It's taken 2/3 weeks to send this using fanfiction. Fanfiction is being a pain and eating work. Sorry for the wait! I also broke my arm and typing was a pain with one hand, thats why the last chapter was so short, so don't flame!
Thanks to my wonderful Beta Itsinmyblood for editing this story.
George glanced around Fred and Hermione's living room and cursed. It was covered in paper, blackboards and books. The back wall had a stretch of paper across it with a timeline. There were boards scattered across the room, each one with a Weasley's name on it. Hermione was meant to be resting. Fred was away for the next two days getting stock for their new shop. George had offered to go, but apparently Hermione wanted the peace. He'd been confused at first, but now George understood. Fred would have gone mental if he saw all this craziness.
Hermione had always been a planner and a bit of control freak, but this was pushing things to the limit. George had been so distracted by the papers and books that he missed the pregnant witch sitting in the middle of all the mess. She had one of Fred's shirts on and nothing else. She looked exhausted, but very much like the old Hermione.
"Busy?" George asked stepping over a pile of paper. He spotted one of boards with a Weasley man's name and picked it up. "Oi!" George called holding the board out. "Why's my name on this and what's with the list of reasons here? You think I'd push you down the stairs? Thanks a lot Hermione."
Hermione didn't even glance up and continued to write in her book. "I had to look at all the people in the house. There's even a board with my name on. I have everyone's names and I've been narrowing the suspect list down. As amazing and unique as you think you are, it's very easy to pretend to be George Weasley, but I've already been able to mark you off the suspect list. You'll be very pleased to know that you're no longer on the Weasley suspects."
"Wonderful," George said in a sarcastic tone. "Care to tell me what got me that honour? No one handsome enough to fill the George Weasley post? Excluding my twin of course. Why wouldn't someone want to pretend to be me?"
"Are you trying to get back onto the suspect list or remain off it?" Hermione asked glancing up from her work. She raised an eyebrow and rubbed a hand against her stomach as one of the twins kicked her. "I removed you because it wouldn't be possible to copy you. Your ear is dark magic and only dark magic can copy that. I did briefly consider another charm, but after a quick word with Angelina, she's confirmed that you aren't under a spell."
"How does she know?" George frowned. "Hold on, I don't want to know. Don't answer that. My innocent ears probably couldn't take it."
Hermione rolled her eyes and picked up a piece of paper. "So far my list is Ron, Percy, Bill, Charlie and Ginny. I did briefly cross Ginny off, but then I remembered the whole chamber of secrets stuff and added her back on. The obvious answer is Ron, but that seems too obvious. Although it could just be a trick to put me off his scent."
"His scent? Hermione..." George paused and made his way towards her. He pushed some paper and books aside to sit next to her. His gaze went to her stomach. Angelina had a tiny baby bump, it was the cutest thing he'd ever seen. Hermione's was much larger although he wouldn't dare tell her that. She was a good ways into the pregnancy now. Thirty weeks pregnant and only ten more to go. "You really think someone in our family would try to kill you?"
"No, I think someone is making a close family member hurt me. I think all these events are connected, but I don't believe it was the same person each time. I mean... Maybe Lavender didn't have a choice with giving me that drink at the twin's party. I don't think for one moment that she's a nice person, but I still don't think she'd do that willingly. Do you? It just seems a bit extreme. I think someone made her do that. I also believe someone made a Weasley push me down the stairs, but I don't know who and I don't understand why. Everyone I've upset is in prison or dead."
"Some people are just bad," George shrugged wrapping an arm around her. "Some people are just crazy. We've both come close and we've both survived. I don't understand it, but we'll catch whoever did it. We won't let anything happen to you Hermione."
"I'm going to catch them," Hermione replied. "They can't get away with all this."
"This hasn't got anything to do with getting your mind of your marriage right?"
"Our marriage is perfect."
George nodded and pressed a kiss to Hermione's cheek, a hand went to her stomach and she moved it towards a kicking baby. "Let's go get you and the boys fed."
"One boy, we don't know what the other one is still," Hermione corrected. She turned her head and pressed a kiss to George's cheek. "And for the record, you were only on the list to make things fair. I know you too well to ever think you'd do that to me."
"Drink this," A hooded figure said holding a cup out to Lee, their other hand holding a wand at Lee's temple. "Drink all of this."
Lee did as instructed. The charm was strong, but not as strong as it should have been. He couldn't fight it though. His mind was screaming no, not to take anything, not to drink anything offered, but his body wouldn't listen. He grabbed the cup and drained it. His body felt strange, not quite right.
"How do you feel?" A person asked, their voice odd like a microphone. "Is it hurting? Are you changing?"
"No," Lee replied with a frown. He held his hands out and saw his fingers were a little longer, he felt a strange tingling down his spine, but nothing else happened. He didn't grow or shrink. That horrid liquid wasn't causing him any pain.
"Damn it," The figure cursed grabbing the cup and throwing it against the wall. They moved the wand to Lee's forehead. "Forget this, you won't remember any of this." Lee nodded and glanced up to see the person's face and froze.
"Obliviate," The person whispered and dropped their wand.
"You can't remember anything else?" Hermione asked placing the tray of tea onto the table, a dressing gown wrapped tightly round her waist. "You can't see their face?"
Lee shook his head and grabbed the cup of tea from the tray. Hermione took a seat opposite as Fred sat next to his friend. Lee had woken them up at three o'clock in the morning pounding on their door. He'd been close to tears and said they needed to listen to his story, his dream. They quickly realized it wasn't a dream, but a memory of the night of the twin's party. Lee had been so out of it, the twins had tested a new product out and blamed that, but they still hadn't been able to get the same affect after retesting it.
"I'm sorry Hermione," Lee apologized. "That's all I can remember, it's strange. It's like I can remember the night at the party, even after, but it still doesn't feel like it was me. I know it was, but it's just... I'm sorry for what I did. For erm... the morning you found me."
"It's fine Lee, don't worry about it," Hermione waved the apology off. "At least we know a few things about that night then."
"We do?" Fred questioned raising an eyebrow. "Care to fill us in Hermione?"
Hermione rolled her eyes, "Fine. We know that this person isn't experienced, the Polyjuice potion didn't work and George is still alive. If it had been made by anyone else I dare say he wouldn't be with us today. They also aren't very good with memory charms, Lee shouldn't be able to remember this. It could be someone who lacks the skill or maybe something else..."
"Like?" Fred encouraged.
"I don't know, it's just ... It's strange. They've managed so much and I can't imagine they can't do the spells or potion. Maybe they're tired or something? I'm not sure. I need to read up about it. I don't know if magic gets tired or a physical person's state can affect the spells and potions."
"I've never heard of it. George and I have made potions until early hours of the morning and they've still worked."
"I know and I'm just trying to work it out. We'll work something out Lee, don't worry. We will get to the Bottom of this."
"I know, but I just needed you both to know," Lee replied looking at Hermione. His eyes went to her stomach and he felt a twist of guilt in the pit of his stomach. He hadn't done anything to hurt Hermione, not really, but the thought of what could have happened was very much in the pit of his stomach. If the potion had worked he could have killed Hermione, her babies, or even his best friend George. He should have been able to fight the spell. He'd tried to learn it at Hogwarts when the fake Mad-Eye Moody made them practice on each other, but he was useless at it. Maybe he was too weak-minded to fight it. "I'd never have been able to forgive myself if I had done something to hurt you Hermione. I'm so sorry."
"Stop apologizing," Fred said rolling his eyes. "It wouldn't have been your fault, not really and besides, you never did anything. You came here the second you remembered and you told us everything. A lesser man would have turned over and went back to sleep. Don't worry about it Lee, I've known you too long to not trust you. "
Lee nodded and sighed as he stood up. He'd never be able to forget about it and stop his mind from wondering 'what if', but it wasn't doing any of them any good thinking about it. He shook Fred's hand, kissed Hermione's cheek and left to get a night of broken sleep.
"It wasn't his fault," Fred stated the second the door shut behind Lee. He turned and looked over at Hermione, her eyes drooping from the lack of sleep and he stood and reached out to help her up. "Come on, you need to sleep baby, you're about to fall."
"I'm fine, I need to make notes. And for the record I don't blame Lee, not in the slightest."
"Hermione please," Fred whined tugging her hand towards the bedroom. "Come and sleep, let me hold you and get some rest. I've promised not to stop this mission of yours as long as you stay safe. Do all that in the morning. Remembering how close I came to losing you and my brother is just ... I need you tonight, please."
Hermione tightened her grip and nodded, following her husband into the bedroom. She needed to study the charms, make notes and read up about everything she'd learned tonight, but tonight she needed her husband more. All those things could wait until the morning.
Hermione looked over the book collection and frowned. There wasn't anything she could use and she felt like the owner's stare was burning holes in the back of her head. She'd been in this bookshop in Knockturn Alley for over an hour and she was no further forward. She'd heard Harry talking about the shop before, the auror's raided it constantly and the owner was always fined for the dodge dark products he sold over the counter. He had been a death eater back in the days of the war. Everyone had known about it, but no one could prove it so the shopkeeper was set free.
He had that look about him, Hermione believed. The dark eerie look of someone that had been up to no good. The look that made you walk faster down an alley to see if they would speed up as well. The type of guy a father warned their daughter about. Hermione clutched her wand tighter under the sleeve of her robe and straightened up. This was the fifth bookshop she'd been to today and it was no use. She couldn't find any books to help her and she was so close to giving up.
"Miss," The owner called standing far too close to her. Hermione stepped back in shock and looked over to him. A short black beard, side burns and black hair that looked like it hadn't seen shampoo in a very long time. "You need to leave."
"Excuse me?" Hermione questioned.
"He can't see you're here," The man stated glancing around the empty store. "If he sees you came in here he'll get suspicious." For a moment Hermione was convinced he was talking about Voldemort, the obvious answer that had always been right in the past, but not now. He was gone and she didn't have the faintest idea who he was talking about.
"You know who is trying to hurt me don't you?"
"Yes," The man replied, his eyes flickering to his desk.
Hermione followed his gaze and her eyes widened. "You sold him things, didn't you? You sold him the potion that nearly killed my brother-in-law. That potion is illegal, I hope you know that."
"I didn't," He replied, his tone darker at the weight of her words. Hermione Granger had connections, very good connections throughout the ministry. She could have his store closed down and arrested in minutes. "I sold him the list of how to make it. I didn't... he didn't say what he was going to do. He... He tortured me Miss. Granger, I didn't have a choice. I had too."
"Tell me his name."
"You've got twenty seconds before I get Harry here and you'll spend the rest of your life in Azkaban for attempted murder. You supplied the person with access to a weapon, a deadly potion and you will rot in jail if you don't tell me," Hermione pulled her wand out and held it towards the man's throat. She wasn't scared any more. She was furious. This man could have stopped it, he could have warned them or gone to the auror's, but he just stood back and let it happen.
"Mrs. Granger I..."
"Weasley," Hermione corrected. The man's eyes widened further at her words, but he didn't comment on the name.
"Mrs. Weasley, you don't understand. I might hate mudbloods and I'm sure you've heard and know a lot about me, more than you should, but that's different. I'm not going to insult your intelligence and pretend I don't hate your kind, but I still do and probably always will, but that's in the past. I choose to ignore the muggles and the mud... the muggleborns. I got lucky and didn't join my... friends in Azkaban. I didn't want you dead, I don't care if you live, but I didn't want to be the cause of your death or that kid in your belly. I didn't want any connection with all that, but... I can't tell you who he is. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't tell you."
Hermione thought over his words. It wasn't every day someone told her they didn't care if she lived or died. For some odd reason she believed him though. He didn't have to tell her all this. He could have thrown her out and not have given her any explanation
"Please, I won't give any names, I'll keep you out of this. You might not care about me, but my children's lives are at risk every day and they didn't do anything to deserve all this. Please help me," Hermione begged. It was low, but she'd do anything to protect her babies, her family. It was her motherly instinct, or maybe it was just weeks of worrying and not sleeping, but she didn't care. She'd beg for answers if she had too.
"Listen," The man said lowering his voice. "I can't, I physically can't help you any more than I have without risking..."
"He made you promise didn't you?" Hermione gasped and her eyes widened. "He made you do the unbreakable vow?"
He didn't say anything, he walked over to his counter and grabbed a flyer and walked back towards Hermione and held it out towards her. "If you need a part-time job, I highly recommend this place. Plenty of people you can talk to there if you need a... job."
Hermione nodded in understanding and took the paper. "Thanks for the... recommendation."
"I mean this in the best way Mrs. Granger, but never come back to my store again."
"Mrs. Weasley," Hermione corrected again. The man never said anything and his hard gaze met hers. The weight of the look meant everything. It had been a Weasley that made him promise. Her worst fear.
"Good day Mrs. Granger," The man repeated before leaving her to return to behind his counter.
Hermione left the store, her mind full of information. She glanced down at the leaflet in her hand. 'St. Mungo Manor' was printed on the top, a picture of a huge manor in the background. She flipped it over and scribbled down the address. It had a list of workers on the back and their ranks. Hermione glanced over the list, but only one name stood out. Mr. Malfoy, financial advisor.