The Leader

Chapter 54

"…nks, Tonks wake up! Come on!" was the first thing the young Auror heard as she came somewhat aware of her surroundings. Why was Shacklebolt shaking her? How much had she drunk last night? Grumbling and groaning, she tried to bat his hand away, only for his insistence on shaking her to remain steadfast. The pain in her head was much stronger than just a hangover; she couldn't help but wince as the pain began to truly be comprehended. Had she fallen and hurt herself? Was that why she was so cold and Shacklebolt's voice sounded very worried for her. "M'fine," she murmured, reluctantly opening her eyes to reassure her partner that she was truly alright.

Blinking rapidly, apprehension began to fill Tonks, wherever she was, she was cold, it was damp, and more importantly, it was pitch black. "Oh, no, no, no," she murmured, sitting up, groaning, reaching behind her head only to hiss in pain. She could feel her fingers were coated with blood even though she couldn't see them once she withdrew tentatively not wishing to aggravate the wound further. "Whe…where…are we?" Tonks rasped out, her throat and mouth felt like sandpaper, she was so thirsty, just how long had they been out of it? She had a head injury; it was dangerous enough as it was without getting medical aid.

"Your guess would be as good as mine," the quiet but deep voice of Shacklebolt answered, trying to observe as much as he could see of Tonks in this dump.

"How long?" Tonks then asked as she weakly got to her feet, grateful for the wall behind her as dizziness swept over her.

"Don't know," Shacklebolt replied, watching as Tonks moved around, trying to get a sense of her surroundings as he had done perhaps an hour ago. "Might be between twelve and twenty-four hours," giving his best guess. He was hungry, his stomach was growling fiercely, he had eaten at the Weasley's just before going to the Ministry, considering how hungry he was, he'd say it was at least twelve hours probably more. In fact, if he was to guess he would say it was more than twenty-four hours.

"Death Eaters?" Tonks murmured eyes wide; the thought of facing Death Eaters and Voldemort quite frankly scared her to death.

"I haven't seen anyone yet," Shacklebolt sighed, leaning against the wall, shivering in cold. Their wands had been taken along with everything they'd had in their pockets, including the damn files they'd collected at the Ministry.

"They haven't come to gloat?" Tonks gaped; it went against everything she believed the Death Eaters to be.

"Keep your voice down," Shacklebolt admonished with a hiss, "Last thing we really want is them coming down here." wherever here was, damn it, if they came he knew what would happen. Torture then death. He wasn't in any hurry for that to happen, thank you very much.

"What…what if it's not them?" Tonks whispered, revealing her worst fears. "The Death Eaters I mean…what if it's him?" and by him, she didn't mean Voldemort, she meant Dumbledore. "Do you think he found out?" or were they just being extremely paranoid.

"No, he couldn't have," Shacklebolt denied the possibility immediately, rubbing his hands trying to warm them up, a fire would be fantastic right about now. He was cold right through to his bones, it was too bad he had on light summer robes, his winter ones were imbued with warming charms, and they would have at least warded off most of the chill. "At least not so quickly," he amended, but he had to be right, they'd barely found out themselves…Dumbledore had no way of knowing that they'd been in touch with Severus and Harry let alone that they'd been to gather evidence in the Ministry - it was where they worked for Merlin's sake.

"More likely to be Potter than Dumbledore at this point," Shacklebolt admitted, sliding down against the wall until he was sitting on the floor, unable to force his legs to remain standing, at the price of his backside becoming as cold as everywhere else.

"What…why?" Tonks asked, trying to focus on Kingsley, her mind was slightly muddled, she had a feeling she should already know the answer to what the Auror had said. Regretfully it was like she was sifting through sludge mentally to get to any thoughts. This was bad, she had to get out of here and get to St. Mungo's…she was still bleeding, albeit not a lot, but it was enough to be concerned especially if she had been unconscious for over twelve hours.

Shacklebolt threw her a concerned glance, which went unseen in the darkness that surrounded them. "Just a feeling I have," he replied, becoming wary now, caution and suspicion becoming prominent within him. Sliding over towards her, he placed his fingers against her lips before tapping her ear. Letting her know that they could very well be in a bugged cell. Whoever it was could be after information, and the last thing they wanted was the Death Eaters to get it. Honestly, they didn't know who the hell it was, and quite frankly that was a worrying prospect. He would have said without a doubt Death Eaters a few weeks ago. This whole thing with Dumbledore…was overwhelming him, he felt as though his entire world had shifted on its axis. "Are you alright?" she didn't sound right at all.

"No," Tonks murmured, she wasn't, her head felt like a bowling ball, and tiredness was beginning to set in and she did not want to sleep. No, she couldn't sleep, two different dangers, internal ones from her injury and the fear of her abductors, the last thing she really remembered was Apparating towards the flat then nothing.

"TONKS! NO! Don't sleep!" Shacklebolt barked, screw being quiet, she couldn't fall back asleep; she might never wake up again. "Stay awake!"

"I'll try," Tonks whispered tiredly.

"Just talk…talk about…about anything!" he urged her, he couldn't damn well see to know if she was remaining awake or not.

"How we're fucking screwed?" Tonks tried to laugh but it caused pain to throb through her wound like someone had just poured salt into the open wound. A wince quickly replaced the attempted laughter, which had been bitter and derisive. "We're Auror's damn it!" this shouldn't have happened, if they couldn't keep themselves safe how could the public honestly rely on them to help when it was required? Not that it mattered; the prospects of them getting out was pretty damn slim.

"We'll get out of here, somehow," Shacklebolt said, lying through his teeth trying to comfort his partner.

Tonks snorted, her face filled with a look of disbelief that went unseen.

Shacklebolt just grimaced, yeah; he didn't think they'd be that lucky either.

Silence reined afterwards, both of them shaken to the core, worried about what may come. What their fate may be.

Shacklebolt jerked awake, blinking in surprise that they were no longer surrounded by darkness, outside of their cell there was a window streaming in daylight. Scrambling to his feet, he made his way over to the bars, pressing his head against them, trying to see outside, to see what was there. His heart sank trees that were all he could see in the distance, the chance of them being saved if they made enough noise went way down past zero.

Abruptly turning back to face Tonks, he wandered over to her, she looked very pale, beads of sweat coated her forehead, this was bad, and it could be a sign of an infection or something worse. He was very reluctant to shake her awake given her current state; he didn't want to jar the head wound any further.

"Tonks? Can you hear me? I need you to wake up now," Shacklebolt told her, holding her elbows refraining from shaking her. "WAKE-" the sound of a door opening with loud grating noise caused Shacklebolt to twist around, keeping his partner out of the line of sight and possible torture. His heart pounded erratically each footstep that was taken.

Was he finally about to find out who had kidnapped them and why? Or were they to be taunted?

"All has been quiet with the other three clans, they're adhering to your rules," Carson commented from where he sat, stretched out his body relaxed but his face was one of respect as he directed his sole attention to Harry, his chosen Leader. If there was anyone deserving of that respect then it was definitely this vampire in front of him. "There have been no supernatural killings, I've been in touch with all my contacts around London and the immediate areas." mostly medical examiners and a few crime scene investigators, he even had a few cops on his payroll, or rather Harry's payroll but they all dealt with him.

"That's good," Harry nodded curtly, he intended to keep it that way, although he knew that if werewolves had to defend their territory they would, and the humans or wizards would lose. He understood that and if it did happen, nothing would be done about it. He only wished to prevent the needless killing, he didn't care for Muggles one way or the other, but he acknowledged that if pushed and they found out…things would and could get violently messy and very quickly. They were very tech savvy, and he had no doubt they could make something that could take them all down without having to come into contact with them. "Pull back to one watcher," it was time to give them a little leeway.

Carson nodded that he understood and would see to his next order.

"Where is Brecon?" Harry asked Rick, who they reported to when he wasn't there.

"He hasn't reported in tonight," Rick replied immediately, sensing Harry's worry. "If he's late he's definitely on the trail of something important." Brecon wasn't one for tardiness, in fact out of them all he was definitely the most punctual.

"If he doesn't turn up, gather a team together and go find him," Harry stated firmly, he wasn't going to allow anything to happen to his people, not on his watch. He had promised them safety and protection and he would do his damn best to see that through.

"I will," Rick promised solemnly, both Wyatt and Brecon were the 'children' of the group, the most looked after and protected, despite the fact they didn't need it. Youngest too as a matter of fact.

"Vince, how has your mission gone?" Harry turning to the matter at hand, he would panic if there was a reason to.

"We administered the Draught, they're in an enchanted sleep," Vince spoke clearly and precisely; "We got in and out without any trouble, and did as you asked, made it look like a struggle. They're in the safe house, for now, it's protected and Tim is on watch."

"Good, now you know what to do, apply for their jobs, I need eyes and ears in every department in the Ministry." Harry stated calmly, once the war was over they could be revived, and 'return' to civilization after being 'saved' as it were.

"I was thinking of applying for a job in the Muggle artifact office," Vince said, his tone questioning, "People overlook that department, I doubt even Voldemort has bothered to push for a spy there."

"They are employing people for that department?" Harry queried if it could be called a department it was a single room with two wizards.

"Perkins has found it rather…difficult as of late," Vince said with a smirk, he had been leaving enchanted objects in the most disgusting areas, Muggle toilets mostly, or sewers. "I heard him muttering about quitting, I do believe a spot will open soon enough."

"You want to work with my father?" Bill said wryly, "Do you have any idea what you'd be getting yourself into?" he had always thought Perkins was mad putting up with his father. His father worked in a department about Muggle items when he had no idea what most of them were let alone how to say them properly. He'd learned more from Harry and everyone here than he had from his father who was utterly obsessed with Muggle things but didn't comprehend their uses.

"Perkin's is a pureblood, he'd probably never stepped foot in the Muggle world before his job," Vince sneered, "I, on the other hand, have extensively traveled between both, I think I'd be more adept at the job than either of them."

"I have no doubt," Bill said wryly, from where he sat, "Just saying that my father could sit and talk about Muggle objects all day and does it when he returns to the Burrow. He must have tried to figure out the function of a 'rubber duck' for months like eight years ago, it was all he put in his letters, P.S do you know the function of a rubber duck? It drove me mad."

Vince stared incredulously, his lips twitching as if he was having to valiantly fight back his amusement. "Ah," he could think of nothing else to say.

The room inhaled sharply, their heads spinning towards the door, both vampires and werewolves alike, while the wizards like Bill just stared wondering what had caused the reaction.

He had his answer when Brecon made an appearance.

"I'm fine," Brecon said to Harry noticing his worry and intense look, "Sorry I'm late, the Ministry is in a bit of an upheaval, I knew everyone else had left for the meeting so I stayed behind."

Harry arched an eyebrow, "They've found out McKinney and Dixon are missing already?" his tone doubtful, they weren't that far up or important for a sudden house visit after just two days. Then again they might be taking caution to the next level with the war going on right now.

"No, well, yes, but no, Tonks and Shacklebolt have disappeared, they didn't show up for work yesterday and haven't for their duty today." Brecon answered, "They sent our Aurors to check on them, as well as anyone else who was missing…which included the other two."

"Idiots," Harry hissed out in annoyance, "Where were they last seen?" knowing Brecon would know this.

"I saw them down in the file room, I wasn't the only one watching them," revealed Dale, "It was just after lunchtime yesterday, and I only saw them for a few moments before I left."

"Go to Jessie and describe whoever it was watching them, now," Harry demanded, Jessie was an excellent artist; hopefully someone would figure it out. "Bring it to me afterward," Severus would be the best one to look at it, he knew every Death Eater and if he didn't then chances were they weren't Death Eaters…which left only one prospect that they worked for Dumbledore doing his dirty work. It was the closest he had ever come to finding someone who had potentially the biggest pile of dirt on Dumbledore yet or who had done a pile of dirt for him.

Dale dipped his head in respect before leaving, not a sound was made as he left.

Harry shared a look with Severus who was to his left as Rick was to his right and a vicious smirk appeared on his face.

"Did you tell them on the off chance this would happen?" Severus queried a teasing lilt to his voice, he didn't care for either Shacklebolt or Tonks if he was brutally honest, it didn't mean that he wouldn't think their deaths were a waste of magical potential.

Harry snorted, "I didn't but I'm definitely not about to let this opportunity pass me by,"

"If it is Dumbledore…we have to ask ourselves how he knew, I'd like to think the Aurors weren't stupid enough to confront him," Severus mused thoughtfully.

"They're Gryffindors right? Probably did." Wyatt pointed out.

"Neither of them is," Harry replied idly, "Tonks was a Hufflepuff and Shacklebolt if I am correct was a Ravenclaw,"

Severus nodded to confirm that Harry was correct in his assumptions.

"We will need something with their scent on it," Rick stated, "That is if we are rescuing them from their own folly."

"Yes, but I want whoever has them alive unless its dangerous to their lives and more importantly yours," Harry cautioned, "The Ministry will get in our way if we leave it too soon, we should begin before the search parties are sent out."

"They're panicking, still searching for clues from what I gathered when I left; it will give us at least half a day before a search party is set up." Brecon mused, "Unless the Aurors actually brand together immediately."

"I'll keep an eye out at the Ministry, keep you updated," Wyatt offered, as a hybrid, his senses weren't as powerful as his brothers - and they were all his brothers and sisters - nor was his senses as heightened as the werewolves.

"I'll take a team, Rachel can take the other," Jack the Alpha werewolf spoke for the first time.

"Greyback cannot go, but the others take them with you, I want to know how well they would work as a team," Harry told Jack.

"You got it," Jack agreed, new werewolves or vampires were always tested out this way; to see how well they worked with others or whether they should be in training longer.

"Rick and I will be in charge of the other groups, get ready to leave in groups of five in fifteen minutes," Harry stated standing up, finishing the meeting without further delay.

"I'm nearly finished with Jessie!" Dale's voice called out loudly so that those in the meeting would take heed of his words, usually, they didn't listen to the chatter outside, giving some semblance of 'privacy' although anyone wishing privacy all they had to do was enter the main warehouse building or their own homes/caves/dens. The only time there were taken down so to speak was if anything got through the wards that weren't meant to be there, like the time with Dumbledore after Harry reduced the wards substantially, and when Severus came through them.

"I'll go and retrieve something of theirs," Rick announced, waiting for Harry's permission before he Apparated out of the warehouse, other than himself, Harry and Brecon he doubted many others actually knew where the Auror's lived.

"And what if it is Death Eaters? What then?" Severus questioned pensively. "If it is…they're probably already dead."

"Yes, they could very well be," Harry agreed without preamble, they had nothing to offer, they were in Voldemort's way, so yes, if it was Voldemort the likelihood of them being dead was pretty high. "If not, we can take out another one of his bases, perhaps even take him out for good, if he stays around when the fighting starts." his tone sardonic at the end, he didn't think much of Voldemort for that, leaving in the middle of a duel, it was very cowardly.

"After what happened at Malfoy Manor, he will have stepped up and ensured his next place was impenetrable." Severus cautioned. "He will know you have a ward breaker, it's the only thing capable of tearing down generations of wards that were placed on the manor."

Harry nodded; taking Severus' words seriously, the guy had been a spy for years, if anyone knew Voldemort then it was him. Harry would have to be stupid not to take his advice, and Harry was most definitely not stupid.

"If he has taken them, then he might be starting to step up his attacks," Wyatt summarised, "Might be the best time to start our own plans, blame all the 'attacks' on him,"

"Stepping up or not, the blame will be placed solely on Voldemort, that's the beauty of working from the shadows," Harry said wickedly.

"Are we though? Dumbledore knows about you now and has probably tied it to us here," Reg pointed out timorously.

"Reg," Jack warned him, grasping his shoulder.

"Dumbledore had no idea I have ties to this place," Harry said softly, eyes gleaming with delight, extremely pleased that the boy was coming out of his shell and asking intelligent questions. "He believes I only recently became a vampire and that I killed my Sire, his own assumptions will be his downfall."

"Oh," Reg said surprised, eyeing Harry with more wonder and awe than usual.

"It's finished," Dale said returning, handing over the sketch pad, it had a clear picture of the face and a description of their clothing.

Harry's sharp gaze roamed over the penciled work, closing his eyes trying to come up with an answer, but after a few minutes of contemplation, he realized that he had not seen this guy before, not consciously. "Nothing," he sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose before passing it to Severus, wondering if he would get lucky.

There we go! I'm slowly getting there back into a routine! :D sooo we all know it wasn't Harry ;) which means its either Voldemort or Dumbledore :) I'm actually having so much fun with this story and I know you probably want more Harry/Sev alone scenes but it's starting to heat up towards the battle so after that you will get the good scenes you want I promise! Right now though I'm wondering whether to have an epic battle between Dumbledore and Harry and whether the old man survives it and whether the Wizengamot would put him in prison or St. Mungo's...I really hate that those are the only options! LOL! R&R please