Chapter 13 : Battling Giants
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The world around me rises high
I run to every do or die
With all the fortunes, arrows and slings
I know I'm just a man in love
“Battling Giants”—Ben’s Brother
It had been four days since Kreacher had finally appeared with Mundungus Fletcher. It had not taken long to make him spill the secret of the locket’s whereabouts. However, they were dealt with a heavy blow as they were informed that the locket’s current owner was none other than Dolores Jane Umbridge. The hopes they had on attaining the locket easily were dashed as they realized that in order to get the locket, they would have to infiltrate the ministry which was possibly one of the most dangerous places for them to be in.
Much to Hermione’s displeasure, the trio began organizing a plan to enter the Ministry undetected. It all had to be mapped out perfectly; any error could ultimately prove deadly. Through The Daily Prophet, they found out that Harry was now a wanted man. Labeled as Undesirable number 1, there was a hefty bounty on his head. Ron and Hermione were not that safe either. Hermione had been listed as one of the many muggle-borns that had not shown up for questioning. Under the new order, Umbridge had been given the title as head of the muggle-born registration commission. This new title came as no surprise. The three of them had been front row witness to Umbridge’s feeling of superiority over centaurs; it would no doubt not be a far stretch to feel superior over magical blood. From now on, those that were not of a pureblood background were unfit to attend Hogwarts as they were believed magic thieves that were more often than not sent to Azkaban prison.
The overall feeling inside Grimmauld place was gloomy, and the weather outside didn’t do much to help the situation either. Having spent so many days without any word from friends was setting them on edge. It was that more than anything that made it all the more urgent to plan their way into the ministry. The faster they found Horcruxes, the faster hell would be over.
Inside the living room was the usual scene, Hermione sitting cross-legged on the floor pouring over one of her massive tomes she had brought along, while Harry was lounging lazily on the couch watching the snitch intently as it flew over his head. Ron was set to come back soon. Today had been his turn to gather any useful information they would need for flawless assimilation into the ministry.
As the rain continued to pound against the large windows, Harry turned his attention to Hermione whose brow was furrowed as her eyes darted back and forth as she read the pages before her.
“You reckon the death eaters are still out there?” he asked quietly.
“More than likely.” Hermione answered, still reading her book.
“Hermione?” Harry asked.
“Yeah?” she answered.
“I need to talk to you.” said Harry solemnly.
“Sure harry.” said Hermione attentively, hiding her locket back inside her shirt. She had unwittingly been playing with it as she read.
“The first night we came here…I got a pain in my scar.” Harry started.
“I had a hunch.” Hermione replied. “…you had a vision didn’t you?”
“Yes…”said Harry softly.
“What did you see?” Hermione asked.
“I was him, and he was angry. He was at your house and upset that Rowe and Dolohov had found the house empty…”
“And…what happened?” Hermione asked with difficulty.
“He took their wands and set the place on fire…I’m sorry.” Harry said sadly. “I wanted to tell you as soon as I saw but…I thought you had enough for one night.”
“That’s okay Harry.” said Hermione heavily. “I kind of assumed that after I saw their mark overhead…”
“You know the whole ‘I’m there for you’ speech you always give me?” Harry added after a long pause of silence. “It goes both ways.”
This time it was Harry who placed his hand on top of hers.
“I know you’re trying hard to stay strong Hermione, and I admire you for that but you need to talk about this.” He said soothing the top of her hand. “I’m not the only who’s bottling stuff in.”
“I appreciate you want to listen Harry but…it’s different.” She said turning away from him
“How so? You’re always helping me. Why can’t I return the favor?” Harry asked.
“It’s not important.” Hermione said dismissively. “The whole ministry infiltration thing is much higher in priorities than my feelings right now Harry.”
“Not to me.” Harry argued. “Hermione I’m not stupid. You’re ‘I’m fine’ answers may be easy for Ron to believe. But they don’t work on me.”
“What’s the point Harry? Talking about it won’t change anything.” said Hermione shakily. “What’s done is done. I did what I had to… Even if they do end up hating me for it.”
“There’s no way they would hate you.” said Harry soothingly. “They’d be so proud that you cared so much to make such a big sacrifice.”
“All I can think about is all the time I didn’t spend with them.” said Hermione, her tears getting the best of her.
“After all this is over, you will.” Harry reassured. “I promise.”
“I’m sorry I’m being such a mess, and I’m sorry I told you going to Godric’s Hollow was a bad idea.” said Hermione tearfully. “I know you want to see your parent’s graves, I was just afraid. My priority right now is keeping you safe.”
“I understand.” Harry said.
Hermione nodded her head softly.
“So…you’re letting him in again?” Hermione asked concernedly.
“Yes, and I know I’m supposed to block it but…I have a feeling this time it’s important.” Harry explained.
There was a commotion at the entrance of the door that could only mean Ron’s arrival. Sure enough, the tall red head came into view looking thoroughly relieved to be home as he took off the invisibility cloak.
“I swear if this doesn’t prove I have the makings for an Auror, I don’t know what will.” He said breathlessly as he collapsed onto a nearby chair.
Harry and Hermione rushed forward with anxiety.
“So…what else have you found out?” Hermione asked.
“Well, we know who Harry will polyjuice into.” Ron explained. “Albert Runcorn, he’s pretty high up in the ministry, I reckon he will come in handy, he has a lot of rapport with the Death Eaters without actually being one.”
“Excellent, with Harry being Runcorn and me being Mafalda, we’re bound to find Umbridge quickly.” said Hermione enthusiastically.
“Actually Hermione, I’ve been thinking that maybe it’s better you don’t come with us to the ministry.” said Ron nervously.
“What?!” she exclaimed.
“It’s just that, well, you’re almost as wanted as Harry. You’re top of the list of people who have not shown up for magical questioning.” Ron explained. ( pg 231)
“I know, so what?!” Hermione protested. “We’ve been over the plan for days. We know there are risks but we have to do it. There’s no choice.”
“Fine, then tomorrow morning, we’re infiltrating the ministry.” said Harry.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione were standing above the unconscious bodies of Albert Runcorn, Reginald Cattermole, and Mafalda Hopkirk. After much study, they came to know their exact position and ranking in the ministry and at least enough information to use if they were forced to talk to anyone else in ministry. It was with the aid of the Weasley twin’s Weasley Wizard Wheezes products that they managed such a feat as knocking three adult ministry wizards unconscious.
“Right.” said Hermione nervously. “Grab a hair and put inside the vial.”
The three individually stepped close to their victims and pulled a hair. Stepping back, they all took a collective breath as they watched the liquid turn distinctive colors once the hair made contact with the potion.
“Cheers.” They said in unison.
Together they all took a big gulp of their vial and immediately started shifting and morphing into their new counterparts. Harry shot up in height as Albert was much taller than he was. Hermione remained the same height, as her hair changed to a much lighter shade of brown. Ron got a little plumper and his red hair receded further back. By the end of it all they stood as exact replicas of the people they were impersonating. With a quick change of clothes, they became more convincing yet. They knew exactly what their counterparts did, and if they succeeded, in the end they would be one step closer in completing their mission.
As one, they stepped outside of the abandoned store, walking closer than ever before. Even though they had spent days and days going over their plan, it would still be foolish not to realize the dangerous thing they were about to do. Soon enough, they found a line extending out of a public bathroom. Due to their distinct clothing, there was no doubt that this was the entrance inside the ministry of magic. Nervously they took their respective places in line and hoped despartley that luck would still be on their side, atleast until they reached the locket.
Harry walked around and realized now the childish move they had made. They had been lucky enough to have entered the Ministry without any trouble. They hadn’t really thought of what they would do if they had to be separated, or even strategized an exit. Here they were, the most dangerous place imaginable for them to be in, without even an exact plan to be confident about.
He was alone. As soon as they had arrived at the Ministry, Ron had been forced to fix the office of a Deatheater Harry recognised as Yaxley. One of the men who had been up in the tower at the time of Dumbledor's murder. Then, not soon after, they had been unfortunate enough to run into Umbridge who took Hermione along with her too. Now he was in the Ministry, alone without a clue how to even begin searching for the Horcrux.
He walked around aimlessly until he stumbled across an enormous office filled with witches and wizards flicking their wand robotically on stacks of pamphlets. Trying his best to seem aloof, he walked closer and glanced down as he paced around slowly. The pamphlets were propaganda against muggle borns. It was clearly the idea of the new order that muggle borns were thieves of magic and were therefore not really magical. Harry felt his blood boil in a mixture of disgust and anger. Hermione was as much a witch as any pureblood. It was sickening to think that right now, she was in as much danger as he was if the polyjuice potion wore off. Especially since she was in the presence of Umbridge. He continued walking until something caught his eye. He felt a strange twinge in his stomach. Swiveling around the mahogany door right above Umbridge’s office plaque was Mad Eye Moody’s magical eye. Looking around to make sure no one was looking at him; Harry reached in his pocket and dropped a few detonators off on the floor.
Almost immediately, the collected order within the office when out the window as the detonators went off effectively. Through the hubbub Harry was able to extract Moody’s eye from the door and slip into Umbridge’s office unnoticed. Once inside, he was eerily reminded of the changes she had made to the defense against the dark arts office. Doilies and lace littered the room, as well as her decorative plates of moving cats. Harry rushed forward to the desk and opened up the biggest drawer. Inside, were more posters of his face as Undesirable number 1. Beneath, he found five files. The first two were of Sirius Black and Albus Dumbledore, both crossed out and underneath it were the words: Deceased. The next one was of Arthur Weasley; he had been labeled as suspicious and tracked. Ron’s was next. His supposed condition of spattergroit was listed but he was also suspected. Even though he knew Hermione’s file would undoubtedly be included, he had not been prepared for it. Sure enough, her file and her picture were also labeled as suspicious but unlike the other’s she was wanted for questioning. Underneath her scowling picture, was hefty reward for anything concerning her whereabouts. It wasnt a simple questioning like the other muggle borns, she was much more valuable because everyone knew her connection to him.Harry was regretting the idea to come to the ministry even more. After the unnerving feeling of seeing the files, Harry urged himself to look for what he had set out to find. The locket.
He tried everything, but the locket was obviously not in the room. Dejectedly, Harry retreated undetected as there was still commotion outside due to the detonators. He made his way cautiously down to where the courts were. It was lucky he had been in them before; he wouldn’t need to waste any more time walking aimlessly as he had done for Umbridge’s office.
“Psst Ron!” Harry whispered urgently as he spotted the balding red head who was really Ron.
“Harry!” said Ron. “Oh thank Merlin I just got through with Yaxley’s office, I tell you it was a mission and a half.” He looked at him curiously. “Where’s Hermione?
“She’s with Umbridge. I had no luck finding the locket.” Harry explained. “We need to get Hermione and try another day; we don’t know how long the potion will last.”
“Just in case, I think you should wear the invisibility cloak from here on out.” Ron suggested.
Together they walked as calmly as they could despite the urgency they were now finding themselves in. after a few strides, they found the hallways to the courtrooms. It was much colder than Harry remembered and outside it was a long line of wizards waiting nervously and whispering amongst themselves. Before Harry and Ron reached the door, it swung open. Two wizard guards were holding a weak wizard who was crying and pleading at them.
“Please, not Azkaban. This isn’t fair, I’m a Wizard. My father has worked here for years!” he cried wretchedly.
Harry shared an apprehensive glance with Ron. The saturation with the muggle borns was much more serious than they had imagined. With great difficulty they ignored the cries of the wizard and pushed open the door to the courtroom. The courtroom was much colder than the hallway had been. There was also an overwhelming sense for dread that Harry found all too familiar. Sure enough he looked up only to find about a hundred Dementors crowding behind an enormous white shield with little wisps that led down to the stands where Umbridge sat behind a silvery cat. Umbridge’s patronus.
“Who’s next Mafalda?” Umbridge asked sweetly.
“Uh…” said Hermione nervously shuffling through a stack of papers. “M-mary Cattermole.”
A middle aged witch stood up, shaking like a leaf. Her skin looked paler against her dark hair.
“Have a seat please.” She said in her high girl voice.
“Mary Cattermole, wife of Reginald Cattermole and mother to Maisie, Alfred and Ellie Cattermole. Is this correct?” She interrogated.
“Yes.” said Mary shakingly.
“Oh look there’s Reginald now.” said Yaxley in his gruff voice.
Harry pushed Ron forward underneath his invisibility cloak.
“Reg!” said Mary tearfully.
“Mary Cattermole,” Umbridge pressed on. “Upon arrival a wand was taken from you, to what witch or wizard did it belong to?” (p260)
“It’s mine!” Mary cried defensively. “I got it in Ollivanders when I was eleven. Just like everyone else.”
“That is a lie.” said Umbridge harshly. “It has been proven that only pure blood wizards are capable of magic.”
“That’s rubbish, muggle borns are just as good wizards as pure bloods.” Ron shouted.
“Shut your mouth Cattermole or you’ll be joining your wife in Azkaban.” Yaxley warned.
“Azkaban?” asked Mary terrified. “But I’ve done nothing wrong!”
“You are not a witch!” Umbridge said menacingly.
As she peered over the stand, a silvery item caught Harry’s eye. It was the locket. It had to be, he could feel it.
Harry took his opportunity as Mary continued to plead against Umbridge. He eased over behind the stands and stood behind Hermione.
“I’m right behind you.” He whispered. (p260)
Hermione tensed up at his voice.
“She has the locket.” He added.
Hermione looked discreetly to her right at Umbridge. There it was, the silver locket with a giant emerald S emblazoned on it.
“Reg, tell them I’m a witch.” Marry cried hysterically.
“Since you won’t say how you attained your wand and you have insufficient evidence to disprove your illegally acquired magic,” said Umbridge regaining her composure. “You leave me no choice but to—“
“Stupefy!” Harry yelled from underneath his invisibility cloak.
Umbridge slumped forward as everyone around gasped in shock and looked around. In his anger, Harry’s invisibility cloak had slipped off of him.
“Runcorn? What are you—” Yaxley yelled.
“Stupefy!” yelled Ron.
Yaxley too shared the same fate as Umbridge.
In all the excitement, Hermione took her chance to retrieve the locket.
“We’ve got to get out, now!” Harry said urgently.
“Hold on! I need to make a copy so Umbridge won’t suspect.” said Hermione hurriedly as she cast the spell on the locket.
“Reg, what’s going on?” asked Marry trembling.
“Listen, I’m not really Reginald.” Ron explained swiftly. “You need to get the kids and yourself out of the country.”
“What?!” she asked in confusion.
“Harry! The Dementors!” Hermione yelled.
“All right, all of you come with us, we don’t have time!” Harry shouted at the shaking witches and wizards inside the court.
Ron urged the muggle borns forward to the hallway while Harry waited for Hermione to catch up.
“Hermione come on!” Harry urged her.
Hermione placed the fake locket back on Umbridge’s neck and rushed forward to grab Harry’s unsteady hand. Harry pulled her urgently onto the hallway and into the crowded lift. Hot on their heels were the Dementors who had finally broken free from Umbridge’s patronus. They had made into the lift just in time but even then the Dementors were too powerful. They could feel the dread hanging heavily in their chilled air. One Dementor in particular got close enough to touch one of the muggle borns.
“Expecto Patronum!” Harry yelled.
Harry’s stag burst forward and knocked the Dementors backwards and the lift finally regained enough power to escape. Breathlessly, Harry looked down at his hands, they were morphing. He was turning back into himself.
“Oh no!” said Hermione as she looked at him.
“What is going on?” Mary asked desperately. “Aren’t you Harry Potter? You were—”
“It’s a long story Mary.” said Ron.
“Now listen, as soon as we get to the atrium, you need to rush home. Umbridge has probably already sent word on what happened.” Harry explained.
The muggle borns all nodded their head in agreement, all too shaken to speak.
Just as Harry had predicted, a loud siren-like noise was going off in the atrium. Wizard guards were running every which way. It was utter chaos.
Harry hastily covered himself with the invisibility cloak as the doors of the lift opened. All the muggle borns walked briskly away towards the fireplaces which were thankfully still open. Harry walked behind Ron and Hermione who were walking with their heads looking down.
“The Mudbloods have escaped!” shouted Umbridge’s shrilly voice.
Harry, Ron and Hermione couldn’t help but look back at her. Somehow her short stubby legs had managed to carry her through the flights of stairs between the atrium and the courtrooms.
Everyone stood still as they looked at her. Her eyes bugged out in outrage as she looked around.
“Well, what are you idiots waiting for?” she spat. “Go find them!”
The crowd dispersed, and just as Harry, Ron, and Hermione were nearing the fireplaces, Umbridge’s voice rang out again.
“Mafalda!” she yelled.
Hermione reluctantly turned around, the more casual she acted, the better off they would be.
“Why did you leave the courtroom?” Umbridge demanded. “Most importantly, why are you walking with Reginald?”
“You have something to do with this don’t you?” she asked, walking closer.
“No I don’t.” Hermione responded.
“You were helping his wife and all the other filthy mudbloods escape!” Umbridge cried. “You’re a blood traitor.”
“Dolores, I don’t---” Hermione gasped in mid-sentence.
“Oh no.” she whispered so only Harry and Ron could hear.
Hermione’s skin was wriggling in a way that only meant one thing: the potion was wearing off.
Umbridge immediately noticed.
“You’re not going anywhere.” said Umbridge grabbing Hermione by the arm. “Miss Granger.”
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