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Chapter 3 - Relief

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1 Chapter 3 - Relief on Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:56 am

Mrs.KreszentiaBlack

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When they finally hit solid ground, Harry saw that they were in Professor McGonagall’s office. He looked around at the pictures of the old headmasters and saw that they all, including Dumbledore, were sleeping in their frames.

Professor McGonagall was clutching her chest and taking deep steadying breaths. She looked like she had been crying for the past few days; her whole face was swollen and red.

“It’s okay,” Lupin informed her, “Harry’s all right!”

McGonagall looked for a moment as if she was about to run at Harry and give him a hug. However, she composed herself as if remembering that she was now a headmistress and was supposed to act accordingly.

“Thank you,” she told Lupin, “Are you feeling okay Harry? Should I send you to the hospital wing?”

“I’m fine, thank you,” replied Harry politely, “I need to see Ron and Hermione.”

“Yes, of course, they are very worried. Remeus, can you please go and bring Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger here? Also tell them to bring Potter his invisibility cloak - .” she added, “We cannot be too careful. There might be spies amongst the students.”

McGonagall turned to Kingsley, “Did everything proceed accordingly?”

Kingsley took a deep breath, shook his head and let it out.

“I think You-Know-Who will have no doubt that we had inside help. There was no way we could have gotten there without specific instructions down to the very last detail. There were spells that needed to be broken at just the right places, there were Dark Mark barriers that needed moving just at the right moments, and Death eaters on guard that we had to confund from behind. Severus is as good as dead.”

“Then we should have brought him back with us!” Harry blurted out before he could stop himself, “Why did we leave him there?”

“Because he gave us specific instructions to make it look like a surprise attack. Maybe he doesn’t expect You-Know-Who to know that he was the one who helped you. He is still very credible to You-Know-Who because of what he did last year.”

The door to the office suddenly flew open and Ginny, Ron, and Hermione stormed in, stopping at the sight of Harry. They were all standing there looking at him, unable to move.

“What?” said Harry, feeling uncomfortable as they stared.

“Oh, Harry!” cried Ginny, running towards Harry and giving him a tight hug. She started to say something but was overwhelmed with uncontrollable sobs.

For the first time in months, Harry felt at home. With Ginny in his arms and his friends by his side, all he wanted to do was hold her tight and keep her in his arms forever. He wanted to forget everything and just escape with Ginny to a secluded paradise, but he knew this was not a possibility. This was no time for emotions. For if he really loved Ginny, he would not let them get to attached to each other. There were too many dangers involved.

Harry looked at Ron, “Did you bring the invisibility cloak?” he asked, pushing Ginny away gently, his hands shaking with the effort of not grabbing her back in a tight embrace.

Ron nodded silently, looking like if he would open his mouth to say anything, he would cry like Ginny.

“Professor, can we please go to the Common Room?” asked Harry.

“Yes, yes, of course, you all need to rest. Children like yourselves should not have had to go through such a Christmas.” she said sadly. “Remus, will you please escort them to the Gryffindor Common Room? Like I said, we can’t be too careful.”

Harry quickly put on his invisibility cloak and led Ron and Hermione out of the office.

As they were walking through the corridors, Harry felt pangs of regret on how he doesn’t attend Hogwarts anymore. He missed it so much; it was the only home he’s ever known.

He looked sideways at Lupin and thought he should apologize for the way he greeted him when he came to his rescue.

He turned to Lupin although it made no difference for he was invisible, “I - I’m sorry I was so rude when you stunned Snape, I was just so...” Harry couldn’t find the right words to say. “Just so confused.”

He wanted desperately to ask Lupin about what Snape told him, but he didn’t want Ginny, Ron, and Hermione to hear his father’s guilt.

“Do you think Voldemort will suspect Snape for being our ‘inside help’?” Harry asked, truely concerned.

“Nah, don’t worry,” said Ron with a wave of his hand, “There are plenty other Death Eaters he can suspect. It might have been Bellatrix.”

Harry, Hermione, and Ginny collapsed with silent giggles as Lupin kept hushing them so they didn't attract attention.

“Did Snape really help you?” asked Hermione, “We were at McGonagall’s office trying to figure out how to find Voldemort’s headquarters when he came in. Everyone was so shocked he came that they almost arrested him.”

“Yes,” said Harry and Lupin.

“Wow,” whispered Ron.

“He said he needed to get to Slughorn’s office to get ingredients for a potion. We all thought he was setting up a plan for Voldemort to attack Hogwarts again. We sent Slughorn and Moody with him to make sure he was making a harmless potion. He said he needed to make you a potion to ease the pain-”

“Did that potion really help?” interrupted Ron, “ He was almost crying when he told us you were probably insane.”

“Yeah, he did seem kind of relieved when I recognized him, even tough I was yelling at him,” said Harry crossly, now feeling guilty about how he blew up at Snape.

“Poor Neville,” Harry added thoughtfully after they said goodbye to Lupin at the portrait of the Fat Lady, “Is this what they’ve done to his parents?”

Ron, Hermione, and Ginny looked at each other.

“Snape said you’ve had it much worse,” said Hermione softly, “He has seen Voldemort drive many people into insanity, but he said he has never seen something like this.”

“Listen,” Harry told Ron and Hermione, suddenly feeling uncomfortable, “We have to go get to that Horcrux in Ravenclaw’s wand as soon as possible. Now, maybe. We will Floo over to Number Twelve and go from there.”

“Now!” exclaimed Hermione, “Shouldn’t you rest first?”

“I am almost positive that Voldemort knows all about our operations by now. If we are lucky, Voldemort will be too tired tonight to go and set us a trap at the place where he hid that Horcrux. We have an advantage now because he probably thinks I am still there,” said Harry, shuddering at the memory of what he had been through.

“Are you sure you - did you tell him about - ,” stuttered Hermione.

“I don’t know what I told him and I don’t want to try to remember,” said Harry firmly.

He had no wish to make that experience real again by talking about it, or even thinking about it.

“Maybe we should go by ourselves this time,” said Ron anxiously, “Are you sure you are up to it?”

“I’m fine, we have no time to feel tired.”

“I’m coming too,” said Ginny.

“No you’re not,” said Harry with such finality that left no room for argument.

Ginny was not deterred , “I am just as competent as Ron or Hermione and you know that.”

“And you know that this is not the reason I can’t let you come.”

“Yeah, I heard that story before. You worry about me. Aren’t you worried about Ron and Hermione?”

“No.” said Harry, “They already gave me their word that if anything happens, they will leave me and save themselves. I’m sorry,” Harry said in a softer tone, “When we are finished, I promise we will return to Hogwarts to let you know we are ok.”

With a swish of his wand, Harry lit the fire in the fireplace and he, Ron, and Hermione Flooed to Grimmuald Place.

Once they arrived at Number Twelve, both Ron and Harry looked expectedly at Hermione for instructions.

“Okay," said Hermione, “This place is in the middle of the Scottish Highlands. You can read about it in a book titled -.”

“Ok, we know we can read it, but we aren’t interested.” said Ron impatiently, “You read it for us already, so give us the details.”

“There used to be a school for higher, dark magical education where Voldemort learned some of his worst Dark Magic after he left Hogwarts. That school was discovered shortly thereafter by aurors who destroyed it and arrested the founders. I am sure Voldemort returned to that area because I did a lot of research on it and found that there are very strange rumors among the Muggles living there. It seems that there is some kind of a whirlpool of wind that never leaves and it’s recorded to have begun a few years after we know the school was closed.”

“This would make sense,” said Ron, “The wand with the Horcrux must be inside the whirlpool.”

“Do we know exactly where we are apparating to?” asked Harry.

“It’s near a circle of stones on a hill. We should hold on to each other while aparating so we don’t get lost,” said Hermione, “Harry, you will need to concentrate on the place and get us there with side along apparation. You’re the only one who has mastered it yet.”

Harry held on to his two best friends and together they appeared right into the middle of a circle of stones in the Scottish Highlands.



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