Content Harry Potter
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Chapter 41: A Call For Help

Thank you to my Betas; Donalddeutsch, Cateagle and Sparky40sw.

Thank you to Cathy-Ann for the reference map after the original release of chapter 40.   Any geographic inaccuracies are my own fault.

Harry and Bill arrived in the front entry of a flat within a converted town house, ready for a fight for their lives and those of the persons who called for help.   Bill had his wand in the up and ready position while Harry’s was pointed forward and glowing orange at the tip in a menacing fashion, a spell poised on his lips.

The scene that greeted them wasn’t what they expected.   They had thought to find a pitched battle between an innocent family and a group of deatheaters, but what faced them was an empty apartment.   The room they were facing was eerily quiet and nearly peaceful.

Bill and Harry shared a worried look before they took their first step.   Still very cautious, Harry continued to ramp up his power in order to be ready for anything.   When they had moved through the living room and into the hallway in their search for who had called for help, they heard a bit of a soft muffled voice before it was cut off by a booming voice.

"I don’t care how old he is," the voice yelled loud enough to reach the rescuers’ ears, "I will not have a freak in my home!"

This was accentuated with the unmistakable sound of an impact against the wall and painful whimpers.   They heard further commotion as they hurried down the hall.

"Stop it, Daddy!" the juvenile voice pleaded.   "Leave Mommy alone!"

"Shut up, you freak," the mature male voice growled with a sharp tongue, punctuated with the sound of another smack.   "It’s all her fault that you are the freak that you are.   We should’ve drowned you the first time you showed what a freak you were.   But no," he mimicked the silent woman, "‘He is just a boy,’ she said to me.   She made me treat you like I would a normal son.   She reminded me that you were my son and I held it in.   I held in my disgust.   I said nothing!   Nothing!   I thought that, maybe, our love would stave off the unholy power of the demon spawn that has affected you.   But no, you continued to be filled with the blasphemous magic!" he spat.   "We gave you love and learnt you the scriptures.   We gave you every opportunity to leave this vile path of the devil.   Magic is the work of Beelzebub!   I will not have such an unholy thing in my home!"

Harry and Bill rounded the doorway to see a tall thin man towering over two cowering figures, his fists raised in anger.   Harry seethed at the treatment the man was portioning to his own flesh and blood.   Behind his eyes, Harry saw all of the mistreatment he received from his own family and knew that he didn’t want the same to happen to anyone else.   He realized that he couldn’t save everyone.   He didn’t have the power to affect anything but his own little slice of the world, but he was determined to help at least what little he could.

The two wizards moved swiftly to place themselves between the enraged man and his family.   The man’s attention switched swiftly from his son to Bill as his view was blocked.

"Who the hell are you?" he bellowed menacingly.   "How dare you come into my home!   Get out of here or I will call the police!"

"Yes, maybe that is a good idea," Bill said.   "Let’s call the police and tell them what you have been doing to your family tonight.   Your son called for help and we answered."

While Bill was handling the muggle, Harry was kneeling in front of the boy, checking on his wellbeing.

"Bobby," he said, shaking the boy out of his fear.   "Bobby, are you alright?"

The little eleven-year-old boy slowly untucked from his balled up position to see what had happened.   Harry saw fear in his eyes as he quickly looked around.   As his eyes lit on Harry he sighed a breath of relief before his sobs returned full strength.   He launched himself forward and latched onto his savior.

"Mr. Potter," he sobbed, "you came.   Daddy was getting so much worse than normal and he hit mommy and was yelling and angry and I called for help but I didn’t think that you’d come."

Harry held the boy as Bobby sobbed.   "Bobby, it’s allright.   We’re here now," Harry said, "Are you injured?" he asked the scared little firstie.

"N-no," he stuttered, "but he h-hit mommy and she’s hurt.   Can you look at mommy?" he asked with concern.   Harry had known the little boy from his lower year sessions of the DA.   The boy was intelligent and forthright, but the shock of the situation he had come home to and the events of the night had obviously shaken the boy.   Harry was sympathetic as he took in the younger mannerisms Bobby had reverted to.

"Okay, let’s go check on your mum, shall we?" Harry said, soothingly.

Meanwhile, Bill was staring down the tall patriarch, his wand in hand and a stunning spell on his lips.   He stood as a pillar of stone against the enraged man.

"I insist that you leave my home at once!" the man yelled.   "I will not have freaks in my house!   It is an offense against god and I will have none of it."

"It’s natural and it’s what your son is," Bill said through his teeth.   "If you do not calm down and back away, I will be forced to knock you out until this is resolved."

The man started forward, cracking his knuckles threateningly, "You’re welcome to try, magicman," he growled.   "I’ll beat the living tar out of you."

The man took another step forward, raising his fists moments before Bill flicked his wand.   "Stupefy!" Bill cast casually.   Upon contact with the red beam of magic, the tall man collapsed like a marionette with his strings cut.

Harry looked up from his start at examining Bobby’s mum.   Harry saw the casual way Bill had stunned the abusive man and nonchalantly turned his attention to the remainder of the situation, and was impressed at the casual grace that the eldest Weasley son exuded.   Harry raised an eyebrow in question causing a smile to flit across Bill’s lips.

"He was getting too aggressive," Bill calmly stated.   "Leave him alone and he’ll wake up by morning with nothing more than a stiff back to show for it."

"O-o-o-ka-a-ay," Harry agreed hesitantly.   He motioned to the semiconscious woman against the wall and asked, "Can you look her over for me.   I could tell that nothing was life threatening, but I don’t know the medical charms yet so I couldn’t check."

For the next fifteen minutes Bill waved his wand in practice of the healing he had started to learn in seventh year, which had been supplemented during his stay in Egypt without proper access to a healer.   The curse breakers and other Gringotts employees around the world used an informal system of mutual support in healing team members when the need arose.   At each site they managed to end up with a good mix of extracurricular talents that were fostered by coworkers for everyone’s benefit.

"She’ll be fine," Bill said to the comfort of her first year son.   "I’ve healed most of her bruises and cuts.   Just let me wake her up and we can figure this out."

Harry was happy to take a back seat.   Bill was the older wizard and Harry held no illusion that he would know any better on the subject than Bill would.   Sometimes Harry’s youth caught up to him and made him feel overwhelmed.   Walking into the room and seeing the all too familiar results of the situation pulled him back to his time on Privet Drive with too much clarity.

The Belsize Park area of Camden in North London was quiet that evening as a group of people arrived simultaneously and quite suddenly in a side alley that a ministry employee had determined a decade ago would be the best local place for visiting persons to arrive by magical means.   Unfortunately, not all ministry employees were careful in their jobs.   What was once an alley between an apartment building and the Italian restaurant at the end of the street was now a side access to a lush green local park with no cover.   In truth, six years ago the Italian restaurant had burned in a kitchen fire that had rapidly gutted the place, taking its owner in the early morning by inhalation before he could call for assistance.   The man had been a local staple for two decades and the community couldn’t contemplate some copycat taking over and rebuilding the business.   His wife and the community had honored the memory of the man who loved children as the free spirits that they were with the wonderful park and playground on the vacant corner lot where the restaurant once stood.

All of this meant that the first group to arrive found themselves standing beside a well-lit brick wall within easy view of at least six buildings and a large road.

"Well, isn’t this a right bloody cock-up," Charlie exclaimed.   "Seems our apparition maps are a bit out of date, Dad."

"Charlie, language!" corrected his mother.

"They were new last year, Charlie.   Seems someone missed this section in the last survey," Arthur said.   "And listen to your mum, don’t swear."

The Weasley bunch moved from the side alley to the main street in the late evening air in complete cooperation, without a word.

"Any idea where they are?" asked Fred.

"None," said George.

"Anyone?" Percy prompted.

"Arthur," Mrs. Weasley said, "You were always better at this sort of thing."

"I seem to remember you being quite frightful with a wand, Molly," he said with a wide grin.   "Spread out everyone and cast detection spells," Arthur took charge.   "If there’s trouble, we should be able to pinpoint their location by their magic use."

Arthur’s family moved to obey him without question.   The redheads spread up and down the Howitt Road, subtly waving their wands in long ago learned detection spells.   Looking from one to another, Arthur confirmed that they didn’t immediately strike gold.

After several minutes they heard the crack of apparitions from the ‘alley’ that they had arrived in.   On Arthur’s direction, Fred and George went to see who had arrived, cautiously moving far enough apart that they couldn’t be taken out with one spell, yet close enough together to provide cover if the new visitor was hostile.

They breathed a sigh of relief when they recognized the group of people to come around the corner as wizards and witches from the Order of the Phoenix, led by Dumbledore, as resplendent as ever.

"Now, Gred," a twin said.

"Yes, Forge?" the other answered.

"Why didn’t we think of coming in camouflage?" the first asked.

The second sighed and said, "Not all of us have the chutzpah to be as fashionable as our dear headmaster."

"Too right, my brother," the first said, "Too right."

Giggling could be heard floating from the group of hardened fighters for the light.

"If you would like, Messer’s Weasley," the grinning Professor offered, "I could give you the floo address of my tailor."

Fred and George’s laughs were mirrored by several of the order members standing behind the esteemed Headmaster.

"Come now," the headmaster said.   "We must find where Mr. Potter and Mr. Weasley have gotten too.   There is an emergency somewhere around and they need our help."

At Dumbledore’s words, the Order spread out and started their search with the rest of the Weasley’s.   Slowly, Order members ventured into the surrounding buildings in pairs and three’s, wands held inconspicuously but available.

"Arthur," Dumbledore said, "Have you had any indication of magic?"

Arthur Weasley turned from his current task at the road’s edge and addressed the Headmaster.   "Not enough for a location," he said.   "I got a twinge that could have been from a stunner about ten minutes ago and some low level stuff, but nothing that I could find a direction from.   The stunner and the nature of the low level stuff make me think that this wasn’t what we thought it was."

"Really, Arthur?" Dumbledore asked.   "Explain."

"Just that, Albus," Arthur said, "If this had been a Deatheater attack, we would have heard and detected much more.   As it is, with only a stunner, the low level spells could have been healing in nature or possibly some type of warding such as a silencing spell."

Dumbledore seemed to contemplate this.   "Perhaps.   But could the battle have taken place before you had gotten to the scene?"

"If that’s true," said Arthur without worry, "then I’m not too worried.   I have every confidence in both Bill and Harry when it comes to dueling.   I have no doubt that they could each last several minutes in a pitched battle with whatever odds from the deatheaters.   If it actually was a battle, then they have already won.   If it is something else then we will probably not know until they meet us back at the Burrow when they’re done."

"Yes, I see," said the headmaster.   "I believe that you are correct in your assessment.   There are far too many dwellings on this street for a comprehensive search.   We will have to trust in their abilities in this matter."

They both turned when the heard many feet approaching.   Most of the search group had returned with dejected looks of failure on their faces.   The Weasley’s in particular looked worried about their lost brothers.

"Dad," Charlie said from his leading position amongst the returning group, "We didn’t find anything magical that we could trace.   Where are they?"

It had been a long time since his eldest children had left home, at least it seemed like a long time, around six years since Charlie left for Romania.   It amazed Arthur that he was still revered as the leader of the family, even with his eldest away from home.   With as strong of a personality as his wife had, Arthur found that much of his leadership of the family came in his steering his wife from some of the more extreme of her judgments and rants and tempering her reactionary decision making style.   He was the calmer of their voices.

"I think that if we haven’t been able to detect any magic that there hasn’t been a battle on this block," Arthur said in a sure manner.   "It could have been something else that they were crying for help on, besides a Death Eater attack."

"Are we in the right area?" Fred asked.

"Yeah," Charlie said. "Howitt road becomes Glenilla road around the corner. This is it. I saw that much on the apparition map."

"Very good, everyone," Dumbledore said.   "I suggest that we all go back to our evenings.   I have a feeling that Mr. Potter and Mr. Weasley are handling the situation admirably and will return with news as soon as they are finished."

Reluctantly, the crowd of Order members broke up with a few grumbles.

"We’ll have news for everyone at tomorrow night’s meeting," Arthur said.

The Weasley adults and Professor Dumbledore apparated to the Burrow after their long search, ready for a hot cocoa and a comfortable seat.   What they found was some worried teenagers lead by an irate fireball.   It did not take long for Ginny to see that there were no raven locks amongst the sea of red hair.

"Where is he?" she yelled.

This caused a quick halt to the procession of Weasleys and the Professor from the kitchen to the living room.

"Woah, Dragonfly," Charlie said in hopes of cooling the normally irrational female Weasley temper, at least, their temper usually seemed irrational to him.   "Calm down.   I’m sure he is fine."

"Yes, Miss Weasley," Dumbledore said in a soothing tone, "I am sure that we will find both he and Bill to be perfectly all right as soon as they arrive home."

This did not comfort Ginny.

"And you don’t know where he is?" she shrieked.   "How can you not know where he is?"

"Ginevra Weasley," her mother scolded, "You will not address the Headmaster in that tone, young lady."

"Molly, please let me," Arthur said.   "Ginny, we looked around Howitt Road.   We used every magic detection spell we could find.   There was no trace of a battle.   We figured that it was something other than Deatheaters.   It could have been anything else," he said trying to sooth his daughter.

"Or it could have been a trap and he could have been portkeyed away or been knocked out or stunned or he could have lost the fight in the first minutes before you arrived or he could have miscalculated his portkey when he left and he and Bill could be hurt…" Ginny broke off in a fit of sobs.  

She practically collapsed into her father’s comforting arms.   He held his precious daughter as she cried on his shoulder.

"It’s getting late," Arthur said over Ginny’s head, as he guided them both to the long-suffering, plush couch.   "Molly, why don’t you and the rest go to bed?   Ginny and I will wait for the boys to get back," he asked.   "Professor," he addressed the Headmaster.   "Barring any emergencies, we’ll contact you in the morning with news of the night’s events."

Molly looked forlorn at her daughter.   It seemed hard for her not to be the one to comfort Ginny, but sometimes a father was best.   After a quiet goodnight to Professor Dumbledore, followed by his own crack of disapparition, Molly guided her children and Hermione up the stairs to their waiting beds, leaving Arthur with his daughter clinging to his chest with her head buried in his shoulder.   Strange that the last time he had been in this position with Ginny, it had been over the same boy, long before he had ‘noticed’ her at his birthday party.   Her heart had been well wrapped up long before any ‘noticing’ took place on that July day half a year back, and would be for long to come.

Harry and Bill dragged themselves to the Burrow just minutes before midnight.   They arrived without grace in the kitchen of the ramshackle home.   Bill was able to hold his feet well, but Harry was back to his normal self, in a tangle of limbs on the kitchen floor.

Arthur heard the commotion from his stationary position on the living room couch, but was unable to investigate what he knew to be his eldest son and honorary youngest son.

"Ow…blast it," he heard Harry exclaim through the open door.   "Why is it that I’m back to the clumsy bumbling me on portkeys?"

"Harry," Arthur heard Bill say, "Hasn’t anyone ever taught you how to travel by portkey?"

"Well, no," Harry said, "But I did just fine when we went to the apartment earlier."

"But you were ready for battle when we got there," Bill said.   "When you went, you had your feet spread and your center of balance lowered.   You were ready."

"Oh, but…" Harry said.

"And how did you stand for this last trip?" Bill asked.

"Oh, well," Harry said, "I guess that I stood up straight."

"Yeah," Bill said, "I bet that you had your knees straight and locked and your back straight upright."   Bill received a nod from Harry.   "To ride any magical transportation, you have to bend you knees to be ready to absorb the impact.   Floo travel and portkeys both drop you to your feet with a little impact.   If you are not ready for it you’ll be on the ground before you know what happened.   Ride it like you would a full downtown bus.   Stand with your knees bent on the balls of your feet and balanced."

As they talked they walked into the living room quietly.

"Oh, thanks," Harry said.   "Good to know."

Arthur watched them come into his view as the mass on his lap stirred.

"Harry?" Ginny said.

Harry turned to the fiery redhead as she woke up from her teary slumber on her father’s lap.

"Hi, Ginny," he said.   "Sorry to wake you."

Ginny extracted herself from her father’s lap and walked over to her boyfriend.

"Harry," she said, the fire in her voice kindling.   "Don’t you ever go off like that without me again.   You left me at home to worry about you and then the Order comes back without seeing a trace of you where you said you would be.   They searched up and down the street and couldn’t find you.   What happened?   Where have you been the last four hours?"

Harry took the distraught girl into his embrace while Bill told both her and Mr. Weasley what happened that evening.

"When we arrived," Bill said, "We expected a Death Eater attack, but what we found was a quiet apartment.   We found the Brownley family in one of the bedrooms.   The wife was slumped against the wall from being hit by the husband seconds before.   He was ranting about religion and unnaturalness and was calling his son, a first year, a freak."

Ginny noticed that Harry was trembling a bit from the recollection of the events, even encased in her embrace.

"It’s alright, Harry," she said, soothingly.

"Thanks," Harry said to her, "It appears that it was a new occurrence, at least for the first year.   The father said something about her stopping him before."

"I diagnosed and healed their injuries," Bill said, yawning.   "And then we packed up their stuff.   Mrs. Brownley decided that they would go stay with their sister in Manchester until it could all be sorted.   We got all of their stuff out and the presents to under the tree at the sister’s house before returning here."

Arthur stood and placed his hand reassuringly on his son’s shoulder.   "Did the father give you much trouble?"

"No," Bill said, "I had him backed off for a bit, until he forced me to stun him.   He should wake up by morning."

Mr. Weasley embraced his son, saying, "I am proud of both of you.   You did a fine job for that unfortunate mother and son."

Bill hugged his father back and Harry said, "Thank you, Mr. Weasley."

"You’re welcome, Harry," Arthur said.   "Now come.   Let’s go to bed, Bill.   I’m sure that we all would like some rest, and I’m sure that Molly is waiting for an explanation, which I can give her and save you two an early morning."

They left with some good wishes, leaving Harry and Ginny alone in the living room.   Harry guided them to sit on the couch where they would be more comfortable.

"Sorry for worrying you," Harry said with a kiss to Ginny’s forehead.

"It’s alright," she answered.   "Next time, though, you are going to take me with you and save me having to worry."

Harry chuckled.   "I never thought that you would stay here in the first place.   I thought that you would come with your family.   You, Ron and Hermione at least had pendants already and could have identified where the emergency call was from."

Ginny pulled back and looked into his eyes.   "I’m not sure that I could have," she said.   "You’ll have to teach me to use this thing," she said fingering the beautiful necklace.

"No problem," Harry smiled.   "Christmas is in two days and then everyone will have theirs and I’ll teach everyone."

"Good," she said.   She pushed him sideways until he was lying flat against the back of the couch.   She turned and removed his shoes and socks.   Harry looked on curiously, but cooperated when she removed his jumper and t-shirt, leaving him bare-chested.   "Just lie back, Harry," she said.   "You still have some comforting to do after leaving me to worry all evening."

Harry was amused as he watched her putter around.   She put two more logs on the fire and stoked it into a roaring mass.   She nox’d the lights in the lower story of the house, leaving Harry to watch her with a smile in the fire’s glow.   She returned to him with a thick blanket from the linen closet before stripping her own jumper and shoes, leaving her in britches and a t-shirt.   She planted herself on the front of the couch and snuggled into his chest.   With a flick of her arm, the blanket was over them and being wrapped around their intertwined forms.   Harry simply had to embrace his girlfriend, the thought of what would happen when the rest of the house awoke barely niggling at the back of his mind.

Ginny, for her part, felt she could never feel more secure and happy than in his arms.   She and Harry drifted to a happy sleep, a sublime smile on their faces.

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