Everyone searched all night and way passed the dawn breaking in the sky, it took them seventeen hours and thirty-six minutes in total to find Rachel. Not only had she managed to get three miles from the location, she'd been hiding her scent, hiding her magic and making it damn near impossible for her to be located.
The sight that met their eyes, wasn't a good one, Rachal had received a significant amount of burns. She looked more like a rotten corpse, burned down one side of her, she'd been clipped by the Fiendfyre only, and succeeded in getting away by the skin of her teeth.
She'd ensconced herself behind bushes in someone's garden, trying to get out of sight.
"She's still alive," Wyatt blurted out incredulously, her chest was barely moving, but she was still alive.
"Rachel?" Harry spoke softly, kneeling before the woman, worry prominently displayed, immediately casting a cooling spell upon her. The barely discernible sigh of sweet relief leaving her lips. "This is going to hurt, I'm going to Apparate you back home, hold your breath." He had to tell her just in case the shock of it caused her to go into cardiac arrest.
She gave no sign of hearing or understanding his statement.
"Rachel…I need you to confirm if you heard, I'm going to Apparate you back home…" Harry said soothingly, as more and more of his people began to mill around, as they all became aware of the fact Rachel had been found alive and well.
All Rachel could do was give him a wheezy little grunt, nothing more. The all encompassing pain she was feeling was obvious through the terrified and agonizing pain that showed through her eyes.
Harry couldn't wait any longer, "Go inform Darius he has a burn patient incoming," if he didn't already have everything set up after hearing Graham he'd eat his own hand. It didn't hurt to have additional warning, since he didn't name names, a few people automatically apparated to the warehouse, which was home to many of his people, including Rachel. "Two of you remain behind and deal with any Muggles that might have seen anything."
Harry winced in silent regret and apology, as he grasped a hold of Rachel's good upper arm, while levitating her off the ground. Wrapping his magic around her, he apparated them both out of there.
Severus and Rick remained behind to ensure the secrecy of their world from nosy Muggles.
"Get her on the bed," Darius immediately ordered, regardless of whether Harry was the leader or not, he was tense and alert. He'd already called for Poppy, he needed a lot more burn paste if what Wyatt had revealed.
Wincing at the sight of her, yes, there definitely hadn't been a single slight exaggeration on Wyatt's part. He definitely needed Poppy's help, Merlin help them, over half of her body was suffering deep burns, blisters and blackened skin met his sight, and the smell was horrendous.
"Poppy will be here momentarily, we need the room," Darius informed his leader, "Go get some sleep…this isn't going to be an easy fix and we have no idea if she'll survive…" it might have been too much on her body. He was glad he had gotten some sleep, not that his body needed much.
Harry stepped back, the urge to remain strong, but he knew Rachel would be in good hands. Instead he gave a curt nod, and forced himself to leave the room. By the time he exited the warehouse everyone who had been searching for her had gathered around.
It took mere moments for Severus and Rick to return, giving a nod that they had dealt with anyone who had seen what happened.
"Rachel is alive for the moment," Harry stated firmly, staring at everyone, eyes grim. "Darius isn't sure if she'll pull through, it will be touch and go for now. I want everyone who helped to go and get some rest there's nothing more we can do."
"The Durmstrang teens are being transferred in three hours, we've moved people to ensure they don't end up in the prison but are transferred straight here." may Merlin have mercy on their souls, for Harry would not.
He was going to make an example of them, he'd then make sure their bodies were found by Voldemort no doubt.
Voldemort must be scraping at the bottom of the barrel if he was recruiting idiots like those ones.
"Good, we shall see how brave they are once I'm done with them," Harry said coldly, his entire body vibrating his rage. They hadn't just attacked his people…but they had interrupted one of the rare good times he managed to get with Severus, his mate. They do rarely got time to do anything, and they'd just really gotten to the good part too.
"I sincerely hope you're going to allow others to aid you in your bid to set an example," Rick said coolly. Just as furious as Harry, their cause…had almost been set back months if not years because of a few little upstarts who thought to target them. Thank Merlin they were stupid enough to use magic after registering at the Ministry. Otherwise, he had no doubt Harry would have cancelled everything just to ensure their safety.
"It's mandatory," Harry informed them all seriously, eyes flashing in his anger. "Now inform the others, get some sleep and we will meet back here in three hours."
A whole slew of murmured agreements met Harry's ears as everyone agreed. Then simultaneous pops rose up as everyone apparated, the rest left for the cabins in the surrounding forest. Leaving only Severus with him.
"I'm going to assume the culprits won't be left alive like the Lestrange's?" Severus asked, unsure of how to feel about that. He saw the state Rachel was in, saw what they had done to Graham and knew they'd killed much loved people. Yet the Lestrange's had probably done worse over the years.
"No they won't," Harry said, a vicious curl to his lips, "If I let it go this time…they'll continue to come at me thinking me weak…not to forget what it would do to all my alliances if I let it go…they would disband the associations or worse come after me and my people believing I was too pathetic to lead. I walk a precariously tight rope, Severus, which means sometimes I have to do things that might seem overly drastic…" and he didn't care one whit, he wanted to see the idiots suffer for what they'd done to his people.
Severus nodded slowly, he knew that much, this wasn't just a show of strength to his own people, but those willingly allowing him to lead their own people from a distance. A show of weakness, could indeed cause them to be attacked on all ends. It didn't mean he liked the thought of torturing young boys who, much like him, felt anchorless and adrift in an ever changing world. Why give him a second chance and not them, then again, he hadn't killed any of Harry's people – and he was grateful he hadn't and would be more so after tonight he reckoned – nor had the Lestrange's but there had been an attempt.
"If you won't be able to tolerate it…you can remain and help Darius and Poppy heal Rachel." Harry stated seriously, aware of the confliction eating Severus up inside. He'd spent too much time on the light side that he'd lost his edge. It was bound to happen, of course, it was just rather pitiful. Hopefully he'd regain his former self, one that wasn't afraid to do what must be done in the face of danger. His spell repertoire had to be expansive…and it was such a shame to see him limiting himself. Perhaps if he had known them better…it would be a whole different situation. Or it could be knowing it may well have been some of his Slytherin's in the same situation.
Severus snorted, and immediately shook his head, even if he wanted to forego the debacle he was about to witness, he couldn't. He did not want to lose the respect of the people he had here. Plus, Rachel had always been kind to him, right from the get go, she was like that with everyone actually. Despite all she'd been through, and he didn't need to be a mind reader to see the caution constantly in her gaze.
"Hungry?" Harry questioned, neither were in no way shape or form up for their previous nights activities. The mood had been well and truly obliterated. Despite the fact their plans were actually advancing. Admittedly the small blip in the middle did make it more of an annoyance than anything else.
"I could use something to drink," Severus agreed, plus he had questions he wanted answered, if Harry was in a sharing mood anyway.
With that Harry and Severus apparated to home, to Potter manor. A place he seldom spent a lot of time in, "Dobby? A goblet of fresh blood for each of us," sighing softly, Harry sat down, shaking his head in disbelief.
"You have nobody in the Dark Lord's ranks, you have no way of knowing when he will strike," Severus pondered, "So how do you plan on ensuring you take over at the right time?" hell, the Dark Lord didn't have enough people left to realistically pull something like that. Harry had to know that, especially if he was recruiting people outside of the UK.
"That's not how it's going down," Harry said in amusement, "I'm just replacing the majority of people in the Ministry with my own. Eventually I'll have a mass culling of anyone in the Ministry serving Voldemort…and then deal with the wizard myself…the general public won't have a clue what's happened…and those in the Ministry will be unable to speak of it if they value their lives…and life will go on, and creatures will regain their rights…we've gone too long without them." united under one banner, one Ministry, him. They might wonder…but they'd be too grateful that the 'famous boy-who-lived' saved them to care, even if he was a vampire.
"I was under the impression you were going to attack in sync when the Dark Lord did, then quietly take over while everyone celebrated…" he confessed.
"That would require someone very close to Voldemort, to know of his plans intimately, and too much guessing on that one. Especially since all his inner circle have been caught and captured…I doubt he's trusting anyone with his plans now." Harry shrugged, definitely in a talkative mood.
Dobby appeared with their goblets, handing them out before beaming at them and disappearing with a pop.
"Things will need to be moved up, regardless," Harry commented icily, sipping on the fresh blood, with relish nothing could come close to the experience. "Voldemort is losing it, and he'll become more unpredictable…something I do not need." He needed to kill him as publicly as possible, something he'd already tried but Voldemort had ran rather than fight, a coward. He wasn't oblivious to the threat that Voldemort was, he knew he might die in the fight, but he wasn't about to back away now.
Severus silently agreed, he was becoming more desperate…but he'd always been unpredictable and more importantly unstable.
"I am sorry for your loss," he said, as he sat down, Severus hated he couldn't think of something to say that would make it all better. Unfortunately, nothing could, "You will avenge them, and they will be happy to know things will work out." And they would, of that Severus had no doubt.
Although, whether Harry would survive to see his dream realized…he honestly didn't know. Harry was…vicious, powerful, without mercy when provoked…but so was the Dark Lord…he couldn't say who would win, but Severus knew who he wanted to see emerge as the victor.
To be the Leader he was born to be.
I love this story so much and I hate that it's sort of trailed off with the muses not showing much interest in it, much like Prince Consort...but I'm determined to get them finished no matter how long it takes! Or how stilted it can be! I hope you're all enjoying it regardless! Stay Safe and Take Care everyone! R&R x