Failure To Thrive

Acts of Revenge - Part II

Kingsley cast a patronus as he stepped away from the patient beds and into the more open area of the infirmary, where all present deputies could gather around him. "I'd like to have a sense of who we will encounter at the Munson Estate," he told them, as the floo roared and first Bill, then Percy stepped out.
"We've taken Winger to St. Mungo's, and have Bolero in a cell, Minister. The other prisoners are in holding at Azkaban. I've seen to it personally." Percy said. "That leaves McAnthony and Smith at the Estate. I get a faint trace on each of their wands near the property boundaries on the west side, likely just within the wards. I never saw any activity from Lucius Malfoy's wand, nor have I yet to see any signs of use from Madam Malfoy's. But, I just saw a very faint trace on Draco's wand from the center of a lake a hundred miles north of here. I can only hope he's swimming and using it to cast warming charms on himself. Hestia and my father took Aurors Cresby and Hannon to go get him by broom."
Harry couldn't believe what he was hearing. He was truly frightened for Draco. But as soon as he'd registered that thought, the horrible fear for Hermione and Narcissa crept back in. Not to mention that Ron and Neville had not yet returned with Luna. It hadn't really been long enough for them to be back, but he was anxious nonetheless. He looked around at the group of friends he stood with, and had a flash of reflection on how very differently this crisis was playing itself out… and how he was not the only one who could end the drama. But when he looked at Severus, he saw a truth in the older wizard's eyes that nearly made his stomach sink into the floor.
"Lest we have forgotten who we are dealing with," Severus said in a low, tormented voice, "Rabastan Lestrange is notorious for taking pleasure in the violation of women. Gentlemen, please be prepared for the worst, and comport yourselves with even more care and respect than you would normally employ when you do encounter any of the ladies in peril."
Harry's stomach clenched horribly. He looked off to the side to get himself centered again. This added a gruesome dimension to the dreadful possibilities of the events in progress, and the aftermath that would follow. He couldn't look at Severus, because he'd start to cry if he did. He suspected Severus needed the distance as well.
"Understood," Kingsley was saying when Harry returned to the present. "We will stay in the same pairs. Percy, who have you assigned to assist us?"
"I've got Conklin, Warner, Bethesda, and Dickenson on site at the periphery of the estate, south side, and two additional duo teams on standby," Percy replied.
"If we do not find both Hermione and Narcissa at this estate, let it stand now that whomever has rescued a victim will bring her back here with his partner's assistance. Shoot red sparks into the air for a ten second interval. Once the estate is contained, the others are to prepare for the next operation, and reconvene on the north side of the property for instructions."

Harry popped softly onto a grassy knoll that overlooked a massive estate that he could only see because he knew the magical address. Severus popped into view a couple of feet away. Night had fallen over an hour ago, and they at least had the cover of darkness as they felt for wards. Harry cast a silent homenum revelio to feel confident they were in the clear of the wrong sort of wizardkind. A series of pops sounded quietly in the surrounding area, as Percy, Bill, George, and Lee apparated to the scene. They fanned out, each team assessing the wards, which they would still need to bypass.
Harry stuck close to Severus, knowing he wouldn't be much help after they'd found a thinner section of magic, where they could begin the long task of dismantling. Severus and Bill were likely to be the ones to pull that off, but Harry knew himself well enough at this point to realize he'd soak up what he witnessed and learn his own version of it after tonight. He knew that Kingsley had the other auror team doing the same thing on the south side of the grounds. That team had specifically trained for just such an occasion, but they all knew this was a very old estate, and it could still contain very ancient warding that would read like gobbledegook to those who were attempting to unravel it.

"It's bloody freezing out here!" Hestia yelled to Arthur as they flew low over the water of the huge Loche, searching for Draco.
They were not yet close enough for a point me spell to be effective, but Arthur continuously cast it, so that there would be no missing the young blond wizard. Arthur glanced at the other two aurors, pleased to see their intense focus and grim determination. There was no reason to think Draco could survive so much time in this frigid water, but he was not prepared to give up. And he was certainly not prepared to bring Lucius Malfoy's only son home as a corpse.

After they'd been at it for about an hour, Harry heard a hiss of triumph coming from Bill and shortly repeated by Severus. They'd broken through! From that point, the dismantling was a rapid exercise and within a few short minutes, Harry was crouching as he ran onto the property, again fanning out, but pairing with Severus as they approached the main building that was the manor itself. Harry followed Severus to a door, which appeared to open outward from the kitchen. Severus cast a charm that produced a small apparition, which appeared to show the human inhabitants of the room beyond the door. There was a red human-shaped blur moving away from them towards another doorway that led further inside the house. Severus pointed at it, and then at himself, eyebrows raised in question. Harry nodded quickly.
Harry pointed his wand at the door and cast a silencing charm, and then an alohomora. The door swung open as Harry stepped behind Severus and followed him into the house. His vision was blocked, but he had a pretty good idea of what the brisk slash of Severus' wand yielded when he heard a grunt, and the muted sound of someone hitting the floor beneath another silencing charm.
"Point me, Narcissa," Severus whispered.
"Point me, Hermione," Harry whispered.
Severus' wand immediately reacted, but Harry's remained still, so he squelched the horrible dread beneath the tight and sore muscles of his abdomen, and followed his newer father figure through the doorway and into a dimly lit hallway.

"He's nearby!" Arthur yelled to the others as his wand began to dance urgently in his hand. The others each cast lumos engorgios to shine a large swath of light over the lake's choppy black surface. Arthur searched frantically, scanning his eyes back and forth, back and forth. Finally, he spotted a blond head submerged below the water and his stomach plummeted. "He's there!"
All four dove low and formed a hovering circle around the teen, while Arthur lay on the broom and stretched his arms down into the freezing cold water until he got his hands under Draco's armpits. Hestia cast a levitation charm to help Arthur pull Draco upward. The boy's face was colorless and his lips were blue, but he was breathing. Miraculously.
"There we go, Draco, not to worry, son," Arthur narrated kindly as he managed to seat the barely conscious Draco in front of him on the broom. Hestia cast multiple drying and heating charms over the teen, after which Arthur wrapped an arm around Draco's torso and pulled him back into his chest for stability and warmth while they flew. "Let's go!" he yelled, leading them at a pace that would have impressed even Harry Potter, let alone the rest of his children.

"Hey, who's that?" A voice yelled from ahead of Severus, and a spell flashed toward them both.
Harry deflected, Severus cast a vicious magical thump of energy that propelled along the open space directly back to their aggressor, and bashed him way, way down the long hall and into a mirror, which shattered in a massive symphony of tinkling, splintered glass.
"Shite," Severus cursed. Too late to hide themselves, he led Harry through a door that opened into a bedroom suite with a jack-and-jill bathroom, which opened to another bedroom. Through that, they exited into a hall that intersected with the original, but Severus' wand continued to direct them, so they raced down that hall, all the while hearing scrambling footsteps and alarmed voices from all directions of the massive interior. Curses were being exchanged as other teams gained entry to the huge house. Harry followed Severus to another door, which led them into a vast study that was lined with bookshelves, and filled with large, heavy pieces of furniture.
Harry cast his own point me, Narcissa and now both of their wands tugged them toward the center bookshelves. Severus and Harry both searched for a hidden opening among the books.
"It's bloody Severus Snape!" A sneering voice announced from the doorway. Harry recognized the voice as ex-auror Smith.
Severus shot a curse over his shoulder without even looking at the other wizard, and nearly took him out. Harry could only wonder, who ever told Severus he wasn't cool? as he moved around to have his back to Severus' and engage Smith while Severus continued to attempt to locate the hidden door. Smith climbed back to his feet and stood glaring at Harry for a long moment. Harry ran out of patience and cast his magical shove with enough force to blow Smith out of sight, somewhere into the hallway.
Severus pulled Harry several paces away from the bookshelves and began to magically hurl the books away from the center shelves to reveal the bare walls behind them. The books flew frantically, landing heavily and piling themselves in a pyramid that blocked the doorway Smith had just disappeared through. Harry knew it was only a matter of seconds before someone blasted those books right back at them. He could hear angry voices collecting in the hallway.
"Why can't we get to the door?" Harry asked anxiously. He turned to find Severus waving and swishing his wand frantically, attempting countless jixes and charms to force the secret door to reveal itself. "Maybe a well-placed bombarda?" Harry suggested. "Umbridge managed to get into the Room of Requirement with one in fifth year."
Severus turned to have a look at Harry, eyebrow raised while he contemplated. He repeated the charm that produced the apparition of what lay beyond the wall and they could see a woman's body on the ground, appearing to be a significant distance from this wall.
Harry refused to think about the fact that the body was still. "We could injure her," he said softly.
"Enough of this," Severus said angrily. He turned slightly and cast his bombarda at an angle that would hurl the debris away from Narcissa as it blast through the wall.
The resounding BOOM! was nothing short of spectacular, as was the size of the hole in the wall. They raced through, and Harry immediately saw that Narcissa was indeed not moving, her clothes torn, her body battered.
"Watch our backs!" Severus instructed, rushing to her and kneeling to gather her in his arms.
Harry saw red as it registered yet again that these bloody animals were using their own pathetic fury at losing the war to fuel their cruelty towards the people he loved. He saw shadows of approaching figures dancing near the opening from the blast, and stood, waiting for someone to give him a reason. A set of three deadly hexes came through the opening, but they all went in the same direction the blast had gone. A foot, followed by a leg, stepped into the room, until finally the full figure of ex-auror McAnthony was in view and already casting a very powerful dismemberment hex directly at Harry. Harry caught it in the open void and couldn't help the fact that his blasting hex broke McAnthony's wand arm. At least I didn't vandalize his bloody wand, Harry seethed inwardly. He shot a pulse of magic at McAnthony's feet next, which swiped his legs roughly to the side and the ex-auror was on the floor a fraction of a second later, just in time to trip another wizard who was charging into the room too quickly to check his momentum. Now Harry imitated Severus' hogtying jinx from the graveyard for the second wizard, followed by a lashio on McAnthony, which made the ex-auror bellow in discomfort.
One to go, Harry thought, waiting with eyes glued to the opening in the wall.
"This way, Harry!" Severus called.
Harry cast a quick glance over his shoulder and saw that Severus was carrying the unconscious Narcissa towards a door farther beyond where she'd been lying. There was another, now fading, apparition briefly showing a stairwell leading to open land beyond. Harry took one look back at the felled wizards, and a step to follow Severus, and then….
Harry was flying backward, the blast stunning him enough that he was barely able to cushion his landing. From where he was sprawled on the ground, he saw Severus prop Narcissa upon a leg he'd braced on the stair, his wand arm now free to whip around as he twisted at the waist, and cast a spell that wrapped the third assailant up in what appeared to be duct tape, leaving only a small opening for his nose.
Harry scrambled to his feet and launched himself after Severus who was already running up the stairs with Narcissa. They raced out into the dark evening. Harry shot up a series of red sparks and turned to find Narcissa had awoken and had her face buried in Severus' neck, arms wrapped tightly around his neck, as she quietly begged him for something Harry couldn't hear.
"Return to the school," Severus said softly to Harry. "Tell Lucius that I'll be along with his wife in moments. Tell him only what you've seen." Severus' eyes filled. "The rest is hers to tell."
Harry's eyes filled too and he swiped at the first tear as he nodded and disapparated to the back stoop at Grimmauld Place.

"Lucius?" Harry called softly. He was unable to stop his eyes from filling and angrily swiped at them, trying desperately to hold it together for his pseudo guardian.
Lucius opened his eyes and looked Harry over. "Alright, Harry?" he asked gently. He knew the boy had news, and also knew he'd been through far too much strain today for it to not negatively impact his health. "You've got some cuts. You look like you're in pain, my lad."
Harry looked down at himself and realized he was coated in dust from the blast. He quickly cast a scourgify and then stepped closer to Lucius, taking the older wizard's hand. "We've got Narcissa," he whispered. "She's safe and maybe- ...maybe hurt, but she was alive and talking. Severus has her. She was in a really dirty room, like a basement. Severus said he'd bring her along in a moment." Harry looked anxiously at Lucius and saw the brutal truth hit the man. Harry squeezed his hand. "She'll be okay."
Lucius nodded and looked away for a moment before returning caring eyes to Harry. "Come, Harry, put your head here," he pulled his hand free from Harry's and tapped his own shoulder, then held the arm out so he could wrap it around Harry. "Stretch out," he directed as Harry lay beside him, head on the man's shoulder, deeply comforted by the close contact, and struggling to contain the wretched sobs that wanted to consume him. "Good lad." Lucius kissed his temple and squeezed him. "We've got Draco back as well. He'll be ill for a time, but he'll live."
"I want to go see him, too," Harry said.
"He's going to be in a magical sleep for several days," Lucius told him painfully. "He depleted his magic, trying to stay warm in the water all of that time." When Harry began to sob into his neck, Lucius moved his hand up to card through the boy's hair. "I know, son."
Harry pulled himself together quickly. This wasn't over. Hermione was still missing. He relished the closeness for a few minutes longer, and was falling into an exhausted sleep when he heard Narcissa's voice saying, "Hello, darling," at the same time as strong arms were turning him, and picking him up from the bed. Harry opened his heavy lids for a brief moment when Narcissa kissed his cheek as she squeezed by to get to Lucius.
It barely registered to Harry that he was being carried by Severus as he blearily watched Narcissa run her hand over Lucius' shorn hair and lean down to kiss her husband's lips. He'd never seen them kiss before, he realized dully. He could read the depth of their love for each other in that gesture, and a rush of relieved warmth spread through him as his eyes tried to roll up into his head.
"Here, Severus," Minerva was saying as she did something Harry could not see from behind his closed eyes. He heard the curtains slide and assumed he was about to be put into a bed. But that was not the case. Severus sat with Harry on his lap, and leaned back into a large, cushy armchair so that Harry could relax against his chest, head pressed under Severus' chin. The arm that had supported his legs now wrapped around his upper body and Harry was safe in a strong cocoon of comfort as he slipped into oblivion.
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