• Chapter 3

     

    Chapter 3:  For Love’s Sake

     

     

    It was nearly eleven o’clock in the morning. Hermione, Ginny and Gabrielle were in the garden of The Burrow.

    “They should be back any moment now, if everything was fine”, said Hermione. “I’ve told them we’ll meet them here at this point which I’ve marked with a circle for them.”

    Then suddenly Harry appeared from thin air in front of them, with a tiny “Pop”, as if by magic.

    “Congratulations, Harry ! Where’s Ron ? Hasn’t he got it ?” asked Hermione, looking very concerned.

    “Yes, he has, he was near me when I Apparated”, replied Harry.

    Then with a tiny “Pop” Ron materialized too, about fifteen yards away.

    “I’ve got it ! I’ve got it !”, Ron shouted at the top of his voice, running towards them. “I’ve had both my eyebrows”. He then pulled a small pocket mirror out of his jean: “I took it from Mum’s handbag this morning, to check if I would have all my eyebrows ! At King’s Cross, I was quite far from the head of the train, where I should have landed. The examiner noted it on my paper, but he said it didn’t matter much; I was still in the acceptable boundaries.”

    “Wonderful !’ said Hermione, kissing Harry and Ron on the cheek by way of congratulations.

    Ginny and Gabrielle imitated her. The familiar garden flower scent filled Harry’s lungs and his heart started beating so loudly that he feared the others would hear it. He then tried a diversion looking in the opposite direction of Ginny, to hide his emotion:

    “At the Ministry, when the clerk looked for my test sheet, I saw Malfoy’s one on top of mine. When I returned my sheet, I still saw Malfoy’s on the desk, intact, clean, no stamp, no mark on it at all. He hasn’t come for the test.”

    “Well done for him”, said Ron, clearly very glad of the news.

    “At what time does the wedding ceremony start ?”, asked Harry, just to have something to say.

    “At four o’clock”, replied Gabrielle in her small and timid voice, “but the guests will be there by three o’clock”.

    “It was boiling hot at King’s Cross, I’ll go and freshen up”, said Harry, and they all returned to the house.

     

    ***

     

    The elves had worked wonders. The garden was practically unrecognisable. No more wellington boots scattered around the garden, no more heaps of dead leaves and branches; the hens were in their enclosure. The lawns, freshly mowed, were like a green velvet carpet that stretched far away. Here and there, some flowering bushes in pastel colours contributed, like the last painting touches, to make the whole scene a masterpiece. At the end of the garden, in front of the row of thousand-year-old poplars, a platform was erected, lined with flowerbeds. Garlands, hung above the platform under the branches, completed the decoration, and gave the impression that one was facing a fairy’s cave.

    Two rows of chairs in semi circle faced the platform.  Harry counted the chairs. No, there wouldn’t be too many people. The members of the families from both sides, bride and groom, would occupy about twenty chairs, then there would only be about twenty guests: some members of the Order, some colleagues of Bill and Mr Weasley, one or two friends of Fred and George. Ron had invited Neville, a school friend, who would come with her grandmother, and Luna Lovegood, a friend of Ginny, who would come with his father. Harry was glad to get to know Mr Lovegood, the editor of the Quibbler, who, two years ago, had agreed to publish his interview by Rita Skeeter, on Voldemort’s return, when nobody, including the Ministry, wanted  to believe him.

    Still lost in his thoughts, Harry saw Hermione from the kitchen door, as she stately walked out in her diaphanous ash mauve coloured dress that moulded her adolescent body harmoniously. She was like an apparition that emerged from the blue agapanthus bushes behind her. A timid smile in the corner of her small mouth gave her a specific expression of her own.  She was even more beautiful than at the Yull Ball of the Triwizard Tournament, three years ago, Harry thought.

    “You are very beautiful, Hermione !” Harry blurted out.

    “Thank you !”, Hermione replied … “I thought Ron was with you” she added to dispel the heavy atmosphere, conscious of her beauty and of its effects.

    “No !,” replied Harry, glad to be back down to earth. “I’ve been here for nearly a quarter of an hour.  Ron had just got out of his bath when I came down.  But he won’t be long, I think … I wonder whether Percy would be there. It’s his brother’s wedding, isn’t it ?”

    “I don’t know…. As far as I’m aware of, there was a present from Percy and Bill said he wouldn’t open it ! It’s sad ! Don’t you think so ?”

    “Yes, but if Percy sent him a gift, that means he’s trying to make the first steps. It would be better to give him a chance to redeem himself   !”

    Their conversation was interrupted by the general arrival of guests by Apparition. Neville and his grandmother, Luna and her father, some members of the Order: McGonagall, the new Headmistress of Hogwarts, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Mad-eye Moody, Hagrid … Ron chose that moment to come too. And the friends of the Dumbledore’s Army were glad to meet again and they went to take their seats in the corner, on the second row, so that they could discuss quietly amongst themselves. Mr Weasley and Charlie received the guests and led them to their seats. Tonks arrived hand in hand with Lupin. She looked radiant with her bright chewing-gum-pink coloured hair artistically twisted into a bun and a few stray locks floating in the wind. Lupin, very smart in his brand new black robe, smiled widely in the direction of Harry’s group.

    Bill, dressed in black Muggle style, with a red-wine coloured robe thrown over his jacket, and with a serious expression on his face, had just reached the foot of the platform with Mrs Weasley. He still showed traces of the bites by Greyback, a dreadful werewolf, smooth and pale scars on his suntanned face. He had lost a bit of his right eyebrow ! Harry thought that a micro aesthetic surgery in a Muggle hospital could certainly remove the scars, or at least make them less visible. But fortunately, his feature was still beautiful, and his profile intact.

    McGonagall was on the platform, looking serious. She was going to unite the bride and groom in Dumbledore’s place.

    At that moment, the wedding music was heard from somewhere in the air, unreal, and … from the kitchen door, Fleur, held by the arm by her father, walked out stately in her long, tight, pearly white low cut dress. A twisted string of pearls was dropping to the bottom of her breasts, and the famous goblin-made tiara of great auntie Muriel sat gracefully on her hair.  People might say that Venus had just come back to life. Behind her, Ginny and Gabrielle, in misty pale-yellow dresses with a pastel coloured floral crown on their heads and a posy in their hands, processed in Fleur’s wake, slightly shy, conscious of their role and of the guests’ scrutiny. Ginny’s flaming red hair melted away in the sunrays that succeeded in breaking through the dense poplar foliage.  Harry thought that Ginny was lovely, simply lovely and his heart started beating so rapidly that he had to press his hand on his chest to calm it down. ‘No, I should absolutely forget her’ he thought.

    When he got to the foot of the platform, Mr Delacour placed Fleur’s hand in Bill’s stretched one, then the bride and groom went up the platform. After Professor McGonagall had pronounced the ritual phrases for the circumstances, she said:

    “I declare you husband and wife. You may kiss !”

    Booming applause burst out from the gathering. And multicoloured confetti rained down on everyone from the branches. There was a total euphoria.

    Suddenly, Dobby appeared in front of Harry.

    “Mr Potter ! The Death Eaters are everywhere in the bushes !”

    Harry jumped onto the platform and cried to the whole gathering:

    “THE  DEATH  EATERS !”

    Then he Apparated into Ron’s room, wrapped himself in his Invisibility Cloak. He then Apparated back into the garden, where a merciless and disorderly battle started doing damages. Bill and Fleur, with the tiara in one hand and the wand in the other, sided together facing Greyback who shouted to another Death Eater:

    “The red haired girl ! Quick !”

    Harry understood at once what that meant. Ginny was on the platform, behind Mr Weasley. He jumped onto the platform, took off his Invisibility Cloak and wrapped Ginny in it:

    “Quick here, Ginny !”, and he Apparated, with Ginny in his arms, to Diagon Alley in front of Fred’s and George’s shop.

    “Jump up to the attic, and stay there”, said Harry in a firm tone. “Wrap yourself in the cloak and don’t make any noise. I have to return to The Burrow to help the others, and don’t try to stop me.  You’ve heard what they said; it’s you they want. It’s Voldemort who wants to get to me through you. And I’m not yet ready to face him.  I have things to do first before I can confront him.”

    Then Harry Apparated back to The Burrow where the battle was still fierce. Bill and Lupin were lying one on top of the other in a pool of blood, visibly badly hurt or perhaps already dead. At the foot of the platform, Fleur facing Greyback, was in a very difficult situation, for the werewolf trapped her between an upturned table and the platform where Bill and Lupin were lying, which blocked every escape for Fleur.

    Greyback cried: “AVA…”

    Harry aimed at Greyback and cast in a clear and firm voice “Sectumsempra”. Blood spurted from Greyback’s face and chest as though he had been slashed with an invisible sword.  He staggered backwards and collapsed onto the steps of the platform.

    Fleur gave him the final stroke: “Avada Kedavra”, her face was twisted with rage.

    There were about thirty Death Eaters.  They formed small groups to fight against the guests. Nevile’s grandmother, in spite of her advanced age, revealed herself to be a dreadful witch. Ron and Luna sided together against a Death Eater. Harry succeeded an ‘anti-apparition’’ curse with a smooth swing of his wand which nailed the Death Eater down on the ground tied up from head to foot in a rope, with his wand dropped near him. Harry picked it up and launched it back to him after smashing it into two. Mr Weasley pursued a Death Eater up to the middle of the garden, but the Death Eater succeeded in Disapparating, narrowly escaping an ‘Incarceration’ curse cast by Mr Weasley. Then suddenly, the blow of a whistle was heard and the Death Eaters beat a hasty retreat and Disapparated all.

    Fleur dropped down over Bill and burst into tears:

    “I’ve taken revenge for you, my darling!” Fleur cried in a sob. Harry knelt down near her, felt Bill’s pulse, which was still beating, though weakly.

    “He is only wounded”, said Harry, then he removed Bill aside to examine Lupin. “He also is only wounded.  We must take them quickly to St Mungo’s Hospital, we may still save them”.

    Tonks came running from the other end of the garden where she pursued a Death Eater. She knelt down near Harry, took Lupin’s hand, and wept silently.

    “Bill !”, let out Mrs Weasley in a sob.

    It was urgent to take Bill and Lupin to St Mungo’s. They then agreed that Mr Weasley, Charlie, Tonks and Fleur would accompany Bill and Lupin to the hospital.

    “Where’s Ginny ?” cried out Mrs Weasley, panic stricken, suddenly realizing that her unique girl was nowhere.

    “She is safe” replied Harry,  “I’ve taken her and hidden her in the attic on Fred’s and George’s shop”.

    Without asking for more explanation she Disapparated, probably to Diagon Alley.

    McGonagall asked Hagrid to keep watch over Greyback and the Death Eater Incarcerated by Harry whom she tied up with more rope with her wand, then she said to Harry:

    “I’ll Apparate with Shacklebolt to the Ministry. On our side, two of us are seriously wounded, and on their side, one dead and one prisoner, is that right ? I’ll come back with someone from the Ministry; they should establish the death of Greyback and take away the prisoner”. Then she Disapparated with  Shacklebolt.

    Night was falling. Timidly the moon, nearly full, appeared at the horizon on a crepuscular reddish sky. The guests began to take leave.

    “Good bye, Mr Potter”, said Mr Lovegood. “You were brilliant.  I’ve seen you Incarcerate the Death Eater, with a smooth swing of your wand, without any effort.  You must have a high level magical power to succeed the curses in that way.  I thought I was seeing the movement of Dumbledore’s hand.  I am glad to know you.  But now I must leave. If I have a chance, I could relate what happened here in the evening edition.”

    “Please, don’t mention my name”, Harry begged. “The least people hear about me, the better for me.”

    “I understand you. Don’t be worried, Mr Potter.” Then he grasped Luna’s arm and Disapparated with her.

    At that moment Mrs Weasley appeared from thin air with Ginny in the garden. Ginny broke free from her mother’s grip, ran to Harry and gave him a big hug.

    “No, Ginny”, Harry succeeded in saying so and in getting free from Ginny’s embrace. Then with a firm voice, he went on: “We should absolutely keep our distance, and you must understand that. I have things to do before I could confront Voldemort. But if he succeeded in having you and forced me to face him, I could not leave you, and it would mean my death certainly. And then my death wouldn’t be useful, neither to you, nor to me, nor to anyone, but to Voldemort.”

    “Yes, Ginny,” Ron reinforced, “You should listen to Harry. I’m your brother, I love you very much, but Harry is right”.

    Ginny dropped her arms, ran to the house, and locked herself in her room. No one saw her again during the evening, Hermione brought up her dinner in her room.

     

    Not long before midnight, Mr Weasley, Tonks and Fleur came back from St Mungo’s. Bill and Lupin were out of danger. The healers had succeeded in closing the wounds, which were very deep, and stopping the bleeding, but they were still very weak, they had lost a lot of blood.  They were in the same room, and Charlie stayed with them.

    Fleur, with the tiara in her hand, her wedding dress speckled with blood and mud, with confetti still in her hairs, completely exhausted, dropped herself in an armchair. Tonks, in rags, came to the window and looked onto the garden, which was flooded in the silvery moonlight.

    Mrs Weasley came and sat near her new daughter-in-law, took the tiara from her, and patted gently on her shoulders:

    “My dear, we should think that we have been very lucky. Harry has succeeded in hiding Ginny in Diagon Alley.  Bill and Lupin will be all right in a few days, and Greyback is dead. You avenged Bill, haven’t you realized it ?”

    “It was Harry who saved me. My retreat was blocked. I was looking for a way to escape. Greyback was already mid-way in his incantation of Avada Kedavra when Harry seriously wounded him. He collapsed at my feet”, said Fleur. “And in my fury, I gave him the last stroke, I thought Bill was dead. I used the killing curse, the worst of the three Unforgivable ones. I am a killer !” added Fleur in a tone of deepest despair.

    “Half our family already owes their life to Harry”, replied Mrs Weasley. “Arthur, Ginny, Ron and now my daughter-in-law” added Mrs Weasley.

    “You were right in killing him”, let out Tonks from the window. “You’ve avenged Lupin for me too.  It was Greyback who had bitten Lupin when he was a kid. He deserves the Avada Kedavra a thousand times, and all our community will thank you for that.”

    “Tonks ! Stay here this night. Charlie’s room is vacant, Winky can get it ready for you within five seconds, and tomorrow we could go together to St Mungo’s before the Order’s meeting.”

    “No, thank you”, replied Tonks. “I’ll go home and and get myself freshened up. Good night everybody !”

    She went out and Disapparated before the kitchen door.

     

    When Harry, Ron and Hermione were alone in Ron’s room, Harry confided to his friends:

    “I’ve taken a decision. McGonagall said that Hogwarts would be opened again. I will go back to school. (Hermione let out a sigh of relief) But I will wear the Invisibility Cloak all the time. Only you two will know that, and McGonagall too, because I’ll have to tell her in order to organise how I would sleep and eat and so on… Nobody else will know, Ron, nobody else, neither Ginny, nor anybody, OK ? I’ve the feeling that the castle still holds some secrets we do not know, and you two will be there, I can’t do without you.”

    They went on discussing for a long time, and when Hermione bade them “good night” to go to bed, it was already two o’clock in the morning.  But Harry could not sleep. He stayed in his bed, looking through the open window at the small square of dark ink sky dotted with stars in the silvery moonlight.  How would he destroy Voldemort ? Would he use the killing curse and then feel remorse later as Fleur did ? It was a question he asked himself many times but had found no answer.

    A loud snore came from Ron’s bed breaking the flow of Harry’s thoughts in their course and the idea that Ron and Hermione would always be there with him gave him a taste of wild flower perfumed honey in the back of his throat. On this comforting picture of friendship and with a smile on his lips, Harry finally let himself sink into Morpheus’ embrace. The dark ink sky was already turning into a pale blue one by the first dawn glimmers.

     

    ***


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