THE BLUE LYON
The effect was immediate and very uncomfortable. Harry felt as if his entire body was being forced though a funnel, becoming progressively smaller and smaller. The sensation seemed to be amplified by the additional number he was guiding. He focused their destination on a location just distant from the dissociated scene he had witnessed. The landing was near perfect. The only exception was Fane, who landed hard and rolled under a low stretch of whin. From the moaning, it was obvious that he had been injured in the landing. No one challenged them and Harry was relived to see the blurred outlines of his other companions scatter and freeze. As each became motionless, they blended in perfectly with their surroundings. Harry tapped his glasses and scanned the area for magic traces. His quick squizz revealed no magic immediately about them.
"Don't underestimate Voldemort. That's a sure way to get someone killed," thought Harry. He extended the range of his search for magic and was rewarded with a view of a green glow emanating from the skeletal remains of several factories a short way off. Harry touched his ring with his wand, headed for a small copse of trees next to the deserted street, and called for Dobby.
The others gathered quickly at Harry's side. Fred and George joined the group last, supporting a moaning Fane. With a whip's crack, Dobby appeared with Myrtle at his side. Harry removed Fane's disillusionment and spoke quickly and quietly, first addressing Fane's injuries. "Fane, what is it?"
Fane, now a sickly green colour, grew even paler as he spoke, "...weird angle of impact when I hit the ground. I think I b-broke my l-leg. I can't put any weight on it without terrible pain."
"I know basic wizard aid," said Harry as he began to review the books he had at disposal in his mind's-eye library. "I can immobilize your leg and I can even mend the break but there is more to healing than just that."
Fane whimpered a bit and then said, "Leisure be yours Harry, give it a try and we'll see if I can walk."
"Fair enough," said Harry pointing his wand at the leg that Fane was favoring. The air around Fane's leg was infused with a pink glow and Fane seemed to relax.
The magic appeared to have worked, until Fane tried to take a step. He fell in a crumpled heap on the ground. Neville and Luna tried to help Fane to his feet but Fane seemed unable to stand. "Either the magic wasn't effective, or my injury is more heinous," whimpered Fane looking imploringly up at the group. "Forfeiting my chance to help is the only course I see. You lot go ahead. I'll watch your backs from here." Fane finished with a pained edge to his voice.
"Your pain is from torn muscles. I don't have the resource or the time to address that problem. You stay here. We are going to be at those abandoned factories just at the crest of the hill." Harry pointed to factories some quarter-mile distant. "Stay disillusioned, I'm not sure whom I can trust, look at my parents and Peter Pettigrew. Keep on the lookout for any Death Eaters. We will come back for you when we are finished."
Harry then turned his attention to the remaining members of the group and set to his instructions. "Voldemort probably expects me to rush headlong into the affray and I won't disappoint him in that. What I do want, is to divide into teams to provide some coordinated back-up support around the factories."
"Ron and Hermione..." Harry started to say before he caught himself. "Hermione," he corrected himself, "you team with George; Fred and Verity you're together; Neville, Luna, and Dobby, you're a team; Myrtle, you and I go together."
No one argued with the assigned divisions, although there were some curious looks exchanged at Harry's choices of partners. Myrtle smiled and giggled. Harry, stone-serious, plunged on, "Myrtle and I will approach straight through the front of the factories. Fred and Verity come in from the left. George and Hermione take the right side. Neville, Luna, and Dobby, I'll have to ask you to compass the factories and come in from the back. No one goes into a building until you get my signal on your D.A. ring. If it goes wrong, I'll make everyone's ring go cold. Fred and George, it will be your D.A. galleons. That's your signal to get out...don't wait, don't hesitate. Don't go to the Weasley's, go to the Dursley's at number four, Privet Drive. Each team has a member who has been there and can disapparate, they are to lead the way. Hermione and George, the two of you will be in charge of retrieving Fane if we have to flee. Wait for exactly two minutes at the Dursley's for all the teams to apparate. After exactly two minutes, even if everyone doesn't show up, head to the Ministry of Magic. Use different routes and plan on being followed. Alert the Ministry and regroup in the lobby. Any questions about the in and out part of the plan?"
No one spoke. "Good," said Harry. "Now let's go over our basic objective. Assuming that the abductors haven't disapparated to another location, we need to get inside the factory that Ginny and Ron have been taken to. Myrtle and I will be responsible for getting in and finding them. The other teams are responsible for finding and disarming any protective magic that might block us from leaving in the event we have to make a hurried exit in your direction. I'll warn the team counting 1, 2, 3, clockwise from the entrance in case we need to escape in your direction. We get in, get Ginny and Ron, and get out. Simple. Easy." Harry smiled. "We can do this. I have faith in all of you. Watch out for each other and remember what you have practiced. We'll go silently up this road until there..." Harry indicated a fork in the road approximately half way to the factories. "That's where we'll split up. Myrtle and I will wait four minutes before we approach from the front. That will give each of the teams a bit of time to get in place."
Dropping to one knee to look Fane in the eye, Harry inquired earnestly, "Are you sure you'll be all right here?"
"Height of health I'm not, but I'll survive. I listened to your feisty plan and I wish I could be of assistance. I hate to be such a big girl's blouse waiting out here while you face danger, but I'll hold to my word," said Fane through gritted teeth.
Harry heard honesty in Fane's words, disillusioned him, and said to the others, "Let's get on with it then, shall we?"
Harry marveled inwardly at the group's courage as they turned and made their way silently toward the looming factories. Fred and George never backed down from anything as far as Harry could recall. Luna and Neville had worked harder than any of the other D.A. members to master difficult magic. Hermione was bang-on at any magic but Harry worried about her emotional state where Ron was involved. Dobby could more than take care of himself. Myrtle couldn't really be hurt, seeing how she was already dead. Verity and Fane were wildcards. Fred and George had vouchsafed for them, but had also confided in Harry, their concern in Fane's lack of drive. The twins spoke highly of Verity but she was really and outsider to this fight. To Harry, they became unknown quantities.
They passed dark hulks of houses with boarded up doors and windows, rattletrap sheds with collapsed roofs, dilapidated fences with gates rusting off the hinges. The rough cobblestone road was littered with trash and debris. The entire area gave the distinct impression of a ghost town.
As the group neared the fork in the road that had been indicated as their separation point, Harry realized he had neglected a couple of critical components. Silently touching each of his disillusioned companions on the shoulder, he dropped to his knee. The group knelt and put their heads together.
Harry whispered, "Do you have your Chocolate Frog cards?" Unseen, everyone except Dobby, Myrtle, and Verity felt for small decks of cards and murmured affirmatively. "Good. We can use Dumbledore to transfer messages if the need arises. It's not a big change in the plan, but I just wish I had thought of it before we left Fane. We could have left him a way to communicate with us. No help for that now; we go on. One more thing, before you go any farther." Harry pulled three invisibility cloaks out of an inside robe pocket, touched each with his wand, and handed one to each team. "You might be needing these."
"Begging Harry Potter's pardon," whispered Dobby, "but there is elves about. Dobby can tell."
"Thanks Dobby," responded Harry, not knowing what to make of the information.
The group covered the remaining distance to the division of the road in complete silence. Harry noted that he couldn't even hear the swish of a robe. "If I didn't know better, I would think that someone had performed a small sound deadening spell." As Harry formed the thought, he concluded that one of his companions had indeed done just that. "Once again, someone is watching out for everyone." The thought filled Harry with pride.
At the junction, the group split up silently. Harry and Myrtle waited the promised four minutes. It had been nearly fifteen minutes since Ginny and Ron had disappeared. Harry checked his disillusionment charm and they started carefully toward the factory complex. Over the trees looming ahead, it was as Harry had seen in his tracking...a series of ramshackle factories and warehouses bunched closely together. It appeared that, long in the past, the factory district had encroached on a residential neighborhood. As the factories had expanded, they had used up all of the available land until they were literally on the doorstep of a tumbledown cemetery. Spinner's End ran a dead end at the cemetery. Myrtle brightened as they approached the cemetery. "No doubt she is expecting a pleasant...well...pleasant for her, visit with some erstwhile Spinner's End residents," thought Harry.
The path to the factories neatly divided the cemetery. Apparently the workers in this district had had to walk through the cemetery to get to their jobs. "That had to be a real employee incentive to hurry to work," thought Harry, and then, "I wonder what the graveyard shift workers thought." Harry smiled momentarily at his little joke and then recovered his serious attitude and pressed on.
On a whim, Harry called quietly to Myrtle. As she came close, Harry inclined his head and whispered, "Myrtle, could you find out if this is a dedicated graveyard with a guardian, and do it quietly?"
Myrtle nodded enthusiastically and zoomed away between the grave markers.
Harry continued up the path, pausing frequently to look for traces of magic and for traps. He had nearly cleared the cemetery when Myrtle zoomed back to his side. She put her transparent lips to Harry's ear and whispered, "Yes Harry, this is a dedicated cemetery and I just met Ogram. She is most delightful and even invited me back for a chat."
"A female Ogram," thought Harry, "well, why not?" Then to Myrtle, "Thanks Myrtle, I appreciate your help."
Myrtle blushed silver and fumbled slightly as she linked her arm with Harry's invisible arm and floated contentedly on.
The pair exited the cemetery path and were immediately dwarfed by a row of huge metal buildings. The buildings evidenced construction for utility, not aesthetics, as they resembled nothing more than huge metal boxes with slightly slanting sides. The painted signs proclaiming each building's occupant were weatherworn and peeling. Weeds grew in abundance between paving stones and along the building perimeters. The few unbroken windows were so filthy they might as well have been walls for all the light they allowed inside. It was obvious that no one had used these buildings in a very long time.
Harry scanned the buildings. "A textile mill, a foundry, a storage warehouse...and there it is," thought Harry, "the Blue Lyon Flour Mill, almost exactly as I saw it." He looked intently for the traces of magic that would indicate a trap. A residue of greenish sparkle near the door gave Harry cause to think this was indeed the correct location.
"Myrtle, this is where I need your help," whispered Harry. Could you slip into this building and quietly see if Ginny and Ron are inside?" Harry knew he had no way to force the ghost to do anything, but Myrtle had cooperated quite well so far.
"I could," said Myrtle in her pouty voice, "but what happens if they find me or attack me?"
"I can't promise that this won't be dangerous, even for a ghost. What I can promise is that if this goes well, we may be able to bring your killer to account for his deeds."
Harry's words seemed to mystify Myrtle. She considered him more appraisingly than ever she had before. "I was killed by a snake. I've heard you talk about how you killed that great snake in the Chamber of Secrets. How will me going in there," she indicated the flour mill, "punish a dead snake?"
Harry was astonished. He had never taken the time to explain to Myrtle the events surrounding her death. Now didn't seem like a very good time to relive history, but Harry concluded that it was necessary to bring the ghost to see things from his point of view.
"Technically, you are correct, Myrtle," Harry began. "It was a basilisk that killed you, but remember what you told me about the night you were killed. You told of a boy speaking in a funny kind of made up language. Then you saw the snake and died. What I have found out is that the snake was the boy's tool and followed his commands. He told the snake to kill you on purpose. He used your death to split his soul. I believe the same person who killed you is now holding my friends Ginny and Ron hostage to get to me. I need your help to rescue them."
Myrtle's expression changed as Harry spoke. Initially she had seemed happy just to be with Harry, on what to her was a lark. Now she had the dark brooding expression she had exhibited when she talked about haunting Olive Hornby. She had made the connection between her untimely death and someone who might be inside this building. "Oh, who is it? I'll make him regret he ever decided to kill me! I'll haunt him! I'll make him as miserable as I've been the last half century!"
Myrtle's tone told of the vindictive purpose that Harry had hoped to avoid. "Now, how to direct this anger, save Ginny and Ron, and oh yeah, not get anyone killed," thought Harry. "Myrtle, I know you could do this on your own. Make him pay for your death. What I'm trying to do is save my friend's lives and I'm asking you to help me see them to safety. Then we can address retribution. Please." Harry spoke the last word with all the pleading emotion he possessed.
Myrtle's expression softened a bit as she considered Harry's words. Finally she said, "I'll help you but you have to promise me that you'll help me exact my revenge."
Harry knew he was no longer motivated by revenge. It had started out that way, but that was the trap DePais had warned him about, the long view that the suits and Sylphus had encouraged. He now understood that if he let revenge and anger consume him, he would end up just as miserable as Myrtle, or worse yet, like Voldemort. "I'll promise you this Myrtle, when the time comes, I'll allow you free reign to do as you see fit. Do you trust me enough to take me at my word?" Harry waited expectantly for the ghost's reply.
"Yes, I'll take you at your word. Just remember, if anything goes wrong, I will haunt you." Myrtle left the threat hanging in the air and watched for Harry's reaction.
"Well, Myrtle, I count you as a friend and I wouldn't really mind you haunting me, but I do want to see justice done where you are concerned. Is that enough to be going on with?" Harry hoped it was, because he had nothing more to offer a ghost.
"What do you want me to do?" Myrtle's question hinted at assent.
"I've seen you glide through solid walls and kind of peek out of taps," said Harry. "You're very... flexible. Could you just pop into this mill and have a quick look around? What I need to know is if Ginny and Ron are in there. Where they are. The quickest way to get to them. How many others might be guarding them and if you can spot any traps set for someone trying to rescue them. I realize that's a lot to find out but it would really help me."
"I can do that. To tell you the truth Harry, being able to peek in on people without being seen is one of the things I like best about being dead." Myrtle giggled, blushed silver and zoomed away toward the old mill.