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Chapter 25 : Chapter 25: Kreacher
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“So have you told your mother yet?” Harry asked between mouthfuls of bacon.
“Have I hell,” replied Ron. “I’m terrified.”
“Why?” asked Harry quizzically.
“You were there before Bill and Fleur’s wedding,” Ron reminded him. “You know what she’s like,” he said darkly. “I’ll never get back to the office.” He had a point, Harry reckoned. Mrs Weasley probably would insist he stay forever, planning his own wedding. Personally Harry felt that if Ron helped plan the wedding, something would probably go wrong.
It was Monday morning, and Harry and Ron were sat at Grimmauld places kitchen table, preparing to return to the office after a weekend with their respective girlfriends, or in Ron’s case, his fiancé.
“You’re lucky Ron,” said Remus from his portrait. “I remember Dora telling her parents. It didn’t go down well, particularly with Andromeda.”
“How come?” asked Harry curiously.
“For some reason, Andromeda was sceptical about her only daughter marrying a werewolf,” said Remus bitterly. “She didn’t speak to Tonks for about two months.”
“What happened then?” Sirius said. Remus grinned slightly.
“Dora dragged me round to her parents and…forcibly introduced us. We got along rather well after that,” Remus explained, smiling. “I have no idea why.”
“Because you’re such a lovely person Moony,” Lily said sternly. “What about your parents James?”
“My Dad clapped me on the back and told me ‘Well done’ and my mother cried for three hours or something,” James laughed. “I let Lily organise the wedding.”
“With my mother, there’s no chance,” Ron said miserably.
“You’ll have to tell them eventually, before Ginny does,” Harry warned him.
“Ginny knows?” Ron exclaimed. “Why the hell would you tell her!?”
“I was…with her when you told me,” Harry said quickly, exchanging a rueful glance with Sirius, who knew fine well the mirrors didn’t allow anybody else to hear. Sirius just winked. “Come on, we’ll be late, and we get to question the Malfoys today,” Harry added, hoping to take Ron’s mind off his now looming wedding. It seemed to work, as Ron’s expression brightened considerably at this, and he remained cheerful until they reached the office, upon which Gawain dropped a bombshell.
“As some of you know,” he said, addressing the entire department, “Gellert Grindelwald apparated directly into the ministry this weekend.”
“You’re joking!” yelped Ron loudly. Harry elbowed him sharply in the ribs to shut up.
“No, Weasley, I’m not,” Robards replied grimly. “Grindelwald has got us by the bollocks, to put it bluntly. If we make any move against him, Dedalus is dead, and I will not allow my men to be harmed by some maniac!” he roared, banging his fist of the desk. “You all have new orders-we need to get Dedalus out of there, as soon as possible.”
“What about Malfoy?” asked Hestia. “We can’t leave him unguarded.”
“We haven’t,” Gawain assured her. “The Order are taking care of it.” Hestia nodded. “I need you and Savage to stake out the Werewolf and the Banshee in Knockturn Alley,” Gawain continued. “We could pick up something useful. The rest of you, I need you to concentrate on figuring out ways we can get into Malfoy Manor undetected.”
“Should we tell him about Hermione’s idea?” Ron asked.
“Definitely. But let’s not say it was her idea,” Harry asked, laughing. Ron chuckled.
“No,” he agreed, “Robards would probably sack us on the spot, walk to Hogwarts and beg her to join up.”
“I wish she would,” Harry admitted. “We’re much less effective without her.”
“You mean we’re useless?” Ron corrected.
“Pretty much,” Harry admitted with a sigh. “Come on, we’ll tell him.” The pair strode up to Gawain, who was in quiet conversation with Luke Proudfoot.
“Potter, Weasley,” Gawain grunted. “What do you want?” He seemed in a foul mood-even worse than normal.
“We’ve had an idea,” Harry began. “Since we captured the Malfoys, and we’re sure Grindelwald’s made his headquarters at Malfoy Manor, couldn’t Lucius take down the wards he put up?”
“We’d only need him to cooperate,” Ron added.
“Good luck with that,” Gawain muttered darkly. “It’s a good idea, I admit. But we need to get Dedalus out first, Grindelwald’s bound to notice if we walk through the front door,” he pointed out. “If you get any other brainwaves, let me know.” He then turned back to Proudfoot, and they went into his office.
“Always so appreciative isn’t he?” Ron said sarcastically. “Come on, we’ve been there. Surely we can think of something.”
But, after around half an hour of brainstorming at their desks, it seemed that they couldn’t.
“I’m stumped,” said Harry finally. “It’s impossible. Any way we could get in, they’d notice and Dedalus is dead.”
“We’re buggered,” agreed Ron. “I- George, what are you doing here?” he said blankly, looking over Harry’s shoulder. Harry spun around to see the earless twin approaching them.
“Nice to see you too,” he said harshly. He looked stressed. “I need some advice.”
“And you came to me?” Ron said, startled.
“I couldn’t find Bill,” George snapped, “and it’s about women, in a way, so Charlie and Percy are hopeless, though I admit for different reasons.”
“Glad I’m your second choice,” Ron said warily, seeming to sense his older brother’s foul mood.
“Actually Ginny was,” George explained. “But she’s at Hogwarts and I doubt McGonagall would be too happy if I burst into her transfiguration lesson to ask her this.”
“What do you want George, I’m working?” Ron said, exasperated.
“I’ve got a problem,” George admitted, “with Angelina.”
“What’s wrong?” said Harry curiously.
“Well, we’ve been dating a while,” George said evasively.
“Since when?” said Ron suspiciously, his eyes narrowing.
“Since we left school,” George admitted. “And…I may have asked her to marry me.” Harry and Ron’s jaws both dropped simultaneously.
“Seriously?” Ron said blankly after a minute.
“No joke for once,” said George. “I took her out for a nice meal last night, and did it after pudding under the influence of champagne.”
“Better than I managed,” Ron said without thinking, instantly turning beetroot. “Shit.”
“What?” George exclaimed. “No! You and Hermione?”
“No me and Harry!” Ron snapped sarcastically. “Obviously me and Hermione.”
“Oh, well that makes my problem much easier,” said George, lightening up instantly. “I was terrified about how I was gonna tell Mum, in fact I’m considering eloping.”
“She’d kill you,” Ron warned.
“Probably, but it’s better than going through hell with her organising a wedding,” George shot back. “Get Hermione out of school this weekend, we’ll tell Mum and Dad on Sunday?” he suggested.
“That’s not a bad idea,” said Ron slowly. “I wasn’t sure how I was going to break the news either,” he said, and Harry gave a loud snort. Ron ignored him. “You’re going first,” he said to George.
“Fine,” said George, rolling his eyes. He turned to Harry. “Get Ginny out too, she owes me five galleons.”
Harry grinned. “Yeah, she told me. I’ll try.”
“McGonagall would do anything for The Chosen One,” said George. “The Boy Who lived, the youngest seeker in a century, Lord of all he surveys Harry Potter!”
“Shut up George,” said Harry, turning pink and burying his nose in a textbook.
“So how did you do it?” George asked Ron, taking a seat on the desk.
“Sit down, please,” said Ron sarcastically. “I’m not telling you.”
“He was in my bed with her and did it under the influence of Firewhiskey,” Harry replied without looking up from the textbook he was reading. “After asking me for advice using his mirror.”
“Romantic Ron,” George said wryly. “And she said yes? She must really love you.”
“Thanks Harry,” snapped Ron.
“That’s what you get for using my bed and drinking all my Firewhiskey,” Harry replied cheerfully.
“Harry slept with Ginny in the room of requirement,” Ron retorted, causing Harry to go a similar colour to Ron’s hair.
“I should really hit you,” George told him. “But I’m more scared of Ginny than Ron or Hermione, so I’ll let you off. Although saying that, Hermione does scare me.”
“You didn’t see the birds,” Ron replied darkly.
“How is she anyway? I’m guessing you were at Hogwarts with that Auror assignment?”
“Yeah,” Ron replied. “She’s great, still keeps going on about S.P.E.W though. I wonder when she’s going to realise that there’s no other house elf like Dobby.”
“That’s it!” exclaimed Harry suddenly, dropping his textbook.
“What is?” said Ron blankly.
“You’re a genius Ron!” Harry said, clapping him on the back.
“Are you okay Harry? Genius and Ron generally don’t go in the same sentence unless you’re being sarcastic,” said George. He checked his watch. “I have to go, Verity’s all alone in the shop and I don’t trust her. See you around guys,” he said, before heading out from the office, whistling a cheerful tune to himself, his previous bad mood apparently evaporating instantly.
“Git,” Ron said grumpily. “So what’s genius?”
“Dobby,” said Harry excited. Ron continued to look at him like Harry’d lost his mind. “Who got us out of Malfoy Manor?” Comprehension finally dawned on Ron’s face. “Finally,” Harry muttered under his breath.
“You think Kreacher can get us in?” Ron said.
“Why not?” said Harry. “I don’t think anything can keep house elves in and out of a place.”
“We should run it past Hermione before we do,” said Ron warily.
“Oh yeah, because she’ll love the idea of us using Kreacher on an Auror mission,” Harry said dryly. “Kreacher!” he called. The House elf apparated behind them, causing Neville to shriek in surprise and drop the heavy textbook he was carrying on his toe.
“Master called?” croaked the elf, sidestepping the hopping Neville.
“Yes, Kreacher,” said Harry, smiling at his elf. “I was wondering if you know anything about house elves bypassing wizarding wards?”
“House elves can bypass any ward put up by wizards master Harry,” Kreacher replied. “But only if that house elf is told to do it by his master of course.”
“You mean house elf magic is stronger than the magic used to make the wards?” said Ron curiously.
“Master Wheezy is correct,” Kreacher nodded. Ron looked up at Harry.
“Robards is going to kill us for not coming up with this sooner.”
“I can’t believe you didn’t come up with this sooner!” snapped Gawain as Harry and Ron stood in front of him. “We could’ve ended this months ago!”
“Sorry sir,” Harry began “But it just never crossed our minds.”
“I shouldn’t be so harsh,” sighed Gawain, running a hand through his sparse grey hair. “It’s been a rough week,” he admitted apologetically. “I mean, I never thought of it either. So what’s your plan, Potter? I assume you have one?”
“I don’t know why, I normally just wing it,” Harry admitted. Gawain raised his eyebrow at him, and Harry swallowed nervously. “Right, anyway,” he spluttered. “If Kreacher can apparate me and Ron into the Manor, under the cloak and a silencing charm, then we’ll be able to get in, totally unnoticed and search for Dedalus. Once we’ve found him, Kreacher can get us all out of there.”
“And then, we can plan a full scale attack,” said Gawain, tapping his fingers on the desk. “Right, you two need to go immediately, before Dedalus comes to any more harm than he already has,” he said grimly. “You know your way around?”
“I think it’s safe to say we’re pretty well acquainted with the place,” Ron said darkly. “We can go now, once Harry calls Kreacher.” The elf appeared at his side again with a crack, causing Ron to jump backwards and get his foot stuck in waste paper bin.
“Is this Kreacher?” said Gawain.
“Kreacher’s Master Wheezy called,” replied Kreacher. “Kreacher came.”
“Well-well done Kreacher,” said Ron, blushing furiously as he shook his foot, trying to get the bin off. “I didn’t know you came to me when I called?”
“Wheezy lives in Kreacher’s masters house, Kreacher serves Wheezy also,” Kreacher explained. “What would Master Wheezy like Kreacher to do? Take his bin out perhaps?”
“That won’t be necessary,” Gawain said calmly. “Kreacher, I am Gawain Robards, head of the Auror office.”
“Kreacher knows,” Kreacher interrupted. “Kreacher has heard his masters discussing you many times.” Harry willed Kreacher to stop talking at this point.
“Do they?” said Robards suspiciously. “That’s not important…now. We need your help, Kreacher.”
“Mr Robards has pots to be cleaned?”
“No, we require your…powers,” Gawain explained. “One of my Aurors is being held captive in Malfoy Manor. I need you to take Mr Potter and Mr Weasley inside and rescue him. Only you can bypass the wards surrounding the house.” Kreacher looked up questioningly at Harry.
“Does Master want Kreacher to do this?” the elf asked.
“I do, Kreacher. As soon as possible,” Harry replied.
“Kreacher can take you now,” Kreacher said. “Kreacher has finished cleaning.”
“Come on then,” Ron said. Gawain nodded, and Kreacher took one of their hands each and span on the spot, taking them with him.
Ginny stomped into the common room, dripping with mud and feeling slightly dejected. She threw her broomstick down and slumped, exhausted into one of the fat, plush armchairs by the fire.
“Tough practice?” Hermione said sympathetically. As usual, she was sat at the common room table, surrounded by a towering pile of books.
“You bet,” sighed Ginny. “Sean’s a good seeker, yeah, but he’s got nothing on Harry,” she confided quietly. “I just hope he’s good enough.” She may be a little bias towards her boyfriend, but it was true, in fairness.
“Well, Harry was the best seeker Hogwarts has seen in years, wasn’t he?” pointed out Hermione “It’s always going to be impossible to replace him. Plus, I imagine you preferred to look at him?”
“More the other way round,” Ginny retorted. “I caught him staring a few times in my fifth year. He nearly got his head taken off by a bludger more than once,” she added, smiling.
“And you wonder why I don’t play Quidditch?” Hermione laughed. “I’ve got to say,” she said slowly “It’s odd, without them.”
“Probably having the time of their lives without us,” Ginny lamented. “Still, last year,” she said bracingly. “Only NEWTS to go through,” she said as an afterthought, her smile disappearing.
“If you put as much effort into studying as you did into Quidditch or Harry, you’d get all O’s,” Hermione said without looking up.
“I’m not you Hermione,” Ginny retorted. “What time was I supposed to go for my careers advice anyway?”
“Half twelve, wasn’t it?” Hermione said absently. “Mine was yesterday.” Ginny wasn’t listening.
“That’s in five minutes!” she wailed. “I’ll never make it!”
“Scourgify,” Hermione said calmly, flicking her wand at Ginny. She was coated in pink bubbles for a second, but came out clean.
“Just scour me clean why don’t you,” Ginny snapped, rubbing her arms.
“I had to do it repeatedly to Harry and Ron in their sleep last year,” Hermione explained. “They never seemed to remember to get washed. Now go get changed and hurry up!” she reminded her.
“Right,” Ginny muttered, flying up the stairs, leaving Hermione rolling her eyes downstairs. She did remind her of Ron sometimes. It wasn’t long before she returned, her hair tied back in a tight ponytail. “I’ll see you later Hermione,” she called over her shoulder, disappearing through the portrait hall. Thanks to her outings with Harry two years previously, during their brief dating period, as well as being the little sister of Fred and George, she’d learned half the secret passageways around the castle, and managed to get to her meeting with McGonagall just a few minutes late.
“Sorry I’m late Professor,” she gasped, holding her sides. “Quidditch,” she explained simply.
“Quite understandable,” said McGonagall briskly, shuffling some papers on her desk. “I’ll forgive you as long as you beat Slytherin. Not that I’m bias anymore, but…oh well, I still am,” she admitted. “Now, you have good grades, not as good as Bill or Percy but better than Charlie, and obviously better than Ron and the twins,” she added, a flicker of humour crossing her face. “So you have a wide choice of careers in front of you.” McGonagall looked at her over her glasses. “Have you any ideas?”
“How about an Auror, like Harry?” suggested Dumbledore’s portrait. “I’m sure you’d both be delighted to work with one another,” he added, his blue eyes twinkling. Ginny blushed beetroot.
“How Potter ever managed to get into the Aurors is beyond me,” sneered Snape’s portrait. “Personally I think they’ve gone soft.”
“So defeating You Know Who is soft now is it?” snapped Ginny, glaring at Snape.
“Really, Severus? You’re still bitter towards the boy?” said Dumbledore softly.
“He’s just like his father,” Snape grumbled.
“ENOUGH!” snapped McGonagall. “Please, I’m trying to conduct a meeting here. And for the record, Severus, Harry is nothing like as arrogant and as big headed as his father, who was a lovely boy and a brave man in his own right,” she added sternly. Snape glowered at her, but did not responded, merely choosing to sit and sulk.
“Apologies Miss Weasley,” McGonagall said coolly. “But Professor Dumbledore has a point, have you considered the Auror office?”
“A little,” admitted Ginny. “But fighting dark wizards seems to be Harry and Ron’s department,” she laughed, and McGonagall smiled.
“Indeed. In that case, I know something that may interest you.” She pulled out a small envelope, with a small seal bearing a large double ‘H’ with two Harpies either side of it. “This is from Gwenog Jones, captain of-”
“The Holyhead Harpies!” said Ginny loudly, unable to contain her excitement. The Harpies were her favourite team.
“Correct,” smiled McGonagall. “Miss Jones is planning to attend several Quidditch matches this year in order to find new, upcoming talent,” she explained. “Since you’re by far the best chaser I’ve seen since James Potter-” Severus gave a loud, irritated snort at this- “I thought you should be told,” McGonagall finished, giving Snape a withering stare.
“You think I’m good enough?” Ginny said after a minute, dumbstruck.
“Absolutely,” McGonagall replied. “I’ve taught here for over forty years, and you’re one of the most talented players I’ve ever seen. If you like, I can send off a recommendation to Miss Jones asking her to watch out for you,” she smiled. Ginny’s jaw dropped.
“Er-yes!” she blurted out. “Please,” she added nervously.
“Consider it done,” McGonagall said, beaming at her. “You may go.”
“Thank you Professor, so much,” said Ginny sincerely, standing up and barely restraining herself from grabbing McGonagall and pulling her into a Molly Weasley like hug.
“It’s not a problem,” McGonagall assured her. “But, Ginny,” she said, surprising Ginny with the use of her first name, “make sure you still beat Slytherin,” she said with a smile.
“I won’t disappoint you,” Ginny said firmly. “You think Harry’d let me live it down if he won the Quidditch cup and I didn’t?” And with that, she headed back to the common room, her head in the clouds.
“I prefer this welcome to our last one,” Harry whispered as they appeared in the empty living room of Malfoy Manor.
“I can’t see why, they seemed so pleased to see you,” Ron muttered back. “Where should we start?”
“It would help if I knew where we were,” Harry replied. “Is this the living room we escaped from?”
“Not unless they managed to refit the chandelier when they were in Azkaban,” Ron pointed out. “Kreacher, where are we?”
“The third floor, Master Wheezy,” croaked the elf quietly. “This room is not often used.”
“Good work Kreacher, stay as quiet as possible” Harry said appreciatively. “Homenum Revelio,” he breathed, with a tiny flick of his wand. “Shit.”
“What?” said Ron nervously.
“The house is crawling with them. At least twenty,” Harry replied worriedly, glancing around nervously.
“Should we call for backup?” Ron whispered, his voice slightly higher than normal.
“We’d be too noticeable,” Harry reminded him. “They can’t know we’re here, or Dedalus is gone.” Ron paused for a moment, then nodded, a look of grim determination set firmly on his face. “Kreacher, climb on my shoulders. We should try and find the cellar. It seems logical,” Harry mused.
“Since when were you Hermione?” Ron whispered as they eased the door open, checking their corners before proceeding.
“Since one of us had to step into her shoes, and you seemed…unwilling,” Harry said, winking at him.
“She still has nightmares about this place you know,” Ron said after a moment. “She wakes up crying and she doesn’t stop,” he admitted miserably.
“I know how that feels,” Harry said sympathetically. “I could talk to her?”
“If you think it’ll help,” shrugged Ron. “But you know Hermione, she won’t admit it’s bothering her.” He paused for a moment, and then said “why are we talking about this now?”
“I have no idea,” Harry replied. “But we’ve found the stairs.”
“Anyone around?” Ron muttered. Harry recast the human detection spell.
“They’re round the other side,” he replied. “Let’s go!” The three of them hurried down the stairs, Kreacher bouncing up and down on Harry’s shoulders, apparently thoroughly enjoying the ride.
“I remember this room,” Ron whispered darkly. “This is where they brought us in. The cellar entrance is the third door on the left.” Harry tried to open it, but it was looked. “Alohomora,” Ron said, tapping the lock. Harry tried again, but it was still locked.
“Wait,” he muttered, fishing in his ever present moleskin pouch. “Here,” he said, handing Ron a small penknife.
“What’s this for?” he said blankly.
“It’s a knife I charmed with Sirius’s portraits help,” Harry explained quickly. “Remember the one that broke in the department of mysteries?”
“Brilliant,” said Ron softly, sliding the knife into the lock. There was a small click, and the door slid open. “Your Dad and his mates were bloody geniuses,” he said fervently.
“We owe them so much,” Harry agreed. “Let’s go,” he added, casting the human detection spell again. “There’re two people down there,” he muttered, concerned.
“We can take one,” said Ron confidently. “Come on.” They descended the horribly familiar stairs, and Harry could tell Ron was trying hard not to remember the last time they’d been there, and Hermione’s agonised screams. Harry doubted he’d ever forget Ron furiously trying to break down a brick wall in order to get to her. In fact, he doubted he’d ever forget the sounds of his best friend screaming-it made his skin crawl.
“Listen,” Ron murmured, breaking Harry out of his little reminiscing moment.
“You can’t break me,” came Dedalus’ voice, barely recognisable under the obvious pain he was in.
“Doesn’t mean I can’t try,” replied another man, this one stronger, more angry. “CRUCIO!” Dedalus’ screams filled the room.
“Quickly!” Ron urged, pulling out his wand. They finally reached the cellar, and saw Dedalus tied to a chair, heavily bleeding, yet his face still defiant. Standing over him was the all too familiar gigantic figure of Thorfinn Rowle.
“Stunners, on three,” Harry whispered, holding up his fingers. On three, two identical beams of red light burst out, striking Rowle in the back. He was thrown forwards by the combined power of the two spells, flying clean over Dedalus and crumpling against the wall. Harry threw of the cloak. “Kreacher, we need to go!” Harry urged. The elf nodded, looking nervous, and raced forward, grabbing Dedalus.
“Wha-how-who?” Dedalus stammered weakly.
“No time,” Harry hissed. “Take Kreacher’s hand. Oh, this is Kreacher by the way.”
“Nice to meet you,” replied Dedalus in a dazed voice.
“Kreacher thinks Master Harry’s friend is drunk,” Kreacher said apprehensively, looking wary of taking one of his hands.
“It’s fine Kreacher, we need to go, now,” Harry said urgently. “Diffindo,” he said, flicking his wand at Dedalus. His bonds fell away, and he rubbed his wrists painfully. “Take my hand,” Harry insisted before Dedalus could say anything. The old Auror took Harry’s hand in his, and Harry was startled to feel how frail it is.”
“Harry,” Ron said, not quite taking Kreacher’s hand. “Rowle…”
“I suppose-” Harry began, but he was interrupted by a loud bang, and voices at the top of the stairs.
“Quickly, there’s intruders!” roared the first voice, and Harry realised with a chilling sensation that it was Grindelwald.
“RON!” Harry yelled, panicking, Ron grabbed Kreacher just as Harry did. The little elf, looking scared out of his wits, turned on the spot and pulled them all with him with a loud crack. They landed in a messy heap on the floor of the Auror office.
“Dedalus!” exclaimed Hestia, running forward to hug her partner. “You’re okay! You look like shit,” she informed him.
“Bastards gave me a rough time,” said Dedalus, uncharacteristically grim.
“I swear,” said Ben Williamson, shaking his head, “you two get better by the day.” He clapped Harry and Ron on the shoulder, and Harry noticed his best friend’s ears turn their usual maroon.
“Well done boys,” said Robards, a hint of something like pride in his voice. “I trust there was no trouble?”
“We had to stun Rowle in the basement, but other than that, nothing,” Harry replied.
“We’d have brought him in, but Grindelwald somehow realised we’d gotten in and started coming down the stairs, so we had to leg it,” Ron explained.
“It doesn’t matter,” said Gawain offhandedly. “Hestia, please escort Dedalus to Saint Mungo’s. Richman, go speak to Arthur Weasley and ask him to have a Hit Wizard squad posted there,” he ordered. “Potter, Weasley. Good news. I’m letting you interrogate Mr and Mrs Malfoy,” he gave them a rare smile. “Enjoy.”
“Thorfinn…I’m afraid I cannot allow this to go unpunished,” said Gellert softly. “You let him get away. We are vulnerable.”
“My lord,” whispered Rowle, terrified. “Forgive me.”
“I will,” said Gellert calmly. “Crucio!” Rowle writhed on the floor, howling in pain. Gellert kicked him savagely in the face, breaking his nose. “Get out of my sight. Rookwood!” he thundered. Rowle staggered out of the room, shaking with shock and fear.
“Yes, my lord?” said Rookwood warily.
“We need to guard the manor at all times. I want people on the gates, the doors, patrolling the corridors and everything,” Gellert ordered. “Go to Nurmengard by portkey and relay that to Valko, have him send over anyone he can spare.”
“Yes sir,” replied Rookwood, hurrying out the room. Gellert sighed and mopped his brow. The intrusion had shown him that despite all his defences, his headquarters was not impenetrable. He had to prepare for what he now saw as an inevitable attack, and quickly. Sabine had still had no luck with the Malfoys, as they were under top security in the Ministry, unreachable by Sabine for the time being.
As for the influential Blaise Zabini and his mountains of gold, he had disappeared off the face of the earth, so it would seem. Gellert, despite infiltrating half the ministries in Europe, had heard no news of the elusive Zabini since he left the Ministry after he was acquitted. Still, it wasn’t like was important, Gellert reasoned.
Not now anyway. The enemy was at the gates, figuratively speaking, and Gellert was going to have to use all of his cunning, brilliance and skill if his new regime was to survive.
“I’m not doing anything for you two,” spat Lucius Malfoy the instant Harry and Ron walked through the door. Harry felt Ron tense up beside him, and could almost feel the heat from his anger. He touched his arm briefly, just to calm him down, before sitting opposite Lucius and Narcissa.
“Why?” said Harry, deciding to play the ‘good cop’ role he’d seen on Dudley’s TV shows. He doubted Ron would need any help playing the bad cop, such was his general hatred directed towards the entire Malfoy family.
“If it wasn’t for you, Saint Potter, we’d never be in this mess,” replied Lucius coldly. “The Dark Lord would still be in power!”
“Don’t act like you didn’t want it over Malfoy!” growled Ron angrily before Harry could reply. “You hated him because of what he did to your family.”
“How dare you-” began Lucius, his eyes blazing, but Harry interrupted quickly.
“We’re not here about Voldemort,” he said, enjoying the flinch from both the Malfoys. “We’re here about Grindelwald.”
“As you bloody well know,” added Ron scathingly.
“I won’t tell you a thing,” Lucius said firmly.
“Why?” said Harry, his temper close to breaking point. “You left him, you obviously don’t want him in charge!”
“That doesn’t mean I want you lot in charge either!” Malfoy snapped. “I’ll go back to prison!”
“Maybe not,” said Harry carefully. “If you help us, I’ll do everything I can to keep you out of Azkaban.” He saw Ron give him a nervous glance out of the corner of his eyes, and he knew why-he was really sticking his neck out here. If Robards didn’t like his idea, he may as well hand in his own resignation.
“What could you do Potter?” scoffed Malfoy. “You’re a newbie, a trainee!”
“He’s the boy who lived,” Ron snapped angrily. “He’s got more influence than you ever had or will.”
“Oh be quiet Weasley,” snapped Malfoy. “Working for the Aurors doesn’t stop you from being Potter’s lackey!”
“Ron!” said Harry sharply as Ron went for his wand. “Mr Malfoy, Ron is my equal as he always has been, you will treat him with the same respect you do with me,” Harry said firmly, glaring at Malfoy, who made a small noise of irritation in his throat, but chose not to say anything else. With a small inward sigh, Harry turned to Narcissa, hoping she’d be more reasonable. “Mrs Malfoy,” he began. “You know what we’re trying to do. We have to bring him down. He’s dangerous,” Harry said quietly.
“And not just to us, you as well,” Ron put in. “He’ll be after you, just like he’s after poor little Draco.” Narcissa breathed in sharply, and Lucius’s eyes narrowed.
“He’s right,” said Harry quietly. “Until Grindelwald’s behind bars, or dead, your family won’t be safe anywhere.”
“We can’t guarantee your safety,” Ron said darkly. “Madame Edgecombe and Ares Flint were killed in Azkaban, just because they might talk. Imagine the lengths Grindelwald will go to get rid of you two.”
“You betrayed him,” Harry put in. “I doubt he likes that.”
“What’re you saying?” Lucius asked, a small frown on his face.
“I’m saying, that with your help, we can bring him down,” Harry replied. “You can help us stop this war before any more people die.”
“What can we do?” asked Narcissa, speaking for the first time.
“It’s your house,” Harry reminded them. “You can remove the wards you set up so we can break through the rest.”
“It’s the only way you and Draco will be safe,” Ron said firmly. “Surely that’s worth it?”
“It is,” said Lucius quietly after a minute. “Alright Potter. I’ll do it.”
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