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Chapter 24 : Truth and Dare
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She was aware that the wedding party would arrive before she got back, as the newly-weds and Tonks’ parents were due very shortly. She must give some explanation for her absence and apologise for things not being completely ready, but she didn’t want to alarm them either; especially not on their wedding day. She picked up a piece of parchment and left a note on top of the kitchen table saying that she would be back as soon as she could but that there was nothing really to worry about.
She wasn’t used to Apparating to Muggle locations and, as all she had were the address and a picture, she was a bit unsure as to whether this would work. But she had to try. Using the Muggle transport was not a possibility. She had never been on it and it would take a long time, which she didn’t have to spare.
A loud popping noise startled a few kids who were playing outside with their bicycles in an otherwise quiet suburb. The children frowned at her suspiciously and gazed at each other not understanding what they had actually seen. She smiled at them trying to put them at ease and looked around. She recognised the house, to her relief. She knocked on the door rather forcefully as she hadn’t discovered the existence of the front door bell. That however did the trick, since her banging was loud and the four teenagers were already aware of her determination to go there to see Harry.
As Hermione was about to leave Harry’s side and walk downstairs to let the visitor in, he whispered in her ear, “Please, please Hermione, whatever you do, don’t tell Molly about the blood pressure business.” Hermione looked at him as if about to start protesting but he reasoned that Molly would have enough to deal with when they told her about Percy.
Hermione understood that he did have a point, yet, how were they going to hide his condition was another matter, for he didn't look too healthy. “Ok, I won’t if she doesn’t figure it out herself,” she conceded.
Molly looked a bit flustered as she reached the top of the stairs and, following Hermione, entered the boys’ room.
Harry tried to smile at her, trying to conceal how nervous he was about the whole thing.
“Harry!” She looked at him and hugged him in her customary fashion. He felt cold to her touch and he looked extremely pale.
“Look, I’ve made you some pumpkin soup, that should warm you up a little,” she more ordered than offered. So determined she appeared that Harry started to fear that she was just about to spoon feed him. “Now, what’s the matter with you, Harry? You can’t hide from me that you are ill.”
“I’m fine, Molly, honestly!” he said for what it seemed to him the ninetieth time that day.
“Hermione, would you please fetch us some plates?” Mrs. Weasley asked.
“Sure,” she replied and came back a few seconds after with crockery and cutlery for everyone. Harry didn’t have any appetite at all but realised that if he didn’t have some, he would either worry her or offend her.
Mrs. Weasley appeared completely focused on Harry. Ron, Ginny and Hermione all shared a concerned look when she wasn’t looking.
“How bad was it?” Molly asked him kindly.
“How bad, what?” Harry answered, for a minute a little disconcerted whilst taking a spoonful of soup.
“Well, your scar?”
“It was unpleasant,” he told her not wanting to expand too much on the episode but trying to softly introduce her to the notion that bad news might be in the offing.
“You look awful, dear. Also, you are so cold!” she said squeezing his left hand. “Was this brought about because of your scar hurting?” she enquired preoccupied looking straight into his eyes.
“I’m not sure,” Harry lied.
“Well, Harry, it’s simple; were you unwell at all before it hurt?”
He shook his head slightly but didn’t verbally reply.
“Did you have a vision?”
“Yes,” Harry replied succinctly unable to hold too much eye contact.
At that point there was silence and Harry threw a knowing glance at his friends.
“Now, did you see someone in danger?” Molly asked sounding very anxious, wondering who the person in danger could be. “Harry, we need to know. After all, you saved Arthur’s life once because of a vision, didn’t you? If it hadn’t been for you, well, I don’t even want to go there!”
“No, not exactly,” Harry replied. This was taking forever and it wasn’t helping anyone. He started by informing her that he had seen Voldemort talking in a place seemingly made of ice with someone he had known was from the Ministry. He paused for a moment to think. He could either tell her how he had had to force the vision again and thus confessing that it was his own fault that he was ill, or tell her that she saw Percy there first time, but then, she would wonder why they hadn’t told her sooner. He had to go for the truth. What was a reprimand from her, anyhow, in the big scheme of things!
“Harry, this is important. What did you see?” she asked again with a great sense of urgency.
“I saw Voldemort telling someone from the Ministry to get my mum’s wand,” he said very sternly.
“Yes, Ron said something about the Ministry. Well, nothing would surprise me from Dolores, coming to think of it. But then again, Arthur hasn’t mentioned anything,” she reasoned.
“Mum,” Ginny interrupted. “The Ministry knows only too well what side Dad is on. I doubt that they tell him much these days. I’m even surprised that he still has a job,” she continued.
Molly looked into Harry’s eyes expecting him to carry on. Harry understood.
“I couldn’t remember exactly who the Ministry person was, but I knew I had seen this, so I forced the connection again…”
“That’s why you are so ill, isn’t it?” Mrs. Weasley said in a half angry, half caring way.
“Never mind that. Look, there is no easy way to tell you this…”
“Tell me what, Harry?” Molly was now very worried. “Did you finally see who this person was then?”
“Look, there is no easy way.” He now locked his eyes onto hers looking almost apologetic and spat out: “It was Percy.”
A terrible silence filled the room; it was so awful that it felt like a chill. Harry could see the blood draining from Mrs. Weasley’s face, which almost immediately turned red; a red that spelled out fury, a fury he knew was about to fall upon him.
“How dare you think that that can be right? How can you think that of my son!” she screamed at him as she turned round to meet her children’s gaze which, to her horror, told her that they believed it was possible.
Hermione could not stand the tension any longer and, in an attempt to cushion a bit the impact of what had been said, told her in a soothing tone, “Mrs. Weasley, Percy might just have been there on Ministry’s orders; he is now the Minister’s Personal Assistant, is he not?
Molly Weasley ignoring Hermione’s comment turned to face Harry again. “Harry, that must have been a dream, but what a wicked thing to dream about! How could you even believe it was a true vision! And it was me here thinking of you as one of my own!” she added looking extremely disappointed.
“Harry has been more of a brother to me than Percy all these years, and more of a son to you. He’s never abandoned us, has he?” Ron screamed at his mother.
Ginny now intervened. “Mum, stop tormenting Harry! It was a vision alright. His scar hurt so much that he fainted and now his blood pressure won’t go up and he could have died!” she said loudly and fast, fighting tears.
Molly was about to say something on the lines of how dare you talk to your mother like that but the words would not leave her mouth. “Is this true, Harry?” she asked instead softly, regretting having treated him so harshly.
“Ginny, what do you mean he could have died?”
“Mum, he’s been pretending he’s ok all along, but look at him! Mr. Granger said that if his blood pressure drops any further his vital organs could fail!”
Molly now closed her eyes trying to take this in. She went up to Harry and gave him a hug, one of her usual ones this time; thick tears were covering her face. Instants later, she was sobbing so hard that she couldn’t speak. She didn’t need to; Harry understood perfectly that she was apologising and held her very tightly to his chest.
“Do you always get this sick, when your scar…?”
“Never like this before, no, but it’s my fault anyway. I made the connection happen, the second time,” Harry explained full of guilt.
“But he has planted visions on you before hasn’t he? He’s done this to divide us, don’t you all see?” Molly protested hanging on to her hopes.
“Yes, I know he's done that before. That’s how Sirius got killed,” replied Harry very sadly.
Molly’s eyes now met Harry’s again and she really felt for the boy. “Harry,” she now told him, “You’re still one of my own. You were only the vehicle, not the cause of this wickedness. I’m sorry, what I said to you was awful! I was just...”
Harry smiled at her from his heart, letting her know that she should forget about it.
Ron pressed on by telling his mother that they have to tell the Order, just in case the vision hadn’t been planted and that she better be careful, if Percy ever contacted her, not to reveal anything. Mrs. Weasley still would not hear of this.
At that point, they heard a rattling noise downstairs, at the front door. Mr. Granger had come back early.
“Hermione!” he shouted.
“Dad, we’re upstairs with Harry.”
He looked at the watch and walked briskly up the stairs.
“Mrs. Weasley, what a lovely surprise,” he said before he had the change to notice that she had been crying. She realised she must look a sight and blew her nose trying to contain her weeping.
“I just came to see how Harry was. Lovely to see you too.”
Next, Will Granger went straight up to Harry. There was no need to ask him how he felt since he knew what the answer would be. Instead he grabbed the blood pressure monitor, which Hermione had left on the bedside table and proceeded.
“Now, not too much of an improvement, I’m afraid,” he told him as he pulled something from his brief case, which Hermione and Harry recognised at once as a syringe. Molly Weasley frowned at the peculiar object wondering what on earth it was.
“I’ve got something for you that should make you feel better,” Mr. Granger continued. Harry wasn’t as scared of Muggle medicine as the Weasleys were and offered his arm to him co-operatively. “It’s painful, I know, it may hurt for a while,” he added matter-of-factly as he noticed Harry twitch.
“Couldn’t this have waited until later? I mean, I hope you didn’t come home early from work because of me.”
“Well, of course I did,” Hermione’s father replied. “You still don’t seem to want to grasp how serious this is, Harry. If you'd had another drop and I hadn’t seen to you, it might have been too late.”
“Thanks,” was all Harry could think of saying.
Mrs. Weasley looked at Mr. Granger terrified. “Is he going to be alright?”
“Yes, I think so. This may well be a problem caused by magic, yet, he has ordinary medical symptoms which ought to react to treatment; but Harry, do please take it easy.”
“Mr. Granger, you remember Remus and Tonks, from the wedding? He taught at Hogwarts a few years back,” she reminded him.
“Yes, of course.”
“Well, they’ve just got married. We were planning a bit of a party tonight at Grimmauld Place; they've asked me to invite you. Death Eaters are unable to find this building,” Molly quickly added as she remembered what had happened last time he had been to a wizarding wedding.
“That’s ever so kind of them. Now, it will depend on how Harry is, I think. If the injection works quickly, we can all go, I suppose, but I will have to drive him there. Under no circumstances should he Apparate yet, not for what I understand is involved in Apparition.”
Harry rolled his eyes as if about to protest but thought better of it. “No, you all go even if I can’t,” he said. “It wouldn’t be fair on the bride and groom.”
“With a bit of luck you’ll be fine by then,” Hermione said with a wink.
“Ok, I better be going back, to finish the preparations. They’ll be wondering where I’ve got to,” Mrs. Weasley told them as an owl was tapping on the window. “I told you,” she said trying to compose herself. “It’s from them and Arthur, they were all worried about me. I better hurry up then. Thanks so much, Mr. Granger for tending to the kid.”
“That’s the least I could do,” he replied.
“You lot better go with her,” Harry told them as he winked at Ginny. “Mr. Granger and I will be ok, won’t we?” he added looking at him.
“I think you may be right, Harry,” Ginny agreed having understood that her mother was going to need some moral support, so that she didn’t start crying in front of the newly-weds.
The three teenagers and Mrs. Weasley found the lucky couple, her parents, Moody and Draco drinking a glass of champagne in the drawing room waiting their arrival.
The first thing Molly did was to hug both bride and groom and as she did this she almost burst into tears. Tonks knew that Molly was an emotional person but she didn’t realise that she would cry at non-family members’ weddings. She shook her head unwittingly.
Tonks looked absolutely radiant, dressed in an expensive looking Muggle dress suit which matched the colour of her today's platinum blonde, slightly spiky, short hair. She must have thought that the outfit was girly enough for her without having her hair long. She was even wearing high heels and, by all accounts, very much struggling with them. Remus also, well, that was a bit of a transformation! He looked incredibly smart in a Muggle formal suit, with even a waistcoat and a silk corvette. The youngsters stared at the couple speechless.
Draco kept glancing at his champagne flute trying not to make too much eye contact. Yes, he was related to the bride and her parents had tried to help him after his mother died but still... He couldn’t help but thinking that, if someone had told him months before that he would be partaking in the wedding celebrations of a werewolf, he could have hexed the person in question without even thinking about it.
Ron glanced towards Ginny and Malfoy in turn trying to silently convey that they shouldn’t really talk about the vision in his presence.
“Where did you go, Molly? You seem to have left in a hurry,” Arthur asked.
“Umm… to Hermione’s, actually, to help the kids with something, nothing important,” she pretended, having met Ginny’s eyes as she had glanced towards Malfoy and her.
“How very odd,” Mr. Weasley carried on not realising that his wife wasn’t able to talk freely. “In all the years I’ve been married to you I’ve never known you to leave the preparations for a party unfinished. Not that it has caused any problem; it's just that we worried, since it was so unlike you.”
Draco was now all ears.
“Also, was Harry not supposed to come with you and Mr. Granger?” Remus enquired.
“Harry has a bit of a cold,” Molly lied again. “Mr. Granger has offered to drive him here later if he gets better,” she said blushing slightly. She wasn’t a very accomplished liar.
Moody definitely thought that this was very strange and stared in Mr. Weasley’s direction. Without saying a word, he made an indication with his magical eye to make it clear to Molly that they needed to talk in private, with Arthur also. In silence, Mr. and Mrs. Weasleys followed the old Auror down the stairs.
Meanwhile, Harry had recovered quite a bit and had gone down to the living-room with Mr. Granger. Now they were both sitting on the sofa watching random TV and drinking tea. In fact, they were just killing time, waiting for the medication to take effect.
“It’s a shame about Hogwarts not reopening this term,” started Mr. Granger trying to engage Harry in something from their world.
“We are thinking of setting up a study group,” Harry told him. He didn’t know how much or how little Hermione had said to her father about their plans for the following academic year and, whilst he had to answer his comment, he didn’t want to reveal more than it was required.
“That may be a good idea,” Will Granger assented. “Where though?”
“Well, I was actually thinking that if I buy the apartment, as you suggested, this may be a good place. The problem would be getting the other students there, since people from Hogwarts live all over the country,”
“Yes, I suppose Apparating outside would attract too much attention. Mind you, they could just Apparate to various points in London and then get there on the underground,” Mr. Granger suggested.
“That’s an ingenious idea,” Harry said excitedly. “Thanks for that.”
“I just thought it’s perhaps a simple way of getting them there unnoticed. Harry, there is nothing worth watching on TV by the look of things,” Will said distractedly flicking through the channels.
A large TV screen was now showing some archaeological programme that seemed to deal with treasure. There were mountains of glittering ancient gold pieces of jewellery, vases, sparkling gems, tons of the stuff.
“Mr. Granger,” prompted Harry in a really urgent tone. “Could you possibly, please record this programme for me?”
Will Granger was extremely surprised to hear Harry’s request. He blinked. “Well, yes, I don’t see why not really. I just never knew you have such an interest in archaeology."
“Please, Mr. Granger, before this image goes!” Harry couldn’t help but pleading.
“Ok, Harry, yes, I’m onto it. Calm yourself down. What’s brought that on?” Hermione’s father was now beginning to worry that the teenager’s mind had been somehow affected.
“It’s for a friend of mine from Hogwarts, Neville,” he invented. “He loves Muggle stuff and this kind of thing. It fascinates him. I just wanted to give it to him for his birthday.”
“Has he got a player?” Mr. Granger asked with curiosity.
“His grandmother has,” Harry invented again, now grinning very widely, his cheeks turning now back to a healthy pink shade.
“Well, Harry, you certainly look better. If I’ve known this would have brought you back like this, I would have played something on this morning, goodness. I’m very, very pleased, though. Let’s see about your blood pressure again. I guess there has probably been an improvement now.”
After he took the reading he concluded to Harry’s delight that he was, after all, going to be fit to attend the party. It was a bit on the low side still but certainly out of the danger zone.
Harry sighed. Why had he not thought about this before!
Molly Weasley had no choice but to disclose the nature of what had happened to Harry and the vision he had seen. However, she insisted, in between sobs, that the memory had been planted, just as it had been before the kids broke into the Department of Mysteries. Arthur Weasley and Mad-Eye looked at each other with a very sombre expression. Alastor was bold enough to tell Mrs. Weasley in no unclear terms that, should Percy contact her, she was to inform the Order at once and, under no circumstances, reveal to him any information.
“I know this is painful for you, Molly, that you can't accept that there can be truth in it, but just in case,” he concluded.
Arthur nodded as he embraced his wife but seemed unable to speak. How could this be real!
“Molly, please, love,” he said to her softly and quietly, “let’s go back to Remus and Tonks. It’s not fair to spoil their day.”
She assented wiping off her tears and they went to join the others. Shacklebolt and the twins had by then also arrived. They would have to be told but that could be done later. In fact, a meeting was now essential.
As they joined in a toast, Harry arrived with Mr. Granger. Harry just couldn’t believe how wonderful both bride and groom looked. He smiled at Remus as he congratulated them. Remus smiled back a little sadly. Seeing Harry, all grown up now, on his wedding day, reminded him of his father. James and Sirius would have been so happy for him if they could see him now, with such a lovely bride!
“Sorry,” Harry apologised to the now Mr. and Mrs. Lupin. “It was such short notice that we haven’t managed to get you a present yet.”
They smiled at him and told him not to worry about it for a moment. Now, he thought, the best possible present would be the Wolfsbane potion. He had to get to Hogwarts to retrieve the book and, the sooner the better.
The gathering turned up well considering the given circumstances. Molly managed to avoid making a scene, although she definitely was not her usual self. The funniest anecdote of the evening happened when Malfoy helped himself to one of the samosas that Molly Weasley had made according to a recipe from the Patil sisters. He took a mouthful and his eyes and tongue bulged, as if he'd eaten fire. Fred and George's opinion was that either the boy was a wimp or that he was exaggerating. So, with a bit of bravado, they decided to try them themselves but they ended up having to cast a freezing charm on their tongues. This made everyone laugh and it was a welcome diversion from the gloominess of the day. Mrs. Weasley apologised and remarked that she must have got distracted when she tapped her wand to accio the correct amount of curry powder.
Now, whilst thinking about Malfoy, it began to dawned on Harry that Hermione had made a very good observation regarding Narcissa’s death. He wondered.
“Malfoy?” he prompted him very quietly joining him by the window. “Can I please have a private word with you?”
He didn’t sound angry but Draco had never been keen on these private words. Not being really in a position to refuse, he followed him to Harry’s room.
“I need your help, look. I know I said I wasn’t going to ask you how your mother died,” he told him almost apologetically. “The thing is, well, the thing is that I think Voldemort has tried to kill me in a similar way. If we both want to survive, we are going to have to work together,” Harry explained.
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