Sorry for the tardiness, but RL takes its toll in time. I hope this story merits your appreciation. Happy New Year!
As ever, standard disclaimers apply.
The Dancers at the Precipice
Albus Dumbledore was not a man given to pacing, no matter how trying a circumstance of unresolved waiting might otherwise encourage it. If he was at all impatient he hid it expertly enough that no one ever even questioned his unusual tranquility. Indeed such calm was practically his trademark. But this did not mean he was calm or tranquil or unworried. Only a fool would not be worried that Stonehenge was un accessible and two of the Order's operatives were missing, possibly dead after being consumed by a brilliant flash of light. Days had passed since then and it was as if time stood still, rooted and waiting for ...what? For what? Albus was certainly flummoxed. Not a word had come from the henge. Not a sound nor any hint of magic from within the impenetrable barrier that enveloped the ancient site. It was becoming all but impossible to keep the Muggles (both government and the merely curious) Confounded enough that they were kept away.
So Hogwart's Headmaster did not pace. But he was feeling the press of impatience against his ribcage and the strain of worry upset his stomach. He did not pace but he wanted to. Instead, he stood before one of the many whirring, clicking toys that decorated his office and stared at one of its ever spinning brass gears while his thoughts spun equally unceasingly and equally ineffectively. Until a knock at his door pulled him from his unhelpful reverie.
At his silent command, the door opened and his visitors, Remus Lupin, Alastor Moody, Arthur and Bill Weasely, Minerva McGonagall, filed in. He turned to greet them as they found seats. "Gentlemen, Minerva," his voice was surprisingly smooth and firm though soft and unhurried.
"Albus, we are completely stymied," Arthur offered immediately even before the ubiquitous offering of tea could be made.
"Not a word!" Moody growled, "Nothing has entered or left either the henge or Malfoy Manor. We haven't found any other way in, either."
Albus nodded unsurprised. "For once Tom has me baffled," he admitted.
"There is no henge related magic we can find that would take this long to work -- at least nothing he'd be interested in," Remus added with a glance to Professor McGonagall as if for support. He reached for the full cup of tea that had placed itself on a small endtable near his right hand, his frustration evident in his faint scowl.
"And they're abnormally quiet. Haven't been any real attacks since this whole thing started." Moody added.
McGonagall's hands were clasped tightly in her lap; her face pinched with worry. But her voice was as firm as ever when she did speak. "Albus, this can't go on."
Harry realized at once that it was a vision wrought by the undesired and undesirable connection he shared with Voldemort. He also realized that because the self-proclaimed Dark Lord was a seething thoughtless tangle of raw emotion this particular shared connection was unguarded and unknown. So the young wizard watched and, having finally learned the lesson that stealth was aided by stillness, carefully kept his own emotion driven thoughts close to himself.
"They are Muggles," one of the indistinct figures before him asserted sourly.
"They are," he replied with the Dark Lord's oddly amused voice. "But they are also the descendants of those that built this fortress and they have a power that I would use."
"What power can be greater than our own magic?" Bellatrix's normally grim voice held real curiousity.
Harry felt himself -- felt Lord Voldemort, that is -- shift in his chair, relaxing back against the firm backrest as he waved a hand indulgently. "They are what Muggles of our world might become if left to advance on their own. They are less than us but not incapable of developing. Our worlds are not to seperate that you can have missed how they have changed over the last seventy or so years." He paused and considered the men and women at his feet. "Well, perhaps it is less obvious to you who have but a few decades of life." He pursed his lips, letting his words sink in.
"Muggles have attained flight with machines; they have bombs capable of wiping out whole cities." It was, surprisingly, Lucius Malfoy who made this observation.
"Quite so. All they need is a little directed help. We want to rule them not necessarily wipe them out." But there was something more, a secret the Dark Lord had no intention of revealing to anyone, a secret that was making him feel confident, strong, and invincible. He dismissed his followers with another wave of his hand.
After the last of them had departed he rose and moved over to a strange waist high console that had no business being anywhere near any Wizard. He lay his hand on a flat dark panel which after a moment began to glow with a soft blueish hue. Nothing else changed and when he removed his hand, the panel went suddenly dark. "Such power," his whisper rasped with awe. "Such power. Albus Dumbledore will be nothing more than a puny thorn to be plucked and tossed aside. Harry Potter, are you listening? You are even less than that."
Harry gasped then and found himself sitting up in bed, panting breathlessly. Suddenly life had become a cheap sci-fi thriller.
Severus could not stop the shaking that tore through his body. Though he felt nauseous and dizzy there was no real pain and it annoyed and embarrassed him greatly that he was so incapable of cutting off the muted groans coming from his throat.
"Severus, here, drink," Kingsley's voice impinged on his tiny universe of suffering. The hard rim of a metal cup pressed against his lower lip and he reached to clasp it in his own hand before allowing himself to taste whatever was being offered him. He sipped carefully. A fluid cool, sweet, and slightly more viscous than water rolled over his tongue. He swallowed and sipped again not stopping the cup was empty and removed from his now steady hand.
"What was that?" He murmured.
"Not really sure, mate" Kingsley replied wryly, "but it does seem to help you and it's not made you sick yet."
"I don't remember."
"I know. I wish I dared not give it to you but I tried that and you were sick. All over everything." In other circumstances there might have been a hint of amusement in that deep voice, but for now there was only concern.
"And not me? Well maybe your being a Pureblood has --"
"But I'm not."
"I am not a Pureblood, Kingsley."
"Got your memories back then?"
"No. Not really. I just know this. When you said it I knew."
"Perhaps this ability has nothing to do with Wizardry at all."
"Or maybe it's simply a talent -- like having a talent at Potions or Charms or something along those lines."
Severus' eyes were closed but he felt the other Wizard settle along side him. There was a silence that was more or less companionable, which, considering their captivity, might have been more appropriately anxious. "I fear they may get what they want," the ex-teacher mused at last.
"Made something happen, then, did you?"
A sigh and then Severus forced his eyes open and he turned to find the other man's gaze on his face. "Yes. I... I felt something tear, inside, like... like an old shroud being ripped." He shook his head. "And then there was an explosion. Merlin! It was silent! So bright, so... violent! And not a sound."
"Hm. Where was this explosion? I didn't feel it."
"It was in the space between worlds."
"Ah. Well, there wouldn't be any sound then."
"None? Why not?"
"Erm...Oh yes, well there's no air in space and without air there's no sound."
Severus frowned silently at the explanation.
"What was it you made explode?"
Severus lowered his head, hiding behind a curtain of lank dark hair. "A sun. I caused a sun to die."