Chapter 3 : Except Malfoy
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Al awoke the next morning with a start. His room was filled with noise so loud he had to cover his ears. It sounded as though a hundred people were all screaming at once. It took him several moments to realize that he was alone in his room, but his sensors were going off like mad.
James had been right in saying that he’d set eavesdropping charms in all the rooms of the house, but he’d also placed a few outside. He wanted to be able to hear any news of Lily first, before someone decided they needed to sanitize it for him.
He groped for his wand on his bedside table and waved it furiously, muting the sensors. The voices subsided instantly and Al lay back on his bed, relieved. He couldn’t remember falling asleep the night before, but he must have done so at some point.
A bright flash caught his eye out the window and Al leapt out of bed to check what it was. He hadn’t caught anything from his overloaded sensors. A mass of people were gathered on his front lawn.
He couldn’t see exactly who any of them were, but he could make out both of his parents standing just outside the door.
Ginny was shaking as she stood outside. She’d only come out to find where Harry had gone to, but now she was frozen in place. The reporters had surfaced and they all wanted to know exactly what was going on.
“Mrs. Potter! How do you feel about your daughter’s disappearance?”
“Is it true Lily was abducted?”
“Did the Death Eaters have anything to do with this?”
“Mr. Potter, what can you tell us about her abduction?”
“Why did she run away, Harry?”
“Enough!” Harry shouted, attempting to bring the noise level down. “I will have the Ministry arrest each of you for trespassing if you don’t get off my property this instant!” A few of the younger reporters drifted back, but most seemed to ignore his threats.
“Tell us Harry, what’s the truth here?”
Harry felt a surge of anger towards the reporters. His wife was cowering by his side and he pulled out his wand, ready to curse the next person who asked him a question. He had just started to form the words in his mouth when a few loud cracks disoriented him.
Ron and Hermione appeared beside their friends with scowls on their faces directed toward the press. Hermione instantly put her arms around Ginny and pulled her friend inside while Ron stayed out on the porch with Harry.
“It’s all going be to alright, mate,” he said under his breath so none of the reporters could make out what he was saying. “Just put the wand down and let’s get inside.”
Harry’s arm shook, but he wasn’t about to let the blood thirsty reporters off the hook. They were like carnal beasts out to get any bit of information on the Potter family they could find.
“Harry,” Ron said again. He placed his hand on his best friend’s arm and helped him lower it. “Come on.”
Harry nodded and allowed his friend to lead him back inside. Hermione was sitting with Ginny on the sofa with a hard scowl on her face. “The nerve of those people! It makes me ill.”
“How did they know?” Harry asked numbly. It had been the first thing he thought when he found them outside first thing that morning. “This hasn’t been news. The Minister promised it would stay quiet.”
“Someone must have tipped them off,” Ron said angrily. “When I find the son of a bitch who did it-” He stopped when he noticed the look Hermione was shooting him. That was when he realized Ginny was crying silently, tears gently streaming down her cheeks. “I’m sorry Gin. We’ll make this better.”
She nodded sadly and Hermione wrapped a comforting arm around her shoulders. Ron pulled Harry out of ear shot of their wives. “So you think this was a Death Eater that we missed?”
“Couldn’t have been,” Harry said as he shook his head. “We got them all. Everyone with a brand was sent to Azkaban for life.”
Ron shot a glance at his wife and sister and pulled Harry even further away. “Every Death Eater except Malfoy. I know he was cleared since he was barely of age when it all happened and he told us everything, but something didn’t sit right with me about the whole deal.” Ron shrugged. He’d always thought Malfoy had something up his sleeve. No one gave him a second thought after he did a brief stint in Azkaban, but he’d always had his suspicions. Now if it turned out Malfoy had done something to his niece- heads would roll.
“You think Malfoy could have done this? He was always a slimy git, but kidnapping?” Harry thought for a moment. He didn’t really think Malfoy had it in him to do something this awful all these years later, but there weren’t any other leads on his daughter’s whereabouts and he would do anything to get her back. “Can you get the necessary paperwork from the Ministry?”
“I’ll meet you at the Malfoy Manor in two hours. We’ll take down this son of a bitch and get my Lily back.” He clapped Ron on the shoulder and left his best friend staring after him.
“Wait! Harry!” Ron jogged after him, unsure of how to break the news. “Penglaze isn’t going to like that idea. He’s a decent enough bloke, but-” He stopped, unsure of how to go on. Harry had never been fond of waiting on the sidelines, especially when it involved his family.
“This is my daughter, Ron!” Harry hissed through clenched teeth.
“Exactly. Look, I hate to it say, but Penglaze is going to view that as a conflict of interest.” Ron sighed and rubbed his head tiredly. “I know you want to go give Malfoy a shakedown, but if anything happens to him they’re going to blame you.”
“How would you feel if it was Rose?” Harry shot back. “If Rose was the one missing and you found out Malfoy might have her? Would you sit on your arse all day and wait for the Aurors to look for her or would you go out and find her yourself?”
Ron had paled considerably when Harry said Rose’s name. “D’you think she might be in trouble? If Malfoy got to Lily, Rose and Hugo could be next.”
Harry shook his head. He didn’t want to say as much to Ron, but kidnapping his daughter wouldn’t be nearly as symbolic as taking Lily. “Just get down to the Ministry. If Penglaze tries to stop me I’ll get the Minister to override him. He’ll just have to hope he can keep his job.”
“Harry-” Ron tried to say, although his cause was pointless. When Harry got it in his head to do something nothing would dissuade him. And he was powerful enough in the Ministry that no one could threaten his job security. They couldn’t justify firing Harry Potter, no matter what kind of protocols he broke.
Ron went back into the living and over to Hermione. “I’m off to the Ministry.” He turned to leave, then thought better of it and turned back. “Would you mind if I floo Rose and Hugo over here? With Lily gone I’m not sure I want them left on their own.”
Hermione nodded. “Of course not. They might be a comfort for poor Al.”
She went back to stroking her best friend’s hair as Ginny sobbed into her shoulder. Hermione would have loved to be able to comfort her, but she didn’t know how. If it was her Rose or Hugo missing she wasn’t sure she’d be able to get out of bed in the morning, let alone function the way Ginny had until she broke down.
A loud crack startled Hermione from her sitting position. She whipped out her wand and had it pointed at the intruder’s heart before she realized it was only her nephew. “What the hell is going on?” James asked. “There were reporters at my flat!”
“Ron thinks someone from the Ministry tipped them off,” Hermione said. She pocketed her wand and gestured for James to have a seat, although he only crossed his arms and remained standing.
“Someone like my father, perhaps?” He asked bitterly. When he noticed Hermione’s shocked look he rolled his eyes. “Don’t play stupid, Aunt Hermione. You work at the Ministry, you know what it’s like. No one cares about anything there unless it’s high profile. Best way to do that is get it on the front page of The Prophet.”
Hermione shot a warning look towards James when Ginny began crying harder. “You wouldn’t say something like that if you’d seen the look on his face earlier.”
“You underestimate my father.”
“I’ve known him since he started Hogwarts and he wouldn’t expose you or your mother like that,” Hermione said sharply. “And if you’re going to spread your bitterness around here maybe you should just leave. It’s not helping anything.”
James scoffed at her, but he wasn’t ready to leave yet. He wanted to have a few words with his father. “Do you know where Dad went?”
“Leave him alone, James,” Hermione said tiredly. She couldn’t handle James picking a fight with Harry, not now. “He’s distraught over Lily’s disappearance. Don’t make him feel even worse about himself.”
“Whatever,” James muttered. “I lived here until a month ago and it’s my sister that’s missing.”
Hermione closed her eyes briefly, as though in pain. “I apologize,” She said finally. “Our emotions are all running high, but we shouldn’t be fighting with each other. Please sit. We’re on the same side.”
For a moment it appeared as though James would stand his ground, but then he sank into an easy chair by the fireplace. “James.” James leapt out of his seat as his father’s voice. Harry sounded surprised to see him there. “What are you doing here?”
“Lily’s missing. I figured I should be around in case I’m needed, not that you care.” James glared at his father, a fury boiling in his gut. “You didn’t even bother telling me. I heard it from Aunt Hermione.”
Harry looked unsure of himself which he hardly ever was. His oldest son often did that to him. “You have a game tonight. I didn’t want it to affect the Cannons.”
“Bullshit,” James spat. “I’m their second reserve Chaser. What I’m feeling doesn’t affect the other players.”
“I don’t have time for this, James,” Harry said. He frowned at his son as he noticed something a bit off. His eyes were just a little too red and his breath smelled of something familiar. “Are you drunk?” Harry hissed.
James covered his mouth immediately. He hadn’t had time to brush his teeth that morning and should have guessed that he still smelled of firewhiskey from the pub the night before. “No! I may have had a few shots last night, but I swear I’m sober.”
“I really don’t have time for this,” Harry repeated. He wished his son would grow up and act more mature, find new ways to handle frustrations. “I have an urgent Ministry meeting to attend. Ginny? Could you help me with something?”
Ginny nodded and shakily wiped her eyes on her sleeve. When both she and Harry were gone from the room James dropped back into his chair. “Everything sucks without Lily.”
“Things will be back to normal when the Aurors find her,” Hermione said.
“So the Aurors have the lead now? The hit wizards are gone for good?” James asked. He didn’t know anything about the investigation. No one had come to question him or anything, which seemed like shoddy work in his opinion. He assumed it had just fallen through the cracks.
“I believe that was what Harry indicated,” Hermione replied. James watched her carefully, taking note of exactly how she sat, her hands folded in her lap. She looked calm and relaxed, not as though her youngest niece was missing.
“Can I ask you something personal?” James asked as he blushed a deep red that was nearly the same color as his hair.
Hermione raised an eyebrow. “Has my saying no ever stopped you before?”
James grinned ruefully back at her. A few years ago he wouldn’t have even asked for permission, he’d have blurted the question right out. “How do you and Dad and Uncle Ron stay so- I don’t know. Level headed, I guess.”
Hermione thought about the question for a moment before answering. “I wouldn’t necessarily call Harry level headed the way he’s acting now, but it comes from the war. When Voldemort and his Death Eaters were in power, devastating events happened nearly every day. You couldn’t afford to fall apart. I guess sometimes these reactions just become a part of you.”
“Oh,” James said with a slight nod. He couldn’t imagine being able to take news like that sitting down, but it made sense.
“James, if you think you feel as though you need to drink your pain away, maybe you should talk to someone,” Hermione said. She wasn’t sure how badly he would react to her words, but James only rolled his eyes.
“I had a few shots with Roxy and Freddie at the pub,” he explained. “That’s hardly cause for concern. I’ve probably done that a dozen times in the last month.”
Hermione sighed and nodded. She had assumed that would be his defense, but it was her job to ask. “Well if you do need to talk to someone-”
“Which I don’t,” James cut in.
“But if you ever want to I’m sure Teddy would love to help.”
James kicked his legs up and rested them on the corner of the coffee table in a defiant gesture. “The only thing I need now is a little nap, so if you don’t mind?”
Hermione sighed and waved her wand, casting a shadow around James’s still figure. She stood and decided to go see if her other nephew was faring any better. He hadn’t been out of his room since she’d been there and Al was sure to need a comforting hand.
James cracked an eyelid to watch her leave and felt a twinge of regret that he’d made her leave. Having a bit of company was nice, it kept him from delving too far into his own thoughts. Roxy and Freddie had used all their tricks to amuse him last night and Hermione distracted him for a bit this morning, and now for the first time since Lily disappeared he was on his own with his thoughts.
A/N: Here's the next chapter, just like I promised! This may be the first time I've ever updated something on time... Anyway, thanks for all the lovely reviews you guys left me on the last chapter! They really made my day! Especially the one that got the Stilman White reference!
Thanks as always to my lovely beta Richele_xo!
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