Chapter 13 : A Day off?
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(Author Note: I haven't written in literal years, so if I'm rusty I'm sorry I've lost a huge chunk of this story on an old computer so I'm trying to rewrite from memory! Lots of new characters incoming and lots of new ships!)
The phoenixs met up with the rest of the team for the extraction they were returning to Seaside a safe house ran by Gabrielle Delacour, Fleurs younger sister. It was named because well it was right on the ocean. They frequented the place often as most of their missions now involved searching for certain artifacts in deathie residences. Draco was sure he would end up back at his childhood home eventually. Thankfully his mother wasn’t there and recon told them his father was off on some trip to Romania to do dealings with the vampires thanks to the Patil twins for their brilliant ability to make people give up information without even knowing they’ve done it.
Four portkeys later they were in the foyer of the moderate size vacation home. The muggles that owned it only stayed in it two weeks out of the year and with the random attacks that have been happening all over the country they weren’t hard to convince to rent it out. Not that they knew what it was being used for of course.
Lance greeted them with a limp he was somewhat of Gabrielle’s assistant now, with his leg never being fully restored he couldn’t keep up with the rest of the team, they were trying a muggle form of physical therapy to get him back into fighting shape. “Captain” the light haired boy nodded. “Remus informed us C team hasn’t made any of their scheduled check ins and to be on high alert”.
“Got it” Kingsley nodded. It wasn’t unusual for teams to miss check ins especially anyone involved in deep cover or covert missions, but to miss multiple was weird. “Has there been any word from the trio?”
“Not since they found the cup”, Lance frowned.
“Reach out to them, I think we found something they’re going to want to see” Kingsley patted his pocket. What they had stolen from Draco’s mansion. A gift his father had once given to his mother. Draco remembered he thought it was a good day his mother was overjoyed with the beauty of it. A harmless tiara, not knowing the dark lord had entrusted another horcrux to one of his most faithful servants. He remembered his mother putting it on for the first time she wore it almost the whole day. Stopping near every mirror, her vanity unmatched.
It wasn’t until they had found information on the horcrux’s being the remnants of the Hogwarts house figures that Draco guessed what it was his father had given his mother and why it had the effect it did. He never saw her wear it again after that day.
If it was Rowena’s Diadem then it was the second to last horcrux and the inevitable showdown, well it was coming closer.
“Any injuries?” Gabrielle turned the corner her long blonde hair swishing after her. It was no secret Serge was head over heels for her and she didn’t want to give him the time of day.
“Hello Miss Delacour” he said stepping forward. “No serious injuries to report, few bruises is all, lovely to see you again” he was like a mannered golem all stiff and rigid.
Blaise snickered behind him.
Lavender quickly elbowed him causing a grunt and Seamus to burst out with laughter.
“All right” Kingsley said with a small smile, he couldn’t begrudge the group what light heartedness they could get after the things they saw on a daily basis they needed it. “Food, rest, debriefing tomorrow” AKA they were going to be in huge trouble for not waiting for official orders tomorrow before going into that house. They were supposed to be on recon, but when the opportunity presented itself to get in without being noticed they went for it. It was the getting out that seemed to have been the issue.
“We’re probably going to be here a few days, until the trio can be found”, he didn’t add that they might not be. As far as most people knew they could be dead and they probably wouldn’t know for weeks.
“Understood”, Seamus stepped forward with a nod, he was Kingsley’s second in command and he took that job seriously. The others filed out to sleep or eat.
Audible voices down the hallway “Don’t let Lav cook anymore” someone offered
“Oh please for the love of god, Ginny do you mind? I want something edible” there was a loud crash as Lavender probably retaliated, and laughter.
Kingsley just shook his head as Gabrielle and Lance retreated back to the infirmary. He wouldn’t show it in front of the rest, but he was concerned that the disappearance of C team may be something more than he thought.
“Days” Ginny collapsed on to the bed, her and Draco had claimed a room. “Its practically a vacation, we have the sea, the sky, the constant threat of deathies”.
Draco smirked as he fell next to her. “Swim tomorrow?”
“I don’t have a suit” Ginny sat up to look at him.
“Neither do I”, his face was pure Slytherin. Ginny returned it with a roll of her eyes.
“What would my mother think?” She feigned innocence.
“Don’t worry Red, I’ll make an honest woman out of you someday, until then don’t begrudge me a little fun”, He joked.
Ginny’s eyes widened though. They never really did future talk. When you weren’t sure if you were going to be alive for it, well it just wasn’t a good idea. “Is that… something you’d want?” she asked suddenly unsure.
“What?” Draco looked at her, had he upset her somehow? It took his brain a moment to catch up with hers. He paused for a moment. Of course he wanted that. He wanted her and she was his only future, but he didn’t exactly know how to say that. “You know what I was thinking the entire time we were running around my now half burned down mansion”.
“What?” Ginny’s brows creased with confusion. Where exactly was he going with this?
“That one day, if I could get it back, you and me there”. He laughed slightly. “Kind of a stupid thing to be thinking about while running and leaving destruction in your wake, but You’d look good there.”
“Would I? Could you see me in fancy robes hosting dinner parties for all the important people?” She frowned. Did he not know her at all?
“No” he admitted, “But I could see us, with your family maybe down by the river a long table set up there, lots of tiny Weasleys and Malfoys running around”.
“Your father would be hexing you sideways for that” Ginny scoffed.
“He doesn’t exist in that world”, Draco admitted coldly. If he ever encountered his father on the battlefield he wouldn’t hesitate, not anymore. “My Mum maybe, if she survives all this. She was never like him, she just did what she thought was expected of her and married him like her parents wanted. She was so scared of him, and for good reason.”
“We’ll save her if we can”. Ginny put her palm to the side of his face. She knew he was torn about his mother.
“Miss Delacour” Serge cleared his throat as he entered the infirmary.
“Yes?” she turned. He had first seen her at Hogwarts during the tri-wizard tournament, she was much younger than, but so was he. Of course all the Beauxbaton girls were beautiful, but she was shy almost hiding behind their headmaster, not that it was hard to do the lady was a monster of a woman. He had dared to ask her to the yule ball, she politely curtsied and said she was already committed to going with someone else. Not that much would have happened he couldn’t see his younger self attempting to dance at that age. Still he put on fancy robes and watched his older classmates dance the night away. He didn’t blossom into his charming good looks much later and at that time Beauxbaton was miles away so imagine his surprise when he showed up at a newly made safe house and there she was. He made a mess of himself trying to talk to her the first time. Like some pompous idiot.
“I have a few cuts that are giving me trouble. I think I… umm… got some… well I”. He stumbled and he was doing so well to he got out ten words before he fell apart.
“Were you directly hit?” she asked examining him like she could see through him. “Where are they?”
“No” he admitted “I got some… I don’t know the word in English…” He lifted his shirt to show her three ugly black marks.
“Looks like you were grazed” she admitted her fingers went to his skin to touch around the area. He noticed her gaze shift for a moment to his face and then to his chest and then back down to the marks on his left side. Was she nervous?
“Yes that’s the word”, he smiled.
“How long ago was this?” she scrutinized as she slightly touched the wound. He cringed.
“A week”, he admitted.
“Why didn’t you bring this to me straight away?” she huffe. He swallowed; if he told her the real reason she’d think she was insane. He knew if he showed her a week ago, she would heal it in an instant, but if he waited the curse would take a stronger root and it would be much longer to remove. It was a stupid thing to do, but in his mind it was the best way to get her to speak with him for more than an instant.
“I thought it would go away on its own?” he offered. She eyed him skeptically.
“Shirt off” She ordered.
“As the lady wishes”, he removed his t-shirt completely.
“Sit there” she pointed at a stool as she brought one up in front of him. She was a good head shorter than him.
“This could have done serious damage”, she brought her wand across the wound small lights darted out every so often. There was a tingling sensation, but no pain. She really was one of the best healers he had ever seen.
“Sorry healer Delacour”, he added. She went quietly to work.
A few minutes in he spoke again “Is your sister well?”
“She is”, she looked up a moment to meet his gaze. “She just had the baby so she’s holed up in a safe house, going a bit cabin crazy and she worries about Bill, especially after the wolf attack.” She prattled on.
“So you’re an aunt?”
“I am, I’ve only seen my niece once though” she said sadly. “This war…” She trailed off as it didn’t need any more explanation. Her sacrifice was small in compared to some.
“And Lance?” he tried again “Is he doing better?”
“He’s making progress”, she stopped for a moment a small smile, “He told me what happened that night.” Serge frowned that was one of the worse nights he had since joining the Order. He was practically a fresh recruit and their first mission went haywire. He barely dragged himself and Lance out of harm’s way. Or so he thought. He didn’t get Lance far enough. He always thought if he had tried harder if he had done something. “You saved his life”, she cut off his thoughts, “almost at the risk of your own.”
Serge looked surprised. Was that how Lance saw it? The whole time he had thought it was his fault the boy had lost his leg.
“They call you Ladies Man do they not?”
“Yea, but it’s not what you think”, he reddened a bit, “On our second mission these elderly muggle women saw me in a café we were trying to law low in from some snatchers who had picked up the trail and they swore they knew me, said I was the cutest thing they had ever seen and one even went as far as to pinch my cheek and told me I was a real ladies man. It was a bit embarrassing.” He laughed nervously, “and I can’t believe I just told you that.”
Gabriella laughed. “That’s why?” She had it in her head all sorts of fanciful ideas of all the women he must seduce when they’re on missions or other members in other safe houses, not that she had seen him with anyone there.
“Yeah the team never let it go.” He looked almost ashamed.
“Well they were right, the Elderly muggle ladies” she repeated his words, “You are too cute.” She hid a smile as she looked down to continue his healing.
“Oh”, he beamed.
“Finished”, she cut off his next thought.
“Thank you Healer…”
“It’s Gabby” she interrupted, “You can call me Gabby and the next time you wish to talk to me, you can do so without putting yourself at risk Ladies Man. Am I clear?” She put her hands on her hips and gave him a look that dared him to lie about his injuries.
“Yes m’am, I mean Gabby”, He caught himself. “Very clear”.
“Good” she gave him a cheerful smile, standing she bent and kissed his cheek. “Get some rest Serge”. She walked past him and out the door that led to the rest of the house. He touched his cheek where her lips had just been.
He stood with haste ignoring his slightly tender side as he did what one could only be described as a “happy dance”.
“Mate…” he heard from behind him. Apparently in his joyous dancing Serge failed to hear the door open again and Jesse walk in. As he turned to face him Jesse looked half amused and half worried his friend may have gone insane.
“She kissed…” Serge cross the room and put his hands on the shorter boy’s shoulders, “she kissed my cheek.” He beamed.
“Uh… yea… that’s great mate”, Jesse patted his hands, “Maybe you should… get some rest or something. You feeling okay?”
“Better than okay!” Serge quickly bolted through the door leaving a dumbfounded Jesse.
“Just on the cheek?” he shook his head. “I will never understand…”
The house fell silent as the occupants fell asleep one by one exhaustion overtaking. It had been awhile since most of them had a full night.
Ginny shook away, like she had been having a nightmare she couldn’t remember the entire house was eerily quiet, not even a whisper of wind on the outside window, just the ocean waves and Draco’s steady breathing next to her. His eyes were open as she turned to him.
“Something is wrong…” He nodded and before he could reach for his wand under his pillow the door exploded inward.
“Move!” he called out as they both rolled from the bed Ginny was closest to the blast and she grabbed her wand as she hit the floor. She barely managed a protection charm as the pieces of the door flew at her; it was flimsy at best in her drowsy state. A second charm overlaid hers as Draco set to protect her from the other side of the bed.
A chunk of door embedded into her shoulder, but the rest was stopped by the charms. She grunted as she fell back against the bed. Hooded figured were spilling into the room. She counted three, they had their wands raised. Draco didn’t even breathe a word as he downed the first one, green light shooting from his wand.
Ginny sent a pulse at the door knocking the other two backwards. The first intruder fell in front of her, a slip of blonde hair fell as the hood rolled back. She knew that face. The girl she had only met a handful of times, she was from C Team.
“Draco no”, she managed to rush out as he aimed his wand on the next figure still collecting themselves. A screaming alarm started to sound, someone must have triggered it. “It’s C Team”, she rolled away from a wild curse one of them had sent. Their eyes were glazed over. They were under heavy imperio. “Stupefy”, she shot one down. Binding ropes shot over her head for the second as the second one, an older man, went down.
“Get their wands”, Draco hissed as the house erupted in sounds of battle. Ginny quickly scooped up the wands.
She attached her CD to her ear and threw Draco his. “Status?” she said praying someone was listening.
“C Team’s been compromised”, Seamus’s voice came over at almost a yell over the alarms. “It’s not just them though Deathies followed them in, they triggered the alarms.”
“We need to get out of here”, Draco insisted.
“Everyone take your individual portkeys”. Seamus ordered over the CD. “Check in at rendezvous point. Portkey any member of C team with you, keep them sedated they’re still under imperio.”
“Quickly”, Ginny reached for the dead girl. Her name was Hannah. She had been a year older than her and in Hufflepuff. She reached for the closest hooded figure, another woman she didn’t recognize.
“I got him”, Draco reached the last intruder grabbing him by the wrist.
“See you there”, Ginny breathed as she turned her ring sideways and felt the pull of a portkey. There was a commotion at the door and as reality faded she saw figures in black, one sprung forward she felt the sensation of hand wrapped around her ankle.
Draco saw the moment too late as he had turned his ring he reached for her calling her name, but he felt himself being sucked away from the room. In a panic as the world swirled around him, he almost let go of his prisoner. They both hit the cold ground with a thump. Wild eyed he looked up for Ginny. She hit the ground next to him with two hooded figures laying limp and one nearly on top of her. He was regaining his senses and he had his hands around her throat as she struggled against him.
Draco sprang ahead “Get the fuck off her!” he yelled as he tackled the man sideways. His fist connected with the first patch of skin he could see from the hood. There was a satisfying crunch of a broken nose. It was nice to not be on the receiving end this time. He swung again, a grunt a the man lessened his struggle to remove draco, and again… and again... Somewhere he was vaguely aware of Ginny calling for him. It wasn’t until he felt a hand pulling at his shoulder that he stopped. The face in front of him a mess of blood.
“Draco…” he came into reality. “Draco that’s enough, we can use him alive.” Her voice was softer now. Draco hadn’t realized how hard he was breathing how much effort he had exerted. He had seen nothing but those pale hands around Ginny’s throat.
“I’m okay.” She continued. “Look at me Draco I’m fine, we’re okay.”
“We’re?” he thought. He looked up and around most of the Pheonixs were there. Bodies of hooded figures scattered around them and one in robes.
“Kingsley?” Draco shifted his weight off the Deathie.
Kingsley was staring straight up as if looking into the nights sky his arm an impossible angle.
Seamus moved forward blocking Draco’s view “he’s gone.” He looked down at the Deathie as Draco stood. The look on Seamus’s face indicated he would very much like to finish what Draco started, but he knew he needed that man alive. They needed to know how they got to C Team.
“Are you sure?” Lavender was speaking into her CD. She was the one on the team entrusted with a long distance CD to relay information. “Understood.” She said solemnly and then looked up the rest of them her face gaunt.
“Cliffside… its gone”. She breathed. “That’s where C team was staying when they were taken.”
“The healers?” Blaise.
“They got out”, Lavender put a hand up, “Luna’s crazy plants killed three Deathies allowing her and Joanna to escape.” Blaise breathed a sigh of relief. “The patils are doing recon on the site now they found half of C team dead, and the other… well” she looked around at the scattered bodies.
“How did they do an imperious of that magnitude?” Jesse spat. “It’s not possible.”
“With long exposure to the curse mixed with sedative and truth serums an imperious can be held over a long distance”, McNally checked the pulse on the younger man downed in front of him. “We got some out alive it looks like.”
“Where’s Ned?” Serge looked around.
Gabrielle was helping Lance off the ground. “He didn’t make it”. There were tears in her eyes. “He threw me his portkey.” She was grasping a thick metal ring. “I got caught in the hallway I had none near me, he… he had Lance with him and he just, he turned to the block the Deatheaters. He tossed us the portkey as it was activating.”
“I tried to get to him”, Lance said through gritted teeth. “Damn fool.”
Serge stepped forward to help the man to his feet.
“All safe houses are burned”, Lavender reported, “They hit all of them, but the wards alerted most of them before they got too far, looks like they used C team as an advance squad so they wouldn’t activate the ward for us.”
“If they’re all burned where do we go from here?” Lee was moving around the bodies putting binding rope charms on the ones still alive.
“To my place”, McNally sighed as he drew an older leather book out of his cloak. “Was hoping it wouldn’t come to this.”
They all looked at him confused. “Well what are you piss ants waiting for? Grab on to someone and hold on.” With enough effort they made a human link with the bodies and McNally. “Ah yes here we are page 45.” He opened the book and read the first sentence on the page. “The Threstral can only be seen by those who have witnessed death”.
“Is that a book of magical creatures?” Jesse leaned over. McNally gruffed as reality started shifting around the group.
“This is going to hurt”, Serge held on the Gabrielle trying to shield her as much as possible with his body. A portkey with this many people and this many unconscious, they were going to fall and hard.
The group landed with a grunt and moan as most fell onto the ground and some on top of them, McNally managed to remain standing. “Incendio” He held up the book as it caught fire and floated into the air, into nothing but ashe.
“Where are we?” Lavender stood rubbing her head disentangling herself from an unconscious C Team member.
“My castle.” McNally said cryptically before holding up his wand. Torches sprang to life. They were in a huge open foyer with honest to god stone under their feet.
“So this was the fall back point”, Seamus was levitating the bodies some had started to come into conscious and were looking up with glazed eyes furious. “Kingsley didn’t tell me where it was, just to trust you to get us there.”
“Aye”, McNally looked at the body that once was their leader. The group fell silent.
“They won’t get away with this” Lavender placed a hand on Seamus’ shoulder.
“Let’s go and hope the rest of the order made it alright”. McNally led on through a huge archway torches popping to life as he went.
“Did he say his castle?” Lee leaned over to Jesse.
“Mate… I’m with you.” They gave each other dumbfounded looks.
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