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Chapter 2 : Plans In Motion
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The following morning day dawned brightly. The sun was raised high, blindingly so, that it cast vivid beams of yellow light unto the earth. The sky was of a pristine blue with clouds virtually absent, only a few here and there occasionally blanking out the sun in their cruising passage. Beneath this heavenly display, a young man marched down the street; his hands were jammed into his pockets and the light jacket he wore was rolled up to the elbows. Small beads of sweat beaded his forehead and his brows were crinkled slightly in an attempt to fight off the gleam of the bright sun. A slight breeze brushed past him, playing with a few strands of his untidy jet-black hair and lightly raising the edges of the thin grey tee shirt he wore underneath the coat.
After walking for a few more yards, he made a sharp turn to the right and disappeared behind a tall brown gate that surrounded one of the many houses lining the street. As he made his way up the walkway, one of his hands surfaced from the pocket, revealing a set of keys. Harry whistled as he fiddled with them, looking for the uniquely shaped one that would unlock the front door to his house. He seemed to be having a bit of trouble, though, as he kept foraging. Finally, getting a little irritated, Harry took a quick glance to ensure no one was watching and took out his wand. He lived in a Muggle neighborhood so his magic was something had to keep under wraps lest he breach the secrecy law enacted by the Ministry of Magic. Once he was sure that he was secure, he aimed the piece of wood at the lock and whispered, 'Alohomora!', causing the lock to click and the door to swing open.
Stepping inside the house, he took a deep sigh and smiled, grateful for the Atmosphere charm he kept on his house so to keep it cool. It was especially perfect on a day like today when the sun was high and hot and the breeze was sporadic. Shedding his jacket, he walked deeper into the house and entered the living room. It was quaint and homely, nothing too lavish. The floor was covered in beige decorated tiles that were cool to the touch. Huge portraits of various deceased friends and past family members lined the walls, most of which were snoozing in their frames while others were simply absent. The furniture was minimal with only two couches on either side of an oak coffee table covered in more moving photographs and a few figurines. A vast entertainment center was set up in the corner of the room, holding a television set, a stereo, speakers, and a built-in Compact Disc rack as well as a Wizarding Wireless stashed on the side of the tube. Being half-Muggle, he greatly preferred to mix both sides of his heritage together.
Harry threw his jacket over the arm of one of the couches and took a quick look around. He immediately noticed that the room was in a bit of disarray. His magazines and newspapers, which he usually kept in a neat pile directly underneath the coffee table, were no longer arranged as such. Instead, a few were strewn along the tiled floor and an entire newspaper lay completely open and separated into various sections. When Harry looked down at one of the discolored sheets, a picture of Gwenog Jones, captain of the all-witch Quidditch team, the Holyhead Harpies, beamed up at him. He shook his head and continued to survey the room. Aside from that mess, a few of his musical discs were lying next to and on top of the stereo instead of on his CD rack, as he liked them. Harry rolled his eyes and sucked his teeth.
“Neville Longbottom!” Harry bellowed, walking over to the stereo.
Neville walked into the living room nonchalantly. He folded his arms and leaned against the edge of the nearest couch. At five-foot-ten, Neville stood a few inches shorter than Harry. His hair, a few shades brighter, was also a lot tidier than Harry’s and curly, making it appear shorter than it actually was. He was currently dressed in a pair of black trousers and a white button-down shirt which was cuffed up to his elbows – his normal work attire. He had obviously been preparing to head in to the Ministry where he worked. Harry still wasn’t sure what it was exactly that Neville did but he never inquired; Ministry business was supposed to remain in the Ministry.
Harry looked at his friend and housemate and raised an eyebrow. “What have I told you about putting my CDs back in place?"
Finally understand why he was summoned, Neville straightened and rolled his eyes. “That I should.”
“Exactly.” Harry aimed his wand at the items in question. Giving a swish and a flick, he said, "Wingardium Leviosa!" The CDs levitated into the air and Harry floated them towards the rack, resting them neatly into the correct slots. He then waved his hand at them while he glanced at Neville, almost as if to say, ‘See, easy right?’
Neville just shook his head at his best friend. "You're too much of a neat freak sometimes."
"And you aren’t neat enough."
Neville shrugged. “Well, if we’re done with the lesson here...” He turned and disappeared, obviously heading back to where he had been.
Harry rolled his eyes in response but instead of following at Neville, threw himself onto the couch. He wasn’t really upset at Neville’s carelessness; he just liked to keep things ordered. And as long as they’ve known each other, Neville knew not to take Harry’s admonishing seriously.
They had been close since forever, meeting around the same time as tragedy had struck the Potters. When Harry was approximately four years old, his little brother, David, had been kidnapped and killed. Then, his body had shown up sometime later, completely unrecognizable. Harry didn’t even want to fathom what could’ve been done to him to leave his brother’s body so indiscernible. Nevertheless, the murder had devastated his parents and, although he was so young at the time, Harry had felt the sting of the death, as well. After losing a brother, he had gained a friend in Neville and the two had been basically inseparable ever since.
The incident had also initiated a brutal and extensive war between his family and the Weasleys. He didn't remember much about them - just that, at one point, his parents had been on amicable terms with the family, only for it to turn into an extreme hatred. Now, a battle was raging and it was only a matter of time before the death toll continued to climb.
Suddenly thinking about the war, his family and the Weasleys led Harry to remember the previous night and the run in he had had with the sexy Weasley girl who had saved his life - involuntarily of course. Harry had been doing his usual research, trying to find clues and any hints about what had really happened that night his brother was killed, when he had stumbled into two men, well a werewolf and another wizard. Upon learning that they were there for the sole purpose of either killing him or kidnapping him, Harry had made a run for it, not knowing how he was going to make it out alive. Sure he was a wizard and a damn good dueler, but fighting a werewolf was a tough job and his first instinct had been to flee. So he had, only to end up straight into the path of the Weasley girl.
Not that he had complained much.
Harry smiled as he thought about her. She was absolutely gorgeous. He red hair looked so silky and soft and the urge to run his hand through it had gnawed away at him the entire time he had been talking to her. Her skin looked as smooth as milk and shined with a beauty only few women possessed. And then there was her face – striking. Her eyes, a deep shade of brown, had kept him locked in a gaze that he didn’t want to break from. He could’ve sworn she had been doing to the same thing to him, but he wasn’t sure. All he knew was that when she had started talking, hers lips had kept his focus. He licked his own lips, thinking about the many inappropriate thoughts that had crossed his mind when he had pinned her against the wall, rendering her unable to move. Oh, the urges that had passed through him were too numerous to mention and too dirty to reveal. If he ever met her again, controlling himself would be one tough job.
"So, what happened last night?"
Neville’s question drew Harry’s attention from his lecherous thoughts. The bespectacled man turned to look behind him, only to see that no one was there. He crinkled his brow in confusion until Neville called out his name. Realizing that the voice had come from in the kitchen, Harry stood and walked into that part of the house. Neville was standing by the counter, various types of food and condiments spread around him
"Still didn't find anything out?" Neville asked just as Harry took a seat on one of the kitchen stools.
He watched as Neville placed a slice of bread slathered in mayonnaise on to the plate followed by a slice of ham and two pieces of cheese. Harry shook his head in response and sighed, grabbing one of the olives out of a nearby jar.
Neville let out a low whistle just as Harry popped the small olive into his mouth. "Geez! It’s been twenty years and still there’s no kind of new information? That's really weird."
"Yeah, I know," Harry replied, chewing slowly. "It's almost like the truth just doesn't exist."
"Or," Neville mused, licking mustard of his thumb, "someone doesn't want it to be found. That’s usually the case when something's hard to trace. Someone just covered all tracks."
Harry pondered Neville's words for a moment. He thought about how he had been pursued and about how adamant Greyback and his wizard accomplice had been to get a hold of him. Swallowing the olive, Harry nodded his head. "You know, you make a very valid point there, Nev.”
Neville shrugged and gave a cheeky grin. “It’s been known to happen.”
Harry chuckled and picked up another olive. “You know the place where it's believed all of it happened?" Neville nodded in response and Harry continued, "Well, I was snooping around there, trying to see what I could unearth, when I was attacked by Fenrir Greyback and one other wizard I didn't know."
Neville’s head shot up and he stared at Harry, his mouth agape. "Are you serious?” Harry nodded and Neville gave another low whistle. “Greyback's really dangerous, man. How the hell did you manage to fight your way out of that?"
Harry shrugged, turning the olive in his fingers "I didn't fight. Instincts kicked in and I ran for it."
"You ran?" Neville froze in placing the top slice of bread on his sandwich and continued to stare at his best friend. "Harry, you're one of the best wizards in the world, an awesome dueler, and you ran away from a fight?"
"Like I said, it was instinct. I don't know why I didn't take out my wand and do a disillusionment charm or a stunning spell or some kind of defensive attack. It was like something in the back part of my mind told me to go, so I did. And by some strange circumstances, I ended up running into this girl's condo."
Neville shook his head and laughed. "Always some girl with you, isn't it?"
Harry laughed and dropped the olive back into the jar, closing it. "This girl was different though. She was a Weasley."
Neville, who had taken a bite of his sandwich, practically choked. Harry quickly stood up and thumped him on his back. Once Neville’s throat was cleared, he stared disbelieving at his friend. "A Weasley? Are you sure?" Harry nodded. "Man! Talk about getting into trouble."
"That's the thing. She helped me out.” Neville cocked an eyebrow and Harry shrugged as he sat back down. “Well, at least she didn't rat me out when she was practically bombarded for information."
"Strange. I'd think being a Weasley she'd be glad to help a Potter get killed.
"I don't think she knew who I was. She didn't recognize me. Or at least she didn’t give any indication that she did."
"That's shocking.” Neville took another bit of his sandwich, careful not to choke. “Everyone knows how the Potters look," he added in between chews.
"Well, she didn't and I didn't make it a point to tell her either."
The two fell into a contemplative silence, Neville eating his sandwich and Harry pushing the jar of olives around the countertop. Harry was busy wondering where he was supposed to go from here, when Neville broke the quiet.
"You know, if she goes back to her folks,” he said, placing his half-eaten sandwich on a napkin, “they could figure it out and come looking for you."
Harry nodded. That could very well be the case. But, then again…
"There’s something about her though,” Harry mused, looking past Neville’s head to the blank wall. “Something vastly intriguing."
Neville stared at his best friend, immediately recognizing the signs. Harry’s lips - whether he realized or not - were slightly curved upwards at the corners, as if he was ready to start smiling. His eyes were twinkling with a mischievous gleam and he could practically read the kinds of thoughts that were undoubtedly racing through the bespectacled man’s head. Harry was interested, and not just on a business level either.
"Harry, don't you even think about it!" Neville protested, knocking his friend from his contemplative state of mind. "She's the enemy."
"Yes, I know,” Harry replied, still staring off into space.
“So, then why does it look like you’re thinking about something that could get you into serious trouble?”
Harry finally broke from his gazing. “Because, Nev, I could use the fact that she doesn't know who I am to my advantage. I could get close to her. See if I could milk her for information and-"
"And if you get caught," Neville interrupted him, "you could get yourself killed and this war would only get worse.” Just as Harry was about to protest, Neville raised his hand and shook his head, silencing his friend. “Harry, you've already lost your brother, your mother's practically paralyzed from that duel two years ago and your family structure is crumbling from this battle. The last thing you want to do is to add fuel to the fire." Neville pat Harry's shoulder. "You don't need to do anything stupid that could make things worse."
“I guess you’re right in a way,” Harry replied quietly.
Neville sighed, knowing he hadn’t fully convinced his friend. “Anyway, I’m off to work. I still have some stuff to finish up from yesterday’s task before I get started on today’s charges.” He grabbed the remainder of his sandwich and headed towards the exit. “Later, Harry.”
After Harry gave him a curt nod, Neville walked fully out of the kitchen, leaving his friend to ponder his earlier admonishing. Harry watched as he left and rubbed his eyes. He knew Neville had a point. Things were really starting to take a toll on his family. He could tell that his mother was getting more and more miserable as the days went by and his father was getting dragged further and further along without any real intentions of stopping. But it was all the more reason why he had to find out the truth. Putting an end to this ridiculous war was all that mattered to him. And he had a very strong feeling that the Weasley girl could somehow help him uncover the truth. The only question was how.
The room was dim and cool. Figures, nearly indiscernible because of the lack of lighting, stood all around. Their bodies were all adorned in dark cloaks that made seeing them even more difficult. In the front of the room, a taller figure stood waiting, his arms folded in front of him. Greyback and the other wizard accompanying him entered the room, one behind the other. It was then, when they entered, that people’s focus switched from the front to the doorway. Fighting back the urge to scowl at the attention, the wizard led the werewolf deeper into the room. The door shut behind them with a loud clang and then a breathless silence took hold before it was interrupted.
The man who had been standing in the front of the room took a few steps forward. His face was covered with a black mask, obscuring his features completely. He exuded the familiar air of confidence and power that intimidated the entire room and added a touch more tension to the atmosphere.
"He got away, sir," Greyback replied. Groans erupted all around them but Greyback and the wizard beside him kept their eyes trained forward.
After a while, the man said, "What was the last thing I told you?" His voice remained eerily nonchalant.
"Not you, Greyback," the masked figure interrupted. He turned towards the other wizard who had tried his hardest to remain hidden and quiet. Taking another step forward, the man repeated, "What was the last thing I told you to do, Goyle?"
The wizard named Goyle looked frighteningly at Greyback then back at the masked man. His voice trembled slightly as he spoke, showing his fear. "T-to bring him back t-to you."
The man spoke quickly, his voice rising slightly. "Yes, I did. But I hear that you preferred to walk away without the Potter boy."
"Yes, sir. But, see, sir, we had run into the Weasley girl, sir. I didn't want-"
"You should have killed her then!" The man shouted, causing the young wizard to jump back and fall quiet. "The boy is slowly becoming a nuisance with his incessant snooping. I need him out of the way for my plan to work. In other words, I want him dead. Any obstacles to that goal should have been dealt with accordingly, regardless of who it was."
"But, sir. I thought that if we had caused a scene, she would have gone back to her family."
"Well, now she still can, can't she?” The man’s voice had risen considerably, booming throughout the room like thunder. Even a few of the other men not under scrutiny shook nervously as he continued. “There's no doubt that she didn't know who Greyback was so it won't be very difficult for them to track him down, now will it?" Goyle remained quiet, knowing that speaking would only make things worse. "You've jeopardized my entire operation."
Goyle opened his mouth to say something but Greyback stopped him. "We'll find the Potter boy, sir, and the Weasley girl. Of that, I can assure you."
"Oh, I know you will Greyback. Most definitely. You have not failed me yet.” The werewolf smiled, his mind reeling through the many deeds he had accomplished for his leader in the past twenty years. “As for you Goyle," the man added, refocusing his attention and taking out his wand.
Seeing the emergence of the wood, Goyle took a step back and widened his eyes in fear. "No, sir! Please! I'm sorry! I won't mess up again, I swear!"
He continued to plead desperately but his cries went unheard. Everyone in the room, knowing what was about to happen turned a blind eye to him. Stupidly, Goyle turned and tried to run towards the exit, thinking that maybe, just maybe, luck would be on his side and he would get away. But he knew it was a futile gesture. One of the guards grabbed him by his hand and roughly flung him back into the room, blocking the exit completely.
Aiming his wand at the wizard, the man yelled, “You never should’ve tried to run, Goyle. You only made it worse for yourself! Avada Kedavra!" A jet of green light shot from the tip of the wand and, just before it hit Goyle, the wizard let out a girlish squeal. The spell made contact with such force that he was knocked off of his feet and hit his head against the floor, cracking his skull in the process. It didn’t matter, though. He had been dead before he even hit the ground.
Turning away from the sight, the masked man twirled his wand in his hand. "Make sure you deal with our nuisances accordingly, Greyback," he said, walking over to another wizard who stood near a small table in the corner of the room. He raised a hand. “And I want Draco, here, to help you.”
Draco Malfoy – tall, well-built with almost ice-blonde hair - stepped out of the shadows. He was adorned in the same cloak as everyone else; his hair was slicked back completely and a malicious smile shone on his face, making his grey eyes appear dark. He nodded in acquiescence and walked over to where Greyback was still standing.
Smiling down at the two, the masked man continued to play with his wand. "You two,” he started, “are to bring me the Potter boy and the Weasley girl. If they cause trouble-" He paused then continued, his smile growing grimmer as his voice became deeper. "-kill them."
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