Disclaimer:-I neither own nor earn anything from this story. Harry Potter and his world are the intellectual property of JK Rowling and associates.
A/N:- For the sake of this story, I am assuming that since a werewolf (eg Remus Lupin and Fenrir Greyback) could be killed in JKR's original story (and it's a safe bet that it was not by three silver bullets) that it is permissible for me to kill a werewolf with a Muggle shotgun. Well that's my justification anyway.
I hope you enjoy this chapter, it has to be said that this is a fairly sober, but necessary chapter. Thank you to everyone for being patient with me as I obsessed over it all, and as always thank you for your favourites, follows and especially your review, I appreciate every one of them.
Chapter Twenty Six – The Morning After
The new summer's day dawned perfectly at Hogwarts, and couples who had spent the night with mother nature awoke with the sun, and as it rose higher it saw them stumbling back towards the castle and to their beds or family.
The farm house of the Burrows family, just outside Ottery St. Catchpole was a hive of activity, and had been since shortly after midnight. At first, Fred Burrows thought he had shot a very ugly dog, and he had called his friend the local constable to see what he thought.
At first Constable Owen Parsons thought his friend was having a lend of him, and arrived to investigate, they were both shocked to find in their torchlight that it wasn't exactly a dog lying the pool of blood on the front porch. This was also about the time that Aurors arrived, having been alerted by a significant spike in the magical atmosphere near Ottery St. Catchpole.
When they arrived, Constable Parsons was just reporting in, "It's bloody huge, Alf, and the ugliest… it looks like it walks on his hind feet. You know I'm not a superstitious man, but it's a full moon, you don't think…" He didn't get any further, as he was hit with an Obliviate, and when he came to, he was told to drive back to the station, that his friend had been playing a joke on him.
The Obliviate team was currently modifying the Burrows family's memories, and a team of Unspeakables had been called to identify the body. This process proved to be more intense than they had all thought too, because as the pull of the moon waned with dawn, they got a terrible shock when the sheet was pulled back.
"That's Commander Potter," one exclaimed, and a wider sweep of the area sent Aurors to investigate further as soon as the sun rose. This search had them looking for members of the Weasley family, when it was found that the werewolf had stopped at The Burrow first, before his blood lust had driven him to seek out other prey. The Weasley house was trashed, but apparently there had been no one home, so the raging beast had continued on to the next door neighbours, quite a ways down the road, and that is how he met his end.
At Hogwarts, Kingsley Shacklebolt was just coming down for breakfast when a ministry elf interrupted his progress. "You is required in Ottery St. Catchpole, sir. Acting head of Aurory, and chief of Unspeakables is needing you," and the elf handed him a scroll before popping out.
Arthur and Molly were coming down the stairs some way back, but they heard what the elf said. "Oh Dear," Molly said, "I wonder what has happened." They both knew that they were not the only magical family in the area.
They were surprised though when Kingsley turned to them, and he was quite pale as he said, "Arthur, Molly, you should go home, there will be Aurors waiting to speak to you," and in answer to their questioning looks he said, "There has been some trouble at your house last night."
"What's happened?" they both asked.
"I am not willing to divulge that at the moment, I need to investigate this more thoroughly. I will speak to you later this morning." He turned and started down the stairs once more without another word.
Molly and Arthur were still looking at one another when they heard. "Mum, Dad," and saw Ginny and Lucius coming in the front doors, having just come back from the forest. "Look!" She was holding up her hand as she came towards them with a huge smile on her face.
Shaking herself, as she realised what her daughter's raised hand and excited words meant, Molly managed a smile, "Oh Gin, that's wonderful." However, the statement came out flat.
Ginny's eyes narrowed, "Can't you just be happy for us?" she all but yelled.
Lucius was taking a more reasonable approach, he had seen the look on Shacklebolt's face as he passed them without more than a nod on his way out the door, and he recognised the looks on Molly and Arthur's faces as distress, and it wasn't at their news, they had been stressed before Ginny had said anything. He placed an arm around Ginny and said, "Love, I don't think we're the problem." He saw this make Ginny look more closely, and he heard her gasp as he continued, "Is there anything I can do to assist?"
It was Arthur who managed to speak. "Thank you, but we do not know enough about what we've been told to say yet. We need to go home and find out what's happened." He then seemed to realise what Ginny had just announced. "And congratulation to you both," he shook Lucius' hand. "You have taken wonderful care of Ginny and the children, and I am happy to welcome you to the family, Lucius, but we will celebrate later." He took a deep breath and glanced at Molly. "I think we better go home and find out what's happened."
Molly nodded at him. She smiled at Lucius and kissed Ginny's cheek. "We really are happy for you. We'll talk later."
Ginny nodded, and managed a smile, and the couple watched them going down the stairs. They greeted Hermione and Severus who were coming up, and disappeared out the doors.
"What's wrong with them?" Severus asked, as they drew level with Lucius and Ginny.
"Something's happened at home last night," Ginny said.
"They were talking to Kingsley Shacklebolt when we came in," Lucius added, and the two wizards shared a concerned look.
"We'll lets go and shower and meet back in the Great Hall," Severus suggested.
"Do you think you know what's happened?" Hermione asked, still yawning, snuggled under his arm.
"Not really, but we might be needed."
"But surely you two want to start your honeymoon?" Ginny asked, blinking at them.
"We have the rest of the summer, Gin. If Severus thinks that your parents will need assistance, then I'm happy for us to go there today."
"I agree," Severus added.
They were so caught up with what had happened, Ginny and Lucius almost forgot to tell Hermione and Severus their news. The two couples were just parting when Lucius whispered to Ginny, "We didn't tell them."
"Oh," the redhead gasped, and turned. "Look!" she said wiggling her fingers to show off her diamond ring, "Lucius proposed last night."
"Well done, both of you," Hermione said, hugging and kissing Ginny and then Lucius.
"Yes, congratulations," Severus added, shaking Lucius' hand warmly, and then looking at Ginny.
"Go on, love, give her a hug," Hermione whispered in his ear, "She's going to be one of us now."
Severus gave his wife a stern look as she nudged him towards Ginny, but he stepped up and embraced the redhead. "Congratulations, my dear," he told her, with his eyes on Lucius to see his smile of approval, and he gave her a peck on the cheek before he drew away.
After what Kingsley Shacklebolt had just seen and been told at the scene of the crime he headed straight for the lycan community, concerned for Andromeda and the Lupins. He decided that he would make certain that everything was all right before telling Dora what had happened. As he apparated from the half-way house to the island, he was feeling sick to the stomach.
This was his fault, and he hoped there were no more casualties. Why didn't I put Harry where I should have as soon as Dora and Remus told me they thought he was becoming secretive and obsessive? Damn, I hope he hasn't injured anyone, or worse.
Kingsley knocked on the Lupins door, and a very tired looking Andromeda answered. Foregoing the usual greeting he said, "Is everything all right?" This was at the same moment that he noticed that she had a black eye and her arm held close to her chest.
"Harry's gone, after he blasted me, I don't remember anything. I'm sorry Kings, I don't know where he is."
"It's okay, Meta, come in and sit down. Are Remus and Darla all right?"
"Yes," she hissed in pain as she shut the door. "I checked on them when I came too. I don't know where Harry is though."
As Kingsley led her into the kitchen, he noticed the scorch mark on the wall opposite and the rubble from an obvious Blasting Curse. "I know where he is, but I'm not certain I understand why," Kingsley told her.
Getting up again, Andromeda filled the kettle, one-handed. "Why, where is he?"
"Sit down, Meta. I'll make you tea. You need that arm seen to," he told her.
"I'll go to the healer once Remus is awake," she said dismissively. "Where is he?"
Kingsley sat her back down, he knew she meant Harry. "He's dead," he said cautiously.
"Oh?" Her brow furrowed. It was true to say the Andromeda had not taken a liking to the wizard, and perhaps it was a little petty, but he had never even thanked her for the trouble she had gone to to save him from the curse he was under. Not to even mention some of his comments about her resemblance to her oldest sister, or the fact that she saw him as a threat to her family. "How?" she asked, obviously troubled by this news.
"Muggle shot gun." Kingsley flopped onto the chair opposite her, and continued, "Meta, Harry had a full transformation last night, and a Muggle farmer shot him as he was trying to break into his house." He glanced at the rack of now empty Wolfsbane Potion vials on the kitchen counter. "Could he have had a bad batch of Wolfsbane?"
"No," she shook her head, "It's the same batch that Remus and Darla took and their rooms are not showing signs that they fully transformed. No, Snape is always very meticulous, any other Potions master, and I might consider it, but Severus Snape is very specific to detail."
"This is true; I do trust Snape's ability. Did you see Harry taking his doses?"
"No, but I don't see Remus taking his either. I know Dora makes certain Darla takes hers, but it's once she's in bed, and Remus usually takes his in the bathroom, so he's not in front of Teddy and Jack. We do try to make the household as normal as possible for the children."
"Yes, I understand that," Kingsley replied, "So, you don't know whether Harry took his or just flushed it down the sink."
"Unfortunately, no I do not," Andromeda replied, yawning. "Was anyone else injured?"
"No, the Weasley's were all at the wedding, so there was no one home."
"Thank goodness," she sighed, but then became a little troubled. "Oh, the wedding. Does Dora know what's happened?"
Kingsley shook his head, "No, but I guess she soon will."
"That's a pity, she gets away so infrequently and I was really hoping she would have a great time."
"She did, her and the boys were happy every time I saw them last night. Teddy seems to have made friends with James Potter and Scorpius Malfoy."
"Has he just, I guess he'll be wanting to go to Hogwarts now," she laughed.
"He did seem quite mesmerised by the place," and Kingsley smiled in remembrance, he downed the last of his tea. "I need to get back at it."
Andromeda got out of her chair awkwardly. "Thank you for coming to check on us, Kings. I'm sure Remus will be in to see you when he wakes."
Sure, bye, Meta."
"Kings," she replied, walking him to the door.
Kingsley gave the witch a kiss on the cheek. They had known one another for a long time now, and had been friends for many years. "Get that arm looked at," he said before turning and apparating away.
At The Burrow, Molly Weasley was looking at her kitchen in disbelief, it was trashed. Oh it was fixable, and her fingers itched to start the job, but it was a complete mess. The Aurors had allowed them in to look, but they weren't finished collecting evidence so the couple weren't allowed to touch anything.
"Molly, I'll take you back to Hogwarts and come back. You can have breakfast with everyone else," Arthur encouraged.
Molly nodded mutely at him. What has caused this? her mind asked, "W-what h-happened, young man?"
The young Auror standing guard at the door, shrugged, "I don't know, Madam Weasley."
"Where is Minister Shacklebolt?" Arthur asked.
The Auror looked confused, "I don't know, Mr. Weasley."
Molly could see they weren't going to get any answers here. "Okay, I'll go back to Hogwarts, I can't stand just looking at this mess," she said to her husband. Arthur turned to come with her. "No, it's all right, love, I can apparate myself to Hogwarts."
The Weasley matriarch used the time it took her to climb the drive way to the castle to settle things in her mind. Her kitchen looked like a rampaging hippogriff has been through it. Well maybe not that, but some wild animal, definitely. The door had been torn to pieces by what looked like claws.
It was then that her mind went into overdrive, Arthur and I have equal control over the wards on our home. The only people who can come and go without us feeling the shift, are family members, had either of us felt a shift in the wards last night? She smiled, Well we did both become quite merry, she raised an eyebrow remembering, and we slipped into the forest, but we still would have felt it.
Molly chuckled quietly, remembering Arthur's attentions last night. The young people would be mortified to know that we made love as well, she thought, a slow smile spreading momentarily across her face. However, it was obliterated the next moment when her brain realised that if neither of them had felt it, then it had been a family member who had done this. But all our family were here last night… well except Ron… b-but he's in the care of Vadoma in Romania.
She was puffing slightly as she made it to the top of the drive, and took a break before she continued up the stairs, it was as she looked out over the front lawns of the castle with its monument to the fallen from both Voldemort wars that she thought of the only other person it could possibly have been. "Harry," she sighed. "But how?"
Her reveres were interrupted by the sound of boots tramping the path she had just walked, and she watched as Kingsley Shacklebolt approached the castle with a bevy of senior Aurors in tow. He nodded to Molly, "Is Arthur still here?" he asked.
"No, I came back alone. What has happened, Kingsley?"
"We are about to relate that," Kingsley replied, his tone very serious.
"It was Harry, wasn't it?" Molly asked, "And don't think of putting me off. I have a right to know what happened at my house last night," she told him.
Kingsley sighed, and nodded, "Yes, it was Harry… but that's not the whole story. We need to go inside, Molly, I'll send for Arthur. We don't need to go through this more than once."
"Very well," she nodded.
"Sturges, will you have Mr. Arthur Weasley summoned, please?"
The Auror, Sturges nodded once, and sent a Patronus type message to Ottery st. Catchpole."
"Good," Kingsley said, watching the streak of blue head off down the drive. "Molly," and he indicated that she should go ahead of him.
As they entered the Great Hall with Molly first, members of her family including Ginny and her grandchildren started towards her. However, when they saw Kingsley and Aurors following, all but the children stopped.
Molly happily greeted her grandchildren, but the mask dropped as she looked back to her children and extended family.
Kingsley had been using this time to see who was missing and locate Dora. Regardless of Andromeda's wishes for her daughter to stay as long as she wished at Hogwarts, Kingsley knew that his friend needed medical assistance, so while they waited for Arthur to arrive he approached her. He also noticed that Severus and Hermione were missing, well that was only to be expected, they were on their honeymoon after all.
While the Weasley's were gathered around Molly, Kingsley motioned Dora outside the hall. "There has been an incident at the community," he told her quietly.
It took all of her training not to react to this news. She simply asked, "Who?" already suspecting the answer.
"Harry," Kingsley admitted. "It seems he hadn't been taking his Wolfsbane Potion."
She sighed, "I did wonder as much." I had tried to watch him after I went into the bathroom after him one night and the drain was smoking slightly. Damn, I should have been more diligent," she asserted.
"No, this is not your fault."
Her astute dark eyes came up to Kingsley's. "They said Ottery st. Catchpole, was anyone injured?"
"Before he transformed, he knocked Andromeda out. It appears that he was intent on getting where he went while he was still in his right mind." He scoffed, "Whatever that was."
"Is Mum all right?"
"She's a bit shaken, and has an injured arm. She said she would go to the healers once Remus wakes."
"Right," Dora scoffed sarcastically, "and you believe her? Kings, how long have you been friends with my mother? Seriously, I think you need a holiday."
Before Kingsley could answer, a panting Arthur Weasley arrived, and he took the opportunity to change the subject. "Ah, Arthur."
"Kingsley," the redheaded wizard nodded.
"Okay now everyone is here, I think it's time I told you all what's going on." As they entered the hall, he found that Hermione and Severus were present; having arrived via the teacher's entrance.
Luna and Neville Longbottom—sensing something serious was happening—had conveniently taken all the children, babies included, out on an acorn hunt into one of the walled gardens whose centre piece was a huge acorn tree. The seeds were a sought after Potion ingredient and Neville often collected them. He presented Teddy, Jack, James and Scorpius with a bag each, and he took Frank, Albus and Adela with one bag and Luna helped Lily and Xanthie, with the three sleeping babies in their prams being levitated behind her. They had just started out when Draco and Astoria arrived to assist them after finding out what had happened. They didn't say anything but simply started helping.
Back in the Great Hall there had been gasps when Kingsley revealed that Harry Potter had been a werewolf, and then disbelief when they were told what had happened. Hermione and Ginny were seated between Severus and Lucius, and both were utterly speechless.
Out of all the people present these two witches had borne the brunt of the idiocy and they could not bring themselves to be distraught about the wizard's demise. In fact they had their hands laced tightly together in a show of support as their wizards formed a bodily shield around them.
It was just after Draco had whispered to his father that he and Astoria would take care of the children for the day and left. That they then watched Molly, who had endured so much as well, try to rally everyone. She shrugged Arthur's arm off and linked her hand with his. Raising her morning pumpkin juice she said, "To the little lost boy I found trying to find platform nine and three quarters," and tears ran freely down her cheeks.
Hermione still couldn't bring herself to feel anything; all she could think of were images of some of the vile things that Harry and Ron had done to her over the ten years since the demise of Voldemort. The tricks and pranks that they had played, and the letters and lies. No, she was most certainly not going to just martyr Harry Potter. "I need air, Sev," she whispered.
"Me too," Ginny agreed.
The two wizards pulled them up off their chairs. "Excuse us please," Lucius said on their behalves, and with their arms still around their witches, and the girl's hands still linked, the four of them walked from the hall.
Instinctively Severus made for the lake and Lucius just kept following, he turned into the little hidden alcove that he and Hermione had shared for a very different reason more than once in recent history. "No one will find us here unless we wish them to," he told his companions, sitting down on the grass and pulling Hermione into his lap.
Lucius followed his example, and he then said, "What are you thinking, love?"
"It feels surreal," Ginny replied, resting her head on his chest, "but scary as well." She sat up and looked at him, "He deliberately placed himself where he thought we were before he changed. H-he was planning to kill us all," she managed, only choking on a sob in the last few words.
"Thank goodness we were all here last night, and oblivious to his plan," Hermione added, as she rested her head on Severus' shoulder, and watched Ginny finally coming completely undone. She thought back to the conversation she and Severus had after the last dress fitting, where she wondered at Ginny and Luna's attitudes. Now she watched her best friend breaking her heart over the fact that her ex-husband had had murder on his mind, and she understood what Severus had said that night. Skimming over things was her coping mechanism, but it was not possible to skim over this, it had hit her fair in the face.
Finally, tears started over her lashes, but they were not for the monster that had been slain, they were relief that it was finally over. He could not hurt them anymore, and it was sadness for the children who had and would never know their birth father, and the unbidden image of the little boy she had met on the Hogwarts express who had turned into a monster without knowing it.
Severus held her as she too gave into her tears. Not like Ginny who was inconsolable, thinking about how her family could have been harmed, but quietly, and still only feeling relief. Wiping her eyes, she moved out of Severus's embrace and offering him her hand she shuffled over to Lucius and Ginny on her knees. Reaching over she pulled Ginny down next to her, after conjuring a supply of pillows and indicated that Severus and Lucius should join them.
The four of them stay cuddled together and eventually Ginny quieted; she had cried herself to exhaustion. Casting a Muffilato so they would disturb her, they started discussing the situation.
"I suppose the little shit will be buried a hero," Severus said.
"Mmm," Lucius agreed. "They'll spin some rubbish about him having been undercover, or something."
"Yes, killed in the line of duty," Hermione scoffed. "Are we going to go to the funeral?"
"No, we're bloody well not," both Severus and Lucius stated in union.
"You two have a honeymoon to occupy yourselves with, and I intend to relocate Ginny and the children to the continent for the summer. You are both welcome to base yourselves with us if you wish," he added.
"Thank you, Lu," and Hermione rubbed his arm that was draped over Ginny and disappeared down between their stomachs. She glance around at Severus, "But I think we need some alone time."
"Perhaps we'll catch up with the pair of you during the last week," Severus added, with a raised eyebrow.
Lucius nodded, and rested his head back down on the pillow, smiling. "We'll look forward to it," he murmured.