Sent Him Forth
A/N: Disclaimer, spoilers, author’s notes, etc., are at the beginning of chapter 1.
Harry frowned. “Alcester? How do we get there? I’ve never been near the area.”
Hermione pursed her lips in thought. “Once it gets dark, I’ll side-along apparate you there. Then we both come back here and side-along apparate Ron and Ginny. Then we start searching. I’ve got a map of the area ready to use.”
“Of course you do,” Ron said.
Ginny said, “Fine. We need to eat first, and we need to make sure we have everything ready.”
Hermione said, “Everyone needs Muggle clothing, but we may need our robes too.”
Ron asked, “Do you have our brooms?” Hermione just glared at him. “Sorry! Sorry! Just asking!”
Ginny didn’t get a chance to do much kitchen work, because Kreacher was already preparing a hearty beef stew and a fruit salad. So she just ate with the others. So far, Kreacher hadn’t said anything about her eating at least as much as Ron and Hermione put together.
Once they were done and dressed in Muggle clothing with dark coats, Hermione led them to the entryway. She stepped onto the top step outside, took Harry by the arm, and disapparated.
Ginny looked at Ron and said, “I wish I was old enough to do this legally.”
Ron frowned, “With the Ministry the way it is, I doubt they’d ever give you a license.”
She frowned back at him. “But we’re purebloods. They’d have to treat us like the others. Wouldn’t they?”
He shook his head. “I don’t think so. We’re blood traitors. We’re the family who backed Harry Potter. We’re the enemy to pretty much every Death Eater and probably most of the Ministry now. I’m just surprised they haven’t fired dad yet.”
She said, “Maybe they’ll decide to fire Percy instead!”
He laughed and then said, “Doubt we’ll get that lucky. Percy ‘Mister Anti-Potter Suck-up-to-the-Minister’ Weasley? They’ll probably make him the official Head of the Weasleys one of these days.”
Harry popped back onto the top step. He hastily stepped inside, and Hermione apparated onto the top step. She looked at Ron and asked, “Ready?” He just stepped forward. She took his arm, and they disapparated.
Harry led Ginny out onto the top step and took the time to lock the front door. Then they apparated to Alcester.
Ginny tried to ignore the pressure and discomfort of side-along apparation, and instead she tried to concentrate on Harry’s hand.
They apparated only a few feet from Ron and Hermione. They were standing in the darkness on a small village green not far from some brightly lit shops and restaurants. Plenty of Muggles were going into the restaurants and walking about.
Ron said, “For a place with lots of ‘gang violence’ it seems pretty safe.”
Ginny closed her eyes and tried to sense anything unusual. “No vampires close by, anyway.”
Hermione tossed Harry’s cloak over herself as she knelt down. She hissed, “Just give me time to do the spell.”
Harry was standing casually, like he belonged there. Ginny tried to do the same thing. Ron was looking about like he had seldom seen anything like it. She knew they didn’t get out in the Muggle world all that much, but the least he could do was to try to act like a Muggle.
It took Hermione about five minutes. Ginny ignored Ron’s complaints that the place was ‘pitch black’ since she could see just fine. Hermione stood up and handed Ginny the cloak. Then she said, “There aren’t any vampires in town right now, which seems extremely odd to me. There’s a cluster north of here at what might be an old Muggle manor. The map isn’t detailed enough for me to tell. Then there’s a lot of vampires southeast of the town and all moving in the same direction. East down a road. So something’s going on, but I don’t know what.”
Ron asked, “Cluster holding still, or cluster on the move?”
Hermione said, “The still one. That might be their stronghold, but right now there are a lot fewer vampires there. And if we take out their stronghold, we have them when they come back just before dawn. We keep them out of the building, and they turn to dust when the morning sun hits them.”
Ginny said, “Okay. I still want to know where the other group is going.”
Hermione said, “We can make someone at the stronghold tell us.”
Ron said, “Works for me. Let’s get moving while there’s only two groups of them to deal with.”
Hermione performed three Disillusionment Charms while Ginny got the cloak in place about herself. Then they mounted their brooms and headed north.
It took about half an hour to fly to the area and spot the manor. Ginny noticed the old roads and wondered how long it would have taken in a Muggle car. But she could see a decrepit old manor rotting away in the midst of a rundown estate that probably hadn’t been mowed in ages. She could see several lights on in some of the ground floor rooms, and when they got close she could feel there were vampires in there.
“Any idea how many?” Hermione whispered.
“More than a few,” Ginny said. She wished she could tell more, but the Slayer senses weren’t a Muggle computer.
Hermione whispered, “Okay, Ginny and Harry. Quick sweep around the house for guards. Behead everything you see.”
Ginny led, since she was the one with the vampire and demon senses. There were two guards on each side of the house: a vampire with a rifle and a demon with a sword. She and Harry silently took care of each pair with swift, silent sectumsempra
curses aimed at the necks.
When they got back to the front of the manor, Hermione was doing another spell. She finally said, “I think there aren’t any more vampires except down in the cellar. That’s the only direction I can get with a locator spell.”
Ginny said, “Let’s go in and see.”
Hermione said, “We stay on broomsticks so we’re quiet.” She waved her wand at the front door in a silent alohomora
, and they flew inside.
Once inside, Ginny could feel the vampires below her. There wasn’t any feeling like that above her or off to the sides. So she was going to assume Hermione was right. They flew slowly through the ground floor until they found the open door leading to the cellar.
Ginny pulled off the cloak and handed it to Hermione, who stuffed it into her pouch. Then Ginny flew stealthily down the stairs.
There was a large room filled with cots and bunk beds and hammocks and a bunch of mattresses spread on the floor. It looked like there was room for maybe sixty people to sleep if they didn’t mind the really crowded quarters. But the room was empty.
They flew across the room to a pair of closed doors. One door was barred on the outside, obviously to keep someone inside. The other door looked like a normal door. She could feel there were no vampires behind the barred door. There were definitely some vampires and maybe a demon behind the second door. She handed her broom to Hermione and swung it open.
Four vampires and two demons were standing around a table that had a map and little figures laid out on it, like a diorama in a museum. All six monsters whirled to face her.
One demon sniffed the air and growled, “Slayer!
She raised her wand and did a perfect silent diffindo
that decapitated it. It tipped over backward and fell to the floor with a crash. “Slayee,” she said. She had no idea where that came from, but it seemed the right thing to say.
She was about to threaten the others to make them talk, but all five leapt at her simultaneously.