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 Thirteen: A Bitter Night
Four figures stood close together around a weathered tree trunk dressed all in black. It was early October but the weather up in the peaks of the Scottish mountain betrayed a temperature more commonly associated with December or January. The wind whipped at the four figures disguising the sound of a female voice issuing last minute instructions
"Don't forget we do not apparate directly back to the house for any reason. We need to ensure we are not being followed. Harry is taking point andÉ" but the female voice was cut off.
"Mionie we know. We have been over this like a thousand times. Harry takes point; I cover the rear, you the left and Malfoy the right. Can we please just get going? I am freezing my arse off here"
"Fine. Lets go"
They had agreed that it made most sense to apparate discreetly a safe distance away from Hogsmede and then when night had well and truly closed in to make their way discreetly on foot to the small village. As part of their planning they had agreed it would be best to wait until well after midnight, when the pubs had shut, before making their attempt. In accordance with this plan they had apparated at one am to the mountain side a short hike away from Hogsmede.
"Should count ourselves lucky its not snowing I guess" Harry observed and pulled his balaclava up over his mouth to just under his nose
"Still a bit early" Draco muttered back
The four continued in silence with Harry leading the way. The path improved significantly, after initially a combination of walking and stumbling was required, as they wound their way down the side of the peak that they had apparated onto. As they approached the outskirts of the village Harry reached behind him and from under his black travelling cloak he pulled the shimmering invisibility cloak and wrapped it carefully around himself. In a well-polished movement the three remaining members of the group closed in a short distance to being back to back, in order to have the entire circumference covered.
"Five minutes Harry no more" Hermione warned and a disembodied arm appeared giving a `thumbs up' salute to the group. Harry was to scout the ground between their current location and Zonko's joke shop to ensure that there was no late night lock in at the Hogshead or other such obstacles that would prevent the group having smooth passage to the shop.
The path was quiet save for the eerie squeak of the Hogshead sign overhead moving gently back and forth in the breeze. Drawing his wand from where it was stowed in his trousers Harry approached the side door of Zonko's and tapped the front door "Alohomora" he whispered pointing the wand at the doorknob, but nothing happened. Cursing under his breath Harry traced his footsteps back the short distance that he had left the others and found all three with their wands drawn.
"Its me" he whispered pulling the hood down exposing his face "What's up?"
"Nothing, Malfoy thought he heard something. Just a precaution. How's it looking?
"Path is clear but as we suspected Zonko has placed some wards or other protection around the place to stop a simple Alohomora working"
"Fine, we go to plan b, come on" Hermione confirmed
Harry set out once again at the front of the moving diamond his disembodied head bobbing along having failed to remove the cloak or replaced the hood. It added a further eerier feel to the alley as the Hogshead sign continued to squeak in the wind as they approached it.
A distinct sound halted the four in their tracks as a heavy lock was dragged back from a doorway in front. The four moved quickly to the side of the building they were currently passing and crouched down. Harry drew the invisibility cloaks hood back around himself as the others shrunk into small balls to avoid detection.
"Night Ab" a short grimy looking man called in farewell and the preceding sound of the door clicking back into place and the bolt being refastened greeted their ears. The group maintained their posture as Harry followed the dumpy man to ensure he was moving a safe distance away. When he was satisfied the group continued until they found themselves confronted by the locked Zonko's door.
Draco now moved closest to the door and Harry took up his place on the right hand side facing outwards to the group. They had agreed that in the event of a warded entrance that Draco would work to gain the team access. Malfoy Manor had many many wards including some that had been on the plot for multiple generations. Whilst The Burrow had some wards Ron was significantly far down the inheritance chain not to have had a great deal of experience with them, where as Draco as next inline and of such complex wards was vastly more experienced.
"I am going to need a few minutes" the blond whispered
He set to work with his wand and worked determinedly through the layers of protection that had been carefully established to protect against the average intruder.
"How much longer?" Hermione questioned after five minutes
"Damn Granger you nearly caused me to set off a caterwauling charm. I am not doing this for the fun of it; I will be as quick as I possibly can"
Looking positively scolded Hermione returned to facing outwards and a further ten minutes elapsed though nobody, not even Ron, plucked up the courage to ask Draco how much longer he would be. Finally the tall blond spoke with a breathless, drained voice "Alohomora"; the lock clicked as it retracted back from the door and Draco clasped the handle and opened the door almost falling inside the door.
"Draco, are you ok?" Harry rushed forward and offered some support to the blond
"Yeah fine, just a little drained. It's easier to manipulate wards when you have permission that for sure". Harry helped to moved the blond across the shop and sat him down on a seat in the corner "Don't move, you have done enough for now"
The group fanned out and began casting a charm that Hermione had found during their research that would identify, through a red hue, strong concentrations of magic.
"Don't forget what I told you about the Horcrux in the cave; it was subject to magical enchantment and protection. Once you find a possibility we will look together"
The group moved systematically around the shop and after thirty minutes Draco too moved from the chair he had been deposited and began to case the spell to identify plausible locations.
"This isn't working, I don't think its here Harry" Hermione spoke fifteen minutes after Draco had joined the hunt.
"But it must be here Granger! Where else could it be?" Draco insisted
"Well that memory you saw by all accounts was rather old maybe it was moved or maybe You Know Who moved it after he realised you weren't dead? I don't know but the fact remains we have been searching this twenty square meter shop for the past forty five minutes and found nothing"
"The Dark Lord would not have moved his Horcrux, you forget something Grange he is confident in his own abilities. Also he does not know I am with you, for all he knows I am dead or running for my life. No its here"
Hermione made to argue but Harry forestalled her "Hermione what Draco says is right. It is highly unlikely he would have moved it. Dumbledore always said that he would choose a location because of its significance to him or its prestige. This has both. But you are right; it's clearly not in the shop itself"
"That makes sense doesn't it?" Ron piped up
"Well if were hiding a piece of my soul I wouldn't want to leave it in the most frequently explored area of the building, would you? All the kids that come poking around in here every day? I would put is somewhere less obtrusive"
"Of course Ron, how could I have been so stupid?! We should be looking for a cellar or a backroom or something similar"
The group moved towards the backroom and proceeded to spend the next forty minutes prodding around, casting the diagnosis spell in every crook and cranny.
"We are running out of time. It's just gone four thirty we need to hurry up or we will be moving from here in day light" Hermione warned as she stepped over a faded emerald green rug to where Ron was standing.
"Wait a moment. Ron help me move this" As the two moved the thinning rug aside a trap door with an iron ring the size of a galleon presented itself "I thought the floor felt uneven. Help me lift it"
Ron moving forward assisted his girlfriend in pulling open the trap door and a thin layer of dust that had been surrounding the gaps fell down into the hole.
"It's like Quirrell all over again" Harry muttered as he shone his wand into the newly exposed cavity. The drop was not that great; around twelve foot from the shop level to the basement floor and a rickety ladder was revealed.
"At least one of you need to stay here to ensure we can get back out" Harry requested as he grasped his wand tightly and clasped hold of the ladder, it looked as likely to snap as it was hold his weight. A moment later and with a graceful plop Hermione joined him; a logical choice to continue as she was undoubtedly the brighter of the foursome. A tussle ensued above and shortly there after Ron appeared.
"He was still drained from breaking the wards anyway" Ron offered as an explanation
The basement was confined and surrounded with stores for the joke shop that had clearly not been accessed for sometime; a thick layer of dust coated the room and Ron sneezed as he took in a few breaths.
The three quickly cast the identification spell and in the corner furthest from the trap door a bright red haze erupted.
"You found it!" a disembodied head called peering down from the trap door
"Fuck Draco! I am almost shat myself then! Loud, sudden noises are not appreciated just now" Harry scolded
The three moved carefully over to where the red haze was pulsing to be confronted with an ordinary flat wall.
"With Dumbledore he cut himself and made an offer of blood to the wall in order to gain access. Would it be the same here?" Harry looked expectantly at Hermione
Whilst the group had planned every meticulous detail of their approach to Hogsmede and getting into the shop as soon as they were in the planning got sketchy. After all how could you plan for something you knew very little about?
"Possibly, I think we will have to try, though I would be surprised if he used the same defences for each Horcrux"
Before anyone could act Ron ran his wand across his own palm causing a minor abrasion to appear.
"Ron! Hermione scolded
"It makes sense Hermione, your the clever one and Harry is the one who has to defeat him. Plus I am a pure blood" and he wiped the blood covered palm over the rock face but nothing happened.
"So we have established that he doesn't use the same defences twice I suppose"
"Hey! What's going on?" the disembodied head called again
"Cant get through the security, he hasn't used the same defences as in the cave"
"Look around you and tell me what you see"
"Stores; lots of barrels & boxes, some shelves with containers stacked on them. The floor is solid but dusty and there is an old fashioned torch on the wall. Also behind us, closest to you, is a pile of old rope"
"Hummm, I don't like the sound of this Harry" Draco said
"We don't have time to debate this, what are you seeing that I'm not" Harry asked
"The torch, it seems unusual to have a torch in what is a relatively small room, especially as any wizard could cast a lumos should they need to inspect a darker corner"
"Go on" Harry prompted
"I think you will need to light that torch but be prepared not to hang around when you do because I can't think it will be good for your health"
"Look you two we are not going to debate this I want you guys to back up and I will light it and see what happens" Hermione looked as if she was about to object but Ron laid a hand over her arm and pulled her back towards the trap door end of the room. After checking that the two where a safe distance away Harry jabbed his wand in the direction of the torch and it caught alight, only the flames were purple and when Harry held his hand to the flame it was quite cool.
"Erm now what?" Harry asked
"I would guess that you move it closer to the corner but be prepared whatever happens will not be a picnic" Draco shouted back
Harry grasped the torch and slid it from the mount it had occupied for some considerable time and walked carefully but steadily back to the corner where the firey hue was still gathered.
"Ok after three, two, one!" and Harry jabbed the purple flame into the corner. Immediately and without warning the purple flame caught and spread around encircling the room. The flame danced over the wooden chests and barrels not burning or catching fire but as it spread a barely visible purple gas began filling the room.
"HARRY! We have to go NOW!" Hermione shouted
"Get back! Get back up the ladder! A small opening has appeared and I can see the Horcrux. I am going to grab it when you two are safely out of here and then I will join you. NO BUTS Hermione, I can't risk taking this and then have us queue to get out of here. Go NOW!"
"Come on Granger. Don't argue the longer he is down there the more susceptible he will be to whatever that shit is" Draco called from the ceiling and Hermione reluctantly left the room, with Ron behind her.
"I am taking it now!" Harry called and made a swipe for the silver thimble. The moment his hand made contact with the Horcrux and he pulled it into his grasp the purple flame reacted and the hazy vapour thickened in an instant and began filling the room. Simultaneously a hand enclosed around Harry's wrist. Not a hand of flesh and blood but a veiled, translucent purple hand held him in place. The hole in the floor refused to relinquish its treasures so freely.
"I'm trapped!" Harry managed to call between coughs as the thick purple gas penetrated his lungs. It burned, a sensational pain of the subtlest poignancy. It stung like bees constantly piercing his chest and he fell back to his knees.
Ron meanwhile had placed his right foot back onto the ladder and almost fell back into the basement as the ladder gave way below him. Draco had however, caught hold of the boys black jumper and heaved him back into the room. "Think Weasley!! This isn't a fun fair. We have set off a series of events that will conspire to prevent Harry from leaving"
"So what do you suggest we just leave him?" Ron's tone dripped scorn as a terrifying scream rent the air from below them.
"Don't be a prick. Of course not!"
Draco pointed the unicorn and phoenix wand at himself casting the Bubble-Head charm used to great effect by Fleur Delacour and Cedric Diggory during the Triwizard cup and he jumped athletically into the want to be tomb. Draco moved rapidly into the furthest most corner to find Harry lying on the floor covered in dust and dirt convulsing as his arm remained steadfastly held in place. Pointing his wand at Harry he repeated the bubble-head charm at Harry whose face became instantly surrounded by a pocket of clean air. Without a second thought Draco reached down into the cavity to try and pull Harry's arm clear. His body had stopped convulsing and he lay quite still now. Taking aim again Draco called through the bubble headed charm "RELASHIO!" He hadn't really expected such a simple spell to actually work and fell over backwards as the invisible arm released its prey.
Draco was beginning to feel woozy and could feel what seemed like small pin pricks digging into his chest and watched in horror as his bubble-head charm began to collapse around his face. Putting his arms under Harry's prone figure he dragged him across the floor towards the trapdoor. He could see two petrified faces staring down at him.
"Well!?! Get us the fuck out of here!" he bellowed.
Something in his panic seemed to steady Hermione and her face grew resolute. Pointing her wand back down into the gap she called "Wingardium Leviosa" whilst pointing her wand at Harry's lifeless figure. Under her watchful eye he floated gently towards the trap door until Ron could make a lunge for him and heaved him up and onto the floor. By now Draco's bubble-head charm was falling away and the tiny pin pricks in his chest now more closely resembled a deep and repetitive stabbing motion until he felt his feet leave the ground and he too was heaved up and away from the trap door which Hermione promptly kicked forcefully closed on the purple gas below. Draco lay flat out on the floor and wretched. His insides emptied all over the floor in front of him.
With all the determination he possessed he pushed himself up onto his knees and turned to watch Hermione cast a `Rennervate' on Harry's lip form. Draco's eyes drifted down to see a sparkle of light in Harry's right hand.
"He got it" he muttered and then his ears where greeted with a sound he would, up onto that point, never have associated with good news, wretching. Hermione had rolled Harry onto his side and he too threw up all over the wooden floor.
"Ron, we need to get them out of here. He is as close to stable as I could hope for and I can't do much more without materials" Hermione instructed
"Right! You take Malfoy; it looks like he may not need so much support and I can carry Harry" Ron said
"Wait!" She called as Ron bent down to lift Harry and she quickly cast a cleaning charm that vanished the vomit and reinstated the threadbare rug over the trapdoor. Hermione moved quickly to Draco and supported him to his feet.
"Granger" his voice was barely auditable "You won't be able to apparate in here, we need to get outside. You also need to cause a distraction in the shop; we don't have the time to reconstruct the wards and we will need to divert attention from this room"
"Yes, yes of course" and she helped support the Slytherin as they exited the room. Just before leaving Hermione paused in the doorway and pointed her wand into the corner of the joke shop before muttering `Reducto' the sound of shattering and breaking wood was ear splitting against the silence of the night but without pausing to give it any further consideration she clasped Malfoy's arm tightly and pulled them both into compressing darkness.
As they expanded back into being just beside a familiar tree stump Draco collapsed onto his knees and threw up again. But as Hermione turned to help him Ron's voice cut through the air "Hermione he has stopped breathing again!"
"Quick Ron; get him downstairs" and she slipped quickly into the tree stump. She ran to the bedroom that she and Ron shared and came running back to the living room brushing past the elf that seemed astounded by the goings on.
She pulled Harry's mouth open and upturned a runny yellow potion down Harry's throat before casting another series of `Rennervate's' on Harry who after the third sucked in a deep breath of air and began thrashing around.
"Ron hold his head still so I can pour this in" a second potion of deepest red flowed from the vial and Harry became motionless.
"Its ok" she assured him "I have induced a magical coma for at least twenty four hours. It will help him physically and magically recover. The effects of the potion will wear off then and we can ascertain if he will require further treatment"
At this point a loud crash ensued as Draco fell down the steep steps into the tree stump.
"I think it would be best to do the same for Malfoy too. Ron please shut and secure the entrance. Malfoy let me help you to your bed and then you will drink this"
"What is it?" he eyed her suspiciously
"Honestly do you really think I am going to poison you? I just gave the same to Harry. It will take you into a protective sleep and help you recover"
Hermione fussed and Ron paced, until he was finally assured that Harry was stable and was then sent to bed too. Several hours later they swapped duties and Ron kept watch over the two peacefully slumbering figures as she showered and slept.
Neither was entirely sure but Kreacher had seemed to think that they had returned at around five am. Around twelve hours later, as Hermione had stepped into the kitchen to make a cup of tea, a deep groan emanated from Draco and she walked briskly back into the bedroom in a very Madam Pomfrey-esk way
"Are you ok?" she asked
"My head, it feels like three goblins have been dancing all night long on it"
"Wait a moment" and she walked back to her supply of potions before retuning to the prone blond and ordering him to "drink up"
"Thanks" he said five minutes later "What was that?"
"Erm, actually it was a hangover cure. How are you feeling?"
"Inventive. Feeling like I have been hit by the knightbus"
"Not really all together surprising. Shall I run you a bath?"
Draco and Hermione from that point onwards had reached a new common understanding. He had risked his neck for the wellbeing of the group and she had helped him get better. Hermione doubted they would ever become best friends or anything like that! But a general increase in understanding can never be a bad thing.
Hermione inspected Harry at a little before five AM the following morning and determined that a further dose of the ruby potion was required. So the process was repeated for a further four days. Ron and Hermione by this point were well rested and whilst Draco could not claim the same just yet he was feeling a great deal better. He had taken to sitting with Harry, particularly of an evening time when he had insisted that Ron and Hermione rest, before the 5AM examination.
On the fifth night he was sat in the chair, having ushered Ron & Hermione to bed, next to Harry's bed reading a book that Hermione had described as a `light read', `101 poisons magical gases and their antidotes', when a gentle groan emitted from Harry.
"Harry" he responded taking up his hand and rubbing it in what he hoped was a soothing way
"Here am was I?"
"Am was I here?!" he asked again this time a little agitated
"You're safe Harry, its Draco. You are in bed in the tree stump. I will be back in just a moment I need to get Hermione she will want to know that you are coming around"
Hermione came at top speed bring with her another vial of hangover cure that seemed to have worked so well on Draco a few days previously. As the potion took effect Harry's eyes gained focus and he took in his surroundings "Hey" he said softly
"Hello Mate!" Ron exclaimed slapping the side of his arm in what was intended to be an affectionate way and earned him a reproachful look from both Draco and Hermione
The three summarised the events following the discovery of the torch in the basement though Draco turned red as Hermione explained in great detail how Draco had saved his life.
"Handy to have around aren't you?" Harry cracked a faint smile before Hermione ordered him to rest and that `if he behaved, he maybe permitted a bath when he woke up'.
"You too Draco, you need to rest too. Ok?"
"You called me by my first name"
"Yeah I guess I did" she confirmed "Don't avoid the subject though I want you to rest too"
"Yes I will" and she turned her back and pulled the door closed behind her
"Your not going to leave me are you?" the weak voice questioned
"Not if you don't want me to"
"Scoot over a bit then"
Draco dragged his duvet off the bed and pulled it up over himself and held Harry's hand in his own, not wanting to place any additional pressure by wrapping an arm around his chest and lungs.
"So you saved my life?"
"Seems that way"
Harry gently pulled Draco's hand to his mouth and laid a tender little kiss on it "My hero!"
"If you weren't ill Potter I would say you were taking the piss. But being as how you are ill I will put your mental frailty down to your condition. Now go to sleep"