Give Me a Sign
It was warm. Even in the early morning, with the breeze, the group trudging up the hill was sweating. It could have been nerves….
In the distance, they could see another group surrounding the house. The wizards there were moving their wands from side to side in a slow rhythm. A blue sheen covered the house.
One of them, a man with bright red hair and a scar across his face, ran down to meet the two witches at the front of the group. "Alright Tonks, Pansy?" Bill Weasley asked.
"Wotcher, Bill," Tonks said, yawning. "How long have you lot been out here?"
"All night," Bill answered as they made their way up to the house. "There'd been vandalism and we had to make sure there wasn't anything dangerous before we even got to what was supposed to be dangerous."
"Merlin help us," Pansy said. "How are we doing?"
"Just fine. We'll have you in the house within the next ten minutes."
"Impressive," she told him, smiling. "Did Kingsley clear you to come on the raid with us?"
"He did, Fleur didn't."
The witches chuckled and came to a stop. Tonks turned back to the rest of the team. "Relax for a bit," she said quietly. "We've got a bit of a wait."
"Then why did we have to be here now?" one of the men asked.
Pansy glared at him. "It's too early for you to act like a two year old, Aldhurst," she snapped. She wasn't in the mood. He'd already been on Kingsley's case the day before for letting her come. He didn't trust her any more than he had the night they'd met during the war.
"It'll only be a few minutes," Tonks said. "We should go over the plan again."
For the next few minutes they reworked the plan for the raid. Tonks split the teams up into groups of three, and handed out maps of the estate. By the time they'd gone over the meet up and transport plans, the other team was done checking for curses.
"Right," Bill said. "Safe to go in. I'm off home."
"Thanks, Bill," Tonks said. "Tell Fleur hello from us."
He nodded at them. "Good luck," he said, before Disapparating.
"Right," Tonks said. "Let's move in. Remember, if it looks off, don't touch it. If you have questions, send a Patronus to Pansy."
There were mumbles of understanding. Some of them went off onto the rest of the grounds. Tonks, Pansy and a few other groups went into the house itself. It was dark, of course, and all of them were on edge. None as much as Pansy.
"Molly killed her," she muttered to herself. "She's not here."
Tonks squeezed her shoulder. "We'll start with the drawing room."
An hour later, Pansy was patting herself on the back a bit. She'd managed to help the team without having any major panic attacks. Every memory she had of this place had to be pushed to the back of her mind, but she was doing well.
"What's in here?" Tonks asked.
"Er…that's where she tortured people." Reflexively, Pansy scratched her left forearm. The tattoo may have covered the scar, but she knew it was still there.
"I can handle this," Tonks told her. "If you want to go help the others."
Pansy shook her head. "It's fine. This is what I'm here for, right? Besides, you can't go in by yourself, and Kellan's still taking that stuff from the last room to transport."
Tonks nodded and pushed open the door.
It was the same as Pansy remembered it. White padded walls….
"Faster, Pansy!" Bellatrix snapped, pulling the girl up by her hair.
"I think…I think my arm's broken," Pansy said, sinking back into the cushioned wall.
"That's your own fault." Bellatrix threw another curse at her.
Pansy dodged, trying to ignore the throbbing in her arm.
Broken mirror lining one side of the room.
Pansy sent Bellatrix flying across the room with a well timed spell. Her mentor soared into the mirror, breaking it. She froze, not quite believing it. She'd never landed a curse fighting against Bellatrix. Backing away, she held her wand out, ready for any retaliation.
The shards of glass rose into the air and soared directly at her. Her heat spell was somewhat effective, but the bigger pieces still made it through. She would have many cuts to heal before this day was over anyway.
Blood stained wooden floor.
She opened her eyes slightly. The pain in her arm was nearly unbearable. She shut her eyes tight, willing herself not to cry in front of Bellatrix.
But it wasn't Bellatrix's voice that spoke. "Relax. I'll have your arm fixed up in no time."
"Yes," was all he said.
Pansy didn't dare to look over at her arm. She held perfectly still until the pain subsided. Finally, Rodolphus helped her into a sitting position.
"You should go get some rest."
She nodded, looking down at the small pool of blood on the wood. One more stain to add to the others….
The younger witch shook herself. "Sorry, Tonks. Spaced out."
"Can't handle being back home?" Aldhurst asked.
Pansy jumped. She hadn't noticed him come in. Before she could go off on him, Tonks jumped in.
"Terrance," she said through gritted teeth. "I've been up since three in the morning getting this raid together. It's safe to say that the long hours of the past week have played merry hell with my patience. If you don't back off my wife, you will end up in St. Mungo's with some very curious ailments."
Aldhurst scowled at the pair of them and held up a purple book. "Any idea what this is? There's no writing in it."
Pansy shook her head. "Put it in the Investigative transport. I'll have a look at it later."
The older man looked sour at being told what to do, but left the room.
"He's right, much as I hate to admit it," Pansy said.
"About what?" Tonks asked.
"Being back here…. It's… a lot to handle."
Tonks nodded. "Well, we're almost done at least."
"Are you kidding? There's still half the house to get through."
"Another few teams are coming to relieve us in about an hour. We'll head back to the Ministry, nap in the trainee barracks, and then get to work on the stuff in the Investigative pile."
"Right…." Pansy said. "Well, there's nothing in here but bad memories. Why don't we—"
"Pansy? Tonks?" Kellan said peeking into the room. "We need you upstairs."
They followed him and found another group of Aurors standing in front of a heavy black door.
"It was their office," Pansy explained.
"Wonderful," Aldhurst said sarcastically. He quailed at a look from Tonks. "Er…do you know how to get in?"
"I do, actually," Pansy said, walking forward. "Whether it actually lets me or not is an entirely different matter." She pricked her finger on one of the door's spikes, then touched the keyhole. Her blood spread out over the door, filling in the cracks of the intricate design. It would have been beautiful, if it weren't so disgusting. The door creaked open. "Pureblood offering," she explained to the group. "Tonks, Kellan and I will take this room."
The rest of the team seemed happy with that plan. They left as the other three entered the dark room.
"Lumos maxima!" Kellan said.
They poked around, careful not to touch anything. Merlin knew what was cursed in here…. As the other two threw things into boxes, Pansy stopped at the cluttered oak desk. She used her wand to shuffle through the papers.
"What is it?" Kellan asked her. Tonks came over to look too.
"Looks like letters," Pansy said. She bound them together with a wave of her wand, and put them in her bag. "I know we're supposed to be working as a team," she began, noticing their looks, "but Merlin only knows what these say. I have a feeling Kingsley might prefer to go over them personally. Or at very least, give the task to someone."
"Makes sense," Kellan muttered.
A ghostly squid came down from the ceiling. "Relief team is here," it said.
Without another glance at the room, the three grabbed their boxes and left.