"It's never done this before."

Staring down at the Veil, Dumbledore cleared his throat. "I would imagine not."

The Veil was supposed to do what it had always done, sit in the still silence unless a living being came close, in which case the souls of the dead would call out from the other side. It was a trap, of course; nothing living could pass through the veil without ceasing to be alive, and once even a part of a being passed through it was too late.

Now, though, there was a humming sound which pulsed.

"Has it always had this rhythm?"

The Ministry agent shook his head. "It was slow at first, so slow that we didn't even notice the pattern. It has been speeding up for the last week."

"It seems to be speeding up even now," Dumbledore said.

"Which is why we've evacuated the Ministry and requested your help."

"I'm sure my help would have been even more useful a week ago," Dumbledore said dryly, staring down at the shorter man.

He looked away uncomfortably. "There were those who hoped we'd be able to solve this on out own. This is the first change in the Veil since it was discovered and many were excited to learn what they could."

"And what have they learned?"

"Nothing," the man said, sighing. "The Muggleborns seem particularly apprehensive, talking about something called a countdown, but no one has any idea what will happen at the end."

"Which should be very soon now, I would expect."

The pulsing had grown quite rapid by this point. Both men, in the interest of prudence were at the top of the amphitheater, as far from the veil as possible while remaining in the same room.

The Veil was glowing, an unusual rose color, and both men instinctively drew their wands.

The ground beneath them trembled and the ministry official apparated away, his courage finally at its limits.

Dumbledore considered following him, but his eyes were drawn to the pulsing veil. The humming sound had sped up until it was an almost continuous hum which was growing louder and louder.

The light grew brighter and brighter until finally Dumbledore saw the edge of a sphere pushing it's way through the veil.

He cast a shielding charm, and a moment later found himself rocked backward as the Veil exploded.

He barely remained conscious long enough to see the rose colored bubble in the center of the room.

The bubble vanished suddenly, leaving an unconscious child in the middle of the rubble, approximately the age of his first year students. He was heavyset, wearing a dark pink muggle shirt with a yellow star on it, blue denim trousers, and sandals.

Beside him were four gemstones lying inert in the rubble.

"It's impossible. He couldn't have gone through the Veil. Nothing living could have survived."

Dumbledore stood above the group of aurors and for once his eyes were not twinkling. "I will be happy to offer my memories for examination with a Pensieve, but I can assure you that I know what I saw."

Several of the aurors had surrounded the boy, wands out.

"He's only partially human," one of the younger aurors said. He flicked his wand and the boys shirt front lifted, exposing his stomach. A large gemstone was embedded in his stomach.

"It's magical," the second auror said. "And partially alive. If I didn't know better, I'd think that it's part of him."

"These other gems have the same properties," the third auror said quietly.

The three men glanced uneasily at each other. Were the four gems on the floor part of other beings like the boy? If they were, then they were rather grisly trophies.

They were all too experienced to touch the gems or the boy with their hands. There were all sorts of magical traps that could be unleashed at a touch. If this boy had actually come from the other side, it was impossible to know if whatever traps could be found would bear any resemblance to anything known to the Wizarding world.

A cough sounded from the floor, and the three men stepped back quickly, wands quickly pointed in unison.

He was waking up. Hopefully they would have their answers soon.