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A/N- I am soooooo sorry for the lateness of this chapter. I recently started a new job and my life has been so crazy. I do hope this chapter makes up for it to anyone still following this story! Leave a review and tell me what you think! the quote ‘You see that house upon the hillside, Potter? My father lived there.” belongs to JKR not me and is from Chapter 33 of Goblet of Fire

 

Three hours earlier…

Harry tapped his foot impatiently as he stood in Gawain’s office, wondering what Ron was doing that was holding them all up. He glanced around the room at his boss and the five colleagues that would be going with him to the old Riddle house. Eight of them against an unknown number didn’t seem like many, but Harry had seen each of the team in action and knew how highly skilled they were. In the pit of his stomach he felt the mix of anticipation and excitement that always came with a big raid. Being an Auror involved a lot of petty criminals and even more paper work, but every so often they would get a chance to be a part of a big raid like this one and it was like Christmas to the team. This was evident in the fact that there was no air of fear in the room. Instead the group were chatting animatedly, some were drumming fingertips impatiently on the desk as they spoke, and the only female of the group, Julia Gilbert, was polishing her wand.

The door clicked open and Harry grinned at his best friend as he entered the room, the smile was not returned but there was no time for Harry to ask what was wrong before Gawain started to speak.

“Okay folks, you all know why you’re here so let’s just get on with the plan of attack.” He waved his wand and a large piece of parchment appeared in the middle of their circle. “This is the layout of the house we believe Astoria is being held captive in. It’s owned by a Muggle family but has been unused for years. The ministry check up on it every year or so because of its history. For those of you who don’t know, the house used to belong to Voldemort’s family. It’s where he murdered them all.”

There was a shiver throughout the older members of the team at the use of his name. It irked Harry but he said nothing: he knew these people had grown up in fear of that name. Gawain ignored them and continued.

“He used the house again around the time he came back but didn’t return to it after that. Stan Shunpike has more or less told us this is where Astoria is being held so we can also assume the Knights of Walpurgis are using this as their base. Presumably Astoria will be in the basement of the house, here.” He pointed his wand at a section of the parchment. “There is only one way in and out of it so it will be heavily guarded. The doorway to it is in the Drawing Room so Potter, you and I will take that.”

He proceeded to divide the team up into pairs and assigned them to different areas of the house to search once he had performed the necessary anti-apparation spells. They were instructed to stun and bind anyone they found in there, Julia and her partner, Andrew, were given the job of taking Astoria to St. Mungo’s once all rooms had been searched.

Not being one for motivational speeches, Gawain nodded his head at the team as an indication that he was finished and that they should leave. He led the way out of the room to the usual apparition point, where he handed out a slip of parchment with the address of the old Riddle house on it.

“Let’s go,” he finally said when the parchment was handed back.

Harry squeezed his eyes shut and thought of his destination, trying to ignore the sensation of being pushed through a rather tight tube. When his feet welcomed the solid ground beneath them, he opened his eyes to find himself at the bottom of a hill.

“You lot wait here, I’ll go and cast the anti-apparation charms.” Harry heard Gawain’s voice and a stirring in the air next to him told him that his boss was under a disillusionment charm.

Harry looked up the hill to the house they would soon be entering. It was decrepit: there was no other word for it. The setting sun cast enough light on it for Harry to see most of the graphite tiles had fallen off the roof, all of the windows were boarded up, and a thick coat of moss covered the brickwork. The grounds around the building were in a state of disarray; there were bushes and weeds reaching up to and beyond the windows on the ground floor.

“Harry? Is that…” Ron’s voice made Harry turn away and follow his line of site.

Ron was looking in the distance left of the house at what Harry immediately recognised as a graveyard. He knew that it was the same one that Cedric had died in; that Voldemort had come back to life in. He could hear the cold, high voice pointing out the house to him.

‘You see that house upon the hillside, Potter? My father lived there.”

He nodded at Ron’s unfinished question and turned away, not wanting to dwell on the night any longer. It had been over seven years but Harry still remembered every detail of what had happened in the graveyard.

A sudden whisper next to him and the appearance of Gawain made Harry jump.

“Let’s hope you’re not that nervous inside, Potter. Everyone ready?” he asked, looking at his team one by one, who nodded in return.

Gawain turned quickly on his heel and started heading up the hill at a quick pace, his robes billowing out behind him. The group followed behind, keeping up pace and they reached the door in moments. Harry pointed his wand at the door and tried to unlock it but the door appeared to be concealed with stronger magic than alohamora would break through. There was only one other option that would get them in the house.

“Stand back!” he ordered, and pointed his wand once more.  “Confringo!”

The old wooden door blasted into thousands of splinters which Harry shielded from his face with his cloaked arm. There was a rush of movement either side of him as the group made their way into the building, heading in different directions. Ron was stood on the left hand side of the door they had just entered, preparing to stop anyone that tried to get out. Harry bumped Ron’s arm with his fist as he ran forward after Gawain who was already at the door to what he knew was the Drawing Room.

Gawain kicked the door open, knocking down a man who had obviously been standing on the other side of it. Harry stunned him before he could get back to his feet and sent a stream of ropes from his wand that bound the man on the floor. There were three others in the room with him who immediately began sending green and red jets of lights at the Aurors. Gawain darted forward and made quick work matching two of the men spell for spell while Harry placed himself behind an armchair and began trying to stun the third man he immediately recognised as Markus Parkinson.

There was no doubt that Markus was far more skilled at dueling than the other two, for Gawain already had one bound on the floor and seemed close to finishing the other off. Harry was firing two spells for every one Markus managed but the man’s shield charms were undoubtedly powerful. Harry ducked behind the threadbare chair just as a green light was cast so close to him that he felt it move the hairs on his head. He changed his tactic and aimed his wand around the side of the chair rather than over the top and hit Markus’ ankles with a trip jinx. Markus fell to the floor with a loud thud, and a clattering noise told Harry that he had also dropped his wand. Taking his chance, Harry stood up and sent a bundle of ropes over to bind Markus in the same way he had done with the other man.

Gawain now had both of his opponents bound. One of them, along with Markus, was shouting a stream of insults and demands to be let go. The other was repeatedly yelling ‘I know not! I know not! ’ with a thick accent that Harry though sounded Russia. Gawain flicked his wand at them all, immediately silencing them. The fourth man by the door was still knocked out under Harry’s stunning spell.

They searched the room thoroughly before making their way to the door in the corner that led to the basement of the old house. Gawain held his wand out and slowly opened the door. He tried the switch at the top of the stairs hoping for a light but it merely clicked unhelpfully. They both lit their wands and began the descent down the stairs. A quick scan of the room when they got to the bottom showed no signs of anyone being down there, or it being somewhere a hostage would be kept. There were several cardboard boxes in various sizes, a few old and broken pieces of furniture, and not a lot else. Gawain motioned to Harry to check the right hand side of the room while he took the left. They met at the back having found nothing more than spiders living down there. Frowning, Gawain led the pair back up the stairs and once in the room began levitating their captives one by one into the entrance hall where Ron and his partner were still guarding the door. Ron jerked his head to a body to his left and grinned.

“Lucius Malfoy,” he said, not bothering to hide the pride in his voice. “Caught him as he was legging it down the stairs. Coward”

Harry couldn’t help but grin back. He turned to ask Gawain for his next instructions but was momentarily distracted by his own reflection in the hallway’s dusty mirror. There was a cut on the top of his right ear and several scratches on his forehead, presumably the work of the door when he blasted it over. His robes had torn slightly around his neck causing them to hang loose over one of his shoulders, and his face was dusty and sweaty. He was thankful that there were no sounds of dueling coming from up the stairs as it was a good indication they would be leaving soon and he could get cleaned up.

Sure enough, the rest of the team made their way down the stairs in the next few minutes, six more bound wizards, including Corbin, the Azkaban guard, and three witches hovering in front of them.

“That’s fourteen,” Gawain said, as they were laid down alongside the others. “Any sign of Astoria? She wasn’t in the basement.”

There was a murmur of disagreement in the group that only made the Head Auror frown more. “That’s not what I wanted to hear. Go and have final checks of your areas. Once you’re done, take a hostage each through the fireplace in the Drawing Room, I’ve linked it up to the floo network and there’s powder there. Go straight to the Department of Magical Law, they’ll keep the hostages in their holding cells until we’ve interviewed any we need to and then ship them off to Azkaban.”

It was a long process and by the time Harry got back to his office he wanted nothing more than to go home, have a bath and curl up in bed with Ginny. Astoria’s disappearance had caused so many late nights and long shifts for him that he felt as though he barely saw her. Unfortunately, he knew that tonight would be another late one, for now he had suspects to interview and there was still no sign of Astoria.

He was joined in the office by a dejected-looking Ron, obviously his feelings of having captured Lucius had worn off with the realisation of there still being a lot of work that needed doing.

“Gawain wants you to interview Parkinson. He’s had a brief chat with Lucius who confirmed everything we already knew about the body switching spell. Apparently he’s denying all knowledge of Astoria’s whereabouts but Gawain reckons he’s lying just to be awkward. He knows he’s already looking at spending the rest of his days in Azkaban so why should he help us?”

“Prat,” Harry grumbled. “Markus hasn’t had any previous convictions, I’m sure we can convince him to tell us where she is.”

Not bothering to tidy himself up after the raid, Harry headed to the interview room in the Magical Law department where Markus Parkinson sat waiting for him. His hair and thick black mustache were far less neat than the last time Harry had seen him as a result of their earlier duel. His face, unlike Harry’s, was neither dirty nor scratched, and wore an expression of utter boredom.

“Markus,” Harry greeted him with a nod as he sat down.

“Mister Potter. I feel as though I should be asking for an autographed picture. Please excuse my state of appearance, usually I have time to clean up when I meet celebrities but I’m afraid our meeting was a rather unexpected one.”

“Look, I’m going to cut to the chase,” Harry said bluntly, ignoring Markus’ comments. “You know the information I need from you, and you’re going to give me it. I’ll stand up at your trial and tell everyone that you were extremely helpful with our investigations and you’ll get a reduced stay in Azkaban.”

Markus studied Harry for a few moments, and Harry didn’t break eye contact, or show any emotion at all. Finally, Markus sighed, his shoulders dropping heavily as he slumped back in his chair in defeat.

“What do you want to know?” he asked.

“Everything. Let’s start with you and Narcissa Malfoy.”

“Oh, Narcissa,” he smiled fondly. “She has had her uses this year. Of course you know about Lucius’ little stunt with the Shunpike boy. Well, someone had to go in every year and recast the spell. It would have looked suspicious if Lucius had gone in to visit as Stan. The Azkaban guards would have never suspected a wife visiting her husband. Not that it mattered if they did; we made sure Corbin was there whenever I went in.” He let out a little chuckle, pleased with their plan.

“So you got yourself nice and cosy with Narcissa. Then what?” Harry prompted.

“Then I started slipping her a sleeping potion on the night that the body-switching spell needed to be recast on Stan. I’d slip it in her cup of tea before bed and wait for her to fall asleep.  Then I’d pull out a couple of hairs for the polyjuice potion and take her wand with me. It all checked out with the security on the way and then Corbin would be in the room when I cast the spell. “

“Okay, that all fits with what we know so far. So what about Astoria Greengrass?”

“She was an unexpected part of our plan. Lucius was sending letters to Draco for months, trying to get him on our side, trying to get him to use his job to get us information on you. After all, you’re the reason he’s in this mess. Draco seemed to be having none of it, unfortunately. He didn’t reply to any of the letters. So one night I was at Malfoy Manor, sneaking out after a little rendezvous with Narcissa and I overheard Draco and Astoria arguing. She was trying to get him to quit his job, telling him how bad it was for the Malfoy reputation for him to be working with you and against all of the people his father used to associate with. Draco didn’t like that at all, he stormed out and I stepped in.” Markus shrugged, as though Harry knew how the story ended so he didn’t need to continue.

“So you kidnapped her and tried to bribe Draco,” Harry confirmed.

Markus sat up straight once more, chuckling at Harry. “Kidnapped? No, Potter.  Haven’t you figured it out yet? This whole thing was Astoria’s idea.”

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