Chapter 14 : XIV. The Great Plan
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The three women sat in silence, the only sound in the kitchen provided by the clock on the wall, that was steadily ticking away the time. Rose was seated in between her aunt and her mother, who kept throwing her mixed looks. Her mother was somewhere in between curiosity and the urge to scold her for her behavior and her aunt was trying to keep the smile of her face as she looked at both the Weasley women. Finally, after an eternity of ticking from the clock on the wall, Rose was the first to break.
“What is it? Why are you two looking at me like I just resurrected Voldemort or something?”
“I think we would’ve been less shocked about that, dear. We have seen Voldemort before, you know. We’ve just never seen you kissing the Malfoy boy.”
“Man, aunt Ginny. Scorpius is a man, not a boy.” Rose retorted, which only made her aunt’s smile bigger.
“Rose, I just don’t think that it was an appropriate moment…”
“Appropriate, mother? An appropriate moment?” Rose snapped, looking at her mother in shock. “They’re going out there, who knows what they’re going to find? These people are killers! And you’re telling me about appropriate moments?”
“Look, if you think I’ve never had to deal with killers, or lunatics, or if I don’t know the feeling of seeing the people you care about face unspeakable danger…”
Ginny was looking at her niece and her sister-in-law with worried eyes and flicked her wand at the door, casting a Silencing Charm. Some things weren’t meant for her parents’ ears.
“Oh, I know all about your quest to save the world! I’ve known it all along! You’re so amazing, aren’t you? Nothing I could ever compare to! Even the moment when you first kissed Dad in public was more important than what I just did! Well guess what? I’m tired of never living up to your expectations. Because it’s not my fault! You just set the standard so damn high, neither Hugo or myself could ever reach it!”
“Rose Ginevra Weasley, I will not have you talking to me like that!”
“Ladies, ladies, let’s not do this right now.” Ginny started but the shouting cut her right off.
“I will talk to you however I please! You drove me out of the country with your fears and insecurities! If you had just taken the time to understand what I wanted to do, instead of shutting it down from the start, maybe none of this would have happened! Do you think I enjoyed rebuilding from the ground, going away to some strange country where I didn’t know the language, the people, the food? But I had to do it! I needed to be somewhere where I could be Rose, not Hermione Weasley’s daughter!”
Silence echoed through the kitchen at these last words and Rose was now standing, looking into her mother’s eyes. Hermione had a look of pure shock on her face and was at a loss for words. She opened her mouth and closed it, then burst into tears.
Whatever Rose had expected, this was not it. The sight of her mother crying blocked out all the words she was about to say and she looked at her aunt, trying to figure out what do to. The woman shrugged slightly and looked at Hermione with sad eyes.
“Is this what you think I wanted to do?” she finally said, wiping her face with the back of her hand. “Turn you into me? I wanted to protect you. So many people have wasted their lives in search of that bloody stick. So many have died, so many killed. And now you’ve seen it. You’ve seen what people are capable of to get that wand. To get those horrible objects. I wanted a different life for you, a life safe from death and fear and uncertainty. I just hoped you’d see that. You think W.A.D.A. was my first choice as a career for Hugo? No, it wasn’t. But it was a safe choice, I could sleep well at night knowing no harm could come to him.”
Rose had started crying as well and she sat down on the floor and embraced her mother’s legs. Hermione started smoothing down her hair as the girl sobbed.
“I’m sorry, Mom. I’m so sorry. I don’t want us to fight anymore.” Rose hiccuped and Hermione smiled.
“I don’t want us to fight either, sweetheart. I love you, you know that right?”
“I love you two, Mom.”
Ginny looked at them with a smile on her face, but her face shifted as she saw a figure approaching in the distance.
“Ladies, let’s break it up. We have company.” she said and the Weasley women got up as well and turned to the window. Brent Grantham was nearing the house at a fast pace, his face grave. He was carrying a Muggle briefcase, that seemed out of place with his black wizard robes. Ginny rushed forward to open the door for him.
“Mrs. Potter, Mrs. Weasley, Miss Weasley.” he greeted in a hurry and opened the briefcase, extending some papers to Hermione. “My instructions were to report to you if anything comes up tonight.”
Hermione took the folder and opened it on the table.
“That’s fine. What did you find?”
“I tracked the house through the deeds and found it was purchased by a woman named Matilda Greene. I did some digging through the archives and found that Greene was her maiden name. She married somebody by the name of Ethelbert Smith.”
Hermione’s head snapped up at the name and her eyes went out of focus, muttering under her breath.
“Hermione… what’s going on?” Ginny asked and placed a hand on the woman’s back.
“Ethelbert Smith, I know that name. I came across it. If only I could remember where.”
“If his last name is Smith, wouldn’t he be related to Hepzibah Smith, Helga Hufflepuff’s descendant?” Rose asked, making her mother’s head snap in her direction.
“Hufflepuff, that’s it! Ethelbert Smith is Zacharias Smith’s father!” Hermione exclaimed.
“How on Earth would you know that?” Ginny asked.
“I did background research on the people we didn’t know back when we founded the D.A. You didn’t expect me to let some strangers close to Harry, with Voldemort on the loose. However, I didn’t make the connection to Hufflepuff.”
“How could you miss this, Mum?”
“Well, when I found out about the cup and Hufflepuff’s descendant, I was a bit preoccupied with not getting killed. What with us being on the run and all.” she threw an annoyed look her daughter’s way.
“Mrs. Weasley, do you happen to know the whereabouts of this Zacharias Smith you’re talking about?”
“No, I’m afraid I don’t. We haven’t had any contact with him since the Battle of Hogwarts. If he isn’t in the Ministry’s books, then he kept a low profile all this time.”
“But he’s the one who’s behind all of this!” Rose said and grabbed the papers from her mother’s hands.
“There is no way to be sure, Rose.” Ginny said. “Smith was a cocky little bastard but I hardly think he’s capable of this.”
“But this is just it. These people went to such great lenghts to abduct an Auror, to kill the exact people that would make an impact on Harry. They stole wands, they used Muggle methods of bio-engineering, then they send an address in an envelope and leave a paper trail? Look, Smith may be a common name in the Muggle world, but if you’re a pure-blood or half-blood and your name is Smith, you are related to the Smiths descending from the Hufflepuff line. There are no coincidences where magical families are involved. I’d stake my wand out on this.”
As soon as the words left her mouth, realization washed over her and she turned to Grantham, who wore the same shocked look on his face. He understood as well.
“Derek Smith is the mole. They walked into a trap.”
Harry spun around, his wand drawn and looked at the face of the newcomer. He was older than when they last saw him, back when they were fifteen years old, but there was no mistaking the sneer on his face or superior attitude.
“Took you long enough, Potter. I was starting to suspect that you wouldn’t show. I would’ve had to take more drastic actions. I’m somewhat saddened though. I would’ve loved to meet your lovely niece, Miss Rose.”
“You leave my daughter out of this!” Ron shouted and threw a curse at Smith. The latter deflected it without effort.
“Expelliarmus!” he shouted and Ron’s wand flew out of his hand, before Harry could react. Ron was then pulled across the room and Smith grabbed him from behind, holding his wand against Ron’s throat.
“Not a move, Potter! I’m not foolish enough to disarm you, but if you make a move against me, you can kiss Weasley goodbye!”
Harry made a move to try and disarm Smith, but the position of his hands made it impossible to shoot at him without hitting Ron. He slowly lowered his wand, hoping for his team to come in at any moment.
“Your team won’t be here. My nephew made sure that those who entered through the basement are indisposed at the moment. The others will get to those on the grounds. You’re trapped, Potter. So either you do as I say, or Wealsey gets it. And after I’m done with him, I’ll see to Ginevra, James Sirius, Albus Severus, Lily Luna and all the other people you call family. I will kill them off one by one and save you for last so you can witness it all.”
The fact that Smith knew the names of his children was enough to send Harry over the edge. His nephew. His nephew. In the back of his mind, he recalled the letters of recommendation that came with Derek Smith’s job application. From the most notable names in Defence of their day. Shinning recommendations that made the need to check with the Auror Training program impractical. They couldn’t have known him unless he graduated from the Academy. Penelope’s house had no signs of forced entry. Like she left on her own, accompanied by somebody she knew. Her team mate. Everybody in the Department would have taken Veritaserum. His team wasn’t asked to submit to testing, because there was no doubt about their allegiance. The team that was told Rose had come home and Scorpius was in a safe house with them. What could be safer than Grimmauld, bearing the protective enchantments of hundreds of the most powerful wizards in history, including Dumbledore?
Harry thought about Teddy and Jeremiah, trapped with Derek in the basement. And of Freddie, Dean and Simone, walking straight into a trap. If Ron wasn’t in the middle, he would’ve killed Smith. Forget magic, he would’ve strangled him with his bear hands.
“I can hear the wheels in your head turning, Potter. Putting two and two together, are we? Do tell me if there is any way I can help.”
“Yes, you can crawl back into whatever hole you came from and die,” Harry spat.
Smith’s cruel laughter scratched Harry’s ears as it echoed through the room.
“You’d like that, wouldn’t you. Don’t worry, I’ll disappear. As soon as you give me what I want.”
“I will never give you what you want. I do not negotiate with criminals.” Harry said stiffly, his face betraying no emotion.
“Now very noble of you. But we’re old school mates, aren’t we? It’s not like I am a criminal. I am merely fulfilling the task I have been set.”
“Which task is that?”
“To get you to use the Elder Wand, Potter. We can’t have centuries of old magic decaying away in the old fool’s tomb, by his side. Now, I knew you’d never get it yourself, so I decided to help you.”
Smith pointed his wand at the wall and the old, shattered bookcase started sliding across, revealing a glass case, filled with dozens of wands, all placed on display, each labeled according to their owner. In the middle stood the Elder Wand.
“You can admire my collection, if you wish. Some of them were trickier than the others, but then again I’m always up for a challenge.”
Harry glanced from Ron, who was struggling to get out of Smith’s grip, to the wands on the wall. There were both the Patil wands, Luna Lovegood’s old wand, Neville Longbottom, Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Lupin, Severus Snape, Alastor Moody, Cho Chang, Ginny, Hermione, Ron, even Fred and George.
“You didn’t really think I joined your stupid after school club so you can teach me how to disarm, did you? I studied and made notes on all of these wands, as I overpowered each of you in practice. I knew one day it would come in handy.”
“You’re sick. What did you do, defile the corpses of Moody and Snape and take their wands?”
“Do you think I’m doing this by myself? Are you that stupid, Potter? Didn’t your old age teach you anything? The Sacred Twenty Eight, most of us at least, have been tracking the Hallows for as long as they’ve exited. Death Eaters, politicians, students, professors. We have followed the Deathly Hallows, wherever they took us. Until you decided to become noble and thought that it was in your power to stop the magical line of the oldest and most powerful wand. Are you that foolish? We couldn’t allow that.”
“This makes no sense,” Harry retorted. “I didn’t have it when you were in the D.A. there was no way for you to know I’d get it! You’re bluffing.”
“Bluffing?” Smith said incredulously and snorted. “Does it look like I’m bluffing to you?” he asked and pressed his wand harder into Ron’s skin. “I didn’t care about you! We knew Dumbledore had it! We suspected that he would be the one to face Voldemort in the end, and one way or another, the wand’s location would be known. You were his golden boy. We just tracked him through you. Malfoy made a right mess for us, when he disarmed Dumbledore but lucky for him, you got to him before us. He owes his life to you.”
“So, you want the wand? Okay, disarm me and take it!” Harry said and lifted his arms above his head.
“You wish it would be so simple. What would I do with it? Now that you’ve lost the Resurrection Stone.”
“Then what do you want? Tell me what it is. Nobody else has to die!” Harry shouted.
“Of course. I forgot I’m talking to the child who was stupid enough to try and disarm the Dark Lord. It’s simple, Potter. Join me and together we can carry on the legacy. You have the wand, it won’t work for anybody else. Nobody in known history has survived the killing curse twice. You have faced Death two times and come out on top. The wand answers best to you. Use it! Make another Stone. You are a Peverell. You can do it! Make another Stone and let us duplicate the Hallows, make the Peverell Society, your ancestors' society, powerful. Do it! Or we shall kill everybody you hold dear!”
On cue, the study door opened and some ten or twelve cloaked figures entered, pushing the Aurors, gagged and bound, onto the floor. Smith pushed Ron towards one of the newcomers and he bound Ron and placed him on the floor next to the others.
Harry looked at the faces of the members of the Society. He recognized a few, Voldemort supporters that hadn’t taken the mark, like Zabini and Goyle. Others were younger and bore resemblance to people he knew. How typical, sending children to fight their battles. In the middle of the crowd stood Derek, looking at Harry with an arrogant smirk.
“So what do you say, Potter? Are all their lives worth a Stone? Embrace your heritage!” Smith said and opened his arms.
It all happened so fast, Harry didn’t have time to react. One moment Smith was speaking to him, the next his face froze and he fell face first on the ground.
“The only thing you’ll be embracing is Azkaban, you bastard!” Rose yelled, as she emerged from under the Invisibility Cloak.
AN: And there you have it! You know who did it! I have been building towards this reveal for so long I was very nervous about posting this chapter! What did you guys think?
Only one more chapter to go after this one!
Anything you recognize belongs to JK Rowling.
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