Chapter 17 : Before the Storm
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She half expected him to do one of his mock proposals, but he stayed on his feet. His eyes narrowed. “Come to join the fun have you?” his words were biting she understood his anger, but he didn’t understand her reasons. Would he? Had this war turned him hard and cold like some of the others she had seen.
She opened her mouth to explain, but then closed it. She didn’t owe an explanation to anyone.
“A few years too late, got tired of playing fiddler the masses, drumming up support and obedience to the people trying to kill us? Lost your DA coin?” he continued. “How nice.” He ended leaning back against a wall arms folded over his chest.
“You finished?” she arched a brow as she moved to go past him he pushed off the wall blocking her path.
“Not in the least.” Some of the rage had left his eyes after his goading and there was the hint of mischief that used to give her goose bumps and immediately bring a smile to her face. “Where have you been Angelina?”
“Germany”, she said simply.
“Oh no”, he blocked her again as she moved to go around him , “That wasn’t Angelina because the Angelina I know would have been here in the trenches, not hiding scared behind her fame, what did they offer you? Money? Fame? Well if its fame you wanted I think my face is probably on more posters than you now.” He scoffed. “That Angelina in Germany wasn’t The Angelina I know.”
“They offered me Katie’s life”, she said almost quietly, she wasn’t sure why she made the admission.
All fight dropped out of George. “What?” he hadn’t heard her quite right.
“The offered me Katie’s life”, she repeated louder this time and surprise shook him. Hah, she had managed to surprise one of the Weasley Twins, that was all the fame she needed.
“What do you?” he began.
“They have Katie, they took her in the beginning after they killed her parents.” Everyone thought she had died with them. “They took her because of her connection to me, and they’ve been using her to control me”.
“She’s at the Deathie houses.” George came to the realization, “That’s why you’re here now.”
“She a prisoner, she will forever be a prisoner, they know they can’t hold me without her and so right now I’m risking her life and I want to say it’s for her, but I’m doing it because I’m selfish and I can’t live like this anymore.”
“I have to think that Katie told you not to protect her” George knew the other girl fairly well too she had dated his brother it was more a superficial teenage thing than what he felt for Angelina, but still it lasted awhile. Katie would never hold Angelina back.
“She did, I didn’t listen, so that’s where I’ve been playing puppet to the masses because I can’t let her go.” He saw it then. Shame in her eyes.
“I was out of line.” He grabbed her shoulders looking down at her. “I had no idea. All this time I thought you just…”
“I didn’t want to fight them?” her face turned dark. “Every death, every time I take the pitch, I hear the crowd and it sickens me.” They stole her love of Quidditch and corrupted it into something else. Every game was rigged the winners were chosen before they even came to the field and everyone was expected to comply. Some did it for money, and some for fear, but there were a few like Angelina who had someone they loved taken and held hostage. “I waited for years to hear your name.” She admitted.
“My name?” he could deduce why, but he needed to hear it after she left him to go to Germany and then left them all to the Deathies without her. He needed to hear her say it.
“Because if I had heard your name among the dead traitors I would have finally lost it, I would have traded Katie’s life and mine for revenge”. George didn’t hesitate he pulled her woman to him throwing his arms around her tightly.
“Nothing can take me out, Love”, he smiled down at her. “I’m George Weasley” he winked.
She let out a half sob half laugh.
“None of that now”, he brushed his thumb against her face and suddenly they were back to that summer years ago now. It shouldn’t have felt this easy, but George felt all the angst and anger dissolve from him and Angelina felt like she could breathe for the first time in years. “We’re going to get Katie back”, he promised. He knew it was a stupid thing to do, but he’d tell the woman in front of him anything to make her feel better. “I’m going to do everything I can.”
“Thank you”, she took a deep breath steadying herself. “I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you, if it was intercepted at all if I told anyone they were going to kill her”. She rested her head against his chest.
“Don’t be sorry you did what you had to do, that’s all any of us are doing”, he said softly. “Now enough of this moping about, I have my girl back and soon we’ll have Katie back and tonight in true Gryffindor tradition everyone is meeting to get completely and utterly annihilated before the mission tomorrow night”.
“I’m in” Angelina said a bit wistfully, a small smile gracing her face.
-Late that night-
They couldn’t find a big enough area for everyone except the grand ballroom so people were sitting on stacks of supplies a fake fireplace was conjured in the middle of the area a few more candles were lit here and there to provide light and the flames flickered off the faces of the people crowded in. Bottles, more bottles than even Seamus had seen were set on the table.
Everyone sat in groups mostly of their respected teams dotted around the room. Conversations were going in hushes voices and the anxiety in the room was at an eleven out of ten, everyone was unsure of what exactly they would face tomorrow and well not everyone prepared for these things the same way.
Fred and George burst into the room Angelina on George’s arm and Parvarti beside Fred. “What kind of party is this?” George’s voice boomed over the entire room everyone immediately looked up some even grabbed at their wands out of reflex it probably wasn’t the best of ideas to make loud noises around jumpy order members.
“A dead one”, his twin added solemnly.
“I’m sorry ladies and gents, but this is not how the Order steps out”, The two were wearing very dapper suits with coattails, and looking very out of the place of the casual streetwear and robes of the other wizards and witches in the room. “Would you like the do the honors brother?”
“Oh I suppose”, Fred threw a tiny object into the air and it exploded in lights that were dancing around the room. There was a gasp of awe from the crowd.
“Vena if you would be a dear”, George pointed to the slender woman perching on a box of supplies, she inclined her head to them before waving around the room. Speakers came from nowhere melding out of the walls and she flipped her finger up and music blared out of them. Something they could dance to.
“May I have this dance”, Fred pulled Parvarti to the middle of the room without waiting for her answer. They were soon joined by her sister and Collin a few other members had gotten up as well moving to the music.
“My lady”, George got down on one knee, “Will you Marry me, and also dance with me.”
“Yes” Angelina said expectantly that it took George a moment to respond.
“To which one?” he asked.
“Both if we survive this”, she said with a smile and George couldn’t keep the deliriously happy expression off his face, all the times he had proposed jokingly, mostly, she had never said yes.
“Knew I could wear you down”, he said pulled her over to the others.
Ginny smiled as her brothers took the floor. She was sitting with Ron, Luna, Harry, Hermione, Joanna and Blaise. They had a bottle or two in between them and they were playing some ridiculous drinking game.
“Okay never have I ever seen Draco without his clothes”, Hermione arched a brow at Ginny as the girl put a finger down, as did Draco.
“Strut around in the mirror often do you?” Harry added with a laugh. Ron looked super uncomfortable at the entire thought of his baby sister being around any man without clothes. Luna was smiling. Everyones attention turned to Blaise as he also put a finger down and Joanna stifled a giggle.
“What?” he shrugged “we’ve known each other since we were babies.” The group laughed and it was Joanna’s turn.
“Never have I ever dated a Weasley”, she stuck her tongue out. “Also Harry counts Molly claims to have adopted him”. Hermione, Luna, and Draco all put a finger down.
“Nicely done”, he winked at her. They weren’t quite getting the point of the game, mostly just trying to make each other drink at this point.
Ginny and Draco were left with only one finger now.
Luna looked at them oddly and then smiled to herself, “Never have I ever been married.” She said proudly.
“Love, you’re supposed to say stuff that you think someone else has done”, he smiled stupidly at her. He didn’t seem to be able to take his eyes off her, until he heard a collected gasp as Ginny and Draco lowered their last finger. They held up a glass and clinked them together taking a drink.
Everyone starred in surprise, except Luna because as a Healer she had officiated. Ginny was on the fence about telling everyone.
“We didn’t want to wait”, was all she said to the stares directed at her. “So when the opportunity presented itself we just did it, we’re going to have a proper wedding with family and everything when this is all over, but just in case..” she cut off she didn’t have to say it.
“Plus she legally gets my inheritance now”, Draco said with a shrug, “I wasn’t about to leave this world without her being taken care of.”
“Well cheers”, Blaise seemed to have recovered. As he raised his glass. The rest followed.
“You won’t tell Mum will you?” Ginny looked at her brother.
“Tell Mum her only daughter got married and she wasn’t there to see it, or do any of the Mum like things for you, I’d rather face a hundred Deathies down stark naked in the snow”, Ron’s eyes went fearful.
“Do you have rings?” Joanna said excitedly. Ginny picked up the necklace she had worn for a while attached to it was a huge teardrop shaped diamond circled by smaller diamonds. The girls moved in ooing and ahing over it.
“He stole it from his mansion before we accidently blew it up”, she smiled. Draco had a ring as well around his neck, but he was pretty certain the ladies weren’t about to care what it looked like. Still it was a simple thick black band it had their names engraved into it. They had gotten it from a muggle shop and Ginny used her wand to engrave it. It wasn’t quite what he had planned for marriage. He would have rather given Ginny her giant wedding, with all the bells and whistles and cake tastings and whatever else was expected, but neither wanted to wait until it was too late.
“I’m starting to think Seamus doesn’t blow things up by accident”, Draco mused and Blaise gave him a nod of agreement.
The game was forgotten as talk of missions and near death experiences and ridiculous things they had done since joining the order and before, since the trio and friends had been on multiple Hogwarts adventures as well.
The group on the dance floor was growing, Serge pulled Gabby up and onto her feet, she had found out surprisingly he was a fantastic dancer. Even Lance was up, although he was a bit held back by his leg. Seamus was twirling Lavender around, and a few couples were snogging behind supply crates. It was like they had all turned sixteen again, although alcohol and good music could have that effect.
The music slowed as everyone partnered up or rejoined the groups chatting in circles. Hermione and Harry were swaying slowly on the dance floor, he never really had learned to dance. Ginny and Draco were twirling around moving with the music and Ron was basically lifting Luna up off the ground twirling her. Other couples joined in Blackthorne had asked Vena to dance, both of them a bit stiff from their injuries. His would most likely heal, but Vena was stuck with her curse for life. Fred and George had barely left the dance floor. Pavarti and Angelina didn’t seem to mind.
Seamus and Lavender has disappeared from the room, as had a lot of people. The evening was winding down.
“Do you remember the first time danced”, Draco smiled at her. The Masquerade ball felt like ages ago. Dumbledore had arranged it for house unity, but Ginny was fairly sure he had ulterior motives.
“I felt like I could fly”, Ginny laughed. “and then when I found out who you were what you were, I thought my heart was being ripped out of me and then you surrendered I dared to hope.”
His grip on her tightened, he hated that he had caused her pain at all. “I should have been stronger.” He admitted more to himself.
“Everyone is human, Draco. You are, who you are today, because of the choices you made you chose to fight and I chose to fight for you and with you we’re going to win this”, she breathed. She had all the determination in the world and even sometimes Draco faltered on that.
“We will” he agreed as they twirled around.
Some people had passed out right there in the ballroom, others had made it back to rooms and most slept heavily into the day. At precisely one o clock a wake up alarm sounded through the entire complex, carrying Remus’s voice.
“All order personal are to report to their designated positions, preparations have begun, we move out in eight hours.”
Ginny barely stirred at the sound she was wrapped up in a fluffy comforter and the bed felt like heaven. She peaked out and Draco was already awake pulling a shirt on strapping his holster to his belt and placing his wand in it. “Morning, Love” he didn’t turn to look at her. She knew where his mind was now, it was mission time. He had to shut a certain side of himself down. He had to remove his emotions and Ginny had to amplify hers. She had to remember every death, every person she cared about and she had to use that. She slid out of bed taking a sheet with her to rap around herself. She slid her arms around his middle from behind him and hugged herself to his back.
He let out a deep breath, turning to face her. He bent down meeting her lips with his. “I have to go help Seamus get everything organized, we’re briefing the Pheonix’s in a half an hour”, he kissed the top of her head. “Don’t be late Red”. With one last kiss he left the room. Ginny made a bee line for the shower. He may be her Draco, but he was still technically in command as far the team hierarchy went and the teams only worked when people followed orders, well mostly followed orders. She was just a bit better at improvising than others.
All the healers were awake making last minute preparations in the hospital. Tonks and Lance had joined them along with a few other order members that weren’t fit to fight at the moment and hadn’t healed enough since the attack. The Creevey brothers were in the back mixing extra potions for the healers.
“Alright people”, Molly gathered them all together, “It’s not order members we’re going to have here tonight, if all goes well I imagine the people they rescue will be in need of healer attention. Now is not the time for pride so if you need help call for it, I know most of you would rather be out there in battle and not helping us here and trust me when I say it takes a lot of will power to sit behind when those you care about are risking their lives, but they’re going to need us all of us.” There was a nodded agreement among the crowd. “rest for now because it’s going to be a long night.”
Luna, Joanna, Gabrielle, and Lance pulled out an old TV set they had saved it from the original safe house. It still only got two channels, Soap operas and the news and since no one was really particularly interested in seeing what the wizarding war was doing to muggles they flipped to the soap operas again. It was mostly background noise anyway. They had plenty of thoughts to occupy their time with.
Serge had walked Gabby back to her room last night, like a perfect gentleman. She asked if she could come see him off, but he refused her. It was the only time she was sure he had ever said no to her. He explained the way some of them had to shut their emotions away, in order to do what needed to be done, the way he described it was like he was two people, the solider and Serge. She had seen it first hand; however, even when facing evil she couldn’t imagine taking someone else’s life, her life had always been about healing those around her. She gave him a kiss and disappeared inside her room to worry.
Luna and Ron had said their goodbyes this morning. The Trio still had to figure out how to destroy the horcrux that was still here and they had all day to do that before going into battle tonight. A lot of people argued that they shouldn’t but they won out in the end. Luna secretly hoped to keep him with her, but she knew he had to do his job like she had to do hers. She would be strong for everyone because that was who she was.
Tonks and Fleur were sipping tea watching the meaningless TV. Both Bill and Remus were going, the entire order was going. There wasn’t a person sitting in this room right now who didn’t have someone they cared for about to risk their lives.
“I’ll get us some breakfast”, Lance limped out of the room followed by a girl from B Team who had lost her wand arm and wasn’t quite up to fighting with her weaker hand yet.
“Can you get some pickles too”, Tonks called down the hall after them “Oh and Ice cream, and strawberries.” She added. Fleur laughed. “What?” Tonks shrugged, “I’m hungry”. The two women couldn’t have been more opposite, but seemed to get along famously they had a lot in common after all. Remus was a werewolf and Bill had been ravaged by one that he had started taking on a bit of the werewolf traits. He craved nearly raw meat sometimes, which was fine with fleur because she was a terrible cook, and he was easily agitated when the moon was full, nothing like Remus, but it gave them something to bond with and the fact their children were nearly the same age.
-T Minus 1 hour until go time-
Most of the order was gathered in the ballroom, evidence of the night before had been swept away. Groups of wizards and witches were now gearing up. Fred and George were handing out “special” supplies for people, they really had a knack for war fare, just not the heart for it. They were with Remus and Sirius as well as The Trio and Angelina and all the people from the Patil’s group of spies and recon. The plan was fairly simple each team would take a house the Patil’s group would place a barrier around the entire neighborhood with devices the twins had developed that would stop someone from entering once activated it also acted as a magical sound dampener and made it appear to anyone non magical that nothing was going on behind it.
Each team then had their own rendezvous point after fully sweeping the house eliminating any Deathie threats and removing any prisoners. They were to portkey out and then a chain of portkeys and apparitions would take them back to the castle. It seemed simple enough except they barely had any idea of where in the houses the prisoners were being kept and how many Deathies there were. All’s the recon team could gather was Voldemort was definitely not present, which was good news since they had one more horcrux to discover.
After everyone left the recon team would drop the shield and do one last sweep for anyone who was left behind, or bodies, not that anyone wanted to say it. Since they could practically move like they were invisible.
“Sure you can keep up”, Seamus was looking at Vena as she strapped muggle weapons to her thigh, as well as her wand. That curse wasn’t getting any better.
“She can” McNally said shortly. That was all Seamus needed to hear, family or not McNally didn’t lie at least not to them.
“Pheonix’s ready?” Blaise was taking his role as second in command very serious. The Team lined up Ginny was just finishing on strapping her holster on her thigh and slid her wand in. The chorus of “ready” was his reply. They all wore a phoenix badge around their arm it was only visible to other members of the order so they knew where each other were. It was another invention of the Weasley’s twins. Since so many teams were going into an area and it was going to be dark it would prevent friendly fire should things get chaotic and they probably would.
“A Team”, Neville looked behind him at his members. Dean was holding Cho’s hand as they stood side by side. Jackson York, who had been a Hogwarts student still when he joined, Oliver Wood, who had left his quidditch team to join as soon as he saw what was starting to happen, Lee Jordan, everyone’s favorite quidditch announcer, and Romilda Vayne who had once sent Harry a love potion that Ron accidently ate. “We’re ready”. Neville answered his own question looking at the determination in his eyes. His team was being supplemented by the addition of Arthur and Bill Weasley. Besides for Cho, it was basically a Gryffindor reunion.
“B Team”, A woman in her thirties with strawberry blonde hair called out. Her team was mostly ex aurors and dark wizard hunters. Her name was Amelia Strong she was second to the head of the department of magical mysteries when the ministry was taken. She was a muggleborn and sentenced to Azkaban. She was one of the only ones to have escaped it except for Sirius Black and Bellatrix Lestrange. A group of ragged looking men and women followed behind her with a few young faces here and there. Hannah Abbot from the Hufflepuff house in Harry’s year was with them. She lopped off her pigtails and cut her hair into a spikey short look.
“C Team” Blackthorne turned to his members or what was left of them. Sylvia gave him a defiant look as the rest of the team fell in behind her. Terry Boot, an ex Ravenclaw student was just behind her. Percy and Penelope Weasley joined them to fill some of their ranks. Amos Diggory was with them as well. He had come from Romania where he and his wife were in hiding after being targeted by deathie attacks. Alicia Spinnet stood with them as well, the third to Katie and Angelina’s Gryffindor Chaser team.
“Ready” Sylvia spoke.
“Recon Ready”, Pavarti and Padma said together.
“Hub Ready”, Remus said.
“Remember your portkeys only take you to the outside barrier once there we will sit tight while the recon team sets up nobody moves once the barrier is up we go in quietly to the designated houses, Hub team clear the streets”, “Other four teams go to the four locations and sweep the houses, if our intel is correct there should be no other prisoners or occupants of the other houses, but don’t trust that for a second. Deathies are to be subdued we’re not here to take prisoners only to save them so when you put them down if it’s not lethal make sure it will stick. We send the rescued out use your devices as you see fit remember the magic breakers will also knock out your own wands I suggest throwing them fast. That’s it godspeed everyone, and make it back.” There was a murmur in the crowd as Sirius stepped down from the box he had been broadcasting from.
“Recon Team go”, Tonks was there directing traffic as they all activated their portkeys and blinked out of existence. There was a swirling pool in front of her a spyglass symbol showed followed by a puff of green, meaning the area was clear.
“Pheonix Team Go”.
They were gone. Another symbol of a phoenix followed by a puff of green.
“B Team go”.
Green. Tonk breathed a sigh of relief at this point if they were waiting for them they probably would have taken out the first couple of teams. Granted they all had slightly different landing spots, but it was close enough.
“C team go”. The last of the group disappeared and then Tonks was alone in the big ballroom. She levitated the pool with her as she made her way back to the hospital. They couldn’t really communicate but they could at least send signals besides it would alert the healers to when they were on their way back. She prayed they came back.
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