Harry hates this. He hates all of this. What he hates most of all is seeing Ginny’s face as they look at the Potion in the goblet George handed him.
“I don’t like this,” Ron says, mirroring his sentiments exactly.
“Me neither,” Harry says. “But… no better plan, is there?”
“I’m sure there’s something,” Ginny mumbles, perching gingerly on the edge of Malfoy’s sofa.
Hermione and George are upstairs with Draco and Astoria, sorting out their security arrangements for while Harry’s undercover. It’s just him and Ginny and Ron; Ginny, because she refused to leave Harry’s side, and Ron, because Hermione only agreed to leave with Malfoy and his wife if Ron made sure everything went exactly according to plan.
“If there was, then Hermione would’ve thought of it,” Ron says immediately.
“That’s true,” Harry agrees, and takes a deep breath. “Okay. Let’s go over the plan again,” he says.
Ron hands Harry a familiar-looking Galleon. “Once you Apparate there, tap this twice with your wand. We’ll be able to see what’s going on. Go in, get the information you can, and then get the hell out as quickly as you can.” Harry pockets the Galleon, and then Ron hands him a slip of parchment, covered in Malfoy’s elegant scrawl. “Here’s the address. Apparate there once the Potion takes effect. And if they ask why you’re late… well, then make something up.”
“Very helpful, Ron,” Harry says dryly, looking down at the address. Once he’s sure he has it memorised, he says, “Incendio,” and drops the now burning bit of parchment onto the floor.
“Aguamenti,” Ginny mutters, putting out the parchment before Malfoy’s fancy carpet can catch fire. Although it would serve him right. “Hurry back, okay? Don’t do anything stupid and heroic,” she tells him, and goes on his tiptoes, pressing a soft kiss to his cheek.
“He can’t make any promises, you know that,” Ron says with a small grin. “Go on, mate. We’ll be watching, we’ll see if anything goes terribly wrong. Oh–and here,” he says, handing Harry Malfoy’s wand. “Keep yours in your moleskin pouch, yeah?”
Harry nods. “Okay,” he says. He takes a deep breath, holds his nose closed with his free hand, and then drinks the Potion, finishing it in one go.
He could live to be a hundred and never get used to the sensation of the Polyjuice. A few very uncomfortable moments later, and he’s the double of Draco Malfoy. He takes his glasses off and slips them into the moleskin pouch around his neck, along with his wand, and then stands up straight.
“How do I look?” he says.
“Bloody terrible,” Ron says.
“A bit like a ferret,” Ginny puts in.
Harry grins despite himself. “Great. That’ll do, then. See you two soon.” He closes his eyes, holds on tightly to Malfoy’s wand, and Disapparates.
“Do you think I’ll ever feel calm during any of these bloody missions?” Ginny wonders. She’s sitting next to George, with Ron and Hermione, all of them in a loose circle on the floor of the living room in Ron and Hermione’s house. Malfoy and Astoria, thankfully, aren’t here, and have been moved to a safehouse. Ginny doesn’t know where, but she trusts Ron to make sure they’re alright, and doesn’t much care beyond that, anyway.
“Maybe,” Hermione says hopefully.
Ron snorts. “I’m usually with him on these bloody missions, and I’ve never felt calm about it once. How does this spell work, Hermione?”
“It’s sort of a modified version of the spell I used on the DA Galleons,” Hermione says, “and the spell on the mirrors that Sirius gifted Harry. So once he taps the Galleon, his will act as a reflective surface and we can see what’s going on.”
“You did all of that? That’s impressive,” George tells Hermione.
Hermione blushes, but before she can do anything else, the Galleon in the centre of their circle glows red-hot. Hermione taps it with her wand and mutters a spell. The Galleon shimmers and then turns reflective, but when Ginny peers in close, she doesn’t see herself; instead, she sees Harry, disguised as Draco but with Harry’s familiar Auror look on his features: frown, furrowed eyebrows, clenched jaw.
“Wait,” Hermione mutters and then taps the Galleon again. “Engorgio,” she mutters, and then, “Wingardium Leviosa.” The Engorged Galleon rises and hovers in front of them, giving them a clear view of what’s going on.
“Are you sure they can’t see us?” Ginny says worriedly. The last thing they need is to give away Harry’s cover and get him in trouble. She’s worried enough as it is.
“I’m sure,” Hermione says.
George wraps his arm around Ginny’s shoulder and squeezes her in a gentle hug. Ginny does her best to focus on the image on the Galleon, the slightly blurry picture of Harry approaching–a door of some sort.
Harry’s never been here before, not on an Auror stakeout, not ever. The house is dark, shadowed, sinister looking. The knocker on the door is shaped like a snake, and he shudders as he remembers the Gaunts and a snake nailed to the door, years ago in the Pensieve in Dumbledore’s office.
Malfoy wouldn’t shudder, though. And he can’t afford to break his cover. He affects the most bored look he can and approaches the door, pausing only to look down at the Galleon in his hand. It’s warm to the touch but doesn’t look too different. He hopes Hermione knows what she’s doing. He takes a deep breath, steels himself, and then leans in and knocks at the door.
It opens in what seems like seconds, revealing a Death Eater Harry hasn’t seen directly in years, not since the battle at the Department of Mysteries, the day when Sirius Black died. He’s heard of him since, of course — one of the Death Eaters the Aurors haven’t been able to catch. They’ve got a file on him at work, but he doesn’t need any of the resources of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement to recognise the face in front of him.
“About time you showed up, Malfoy,” says Avery, sneering at him. “Was beginning to think you had gotten scared. Come in, everyone else is already here.”
“That’s–” Ginny breathes out, and then turns to look at Hermione.
Hermione, who’s gone a bit pale, only nods. “We knew–we knew there’d be a chance of Death Eaters,” she whispers. “And Harry’s dealt with worse. Right?”
“He’s dealt with Voldemort. Avery’s an idiot compared to him,” Ron points out. “Let’s just relax. It’ll be fine.”
Ginny doesn’t feel fine. She feels nauseous with worry. It’s been years since any of them have had to deal so directly with Death Eaters. “I think I’m gonna be sick,” she mumbles.
“Is it just having to see Harry wearing Malfoy’s face? Because I agree, that’s disgusting,” George says.
“Better or worse than when he was disguised as Goyle, do you think?” Ron asks Hermione, who wrinkles her nose.
George surveys them. “I know we’re dealing with something important right now,” he says, “but you both have to tell me that story later.”
“I don’t know if it’s worth telling. Not one of their better stories, I’d say,” Ginny says.
“Shh, he’s talking,” Hermione hisses, and they fall silent, turning their attention back to the Galleon.
“Everyone?” Harry repeats. He’s relieved when his voice comes out steady.
“You didn’t show up last time, did you?” Avery sneers.
Harry shrugs. “I did,” he says, thinking very quickly about what Malfoy had told them when they found him at Avery’s house, “but you’d all gone by then. Do a Homenum Revelio on your house, if you’d like.”
“We did,” Avery says. His sneer slips for a second, revealing–is that fear? Harry’s convinced that it is. They must have investigated the house after–and if they had, they probably found traces that Malfoy and a few other people would be there, which is why —
“That’s why you shifted headquarters,” he says.
“What?” Avery says, looking at Harry with a suspicious look on his face.
Harry takes a second and does his best to paste a sneer onto his face. “You’ve gotten slower, Avery,” he says.
Avery bristles, but he does look less suspicious as he leads Harry inside, so Harry counts it as a win.
It’s a proper Death Eater party, Harry thinks as he surveys the circle of Death Eaters in the living room. Some of them are even wearing hooded robes, so he can’t discern their faces. There’s only about six or seven of them, but Harry doesn’t like to think of even that many.
“First things first–” Avery begins, and breaks off when a young girl walks into the room, her eyes wide as she peers around. “What is it?” he hisses at her.
“I just–” she starts to say.
“I told you not to interrupt. Go back upstairs, don’t make me tell you again,” Avery says.
“Okay, Daddy,” she says in a small voice, turning around and making her way back upstairs.
So they were right, Harry thinks. Avery’s daughter. Seems to be old enough to be of Hogwarts age. And any magic used around her would set off the Trace. But if that confirms the theory, it still leaves some questions behind. Like how they knew that they would be in the area at all. How they knew how to get to Hermione. Whether they’ve found some way of infiltrating the Fidelius Charm.
“On to the next order of business,” says the person sitting next to Avery.
A man, Harry thinks, going by the voice, and a familiar-sounding one, too. That doesn’t really say anything, though, given the company he’s in: he’s unfortunately well acquainted with Death Eaters and their ilk, and he can’t place this voice, so it doesn’t immediately ring a bell, the way seeing Avery had.
“Yes, of course,” Avery says. “Well, our sources say that Granger’s left St. Mungo’s.”
“And did anyone see who attacked her?” asks someone else.
That piques Harry’s interest. He sits up straighter, moving his hand to the pocket of his robes in a way that seems casual, or so he hopes, and clenches his hand around the wand in his pocket.
“I was just going to ask Malfoy. Your wife’s a Healer, isn’t she?” Avery says to Harry.
Harry nods. “She is. But she wasn’t — er — on duty when Hermione was admitted.”
“Hermione?” repeats one of the Death Eaters mockingly. “Awful lot of sympathy for a Mudblood, Malfoy.”
Harry clenches his fist around the wand, but doesn’t say anything. Luckily, they seem to move on.
“If no one saw her,” Avery says, “then that means we need to try again. After all, the plan–”
“The plan? The plan? I hope you remember whose plan it was, Avery,” says the man who just mocked Harry. He draws back the hood of his robes.
“The plan,” Avery continues, “was to have the attacker seen, wasn’t it? Maybe you should have paid more attention to your plan, Lestrange.”
The name sends a shiver down Harry’s spine, and he turns to try and get a better look. This man looks nothing like Bellatrix, but then he frowns when a sudden memory occurs to him, of another trip to the Pensieve, the trial of Barty Crouch Jr, Bellatrix Lestrange, and two other men. Rodolphus and Rabastan Lestrange.
“And we won’t fail next time,” Lestrange growls.
“Maybe we won’t go for Granger next time. Two times, and it’ll be too suspicious,” Avery says. Potter’s wife, maybe we’ll go for her. Get her during a Quidditch match or something.”
Harry doesn’t even realise it, but he gets to his feet. Avery and Lestrange, and the five other hooded Death Eaters, turn to look at him in unison. “What is it, Malfoy?” Rabastan says.
Harry doesn’t know. His mind is racing to fast for his words to keep up, but he knows he needs to think of something on his feet now, or it’ll be far too suspicious. “I’ll do it,” he says. “I’ll do the attack. On Potter’s wife.”
Avery looks impressed. “I wasn’t expecting that.”
“Especially since you didn’t even show up last time,” Rabastan adds.
Harry doesn’t say anything, just watches the both of them in stony silence.
Ginny watches in horror. “What is he doing?” she hisses.
“You know what he’s like. Would rather get himself more involved than risk your safety,” Ron says.
“He’s putting himself in danger,” Ginny says.
“I think he just volunteered to attack you, Gin,” George says.
“No,” Hermione says. Ginny looks at her blankly, and she clarifies, “I mean, no, he didn’t volunteer. He’s undercover, which means he just volunteered for Malfoy to attack you. Which means…”
“Which means we have to find a way to get him to agree to yet another plan,” Ron says.
“Yes. It means we’ve got to do that after we worry about Harry getting out of a Death Eater meeting safely before the Polyjuice wears off, too,” Ginny says.
George whistles under his breath and says, “Wow. It’s never just a normal week hanging around with you lot, is it?”