Chapter 7 : You Can't Stop Us Now
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Chapter Seven: You Can’t Stop Us Now
“So, this is where we have been able to trace them too.” Kingsley said as they were on the outskirts of a small village. Several people were following him, and they all looked at each other.
“So they can’t be too far from here?” Ron asked hopefully.
“Maybe, or we could be off by several thousand miles. They could be long gone, and there are all sorts of things that could be gone. But, this is the best lead that we have.” Kingsley said. It had been two days since Harry’s disappearance and frankly everything was looking hopeless. There were a couple of people who were hoping for a ransom note, but without any sign of one, they figured that there only plan was to torture and kill Harry. Of course they were going to kill him, Ginny thought, it would be stupid otherwise. The rogue Death Eaters had no use for money, they wanted Harry dead, as simple as that. There only hope was that they would keep him alive enough so that they could find him.
“Over here!” Hermione squeaked and beckoned towards a group of trees.
“Yes?” Kingsley asked as he strode towards her his tall body striding majestically. Even if he wasn’t officially the Minister yet, there was no doubt in everyone’s mind that he was going to become it.
As they entered the trees several had been burned and in a small clearing it looked like there had been a small fire.
“That’s no fire.” Charlie spoke up. “That’s wand burns.”
“How would you know.” Ron said and there was no mistaking the quiver in his voice.
“It,” Charlie looked at it as if trying to find the words. “Doesn’t have the signs. Fire burns more in circles and waves, and all of these are straight.”
“Correct.” Kingsley said. “And by the looks of it, it’s a Stunning Curse. Many Stunning Curses.”
“How can you tell?” Mrs. Weasley asked.
“Well, there’s,” Kingsley started and then stopped. “That’s not important now, but with enough training you can figure out what spells are and what they look like. This means that they were here, at some point. There’s a small village not far from here, so let’s go around on the outskirts. Anything that’s suspicious, call me with a Patronus and we’ll see if we should go poking around. Don’t go alone.” Everyone nodded and they set off.
“Ginny.” Hermione whispered and beckoned her. “Let’s go together.”
Ginny nodded and followed. Hermione led the way and they were winding in and out of various small forests. “I’m scared, Hermione. I really am.”
“We all are. Everything seemed so safe, but then, it just happened. And Harry, he was just recovering from everything.”
“All of the grief?” Ginny said though it wasn’t really a question.
“You should have seen him.” Hermione said, shaking her head, “Actually you shouldn’t have. He was so bad. Completely hungover and it looked like he was getting through several bottles a day.”
“He was just drinking himself to death?” Ginny asked, the thought of Harry just drinking and sleeping scaring himself.
“I can only hope that’s all he did.” Hermione said. “Poor Kreacher. He was trying to help him, but Harry had pretty much made it impossible for anyone to come in.”
“How?” Ginny asked.
“Well let’s not look into the past.” Hermione said trying to wave the subject away. “You see anything?”
“Nothing that looks like a moderately good hiding place. They couldn’t have been out in the open. If a stray hiker found them and they killed them, then they would have more than just wizards on their back.”
Ginny nodded and for the next couple of minutes they walked in silence, only the cracking of twigs heard. “How are your parents?” Ginny asked.
Hermione frowned when Ginny asked but went on, “They are good. Our house had so many things thrown around, but they didn’t really take anything that my mum would get mad about. After seeing the house, all of their anger dissipated knowing that I probably did the right thing.” During the week that Harry was gone Hermione had gone down to Australia to find her parents. Ron had tried to go with her, but Hermione promised a short trip. It took her five days, but she came back much tanner and in better spirits and had decided to move out of the Burrow. This didn’t improve Ron’s spirits but she came over just about everyday, and if she wasn’t at the Burrow, Ron was at the Granger’s.
They continued in silence when a familiar lynx patronus came into view. Kingsley’s deep booming voice echoed, “Follow the Patronus. It will lead you to a place that we believe would be a good hiding place.” The lynx took off and the girls ran after it, breaking twigs and trying to follow it as fast as they could. They got out of the small forests and followed it up a hill, down another, up another, and as they were panting and completely out of breath, they see a small group of people next to a large house.
“Must be it.” Hermione says in between breaths. Ginny only nodded, and they started to walk.
As they approached, upon further examination the house is in a state of extreme disrepair. Weeds are rampant, ivy up the walls, a shed looks as though it might fall into itself, and there are windows broken. Trash is everywhere, and there seem to be several stones missing.
“Can they see us?” George asked Kingsley who were admiring the house themselves.
“No, well not really. I cast a Disillusionment Charm but it’s not very good because of the large space that it has to cover. It won’t completely give us away though.”
“Did you use muffliato?” Bill asked.
“What?” Kingsley said.
“It’s a sort of silencing charm. Harry used it all the time while he was staying with us. Here.” Bill got out his wand and performed it. “Now they won’t be able to hear anything.”
“Nice one, I’ll have to remember that.” Kingsley said. Kingsley motioned for the several Aurors to come over and Ginny zoned out as they went over certain aspects of the mission. The few Aurors that could be spared were there, but lots of them were taking time off to be with their families and rebuild, or were injured.
All of the sudden, a letter appeared in front of Kingsley. Mumbling, Ginny watched as he picked it up, and his half-smile turned into a frown and his worry lines deepened.
“What is it?” Mr. Weasley asked.
Kingsley just stared for a moment, and then muttered, “It seems my secretary told the Prophet that Harry was missing for a large sum of money. The Prophet just released a special edition and now the entire country knows.” Kingsley’s anger was evident.
“It was bound to happen.” Mrs. Weasley said her voice growing softer.
“Maybe, but I wished that we had him.” Kingsley said.
“If we get him tonight,” Bill said, “You will certainly be Minister.”
“And if I don’t.” Kingsley said, and as no one answered, he began to give out assignments. He didn’t address any of the Aurors, for it seemed that they all knew what they were doing. “Arthur, Molly, Bill, you follow O’Brien here with,” Ginny zoned off slightly as said their names. However, she was paying enough attention, to know that he didn’t call hers.
“Kingsley?” She walked up to him questioningly.
“I knew you would come.” he said and then added, “But I knew that your mother and father wouldn’t approve. So, you follow Hermione and Ron, and be careful. If anything happens to you, I’m going to be skinned alive.” She nodded and joined Ron and Hermione.
The plan was that several of the Aurors were going to breach the place and then lead the search. If anyone was there, then there would be a fight, but if they didn’t come out, or if there wasn’t anyone, well, then everyone would just be there for no reason.
Carefully, the first groups converged on the home, and it didn’t take much for the door to be broken. For several, long seconds, there was silence, and then there were an eruption of curses. They had found something.
The rest of the teams quickly followed, and as Ginny entered the building, it seemed a fire had started. She quickly jumped over a body, hoping it was not someone that she knew, and followed Hermione and Ron. They were, much better at this than her, but she did get several Stunning spells out.
“Stupefy!” Ron shouted and lead the way through what used to be a kitchen. They ducked down a counter.
Hermione leaped up, and then yelled, “Reducto!” At some unsuspecting man. They traversed through several rooms, and before long they reached the back door. It was wide open, and several men were fleeing in the distance.
“Cowards.” Ron muttered and they thankfully saw no one carrying anybody. If Harry was here, he was still there.
They fought through several other rooms, the men were getting less and less. The fire had been put out, but the smell of smoke and the haze was still very much there making it difficult to see. The found some stairs going down and as they bounded down, Ron raised his wand at the three at the bottom of the stairs.
“Wait!” Ginny said and grabbed her brother’s hand and sent the spell flying upwards. The sudden unbalance caught them both off guard and they tumbled down the stairs.
“Well, well, well.” A voice said and the speaker crept out of the shadows. Hermione raised her wand.
George started to laugh, and then helped both Ginny and Ron up. “Well, my dear brother, I think we need to get your eyesight checked.” Ron scowled and started to brush the dirt off of him. “We have this man, and after searching him, it appears he has Harry’s wand, but no key. This door,” George signaled to the door that the man was lying next to, “Has some interesting wards set up.” The other two were looking at it, and muttering spells under their breath. It was Charlie and Hestia Jones.
“I think we need Bill.” Charlie said and pocket his wand. “I have no idea.”
“I’ll get him.” Ron said and ran up the stairs careful not to trip.
“So you think he’s in there?” Ginny asked. George nodded and after several moments of silence, Ron came down with Bill and Kingsley.
“This door.” Hestia said and Bill began to prod at it with his wand.
“Good work.” Kingsley said. “We have identified all of the witches and wizards and it seemed that they were mostly minor Death Eaters. Several were a bit higher, but some, we found no connection to Voldemort.”
“What about us?” George asked. “Are we alright?”
Kingsley sighed. “I wish. It seemed that we lost one.”
“Who?” Charlie asked exchanging a glance with George. They both needed to know that it wasn’t another family member.
“An Auror. It seems that she caught most of a blast from the first spell. She died protecting everyone else.” Kingsley said. “Her name was Christina Strong.” The silence followed was only pierced by Bill.
“I’ve got it!” The door squeaked open, and inside, lay Harry. Dirty and very thin. He was sitting with his hands and legs bound and the fighting had awoken him, but he looked like he was barely living. There was another silence, and then Ginny ran to him.
“Oh Harry!” She said as she ran to him.
“Please, uh, please be, careful.” Harry sputtered. “I’m, I’m hurt.” That, Ron later decided, was the understatement of the century.
Kingsley summoned clothes, and Hermione cut his bounds. As they helped Harry dress, there were plenty of footsteps heard above.
“You need to go the St. Mungo’s.” Kingsley said, as he and George supported him. “You’re in luck, because we have some medi-witches above.” The brought him out of the room, and carry lifted him up the stairs. He was then put on a stretcher, and several MLEs were there taking several of the witches and wizards to the Ministry. They saw Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, who engulfed them all in hugs. Everyone approached Harry, but they were warned that he was in a lot of pain and could not be touched.
Somehow, the Daily Prophet had figured out where they were and started to take pictures of everyone and everything. It seemed that everything was happening so fast, and Ginny, trying to hide her tears, buried her head into her mum’s shoulder. At least Harry was alright, she thought, at least he wasn’t dead.
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