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Chapter 15

Midnight Rendezvous


“Molly, thank you for quieting down Mrs. Black,” Dumbledore said with a twinkle in his eye. He was there to head an Order meeting later that evening.

“Don’t thank me Albus, it was actually Anastasia Schellden who did it. Her portrait is now hanging in the drawing room upstairs,” said Mrs. Weasley.

“And how did Mrs. Schellden’s portrait happen to get here?” Dumbledore inquired with interest.

“Harry found her in his vault today and brought her picture back. I had a very nice conversation with her this afternoon; she seemed like she was a very nice lady in life,” Mrs. Weasley replied.

“Mmmh,” Albus murmured and seemed to ponder things for a moment. He had gone to see the vault that had been left to Harry by Lily’s mother. Since he was now Harry’s guardian, his signature had been required. He had requested to see the vault, and it had been him who ordered the items be transferred to Harry’s personal vault. The name on the certificate said Ellen Manston, not Ellen Schellden. He didn’t recall seeing a portrait among the possessions either. He was concerned that an unidentified portrait had been brought to Grimmauld Place.

“Did you ask how she came to be in the Potter’s vault?” Dumbledore asked while he straightened his long beard as he stood up.

“She claims to be Lily Evan’s grandmother,” Molly replied with a hint of disbelief in her tone, “she even has an elaborate story about it. I am not sure though… I think that maybe we should look into it. I always thought that Lily Evans was Muggle born.”

“Yes, I think I will have someone look into it,” Dumbledore agreed noting Mrs. Weasley’s suspicions. Lily’s mother’s maiden name had not been Schellden. Also, he knew of two Death Eaters who had been part of the Schellden family.

“I think that I shall pay a visit to Mrs. Schellden while the rest of the Order arrives,” he said and left the kitchen. He entered the drawing room and was surprised to see Phineas bickering with Mrs. Schellden. Dumbledore cleared his throat. Both of them whirled around to look at him.

“Ah, Phineas, what a surprise to see you here! I was wondering where you had disappeared to this morning,” Dumbledore greeted him. Phineas Nigellus Black didn’t answer and merely looked down to him.

“You must be Anastasia Schellden,” said Dumbledore.

“Yes, a pleasure to meet you Mr…?

“Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster at Hogwarts,” he replied with a small bow, since he could not take her hand.

“Professor Dumbledore? You became headmaster? It must have been after my passing, for I don’t remember this. We’ve met before. You taught transfiguration at Hogwarts. I was a student there during your first year. I was in your seventh year class... Anastasia DeVarak,” Anastasia said with a huge smile.

Dumbledore paused to remember. “Yes, I remember you now. How could I forget, you had a very good hand with Transfiguration spells. I am sure that seventh year Slytherin boy never forgot you either. I can’t recall his name at this moment,” Dumbledore commented with a twinkle in his eye, although his expression was still troubled.

Dumbledore turned to Phineas. “Will you please excuse us? I have some private matters I would like to discuss with Mrs Schellden,” said Professor Dumbledore.

“Certainly Headmaster,” Phineas bowed to Anastasia and left the portrait.


****

Harry entered his room. He took off his robe and hung it in the cupboard and forgot about the little book he had taken from the vault earlier that day. He had made up with Hermione about the earlier incident, but he had said he wanted to be alone for a while. He was about to lie on the bed when an owl entered his bedroom window. It dropped a letter with an official Ministry seal on it and Harry gulped. He had managed to completely forget about the hearing the next day! Ron burst into the room at that moment.

“Did you see it yet!?” asked Ron. He had his own letter in his hand, already opened.

“No, I’ve just stared at it. What time do we have to be there tomorrow?” asked Harry remembering the last time he was there the year before.

“We don’t have to. Open it,” said Ron enigmatically. Harry did as told and tore the envelope open.

Dear Mr. Potter,

In light of evidence and testimony presented on your behalf by your legal counsel, Michael A. Donovan, in the matter of case no. 03278A on charges against you, the defendant, for violating the Decree for the Restriction of Underage Wizardry on August 16 at 10:03 pm and again on August 17 at 11:30 am, you have been acquitted of all charges in the matter. Your presence for your hearing on Friday 30th August is no longer required.

Sincerely,

Amelia Bones
Department of Magical Law Enforcement
Ministry of Magic


Hermione now stood next to Ron, her letter in her hands as well.

“I have no idea who this Michael Donovan is, but I’m very thankful for this. I really didn’t want to have to face the Wizengamot again,” said Harry then he looked up to them with a frown on his face.

“Why would we face the Wizengamot?” asked Hermione.

“Well, last time I had to,” Harry shrugged.

“About Michael, I took a look into Michael Donovan and you’re not going to believe what I found,” said Hermione now sitting on Harry’s bed.

“Now what?” Harry exclaimed.

“He is an Unspeakable! And, about a year ago, he transferred to the Department of Mysteries. Before that, he was an Auror. I couldn’t gain access to any more information though,” replied Hermione.

“He is an Unspeakable?” asked Harry thoroughly puzzled. Who was this man? “What I’d like to know is who appointed him as my legal counsel. I mean, he signed that vault over to me and now this. Do you think Professor Dumbledore assigned him to me? He is my legal guardian after all…”

“Well, I don’t know, but I don’t think Dumbledore’s behind this. Just a few moments ago before the owls arrived he said that he would accompany us to the hearing tomorrow. So if he sent Donovan, you would think he would know about the hearing being cancelled,” Hermione answered looking apprehensive. She didn’t like the idea of Dumbledore not knowing what was going on.

“I reckon Hermione might be right. But why do things this way? And do you think Alex Knightley is behind Donovan then?” Ron asked.

“No, I don’t believe so. I looked into it too and Alex Knightley was reported dead in 1962 and apparently he had no relatives left alive. It could explain why no one claimed the vault in his name after your grandmother died,” Hermione explained and then shared the rest of her findings.

“How did you find all of this stuff out?” Ron asked with wonder.

“I borrowed Harry’s book. It seems that his edition can get into public files at the Ministry as well,” she grinned.

“It doesn’t explain why the vault was transferred to me now,” said Harry feeling frustrated. Nothing was making sense.

“Well, it could be that somehow your grandmother Ellen was traced to you and it is why you have it now. If what Mrs. Schellden says it is true, then everything in that vault belonged to your grandmother. Maybe since Donovan is in the Ministry he cleared up the whole thing.”

“I think I am going to try and contact him directly. I’ll send him an owl. If he is meddling with me than he better face me and tell me what is going on. I am quite sick of everyone doing things behind my back,” said Harry and moved to the desk.

“Do you think that is wise?” Hermione cautioned.

“I don’t see how it can hurt,” Harry shrugged and began composing the note.

Mr. Unspeakable,

I am grateful for your help with the case on underage magic usage. I would like to ask if we could meet in person. I have a few questions in regards to a matter involving your signature in some legal documents. Could we arrange a meeting?

Sincerely,

Harry


“Why that name?” Hermione asked about his use of the word instead of his name.

“In case the owl is intercepted. He will know what I mean,” Harry replied. He was tired of the Order meddling in his business. He went to Hedwig and sent the letter. He gave her specific orders to seek this man directly.

Mrs. Weasley called from the kitchen for everyone to go down for the evening meal. When the meal was over, the three of them, with the addition of Ginny, Fred and George, returned to the boys’ room. Harry noticed Hedwig was perched on his bed, a note in her beak. She gave Harry the note and nipped his fingers affectionately.

Leaky Cauldron, room 3, midnight

M.D.


“You think that means tonight?” Ron asked.

“Tonight what?” Ginny asked.

“I’m going to meet someone tonight,” Harry replied, wishing she hadn’t been there or that Ron had kept his mouth shut. Ron’s ears turned red.

“I don’t think you’re going anywhere without us,” Fred and George chimed in together, “someone from the Order should accompany you,” they grinned.

“I’m coming too,” said Ginny with authority.

Rather than begin arguing about it, Harry simply nodded. She had gone with him to the Department of Mysteries last year, and he knew he would not be able to change her mind.

“We’ll take my Invisibility Cloak and you can hide under it,” said Harry and added when she was about to protest, “no ‘buts’ about it.”

“Mmph,” Ginny crossed her arms, but nodded.

Harry turned to Fred and George and made them swear not to tell the others. Fred and George only agreed to keep things quiet if everything went ok. The minute things got out of hand, they would get reinforcements. Harry agreed.

“We’ll meet by the fireplace at 11:45pm. Be as quiet as possible; I don’t want the Order to know, well… besides you two,” said Harry and they went about their activities as usual and went to bed around 11. When Harry, Hermione, Ron, Fred, George and Ginny made their way to the fireplace, the whole household had already gone to bed.

“We’ll apparate and wait for you there,” said Fred and both him and George disappeared with a crack. One by one, the youngsters used the Floo and appeared inside the inn. They had put on some black cloaks to conceal their identities. Fred and George were waiting for them and they made their way up the stairs and then into room #3. The door was open, but when they entered, the room was empty.

Everyone had their wands ready.

“Don…” Harry began to call his name.

“Don’t say the name,” a rich, deep voice called from a dark corner of the room. Out of the shadows a figure stepped into the dim light cast by the small lamp on a table. Harry thought he recognized the voice.

“You wished to see me?” the man asked and in his hand he had the letter Harry had sent with Hedwig. The youngsters noted he bore the standard black cloak fashioned in the style of the Unspeakables. His hood was over his head, and only left the tip of his nose and his lips visible as he spoke.

“How do I know you are whom I seek?” Harry asked pointing his wand at the stranger.

“I am to whom you sent the note. You must trust Hedwig,” the man replied and placed his own wand on the table. He smiled.

“Miss Weasley, there is no need for you to hide. You are not invisible to me,” said Donovan. He stretched his hand out and pulled the cloak from Ginny.

“How did you know?” Harry asked fearful now that maybe this man was something more than any of them could handle.

“Trick of the trade,” Donovan replied nonchalantly handing the cloak back to Harry. He sat down on a chair.

“Who do you work for?” Harry asked the next question, he still kept his wand trained on him.

“I am an Unspeakable for the Ministry. It is one of my jobs. But I am hired by a private party on the side, who must remain confidential,” said Donovan.

“Is it You-Know-Who?” blurted Ron.

Donovan laughed. He pulled up the sleeve of his left arm to reveal he didn’t have a mark. “No, I do not serve him, and never will,” he replied with a bit of venom in his voice. “Is there a purpose to this meeting? I can’t stay for long,” Donovan said and his head turned to face Harry.

Harry knew he could not speak about the vault in front of Fred, George and Ginny, even if he wanted to. He had signed the papers magically binding him to keep the vault secret from anyone that didn’t already know about it.

“Can you guys wait outside?” said Harry as he turned to them and turned enough so Donovan could not see his face. Harry looked at Ron’s wristwatch and made signal with his eyebrows. If Ron understood the gesture, he didn’t give it away, but he turned to the others.

“We’ll be right outside,” Ron said and dragged the others out of the room.

“Are you sure Harry?” Fred asked with worry as he reached the door.

“I’ll be fine,” Harry assured them. When the door closed, he turned to Donovan and pulled a chair and sat across from him on the table. Under the table, he slowly reached for his wristwatch and when he felt it get warm, meaning someone was trying to link with him, he pushed the button once.

Donovan tilted his head. “You are brave to face me alone without knowing much about me. I could be lying you know, I could take you straight to him,” he said lowering the tone of his voice as he leaned towards Harry, the menacing hooded face staring at Harry. The man’s lips curled into a sneer.

“You wouldn’t be the first to drag me to him,” Harry replied bravely and kept the fear he felt in check, his wand still trained on Donovan under the table. Maybe he was being foolish.

Donovan’s sneer changed into a smile, and he nodded, as if to himself. “You must understand that because of my profession I am not allowed to speak at liberty of what I do. But you have my word Harry. You will never come to harm from me. Now, you have questions,” Donovan said and leaned back against his chair. Harry remembered Dobson had said the same thing to him.

“Yes, I want to know about vault 1406P. How did you transfer that vault into my name and how did you find out my mother was the daughter of Ellen Schellden?” Harry asked.

“When a vault has been unclaimed after the owner’s death for a period of 15 years the Ministry is notified, and a new investigation is opened. Because of the beneficiary’s identity, the Department of Mysteries was involved and I was assigned to the case. I found all the information I needed to have the vault transferred into your name, since you are a relative of the original owner. I was given instructions to make certain changes to the security of this vault, and the rest you know,” replied Donovan.

“So is Dobson just an alias?” Harry asked him point blank. He wanted to know if Dobson and Donovan were one and the same.

Donovan eyed him shrewdly, but Harry couldn’t see his eyes; he could only feel his intense gaze. They were silent for a moment. “Yes. It is my Muggle name,” he finally replied.

“Why did you have to kidnap me? If this is standard Ministry procedure for the vault exchange, then why not just ask to speak with me?” Harry questioned unable to hide his irritation, and his suspicion.

“The security level change of your vault is not related to Ministry business. As far as the Ministry is concerned, I arranged the transfer of the vault to your name. There were a few items that I had moved to a temporary vault. It is this vault that Professor Dumbledore signed to be closed, since he is your legal guardian. He had the contents of the decoy vault transferred to your own. And today you closed the vault. The original vault no longer exists, and no one knows about it except you…”

“Why did you have Professor Dumbledore look into a false vault…? I…”

“Professor Dumbledore has been informed that the vault that your grandmother, Ellen Manston, left to you was opened by her when her daughter attended Hogwarts. She had left the vault to Rick Evans, but because he had died, and she had never assigned the vault to anyone else, the vault had been left unclaimed. Professor Dumbledore does not know about the original vault 1406P, or any information pertaining to that vault, and it will remain that way. You are unable to share this with him… and I didn’t kidnap you Harry. When I contacted you at that Muggle party I was not working as an Unspeakable then. I told you I can not let my real identity be known, and the appearance of Dementors complicated things. And would you have given me your time, had I asked? You are under 24 hour surveillance. I had my orders, and I apologize for the way things worked out. This is all the information I can give you for now. I must be going,” Donovan said and stood up. Before Harry could protest, Donovan backed into the brick wall and passed through and disappeared.

“Wait!” Harry shouted and ran to the wall, but it had solidified once again.

The four others that had been waiting outside the door, burst into the room.

“Are you all right?” George asked.

“Yes, but he left before I could ask more questions,” Harry replied.

“What did he say?” Hermione asked.

“Let’s get back to headquarters before anyone finds us missing. We can talk there,” said Harry. He avoided speaking about the vault with the others who didn’t know, but the look on Ron and Hermione’s faces told him that they had heard everything. It was a good thing that only those wearing a wristwatch like Harry’s could hear the communication.

They were glad when they returned to Grimmauld Place to find that no one had found them gone. They all went to Harry’s room. Just as Harry was about to explain what Donovan had said, Tonks entered the room.

“You are here,” she said and appeared to be relieved.

“What? What’s going on?” Ron asked.

“We received a report that they had seen Harry in the Leaky Cauldron. I came to check on you as soon as I heard,” Tonks said and eyed the six teenagers suspiciously, and looked to Fred and George who simply grinned at her.

“Shouldn’t you be in bed?” she asked.

“I couldn’t sleep.” Hermione interjected, “so I came to see if Harry and Ron were awake and I woke Ginny in the process.”

They all were amazed at Hermione’s capability of lying on the spot like that.

“You better get to bed. It’s one in the morning and tomorrow Mrs. Weasley wants us to clean the attic. It seems some doxies have moved in again,” Tonks said and yawned.

The group groaned collectively at the mention of the task. The girls returned to their room, and the boys went to bed. They would have to talk about what Donovan had said on another occasion.

Harry lay in bed, a thousand questions pursuing each other through his mind. Why can’t Dumbledore know about the vault? Why tell him the vault was left to no one by Ellen Manston? Did Donovan know that Harry had brought a portrait from Mrs. Schellden in here, and that she had said that Ellen Manston was in fact Ellen Schellden? Instead of getting answers, Harry had been given more mysteries and unanswered questions. It wasn’t until later that he finally was able to go to sleep.

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