Chapter 6 : Shambles
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"Those of you who aren't drunk, and I mean, WHO AREN'T DRUNK, "shouted Moody "come with me!" Alastor looked around for a response. "They want the boy, but the boy is not going anywhere!" he continued.
"Professor Moody," Hermione's voice raised again. "This is a trap, like the one at the Ministry, can't you see it? It cannot be true, she cannot have been taken and you know it, because his aunt's house is protected, until the day Harry comes of age."
Hermione's parents were very proud of their young offspring's performance, of her assertiveness, her passion and her use of logic.
"Yes, my dear know-it-all, but she wasn't taken from her house, was she now? She was taken from a bloody Muggle car park! So, we'll just have to trap them in turn and, with a bit of luck, we may even get that Lestrange bitch!" Moody snapped.
Hermione shuddered again. Her mother's eyes crossed hers.
"We are going with him, for you and for your friends!" stormed Jane Granger.
"NO, YOU WON'T, YOU CAN'T" shouted Hermione anxiously. "YOU CAN'T DO MAGIC, THIS IS DANGEROUS!"
Several people, including the bride and groom, who had not drank in excess as they hadn't wanted to ruin their special day, came forward without hesitation.
"We'll help!" shouted Bill.
"But not you, Princess" Moody said to the bride. "You don't want to get killed before you get a chance to consummate your marriage."
"If yoo zink just because I'm French I have no courage, you got anozer zing coming!"
"Moody is right. It's not about courage, love," Bill said searching for his wife's gaze, throwing at her a look of complicity, as if trying to remind her of a secret they shared.
"I'm going wiz you and zat's zat!" she said obstinately, quickly running up the stairs to change into something more comfortable.
"I'll go, I'll go," said George. "We have drunk a bit but we are still of use."
"We are tricksters, if you must know!" added Fred trying to lighten up the mood.
"You two are way too drunk!" said Moody uncompromisingly.
Ron, similarly wanted to go, but was far over the limit. Ginny did too but she wasn't allowed as she was underage.
"Take care of your loverboy instead," said Moody to Ginny in a rather crude manner.
"Now, you and your husband, you're Muggles, dentists, I understand?" Mad-Eye said turning back to the Grangers and asking for confirmation.
The Grangers nodded. "But we have some medical knowledge, there may be injuries," Jane Granger pleaded. ''Also, our girl has been a witch all this time. We could help out, in someway." She was extremely keen.
"Mum, don't. I'll go; I am the one in the thick of this. You don't understand the danger!" protested Hermione panicking.
"'Hermione is right," shouted Molly Weasley. "Mrs Granger hasn't a chance against Death Eaters."
"Jane, if you want to be of service," continued Molly kindly, "stay here and care for the wounded on their return, you are knowledgeable. Use your skills like this. There will be plenty of opportunity, no doubt. Look what happened to my son, bitten by a werewolf! No offence, Remus," she whispered to Lupin.
"You missus, stay here!" said Mad-Eye addressing Mrs Granger. “You'd be in grave danger with us, we cannot allow..."
Hermione didn't know what to do for the best. Ron and Harry were staying behind, but maybe that was the actual trap, to get everyone gallivanting someplace else and to attack the Burrow, where Harry was being kept against his will. But, how could the Death Eaters know that Harry would be left behind? Umm... What was she to do? Ron would stay; she was able to go or to stay. Her parents and best friends staying - Umm...
"I'll go too," said Hermione after a split second. "I can be of use. The others cannot, but they need better protection than this, Alastor, the ones staying! They need better protection!"
"The Burrow is protected, Miss - that's why they haven't come here to cause trouble!" replied Alastor, pretty confident about the efficacy of his incantations. However, he reflected for a second.
"Ok, Remus, Arthur and Molly, you'd better stay. I need reliable people to protect Harry and the others," Moody concluded.
The members of the Order who had been selected for this mission Apparated to a two-story house in a depressingly poor part of South London. Jane Granger, contrary to instructions and to Hermione's wishes, had held onto her daughter's arm and had ended up side-Apparating with her, so eager she was to help.
The building appeared uninhabited. The windows had been boarded up and the place smelled of stale dampness. This was not, of course, the Headquarters of the opposition (if they could be called that); it looked much more like a temporary arrangement.
"We must inform our police," said Jane before entering the building, as she tried to dial 999 from her mobile.
She was interrupted by Tonks who explained that that was not a smart move. They did not want publicity and also there was very little that the Muggle police could do against Death Eaters; things could in fact get a hell of a lot worse!
Jane took the point. After all, she was only there to help.
Tonks went on ahead "Alohomora!" she shouted at a fairly solid looking door, not really hoping to get in. The door remained obstinately shut.
Moody came to her aid. "Confringo!" he called while making a motion with his hand for the Order members to keep away. The seemingly heavy door blasted to bits, throwing splinters all over the place. An entrance hall was visible.
This had been far too easy. The Death Eaters wanted to be found, otherwise the house would not have been plottable, thought Hermione.
"Tonks, Jane and Hermione, go right!" Mad-Eye commanded. "Hagrid, McGonagall and I will go left. Bill and Fleur, take the stairs. Ah, and don't mess around with silly little curses, because, I can assure you, they won't!" he warned, storming off.
Jane and Hermione, led by Tonks, went right into the kitchen / dining area.
Petunia was there all right, tied to a kitchen chair with what appeared to be magically conjured ropes. She was alone, her eyes wide open, horror-struck. No matter how badly she had treated Harry in the past, Hermione could not help but feel a lot of pity.
"Mrs Dursley, Mrs Dursley," she said softly, "my mother is a Muggle too, I mean non-magical, we are here to try to rescue you."
"Where is Harry?" she asked impatiently although her voice was fading due to either shock or fear.
"We have been to a wedding. He's not been allowed to come, he had a bit to drink," explained Hermione as if trying to let Petunia into a secret.
"I knew he'd let me down!"
"That isn't true!" Hermione protested. The last thing she wanted was for her to believe her nephew had betrayed her. "He has been Stunned. It's a spell," she explained. "He cannot move, won't be able to until this is over. My colleague has seen to that. He's been prevented by our side to come here because we think this is a trap to get him."
"Mother, talk to her, she is like you," urged Hermione.
"Petunia, is it?" asked Mrs Granger.
"Yes, madam. He promised he would see that we come to no harm!" cried Harry's aunt.
"Petunia, it's Jane," she said it in a soothing tone, in the way she would talk to people afraid of the dentist.
As Jane was trying to calm down Petunia, Tonks quickly proceeded to attempt an unbinding spell. She hadn't expected it to work, especially, not first time. Again, this had seemed far too easy.
Petunia got to her feet and shook her clothes as if concerned about dust from the house sticking to them. She mumbled "Thank you" but was looking at her rescuers a little suspiciously, giving away the fact that she was still scared of magic, no matter how much it had helped.
The sense of relief caused by the release of the hostage came quickly to a halt.
"Help! Fleur has been hit! She's bleeding! She's two months pregnant!" yelled Bill.
"What?” Jane Granger although brave as her daughter, was not prepared for that.
Jane and Tonks rushed to the base of the stairs. Hermione remained in the kitchen trying to comfort Harry's aunt.
Lying backwards half way up, bleeding profusely from a multitude of what looked like serious injuries to her face and chest, was Fleur.
"Bellatrix Lestrange got her, with Septusemptra. She's still upstairs, someone go and give her her dues!" shouted Bill. "I'll stay with Fleur!"
Jane Granger didn't hesitate. She rushed towards Fleur's side and she and Bill began hauling her down the stairs. Above, a wand held by a black clad hand aimed downwards.
"Avada Kedavra," yelled a female voice. Bill, holding Fleur, and Tonks took cover but Jane Granger was hit and toppled down the stairs. She lay as if asleep, her lifeless eyes staring at the ceiling.
Tonks fired Stunners upwards at Bellatrix but missed.
"Anyone else wants to die? It would be my pleasure. Just come up these stairs, you blood traitors!" gloated Mrs Lestrange.
The Death Eaters were still waiting for Potter and nothing other than his capture could satisfy their thirst, anyone else was just a token.
Bill was cuddling Fleur, hoping beyond all hope that she would be alright, trying out healing charms to no avail. Everything had happened so quickly and now, for him, time seemed to have stopped. She had been hit really accurately; the curse must have ruptured an artery at least. He tried the blood replenishing charm but it was useless. He held her hand, which was cold and inert. He kissed her very softly trying hard not to cry. He searched with all his heart for an encouraging sign coming from her eyes. It wasn't there and then he knew; she was dead.
Hermione came out of the kitchen. "Mum! Fleur! What's happened?" She raced to her mother's side but Tonks grabbed her quickly from behind and held her very tightly.
"Bellatrix killed them. Go back to the kitchen before she kills you too!" she whispered in a forceful but not unsympathetic way. Hermione screamed horrified. Tonks put her hand to Hermione's mouth urging her to be silent.
"Our priority now is to get out of here alive," she whispered "there'll be time to grieve later," she told her mournfully.
Alastor Moody and Hagrid came to the foot of the stairs. "Left side is clear. McGonagall got 'it by Dolohov, Merlin knows what with! 'e Disapparated before we could get 'im," announced Hagrid.
"Lestrange is up there. She's killed Fleur and Mrs Granger!" yelled Tonks.
"Confrigo!" shouted Moody using the spell again. There was an explosion upstairs. A female voice screamed. Then there was a loud popping noise.
"Attack!" Moody ordered. Tonks and Bill charged up the stairs followed by Hermione.
Tonks and Bill then turned right. "Dammit, she's Disapparated!" Tonks had no choice but to accept.
Hermione sat on the floor in the downstairs living-room for a moment, trying to compose herself, to gather strength. She then got to her feet. Things had come so far that, she decided, if they were to fight a proper war and the other side were using Unforgivables, so should they. To hell with it all! And the Killing Curse for that, if she ever mustered the strength to be able to cast it.
"The blood of a young female..." Fenrir Greyback - who had been lurking around the ground floor for a while unnoticed - muttered, his eyes fuelled with gluttony. He widely opened his voracious mouth and Hermione knew then that he was ready to attack her. She reacted quickly.
Hermione's curse was interrupted by Severus Snape, who had come from upstairs but, to Hermione, seemed to have appeared from nowhere.
"You don't have the will to cast that, Granger," he pronounced superiorly. "But I do!" he added grabbing Greyback by his robes and throwing him into a corner of the room disdainfully. The Potions' Master's look upon the werewolf was so penetrating that it gave the impression that he was giving Fenrir a silent order. Greyback lowered his gaze almost letting it show that he feared Snape's killing skills.
"Go to Hell, Snape. YOU MURDERER!" She looked at him intensely, true hatred in her eyes, almost overlooking the fact that Snape had in all probability saved her life.
"And I thought I'd just found you trying to become one too," he said without a trace of emotion.
"THIS IS DIFFERENT! I'm on the right side!" yelled Hermione.
"This is all subjective, is it not?" Now, get the fuck out of here, promptly!. Before I have to kill you! And Merlin knows I do not want to,’’ Snape hissed into her ear, conveying very clearly how urgent the matter was.
"Potter isn't here, we are wasting our time!" the former Potions Master yelled at Fenrir.
There was a cracking sound and on that note Snape, holding Greyback against his will, Disapparated.
"The house is now secure," confirmed Tonks a few minutes later, after having had a proper check.
Hermione run back into the room where she had left Harry's Aunt.
Meanwhile, drunk or not drunk, Harry had realised he had been Stunned by Moody and was bloody furious. One of his worst nightmares had come to pass; that something would happen at the wedding. Yes, they had been clever, it wasn't the chateau, or the Burrow, it had happened elsewhere and he had enough sense left in him to see that they had wanted to provoke him. But, had they known his relationship with Petunia had improved? And if so, how? Only a few, very few trusted people knew about that. Were any of them under the Imperius Curse or worse, was one of them a traitor? Then he realised that, unless he was careful, he would turn into another Alastor Moody before he could say Quidditch!
The charm had now lifted and both Harry and Ron seemed to have sobered up a bit and were waiting. This wait felt, to both boys, far worse than being involved in action.
"Right everyone, let's get back to The Burrow," concluded Moody. At his feet laid Minerva McGonagall. She was breathing shallowly and was unconscious. He carried her back.
The remaining Order members and Petunia had now got back too.
Last of all, Hagrid, a forlorn figure carrying the bodies of Fleur and Mrs Granger Apparated into the Weasleys’ back garden fighting off tears.
"Thanks for bringing my mother," wept Hermione, who had just arrived back herself. "She was a Christian, she would have wanted a proper burial."
Hagrid carried the casualties upstairs, whilst Hermione remained in the garden, not really wanting to talk with anyone.
Petunia felt at a complete loss for what to say to anybody. After all, they had managed to rescue her and at a great price but, hadn't it been for the state of their world, none of this would have happened, she reasoned.
Ron and Harry heard a commotion and went outside to find out what it was. It was so soul destroying to see the wedding decorations still up, the marquees still in place. The musicians had now left but no-one had bothered to even clear the snacks laid on the tables.
"Hermione! What's happened!" screamed Ron, when he looked at her face.
Hermione had hardly the strength to reply. Petunia did instead. "Fleur is dead, so is Hermione's mother."
"You can't be serious?" said Harry, his eyes locked into hers.
"Of course I am serious." She paused for breath. "And, by the way, the man you all blame is not the man you think," she added, as if talking in riddles.
Hermione started to walk briskly indoors, into the lounge.
"Hermione?" Ron was now seriously worried about her and ran into the house to catch up with her.
He gave her a big hug and almost immediately he found she had passed out in the living-room couch. Nothing could make her wake-up. It would have been too painful.
Harry thought about it. When his parents had died, he had been barely one, he couldn't remember, it couldn't have registered. But, Hermione ..., her mother had acted like a hero, she should be proud of her! But, so had Harry's mother, and she met the same end, the same bloody end. To think that a few hours ago, all he wanted to do was marry Ginny! Even his own aunt, a Muggle, had been targeted!
"Sorry, Aunt!" Harry said approaching her politely. He felt once again struck by feelings of guilt. All they had wanted was him, just him, he thought.
"Your friend told me, about some weird man rendering you incapable but the fact is you were drunk!" Petunia replied giving him a disapproving look.
'It was a wedding, we were all a bit drunk. Well, luckily not all. I won't ever get drunk again until he is dead, I bloody won't!" and he hit a garden table so hard that it almost split.
"Now you. What happened? From the beginning!" asked Harry looking at Mrs Dursley in a suspicious way.
'I went to collect the car back from the car park," she sobbed. "I'd been shopping. It all went black, I don't know what happened after that, but I think the man your mother knew, the dark haired fellow, made it easy for me and for your lot."
"You mean Snape? He…he's the one who killed Dumbledore, the old man, as you call him!" Harry was now hyperventilating.
"We must contact Uncle Vernon and Dudley!" insisted Harry
"No, your uncle would blame me, for having ever had anything to do with your world, he wouldn't understand.” She seemed truly scared. “Vernon would panic. It's best if they think that I have been involved in a minor car accident, but that I'm fine now."
Car accidents seemed to have become a universal cover-up for anything caused by the Dark Arts in Petunia's little world.
"'For God on Earth, Aunt, they must be dead with worry by now!"
"You don't see it do you? You silly boy! And, you, you were never there to protect me as you promised!" she complained, looking as if she was actually blaming him for the whole episode.
"Moody put a spell on me!"
"'I know about the bloody spell!" Harry had never heard his aunt swear before.
"Someone staged that, don't you see?" explained Mrs Dursley "And he didn't want me, or you, or your little friends killed. Your friend's mother and the young woman were casualties he could not prevent."
"You mean Snape again. Did you know him before? Please, IT'S IMPORTANT!" Harry was extremely surprised to hear his aunt speak of Snape like that. It was almost scary.
"He visited your mother a couple of times. I went out with him a couple of times, nothing really significant."
"Bleeding Norah!" Harry didn't expect this. He just couldn't cope with this information.
"So, you believe he wouldn't see you harmed and told the others to get out of the way? Why did he use you as bait, though?" Harry counter-argued.
"I guess because he had to," said Petunia feeling clearly uncomfortable with the topic.
"So, you're a witch?" Harry asked bluntly looking for confirmation.
"No, Harry. I will never be that," she clarified with pride.
"Very well. The end of night chronicle is that, Jane Granger, Hermione's mother is dead, and that so is the bride, Fleur."
"And, and... her unborn baby," added Petunia timidly.
"This just gets better by the minute!" snapped Harry venting his anger with irony.
"Did you collaborate with Snape? Did you allow them to kidnap you, for the sake of old days?" Harry questioned staring deeply into her eyes, looking almost evil.
"No, and no and NO!" she shouted.
"Sorry, we shall continue this tomorrow. For the moment, I am going to see how one of my best friends is taking losing her mother and how the host family, and indeed the groom, are taking their own loss. Good night!"
Harry, after leaving his aunt, proceeded towards the kitchen. Remus and Molly were so deep in conversation that they didn't notice him.
"This time I will kill. I am no longer standing by Dumbledore's nonsense that if we use Unforgivables we would be as bad as them. My beautiful NEW DAUGHTER and her baby, MY FIRST GRANDCHILD! She doesn't know what she's done YET!" Mrs Weasley yelled.
"No, Molly, she doesn't," replied Lupin sounding either too tired or too void of emotion. We suspected something and protected the Burrow, as you well know. Now, had we allowed Harry to go there, they could have probably got him. That's what they wanted. That's probably why they went so mad killing everyone," muttered Remus "because they didn't get Harry!"
"Well," Harry interrupted, "they can bloody well have me and stop all these killings. NO MORE! I'M GIVING MYSELF UP TO THEM!" he shouted with great determination.
"DON'T BE A FOOL. If you do, they've won!" shouted Ginny who had come into the kitchen looking for him, as she had sensed that he was bound to be blaming himself yet again.
"You rather everyone else dies? Is this it? As long as they don't kill me, everyone else can die?" exploded Harry full of guilt.
Ginny threw at him a very hard look, which Harry truly resented.
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