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Fifty-Four: Wards and Warnings

Harry landed at the other end of his Floo trip, surprisingly keeping his feet although he couldn't keep from stumbling forward a few steps from his momentum. A quick scan of the room showed that it was currently uninhabited apart from an unconscious Lucius Malfoy lying over by the window on a lounge. Coughing a bit from the last grate he'd passed before reaching the Malfoy's, he waved away the ash and tried to draw in some clean air. A subtle scent of sandalwood became noticeable once Harry got past the smoky air from the Floo.

He took a step forward and nearly tripped over a bottle which had been hidden in the shadow of a nearby wingback chair. Recognizing it as the bottle that Severus had brought with him caused a wave of anger and worry for the man, and he deposited the bottle into an inner pocket of his robes. Sending an awful glare at the elder Malfoy's body, Harry silently crossed the room to start his stealthy search for Severus and his captors. The fact that Voldemort was likely one of them only increased his anxious tremors, but he proceeded with the determination normally attributed to his chosen House.

Setting along the cold and long hallway of marble and wood, Harry ghosted up to the first door and canted his head to listen. The impression of a presence was there in the way that one might sense the wind blowing beyond a closed window. It was enough to assure him that there was no silencing spell on the door; he heard nothing beyond to imply any activity.

Skulking to the next door to repeat the process, Harry frowned in thought- this was going to take too long. He couldn't do this through the entire mansion. A frown, and Harry reminded himself in a voice that sounded much like Severus speaking in his head: 'You're a wizard. Act like one'. And so Harry tried reaching out with his senses beyond hearing.

At first it felt like a buzz of subliminal vibrations, but it was different in a way that Harry couldn't quite describe. It came from the fifth door down the hallway, so Harry snuck over to get a better look. Slowly Harry reached towards the doorway, but stopped abruptly. There was something there, like the prickling of an electric charge... but magical. A ward, Harry decided. There are likely tons of them scattered throughout the mansion as well. He had to narrow it down further.

Again Harry reached out with his thoughts. This time he focused upon the idea of Severus and those times that Harry had found himself delving into Severus' magic for one reason or another. He recalled the time that he had 'filtered' the magic to free it of Voldemort's influence and in reaction had reduced Dumbledore's as well. But it wasn't eliminated completely; Harry scowled to himself even as he searched for that feeling once more. The elemental rush of Severus' power most frequently manifested itself as a feeling of surging wind and water, and Harry tried to find that sensation somewhere around him. He began to move.

When he opened his eyes Harry found himself facing a blank wall of stone in the middle of a hallway that ended several feet further down in a niche covered with expensive looking tapestries and a surprisingly comfortable looking armchair. Again Harry slowly reached out towards the area of the wall where he'd stopped to test for that sensation of warding, similar to the doorway he'd felt earlier. There was nothing that he could sense, yet he felt the urge to somehow walk beyond, as though there should be a passage behind. It occurred to Harry that there might be an alternate way around the wall from another passageway, but it was just as likely that there was a secret door somewhere. He spent a few frustrating minutes trying to find a button, toggle or lever somewhere within the stone and was unable to do so.

Harry's attention was drawn then by a sound from back down the hall inside one of the rooms. In hopes of ending his search, he quietly went to listen at the door which had a new-looking bar and hook around the door handles holding it shut from the outside.

The sound was distant and irregular. At first Harry wasn't certain as to what it was, but then he was able to recognize the sound of frustrated stomping across the room from his experiences with Dudley. He remembered many a time that his cousin would angrily stomp his way up the stairs to his room when he'd had an argument with one of his friends, or when he'd been carefully refused a second pudding, sending showers of dust upon Harry in his cupboard.

The stomping ended in a sudden thud against the door, followed by something heavy falling to the Floor on the other side. That was the final straw, and Harry reached for the bar to unlock and open the door.

Harry's first view was impressions of a maroon and wood room, filled with books, one of which was resting upon the Floor at his feet. The second was of the swiftly approaching Draco Malfoy in a rare show of rage, his mouth opened to shout at Harry in impulsive reaction.

Flickers of memory were brought to Harry's mind in swift procession. The sound of Severus' voice warming when speaking to Draco's father, the easy banter between the two, Severus' concern for Draco's welfare. It was that which helped Harry make his decision. He raised a finger to his lips in a swift request for silence, hoping for the best.

Draco was enough of a Slytherin to keep a reign on his anger, cutting off the shout until he could learn more. "What are /you/ doing here?" Draco hissed angrily.

"I'm here to free Severus," Harry replied, working hard to keep a reign on his own temper. "He's here, but I've no idea where they've taken him."

Grey eyes narrowing, Draco's bitter anger slipped its reins a little, "Why are you calling him by his first name? You couldn't care less if he lives or dies."

Taking out the bottle of potion, Harry displayed it to Draco and frowned at him. "Things change. Severus made this for your father and got captured when bringing it to him- because of the bottled message you sent him. He was worried about you."

The blonde scowled at Harry, but buried behind the expression were faint traces of surprise and concern. "Where are Severus and my Father?" he asked while taking a prowling step towards Harry.

"I can't find Severus," Harry replied while cautiously looking up and down the hall again for any sign of the captors. "I've been looking. I think he's behind a secret door down the end of the hallway, but I can't find out how to open it."

Again Draco seemed surprised, but stubbornly repeated, "Where is my Father?"

"He's in one of the rooms that way," Harry pointed in the direction he originally came from. "A room with a Floo; it's how Severus and then I got here."

"You came alone?" Draco frowned as he used his newly gained greater height to back Harry out into the hallway and towards the Floo room.

A shock of realization came over Harry as he replied, "Yes... Yes, I did." Harry wondered that no one came in after him, then remembered how Dumbledore had been nearest to the Floo... how the Floo powder had been thrown in at the perfect time for Harry to jump in and take advantage of it. Either Dumbledore was keeping the others from joining him, or something else was up. When Draco subtly moved in a way to urge Harry forward and in the direction he wanted, Harry stopped short. "That secret door is in the other direction. Can't you open it?"

Scowling, Draco's voice took on a mannerism similar to Severus in its determination and prompting to obey. "Firstly, you are going to bring my Father that potion and we're going to give it to him. Because, secondly, that door is one of the secured ones that I haven't been given access to until I'm ... older." Draco's frown grew a shade uncomfortable, but he stepped forward to get Harry going again. "Now hurry up, Potter. Only my Father can open that door for us."

"Will he do that?" Harry resisted with his own stubbornness. "Doesn't he have loyalties to his Master?"

Draco's scowl grew, touched by anger and frustration. "Don't speak of what you know nothing about. Now shut up and get going."

Harry disliked being treated as though he was Crabbe or Goyle, but he turned back towards the Floo room anyway. If Lucius was the only one able to get them in, he'd just have to trust his instincts and hope that this time the Malfoys would be on his side. Perhaps what happened now would result in the Malfoys leaving Voldemort as Severus had been urging Lucius to do. He stopped suddenly in realization and turned to Draco. "What about your Mother?"

"She's visiting with friends in Rome. We can get a message to her once we've gotten Father and Severus out and she won't come back here."

With Draco's statement, Harry turned a wide-eyed gaze upon the other boy. Draco only returned it, the Slytherin's expression calm and distant as they entered the Floo room. When Draco spotted Lucius on the lounge he quickly walked over to check how he was. Harry followed at a slower pace, carrying the bottled potion over and advised, "The potion isn't finished. Severus said he'd intended to try and see if a dose that was taken early would help even if it might be less effective."

Draco glanced without expression over his shoulder at Harry even as one hand ran over Lucius' arm to soothe at the muscle spasms there. "Yes," he muttered. "Severus had mentioned that once a while ago. Give it here."

Wondering at how many times Severus and Lucius had needed to use this anti-cruciatus potion, Harry bit his lip and handed it over. The efficiency with which Draco urged his father to open his mouth enough and helped him to swallow convinced Harry with a wash of regret that it was in all likelihood too many.

The next few minutes passed in a wash of bemused disbelief for Harry as he listened to Draco explain what had happened while Lucius slowly showed signs of recovery; the elder Malfoy still couldn't control all of his body's trembles but at least it had lessened and his eyes were able to focus with awareness. When Draco mentioned how Harry had released him from the room that Voldemort had imprisoned him in, Harry found himself the recipient of an extremely intent gaze. Lucius' grey eyes flickered only minimally, but Harry felt as though he were being taken apart for analysis during those uncomfortable seconds, a feeling he didn't like from the man he still provisionally despised.

When Draco's summary was over, Lucius nodded and settled a hand with wordless thanks upon Draco's arm before pressing himself up to sit with effort. "Take me to the hallway," Lucius rasped.

Helping his Father rise, Draco brought Lucius' arm around his shoulders where he took most of Lucius' weight before carefully following the impatiently leading Harry. Lucius put effort into his pace although he was still quite unsteady and warned, "The door you describe has a release in the second room down from the end. As I'm not at my best and the two of you haven't finished your respective educations, it would be best to take this slowly and quietly rather than rushing in headlong." The last of his words were obviously directed at Harry as his intent stare fell upon him again.

Ruffling, Harry growled, "I've been quiet so far; I know the value of caution." Feeling the urge to express his anger at Lucius further, Harry instead grit his teeth and led the way to the indicated door, listening at the entryway first and then sensing the ward upon it. With a sigh, he stepped aside and looked at the approaching Lucius impatiently.

"Well," Lucius smirked faintly around a pained grimace, "At least you know enough to feel for wards before entering a room; congratulations, Potter." Reaching the door with Draco's help, Lucius drew in a slow breath and murmuring a few words, touching a specific area on the door's surface and then stepping back, gesturing for Harry to enter.

"We don't have time for this," Harry growled even as he advanced towards the door to check as to whether Lucius did indeed remove the ward. Finding the doorway clear, he cautiously opened it. He kept trying to reach out to sense anything while he slowly walked into the room and found that the room was alright, apart from the back corner where some object of dark power rested that he'd rather avoid by standing right here, thank you very much. Harry did so, glaring at Lucius.

Chucking quietly, Lucius directed Draco to help him over to the back corner where he again murmured words and pressed against an area close to the object that Harry wanted to avoid. "The passageway is opening now. It closes automatically, so I suggest we get there before it does." With that, Lucius pushed himself at a slightly faster pace to get across the room and to the passageway in question. As Harry closed the room's door behind him, the wards activated once more. He caught up to the Malfoys who had just passed into the passageway and stepped in after them. With a surprisingly quiet slide of stone, the entrance slid shut behind them.

Harry reached out to the familiar wash of power flavored by wind and water. They were on their way to find Severus.


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