Chapter 10

Harry was wary and, remembering what they had had to do two years ago, and realising how serious things must be if they had to start doing it again, he called out.

“Mr Weasley, what’s your dearest ambition in life?”

There was a silence of a tense minute and then, “To find out how airplanes stay up!”

Before Harry could reply there was a crash from the living room and Ginny yelled, “It’s all right! It’s Andromeda, she’s just come through the Floo network to help us until Dad gets back.”

Ginny came into the hall and then into the kitchen, followed by a dusty Andromeda whose chocolate brown hair, a lighter shade than her dear sister’s, was looking unkempt. Ginny had obviously told her about Bellatrix because she was fuming as she stormed over to Molly and Ron. She was muttering under her breath and looked like she couldn’t wait for a family reunion.

“But Ginny, your Dad’s back now,” Harry said, gesturing to the door from behind which Mr Weasley’s coughing could be heard.

“Dad was working late today. He told us he wouldn’t be home early,” she said, drawing out her wand, and seeing Harry open his mouth, lowered her voice, “He doesn’t know about Mum, no one’s told him yet. He couldn’t know.”

Leaving Andromeda to fuss over Molly, Ron also got out his wand and joined them at the door. On the other side, whoever it was was getting restless. Footsteps shifted and then the banging resumed.

“Harry? It’s me, I’ve proved it. Let me in! I have to see if Molly’s all right! Open the door!”

Ginny raised her eyebrows and nodded, and then pointed her wand decisively at the centre of the door. Mr Weasley’s voice was hoarse and choking. There was definitely something wrong here.

Harry made a quick decision. He broke the shield and was about to blast the door outwards when the person on the other side beat him to it.

With a flash of violet and red light and the taste of choking smoke, thick in his mouth, and splinters of wood Harry was blown backwards.

He was aware of a body flying past him and the smell of burning, then he lost his senses until he smashed into the stairs. The wood crumpled underneath him, he could hear a terrible screaming, it was Ginny, someone was cackling - everything fuzzy - Mr Weasley crumpled to the floor at the end of the hall, covered in blood, no sound from Mr Weasley or Andromeda.

Then the pain hit him like a curse, blood trickled down his back, down his skull, throbbing, into his eyes, jagged wood had torn his skin open, his tongue wouldn’t work to scream, footsteps were thundering down the stairs above him - Hermione - where was Ron? A warm hand grabbed hold of his and he used his remaining strength to squeeze it, wanting to know that someone was there to help him.

There was a harsh scream not unlike a banshee, of anger, hatred, frustation, despair, clawing at Harry’s ears and he knew she was there, she was coming.

Then the pain grew so intense everything went black and he couldn’t see, feel, hear, nothing.

The End

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