Chapter Forty: Nothing's Right
Bill followed Harry through Hogwarts' labyrinth of corridors and stairways. Harry was moving stiffly, shakily. "Harry," he said.
Harry shook his head. "Later."
"I'm bound to Dumbledore--"
"Like bloody hell you are, Bill. Blaise had Tynan go over the contracts, then told me about it after--you're bound to Hogwarts and Hogwarts is ours."
"Tynan?" Bill asked.
"Tynan Morrigan. Blaise's uncle. He's our solicitor," Harry explained.
Bill and Arthur both frowned at the small vial of energy potion Harry downed just before he started glaring at a blank wall. "The door here would be nice, soon as you can," he said to the wall.
"Harry--" Bill began.
"We're bound to Hogwarts," Harry reminded the Weasleys.
Bill nodded slowly, wondering just how "bound" they were. Arthur barely noticed the exchange over talking to the wall, as he steeled himself to tell his younger children about Percy.
The door appeared a few moments later.
"Thanks," Harry said to the castle itself. He took a deep breath and reached for the door knob with a trembling hand.
"Harry," Bill said again.
"Not now, Bill," Harry said softly.
Hermione gasped as the door opened. Ginny dropped the basket of food that had appeared for their breakfast.
"Daddy?" Ginny whispered, terrified.
Hermione barely registered Bill's presence, or even Mr. Weasley's. Harry had lost weight he couldn't really afford to, making his face all sharp edges with dark hollows under his eyes. The tattoos stood out sharply against pale skin.
"Dad?" Fred said anxiously.
"Dad? Bill?" George looked from one to the other worriedly.
Ron looked from his father to his brother, then his eyes landed on Harry. "Who? Who is it Harry?"
Harry swallowed. He glanced at Mr. Weasley; Bill reached past Harry and laid his hand on his father's shoulder.
It was Bill who finally answered. "Percy. He's... we don't think he's going to make it. Penelope was killed. It was Death Eaters."
Ginny gasped. "He's going to be okay..."
Harry and Bill both shook their heads.
"I--it doesn't look good, sweetheart," Arthur Weasley managed and held his arm out to his daughter, who was sobbing into his chest within a heartbeat's time.
Hermione swallowed, tears stinging at her eyes. People died. Cedric had died. Sirius had died. But somehow neither death had quite touched her. Oh, she was sorry, she even missed Sirius a bit. But Cedric's death had been eerie. She hadn't known him, not personally, but as Hufflepuff's seeker she'd known who he was. Seen him about the school for four years. It had been eerie in that he was just gone, no longer playing for Hufflepuff, no longer about the school. Almost as if he'd moved or something. So easy to forget, to not notice he wasn't there, as terrible as that sounded. And Sirius... Sirius had been wanted, had also been far older than they. She was more worried for Harry than feeling all that deep of a personal loss. After all, how much did one really mourn for a friend's uncle they'd met only a few times... which was a fair way to describe Sirius. But Percy... She'd stayed at the Weasley's. She'd griped along with Ron, Harry and Ginny what a prig he could be. She'd actually had a few enjoyable conversations about books with him, when he wasn't being quite so priggish and self-important the summers she'd stayed at the Weasleys.
Percy? Too close. Too real. And Harry.... Harry was too calm. Too worn. It felt like the whole world had dropped out from under her, and she couldn't begin to imagine how Ron and Ginny, or Fred and George, must feel just now. Harry had snapped at her, last spring, just before the end of the term and right after Sirius' death, that she didn't understand. Had no way of understanding, because she'd never had anyone close to her die suddenly, unnaturally. Die too young and too violently before her own eyes. Finally, she had to admit, Harry had been right.
She didn't notice Harry move, didn't notice him hug her, but she leaned into the warmth and tried to gather her composure to the sound of Ginny's sobs.
Harry ducked out of the Hospital Wing as soon as Molly was awakened. The rest of the Weasleys didn't need the scene that was sure to erupt if he stayed. The look she gave him was pure venom.
He had no more than stepped foot into the room where the Apprentices were supposedly doing their lessons for the day, before McGonagall was on his heels.
"Mr. Potter, I cannot get into the Headmaster's offices."
Harry steadied himself; Voldemort had lifted his wand and cast curses to reprimand various 'failures' including a good dozen aimed toward Bellatrix. The 'echoes'of the curses that came through the link were certainly bad enough, especially nearly every night, as they had been these last week. "I know," Harry managed.
"Why can I not access the Headmaster's office?"
"You need to ask?" he managed to get the words out evenly. He clutched the back of the chair he stood beside to keep the visible tremble of his hands from being noticed.
"Mr. Potter, Harry..."
"We're doing everything we can to save Percy,"
"You should have allowed the headmaster--"
"To what? Get someone else killed? Endanger someone else's life?"
McGonagall pressed her lips together into a thin line. "Your lessons," she reminded him.
"We've managed everything thrown at us so far, haven't we? We have even gone so far as to make up our own lessons when Dumbledore was too busy risking our lives and binding us prisoners here, possibly for eternity since the last two bound heirs are ghosts in this blasted castle, without our knowledge and permission. Nearly killing eight of us in the process. I'm sorry, Professor, but do you really expect us to trust him, or anyone unquestioningly loyal to him?"
"Harry!" she objected.
"We are discussing the man responsible for my spending the better part of eleven years locked in a cupboard. We are discussing the man who allowed Quirrell, possessed by Voldemort, teach--and there is no way that he did not know. Hogwarts herself showed us that he did know. The castle sensed the possession and showed him through the wards he held then. He most certainly knew of three eleven year olds facing off with Voldemort, he went to the bloody dungeons when there was a mountain troll in the school! He risked the entire student populace of Hogwarts with that one, playing his game of cluelessness with Quirrell. He knew very well that the troll couldn't have been in the dungeons, it would only take touching the wards. What about Ginny and the diary? Hmmm? Or the Goblet of Fire? My participation in that? It should never have happened. Ever. We are discussing the man who has lied, manipulated, endangered and frankly destroyed all possible chance of any of us living a normal life. No. We do not trust him. He gave us the castle. We're protecting ourselves from him. Right now Dumbledore is more dangerous to us than Voldemort."
"We have our lessons. It looks as if everyone's have been delivered. Tell me, were you so worried about our lessons while you were waiting with him to destroy my life utterly by binding me, and quite likely my ghost, here forever? Our lessons will be done on time. Is that all?"
Minerva stared in shock. "Harry, child..."
"Is that all?"
Minerva swallowed and nodded stiffly. "See that the lessons are completed on time, Mr. Potter." She brushed past Seamus abruptly as she left the room.
"You alright, mate?"
Harry shook his head. The shakes left behind from the cumulative effects of the curses on top of the stress and lack of anything remotely resembling rest began again in full force.
"Damn, Harry, you need to bloody go to bed!" Seamus growled and helped Harry into the chair.
"He quiet at least?"
"She's blocking him completely if he isn't," he lied.
"You need to eat, that'll help," Seamus decided. "When did you last take--"
"Just before we got Hermione and the others."
"Way too soon then for more. But you shouldn't take the energy potion on an empty stomach. Especially the shape you're in. You've got to have some food in your system for the potion to use."
"I'll get the food."
Seamus and Harry both nearly jumped at the sound of Blaise's voice. Seamus muttered something in Gaelic.
Harry didn't need a translation to recognize a sound telling off when he heard one.
Blaise only smirked and turned dark eyes on Harry. "You're a damned idiot, Potter, you have far too many potions in your system to have an empty stomach and I know you didn't eat dinner last night. I'll be back in a few minutes and you will eat everything I bring."
Harry's eyes widened as Blaise stepped into the shadows cast by a bookcase and...disappeared?
"He's a Shadowyn," Seamus snorted. "Least enough of one to Walk, pretty amazing that."
Harry looked blearily at Seamus, "Huh?"
"Shadowyn magic's not like Wizard magic. Shadowyn don't do many spells, their magics are all more defensive.The ability to manipulate or become all but invisible in Shadows. Some of the powerful ones can Walk through the Shadows sort of like apparating from one shadow to another, though not for any great distance. Fifty feet at the very most."
"Blaise is also a Wizard and bound to the castle. He'll probably be able to go from one corner of the castle to the other eventually," Harry surmised.
"Makes you wonder if he shifts."
"You seen Veela change, right?" Seamus asked.
Harry nodded, remembering the Quidditch World Cup.
"Shadowyn are related to Veela. But where the Veela can manipulate pheromones and their appearance to be unnaturally beautiful, Shadowyn are supposed to be able to shift into something like a shadow-creature or something. Never bothered to read that much about them, Great-gran told a few stories 'bout them. They were hunted years ago. People said that since their ability was shadows, they had to be evil and dark and what not."
Harry snorted. "I'm sure the concept of a nocturnal magical being was too much to reason out. Zabini might be Slytherin as they come but evil and dark doesn't apply."
"Thanks, Potter." Blaise stepped back from the shadow with a tray of sausages, toast and pitchers of...
"Orange juice?" Harry said in shock as he noticed the contents of the clear glass pitcher.
"Tea, milk, pumpkin juice and orange juice. Muggles like orange juice, right?"
"Right," Seamus grinned as he poured Harry a glass of orange juice then helped himself to a glass. "Miss it, I do, when I'm at school."
"Was Draco down in Snape's chambers?"
"He's going to sort out the... well, if we need it. It'll be in the proper condition to pass any attempts of inspection. Just don't allow wands to have the Priori Incantatem done on them."
Harry nodded. He really didn't want to think of what would be necessary to have a convincing golem that could pass at least partial inspections. Snape wouldn't leave anything to chance.
"Tonks," Harry sighed as he glanced at the doorway where Tonks and Bill Weasley stood.
"Bill and I are going to visit Penelope's family and get her body back here. That's all right? You are having the--"
"The funeral is here, you daft bint," Blaise growled.
"Watch it!" Tonks glared at Blaise. "I'm your blasted Professor."
"Professor Daft Bint."
"Blaise," Harry groaned. He wasn't quite sure what Tonks had done to infuriate Blaise so badly during the chaos of the night before, but the two hadn't let up with the insults when within a few feet of each other since. Harry himself had barely been able to sit up due to the curse-echoes that slipped through the wards. No doubt Dumbledore trying his best to get out of his prison again, and Hogwarts was too busy containing the old coot to block the visions. The potions had barely taken effect before Fudge and his toadies and aurors had arrived.
"Are you alright there, Harry?" Bill frowned. "You're not looking so good."
Harry shook his head with a hollow laugh. The same grim amusement crossed Seamus' and Blaise's faces.
"Nothing's been right since we got here, Weasley," Blaise said wryly. "You lot have proper attire for the funeral?"
"Just sort out the sizes. We'll settle it up fair enough later. Please, Bill." Harry looked at the eldest Weasley sibling. "We don't have time for more complications now."
"Buggerin' 'ell they couldn't clean her up?" Tonks gasped as the bloody and brutalized body of Penelope Weasley was brought out from the back of St. Mungo's morgue.
"We don't want to upset Lord Slytherin," Fudge sneered.
Bill glared but said nothing.
"The Avada Kedavra was what killed her," the forensic auror who served as medical examiner in magical murder cases said. "It was a mercy, at that point. From what we managed with Priori she'd been put under so many Cruicatus spells she'd never have been in her right mind. Frigis Osis as well--they froze her bones, then followed it with a breaking spell. Shattered her hips and knee caps into a million bits with that. And a few dozen Agonisis at least that we could tell."
Bill swallowed, hoping the bit of tea and toast he'd downed earlier stayed put. "Was she--pregnant?"
"Aye, about three months gone, just about four. You want the report?"
"Yeah," Tonks spoke up. "We want full copies of everything."
"Now see here--"
"Minister, if she's a resident of Slytherin land it's mandatory, I'm bound by law to have them ready for the Head of the Slytherin Family."
"You really need to check your law books," Tonks snorted.
"You'll never work as an Auror in Britain again." Fudge glared at the young woman.
Tonks smiled wanly. "Yeah, already knew that one. Now, if you don't mind, we're in a hurry, I have to be back to the school. Portkey ready?"
"Yes, here you are." The mortician nodded.
Bill entered the "classroom" across from the hospital wing late that evening. The Apprentices were all present, including a very withdrawn and pale Draco, who seemed very, well, wrong, without his usual arrogance evident.
"Can I see Snape?"
Eyes went to Draco, who nodded.
"I'll walk him down." Seamus volunteered.
"You go up and tuck Potter into bed." Blaise countered. "I can take him down."
"Potter can tuck himself into bed." Harry spoke up irritably. "Potter is not a fucking invalid."
Luna suddenly grinned. "It worked. The old fool is out. The sleeping potion in his lemon cream pie did the trick. You should be able to actually get some sleep tonight, Harry."
"I'll bring your books up," Millie spoke up.
Harry crossed his arms and glared.
"Want me to toss you over my shoulder and carry you up?" Millicent asked archly.
"You bloody would, too," Harry muttered.
Millie smirked. "Take that one up too. His wife can put him to bed."
"C'mon, Malfoy," Seamus said.
Bill's eyes widened a bit as the blonde boy stood and walked over to where Seamus stood. Draco was far too pale and very shocky, his movements rather jerky and his eyes reddened and swollen. He was even more shocked when both Seamus and Harry put an arm around the blonde's shoulders.
The Ravenclaw girl moved in her chair just enough to lean her cheek against the wall and whisper to it.
"Let's go, Weasley,"
Bill followed, dazed.
"Potter might trust you, but I don't," was all the Slytherin would say.
Snape didn't look to be in any better of condition than Harry or Malfoy did to Bill. Remus seemed harried more than anything. "You go on, Blaise," Remus said quietly.
"I'll wait for you outside, Weasley."
"What has been going on around here?" Bill managed.
"I believe the muggle expression is the inmates are running the asylum," Severus said with exhausted sarcasm.
"Harry said... thank you, for bringing Percy home," Bill said quietly.
Severus shook his head, dark eyes blazing.
"You couldn't have done anything else for Penelope, not and got yourself and Percy out alive."
"A Weasley with sense."
"Severus!" Remus cut in sharply.
"Werewolf!" Severus shot back in a deadly tone.
Bill looked from one to the other, unsure of what to make of the strange dynamic that seemed to be in play between them. He was unsure what to make of just about everything he'd seen in the course of the day.
"Has Dumbledore..." Bill trailed off, not completely sure what he even wanted to ask let alone how to word it.
"Albus means well, unfortunately that isn't counting for much," Remus said tightly.
"The bloody fool was playing his games far too much and his pawns decided to stage a revolt with the very things he gave them to use on his behalf." Severus sneered.
Bill nodded slowly. Not comforted, but still relieved to hear both men at least tentatively affirm that Albus Dumbledore was still on the side of the light.
"Go back to your family, Weasley. Your brother won't survive to see the morning. Things must move quickly."
Bill nodded again. "Thanks," he offered lamely
"Can you hold the illusion?" Draco glared at Tonks.
"Just do your part, little cos," Tonks hissed, Draco still looked like hell and the few hours sleep he'd gotten hadn't done much good to her eyes. She'd wanted to wait another day for this hair-brained scheme but the kids were having none of it.
"Hogwarts is ready. Dumbledore is asleep yet and Voldemort is quiet so we'd best move while we can." Luna said quietly.
Draco couldn't quite stop the snide glare in Luna's direction. The strange Ravenclaw was useful with her ease in communicating with Hogwarts, but the fact she was odd enough in the head to happily chat with a pile of rocks, even a magical pile of rocks, was rather irritating.
"Let's get this over with then," Draco snapped.
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