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4. The Snare: Tidings of Magpies

 

The moment Harry stepped into the room an absolute, assessing, silence hung in the air.

 

Leaning against the bar were about two dozen young wizards and witches. They all wore Harpies scarves and many wore Harpies robes. They were drinking from bottles and watching the three young women standing in the centre of the room.

 

To Harry’s eyes, the three witches wore too much makeup and showed too much flesh. All had their wands in their hands. Ginny, the smallest by a fraction, stood between black haired Olivia Aikenhead, who was no more than an inch taller, and Lynette Baker, the 25-year-old reserve Beater with whom the two new signings shared a flat. Lynette towered over the others, she was Harry’s height and powerfully built.

 

Livy, Linny and Ginny, the “Harpies Hellions,” as the press had begun calling them, had been “having a good time”—again. Livy and Linny each held a tankard of mead, while Ginny clutched a half-bottle of Firewhisky. There were several broken tables and chairs surrounding the trio. The Magpies supporters still inside the bar were cowering at tables, well away from the Harpies players and fans. Some of the locals were on the floor, fighting with the Bat-Bogey hex; others had been subjected to a Dancing jinx.

 

‘We won,’ Ginny giggled.

 

Harry looked at her in horror. She could hardly stand. Before he could speak, there was a movement from one side of the room. A girl of no more than ten, a young Magpies supporter, was heading towards the door.

 

‘Stay where you are, scum,’ Lynette Baker ordered, bellowing, <i>‘Tarantallegra!’</i> at the fleeing girl.

 

In one fluid move, Harry deflected the jinx, which hit the wall behind the bar and broke a mirror. He then hit Linny with a Full Body Bind curse. She fell to the floor, her arms pinned to her side. He’d reacted automatically, and the sudden movement tore open the wound on his hheavily bandaged chest. Wincing from the pain, Harry wished that he’d had the opportunity to get a few hours rest.

 

‘Bastard,’ Ginny shouted at him. It was a word he’d never heard her use before, certainly not at him. She was drunk, the Harpies were a bad influence.

 

‘Orphan, actually,’ he corrected her angrily, casting a shield spell around the thrio. Ginny began to swear loudly. Several of the Harpies supporters standing at the bar moved to raise their wands.

 

‘Don’t!’ he ordered, swinging his wand round to cover them. Most obeyed; two didn’t.

 

Harry’s silent stunning spells knocked both of the young wizards over the bar before either had managed to cast a spell. Livy and Ginny continued to rant at Harry.

 

‘Oh, shut up!’ he shouted, casting a variant of the Muffliato spell which he’d been practising. It muffled the voices of the drunken Harpies but allowed them to hear what was being said. He then addressed the remaining Harpies supporters.

 

‘Nobody else gets hexed,’ he announced. The “or else” remained unspoken but was made apparent by the fury in his eyes. ‘I’m summonsing you all for breach of the peace,’ he continued. There were a few mutinous murmurs from the Harpies fans, but none of them raised a wand. Keeping a watchful eye on them, he added, ‘If anyone does not want to accept a summons, let me know, and I’ll arrest you instead.’ There was silence. Harry walked round the bar removing the hexes and jinxes from the Magpies fans, reassuring them and asking for calm and quiet.

 

Moving along the bar, he looked for somewhere clear of spilt mead, Butterbeer and Firewhisky. Selecting the driest spot, he pulled a quill, parchment and a large stack of cards from inside his coat. After placing the parchment on the bar, he tapped the quill with his wand. It hovered above the page, ready to begin writing. He motioned the first Harpies fan forward.

 

‘Name?’ he asked.

 

‘John Smith,’ the young wizard said cockily, leering at Harry. ‘Nice tits, your girlfriend, eh?’

 

Harry clenched his jaw, but said nothing. He looked at the quill. It hadn’t moved.

 

‘Quill not working properly?’ the wizard asked, grinning lecherously. ‘Izzat why your girl’s out partyin’?’

 

‘The quill’s working fine,’ Harry replied, somehow managing to repress an overwhelming urge to hex the young man, or at least thump him. ‘Go to the back of the queue, please. We’ll try again later.’

 

He motioned a young witch forwards.

 

‘Jane Smith,’ she said brightly. Again, the quill didn’t move.

 

‘Back of the queue, and try to remember your real name,’ Harry sighed.

 

The same happened to the next two wizards.

 

‘G-grenville P-paylor, sir,’ the wizard fifth in line said. Harry’s quill scratched his name on the parchment.

 

‘Sensible man, Grenville,’ Harry said. ‘Breach of the peace. You’re summoned to appear before the Justiciar at the Edinburgh Assize at two o’clock on Saturday the first of April.’

 

Grenville’s face fell; there was an outcry from the Harpies supporters, cheers from the Magpies fans, and a flash from behind him. Somebody, Olivia Aikenhead, he assumed, had tried to dismiss his shield spell and failed. This didn’t surprise Harry. Only Ron, Hermione and Neville had ever succeeded and it had taken almost half an hour. Neville, to Hermione’s horror, had been the quickest.

 

Harry had expected the protests from the Harpies fans. The date and time of the summons would make Grenville miss the final game of the season. He looked at the young wizard.

 

‘Do you really want me to change the date?’ he asked quietly. The young wizard saw green fire in Harry’s eyes and shook his head, meekly accepting the summons card.

 

‘Good, now go home,’ ordered Harry. Grenville dejectedly left the bar.

 

The next witch was very drunk. She too gave her correct name. When Harry gave her a summons for the same date, she gazed into his eyes in what she obviously thought was an attractive and seductive manner. The smell of stale Butterbeer on her breath more than negated the little charm she had.

 

‘Could you please change the date, just for me?’ she asked.

 

Harry looked at her coldly. ‘Of course,’ he said. ‘Same time the following Saturday, the eighth.’ The Harpies fans were outraged. That was the date of the European Cup semi-final: Holyhead Harpies versus Quiberon Quafflepunchers. The young witch opened her mouth to protest but instead belched loudly. Harry’s expression of distaste was enough to persuade her to remain silent.

 

He handed her a summons card and she left.

 

The rest gave their names quietly and accepted their summons.

 

Eventually “John Smith” approached Harry for the second time.

 

‘Got anything smart to say this time?’ Harry asked. The young wizard shook his head.

 

‘Real name?’ Harry asked. This time, the quill wrote down the name the wizard gave. The young man didn’t protest when Harry issued two separate summonses, one for each of the Saturdays, adding the offence of failure to provide correct details to a Law Officer to his original charge.

 

“Jane Smith” decided to argue.

 

‘You could have summoned him for both offences on the one day,’ she said angrily.

 

‘And you could have provided me with the correct details when asked the first time,’ Harry replied evenly as he issued her with two separate summonses. His expression was enough to knock some sense into her. The protest forming on her lips didn’t make it out into the world.

 

After dealing with the last two conscious fans, Harry stepped behind the bar, removed the wands from the two wizards he’d Stunned and revived them one at a time.

 

‘I’m arresting you for being drunk and disorderly, for breach of the peace, and for attempted assault of a Law Officer.’ Harry said curtly to the first wizard. ‘Name?’ The man mumbled his name and it was recorded by Harry’s quill. Satisfied that the name was correct, Harry revived the man’s companion and arrested him too.

 

‘I usually carry three sets of Portcuffs, but I’ve used them all,’ he told the two young wizards. ‘There are three Law Officers outside. Tell them that I’ve arrested you and ask them to send you to their cells.’

 

The wizards looked at him in amazement. ‘Do it,’ he ordered. ‘I’ve got your names. If you try to run I’ll come after you, and you’ll end up in the Auror Office cells instead.’

 

The two young men appeared to be weighing their options.

 

‘I had three sets of cuffs,’ Harry told them quietly. ‘Like I said, I’ve used them all. If I need to come after you, you’ll go to the Auror cells and believe me, after what I arrested earlier tonight, you will not want to be in the Auror cells next to them.’ The two young men exchanged a horrified glance and walked quietly from the bar.

 

Harry turned to the bar full of Magpies fans, many of whom were cheering. He motioned for quiet.

 

‘I intend to report these three,’ he nodded to the Harpies players still held inside his shield, ‘to the British and Irish Quidditch League for bringing the game into disrepute.’

 

‘They’ve been reported afore, d’ye ken?’ an elderly wizard in a black and white tam o’shanter shouted. ‘It diz nae guid. The league on’y giz ‘em a piddlin’ wee fine.’

 

‘I agree,’ Harry said. ‘That’s why I’m going to suggest to the league that they impose a match ban. I’m also going to arrest them and issue them with the same summons for breach of the peace I’ve given their fans.’

 

As he expected, there were several more flashes from within the shield. The summons would prevent the three witches from playing in the last league match of the season, next Saturday. If a ban was imposed it could also remove them from the Harpies squad for the European Cup semi-final.

 

Without Olivia and Ginny, the Harpies would probably lose to Quiberon Quafflepunchers fan Harry reminded Auror Harry. He ignored his fan side, and the flashes of spellfire within his shield.

 

‘Bans are a matter for the League, so I can’t promise anything, but I will attend the League hearing and do my best for you,’ he told them. ’Now, does anyone wish to press assault charges on these three?’

 

There was a lot of muttering and more flashes of light from behind Harry. Eventually, the elderly wizard spoke.

 

‘If ye dae what ye say,’ he replied, ‘that’s guid eno’ fer me.’

 

‘Thanks,’ Harry said. ‘I expect that the Harpies’ solicitor will be here soon, and he’s likely to try to persuade you to withdraw any complaints.’

 

‘Aye,’ the elderly wizard grunted, ‘an’ guid luck te him.’

 

Harry examined the three drunken Harpies. Someone, Ginny probably, had released Lynette Baker from the Full Body Bind. There was broken glass just inside the shield, between him and Ginny. He presumed that she had thrown her Firewhisky bottle at him, that it had hit the shield and smashed. Looking at the remains of the bottle, he saw very little liquid. He wondered if Ginny had drunk it all.

 

As he began his observations he caught Ginny in the act of hitching her already short skirt up to reveal even more leg. They were very nice legs too. She’d already undone four buttons on her shirt, Harry noticed; it was hard not to.

 

He’d been certain that there would be some sort of assault when he dropped the shield. He had hoped that it wouldn’t be the “chastened but sexy girlfriend” routine. Usually it was fun, but usually, it was private. He was tired, and wounded, and worried. Ginny was just one more in a long series of worries.

 

He removed the Muffliatio spell. Ginny started immediately.

 

‘Harry, darling,’ she slurred, ‘you’re a Harpiesh fan, a match ban ish…’

 

‘Don’t,’ he said curtly. ‘Wands away, all of you.’ Livy and Linny obeyed. Ginny did not. Harry sighed but dropped his shield anyway.

 

‘Harry,’ Ginny began again. She was trying to sway sexily towards him. The swaying part was certainly working; he had never seen her this drunk. He interrupted her.

 

‘I’m arresting all three of you for being drunk and disorderly and for breach of the peace.’ He tried to look Ginny in the eyes, but she was having difficulty focussing on him. ‘And, Ginny, I’m arresting you on the additional charge of hexing a Law Officer.’

 

Ginny took another step towards Harry.

 

‘One more step and I’ll ask the League for a two match ban.’

 

‘My neksht game’sh for the Cup,’ she hiccoughed, looking at Harry in surprise.

 

‘I know, Ginny! Just stop! You’re too drunk to make any sense. And, please, cover yourself up.’

 

‘Harry,’ Ginny implored pathetically. ‘Let’sh go home. I’m sure we can work shomething out …’ She tried to wink but only succeeded in closing both eyes.

 

‘Ginny, do you want me to ask for a three match ban?’

 

Snarling, she raised her wand, and tried to hex him. Drink had dramatically slowed her reflexes, so he was easily able to deflect her Bat Bogey Hex, which ricocheted off the pub walls, breaking a couple of photographs and causing the Magpies fans to duck. Ginny looked wild, furious and almost out of control. She kept her wand pointed at Harry, waiting for his counter-attack. Instead, he put his wand back inside his coat.

 

‘We’ve been together for three years, and until today you’ve never tried to hex me,’ he told her conversationally. ‘You’ve tried twice in the last few minutes.’

 

‘And now you’ve put your wand away,’ Ginny snapped. ‘Sho what happensh when I hekshyoo?’

 

‘I leave,’ Harry replied quietly.

 

Ginny looked puzzled. ‘What?’ she asked. His ambiguous threat was filtering into her alcohol-addled brain.

 

‘I leave,’ Harry repeated. ‘I walk out. Then you deal with the Magical Law Enforcement Squad.’

 

‘Harry,’ Ginny began again. Her attempt at an innocent smile lasted only a couple of seconds, she was too drunk to keep it in place. ‘Why all the fush? After all, we haven’t really hurt anyone.’

 

‘You’ve hexed at least three young kids outside.’

 

‘Well,’ she said, waving an arm dismissively and staggering as she attempted to retain her balance, ‘sho what? It doeshn’t matter, they’re only—’

 

‘“They’re only?”’ Harry shouted, finally losing his patience and interrupting his girlfriend. ‘They’re only waht, Ginny? Only Magpies fans?’ Harry knew what she’d been about to say. ‘Only Mudbloods? Only Muggles? Only blood-traitors? Is that why it doesn’t matter?’

 

He lowered his voice. He’d never shouted at Ginny before, and he didn’t like doing it.

 

‘They’re people, Ginny, Quidditch fans, like me and like you! So! Are you going to hex me? Or are you going to put that wand down?’

 

Ginny’s bottom lip was trembling. He was finally beginning to get through to her.

 

‘Shorry, Harry,’ she sniffed.

 

‘It’s not me you need to apologise to, it’s the Magpies supporters. Especially the children you hexed, and Sheriff Campbell.’ Ginny looked confused by the name.

 

‘The Law Officer you hit with a Bat-Bogey hex when he opened the door, just before I arrived. He’s outside. He’s easy to recognise. He’s the one who lost three fingers on his left hand at the Battle of Hogwarts. He lost his wife there too.’

 

At this revelation, Ginny burst into tears, pushed her wand into her boot, and took a step towards Harry, her arms outstretched. With a huge effort of will, which brought tears to his own eyes, he resisted her advance and stepped back. They’d argued many times, but he’d never reduced her to tears before.

 

Not true! He had once, when she was fifteen. He’d hoped never to do it again. But now he had. She was drunk, she didn’t know what she was doing, and he’d made her cry.

 

‘We’ll talk later, when you’re sober,’ he told her sadly. ‘Outside, all three of you, now.’

 

Harry walked over to open the pub door. As he did so, Lynette Baker put her arm around Ginny.

 

‘I’ve always said that you’d be better off without him,’ she said loudly. ‘I told you. He’s a tight-arse with no sense of humour.’

 

Ginny swung her fist wildly, but the burly Beater released her and stepped back out of range. Ginny stumbled as her swing went wide, and Lynette struck back with a powerful straight arm punch. Ginny’s head snapped back from the blow. She staggered backwards into a table and crashed to the floor. Blood poured from her nose, dripping onto her chest and staining her Harpies shirt. Ginny struggled to reach for her wand, but she was nowhere near it when Linny drew hers.

 

‘<i>Petrificus Totalus.</i>’ Harry, who’d drawn his wand the instant the fight started, was faster by far. Lynette toppled over, bouncing off a bench as she fell. Harry stepped over the Beater and made his way to Ginny. He crouched down and gently helped her back to her feet. As she stood, she collapsed into his arms and buried her head in his chest, smearing blood over his white shirt.

 

‘Olivia, outside. Now,’ Harry ordered as he lifted Ginny into his arms. Olivia opened her mouth to argue.

 

‘Now!’

 

The Australian Seeker looked fearfully at Harry before leaving the pub.

 

Harry gently placed Ginny onto a table and stopped the nosebleed. He checked her face; her nose wasn’t broken, though she’d have a black eye in the morning. Stopping the bleeding was easy; basic first year Auror training. Unfortunately, he was still useless at even simple cleaning spells. He’d never needed to learn how to use them because between them, Kreacher, Molly and Ginny could clean anything. He examined his bloodstained girlfriend and his bloodstained white shirt. That was his last clean uniform shirt. When he’d left the tent Lavender had been wearing the other one, and very little else.

 

Sighing, Harry tried to help Ginny to her feet. She collapsed into his arms. It appeared that she’d lost the use of her legs. Harry caught his girlfriend, lifted her back up into his arms and walked to the door. He looked back at the bar full of Magpies fans, some of whom were looking vengefully at the helpless Linny lying supine on the floor.

 

‘Don’t anyone touch her or hex her,’ he warned the fans. ‘I will arrest you, too.’ He stepped outside.

 

There was a crowd outside the pub, and there were a number of flashes when Harry stepped through the door with Ginny in his arms. Harry groaned; he’d be in the headlines again tomorrow.

 

‘The other one’s in a Full Body Bind inside,’ Harry called as Officers Huddleston and Moon hurried towards him. ‘Be careful. She’s violent.’

 

Harry strode over to one of the outside tables and carefully lowered Ginny onto it. She struggled to sit up, but after a moment she gave up, lay back, closed her eyes and gripped the edges of the table tightly.

 

‘Harry,’ she gasped. ‘Stop rocking the table. It’s making me dizzy.’

 

‘There’s nothing I can do about that, Ginevra,’ he said experimentally. She didn’t bridle, or even acknowledge his use of her full name; she was completely smashed.

 

Bailiffs Huddleston and Moon levitated a still bound Lynette Baker from the bar.

 

‘Could you bring the prisoners over here please,’ Harry called to the two officers. ‘Do you have holding cells in Edinburgh, Sheriff Campbell?’

 

‘Aye, sir.’

 

‘Please, call me Harry,’ said Harry. ‘So that’s where your Portcuffs will take them?’

 

‘Aye, sir—Harry—that’s where the other twa lads have gone.’

 

‘Good. I’d be grateful if I could use your cuffs.’ Harry turned to the three players. ‘Olivia Aikenhead, Lynette Baker, and Ginevra Molly Weasley, I am arresting you for breach of the peace and for being drunk and disorderly.’

 

As he addressed the Harpies, Harry watched Campbell from the corner of his eye. The Sheriff strolled across to his colleagues and began a hasty discussion with them. They were pulling different sets of handcuffs from their robes. Harry grinned in realisation.

 

One of the first innovations he and Ron had made while they were trainee Aurors was to introduce Portkey handcuffs, a variation on a joke iten Fred and George had been working on. The portcuffs, as they soon became known, transported prisoners to specific holding cells when locked and activated.

 

Kingsley Shacklebolt himself had congratulated George on this useful new piece of equipment. The acceptance and introduction of the handcuffs by the Ministry had improved the fortunes of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. Ron’s attempts to persuade his brother to diversify the business had proved successful and they then went on to create the hex-resistant uniforms for the Auror Office.

 

Several months after the portcuffs were first introduced, Harry had spent two months of his Auror training with the Magical Law Enforcement Squad. A memorable three weeks of that time had been with a veteran bailiff named Albert Thynne. One of the most common—and most hated—duties of the Magical Law Enforcement bailiffs, Harry discovered, was dealing with drunks. Portkey travel was often disorientating, but he had been puzzled by the number of drunks who arrived in a cell covered in their own vomit.

 

Thynne had said nothing until the day before Harry finished his duty, when he told him of a “useful” jinx which had passed quickly through the ranks of Law Officers within days of the Portcuffs being introduced. Known as ‘the pukekey,’ the jinx slightly altered the Portcuffs, making the journey much more disorientating and giving any drunk a vomit-inducing ride.

 

‘Better it goes all over them than all over me, son,’ Thynne had confided.

 

‘Auror Potter,’ Hamish Campbell began. ‘If you cuff them, then you’re the arresting officer, and you’ll need to remain on duty until we finish processing them.’

 

‘Please, Hamish, call me Harry.’ He smiled grimly. ‘I know what I’m doing; I’ve done a course on Magical Law. I expect I’ll be in your offices for most of the night.’

 

‘I, er,’ Campbell began.

 

‘Which ones aren’t pukekeyed?’ Harry asked.

 

Startled, Campbell handed over a single set of cuffs.

 

‘Ah,’ Harry said. ‘Well, I can’t play favourites.’ He promptly put the cuffs in his pocket. ‘Three sets of cuffs, please,’ he continued.

 

‘No one would know,’ Campbell assured him.

 

‘I would, and you would,’ Harry replied.

 

Bailiff Huddleston silently handed over three pairs of cuffs.

 

‘Olivia,’ Harry ordered. The subdued Seeker stepped forwards.

 

‘She misses you. She loves you,’ she told Harry, holding her arms out in front of her.

 

‘I know, at least, I hope that I know,’ Harry said sadly as he handcuffed the Seeker and watched her disappear.

 

Harry removed his Full Body Bind from Lynette to allow her to be handcuffed, but the Beater decided to try to fight her arrest. Campbell, Huddleston and Moon forced her to the ground and pulled her hands behind her back. Harry handcuffed her and she, too, vanished.

 

Meanwhile, Ginny had struggled to a sitting position on the table. She was swaying silently, tears pouring down her cheeks. When Harry approached her, she meekly held out her arms. He quickly flicked the handcuffs around her wrists, and she was whisked away to a cell in a halo of blue light.

 

‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ Harry tried to silence the crowd. He failed. He raised his arms and signalled for silence. ‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ he tried again. ‘As you’ve seen, the troublemakers have been either summonsed or arrested. We’ll be leaving in a few minutes. I’m sorry if this has spoiled your evening.’

 

‘Mr Potter,’ a voice called from the crowd ‘I’m from the Daily Prophet. Do you have any comment to make about your arrest of your ex-girlfriend?’

 

‘No,’ Harry replied curtly.

 

He removed his Anti-Apparition jinx from the area, and tried not to show any emotion. The “ex” shook him. He’d been gone for weeks, was there something that he didn’t know? Even if there was, he wasn’t going to ask a Prophet reporter.

 

‘Hamish, could you ask Heather and Mark to return to your office to begin…’ Harry faltered for a moment as the full impact of what he’d just done struck home. He quickly regained his composure, ‘… to begin processing the prisoners?’

 

Campbell gave the order and the two Law Officers Disapparated immediately.

 

‘What are we waiting for, Harry?’ Hamish asked.

 

Harry pointed up the hill towards the road where an immaculately robed wizard in his thirties was strutting towards the bar, his arms clasped behind his back.

 

‘Who’s he?’ Campbell asked.

 

‘Mr Tavistock,’ Harry answered Hamish loudly while simultaneously calling out to the latest arrival. ‘Could you spare a minute to speak to me?’

 

‘Harpies’ solicitor,’ he whispered to Hamish as the well-dressed wizard smiled and walked towards him, hand outstretched in greeting.

 

‘Harry,’ he said, ‘a pleasure as always. A little boisterous overindulgence by the girls again? I’m surprised to see you here. Come to check up on your girlfriend, have you? I’m sure that the publican won’t be pressing any charges.’ The solicitor stopped in front of Harry, his arm still outstretched. Harry did not take it. He did not like Gus Tavistock. He did not like Tavistock’s elegantly coiffured oily black hair; he did not like his arrogant bearing; he did not like his smarmy manner.

 

He’d first been introduced to Tavistock the previous July, at a party in Holyhead to greet the Harpies’ two signings. He and Ginny had joked about the solicitor when they returned to Grimmauld Place afterwards.

 

‘Harry Potter.’ Ginny paced the kitchen, arms behind her back, mimicking Tavistock’s walk as well as his silky, cultured voice. She’d held out her hand to him. ‘I’m Augustus Tavistock, solicitor retained by Holyhead Harpies. I’m so pleased to meet you. I’m as greasy and condescending a bully as Severus Snape and as vain and self-important a publicity seeker as Gilderoy Lockhart. I do hope that we can be friends.’

 

Harry brought himself back to the present. He realised that Tavistock had been talking to him.

 

‘Sorry?’ Harry said.

 

‘Where are my clients?’ Tavistock repeated, rather sharply.

 

‘The overindulgent girls? Jail!’ Harry replied. ‘You’ll be able to speak to them as soon as they’ve been processed.’

 

‘Jail?’ Tavistock rounded on Hamish Campbell. ‘You’ve put three Quidditch players, two of them internationals, in jail. Simply for having a little too much to drink. Hoped to get your name in the papers, I suppose, you jumped up little bumpkin! Well, rest assured, you will. I will be complaining to your superiors, officer! Now, I’ll have your name.’

 

‘Auror Harry James Potter,’ Harry said promptly. Tavistock turned rapidly back to face Harry, quickly replacing his shocked expression with one of concern. The solicitor immediately changed tack.

 

‘Harry,’ he began with an oily smile. ‘Your girlfriend’s getting more famous than you. You’re not getting a little jealous, are you? Or have you had an argument? She’s dumped you, hasn’t she? Are you out for a little revenge by putting her in jail overnight? Just release her—and her friends. What alternative do you have? Think how bad you’ll look when I issue a press release.’

 

‘Oh! Bad press,’ said Harry. ‘I’ve never had that before. How will I cope?’

 

Hamish Campbell gave a snort of laughter.

 

‘So, Mr Tavistock,’ Harry continued, ‘what do you want to do first? Talk to the locals and try to pay them to withdraw their complaints? Or visit your clients in jail?’

 

Tavistock flushed scarlet. ‘You don’t want to make an enemy of me, Potter,’ he blustered. ‘I can be a dangerous man to cross.’

 

‘Oh! A dangerous enemy! I’ve never one of those before!’ Harry snapped fiercely.

 

Realising what he’d said, Tavistock blanched. Lost for words, the solicitor turned on his heels and stormed off towards the inn.

 

‘The pub’s open, and the Harpies solicitor has just gone in there. Why don’t you ask him to buy you a drink or two?’ Harry shouted to the Magpies fans who were still outside.

 

There was a rush towards the door.

 

‘Time to go,’ Harry said. ‘I’d be grateful if you could guide me to your office.

 

As they prepared to Disapparate, Harry worried about how the Portcuffs had affected Ginny. He should have used the untampered ones. He’d thought more about the bad publicity that an accusation of favouritism would have brought than about his girlfriend. He cursed himself.

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