A/N I don't own Harry Potter, he is not mine, he is JK Rowlings. No infringement of copyright is intended.
The street looked like any other in London. Each house was exactly two stories tall and white, with exactly ten square feet of yard in front and twenty square feet behind. The yards were covered in yellowed and withering grass, meticulously raked of the fall leaves which had previously turned them into kaleidoscopes of golds, reds, and browns.
Tucked inside this normal, identical London street, was a house that was anything but normal. Three stories high with red brick, glowing warmly in the setting sun, this house was by far the largest and most grand, but hidden to the muggle eye.
Inside this strange house a house elf stood by a basin, singing cheerily to herself as she washed the dishes from the family's evening meal. On the second floor a middle aged woman lay on a bed, pale and ill, forgotten by the other members of the family who were too busy to take any notice of her. On the third floor the most activity of all was going on. A pale young man in black robes paced outside his father's study, looking agitated and scared. Beads of sweat flaked his brow, which was furrowed in thought.
Inside the study was the father himself, imposing behind his mahogany desk with salt and pepper hair and stern expression. His study was warm, lit by a few candles scattered on the desk, the only sound was the steady scritch scritch scritch of the quill he held firmly in his hand.
Bartemus Crouch bent over his papers, frowning at the reports. He tried once again to figure out what the Death Eaters were up to. When little Harry Potter defeated Voldemort he, like everyone else, celebrated. Not only the defeat of Voldemort, but also the certainty that he would be the next Minister of Magic. He didn't need to look at a newspaper to know that Witches and Wizards all over England were seeing him very favorably. His merciless trials and fast imprisonments of captured Death Eaters had earned him only slightly less favor with the general public than Dumbledore.
At first the Death Eaters laid low. However, a few weeks ago there was a dramatic increase in their activity. The few Death Eaters that hadn't been caught were banding together to look for their lost leader. A small group of them were creating chaos, torturing anyone they thought might have any clues to where they could find their missing leader. Just last week they tortured, and nearly killed, two Aurors who had been on the scene after James and Lily were killed. Crouch had a hard time keeping that covered up, the last thing he wanted was to alarm the wizarding world that was still celebrating it's freedom from the threat of You- Know- Who.
"I'm sorry to disturb you Mr. Crouch," Came a voice suddenly from in front of him. Crouch jumped, spilling the tea that he was holding over the papers meticulously laid out on his desk.
"Blast it Frank," Crouch growled, "What do you mean sneaking up on me like that?"
The tall, muscular, Auror in front of him had enough grace to look embarrassed. "Sorry about that, Bartemus," he apologized, cleaning up the mess with a flick of his wand, "I just wanted to deliver this new report in to you personally." He handed him yet another lengthy report. "According to my sources, there is going to be a major attack tonight. Lestrange's group has been causing a lot of trouble; angry, no doubt, at her cousin's arrest."
"Yes, Sirius Black." Crouch muttered, "He ended up following in his family's footsteps after all didn't he?"
Crouch was vaguely surprised at the quick look of pain that crossed Longbottom's face. Too late he remembered that Frank had been a close friend of both the Potters and Black. "Yes, he had us all fooled." Frank said quietly.
Crouch was about to say something more when a quiet voice came from behind Frank, "Father?"
Frank turned around curiously, he had never met Crouch's son before. Barty Jr. was a tall youth who looked no older than seventeen, wearing black robes. Frank was puzzled at how pale he looked under his straw colored hair.
"What is it, son?" Crouch asked snappishly, "What do you what, we're in the middle of an important discussion."
"I was wondering if I could talk to you... I have something important I need to talk to you about."
"Not now, we're busy. Talk to me later." Crouch replied, getting visibly more irritated at his son by the minute.
At his father's waspish tone, Barty Jr began to look angry. "Fine then, I'm going out. I'll see you later." With those words he went left the room, slamming the door behind him.
Crouch had already turned back to the report Longbottom had given him; he seemed to hardly notice his son's leaving. "This looks serious Longbottom. Might finally be our chance to catch Bellatrix and her husband red-handed. It's a pity she has such influential ties, we could've caught her weeks ago." Crouch seemed to finally make up his mind, "Go to this spot, Frank, I'm authorizing all the manpower and whatever else you might need for this. If you catch them, it's safe to say that both of our futures will be secure."
"Not to mention all the lives we could save," Frank commented dryly.
"Yes, of course that." Crouch waved his hand, "Go on, you've got your authorization." "Thank you, Mr. Crouch." With those words, Frank apparated out, leaving Crouch alone in his den.
Barty Jr. heard Longbottom apparating and finally left his father's door, cursing himself for his momentary weakness. He had gone into his father's office planning to betray the Lestranges, betray Voldemort, the only person who had ever cared anything about him. Curse Longbottom. If it hadn't been for him he might've been able to talk to his father, now it was too late. He smiled; tonight Longbottom would pay for constantly taking his father's attention away from him. He was going to warn Longbottom too... stupid prat, that the report he held in his hand was a fake, intended to lure him into a location were he could be easily kidnapped and tortured for information about Voldemort's whereabouts.
Barty Jr. backed slowly away from his father's door with a hint of a malicious smile on his face. He wasn't responsible anymore. He tried to warn his father and Longbottom, it was Longbottom's own fault that he didn't get the chance to. Still smiling malignantly, Barty apparated out with a loud "pop".
Frank appeared deep in the woods, about a mile from his home. Two years ago, when he had been put on Voldemort's hit list, he moved his family into the most secure location he could find. His home had anti-apparation wards and even a secret keeper, Dumbledore, protecting its whereabouts. There were also numerous enchantments protecting it with various passwords and booby traps in the unlikely possibility that anyone could ever discover the secret of its location. Frank smiled a little when he remembered James Potter teasing him about living in a fortress, if only James had been so well protected, then not even Sirius' betrayal would have killed them.
Frank shook his head, trying to clear away the memories. He wanted nothing more than to get home to his wife, a cheerfully chubby woman whom he had loved since he was eleven, and his son, over a year and a half, a beautiful baby named Neville. He smiled a bit thinking of the cheerful home waiting for him and quickened his pace.
It took him nearly twenty minutes before he saw his home, a small cabin with light green shutters and pretty little flowers growing around it. Two years ago, Alice had reacted quite gracefully to the news that they would have to go into hiding, and she hadn't spent a single day since then idly. Flower beds, shutters, she did whatever she could to make their home bright for as long as they had to live there.
Frank practically skipped up the steps to his front door. Soon, hopefully, they would be able to rejoin the rest of the wizard world. Once the last of Voldemort's followers were rounded up he would feel comfortable enough to bring out his wife and child. He had refused to sit around the cabin once James and Lily had been killed. He personally went after and arrested Sirius Black, and since that time, had been going into work regularly to do what he could to make it safe enough to bring Alice and Neville out of hiding.
As he opened the front door the first thing he noticed was the smell of chocolate chop cookies baking. Frank smiled and after hanging his coat on the coat rack by the door he walked into the warm kitchen where his wife was standing over a sink doing dishes. Baby Neville was sitting in his high chair, eating cheerios. Well, not really eating them. As Frank looked closer he saw that Neville was mostly just smashing them to pieces on his tray. Frank leaned against the doorframe, crossed his arms, and just looked at his wife.
Alice had been eleven when he met her and already a little chubby, but in a cheery sort of a way. Her disposition was what drew him to her more than anything else. She always had a quick smile and an even quicker sense of humor. The second happiest moment of his life was when, nine years later, she agreed to be his wife, overshadowed only by the birth of his first and only son Neville. It was odd, Frank couldn't help but think as he watched his wife, he had seen Alice hex Death Eaters into oblivion, seemly without a single thought; yet here she stood innocently doing dishes and baking cookies.
She finally caught sight of him out of the corner of her eye. She turned around and smiled as she said, "How long have you been standing there?"
"Only a moment." He replied coming up to her and wrapping his arms around her waist, "And what has my wife been up to while I've been gone?" He asked leaning in for a kiss.
"Taking your messages." She replied shoving him away playfully. "An owl came for you today, from Hestia" She regarded him with a knowing look. "What could that be about I wonder?"
Frank hung his head, he knew when he was caught. "I have to go out tonight. There's supposed to be a major meeting of Death Eaters, the first gathering of all the ones still loyal to You-know-who."
Alice shuddered and busied herself around the kitchen. "Just when I thought it was all over."
"It is almost over. After tonight, if all goes well, we'll have the rest if them, and we can finally go back to our lives." Frank sat heavily in a chair, suddenly looking tired.
Alice turned around suddenly, "I'm coming with you. I've got a bad feeling about this one."
Frank shook his head, "Alice it's too dangerous. What if something goes wrong?"
"That's why I need to be there."
"No, we can't risk both of us. Honey, think of Neville..."
Alice sighed, "It all comes back to that doesn't it?" She gestured towards Neville, "He needs a father as well as a mother. I'm coming."
Frank sighed, he knew that he had lost. Whenever his wife put her foot down, he knew that there was no point to arguing any further about it. "All right then. I'll call my mother to watch Neville."
It took nearly an hour for Mrs. Longbottom to arrive. By then supper was finished and the table cleared away. Frank had just finished changing into darker more inconspicuous robes when he heard the knock on the door and his wife's greeting.
"Good evening, Mrs. Longbottom." He heard Alice say a little stiffly.
"Good evening, Alice." His mother replied, "I suppose you and my son are going off on another one of your adventures and leaving my grandson behind?"
Alice's voice sounded a little pained as she replied, "We really appreciate you being willing to watch him on such sort notice."
"Never mind, never mind. I'm always happy to spend a little time with my grandson. Someone's got to teach him some discipline. The two of you spoil him something awful you know." Mrs. Longbottom said briskly.
Frank decided it was time to rescue his wife. Making his face carefully cheerful he went into the next room. "Hello, Mother." He said brightly, coming up to her and kissing her cheek.
His mother wasn't so old yet. She had steel grey hair tied back into a severe bun underneath her rather ridiculous looking vulture hat. She was a tiny witch, yet imposing. Her face was severe looking, but Frank knew that underneath her rigid demeanor she could be warm and caring.
Mrs. Longbottom smiled tightly at her son, "When do you suppose you'll be back?"
"Shouldn't be too long I'd expect. Not much more than a couple of hours."
"Very well," She nodded, going over and picking up Neville, "Shoo, I've got everything under control here."
Alice, looking rather relieved to be getting out of the room, moved past her and opened the door.
"Thanks again for coming." Frank said giving his mother another kiss on the cheek as he went to join his wife by the door.
"Be careful you two." His mother cautioned.
Frank gave her his brightest smile before putting his arm around his wife's shoulders, "Always, Mother. Have a nice evening now." With that, Frank and Alice walked out their front door for the last time.
A/N: So what do you think eh? A little dull I know, but there will be some action in the next chapter. This is my first fanific, although I have read several, so reviews, comments, and yes even criticisms are greatly appreciated.