A/N: This chapter, I’m proud to say, is slightly longer than the last. I hope you like it!!! (if I catch someone reading but not leaving a review I’m quitting this fic for good. lol)
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Previously on Harry Potter and the Forest of Shadows: Aunt Petunia has gone missing, and Harry puts Uncle Vernon under the Imperius Curse to send him out of Privet Drive alive. He flies out of the window on his Firebolt, straight into Bellatrix Lestrange…
ESCAPE WITH CONSEQUENCE
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Harry panted, clutching onto his broomstick with so much strength that he wouldn't be surprised if it broke. Every single cell in his body was screaming at him, telling him to get as much distance as possible between him and Bellatrix Lestrange. He knew she wouldn't let him go easily... Especially if it meant pleasing Voldemort. He had cooked up a whole plan to murder Harry in Privet Drive, and sent his most loyal Death Eater to do the dirty work. Bellatrix wouldn't fail her master this time.
Harry's heart skipped a beat as he suddenly saw the enraged woman appearing out of nowhere beneath him. Why could she Apparate when he wasn't able to?
Leaning strongly to one side, Harry swerved around Bellatrix, barely missing the Stunning hex she had shot at him. He urged his Firebolt up, farther and farther from the ground. It was a new, frightening experience to be flying outside an open field. Even when he had been fighting the dragon in his fourth year, he'd always been able to find his way in the air. But now houses all around him were barricading his way to the sky...
Harry froze on his broom. He knew he had been struck - he couldn't move a single bone in his body. But amazingly, it appeared that his Firebolt hadn't been affected. It zoomed forwards unstopped, straight into a house beside that of Mrs. Figg's. Harry cursed inwardly, gritting his teeth in the frustration of not being able to do anything to prevent the crash.
"NOOO!" He heard Bellatrix scream, and opened his eyes to marvel at what happened. He had flown right into an opened window, and was gradually regaining feeling in his limbs.
It looked as though he was in someone's bedroom - a teenager, judging from the posters on the walls - and within seconds he had reached the door.
"Alohomora!" Harry cried out, sticking out his wand. He slowed down while the door flew open, and crossed a hallway that ended in another window at the other side. But this one wasn't open.
Harry cringed, feeling the glass slamming into him. It scraped painfully along his sides and dug into his face, but he bore the pain in silence. He knew that Bellatrix could be Apparating into the house at any moment, and forced himself to go on. He had never felt as relieved in his life, when his Firebolt reached the outside. Harry flew up into the air, leaving the ground far under him. Little Whinging was shrinking, and Bellatrix was no longer visible... He knew she would never catch up with him anymore.
But what would he do now?
Places and people swam into his mind. Grimmauld Place; taken over by Death Eaters. The Ministry; he didn't know where it was. The Burrow; he didn't know where it was. The only option available seemed to be Diagon Alley, because he could find his way to London from the air. But who knew how long that would take...?
Harry wished once more, that he could just Apparate. What was it good for, when he couldn't even use it when it was most needed? And Bellatrix had been able to...
Suddenly it struck him. Of course, she had been able to Apparate because she had been outside. He had attempted it inside Privet Drive. But Voldemort must have predicted it would happen, and had set up the necessary precautions. He could easily have put an Anti-Apparition Charm on the house if he wanted to.
That dream of his - Grawp running through the Forbidden Forest, causing small tremors... As stupid as it seemed, it had been incredibly realistic. And he knew from experience that the Charm caused small shock waves to run through the earth.
If that was the case, Harry would be able to Apparate here. Now. A smile grew on Harry's face. He could be safe... He didn't need to fly all the way to London...
Making sure he was flying at a proper, steady, height, Harry closed his eyes and concentrated on his scar. He felt his forehead growing hot, and still burning from the cuts he had gotten from the glass. It seemed to take ages, and Harry could feel blood trickling down the sides of his face as he waited. But the moment he opened his eyes, he knew it had worked.
"FRED WEASLEY! I TOLD YOU NEVER TO COME IN LIKE THAT AGAIN, ON TOP OF THE KITCHEN TABLE-"
Harry stared blankly at Mrs. Weasley, who had stormed into the room he was standing in, looking furious. Then she saw who he was, and all her anger was replaced with worry and surprise.
"Harry! Oh poor dear, are you alright?"
Mrs. Weasley helped Harry down to the floor, his broomstick still in his hands. He swayed slightly on his feet, still trying to control the beating of his heart. That had been close - very close indeed. But now, here in the safety of the Burrow, he allowed himself to calm down.
"Look at you! You're a downright mess!" Mrs. Weasley cried, positively shaking with sympathy.
She wiped Harry's blood-stained forehead with the sleeve of her nightgown, and pushed him gently into a chair. Harry yelped slightly, and pulled a piece of broken glass from his pyjama trousers.
"I- I was... An attack on Privet Drive... My aunt Petunia..." Harry stammered, tripping over his own words. He didn't know where to begin, there was too much to explain. The abruptness of the situation still shocked
"Shhhh, calm down now, you're fine," Mrs. Weasley soothed, tears brimming in her eyes. She straightened up very suddenly and yelled in the loudest voice Harry had ever heard:
"ARTHUR! COME DOWN IMMEDIATELY!"
Her voice rattled the kitchen windows, and an alarmed Gnome raced out from under the sink. It was as though a bomb had just been dropped in the Burrow. The previously quiet house was rudely awakened, and Harry heard sleepy voices muttering unintelligible things from the rooms above. One by one, the Weasleys began to descend from the staircase.
"Mum, is this absolutely necessary at five in the morning..." Ron's eyes widened when he spotted Harry.
"Harry! We've just talked like hours ago, and when I said 'come soon', I didn't mean-"
Mrs. Weasley's eyes widened dangerously, and Ron held his mouth shut. Instead, he gazed at Harry's bloody face and Firebolt on his lap, stupefied. He knew it must be a very strange sight, and shot Ron an apologetic "I'll tell you later" smile.
"Come on Luna, Harry's here!" Ginny cried, bouncing down the stairs. She seemed to have gotten over her broken heart rather quickly, and stared at Harry open-mouthed.
Luna took her time.
"Is that what this is about? I thought we would be having a Nabugabu ceremony..."
She was unmoved at the state Harry was in. Why would she, when the sight of Voldemort lying unconscious at her feet hadn't gotten more than an eyebrow-raise from her?
"I've always liked that broom... Ronald would look quite good flying it," she commented vaguely. Ron threw Harry an exasperated look.
Last of all, Mr. Weasley finally hurried into the room, putting on his horn-rimmed glassed. His face was dead serious when he spotted Harry, and he instantly sat down in a chair next to Harry's.
"What happened? Why are you here?" he asked urgently.
"My aunt Petunia is gone. I don't know where, but my uncle was very upset about it... She never stays out late, you see. And then... Then Bellatrix came." Harry still shuddered at the thought of her dark, crazy eyes.
"Only Bellatrix? No one else?" Mr. Weasley asked, frowning. Harry could see Mrs. Weasley covering her mouth behind him, gasping. He tried to ignore it.
"Yes, just her... But I dunno, they could have been working in a group... Someone put a spell on the house so I wouldn't Apparate."
Ron and Ginny were exchanging worried looks. He hated it when people did that... Worry about him as though he was still a little boy.
"Molly, take care of Harry, I'm calling the Order." Mr. Weasley was very pale and decided as he got to his feet, and headed for the livingroom. Harry knew he would be contacting the Headquarters at Hogwarts by Floo powder. Or at least he thought he knew... It was hard to think when you were bleeding from the head and everything swam before your eyes.
"Ginny, get some wet towels!" Mrs. Weasley screeched, and Ginny trudged off reluctantly.
The chubby woman pulled the Firebolt out of Harry's hands and set it on the floor, and then took off his glasses. Harry blinked, watching the blurry redhaired figure of Ginny coming back into the room, and Mrs Weasley taking something from her. He bit his lip when he felt her brushing the stray pieces of glass off his face with the wet towels, straining himself against the pain.
"How did you get away from Bellatrix?" Ron asked in awe, sitting down next to him.
"I just flew... Flew right through a window..." Harry said, knowing this would impress Ron. But Mrs. Weasley's breath caught in her throat, and she stroked Harry's hair tenderly. He would have appreciated it at another time, but not with Ron and Luna watching. He was a seventeen year old boy, after all.
"He's over here!" Mr. Weasley's voice was saying, and Remus Lupin's shabby figure came into focus as Mrs. Weasley slipped Harry's glasses back on. He had never seen Lupin so tired before, so absolutely exhausted and angry at the same time.
"Harry, you have never done anything more stupid," he said, in a hollow voice. Harry froze, and Mrs. Weasley lowered the towel in surprise.
"I'll do everything in my power to keep you from going to Azkaban, but I won't promise I can."
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