Within These Walls
Dedicated to Puguita for all the wonderful covers she makes for my fics on Live Journal and beta'd by nutnatz who skips with me through fields of bluebells!
"I'll use a lock that has no key Let the water creep over your face I'll pull your arms tight behind you back How long can you hold your breath
Bind you with chains
That no one else can see
I'll send it in waves
Just to watch you perform the great escape
Use myself as weight
And wonder while you fade
While you hold mine again and wait
Just to watch you perform the great escape"
Let the water creep over your face
I'll pull your arms tight behind you back
How long can you hold your breath
The Great Escape - Moby
He had been so tired when he got back to the safe house. After transporting the elusive Death Eater Pengelley into Auror hands so they could put him away with the rest of his kind in Azkaban prison, he had crawled straight into bed fully clothed and drifted away into a deep sleep before he even remembered to pull all the covers over him.
It only felt like a matter of seconds before the door banged open wide and shattered off its hinges as it hit the wall. It couldn't have been so short a time though as the dawn light was bouncing off the walls. He grunted and sat up in bed, instinctively reaching for his wand but something grabbed his wrist and wrenched his arm painfully behind his back before another pair of arms hauled him out of the bed and threw him down onto the floor.
"What the f-" he began to say as he suddenly woke up enough to hear the yelling and crashing coming from the other rooms in the Ministry approved safe house.
The steel-toe-capped boot that landed into his stomach had cut off his question. His eyes began to water and he coughed and wheezed while blinking the different pairs of feet into focus as his hands were tied behind his back. He saw Colin Creevey being dragged past his doorway on his knees, battered and bloody, and called out to him desperately.
"Colin! What the hell's going on?"
A hand grabbed Ron's hair and pulled him up by it to snarl into his ear.
"Shut up or you'll be first on the list blood-traitor!"
Ron's hair was released and he slammed down to the floor hard on his face, his cheekbone splitting against the hardwood floor and another voice bellowing his name.
"Ron, Colin, it's a raid! Run!"
Ron felt himself being heaved up off the floor, a figure on either side of him hooking their arm with his, and then he was dragged outside to see the full extent of the security breech on the safe house in Venlo. There were Death Eaters everywhere, some hauling their prisoners to the fireplaces and some duelling with those lucky enough to have been awake and alert during the ambush.
Ron could hear running footsteps coming from the floor above and decided that he didn't survive that whole war just to get finished off in a revenge attack once Voldemort was defeated. He took a deep breath and swung his bare foot out to kick at one of his assailants in the shin while shoving into the other with his shoulder. The kick didn't do a hell of a lot other then hurt his own foot but the shove had the desired effect and Ron was released on one side, his loss of balance causing the Death Eater who still had hold of him to drop him onto the floor. Ron wriggled in an attempt to get to his feet while the Death Eaters both scrambled to get a hold of him again.
"Stupefy!" Ernie McMillan's voice yelled out and both Death Eaters were blasted away from him.
Ron was still fighting to push himself up as he called out to his old classmate and fellow D.A. volunteer to the war effort.
"Ernie what the fuck is going on?"
"Stay down!" he ordered as he sent another curse whizzing over Ron's head which obviously hit it's intended target.
Ron pressed himself flat against the almost completely bald rug beneath him. This couldn't be happening, they'd rounded the last of them up only the night before. Where had these bastards come from? He tried to wriggle his hands free from the magical ropes but they were too strong. Panic began to set in now as he searched around him for his wand, one of the Death Eaters had taken it, but the floor shook with what felt like an explosion from downstairs and Ron's eyes scrunched closed very tightly. He felt a sudden wave of nausea as he realised he hadn't seen Dean yet, they had mumbled goodnights to each other and then he had gone to his room upstairs. Ron wondered if the Death Eaters had overcome all those on the top floor. Gaining a second wind he gritted his teeth and forced himself to sit up, his determination to help fight overcoming his self-preservation instinct and even his sense of logic.
He looked around for somebody to untie his magical bonds and arm him but he was alone apart from Ernie who stood ahead of him at the junction between two corridors, still fighting valiantly. The attacks he was defending himself and Ron against seemed to be coming from all sides. Ron craned his neck to try and spot their assailants but there were too many stray curses flying in all directions for him to be able to pinpoint an origin for any one of them. Eventually Ernie had to duck and roll away from two spells that headed for him from opposite ends of the corridor and he crawled along the floor to Ron's side.
"Prisoners...it looks like they're trying to," Ernie had to stop and fling himself and Ron flat to the floor before lifting his head again and scrambling closer to Ron to point his wand at Ron's wrists, "They're not killing anybody, they're taking us all. Hold still."
Just as Ernie raised his wand to flick it down he was hit hard in the back by an intense red beam of light and slumped to the ground unconscious.
"Bastards!" Ron growled through gritted teeth before trying to sit himself up and curl his fingers around Ernie's wand behind his back.
Ron felt the smooth birch handle and his heart picked up speed with renewed hope.Then he heard heavy footsteps running at him from behind. Just as he got a grip on the wand and turned to take uncomfortable aim at his attacker he saw a fist the size of a ham heading into his face.
After that he didn't see anything.
Alastor Moody brushed himself down as he stomped across the deserted reception area of the British Ministry's embassy in Venlo. It had been their base of operations in the Netherlands during the recently ended war against Voldemort. Harry Potter had defeated him and gone back to London a hero. Remaining were most of the Aurors, Order of the Phoenix members and even some of the D.A. volunteers who had decided to stay behind to round up the last of the Death Eaters to face trial for their many crimes.
Venlo was situated in a good area for monitoring dark wizards and their movements as it was near to both the German and the Belgian borders while being far enough away from Amsterdam so as not to draw muggle attention to all the unexplainable explosions and magical phenomena.
Moody had been called to the embassy by a frantic office clerk via floo call and knew instantly that something was very wrong indeed. For a start the embassy wasn't supposed to be deserted and that didn't do an overly cautious mind like his much good at all.
"Hello?" he yelled gruffly, his shoulders tensing up in preparation for an ambush,"Who's in charge here? This is Auror Alastor Moody and I was told that there was an attack here."
Moody drew his wand and stomped through the reception area to the conference room across from the floo network. His magical eye whirred around in all directions and he saw, to his incredible unease, that there was nobody in the whole building other then the timid looking wizard who was cowering in the stationary cupboard.
He flicked his wand at the door.It flew open and the young wizard yelped and sent a spell zigzagging from the tip of his wand. Moody ducked the wayward hex and watched through the back of his head as it struck the portrait of Mapother the third, who ran from his portrait screaming like a girl,causing it to burst into flames.
"I take it that was you who called the Ministry in London for assistance," Moody said as he strode over to help the trembling wizard to his feet.
"Y-You came!" he said, a shudder seeming to rattle his whole body, "I didn't think anybody was coming," he gripped the front of Moody's robes and began to cry into them, which didn't impress the hardened Auror in the least, "I'm the only one left. I'm only a personal assistant!"
The man sobbed and his knees began to buckle. Moody grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him briskly before giving him a firm slap on the face.
"Personal assistant to whom and where in hell's name are they?" Moody snapped.
"S-Secretan, he's a Swiss Auror, he was sent here when all the Dutch Aurors were massacred three weeks ago. He went with everybody else to fight them."
This was better. They were getting somewhere now. Moody could handle talk of fighting and massacres much better then he could handle a grown man's tears.
"Fight?" Moody huffed, "What's this?A mini uprising of the dregs?", he found this hard to believe as he had trained most of these people himself at some point or other and the fact that a few radicals had rendered the entire embassy a ghost house made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, "It took a whole embassy to fight a few leaderless losers?"
The young wizard shook his head so rapidly his face was temporarily nothing more then a blur before Moody's eyes.
"This was planned, this was organised, this was… this was..."
"Spit it out you foolish boy, people could be dying!" Moody snarled.
"A tactical strike!" the young PA blurted as his face paled.
"Tactical...Where?" the hardened Auror felt himself stiffen at this news. The safetly of their people, his people, was something he prided himself on and he felt sickened that he might have allowed this silent uprising to happen right under his nose.
"Right here sir, in Venlo!"
"Where was the target you fool?" Moody roared as he shook the young wizard roughly.
"The safe house," the pale young man said in such a thin, shallow whimper as he looked pleadingly into Moody's eyes as if begging him to make all this go away.
"The safe house?" Moody repeated as his magical eyes spun in his head to scan the embassy all over again for any kind of devices he might have missed the first time while his heart sank, "Our safe house where we tell our people to go when they're fighting in Germany, Holland or Belgium?"
The PA nodded while cowering under Moody's obvious displeasure. Moody was trying to control his temper and failing miserably. He knew exactly how many people he had advised to take shelter at the safe house. It was his spells that made it safe. The thought that he might have let his people down by neglecting to abide by his own motto of 'Constant Vigilance' was making his blood boil.
"It was breeched during the night. We had people sleeping there, so many people, and Auror Secretan, Auror Maccario, Krum and one of the trainee Aurors...I don't know his name, they all took their brooms and flew to the safe house and they haven't...none of them...they didn't come back!"
Moody cursed under his breath, he knew Maccario by reputation and greatly respected the Italian Auror, and he knew that there was no way the stand-in Ambassador would abandon his embassy unless things were desperate. He rubbed his hand over his craggy scarred face. Something had gone horribly wrong.
"Who was staying there last night?"
"S-Sir?" the PA was so pale now Moody began to doubt he would be able to stay upright for much longer.
"Who did we have in our care last night? Who have we lost?"
Moody always took it personally when he lost an Auror, a friend, but he knew that it wasn't just professional dark wizard catchers who were taking refuge in that safe house but some of their volunteers. He also knew of several young wizards who had last been seen in the area and felt the dreadful sense of inevitability that he would have to deal with civilian casualties, captives or deaths.
"I didn't have a full account of exactly who was where at the time but Secretan said he knew for sure that a couple of the Order were stopping off on their journey home from the final battle and one of the healers...Callahan, he was definitely there because he was called in for a young wizard who had a temperature."
"Young wizard? For you to call somebody a young wizard that means only one thing to me," Moody said with the awful confirmation of what he had feared about to ruin his day before it had even begun.
"You had D.A. people staying there," the wizard said as Moody's eyes fell closed and he rubbed his scarred face roughly while watching the PA go on with his magical eye,"You had lots of D.A. people staying there last night."
"How many?" he said with a weary sigh.
"I don't have numbers," the young wizard shook his head and looked to the ground.
"Higher or lower then five?" Moody said as his eyes snapped open, his jaw setting firmly, and ready to hear the worst.
"Higher," the wizard swallowed.
"Higher or lower then ten?" Moody said as he felt the need to be very violent with something or somebody now.
"Higher," the PA shuddered before shaking his head and putting his hand to his face, "We can't be sure how many but it was between ten and fifteen people from different D.A. divisions scattered all over Europe."
Moody took this information in for a few seconds before the giant clock above the floo fireplace began to chime out loudly. Moody's magical eye spun around to glare at the clock behind him and he flicked his wand over his shoulder to obliterate the thing into firewood on its third chime. The P.A. cowered and staggered over to a plush armchair and sank down into it.
"Do we have names?" Moody asked, knowing that he had an idea of some of them and a sickening feeling about one name in particular.
"We have I think," the wizard nodded as he pulled a roll of parchment from his robes and held it out to Moody, "this came, it's addressed to the negotiator. I suppose that means you."
"When did this come?" Moody snarled as he snatched the scroll and unfurled it impatiently.
"Just before you, I hid, I thought they were coming here next and I hid!" the young wizard said, still trembling, "I was supposed to be sleeping there last night but I had to work late with Auror Secretan."
Moody focused both eyes down at the parchment and read.
To whomever has the authority to negotiate.
We are the 'Liberators van het broederschap' and we demand the release of all members of our brotherhood from Azkaban prison.
Until our demands are met we will execute one hostage per day and deliver something to identify the deceased hostage to the embassy by one of our members. Arresting them when they arrive will be pointless as they will be free soon enough when you meet our demands.
The Dark Lord's supporters must be freed from this undignified form of punishment. We stand by everything we have fought for. The Dark Lord is dead; his dream is not.
We have eighteen hostages. The first will be executed at noon tomorrow. A hostage will die at noon every day onwards until we are satisfied. You have 18 days to empty the cells of Azkaban prison otherwise you have the blood of eighteen of your own men on your hands, men and children. This is only what you deserve for sending boys to war.
Moody cursed under his breath again as he understood that they did indeed have a number of D.A. volunteers as their hostages and that meant that there were going to be a lot of frantic mothers descending upon the embassy within a matter of hours. Moody didn't doubt that a copy of this letter was on the desk of the editor of the Daily Prophet right now. He read on.
Here is the list of hostages,
Auror Secretan, the Ambassador
And then he saw it; the name he knew would be there but dreaded seeing more then he could ever have imagined. He snarled to himself and clutched the parchment so hard that it crumpled in his hands.
Those bastards knew exactly what they had and they were going to use it. An ambassador, a world famous Quiddich player, two relatives of influential Ministry wizards, and Harry Potter's right hand man.
Harry Potter's right arm.
They knew they were never going to be able to break Potter so instead they decided to destroy him through his friend, his brother.
"Bollocks!" Moody hissed as he kicked at an empty chair to his right, sending it skidding across the conference room on its side.
The P.A. jumped with fright and let out a shuddering sigh before staring up at Moody's face, twisted with the awful realisation that he was going to have to tell Molly Weasley that her boy was on an executioner's list and there would be nothing anybody could do about it.
After all, the ministry doesn't negotiate with terrorists.