To confirm - I make no claim (obviously) to the characters below, but am really happy to have had the chance to play with them and make something that is, I hope, enjoyable to read.
I will also admit that this is my first story so please let me know what you think. I am very open to constructive feedback and comment on the story so please, if you have time and would like to please, either comment or drop me an email on phill2818 at hotmail .co . uk
Harry Potter and the Unforeseen Hero
Chapter Ten: Into the Breach
Something strange was happening. It was familiar yet different, normal but alien. Harry's eyes opened to hear the muffled groans and sounds of a writhing body. His senses began to take in his surroundings, at one end of the room were boxes stacked up high and to his right a window covered by a curtain that was showing the faintest red, orange glow of the morning sun. To his left was another bed and the noise was coming from that direction. After reaching for his wand and casting a ‘Lumos' he glancing at Fabians' watch; 05.45, his first real sleep in sometime had lasted less than two hours. Pushing his glasses onto the bridge of his nose he moved from the bed he was currently occupying to his neighbours and ventured forth a hand to shake the fitful body in the next bed.
"Malfoy", no response. He shook a little harder "Hey Malfoy!" but the writhing only intensified. Putting two hands on his former nemesis he shook the blonds shoulders firmly "Malfoy, wake up!" The blond's eyes whipped open and he sucked in a huge lungful of air.
After a moment to regain himself the blond hissed accusatorially "Potter. What the fuck?"
"You were having a nightmare. You woke me up and you didn't sound like you were having much fun over here so I thought I would put you out of your misery"
"Thanks" despite the simplicity of the word the sneer still cut through the tone and Harry wondered if it was so fundamentally ingrained in Draco's persona that he would always carry the condescending tone.
"Your welcome" Harry responded coolly raising an eyebrow and moved back to his bed
"My parents..." he left the sentence hanging unsure of how to finish it but Harry needed no additional words to understand the blonds meaning and he paused half way between the two beds. He couldn't work out who this was worse for, Draco or himself. Draco was clearly pained at having to ask Harry in the first place and would be further pained when he found out the truth and Harry, well he was not relishing having to be the one to bring the Slytherin up to speed.
"What do you last remember?" Harry stalled, playing for time
"Beatings, pain it all roles into one to be honest" not the answer Harry had been hoping for
"Spit it out Potter. Its perfectly simple dead or alive?" the cold veneer in his voice performed an excellent job of concealing his true feelings and Harry, not known for his calmness when baited had to bite back the response that was ready to trip off his tongue
"Your mother is in St Mungos. I don't know how she is doing; I haven't heard anything for two days or so. Your father, well I don't know how to tell you this" he drew in a deep breath "he's dead. I'm sorry"
"Sorry? Why the hell would you be sorry? You hated him" the acidic response hit Harry and he paused for a moment, again biting back the retort that found itself so easily on the tip of his tongue. Hermione, it seemed, had drilled something into Harry about empathy. True it was Malfoy and true Malfoy was a prize ‘A' wanker but he had just found out about his parents, he was hardly going to be happy.
"Actually Malfoy I can be sorry. I didn't like your father that is no secret. He was always cruel to me and my friends but that does not mean that I wanted him dead or that I want you to be like me" he whispered the last few words.
"I need to find out how Mother is" and his voice had cracked. The calm visage of Draco Malfoy had finally dropped away a little but Harry was neither inclined nor stupid enough to think that Malfoy would want comforting.
"You have my word that I will try to find out in a few hours. I will be back in a moment" and he slipped out of the bedroom door down into the Weasley's bathroom and withdrew from the cabinet a phial of dreamless sleep and a phial of a weak-sleeping draft.
Averting his eyes from what Harry imagined being a tear stained face he muttered, "Take these" and passed the small tubes over.
"Poisoning me won't help you get your hand on your Horcrux's Potter"
Rolling his eyes and looking at Draco for the first time since he had woken the boy he said assuredly "Am I likely to have gone through the past twenty four hours so that I could poison you? It's a sleeping draft and some dreamless sleep. They tend to keep those two well stocked when I am around. Good job I hadn't taken any... well anyway. You aren't going to sleep unaided after what I just told you and bottom line is you are still ill yourself and you're no good to me dead. Drink up"
Silently the blond complied and placed the phials on the bedside table and pulled the duvet up around his chin.
Harry woke again several hours later and the golden red hue from earlier in the morning had bloomed into a full on summer's day. Glancing over he noted that the blond was still sleeping soundly. If he wasn't such a wanker the more vulnerable Draco could actually be ‘sweet' Harry mused on this thought and repressed chuckle of his friends or for that mater Draco's face if he were to voice his thoughts. Slipping from the room he had a quick shower and went down to the kitchen to find Molly Weasley, Hermione and Ron waiting, or so it seemed, for him around the kitchen table. Harry was grateful to see his fiery tempered friend looking calmer.
"Hullo. You alright?" he asked the table at large. To be rewarded with a range of jovial responses
"Thanks Mrs W"
When Mrs Weasley's back was turned Hermione smiled and said "Ron has something to say, don't you Ron?" The smile was so false it was hard to overlook it. Though when the red head made no move to speak, Harry noted a movement and Ron's brow furrowed clearly having just been kicked under the table.
"Sorry" a similar movement under the table was rapidly followed by the extension of the sentence "I know you wouldn't want the ferret unless he was useful to us. Its just he is such a wanker" the final part of this statement earned him a reproachful look from Hermione.
"Look mate, I wouldn't have let anyone die, especially the way we found him, but that doesn't mean I want him with us" a grin began to form around Ron's lips "BUT the bottom line is he is useful to us and you know as much as I do that just because he has been a complete arsehole to us does not mean that we have to take revenge now. That's just not us. He knows stuff and I want to know what that stuff is so we can put it to good use. That's all. When we have what we need, well, he can leave. But Ron... he has just found out about his father, I am not saying be nice to him but try and at least see how hard this must be, k?"
"Right" Ron replied stiffly
"Hermione he isn't going to be ready to leave for at least a few days. He is still healing and tired but I want to get going as soon as possible. We know he knows where the first one is, I want to do all out planning when we are on the move. Can we start to get prepared? What do we need to do?" He knew this was Hermione's element, organising and planning. True to form she pulled a piece of parchment and a quill from her bag and started to list things out.
"We will need books, food, a place to stay, potion supplies" but before she could continue he interrupted her "so can I leave that with you?"
"Of course, no problem, Harry"
"We have one other thing to add to your list. We need to get Malfoy a wand" Ron spluttered but said nothing "Yes we do Ron, we aren't going on a picnic and I dunno about you but if we get into a fight I would rather have someone else on our side"
"As long as he doesn't start hexing us!" Ron put in but Harry was forestalled from commenting as Mrs Weasley placed two plates down in front of him but when Harry looked up questioningly she smiled kindly "One for Draco"
"Oh right, thanks" when she turned her back to clear up the frying pan he added "I am not his keeper"
"Of course you're not Harry but I have things to organise and well lets not send Ron or we are as likely to have blood on our hands again" Harry snorted but couldn't argue with her logic.
"Every plan must have a downside mate" and Ron grinned at his friend
Turning away he picked up the plates and stopped in the doorway "Do we know anymore about his mum? He is bound to ask, I would"
"It was on the wireless this morning Harry, she is still very sick"
"They know what's wrong with her yet?"
"They think the Cruciatus but not sure yet"
"Right. Best add dreamless sleep, sleeping draft and polyjuice to that list Hermione"
He found the blond sat up in bed awake, "Hello"
"Potter, where have you been?"
"Why? Miss me?"
"Don't be stupid but I have no idea where I am, no clean clothes and I am busting for a piss. Oh and is that bacon?" He had often observed the effect that crispy bacon could have on Ron but it seemed that Draco was just as partial.
"Might be. Depends if you're going to stop being an arsehole"
"Potter, come on, where is the toilet in this place!"
"Opposite the stairs as you walk down. Out this door turn right"
Several days passed awkwardly. Ron was true to his word and whilst not exactly civil he did not openly bait Draco. Hermione was often to be seen conversing with Mrs Weasley in the kitchen or accepting large packages from owls or Order members that came by. Draco for his part kept asking Harry for information on his mother. Harry tried to find out information for Draco, placate Ron by playing the odd game of chess and support Hermione in her task of preparation. This was easier said than done however, as he had developed a shadow. Draco would not leave Harry's side and when he questioned Draco about it that night he was not all together surprised.
"Don't get the wrong idea or anything Potter. You're still a specky git but unless you haven't noticed I have no wand and I am surrounded by people I have insulted or worse for the past six years. I know you wont hurt me because you want what I know so you can't blame me for sticking close"
"Can't believe you would even think about all that"
"We are going to meet tomorrow morning when Mrs Weasley leaves to see the twins to discuss our next moves. You will need to be there but being as I will be there I assume its safe to think you will be too"
"Yeah, you too Potter"
The following morning arrived all together too quickly and after they had ushered Mrs Weasley to the door they sat down around the kitchen table. It was the first of many ‘councils of war' and the unexpected forth member maintained a stoic silence in the presence of Ron and Hermione.
"I feel like this is all so formal" Harry started off awkwardly. Despite plucking up the courage to address the entire Order he was far more comfortable with impromptu conversations that they had used thus far to organise the little cohesive planning to date.
"Ah come on Harry, its not that bad, all we have to do is work out what needs to be done in order to kill you know who" Ron's attempt at humour helped to ease the mood in the room
"Well in terms of our preparation we are pretty much ready to go" Hermione put in helpfully "we have packed some where to shelter, food, drink and all the essentials. I have gathered all the potion ingredients I can think we may need and I have a number ready brewed"
"I wouldn't mind reviewing your potions inventory if you didn't mind Granger" and she nodded her assent in his direction. Hermione's potions had always been beyond reproach but it was a well-known fact that Draco had always excelled in the subject
"Right so that leaves just one outstanding thing before we can leave, we have to get Malfoy a wand" Hermione observed
"Well Ollivander's it is then I guess; not much point in us picking for you, wand chooses the wizard and all of that" Harry said
"I wanted to ask you all something. I know you don't owe me anything and we haven't exactly been best friends" Ron couldn't help but snort at this very softly spoken sentence emanating from Draco, despite this he interruption he continued determinately "but I wanted to ask you all for a favour and some help"
"What are you talking about Malfoy?" Ron stared at the blond in front of him
"I promised that I would help you and I will what ever your response is to this"
"Spit it out"
"I want the chance to see my mother before we get on with what you want me for"
Nobody spoke, imperceptibly however, both Harry and Hermione's eyes turned to Ron "Hey don't look at me! I didn't want the Ferret here in the first place but he is here now and Harry you made it very clear that we cant hold a grudge but if you are asking me to be happy that there is another job that needs to be done well" he left the sentence hanging in the air
"Ok Malfoy we will help you" Hermione responded. This was what Harry loved about his friends despite the responsibility that lay on his shoulder they still shared decision-making.
"I don't have anything to offer you in return"
"We don't need anything; we know you have what we need already so consider this one a freebie. We are human beings too you know" Hermione added the second sentence almost as an after thought.
"Thanks" he whispered in reply and averted his gaze away from the three Gryffindor's eyes.
"Right so where does this leave us?" Harry asked trying to sum up the conversation
"Needing to go to Diagon Alley and then over to St Mungos without anyone seeing us or more to the point without anyone seeing Malfoy here" Ron jabbed his thumb Draco's direction
"So how we gunna do that?"
Hermione looked thoughtful "Diagon Alley is easy. The three of us can just go there and put Malfoy under your cloak Harry. We can say that I need a new wand and if Malfoy stands behind me I can pass it to him to try whilst Ron and Harry, you distract Ollivander whilst we make the switch"
"Great we get the easy job then" Ron complained
"I don't have any money" Draco said and averted his eyes from the group in shame. Having always had the Malfoy name and riches behind him Draco had created a huge superiority complex. Now he was facing the struggle of living without this power and wealth. Of course with his father's death the Malfoy vault would legally have passed into his ownership but his status as fugitive meant that he could hardly walk into Gringotts and demand access.
"S'fine I have some" Harry put in.
"Then when we have Malfoy's wand we can apparate to St Mungos. Ron and I will wait outside and keep watch Harry you and Malfoy can slip in. Whatever you do don't get caught or we really will have a problem. Put your phone onto vibrate mode so I can alert you if something if we need to"
"Sounds like a plan. So when?"
"Its still early which leaves enough time for Malfoy to review my potions inventory today so how about tomorrow? The sooner we start the sooner we move the sooner we can get on with finding the Horcrux's"
"Looks like you have some work to do at last Malfoy" Ron said maliciously
Later that afternoon Draco had informed Harry that they would need to stop at Slug & Jiggers Apothecary. Draco had condescended to admit that Hermione had "the essentials" but that there were some fundamental ingredients that were missing such as "scorpion venom and jelly fish ink that were absolutely essential". Harry neither knew nor frankly cared why Draco was taking such an interest in what potion ingredients were required and therefore elected not to ask the question.
Nerves kept Draco from having a good nights sleep, this would be the first time he had been out in public since his beating and subsequent escape from St Mungos. True he would be hidden under Harry's invisibility cape but the risk of detection kept him from being able to relax properly. As it was Draco needn't have worried the cloak maintained its infallibility and at early afternoon he found himself stood closely behind Hermione who was speaking with Mr Ollivander.
"Yes, I need a new wand. My previous one was damaged last year when the Death Eaters broke into Hogwarts" Draco felt his stomach twist at this choice of excuse by the bushy haired girl in front of him.
"That is most unfortunate my dear. Your previous wand was of course vine wood and dragon heartstring. This would seems to be a logical place to start" Ollivander moved carefully through the high stacked of boxed wands and carefully extracted one from the pile "Try this one" he said handing the opened box to her.
"Excuse me Mr Ollivander, could I ask you about my wand?"
"Your wand Mr Potter? Surely you don't have an issue with your wand too?"
"No sir I was just curious about how you procured the core" The three friends had identified and practiced the methods that they would use in order to distract the wandmaker and so commenced a bizarre dance of sorts. The wandmaker would offer a wand to Hermione, Harry or Ron would distract the wandmaker, Draco would try it and then hand it back to Hermione and so it would repeat.
After around twenty different alternatives had been tried, Draco was passed a wand that felt warm and familiar, like rediscovering a lost but treasured toy as a child and he whispered "This one"
"Erm sorry Ron, can I interrupt? I think I have found the one"
"This wand is an unusual combination a very specific kind of Hawthorn called Crataegus annosa. This is otherwise known as Phoenix Hawthorn and the core is of Unicorn hair. It is not the Unicorn hair that makes this wand interesting it the affiliation of the wood to the Phoenix"
"Oh?" This was of course right up Hermione's street with her unquenchable thirst for knowledge
"Yes indeed. The phoenix is a rare magical creature and though the phoenix feather is one of three cores used in the creation of a wand it in itself is rare in comparison to the other two. The phoenix is of course famous for its rebirth. It is unusual Ms Granger for a wand of rebirth to affiliate itself with one such as you. Take for instance Mr Potter; his entrance into our world was so momentous that a rare gift, a phoenix wand, a symbol of his rebirth into the Wizarding world was bestowed upon him. The same can be said for You Know Who, a powerful wizard looking to reassert control over his own destiny. So Ms Granger the question is this; have you had any epiphany or momentous life event that would drive such an affiliation?"
"I don't think so"
"Curious, I have never known this to occur"
"I don't mean to be rude Mr Ollivander but we have a few other appointments" Harry cut in
"Of course, of course. Well that will be twenty five galleons please Ms Granger"
Harry passed the wandmaker the requested total and the group bade the wandmaker fair well, carefully making space during their exit for Draco to slip out in-between Hermione and Ron whilst Harry waved to the wand master and shut the door behind him.
Diagon Alley was different; the intrinsic feel of the place had darkened since the rise back to power of Voldemort. The bright colours and sense of heady freedom had been replaced with more sombre tones, a number of Aurors placed throughout the street and a sense of weighty nervousness. The small party of three, and one invisible member, navigated carefully across the street to Slug & Jiggers where Hermione moved into the shop to procure the list of items Draco had created.
Twenty minutes later Hermione remerged from the shop pushing a large brown bag into her small beaded bag.
"Erm Hermione how the heck is that big bag fitting into that small bag?" Ron queried
"Undetectable Extension Charm. Tricky, but I think I've done it okay; anyway, I managed to fit everything we need in here."
"That's amazing Mionie"
She blushed slightly but smiled kindly in Ron's direction before carrying on in a business like tone "Well that was the first part, now for the second part" and she glanced at her watch and lowered her voice to a bare whisper "Its just coming up to four. We disapparate together. The two of you have half an hour no more and we want you back outside, anymore than forty minutes and we are coming in for you. Ok?"
The group moved to a quieter area of Diagon Alley, an alcove between shops, Ron and Hermione moved surreptitious in front to obstruct the view as Harry joined Draco under the invisibility cloak and the group disapparate into the compressed vacuum.
It took Harry and Draco fifteen minutes of their allocated thirty to find and get to Narcissa Malfoy and had involved some less than scrupulous acts, such as confuding the welcome witch. However, Draco eventually found himself in a private room, not dissimilar to the one he himself had recently vacated.
"I'm sorry Malfoy I cant leave the room but I will keep watch" Harry muttered to the blond and moved as far from the bed as possible "we don't have long". The blond nodded in Harry's direction, the face bleached of emotion. Narcissa Malfoy looked, Harry thought, almost like a manikin; rigid, lifeless and slightly eerie. As Draco moved a stray hair from his mother's forehead Harry turned his back on the private scene and heard the head of the Malfoy family begin to speak softly to his mother, though his words so gently spoken where inaudible to Harry and he was grateful for that.
Harry physically jumped into the air as the mobile phone in his right jean pocket began to vibrate against his leg, withdrawing it he whispered into the microphone "Hello"
"Harry, we have a serious problem. We need to get out of here now!"
"What? Why? What's happened?"
"The ministry has fallen. Scrimgeour is dead. They are coming"
"WHAT?! Who's coming? Hermione?!"
"No time. We have to get out of here now!"
"Draco. Its time to go, NOW!" Harry muttered in a horse whisper and the blond looked up confused
"I thought you said I had thirty minutes"
"Things have changed, Hermione says the Ministry has fallen" what little colour that belonged to the pale faced boy drained and even despite the sense of urgency he gently placed his own hand in his mothers and kissed the top of her hand and then carefully replacing it he scurried across the small room as Harry wrapped the cloak around them.
The two walked into total pandemonium; people running quickly through the corridors, confusion rained and it didn't take the two long to find out why as they reached the atrium; a small group of masked Death Eaters stood sentinel around the reception desk.
"I count five" Draco breathed into Harry's ear.
"Can we get out without attracting attention?"
"Move closer to the door. After three take the one on the left and then move straight for the door. One, Two, THREE"
The cape was pulled slightly aside to allow the two wizards to take aim. Draco pulled off a full body bind curse while Harry stupefied a short dumpy one. It took their fellows a moment to realise that something had happened and the two invisible men used this to their advantage and stepped out the door before curses flew over their heads. Stepping out into the cool early evening air Harry's eyes raked the surroundings, where the hell were Ron and Hermione. Draco pushed Harry forward and away from the hospital door "They will be after us in a moment". Moving quickly the pair crossed the quiet road and as they reached the other side two Death Eaters appeared.
"Where the fuck are they?" Draco hissed into Harry's ear
"I DON'T know!" but just as the words left his mouth he saw a flash of orange peak out from the corner of an alley several meters away "There" and Harry marched Draco in the direction of the alley. As they moved into the dirty alley, littered with old coke cans and crisp packets Harry drew the cloak off.
"Hermione, what the fuck is going on?" he demanded
"Harry, thank god. No time we have to go. Take my arm"
All three grabbed the bushy haired girls arm and she pulled the group into darkness. The ride was even more unpleasant than usual. Clearly side along apparition was tolerable but a group of four was almost impossible. The group landed and fell to their knees spluttering as Harry raised his head to take in their surroundings. Trees, lots of trees.
"Hermione" he heaved sucking in breaths "where are we?"
"Bedgebury forrest. I came here on holiday a year ago and it's not too far from London it's the best place I could come up with"
"What the hell is going on?" Draco cut in
"Lets get out of sight and then I promise we will tell you everything" she moved to her small bag and pulled out a small brown golf ball shaped object. Throwing the object on the ground she grasped her wand and spoke the word "Templum". The object grew rapidly in size, gaining height and circumference to form a perfect looking tree stump. Its base looked deeply rooted and was easily a meter wide. Hermione strode forward and tapped the top with her wand and stepped back as the top of the stump rose gently to reveal a small ladder.
"Come on" she indicated and began lowering herself gingerly down the small ladder. The three boys followed her down into a small homely looking living area with two small sofas and a table. To the sides were two doors and to the rear a small kitchenette as well as a further door in front. The top of the tree stump sealed itself back into place as Draco, the last of the group, stepped down into the small space.
"Hermione, final time! What.The.Fuck!" Harry repeated accentuating each word in turn.
"I just had a feeling this afternoon when we left, that something might happen and I was right wasn't I?"
Rolling his eyes Harry tried hard not to let his frustration get the better of him and Ron cut in fearing an outburst.
"After you went in we moved opposite the hospital to keep a better eye on things and my phone rang, my phone never rings! It was dad he told me that Death Eaters had just seized control of the Ministry! Apparently they killed Scrimgeour and then I don't know what happened we got cut off. Two minutes later a small group of Death Eaters entered the hospital and we called you to warn you. We can only assume that it's the same situation else where like the Hogs Head, Diagon Alley and Hogwarts. We just don't know. What is this place Mionie?"
"Its home; at least for the time being. I was speaking with Fred and George you see and I explained that I was looking for a secure place to stay a tent is just too obvious. So they came up with this, impressive isn't it? The object displayed externally, so the tree stump on this occasion, changes to its surroundings so if we were near a cliff then it would take on the appearance of a rock. Bedrooms to the left and to the right as well as the bathroom in front"
Harry's face contorted "Hang on a moment! Two bedrooms. You and Ron well that makes sense but doesn't this thing come in three bedroom models?"
"What's the matter Potter afraid I might attack you in your sleep?"
"Don't be stupid Malfoy but that doesn't mean I want to sleep with you" he blushed, coughed and continued "sleep in the same room as you I meant obviously"
"Sorry Harry but this is what we have so you will have to make do" Ron grinned in a malicious way clearly feeling that it was Harry's idea to get Malfoy involved so now he would have to deal with the consequences.
"Fine, whatever" Harry pouted
Ron and Draco moved to explore the bedrooms that Hermione had indicated but as Harry made to follow she intercepted him "Your phone Harry, can I have it?"
"Erm, sure, why don't you just use yours?" he said pulling it from his pocket and passing it to her
"I think we are safer without them" and she placed them on the floor in front of where the pair stood
"Hang on a moment! They were pretty useful back there!" Harry said stepping in front of her
"True, but I don't think we can take the risk that they can be traced and I think its much better that we stay focused, remove the temptation to ‘phone home'. It will just put others and us in harms way"
"Ok, fine" he said moving aside again
With a flick of her wand and a subsequent shattering noise both phones shattered into piece in front of them
"Well, its definitely just us now...Oh and Malfoy too I suppose" she said ....
"So there you have it Mr Cuffe I guess you could say that is the real beginning of our tale"
"Enthralling, enthralling" the journalist enthused rapturously "Of course we will be meeting next weekend as scheduled so that we can continue this aren't we?" he looked nervous as though this meeting had constituted next week's meeting in advance.
"Yeah I expect so"
"Good, good excellent! I am really looking forward to it."