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“Cronus Rising”

 

“Chapter Five: Atonement”

 

 

 

 

  

The diner was small. Tucked in the corner booth, hidden underneath the shadows, was the most mix-matched threesome that Harry had ever seen. Draco Malfoy was shoved next to the wall with narrowed eyes and skin looking unnaturally pale. Next to him was a man twice his size with an unruly mane of pepper hair. Across from them, with his hands folded neatly on the table, was the Minister of Magic himself.

 

Harry slid onto the bench next to Kingsley. A mug of coffee sat steaming in front of him, but he had no desire to drink it. He wanted the meeting over and done with as soon as possible. Ginny and Teddy were waiting for him back at the flat and, more than anything, he wanted to be with them.

 

“We can speak freely,” Odin Vidar said gruffly. “No one can hear us.”

 

Nodding, Harry turned towards Malfoy. His former childhood enemy refused to acknowledge the people around him. Lines creased his forehead and lips turned downwards. Harry had a feeling that they had already begun discussing the plan.

 

“Mr. Malfoy has agreed to help us,” Kingsley spoke calmly.

 

“Potter, you and Malfoy will be working very close together. Your lives depend on each other,” Vidar commented.

 

Harry glanced at his boss. Trust between two school-aged rivals was not a simple thing to come by. Betrayal could come too easily.

 

“We’re staging an attack. After drastically changing your appearance, you will be given a potion, Potter, that will slow your heart rate and make you appear dead,” Vidar explained. “Meanwhile, Malfoy will cast the Dark Mark above the house in hopes of luring Cronus to him. If they shall come, Malfoy will pledge his allegiance to Cronus as a bitter ex-Death Eater who has been ostracized from society and seeking revenge.”

 

Harry could hear the blood pumping in his ears. The plan was brilliant; there was no doubt about it. He did not, however, like the idea of being near death and at the mercy of Draco Malfoy. The mission was based upon trust. There was none between the two.

 

“We need to make it as believable as possible,” Kingsley interjected as he noticed Harry’s uncertainty. “We can’t have anyone else knowing Draco’s involvement. The house will, of course, be monitored by Odin in case things don’t go as planned.”

 

“I need more,” Harry spoke up.

 

“What do you want?” Kingsley asked patiently.

 

“I need an Unbreakable Vow.”

 

Malfoy’s head snapped to his direction. A sneer twitched on his thin face, grey eyes piercing. It was the only way that would ensure treachery was not an option. Malfoy was a lot of things but a martyr was not one of them.

 

“Draco?” Kingsley questioned.

 

His jaw tightened. He glanced at Kingsley before jerking his head reluctantly.

 

Muggle bills were tossed onto the tabletop. The four wizards exited the diner silently. A black, Ministry-issued sedan was waiting in the alleyway for them. One by one, they filed into the roomy backseat.

 

There were two leather benches that faced each other. Vidar and Malfoy shared the back seat while Harry and Kingsley took a spot across from them, their backs flush against the thin wall that separated them from the driver. The car revved and weaved through the London traffic.

Harry and Malfoy took each other’s hands. Kingsley’s wand pointed at their arms. Harry could see the sweat running down Malfoy’s forehead, his hand clammy.

 

“Do you, Draco Malfoy, promise to work exclusively with the Auror Department as a spy in hopes of bringing down a wizard they call Cronus?” the Minister’s voice rang quietly in the vehicle.

 

“I do,” Malfoy whispered.

 

A red flame slithered out of the tip of Kingsley’s wand. It coiled around Harry and Malfoy’s joined hand.

 

“Do you promise to work with Harry Potter as an equal, a partner, and protect his life as though he were a brother?”

 

“Yes.”

 

Another red flame winded around their joined hands.

 

“Do you, Harry Potter, promise to work with Draco Malfoy as an equal, a partner, and protect his life as though he were your brother?”

 

“I will,” Harry spoke softly.

 

Harry’s whole hand tingled as the third flame glided around his skin. The wand pulled away. The coils faded and seeped into their hands.

Leaning back into the leather seat, Harry glanced out the window at the passing scenery. Vidar and Kingsley discussed their plan but Harry did not listen. The briefing lay idly next to him. He would catch up on it later.

 

The lingering pulsation from the Unbreakable Vow resonated through his body. It was powerful magic that was not to be taken lightly.

Mistakes were inevitable. Everyone made them. The Malfoy family had made enough mistakes to last them a lifetime. The family name was as tainted as the Black name. The surnames were synonymous with dark magic and bloodshed.

 

Draco Malfoy was attempting to redeem his forefathers’ name. He was on the dark and winding path of atonement. For once, there was a different hero caught in the folds of darkness. It was a title that Harry was more than willing to part with.

 

Upon arriving to his flat, Ginny and Teddy were absent. The living room was covered in an array of boxes. Knick knacks and personal effects were strewn about the hardwood floor.

 

Harry called out for Ginny in hopes that they were taking a nap or cooking dinner. Instead of his redheaded girlfriend, a tall and beautiful blonde glided out of the kitchen with a tiny girl perched upon her hip. Dread instantly washed through every inch of his body.

 

“There was an attack,” Fleur said softly.

 

There was a buzzing in his ears. Her mouth was moving but Harry could not understand one word that she was saying. There was no way that Cronus or any of his followers could get through the wards around his apartment. They had been specially designed, intertwined with ancient blood magic.

 

“Where are they?” he croaked.

 

“St. Mungo’s.”

 

Harry stormed out of the flat. Running down the stairs, his heart felt heavy and his shoulders were tense. They had to be alright.

 

Upon arriving at St. Mungo’s, Harry raced to the reception station and demanded to know where Ginny Weasley and Teddy Lupin were. The witch gapped openly at Harry. She was a young woman, perhaps in her mid-twenties. Her eyes were wide. She was going through paperwork clumsily. Harry attempted to keep the groan from escaping his throat.

 

“Harry!” a familiar voice called.

 

Turning, he saw Hermione Granger waving at him. Leaving the reception station, he raced towards his best friend. She gripped his wrist and tugged him along the corridors.

 

“Oh, Harry, it was dreadful. There was blood everywhere,” Hermione said as they entered the lift. “They don’t know what kind of spell hit Ginny, but she’s alright now. She somehow managed to Apparate out with Teddy and sent a Patronus to Ron and I. When we got there, Ron grabbed Teddy who was crying bloody murder while I tended to Ginny who was barely breathing.”

 

“So, they’re both alright?”

 

“They’re fine. Teddy didn’t even have a scratch on him and the Healers were able to fix Ginny up.”

 

The tightening in his chest loosened ever so slightly. It would not be completely gone, however, until he rested eyes on his godson and girlfriend.

Pushing the door to the hospital room open slowly, he first noticed Ginny’s pale form lying in bed. In her arms was a tiny boy with a messy mop of chestnut hair. His cheek lay on her shoulder and his arm draped protectively around her middle. Her lips were moving, speaking soft words to the child.

 

Her chocolate eyes gazed at Harry in the doorway and a soft smile spread across her lips. She whispered something to his godson who turned towards the door. Upon seeing his godfather, Teddy extracted himself from Ginny’s limbs and scooted down the bed.

 

In five strides, Harry was at the bed. He scooped his godson up in his arms and cradled the boy. He placed a kiss on top of his head, his eyes never leaving Ginny.

 

Teddy’s small frame shook in his arms. His fists clenched his shirt tightly. Tears soaked through the fabric of his collar within seconds. Muffled sobs rang throughout the quiet room. His face was hot against Harry’s neck.

 

“It’s okay, Teddy,” he whispered. “It’s okay.”

 

His eyes wandered from Ginny’s face to the white bandage on her arm. A frown worked its way onto his features. Setting down on the bed, he adjusted his godson in his arms.

 

“You okay?” questioned Harry as he rubbed circles on Teddy’s back.

 

“I’m fine.”

 

“What happened?”

 

Ginny told him how they went to the market and were attacked by a couple of wizards that she did not recognize. A spell hit her in the duel. Then, they tried to hurt Teddy. She dove in front of him and put up the most powerful shield charm that she was capable of.

 

“It was probably Cronus.” Harry sighed. “What the hell were you thinking leaving the flat like that?”

 

What? I’m not allowed to go shopping anymore? The detail you had on me all week was magically gone.”

 

“I called them off for the weekend. I figured we’d be at the flat all day unpacking and Sunday I would be with you.”

 

Ginny reached out a hand and gripped his knee. A silent communication rang between them: Let’s not fight right now.

 

“The Healer said I could go home as long as I had someone competent with me,” she said. “I think you’re quite competent enough.”

 

Harry spent nearly a half hour signing forms and waivers to get Ginny out of St. Mungo’s. Teddy had latched himself onto his godfather’s hip and refused to be let go. This made the discharge process twice as long.

 

Ginny was wheeled out of the hospital to a Ministry-issued sedan. Harry helped her inside before climbing in himself with his godson in tow. When the car sped through the streets of downtown London, Teddy slid out of his godfather’s lap and happily sat between the two adults.

 

Once inside the flat, Ginny collapsed down on the couch and stretched her thin body across the cushions. Teddy scampered towards her when he was put on his feet. She took him willingly in her arms. A kiss was placed on his temple.

 

Harry ordered a pizza from a Muggle restaurant since he failed at culinary genius and it was unfair to make Ginny cook when she was just released from the hospital.

 

When dinner was finished, the three took their usually spots on the couch with Teddy squished in the middle. The Quidditch final match between Puddlemere United and Montrose Magpies was airing on the set. It wasn’t long before Teddy was fast asleep.

 

Carefully getting up from the couch, as not to disturb his godson, Harry made his way to a trunk in the corner of the room. He pulled out a stone basin that once belonged to Albus Dumbledore and sat it down on the coffee table.

 

“I want to see the memory.”

 

He wasn’t asking, and Ginny scowled.

 

Grabbing her wand off the end table, she pointed the tip to her temple and closed her eyes. A silver mist trailed from her forehead and floated down into the basin. Harry told her to watch Teddy and he was gone.

 

The market was about ten minutes away from the flat and was always the one he and Ginny would go to when they shopped for supplies. It was quiet, only a handful of customers perusing the aisles.

 

It didn’t take him long to spot Ginny and Teddy. They were holding hands. Ginny was looking at the celery and carrots with deep concentration written on her face. Her basket of other goods sat forgotten next to her feet.

 

Teddy was in his own little world. His eyes darted around the room as though knew something was amiss. His eyes locked onto two men. Harry followed the gaze to see the attackers. He had never seen them before in his life.

 

Turning back to his godson, Harry watched him carefully. Teddy pulled out the Enemy Eyeglass that Luna had given him at Andromeda’s wake. Situating it on his right eye, his whole face quickly paled.

 

“Ginny?” he whispered in a panic tone but she did not pick up on it.

 

“What do you think of a chicken dish? I think it would be fitting since your godfather can’t cook chicken right to save his life,” she said in a teasing tone.

 

“Ginny!”

 

She picked up on the tone that time. She crouched down next to him with worry set into her features. Brushing a lock of chestnut hair out of his eyes, she asked him what was wrong.”

 

“Those two men… they want to hurt us.”

 

Ginny followed his gaze and immediately snaked a hand to reach for her wand from her jacket. She pushed Teddy roughly back and told him to hide. The boy backed up until he hit the vegetable display.

 

Harry watched as run of the mill jinxes and curses flew in the market. The Muggles were screaming and taking cover. Teddy just sat there in plain view with tears brimming his eyes and skin ghastly pallid.

 

Turning his attention back to the duel, Harry tried to identify the curses and jinxes hurled at Ginny based upon their color and spark intensity. A roaring monster of fiery filled his chest when a nonverbal Cruciatus Curse was flung at Ginny. She dodged it by mere inches.

 

An odd yellow curse flew at Ginny and hit her square in the arm. She cried out in pain but kept fighting out of pure adrenaline. A round, red bruise formed first that quickly blistered and bled. Droplets of blood bubbled as sweat quickly formed at her hairline.

 

A red spark flew towards Teddy. Harry’s heart seemed to skip a beat as she dove in front of his godson. She slammed her wand into the tiled floor as a pale blue shield formed around them. The ground around the tip of the wand cracked. Ginny reached behind her and gripped Teddy. They Disapparated.

 

Harry was thrown out of the memory and stood in his living room. He turned to Ginny with a frown. He was going to murder the wizards that attacked Ginny and Teddy. When he was done with them, he was going to get Cronus as well.

 

Ginny took Teddy to bed with her as she feared he would get scared if he woke up alone. Not particularly tired, Harry kissed her swiftly on the cheek before she disappeared with his godson in her arms.

 

Lounging on the sofa with a bottle of Butterbeer dangling from his fingertips, he watched the end of the Quidditch game. Puddlemere United won by a landslide. After that, he caught up on paperwork. It wasn’t until two in the morning that he slid into bed next to Ginny.

 

Sunday was filled with unpacking. Teddy happily helped Ginny with whatever she needed while Harry lounged on the couch and offered moral support. His mind was elsewhere, his thoughts swirling at lightning speed. Cronus, Malfoy and top-secret mission filled his mind. Tomorrow night, he would drink a potion that would put him near death and Malfoy would cast the Dark Mark to lure Cronus.

 

There were a million things that could go wrong in the plan. With Harry’s luck, they would go wrong. Murphy’s Law and Harry Potter went together like two peas in a pod. If anything happened to him, he had to ensure that Teddy would be in the right hands. Silently, he drafted his last will and testament in his head with Ginny gaining custody of his godson and Teddy being awarded everything that he owned.

 

That night, he sat at the kitchen table and wrote out his will. He knew that Cronus was not Voldemort. He knewthat another war was highly unlikely. There was a part of him that didn’t want to take any chances.

 

Ginny wandered into the kitchen in a tank top and short shorts. His eyes trailed her body, a grin forming on his lips.

 

“Are you here to seduce me?” Harry teased and leaned back in his chair.

 

“It has been awhile.”

 

She licked her bottom lip slowly. Harry fought the urge to clear the kitchen table with a sweep of his arms and take her right there. They would surely wake up Teddy. Harry didn’t really want to give a five year old the birds and bees talk.

 

“You are a tease, you know that?”

 

Ginny strolled over to him and swung a leg over his legs. She slid down until she was sitting on his lap so that they were face to face. Her breath tickled his lips as her hips grinded nicely into him. It distracted his mind wonderfully. He bit his lip as his hands roamed up her sides, dragging the thin fabric with them.

 

“Mr. Potter, what are you doing up so late?”

 

His hands slid under her tank top and run over her flat abs. They glided upwards, the tips of his fingers grazing the soft skin beneath her breast.

 

“Work stuff,” he replied nonchalantly.

 

“You are such a workaholic.”

 

She leaned her body into her until their chests were pressed against each other. Her mouth captured his in a soft kiss. She nipped on his bottom lip playfully. The kiss deepened and all worries seeped instantly from his mind. Her fingers twined in his messy locks and her hips rocked over his crotch. Sliding his hands to the small of her back, he pulled her as close to him as possible.

 

She pulled back and Harry’s lips followed after her. A laugh escaped her rosy lips as she dragged her nose against his.

 

“You are making me rapidly forget about work,” he breathed.

 

Ginny smiled impishly as she pushed her body away from his. He groaned and his hands groped for her to come back.

“Your godson is lying in our bed sleeping,” she said with a smirk.

 

Harry had forgotten Teddy. Rolling his head back, he tried to think of anything else besides the tingling sensations pumping through his body. Ginny eased her weight off his lap and he was relieved. If she had been rocking on him much longer, he wouldn’t have made it.

 

“What are you working on?” she questioned as her eyes glanced towards the paperwork.

 

“Nothing,” he said quickly and tried to gather it from her view.

 

“It that a will?”

 

Shit. Harry faltered and looked up at her through his bangs.

 

“Why are you writing a will?” she demanded.

 

“It’s just a… insurance policy,” he replied. “With this Cronus bloke out there, I just want to ensure that Teddy goes to go you in case-”

 

“Shut up!” she hissed. “You don’t need a bloody will. Just rip it up.”

 

“Ginny…”

 

“Cronus isn’t Voldemort. Get that through your skull. Rip it up!”

 

Harry cocked his head. She was being unreasonable… per usual.

 

“I don’t want to fight with you,” he whispered.

 

Ginny crossed her and pursed her lips in a very Mrs. Weasley manner. He hated when she looked like her mother. He felt like he was being scolded.

 

“I just… I have a mission tomorrow night and it’s dangerous.”

 

“What kind of mission?”

 

Her expression softened instantly, her arms falling to her sides as she sank into the seat next to him. He so desperately wanted to tell her the plan and how his life depended on Draco Malfoy of all people. She would not understand though. All of the Weasleys didn’t have a modicum of trust when it came to a Malfoy.

 

“We’re going to try to lure Cronus to us so we can figure out his identity.”

 

We? Is Ron going?”

 

“No,” Harry replied. “Ron doesn’t even know about the mission.”

 

“Who knows about it?”

 

“Kingsley… Vidar…” Malfoy Harry added silently.

 

Her eyes flash and her lips form into a thin line. He swallows a lump that formed in his throat.

 

“What do you have to do?”

 

“It’s top secret, Gins,” he answered. “I can’t tell you.”

 

Rising from her chair without a word, she slinked out of the kitchen. Harry sat alone in the kitchen with a half-written will laid out in front of him. Grabbing a quill, he finished writing the document.

 

 

Harry stood in a house destroying furniture and planting blood that Vidar had obtained at a Muggle morgue on the hardwood floors. Draco Malfoy stood not far away wringing sweaty palms.

 

Teddy had been less than thrilled when he left for work and said he would not be back until late so Ginny would put him to bed. He fought Harry tooth and nail to stay home. The boy was terrified that his godfather was going to die some horrific death. Harry couldn’t blame him.

Glancing at a large mirror above the fireplace, Harry frowned. He grew several inches in height. His hair was a soft honey, his skin had a tint of olive to it and his eyes were a shocking blue. His nose was hooked and lips small. The scar upon his forehead was no longer visible.

 

“Are you ready?” Harry demanded harsher than he intended.

 

Malfoy jerked his head and pulled out his wand. Taking several deep breathes, his demeanor changed. Cracking his neck from side to side, he shook out his nerves.

 

Harry uncorked the vial of black tar. Draining the contents, it tasted just like it looked. He coughed and shoved the vial into his pocket. His breathing slowed and he fought to get oxygen into his body. His heart seemed to be barely beating. Falling to the floor, Malfoy rushed over to catch him and helped him into a lying position. With a flick of a wand, Harry felt the last of the Muggle blood splattered across his face and around his body.

 

Trying to move, he found that he couldn’t. His eyes would not even blink. The last thing Harry saw was the Dark Mark shooting out of Malfoy’s wand before his eyelids were pushed closed.

 

It was difficult to tell how much time passed. His world was clouded in darkness and Malfoy was making little sound.

 

“Someone’s coming,” Malfoy hissed somewhere to Harry’s right.

 

The front door was blasted off its hinges. Footfalls sounded on the hardwood. They were heavy and sounded like they were clad in boots.

 

“Who are you?” a deep, male voice demanded.

 

“My name is Draco Malfoy and I wish to speak to a man they call Cronus,” he spoke coolly.

 

All hints that Malfoy was a nervous wreck while they were staging the scene were completely gone.

 

“What’s your business with him?” a new, male voice rang. It was higher pitched than the former.

 

“What he wants,” Malfoy replied. “He’s going after Harry Bloody Potter, his Blood-Traitor girlfriend, and his Half-Bred godson. Not to mention he detests Muggle filth like this one.”

 

A swift kick was delivered to Harry’s side. He silently cursed Malfoy.

 

“So, what?” a new man spoke. “Yeh killed yerself a Muggle and yeh want an award?”

 

“I want to bring down Potter and his new world order of Muggle lovers.”

 

“The Dark Mark looms above the house yet no Ministry officials have arrived,” the deep-voiced man spoke. “Suspicious, isn’t it?”

 

“Yeah! ‘Picious it is!”

 

“We are in a Muggle neighborhood,” Malfoy said dully and sounding eerily like Snape. “I cast a charm on the Dark Mark so no filthy Muggles can see it. The Ministry will not notice the mark until morning most likely. I wanted to give us a chance to talk.”

 

One of the men grunted.

 

“You could be a Ministry drone trying to lure us out. We’re not stupid,” the first man commented.

 

“We ain’t no stupid blokes! Yeh gotta do better than that to see Cronus.”

 

It was silent for a few seconds before one of the men gasped. Harry only assumed that Malfoy had drawn his sleeve and made the mark shine on his pallid forearm.

 

“The Malfoys were one of the most prominent Pureblooded families in all of Britain. Then Harry Potter,” he spat, “destroyed the Dark Lord. My family had to pay its way out of Azkaban. I want revenge. I want Potter’s head on a platter.”

 

“We make no promises, Malfoy,” the deep-voiced man spoke. “We will converse with Cronus. If we find out this is a trick, we’ll hang you by your toes and fillet the skin from your bones.”

 

Harry heard them leave. Malfoy did not move upon their exit. He didn’t know how long it was before a hand touched his arm and his whole world was sucked into a vacuum.

 

Once they were out of the Muggle house, a potion was poured into Harry’s mouth. Slowly, the feeling in his limbs returned. His breathing picked up and his heart was pumping normally. His eyes fluttered opened to see Kingsley looming above him.

 

Before long, Harry found himself standing with Vidar and Kingsley in Malfoy’s memory. The three wizards who had been affiliated with Cronus were not familiar to Harry. Vidar, however, recognized the squeaky voiced one. Apparently, he was a smalltime criminal who had been picked up by the Ministry on several occasions. They were misdemeanors that resulted with a slap on the wrist and a hefty fine.

Nevertheless, they had their first lead in the case. Harry could not contain his joy.




Hope you enjoyed the new chapter. It was difficult to write but I think it turned out well. Thanks for all the reviews! They were wonderful and encouraging. I responded to them all.

 

 

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