Disclaimer – I solemnly swear that JKR owns everything Harry Potter. Whether or not I am up to no good with her characters is for you to decide.
United We Stand …
As had become tradition over the past hundred years or so, Platform Nine and Three Quarters of King's Cross Station was crowded with parents awaiting the return of their children from their year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Everywhere one looked, groups of adults mingled, catching up and gossiping with the friends that they saw only once or twice a year and reminiscing about their own Hogwarts' days. And darting in and out around their legs were the next generation, those still too young to go to the castle filling the platform and the time with their boisterous antics.
A shrill whistle caused all those on the platform to pause, their heads swivelling automatically towards the direction that the great scarlet steam engine always came from. Bodies, both parental and young, shuffled forward, eager to get their first glimpse of the train.
And then it was there, emerging from a great cloud of steam. Hands raised and began waving; small bodies were jumping up and down, all trying to see in the windows.
But unlike every other year, there were no bodies hanging out of windows waving back or calling to parents, relations and siblings. A confused susurration swept the platform as the lack of students on the train became apparent.
Finally, with a massive hiss the Hogwarts express stilled, its journey for another year over. It was then that the mystery of the missing children was solved by an announcement that resonated from every single carriage at once. The voice spoke softly, elegantly, its magnitude only created by the way that it echoed from the train and around the platform.
"HOGWARTS IS NO MORE!"
The pre-charmed voice must have expected a reaction from the crowd, for it paused then, allowing the screams, cries and general panic to permeate throughout the platform as parents clutched at each other, horror on their faces and anguished screams ripped from them.
"HOGWARTS IS NO MORE," the voice repeated, instantly quietening the crowd. "IN ITS PLACE STANDS CASTLE VOLDEMORT! MAGICAL BLOOD HAS BEEN SPILLED AND ALBUS DUMBLEDORE IS NO MORE.
"HAVE NO FEAR, THOUGH, FOR YOUR PRECIOUS CHILDREN WILL BE WELL-CARED FOR AND EDUCATED. EACH AND EVERY MAGICAL CHILD SHALL REMAIN AT CASTLE VOLDEMORT YEAR-ROUND, LEARNING WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHILD OF MAGIC.
"WITH YOUR CHILDREN UNDER MY CARE, I, LORD VOLDEMORT, URGE MAGICAL BRITAIN TO SURRENDER. SURRENDER YOUR MINISTRY. SURRENDER THOSE WHO OPPOSE THE NEW ORDER OF MAGICAL BRITAIN AND MY BENEVOLENT RULE.
"MOODY, BLACK, LONGBOTTOM, BONES, GREENGRASS, POTTER AND THEIR ILK SHOULD BE HANDED OVER TO ME. EACH AND EVERY DAY THAT THEY REMAIN AT LARGE WILL BE ANOTHER DAY WHEN MY … DISPLEASURE WILL BE TAKEN OUT ON THE INNOCENT.
"TWENTY-FOUR HOURS FROM NOW, MY DELEGATION WILL ENTER THE MINISTRY OF MAGIC. AT THAT TIME, THE MINISTRY AND ALL OF ITS EMPLOYEES WILL BOW THEIR KNEES TO ME.
"FOR I, LORD VOLDEMORT, THE RULER OF MAGICAL BRITAIN, HAVE DECLARED IT TO BE SO."
Dozens of pops of apparition sounded throughout he platform as parents grabbed their youngest and fled the ominous message. Before long, all that was left were only those who were now lying prone, having fainted during the dire announcement, and those who had stayed to tend to them.
Petunia Dursley huddled in the corner of her little office, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible while still being in a position to hear what was happening.
The crowd that had gathered, not only in her domain, but in the Entrance Hall which offered even more space, had come at her insistence. She'd been listening to her tunes on the Wizarding Wireless Network as she finished up some of the last of the filing that needed to be done with the end of the school year when the song had been interrupted.
She'd looked up with a frown, an action that would have surprised her not that long ago – the fact that she'd come to enjoy the oddly worded songs not something that she'd ever thought that was possible. The announcement that came over the wireless was horrifying.
Apparently, the Hogwarts Express had returned from the ancient castle cum school devoid of students. In their place had come a bone-chilling message, a message that the evil wizard attacking the magicals and non-magicals throughout the country, had taken over the school and was holding the children there hostage.
Petunia's limited knowledge of Hogwarts was mostly decades old, harking back to the snippets that she'd overheard Lily telling their parents after she'd come home from nearly a year away. Knowing the importance of what she was hearing, Petunia had dashed off to find the closest staff – Minerva and Remus, both of whom who were in their offices just down the corridor.
She'd barely managed to get them to understand what she'd heard when their wands were in their hands and wisps of white ghost-like animals were sprinting away through the walls. The three had then rushed back to the wireless to listen to the announcements. With each passing minute, more and more of the staff and even some of the remaining students, had gathered.
Petunia could only watch as understanding dawned on each of their faces before morphing into either horror, anger, grief or one of the other myriad expressions that the announcements warranted. Many sunk into the nearest chair or just fell heavily to the floor.
"We now cross to the Atrium of the Ministry of Magic where Minster Umbridge is preparing to address the populace," the announcer said.
"Hem hem," a high girly voice began, "My fellow witches and wizards of Magical Britain. As I am sure that you are all aware, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was taken over by the Dark Lord, with all of the inhabitants of the castle – the entirety of the students and staff – coming under his authority.
"The Dark Lord's requests are very clear and straightforward: in order to avoid the spillage of any more magical blood, he has asked that certain members of our society be turned over to him. It is a well-known fact exactly where the majority of these people can be found: Diricawl Academy of Magical Studies.
"I urge the people named to come forth, to show your regard for the greater magical society and to turn yourself in to the Dark Lord. As my last act as Minister for Magic, I order those named – Alastor Moody; Sirius Black; Augusta Longbottom; Amelia Bones; Cyrus Greengrass and Harry Potter to be present in the Ministry of Magic's Atrium at the time that the Dark Lord's delegation arrives here. Failure to do so will result in you being charged with treason and a Kiss on Sight order will be signed for each and every one of you.
"I also, from this date and time onwards, declare Diricawl Academy of Magical Studies to no longer be a school and that its buildings and land have been seized by the Ministry of Magic. Any persons found at that location when the aurors arrive will be arrested and sentenced to jail.
"As I am sure that you heard, my fellow witches and wizards, those decrees are my last acts as your Minister for Magic. I hereby resign from my post in favour of the person that the Dark Lord deems best suited for the position. It has been my pleasure serving you all.
A fierce jab at the wireless by Minerva's wand turned the volume right down before she let off a small cannon-blast, effectively silencing the uproar that had erupted at Umbridge's speech.
"May I assume that none of you are interested in turning yourself in to the Ministry?" Minerva asked dryly.
"Not bloody likely," Sirius snorted.
"A vulgar but accurate statement," Augusta agreed.
"Ynys Crochenydd is Potter land," Harry stated fiercely. "Always has been, always will be. The Ministry can go stuff themselves."
"Have any of the students left yet?" Minerva asked.
"Not yet," Remus replied with a shake of his head. "There are a few scheduled to leave after dinner, the rest not until tomorrow morning."
"Unless we want to have our kids in the same position as the parents of the Hogwarts students, we should probably see if we can get the parents of our kids here," Filius stated. "I would not put You-Know-Who past the concept of holding the parents hostage to entice our students out from under our wards."
"A very good suggestion," Minerva agreed. "Sirius, Remus, if you could see what you can manage? This sounds like something your twisted Marauder minds could put to good use."
"Oi! We resemble that remark," a pair of tall red-heads said from the back of the crowd.
Sirius and Remus only spared each other a quick glance before nodding simultaneously.
"We could use your help, boys," Sirius said before turning to the two men standing alongside him. "Sorry, Dan, Mike, I think you guys would be best off staying here. Without the added advantage of magic, things could get a bit dangerous."
"Don't worry, Sirius, we'll find something useful to do," Mike said, clapping him on the back.
"Yeah, like making sure that the Security Wing is in lockdown while you're out," Dan added.
"Don't bother. Already done it," Mad-Eye Moody grunted as he stomped in through the doors. "Made that goblin of yours do it as soon as I got here. Mind you, I think he was planning on doing it anyway after that bleeding elf arrived."
"Elf? What elf?" Minerva asked.
Her question was answered by Chert as he arrived pushing a bound house elf along with the butt of his axe.
"This elf claims to have something for ya, Headmistress," Chert growled. "It's here against my better judgement."
"No, it's here because of mine," Mad-Eye stated. "That's a Hogwarts house-elf."
Minerva stepped forward.
"Is that correct? Are you a Hogwarts elf?" she asked.
"Yes, Mistress. I be Lizzie," the elf replied with as much of a curtsy as she could manage with the chains wrapped around her.
"Why are you here, Lizzie?" Minerva asked.
"Mistress Sprout ordered that Lizzie be bringing Mistress McGonagall the special book," Lizzie replied.
"Chert, please release her," Minerva asked.
Grumbling the entire time, the goblin complied.
"Now, what book did Pomona ask you to bring me?" Minerva asked once the elf was no longer bound.
With a snap of her fingers, Lizzie produced a massive leather-bound book with an elegant green-feathered quill and bottle of ink and floated it across to the Headmistress.
"Oh my," Minerva breathed as she stared wide-eyed at the items that had come to rest in her hands.
"Is that what I think it is?" Filius asked.
"The Muggle-born register," Minerva nodded. "The Hogwarts Founders tied this book into wards that they placed all over Britain. It detects underage magical children and is used to send the students their Hogwarts' letters."
"Doesn't the Ministry have something like that?" Harry asked. "I mean, they've got a department dedicated to detecting underage magic."
"Not like this," Minerva replied. "The Ministry's detector is tied into the Trace which is applied to wands when they are first purchased by underage wizards and witches. They cannot detect precisely who does magic without the Trace informing them."
A flash of flame high above their heads interrupted the lecture before it could go any further. As heads swivelled upwards, they were accompanied by sounds of awe directed at the magnificent red-gold bird the size of a turkey hovering there, wisps of flame alighting from his wings.
"Fawkes!" Harry cried happily.
Hearing his name, the phoenix swooped down before hovering just above Harry's head, a big box held in his talons. Fawkes' meaning was clear and Harry hastily lifted his arm to catch the box just before it was released. Then, task completed, Fawkes let himself drop, twisting around to land gracefully on Harry's shoulder.
"I'll take that, lad," Moody stated, taking the box from him. "We both know what's in it and how important it is."
"If Fawkes is here and not at Dumbledore's side, I fear that the castle has really fallen," Minerva stated sadly.
"But how could it? I thought that it was supposed to be the 'safest place in Britain'!" Hermione protested.
"Once upon a time, it was," Filius replied, his magical chair bobbing slightly as it hovered in mid-air. "But the wards had been allowed to degrade somewhat over the past few decades."
"And Dumbledore never upgraded them?" Augusta added. "As Headmaster it was his responsibility to do so."
"Albus always was a mite cocky," Moody grumbled, shaking his head. "The number of times I urged him to add anti-Dark Mark wards like this place has got is more than I can count. The old coot simply waved it off every time, saying some bleeding thing about how Hogwarts' wards had never been breached before."
"Well that's not something that anyone can say anymore," Harry stated grimly.
"But what's going to happen to the children still in the castle?" Emma asked, a question that Petunia and Susan both nodded to.
Dark looks were shared among all of the magical adults – each of them knew exactly what Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters were capable of, having lived through the last war.
"No! No, I refuse to believe that there's nothing that can be done," Harry stated forcefully. "We've spent the past year building this place and enjoying the school. We've learnt so much. But all of that's worthless if others are being held hostage or tortured or worse."
He looked around at everyone then, seeing everyone staring at him. It was a little unnerving but the fire in his belly at the thought of what the people that he knew, the kids his own age were possibly going through right then, while he was safe, pushed it aside.
"We have some of the best minds in the country right here," he continued. "Not to mention that we know the castle inside and out. We're going to come up with a plan. A plan to rescue everyone there. And then we're going to do what we need to do to make it so that we can finally deal with Riddle once and for all.
"The Ministry may have given in. But we haven't! And we never will!"
His impassioned speech brought smiles to some faces, expressions of fierce determination on others and even a feral grin to one or two. But one thing that all had in common, was the great cheer that erupted from the adults and students alike.
Harry looked around at them all, Hermione's hand locked in his, Fawkes the phoenix still perched on his shoulder crooning a magical uplifting song that wove around the crowd, and he couldn't help but feel their victory in his bones already. Now it was simply a case of coming up with the plan to make it all happen.
Look out, Riddle, we're coming for you, he thought ferally.
A/N – Thus ends Book 5 of the Cupboard Series: United We Stand … Chapter one of Book 6: Castle Voldemort will be out this time next week (I know that I usually release the final chapter of a book and the first of the next book at the same time, but I needed a little extra time for planning this time around). At this stage, I expect the series to wrap up at the end of Book 6, well, except, perhaps for an epilogue if there is a call / need for one.
I'd like to thank each and every one of you for reading, reviewing, Favouriting and Following United We Stand … Being as this is Book 5 in the series, it also tells me how many people have read the series all the way through and have enjoyed my drabbling's – it still amazes and humbles me every time I see the stats.
Thank you all and see you next week for chapter one of Book 6: Castle Voldemort.
NB – If you liked this story, check out my profile page where you can find all of my FanFiction stories. Also there is a link to my Facebook page and my website where you will find all of my original stories as well.