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Chapter 28 : Fight or Flight
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Kingsley was sending messages in every direction as he tried to organise a visit to Azkaban Prison to see Narcissa Malfoy, a process that was still not an easy one even for the Minister of Magic. He was also arranging the resources to be in place for when they transferred the planning of the raid on Lucius Malfoy’s hideout to the Ministry’s Auror office.
At Minerva’s desk, Gawain, Ron, and Harry were going over every detail Harry could remember of the street he had visited with Draco. Harry kept checking with Kreacher to see if the house-elf remembered anything else that he might have forgotten.
Ginny had returned to her room and was hastily gathering clothes and equipment for Harry and herself. She grabbed Harry’s invisibility cloak out of his trunk and had been surprised when a wand fell out of it and clattered onto the stone floor. Ginny recognised the Elder wand, but she thought Harry had been going to replace it in Dumbledore’s tomb. After a moment’s hesitation she packed the cloak and the wand into a bag along with the clothes, before heading to Ron and Hermione’s room to collect a change of clothes for them.
Meanwhile, back in Minerva’s office, Hermione and Minerva were browsing through the books which had previously been a part of Albus Dumbledore’s library, looking for any information they could find about wards and how to defeat them.
Kingsley pulled his head out of the fire as he finished his latest meeting via the floo network. He turned and addressed the room.
“It’s time to go. Dawlish is ready for us at the Ministry.”
Everyone began gathering up the bits and pieces they were working with, and made their way to the fireplace to stand beside Kingsley. Ginny came running back into the office and quickly joined them. They then made their way to the Ministry one by one, a sense of excitement starting to radiate within the group.
When Harry stepped out of the flames and into the Minister’s office, he was met by a small group of people. Harry looked at the faces arrayed before him, recognising many of them as members of the Aurors office who had participated in the mock battle at Hogwarts.
Harry exchanged glances with Ron, Hermione, and Ginny, sensing an immediate rise in the confidence of his friends.
Gawain stood to one side of the Aurors. “Introductions are in order, I believe.”
Gawain made his way along the line of Aurors, introducing them to Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione as he went.
There was John Dawlish, whom they were already familiar with and quickly exchanged handshakes with.
Next was Felix Stockton, a short, stocky man with a shaved head and an easy smile, who reminded Harry of a young version of Kingsley. Gawain informed them that Felix would be planning the raid for tonight, and he suggested Ron might like to assist him.
Samantha Samuels was next, and she briefly interrupted Gawain to inform them her name was Sam, for rather obvious reasons. Harry thought she looked to be around thirty five as she brushed her long black hair out of her face.
Gawain kept making his way along the line, introducing Tamesa Thistle, Zachary Kraven, Foster Portney, and Neptune Siphnos. These were the only remaining members of the Auror office, and all of them would be participating in the raid tonight. In fact, they had insisted upon it.
Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione had spent a few minutes meeting everyone, both groups appearing to be a little awed by the other. Ginny in particular was delighted to discover that three of the Aurors were women. She was instantly drawn to Tamesa, Neptune, and Sam.
Ron and Felix immediately found an easy rapport, chuckling as they stood side by side discussing the underappreciated value of good planning. Hermione had smiled to herself as she looked at the two men, who were complete physical opposites.
Harry meanwhile, started talking with Gawain and Dawlish about the upcoming raid and some of the potential obstacles they still faced. Harry’s confidence started to fade a little as he realised just how much they would be relying on two members of the Malfoy family for assistance.
In Bath, Draco Malfoy was keenly aware of the rising dawn. He had not slept at all during the previous evening, and his mind was so preoccupied with the possibilities of the approaching night that he could not calm down enough to sleep.
He had re-entered the house last night with ease. Fear had gripped him as he opened the door, but he was greeted only by snores. After shutting the door behind him, he had crept back up the stairs and crawled into his bed. It had been so ludicrously simple that Draco thought he might laugh.
Draco tossed and turned as he pleaded with his own mind to let him sleep. He knew he was going to need it.
Harry sat in a large windowless conference room which was part of the Auror Office within the Ministry of Magic. He was sorting his thoughts out prior to his meeting with Narcissa Malfoy, which was to take place within minutes.
After some careful reconsideration, Kingsley had arranged to have Narcissa brought to the Ministry building instead of sending Harry to Azkaban. It had been agreed that Narcissa might be far more willing to co-operate if she was removed from the influence of the Dementors which guarded the prison.
Now Harry waited as he tapped his fingers on the polished surface of the oval shaped wooden table. Normally this room was not used to interview prisoners, but due to the time constraints, every effort was being made to make Narcissa feel more comfortable once she arrived.
The muffled sound of footsteps coming from the other side of the door forewarned Harry that he was about to be joined by Gawain and Narcissa. He stood from his chair and watched as the heavy wooden door of the conference room swung open. Harry felt a brief moment of sympathy for Narcissa as he took in her haggard appearance.
Narcissa’s white hair was straggly, with dirt smeared into it. Her face was thin and pale, her eyes hollow and fearful. Harry shuddered involuntarily. If Azkaban had done this to her in less than six months, he was grateful he had been spared even a visit to the wizard prison.
Gawain led her into the room and over to a seat. Harry heard the sound of chains clinking as she shuffled across the floor, manacles binding her hands and feet. She sat down heavily and her shoulders instantly slumped.
Harry drew a deep breath before he launched into the routine he and Gawain had rehearsed less than an hour ago.
“Can you unshackle Mrs Malfoy please, Gawain?” asked Harry politely.
Gawain produced a key from his pocket. “Certainly, Harry,” he said as he unlocked the manacles around Narcissa’s feet first, followed by the restraints around her wrists, before he took up a position standing against the wall behind her.
Narcissa stared at Harry as she rubbed her wrists. Harry was unable to see any expression on her face; not even the hostility he had planned for. He indicated towards the tray in the middle of the table.
“Would you like a drink?” asked Harry as kindly as he could manage. “Tea or coffee perhaps?”
Narcissa’s vacant gaze shifted to the tray. “Water,” she said, her voice rasping and strained.
Harry poured her a glass of water and placed it in front of her. She picked it up in both hands and quickly drank the water. She let out a satisfied sigh as she placed the glass back on the table.
“They never let you have enough water in Azkaban,” she said, her eyes fixed on the table top. “You’re always thirsty.”
Harry could think of no response to this statement from Narcissa. He sat back down on the opposite side of the table from her and regarded her carefully. He was becoming concerned that she was not entirely in control of her faculties at the moment. However, he had no choice but to press on.
“Mrs Malfoy,” began Harry, “you have been brought here today because you are in a position that may be able to help us.”
Narcissa’s head snapped up at Harry’s words, her eyes now bright as they bored into Harry’s. Harry realised he was wrong. She was in perfect control of herself. She had just been waiting to get a sense of what the meeting may be about.
“Oh, really,” she said coldly, “and what makes you think I would want to help you?”
“We are trying to apprehend Lucius,” explained Harry. “Perhaps that would be incentive enough for you?”
“Hardly,” snorted Narcissa. “Lucius can rot wherever he desires, but I don’t care if he is sent to Azkaban or not. You’ll have to do better than that, Mr Potter.” Harry could almost see the calculation going on behind her eyes as she spoke. “Something that benefits me would be a good start,” she suggested with a smirk.
Harry leaned forward in his chair. “Make no mistake, Mrs Malfoy, there will be no renegotiation of your sentence or the conditions under which you serve it. Is that clear?”
“Crystal. I think we’re done here.”
Narcissa held her arms out with her wrists together, awaiting Gawain to shackle her again.
“Would you care to hear what information it is that I need, before you go?” asked Harry coolly, keeping his tension under tight control.
Narcissa ignored him as she kept her arms outstretched for another thirty seconds, before she lowered them and sighed loudly.
“Very well. What is it that you think I can help you with?”
Harry paused for a second, getting his thoughts in order. “We need to know what type of wards your husband regularly used in the past. With the help of an informant from within his group, we have located their current hideout, but we have only been able to get passed the outer layer of wards. We seek your help to try and figure out what other defences Lucius may have in place before we raid his hideout tonight.”
Harry saw Narcissa’s eyes widen at that. She recovered her composure quickly, but at least Harry now knew she could be surprised. Now he hoped her surprise would become fear for Draco’s safety if a raid was truly to be carried out.
“If you can assist us, it would help save many lives on both sides, as we would not have to resort to force alone,” said Harry calmly. “If you can’t help us, then no harm has been done by me asking, and you have received a glass of water for your thirst.”
Narcissa eyed Harry shrewdly. She had understood his unspoken message very clearly. Her son was at great risk, but she had the power to significantly reduce that risk. She bit her bottom lip as she weighed up her options.
“Can you promise me Draco will not be harmed if I assist you?” asked Narcissa desperately.
Harry nodded. “I give you my word; I will do all I can to ensure his safety.”
Harry sat and listened for the next few minutes, while Gawain quietly took notes behind her, as Narcissa provided them with the details of the wards they had used to secure Malfoy Manor and some of the more controversial items they had kept at their residence from time to time.
Once Narcissa had finished, Harry stood and made his way around the table to her side. He poured her another glass of water before he returned to his seat.
“Thank you, Mrs Malfoy,” said Harry sincerely.
Narcissa looked like a defeated woman. “Just protect Draco, that’s all I ask. He doesn’t know what sort of man his father truly is.”
“Actually, Draco knows exactly who Lucius is,” said Harry with a small smile.
“How would you know?” snapped Narcissa, the familiar Malfoy leer on her face.
Harry sat forward in his chair again. “I told you we had an informant in your husband’s group.”
Harry watched as Narcissa’s expression changed from confusion to realisation.
“Draco,” she whispered, her hand rising up to cover her mouth.
“I met Draco last night, Mrs Malfoy. We have already arranged for him to meet us outside the protection of the wards your husband is using, prior to the commencement of our raid. He will be perfectly safe.”
Anger flashed in Narcissa’s eyes. “You deceived me, Potter. Draco was never in any danger.”
Harry shrugged. “Then perhaps this will make up for it. He asked me deliver a message to you. He asked me tell you he loves you, and that he hopes to see the white rose again one day, with you by his side. He assured me you would understand what that meant.”
Narcissa’s eyes filled with tears as she heard her son’s message. Draco’s cryptic message definitely meant something to her.
“Thank you, Mr Potter,” rasped Narcissa, drying her eyes on her sleeve. “Pass on my love to my son when you see him again... and my pride in him for what he is doing. If he doubts the words are mine, remind him that the white rose falls at midday.”
Harry nodded as he wondered how he had become a messenger service between the Malfoys.
“I will,” said Harry. “Thank you for your help.”
Behind Narcissa, Gawain opened the door and two agents from the Magical Law Enforcement office entered the conference room and escorted Narcissa out. Once the door was shut behind them, Gawain turned and grinned at Harry.
“Nicely done, Harry. You’ll make a first rate interrogator one day.”
“Thanks, Gawain,” said Harry weakly, as he raised his hands up from beneath the table to reveal they were shaking slightly. “Just as long as I don’t have to do it standing up.”
Gawain chuckled. “Come on, we’ve got some planning to do.”
Lucius was beginning to lose his patience with his son. He had apologised for his actions repeatedly, yet Draco remained locked away in a bedroom upstairs, unwilling to even acknowledge his presence.
As his companions had started to make preparations for lunch, Lucius once again climbed the stairs and made his way to the bedroom door his son was hiding behind. He knocked on the door as gently as his frustration would allow.
“Draco, we are about to eat. Why don’t you come down and join us?”
No response came from the other side of the door. Lucius sighed as he drew his wand. He could not permit this standoff to continue any longer. Soon it would start to poison the morale of the men who followed him, and they were not in the greatest spirits to begin with.
“Alohomora,” whispered Lucius, hearing the click as the lock opened.
He eased the door open a few inches and peered into the room. To his surprise, he could see Draco curled up on the bed asleep. Lucius pulled the door shut quietly, glad to know that his son was sleeping and not just ignoring him.
Lucius headed back down the stairs, vowing to himself to start treating Draco decently in the future. He knew he had let his own anger and humiliation get the better of him as he lashed out at all those around him, but now he was afraid of losing his son through his own actions.
Once he was sure the door had been shut, Draco rolled over and looked around the room, making sure it was empty. He had been surprised it had taken his father this long before he had opened the door.
Draco stood up from the bed and rubbed his tired eyes. While he had managed to sleep for a few restless hours since dawn, he was exhausted from the stress and worry as he thought about what may happen tonight.
He was also very hungry, and his father’s mention of food was enough to tempt him downstairs. He also thought it was probably a good idea to feign a better mood around his father, as he didn’t need Lucius keeping a closer eye on him today of all days.
Draco drew a deep breath and opened the bedroom door, then made his way down the stairs to join the rest of the group for a meal.
Ron was hunched over the table, his eyes red from tiredness as he scratched out details on the parchment that lay before him. Beside Ron stood Felix Stockton, who was watching on with interest as Ron scribbled the occasional note on a piece of parchment. Good tacticians were often hard to find, and the Auror marvelled at the way Ron went about planning.
The plan they had come up with together was simple and elegant, minimising the chances for things to go wrong. It didn’t have the flash of Ron’s plan when they had staged the mock battle at Hogwarts, but it was a workman like plan that had the express aim of getting everyone home in one piece.
There was only one problem. Now they could get through the wards that Lucius Malfoy was using, or at least they hoped they could, but they still needed a way to stop Lucius and his followers from apparating away the moment the wards fell.
Initially it had been suggested that they could cast their own set of wards around the residence Lucius was hiding in, but from the information that had been provided by Narcissa Malfoy, it had become evident that Lucius was highly skilled in the use of wards, and he may be able to penetrate any counter wards they used and then make his escape.
Ron rubbed his temples while Felix slumped into a chair behind him. The wards were the last hurdle they needed to overcome before their plan would be complete, but right now the problem was giving Ron a headache.
Relief arrived in the form of Hermione carrying a large plate of sandwiches and a jug of pumpkin juice. Hermione placed the tray and the jug on the table as Ron grabbed for a sandwich.
“Thanks, ‘Mione,” he mumbled, his mouth already half full of sandwich. “You’re the best.”
Hermione gave Ron a sympathetic smile as she saw the look of exhaustion on his face. “You’re welcome,” she said, as she turned back to look at the plans lying on the table.
“This looks good, guys,” she said admiringly. “Nice and simple this time.”
Ron grunted and Felix let out a long sigh.
Hermione was a little confused by their lack of enthusiasm for their own plan. “I take it this means you two still haven’t figured everything out yet?”
Ron shoulders sagged. “It’s the damn wards. We need to stop Lucius leaving after we breach his wards, but the cunning bugger will probably know how to get passed any wards we put up ourselves. And seeing as this is probably the only chance we’re going to have to catch the prat, we’re trying to make sure the plan’s foolproof.”
Hermione considered this for a moment. “You should ask Kreacher to help.”
Ron and Felix glanced at each other before looking back at Hermione, confusion on both of their faces.
Hermione looked incredulous as she stared at Ron and Felix. “Don’t tell me you have already forgotten, Ron. Kreacher’s magic shielded Harry within Grimmauld Place remember. The Aurors couldn’t even get through the defences he used.”
Ron’s eyes widened as he considered what she was saying. “You are brilliant, Hermione. You know that don’t you?”
Hermione beamed at Ron, glad to be able to help, as she would not be going on the raid herself. Kingsley was very insistent about that point as she had not taken the Auror training lessons at Hogwarts.
Ron was grinning now, as he leant forward and kissed Hermione before he and Felix left the room at high speed in search of a house-elf.
Draco forced a smile as his father put an arm around his shoulders. Lucius had just finished telling Draco that they would make a new start together, putting the bitterness behind them so they could work together to restore the Malfoy name, and avenge their humiliation.
Draco swallowed his spiteful responses to his father’s condescending words, as he started counting down the hours until he would leave his father’s side for the last time. He checked his watch. Using midnight as his departure time, he had less than ten hours to wait.
Harry finally stopped resisting and let sleep claim him. Gawain and Kingsley had convinced him to lie down and get some rest before they set out tonight to attempt to apprehend Lucius Malfoy and his followers.
After some initial reluctance, Harry now lay on a mattress which had been placed on the floor of an office within the Ministry building, with Ginny by his side.
In the adjacent office, Ron and Hermione had also taken the opportunity to get some rest while they had the chance. As Ron lay gently snoring beside her, Hermione ran her hand across his chest as she tried to keep her nerves under control.
She was worried for Ron, as she worried for each member of the team that would participate in the upcoming raid. Her friends had been working frantically for twelve hours after very little sleep, and she hoped they could overcome their weariness before tonight.
As Ron rolled over in his sleep and faced away from her, Hermione put her hand on his arm and lightly kissed the back of his shoulder.
She wished desperately that she was going with Ron tonight, as the thought of him stepping into danger troubled her. She didn’t doubt his abilities, as Ron had fought in dangerous situations many times before, but this would be the first time she wasn’t there with him, and it was the thought of having to stay behind and wait to hear what had happened that was causing her such concern.
So now she watched over her sleeping boyfriend, telling herself over and over again that nothing was going to happen to him. She hoped she would believe that by the time he left tonight.
Draco stared at the ceiling, counting the seconds of each minute in his head. His body was rigid and his jaw clenched tight as he played out the various scenarios in his head of the possible outcomes of tonight.
He glanced at his watch and realised he had been counting too fast again. The ten minutes he thought he had counted out had in fact been only five minutes. One hour to go, he noted as sudden fear surged through him.
Using his sleeve, he wiped away the sweat that had formed on his brow. His emotions were starting to become erratic as his moment of truth approached. He wondered what would happen if he stayed in this house instead of meeting Harry Potter as arranged. Would Harry and the Aurors still attempt to breach the wards? Was my mother able to give them any useful information?
Draco let the questions fall away as relief replaced the fear. It would all be over soon and he would be free of the miserable life he had endured for almost a year now. Or at least he hoped so.
Harry and Ginny awoke to find an Auror kneeling beside them. She was gently shaking their shoulders, trying to rouse them quickly.
“Harry, Ginny, it’s time.”
Harry’s mind rose up through semi-consciousness to full alertness in moments. He sat up and looked around the office for a few seconds, slightly disorientated before he remembered where he was.
“Thanks, Sam, we’re up,” said Harry, hearing his knees crack as he got to his feet.
As Harry reached down and took Ginny’s hand, helping her to her feet, Sam stood at the door to make sure the couple were alright. Tonight’s plan called for her to be partnered with Harry, and she wanted to make sure he was ready.
“You ready, Gin?” asked Harry.
Ginny nodded. “Let’s go.”
Sam was startled as she saw the looks of determination appear on the faces of Harry and Ginny. She could see the fire in Ginny’s eyes, and she had to remind herself what these two were capable of, and try to remember that they were not your average teenagers. Sure they were now awake; she turned and left the room.
Ginny looked at the door as it closed. Once it had shut, she reached down into the bag she had brought and pulled out Harry’s invisibility cloak.
“Here,” said Ginny, holding out the cloak to Harry. “You never know.”
Harry smiled as he took the cloak, and he immediately felt something hard wrapped in it. He unrolled the fabric until he revealed the Elder Wand. His smile was instantly replaced by confusion.
“What’s this doing here?” he asked, his voice just above a whisper.
Ginny shrugged her shoulders. “I thought you could use it.”
Harry quickly rewrapped the wand in his cloak and shoved it back into the bag by Ginny’s feet. “I can’t use it, Gin. I can’t risk it falling into someone else’s hands.”
“But you would be so powerful,” insisted Ginny. “Who could beat you?”
Harry looked into Ginny’s eyes. “Dumbledore lost his control over this wand when he was beaten by Draco, all because he chose to save me instead of himself. It’s that easy for something to go wrong. I should have put it back in his tomb already.”
Ginny could see the fear in Harry’s eyes now. She understood why Harry didn’t want to use the Elder wand now; and Harry getting struck down while he tried to save someone else was just the sort of thing she could imagine happening to him. She bent down and grabbed the bag off the floor.
“You’re right, Harry. I’m sorry. I’ll leave it with Hermione, okay?”
Harry nodded as colour returned to his face. “Thanks, Gin. Come on, let’s go and get ready.”
Gawain paced back and forth across the conference room floor as he addressed the group before him.
“This is potentially the biggest group of dark wizards we have tried to take down in one go since the Battle of Hogwarts. We have a real chance to quash one of the last true groups of resistance in Britain tonight, so let’s make sure this is done right.”
“While we have had help from two sources with inside knowledge of what we are up against, I must remind you all that neither of these people has proven themselves trustworthy beyond doubt at this stage, so keep your guard up at all times, even in the presence of Draco Malfoy.”
“With any luck, we will be able to move in on our target remaining undetected until the last possible moment. However, if we lose the element of surprise we will not be abandoning our goal tonight, which is the apprehension of Lucius Malfoy.”
Gawain stopped pacing and fixed the group before him with a piercing stare.
“You all know your jobs. Watch out for each other. Let’s get this done.”
Gawain received a series of affirmative grunts and “Yes, sirs” as he turned and made his way to the door, followed by his Auror’s, and then Harry, Ginny, and Kingsley, who was going along to assist if necessary, as he put it. Harry secretly thought the Minister just couldn’t resist the lure of an Auror raid on this scale.
Ron remained behind briefly as he gave Hermione a hug goodbye. As he saw a tear in Hermione’s eye, he promised her he would be back with her before she knew it. Ron then ran to catch up to the others as they made their way through the Ministry and out into the muggle world.
Once on the street, Gawain and Harry apparated to Bath to meet Draco at the prearranged location. When they arrived they surveyed the area quickly, and having found nobody else in the area, Harry sat down on a low garden wall to wait for Draco, while Gawain returned to the group and turned an old umbrella into a portkey, bringing the rest of the team to Harry’s position.
Harry remained sitting on the low wall as the rest of the group disappeared into the surrounding shadows. They did not want to spook Draco if they could avoid it. Once Harry was convinced that everyone was hidden from sight he called for Kreacher.
“Hello, Master Harry,” said Kreacher as he bowed.
“Do you know what to do, Kreacher?” asked Harry, trying to conceal his anxiety.
“Of course, Master,” replied Kreacher, bringing his large eyes up to look at Harry’s face. “Master Weasley was very clear. As you requested, I will follow his instructions.”
“Great, thanks, Kreacher,” said Harry. “It shouldn’t be long now.”
Draco once again made his way to the front door of the house. He disappeared out into the night, a mixture of fear and elation running through him. As the wrought iron gate swung shut behind him and he started heading down the street towards the location of his meeting with Harry Potter, he never saw the face peering out at him through the curtains of the house he had just left.
Randall Chormley blinked his eyes rapidly a number of times, trying to make sure he wasn’t just imagining things. His vision cleared and he was sure now; the Malfoy boy was indeed walking down the street in the middle of the night.
He wondered what he should do now. Draco might be acting on his father’s orders, or something far more sinister may be at play here. Randall decided to hedge his bets; he would risk Lucius’s anger and inform him of what he had seen, but not until the morning. He hoped it would go some way to making up for leading the Ministry to the warehouse hideout.
The stone wall was starting to become uncomfortably cold. Harry yawned and stretched before standing up from the wall. Doubt was starting to nag at him, and he was beginning to consider using their backup plan.
The backup plan wasn’t really a plan. They would breach the wards themselves and then use force to take the house. It was high risk and had the potential to result in many deaths.
Harry decided he would give Draco five more minutes before they took the initiative themselves. If Draco had betrayed them, five minutes wouldn’t make any difference now.
Draco peered into the darkness. He thought he could see a figure standing in the distance. He slowly walked closer, keeping to the shadows as his mind raced.
This was his last chance to change his mind. He could return to his father right now, insisting that he had seen suspicious activity outside the window of the room he was supposed to be sleeping in at the moment, and disappear with his father beyond the Ministry’s sight; or he could continue on his current path, and hope it would one day contain the peace and happiness he saw others enjoying so much.
As he got closer to the figure standing in the street, he could make out a second, much shorter figure standing beside the first figure. Potter and his elf were waiting for him as promised. The confirmation that Harry Potter had kept his word and returned sealed Draco’s fate. He would betray his father, giving himself and his mother a chance to be happy again.
Harry turned his head towards the sound of the footsteps approaching him. He could make out a tall thin figure wearing black, his blonde hair shining even in the pale moonlight. Draco had arrived, and a surge of adrenaline shot through him, causing his eyes to glow.
Draco stopped several feet away from Harry and tilted his head to one side. “Again with the eyes, Potter?” he smirked.
Harry shook his head. “I was just beginning to wonder if you were going to show up, Malfoy.”
“Don’t you trust me?” asked Draco, a small smile playing on his lips.
“Not in the slightest,” answered Harry. “We do, however, appreciate the assistance you and your mother have provided us.”
“Us?” said Draco questioningly. “I take it then that you plan to go ahead with a raid tonight?”
Harry held up his wand and let the tip light up briefly. “Of course.”
Draco began looking around wildly as people started emerging from every direction to join Harry in the middle of the street. Draco felt the blood drain from face. This was a very serious looking group, and he instantly felt a stab of fear for his father.
“Are you planning to capture them… or kill them?” asked Draco shakily.
Harry regarded Draco for a moment. “We will capture them, unless we are forced to use lethal force.”
Draco nodded his understanding as he kept looking around at the wizards and witches preparing themselves for action. Draco then began to provide the group with details of the internal layout of the terrace house.
The ground floor consisted of a very large living room, a dining area, and a kitchen with an attached utilities room; while a back door led out from between the kitchen and dining areas. Just inside the front door, a staircase led up to a landing on the second floor, which sat at the mid way point of the upstairs hallway.
Upstairs had four bedrooms and a bathroom; all leading off from a central hallway. The bathroom was directly across the hall from the staircase landing, while two bedrooms were located at each end of the hallway.
Once Draco had finished relaying the details, an uncomfortable silence fell amongst the group. Draco looked directly at Harry.
“What happens to me now?” enquired Draco.
“That will be up to the Wizengamot,” said Harry flatly. “You were tried in absentia, but I will testify to your actions over the previous year and your sentence may be reduced.”
Draco looked startled by the news that he had already been sentenced. This was something he hadn’t read in the Daily Prophet.
“How long did I get?”
Draco’s breath caught in his throat at that. “Can I be placed in a cell near my mother?”
Harry could hear the desperation in Draco’s voice now. He momentarily saw Draco in a different light, as he wondered just how lonely Draco truly was.
“I’m sure something can be arranged,” said Harry. “Why don’t you wait here with the Minister and talk about it.”
Draco glanced around until he spotted Kingsley. His eyes widened in surprise as he realised Harry wasn’t joking. The Minister was standing before him.
Draco hung his head. “Just try not to kill my father.”
“We will do our best,” said Harry as he walked passed Draco and began making his way up the street towards Lucius’s hideout, Kreacher trotting along happily beside him.
“Oh, I have a message from your mother for you,” said Harry as he turned back to face Draco.
Harry relayed the message, and saw that Draco was left visibly shaken by it, before turning away and heading up the street.
The rest of the group followed, leaving Draco and Kingsley behind to await the outcome of the raid.
“Master, we have reached the wards,” Kreacher informed Harry, as he came to a halt in the middle of the dark street.
“Thanks, Kreacher.” Harry turned and faced Gawain. “It’s your show, Gawain.”
Gawain nodded. He turned to look at his Auror’s. “Portney, Dawlish, you’re up.”
Harry stepped back as Dawlish and Portney made their way forward to the point where Kreacher had stopped. Dawlish looked back over his shoulder.
“Everybody get ready. This should only take a few seconds.”
Dawlish and Portney then both began making complex, but different, patterns in the air with their wands. Narcissa thought Lucius might be using one of two different wards to stop apparation in or out of the area, so they had decided to cast the spells that would remove both types of ward simultaneously.
The two men finished their spells and stepped back. A moment later, Harry felt a slight breeze on his face, as if a large bubble had been popped, releasing its air outwards.
Gawain walked forward and crossed the point where they knew the barrier had been. He turned and faced the group.
“Okay, let’s go. You all know what to do.”
Once everyone had started moving towards their objective, Harry bent down next to Kreacher.
“Are you sure you can seal such a large area, Kreacher?” asked Harry, suddenly fearful of the answer.
“Yes, Master,” replied the house-elf, as he raised his long skinny arms above his head and closed his eyes. “It is done, Master.”
Harry exhaled loudly. “Good job, Kreacher. Now, make sure you stay safe, alright.”
Kreacher bowed to Harry. “Good luck, Master.”
Harry stood and jogged to catch up with the group. “Our wards are in place,” he informed Gawain. “Nobody can apparate in or out now.”
Gawain grunted. “How much further to the house?”
Harry looked down the street into the darkness, the occasional pool of light coming from the overhead street lights leading him directly to their objective.
“Not far. Maybe fifty yards up on the left,” said Harry, his tension starting to build.
“Everybody keep to the shadows,” said Gawain over his shoulder. “We’re almost there.”
With that, the group moved off the street and began moving stealthily through front gardens, using low walls and shrubs as cover as they neared their target. As Harry ducked behind a car in a driveway, he glanced over his shoulder and was startled to find Sam was now right behind him. He could see her grin at him even in the darkness.
“Keep moving, Harry,” she whispered. “Speed is our best weapon at the moment.”
Randall Chormley was a tormented man. He was lying under a blanket on a sofa that was far too short for his long legs. His mind wouldn’t let him relax either, as he kept glancing at the front door as if Draco would return at any second.
When he could no longer stand the unease he felt, he rose from the sofa and made his way to the window. He peered out through the dirty glass, seeing no sign of Draco. As he turned away, something caught his attention out of the corner of his eye.
He stared intently down the street. There it is again, he thought, as a dark shadow moved over the top of a low stone wall a few houses further down the street. He tried to rub the streaks of grime off the glass so he could get a better view, but it was useless as the dirt was on the outside.
Another quick movement caught his eye. Now that he knew what to look for, he could see movement everywhere. Panic filled him and he let out an involuntary moan as realisation dawned. The Aurors were coming.
Harry strained to see the colour of the doors to the houses as he made his way closer to the end of the row of houses. Finally they came to where he thought the house should be, but he still couldn’t see a green front door. He leant towards Gawain who was on his left.
“There must still be some wards in place. The third house from the end should have a green door, but I can’t see it.”
Gawain nodded his understanding. He turned to his left. “Dawlish, Portney, you’re up again. Go now,” he whispered, a sense of urgency creeping into his words.
Two shadowy figures stood from behind their concealment and darted out into the street. They both began waving their wands in complex motions. Harry tore his eyes away from the two men and focussed on a point between the two terrace houses where he expected another one to appear.
The seconds dragged out into minutes as the two wizards continued trying all the counter spells for wards they could think of. Narcissa Malfoy had been uncertain of the exact nature of the wards her husband always employed, but she had provided them with a list of the most likely sorts of protection Lucius would favour, along with the passwords he had used previously.
As Harry started to feel a small degree of panic rise within him, he heard the sound of stone rubbing against stone. As he watched he saw the terrace house with a green door slide into view, as if it had been concealed within the neighbouring house. Harry smiled in relief as he heard the collective sound of many people drawing breath again.
Gawain stood and began issuing instruction quickly and quietly, as Dawlish and Portney rejoined the group.
“Kraven, Neptune, and Ginny, make your way to the rear of the house. Secure the back door.”
The three members of the group began moving. Ginny gave Harry a small smile as she stepped passed him and followed the two Aurors to the end of the street. Harry watched her until she disappeared around the corner to the left.
Gawain had also watched their progress down the street. He turned back to face the others.
“We’ll give them two minutes to get into position,” he said, glancing at his watch before he continued. “Felix, Ron, you two will cover the front door. Once we enter the house, make sure nobody gets out passed you.”
“Everybody else is with me. Work in pairs, and stun anyone you come across. We’ll sort out the details later. Sam and Harry, you take downstairs; Dawlish and Portney, upstairs to the right; Tamesa, you’re with me, upstairs to the left.”
Gawain checked his watch again.
“If something goes wrong get out of the house. We can regroup and assault the house in force if we have to.”
Harry could see dark shapes nodding around him. Everybody had already known what they were supposed to be doing, as it had been planned out before they left the Ministry, but Harry appreciated being reminded again. This was his first official raid, and he was already on edge from the effort of keeping his excitement and fear under control.
As the seconds crawled by, Harry drew a deep breath and closed his eyes. He silently wished Ginny, Ron, and the others luck, hoping this would all be over quickly. When he opened his eyes, he saw that Gawain had risen to his feet.
“With me, people,” he said, as he stepped out from behind cover and into the street.
Randall Chormley watched with a growing sense of horror as a large group of people walked towards the front of the house. He shook his head, baffled as to why the wards didn’t seem to be having any effect on the people outside.
He shrunk back to the far corner of the living room. His terror prevented him from alerting anybody else inside the house, but in thirty seconds it wouldn’t matter.
Gawain stepped briskly to the door. He tried to turn the door handle, and to his surprise, it moved freely under his hand. He pushed the door open as slowly as he could, already feeling very exposed as he stood at the door.
Once the door was open far enough, Gawain inched through and made his way to the bottom of the staircase several feet away. Tamesa joined him and they started to make their way up the staircase.
Harry and Sam were next in through the door. Harry glanced around but had trouble making out anything. He could see the dark shapes of the furniture in the living room, and the light from outside was reflecting off the stainless steel surfaces in the kitchen, casting eerie shadows throughout the ground floor.
He felt Sam put a hand on his shoulder as she moved passed him, and started making her way towards the back door at the far end of the kitchen.
Dawlish and Portney came in last, stealthily making their way up the stairs behind Gawain and Tamesa.
As Harry’s eyes adjusted to the darkness within the house, he began to see the shapes of sleeping figures, and as his heart rate slowed, he could now make out the sounds of snoring in the room. Harry looked to Sam, waiting for her signal.
The plan was simple. Give Gawain and Dawlish a minute to get into position, and then start stunning people as quietly as possible. With any luck, their targets would only find out what hit them when they awoke in Azkaban.
A surge of adrenalin flowed through Harry as he counted down the seconds. He aimed his wand at the nearest dark figure, before fixing his softly glowing eyes on Sam.
Randall Chormley had pressed his body as far back into the corner of the living room as he could; as he watched the figures enter the house. Most of them had gone up the stairs, but he could see that at least two had remained downstairs in the living room. One of the figures drew his attention, as they had strange glowing eyes.
Moving slowly, hoping his trembling hands wouldn’t give him away, he drew his wand and raised his arm. He tried to take aim at the figure with the glowing eyes, but his shaking arm refused to allow him to hold his wand steady.
Randall tried to suppress his trembling, as he knew he had to get out of the house if he wished to get away. He held his breath and fired the first spell he could think of.
A jet of green light shot by Harry’s head, striking the wall behind him. The sound of the spell impacting on the wood panelling was all but drowned out as the shouted words of the Avada Kedavra curse echoed throughout the room.
Harry ducked instinctively despite the fact the curse had already missed him. He produced a shield from his wand as he saw a figure dart out from the corner of the living room and head towards the back door.
Harry ignored the running figure as the whole floor in front of him began to move as others were snapping out of their sleep. To his right, Sam lit the tip of her wand and Harry was startled by the number of people he could now see trying to get to their feet, indignant shouts being emitted by some.
His shield still up, Harry heard the back door being pulled open, followed by the sound of several spells being yelled from outside. Whoever had run, had just run out of luck. Harry brought his mind back to the increasingly perilous situation before him.
Feeling a strange calm come over him, Harry dropped his shield and fired a massive stunning spell into the closest person to him. The jet of red light lit up the room, followed instantly by a jet of light from Sam’s position.
The commotion from downstairs had caused Gawain and the others who were upstairs to freeze where they were. As Gawain tried to peer back down the stairs, a red glow came from below. He knew if he tried to go down and help now, he would just get in the way as the fight had already started.
He spun back around and glanced down the hallway on the second floor. No doors were opening yet, but he knew it was only a matter a seconds. He moved quickly along the hallway until he reached a window at the end, which looked out over the front garden and street below.
Gawain crouched down and aimed his wand back along the hallway as Tamesa reached his side. Dawlish and Portney remained on the landing half way along the hallway, coving the doors towards the rear of the property.
Gawain’s vision narrowed as he heard the sound of a door handle squeaking. He tried to ignore the flashes of light which were coming up the staircase from below, as he focussed on the door which was about to open.
Harry spun and crouched as he moved towards Sam. After his initial attack he had received a barrage of spells in return, and had been unable to do anything other than block them. Sam was also having a similar problem, so Harry thought if he could get to her they could work together, one producing a shield as the other fired spells around it.
Two more long steps and Harry was beside Sam. He produced a shield as he leant over to speak to her.
“Fire around the shield,” he yelled, the noise from the spells impacting on the walls growing louder.
Sam nodded. She let the tip of her wand illuminate the room again, taking note of the position of her targets before she stepped to the side and fired a spell at a dark figure. The figure crumpled to ground and didn’t stir again.
Sam stepped back behind Harry’s shield. She produced her own shield and yelled at Harry.
Harry lowered his shield. He took a deep breath and stepped around the edge of Sam’s shield. He fired multiple spells at anything which gave even a hint of being a person. A spell came flying across the living room at Harry, which he blocked with a flick of his wand. He fired his own stunning spell back at the point from which the spell had come.
Hearing a yelp followed by a thump as a body hit the floor; Harry quickly made his way back behind Sam’s shield, ready to strike at the next fool who took a shot at him.
Gawain held his breath as the bedroom door to his right creaked open. He could just make out a head poking through the door. It was all he needed. The jet of light left the end of his wand and flew directly into the protruding head, splintering the doorframe as it went passed.
Wasting no time, Dawlish stood from his crouched position on the landing and disintegrated the door from which the unwise man had just emerged and been stunned. If anybody else had been behind the door, they would sorely regret being so now, assuming they lived to regret it.
At the far end of the hall, Gawain cast the Homenum Revelio spell. It revealed another person was in the room to the left. Gawain fired the Reducto spell at the door, leaving it a smouldering wreck as he stood and dashed through the hole that had been blasted through the door, Tamesa right behind him.
Gawain and Tamesa scanned the room quickly, finding only one man cowering behind a single bed. The whimpering figure held up his hands and dropped his wand onto the mattress beside him. Gawain and Tamesa shared a look with each other. They both knew they didn’t have enough people to start babysitting prisoners, but they didn’t really have a choice.
“Stay here and watch this man,” said Gawain.
“Yes, Sir,” replied Tamesa, her eyes hard as she glared at the snivelling man at her feet.
Gawain made his way back to Dawlish and Portney on the landing.
“You two clear the other two rooms,” ordered Gawain, “I’ll cover you from here.”
Gawain received two affirmative grunts as his men stood up and made their way to the bedroom on their left. Dawlish kicked the door open and jumped back out of the way. Two quick stunning spells from Portney resulted in the sound of a body falling to the floor. The Auror spun around and stepped across the hallway to the bedroom door on the right side.
Lucius knew what was happening already. He was seething with rage as he examined his options. He was also racking his brain trying to figure out how he had not only been found, but his wards had been breached without an alert being sounded. The obvious answer was betrayal, but he had not revealed the details of the wards to anyone within his group; not even his son, who he had thought was supposed to be in this room.
He shook the thought off as he moved to the window of the bedroom. He peered down into the rear courtyard, and he could make out the shapes of people standing in a defensive pattern around the back door. The rear of the house was covered, and he assumed the front would be also.
Lucius didn’t want to apparate without his followers, particularly his son, but he realised he no longer had a choice if he wished to escape. He spun on the spot, almost toppling over as he lost his balance. Nothing had happened; no sense of the dizzying rushing movement he had expected had occurred.
Lucius looked around the bedroom wildly. He tried various counter spells in an effort to breach whatever wards were being used, but none were successful. Finally he realised the truth of his situation. He was trapped.
He shrank back to the far corner of the room and aimed his wand at the floor just inside the door. He smiled maliciously for the briefest of moments. He still had a trick or two up his sleeve, and the first person through the door would never know what hit them.
In the rear courtyard, Ginny, Neptune, and Kraven had all seen the flash of white hair appear in the window above them on the left. Kraven turned his head towards Ginny and Neptune.
“I think that was Malfoy up there,” he said. “You two keep covering the back door, while I try and get a better look inside that bedroom window.”
Ginny watched as Kraven started climbing the fence which was attached to the house. She thought it looked a little too precarious, but she shrugged her shoulders and brought her attention back to the rear door, and the prone figure that had been stunned as he tried to flee the house.
A glass panel in the door allowed her to see inside, but she and Neptune kept their distance as flashes from random spells flared every few seconds from within the house. Ginny just hoped Harry was okay.
Harry and Sam were standing back to back, breathing heavily, as they surveyed the living room and kitchen. After a final barrage of spells from both of them, they could detect no further movement in the living room. Sam strode through the dining area and entered the kitchen. After a brief search she found what she was looking for.
Harry squinted as the kitchen lights flickered to life behind him. His shadow lay across the middle of the living room, and the light from the kitchen hung like a gray haze as wisps of smoke floated in the air.
He could now make out the shapes of people lying sprawled on the floor, and in one case dangling over the back of a sofa. The television in the corner was a twisted wreck, and Harry guessed this was the source of the smoke.
As Sam rejoined him, they started to prod at the bodies with their feet. Once they were sure the person was out cold, one of them would bend down and retrieve their fallen opponent’s wand. When they had finished, they had accounted for six of the eleven suspected people that were in this house.
Harry’s stomach had lurched as they realised one of the people slumped on the floor was dead. He didn’t know if it had been him or Sam that cast the fatal spell, or perhaps one of the other people in the living room had accidentally struck their companion. Harry decided not to dwell on it too much right now.
Sam grabbed Harry on the shoulder.
“Start tying this lot up while I go and let our team out back know what’s happened,” she said, and Harry could see that her hands were starting to shake as the adrenaline started wearing off.
Harry watched Sam as she walked to the back door and peered out through the glass. She turned back and gave Harry the thumbs up signal. Harry smiled, knowing Ginny was alright, and began to start securing the men that had been stunned in the living room.
As Harry reached the second prone figure, a shiver ran down his back and he felt a sudden stab of fear as a sense of imminent danger overcame him. His mind was screaming at him to get out of the house, leaving him feeling dizzy. Sam, he thought desperately, as he spun towards the Auror.
“SAM... get down,” screamed Harry.
Sam turned to look at Harry, a startled expression on her face. Harry saw her open her mouth to say something, but she never got a word out.
The ceiling exploded above them and the blast knocked Harry off his feet. As his head struck the floor he was plunged into darkness.
Seconds earlier, Portney had pushed the bedroom door open with his elbow as he held his wand at the ready. He saw a sudden movement from the far corner of the room, so he dropped down onto one knee and fired a shield from the end of his wand.
It did little good. Lucius’s spell ripped into the floor at Portney’s feet and detonated like a bomb. All the air was briefly sucked into the point where the spell had impacted, before bursting out in every direction amid a sea of sparks and flame.
Every window in the house shattered instantly, and Portney was blown back out of the doorway, his body flying across the hallway and impacting into the opposite wall with such force that he nearly went through that wall as well.
In the hallway, the floor fell out from under Dawlish as the explosion tore the internal timber structure of the house apart. As Dawlish crashed onto the floor below, he heard a loud snap followed by an agonising bolt of pain shooting up his leg.
The sound of a scream came from beside him, but it cut off abruptly as timber beams rained down from above. Despite his pain, Dawlish felt his heart sink as he realised he was not the only person to get caught by the blast.
In the rear courtyard, Ginny picked herself up off the ground and looked around. She could see Neptune also getting to her feet slowly, but she could find no trace of Kraven.
Ginny stumbled to the fence and peered over it into the neighbour’s yard. She could see Kraven lying on the ground, his legs bent at awkward angles as he let out a low moan, a flimsy set of outdoor furniture having borne the brunt of the Auror’s fall.
She spun back towards the door as plumes of smoke started coming out of the now shattered kitchen windows and the cracked glass panel in the back door.
Ginny glanced at Neptune and could see the same dazed look on the Auror’s face that she knew must be on hers.
Ginny’s mind raced. Harry.
The massive boom reached Kingsley and Draco at the far end of the street.
Kingsley turned and looked at Draco, seeing the young man staring wide eyed in the direction of the house. They both knew instantly that something had gone wrong.
“I must help my people,” said Kingsley urgently. “Stay out of sight until it’s over.”
With that, Kingsley began running towards the smoke which was reaching up into the night sky, as the sound of car alarms started going off in all directions.
Ron and Felix were just about to enter the house when the sounds of somebody approaching fast caught their attention. They both spun and brought their wand’s to bear on the rapidly approaching figure.
Kingsley arrived at a dead run, pausing only briefly as he breathlessly spoke to Ron and Felix.
“You two stay here… I’ll go in and check,” said Kingsley haltingly. “Felix, send word to St Mungo’s that we may need assistance.”
Without waiting for a reply, Kingsley dashed up the path and crashed through the front door shoulder first. He came to a halt and tried to see through the smoke and dust. He could see a figure nearby rising to their feet.
Kingsley drew his wand and aimed at the hunched figure.
Harry’s ears were ringing when he came to on the living room floor. He didn’t know how long he had been out for, but he guessed it was only seconds judging by the amount of smoke and dust still rolling through the house.
He picked himself up off the floor and covered his mouth with his hand as he drew in a lungful of dust. He coughed several times as he looked around for any sign of the others. As he faced the front door, he was startled to find Kingsley pointing a wand at his chest.
“Harry, are you alright?” asked Kingsley as he lowered his wand.
Harry looked at Kingsley quizzically for a moment. He glanced down at his body and could find no obvious sign of injury.
“I think so.”
Kingsley wasn’t so sure. Besides the dust covering Harry’s face, a long smear of blood ran across the young man’s right cheek. Apparently Harry hadn’t noticed that his face had been cut by flying debris yet.
A moan from the bottom of the staircase caught Harry and Kingsley’s attention. It was Gawain, who was struggling to his feet. Harry could see the dark blood stains on Gawains face, but he still felt relief to see the Auror moving under his own power.
“Harry,” began Kingsley, “take Gawain out and join Ron and Felix. Secure the area as best you can. I’ll start sending the others out to you as I find them.”
Harry nodded his understanding as another series of coughs racked his body. He stepped over to Gawain and grabbed the Auror under one arm. As he led Gawain from the partially destroyed house, Kingsley disappeared into the smoke in search of his people.
Lucius peered out into the hallway and found no sign of his would-be captors. He looked down through the massive hole in the floor and could see nothing but a pile of debris. He knew he needed to move quickly while confusion still plagued his opponents.
Stepping back into the bedroom, he used his wand to knock a large enough hole in the wall for him to step through into the hallway. Once in the hallway, he realised he wasn’t going to be able to jump over the hole in the floor.
He thought quickly as he looked around for a way out. He knew he couldn’t go out the front or the back doors, but there was nothing to stop him moving sideways. Nothing except a couple of walls which he could make short work of.
Using his wand, he cast a spell which burned a hole into the adjacent bedroom. He charged through the hole and made his way to the next wall. This was a brick wall, and on the other side lay his best chance of escape. Casting the Reducto spell, he blew a hole through the brickwork and into the neighbouring house.
Seconds later, Lucius stood in the neighbour’s bedroom and regarded the young woman cowering in fear at the far end of her bed. Perfect, he thought himself as he seized the woman by the hair and dragged her out of the bed.
Kingsley had found Dawlish already, and left him to tend to the badly injured Sam, who had been struck by the falling timbers from the upper floor.
He made his way to the back door and stuck his head slowly out.
“Kingsley,” said a startled Ginny.
Kingsley felt relief flood through him. Several of his Auror’s were hurt, but the three civilians he had given permission to join this raid were all okay.
“Neptune, take Ginny through the house and wait out the front with her.”
Neptune nodded. “Kraven is injured. He’s on the other side of the fence,” said Neptune, indicating towards the neighbour’s courtyard.
“I’ll take care of him; you get Ginny out of here.”
Neptune grabbed Ginny by the arm. “Let’s go.”
Ron breathed a sigh of relief for the second time in two minutes as Ginny came through the front door and joined them on the street. Minutes earlier Harry had emerged from the house with Gawain, and Ron had been surprised that anybody had survived the explosion.
He was just about to give voice to his relief when a scream pierced the night. It had come from the neighbour’s house on the left.
They all turned towards the sound just in time to see the front door of the house get blown off its hinges and land in the middle of the street.
Through the smoking doorframe stepped Lucius Malfoy, a young woman held in front of him. All six of the group on the street raised their wand’s, but nobody dared to fire a spell.
Harry felt his chest tighten as he saw the terrified woman being roughly pushed down the pathway towards the street by Lucius. She was wearing only a cotton singlet and pyjama pants, and Harry noticed a large red mark was spreading across her face even as he looked at her. Lucius had evidently struck her, and her eyes were watering from the sting, or she was crying from the fear. Harry suspected it was probably both.
Lucius growled as he spotted Harry and the others, as they all started edging their way closer to him.
“Don’t even think about it, Potter,” snarled Lucius. “You wouldn’t want anything to happen to this girl’s pretty little neck would you?”
Lucius stepped out onto the street, keeping the woman between himself and Harry. He started walking backwards and Harry felt a horrible sense of déjà vu, his mind conjuring an image of Lucius using a small child as a shield at Hogwarts.
“We can’t let you leave, Malfoy,” said Harry. “You know we can’t.”
Lucius glanced over his shoulder for a second before he turned his attention back to Harry. “I wonder how far I need to go to get passed your wards.”
Harry felt his breath catch in his throat. Lucius knew what they had done, and he knew it had its limits.
“I could just stun you both,” said Harry menacingly, knowing he was bluffing as he said it. The power required to produce a stunning spell strong enough to penetrate two bodies would most likely prove fatal to the first body.
Lucius threw his head back and laughed as he kept inching backwards down the street. “I don’t think so, Potter. We both know your spell could kill her, and we both know you care for the fate of these… muggles,” said Lucius, spitting the last word.
Harry glanced to his left and noticed that Gawain and Ron had been steadily moving forwards while Lucius was focussed on Harry. They were trying to get into a position behind Lucius which would prevent him from moving any further down the street. It would also allow them to stun Lucius without risk of hitting the woman.
Lucius now also noticed that he was going to be surrounded if he did nothing. He increased the pace of his retreat, dragging his whimpering hostage with him.
“Give it up, Malfoy. You’ve got nowhere left to go,” yelled Harry, his frustration getting the better of him as he took two quick steps towards Lucius, closing the gap to only ten yards.
“Back off, all of you,” roared Lucius, his face contorted in rage, “or I’ll kill the girl.”
“Then we will kill you,” retorted Harry, determined that Lucius would not slip away again using a human shield.
Harry glanced down the street, and he knew they didn’t have far to go before they reached the barrier that Kreacher had put in place. If Lucius passed through the ward, it was over, and everybody knew it, including Lucius.
As Harry’s mind raged at him, trying to convince himself to take a shot at Malfoy, the sound of approaching footsteps came from behind Lucius and his frightened hostage. Harry peered over Lucius’s shoulder and was momentarily startled by who he saw.
Lucius saw the looks on the faces of the people who were currently facing him. They were obviously seeing somebody they hadn’t expected to. He glanced quickly over his shoulder and saw his son striding towards him, a wand in his hand.
Lucius turned back to face Harry and the others, a vicious sneer on his face. He continued to force his wand into the ribs of his hostage as Draco reached him and stood by his side.
“Where have you been, Draco?” hissed Lucius, his eyes never leaving Harry’s as he spoke.
“Forgive me, Father,” said Draco flatly. “I have been otherwise occupied.”
“We shall discuss your behaviour tonight after we have departed the area, Draco,” said Lucius threateningly, as he jabbed his wand savagely into the young women’s ribs, causing her to cry out in pain.
Draco took a step back from Lucius.
“No, Father… I don’t think we will.”
Without hesitation, Draco raised his wand and fired a stunning spell into his father’s neck. Lucius’s eyes widened for a fraction of a second before his body crumpled to the ground, taking the young woman with him.
Harry heard several gasps coming from the others standing around him. Nobody moved as they watched Draco step over the sprawled figure of Lucius Malfoy and pick up a wand, before he extended a hand and helped the shaking woman to her feet. Draco placed an arm around her waist to support her, and then started moving slowly towards Harry and the others.
Ginny and Neptune rushed forward to help Draco, taking the young woman from him and leading her to the sidewalk, lowering her to the ground as she began to sob uncontrollably.
Ron, Felix, and Gawain remained on the street with Harry, none of them entirely sure of what they should say to Draco.
Harry stared at Draco, and saw his face was a blank mask. For the first time since he had met Draco, Harry felt sympathy for him.
“Thank you, Draco,” said Harry quietly. “Are you alright?”
Draco glared at Harry for a moment, before tears started to run down his face. He sat down heavily in the street, the wands he was holding clattering onto the ground as they slid from his grasp. He buried his head in his hands as he let his relief and sorrow take over his body.
For Draco Malfoy, the war was finally over.
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