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Chapter 18 : Chapter 18: The Rescue.
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Harry returned to the atrium. He wondered if Hermione was still at Saint Mungo’s with her parents. He decided to pay a visit. He left the ministry through the old toilet exit, and apparated across London to the hospital.
“I’m looking for Hermione Granger, is she here?” he asked the receptionist. She looked up at him, her hazel eyes performing the usual flick up to his forehead.
“You’re Harry Potter,” she said matter of factly. Harry gave a small smile and nodded. “Yeah, she’s up on the fourth floor,” she said absently, returning her attention to the paper beneath her desk. “I think she’s just talking to her parents, you should be okay,” she said, giving him a swift smile. Harry nodded and took the stairs-he’d had enough of lifts.
The last time Harry had been to the fourth floor of Saint Mungo’s, it’d been an uncomfortable experience, as it’d been the first time he’d met Neville’s parents, both of whom had been driven insane by Bellatrix Lestrange in the First Wizarding War. Harry truly hoped he wouldn’t have to relive a similar experience any time soon. The ward, however, looked empty, apart from one, dotty looking witch with a Saint Mungo’s uniform on. Harry approached her slowly-she didn’t look all there.
“Erm, excuse me,” he said gently. As expected, she gave a small jump of fright.
“Merlin’s beard, sorry there dear boy,” she said kindly. “I must’ve dozed off,” she laughed, before seeming to finally take in Harry’s appearance. Her mouth formed a perfect, comical ‘O’ shape, not unlike the one of Xenophillius Lovegood had made when he, Ron and Hermione had called the previous Christmas. “Oh Mr Potter!” she squealed excitedly. Harry cringed inside-he didn’t think he’d ever get used to the attention. “I assume you’re looking for Miss Granger?”
“Yeah, she’s a close friend, I doubt she’ll-“he began, but he was cut off when he was hit by what appeared to be a bushy haired bombshell. “Bloody hell Hermione!” he gasped as she winded him, hugging him tightly. “I saw you this morning!” he said, patting her awkwardly on the back. The dotty old witch seemed to realise a private moment was going on, and wandered off down the corridor.
“They remember!” she squealed excitedly. “Just now, we got a breakthrough!” she said, beaming at him. Harry held her at arm’s length.
“That’s fantastic!” he said, returning her wide smile, making a mental note to tell her about the mornings events with Gawain at a later point. She was too happy to worry now. “How are they?” he asked. Her smile flickered for just a second.
“They’re a little in shock. Dad’s taking it fairly well, but Mum…she’s quite angry,” she added. “I was about to send Ron a patronus, asking him to come help me get them home, but you can help instead.”
“Oh,” said Harry in surprise. “We’re taking them to the Burrow?” Hermione nodded.
“I asked Molly and Arthur when we got back. They said they’d find room, since my Mum and Dad don’t have anywhere to go for now, until we can put charms on their old house,” she explained. Harry nodded.
“I suppose, if Grindelwald targeted them once, what’s to say they won’t again?” he asked, more to himself than Hermione.
“Exactly,” she replied. “Hang on, I’ll get them,” she said, trailing off and letting go of Harry’s waist. “Mum, Dad,” she said nervously as she opened the door of a private room. “You remember Harry, right?” she said. Hermione’s dad, Niall, peered around the corner.
“Ah, I remember,” he said. “So you’re the reason I spent nearly a year convinced my name was Wendell?” he grinned. “I suppose I should be thanking you,” he said, wrapping one arm around his daughter’s shoulders and extending his other hand. Harry took it, and shook it warmly. “Hermione tells me you’re the one who brought down this Lord Volde-thingy,” said Niall. “If I knew anything about magic, I’d be impressed,” he said, winking at him. Hermione’s mother, so similar to her in looks, came out of the room.
“Is this Ron sweetheart?” she said absently, searching through her handbag. Harry turned pink.
“No Mum,” said Hermione patiently. “Ron’s ginger, remember? This is Harry, my best friend and Ron’s sister’s boyfriend,” she explained, slightly wary. Helen Granger looked up, her handbag swinging from her arm, ignored.
“So this is the ‘famous Harry Potter?’ Pleasure,” she said scathingly, giving Harry a look so reminiscent of the one her daughter gave when she was angry with Ron, that he almost laughed. He just managed to catch himself-he felt he was already in enough trouble.
“Nice to see you again, Mrs Granger,” he said nervously. “Urm…how are you?” He knew instantly he’d made a mistake-he’d known Hermione long enough to pick up signs of when she was angry, and her mother was just the same.
“Oh, I’m just bloody fine,” she snapped. “Brilliant, in fact. Why, just this morning, I remembered my name isn’t Monica, it’s Helen, and I have a daughter who just happens to be a witch! And that she went gallivanting across the country with two boys and made us forget who we bloody are, for our own safety!” she finished, almost screaming. Harry instantly sprang to Hermione’s defence-she looked close to tears.
“We weren’t ‘gallivanting,’” he said shortly. “We were trying to destroy the most powerful dark wizard that the world has ever known. And we succeeded, mainly thanks to Hermione,” he admitted. Helen still glared at him coldly. “This wizard murdered my parents, years ago. You think he wouldn’t do the same to you, if he found you. Hermione saved your lives, hiding you like that. You should be grateful. Exceptionally so,” he finished, breathing heavily. “Not many people would be able to do what she did,” he added. Helen Granger had a different expression on her face now, one that Harry couldn’t quite work out. She sniffed slightly
“Niall, come on,” she ordered briskly, turning back into the room. “Let’s get the rest of our things, and we’ll go.” As they returned to the little private room, Hermione gave Harry’s hand a tight squeeze, and kissed him on the cheek.
“Thank you,” she whispered, before moving to help her parents pack. Being Hermione, she’d done it with a couple of flicks of her wand. “Right. Dad, you’re going with Harry. Mum, take my arm,” she ordered briskly, holding out her arm. Helen took it, looking apprehensive.
“You sure it’s not too bad?” she asked nervously.
“Oh no,” said Hermione, avoiding her mother’s gaze. “it’s perfectly pleasant.” She was using the tone Harry knew meant she was lying. There was a loud crack, and the two had disappeared.
“It’s horrible isn’t it?” said Niall.
“Awful,” replied Harry. “Take my arm, and hold tight,” he said, extending his left arm. Mr Granger gripped it tightly, and Harry spun on the spot, taking Mr Granger with him through the swirling blackness and the tight rubber tube, before reappearing just outside The Burrow’s protective charms.
“Okay,” grumbled Niall, who was now bent over double. “That was worse than I was expecting,” he said, and promptly vomit. “Sorry,” he mumbled.
“Don’t be,” said Harry, patting him on the back as he passed. “Most wizards vomit the first time, it’s not unusual,”
“Can’t think why anyone would want to do that again,” replied Niall darkly. “I certainly don’t plan to.” Harry chuckled.
“Neither did I, but it’s useful. Still, you’re a mu- you’re non magical, so you probably won’t be doing it much,” he pointed out as they walked up the dusty driveway to the house. Niall was looking up at it in astonishment.
“Wow,” he whispered. “It looks like it’s held up by magic,” he said, taking in the bizarre appearance of The Burrow. Harry laughed.
“That’s what I thought the first time I saw it,” he replied. “Then I realised, it probably is.” Niall paused for a moment, and then shrugged his shoulders in acceptance. The entire Weasley family-George, Percy, Charlie, Ginny, Ron, Molly and Arthur, were gathered in the kitchen, along with Hermione and her mother.
“Right,” said Hermione, adopting a professional tone. “Now we can do introductions. Mum, Dad, these are the Weasleys-Charlie,” she began, and Charlie gave a casual wave. “George,” who winked, naturally. “Percy,” who shook Niall and Helen’s hands pompously. Niall looked rather bemused at Percy’s overzealous attitude, but shrugged it off. “Ginny,” who shot them both a dazzling smile that made Harry smile slightly. “Arthur and Molly, who you’ve met,” she continued, indicating the Weasley parents.
“Hello,” said Molly in a friendly voice. Arthur nodded his greeting and shook hands with Niall before kissing Helen on the cheek.
“And this,” said Hermione, dragging a reluctant looking Ron forward. “This is Ron,” she said, slightly nervously.
“Ah, so this is the famous Ron,” said Niall jokingly. “Nice to meet you son,” he said, shaking Ron’s hand warmly. Helen simply smiled.
“Oh,” said Hermione. “And that over there is James and Lily Potter,” she added, pointing over the crowd of Weasleys.
“Nice to know we’re not forgotten,” said James cheerfully. Helen looked at Harry and Hermione quizzically.
“But I thought you said-Good lord!” she shrieked, suddenly realised she’d just been introduced to a painting.
“Muggles then?” said James cheerfully. “Yes, I can see how this would be a bit of a shock, although not as much as swallowing a fly,” he said, grinning at the expression of Helen, who’s jaw looked very much like it might hit the floor any second.
“James, don’t be rude,” said Lily reprovingly. “Lovely to meet you,” she said sweetly, flashing them both a smile. Helen’s jaw opened and closed several times mechanically.
“Harry,” said Ron suddenly. “Can you come upstairs for a moment? I need to ask you something.” Harry looked at him questioningly, but Ron didn’t elaborate, instead urging Harry upstairs. Harry shrugged slightly and followed him up, all the way to Ron’s room at the very top of the house, just below the attic.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, noticing Ron looked both nervous and embarrassed for some reason. “Spit it out,” he said encouragingly, trying not to remember the argument that had ensued the last time he’d said those words.
“You remember when you asked why I needed money, from George?” Ron said quietly. Harry nodded. “I didn’t tell you the other reason.” Harry stared at him, utterly confused, waiting for him to continue.
“And?” said Harry after a moment. “Are you going to?” Ron swallowed deeply and nodded.
Gawain had summoned all his Aurors to the office. He paced the floor in front of them, somewhat like a tiger confronting its prey.
“Alright,” he began, speaking slowly. “We’ve received intelligence that a certain Draco Malfoy is willing to help our cause,” he said. Several of the Aurors assembled muttered their surprise. “I admit, I was surprised myself, but the intelligence comes from a reliable source, and I feel it would be a grave mistake not to act on this information.”
“What if it’s a trap?” pointed out Wilfred Savage, who Gawain had promoted to be his second in command, as he was the most senior Auror left in the office bar Dedalus, who he didn’t trust with the responsibility.
“We have to take that risk,” growled Gawain. “This information could be vital to taking down Grindelwald. Something I want to do quickly, since he’s moving against us far too fast for my liking,” he argued. Wilfred shrugged.
“So what’s the plan?” asked Luke Proudfoot.
“I’m working on it,” replied Gawain. “But I’m going with the principal of a distraction. If we can draw their attention away from the front of the manor, then we can get a message to Draco ordering him to leave,” he explained.
“We could use a barrage of spells on the wards, like the Death Eaters did at Hogwarts?” suggested Hestia. Gawain considered it for a moment.
“Good idea Jones,” he said appreciatively. “Now, who can send a patronus message?” he asked. Hestia and Dedalus raise their hands. “Right,” he said, irritated. “The rest of you, learn. Hestia, Dedalus, one of you is going to need to send a patronus to the Malfoy boy, and get him out.”
“I’ll do it,” said Dedalus. “I’m getting too old to be in a full scale battle, leave the sneaky part to me,” he said confidently. It was a confidence Gawain was not particularly sure he shared, but then Dedalus had been an Auror for far longer than him, so he must be good at his job.
“Thank you Dedalus,” he replied. “Get him out as quick as possible, then send us a patronus so we can evacuate. I want this quick and clean, okay people?” he barked. “No mistakes.”
“Yes Sir!” chorused the assembled Aurors. “When are we going, Gawain?” asked Ben Williamson.
“Immediately,” replied Gawain. “This information could be vital to our cause, we need it as soon as possible. Anybody know who’s on watch for the Order today?”
“Bill and Fleur,” prompted Hestia. “They relived me this morning.” Gawain nodded his appreciation.
“Thanks Hes-Where the hell is Dawlish?” he snapped angrily. But Dawlish was nowhere to be seen.
“He said he had to go to Saint Mungo’s this week, something to do with all the Confundus charms,” replied Ben, clearly trying to stifle a laugh. Gawain grunted in annoyance.
“We’ll have to work without him then,” he said shortly. “Right everyone, move out!” he ordered. The Auror office had a special ward on it that only allowed the Aurors themselves to apparate in and out, so everyone turned on the spot and disappeared.
“You sure they’re here Gawain?” said Hestia as they reappeared outside Malfoy manor’s wards.
“Positive,” replied Robards. “Kingsley put a member of the Magical Law Enforcement squad on watch here when we were at Azkaban, he saw Grindelwald, Malfoy, Rookwood, Yaxley and Rowle leaving. Obviously we didn’t know where they were headed until we were tipped off, by Malfoy juinor, presumably.”
“Brilliant,” replied Hestia, drawing her wand. “Should we begin?” Gawain eyed his Aurors, as they cast disillusionment charms on themselves.
Draco cowered in his room. What the hell was going on? He could hear Dolohov yelling frantically at the Death Eaters in the Manor.
“THE AURORS ARE HERE!” Dolohov roared. “TO THE SOUTH, DEFEND THE MANOR!” he heard footsteps charging past his door, and his mother burst through the door.
“The Aurors are here,” she said unnecessarily. “Stay here, they won’t get in,” she said confidently, before slamming the door and charging off down the corridor. Behind all his fear, Draco couldn’t help but scoff. Of course he was going to stay here, he wasn’t going to go and fight, was he? That was hardly his style. He peered out of his window, and could see the ward protecting the manor from the curses being thrown at it. However, he couldn’t see the casters of the charm-they were too far around the corner.
As he looked, he noticed a silver light streaking towards him. He ducked, but the light simply leapt into his room, whereupon Draco noticed it was actually an enormous, snorting bull. He recognised it as a patronus, although he didn’t recognise the shape.
“Meet me at the manor gates in two minutes,” it said to his surprise. “We’re here to get you out.” For some reason, Draco trusted the shining bull-it wouldn’t harm him. He slipped out of his bedroom door, checking the corridor for any sign of life. There wasn’t any.
“Alohamora,” he muttered, and his owls cage burst open. “Find me!” he told the owl, who hooted dolefully before spreading her majestic wings and sailing gracefully out of the window. Keeping his wand out, Draco picked his way quietly through the manor. He could hear the sounds of battle raging, as the Death Eaters fought the Aurors from the house. Their spells could pass through the protective charms, so they had a reasonably easy job, providing Grindelwald’s charms held.
Which, Draco reasoned, they probably would. A sudden thought struck him: if Dolohov was directing the defence, where was Grindelwald? He shrugged to himself as he walked. That didn’t matter. He needed to get out. He’d made his choice- he didn’t want this anymore. He reached the front door, allowing his fingers to brush over the carved oak. Would he ever see this place again? It was a difficult thought, and Draco impatiently brushed away the tears. This was no time for weakness. He pushed the door open and hurried down the drive to the front gates. Gellert’s magic allowed him to slip silently through them. And he was free. No more darkness, no more killing.
“Expelliarmus!” came a voice, and Draco’s wand flew out of his hand as he was hit by a jet of red light. He barely had time to react before he was hit by a full body bind curse. He fell, slowly, helplessly, crashing hard into the ground.
“Sorry,” said the spell caster, who was still not visible.” I’m under orders, see. Hang on…Expecto Patronum,” he said, and the silver bull charged off once again, over the manor this time. “Don’t worry, we’re on your side now, I suppose,” said the voice kindly. Draco saw a strange, fuzzy disturbance to his right and realised that his ‘rescuer’ was here, under a disillusionment charm. A hand gripped his arm tightly, and then they were spinning, the familiar, horrible sensation of apparation. Then, with a small pop, they reappeared. Looking around was difficult, as Draco could only see the ceiling. A series of pops announced the arrival of other wizards.
“Unfreeze him,” said a gruff, unfriendly voice.
“Yes sir,” said Draco’s rescuer, slightly hesitantly. “Finite,” he muttered, and Draco felt his muscles relax. He pulled himself to a sitting position, and found himself with six wands pointing directly at his face.
“Nice to see you too,” he said sarcastically. His bravado was a total show-inside, he was terrified.
“We won’t hurt you if you don’t do anything stupid,” said the gruff voiced wizard curtly. He held out a hand. “Gawain Robards, head of the Auror department,” he said. Draco took his hand, and Robards hauled him to his feet. “Harry Potter informed us you have some information for us,” he growled.
“For him,” Draco corrected. “I’ll speak to Potter, nobody else,” he said firmly. He couldn’t take the chance-any one of these Aurors could be the traitor that Rita and Grindelwald so often discussed. Robards looked furious.
“You’ll speak to me if I ask you too,” he said quietly, and dangerously. “We risked our necks for you back there.”
“The information concerns Potter, and Potter alone,” Draco replied with a calmness that he wasn’t feeling. Robards glared at him for a moment, then nodded.
“Hestia!” he roared, causing Draco and the Aurors to jump.
“Right here Gawain,” said a pretty young witch with curly black hair and pink cheeks. “No need to shout.” Gawain didn’t respond to the remark.
“Go to The Burrow, fetch Potter. Bring him to the cells to question this…weasel!” he barked.
“More like a ferret if you ask me,” said the man who had rescued Draco (he recognised his voice.) “Did Minerva never tell you?” he asked over the roar of laughter. Gawain gave him a fleeting smile, as Draco blushed furiously.
Harry stared at Ron blankly, unable to think of what to say, although Ron looked at him expectantly. Harry managed an odd splutter before he got to speech.
“That’s-brilliant!” said Harry, clapping him on the shoulder, and Ron beamed at him. “When’d you decide?”
“In Australia,” replied Ron. “When you saved her from Grindelwald, I guess I realised how important she is to me,” he admitted. “I-I-thanks Harry,” he stuttered nervously.
“Anytime,” smiled Harry. “I’d do anything for you and Hermione, you know that,” he said reassuringly. “So, you’re working at George’s to make enough money for a ring?”
“Got it in one,” replied Ron with a sheepish grin. “It’ll be much quicker when we start working for the Aurors, but there’s no harm in starting is there?”
“Very mature of you,” Harry said wryly. “What’ve you done with the real Ron Weasley?” Ron chuckled.
“He’s still here, don’t worry,” he said, looking happy. “So you think I should do it?”
“If you think so,” Harry replied. “I’d say so. You two have loved each other for years, you were both just too bloody proud to admit it,” he laughed. Ron glared at him.
“I know!” he groaned. “Don’t remind me or I’ll turn you into a tea cosy,” he said, waving his wand threateningly. At that point, Ginny burst through the door.
“I don’t know what you two are up too,” she said suspiciously, “but Harry needs to come downstairs, Hestia’s waiting for him.”
“Hestia?” said Harry, puzzled. “I saw her only this morning,” he said as they half jogged down the stairs. Ginny shrugged.
“She wouldn’t say any more, says it’s top secret,” she said. “Whatever it is, be careful,” she warned, kissing him as they walked into the kitchen. (Ron looked away at this.) Hestia was standing in the kitchen looking rather irritated. Her expression warmed at the sight of Harry, however.
“Harry,” she said cheerfully. “Need you to come with me for a little, Auror business,” she explained. “It’s to do with what you dropped off this morning,” she added, giving him a knowing glance.
“The letter Malfoy sent?” asked Ron. Hestia sighed exasperatedly.
“Did you tell everyone?” she demanded. Harry nodded, abashed. “Brilliant. You need to keep things secret!” she said reprovingly, waggling her finger at him.
“They’re all in the Order,” he replied defensively. “And Ron’s going to be my partner when we join up,” he added. Hestia shrugged.
“Whatever, you’re all trustworthy I suppose. Take my arm Harry,” she ordered, holding out her left arm. “I’m taking you straight to the office,” she explained, in response to his questioning glance. He nodded, and gripped her arm tightly. There was the brief, horrible sensation of being squeezed down a rubber tube, before Harry’s feet hit solid ground. He recognised the room as the Auror office. “Follow me,” said Hestia briskly, striding through the office. “We recovered young master Malfoy barely an hour ago,” she explained.
“Already?” said Harry in surprise.
“Gawain thought it best to act quickly,” Hestia responded. “He reckons whatever Malfoy knows could be extremely important.”
“So why am I here?” Harry questioned. Hestia shrugged.
“For some reason, Draco’s refusing to speak to anybody but you,” she said, looking troubled. “He’s down here, in the cell block. Get him to tell you what he knows, and then report it all back to Gawain. He’s in his office, naturally.”
“Naturally…” Harry repeated slowly. Why would Draco want to speak to him? They hated each other. Still, it’d been Harry he’d written to…
“He’s in here,” said Hestia, stopping so abruptly Harry nearly walked into the back of her. “Good luck Harry, Gawain’s given him Veritaserum, so he can’t lie,” she said cheerfully, patting him on the back. “It’ll be a piece of cake.” Harry gave her a quick smile, before stepping inside. Draco Malfoy sat on a chair, across a desk from Harry.
Harry sat opposite him, taking in his old adversary’s appearance. He looked better than he had at Hogwarts the day after the Battle, but not much so. He still looked a shade greyer than his usual pale, and his silver eyes were misty, sunken. His hair, however, was now smoothed back in its familiar style, and he had the hint of the old, arrogant sneer playing on his face.
“Prove it’s you,” he said waspishly. Harry scowled at him.
“I stole your wand in April, at your house after your delightful aunt imprisoned us. I killed Lord Voldemort using it, and I returned it to you on the third of May. It’s ten inches, Hawthorn and unicorn hair,” he said coldly.
“Nice to see you too Potter,” replied Draco, equally coldly. “They told you I wanted to speak to you?”
“Obviously,” replied Harry scathingly, sinking into the seat opposite Draco. “What’s all this about, Malfoy?” To Harry’s surprise, the arrogance left Draco’s face. He suddenly looked vulnerable…and was that fear in his eyes?
“I don’t want to do it anymore,” he whispered. “I’ve had it with the dark arts. I just want to be…normal,” he confessed. Harry looked at him curiously. He seemed so sincere. “And…I wanted to repay you, for saving my arse in the Battle,” he added meekly. Harry almost grinned at this, but stopped himself. He didn’t want to betray any emotion to Draco.
“I’m assuming you do actually have something to tell me?” Harry enquired, slightly impatiently. Draco nodded, and then looked nervously around.
“You’re sure nobody can hear us?” he muttered. Harry raised his eyebrow at him.
“Muffliato,” Harry replied under his breath, waving his wand. It wasn’t a spell he felt Draco Malfoy should know. “There. Now they defiantly can’t,” he said firmly. Draco visibly relaxed slightly, slipping down his chair an inch or two.
“There’s a spy,” said Draco quietly. “A spy in the Auror department. Grindelwald and Skeeter are always discussing him, he was a contact of hers. Not only that, but they’ve got people in other departments, waiting for his word. He plans to take this place,” he said, waving his hand around erratically, “apart, bit by bit, until you’re unprotected. Then he’ll strike,” he finished dramatically. Harry looked at him, thunderstruck.
“You’re sure?” he demanded. “Any idea who it is?” Malfoy shrugged his shoulders.
“Not a clue, he only ever met with Grindelwald, Skeeter and Dolohov,” he explained darkly. “I just heard them talking about him a few times, in the corridors. But I’m sure, and all the information he’s given us so far has been correct,” he added, a little defensively.
“And the others,” urged Harry, “in the other departments, what about them?”
“I’m not sure, but they mentioned a woman in the Department of Magical transportation who has a serious grudge against you. Maybe you should check it out,” Malfoy suggested. Harry nodded slowly, thinking fast.
“It can’t be Gawain,” he said finally. “He’d have just brought me to Grindelwald when we were alone in Australia. Who got you out of the manor today?”
“Some little bloke,” said Draco offhandedly. “He had a big purple hat,” he added.
“Dedalus,” Harry said promptly. “So it wasn’t him, he’d have never brought you back. Have you been alone with any of the others?”
“Nope,” Malfoy replied simply. “Although the Auror they talked about was a bloke, I got that much,” he added.
“Not Hestia then…” Harry said slowly. So that rules out anyone in the Order, he thought to himself. “Anything else you can tell me?” Harry asked. Draco shook his head. “I’ll be off then,” he said, standing.
“Wait!” said Draco desperately. “You can’t leave me here, what if they get me?” he whimpered. Harry stared at him-he looked genuinely scared.
“I’ll sort it,” said Harry confidently. “Don’t worry,” he added, before leaving. Hestia was waiting for him.
“Well? What’d he say?” she asked immediately.
“Gellert,” said a voice. Gellert opened his eyes, recognising his old quarters in Nurmengard. Valko Dragonov was standing over him, looking concerned. “You’re awake,” he said.
“Obviously,” replied Gellert sarcastically. “How did you get in here?”
“I followed you in last night,” replied Valko. “Sabine said you shouldn’t have been left alone, you were too weak,”
“Smart woman,” replied Gellert, swinging himself out of his bed. He felt older than he’d ever felt. “The fiendfyre took it out of me,” he explained. “How many did it get?”
“Twelve,” replied Valko, giving Gellert an evil grin. “Not bad.”
“Not bad,” agreed Gellert. “I must return to England,” he announced suddenly. “Find Sabine, you two are coming with me.”
“Yes my Lord,” said Valko, bowing low. “I will go now?”
“Yes, now,” replied Gellert firmly. “We leave immediately.”
“You are sure you’re up to it?” Valko replied, a little nervously. Gellert glared at him, and Valko seemed to wilt before him. “My apologies...” he muttered.
“I’m fine, Valko,” Gellert replied coolly. “Find Sabine,” he said, turning his back on him. Valko recognised his dismissal and left the room. He sighed to himself. If only he’d thought to keep floo powder at Nurmengard, he wouldn’t be in this situation-he’d have been able to beat Voldemort to the wand, but instead, he was preparing for all-out war against the British ministry. Sabine and Valko returned quickly.
“You requested my presence, Grindelwald?” she said in her silky, mysterious voice.
“We’re leaving,” Grindelwald told her. “I must return to my followers in England, and we need to plan our next moves,” he explained. “The others will remain here,” he said, in answer to the question she was about to ask. He had always been a good legilimens. “Come, we will use the floo network,” he said, stepping into the fireplace. “Malfoy Manor!” he shouted, before being engulfed in the purple flames. Soon, he found himself in the study of the manor. Rabastan Lestrange was staring absently out the window. He gave a leap of surprise at Gellert’s sudden return.
“Grindelwald,” he said in surprise. “You’ve returned,” he said, recovering his composure.
“Evidently,” said Grindelwald sarcastically. “Where’s Dolohov?” he questioned. Rabastan looked nervous, for some reason.
“He-he’s in the drawing room, with the Malfoys,” he stuttered nervously. Gellert gave him a brief, curious glance, pondering his fidgety attitude.
“If you say so,” Gellert replied, striding past him. “Valko, Sabine, follow me,” he ordered, and the two hurried after to him, Sabine moving with a powerful grace, causing Rabastan to shrink back into the shadows. Gellert burst through the drawing room door, to see Dolohov and Lucius Malfoy standing five feet apart, bellowing at each other.
“He’s my son Antonin!” roared Malfoy. Narcissa was standing behind Lucius, crying her eyes out, her eyes puffy and red.
“He left of his own accord, you must realise that Lucius,” snapped Dolohov. “Grindelwald’s charms wouldn’t allow anyone else into the grounds!”
“Grindelwald must have made a mistake!” Lucius bellowed. “My son was kidnapped, Dolohov!”
“I made no mistake,” said Gellert darkly. Dolohov and the Malfoys both gave a start as Gellert swept into the room. “Explain,” he commanded quietly. Sabine and Valko stood either side of him looking foreboding. Dolohov swallowed nervously.
“The Malfoy boy, he escaped,” he said, ignoring Lucius and Narcissa’s protests. “The Aurors staged an attack, we went to the back of the house to retaliate, and Draco was gone afterwards,” he said, looking nervous.
“Get me Dawlish,” said Grindelwald instantly. “But urge him to cautious-he could be being watched,” he warned. Dolohov nodded, and gave Sabine and Valko a quizzical glance. “This is Valko,” he said, indicating Dragonov, who gave a slight nod, “and Sabine,” he finished. Sabine didn’t move, simply glared at him with her icy black eyes. “Valko is my second in command, Sabine is my enforcer,” he explained. “Dolohov, you are in charge of the Death Eaters here, you answer to me and Valko,” he said. Dolohov nodded.
“Pleased to meet you,” he said, not really sounding like he meant it. He shook Valko’s hand all the same. He moved to do the same with Sabine, but her expression seemed to put him off, and he tried to put it off as an awkward scratch of the head.
“Vise move,” said Sabine coldly. “This Malfoy boy, he is your son?” she demanded, setting her freezing gaze on Narcissa. She looked outraged.
“How dare you talk to me like that in my house,” she whispered furiously. There was a loud bang, and Narcissa was flung across the room, landing heavily in a chair, unconscious. Lucius gave a roar of surprise and went for his wand, but Sabine, who had already drew hers to deal with Narcissa, was far faster. Lucius’s wand flew across the room, and he found himself forced to his knees in a body bind charm.
“I said,” she said as though nothing had happened. “Is zee boy your son?” she repeated, emphasising each word. Lucius glared at her furiously. “Don’t make me have to persuade you,” she said darkly, pushing the tip of her wand into his throat.
“Sabine!” said Gellert sternly. “Remove the curse,” he ordered. Sabine glared at Malfoy for a couple of seconds, before lowering her wand. Lucius stood up instantly, dusting himself off.
“Yes, he is my son,” he replied stiffly. “Why?”
“I vant to know who to apologise to vhen I keel him,” she said, her eyes blazing with malice. Lucius gave a sharp intake of breath.
“You wouldn’t,” he said quietly.
“It is my job,” she replied calmly. Gellert nodded slightly.
“It is necessary, Lucius. If Draco has betrayed us, an example must be made of him,” he said simply. “Sabine is an enforcer. When I give the word, she will be the one to hunt down and kill Draco,” he said firmly. “It is unfortunate, that your son is a traitor,” Grindelwald added, almost apologetically.
“Please, Gellert,” said Malfoy, falling back to his knees. “Make sure he betrayed you. I feel Draco would never leave of his own volition.” Gellert looked Lucius up and down-he looked rather pathetic. It was a strange thing, love. But Grindelwald was not Voldemort-he understood love’s power.
“He will only be killed if we have absolute proof,” Gellert said curtly. “Otherwise, we shall do everything in our power to retrieve him. Have faith, Lucius,” he said, cuffing him gently on the face. “Valko,” he said, turning to his lieutenant.
“Yes my Lord,” said Valko, bowing his head slightly.
“Return to Nurmengard, keep our forces in order. You will await further orders there,” Grindelwald instructed. “Sabine, I’d like you to return here, your skills will come in useful, I have no doubt,” he said. Sabine, ever unblinking, nodded briefly. Gellert smiled as he returned to the manors second study, the one he used. His army would soon be ready; soon, he would make his move.
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