Chapter 24 - Other Places

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"Hello, Albus," the woman who walked through the door of the headmaster's office greeted, "it's been quite a while."

"That it has, Grace, that is has," Dumbledore returned, "doesn't time fly. Grace, may I introduce Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy. Harry, Draco, this is Grace Proforos, she is an old friend and currently employed by the Department of Mysteries."

Ms Proforos lifted an eyebrow as the headmaster revealed that and Harry was pretty sure it was an objection. She had one of those ageless faces and Harry would have put her at about thirty five, only there was more grey at her temples than he would have expected for someone that age. She almost looked as if she had dyed it like that, but it was hard to be sure. Her piercing stare reminded him of more than one Slytherin of his acquaintance.

"Quite necessary, I'm afraid," was the only thing Dumbledore said in way of apology. "Especially after the incident with Mr Fitzsimons. Please come in and close the door so that we may confer privately."

Ms Proforos did as she was asked.

"I can assure you Mr Fitzsimons' new division has been disbanded and his remit allocated to subdividions of the existing structure," she said, "under proper supervision."

"As it should be," the headmaster said with a smile. "We, shall of course, pry no further."

"Mr Potter, Mr Malfoy," Ms Proforos said as she moved over towards the desk, "it's a pleasure to finally meet you both. Hilde speaks very highly of you."

"You know Hilde?" Harry couldn't help himself. "Oh and please call me Harry."

"Thank you, Harry, and call me Grace," Grace responded, "and yes, Hilde and I have been known to sit together for lunch when time permits. Of course she has been much busier since last year."

"That's what Harry's here for," Draco commented, "to give us all that much more work to do."

Harry rolled his eyes at his soulmate. He hadn't missed the fact that Draco did not invite Grace to use his first name; Draco was clearly reserving judgement. Since there were no horsemen of the Apocalypse on the horizon, Harry was satisfied this was just as it should be.

"Tea, Grace?" Dumbledore offered.

"No, thank you," the woman replied.

"Well, on to business then," Dumbledore continued as Grace took the last chair, "thank you for coming on such short notice. My apologies for being so vague in my correspondence, but I am sure you will understand why, once Harry explains why we have asked you to come."

"Albus, when you request anything, I always know there is a good reason," Grace said.

Dumbledore nodded at Harry.

"I've discovered a new way of travelling from place to place without using Apparating or a portkey," he said simply, "and current wards cannot block it."

He watched Grace's face as the consequences of his concise statement dawned on the Unspeakable. There was only a flicker of reaction, but he knew his point had been made.

"You have been experimenting with alternative means of travel?" Grace asked and her voice gave away no emotion at all.

"Not deliberately," he replied. "I find Apparating very uncomfortable and I was trying to acclimatise myself to people doing it around me, for obvious reasons. It's a hideously destructive process. I was just thinking that there must be a better way to do it and then I just saw them."

"Them?"

"The connections," Harry said, "between energy. For want of a better word we call the new mechanism Transferring; it uses the same techniques as Apparating, but rather than blasting a hole to pass through it uses the energy connections like Muggle phone lines."

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