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 Nineteen: The Vipers Nest
The familiar sensation of intense pressure crushing down on his body surrounded Harry as Draco apparate the group a short distance away from Malfoy Manor. They appeared in a small wooded clearing to the south of the Manor and from there they would take a short walk. Draco had advised against apparating directly to the outskirts of the wards for fear of alerting someone to their presence. Crossing the wards would not be the challenge for this particular mission; as head of the Malfoy family Draco would have ultimate authority to amend them as he saw fit. The one nagging concern that remained was that his Aunt Bellatrix would have some small measure of control over the house however; it would never be as strong as his own direct blood claim so he pushed it to the back of his mind once again.
The four figures, decked head to foot in black with a narrow slit across the face for vision, dropped hands immediately after landing with a faint pop in the clearing and the slender figure, which Harry knew to be Draco, moved off in front taking point striding off in the direction of the Manor. Harry had spoken to Draco late into the night several evenings ago about returning to the place he once called home and the place of his torture. It had not been an easy conversation. Harry had wanted to ensure that Draco knew he was there for him but it seemed that, like Harry, Draco was not used to talking about his feelings and emotions.
They had deliberately chosen the hours of dark for this `mission' but as they walked occasionally one of his companions would stumble, as the oppressive darkness surrounded them. But still better dark and unseen than light and anticipated. The short walk took them on an undulating barely walked dry earth path. As Draco brought the group to a stop a short distance from a large boulder a few droplets of rain began to fall from the sky and bounced off his companions covered heads. Hermione stopped next to him and withdrew her wand before pointing at his head and muttering "Impervius" before repeating the spell on the other two and her. Harry watched as the increasing flow of water now falling from the heavens flowed harmlessly off and onto the ground.
"Wait here" Draco had instructed before moving closer to the boulder. As he walked towards it Harry saw a slight ripple in the air where his boyfriend had presumably just crossed the Manors Wards. He simply stood there and Harry wondered what he was doing before Draco called "Ok come across". Having never had a warded house, understanding the complexity of the wards had never really been something he could fathom.
"I was hoping to have a much better idea of the number of people inside the Manor once we crossed the ward line but there is some very strong dark magic effecting the wards. All I can tell you is that the place, unsurprisingly, is not empty. We should be very careful. Hermione do the disillusionment charm now I think and then I will apparate us closer to the Manor's scullery entrance"
"I still don't understand why we don't walk? Surely it's safer?" Ron piped up from Harry's left
"We don't have much time and it's about three miles to the Manor from here. We needed to walk to the wards to ensure they were not accidently set off but now we are within the wards it shouldn't be an issue to apparate closer to the Manor" Draco replied
Harry gasped as Hermione rapped her wand unexpectedly across his head and the familiar gooey sensation of raw egg dripping down his body covered him. She repeated the process before a sightless hand clasped his own and gave it a reassuring squeeze.
"Is everyone holding on?" Draco asked and Harry felt a fumbling hand clatter into his arm before turning into a tight grip. The overly familiar sensation of bone crushing soon abated as the short trip from the edge of the wards to one of the Manors side entrances was over.
The group moved into a small side room off the scullery and Draco spoke in a hushed whisper that made Harry start "I suggest we check the surrounding area for people and then check the area. I can't imagine it's here though, no where near prestigious enough". The group fanned out quietly moving around the immediate area checking for signs of life.
A dark black figure appeared to the right of Harry's vision and then spoke with Draco's voice "The disillusionment was a good plan but its not working. I can't see where Harry is in order to cast the spell"
"Ron and I will stay like this you and Draco cast the spell" Hermione's disembodied voice spoke to his left. Harry muttered the `finite' charm and moved round to clasp hands with Draco again before casting the `magus defigo' spell. As Draco had expected however, nothing appeared. A slight concentration of magic emanated around a rather suspicious looking coat stand.
"Lets move on we can't waste time" Draco called and moved out and away from the scullery taking a left, right and then a left again down a maze of corridors before coming to a stop and repeating the spell. They repeated the exercise, Draco leading the way, for a couple of hours without success or incident. Draco had to pull Harry back into an alcove as a figure crossed the adjoining corridor.
"Shit that was close" Harry whispered
"Yeah too close. What's the time?"
"One twenty eight" Hermione whispered and Draco jumped
"Will you please stop doing that Hermione" Harry chastised
"We need to step up the pace. There is still more than half to go"
"Fine, but carefully" Hermione cut in again
They set off again. Harry was sure that he and Draco were being flanked by Ron and Hermione with Draco once again leading the group down a series of wide, sumptuously decorated corridors. Left, left, right and through and under an arch. "We are in the East Wing now. It was an extension to the original property build by my great great grandfather"
The search continued throughout the East Wing in vain with nothing more exciting than a series of time-consuming false alarms. The worst of which ended up with Harry pulling a dining fork from his thigh where it had become embedded having been launched from a cupboard with a deep red dark magic signature.
"We are running out of time" Hermione urged
"I don't know what else we can do Hermione? The Manor isn't going to shrink because we want it to. Imagine what the situation would have been like had Harry and I not been able to joint cast" Draco responded and chose to ignore the invisible snort that came from Ron
"Well we need to prioritise then. Where haven't we looked that you think has most chance of success?"
Draco paused for a moment considering his answer "Well we have searched the two main wings. I thought those had the highest probability because it seemed safer, out of sight and out of mind, you know? So it leaves the main house really"
"We should think about splitting into groups. Although it's more risky it would definitely get the job done quicker" Harry suggested
"Harry NO! That is not a good idea. If we have to come back then we will come back but I don't think splitting up is a wise move" Hermione's nervous voice betrayed her rational sentiments.
"I agree Harry. The Manor is large and complex we have already had one close call, separating is an unnecessary risk" Draco moved up and placed his hand on Harry's shoulder. Harry could feel invisible eyes boring into them at this sight of such familiarity between him and his ex-nemesis.
"Fine it was only an idea. Look it'sÉ" Harry glanced at his watch "Gone three AM. We are running out of time lets get moving"
Draco set off, once again, with a purposeful stride back down the winding corridors and into the main body of the house before coming to an abrupt halt as two corridors met.
"What?" Harry whispered urgently
"Thought I heard something, close by"
Draco tightened his grip around his wand and strained his ears to make out a movement or sound and then it happened. A shadowy figure stepped around a corner and looked up directly at him. There was a momentary pause as he took in the situation, but that moment had cost the figure dearly as a jet of green passed across Draco's shoulder and struck the figure squarely in the chest before it had even had the chance to extract its wand and point it in his direction.
The invisible caster moved beyond Draco and then a voice spoke from the corner of the corridor "Looks like he was alone. Help me hide it out of sight"
Harry moved smartly towards Ron and grabbed the prone figures arms and saw the legs lift seemingly unassisted and they moved the body of the stunned man into an alcove.
"What did you do to him?" Hermione's voice asked
"Stunned" Ron replied
Suddenly the figure appeared bound and gagged and Hermione continued "In case he wakes before we get out of here"
"Come on" Draco urged
As they approached the main entrance hall Harry and Draco joined hands and recast the dark magic detection spell but with no success. Again they ducked back into the shadows as the sound of moving feet passed them in a neighbouring corridor.
Finally, just as Harry was thinking they would need to call off the search, the group moved into a large ornate room with high walls covered with rich green wallpaper and thick gold curtains. In the middle of the room sat a large solid writing desk with a high backed leather chair. A large peacock quill sat aside an inkpot that looked like it hadn't been used for years. Immediately behind the desk, dominating the room was a large portrait of a pretty woman in her late twenties. She looked to be asleep as her head rested in her slender hand and her elbow in turn against the large chair arm. Her hands, Harry noticed, were exactly like Draco's.
"Its here" Harry said and continued "I can tell. Draco come quickly. You two keep a close eye out for company"
Draco moved quickly to Harry's side and proffered his hand before the two spoke together "magus defigo" the familiar red hue filled the room and instantly pulled together into a thick, deep concentration at the base of the right hand side of the desk.
"Looks like you are right. The question is what is protecting it. I can't believe, based on our last experience, we just open the draw"
"I would not recommend it" Harry spun around as the soft, unfamiliar, voice spoke from behind the desk.
The figure now sat back rigid with the faint hint of the Malfoy scowl.
"Good morning" Draco said as he turned to the woman
"Good morning to you too great great great grandson"
Draco inclined his head in a slight bow and said "Are you familiar with the object we seek?"
"I am not familiar with the nature of the object contained within that desk but I did see it being placed within the desk and I can tell you more dark curses I have not seen"
"Can you tell us how to open the desk?" Harry cut in
"Who is this grandson? You have brought one of a dubious blood line before me"
"May I present Harry Potter? Harry this is my great great great grandmother Elizaveta"
"Tell me Harry Potter why do you require the contents of this desk? It has sat there nicely for over twenty years"
"Grandmother the contents of this desk are very important to me. I would greatly appreciate any knowledge you may choose to impart to me that may assist in its recovery" Draco cut in. It was clear that Harry had no expertise in dealing with pureblood manners.
"All I am able to tell you is that the draws were sealed by a man. A man with red eyes. He sealed the four draws in a specific sequence and I would propose that if you desire the contents of that bottom draw you proceed in the reverse order to that which they where sealed"
"Thank you grandmother. One final question; do you possibly recall the sequence in which the draws where sealed?"
"I believe I do"
"Could you assist me by providing this sequence?"
"I can. You must first open the top right, followed by the bottom left, then the top left and finally the bottom right. I hope you know what you are doing Grandson because the man that sealed these draws did not wish them open, of that I can assure you"
"Thank you grandmother"
Harry moved around the desk and pulled the high backed leather chair from under the desk and out of the way before turning to the top right hand draw.
"Any suggestions?" he asked looking up at Draco who had moved around next to him
"Try and open it without touching it"
Harry glanced up from the draw and picked up the elegant peacock feather and passed the nib through the semicircular draw handle before taking both ends of the quill and pulling. The draw slid open easily with a soft squeak and Harry stared into it eagerly. Sitting in the very centre of the draw, as if only just placed there, was a key. The key itself was of simple brass and Harry moved to pick it up before an invisible hand closed around his wrist and prevented him.
"It's too easy Harry" Hermione said
"For fuck sake Hermione what did I say, like an hour ago, about warning when we can't see you?!"
"Oh fine we don't need the disillusionment at the moment anyway" As she finished her sentence her bushy mane of hair reappeared shortly followed by the rest of her features.
"Try moving it with the quill" Draco suggested. Harry picked up the now bent quill and pushed it in the direction of the quill. It hit an invisible barrier just above the key that prevented the nib of the quill from making contact and as Harry pushed harder he noticed that the quill was getting shorter. As he pulled it back to investigate it soon became apparent why; the end of the quill was now missing and all that remained was a burned end, like the end of a cigarette.
"That, Harry, is why we look before we leap" Hermione said in her best superior tone
"Great, thanks, now how do we get to the key?" Harry tried to keep his voice calm but it was these little `Hermione moments' when her superiority got the better of her that drove him mad.
"Well it can't be that easy can it?" Draco muttered more to himself than anyone else before gently pushing Harry back and pointing his wand at the now protruding draw. The draw lifted a fraction from its runners and Draco floated it out of the main desk before flipping it and then placing it on the desk upside down.
"Oh no it can't be" Hermione said as she clocked onto Draco's thinking. Moving quickly he cut into the underside of the draw to reveal the key and then flipped the draw back the correct way and with a soft cling the key landed on the desktop.
Once again Harry picked up the quill and jabbed it in the direction of the key before turning it to inspect it closely. Satisfied that the key itself had not burned the quill he reached down to pick it up and moved quickly to the bottom left hand draw. As the key drew closer to the draw an embossed outline of a lock, that had not been there before, became clearer until the key slipped into the lock and Harry turned it to the left and with a click the draw sprung forward like it was sealed under tension. There was a grunt as the draw span off on a trajectory Harry had not anticipated and it didn't take long to realise why. Ron's form glimmered back into sight and solidified on his knees clasping at his stomach where the draw had presumably just struck him.
"Ron! Are you ok?" Hermione shouted
"Hermione!! Shhhhh" Draco whispered urgently before she spoke any further and she clapped her hand to her mouth realising her mistake. Harry's hand tightened around the holly and phoenix feather wand automatically, straining his ears for sound of movement, prepared to fight if Hermione's mistake had raised the alarm. No sound reached his ears except for the distant ticking of the grandfather clock they had passed in the corridor before entering the room.
Hermione was now bent down attending to Ron who seemed to be winded. Draco had moved off quickly to the now floating draw in order to retrieve it but as he got within touching distance the draw moved away. It was like watching some bizarre comedy sketch on muggle TV; as Draco moved closer to the draw it moved away as he increased his pace to compensate as did the draw away from him.
"Accio draw" Harry said and pointed his wand in the direction of the floating draw. Nothing happened. He moved towards Draco in order to assist in the capture of the rogue draw. Like Draco however, he had no success in reaching it. The two even attempted to flank the draw but it simply moved off in an alternate direction.
"Granger" Draco spoke softly but determinedly "Help!"
Ron by now was back on his feet with the wind fully restored to his lungs. The two moved in but something strange happened as all four moved in to surround the rogue draw it moved closer to Ron who then stepped forward and simply took it from the air.
"What the hell?" Draco said, clearly irritated that they had just been through this undignified game of catch simply for Ron to walk straight up to it and pick it out of the air on his first attempt.
"I dunno" Ron said and shrugged
"So what do you see?" Harry asked cautious not to move closer to the draw in the event that it took off once again.
"It's similar to the last one but the key is bigger and silver. It looks to be in another one of those protective bubbles. Pass me the quill and I will see if it has the same effect?"
Harry moved back to the desk grabbed the quill and passed it back to Ron from as great a distance as possible.
"It's not the same. The quill seems to be fine"
"Do what we did last time anyway" Draco suggested
Ron flipped the draw and carved a hole in the underside to reveal the large silver key but as he turned the draw the correct way there was no clinging sound of key dropping from the draw.
"I think it's stuck to the bubble. Do you think it's safe to touch it?"
"I don't know Ron, I wouldn't" Hermione said looking nervous
"We have to get to that key" Harry urged
"Use the quill to see if you can lift it out" Draco suggested
Ron again lifted the quill and attempted to prize if from its resting place "Its no good it's lodged the quill is just bending". Harry clucked his tongue impatiently aware that their time was fast running out.
"Hang on a second lets just think about this" Hermione was saying but it was too late. Ron had already moved his hand in and pulled the key from its resting place.
"Come on lets go" Ron said and started back towards the desk. He stumbled slightly but made it back to the desk before inserting the key into the top left hand draw.
As the group peered in they noticed that the content of this draw was different. No glittering key lay before them but in its place was a dull gunmetal grey blacksmiths mould in the shape of a key.
"What's this about?" Harry asked and turned to face the group.
Several things happened at once. Far off, in the distance, there was a sound of clattering like plates hitting a tile floor and Ron once again fell to his knees this time smashing his head into the open draw.
"Ron!" Hermione and Harry said before rushing to the red head's side but before they could reach him he fell to his side and collapsed completely onto the floor. All colour was now draining from his face and he grew rigid.
"Harry!" Draco gasped and Harry looked up back in the direction of his lover who was now wildly gesticulating in the direction of the draw. Harry glanced once again at Ron whose eyes had begun to glaze over but as he glanced into the top draw he could see a shiny gold key solidifying in the mould. The sounds of crashing drew closer and he could now hear distinct movements. Harry turned back towards Ron and then immediately to Hermione before saying "Hermione! What's wrong with him!?"
"I don't know!"
In the split second Harry had turned towards Ron, Draco had grasped the now solid gold key from the mould and thrust it into the lock in the bottom right hand draw. Turning it quickly he pulled open the draw and as Harry called "Draco NO!" his hand closed around a shiny silver object. As he pulled the object from the draw a whistling noise rushed around them and the various parts of the desk flew through the air before slamming with a resounding thunk back into their original places. The gold key fell from the draw and lay motionless on the ground beneath the desk and Draco automatically pocketed it.
"We have to go NOW!" Draco called as the sound of approaching movement grew louder
"What about Ron?" Hermione called desperately
"We have to get him out of here. You two grab him and let's GO!" Draco instructed
How they managed it Harry was not sure they would ever know. The cold slimy sensation of disillusionment had quickly followed Draco's balled instruction to go and Harry moved to Ron's arms and hoisted him into the air and he felt Hermione do the same before Ron disappeared from sight, presumably Hermione had case the charm on him too.
Draco, still in plain sight, moved quickly towards the study door pulling it open and urging the now invisible threesome through and out into the corridor. Ron's deadweight slowed them down and his physical condition distracted Harry immensely and it was only Draco's quick action that saw another Death Eater hit the floor with a resounding crack. The group sped down the nearest flight of steps and to the main entrance of the Manor, which was the quickest exit from their present location. As they pulled open the front door Harry heard a voice that caused his blood to chill.
"Draco, it was a mistake to return here"
Harry watched in slow motion as Hermione pushed him backwards out the front door and he caught a glimpse of Bellatrix Lestrange stride towards his lover. But before he could run back to Draco's assistance Hermione had already performed an invisible twist on the spot and pulled him and Ron back into the compressing darkness of apparition.
"DRACO!" Harry had called as soon as they touched back down in the now eerily quiet forest floor.
"I have to go back" Harry said glancing at Hermione who had now cast the counter charm to their invisibility.
"Hermione! Draco is there alone with Bellatrix Lestrange and god knows who else of course I amÉ"
Another loud crack cut him off in mid sentence and the blond collapsed into a heap on the forest floor.
"Draco!" Harry shouted again moving quickly to his side "are you ok?"
The blond didn't move for a moment and Harry felt his body fill with dread until a few seconds later he groaned and made a sharp jabbing movement. A thin silver knife fell appeared by his armpit and a steady flow of crimson followed.
"Oh shit" Harry called
Hermione had already levitated Ron up and towards their tree stump and was now gently lowering him into the stumps capacious depths. Harry slid his arms under his lover's neck and knees before lifting him towards the entrance and down.
Kreacher was waiting at the bottom and sealed the entrance to their home as Harry hit the bottom.
"Quick master in the kitchen with the others"
Harry moved quickly through into the kitchen and gently placed Draco down on the now kitchen table next to Ron. The flow of crimson continued from Draco's right hand side onto the various pieces of parchment that adorned the table. Ron looked worse than ever, his glazed expression reminded Harry of the petrified bodies from their second year.
Kreacher had moved quickly behind Draco and held his long fingered hand over the wound and as Draco cried out in pain Harry was about to push the elf away until he noticed that the steady flow of crimson was reducing. With one final scream from Draco the flow of blood ceased and the blond slumped unconscious onto the table surrounded by a pool of blood.
Hermione meanwhile was slumped over Ron's still body and though he could not see her face he knew she was crying.
"Kreacher! What about Ron?" Harry called desperately to the elf that scurried from Draco's side his best friend.
The elf ran his long fingers over the red heads prone figure "Kreacher!" Harry shouted again
"Master I do not know!! It is a dark dark curse not one that Kreacher has seen before"
"Is he still alive?"
"Yes but Kreacher does not know for how much longer"