“Chapter Nine: The Siege”
It had been a month of bi-weekly Order meetings and pulling extra hours at the Auror office. During that time, there was not a peep from Cronus. People were growing anxious, fearing a large scale attack was eminent. There was nothing even from Draco Malfoy who had only been summoned to Cronus on several occasions to discuss plans to infiltrate Azkaban. No definite dates or means were discussed. Therefore, extra security measures were put into effect.
Fearing he would draw unwanted attention to himself and Dudley, Harry dropped out of his duty as a groomsman. He did not, however, decline to attend the wedding.
Harry’s eyes adverted from his reflection to see his godson lounging on the bed behind him. Teddy was growing restless because he was only allowed to be at the flat, the Burrow and Grimmauld Place. His cravings for information only grew. Harry knew that Teddy was picking up his facts secondhand through hushed whispers at the Burrow and shouting matches at Grimmauld Place.
At headquarters, Malfoy and Ron failed to get along. They often snapped at each other and slipped in snide comments every change they could during meetings. Harry vaguely wondered how Dumbledore put up with Sirius and Snape.
Snapping out of his reverie, Harry glanced at his godson’s reflection. The boy was rolling on the bed, half of his body leaning dangerously off the edge. Moony was long forgotten behind him but the eyeglass was clenched in his fist.
Harry adjusted his tie. The bottom flap was longer than the front one. Groaning inwardly, he started the process over.
“Can I go to the wedding?”
Teddy’s lips were pursed together in a pout. His eyes grew large and moist. Harry had no doubt that George had been teaching Teddy the fine art of getting what one wants.
“I wish you could, but it’s not safe.”
“You and Ginny are going!” Teddy pointed out.
“Just tell him,” Ginny’s voice rang.
Snapping his attention to the doorway, Ginny stood there in a little black dress with strands of pearls draped around her slender neck. Her vibrant red locks were curled in waves that hung elegantly around her features.
“Tell me what?”
Teddy bounced on the balls of his feet, his hands in front of him to keep his balance.
“Yeah, tell him what exactly?” inquired Harry.
“Something to put his mind at ease,” replied Ginny.
She crossed the room and settled herself next to Teddy. He immediately clamored on her lap and leaned back against her. Ginny and Teddy were quickly becoming inseparable. Harry spent so much time at work and, with the Quidditch season was slowly dying down as the European semi-finals were nearly finished, Ginny was often home and taking care of Teddy.
There was a tinge of guilt and jealousy that burned deep within him. He had not been there for Teddy in the last several weeks. Cronus had consumed his life and his work quickly became his number one priority. At the same time, he hated not being the one that Teddy would run to. More often than not, he would run to Ginny before seeking out Harry.
“What do you suggest?” questioned Harry.
He leaned backwards and the edge of the vanity dug into his back. Over the years, he liked to assume that he was getting better at being a parental figure to the tiny boy. It was something he had to work hard at because he did not know any warm, loving parental figures growing up. With Ginny, it came so easily to her. She knew exactly what to say and do to make Teddy feel instantly better.
“Tell him why Cronus is after us,” she said gently as her fingers ran through his hair.
Teddy glanced at Harry through lidded eyes. No matter how full of energy he was, fingers through his hair made him sleepy.
“That’s complicated,” he replied with a frown.
“Simplify it then.”
Harry ran a frustrated hand through his unruly hair. He did not have time to spill out the sob story that was his life. Not to mention, Teddy was only six years old.
“You know my parents died when I was a baby… it was because of me-”
“Don’t blame yourself,” snapped Ginny.
“I’m telling the story, Ginny.” Harry sighed. “He murdered my parents because of a prophecy.”
“What’s a prosophy?” inquired Teddy, his head lifting off Ginny’s shoulder.
“It’s a story that tells the future,” whispered Ginny.
“Lord Voldemort didn’t like this prophecy. So, he went after my parents to get to me. He wanted to kill me so the prophecy couldn’t come true. My mother died to save me so he disappeared for a really long time and I became famous.”
“You were famous ‘cause he couldn’t kill you?” Teddy asked confused.
“I was the first person to ever survive the Killing Curse.”
“There’s a Killing Curse?”
Harry glanced up at Ginny.
“Not everyone is nice,” she stated as she held Harry’s gaze. “Not all magic is good. There was an original Order of the Phoenix. Your parents fought for what was right. Now, Harry and I are fighting for what is right. Your godfather is the most powerful wizard in Britain… nobody can beat him so don’t you worry one bit about him.”
Teddy nodded, his eyes narrowed at he stared at his godfather as though he were about to accomplish some great magic that nobody had ever seen before. When Harry failed to do anything spectacular, Teddy slid off Ginny’s lap and padded down the hallway to his room. He was due at the Weasleys’.
Not wanting to attract any unwanted attention, Harry learned to drive a Muggle car. After sending Teddy thru the Floo, Ginny and Harry made their way to the parking garage. At the end, hidden away in the shadows, was a 2003 Bentley Azure Mulliner.
Ginny cautiously hauled her frame into the passengers’ seat, her fingers quickly buckling herself in. Her wand lay on her lap. Harry took his spot behind the wheel, the feeling still uncomfortable and foreign.
After the war, he asked Hagrid for Sirius’ old enchanted motorbike. He learned the drive and fly the bike. It brought back nostalgic memories of childhood dreams where the wind blew through his hair and tickled his skin. Ginny only agreed to go on the bike if they flew. She did not trust Muggle motorists.
“You’re sure you can drive in London traffic?” questioned Ginny as he twisted the key in the ignition.
“Why can’t we just fly the bike or Apparate? Nobody is going to notice if we lack a car.”
Slowly, Harry pulled out of his parking spot and eased back in the leather seat.
“Because we’re going to a Muggle wedding, Gins.”
“So, we could have flown the motorbike to Surrey and then landed around the block and drove.”
Harry said nothing as he pulled out onto the busy streets of London. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched as Ginny tensed in the seat.
“You’ve ridden in a Ministry-issued car plenty of times,” her countered.
“Yeah, but they’re enchanted like the Knight Bus so accidents are nonexistent. This car is not enchanted and you’re driving.”
“What’s wrong with the way I drive?”
Gripping the wheel, he sat up straighter to maneuver through the traffic. Suddenly, he felt self-conscious behind the wheel.
“It’s not so much how you drive but more so of how Muggles drive.” Ginny leaned forward and squinted out the front window.
“Just try to relax, okay? It’s just like flying a broom.”
Ginny eased back in her seat and watched the cars weaving through traffic. Her fingers curled around the armrest until her knuckles were porcelain. Slowly, she relaxed when accidents failed to occur.
Parking the car in the filled lot of the church, Harry gripped Ginny’s hand tightly and walked briskly to the front doors. Unconsciously, his eyes darted around as though he half expected Cronus to jump out from a tree or his lackeys to hurl Killing Curses at them.
The church was stuffy inside. Perspiration ran down the back of his neck and his bangs were quickly being plastered to his forehead effectively hiding his scar.
Aunt Marge sat up front, taking up a whole pew to herself. No one dared to squeeze in next to her. Harry tugged Ginny along to the middle section behind all of the Dursleys’ acquaintances and business associates. He did not recognize anyone except for Aunt Marge.
Glancing around the room, he scanned for his aunt, uncle and cousin. They were nowhere to be seen. Ginny huddled close to him, her fingers itching towards her wand to cast a cooling spell. Harry shot her a look when he saw it peek out of her clutch.
Turning around, Harry saw his red-faced cousin waddling towards their pew. Not far behind him were Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon. Harry stood up, reaching out a hand to drag Ginny with him.
Harry held out his hand and shook Dudley’s firmly. When the contact was broken, he gently pushed Ginny in front. She smile nervously at him and held out her hand.
“Ginny Weasley, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Uncle Vernon was looming behind Dudley, his beady eyes narrowed and mouth drawn in a thin line. Peeking out from behind him was Aunt Petunia who stared at Ginny suspiciously.
“Now, you listen here boy, there will be no funny business from you,” Uncle Vernon whispered with a porky finger pointed at his nephew.
“Dad,” Dudley said, “don’t. I wanted Harry here.”
“Ginny Weasley.” She stepped in front of Harry and extended her hand to his uncle. “You’ve met my dad and some of my brothers before.”
When he did not accept her hand, she withdrew it to flick her curls behind her shoulder. Her eyes wandered to Aunt Petunia and she smiled sweetly.
“Vernon, let’s take our seats,” Aunt Petunia said stiffly.
The two ambled away towards Aunt Marge. Dudley lingered behind, a lop-sided grimace dancing across his face. Harry didn’t exactly know why his cousin was trying so hard to have solid, familiar ties with him. It was odd to say the least but at the same time a silent blessing. Harry had family ties with the Weasleys but they were not blood. Dudley was his flesh and blood. There was a part of Harry that could not deny the small pit of joy that erupted in his stomach at the very thought of having Dudley be on friendly terms with him.
Dudley waved feebly goodbye as he marched down the aisle to the priest. Harry stood there, hands in his pockets, as his eyes wandered around the church once more. Aunt Petunia was craning her neck to stare at Ginny. When she caught Harry looking at her, she quickly turned around in her seat and waved at her son.
Ginny tugged Harry down into the pew. Her head rested on his shoulder as her fingers absentmindedly tickled his thigh.
The organ in front of the room burst to life and Harry only half-heartedly watched the wedding party march down the aisle. None of Dudley’s groomsmen were his old bullying friends from school. They were replaced with clean-cut looking businessmen. The bridesmaids were dressed in flowing lilac gowns and looked like cookie-cutter suburban girls.
The Wedding March began to play and Claire stepped through the wooden doors. She was tall, all legs and barely any torso. Blonde hair was twisted on the nap of her neck. Her pale skin illuminated brightly under the lighting. Blue eyes sparkled as she looked around at her friends and family. Her eyes landed on Harry and her head cocked to the side in confusion. Her eyes snapped away from him to glance up at Dudley.
The ceremony dragged on for a half hour. Harry squirmed in his seat at the heat that was baking down on him. Ginny leaned back, her legs spreading open slightly seeking for some relief.
After the rings were slipped on and the kiss planted, Dudley and Claire marched up the aisle arm-in-arm with large smiles gracing their features. Harry tugged Ginny up to stand so they could clap with the rest of the guests.
The reception was across the street at a swanky dining hall. The floor was cleared in the middle for dancing. All around the clearing were round tables for the guests with a large, rectangular table for the wedding party. Fine linens covered up the tables and large vases filled with flowers served as centerpieces. At the banquet table was a large, frozen sculpture of a swan.
Harry had no doubt that Aunt Petunia helped plan the décor.
“I can’t believe it was a sauna in that church,” Ginny hissed as she let Harry lead her to their table.
“I’m surprised that sculpture didn’t melt to death in this heat. If you would have just let me-”
Harry smiled warmly at his cousin and held out a hand to congratulate him. His gaze wandered to Claire who stared at him wide-eyed and pale.
“This is my wife Claire,” Dudley introduced proudly as he pushed her forward. “Claire this is my cousin Harry and his girlfriend Ginny.”
“You’re… you’re Harry Potter,” Claire whispered.
Her hands clamped over her mouth. Harry glanced at Ginny before looking back at Claire.
“What did you say?” he questioned.
“How do you know Harry?” Dudley butted in with his brows furrowing.
“My mother was Emmeline Vance,” she replied in a shaky voice. “She died when I was thirteen. I was three years behind you in school… a Ravenclaw. When You-Know-Who took over the Ministry, my dad knew it was only a matter of time before he came after the Muggleborns. He’s a Muggleborn so we got out of the country as fast as we could. I threw out my wand when I was fourteen before we got on the airplane.”
Harry could hear the blood pumping in his ears. He could not move, could not speak, could not do anything. Emmeline Vance’s face flashed in front of his eyes. He remembered her from his Advance Guard back when he was fifteen and remembered seeing her sporadically at headquarters. He remembered reading about her death in the Daily Prophet and feeling frustrated not because a life was lost but because Voldemort had one-upped the Order once again.
“I remember her,” he said softly once he found his voice. “She was in the Order of the Phoenix.”
“You’re a… a… witch?” Dudley uttered in hushed tones as his eyes darted around the reception hall.
“I was. I’m not anymore.”
Ginny stepped forward and pulled the younger girl into an embrace. Black, mascara tears ran down her porcelain face. Harry felt a knot twisting in his abdomen. He could not bear to look at Dudley.
After a quick trip to the ladies room with Ginny, the two girls walked back into the reception hall with large smiles on their faces and chuckles on their tongues. Extending a hand to Ginny, Harry led her to the dance floor.
Her body was pressed firmly against his. One hand lay comfortably on the small of her back and the other clenched her hand into his. They had gotten used to dancing together with the numerous Ministry social events that they attended. Each time, Harry felt like he had won the lottery. All of his worries seemed to slip away when Ginny was in his arms.
Ginny leaned her head forward to rest comfortably on his chest. He laid his chin gently on top of her curly red head. Looking around the room, he saw Dudley cautiously dancing with Claire as though he thought he would squash her feet with a misstep. Not far from them, Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon swayed half-heartedly together. Large smiles graced their features as they excitedly chattered and stole glances at their son.
An aching twisted his insides. At his own wedding, he would not have parents that would beam proudly at him. He would have no godfather who would pat him on the shoulder and tell him to treat his wife right. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were the closest thing he had to parents. On his wedding day, however, they would be beaming at their daughter and not him.
The engagement ring weighed heavily in the pocket of his dress pants. He did not want to propose until after Cronus was taken care of. He did not want to make promises that he may not be able to keep. There was, however, an overwhelming urge to drop down on one knee in the middle of the dance floor and declare his love to the redhead in his arms. She made him feel things that he never thought possible.
She was perfect in every way. She was the final puzzle piece that would make him complete. Teddy adored her as well and she treated him as though he were her own. They could make a small, unconventional family together and be insanely happy.
The large chandelier above them shook violently. Harry and Ginny instantly stopped swaying to glance up. The crystals vibrated as the ceiling pulsed at the collar. Grabbing Ginny by the wrist, he tugged her out from underneath the chandelier.
“Get out of the way!” shouted Harry. “It’s going to fall!”
The couples scurried away, surprised shrieks emitted from their lips. Harry stole a glance at his cousin who was glancing up at the ceiling. His face lost all of its color. Turning back to the chandelier, a loud CRASH! sounded throughout the room.
Standing on the arms of the chandelier was Cronus. A smirk graced his features and his wand was clenched tightly in his right hand.
Harry pushed Ginny behind him and whipped out his wand. People were screaming and running for cover. Some were scampering pass Harry to get to the door. There was a loud BANG! from behind which made Harry jump and whirl around.
Witches and wizards ambled into the hall with wands out and white masks covering up their identities. His eyes glanced over the bodies trying to spot a tall, thin man with platinum blonde hair. Draco Malfoy was, apparently, absent from the raid.
Turning his attention to Cronus, Harry made sure his back was flush with Ginny’s. They were the only two who could take on a room full of crazies. Ginny was a fair fighter and could produce mean hexes. She was, regrettably, rubbish at complex and vastly damaging curses.
Plots and plans spiraled out of control in Harry’s mind. He was taught in Auror training to come up with all possible battle plans. The only ones springing to mind were dismal at best. They needed backup.
Silently, Harry waved his wand high in the air to release a vibrant, silvery stag from the tip. He galloped upwards and disappeared through the ceiling.
“Neat trick,” Cronus commented with a smirk. “Personally, I’d want my Patronus to have a bit more balls. Something enormous and vicious… certainly not a little stag.”
Harry pointed his wand directly at Cronus’ chest. He was itching to send a few good curses at the wizard but waited. He did not want to be the one to start the fight.
Ginny let out small grunt as she blocked a spell hurled at her. That was all Harry needed. Rounding on Cronus, he shot a Disarming Charm only to have it deflected. It was his traditional first move, an instinctive and practical way to go. In return, Cronus shot an Entrail-Expelling Curse at him.
Harry dove out of the way, only to see Ginny struggling with a mob of supporters gaining up on her. Multiple jinxes and curses were flying at her in rapid succession which caused her to put up defensive shields and reflect the spells. A lone Cronus supporter stood out of Ginny’s eyesight and threw a vibrant purple spell in her direction.
Waving his wand, the ice swan leapt to life and spread its wings. It flew into the line of fire. When the purple jet hit its body, the swan burst into rain.
Standing up straight, Harry shot a succession of several harmful curses at Cronus. Most were deflected easily. One, however, broke through the barrier. The curse was meant to make the wand arm immobile but, due to the barrier, it only made Cronus fumble for a few seconds.
While Cronus shook his arm out, Harry turned to Ginny who was being detained by several wizards. Their arms twisted around her midsection and her wand had fallen useless to the ground.
Raising his wand above his head, he swirled it in a circular motion before letting an orange spark fly out. Fire erupted and slithered towards Cronus’ lackeys rapidly. Ginny let out a squeal as the arms let go of her and she tumbled backwards towards the flames. The fire parted for her body to collide with the tile floor.
Turning his attention back to Cronus, Harry heard several men and women screaming in pain as the fire coiled around them.
“Taking quite awhile for the Order and the Aurors to arrive,” Cronus said in an almost bored tone. “I do hope that they hadn’t figured out this was just a distraction from the main event.”
Harry’s insides froze as his mind wandered to Azkaban. Cronus did not want Harry or Ginny or even Teddy at the moment. He wanted Azkaban Fortress. He wanted to spring his father from the depths of stone and brick hell.
Raising his wand above his head to send out another Patronus, the Killing Curse hurled towards him. Diving out of the way, he glanced back quickly at Ginny who was controlling the lines of fire he set to life. She was keeping the cronies at bay.
The furniture rose to the ceiling causing all the plates, food and centerpieces to tumble from the sky. The wedding guests screamed because a good half of them were hiding under the tables. With a wave of Harry’s wand, all the falling debris burst into confetti and trickled down to the ground.
Loud pops were sounding from outside of the reception hall. Back-up had arrived and the siege of Azkaban would start to take place. The front door was burst off its hinges and the Order of the Phoenix and Aurors stormed through the entrance.
Leading the pack was Odin Vidar who immediately hurled curse after curse at Cronus. Harry ran towards the group to get outside. He had to get to Azkaban.
A hand grabbed his elbow to stop him. Whipping around, Ron stood there with a puzzled look etched on his face. Harry only had to mouth Azkaban before his best mate followed him outside.
The rushing of Apparation settled but Harry felt nauseous as though it was his first time Apparating. The cold ground of Azkaban Fortress was covered in an array of dead bodies. Limbs twisted out in awkward directions, wands lay useless on the ground. The fortress which once stood tall and menacing on the tiny island was in disarray.
A large, gaping hole through the side of the building shone brightly. The bricks had made an avalanche into the sea. Black smoke coiled from the building, age-old magic seeping from the foundation at being broken. Above the crumbled brick was a bright green light in the sky. A snake slithered through the clouds escaping the mouth of the skull it was housed in.
“Bloody hell,” Ron said somewhere behind Harry.
Moving forward on jelly legs, Harry stepped over dead eyes and pale appendages in the dank Elysian Fields. He stood in the entrance of what had been Azkaban Fortress to see blood embossed on the cracked brick wall.
Your king is backed into a corner, Mister Potter, the wall read, Checkmate.
Sorry for the lack of updates. I was busy moving into my apartment, working rush weeks at my college bookstore, organzing club rush, attending sorority recruitments for my sorority, and not falling behind in classes so early in the semester. Thank you all for the continued support in my absence of updating. It really motivated me to write snippets anytime I had free time to spare these last few weeks. I apologize for the horrific grammar mistakes in this chapter. I will go back and edit it later but I wanted to give you faithful readers a chapter. All reviews were replied to and I ask you to leave a review for the new chapter. Your reviews were the only thing that kept me writing. :)