Harry watched the briefing from the back. He and Shacklebolt had snuck in and listened to Filmier give out assignments. Even though they weren’t going, Shacklebolt had wanted to keep The Order informed as to what was going to happen. The plan was not terribly complex, but it still had too many factors that could go horribly wrong.
“Team one will enter from the right, Team two through the back,” Filmier said, “Teams three and four will spread out around the manor while Team five stays in reserve here just outside the boundary. Should any of you run into Voldemort send up a green signal and we’ll be there in a flash. Understood?”
He paused while he saw nods all around.
“One more thing before we head out. Should any of you come into contact with a group called The Order or The Order of the Phoenix,” he paused, “capture or detain them. I will not have renegades operating while I’m in charge.”
The room was silent and Harry gave Shacklebolt a significant look. Never has The Order ever been regarded in that way.
“Clear?” Filmier said and got nods, “Good let’s go and good luck.”
The room emptied quickly with Harry and Shacklebolt leaving first. They headed straight to an empty office.
“I’ll need to inform McGonagall and The Order as to Filmier’s orders,” Shacklebolt said the moment the door closed, “We’ll need to be discrete.”
“Ron?” Harry suggested.
“Perhaps,” Shacklebolt paused thinking, “I’ll go. There’s no other way,” he looked hard at Harry, “But you have to promise me to stay here and not go with them.”
Harry nodded, “Ok.”
Shacklebolt gave Harry small smile and left the office. Harry waited a few moments before apparating back to Grimwauld Place.
“Oh Harry Potter, sir,” came Dobby’s voice from the living room. The house elf was cleaning when Harry appeared, “Dobby apologizes most profusely for the state of the house. Dobby is cleaning.”
Harry smiled, “No problem Dobby, I’m just passing through anyway.”
He turned and left the house elf at the base of the stairs. He took two steps at a time and raced into his room. He threw open the bureau and grabbed his Invisibility cloak. He closed the bureau and raced down the steps. He didn’t have much time.
He apparated to the neighborhood where the Malfoy’s lived. It was in an upper class area with houses that were more like castles than homes. Harry put on his cloak and raced towards Malfoy Manor. Harry turned a corner and stopped. The battle had already begun. He started running again and hit the ground as an explosion went off near the manor.
He looked up and saw a thick cloud of black smoke coming from the back area. He also heard a lot of shouting and screaming. He picked himself up off the ground and quickly proceeded through the gate and onto the grounds.
It was hell.
Spells were being sent in every direction from both the Aurors and those in the house. Harry jumped over a body of a dead Auror and dived behind a dead tree stump to avoid an errant spell. He peaked over and saw the majority of the fighting was taking place near the back. It wasn’t this bad when dementors attacked Hogwarts the year before.
He looked and saw a bright green flash of light from an upper window. Harry knew an Unforgivable had been used. A shrill scream from his right turned Harry’s head. His heart stopped and his stomach went into his shoes as a figure with long brown hair was hit by a spell and collapsed on the ground.
“Oh my God!”
“Shhhhhhh!” Charlie Weasley hissed, “Tonks you can be a little loud. Remember what Kingsley said.”
Tonks nodded and stepped over a body of an Auror, “This was a slaughter.”
Charlie grunted and looked at the ruin around him. The manor was half destroyed and many bodies of Aurors and what appeared to be Death Eaters were scattered throughout the grounds. Both Charlie and Tonks knew something had gone terribly wrong with this raid.
“Moody and McGonagall must be going nuts right now,” Tonks said from behind him.
Shacklebolt had come to The Order with McGonagall shortly after he had left the Ministry. He had told The Order members about the raid and Filmier’s orders regarding The Order and its members. McGonagall was taken aback and a little upset about that. The Order was now reduced to doing all their action in secret, which would be very limiting.
Charlie stopped and looked around again. He jerked his head back and saw a lone figure kneeling over a body of girl. He recognized the figure immediately.
“Harry?” he called out and the two quickly headed to where Harry was.
Harry looked and saw Charlie and Tonks approach and stood. Tonks stopped and looked at the body on the ground and back to Harry. She gasped when she saw the body and knelt down to look.
“That’s Beverly Hondrew,” she said, “She was in my Aurors class,” she looked at Harry, “Did you know her?”
Harry shook his head, “I thought she was Hermione.”
“But she’s not here, is she?” Tonks asked.
Harry shook his head, “No, but I didn’t know for sure.”
“Harry, why are you here? I thought Kingsley told you to wait at The Ministry?” Charlie asked sounding a little upset with Harry.
“I needed to be here,” he replied, “I needed to make sure Voldemort wasn’t here.”
“You should leave soon Harry, before Kingsley or McGonagall see you,” Tonks said, “I’m sure they’d be very put out if they see you here.”
“They’ll get over it,” Harry muttered and started walking towards the manor.
“Harry wait,” Tonks said, “Where are you going?”
“To search the manor,” Harry replied, “It may have some clues I need.”
Tonks grabbed Harry by the elbow and stopped him,
“Wait. What are talking about? Why are you disobeying us?”
Harry’s anger suddenly erupted, “I’m not a kid anymore! Leave me alone!”
Harry jerked his arm away from her and started towards the manor. Charlie and Tonks ran after him.
“Harry what the Hell’s wrong with you?” Tonks asked now sounding angry, “We don’t deserve getting snapped at like that.”
“Too bad,” Harry said and kept walking.
Tonks raced ahead and stood in Harry’s path stopping him before he could enter the building, “What’s going on with you? You’ve really changed. You’re not the same boy I remember.”
Harry looked at her without emotion for several moments before stepping around her and entering the manor, “I’m not the boy you remembered.”
He let his eyes adjust to the darkness before stepping in farther. The house was dark and smelled of burnt wood. Harry looked and saw more bodies of Aurors and Death Eaters in the house. The furniture was broken apart and there were scorch marks on the walls from spells that had missed their targets.
He looked through every room and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. He walked into what must have been Draco’s room. It was furnished with what looked like expensive furnishings and paintings. Harry was drawn to one painting of Salazar Slytherin. Harry stood and looked at the painting for several minutes before resuming his search.
He wasn’t sure what he was looking for, but he was sure he would know. He heard the sounds of footsteps and familiar voices downstairs and knew McGonagall had arrived. Harry ignored them and continued his search. He looked in Narcissa’s room and found nothing.
His last stop was the library upstairs. The room was nearly destroyed when he entered. The piano was nothing more than kindling. The walls of books were scorched, burned and strewn throughout the room. He walked around the edge slowly taking in as much as he could. He stopped in front of a bookcase that was devoid of every book save one. He leaned in a read the title.The Black Family
Harry looked at the book and reached out to grab it. It wouldn’t move. He pulled with all his might and it still didn’t move. A sudden thought hit him and he pushed the book inwards. There was a soft click and a small section of the bookcase next to him opened to reveal a small alcove not much bigger than a safe.
Harry reached in a pulled out the only item that was there. It was a small leather bound book. Harry opened it to the first page a saw dated handwritten entries. Harry looked at the inner cover and saw a little scrap of paper. He pulled it out and opened it. It read:
Found this. It’s your cousin’s.
Harry folded the paper and placed it back inside the cover. He put the journal in his robes and pushed the book on the shelf closing the alcove. He shivered despite the heat in the house. He turned and walked out of the library and almost ran into McGonagall.
“Oh, Mr. Potter!” she said placing her hand on her chest in surprise, “You startled me.”
“Harry? What are you doing here?” came the angry voice of Kingsley Shacklebolt as he climbed the stairs, “I thought you said you’d stay at The Ministry?”
“I just wan…,” he started.
“You promised me you’d stay put!”
McGonagall raised her hand to silence both men, “I’m sure Mr. Potter kept himself out of harm’s way.”
McGonagall gazed at him with no expression on her face, “Why did you come here?”
“To make sure Voldemort wasn’t here.”
McGonagall nodded, not taking her eyes off him, “I see.”
“I’ll leave now,” Harry said.
“Go straight home and stay there,” Shacklebolt said, “I’ll deal with you in the morning.”
Harry left without a word and walked to the end of the drive. He apparated to Grimwauld Place and entered the house. He found Ron had beaten him home and was anxiously pacing the living room.
Ron turned on him, “Oh there you are! Are you ok?” Ron said looking his friend up and down for injuries, “What happened? Did they find him?”
Harry smiled, “I’m fine. I wasn’t part of the raid.”
“How’d it go?”
Harry shook his head, “Ron most of the Aurors are dead.”
Ron’s face went pale and he sat down, “Dead?”
“Hermione!” Ron stood quickly in a panic.
Harry grabbed him, “She’s fine. She wasn’t there.”
Ron’s breathing returned to normal after several seconds and he sat back down.
“How’d it happen?” Ron asked.
Harry’s face became like stone, “I’m not sure. It almost seemed too easy in the briefing. Something just doesn’t add up Ron.”
“What do you mean?” Ron asked.
“I saw the battle,” he said his mind drifting back to a few hours ago, “It almost seemed set-up.”
Ron’s eyes widened in shock and his eyebrows shot up, “A set-up? Why?”
Harry shook his head, “I don’t know, but something doesn’t fit.”
He reached into his robes and pulled out the journal he’d taken.
Ron looked at it curiously, “What’s that?”
Harry opened it, “It’s a journal that the Malfoy’s were keeping. The note in here says that Snape found it.”
Ron’s eyebrows went up, “Was that written by You-know-who?”
Harry looked at the journal skeptically, “I don’t think so.”
“That’s what I’m going to find out,” Harry whispered.