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 Seventeen: Certo Assimulo
It was a cold morning and as Harry looked around the clearing he could see the light shimmer of frost as the moon glimmering off the leaves that graced the forest floor. The group had agreed that it made sense to move frequently from location to location in order to provide some additional assurance that they could not be traced. Yesterday they had aparated to a forest densely populated with trees in the Lake District of Northern England. The changes in location had limited impact on the group's daily routine that was now a firm foundation from which they operated.
As part of that routine Harry and Draco were often to be found awake in advance of Ron and Hermione. This gave them time to ensure that they were not caught in a compromising situation and it also allowed them to get their run in before the start of the day's research and scouting missions. This morning was slightly different though. The duo had awoken earlier than usual to put into practice their plan. Being November and early morning it was still dark however, the duo had chosen the clearing, which they currently stood in, because it was doused in the crisp moonlight.
"So do you know what this spell actually does?" Harry asked pulling his thick hoody jumper tighter around his chest to protect himself from the frost in the air
"Not exactly; the book wasn't very specific. All I know is that it analyses our magical core and will create adversaries for us to practice against at a corresponding level. It didn't say what sort of form they would take but I am assuming it will be human"
"Right; well we had best be on our guard for pretty much anything"
"Agreed" the blond replied and licked his lips in anticipation. He and Harry had been practicing defensive and offensive spells for weeks prior to their run every day. Initially it had started with Harry revisiting spells that he had taught Dumbledore's Army in the fifth year. Draco was not only an attentive `pupil' but a quick learner. Draco mastered spells that had consumed three or four DA sessions within one or two sessions.
After the first week it had become a much more collaborative exchange of knowledge. Draco would share some of the `lighter' Dark Magic that his father had taught him. `Don't be prejudice Harry, it is not cut and dry, Dark Magic is not in of itself evil. Its application can serve both `good' and `evil'. Part of the reason that people perceive Dark Magic as `evil' is that it is significantly more offensive than defensive. But we need to be prepared for the fact that in certain situations we will need to be on the offensive'. From that point on they exchanged and practiced spells.
"So are you casting or am I?"
"We have to tell the spell how we want to practice, so together as a pair, or it will only assess the casters magic"
"Ok; so how do we do that then?"
"We have to be in physical contact and cast the spell simultaneously. Give me your hand and on the count of three, ok?"
"Look Dray if you want to hold my hand you don't need to ask"
"Oh shut up Potter"
Taking Draco's hand into his own Harry felt a tingle of anticipation run through him. The feel of the white blonds hand in his own was enthralling and left him wanting more.
"After three, two, one"
"Certo Assimulo" they both muttered together and a bright purple light erupted from the end of both wands and encircled them connecting together at both ends to form a circle with Harry and Draco in the middle. As the ends merged into one, the circle began to contract and Harry gasped as the edge of the circle touched him for the first time, it was as though a ghost had swept straight through him, it continued to reduce in size through them until eventually it disappeared into nothing.
They paused, glancing around their immediate surroundings, to see what form the spell would take and in that moment of hesitation Draco's legs snapped together and he fell forward onto the ground, hit with a `leg locker' curse, Harry too faired little better falling into a fit of sneezing from a well placed jinx that struck him in the chest. Four faceless figures had appeared either side of them of identical shape, size and height and they cursed indiscriminately. Draco quickly muttered the counter curse and flicked his wand in Harry's direction to cure the sneezing boy. Due to the positioning of their assailants limited cover was to be found and both erected shield charms as further curses bore down on their position.
Harry was the first to act dropping his shield for an instant and responding in kind with a stunning jinx that hit its mark first time. From that point on they dispatched the other three figures quickly. Draco leaning all too closely for Harry's liking to the more familiar, for him at least, Dark Magic spells.
As they walked from the clearing back to their tree the two agreed that whilst quick the practice had been intense. They needed to learn how to work more effectively as a team and vowed never to be caught short again by hesitation.
Both had paused by the entrance to the tree in an awkward moment knowing that yet again they would have to distance themselves from each other during the day. Though they had not discussed it in any detail it was clear to Harry that he was becoming more dependent on Draco and he on him. On several occasions he had caught himself reaching for Draco whilst researching some point of magic with the others in the same room. It was a physical desire to touch his former nemesis and to reassure himself of Draco's presence next to him. He was pretty sure that Draco had found himself in similar situations passing off unusual movements in Harry's direction by pointing at a random line in a book he had been reading. He wanted Draco, it was clear to him now. He wanted him emotionally, physically and Harry only hoped that Draco felt the same way. The two melted into a close embrace and sprang apart again almost instantly as a distant snap of a nearby piece of wood cracking filtered through to their ears.
Harry was instantly on alert with his wand drawn and straining hard to hear any further suspect noises.
"Quick! Let's get back down" Draco muttered in an urgent whisper. Harry turned towards the now familiar tree stump to obey the command when a soft, vaguely familiar voice reached his ears along with the sound of more snapping twigs and the displacement of leaves and debris as the person or persons approached their position.
"There ought to be a few rabbits around here, or d'you reckon they won't be out this early? Accio rabbit"
There was a rush of movement and a sound of scrabbling as, what Harry assumed, a rabbit or two had been summoned directly to the interloper's feet. There was an audible crack followed by another and a much softer voice spoke "that is disgusting" and Harry almost jumped in shock as the voice of fellow Gryffindor Dean Thomas reached his ears.
"That's fine with us boy, you wont be wanting anything to eat then?"
"Goblins" Draco whispered into Harry's ear. Harry felt the thrill of Draco's soft breath pass over his ear and the exhilaration at being close to other people, outside of his fellow companions, for the first time in months.
"I want to get closer. Cast a disillusionment charm on me, please?"
"Harry I am not sure this is a good idea"
"Come on!" Harry whispered urgently back in the blonds direction "we don't have time to argue. I just want to be able to hear what they are saying. I am not going to give us away!"
"You best not Potter or you will have me to answer to" Draco's threat hung in the air as he rapped his wand on the top of the Harry's head. The familiar sensation of a raw egg being cracked open and sliding down his body ensued. "Will never get used to that. Stay here I will be back"
Moving stealthily through the under growth Harry approached the small group and he noted with some interest that the group consisted of two goblins, Dean and two male figures that had their backs to him.
"Incendio" the shorter of the men said and turned to face the rest of the group. Harry had to smother a small start as he recognised Ted Tonks, the father of Nymphadora Tonks, member of The Order of the Phoenix.
One of the goblins moved forward, wiped a knife on a nearby tuft of grass, and passed two skinned rabbits to the taller man who placed them on a cooking tray above the fire. Ted had turned back to his taller companion and asked "So, you two have been on the run, how long?"
"A month, two months I can't really remember" the taller man responded and continued "how about you three?"
"About the same, I met up with Dean here a few days after leaving and Griphook several weeks after that. Had heard that they had started rounding us up and felt it was better to disappear. My wife should be ok, she's pure blood"
"What's going on?" a voice whispered from right next to Harry and he physically had to force himself not to cry out loud. "SHIT Draco. What the fuck! You almost gave me heart failure"
"Sorry!! I couldn't just wait not knowing"
"Sounds like they are on the run from something but I haven't heard what yet. Just that they `had started rounding something up' but I don't really know what he was talking about"
"What do you see before you Harry?"
"People and Goblins?"
"Why on earth would they be being rounded up!?"
"Don't know. Keep listening"
"Érefused to swear allegiance" the goblin that had been skinning the rabbits replied
"And you?" Ted nodded towards the other goblin who replied "similar reasons" his tone was much deeper and rougher than the earlier speaker. Ted moved back to the fire and flipped the brace of rabbits. The smell turned Harry's stomach. He was not a `morning food person' at the best of times but the smell of cooking meat at such an early hour definitely did not agree with him.
The group in front continued to make small talk about survival and day-to-day life on the run as their breakfast continued to cook.
"Ready" the taller man called and the group moved in as he split the rabbit into fifths and passed out some bread. There where various calls of `thanks Dirk' as the plates where picked up by the various group members. They ate in what Harry perceived to be a companionable silence before passing their tin plates back to Dirk who cast a quick cleaning spell before returning them to a bag.
"We should get some sleep before moving on" Griphook suggested before continuing "deeper into the forest would offer greater protection" and he pointed in the direction opposite to that of their encampment. The group moved off quietly whilst Harry and Draco edged away in the opposite direction.
"Draco" Harry whispered as he called him back
"Not here. Let's get back"
Draco cast the counter jinx before they immediately descended down the `bunk bed' ladder that lead down into their hide away.
As Harry turned from the ladder to clear space for Draco to come down he was greeted by a mane of bushy hair "Where the hell have you been!?" Hermione demanded.
"We went for our run but listen we bumped into someone"
"Get Ron and we will tell you everything"
Kreacher bustled up handing Harry and Draco a steaming mug of tea as the group took up seats at the kitchen table and Harry explained all that had happened and they had heard.
"What do you suppose they meant by `rounding us up' do you think?" Ron asked the table at large
"I have a pretty shred idea" Draco replied
"You do?" Harry turned looking surprised as he had heard the conversation and had been left totally perplexed.
"Yeah that short bloke said that `his wife would be ok because she was pureblood'. Sounds to me like they are hunting m..uggle borns" there had been an awkward pause as Draco had clearly skated close to using the wrong `M word'
"Old habits die hard" Hermione said and smiled, genuinely, in Draco's direction.
"That's impossible. People wouldn't stand for it" Ron said
"I dunno they never exactly said it's just a guess" Draco replied nodding indifferently
"Yeah well it's a fucking stupid guess"
"Well what's your suggestion then?!" Draco replied with a snarl
"I'm not sure alright? But it can't be that"
"So quick to criticise but so slow to offer anything of use"
"Shut the fuck up Malfoy"
"Enough!" Hermione snapped "fighting will not get us closer to finishing this"
The two exchanged pointed stares across the table as Kreacher pushed a large pile of buttered toast onto the table.
"Let's get to work" Hermione continued
The foursome spent the following days after the encounter with the outside world, based on Draco's premise about the Horcrux's, researching and compiling a list of Witches and Wizards that had perished in the first war. Then using Hermione's extensive collection of research books they set about tracing the final moments of each of the Witches or Wizards on that list. At the end of the sixth day they had agreed a list of three names that they agreed required more detailed information on; one Dorcas Meadowes, Benjiy Fenwick and Edgar Bones. Each of these three had suspicious or unusual circumstances surrounding their last hours. However, they had hit the limits of their research. The most useful book, Fascinating Facts of the First Feud, had documented their deaths as casualties of war but never fully explained due to a lack of information.
"Now what?" had been Ron's immediate demand of the other three.
"I don't know. It's not as if we can walk into Hogwarts and ask to use the library" Hermione admitted
"I am not sure that would help us much anyway" Hermione looked scandalised before Draco continued "This is relatively recent and not well documented, history. I am not sure books would have this sort of information"
"Well we don't have a choice then do we?" Harry asked
"What do you mean?"
"We will have to ask someone wont we? I mean what choice do we have? If it is not the type of information you would find in a book and even if it was possible we don't have the book then we will have to speak with someone from the Order wont we? Anyways I still want to find out what they meant by `rounding us up' we can get an update on what's going"
"Oh Harry I am not sure that is a good idea. At the moment we are safe and more importantly they are safe not knowing where we are"
"What other choice do we have Hermione?"
She had no repost and was still dismayed that books had failed her for only the second time in her life. A plan was agreed in short order. They had identified Lupin as their `target' and had turned to Kreacher for help. He was to apparate from the tree house to 12 Grimmauld Place and pass him an envelope. The envelope would contain a piece of paper but instead of a letter Hermione had placed a `Portus' spell onto the paper that would immediately transport him to the clearing in a wood they had stayed at for several days a month ago. Where he would instantly be stunned and then side along aparated to another location and have his wand taken.
When his eyes flickered open Harry could see his old DADA teacher immediately assess his predicament. Wandless and tied he could see the flame red hair of Ron Weasley.
"Hi Lupin, sorry about all this but we have to be sure its you" Ron said apologetically
"What the hell? Ron, Harry?" Lupin managed to croak out
"Yeah it's us Remus. We need some help but as Ron says we need to be sure it's you first"
"Well you have just snatched me away from the headquarters of The Order of the Phoenix. It isn't likely to be someone else is it?"
"Sorry Remus we have to be sure. What creature sat in the corner the first time I visited Professor Lupin at Hogwarts?"
"A Grindylow, it was in a tank"
"And what memory did I tell you I first used in an attempt to conjure a Patronus?"
"I don't know Harry! Your broom wasn't it? Flying a broom and I told you it wasn't nearly powerful enough I think"
Harry flicked his wand in Remus' direction and the ropes fell away as he pulled the older man into an embrace. Unbeknown anyone Draco bristled watching Harry embrace his former teacher.
"It's so good to see you"
"And you Harry. Now what on earth is going on?"
"It's not safe to talk here. Will you trust me one more time?"
"Of course?" the question hung in Lupin's voice
"Obscuro" Harry said and then took Lupin's arm and aparated them back to the tree house as they arrived Hermione was waiting and cast the `finite' charm and Lupin slumped down into a comfortable arm chair in the living room as the pops of Ron and Draco returning echoed in the room.
"Honestly you four you are going to have to start talking. What the hell is going on?" Lupin asked
"We need some help" Harry responded
"and some information" Ron cut in as Kreacher pushed a cup of strong tea into Lupin's hands.
"Ok but I need to know what is going on"
"You know that there are things we can't tell you Lupin. Dumbledore gave me a mission and these three are in on it"
"I will never understand that. No offence Harry but Dumbledore had the whole Order at his command. Why you? Haven't you been through enough?"
"I can't answer that question Remus and I don't want to debate it. The fact is he did leave me this job and now it has to be done. What I need is some help" Harry replied assertively and Lupin took in a deep breath before rubbing his palms across his face.
"What do you need Harry?"
"I need to know if you know anything about the deaths of Dorcas Meadowes, Benjiy Fenwick or Edgar Bones. In the first war, you know?"
"Why on earth would you want to know about that? It was awful, just awful. Good people. Good members of the Order all three of them"
"Start off with the basics" Harry pressed ignoring the question.
"Well Edgar's death made the most headlines I suppose. He was found in muggle London. I don't know where exactly but it was big news. He was tortured and then released into muggle London and the muggle polisemen were called as he died. Arthur said that it took teams of obliviators hours to sort out all the memory modifications" Harry exchanged glances with Hermione as they mentally `ticked' Edgar from their list.
"Go on" Harry urged and felt slightly sick as he pushed Lupin to relive experiences that where clearly painful for him.
"Benjiy, a distant relation to Professor Flitwick you know? That was quite mysterious" Harry's ears perked up "he died in an Order meeting. We thought it may have been some form of slow acting poison. We never really found out. But what really made it unusual was the fact that he hadn't left the Order Headquarters for some time before his death. For a long time Dumbledore and the first Order expended a lot of effort in trying to get a spy into Voldemort's ranks. Benjiy was the first attempt and it nearly went very wrong so he was put into hiding"
This didn't sound to Harry, at any rate, like a plausible contender either. They were looking for some sort of ritual or sacrifice and this seemed to Harry more like cold blooded murder. His thoughts were interrupted as Lupin continued.
"Well and then there was Dorcas. He was a very powerful wizard. I think the fault with the plan was that we tried too soon after Benjiy. We should have waited"
"Waited for what?" Harry interjected.
"We needed a spy. All this happened before Snape came forward. We needed a spy in Voldemort's ranks to pass back information. We had very detailed and carefully sculpted plans to present Benjiy as a plausible Death Eater and it didn't work. The mistake was trying again, with Dorcas, too soon. Dorcas was Dumbledore's number two. Second in command of the Order, as I say a very powerful wizard in his own right, we felt that his stature may tempt Voldemort with greed. Converting such a high level Order member you understand? I don't know the details because after the disaster with Benjiy it was kept very secret but I do know, Dumbledore confided in me later, that the plans where very detailed"
"So what went wrong?" Hermione asked
"I don't know what went wrong with the plan specifically, Dumbledore never told me, but as I say I think it was too soon after Benjiy and the Dark Lord was too suspicious. I expect Legilimency but I have no idea really"
"So what happened?"
"Again I don't know much it was all kept very secret. It wasn't published in the Prophet or on the Wizarding Wireless News. The irony was that not long after that Snape came over to our side and Dumbledore got his spy"
"Interesting that Snape came over to Dumbledore at that point. Almost a little too convenient if you ask me" Hermione observed and Harry couldn't help but agree with her.
"Hermione, Dumbledore trusted Snape" Lupin reminded them
"Yeah an look where that got him" Ron observed
"Carry on about Dorcas" Draco cut in trying to keep them on track and Lupin looked almost shocked to see the blond speak.
"All I know is that he was found in Malfoy Manor" and Lupin looked up at Draco. Who looked job smacked and barely managed to stutter "How do you know that?"
"Dumbledore told me. He never said who his informant was, maybe it was Snape, but he managed to recover the body. Lots of Dark Magic he said and wasn't the same again for months, years possibly"
"Did he ever say where about in Malfoy Manor he found the body?"
"Never, sorry. Can you at least give me some clue as to why this is even remotely important?"
"No. Sorry Remus. If I could I would but I can't. Dumbledore made me swear"
"Whatever" he looked dismissively at the group "well you don't look malnourished at any rate, Molly will be pleased"
"How are they?" Ron asked uncertainly
"They are fine Ron. They ran into a spot of bother when you didn't show up for school on September 1st but all seems to be well currently. I don't suppose your brother would mind me saying but you are to be an Uncle"
"Oh wow! A baby"
"Pass on our congratulations wont you?" Hermione cut in.
"So is there anything you lot can tell me or is it all top secret, hush hush?" Lupin asked a slight icicle in his tone
"Well this is where we live. What do you think?" Harry said and waved his arms in a gesture
"It looks comfortable enough. Where are we?"
"Somewhere hidden; away from sight"
"So do I get a tour?"
Harry and Hermione gave Lupin a quick tour of their tree stump home carefully avoiding the entrance.
"Very nice. Very cosy and how are you two getting along?" he nodded his head in Harry and Draco's direction
"Why do you ask?" Draco snapped defensively
"Well I have been here at least two hours and you have been nothing but pleasant to each other. I am had figured you would have ripped each other to shreds by now"
"Actually they get along very well. Actually spend time together voluntarily" Hermione supplied and Harry was grateful that they didn't know just how much time they spent together. Draco clearly was thinking the same thing as a faint tinge of pink flooded his cheeks and Lupin looked on surprised.
"We had one more thing we wanted to ask and then we will get you out of here" Harry said as he deflected the prying eyes away from his new found closeness to Draco. He coughed and the continued "We heard talk of `round ups' and pure bloods being safe. Are they connected does that mean anything to you?" Harry knew it must be serious as he watched Lupin's face drop.
"I'm afraid so Harry. Since the fall of the Ministry, after you left, muggle borns are being rounded up and sent north. Nobody knows where to or for what purpose but its happening" Hermione clapped her hands to her mouth a picture of shock written over the groups face.
"That's not all. There is a new type of `law'" Lupin snorted at the word "enforcement group, the `SS' or Salazar Snatchers. Dangerous group Harry. Everyone looks the other way when they are involved. Too scared of disappearing. Dangerous, dangerous times. I think even the Muggles have begun to notice. Its hard not to really"
The four looked gawped at Lupin and at the matter fact way in which he had just summarised the daily life to which everyone was exposed.
"You lot are best off out of it. All of you. For god sake don't get caught" he turned and offered the group a weak smile.
It was an emotional goodbye. The news the Lupin had imparted filled them with a sense of dread and foreboding. Ron and Harry aparated Lupin to the chosen `drop off' spot and he pulled Harry close before they returned to the lounge.
Whilst they had not exactly been having a good time, Lupin's news brought home to the group in sharp relief the situation in the outside world.