Unlike a sister
CHAPTER 3: WHAT’S COMING
Summary: Harry told Ron he saw Hermione as his sister. Is i true? Remember, Harry has no sister.
Upon a directive from the Minister, Harry caved in and gave a few quotes to the Prophet regarding the Callahan case. Thus, Harry found himself standing in the large press-room adjacent to the Atrium. He tried to be as forthright as possible about what he knew, but there were certain answers he thought best to keep obscure.
“Do you know what spells Callahan used on the Muggles, Chief Potter?” a doughy gentleman asked Harry.
“I’m not a liberty to discuss an ongoing investigation,” Harry said for the fourth time.
“Chief Potter,” a young female reporter asked, “do you know who the public prosecutor will be against Callahan?”
Harry’s mind flew to Hermione. He paused. “That’s a question for the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. I leave it to his good judgment.”
Harry gathered his things in his darkened office.
It was past ten o’clock and about a dozen Aurors remained in their cubicles. As Harry passed through the Atrium, heading towards the massive stone fireplaces on either side if the hall, he looked up towards the Magical Law Enforcement Department. The department had offices facing out into the Atrium, and while Hermione’s office did not, he thought he saw a faint glimmer through the windowpane that corresponded to her office down the hall.
Minutes later Harry was standing in the hearth of his own fireplace at home. He was shaking the soot off his robes when he heard footsteps approaching.
“Hey, Gin,” Harry sighed. He put down his attache as Ginny moved towards him. She pulled him into an embrace and then stepped back.
“I wish you had told me you were going to be so late,” she said. “I had to call Mum to watch Lily while I was at the Tornadoes game.”
“I’m sorry,” said Harry, tired. “I didn’t plan for things to take as long as they did. It wasn’t too much trouble for Molly, was it?”
“Oh no. She was happy to do it,” Ginny said as she turned and headed towards the kitchen. “Do you want me to fix you anything? Mum left some casserole in the fridge. Looks really good—at least I think it put Lily in a food coma.”
Harry chuckled. “I’m all right, thanks.” He looked up towards the stairs longingly, his bed calling to him. “I think I’ll head up to bed. I’m exhausted…”
Abruptly, he remembered his trip to Stonehouse. “Oh, but darling I might –”
Ginny cut him off with a gasp. “Oh, Harry! How could I forget to tell you? I got an owl from Albus today. He was sorted into Gryffindor! Isn’t that wonderful?”
She embraced him again and Harry patted her back. “That’s great news.”
“Poor dear,” Ginny was saying. “So worried he would end up in Slytherin. I think your little talk on the platform may have calmed his nerves. Did you really ask the Sorting Hat to be placed in Gryffindor?”
Harry smiled half-heartedly. “Sure, I asked. I was deathly afraid of Slytherin myself.”
“So that means the Hat was actually thinking of putting you in Slytherin?”
“Yes, I think it was,” Harry answered truthfully.
“Ugh Harry! Thank God it didn’t,” she exclaimed, sticking out her tongue.
Harry had to smile at the childlike gesture. “Oh, it’s really not that bad. I’m sure I would have managed—just as Albus would have managed.”
“Please,” said Ginny, shaking her head. “Don’t even think about it.”
She turned towards the kitchen and Harry followed slowly. When she got to the table, she turned back to Harry. “Oh, and little Rose is also in Gryffindor. Good on the Hat to keep our family together.”
Harry smiled. “Yes, now all we have left are Lily and Hugo.”
“Yes, yes,” said Ginny absently as she cleared some of her papers off the kitchen table.
“I’ll have to write to Albus before I leave,” Harry said, leaning against the doorjamb. “I’ll likely be on assignment all day tomorrow, so please don’t worry about supper.”
“Assignment?” Ginny perked up. Harry hadn’t been on an assignment in several weeks. Moreover, the word “assignment” usually meant Harry couldn’t give any specifics.
“Right. I understand…” she paused. “This doesn’t have to do with the Callahan situation, does it? So ridiculous the fuss they’re making. Just give him a reprimand and be done with it.”
Harry was glad Hermione wasn’t in the room to hear that.
“It’s a bit more complicated than that, unfortunately,” Harry replied, shrugging. “In any case, I’ll be away most of tomorrow. Hermione will be too.”
Ginny stopped sorting her papers. “Oh? She’s working on the same case?”
“Yes,” Harry answered. “Just this once. I think her boss is testing her to see if she can take lead on the case. I spoke with her today. She’s pretty passionate about the subject…”
Harry thought he saw Ginny roll her eyes slightly. “Well, she would be.”
Harry, not sure what to make of Ginny’s comment, said, “Um, so please don’t worry about dinner. I’ll likely be back in the late evening. If you could leave me some of Molly’s stuff, that’d be great.”
Ginny smiled and walked towards him. “Sure, darling. You look tired. Go get some sleep and wake me up when you leave?”
“Okay,” Harry replied, his mind already in bed. He kissed Ginny goodnight—he could faintly smell the Quidditch pitch in her clothes. “Good night. Love you.”
Minutes later, Harry slipped between the sheets of his and Ginny’s massive bed; he was glad for the quiet. He drifted to sleep almost instantly.
Harry awoke at 5:30 that morning.
He fumbled around for his glasses on the side table and slipped them on. He looked to his right and saw Ginny’s slim frame lying several feet away from him. Their bed was a 17th century estate bed with large ivory hangings. It was notable for its size—about 16 feet across. Harry once measured that it took eight full roll-overs to travel from end to end. This morning, Harry shuffled over to Ginny’s end and placed a kiss on her temple.
“Darling, I’m leaving.”
Ginny mumbled incoherently.
Harry kissed her again and she moved her face away. Harry smiled slightly. Ginny was not much of a morning person. In all the times she had told him to wake her up when he left for work, she was usually too groggy to kiss him goodbye.
Harry gently kissed the corner of her lips and moved out of the bed.
After a quick shower, some coffee, and a piece of toast Harry was in his office by a quarter past six. He packed some files into his attaché and walked down the corridor towards the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. He found Hermione and the head of the Department, John Lakey, waiting for him.
“Mornin’, Harry,” Lakey said with a jovial wave.
Lakey was a husky man with ever-present stubble on his round yet somehow well-defined face. He was some fifteen years older than Hermione and Harry and a veritable legal genius. He was one of the intellectual founders of wizard-Muggle integration legal theory and thus had his enemies among the wizarding public, despite the fact that he was a pureblood stretching back seven generations. It was well known that he was Hermione’s professional mentor.
As Lakey grasped his hand, Harry chanced a glance at Hermione. She was dressed much less formally than the day before. She wore dark green corduroy pants and a gray tweed jacket over a delicate white blouse. Lakey waited until Harry had greeted Hermione with a kiss on the cheek before he spoke.
“Harry, I hope you don’t mind that it’ll only be my people down at Stonehouse today,” Lakey said. “Certainly you understand that since he is no longer an Auror this is out of your jurisdiction. Hermione insisted you remain involved, however.”
Harry stuffed his hands in his pockets. “I appreciate that, John. Once the details of the case are released to the public, there’s likely going to be an overview of Auror recruitment and training. My involvement now could help ease the transition.”
“I’m happy to help you in any way I can, Harry. You’re the most reasonable Chief of the Auror Department I’ve ever worked with,” Lakey laughed. “I’d break my wand before I jeopardize your position in the Department—though, the world would have to go raving mad before Harry Potter is pushed out of the Auror Department.”
Harry smiled automatically. He had never taken his appointment as Chief of the Aurors for granted; yet, it was a running joke in the office that his position was a lifetime appointment after the defeat of the Dark Lord.
“Harry,” Hermione said. “John and I would like to give you a rundown of the timeline from here on out. After our evaluation of Callahan today, he will be assigned an attorney for his arraignment, which will be in four days’ time. We’ll get the court date then and move from there. Obviously that means the details of the case will be made public and we’ll have to prepare for the fallout. We’ve already made the decision that Callahan will be tried in the Gloucester Division of the Wizengamot, so as to avoid the politics of a trial here in London.”
“Fine,” Harry said. “I’m all for keeping this trial as apolitical as possible. Obviously the obscure nature of the facts means that the whole case is open to misinterpretation. I’ll likely put a media blackout on my department. No Aurors will be commenting on the case—does that sound fair?”
“It’s more than I could ask,” Lakey replied, looking at Harry. “Thank you.”
Harry nodded. “Should we get on with it then?”
“Sure,” replied Lakey. “We’ll be apparating to the same location as last time, Harry—the holding cells at Stonehouse. You can take Hermione, as she’s never been…”
Harry moved to Hermione’s side and took hold of her hand. He glanced quickly at her face. She smiled nervously at him and steadied her breath. For a moment, Harry was transported to a time when Hermione would often give him that look—usually right before they were about to do something truly dangerous, like rescue an Azkaban escapee or infiltrate the Ministry of Magic.
A second later, Harry and Hermione were standing in the dank interior of an underground room. There was a small ‘pop’ behind them and Lakey appeared.
“All right, follow me,” Lakey directed. Hermione moved forward, her hand still in Harry’s. She did not let go until their eyes had adjusted to the darkness.
Lakey took them to the end of a hallway where two wizards in dark suits were talking quietly and sipping steaming cups of coffee.
“Director,” said the younger of the two men, acknowledging Lakey. They were obviously attorneys from Lakey’s department. “He just woke up fifteen minutes ago. He should be presentable for your interview.”
“Thank you, Stahls. I take it that Wilkes will be arriving shortly?”
Harry spun sharply on his heel to face Lakey. “You called her in for this?”
“I had to,” Lakey said, with an offhand glance in Harry’s direction. “It’s the only avenue we haven’t tried. Stahls?”
The younger man was staring at Harry, as though transfixed. The Director’s words brought him back to himself. “Sir—yes, I believe she said she would be here within 10 minutes or so.”
“We had best wait until she arrives then,” Lakey sighed.
Lakey turned from the two young lawyers and Harry and Hermione followed him a short distance away.
Harry’s eyes were sharp as he turned them on Lakey. “You didn’t tell me this would be a magical evaluation. How did you get him to consent to this?” Harry’s eyes widened. “You haven’t received consent, have you?”
“Harry,” Lakey said calmly. “Mr. Callahan has been more than forthright in all of his interviews so far. We are bringing in Wilkes because we are confident that Callahan will consent to the evaluation. If he doesn’t, then we won’t proceed, shall we? There’s no need to worry—remember it’s our job to cover these sorts of bases.”
Harry was still fuming. Hermione reached out and clasped his arm. “Harry, please don’t worry. We have to know what we’re dealing with, don’t we?”
Harry glanced at her, feeling somewhat calmer. “Of course…but a magical evaluation…this won’t be well-received in the Auror Department.”
“We’ll leak that information slowly Harry. Not in the arraignment filing papers,” Lakey said. He looked past Harry’s shoulder and glared.
Just then, Harry felt someone tap him on the shoulder. It was the younger lawyer, Stahls.
“Mr. Chief Harry Potter…sir,” he said somewhat breathless. “M’name is Donald Stahls. I was wondering if I might have your autograph, sir? I have a young daughter and son at home who’d be thrilled, you see? For some reason, you’ve become their hero. Not that you need a reason! I certainly don’t, I mean…I’m sure you get it all the time. Please, if it’s not too much trouble?”
Hermione released Harry’s arm. “Don, really?” she asked incredulously.
Harry laughed at the look on Hermione’s face. “Sure, Don. I’d be happy to. Have any parchment on you?”
The young lawyer produced parchment from his robes so fast that Harry would have missed it if he blinked. Lakey was chuckling now.
“They’re names are Al and Eugenie,” Stahls said. “If you could say something about keeping on their schoolwork and minding their mother, that would be great.”
“Sure,” Harry said, removing a quill from his cloak. “I have a son named Al. He was sorted into Gryffindor just yesterday.”
Stahls looked like he just might keel over in pleasure with that nugget of confidence from Harry Potter.
Hermione smiled at Harry.
“There you are,” Harry said, handing Stahls the parchment. The young lawyer stared at the paper and then back at Harry. For one horrifying moment, Hermione thought he would bow.
“That’s enough now, Stahls. She’s coming,” said Lakey curtly.
Stahls retreated to his desk and Harry, Hermione, and Lakey turned in the direction of the darkened hallway. The sound of footsteps clattering off the stone reached their ears. The silhouette of a slight woman emerged in the wet darkness. She was much shorter than Hermione—half Asian, half English with short black hair cut in a straight line and high cheekbones. She was wearing a black cloak over her equally black clothing.
“Annie,” Lakey said, approaching her and kissing her on the cheek. “Thanks for coming. We’ll get started now.”
The woman stopped and looked at Harry. Her face broke into a knowing smile. “Harry, so pleasant to see you once again.”
Harry nodded awkwardly.
“You haven’t called for me in so long, I was wondering if you forgot about me?” the woman said.
“Not at all, Anne. We just cover things a bit more…methodically these days. You understand.”
Her eyes were still trained on Harry. “Of course. But every once in a while I prove myself useful. I’d hate for you to forget that, Harry…”
She trailed off and moved in front of Harry and Hermione, following Lakey down the hall.
Harry glanced at Hermione. She had a slightly sour expression on her face. “Guess you’ve never met her before?” Harry ventured.
“No…is it normal to get a creepy vibe from her?”
“From Annie Wilkes?” Harry considered. “Yes.”
Harry and Hermione followed the pair back down the hallway. As they passed the desk with the two young attorneys, Harry heard their whispered argument.
“I can’t believe you did that,” said the lawyer whom Harry did not know.
“Shut up. I got it, didn’t I?” said Stahl proudly.
Lakey escorted them into another darkened hallway, stopping before a small and sterile cell. The lighting was dim inside, but Harry could make out Callahan’s body lying across a narrow bed.
“Incendio,” Lakey cried and light flew into the wooden chandelier hanging inside Callahan’s cell.
The scene came into focus. Callahan was sitting up in his bed now. He was wearing the clothes he had been arrested in—they were crumpled after several nights’ sleep. Usually clean-shaven, Callahan had noticeable gold stubble on his cheeks. His light blond hair stuck up at strange angles.
“Mr. Callahan,” Lakey said curtly, “we’re here for the final evaluation before your arraignment. Please stand against the back wall.”
Callahan stood slowly. His eyes locked with Harry’s as he took several steps backwards.
Lakey pointed his wand at the cell door and it swung on its hinges. He conjured five chairs, filling the small space. Lakey directed Callahan into the fifth chair. Harry, Hermione, Lakey, and Wilkes seated themselves side by side in the remaining four, their backs to the open cell door.
“Now, Mr. Callahan,” Lakey began. “You have been formally charged under Article 9 of the Wizard Criminal Code of Great Britain with the severe mistreatment of Muggles. This includes violations of the Humane Treatment of Human Species and Variants, circa 1632, and the Muggle Protection Act of 2008. The charges include unauthorized entry into a private residence; the use of Legilimency without a warrant; the illegal use of Legilimency on two minors; the unwarranted use of Legilimency on Muggles; two counts of the use of an Unforgivable Curse, the Cruciatus; two counts of using an Unforgivable Curse, the Cruciatus, on a Muggle; four counts of the unauthorized use of an Obliviation spell; four counts of the use of an Oblivation spell at level five severity with the threat of irreversibility.
“You are endowed with the right to the legal counselor of your choice,” Lakey continued. “Your family is entitled to earnings compensation for the duration of your trial. At your arraignment, you are entitled to ask for release on bail. You are allowed to seek visitation with your family and with a social worker. Do you understand the charges and the rights bestowed on you from wizarding law?”
“Yes,” Callahan replied.
“All right. Thank you, Mr. Callahan,” Lakey paused, passing a glance at Hermione. Her face was like stone, but Harry could feel the heat radiating off of her.
Lakey turned back to Callahan. “Do you have a counselor for your defense?”
“Would you like the Department of Magical Law Enforcement to appoint a counselor?”
Lakey and Harry shared a glance. “All right,” Lakey continued. “We have received offers from three private counselors. Would you like us to leave you with information regarding each counselor?”
“You can choose,” Callahan said calmly.
Harry felt Hermione shift at his side.
“Mr. Callahan,” Lakey said, uncomfortable for the first time. “It is pro forma that you choose your own counselor…”
“And I am saying you may choose for me.”
Lakey stared at the man before him for a moment. Callahan was reclining in the straight-backed chair Lakey had provided, his ankles crossed. He seemed perfectly at his ease.
“All right. As you wish Mr. Callahan. Moving on—the social worker appointed to your case is Ms. Gertrude Staub. She will be making daily visits before your arraignment and bi-weekly visits thereafter. She can answer any questions you have about incarceration conditions, food, visitation, etc.”
“Do you have any questions for me?” Lakey asked.
Callahan looked directly at Harry. “No.”
Lakey took in a deep breath. “Thank you, Mr. Callahan. That concludes the first portion of our evaluation. Now…” he glanced at Hermione. “Now, the Department of Magical Law Enforcement would like to request a magical evaluation of your person. Ms. Granger?”
Hermione cleared her throat. “Mr. Callahan, given the obscure nature of your case and the inability to obtain eye-witness reports of the incident, we are requesting a magical evaluation to be undertaken by a licensed practitioner, Ms. Anne Wilkes,” Hermione gestured stiffly to the dark woman beside Harry. “With your consent, we will conduct the procedure presently…”
Callahan cut her off. “Sure, Granger. I have no problem with that.”
Harry felt something seize in his gut, like a previously unknown reflex. The malice Callahan was able to load into that one word—Granger—sent a bead of electricity up Harry’s spine. He felt the sudden urge to stand between Hermione and Callahan, to pull his best friend behind him.
Hermione seemed unmoved. “I am required to tell you what the process entails. Ms. Wilkes will first place you in a magical coma. She will then use a combination of a priori Legilmency and mental deconstruction of your person. This will allow us to determine whether you have been placed under any enchantment or curse that may have influenced your decision-making process the night of August 29th. The process will last for approximately thirty minutes and you will likely need to rest for the remainder of the day to regain full functionality. Do you understand this process? If so, please either reject or accept the proposal. Please understand you are under no compulsion to accept.”
“All right.” Hermione said.
Lakey stood and Harry followed suit. He was jumpy.
“Anne, I leave it to you,” Lakey said. “We’ll be right outside the cell.”
Hermione brushed past both men and stepped out into the dank hallway. Harry moved more slowly after Lakey, looking first at Callahan and then at Anne. She gave him a level stare before she shot him a half-smile. Harry nodded to her and stepped into the corridor.
Hermione and Lakey were already further down the hall. Harry looked at them curiously. Lakey had both his hands on Hermione’s shoulders. He had brought his head down to her eye level and seemed to be talking sternly to her.
Harry turned back to the cell. Anne had her wand out and was waving it in front of Callahan, who was watching her with a disinterested expression. Slowly, his mouth began to slacken. His arms fell to his side and his ankles uncrossed. Finally, his head fell backwards. Anne seemed to be shaking and she had both arms raised aloft. Harry heard a faint whirring sound, like an invisible current of electricity was passing between the two persons inside the cell.
Harry stared at them, not out of interest, but to distract himself from the conversation between Hermione and Lakey.
He had seen a magical evaluation several times before, especially as a new Auror. He had even conducted a few of them himself. In the days after Voldemort’s fall, the Dark Lord’s supporters used a wide variety of excuses to justify their actions under his reign. The Ministry soon discovered that it could not try every individual who had worked for Voldemort. Many of them had been acting out of fear for their own lives.
The problem, from a legal standpoint, was the few prominent individuals who had carried out particularly destructive orders—the murder of wizards and Muggles, torture, and rape, among other atrocities. A large number of the perpetrators claimed to be under the Imperious Curse, the favorite excuse after Voldemort’s first fall from power.
However, technology had changed in the past 17 years since Voldemort’s first fall. A new technique from America had made its way to England—a form of mental examination that determined whether an individual was indeed under an Imperious Curse. As the Imperious Curse ends with the death of the caster, these accused individuals claimed they had been cursed and were only brought to their senses with the death of Voldemort. The new examination allowed Aurors to put their claims to the test, as the procedure allowed the examiner to go back through the individual’s magical past. The procedure had several advantages. For instance, in comparison to Veritaserum, a magical evaluation was vastly superior. Namely, people under the Imperious Curse were impervious to Veritaserum. The nature of the Unforgivable Curse allowed individuals to lie even under its influence. A magical evaluation, on the other hand, could account for such discrepancies and determine whether the individual was placed under any curse whatsoever. Needless to say, the procedure released a flood of evidence that led to convictions—half the cells in Azkaban were filled in such a manner.
However, the procedure came under criticism when it started being used on a more casual basis—on petty criminals, not war criminals.
The Prophet’s editorial page liked to refer to the procedure as “mind-rape,” before it was pointed out that this term too was insensitive. The press called it an insidious American import that was corrupting the humanitarian values of the British wizarding order. In response, the Wizengamot passed new regulations to control the procedure. Any practitioners of magical evaluations would have to be licensed by the Ministry of Magic. The expressed consent of the accused also had to be obtained. Since the procedure could be performed indefinitely on a subject (to the individual’s first use of magic as a child), temporal limits were imposed to restrict examinations only to a few hours before the crime was actually committed. This was partly imposed due to the fact that the longer the procedure the longer the recovery time for the examined individual. In a few early cases of the procedure, some individuals never recovered their full mental functionality. That obviously had ramifications for legal prosecution.
The temporal limits obscured the background of the crime, including such facts as whether the accused received support from other wizards and other details that could have led to more convictions. Now, the procedure was merely used to determine the presence of an Unforgivable Curse, not to piece together a case history or search for additional people to hunt down. This last restriction faced fierce resistance from the Aurors, including Harry. In those days, the threat of a post-Voldemort uprising among his remaining supporters was a palpable threat. To Harry, and many others in his department, the procedure was an unfortunate necessity.
That being said, Harry hated the procedure.
The few times he had conducted a magical evaluation were incredibly uncomfortable. Harry did not apply for a license when the new regulations came out. Conducting the evaluation itself was somewhat like watching a murky filmstrip in reverse. The magical details were exceptionally sharp, however. Harry could vicariously feel every spell the individual had cast—and since all of the individuals he had conducted the procedure on were dark wizards, the experience was understandably painful. When Harry took charge of the Auror Department eight years ago, he stipulated that every Auror who wanted to use of the procedure had to seek permission from Harry, the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and the Head of the Department of Inculcation of Wizarding Values. Understandably, the red tape led to a decrease in the procedure’s use.
And here Harry was watching the procedure again for the first time in years. He didn’t like to think of the reaction several Aurors would have when they found out Callahan had been subjected to a magical evaluation. And Harry had to admit, he felt uncomfortable watching an individual he had always been friendly with undergo such an invasive process…
Hermione was standing beside him. Harry turned to look at her. Her face, so flushed moments before, was uncommonly pale. Instinctively, he placed his arm around her shoulders.
“Are you all right?”
She leaned into him slightly. “I’m fine.”
Harry looked down the hallway. Lakey was standing underneath a candelabra; he was scribbling something onto a sheaf of parchment.
As Harry turned back to face her, Hermione sensed the question pushing against his lips. “He wants me to get my emotions under control. I have to admit he’s right—I was practically boiling earlier…this is harder than I thought,” she sighed.
Harry rubbed her arm. “You may have been a bit heated, but you performed your role flawlessly, Hermione. You don’t need to apologize for being passionate about this—you’ll be prosecuting him after all. But Lakey’s right that a cool head might make your job easier in the long-run.”
“You’re right,” Hermione replied. “I didn’t give in on one thing though.”
“John wanted to appoint the most inexperienced of the three counselors who offered to defend Callahan. I can’t agree to that…. We have to give him the best lawyer possible. So, I made John choose the most renowned counselor on the list. I can’t give myself an undue advantage. It wouldn’t be right.”
Harry nodded in agreement, but he felt his stomach begin to coil into a knot. He understood Hermione’s desire to have a fair fight, but in that moment, he really wanted Hermione to face an inexperienced lawyer—someone who could make this case a slam-dunk for Hermione. It wasn’t that he thought she couldn’t win—Hermione had one of the best track records in the Department. No, it was that he couldn’t shake the feeling that Hermione was in danger. He stroked her arm again on instinct.
“Anyway, I know the counselor we’ve chosen. Not personally, but by reputation. He’s a mean bloke, I can tell you. He retired five years ago and has a thing against Muggle-borns. It won’t be easy, but this case is worth it, don’t you think?”
Harry nodded. If possible, his stomach coiled even tighter.
Abruptly, Hermione changed the subject.
“So this Wilkes woman – how do you know her?” she asked.
Harry blinked. “Oh, the AD used to contract her services a few times a year, just for this procedure. I haven’t seen her in about a two years. That was the last time we had a case with an ex-Voldemort follower…”
“Oh,” Hermione said quietly. “I thought you knew her personally.”
Harry shifted uncomfortably. “I did know her in a sense, when I was much younger… You remember when Ginny and I broke up for a while? When I was 21 or so?”
“I remember,” Hermione said.
“Well,” Harry smiled awkwardly, “Anne and I dated for a while …or more accurately, we slept together for a while.”
“Ah,” Hermione said, her grin a little tight. “That explains the flirting earlier. I knew I wasn’t wrong about that.”
“Yeah, she’s sort of like that. Fortunately, we don’t see each other too often.”
“What did you mean when you told her, ‘we do things more methodically these days?'” Hermione asked, looking up at him.
“Well, just that we try to avoid the kind of procedure she specializes in. Plus, her services are pretty expensive. From what I’ve heard, she’s mostly contracted out to the U.S. and several less savory countries that don’t have the rules we have on magical evaluations.”
Harry and Hermione stood in silence for a while, watching the subject of their conversation. Anne’s hands were still suspended in the air. Her slim body was swaying back and forth slightly. Callahan remained unchanged.
“Harry…?” Hermione asked, wrapping her arm around his waist. “How do you feel about all this? I mean—I’m trying to look at things objectively. I’m trying to understand who this man is, why he could have possibly committed the crime we’re accusing him of.”
Harry sighed. “Hermione…in all honesty, it’s hard watching this. I’ve known this man since I became Chief of the Department. I’ve been out to drinks with him. He’s very charismatic and persuasive and that makes him effective. He was the one I sent to the Minister of Bulgaria to extradite an ex-Voldemort supporter. He never complains; he can do the work of two Aurors easily. His family seems very nice. I don’t know what else I can say…he was a good Auror until this.”
“He never had any character flaws that you knew of?” the lawyer in Hermione asked.
“He has his flaws, but we all do, don’t we?” Harry said, looking down. “I mean…yes, he could be a bit stubborn about his orders, but never anything close to insubordination. He hated busywork—he thought it was beneath his skill as a wizard. So, I tried to keep him occupied. As I think I told you, he would send in late reports when he didn’t think a case was worth his time. But that’s a common personality trait in Aurors—perhaps it bothered him more than others…”
Hermione looked back towards the cell, satisfied for now. Soon, they heard Lakey walking back in their direction. Harry and Hermione separated and stepped away from each other.
“I’ve got a minute left,” Lakey said, looking down at his wristwatch. “They should be coming out of it any moment. Let’s go.”
The three stepped back into the cell and Lakey removed the remaining four chairs with a flick of his wand. The whirring sound Harry had heard earlier seemed to be fading. It was now just a distant buzz. Callahan’s eyelashes were fluttering and Anne was standing solidly on the ground again. After a few more seconds, Anne lurched and almost collapsed to the ground. Harry caught her elbow to steady her.
Her eyes fluttered open and she clung to Harry. Lakey took a step towards Callahan, who had not moved. Lakey checked his pulse and gingerly lifted up one of his eyelids.
“Harry,” Anne breathed, “thank you.”
“Harry,” Lakey called a moment later. “Help me move him to his bed.”
Harry released Anne. He picked up Callahan’s feet and Lakey and Harry swung Callahan onto his cot. Callahan seemed to come-to slightly as they laid him down. His eyelids snapped open and he raised a hand lazily to his eyes, as though blocking out a harsh light.
“Ss—all right,” Callahan muttered.
“Yes, it’s all right,” Lakey said, leaning over Callahan. “How are you feeling?”
Callahan stared at Lakey without answering. Then his eyes moved past the Director and landed on Harry. “Potter,” he muttered. “Potter—”
Despite himself, Harry leaned in closer. Hermione came to his side.
“You let this happen…” Callahan said in a surprisingly decipherable mumble. “You’ve let Muggles and mudbloods in… you’ve let them.”
“Do they usually talk this much after?” Hermione asked, alarmed. She turned towards Anne.
“They do sometimes. It depends on the person,” Anne replied simply.
Hermione’s question caught Callahan’s attention. “You—I know you…yes, you’re that Muggle bitch. The one that’s famous. Married a pureblood and won’t even take his name? Ms. Granger. We’d be better off without you—people will see that soon. Better off.”
Hermione’s face was impassive as she met Callahan’s eyes. “We’ll see about that, Mr. Callahan. I suggest you prepare yourself for what’s coming your way.”
With that, she turned and calmly walked out of the cell, her shoes making an even clack, clack on the flagstones.