Kreacher apparated into the Conference Room from the special room near the Hospital. He found the meeting had concluded, which gave him a minute to determine how to approach the four he was asked to talk to. He hoped to avoid the Weasleys since he was instructed not to say anything. His attention was drawn to the hall when he heard applauding and congratulating happening. He wandered up to the group and asked "Are we having a Party? What would you like the House Elves to serve?"
"Only a small party Kreacher. My Grandson and his girlfriend just captured 2 Death Eaters" Augusta Longbottom proudly proclaimed. The crowd began to move back to their respective tables and Kreacher was able to see two bound figures like he saw upstairs.
"Kreacher is impressed Master Longbottom and Mistress Abbott. Those two hurt many, many students this year." Thinking fast he got an idea. "Minister it is important we send every Death Eater to Azkaban Prison. If you and the Headmistress have a few minutes he would like to discuss what he has seen. Kreacher also asks Master Longbottom and Mistress Lovegood to be present."
"Neville you go ahead. I'll watch our 'playmates' until you get back" Hannah told him.
"I'll try not to be gone too long" he replied as he kissed her. They ignored all the comments made by their fellow students.
"Don't listen to them. They are just jealous" Kreacher told the astounded couple. "Headmistress is your Conference Room available? Kreacher wishes to discuss this in private before he forgets."
"Of course" replied the Headmistress. She was flabbergasted by Kreacher's behavior. While he was still answering to people it was like he was giving orders too. "Kingsley and I will join you shortly." They took Augusta Longbottom aside to inquire about the current state of things, and to say that the House Elf's actions made them curious what he really wanted to talk about. And that he did not feel uncomfortable expressing himself.
Luna was observing Kreacher as they waited. "I can tell something is bothering you. Have you found any stray nargles?"
"Mistress Lovegood Kreacher wishes it was as simple as that. He is very worried right now" he replied.
Neville grew concerned at Kreacher's reply. Before he could question him further Kingsley and Minerva arrived. "Let's all sit shall we? Kreacher what is troubling you?" Minerva asked.
"Headmistress Kreacher was told to bring the four of you to another place in the Castle" he responded.
"Very well" replied Kingsley as he took the House Elf's outstretched hand along with Minerva, Luna, and Neville. With a 'pop' they disappeared only to find themselves in a very large windowless white room. In the foreground was a round table with 10 chairs. Hagrid was seated in one of them. Directly behind him was a curtained off area. The voice of Poppy could be heard uttering spells.
"Kreacher where are we? This looks like the Room of Requirement" wondered Neville.
"Master Longbottom you are partially right. Kreacher is not sure how Hogwarts created another room similar to the Room of Requirement. In this case it is located just off Madam Pomprey's Office and is designed to be another Hospital. But one with very restricted access."
"Kreacher who is this for? And why was it necessary to do this?" Kingsley asked.
"Because we asked for help and were brought here. Please sit down and we will be with you shortly" they heard Ginny reply from the other side of the white curtains.
Minerva studied Hagrid as she sat. His face and neck were covered in bruises and the tunic he liked to wear was torn and blood splattered. She guessed it was quite recent since she knew how fast giants healed. His calm demeanor contrasted with Kreacher who was alongside. His chair was raised to be more even with the others just like Hagrid's was modified for his size. The biggest difference was how he was having trouble controlling his emotions. As his face kept changing she realized he was punching his leg to punish himself. 'Was it something he did? Or failed to do?' she pondered.
"Kreacher thank you for bringing us here. I know this must be difficult for you under the circumstances" Luna told him. She had placed her hand over his to prevent him from striking himself further.
"Mistress Lovegood Kreacher has to punish himself. We would not be sitting in this room if he had done his job!" he wailed.
"No Kreacher. Don't let anyone ever tell you it's wrong to care and to be worried" they heard Ron say. Everyone gulped when they saw him. He had refused Poppy's help until Harry and Hermione were taken care of. The bruises he received from his brother Charlie were darkening and one eye had closed from all the swelling. A mixture of blood, grass, and sand covered both sides of his clothes. His left hand was swelled twice its normal size and he winced as he sat. They were too stunned to ask what happened.
"Kreacher I need you to promise me never to injure yourself ever again! We have enough people hurt already." This time it was Ginny coming out from behind the other curtain. Dried blood was on her face and in her hair. Dirt and grass stains covered her clothes and her hands were blood stained. A white shimmer covered her which gradually faded as she sat next to Ron.
"But Mistress Ginny ... "
"No Kreacher. Please listen to us. If you are hurt you can't help us" Ron added.
Ginny waited for Kreacher to calm himself. "As you all know several hours ago the four of us left together. Harry needed to do one final thing for the Headmaster. Tom Riddle had stolen his wand and Harry promised to return it."
"Is that whose it was? We didn't understand hardly anything said. Almost nothing from Voldemort and Harry would change between English and Parselmouth" said Neville.
"Yes Voldemort was afraid of the Headmaster. Maybe he thought if he took his wand it might help him beat Harry?" speculated Minerva.
"Good thing we will never know. Once Harry put it back he sealed the tomb. We stopped to thank the Professor for everything but when we tried to move we couldn't. Someone had cursed us" Ron told them.
"I could not see anything as I was facing his tomb. Behind me I heard them beating Harry. I was knocked over and they shoved him in my face! He looked horrible!!" Ginny bent over putting her face in her hands. Luna put her hand on her shoulder but she pulled it back when she saw Ginny flinch and pull away.
"Hermione and I were several feet away and facing each other. As Harry was thrown back and forth between them we could get a glimpse of him. My best mate was being beaten to Death and we couldn't stop it!!!" Ron yelled.
"I was headed to my house, or what was left of it when I saw something. I got there as quickly as I possible. I think I broke both my hands on their hard heads" Hagrid added.
"On whose head Hagrid? Did you catch them?" questioned Kingsley. In their meeting they had expressed concerns some Death Eaters were nearby.
Ron ignored the question as he continued. "Hagrid broke their concentration so Hermione and I got free. I jumped on one of them and we fought. Hermione saw I was losing and tried to help. She is lying in the bed behind me badly hurt."
"And Harry? What about him?" whispered Luna. She, Ginny, and Hermione had attacked Bellatrix Lestrange after she taunted Ginny about how Harry was dead.
"The other one I fought. He was getting the better of me until Miss Ginny interrupted. Didn't know you were so strong. That statue must have weighed 100 pounds" Hagrid stated.
"Harry is very badly hurt too. Because of what happened to us and who did it we need you to promise to keep this quiet. To be honest we don't know who to trust" Ginny said as she looked one by one at each of them.
"I think I can promise for everyone we will not discuss this. You say you caught them? Are they here?" Kingsley asked.
"Yes. We want you to question them. Did they act alone or are more involved in my biggest worry" Ron explained. "But first we want you to see what they have done." Ron rose to lead them around the white curtain.
* * *
Molly Weasley was pacing. The sun was almost gone and still no signs of 'her kids'. "Arthur I think this has something to do with Dumbledore. I am going there to look for them. I can't wait any longer. Something says horrible things have happened."
"Very well Molly. Percy can you come with us please?" he asked his third oldest Son. He reluctantly followed his parents after being assured by Lee Jordan and Angelina Johnson they would remain with his brother George. It took about 15 minutes to make their way out of the Castle and around all the debris.
"Careful Dad. Something bad has happened here" Percy said as he saw what looked like blood.
"As quick as you can get back to the Castle Percy. Try to find Kingsley or some Aurors" his Father commanded. His son took off to run back to the Great Hall.
"Molly stay here. We don't want to mess up anything" he told her as he held her back from charging up there.
"ARTHUR WEASLEY LET ME GO !!! " she bellowed.
"Molly we don't know if this has anything to do with them. For all we know they may be in the Gryffindor Common Room drinking hot cocoa right now" he firmly told his struggling wife. He thought he heard the sound of wind rushing and thankfully he saw on broomsticks Percy and Hestia Jones, who was an Auror. Percy landed by his parents and Hestia continued on, flying slowly back and forth over the scene. After about 5 minutes she returned to them and landed.
"Several fights took place here within the last few hours. One took place on the beach involving three people. A second one was near us. Two people one of which was very large. Hagrid maybe? The third one was at the far end of the tomb. The most blood was spilled there. I did find one piece of clothing. Can any of you identify this?"
In Hestia's hand was a piece of a woven garment. Arthur recognized it as one his wife probably made. Molly knew this too, and who it belonged too. There was no mistaking the love and caring put into how well this was made. Her daughter had done this for the boy she loved.
Arthur caught Molly as she fainted. He handed her to Percy who was already astride his broom and he hopped on behind Hestia as they took off. Their first stop was going to be the infirmary. Percy did not fly as fast as he wanted to but it was much quicker than running. The entered through the Main Doors and shot past people who were waving at them wondering what happened. He landed in the Hospital wing and gently laid his Mother in an unoccupied bed. His Father was already there since they could move much quicker. Hestia had left in search of Kingsley.
"I'll see if Poppy is in her Office" Percy told his Father as he ran to the far end. To his surprise Poppy was not there. He thought he heard voices but since he didn't see anyone he believed it must be the echoes from the people in the beds.
"Father she isn't here" he told his anxious Father.
"I believe she left earlier for the day. She took a very powerful sleeping draught too" another healer stated. "I work in St. Mungos. Poppy is my older sister. You can call me Daisy. Our parents didn't have much imagination" she joked. "Now please tell me what happened. Did she fall and hurt herself?"
"No. My wife fainted. Has anyone been brought in say in the last two or three hours?" Arthur wondered.
"Just a couple of students. First years who hid before the fighting started. Are you looking for anyone specific?" she asked.
"No. Well actually our kids Ginny and Ron. Have you seen them?" he asked afraid of the answer.
"Not a Weasley to be seen except for you two" she laughed. "I bet they are hiding out somewhere. A bit of privacy you know" she attempted to joke.
"Please keep an eye on her. I need to look for them" he responded too worried to laugh at her humor. He hastened out to search the entire Castle if necessary.
Daisy felt bad at trying to joke at a time like that. She checked Molly and found her to be near exhaustion so she guessed it would be at least a couple of hours before she awoke. Daisy settled down with a book to read while the remaining patients slept.
* * *
Ron held his hand up indicating for them to wait before following him. He tip toed around the white curtain and then waved for them to come. What they saw was Hermione lying on her back in bed. Her left side was covered with a pink salve from her face to her ankle. Both eyes had swelled shut. "Ron is that you" she whispered.
"Yes sweetheart it is" he replied. He took a glass with a straw and held it to her lips letting her try to sip on it. She took a small amount and asked "Did Kreacher find them?"
"Mistress Granger Kreacher did. All are here for you and Master Harry."
"We are trusting you to do the right thing" Hermione said as her breathing deepened again.
"Sleeping draughts. Poppy doesn't want her moving. Her arm, shoulder and face have broken bones. Her side and leg has bruises so this will help her to recover quicker" Ron told them.
"How long?" was all a shocked Minister could ask.
"Until she gets out? Three days give or take" he replied.
"And what about you Ron? That has to hurt" Neville inquired.
Ron shrugged his shoulders. Yes every part of him hurt but it was nothing compared to the damage Hermione and Harry had suffered. He looked to his sister who nodded. She took a deep breath and walked away.
"Now Ron" he heard her say. Silently they left Hermione's side and traveled around her curtained off area to the opposite side. Nothing in their wildest nightmares could have prepared them for what they saw. Lying in bed facing up was Harry Potter. He appeared to have shrunk in size he had lost so much weight. He still had his blood stained clothing on which was torn and ripped in dozens of places.
"Ginny we need to get his clothes off so I can see better. I can't do much else until we do" Poppy instructed. She was in a large chair positioned alongside him and her face was almost as white as Harry's.
"Poppy you need to eat something" Minerva gently told her friend.
Kreacher snapped his fingers and a table appeared next to the chair filled with sandwiches and glasses. "Please Madam Pomprey so you can help Master Harry better."
Reluctantly she agreed and began to eat. The others refused her invitation to join her mainly because they all lost any appetite they had after seeing Harry. His head had expanded from all the swelling and was now a sickly green. His arms had bruises which looked like handprints. 'Whoever these men were they must be incredibly strong. Probably on par with Charlie Weasley' thought Kingsley.
"Ron can you help me?" Ginny softly asked. She had been kneeling holding Harry's right hand. Ron joined her on the opposite side and said "I'm here for you now mate. We are getting these nasty clothes off you for some nice clean ones." Ron nodded now covered in the same white glow.
Ginny took her wand and traced the top of Harry's pant legs. The material seemed to disintegrate as it disappeared leaving him in his boxers. They were not as bad but his legs had scars from the treatment Voldemort gave him last night. She looked at Poppy who nodded for her to continue.
Ginny touched Harry's neck as gently as she could and slowly slid the wand down. The oval shaped scar became visible, looking like it had partially healed before the scab being torn off. She started to take the wand lower but stopped.
"Ginny what is it?" Poppy asked, wondering why she hesitated. Her hand was trembling and she kept mouthing the word 'no'.
"We have no choice Miss Weasley. Whatever it is Madam Pomprey cannot help Harry unless she knows what is under there."
Reluctantly Ginny continued. She heard the Headmistress' sharp intake of breath as the second scar was revealed. When she got to his boxers she used the wand to pull his shirt open further, showing a larger version of the scar he was famous for. Only this time it was centered over his heart.
"Harry James Potter what did you do?" she whispered. Her hand was trembling holding his. With a flash Fawkes appeared on her shoulder again. He leaned forward letting his tears fall. Eight times they hit the new scar, and each time it sent ripples through the white aura like drops of water hitting a pond. Harry struggled a little as he was doing that, but seemed more relaxed after the last one struck.
Wordlessly their friends left and went back to the table. Pitchers of pumpkin juice and glasses were there. Each wished for something stronger. "Now I need to show you who did this" Hagrid told them as he led them further into the room. Behind another set of curtains they found two tightly bound figures. One had two sets of heavy ropes one red and one brown. The other had black chains.
Kingsley gave a low whistle. "Albus was the only one I knew strong enough to do this. Did someone else help you?"
"No. Ron used his wand and Hermione's on one, and Ginny did the other. Without her wand I might add" Hagrid told them proudly.
"Remind me never to get her mad" Neville commented. Ginny was very powerful. He remembered her at the DA Meetings. The 'Reducto' charm she was exceptionally good at, destroying almost anything put in front of her.
"Minister these men look just like Ginny and Ron. Well I guess if they weren't all beat up" Luna observed.
"Miss Lovegood that is because they are. The one in chains is their brother Bill, and the other is Charlie. Hagrid are you sure it was these two?" Kingsley asked. He was very troubled at this. Both were trusted members of the Order of the Phoenix.
"Absolutely. It was Charlie who Ron fought with and hurt Hermione, and do you see this" he said lifting Bill's head. "This is where Ginny hit him. Poppy cast a spell over them to make them sleep for a while, so don't you worry about them going anywhere. Not for quite a while."
'If this is true the only place they are headed is Azkaban, and that will be for a very long time' thought Minerva.
"Now I understand why they asked for us. Their parents can't be told until we know all the facts. Did they put them up to this? George was really upset with Harry. Did he ask them to do this? Or what about Mr. or Mrs. Weasley? Do they blame Harry for Fred's death? Kingsley who do we trust?" Neville asked. All of them were very confused and hurt to think any others might be involved.
"As an Auror we investigate. The facts will lead us to the truth" Kingsley replied. His head was spinning. Arthur was now the Head of the DMLE. Percy was Kingsley's assistant and soon to be responsible for ferreting out Voldemort's supporters hiding in the Ministry. Are they covert Death Eaters, or is this a Family dispute? Either way assault and attempted murder are serious charges.
"Now you can see how bad this is" they heard Ron say behind them. He and Ginny were standing side by side.
"Will you help us find out the truth?" she asked.
"Let's work out a plan Mistress Ginny" Kreacher responded. He took their hands and led them back to the table.
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