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Chapter 29 : Chapter 28 Reunion
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A/N Can you tell I am getting uncreative with the chapter titles?
Huge news! All chapters will be posted within the next 24 hours (the final chapter pending my betas email). I am going over seas, and so have been working very hard to churn out and complete the chapters, and I am so relieved that it is complete!
Looking forward to your reviews.
The moment Ginny realised Harry had returned home, she had sensed something was wrong, even before she had pounded on the laundry door and listened to Ron trying to brush her away. As surprised as she was to hear Ron’s voice, safe and sound, her focus was on Harry, who was unresponsive to her pounding and insistence he come out. Her first thought had been that he was hurt, that Ron was trying to help him before allowing her to see him, but as soon as Ron had emerged from the laundry and sought out the unused Hangover potion in their cupboards, she knew what had happened.
She couldn’t blame him, at least not entirely. Despite Ron’s insistence that he hadn’t, Ginny knew her husband had been drinking, that after four years of resisting the niggling taste in the back of his mind he had been unable to withstand it in the face of what was happening. Nevertheless, she felt angry and disappointed towards him, furious that he would succumb so easily. There were more important things to do than get plastered like he used to. Their son was depending on him, on both of them, and he was supposed to be looking for him.
Waiting outside the laundry door, Ginny ignored the concerned look her mum was giving her, knowing that she too had seen Ron retrieving the Hangover Potion he had taken in to Harry. With her arms folded she waited impatiently, listening at the door as Harry and Ron talked quietly, their words inaudible. Anger simmered in Ginny's stomach, though she kept her temper as she waited for Harry to emerge, to see what damage he had done to himself. She needed to know everything, to know where he had been and who he had talked to. Had he found something useful? Or had he found something devastating? What was the reason behind his sudden fall from sobriety?
As the laundry door opened Ginny stepped forward, unfolding her arms to hide her anger. Yet it was Ron who entered the kitchen, avoiding their mother's gaze as he closed the door behind him, and so Ginny refolded her arms to show just how displeased she was.
"Harry needs a change of clothes," he told her, grimacing at the look she gave him. "Can you show me?"
Considering this, Ginny paused. "Why?" she asked, a moment later setting off towards the staircase. Molly followed the two of them, heading upstairs to check on James.
"He's just a bit grubby, that's all," Ron replied, his hands in his pockets as he looked over his shoulder as they walked.
"Where the hell has he been?" she asked angrily, stomping up the staircase and into her bedroom. "He's supposed to be-"
"I called him," Ron cut her off. "Asked him to come and pick me up. I was waiting at a pub," he apologised meekly.
"Why would you bring him there?" she scolded him, entering their closet and fetching Harry some clothes. "To a pub? I mean come on!"
"I'm sorry," he said solidly, his own temper finally reaching breaking point. "I wasn't given the luxury of a coffee shop!"
Ginny stopped at this, sighing with regret. "Sorry," she apologised quietly. She looked up at her brother, taking note of his dishevelled appearance and the long cut on his cheek. "Are you alright? Where have you been?"
"That's not answering my question. I haven't seen you since Thursday, when I called you. Harry said you were at Azkaban?"
Ron nodded slowly, clearly wondering how to explain. "I came across Luther Fallacks. I let him take me in."
"Why would you let him?" she asked in disbelief, removing a pair of Harry's preferred jeans from the drawer. She tossed them towards Ron.
"Well, I was hoping I'd come across Ted," he said sheepishly. "Or at least hear something."
"And did you?"
Ron shook his head. "Have you erm...heard from Hermione at all?"
"No," Ginny replied, grabbing Harry a fresh shirt and jumper. Worry and guilt seized her now...she hadn't even thought about Hermione lately. "I haven't. Why, haven't you?"
"No," he said in worry, clenching his fists. "When did you last see her? Monday night?"
"Tuesday morning," Ginny corrected him, standing there with her hands on her hips. "At Harry's court appearance, when she represented him."
"Did you see her leave?"
Remembering the last moment she had seen her best friend, Ginny hesitated, not wanting to tell Ron the truth. "Yes. She was leaving with Luther Fallacks."
He grimaced, having feared this. "Dammit...I thought I heard her too."
"Heard her where?"
"Where they were keeping me. Little Hangleton," he elaborated. "Thought I was imagining it...Merlin, I've gotta talk to Kingsley."
"He's downstairs I think," Ginny stated, heading for the landing. "Come on."
"Wait," Ron said urgently, looking as though he had just remembered something. "Erm, Harry will need shoes."
"W-what happened to the shoes he was wearing?"
"So he'll clean them," she rolled her eyes, heading for the landing again until Ron blocked her. Just as he did, she thought she heard muffled voices downstairs, followed by the soft sound of the front door closing.
"At least get him some new socks," Ron insisted.
"What are you playing at?"
"Get him some socks!"
"Socks?" she said in disbelief, suddenly realising he was purposefully keeping her from Harry.
Dropping the clothing she had gathered, she elbowed past her brother and dashed down the staircase, glancing out the window and looking for Harry. Was he trying to leave? Shoving past her father who stood by the front door, Ginny opened the door and raced outside, looking for her husband. But he was nowhere to be seen, the snowy front yard showing only his footprints.
"He said he'll be back shortly," Arthur said from the threshold, waving her back in.
"You let him leave?" she said in disbelief, coming back in from the cold.
"Yes," Arthur nodded, looking a little flustered. "He said he had somewhere to go."
"He didn't say," he replied.
Looking between her father and brother, who both seemed to know something she didn't, Ginny finally exploded.
“How could you let him walk out of here?” she yelled at Arthur, surprising everyone greatly. “He's drunk!”
“He seemed perfectly fine,” Arthur argued, trying to placate her as Kingsley rushed to see what the problem was. “I can’t stop a grow-”
“Where was he going?”
"He didn't say."
"So you just let him leave? Couldn't you see he was drunk? You know his history!"
“Ginny,” Kingsley began, coming to Arthur’s defence. “He looked fine, we did-”
“What the hell are you even still doing here?” she demanded next, her temper growing and growing. She needed someone to yell at, someone to blame for their situation.
Surprised by her yelling, Kingsley faltered for a moment before summoning the manila folder he had shown her earlier. “I’ve got some more photos for you to look at.”
“Teddy is not dead,” she said fiercely. “I’m not looking at any more photos of dead kids from the morgue. Why don't you do something useful and find my son!"
The three men protested at this, trying to explain that they were looking for him, that dozens of Order Members had already been called to attention, that Mad-Eye Moody was already interrogating potential leads, but it fell on deaf ears. Ignoring them completely, Ginny marched into her office and slammed the door closed as hard as she could. Locking it for good measure, Ginny gritted her teeth and tried not to scream in frustration, settling instead for kicking her filing cabinet. So much was going through her mind right now, so many different people and questions and accusations, and she couldn’t seem to wrap her head around them all at once.
There were so many to think about, and she no longer had the capacity to care about every single one of them. Harry. Teddy. Sirius, Sharon, James, Ron, Hermione...Remus. At this thought she felt sick, and forced herself to sit down in her office chair. Folding her arms on the desk she rested her head on them and allowed herself to cry for a little while. She was completely overwhelmed, her family needing her to be in more than one place at once.
Raising her head from her arms, Ginny looked to her locked office door and listened as Vlad sat on the other side and scratched, whining for her to let him in. Raising her wand she opened the door just enough to let him in, and his long furry tail batted at the carpet before he leapt up onto her desk. Petting him absentmindedly, she took out one of her Extendable Ears and put it up against the wall, listening to the conversation between the three men on the other side. Ron was explaining what had happened, with Kingsley promising to organise someone to go looking for Hermione. If she was still in Little Hangleton, they'd find her.
The more she listened, the more Ginny's anger turned inward onto herself, knowing that her father, Kingsley and Ron did not deserve the anger she had shown them. Ron deserved nothing less than her kissing his feet for what he at least tried to do, and what he had gone through in the days that had passed. Listening intently, she came to learn that not only had he been forced to help with the Azkaban breakout, he alone had convinced the Death Eaters it was not worth killing Harry straight away as planned. He had paid for his boldness though…Ginny was pretty certain he had been tortured at least once.
“I’m a bitch, aren’t I Vlad?” she muttered, stroking Vlad’s head.
It was hard to tell whether or not Vlad agreed with her, yet he purred contentedly as she scratched him. Thinking about Tank, who had been dead for a week now, Ginny again felt the same guilt she had been carrying all week. She just didn’t have enough capacity to think and grieve for everything at once…if this didn’t end soon she didn’t know how much longer she could cope.
Listening without shame, she was unsurprised when Mad-Eye re-joined them about half an hour later, updating them on the lack of progress he had made. Soon enough this prompted their attention back to Harry, and Ginny listened intently as they each turned to Arthur. Judging by their conversation, Arthur knew where Harry had gone, despite his repeated denials.
“I trust Harry unequivocally,” Arthur whispered. “He asked me not to tell anyone. He knows what he’s doing, I could see it.”
“I know you trust him Dad,” Ron argued quietly. “But he is not in a good frame of mind. His son has been missing for a week, he killed someone last night, and today he’s been downing shots of bourbon like it’s water.”
“Arthur, Harry might need our help.”
“If he runs off half-cocked, he could get himself killed,” Ron commented, echoing Kingsley. “Teddy too. You know what these people could do to him. He might already be in trouble.”
Ginny held her breath as she waited for her father to continue, to begin explaining.
“We only spoke briefly,” Arthur began, clearly torn. “But I gave him an address.”
Arthur sighed. “I found a slip of parchment in Fallacks’ robes before I buried him. It had an address, and a time. Something’s happening at five o’clock today.”
“What address was it?” Kingsley asked in frustration, his voice beginning to carry.
“Spinners End. In Cokeworth.”
There was a sharp intake of breath from Ron and Kingsley, one which Ginny couldn’t help but echo. Though she had never been there, she knew one person who lived in Cokeworth, though she hadn’t seen Severus Snape since the war ended.
“You’re sure it’s Cokeworth?” Kingsley asked.
“Yes, I’m certain. Who lives there?”
“Snape,” Ron told him, suddenly swearing quite loudly. “What’s he up to?”
Removing her Extendable Ear, Ginny came into the dining room and looked among the three of them, beginning to understand the connection. Mad-Eye stood quietly in the corner, obviously able to see her through the wall, and he alone was unsurprised by her sudden appearance. “Did you say five o’clock today?” she asked.
“Yes,” Arthur said after a long pause. “Why? Do you know what it means?”
They all looked at her expectantly. “It’s full moon tonight.”
The full meaning of her revelation fell on all except Arthur, who alone did not understand what the implications of the full moon might mean for Teddy.
“Remus,” Kingsley muttered under his breath, looking to Ron and Mad-Eye for their agreement. They nodded in agreement.
“Wait,” Arthur began in confusion, looking at Molly who was also joining them. “What’s Remus got to do with this?”
“Everything,” Ron said bitterly, clearing his throat. “If he's transforming tonight, then someone will be bringing Teddy to Snape…that’s why Fallacks would have had the address.”
“Makes sense,” Mad-Eye agreed, his blue eye spinning around to check their surroundings. “Looks like we know where Potter is.”
“Ginny,” Molly said quietly, taking her by the arm. “What’s this got to do with Remus?”
That question rendered the entire room silent, everyone looking to one another for an indication of how to answer. Molly and Arthur looked at them expectantly, still not understanding.
"Remus is not dead," Mad-Eye explained, his tone surprisingly gentle. "We believe he is the one who has Teddy."
"Rubbish!" Arthur exclaimed suddenly, clearly offended by the accusation. "Remus is...well he’d never do such a thing!"
"I agree," Molly added naively. "What would Remus have to gain by kidnapping his own son, he'd never-"
"We don't know how Remus is involved," Kingsley cut her off. "All we know is that he is."
"But wait," Arthur frowned, still not understanding the whole picture. "If Remus is still alive, what's this all got to do with Severus?"
Ginny sighed, sitting down on the couch as she answered. "It's full moon tonight, Dad."
"Oh, I see...but Severus...he works for us now, the Order?"
"He must have known this was happening," Mad-Eye accused.
"Wait," Ron said, holding up his hand and intervening. "Don't jump to conclusions. I trust Snape, and I doubt he knew."
"He's been passing you information! He's still with the Death Eaters."
"Not as deep as he once was," Ron insisted. "They've kept this close to their chests. Snape wouldn't have known what was going to happen until it did."
“Then why would they bring the child to him?” Mad-Eye argued. “There’s obviously some level of trust.”
“Convenience,” Kingsley stated. “Remus will take Teddy there, and receive this evening’s dose of Wolfsbane.”
“That’s even if he’s taking it,” Ron commented.
This statement rendered the room silent for a few moments, each of them considering the different scenarios of Remus’ involvement. No matter how hard Ginny thought, there was no explanation for Remus’ behaviour, other than that he was trying to take Teddy back from her and Harry. But why would he disappear in the first place?
“We’re getting off track,” Mad-Eye said gruffly, coming closer to the group as a whole. “Potter will be in Cokeworth, waiting for Lupin to turn up. I say we go there quietly, provide additional cover and support for when the exchange happens.”
As Kingsley and Arthur nodded in agreement, Ron looked at Ginny uncertainly, silently asking her the question that would dictate Harry’s actions. Understanding, Ginny got to her feet and stopped the others mid-conversation.
“Harry doesn’t know that Remus is involved.”
“What do you mean?” Kingsley asked, frowning at her. “You didn’t tell him?”
Ginny shook her head at this, glancing at her mum who sat on the couch, her face stony and blank. “I couldn’t…he’s barely holding it together as it is. If he knew the truth, he’d freak out.”
“His biggest fear,” Ron added. “Is that Remus would come back one day and try to take Teddy back. When he heard that Remus was dead, Harry was relieved.”
“Understandable, of course,” Arthur muttered quietly, taking a seat beside his wife and holding her hand. “What does this mean for Teddy? For Remus?”
“Harry will go straight to Snape,” Ginny said with certainty, anticipating what Harry would be thinking. “He’ll probably be waiting inside the house for Teddy to turn up.”
“That is, as long as Snape hasn’t knocked him off,” Mad-Eye commented darkly, folding his arms and cocking his head. He looked to Ron now. “Weasley. You need to talk to Snape, he obviously trusts you.”
Ron nodded, agreeing.
“Find out if Potter’s still there.”
“Arthur and I can follow you there,” Kingsley added. “First we need to get you a wand.”
“I’m coming with you,” she quietly said to Kingsley, her tone leaving no room for argument. “I won’t get in the way.”
“Alright,” he agreed, clasping her shoulder. “Mad-Eye will stay here. He’s worried someone might come for the baby.”
Leaving it at that, Ginny gave her mum a quick reassuring hug, knowing that James would be safe with her and Mad-Eye. As Kingsley and Ron talked, she slipped by them and headed upstairs to retrieve her cloak, swapping over her slippers for the boots she had worn to the ministry that morning. At the last minute, she remembered to take her mobile phone, which despite her best hopes, had not rung all morning.
“We’re going back to Godric’s Hollow first,” Ron told her as she came downstairs. “We’ll grab a few things to help us. Another wand, some Extra-Extendable Extendable Ears, binoculars.”
“Do you think he’s alright?” Ginny asked him quietly, Kingsley and Arthur following them as they farewelled Mad-Eye and set off down the snowy driveway.
“Who?” he said darkly, raising his eyebrows. “Harry, or Teddy?”
“Both,” she said, getting more worried by the second. Would Harry really be in Cokeworth? Would Remus really be arriving there at five o’clock? It all seemed too good to be true.
“Remus wouldn’t hurt Ted, I’m sure of it.”
“But what about Harry?” she asked urgently, needing to hear his thoughts. “If Harry got in his way, would he-”
Ron threw his arm out to stop Ginny in her tracks, Kingsley and Arthur also coming to a halt behind them. In the snow ahead of them, a short little figure was rushing their way, his bobbled head only just visible above the snow that was piled high in that area. Without needing to see him properly, Ginny instinctually knew who it was coming towards her, and it was only Ron grabbing onto her arm that held her back.
"Dobby?" Ginny shouted urgently. "Dobby, is that you?"
"Miss Wheezy!" he shouted back, waving his skinny little arm in the air until he emerged from the snow and stepped onto the clear driveway. "Miss Wheezy, Dobby is looking for Mr Harry Potter!"
As Ron held her back, Arthur and Kingsley raised their wands towards Dobby, and to his credit he didn't so much as bat an eyelid. Possibly having been listening to the wireless, Dobby would have expected a less than warm greeting towards unexpected guests. Nevertheless he didn't stop talking, determined to get his message across even as Kingsley demanded he back away.
"We has your little boy!" Dobby cried, politely following Kingsley's instructions. "Teddy is at Hogwarts right now Miss Wheezy...right now."
"Teddy?" she said in shock, her knees feeling weak. "You've got Teddy?"
"Wait," Ron said firmly, feeling her try to pull away. He turned to Dobby, all three men scrutinising him. "Where is he?"
"In Mr Hagrid's hut," Dobby explained quickly. "Sally Dart found him wandering the grounds, all by himself. Terribly upset, he is."
"Take me," Ginny instructed him, wrenching her arm out of Ron's grasp and starting forward. "Dobby, take me to him please."
"Wait," the three men implored her, trying to make themselves heard above Dobby's shout of agreement.
"It could be a trap," Arthur advised her.
"Death Eaters could be waiting for you," Ron said, trying to grasp her arm again.
"I don't give a shit," she said fiercely, shoving him away. "Dobby, take me to him right now."
"Let me come with you," Ron insisted, grabbing Arthur's wand as it was offered to him before grasping Ginny's arm again. "Dobby, take me too."
When Dobby looked to her for approval she nodded hastily, not caring if Ron accompanied her. Her hands trembled as she offered one to Dobby who grasped it hard before turning on the spot, apparating them straight into the grounds of Hogwarts like only a House-Elf could. As soon as the tight feeling released her Ginny looked around urgently, unable to move fast enough as she saw Hagrid's hut a few yards away. Barely hearing Ron's insistence that he go first, Ginny took off running towards the hut, seeing the smoke rising from the chimney and the lights on inside. Flying across the short stoop, she burst through the door and stumbled inside, immediately engulfed by the warmth cast by the large fireplace.
It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the dark but cosy interior, the first thing she saw being the moleskin coat and crossbow that saw in the corner by the quaint kitchen. Moments later her eyes drew her attention straight to Teddy, who clung to the girl who stood by the fireplace, holding him safely in her arms. His face was hidden in her neck, ignoring Hagrid who was trying to coax his attention with a plate of rock cakes and a mug of cocoa. As the door opened Teddy seemed to flinch, renewing his hold around the poor girl’s neck until he looked up and saw Ginny.
"Mum?" he said in surprise, rubbing his red eyes.
Crying out with relief, Ginny flew across the room as Teddy reached for her, roughly pulling him into her arms. The moment she took him back in her arms he began crying, his arms wrapping around her neck as his fingernails dug into her skin, refusing to let go. The enormous pressure that had been weighing on her chest for a week immediately vanished, replaced by her son's weight and presence, the sound of his tearful sobs being the best thing she had ever heard. Not even seeing Harry stand up after Voldemort had tried to kill him would match this moment.
"Can we go home now?" Teddy asked, gulping for breath as he spoke into her neck. "Mum?"
"Yes," she managed to say, her voice heavy with tears of her own. "Yes, of course we can."
"Right now," he insisted, wrapping his legs around her waist and holding on.
Barely feeling the pain he was causing her tender stomach, Ginny stroked his hair and kissed his cheek, trying to coax him into looking at her. "Are you alright?" she asked him, seeing Ron standing beside her assessing him. "Are you hurt?"
He shook his head briefly, still not raising his head from her neck. Standing there in the middle of Hagrid's hut, she shared a beaming smile of relief with the half-giant, who was currently dabbing his eyes with his enormous handkerchief. Ron was carefully looking over Teddy, finally managing to make him look up.
"He looks alright," Ron said in relief, also giving Teddy a kiss. "Hey kid, we missed you."
Teddy immediately looked away, beginning to cry again. Taking advantage of his distraction, Ron charmed Teddy's backpack off his shoulders as Hagrid offered Ginny his chair, which she gratefully sat down in. Still Teddy refused to let go of her, even to sit on her lap, and so she settled for rubbing his back and stroking his hair just the way he liked, still trying to talk to him. He appeared to ignore her, his fingernails still digging into her skin as he continued crying. Ron was looking through Teddy's backpack, showing Ginny his bottle of water and the wrapper from a chocolate frog, demonstrating that he had been well cared for.
"Teddy?" Ron said as Arthur and Kingsley arrived, looking upon the scene with shouts of relief. "Do you want Woody?"
Sniffling, Teddy looked up long enough to take Woody back from Ron, his eyes looking at his uncle suspiciously before he did so. Clutching Woody to his chest, he resumed his prior position and continued ignoring them all, even Ginny who tried to coax some answers out of him.
"Where did Woody lose his hat?" she asked, noting that it wasn't in the bag. "Did it get lost somewhere?"
Still Teddy did not reply, prompting Ginny to think that they ought to get him straight home, back in a familiar environment. With an awful pang, she realised that they would not be able to stay in that house any longer, that their location had become too great of a target for Death Eaters. Soon enough they would have to leave.
"Ginny, your phone's ringing," Ron said urgently, helping her stand up. "Quick, which pocket?"
"In my jeans?" she said absently, unable to reach it herself. Not paying attention as Ron fumbled to remove the phone from her jeans, she thanked Hagrid and the two students with him before leaving quickly, Kingsley and Arthur walking by her side as they re-emerged into the cold outside air. Dobby was waiting for them outside, offering to apparate her straight home.
Ginny looked Teddy over once again, his blonde hair tickling her cheek as it began to turn red like hers. Just as Ron had assessed, Teddy appeared unharmed. He hadn't been starved of food or neglected in any way, with his hair smelling as though it had recently been washed. He was clean and well dressed for the weather, warming charms cast over his clothing to keep him comfortable. With an awful pang, Ginny remembered that it had been Remus to do all these things for Teddy.
"Wait," Ron said urgently, rushing to follow them outside. "Kin-Kingsley, wait!"
"What is it?" Kingsley asked, all of them stopping and turning back to Ron, whose face was pale white in fear.
"It's Harry," he said shortly, gesturing to the mobile phone. "He's in trouble."
"Where?" Ginny asked, feeling Teddy perk up at the mention of his dad's name. "Where is he?"
"I don't..." Ron muttered, holding the phone to his ear. "I can't hear him...must be Hogwarts."
Kingsley rushed back over to him, flicking his wand at the phone to strengthen the Muggle technology that was struggling amidst all the magic of Hogwarts. They all stood there waiting for Ron to say something else, with even Teddy looking up expectantly. Frowning, Ron sighed as he removed the phone from his ear and looked at the screen, suddenly pocketing it.
"He's at the Shrieking Shack," he informed them. "With Malfoy."
Somehow, Harry was certain that he hadn't actually passed out as Malfoy belted him across the head with a heavy chair, knocking him over and disabling his attempts to call out to Remus. Despite his consciousness, his body had not responded to his commands to move, to get up and fight Malfoy who pounced to reclaim his stolen wand. Harry had simply lain there on the floor, his eyes only half open as Malfoy swore loudly, lashing out and kicking the flimsy walls.
Struggling to form coherent thoughts, Harry was helpless as Malfoy dragged him over to the corner and rolled him over onto his front. Wrenching his arms behind him, Malfoy secured them with a strong binding curse before leaving him, swearing loudly all the while. Laying on his front now, Harry's eyes closed of their own will, and he seemed to sleep for a short while, recovering from the hard blow to his head.
When he awoke, a sharp pain throbbed on the right hand side of his face, reaching down the back of his head and neck. Dried blood warmed the side of his face pressed against the floor, though when he tried to move he felt a fresh surge from his scalp, and so he stopped. As his blurred vision began to clear he breathed deeply, coughing a moment later as lingering dust entered his lungs.
Seeing that he had awoken, Malfoy returned to Harry and rolled him over onto his back, eliciting a short groan from his chest. Malfoy breathed heavily, his hands clenched into fists as he suddenly shouted, making Harry wince. Forcing himself to sit up, Harry smirked at the way Malfoy turned pale at the sight of the blood on his face.
"Can't handle blood?" Harry asked, the words slipping from his lips before he thought about it. His head was clearer than he expected, and with only his hands bound behind his back he managed to shift himself over to the wall, leaning back against it with a sigh of relief. "Surprising, coming from you."
"Shut up," Malfoy said furiously, knowing that Harry referred to the Sectumsempra attack that had maimed Sirius and killed Fred. Producing a heavy white cloth, he pressed it against the side of Harry's scalp.
"Don't do me any favours," Harry spat bitterly. "If you're going to kill me, just do it."
"I said shut up!" Malfoy shouted, still holding the cloth there. "You've caused enough damage already, so just shut up for once in your life!"
Despite the situation, Harry smiled to himself. Malfoy was panicked, unsure of what to do now. He was shaking, constantly clenching his fists as he removed the cloth from Harry's scalp and messily healed the cut.
"What damage have I caused?" Harry asked quietly, his stomach beginning to form knots as he began to recall what had just happened, who he had just seen. Looking across the room, he looked at the trap door that Remus Lupin had just disappeared down, taking Teddy with him. Remus Lupin....he was supposed to be dead.
"You just couldn't do as you're told, could you!" Malfoy shouted angrily. "You could have had your kid back by now! This could have been over!"
"Bull shit!" Harry shouted right back. "You're liars! You were never going to give him back! Remus is taking him, isn't he?" he accused.
"Why didn't you come?"
"To Little Hangelton! Last night, you could have had your kid back, but you didn't show up!"
Furious, Harry ground his teeth before answering. "Luther Fallacks tried to kill me. He wanted Voldemort's wand, not to bring me to you!"
Malfoy faltered at this, surprised by Harry's outburst. "What did he do?"
"He tried to kill me!"
Clenching his hands in his hair, Malfoy stared at Harry with a sour look on his face, deciding whether or not he believed him. "Where is he now?"
"So you go on the national news?" Malfoy exclaimed, clenching his wand tightly. "You tell everyone? What happened to keeping this quiet?"
"This has gone on too long to keep quiet," Harry replied solidly. "I wanted my son back."
"You're lucky he's not dead," Malfoy said lowly, looming over Harry. "As soon as we realised, everyone went crazy! You're lucky Remus left when he did!"
"Don't!" Harry shouted, feeling genuine pain at the sound of Remus' name from Malfoy's lips. "Don't blame this on me! This is all you! What did you do to him?"
"The kid's fine."
"Remus!" Harry shouted again. "Remus Lupin! What did you do to him? Why would he do this?"
Malfoy sighed, turning away from Harry. He stood on the spot for a moment, facing the opposite wall before pulling out a chair at the grand table that dominated the room. Still facing away from Harry, he began to speak again.
"Everyone will be here soon," he muttered lowly. "They'll tell you what to do next."
"Who will be here?"
"Th-the others," Malfoy sighed.
Leaving the conversation at that, Harry tried to feel relief. This is what he had wanted, contact with those in charge of all this. They would tell him what they needed, they would negotiate Teddy's return. But the pain in Harry's chest escalated as he thought of Remus again, tears welling up in his eyes as he took a shuddering breath. After four and a half years, Remus wasn't gone after all. The relief Harry had felt at the news of his death had vanished, and the recurring fear that Remus would take Teddy away from him had returned with full power. That's what this was all about...it had to be. What other agenda could Remus possibly have? But why would he have left in the first place?
Shifting around to get comfortable, there was a soft clatter as Harry's mobile phone slipped out of his cloak pocket and onto the wooden floor. Seeing Malfoy turning around, Harry coughed loudly and shifted his leg to cover up the phone, seeing an opportunity present itself to him. Seeing Harry's furious look, Malfoy turned around again and tapped his foot, providing Harry with yet another opportunity. Moving with the rhythm of Malfoy's tapping, Harry twisted himself around and picked up the phone behind his back, clutching it tightly as he turned it around in his hands.
Shifting again, he wrenched his arms as far as he could towards his side, twisting his head around so that he could see the screen. Checking that Malfoy still wasn't looking, Harry coughed again as he began to dial, selecting the first phone number that appeared on the screen. There was a brief moment of suspense as the signal began to connect, and when he heard the faint dial tone begin Harry covered up the earpiece with his thumb, leaving only the microphone exposed. Seconds later Harry saw that a connection had been made, the call timer beginning to count. He couldn't hear Ginny's voice, all he needed to do was make sure she could hear his.
"How long do we have to wait?" Harry asked, speaking loudly.
"They'll be here soon."
Malfoy sighed. "Sure."
"What will they do with me?"
"Hopefully? Hopefully they'll knock you off and end this!"
"But what about Teddy?" Harry asked, still speaking loudly as he prayed Ginny could hear. "Will Remus bring him back?"
Malfoy didn't reply to this.
"Why the Shrieking Shack? Malfoy?" Harry asked next, providing Ginny with a location.
Still Malfoy did not reply.
"Are they going to hurt anyone else?"
Finally Malfoy turned around to look at Harry, but the moment he did Harry saw the realisation dawn on him. In the darkness of the room, the light from the screen gave away Harry's secret telephone call.
"What the hell are you doing?" Malfoy shouted, launching himself across the room towards Harry.
As he was shoved against the wall, the mobile phone clattered out of his hands and onto the floor a few feet away. Snatching it up, Malfoy hesitated as he looked at the screen upside down, not entirely sure of what to do with it. He threw it against the wall very suddenly, though Harry could still see the glow of the screen, the call still connected.
"It's a Nokia," Harry said patiently, enjoying Malfoy's anger. "It's not going to break."
The mobile phone caught fire, the melting plastic and hardware casting a heavy black smoke that made both men cough.
"That's overkill," Harry muttered to himself, relieved when Malfoy began clearing the smoke.
"Who did you call?" Malfoy demanded, turning his wand onto Harry.
There was no incantation, but the pain of the Cruciatus seized Harry unexpectedly, making him clench his teeth and groan. It radiated through his body, clenching tighter and tighter until Harry managed to speak, gasping out, "You don't need to do that!"
The pain vanished as he uttered the first word, leaving him panting for breath. "What was that for?" he asked, his teeth still clenched as his body began to relax. The pain lingered as a reminder, like the cramps in his muscles when he didn't cool down after training.
"Who did you call?" Malfoy demanded again, his wand still pointed at Harry.
"My wife," Harry said honestly.
"And she-she heard?"
"Heard where we are, who I'm with," Harry answered. "Ron will be here by now, ready to take you."
In his full blown panic, Malfoy automatically looked out into the hallway, as though expecting to see Ron there. He stood there in silence for a moment, completely still as he tried to think. Not concerned with him, Harry looked at the trapdoor he could see in the corner, wondering if Remus was still under there with Teddy. Would he be listening? Perhaps he had already made it to Hogwarts and made his escape, possibly through the Forbidden Forest or out through Hogsmeade.
"Get up," Malfoy said very suddenly, turning back to Harry. He looked determined once again, his mind made up.
Growling at him, Malfoy came over and dragged Harry to his feet by the bindings that held his hands together, shoving him against the wall. A moment later the bindings around his wrists fell off, Malfoy backing away from Harry and pointing towards the door.
"Come on, let's go."
"Where are we going?" Harry asked, not moving a foot.
"Would you do as you're told?" Malfoy shouted.
He tried not to, but Harry couldn't help but laugh a little, knowing he had shouted that phrase at Teddy once or twice in the years gone.
"Where are we going?"
"I'm getting you out of here," Malfoy said sharply, grabbing the top of Harry's arm and trying to make him follow. "You want your kid? You need to talk to the others."
"I'm not going anywhere," Harry said decisively. Wrenching his arm out from Malfoy's grip, he folded them across his chest and looked at Malfoy, challenging him.
Malfoy was incredulous, and pointed his wand at Harry again. "Now."
"No," Harry shook his head, glancing around the room. Straightening up the chair Malfoy had knocked askew as he dove for the telephone, Harry sat down and put his feet up on the table, all the while wondering what the hell had come over him. "I've been a perfect hostage up until now. I'm finished."
"There is no finishing!" Malfoy shouted, also unable to believe Harry's actions. "You can't just decide it's over!"
Malfoy raised an eyebrow, certain he had misheard. "You've got to be kidding."
"I'm not," Harry said very seriously.
"Well then you're insane," Malfoy decided. "We have to leave."
"If my family turn up and we're surrounded by the Order, they'll kill that kid."
"Assuming they can find him."
There was a long silence, Malfoy and Harry looking at each other as they each waited for the other to act. Still unable to believe what he was trying to do, Harry forced himself to continue.
"You can still end this," he said very seriously, hoping he got through to Malfoy.
"You don't understand..."
"Dumbled-" Harry began.
Malfoy lashed out at the mention of this name, punching Harry hard. He fell from the chair and onto the floor, the chair toppling over after him. "Don't start on this shit with me, Potter."
"Dumbledore gave you a chance," Harry reminded him from the floor, feeling his cheek begin to swell. "He offered you forgiveness, protection."
"He could have never given me that!"
"Protection for your whole family!" Harry cried in frustration, remembering that night very clearly. "He gave you options, he would have bent over backwards for you! He died for you."
"Like hell he did!" Malfoy shouted in horror, his wand beginning to shake. "No, Snape killed him."
"And his death protected you from the same fate," Harry replied. "Let me give you the same chance he was offering."
Malfoy shook his head at this, beginning to pace nervously. "You can't give me anything Potter. I have everything I need."
"Except freedom," Harry argued. "You don't have to kill again."
"I'm not going to kill you."
"I'm talking about my son."
Looking up sharply, Malfoy seemed insulted by this. "I'm not a kid killer!"
"If you refuse my help, and Teddy dies, his death will be on your hands."
"No, I'm no-"
"Can you cope with that?" Harry asked him, determined to rattle him. "I mean it's one thing to attack and kill Fred Weasley, at least he had a chance to fight you back."
"You've got it-"
"But Teddy's four years old, he's got no chance. Can you have his death on your conscience?"
"It's not like that!" Malfoy shouted angrily, suddenly throwing a broken piece of timber that sat on the table. "This isn't up to me!"
"I'm offering to help you!" Harry shouted right back, beginning to stand.
"Stay down there!"
"I will protect you," he continued. "Draco, I can help you. All I want is my son back. Give me that, and I'll do anything to protect you."
"I said sit down!" Malfoy screamed now. "Sit down, and shut up!"
Harry raised his eyebrows at this. "Actually, you were thinking of leaving."
"Well I can't now, can I?" he said furiously, pointing into the hallway. He swore loudly, screwing up his face in frustration before turning back to Harry. "I can’t apparate! Weasley's out there!"
"How do you know?"
Malfoy didn't need to explain. A moment later a silvery figure emerged in the doorway, Ron's Jack Luther Patronus sitting there watching them. It wagged its tail when it saw Harry, bobbing his head excitedly before settling down.
"This is your chance," Harry said patiently. "Walk out there with me. I'll vouch for you."
"Will you vouch for my mother?" Malfoy asked sarcastically. "For my father?"
"Yes," Harry said without hesitation.
Malfoy shook his head at this, his jaw twitching. "It's not that simple...I can't leave them…they’re my family."
"Maybe you'll have to."
"You think I haven't considered that?" Malfoy asked next. "You think I haven't considered abandoning them?"
"I'm sure you have."
There was a long pause, Malfoy swallowing heavily. “You can’t offer me anything, Potter. And I can’t give you what you want.”
“All I want, is my so-”
“He’s long gone!” he cried in frustration. “If Lupin still has half a brain, he and the kid will be gone, alright?”
“Where will they go?” Harry asked quietly, watching as the Jack Luther Patronus pranced past Malfoy towards Harry, sitting down beside him and licking the back of his hand.
“I don’t know,” he insisted. “If I knew, I’d be there now! Everyone’s looking for him, they want him back as leverage.”
“You could find him,” Harry bargained, trying to get back to his feet until Malfoy flexed his grip on his wand. “If you find him for me and bring him back, I’ll vouch for you. Your parents too…trust me, please.”
“You can’t do anything for them.”
“People trust me…if I say they’re not to be punished, people will listen.”
Malfoy shook his head, suddenly looking back into the hallway.
“You could be the hero here,” Harry added, pleased to see the way that word gained Malfoy’s attention. “I could tell them you helped, that you were a double agent.”
“It’s not that simple.”
“I’m offering you a fresh start,” Harry reminded him. “For your whole family. Just bring back my son, and I’ll help you.”
“It’s not that simple,” Malfoy repeated, beginning to stand a little taller. “My parents won’t leave the Death Eaters. I won’t betray them.”
Harry said nothing for a long moment, still clinging to the last sliver of hope that Malfoy would help him. The reluctant determination in his eyes was enough to tell Harry that he would not abandon his parents, even for freedom from the Death Eaters and all the protection that could be provided. Unwillingly, Harry felt a surge of respect for Malfoy, knowing that his dedication to his family was almost as strong as his own.
“So that’s it then?” Harry asked quietly.
“Yes,” Malfoy sighed, relieved by Harry’s submission. “That’s it.”
Nodding slowly, Harry felt the strength and resolve leaving him, unable to take any more disappointment. “I’ll go with you,” he agreed quietly. “I’ll do whatever they want.”
“Good,” Malfoy said breathlessly, clearing his throat and looking utterly relieved. The pressure had come off his shoulders…in a short while his prisoner would be someone else’s problem, and the life of a young child would not be his responsibility. “Get up.”
Brushing away the Jack Luther Patronus, Harry got to his feet and stood tall, waiting as Malfoy gave his instructions.
“We’re going outside,” he said sharply, taking Harry by the arm. Roughly pushing him out into the hallway, he placed the tip of his wand to the back of Harry’s head. “You’re going to tell Weasley to back off, alright?”
“I understand,” Harry muttered, taking one last glance at the trap door which Teddy and Remus had disappeared beneath.
They walked down the short hallway, the Jack Luther racing ahead of them and exiting. Strangely, Harry’s heart was calm, his hands and breathing completely steady as they approached the front door, stepping over the broken railing from the staircase. Numbness and a complete sense of unreality were upon him, comforting him the way alcohol had done in the past. He cared little about what happened next, as long as he and Malfoy managed to make a clean get away. He could face the Death Eaters, he could face anything, so long as there was negotiation for Teddy’s safe return. Ron would stand down if Harry asked him to.
As instructed, he reached out and grasped the door handle, turning the knob and opening the door. Kicking Malfoy’s discarded cloak out of the way, Harry pulled the door completely open and looked outside, not at all surprised to see the rather large crowd of people that had gathered outside. Just as he had expected, his simple phone call to Ginny meant that dozens had come to his aid, however their wands were held by their sides, and Harry suspected they had heard the conversation inside the shack. Harry stepped outside with Malfoy close behind.
Seeing the crowd outside Malfoy began to falter, taking a hasty step back inside the shack and taking Harry with him.
“It’s alright,” Harry said quickly, flinching as Malfoy’s wand pressed hard against the back of his head. “Jus-”
"Put your hands where I can see them," Malfoy instructed, continuing when Harry raised them to shoulder height. “Tell them to take down the wards.”
“Alright,” Harry agreed, looking over his shoulder. Moving slowly, he stepped back outside so that he could be seen. Looking back outside, he watched as Ron approached the shack, his hands empty and held up just as Harry’s were.
“Are you alright, mate?” he asked Harry, stopping a few yards from the front porch.
He nodded reassuringly. “I want you to take down the wards.”
“Why?” Ron asked, looking behind him at Malfoy.
“We need to apparate,” Harry explained, preparing his first lie. “Malfoy’s going to help me find Teddy.”
Ron raised his eyebrows at this, slowly turning to look over his shoulder. Following his gaze, Harry watched as Kingsley suddenly turned around and raced off, urgently shouting to someone.
“Malfoy?” Ron called, taking another step closer.
“Don’t come any closer!” Malfoy shouted angrily, squeezing Harry’s arm painfully.
Ron stopped where he stood, nodding in agreement. “Malfoy, I want you to let Harry go.”
Hearing Malfoy’s sharp intake of breath, Harry rushed to speak over him. “Ron, just take the wards down. I’m okay. I want to go with him. Just the two of us.”
Ron ignored this, still looking at Malfoy. “Let Harry go, and I’ll take the wards down. You can go, you have my word.”
“No, Ron,” Harry insisted, sensing Malfoy growing more and more agitated. “I want to go with him. He’s helping me, he’s helping Teddy.”
Ron smiled at this, finally looking back to Harry. "You don't understand."
"He's helping me, Ron," Harry insisted again, wishing he would back down.
"Take down the wards!" Malfoy shouted, shoving his wand hard against the back of Harry's head. "Do it, or I'll hurt him."
"Just do as he says, Ron."
There was a flurry of activity from the trees where Kingsley had disappeared, but Harry focused his attention on Ron, trying to make him listen. Behind him, the Order members began to raise their wands towards Malfoy, agitating him further. Inexplicably, Ron refused to back down.
"It's over, Malfoy," he said calmly. "It's done. Lower your wand."
Groaning in frustration, Harry tried to remain calm. Why couldn't Ron just trust him? With a sinking heart, Harry was reminded of the fact that Malfoy had killed Fred. "What are you doing?" Harry continued desperately. "Just back off Ron! Let us..."
Harry trailed off, seeing a flash of blonde hair in the corner of his vision. Looking right, his heart stopped as he saw Ginny standing only a few yards away, carrying what initially looked like a bundle of clothing. A heartbeat later, the bundle of clothing moved, a head of bright blonde hair turning to look directly at Harry. Teddy looked at him with wide eyes, his face bright red and shining with tears. Harry gazed at him in utter disbelief, unable to believe what he was seeing. Was someone tricking him? It couldn't be real....it couldn't possibly be his son.
Teddy's surprised voice was all Harry needed to lurch into action, the small word being all that was necessary to tell him what to do. Not even thinking, he wrenched his arm out of Malfoy's grip and leapt down the rickety patio towards his son, who was so close, but still so far away.
"Dad!" Teddy shrieked, suddenly pushing out of Ginny's arms and scrambling down to the snowy ground. He yelled out again as he got to his feet.
Harry had never moved so quickly, shoving past an Order member in order to reach Teddy. The space between them closed in a heart beat, Teddy falling silent when Harry finally engulfed him in his arms, pulling him to his chest and holding him tightly. There was shouting all around them, Malfoy being swiftly brought down before he could do anything but gape at Teddy's surprise appearance. Harry heard nothing but the sound of Teddy's quiet sobs and heaving breaths, the sound signifying that it was all over now.
Weak with shock, Harry fell to his knees in the snow, prying Teddy's arms from around his neck and attempting to pull back from him. He trembled as he tried to make Teddy look at him, needing to assess the quality of his well being.
"Look at me," Harry requested, his voice thick with tears of his own. "Ted? Look at Daddy."
Teddy finally listened, raising his head from Harry's shoulder and looking at him. Watching his son's bottom lip tremble as heavy tears rolled down his cheeks, Harry couldn't remember ever feeling this happy, this relieved. Nothing could possibly top this moment, nothing could possibly bring him more relief than having Teddy back in his arms. Brushing away the tears, Harry smoothed his son's fine blonde hair off his face before kissing his cheek, pulling him back to his chest as Ginny lowered to her knees beside him. Together they held Teddy for a few moments, letting him cry as they turned to each other. So much had happened during the last work, with more than a few harsh words being exchanged between one another, and now it seemed a long forgotten fable.
"Thank you," Harry whispered, pulling her close and kissing her gently.
She nodded in understanding, kissing him again and relaying the words back to him. Their bittersweet moment soon came to an end, unseen faces ushering the two of them back to their feet. They needed to keep moving, they needed to return to safety. There was still an operation to enact, still opportunities for Death Eaters to be caught unaware as they approached the Shrieking Shack. Rising to his feet and setting off with Teddy in his arms and Ginny by his side, Harry knew that although it was all over, in reality it was not.
"Ted," Harry whispered to him with a smile, digging around in the pocket of his jeans for the red plastic hat he had been given at Snape's. "Look...look what I found."
"Woody's hat," Teddy whispered in disbelief, reaching out a trembling hand and taking it. Moments later it was returned to Woody's head, secured there with a Permanent Sticking charm that should have been in place long ago.
Without looking back to determine what had become of Draco Malfoy, Harry readjusted Teddy in his arms and took Ginny's hand. Together, they followed the Order's directions and quickly left the vicinity of the Shrieking Shack, seeking the safety and sanctuary of their family.
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