21- Hunters of Gold

The winding cobbled street of Diagon Ally was deserted but for the lone figure standing outside of the Wizarding Bank of Gringotts. Despite it being emptier than she had ever seen it, Cecilia couldn’t help but feel on edge as she watched the bank. She had been there for over half an hour now and her patience was starting to wear thin.
Deciding that waiting was no longer the answer, she drew out her wand and had begun her way towards the snow-white marble building when a loud crack halted her.

Standing before her were two Wizards each with their hands full with large bulging sacks.
“That was incredible.” Naldo rejoiced as he looked fondly at his haul.

“So the counter-charm works then?” Cecilia went on, a smile creeping its way onto her face for the first time in a long while.

“Works?” Cadmir said as he dropped his own sacks. “Cecilia, it completely got rid of the enchantment. Our Amythest Orbs worked perfectly in there and no one in there noticed. We’ve done it.”

“And Naldo, I take it that this will quench you and your men’s thirst for gold for now.” Cecilia asked as Naldo looked into one of the larger bags as though a long lost loved one were smiling up at him from within.

“If you can promise me that this is just a sample, I can promise you that we will fight and kill without question for you.” Naldo replied and he pulled from the inside of his robes a fist-sized shining blue orb and offered it to Cecilia.

“Good,” Cecilia said satisfactorily as she took the Amythest Orb. “Then gentlemen, I think we know our next move.”

The pair nodded and together the three of them turned on the spot and Apparated back to the edge of the port that had become their base of operations.
Waiting for the trio to arrive was Naldo’s second in command, Gavino Marianti. The infamous human lie detector had not yet been able to prove himself to Cecilia though it was clear he was eager to for every time Cecilia was in need of something or had a task in hand, the Gold Hound deputy was always first to volunteer. So far the most useful thing he had done, in Cecilia’s eyes, was escape the skirmish with the Supreme Mugwump at the Mongolian Ministry and offer up the Amythest Orb he’d taken from her to Cecilia upon his return to his fellows.

“I trust all went well.” The tall, round-headed man asked smoothly as his forefinger stroked the ruby encrusted ring resting on the other hand.

“Well would be an understatement my friend.” Naldo exclaimed as he revealed the contents of his bag to Gavino. Gavino’s eyes widened to such an extent they were almost as round as his head.

“Incredible,” He murmured before looking up at Cecilia. “So we have the capability of breaking their Anti-Orb Charm. Does that mean...?” He started hopefully.

Cecilia responded with a small smile. “Gavino, take these sacks and find a suitable place for them for travel with us, you two ready your followers.” Cecilia ordered to Cadmir and Naldo. “If we time it right we can have our assault match Meng’s.”

The trio bowed their heads before heading off to fulfil their orders but Cecilia had no sooner moved to make her way to her selected vessel for the journey to France when a voice calling her name from behind hit her ears.

“Miss Lox!” A woman repeatedly cried and Cecilia turned and recognised her and the five others that surrounded her by the dark yellow robes as a member of Bomani’s Hunters. “Miss Lox, I have a message from Minister Mosby.” Cecilia felt her heart sink at this.

“Go on.” She ordered suspiciously as the six Hunters strode down the street that led to the harbour.

“The Minister requests the presence of yourself, Naldo and Cadmir, Miss.” She recited. “At once.”

“What? Why, has something happened?” Cecilia pressed but the young woman merely looked back at her with an uncertain look, her guard too looking unnerved. “Unless you can give me a good enough reason, I’m afraid I’ll have to send you all back disappointed.”

The young woman stumbled for a moment before spluttering “It’s Madam Umbridge, Miss. She’s dead.”

“What? How?” Cecilia pressed, her attention roused.

“She betrayed Mosby and was killed by Marietta Edgecombe for it.”

Cecilia’s mind froze for a moment as this sank in. “Umbridge… A traitor?” She whispered.

The Hunter continued. “She released the Auror you captured in the hope that the American Ministry would grant her asylum.”

“What?” Cecilia shouted at the woman. Fury had now completely replaced the ecstasy that disabling the Confederation’s Anti-Orb Charm had given her. The man who had passed on information to Harry Potter on the moving of her mother’s body… was free.
“What happened to him? The Auror?” Cecilia demanded but the Hunter merely shook her head with widened eyes.

“I do not know.” She answered. “Perhaps that is what Minister Mosby wishes to talk to you about.”

“You mean you don’t even know that much?” Cecilia snapped.

“I’m sorry, but we were just given the message to deliver.” The Hunter spluttered fearfully. “So, will you meet with the Minister?”

Cecilia looked the Hunter up and down, thinking. Could anything Mosby had to say be more important than her now imminent invasion?

“Go back and tell Mosby or Bomani or whoever it is you take orders from and tell them that we’ve discovered how to break their Anti-Amethyst Orb enchantment and have set off for the beaches of Sangatte. Tell them the next time they hear from me, I’ll either have taken Paris or killed Harry Potter but if they wish to talk to me before then, inform Mosby that I still have my book.”

Cecilia had then turned to head off when she was halted by an unexpected reply. “My apologies Miss Lox,” The woman said with a tone that had the unmissable hint of fear within. “But our orders were to bring you to Mosby.”

“What? Are you going to force me to-” Cecilia began but as she turned back towards the group, she noticed them all drew their wands. “Put those away!” She ordered loudly in the hope that some under her own command would hear.

“Just come with us.” The woman pressed. She was pleading now and was clearly as eager to avoid a fight as Cecilia was. “The Minister won’t require you for too long and then you can-”

Cecilia did not wait for her to finish. Clearly these people were ordered to return with her, willingly or no.
Cecilia drew out her wand and aimed for the stocky, balding man beside the speaker. The resulting hex caught the man in the throat causing it to swell as though he had suffered a severe allergic reaction and restrict his airwave. The remaining five Hunters all raised their wands and, in unison, fired stunners at Cecilia. She conjured a Shield Charm right at the last minute but, although she had been spared from being knocked unconscious, the force of the five combined spells sent her toppling backwards onto the street ground.

Incarcerous!” A deep, booming voice bellowed and at once Cecilia felt thick ropes bind her arms tightly to her sides and rendering the wand still in her restrained hand useless.

“I am sorry, Miss Lox,” The girl said, advancing on her. “But we really have no choice.

Relashio!” There was a flash of purple light and the ropes that had bound Cecilia fell to the ground allowing her to avoid the Hunter’s next jinx.
Taking cover in the doorway of a café, Cecilia stood back up to see Gavino, his wand raised. “What is the meaning of this?” He bellowed at the Hunters as they drew nearer.

“The Minister demands an audience with Miss Lox!” The girl replied, becoming hysterical. “And we must obey! Avada Kedavra!”

If Gavino had not moved the moment she had re-aimed her wand, he would have died there and then. As was, he pelted towards the doorway of a shop on the opposite side of the street to Cecilia’s café. However, while the girl had chased off Gavino, her four companions had not taken their eyes off of their real target.

Confringo, Cecilia thought, aiming her wand at her would-be captors from behind the doorway. A jet of purple light flew from her wand but rebounded off of a Shield Charm that one of theirs had conjured while the other three opened fire on Cecilia. She recoiled as the café was flooded with coloured lights that tore through both exterior and interior as she watched her own spell fly off into the rooftop of a nearby office. There was an ear-splitting bang as the rooftop disintegrated into fire and debris, black smoke billowing into the air.

Something sharp slashed into where Cecilia’s shoulder met her neck and she could feel warm blood trickle out of the deep gash and down her chest as she forced herself no to cry out in agony. However, the pain seemed to set something off within her.
Incendio!” She cried, aiming at the ground beneath her assailants’ feet and an explosion of blue fire erupted between them. Though only one of them was knocked to the ground, the other three were still blinded by the sudden burst. Taking advantage, she slashed her wand a blasted the man she suspected of cutting her off of his feet.

The remaining two still standing recovered at the sight of the fallen ally and quickly re-aimed their wands and would have struck Cecilia there and then, but they were too late.
No more than a second after they had set their eyes on Cecilia, at least three dozen members of the Nightcrawlers and the Gold-Hounds ran onto the battle worn street, Cadmir and Naldo at the head, and overpowered the remaining foes with a volley of curses and hexes. Even the Witch that had found herself duelling Gavino had soon been thrown to the floor bound tightly in chains.

“Are you alright?” Cadmir asked as he approached Cecilia. “What happened?”

“That’s what I intend to find out.” Cecilia snarled, pushing Cadmir aside and walking over to the bound Hunter.
“You,” Cecilia began. “Explain this!”

“I… I can’t.”

“What do you mean you can’t? Of course you-”

“Signora Lox,” Gavino intervened calmly as he approached the pair and Cecilia was glad to see that she sported far more injuries from their duel than he did. “Normally when someone tells me they can’t tell me something, they are of course lying, but this one…”

“What, you’re telling me she physically can’t tell us?” Cecilia pressed.

“Why did you attack us?” Gavino pressed as he knelt down to her level and Cecilia saw his eyes taking in every action the Witch’s face made.

“We were ordered… by Minister Mosby…” She spluttered. “To bring Miss Lox in even if it meant by force.”

“Why?” Cecilia demanded, her temper alight.

“I can’t say!” The Hunter wailed.

“Did the Minister wish to speak with her?” Gavino continued calmly.

“Yes!” She cried out.

Gavino stared at her for a moment before turning back to Cecilia and shaking his head.

“Has he put some sort of Tongue-Tying Curse on her or something?” Naldo asked as he leaned over for a better look.

“Whatever it is, if Mosby is desperate enough to order them to bring you in by force, then all of us could very well be in danger.”
There were gasps all around as Cecilia continued to stare at the Hunter. What have you done you mad bastard?

“What do you want to do with them?” Cadmir asked, indicating the woman at her feet and her fellows.

“Leave them.” She said. “We now have no time to dawdle. Rally your followers quickly, we leave in force the moment we’re ready. We need to hurry if Mosby is after us. Naldo, how soon can you have our forerunner prepped?”

“It is ready and awaiting your command.” The Gold-Hound answered.

“Good, as soon as I receive word that all of our ships are ready, we leave together on my signal.”
And with that, Cecilia pushed passed the throng that had saved her as she watched her army continue their preparation for their invasion.

She had just passed a small group of Nightcrawlers carefully rechecking their supply of Erumpent Horns when she finally saw her own ship; a handsome, nicely sized charter yacht that some wealthy Muggle had no doubt spent a lot on to fit it out with the best quality luxuries for their own personal use. The moment she stepped foot on board and entered the saloon of the ship, she was surrounded by a variety of drinks stacked within wine-racks and greeted by slim, busty young woman whose long dark hair tumbled down her back. The tight, short clothes that Stasia Canan wore revealed the large number of scars that decorated her otherwise stunning figure; some of the more gnarling blemishes shining in the bright sunlight that poured in.

“I have prepared you a drink, madam.” The woman said and Cecilia noticed the two glasses of wine in each of her hand. After falling into one of the leather sofas with a groan of relief, Cecilia accepted the drink as Stasia continued “I see we are preparing to set sail. I take it then that-”

“We can break their enchantment, yes.” Cecilia answered as she took a deep swig of her drink.

But when Cecilia looked back at Stasia, she found her staring at the gash one of the Hunters had given her. “You’re hurt! Here.” And Stasia drew out her wand and began lightly grazing its tip across the bloody wound. “What happened?”

“You didn’t hear?” Cecilia said, the drink allowing her to laugh a little, and she explained the events that had just transpired with the Hunters. “Your Cadmir is proving to be quite the useful Wizard.” Cecilia finished, downing the rest of her glass before allowing Stasia to pour her another once she had finished tending to Cecilia’s injury.

Stasia’s soft face than turned to one of doting. “He is very much that, madam, and I know he will continue to impress you as you fight alongside together.”

Cecilia stared at her curiously as she took another sip of wine. “May I ask you something, Stasia?”

“Anything.” She replied eagerly.

“What are you to him?” Cecilia remembered Cadmir’s answer when she had asked him that very same question about his twin protégés.

“A guardian, a mentor, a lover.”

Stasia looked uncertainly at Cecilia as though the answer was obvious. “I am… his.” She replied. “I am whatever his requires me to be. He raised me and my sister since childhood, saved us from the ignorant people who called themselves our family.” She then took a sip of her own wine before continuing “Not a day goes by that I don’t miss her, but she died fighting for Cadmir and I’d consider myself very lucky to die in the same way.”

“Really? I’d consider it lucky if you didn’t die at all.” Cecilia replied sardonically.

“I would not worry about me, madam,” Stasia said, a cold stoniness taking root in her tone now. “I have no intention on dying before seeing my sister avenged.”

“Ah, the Weasley’s,” Cecilia let off a small smile, the drink and conversation taking her mind off of the escaped Auror, the fight with the Hunters and Mosby. “I wouldn’t fret about that, Stasia. Should all go to plan, they’ll suffer just as much as Potter will.”


The door of the bathroom rang out a loud bang as it collided with the stone wall. Marietta ran in and stormed into the nearest cubicle, locking it shut behind her.
Her breath quivered as she leaned against the locked door, the shaking in her hands that she had been suppressing all day was now uncontrollable. She daren’t go anywhere but where she told Mosby she would be, but the risk of announcing her leaving for somewhere that could be considered suspicious could prove just as dangerous.

Saxon’s plan in tatters before her, she fumbled for the blank sheet of parchment he had given her and a quill she had snuck away into her robe pocket.
Setting the parchment atop the toilet seat, she began to write, frustrated by her own shakiness.

Need to abandon plan. Mosby believed story but has made me his Under Secretary as a result. Cannot get near the Transport Department without suspicion. Mosby now has full control over the Alliance after forcing them all to sign contracts jinxed with The Traitor’s Kiss. Rodine was given the Dementor’s kiss. Their followers are also signing if they haven’t already.

With every sentence she wrote, she could feel her heart beat faster, the thought of how long she’d been away plaguing her mind.
Supreme Mugwump now a focussed target but they are preparing their next move. Meng is about to lead another attack.
She had just started the next sentence when she heard the door to the bathroom open and close. As though someone had cursed her, she froze exactly where she was, not daring to move a muscle.

“Marietta, you in here?” Said a man’s voice she knew all too well.

“What do you want Nolan?” She asked as she lunged for the toilet’s chain, using the flush to drown out the noise of crumpling parchment being stuffed back into her pocket.

“To talk.” He replied calmly as Marietta opened the cubicle door and moved towards the sinks.

“Well I always did love a bit of bathroom gossip.” Marietta said in a confident tone that did not mimic how she felt. “Did you want to talk about anything in particular?”

Nolan chuckled as water spouted from the bronze taps of the sink. “About you actually.”

Marietta’s heart felt like it had burst. “Well, I must say you’ve picked a sweet place for a first date.”

At this Nolan slowly approached her and turned the taps off. “I have met and spoken to every single person that currently surrounds Mosby, every single member of the Alliance and even a good number of those who merely support his ideas. Everyone that is, except you.”

“We’ve met before, Nolan, and have spoken many times.” Marietta replied impatiently but Nolan merely laughed again.

“We’ve met, yes, and we’ve discussed plans but we’ve never really spoken.” Nolan then sighed as he stared at her before continuing “Look, Mosby can win this war. I truly believe that. If I didn’t I never would have stepped out of that fire this morning and gone back to my comfortable life at the Scandinavian Ministry. However, he needs to be surrounded by the right people if we are to see his dream come true. The battle for the Russian Ministry and Mulvenna’s downfall will result in the Confederation uniting, we all know it, but if we are to survive it we all need to be… on the same page.”

“If I wasn’t on the same page as you all do you really think I would have bothered with Umbridge? Or that Mosby wouldn’t have caught me out?”

“Mosby is many things but he is still a man who, like the rest of us, makes mistakes.” Nolan replied. “Umbridge, now that you bring her up, is a perfect example of that. So consider me his second opinion.”

Marietta forced herself to smile. “Do second opinions normally fear their first? Because I’m pretty sure that’s what I saw in you when Mosby was giving his little speech earlier.”

“Are you telling me you don’t fear him?” Nolan asked flatly.

Marietta stared at him for a moment, choosing her words, before replying “The man’s an anger fuelled killer who surrounds himself with creatures that devour souls and powerful Wizards and Witches now bound to his every whim. Every single living thing on the planet should fear him now.”

“And they will.” Nolan said. “And I believe that will be key to our winning this war, but, like I said before, I need to know that those who aren’t bound to his every whim are-”

“Merlin’s beard you’re annoying!” Marietta interrupted. “Everything I’ve done and you dare question me? Tell me something John, how many times have you actually fought for our cause? How many people have you pointed your wand at and said those two magical words that would take their life?”

Nolan’s eyes widened at this. “I think you’re forgetting just who exactly set off the Erumpent Horn you’d laid out at the Quidditch attack.” He said with an ever so slightly defensive tone to his voice that Marietta was relieved to hear.

“Oh, I don’t mean unsuspecting civilians who don’t know you’re coming,” Marietta carried on. “I mean how many have you fought, beaten, killed. There’s a very big difference you know.” Nolan didn’t respond though continued to glower at Marietta. “You see, I can give Mosby many situations where I’ve gone out and proven my loyalty, but I’d bet good gold that Marius did the bulk of the work for the Scandinavian Ministry infiltration and with you spending Selwyn’s conquest in Azkaban and most of the war pampering yourself in Scandinavia while Akrahn does all of the work, can you really say the same?”
Nolan’s glower had now turned to the look of a man who was being physically pinned up against the wall. “No, I didn’t think so. I mean I don’t blame you for staying over there at all. I know as well as anybody that it’s nice to finally have a life worth living.”

“You know nothing of my life!” Nolan snapped.

“Oh but I do.” Marietta replied. She was pushing him, she knew, but to allow him to push her was definitely the worst of the two bad decisions. “I think you’re forgetting just who exactly stole all your Ministry records from the Archives.” She mimicked, hoping against hope that this was indeed the wiser course of action. “All those years living in squalor, looking up at even the working class Muggles with envy at what they had and watching as everyone else went to Hogwarts while you were home schooled by parents who could barely afford-”

Nolan drew his wand and had it aimed directly at Marietta’s throat. “You know nothing about my life.” He repeated but this time in a low threatening tone.

“I know that you want to live, and to live well.” Marietta replied calmly, forcing herself not to draw her own wand and escalate things further. “As we’ve all earned the right to.”

Several seconds of silence passed before Nolan lowered his wand, though he did not withdraw it.
“Mention my past again and I will kill you where you stand, understand?” Marietta didn’t answer. She knew she didn’t have to. “Come,” Nolan then ordered. “Mosby will be waiting for us.” And he stormed out of the bathroom abling Marietta to do nothing but to follow him.


Harry, Ron and Hermione all stood in the centre of the front yard of the Delacour Manor. However, more than just the greenery and ornaments now surrounded them. After much discussion, they had successfully convinced the entirety of the D.A to essentially live at the manor as permanent guards of the manor’s inhabitants as opposed to staying at the hotel the French Ministry had provided for the British refugees and turning up when it was their shift. Although in all honesty, convincing them to stay under such circumstances hadn’t been the bulk of the work involved, that part lay in their positioning. Thankfully, while Harry and Hermione were making quick work of asking their members to be resident guards, Ron had taken time out of heading the British Aurors patrolling the French sea-line to organise the patrol that would be protecting his family should the worst happen.

They watched as Luna Lovegood, Rolf Scamander and half-a-dozen others patrolled the grounds while Seamus Finnegan and Cho Chang helped comprise those who kept a look out atop the manor’s roof.

“It’s unbelievable.” Harry repeated for what must have been the hundredth time since the D.A’s agreement to up their guard duties.

“You’re welcome.” Ron said cockily earning him an elbow in the side from Hermione.

“You really do underestimate just how much people want to help, don’t you?” Hermione said briskly as Ron rubbed his side while complaining about bruising. “And anyway, I suppose they all see it as making themselves safer. More people protecting a smaller area and all.”

“What did Corin say about all of this?” Harry asked. He hadn’t had the chance to speak to the eldest of the Delacour’s due to all of his spare time being spent with Ginny and the kids.

“Asked a few questions at first, obviously, but after we went through some of the finer details he then asked me why we didn’t arrange this sooner.” Hermione answered with a laugh.

Harry was about to press further into the details of the defences when a strong gust of wind blew through the area: the traditional signal of someone entering the premises.
At once, over a dozen heads and wands turned to face the entrance as Gabrielle Delacour strode towards them, admiring the defences that surrounded her.

“Wow!” They heard her say in awe as she drew closer to them. “Papa wasn’t lying about what you ‘ad planned.”

“Well we’ve worked with worse I suppose.” Ron said, returning to showing-off his plans.

“Zere are parts of ze Ministry zat aren’t as well covered as zis.” She continued as she took in the now manned rooftop of the manor. “My apologies,” She then said, snapping her attention back to the trio though her eyes still darted here and there taking in the defended courtyard. “Ze Minister ‘as sent me to collect you, ‘arry. Both she and Kingsley ‘ave urgent matters to discuss with you.”

“Oh, okay then.” Harry answered. “Any idea as to…” But Gabrielle merely shrugged.

“Zat is above my paygrade, I believe.” She said with a smile. “I was just ordered to bring you to ze hotel. Ze Minister finds ze Ministry a little… over-crowded as of late.” She answered when she saw Harry’s puzzled look at the choice of location.

“Alright then, we’ll set off.” Harry replied before turning to hug Hermione. “Thank you for this, Hermione, and for everything else too. Ron,” He continued after receiving a bright smile from Hermione. “Stay safe out there.” And the pair clasped each other’s hands.

“Now where’s the fun in that?” Ron replied with a sharp grin, earning him another dig in the ribs from Hermione.

The marble white reception hall of the hotel shone brightly as Gabrielle led Harry towards her Minister. Despite its grandeur however, the reception was, for the most part, empty with the exception of a few British Ministry survivors heading back to their rooms after a late lunch via the cream-carpeted stairway that loomed over them on the far side. Gabrielle, on the other hand, took them nowhere near the stairway. Instead she led Harry behind the reception desk with a single nod to the petit receptionist and through the double doors behind her.
After following her through another door labelled ‘Manager’, Harry found himself in a comfortable, suave looking office that reminded Harry greatly of Kingsley’s office back in London.

“Merci, Gabrielle.” Bernardine said as the pair entered. She and Kingsley were standing at the desk of the office and had clearly been deep in conversation before Gabrielle had opened the door.

“Harry, apologies for the last minute summons,” Kingsley bowed. “But we’ve just received this from America.” And he held up a thin darkly coloured file before handing it to Harry.
Opening it, Harry saw that the first page was that of what seemed to be a message that had been written in a hurry. He had barely read the second sentence, however, when his heart froze.

Mosby believed story but has made me his Under Secretary as a result.

“Edgecombe… she’s…” Harry stuttered before quickly reading the rest of the message. “Damn it.” Harry growled.

“I know.” Kingsley replied darkly. “Hoping that he will lose their faith is now no longer an option.”

“Can we trust this?” Harry asked.

“The plan was for Marietta to reach the Transport Office in order to authorise an arranged Portkey to the American Ministry that would transport herself, the American Auror and her mother. I cannot think why she would hold off on such a thing if what we hear of her mother is true.”

Harry stared at the parchment throughout Kingsley’s explanation. “Just so happens to leave out the destination of this attack though, doesn’t she? And what does she mean that Naomi is now a focussed target?”

“Harry, we cannot afford to ignore this.” Kingsley ordered. “Like it or not, it is the best we have on what’s going on in London. I would find it very difficult to believe that Mosby did not at least find Naomi’s lack of action before Russia suspicious especially now she is as active as humanly possible since her return. I believe he knew something must have happened to her and did not consider her a threat. Clearly, that has now changed.”

Harry stared at the message. “I guess,” Harry began. “But either way it looks like she’s not who Meng is after, see,” And he pointed out the sentence to the pair. “Supreme Mugwump now a focussed target but they are preparing their next move. If we are going to take Marietta at her word, they are two separate things.”

“So if Naomi isn’t the target, who or what is?” Kingsley pondered.

“We ‘ave already sent word to Berkoff,” Bernardine began. “After ze Bowton twin’s attack, ze Russian Ministry is vulnerable but we have-”

Harry raised a hand. “Hang on,” He said. “I don’t have much of an idea, but we might have someone who does and, if this is true, she’s one of the few left who’s free from Mosby’s contract.”

Kingsley and Bernardine caught each other’s eye. “Do you think you can get her to talk?” Kingsley asked.

“I’ve got a few ideas that may work.” Harry replied. “But even if they don’t, it beats standing around here taking guesses.”

Bernardine rose from her seat and drew out her wand. “I shall send word to ze Mongolian Ministry.” And, with a single wave, the tiny fireplace sprang to life with flame. “Go, by ze time you reach our Transport Office, zere should be a Portkey ready for you.”

“And bring an Auror with you!” Kingsley ordered after them before receiving a casual wave from Harry as Gabrielle led him out.

Leaving the reception desk behind them, the pair strode quickly back across the marble floor before being halted by a familiar voice crying out “Potter!”

The pair turned, Gabrielle even making to draw out her wand, to see Draco Malfoy at the bottom of the stairs. Although he certainly looked better than when Harry had last seen him at the home of Andromeda Tonks, he still held the pale complexion of the man who had been the captive of Selwyn and his gang.
“Draco,” Harry replied, the fear of the next attack making its way into his voice. “Look I’m sorry but can we talk later I really need to-”

“This won’t take long.” Draco interrupted as he drew closer. “Look, I know you’ve moved all of your D.A lot to wherever it is you and the Weasley’s are holding up and… I want in.”

Harry, who was about to interrupt to try and break away from the conversation, stared at him. “You… What?”

“I want in. I want you to move my family to wherever your family is and in return you can add me to guarding the place.” Although Draco retained the poised composure he’d had since school, Harry could hear the desperate plea that rang in his voice. “We shouldn’t need much room.” Draco continued. “But we will need a bed for my father and preferably something for Scorp-”

“Okay,” Harry cut him off. Draco stared at Harry as though not quite believing his luck.

“You… You mean it?”

“Of course,” Harry said, the impatience in his voice clearly missed by Draco, before turning to a stunned Gabrielle. “I’ll head on myself. Go and help Draco escort his family to the manor. The bedroom next to mine and Ginny’s should have everything they need for his father and Scorpius, I’m sure Luna and the others won’t mind moving upstairs.”

Gabrielle nodded, though did not withdraw her wand, before moving closer to Draco.
“Thank you.” Draco said curtly in a quiet tone as he and Gabrielle turned for the stairs.

As the two began to walk away however, an unpleasant piece of information slid into the forefront of Harry’s mind. “Draco!” Harry called after them before running up to the halted pair. “We… uh, received some information the other day from an insider in London.” He began, not knowing what to expect but that Draco had the right to know. “If what we’re hearing is true, and we fully believe it to be so… Goyle and Parkinson were killed at around midday yesterday.”

Draco did not respond right away. It seemed as though his mind had to slowly examine every word Harry had just said in detail in order to take them in. “Oh…” He said after a moment, his expression unchanged. “How did it- did they...?” He stumbled before sighing his attempts off. “I guess it doesn’t really matter. I hadn’t even seen either of them since their trials. I… I guess it was only a matter of time. Thank you for…”

“It’s fine.” Harry interrupted, sparing Draco from continuing. “I guess I’ll see you at the manor.”
Draco gave a single nod though kept the same stony expression before continuing his way towards his family.

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