Chapter 21 : Take Him Down
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Harry nodded, and he moved for the door. He exited, and when the door close behind him, he locked the door behind him so Pansy could not escape. Harry wasted no time in entering the other side of the interrogation cell. He threw the door open, desperate for Teddy’s pain to end.
“Stop!” Harry ordered just as Briggs began to move his wand to carve into the flesh of Teddy’s other arm. “You can stop, Briggs. Clean him up and take him to his cell.”
Relieved, Briggs looked up to Harry and nodded. Harry noticed him exhale, and his shoulders dropped with his relief. Teddy, still disguised as Parker, turned his head to look at Harry, and beneath his blood, bruises, split skin, and swollen eyes, Teddy just blinked.
Harry knew Briggs would understood what he meant by ‘clean him up and take him to his cell.’ Briggs would take Teddy back to his office, where he could clean up Teddy’s wounds and Teddy could be himself again.
Harry let the door swing shut, and he returned to the side of the cell where Pansy was locked up. When he reentered, Pansy was leaning against the cell, watching Teddy get unchained from the chair and hauled up. Teddy stumbled, his body too weak to handle his weight after so much pain. Briggs looped an arm around him and hauled him up.
“T–Thank you,” breathed Pansy through her tears as Briggs and Teddy exited the other side of the cell. “Thank you.”
“No, thank you,” said Harry. And for the first time in over twenty years, he felt as if he were finally speaking to her parent-to-parent and not as enemies. Harry didn’t see her as the woman who aided and abetted the man who started this mess three years ago; he didn’t see her as part of the reason the Death Eaters escaped and Albus was dead. He saw her as a mother who loved and cared for her son and was truly terrified for his safety.
That was someone with whom he could relate. Watching her then, crying and hopeless, he actually felt guilty for manipulating her and using Teddy to get her to talk.
Pansy exhaled heavily, her palms on her knees as she continued to lean against the wall. She blinked back her tears as she tried to gather her composure. “I’m sure your Aurors can look up the location of the Lestrange manor. But even if you were standing on top of it, you won’t be able to see it. It’s protected.”
“So what do I need to be able to enter the manor?” asked Harry, relieved by Pansy’s compliance now.
“Someone who has been there before.”
Harry nodded. He would have to think that part through with his Aurors, but for now, that was all the information he needed. He gave Pansy another minute to pull herself together, and after her tears had ceased, Harry escorted her back to her cell. They walked in sullen silence, and when Harry moved to open her cell for her, Pansy spoke one final time.
“Will you let me see him?” asked Pansy.
“Maybe,” Harry answered quickly, thinking on his feet. “If what you said today proves to be true.”
Pansy said nothing more then. She finally seemed to understand that Harry was in charge, that he was playing the cards now, and that she would have to obey him if she wanted to ever know freedom again or see her son. She nodded and slipped into her cell without a word.
When Harry had the door closed and locked behind her, her bolted for his office. He threw the door open to find Teddy, his disguise gone and appearing as himself once more, collapsed in a chair. James and Norah were kneeling before him concernedly while Briggs tried to repair the damage he had done.
“Teddy,” said Harry breathlessly. “are you all right?”
“I’m fine, I’m fine, Uncle Harry,” said Teddy lazily. He waved a hand around weakly to dismiss Harry’s concerns. “Did you get what we need?”
“I did,” said Harry. “The abandoned Lestrange manor. But we have another obstacle. Someone who has been there before has to show us the way.”
“So we take Pansy Namken with us when we invade,” suggested Briggs.
Harry nodded in agreement. “My thoughts, too, Briggs. But we can settle that after you’re healed, Teddy.”
Briggs continued to move around Teddy, healing his bruises and scratches. As each welt disappeared from his face, Norah would clean up any lingering blood with a tissue.
“I’m so sorry,” Briggs apologized as he healed him. “I didn’t want to do it.”
Teddy tried to chuckle, wincing at the pain as a welt on his forehead was healed. “It’s fine. I knew what I got myself into. You were doing your job. And you were damn good at it.”
“Very good,” agreed Harry.
Teddy’s face appeared normal again, and Briggs moved on to repair the damage to his legs. Finally, the only damage left on Teddy’s body was the word murderer on his right inner-forearm still bright red and oozing blood. Briggs, however, stored his wand and backed away.
James was the one to question his actions then. “What about his arm?”
Briggs pursed his lips then and looked to Teddy, questioning if he wanted to explain. Teddy nodded, pulling his injured arm into lap to look at the word carved into his flesh.
“My arm can’t be healed by magic, Jamie,” he said, taking the tissue from Norah’s helping hand and dabbing at the torn flesh himself.
“What?” asked James in shock. “It can’t be healed? At all?”
“It will only heal naturally. On its own. In time.”
“Naturally?” pressed Norah. “But something that deep will scar!”
“Yes,” nodded Teddy, pressing the tissue to his arm. “It will scar.”
“Are you trying to say you’re going to have murderer scarred on your arm for the rest of your life?!” blurted James.
“I may,” said Teddy with a roll of the shoulders.
James grit his teeth in anger and turned to face Briggs, but Teddy calmed him. With his free hand, he pushed down on James’ shoulder to calm him. “Stop it, James,” said Teddy. “I knew what I was getting into. He told me.”
“That’s what you two were talking about?” inquired Harry. “When Briggs’ back was to us?”
Briggs nodded. “I didn’t know what else to do. I could only kick and punch so much. We clearly weren’t getting anywhere, so I knew we had to do something more drastic. And any other means of torture were limited. I very well wasn’t about to use an Unforgiveable. And I couldn’t do anything life-threatening. I didn’t have any other ideas! So I told him this was my idea; I told him it would scar.”
“And I agreed,” persuaded Teddy. “I agreed to it. I knew what I was getting into. All I care about is getting Dominique back. As long as I get her back, then I don’t care what my arm says for the rest of my life.”
James exhaled and let it go then. He felt bad that Teddy would have the word murderer inscribed on his arm for the rest of this life, but James knew he would have done the same if he were in Teddy’s position. He would do anything for Dominique, too.
James turned to look at his father. “How do we go about getting her back now? We know where she is, but how?”
“That,” began Harry with a heavy sigh, “will have to be decided amongst the Aurors. Thank you for your help, James—and Teddy and Norah—but I think this is where you have to step back and let the Aurors and the Ministry handle the rest. Having Teddy sign a contract to be disguised as Parker is one thing, but a raid and rescue mission is something else. There would be severe legal repercussions for putting you in such danger.”
“No!” James blurted. “I’m going! You have to let me help!”
“I agree!” Teddy argued.
Harry shook his head and reached down to place a hand on James’ shoulder. “I cannot allow it—legally. I would let you come if I could, but I can’t. Let Law Enforcement handle this now. We are trained, we have protocols, and we have experience in these matters. This is a matter for Aurors now.”
“James, he’s right,” Norah voiced quietly. “We have to trust the Aurors with this now.”
James and Teddy looked to each other solemnly. They exchanged a knowing glance. They both knew Harry and Norah were right. The Aurors could handle this now; they were trained in handling such things, and James and Teddy being there would only more than likely make matters worse. They had done all they could, and now it was time hand off the responsibility.
“Fine,” agreed Teddy. “How soon will you raid the manor?”
“I have to talk to follow protocol, so I have to talk to Kingsley first and assemble a team. We don’t know much about the layout of the manor, what charms may be protecting the manor and those inside, or how many Death Eaters await us inside. We have no intel. In any other situation, we would gather as much intel as we could and strategize a raid accordingly. But this time…This time, we’re going in blind…”
“But how soon?” pushed Teddy. He knew the Aurors had a lot to consider if they wanted to be successful, but Dominique had been gone for nearly a month now and he was desperate to have her back.
“If we’re going in blind, there’s only so much strategizing we can do. We can send the raid as early as tomorrow night.”
Teddy nodded in approval, and Harry shut down the conversation before he could be asked any more questions. “That’s enough for one night, though. It’s late. I need to discuss this with my team, and I need some time to think this through. Go home. All of you. Get some sleep—you’re going to need it for tomorrow.”
On Harry’s orders, they all returned home—everyone except for Harry, that is. He stayed behind at his office to begin developing a strategy for rescuing Dominique while taking down as many Death Eaters as possible. The deep and burning desire furthest back in Harry’s mind, though, was the hope that this could all end with Parker Namken’s death in less than 24 hours.
If they were lucky, if everything went according to plan, they would rescue Dominique, capture Death Eaters and imprison them once again, and Parker Namken would be among the dead.
The thought of this all finally being over seemed surreal to Harry. The length of this war couldn’t even compare to that of the war with Voldemort, yet this war against Parker felt longer and more dire than the last. Yes, the fate of the wizarding world has rested on his shoulders when he fought Voldemort, but he had nothing to lose then. Now he had everything to lose. He had his family and his now two children.
This had to end. And Parker had to be stopped.
Harry made good progress with his plan for the raid, but when it reached the early hours of morning, he knew he had to return home to sleep if he wished for his mind and body to be prepared for the coming day. He was overcome with exhaustion when his back touched the mattress, and he curled into Ginny’s side and slipped into a deep sleep.
When he awoke the next morning, Ginny was already awake and leaning over him. She was propped up on one elbow, holding her head in her hand, and she traced circles on Harry’s chest with her other hand. Harry blinked rapidly, his vision blurry, and he reached over to the nightstand for his glasses. After pushing them onto his nose, he fell back against his pillow with a sigh as he took in his wife’s face.
She was looking at him lovingly yet sadly.
Harry reached up to tuck a strand of her red hair behind her ear, and then he pulled her down to him for a kiss.
“I didn’t hear you come in last night,” she commented when their kiss ended.
“I didn’t want to wake you,” said Harry. He stroked her brow, taking in her every feature. “What were you thinking about…?”
“I was thinking how I don’t know how someone can carry the weight of the world on their shoulders—twice in a lifetime—and stay as strong as you.”
“I don’t feel strong, Gin,” he admitted in a whisper as he continued to stroke her face. “I feel weak. Weaker than I’ve ever been…”
“You feel that way, but you’re not,” Ginny reassured him. “I know your strength, and you have more than you think.”
“Well, I think I’m going to need it today,” said Harry. “James’ plan worked. We got Pansy Namken to talk, Gin. It was gruesome to get there, but in the end, it worked. They have Dominique at the old Lestrange manor, and we’ll need Pansy with us to get into the manor. I’m talking to Kingsley today to organize and lead a raid. Tonight.”
“Tonight?!” she blurted. She sat up and leaned away from her husband in disdain. “How can you plan a raid in less than a day?!”
“We have nothing more than a location!” he said, sitting up with her. “We can look at the floorplan of the house to anticipate where Parker may be keeping Dominique, but we know nothing more than that. We don’t know how many Death Eaters he has in there. We know nothing. And we won’t be able to know until we simply go. So waiting for a more solid strategy isn’t going to change anything because we don’t have any intel to base a strategy on. The longer the wait, the bigger chance we have of Parker hurting Dominique or making another move against us. We have to act as quickly as possible before Parker lashes out again.”
Ginny winced, closing her eyes. “Ugh. You’re right…I just hate the idea of you ambushing a bunch of Death Eaters with nothing more than your instincts!”
“I hate it, too,” agreed Harry. “But we’re not going to have a better option.”
Ginny looked to him with a determined malice. “Kill him.”
Harry looked to her with a stern expression. He didn’t have to question her further.
“Kill him, Harry,” she said again. Tears of anger began to swim in her eyes. “Kill that bastard who murdered our son.”
“I fully intend to,” he declared. “Parker dies tonight.”
“When will you go to the Ministry?” asked Ginny.
“Soon. It’s early still. Kingsley won’t be there just yet, but I have to move as quickly as I can once Kingsley is at the Ministry to ensure this happens tonight.”
“Does the family know this is happening tonight?”
Harry shook his head. “Only James, Norah, and Teddy. They were there last night, so they know but no one else. I’ll speak to Bill and Fleur this morning to let them know. But other than that—obviously Ron and Hermione because they will be involved at the Ministry—I don’t think we need to alarm the family.”
“Probably wise,” muttered Ginny. “Just those who need to know beforehand. The rest can be informed after we bring Dominique home.”
Harry nodded. That was his thought as well. He didn’t need the rest of the Weasleys to worry about the raid to happen that night if they didn’t need to. There was no need to put them all on edge until they had further news for them.
“Harry?” asked Ginny weakly. “J–James isn’t going, right?”
“No,” said Harry sternly. “I won’t allow it. I could face legal repercussions for bringing him, but even if I could bring him, I wouldn’t. I won’t put him in such danger again.”
Ginny breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank Merlin,” she whispered and placed a hand to her heart. Tears filled her eyes again, and for a moment, she was no longer the strong and bold woman Harry knew her to be. She was just a mother who had already lost one child and was terrified to lose another. Through her choked cries, she voiced just that. “We already lost Albus. I can’t lose another.”
On their bed, Harry moved to his knees. He cupped her face in his hands and held her gaze to his. “We won’t. We will not lose another child.”
Ginny began to cry harder then. “I can’t. James and Lily…”
“Stop,” begged Harry, desperate to cease her cries. He kissed her forehead, her nose, her eyelids, and finally her lips. “We won’t lose them.”
“And I can’t lose you either,” moaned Ginny as she gained her composure. She ceased her cries and looked at her husband longingly.
“You won’t lose me either, love,” whispered Harry. He moved closer to her. He wrapped his arms around her waist and press his hips and chest to hers. Ginny wrapped her arms around his neck to pull him closer.
“Be safe tonight,” she demanded of him, yet her voice was nothing more than a whisper.
“I will, Gin,” he encouraged. “I always am. I’ll come home to you tonight.”
“You always do,” she said, but Harry didn’t know who she was trying to convince—him or herself.
Harry held her chin between two fingers, and he pulled her lips to his. He kissed her slowly and longingly. He wanted to spill all of his love into that kiss, and she responded just the same. Her kiss was full of love and want. She kissed him in a way that was new and different to Harry; it was common for them to make love before Harry left for a mission or fieldwork. They had always used those passionate times as a way to make up for the time they would spent apart while he was in the field—a send-off, in a way—but this wasn’t like that. There was a sense of desperation in their actions, as if every kiss could be their last.
They moved quickly then as they each seemed to register the other’s desire. Harry kissed her quickly, laying her down and moving on top of her. Ginny, wearing only one of Harry’s shirts, hugged him close while pulling his shirt over and pushing his pajama pants down his hips. Harry simply pulled up the baggy shirt she wore, and he settled on top of her.
As they began to move in perfect rhythm, Harry began to wonder just what was in store for him that night. Ginny clung to him and kissed him with such desperation as if she truly feared losing him, and up until that moment, he didn’t realize the true potential of her fear.
That night he was to make his move on Parker Namken, and he hoped for an end to all of this. But what if that meant an end to him as well?
Harry closed his eyes and forced his fear aside, thinking only of his wife wrapped lovingly around him, and he kissed her as if it were his last.
“Harry,” Kingsley began encouragingly, “you know I will support any decision you make.”
It was a few hours later after Harry had showered, dressed, eaten, and bid goodbye to Ginny. He had arrived in Kingsley’s office with a full plan to layout before him. He had informed Kingsley of what had happened the previous day and filled him in on his plan for rescuing Dominique and capturing the Death Eaters.
Harry was thankful for Kingsley’s reassurance after Harry had doubted holding the raid that night. He had questioned Kingsley if he thought he was acting too quickly, but Kingsley seemed to agree with Harry as well. The sooner, the better.
“Then my decision is raiding tonight,” Harry said, his mind made up and his decision final.
Kingsley nodded in agreement. “How many Aurors will you take?”
Harry rubbed his temple as he sat down in the chair across from Kingsley’s desk. “That’s difficult to decide. I have no idea how many Death Eaters we may face. A total of seventeen escaped from Azkaban that day. We’ve only recovered four over the years. That leaves a potential thirteen Death Eaters in there with Parker.”
“Always go in with the greater number,” advised Kingsley.
“Yes,” nodded Harry, remembering what Kingsley had taught him. “That’s why I was thinking fifteen Aurors. Fifteen to go in for the raid and the others here on-call for containment duty.”
“And where will you be?” asked Kingsley in a relaxed manner.
“I want to be on the frontlines. I want to lead the raid. Ron is to be my replacement as Head Auror if anything should happen to me, so we can’t both be on the frontlines—in case anything were to happen to both of us. Ron will stay here to oversee containment duty when the Death Eaters begin to filter in, but I will be on the frontlines. I have to make sure we leave with Dominique unharmed.”
“Count me as one of your fifteen,” said Kingsley.
Harry looked up quickly in surprise, his eyes flashing. “Kingsley—”
“Don’t give me any of that, Harry,” he said in a collected and low voice. “It’s been years since I’ve been in the field. I want to get out there again. I want to be where the action is. I’m going with you.”
“Kingsley,” urged Harry, uncomfortable with having to approach his boss with such a conversation, “you were a great Auror in the field and you would no doubt be a huge help, but you’re Minister for Magic now. Is it really wise to put yourself in such danger?”
“I’ve already thought a lot about this. This is a raid and a rescue mission. It’s not fighting Voldemort again,” said Kingsley dismissively.
“Don’t underestimate Parker,” emphasized Harry. “That boy—a nineteen-year-old boy!—murdered my son. Don’t underestimate him, Kingsley.”
“I’m not underestimating him, Harry,” he sighed. “I just find the chance of casualties tonight to be slim. I’m not concerned about my safety and position as Minister for Magic. And even if something did happen to me, with Hermione as the Head of Magical Law Enforcement, she is set up to replace me—at least until the next public election.”
“I still strongly advise against it,” said Harry.
“Harry, my mind is made up. Let me help you get your niece back. I’m one of your fifteen.”
Harry exhaled in defeat. He was grateful for Kingsley’s help, truly, and he was looking forward to fighting next to him again after so many years in an office together, but a part of Harry still truly believed that Kingsley was of greater use to the wizarding world as Minister for Magic than he was as an Auror on a rescue raid. But Harry also understood that he wouldn’t be able to change Kinglsey’s mind, and they only had hours left to plan for anything to happen that night.
“Fine,” agreed Harry. “You’re one of my fifteen. Just don’t underestimate Parker and what he may have in store for us in that manor. We have to be prepared for anything, and we have to take him down.”
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