A select few members of the Order were gathering for a meeting at Grimmauld Place when Dumbledore's wand began to shoot off a loud buzzing sound. With a look of panic on his face, Dumbledore pulled the wand from his robes. When the wand was free from the robes a red flashing accompanied the buzzing sound.
"What is it?" Harry asked.
"We have a situation," Dumbledore answered gravely. "Sirius and Harry, come with me."
"Why not me?" Ron asked from where he was sitting resting his leg. Even though he was up and about, his leg was still not perfect and he was finding he was having trouble staying on his feet for prolonged moments of time.
"I'm sorry Ron, I don't think we can risk you slowing us down," Dumbledore said apologetically. "Stay here and keep everyone else from following us."
"Following us where?" Harry asked.
"The wards around the house where we're keeping Hermione have been breached," Dumbledore answered quietly, quickly checking they were still alone and no-one had wandered into the room unnoticed. "We need to go and find out what's happened."
"Don't worry, I'm sure Tonks and Remus will have gotten Hermione to safety," Sirius reassured Harry and Ron as the two teenagers shared a worried look.
"What do I tell the others?" Ron asked. "We're supposed to be having a meeting, and there's people already in the house."
"Tell them it was an emergency and I'll explain when we get back," Dumbledore replied. "But if they ask, you didn't know where we were going, do you understand?"
"I understand," Ron said with a solemn nod. "You better get going before it's too late."
"Quite right," Dumbledore said with an agreeable nod. "Remember to be prepared for anything. If we're dealing with Death Eaters, we don't want them to get their hands on anyone."
Making sure they were prepared, the trio hurried out of Grimmauld Place and apparated to the house in Wales. The second they arrived at the small house, they spotted evidence that something wasn't right. All the windows were broken, and the back door was standing wide open. Entering the house they found furniture was turned over and even the Christmas tree was lying on its side.
"Check the entire place thoroughly," Dumbledore ordered.
Before they had a chance to split up and search the house a figure in dark robes appeared in the doorway that led to the stairs.
"Death Eater!" Harry cried as he whirled round and shot a curse at the figure in black.
The Death Eater easily dodged Harry's curse, and with a low cackle he whipped out his own wand and disappeared before anyone else had a chance to throw another curse at him. Harry and Sirius both swore loudly as the Death Eater vanished without further incident.
"How the hell did they know about this house?" Sirius asked Dumbledore. "It's not an official Order property. You said they wouldn't find out about it."
"Let's worry about that later," Dumbledore said. He was wondering the exact same thing, but before they worried about how the Death Eaters had found the place they needed to locate Hermione. "For now, let's have a look around."
While Dumbledore and Sirius set about searching the ground floor, Harry wandered upstairs. The upstairs of the house wasn't as trashed as the ground floor, but it was still clear the place had been thoroughly searched. Harry was just pleased that once he and Ron had stopped visiting Hermione that she'd sent back all the books and papers she'd been working on while trying to track down the Horcrux. At least this way the dark still had no idea they were on the Horcrux trail and making progress in defeating Voldemort once and for all.
Hearing footsteps on the stairs, Harry whirled round with his wand at the ready, only to find his godfather approaching him. Sirius quickly established that the upstairs was as deserted as the downstairs, and he urged Harry to return back downstairs so they could discuss their next move.
"Do you think they've got her?" Harry asked quietly as he stood in the doorway of the room Hermione had been using. "Was all this in vain?"
"I'm sure Tonks and Remus will have gotten her to safety," Sirius replied, although he sounded anything but certain. "I'm sure all of this is just an unfortunate coincidence. There's no way the dark could have known that Hermione was here. Everyone thinks she's dead."
"Let's hope you're right," Harry sighed as he turned and followed his godfather back down to where Dumbledore was waiting for them.
"Nothing," Sirius announced. "The house is empty."
"Sirius, head to both of their houses to see if they're there. Also check with Tonks's parents in case they went there, but don't alarm them. Make it sound like a routine inquiry," Dumbledore ordered. "They should have apparated away from here the second the wards were breached. I'm sure they never even knew it was Death Eaters. Harry, I want you to head back to Grimmauld Place. Make an excuse to cancel the meeting and make sure there's just Ron, Molly and Arthur left, and we'll be back as soon as we can."
"What are you going to do?" Harry asked the headmaster.
"I'm going to check the wards around the house," Dumbledore explained. "I need to know how they were breached. I also need to think about what's going to happen next. We'll have to find somewhere safe for Hermione to stay."
"If the Death Eaters haven't already got her," Harry said sulkily.
"Have faith, Harry," Sirius said to his godson. "I'm sure she's perfectly safe with Tonks and Remus."
Harry wanted to believe Hermione was safe, but the fact that Lupin or Tonks hadn't been in touch was rather revealing. In his opinion if they were safe, they would have already been in touch. The fact they'd heard nothing didn't bode well.
Leaving Dumbledore and Sirius to hopefully find some answers, Harry returned to Grimmauld Place. Almost as soon as he arrived back they were bombarded with questions from the Weasleys and the other members of the Order that were present. Harry brushed the emergency off as nothing but a false alarm, but he pulled Molly to one side in the kitchen and quietly told her what had happened.
"How?" Molly gasped. "How did they find her?"
"We don't know yet," Harry replied. "But Dumbledore wants the place empty before they return. He's hoping Hermione's safe with Tonks and Lupin and they'll be returning here."
"I can get rid of everyone now, but we'll not be able to keep the place empty long term," Molly said. "We'll have to find another safe house."
"I'm sure Dumbledore will arrange all that," Harry said as he headed to the front room to quietly bring Ron up to speed.
A quick announcement that the meeting was postponed dealt with a few people, and as for her family Molly announced they would be having dinner at home. Molly sent the casserole she was making back to The Burrow with her family, along with a promise that she and Arthur would be home later. By the time Grimmauld Place had been emptied out, Harry suspected that most people were suspicious that something was going on. Luckily, everyone trusted Dumbledore and they knew that they would be informed of what was happening when the time was right.
Once Grimmauld Place was empty, Harry and Ron settled down at the kitchen table with Molly and Arthur. None of them discussed what was happening, but they all sat silently as they worried about Hermione. They'd gone to such extreme lengths to protect her, and now it looked like it was all in vain. Voldemort had gotten to her after all.
Nearly half an hour after the place emptied, Dumbledore walked into the kitchen looking pensive. Moments later Sirius arrived, and shaking his head desolately he slumped down at the kitchen table beside Harry.
"I can't find them anywhere," Sirius announced. "Remus and Tonks both knew not to bring Hermione here, but they didn't take her to either of their places instead. They're also not with Andromeda and Ted. I just don't know where they've taken her."
"I don't think they've taken her anywhere," Dumbledore said quietly. "Not only were the wards around the cottage breached, but a strong anti-apparition charm had been in place. Tonks and Remus wouldn't have been able to apparate Hermione to safety."
"That's not possible," Harry said. "If there was an anti-apparition charm in place we wouldn't have been able to apparate to the cottage."
"Technically we apparated to outside of the boundary line," Dumbledore said with a shrug. "I'm sure if we'd tried to apparate directly into the house we would have found it impossible."
"But I apparated straight from the cottage when I left," Sirius pointed out.
"So did I," Harry agreed.
"I think the charm deactivated when that last Death Eater left the house," Dumbledore explained. "It took me a while to find the remnants of the charm lingering around the cottage, but I found it. With the charm in place, there was no way Tonks and Remus apparated out of the house."
"Couldn't Tonks and Remus have gotten away some other way?" Molly asked.
"The only other option was flooing, or running," Dumbledore said. "I checked the fire and while the floo connection had been activated, it hadn't been used. As for running, if they'd ran I doubt the Death Eater we saw at the cottage would have remained behind. I hate to say this but in my opinion the dark have Hermione, Remus and Tonks."
"What do we do?" Ron asked. "How do we get them back?"
"That is going to take the work of the entire Order," Dumbledore answered. "Getting our friends back isn't going to be easy, and I can't guarantee it can be done. Of course we'll try our best, but we need to accept this might not have a positive outcome."
"We're also going to have to decide what to tell the rest of the Order," Arthur said quietly. "We're going to have to try and explain about Hermione, and why we did what we did."
"I wasn't planning on mentioning Hermione," Dumbledore said with a frown. The last thing he wanted to do was admit to the rest of the Order the lengths they'd gone to keep Hermione safe, especially as he thought some of them might disapprove of the way they'd handled things. "I'm going to call a full meeting and announce that the dark have kidnapped Tonks and Remus. Hermione's name won't be mentioned."
"And what happens when you know who uses Hermione to taunt Harry?" Arthur questioned. "He's taken her because she's important to Harry, and we all know he won't hesitate to use her to get Harry to do what he wants."
"For the time being, I still think we should keep Hermione's kidnapping under wraps," Dumbledore insisted. "Let's wait and see what Voldemort does with her before we tell people she's alive. There's a slim chance we can rescue her and get her back safely without anyone having to know what's happened."
"As long as she is rescued," Harry said forcefully. "She's my best friend, and I won't let her die because of me. I won't let this be the end, not after everything we've done to protect her in the first place."
"We'll do all we can to save her, Harry," Sirius promised, placing a comforting hand on his godson's shoulder.
Harry nodded gratefully as the debate about what to tell the Order continued to flow around him. Arthur was insistent that they told the rest of the Order the truth, but Dumbledore wasn't having any of it. Eventually Dumbledore won out and everyone agreed they wouldn't mention Hermione when they informed the rest of the Order what had happened. As far as everyone else were concerned they would say that Tonks and Lupin had been spending a romantic weekend together in the countryside when they were attacked by Death Eaters and snatched.
"Do you really think we'll get Hermione back?" Harry asked Sirius, once decisions had been made and the small meeting had broken up. Ron had headed home with his parents, while Dumbledore had gone to make sure the entire Order turned up at an emergency meeting first thing in the morning.
Sirius opened his mouth to offer his godson reassurance, but looking at Harry he found he couldn't lie to him. "I don't know Harry," he admitted quietly. "I would love to promise you that we'll get all three of them back unharmed, but I can't do that. We both know that if they're being held at Malfoy Manor then they're in big trouble."
Harry shuddered at the thought of his friends being held at the manor. Almost everyone whom the Death Eaters captured were held at the manor and very few made it out alive. As prominent members of the Order, Lupin and Tonks would be in severe danger, and Harry hated to think how Hermione would fare. Chances were that Voldemort would be fuming that her death had been faked to keep her safe from him, and there was a good chance he would take his fury out on Hermione.
"We've just got to think positive," Sirius said, trying to dispel some of the gloom that had fallen over them. "We can't give up hope of getting them back."
Harry nodded, offering his godfather a tiny smile. "You're right, we've got to think positive. They're strong, and they'll survive this. We'll get them back and win this war."
"That's the spirit," Sirius smiled warmly at the younger wizard.
Little did either Harry or Sirius know that they would soon have a new enemy to fight. Before long Voldemort wouldn't be the only person they had to worry about trying to bring down the Order. Very soon the witch they'd treated so badly would be seeking her revenge, and they were both in her line of fire.