You are viewing a story from harrypotterfanfiction.com
View Online | Printer Friendly Version of Entire Story
Chapter 27: Chapter Twenty-Seven
A/N: Hello to all! I was sent a bit of a warning about my little bit of steaminess in the last chapter. So, I’ve upped the rating, and I apologize if I offended anyone. I really didn't plan on the steaminess which is why I didn't up the rating. Just to be safe, I'll keep it at 15 and up from now, though. Sorry again. Now, on with the story.
“I really wish you’d rethink this, Hermione.”
“Don’t you dare start with me, Ron Weasley. I don’t care how…generous…I was feeling earlier. That suggestion is so horribly sexist that I may give serious thought to never touching you again.”
Harry laughed at Ron’s floundering face as the four prepared to travel to a small tavern called Hippogriff Hideout in search of Mundungus. But to Harry’s eye, Ron might not make it in one piece. Ginny was looking equally as offended as Hermione, and Harry though he should jump in and right the wrong Ron had done. Harry actually thought Ron had a point, but he knew better than to voice the opinion.
“Hermione, come on. He was just thinking of you. It has nothing to do with you being a girl. He just didn’t think you should put yourself through this after you’d gone through so much,” Harry said, putting a comforting hand on his best friend’s shoulder. Not ten minutes ago, Hermione had been lying in bed. Now anger and determination flashed in her normally soothingly sedate brown eyes.
“Harry, he did not say, ‘Hermione, I’m concerned that you may have injured yourself. And I wouldn’t under any circumstances want you to further worsen your condition.’”
“Course I didn’t,” Ron muttered, “Don’t talk that good, now do I?”
Hermione gave him yet another look and continued, “His words were, ‘This may get ugly, Hermione. It’s no place for women.’ No place for WOMEN! Ron, I am so sick of those generalizations!”
“Hermione, I only meant that if things get really bad…you know, fights and all, I didn’t think you’d be up to it now.”
Hermione opened her mouth angrily, and Harry could tell that this was going to get bad very quickly. He had to usher his friends down the stairs somehow. If they could just get to an Apparition point without bloodshed. Why had McGonagall left them to gather themselves before they had to depart?
Harry gave Ginny’s hand a squeeze, and, understanding in a way that—if he had had time, Harry would have stopped to marvel at—cut Hermione off.
“Hermione, come on. Let’s just go.”
She swept Hermione’s arm through hers and left the room.
“Okay, now, tell me that not ten minutes ago she was all over me, Harry. I wouldn’t believe it right now.”
Harry laughed, “Oh, yeah. She was all over you. And you were all over her. It was actually really disturbing. Did you really have to have witnesses?”
Ron turned red and mumbled, “Forgot you were there…you understand.”
“Yeah, I do,” Harry remembered his first kiss with Ginny in the Gryffindor common room that had been packed with people.
“Hey!” Ron said, “Don’t be reminiscing here. That’s my sister!”
“And Hermione’s like my sister. And I had to watch!”
Ron shrugged sheepishly and Harry laughed.
“Let’s go then,” Harry said and led the way down the stairs.
When Harry and Ron met up with the girls, they, McGonagall, Lupin, and Tonks were waiting by the door. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley and Bill had left, it seemed. Snape was nowhere to be seen, and Harry pushed the man out of his mind. He had to concentrate on the task at hand, not speculate about the man he hated but who had saved his best friend’s life.
“Right, good, we are all here and accounted for,” McGonagall said briskly, announcing the obvious. Harry thought that it was probably not the time for a, “Duh,” though and he remained silent.
“In light of the events of today,” she continued.
“My best friend nearly being murdered,” Harry thought, “but we’ll just call it an event.”
Harry wanted McGonagall to get on with it, and could not stop the rude thoughts from entering his mind.
“We have determined,” McGonagall was not a Legilimens and so, not having read Harry’s thought, continued without breaking stride, “that the safest manner of travel is Apparition. Now, Miss Weasley, as you are yet able to Apparate, you will Side-Along Apparate with me.”
Ginny nodded and McGonagall surveyed the group, “Now, we have information that Mundungus is at the Hippogriff Hideout outside of London. When we arrive, we must get him alone by whatever means necessary and bring him back to Headquarters. It’s not safe to discuss the locket in public, you understand. He need not know the true nature of the locket, you understand?”
Everyone nodded yet again, and all Harry could think was, “That covers it! Let’s go!”
“That should cover it, don’t you think, Minerva? Let’s go.”
It was Lupin who had spoken, and he gave Harry a knowing smile which Harry returned abashedly.
“Right,” McGonagall said, “Come along.”
One by one, the group walked into a clearing and Apparated. When it was Harry’s turn, he hoped that he wouldn’t find himself off track. He could not afford to blow this. When he felt the horrible pressure closing in on him he was no longer capable of hoping anything. All he could think about was the terrible sensation. When it abated, he opened his eyes slowly, and saw a sign swinging in front of him. It was in terrible shape with large chunks missing and deep grooves in the wood. It read “H PPOGR FF HID O T”.
Harry supposed that at one point in time, it had said, “Hippogriff Hideout,” but he couldn’t imagine how long ago that must have been. He heard his name being called and was jolted from the sight. Hermione, Ron, Ginny, and Lupin were waiting by the door and a loud CRACK had him jumping just in time for Tonks to appear where Harry had just been. McGonagall followed soon after, and the group of seven moved cautiously into a room filled with dingy tables and a horrid smell. Through the smog, Harry immediately zoned in on the form of Mundungus Fletcher slumped at a table by himself. Harry noted that at least he wasn’t peddling other stolen goods right now. They all walked to the back of the room. Mundungus saw them all and with a wary look in his eyes, he gave an attempt at a nonchalant smile.
“ ‘Lo,” he slurred, “What can I do ye for?”
“Mundungus,” McGonagall said in her best authority figure voice, “I advise that you come with us.”
“Come with you? For what?” he adopted a confused expression and with a speed that shocked all present, he bolted from the table.
They hadn’t expected that and had not cornered Mundungus yet. Just when Harry thought that they would have to track the man forever before they had him cornered, he heard a shouted spell and Mundungus found himself not only bound, but floating in the air, frozen in place.
“Nice work, Miss Granger,” McGonagall said.
“Thank you, Professor,” Hermione said, and, throwing a look at Ron, added, “I’m just so glad that there wasn’t a fight. My female status might have caused me to be slow.”
Ron blushed red, and McGonagall said, “Yes, yes, relationship problems later, Miss Granger, Mr. Weasley. Right now, we have to get him to Headquarters.”
Lupin wandered to the bartender and spoke with him for a moment. He met the group outside, as they all stood watching Mundungus suspended in midair, unable to move or speak.
“You took care of it, Remus?”
“I explained that he was not able to pay the bill and that he was in deep trouble with the Ministry and was expected at his hearing.”
“But, Mundungus isn’t supposed to be at a hearing,” Ron said, confused.
“Really, Ron!” Hermione snapped, “Keep up! It was an excuse!”
“Oh,” Ron mumbled, looking at the ground.
“Now, I’ll take Mundungus back with me,” McGonagall said, ignoring Ron and Hermione. Harry thought that she was beginning to learn what it had taken Harry a year to learn: Ron and Hermione sniped at each other as often as they drew breath.
Everyone took turns Apparating, and ended up on Grimmauld Place. Harry practiced the familiar routine of thinking, “Number Twelve Grimmauld Place,” and it appeared. He walked inside and waited as the entire group converged. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were waiting in the foyer by the time Harry came in. They were told that Bill had to get home to Fleur. Finally, the whole group was there and they moved Mundungus’s still form into the meeting room. McGonagall unbound and then rebound him to a chair in the blink of an eye. Harry thought to himself that this whole thing was going far too easily. They had had only one near miss. Things were bound to get rocky soon.
Apparently Ginny was thinking along the same lines. She slipped her hand into Harry’s and whispered into his ear, “This is way too easy. Something’s wrong here.”
Harry just nodded. He figured he’d leave the interrogation to McGonagall, Lupin, and Tonks. He, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione remained in the back of the room, unable to hear. Harry thought that this was best, because he was bound to lose his temper when presented with the topic of Sirius’s possessions. His friends seemed to understand, and even Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, watching from the other corner of the room, failed to question Harry’s lack of involvement in the interrogation.
“You’re right, Ginny,” Hermione said, “I feel like this is going to backfire on us.”
“Yeah, I feel it too,” Ron said.
“What, Ron? Not too ‘Woman’s Intuition’ for you?” Hermione snapped.
She and Ron were standing a full foot from one another on the other side of Harry.
“Hermione, you proved your point, all right! I just had your best interests at heart!”
“Oh, please, Ron. You wanted to lord over me the fact that you’re ‘All Male’ and the little woman had no place in a bar where a fight could break out.”
Ron laughed, surprising Hermione—and Harry and Ginny as well.
“Hermione, we’ll be married forty years, and you still won’t be the ‘little woman’. It’s just not in the cards for you.”
Hermione was so stunned. Here was not a statement that said ‘if’ but ‘when’. She had no time to ask him about the certainty of the marriage he spoke of. McGonagall was back. Mundungus was looking thoroughly miserable, and the Weasleys headed over as well. By the expression on McGonagall’s face, Harry felt all thoughts of his friends’ relationship slip from his mind. The news was not going to be good.
“I’m afraid it’s not good news,” McGonagall said.
“Surprise, surprise,” Harry mumbled.
“Yes, it did seem too easy,” McGonagall said as Lupin and Tonks joined the pow-wow.
“We established that, yeah,” Harry said testily, “What did he say? Does he have the locket?”
“Well the bad news is that he sold it,” McGonagall said.
Harry and Ron swore so badly that they both received admonishment from Hermione and Mrs. Weasley. They looked expectantly at Ginny for a minute, but she shrugged, “I was thinking it in my head. It’d be pretty hypocritical for me to yell at you two.”
Harry would have admired her at any other time, but at the moment, he was wondering what they were to do.
“You said that like there’s good news too,” Hermione prompted.
“There is,” Tonks said with a smile.
“We know who he sold it to. It’s not a name you’ll know,” Lupin said, “A man called Dycott bought it. Bernard Dycott is not a good wizard. He’s just managed to stay under the Ministry’s radar. But he’s stingy and he collects dark artifacts. He’s not going to give up the locket that belonged to Salazar Slytherin without a fight.”
“Then we’ll have to put up a fight,” Harry said, “Let’s go.”
“Mr. Potter,” McGonagall sighed, “I realize that this statement will not bode well with you, as I’ve seen how you’ve reacted to it before. It will have to wait until tomorrow. I have lessons to finish up and this needs proper planning. None of us know Dycott well enough to drop in on him, you know. We have to have a plan. So go home. Sleep. Rest. Prepare.”
For once, Harry nodded. He was tired, and he was beginning to think that he would never ever be any closer to defeating Voldemort. As McGonagall bid them farewell, Lupin and Tonks followed suit.
“Cheer up there, Harry. We’ll get it back,” Tonks said in parting.
“Don’t lose heart. These things take time,” Lupin said.
“Sure,” Harry thought, “If I hear one more stupid encouragement. ‘These things take time.’ ‘Cheer up.’ ‘It’ll all work out with proper planning.’ Ugh!”
“And now you want nothing more than to stop hearing all of these encouragements,” Lupin said, and at Harry’s look of shock said, “You’re face is as easy to read as James’s was, Harry. Just…hang in there.”
Harry nodded as he and Tonks left hand in hand. He looked at Ginny, whose hand he held in his own and at Hermione—studying Ron with an intense look of scrutiny—and Ron. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley began to shepard them from the room. Harry actually felt as though he could sleep for a year. He was so tired of dead ends. Maybe tomorrow would yield some result.
A/N: OK, so, there it is. I’m so tired! But I wanted to get this up. And I really do, eventually, want to bring up marriage with Ron and Hermione. But not now. That’s why I throw those random things in there. They’re really fun. But…anyway. Please review!!!! Please!!!!