Chapter 11: Eclipsing

Gia and Hermione found themselves on a stone floor, it was raining outside the nearby windows.

"Are we dead?" Gia asked.

They sat up, then leaned back against the wall.

"I don't see our troublemakers," Hermione said, "Anyplace is definitely better than where we were."

"How did I get here?" Gia said, "As a muggle, I'm incapable-"

A tear flowed down Hermione's cheek.

"Harry was certainly capable," Hermione said, "Suppose, final tribute-"

"Are they dead?" Gia asked.

Hermione nodded. Approaching footsteps reverberated through the corridor. Hermione drew her wand, aimed it in the appropriate direction.

"Mrs. Weasley!" McGonagall rounded the corner. "Mrs. Potter!"

Hermione stashed her wand.

"I am certainly relieved to see you-" McGonagall said.

"They're dead," Gia said.

Color drained from McGonagall's face. "Who's dead?"

"Harry, Ron, and Snape," Hermione said, "Then suddenly, we're here, not there."

McGonagall helped Hermione and Gia up.

"I suggest we head to the Hospital Wing," McGonagall said.

Pomfrey came right over as they entered the Hospital Wing.

"They have been found," McGonagall said, "Mr. Notley-please come over."

Notley came over as Pomfrey started her examination.

"Please escort the Weasleys down here immediately," McGonagall said.

"Relax Hermione," McGonagall said, "You're safe-"

"We were abducted from this very castle!" Hermione said, "Two days after Professor Dumbledore dies, we have Professor Snape, Ron, and Harry go through the veil of Death and you say we're SAFE? "

Pomfrey hands went to Hermione's front, pressed onto her nipples. "How do these feel?"

"Aww!" Hermione yelped.

"Tired," Hermione said, "Understandable given the long day and what just happened-don't you have any sympathies?"

"Energetic? Exhausted?" Pomfrey asked, her wand sweeping Hermione.

Through the door came Notley with four red haired boys following him.

"Your last period?" Pomfrey asked.

"Excuse me?" Hermione asked.

"When was it?" Pomfrey asked.

"Light and last week," Hermione asked, "Why'd you care?"

"Minerva," Pomfrey said, "Some tea might help matters."

"Pumpkin juice," Hermione said.

"Orange juice for me," Gia said., "And I now understand Harry's aversion-"

"Wands and other checks only give half of the picture," Pomfrey said, "For proper diagnosis and care, asking the patient questions helps tremendously-keeps us from trying to perform a vasectomy on females-"

"Gah!" Notley spat.

"Just check them," Pomfrey said to Benjamin.

Notley grabbed his wand and started check both girls.

"I see what you mean," Notley said.

"What?" Hermione demanded.

"And where's-?" Fred started.

Both Hermione and Gia started to weep.

"What's going on?" Bill started, "Neville Longbottom came all hysterical to us-"

"Earlier this evening, Hermione and Gia were kidnapped from Hogwarts," McGonagall said, "Harry and Ron learned of this, they pursued. There has been no news since until I came across these two on the third floor. I have made no further inquiries after their news-until now."

"We were abducted by Seamus Finnigan this afternoon," Hermione said, "We found ourselves in the Death chamber at the Ministry, bound next to the veil-"

George trembled.

"Voldemort gloated over the brilliance of his trap," Hermione said, "He then executed Professor Snape-"

"Good riddance," Fred said, "Po-"

"Mr. Weasley!" McGonagall said, "It saddens all of us to hear this news. Severus was, at best, irritating, but his presence will still be missed."

"Harry and Ron showed up," Hermione said, "They tried curse after curse-Voldemort still stood-"

"Even a killing curse?" McGonagall asked.

Hermione nodded.

"We learned why-" Gia said.

"Guess they figured pushing him into the veil was their best chance," Hermione said, "It wasn't him though-just a projection. They went..." Hermione sobbed. "...in."

McGonagall slumped in her chair.

"Solid projection?" McGonagall asked.

Hermione nodded.

"They should have still worked-the curses, the fruit of Albus' research," McGonagall said, "Even on a solid projection-"

"A projection isn't him," Gia said.

"A solid projection of ones self acts as a mirror when cursed," Bill said, "They reflect back to the owner with the same damage. That's why they're typically avoided in combat."

McGonagall shook her head.

"He was supposed to have the power-yet he didn't," McGonagall said, "There has to be another explanation then or we're doomed. I certainly wish Albus were still with us right now, for we could use his insight."

"So our little Ronald is-he actually went through?" Bill asked.

"Both of them hit the curtain when we blacked out," Hermione said, "We found ourselves here-our best explanation is that Harry somehow did it."

"It saddens me to lose two fine students, their selfless sacrifice won't be forgotten nor trivialized," McGonagall said, "A memorial will be held tomorrow in the Great Hall..."

For a brief moment, a smile crept across her face.

"Professor!" Hermione snapped.

"My apologies," McGonagall said, "I just realized-that devil, Albus, he pulled it off. It wasn't his primary goal, but more of a parting shot should this have occurred."

George and Fred sat up.

"We're piqued," Fred said.

"We can count on You-Know-Who to publish the results in tomorrow's Daily Prophet," McGonagall said, "Therefore, Harry Potter will be legally declared dead."

"Goes without saying," Hermione said, "Not comforting in the least."

"During the first rise, ownership of Hogwarts was splintered among many," McGonagall said, "Albus consolidated that until he was the sole owner-it was necessary to retain control. Now, you remember the fuss with the Potter Family Trust and hiding the assets-Albus sold the castle to one Harry James Potter. Dying without a will, all of Harry Potter's assets are now the property of his spouse, the sole beneficiary."

George laughed. "Hogwarts is owned by a muggle!"

A small smile came across Hermione's face. "A little poetic justice-the most prestigious school in the wizarding world being owned by a muggle. Careful, without a beneficiary, Voldemort might-"

"Only before July," Pomfrey said.

"Excuse me?" McGonagall said.

"If all goes alright," Pomfrey said, "They will have next-of-kin in July-too early to tell if they'll be boys or girls though."

Hermione spun around on the end of the hospital bed she was sitting on.

"Pardon?" Hermione asked.

"While I can not fathom the how of it," Pomfrey said, "They are both certifiably pregnant, a month most on each."

"Pregnant?" Fred said, "I can't believe it-our little brother beat us to the punch!"

"Any hints to the identities of their fathers?" McGonagall asked.

"Professor!" Hermione snapped.

"Given that both of the husbands were castrated," McGonagall said, "such a question is warranted-"

George shook his head.

"They were fixed-by me! It was a professional job!" Pomfrey said, "Minerva, it's too early and now too risky to perform that charm-wait until late July or early August for the answer."

"There's been nobody else but Ron," Hermione said.

"Or Harry," Gia stated, "Don't feel ashamed, for your procedure did work, but he found a way to...erm...save them. Everybody was satisfied, including him."

"Let us not dawdle on this," McGonagall said, "Given that they've passed on, I think we should be happy and do everything we can to bring this miracle to a successful conclusion. For the record, they were indeed great sorcerers."

Fred looked at Hermione, then Gia.

"As far as we're concerned," Fred said, "Harry and Ron have simply gone on another adventure. Until they return, consider yourselves a part of our family."

McGonagall looked at Pomfrey.

"Poppy," McGonagall asked, "Did you say the end of July?"

"That's very possible," Pomfrey said, "Predicting the exact moment of birth is always a dicey thing to do."

"Another prospect then for the prophecy," McGonagall said, "By all means-these pregnancies are to be kept secret as long as we can."

"Oh!" Hermione said, "I think I understand-never thought of that possibility before."

"Don't think you would have," McGonagall said, "Assuming the examination is finished, let the Weasleys escort you back to your quarters."

Pomfrey nodded.

Sobbing could be heard in the common room of the topmost apartment in the north tower, Gia and Hermione had locked themselves in one of the bedrooms. On the furniture and standing about were Neville, Luna, Fred, George, Bill, Charlie, and Sirius. Nobody had clear eyes. Neville stared into the fireplace and its low fire.

"I'm sorry Harry," Neville said, "but Finnigan has to go, he must pay with his blood. I couldn't live with myself if I did nothing in response to his treachery-and he calls himself a Gryffindor, the shame."

"One by one, Weasleys are getting whittled out of existence," Bill said, "By all means possible-we will protect them."

"Finnigan and Malfoy will pay dearly," George said.

"So will Pettigrew," Sirius said.

"A pact, then," Fred said, "Protect those ladies and avenge our losses! Preserve-"

"Whoa!" Neville said, "Quiet-lemme think."

Eyes concentrated upon Neville.

"I think Voldemort just made his enemies more dangerous," Neville said, "I think none of us will rest."

Tissues littered the floor, carpeting it in layers and spots of light blues, light yellows, pinks, light greens, whites, and other assorted colors. A fresh tissue went up and mopped around Hermione's swollen eye. Gia sat on the bed, cross-legged, her red face stared up at Harry's Puddlemere United robes splayed on the wall of the bedroom.

"Why?" Gia muttered.

Hermione shook her head.

"Can't believe it," Gia said, "Him gone and me pregnant-don't recall...we used protection."

"How about after Halloween?" Hermione said, "All I remember is waking up with a hangover and, well-they should consider themselves lucky we didn't find out earlier!"

Gia snorted.

Gia woke first Tuesday morning, Hermione just after, both in the same bedroom. Gia paused on the threshold of the bed, tears flowed down her face. Hermione came over, sat down next to her.

"Missed him," Gia said.

"Me too, mine that is," Hermione said, "Had a funny dream with them last night."

"Really?" Gia said.

"They were debating if they were dead or alive." Hermione snickered. "That's them alright."

Gia looked up. "Glad you had something semi-decent. All I could dream about were variations to them going into the veil."

Mutterings and murmurs filled the Great Hall over breakfast. Everybody was reading the same copy of the Daily Prophet.

THE DAILY PROPHET

Tuesday, November 18, 1997

Potter Executed

Renegade Harry Potter and his pathetic side kick Ronald Weasley were executed last night at the Ministry of Magic, they were forced into the Veil of Death. The Lord Minister rescinded the Death Warrants issued two weeks ago stating that he has fulfilled the wishes of the people; he even rescinded the other Death Warrants that were issued for others under the Suspected Dark Wizards Control Act because their ring leader, Harry Potter, has been disposed of.

EM officials cheered and heralded the news. They stated that the bounties for Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley cannot be paid since it was the Ministry carrying out the executions, so the money backing the bounties will be donated to the St. Mungo's Victim's fund. EM President Seamus Finnigan has earned the thirty three million galleons for the capture of Hermione Weasley and Gia Potter, his role made the executions possible.

Albus Dumbledore, Dead

Ministry officials announced that Albus Dumbledore, formally Headmaster of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, passed away Saturday night. This once respected wizard fell into recent disgrace after backing the rising Dark Lord Harry Potter and supporting the insurrection at Hogwarts. Once heralded for ridding the world of Grindelwald, Albus Dumbledore's legacy will now be remembered as being a puppet for Harry Potter.

Minister is You-Know-Who

Extensive research has concluded that the current Lord Minister is none other than the feared You-Know-Who of old, and that, You-Know-Who has been granted universal authority in the wizarding world. A quick survey of the population revealed that not only were most people complacent regarding this news, they expressed hopes that You-Know-Who would eradicate the Potter problem - see the above headline.

Muggle Status

After considerable research, the Lord Minister has reclassified Muggles as intelligent beasts. Muggles have been determined to be over populating significant portions of the world, therefore the Lord Minister has implemented a new program to control the muggle population. Effective today, Muggle hunting licenses are now being issued.

Justin Prewett tugged at Neville's sleeve, Neville looked.

"Is Potter really dead?" Justin Prewett asked.

Neville nodded.

"We've really screwed ourselves over," Paul Prewett said, slumping his head onto the table.

TWEET, TWEET, TWEET!

Finnigan marched into the Great Hall, a party hat on his head, tossing out candy, and tooting on a kazoo.

"POTTER IS DEAD!" Finnigan shouted, "WE ARE SAFE NOW FROM POTTER! REJOICE FOR WE HAVE RIDDED OURSELVES OF EVIL! RE-"

"Quiet Mr. Finnigan." McGonagall entered the Great Hall.

Finnigan stood still as McGonagall stood up in front of the Great Hall. Students turned to her.

"A number of deaths have befallen upon Hogwarts," McGonagall said, "Headmaster Albus Dumbledore passed away Saturday evening, notification was delayed to bolster the safety of Hogwarts. Professor Severus Snape was killed last night by You-Know-Who. Two students, Mr. Harry Potter and Mr. Ronald Weasley, were both killed by-"

"Three cheers for their deaths!" Finnigan shouted.

"You have earned yourself a week of detention Mr. Finnigan," Flitwick said.

McGonagall took another breath.

"Their deaths will weigh upon most of us and they will certainly be missed," McGonagall said, "Until the Board of Governors convenes, I have assumed the role of Headmistress. Mr. Longbottom is now the Student Headmaster, while Mr. Ernie Macmillan resumes his previous role as Head Boy.

"You have all read the Daily Prophet by now, you should all consider the role that you have played in the matter. That is all."

McGonagall left the Great Hall along with all of the teachers.

"Down with Potter!" Finnigan shouted, "Great Day-!"

A tomato pummeled into Finnigan's backside.

"You monster!" Hannah Abbot shouted.

"You led them to their deaths!" Macmillan shouted.

"I thought-Potter was a monster!" Finnigan protested, "He had to go-"

"Only because you portrayed him as a monster." Wayne Hopkins stood, walked briskly past Finnigan allowing shoulders to collide. Hopkins continued.

"Excuse me-" Finnigan protested.

One by one, students stood, turned their backs to Finnigan, then walked out of the Great Hall; save the Slytherins who cheered as they left. Neville was still there, standing a few yards behind Finnigan.

"We're still friends," Finnigan said.

"Are you delirious?" Neville said, "Power corrupts and you're just the latest pawn. You sold and killed my true friends yesterday—you threw any chance of our friendship through that veil. You criminalized the truth, you killed those that failed to believe as you did, and you played everybody right into Voldemort's designs.

"I shall say this once, and only because we used to be friends. I hold you personally responsible for your role in this-especially last night. Spend your reward quickly-you are not going to survive the week."

"A threat?" Finnigan asked.

"An observation," Neville said, "Do not cross my path again."

Neville turned and left the Great Hall.

That afternoon, Moody and Shacklebolt stood in the back of the Great Hall, their wands at the ready. In front were McGonagall, Hermione, and Neville; to the side were the black dog of Snuffles. Within the hall were a number of students.

"As a number of you have found out, tattoos are meant to be permanent," McGonagall said, "Through extensive research, we believe that we can remove the tattoos from those that have changed your minds. This is entirely voluntary, so anybody who wishes to keep their tattoos are free to leave. I have been told that this remedy will produce a local inflammation that will last upwards of a week."

Hermione brought out a green slab with putty consistency. Macmillan lined up first in the line.

Neville woke Wednesday morning, looked out his bedroom window, and froze. Just beyond the fence and gates of Hogwarts were lined up thousands of people surrounding Hogwarts. Some were in dark robes, others were in shiny suits of armor.

"Bloody hell," Neville muttered.

Neville ignored his clothes left his bedroom.

"WAKE UP!" Neville yelled as he tripped over Snuffles in their common room.

Red heads stirred, looked up at Neville pounding on the bedroom doors.

"Somebody had better-" Hermione grumbled as she came out, herself cloaked with nothing save a blanket.

"It's urgent," Neville said, "Look out the windows!"

Fred ran into Neville's bedroom.

"Oh my!" Fred yelled.

Bill looked at the doorway, eyebrows arched.

"I am seeing the Headmistress," Neville said, "Hermione see to it that everything is packed and ready for evacuation."

"That serious?" Charlie asked.

"Though we could hope for it to go better," Fred said, "Won't hurt to get ready."

"What's-" Luna came out of her bedroom, her bathrobe cinched up, but her eyes focused upon Neville who had failed to dress.

Neville blushed as he saw her eyes dart straight down to his male assets.

"Finally!" Luna said, "A Crumple-Horned Snorkack!"

Neville summoned his dragon hide trousers and put them on before he lowered the ladder to leave the apartment, George followed. Luna looked upon Luna

"Get ready to leave Hogwarts," Fred said, "Prep-"

"Not without a nice hot shower first," Luna said, turning back into her bedroom.

Charlie rolled his eyes. "Make them quick!"

Neville and George, on the third floor making their way for the stairs to the second, came across a packed staff room. Much noise came from within.

"Can't be serious!"

"What does this mean?"

"Mr. Longbottom, Mr. Weasley."

Neville and George looked to see McGonagall approaching.

"Come on in," McGonagall said, "This concerns you as well."

Neville and George followed McGonagall into the staff room; it was full of people.

"Minerva," Pomfrey asked, "Is it as bad as it seems?"

McGonagall nodded.

"We have the manpower to mount a defence," Moody said.

"Only if we use some of the students," Tonks said.

"While keeping possession of Hogwarts for use as a fortress would be advantageous," McGonagall said, "Our first concern must be for the welfare of our students. All students must be evacuated as quickly and as soon as it is feasible. Those students who wish to stay may do so of their own accord, however, they are not to be informed of that option unless they protest leaving. All heads of houses should ensure that every student is packed and ready for evacuation-they may need to leave their less valuable possessions behind. Our attackers have given us two hours to entertain their demands."

"You aren't serious-?" Sprout asked.

"If they willingly give us two hours to spare," McGonagall said, "Then I shall take advantage of it-their terms are not acceptable though." She turned toward Neville. "Mr. Longbottom, please go down to Professor Snape's office, you know what to get."

Neville nodded, then left the staff room. He walked down the stairs into the Entrance Hall, heading for the dungeons. Up the other stairs was a party of people including the Weasleys, Snuffles, Hermione, Gia, and Luna.

"Neville!" Fred said.

"Have an errand," Neville said, with a frown on his face, "Hermione, I could use you-"

"Sure," Hermione said.

They all went down the stairs. They approached the door to the Potions dungeon, it was open a crack.

"Shh!" Luna whispered, "I hear something."

Shuffling could be heard from inside. Neville peeked through the crack, his eye focused on the two people; Finnigan was shoving flasks into a bag.

"Hurry," Malfoy said, "Can't keep our lord waiting."

"Like this stuff could actually work," Finnigan said.

"Professor Snape was the best Potions master around," Malfoy said, "Our lord thinks it'd-"

"FREEZE!" Neville yelled, charging in with his wand drawn.

Fast behind were Fred, George, Sirius, Bill, Charlie, Hermione, and Luna.

"Kill them!" Malfoy shouted at Finnigan.

Finnigan dropped the bag, flasks broke, letting an orange liquid cover the floor.

"Noooo!" Finnigan cried. His left arm struggled to try to restrain his right hand, his right grabbed his wand.

Malfoy threw an object to the floor, it spread smoke and steam filling the room. Bill chanted, the steam dissipated, Malfoy was gone. Finnigan withered on the floor. Sirius and Charlie moved, then stood over Finnigan with their wands aimed.

"Search!" Neville said, "There may be other flasks-we need them."

Fred and George went into the office with Neville.

"What does this potion do?" Fred asked.

"Harry's had a knack for apparating in and out of Hogwarts," Neville said, "This potion is supposed to convey that knack to whoever consumes it-the intent was to facilitate a quick evacuation of Hogwarts."

They searched the office then returned to the classroom.

"No luck back in there," Neville said, "Bill?"

Hermione shook her head.

"Luna, Hermione, Gia," Neville said, "Find Professor McGonagall, tell her that Malfoy snuck into the castle. Tell her that while he might have taken some, he managed to smash the other flasks rendering the escape potion unusable. We'll be along shortly."

"What about Finnigan's role-?" Gia asked.

"We're-" Neville said, "Wait, just tell her what happened, but report that Malfoy abducted him."

Hermione rolled her eyes.

"We're going to clean up," Neville said, "Hurry!"

"Boys!" Hermione left the dungeon.

Gia and Luna left. Neville closed the door, then turned his glare to the heap of cloth on the floor under which Finnigan laid trembling. A quick yellow glow spat out of his wand and encased the room.

"I told you to never cross my path again," Neville said.

"Couldn't resist!" Finnigan said, "Malfoy forced me-"

"You seemed pretty compliant to me," Neville said.

"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches," Finnigan asked, "Where does that come from? Malfoy told me-"

Color drained from Sirius' face.

"Sirius?" Bill asked.

"A prophecy," Sirius said, "One foretold before Harry's birth."

"The Dark Lord will win," Finnigan said, "He's the Minister and he killed Potter-who should've told us-"

Neville pulled Finnigan up by his collar, slammed him against the wall.

"Blaming Harry?" Neville demanded, "Did you finally realize he was right?"

Finnigan nodded.

"It's too late for you," Neville said.

Neville threw Finnigan down onto the floor, inside their circle. Finnigan moved, Fred and George pulled him up, held him firm. Sirius grabbed Finnigan's wand and snapped it.

"You killed Harry," Neville said.

"You killed my godson," Sirius said.

"You killed our father," Bill said.

"Our brother Percy," Charlie said while passing a hunting knife to Neville.

"Our sister Ginny," Fred said.

"Our brother Edward," George said.

"Our brother Ron," Bill said.

"My friend Remus Lupin," Sirius said.

"Harry's friend Hagrid," Neville said, "Justin Finch Fletchley, Padma Patil, Pavarti Patil, Lavender Brown-all Gryffindors!"

"You got them castrated for the crimes of others," Charlie said.

"Doesn't excuse your murdering ways!" Finnigan said.

"You will be my FIRST," Sirius said.

"It's Potter's fault for not telling-!" Finnigan protested.

"He tried repeatedly-nobody listened," Neville said, "And you saw to that on penalty of death!"

Finnigan trembled.

"You'll be in trouble!" Finnigan said.

"We're about to be overrun!" Fred said, "Options abound-"

"It's blood on you!" Finnigan protested.

"Having been jailed for murders I didn't commit," Sirius said, "I've already paid the time."

"It's time for you to reap what you sowed," Charlie said.

Charlie ripped his knife through Finnigan's clothes and then Bill removed them.

"Eye for an eye, blood for blood," Bill said.

Neville ran the tip of the knife lightly scratching Finnigan's pale skin. The tip of the blade poked into the thigh as Finnigan struggled, blood trickled down.

"Any last words?" Neville asked.

Finnigan trembled as he struggled. Neville rested the tip of the knife on top of the snake.

"No!" Finnigan protested.

Bill and Charlie held Finnigan's legs firm.

"You no longer need these." Neville reached and castrated Finnigan.

Finnigan howled.

"Don't relish death," Sirius said.

"I'm not," Neville said, "Rather, I want him to get a taste of what he did to Harry."

Neville stomped on the wads of flesh on the floor.

"Finnigan helped murder Harry," Neville said, "He did it one piece at a time."

"I was tricked!" Finnigan protested.

"You're still liable for your own actions," Sirius said, "However, we need to be fast, lest we get caught."

Sirius took the knife and steadied it. Within moments, they all had shared the knife, making cuts and alterations. Blood covered the floor surrounding the butchered carcass of Finnigan.

"We'll dispose of it," Fred said.

George nodded.

With flicks of their wands, the corpse was transfigured into a painting of Snape, then hung it on the wall. Bill and Charlie cleaned up the blood with cleaning charms.

"Somebody talk to the House Elfs about cleaning," Neville said.

They left the dungeon.

Neville encountered the crowd streaming into the Great Hall. After him, the Weasleys and Snuffles joined in. The Great Hall was filled with students, McGonagall was at the front of the hall.

"Everybody, please remain calm," McGonagall said, "Over the night, especially in the past two hours, this castle and its grounds have been besieged, surrounded, by hostile forces. We have been able to engage them in negotiation; though their terms are wholly unacceptable, it does give us time.

"This term, this school year, is suspended until further notice. All students are to start evacuating in a few moments-"

"What about our trunks?" Paul Prewett asked.

"Do you value your head?" Tonks asked.

"Your lives are at stake, ignore that which can be replaced," McGonagall said, "In the next few moments, Professor Tonks and I will teach you the Disillusionment Charm-you will need to master this charm now."

Tonks and McGonagall quickly moved into the crowd.

Neville turned to Hermione. "We know it, so let's help."

Hermione nodded. Along with Neville and Hermione, the Weasleys helped. Twenty minutes later, some students were practicing, some were watching, and others were chatting.

SHATTER!

Windows of the Great Hall shattered, the glass falling down in splinters, some fell onto students, while other shards fell outside. Curses reached inward, like fingers searching, they moved around, a second year Ravenclaw collapsed upon contact with one of the tentacles.

"Leave the hall immediately!" McGonagall said, "Miss. Tonks, please escort-"

"Yes," Tonks said, leading the way out of the Great Hall.

Students left by means of the ground level corridor, McGonagall walked along.

"We are evacuating," McGonagall said, "All students who have their own brooms are to get them. There are three evacuation points, from which, you are to move as fast as you can across, past the invaders, and into the forests. From there, make your way home-may good fortune look favorably upon us today."

"That's it?" Paul Prewett asked, "Run?"

"Unfortunately, all other methods have been blocked off from us," McGonagall said, "Portkeys are being intercepted-we already lost Professor Flitwick. Apparation cannot be done. The Floo Network, if it were available, would not be usable for us. As to siege or surrender-our attackers have promised slaughter."

"Running is exposed," Paul Prewett said.

"We will do our best to provide cover," McGonagall said, "but once you leave the castle, do not attempt to return unless you hear from us. I wish the best of luck to you all."

McGonagall wiped at the corner of her eye.

"We will evacuate by years," McGonagall said, "First then second, and so on. Please line up at the three exits - those with brooms, get them and return."

Students went every which way, McGonagall approached Neville.

"Mr. Longbottom," McGonagall said, "You and Mr. Macmillan will assist at the front entrance. Mrs. Hermione Weasley, assist the Weasley twins on the east entrance. Miss. Lovegood, you will assist myself and Alastor Moody. Mrs. Potter, accompany Snuffles to the Hospital Wing; they will need assistance until they're able to evacuate. Our job will be to distract the attackers away from the students, use any means necessary. Once rest of the students have been evacuated, leave yourself-we will regroup elsewhere. Fred and George Weasley, you are authorized to pull whatever magic you can to create diversions - that includes fireworks."

Hermione shook her head. "A blank check-"

"Circumstances require it," McGonagall said, "Even Molly Weasley would understand."

Gia entered the Hospital Wing. Pomfrey came over to her.

"I'm supposed to help-" Gia said.

"Just stand there for the moment." Pomfrey waved her wand.

"Pesky, pesky-" Gia said.

"I reserve the right to fuss," Pomfrey said, "Please help Mr. Notley with packing."

Pomfrey put away her wand, Gia walked over to Notley.

"We're preparing to evacuate," Notley said, "Grab what you can."

"I am needed throughout the castle," Pomfrey said, "I shall return."

Pomfrey left the Hospital Wing.

The roof of Gryffindor Tower caught fire from the curses of the attackers; the greenhouses shattered their glass before collapsing; the Quidditch Pitch had already been destroyed.

"They're intent on destruction," McGonagall said, "Start evacuating."

Moody turned to the students lining to exit to the east.

"Go as fast as you can," Moody said.

Luna, McGonagall, and Moody drew wands. McGonagall threw out a white sphere that generated a fog running forth.

"Go!" McGonagall ordered.

The first year Gryffindor ran. McGonagall, Moody, and Luna kept throwing curses at the attackers, drawing the fire away from the escaping student.

George flipped out a firework that grew into a large werewolf.

"Nobody-hold on," Fred said.

"Keep them guessing." George watched as a first year Hufflepuff came up.

To the north, Fred and George released some fireworks that grew into gigantic life-like dragons. The attackers cursed at the dragons while the first year Hufflepuff ran.

At the normal entrance, Ernie and Neville stood to either side of the door; they fired and cursed outward. The first year Ravenclaw disillusioned himself and ran.

All the windows had been broken, the offices burned with flames leaping out of the brick framed openings. The southern portion of the Forbidden Forest was on fire after the attackers noticed students escaping into the forest. Hagrid's Hut was a rubble heap. The last of the seventh years passed out of the east exit.

"Now we go," McGonagall said.

"What about the others?" Luna asked.

"I hope they make it too," McGonagall said, "Run Miss. Lovegood."

Luna ran across the grounds, under the fog, followed closely by Moody and McGonagall.

The North Tower collapsed, the last of the students passed out of the north exit.

"Just us now," Fred said.

"Gia-" Hermione protested.

"Hope Snuffles gets her out," George said, "Hogwarts is going now!"

Fred got out a broom, pulled Hermione on as he mounted. George mounted his own broom. They flew as fast as they could, in the middle of the rapidly growing swamp that was devouring some of their attackers.

Ernie and Neville paused after the last of their students passed out of the front doors. They returned to the ruin of the Great Hall; all that was standing were the four arches.

"Shame," Ernie said.

"Better go," Neville said as he saw the House Elfs fleeing.

Holes in the floor gave way to the ruined kitchens below. Stones fell inward.

"Shall we run?" Ernie asked.

"This way," Neville said, "I do have an escape."

Neville led Ernie to the cliffs, then climbed down the stairs. As they descended, brick and stone continued to collapse above. Trees and shrubs lining the lake either burnt or rapidly turned brown as they withered. Blue of the lake was being replaced by a quick spreading red color. Dead Merpeople floated in the water. The Giant Squid laid on the bank, perishing, but escaping the boiling of the adjacent water.

"Damn!" Ernie said.

In front of them, Sir. Nicholas absorbed a curse and vaporized into nothingness.

"Hurry!" Neville said, as they approached the lake.

"This isn't an escape," Ernie said.

"It is-" Neville said, "Here."

Neville lead Ernie to the boat, the cabined speed boat he had been using for the past couple of months.

"I've never seen this before," Ernie said as he boarded the boat.

"You shouldn't have either," Neville said, "It is our escape."

Neville closed the doors. Ernie sat on one of the side lengthwise benches, trunks were under them. Neville sat in the captain's chair and pressed the green button.

"Hurry," Ernie said.

The boat leapt into the air above a rapidly vaporizing lake. Trees and grounds were aflame, illuminating the sky, transforming the darkness of the smoke above back into day. The boat flew, away from the melting and smoldering rubble heap surrounding the four arches of the Great Hall, away from the ruins formerly known as Hogwarts, the ruins atop of cliffs landsliding downward.

THE DAILY PROPHET

Thursday, November 20, 1997

Hogwarts Insurgency Quelled

The Lord Minister is pleased to announce that the seditious insurgency at Hogwarts has been quelled.

Yesterday, the Lord Minister was forced to lay siege upon the stronghold of the terrorist insurgency at Hogwarts, an action that the Lord Minister said was unfortunately necessary to handle the treasonous bastards. As a parting gesture, the terrorists scuttled Hogwarts into waste, bringing to an end a treasured thousand year tradition of the wizarding world. These terrorists are still at large including Minerva McGonagall, Hermione Granger, Gia Prescott, Ernie Macmillan, Neville Longbottom, and Fred and George Weasley.

Unfortunately, numerous students of Hogwarts are missing and presumed killed by the insurgents.

Malfoy Appointed as Press Secretary

Draco Malfoy, son of the late respected Lucius Malfoy, has been appointed by the Lord Minister as the official Press Secretary for the Ministry of Magic. Malfoy recently earned honorary NEWTs in recognition of his excellent and unblemished academic record.

EM President, Seamus Finnigan, Missing

EM President, Seamus Finnigan, is missing and presumed dead in the aftermath of the Hogwarts insurgency. Trapped by the treasonous forces within, Finnigan, a seventh year student, was unable to escape the Potter friendly environment until the Lord Minister sent his forces to quell the riot. Unfortunately, Finnigan could not be located after the insurgency was quelled, therefore, the Ministry is forced to conclude that he fell victim to the Weasley tyranny.

"Blimey!" Ernie exclaimed as their boat submerged.

"Never reveal this place to any other soul," Neville said, "Not that you could do it voluntarily anyways."

"Where is this? This place?" Ernie asked.

"You'll see," Neville said, "A refuge from the world at large."

"Is this where-?" Ernie said, "Oh, nobody would've thought of this."

The boat sped along. Ernie rubbed his eyes as the boat surfaced in the boat room of the bunker.

"You'll get used to it," Neville said, heading for the door of the boat, walking past the trunks upon the benches.

Ernie left the boat, then peered into the water as he walked along the dock.

"You can't swim out," Neville said.

"Just so dark-" Ernie said.

"Can't be helped," Neville said.

Neville escorted Ernie in, then up the stairs into the living room.

"This is small," Ernie said.

"Has to be," Neville said.

Neville stepped into the kitchen, then placed a pewter cauldron on top of the counter; Ernie took a step back.

"Longbottom," Ernie said, "You don't have a good reputation when it comes to Potions."

Neville snorted; then, after preparing a few roots, put them into the cauldron along with some water.

"I thought I was horrible," Neville said, "Gia-she helped."

"Harry's muggle?" Ernie said, "She knows nothing-"

"Could spot Professor Snape as the crank he is," Neville said, "Not a witch, but she does know stuff."

Ernie glanced at the sheet of paper on the counter.

"Complicated," Ernie asked, "Rather I did-?"

"Nope," Neville said, "Harry explained it to me, not you."

"What's it-?" Ernie asked.

"Floo tap," Neville said, "With it, you can monitor the Floo Network. Harry managed it, but with it being rebuilt-"

"So he did mess with-" Ernie said.

"He watched as people were murdered in it," Neville said, "He had to stop it."

Ernie thumbed the Ministry: Transportation book laying on the counter.

"This is illegal to possess!" Ernie said, "And here I thought-"

Neville glared at Ernie.

"The fact that he lived was illegal!" Neville exclaimed, "To defend himself against attack, murder was illegal! Just as it's illegal for me to defend myself, to attempt to live when everybody else wants me dead! Get yourself associated with us and you'll be illegal as well!"

"Still-" Ernie said.

"Still what?" Neville said, "Don't you get it? The entire system was rigged against us by Voldemort! We figured breaking his rules wasn't the worst of infractions-instead, we changed the rules. Under our rules, gathering intelligence is legal. Under our rules, carrying your wand for self defense is legal. Under our rules, living is legal."

"So you just dismissed their rules?" Ernie asked.

"After a point, we had to," Neville said, "The stakes have risen so much that either we're able to win, so either minor trespasses are forgiven, or we're killed, so it wouldn't matter anyways. They made the rules irrelevant."

Ernie paced the small living room.

"Cramped," Ernie said, "One could go crazy here."

"It had to be small," Neville said, "Point is to survive-undetected."

"Survival is all that counts?" Ernie said, "I thought I had respected Potter-"

"Survival matters in that we can't act if we're dead," Neville said, "Harry...he deserves all of our respects. He never murdered. He never killed if it could be avoided-admittedly, his nerves got a bit raw. He never stole. You can't say the same, especially after endorsing the Ministry stealing the contents of Harry's vaults, the inheritance from parents that were murdered and stolen from him years ago, not to mention the list of friends and acquaintances that have been stolen from him in the past year. Harry had morals and lived by them, I could trust him with my life, and I could trust him not to squander it.

"It's a damn shame he's gone. Sixteen years ago, Voldemort sought out to murder Harry, and, with the help of the Wizarding World, managed to finish his deed."

Neville put the cauldron to the side, letting the self-stirring spoon work at the yellowish mixture. He then walked around the counter into the living room, and laid on the sofa. Ernie sat on a plush arm chair.

"Can't believe Hogwarts is gone," Ernie said, "Thought it'd last forever."

"Nothing lasts forever," Neville said, "With magic, you can extend the life of something, but not into eternity."

"Just how many Ministry books do you have?" Ernie said, "Illegal to possess if I recall correctly."

"Ron apparently managed to get all save number one," Neville said, "So, that's thirty five of thirty six. When the world's out to get us, having those help."

"No kidding," Ernie said.

"Will she be alright?" Sirius paced across the living room.

Notley nodded, his wand hovered as he repaired the cuts on Gia's abdomen.

"The baby?" Sirius asked.

"Fortunately, the cuts were shallow," Notley said, "You do need to relax though, Gia-"

"Relax?" Sirius exclaimed, "Harry's dead, Hogwarts gone, people out to kill-"

"Stress and pregnancy do not mix well," Notley said, "As you pointed out, Harry is dead-so, lets see this through."

Sirius sighed. "Pregnant and so young, just seems wrong somehow; too bad Harry missed the news, though I doubt he'd take it better than his father did. Glad we pinned that incident onto Snape's lap."

Gia snickered.

"Yeah," Notley said, "Half the fun in announcing a pregnancy is watching the father-to-be react to the news."

Gia rolled her eyes. Sirius looked out the window, across the darkness underneath the raining clouds above.

"We will protect you while you're in our care," Sirius said, "Harry meant much to me, you do too, and, being the great-godfather, your to-be kid. Awfully young-"

"I'm seventeen!" Gia protested.

Sirius sipped his cup of tea, the flicker of lightening cast shadows in the darkened room.

"True, you're seventeen," Sirius said, "Far too young to have to commit, too young to really start a family; you're in the prime of your own youth and you're sacrificing more than you know-"

"So you think I'm too young-?" Gia protested.

Notley handed Gia a cup of tea, then sat in a chair himself.

"Don't get me wrong," Sirius said, "I'm happy you and Harry found happiness while he was still with us. It's just unusual to find ones soulmate at the age you two did, then even more unusual to get married so young, that's all.

"I think Ron had the gist of it, much earlier than either Dumbledore or myself did-you and Harry owe a lot to Ron, he did far more to protect your relationship that you'll every know."

"How so?" Gia said, "He was Harry's friend, he prodded Harry from time to time, but that's it, I thought."

Sirius shook his head.

"It went further than that," Sirius said, "It took a while, but Ron made Dumbledore keep his distance, made us understand that with all that was happening, arry found sanctuary from it in your relationship. If he weren't getting slammed, you and him, well, it wouldn't have gone so fast, or it might not have gotten as far as it did. Tricky, relationships, we'll never know for certain."

Notley riffled through some papers on an adjacent end table.

"Nice conversation, but," Notley said, "we may have more pressing matters, like where to spend the night."

"It was quite clear that the owners would be gone for weeks," Sirius said, "That gives us time to hide out."

Notley shook his head. "According to this, at least one of their party will be returning tomorrow-early. Now, they seem to have used the railway, so a station shouldn't be too far."

Sirius paced.

"I do have a place I inherited in London," Sirius said, "We could hide there, but we need to use muggle transport."

"We'd be using the western highlands service," Gia said, "Those trains aren't as frequent as we'd like."

"We can't stay out in the open for long," Sirius said.

"I'll go to the station now." Notley stood and made for the door.

Rain poured, streamed down the sides of the windows of the railcar; the second of two, the wheels clacked along the single line of track, as the barren landscape could be seen through the dampened sunlight. A far peak to the right was illuminated by a few rays of light eluding the clouds above. Gia sat next to the window; Notley sat next to her, with Snuffles at their feet.

"Funny," Gia said, "I'd gotten so used to poof."

Notley snorted.

"That certainly was convenient," Notley said, "However, caution is advised; how it'd impact your baby is unknown, I'm not even aware of how he managed to bring you along in the first place when it's supposed to be fatal to muggles, and it might be detectable by unfriendlies."

"Fatal?" Gia asked.

Notley nodded.

"Yet I-" Gia said.

"How he pulled it off-he took that with him," Notley said, "I'm impressed he managed it."

The trained clacked along, across the Rannoch Moor nestled in between the ridges to either side, water of the frequent creeks flowing into the lochs on their right. It traversed the Bridge of Orchy, then passed the station of Tyndrum before joining up with another pair of railcars from Oban at Crianlarich. It kept traveling south through places like Tarbet, Helensburgh, Dumbarton, Clydebank, and then into the Glasgow Queen Street Station.

"Calm," Gia said, "However, Waterloo is bigger."

"Remember-low profile," Notley whispered.

Snuffles followed them down out onto the streets as they made their way to to Glasgow Central. In a short while, they made their way through the crowds and onto a London bound train.

"Wish we could've gotten a sleeper," Gia said.

"Low profile," Notley said, "Paying for a sleeper doesn't do that."

Notley made his way up and down the train, then pulled Gia along into the nearly empty quiet railcar. As the train traveled through Motherwall, just south east of Glasgow, Notley steadied Gia's hand as he saw a Dark Mark rising in the distance. Three hours later, the train passed Lancaster, several Dark Marks appeared on the horizon. They all entered the lavatory; Notley locked the door, and Snuffles transformed.

"I definitely don't like all these Dark Marks we're seeing," Notley said.

"Nor me," Sirius said.

"Anyway to see if they're ahead of us?" Gia asked.

Notley shook his head.

"Any magic would call attention to us," Sirius said.

"I'm not saying magic," Gia said, "If there's problems ahead, certain people would notice-delays and the sort, even if the real reason's being covered."

"Next stop is Preston," Notley said, "Suppose we could step out for air and take the next coach."

"What if they attack the next coach?" Sirius said.

"We've likely been seen on this coach," Gia said, "That could leak."

"Taking main lines is risky-but we've got too much ground to cover on the slow lines," Notley said.

"I am hungry," Gia said, "I'd rather not do the train service either."

"That settles it," Sirius said, "Stop off at Preston, I could do with some fish and chips myself."

They walked up the approach to the station, to the bridge across the railway, turning right on Fishergate. They looked south to see a Dark Mark rising from the moving train, the one they had just left.

"Suppose it's become too common," Gia said.

"Looks that way," Notley said.

They made their way along Fishergate, then took their fish and chips to Miller Park, along the River Ribble. They could see wizards apparating in about a half mile to the south to deal with the smoldering wreck of a train.

"That'll take a while to clear," Gia said.

"We could detour," Notley said, "Take a train to Blackpool and wait until tomorrow to continue."

Snuffles shook his head.

"Get a map," Gia said, "We could walk to the next station or two, to elude this trap."

"I don't want to stress-" Notley said.

"Better that than dead," Gia said, "Besides, we need not run."

After finishing their fish and chips, they got up.

It was late Friday when they walked down Grimmauld Place in London; they paused in the shadows where Snuffles transformed into Sirius.

"Number twelve," Sirius said

Sirius transformed and led the way.

Hermione paced across the living room of Lee Jordan's place a few miles from Hogsmeade that Friday evening. Smoke came from the kitchen; George came out with singed eyebrows. Hermione snickered for a moment.

"You seem, preoccupied, Hermione, George said, "You should lay down."

"It's been two days-we don't even know anything!" Hermione said, "We need to get everybody back together, to try again."

George pushed on Hermione's shoulder, bringing her to sit on the sofa.

"We don't know either," George said, "I trust they're trying to find safe places too-or, at least keep low profiles. Like us, they've been labeled as terrorists."

"Welcome to the regime endorsed by most of the wizarding population," Hermione said, "Certainly wasn't my choice."

"Hermione-it wasn't endorsed by most of the wizarding population," George said, "It's merely that most didn't bother to exercise their choice until it was too late, and by then, it was best, in their self-interest, to shut up."

"They have a duty to ensure that their world doesn't fall apart into shambles," Hermione said.

"It's easier to ignore the problems than to deal with them," George said, "And it's much easier to let others deal with it-not saying it's right, but it's habit."

Hermione huffed.

"Care for a canary cream?" George asked.

Hermione glared. George stood.

"Even though your world seems to be falling apart," George said, "Make the bast of what you have."

"We need to regroup, fight back," Hermione said, "We need focus though."

"If it helps," George said, "We could go back and pick through the ruins."

Hermione looked up.

"The siege is over," Hermione said.

George returned to the kitchen.

McGonagall re-read the Daily Prophet in the common area of their letted three bedroom apartment. Pomfrey saw a car accident in the streets below and got up.

"Hold it Poppy," McGonagall said, "The Muggles can handle it-"

"And if they can't?" Pomfrey asked.

"We cannot afford to draw attention to ourselves," McGonagall said.

Luna brought a tray of tea and biscuits into the room.

"Thank you Miss. Lovegood," McGonagall said, "Hopefully the train situation can clear long enough to send you home."

"As I have said before Professor," Luna said, "I wish to join the fight-running away to St. Ottery does not appeal to me. It does not matter where I run to, danger will be all around me."

An owl swooped into the apartment, dropping off a letter at McGonagall's hands.

"This certainly does not keep a low profile," McGonagall said.

McGonagall opened the letter, her eyes scanning.

"Minerva?" Pomfrey asked.

"It's from Mr. Fred Weasley," McGonagall said, "The ruins are accessible and Mrs. Hermione Weasley is safe with them."

"So we go back?" Luna asked.

"We could use the help sorting through the rubble," McGonagall said, "We will leave early in the morning."

Some clouds were in the sky Saturday morning, breaks of sunlight shone through, over the charred and missing grass. McGonagall lead Hermione, Luna, Pomfrey, Fred, and George through the tarnished and limp gates. A carriage followed, clunking on the overturned bricks, up the road toward the smoldering heap. Bodies were scattered about. Fred and George offered nose plugs, the others grabbed them.

McGonagall gasped and stopped. To the left was the remains of Professor Flitwick. Pomfrey waved her wand and conjured a white sheet over him.

"Keep magic to a minimum," McGonagall said.

Fred's jaw dropped, George stopped and pointed at the former Quidditch Pitch; the hoops laid, melted, on the ground, the stands were now heaps of burnt timbers, and the pitch itself had collapsed inward to become a pool of red blood. Luna tripped over a body, stumbled, and looked down.

"Morag?" Luna gasped.

They all stopped to look at the remains; the slit throat, the broken limbs, positioned as if his corpse had been tossed aside. Pomfrey conjured another white sheet.

"What a waste," Pomfrey said.

McGonagall led on, passing corpse after corpse on the grounds of Hogwarts; people they recognized especially now-former students Emma Dobb, Eloise Midgen, Sally-Ann Perks, Ritchie Coote, Victoria Frobisher, Geoffrey Hooper, Jimmy Peakes, Demelza Robins, Romilda Vane, Stewart Ackerly, Orla Quirke, Kevin Whitby, and many others.

"If only Mr. Malfoy did not trash that potion..." McGonagall said.

They came to a halt at the threshold of the burnt stones of the remains of Hogwarts, nothing rose higher than six feet. Just inside where the Entrance Hall used to be were two bodies, male and female.

"Alastor Moody and-" McGonagall said.

"Madam Pince!" Hermione exclaimed.

McGonagall raised her right hand.

"This is a recovery effort," McGonagall said, "Recover what you can, but do not take unnecessary risks. There are bound to be hazards."

Hermione and Luna searched until they found a green bound book under a brick, The Beaters' Bible, Hermione snickered.

"Ron'd love this." Hermione placed it on top of a knapsack.

"Looks like we found it," Luna said, piling up more books.

"At least not all has been lost," Hermione said, "The Hogwarts Library-essential."

Hermione and Luna pulled out more and more books.

"Miss. Granger!" McGonagall came over the rubble to the pile of books. "You are aware that those are the property of Hogwarts-"

"Which is under ruins," Hermione said, "Until we rebuild, with your permission, I'll safeguard the collection. We've recovered more than half of the books with only minor damage, a third more are in need of repair."

McGonagall picked up a red book.

"I suppose they will need to be properly stored and tended to for the moment," McGonagall said, "Keep good care for them Mrs. Weasley-this seems to be the only good news of the lot-absolute carnage!"

McGonagall stood there, on top of loose rubble. Hermione and Luna were still digging through stone, carefully moving each stone to the side, gathering each book, or remains thereof. Fred was a hundred meters away on the rubble, he was removing Quidditch gear from the remains of Oliver Wood's office. George was stumbling on the broken stones as he was working through the confiscated items of Filch's office; his eyes occasionally wandered to the beaten but well oiled chains.

Rattle, Rattle.

George looked at the chains, then looked back at the ever-pro yo-yo he was lifting out of the drawer.

SNAP!

George jumped, the back of his shirt sported a new tear on his left shoulder, exposing reddened skin below.

"Ow!" George yelled.

"Do not go through those cabinets!"

George turned around; he confronted the short man with lamp like eyes, who was carrying a dead Mrs. Norris with lifeless yellow eyes in his left arm, and a whip in his right.

"You're dead!" George exclaimed, pointing to the corpse laying thirty feet away.

"No kidding? Suppose you thought it perfect time to plunder through my cabinets!"

"And you're a squib!" George shouted.

SNAP!

George jumped back, his hand instinctively grabbed for the new tear on the right side of his shirt, he attempted to cover the new cut.

"Disappointed that I just enough magic to turn into a ghost? Caught thieving and pillaging, that's worth twenty lashings-"

"I'm not a student!" George protested.

"Trespassing then? While on the premises of Hogwarts, you are still subject to its rules-which means lashings!"

George ducked to the side, the whip missed.

"Avoiding your punishments-it could be some time with the chains instead!"

George leveled his wand.

"I'm warning you Filch!"

"Are you going to kill me? I'm so scared!"

"Professor!" George shouted.

McGonagall came over.

"Filch," George said, "Better lay off-"

"In possession of prohibited objects," Filch said, "Worth many lashings-"

"Mr. Filch-" McGonagall said.

A brief cackle filled the air.

"Peeves!" McGonagall leveled her wand, the figure changed.

"Peeves!" George said, "I promise to get you-"

"Looks like I got you first!" Peeves cackled as he left.

McGonagall turned to George.

"Mr. Weasley," McGonagall said, "Though he was pranking, Peeves was correct, there are better things to do than to pilfer Mr. Filch's things. With the limited daylight left, we should be focusing on recovering items of use in our struggle, like the contents of Albus Dumbledore's private library and other artifacts from the ruins of the Headmaster's office."

George turned to the remains of the tower; with McGonagall's assistance, they first removed the roof shingles over and into another heap.

Shadows were growing longer as the sun was drooping lower into the sky. George and McGonagall had a big pile of books in the middle of a courtyard. She then glanced at Hermione and Luna, with hardly a single book in their pile.

"What gives?" George asked.

"I said to keep the magic to a minimum," McGonagall said.

McGonagall walked back over to Hermione, she stumbled for a moment over some self-turning bricks.

"Mrs. Weasley," McGonagall said, "Magic to store the books-"

"I'm not," Hermione said as she dropped a yellow bound book into a small cauldron where it disappeared.

"Excuse me?" McGonagall asked.

"This was the mail cauldron Professor Dumbledore made for me," Hermione said, "I'll retrieve the books from the other side later."

"Clever," McGonagall said.

"I see you are piling up some books over there," Luna said.

"That was Professor Dumbledore's private collection-" McGonagall said.

"I doubt he would object if I took care of it until we rebuild," Hermione asked, "Will Hogwarts be rebuilt?"

"That remains to be seen," McGonagall said, "The level of destruction is appalling. Given the losses, it would be quite reasonable if a new school with a new name were located elsewhere. The inhumanity of it all-a third of the escaping students were killed, did you realize that?"

Hermione swallowed. "A third?"

"Two thirds of the House Elfs did not escape either," McGonagall said, "Nor Professors Vector and Sprout."

"Little hope of that news getting into the Daily Prophet, is there?" Hermione said, "Let's collect Dumbledore's books now."

Hermione put the last book of the library into her cauldron, then carried it over to the remains of the Headmaster's office.

Bill came into the flat of Lee Jordan, waving the Daily Prophet.

"Can you believe this dragon fodder?" Bill exclaimed.

Hermione took the paper, a frown came across her face.

THE DAILY PROPHET

Monday, November 24, 1997

Blood Acts Passed

The Wizengamot has officially passed the Blood Acts which should restore dignity to all wizard kind. Effective immediately, status is based upon purity, the cleaner the greater the status. Using the accompanying insert, one can determine their own grade based upon the documented lineage of their parents, grand parents, and successive generations. A wizard pure to four generations would be grade 4, while a wizard pure to sixteen generations would be grade 16. Generally, a person of lower grade will be required to yield to persons of higher grade.

"Suppose this one was proposed by a person named Malfoy," Hermione said, "It certainly has his fingerprints all over it."

"Nice catch phrase-documented," Fred said, "Gets him around the nasty rumor that he isn't quite as pure as he'd like to believe."

"This was just an irritant," Bill said, "I came with news from Professor McGonagall. It seems a force of Death Eaters are gathering near Helmsdyke-small enough that she believes we can tackle them, and then assault the Lord Minister, who is supposed to show up."

"Face you-know-who?" George asked.

"If we've got a chance," Bill said, "I say we go for it."

They paused for a few moments. Hermione looked out at the incoming clouds.

"Let's go," Hermione said.

"And you're pregnant with our late brother's child," Fred said, "You're staying-"

"I am coming," Hermione said, "I've got a right of vengeance. Avenge Ron's death!"

"I wouldn't fool with her," Lee Jordan said, "She has that right, and, if what I've heard is correct, quite capable and a force to reckoned with, an asset to our charge."

An hour later, Hermione met up with Gia under a railway trestle crossing a stream a mile northwest of Helmsdyke. Sirius was sitting on a big rock. Notley paced. McGonagall's eyes were roving. Fred and George were looking about. Shacklebolt kept guard to one side.

"Mr. Longbottom and Mr. Macmillan-I sent them a letter," McGonagall said, "Not certain-"

In the sky from the south east came a fast moving cloud, a jet of steam, arcing up from the North Sea in the distance, coming over.

"Stand back!" Shacklebolt ordered.

Hermione looked.

"Hold it!" Hermione said, "It's alright-"

"How can you be cer-" McGonagall said.

"I just am," Hermione said.

The bolt of steam swooped down fast, it contained a small bit of water within, on top of which was the boat, the boat in which Neville and Ernie were riding. It came to a quick halt on the stream.

"Wicked," Fred said.

"We came as soon as we got your letter Professor," Neville said as he climbed out of the boat.

"Going for the grand entrance?" George said, "Muggles might-"

"Can't see this," Neville said, "Save Gia."

"A muggle into battle," Shacklebolt said, "Unwise, she should hide-"

"I could be of use-" Gia protested.

"You carry the last of the Potter line," McGonagall said, "I think even Mr. Potter would understand."

"Protect my great-godchild," Sirius said.

Gia glared. "Alright!"

"Mrs. Weasley," McGonagall said, "You should not stress either, not to mention that Mrs. Potter may need protection-I should think you're better suited-"

"But vengeance-" Hermione protested.

"Carrying that child to term would seem a better revenge to me," McGonagall said.

"Use the boat," Neville said.

Hermione looked at Neville. "What about you-?"

"Remember, I can summon them," Neville said, "So, we'd all feel better, fight better, if we knew you both were safe. I can't think of anywhere safer."

Hermione sighed.

"Good luck to you all," Hermione said.

Hermione and Gia climbed into the boat. It took off, back into the east, upon a wisp of cloud until it arched into the ocean.

"Where are they-?" McGonagall asked.

"Don't ask," Neville said, "Suffice it to say, they are safe."

Hermione and Gia arrived at the bunker, then climbed up the stairs.

"I wish we could've stayed and helped," Gia said.

"Yeah," Hermione said, "I wish they had listened to us, but carrying to term is important, I suppose, given we're..."

Hermione wiped away tears.

"Well, now that I am here," Hermione said, "I can offload that library."

Gia arched her eyebrows.

"We were able to rescue most of the Hogwarts and Dumbledore's libraries," Hermione said.

Hermione grabbed her dragon hide jacket, entered the living room, and started pulling books out; she spent her time arranging them onto the shelves.

Monday passed into Tuesday and onto Friday evening when voices came up the stairs of the bunker. Gia was laying on the sofa, Hermione was reading a book in the easy chair.

"Blimey!"

Up the stairs came multiple sets of feet, making the bunker feel very cramped. Covered in mud with singes, bandages, cuts, and bruises, were Neville then Luna, then Ernie, then Sirius, then Notley, then Fred, then George, and then Lee Jordan.

"What happened?" Hermione asked.

"It was an ambush for us," Neville said, "We fought as best we could, we retreated across Scotland to Suroma, made a stand, only to be slaughtered."

"Bill and Charlie were killed," Fred said, "So were the rest, may Madam Pomfrey, Professor McGonagall, and the rest find the peace denied us."

"What next?" Gia asked.

"Nothing," Sirius said, "We're defeated."

END OF CHAPTER

[A/N: The story will continue.]

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