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Chapter 36 : Draco Malfoy's Plan
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Slowly, Albus turned toward the voice. He pointed his lit wand in its direction and saw that there was a very small opening to his left. It appeared to be another pipe, but one much smaller than the one he and his friends had just been in. Albus crept toward it, trying not to make any noise.
He turned to John, Kaden, and Amanda. “What do you think?”
“I think we should get out of here,” Kaden said immediately, stepping back. “I thought we were just going after Malfoy.”
“I bet Malfoy's down there with him,” John said.
“But why?” Amanda asked as she walked over to the pipe. She stuck her head in, making her voice echoey. “Why would he come back here?”
“Can you see anything?” Albus asked.
“Not much,” Amanda said, climbing fully into the pipe.
“We should just go back,” Kaden said, his voice wavering. All his bravery from being the first to enter the Chamber was gone.
“I don't know,” Albus said. “We've come this far...”
“Albus, I think Rose might've been right,” Kaden said. “Let's just go-”
Kaden was interrupted by Amanda's shrieking. There was a loud splash, a clunk, and then more shrieking. Albus turned quickly back to the pipe. Amanda was gone, a small pile of rubble in her place.
“Amanda!” Albus screamed, stepping over to the pipe.
“Albus!” she shouted back. “Help!”
“What's happening?” John asked.
“Told you we should've gone back!” Kaden shouted.
“Well, we can't go back now,” Albus said, climbing into the pipe. “C'mon!”
Albus had to crouch as he walked in order to fit through the pipe. John and Kaden followed him, occasionally tripping over rocks as they went. Albus splashed ahead of them, his wand lighting the few feet in front of him. They followed Amanda's shrieks until they grew muffled and disappeared all together.
Finally, the pipe emerged into a small chamber, not unlike a small version of the chamber they'd just been in. It was wetter than the rest of the Chamber of Secrets and the far wall contained a metal grate that appeared to let out into the lake. But the water wasn't going through it.
Albus's attention, however, wasn't focused on the magically contained lake water. Instead, his eyes drew to the collection of people scattered throughout the chamber. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Amanda, in the clutches of Jarrett Willinson, who had his wand pointed at her head. Albus was just happy they found her. Jarrett was flanked by his son, Quinton, who was looking a bit worse for wear. Azkaban didn't seem to have agreed with him and he now looked far older than his early twenties.
Scorpius, Felix, and Elsie were there as well, looking very uncomfortable. Elsie was shaking and had a death grip on her brother's hand. Scorpius stood next to them and he seemed very upset. The only one who seemed at all okay with the situation was Felix, whose grimace seemed to be coming from his sister's grip on his hand, not on the situation.
Albus didn't recognize the other three adults at first. Then he remembered their pictures from the Prophet. The shorter woman was Dolores Umbridge, her grey hair greatly resembling a beehive around her head. Her skin was deeply wrinkled and she didn't much resemble the person in the photograph, but her eyes and bizarre grin were the same. The other woman was about a foot taller and just as ugly. Her hair was stringy and mostly brown, with streaks of grey. Her nose was long, crooked, and boasted a large wart, giving her the look of a classic Muggle's version of a witch. All that was missing was the green skin. The man resembled her, although he was shorter and more dumpy. Both were sneering. Albus assumed they were the Carrows.
“What are you doing here, Potter?” Scorpius asked, clearly trying to sound more confident than he was.
“Shut up, Malfoy,” Jarrett snapped. “I'll ask the questions. And I can only assumed they followed you three. Whether it was intentional on your part, I have no idea.”
“Can't we just go?” Scorpius demanded. “We did what you wanted-”
“No, no you didn't,” Jarrett interrupted. “You did what your father wanted and then you did part of what we wanted. And therein lies the problem.”
Albus was thoroughly confused. His eyes went from Jarrett to Malfoy and back again, attempting to figure out what was going on. What exactly had Malfoy's father asked him to do?
“I never said I'd do what you wanted us to do,” Malfoy muttered, averting his gaze.
“And yet you did.” Jarrett sneered.
“But I didn't want to!” Malfoy looked scared now. He pulled his wand out of his robes and held it up shakily.
“Oh, are you going to duel me?” Jarrett asked, shifting Amanda in his arms so that he could point his wand at Malfoy.
Jarrett sighed. “This is pathetic. I don't like taking advantage of fragile children, and yet here I am-”
“I'm not fragile!” Malfoy shouted.
“You just lost your grandfather,” Jarrett said. “You're fragile. So is your father, and he's easy to deceive.”
“He is not!”
At that point Elsie started crying. It started out as small sniffles but within ten seconds blew up into loud sobs. Everyone in the room turned to stare at her. Albus felt bad. It was obvious she hadn't wanted to be here.
“Oh, shut her up!” Jarrett said.
“Elsie, you have to be quiet,” Felix muttered.
“I just want to leave, Felix!” Elsie sobbed. “I didn't want to do this. You know I didn't want to do this!”
“You didn't have a choice, Elsie. He's our uncle and he needed our help.”
“Could someone please just explain what's going on?” Kaden asked loudly. “Or even better, let go of Amanda so we can get out of here and let you lot get back to whatever it is you're doing?”
Jarrett laughed. “Oh, she's not going anywhere. You three are free to leave. I really don't care what the hell you do.”
Albus exchanged glances with John and Kaden, who both shrugged. None of them were going to leave, of course, but Albus was utterly confused. For the past four years Jarrett and Quinton Willinson had tried to kidnap him and now, all of a sudden, they wanted Amanda? They'd never wanted her before.
“Oh, you haven't put it together yet, have you Potter? I thought you were smarter than that.”
“Put what together?” Albus asked, still confused.
Jarrett squeezed Amanda tighter. “She's the Prime Minister's niece, who happens to be a witch. She's currently the best bargaining chip I could possibly have. I only wish I'd known about her earlier, but thanks to your uncle the entire wizarding world knows she's the Prime Minister's niece. I must thank that reporter.
“Potter, do you realize how bad Laurentis would look if anything happened to the Muggle Prime Minister's niece a little over a month after she took office? And just days after her appointed Head Auror revolutionized the department? Oh, it would look awful, Potter. So we, all of us, are going to sit tight until the Aurors get here and then I'll make my demands and the Aurors will give in because if they don't, I'll kill the Prime Minister's niece.”
Albus's mouth fell open. He stared at Jarrett, whose grin resembled that of a person who just won the lottery. Amanda looked terrified, her eyes darting everywhere and a few stray tears running down her cheeks.
“Of course you can leave, Potter,” Jarrett said. “Go get your dad. Go get the other Aurors. It'll only bring them here sooner. And don't even try to hex me because if you do, this lot-” Jarrett gestured to the Carrows, Umbridge, and Quinton, “-will hex you. Your dad isn't a Ministry official anymore, Potter. It won't be as big of a crime if they hex you now.”
Albus glanced at Umbridge and the Carrows. Umbridge didn't look like someone capable of hexing anyone, given that she more closely resembled an unstable mental patient than a dangerous witch. But the Carrows, they looked capable of murder. As for Quinton, he wasn't much of a threat. Still, Albus, John, and Kaden were more outnumbered than they ever had been before.
“But why can't we leave?” Malfoy asked, his voice wavering. “Or at least me?”
“Because I might need you to do something else,” Jarrett snapped, “and I want you here because if I let you leave I doubt you'll come back. I know you didn't bring us the girl. She came with Potter, following you.”
“Why does it matter?” Malfoy asked. “The point is she's here now.”
“I don't think you would've ever brought her to me, Malfoy.”
“You're right, I wouldn't! And do you want to know why? I never wanted to help you. That's not why I agreed to this. I think you're all idiots, to be honest.”
Albus stared at Malfoy, completely shocked. Malfoy hated Albus, Amanda, and all their friends, so why wouldn't he have brought Amanda to Jarrett?
“Then why are you here, Malfoy?”
“To help my dad!” Malfoy said, his wand still pointed at Jarrett. “I didn't know you idiots were going to have a plot of your own.”
Jarrett laughed. “Now you're the idiot. You think we'd have agreed to his plot if there hadn't been something in it for us? Meaning my son, here. Not these other three. I'm not sure why they agreed to it. I'm not even sure Umbridge knows where she is, actually. She hasn't said much of anything since the escape.”
“Do you really think you're going to get anything out of this?” Malfoy demanded.
“Yes, I do,” Jarrett snapped.
Malfoy narrowed his eyes and then whipped around. In a matter of seconds, he sent five consecutive hexes at the Carrows and Umbridge. Umbridge collapsed immediately, not moving. The Carrows both went for their wands, but were too slow. Malfoy sent two more Stunners and the Carrows fell over, one on top of the other.
Malfoy turned back to Jarrett, breathing heavily. “Looks like the odds are a little different now.”
“Malfoy, what are you doing?” Albus asked, still trying to wrap his brain around the fact that Scorpius Malfoy had just helped him.
“Shut up, Potter,” Malfoy muttered. “I'm not doing this for you.”
“Scorpius, what is your problem?” Felix asked, breaking free of his sister's grip. “I thought we were in on this together.”
“I thought we were, too, until your uncle decided to do things his way,” Malfoy said. “It's like I told you at the beginning; I only did this for my father.”
Albus still didn't know exactly what “this” was, but all that really mattered now was that they were no longer outnumbered.
“The Aurors are coming,” Malfoy said to Albus. “If we can just hold them off-”
“How do you know the Aurors are coming?” Albus asked.
“That doesn't matter now,” Malfoy said as he sent a Stunner at Jarrett.
Albus turned to John and Kaden. “Focus on Quinton and Felix. No offense, but you aren't the best duelers and I don't want you to hit Amanda.”
John and Kaden nodded. Albus glanced at Malfoy, attempted to shake off the weird feeling he had from being on Malfoy's side, and started sending hex after hex at Jarrett. Jarrett, clearly unable to duel while holding Amanda, threw up a shield and didn't hex back. Albus and Malfoy silently agreed to keep going, in an attempt to weaken the shield.
Albus heard a loud crash and turned to his right. Dust was settling near where the Carrows and Umbridge lay. Once it settled, Albus saw that a large boulder had fallen from the ceiling and had landed on top of the female Carrow.
“I think she's dead,” Kaden said.
Albus swallowed hard. Death had never crossed his mind when he'd come down here. Trying to push it from his thoughts, he returned to hexing Jarrett's shield.
Kaden shouted something Albus couldn't make out and Albus turned just in time to see him land against the wall. Albus ran over and knelt next to him. “Kaden! Kaden!”
Kaden stirred and looked at Albus. “Albus?”
“Kaden, thank God,” Albus whispered.
“I've got an awful headache,” Kaden muttered.
“Don't fall asleep,” Albus said. “Stay awake. You've probably got a concussion.”
Albus heard splashing and looked up. Five wizards stumbled through the pipe, their wands out.
“Wands up!” one of them shouted. Albus didn't recognize the voice. “Nobody move!”
“Are they all here?” another asked.
“I believe so,” the first one said as he walked around the room. “Looks like the tip was correct.”
“Not so fast!” Jarrett shouted. “I've got a few demands.”
“You're in no position to make demands,” the first Auror said.
Albus turned back to the pipe and let out a sigh of relief. His dad had been the fifth Auror to arrive. “Dad. Kaden needs to go the hospital wing. Now.”
Harry knelt down next to Kaden and assessed him. “We'll have this lot rounded up soon. Then I'll take him.”
“Let go of the girl, Willinson,” the first Auror said. He took a few steps forward and Albus was able to see the side of his face. It was Robert Johnson, the new Head Auror.
“She's the Prime Minister's niece,” Jarrett said. “You'd better be careful, or I'll kill her.”
“You're outnumbered, Willinson,” Johnson said. “I wouldn't try anything if I were you.”
“It'll be a huge scandal if she dies down here.”
“Oh for God's sake,” Johnson muttered. “Expelliarmus!” Jarrett's wand flew in a perfect arc out of his hand and Johnson caught it. “Petrificus Totalus!”
Jarrett attempted to dodge the spell, but still keep hold of Amanda. He failed and collapsed to the floor. Amanda ran forward and Harry caught hold of her, directing her to sit next to Albus and Kaden.
The Aurors conjured ropes and tied up Jarrett, Quinton, the Carrows, and Umbridge. None of them said a word and none of them questioned any of the suspects. If Albus hadn't known any better, he would've thought the Aurors knew exactly what they were going to find down here. It was all very confusing.
Johnson and the three unfamiliar Aurors grabbed hold of the criminals and took them out of the chamber. Harry was left with Albus and the rest of the students.
“Dad, what's going on?” Albus asked.
“I have my suspicions, but unfortunately I don't have any proof,” Harry said. “Let's get you up to the hospital wing.”
Harry carried Kaden, who had since passed out, and led the odd group out of the chamber and back to the pipe that led to Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. Once there, he pointed his wand at the pipe and it turned into stairs. A few minutes later, they were back in the loo. Albus blinked a few times at the bright lights and then his eyes rested upon Myrtle, who was floating near the far stall.
“You're back!” she shouted. “Is he dead?” Myrtle gestured to Kaden.
“No,” Albus said. “Just unconscious.”
“Oh.” Myrtle seemed rather disappointed.
“Let's go,” Harry said. “Hospital wing.”
Albus had no real reason to stay in the hospital wing. After muttering about how Albus and his friends were always getting into trouble, Madam Pomfrey proclaimed him in perfect health. John, Amanda, Scorpius, Felix, and Elsie were also fine. Kaden, on the other hand, had a concussion and was not allowed to sleep. Albus, John, and Amanda remained in the hospital wing with him. Rose and Matt joined them as well, despite the fact that it was well past curfew.
Harry left after delivering them to Madam Pomfrey, but promised to return in a few hours. That had been three hours ago and Albus was still waiting for him to come back, and for an explanation. They'd explained the entire ordeal to Matt and Rose, who both agreed that Malfoy's behavior was very strange.
The doors to the hospital wing finally opened and Harry walked in, looking incredibly exhausted. Madam Pomfrey, upon seeing him, hurried off to her study.
“Kaden,” Harry said. “How are you feeling?”
“Like someone ran my head over with a truck,” Kaden said.
Harry chuckled. “You'll feel better soon.”
“What was that about, Dad?” Albus asked. “Why was it almost like the Aurors expected all the prisoners to be there?”
Harry sighed. “No one knows for sure. The official record is that they received an anonymous tip, but none of the prisoners are explaining why they were in the Chamber of Secrets or how they got in.”
“When we were down there, Malfoy kept saying he was doing something for his dad, but he never said what it was,” Albus said.
“That helps confirm my theory,” Harry said. “I suspect that Scorpius Malfoy, along with Felix Willinson, were instructed by Draco Malfoy to find a suitable location to house the prisoners for safe-keeping until Aurors could be brought in to capture them. This, of course, had to be done after the Auror Department was reorganized by Robert Johnson, in order to make both him and Laurentis look good. If Laurentis looks good, Draco Malfoy looks good.”
“But that means that Laurentis and Draco Malfoy knew where the prisoners were,” Albus said.
“Yes, yes it does,” Harry said quietly.
“Uncle Harry,” Rose began. “You don't think that Laurentis organized that break-out, do you?”
“It's crossed my mind,” Harry said. “But it's irrelevant, because I have no proof. Nor do I have proof of my theory about Draco Malfoy and his son. Alecto Carrow is dead, Dolores Umbridge is clinically insane, and Amycus Carrow isn't talking. Jarrett and Quinton Willinson aren't talking, either, and I somehow doubt Scorpius Malfoy will rat out his father. So, for now at least, this will remain a theory.”
“But Dad, it's illegal,” Albus said.
“It is,” Harry replied. “Don't worry about it, Albus. The prisoners are back in Azkaban, which is all that matters right now.”
“Albus. Worrying will do nothing. In my experience, people who are corrupt like this are never able to keep it a secret long. Whatever happens will happen.”
“What about Scorpius?” Amanda asked. “Why did he switch sides like that?”
“Scorpius Malfoy has had a rough year. His grandfather has been quite ill for a long time, which has put stress on both of his parents and thus, on him. I am sure he was pressured into this by his father and then when it came time for him to get further into it, by helping Jarrett Willinson get hold of Amanda, he realized he didn't want to be involved, not would his father have wanted him to be involved.”
“Is he going to get in trouble?” Albus asked.
“No,” Harry said. “As far as the record is concerned, Scorpius, Felix, and Elsie stumbled upon the prisoners just as you lot did.”
“That doesn't seem fair,” Albus muttered.
“No, it doesn't,” Harry said. “But on the other hand, I think Scorpius Malfoy deserves a break this year. I think he's grown up a lot over the past few months. You might find that he's not quite the bully he used to be.”
“I'll believe that when I see it,” Matt muttered. “I guess that's why he wanted to get into the Shrieking Shack, though. Probably wanted it for the prisoners.”
“I suspect that, too,” Harry said. “I must say I'm glad he chose the Chamber of Secrets.”
“Me, too,” Matt agreed.
“I have to return to the Ministry,” Harry said as he stood up. “This will be in the paper tomorrow, although I have no idea what type of story they're going to spin or how involved you will be. Whatever they publish, don't take it too hard. Please do not mention my theory to anyone. The last thing we need is an article in the Prophet claiming that Harry Potter is a conspiracy theorist.”
Albus laughed and said good night to his dad. Madam Pomfrey let them sleep in the hospital wing that night, considering how late it was. Kaden, of course, had to remain awake. Albus was surprised by how easy sleep came, considering what he'd been through that night, but it was nearly two in the morning. He realized with a sinking feeling that he still had exams the next day. Herbology and Ancient Runes. He hoped they wouldn't go too horribly.
A/N: Thanks for all the lovely reviews! I will be getting to them as soon as I can. The next chapter will the last in this novel. I'm not sure when the fifth novel will be up since I have yet to come up with a concrete plot for it. I'm going to take a break to write other stories that I've had in my head for a while.
It's the end of October, which means it's nearly NaNoWriMo season! I'll be continuing to update Between Here and Somewhere throughout November, as well as posting the last chapter of this next Friday. But you won't see much else from me until December, as I'll be busy writing an original fic.
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