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Chapter 61 : Saviour II
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“They took her. They just… took her.”
Ginny sighed upon hearing her best friend saying the same thing for what had to be the hundredth time since they’d seen Mia walking off with the Carrows.
The two of them still stood on the line by the gates, waiting for their turn to leave the castle – every time it moved, Ginny actually had to push her friend forwards because she seemed to be too lost on staring at general area behind the iron fence surrounding the school where they’d last spotted Mia before she’d disappeared into the woods.
Ginny didn’t like it – she didn’t like it at all. Not just that Mia had been taken, likely for more than a chat, but also that her friend seemed so… absorbed by it. Of course, she had a right to be horrified by her mother’s potential kidnapping but, Merlin, Ginny could just see her going and doing something incredibly… rash. Something Ginny had no doubt she’d join one way or another. And, really, with all the Death Eaters looming outside, they were both doomed because of it… unless some liquid-aid interfered on their behalf, at least.
“Hey, whatever dumb thing you’re planning to do, save it for after the Felix, okay?” Ginny whispered to her friend, unceremoniously reaching into the pocket of Izzy’s cloak and shoving the little bottle into her hands. “And do it quickly because it’s almost our turn to go out.”
Izzy eyed her, then the bottle, slightly confused at first. The confusion lasted a mere second, though, as she soon uncapped the bottle and took a gulp – a single gulp, she reminded herself, in order to leave Ginny her share. When she handed it back to Ginny, there was still half of the liquid inside, which the redhead drunk without hesitation, putting the bottle away in her own pocket.
The feeling didn’t come immediately – that voice instructed them on what to do. That one would take a few more minutes to make itself heard. Ginny could only hope it would howl loud enough at Izzy so that she’d have no choice but to listen to it.
“You’re planning to go after her, aren’t you?” she asked her friend.
“Wouldn’t you if it was your mother?” she replied.
Ginny sighed. What use was there lying about that one? “Yes. If I knew I was the only one who could help her, I would.”
Izzy was silent for a moment. “They mustn’t have read the message,” she mumbled.
The redhead didn’t need her to specify to know she meant the twins and the message the two of them had sent through the papyrus. “It was always a long shot they would. Not everyone is as obsessive checking the papyrus as you are.”
Izzy didn’t respond to that. “It’s up to us, then.”
Ginny nodded. “One thing, though: in case you haven’t noticed, there are a bunch of Death Eaters outside. And, personally, I’d say you’ll need all the luck you can get to get through all of them.”
“I’ve already taken the potion.”
“It’s not just about taking it,” Ginny replied. “You need to listen to it. Being overconfident enough not to listen to it can lead to pretty disastrous results. Look, the potion is supposed to make you lucky and, at the end of the day, if you lose your mother because of it, you’ve been anything but lucky. Just keep that in mind, okay?” she said, just as the two of them found themselves facing Filch, who seemed to be coordinating the students’ exit from the castle.
“Names?” he mumbled monotonously, as if he’d never seen them before in his life.
The girls didn’t bother pointing out that he already knew their names, just giving them to him, hoping that would get them off the grounds faster.
There was another large group of students outside, as no one seemed to be allowed to take the horseless carriages until everyone was out, for some reason. Izzy and Ginny didn’t mind – as far as they were concerned, the more confusion in place, the more easily they could disappear without people noticing.
“Is it telling you anything yet?” Ginny asked her friend, referring to the Felix’s inner voice.
Izzy shook her head. “We can’t waste much more time,” she said.
“Just give it another…” she stopped talking all of a sudden as, while examining their surroundings, she suddenly found herself facing something rather curious at a distance, half-covered by some bushes. Her lips curled just a little as she pulled her friend’s sleeve. “Take a look at what’s behind those bushes on my left. By the trees.”
Izzy gave her a puzzled look before complying. Her eyes turned to the area Ginny had indicated but, at first, she didn’t see anything particularly exciting. It was just some bushes with a dog in… She paused. It was some bushes with a dog in them. A big black dog that might just be taken as ‘The Grim’. Only it wasn’t ‘The Grim’. “It’s my dad,” she whispered to her friend.
“I guess they did get the message,” Ginny said, her lips curling. “And I doubt it’s only your dad they brought along.”
“The whole order, do you think?”
“Some of it, at least,” Ginny said.
Izzy turned back to her father’s animagus form, who was still watching her from the bushes. If he was there with the Order, they needed to help her mother. Did they even know she’d been taken? She had absolutely no idea. So, just to try and signal him, she nodded sideways towards the area where she’d last seen her mother being taken, hoping her father would get that she meant for him to check something out in that direction. In response, the dog just nodded, not moving an inch.
“What is that supposed to mean?” she mumbled.
“What?” Ginny asked.
“I just gestured to where they took my mum so Dad would go help her,” she said. “But he just nodded.”
“Maybe he already knows,” her friend pointed out.
“Then why isn’t he helping her?!” Izzy whispered furiously.
“Because they have it under control?” Ginny suggested. “That might be what he’s trying to tell you.”
“Or maybe he’s saying I should go after her,” Izzy replied.
Ginny looked at her like she was mad. “I’m sorry – I was under the impression we were talking about your Dad, who tried to get you to stay home because he thought coming to Hogwarts alone would be too dangerous for you. Do you actually think he’d signal you to run through a mob of Death Eaters to try and save your mother while he sits around in dog form?”
Now that Ginny said it, Izzy’s suggestion ceased making sense in her own head. “Okay, then maybe it’s not it. But why isn’t he helping Mum?”
“I don’t know. They must have a plan or something,” Ginny told her. “Like I said, Fred and George wouldn’t have sent him here alone. At the very least, they would’ve come along themselves. They could’ve split tasks or something.”
“Fine, but if we don’t know the plan, how are we supposed to know what they want us to do?” Izzy asked, rubbing her temples as she felt an odd echo in her mind. Was it the Felix? She didn’t recall it feeling so… distant last time. Then again, she’d taken a different dosage then.
Ginny looked thoughtful for a moment. “I’m not sure. I guess ultimately, they want us out of here. Do you feel it now, though? The Felix?”
“I dunno. Maybe,” she said, concentrating on the echo. “What do you feel?”
“Just a whisper. It’s getting clearer, though.”
Izzy felt it too. The whisper, growing louder and louder but less and less echo-y. “It’s telling me to get ready. Get ready to…”
“To run,” Ginny whispered. “But not yet. And I’m not sure where.”
“Exactly,” Izzy replied. “So, what now? We just… wait for something? Ready, set, go?”
Ginny shrugged. “I guess. What else can we do?”
So, they did. They waited… and waited. Longer than they’d expected – certainly longer than a minute. And how frustrating was it, Izzy thought, waiting for something that they didn’t know what was? It was like she was frozen on a moment that would never pass.
Her father remained where she’d first spotted him – immobile. The crowd that had been surrounding them, though, was starting to vanish as the students being carted off to the train, carriage by carriage. She had a feeling the Death Eaters would have saved them for last – her and Ginny, that was. They’d have wanted them away from everyone to take them.
Go now! The voice told her all of a sudden, much clearer than before, just as the sound of an exploding charm hitting a tree at a distance reached her ears – some sort of distraction set up by the Order, she’d later realize.
She wasn’t sure where she was going at first – she wasn’t really thinking as she ran, just following instinct, which, in turn, followed the Felix’s guidance. It was only several seconds later, when she looked sideways and then back, that she found herself running alone. Ginny was nowhere to be seen. The voice in her mind told her not to waste time worrying, though. Part of her knew that, just like her Felix-voice had taken her that direction, Ginny’s must have taken her another – in theory, the Felix would always take them through the path with the best results. In theory.
And, not long after, stopping where she stood, Izzy realized she’d gone exactly the opposite way her mother had been taken. Keep going. She doesn’t need you, the voice told her, but she remained frozen. Part of her wanted to go back – needed to go back. It was her mother. Felix or no Felix, she needed to help her. She needed to… Run. Run now! The voice all but screamed in her mind. But she still she resisted. She resisted until the very moment the voice desperately spoke again. Move or you’re done!
And, that time, something in the tone made her comply. So, she moved, though not forward – just a step to her right… and narrowly missed some sort of purple spell that exploded once it hit a tree.
The voice wasn’t kidding, she thought as she resumed running. They were following her – the Death Eaters, no doubt. And, just like that, she lost all hope of going back. Go back and it’s over. And not in a good way, the voice told her. That time, she listened. She believed it.
Soon, the voice told her to run faster – she did and quickly heard shouting behind her as more spells started to fly her way, some escaping her by mere millimetres. She didn’t dare looking back from then on – she just ran, following the voice in her head.
Her heart pumped, her legs hurt, her skin felt cold even though she knew she must be sweating. At some point, she lost track of how long or how far she’d ran – she just hoped the Felix wouldn’t fade before she was… well, as close to safe as she could get. Honestly, she had no idea where it was taking her – it just told her to keep going straight ahead.
When the Felix gave her an order other than ‘keep going on a straight line’, right around the time she found herself reaching a hillside, it already hurt to breathe. A step to the left and then straight ahead, it said. She followed the order, imagining that would lead to a gentler path down the hillside… and instead found herself tripping on a rock and rolling down it.
She just kept rolling and rolling, unable to brace herself due to the blinding pain caused by having fallen straight on her left arm. It got worse with every turn down the hill, right up until she hit the bottom, nearly out of breath. Merlin, it felt like someone had tried to rip it apart, she allowed herself to think for a moment before Felix, mixed with a boatload of adrenaline reminded her that she needed to get back on her feet or she was doomed.
She’d only managed to get on her knees to try and push herself up when she saw a shadow on the floor from someone over herself. Before she could react, though, she felt herself screaming as two hands grabbed her by the shoulders. No, that couldn’t be it, she thought. It couldn’t just end like that after all that running, all that… effort. The Felix couldn’t just let her down like that: she wanted to go home, she wanted her mother to be okay, she wanted… she wanted everything to be normal. So, she fought back as hard as she could and, Merlin, did it hurt. Her arm felt like it weighed a thousand pounds and like it was falling apart with every move she threw her assailant’s way.
At some point, her vision got blurry and she felt herself nearly falling down. Oddly enough, the assailant supported her so she wouldn’t – only then did she hear the voice above her own screaming, which seemed to have ceased them. She recognized it immediately.
“…calm down. It’s me, Isabelle. It’s me.”
Yes, it was him. “George,” she mumbled incoherently before managing to turn and see him looking down at her with more than a little concern. He was there. He’d come for her. Thank Merlin.
“It’s me,” he repeated. “Are you okay? I saw you falling… Did you get hurt? Stupid question – of course you did. Where…?”
“I… my arm,” she mumbled.
His eyes shifted to it for a second but then he had to look away as they heard the Death Eaters’ footsteps and voices coming their way. He wrapped one arm around her and pulled her impossibly close. “Hold on, Isabelle,” he whispered to her. “Don’t let go.”
She nodded faintly, closing her eyes and resting her head against his chest, hearing the sounds of the Death Eaters approaching. It felt like a nightmare – a bad one. Except in nightmares she never really felt pain while, at the moment, her arm hurt like nothing else before…
And then it just got worse – she felt the strange, awfully uncomfortable pull of apparition. Merlin, it was usually bad but going through it with an injured arm just made it worse. She didn’t dare opening her eyes as she was nauseous enough on her own and simply pulled herself closer against George, who held her back silently.
She felt her feet hitting solid ground seconds later but still didn’t allow herself to open her eyes.
“It’s okay,” George whispered against the top of her head. “You’re safe.”
She opened her eyes and saw he was telling the truth. They were all of a sudden standing in the Burrow’s familiar, yet unusually empty, kitchen.
Taking a breath of relief, she suddenly felt incredibly awkward over standing so close to George and took a step back at the same time he walked over to a window in order to open up the closed drapes.
“We should take a look at that arm,” she heard George telling her softly as he made his way back to her.
Izzy didn’t reply. She just looked around awkwardly, not sure of what to do or what to say. Not because of where she was or really who she was with – because of where she’d been. Or what she’d been in the middle of. Five minutes ago, she’d been running for her life – now she was in the Burrow for the first time in months, her legs heavy from all the running and her left arm sending waves of pain through her whole upper body as she cradled it. “They took her, didn’t they?” she asked all of a sudden.
He didn’t reply immediatly. “Maybe not.”
“They had her. I saw it. I… I should have ignored the feeling,” she said, regret all over her voice. “I should have gone after her.”
“No, you shouldn’t,” he told her. “We were already after her. Kingsley, Gabe, Lulu… They wouldn’t have let her be taken.”
“Then why aren’t they back yet?!”
“Maybe they are back and we just don’t know it,” he replied. “We had to plan everything really fast. I guess we were so focused on how to get you all out of harm’s way that we failed to set up a general meeting place for after we did. This was the first safe place I could think of – Merlin knows there’s a ton of other places they could have gone to instead. I’m sure they’re all fine, Is…”
“How can you possibly be?” she asked, her tone bordering on anger. “We were running, there were Death Eaters everywhere, the Carrows had my mother… it was chaos! They can be hurt, they can have been taken…”
“They can be just fine,” he said firmly. “Look, we can’t think they’re not okay. Not by default. None of us out there was exactly inexperienced when it comes to defending ourselves, your Mum included. We had a plan, we had the surprise element and we had the skills to put up one hell of a fight.”
“You were outnumbered,” she replied.
“Not by much,” he told her. “Really – we managed to gather a few people from the Order after I got your message and warned your Dad. By the time your mother came out, we were already splitting into groups and spreading out around the path and, like I told you, there were plenty of people heading to the area they took her to. It wasn’t that bad, really.”
She wanted so badly to be as certain as he was. She felt like part of her was dying with every second that passed without news. “Are you sure?” she asked faintly.
Well, no, he wasn’t that sure he thought. They’d been really about a dozen short of being in equal ground, although the surprise element had been on their side. But she didn’t need to know that – what she really needed was to calm down and get that arm checked and that was what he was going to make sure happened. “Positive,” he lied. “Now, you need to sit down before you fall over because you look pale as a sheet.”
She had to take his word for it since there weren’t really any mirrors in sight for her to check her own alleged paleness. She didn’t fight, him once he put one arm around her back and walked her over to one of the table’s chairs, half because she really was tired, half because of that effect he seemed to have on her whenever he was close…
“Alright,” he said once she was sitting. “Wait here for a second. I have to go outside send Patronuses to the others telling them you’re with me just in case they’re still looking for us, okay?”
“Okay,” she agreed. She didn’t bother asking why he needed to go outside to do it. Later she’d wonder if it was because the charm might work better if it didn’t require the Patronus to go through walls or something or because he’d needed a moment to settle himself. She was inclined to go with the second – Merlin knew how many deep breaths she had to take once she saw herself alone in order to keep herself composed.
She waited for about a couple of minutes before she started feeling uncomfortably hot – it was only then she noticed the fireplace was lit, as it had been since they’d arrived. It seemed very unlike Molly to leave a fire up in an empty house, even though fireplaces in the Wizarding Worls usually had spells to keep the flames from spreading away from them. Soon enough, though, Izzy concluded that the woman must have left in such a hurry to help them that keeping a tidy kitchen, as she always did, had certainly been the last thing in her mind: the dirty dishes on the counters and half a pan of cold eggs on the table were enough proof of that.
Leaving observation aside, Izzy stood from her chair, still cradling her injured her and tried to figure out how to get out of her cloak. As if she hadn’t already figured out that wasn’t going to be an easy task, the pain on her left arm certainly warned her of that once she ceased using the other one to cradle it. Merlin, it seemed to weigh a ton all of a sudden, once it was left unsupported.
“Didn’t I tell you to sit down?” she heard George saying behind her just as he slipped back into the house through the back door.
“I was sitting down,” she replied, going back to cradling the arm. “I just need to get out of this cloak.”
“Well, let me give you hand with that,” he offered once he moved to stand just in front of her. “I’ve got good news.” His lips couldn’t help curling just a little once he saw her face immediately lighting up. “I got a Patronus from Fred even before I could send mine. He says he’s with Mum and Dad and that they’ve got Ginny.”
“And my Mum? The others?” she asked.
He shook his head. “Still haven’t heard from them. But they should say something once they receive mine. Don’t worry yourself out yet.”
She sighed. “Better said than done”, she mumbled. “But if your parents are okay and so are Ginny and Fred, why aren’t they home yet? Where did they go?”
George shrugged. “I dunno. They’re probably taking care of something. We avoid mentioning locations in the messages in case someone overhears them. Someone’s bound to pop by here at some point, though – it’s a pretty obvious place to start looking.”
He did have a point there, Izzy thought. She really couldn’t deny it.
“How did you get to me?” she suddenly wondered. “I must have run for like a mile – how did you keep up for so long with the Death Eaters on a tow?”
“I didn’t,” he replied. “I lost you about a hundred yards in. Your Dad managed to keep up and go after them but I just couldn’t, so I had to take a chance – I apparated a few hundreds of yards ahead on the direction you were heading, hoping you wouldn’t start zigzagging or something and catch up with me instead. I really had no idea if I was going to find you that way…”
“And still you did,” she mumbled. It must’ve been the Felix, she thought. It must have been guiding her there, straight to the place George had apparated on. For the first time that day, she really did feel lucky.
George nodded. “I was a bit ahead of where you were but I heard you coming. Then, there you were, at the top of the hill right before you fell. It was bloody close, Isabelle. Too bloody close. I thought you’d broken your neck on that fall.”
“Just my arm,” she mumbled, though the word ‘just’ seemed quite out of context, given the pain she felt.
“Right. Well, how bad does it feel, anyway?” he asked, changing the subject.
She attempted to pass it off with a shrug but the shoulder movement alone made her wince.
“That bad, then,” he mumbled.
“It wasn’t so bad before,” she commented.
“I bet it wasn’t,” he mumbled, rather unconvinced. “Well, we need to try and move it as little as possible. It might be broken. Can you move the hand?”
She flexed her fingers with some difficulty. “I suppose. It feels weird, though.”
“That’s probably normal,” he assured her. “You’ll have to let go of the arm, though, so I can slip the good one out of the sleeve.”
She nodded and did so, allowing him stand behind her as he slowly tried to pull the cloak out of her good arm without shifting the cloth around too much, mindful of the injured one. “I’ve never broken anything before,” she mumbled, trying to ignore the pain.
“Lucky you,” George told her with a light chuckle. “Let’s just say Fred and I together probably broke more bones between us than the rest of the Weasley clan together.”
She tried not to smile at that – it seemed like such an inappropriate thing to do when she should be – and, to be fair, was – in angst over her family’s safety. But she couldn’t help it, really. It was hard to keep her mind from trying to picture all the different ways those two had discovered to break bones. “Why am I not surprised?”
“Hey! We were beaters. Believe it or not, we weren’t born with flawless aim,” he replied, moving to stand opposite her, halfway through freeing her from the cloak. “This is probably going to sting a little. The arm must be swollen. This sleeve will be hard to pull.”
“Just do it,” she replied.
He nodded for a moment before touching her good arm and lifting it until her hand was resting on his shoulder. When she gave him a questioning look, he spoke. “Grasp my shoulder if it hurts too much. I kind of need both hands for this…”
She nodded in return and braced herself for pain. She couldn’t say it didn’t come after all – it did. But it certainly wasn’t as bad as she’d expected it to be. He was incredibly tender with his touch, carefully pulling on the sleeve while at the same time using his other arm to keep hers secured. She found herself grasping his shoulder once or twice but was certain she’d hardly leave him with a bruise.
When he finally managed to take the cloak off, he threw it onto a nearby chair without a thought, his full attention on her arm, and they sat down and he started folding up the thankfully loose-fitting sleeve of her jumper. They found her forearm badly bruised and considerably swollen, as George had predicted.
“Yep, it’s definitely broken,” he told her.
Izzy groaned. “Merlin,” she mumbled.
“Yeah – bummer. On the other hand, coming out of a kidnap attempt with just a broken arm seems like a good bargain, if you asked me.”
She sighed. “I have your Christmas present to thank for that, I suppose.”
That time, he met her eyes, his lips curling s little. “You used the Felix. I told you it would come handy.”
She nodded. “It did. You saw how all those spells missed me by just a little. And I shared it with Ginny too… and Mum.”
“Why are you losing your mind with worry over here, then?”
“I didn’t see her taking it. There was little of it – we couldn’t take it too early and waste the effect.”
“She had it nevertheless – your mother’s a smart lady, Isabelle. She would have taken it.”
Izzy sighed. “It’s still not fool-proof, though. I did get a broken arm.”
“Yeah, but you’ve still got a head on your shoulders. I’m not sure if you noticed but taking that fall was basically the only thing that kept you away from what I’m pretty sure was a nasty severing curse. Because I did and, trust me, that makes a broken arm look like a paper-cut.”
She gulped. He didn’t look like he was kidding. At all.
Before any of them could say anything else, though, the silvery form of a lynx erupted through the room, stopping just a couple of feet away from then before it spoke.
“Mission accomplished with no losses,” Kingsley’s voice sounded through the spectrum in a heavy, commanding and straight-to-the-point tone – likely the one he used all the time as head-auror. “Mia and the girls are safe and sound. For those still in the field, retreat somewhere safe. Those already out, stay under the radar until we have more information. If you’re injured, contact us for help. Thank you for your help today. It was absolutely invaluable.” And, with the message passed along, instead of fading away, as message-patronuses usually did, that one just turned around and seemed to travel somewhere else to keep spreading the message.
As soon as it was gone, Izzy finally allowed herself to breathe in relief.
“I told you they were alright,” George stated. “Give it a few minutes and your Mum will be right here, fussing all over you.”
Her lips curled just a little. “I know.”
“And you know what this means,” he prompted.
She raised her eyebrows at him. “What?”
He grinned. “That, once again, I’m right. As always.”
She rolled her eyes. “Weren’t you in the middle of something right before that Patronus showed up?” she asked. “Something about broken arms and paper cuts.
“Right. Both things I can fix, by the way,” he said, reaching back for his wand as he gave in to her attempt at changing the subject. “Just give me a moment to think back to the charm Lockhart taught us…”
“Lockhart?!” she asked in alarm before noticing how hard he was biting his lip to keep himself from snorting. She glared, promptly trying to kick him and missing by an inch. “Don’t mock me. I’m hurt!”
“Come on, Isabelle – as if we’ve have ever learned anything from that useless idiot other than how to get ourselves stuck in a loony bin,” he told her. “Don’t worry, I know a decent spell for this. If we had to go to Mum every time we smashed a few bones, she’d have never let me or Fred move out.” He noticed the nervous look on Izzy’s face and sighed. “Listen, we can wait a little longer for your parents to show up and let your mother fix it but…”
Izzy shook her head. “No, don’t bother. The sooner it’s fixed, the better,” she told him, determined. “I trust you.”
George’s lips curled a little. “Okay,” he mumbled. “Take a deep breath because this is by no means a pleasant thing to feel. Especially if it’s broken as badly as I think it is…”
“Just do it,” she told him. He’d told her basically the same about removing the sleeve and it hadn’t hurt half as much as she’d…
Before she even noticed George whispering the charm, a blinding pain took over her arm, about three or four times worse than the one she’d felt when it had been broken in the first place. Her body spontaneously crumbled forward on the chair from the shock of the pain and she cursed heavily under her breath.
The sudden ache left as quickly as it went, though it left a pronounced echo behind, but she still found herself taking deep breaths as she leaned on her forehead with her eyes closed. “Merlin,” she mumbled.
“It’s okay,” she heard George’s voice saying surprisingly closely. “The worst part is over. It will hurt for a few days but not nearly as much.”
It was only when she opened her eyes again that she registered why his voice sounded so close – somehow during the intense explosion of pain, her forehead had ended up leaning against his shoulder. And, against all instinct, instead of pulling back just as soon as she realized it, Izzy didn’t. Instead, she actually held closer, wrapping her good arm around his neck, feeling he was the one thing keeping her together as everything came crashing down on her like a train.
It was ridiculous, she thought for a second. She knew she was alright, she knew everyone had made it okay… and yet her mind all of a sudden simply couldn’t let go of what had happened. They’d tried to take her and her mother that day, like they’d taken Luna all those months before. Why? To kill them? To hurt them? To hurt the people close to them? They’d failed, she knew, but she felt the one defeated: she couldn’t go back to Hogwarts, she knew her family was about to become a bunch of fugitives, she knew they wouldn’t be able to come out of hiding for who knew how long… It felt like the world was crumbling under her feet and it was too much – just too much. Why couldn’t her life be normal? Why couldn’t it be simple?
Before she knew it, she heard herself sniffing and felt the tears tickling her face. Crap, she thought. She was crying. She was crying on George’s shoulder.
If that bothered him somehow, though, he didn’t show it. In fact, he did the opposite: he wrapped his arms around her and held her close. She doubted he was able to read her mind but she could tell from the tone of his voice that he was comforting her about far more than an aching arm. His hand tentatively touched her hair, stroking it in a comforting manner as he mumbled that it was going to be okay. Whatever he meant by that, she believed it when he said it, even if just for a little moment. Even as her sobs gradually ceased, she didn’t let go – he made her feel safe and at home and, at that moment, she didn’t want that feeling to stop. She didn’t want to let go. Ever, preferably.
She soon realized that wasn’t really an option as, seconds later, she found him pulling back just a little, though the hand that had been rubbing her back until a few seconds before moved to cup her cheek. She averted her eyes from him, keeping her face down. She knew it didn’t make sense – he’d probably heard more about her feelings during the past few months than anyone else and yet there she was, not wanting him to see her looking weak.
He seemed to agree with the lack of sense of her actions as he soon tenderly lifted her face until she was looking him in the eyes. “Are you okay?” he asked in a mere whisper.
She found herself speechless for a few seconds – something in the blue of his eyes ruled her quite unable to answer… or maybe just far too distracted. She imagined her mind was still a bit drunk on the feeling of him holding her so close.
“Isabelle,” he insisted, a look of concern on his face.
She gulped, making herself snap out of it, and nodded. “I’m fine,” she replied.
But still he didn’t let go of her face. “No,” he mumbled. “You really aren’t.” But he didn’t say more than that. Instead, he just kept looking at her, as if he was waiting for something.
She found herself holding her breath for a moment and knew what was going to happen before it actually did. And she did nothing to stop it – not when his hand shifted to her neck and his arm circled her back, not when he leaned forward, not when his lips touched hers for the second time in her life. She wanted it. She wanted it so badly…
It was soft at first, as if he expected her to break into pieces again at any moment, but quickly it grew fiercer. Like they were trying to prove something that neither of them was sure what was… It was nearly impossible to compare that kiss to the one they’d shared at the platform all those months before – it felt so much more intense and so much more… them. Not that the other one hadn’t been amazing as well – she just didn’t know it back then. That her ‘crush’ was so much more than that. But now she did – now she did and she never wanted it to stop
At some point, they had to break the kiss, having apparently forgotten how to breathe in such an occasion. They didn’t look at each other, then. They just sat there, breathing hard and thinking a thousand thoughts a minute.
“Isabelle, I…” he started.
But, suddenly, Izzy didn’t want to hear it. She knew he was going apologize or call the kiss stupid like last time… and, Merlin, she really didn’t want him to. So, she took the bold step that time… she kissed him again.
It seemed to catch him by surprise but he didn’t push her away in any case… If possible, the kiss grew even bolder than before. Hands other than the one attached to her still aching arm didn’t seem to stay on one place. They moved in deliciously intense motions and, Merlin, she knew if she ever had to kiss someone else, it’d feel like nothing in comparison. Then again, she thought… she hoped she might never have to.
She felt hot and cold at the same time, breathless and full of air… the pain in her arm was a mere itch in her mind. In reality, it probably wasn’t but she didn’t care – it’d take far more than a recovering broken arm to get her to care about anything but that kiss at the moment. The kiss and what came after – Merlin, that part was terrifying. Because that was it, wasn’t it? She was putting herself out there and clearly so was he. That was the moment it could all change.
Once their lips broke apart again, none of them really spoke. They just sat there, foreheads touching while they caught their breaths at the same time they tried to figure out what to do next.
Before any of them could utter a word, though, the house’s door burst open and they instinctively pulled as apart as they could possibly be while still sitting next to each other.
“Oh, crap,” Fred mumbled from the door, once he noticed the looks on their faces and got a slight image (it was mostly wishful thinking) of what they’d been up to.
“Damn it, Fred!” George hissed at his twin.
“Sorry, I wasn’t really expecting to… no, scratch that,” Fred stated. “Actually I’m not sorry. Wanna know why? Because Mum, Dad and Sirius are right on my heel, so you should actually be thanking me for being the first through the door.”
“Freddie, are they there?” they heard Molly asking from outside.
“See? Just saved your hide. You’re welcome, by the way,” he told his brother before poking his head back out and answering his mother.
And just like that, the perfect moment was ruined, Izzy thought with some disappointment. When she glanced over at George, she could see he was thinking the same. He reached for the hand of her good arm and gave it a little tug. “Next time we’re alone?” he asked her with a grin.
She couldn’t help smiling at the prospect and at the fact that George was all but assuring her there’d be a follow up to that kiss. “Next time,” she promised right before Molly burst into the room, starting her motherly fussing on either of them almost immediately.
“Dad,” she said as soon as she saw him stepping into the room and making his way to her, immediately scooping her into a bone-crushing hug, which couldn’t have come at a worst time. “Ouch, ouch,” she mumbled. “Injured arm.”
He immediately let go of her. “What?” he asked, eyeing her in alarm. “Where? How?”
“I fell down,” she said, showing him her left arm. “It was broken but George fixed it. Still hurts, though.” She glanced over at George, who stood leaning against the counter, and he shot her a little smile, which he hid seconds later behind a cough once he saw her father looking over as well.
“I don’t think I can thank you enough for getting her out of there,” Sirius told George.
“Oh, it was nothing,” he mumbled awkwardly, desperately trying to find an excuse to avert looking at him. “Team effort. I need to…” he didn’t finish, pointing at the nearest door before heading out, Fred quickly following after him, looking he might just burst into laughter at any second.
“So, where’s Ginny?” Izzy asked just after the twins made their exit.
“We took her to Molly’s Aunt Muriel’s house,” Arthur told her. “I think it’s safer if we stay there for a while now.”
Oh, Ginny was going to hate that, Izzy immediately thought.
“Honestly, it was dreadful today but it may have just been for the best,” Molly said. “Merlin knows what tragedy might have happened to you girls if you’d stayed in that school much longer.”
That didn’t make Izzy feel much better. They might be out but their friends were still in, now fighting without them. She felt a little bad they hadn’t taken the time to say goodbye to Neville, at least. They’d mostly avoided him that morning, in fact – he knew them well enough to have noticed something wrong with their demeanour if he was around them too long. No doubt he would have wanted to help but she and Ginny had decided not to involve the DA in their escape soon after being given the news – they couldn’t risk the Death Eaters suspecting their friends had helped and leave them to pay the consequences of them escaping.
“I suppose we should head home now,” Sirius soon said, checking his watch.
“Oh, of course – Mia’s bound to be anxious to see her,” Molly stated. “Let me just get the boys to say goodbye.” She headed to the door, shouting the twin’s names shortly after leaving the room, and returned a few seconds later with her sons in a tow.
Fred’s goodbye was rather short, based around a friendly pat on the back and wink, after which he headed over to her father, in order to shake his hand and start some conversation – she had a feeling he was trying to distract him, as well as his parents, from her and George. If that was the case, she was thankful.
“So…” George mumbled. “Until next time, I guess.”
She smiled. “I look forward to it.” And so, after making sure Fred had everyone’s full attention – he was good, she vaguely noted, having even strategically made sure they conveniently had their backs turned to them, so he was the only one who had any chance of what went on in their general area – she moved closer to George and kissed him… just on the cheek, though. Her father was still in the room, after all. “And thanks for saving my life,” she added. “Again.”
He grinned. “Always at your service, Isabelle.”
She re-joined her father by everyone else’s side, having to make an effort to hide her smile. “Ready, Izzybel?” he asked her.
She nodded. “Let’s go.”
They managed to slip out of the house after a few minutes of convincing Molly it was not necessary for anyone to walk them to the edge of the house-wards radius, since complicated blood-binding wards wouldn’t let Sirius apparate from within them.
“So, Mum really is okay?” Izzy asked her father as the two of them walked along the Burrow’s yard.
Sirius nodded. “Yeah, she’s mostly fine,” he said.
Izzy stopped walking, prompting Sirius to do the same. “Mostly?”
“She’s a bit… confused.”
“Confused?” she asked, raising her eyebrows as she resumed walking. “What do you mean by that?”
“She doesn’t seem to remember much since last night,” he told her. “Well, anything, really.”
“You heard me,” Sirius said. “She doesn’t seem to have hit her head or anything, though – Kingsley brought Elizabeth over and she checked. She just… doesn’t remember. Which is not that bad, I guess – Merlin knows I wouldn’t particularly hate not remembering this morning.”
“Do you think it was a memory charm?” she inquired.
Sirius shrugged. “It seems to fit but it just doesn’t make sense, does it? Everything indicates they were planning to kidnap both of you, so why on Earth would they just erase a few hours from your mother’s head and let her be?” Especially, he thought, given she’d been found quite vulnerably passed out on the ground.
Izzy shrugged. “I’ve no idea but, for once, I’m happy that’s all they did.”
Her father sighed. “Yeah. Me too,” he agreed. “We’re here. You know the drill, right?” he asked, just as they crossed the wards’ barrier.
She nodded, lacing her right arm with his, while at the same time using it to secure the previously broken one. The apparition didn’t feel as bad on it as it had last time, but it wasn’t exactly pleasant either – safe to say she was glad once she found herself standing on the front step of 12 Grimmauld Place.
Sirius opened the door for her, quickly urging her in so he could close it behind them – he might know the front porch was already covered by the wards but only inside the house did he feel safe enough to let his guard down.
“I hope you know that we can’t let you go back to school after this,” he said softly as he they stood in the entrance hall.
Izzy nodded. “I know,” she mumbled.
“And you know that we have to stay underground too, right?” he said.
She nodded again. “We don’t have to move, though, do we?” she asked. “This place is a fortress with all the wards – we can hardly find anywhere safer, can we?”
Sirius shook his head. “No, you’re right. We’re staying – if the current wards aren’t enough, the Fidelius Charm we’ll be adding is bound to do the trick.”
“Wait, a Fidelius Charm?!”
“It was only a matter of time, Izzybel,” he told her. “We could use the extra layer of protection.”
“I’m not questioning that, but does it mean we have to keep everyone out?” she asked, a bit frantic. All of a sudden, the ‘next time’ she and George had promised to each other was threatening to move a long way down the road… “The Weasleys, for instance, are trustworthy – we can let them in on the secret, can’t we?”
“We could, but I think that’s going to be a little bit hard,” he stated.
“They’re going under a Fidelius Charm too, love,” he said. “By the time we set the charm here, odds are we won’t even remember where they are.”
A/N2: In my defence, they did kiss...
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