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 Twelve: Extraction
There was a jostling as he felt himself being gently rocked "Wake up Harry"
"Ughh, what is it?"
"Time for a run"
"You're joking, right?" and he pushed a finger into the corner of his eye to rub the sleep away
"No, now get up. I will wait for you"
Harry through back the duvet and very begrudgingly sat up to rub the remaining sleep from his eyes before pulling his glasses on. The room came into sharp focus with the blond haired Draco waiting at the door and Harry threw his tired legs over the side of the bed. "Now who's checking out who Mal, I mean Draco"
"You wish four eyes now hurry up and I will wait outside"
Forty five minutes later found Harry and Draco back at their tree stump only to find Ron and Hermione searching frantically around the area.
"Where the hell have you two been?" Ron asked accusatorially
"Been for a run and apparently its healthy but you could have fooled me!" Harry wheezed
"It is healthy! Anyways you were the one complaining yesterday that I shouldn't take off alone and I was told to build up my muscles so we didn't have much choice"
"Can I go back to bed now?" Harry asked beseechingly
"No!" Hermione snapped "We have work to do!"
"What's for breakfast?" Ron looked inquiringly in Hermione's direction
"I don't know RonRon, what are you making us for breakfast? And Harry please, if you are going to just up and leave could you at least leave a note? You scared us half to death"
"But I can't cook breakfast!" Ron moaned
"Why not?" Hermione snapped in response
"Dunno how! Harry, call Kreacher he can do it!" Hermione looked scandalised but before she could object Harry had rationalised that the house elf no matter how obnoxious represented an easy way to ensure the provision of decent meals and a tidy house or stump or whatever it was
"HARRY! NO!" Hermione called but it was too late the elf had appeared with a loud CRACK but he had not arrived alone four hulking figures had been pulled through the compressing darkness of Kreacher's apparition to the forest floor attached by a faint wispy vapour that was attached to the elf's legs and arms
"SHIT!" Draco shouted as he threw himself over a fallen tree and watched a fierce looking green curse fly above his head and pulled his new unicorn and phoenix hawthorn wand from the back pocket of the white shorts he had been running in. Harry and Hermione had taken shelter behind a large oak tree that had been a short distance from where they were arguing before Harry had summoned the house elf. Ron's situation was more precarious with no obvious cover between the strangers in the camp and him.
"Hermione is the tree closed up?!"
"The tree is it closed!"
"We can come back for it!"
The situation was deteriorating rapidly as Ron's shield charm began to weaken. Harry glanced around the edge of the tree but pulled back just in time as a sinister red curse flew right past his face.
"We are pinned down!"
"Cover me while I move to Draco and then we will cover you" Harry instructed his frizzy haired best friend and then he started running1 for the log where Draco was laying in the leaves.
"We have to cover Hermione!" he instructed as the fallen tree that was offering protection was battered with spells but just as he was about to make his move a sound chilled his soul, Ron screaming and Harry chanced a glance over the top of the fallen oak. He could see Ron hoisted into the air and one of the four interlopers shout to his comrades "I got one, he's secure"
"Shit, Shit, Shit!! We have to help Ron" Harry shouted
"Go right I will go left" Draco muttered and the two boys moved to flanking positions at the edges of the fallen stump.
Both boys moved at the same time and fired stunning jinxes in the direction of their assailants. Draco's hit one of the four squarely in the chest and his feet locked together and he fell backwards into the ground savagely hitting the edge of a nearby tree stump. Harry's curse had sailed wide but Hermione, clocking onto the impending action, had appeared right behind one of the aggressors and shot a stunning jinx directly into his back at point blank range before taking the high ground and threw a Conjunctivitis Curse at a nearby interloper, the man fell to his knees clutching his face and the fourth man standing received three jinx's into his chest from all three wands before falling face first into the solid ground.
"Holy Shit" Harry heaved breathing deeply as he slumped forwards to catch his breath "Note to self don't ever, ever do something that fucking stupid again"
Hermione had rushed over to Ron's prone form whilst Draco with several idle flicks of his new wand had gathered the four figures and tied them together back to back.
"I think he will be ok. Stunned and a bit battered but nothing that can't be mended. We were bloody lucky Harry" Hermione called to the two remaining conscious people in the clearing
"What are we going to do with them? Kill them? They'd kill us. They had a good go just now" Draco asked nodding in the direction of the four captives
"We just need to wipe their memories. It's better like that; it'll throw them off the scent. If we killed them it'd be obvious we were here" Harry observed
"Fine. I will deal with these four go and check on the elf" Draco said
"Relashio" Harry muttered pointing his wand at the prone elf and the four wispy strands fell for the elf's limbs. The elf itself seemed conflicted as if the recent turn of events had confused it or that some how it was unable to process the recent events.
"Master saved Kreacher?"
"Well…" Harry began and trailed off before Draco intervened calling across a resolute "Yes! We saved you Kreacher and we need your help" The internal struggle was visibly raging in the knee height creature. Harry could only imagine the thought process – his pureblood heritage and the vile Mrs Black to whom he had been incredibly loyal vs. the half blood, blood traitor that had just saved him from incarceration.
"Kreacher lives to serve his Master, defender of house elves" and he took a low bow
"Hermione I am assuming we can move the tent, house, the tree stump can we move it to another location?"
"Of course we can"
"What's the charm?"
"Kreacher take Hermione and Ron to…to…"
"Thetford Forest Park" Draco supplied
"Then come back for Draco and I" Harry cut in
Whilst the elf took his friends to their new location Harry performed the charm on the tree stump, that shrunk dramatically in front of his eyes until a small walnut shaped ball was all that remained of their accommodation before he moved over to Draco and put his hand on the blonds shoulder
"Thanks you saved our arses back there"
"Yeah well, wouldn't want it wasted" the side of Draco's lip curled into the hint of a familiar sneer from their school days
Harry's forehead furrowed but before he could dwell on this obscure comment the house elf had reappeared and clasped onto his arm along with Draco's and disapparated them to the same location as Ron and Hermione.
When they reappeared Harry dropped the Walnut shaped ball to the ground and quickly re-established their underground bunker.
When safely below, Harry spent the following ten minutes steadfastly avoiding Hermione's disapproving look as he laid out the rules to the house elf who had protested fervently about being removed from his mistresses house despite the clear change in circumstances following Harry `rescue' of the elf. Harry had been firm but, at least in Draco's opinion, more than fair in explaining that he was not to speak to anyone except the four occupants of the `tent' in any form. He was to provide meals, keep the place tidy and in return was given a cupboard in which to live during his stay.
"Well that was a somewhat unexpected start to the day" Ron summed up as the smell of bacon and eggs Kreacher was preparing stirred him into speech and breaking the silence of their research. Hermione sniffed dispassionately clearly refusing to join the conversation whilst still abjectly disapproving of both Harry's carelessness at bringing intruders so close to their hideout but also summon the house elf in the first place.
The groups research was split clearly into two parts Draco and Harry, Ron had refused to work with Draco, who were beginning to formulate a plan for securing the Horcrux by sketching maps of the layout of Hogsmede and Zonko's and considering the security that may have been put in place to protect it. Ron and Hermione meanwhile had been researching methods through which such a dark magical object may be destroyed.
The atmosphere in the room Draco, had mentally classified as `strained' Ron and he were never going to see eye to eye the same as Malfoy's and Weasley's hadn't for generations, it would take nothing short of a miracle to change that! Hermione was not talking to anyone unless it pertained to a Horcrux question as Draco was just finding out, her moods could stretch for longer periods of time than he thought possible. As for Harry, well he had though he had understood Harry but was fast coming to the conclusion that he hadn't scratched the surface.
The situation followed the same pattern for several weeks – Draco would wake Harry and they would run, have breakfast and then research for the day. Much to Harry's surprise he and Draco had worked well as a team; his impulse to charge in was tempered by Draco's logical and thoughtful approach whilst Draco's lack of experience in both overcoming the dark arts and in being involved with such challenging quests allowed Harry to observe and consider situations with greater depth.
At the end of the third week of their travels Draco pushed his book shut and slid it across the table
"I'm off to bed"
Harry glanced up from his book, smiled and said "See you in a while Draco" then returned his focus to the book he was studying. Harry could feel the two sets of eyes piercing him across the table he couldn't see them of course, he was focused steadfastly on his book, but he knew they were there. It took a moment to dawn on him but this was actually the first natural moment he had had alone with Hermione and Ron since the expedition had begun. Often Hermione and Ron would turn in first or Harry himself would go and listen to his music, often rapidly followed by Draco. It was clear that he still did not feel comfortable in their company alone.
"You and Malfoy seem to be getting along well" Ron acknowledged. It wasn't a question, more an observation
"I don't see how you can stand the ferret"
"His name Ron, is Draco" Harry sighed already exasperated with the conversation
"Why do you go running with ferret boy every morning?"
Harry ignored him. It was the easiest thing to do.
"I think what Ron is trying to say, rather inarticulately, is that you haven't forgotten who he is, have you Harry?"
"Hermione, I am perfectly well aware of who he is and isn't. If you spent sometime in his company you might realise that he isn't the same person that we knew in Hogwarts"
"We do spend time with him everyday and he is still a git!" Ron snapped
Harry closed the book he had been studying and patiently slid it across the table, drawing in a deep breath "No Ron, you occupy a similar space in the same room everyday. You never take the time to talk to him. Which I can perfectly well understand; the guy was a wanker at school. I am not denying that and I expect if he could swallow his pride he would admit that too. But the difference between you and me is that I have been forced to spend time with him to talk to him. I was there when he saw his mother, I was the one who had to tell him his father was dead, I was the one who fought to get him extracted from what would have been a very short sentence in Azkaban and I am the one who has had to share a room with him. Just one of those events would change a person but all these events can make you a very different person. You guys are totally entitled to your opinions of him but please don't insult him around me at least consider making a bit more of an effort?
Ron looked angry as if Mrs Weasley had just given him a good dressing down and Hermione looked a little sheepish.
"But Harry this is the guy that got Dumbledore killed, that called me a mudblood and has been a bastard for the last six or more years. I am not saying that he shouldn't be here, clearly he has and is important to us to get rid of the Horcrux's, but that doesn't mean I can just forget and forgive all the thing he has done"
"I am not asking you too Hermione. I am simply asking you to consider the fact that people change. Has he once called you a mudblood over the past month or so?"
"So at least some part of him must be different"
"What do you plan to do with him once we have destroyed the Zonko's Horcrux?" Ron asked
This question caught Harry rather off guard; they had been so focused on planning the raid on the Hogsmede shop that he hadn't really stopped to think about what they would do after. Draco wasn't needed after, his knowledge would become obsolete.
"I don't know"
"WHAT!?" Ron practically bellowed across the table. "Harry this is a total non question. We carry on without him as we had originally planned. The only reason I said he could come along was because he had knowledge about this Horcrux" Ron must have known he had crossed the invisible line of Harry, and for that matter Hermione's tolerance, because he immediately back tracked "I didn't mean that to sound like I choose what we do but I have a say, right?"
"You have a say Ron. The same as we all do. Anyway it doesn't matter what happens to Malfoy at the moment. The most important thing is we get rid of the Horcrux we know about" Hermione corrected him in a hope of defusing what was fast becoming an unpleasant conversation. She cast a fleeting glance at Harry and found that her effort had made little difference to his mood.
"I think I'm done for the day. Night" It was curt and he may regret it later that evening when he couldn't get to sleep but it was better than the alternative. Harry extracted himself from the table and silently crept into the room, pulled on his pyjamas and climbed into bed.
"Thanks" came a small voice
"Did you hear all that?"
"Don't be. Thanks for sticking up for me. You are right though"
"No problem. About what?"
"I am a different person. I want to tell you something"
"I never wanted Dumbledore dead. You know better than most, on the light side at least, what it is like to be around the Dark Lord. In the summer holidays after fifth year I was summoned to represent the Malfoy family after father was arrested. He told me that if I failed my mission my family would be punished. I didn't have any choice". The blond sniffed and Harry could see his eyes shimmering in the light from the window then rolled over to face away from Harry. Seeing the blond at his point of vulnerability was probably the only reason that Harry did it. He was not well known for his confidence in emotional situations but in that moment Harry realised that the blond needed him. He pulled the duvet off his own bed and shuffled across to Draco's bed; fell down beside him and reached an arm over him to pull him into a close embrace.
"I want to tell you something Draco" Harry whispered and the blond shuddered as Harry's breath hit the back of his neck "I know you weren't going to kill Dumbledore. I was on the tower that night hidden under an invisibility cloak and even knowing the cost to you and your family I saw that you were not going to strike Dumbledore down. I don't know you really Draco. I know you are a pompous ass when you choose to be. But, call me stupid, I recon you are alright deep down" Silence followed and Harry mused thoughtfully of how comfortable he felt close to the blond in front of him.
It took another week. Another week of painful slog. But with great surprise the breakthrough came from a decaying potions book that Ron was examining.
"I think, I think I have something here" Hermione lifted her nose for the inches it had been from her own book and gently picked up the old book.
After a short pause she exclaimed "YES! Yes Ron! That would definitely work or at the very least it would weaken it sufficiently for an ordinary piece of magic to finish it off!"
Despite being startled about the step change in their luck Harry managed to splutter "what is it? How does it work?"
"It's a form of magical acid. You could take a standard muggle acid and place a highly magical object into it and not much would happen to it because the magic would protect the object. But if you take the premise of an acid that will eat through objects and fuse it with magical energy then in effect you have a magical acid that WOULD consume the object or as I say at the very least weaken it considerably to make it susceptible to other forms of magic" Hermione reeled off at speed.
"Great so lets make a batch, steel the Horcrux and kill it. Right?"
"Wrong. This potion or acid, what ever you want to call it, is at its most potent when it is freshly brewed. We get the Horcrux and then make the potion"
"Have we everything required to brew this potion?" Harry looked up surprised as Draco made this enquiry across the table. Harry and Draco often exchanged conversation at night before bed from the polite distance of their own beds, there had been no pretext for Harry to go and comfort Draco again much to his disappointment, but Draco rarely spoke in front of the other two.
Hermione flushed a hint of red "Thanks to you we do. It requires scorpion venom"
"Well done Draco!" Harry exclaimed and patted him on the back. The blond looked up and offered Harry a sincere smile, which was returned to him with interest.
"We need to review the plan and if possible perform any practice. We shouldn't leave this too long though before we act" Hermione concluded