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Author's Note: Hello everyone! I hope everyone had a lovely break. I had originally intended to get this up before Christmas and New Years, but I forgot my laptop at my apartment instead of bringing it home with me. But anyway I am back and writing away. Here's the latest. Enjoy. As always, reviews are much loved!
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Chapter 20- A Safe House


“HAARRRRYYYY!!!!”

As her voice echoed throughout the house she was now in, Hermione fought against the captor that held her. The arms grasping Hermione around her waist dropped as she struggled against them. Whirling around, she was met with the paled and shocked expression of Arthur Weasley.

“How could you! HOW COULD YOU!!!” Hermione’s fists flew out and began beating at Arthur’s chest furiously.

Uselessly he tried to grab her arms to restrain her. “Hermione, calm down.”

“HOW COULD YOU!!!” She screamed at him her expression animalistic and wild, aided by the blood splattered across her, Harry’s blood. Shoving him away, she tried to apparate back. It didn’t work. Her feet stayed planted on the tile. In a panic she ran down the hallway to the front door, but it would not budge open. Her options were out. Spinning back around she reared on him again.

“TAKE ME BACK!!! TAKE ME THE FUCK BACK!!”

Arthur stood limply in front of her. “I can’t,” he muttered miserably.

“DON’T SAY THAT!” Hermione felt the blood rush from her head to her knees. The room was beginning to spin uncontrollably. She could feel her stomach tighten and spasm. “I have to… I have to get back… I have to… He might be… oh God he could be…” She could not bear to finish the words.

Hermione felt hot tears blind her vision. The room was going hazy before her.

“Hermione, please calm down,” tried Arthur again, taking a cautious step towards her as she swayed where she stood.

“TAKE ME BACK! I have to… I have to… get… back.”

And then everything went black for her.


**********


Molly paced the kitchen to Grimmauld Place anxiously, her face a picture of pure heart aching worry and dread. George sat at the table with his head in his hands while Bill leaned against the counter. Each one’s demeanor was just as thought riddled and anxious. It was Bill who broke the silence between the three.

“I’m sure they’re safe…” he tried to reassure them. Molly stopped her pacing to look up at her son hopelessly.

“Arthur and Hermione are missing and… and… Harry…” Mrs. Weasley could not finish the sentence she had attempted to start as her throat tightened and tears immediately started to well up. She couldn’t help it when they rushed out of her eyes.

Bill went to her. The eldest Weasley son embraced his mother as she bawled into his chest. As sobs continued to wrack her body, Bill did his best to soothe her rubbing her back trying to calm her down. Eventually she relaxed slightly although her entire body remained tense. Pulling away Bill looked his mother in the eye preparing to broach the subject that needed to be talked about. “Maybe we should floo Ginny.”

“Oh… Bill…” Molly erupted into a whole new fit of sobs as she thought about her daughter all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. She didn’t even want to think about how she was going to tell her daughter. “I don’t… I don’t think I… I c-can.”

“Mum she would want to know. She should get to say goodbye,” explained Bill quietly trying to get his mother to see the reality of the situation.

Immediately George flew out of his seat. “DO NOT TALK LIKE THAT! HARRY IS NOT GOING TO DIE!”

Bill released his mother to face his seething younger brother. “He very well might! And Ginny would want to be here.”

George took a menacing step towards Bill his fists balling in the process. “HE WILL MAKE IT! HARRY’S A FIGHTER!!”

Turning to his mother, Bill’s eyes silently begged for her to side with him. “Mum, please. She would want to be here.”

“Don’t listen to him! Harry WILL make it!” shouted George his anger and frustration barely containable. “We are not going to lose him! We can’t! There’s no reason to tell Ginny unless we think Harry’s going to die and HE’S NOT!”

“Just because you’re scared about losing another brother does not mean that we do NOT HAVE TO TELL GINNY!!” cried Bill, his own frustrations getting the best of his usually cool, composed demeanor.

George’s jaw dropped open in surprise at Bill’s outburst, slowly his mouth shut as Bill’s words reverberated off of the walls. The younger Weasley had registered the meaning behind those words and his face contorted into anguish.

Seeing the agony on George’s face, all of Bill’s anger went out the window. Carefully he took a step towards his little brother, but George drew back away from him. “George… I didn’t mean it… I’m sorry.” Bill tried once more to reach out to his hurt sibling, but the moment his hand touched George’s arm he reared back as if the touch had seared his skin. Knowing that he had offended him deeply, Bill turned away from George and faced his mother once more. He refused to give up on his point. “Mum… please. Ginny would want to know. What if he doesn’t make it?”

Mrs. Weasley looked up at the caring son before her, tears brimming in her eyes. She hadn’t the will to interrupt her two sons’ argument, but now George was silent and Bill stood before her still trying to get her to rationalize this. She didn’t want to though.

“Bill…” she begged. How could she answer that question? She did not want to have to floo her daughter. She did not want to admit that maybe all of them would have to say goodbye to Harry.

He was the boy who lived. Through every circumstance and against all odds he had survived many times over. And right now, Molly Weasley was praying that the raven haired boy who was like a son to her continued to live up to his nickname because as of right then she didn’t know if she had the strength to deal with the aftermath if he did not.


**********


Hermione’s eyes fluttered open.

Towering above her was Arthur, concerned and worn looking. It seemed like he had aged more in the span of five minutes than he had in his entire life. His eyes were a sea of worry and turmoil, a result of the situation the two had gone through. With a shaky hand, he combed through his thinning red hair.

“Hermione dear… are you alright?” He asked his voice laced with anxiety. He half expected her to erupt in hysterics again like she had before her collapsing and passing out.

Instead she remained quiet. Her head felt thick and heavy as did all of her limbs. She tried sitting up, but found the task too daunting. It took Arthur gently guiding her shoulders off the tile floor for her to finally be able to. As she sat up, she immediately remembered what had happened, the haze of waking up now gone.

“Arthur, where are we?” she asked softly as waves of realization crashed down upon her.

“It’s a safe house,” began Arthur finding his voice. “The Ministry arranged one for me. They’re quite rare. Only a handful of Ministries can afford them.”

Hermione took in her surroundings as she listened. Arthur nervously continued to explain, “The house binds you to it. It’s like a Fidelius charm, but instead the house is your secret keeper. It’s been charmed to pretty much have a mind of its own. Completely unplottable and untraceable. The house is-”

“Arthur, I know what a safe house is,” interrupted Hermione halting his ramblings. She raised a hand to her furrowed brow. Every atom inside of her wanted to scream and it took all of her might not to. “Please just tell me why you brought us here…”

“I had to get you out of there, my dear.” Hermione deflated. She knew what that meant. It wasn’t just anyone that needed to be removed from the situation, it was her. The cloaked figures had been after something, after someone specifically. Arthur had removed her for a reason because it was her, it had to be her. Most of all the thought that tore at her was that Harry could be dead because of her. She was the reason behind it all. Hermione tried to shove those thoughts aside, but still she couldn’t help the guilt as it slowly ate away at her heart like bile.

“How long will we be here?” Something crept up in her gut as she asked that question, the underlying meaning of it all. How long would she have to stay there until she could find out if Harry was dead?

“Well,” Arthur gulped, hearing the question behind the question too. “As I’m sure you know these houses can be set for any length of time… But I think Kingsley set this one for two weeks.”

Hermione nodded resolutely, trying to do her best to accept what Arthur had just told her. It was the only thing she could do. Her mind worked to process everything calmly and rationally, but as the moments passed she was unable to stop her chest from caving in. Wrapping his arms around her, Arthur pulled her to him as fresh tears spilled.

“Shhh… it will be ok,” whispered Arthur softly into her hair. “There were aurors there to take Harry. They got him to safety. They got him to a healer, I know it. He’ll be alive and we will see him when these two weeks are over.”

Her head shook roughly against his shoulder. “You don’t know that… we can’t be certain. Arthur… what if we get back and he’s been dead for two weeks without me being there? What if-”

Arthur’s words stopped her.

“My dear we cannot think like that. We mustn’t. Harry is alive,” affirmed Arthur with the surest conviction. “You must believe it.”

“It was me, wasn’t it? They were after me,” she pulled back to look at Arthur with tear stained eyes.

The older wizard felt his throat close. “I can’t answer that,” he said in a small voice.

Hermione felt the strain behind his voice and knew that it was a tension from knowing and being unable to tell rather than one of not knowing. She’d heard it many a time before. “You’ve sworn an oath,” she stated wisely, immediately reading into his tight lipped manner.

Arthur could not confirm nor deny her deduction. He could only pull her close and embrace her as she tried to cope with the events of that evening. And so he did. With whatever strength he had left in him, he somehow managed to soothe the girl before him until her sobs tormented her no more. Gently he pulled the two up and led her towards one of the washrooms.

Harry’s blood was still all over her face, neck, and shirt.

Arthur wordlessly led her to the sink. The house seemed to be aware of the trauma the young witch had been through, its magic keenly intertwined with its two inhabitants. And so the large mirror that rested above the sink showed no reflection. Hermione would never have to see her own body covered with what might possibly be the last pints of life giving blood that had flowed through her best friend.

She sat on the toilet seat as Arthur went over to the sink to wet a cloth.

With the care only an experienced father could have, Arthur wiped the blood from her face going back and forth between her and the sink to rinse out the cloth before returning to his task.

Arthur surveyed Hermione as he smoothly wiped away the evidence of the battle. Her eyes were swollen and puffy. Her face had small scrapes and bruises from curses that had just barely grazed her. Her own blood had dried and mixed with that of her friend’s. She shook involuntarily, her body convulsing with the after shock of the experience. Arthur was as gentle as a lamb as he tended to Hermione. He tried to work quickly, even though his own mind was too fogged and worried to keep track of the concept of time.

Finishing the best he could, he slowly pulled her back up to a standing position and led her to one of the house’s many bedrooms. The door opened without him having to touch it and the sheets of the bed curled back on their own. She moved as if in a depressed daze.

She lied down. Arthur pulled the covers over her and flicked the light off before taking a seat in the chaise in the corner. He would watch over her for the night just to make sure.

Soon she slept as her body and mind were far too exhausted to do anything else.

Arthur leaned back into the cushions and started bargaining with whatever higher power was out there as he watched her chest rise and fall with the slow soothing breaths of sleep.


**********


Kingsley entered Grimmauld’s kitchen to find three Weasleys already there waiting expectantly for him. His eyes traveled over all three and took note of their highly troubled statures. An older woman in her late seventies followed closely behind him, walking in with a calloused and aged stride.

Bill’s eyes peered over his mother’s form and caught Kingsley’s, the emotions in them matching his own. His gaze stopped Molly and she turned peering over her shoulder.

“Molly, this is Healer Jones. She’s a trusted mediwitch from St. Mungo’s. She’s worked exclusively with the auror department for the last 40 years.” As Kingsley took a seat next to George, Molly faced the aged and experienced witch that had been working nonstop on the boy upstairs as he fought for his life.

In another time, under different circumstances Molly would have happily asked the witch if she’d like some tea or something to eat. Then the ever doting mother and hostess she would have gone about fixing Healer Jones whatever she wished. But not this time. Instead, Molly remained quiet and still, her habits dying with her worry.

All four looked at Healer Jones anxiously. She quickly thrust into a calculated explanation.

“It appears Harry was hit simultaneously by two spells. The first spell would have been lethal… He would’ve bled to death before anything could have been done as it hit so close to his heart.”

“And the other spell?” asked Kingsley sitting on the edge of his seat as he too had yet to hear of Harry’s status.

“Well… I haven’t identified it. Whatever it was, it was the damnedest thing… Surely the cleverest thing I’ve ever seen,” replied the elder witch thoughtfully.

“What happened?” Bill’s eyebrows furrowed with wonder.

“Someone sent a healing spell that hit Harry just at the same time the other one did. The timing was impeccable… impossible, if you ask me, but then again I’m no duelist. Whatever spell it was, it prevented the curse from taking its full effect.”

“He’s alive?” whimpered Molly as a new set of tears formed out of relief.

The healer’s face darkened. “Yes… but just barely. He’s got to grow back skin, bone, tissue, muscle. The potions he’s taking are nearly as hazardous to the body as the curse is. It’ll be a long process… if he survives it. Luckily he’s in a coma. If he were conscious, he’d pass out from the pain.”

“Do you think he’ll live?”

She took a moment to consider George’s question before carefully choosing her words. “If he makes it through the night… then I think there’s a good chance of it. But mind you, I’m not making any promises.”

Despite her warning, George visibly relaxed. “He will… I know he will,” he whispered to himself.

Healer Jones’s concentration moved from George back to Molly and Kingsley. “I’ll stay with him, but he cannot afford anymore visitors. He’s got enough stress on his body as it is,” grunted Jones roughly.

Kingsley took that time to reenter the conversation. “It’s ok. Grimmauld will be going on lock down. I don’t want anyone else coming or going. Harry’s condition is too critical and we can’t have the word getting out. I don’t want another attack.”

With a nod of agreement, Healer Jones bid them all goodnight before returning back to Harry’s room. She would have to stay awake all night to monitor him. The potions she was forcing down his throat had to be administered on the hour, every hour.

As the kitchen door swung shut with her departure, Kingsley turned to address the Weasleys. “I’ll leave the floo open for the next ten minutes if you want to leave or if you want to contact anyone about your stay here. I ask all of you to please do not tell anyone of Harry’s condition. We must delay the papers hearing of this as much as we can. Harry can’t afford any mistakes right now. His life is already at stake.”

“Even Ginny?” asked Bill, returning back to his concern from the very first moment he had arrived.

Kingsley nodded solemnly. “Yes even Ginny. Her traveling back here would only set off an alarm for people… Harry’s enemies could follow her.”

Bill nodded his question answered. A part of him wished he could tell Ginny, but he knew Kingsley was right. In his current state, Harry could not be transported elsewhere. An attack would surely be the end of him. And so Ginny would just have to remain blissfully ignorant.

“I’m going to go use the floo… I have to contact a few people. The house will be on lockdown until Harry’s stable. Bill if you want to floo Fleur and tell her where you are. George, I’m sure Angelina would like to know also. Keep your conversations short. I’ll tell the Department to keep the floos open for only ten minutes after.” Seeing their nodding heads, Kingsley stood and started making his way out to the living room.

“Kingsley,” called Molly effectively stopping him. His hand lay rested against the door. “What of Arthur and Hermione?”

He cleared his throat. “From what my aurors tell me, Arthur grabbed Hermione and then disappeared… If my instinct serves me right, I’d say I know where they are and I can assure you they are both safe. After Harry’s stable, I’ll find them… For right now, we have to have faith that they are safe. We can only worry about Harry. The rest will come. Sadly, the only thing we can do is wait,” answered Kingsley honestly before pushing through the doorway leaving the three Weasleys there in the kitchen, somewhat more relieved than when he had first entered.

As the door shut behind him, Kingsley’s entire presence changed. With haste, he strode over to the living room hearth. He grabbed a quill and two pieces of parchment off the far desk. On one, he scribbled two words and on the other, he wrote a clear order. Taking a handful of floo powder, he threw his hand’s worth into the fire calling out to the Ministry. The flames roared to life turning a green hue. Kingsley cast one piece of parchment into the flames before calling out a new destination into the green blaze. Immediately the fire swirled towards the new address. Again, Kingsley cast the last piece of parchment into the fire. As the flames died, Kingsley fell back onto the sofa behind him. His hands ran over his tired face.

Barely just under his breath, he muttered, “Thank you Ron… for whatever the hell you did.”


**********


Ron’s eyes were bloodshot and his hair was stuck up in every which way. He sat before the hearth in his wooden desk chair, his hands wringing together as he glossily stared into the fire.

Dante would be angry with him.

The youngest Weasley son could only imagine the hell that was about to be unleashed on him when he returned back to the manor. He should’ve gone back already, but he couldn’t. He just couldn’t. He had to hear of Harry.

It had been a stroke of luck, really, that he’d heard above the smoke and the shouts. He’d heard the spell cast, he had seen the wizard’s aim at his best friend, and so he had done what he hoped would work. Without thinking, he raised his wand too and cast the first healing spell he’d ever learned, a charm Hermione had taught him during the war.

He hadn’t any time to see the outcome of the two fired spells. There were aurors everywhere and not a one knew that he was Ron Weasley. His face was instead that of Vito Mancini, a known Italian pure blood purist and an ardent criticizer of Hermione Granger. So he had fled. He took as many detours as his fogged mind could think of before somehow arriving back to his tiny room in the heart of Italy. He was safe… for the time being. The aurors were sure to be after him. Dante would also be looking for him now that he hadn’t returned.

But he was numb to those thoughts right now.

All he could think of was Harry. He kept whispering to himself, repeating the same phrase over and over and over again. “He’s alright… he’s alright… he’s alright.” But he had no way of knowing for sure. The spell would have killed Harry. Ron knew that if it reached Harry before his own had then Harry would surely be long dead. He prayed that by whatever stroke of genius he had with casting that spell that maybe it had worked. Maybe for once he had come through on some wildly unexpected stroke of luck.

His hands ran through his hair unsteadily, but paused when the fire in the hearth soared with green flames. Ron felt his stomach clench. The verdict was in.

A single scrap of parchment floated out of the flames as they whipped and curled around it. The edges of the piece were slightly singed. Ron burst forward grasping at the parchment. He turned it over in his hands and hurriedly read the two words written in Kingsley’s rushed script. He dropped to his knees as air shot out of his chest in relief.

He’s alive.

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