From the Ashes
Warnings: Spoiler alert for all seven books! This story will be full of mature themes related to the harsh realities of life.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter and no money is being made from this story. I am thankful to J.K. Rowling for creating such a wonderful universe for her fans to enjoy.
Chapter 9: Revelations.
Hannah and Susan were anxiously stealing glances out the front window while waiting for Harry and Amelia to return from his relative's house; clinging to each other silently while they tried to hold their emotions in check after such a trying day.
Alexander had gone up to check on his wife as an excuse to give the two young women some time alone. Sitting down on the edge of the bed, he gently shook Juliet's shoulder while calling softly, "Jules? Wake up, luv."
There was a soft moan before Juliet slowly rolled over into her husband's side and wrapped her arms around his waist while he continued to rub her back. After a few moments of silence, she croaked, "It wasn't just a bad dream was it?"
"No, it wasn't, but I wish it was. Today's been a bit of a nightmare but we'll do everything that we can to make it through this." He said softly while comforting his wife.
A popping noise outside got their attention and Alexander disentangled himself from his wife before going over to the window to see if Amelia was successful in retrieving Harry from Dumbledore's clutches. Upon spying the two aforementioned people, he let out a sigh of relief and said, "Come on, Jules. Ami just got back with Harry."
They made their way downstairs just as Harry and Amelia were being greeted by the girls. Hannah was clinging to a disheveled Harry like a life line while Susan was just stepping back from a hug with her aunt. Catching his sister's eye, Alexander motioned towards the sitting room and began herding everyone along.
Once everyone was seated, Jules asked, "What happened?"
"I killed Bellatrix Lestrange." Harry whispered as he hung his head in his hands. He wasn't bothered by removing the crazy Death Eater from the land of the living; it was the reactions of the people around him that worried him the most and he was dreading the next few moments while everyone digested what he had done.
With Harry's admission, Hannah began rubbing his back in support while silently watching the events play out around her. Harry's confession gave her a small measure of closure with her parent's death. She didn't know who did the deed, but Hannah was convinced that Bellatrix Lestrange had a hand in her parent's murder.
Amelia glanced at the teens on the couch before nodding in confirmation of Harry's claim when the others looked to her for clarification. After a few moments, she said softly, "Harry saved Professor Dumbledore's life. Bellatrix somehow got the drop on Dumbledore and was holding him under the Cruciatus Curse when Harry did the world a favor."
Surprised, Harry picked his head up and looked into the eyes of Madam Bones, his gaze searching for some sign of rejection. After a few seconds, he mumbled softly, "You don't think that I should have stunned her instead?
Blue eyes bore into green as Amelia gazed at the young man sitting across from her before stating, "No. She was a killer, plain and simple, and needed to die. You didn't know how many other Death Eaters were around so the best thing you can do in that situation is to remove the threat. Permanently."
Harry contemplated what Madam Bones said to him in silence for a minute before he looked into her eyes and whispered softly, "Thank you."
"You are welcome." Amelia said firmly before giving him a hard stare and saying, "That doesn't mean you can go about killing Death Eaters willy nilly. We need a few alive to interrogate before they will be put down like the rabid dogs that they are."
Harry's eyes were as wide as saucers, an expression that was mirrored on both of the young women that were clinging to him. Before he could say anything, Amelia interrupted him and said sternly, "Harry, this is war, not some game of Aurors and Robbers. People die in war and the best thing you can do is make sure it's your enemies, not you and your allies, that do the dying."
Seeing that the teens were at their breaking point, Jules announced, "Why don't you three head on up to bed. It's been a long day and we could all use some rest. We can talk more in the morning."
Silently, the three teens made their way upstairs with Susan leading the way to her bedroom as the adults watched them go.
The sound of the door to Susan's room closing let Alexander voice the topic that everyone was thinking about, "Harry and Hannah have nowhere to go now and it probably wouldn't be safe for them to leave here anyway."
"They will stay with us, of course." stated Jules in a tone that brooked no argument. She had just lost her best friend at the hands of Death Eaters and she wasn't about to turn their daughter out of their house.
Alexander nodded in agreement before saying, "We can turn the downstairs study into a bedroom permanently tomorrow. Why don't we heed our own advice and turn in as well."
Grimacing in pain as he gingerly shuffled over to his night stand, Albus stretched out a shaking hand to retrieve the phial of the Elixir of Life. Sighing heavily, Dumbledore slumped down into his bedside chair and turned to Fawkes while removing the stopper on the bottle and saying, "Could you cry a few tears into this please?"
Fawkes gave a chirp of agreement and landed on the tiny dresser next to Dumbledore's outstretched hand. The majestic bird tipped his head over the open bottle and cried a single tear. The pearly liquid slid down his beak where it hung suspended in the candlelight for a few seconds before it fell into the awaiting bottle.
Dumbledore watched eagerly as his faithful companion cried a healing tear into the bottle. The moment the Phoenix tear mixed with the elixir, he knew that something was seriously wrong. The deep red color of the potion began to swirl and in seconds had turned into a mottled grey instead of the expected pure white that Nicholas had mentioned to him once in passing.
As he held the phial up to the light to examine the color better, the contents began to churn and hiss. Reacting quickly, Dumbledore set the menacing bottle on the table next to him and dragged himself from the chair as fast as he could while never taking his eyes off of the threat. By the time he backed away and drawn his wand, the hissing from the contents changed volume and the mixture began bubbling over the lip of the bottle and onto the wood below.
The moment the frothy mess reached the wood, a different type of hissing started as it literally began eating away at the tabletop. "Merlin's beard!" he quietly mumbled in shock as the realization of how close he had come to having that acid inside of him.
Turning to face his Phoenix, Dumbledore said sincerely, "Thank you, Fawkes." Years of paranoia had stopped him from simply gulping down the potion once the healing tears had been added. As the adrenaline from his second near brush with death of the last thirty minutes ebbed, realization set in and his facial features morphed from slack jawed to tight lipped and enraged. "Flamel isn't dead." Albus snarled menacingly before turning and heading for his office, his pain momentarily forgotten in his rage.
Agent Johnson, polyjuiced to look like Lucius Malfoy, entered Gringotts bank with his head held high and a sneer on his face as he approached the head teller. Upon reaching the goblin's desk, he used his cane to tip the open ledger closed and drawled, "I need to visit my vault, goblin."
Looking down at the annoying wizard that interrupted his work, Goldtooth snarled, "At once…Mr. Malfoy. Follow me please."
Johnson knew that his disguise was compromised somehow. Unfortunately, he didn't see any easy way out of his current predicament that didn't involve things getting messy.
Once they were in the cart racing towards the Malfoy vault, Goldtooth turned to the polyjuiced imposter and said simply, "I know you are not Lucius Malfoy. What have you done with him?"
Looking closely at the goblin in the cart with him, Johnson realized that there would be no way for him to seize control of the situation before Goldtooth could push the button that his clawed fist was resting upon on the front of the cart. Seeing no way out, he sighed and said calmly, "I pushed Mr. Malfoy through the Veil in the Department of Mysteries about twenty minutes ago. I'm here to empty out most of his vault and make it look like he did a runner."
After a few moments spent scrutinizing the now very nervous imposter in the cart with him, Goldtooth removed his hand from the button and said, "You will give me twenty percent of the gold in the vault and I will tell anyone that inquires that Mr. Malfoy came in, withdrew some gold, and left just like business as usual."
Letting out the breath he didn't know he was holding, Johnson sighed and simply said, "We have an accord."
Goldtooth smiled widely, showing how he earned his name and said in a tone that brooked no disagreement, "Any further transactions of this type that you need to undertake you will come to see me directly, understood?"
Agent Johnson nodded in agreement and said sincerely, "Absolutely." while pondering his luck at finding a goblin that was greedy and understood what he was doing.
"Excellent. If you get the chance, perhaps you should find a way to visit the other Death Eater's vaults as well." Goldtooth said while looking pointedly at the polyjuiced agent from the Ministry of Magic.
The mine cart pulled to a stop outside the Malfoy family vault and Goldtooth disabled the protections on the door with a wave of his hand. As he stepped back to allow Agent Johnson into the vault, he said calmly, "There are charmed bags hanging just inside the door to your right. I will wait in the cart for you to finish your business."
Ten minutes later, the disguised Unspeakable left the vault and wordlessly climbed into the cart for the ride back to the surface. Once the cart arrived back at the ground floor, Johnson got of the cart and left the bank without looking back or thanking his goblin accomplice in order to maintain his cover.
Goldtooth almost smiled as he watched his polyjuiced accomplice walk out of the bank. His cut came to just over four hundred thousand galleons of the Malfoy fortune and all he had to do was help one wizard steal from another. "All things considered", he thought, "a very good day."
Looking up from his work in annoyance at being interrupted, it took a few seconds for the reason for the disturbance to sink in. Standing up much quicker than someone of his age should be able to move, Nicholas waved his wand in a circle over his head and all of the items in the room began to pack themselves into the now open trunks standing in the corner of the room. He quickly repeated this process in every room that he passed through on the way to his wife's study.
When he reached her sanctuary, Flamel was relieved to see his wife finishing up with the packing of her things into a trunk as well. With a sigh, Nicholas said, "Well, we knew that this day might come eventually."
Perenelle looked up from her packing momentarily, snorted at her husband while pointing at the mirror, and went back to her task with a smile on her face.
Slightly confused, Nicholas walked over to the mirror and immediately realized what his wife was laughing about. Chagrinned, he quickly pulled off his amulet and stuck it into the pocket of his pants. The moment the necklace cleared his head, his features morphed from the ancient wizard to that of a young man in his prime. "Okay." He said ruefully as he began helping his wife of close to six hundred years pack up her belongings, "I forgot to take it off again. I went to Beeston today and it slipped my mind when I got home."
"Humph." Perenelle sniffed playfully at his explanation of forgetfulness while stuffing an enormous book into a separate trunk. Looking up at him, she smiled briefly and said, "Going senile in your old age, dear?"
With a quick swish of his wand, Nicholas began floating the packed trunks into a pile before replying with a smile in a slightly stressed but indignant voice that his wife of over five hundred years could easily pick up, "I'm younger than you are, or has that already slipped your mind."
Perenelle tapped her wand on the lid of the trunk, sealing the contents safely inside, before striding over to her husband and giving him a loving kiss. As she pulled back, she said, "I love you, too. Now we really must be going before we have some uninvited house guests showing up on our doorstep."
"I agree. Let's load this stuff into the lorry and be on our way." With another flick of his wand, Nicholas had all the packed trunks in the house gently floating in front of him as he guided them up and into the magically enlarged moving van's cargo area. Once the remainder of their possessions were safely secured; he closed and locked the door and climbed into the cab of the vehicle next to his wife.
No one would notice one more moving truck on the highway as they blended into the heavy traffic on the M1 Motorway, completely avoiding any monitored magical transportation methods. You don't live to be over six hundred years old without picking up a few tricks on how to disappear quickly and quietly without a trace.
On the lone remaining piece of furniture in the house a tiny vial shone as the silvery substance inside of it reflected the light in a mesmerizing pattern.
Voldemort was pacing the lounge area of his appropriated headquarters. Albus Dumbledore's childhood roll top desk lay tipped over in the corner from a combination of his lack of finding anything of use and anger at his lack of followers returning from the raid on Harry Potter's home.
With a few more muttered obscenities, the Dark Lord swished his wand and the desk righted itself and its spilled contents settling back into their appropriate places. It wouldn't due to have his followers seeing him destroy a priceless family heirloom in a fit of pique. His temper slightly under better control, Voldemort moved into the foyer of the house and sat down heavily on the bench near the main fireplace in the hall. His seat gave him a perfect view of the fireplace and the front door to watch for his errant minions.
Settling in for a long wait, he pulled out one of the few useful books the Dumbledore left behind and began to read it again. He was so engrossed in Dumbledore's master plan for the 'Greater Good,' that he almost didn't notice the fireplace turn green. In the flash of an eye, Voldemort had his wand trained on the fireplace.
A hand suddenly poked out into the room and tossed a Ministry of Magic Memo onto the floor before retreating into the flames, causing them to revert to their usual yellow and red flicker. Before the memo could flutter to the floor, Voldemort had summoned it to the small table next to him where he immediately began scanning the note for any unusual magic. His concerns satisfied, the Dark Lord picked up the missive and began to read.
The more he read, the stonier his countenance became. By the time he finished, Voldemort had patches of red on his normally pale cheeks and his slits for nostrils were flaring open in his anger. Crumpling up the parchment, he hurled it into the flames where it burned in the flames that were almost as hot as his rage.
The loss of the lower level Death Eaters didn't faze him in the slightest. However, the loss of his most violent follower, at the hands of Harry Potter no less, was going to cause him no end of problems operationally and publicly.
Standing from his now useless vigil, Voldemort sighed and headed down to the basement to work on deciphering the magical clues about who really killed Dumbledore's sister, Arianna, while his subconscious went to work on his recruitment problem.
The pale rays of the new moon were shining through the window into the bedroom where the three teens were each pretending to be asleep so they wouldn't disturb the other. Harry let out an audible sigh of frustration while he stared out at the moon high in the sky while he lay on the small camp bed that had been placed in Susan's room. So much had changed since that disastrous night in the Department of Mysteries as well as at his relative's house earlier that afternoon.
The harsh reality of what it really meant to be in a fight for your life had finally sunk in completely. Gone was the idealistic teen that thought the world revolved around him in his epic struggle with the Dark Lord. Death changes a person and taking a life changes someone even more. Harry finally understood that his days might be seriously numbered.
Voldemort's reputation was terrible but well earned. If he wanted someone dead, they usually ended up dead in pretty short order. Be it fate, skill, or just dumb luck, Harry had managed to survive more encounters with the Dark Lord than anyone else save Dumbledore himself. Regardless of what the prophecy said about him having a power that Voldemort didn't know of, Harry felt woefully unprepared for the inevitable confrontation ahead; something that he could lay directly at the feet of Albus Dumbledore. The troubling question that was making him worry was, "Why?"
Hannah was lying on her side, facing the window and Harry. She could see the moonlight reflecting off of Harry's eyes as he lay there obviously distressed about the situation as well. Turning her head away from the window, she looked towards her best friend and found her awake and staring right back at her in the darkness of the room. Silently, she reached out a hand to Susan, who returned the gesture, and they clasped hands in the hopes that the comfort of the other may lessen their burdens somehow.
As they lay there holding hands, Hannah scooted herself closer to Susan in her need to feel safe. Obligingly, Susan drew her longtime friend into a loving embrace as they snuggled together in the large bed trying to ward off the demons in their memories.
Susan was gently rubbing Hannah's back while the girl quietly sniffled. Looking over her friend's shoulder, she could see Harry looking back at her in the darkness. Stopping her rubbing momentarily, Susan gestured for Harry to join them on the bed. After a few seconds when he didn't move to join them, she sighed in frustration at Harry's reluctance to seek comfort from others.
Not wanting to disturb Hannah but realizing that something needed to be done, she leaned her head down and whispered to her, "Hannah, would you be okay if Harry joined us in bed?" Feeling her friend nod in acceptance, she said softly, "Would you please go get him then?"
Hannah lifted her head from Susan's shoulder and gazed into her friends pale blue eyes for a few seconds before leaning forward and giving her a light kiss on the cheek and climbing out of bed.
Harry had been watching the two young women support each other and while he wanted to join them and be comforted too, he was reluctant to seek out comfort from others due to his upbringing with the Dursleys. His eyes widened considerably when Hannah rolled out of bed and padded across the room to where he was laying.
When she knelt down next to his bed, his eyes briefly drifted down to her exposed cleavage before snapping back up to meet her eyes. Fortunately, his blush was not noticeable in the dark.
Silently, Hannah held out her hand to Harry and after a few seconds, he tentatively took it and she slowly pulled him out of his camp bed and led him over to the large bed that she was sharing with Susan. When Harry hesitated at the edge of the bed, Hannah gently, but firmly, pushed him down onto the mattress and climbed in behind him.
Once Harry was situated in the middle, both girls snuggled up to him, each using a shoulder for a pillow while wrapping an arm around his midsection and draping one of their legs over his. For someone that had never been hugged much, Harry was both terrified and overwhelmed at the same time. He felt warm and secure in their embrace but it seemed so foreign to him that it was slightly uncomfortable as well.
Sensing his unease based upon how stiff his body felt, Susan reached down and grabbed his hand while whispering, "Relax, Harry. It's been a long and stressful few days." Feeling him start to relax a bit, she continued, "We need this, too. Hannah lost her parents, my aunt lost her arm, and we all lost a good friend and someone you loved deeply."
Harry let Susan's words soak in and after a few moments, realized that she was right, they had all suffered some tremendous shocks recently and being alone wasn't going to help anyone. Slowly, so as not to alarm his bedmates, Harry lifted his arms and placed them around each young woman and sighed, "You're right, Susan. I guess we should try and get some rest." Not really know what else to say, he squeezed both girls slightly around their shoulders and whispered, "Thanks."
Dropping his newly appropriated funds off at his magically hidden safe house, Agent Johnson made sure to grab a few more vials of polyjuice potion before heading out to meet up with Robards so they could head over to Azkaban as soon as possible. After several random apparitions and stopping at various stores around Hogsmeade, Johnson made it to the prearranged meeting place to find Gawain already waiting for him in the crowded coffee shop.
Gawain watched his quasi partner in crime walk into Starbucks and stop dead in his tracks momentarily as he surveyed the area. He gave a slight wave and Dwight joined him at the small table in the corner. Silently, Robards pushed a steaming mug across the table to his friend and smirked before sipping his own espresso in anticipation.
Warily, Johnson lifted the obviously hot beverage up to his lips and gave it a tentative sniff before taking a sip. As the hot drink flowed into his mouth he savored the taste of Peppermint mixed with milk, coffee, and some type of cream. Deciding that he really liked it, he took a deeper drink and placed the cup back on the table and said, "That's really good! What is it?"
Robards gave a chuckle and replied, "It's called a Peppermint Mocha with extra whip and extra peppermint."
Johnson was oblivious to the snickers coming from the young women at the table next to them as he eagerly took another gulp of the tasty delight then said happily, "This is really good!"
All pretense of not eavesdropping on the two men at the table next to them forgotten, the three attractive young women at the next table burst into loud, raucous, laughter at Dwight's expense. Their mirth increased tenfold when a confused Johnson looked over at them and asked, "What?"
Gawain almost dropped his espresso because he was laughing so hard at his friend. Finally, he blurted out, "Mate, you've whipped cream on your nose!"
"Huh?" Dwight said while still looking at the three beautiful young women that were laughing at him before what Gawain said to him sunk in and he said, "Oh! Sorry about that." and proceeded to lick the whip cream off the tip of his nose before turning back to his friend with a sheepish smile on his face.
The three women blushed and mumbled something he didn't catch before huddling together and whispering furiously back and forth. Confused by their actions, Dwight shrugged and turned his attention back to his friend and said, "Well, we should probably get ready to head back to work. It's going to be a really dreary day in that old prison we call an office."
Robards nodded, gulped down the rest of his espresso, and set his now empty cup on the table. Just as he was about to speak, one of the young women came over and tapped Johnson on the shoulder, smiled, and said softly, "Call me sometime." while handing Dwight a slip of paper with some numbers on it.
Surprised, and a bit confused, Dwight smiled and said jovially, "Sure. Have a nice day." His eyes tracked the lithe brunette as she sashayed out of the Starbucks with her giggling friends. The confusion written clearly on his face, Johnson turned back to Robards and asked, "What just happened?"
"Only you, mate. Only you." Gawain said with a chuckle as they walked out of the Starbucks before they stepped into an alley and disapparated with a tiny pop of displaced air. They reappeared on the docks of Azkaban and tried their best to ignore the cold feeling of dread from the island's guardians.
As they walked up to the gates Robards asked loudly over the howling wind, "Did you bring the veritaserum?"
"Yes." Johnson said calmly as he reinforced his occlumency shields so he could push away the feeling of despair that was beginning to take root in his chest as they approached the island prison's entrance. Grumbling softly, "I hate dementors. Let's get this over with, shall we?"
Ten minutes, and one obliviated guard later, they stood outside the cell door with their hoods up and faces obscured while they looked at the insane prisoner that was one of Voldemort's most fanatical follower. "Get up, Rodolphus!" Johnson drawled in his best Malfoy imitation after downing another sip of the Lucius Malfoy infused polyjuice from his trip to Gringotts earlier.
"Lucius?" the emaciated man asked, his voice like gravel from lack of use, as he dragged herself over to the cell door. Upon seeing the familiar visage of his brother in law, he stretched his hands out through the bars and pleaded, "You must get me out of here! I can help the Dark Lord. I am his most loyal follower!"
The two men looked at each other briefly while thinking that the man in the cell really was insane. "Here, drink this. It will help you recover some of your strength." Johnson said as he held out a potion phial that contained veritaserum instead of the pepper up that he was expecting.
His eyes glazed over as the potion took effect and he slumped down against the bars with in a daze. With a feral smile, Dwight asked, "Tell us everything you know about the Dark Lord."