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Chapter 5: Confrontations
Harry Potter leaned over next to his girlfriend. Like her he paused to say a prayer and remember the Headmaster. Many times this last year the Trio grew frustrated as their search took longer and longer. And when Ron left them after being brainwashed by the locket they had to wear so not to lose it was the worst time of all. In the end they prevailed with all four returning safe and sound.
Harry waited a few extra minutes for Ginny to finish with what she was doing. When she didn't move or say anything further he asked her "Ginny? Are you OK?"
"NO SHE IS NOT OK! NONE OF US ARE!!" he heard a voice behind him yell. Harry spun around, leaving his wand on the top of the white marble tomb. He had set it down to reach out to Ginny when he saw she wasn't moving. Not three feet away were Ginny's and Ron's older brothers Bill and Charlie. Bill worked at Gringotts Bank as a curse breaker and was married to Fleur Delacour who competed in the Tri Wizard tournament with Harry. Charlie trained dragons in Romania.
Bill opened his hand and Harry's wand flew across to him. "Well, well what do we have here? The great Harry Potter! Our savior!! But not all of us were saved were we?" he snarled as he leaned over him. Bill was almost a foot taller than Harry and quite a bit heavier. Years as a curse breaker had taken their toll, plus the scars on his face from the attack by the werewolf Fenrir Greyback made him very intimidating.
"Let's see just how strong you are without this!" his brother Charlie stated. He took Harry's wand from Bill and threw it as far as he could. Harry heard a faint plop telling him it landed somewhere in the Black Lake. He saw Charlie pull the wands belonging to Hermione, Ron, and Ginny from their pockets and place them in an inside pocket of his dragon hide coat. "They're in no position to be using these now. Maybe later we can give them back." Like Bill he towered over Harry every bit as much as Ron did, but with the 8 years of muscle packed on. His hands and arms were covered with burn marks and lacerations from the dragons he worked with on a daily basis.
"So tell us Harry just what were you doing all that time? Do you know how badly you hurt our sister when you dumped her?" Charlie hissed, his breath puffing out of him like the dragons he trained.
"But Charlie I had to do it! Voldemort would have killed her if he knew about us" Harry tried to explain.
"Knew what about you?" Bill asked as he lifted Harry off his feet with one hand. He was holding the front of his Weasley jumper and it ripped from Harry's weight, which wasn't much at this time. After spending a summer at the Burrow he 'blossomed' to maybe 140 pounds. Molly thought he was still too thin, but to Ginny he weighed exactly the right amount. But the months of inadequate food caused all three to lose probably close to 100 pounds, putting Harry at 120 if he just got out of the shower. With his clothes on.
"Now look what you did! You ruined the jumper our sister made for you!" yelled Bill.
"Bill he doesn't deserve this anyway!!" spit out Charlie. Savagely they ripped the jumper off Harry, throwing it onto the tomb next to their sister.
Ginny was beside herself listening to her brothers. Ever since she was born they were very protective of her. Time and again she had to prove herself tough enough to survive a house full of six brothers. Only at Quidditch did they treat her as an equal, and that was only in the last couple of years.
"Well would you look at that! Our hero's bleeding!" Bill joked noticing the blood stains on the shirt he had on under his Weasley jumper. The center of his chest had one long mark from dried blood which ran from his waist to his neck, and a second dessert-sized spot right in the center which was fresh.
The jumper which had almost hit Ginny's face lay just within reach. Her face was frozen looking down so she was forced to stare at the blood stains. She endlessly speculated what they were from. She knew they had changed clothes before returning to the Great Hall so they could only be from Harry. Part seemed still wet, meaning they were recent. With a shock she realized when he reached out to hug her she may have hurt him or reopened old wounds. A single tear ran slowly down her cheek.
"How can we expect you to be able to take care of our sister when you can't even stand up straight?" Charlie roared. Harry was partially leaning against him as waves of pain went through him from both wounds on his chest now being open. He felt himself picked up again and tossed to Bill who roughly caught him.
"Charlie I don't think he deserves her" he joked throwing Harry back in Bill's direction.
"Potter you are pathetic you know that!" Charlie responded as he stopped Harry's progress with one meaty hand.
Harry felt himself hanging in the air again. As each moment passed he felt weaker and weaker. For his size he was strong, but part of what made him such an excellent seeker was his diminutive size. Both he and his Father were short and thin with small bones. They excelled at being quick and maneuverable, especially on a broom. But in a fist fight, against grown men twice his size he was as helpless as a baby. Again he felt himself fly through the air only this time to land against something soft which gave way as he hit it.
"NOW LOOK AT WHAT YOU DID!!! YOU HURT OUR SISTER!!!" Charlie bellowed. Bill had moved so Harry would hit the ground. Instead he had collided with Ginny's frozen body, knocking her over onto one of the small phoenix statues he created when he repaired the Headmaster's tomb. She landed now on her side facing the Castle.
Ginny was horror struck at the scene before her. She initially faced away from everything so she had no idea how bad Harry was. He was lying in front of her, facing the sky. The front of his shirt was in tatters and she could now clearly see the blood her brothers were referring to. His face was badly bruised and his glasses were missing.
Maybe 15 feet away were Ron and Hermione. They too were not moving, their arms outstretched. Ginny guessed they were about to hug each other. Both of them seemed to be red faced, indicating attempting to try to break whatever curse was on them. She began to focus too, knowing that earlier Neville had broke free of Tom Riddle's attempt to burn him alive. Charlie leaned over her to grab Harry again, flipping him over to push his face near hers.
"DO YOU SEE WHAT YOU DID TO HER??? HER HEAD IS BLEEDING!!! THIS IS THE LAST TIME YOU ARE GOING TO HURT HER!!!" Charlie roared. Ginny saw him grab Harry by the throat and hurl him away from her. She saw him land against Ron's legs, causing him to fall into Hermione.
"Did baby brother fall down?" teased Charlie as he reached for Harry's body again.
"It's not decent the way you are lying on top of her like that. Imagine what Mom would say" joked Bill as he pulled Ron off Hermione.
If this had not been so serious a situation Hermione might have laughed. Many, many times she fantasized about her and Ron wondering what it would be like to be with him. In this case it was anything but sexual. Her best friend Harry was helpless. She felt his blood hit her from one of the times he was thrown like a rag doll.
For Ron it was just as bad. Maybe worse knowing it was his family committing these heinous acts. In the walk up to the Headmaster's Office and every one since then Harry had moved slowly. Normally he was very quick and agile, so Ron knew he was in pain. They did not push him (at least he didn't yet) for what happened when he disappeared, and why he looked dead that morning. No, something bad had happened. And the beating he was taking at the hands of his brothers was making things worse. If he could not find a way to stop this they might accidentally kill him.
* * *
Hagrid the Half Giant slowly walked around the Castle. Hogwarts was his home, and had been for 60 years. He kicked a stone about the size of a small boulder, causing it to fly 100 feet and land near the greenhouses. The stampeding Giants had walked right through them, destroying most of the precious plants. Fire consumed the remainder causing him to shudder. Several students died here, and he smelled their charred flesh as he went past. In the distance he saw what was left of his home. It too had been set on fire and little remained.
Something big was moving near it and he quickened his pace. 'It must be Grawpy' he thought. Grawp was Hagrid's half Brother. He was a Giant, but at 16 feet tall he was dwarfed by regular sized ones. He was battered and beaten by them and left for dead. But he knew himself the recuperative powers all Giants had, so he was not surprised that Grawp was up and moving.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw movement near the Headmaster's marble tomb. Not knowing who it was he thought someone else might be desecrating the Headmaster's body. He changed direction to see who this might be, balling up one fist as he hastened. Then Professor Dumbledore had taken him in when Tom Riddle accused him of opening the Chamber of Secrets close to 60 years ago when they were both students. They broke his wand but not his spirit. He was hired to be the groundskeeper allowing him to remain. Secretly he continued his studies but was not allowed to take any tests to prove the skills and knowledge he had learned.
As he grew closer what he saw puzzled him. Two men appeared to be arguing with a child. Roughly he was passed between them, at one point violently thrown knocking several others over. "Death Eaters! It has to be Death Eaters!! And they have a student they must have captured! I bet he's a first year, look how little he is!!" Hagrid began to run now, forgetting that his 'big brother', who was actually only half his age but almost twice his size, was nearby to help.
Hagrid slowed a little trying to catch his breath. He was a very large and heavy man and never very good at long distance running. Normally his long strides caused whoever was with him to have to run to keep up. Less than a day ago when he was forced to walk carrying Harry's body he had to almost be dragged forward he was so reluctant.
"Oi!! Stop what you're doing there!!" he attempted to yell but only whispers came out. He was closer now but maybe 50 yards away and they didn't seem to be aware of him. He decided not to say anything again and try to surprise them.
Ginny felt blood trickling over her nose from where her forehead had struck the small statue. A piece of it was lying near her left hand and she saw her blood on it. 'They always told me I had a hard head' she thought to herself. In the distance she thought she saw someone coming. 'Finally they sent someone to check up on us! But why were her brothers here? To make sure nothing happened, or to hurt Harry?' Before going to look for him she heard George crying, blaming Harry not Voldemort for Fred's death. Angelina Johnson And Fleur Weasley stood up for Harry but her other brothers did not. Much whispering took place after that and she was too tired to try and listen. 'Oh my God they must have planned this!! Wait until we are alone then attack Harry!!! Do they want to kill him, or beat him up so bad he will leave us??? I couldn't live with myself if that happened!!!!' Ginny began to struggle harder to break free. She felt her hand close around the piece of the statue.
Ron and Hermione now lay side by side facing the sky. Both their faces were contorted in their attempt to break whatever curse was used. 'I bet this is from Bill. Something he learned in Egypt' Ron wondered. The feeling was returning to his body, but not enough for him to get up and help Harry.
Hermione speculated too on who's curse it was. She guessed Charlie thinking it was a modified spell used to keep dragons quiet for travel. She focused on that, and felt her hand move. Ron's was nearby and she slowly slid it until she could touch him. She held his hand as tightly as she could and was relieved to feel him squeeze her hand in reply.
Hagrid was now almost on top of the action. He saw the two large men pick up the child but the wrists and ankles and fling him in the direction of the tomb. "Let's toss him on top. When they find his body it will be here with his Teacher" one of them said in a voice Hagrid thought he knew but because their backs were to him he couldn't be sure. The small body flew through the air but because of the blood on their hands it slipped causing it instead to strike a corner. The sickly sound on bones breaking was heard. It seemed to echo across the lake and the nearby forest.
"Oii!! What's going on here??" Hagrid bellowed. Startled the two attackers turned to see a huffing Hagrid two steps away. "Bill Weasley? Charlie?? What are you two doing picking on poor defenseless students??"
"Keep out of this Hagrid if you know what's good for you" Bill menacingly responded.
"We are having a family discussion" Charlie added trying to block Hagrid's view. But it was too late. Since he was taller Hagrid could see everything. Ron and Hermione lying face up not moving. Ginny near the Headmaster's tomb with blood running down her face. And Harry. His body was wrapped around the end of the white tomb at an impossible angle. Hagrid's face turned purple he was so mad. He struck Charlie first, hitting him in the chest so hard he was knocked off his feet. Bill was next and was knocked in the opposite direction.
Energy surged through Ron as he sat up. He helped pull Hermione to her feet and then launched himself at Charlie who was trying to get up. They rolled over and over in the grass, down the slope near the water. They broke apart and stood, their chests heaving. Charlie now had a huge bruise on his chest from where Hagrid had struck him, and his face also had bruises from Ron's punches.
Ron too was bleeding. Quickly he pulled the Weasley jumper off, thinking it would only be in his way. They began to circle each other, looking for an opportunity. "Not too bad little brother. Can you take it as well as you can dish it out?" Charlie asked Ron as he rubbed his chin.
"Bring it" Ron said stepping closer. He had no idea what came over his brothers but he was determined to stop them. He staggered back after Charlie hit him quickly with his right, connecting with Ron's nose.
"Not too bad yourself" Ron replied. He smiled at his brother as he wiped the blood on his sleeve. He swung his left fist as hard as possible, hitting Charlie in the nose. He felt the cartilage snap as Charlie's head snapped back.
Hermione was leaning against a small tree watching her boyfriend and his brother battle. They were the same height but Charlie had the advantage of weight and experience. Plus all the infrequent meals resulted in Ron not being as strong as he might. Ron was trading blow for blow but he was losing ground. Each time he was hit he stepped back a little further. Hermione knew it was just a question of time before Ron ran out of energy. Charlie's stamina would help him win the day. He was smiling as he hit Ron again and again. She pushed herself away from the tree and stumbled forward. The curse was still affecting her some as she felt herself wobble from side to side. She leaped at Charlie trying to distract him. The sand beneath her feet shifted and she fell at his feet, so she tried to hold onto his leg.
"What the Hell!! So this is how your girl helps?" Charlie wondered. He continued to move dragging Hermione who refused to release him. "OWWW!!!" he screamed as he felt her bite him through his jeans. This made him stop his assault on Ron. He bent down and began to punch her so she would let go.
Hermione felt bones breaking in her right arm and shoulder but she refused to give up. Charlie began striking her head and she felt her cheek and nose break. The pain became so intense she crumbled onto the sand curling up into a ball. Charlie kicked her one final time before turning to face Ron. "LET'S FINISH THIS" he yelled. Those were the last words he remembered speaking for a while as Ron, infuriated at his girlfriend being battered by his brother, hit Charlie in the forehead as hard as he could. Charlie Weasley left his feet and landed flat on his back unconscious. Ron reached into his brother's coat pocket and grabbed the three wands. He held his and Hermione's in his unbroken hand and yelled "INCARCERUS". Red and brown ropes came out of both their wands binding Charlie securely.
"Hermione?" he whispered as he fell to his knees next to her, too exhausted to stand. She had saved him distracting Charlie long enough for Ron to catch his breath. Hermione Granger was lying on her right side. The left half of her face was turning purple under all the blood. Her left arm hung limp with bones peeking through the now ripped Weasley jumper. "Please don't let me mess this up" he said through the tears. He waved his and her wands over her muttering the same spells she used after he was splinched escaping from the Ministry. Her eyes fluttered open and one side of her mouth moved. Ron leaned over placing his ear against her lips. "Love you" she barely spoke before her eyes rolled back into her head and she passed out again.
Ron did not know what else to do. Sounds of fighting drifted towards him but he could not abandon Hermione. His jumper was within reach so he covered her up and as gently as he could he slid his arms under her and lifted. She moaned but managed to slide her good hand inside the rip in the front of his shirt. He felt her grip the material tightly, her nails digging into his chest. He ignored the pain as he carefully climbed the embankment with his brother's body floating alongside.
* * *
From Ginny's position lying against the tomb she could see some of the fighting. Ron and Charlie were rolling over and over attempting to hit each other. They disappeared as the ground dropped near the water. Hermione half walked/half crawled after them, using a tree to pull herself up. Ginny saw her fall towards the water too. Momentarily the noises stopped until she heard "What the Hell!! So this is how your girl helps?" Ginny saw a huge fist superimposed against the clear water of the lake and then fall. Over and over her brother did this. Hermione's screams sent chills down her spine. This last year unfortunately she heard bones being broken in 'Defense' class, so she knew Hermione was in terrible pain.
A surge of energy swept through her as she managed to sit up. To her right were Harry's legs but the rest of him was wrapped around the other side of the marble tomb. "Oh my God his back has to be broken" she muttered as she slid herself towards him. Her progress was halted by her brother Bill. Hagrid had hit him causing him to fall backwards onto her but he kept getting up for more, making the back of her head smack the tomb causing her to see stars. When Ginny was able to see again she saw somehow Bill had knocked Hagrid off his feet and was sitting on his chest pounding mercilessly on his face. Ginny stood picking up the head of the statue which had broken and brought it down on Bill as hard as she could. "I'm sorry Fleur" she said as he collapsed onto Hagrid. Ginny kicked him out of the way to get a better look at Hagrid. His face and neck was yellow and purple from Bill's blows but at least he was breathing.
"Hagrid we have to help Harry. Can you stand?" hoped Ginny. She knew Hagrid would have no trouble carrying Harry back to the Castle. Not even 12 hours ago he had done this. At the time they all thought Harry was dead in his arms.
"Give me a minute" he replied as he tried to sit up. He slumped back his face turning white.
Ginny crawled past him to look at Harry. Once she made her way to the other side of the Headmaster's tomb she stopped. The top half of his body was facing up, seeming to be looking at the full moon which was now rising above the Castle. But his lower half was on his side wedged against the remains of the phoenix statue. With all her strength Ginny pushed the statue aside, allowing the rest of Harry's body to lay right. As gently as she could she straightened him so both halves lay flat. She tried to brush his long black hair out of his eyes. "Harry? Harry can you hear me??" she called. He did not respond but she saw his chest slowly rising and falling indicating he was breathing and alive. Tears ran down her cheeks hitting his face. His unseeing eyes moved to find Ginny's. "Oh Harry!! Can you talk?"
"U OK?" barely came out of his mouth.
"Sweetheart don't worry about me right now. Can you feel anything?" she wondered. His clothes were covered in blood and the front of his shirt was still wet, so she knew the bleeding had not stopped.
"Shouldn't have come back. It was peaceful there" she heard him say.
"What Harry? But if you wouldn't have come back then Riddle would have won. We'd all be dead right now" Ginny replied.
"No Ginny" he answered his voice getting cleared but weaker. "I had to make a choice. You wouldn't be hurt if I had left and not come back."
"But Harry you killed Tom. Yes we lost Fred, and Remus, Tonks, and many others but you stopped him." Ginny felt a shadow pass over and looked up. Ron was holding Hermione in his arms. Like Harry they were both covered in blood.
"Ginny's right Harry. We are all going to get fixed up and celebrate Tom's gone. Then both you and I are going to take our girls 'out on the town' as the muggles say. How does that sound mate?" Ron asked.
Harry attempted to smile but what came out was a grimace instead. Horror struck his friends listened to what he thought were his final words. "Ginny I am sorry I got you hurt. All of you. It wasn't supposed to be this way. It should have been me. Just me and Tom. I got all of you involved and I was wrong. Ron please look after both our girls for me. Ginny I love you ... " Harry's breathing stopped and his head fell to the side.
"No !!!!!!" Ginny screamed, thinking she had lost him for the second time in less than a day. "CAN SOMEBODY HELP US???" she wailed as she leaned on the white marble tomb for support. Her hand brushed against the image emblazoned on the side and with a flash Fawkes appeared. She began to sing, her voice sounding like a hundred member choir. But the three she was trying to help continued to look down at Harry's body. She leaned over and let her tears fall. One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight times she did this letting them land on Harry's scar. Time seemed to stand still until Harry began coughing.
"OH HARRY YOU'RE BACK. FAWKES THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!" yelled Ginny. "Harry can you hear me? Harry???" Ginny asked afraid to touch him. He just laid there looking out, like he was there but he wasn't.
"I'm sorry Hermione what?" Ron wondered. She was trying to talk but couldn't get the right words out.
"Fawkes take Harry" came out clearer before her body slumped in Ron's arms again.
"I am so stupid !! Ginny remember the Chamber? Fawkes carried all of us to safety! " Ron exclaimed. Before he could ask Fawkes began to sing again. The first song was designed to comfort them, but this one was the same but different.
"Thank you" Ginny told her. Fawkes jumped down from the top of the tomb she was using for her perch and landed on Ginny's shoulder, nestling against Ginny's neck. Ginny touched Harry's pant leg in the only spot not covered in blood with one hand and placed her other on Ron's shoe. He looked like he was about to fall over so this would have to do. "Hagrid we will send Fawkes back as quickly as we can."
"You kids don't worry" he replied. He was standing in between Ginny's bound brothers holding the broken statue in his massive hand. "They won't be any trouble. Get yourselves taken care of first."
"Thanks Hagrid. For everything" Ron responded before he felt himself apparate.