Chapter 16: Rescue & Release
Chapter 16 - Rescue & Release
She had left him! She had left him to an unknown fate at the hands of the death eaters! After all they had gone through...she had just abandoned him!
A loud wail came out of her mouth as she hugged her stomach and cried into the cold wind. She did not hear the distant cries of surprise and the hurried footsteps that approached her with concern.
Hermione actually knew what was happening to her as she gasped for breath on her knees in front of a petrified looking Mrs. Weasley who was desperately trying to both help her and to get any information as to her present state.
She knew she was in some state of shock and that it was perfectly normal considering what she had just gone through. Her body was trying to shut down to preserve itself but she could not let that happen. She had to get back to him and she had to stay in control! She deliberately took a few deep calming breaths and tried to get some words out to the worried looking lady in front of her holding her hands.
"Ron...Death Eaters...they have him..." she took another deep breath.
"No time...have to...get back..."
Her stuttered words galvanized Mrs. Weasley into action as she dragged her up into a quick hug before helping her inside. She was placed gently on the sitting room sofa and covered in a warm blanket as Molly Weasley went about summoning her husband and all her children back to the Burrow. As Hermione sipped a hot cup of tea, she tried to calm herself and prepare for Harry but her mind kept slipping back to Ron and she had to resist the irrational temptation to run outside and return to the mansion. Where was Harry!
Harry finally appeared with a hurried stride inside the sitting room with three other Aurors at his side. Bill and Fleur, Charlie and Percy as well as Mr. Weasley also appeared into the now crowded room. Harry dropped in front of her with concern on his face.
"Are you ok? What happened Hermione? When I got your message I thought something had happened at the Burrow. Mrs. Weasley tells me that Ron is being held by Death Eaters." he questioned.
Not to waste another second, Hermione cleared her head and told Harry the whole story starting from her abduction from Ron's flat, the planned trap set by the Death Eaters, their fight at the mansion and then her narrow escape and landing at the Burrow. As she finished her tale she grabbed his arm anxiously.
"We have to go back Harry! I left him alone! We have to return now before they do anything to him...please Harry." she sobbed out.
Mrs. Weasley also let out a sudden cry and slumped into her husband who had a pained expression on his face at the news. The rest of the family exploded into a mix of cries of outrage and a general agreement to follow her suggestion.
Harry stared at her for a few seconds before turning to one of the Aurors at his side.
"Send two men to Ron's flat and make sure that if anyone shows up, they are not to leave...and send for Langley and as many men you can to meet here...they have five minutes...move!" he ordered before glancing back at her with an expression she knew all too well. Catching the Death Eaters was the primary objective!
Hermione felt the fear build inside her. She should have expected this. It was Harry after all. She jumped up from the couch and stood defiantly in front of him. All traces of her earlier shock seemed to leave her.
"Harry?...what are you planning? Ron is in danger! We have to go back now! I swear Harry if you do not plan to return this instant then I will go by myself!" she clutched at his robes and gave him a frightful glare.
Harry did not look surprised at her reaction and his face softened as he took her small hands and pulled her back down to sit on the sofa. He continued to hold her hands as he looked at her. The tears were already gathered in her brown eyes.
"Hermione...I understand how you feel...It's not your fault, you did the right thing. I am as much to blame as I should have ordered protective wards around the flat as soon as I knew you and Ron...might be...in and out of there on some regular basis." he said the last part softly obviously trying to avoid her any further discomfort in front of everyone.
"We are going back Hermione but please listen to me." he said softly again but clearly to her. He took a second to glance at the Weasley family members before continuing.
"The Death Eaters have not released the location where they are supposedly holding Ron as yet. That is part of their plan. If we go now they will know that something has gone wrong. Two things can happen. They will attack us right away in their numbers...or they will abandon their plans altogether and leave without us having a chance to apprehend them..." Hermione interrupted him quickly.
"But if they leave then Ron will still have a chance..." she stopped when Harry shook his head.
"They will certainly kill him before they leave Hermione. He is their only witness...please...think about it." he pleaded.
"That is...if he is still alive." the Auror standing behind the sofa added harshly.
Hermione spun around in a rage at the speaker and barely registered the fact that the comment came from Scott Anson her former...whatever. She hadn't even realised that he had entered into the room with Harry.
"You shut your mouth!...do you hear me!...he is alive!..." she blazed at him. "He is still alive...he's not..." she trailed off into a soft sob. "He's still alive..."
Auror Scott Anson appeared surprisingly affected by her outburst and her sudden collapse.
"I'm sorry Hermi...Miss. Granger. I didn't mean to upset you...I'm truly sorry but Harry is right. We have to wait and plan this properly if we are to have a chance to save him and catch the Death Eaters." he apologized.
The sound of many more people arriving outside attracted their attention as Harry hurried over to meet with the head of the Auror Department after summoning Bill and Percy. They spoke quickly and quietly at the door entrance for a few minutes before Harry re-entered the sitting room again. He spoke to all in the room.
"Ok this is how it's going to go down. It's now almost 5:00pm. They jumped the gun a bit to our benefit as we just received the supposedly secret location where they are holding Ron. They must be just waiting for the Death Eaters to bring Hermione to the location before they announce their capture and their demands. We are not going to wait any longer." he said definitively as he looked at Hermione.
"The plan is simple. We go in two groups. The first group will be small and will consists of myself, Scott and three other Aurors. Bill and Percy will also be going disguised as aurors, with different coloured hair of course as luckily they are the best charm breakers we have. According to Ron there are not going to be many guards for us to take out. Bill and Percy will then enter the mansion and proceed to take down the anti-apparation charms while I delay outside. Bill thinks it shouldn't take more than a few minutes for them to complete their task. We don't think they will attack until I enter the building. When the charms are down, we will all enter the building and as soon as the attack begins and before the building falls, we will all apparate out behind them with the second group now joining in. Bill and Percy will apparate out with Ron to a safe location to be attended to by the healers. If all goes well, we can squash this uprising once and for all and be on our way to a more peaceful future...any questions?" he ended.
"I'm coming with you." Hermione stated without hesitation or a hint of doubt. She stared at Harry and spoke again before he could interject.
"They will just think that you probably called me before I went to Ron's flat. I can fight as well as any of you and I can help with pulling down the anti apparation charms if needed, plus they will not want to pass on the chance to get both of us." she reasoned. "This is not debatable Harry...I am coming with you." she said with a tone that was meant for only Harry.
He returned her stare for a moment before nodding.
"Fine. You just stay close to me and apparate out with Bill and Percy. The first group leaves in two minutes with the second following soon after to take concealment positions around the mansion." he ordered as he walked out.
Hermione just had the time to gather herself and to collect some first aid items from Mrs. Weasley before Ginny came rushing up to her in a teary state.
"Hermione...please take care of yourself and..." she choked up as she gave her a quick hug.
"Don't worry Ginny I will bring both of them back I promise." she answered then hurried outside to join the small group carrying her small bag on her shoulder.
The first group of eight landed silently on the far side of the grounds hidden among a small group of trees. There were two guards stationed outside the open gap in the front of the building but there appeared to be no other death eaters around. Harry and the other Aurors apparated halfway across the grounds shooting spells as they landed and quickly disarmed the surprised guards.
As the rest of the group caught up, Hermione immediately made to run across to the building when Harry shot out his hand to restrain her. She fought against him and it may have appeared a bit comical to those watching with the famous duo now involved in a tugging match in the middle of the grounds.
"Hermione will you wait a second!" Harry hissed into her ear. "We have to appear to be cautious and they have to see us clearly. I know it's hard but hold off." he softened.
Harry continued to walk with her at the front of the group clearly showing themselves as they slowly crossed the low cut grounds cautiously approaching the front wall of the building which was half destroyed. It felt like an eternity to Hermione. She had no idea if the man she loved was still inside and even so if he was still alive. She bit down on her lip and held on to Harry to keep from sprinting ahead.
As they neared the opening she started to panic as there appeared to be no sign of him until she suddenly spotted him lying face down off to the side of the broken staircase. There was a small pool of blood on the floor by his chest and she immediately let out a gasp as Harry tightened his grip on her hand. Bill and Percy passed them and entered the building both looking shaken as they also spotted Ron lying on the floor. She knew it must have taken a lot of control on their part not to approach him immediately. The two wizard brothers quickly set about to break down the anti apparation charms as Hermione finally broke away from Harry and rushed to Ron's side.
No! No. He can't be...he can't... Her heart was pounding as she fell to the ground beside him.
She gently turned him over looking desperately for some signs of life in him. His face was ghastly pale and his eye was still swollen but...he was breathing very shallow...she could even hear him. She let out a small sob as her heartbeat returned in her chest but she quickly set about to examine him in more detail. He had a deep cut on his shoulder that was still bleeding and one high up on his leg that she could not see well. She knew that some of his ribs were broken but she preferred the healers to see about those. She raised her wand and muttered the spells to reduce the swelling on his face before healing the various bruises and the large cut on his shoulder.
She moved to his leg and decided to tear open his jeans to get a better view of the injury. She used her wand to rip open the material and bent to examine the wound.
"If you wanted to get in my pants all you had to do was ask." she heard a weak chuckle above her.
She snapped her head up to see him with a small smile on his beautiful face and she immediately launched herself at him wrapping her arms around his neck as she kissed wherever she could reach. When he flinched with pain under her she immediately jumped off him as her face heated up.
"Oh sorry. I'm just so overjoyed at seeing you here alive with me...I promise I will make it up to you later..." she said coyly.
When she looked at him she immediately felt something wrong in his expression but before she could ask him he was already staring at the other two men in the room.
"If I didn't know better, I would swear that was Bill and Percy." he ventured a guess.
Just then she heard the impatient voice of Harry echoing through the room.
"Bill!...what the hell is taking you two so long! We don't have any time! I can practically feel them out there!" he cried.
"We're trying as fast as we can Harry. There was a protection charm placed over the apparation block so we had to break that first. Just a few more minutes..." Bill answered as he continued to concentrate through his sweat covered face. Percy's face was red with effort next to him.
'We don't have a few more min..." Harrys' voice was drowned by the sound of multiple blasting spells striking against the walls of the building. Harry and the other aurors rushed inside as the spells continued around the mansion.
"We're stuck in here! Cast your protection shields!" shouted Harry "Bill...get that bloody charm down now!"
"We're trying! we're trying!" came the loud response.
Hermione jumped when she heard Ron shout beside her.
"Get to the middle of the building under the open roof!...that's the safest place!...Go Hermione!"
"I am not leaving you again Ronald Weasley!" she shouted over the noise of the blasting spells as she placed a protective shield over the two of them.
The occupants of the threatened building were now clustered in the centre of the room except for Ron and Hermione who were stuck next to the staircase at the back. The walls were now caving in and the roof above the huddled couple seemed on the verge of collapse. Hermione concentrated on making her shield as powerful as possible but was not sure if it could hold up against the sizable force of the roof falling from such a height. She held on to Ron's hand and poured all her strength into her magic.
There was a loud crack and the back wall exploded against the stairs as the roof finally broke away and came hurling down towards them.
"It's done!.. Go!...Go! everyone now!" she heard Bill's shout as she closed her eyes and concentrated.
They apparated out of the building as the roof and walls came crashing down onto the cold hard floor in a cloud of dust and rubble.
They landed heavily on a field set aside for the healers camp and were soon being attended to by a number of healers. Bill and Percy were being treated for minor scratches and Ron was now being looked after by a team crowded around him on a make shift table. She was pulled away from him by a female healer who examined her and tended to her few bruises. She suddenly felt exhausted but moved back to his side as the healers finished their preliminary work.
"Is he going to be all right?" she asked the nearest one.
"He'll be fine Miss. He's been pretty banged up by a number of nasty spells and he had a few broken ribs which we have fixed but all he needs is some rest and he should fully recover. We are taking him over to St. Mungo's to run some further tests but you don't have to worry." he said warmly.
Bill and Percy now joined her as they all stood by his side. He turned to them with a weak smile.
"You two gits. Always waiting for the last moment for effect. That was a little too close...but well done." he said softly.
"Hey we were always on top of it right Perce? Never a doubt. Besides we couldn't let Hermione down could we? She seems to be strangely attached to you for some ungodly reason." Bill joked as he patted her shoulder.
She thanked both of the standing brothers before they moved away knowingly. She turned back to Ron and took his hand in hers.
"Are you ok?" he asked examining her with his eyes from top to bottom. She actually felt herself blush at this.
"I'm fine Ron. It's you who needs to rest. I'm just glad you're well. You had a long day and you must be tired." she said.
"We both had a long day..." he said quietly as she saw the strange expression of earlier return to his face. "I knew you would return with Harry even though I hoped you would stay at the Burrow. You shouldn't have to put yourself in danger for me...but thanks for pulling me out of there." he finished as he squeezed her hand.
"Don't say that Ron...I love you...and you would have done the same for me I know that." she told him sincerely although she was a bit worried by his tone.
"Where's Harry? Did they get all the slimy bastards?" he suddenly asked.
With all her concern for Ron, she had temporarily forgotten that Harry was fighting a battle across the fields not far from where she was standing . She momentarily considered returning to the mansion to see what had transpired but the healers had returned to make final preparations to take him to the hospital and she knew her place was to remain at his side.
She was about to follow after him when Harry suddenly appeared next to her looking tired but satisfied in his robes that was now singed and torn at the edges. It was evident that he had come through a long and hard battle but she felt relieved to see him in one piece.
"Harry! are you ok? How did it go?" she asked as she quickly looked him over. He gave her a tired smile but it was a smile nevertheless.
"Fine. They put up a fight but in the end we caught the lot. Thanks to you and Ron, the Ministry can announce that they have made the largest single arrest of Death Eaters since the end of the war. This will go a long way in alleviating the fear and anxiety among the wizard world...How is Ron by the way?" he asked with concern on his face.
"He's a bit knocked up but they said he will be fine once he gets some rest." she answered. "I'm on the way to the hospital to see him now. Will you be coming later? I'm sure Ginny would like to see you." she ended hopefully.
The tired look on Harrys' face lifted slightly as he hesitated for a fraction.
"I just came to check on our men who were injured but I guess I can swing by after." he smiled brightly.
"Well I'll see you in a while." she smiled back at him knowingly as she apparated out to the hospital.
The moment she arrived she knew there was a problem. The shrill voice of Ginny Weasley carried over the crowded waiting room.
"What do you mean you don't know?...Well then get someone down here who knows! I can't believe you people! After all this time and you still don't have a clear policy!" her voice was approaching a scream.
Hermione rushed up to her side as she now noticed that Ron's bed was still parked in the corridor. He was sleeping soundly thanks to the potions administered by the healers in the field.
"Ginny what's the problem? and why is Ron still out here?" she inquired of her friend as she cast her eyes over the sleeping redhead.
"The problem is the same damn one we've always had with Ron and St. Mungos. They don't seem to have a definite policy for admitting someone like him." she sighed while still glaring at the woman on the other side of the counter.
It took Hermione two seconds to understand the situation and another second for her anger to rise up to her head. She whirled around at the same woman sitting across from Ginny.
"Are you saying that this hospital will not admit the son of a wizard family just because he does not possess magical abilities? Is that the policy of this hospital?" she asked cuttingly trying to keep her anger in check.
The woman took on an uncomfortable look and appeared immensely relieved when a man who looked like her supervisor came up to the counter. He immediately recognized the bushy haired witch glaring at him and sought to appease her.
"Hello Miss Granger. My name is Lester Penfold and I am the supervisor on this floor. I'm sorry for the misunderstanding and delay. It's just that the hospital board has not given us any clear guidelines on the admittance of someone who is...like Mr. Weasley here." he said with a degree of embarrassment.
"Well he has just been involved with the Ministry in the apprehension of wanted Death Eaters and I would like him settled and taken care of immediately before the head of the Auror department arrives and finds him lying in the corridor." she ordered hotly.
The supervisor hesitated momentarily before taking the paperwork from the hapless woman next to him.
"I apologize again Miss. Granger. He will be looked after with our best care immediately." he assured her as the staff now hurriedly wheeled Ron into the ward.
"I guess being a famous war hero does have its advantages. And I like the part about the Head Auror coming to visit. Brilliant!" Ginny snickered.
"Well Harry will be coming...he's not Head Auror yet but he's just as influential." she grinned back.
Despite their light banter Hermione could not forget the less than fair treatment that was handed out earlier by the hospital to Ron. She still could not believe that there was no clear direction given for the admittance of someone like him at this present time. Someone like him. Urg... It sounded horrible that way. He was simply a squib. Someone born into a wizard family without magical powers. That was all. Why was he to be treated so differently? Someone should be championing this cause. Someone should be fighting against this...and all other injustices. Someone should be pushing for change and for better laws and policies...someone like...
Her sudden deep reflection was interrupted by the familiar voice of Harry behind her. She turned around to see him greet Ginny with a hug and a quick kiss. She was right. Ginny sure looked happy to see him and she smiled in the knowledge that her best friend also seemed immensely glad to be in the company of the red haired beauty. The rest of the Weasleys had also appeared in their numbers and it warmed her heart to know that whatever Ron had to go through, his family would always be with him. She was the new one among them but no one loved him more than she did, no one could ever care about him more than she did and no one could move her from his side.
She quickly assured them that Ron was fine and all he needed was rest to fully recover. Harry also quickly recounted the events of the battle and apprehension of the death eaters interspaced with commentary from Bill and Percy. Ron's parents appeared extremely proud when Harry informed them that the Ministry owed a great debt to three of their sons for their roles in the operation and in keeping himself and the other aurors safe.
As they discussed the evening's events, one of the healers returned to the waiting room to inform them that Ron was awake and would be allowed visitors for a short while before being given another dose of sleeping potions.
Hermione remained outside with Harry as his family went inside to see him. Harry placed his hand gently on her arm as he looked at her.
"So how are you? I know you had a rough day so how are you holding up?" he asked.
"We've been through worse before...ok not as worse...but I'm fine Harry. Ron is good so I'm good." she told him as he nodded in understanding.
"You should get some rest Hermione. We still have to debrief Ron when he's able so you should go back to Hogwarts and get some sleep. I've ordered the protection wards at the flat in Sunbury but they won't be up until tomorrow...I'm really sorry about that Hermione...I should have thought about that earlier." he said a little guiltily.
"It's as much my fault Harry. I just got caught up in the...you know...and I guess the thought of death eaters attacking us seemed so far away. I just got a bit...distracted." she smiled at him.
"Hermione Granger getting distracted over a guy...hmmm...never thought I would see the day." he smirked. She gave his arm a little slap as she laughed.
"Stop teasing. I never thought I would see the day either if you should know. I really love him Harry...more than I could ever think possible. We just have to be more careful in the future that's all." she said seriously.
"Well I'm really glad for you and I do believe that after this haul today, you and Ron and a bunch of other people can go about their business feeling a whole lot safer. Me and our department will continue to work on it but I think today we made a great big leap forward to ridding this world of the bad guys Hermione." he reassured her.
"Thanks Harry. I know you will." she gave him quick hug just as the Weasleys returned to the waiting room.
"You better get in there before he comes out after you." Ginny grinned at her. Hermione returned the smile before hurrying in to Ron's room.
He was lying with his eyes closed wearing a small frown on his face when she saw him. Considering what he had gone through in the last few hours he looked remarkably fresh and wonderful to her. She approached him quietly.
"Hey." she greeted him softly.
His eyes flew open and he turned to her with a small smile.
"Hey you." he answered slowly.
She was next to him now and she could see his blue eyes. They were staring back at her but something was off. She has sensed it earlier but maybe it was just tiredness on his part.
"You look good...considering..." she smiled. He raked his eyes over her as she felt herself blush under his gaze.
"You look great yourself...even with my blood all over your jacket and bits of an old building in your hair." he said quietly. Before she could laugh properly he held her hand gently in his.
"I missed you." he said simply and she could no longer contain herself.
She threw herself at him and buried her face in his chest. She held him tightly in her arms as if he would disappear from her sight.
"Oh Ron. I missed you too...I was going mad when I left...I'm so happy you're all right...I don't want to ever leave you again." she cried into his neck. She knew she must be hurting him by her position on top of him but he gave no indication that she was and so she stayed with his arms now around her. She felt safe and warm and not in the least inclined to move away from him.
He didn't respond right away to her babbling but held her quietly against him for a few minutes. She felt herself drifting into a peaceful sleep. His voice was low and filled with...something she couldn't tell...when he finally spoke above her.
"Hermione?" he started.
"Mmmm." she answered.
"I love you...more than anything in the world...and I would do anything to keep you safe...because I love you. I want you to know that." he said in the same low voice she couldn't identify.
But his words made her feel even safer where she was lying and she snuggled even closer to him.
"I know love...and I would do the same." she replied sleepily.
The next few seconds flew silently by as she again drifted off.
"Hermione? You have to wake up. You have to go home." his sweet voice filled her head.
"Nnnn. I'm staying right here with you. I'm never leaving you again remember?" she muttered into his chest.
The sound of a door opening and footsteps approaching made her open her eyes. A female healer glared openly at her.
"Miss Granger you have to let the patient sleep. I'm afraid we cannot allow you to stay overnight especially as you are not immediate family." she said formally.
She reluctantly raised herself from him as she looked up. He was quietly staring back at her. Before she could question him, he pulled her into a long and loving kiss that made her respond with all the love she could give him despite the presence of the healer by their side. He finally pulled away and nodded to the healer.
"You have to go Hermione. You must be exhausted. Go back to Hogwarts and get some rest." he told her.
She finally stood and cleared her head. She was really tired.
"OK I'll go but I'll see you tomorrow morning Ron. You get a good night's sleep. I love you." she said as she reached over to gave him a last kiss.
"I love you too Hermione...more than anything...please remember that." he said as he gave her hand a last squeeze before letting go.
She smiled at him before the healer ushered her from the room in a hurry.
As she made her way back to the waiting room to meet Harry and Ginny she suddenly realized that she had completely forgotten to tell Ron the good news about the their plan to keep the Hogwarts project going. She would make sure to tell him first thing in the morning to start his day off on a good note.
Hermione apparated outside St. Mungos with Ginny early the next morning. She had decided to spend the night at the Burrow as she could not bear the thought of being alone plus the fact that Ginny had practically begged her to stay after Harry left.
They hurried into the now familiar waiting room and were proceeding to the recovery rooms directly when she heard her name being called over the surprisingly crowded room. It appeared that their ploy of bypassing the check-in desk had been caught out. She turned reluctantly to the same unhelpful woman of the day before.
"Miss Granger I'm glad I caught you. I have something to give you." she said with a smug look.
The now smiling woman opened a drawer next to her and handed her a sealed envelope with her name on the front. Hermione frowned as she accepted the sealed parchment and was about to ask the obvious question when the woman addressed her knowingly.
"It's from Mr. Ron Weasley. He specifically asked that you get this as soon as you came." she said quickly.
Hermione glanced down at the envelope in her hand as her heart stopped beating for a second.
"I don't understand...why would he give you..." she stuttered.
"Mr. Weasley checked himself out early this morning. We could not hold him against his will any longer Miss Granger." she filled in eagerly.
Her heart rate was now at full speed and beating loudly in her chest as she slowly opened the envelope and unfolded the note to her.
Please do not be angry with me but I have to get away for a while to clear my head and think clearly without you near me. It's the only way I can make the right decision for us.
Please do not hate me. I love you and I always will. I meant everything I ever said about you...and us. There is nothing I want more than for us to be together but recent events have made me realise that I didn't think this through completely. I have been up all night with these thoughts and I just need to leave before you come to visit me again because I know if I see you I will not be able to make any rational decision.
Please believe what I said last night. I would do anything to keep you safe because I love you with all my heart and with all of my being.
Do not try to find me. I will contact you when I am in more control of myself. Please take care of yourself and please remain safe. I can only function if I know you are well and alive.
Hermione read the words without taking a breath. Her chest constricted to the point of pain as the parchment trembled in her shaking hand.
"No...no Ron...no please.." she sobbed out the words unconsciously as her tears spilled onto the paper.
Ginny moved next to her and read the letter over her shoulder.
"The stupid moron...I could kill him..." she hissed into her ear.
Hermione fell into Ginny's arms sobbing uncontrollably as the tear stained piece of parchment fell from her hand and fluttered to the sterile floor.