Harry Potter - Series Fan Fiction ❯ Harry Potter and the Werewolf Prophecy ❯ EXILE ( Chapter 22 )
Ron leaned back on his chair, folding a piece of parchment into a paper plane. “Neville!” he called across the office. “Any more tea left?”
Neville Longbottom, leaning over a pile of papers, shook his head. “Sorry, Ron. I’m trying to get this paperwork finished. There’s a separate form for every Death Eater we arrested, and they all have to match up. Mr Shacklebolt wants every detail to be checked. This is going to be the biggest trial in wizarding history.”
Ron sighed. Neville’s devotion to duty reminded him of his brother Percy. He looked at the pile of papers on his own desk. “Y’know, Neville, when I joined the Auror’s office, I didn’t think I’d spend all day filling out paperwork. I was only here a week when we were out catching evil wizards by the dozen, but since then…”
Neville gave a little giggle. “To tell you the truth, Ron, I’d much sooner stay here and do paperwork. I was a bit… you know… after going to the Malfoys.”
“Yeah, I know. Still.” Ron riffled through the foot-high stack of parchment on his desk. “I thought that leaving Hogwarts meant no more homework.”
“Weasley!” The voice came so suddenly that Ron nearly fell backwards off his chair.
“Blimey! Yes, Kingsley. Er, boss. Sir.”
Kingsley Shacklebolt sighed as he looked at Ron’s desk. “That should really have been finished days ago, Weasley. Never mind.”
He looked across to Neville. “Longbottom. Would you mind finishing up Weasley’s paperwork for him?”
“Not at all, sir,” said Neville, blushing.
Ron winked and gave a thumbs-up to Neville behind Shacklebolt’s back.
“Don’t be happy about it, Weasley. I’ve a much nastier job for you. Ideally, we’d have kept you and Longbottom in training, but we’ve so few good people now.”
Outside the office two Aurors were waiting for them, both women in their thirties. Shacklebolt led them down a corridor to a narrow spiral staircase descending to a part of the Aurors’ building that Ron had never seen before.
“It’s not spiders, is it?” asked Ron suddenly. “I mean… it’s not like I’m that scared of them, but I’d rather…”
“It isn’t spiders,” said Shacklebolt shortly. “It’s nothing good though.”
He unlocked the door to a shabby small room. There were empty shelves along one wall, and on a rickety plywood table, a battered metal bucket.
“Portkey? Where are we going?” asked Ron.
“Need to know, Weasley. You don’t,” said Shacklebolt, pulling a roll of parchment from his robes. The four of them gripped the bucket and vanished.
They found themselves in a ruined, roofless church. Ron looked up and saw tall mountains on all sides, silhouetted against a bright, clear sky. He felt a sudden surge of dread and fear. He looked through the window and gasped in horror. The hillside below the church was covered with Dementors. There were too many to count, but there could not have been less than a thousand. He reached for his wand.
“Don’t do that!” snapped Shacklebolt. “They are holding back. If they attempted to drain us – well, with that many of them we’d be dead in seconds. If we were lucky. So for God’s sake don’t provoke them.”
A single Dementor appeared in the porch-way of the church. Shacklebolt stalked towards it, gesturing to the other Aurors to follow.
“We have your safe conduct?” said Shacklebolt, his voice ringing out.
The hooded figure nodded.
“Then let me tell you what is going to happen. You will cease to carry out your attacks on all human beings, wizard and Muggle alike. You will vacate all the areas where you now congregate, with the exception of places established for your use by duly constituted authority.”
“We have… to feed.” Ron had never heard a Dementor speak before. The sound was worse than he could have imagined. It was a hoarse whisper, but it sounded like a damned, unremorseful, evil soul screaming in agony.
“You do not,” Shacklebolt replied firmly. “You hunger. That is your eternal state. You hunger as much when you have fed as when you have not. You are better kept from temptation.”
“We will not accept thisss…” The Dementor seemed to be trying to move forward into the church, but was unable to do so.
“There was a war, a war among wizards. You could have kept out of it. You chose a side, and lost. If you do not accept…”
“We will nottt…”
“Then the war will continue. The cost will be high, but you will be defeated, and destroyed.” Shacklebolt’s voice quavered for the first time. He waved Ron forward and placed a hand on his shoulder.
The figure said nothing for several seconds, but only stood there, swaying.
“Azkaban was our home…”
“Azkaban was forfeit when you freed the Death Eaters,” said Shacklebolt. His voice sounding shakier.
Ron found the voices fading. He found himself seeing a succession of images, each more terrifying than the next. Himself, lying unconscious under a shattered giant chess piece. His sister Ginny, possessed by a Horcrux of Voldemort, directing a basilisk to kill – then killed herself as it turned on her. His father, dying from a wound inflicted by the giant snake, Nagini. His brother Bill’s face torn open. George crying over the body of his twin Fred. Percy angrily disowning his family. His mother lying dead, a laughing Bellatrix Lestrange standing over her. A weeping Hagrid carrying the body of Harry Potter. Hermione, tortured, while Ron was helpless, tied up in the cellar. Lavender Brown, torn to pieces by Fenrir Greyback.
Shacklebolt’s fingers dug deep into Ron’s shoulder. He tried to fix on the pain, but it seemed far off. He felt at his neck, trying to grasp for Slytherin’s locket, whispering horrors to him in the middle of the night. Then the final image came – a green flash, and Hermione lying dead in the Room of Requirement. He could hear screaming. “Why is Ron screaming?” he thought. “He’s the only one left alive.”
Suddenly he found himself being wrenched around and dragged back to the Portkey.
“We’re done,” whispered Shacklebolt in his ear. “Let’s get out of here.”
A moment later they were back in the tiny room in the Aurors’ building.
“Chocolate, chocolate,” said Shacklebolt, rummaging in his pockets. “Well done, the three of you. I couldn’t have done that alone.”
Ron looked at the others. Their faces were pale, and one of the women had been crying. “Not sure I wouldn’t have preferred spiders, sir,” he said. “Still beats paperwork though.”
They laughed, a little too hard.
“Is it finished, sir?” asked the taller of the women. “Do… do we need to go back?”
“It’s done,” said Shacklebolt. “They aren’t brave or resourceful creatures. They always give way. They’ll lurk where people don’t go. Ruins, deserts – anywhere abandoned. I gave them the list.”
“All of ‘em?” asked the other woman, who had been crying.
Shacklebolt shrugged. “There’ll be a handful who try it on. We’ll have to show them the consequences.”
He slapped Ron on the shoulder, and Ron realised how sore it was from Shacklebolt’s iron grip. “Go home, Weasley. Take tomorrow off. Here…”
He handed Ron several large slabs of chocolate, then strode out, accompanied by the taller woman.
“There were things that really happened… and things that didn’t…” said Ron slowly, to the other woman.
“Yeah, that happens. They take your worst memories and your fears and jumble them up. Right, I’m going home for a hot bath and an early night.” She shook hands with Ron. “All in a day’s work, eh?”
As she walked out, Ron leaned heavily against the table. “A day’s work? Is this what I want to be doing?” He shook his head wearily.