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Cheating the Bet by Ryebread
Chapter 17: Here It Goes Again
Thank you, helios, for your awesome chapter image :)
Ginny whipped her wand out of her pocket and cast a shimmering, silvery horse patronus. Giving it a message, it galloped out of an open window in the direction of Ottery St. Catchpole. Al sent a panicked look my way, mirroring exactly what I felt, before going to his mum. She was struggling to put her shoes on, her hands shaking. He helped them onto her feet and she spoke to him in a pained voice.
“Stay here, Al. Let James know what’s happening and tell him to meet us at Mum’s. Keep Lily safe. I love you, sweetheart.” She caressed his face with her hand and then apparated. Al slumped down on the kitchen chair and sat there with his hand on his cheek, looking dazed and afraid.
“Al,” I spoke softly. “Al, look at me, please.” He just stared into the distance with a blank face. I grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him.
“Al, look at me! You heard your mum. You have to tell James and Lily needs you. Are you just going to sit here or are you going to help your dad?” He finally turned to face me and nodded almost imperceptibly. Without a word, he got up and walked up the stairs like a zombie. Moments later James scrambled down the stairs with Claire following at a frantic pace. James wrote a hasty message that his owl took away, and left, vanishing into thin air with Claire right behind him.
I sat down at the round wooden table in the kitchen and tried to steady my breath. Panic was seeping into my veins. My heart pounded and I had a sick feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. My hands had started to shake. How could someone want to kill Harry?
Just then, Tilly flew through the open kitchen window. She dropped a note on the table -and then nudged her head against my hand. I stroked her feathers absent-mindedly as I struggled to open the letter.
I was so focused on the note that I didn’t notice that Al had come up behind me. He snatched the letter from my hands, opened the seal and shoved it back into my shaking hand.
“Thanks,” I whispered to him before reading the letter.
The Order has gone to the ministry. Harry has been captured in the Ministry. Ouroboros over the roof. Stay safe. We love you.
-Mum and Dad
I passed the message to Al, who read it with no emotions. He looked numb.
The formerly defunct Order of the Phoenix had now gotten back together to save Harry; the wizarding world savior that was now being held hostage in the Ministry. And there was nothing we could do.
After Mum disappeared from our house, I slouched in the wooden chair, feeling exhausted. The whole event had zapped my energy. I was vaguely aware of Allie speaking my name, pleading with me to look at her, but my body wouldn’t cooperate enough to do it. She started yelling.
“Al, look at me! You heard your mum. You have to tell James and Lily needs you. Are you just going to sit here or are you going to help your dad?” My body seemed to go into autopilot. I nodded slightly and walked up the stairs to James.
He was flirting with Claire as she giggled and kissed him. They both looked up when I entered his room. Seeing my face, his grew grave and Claire looked from my face to his repeatedly.
“What happened?” he asked. I opened my mouth several times, but I couldn’t manage to get the words out. He shot up onto his feet and stood about a foot away from me.
“What happened, Al? Dammit, tell me!”
“Something happened. Dad is in mortal danger. Mum went to Uncle Ron’s and Aunt Hermione’s. The Order is meeting. I don’t know more than that.” James’s eyes widened and he pushed past me to go to the meeting. Claire gave me a quick hug before dashing after him.
After he left, I stood in his room and thought about what was happening. My dad might die. He could die. I repeated it over and over in my head unable to stop the thought from going through my mind. I wanted the thoughts to stop.
As I yelled in complete frustration and helplessness, I slammed my hand down on James’s dresser. It throbbed and the pain took over my mind, but this I could deal with. It was better than thinking about my dad dying.
Soon, I got used to the throbbing and aching of my hand and I started to think about Lily. How could I tell my sister? How could I tell Lily, who even at fifteen, was Daddy’s little girl? I couldn’t face it right now.
I slowly stepped down the stairs to find a shaking Allie, struggling to open a letter as Tilly hooted under her hand. I walked up behind her and pulled it from her trembling hands. I opened it with my right hand, my good hand, and gave it back to her.
“Thanks,” she said quietly. Her blue eyes scanned the paper. She paled and handed it to me without meeting my eyes. I took it and my heart dropped at the news.
The Order has gone to the ministry. Harry has been captured in the Ministry. Ouroboros over the roof. Stay safe. We love you.
-Mum and Dad
Dad was being held up in the Ministry of Magic. The same people that had killed muggles and wizards alike had my father held hostage.
I stood there for a moment, not knowing what to do. Finally I crumpled up the note and threw it across the kitchen. In my fit of rage and agony, I slammed my hands on the table. Allie stared at me in shock and… fear?
I sat in the chair next to her and put my head in my hands.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I just feel so helpless,” I said and then looked her in the eyes. “I should be out there. I want to help, but they won’t let me because I’m not of age yet.”
Alice put her hands on my arms and rubbed them up and down, comforting me.
“Everything will be okay. It’ll all turn out alright. You may not be able to be in the fight, but you can start helping by telling Lily and being there for her. You’re not useless,” she said, smiling a small grin at me. I nodded as she put her hands down on the table.
Before I went to break the news to Lils, I took hold of Allie’s hand and gave it a squeeze. She was the only thing keeping me sane at the moment.
I made it up to Lily’s room and I gave her door a small knock.
“Come on in!” she said cheerily. It sounded foreign to hear a happy tone, but then again, she didn’t know. I walked in slowly and saw Lily sitting on her floor, going through all of her Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes products. She had everything from Nosebleed Nougats to Extendable Ears to a pair of prototype duck feet boots (which didn’t have a name yet).
Lily smiled at me when she saw me, but it faltered. I must have looked like a wreck. My smile was painful. I took a seat by her on the floor and started to fiddle with a Reusable Hangman.
“Lily, sis, I have some bad news.” She looked concerned.
“What’s wrong Al? Are you okay?” I chuckled humorlessly.
“I’m fine, Lils,” I said, but went back to serious mode. “Dad… Dad has been… well, he’s been captured. He’s being held hostage in the Ministry of Magic. It’s by the same people that have been committing the mass murders lately. I’m so sorry, Lily.”
She looked horrified. Tears started to stream down her face and I hugged my sister close as her wet cheeks soaked into my plain white tee shirt.
Within minutes she calmed herself and put on a game face.
“So, what do we do? Are we going to meet up with the rescue party?” I looked away from her. “Tell me, Al. Damn you, Al, tell me what we are going to bloody do!”
“Lily!” chastised her. She was still my little sister, even at fifteen. “We can’t do anything. They won’t let us. Mum told me to take care of you and that’s what I’ll do.” Then a voice from behind me spoke out.
“Actually, we can,” said Allie. I whirled around to see Allie standing with a small, smug smile on her face. Behind her were all of my cousins and friends, wands at the ready with a fiery determination on their faces.
Once Al went to break it to Lily, a badger patronus flitted through the window. My dad’s voice rang out.
“Ministry is being overrun. We’re out-numbered. Stay where you are. We love you, Allie.”
Holding in a sob, I went to work. A combination of my dad giving up and seeing Al’s hopeless face gave me drive; a need to fix this.
Not one for very good patronuses, I was extremely worried about my plan. I pulled my wand out and breathed deeply, trying to focus on my happiest memory.
I thought through countless happy days and good times, but the one memory that I kept coming back to was when Al said he loved me.
Admittedly, it wasn’t the happiest at that moment, but he had come to mean everything to me since then and thinking about it now filled me with love and joy. It was powerful.
“Expecto Patronum,” I spoke clearly and sternly. For the first time an animal shot out of my wand. A silvery, shining dove soared around the room in large figure-eight rotations. I laughed in glee at my patronus which flied beautifully.
I held out my arm and the shimmering bird perched atop it as I spoke my message.
“Everybody, if you don’t know by now, Harry has been captured inside the Ministry and is in extreme danger. Anyone who is interested in helping out with the battle, come to Harry’s house.” The bird flew out the window to the other under-aged family and friends who I knew would want to fight.
Within minutes Rose had shown up with Hugo and after them followed Roxy, and then the rest of the gang arrived. All in all there were about ten people give or take. I herded them up to Lily’s room where Al was comforting her.
“We can’t do anything,” I heard Al say, sounding very frustrated. “They won’t let us. Mum told me to take care of you and that’s what I’ll do.”
“Actually, we can,” I said. Al and Lily looked at us in complete shock. “I figured if we leave now, we’ll be able to reach the ministry in the middle of the fight and slip past everybody in the ruckus. Once we do that, we can grab your dad and go.” Lily was the first to respond.
“Thank you. Thank you, Allie,” she said and hugged me. “You don’t know what it means to me to be able to be a part of the fight. Come on, Al, let’s go.” He still sat there, stunned. Once he seemed to grasp that we were leaving, he hopped up and ushered us out of the room and towards the door.
When everybody had left, he pulled me back and into a bear hug.
“Thank you, Allie.” I hugged him tightly and tears fell onto his shoulder.
“They’re being overrun, Al. The Order is out-numbered. I don’t know if they’ll make it.”
Al started rubbing circles on my back.
“They’ll make it, Alice. They will because of you. We’ll help them, but we have to do it now. We can’t wait.” I nodded and wiped my eyes. We needed to go now.
Once we all apparated to the visitor entrance to the Ministry, we devised a plan; we were going to go in there and wing it. Our goal: to kick some death eater arse.
Our group stepped into the telephone booth one by one and each pressed 62442. We all magically (forgive the pun) appeared in the visitors section of the ministry.
The entire area was so empty and barren that I expected tumbleweeds to roll through my line of sight. Though it looked deserted, I could hear a fight in the distance. The sound of Order members and death eaters alike shouting incantations and of spells blasting out of wands. Occasionally there was a loud moan or a boom that told us of an intense battle.
All of us under-age duelers ran in the direction of the chaos. We found the main fight was right in the Ministry lobby and we were most definitely out-numbered. Every single Order member was dueling at least two masked figures, sometimes more.
Our whole crowd separated and tried to help out the struggling people. I quickly found my mum dueling with a large, bulky man with flowing black hair and a woman without her mask and a cruel look in her eyes. I aimed at the man and mentally shouted stupefy. It hit him in the shoulder, but he only looked a little fazed. While the woman continued to battle my mum, I took on the buff death eater with girly hair.
He sent a stream of green jets at me that I can only assume were Avada Kedavra spells. Narrowly dodging them, I sent back a conjunctivitis curse at his face. He leapt out of the way and I sent another stunning spell at him, which hit his left arm, though he still wouldn’t go down.
Then, Mum appeared behind him. She pointed her wand at him and a burst of white hit him in the back making him fall unconscious. I had to remember to ask her what that spell was later.
Upon macho death eater’s fall, Mum ran over to me and pulled me into a bone-crushing hug.
“Oh, Sweetheart, I’m so glad you’re okay. Why are you here, Alice? You should go. It’s not safe here. The majority of the aurors were dispatched to protect Hogwarts and we’re all that’s defending the Ministry until they can get here. The floo network is down and they can’t apparate until they can get off school grounds. Plus, all of the civilians fled from here in fear.”
“That’s why we came. After I got Dad’s message, I called the rest of us here. I can’t just let you die here, Mum.” She looked pained.
“And I can’t let you die here, Sweetheart.” I gave her a reassuring smile.
“I won’t. I promise that I’ll be alive for you to ground me as you assuredly will when this is over.” Mum tried to hide a grin, but she failed miserably.
“You bet you will be, Alice. We’ll discuss it later. Now, we have some business to take care of,” she said to me and kissed me on the forehead before running to Dad and helping him take on three death eaters.
Everyone looked preoccupied with fighting. In fact, no one noticed that I was just standing there, so I decided to take advantage of the situation. With one last look at the fight that I was leaving, I sprinted to the auror department.
Though I was wary, it appeared that I didn’t need to be. The halls had the same abandoned look as the visitor center. Every single worker had departed from here in fright and all of the death eaters were battling in the lobby.
Slowly, I crept through the halls to the Head Auror’s Office, trying not to make a sound as my shoes tapped on the black tile floor. Tap. Tap. Tap.
When I got to the end of the black-tiled hall, I saw a black door with an old brass plate with “Head Auror’s Office” on it. In newer, shiny brass “Harry Potter” was engraved under the first name plate. I stood in place, careful not to make a move or a noise. There were no guards posted in the halls, but I heard muffled voices from behind the door. I cursed myself for not grabbing Extendable Ears.
Carefully, I knelt by the door and looked in the key hole. Harry was sitting in his desk chair. His legs and torso had chains wrapped around them, but he sat still. His chair was swiveled to the side and he was facing a lanky man who was holding two wands to Harry; his and Harry’s, I surmised.
I reached my hand slowly up to the handle to open it up. I felt the cool metal on my palm before someone grabbed me from behind. The person’s hand went to my mouth so that I couldn’t scream and the other held my waist as he/she pulled me backwards and away from the door. I kicked and thrashed, but my captor held me tightly, dragging me back down the hall. Finally, after we got to the entrance of the hall, the person let me go.
I reeled around and found myself face to face with a very angry Al.
“What in the hell do you think you’re doing? Were you just going to go in there alone? Fight off the death eaters and save the day? It’s not that simple, Alice. How could you be so stupid?” he spat in a harsh whisper.
“What am I doing? What am I doing? What are you doing? I could have gone in there and taken him. There’s just one man and he wouldn’t have been expecting it,” I hissed back.
“Oh yes, you could definitely take some guy that held my dad hostage. Great thinking. Go on ahead. I’m sorry that I interrupted you,” he said sarcastically.
“Well, what else am I supposed to do? Just let him stay there and get killed?”
“Shut up! He is not going to die!” he almost yelled, but caught himself. “He’s not,” he whispered to himself. In that instant I saw that all the frustration and anger that he was taking out on me was actually just his worry and concern for his father and family. I calmed down. Getting angry back at him wasn’t going to help the situation.
“Look, I’m sorry, but we have to do something, yeah? We can’t just sit here. I looked in the key hole. They’re talking and the string bean death eater has two wands pointed at your dad. He could go in for the kill any time. We have to strike now.”
Al just stood there, thinking. Finally he nodded.
“Okay. We need a plan,” he said.
“We can’t. We have no time. We’ve wasted enough of it.” Al reluctantly relented and we decided to wing it. I know what you’re thinking; dumb move, but if we wasted anymore time, Harry could be dead.
The two of us crept forward quietly hearing only our own breath and the battle in the lobby. We were on opposite sides of the door. Al held up three fingers. We were going in three seconds.