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Harry Potter and the Dementor of Azkaban by holly bergman

Format: Novel
Chapters: 28
Word Count: 74,759
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme, Contains Spoilers

Genres: Romance, Action/Adventure, AU
Characters: Harry, Snape, Tonks, Bellatrix, Voldemort, Draco, George, Ginny, OC
Pairings: Harry/Ginny, Other Pairing

First Published: 12/01/2006
Last Chapter: 05/08/2008
Last Updated: 05/11/2008

Summary:


Brilliant new banner by the talented MissyPadfoot!!! *hands flowers*






**SPOILERS** ...but not compliant with DH. REWRITE OF MY FIRST FIC


Harry's journey draws to a close. Dangers will be faced, loyalties will be questioned, souls will be hunted, new alliances will be made, battles will be fought and the last Dementor of Azkaban will be freed.

When the time of the last Battle comes... who will prevail?


Chapter 1: Three Death Eaters
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A/N: Big thanks to KJ287. You may have quit reading my fic halfway but you sure gave me some useful hints. You Rock! Major thanks to everyone who checked my spelling (especially RemusBlack).

REVIEW MY STORY...I REVIEW YOURS. IF YOU DON'T HAVE A STORY...umm...just review anyway because it will make me happy :-)

Disclaimer: Do I own Harry Potter? *daydreams* No, I don't. *sigh*

For Mum. Warmer than Mrs. Wealsey, more respected than Narcissa and braver than Lily. Not even Joanne could write a character like you.





Three Death Eaters

Three Death Eaters bowed before the dark wizard, Lord Voldemort. It was almost pitch black. The tree towered above them and filtered in no light.

The smallest one among them was a woman with unkempt blonde hair. There were dark circles under her eyes and her once perfect porcelain features were hollow and lined with worry.

The teenage boy next to her was also blonde. His pale, pointed face was ridged with fear and he bore a slight resemblance to the woman. These two Death Eaters were Draco and Narcissa Malfoy.

The third Death Eater looked rather calm, though he had no reason to be. He had just become the second most wanted man in the wizard world. He had murdered Albus Dumbledore. He was Severus Snape.


Voldemort’s attention was not on Snape, even though the former Professor had made his existence a lot easier. Voldemort’s only concern at present was that the Malfoys were all officially in disgrace and two of them were bowed before him.

He stood in silence and scrutinized the pair with scarlet, snake-like eyes, narrowed in anger. When he spoke it was in a whisper, dripping with malice.

“Draco… you failed,” said Voldemort slowly.

Voldemort drew his wand with his long fingered hand and pointed it dangerously close to the pale teenager’s face.

“Do you know what the penalty is for failure?”

It took all Malfoy’s self control not to tremble or shudder. He opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out at first. He took a deep breath and finally managed to choke out an explanation. The truth was that Draco Malfoy was incapable of murder and that he had failed to carry out his master’s orders. Failure was not tolerated amongst Death Eaters.

“S-sorry my Lord,” stammered Malfoy. “It will not happen again.”

Voldemort cast a glare at Narcissa. She unconsciously held her breath when she felt his penetrating gaze upon her. She kept her eyes downcast, not even daring to look at the deformed man…if he could still be called that… she was bowed before.

“Did you tell Severus of the plan?” whispered Voldemort slowly and very dangerously. “I had sworn you to silence and yet…”

Narcissa cowered. She finally worked up the courage to tell the Dark Lord the truth when…

“She did not, my Lord,” said Snape.

Narcissa and Malfoy hid their surprise with difficulty. Not many people lied to Lord Voldemort and lived to tell the tale.

“I was ordered by Dumbledore to stand guard,” Snape. “I saw the Dark Mark and I naturally went to investigate. The boy was unable to carry out his orders due to a confundus charm and I took the necessary action.”

A flash in Voldemort’s eye told Snape that he though the excuse unsatisfactory. The Dark Lord turned to Malfoy, radiating fury.

“It was not a confundus charm, it was cowardice!” Voldemort roared, as he turned his wand on Malfoy.

A cruciatus curse shot from his wand. Without even thinking, Narcissa shoved her son violently out of the way and the spell hit her instead. She crumbled and screamed. Malfoy struggled back to his knees.

“Stop it!” he shouted. “My Lord the fault is mine! I-”

Snape, realising how dangerously close Malfoy was to getting himself killed, cut him off before he could finish his plea.

“My Lord it was a confundus charm!” cried Snape over Narcissa and Draco’s yells. “I know Dumbledore’s magic!”

Voldemort wrenched his wand to release Narcissa and Draco scrambled over to his mother. Snape gave an involuntary sigh of relief. Malfoy winced as he felt the cold tip of Voldemort’s wand at his throat.

“I’m giving you one chance Draco,” said Voldemort over the whimpers of Narcissa. “You will perform this task or your excuse family will cease to exist. Bring me Harry Potter.”

Malfoy nodded quickly, trying to catch his breath. Voldemort gave Malfoy a revolted look and averted his eyes towards the distance. He spotted something in the distance.

“Lucius…" he said, in his low hiss of a voice, "you finally decided to grace us with your presence.”

As Lucius bowed low to Voldemort, his cast a glance at his stricken wife and child. It was a very cold look of disdain that was amplified by his new features. Azkaban had taken its toll on Lucius. There may be no more dementors inside its walls but Azkaban could still break a man. It just took longer. His face, one previous of a shrewd man, was now blank and gaunt. He didn’t seem capable of fear any longer.

“My Lord,” he said. “Bellatrix told me that you wished to address me?”

Voldemort observed Lucius with interest.

“I see the walls of Azkaban couldn’t keep you from your cause,” he said. “I am however…disappointed in you again. You and your family.”

Voldemort gestured towards Narcissa and Draco with a flick of his wand.

“Your son failed to kill Dumbledore and your wife tried, at her cost, to stop me punishing him. What do you have to say?”

Lucius’ eyes caught Nacisssa’s. She gave him a pleading look as she trembled on the ground. Lucius looked away from her angrily.

“They are no family of mine.” Lucius snarled savagely.

The effect of this simple statement was shattering. Narcissa choked out a sob but Draco didn’t respond. He wasn’t surprised. The person, who showed the most emotion upon hearing Lucius’ words very uncharacteristically, was Snape.

“I think you need to be reminded,” said Snape, barely veiling the anger in his voice, “that you too failed the Dark Lord when you failed to obtain the prophecy. Maybe if you were a better father, you son would have completed the task better than you could have.”

“Speaking of failure,” sneered Lucius, who evidently had not lost his ability to scheme in Azkaban, “The Carrows told me quite an interesting tale. I am curious as to how…or why… you managed to let Potter escape again even though you had him wandless.”

Snape silently cursed himself for falling into Lucius trap. Lucius had baited him and he fell for it. The odious man was probably itching for a reason to discredit Snape in front of Voldemort ever since he had escaped. Voldemort was far from pleased.

“The hippogriff may have had something to do with it,” snapped Snape at Lucius.

“I don’t care for your excuses Severus,” said Voldemort loudly.

“There’s only one reason behind Potter’s miraculous escapes,” said Lucius. “Snape lets him go.”

Snape glared at Lucius.

“I detest that insufferable boy,” hissed Snape. “Your accusations-”

“I suppose you did it because he had the Mudblood’s…Lily’s eyes?”

Voldemort frowned. Malfoy tried and failed not to gape at Snape.

Potter’s mother?

A flash of rage showed in Snape’s face but then...

“That is your master theory?” he sneered. “James Potter’s wife…and me? Rita Skeeter couldn’t have thought of better.”

Voldemort was getting frustrated with Snape and Lucius and their petty bickering.

“That’s enough,” snarled Voldemort. “Severus, I have a matter to address with Lucius. Leave us.”

Snape bowed a little lower and got to his feet but not before he gave Lucius a look that scorched. Voldemort flicked his wand. Draco was slowly pulled to his feet scruff of his robes.

“Take your fool of a mother and get out of my sight,” he said harshly. “I am not done with you.”

Draco managed a shaky and helped his mother get up. Together, Snape and Malfoy led her out of the woods.
*

The Riddle House still stood on its hill, abandoned, dilapidated and overlooking Little Hangleton. The mysterious owner of the house still kept it for ‘tax reasons’ but no one ever set foot in it, except the police, after what had happened.

After Frank Bryce had been found dead there, just like the Riddles, the house had been searched over and over again by the police. They found nothing. The people of Little Hangleton did not think it was coincidence that four people had just… died in that house. Nobody went there anymore. Boys did not throw stones at the window like they did three years ago, nobody entered it for a dare and nobody tended the garden, which became so wild that the house could barely be seen.

More importantly, nobody noticed three strangers, two of them supporting the other, entering the house.

Snape helped Narcissa into a moth-eaten chair. Malfoy was standing some distance from them shooting down flies with his wand. He was trying to keep his face emotionless but he was failing. Snape grimaced when he turned to the angry teenager.

“Draco I need to speak with your mother,” said Snape.

“About me?” Draco muttered bitterly, shooting down another fly.

“About your safety and I think it would be wise if you went upstairs."

Malfoy hesitated before nodding reluctantly. The moment Narcissa thought her son was out was out of earshot, she shouted at Snape.

“You did not know!” Narcissa cried. “You said the Dark Lord told you of the plan!”

“I wanted to protect Draco,” said Snape quietly. “Your sister would not have allowed it if I had not been in on the plan. I still want to protect him but I need your help.”

Narcissa looked at Snape, determined. Her anger had faded and her unbreakable desire to protect her son was clear in her eyes

“I’ll do anything,” she breathed softly.

Snape paused as if trying to decide something. When he spoke, there was a hint of hesitation in his voice.

“Narcissa…if you turned yourselves in to the Order of the Phoenix-”

Narcissa gasped and stood up.

“I-I can’t,” she spluttered. “The D-Dark Lord…”

“Narcissa, don’t be a fool,” said Snape anxiously. “Draco is safer with the Order. Do you honestly think that all muggle-borns and half-bloods are scum? Do you want Potter to fail?”

“You are asking me to betray the Dark Lord!” Narcissa cried while avoiding Snape’s eyes. “How can I do such a thing?”

“Because you love you son more than you are devoted to the Dark Lord and his…ridiculous ideas about pure-bloods.”

Narcissa bit her lip. She had been taught since she was little that to be pure was to be superior but Draco had just been rescued by a half-blood wizard. Maybe...maybe she was wrong but the look Lucius gave her made her shiver inside.

“What about Lucius? He would never agree to come!”

“Narcissa you heard him!” Snape cried in frustration. “He chose the Dark Lord over Draco. He does not care!”

“Yes he does!” screamed Narcissa.

Narcissa buried her face in her hands and let out a sob. Snape seized her by the shoulders. He gazed into her clear blue eyes and she slowly looked up into his.

“The Dark Lord will not allow Draco to live if he fails again! Lucius will not stand up for Draco. You know it to be true.”

Narcissa covered her mouth with her hands and nodded. Snape let go of her shoulders. When she composed herself she talked again.

“What about you? You lied to the Dark Lord. You will not get off without punishment.”

For a very brief moment, Snape looked surprised. He quickly rearranged his features into a grimace.

“Let us hope that my Occlumency is up to the challenge. Tell Draco of the plan and leave in the morning. Riddle House will not be safe forever.”

Snape headed for the door and stopped half-way.

“Narcissa?”

Narcissa turned to face Snape, jaw clenched.

“You will find that the muggle-borns and half-bloods are not nearly as bad as the Dark Lord makes out. Seek out your sister, Andromeda. She will help.”

“Severus?” Narcissa called as Snape turned to leave.

Snape turned to face Narcissa again. There were tears streaming down her face.

“If...if you are really with the Order of the Phoenix then...I'm truly sorry I made you do it,” she whispered tentatively.

Snape's face hardened for a moment.

“There is certainly no need to apologise Narcissa,” he said quietly. “Mothers have been known to do worse for their sons.”

Narcissa had a shrewd idea who Snape was talking about but she did not voice her thoughts. She merely smiled weakly and whispered two words.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” said Snape before vanishing into the night.

*


Malfoy, in typical Slytherin fashion, had been listening to the entire conversation. His favourite teacher and mentor had just turned out to be a half-blood and a blood traitor. The look on his father’s face burned into mind and made his blood boil. The look that Voldemort had given his mother chilled him to the bone. The look on Dumbledore's face when he offered him a second chance...a life without the Dark Lord...gave him a feeling that he was not really familiar with. He’d rather drink poison than admit it ...but Draco Malfoy felt hopeful for the first time in his life. Maybe now was the time to re-evaluate his position on the war.

“S’pose I owe Granger an apology,” he muttered to himself.

Chapter 2: A Revelation from Petunia
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Author’s Note: Petunia was totally OOC when I first wrote this. Can you guys tell me if I’ve done an alright job with her this time? She’s still slightly OOC but that’s part of the story.




A Revelation From Petunia


The ride to platform nine and three quarters had hardly been enjoyable for Harry Potter. Harry could barely see anything outside because of the dense fog that clung onto the window. Neither Ron Weasley nor Hermione Granger, Harry’s best friends, could think of something to say that did not involve death, misery or torture.

To complicate matters a certain, red-haired somebody was also in the same compartment.

Harry continued to stare out of the window, determinedly not looking at Ginny Wealsey. Ron looked from his sister to his best friend. He knew there was something wrong. For one, Harry and Ginny had been a little too close for his liking a day ago and for another; there was no reason at all for Harry to be looking outside since nobody could see anything. Harry and Ginny were sitting at opposite corners of the compartment, as far away as possible. Ron cast a glance at Hermione. She ran a hand through her bushy, brown hair and bit her lip.

“Umm…” she mumbled. “Does anyone…want to…play chess?"

“No,” said Ginny taking a deep breath.

Harry shook his head and did not look at Hermione. Ron decided to try his luck at getting Harry and Ginny to talk.

“Did anyone read about the last Tornado and Canons match?” he asked, feigning curiosity (the Canons had not won in years). “What was the score?”

Harry winced.

“The Canons forfeited,” said Ginny quietly. “Their seeker was attacked by a dementor during the match.”

She looked at Harry when she said this but he would not look at her. Ron’s mouth fell open in horror. Hermione covered her mouth with her hand.

“Merlin!” cried Ron. “Is he alright?”

Ginny shook her head but she did not elaborate. Ron and Hermione did not try and start a conversation again for another ten minutes.

“Do you want to play exploding Snape?” asked Ron.

Ginny frowned.

“You mean exploding snap, right?” she asked.

“I wouldn’t mind playing,” said Harry with a forced smile.

Hermione glared at Harry and he shrugged. Ron looked confused.

“What did I say?” he asked.

“Exploding Snape,” muttered Ginny.

This time, Ron winced.

“Sorry…” he murmured apologetically.

There was silence in the compartment again. Hermione was beginning to get annoyed with Harry and Ginny. Harry knew she was but he just didn’t feel like doing anything at the moment.

“Do you want to…play hangman?” asked Hermione with a hint of exasperation.

“No,” said Ginny.

“Knots and Crosses?”

“No,” said Harry, his eyes fixed on the white sea of fog outside.

“Truth or dare?”

“No!” cried Ron.

Harry, Ginny and Hermione looked at him in surprise. Hermione also looked a little angry.

“I don’t like that game,” he muttered, avoiding their eyes.

“This wouldn't have anything to do with Lavender now, would it?” asked Hermione with deceptive calmness.

“Don’t you two start!” snapped Ginny angrily, making Ron and Hermione jump. “Can you two stop barking at each other for once? We all have enough to deal with without you two having a go at each other all the time!”

“Thanks Ginny,” said Harry.

“And you can shut up too!” she snarled at Harry.

Ron and Hermione looked at Ginny in alarm. Her cheeks were bright red and she was glaring in Harry’s direction. Harry didn’t move.

“Can you at least give me the courtesy of looking at me?” shouted Ginny angrily.

Harry swallowed but he still didn’t turn around. Ron and Hermione didn’t like the sudden turn of events.

“Ginny, calm down!” cried Hermione.

Ginny ignored Hermione, her attention only on Harry. Harry almost felt Ginny’s glare burning the back of his neck. He couldn’t bring himself to turn around. Harry didn’t want to lose his resolve and he knew he would if he looked at Ginny. He couldn’t be involved with her any longer because there was no chance that he would be able to face Voldemort if something happened to her. The seconds past and he did not move.

“Fine,” whispered Ginny.

The silence in the compartment was not broken again until they arrived at their destination. The fog began to lift slightly and the vague outline of platform nine and three quarters came into view. Ginny got to her feet as quickly as she could and began to lift her trunk. Harry got to his feet and went to his own.

“Harry,” said Hermione quietly. “We’re still coming to your Aunt and Uncle’s place, aren’t we?”

Harry groaned. Harry had completely forgotten about telling the Dursleys. He could just imagine the vein in Uncle Vernon’s temple throbbing furiously when he arrived at the Dursley's doorstep.

“No,” he moaned. “They don’t even know I’m coming early."

Ginny slammed her trunk on the compartment floor and made them all jump.

“They’re going to the Dursleys with you?” said Ginny, her voice shaking.

Harry hesitated before nodding his head slightly. Ginny glared at him again but this time there was a trace of sadness amongst all the anger.

“What happened to saving your friends? Going it alone?” she asked.

“Ginny-”

“Forget it, Potter.”

Ginny seized her trunk and hauled it out of the compartment. The compartment door slammed. Harry, Ron and Hermione heard Arnold the Pygmy Pufff whimpering as she strode off the train. Ron and Hermione stopped Harry before he could follow her.

“What was that all about?” asked Hermione.

“Harry,” growled Ron. “You’re my best mate…but she’s my sister. What hell did you do?”

“Just leave it, alright?” shouted Harry.

Harry shoved past Ron and dragged his trunk off the train. He wasn’t handling his things very carefully. Hedwig hooted angrily at him when the cage almost fell of the trunk.

“Now you’re angry with me,” snarled Harry, adjusting her cage.

Hedwig hooted and ruffled her feathers as though shrugging. Harry shivered when he stepped out into the fog. Ahead of him were the outlines three very familiar people. Molly Weasley hurried up to him and pulled him into a warm hug. Arthur Weasley and Remus Lupin came up behind her.

“Oh Harry…” said Mrs. Weasley. “I wouldn’t have dreamed of sending you all to Hogwarts if I knew that this would happen.”

“How was your trip, Harry?” asked Mr. Weasley.

Harry caught sight of Ginny who was standing behind Mr. Weasley and determinedly not looking at him.

“Fine,” lied Harry.

Ron and Hermione came up behind Harry. Ron was looking very annoyed but the look on his face faded when Mrs. Weasley hugged him and Hermione. Harry turned to look at Lupin. Somehow his old Professor seemed a little less old and weary. He gave Harry a small smile and nodded.

“Arthur and I are going to drop you off at your Aunt and Uncle’s house,” he said.

Hermione took a breath and steeled herself before speaking.

“Ron and I are going to stay at the Dursleys’ too,” she said.

Mr. and Mrs. Weasley’s jaws dropped. Neither of them thought they’d live to see the day someone actually elected to stay at the Dursleys’ on their own free will. Lupin frowned. Harry glanced Ginny.

“Ron, Hermione…I think I should go alone.”

Ron and Hermione turned to look at him in surprise.

"But Harry-" began Ron.

“Maybe after…they cooled down a bit,” said Harry who wasn’t really talking about the Dursleys at all.

Ginny growled something under her breath. The three adults seemed to notice the elevated hostility coming from Ginny. Lupin looked thoughtfully at Harry.

“Alright,” he said. “Harry, you’re coming with Arthur and I.”

“Umm…” said Hermione. “My parents thought I was staying at the Dursleys and-”

“You can go with Molly and write to them about the change of plans,” said Lupin.
Hermione nodded. The look in her eye told Harry that she was clearly going to be investigating Ginny’s anger towards him. Harry waved half-heartedly at his friends and followed Mr. Wealsey and Lupin to the car park.

*


Mr. Weasley’s new car turned out to be another thoroughly second-hand Ford Anglia. This time, the paint was bright red. Harry had to admit that it was in better condition than his last car, which was now running wild in the Forbidden Forest. Mr. Weasley gave it a fond pat before starting the engine. The car groaned and complained slightly but began to run smoothly as Mr. Weasley drove out of the car park. Lupin sat at the back with Harry. After driving through the foggy streets of London for a few minutes they encountered a set of traffic lights. Mr. Weasley, naturally, found them quite remarkable.

“They change colour without magic!” he cried, stopping a bit too early and causing the driver behind him to use some rather colourful language in a manor that would have made Uncle Vernon proud.

While they were stopped, Lupin turned to face Harry.

“How are you?” he asked quietly.

“I’ve been better,” replied Harry grimly, shuffling in his seat.

Lupin ran his fingers through his greying hair and looked sadly at Harry.

“I really must ask you this Harry. What happened on the Astronomy Tower?”

“I told you!” Harry hissed angrily, quite sick of retelling such a painful tale. “Snape murdered Dumbledore!”

“Harry…we all believe you but…we need to know the specifics,” said Lupin. “I know it’s hard but it may help us track down Snape.”

That was an incentive enough for Harry. He remembered everything that happened as if it had happened a minute ago. The entire event played over and over in his mind. Harry looked at Lupin and told him what happened. Not the whole truth but the part that mattered, the part where Harry lost his mentor and protector.

“Dumbledore told me to meet him up there. He was about to tell me something important when Malfoy burst in and disarmed him. Before he was disarmed Dumbledore made me invisible and immobilised me. He tried to convince Malfoy to lower his wand. He did, for a second. Dumbledore knew Malfoy couldn’t do it but then Snape came in. Dumbledore begged him not to do it but he didn’t listen. That’s what happened.”

Lupin didn’t speak for a while and then he nodded.

“Thank you Harry,” he said quietly. “Arthur?”

Mr. Weasley, who had been staring at the traffic lights with fascination, cried out in delight when they changed colour again. He suddenly realised that Lupin was talking to him and spoke up.

“We’ll be there in a few minutes,” he said while casting a look of admiration at the traffic lights in the rear view mirror.

*


“Hello Uncle Vernon,” said Harry nervously.

Uncle Vernon stood frozen in the doorway. Harry appearing on his doorstep weeks before he was supposed to was far too much of a shock for him.

“What is the meaning of this Potter?” cried Uncle Vernon, his vein throbbing as per usual.

“There was an incident at Harry’s school-” began Mr. Weasley.

Uncle Vernon cut him off before he could finish.

“If he’s in trouble then you deal with it!” bellowed Uncle Vernon. “First your lot threaten me, then that stupid old man threatens me and now…”

Vernon faltered because all three wizards in the doorway looked nothing short of homicidal. Mr. Weasley had turned scarlet. Harry had never seen Lupin this angry before but he really could not care less. If Lupin hadn’t put a restraining hand on his shoulder he did not know what he would have done.

“Albus Dumbledore was a million times the man you are,” snarled Lupin.

“You’re not doing the situation justice Remus,” growled Mr. Weasley.

Uncle Vernon had just summoned the courage to retort when he caught sight of Aunt Petunia’s potted plants. They were right next to Harry and dying in an accelerated rate. He cast a nervous glance at his nephew.

“Don’t ever insult Professor Dumbledore again,” hissed Harry.

“Mmph…” was all the reply that he got.

Harry calmed down slightly but he was still furious with his Uncle.

“You only have to put up with me until the 31st of July,” he said shakily.

“Why-”

“Because it’s my birthday and after my birthday I can leave Privet Drive forever,” said Harry.

Uncle Vernon frowned.

“By forever you mean-”

“You’ll never see me again,” said Harry.

Before Uncle Vernon could start dancing the Congo, a horse faced woman with a long neck walked up to the entrance hall wearing a checked, green apron and a pair of matching mittens.

“Harry!” cried Aunt Petunia. “What are you doing here?”

Such a warm reception, thought Harry glumly. What did you expect?

“There was a murder at the school,” he said. “It’s closed down for now.”

“Closed down?” cried Uncle Vernon with glee. “No where for you freaks to go then?”

“Shut up!” shouted Mr. Weasley and Lupin at the same time.

Uncle Vernon complied quickly. Aunt Petunia ignored the two other wizards. Her beady eyes were glaring in Harry direction.

Why is everyone glaring at me?

“This is why I didn’t want you to go to that freak school!” snapped Aunt Petunia. “All those…people in one place. Something is bond to go wrong!”

“Yeah?” snarled Harry, his temper flaring again. “Well, it’s not my fault Dumbledore trusted Snape!”

Aunt Petunia opened her mouth to say something but she closed it and frowned at Harry.

“You can’t possibly mean Severus Snape,” said Aunt Petunia flatly.

Mr. Weasley and Lupin stopped giving Uncle Vernon death stares and stared at Aunt Petunia. Mr. Weasley was gapping shamelessly. Harry had a similar expression on his face.

“How in Merlin’s name do you know Snape?” he cried.

Aunt Petunia looked rather flustered.

“Well…I…through her…”

“My mother?” muttered Harry, who was quite sick of Aunt Petunia referring to his mother as her.

Lupin shuffled uncomfortably.

“They were friends,” he muttered.

Harry slowly turned to look at his old teacher.

“Care to explain?” he grimaced.

Harry had never seen Lupin nervous and reluctant before.

“I suppose… mutual dislike of James and… they were both good at potions… and… after the… incident at the Lake… I imagine Snape apologized for calling her a mudblood...they became… friends.”

Harry about to demand more information from Lupin with Aunt Petunia spoke up.

“Get inside boy,” said Petunia sharply. “I don’t have all day.”

“We’ll talk later Harry,” said Lupin.

Harry nodded reluctantly and headed inside.

*


“Petunia,” said Uncle Vernon, closing the door behind him. “What were they talking about and why do you know this maniac wiz- murderer?”

“He was a friend of my sister,” snapped Petunia.

Seeing Petunia angry with her husband was another thing Harry had never seen before. It amused him to see that Uncle Vernon seemed rather nervous.

“Aunt Petunia?” said Harry. “Was Snape the one who told mum about the dementors?”

Aunt Petunia gave him a look that scorched.

“Don’t ask questions!” said Petunia angrily. “Just put that trunk of yours upstairs.”

Harry shrugged and began to haul the heavy truck upstairs.

“Hurry up boy,” snapped Petunia. “I’m making dinner.”

With that, she stormed back to the kitchen. Uncle Vernon glared at Harry as though it was his fault Petunia was so cross and followed her into the kitchen.

Stop glaring at me, will you? growled Harry inwardly.

Before Harry was half way up the stairs, the front door banged open. In the doorway was a heavily built boy about a foot taller than Harry was. Dudley Dursley screamed loudly when he saw Harry.

“W-What is…he…what is…what…is…he doing…here…?”

“Nice to see you too Dudley,” said Harry sarcastically.

Aunt Petunia gave him another glare. Harry shrugged and continued to haul his trunk upstairs.

“Now come inside Popkin,” cooed Aunt Petunia. “School ended early for Harry.”

Dudley shuffled inside, keeping his eye on Harry. He had bulked up quite a bit since Harry had last seen him but Harry observed with some satisfaction, he could still terrify him.

*


Life at the Dursleys was normal after that incredibly odd first day. The rest of the Durlseys ignored Harry and that suited him fine. He felt lonely without Ron and Hermione at his side. Harry had decided that inviting them to the Dursleys was a bad idea. Aunt Petunia snapped at everyone at every possible moment and she had been arguing with Uncle Vernon almost non-stop since he arrived. That wasn’t the only issue preventing him from asking Ron and Hermione over.

Ginny’s face continuously appeared in his mind like a reoccurring nightmare. The look of betrayal on her face was stuck in his mind.

His last day at the Dursleys was drawing to a close. Ron was coming to pick him up. Harry lay on his bed and toyed with the idea of writing an apology to Ginny but couldn’t think of what to write. Why did he want Ron and Hermione to help him and not Ginny?

You don’t want any help, said a small voice in his head. You need to do this alone.

Completely alone? But Ron and Hermione have always been with him…

And they’ve nearly died. Ron was nearly killed by an over grown chess piece and Devil’s Snare. You took Ron into the Chamber of Secrets. A dementor would have kissed Hermione if you had died. They were both nearly killed in the Department of Mysteries and when Hogwarts was attacked…

Did he want them on his side?

Harry was interrupted from his thoughts by a knock at the door.

“Come in!” he called, sitting up.

Aunt Petunia walked inside. In her hands was a dusty old shoe box that usually would have made Aunt Petunia cringe. Despite this, Aunt Petunia held the box without showing any sign that the dirt was bothering her. Her eyes fell on Harry’s bare room and packed things but she said nothing about it.

“My sis…I mean, your mother wanted you to have that when you came of age,” she said roughly. “You people become adults at when you’re seventeen, right?”

Harry nodded. Aunt Petunia shoved the box into Harry’s hands. She turned to leave but stopped in the doorway.

“She gave it to me before she went into hiding. Just…just in case.”

“I thought you didn’t talk to my mother,” said Harry quietly.

“Don’t ask-”

“That wasn’t a question,” muttered Harry.

Aunt Petunia seemed angrier than usual.

“I wouldn’t even need to give you that stupid box if she had stayed at home instead of running off to that school,” snarled Petunia. “She would still me here annoying me if she didn’t run off with Potter.”

The reason for Aunt Petunia’s bitterness toward Lily became apparent. Harry didn’t know what to say because, things being the way it was, he almost agreed with her.

“Thanks for this Aunt Petunia.”


Harry opened the dusty box. Inside were an old newspaper and a stack of photographs. The photographs were all of Lily, James and there was even the occasional on with Aunt Petunia. It was hard to tell because the Petunia in the photographs was flatly refusing to be seen. On the newspaper was a picture of a dancing couple under the heading Aurors Get Married. He’d recognise those two people anywhere.

Lily and James didn’t have a care in the world. They had eyes for only each other and were waltzing in front a crowd of people including Lupin and Sirius.

Aunt Petunia looked over Harry’s shoulder at the newspaper. At first she looked alarmed at the moving pictures, but then she realised that the picture wasn’t going to kill her.

“How those two could look so happy in that freak place I’ll never know,” she said indifferently.

“I suppose if you have someone with you it doesn’t seem so bad,” replied Harry.

Petunia’s mouth twitched but she made no other response. Taking the paper from Harry, she looked at the photograph again and glanced at her nephew.

“You’ve got her eyes, you know that?” said Aunt Petunia

Harry quickly replaced his look of shock with a smirk.

“Took you long enough,” he said

Petunia hit Harry lightly on the arm with the paper but there was a faint…very faint smile on her face.

*


When Harry came downstairs half an hour later, Aunt Petunia was cleaning the kitchen. She was were a pair of rubber gloves and scrubbing the kitchen counter.

“You’re leaving?” she asked quietly, not looking at him.

Harry nodded.

“Ron is coming to pick me up…by car,” added Harry at the look on Petunia’s face.

Petunia began scrubbing the bench a little harder than what was necessary and she did not reply.

“Goodbye Aunt Petunia,” said Harry quietly.

Aunt Petunia hesitated before nodding her head in acknowledgement. Harry nodded back and headed to the front door.

“Boy!”

Aunt Petunia came rushing out of the kitchen. Harry turned around and looked at her questioningly.

“Come and visit sometime,” said Petunia.

Harry gaped at his Aunt. Petunia seemed to have just released what she had said.

“But dress normally!” she said quickly. “I don’t want the neighbours-”

Harry almost laughed.

“Okay Aunt Petunia,” said Harry, trying to conceal a grin.

Some things never change but Harry could live with that. Still grinning, he went outside to meet the Weasleys, surprisingly optimistic that this birthday would be much better than usual.


Chapter 3: Recruiting Katherine
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Author’s Note: *growl* I know the formating is demented but I'll fix it up later. This chapter is a little rushed and I'll fix that up too...




Recruiting Katherine


“Hey mate,” said Ron a little oddly. “Happy Birthday. I’ve got your presents at home.”

“Hullo Ron,” said Harry with a heavy sigh as he sat in the Ford Anglia.

“Happy Birthday Harry,” said Mr. Weasley, who was driving. “Hope it wasn’t too horrible there."

Harry opened his mouth and closed it, unsure how to answer.

“It wasn’t bad at all actually,” said Harry finally, thinking that it felt quite nice to say that after leaving the Dursleys. “Are we going to Grimmauld Place?”

Mr. Weasley’s face fell as he turned the corner and drove along the freeway.

“No, we’re going to the Burrow. You’re house has to be avoided until Flitwick can fix the Fidelius Charm. Professor Dumbledore was the secret keeper …we’re not sure if it will continue to operate or not.”

Mr. Weasley said no more of the Order. He went around a roundabout a few times, voicing his opinions about how muggles were brilliant. Harry and Ron didn’t say anything to each other and Harry had a feeling that Ron was angry at him. Soon, the muggle houses and bustling cities were replaced by farmland. After an hour, they reached the Burrow. Harry was delighted to see that, with all the extra money the Weasleys were getting, they had built an extension on there already lopsided house, which made it look quite grand in a Leaning Tower of Pisa sort of way. Mrs. Weasley came running from the house and threw her arms around him.

“Oh, Happy Birthday Harry! Seventeen…finally of age…I’m so proud…”

“Let him open his presents Mum,” said Ron.

After on last hug, Mrs. Weasley let Harry walk into the house. The smell of Mrs. Weasley’s cooking wafted towards them and Harry felt his stomach growl. Mrs. Weasley continued to speak animatedly.

“Hermione’s here. She’ll be so happy to see you. Ginny’s upstairs in her room. Don’t know what’s got into her…she’s a bit quiet.”

Harry’s stomach gave a guilty lurch. Ron was suddenly looking very sour. 

“Now, I’m going to finish making dinner,” said Mrs. Weasley. “I’m making something special for your birthday.”

Harry’s appetite had evaporated. Ron was glaring at him angrily.

“Cummon,” he said gruffly.

Harry and Ron climbed the stairs to Fred and George’s old bedroom. Mrs. Weasley had not removed any of the boxes full of tricks and jokes. It was either because she missed the troublesome duo or because she was afriad on of them might explode.

“Harry! Happy Birthday!”

Someone with rather bushy hair ran up to Harry and threw her arms around him.

“‘lo Hermione,” said Harry with a bemused smile.

“Ooh…just let me get your present!”

Hermione raced downstairs leaving Harry and Ron alone. Ron couldn’t contain himself any longer.

“What did you do?” asked Ron suddenly.

“I-What?”

Harry racked his brain, trying to figure out why Ron was so cross with him.

“Ginny,” snarled Ron. “What did you say to her? She’s absolutely miserable! She’s been crying all over the place!”

Harry’s heart sank. He tried to explain to Ron but he couldn’t find the words. ‘I don’t want Ginny to die’ might be a bit harsh.

“Well…I thought…because I was…looking for the Horcruxes…”

“What does that have to do with anything?” demanded Ron. “I do not want....Cho Chang for a sister!”

Harry felt his own face reddening. Didn’t they get it? How hard was it to understand? Surely by now someone would have noticed that the people that Harry tended to get close to ended up dead…

“Look, do you want Voldemort after your sister?” he growled.  “If he knows about us then what do you think he would do to her? Do you want her to end up like-” Harry stopped but Ron knew what he was going to say.

“Like Sirius, Dumbledore and your parents?” asked Ron, his anger fading.

Harry dragged his things into Fred and George’s old room. He put Hedwig’s cage on the desk a little too forcefully and she hooted angrily at him for the second time in so many days.

“You forgot Cedric Diggory,” he snarled.

Ron bit his lip.

“Harry, I see what you’re getting at…but Ginny…she doesn’t care about-”

Before Ron could finish his sentence, Hermione ran into the room holding a stack of presents. Ron seemed to have lost his nerve and retreated back to his room. Hermione began throwing the presents into Harry’s arms.

“These are from Fred and George and this is from Tonks…”

Harry didn’t hear anything Hermione was saying. It felt amazing to him that he thought that this birthday was going to be better than the others. His heart sank even further when Ginny’s bedroom door opened. The moment she caught sight of Harry, Ginny went back inside and slammed the door. Hermione winced, forced the rest of the presents back into Harry hands and left. Harry picked up a plain blue card. The writing on the inside was very familiar.

I decided not to give you another singing card this year. The Death Eaters might hear it. 

 Happy Birthday.


Harry slowly put the card down and looked up at the door Ginny had just slammed.

“I’m sorry,” he shouted at the door.

When there was no reply, he returned to the room he was staying in and slammed his own door.

*


A rush of ‘Happy Birthday’ flooded Harry as he entered the kitchen. Half the Order had come to the Burrow. Mrs. Weasley had placed an extending charm on her dining table and they all sat around comfortably. Ginny nodded to him and he nodded back. Ron and Hermione sat on either side of her and looked rather uncomfortable.

“Happy Birthday Harry,” said Lupin.

Harry forced a smile and sat next to his old Professor.

“Thanks Professor,” said Harry.

Lupin gave him a pat on the shoulder.

“Tonks wanted to wish you for your Birthday,” said Lupin, “but she’s on business for the Order.”

Curiosity overcame Harry’s melancholy mood.

“What business?” asked Harry.

“Nice try, Harry,” said Lupin with a grin. “Did you think I’d fall for that one?”

“No, but it was worth a try.”

Lupin’s smile faltered a little. He pulled something out of his pocket.

“Harry…Sirius wanted you to have this when you turned of age…”

Harry’s mouth opened as he took the envelope in Lupin’s hand. He opened it with shaking fingers.

Hey Harry,

I know you’re not exactly related to me (and I’d be really concerned if you actually wanted Bellatrix for a cousin) but you’re as good as my son. 

I know I haven’t been much of a Godfather. I should’ve stayed with you instead of running after Peter. I realize that now and I’m sorry. If I didn’t go after him, I wouldn’t be a fugitive now and you wouldn’t be staying with your own Merlin awful relatives. (Hey, maybe Bellatrix isn’t so bad after all…sorry, bad joke.)

On my seventeenth birthday, your father and I polished off an entire bottle of fire whiskey and Molly will murder me if I even think about giving you a gift like that. 


"Too right she will," growled Mrs. Weasley.

...Instead, I’m giving you a gift that will last a little longer and won’t result in a hangover. I have some words of very little wisdom but I hope they mean a lot all the same. I spent a while thinking about this. I had a lot of time on my hands so I wrote this a few years ago. Hey, I had to do something other than listen to my mother going on!

So here is my advice…

You are a man now. You are the head of this noble house. I know you will make me proud…just get into a little mischief while you’re at it.

From your Godfather,

Sirius


Harry tipped the envelope and in his palm were two rings. His parent’s wedding rings. Harry swallowed and put the rings in his pocket along with the locket he had found in the cave with Dumbledore.

“Thanks Professor,” said Harry again, his voice unsteady.

“You okay Harry?” asked Hermione.

“Yeah,” he said.

“Well, dig in everyone!” said Mrs. Weasley.

Harry forced another smile and helped himself to the rather tasty looking roast beef. Little was said during dinner. Harry felt a little better after eating the wonderful meal Mrs. Weasley had prepared. When everyone had eaten their fill, Mrs. Weasley got to her feet.

“Cake!” she said happily.

With a flick of her wand, a cake in the shape of a snitch appeared on the middle of the table. It was considerably larger than a snitch.

“This is wonderful,” said Harry, who could help grinning now.

“Isn’t it?” said Mrs. Weasley. “Ginny made it all by herself.”

The grin vanished. Ginny shuffled uncomfortably. 

“Thanks…Ginny,” said Harry. “This cake is really-”

“You didn’t think I’d just give you a card, did you?” she said so only he could hear.

The Order sang Happy Birthday (with Moody and Mundungnus slightly out of key) and Harry cut the cake. Harry could barely hear the Order singing. The cake tasted dry in his mouth even though it was actually very tasty.

“The cake was wonderful Ginny,” said Lupin with a smile.

She shrugged.

“I’m not responsible for any food poisoning,” she said with a little laugh. “You eat at your own risk.”

McGonagall gave her a stern look but she couldn’t hide a slight smile.

“Off to bed you lot,” said Mr. Weasley heartily. 

Mrs. Weasley cleared up with another flick of her wand. Feeling rather tired, Harry was the last out of the kitchen. As he turned the corner to walk upstairs, Harry saw the Weasley twins crouched by the doorframe with a small box of extendable ears. Harry frowned at the twins. They were supposed to have flooed themself back to London by now.

“What-”

“They’re having a meeting,” said Fred, adjusting the ear.

Harry’s frown deepened. 

“Aren’t you two old enough to join the Order?”

“Old McGonagall thinks we lack the…what did she say Fred?”

Fred sucked in his lips and sat up straight in a very good impersonation of McGonagall.

“You lack the maturity required for a member of the Order,” said Fred, putting on a Scottish accent and wagging his finger at George.

Harry grimaced.

“Where does she get that idea?” he asked.

“No idea,” said the twins in unison. 

“You listening or what?” asked George, handing Harry an extendable ear.

“Of course I am,” said Harry, putting the ear in his own.

“…the fact remains, we need a spy in Voldemort’s circle,” came McGonagall’s voice. “Without Snape, it’s like playing chess in the dark.”

Harry’s blood turned cold at the mention of Snape. Lupin sighed in exasperation.

“Minerva, we no longer have Snape on our side. There’s nothing-”

“There is a girl in the employ of the Ministry,” said McGonagall with a hint of uncertainty.

“A girl?” asked Moody. “How can a girl…” 

Moody trailed off. McGonagall took a breath before speaking.

“Well…she’s a half-dementor who guards prisoners in Azkaban.”

The effect of that statement was immediate. Mrs. and Mr. Weasley, Hagrid and Bill gasped, Mundungnus woke up with a start, Flitwick squeaked and fell of his chair, Moody’s eye fell out of its socket and rolled on the floor, Kingsley and Lupin cried out and Fleur screamed. Bill was the first to break the deafening silence that followed. 

“Wait,” he said, shaking his head. “Did you say half...dementor? How is that even possible…”

There was a collective shudder around the table.

“Didn’t she go to Hogwarts?” asked Flitwick, climbing back onto his chair. “I don’t ever recall teaching a girl with…unnatural abilities.”

“She was not taught at Hogwarts,” said McGonagall. “Severus went to Azkaban to teach her magic.”

Snape taught her in Azkaban?” cried Kingsley.

“Dumbledore has been known to make exceptions for certain students.” Lupin said bitterly. “Was she too dangerous to come to Hogwarts?”

McGonagall seemed to think that statement was a little rich coming from Lupin.

“She had not yet learnt to control her abilities and the ministry was refusing to let her out of Azkaban,” she snapped.

“Minerva! The girl's a half-dementor for pity’s sake!” cried an exasperated Mrs. Weasley. “How do you know you can trust her?”

“I have also taught Katherine on several occasions and I trust her,” said McGonagall. “She is an extremely gifted witch and with her abilities, Voldemort will not hesitate to trust her as well.”

“You sound like Albus when he talked of Severus,” said Mrs. Weasley very quietly.

There was silence in the kitchen. When McGonagall spoke again, she struggled to keep her voice under control.

“Severus was…is a Death Eater,” she said quietly. “Katherine was never one. I have met Katherine and believe me when I say she will never join Voldemort.”

“Professor McGonagall’s right,” said Hagrid. “I don’t see why any o’ yeh shouldn’t trust her cause of her folks.”

"Quite right 'Agrid," said Fleur. "There are many part 'umans in ze Order."

Harry couldn’t help feeling that this Katherine could not be trusted. He had seen too many dementors to trust her as much as McGonagall and he could not help feeling that Mrs. Weasley had a point. The Weasley twins looked rather pale at this news. Rushing upstairs, he told Ron and Hermione what he had heard.

*


The next morning, Harry, Ron and Hermione crept towards the front door. Fred and George were already there.

“Extendable ears and eyes,” whispered Fred. “New product. We’re only testing them so don’t blame us if you’re all as blind as Harry afterwards.”

They took what appeared to be a pair of swimming goggles and the usual extendable ears from the twins. Harry had to take of his glasses but the goggle instantly adjusted and his vision cleared as he zoomed in on McGonagall at the front door. There was a clear, ringing knock. McGonagall answered it and spoke a few works to the people outside that even the extendable ears could not pick up. After a few moments, in came a woman with a heart shaped face and shocking pink hair, Nymphadora Tonks, and a cloaked figure.

“It’s nice to see you again Katherine,” said McGonagall with a smile. 

Katherine lowered her hood. Harry expected to see a tall figure with scabby skin and a piercing stare but the girl at the door was none of those things. Her eyes were grey, almost white. They were cold and empty, devoid of emotion and energy. Katherine's dark hair was thin and wispy and she had a thin mouth not unlike McGonagall’s. Her face was so pale it would have put Narcissa Malfoy to shame. She was very slight and only looked about fifteen. Katehrine had long, tapered fingers and slight wrists. She had the look of a porcelain doll that would shatter if you dropped it. In each hand she held a small, black trunk that looked more secondhand than anything in the Weasley house.

“Hello Professor McGonagall,” she said in a faint voice that seemed to echo off the walls. “You can call me Kit. The dementors do at least.”

McGonagall didn’t move for a few moments. Harry, Ron and Hermione exchanged confused glances. The dementors call her Kit? 

“She’s got to be barking mad!” whispered Ron. “Dementors don’t talk! How the bloody hell did they give her a nickname?”

“Shh!” hissed Hermione. 

“Alright…Kit,” said McGonagall. “Mrs. Weasley has prepared a room for you. I’ll give you this evening to settle in and tomorrow morning I’ll brief you on your task.”

“Thank you Professor,” said Kit with a slight nod.

McGonagall nodded back and headed out the way Kit came. Tonks gestured upstairs.

“Well, this way then,” said Tonks brightly, taking one of Kit’s cases and heading upstairs.

Kit did not follow. Tonks looked at her inquiringly.

“I’m curious as to why Professor Snape is no longer considered a member of the Order,” she said.

Tonks’ features lost its warmth. Kit seemed unfazed at the sudden change of atmosphere.

“He murdered Albus Dumbledore!” cried Tonks. "How can you even ask that?"

Kit crossed her arms and glared at Tonks

“Where’s the proof of that?” she hissed.

Tonks was getting steadily red in the face. Her shocking pink hair flickered black like a faulty globe.

“Harry Potter saw him do it!” 

“And we’re just going to take Potter’s word on this?”

At this point, Harry was just about ready to storm in there and shout at Kit. Hermione put a restraining hand on his shoulder and he bit back his anger. Tonks continued to glare at the pale teenager before her.

“I trust Harry,” said Tonks firmly.

“I don’t,” snarled Kit. 

Tonks hair turned completely black and she seemed to have grown a few inches. Kit was undaunted.

"I’ve too many of your kind suck the souls out of living people to trust you,” whispered Tonks.

“I’ve seen too many of your relatives to even dream of trusting you,” Kit whispered back. “I look forward to putting the lot of you back into Azkaban.”

“Oh no she did not…” whispered Ron angrily. 

“Are you accusing me of something?” asked Tonks dangerously.

"Did I strike a nerve?”

“Just get upstairs dementor!” 

“Very well,” sneered Kit. “Goodbye Black.”

Tonks thrust Kit’s case back into her hand.

“It’s Tonks!” she shouted.

Kit gave Tonks the condescending leer that usually came from Snape.

“Woops…” she whispered, making it very clear that it was not an accident at all.

Kit ascended the stairs and left Tonks in the kitchen seething. Harry yanked the extendable eye and ear away from him with more force than necessary.

“I don’t like her,” growled Harry.

Ron patted Harry’s shoulder.

“I think the feeling is mutual,” he said. “Snape did a good job on her.”

Chapter 4: Confrontations
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Author's Note: This was originally one big chapter but I'm splitting it up. This one was a little rushed but again, I will reread all of these.




Confrontations


Kit did not make another appearance that day. The following morning, Harry, Ron and Hermione were in Fred and George’s old room. Harry was showing them the photographs Aunt Petunia had given him but Ron and Hermione were more interested in Kit.

“You don’t think that dementor woman is here, do you?” asked Ron, craning his neck to check the corridor. “I hope I don’t have to meet her.”

“She might not be that bad,” said Hermione, with a shrug.

Harry glared at her angrily.

“Didn’t you hear how she talked to Tonks?” he snarled.

“Actually, all her animosity was directed at you until Tonks called her a dementor,” said Hermione calmly.

“Oh that makes it alright then,” muttered Harry. “She was only calling me a liar…”

“I didn’t say that!” snapped Hermione. “She just trusts Snape more than she does you! With all the negative publicity you had two years ago can you blame her?”

“Who in there right mind would trust Snape?” snarled Harry.

Hermione glared back at him.

“Dumbledore!”

“Well, look where that got him,” said Harry coldly.

Hermione bit her lip and picked up the newspaper. Harry busied himself by sorting the other photographs.

“Saturday the 21st of September 1978?” asked Hermione. “What happen-”

She caught sight of the dancing couple on the front page and the frown on her face was replaced by a grin.

“You’re parents!” she cried.

Hermione studied the photograph and her smile widened.

“She’s beautiful, isn’t she?” she whispered, pointing at Lily.

Harry smiled and nodded. Hermione turned the page but the blood drained from her face.

“Merlin forbid…” whispered Hermione.

Harry and Ron looked up at her in alarm.

“Hermione, what-” began Ron.

“Have a look at this,” she breathed.

Harry seized the paper from her. Hermione pointed at a bold heading and a picture of an Auror dragging someone from a muggle house.

Muggle Murders Witch Wife and Child.

“That’s Tobias Snape!” shouted Harry.

Sure enough, the man being dragged from the house had a hook nose and greasy hair.

“Harry how on earth do you know what Tobias Snape looks like?” hissed Ron. “I mean, they both look like greasy haired gits but how did you know for sure?”

“The only time I actually manage to do anything in the Occlumency lessons the spell backfired and hit Snape. I saw him!”

“It is Tobias Snape,” said Hermione after she finished reading the article. “He murdered Eileen and apparently there was an Ellen Snape too. Severus Snape was the only survivor. Snape wasn’t charged because he was a muggle and wizard law didn’t apply to him. Oh no…he was found dead an hour later but Snape…the Professor that is…had an alibi.” Hermione raised her eyebrows. “Lucius Malfoy vouched for him.”

“He did it,” said Ron and Harry in unison.

“We don’t know that,” said Hermione immediately.

Harry and Ron looked at her skeptically.

“Am I imagining things or are you the defender of all things evil?” snapped Ron.

Hermione turned scarlet with anger.

“Excuse me?” she snarled. “I’m not defending him, I’m just-”

“Hermione, I don’t think you understood the part when the article said that Lucius Malfoy vouched for him,” said Harry slowly.

Hermione turned to glare at Harry too.

“Fine,” she snapped. “If you two think you’re smart enough to figure this thing out without me, I’ll just leave.”

Hermione stood into the corridor and slammed the door. Harry hurried after her. He didn’t mean to offend her but he thought it obvious that Snape murdered his father. Harry bolted down the corridor but run straight into someone. The figure nearly fell over but managed to get her footing before she did so.

“I’m sorry, I-” Harry stopped when he realised who he had run into.

It was Kit the half-dementor. Her eyes immediately fell on his scar and an ugly look formed on her face.

“Potter…” she snarled.

Harry said nothing. Kit made the first move.

“I’ve been meaning to speak with you,” she said softly, a hint of malice laced in her words.

“So I’ve heard,” said Harry, trying to sound civil. “Apparently you don’t believe me.”

Kit’s mouth twitched.

“I wonder where you get your information Potter,” she said. “You’re right…I don’t believe you.”

Harry met Kit’s hateful stare without flinching.

“Snape murdered Professor Dumbledore,” he snarled. “Deal with it.”

Kit flared up and the room temperature dropped rapidly. Harry’s hand went into his pocket and found his wand. Kit took a step towards and took a deep rattling breath that chilled him to the bone.

“Liar!” she hissed. “Tell me what happened…or I will make you.”

Kit was a fair bit shorter than Harry was but her words were strong. Harry knew she meant it and she was clearly not hesitant about the idea of hurting him to get her information but he was too angry himself to care.

“You fell for Snape’s act hook, line and sinker, didn’t you?” sneered Harry. “I’m sorry to disappoint you dementor but your pal is a murderer and a Death-”

Harry didn’t finish because Kit seized him by his throat and slammed him against the wall. His took out his wand but Kit’s held his wrist down. Her grip was like iron, cold and strong. She took another rattling breath and her dementor side came out in full force. Harry felt himself drowning in mist. He wanted to cry out for Hermione or Ron but Kit’s hand tightened around his throat.

Suddenly, she was forcing her way into his mind; hacking her way through. Harry’s head throbbed painfully as Kit found the memory she was looking for.

Severus…Severus Please…

Harry felt Kit leave his mind. She left go of him and backed away, leaning against the opposite wall. Harry shook himself and recovered from the intrusion but Kit did not. Any hatred in the room had vanished with the white fog Kit had conjured. In its place was an over whelming feeling of shock, grief and disbelief.

“N-No,” choked Kit. “That memory is wrong…he can’t have…”

Harry’s hatred towards Kit melted away at the look on her face. There was no doubt that she genuinely thought that Snape was innocent. Harry knew what it felt to be betrayed by someone you trusted. He spent a great deal of his fourth year in the company of someone intent upon handing him over to Voldemort after all.

“He wouldn’t have done that…” whispered Kit.

Kit swallowed and continued.

“You don’t know how highly Professor Snape regarded Professor Dumbledore,” she said. “Professor Dumbledore gave us both a second chance when no one else would. He would never…I thought that he would never…”

Kit trailed off.

“I’m sorry,” said Harry quietly. “I-”

Kit shook her head.

“You’re the last person who should be apologising,” said Kit equally quiet. “I’m sorry I acted like that.”

“Don’t worry about it,” said Harry. “I probably would have done the same if I was in your position.”

Kit looked away from Harry. Her shock had ebbed away and left room for more anger.

“I can’t believe I trusted him,” she said angrily. “I can’t believe he tricked us…”

“You’re not the only one,” said Harry. “Dumbledore trusted him…I think even more than he trusted me.”

It was a thought that had come to Harry several times since Dumbledore’s death. This was the first time he had voiced the thought out loud. Dumbledore never believed Harry when he said that Snape wasn’t to be trusted…but Snape he never doubted.

“He would have welcomed anyone to his side,” said Kit slowly. “Even someone like me.”

Harry looked at the ground.

“Look, I’m sorry I called you a dementor,” he said hurriedly. “That was really-”

“Truthful?”

“Rude.”

“Don’t worry about it Potter,” said Kit. “I never gave you a reason to call me otherwise.”

Kit sat on the floor and leaned against the wall. Harry mimicked her.

“I’m Kit,” she said. “I think you already figured that one out though.”

“I’m Harry,” he answered, “but you obviously knew that.”

There was silence in the corridor for a few moments.

“Your friend came down here,” said Kit finally. “She seemed upset.”

Harry winced.

“Yeah, I was being a prat…is she downstairs?”

Kit nodded. Harry got to his feet and looked at Kit.

“Are you coming?” he asked. “You might as well meet everyone.”

Kit hesitated before getting to her feet.

“Lead on Potter,” she said.

Harry frowned.

“You can call me Harry you know.”

“Sorry Harry,” said Kit. “It’s just that…he always called you Potter.”

There was silence again. After a moment, Harry shrugged and walked downstairs.

*


“Hermione?” called Harry.

He quickly found his bushy hair friend by the dinning table. Tonks, the Weasley twins, Lupin, Bill, Fleur and Mundungus were all eating breakfast and froze when they saw Kit. Hermione did not see her and turned around to face Harry, her face still red.

“What do you-” she began angrily.

Hermione caught sigh of Kit and faltered. She looked from Kit to Harry in shock.

“O-Oh…” she stammered. “H-Hi.”

“Ummm…this is Kit,” said Harry awkwardly. “Hermione, I want to apol-”

“Oh, it’s alright,’ said Hermione hurriedly.

She ran upstairs before Harry could say anymore. Kit grimaced.

“Nice to meet you Hermione,” she called in the general direction of the stairs Hermione had just run up.

Tonks snorted and Kit glared at her. Evidentially, there was still hostility there. Lupin frowned at Tonks and turned to Kit.

“Hello Kit,” said Lupin, forcing a smile. “I’m Remus.”

“Hello Remus,” said Kit with an equally forced smile and a nod.

Fleur observed Kit for a moment.

“‘Ello Kit,” she said. “Je m’appelle Fleur.”

Kit nodded and said something back in French. Fleur seemed happy that someone else knew her language.

“This is my future ‘usband… Bill,” said Fleur happily.

Bill and Kit said hello to each other. So far the greeting had been somewhat less than enthusiastic but George got to his feet.

“I’m George Weasley,” he said, extended his hand.

Kit looked at George and his outstretched hand, startled. She seemed too shocked to return the gesture. George grimaced and lowered his hand.

“Sorry,” he mumbled.

Kit shook herself and extended her hand. George took it but withdrew his hand very quickly as though Kit’s hands were on fire. She winced.

“Sorry,” she whispered. “I’ve got cold hands. I should’ve warned-”

George put up his hand to stop her and shook her hand again. This time, his grip was firm.

“Very pleased to meet you Kit,” he said with a smile.

“Likewise…George,” said Kit.

Harry didn’t think he’d ever see Kit smile. It was small and barely noticeable but suddenly she seemed more human. It lit up her entire face. It also didn’t hurt that room temperature was back to normal. Fleur raised her eyebrows and glanced at Tonks. Fred however, did not look too happy at all. Kit turned to face him, her small smile on her face. She extended her hand but Fred did not take it.

“I’m Fred,” he said rather roughly.

The smile fell from Kit’s face and she lowered her hand. She nodded at him and he nodded back. George glared at his twin and Fred glared back.

“Do you want to sit down Kit?” asked George.

Tonks began attacking her toast with unwarranted venom. Kit ignored her and took a seat next to George. Harry took a seat between Kit and Lupin. A short silence followed that was broken by Fleur.

“We ‘ave set a date for ze wedding!” said Fleur brightly. “Vingt-huit Septembre!”

“She means the twenty-eighth,” muttered Bill.

Lupin slowly put his fork down.

“I am afraid I cannot come,” said Lupin slowly. “The twenty-eight is a full moon and…Snape isn’t here to make a Wolvesbane Potion for me.”

Fleur put a hand to her mouth and Bill blanched.

“Remus I’m sorry…” said Bill, horrified at himself. “I didn’t know...we’ll change the date…”

“I won’t have you change the date of your wedding for me,” said Lupin sharply. “It is your day and-”

“I could make it,” said Kit quietly.

Everyone turned to look at Kit in surprise. She bit her lip.

“He…I was taught how to make it,” she said with a shrug. “You’ll be in wolf form by evening but…you’ll have sometime with everyone.”

Lupin’s face broke into a wide smile.

“That would be…wonderful!” he said, beaming.

Tonks stabbed at her toast again, her expression sour. Lupin cast another frown at her. Fleur flicked back her blonde hair and smiled fondly at Kit.

“You must come to the wedding!” she cried. “Ooo…we have found a partner in ze prozession for George!”

George’s face turned slightly red but a small smile played on his mouth.

“I’m sorry Fleur but I must decline,” said Kit quietly.

George’s smile vanished.

“I’m a spy…I do not want to endanger anyone during your wedding,” she said.

Fleur’s mouth opened and closed.

“But…but…”

Kit got to her feet hurriedly.

“I have already stayed too long,” she said. “It was nice to meet all of you.”

Kit strode quickly out of the kitchen, leaving a group of baffled people eating breakfast. Harry looked at Tonks. She was muttering darkly under her breath. She and Kit really didn’t get off on the best foot. Taking a deep breath, George continued to eat and the rest soon followed. Harry helped himself to some toast and conversation continued,

“She seems…nice,” muttered George.

Fred scowled at him. Tonks made a small noise under her breath that sounded something like ‘Snape’. Bill touched his face with his hands. It was still scarred from encounter with the werewolf Greyback but he was improving daily and did not transform at all last full moon.

“Tonks, is your mum going to be at work when I visit the hospital?” he asked, clearly hoping to cheer Tonks up.

Tonks smiled a little.

“Yep,” she said. “You guys can meet her. If anyone needed proof that Slytherin’s aren’t all bad look no further the Andromeda Tonks.”

The atmosphere in the room changed abruptly. Tonks bit her lip.

“Umm…well, she has really sneaky ways of getting you to clean your room but that is about as Slytherin as she gets,” muttered Tonks.

Lupin smiled.

“Sirius talked of her quite fondly,” he said. “I’d love to meet her.”

Harry remembered Sirius talking about Andromeda. He was her favourite cousin…but she was also Bellatrix Lestrange’s little sister. Harry wondered just how many of her sister’s traits Andromeda had.

“Well, my appointment is in an hour,” said Bill. “Will you guys be ready?”

Harry nodded. He’d meet Andromeda Tonks soon enough.


Chapter 5: Saint Mungo's Hospital
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Saint Mungo’s


Little had changed in Saint Mungo’s Hospital since Harry’s last memorable visit. Bill was lying comfortable in a hospital bed. Mrs. Weasley was pale and anxious. She was rocking in her seat and reminded Harry forcibly of Dobby the elf. Bill gave a sigh of exasperation.

“Mum, just go down to the tearoom,” said Bill firmly. “Relax… I’ll be fine.”

“Maybe we should wait for Andromeda,” said Mrs. Weasley anxiously.

Mother…she’s going to be a while,” said Bill. “Some idiot tickled a chimera and she’s a bit busy right now.”

Tonk paled.

“It wasn’t Hagrid, was it?” she asked nervously.

“I don’t think so…” said Bill with a frown.

Mrs. Weasley, who hadn’t really been listening, started a nervous rant.

“I think we should wait for Andromeda…there may be something wrong…I don’t want to leave you…”

“‘Ee will be fine, Molly,” said Fleur, leaning against the hospital bed and smiling at her fiancé. “‘Eee is too big and strong for a few bite too make ‘im ill.”

Bill turned bright red and a sleepy smile formed on his face. Ginny and Hermione simultaneously rolled their eyes. Harry was forced to disguise his laugh into a cough.

“Go on everyone,” said Bill.

“I will get you some coffee,” said Fleur. “‘opefully eet is as good as ze coffee back ‘ome.”

Harry, Ron and Hermione headed towards the tea room. Tonks and Lupin were speaking in hushed voices behind them and as they walked they caught a few words.

“…going to close the school.”

Harry’s heart skipped a few beats. Hermione covered her mouth with her hand to stop herself from gasping. None of them had planned to return to Hogwarts but the thought that it was actually going to close…

“But if Professor McGonagall found the teachers-” began Tonks

“There is literally no one to take the jobs,” said Lupin. “No one is applying after what happened to Albus and the Ministry isn’t helping.”

Tonks bit her lip.

“I’m good at Transfiguration,” she said. “Maybe if you take the Defence against the Dark Arts job again-”

“The Ministry need all the Aurors they have,” said Lupin shaking his head, “and…Umbridge has past another anti-Werewolf legislation. Now it is actually impossible for me to be a job.”

Tonks suddenly looked like she did when she was talking to Kit.

“That frog-faced, cow…” she growled.

“Cummon…” said Ron gruffly, walking up faster.

Harry and Hermione followed him. When they reached the tearoom, Hermione tapped the kettle with her wand and it began to boil. As they drank their hot chocolate, Harry voiced what they had all been thinking.

“Do you think they’ll reopen Hogwarts?” asked Harry quietly.

“I don’t know,” said Hermione sadly.

Ron grimaced.

“It be a bit of a downer if they- Ouch!”

Someone had run headlong into Ron and nearly knocked him over. Ron managed to steady himself before he fell over. The person who he had run into was still in a hurry.

“S-Sorry…Sorry…I need t-to go…”

The figure was a familiar round faced boy they all recognise immediately.

“Neville!” cried Ron. “How-”

Ron stopped. Neville was white and shaking. Hermione put a hand on his shoulder.

“Neville are you alright?” she asked.

Neville took a deep steady breath and swallowed.

“I’m fine…” said Neville, his voice steadily rising with something that could only be happiness. “I’m…great!”

Harry, Ron and Hermione exchanged glances.

“Err…Why?” asked Harry, who knew that Neville was visiting his parents and didn’t understand why Neville would be so happy.

Neville let out a small laugh and smiled at Harry.

“She…mum…she said my name. I think…” Neville trailed off as though he could hardly dare to believe it himself. “…she’s getting better.”

Harry’s mouth spilt into a wide smile.

“That’s brilliant!” he cried. “Neville that is really brilliant!”

Neville seemed too shocked to smile back.

“The nurse...I’ve got to find her…she’s on her break…”

Neville left as quickly as he came, still as pale as parchment. Harry, Ron and Hermione headed back towards the Creature Induced Injury ward. This unexpected bit of good news was just what they all needed.

“Finally some good news,” said Ron contently. “I wonder what she’ll be like when we meet her.”

“Like Neville,” said Harry, still grinning. “Hey-”

The grin fell off Harry’s face. The door to the spell damage ward lay open. Inside, talking to a distraught Mrs. Longbottom, was the nurse Neville thought he had gone for a break.

“Poor love got his hopes up,” said the nurse sadly. “She didn’t recognize him, she was just recreating that horrible night in her mind. She must have seen Andromeda in the hallway. It would have triggered a memory…”

Ron swore under his breath. Without another word, they headed back towards the Creature Induced Injury Ward, trying not to think about Neville’s reaction when he found out. Harry risked a glance behind him and saw a hopeful looking Neville race into the ward. Hermione shook with anger and a few rooms from Bill’s ward, she couldn’t contain herself.

“That horrible woman!” Hermione burst out, “and her horrible husband and brother-in-law.”

“If you’re talking about Bellatrix Lestrange, ‘horrible woman’ are not the words I’d use,” said Harry bitterly. “I’d say she is a down right b-”

Ron cried out suddenly and grabbed his wand.

“Nymphadora!”

Harry turned around to where Ron was staring, his hand reaching for his own wand. Hermione mimicked him. He had heard Bellatrix Lestrange’s voice. There she was standing by Bill’s bed. Lupin, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Fleur and Ginny all drew their wands and were about to curse her when Tonks jumped in front of them.

“No!” shouted Tonks. “That’s my mother!”

Everyone froze in shock and, after a brief moment, cautiously returned their wands to their robes. Lupin looked very pale. Mistaking your girlfriend’s mother for a Death Eater wasn’t the best start one could make.

“Sorry,” he mumbled.

Andromeda smiled at him.

“It’s alright. You have no idea how many times I have been arrested,” she said airily.

Harry couldn’t blame the Auror’s for their mistake. She was identical to Bellatrix in every way except her smile. Her smile was warm and kind and Bellatrix’s was cold and cruel. Tonks seemed awfully embarrassed.

“Everyone, this is my mum, Andromeda. I think I should have mentioned the…err…family resemblance.”

Everyone cast a glance at Tonks. She winced apologetically and gestured to Lupin.

“Mum, this is Remus,” said Tonks. “I told you about him, remember?”

“Are you a pure blood?” hissed Andromeda suddenly.

Tonks’ jaw dropped.

“Mother!”

Lupin looked frantically from Tonks to Andromeda, not knowing what to make of this.

“I-No!” cried Lupin shocked.

Tonks was starring at her mother as if she had gone mad. Andromeda observed them all of a moment and then a smile formed on her face.

“I’m joking,” said Andromeda with a chuckle. “Honestly, don’t you lot have a sense of humour?”

After a few moments silence, Ron snorted. Harry was fighting the urge to laugh…and losing. Lupin couldn’t help it; he laughed too.

“You had us there Andromeda,” he said weakly. “A joke worthy of James and Sirius.”

*


They only returned late in the evening. Andromeda turned out to be as interesting as her daughter…if not a bit less clumsy and a bit neater. She was forced to return to her work when a wizard arrived who was oozing from his fingernails. Lupin had been teased mercilessly by both mother and daughter before then and had quite enjoyed himself. He returned to his flat with a faint smile on his face.

“She’s pretty cool…Tonks mother,” said Ron absently as he stumbled from the fireplace and into the Weasley’s living room. “She’s scary and all and her sense of humor is completely weird but she’s…nice.”

Hermione dusted the soot of her robes and nodded. Harry cleaned the soot of his glasses with a tap of his wand.

“Should we…write to Neville?” murmured Harry. “See if he’s alright?”

Hermione shook her head.

“I think that’s something he and his grandmother should talk about,” she said. “I know she’s not the most sensitive woman in the world but she’s his family. She’s all he’s got left.”

Harry nodded as the rest of the Weasleys emerged from the fireplace.

“I’m going to bed,” he said, though he wasn’t really tired at all.

Harry climbed upstairs and lay flat on his bed without changing. The only noises he heard came from everyone downstairs. He must have lay there for about ten minutes when he heard a knock at his door.

“Harry?”

Harry looked up at the doorway and his stomach twisted. It was Ginny.

“Can I come in?” she whispered.

Harry nodded. Ginny bit her lip and took a step inside the room.

“I want to…” she paused and looked away from him. “…apologise. I’ve been a real idiot to you.”

Harry opened his mouth to say something but Ginny spoke again.

“I knew why you did…what you did,” she said. “I was upset and I took it out on you…sorry.”

Harry shook his head.

“Ginny you don’t need to apologise,” he said softly.

Ginny shrugged.

“Can you humour me and accept my apology anyway?” asked Ginny.

Harry let out a little laugh.

“Alright,” he said, trying to hide a smile.

“Night Harry,” said Ginny.

“Good night Ginny,” said Harry after a short pause.

Ginny smiled. It was the first real smile he had seen on Ginny’s face in a long time. She was still smiling when she headed towards her own bedroom and closed the door.

*


Ginny was running through a dark forest…she was frightened and constantly looking behind her back…she ran straight into a cloaked figure…he lowered his hood to reveal scarlet eyes…Ginny backed away in horror as the figure drew his wand…

BANG!

Harry shot upright, gasping for breath. He swallowed and wiped the sweat off his forehead. It took him a few moments to realise that it was not the dream that had woken him up. There was another loud noise in the kitchen. Harry drew his wand and crept cautiously towards the source of the noise.

“Kit?” cried Harry.

Kit leaning against the sink, desperately hitting the tap with her wand. Her face was contorted in pain. Harry rushed forward and flicked his wand. A gush of cold water poured from the tap and Kit quickly shoved her left forearm under it. A black mark was undistinguishable under the water but Harry knew exactly what it was. The water in the sink turned pale pink making Harry feel slightly revolted.

“It worked,” she whispered, closing her eyes. “I’ve convinced him.”

“Does it still hurt?” asked Harry, pointing at the black mark on Kit’s arm.

Kit nodded, her eyes still closed. Harry bit his lip. Not knowing what to do, he looked around the kitchen.

“Mrs. Weasley always has something around…”

“Kit!”

Harry spun around and saw George standing in the doorway looking dumbstruck.

“George, do you have any murtlap essence?” asked Harry quickly.

George tore open a cupboard and produced a small bottle of the cooling liquid.

“Mum swears by this stuff after we recommended it,” said George.

He conjured a bandage with his wand and smeared it with the essence. He carefully laid it on Kit’s forearm.

“That feels good…” said Kit with a sigh of relief.

Kit held down the bandage with her right hand and her face relaxed as the pain eased.

“How did it go?” asked Harry.

“I don’t know,” muttered Kit. “I did what I came here to do but…”

“But what?” asked George, sounding worried.

Kit swallowed and looked from George to Harry.

“The dementors were there,” said Kit quietly, “and so was Professor Snape.”



Chapter 6: Death Eater
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Author’s Note: Sorry about changing the rating. I know the first version was 15+ but this version is a bit more violent so I upped the rating just to be safe. Sorry!

My thanks to the people who reviewed. If you didn’t… *very Bellatrix-like smile* lol...just kidding! But you should remember that if you review my story I review yours. (Unless my computer is struck by lightening or something.)




A rush of cold breeze swept through the ranks of the Death Eaters and some of them could not hide a shiver. It was supposed to be a warm sunny day but thick fog shielded the sun from view. The chilling breeze came from above…where the dementors were circling around the Dark Lord. They fed off the Death Eaters’ fear and the Death Eaters were very frightened indeed. When the Dark Lord was displeased, fear was always rife.

“You have all failed me,” said Voldemort, his tone dangerously quiet.

The Death Eaters remained silent. Bellatrix flinched involuntarily as Voldemort’s scarlet eyes met her own dark, lidded ones. The lingered there was a moment and then turned to the rest of the Death Eaters.

“The old fool is gone, he no longer has his mudblood mother’s protection and still he has not been brought before me.”

“W-we will find a way my Lord,” said Bellatrix, finally finding her voice. “This… boy… has slithered out of your grasp for the last-”

“Be quiet Bella!” snapped Voldemort. “The task of finding Potter is not yours…it is your nephew’s.”

Bellatrix flinched again and fell silent. Snape stood out of the shadows and spoke up.

“My Lord…” he said carefully. “I have reason to believe that Narcissa and Draco have attempted to desert you.”

Bellatrix turned bright red. She glared at Snape angrily.

“How do you know this?” demanded Bellatrix.

Snape glanced shrewdly at Bellatrix, completely unfazed by her elevated hostility.

“They aroused my suspicions when they completely disappeared,” he said calmly.

The anger left Voldemort’s face. He turned to the man next to Snape…Lucius Malfoy. Lucius’ face was frozen solid. He showed no fear or anger.

“Find them,” said Voldemort simply.

Lucius bowed his head in acknowledgement. No more needed to be said.

“Then I will chose another,” said Voldemort, raising his voice for the rest of the Death Eaters to hear. “She will be honoured above all of you if she succeeds.”

A small smile formed on Bellatrix’s face. She was after all, one of the only two women in the Death Eaters circle and Alecto Carrows was hardly competition. The smile was wiped of her face however, when a figure cloaked in black walked into the space between Snape and Lucius. The air turned, if possible, even colder and damper. The smile that had been on Bellatrix's face was replaced by a very nasty look indeed when she recognised the pale girl.

“Forgive my lateness my Lord,” said Kit softly. “Minerva McGonagall is not an easy woman to lie to.”

Kit's face was completely blank and emotionless but, or the first time any of the Death Eaters could remember, Snape seem completely astounded. He looked, if possible, even more pallid and his black eyes were widdened in shock.

“Katherine?” he whispered.

As Snape spoke, the dementors overhead swooped down simultaneously. Bellatrix’s face turned sickly white and her nails were digging into her palms. The angry rattle coming from them was almost deafening. One dementor separated from the swarm and glided towards Voldemort. Its scabby hand reached out and gestured towards Kit. A low rattle escaped it as though it were talking.

But Kit knew exactly what it was saying.

You promised us that Katherine would not be involved! Do not break your word human!

"I am no human...and you forget that without me your people would be wasting away in Azkaban,” said Voldemort impassively. “If you wish it, you may return.”

The dementor hovered before the Dark wizard before slowly ascending and accepting defeat. A low rattle escaped Kit's lips and the dementor turned it's head towards her.

Please understand...

You should not have come.

As the effect of the dementors lessened, Bellatrix stood forward into the circle. She seemed uncharacteristically desperate.

“She works for the Ministry!” cried Bellatrix. “My Lord, she-”

“Bellatrix if you do not learn to hold your tongue I will get the dementors to do it for you,” snarled Voldemort.

That shut Bellatrix up very effectively. She backed into her place, looking paler than ever. Voldemort looked at her for a few moments and then addressed Kit.

“You owe my followers an explanation I daresay,” he said.

Kit stood forward from her place in the circle.

“I did work for the ministry,” said Kit. “I was born to work for the ministry.”

Snape starred blankly at the ground when he spoke.

“Then why are you here?” he asked quietly.

“The Dark Lord can offer much more the Ministry,” said Kit slowly. “Freedom, power…revenge on certain humans…”

Kit paused and glanced at Snape who remained as impassive as ever.

“I was taught magic by three humans…Albus Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall and…of course…Professor Snape.”

Kit nodded towards Snape but he did not acknowledge her.

“My use to the Dark Lord lies with Minerva McGonagall,” continued Kit. “She has replaced Dumbledore as both Headmistress and leader of the Order. She was naïve enough to think me the same little girl she taught transfiguration and so… here I am.”

Bellatrix made a noise in her throat. She was clearly not satisfied with Kit’s story. Voldemort however, was.

“Kneel,” said Voldemort coldly.

Kit dropped to the ground and outstretched her left forearm. Voldemort glanced at her before pointing his wand at her pale skin.

“Morsmordre!”

A horrible burning sound filled the air. Kit clenched her mouth shut and refused to let a sound escape her lips. When Voldemort lifted his wand away, her arm still burned and stung but now a black mark was visible. Kit forced herself to stand up again.

“I shall complete the task you have set me my Lord,” she said through laboured breathing. “The boy shall not escape again.”

Kit bowed again and turned to leave. All eyes were on her as she left the circle. Voldemort dismissed the Death Eaters with a nod and vanished into the shadows.

*


The clearing that Kit was walking through was deadly silent. There were no birds and no animals. Kit was breathing heavily and holding her left arm.

Snap!

Kit froze and let go of her arm as the sound of footsteps caught her ears.

“You though that was pretty funny, didn’t you dementor?”

Kit swirled around and found herself face to face with a man with a pocked face and greasy hair. The startled look vanished from Kit’s face and was replaced by an angry snarl.

“I have a name, Rookwood,” snarled Kit. “Take care to use it.”

Rookwood stood in front of Kit and blocked her path.

“Was that a threat…dementor?” he hissed, taking a menacing step towards her.

Kit was a great deal shorter than Rookwood but she took another step towards him until they were barely an inch apart. She glared at him with such intensity that he was tempted to take a step back.

“How very clever of you…” she sneered. “Now if you don’t mind I need to return to headquarters.”

Kit turned to walk around Rookwood but he caught her shoulder and shoved her back. Kit drew her wand but before she could curse Rookwood some spoke from behind her.

“I’m sure McGonagall can wait,” said a woman from the shadows.

Kit glanced in the direction of the woman and grimaced.

“Leave me alone Bellatrix,” she snapped.

Bellatrix raised her eyebrows as she walked towards Kit.

“I’m offended… didn’t Dumbledore teach you any manners in Azkaban?”

Kit’s grip on her wand tightened but her face did not show a trace of fear.

“Oh I’m sorry…” she said mockingly. “Please leave before I am forced to curse both of you.”

“But we don’t want to leave…” said Bellatrix in her annoying, singsong voice. “Don’t we, Macnair?”

Kit glanced over her shoulder and saw another man leaning casually against a tree. He was tall and muscular and had a black moustache but the feature that most concerned Kit was the very sharp axe that he held idly in his hand. Kit twitched slightly and swallowed. She had had several encounters will Macnair and none of them had been pleasant.

“You remember Macnair, don’t you? For the Department of Disposal of… Dangerous Creatures?” asked Bellatrix.

Kit nodded. Her grey eyes were transfixed on Macnair’s axe. Bellatrix’s smile widened.

“Since you were being so rude to us we’d better teach you a lesson,” she said.

“Can’t you take me on yourself Bellatrix?” asked Kit recklessly. “Did you really have to get the big boys to look after you?”

Macnair looked like he was about to laugh but Bellatrix silenced him with a glare.

“No dementor…” she said quietly. “They’re here to watch the fun.”

Without warning, Bellatrix seized Kit’s forearm. Her nails dug into the black burn and a fresh wave of pain surged through Kit’s arm. Kit cried out and tried to struggle out of Bellatrix’s grasp but the Death Eater held on tighter.

“It hurts, doesn’t it?” whispered Bellatrix.

“N-none but the D-Dark Lord may touch my M-Mark…” chocked Kit. “Let g-go of me!”

“You are not worthy of the Dark Mark,” snarled Bellatrix.

“That is for the Dark Lord to decided… not one of his second rate-”

Kit clenched her jaw shut as Bellatrix’s nails dug in even deeper. She stumbled and almost lost her footing. Struggling to regain control of the situation, Kit drew in a deep, shuddering breath. Macnair and Rookwood drew away but it seemed to have little or no effect on Bellatrix.

“Your little tricks don’t work on me,” said Bellatrix. “I fought your kind for twelve years and one little half breed-”

“Bellatrix!”

Bellatrix looked up from Kit and turned to find Snape standing in the clearing. A snarl formed on her face.

“Snape…what are you doing here?”

“That is none of your concern!” he shouted. “Release her!”

Snape turned to Rookwood and Macnair.

“Leave now before the Dark Lord hears of your treachery,” he snarled. “You’re orders were to show Katherine respect!”

Rookwood and Macnair glanced at each other before vanishing through the trees. Snape turned to Bellatrix, seething.

“Release her or I will make you!” he snarled.

“I think you’ll have to make me,” said Bellatrix with deceptive sweetness.

Snape drew his wand and pointed it at Bellatrix’s face but it only made her laugh.

“What are you going to do?” she laughed. “Use the cruciatus curse on me?”

Snape looked for a moment like he was seriously considering.

“Oh no, Bellatrix,” he said finally, his customary sneer forming on his face. “You won’t squirm on the ground and cry if I cast the curse… I will merely call the Dark Lord. It will make me a happier man.”

Very reluctantly, Bellatrix let go of Kit and left her panting on the ground. She calmly walked towards Snape and whispered into his ear. She paid no attention to Snape’s wand which was still pointed at her.

“You’re playing a very dangerous game Snape,” she whispered.

“Go force your company on someone else Bellatrix,” snarled Snape. “I have not patience for the likes of you.”

Bellatrix complied, a small smirk playing on her lips. Snape watched Bellatrix as she left and then turned towards Kit. He bent low to help her to her feet but took a good three steps back when Kit opened her mouth and took in a deep rattling breath.

“Get away from me, human!” shouted Kit.

The sneer on Snape’s face was replaced by a very sour look.

“Just in case it just escaped your notice…” he snarled, “I am trying to help you.”

Kit hurriedly got to her feet and turned to face Snape. Her arm was searing with almost unbearable pain but she was too angry to care. Her grey eyes were blazing and her hands had balled themselves into fists.

“Do you honestly think I’d accept any help from you?” snarled Kit. “Next time something like this happens… keep away.”

“Last time I checked the appropriate response for a situation like this one was ‘thank you’.”

“For what? Following orders? Any human can follow orders.”

If Snape had been looking at anyone else like the way he was looking at Kit now, they would be backing away very slowly and carefully. It was hard to tell who was angrier at the other.

“You… are worse than Potter,” hissed Snape. “I’ve lost count of the amount of times I have saved his ungrateful neck and…”

Snape trailed off and seemed too angry with Kit to continue.

“Speaking of Potter…” whispered Kit. “He showed me a rather interesting memory. Of all the humans… you were the last one I thought would betray the headmaster.”

The anger faded from Snape’s face.

“Is this what this is about?” he asked quietly.

Kit said nothing and continued to glare at Snape.

“Katherine…by being here…you’re betraying him as well.”

Kit tried to hide the hurt on her face but Snape had taught her for too long not to notice it.

“Well Katherine?” asked Snape quietly.

There was a long, ringing silence in the clearing. Kit avoiding Snape’s eyes when she spoke.

“What can I say?” she said finally. “I learnt from the best.”

Before the angry retort could leave Snape, Kit swirled around and half-walked, hallf-ran away from him. Snape turned in the opposite direct with a swirl of his cloak. When they were gone, a bird returned to the clearing.

The half-dementor had left.


Chapter 7: Dinner at Tonks'
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“Wotcher everyone!” said Tonks brightly.

Harry smiled and nodded at Tonks. She seemed a lot more cheerful that she had been for a while… probably because Kit wasn’t at breakfast. Harry had only seen Kit that morning after she relayed the night’s events to McGonagall and she had looked paler that usual and rather ill. No one had seen her and Harry had a sneaking suspicion that there had already been another meeting. Tonks took a seat between Fred and George and helped herself to a piece of toast.

“Mum wanted to invite all of you for dinner tomorrow,” said Tonks airily.

“That’d be lovely,” said Mrs Weasley. “But I don’t think poor Katherine will be able to come. She’s been ill ever since she got back. Needs a good feeding up too I might add…”

Tonks’ nose wrinkled in distaste. She reminded Harry of someone when she did this but he couldn’t put a name to the face in his mind.

“Got back from where?” asked Ginny, from her seat next to George.

“Work for the Order and never you mind,” said Mrs. Weasley sternly.

Ginny scowled and exchanged glances with Harry.

“I don’t think she’d come even if she could,” muttered Tonks under her breath.

George shot Tonks a glare but she ignored him. Mr. Weasley raised his eyebrows but said nothing and continued to each his scrambled eyes. Lupin had stopped eating altogether. He looked rather cross.

“Tonks, can I have a word?”

Pursing her lips, Tonks got to her feet and followed Lupin out of the kitchen. Everyone in the kitchen fell silent subconsciously in an effort to eaves drop.

“Do you think you can be a bit more civil?” asked Lupin quietly.

Tonks blinked.

“Civil?” she repeated incredulously. “She accused me of being a Death Eater!”

Lupin crossed his arms.

“You can at least try to make an effort.”

“You don’t know what she’s done,” snarled Tonks. “I know she’s making you the wolvesbane potion and all but I’ve seen the kind of things she does to the prisoners in Azkaban. I am not inviting her.”

“Tonks-” began Lupin.

“I am not letting her anywhere near my mother!” snapped Tonks. “If she honestly thinks I’m inviting her after what she said then-”

Tonks trailed off at the sight of the pale, half-dementor in the doorway. Kit still looked very ill but her features impassive as ever. She gazed from Lupin to Tonks and seemed intent on saying something. Lupin looked embarrassed and agitated. Tonks returned Kit’s gaze coolly.

“Am I interrupting something?” asked Kit quietly.

“As a matter of fact you were,” snarled Tonks.

A faint smirk flicked on Kit’s face and Tonks scowled. Tonks had had more than her share of unpleasant dealings with Snape and she did not think that she had to put up with his female, miniature, counterpart when he was gone.

“Then I won’t be long,” said Kit silkily. “I need a word with your…ah… with Lupin.”

“You can speak freely in front of Tonks,” said Lupin, frowning at both of them.

“It’s work for the Order,” said Kit. “It only concerns you Lupin.”

Lupin cast an apologetic look at Tonks and her face reddened. The infamous Black family temper was not a trait Tonks usually displayed but she was now nothing short of furious. Kit’s smirk widened in satisfaction. Tonks glared from Lupin to Kit.

“Fine,” said Tonks coldly.

Tonks walked back into the kitchen, seething. Lupin winced and turned to Kit.

“Katherine-”

Kit put up a hand to stop him.

“You are no longer welcome among the werewolves,” she said stiffly.

Lupin’s mouth opened in surprise and Kit continued.

“Fenrir Greyback is sick of your…weak ideas,” she said.

“But the others-”

Kit shook her head.

“Greyback has been given permission to…” Kit frowned as she searched for the words to describe Lupin’s situation. “…well to put it bluntly…eat you.”

Lupin winced.

“Oh...umm…thank you for letting me know.”

Kit nodded and turned to go upstairs but Lupin bit a hand on her shoulder to stop her.

“Listen, Katherine…about Tonks,” said Lupin uncertainly.

Kit shrugged Lupin off and gave him the cold glare than Lupin was so used to getting from Snape.

“What about her?” said Kit coldly.

“She’s not…” Lupin ran his fingers through his graying hair and sighed. “You two just got off on the wrong foot. She’s really-”

Kit cut Lupin off before he could finish.

“She’s an Auror,” she spat. “They’re all the same and there are no exceptions.”

With that, Kit stormed upstairs, leaving a frozen Lupin behind her. With a sigh, Lupin returned to the kitchen to find everyone smiling innocently at him and pretending they hadn’t listened to the entire conversation. Tonks determinedly avoided their eyes but Harry noticed a trace of guilt in her features. Harry frowned at his plate and silently wondered what Kit had against Aurors.

*


The Tonks household was quite unlike the Weasley household. Someone had painstakingly cleaned every nook and cranny and photographs of a girl with ever changing hair were neatly arranged on the fireplace sill. There was however, some proof of Ted Tonks’ existence. An old couch that seemed to be held together by duct tape and a few cleverly cast sewing spells had been placed by the fireplace.

Andromeda welcomed them in warmly. Moody and Tonks walked inside first, followed by Lupin.

“Mum, this is Alastor Moody…Moody, this is Andromeda,” said Tonks.

“Oh hello Alastor,” said Andromeda with a smile. “You’ve arrested me before, haven’t you?”

“Twice,” said Moody with an apologetic nod.

Andromeda waved it off with a laugh and invited the rest of them inside. In the kitchen was a man with a heart-shaped face and big, laughing, brown eyes.

“Wotcher everyone,” he said happily. “I’m Ted.”

There was no doubt where Tonks got her clumsiness from after Ted tripped on a table leg on the way to greeting them. Harry seated himself at the table, feeling quite at home. Andromeda brought in a big dish of delicious looking stew and everyone helped themselves to it. They chatted animatedly over dinner and, inevitably, the conversation went to a topic that caused poor Tonks quite some embarrassment.

“You should have seen her one her first day of school,” said Andromeda.

“What did she look like?” asked Lupin with a broad grin.

Andromeda giggled and Tonks determinedly starred into her plate whilst going red.

“Her robes were too big for her and she was tripping all over them. I do have some photos,” said Andromeda. “Nymphadora, can you get them?”

Tonks went straight from red to crimson.

“Can we not…” mumbled Tonks.

Mrs. Weasley decided to mercifully change the subject.

“So how did you break the news that you were getting married to your parents, Andromeda?” asked Molly. “I’m sure that would have been hard.”

Ted and Andromeda exchanged glances.

“We didn’t actually,” said Ted with a wince.

“Thanks actually quite a funny story,” said Andromeda with a laugh. “Well as you know… Bellatrix and I look quite similar and Ted mistook her for me and…well…”

“Who wants to see baby photos?” asked Tonks loudly.

Harry let out a reluctant laugh. Tonks and her father were spared any further embarrassment by the sound of the doorbell.

“I’ll get it,” said Andromeda brightly.

Tonks sighed with relief as Andromeda left to answer the doorbell.

“Who wants more stew?” she asked.

“Thanks Tonks,” said Ron, lifting up his bowl.

Clang!

Ever so predictably, Tonks knocked over Andromeda’s stew and its contents when everywhere. Tonks turned even redder. Mumbling under her breath, she vanished the ruined meal with a flick of her wand.

“Sorry… Mum made some more I think…”

Tonks hurried off to the kitchen, tripping over a step as she went. Harry grimaced as he wiped the stew off his glasses. Sometimes Tonks could be a little too clumsy.

*


When Andromeda opened her front door her eyes widened in pure shock. Andromeda would recognise the woman in the doorway anywhere. The new arrival was very similar to Andromeda except for the fact that she was almost as pale as a ghost.

“Hello Annie,” said Narcissa Malfoy nervously.


Chapter 8: Family Reunion
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Andromeda stood frozen in the doorway until she finally found her voice. She hadn’t seen Narcissa in years and this was certainly not her idea of a family reunion. Andromeda’s idea of a family reunion would be one as far away from any Aurors…and definitely Harry Potter…as possible.

“What are you doing here?” breathed Andromeda.

Narcissa stood out of the shadow, desperation in her eyes. Biting her lip, she struggled to talk to her estranged sister.

“I…I need you help,” said Narcissa finally. “Annie, I-”

“Cissy, my daughter is an Auror,” cried Andromeda, cutting off her sister. “I cannot help you!”

“Annie-”

Andromeda put up a hand to stop her sister. She caught sigh of Draco standing behind Narcissa. A flash of regret crossed Andromeda’s face but she held firm.

“Narcissa, I have invited three Aurors to dinner! Harry Potter is inside for Merlin’s sake!”

Malfoy blanched.

“Let’s go somewhere else mother,” he said immediately.

“Annie, please…” pleaded Narcissa, ignoring her son. “Just let my son stay. He won’t be noticed…he has no where else to go… The…The Dark Lord is after him.”

The guilt was very apparent in Andromeda’s face but she shook her head again.

“Narcissa, I can’t.”

Andromeda made to close the door but Narcissa held it open with her hand. Narcissa gazed intently at the elder sister but Andromeda looked away.

“Do you remember Regulus, Annie?” said Narcissa slowly.

At the name of her cousin there was an immediate change in Andromeda. She made a noise as if choking back words or maybe a sob. The tension grew as Andromeda froze at the door.

“Well, Annie?” persisted Narcissa.

Andromeda swallowed and faced Narcissa again.

“Of course I do,” said Andromeda quietly.

“You’re not going to leave my son out here, are you?” continued Narcissa, her icy blue eyes not leaving her sister’s face.

Andromeda sighed and opened the door fully.

“Come in. Both of you.”

Clang!

Andromeda, Narcissa and Malfoy jumped and looked at the direction of the noise. Tonks was standing in the kitchen with her mouth hanging open and eyes wide with shock. She had dropped the second bowl of strew but she didn’t really care.

“Mum…” began Tonks.

“I’ll explain later Nymphadora,” said Andromeda hurried. “By the way, this is your Aunt and your cousin.”

Andromeda ushered the Malfoys inside, vanished the stew and pretended not to notice her daughter’s glare. Malfoy shuffled in somewhat reluctantly, his cold eyes searching for his old enemy. Tonks observed him with distaste before speaking.

“I recognized them from their wanted posters,” Tonks snapped back. “Mum-”

“Nymphadora, I’ll explain latter!” shouted Andromeda.

“Mother… I am an Auror,” said Tonks, her tone a little more serious. “I really cannot let two Death Eaters walk into my parents’ bloody house! Explain now!”

“You-Know-Who is after them and they don’t have anywhere else to go.”

Tonks groaned.

“Mum…Harry bloody Potter is eating stew in our dining room! Can you please pick a more appropriate time to let Death Eaters into the house?”

Andromeda put her hands on her hips and gave Tonks a very Bellatrix-ish look (or at least what Tonks interpreted as a go-clean-your-room-this-instant-look…) that would have made Moody squeak.

“Nymphadora Aryan Tonks!” she snarled. “Just shut up and show your Aunt and your cousin to the guestrooms!”

“Mum-”

Now!

Tonks closed her eyes for moment.

“Come on…Aunt Narcissa… Draco…” she said wearily.

Tonks climbed up the stairs and Narcissa and Andromeda followed. Malfoy took a deep breath before making to follow. Before he had gone up one step, the horrible familiar voice of Harry Potter echoed towards him. Malfoy tried to creepy up the stairs unnoticed a little too late.

“Tonks, are you there?” called Harry. “Lupin wants to know about the-”

Harry trailed off when he caught sight of Malfoy. The blonde teenager winced.

“…about…the…the…Malfoy, what the hell are you doing here?” cried Harry.

“Nice to see you too Potter,” muttered Malfoy sarcastically.

The shock wore off and made way for another emotion…anger. Harry’s fist clenched and glared at Malfoy. The last time he had seen Malfoy he had been about to murder Dumbledore. Malfoy glared right back. Just because he wasn’t loyal to Voldemort did not mean that he was going to start acting buddy-buddy with Potter…

“Malfoy, I am not in the mood for your crap right now,” snarled Harry “What are you doing here?”

Their hands found their wands. It was hard to tell which face showed more hatred.

“What are you going to do if I don’t?” sneered Malfoy. “Slash me into ribbons again?”

Harry squirmed with guilt but managed to hide it when he remembered what Malfoy almost did to him.

“What are you going to do?” retorted Harry. “Try and use the cruciatus curse on me?”

“Oh don’t get all high and mighty with me Potter,” snarled Malfoy. “You’ve done it too Potter…to Snape and Aunt Bella.”

Harry gave Malfoy a revolted look.

Aunt Bella? You call her Aunt Bella?” snarled Harry.

Malfoy opened his mouth to say something nasty but closed it.

“Okay, I’ll admit…” said Malfoy sullenly. “She’s a complete wack job but mother still makes me call her Aunt…”

Harry’s glare intensified. Malfoy trailed off and grimaced.

“Maybe if you just shut up I’ll tell what I’m doing here,” growled Malfoy.

Harry’s grip on his wand tightened.

“Just get to the point Malfoy,” he snarled.

Malfoy took a breath and began.

“Well, Snape-”

Harry’s eyes widened.

“Snape! What about-” started Harry in shock.

“How can I get to the point if you won’t even let me finish?” hissed Malfoy testily.

There was another exchange of glares. Harry’s wand raised a fraction…only a fraction. He took a deep breath.

“Alright,” said Harry with deceptive calmness. “Pray tell Malfoy... what about Snape?”

Malfoy started again. Being civil to Potter was harder than he thought.

“Snape helped my mother and I escape the Dark Lord. The Dark Lords…not very happy now that I’ve…”

Malfoy trailed off. Harry observed that he no longer looked angry or scornful. There was regret…something that Harry had never seem Malfoy show before.

“Failed to become a murderer?” supplied Harry dully.

Malfoy swallowed.

“Yeah,” he said quietly. “You were there? On the tower?”

“Get on with it, Malfoy,” said Harry, avoiding Malfoy’s glance.

“Right…well, Snape told us to hide with Aunt Andromeda and…here I am.”

Harry swallowed. He was afraid of what he was going to hear if he asked this.

“W-What side is he on?” asked Harry shakily.

Malfoy froze. Snape had tried to save him…and Malfoy wasn’t prepared to divulge any information that may be dangerous for the Professor to someone he had hated since he was eleven.

“I don’t know,” said he said finally.

Harry felt his anger flare up again.

“Damn it Malfoy, tell me!” he shouted.

“Look, I may be his student but he doesn’t tell me everything,” snarled Malfoy. “I only just found out he was a half-blood and he and your mother had a…”

Malfoy trailed off and cast a glance at Harry.

“A what?” said Harry angrily.

“Umm…”

“What about my mum!” demanded Harry.

Malfoy fidgeted. Harry looked positively murderous.

“Well, my father was being…his usual delightful self and… he made it out as if…well…use your imagination Potter!” snapped Malfoy frustratedly.

“I don’t want…” Harry paused and took a breath. “…to use my imagination. Just spell it out for me.”

“He made it out as if your mother and Professor Snape were involved,” said Malfoy hurriedly.

Harry felt his stomach twisting. It’s not what you think…

“What do you mean by-”

“How dense can you get…think…Won-Won and Brown.”

Harry’s jaw dropped. He could live with the fact Snape and his mother had once been friends… but Lavender and Ron’s relationship had been somewhat more than friendly. Malfoy found himself smirking with satisfaction at the look of pure disgust on Harry’s face.

“Malfoy…are you sure…that …Snape and…”

Harry trailed off at the sound of someone walking towards them. Without thinking, Harry pulled his invisibility cloak out of his pocket. He shoved Malfoy against the wall and threw his cloak over him. The moment he had done so, McGonagall came striding towards him.

“Have you seen Nymphadora, Potter?” she asked. “Moody wanted to talk to her about the new security system the Ministry is building.”

“No,” said Harry impassively. “I’m going to look for her.”

McGonagall nodded and walked off. Harry seized his cloak and yanked it off a very messy looking Malfoy.

“Where’s your mother?” snarled Harry.

Malfoy determinedly flattened his now ruffled blonde hair and scowled at Harry,

“Why should I tell you?” he snarled back. “You were just about ready to curse her last time you saw her!”

“Unless you want me to call McGonagall right back…” said Harry dangerously.

“Fine!” hissed Malfoy.

Malfoy strode upstairs, seething. Hearing voices in one of the rooms, Malfoy opened one of the bedroom doors. Inside the neat, little room were Narcissa, Andromeda and Tonks. Tonks’ eyes widened when she saw Harry. Narcissa swallowed.

“Potter,” she said quietly.

Harry did not waste time with introductions.

“Where’s Snape?” he said, struggling to keep his voice from rising.

Andromeda turned to look at Narcissa in surprise. Narcissa cast a glance at her before answering.

“I don’t know,” she said.

Harry felt his temper flare up again. His grip on his wand was so tight it was leaving welts in his palms.

“Would you tell me if you did?” he snarled.

“No,” she said a little loudly.

Narcissa raised her head up a little higher and her resemblance to Bellatrix Lestrange became even more striking.

“Severus is…and remains to this day loyal to the Order of the Phoenix.”

Chapter 9: Reasons
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Dedication: I usually dedicate my fics to mum...but since Jay started the site and has left us... *tear*...he can have this chapter. :-)

Author’s Note: The plan was to finish this rewrite before Deathly Hallows (so that my theories don’t seem quite so stupid for a while) but that plan isn’t going so well because there’s still…fifteen more chapters (I cannot write 15000+ words in two weeks) and I really wanted to update this today but I updated this rather late at night so there will be mistakes that will fix up…

…that I will fix up…err…need to go to bed. Good Night. *falls asleep on keyboard*





Reasons


After Narcissa had made her shattering statement, Tonks swore loudly and earned herself a glare from Andromeda. Harry shook his head in disbelief.

“He can’t be loyal to the Order!” shouted Harry. “He killed Dumbledore! I saw him do it!”

At this, Narcissa suddenly seemed nervous. She cast a glance at Andromeda before continuing.

“He had no choice,” said Narcissa uncertainly. “I…”

She closed her eyes and when she spoke again her words rushed out of her.

“I…I made him make the Unbreakable Vow…” she whispered. “…that if Draco failed…he’d…do his task for him.”

It took a minute for this statement to sink in. Narcissa Malfoy was the reason Dumbledore was dead…and here she was.

Narcissa took a step back as she came face to face with the tip of Harry’s wand. Harry felt the blood pounding in his head. He had not felt this angry since he had chased down Snape. Tonks pulled out her own wand with a cry.

“Harry, no!” shouted Tonks.

Harry ignored her.

“She’s the reason Dumbledore is dead!” he snarled.

Narcissa flinched as a few sparks shot out of Harry’s wand. Malfoy started towards him with his fist clenched on his wand. He swore loudly as Tonks disarmed him.

“Don’t move Malfoy!” she snarled.

Tonks turned to Harry again and trained her wand at him.

“Harry, put your bloody wand down or I will hex you!”

When Harry did not comply, Tonks sent a jet of red sparks at his hand. Harry yelped with pain and his wand went soaring out of his hand and into Tonks.

“Tonks!” he shouted angrily.

Tonks kept her wand pointed at Harry. Her hair was flashing black again and, for the first time Harry could remember, her resemblance to her mother…and to her aunt… became very apparent. There had always been a resemblance to Bellatrix but Harry had simply never seen it before.

“We are not going to start dueling in my parents’ spare bedroom,” said Tonks acidly. “Understood?”

Tonks lowered her wand. Andromeda cast a glance at her.

“Especially not with two Aurors and the Headmistress of Hogwats within hearing range,” muttered Andromeda.

Andromeda flicked her wand at the door and murmured a quick silencing charm.

“Right, now you can be as loud as you like,” she murmured. “Cissy, I think you owe us an explanation.”

Her words were calmly spoken and devoid of emotion but Harry saw the hurt and anger that flashed in her eyes. When Narcissa spoke, she turned to Andromeda and seemed to only be speaking to her. It was clear that she didn’t care what Harry thought of her.

It only mattered what Andromeda thought.

“I had to choose between Albus Dumbledore and my son,” said Narcissa looking at the sister who was refusing to look back.

When Andromeda made no response, Narcissa turned to Harry.

“Your mother would have done the same had you been in Draco’s position,” she said coldly. “As would any mother.”

After a long silence, Andromeda finally turned to look at her sister again. She gave her a single nod of approval and understanding.

Harry was filled with turmoil. He had seen Malfoy in Moaning Mrytle’s bathroom… he knew how threatened they had been. Dumbledore’s death he could understand…though never forgive.

But then another memory rose to the surface of his mind. In Dumbledore’s office…after Sirius had died.

“What about Sirius?” he whispered.

This time Andromeda turned to stare at Narcissa in horror. Harry didn’t think it was possible for Narcissa to go any paler but he was wrong. At Harry’s words she almost turned completely white.

“Cissy?” breathed Andromeda.

Narcissa stared at Harry as though he had just materialized there.

“What are you taking about Potter?” she hissed.

It was Narcissa’s claim of ignorance that drove Harry over the edge once more.

“You told the Death Eaters that he was my godfather!” shouted Harry. “You told them that they should use him as bait!”

To everyone’s surprise, it was Narcissa who lost her temper this time. She took a menacing step towards Harry.

“I had nothing to do with Sirius’ death!” she snarled. “How dare you even suggest-”

Andromeda seized Narcissa’s arm and gave her a warning look. Harry paid no attention to Narcissa’s anger and carried on recklessly.

“Kreacher told Dumbledore that he went to you!” said Harry acidly. “You told the Death Eaters that Sirius was my godfather!”

Narcissa violent shrugged Andromeda’s hand off hers. She looked like she was about to draw her wand but Tonks glared at her and her long, pale fingers twitched before falling limply to her side.

“I suppose Kreacher neglected to tell you that Lucius was with me when he was giving us the information?” snarled Narcissa.

“That’s no excuse!” said Harry angrily. “Just because you couldn’t stand up to your Death Eater husband-”

Harry was cut off when Malfoy shoved him hard in the ribs. He staggered and caught his balance.

“Don’t talk to my mother like that, Potter!” snarled Malfoy furiously. “You don’t know a damn thing about-”

Malfoy stopped abruptly when Tonks pointed her wand at him.

“Back off Malfoy…” snarled Tonks. “Calm down Harry!”

But Harry would not calm down. Narcissa was still even whiter with fury before him. It was her fault… it was all her fault…

“You didn’t seem so sorry about Sirius’ death when I saw in Madam Malkins!”

Narcissa laughed. The laugh really did not suit the thin, pale woman and made her sound a little mad.

“You and your little friends having been hexing my son when he left the train two years in a row!” said Narcissa incredulously. “Did you expect me to fall upon you and condole you like everyone-“

“Err…mother?”

Narcissa anger fell from her face and she turned to look at a rather guilty looking Malfoy in suprise. He shuffled on the spot. Harry found his anger fading and a smirk forming on his face. There was something gratifying about watching Malfoy telling his mother what an idiot he had been at school.

“I more or less started the first fight…” muttered Malfoy. “And the second fight was me trying to defend… father so… yeah.”

Narcissa froze. She opened her mouth and closed it.

“My comments at Madam Malkin’s were uncalled for,” she said stiffly. “I was trying to hurt you where it hurt most and…I’m sorry.”

An apology from a Malfoy…Had hell frozen over yet?

Harry suddenly felt very awkward. He had just received an apology from a woman he had pointed a wand and shouted at (though she had not been so hospitable to him either). He could not forgive Narcissa Malfoy…but he could be civil.

“And…err…what I said about…your husband…umm…I suppose I was doing the same thing you were.”

Narcissa shook her head.

“What you said was true,” said Narcissa softly, ignoring the look that her son was giving her. “If I had stood up to Lucius maybe we’d be arguing with Sirius as well.”

It then became apparent to Harry that he was not the only one who would never forgive Narcissa.

She would never forgive herself either.

Harry shook his head…he couldn’t believe he was even considering this.

“I won’t tell McGonagall you’re here…” he said quietly. “But you need to give Tonks all the information you can…under the influence of Veritaserum…just in case.”

Narcissa nodded. All eyes turned to Malfoy who had not agreed yet. He looked from his mother, to his cousin and to his aunt and shrugged.

“Yeah fine…” muttered Malfoy. “The Dark Lord already wants to kill me anyway.”

They all jumped at someone from down stairs called out Tonks’ name. With a start, Harry realized how long they had been upstairs. What if someone had come looking for them?

“We’d better go,” said Andromeda quickly. “Stay here Cissy.”

Narcissa didn’t need telling twice. Andromeda cast a glance at her as she left the room. Harry and a very shaky Tonks followed her. Her usually bright pink hair was starting to look a little brown and not so bright. She looked rather sick.

“You right?” muttered Harry, as they walked back downstairs.

“I don’t know what to do…” mumbled Tonks in a panicky rush. “Mum trusts them…Scrimgeour’s after them…Voldemort’s after them …and what they said about Snape…then there’s Remus…oh Merlin, Remus…and McGonagall’s after them”

Tonks suddenly had a very angry look on her face.

“…and I’m sure the dementor will be thrilled to find out that her comments about me being a Black and a Death Eater have grounds.”

Harry stopped walking and frowned at Tonks. She certainly hadn’t been her usually bubbly self lately.

“Kit’s alright Tonks,’ he said. “You just got off on a really…really bad foot.”

“Like you and the Malfoys?” said Tonks with raised eyebrows.

Harry grimaced

“Malfoy’s an idiot…” he snapped. “He may be sorry that he’s an idiot but he’s still an idiot.”

Tonks gave a small, bitter laugh.

“Let’s swap relatives,” said Tonks with a grimace to match Harry’s. “I can have the Dursleys and you can have the Malfoys…maybe I can trade in Bellatrix for your Aunt Marge?”

Harry had a horrible vision of Dudley in wizards robes and a wand. He had another image of Bellatrix grinning as she held Ripper's leash. Harry winced and shook his head.

“Nah Tonks…they’re all yours.”



Chapter 10: Into the Ministry
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Author’s Note: I borrowed Katherine’s surname off Beauty and the Beast… the guy who runs the mental institution. *shrugs* I play him in the school production.

My quest to complete this story before the seventh book comes out is failing and I know it’s getting a little slow…but there will be some action in the next chapter and then it speeds up a bit!




Into the Ministry


Tonks got up when it was still bitterly cold and dark and made her way towards the kitchen. She was not surprised at all to see Narcissa already sitting there, clutching a cup of tea in her pale hands. Tonks made her way towards her but tripped over nothing in particular and almost knocked the cup in her Aunt’s hands. It wasn’t exactly the impression Tonks was hoping to make. She was going for tough-yet-trustworthy Auror, not bumbling-and-clumsy niece. After she had steadied herself, Tonks took a breath and forced herself to speak.

“Well,” said Tonks with forced cheerfulness. “Wotcher Aunt Cissy.”

Narcissa did not return her greeting and chose to avoid Tonks’ gaze. She merely stared into the cup.

“Do you have the Veritaserum?” she whispered.

Someone clearly wants to get to the point…

Tonks raised her eyebrows. She sat down opposite Narcissa and produced a tiny vial of clear liquid from her robes.

“Do you mind?” asked Tonks, gesturing to Narcissa’s tea.

Narcissa shook her head and Tonks uncorked the vial and dropped three drops of the clear liquid into her cup.

“Let’s begin with what you’re best acquainted with,” said Tonks. “Lucius Malfoy… how much do you know about him?”

Narcissa pursed her lips.

“More than anyone,” she said quietly.

Narcissa said no more and was clear reluctant to speak. Tonks grimaced and slammed the vial onto the table. Narcissa flinched.

“Look,” said Tonks sharply. “I know you were married to the man for twenty years…but he’s a bloody Death Eater! You must tell me what you know!”

Suddenly, all of Lucius Malfoy’s secrets spilled out of Narcissa in a rush. She spoke until she had given Tonks everything she knew about her husband and that was more than enough to sentence him to life in Azkaban, if not the Dementor’s Kiss. When she was done, Narcissa buried her face into her hands and sobbed. Tonks sat there, frozen, not sure what to do.

“Umm…Aunt Cissy?” she mumbled. “Are you alright?”

Narcissa looked up and started to wipe her eyes furiously.

“I-I’m sorry,” croaked Narcissa, her voice hoarse from talking. “Don’t know what came over me.”

Tonks fidgeted in her seat.

“Do you want to talk a bit more or do you... want to wait a bit?” she asked awkwardly.

Narcissa shook her head.

“N-No…I’ll keep talking.”

Tonks leaned forward slightly.

“What you said about Snape,” she said, dropping her voice subconsciously. “Is he a loyal to Voldemort or not?”

“He is a Death Eater. I cannot deny that,” said Narcissa, “but he was willing to put himself in danger for myself and my son. He told us to come to you.”

Tonks’ mouth dropped at that last statement. She shook her head in disbelief.

“That does not make him loyal to the Order,” she muttered. “He killed Albus Dumbledore.”

Narcissa raised her head a little higher

“I forced his hand,” said Narcissa as loudly as she could with her hoarse voice. “He made the Unbreakable Vow and he can’t have refused without incriminating himself in front of my sister.”

“Any other member of the Order would have died rather than harm Dumbledore!” said Tonks loudly. “He… you can’t imagine how…”

Tonks trailed off and rested her head in her hands.

“Dumbledore…he always knew how to make it better. It was so easy to forget about the war and be...bubbly and happy all the time,” she said quietly. “No one can replace him.”

Tonks sighed and looked up again.

“I’ll tell Professor McGonagall what you’ve said but-”

“No,” said Narcissa suddenly.

Tonks starred.

“Excuse me?” she asked incredulously.

“Do not tell that woman what you know of Severus,” said Narcissa sharply. “That man saved my family… I will not give his secrets to someone who wants nothing more than his painful demise.”

Tonks shook her head violently, her mouth agape.

“No...No, I can’t lie to Professor McGonagall... not about this!” she shouted, horrified. “She’s our leader!”

Narcissa smirked.

“You’re a Black, Nymphadora…whether you like it or not,” she said. “Deception is what we’re good at.”

Narcissa delicately pushed a lock of hair behind her ears.

“And besides... you are not lying. You’re just concealing certain facts.”

“I seriously doubt Professor McGonagall will see it that way,” said Tonks loudly.

Narcissa pursed her lips.

“Nymphadora please,” she said pleadingly. “Severus’ safety depends on it.”

Tonks groaned in frustration.

“It’s not like Professor McGonagall can stroll up to Voldemort and mention Snape’s apparent disloyalty over a game of chess!”

“She’s a resourceful woman,” said Narcissa calmly. “I don’t doubt she already has another spy within the Dark Lord’s circle.”

“If Snape is really loyal to the Order like you said he is do you really think McGonagall will betray him to Voldemort?” cried Tonks.

Narcissa looked Tonks dead in the eye.

“Do you really think she won’t?” she asked quietly.

Tonks did not have an answer to that. There was a moment’s silence.

“What about Voldemort himself?” asked Tonks finally. “What do you know about him?”

Tonks noticed that Narcissa jumped a little at Voldemort’s name.

“His forces are stronger than you can imagine…” continued Narcissa huskily. “The giants have chosen his side and he is more powerful than ever. The first war was nothing…He’s getting ready for the final strike.”

Tonks caught her breath. This was bad news…

“Where will he strike?” asked Tonks.

Narcissa took a breath before answering.

“Wherever it will hurt the most,” she said gravely. “London, Diagon Alley, the Ministry…”

Narcissa swallowed and closed her eyes.

“I’m afraid that’s all I know,” she breathed.

Tonks nodded and looked at Malfoy as he arrived in the kitchen. He had a very sour look on his face. Pleasantries like ‘good mornings’ and ‘hello’ were not exchanged between the cousins.

“So Malfoy…” said Tonks rather abruptly. “Do you have any information?”

Tonks tossed him the vial of Veritaserum. Malfoy uncorked it and let three drops fall into his mouth so Tonks could see.

“I wasn’t exactly high up on the pecking order,” said Malfoy bitterly as put the cork back. “I was only told what I needed to know. Mother told you everything I knew.”

Malfoy did not sit at the table when he was done speaking. He leaned against the wall and shot Tonks a nasty glare.

“So when do you tell your mates at the ministry that we’re here?” he hissed.

Tonks met Malfoy’s gaze without looking away.

“I’m not going to,” she said firmly.

Malfoy snorted.

“I’m not an idiot you know…” he snarled. “You’re an Auror…that’s your job.”

After a moment’s hesitation, Tonks raised her hand up and gestured to the vial. Malfoy frowned as he tossed it back to her. Tonks pulled open the cork and drank the remaining few drops. Malfoy’s mouth opened in surprise. Tonks shook herself as the Veritaserum took effect and spoke up loudly.

“Malfoy…If you’re really not Death Eaters I won’t turn you in,” she said. “You have my word.”

Malfoy looked at the floor and grimaced. He clearly had not expected Tonks to drink the Veritaserum. Tonks gave him a half-hearted smile before getting to her feet.

“Right…I need to go,” she said. “I’ve got to escort two teenagers to get their apparating license.”

Malfoy’s grimace turned into a sneer.

“Tell Potter and Weasley I wish them good luck,” drawled Malfoy in a tone that told Tonks he wished for the exact opposite.

This time, Tonks glared at him.

“Shut up Malfoy,” she snapped.

Malfoy shrugged. Narcissa looked from her son to her niece and a small smile formed on her pale face.

“You two remind me of them,” said Narcissa as her smile began to widen.

Malfoy and Tonks turned to look at Narcissa in surprise.

“Who?” asked Tonks with a frown.

Narcissa twitched as the Veritaserum wore off and shook her head.

“Never mind…it was a very long time ago.”

*


Harry found Tonks waiting for him downstairs. He had a very unpleasant feeling in his stomach...not unlike the feeling one gets after using floo powder.

“Wotcher Harry,” said Tonks with a weary smile.

Harry looked around to see if anyone was watching before dropping his voice to a whisper.

“Did they tell you anything?” he muttered.

Tonks frowned at him.

“Harry, you’re not a member of the Order,” she said crossly.

“But I know about them and the Order doesn’t,” retorted Harry.

Tonks jerked her head in agreement and spoke up reluctantly.

“They did give information…” she murmured. “A whole lot of it.”

“About?”

“No Harry.”

“Fine then,” said Harry with a scowl.

Tonks smirked at the look on his face.

“Anyway…before you take on all the forces of evil you need to learn how to apparate,” she said. “Oh…Wotcher Ron.”

Ron walked downstairs, paler than Kit, and responded by squeaking.

“Don’t worry, it’s easy,” said Tonks with a smile, giving a reassuring pat on the back.

Ron gulped and nodded. Harry’s heart gave a jolt when Ginny joined them downstairs and gave him a smile

“Good luck,” she said quietly.

“Thanks Ginny…” croaked Ron. “I’ll need it.”

Ginny raised her eyebrows at her petrified brother.

“Not you Ron…I was talking to Harry,” teased Ginny. “You’ll need a miracle.”

Ron moaned and Ginny punch him in the shoulder.

“Come on Ron…I’m joking,” she said, giving him the same smile she gave Harry. “Just get over those nerves and you’ll be right.”

While Ginny was still comforting Ron, they were joined by McGonagall and Kit. Kit cast a cold glance at Tonks before speaking.

“I need to accompany you,” said Kit.

“And why are you coming?” snapped Tonks.

Kit closed her eyes as though begging for patience and bit back her angry response.

“I need to speak to the Minister,” she said frostily.

“About?”

Kit ground her teeth and Harry shivered. The temperature had definitely dropped a few degrees.

“I’m sorry…at what point exactly was that your concern?” snarled Kit.

“It became my concern when you when you got your best mate to tattoo your arm.”

McGonagall shot Kit and Tonks angry looks but they were too angry themselves to pay any notice.

“The Dark Lord and I are hardly best mates, Black,” spat Kit. “You are the most despicable-”

“Can you two just…shut up?” shouted Ginny.

Kit and Tonks jumped in alarm and turned to glare at Ginny. Harry gave Ginny a warning look. He had been on the receiving end of Kit’s fury and Tonks’ hexes once and he certainly did not want that for Ginny. She ignored him and continued on recklessly.

“I know you two hate each other but you’re pissing the rest of us off! Can you please just save the fight for another day?”

Kit and Tonks continued to glare at Ginny and she met their glares with an angry one of her own. Soon, both Kit and Tonks look away. Both the half-dementor and the Auror looked rather embarrassed.

“Well, are you coming or what?” muttered Tonks.

“Yeah…” mumbled Kit.

McGonagall spoke up and if Harry didn’t know better he’d swear that the headmistress was hiding a smile.

“Katherine, be sure to inform the Minister…only what he needs to know,” she said.

“Yes Professor,” said Kit, avoiding her eyes.

Tonks and Kit rushed out of the Burrow leaving behind a smirking Ginny.

“I rather enjoyed that,” said she as they left.

“I would usually reprimand you for cursing…but somehow I think they needed that,” said McGonagall with one of her rare smiles.

Mrs. Weasley, who had just entered, clearly didn’t share McGonagall’s attitude.

“You’re in trouble young lady,” she snarled.

Ginny winced and nodded. Harry glanced at her before heading outside with Ron.

*


When they arrived at the Ministry, they met Mr. Weasley at his office. Mr. Weasley looked rather tired (tired enough not to notice that Tonks and Kit were close to hexing each other) but he greeted them warmly. Harry had scarcely seen him at the Burrow so he assumed that his job had become even more demanding.

“Righto,” said Mr. Weasley sleepily. “Ron, you come with me…your appointment is a bit later than Harry’s…Harry, can go meet Twycross with Nymphadora and Katherine.”

Tonks’ mouth twitched at the mention of her name but she decided to let it go. Ron nodded and followed his father in rather robotic like manner. Harry winced. Ron had never handled nerves quite well.

Harry followed Tonks and Kit into the elevator and then to another small office. At this point, Harry felt slightly nauseous. He had never been brilliant at apparating. The door opened to reveal a red haired man with horn-rimmed glasses.

It Percy Weasley.

“You?” said Harry a little rudely.

Percy winced apologetically.

“Twycross is…ill,” he explained. “Err…hello Miss Tonks. Hello…Miss D’Arque, isn’t it? I’ve seen you in the Auror’s office.”

Harry looked at Kit in surprise. He had never heard her last name. Tonks frowned at Kit but the half-dementor ignored her and stared determinedly at Percy.

“I don’t go by my mother’s name Mr. Weasley,” she said through clenched teeth. “Katherine will do.”

Percy nodded.

“Twycross didn’t seem ill yesterday,” said Tonks with a frown.

“Dementor attack,” muttered Percy. “They’re rather nasty creatures…the ministry has its hands full with them.”

Tonks made a small noise in her throat and Kit flushed.

“Shut up, Black!” hissed Kit so Percy could not hear.

Percy was either oblivious to the hostility between the two women or he was choosing to ignore it.

“You may pick up Mister Potter after the examination in about…half an hour say?” he said, checking his watch.

Tonks exchanged glances with Harry. She was not about to leave him on his own with a politician…especially this one.

“Surely I can’t accompany him?” she asked.

Percy shuffled uncomfortably

“It’s not necessary I assure you.”

“I want her to come with me,” said Harry loudly.

Percy took a deep breath.

“Harry, truth be told, I wish to have a word with you about…other matters,” said Percy, wringing his hands.

Harry hesitated before nodding.

“Watch out for him,” muttered Tonks under her breath.

Harry nodded and followed Percy into his office. He cast one last glance at Tonks and Kit before the doors closed shut. Percy’s office was rather boring…post-it notes with reminders were levitating around the desk that had neatly arranged files piled onto it. Harry barely spared it a glance before talking.

“So Percy…you wanted to talk to me?” he asked coldly.

Percy sat down at the desk and motion for Harry to take the seat opposite.

“Potter…Harry...” he said hesitantly. “I wish to apologise to you for my behaviour and attitude towards you over the past two years.”

Harry frowned.

I’ve been getting a lot of unexpected apologies lately, he thought. First Narcissa Malfoy…then again, this may be another plot to get me to play Ministry poster boy.

Percy took Harry’s silence as an invitation to continue.

“I was certainly being foolish with all that business about You-Know-Who rising again… and where Delores Umbridge was concerned.”

“Has she fallen out of your good books then?” sneered Harry.

Percy abandoned his composure and slouched. He looked at Harry from over his horned rimmed glasses.

“The old toad is a bloody nightmare,” he growled.

Harry let out a laugh of disbelief. Hearing Percy criticise a high ranking ministry official was down right weird and rather amusing.

“Took you long enough to figure that one out,” smirked Harry.

Percy nodded and rubbed his temples with his fingers.

“I think the message sunk in when she came up to me dressed in one of those ridiculous pink cardigans, gave me this cramped office and made me replace Twycross,” muttered Percy. “So…Will you accept my apology?”

Percy extended his hand to Harry. He had never been a good actor and judging by the way he had spoken of Umbridge…Harry thought that he had finally learnt his lesson.

“Alright Percy,” said Harry, shaking his hand.

Harry caught sight of something on Percy’s desk. It was an invitation in gold writing...to Bill and Fleur’s wedding.

“Are you going?” asked Harry quietly.

Percy hastily seized the invitation and stuffed it unceremoniously into his robes.

“I haven’t decided yet…There’s been a lot going on in the ministry and I may not make it...” Percy trailed off.

“They’re your family,” said Harry sharply.

“I…truth be told…I do not think…”

Percy sighed.

“I haven’t exactly been the best son in the world,” he said quietly. “I’m sure they’ll be just fine without me.”

After a moment’s silence, Percy cleared his throat.

“Let’s get to business shall we?” he said abruptly. “You’re applying for your apparition license?”

“Erm…yeah,” muttered Harry.

Harry fought the urge to groan. Percy had the look on his face he always did when he was about to have a lecture.

“Apparation is a serious business…”

Harry felt his head nod as Percy continued to drone on.

“…risk of splinching…”

It was rather cold in the office.

“…muggles…”

The people on the ministry issued calendar that hung on Percy’s wall looked bored too.

“…damage to ear drums…”

Harry yawned.

“…struck in trees...”

Harry was starring off into space when he noticed that Percy had stopped talking. He looked up in alarm. He didn’t absorb a single thing that Percy had said and Percy was completely oblivious to it.

“That’s done,” said he brightly. “Nothing left but the examination.”

.Oh no…

“Er…what do I have to do?” muttered Harry.

Percy flicked his wand and two golden circles appeared on the ground.

“It’s simple enough…just apparate from that hoop into the other.”

Harry took a deep breath and stood in one of the hoops.

The D’s…determination…destination…what was the other one again? Okay, that's not helping...

Harry bit his lip. Mustering all the concentration he possibly could, he closed his eyes and spun around. When he opened his eyes…he was in the other hoop.

“Congratulations Potter,” said Percy. “You passed.”

*


Harry almost skipped out of Percy’s office. Tonks was no where to be seen but Kit was standing outside a rather impressive looking office. Before Harry could reach her, someone opened the office and stood outside. She was dressed in pink and her face was toad-like and horribly familiar.

“Delores Umbridge,” said the woman with what was clearly a forced smile. “I believe we’ve already met. Do come in.”

Harry frowned. Kit was a half-dementor. Why was Umbridge being so…nice? What was that old toad up to? Harry found the invisibility cloak in his pocket and put it on. There was no way he was leaving Kit to the mercy of Delore Umbridge.

As Umbridge opened the door for Kit, Harry slipped inside unnoticed. Kit, although she did not notice Harry’s presence, was equally wary. Harry crept up behind Umbridge’s desk.

“Err…I was told this was the Minister’s Office,” said Kit, sparing a glance at Umbridge’s pink doilies. “I was clearly misinformed…but I need to speak with him immediately.”

“He’s not here,” simpered Umbridge with deceptive sweetness. “Surely I could pass it on?”

“Forgive me but my information is for the Minister’s ear alone,” said Kit, raising her voice slightly.

“Don’t you trust me Katherine?”

Kit went slightly pink…not that it was very noticeable in this particular office.

“I must give it to him directly,” said Kit, clearly avoiding the question. “If he’s not here then I shall return at a later date.”

Umbridge’s smile widened.

“Well don’t leave so soon,” she smiled. “Have some tea.”

Harry almost gasped as he remembered what Umbridge had done to his tea back at Hogwarts. Blowing all caution to the winds, Harry lifted up his cloak slightly so Kit could just see him and waved for her attention. When he saw her eyes widened in shock, Harry ran his finger significantly across his throat and mouthed ‘Veritaserum’ as obviously as he possibly could. Thankfully Kit was very quick on the uptake and looked away from Harry.

“No thank you,” she said impassively.

Umbridge’s falsely sweet smile twitched for a moment.

“I insist!”

Suddenly the door burst open to reveal a man with a mane like beard and a scarred face…Rufus Scrimgeour. Umbridge went pale as he caught her eye.

“Delores…I see you’ve met Katherine,” he said quietly. “Would you mind excusing us?”

Without uttering another word, Umbridge practically fled her office.

“Minister,” said Kit with a nod.

Scrimgeour nodded back.

“Did you…tell Minerva what happened at the meeting?” he asked, dropping his voice so Harry could barely here.

Kit’s eyes flashed.

“Only what she needed to know sir,” she said impassively.

“You’ve done well,” he said with a nod.

He turned to leave but Kit took a step towards him and he stopped.

“Sir…may I ask you something?” asked Kit hesitantly.

Scrimgeour looked at Kit inquiringly and she continued.

“When I agreed to be spy…you promised me something…if you don’t intend to keep your promise…I’d like to know.”

Scrimgeour sighed.

“Don’t you trust me Katherine?”

Kit avoided his eyes when she spoke.

“With all do respect…I trusted Professor Snape sir…and I’ve had many promises made to me.”

Scrimgeour gazed at her intently.

“Would it affect you decision if I told you that you had to return to Azkaban when this was all over?”

Kit twitched but her face remained as impassive as ever.

“No sir.”

“Why not?”

A small smile appeared on Kit’s face but she still avoided Scrimgeour’s face.

“Professor Dumbledore would have expected better of me, sir.”

Harry found himself smiling too.

“He was a good man,” said Scrimgeour.

Kit shook her head.

“No sir...He was the best man.”

“Katherine, I do not know about your dealing with Cornelius… but if I will be true to my word,” he said firmly. “The ministry has treated you poorly in the past…but while I am Minister, it will not happen again. You will not return to Azkaban.”

Kit’s smiled and she met Scrimgeour’s eyes.

“Thank you sir,” she said softly. This means everything to me.”

Scrimgeour nodded gruffly and left Kit…supposedly... alone. When the minister was gone, Kit turned to where she had seen Harry last and smirked.

“Come on Potter… I think I know why Professor Snape called you a nosy little brat now.”

Harry removed his cloak and glared at her.

“Hey, I was just worried about you being alone with that old toad,” he said defensively.

Kit raised her eyebrows at Harry.

“I deal with the Dark Lord almost every day and you’re worried about me when I’m with Delores Umbridge?”

“Actually…yeah I am.”

They walked out of the office and Harry cast a glance at Kit.

“You told him that you keeping information from McGonagall,” he said quietly.

Kit shrugged.

“That’s the problem with being a spy…nobody knows your true allegiance but you yourself.”

A smile twitched on Harry’s face.

“I think I know,” he said.

“Do you really, Potter?” said Kit with a rather sinister smile.

Harry’s smile turned into a grimace. Kit had a habit of occasionally freaking him out.

“I said that I think I know,” he mumbled.

Kit laughed her strange echoic laugh.

“Come on…we need to find Ron and Black,” said Kit.

Harry frowned at Kit.

“Tonks…she’s a Tonks,” he said sternly.

Kit scowled.

“Whatever her name is…”


Chapter 11: A Proper Lesson
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Harry was running. A jet of red sparks shot past his head. He lost his balance and fell to the floor. Harry pointed his wand at his mystery assailant and uttered a curse but it soared back towards him.

“Blocked again, and again, and again until you learn to keep you mouth shut and you mind closed, Potter!”


Harry woke up with a start. Gasping for breath and shivering in the cold, he squinted in the darkness and fumbled for his glasses.

“Mate, you up yet?” called Ron from outside.

Harry crawled out of bed and pulled on one of Mrs. Weasley’s woollen jumpers.

“Umm…yeah, come in,” he shouted back.

Ron and Hermione walked into the room. Ron was as clueless as ever but Hermione frowned at him.

“Are you alright Harry?” she asked shrewdly.

“I’m fine…” said Harry shakily.

Hermione looked around the room and locked the door with a flick of her wand. Harry got the idea and muttered ‘muffliato’ under his breath. Ron checked the door for extendable ears and eyes before leaning against the wall.

“Well,” said Hermione. “I’ve done some thinking about the horcruxes…I think now would be a good time to start looking.”

Hermione seated herself on the bed and dropped her voice to a whisper.

“The things Katherine is telling McGonagall…” she murmured. “Things are getting really bad now.”

Harry’s shoulders slouched.

“We need to figure out where these horcruxes are,” said Harry. “I-I don’t know enough about Voldemort…”

“They could be anywhere,” said Ron hopelessly. “We can’t search the whole country for them!”

Hermione shot Ron a glance and rolled her eyes.

“Ronald,” said Hermione impatiently. “He’s not going to hide his Horcruxes in a dust bin. It has to be special to him.”

Ron shuffled uncomfortably. Harry started pacing around the room.

“What about his uncle’s place?” murmured Ron. “That bloke, Morfin?”

Harry groaned and stopped pacing.

“Dumbledore already found a horcrux there, remember?” he said loudly.

Ron mumbled something and fell silent. Harry leaned against the wall opposite him and covered his face with his hand. As the uncomfortable silence grew, a horrible memory came to the surface of Harry’s mind.

Cedric Diggory’s body lay lifeless on the floor. He was bound to the tombstone…Voldemort was laughing his cold laugh.

“Harry?” said Hermione hesitantly.

Harry snapped out of his trace.

“The graveyard…” he murmured.

Hermione blinked, uncomprehending.

“What?” asked Ron blankly.

Harry swallowed and faced his two friends.

“The graveyard where he rose again,” said Harry.

He sat heavily on the bed next to Hermione.

“That has to be pretty important to him,” he said darkly. “It’s a place to start.”

Ron stood up straight.

“Well, what are we waiting for?” asked Ron. “Come on!”

Hermione jumped to her feet and followed him. Harry didn’t move. He had never felt so…unprepared. At school he had always jumped into any situation, no matter what the danger.

But it was different now. He wasn’t a kid anymore.

“Wait!” he shouted at Ron and Hermione.

They turned to him in alarm and stared. Ron still had his hand on the doorknob.

“Before we start looking I want to do something first,” said Harry hesitantly.

Hermione exchanged glances with Ron and looked at Harry, even more worried than she had been before.

“What?” asked Hermione. “What could be more important?”

Harry took a breath. Here goes…

“I’m going to ask Kit to teach me Occlumency.”

Ron’s jaw dropped and Hermione’s eyes bulged. Harry looked around the room nervously. Well, say something…

“Harry, she’s a spy!” burst out Hermione suddenly. “What if she finds out about the horcruxes? How is she going to hide that from Volde…oh shut up Ron…Voldemort?”

“I’ll work something out!” insisted Harry. “Look, I trust her.”

Hermione closed her eyes and shook her head. When she finally managed to calm herself she spoke up.

“Harry, just be careful,” said Hermione slowly. I know you trust her but…”

“But what?” snapped Harry.

Hermione caught Harry’s arm and looked at him earnestly.

“Listen Harry, I heard Tonks talking about her,” she whispered. “She said something about…about the Dementor’s Kiss.”

Harry froze with shock. When Hermione’s words had settled in, she shook his head and got to his feet.

“Kit, wouldn’t do that,” he said firmly.

*


Harry found Kit downstairs. She was rubbing her left forearm unconsciously and looking intently at one of the scribbled crayon drawings Mrs. Weasley had hung up in the house.

“Hey Kit,” said Harry.

Kit turned around and gave him her faint smile.

“Hello Harry,” said Kit.

Harry looked at the picture Kit was so interested in. It was a very colourful picture with red, purple and green squiggles and smudges and two stick figures with big smile drawn in blue. ‘Fed and Gorg’ had been printed in the corner by childish, unsteady hands.

“Is that one your favourite?” asked Harry with a smirk.

Kit grinned and nodded.

“Was he always so mischievous?” she asked with her strange laugh.

Harry frowned. Which twin was Kit talking about?

“Err…both of them are,” he said. “I can barely tell them apart.”

“George is the quiet one I think,” said Kit softly.

Harry fought the urge to raise his eyebrows. Oh…that twin.

“If you say so,” mumbled Harry with a shrug. “Umm…Kit, could you do me a favour?”

Kit looked at Harry curiously over her shoulder.

“Sure.”

Harry shuffled on his feet.

“I was wondering…with you being a spy and all…you’d be pretty good at duelling right?”

Kit turned to face him completely. Her smile had turned into a frown.

“What’s this about Potter?” she said harshly.

Harry almost winced. Kit could certainly be very intimidating when she wanted to be and that certainly did not make his task any easier.

“Do you think you could… teach me?”

Kit’s jaw dropped.

“Me?” whispered Kit in surprise. “But…”

Kit fell silent. She was far more shocked than Harry would have expected.

”And Occlumency as well?” asked Harry, taking advantage of Kit’s silence.

After a brief pause, Kit ran her fingers through her wispy hair.

“Harry…I-I could but…” said Kit uncertainly. “Why me?”

“Snape taught you, didn’t he?” muttered Harry quietly.

Kit nodded wordlessly as Harry continued.

“Well, Snape tried to teach me…” he mumbled, “…but it didn’t work out so well and then he…”

“Turned out to be a traitor,” finished Kit dully.

There was another pause.

“Yeah, he did,” said Harry, “but he knew what he was doing.”

Kit finally looked up at Harry, her grey pale, eyes devoid of warm.

“I’ll do it.”

*


The next day, Harry met Kit in the Weasley’s orchard where they would not be disturbed. Kit flicked out her wand and twirled it between her thin fingers.

“Shall we begin?” asked Kit. “Assume duelling stance.”

Harry paused before taking out his wand as he remembered his first meeting with the half-dementor. Harry had definitely come out worse off in that particular fight. He wasn’t having second thoughts but he couldn’t help feel a little nervous. Kit noticed his hesitation and smirked.

“Don’t worry Potter,” she said, her smirk growing more pronounced. “My rattle is worse than my Kiss.”

Harry blinked.

“Was that supposed to be a joke?” he demanded angrily.

Kit shrugged, her smirk still playing about on her lips. Harry grudgingly drew his wand and gripped it with unnecessary firmness. He hoped that Kit did not have the same teaching approach as Snape.

“Blocking is the most important part of duelling,” she said. “It has to be quick and strong. Every curse has a counter-curse.”

“Even the killing curse?” asked Harry sceptically.

“Of course,” said Kit. “We just haven’t figured out what it is yet.”

Kit raised her wand and Harry copied her.

“Ready?” she asked, her voice lower and more echoic than Harry had ever heard it.

Harry nodded and waited for Kit to strike. She moved quickly; faster than any duellist he had ever seen. Harry barely blocked the first jinx and the second one knocked him off his feet. He found himself on his back and looking up a rather cross looking Kit.

“No offence Potter...but that was just pathetic,” she said sternly. “Did you hear what I said about strong blocks?”

Harry winced and got to his feet.

“You sound like Snape,” he muttered with a scowl.

Kit grimaced.

“Snape was lying about a lot of things but clearly he was not lying about your ability,” she said.

Harry gave her a cold glance.

“Thanks Kit…really,” he said sharply.

Kit’s grimace turned into a cold, sinister little smile.

“Why don’t you shove his words down his throat?” she asked innocently.

After Kit said this, she sent a curse at Harry’s head. Harry blocked it firmly and responded. The jet of violet sparks missed Kit.

“Come on Potter! Stop trying to hit me and hit me!” she sneered.

Kit was goading him…like Bellatrix had goaded him in the Department of Mysteries. Harry felt a spur of anger and aimed another curse at Kit. She blocked it and sent it rebounding back to Harry. He ducked with a yell of alarm but Kit no longer looked disappointed.

“That’s more like it!” she called.

Spurred by Kit’s encouragement and his success, Harry grew more confident and fired stronger curses. But, with one slashing motion of Kit’s wand, Harry found himself on the ground again. Harry felt rather sore at this point.

“That was brilliant, Potter…you’re certainly a fast learner,” said Kit, looking over him. “Why did I beat you?”

Harry hoisted himself into a sitting position and cast a glance at the slight woman before him.

“I don’t know Occulmency,” muttered Harry.

“Precisely,” said Kit. “Which brings us to lesson two.”

Harry blanched. Kit certainly got straight to the point. He didn’t feel as confident in his decision as he did yesterday. Hermione was right…There were so many things that he’d have to hide from Kit. There was his knowledge of the horcruxes…the whereabouts of the Malfoys…

His feelings for Ginny.

Kit noticed the look on his face. She gave him her small little smile and helped him off the floor.

“I won’t go in too deep. I promise,” she said softly.

Kit conjured two chairs with a flick of her wand. Harry hesitated before taking the seat opposite her.

“Are you ready?” she asked.

Harry nodded, his green eyes transfixed on the end of Kit’s wand.

“Legilimens!”

Come…Come to me…Let me rip you…Let me tear you…Let me kill…

It wasn’t as forceful as Snape’s lesson but it was never pleasant to have someone attack your mind. Harry struggled to regain control.

“Portego!” he roared.

Kit’s eyes widened in shock as the spell rebounded. For the second time in his life, Harry’s mind was filled with memories that were not his.

“Professor Doubledor!” squealed a young girl of about six with wispy hair and a pale face. “Professor Doubledor!”

She ran across a stone corridor straight into the outstretched arms of an old man with a long white beard and half-moon spectacles…Dumbledore

“I see someone is excited!” said Dumbledore with a smile. “What spell shall we learn today?”


With a cry, Kit forced Harry out of her mind. Harry nearly fell off his chair. His scar throbbed painfully and he had a splitting headache. Kit seemed even paler (if it were even possible) and Harry noticed that the temperature had dropped several notches.

“Good,’ panted Kit. “Next time use you mind to force me out…try a non-verbal shield charm or better yet…wandless magic.”

“I can’t-” began Harry but Kit cut across him.

“Everyone’s done some wandless magic,” she said firmly. “It just takes a little practise.”

Kit raised her wand at Harry.

“Shall we try again?”

Harry was running…running after Bellatrix Lestrange. His scar burned and he closed his eyes.

“Don’t waste your breath! He can’t hear you from here!”


Harry struggled to force Kit out again.

Portego, he thought.

But Kit still persisted and his spell was useless. Harry tried to concentrate. Right now, he wanted nothing more than to get Kit out of his head. Kit’s hold on his mind slackened and he forced his way into hers.

There was a black dog barking at her from within a cell. Young Kit was scratching it behind the ear and smiling.

“I think I’ll call you Snuffles…I’m sure Uncle Raven will let me keep you.”


The memory changed.

Snape was striding quickly across the grounds. Ahead were the main gates and they were being guarded by two gliding cloaked figures...dementors. Snape turned to one of the dementors. The face behind the cloak was just visible. It was no ordinary dementor. A human face was still distinguishable but it only had skin where its eyes should have been.

Snape looked at this dementor in sheer horror.

“Katherine?”


The connection between Harry and Kit broke. Harry stared at Kit, white with shock. She had know Sirius…and she had not always been so human. Kit was trembling…not with fear…but with humiliation and sadness.

“You were one of the dementors at the lake, weren’t you?” asked Harry quietly.

Kit did not answer but Harry could not blame her.

“Who’s Uncle Raven?” he asked.

Kit turned rigid.

“He’s a dementor. Not my uncle by blood…but my only family”

The idea of a dementor having a name had never occurred to Harry. They were soulless being…incapable of remembering names and having a sense of self.

But then again…Kit was far more human than he had thought.

“Kit-”

“That’s enough for today,” said Kit loudly. “I think…I know you’ve got the hang of it Potter. Practise that and you’ll be fine.”

Kit vanished her chair and strode back towards the Burrow.

“Thanks Kit,” said Harry.

Kit nodded and continued to walk away, leaving Harry alone in the orchard.


Chapter 12: The Dementor's Kiss
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Harry awoke up the next morning feeling cold and rather grumpy. Weeks duelling with Kit, though it had improved him, had certainly taken its toll. The ability to cast non-verbal spells and use Occlumency had cost him a few bruises and a few nasty headaches. Tonight he had slept very badly…a lot worse than usual.

He trudged down to breakfast and found the Weasleys eating in silence. They seemed to be in no better mood than he was. Mumbling a quick ‘good morning’, he fell into a seat. Ginny, Ron and Hermione cast him a glance but said nothing. Mrs. Weasley wordlessly piled toast on his plate. Harry was starting to feel absolutely miserable…and he had no idea why.

“Snap out of it,” he muttered under his breath.

Fred looked gloomily at his cereal.

“Is it just me or is it suddenly really dreary down here?” he muttered.

Mrs. Weasley blew her nose and shook her head violent.

“It’s not just you,” she whispered, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. “Oh…what’s gotten into us this morning?”

McGonagall, who look paler than Harry had ever seen her, put down her knife and fork with a loud clang and turned to George. George, like Fred, was not wearing his mischievous grin and was playing with his toast with an uncharacteristically sad look on his face.

“Mr. Weasley… have you seen Katherine this morning?” asked McGonagall, her mouth drawn into a thin line.

Geroge shook his head.

“Not since yester-“

Suddenly Tonks appeared in the doorway, tripping over as she walked inside. Harry looked at her in alarm. She was pale, trembling and her hair was dark brown instead of its usual bright shade of pink.

“S-She’s upstairs,” stammered Tonks. “She’s not doing so well.”

George dropped his knife and fork and rushed past Tonks. Tonks collapsed into a chair and took a deep, shuddering breath.

“It’s like Azkaban up in that room,” she whispered.

A thrill of anger rushed through Harry. The thought of what Voldemort could have done to Kit made his heart pound in his head and his hands balls themselves into fist. He caught Hermione’s eye and leaned in towards her.

“We’re going to the graveyard…” whispered Harry. “Tonight.”

*



George walked into Kit’s bedroom and looked around for her frantically. Her bed had not been slept in and the curtains were drawn. It was bitterly cold in the room and there was a rather coppery smell hanging in the air. He caught sight of a figure huddled in the corner.

“Kit!” he cried, starting forward.

Kit recoiled further into the darkness of the corner. George could not yet make out her face but she was shivering uncontrollably. George froze. Her hands were red with blood.

“S-Stay back George,” pleaded Kit desperately. “I-I don’t want to-”

“No Kit!” shouted George. “You’re bleeding and-”

“I’ll be fine! Just stay back!”

George continued forward and ignored Kit. He stopped just short of her and shuddered. It was so cold…

“Kit please…stop it…” he croaked.

Kit choked out a sob,

“I can’t.”

George forced himself to take another step towards Kit but when he saw her face he couldn’t help but flinched. Tonks had not done the situation justice.

Kit’s tapered fingers were scabby and rotting. Whatever had gone wrong with her skin was spreading. The side of her cheek suffered from the same ailment and she was now not only pale. Her skin was a sickly off-white colour and her thin lips were frozen blue. There were huge tears in her thin robes and they barely lay on her shoulders. For once, George recognised her as a half-dementor. His heart nearly stopped when he saw her eyes. They were not just grey anymore…they were completely white.

Kit had gone blind.

George took a deep breath, got to his knees and gently reached for Kit hand. She pulled away violently and tried to get as far back as possible. She could hear George’s uneven breaths and knew that the cold she had brought with her was affecting him.

“George, please stay back!” she whispered hoarsely. “I don’t want to hurt a-anyone else.”

“I run a joke shop, Kit,’ said George firmly. “You can’t make me that miserable…just let me help you.”

Seconds passed. Kit finally lifted a trembling, scabby hand and felt the air blindly for George. He flinched slightly when he took her hand into his but he still helped her unsteadily to her feet and seated her on the bed.

“Let me see that,” he muttered, gesturing to a nasty gash on Kit’s arm.

When Kit hesitated again, he gave her a smile.

“Don’t worry. Fred and I had to learn some healing,” he said. “Dangerous business…running a joke shop.”

He took Kit’s arm and muttered a few spells under his breath. Kit winced as the cut sealed itself.

“You had a hell of a night, didn’t you?” he said absently.

George pulled out his jar of bruise-removal paste and placed it into Kit’s hand. She accepted it, her words of thanks barely audible. The paste would not fix her dementor-like hands.

“Sometimes I feel I belong there…” whispered Kit. “Things are so much …simpler for me in the Dark Lord’s circle.”

“What do you mean?” asked George.

Kit hunched her shoulders, her blank eyes focused at the floor.

“To him…we’re all the same,” she breathed. “There’s no half-human, werewolf, creature nonsense. We’re just servants. He has no favourites but… he makes you think that you’re better than the others.”

George found himself looking at the scabby skin that had spread to her face.

“What did you do to make him so angry?” he murmured. “No offence Kit… but you’ve looked better.”

“I-I…displeased him…” stammered Kit. “The Death Eaters…they…”

Kit closed her eyes, fighting tears.

“There was this girl. I…I killed her.”

Kit felt George tense beside her. Kit turned to him desperately, her sightless eyes looking just beyond him. She seemed desperate to justify herself to George.

“They were hurting her,” she said desperately. “I couldn’t let them…George, I-“

Kit trailed off. Suddenly her entire body was shaking with sobs. George had never seen Kit cry before but now the tears were flowing into her lap. He tried to comfort her but she pushed him off. Her face was etched with self-disgust and loathing.

“I’m a coward…just like the other D-Death Eaters,” she said loudly, her voice still shaking. “I-I could have s-saved her!”

George shook his head.

“Kit…you’re not. You know that,” said George softly. “You had to do it.”

George held Kit by the shoulders until the sobs had been subdued. They simply sat together for what seemed like ages. Kit slowly turned to face George.

“Why are you so…confident in me?” asked Kit quietly. “Why do you trust me?”

George shrugged.

“You risk everything for all those wizards out there that don’t even know you exist,” he said. “The ones that do know about you have treated you like dirt…and you can still smile.”

A slight amount of colour returned to Kit’s face.

“Not all humans are that bad,” she said softly. “The Headmistress, Remus, Harry all treat me like I’m a human but you…”

The smallest smile formed on Kit’s face. There was still a terrible sadness in her eyes but the smile made all the difference in the word.

“You treat me like I’m even more than that,” she finished.

“You are.”

With those words, George leaned in towards Kit…and kissed her gently on the mouth. At first she froze up in alarm almost as if she was actually frightened, but then she returned the kiss. When they finally drew apart, Kit seemed to be in utter shock. Her white eyes were wide with surprise and her hands shook even more violently than before. She was still blind and sickly but there was one very important difference.

The cold feeling in the air was completely gone.

Kit threw her arms around George's neck and hugged him fiercely. It was as if the outside word did not exist at all. For one splendid moment, there was no Voldemort, no Azkaban, no dementors and no Death Eaters. Kit’s moment of bliss was ruined however, by a sharp pain on her forearm.

“H-He’s calling me,” she whispered. “I have to go now.”

“You try and come back in one piece, alright?” muttered George. “Don’t piss him off too much.”

He helped her up to her feet again. She was still a little unsteady but she could stand unsupported. Before she could apparate, she gave George a kiss on the cheek.

“I promise.”

*


Harry hurriedly shoved vials of potion, the fake locket and his invisibility cloak into his pocket. He squirmed at the thought of the horcrux he could be finding. Harry hurried to Ron’s room. The door was slightly ajar.

Harry froze before he could enter. Inside, there were two people kissing like their lives depended on it. One was Ron and the other was Hermione. They were too absorbed in…what they were doing… to notice the shell-shocked Harry in the doorway. Harry backed away slowly and carefully, praying that neither of his best friends saw him.

Maybe now is the wrong time to search for Horcruxes.

As Harry tried to creep away unnoticed, Hermione pulled away from Ron and shook her head violently,

“Ron, we can’t,” whispered Hermione.

Ron stood there with his mouth opening and closing wordlessly, completely and utterly gob smacked, until he finally found his voice.

“Why not?” said Ron, voicing Harry’s thoughts.

Hermione put her hand to her forehead.

“We’re about to go searching for Horcruxes!” cried Hermione. “We don’t…”

Hermione trailed off and closed her eyes. When she opened them they flashed with resolve.

“We don’t even know if we’re coming back at all,” she said finally.

Ron looked up at Hermione in surprise.

“Don’t think like that Hermione!” he said forcefully. “We’re all getting out of this!”

“We’re up against the darkest magic there is, Ron,” cried Hermione. “Helping Harry is our first priority. Not…not us. We can wait.”

Ron’s shoulder’s sagged.

“You’re right,” said Ron, defeated. “I’m sorry Hermione.”

Hermione gave him a small, sad look.

“Me too,” she said softly.

Harry had heard enough. He was not going to put Ron and Hermione through what he was going through with Ginny. He strode downstairs and headed for the door. The image of Little Hangleton’s graveyard clear in his mind.

He was going alone.

Chapter 13: A Well Protected Horcrux
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A Well Protected Horcrux


Voldemort gazed intently at the figure before him. He had expected her to be in worse condition after what the Death Eaters had done to her. Though she was certainly in a terrible state, her face was impassive as ever and he could not detect a trace of fear. He could no longer read any emotion in her now white eyes but her detachment was most unusual. Maybe he had underestimated her. They were certainly curious creatures…dementors.

“My Lord, you summoned me?” said Kit softly.

Voldemort continued to observe her as he spoke.

“I see the dementor’s curse has taken a stronger hold on you,” he said. “I presume this has something to do with the…ah…events of our last meeting?”

Kit did not speak and a sneer formed on Voldemort’s face. The little dementor was angry with him. Not so detached after all.

“You must forgive them for their weakness Katherine,” he sneered. “They are only human after all.”

“If that is your wish, my Lord,” said Kit.

Voldemort noticed the slight tremor in her words and his sneer widened with satisfaction.

“To business then… I presume you have heard the term horcrux before.”

There was an instant change in Katherine. Her face was no longer rigid with suppressed emotion but a mask of horror.

“Horcruxes?” repeated Kit, her voice rising.

“I am well aware that it is a sensitive topic amongst dementors-”

“To willingly split your soul is forbidden!” shouted Kit angrily. “You can’t…”

Voldemort took a furious step towards Kit and she faltered.

“Silence!” he hissed.

Kit forced herself to speak again.

“My L-Lord, if you are considering creating a horcrux I must object,” she said shakily. “Please, I-”

Kit stopped and raised her eyes to Voldemort’s face. For the first time, she could sense his soul. It was broken, defiled and torn beyond all redemption.

“You’ve already done it,” she whispered.

Voldemort took advantage of Kit’s stunned silence and spoke again.

“For my…crime, my soul is fragile. If one were destroy all my horcruxes I would no longer be immortal.”

Voldemort paused and glance at the half-dementor before him.

“I understand that when a dementor performs the Kiss… their own soul is repaired,” he said.

Kit swallowed and spoke. She spoke so quietly that Voldemort had to strain to hear her.

“What do you want me to do?”

“I want your abilities.”

Kit looked up, her horror replaced with confusion.

“The… the only way I’d be able to give you my abilities is if I preformed the Kiss,” said Kit.

The look Voldemort gave her was all the reply she needed.

“My Lord, I can’t!” she cried.

“It was not a request, Katherine,” said Voldemort coldly.

Kit shook her head, aghast.

“I may destroy you!” pleaded Kit. “Please-”

“I have horcruxes, Katherine. My destruction would be very unlikely indeed.”

“I won’t do it!” shouted Kit before she could stop herself.

Voldemort’s eyes narrowed with anger. Kit flinched as he drew his wand. It pressed into her neck.

“Dare you defy me?” snarled Voldemort. “If you need persuading I’m sure the other Death Eaters will be more than happy to oblige…maybe even Severus will join in this time.”

Kit flushed and shrunk away.

“If you complete this task,” said Voldemort softly. “I will make you and your people completely human.”

Kit froze and looked up into Voldemort’s eyes.

“You found the cure?” breathed Kit.

The longing in her voice was clear and she was no longer pretending. Once Kit would have given everything for a chance to be human. Once Kit would have betrayed McGonagall in a heartbeat for that chance.

But not anymore. Not after McGonagall’s kindness, Harry’s friendship… and certainly not after George. Even Tonks had helped Kit after the Death Eaters had attacked her. Now she would rather spend an eternity as dementor than betray them.

Besides…Dumbledore would have expected better of her.

Kit buried her thoughts as deep down as her Occlumency would allow. Voldemort still suspected nothing.

“In the Department of Mysteries…by the Dark Veil was a little box with the symbol of an eagle. Do you know of what I speak?”

Kit’s mouth opened in shock.

“But that was just a story-”

Kit stopped abruptly. Voldemort had looked up suddenly as though he had heard something. His eyes narrowed in the direction of Little Hangleton’s graveyard.

“We have a visitor it seems,” said Voldemort.

He flicked his wand and something made of burning coals issued from it. It sped out of the forest with deadly speed. A homing spell.

“Bring me what you find,” said Voldemort coldly. “Preferably with their soul intact.”

Kit leaned forward and felt for Voldemort’s robes. She kissed the hem with trembling lips and got to her feet.

“Yes, my Lord,” she said before hurrying off into the night.

*


Harry had searched the entire graveyard. Every tomb, every headstone…there was nothing to indicate that Voldemort had hidden a horcurx here. He leaned against one tombstone, exhausted and frustrated.

There was no horcrux in the graveyard. He had been wrong.

Harry froze and looked into the distance. Something was speeding towards him from the forest, leaving a tail of red sparks like a comet. It resembled a miniature dragon made of burning coals. Harry recognised it from Snape’s Defence Against the Dark Arts class as a dark homing spell.

Harry ran.

He made an arc and ran into the forest, hoping the trees would give him some cover. But the homing curse sped after him…closing in. As it caught up with him, Harry tried to block it but failed. It struck him in the back and burned through the invisibility cloak. Harry hit ground and gave a cry as his back burned with pain. He was completely visible now. The cloak was useless. Harry closed his eyes…it was almost as bad as the cruciartus curse.

Someone fell to their knees beside him. They seemed to be feeling around the floor for him. Harry felt someone touch his hand and muttered the counter curse. Harry opened his eyes and flinched at the sight of Kit’s blind eyes and scarred face.

“H-Harry,” whispered Kit. “What are you doing here?”

“Kit…what happened to you?” he murmured.

Kit ignored him. She continued in a panic, her usually low and echoic voice now broken and slightly high pitched.

“W-we need to leave…we need to apparate…”

Kit helped Harry to his feet.

“But you’re the spy…we need you here!” said Harry.

Kit shook her head violently.

“I can’t stay…The D-Dark Lord will make me preform the K-Kiss on him…he’ll be immortal…his h-horcrux will be indestructable…”

Harry’s eyes widened. Immortal? Indestructable?

“Take me to the village…we can’t a-apparate here…”

Harry took Kit’s elbow and together they rushed through the forest. Kit was stumbling despite Harry’s mumbled instructions. The forest was too dense for her. Harry could just see Riddle House through the trees. They were nearly there…

“Well, well, well…if it isn’t the dementor helping itty bitty baby Potter.”

Four hooded figures appeared out of nowhere and surrounded them. They removed their masks and Harry instantly recognised the heavily lidded eyes and gaunt features of Bellatrix Lestrange. Macnair, Rookwood and Nott were also with her. Macnair was giving Kit a look of feverish anticipation as if he simply couldn’t wait to hurt her.

“Get the dementor!” shouted Bellatrix. “I’ll handle Potter.”

Nott, Macnair and Rookwood circled around Kit and Bellatrix slowly and deliberately walked towards Harry as if she was savouring every moment. Harry pointed his wand at Bellatrix. He wasn’t just a kid anymore…but then again…Bellatrix was hardly an ordinary witch.

A jet of purple flame soared towards Harry. Harry deflected it with ease and sent the same spell back at Bellatrix. She barely blocked it and was almost knocked of her feet.

“Ickle baby Potter learnt how to really fight,” sneered Bellatrix. “Your godfather would be so proud.”

Bellatrix vanished. Harry turned around in alarm as he searched for her. There’s no way she’d give up so easily…

“Not good enough Potter.”

Harry’s heart missed a beat as he felt the tip of Bellatrix’s wand in his back. His wand flew out of his hand. Bellatrix wrapped her arm around Harry’s throat and forced him to look at Kit.

“Now you’ll watch your freak friend die,” she whispered.

Kit was not doing much better than Harry. Nott and Rookwood were unconscious and bleeding on the ground but Macnair was far from it. He swung his axe with deadly speed towards Kit’s throat. She hit the ground as she fell back to avoid Macnair’s axe. She rolled to the side as he swung again. With an unhuman cry she kicked off the ground and glided away from him. She drew in a deep, rattling breath but it only slowed Macnair down.

He started towards and her and seized her throat before she could glide away again. Kit wriggled wildly as he raised his axe over his head.

“Goodbye dementor,” whispered Macnair. “I will miss you company.”

Before Macnair could bring it down a jet of crimson light struck him the chest and blasted him to the ground. Kit fell to the ground and lay there, panting.

Bellatrix’s arm tightened around Harry’s throat and she turned to smile at the newcomer who had cursed Macnair and saved Kit. The figure removed his Death Eater’s mask, threw it to the floor and pointed his wand Bellatrix. Harry would have gasped if it were not for Bellatrix's arm around his throat.

It was Snape.

“Release him Bellatrix,” said Snape quietly.

Bellatrix giggled as Snape took a step towards her.

“No,” she said with her mad laugh. “I want to have a little fun with Potter…and the dementor too when I’m done. Two more for Saint Mungo’s tonight.”

Kit struggled to her feet and pointed her wand at Bellatrix. Harry looked nervously into her sightless eyes. He didn’t know how good Kit’s ability to sense souls was.

“Or just one,” whispered Kit. “Victims of the Dementor’s Kiss are sent to Saint Mungo’s as well.”

“Touché dementor… ” whispered Bellatrix.

The hairs on Harry’s neck on end as Bellatrix leaned in towards him.

“Then maybe I should just kill you now Potter,” she whispered. “You’ll be gone like that…just like my dear cousin.”

With a cry of fury, Harry forced Bellatrix’s wand way and dove towards his own wand. Bellatrix screamed as three stunners hit her in the chest and slammed her bodily into a tree. Something broke. Breathing heavily, Snape lowered his wand and turned to Kit and Harry.

“Come quickly,” said Snape sharply.

Harry and Kit didn’t move. Snape seized Kit’s arms roughly and glared at her. She shrugged him of furiously. Harry, though he did not point his wand at Snape, held it ready in his hands.

“Katherine, now is hardly the time to doubt me!” shouted Snape.

“Why should we trust you, Professor?” spat Harry. “You know exactly how to play both sides.”

“Because Potter,” snarled Snape. “The alternative involves your untimely and painful death at the hands of the Dark Lord!”

There was a moments’ silence. Harry was thinking furious. Trusting Snape after everything that had happened seemed incredibly stupid…but Harry could not fight the Death Eaters with only a blind witch to help him.

“Fine,” he muttered.

Kit fumbled for Harry’s arm and gripped it tightly. Snape turned on his heel and Harry followed, leading Kit as he did so. Harry found himself back in the graveyeard. Snape turned to Harry.

“We need to apparate away from-”

“Me, Severus?”

Harry’s scar seared with pain. The Dark Lord emerged out of the forest before them, his crimson eyes flashing with anger. Voldemort turned to Snape. The Potion’s Master met his gaze without flinching.

“I should have known,” said Voldemort quietly, “when you asked me to spare Lily Potter.”

What?

Harry slowly turned and looked at Snape in shock. Snape refused to look at him. His cold, black eyes did not leave the Dark Lord but he said nothing. Hissing in disgust, Voldemort turned to Kit.

“Katherine, you will regret your betrayal,” he said.

His voice was no more than a dangerous whisper but Kit heard every word he uttered.

"You will suffer… as will the dementors.”

Kit’s grip on Harry’s arm became painfully tight. She looked at Voldemort with a mixture of hatred and fear. Finally, Voldemort sought out Harry. Hatred far beyond Voldemort’s hatred of Snape and Kit radiated from his snake-like face.

“As for you Potter…you will die tonight,” snarled Voldemort.

Kit let go of Harry’s arm and stood in front of him. Snape copied her and assumed dueling stance.

“Not if I can help it,” snarled Snape.

A sneer formed on Voldemort’s face and his anger was replaced by contempt. Bravery could be most amusing at times.

“Very well.”

At the corner of his eye, Harry saw something stir. He turned just in time to see Nagini lunging at him. The snake wrapped around his chest, forcing the air from his lungs. Harry’s wand fell from his hand as he struggled to breathe.

Snape and Kit were firing curse after curse at Voldemort but the Dark Lord was far too strong. A curse brought Kit to her knees and a thin, silver cord shot out of Voldemort’s wand and wrapped around Snape. He hit the ground hard. The ropes that bound him cut deep into his flesh. Voldemort advanced on Kit, his red eyes glinting with malice. She staggered up and wand arm trembled as she trained it at him.

“You will serve me Katherine,” he whispered. “If you wish it or not.”

Voldemort reached into his robes and took out a gold chain. For one heart-stopping moment, Harry thought it was the locket horcrux but the chain was connected to a tiny, ornate jewellery box.

The Box radiated evil.

Kit could not see but Harry was sure that she could feel the power from the little jewellery box. Kit’s wand fell from her limp hand and she took an unsteady step backwards. Kit was petrified.

“Rowena Ravenclaw’s Soul Box,” she whimpered.

Harry struggled further in Nagini’s grip. It was a horcrux…the box was a horcrux… Sneering maliciously, Voldemort opened the Box.

Thick grey smoke seeped from the box and crept across the forest floor…and directly towards Kit. She tried to run but she tripped and fell. Kit’s scream became strangled and died in her throat as the thick gray smoke surrounded her.

“No!” screamed Harry.

The smoke faded and there was nothing but Kit. There was something terribly wrong with her. She was convulsing horribly and seemed completely unaware of her surroundings. Voldemort sneered at Kit’s twitching form and dropped the box at her feet. Harry struggled further. Lack of air was making his world spin and his chest ached. His right arm became free and he seized his wand off the floor.

“Sectumsempra!” he bellowed, pointing his wand at Nagini’s thick body.

Nagini withered and thrashed on the ground, hissing and spitting. Soon she could no longer move and lay still. Pushing the dead, heavy snake off him, Harry dodged a curse from Voldemort and freed Snape from his bonds.

Harry rushed to the stricken Kit’s aid and hauled her thin body off the ground. His first thought was to apparate to safety but…Snape had begun duelling with Voldemort. As much as he hated him, Snape saved his life and he was not going to just leave him to die.

Snape was not thinking along the same lines.

“Potter go!” roared Snape, as he deflected a curse from Voldemort’s wand. “Take Katherine and-”

Voldemort’s next curse hit Snape in the chest. Snape hit a tombstone and slid down, groaning. Before Voldemort could utter the fatal curse, Harry seized Snape with his free hand and apparated. With Kit and Snape by his side, Harry apparated to the one place he had ever felt safe.

To Hogwarts.

*


Outside the school gates, Harry’s feet hit solid ground and he fell forward. Snape seized him back by his cloak and pulled him back. Kit seemed unable to speak. She was gasping for breath as though she was being strangled by some unseen force. Harry seized her shoulders and she fell limply in his arms.

“Kit!” cried Harry. “Kit, wake up!”

Snape was injured. The hand that clutched his wand was dripping steadily with blood and he was slightly unsteady but his concern was only for Kit.

“She won’t wake Potter,” said he shakily. “She’s about to lose her soul Potter…She’s turning into a fully-fledged dementor.”

Chapter 14: The Potions Master
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The Potions Master


Harry’s world seemed to be collapsing around him. He had lost many friends and family…too many…but only to death. Snape’s words were nothing short of unthinkable. Kit’s breaths were steadily turning into a rattle and her skin was turning into a sickly shade of grey. Through all this, Kit clung onto the front of Harry’s robes like it was her only lifeline. Harry tried to hold her steady as the grey clouds finally gave way and bucketed down on them.

“W-What do we do?” asked Harry shakily.

Snape tried to keep up his icy shell of composure but Harry saw his hands shaking.

“Detached souls are hardly my area of expertise, Potter,” said Snape, veiling his fear with hostility.

Harry shook his head in disbelief. Not Kit…Not Kit…

“But there’s got to be something…a spell…a potion…” he ranted desperately.

Snape closed his eyes and his brows creased in concentration.

“When Katherine was a child she was completely unable to control her abilities,” said Snape. “With the help of…the other Professors…I brewed Katherine a potion that…temporarily…made her more human.”

Harry looked up hopefully at Snape.

“Will that work?” he asked quickly.

Harry’s heart sank when Snape shook his head.

“There is no guarantee,” he said gravely. “When Katherine came to Hogwarts looking for Black it barely worked at all…especially not when she met Macnair outside the school grounds,” he added bitterly.

Snape drew his wand and started towards the gates.

“It should give her at least some relief,” he said. “We’ll need to get into the school…the potions stores should still be intact.”

Snape murmured an incomprehensible spell under his breath and pointed his wand at the gates. The gates glowed green for a moment but suddenly the spell rebounded and hit Snape. Snape cried out in pain and swore.

“McGonagall must have put more protection on the school,” murmured Harry.

“Idiot woman,” hissed Snape, as he steadied himself.

Any other time, Harry would have said something nasty to Snape.

“The Shrieking Shack,” said Harry hurriedly. “We’ll go through the Shrieking Shack.”

The unusual trio hurried as fast as they could under the cover of darkness and rain through the deserted village of Hogsmead. Snape walked quickly though his limp was getting worse. With a thrill of horror, Harry noticed that not only was Kit’s rattling breath becoming louder and louder, but she was becoming lighter…far too light. It was if there wasn’t enough human left to hold her to the ground. If Harry had left her go her was sure that she would stay suspended in mid air. She was gliding…

Soon the familiar sight of the Shrieking Shack stood in the distance. The usually dark and forbidding building gave Harry hope. They were nearly there…

They hurried through the passable way. They air was stale, damp and…because of Kit…horribly cold. Snape immobilised the Whomping Willow and Harry took a deep breath of the fresh air of Hogwarts grounds before hurrying towards the castle.

Harry followed Snape to a small door that he had never entered before. With some caution, Snape muttered a spell under his breath and, this time, the door swung open effortlessly. Harry and Snape raced as fast as they could down them and entered directly into the classroom where Slughorn and Snape had taught Potions.

Snape strode into Slughorn’s office, tore open the store cupboard and seized armfuls of potions ingredients.

“Potter, I will need you help,” he said. “Follow my instruction to the letter or you will regret it.”

Harry lowered Kit onto one of Slughorn’s soft chairs. Harry took her cold, clammy hands off the front of his robes and noticed that she had something else clutched in her right hand. His heart skipped a few beats. He starred at her hand in horror before taking the object away from her as carefully as he could.

He had evidently been taking too long for Snape turned around angrily.

“Time is of the essence Potter,” snarled Snape,“ and Katherine doesn’t have any to spare.”

Harry showed Snape the object in his hand. The tiny, ornate, jewellery box didn't seem nearly as threatening when it was in the palm of Harry's hand. Ravenclaw's Soul Box.

“She took the Box…” whispered Harry.

Snape paled and swallowed.

“The Box closed shut, Potter?” he asked quietly.

“I-I…think so,” muttered Harry.

“Unless you wish to end up like Katherine I suggest you let it remain that way,” said Snape sharply.

Harry put the box down carefully on Slughorn's desk. Snape turned on his heel and started to prepare the ingredients. Harry rushed to get a cauldron. As he stood down to get it, Harry noticed a bottle of clear liquid on Slughorn’s potions shelf.Veritaserum...

“Hurry up Potter!” shouted Snape.

Without another moment’s hesitation, Harry took the cauldron to Snape. Snape was rapidly slicing dark green leaves and muttering as he scribbled complicated notes onto a roll of parchment. Occasionally Snape would bark instructions to him and Harry complied as quickly as he could while his hands shook. Kit’s breathing was growing louder…

“It’s finished!” shouted Snape suddenly. “You need to give her all of it now!”

Harry scooped a spoonful of the now finished, electric blue, steaming potion and raced towards the stricken Kit, Snape not far behind him. Her breathing was even more of a rattle and she was instantly recognizable as a dementor. Suddenly Kit began convulsing horrible and Harry could not get the potion near her.

“Professor, hold her down!” cried Harry.

Snape seized Kit’s failing arms and held them down. Then it hit Harry. The cold washed around him like the waves from the sea. He was drowning in white fog. The spoon was falling from his slackened grasp.

“Get a grip Potter!” shouted Snape.

Harry shook himself and forced the screaming out of his head. Before the spoon was an inch away from Kit’s mouth, she shoved Snape away with surprising strength. Snape fell back with a cry and crashed into one of Slughorn’s shelves, breaking jars of ingredients. Before he could stop her, Kit’s hand shot out and seized Harry by the throat. Harry shrugged to hold the spoon steady as Kit drew in a great rattling breath.

Kill the spare…Not Harry…Stand aside you silly girl…

“K-Kit…let g-go of me!” croaked Harry.

But those unseeing eyes held no mercy. There was no Kit there at all to hear his plea. Her iron grip on his throat tightened and she opened her mouth hungrily to devour Harry’s soul. Snape staggered to his feet and raised his wand.

“Incarcerous!” he roared.

The dementor, that had once been Kit, shrieked in rage as it was bound and denied its prize. Gliding off the ground, it struggled wildly against the thick cords. Snape strode forward and wrestled it down to the ground. Harry forced the spoon into its gapping mouth. Gasping and spluttering, the dementor finally lay still.

*


After Harry had fed Kit the rest of the potion, her breathing returned to normal and her rotten, scabby skin was a little healed but the air around Harry still felt like ice and his head was spinning. Harry sensed someone picking up Kit’s thin body and returning her to the chair.

“Get up Potter.”

A firm hand caught him rather roughly by the arm and hauled him too his feet. Snape led him into the chair opposite Slughorn’s desk. When he had recovered slightly, Harry spared a glance at Kit. She was sleeping but certainly not peacefully. Her eyelids twitched as though she was having a nightmare and she was whispering incomprehensible words in her sleep.

“Is she going to be alright?” muttered Harry.

Snape sat in Slughorn’s chair and cast a glance at Kit. A grimace formed on his face.

“For now,” he said. “The effects of the potion do not last forever.”

Snape produced his wand again and conjured a bottle of firewhiskey and two glasses. He poured a generous amount into each glass, shoved one of them in Harry’s general direction and took a long drink from the other.

“Drink it,” said Snape.

Snape took another sip and closed his eyes. When he opened them, he saw that Harry hadn’t touched his glass.

“I haven’t poisoned it, Potter,” he said coldly. “You were just attacked by a dementor so I suggest you drink it.”

With a little hesitation, Harry took a sip. The firewhiskey tasted pleasant and warmed his insides but chocolate would have done a better job.

Snape probably wasn’t a big fan of chocolate.

*


Kit slowly opened her eyes and winced. Her world was still black and her insides were as frozen as the air. Her heart began to race as she sensed the souls of two people near her. She had no idea were she was and no idea who was with her.

She gave a sigh of relief when she heard Harry’s voice.

“Hey Kit,” he said softly. “You gave us a bit of a scare.”

The other person that Kit sensed came closer to her and she could tell that he was angry. Snape…

“That is a gross understatement Potter,” he snarled.

There was a minute of silence and then Snape was shouting.

“What possessed you to spy against the Dark Lord?” he roared. “Do you understand what you could have done?”

Kit sprang to her feet and glared in the direction of Snape’s voice.

“It was the only way I could get out of Azkaban forever!” she hissed.

“So it was your childish dreams of freedom in exchange for an invincible Dark Lord?” snarled Snape. “Really Katherine…I expected better of you.”

Kit strode up to Snape until her face was inches from his.

“Then who would be our spy?” she snarled, her voice laced with malice and hatred. “You…Professor?

Snape made no reply but his face was still contorted in anger. Kit continued, her voice dropping to a dangerous, rattling whisper.

“Professor McGonagall trusted me and I gave her more than enough information to thwart some of the Dark Lord’s most devastating plans. What have you done?”

Suddenly Kit seemed mad with anger. She was breathing heavily and rattling almost as much as she did when she was a dementor. The air began to freeze again but Snape made no sign of faltering.

“You murdered the first person who had ever shown an ounce of respect for me!” screamed Kit. “You murdered one of the few people who didn’t cringe at the sight me!”

Kit drew her wand and pointed it at Snape. He made no attempt to stop her.

“He gave you a second chance when no one else would and you betrayed him…you betrayed me!” she shouted. “So don’t judge me…Don’t you dare judge me!”

A few angry tears rolled down Kit’s cheeks as she glared at Snape. He met her gaze coldly.

“Tell me Katherine,” whispered Snape. “How loyal to Dumbledore were you?”

Kit flushed with rage again and this time Harry did too. How dare he talk about Dumbledore?

“I would have died for him!” she shouted, her grip on her wand tightening.

“If he told you to remain in Azkaban for the rest of your life would you have done it?”

“Yes,” she said firmly. “Yes, I would have.”

“What if Dumbledore told you to kill him?”

Harry’s heart froze. Kit’s wand hit the floor with a deafening clang.

“What?” she breathed.

Harry had never seen Snape so angry before. There was not a trace of colour on his pallid face and his upper lip was curling as it so often did when he was furious. His long, pale fingers trembled at his sides as he continued to shout at Kit mercilessly, despite her obvious shock and horror.

“What if Albus Dumbledore came to Azkaban and asked you to murder him?” he snarled. “Would you have done it?”

“I-I …” stammered Kit as her whole body trembled. “He wouldn’t have…he didn’t…”

Kit backed away from Snape, groped for the chair she once occupied and collapsed into it. She covered her face in her hands and said no more. The temperature rose again but Harry was still frozen. He could only stare at Snape. The anger had not faded from Snape’s face but none of it seemed to be directed at Kit. He wore the same expression on his face that Harry wore when he forced Dumbledore to drink that horrible potion in the cave, the same expression he had worn when he had killed Dumbledore.

Self-loathing and guilt.

“Why…why would he do that?” asked Harry numbly.

Snape sat at Slughorn’s desk and covered his face with a hand, mirroring Kit.

“So that Draco Malfoy would not be thrown into the wrong side, so that I would still have my position as spy…” he said, “and so that I would be able to assist you in destroying the Dark Lord’s horcrux.

Harry noticed how Snape deliberately said the word ‘horcrux’ as though there was only one. With a jolt, Harry realised that Snape was still trying to protect Katherine. He did not want her involved…

“Dumbledore told you about the horcrux?” asked Harry quietly with a nod to show he understood.

Snape hesitated before speaking again.

“He trusted me,” he said finally.

After what seemed an age, Harry nodded.

“I think I believe you,” he said.

Snape’s narrowed his eyes.

“I’m rather surprised Potter,” he said silkily. “You didn’t take much convincing.”

“I wouldn’t have believed you,” admitted Harry, “but I put Veritaserum in your firewhiskey.”

Snape looked at Harry in surprise but it was quickly replaced by his usual sneer.

For once, Snape didn’t seem angry. If Harry didn’t know better…Snape seemed almost impressed.

“How very Slytherin of you,” he said dryly.

Kit lowered her trembling hands from her face. Her white eyes met Snape’s black ones and Harry was sure she had sensed him rather that saw him.

“Professor…I’m sorry,” she whispered.

Before Snape could make any response, a chilling wind swept through the dungeon and froze his insides. The temperature dropped rapidly and any warmth Harry had felt vanished. Snape looked at Kit in alarm.

“Katherine…are you alright?” he asked hurriedly. “The potion…did it work?”

Kit’s sightless eyes were wide with shock.

“That isn’t me,” breathed Kit. “The dementors…they’re here.”

Chapter 15: Freedom
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Snape sprang to his feet and winced as he aggravated his leg injury again. The chill of the dementors and the fact that he had been constantly flying in objects of late certainly wasn’t helping improve the state he was in or his mood.

“The sword of Godric Gryffindor!” said Snape. “You need to destroy the box with it!”

For the first time, Kit noticed the Box lying innocently on Slughorn’s desk. She took a step back and stared at it in pure dread.

“Is…Is it closed?” she whispered, her voice shaking.

Harry nodded. Shivering, Kit clasped the box tightly in her hand.

“The magic in this Box is what made the dementors what they are,” said Kit.

She gave the Box in her hand the same look she had given Voldemort. Hatred mingled with fear.

“The Dark Lord would have sent the dementors after the Soul Box,” she said. “If he is offering them a chance of being human…they won’t listen to me.”

For the first time, Harry felt that he understood the dementors. They were not soulless beings but their souls were damaged beyond repair. They did take the happiness and cheer out of the atmosphere but only because they did not have they’re own. They were desperate creatures…not evil.

In that way, they were more dangerous. They would not hear reason. If Voldemort was offering to end their suffering there was no limit they would not cross.

With the rattling and the screaming ringing in their ears and the cold chilling their insides, they left Slughorn’s office and sped to Dumbledore’s old one. Slipping through passageways and racing through corridors, they quickly reached their destination. Harry’s heart sank. It was still guarded by the stone gargoyle.

“What’s Professor McGonagall’s password?” asked Kit.

“Cats? Chess?” tried Harry.

The gargoyle stood perfectly still. The rattling echoed up the stair towards them. The dementors were getting closer.

“Hurry up!” shouted Kit.

Harry racked his brain.

“Umm… Quidditch? Transfiguration?”

Snape shoved Harry roughly aside. He paused before the gargoyle before uttering a single word.

“Albus.”

The gargoyle moved aside instantly and exposed the staircase. With sparing another second, they raced into the office. The gargoyle closed behind them and shielded them from the dementors. Kit put the Box down on Dumbledore’s desk gingerly as though she was afraid it was going to open on its own accord. Harry raced towards the sword. He broke the glass case with a flick of his wand but, before he could touch the sword, the windows shattered. Harry shielded his eyes with his arms as shards of glass flew through the air. His insides froze and his ears rang as though, in the distance, someone was screaming. Hundreds of dementors spilled into the room. Harry fumbled for his wand.

“Expecto Patronum!” he cried.

A silver stag erupted from his wand and created a barrier between them and the dementors. The stag was joined by Snape’s silver falcon but they were both too feeble to fight any of them away. They could only keep the dementors at bay. Snape’s wound had begun to bleed again and he swayed on his feet. Harry struggled to control his mind. It was so cold…

The dementors edged hungrily towards the Soul Box but Kit stood in front of it. They rattled angrily at her.

Give us the Box!

Harry jumped. He could have sworn that the dementors had spoken…or at least that he could understand them. They ‘spoke’ as one in a dying rasp. Kit looked at them all pleadingly. She opened her mouth and spoke in the same low rattle.

Please understand…I cannot give it to you!

One dementor glided away from the rest.

The Dark One promised us a cure…we must give it to him.

No Uncle Raven!

With a jolt, Harry realised that this was the dementor that Kit had been so close to. The one she had described as her only family.

The Dark Lord is lying to you! You don’t understand. It’s a-

Kit gasped Raven seized her by the arm. The dementors circled around her and ignored Harry and Snape. The Box was their only concern.

Give us the Box!

Harry’s stag patronus soared to Kit and knocked the dementor, Raven, away. The dementors swarmed towards her but the stag and the falcon fought them off...barely. The falcon faded as a dementors flew into Snape and knocked him off his feet. The stag vanished as a dementor seized the wand away from Harry, threw it away and advanced upon him, drawing in a deep, rattling breath. Kit scrambled to her feet and seized the little Box before the dementors could reach it.

Backing away from the dementor, Harry threw the sword across the office towards Kit. Hearing it hit the stone floor beside her, Kit groped for it and picked it up. She brought the sword high above her head and, as the dementors swarmed towards her again, she brought it down heavily on the Soul Box.

The ornate box shattered into shards of coloured glass and the entire room was filled with blinding light.

It was brighter than a patronus… brighter than anything Harry had ever seen. Kit’s eyes flashed with fear as she disappeared into the light. The dementors cowered as they too were consumed by it. Snape and Harry were soon forced to shield their eyes as the light became too bright to bear. Harry suddenly felt warm. Between Voldemort, Kit and the dementors, he had almost forgotten the feeling. Hesitantly, he opened his eyes and gasped.

Standing in Dumbledore’s office, were hundred of people. They were all tall and pale but they were definitely people. The dementors were no where to be seen. The man closest to Harry was standing in the same place the dementor, Raven, had once been.

The man looked at his hands in disbelief. He flexed his fingers and slowly they rose up and touched his face.

“Is this real?” he asked softly.

The man, Raven, had a low voice and a strange European accent that seemed too refined to belong to modern times. Snape pulled himself off the floor and scowled.

“Well, you’re not trying to deprive me of my soul so it is safe to presume it is,” he said dryly, dusting off his robes.

“Professor?”

Snape turned towards Dumbledore’s desk and his eyes widened. Standing there, with Gryffindor’s sword in her hand, was a girl with wispy brown hair and light brown eyes. She was a pale girl and she seemed familiar…but it couldn’t be…

“Kit?” said Harry in disbelief.

Kit seemed more shocked than Harry and Snape put together.

“I’m…. human,” she finally managed to choke out.

“We’re all human,” said a woman happily from behind Snape.

The biggest smile that Harry had ever seen appeared on Kit’s face. The man, who had once been the dementor Raven, pulled Kit into a tight embrace, which she returned. Slowly but surely, the dementors began to realise that they were indeed human. The cheers and laughter became louder and louder and soon Harry found himself in a room with hundreds of overjoyed people.

Raven let go of Kit and turned to Harry and Snape.

“You are Professor Snape are you not?” he asked.

Snape grimaced.

“I am no longer a Professor… but Snape will do,” he answered curtly.

Raven nodded and looked at Harry. He placed a long-fingered (and thankfully no longer rotting) hand on Harry’s shoulder.

“And this young man is Harry Potter. We have met before...under less than welcoming circumstances.”

“You could call them that,” said Harry with a shrug.

Raven smirked and looked from Harry to Snape.

“We are all in your debt,” said Raven. “If there is anything you need… send an owl to the English countryside and we will be at your side.”

“The ministry will not let you go so easily,” said Snape. “The dementors are the keepers of many secrets.”

At this, Raven smiled. It was a very frightening smile.

“We still have our…abilities,” he said calmly. “If they find us…we will deal with them. And besides…we are all over one thousand years old. We have learnt a few spells over the years.”

Harry frowned. Over one thousand years old? A curious expression flashed on Snape’s face but he quickly returned the sinister smile.

“I don’t doubt that,” he said silkily.

Those who had once been dementors rose off the ground and glided gracefully out the broken window leaving only Raven behind. Raven looked at Kit and gestured for her to follow. Harry looked at Kit in shock. He didn’t expect her to leave with them…

“Coming Kitten?” asked Raven.

Kit bit her lip and shook her head.

“Not yet,” she said softly.

A small, sad smile formed on Raven’s face and he nodded. Then he rose off the floor and glided out the window.

And then they were gone.

Chapter 16: McGonagall’s Fury
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McGonagall’s Fury


From either exhaustion or shock, Harry, Kit and Snape stood frozen in Dumbledore’s office for at least a minute. When Harry had found his voice and his breath, he spoke up.

“Your nickname is Kitten?”

Kit’s cheeks coloured. Harry didn’t think that she was even capable of looking anything other than pale.

“I used to get into a lot of mischief in Azkaban,” mumbled Kit.

“Was…umm…your dad or something there?” asked Harry hesitantly.

Kit looked at Harry, startled.

“My father?” asked Kit. “What gave you that idea?”

Harry shuffled uncomfortably.

“Umm…well, you said you were half-dementor and you took your mum’s name so…she was human…and I-”

“Once again displayed your ignorance?” said Snape silkily.

Kit cast Snape a glance and he looked away, a smirk playing on his lips. Harry grimaced. Greasy bastard…

“No Harry,” said Kit. “Neither of my parents were dementors.”

Harry’s grimace turned in a frown.

“Then how-”

A shadow fell over Kit’s features and they lost all their warmth. The smile vanished from her face and was replaced by her customary thin line.

“My mother was also Katherine D’Arque…a Death Eater,” said Kit quietly. “She was sentenced to the Dementor’s Kiss but…no one actually noticed she was pregnant until after Uncle Raven had performed the Kiss.”

Harry winced. That certainly explained a lot.

“What about your father?” he mumbled.

“To be quite frank,” said Kit coldly. “I really don’t want to know who the man is.”

“Hello there Harry Potter…Professor…Miss Katherine…”

They turned in alarm and saw the old Sorting Hat on one of the bookshelves. The hat looked even tattier than ever and its voice seemed a little faint.

“Albus spoke of you often Miss Katherine,” it said, the brim forming what was unmistakably a smile.

Kit’s expression softened.

“Did he really?” she whispered.

The Hat titled its tip as though nodding.

“I never had the pleasure of sorting you … you would have hard to sort… like Mr. Potter here… brave, reckless and loyal yet cunning and clever…”

Snape made a noise in his throat. Harry chose to ignore him. The Hat continued as though it had not heard Snape.

“Now that Rowena’s curse has been lifted…It is fitting that Slytherin and Gryffindor unite…like they did one thousand years ago…”

“What do you mean?” asked Harry quickly.

The Hat slouched.

“Enough said…” it mumbled. “I’m a very old hat…I’m rather tired…”

The hat suddenly became motionless. To the eye of the ignorant, it would have merely seemed to be an ordinary, old hat.

“Has…has the enchantment worn off?” asked Harry in shock.

Snape nodded.

“Enchantments do not last forever Potter,” he said. “I suppose the Hat felt like that it was no longer needed.”

Kit sadly observed the hat before heading towards the glass case that Harry had broken. She repaired it with a flick of her wand and gently returned the sword to its proper place. It may have been a trick of the light, but the hilt glowed crimson as she did so.

“Come on,” said Kit. “We should go to the Order.”

Snape and Harry followed her out the portal and they walked down the staircases to the great Hall. Snape lagged behind, his injured leg and arm still troubling him. Frowning thoughtfully, he called out to Kit.

“Katherine, what did that hat mean when it… what the-”

Harry and Kit turned around in alarm. A red haired figure had tackled Snape bodily to the ground and rolled down the stairs with him.

“George!” cried Kit.

It was indeed George Weasley…or at least one of the Weasley twins.

“Run Kit!” he shouted as he wrestled with Snape for his wand.

“George no!” said Kit in alarm. “He’s-”

“Don’t worry about me! I can take him…”

“He’s on our side!” shouted Harry desperately. “George, let go of him!”

George stopped struggling and looked up in shock.

“What?” he asked in confusion.

“Let go of me you depraved idiot!” shouted Snape from under him.

George scrambled off Snape who was swearing loudly and holding his injured leg. George looked at Kit but it took him a while to digest what he was seeing. Kit had gone bright red (something that is very hard for a half-dementor to accomplish) and her small smile seemed even wider than before. There was no trace of dementor in her features.

“You’re all…human-ish,” said George lamely.

“Is that the best word you could summon out of that pitiful vocabulary of yours?” scoffed Snape as he clambered to his feet. “Human-ish?”

Neither Kit nor George seemed to hear Snape. They stared at each other in silence. Harry looked away pointedly.

“You…You alright?” mumbled George.

Kit nodded and bit her lip. Before she could say anything further, Snape interrupted.

“I really do hate to interrupt this little…reunion,” he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “But we really ought to explain to the Order that I’m not in league with the Dark Lord before-”

Snape stopped. Racing up the stairs towards them were Fred, Flitwick, Slughorn, Tonks and, at their head, Minerva McGonagall. Slughorn leaned against the stone wall, holding his large stomach and wheezing. Fred looked from George to Snape, his mouth agape. Tonks gasped and Flitwick squeaked. McGonagall’s eyes fell on Snape and her entire body tensed.

“You…” she breathed.

Snape paled and took a step back.

“Minerva-”

Ignoring Kit’s cry of protest, McGonagall drew her wand. A flash of blue soared towards Snape. Fumbling for his wand, Snape conjured a shield. Despite the shield, the powerful curse knocked Snape off his feet for the umpteenth time that day and ricocheted towards Flitwick. The little wizard squealed again as the spell barely missed him.

“For Merlin’s sake Minerva!” cried Slughorn. “You going to get us all killed!”

McGonagall, deaf to Slughorn’s cries, seized Snape by his robes and slammed him into the opposite wall, her wand pressed against his throat. Her nails deep into the wood of the wand and her hand shook.

“Did you really think…” whispered McGonagall in a low, dangerous whisper. “That I would let scum like you enter this school again without my knowledge?”

“Professor please!” cried Kit. “Let us explain!”

McGonagall ignored Kit, her beady eyes fixed on Snape.

Harry had never seen that look in McGonagall’s eyes before. It was beyond loathing and beyond reason. It was madness and pure hatred. With a thrill of horror, Harry realised that McGonagall was actually going to kill Snape.

“No!” he shouted.

It was perhaps Harry’s protest that finally stopped McGonagall. She stared at Harry as though he had just appeared out of mid air. She said nothing, shock and anger frozen on her face. Harry took advantage of McGonagall’s stunned silence and continued.

“He’s innocent Professor,” said Harry. “He’s not on Voldemort’s side.”

The headmistress did not yield.

“He murdered Dumbledore,” said McGonagall, her voice trembling with rage.

Snape choked and spluttered out a feeble explanation as McGonagall put more pressure on the wand at his throat.

“Only killed him u-upon… request…A-Albus asked me…s-spy…”

Kit raised her palms up defensively and gave McGonagall a pleading look.

“Please…” said Kit desperately. “It’s true…Harry gave him Veritaserum. He’s not lying.”

After what seemed an age, McGonagall lowered her wand.

“Tell me everything,” snarled McGonagall. “All of you. Now.”

*


“Let me see if I understand you fully, Snape,” said McGonagall quietly.

McGonagall got out of her chair in the staff room and began pacing. Everyone but Snape was standing at the wall in an effort to get as far away from McGonagall as possible. Snape was slumped in his usual chair, clearly exhausted. McGoangall was refusing to look at him and her wand was still in her hand.

“Potter ran off without telling anyone where he was going to free the dementors and, because of his misadventures, Katherine is unable to spy for the Order.”

Harry opened his mouth to argue but Tonks kicked him the shins and gave him a warning look. McGonagall continued, her voice rising slightly.

“And you killed Albus Dumbledore because…” McGonagall closed her eyes and, when she opened them again, they were full of anger. “…because he asked you to?

Snape’s explanation clearly was not good enough for her.

“Did he ask nicely enough?” asked McGonagall mockingly.

Snape got to his feet unsteadily but returned McGonagall’s hateful glare with one of his own.

“It was necessary,” said Snape through clenched teeth.

Necessary?” shouted McGonagall. “Since when has murder been necessary?”

“In my line of work!” snarled Snape, his own voice becoming dangerously loud.

Kit strode forward and stood between McGonagall and Snape, who were both evidently close to blows.

“Professor McGonagall, if I had stayed any longer you would have had a very big problem on your hands,” said Kit. “The Dark Lord would have the abilities of a dementor as well as the ones he already has and seeing as dementors once found it rather hard to die-”

“We’d all be completely screwed?” supplied Fred from behind her.

Kit jerked her head.

“Essentially…yes.”

Kit took a breath and Harry tensed. She was going to tell McGonagall everything…

“We also destroyed the Dark Lord’s h-”

“Soul Box,” interrupted Harry. “He was using it to control the dementors.”

Kit cast a glance at Harry but hid her surprise. McGonagall took a breath and gave Kit a small nod.

“If we’re all done deciding on my allegiance,” said Snape bitterly, “seeing as I’ve dueled Bellatrix Lestrange, the Dark Lord, all the dementors of Azkaban, that bloody twin and Minerva McGonagall in the course of a single evening… I’d like to go to bed now.”

“Let Poppy take a look at those wounds,” said McGonagall with a little more venom than what was necessary.

“I am perfectly capable of healing myself…thank you,” he added as an after thought.

Before Snape could limp outside, McGonagall spoke again. Her tone had changed dramatically. She seemed more sad than angry now.

“One question Snape,” said McGonagall. “How did you get into my office?”

Snape’s black eyes bored into McGonagall’s.

“I guessed your password,” he said coldly.

With that, Snape limped out of the staff room and slammed the door in the face of a trembling McGonagall.

Chapter 17: The Tale of the Founders Four
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The Tale of the Founders Four


Kit flinched as McGonagall strode out of the staffroom and slammed the door behind her. Flitwick gave Harry a small nod before hurrying after the headmistress. When he was quite certain that McGonagall was not in hearing range, Slughorn buried his face in his hands and shook his head.

“We’re being led by a mad woman,” he mumbled. “Honestly, she’s …”

Kit glared at Slughorn and he trailed off. Somehow, the rosy colour in her cheeks and absence of her cold gray eyes make no impact on her continence. She was still as scary as ever.

“Loyalty is not a crime,” said Kit coldly. “It is to whom you devote yourself to that defines you.”

Slughorn said nothing and it was very clear that he felt intimidated by this young newcomer. Kit generally had that effect on people. He continued to stare at Kit in stunned silence.

“So…” said George hesitantly. “Maybe we should…head back home? You know…before mum starts panicking.”

Kit’s expression immediately softened and she cast George a small smile and nod.

“Right…” said Tonks in a rather awkward manner. “See you later then Professor Slughorn.”

Slughorn mumbled in reply. Tonks jerked her head at the door.

“Come on you lot,” she said.

Harry, Kit and the twins followed Tonks out the door. Kit and George lagged behind slightly, casting each other glances and smiles. Tonks raised her eyebrows at them but said nothing. Harry managed to catch up with Tonks rather quickly. She was taking great pains to make sure she didn’t trip over and roll down the stairs.

“Umm…Tonks?”

Tonks looked at Harry inquiringly. She missed a step and fell forward as she did so but Harry caught her arm.

“Umm…did anyone…notice that I’m gone?” he mumbled.

Tonks rolled her eyes as she steadied herself.

“Did we notice that Harry Potter went missing for over five hours when he should have been at Order Headquarters?” she said sarcastically. “Yeah…we did.”

*


It was well past midnight when Harry arrived at the Burrow. The moment Harry walked through the door he was greeted by a shriek from Mrs. Weasley. The air was knocked out of his lungs as she seized him in a bone crushing hug worthy of Hagrid.

“Harry…oh we were so worried…” she sobbed.

Harry tried to struggle out of her grasp.

“I’m f-fine Mrs. Weasley!” he choked.

Mrs. Weasley was either ignoring him or too relieved to pay attention.

“…could have died…”

“Mrs. Weasley-”

“…what was Professor Dumbledore thinking? Oh…”

Tonks tapped Mrs. Weasley on the shoulder and looked at Harry with concern.

“Umm…Molly?” mumbled Tonks. “He’s turning blue.”

Harry gasped as Mrs. Weasley let go off him. Harry’s insides squirmed with guilt as she conjured a handkerchief and blew her nose loudly. She suddenly stopped sobbing and stared at Kit in shock.

“Oh…” said Mrs. Weasley in surprise, “you’re looking well dear.”

Kit relayed the night’s events to Mrs. Weasley, carefully cutting out anything that mentioned Harry being in mortal danger. She yelped loudly when Snape’s part in the adventure was told.

“Goodness…so that horrible man was really on our side all this time?” she breathed.

Kit’s mouth twitched.

Professor Snape is on our side…yes,” said she quietly.

“So…you’re no longer spying for the Order?” muttered Mrs. Weasley, subconsciously dropping her voice and casting a glance at Harry.

Kit’s expression changed immediately and a wide smile formed on her face as she shook her head.

“Good,” said Mrs. Weasley firmly. “Now that you’re done hanging around that awful lot we can concentrate on putting some meat on those bones.”

Kit’s smile faded and she blinked. Tonks tried and failed not to laugh.

What?

Mrs. Weasley shook her head disapprovingly at Kit’s small frame that seemed even skinnier in her loose fitting, black robes.

“Honestly, you’re thinner than he is,” she said, jerking her head at Harry. “What do they feed you in that place?”

Kit seemed unsure how to take this. Harry guessed that she had never been mothered by anyone in her life.

She cast a nervous glance at George who only grinned and said, “Welcome to the family, Kit.”

*


In a matter of moments, Mrs. Weasley conjured up yet another feast. Harry hadn’t realised how tired and hungry he was. He collapsed into a chair, helped himself to a thick slice of roast and dug in. Kit slid into the chair between George and Harry. She ate her meal painstakingly slowly as though she could barely get it down. When they were half finished, Mrs. Weasley yawned loudly.

“I think I’ll head off to bed now,” she said. “Are you sure you’ll be alright Harry dear?”

Harry nodded but Mrs. Weasley forced another helping on him before leaving anyway.

“I’m off too,” mumbled Tonks sleepily. “Night everyone.”

Tonks tripped as she left the kitchen and went outside. Harry thought that Kit would be more relaxed with Tonks and Mrs. Weasley gone but she still seemed rather uncomfortable. Actually, she looked rather cross. Harry couldn’t help noticing that she was continuously looking at him as though she had something so say.

Before Harry could ask her, two figures burst into the kitchen.

Hermione’s expression was wild. Her eyes sought out Harry and widened when she found him. Ron looked simply furious.

“Ron…Hermione…” began Harry.

But words had deserted him.

Hermione glared at Harry before turning on her heel and striding away from him. She was quickly followed by Ron. Harry started forward and caught Hermione’s hand but Ron gave him such a glare that he let go immediately and backed away.

“Come on…guys!” he pleaded.

They ignored him and stormed back up the stairs. Harry returned back to the table to find Kit, George and Fred starring at him. Fred looked away from Harry and took a second helping. Kit whispered something to George. He raised his eyebrows but nodded.

Before Harry could say anything, Kit seized him roughly by his arm and half-led, half-dragged him out of the kitchen.

“What the…Kit!”

Kit led him into the living room. Harry back away as Kit round on him angrily.

“Why did you not tell McGonagall about the Horcrux?” she hissed.

Harry quickly blocked out his conversations with Dumbledore with Occlumency but Kit realised what he was doing.

“Don’t try it,” snarled Kit. “All I need to do is go back to Hogwarts and tell her everything that happened.”

Kit was glaring at Harry with such intensity he was sure that she would carry out her threat if he kept his mouth shut.

“There are more horcruxes,” he muttered.

Kit’s widen in alarm. Her look of shock was quickly replaced by revulsion.

“He made more than one?” she said in disgust.

“Dumbledore thought that Helga Hufflepuff’s cup and Slytherin’s locket were as well horcruxes as well,” continued Harry. “Kit, you can’t-”

Kit shook her head.

“McGonagall needs to know!” she said, struggling to keep her voice under control.

“No! Dumbledore wanted…wanted me to be the one who went after them. Alone.”

“Potter…alone you’re dead,” said Kit in exasperation. “You can not possibly imagine the Dark Lord’s power!”

“You can’t tell her!” said Harry desperately.

They glared at each other for at least a minute before Kit looked away.

“You said…that Helga Hufflepuff’s cup and Slytherin’s locket are horcruxes as well,” she murmured in resignation.

Harry slumped on the couch and Kit copied him, equally exhausted.

“Dumbledore thought so…” said Harry.

He looked up hopefully, suddenly wide awake. Kit knew about Ravenclaw’s Soul Box. Maybe she knows about the others.

“Do you know anything about them?” he asked, barely veiling his excitement.

Harry’s heart jumped as Kit nodded.

“They were only bedtime stories really,” said Kit. “I’m not terribly sure about some of it…I always thought that it was mostly legend…but some of it is definitely true.”

Kit looked out the window and smiled. For a moment she seemed oblivious to Harry’s presence, lost in fond memories.

“Bedtime stories in Azkaban?” asked Harry with a frown.

“Sometimes,” said Kit softly. “On good days.”

Kit shook herself and stopped smiling as though she was afraid she had betrayed too much emotion.

“One thousand years ago...at the time of the Founders...The dementors were originally nomads…gypsy witches and wizards who traveled all over Europe,” said Kit somewhat stiffly. “They were a peaceful people…but the muggles were not so peaceful.”

“Professor Binns said the witch burnings were completely pointless,” said Harry. “I did an essay on it.”

“They usually were…but burnings weren’t all that the muggles did and sometimes they did work. The gypsies may have been magical but they were not schooled. Magic ran wild and no one could use it when they really needed to.”

“What about Hogwarts?”

“That’s why Hogwarts started in the first place,” said Kit. “The dementors and the poorer witches and wizards could not teach their children…bad things were happening. It didn’t help that peasants in those days were allowed to use wands.

It was Lord Salazar of Slytherin and Lady Rowena, daughter of Ravenclaw who first proposed the school. They were both appalled by the actions of the muggles. They called upon Slytherin’s childhood friend, Godric son of Gryffindor and his companion, Helga daughter of Hufflepuff.”

“Companion? You mean-”

“Mind out of the gutter Potter…No, I don’t mean that,” said Kit. “Hufflepuff and Gryffindor traveled Europe together rescuing young witches and wizards from muggle prisons. Gryffindor renounced his title and his land…everything to help magical folk caught in the clutches of the muggles. Helga…was a peasant girl he saved and she joined him.”

“Are you sure nothing-”

“Nothing happened,” said Kit frowning.

“Okay…okay…” said Harry raising up his hands defensively.

Kit shook her head but she was hiding a smirk.

“Everything began well,” continued Kit. “The school was up and running…The gypsies pledged allegiance to Rowena.”

“What does that mean?”

“They were her servants,” explained Kit.

Harry grimaced.

“Oh…Hermione would love that…”

“She was a fair mistress. They practically worshipped her. She gave them a safe haven and she taught their children. It seemed that everything was going to be fine but something went horribly wrong.

“Let me guess…Slytherin?”

“No, that was later on…it was Lady Rowena. She was a noblewoman… so she married a nobleman. It was an arranged marriage to Lord Septimus of the House of Azkaban.”

“Azkaban?”

“At the end of the term Lady Rowena would return to the Fortress of Azkaban with her husband. Nobody knows what happened there but every time she came back from her castle she was a little different.

Lord Gryffindor was the first to notice it. Lady Rowena had always been a lot sharper than any of the founders…even cleverer that Lord Salazar…but every time she came back she was distracted. It got to the point where Helga had to start taking some of Lady Rowena’s lessons. She’d fly into rages and her mood change faster than the wind. She began staying longer and longer in Azkaban. Soon the other founders rarely saw her.

In the mean time Lord Salazar-”

“Wait! What happened to Ravenclaw?”

“I’m getting there Potter,” said Kit crossly. “Now as I was saying…Lord Salazar was riding through the muggle village when he noticed a large crowd of people. They were crowding around a young girl who they were burning to death. Slytherin performed a flame freezing charm but she died within the hour despite his efforts.

Slytherin’s hatred of the muggle grew tenfold. He tried to convince the others to stop admitting muggleborns into the school but they would not be persuaded. Maddened with anger, he built a new chamber in Hogwarts. Using the pipeline Rowena had designed; he created the Chamber of Secrets and bred a monster…who I believe you’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

While the monster was still too young to kill, the blissfully ignorant Lord Godric brought someone to assist the founders and take over Rowena’s lessons. Lady Selena, his half-sister, was a half-blood. At first Slytherin despised her like he did all muggles. But she was charming, beautiful, clever and wise and he found himself falling in love-”

What?

“Err…It’s not exactly a well known version of the story…Soon Slytherin was so in love with Selena that he confessed his actions to the other three. Slytherin could not destroy the Chamber so he took Gryffindor’s sword and sealed the chamber with his blood and only his blood could open it again…You can’t open the chamber if you’re dead,” she added gravely.

“He killed himself?” whispered Harry.

Kit nodded.

“Unfortunately, he was completely oblivious to the fact that Lady Selena was with child…his child. Selena died in child birth. The little boy grew up without parents and scarcely saw his guardians. He grew up resenting muggles even more than his father did.”

“What about Rowena?” muttered Harry.

“Well, that’s when the story starts to involve the nomads. With his best friend dead, Gryffindor went to tell Lady Rowena the bad news. He sailed a ship to Azkaban and when he arrived he given a rather unpleasant surprise.”

“What kind of surprise?” asked Harry.

“Hundreds of cloaked creatures swarmed towards him and tried to suck out his soul,” said Kit with a grimace.

“Oh…right.”

“The creatures were taking away his happiness and feeding of his worst memories. Godric thought of the happiest things he could and summoned a light to fend of the darkness. Godric knew that the light from his wand would not keep them at bay for long so he searched for the source of the darkness. He climbed to the peak of the highest tower of Azkaban and found Lord Septimus dead and Lady Rowena curled up in the corner with a little jewelled box in her hand.”

“The Soul Box…” whispered Harry.

“It seemed like Rowena had tried to curse her husband with the Soul Box. There was a struggle in which he was killed and the Box was opened. The servants that had come to their mistresses aid were cursed instead. Rowena barely escaped becoming a dementor herself.

Rowena’s curse was quite a peculiar one…it makes the victim immortal but deprives them of their soul so their existence is worse than Death. Without a soul, you cannot feel emotions like joy and sadness. You can only feel hollow. They desperately seek happiness but merely touching it is sheer agony…hence the patronus charm… They only way they can retain a little bit of humanity is to take the souls and the sadness of others.

In an attempt to protect Rowena from herself and others, Godric reluctantly locked her up in the tower and she became the first prisoner of Azkaban. She died a few years later. Godric never told Helga of her closest friend’s fate.

After Slytherin and Ravenclaw’s death, Helga married the Blacksmith and she had two children. They lived in a small hut on the Hogwarts grounds and they were the happiest of the founders. One day, when Helga was in the green house…her daughter walked into the Forbidden Forrest by herself. She couldn’t find her way out and night soon fell.

When it became clear that she was dead, Helga was consumed by grief. She conjured a golden cup and filled it with water from the Lake. On the cup she placed the most powerful spells until finally when she looked into the cup…she could see into the Realm of the Dead.

Gryffindor found out about the cup. He was rightfully worried that the dead might find a way through the cup and into our world so he tried to take the cup away from Helga. The Blacksmith and Gryffindor tried to reason with Helga but she would not willingly give them the cup. There was a struggle and Helga spilled the contents of the cup onto her curtains. She fell back into it and vanished. When Gryffindor pulled them back to help her, he found that there was nobody to help. She was gone.”

“The Veil…in the Department of Mysteries,” muttered Harry. “The one Sirius fell though.”

Kit nodded.

“Gryffindor and the Blacksmith hid the cup within Hogwarts where nobody could find it but Helga’s other child, her grown up son, stole the cup and ran away. He passed the cup to his children and eventually the secret of the cup was lost.”

“What about Gryffindor?” asked Harry. “Was he the only one of the Founders not to completely lose it?”

“It sounds rather bleak when you put it that way… well, he was. He left the school to travel the world and forget his friends. He did not want the school to be ripped apart like his friends were so he found a way to divide the students. To protect the school he entrusted to the new headmaster his sword. He left Europe and traveled lands unknown…and so ends the tale of the Founders Four.”

Chapter 18: A Very Weasley Wedding
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Author’s Note: This is just a bit of light-hearted cheesy-ness before the angst, violence and what not in the next chapters…I wrote this before Deathly Hallows so Mrs. Delacour is a lot different to what she is in the book.




A Very Weasley Wedding


The following morning was bright and sunny. Not a trace of fog hung in the air and, for the first time, it truly felt like summer.

Most of the Order were in the kitchen eating breakfast. Mrs. Weasley had invited McGonagall as well. Harry had the impression that the invitation was to cheer the headmistress up after the events of last night. She seemed a little ill and said very little; only the occasional word to Lupin or Kingsley.

Harry ate in silence. Hermione and Ron were determinedly avoiding his gaze and Hermione was stabbing at her toast with unwarranted venom so he suspected they were still angry with him. The others were oblivious to the tension between the three friends and happily continued their conversations.

Kit sat at the end of the table with the twins. She finally seemed to be getting along with Fred. Kit proved to have a tongue as sharp as Snape’s and all three of them were exchanging witticisms and jokes. Harry noticed that Kit was in a much better mood than he was but she had not improved her eating habits. Something that Mrs. Weasley was more than willing to help with.

She headed towards Kit, holding the frying pan in a rather menacing manner. Kit almost seemed to flinch as she approached.

“Take more!” ordered Mrs. Weasley.

“No really, Mrs. Weasley,” insisted Kit. “I couldn’t possibly-”

Mrs. Weasley chose to ignore her and piled some more scrambled eggs on her plate.

“…refuse,” finished Kit lamely.

McGonagall smiled slightly. It was the first time she had done so in a long time and Harry was sure the presence of Snape in the castle had a lot to do with it.

They were interrupted by the arrival of Mr. Weasley from work. Mrs. Weasley conjured some more eggs and had started humming.

“Morning Arthur,” she said absently. “Have some…”

When she finally turned to look at her husband, Mrs. Weasley nearly dropped the frying pan in surprise.

Standing behind Mr. Weasley was Rufus Scrimgeour.

“…breakfast,” breathed Mrs. Weasley.

Silence fell on the table. Mrs. Weasley looked around the room for help and, when it did not come, she spoke up in a quiet, nervous voice.

“Good Morning Minister. It’s good to see you again.”

Scrimgeour nodded stiffly.

“Forgive my intrusion,” said Scrimgeour, giving everyone in the room the impression that he was not sorry at all. “I must have a word with Katherine immediately.”

McGonagall nodded. Her features were impassive.

“Certainly Minister,” said McGonagall calmly. “Katherine, would you mind accompanying the Minister to the garden?”

Kit abruptly got to her feet and hurried outside. The minister limped behind her. Mr. Weasley fell into a chair, conjured up a coffee mug and drained the contents in one go. They looked out the window and saw Kit and Scrimgeour talking. Scrimgeour was evidently in a foul mood and Kit seemed more than a little frightened.

“What if he makes her go back to Azkaban?” muttered George.

“They wouldn’t do that,” murmured Mrs. Weasley, more to herself than anyone else. “She’s human now.”

“But she’s still got the abilities of a dementor,” said Tonks quietly.

McGonagall nodded.

“She’s more than capable of performing the Dementor’s Kiss if she has to,” she said. “They destroyed the Soul Box…but they didn’t use it to take those powers back. The minister won’t be adverse to using that against her.”

After exchanging glances, George and Fred got to their feet and tried to discretely walk out of the kitchen.

“Don’t even think about,” said McGonagall.

The twins winced and turned around to face their old teacher.

“About what?” asked Fred, feigning innocence.

McGonagall seemed to be hiding another smile.

“About the extendable ears and eye I know you have in your pockets,” said McGonagall dryly. “I inducted you both into the Order but I can easily rectify that.”

The twin grudgingly sat back down and looked out the window with the others. Scrimgeour seemed to have heard Kit’s undoubtedly altered version of events and was no longer angry. His lion-like features were a mixture of relief and shock. They continued to talk for another five minutes and, though they could not hear what Kit and the Minister were saying, nobody touched their food as they watched them.

Kit returned to the kitchen. At first she kept her features impassive but slowly, a smile formed on her face.

“The Minister has gone,” she said.

“Is everything alright?” asked Mrs. Weasley gently.

“More than alright,” said Kit, her smile widening.

Harry felt himself smiling as well. He was sure that this meant that Kit was finally free of Azkaban.

“And what we discussed?” asked McGonagall.

Kit nodded and did not elaborate. When he realized that his curiosity was not going to be satisfied, Harry returned to his breakfast.

*


Harry spent a lonely day outside avoiding everyone. He had decided to stop wandering and head inside after he accidentally interrupted a very embarrassed Kit and George from …what they were doing.

He had taken two steps into the Burrow when Hermione and Ron came rushing towards him, both of them livid.

“You…idiot!” shouted Hermione.

No longer able to contain herself, she whacked Harry hard on the arm.

“Ouch! Hermione-”

Harry was silenced by a another blow…this time to the head. Ron was making no attempt to stop her and Harry had a feeling that he wanted to hit Harry too.

“Do you have any idea how bloody worried we’ve were?” snarled Ron.

“You don’t…ouch! Hermione, let me talk!”

Hermione stopped hitting Harry and glared him as he caught his breath and rubbed his sore arms. Her expression turned to shock when Harry explained why he gone after the horcrux alone.

“You guys are my friends,” said Harry dully. “I’m not going to do that to you.”

There was a moment of silence and then Hermione burst into tears.

“Oh Harry!”

Hermione flung her arms around his neck. Completely stunned by Hermione’s change in mood, Harry could only pat her on the back. When Hermione had composed herself and released him, Ron spoke.

“Mate, I know you meant well but…you can’t go without us,” said Ron.

“But-”

“Look…we’ll talk about this after the wedding alright?” said Ron. “Do you forgive us for attacking you?”

Hermione turned red and mumbled under her breath. Harry tried to stop himself from grinning. Did he forgive them? They had only been worried about him…and now they were on his side again. He would forgive them one hundred times over.

“Don’t worry about it guys,” said Harry with a grin he could no longer hide.

“Well, come on then,” said Ron brightly. “I’m starving.”

As Ron hurried towards the kitchen, Hermione rolled her eyes.

“You’re always starving.”

*


The conversation at the dinner table was centred solely on the wedding preparations. With Hermione and Ron on his side once more, Harry felt incredibly light-hearted but his feeling of elation was nothing to Fleur’s.

With the day of the wedding approaching Fleur was absolutely…hyper. Bill was smiling slightly to himself at his fiancée’s antics. She seemed to be finding it difficult to say in her seat and her hands were making actions for every word she spoke. She spoke so quickly that Harry was finding hard to understand what she was saying through her French accent.

“I weeshed to invite Professeur Snape but eet would ‘ave been razzer…messy with all ze Aurors I have already asked to come,” said Fleur rapidly.

“Pity,” muttered Ron.

“Ronald,” said Mrs. Weasley warningly.

Fleur continued as though there had been no interruption. She was too excited to be offended.

“Bill and I ‘ave decided on more bridesmaids. I could not leave out ‘Ermione and Keet!” said Fleur. “We ‘ave become so close and zis way we can ‘ave more of Bill brothers in ze procession!”

George cast a glance at Kit who instantly turned pale. Since she was no longer a spy for the Order she no longer had an excuse no to go and Harry had the feeling that the mere thought of being in the procession was rather daunting for her.

Fleur hopped up and down in her seat as she remembered another detail of her wedding plans.

“Ooo…and I ‘ave invited all my friends from Hogwarts!” cried Fleur. “Poor girl…I remember ‘ow fond she was of Cedric Diggory. I had to invite her…I was so close to Cedric myself.”

Harry’s stomach plummeted and Ginny turned scarlet.

“I-I’m sorry…who?” asked Harry.

“You remember Cho Chang!” said Fleur impatiently.

Harry swallowed.

“A… bit,” he muttered.

“She ‘as been so down lately,” said Fleur sadly. “I met ‘er in Diagon Alley ze uzzer day.”

“Harry cheered her up a bit,” muttered George.

George suddenly yelped loudly and clutched his leg under the table. Ginny was looking daggers at him.

“Ginny, what was that for?” he cried.

“Sorry George,” snarled Ginny. “Did I kick you?”

Kit raised her eyebrows and stared determinedly at her plate.

“This is going to be awkward…” muttered Ron to Harry.

Fleur then decided to tell them of another development.

“I’m also inviting Veektor Krum!”

Hermione squeaked and Ron’s ears turned scarlet. Harry took another bite and patted Ron on the shoulder.

“Really awkward,” he agreed.

*


The day of the wedding was glorious and pleasantly warm. The sky was a pale, forget-me-not blue and was not tarnished by a single cloud. Even the garden gnomes were respecting the occasion and making themselves scarce. Two rows of white pews decorated with tiny white flowers and gold ribbon had been conjured in the garden. It was…in short…perfect.

The mood inside the Burrow however, did not mirror the exterior.

Kit closed her eyes, took a deep breath and walked into Ginny’s bedroom. When she opened her eyes her heart nearly stopped then and there. To Ginny’s utmost disgust, her bedroom had been transformed into a dressing room. There were large mirrors, hundreds of magic potions, every colour of eye make up under the sun and a sinister looking silver instrument with a use Kit could only imagine. To make matters worse…everything was in a light shade of pink.

“Merlin forbid…” muttered Kit in despair.

Ginny grimaced.

“Welcome to hell Kit,” said she bitterly.

Gabrielle Delacour was sitting next to Ginny quietly. She gave Kit a little nod and mumbled a few words of mingled French and English which Kit replied to. Hermione gave Kit a forced smile as the pale girl walked rigidly into the threshold of feminine horror.

“What do you suppose this is?” asked Hermione curiously, holding up the silver instrument.

“Bellatrix and I didn’t discuss make up in Azkaban,” snarled Kit, whose mood was steadily turning foul due to the excess of pink. “How the bloody hell am I supposed to know?”

Hermione put down the instrument abruptly. They were interrupted by the sound of crying downstairs. Hermione slowly turned to Ginny.

“Percy isn’t coming then?” she muttered.

Ginny’s mood seemed to be as affected as Kit’s.

“Did you really think that pompous bighead would show up?” snapped Ginny.

Kit grimaced and took a seat next to Hermione. Fleur was raced into the bedroom.. Her excitement had long since turned into panic.

“Where are ze dresses?” she cried. “And where eez Molly?”

“Mum’s not doing so well Fleur,” said Ginny quietly. “Because of Percy.”

I am not doing so well!” said Fleur loudly. “My muzzer eez going to be ‘ere any minute-”

“’Ello Fleur.”

Fleur squealed and turned around. Mrs. Delacour stood in the doorway. She was as beautiful as her daughter…and certainly had more vela blood in her. Her beauty however, was slightly compromised by the fact she looked like she’d rather be anywhere else in the world. She was wearing black robes as though she was in mourning and she was looking around the Burrow in contempt. Fleur shuffled forward with her head bowed. Ginny raised her eyebrows. Was Fleur…actually frightened of her mother?

“Err…’ello muzzer. ’Ave you seen where Molly eez?” asked Fleur nervously.

“’Oow should I know?” asked Mrs. Delacour in a rather aggressive manner. “She eez probably off catching cheeckens somewhere.”

Ginny’s mouth fell open in disgust and Fleur gasped.

“Muzzer!” cried Fleur. “’Oow could-”

Mrs. Delacour ignored her daughter and turned to the shocked Hermione and Kit and the disgusted Ginny.

“You bridesmaids?” she asked.

Kit and Ginny seemed unable to speak so Hermione forced herself to nod. Mrs. Delacour took one look at Hermione and burst out laughing. Hermione flushed and bit her lip.

“Oh my… do you managed all zis ‘air?” she asked.

“With a brush?” murmured Hermione.

“Hmph…” said Mrs. Delacour in disdain. “No, no, no… you must straighten eet!”

Hermione looked at the floor and mumbled to her feet.

“But…I like it-”

“No buts!” hissed Mrs. Delacour.

Then Mrs. Delacour turned her assault to flabbergasted Kit.

“You! Are you ill?” asked Mrs Delcour sharply.

Kit took a step back from the intimidating French woman.

“No…I’m fine,” she mumbled.

Mrs. Delacour gave Kit a look of distaste. Kit had never been very vain but Mrs Delcour made her want to walk around with a paper bag (or black hood) over her head for the rest of her life.

“You are so…skeenny…and…blanc…and you’re ‘air eez so…fleemsy…”

Kit flinched as Mrs. Delacour took a strand of her thin, brown hair between two fingers and let it fall.

“Rouge…lots of rouge,” added Mrs. Delacour as an after thought, “and something to make your ‘air more…poofy.”

Mrs. Delacour then turned to Ginny.

“And you…”

Ginny glared at Mrs. Delacour until she stopped talking. Unlike Kit and Hermione, Ginny wasn’t going to take any rubbish from her.

“You’re fine,” mumbled Mrs. Delacour.

Mrs. Delacour quickly recovered and returned to her usual self.

“I have ze dresses,” she said coldly.

With a flick of her wand, the dresses appeared on a silver clothes rack. Fleur, Hermione and Gabrielle gasped and Ginny groaned loudly. Kit, who had never worn anything but black in her entire life, stood frozen in horror.

They were fluffy…and pink.

Kit closed her eyes and opened them; clearly hoping she was still blind. Fleur finally found her voice.

“Muzzer…ze bridesmaid dresses were gold!” cried Fleur. “Zey’re…like Tonks’ ‘air!”

At this, Kit unfroze and a moan escaped her lips. Not like Tonks…

“Pfft… gold at a wedding?” snapped Mrs. Delacour. “You’ll look reediculous!”

At this point, Fleur was beside herself.

“But everything eez gold!” she shrieked.

“Not anymore,” said Mrs. Delacour tartly. “I ‘ave dealt with eet.”

With that ominous speech, Mrs. Delacour strode out of the bedroom. Not for long…she’d be back.

“Oh no…” muttered Fleur. “Zis is going to be ‘orrible.”

Ginny gave her future sister-in-law a pat on the shoulder. For once, she completely agreed with her.

*


It took all Kit’s self restraint not to scream when she looked in the mirror. They were all pink and poofy but Gabrielle and Ginny had escaped the worse of it. Hermione’s bushy brown hair was dead straight. In fact, it had plastered onto her head. Mrs. Delacour had gone slightly overboard with the blush on Kit and she looked like…well…

“I look like Delores Umbridge,” said Kit, her voice strangled and high pitch and her now bright pink features contorted in horror.

“It’s not that bad…” muttered Hermione, fidgeting with the fluffy pink mass that was her skirt.

Kit and Ginny slowly turned to glare at Hermione.

“It’s pink!” they shouted in unison.

Gabrielle was muttered in angrily in French and casting glances at her sister. Fleur poked at the numerous folds of her wedding dress. It was once sleek and elegant. Now she looked…for lack of a better description… fluffy.

“Désolé,” said Fleur with a wince. “My muzzer…she can be a little…well, she eez a widow and…”

They were interrupted yet again, but thankfully this time by Mrs. Weasley. Kit looked away. It was obvious that the woman who had been so kind to her had been crying. Mrs. Weasley looked beautiful in the lovely witch’s hat the twins had given her last Christmas but her face was red and blotchy and she held a very damp handkerchief in her hand. She didn’t even notice the changed dresses.

“Oh I’m sorry Fleur…” said Mrs. Weasley softly. “I should have been here but…I was a bit of a mess this morning. Percy…is not coming…and…”

Mrs. Weasley trailed off and buried her face into her handkerchief. Fleur bit her lip and put a hand on her future mother-in-law’s shoulder. Her needs were greater than Fleur’s at the moment.

“Don’t worry Molly,” said Fleur gently. “Just go sit with ze guests.”

Mrs. Weasley blew her nose in reply and shuffled away. Fleur turned to her bridesmaids who were right now…her only allies.

“Ginny…can you do me favour?”

*


The Tonks’ walked past the fluffy procession. Tonks was looking rather pretty in emerald green robes. Andromeda had probably made her daughter change her hair colour to black and she looked as uncomfortable as Kit in pink. Andromeda held herself with a little more grace than her daughter and a little less arrogance than her sisters and looked beautiful in robes of midnight blue.

The Tonks’ all tried to smile at Fleur but their smiles faltered and were replaced by looks of concern. Fleur had started to hyperventilate at the thought of what else her mother had in store and Hermione had to conjure a paper bag for her to breathe in.

“Err…good luck Fleur,” said Tonks with a wince.

Tonks made her way towards the guests but yelped as she tripped over Fleur’s trail. She was caught before she hit the floor by Lupin who had a slight smile on his face. He was wearing a pair of black dress robes that looked a little worn but suited him nevertheless.

“All right there Tonks?” smirked Kit.

Tonks gave Lupin a grateful smile as she got back on her feet.

“Sure I’m fine…nice dress by the way,” Tonks smirked back. “Pink suits you.”

Kit rolled her eyes.

“You more than me,” she muttered.

Before she could join the guests, Ginny called out to Andromeda. Andromeda turned to look at Ginny in surprise. Ginny muttered something to her and she scowled.

“We’ll see about that,” said Andromeda shortly.

When Andromeda had left, Hermione frowned at Ginny.

“What was that about?” she asked.

“You’ll see,” said Ginny with a grin.

*


The guests were chatting animatedly but fell silent as a violin and harping started playing themselves. Bill’s smile flickered slightly when he could sight of Fleur and her bridesmaids.

Gabrielle slipped in next to Charlie and tried to make herself scarce. Ginny tried to avoid Harry’s eye as she took her place next to Fred. Ron snorted when he saw Hermione but otherwise managed to control himself. George blinked at Kit as she stood next to him.

“Umm…” mumbled George.

“I know who I look like,” said Kit stiffly. “Don’t say it.”

“Okay…”

The celebrant was a rather short, bald man with laughing brown eyes and a pleasant smile. He wore his glasses on the tip of his nose and he held a thick book in his hand.

“Are we starting? Excellent…I’ve always wanted to see some magic!” said the celebrant.

Fleur nearly died then and there.

“You’re a…muggle?” she asked in disbelief.

“Don’t worry,” said the celebrant happily. “My cousin is a witch so I know all about you lot.”

The celebrant flicked through the pages of his book, oblivious to the dilemma he had caused. Magic in front of a muggle?

“Is this legal?” whispered Hermione.

“I don’t know,” answered Kit. “We can hardly stop now though…”

“Now before we begin, I have to ask if they’re any objections to this union?” asked the celebrant gently.

Fleur’s legs gave way from under her and she clutched Bill for support as her mother got to her feet. Mrs. Delacour seemed unable to contain herself.

“Well, I ‘ave problem with me leetle Fleur marrying into such a ‘orrid family!” she said loudly. “She eez obviously deleerious and I-”

Before she could utter another word, Andromeda sprung to her feet and drew her wand.

“Silenco!” hissed Andromeda.

The mute mother gave Andromeda a furious look. Andromeda used her resemblance to Bellatrix Lestrange to its full extent and glared right back. Mrs. Delacour made an inaudible squeak and sat back down.

“Don’t worry Fleur,” said Andromeda with a smile. “I’ll have a chat with her after the wedding.”

Fleur gave Andromeda a grateful smile and turned to face the muggle celebrant again.

“Continue,” she said nervously.

The celebrant shuffled on his feet and bit his lip.

“We really should hear what she has to-”

“Zere is no need…really,” insisted Fleur. “I plan to ignore ‘er anyway.”

“O-Oh…alright then.”

The celebrant cleared his throat and peered over his glasses to read the book in his hands.

“Do you…William Weasley…take Fleur Delacour to be you lawfully wedded wife? In good times and bad…”

The celebrant paused and looked meaningfully at Mrs. Delacour. Bill grimaced.

“We get the point,” muttered Bill. “Keep going.”

The celebrant continued with a jerk of his head. Bill looked Fleur in the eye and smiled as he said ‘I do’. Fleur beamed and practically shouted ‘I do’. The muggle celebrant closed the book and smiled at them both.

“In that case…I now pronounce you both husband and wife.”

With a cry of delight, Fleur Weasley threw her arms around Bill’s neck and a grinning Bill kissed her. There was a loud cheer from all the guests except Mrs Delacour who could not and did not want to make a sound. Mrs Weasley burst into tears of joy and buried her face into her handkerchief. The Weasley Twins gave a simultaneous shout and set off what appeared to be a whole box of Weasleys’ Wildfire Wiz-bangs Deflagration Deluxe. Harry risked a glance at Ginny. She was on her feet and cheering loudly. She met Harry’s gaze and smiled.

Chapter 19: A Turn for the Worst
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Author’s Note: Just a warning…This chapter is rather violent. Bellatrix… torture… Lucius… werewolves… the usual stuff.




A Turn for the Worst


Fleur Weasley was once again completely and utterly high on happiness. Andromeda had taken Mrs. Delacour away from the guests and had a seemingly civil conversation about why Fleur was allowed to marry into any family she wanted to. Mrs. Delacour had vanished and the bridesmaids had a sneaking suspicion that the insufferable woman was somewhere near the bar.

A large group consisting of the bridal party, the Tonks’, Lupin and Harry sat at one of recently conjured tables covered in a hot pink tablecloth. The bridesmaids had learnt to laugh at their ridiculous attire (except perhaps Kit) and the whole table was chatting loudly.

“Oh, ze fireworks were wonderful!” cried Fleur happily. "C’est génial!”

Fleur gathered up the twins in her arms and kissed them both on the cheek. The twin turned scarlet and started mumbling incomprehensible words to no one in particular.

“I thought you were going to play some ‘orrible trick but you were both so sweet!” continued Fleur.

“We had these heart-shaped fireworks but we didn’t want to over do it,” murmured Fred.

Fleur gave another cry of delight and kissed Fred on the cheek again. She aimed on at George but he ducked and gave a Kit an apologetic look. Kit only raised her eyebrows and smirked at him. Fleur continued her jubilant rant.

“Ginny and Andromeeda! You stop my muzzer just in time!”

“I figured Mrs. Tonks would be the right one to do it,” grinned Ginny.

Andromeda dropped her voice to a whisper and had the same mischievous look that Sirius had once had on his face. Harry found himself smiling.

“You should have seen what I did to mum and Bella on my wedding,” said Andromeda with a wink.

Ted burst out laughing. Tonks snorted and exchanged a glance with Lupin who was chuckling quietly. They had clearly heard the tale before.

“What did you do?” asked Kit curiously.

“Nothing…” said Andromeda innocently, “unless you count that incident involving a niffler and large amounts of cockroach clusters.”

Fred and George gave Andromeda a look of awe. A someone who managed to pull a prank on Bellatrix Lestrange on her wedding day was something to be admired. Sirius Black’s true cousin.

“Wicked,” they said in unison.

Still laughing, Tonks got to her feet, tripped and headed inside to get some butterbeer. As expected, Mrs. Delacour was slumped in the lounge room and was taking long drafts of something that was probably alcoholic. She hiccupped and headed outside, leaving Tonks alone. Before Tonks could reach the butterbeer, she caught sight of someone standing in the shadows. She grimaced. Always with the theatrics…

“Hello Snape,” said Tonks. “Umm… good to see you’ve recovered.”

Snape looked around warily before standing in the open. The last thing he needed was an Auror walking into the house at this moment. Tonks got the impression that he wanted to talk and gestured upstairs.

“Narcissa and Draco?” asked Snape sharply, when they were out of sight.

Tonks’ eyes widened in alarm at his words. How did he know?

“I am the one who recommended they stay at your house, Nymphadora,” said Snape. “I take it Minerva is unaware that they are hiding with your mother?”

Tonks had long since realised that Snape was going to call her Nymphadora for as long as she lived just to annoy the hell out of her. She had no intention of giving Snape the satisfaction and feigned deafness.

“I told McGonagall,” said Tonks impassively. “She’s the head of the Order…she needed to know.”

“The other members of the Order?”

Tonks shook her head.

“The less people informed the better,” she said.

Snape’s mouth twitched into a highly unpleasant smile.

“Is your… Lupin oblivious to this?”

Tonks scowled when Snape gave her his customary, condescending leer. Kit was starting to be a great deal more civil towards her and lately Tonks had been her usual cheerful self. Snape’s appearance was putting her renewed cheerfulness to the test. Snape was undisturbed by the glare she gave him.

“No, I told him as well!” glowered Tonks. Arsehole…I hope you can read my mind …greasy bastard.

“The Malfoys, Nymphadora?” asked Snape with a hint of impatience in his voice. “Are they well?”

Her expression softened slightly.

“Well…Draco can be an obnoxious little shit at times but I suppose he can be okay,” she said with a shrug.

“And Narcissa?” asked Snape quietly.

Tonks’ face fell and she looked down.

“She’s okay,” she mumbled.

Snape frowned at her. Tonks was avoiding Snape’s eyes.

“You were never exceptionally skilled at Occulmency, Nymphadora.”

Tonks jerked her head in agreement.

“She doesn’t talk to anyone...the last time I heard her utter more than a sentence was the night after she came home,” said Tonks softly. “She barely even looks at Mum…half the time it looks like she wants to sink into the wall and vanish.”

Tonks ran her hand through her now dark coloured hair.

“I…I don’t think she took her husbands’ betrayal very well,” she finished.

Snape’s face turned stony.

“How are they protected?” he asked through clenched teeth.

Tonks swallowed. She had the feeling Snape wasn’t very happy.

“There’s a protective circle drawn around the house. As long as they stay inside, not even You-Know-Who can get to them.”

“Are you certain?” asked Snape with a frown.

“I’m an Auror,” said Tonks coldly. “I think I know what I’m doing.”

“I have no doubt that you…think… you know what you’re doing.”

Tonks crossed her arms indignantly.

“I am merely worried that one of them will do something idiotic,” said Snape. “Draco is prone to being stir crazy.”

Tonks nodded. Though he had never tried to leave, her cousin hated being cooped up in her house. But Tonks had to give Malfoy credit where it was due…he was not a complete idiot.

“The spell lets me know if either one of them leaves the circle,” said Tonks, “and I think…after what happened to Dumbledore…Draco’s calmed down a bit.”

Tonks frowned at Snape.

“Is that the only reason you risked life and limb coming here?” she asked. “To check on my extended family?”

“I need to speak to Potter,” said Snape.

Tonks raised her eyebrows.

“And you think McGonagall will let you with one hundred feet of Harry without an armed escort?” asked Tonks.

“Well I’m not asking McGonagall, am I?” said Snape silkily. “I’m asking you.”

When Tonks did not respond, Snape’s impatience began to show through again.

“Nymphadora…it is a matter of some urgency.”

“And clearly something you failed to tell the Order,” said Tonks coldly. “You are not in a position to keep information from us Snape.”

Snape’s upper lip curled and his face turned pale with anger. Tonks held her ground and returned Snape’s glare without flinching.

I need to speak with Potter,” snarled Snape.

“Take it up with McGonagall,” said Tonks. “In fact, I think you should leave before someone finds out you’re here.”

Tonks turned on her heel, in what would have been an excellent impression of Snape if she didn’t stumble, and strode towards the steps.

Suddenly she stopped dead in her tracks.

“What is it?” asked Snape loudly.

Tonks slowly turned around to face Snape. Her face was pale and her eyes were wide with fear.

“They’ve left the circle,” she whispered.

Snape froze.

“What?”

Tonks trembled on the spot as the truth sunk in.

“A-Aunt Cissy and Draco,” she stammered. “One of them has left the protective circle I drew around the house.”

Snape drew his wand.

“Get Lupin,” said Snape sharply. “We’re leaving.”

*


A blood curdling scream reached Malfoy’s ears. Abandoning his Slytherin principals, he ran outside with his wand drawn. He instantly caught sight of Fenrir Greyback and his father. They were standing three yards from the front door. Lucius Malfoy was looking directly at him…and was holding a struggling blonde figure roughly by the arm. Malfoy tensed. Why did she leave?

Malfoy’s eyes rested on the thin, golden line drawn around the house. He took one step over the line and pointed his wand at his father.

“Let her…” Malfoy trailed off.

Lucius did release the blonde woman. As he did so, her hair turned black and her skin lost its pallor.

“You!” shouted Malfoy in horror.

In one swift motion, Bellatrix disarmed Draco.

“Draco, didn’t that mudblood Professor of yours teach you anything about the Polyjuice Potion?” said Bellatrix.

She summoning cords around her nephew’s ankles and wrist. He fell forward, struggling madly. Bellatrix turned to Lucius and grinned.

“You didn’t have to hit me so hard, Lucius,” she sneered, “though I must say the effect served its purpose.”

Lucius said nothing. His eyes were fixed on his struggling son and full of disdain and anger. Bellatrix turned to the house and called out at the top of her lungs.

“Come out Cissy!” she called wildly. “Come out and rescue Draco!”

Narcissa burst out of the front door, wand raised. She was clearly ill. Her face was like chalk, her hair was lank and there were shadows under her now lifeless blue eyes. Her robes hung loosely on her shoulders and it was clear that she had lost a lot of weight.

“Lucius, no!” she cried.

Lucius disarmed Narcissa before she could protest further. She shook violently as he pointed his wand at Draco.

“Lucius…” whispered Narcissa. “Please…He’s your son.”

Narcissa looked pleadingly into Luicus’ cold gray eyes, her own blue ones swimming with tears. Lucius stood with his wand pointed at Draco…but he did not utter a word. Narcissa breathed a sigh of relief as Lucius lowered his wand. Bellatrix glared at Lucius as he turned to face her.

“Lucius, I knew you would-” began Narcissa but Lucius cut her off.

“Bellatrix you do it,” said Lucius sharply. “I know how much you enjoy interrogating.”

Lucius!” cried Narcissa in horror.

Bellatrix’s grinned at Lucius as she drew her wand. It strayed towards her nephew but she seemed to change her mind. Her mad eyes widened as the tip of her wand met Narcissa’s throat.

“Crucio!” she cried.

Narcissa cried out in pain and crumbled as her sister’s curse stuck her. Malfoy shouted something rather nasty at his aunt that would have usually earned himself a scuff on the back of the head from Narcissa. Bellatrix ignored him, her wand still directed at Narcissa.

“Harry Potter…what is his weakness?” asked Bellatrix calmly.

Narcissa froze.

“I-I don’t know…B-Bella-”

A jet of red sparks soared out of Bellatrix’s wand a second time. Narcissa withered and twitched under his sister’s wand.

“Don’t lie, Cissy!” snarled Bellatrix. “Nymphadora, must have said something!”

“S-She didn’t…p-please…”

Bellatrix cursed her sister again. She was well past insane now. Her eyes were glassy and unfocused and her wand arm was shaking. Bellatrix didn’t even seem to realize what she was doing. Lucius’ hand twitched slightly as Narcissa pleaded with him.

“Don’t over exert yourself Bellatrix,” he said softly. “The Dark Lord needs you for the war and I doubt Saint Mungo’s can accommodate any more of your victims.”

Lucius’ words brought Bellatrix slowly back to reality. She giggled. It wasn’t a very girlish giggle. It made her seem more deranged than ever.

“When the Dark Lord takes over I will personally burn Saint Mungo’s to the ground,” she said, still giggling. “That way they won’t have any crazy people to worry about.”

Greyback laughed. Malfoy glared at his aunt in disgust.

“Wouldn’t count on that,” he spat.

Bellatrix’s mood changed rapidly. A jet of white light shot out of her wand and cut the side of Malfoy’s cheek.

“Watch your tongue Draco…or I’ll cut it out,” snarled Bellatrix.

Narcissa made a moan of protest and struggled to get to her feet.

“Ready to talk, Cissy?” asked Bellatrix with deceptive sweetness.

“N-No…I don’t…k-know…”

“Tsk, tsk …Why this sudden desire to protect Harry Potter of all people?” asked Bellatrix.

A mad grin formed on Bellatrix’s face and she cast a glance at Lucius.

“Don’t tell me…” she sneered. “You don’t want to disappoint your darling Severus?”

Narcissa’s eyes widened in fear and she caught Lucius eye. He had gone pale with anger.

“L-Lucius…it’s not true,” she whispered.

Bellatrix was now truly enjoying herself.

“So that’s how you convinced him to complete Draco’s task,” she continued, her eyes full of laughter. “I thought it odd that he agreed…and made the Unbreakable Vow in the bargain.”

Lucius looked away from Narcissa. He began to play with his wand between his fingers.

“And I wonder how you managed to convince Nymphadora that you were no longer loyal to the Dark Lord?” said Lucius, his voice dangerously quiet. “How did you do it Narcissa? Did you betray me?”

Her silence was all the answer he needed. With snarl on his face, Lucius pointed his wand at his wife.

“Crucio!”

Narcissa cried out more in shock than pain. Lucius was deaf to all pleas.

“Stop it!” screamed Draco. “Father, stop it!”

Lucius wrenched his wand away from Narcissa and the curse was taken off. She was barely conscious and her body was still twitching from the after effects of the curse. Bellatrix turned to her nephew, a smile playing on her lips.

“Well, speak up then Draco,” said Bellatrix.

“You have to let my mother go first,” said Malfoy quietly.

Bellatrix groaned.

Oh please…” said Bellatrix, clearly disgusted.

“You’ve picked a most inconvenient time to start acting like an idiotic Gryffindor,” snarled Lucius.

“She’s already been hit with more cruciatus curses than Alice Longbottom,” added Bellatrix.

Malfoy turned pale. No…

“You can save her!” he shouted.

Bellatrix laughed.

“Draco…dear nephew…we don’t want to save her,” she said. “You on the other hand…may live if you talk. Your choice.”

Malfoy gave Bellatrix a defiant look and said nothing. Bellatrix shook her head. Lucius did produce the most disappointing son…

“Foolish boy…” whispered Bellatrix, her mad eyes glinting. “We will get what we want.”

Bellatrix seized her nephew and forced his face upwards like a dementor. She stared into his eyes, forcing her way into his mind. Malfoy fought it but Bellatrix was stronger. When she had found what she was looking for she threw Malfoy down.

“What did you find?” asked Lucius impatiently.

Bellatrix frowned at Lucius.

“Who is Ginerva?” she asked.

Lucius froze. A look of triumph slowly formed on his face. Suddenly he was laughing as though he had heard a very funny joke.

“Arthur Weasley’s girl,” said Lucius through bursts of laughter. “This ought to prove fun. The Weasley’s are having a wedding as we speak.”

Bellatrix got the joke too and cackled and shrieked wildly.

“Aww…ickle baby Potter gwew up and got himself a girlfriend,” she mocked. “A blood twator too…”

“N-No…” croaked Malfoy, struggling to get up. “S-She doesn’t mean a thing to Potter. She’s just a-another girl to him.”

“Oh she’ll do for now,” sneered Bellatrix.

The sun was setting. Bellatrix cast a glance at Greyback. He cracked his neck audibly from side to side.

“Can you handle yourself?” she asked. “I’d love to stay and watch the fun… but Lucius and I have a wedding to attend.”

Greyback made a small growl in his throat and looked hungrily at Narcissa’s throat as though he wanted nothing more than to sink his yellow teeth into it.

“Go on Bella...Lucius…” said Greyback hungrily. “They’re as good as dead.”

Bellatrix smiled genuinely and gave Greyback a rare look of respect and understanding that made Malfoy sick.

“I leave my sister in your capable hands,” she sneered. “Goodnight Fenrir.”

Bellatrix turned on her heel and walked away.

“Coming Lucius?” called Bellatrix.

Lucius did not move. His eyes were fixed on Narcissa. Despite Bellatrix’s infuriated look, Lucius knelt beside her. Narcissa eyes met his again, filled with hope. He wasn’t going to leave us here…Severus was wrong…he loves me…he won’t leave Draco…

“Lucius…” whispered Narcissa faintly.

Lucius outstretched a hand and brushed a strand of blonde hair away from her face. His hand lingered there for a moment.

“Good bye Narcissa,” he said softly.

Lucius got to his feet abruptly and strode away. Narcissa made a small noise of despair as his footsteps became distant.

“Father!” cried Malfoy in horror.

Lucius continued to walk on. He reached Bellatrix’s side and, without so much as a second glance at his son and wife, he vanished with his sister-in-law.

“Father!” screamed Malfoy.

But Lucius was gone. Malfoy and Narcissa were now alone with Greyback. He seemed even more threatening as he flexed his dirty-nailed fingers in the half light of the golden sunset.

“Night doesn’t come fast enough anymore,” said Greyback huskily.

Malfoy released what Greybacks words meant a millisecond after he had spoken. He looked up at Greyback in fear and struggled in his bonds. Greyback licked his lips slowly and grinned.

“I can’t wait for it to be night anymore.”

“No!” shouted Malfoy. “Get away!”

Struggling even more wildly, Malfoy aimed kick at Greyback but his tied feet met only air. Greyback seized Malfoy but the scruff of his robes and threw him aside. Malfoy fell heavily, hit his head as he did so and lay still. A whimper left Narcissa lips as the werewolf put a hand on her throat and opened his mouth to bite.

Greyback was knocked back with the force of a sledgehammer by a jet of white-blue light. Standing in the distance was a black-haired witch and two wizards. For one wild moment, Greyback thought the woman was Bellatrix again but she was far too young and not nearly as intimidating. The men he instantly recognised. Remus Lupin was looking at Greyback with pure loathing. The other man was Severus Snape and he too was glaring at Greyback but his expression changed when his eyes fell on Narcissa’s prone form.

Greyback could smell the fear coming from Snape. It made him hungrier.

Another curse shot from the woman’s wand. The angry red sparks narrowly missed Greyback’s head. He finally recognised the woman. It was Bellatrix’s niece, Nymphadora Tonks.

“Get away from them!” snarled Tonks.

Greyback’s mouth formed a sneer that left his yellowed teeth slightly visible. It sent chills down Tonks’ spine. He wasn’t giving up…he was going to kill them. Snape looked at the setting sun. There was no way they could take on a full gown werewolf and hope to protect the Malfoys as well. He turned to Lupin.

“Have you taken your potion?” asked Snape quietly.

Lupin nodded, his eyes not leaving Greyback. A particularly vicious look formed on Snape’s face.

“Get him.”

The sun set.

Soon Lupin’s body… and Greyback’s… were shaking violently. Fur sprouted from their bodies and they fell onto all fours, withering on the ground as the curse took full affect. The werewolf Greyback was wilder and larger than Lupin. It was the leader of the pack; the alpha-male. Its skin stretch over its bones and its hair seemed to have been torn out in chunks. Its yellow eyes gleamed with hunger and bloodlust. He bared its sharp, blood-caked teeth.

When their transformations were complete, Lupin and Greyback threw back their heads and howled to the moon.

Then the battle started.

The circled each other, growling and snapping their jaws. Greyback was the first to strike. He slashed ferociously at Lupin’s muzzle. Lupin yelped in pain and bite Greyback on the back. With a howl, Greyback threw Lupin off and slashed at him…leaving blood on his fur.

“Remus!” screamed Tonks.

Lupin staggered and fell. Tonks started forward but Snape held her back and gave her a warning look. Lupin was more wolf than man now. As Greyback raised his razor sharp paw for the death blow, Lupin lunged at his neck. Greyback struggled feebly but Lupin clung on.

Greyback hit the ground dead.

*


Snape and Tonks rushed towards the Malfoys. Lupin was whining and nuzzling Narcissa’s face. Something was wrong… Tonks pulled her trembling cousin to his feet and pulled into a tight embrace. Malfoy was too disoriented to return it. Snape hoisted Narcissa gently off the ground. She gave a small moan of pain and clung tightly to Snape’s robes.

“D-Draco…” choked Narcissa.

Snape swallowed.

“He’s fine Narcissa,” he said. “Just hold still…”

Suddenly, Snape lifted up his hand away from Narcissa in horror. Her robes were damn with blood and his hands and robes were covered in Narcissa’s blood too. She her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she fell limply in Snape’s arms.

“Narcissa?” whispered Snape.

Narcissa did not respond. Snape quickly drew his wand. Tonks and Malfoy watched on helplessly as Snape frantically muttered spell after spell to no avail. Snape looked at Tonks and, for the first time she could remember, the Potions Master was betraying more than just a trace of fear. Snape had always hidden his fear with Occlumency and snide remarks but his Occulmency had seemingly deserted him and it was hardly the time for witticisms.

“These…these wounds are beyond my ability,” said Snape shakily. “We need Andromeda.”

Chapter 20: The Strike
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The Strike


After Tonks had ushered Lupin away from the guest and inside the Burrow, the wedding atmosphere had changed dramatically. Fleur and Bill were far too happy to notice this change. The new Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were so happily oblivious that Harry doubted that they would notice if Voldemort himself showed up to wish them well. Andromeda had lost her bubbly, mischievous mood and now whispering urgently to Ted. He seemed to be reassuring her and she fell silent. Harry turned to Kit.

“What do you think that was all about?” he muttered.

“I don’t know,” said Kit, shaking her head. “Tonks was fine before she went to get those drinks.”

Kit noticed that Harry looked worried. She gave him a reassuring smile.

“Tonks is an Auror,” she said. “Whatever it is…I’m sure she can handle it.”

Harry raised his eyebrows.

“I thought you didn’t like the Aurors?” he asked, dropping his voice so Andromeda and Ted could not hear.

“Not matter how much I dislike them… I can’t deny that they’re capable,” whispered Kit, “and Tonks isn’t that bad.”

“So you two aren’t fighting anymore?” smiled Harry.

Kit shrugged. Before she could say anything further, George sprung to his feet and offered her his hand. Kit smirked at his antics. Trust a Weasley to bring the life back into the party.

“May I have this dance, Miss Katherine?” asked George, in an excellent impersonation of Percy.

Kit rolled her eyes.

“I can’t dance, Mr. Weasley,” she said.

“Sure you can,” said George. “Anyone can dance…Come on, I’ll show you.”

Kit hesitated. Fred tapped George on the shoulder.

“You can’t dance either,” said Fred shrewdly.

“Sure I can,” insisted George. “I just can’t dance well.”

Kit and Harry laughed.

“If I must,” said Kit teasingly.

Kit took George’s hand and followed him to the dance floor that had been conjured in the middle of the garden. At this point, Bill and Fleur were barely aware that there were still guests around them and were waltzing around the garden looking rather dazed. Harry tried not to laugh when George tripped over Fleur’s trail and almost dragged Kit down with him. After trying and failing to mimic his brother and sister-in-law, George thought of a better idea.

“Why don't we just move around in a circle and pretend we know what we're doing?” he suggested.

This idea seemed to work. Every now and again, George would try to spin Kit around. This practice usually resulted in Kit tripping over her fluffy skirt. Ron shuffled in his seat. He seemed to be trying to work up the courage to ask Hermione to dance.

“Erm…Hermione?” he mumbled. “Would you…would you…”

Hermione flushed. Harry decided that his presence was adding pressure to an already awkward situation.

“I’m going to get some butterbeer,” he said, even though he wasn’t very thirsty at all.

“I’ll come with you!” said Ron desperately.

No,” said Harry firmly. “You stay here and I’ll bring you some.”

Harry left the table and, when he was a fair distance away, he cast a glance at Ron and Hermione. Ron took a deep breath and blurted something out to Hermione. What ever it was, it seemed to work. Harry grinned as a very red Ron began to dance with a very pale Hermione.

His grin vanished complete when he walked straight into a pretty, dark haired girl…a horribly familiar, pretty, dark haired girl. Cho Chang forced a smile and Harry’s stomach twisted itself into a knot. A long silence followed.

“Hello,” said Cho nervously.

Harry racked his mind for the appropriate response. It seemed to have deserted him.

“…Hi,” he said finally.

More silence. Somehow, ‘awkward’ simply didn’t cover it anymore.

“So… come here often?” asked Cho.

“Well…err…I live here,” mumbled Harry.

Cho’s eyes fell on the less-that-stable looking house and she blinked.

“Oh…that’s nice,” muttered Cho. “How…how have you been?”

It took Harry another thirty seconds to work out another response.

“Oh…good…I suppose.”

Both my ex-girlfriends are here, Voldemort’s trying to kill me and I’m going on a perilous quest to destroy his divided soul after the wedding but yeah…everything’s fine.

Harry shook himself. He was being an idiot.

“How are you?” he asked, attempting to sound calm.

Cho jerked her head.

“Good…I guess,” she said quietly.

Harry had the feeling that it was the same sort ‘good’ he had given her but he did not say anything. The awkwardness seemed to ease slightly.

“The Tornadoes hater seems to be a bit nervous,” said Cho casually.

“Who?” asked Harry with a frown.

Cho gestured to the dance floor. Ron had caught sight of Viktor Krum and was now taking great pains to lead Hermione as far away from him as possible. Hermione hadn’t seen Krum yet and was rather confused by Ron’s behaviour.

“Oh…long story,” said Harry with a grimace.

“How’s Ginny?”

Of all the things Cho could have possibly said, this was the most unexpected. She seemed to realise this when she saw the look of shock on Harry’s face.

“Sorry…” she mumbled. “I didn’t mean to pry…”

“I’m fine,” said a voice from behind Harry. “Thanks for asking.”

Harry turned and saw Ginny standing behind him, her expression unfathomable. Standing next to her was none other that Viktor Krum. He was looking around at the guest and clearly looking for someone.

“Hello Ginny,” said Cho quietly.

Ginny gave her what Harry thought was a very forced smile and nodded. Harry looked pointedly at Krum.

“Hello Viktor,” said Harry.

Krum gave Harry a broad smile, oblivious to the tension.

“I ‘ave not seen you in a long time ‘Arry,” said Krum. “‘Ave you been vell?”

Harry moved between Krum and the dance floor in an attempt to hide his dancing friends. This wasn’t particularly effective since Krum was a good three inches taller than him.

“Yeah,” said Harry, discretely trying to make himself taller. “You?”

“I okay,” said Krum. “Quvidttich is going good. We don’t ‘ave to worry about the dementors anymore.”

At this, Harry smiled. All thanks to Kit. Krum looked inquiringly at Cho.

“Oh…this is Cho Chang,” said Harry. “Cho, this is …well…you know Viktor Krum.”

Krum shook Cho’s hand and turned to face Harry again.

“Have you seen Hermy-oh-ninny?”

Damn it…

“VIKTOR!”

Hermione had finally caught sight of Krum. She left Ron looking rejected on the dance floor and ran to Krum. Krum hugged her and lifted her off the ground. It took all Harry’s self-restraint not to slap his forehead. Good one Hermione…

“Hermy-oh-ninny!” cried Krum. “It is vonderful to see you!”

Ron sulked to Harry side, glaring at Krum and Hermione. Krum let Hermione go and began looking around the guests.

“Vere is this Vonald Veasley you are alvays talking about?” he asked loudly.

Ron blinked. When he felt sure that he wasn’t hearing things, he sheepishly raised his hand. Harry and Ginny smiled. So that’s why Hermione’s letters to Krum were so long…

“You play quvidttich, no?” asked Krum. “In all those letter…Vonald this, Vonald that…Hermy-oh-ninny says you best player on the team!”

Ron beamed. Hermione cast an apologetic glance at Ginny and Harry. They were both trying not laughing. Cho cleared her throat to disguise a snort of laughter.

“I vont keep you two from your dancing,” said Krum. “Ve’ll talk about quvidttich later.”

Ron and Hermione departed again. Harry frowned at Krum. He was sure that Krum had liked Hermione. Krum noticed Harry’s look and shrugged.

“It vos a little obvious that she liked Vonald,” he said, dropping his voice. “Hermy-oh-ninny and I just good friends now.”

A few minutes after that incident, there was not a trace of tension and the four seekers, Harry, Ginny, Cho and Krum, were deep in conversation about Quidditch moves.

As Cho was describing her diversion tactics, Harry caught sight of something white moving in the sky. He lightly touched Ginny on the arm and pointed it out to her. Harry’s hand strayed to his wand. An unexplainable feeling of apprehension filled him.

As the flying white object drew closer, Harry recognized it as a patronus charm. The guests fell silent as the patronus soared towards Harry and landed before him. Harry froze. The patronus was a falcon.

It was Snape’s.

The falcon opened its beak and spoke.

“Narcissa and Draco were found by the Death Eaters,” it said with Snape’s voice. “They’re coming.”

As if on cue, at least fifty hooded figures apparated around the guests. Curses flew through the air and the guest scattered. The Death Eaters’ laughs and the guests screams were so loud that Harry’s were ringing.

The members of the Order that were present drew their wands and tried to protect the guests from the Death Eaters. Andromeda seemed to have her sister’s prowess in dueling as well as her looks. She and Ted were engaged in a fierce duel with two Death Eaters. Fleur and Bill were now absolutely livid and were dueling three Deaths. The Weasleys were out in full force but they were all dueling more than one Death Eater. They were out numbered.

“We’ve got to help!” shouted Harry.

Cho drew her wand and stunned one of the two Death Eaters who were chasing after Mrs. Delacour. Krum cursed the other on and they both ran into the fray.

“Ginny, go inside,” begged Harry.

Ginny responded by glaring at him, whacking him hard on the arm and going to help Hermione and Ron fight the Death Eaters. She hit one of them with such a powerful bat bogey hex that Harry decided that she was safe. In the distance, he saw Gabrielle running from a woman with long, dark hair…Bellatrix.

Harry ran to help her. Oblivious to his presence, Bellatrix laughed wildly and cast a cruciatus curse at the girl. Before the curse could strike her, Harry seized Gabrielle by the waist and pulled her under the long line of tables were the plates full of wedding cake were kept.

“Go!” he whispered.

Gabrielle crawled away from Harry, sobbing. Bellatrix laughed wildly.

“Come out and play Potter!” taunted Bellatrix. “Come out, come out, wherever you are!”

A jet of red light soared out of Bellatrix’s wand and struck the table next to the one Harry was hiding under. Before she could curse another table and potentially hit Gabrielle, Harry jumped up from under the table and shot a ball of flame at her. She blocked it deftly and returned it with a powerful blow of her own. Not powerful enough though. Bellatrix didn’t even seem to be trying. It was as if Harry wasn’t the one she was after.

“Getting good Potter!” sneered Bellatrix, as they continued to duel. “I hope you taught your darling Ginerva how to fight too.”

Harry’s heart nearly stopped then and there as they horrible truth sunk in.

They were not after him at all…they were after Ginny.

Bellatrix took advantage of Harry’s shock and cast another curse at him. He raised his wand to block it but it was too late.

“Harry, look out!”

Someone shoved Harry aside and Bellatrix’s curse struck the red haired figure back instea. Ginny slowly slid down the wall, blood trickling down her forehead. Harry jumped to his feet.

“Ginny!” he screamed.

Harry jumped to Ginny’s aid but the Bellatrix pointed his wand at him. Harry fell to his knees as the second curse struck him. The world began to dissolve around him. There were bangs and screams and the sounds of a struggle.

And then…black.

*


“Harry?”

Harry’s head was spinning. In the distance, he could here a female voice calling his name. He cracked opened one eye and saw the blurry outline of a dark haired girl. It wasn’t Kit, it wasn’t Hermione and it wasn’t Ginny. The figure put his glasses back on with shaking hands. As his vision cleared, Harry made out the vague outline of Cho Chang.

“Harry, are you alright?” she cried.

Harry struggled to his feet. Cho, thinking Harry was hurt, tried to force him back down but pushed her away.

“G-Ginny!” he croaked.

Harry looked at Cho hopelessly, praying he was going to hear good news but Cho’s eyes were teary.

“Harry,” whispered Cho. “The Death Eaters took her…Ginny’s gone.”




Author’s Note: I think I should have called this chapter THE EVIL CLIFFHANGER OF DOOM instead. Hmm…

Chapter 21: The Final Ultimatum
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The Final Ultimatum


The instant Ginny woke up, she knew something was wrong. The ground she lay on was damp and cold and her head throbbed painfully. She slowly opened her eyes and saw the cloudless night sky.

“So good of you to join us my dear,” said a soft, unpleasantly familiar voice.

Trembling, Ginny got to her feet. Her wand was gone and she was in a clearing in a dense forest. The moonlight light illuminated the cloaked figures that surrounded her. One of the cloaked figures was in the centre of the circle and standing directly before her. He lowered hood slowly and deliberately to reveal a white, snake-like face and glowing crimson eyes.

“You…” breathed Ginny.

Voldemort gazed at Ginny intently. Ginny looked frantically around the Death Eaters and, when she did not find what she was looking for, she glared angrily at Voldemort.

“What have you done with Harry?” she shouted, her hands balling themselves into fists.

Voldemort let out a high, cold laugh and began to circle Ginny like a predator about to strike.

“He is not here, Miss Weasley,” sneered Voldemort. “He is in perfectly good health…for now.”

Ginny felt herself shaking slightly as Voldemort circled her. She could feel his gaze and she could hear every step he took. She tried to hold her head high and resisted the urge to shudder. She was not going to fall to pieces for Voldemort’s amusement. For one ridiculous moment, she wished that she wasn’t wearing a fluffy pink dress.

“Enough of Harry Potter,” whispered Voldemort. “It is you I wished to see.”

He turned to face Ginny again, leaned towards her and gave her a calculating look as though she was something very interesting...something he did not quite understand. Something rare and foreign.

“I understand that you are the young lady who was fortunate enough to stumble upon my diary.”

Ginny returned Voldemort’s gaze with the piercing, fiery glare that Harry admired so. He leaned back slightly and now regarded her with cold surprise.

“You mean you had your goon force it on me?” snarled Ginny.

The Death Eaters began murmuring angrily. One of their number drew his wand and started towards her.

“Why you little b-”

Voldemort raised his hand to stop him and the Death Eater frozen dead in his tracks, mid sentence.

“Silence Nott!” snapped Voldemort angrily. “Is that the way you speak to a young lady?”

Nott made a clumsy bow of apology to Voldemort and stumbled back into line. Shaken, Ginny looked at Voldemort again. He did not seem angry at her. On the contrary…he almost seemed amused.

“You’re very brave my girl,” said Voldemort ever so softly, ever so dangerously. “I can see why young Harry is so attached to you.”

Ginny tensed. Voldemort’s highly unpleasant smile widened slightly.

“Such bravery would be an excellent addition to my Death Eaters.”

With a single wave of his wand, Ginny’s torn, dirty, pink dress turned into the flowing, black robes of a Death Eater. In her hand was a mask that was so light that it seemed to be made of shadows. Voldemort outstretched his pale, spider-like hand to Ginny. Resting in his palm was her wand. When she recovered from her shock, Ginny dropped the mask on the floor and gave Voldemort a defiant look.

“No,” she said loudly.

“It will be much easier for you, Miss Weasley,” said Voldemort, a hint of anger now recognizable in his voice.

Though she was trembling inside, Ginny’s recklessly brave side took over and she took a step towards Voldemort.

“Go to hell!” she shouted.

The Death Eaters began murmuring even louder. Voldemort raised a hand to silence them and took a step forward to match Ginny’s. The mask lying on the floor disappeared back into the shadow it came from.

“Allow me to persuade you then, Miss Weasley,” said Voldemort quietly.

Ginny flinch slightly but she did not falter. Voldemort glanced at the Death Eater behind him. The Death Eater lowered her hood to reveal long, black hair and heavily lidded, dark eyes. Bellatrix gave Voldemort a look of such longing that it made Ginny feel slightly sick.

“Bella… I have a task for you,” said Voldemort.

Bellatrix bowed low to Voldemort.

“I have a message for you to deliver to Harry Potter,” said Voldemort. “You will need to be… convincing.”

Bellatrix smiled viciously.

“Of course, my Lord,” she sneered.

Voldemort turned his back on Ginny and began to walk out of the circle. Bellatrix followed him. Before he could disappear into the shadows he cast a glance at Ginny.

“Rodolphus… Macnair… Lucius… Persuade her.”

*


Everywhere Harry looked, he remembered that Ginny was with Voldemort. The thought of what he could be doing to her filled him terror. His thoughts strayed to Neville’s parents and he began to panic. I have to find her…I have to save her…

“She’ll be okay, Harry,” whispered Cho.

Harry forced himself to nod. In his heart, he knew that she won’t be okay. He knew that every minute that passed was another minute of torture. As if to confirm his thought, his scar seared and burned with pain.

There were Aurors everywhere. They were speaking to various members of the Order and to the few, shaken guests that remained. Harry walked to the part of the garden where the Weasleys were all huddled. Cho stood some distance behind him and looked at the floor.

Fleur was in shock. She sat rigidly next to Bill and stared blankly at the lawn. Bill had his face buried in hands. Charlie had a hand his shoulder.

Fred was leaning against a fallen table. Kit was holding George’s hand. Both the twins had lost their mischievous smiles.

Hermione had been hurt badly. Her leg would not stop bleeding and she was unable to walk. Andromeda had wrapped her leg in a bandage and she lay curled up in Ron’s arms, sobbing quietly. Ron held tightly as if he thought that she too would vanish.

Mr. Weasley was pacing and constantly looking up as though he expected Ginny to come walking towards him. Mrs. Weasley was rocking on the spot, her eyes wide and fearful.

Kit looked up and saw Harry. She let go of George’s hand, strode towards Harry and held him tightly. Harry found himself shaking uncontrollably in Kit’s arms.

“What are g-going to do…” he stammered. “We h-have to do s-something…we…we can’t just…”

“There’s nothing we can do now,” whispered Kit. “We must wait. The Dark Lord will send you a message.”

“It’s m-my fault…” choked Harry.

Kit took him firmly by the shoulders.

“Don’t say that Potter,” she said sternly, reminding him forcefully of Snape. “Feeling sorry for yourself won’t save Ginny. Get a grip.

Harry nodded.

“The Dark Lord will send a message,” said Kit firmly. “Then we will know what to do.”

A tall, muscular Auror with a thick black beard and dull blue eyes approached them. The other Aurors had all disapperated except Kingsley, who stood at the front door of the Burrow. With great effort, Mr. Weasley stopped pacing and looked hopefully at the Auror.

“My name is Ignatius Edwards,” he said, his voice unusually soft for such a tall man. “Our entire department is looking for your daughter.”

Edwards glanced at Mrs. Weasley who was still rocking back and forth and seemingly oblivious to his presence.

“Kingsley and I will stay with you for your protection,” said Edwards. “We’re doing everythingwe can to find her.”

Mrs. Weasley finally looked up at Edwards.

“Just bring her home,” she whispered.

Andromeda put a hand on Mrs. Weasley’s shoulder. Edwards nodded and went to stand at the front gate. As he left, Kingsley approached them.

“We have a problem,” he said gravely. “It turns out Tonks was hiding the Narcissa and Draco Malfoy in her house.”

“What?” said Ron in disbelief.

He turned to stare at Andromeda. She bowed her head.

“She’s my sister,” whispered Andromeda. “She needed my help.”

“Andromeda…” said Kingsley softly. “They were found by the Death Eaters.”

Andromeda gasped and staggered away from Mrs. Weasley. Ted put his hands on her shoulders.

“They’re alive,” continue Kingsley. “But your sister is seriously injured.”

“Where are they?” asked Andromeda desperately.

“Inside…they need your help.”

Andromeda followed Kingsley as he rushed inside. Shrugging off Kit, Harry hurried after them. Inside the Burrow there was silence. Malfoy was sitting on a chair in the living room and glaring at the wall opposite him. Lupin was still in wolf form and was resting his head on Tonks’ lap as she sat the couch, tears pouring down her face.

“She’s upstairs with Snape,” whispered Tonks. “Ginny’s room.”

Andromeda ran upstairs and left Harry and Kingsley alone with Tonks, Malfoy and Lupin. Kingsley stood guard at the front door. Malfoy glanced at him and looked away quickly.

“They got Weasley then?” muttered Malfoy.

Harry nodded. Malfoy continued to stare at the wall and avoided Harry’s gaze.

“I’m sorry,” said Malfoy quietly.

“You told them.”

It was a statement, not a question. Malfoy finally turned to look at Harry.

“Yeah,” he said bitterly. “I did.”

Harry looked towards the stairs that Andromeda had just run up. He could not blame Malfoy for this.

“Is she going to be alright?” he asked.

Malfoy shook his head.

“I don’t know.”

*


The Weasleys slowly came inside and the hours passed. Nobody could go to bed or rest. Malfoy had gone upstairs rather than endure the accusatory looks from Ginny’s family. Andromeda came downstairs. She murmured something about Narcissa sleeping and collapsed on the couch next to her daughter. Ted sat next to her and held her shoulders.

The fireplace crackled. Minerva McGonagall dusted herself off and emerged from the fireplace. She turned to the grief stricken Weasleys.

“I am so very sorry,” she said softly.

The only response was silence. Grimacing, she looked at Tonks.

“Your family Nymphadora?”

Tonks shook her head and wiped her eyes. Kit turned away from her guiltily. She was no doubt thinking of the things she had said about Tonks’ family.

At exactly midnight, there was a knock at the door.

Kingsley drew his wand and answered it. He mumbled something to the person outside and then opened the door wide.

It was Percy.

He was dressed in dress robes as though he had dressed for the wedding but changed his mind last minute. He was trembling on the spot. Kingsley ushered him inside and closed the door.

“G-Ginny,” croaked Percy. “Do you kn-know anything, yet? W-Where is she?”

Fred took a step towards his brother.

“No Percy,” said Fred quietly. “We don’t know anything.”

Percy let out a sob.

“I’m s-sorry…I should have been here…I…I…”

Mrs. Weasley jumped to her feet and embraced her son tightly.

“You’re here now,” she whispered.

Andromeda frowned and got to her feet.

“How did you come in?” she asked rather roughly.

Percy jumped when he saw her.

“W-What do you mean?” he asked, sounding slightly frightened.

“There’s an Auror guarding the front gate!” cried Andromeda.

Percy blinked.

“N-No… there isn’t.”

“Edwards…” whispered Kingsley.

Andromeda drew her wand and rushed outside. Kingsley followed some distance behind her. Andromeda raced passed the chicken coop and looked around desperately. She found Edwards sprawled behind bushes, his head bleeding.

“Edwards!” cried Andromeda.

Andromeda checked his pulse and knelt at his side.

“Edwards, wake up,” she whispered. “En-”

The cold tip of wand pressed against her neck.

“Drop your wand, Annie,” said Bellatrix quietly, “and stand up.”

Andromeda dropped her wand and slowly got to her feet. She trembled with anger as Bellatrix let out a mad laugh.

“Where’s your knight in shining armour now, Annie?” sneered Bellatrix. “Where’s dear Ted?”

Andromeda said nothing. She took a deep breath in an attempt to calm herself. Her fiery, Black family temper made her want to turn around and throttle her sister with her bare hands. Kingsley ran up to them but Bellatrix pulled Andromeda in front of her.

“Throw the wand away Shacklebolt,” said Bellatrix sweetly.

“I can’t do that Lestrange,” said Kingsley. “The entire Order is waiting inside that house and you won’t get away this time.”

Bellatrix grinned.

“I rather doubt that.”

In one fluid motion, Bellatrix shoved her sister aside and struck Kingsley with a jet of crimson light. He fell heavily and did not stir. Andromeda tried to crawl away but Bellatrix seized her by the back of the robes and pulled her up again.

“Come on Annie…inside now…I need to speak with your little friends.”

*


The front door eased open. Every one in the room pointed there wands at the figures standing there.

At first, Harry only saw Andromeda. He then saw the arm around her neck and Bellatrix’s similar yet arrogant features from behind her. Tonks gave a cry and Kit took a menacing step forwards.

“Let go of her!” shouted Kit.

Bellatrix’s grin only widened.

“You didn’t say please dementor,” she sneered. “Your manners haven’t improved.”

At this, Snape and Malfoy raced downstairs wands drawn. Percy gave a cry of alarm when he saw them but no one paid him any attention. Lupin began to growl.

“If you don’t let go of my mother…” snarled Tonks.

Bellatrix laughed.

“You’ll what?” she simpered.

Tonks faltered as Bellatrix’s arm tightened around Andromeda’s throat.

“Please…” whispered Tonks.

“I’m sorry,” said Bellatrix with a giggle. “I didn’t hear that.”

“Please!” shouted Tonks. “Don’t hurt her!”

Bellatrix shoved Andromeda into Ted, who caught and held her tightly. Before everyone in the room could curse her into small, manageable pieces, Bellatrix spoke.

“I have a message to Potter from the Dark Lord,” she said in a singsong voice. “If I don’t return in one piece he’ll be very cross with all of you and just might take out his anger on the little red head.”

Snape raised his wand higher.

“The Dark Lord wouldn’t care less what condition you returned in,” said Snape viciously.

Bellatrix’s face contorted in anger.

“You’re wrong Snape,” she said aggressively. “I am his favourite.”

Bellatrix flushed as Snape shook his head.

“He has no favourite Bellatrix,” said Snape. “He never will.”

A flash of doubt crossed Bellatrix’s face but she covered it with her usual sneer.

“Well, are you prepared to take that risk Snape?” asked Bellatrix softly. “I’m sure Molly isn’t.”

At this point, you could feel the hatred in the room burning the paint off the walls. Mrs. Weasley was seconds from seizing Bellatrix by the hair and ripping her to shreds.

“What’s your message?” snarled Snape.

Bellatrix paused for effect and flicked her hair lazily of her shoulders.

“Potter is to meet the Dark Lord at Hogwarts by the Lake,” said Bellatrix. “My master was feeling generous…so you have two days.”

For a split second that seemed to go on for a minutes, no one said anything. You could here everyone in the room breathing.

“What is Potter supposed to do?” said Snape slowly.

“At midnight, he is to duel the Dark Lord until one of them is dead,” said Bellatrix. “Upon the incredibly unlikely event that Potter actually wins the duel, the red head is free to go. If the Dark Lord wins…”

Bellatrix drew her finger significantly across her throat and gave a small laugh. Harry’s hands clenched themselves into fists.

“No Aurors or member of your pathetic little order shall interfere with the duel or there shall be consequences,” continued Bellatrix. “Especially not your half breed student, Snape.”

Kit flushed as Bellatrix’s eyes fell on her. Smirking, Bellatrix turned to Harry.

“Do you accept Potter?” she asked softly. “Or shall I tell the Dark Lord that Miss. Weasley’s services are no longer required?”

“I accept,” said Harry without hesitation.

Mrs. Weasley made a moan of protest. Bellatrix smiled at Harry.

“I thought as much,” she said. “You’ve always had more guts that brains, Potter.”

Bellatrix turned to leave. As she reached the door, she turned to look over her shoulder at Tonks and Malfoy.

“Bye Nymphadora…Draco…say hello to Cissy for me.”

With a cry of rage, Tonks started towards Bellatrix. Malfoy raised his wand. Kit seized Tonks and stopped her. Snape gave Malfoy a single glance and he lowered his wand. The cousins radiated fury. Bellatrix gave one last laugh before vanishing into the night.

*


It was about one o’clock in the morning when, Harry walked upstairs into Ron’s room. Hermione and Ron were sitting silently on the bed. Hermione still had bandages on her leg. The second Ron saw Harry the atmosphere turned to ice. Ron jumped to his feet and strode towards him. Harry made no attempt to stop him as he drew back a fist and hit Harry with all the strength he could muster.

“Ron, no!” cried Hermione.

Harry staggered back, his nose broken. Ron was glaring at him as though he was Voldemort himself. He raised his fist again but Hermione tried to restrain him. Ron shrugged her off.

“If she dies, Harry…I’ll never forgive you,” snarled Ron.

Ron shoved past Hermione, went into his room and slammed the door behind him. Harry didn’t know where to start but he couldn’t stay here. He’d go to Albania…the orphanage Tom Riddle once lived in…Borgin and Burkes…anything other than just sitting here. Shaking, Harry turned to walk downstairs but Hermione limped up to him and caught him by the arm.

“I’m going with you,” said Hermione shakily.

“No Hermione,” said Harry. “You’re hurt and…Ron needs you right now.”

Hermione wiped her eyes furiously on her sleeve.

“Y-You can’t go alone,” she whispered.

“Hermione, I’ve got to,” said Harry.

When she saw that Harry would not be persuaded, Hermione drew her wand and healed his nose. She hugged him fiercely and burst into tears.

“Be careful Harry,” she sobbed.

Harry gave her a reassuring smile even though, inside, he was miserable.

“You know me,” said Harry. “I’m always careful.”

Hermione gave a small laugh through her tears and let go of him. She watched him as he descended down the staircase and disappeared into the darkness of the living room.

*


Harry was about two steps away from the door when Draco Malfoy cut across him. He was furious.

“Where do you think you’re going?” snarled Malfoy

Harry didn’t have time for this.

“Get out of my way,” he snarled back.

Malfoy took a step towards Harry. He wasn’t going anywhere.

“Answer me, Potter!” he shouted. “Where are you going?

“To finish this,” said Harry. “To finish him. Move Malfoy!”

Malfoy gave a laugh of disbelief.

“Bullshit,” he scoffed. “You’ve still got two days before you need to fight him.”

“You think I’m running away?” hissed Harry. “You think-”

“That you’re ditching your girlfriend and leaving the rest of us to rot? Yeah, I do.”

Harry seized Malfoy by his robes and slammed bodily into the door.

“Listen here Malfoy-”

Malfoy shoved him back and drew his wand. Harry mimicked him.

“No, you listen!” shouted Malfoy. “My mother did not get hurt protecting your chosen arse so that you can chicken out now!”

“I’m not chickening out, damn it!”

“Then what are you doing Potter?” demanded Malfoy. “What could be so bloody important that you’re leaving now?”

Harry turned his back to Malfoy and slammed his fist into the wall. They were wasting time…Ginny didn’t have time…

“Malfoy, I’ve got to finish this! If I don’t do this he won’t die no matter what I do to him!”

Malfoy lowered his wand and looked at Harry in shock.

“He’s got a horcrux?” he whispered.

Harry’s silence confirmed Malfoy’s suspicions.

“Shit…that’s Dark magic,” muttered Malfoy.

“Will you get out of my way now?” snarled Harry, looking at him again.

Malfoy stood back in front the door. Harry nearly hexed him then and there. Now what?

“No,” said Malfoy quietly. “I’m going with you.”

What?” said Harry incredulously.

Malfoy shrugged.

“Someone has to make sure that you don’t screw everything up,” he said.

“Malfoy-”

Malfoy cut Harry off before he could finish his protest.

“Listen Potter,” he said. “I’ve got to end this as much as you do.”

They stared at each other for another minute…then Harry nodded.

“Alright…you’re in.”


Chapter 22: The Bearer of the Locket
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Author’s Note: I changed my mind about certain plot details last minute… so what I said in my review responses may differ to what actually happens.

Would someone like to make me another banner? The one I made is a little demented... I can give you all the pictures you need and if you do...*holds out virtual box of cookies enticingly* You will also get a big pretty THANK YOU in the Author's Note of the last chapter...and of course I will review your stories.





The Bearer of the Locket


“Do you know where the horcruxes are?” asked Malfoy.

Harry didn’t move or speak. It took Malfoy a minute to interpret Harry’s silence. His mouth fell open and he blinked.

“You’ve got to be bloody kidding me!” he cried.

Malfoy’s words only made Harry more agitated and anxious.

“Do I look like I’m kidding?” snarled Harry.

“Do you usually run blindly into danger without a clue what your doing?”

“Malfoy!”

Malfoy took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Harry glared at him.

“Do you have something…anything to go on?”

Harry rummaged inside his robes, pulled out R.A.B’s locket and held it in front of Malfoy. Malfoy frowned as he took the chain and raised his eyes at Harry as if to say ‘is that it?’

“Look inside,” said Harry.

Malfoy opened the locket and found the note. He scanned through it and looked back at Harry. His expression had changed completely.

“This R.A.B…he was a Death Eater,” muttered Malfoy, “and I think he’s related to my mother. He might be a Black.”

Harry’s heart skipped a few beats.

“How do know that?” he breathed.

“Nearly everyone in our family has the middle name Aryan,” said Malfoy. “It means pure.”

Harry’s head was spinning. This could be it…

“The old Order Headquarters…” he murmured. “Sirius’ house…Grimmauld Place…there might be something there.”

“Where is it?” asked Malfoy with a frown.

“Number twelve, Grimmauld Place…we’ll apparate-”

Malfoy shook his head.

“Potter…where is it?”

Harry was beginning to lose patience with Malfoy.

“Malfoy, are you deaf?” he snarled.

“I’m not deaf!” snapped Malfoy. “You’re just speaking gibberish!”

Harry froze. Before he could ask Malfoy what exactly he meant, someone emerged from the darkness.

“Going somewhere boys?”

The figure took a step towards them and Harry made out Kit’s pale face. Her eyes fell on Malfoy and her mouth twitched slightly.

“Draco Malfoy, am I right?” she said softly.

Malfoy’s hand tightened on his wand and his eyes narrowed suspiciously.

“Friend of yours, Potter?”

Harry nodded. Malfoy studied Kit as she took another step forward.

“My name is Katherine D’Arque…Kit,” she said, “and yes, I am a friend.”

“Well that’s just lovely,” said Malfoy mockingly. “Unfortunately Potter and I don’t have time to have a chat so we’ll just be-”

“You’re not going anywhere,” whispered Kit.

Harry stared at Kit with mingled anger and shock. She was trying to stop them? Malfoy took a menacing step forward.

“Try and stop us,” snarled Malfoy.

Kit’s mouth twitched into a sneer.

“I don’t have to try,” she said silkily.

She turned to Harry, still smirking. Harry was less than impressed. Kit was choosing the wrong time to start acting like her mentor.

“Don’t you remember Harry?” she said. “Grimmauld Place is under the protection of a Fidelius Charm.”

“But Dumbledore’s dead,” said Harry.

“Flitwick said the spell still remains intact,” said Kit. “Malfoy here won’t be able to set foot inside unless Professor Dumbledore tells him the address.”

Malfoy’s face fell.

“Oh crap…” he muttered.

“Dumbledore wrote the location of the Headquarters on a piece of parchment,” said Harry hurriedly. “We could-”

“You mean the piece of parchment that McGonagall usually carries with her at all times?” asked Kit dryly.

Kit pulled something out of her robes. It was a piece of parchment and Harry recognized the slanted handwriting of Albus Dumbledore.

This parchment?” she asked casually.

Kit made no attempt to give the parchment to Malfoy. Malfoy lunged for it but Kit pulled it away and made her own wand visible. He scowled and took a step back.

“What do you want?” asked Harry slowly.

Kit gave Harry a determined look and he knew that she would not take no for an answer.

“I’m going with you.”

*


It seemed that Sirius finally managed to remove the portrait of his mother. The eerie silence was only broken by the occasional creaking floorboard. Neglect, dust, grime and cobwebs and reclaim the house once more. The three companions lit up the dreary house with their wands and cautiously stepped inside.

“We’ll split up and search the house,” said Harry.

“If you find the horcrux, don’t touch it,” warned Kit. “If it feels threatened, the hocrux will try to feed of your soul… and then it will be able to take physical form.”

Malfoy blanched.

“So there will be two Dark Lords?” he asked, unable to hide a hint of fear.

Kit shook her head.

“No…the horcrux will still be bound to the fate of its object but it will be harder to destroy.”

“Can’t we just...fire a killing curse at it?” asked Malfoy.

“Only a weak horcrux would succumb to a wand...even a killing curse would be ineffective,” said Kit.

“Then how do we weaken it?” asked Harry.

Kit cast Harry a glance.

“Let me handle that,” she said quietly.

They split up. Harry walked into the study and came across a familiar desk. He slipped into a memory. He could see himself...Ginny, Sirius and his two best friends...cleaning out this desk.

Harry closed his eyes for a brief moment and then began to rummage through the draws of the desk. He pulled out the little music box that had nearly put him to sleep and frowned. Sirius had thrown this out.

As he looked through the desk he found other things that his Godfather had tried to remove. Someone had put everything back. The only thing that was missing from the draw was...the locket.

Breathing heavily, Harry rummaged through the draw again and again with no results. Slytherin’s locket had been in this draw. He could now remember them all trying to open it without success. Harry swore and threw the slammed the draw shut in frustration. He had held the horcrux in his hand…it had been right there.

A strangled cry echoed through the house.

Harry jumped to his feet and spun around.

“Kit?” he called anxiously. “Malfoy?”

The only reply he received the echo of his own voice, ringing through the empty corridor. His eyes darted around the room and his wand lit up the corners but he saw no one.

“Master Harry,” croaked someone from behind him.

Harry spun around again and looked down to the source of the voice. It was a house elf dressed in rags standing on the other side of the room.

His house elf.

“Kreacher…” muttered Harry. “What are you doing here?”

“Kreacher lives to serve the House of Black,” mumbled the House Elf.

Harry took a step back and his fingers tightened around his wand. Something was wrong with Kreacher. His eyes were glassy and unfocused.

“I told you to stay at Hogwarts,” said Harry slowly.

Kreacher’s mouth twisted into a grin.

“Did you Master Harry? Kreacher forgot…”

Harry caught sight of something dangling on Kreacher’s neck. It glittered in the light of Harry’s wand.

“You’ve got the locket,” breathed Harry.

Suddenly Kreacher seemed quiet mad. His large eyes seemed to bulge out of their sockets and he rocked back and forth on the spot.

“Kreacher took Master Regulus’ locket back from the nasty sneak thief…”

“Master Regulus?” repeated Harry in shock “Sirius’ brother?”

Regulus Aryan Black.

Kreacher’s eyes swam with tears of pride.

“Master Regulus was a good boy. He was a good pureblood...a good son,” said Kreacher. “A better son than his good for nothing brother.”

“What happened to him?” whispered Harry. “What happened to Regulus?”

“He always admired the Dark Lord and his followers…” murmured Kreacher. “He was a good boy…a good boy…When he was only seventeen he became a Death Eater. We were so proud of him.”

The pride in Kreacher’s eyes turned to sadness.

“But being a Death Eater was not what Master Regulus expected,” he whispered. “Master Regulus said he did not like murder. Kreacher said that they were only mudbloods and bloodtraitors but Master Regulus did not listen…”

At this point, Kreacher seemed unaware that Harry was even in the room. He continued to rock back and forth and fixed his eyes on the wall.

“The Dark Lord was displeased… Master Regulus came home…he was hurt…he had a locket around his neck…he was hurt...”

Kreacher gave a wail of despair and clutched at his long ears.

“Kreacher couldn’t save Master Regulus…Mistress Black cried and cried and didn’t leave her room…Master Orion locked himself in his study and took the locket with him…”

Kreacher burst into tears.

“Two sons gone… no male heir to carry the name…” he wailed. “Master Orion made himself ill… and then it was only Mistress and Kreacher.”

Kreacher suddenly stopped crying. His eyes darkened with anger.

“Master Sirius…the ungrateful swine… came back and tried to throw away the locket…but Kreacher hid it in his den…and then the sneak thief stole all Mistress’ things...”

The twisted grin formed on Kreacher’s face again.

“The sneak thief was clever at hiding...” he sneered, “...but Kreacher found him...trying to sell Master Regulus’ locket…”

Harry tried to stop himself from trembling.

“What did you do?” whispered Harry.

Kreacher finally remembered Harry was in the room. He gave him a look of pure loathing and bared his little yellow teeth.

“Kreacher made sure the sneak thief would not steal again!” he screamed. “Kreacher cut off his thieving hands!”

Harry’s eyes widened with horror.

“Is he alive?” cried Harry. “Is Mundungnus alive?”

Kreacher gave a shriek of glee and clapped his hand in delight. Harry felt sick.

“Dead! Dead! Dead!” shrieked Kreacher. “The nasty thief is dead! And Master Harry will join him soon.”

Before Harry could react, Kreacher pulled out a wand from his rags and disarmed him. Harry slowly backed away as the mad little elf pointed the wand at his face. The only thing he could think of was to keep Kreacher talking.

“Where did you get that wand?” he asked slowly.

“The pale, little, blood traitor girl was poking her nose in Mistress’ things,” whispered Kreacher. “Kreacher put a stop to it.”

Harry paled with anger.

“What did you do to Kit?” he shouted.

“It doesn’t matter now Master Harry…nothing matters.”

Harry glanced at the locket on Kreacher’s neck. It seemed to be producing its own light in the darkness.

“Kreacher, take the locket off,” he whispered.

“Master didn’t say please. Kreacher wonders if learnt his manners from his godfather…”

Kreacher raised his wand a little higher.

“The locket is all Kreacher has now…The locket tells Kreacher what to do…The locket is all Kreacher has now that his Mistress is g-”

Kreacher was cut off by some unseen force. Kit’s wand slipped from his hands. The locket opened with a faint click.

“Kreacher, take it off!” shouted Harry.

Kreacher clutched at his neck. His eyes were wide with fear.

“K-Kreacher c-can’t...” choked the elf.

Ignoring Kit’s advice, Harry started forward, seized the locket and pulled at it with all his might. One of the links broke and Harry threw the locket into the corridor. Kreacher slumped to the ground, unconscious.

“Kreacher!” cried Harry.

Harry rushed to his side. The elf did not stir.

“It won’t wake.”

Harry would recognise that voice anywhere. Harry took Kit’s wand in his hand and slowly turned around. Unlike the figure in the Chamber of Secrets, this horcrux was nearly solid. It had taken Harry’s wand and was twirling it idly in its hand.

“Harry Potter,” sneered the horcrux. “Your elf complains about you so often I feel that I know you already.”

Harry lunged forwards and fired a curse at the horcrux. The spell came shooting back at him and missed him by an inch. The horcrux laughed.

“I see Harry Potter does not have time to chat…want to die quickly?”

“I want to get rid of you!” snarled Harry.

Harry fired another curse and the horcrux returned it. Soon Harry and the fragment were in a fierce duel. Kit’s wand was unfamiliar in Harry’s hands and he was struggling to protect Kreacher from the horcrux’s assault. He soon found himself wandless and facing the tip of his own wand.

Suddenly a black figure flew into the horcrux and knocked it off balance. The horcrux knocked the figure away but it glided back towards it...Kit. There was a gash on her forehead were Kreacher had struck her but she seemed otherwise unharmed.

Kit let out an inhumane, almost cat-like hiss and drew in a deep, rattling breath. The horcrux staggered and lurched towards Kit. It seemed to fade as Kit breathed in and it struggled to keep away from her. With a cry, it lashed out with Harry’s wand and knocked Kit out of the air and into the desk.

Harry tried to get Kit’s wand back while the horcrux was distracted but it was too quick for him. Something white-hot stuck the side of his face and knocked him to the ground. The horcrux was fading at the edges and was too weak to play around anymore. It was going to finish him.

“Avada Kedavra!” it hissed.

Before the jet of green could strike Harry, something gold and glittering flew across the room. Someone had thrown the locket into the path of the killing curse. The horcrux let out a cry of agony before it faded away into oblivion.

Kit groaned and pulled herself to her feet.

“Are you alright?” asked Harry anxiously.

“I’ll live,” mumbled Kit. “Thank you Malfoy.”

Harry turned around and caught sight of Malfoy in the corridor. The blonde teenager was smirking.

“See that Potter,” said Malfoy. “That is saving someone without getting your arse kicked.”

Chapter 23: McGonagall's Secret
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McGonagall’s Secret


Hermione sat on one of the dinner table chairs, under the scrutiny of the entire Order. Ron was not with her. Partly because he had locked himself in his room and partly because Molly Weasley would skin Snape alive if he ever looked at Ron the way he was looking at Hermione. She trembled slightly as Snape approached her.

“Where is he?” asked Snape quietly.

Hermione clenched her jaw shut and looked away from his black eyes. There was a long silence. Snape suddenly slammed his fist loudly on the dinning table. Hermione jumped and gave a small cry of fear.

“Granger, where is he?” shouted Snape.

Andromeda shot Snape a disapproving glare but said nothing. Hermione was now close to tears. Snape was towering over her and earning his reputation as the most intimidating Professor at Hogwarts.

“G-Gone,” she stammered.

A very ugly snarl formed on Snape’s face. Hermione refused to look at him and stared at the floor.

“Where has he gone?” hissed Snape.

“I-I don’t know.”

Snape began looking vicious indeed. Hermione wiped away a rebellious tear.

“I grow weary of this pretence girl,” said Snape dangerously. “Potter tells you everything. Don’t lie.

When Hermione did not speak, Snape seized her by the front of her robes and her forced her face upwards. Fred and George started forwards angrily but McGonagall raised a hand to stop them.

“Look at me!” snarled Snape.

Hermione began to cry outright. Andromeda took a menacing step forward.

“You’re frightening her!” she said loudly.

A second after Andromeda’s outburst, Snape let go of Hermione. She slumped in her seat and buried her face in her hands. Snape showed no sign of remorse.

“Not nearly enough,” snarled Snape.

Snape turned to the others. No one had ever seen him this angry before. He was pale and his hands were trembling.

“Leave us,” he said with a slight tremor in his voice.

Fred stood forwards angrily.

“And leave you alone with her?” snarled Fred.

“That’s enough Mr. Weasley,” said McGonagall. “Do as he says.”

The Order turned to McGonagall in surprise. Slowly but surely they headed towards the door. Their trust in McGonagall outweighed their dislike of Snape. McGonagall was the last to leave. Her expression was unfathomable as she closed the door behind her. Snape cast an impenetrable charm on the door and turned to Hermione.

“Has it to do with the horcruxes?” he asked quietly.

Hermione said nothing but she could not hide the truth from Snape any longer. She was no Occlumens.

“That foolish boy!” shouted Snape.

Hermione jumped again. Snape glared at her.

“Do you realise what this means?” snarled Snape. “Alone, he cannot hope to succeed. He cannot hope to find them!”

“H-He’s not alone!” Hermione blurted out.

Snape’s expression changed to shock. Hermione covered her mouth with her hand.

“Who went with him?” demanded Snape.

“M-Malfoy,” whispered Hermione, “and Kit.”

Snape’s eyes widened in shock.

“Katherine and Draco?” he whispered.

Hermione forced herself to nod. Something that may have been concern flash on Snape's face before it was replaced by the usual agression.

“Tell me where they’re gone,” said Snape slowly.

Hermione shook her head violently. She wouldn’t tell him…Harry trusted her…

“Tell me…now,” snarled Snape through clenched teeth.

“No!” shouted Hermione loudly.

Snape pulled out a vial of clear liquid from his robes. Hermione backed away from him in fear.

“Drink it!” shouted Snape.

Before Hermione could find out if Snape would actually forced the veritaserum down her throat or not, the door burst open. McGonagall returned her wand to her robes and walked calmly in the room.

“Miss Granger, go get some rest,” she said quietly.

Hermione needed no persuasion. She ran out of the room as fast as her injured leg would allow. McGonagall closed the door as she left and sealed it again. Snape grimaced and looked away as though he had just realised something ridiculously obvious.

“You know about the horcruxes.”

McGonagall sat at the chair Hermione once occupied. Snape conjured a chair and sat opposite her.

“You’re as shrewd as ever, Severus,” said McGonagall, completely unfazed. “What gave me away?”

Snape and McGonagall had a small glaring competition before he answered.

“When Potter walked out of this house and into danger the first time you were furious,” said Snape. “You wouldn’t let it happen a second time unless you had very good reason.”

McGonagall neither confirmed nor denied his claim. Snape continued speaking.

“You ordered Katherine to go with Potter,” he said.

There was a hint of anger in this accusation. McGonagall gave Snape a look of mild surprise.

“I asked her to go with Potter…yes.”

Snape glare intensified. He wanted an explanation. McGonagall sighed and continued.

“When you returned from your previous little adventure, Katherine saw fit to fill me in on the particulars the following morning.”

McGonagall’s mouth thinned.

“She also agreed not to inform Rufus Scrimgeour,” she muttered. “He would have been quite the nuisance.”

Snape blinked.

“Is that it?” he said incredulously. “You’re just letting Potter go after the horcruxes with two other...emotionally disturbed teenagers?”

“I did not intend Mr. Malfoy to accompany him,” said McGonagall, “and Katherine is hardly emotionally disturbed.”

“She is barely a month older than Potter,” said Snape loudly, “and I don’t think I need to remind you where she spent most of her life. You taught her Minerva.”

McGonagall’s eyes narrowed.

“She’s trained as an Auror, she has experience in dealing with souls and Potter holds her in high esteem,” she said, a hint of anger laced in her words, “and I do not appreciate you insinuating that I do not care about my students.”

The tone of finality in her voice told Snape if he said another word about Katherine she’d hex him. Snape leaned back in his chair, crossed his arms and directed his glare away from McGonagall.

“Do you know where they went?” he asked.

McGonagall raised her eyebrows at Snape.

“If I did?” she said coldly.

Snape scowled.

“You wouldn’t tell me.”

“Telling you would involve trusting you...implicity.”

“Of course,” muttered Snape. “What of the duel?”

“What of it?”

Snape stared at McGonagall as if it was the first time he laid eyes on her.

“You intend to let the boy go to his death?” he snarled.

“It may not be to his death Severus,” said McGonagall quietly. “He may just succeed and bring Miss Weasley home. Albus trusted him and so do I.”

Snape actually laughed; a bitter laugh full of disbelief.

“You really believe that James Potter’s son is capable of destroying the Dark Lord?” asked Snape, “and since when did you give your trust to the same people Albus did?”

A slight smile formed on McGonagall’s face. She chose to ignore his last question.

“I know you didn’t get along with James Potter but you forget Severus…he is also Lily’s son,” she said.

Snape turned pale and froze. McGonagall smiled at him as he sat there in complete shock.

“Well?” she said when Snape did not speak.

Snape swallowed. He ran his hand through his greasy hair and made an odd sort of ‘no comment’ gesture. When Snape finally spoke he was so quiet that McGonagall wasn’t entirely sure he had spoken at all.

“We’ll see."

Snape got abruptly to his feet. McGonagall had the impression he probably couldn’t stand being in the room with her any longer. Snape turned with the usual swirl of his cloak and stalked towards the door.

Chapter 24: The Blood Box
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A/N: The first time I wrote this, Kreacher just gave them the horcrux, left and continued to be a rotten little house elf. I like what Joanne did…so I thought I’d do that here too. Her idea! Not mine! (Well, this is fanfiction...)




The Blood Box


Malfoy extended a hand to Harry. Somewhat cautiously, Harry took it and Malfoy helped him to his feet.

Kreacher was lying on the floor on the other side of the room. He was still unconscious but he seemed unhurt. Harry approached him slowly and cast a glance at Kit.

“Is Mundungnus really dead?” asked Harry quietly.

Kit bowed her head.

“He…went missing,” she said. “We thought he’d had just got into the usual sort of trouble but…I think he is.”

Harry gave the elf a hateful glare. He hated Mundungnus Fletcher but death certainly wasn’t the punishment he had in mind for him. Kit noticed the look on his face and caught his shoulder.

“Harry… wait,” said Kit. “How long was the elf near the Locket?”

“I don’t know...a really long time by the sound of it.”

“You cannot blame the elf for his actions,” said Kit. “The locket consumed him.”

Harry said nothing. He knelt down and gently shook Kreacher awake. Kreacher gave a cry of alarm when he saw Harry and crawled away. Harry grimaced. Kreacher had been cruelly punished by his masters before.

“Are you alright?” asked Harry quietly.

Kreacher froze and stared at Harry in shock. When he finally digested his words, Kreacher nodded. Harry pulled the fake locket out of his pocket and gave it to Kreacher.

“This is Regulus’ locket,” he said quietly. “It’s yours now.”

Kreacher took the locket in his long, knobbly fingers and stared at it as though he was unsure if it was real. He seemed completely lost in memories…good and bad.

“Go back to Hogwarts...get some rest,” said Harry. “You’ll be safe there.”

When Kreacher looked up Harry again his eyes were swimming with tears. He gave Harry a low bow and vanished with a crack.

*


Malfoy picked up the real locket and Harry and Kit went to look at it. The spell had blasted it open. Inside the locket there was a picture of a beautiful woman. She moved only slightly and played with the folds of her dress. Her clothes and hair reminded Harry of some of the older ghosts in the castle. Her hair was thick, black and curly and, though she was not smiling, her eyes glinted mischievously. Harry could tell that she was very happy.

This was the woman who had loved Salazar Slytherin. This was Selena.

“Do you think Voldemort figured out who she was?” asked Harry.

Malfoy twitched at the name. Harry and Kit ignored him.

“I doubt it,” muttered Kit. “Even if the Dark Lord had heard it…he probably wouldn’t have believed it.”

Malfoy frowned at the woman.

“Who was she?” asked Malfoy curiously.

A small smile formed on Kit’s face.

“Slytherin’s half-blood girlfriend,” she said casually, “who also happened to be Gryffindor’s sister.”

Malfoy blinked. Any other time, Harry would have laughed at the expression on his face.

What?” hissed Malfoy.

Harry ignored Malfoy.

“Do you think that Regulus knew about the other horcruxes?” asked Harry hurriedly.

“I don’t know...the note suggests he only knew about one,” muttered Kit.

Harry swore. He began pacing and Kit could tell he was close to panic again.

“But...there’s got to be something in this house...another clue....something...”

Kit put out a hand to stop Harry from pacing. Harry took a deep breath and forced himself to look Kit in the eye. He wondered how she could keep so calm.

“We’ll keep searching Harry,” said Kit firmly, “though I think we’d better stick together this time.”

The climbed the stairs and found a bedroom opposite Sirius’ old room. Judging from the quidditch posters plastered all over the walls, this was Regulus’ room.

There was nothing exceptional about it except the fact that it seemed even dustier than the rest of the house. It seemed that none of the Blacks, including Sirius, had the heart to enter it. There was a bed, a small desk and a wardrobe. A Slytherin banner was hanging on the wall but it was barely noticeable among the numerous, fading posters of famous quidditch teams.

Harry’s eye fell on a photograph on the desk of Sirius and someone who could only be Regulus standing together and grinning. Sirius was a bit taller and Regulus was slightly skinnier but, other than that, the brothers were almost identical.

It was not the bedroom of a Death Eater. It was not the bedroom of a dark wizard. It was the bedroom of a teenage boy.

Malfoy’s face fell the moment he entered the bedroom. Kit frowned at him.

“What?” she asked.

Malfoy glanced at the Slytherin banner and shook his head.

“Nothing,” he muttered.

Kit and Malfoy went to the desk and began to search the draws. Harry hurriedly rummaged through the trunk underneath the bed. Harry found himself panicking. If they didn’t find something they were back to square one…nowhere.

Harry swore again. There was nothing but old school books in this trunk. He got to his feet, intent on searching somewhere else. The floor boards made an odd creaking noise as he stood on them.

Harry frowned and got on his hands and knees. He took his hands to the floorboards and managed to pull up a plank.

“I’ve found something!” cried Harry.

When the dust had cleared, Harry found a stack of photographs, a box and a small piece of parchment.

Harry wiped the dust of the photograph. There was one of all five Black children. Andromeda and Bellatrix stood up the back, their heads held high and proud. Narcissa was sitting primly on a chair, her hands folded neatly on her lap. Regulus and Sirius stood up the front. They boys seemed incapable of standing still. They were shoving each other and mucking around. Bellatrix would occasionally scuff Sirius over the head and scowl at Regulus but there was no hatred in her eyes. Narcissa was trying to hide a smile at her cousins’ antics and Andromeda was rolling her eyes. You had to wonder where it had all gone wrong...

Harry picked up the parchment. The same handwriting on Regulus’ note to Voldemort appeared here.

For Sirius…Just in case.


“Open the box,” said Kit.

Harry turned his attention to the box. It was made of plain, dark wood and had a silver clasp. He tried to lift the lid but it seemed to be jammed shut.

“Alohomora,” he muttered.

The lid did not open.

“Give me that,” said Malfoy impatiently.

Malfoy snatched it from his hands and ignored the glare Harry was giving him.

“It’s a blood box,” explained Malfoy as though it was the most obvious thing in the world. “Only a pureblood Black can open it.”

Kit raised her eyebrows.

“Did it worry him at all that Bellatrix Lestrange could easily open this box as well?” asked Kit.

“No she can’t,” said Malfoy. “Girls aren’t looked on to highly in pureblood society…no offence Kit.”

“None taken,” said Kit with a shrug.

The box opened with a faint click. Laid on green velvet was a small vial containing a familiar, silvery substance. Harry’s heart began to thump in his chest. This could be it…

“It’s a memory,” whispered Kit.

“There’s a pensive in the main study,” said Malfoy. “Come on.”

They hurried followed Malfoy downstairs to the study. The wall were lines with large, dusty volumes, most of them were on wizard genealogy or Dark Magic.

There was a pensive sitting in the corner. By some miracle, or perhaps just magic, it was completely free of dust and cobweb and seemed completely out of place. It was very much like the pensive in Dumbledore’s office except it was made of black stone and looked a great deal heavier and (and therefore more expensive). Kit uncorked the vial and poured the silvery substance into the basin.

“Ready?” she asked.

Chapter 25: The Empty Hollow
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Author’s Note: This wasn’t supposed to have any spoilers but I was right about something in the book so…**SPOILERS**

I’m still looking for a banner that wasn’t made by a complete amateur on paintbrush *cough* me *cough*...so if you’re interested go to the Dark Arts and see my post. I’m hollybergman (no spaces) on that sight. Please? I’ll give you my virtual birthday cake from the twelfth and a big bold dedication on the last chapter and my summary.

This chapter is an itsy bit rushed (I’ve got exams on) but I will fix it up later.

I’ve already written the next chapter so it won’t be much of a wait.




The Empty Hollow


Harry, Kit and Malfoy lurched into the pensive. When Harry steadied himself, he found himself in a grubby looking pub. The only occupants were a handful of sinister-looking cloaked figures.

“Knockturn Alley,” muttered Malfoy.

Harry nodded and began to look around for Regulus. This was after all, his memory. This task was rather difficult due to the fact that everyone was cloaked.

“There,” whispered Kit.

Kit pointed at a figure in the corner. Harry caught a glimpse of Regulus’ face as he glanced at a hooded figure sitting on the other side of the room. The mystery figure looked up at Regulus for the briefest moment and Harry just saw a woman with startling green eyes.

Harry almost gasped. It was Lily.

Lily got to her feet and headed towards a small parlour behind the bar. Regulus made no attempt to follow her. Malfoy saw her face clearly and raised his eyebrows.

“Who is that?” said Malfoy with a smirk.

Harry struggled to keep a straight face.

“That Malfoy…is my mother.”

Malfoy turned a deep shade of pink. Kit covered up her echoic laugh by clearing her throat.

“Oh…well…” mumbled Malfoy. “What is she doing in Knockturn Alley?”

“Maybe if you shut up and stop gawking at her you’ll find out,” said Kit dryly.

They waited for at least ten minutes. Regulus finally got to his feet and entered the parlour without attracting the attention of any of the bar’s occupants. They hurriedly followed him inside.

The parlour looked like it hadn’t been cleaned since the day it was built. There was no furniture, only a few levitating candles. The minute he walked in, Lily lowered her hood and gave a sigh of relief. Her red curls were tied into a messy bun and it looked like she had smeared dirt on her face on purpose. Still, Lily no more belonged in Knockturn Alley than Malfoy belonged in Privet Drive.

Before they could say a word, Regulus and Lily cast numerous charms on the door and made absolutely sure no one could overhear or get in. Now that Harry could see Regulus more closely he noticed the cuts on his hands and the black eye.

“Oh Reg...your eye...” whispered Lily.

“Apparently I looked at Rodolphus the wrong way,” said Regulus bitterly. “Bastard… I don’t even think Bellatrix likes him.”

Lily flicked her wand and Regulus’ eye was healed. He gave Lily a grateful look.

“Lily...how’s Sirius?” he asked quietly.

Lily smiled.

“He’s the same,” she said. “Annoying, boisterous... and occasionally charming.”

Regulus laughed. Harry detected a hint of sadness in it. Lily’s smile faded and she bit her lip.

“He misses you...even though he won’t admit it,” she said softly. “Regulus you really should tell
him-”

“Tell him what?” snapped Regulus. “That I’m a Death Eater? That I’m one...one of them?”

He spat out the last word. Regulus’ features were a mixture of self-loathing and anger.

“You’re not...you’re helping us Regulus,” said Lily forcefully.

Regulus said nothing. Lily sighed.

“Is there any news for Professor Dumbledore?” asked Lily, resigned.

“There is...but I don’t think it’s very good news,” said Regulus darkly.

Regulus began pacing. He continually glanced at Lily as though wondering where to begin.

“The Dark Lord has been talking...of taking steps towards immortality…of protecting himself from death.”

Lily’s mouth opened in horror.

“But he can't be immortal...that's impossible,” said Lily loudly. “There’s no known spell that can-”

“There is a way…I think the Dark Lord may have a horcrux.”

Lily frowned.

“A horcrux?” she asked curiously.

“Sorry Lily, I forgot you were a mu-”

Lily raised her eyebrows and Regulus turned red.

“Umm...I mean, I forgot you didn’t know about...err...”

Lily rolled her eyes.

“Get on with it, Reg.”

“Right...When you murder someone...your soul is torn apart.”

“Charming.”

“It is possible to tear apart your soul and put that fragment in an object...a horcrux. Unless both the horcrux and you are destroyed you cannot die.”

Lily put a hand to her mouth. Harry knew the though of a Voldemort who was so well protected frightened her more than anything else.

“It's Dark Magic,” muttered Regulus. “Very Dark Magic.”

Regulus stopped pacing and suddenly seemed unable to meet Lily’s eyes.

“I-I need to get close enough to the Dark Lord to get the information we need,” he said.

Lily noticed the fear in his voice. She put a hand on his shoulder and gave him a warm smile.

“I'll help you find it,” she said firmly. “I've already found out a fair bit about Vol-”

Regulus jerked away.

“Lily!”

“-demort,” she continued, despite the glare Regulus was giving her. “I mean...Dumbledore has told me quite a bit about his childhood. Most men hide their prize possessions somewhere special where they feel they have some control over them.”

She stopped and chucked to herself.

“I know James used to hide his invisibility cloak under a floorboard by his bed,” she said, her green eyes full of laughter, “and he thought I didn’t know about it too.”

Regulus raised his eyebrows.

“You’re comparing your boyfriend to the Dark Lord?” he said dryly.

“No…just men in general,” said Lily.

There was a loud noise outside. Lily jumped in surprise and Regulus turned pale.

“I’d better go,” he muttered. “I think I saw Travers somewhere outside…I don’t think he recognise me but…”

Lily nodded. Regulus headed to the door. He stopped before he could turn the handle.

“If anything happens...” he whispered. “Tell Sirius...tell Sirius he was right and that I'm sorry.”

“Regulus... don’t say that!” said Lily angrily.

Regulus cast Lily a glance. She was glaring at him as if daring him to suggest the worst one more time.

“I'm moving up the ranks of the Death Eaters. It's getting dangerous...and I...”

Regulus ran a hand through his hair and jerked his shoulders unable to find his words. Lily’s expression softened.

“Be careful Regulus,” she whispered.

Suddenly Harry’s world spun and he found himself in Orion’s study once more. Kit cast him a glance.

“Your mother was researching the Dark Lord,” said Kit quietly. “Maybe she found something.”

Harry swallowed.

“Let’s go,” he whispered.

“Where?” asked Malfoy.

“Godric’s Hollow.”

*


Harry knew Godric’s Hollow well though he had never been there. It had haunted his darkest memories for years.

They arrived by side-along apparation next to an old, wooden sign that had Godric’s Hollow carved into it. There was nothing special about this place but Harry could help but like it. All it really was were two dozen little, white cottages arranged in rows. All of them had pretty little gardens and neatly mowed lawns.

“Look there,” whispered Kit.

There was a house in the distance that was larger than all the others. The gardens had completely overrun the house. The house itself was missing sections of roof and the windows were all broken.

A muggle walked straight pass without even looking at it. Harry was thankful that the muggle hadn’t notice the three teenagers appearing from thin air either.

They rushed up to the house. Kit noticed the plaque on the little, white gate.

The Potter’s House. Preserved in their memory and in memory of all those lost during the war. No admittance.


“Well,” muttered Malfoy. “It is your house.”

Harry walked up to the front door and tried to open it but the rusty hinges gave way and it fell forward. He had expected the house to be damaged but he certainly had not expected this.

Everything was covered by a layer of soot, the result of a fire that had engulfed the entire house. Sections of the upstairs rooms had collapsed. It was a miracle it was still standing.

Harry’s face fell. The house seemed much bigger now that they were inside and it would take hours to sift through the wreckage with or with out magic. Kit pursed her lips.

“We’ll search…here,” murmured Kit.

Kit stepped over a fallen beam and walked to the first door on the left. She turned the doorknob and nudged the door with her shoulder but it didn’t budge and made her shoulder quite sore. Harry couldn’t imagine the thin, little Kit managing to shove open anything. Scowling, Kit drew her wand but Malfoy but up a hand to stop her.

“Err…D’Arque? Since this is a memorial…it’s probably not a good idea to blast the door open.”

Malfoy gave the door a rough nudge and door opened. Kit mumbled a thankyou and followed him inside. It had been blocked by a fallen bookshelf. Kit levitated the bookshelf so it stood upright again and all three of them began to look around.

It was a study and it was remarkable intact considering the state of the rest of the house. There were bottles and bottles of potion ingredients. They were all covered in a layer of soot and some of them were cracked and shattered. The ones closet to the door had melted slightly. There was a large cauldron over the fireplace but there was a large crack running down the side.

Harry was forcibly reminded of Snape’s office, though perhaps Snape would have passed on the flowers. There was a vase of dried up roses on a table by the window that had miraculously survived the worst of the fire. These were Lily’s things...

Kit and Malfoy unceremoniously began searching though the draws of the scorched, mahogany desk next to the fireplace. Harry turned to the bookshelf Kit had levitated and absently picked a dusty volume titled Exploring the Cauldron: Advanced Potion Making. A piece of paper that probably had been acting as a bookmark slipped out of the book.

Harry picked it up and instantly recognised the untidy scrawl of the writer.

Dear Lily,

I wasn’t entirely sure what to get you. You already have every kind of cauldron invented by wizard-kind and you already have the rarest Potion ingredient growing in your garden.

I decided upon a book and looked long and hard for one that did not insult your intelligence. I failed dismally so you will have to content yourself with this odious thing and fix up the errors yourself.

I hope you find some enjoyment while sifting through the idiocy, in fact, I can imagine you laughing at every paragraph.

From your friend,
Severus.

PS. Happy Birthday.


It was plain that Snape had taken great pains to write the note as neatly as possible. He had written each letter with immense care and for once his handwriting could be deemed legible (though still untidy).

Harry returned the note and book to the bookshelf and continued to search the rest of the room.

*


As the hours passed, the little light from the soot-covered windows began to fade to darkness. They had managed to clear most of the wreckage but they could not find anything about Voldemort or his horcruxes.

Harry was utterly exhausted but he couldn’t stop now. Spurred by the growing night, he rummaged through the cupboard under the stairs. All he had found so far was James’ old quidditch things. Malfoy slumped on the only chair in the house that was still intact. He turned to Kit who had stopped for a moment and closed her eyes that were red from lack of sleep.

“How did you get that parchment off McGonagall?” asked Malfoy with a frown.

Harry stopped looking through the cupboard and stared at Kit. She opened her eyes but did not look at Harry or Malfoy directly. She stared at the floor and seemed a little...guilty?

“She gave it to me,” said Kit quietly.

Malfoy frowned.

“Why would she give it to you?” he asked. “Unless...”

“You...You told McGonagall about the horcruxes?” whispered Harry.

Kit said nothing for a moment and then gave a small nod. Harry glared at Kit. He couldn’t believe that she had done that.

“I trusted you!” shouted Harry.

“Harry-”

“Dumbledore only wanted Ron and Hermione know!” snarled Harry.

Kit was losing her patience at this point.

“And yet you were about to hunt for the horcruxes with only Draco Malfoy to help you,” she snarled.

Malfoy shuffled in his seat.

“She’s got a point,” he muttered.

When Harry’s gaze did not soften, Kit flushed with anger.

“I did tell McGonagall…and she had so much confidence in you that she actually let you leave the house when every Death Eater in England wants nothing more than to drag you to the Dark Lord!” she hissed. “I know you’re worried, I know you’re exhausted but stop taking it out on me!”

Realising what an idiot he was being Harry slumped back and leaned against the stairs, defeated.

“I’m sorry...” he mumbled. “I was-”

“Being a dickhead?” supplied Malfoy.

Kit silenced Malfoy with a glare but when she turned to Harry again her expression had completely changed.

“I’m sorry Kit,” muttered Harry again.

As if he needed something to making him feel worse, his scar seared with pain again. Harry tried not to think of what it could mean but his though strayed to Ginny and what was happening to her. Kit noticed the look on his face.

“Your scar hurts, doesn’t it?” she said quietly.

Harry said nothing.

“Sit down,” said Kit forcefully.

Harry shook his head and staggered towards the cupboard.

“No, I need to keep searching…I need to find-”

Kit stuck a hand out to stop him.

“You haven’t eaten all day and you haven’t rested once,” snarled Kit, sounding like Snape and Molly Weasley all at once. “Sit!”

Kit steered him towards what had once been the couch. She repaired it with a flick of her wand. Harry collapsed onto it and buried his face in his hands. Kit went to the broken down kitchen. The cooking utensils were not fit to use so Kit conjured a small pot and a spoon.

“I’m warning you now...I can’t cook anything but prison food,” said Kit. “It’s nothing to Mrs. Weasley’s cooking.”

“I don’t care at this point,” muttered Malfoy. “I’ll eat cardboard if you give it to me.”

A small smile flickered on Kit’s face as she began to conjure ingredients from nothing. Five minutes later she forced a bowl of steaming soup into Harry’s hand. It tasted horrible but all three of them were done in the next five minutes.

“Could do with some salt,” said Malfoy with a shudder.

Kit muttered something that sounded an awful lot like ‘snob’ but she was smiling. Harry heard none of this exchange. He slumped back into the cushions and fell into an exhausted, fitful sleep. There was one day to go...

*


The next morning, when the light had just begun to filter through the windows, they resumed their search. Harry was beginning to feel sick with worry. They had found nothing. Not a scrap of evidence. Not a single clue. When they had searched the last room, Kit cast Harry a glance.

“Harry...there’s nothing here,” she muttered.

“But...there has to be...they knew...”

“We’ll...go to the orphanage you told me about,” said Kit. “There’s bound to be something there.”

Kit and Malfoy turned to walk out. Before he could leave, Harry’s eyes fell on a portrait. It was a painting of Lily, James and himself. Baby Harry was sitting on his mother’s lap and sucking his fingers. Malfoy caught sight of it and chuckled.

Kit frowned and walked up to the portrait. She tapped the wall and it made a deep, hollow noise. Lily smiled at her, her green eyes dancing mischievously.

“What are you hiding,” asked Kit shrewdly.

Lily laughed and exchanged glances with James.

“She’s clever...this one,” chuckled James.

Harry swallowed.

“Mum...Dad...please, I need to get in,” he whispered.

“I’m not going to let anyone in if they don’t know the password,” said Lily with a smile.

James winked at him. Harry looked up hopefully.

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good!” he cried.

“That’s my boy,” said James proudly.

The portrait swung forwards and revealed a doorknob. When Harry touched it, the rest of the door materialised. Harry pushed the door open and lit his wand to see through the darkness.

It was a little room, no bigger than his bedroom in the Dursley’s house. The walls were covered in sketches and notes. Lying on a small wooden desk was a large diary. Harry picked it up and skimmed through it. Lily had dated every piece of research they had done.

On the 1st of September, there was a map of Little Hangleton, a muggle photograph of the orphanage Tom Riddle had lived in. James, who Harry knew was good at drawing, had sketched pictures of Mrs. Cole and a pretty, young girl. He had scrawled the name Amy Benson in the corner.

Harry found details of almost everything he had learned from Dumbledore but his parents seemed convinced there was only one horcrux. On the 30th of October, Lily had written down three words.

Come and go.

Then the journal ended.

“Come and go?” said Malfoy with a frown. “Does anyone else feel like they’re missing the joke?”

Harry flicked back a few pages. James had lost the Mauraders Map but he still knew every detail of the castle. He had redrawn sections of the map. Why Lily and James be looking at a map of Hogwarts? Unless...

“He put it back…” said Harry quietly. “It’s at Hogwarts…the Cup is at Hogwarts.”

Kit gasped.

“When he came to ask for the Defence Against the Dark Arts post again…he wanted to be back at Hogwarts…” muttered Harry. “...a place where he felt at home…a place special to him…a place to hide his horcrux…where in his mind…it belonged.”

Harry looked up into Kit’s startled face. Everything was starting to make sense.

“Dumbledore didn’t give him the job…but he must have found a way…”

Harry stared at the journal and then it came to him.

“Come and go,” muttered Harry.

Harry looked at Malfoy. There was realisation on the pale teenager’s face. They both knew what this meant. They knew where the horcrux was.

“What’s the one place you can hide something in Hogwarts and know that no one…not even Dumbledore…will ever find it?” said Malfoy quietly. “A place you can keep a big secret?”

Harry nodded.

“The Room of Requirement…It’s in the Room of Requirement.”

Chapter 26: Return to Hogwarts
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Return to Hogwarts


Harry, Kit and Malfoy apparated outside the gates of Hogwarts once more. Kit pointed her wand at the gate and murmured an enchantment. Her spell worked far more effectively that Snape’s had, probably because McGonagall wasn’t trying to keep her out. The large gates opened wide and they walked through the grass towards the castle.

Suddenly the ground rumbled as though the grounds were being struck by an earthquake. The sound of destruction roared in Harry’s ears. Cracks appeared in blue sky and grew larger and large.

“The barrier!” cried Kit. “The anti-apparition barrier is breaking!”

Harry’s eye widened in alarm. The cracks had stopped travelling…then a sound like a million glasses shattering filled the air. The shards of the barrier plummeted to earth but dissolved into nothingness before they could hit the ground.

Before they could gather their wits, a dozen loud bangs went off all around them. They were surrounded by hooded figures…Death Eaters. They were outnumbered four to one. There was no getting out of this.

“Throw aside your wands,” came drawl of Lucius Malfoy from under one of the hoods.

Draco’s nails dug deep into the wood of his wand and he showed no signs of wanting to comply. Kit’s eyes darted from Death Eater to Death Eater and her grip on her wand slackened.

“Malfoy…do as he says,” whispered Kit.

“That’s right Draco,” sneered a Death Eater. “Listen to the half-breed slut.”

Kit’s eyes darken but she threw aside her wand. Harry mimicked her, his heart pounding in his ears. Malfoy was shaking with anger but his Slytherin commonsense overruled his fury. His wand joined Kit’s and Harry’s. One Death Eater collected their wands. Another stood forward and pulled off their mask to reveal the gaunt, yet beautiful features of Bellatrix Lestrange.

“You showed up early Potter,” she said, softly. “Several hours early in fact.”

She walked up to Harry slowly, smirk playing about her face.

“Dear little Ginny and I have been having so much fun together,” she jeered. “Girl talk is hard to come by in my crowd.”

Harry’s hands clenched themselves into fists.

“She’s very shy though,” said Bellatrix casually. “It took a little bit of… persuasion to get her to talk.”

The Death Eaters roared with laughter. Harry could not contain himself any longer. He forgot about wands and started towards Bellatrix, determined to hurt her as much as possible. Before he could get his hands on her, she lazily flicked her wand and he was frozen on the spot. Malfoy found two wands at his throat. Kit made a sudden movement as though she was about to fly about Bellatrix but another Death Eater roughly caught her arms and held her back.

“I’m shocked Potter,” said Bellatrix with mock astonishment. “That wasn’t very nice.”

Harry struggled to move in his invisible bonds. Bellatrix patted his cheek.

“The Dark Lord tells me you’re trying to put your filthy mudblood hands on something that belongs to him,” she sneered. “Can have that now can we?”

With a cry of frustration and anger, Harry managed to break a part of Bellatrix’s spell and pulled his face away from her.

“Get away from me!” he snarled.

“That was cruel Potter,” she pouted. “There’s no need to be so vexed…you’ll still get to duel the Dark Lord.”

Like a ravenous alley cat that had spotted a particularly large mouse, Bellatrix slowly turned her head to Kit and Malfoy.

“Unfortunately the Dark Lord did not give me permission to harm you Potter,” she whispered. “He wants you all to himself. You’ll just have to stay put and watch me deal with your friends.”

Kit struggled in the Death Eater’s grasp and gave Bellatrix a look of pure loathing.

“You’re pathetic,” she snarled. “Are you incapable of thinking for yourself or are you so obsessed with the Dark Lord that-”

With a cry of rage, Bellatrix strode up to Kit and slapped her with all her might. Kit let out a gasp pain.

“Leave her alone!” shouted Malfoy.

Bellatrix ignored Malfoy. Breathing heavily, she slowly pointed her wand at the base of Kit’s throat. Kit looked up at Bellatrix and met her hateful gaze without flinching.

“You’re going to pay for that,” breathed Bellatrix.

Bellatrix wasn’t joking around or teasing anymore. She was furious…and Kit seemed determined to keep it that way.

“I’m sorry Bellatrix,” sneered Kit. “If snake scales does it for you then-”

“Crucio!” screeched Bellatrix.

Kit withered and twitched in the Death Eaters arms. After what seemed an age, she finally fell limp. She trembled for a moment and then steadied herself.

For reasons unfathomable to Bellatrix, or anyone else for that matter, Kit managed to laugh after she had caught her breath. There was nothing forced about it. It was soft and echoic, as Kit’s laugh always was. A trace of confusion was detectable on Bellatrix’s features.

“Is something funny?” she snarled.

“Yes there is Bellatrix,” laughed Kit. “I’m trying to distract you until Ron and Hermione get here.”

Before Bellatrix’s eyes had time to widen, she was knocked off her feet by a jet of blue-green flame from Hermione’s wand. Kit shoved her elbow into the stomach of her captor, turned around and brought him to his knees with deep rattling breath. Malfoy punched one of his captors in the stomach and the other froze and fell to the ground, petrified by Ron.

Hermione ran up to Harry and freed him from his prison.

“Oh Harry, we were so worried!” she cried.

Hermione turned around and fought off the big blonde Death Eater Harry encountered in his sixth year. Ron stunned the Death Eater with their wands and retrieved them. He tossed a wand to Malfoy who promptly began duelling his father.

“I’ve been a prat!” shouted Ron, as he threw Harry his wand. “I didn’t mean…”

Ron ducked to avoid a jet of green light.

“…what I said.”

Harry stunned the culprit and began duelling another Death Eater.

“Ron, this is a kind of a bad…”

Harry knocked back the Death Eaters into Macnair.

“…time,” he finished.

“Well,” muttered Ron. “If I’m not going to apologise now…”

Macnair got to his feet and furiously started after them. Ron and Harry had no more time to take after that, both of them trying to knock out Macnair. Ron gave Kit her wand as she ran past.

“They’ll be time for a sappy reunion later!” she shouted. “Right now we need to get to the castle!”

But the unconscious Death Eaters were getting up. The shock had worn off and now the fight had really started. They were outnumbered and the Death Eaters were going to overwhelm them.

Bellatrix and Kit were in a fierce duel but Kit was by no means the more experienced dueller and she had already suffered under the cruciatus curse. Harry, Ron and Hermione were surrounded by Death Eaters and it was getting harder and harder to block their curses. Lucius knocked his son to the floor and raised his wand.

“Sectumsempra!”

Lucius gasped and dropped his wand as his hand was slashed by an invisible forced. He looked up and an ugly snarl formed on his face.

“Snape!” hissed Lucius.

It was indeed Snape…and other members of the Order. McGonagall, Moody, Lupin, Tonks, Bill, Fleur and Hagrid (armed and dangerous with his pink umbrella) stood poised and ready to defend the five teenagers. Lucius seized his wand again and fired a curse back at Snape. Snape deflected it with ease and a sneer formed on his face.

“You spend too much time duelling wandless teenagers Lucius,” said Snape. “You’re losing your touch.”

At this, the Order charged. Snape and Malfoy took on Lucius. McGonagall rushed to Kit’s aid and defended her from Bellatrix’s blows. Bellatrix and McGonagall slowly circled each other, McGonagall shielding the exhausted Kit as she did so. This duel would be different from the others. It was Dumbledore’s right hand woman versus Voldemort’s most loyal servant and both of them were equally determined to win.

“Take them and go,” hissed McGonagall to Kit. “The Order will handle this.”

Kit nodded and hurried to get Harry, Ron and Hermione. Malfoy had no intention of leaving Snape to handle his father.

“Go Draco!” hissed Snape. “Potter needs your help.”

“But Sir-”

“Go!”

Malfoy spared a glance at Harry and the others who were running up to the castle. Aiming one last curse at his father, he ran after them. They sprinted up the stair case. Harry felt something slide out of his pocket but he did not stop running until he reached the tapestry depicting Barnabus the Barmy.

“I need to find Helga Hufflepuff’s cup!” Harry shouted at the wall.

For a moment nothing happened, and then a small wooden door formed in the wall. It had worked. Hesitating for the briefest moment, Harry opened the door and headed inside, followed by Kit, Ron and Hermione. Malfoy paused and took a deep breath before following suit.

When they were all inside, the door vanished and was replaced by a solid brick wall.


Chapter 27: Fallen Giant
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Fallen Giant


The five teenagers were enveloped in darkness. Hermione, Harry, Malfoy and Ron lit there wands and tried to look for an exit. There were no windows or doors…just stone and dust. There were four large slabs in each corner of the room but other than that it was empty.

“Oh fantastic,” snarled Malfoy. “We’re trapped.”

Kit slumped against on of the slabs. A dark bruise was appearing on her face were Bellatrix had struck her and the cruciatus curse had been more harmful than Harry had imagined. He cast a glance at Hermione, who pointed her wand at Kit and healed the bruise. Kit didn’t look so bad now but the bags under her eyes and the now sickly pallor of her skin made the bone thin witch actually seem half-starved.

“Thank you,” said Kit gratefully, hauling herself upright and lighting up her own wand

“Wait…what’s that?” muttered Ron.

Kit turned around and lit up the stone slab behind her. Half-veiled by a layer of dust was something etched into the stone. Kit gently blew the dust away and wiped away the remnants with her hand.

It was thin, slanted writing but Harry could not understand a word. Hermione peered over his shoulder.

“It’s no language I’ve ever seen,” she muttered.

“It’s Latin,” said Malfoy. “It says…Here lies Salazar, son of Slytherin…and then it blabs on about other morbid things. This is a tomb.”

The others starred at Malfoy in shock. Hermione was the most surprised of all of them.

“You can read Latin?” she scoffed.

Malfoy noted the hint of scepticism and mockery in her words. He decided to take insult.

“Most purebloods can,” said Malfoy coldly.

Hermione scowled and her cheeks flushed. Ron cracked his knuckles and Malfoy gave them both a cold glare. Harry ignored the subtle exchange of hostility. They didn’t have time for this.

“What do the rest of them say?” asked Harry.

They revealed the Latin on the tomb opposite. Malfoy frowned and muttered under his breath as deciphered the language.

“Here lies… Selena, of the house of Gryffindor,” he muttered, casting a questioning glance at Harry and Kit.

“Slytherin’s lover,” said Kit.

Malfoy shook his head.

“So you weren’t making that up....if the others knew-”

“Keep reading!” shouted Harry and Kit.

Malfoy raised his hands defensively and headed to the other tomb.

“Okay…okay…umm…Here lies Rowena of the House of Ravenclaw.”

They reached the last tomb. Harry held his breath with anticipation as Malfoy read.

“Here lies Helga, daughter of Hufflepuff,” said Malfoy. “That’s it.”

Harry’s face fell. That couldn’t just be it…there had to be something…

Harry gave a cry that made the others jump and turned to Kit.

“Wait… you said that Hufflepuff fell through the veil like Sirius did!” he cried.

Kit looked startled.

“Y-Yes…That’s the story,” she said.

“Well then she can’t be buried here!” he said loudly.

“Do you…think this is where Gryffindor first hid the cup?” asked Kit.

Harry nodded. He tried up open the tomb but it was sealed shut. The others rushed to help him but it there efforts were in vain. Not even Kit and Hermione’s spell work could make any difference.

“Harry…get out of the way,” said Kit

They all moved aside as Kit pointed her wand at the tomb.

“Reducto!” she cried.

The tomb was blasted apart to reveal a narrow stairway that descended into darkness. There was more Latin carved into the stone here. Absum ignavus maculo illae tumbus nisi vos opto a igneus nex …

“What does that say?” muttered Ron.

“Basically…bugger off or you’re dead,” grimaced Malfoy.

He glanced at Ron.

“Well…ladies first,” said Malfoy.

Ron responded by seizing Malfoy by his robes, showing him through the opening and following after him. Harry, Hermione and Kit cautiously followed in after them. The light from there wands was barely enough to light up the passage way. Soon they reached a corridor.

Suddenly Malfoy let out a cry of alarm. His face was bring attacked by a small winged creature unlike any Harry had ever seen before. Ron tried to stun it but nearly hit Malfoy.

“Get it off me!” shouted Malfoy.

Hermione slashed at it with her wand and the creature squealed in pain before vanishing into the darkness. Malfoy caught his breath, his features a mixture of anger and shock.

“What the hell was that!” snarled Malfoy.

“I think it was a chimera…a baby chimera,” said Hermione.

Malfoy glared at Hermione.

“This may be news to you Granger but chimeras don’t fly!” he hissed.

Hermione glowered at him.

“A thank you would be nice!” she snarled. “I just saved your ungrateful, pureblood neck and you-”

“Quiet!” hissed Kit. “There may be more of them!”

This was enough to shut them both up effectively. Kit shoved past the bickering pair and took the lead. The corridor ended and there was a sudden flash of light as the room before them was lit by an unseen force.

It was as if the chamber had been built by giants. Harry found it hard to believe that the room even fitted inside the confines of the castle. The walls were painted with horrific images of ferocious monster and, since it was the wizarding world, they were all moving and seemed unnaturally life like. The ceiling disappeared into nothingness but Harry could just make out the silhouette of a large, crystal chandelier.

Harry frowned. The light from the chandelier lit up the ground before him but did not light up the ceiling. That was strange… He put the thought out of his mind and looked forward. In the distance, there was a glint of gold. Voldemort had returned the cup exactly were it belonged. It sat on a ledge on the back wall.

They cautiously headed towards the cup, their eyes darting around the room. It wasn’t like Voldemort to leave his horcrux so unprotected.

“This place is huge,” muttered Harry. “What’s all the room for?”

Kit winced as she looked at a particularly nasty image of a monster disembowelling a wizard that seemed to be shrieking in pain.

“Charming décor,” muttered Malfoy. “You think they’re trying to tell us something?”

Hermione sniffed the air and frowned. They stopped and frowned at her.

“Is something…burning?” she whispered.

Harry inhaled deeply. The entire room had begun to smell of sulphur and it was coming from above. Slowly, they all looked up.

“Oh no…” mumbled Malfoy.

Something flew from the darkness of the ceiling and landed between them and the cup.

It had two heads; one of a ferocious lion and another of a dark green snake. It had eagle’s wings and talons and stout back legs of a badger. Its tail was long and dark green like the snake and ended with a sharp spear. It made the basilisk that had previously lived in the Chamber of Secrets look positively puny.

To make matters worse, the lion head was growling and the snake head was hissing at the people in front of it. Harry realized why Voldemort didn’t have any spells protecting the horcrux. He didn’t need to protect his horcrux. Godric Gryffindor had done it for him.

“Bloody hell,” said Ron faintly.

Kit, Harry, Ron, Hermione and Malfoy backed away slowly. The lion had begun panting and flames were spiting out of its mouth like a broken, muggle heater. Hermione squeaked.

“Well, of course it breaths fire,” growled Malfoy.

Kit swallowed.

“Harry…say something parseltongue,” said Kit.

“Like what?” snapped Harry.

“We don’t taste nice,” suggested Ron.

We come in peace,” hissed Harry hopefully.

The lion head roared and a gust of flame issued from its mouth.

Die humans!” hissed the snake head.

Kit, Malfoy, Hermione and Ron figured out its reply for themselves.

“Run!” roared Malfoy.

The others had no problem complying. The snake head lunged at Ron but Harry shoved him aside in time.

“We need to get pass it!” hissed Kit.

Rising off the ground, she glided back towards the monster.

“She’s flying,” croaked Malfoy.

The monster, now intent on killing the figure gliding around its head, snapped its lion jaws and barely missed her.

“Have you gone mad?” cried Ron horror. “What are you doing?”

Kit dodged another attack from the snake head and sent a hex at the lion.

“GET THE CUP!” she roared.

Harry tried to run around the monster that the snake tail stuck out at him like a whip, the spear tail leaving a deep gash on his arm. Ron and Hermione joined in the fray, firing curses at the monsters wings to stop it from flying. Kit continued to keep the heads occupied and dodged the balls of flame it threw at her. The monster slowly began to back towards the cup.

Harry and Malfoy swerved and dodged around the monsters feet and tail. The seekers were light and fast on their feet. The snake tail knocked Hermione to the ground and knocked Kit out of the sky. Ron fell back to avoid a ball of flame and dropped his wand in the process. Malfoy dived out of the way before one of the badger legs could deliver a fatal blow and seized the cup from its resting place.

“Catch Potter!” roared Malfoy.

Malfoy flung the cup to Harry and leaped out of the way before a giant eagle’s claw could strike him. Harry ran back and tried to get away. The monster gave a cry of rage and reared.

The monster’s attention was on Harry now. As the creature beat its great wings and flew towards him, Harry pointed his wand at the ceiling. There wands couldn’t fight this creature…they needed another weapon.

“Reducto!” roared Harry.

The spell shot up into the ceiling and vanished into the darkness. Suddenly the enormous chandelier gave a lurch and plummeted to the ground. The monster gave a final cry as the chandelier impaled it. The hall was thrown into darkness once more, great big chunks of rock and debris fell from the ceiling. Harry couldn’t get away in time and soon found himself completely covered.

“Harry!” screamed Hermione.

Kit hauled herself into a sitting position, brand new bruises covering her arms, and produced a beam of light from her wand. Hermione staggered to her feet and mimicked her, frantically pointing the beam from her wand at the rubble. Malfoy, paler than ever, hurried to help.

“Pottter!” he shouted. “Potter, say something!”

Ron and Malfoy began pulling at the rumble.

“Hem ova ear!”

Kit hurried forward and levitated a wooden plank of Harry. A golden cup was clench in his hand.

“You’ve got nine lives Potter,” said Malfoy with a grin.

Harry winced with pain. His leg was broken. Kit healed it with a flick of her wand.

“Next time…try a course of action that won’t nearly kill you,” she muttered, helping Harry to his feet.

“It worked, didn’t it?” mumbled Harry.

Harry picked up his wand and glanced at the cup in his hand. Even though it was only decorated by a badger it was certainly a beautiful trinket…it seemed to produce its own light in the darkness.

“Give me the cup,” said Kit quietly.

Harry found he could not look away from the cup. Kit’s voice seemed distant... in a far away world that didn’t matter. His green eyes were reflected from the bottom of the cup but he didn’t think they were really his. Kit outstretched her hand.

“Harry…give me the cup,” she said a little loudly.

Harry didn’t move.

“Potter!” shouted Malfoy.

Harry snapped out of his trance, wrenched his eyes away from the horcrux and shoved it into Kit’s hands. Kit held it at an arms distance and drew in deep rattling breath that was now discomfortingly familiar. Grey smoke, like the smoke that had poured out from the Soul Box, flowed from the cup towards Kit’s gapping mouth. For one chilling moment, Harry though he saw Tom Riddle’s face in the smoke, his mouth open in a silent scream.

Destroy it! hissed Kit.

At first, Harry was unsure if she had spoken at all. Her voice was more rasping than echoic and there was something sinister about it. Malfoy pointed his wand at the smoke.

“Avada Kedavra!” he hissed.

There was such hatred in Malfoy’s eyes that Hermione took an involuntary step back. A jet of green light hit the smoke. It seemed to collapse in on itself and then it vanished. For the first time in a long time, Harry remembered that Malfoy was once a Death Eater.

The expression faded quickly from his face. Suddenly he was just obnoxious Draco Malfoy again. He cast Kit a curious look.

“What are you?” he asked bluntly.

Before Kit could answer, there was a sickening ripping nose from above.

“Urgh…” said Hermione with a shudder.

About a hundred miniatures of the monster Harry had just slain descended from the darkness and started eating their mother. Evidentially one of this brood was what had attacked Malfoy in the corridor. They paid no attention to the humans and were rather messy and noisy eaters.

“What is it with this bloody school and monsters?” said Ron with disgust.

“Ask you half-giant friend once we get out of this,” said Malfoy. “Can we go now? I’ve had enough of these little bastards to last me a lifetime.”

The five teenagers headed to the other end of the hall. They had reached the corridor when Ron paused.

“Is it a bit…quiet in here?” he muttered.

That was true…the monsters were making no noise at all. They had finished...

The sound of a hundred noses sniffing the air and two hundred wings taking flight broke the silence. They were coming for more meat.

“Run!” roared Harry.

They down the corridor, firing hexes at the upcoming brood over their shoulders. They scampered up the stand and ran to where the door had once been. Kit threw aside the cup and focused all her energy on getting them out.

“Reducto!” screamed Kit.

The spell made a small dent in the wall…nothing more.

“Come on!” shouted Ron. “Reducto!”

Malfoy pounded the wall with his fists. The creatures were close now…Harry could hear their yowling echoing up the stairs. They turned around to face the creatures…there was far too many to fight them all off.

“We need to get out!” shouted Harry. “We need to get out!”

To his relief, the door appeared again. They rushed through it just as the creatures were emerging from the corridor and slammed the door shut. The door vanished but Harry knew it would be back.

Just when they needed it.

Kit brushed some of the dust and debris off her robes.

“That’s it,” she whispered. “They’re all gone.”

The gravity of Kit was saying hit Harry like a tone of bricks. The last horcrux was gone…now he had to face Voldemort…for the last time…

“Harry!”

Harry spun around, Hagrid was rushing towards them. There was a cut near his eyes but he seemed otherwise unharmed.

“Yiz alright?” asked Hagrid anxiously.

Harry nodded. Words had deserted him for now.

“Yiz got what yeh needed?”

Harry nodded, still too overcome for words. Hagrid beamed at the five of them.

“Yeh, did it!” said Hagrid happily. “I knew yiz could do it! Even you Malfoy… tho’ I had me doubts.”

Malfoy rolled his eyes.

“You missed out,” he drawled. “There were fire breathing monsters and everything… sir.”

“I have a chance to see ‘em once we get rid of the Death Eaters,” said Hagrid, missing the sarcasm in Malfoy’s voice.

“They’re still here?” muttered Kit.

Hagrid nodded gravely.

“And they brought more company too,” he muttered. “We need yeh help.”

Without even taking a moment to rest, they followed Hagrid back down the grounds. The duelling was just as fierce as they had left it. McGonagall and Bellatrix firing curse after curse at each other…neither one of them seemed to be losing. Bellatrix was bleeding badly from a cut on her leg and moved with a limp. McGonagall’s movements were noticeably sluggish and Harry knew that Bellatrix had landed a few curses of her own.

Snape was now fighting Lucius and another Death Eater. They were on either side of him and he was losing this fight. Malfoy ran to help him without hesitation. Kit joined Tonks against Rookwood and Avery and Ron and Hermione helped Lupin fight off the Carrows.

Harry and Hagrid began duelling a weedy Death Eater and another heavily built one. Hagrid knocked out the heavily built Death Eater and the weedy raised a wand to curse him. Harry stunned him before he had even opened his mouth.

Hagrid turned around and saw the stunned Death Eater. He looked at Harry again with pride.

“Yeh know what Harry?” said Hagrid. “I think yeh might just beat him. Yeh’ve got summat You-Know-Who won’t exp-”

Hagrid did not get to finish his sentence. Before anyone could prevent it, a jet of green light from Macnair’s wand soared towards him and struck him in the back.




A/N: I can’t believe I just did that…

I hate to leave it like this but I won’t be updating for a while because I have exams. I thought I'd leave you with a parting present in the form an update.

I’m also very behind on reading and reviewing people’s stories…I will get to them as soon as exams are done.

Oh someone has already made me a banner...it will be on as soon as I fix up a few things.


Chapter 28: Rodolphus Lestrange
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PLEASE NOTE:

My review my story, I review yours policy has changed. I am up to my eyeballs in homework which is why it took me so many months to finish this. If you REALLY want me to read and review your story, please say so in the review. I will put you on a list and I will get to it when I can see over the pile of homework.

So far I have Niki014 and Snapegirl on my 'to read list'. If I forgot anyone, let me know. I will get there eventually... Curse you, VCE exams!!! *shakes fist*






Rodolphus Lestrange


Harry didn’t hear Macnair’s shout of triumph or Hermione’s scream of grief. He didn’t even hear Hagrid’s small cry of surprise. All he could hear was his heart pounding in is head as he watched his first friend in the world fall.

Hagrid black beetle eyes were open and blank...devoid of warmth. He did not move again.

Harry couldn’t feel horror or sadness. He numb of all emotion...except one. The same anger that consumed him when Sirius was killed, that had lurked out of sight for so many years, came up to the surface with a vengeance.

Harry’s eyes slowly rose to meet Macnair’s. A loathsome, sneer full of contempt formed on the Death Eater’s face. Macnair pocketed his wand and held his axe with both hands. Harry assumed duelling stance, his hands shaking with anger and his nails digging into the wood of his wand.

Harry lunged forward, casting a powerful curse as he did so. It hit the blade of the axe and bounced straight back. Harry quickly deflected it. Macnair had done more with his axe than sharpen it… it was enchanted.

They continued to duel. Harry slashed and dodged, furiously trying to get around Macnair’s large enchanted axe. Though the enchantment on Macnair’s axe was powerful, Harry was quicker than Macnair. Every time Macnair took a swing at him he managed to dart around him and perform a curse.

Suddenly there were arrows everywhere. Alecto Carrows fell with a horrible half gurgling scream; an arrow piercing her heart. Shadowy figures were emerging from the forest. The centaurs had joined the battle.

As Harry continued to fight Macnair, he noticed the trees were effortlessly being knocked out of the way. Someone, or something, was coming.

It was Grawp. He howled in rage and knocked over a Death Eater with a massive fist. Another Death Eater tried to fight him off but there was a ferocious growl and something large and hairy slammed into him, sinking his teeth into the Death Eater’s wand arm. Fang… He desperately fought off Fang only to be lifted high into the air and thrown into the lake by Buckbeak’s powerful talons.

Harry paid them no more attention. Macnair was retreating backwards. Harry almost had him…and he was going to pay.

Suddenly Macnair’s face was contorted in pain. A gasp left the Death Eater’s lips and his left hand drooped. Voldemort was calling them back. The same fear and pain showed on the faces of the other Death Eaters.

“No!” screamed Bellatrix.

Bellatrix was getting desperate; her curses were becoming weaker and more frequent as she tried to hit McGonagall. The headmistress’ face was twisted in savage triumph.

Suddenly the duel was won. Bellatrix was knocked off her feet and lay panting on the ground. As McGonagall towered over her and prepared to strike, Bellatrix glared at her; not with fear but with pure hatred.

“This victory means nothing!” she spat. “Potter will never defeat the Dark Lord...and you will never win the war!

Before the fatal curse could leave McGonagall’s lips, a jet of blue-black flame soared towards her from another Death Eaters’ wand. McGonagall blocked the curse but it was too late. Bellatrix had vanished. The other Death Eaters who were still able followed suit.

Macnair was trying to get away but Harry was too quick for him, darting around and cutting off his exits. Macnair raised his axe one last time but Harry already had his wand at the Death Eater’s heart. Macnair’s eyes widened as he waited for the blow.

Kill him! said a vicious voice in Harry head.

No... said another voice. No, I won’t...

He deserves it... kill him!

But Harry hesitated... and Macnair vanished with a crack.

Harry stared at the place Macnair had stood. His wand was pointed at thin air. Harry had Macnair exactly where he wanted him...and he just let him go.

Would he do this when it came to finishing Voldemort? If it came to that at all...

Numbly, he looked up at Kit. She winced and bit her bottom lip until it bled. Malfoy stood some distance from her and he was holding his left arm tightly. Snape only twitched slightly and flexed his fingers but Harry knew that he was as in much pain as the others. Voldemort was not happy with his Death Eaters but somehow that thought gave Harry no satisfaction.

Grawp sat down on the soft grass, his lower lip trembling. Fang was nuzzling Hagrid and whimpering. Buckbeak was pawing the ground, agitated. McGonagall’s eyes fell on Hagrid and a strangled gasp left her lips. She closed her eyes briefly and, when they were opened, they were filled with cold resolve. She turned slowly to face Tonks.

Tonks had her wand trained on the same Death Eater that tried to curse McGonagall and let Bellatrix escape. Tonks roughly seized the front of his robes but he fought her off.

“Get your hands off me, mudblood!” he shouted.

Tonks shoved him forward with a small flick of her wand. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Malfoy and the Order slowly formed a tight circle around the Death Eater and Tonks.

Each and every member of the Order gave the Death Eater a look of hatred, but none of their hatred could compare to Tonks’. She pulled off his mask and threw it into the dirt to reveal blank, dark eyes. They were out of place with the rest of his gaunt face that was twisted in fury. This man was Rodolphus Lestrange.

“Wotcher Uncle Rodolphus,” sneered Tonks.

With a false look of concentration, Tonks pretended to rummage her robes for something.

“Damn… I don’t have any Veritaserum on me,” said Tonks with a heavy sigh.

Snape raised his eyebrows. Harry was sure that the Potions Master did have Veritaserum somewhere but, for reasons unfathomable, he remained silent.

“I’m afraid I’m going to have to use unconventional methods to get the truth out of you,” continued Tonks with mock disappointment.

She slowly lowered herself down to his level and pointed her wand at his face. Her expression changed quickly, from mocking to loathing.

“Did you know that Aurors are allowed... practically encouraged... to perform unforgivable curses on Death Eaters?” whispered Tonks dangerously.

Rodolphus actually laughed.

“You’re far too weak to cast such curses,” he said with a sneer to match Tonks’. “You don’t have the resolve...or the power.”

Tonks’ mouth twitched slightly but the loathing and contempt did not leave her features.

“Perhaps,” she said causally, “but I can find the deepest, darkest hole in Azkaban for you to rot in.”

Tonks leaned in towards Rodolphus. With her wand pointed at his neck, she whispered in his ear.

“Do you really think I am incapable of that?”

The others heard her clearly. Perhaps it was because no one was breathing very loudly, if at all. Rodolphus paled unpleasantly. Clearly Azkaban had done more to him than just leave his face hollow and gaunt. Tonks slowly looked away from Rodolphus and, to everyone’s surprise, faced Kit.

“D’Arque?” said Tonks politely.

If Kit found Tonks’ behaviour odd in any way, she didn’t show it.

“Yes Tonks?” answered Kit, suddenly sounding like Tonks’ best friend.

“What cell do you recon will suit my Uncle? His old cell won’t do at all…far too comfortable.”

The fear on Rodolphus’ face was no longer hidden. He turned, if possible, even paler. A vicious smile formed on Kit’s face.

“Sirius Black’s old cell,” said Kit, softly and silkily. “My Uncle says that twelve of the last thirteen prisoners tried to hang themselves with their bed sheets.”

Hermione let out a small gasp. Harry looked up at Kit, barely able to hide his revulsion.

“Only three of them succeeded,” said Kit casually, as one might describe the weather. “The other nine died of Bubonic Plague.”

At this point, Malfoy looked like he was going to be sick. Ron and Hermione had similar complexions to Rodolphus.

“Bubonic Plague?” croaked Hermione. “That’s a muggle disease!”

“No it isn’t...it just happens to affect both muggles and wizards,” said Kit lightly. “Personally I don’t understand why all those rats didn’t die from the cold... they probably managed to survive by eating those rotting corpses in the graveyard.”

Harry’s stomach squirmed. They had all heard tales of Azkaban... but none of them had grasped how horrible the place really was. Kit walked up to Tonks and stood next to her. Despite the fact that Rodolphus was as heavily built as Kit was slight, Kit and Tonks them seemed to tower over him.

“Or perhaps...if your Uncle cooperates we could organise a much nicer cell,” said Kit slowly. “One with a window and a view.”

“Ask your questions,” snarled Rodolphus. “But know that I will say nothing to betray the Dark Lord.”

There was a long silence. It was abruptly broken by Tonks.

“Is Ginny Weasley alive?” she asked sharply.

Harry held his breath. Rodolphus noticed this. He slowly and deliberately turned to look at Harry. His mouth curled into a sneer once more.

“Your concern for the little blood traitor is most touching. I wonder how you will ever do without her Potter... if you survive to regret it.”

Seething with anger, Harry started forward but Snape halted him with a look. Harry slowly returned to the circle and Snape took a step forward.

“Answer the question, Rodolphus,” said Snape, his voice dripping with venom. “Or I’ll start to cut things off...and I can assure you that they will be things you will miss.

Rodolphus was not exactly frightened of Snape, but he shot him a look that scorched.

“The girl is alive,” he said under his breath. “And doing rather well, all things considered.”

Ron couldn’t hide his relief. He looked around the circle, hope in his eyes. Harry did not feel the same way. He couldn’t imagine anyone doing well in Voldemort’s clutches. He had been there too many times.

What was he doing to her?

Grimacing, Rodolphus turned to Tonks.

“Did you expect the Dark Lord to go back on his word, Nymphadora?” he asked.

There was a hint of bitterness now evident in his tone. Through his anxiousness, it occurred to Harry that Rodolphus felt that Voldemort had duped him somehow. Tonks was less than sympathetic.

“Call me Nymphadora again and you’ll get rats in your cell,” snapped Tonks. “If you’re lying, the rats will be infected with plague. Got that?”

“The girl is alive,” repeated Rodolphus.

A strange expression flashed on the Death Eater’s face. As if something was about to happen that he dared not hope for. Tonks frowned.

“The Dark Lord has taken a liking to her,” said Rodolphus quietly. “Even if Potter loses… I doubt he’d kill her.”

Harry shook his head in disbelief. Voldemort was not well known for his mercy. How could this be true? Tonks glanced at Snape. There was no sneer on his face. He looked as if he had heard some very bad news.

“He’s telling the truth,” said Snape. “Or at least part of it.”

Kit looked at Rodolphus with a slight frown.

“You don’t seem disappointed, Lestrange,” said Kit, a hint of confusion in her voice. “The girl is a blood traitor, is she not?”

But it was not Rodolphus who answered. It was Snape.

“You think that the girl will take Bellatrix’s place in the Dark Lord’s circle,” said Snape quietly. “Is that correct, Rodolphus?”

Mrs. Weasley let out a small gasp of terror and Mr. Weasley blanched. The members of the Order were exchanging horrified glances. Rodolphus met Snape’s eye… and nodded. Harry shook violently with panic.

“No!” shouted Harry. “No! She’ll never join him!”

“The choice may not be hers, Potter,” said Snape, his voice low and hollow.

Harry couldn’t stand it any longer. Still trembling, he stormed up to the castle, wanting to be alone, wanting to be away from the Death Eater. As he left, McGonagall stood forward. Though her face bore no emotion, it was as white as chalk.

“Return this man to Azkaban, Nymphadora,” breathed McGonagall.

Tonks nodded grimly. Before she could act, Kit took her arm. There was a very ugly look on Kit’s face.

“When you find the deepest, darkest hole in Azkaban,” she said, her voice trembling with suppressed anger, “dig deeper before you put this man in it.”

Rodolphus looked sharply at Tonks.

“You said-” he began.

“I lied,” said Tonks harshly. “Get over it.”

With that, Tonks summoned ropes and a gag around the Death Eater. She seized his bound arm roughly and vanished with a crack.

*


The clearing in which the Order and the centaurs stood was cool and quiet. Golden sunlight filtered in through the tall trees. Somehow this place did not seem as sinister in the afternoon.

Other members of the Order had arrived. Fred and George now stood next to Kit. Only Andromeda, Ted and Charlie had stayed behind at the Burrow to watch over Narcissa Malfoy. An unusually sombre Fred told Malfoy that she still had shown no improvement.

They buried Hagrid under a large oak tree. The Order considered making him a tomb like Dumbledore’s but Hagrid was more at home in wood and earth.

“It seems appropriate,” McGonagall had said quietly when they had made their decision.

Harry looked around at the Order. They faces were downcast and sorrowful. Hermione had a hand on Grawps’ giant fist and was whispering softly to him, tears rolling down her cheeks. Ron however, was not looking at the place Hagrid lay or at his giant brother. Harry followed his line of sight and saw Malfoy, cautiously stroking Buckbeak’s feathers. The hippogriff no longer seemed restless but his head was dropping. Ron’s mouth twitched slightly.

“Be careful Malfoy,” he said, without a hint of hostility. “That hippogriff likes eating ferrets.”

Malfoy cast a glance at Ron but quickly returned his attention to hippogriff…just in case Buckbeak decided to take a snap at his fingers.

“That’s only because he hasn’t tried weasel yet,” muttered Malfoy under his breath.

Any other time, this exchange would have cheered Harry up. He might have even smiled. He wasn’t up to smiling yet.

The centaurs stood in a line and loaded their bows. As they fired their arrows of tribute Harry starred at the mossy ground not looking at anyone. Another failure…Another friend…

Hermione gently nudged Harry with her elbow. He looked up and saw Fang walk up to McGonagall and lick her hand. Harry doubted she was much of a dog-person but the Headmistress smiled slightly, scratched behind his ears and began to walk.

Fang followed McGonagall as she headed towards the giant oak tree Hagrid was buried under. She pointed her wand at the bark and words began to form from its tip. Firenze the centaur read out the words that McGonagall had carved into the tree.

“Rest in peace Hagrid,” said Firenze softly. “Friend of the forest. Friend of ours.”

*


It was growing dark now. The sky was turning from orange to dull pink. There were no clouds. It was going to be a cold night.

Kit found Harry in an empty classroom, looking out the window yet not seeing anything. Waiting was the worst part. Waiting for the world to fall. Still not looking at the girl in the doorway, Harry spoke.

“I can’t beat him, Kit,” said Harry quietly.

Kit said nothing. Harry swallowed and continued.

“The last time I fought him...face to face... I couldn’t touch him.”

He finally met Kit’s eyes, desperate and pleading.

“Not many fourteen year olds can boast the ability to fight off Dark Lord,” whispered Kit, “yet you escaped.”

“Not before Cedric Diggory was killed,” said Harry.

Before Harry could say anymore, a jet of red light soared towards him. Fumbling for his wand, he blocked it clumsily. Kit was actually trying to curse him! Had he offended her? She fired at him again and again, without restraint. Her curses were powerful and she fired them with nearly deadly accuracy.

But Harry acted on instinct. Spells seemed to flow effortlessly out of his wand. The duel lasted another minute. Kit’s wand was on the floor and his wand was pointed at her heart. They were both breathing heavily and there were singes on Harry’s robes were Kit had barely missed him. Lowering his wand, Harry glared at Kit with mingled confusion and anger.

“What are you playing at?” shouted Harry. “You damn near took my head off!”

But Kit was smiling at him. Harry realised what she had been trying to do. He had never really beaten Kit in a duel before. He had come close but their lessons were never completed. At some point, Harry had surpassed Kit.

“You shouldn’t doubt yourself, Harry,” she said. “You’re more powerful than you know.”

Harry picked up Kit’s wand and shoved it into her hands.

“You’re not Voldemort,” he said bitterly.

He turned away from her again and she caught his arm.

“Harry, listen,” said Kit imploringly.

Kit glanced at the floor for a moment and looked up again.

“I don’t know if you can beat him or not,” she said softly, “but I know that no one has a better chance.”

Harry did not look at her. Kit sighed.

“You could do with a bit of arrogance,” she muttered, letting go of his arm, “or confidence at least.”

Harry looked at her over his shoulder.

“Don’t tell Snape that,” he said. “I think he’s the one with best idea of my talents.”

Kit crossed her arms.

“Since when did you listen to Professor Snape?” she asked incredulously.

“Since when did you not?” retorted Harry.

Kit opened her mouth and then closed it.

“I…” Kit bit her lip and then continued. “I respect Professor Snape more than anyone else in world but sometimes…well…”

Kit trailed off awkwardly. She was not accustomed to criticizing her mentor.

“You know him as well as I do,” she finished lamely.

Harry ran a hand through his hair. Kit still had not convinced him.

“Okay...I’ve beaten Voldemort,” said Harry. “Then what?”

Kit blinked.

“What do you mean?” she asked, genuinely confused.

“I have to kill him, don’t I?” whispered Harry. “How am I going to do that?”

Kit did not seem disturbed by this thought. She shrugged.

“You’ll do what you must,” said Kit indifferently.

Harry shook his head.

“Kit...there is a difference between defending yourself...defending your friends...and pointing your wand at a human being...and taking away his life.”

“The Dark Lord is no longer a human,” protested Kit. “He said so himself.”

Harry looked at Kit, silently willing her to understand. They held each others’ gaze for a moment. When she realised that Harry would not be convinced, Kit sighed and looked away.

“I can’t…I can’t kill him,” mumbled Harry, “but I can’t fail either. I can’t fail Ginny as well as.... as well as the others.”

Kit placed a hand on his shoulder.

“Albus Dumbledore thought you could do it,” she said gently. “That’s got to count for something.”

Harry grimaced.

“Maybe it does,” he said quietly.

“Maybe,” agreed Kit. “Good friends are hard to find. I think you were my first…so do try and be careful, Harry.”

Harry nodded, not quite ready for words yet.

“Come on,” said Kit. “The others want to see you.”

*


Harry sat in the Great Hall; Hermione and Ron at either side of him and the Order surrounding him. Hermione was sniffing and trying to hold back tears. Ron was tapping his fingers repeatedly on the table. McGonagall was pacing behind him and Snape’s gaze was boring a hole in the wall. Harry wished that they would stop. The feeling of dread in his stomach was bad enough without them adding to the atmosphere.

The doors of the Great Hall were pushed open. McGonagall’s hand flew to her wand but it strayed to her side when she recognised Percy and Tonks. Percy was panting as though he had run a marathon. Tonks was deathly pale and her hair was dark brown. Lupin got to his feet and reached her side.

“They’re attacking…in full force,” said Percy between breaths. “They’ve nearly reached muggle London.”

The feeling of dread got worse. So Harry was not the only one to be fighting. Now his friends would be in danger as well.

“The muggles?” asked Snape sharply.

As Lupin gently touched her shoulder, Tonks spoke up.

“The Ministry doesn’t know what to do,” she said hoarsely. “We had no idea is Voldemort’s army was so...”

“How many?” asked Moody.

“He has about a hundred more fighters than we do,” said Tonks miserably. “Not including the giants.”

McGonagall’s mouth twitched.

“Well then... we will have to stick to our plan,” she said firmly, not betraying a hint of fear or doubt. “We certainly won’t roll over and play dead for Lord Voldemort. Nymphadora, Kingsley…get as many Aurors and Magical Law Enforcement personnel as you can.”

“There won’t be many,” said Tonks. “Delores Umbridge ordered them to surrender to the Death Eaters.”

It took a moment for that sentence to sink in.

Delores Umbridge?” repeated Snape and McGonagall together with equal disgust.

Percy nodded gravely.

“Rufus Scrimgeour is dead,” said Percy. “Umbridge is the acting Minister for Magic.”

“No!” someone cried, aghast.

Harry turned to the source of the cry and found Kit. She was trembling and even paler than Tonks. Harry remembered Kit’s interview with Scrimgeour. Harry did not like some of Scrimgeour’s methods but he had released her from Azkaban. He was also the only one in the Ministry who knew Kit was a spy...

“How did he die?” breathed Kit.

“Poison,” said Percy. “We haven’t caught who did it.”

“Cowards,” spat Moody.

“Why isn’t Umbridge fighting... or something?” demanded Hermione. “There are millions of muggles. She can’t just write them off as an acceptable loss!”

Percy grimaced.

“We’re outnumbered, she says,” he said bitterly, without any of his customary pomposity. “We have to look out for the interests of the wizarding world. She doesn’t care that there are millions of people about to...”

Percy trailed off, muttering angrily under his breath.

“We need to leave immediately,” said McGonagall stiffly. “Potter…”

But when McGonagall turned to Harry and her shell of icy resolve melted.

“When you defeat Voldemort...wait here,” she said, barely able to keep her words steady. “We’ll come for you.”

Before Harry released what she was about to do, McGonagall rushed towards him and pulled him into a tight embrace. When she let go of him, Harry tried not to look shocked and failed dismally.

McGonagall cleared her throat and her icy shell was up once more.

“Good luck, Harry,” she said.

“Y-You too, Professor,” he managed.

Harry looked at the rest of the Order. All eyes were on him. Wish him well, giving him hope. Lupin, his father’s last friend, walked up to Harry. His hair was almost entirely grey now.

“You are really your father’s son Harry,” said Lupin, his voice constricted with emotion. “I-”

“James Potter was an arrogant idiot with little talent and no intelligence,” snarled Snape.

Lupin slowly turned to glare at Snape. Before the furious response could leave his mouth, Snape spoke again.

“It’s a good thing then..."

Snape faltered. His mouth twitched and he seemed to be internally wrestling with a very complicated problem.

"That... that Potter takes after his mother,” said Snape finally.

Lupin faltered, his surprise outweighing his anger. At this point, Snape looked rather disgusted at himself. Harry didn’t now what to say. He finally decided on a few words that didn’t really do the situation justice.

“Thank you, Professor,” muttered Harry.

Snape scowled and looked away. Kit spared him a glance before walking up to Harry. There was something long, wrapped in cloth and tied at her hip. She still looked shaken from the news that Scrimgeour was dead, but if Harry knew Kit she was putting on a brave face for him. He decided not to bring up the Minister

“What’s that?” asked Harry, pointing to the mysterious object.

Kit shrugged.

“I’ll tell you when you get back,” she said simply.

Ron and Hermione shuffled behind Kit. Kit faded into the background and let them speak to Harry. Ron swallowed.

“Listen Harry…when you save Ginny try…try and come back too,” he said lamely.

Harry nodded, his jaw clenched.

“You be careful too,” he said. “Both of you.”

Hermione wiped her eyes furiously with her sleeves.

“I know you can do it Harry. I’ve always know it,” she whispered. “Even in first year... I knew.”

Hermione threw her arms around Harry’s neck. Harry returned the embrace tightly. Hermione had always fought with him, yet she understood that he was the one who was supposed to go on.

“Let him breathe, Granger,” came Malfoy’s drawl from behind them. “We need him alive when he fights the Dark Lord.”

Hermione let out something that was half a sob, half a laugh and let Harry go. Malfoy met Harry’s eye and nodded. Harry nodded back.

The rest of the Weasleys could only look at him. Words could not describe the enormity of what Harry was about to do. Mrs. Weasley was the last to wish him well. She held onto him fiercely, as though frightened he would vanish into smoke.

“Molly...” whispered Mr. Weasley. “Molly, we need to go.”

She made a small noise in her throat and let go of him. Harry couldn’t look at her. If anything happened to Ginny... what would it do to her?

“Come home,” she croaked.

Harry could not respond. He still could not meet her eye. McGonagall patted Mrs. Weasley’s shoulder before addressing the entire Order.

“To Diagon Alley then,” said McGonagall. “On three.”

As McGonagall uttered ‘three’, the Order disapparated. Their eyes did not leave Harry has they vanished.

Harry was alone.

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