This is chapter five of Never Underestimate a House-Elf. For chapter one click here.
Summary: What if Harry thought of more than just steak and kidney pie, and called Kreacher to them as soon as he realized Hermione had apparated the trio away from Grimmauld Place? A very different camping trip ensues. Inspired by #WizardTeam and the Time Room
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to the Harry Potter series or franchise. This is all just for fun and to hone my writing skills.
Author’s Note: I’m so sorry this is a couple days late! Things have been so wild around here lately that I completely lost track of time and forgot to put in a reminder to post on Monday. I’ve inserted posting reminders into my schedule now, so hopefully these updates will be on time going forward. 😊 Thanks as always to Transreal_Clouden, and thank YOU lovely readers for all of your comments and kudos! I am a little slow to respond sometimes, but every time I see something come into my inbox it warms my heart.
The trio had been going back and forth for weeks about whether or not they should go home to the Weasley’s for Christmas. On the one hand, they desperately wanted to see everyone. On the other hand, they knew with almost certainty that the Death Eaters would be expecting that, and after the close call in Godric’s Hollow they didn’t want to take any more risks. A few days before the holiday, however, they got news that completely tilted their world on its axis.
They had been eating an early dinner when Kreacher popped into the tent with no small amount of urgency.
“Mr. Harry, I came as soon as I realized, I knew you would want to know immediately,” Kreacher weazed, almost breathless.
“What happened, Kreacher, what’s wrong?” Harry asked with no small amount of alarm.
“It’s the Lovegood girl, your friend. They’ve taken her, she’s being kept in the Malfoy dungeon, with Ollivander.”
The trio looked at each other with wide eyes.
“We’ve got to get her out of there,” Ron said instantly.
“But how?” said Hermione. “We’ve been thinking of how to get poor Ollivander out for months now. But we can’t risk Kreacher’s position. All the same, I can’t stand the thought of both of them down there. There has to be a way…”
Harry tugged at his hair in frustration. “How are they treating her? Is she okay?”
“I don’t think that they are torturing her,” said Kreacher. “She seems to be insurance against her father, and the articles he was writing in the Quibbler. I am sorry I didn’t pick up on their plan any sooner.”
“You couldn’t have known,” Hermione said sympathetically. “Thank you for coming to us as soon as you did.”
Kreacher gave her a nod and something close to an uneasy smile of acknowledgement. Kreacher really had come leaps and bounds with Hermione. With her as evidence, there was no reason for his bias against muggleborns but his inset training, something that he struggled with daily. His long talks with Dobby had helped some, as Dobby had tried to explain to him that muggleborns were wixen just the same as purebloods, and Hermione at least actually cared for house elves, which was more than could be said for most wixen, who cared little for species other than themselves.
The trio went back and forth for quite some time about what was the best thing to do about the situation. Obviously Luna had to be saved, but how? Their first idea was to simply have Kreacher apparate her out of the manor — and truthfully that was their base plan if they thought of nothing better. That said, they hoped they could come up with something better because having Kreacher installed as a spy had been critical in terms of passing information to the order which had saved multiple lives already.
“What about Dobby?” asked Ron, as a lull came in the suggestions they were tossing at one another.
“What about him?” Harry asked.
“Could he apparate into the Malfoy dungeons and get Luna out?” Ron asked Kreacher.
Kreacher paused to think. “Almost certainly. The Malfoy estate is not warded against elves at all, and even if it was, Dobby was previously a Malfoy elf and was not formally expelled. He will most definitely be able to break in.”
“But if it’s elf magic, won’t they suspect you or Milly?” Hermione frowned in concern.
“Kreacher can arrange for us to be visible and have alibis so that the Death Eaters will not suspect our involvement,” Kreacher waved away her concerns. “Mistress Narcissa goes out every few days and always takes Milly. Kreacher and Dobby can make sure the next time this overlaps with when he is with Mistress Bellatrix at the same time. I have been writing her correspondence since her arm was hit with a rotting curse in a battle with the Order.”
“A rotting curse that has lasted this long?” Hermione said incredulously. “Who in the Order would cast something that dark?”
“I don’t know,” Ron mused. “I wouldn’t put it past Bill, he learned a lot in Egypt. There was a lot to be uncovered in those tombs.”
“I still don’t fully understand the urge to uncover the dead,” Hermione shook her head, “I’m all for uncovering lost knowledge, but sometimes things are buried for a reason.” She shivered. “Who knows what chaos is released.”
“Right, well, that spookiness aside, we still have a friend who is being held in a dungeon that needs rescuing,” Harry said impatiently.
“Like I forgot that!” Hermione scowled.
“Oi! Let’s just calm down, yeah? We all want to save Luna,” Ron was surprised as anyone else to find himself the voice of reason. “Kreacher, how soon do you think that Narcissa will leave the manor with Milly?”
“Yule is quite soon, and I do not think she has bought many presents yet. I expect she will leave within the next few days.”
The trio hated to leave Luna for even a day, but as it turned out, they only had to wait a matter of hours. They’d hardly had time to put the bare bones of their plan in place before it was time to enact it. Much to their surprise, Dobby came back with not one escaped prisoner, but two.
NUaHE NUaHE NUaHE
To say that Garrick Ollivander was surprised to find himself in a tent with four teenagers and a house-elf was an understatement. He thought he would never see the outside of a dungeon again. It had been some months since he had ever entertained the thought of an escape. Oh, he had been moved a few times, but that was a simple matter of a portkey from one dark cellar to another, and each time he was nothing but a prisoner. It had only been a matter of time, he thought, before they had no further use for him. The time eventually came when he began to hope for that day.
When he was moved yet again, to what he understood to be the home of the Malfoys, his despair seemed unending. The worst was when he was joined by young Luna Lovegood, who he knew was not even of age, and yet was here with him. He hated that her light and kindness was trapped in this dark place.
It was to his utter shock that less than a day after her arrival the elf appeared, and suddenly he was no longer in a cold basement, but in a warm tent the size of a small flat. Young Harry Potter himself was wrapping a blanket around his shoulders and guiding him to an armchair, before offering him a mug of warm tea, holding it up were his own shaking limbs barely could. Ollivander wondered if this was perhaps a dream, but immediately discounted the idea, because no dream he had ever had under the power of the Dark Lord was this fanciful, or this wonderful.
NUaHE NUaHE NUaHE
The repercussions for the rescue of Luna were negligible. The repercussions for the rescue of Ollivander were not.
Luckily for Kreacher and Milly, house-elf magic was so low on the registrar of what could have permeated the wards of Malfoy Manor that the two of them were barely questioned. The trio and Kreacher almost wondered if they had needed to plan for alibis, but better safe than sorry. Complacent behavior is what was screwing over the Death Eaters — they did not want to let themselves get complacent and get screwed over the same way.
The Malfoys were baffled as to how Ollivander and Luna had escaped, and deduced it must have been someone who already had access to their wards, meaning that one of their fellow Death Eaters, or, more likely, a snatcher who had reported to them and had temporary access that was never revoked, had bypassed the system. In whichever case, they did not find the culprit in time for Voldemort to enact his particular brand of retribution on them, and Voldemort was not forgiving of having lost his access to the wandmaker so soon after having missed Potter by a hair in Godric’s Hollow. His rage saw both Lucius and Wormtail (who were the two at the manor when the prisoners were determined to have been rescued) suffering from the Cruciatus Curse for an extended length of time, Lucius permanently losing all feeling in his left arm.
Bellatrix, who had been away on a mission and returned only after Voldemort had left his impression of displeasure upon the two of them, took a vicious delight in taunting her brother-in-law. His standing was damaging hers, which meant that she had to punch that much harder down upon him, in order to elevate her own status and differentiate herself from him.
“At least I never let that which is most precious to our Lord slip through my grasp and be destroyed, unlike some,” she sneered over breakfast a few days before Yule. “In fact I treasure it, keeping it in my vault, whereas you discarded that was entrusted to you, dropping it in the dirty cauldron of a blood traitor and letting it be destroyed by a half-blood,” she spat “who disgraced you and stole your elf and whose rebellion now stole your prisoners. You disgust me. And you’re the choice from the sister with the good taste,” she sniffed. Lucius grimaced.
“We don’t know that it was Potter who took Ollivander and the girl. I highly doubt he is skilled enough —”
“Oh no doubt he isn’t skilled enough. But unfortunately there are an awful lot of people who would be proper wizards if they didn’t consort with filth who could get through your wards, Lucius, unprotected as they are. You never have been as strong as you claim to be,” Bellatrix sniffed.
“You dare —”
Narcissa was calmly spreading jam across her toast, this being a fairly typical morning. Kreacher continued to listen throughout the argument, but no more information of particular interest was conveyed in the mudslinging contest that was Bellatrix and Lucius arguing over the breakfast table. He decided that the trio would find it very interesting indeed that Bellatrix was so prideful of the contents of her vault. The fact that she compared its contents to the diary, which was a known horcrux, let him know that this was information they should have as soon as possible. Still, he could not jeopardize his cover in any way, and so he went about his duties as usual before finding an opportune moment to slip away and let the others know what he had learned.
NUaHE NUaHE NUaHE
As it turned out, Kreacher was not reporting his news to a trio, but to a quartet.
Ollivander had not stayed with them in the tent. He was an old man, weak from the many months of torture he had suffered at the hands of Voldemort, and so they had sent a covert message to the rest of the Weasleys and the Order, asking if there was a safe place he could lay low. Bill and Fleur had opened their home to him, and the wandmaker was now resting at their cottage by the sea.
Luna, however, had opted to neither return to her father nor Hogwarts, citing both options as being too dangerous, and had elected instead to join the trio on their hunt for horcruxes. The three of them were hesitant at first — partially because Dumbledore had told Harry to only share the mission with Ron and Hermione and partially because of the newness of the added romantic layer of their relationship — but in the end it was Luna . She was their friend, and she had nowhere to go, and she could help them.
The trio’s relationship was different now, but only in that they had voiced what was always there. While there had been a slight increase in physical intimacy, they were for the most part consumed with thoughts of the war, and had less interest in sex and more interest in simply taking comfort in one another’s presence and the fact that they were all still alive. In reality their companionship had yet to change in a particularly tangible way to the outside observer because the three of them had acknowledged the feelings which had always simmered under the surface of their deep friendship. Luna was no mere observer, however, and could tell that something had changed. She wondered if she was perhaps overstaying her welcome by continuing on with them, but where else was there to go?
When Kreacher brought them the news about the location of another horcrux it was news of both joy and dread. Joy, because they had a goal. Dread, because that goal was to rob the most secure bank in the known world.