Chapter 30 : Chapter 30: The Search Is On
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They had planned on leaving the day after Christmas- Boxing Day- but Mrs. Weasley pleaded with them to stay for one more night.
As luck would have it a storm started that afternoon, and by the time they went to bed that night, there was a huge pile of snow on the ground.
The next morning they awoke to the door being snowed shut. “Don’t worry,” Mr. Weasley said as he rolled up his sleeves. “I’ll clear a path out.”
Harry eyed him skeptically, but the man had obviously done this before. He slowly melted the snow and vanished the water as it began to run into the kitchen.
“Sit,” Mrs. Weasley barked out. Her eyes were red rimmed, as they had been the day before, so they all sat, trying to placate her. She served up a hot, hearty breakfast, and they ate while Mr. Weasley cleared up the snow.
“What are we going to do?” Ron asked quietly, barely moving his mouth so his mother wouldn’t see.
Hermione shrugged helplessly. “I think we could probably look through the church, but the grounds are probably where we’ll need to look for the next one.”
“That’s what we’ll do then,” Harry said after swallowing a spoonful of porridge. He was anxious to get back out on the hunt. “We’ll check the church and then we’ll wait a few days to see if the snow melts. If it doesn’t then we’ll melt it ourselves.”
Hermione’s brow furrowed. “But the Muggles…”
“The Muggles,” Harry interjected quickly, “Are being killed too. Screw secrecy. Some things are worth the risk.” When she still looked skeptical, he went on. “We’ll figure out how to cloak it so they can’t see, but I’m not sure that the church isn’t deserted anyway.”
Hermione nodded reluctantly as Ron said, “Good plan. At least we can work indoors today. I think we should come back here, tonight though. I don’t fancy kipping in the tent in the snow.”
“I agree,” Harry forked another bite of sausage. “No one’s going to be following us today. There’s too much snow for anyone to bother.”
It was settled. An hour later, heavily bundled up for the bad weather, the three Apparated to Godric’s Hollow, to where Harry’s old house had once stood. They landed, unfortunately, in waist deep snow.
“This is ruddy cold!” Ron bellowed as he pulled out his wand. Likewise, Harry and Hermione were also preparing to melt the snow. “We should have brought a broom.”
“Muggles, Ron,” Hermione reminded him through chattering teeth. “Let’s just g-get through this.”
It took them nearly an hour to blast a path through the snow, down to the little white church. Not that Harry could really see the color of the building with all of the snow piled around it and on the steep roof, but he vividly recalled the day he’d first seen it; only then it had been sunny and birds were still about to chirp. No one was out on this miserable day, not even the birds, Harry thought gloomily as they reached the door. They might as well have flown.
It took nearly ten minutes to clear all of the snow from the door of the church and when it was finally clear, Hermione pointed her wand at it and Harry heard the lock click.
She pulled at the door but it wouldn’t budge. She stepped back and was about to use her wand when Ron grabbed her arm. “Let me try first. Come on, Harry.”
“I can use magic,” Hermione reminded them faintly, but they ignored her and both braced themselves to tug open the door. Somehow it seemed important for them to force it open with pure muscle alone.
“On three then,” Ron said as he braced himself to pull it open. Harry grabbed the handle, but he could see that the wood was swollen and he would guess that the door hadn’t been opened in many years. “One,” he tightened his grip, “two… three!”
Working in tandem the two pulled on the door, slowly moving it several centimeters before it struck a raised bit of concrete that wasn’t level with the rest of the front step. The opening that they’d created was so small that not even Ginny would have been able to wiggle through it.
“Are you two done yet?” Hermione sniffed. They both turned slowly to see that she had her wand raised. “Stand back.” Just as soon as they were out of the way, she flicked her wand and the door exploded into small shards.
Harry ducked and covered his head, swearing loudly. Ron rounded on her, “Bloody hell woman! What did you do that for?!”
“Get in,” Hermione motioned as she stepped over the debris and into the dark church. Dumbly they followed and the second they were in, she flicked her wand again, “Reparo!”
The door reformed and hung itself back up on its hinges. Harry just shrugged, “Well sure, if you want to do it the easy way.”
“I do,” Hermione retorted as she began to conjure candles. “I’m cold and I wanted out of the snow. Speaking of which,” she waved her wand again and her clothes began to steam. “Want help?”
“No,” Harry and Ron muttered together. As soon as they were dry and had helped Hermione heat up the drafty old church, they began their methodical search of the old building.
It was tedious work as always and except for the annoying clerk, it reminded Harry of their search through the department store that had once been an orphanage.
“Would it be under the seats?” Ron asked as we hit the benches.
“They’re called pews, Ron,” Hermione informed him. “I don’t know…” she straightened up and stretched her arms into the air. “I really don’t think it’s in this church. That seems wrong, even for Voldemort.”
Harry ducked under one pew and kept scanning. “I wouldn’t put anything past him.”
“No, but each place has had a significant meaning, so unless this part of the church was set upon something that he wanted to preserve of the house…” she sighed heavily and sank onto one of the wooden benches. “I think this is a waste of time, but I still feel compelled to check it out.”
Ron got to work on the other aisle, near where Hermione was sitting. “That’s really your problem, you just don’t know how to skive off of anything.”
Harry looked up hesitantly, but Hermione only giggled and gently pushed his shoulder. Soon enough she was working right alongside him, humming a slow tune that hauntingly filled the room to the rafters.
About halfway through the sanctuary and nearly four hours after they began, Ron called a halt to eat lunch. “Still,” he popped a whole sandwich into his mouth. “If we don’t find anything in here, then we’ll have at least crossed off the church. We’ll have to wait for a lot of the snow to melt to look through the rest of the grounds.”
“Let’s get this done, then,” Harry grumbled after finishing off his own lunch and silently thanking Mrs. Weasley for having packed it. “I want to get back to the Burrow and take a hot shower. This place is freezing, even with warming charms.”
“I think that’s more to do with the fact that the building is deserted. I wonder how long it hasn’t been used.” Hermione got up and went to the back of the church, looking at the walls.
Ron rolled his eyes at her and got up as well. “Don’t worry about us, we’ll keep looking while you try to figure why the Muggles deserted the church.”
Hermione stuck out her tongue playfully. “I just want a quick look about, that’s all. It’s fascinating!”
Harry and Ron got back to work, but soon enough Hermione was back to searching the building with them. By dinnertime they had confirmed what they had already suspected. There wasn’t a Horcrux inside the church.
They made their way back to the Burrow, frozen and hungry. Mrs. Weasley took one look at them and sent the three of them up to change, assuring them that supper would be on the table by the time they get back. Sure enough, when Harry walked back into the kitchen, the room was filled with the wonderful aroma of stew and freshly baked bread.
They sat down to eat and within minutes the two starving boys devoured the food. Mrs. Weasley smiled fondly at them as they sat back, stuffed and happy.
Hermione simply gaped at them. “That was disgusting. I don’t know why I can’t get used to it.”
“Wait till you have sons, dear. You’ll get used to it then.” Mrs. Weasley reached across the table and patted her hand comfortingly.
Hermione groaned and laid her head down on the table. Ron’s ears turned red as he studied his empty bowl.
“She could end up with daughters, you know,” Harry added helpfully, thinking that if the Weasleys could have six boys, then Hermione could certainly end up with several girls.
Mrs. Weasley smiled gently as she explained, “No, I’m afraid that only boys run in the Weasley family. Ginny was a miracle from the beginning.” Her eyes moistened at the mention of her daughter’s name. “I’m sorry Hermione, but you’ll just have to get used to having sons.”
“Mum!” Ron whined, half embarrassed, half exasperated. “I haven’t even asked Hermione to marry me yet and you’re already planning grandchildren?”
Mrs. Weasley chuckled fondly and got up from the table. “I have my priorities, and grandchildren are high on the list, although,” she looked between them sternly, “not before you are married.”
Hermione didn’t even glance up, just kept her face buried into her arms. “Mum!” Ron said sharply as he scooted his chair closer to Hermione, putting his arm around her shoulder. “Come on, you’re embarrassing her.”
“Well,” Mrs. Weasley replied, looking totally unabashed. “She’ll be officially joining this family, sooner or later. She needs to get used to it.”
“She might not want to marry me now!” Ron yelled in frustration. His mother just smiled patronizingly at him. “And I haven’t even asked her yet!”
Harry just watched in amusement as this minor argument unfolded. Of course, he wouldn’t mind having this same fight if Ginny were here… Ginny…
“Come on,” Ron pulled his girlfriend to her feet and led her from the room, giving his mother one last glare.
After they were out the door, Harry let out the chuckle that he’d been holding in. “So you know about them, then?” He asked Mrs. Weasley as she put a cup of tea in front of him and sat down across the table from him.
“I have known about them since the first time I met Hermione,” the matron confided happily. “I took one look at that girl and knew she was perfect for my son. I just had to wait for him to realize it”
Harry, for whom it had taken years to spot how much they liked each other, found this statement rather intriguing. “How did you know?”
She wrinkled her nose, thinking about it before answering. “I think it was in the way that they looked at each other. It developed slowly, of course, but I just knew that she was the one.” Mrs. Weasley took a sip of her tea and carefully set it back on the table. “That was why I was so upset with her, when I thought you two were dating and that she was dating that Krum fellow. I knew that they were meant to be and I also knew that Hermione knew, so I couldn’t understand-”
“Ah,” Harry said, remembering the time when she’d sent Hermione a small egg for Easter. “Well she did have to wait for him to wise up.”
“Yes, and speaking of wising up,” her eyebrow rose almost imperceptibly. Harry blushed, knowing what she was referring to. “I have gotten the distinct impression that you still have feelings for my little girl.”
He cleared his throat and took his time, trying to form his answer. It didn’t even occur to him to lie to her… Harry knew that she would know anyway if he tried. “I… I love her.”
“Then why did you break up with her?” Mrs. Weasley’s face was full of concern. “I think she loves you too.”
There was no denial of his feelings. She did not try to tell him that he was too young to know what he wanted. She simply asked him why. “I wanted to keep her safe,” Harry answered honestly.
Mrs. Weasley stared blankly at him for nearly a minute before she broke out into a fit of hysterical laughter. Harry laughed awkwardly with her, not sure exactly why they were laughing, but because she seemed to find this very funny. When the tears of mirth began to rain down her face, he began to worry. “Mrs. Weasley?”
“I- I’m sorry, dear!” She wiped her eyes on her apron. “It’s just that you wanted to keep her safe so she ran off and put herself in danger. She was always doing things like that… tell her one thing and she’d instantly do the opposite.” Slowly the smile slipped from her lips. “I miss her.”
“Me too,” Harry agreed. “It seems like it was only yesterday that we were at the wedding together.”
“Yes,” she sighed wistfully. “I-”
Mr. Weasley barged into the kitchen, looking disheveled and sweaty. He breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of Harry at the table. “Stay here,” he ordered them as he went to the floo.
“Arthur! What’s wrong?”
Harry, who was not entirely inclined to follow orders, watched as the normally placid man went rummaging through a box that sat atop the mantle. “We just got word that Gringotts is going to be attacked in about twenty minutes. I need my vault key or I won’t be allowed in, security you know. We’re setting up a trap.”
A loud buzzing filled Harry’s ears as he watched the man search. Did he realize that the tip had probably come from his daughter? No, Harry decided, he probably didn’t. “I want to help.” He hadn’t even realized that he’d spoken until Mr. Weasley froze in his frantic search.
“No, Harry… you have other things to do. This is a job for the Order.”
Mr. Weasley shook his head. “No, Harry. You shouldn’t be there… too many people and too many chances to kill you.” He plucked a Gringotts key from a different box and turned back to him. “We need you alive.” He clapped a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t worry; we had plenty of time to assemble a proper defense. We’ve got this situation under control.”
“Be safe,” Mrs. Weasley kissed him as he went out the door.
Harry got up but waved a hand when Mrs. Weasley opened her mouth to protest. “I’m just going to tell Ron and Hermione.”
“All right, dear. I’ll serve cake in a bit if you’re interested.” She didn’t look like she really wanted to, but she was saying it for his benefit.
“No thanks,” he told her as he walked out of the kitchen. “I’m full.”
He walked slowly up the stairs, not really making much noise and intentionally avoiding the creaking step. By the time he made it up to Ron’s room, he’d decided that if Mr. Weasley hadn’t sent word in an hour, that the three of them would go to help. Not really thinking about it, he opened the door and froze at the sight that met his eyes.
Hermione was sobbing into Ron’s chest while he held her, stroking her hair and whispering, “It’ll be okay.”
Ron met Harry’s eyes and shook his head. “Just Mum…”
“No, it’s not her,” Hermione told them, her voice thick with emotions.
Ron shrugged helplessly as Harry came in and closed the door. “Right, so what is it then?”
“I just,” Hermione began answering Harry, “I suddenly realized that we might not make it t-to get married or have children. She’s making plans like we will, but-”
Harry sank down to the floor. “You don’t have to go with me… you can stay here safe.”
He got a pillow chucked at his head for his trouble. “Don’t ever suggest that again!” Hermione growled fiercely. “I’m just trying to tell you that I understand why so many people elope during war.”
Harry nodded, finally comprehending what she was trying to tell him. “So you and Ron want to elope then?”
“No,” she said instantly, finally letting out a small giggle. “I’m just saying… oh forget it, you’re never going to understand.”
Ron, who mouth was split into a goofy grin, simply kissed her cheek and didn’t comment.
“Your dad came back for a bit; Ginny’s alerted the Order that Gringott’s is about to be attacked.”
This news went over about how Harry had expected it to. Several minutes later they found themselves in the kitchen, waiting for some word of what had happened.
Harry’s hour-long deadline nearly passed before Remus poked his head through the fireplace and was invited in for tea. “Thank you, Molly.” Their old professor was looking careworn and slightly injured. “We managed to hold them off, but only just. Arthur is fine and sent me along to tell you, while he deals with the Ministry. Just sugar, thank you Molly.” He took the cup and drank it gratefully. “Only lost one Ministry hit wizard. We really got lucky.”
“So what happened?” Harry asked, eager for details. “How did you find out that there was going to be an attack?”
Remus raised and eyebrow, studying Harry in a very calculated way. “We received a tip from an anonymous source. The information was solid so we acted upon it.”
“But where did the information come from?” Harry pressed on, despite a kick to his shin from Hermione.
Remus just smiled benignly. “Sorry, that’s not information that I am privy to.”
“But-” Harry didn’t get a chance to finish his statement. A huge, silver wolf erupted into the kitchen, causing Mrs. Weasley to shriek and everyone else to jump in surprise. It took Harry a second to realize that he was staring at Tonks’ Patronus.
He was so shocked that he didn’t even realize that Remus had received a message from the spectral dog. “Molly…” his face had gone white. “Ginny’s in trouble, we’ve got to go.”
Instantly Harry was on his feet, ready to argue with Remus that he needed to go with them to save her. He wasn’t prepared for what happened next. With a flick of Remus’ wand, Harry’s world went black.
Author's Notes: IMPORTANT! I have to be out of my house in less than a week... needless to say that's a bit stressful and after I've moved, I may not have internet for a bit. So please don't kill me but the next chapter may take awhile. I know I'm also very behind on review responses, but I appreciate the support and I'll get to them when I can!
Yahoo Group: There is another chance for you to pick a missing moment! Go to the polls and vote. If you aren't a part of my yahoo group, the link is in my profile.
Much thanks to Wolf's Scream and JPx for beta'ing for me!
This chapter is Dedicated to Emma, who is 8 yrs old. Her daddy says she's a big fan. Hi Emma!
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