Disclaimer: We own naught but the obvious, the rest belongs to JK Rowling.

Authors Note: Originally planned to be a co-written story between myself and Rhysora, this story has now gone on to be written by myself, Rachel A. Prongs and zimagesto. Enjoy.

Prologue: Spawn

~*~

'By suffering comes wisdom' - Aeschylus

'Every single day, great things are done by ordinary people' - Anon

~*~

Hermione Granger, Gryffindor Prefect and all-round genius, took another spoonful of her ice cream sundae. She didn't watch it as she raised it to her mouth; her eyes were focused on the book which lay in front of her.

Everyone in her year - even her wanna-be-boyfriend, Ron Weasley - said that she read too much. But then, of course, what was wrong with reading, she'd ask them. Was there something immoral in wishing to educate one's self?

Now however, it was the Summer holiday before her fifth year, and there was no-one to complain about her books here; which was why she was sitting outside Mariah Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour (Mariah's father, Florean, had died in a Death Eater attack last year), in the blazing heat, catching up on her History of Magic homework.

Growing bored with the moving, black and white photographs of the 1612 Goblin Rebellion, which she had seen before, she flicked forwards to the modern history; specifically, to the chapters on the Dark Lord Voldemort, and started reading.

'Chapter 36: He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named

In the year of 1960, not many years after the fall of the Dark wizard Grindlewald, the Dark Lord 'He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named', gathered an army of Wizards and Dark Creatures known as the 'Death Eaters'. His intent was to conquer Britain, and to eliminate Muggle-born Wizards and Witches.

Rumoured to be the last heir of Salazar Slytherin, one of the four Founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named became especially powerful over the years, as his army and powers grew.

He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named killed all who opposed him, including many old Wizarding families; the McBones, Prewetts, Potters and Snapes, to name but a few.

During the years of 1983 - 83, it seemed that the Light was winning, when Dumbledore, globally renowned as the most powerful Light Wizard, was voted to succeed Samuel Murrains as Minister for Magic. However, some years later, in 1993, He-Who- Must-Not-Be-Named discovered that the Necronomicon, or 'Book of the Dead', had been found by a Mr William Weasley, a Gringotts Curse Breaker trainee, in a hidden vault in a Roman temple.

Knowing that the Book contained highly powerful Dark Magic spells, He-Who- Must-Not-Be-Named sent a small battalion of Death Eaters, comprising five giants, sixty Wizards and Witches, four Vampires and a Nundu under Imperius (one of the five Unforgivable Curses), to attack the Aurors that were protecting the Book.

Succeeding easily, and destroying the Aurors and William Weasley, the Book was taken back to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, who from it learnt the spell of Transferral; a deadly curse that transfers that victim's Magical power into the caster, slowly (and excruciatingly painfully) killing the victim.

The Transferral Curse was named as the fourth Unforgivable.

Ever since then, the Dark Lord's power has steadily grown; the killing curse of Avada Kedavra is now only used by Death Eaters as the Dark Lord himself uses the Transferral on his victims, stealing their power for himself. As He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named increased his power, so did his aims also grow.

Instead of planning on the domination of Great Britain and the elimination of Muggle-born Wizards and Witches, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named now plans on global domination, and the eradication of not only Muggle-born Magic-users, but also half-borns and Muggles, with only pure-bloods left alive.

As the Dark Lord has now become officially the most powerful Magic-user since Merlin, other major countries such as Japan, North and South America and France are taking an active part in bringing him down.

Twelve years ago, another spell within the Book of the Dead became the latest Unforgivable; the Hybrid Curse.

For this curse, two animals or plants are brought together. Then, using the spell, the two creatures merge, the caster concentrating on the image of the end result.

As He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and his followers use this curse to create dangerous hybrids - the most well-known and feared being the Mantichera, a cross between a Manticore and a Chimaera - to attack Light Wizards, there is now a life-sentence in Azkaban for anyone who can be proved of having used it.

One of the mysteries surrounding the Dark Lord is that of his illegitimate son, Damien Riddle. The mother is unknown - most likely dead - and all that is known of the fifteen or sixteen year old, is his looks and his incredible Magical power, although nowhere near strong enough to rival his father.

Damien appeared in a full-scale battle between the Order of the Phoenix and the Death Eaters on the sixth of March, 1994; and although only eleven or twelve years old, he still slew forty-two Phoenix members, and called up a small hurricane, which demolished one of the Order's hideouts.

Two years later, in 1996, a bounty was offered for each Death Eater brought in to the Ministry of Magic. Ten Galleons for lower-ranking individuals, fifty Galleons for those in He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's inner circle, five million for the Dark Lord's son, alive or dead, and twenty million for the Dark Lord himself, alive or dead. Over four hundred bounty hunters from around the world have tried to capture the latter two, but the tasks have been deemed 'impossible' by many.

What has been called 'The Serpent War' after He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's Parselmouth ability, and Slytherin alliances, seems to be coming to an end, with the Dark Lord on the winning side. As the longest war in the history of Magic (over fifty years), th'

Hermione, however, didn't manage to read any further, as a loud explosion rocked Diagon Alley. Jumping up in shock, Hermione looked over to the direction of the sound, just as flames roared up and thick black smoke started to pour out of the crumbling remains of Gringotts bank, a Goblin with one of its arms missing stumbling dazedly out. There was a split- second of silence and confusion, before the Dark Mark appeared over the wreckage, and then instant pandemonium. Screams filled the air, almost deafened by the multiple 'pop's as the Death Eaters Apparated in, dressed in black robes and silver masks with green snakes engraved on, twisting over the left of the mouth, around the nose and above the right eye.

Grabbing her book, Hermione Granger, Gryffindor Prefect and all-round genius, reaching her hand into her pocket for the Floo Powder that every Witch and Wizards carried nowadays in case of an emergency, sprinted for the Leaky Cauldron, heart racing and adrenaline pumping. She almost made it.

~*~

Ronald Edward Weasley, youngest son of Arthur and Molly Weasley, dragged himself down the stairs after a two hour lie-in, stomach growling and mouth yawning.

He discovered his breakfast; or rather, lunch, sitting at the breakfast table, and his father sitting opposite, reading the Daily Prophet with a grim expression. Mr Weasley's hair had more than a few grey streaks in it from the past few years; just a few months after his eldest son had died in Egypt, Voldemort's forces had grown stronger with the two new Unforgivables.

"What's up, Dad?" Ron asked, stifling a yawn as he tried to peer round at what his father was reading.

Mr Weasley sighed, and passed the paper over. "Attack in Diagon Alley yesterday afternoon. Twelve dead, including four Aurors." he said bluntly, and left it to Ron to read the details. Mr Weasley's face creased in worry. "They're aiming for the Ministry workers. Going for them specifically, not just if they happen to come by." he said quietly. "Percy's working overtime now, trying to sort everything out. What if they get him?"

Ron rolled his eyes, and began to scan down the paper. "Come off it, Dad. Percy works right inside the Ministry Headquarters, and none of the Death Eater attacks have ever got inside there. Percy'll be fine."

Mr Weasley was silent for a moment, before he sighed again. "I think you should know, Ron. Percy wants to get off paperwork. He wants - he wants to be an Auror."

Ron choked on his soggy cereal (Quidditch-Os), spraying the table with broomstick and Snitch shaped marshmallow and oatmeal. He gasped for breath, staring at his dad. "Are you joking?" he screeched, still gawping. "Percy? Pompous Percy? Percy wouldn't know a Death-Eater from a Phoenix member! He'd slay half the Aurors before he figured out which side he was on! What's he going to do? Staple them to death? Stab them with a letter opener? Throw paper-weights at them?"

Mr Weasley frowned. "Ron," he said warningly, "that's enough. I don't want Percy going into such a dangerous job at this time, but at least he wants to try and help the war-effort. And personally, I think he could do something. He didn't get a school award for a perfect Defence Against the Dark Arts N.E.W.T for nothing, you know." He half-closed his eyes in pride, and Ron pretended to puke.

"Well, if Percy wants to go and get his head blown off, that's his own problem." Ron conceded, turning back to the paper. "Hey, Chudley Cannons won against the Holyhead Harpies!"

Mr Weasley glanced over his son. "Well, there's a first time for everything."

Ron rolled his. "Whatever, Dad." he said, passing the paper back. As he did so, his sleeve rolled up slightly, and he pulled it back down again. After all, he didn't want anyone to see his Dark Mark grinning up at them. God have mercy on Percy, if he got his wish, for Ron certainly wouldn't.

~*~

Albus Dumbledore, Minister of Magic, Supreme Mugwump (even he wasn't sure what a Mugwump was) and Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, frowned over his half-moon spectacles as he read through the latest message from his spy.

The agent, deep in Voldemort's inner circle, was highly unlikely to be found (or even suspected) which was the reason that the most important and vital plans of Voldemort always managed to get to them.

Unfortunately, it seemed the spy had only just learnt of the attack on Diagon Alley yesterday afternoon, and was offering their services to find where the seven prisoners were being held before their Draining.

Setting the letter down, Dumbledore heaved a sigh and patted his familiar, Fawkes, who uttered a few soothing notes.

One of the. . . deceased. . . was a Hogwarts student, and two of the imprisoned were also students. Frankly, he didn't hold much hope for them.

Sighing again, he picked up his quill and a few clean sheets of parchment, and began to write to Mr and Mrs Pine, Mr Creevey and Mrs and Mrs Granger, informing them of the recent tragic occurrences.

~*~

Two people made their way through the dark corridors, the smaller one keeping close to the leader. There were few torches lighting up the hallways, and those few that could be found were burning with a strange silvery-green, cold flame. The shadows were exceptionally dark, and seemed to stretch after anything that moved like hungry demons, desperate for the taste of human flesh.

The two people paid the shadows no mind. They had grown up in this place and knew most of its secrets and dangers, and knew how to defend themselves better than most wizards. The shadows were only there to confuse and scare prisoners and spies, but not all of them were harmless as both of them knew from firsthand experience.

The taller one of the two suddenly ducked behind a bend in the corridor, drawing the shorter protectively to itself. Two men in midnight black robes and white masks came up the corridor, talking about something or other. Apparently both found it extremely funny, because a second later both of them were laughing darkly.

They stopped in front a plain wall, the two figures in the shadows going by unnoticed. One of the two white-masked strangers touched a stone with a shining, silver snake and a secret door opened, admitting the two of them into the room beyond. The wall closed after them, leaving not trace of ever being anything but a wall.

The two in the shadows took a minute to calm their high-strung nerves, the taller comforting the smaller who was shaking.

"It's alright buddy," the tall one, definitely a male, said. "Trust me, we're going to get you out of here." His companion nodded. "Alright? Then come on." They set off again.

They continued down the same corridor for another while, until suddenly the oldest one went straight through a wall, quickly followed by the smaller one. They quickly made their way through the total darkness, not daring to lit a light, and after a while they could feel fresh air from outside.

"Soon kiddo," the leader whispered. "Soon you'll be out of this hell-hole." They had reached what seemed like a dead end, a solid wall of earth blocking their path to freedom. But then the speaker pushed at something right underneath the low ceiling, and a small door opened. He helped his smaller companion out first then followed.

Outside they were met by a cloaked man, and, in the shadows behind the stranger, they could make out the form of a Winged Horse. The tall boy turned the shorter towards him again. "Now, be a good kid and behave." He brushed some dirt off the cloak. "And continue with the piano lessons, alright?" he sniffed despite his efforts. "Maybe we'll see each other again some day?"

"What do you mean?" the smaller one, also a male, asked in a frightened tone. "You aren't coming with me?"

"I can't. I have a job to do here, and a revenge to carry out; besides, I'm in too deep, but there's still some hope left for you." He looked up at the man patiently waiting by the horse. "This man will take you to Hogwarts. You'll live there and continue your schooling. Dumbledore expects y-" the smaller one hugged him. He hugged right back, willing himself not to cry as he pushed the kid away from himself and towards the stranger.

"Take care of him werewolf." He said as the man stepped out and picked the tiny boy up, put him up on the horse, then mounted behind his little charge. "If something happens to him, you won't have to worry about the Dark Lord, I'll kill you myself."

"Don't worry, we'll take care of him."

"Take care Damien." The smaller boy waved as they rose into the air.

"How many times do I have to tell you to call me Harry, Severus?" the taller mumbled to himself as he watched them fly away.

~*~

In Diagon Alley, a few pages of an abandoned book flipped gently over in the breeze.

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Right, this was corrected and reformed by Rachel A. Prongs, but is still written by The Red Dragons Order and Rhysora.

The Red Dragons Order