Chapter Thirty-Nine: Saving Percy
The Hospital Wing was utter chaos when Minerva MacGonagall stepped into it early the next morning. She as well as Professors Sprout and Flitwick were searching for their errant Apprentices.
Minerva could only stare at the scene that met her. Arthur, Bill and Charlie Weasley were all trying to calm a near-violently hysterical Molly and keep her back out of the way. The bed Poppy was frantically working over was hard to make out much of, but the shock of red hair on the pillow, combined with the presence of the elder Weasley boys and their parents could only mean it was Percy who laid there. Pansy and Seamus seemed to be helping Poppy. Millicent, Tonks and Luna were ... keeping back aurors and a pair of St. Mungo's mediwizards at wand point?
Poppy and the mediwizards were consulting loudly back and forth through the living barrier of the three young women who weren't letting anyone close to the bed. And had presumably used the wands they had in hand judging by the pair of petrified aurors on the floor.
Harry was facing off with Minister Fudge, flanked by Neville, Blaise and Draco.
"McGonagall, I demand to see Dumbledore!"
"I already told you, the Headmaster was unwell last night and is still sleeping due to the healing potions administered," Harry cut in.
Minerva had years of practice at keeping her expression calm no matter what the shock. Was Albus truly ill? Was this yet another of his manipulations to get Harry to take charge or had the boys purposely kept Albus from this?
"Merlin's sake, someone shut that COW UP!" Pansy shouted, barely able to hear Poppy's instruction's over Molly's hysterics.
"Better me than you, Mr. Weasley, she's already upset with me," Harry said calmly and lifted his wand. The Healing Sleep spell surprised the St. Mungo's mediwizards by the way they turned and gawked. Minerva knew the spell as well. She'd heard Poppy despair over being able to cast it for Narcissa Black years before after a particularly bad 'date' with Lucius her sixth year. It took nearly Sorcerer level ability.
What surprised Minerva further was the quick and near seamless spell casting the others employed. A bed was moved by Neville, Molly was caught with a levitation spell and laid on the bed by Draco, and a second bed was moved and transfigured by Blaise, turned into a long sofa for the Weasley men to sit on. Perfect seamless spellwork. Far more seamless than many of the Marauder's pranks, it rivaled their mothers' ability to anticipate each others spells and add onto the overall effect.
"What spell was that! What did you do! Potter, I will have you in Azkaban for attacking Mrs. Weasley!" Fudge shouted red-faced.
"It's a Healing Sleep. While Mrs. Weasley is not ill, she's had a number of severe shocks and is extremely overwrought. A Healing Sleep will certainly do her no harm with the stress she has been under the last several hours." Harry said disgustedly. "Really, I should think you'd recognize the meaning of the words to the spell even if you don't have the vaguest clue of basic mediwizardry."
Minerva couldn't stop the blink at Luna's disappearance.
"She does not have an apparation licence!"
"If you ever read Hogwarts: A History, you'd know that it is impossible to Apparate in Hogwarts or on Hogwarts grounds. The wards prevent all apparition as a safety precaution," Harry said in an imperious tone that had the corner of Minerva's mouth twitching. It was a rather fine imitation of the dismaying lecture tone Miss Granger tended to give Harry and the youngest Mr. Weasley.
"Sir, Percy and Penelope Weasley's home was found in charred ruins, with the Dark Mark raised high above it. Percy did give us four names--which you heard. Petrus Parkinson, Rudolphus LeStrange, Bellatrix LeStrange and Marcus Flint. You may doubt the veracity of the LeStranges, though they are known Death Eaters and currently at large having escaped from Azkaban. Percy would certainly recognize his own grandfather, especially after the shock of finding out Petrus Parkinson is his grandfather, and he had had numerous dealing with Mr. Parkinson at the Ministry. And he most definitely would recognize Marcus. The two of them were in the same year; you might miss or forget a Ravenclaw or a Hufflepuff, but Gryffindors have always known all the Slytherins and vice versa. The house rivalries run too deeply between Gryffindor and Slytherin, as well as the fact Gryffindor and Slytherin are paired for most classes."
"He should be at Saint.."
"He is at the most secure location in all of Britain. If Voldemort could breach the wards of Hogwarts he would have already been here with Headmaster Dumbledore and myself both here and taking the top to positions on his to kill list." Harry said shortly. "It is Mr. Weasley's decision but I offer the protection of Hogwarts and will personally see to any expense in bringing supplies and specialists in, as well as see to it that he is in a private ward away from the students, and I assure you his presence will not disrupt the school-used portions of the castle."
"You may pay me back, interest free. Though I might prefer to work something out in trade with Bill; there are lots of old dusty trunks to sort through and many will need inspection by a proper curse-breaker."
"And the ability to question Mr. Weasley--Percy Weasley?" Fudge glared.
"If he lives of course he will cooperate with any questions that the Ministry has. He's a Weasley," Harry said simply.
"There is no way to question the young man now and I do believe our presence is doing nothing but making things more difficult in his treatment."
"Thank you, Auror..."
Harry raised an eyebrow.
"Brother number three," Millicent called out. "And call this twit off before I hex him through the wall, Clive."
"Rupert," Clive Bulstrode sighed. "Will you stop?"
"Leave it, Rupert,"
"Do you want to be humiliated in front of the Minister by being hexed into St. Mungo's by your baby sister?" Clive Bulstrode smirked at the younger man. Then gave his sister a hard glare.
"There is still the matter of Aurors--"
"Hogwarts is part of the Slytherin Estate. Technically it is its own principality, at least in the eyes of the law. The Ministry, and by extension, you, are here only by the grace of the Slytherin Heir's hospitality. The Heir has upheld his end of the treaties to the letter, it has been the Ministry who has violated the treaty, Minister Fudge. You have barged far past where you were invited and have impeded treatment of a man given sanctuary at Hogwarts," Draco said icily.
"How did he get here..."
"He accepted, and signed the magical contract for the teaching accreditation program, thus binding him to Hogwarts. Hogwarts has two of the Founder's Heirs bound to her," Blaise said. "The Castle itself brought him here. He is hers for the next seven years. And by that technicality, due full protection of the Slytherin Estate Laws."
Fudge scowled. "There's--"
"The laws concerning Hogwarts date back to the original confederation of Wizarding Communities of Britain. The seventh edict, which states the permanent exemption of all Slytherin held lands at the time of the confederation. By the same token as the elder clans that allied with, but refused to join, the confederation which after seventeen years of bickering led to the first Ministry of Magic. All properties held by the families at that time were forever excluded from being part of Britain; properties purchased afterward in the recognized borders of Magical Britain were completely subject to British Magical Law. Slytherin, Gentry, O'Malley, Morrigan, and Dyfed were amongst the families that kept their clan or family holdings from the Confederation."
Minerva had all she could do to keep her face as neutral as possible while the tag-team recitation of the Ministry's by laws and excluded clanholds were recited by Draco Malfoy and Blaise Zabini.
"Preposterous," Fudge spluttered at one point.
"Entailment Act of 1104, Minister. Signed off on by Minister Artemis Potter."
"Sir, he's right," Auror Bulstrode said quietly.
"Crimes took place on British soil and you are harboring a witness."
"He is a legal resident of Slytherin land and will be cared for under our supervision. Aurors Bulstrode and Bulstrode may stay as your representatives, you will cease being disruptive while Madame Pomfrey is doing her work and leave Hogwarts grounds immediately."
"Not until I speak to Albus."
"He is merely the headmaster of the school. He can do nothing about the residents of Slytherin land."
"I will see you pay for this, Potter!"
"Good bye, Minister."
"Kirkpatrick and Fitzwilliams will stay."
"Bulstrode and Bulstrode will, because their sister is a resident of Slytherin land and will vouch for and be held responsible for their conduct and safety on Slytherin land. If you do not wish Bulstrode and Bulstrode to stay, no one shall."
"The two of you will subject to Veritaserum questioning upon return to the ministry!" Fudge blustered and stormed from the hospital wing with the rest of the officials.
"Might we have our lessons for the day sent up to the room across the hall, Professor McGonagall? We'll be needed here most of the day."
Minerva blinked. Polite as could be.
Blaise Zabini bowed to Potter, "I'll personally fetch your lessons from Professor Snape."
Harry gave a nod of dismissal.
"We need the skin regenerating potion--" Seamus called out.
Luna reappeared with a cauldron.
"Is that the skin regeneration--"
"No. I'll be right back," Luna disappeared.
"May we have our lessons sent up here for the day?"
"Mr. Potter, very well, but we will be having a long discussion as soon as Mr. Weasley is stabilized." Minerva glared.
"Bill, Mr. Weasley, could you two come with me please?" Harry said.
"I need to go to the greenhouses for an hour or two, Harry," Neville said.
"I'll tend Bulstrode's stable chores." Draco volunteered.
Harry gave another nod.
Minerva did not like the Lord and Master routine one bit. Nor did she like Draco's sudden subservience to Harry. Draco Malfoy volunteering to muck stalls and feed animals? What on earth had happened overnight?
Draco made his way to the stables, quickly ascertained that no one was around, then pulled the small crystal out of his pocket and tapped it twice with his wand. Dobby appeared with three other house elves.
"What is Naughty Master Draco being wanting?"
Draco gritted his teeth. "Bulstrode is supposed to be cleaning out pens and feeding animals. She is stuck in the hospital wing making sure her brothers don't set foot anywhere outside of there. I need to be sent to Professor Snape's sitting room and I need you to do Bulstrode's chores."
"Mistress Millicent is supposed to be doing--"
"Mistress Millicent is busy else where! And send one of them to help Longbottom in the greenhouses."
Dobby looked doubtful a minute but then nodded and snapped his fingers.
"Millie, what the devil is going on here?"
"Clive, just stand against the wall there, or summon a chair and sit down there."
Clive Bulstrode stared at his only sister, the baby of the family, for a good long time. Their father always joked that Thomas should have been the girl, the only one of them to inherit their mother's short slight build, and Millie should have been one of the boys. Millie had, thankfully, stopped growing it seemed though her bare miss of six foot and rather broad shouldered stocky build were definitely the feminized version of her father's--and majority of her brothers.
Merlin, she'd grown up. Of course he was used to seeing her in too baggy clothes, generally covered in mud and Merlin knew what else as animal crazy as she was. Curves now offset the stocky build nicely. She'd never be a beauty, and most certainly never slim and petite like the slightly googly-eyed blonde girl popping in and out. Where she'd come up with the muggle looking denim trousers and somewhat clingy knit short sleeved shirt Clive couldn't begin to imagine. Perhaps Higgs wasn't just after the small inheritance Millie would be getting from their grandmother after all, though he wasn't sure if that was a good thought or not.
She'd gained confidence that was for sure. The cornered animal air that had been around her since she'd started school was gone. Much more the rough-housing-imp that had tagged after her big brothers in early childhood, though the rough-housing imp was grown up and bloody quick with a wand, and just as quick with her fists. Perhaps they hadn't done Millie any favors, after their mother's death when she was just two their father had done the best he could, but Millie had very much been lumped in as another one of the boys more often than not.
"Clive, just sit."
"Are you okay?"
"I'm bloody fantastic," she snapped sarcastically. "Been better than a bleedin' holiday to the Bermuda Triangle round here. What with the Ministry trying to force us to make the Lineage Potion or be expelled from the program, and oh the whole mess of Regis Isle folk. We were good enough to take care of them when St. Mungo's couldn't handle all of them, and house the refuges, and do the bloody aurors work by going through and getting lists of dead and missing and dealing with traumatized orphans. We take care of one of our own--which that pompass little windbag is now--and Fudge is here trying to arrest us."
Rupert Bulstrode gaped at his little sister. "I think we better just sit, Clive."
Clive laughed and shook his head. "Really, Rupe?"
"She's gotten bloody scary," Rupert nodded toward their little sister.
"Nah, she's finally got the control and ability to use everything she learned from us."
"Like I said, she's gotten bloody scary."
The brothers sat and watched the treatment of Percy Weasley with interest. They noted McGonagall's stiff behavior towards the Potter kid and watched Bill Weasley and his father walk out with the Potter kid.
"Bill was in your year?" Rupert asked his brother.
Clive nodded absently. He and Bill Weasley had gotten along in school. Clive being one of the three non-Slytherins of the Bulstrode siblings had been friends with the redhead to an extent. Bill and he had both been offered extra Defense and Charms classes by Flitwick, Clive's head of house which they'd both spent most Tuesday evenings from third year on with the extra lessons. He was going to watch Bill closely. He didn't imagine Bill Weasley would have much to do with anything even vaguely dark or connected to Voldemort.
He wasn't going to ask his sister, it was obvious she wasn't going to talk much, especially not after Fudge's pronouncement of attempting to force them to submit to Veritaserum when they returned. He'd heard some grumbling about Fudge and the Apprentices and Dumbledore, but honestly had been so busy at Regis Isle that he hadn't really absorbed the little he heard and had long since given up on the Prophet for anything remotely reliable in the form of news.
"Cards?" Rupert asked.
Harry was half panicked at what Draco might be doing. He didn't believe for one minute that the blonde Slytherin was actually going to be doing Millicent's chores. Though he did give Draco the benefit of the doubt that he'd probably at least go to the stables and stay there until he was sure he wouldn't be spotted going off and doing whatever. And Draco would probably get one of the Tower Elves to take care of the chores, if only to cover his own tracks, since he said he was going to clean the stalls and penns and feed the animals.
He wasn't looking forward to the conversation or to dealing with McGonagall later. She'd been an unexpected wrench thrown in the works but had played along better than he'd hoped. He supposed after working with Dumbledore for so long she was used to ... well, improv performances.
"Can I put you under a sleeping spell for a few minutes, Mr. Weasley? Or Bill can. Bill's bound to Hogwarts with the Teaching program same as Percy."
"I owe you a Wizard's Debt."
"Percy can't leave the infirmary alive, not while Voldemort is loose, not while Fudge is in power. If they think he's dead, the old Funeral Rites will be observed. Fudge isn't going to get to have a body to make into some sort of political game. I want Penelope's as well. We'll bury her, but use a golem for the Old Funeral Rites. No one will know the difference. They'll think she was burnt."
"I'm trying to save him. Believe that."
"Do it, Bill." Arthur Weasley swallowed nodding to his eldest son.
"What do you mean to do with Percy?" Bill asked once his father was quietly snoring.
"He's in that bad of shape that it might not--we might be burning a body for real, Bill. Snape tried to get him out of there sooner."
Harry looked down. "Snape killed Penelope, she was already dying. It looked like she had miscarried. She was--she was beyond recovery. Snape was allowed the choice between the two of them, he dared speak up, he might get more information from Dumbledore if he 'rescued' a victim. Especially a Weasley. If she'd survived Penelope would have been--well she'd have had a slim hope of being as functional as Neville's parents, doubtful, but possible. Her mind was gone. And she likely never would have walked or moved again. There was nothing left for her but pain and madness. He managed to keep them from casting the Cruciatus on Percy again. Between Snape and my vision, we know most of what was done to Percy, or at least after he was taken to Voldemort. He basically promised to poison Percy here."
"Snape is making a poisonous version of a potion Pomfrey is going to need. So he can say he made it and it was delivered to the hospital wing. If Percy recovers, he's going to have a sudden relapse and die--a golem will be burnt. Understand me, Bill?"
"You're going to hide him? But where?"
"Wizards Oath, Bill, please."
Bill swore the oath softly.
"There's a dozen towers not used, dozens of secret passages and magically hidden rooms. The twins, Ron, Ginny, Dean and Hermione are in one now. Do we bring them out? Make a show of how bad Percy is? It's honestly that bad, but I think we can save him."
"Yes, get them. If Mum thinks Perce died it'll be--well, if the others are with her, school's only three days away."
Harry swallowed and nodded.
Bill looked down and studied Harry intently. Seeing the pain and exhaustion, the slightly glazed look that came with too many pain potions mixed with concentration and energy potions. "Who's monitoring your potions?"
"Who isn't?" Harry snorted. "I had a vision in front of the bunch of them, decided I need a round the clock keeper in Seamus. Blaise has set himself up as must-tattle-to-Snape-and-Remus. I'm not overdosing on potions."
Bill nodded. "Did Malfoy actually go muck out stalls?"
"I bloody doubt it, he's up to something. I'm too tired to guess what."
"Can he be trusted?"
"To act in his own best interest--his best interest is that Snape and I are both alive, Hogwarts is as strong as possible and Voldemort dead. He'll be his usual pain in the arse self every inch of the way but he's on our side.
Bill raised his wand. "Finite Incantatem."
Arthur Weasley looked from his son to Harry.
"Don't mourn anyone sent to the Old Rites with the Slytherin Gentry crest. It's an insult." Harry said giving the line Snape and Malfoy had cooked up. Thankfully the Slytherins had been thinking even through the worst of the hellish night.
Arthur hoped he was understanding right. "Percy--"
"Mourn Gryffindor, not Slytherin-Gentry."
Arthur nodded. "Molly,"
"I can't trust her just now. I--"
Arthur nodded again.
"She won't forgive me if it comes to pass I know, but we don't have any other way."
"We need to go get the kids, Dumbledore had them tucked away here."
"Let's get them then." Arthur nodded. "They need to know about Penelope and Percy."
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