, they were the same. I sent Aurors to the scene, had the family removed from the local clinic and transported to St. Mungo’s. At the same time, I was trying to find Callahan. We eventually found him at the Leaky Cauldron of all places. He didn’t seem at all perturbed that we’d come to arrest him. And that was all.”
“Have you spoken directly to Callahan since?”
“No. I was there for his discharge in Stonehouse. Lakey was there to snap his wand. I signed some papers and disapparated. Lakey told me he wants to keep him there for the time being, as he’ll likely have to be tried there. I’ll be visiting tomorrow.”
“Right,” Hermione said. “And this is the full account of your involvement in the Callahan matter?”
“Yes, counselor,” Harry replied.
Hermione considered Harry for a moment. “Okay, then. I should tell you that Lakey’s asked me to come with you two to see Callahan. He’s letting me take the lead on this case.”
Harry looked up, startled. “Are you…are you sure you want in on this one? It’ll be all over the papers in the next few weeks. You know the punishment for Muggle torture…”
“I know,” Hermione replied, replacing the paper into her purse. She took down the silencing charms and the din of the café pressed against their ears. “That’s why I want in on this one,” her reply ferocious.
Harry looked away uncomfortably; his eyes settled on the window behind Hermione’s head. Men in business suits and women in brightly colored dresses were flittering by. “Hermione,” he said slowly, “have you read the most recent interrogation of Callahan?”
“I have.” Her face was like stone.
“Then you know…from the looks of things, he has some anti-Muggle opinions.”
“I reckoned as much.”
Harry waited for her to say more. She remained silent. “Hermione…you know that if he really did what he’s accused of he deserves everything that’s coming to him. But you should know that he has his allies in the Ministry, not least among the Aurors.”
Harry paused before continuing, his voice low. “Truth be told, we have all used ‘excessive force’ at some time or another,” Harry said, looking down. “I include myself in that—restraint is one of the hardest duties an Auror…”
“Then you should teach them restraint, Harry.”
He could tell she was angry with him.
Hermione continued. “And there are degrees of excessive force. I know you’ve used legilimency without authorization, but you’ve never used the Cruciatus. You’ve never Obliviated without cause.”
Harry looked down.
“We can’t make excuses for people like Callahan, Harry, no matter how talented or well-respected the wizard.”
Harry’s brow crinkled and he looked back at Hermione. There was bright gloss over her brown eyes. “Hermione, I understand your concern. Believe me, I won’t spare any Auror in my department who behaves like Callahan in the future. But you haven’t spoken to him directly. You haven’t worked with him for eight years; in all that time, I never knew him to say a harsh word about a Muggle or a Muggle-born.”
Hermione glared at him for a moment. Then, her face relaxed. “I know, Harry. I certainly don’t want to give you the impression that I won’t give Callahan a fair hearing. I will. But if it turns out to be true, I’ll go after him with the full weight of wizarding law behind me.”
Harry gave Hermione a half-smile. “Of that, I am sure,” he said.
Harry and Hermione left their money on the table. The sky was darkening above them as they walked towards the alley.
“Remind me to pay you back,” Harry said.
Hermione giggled. “In what? Transfigured currency?”
“Don’t worry,” Hermione said lightly, “I repaired their cappuccino machine when you weren’t looking. I can somewhat confidently say I saved them a hundred quid.”
“Ah, I see. Hermione Granger always finds a way to be moral…just like that time during our seventh year when you left those Muggles money when we stole bread and eggs from their farm.”
A gust of wind down the alleyway pushed Hermione and Harry closer together. Hermione placed her hand in the crook of Harry’s arm. “Simple common decency,” she said, teasing.
Harry smiled as he opened the door of the booth for Hermione. She dialed the number as Harry latched the door shut. This time they faced one another in the cramped interior of booth.
As they descended in the darkness Hermione said, “So, we’ll be going to Stonehouse tomorrow? Where exactly is that?”
“Well, it’s near Wales—near the Forest of Dean.”
The light from the Atrium began at their feet and worked its way up.