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Chapter Twelve
Picking Up the Pieces

As soon as the rumbling stopped and the dust had settled a little, the six students got a good look at what had happened.  The entire far end of the tunnel had collapsed inwards, right where the Potters had been standing.  Eustace was in shock for a moment, but soon came out of it when he realised what had happened.

“ NOOOO!  MUM!  DAD!  NO!”

He started to run over to the pile of rubble, but Ron grabbed him around the waist.  A rather dazed Harry started to inconspicuously wave his hand, muttering under his breath.  He was wandlessly reinforcing the ceiling to stop any more of it collapsing.  Each of the children had tears running down their faces, but Eustace was still screaming his head off, trying to reach his parents.  Ron kept a good hold on him, though.

As soon as the ceiling was secure, Harry made his way over to the pile of stone and tile.  An arm of one of the children was hanging out of a hole, but there was no pulse at the wrist.  Some of the Muggle men were trying to clear the debris as quickly as possible without putting undue pressure on the pile.  If there was anyone alive under there, they could be crushed if a stone fell on the wrong place.  Harry stood and watched for a minute, unsure what to do.  He had to find out if there were any survivors, but he couldn't use magic to move the rocks out of way.  The Muggles would not take too well to levitating stones.  The sheer number of Muggles present made it impractical to try anything.  He could have Obliviated any number of them, but with the exit so close and people milling around, he was almost sure to miss a few.  If they spread the word of floating rubble, there could be a panic, and the people had enough to worry about at the time.  Just as he was pondering what to do, he felt a shifting on his left wrist that gave him an idea.

*Simbi?  Nirah?  I need a favour*

*What would you like from us, little master?*

*I need you to go into that pile of debris and see if there is anyone alive in there*

*Very well, Harry*

The two snakes slithered off his wrists and made for the cave in.  Harry cast a quick concealing charm so that the Muggles wouldn't notice.  He had come to a decision about using magic.  If anyone was alive under there, he would clear the ceiling out of the way, and sort out the consequences when the survivors were safe.  If there was no-one alive, then he would help to move the stones the Muggle way.  Looking back to where the group was sitting, he saw Eustace had calmed down a bit, in as much as he wasn't screaming and thrashing anymore.  He was sitting in Hermione's embrace, sobbing.  Minh was not much better.  Although, like the others, she had only known the Potters for a few days, she was in shock.  She had never expected to come to the human world and see such atrocities.  Unlike Eustace, who had been living with the war for four years already, she was unprepared for any of this.  The air raid had been bad enough, but this had tipped her over the edge of despair.  Ginny was hugging her to her chest, rocking her backwards and forwards, but it seemed to be doing little good.  As Harry's gaze reached Ron, the red headed boy stood and made his way over to his best friend.

“ What's going on, Harry?  Are there any survivors?  Why don't you move it all with magic?”

“ Ron, I can't move it with magic, the Muggles will see.”

“ So?  Use a memory charm.”

“ I can't guarantee I'll get them all.”

“ True, I'd never thought of that.  So, what's happening?”

“ The Muggles are clearing it, but we don't know if there are any survivors.  I've sent Simbi and Nirah in to look around, as they will be able to fit in the gaps.  They haven't come back yet, so until they do, I have no news.”

Just as he said this, a hissing could be heard from the floor by his feet.  Kneeling down, he scooped up his familiars and placed them back around his wrists before asking for their report.

*What did you find?  Are there any survivors?*

*We are sorry, Harry.  We found two adult humans who had a scent similar to yours.  We also found two other adult humans, one much older than the other, and four young ones.  They were all dead*

*Thank you for looking, it saved me a lot of trouble*

Turning to Ron he relayed the message Simbi had given him.

“ What do you think we should do now?  We have nowhere to live, no food, our money is at Hogwarts along with most of our possessions, we have no idea where Diagon Alley is from here and even if we did we don't have our Gringotts keys, and we have no way of contacting anyone.  I don't see any owls around, flooing is out of the question, it's too far to fly, especially with passengers and we can't apparate or make a portkey.  We'll have to go and talk to the others, and make sure Eustace is alright.”

“ I agree.  We'll have to decide what to do together as it will affect all of us.  We're cut off from the wizarding world with no guardians and no money.  This is going to be hard.”

The pair made their way over to the rest of the group.  Seeing them approach, Hermione and Ginny shifted the two first years off their knees so they could talk to the boys better, while still keeping them in a hug.  Hermione was the one to break the awkward silence, using Anglo-Saxon so as not to worry the younger students.

“ So what do we do now?  Are the Potters…”

“ Dead.”

“ I thought so.  Eustace isn't taking it too well, but that's to be expected.  Minh's in shock as well.  I don't think she was expecting this.”

“ None of us were expecting this, `Mione, but we're stuck with it.  There will be time for mourning later.  First we have to decide what to do.  As I was just saying to Harry, we have virtually no supplies, nowhere to live and no way of contacting anyone.  The Potters were the only adults we had to look after us, and now they've been taken away.  We're the adults now, and we have to take care of Minh and Eustace.”

“ You're right, Ron.  I had a feeling something was going to happen, but I never expected anything like this.  That's why I told Harry to leave his invisibility cloak at Hogwarts.  If he'd brought it he would have lost it along with everything else on the second floor.”

“ It's my fault…”

“ HARRY!  How can you say that?”

“ Gin, it is my fault.”

“ How do you figure?”

“ The roof.  As soon as the dust cleared after the cave-in I wandlessly secured it.  I should have thought to do that as soon as we entered the tunnel.  If the house had been warded, it would have been suspicious if it was the only one left standing, but I thought the tunnel would hold.  I should have taken the precaution.  It's my fault.”

“ Harry, it's not your fault.  You couldn't have known.  And you can't think of everything.  Any one of us could have warded the roof, but it never occurred to us.  Which isn't surprising seeing as we were just bombed.  We all saw the carnage out there, and even though we've seen battles before, it was never anything on this scale…”

“ You know, `Mione, you'd think after all of the terrible things I've seen, I would become immune to things like this…”

“ Harry, I would worry if you were.  The fact that it bothers you shows you're human.  It's what distinguishes you from You-Know-Who.”

“ Hermione, call him by his name.”

“ Fine Vol-Voldemort.  You may say you are a Dark Wizard, but you're still a good person, and your emotions right now are showing me that.”

“ I'm sorry, I can't help but feel guilty.  There are so many who died because of me.  My parents, Cedric, Percy, the singing family, and now my great grandparents…”

“ None of those were your fault,” Ron said, joining the discussion, “ Your parents were on Vol-Vold-Voldemort's hit list long before you were born.  Cedric went with you out of choice, and you didn't know what would happen.  Percy died by being brave and standing up for her friends.  You were busy battling a Dark Lord.  There was nothing you could have done.  And I think `Mione and Ginny summed up why this isn't your fault.”

“ Thanks, Ron.  I needed that.  It's just…they were my family.  I know I would never know them like Eustace knew them, and we'll have to give him a lot of support now his parents are gone, but they were still my family.  I mean, you were upset when Percy died, because she was part of your family, even though you had never known about her before we came here.”

“ You're right.  But I think it's time we stop moping and take stock of our situation.  We can mourn them later, but we have more pressing issues now.  Like where we are going to live.”

Hermione paused a minute, looking at the younger students, who were listening bewildered.  Eustace still had tears falling down his cheeks, but he was a lot calmer.  Thinking, as it was their futures as well as theirs, that the pair should be included in the conversation, she quickly switched to English before continuing.

“ Well, for now we have no-where to live.  We'll have to stay here until another possibility presents itself.  As for money, we don't have any, so that might be a problem.  For food and clothes, we can conjure them easily enough.  Heat will be the same; we can just use a warming charm.  The main problem will be getting back to Hogwarts.  We can't get to Diagon Alley, especially not without money.  Even if we had some wizarding money, it wouldn't be much use in the Muggle world.  I think we'll just have to wait it out.  When we don't turn up after the holidays, Dumbledore is sure to come looking for us.  We can't get to Hogwarts by any usual means.  We can't fly as we only have one broom with us, and it would take ages.  All we have from our bags are a few clothes, some books and our weapons, both new and old.  We have Eustace's prank items and some sweets.  It's not much, but it's a start.”

“ `Mione, term doesn't start for another three weeks!  We can't sit in a drafty tunnel until then!  And what about the Potters?  They'll need to be buried…”

“ You're right, Ron.  For now all we can do is wait for the Muggles to uncover the bodies and put preservation charms on them.  It's the best we can do.”

“ What about Eustace's broom?  We could use it to fly to Diagon Alley.”

“ We can't do that.  You can't fly in to Diagon Alley, and I read a book about the war years a while ago.  For safety reasons, the Leaky Cauldron entrance has been sealed.  The only way in or out is by portkey, floo or apparition.  We can't go to King's Cross either, as we don't have any money for a train ticket.”

At this, Eustace was giving Hermione a funny look.  When she spotted him, she realised what she had said.  Unlike Minh, who had heard about it from her mother, Eustace didn't know they were from the future.  She had said that she had read about Diagon Alley in a book, and it wouldn't have been printed yet, as it would have been common knowledge.  Seeing it as her only choice, she waved her hand over his eyes, erasing his memory of the last part of the conversation.  As she was turning back to her friends, she spotted a couple standing behind Harry, Ron and Ginny.  From the looks of their faces, they had heard most of the conversation.  Nodding to the others, they all turned around and looked at the couple.  The prominent thought in all of their heads was, oh, great, now we've done it…   

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