Chapter 4: - The Watcher
Harry could scarce believe his eyes, Dementors at the Burrow! It was unthinkable. In the past two years Harry had come up against Dementors on several occasions and on all of those times Harry had barely escaped with his life. First at Hogwarts when they had been sent to guard the school, then within a dark alleyway near the Dursleys home and now here. Mrs Weasley's words about Dumbledore's protection spells ran through his head and Harry hoped that Bill had strengthened the charms that evening. Harry prayed that Bill had, because with Hermione's arrival the Burrow now contained all the people that Harry cared for most in the world.
"We have to warn the others!" Hermione called as she touched Harry's arm "Come on!" with that, and still feeling in utter shock the three friends raced out of the room and down the small poky stairs that lead from Ron's room,
"DEMENTORS!" Ron called loudly as they reached the second landing where Ginny's, Bill's, Charlie's and the twin's bedrooms where. At Ron's call Ginny popped her head around her door,
"Ron what are you yelling about? – Oh Hermione when did you get here? How was America?" Ginny asked excitedly in a friendly tone as she stepped onto the landing smiling at Hermione,
"This is no time for a girly chit chat Gin!" Ron barked "Dementors, outside now!"
"What?" Ginny said grinning obviously thinking Ron was joking
"It's true" Hermione said "We have to warn our parents!" with that the friends hurried down the stairs Hermione pulling a still bewildered Ginny behind her,
"DEMENTORS!" Harry and Ron both yelled as they ran in front of the girls
"Would you all please stop banging about up there?" Mrs Weasley's voice called angrily as she hurried to the foot of the stairs "What in Merlin's name are you all yelling about?"
"Dementors!" Ron, gasped as he and Harry came to a stop on the bottom step directly in front of Mrs Weasley as Hermione and Ginny pelted down the creaking wooden steps and came to a stop immediately behind them.
"What?" Mrs Weasley said looking at the boys as though she hadn't fully heard what they had said,
"There's Dementors! outside" Harry gasped breathlessly as he stared around the kitchen at Mr and Mrs Weasley, the twins Mr and Mrs Granger and Bill, all of their faces showing expressions that were a mixture of shock, horror, surprise, disbelief and in the case of the Grangers incomprehension. The scene in the kitchen seemed to Harry to have frozen and Harry thought that he would have found the looks on everyone's faces comical if the situation hadn't been so serious. Mr Granger and Mr Weasley had obviously just been deep in conversation before Harry and Ron's shouts, as they where standing in a corner of the kitchen near the large roaring fire and both looked at Harry as if they had been told that the sky was falling. Harry guessed that Mr Weasley and Mr Granger had been talking about some mundane Muggle object that Mr Weasley would have found fascinating and that Mr Granger would have only talked about to be friendly and civil. Harry also guessed that Mrs Granger, Bill and Mrs Weasley had also been talking before Harry's and Ron's shouts as they where the ones standing closest to the stairs. No doubt all of them had been making polite conversation while the twins, who now looked disbelievingly at Harry, had both been finishing off their evening meal seated at the table. All eyes where staring at Harry and the others as no one spoke,
"Pardon?" Mr Weasley said as the silence was finally broken, his face colourless as Harry and Ron's words finally sank in "Are you boys sure?"
"Their right father" Bill's voice called as he stood, pressed close to the pane of a nearby window. Harry was surprised that in the silence he hadn't even heard Bill move but Harry guessed that stelfness was a necessity for a Gringotts curse breaker.
"Wands out" Bill ordered as though he was talking to trained troops and not his family as he pulled his own wand free from his jacket's pocket and Mr Weasley did the same.
"Check up stairs, make sure all the windows are closed and bolted!" Mr Weasley suddenly ordered Bill his voice tinged with slight panic but Bill quickly nodded and pushed past Harry and the others and disappeared up the stairs,
"We'll help!" George and Fred both called as they followed after their brother pulling their own wands free from their work robes.
"What are Dementors?" Mrs Granger asked nervously in a very plummy voice, but she was ignored as Mr Weasley issued more orders,
"Ron, Molly, help me secure down here" Mr Weasley said as he flicked his wand at the kitchen door that issued a loud click as the lock turned and locked itself and the large draw blots at the top and bottom of the door magically locked into place.
"I'll help" Harry offered wanting to be of assistance but Mr Weasley shook his head as Ron and Mrs Weasley disappeared into the other downstairs rooms
"No Harry, you have to stay here, you have to stay safe" With that Mr Weasley followed Ron into the living room, and all through the house Harry could hear locks clicking closed and blots drawing into place. Harry hadn't felt so helps since the day he had seen Sirius fall through the vale in the department of mysteries at the ministry of magic in London over four weeks ago. Harry had been told by Lupin that there had been nothing that he could do then and now Mr Weasley had told him to stay put while Ron and the others risked their safety on his behalf. But Harry knew instantly that the presence of the Dementors at the burrow had been his fault, they had shown up last year at the alleyway in Privet drive and now, now that Harry was away from the permanent protection that 4 Privet drive offered they had shown here too. No doubt with the same intentions as they had done the year before.
"Please would someone tell me what's going on?" Mr Granger asked as he moved towards his wife and drew Harry out of his thoughts
"Not now daddy" Hermione said nervously as Harry looked around at her, Harry wanted to smile or laugh, It seemed so funny that Hermione, the cleverest student at Hogwarts School still called her father 'Daddy' especially since she was nearly sixteen years old.
"Daddy, Mummy?" Hermione said with a tint of anxiety in her voice as she looked between her parents and then towards Harry "This is Harry Potter, Harry, these are my parents, Jane and Jack Granger"
"H-Hi" Harry said; it hadn't been nerves that had made Harry stutter his words but the circumstances that Hermione had chosen to make her introduction in. Even Mr and Mrs Granger looked slightly bemused with their daughters timing as they replied with a genial "Hello" and "Nice to meet you".
Harry had never really meet Hermione's parents before, he had seen them only once before, briefly, in the holidays prior to starting his second year at Hogwarts but he had never been formally introduced. It felt odd to be introduced to them in such circumstances but Hermione seemed pleased that finally she had introduced her parents to him. Like her daughter Mrs Granger had long brown bushy hair and she also had the same dark brown eyes that Hermione had. Mr Granger didn't look much different he was as tall and slim as his wife and also had dark brown hair and a funny moustache that looked like a very fuzzy caterpillar was sleeping on his top lip.
"Hermione what's going on?" Mr Granger finally demanded once more of his daughter who blanched under his gaze
"We saw Dementors outside" Harry offered as an explanation
"And Dementors are?" Mr Granger asked, his voice sounding strained as Harry guessed he tried to contain his annoyance of not knowing what was happening,
"Dementors are the foulest creatures on earth, sightless, soul-sucking fiends that infest the darkest and filthiest places where things fester and decay. They do their work under the cover of darkness, in shadows and when moonlight is weak" Bill said as he and the twins emerged onto the top of the stairs and made their way back into the kitchen. Harry, Hermione and Ginny finally moved from the stairs making way for Bill and the twins to pass,
"Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling; every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself...soul-less and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life" Bill finished
"Are you trying to frighten us?" Mr Granger asked as he stood his ground next to his wife, who was paling slightly.
"I'm simply telling you how it is" Bill said coldly and Harry couldn't help but notice that Bill and the twins all looked slightly different, not in appearance but in attitude. Harry had always thought of Bill as being cool and laid back and the twins where always making mischief and jokes but now all three of them seemed cold and they had become very serious. Harry understood why, Dementors lived for despair; they drained peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them, even Muggles, none magical folk like Mr and Mrs Granger would be affected by them, Harry knew that the situation at the burrow was growing serious and so did Bill and the twins, this wasn't a time for jokes and pranks, this, Harry knew could quite possibly be the last night that he, the Weasleys or the Grangers would ever see.
"You freeze when they get too close" George said his voice sounding distant and Harry knew that he was talking from experience.
"A large group of people like this is a feast to a Dementor" Bill continued much to the distress of the Grangers "They feed on positive human emotions; they drain a wizard of their powers if left with them too long they can turn even the most innocent man into a wraith like shell of their former self. They where the guards of Azkaban; the wizards prison they made it a place horror. There is however certain defences that can be used against Dementors, the Patronus Charm for example but even that can not defend against the Dementor's last and worst weapon. The Dementor's Kiss, when the kiss is performed the Dementor sucks out the victims soul through their mouth, leaving them an empty shell, alive but completely, irretrievably gone" Bills words fell on silence as everyone in the kitchen now understood the seriousness of their situation, they were all in danger, very grave danger,
"Wand out Harry" Bill said as he passed him and headed towards the large window that over looked the Burrows rear garden as Ron and Mr and Mrs Weasley entered the kitchen, Harry quickly complied as did Ginny and Hermione
"Is everyone here?" Mrs Weasley asked urgently as she looked around at all her family, Harry and the Grangers. Harry saw Mrs Weasley quickly doing a head count and looked satisfied when she realised that everyone was present.
"Everything's secure up stairs father" Fred said as Mr Weasley crossed the kitchen towards Bill, who was still standing next to the window staring out into the darkness,
"Good and thank you boys" Mr Weasley commended before he fell into a whispered conversation with Bill.
"I don't understand it" Hermione said "Why are Dementors here? Why aren't they at Azkaban?"
"You mean you don't know?" Ron asked, surprised at Hermione's show of her lack of knowledge,
"We've been in America most of the summer; staying with family friends" Hermione replied testily "We couldn't really tell them I was a witch could we? So I've been out of contact with everything magical"
"Apart from Vicky" Ron muttered under his breath as he referred to Viktor Krum.
"Azkaban fell weeks ago, Hermione" George said softly as he curbed any reply that Hermione may have been willing to venture "Dumbledore warned the ministry but Fudge wouldn't listen he said that you-know-who wouldn't be as bold as to ask the Dementors to join him"
"But yet here they are" Fred said darkly "Fudge is a fool, the sooner he realises that Dumbledore and the order are trying to help the better it will be"
"But why are the Dementors here?" Ginny asked and Harry hung his head, he could feel Ron and Hermione's eyes staring at him. Was it really just coincidence that the Dementors showed up the first day Harry had stepped foot outside the safety of the burrow? And Harry couldn't help but think how stupid he had been at clinging to the hope that the cloaked figure that he had seen watching him was Sirius. Harry tightened his grip around his wand and forced back the emotions that he could feel forcing there way to the surface at the realisation that his godfather was gone, he couldn't cry, not now, not here. Looking around at the faces of his friends and the Weasleys and Grangers Harry couldn't help but feel that if he had told someone sooner about the cloaked figure then this situation could have been averted. Was all this his fault? Harry knew the answer to that question already, his presence at the Burrow had put the Weasleys in danger and Harry wished that Dumbledore had never brought him here.
"Who's you-know-who?" Mr Granger asked "Would someone tell us what's going on?"
"You don't know who you-know-who is?" Ron asked amazed "Hermione haven't you ever told your parents that we're at war?"
"War?" Mrs Granger gasped in alarm "We're in the middle of a war?"
"Don't exaggerate Ron" Hermione snapped at him "Mummy, Daddy I didn't tell you about you-know-who because I didn't want to upset you both"
"Upset us? Hermione I think you should have told us something this important don't you?" Mr Granger barked in disbelief
"I bet you didn't even mention you-know-who's Deatheaters, either did you Hermione?" Ron added as he grinned slightly
"Deatheaters?" Mrs Granger cried and Harry knew that the name alone had sent Mrs Grangers mind reeling with wild scenarios. Most of which, Harry guessed, wouldn't be too far from reality.
"Ron!" Mrs Weasley chastised her son
"I would have but-" Hermione began
"Molly-" Mr Weasley's voice cut across everyone as they all fell silent and he and Bill ended their talk and Mr Weasley walked towards the large kitchen fire place and took hold of the flower pot that always stood on the mantel. Harry knew that this pot contained Floo powder; the dust that allowed the caster access to the Floo network. Harry had only used Floo three times in his entire life but he had seen Ron and Ginny use it almost everyday of the holidays to get to and from work at the twins shop.
"Take Harry through to Remus' house" Mr Weasley told his wife as he handed her the pot and she nodded "Ginny, Ron and Hermione you'll go next followed by the Grangers then Fred, George and Bill and I'll follow after"
Harry watched as Mrs Weasley nodded to her husband and took hold of the flower pot "Quickly Harry" she beckoned him and he walked to her side, Harry felt like a coward being called upon to leave the Burrow first, he was always treated like a helpless child and Harry knew that if the worst did happen then he would have been more useful staying at the burrow then either Ron or Ginny. Who, despite having been part of the DA, the secret class that Harry had run during his fifth year at Hogwarts that learned advanced magic, still hadn't been able to cast a weak Patronus charm let alone a full corporeal Patronus that was capable of warding off Dementors. Harry had been able to cast a fully formed corporeal Patronus in the shape of a stag since his third year at Hogwarts and now he was being told to leave while Ron, Ginny and Hermione stayed.
But then again Harry reflected it was best to get him away from the danger as quickly as possible, if he died now it would really throw Dumbledore's master plan into chaos. Not that Dumbledore had made Harry party to such things, Harry had to prevent himself from smiling at that thought, he was expected to die in his attempt to prevent Voldemort succeeding in his holocaustic ideal but yet Harry wasn't to be told anything else.
"Quickly, dear" Mrs Weasley hurried him as she placed a gentle hand on his shoulder and held the flower pot out to him, "It's just like before dear, take a handful throw it into the flames and then step in, the address is 8 Tender-Shrewd Square"
Harry reached out his ringed hand and took a handful of the grey ash like powder and then turned and faced the fire place. He had hated every time he had used the floo network as he always managed to bang his elbows on all the grates that he past. But he couldn't exactly refuse to go, so Harry tossed the power into the roaring flames and Called out Remus Lupin's address as he stepped forwards,
"HARRY STOP!" Screamed Mrs Weasley, Bill, Ron, Ginny and Hermione all together as Mrs Weasley grabbed hold of Harry very tightly and pulled him backwards,
"It didn't work" Mr Weasley said in utter shock "The flames should have turned green I don't understand-….Unless-"
"Unless someone doesn't want us to leave" Bill said from his position at the window "And only someone in the ministry can remove a fire place from the Floo network"
"How are we going to get out?" Ginny asked as she looked from her mother to her father and then Bill,
"One of us could apparate" Ron suggested,
"Are you offering?" Fred said sharply knowing full well that Ron was underage and wouldn't even begin to learn apparition till he returned to Hogwarts,
"No but you could" Ron snapped
"No one can" Mrs Weasley said sadly "Bill and Arthur refortified Dumbledore's protection charms just before the Grangers arrived no one will be able to apparate in or out for hours"
"Couldn't we try to contact the order?" George suggested hopefully
"And then what?" Bill said darkly from his place at the window "Remus, Mad-eye, Tonks and the others apparate onto the Burrow's outer grounds and become appetisers? No we can't risk that. Besides who knows what else is out there, you-know-who wouldn't send Dementors out on their own, I'm sure of it" Harry was amazed at how quickly Bill was able to draw such conclusions, and Harry now understood why Bill had been both head boy and had scored very high grades at school and why he now worked as a Curse breaker for the wizarding bank. His mind worked quickly and he acted just as fast. But now not even Bill could help his family from the inside of the Burrow,
"S-So we're trapped?" Mrs Granger said, stating what everyone now realised as a silence fell on them all.
Harry, the Weasley's and the Grangers all waited. None of them really knew what was to happen next, Mr Weasley continuously assured them all that the recharged protection charms would prevent the Dementors and anything else that may have been lurking outside from getting into the house or approaching too close to the surrounding grounds. But even though Mr Weasley had sounded confident in saying this, Harry couldn't help but notice that he and Bill frequently held private talks that were hushed and were not shared with anyone else, not even Mrs Weasley or the Grangers. At first Harry thought that Bill and Mr Weasley had been discussing ways of how they could all escape but as late evening turned into night Harry knew that the only plan of action that anyone had was to sit and wait.
The kitchen was now as dark as the grounds outside, the large fire that had been their only way of escaping had died hours ago, and through fear that relighting it would alert the Dementors to the fact that everyone inside the Burrow knew that the Dementors where outside or in fear that it would indicate to the Dementors which room they where all located in Mr Weasley had refused to let the fire be stoked when it began to die.
But Harry knew that the Dementors already knew which room everyone was in. His previous dealings with the Dementors had left Harry with the understanding that all Dementors had a sort of instinctual awareness, like a shark that could sense blood for miles, a Dementor could sense a human's sole, especially those that would be able to sustain them for a long period of time, the innocent ones, young ones and those souls that belonged to strong and powerful individuals. Harry guessed that the prospect of such a banquet that the Weasley's, Granger's and he himself could offer the Dementors was one that the Dementors would not be willing to relinquish easily, and so everyone waited.
As the night slowly passed and the small clock in the kitchen chimed midnight, Harry found himself thinking about the large grandfather clock that resided in the Weasley's living room. That clock instead of telling time told what each member of the family was doing, whether they were working, at school, travelling or safely tucked up asleep in bed. Harry wondered if the hands that represented each member of the Weasley family had now all turned to 'in great peril' and as he thought and waited Harry found his himself thinking about Sirius and how his godfather would have dealt with a similar situation. Sirius wouldn't have waited, trapped inside the Burrow like some scared rabbit; Sirius was a fighter, a warrior to the course that he had died for. And died he had, Harry knew that now, Sirius was dead.
Hermione was right, If Sirius had been the watcher then he would have revealed himself to Harry. If Sirius had left him the ring then the note would have been signed using Sirius' alias of Snuffles. But it hadn't, even though the ring had belonged to Sirius, and Harry's thoughts of what his godfather would do in a situation where Dementors and perhaps other unknown assaulters had trapped him were now null and void. Sirius was dead, and despite the tiny hope that Harry, even now still clinged to he knew that it was futile in holding onto that shred of hope especially when everyone and everything around him told Harry that his godfather was dead.
Harry allowed his mind to wonder once more, deciding it was best not to dwell on such thoughts especially at a time like this. But Harry found that he couldn't, he found himself wondering how it would feel to be a soulless being. Harry guessed that that was a contradiction in terms, how could someone feel without a soul? And Harry wondered if that wouldn't be a bad thing? It would instantly solve the pain that he felt inside every time he thought of Sirius, but would it really? Would a person who had received a Dementors kiss, called so because a Dementor used it's month pressed close to it's victims to suck out the poor retches soul, Would the person still retain elements of their former self? Would they relive their worst memories over and over again like all who are in close proximity to Dementors? Harry hoped not, as the kiss rendered the person's physical self into an almost vegative state and even Harry, who heard the last moments of his dead parents lives when Dementors approached, felt sickened by the prospect that maybe that was the result of a kiss, an eternity trapped in a perpetual loop with nothing but your worst nightmares.
'Compared to that' Harry Thought, the prospect of his foretold fight with Voldemort seemed to pale in comparison. Harry hadn't realised it but his horror at his thought about the Dementors kiss had showed on his face and it was Mr Weasley that had seen it,
"It's ok Harry, we'll be all right" Mr Weasley said and Harry could tell that he was forcing his voice to sound confident and almost cheerful. Harry who had been quickly drawn from his thoughts looked about the room to see that everyone but Bill was staring at him and Harry, resenting Mr Weasley for signalling him out quickly looked down at his clasped hands as he sat at the kitchen table and clenched his fist around the finger that still wore Sirius' ring and unknowingly stroked the ring's cold golden surface with his finger as he continued his thoughts of this godfather and the events in the department of mysteries as they all still waited.
Over an hour passed as Harry, the Weasley's and the Granger's all still waited, Mrs Weasley, Ron, Ginny the twins, Mrs Granger, Hermione and Harry where all seated at the large kitchen table, while Mr Granger stood behind his wife and daughter, a hand resting on each of their shoulders. Mr Weasley and Bill continued their observations at the window but both where now in a very heated but hushed conversation which in the dead silence of the kitchen made it easy for the odd raised word to reach the ears of all sitting at the table.
"Is everything all right?" Mr Granger said in a voice that was more demanding then enquiring as Bill's voice was heard urging his father to tell something to the rest of the family, the Grangers and to Harry.
"They should be told" Bill said to his father but this time in a strong voice that all in the room could clearly hear,
"Yes, your right" Mr Weasley said reluctantly as he looked towards his children and wife and he stepped closer to the table as Bill stayed at the window, "We-" he said indicating himself and Bill "Didn't want to alarm you all, but we believe that the number of Dementors have been steadily increasing"
"How many?" Fred asked as he straightened in his chair and raised his wand slightly as though he was making ready for a fight,
"A-A fair few" Mr Weasley replied benignly concealing the true amount,
"Arthur please, how many?" Mrs Weasley pleaded to her husband as she took hold of her daughters hand.
"We've counted roughly a hundred" Bill said as though that figure was just a pittance, but the gasps from Mrs Weasley, Ginny and Hermione spoke for everyone's shock at the amount of Dementors that where surrounding the Burrow.
"A hundred!" Ron echoed his brother's words but unlike Bill Ron's voice was full of horror. Harry watched the others and saw George shiver slightly, Harry wanted to believe that it was due the coldness of the fireless kitchen but the room was still pleasantly warm.
"But Dumbledore's protection charms will hold won't they?" Fred asked a touch of uncertainty in this voice as he gripped his wand tightly,
"They should-" Mr Weasley replied instantly, but his voice wasn't filled with confidence any longer and he instantly checked himself as the words left his mouth, "-But even though the protection charms are good, they…they were never intended to be permanent"
"That's why we had to keep strengthening them" Bill interjected as he stepped away from the window and placed a hand on his fathers shoulder, showing that he was in support of what ever decision Mr Weasley would decide to take "The charms were never meant to last forever-" Bill continued "-and they where quickly applied the evening before Harry arrived, Dumbledore's strong and I know that he always plans for the unexpected but even he would be hard pressed to have thought that this amount of Dementors would be sent here"
"They'll hold" Mr Weasley said almost wishfully to the room at large but Harry and the others could tell that this was probably the reason why Bill and Mr Weasley had been arguing "Dumbledore's never failed us before and they only need to last until first light"
"Why first light?" Ron asked and Harry turned to look toward his friend, it was Hermione that answered,
"Dementors are creatures of the night they can only survive in darkness, Ron. That's why when Dementors get close to you the light fades, no matter what time of day it is. They have a slight magical essence, it's sort of like there own perpetual night, but it isn't very strong and they can't survive long in full sunlight, as soon as the sun begins to rise they'll leave" Harry looked at Hermione, she looked infinitely proud of herself and Mrs Granger looked proud of her daughter for knowing the things she did.
"S-So when it gets light we will be ok?" Mrs Granger asked looking relieved as she held her daughter close,
"Yes" Mr Weasley replied
"But it's five hours till dawn!" Mr Granger called his voice sounding alarmed "What's to stop them getting in here before then?"
"Dumbledore's charms" Ginny said her voice tinted with annoyance at the fact that Mr Granger had asked a question that had already been discussed "The charms will prevent the Dementors from coming too close to the house and they'll last till beyond sun up won't they Bill?" But Bill remained silent and all eyes turned towards him.
"Bill, the charms will last won't they?" George asked, as Bill stood silently next to his father, both looking at each other as if asking who was to speak first,
"No" Bill said as he turned back towards the window and continued his vigil as George, Fred, Ron and Mr Granger protested.
"Bill isn't too sure" Mr Weasley said hurriedly as he moved closer to the table, "theoretically the charms should hold but Bill believes that the amount of Dementors present will cause extra strain on the charms and will weaken them"
"Weaken them?" Mr Granger said angrily "Are you telling me that the only thing that is keeping those-those Dementors from sucking out our souls could fail any minute?"
"Yes" Mr Weasley said sadly as Ginny stifled a whimper.
At Bill's cry Harry couldn't help but think what impeccable timing. It felt as though the whole of the Burrow shook, ornaments fell from their shelves, Mrs Weasley, Mrs Granger and Hermione screamed as the large windowpane that Bill was standing in front of shattered inwards with such tremendous force that Harry would have sworn that a Muggle jet had flown over the house. Bill's cry had been a mix of pain and alarm of the shattering window as he turned and threw himself to the ground, as had Mr Weasley and both twins. Harry found that the vibrations that reverberated through the house where so violent that he couldn't even stay in his seat. Ron toppled backwards off his chair while Mrs Weasley desperately pulled Ginny under the large kitchen table as picture frames, books and pans fell from the walls and ceiling, Harry, the twins and Hermione all took refuge under the table as well. Harry turned to look towards Mr Weasley and Bill, Bill was still lying flat on the ground, his arms covering his head as Mr Weasley did the same. It felt like an age before the house settled but in reality it had only been a few seconds.
"Is everyone ok?" Bill called as he lifted his head and looked around at his family, Harry saw that Bill's face was bleeding, besides several small cuts Bill's left check was cut very deeply but Bill acted as though nothing had happened, Harry guessed that injuries where commonplace to someone who worked as a curse breaker.
"Was that it?" Mr Granger asked frantically as he pulled his wife up off the floor "Was that the protection charms failing?"
"One of them" Bill said nonchalantly as he hurried to the table, helping his mother on to her feet "There are six in total that was probably the weakest one"
"Weakest?" Harry heard Ron sneer as he and Hermione climbed out from under the table and Ron offered Hermione his hand, but no sooner had everyone regained their feet then the house shook again this time, if at all possible, was more violent then the last. Hermione screamed as Ron pulled her back under the table, both colliding with Harry. Bill Pulled Mrs Weasley to the ground covering her head as this time plaster fell from the walls and ceiling. Ginny who hadn't even moved from the last shake grinned nervously at Harry as she knelt next to the twins and the quake quickly subsided.
The house was silent and no one moved, all of them fearing that the quakes would begin again as soon as someone dared stand up. But after awhile Mr Weasley announced that all was well and that the quakes had been due to the surged power of the weakest protection charms leaving the house.
The quakes continued through the night, each one was successively more violent then the last. After the third one hit Harry, Ginny, Ron the twins and Hermione had decided that the safest place was under the robust kitchen table and even after the quakes had subsided none left their new found sanctuary. Mr and Mrs Granger stood huddled together in a nearby alcove which was free from over hanging objects while Mr Weasley and Bill continued to stand near the now paneless window. Mrs Weasley had taken each shake as a personal insult and after each had subsided she would use her wand to re-tidy the kitchen. She had begun with Bill's wound which she carefully cleaned and had found a large plaster to cover the cut. At first seeing her son's deeply cut cheek Mrs Weasley had been extremely upset and proclaimed that Bill would need to see a specialist at St Mungo the wizarding hospital if he was to avoid permanent scaring, but Bill had just smiled and laughed. Harry got the impression that Bill quite liked the idea of having a scar. But Harry didn't find his scar any fun.
Harry's scar had been hurting all through the holidays, ever since his return from Hogwarts. Harry hadn't told anyone about it, not even Remus during his visits to privet drive. Some days it was worse then others, but it was always constant, a slight prickling, after awhile Harry had grown used to it but now, as the Burrow shook for the fourth time that night Harry could feel the prickling increase and Harry knew that Voldemort was happy.
The small village of Ottery St Catchpole slept knowing nothing of the dreadful fate that was beseeching one of their oldest residences and the village's outer fields. For the other residences of the tiny English village it had been just another ordinary summer's day. The farmers had milked their cows, tended their sheep, fed the chickens and began harvesting the first of the crops from the fields. The day had faded into evening and the evening was just as uneventful as the day. The animals where led to their shelters and the chickens where all cooped, as the farmers and their families ate their evening meals and later watched TV as the light slowly faded and the families headed to bed, ready to start the day afresh in the morning. But all the villager's where unaware of the danger that they themselves could soon be in.
If a villager happened to look towards the burrow they would have found nothing amiss, the house still stood on it's solitary grounds far on the outer edges of the village on a small hillock and showed no visible signs of anything being wrong,
But things where wrong at the burrow, grievously wrong, and only a slight darkening of the sky around the Weasley home signified this.
To any onlooker from the village that may have been tempted to look towards the strange misshaped house, this darkening could easily be thought away by a trick from the lack of light cast by the moon that was being obscured by cloud cover. But a closer inspection would have revealed that the darkening cloud wasn't really a cloud, not fully anyway. Within the darkness, shapes could be seen, solid shapes that formed figures of cloaked skeletal human creatures whose flesh was putrid and hung from their bones like slowly decaying corpses.
But none of the villages looked towards the Burrow and no one knew what the dark cloud held within its mists as the village slept. No one that was, apart for a large grey bird that flexed it's talons as its beak curled into a very human like smile. The bird knew that it's time of waiting was finally coming to an end as the burrow shook violently once more.
'Was it ever going to stop?' Harry thought as he shook his head freeing plaster that had fallen from the ceiling into his hair as he, Ron, Hermione, the twins and Ginny all sat waiting under the burrows kitchen table. The tremors had been increasing in strength as each successive charm failed. Harry had lost count of how many times the burrow had been shaken, he could no longer remember whether it was four or five but Harry knew that when the sixth and final protection charm failed then everyone within the burrow would be in great danger.
Harry knew that he wasn't the only one thinking about what would happen when the final charm finally did cease to work. Harry had know Ron long enough to read his expressions sufficiently enough to know that Ron, like Harry and even the twins where contemplating the same thought. That the final charm to fail would be the worst and worse then that would be the horror of the Dementors and the kiss that they promised to deliver.
"How was America?" Ginny's hushed voice penetrated the silence as she spoke to Hermione as the shocks of the charm finally faded away.
"It was good" Hermione replied smiling in relief at having her mind taken off the present situation. "We stayed with daddy's friends in Massachusetts and we visited Salem quite frequently it's a very beautiful place-"
"Yeah, if you can see pass all that witch trial thing" Fred hissed from beside Harry as He, the twins, Ron, Ginny and Hermione all sat squashed together under the Burrow's kitchen table.
"It's terrible what they did to those muggles I know but-" Hermione continued,
"Muggles?" Harry asked his curiosity getting the better of him at Hermione's words
"You don't really think those Muggles killed actual witches do you Harry" Fred said his tone betraying his amusement at Harry's words
"It's a known fact that the so called witches of Salem where muggles, any real witch could have easily escaped their captors" George offered as an explanation
"It's rather ironic that Salem now holds America's magical training academy" Hermione continued "That's where we met Viktor-" at the mention of Krum's name Ron made a very audible grunt, which Hermione chose to ignore "- He was there with some other Quidditch stars as the guest speakers to a Quidditch summer camp."
"How very interesting" Ron growled sarcastically
"Yes actually it is" Hermione retorted "It was quite an honour for him and it was really nice to see him again and to catch up. I know we've been writing to each other but that doesn't compare to actually meting face to face. He's changed a lot since the last time we saw him, it must be all the training he's been doing. He was offered the position of Quidditch master at the American academy after he left Drumstrang but he turned it down. He said that one day he'd love to teach Quidditch to a new generation but at the moment he said he still has lots to learn himself."
"I bet he had no problems finding a club to play for" George said "Not if his skills at the world cup where anything to go by"
"He wasn't short of offers if that's what you mean" Hermione continued as Ron turned away from the conversation, which was quite a difficult thing to do under the table, But Hermione continued regardless "But he's had his heart set on playing for one club in particular. He's been a supported for years, despite their track record but it wasn't until this summer that his parents finally allowed him to accept the clubs contract. His parents weren't happy mind you-"
"How nice" Ron growled even though his back was still turned on Hermione
"Yes it is actually, Ronald" Hermione barked "It is nice; it means I may get to see more of him, seeing as the club is in England"
" England!" Ron cried as he quickly turned to look at Hermione and in doing so his large feet collided painfully with Harry's side "You mean Vicky's going to be moving here?"
"His name is Viktor and yes I suppose he would have to move to England" Hermione replied smugly as the point of her whole conversation finally sunk in to Ron. Harry watched his friends expression turn from shocked horror to an unsuccessful mask of faked indifference.
"I doubt he'd like it here" Ron said as he finally turned away from Hermione once more "He'll probably find it too cold and wet he'll want to leave before the month's end and the poor suckers at the club who hired him would have lost their money"
"I doubt that very much" Hermione scoffed "he spent seven years at Durmstrang remembers. Our winters would probably feel more like summer to him. Besides he says he's really excited about the prospect of playing for the club. He's really committed to the idea"
"Wonderful" Ron grumbled as Ginny rolled her eyes and the twins both sniggered
"So how is Krum?" Harry quickly said trying to defuse the situation that was slowly beginning to boil between his friends as Hermione glared at Ron. Harry had never fully understood why Ron had taken such a dislike towards Viktor Krum, a man who was only a few years older then themselves and whose Quidditch skills where legendary throughout the wizarding sporting world. Harry admired Krum's sporting ability and at one time so had Ron, but ever since Hermione had been Krum's date to the Yule ball in their fourth year Ron had taken a distinct dislike towards the talented young Bulgarian and Harry couldn't understand why. And at this particular moment Harry didn't care why, he had only spoken to elevate the tension that was forming under the table but as Hermione continued talking about Krum Harry could feel the tension growing.
"Viktor is well enough," Hermione replied civilly as she turned towards Harry "He asked after you Harry, and he's eager to meet you again"
"He is? Harry asked, taken slightly aback by Hermione's reply
"He asked how you where doing. So I told him what happened with-"
"You told him?"
"He was concerned about you"
"You told him?" Harry asked angrily "How much did you tell him?"
"Everything, He was concerned about you!" Hermione said feebly
"You told him everything?" Harry retorted savagely before he could stop himself "Did you tell him I killed my godfather or that I feel sickened every time I look in the mirror at this?" Harry said pulling his hand over his forehead to revel his scar"
"I-I told him you lost you Sirius" Hermione said in a small voice as she looked down at her hands and Ron, Ginny and the Twins stared at Harry in disbelief at his harsh words, but Harry didn't feel any regrets, he hardly felt anything any more.
"He asked me to send you his sympathies for your loss" Hermione said pathetically as she still looked away from Harry
"My loss?" Harry said darkly "You make it sound like I misplaced Sirius or something, I didn't lose him or forget where he was! He was killed! Murdered! And no amounts of sympathies are going to bring him back!"
"There's no need to take your anger out on Hermione, Harry!" Ron hissed through gritted teeth "She's just the messenger"
"And there's no point being angry at Viktor!" Hermione said angrily "He was just being civil and friendly! Which is more then can be said for you, Harry!" with that Hermione turned her back on him, which again was very difficult within the cramped space underneath the kitchen table.
The time began to pass once more and with it came the chimes of the small mantel clock in the kitchen, two o'clock passed into three o'clock, three into four and all the time Harry and the others just waited. The kitchen was dark and silent, Ginny had fallen asleep, her head resting on George's lap, Both Ron and Hermione where also slowly nodding off but the rest of the occupants of the Burrow's kitchen where all wide awake. Despite the darkness Harry could see the twins clearly and both where holding their wands tightly. The Grangers where still huddled together in the nearby alcove where Mrs Weasley had now joined them. Harry's eyes turned towards Mr Weasley and Bill who where both still standing near the shattered widow, holding their wands tightly in their hands as they looked out into the pitch black grounds. Through the darkness Harry could see the dried blood on Bill's shirt which had been made by the deep cut on his cheek from when the window had shattered and Harry wondered whether Mrs Weasley was right in saying that Bill would now have a permanent scar. At this thought Harry instinctively touched his own. Harry could feel the lighting bolt shape under his fingers it was his burden and his curse, it was this that had coursed him so much pain and suffering. It was this that had led to the death of Sirius and Harry, even though he tried not to, found himself thinking about his godfather.
A sound from outside drew Harry's attention. It was a sound that Harry had heard many times before, a deep hollow rasping sound, like someone trying to catch their breath. Harry looked towards the shattered window but couldn't see anything through the darkness beyond. Harry could feel the air around him slowly turning colder and Harry shivered slightly. At first he thought it was his imagination playing tricks on him, But Harry hadn't been the only one to hear the noise. Mr Weasley and Bill had heard it too. And slowly they moved backwards away from the window.
"What's going on?" Mr Granger said from the Alcove behind Harry but he was hushed into silence as Bill lowered himself to look under the table.
"Wake everyone up" he said softly to the twins, his voice betraying no sense of panic or urgency.
"Ginny, boys come here" Mrs Weasley called her voice low as she hurried to the table and helped Ginny out from under it and back towards the alcove at the back of the room as Fred, George and Ron hurried to their mothers side all them had their wands out and Hermione quickly hurried to her parents side as Mr Granger protectively pulled her towards himself and his wife.
"Harry" Bill hissed as he helped Harry out from under the table "Stay close to my family, I'm counting on you to take care of them" Bill whispered softly as he reassuringly squeezed Harry's shoulder and pointed him towards Mrs Weasley, who beckoned to Harry with open arms.
"Hush now" Mr Weasley called and at his harsh words everyone fell silent. The noise that Harry had first thought he had imagined had slowly magnified, and Harry knew that it wasn't due to the fact that the maker of the noise had increased it's volume but the that amount of makers had increased.
"The failing charms must have allowed them to come closer to the house" Mr Weasley said quietly.
"It isn't going to be long now" Bill said as he drew his wand to shoulder height and pointed it towards the window.
"Start thinking happy thoughts" George said as both twins followed their brother's example, and slowly a rumble could be heard as once more the house started to shake. But this time it was different. Instead of the house shuddering like it was being hit by an earth quake the walls of the burrow where literally shaking. Wobbling back and fourth like a ferocious wave was tearing up and down the insides of the stonework. The sounds of the Dementors rasping breaths grew in intensity and noise from the walls sounded like a thousand angry bees traped in a jar.
Mrs Granger whimpered in the darkness as she clung to her husband and pulled Hermione closer to her breast. Mrs Weasley held Ginny close too, holding her with one arm as she then placed her spare hand onto Harry's shoulder as the twins stood in front of the small group clustered around the alcove, their wands held rigidly in front of them. And as suddenly as it had all began the shaking and all the noises stopped. The house was plunged into a deathly silence which to Harry seemed to last for an age.
"Is-is that it?" Mr Granger voiced timidly but no sooner had he spoke then –
BANG! The noise was like a backfiring car going off inside the house, the walls and floor shook like it had done the five previous times but this time a soft buzz preceded the quake. Mrs Granger and Hermione screamed as they fell backwards into the wall, Fred yelp as Ron stumbled into him and Harry swore loudly as he was thrown forwards, his knee colliding painfully with the kitchens flagstone floor by the impact of the quake. Harry quickly realised that the soft buzzing sound belong to a pale orangey yellow light which quickly fell down all the walls of the Burrow.
"That's it!" Bill called quickly as he pulled his father to his feet "Everyone make ready!" but nothing happened. Harry could still hear the Dementors breathing close to the Burrows walls but they didn't enter,
"What are they waiting for?" Mrs Granger asked, her voice sounding slightly hysterical as she held Hermione close obstructing her daughter's wand hand,
"How are we supposed to know?" Ginny asked her voice betraying her fear and shock as Mrs Weasley quickly covered her daughter's mouth preventing her from speaking anymore.
"I don't know" Mr Weasley said tonelessly as he shook his head "Maybe-" But Harry didn't hear anymore, as the screaming started to fill his ears. It was louder then ever before, it was his mother, Lilly, pleading for her son life, Harry's life. Her screams where deafening magnified a hundred times inside his head, Harry knew that he too was screaming, he knew his mouth was open and that he had fallen once more to the floor as he pressed his hands tightly over his, but her screaming didn't stop, her pleading didn't stop and then a new voice was heard. A voice that Harry hadn't heard in over two months, a voice that Harry would never hear again.
"RUN!" the voice yelled at him urgently "Harry, take the prophecy grab Neville and run" it was Sirius! The last words that his godfather had ever said to him and as the screams of his mother faded to be replaced by his own screams as he relived the moment that Sirius died, as more screams could be heard.
"We'll hold them off!"
"Molly, get the children out of here!"
"Go! Take Harry and run! Save yourselves!"
The voices where ones that Harry knew, they where all around him, he could feel people pulling at him, shouting at him and slowly the screams of his mother and Sirius' dieing moments faded. He knew that he was running, or at least being pulled along as others ran,
"Snap out of it Harry" Fred yelled as he slapped Harry's face and Harry was suddenly aware of the things around him. He was no longer inside the kitchen of the Burrow; he was outside, out in the grounds, Ginny, Ron and the twins where with him. But Hermione and her parents, Bill and Mr and Mrs Weasley where nowhere to be seen.
"Where are they?" Harry asked as he felt his wand still in his hand.
"We lost them!" Ron hissed as he helped Fred pull Harry across the grounds
"Dad and Bill where still in the house" Fred said "They said they'd hold the Dementors back so that we could all get away-"
"But there where too many of them" George cut in as they made their way across the dark grounds "Mum got us out of the house-"
"But I didn't see Hermione or her parents leave" Ron called as tears prickled his face and he looked over his shoulder at the house
"And- And mum was holding them off at the front door so that we could run" Ginny sobbed her face streaked with tears as she turned to look at Harry, as the small group fled across the field towards a small thicket of trees and bushes
"W-What are we going to do?" Harry asked feebly as the Twins led them into the thicket
"We need help" Fred said as he fell to the ground under a large bush
"We need the order" George said as he knelt next to his twin,
"No you can't!" Ginny wailed as both twins raised their wands into the air "If you summon the order then they'll be apperating into –into- a Dementor f-f-feeding ground"
"It's a risk we'll have to take!" Fred called angrily as both twins pointed their wands skywards and immediately a wisp of gold and red ribbons issued into the air and whizzed off into different directions through the sky.
"It'll be daylight soon" Ron commented his voice almost distant as he looked at the palling sky.
"We could stay here until it gets light" Fred said as he moved towards the edge of the bushes and looked out into the grounds. It was lighter in the thicket then at the burrow and Harry followed Fred's gaze. He could see nothing beyond the trees security but a thick darkness, but Harry knew that it wasn't an ordinary darkness it was being cast by the Dementors, and as his eyes adjusted to the dim light he could see the figures of the Dementors swarming the Burrow. There had to hundreds Harry thought, but their effects where limited at this distance. The screams inside his head had faded to almost nothing and Harry guessed that he, Ron, the twins and Ginny must be at least four hundred feet from the infested burrow. The Weasley's home looked quite small from the safety of the thicket and Harry couldn't help but wonder what had become of the others. Ron and Ginny's thoughts on the others was obvious, Ginny's eyes had grow red and puffy as George held her close and she tried to stifle the noise of her tears, Ron's head was hung low as he clutched his keens tightly to his chest. Harry felt sick.
'What would they do now?' Harry thought as he stared out towards the burrow, it could take hours for the order to arrive and the chances of anyone surviving long enough to be rescued was growing slimmer with every moment. Harry knew that he and the others had to get somewhere more secure, somewhere that was more defendable then the cover of the thicket. But Harry couldn't think the noises from the Burrow began to reach his ears Harry could hear the crash of glass, the rasping of the Dementors breath, a scream, the sound of hissing wind- Harry pricked his ears - suddenly listening intently at the sounds as he moved to the very edge of the thicket followed by both twins. The darkness around the burrow seemed to have lightened and Harry smiled slightly as a sudden flash of light from the rear of the burrow drew his attention.
"Was that-?" George asked but decided that he didn't want to be deigned this final hope, the flash of light could mean only one thing. That someone inside the burrow still lived, someone that was casting a very strong Patronus Charm.
"Hermione!" Ron called from behind Harry, but Harry knew that despite their friend's ability at having produced a Patronus Charm at Hogwarts she wouldn't have been able to have produced one that could have warded off the amount of Dementors that where plaguing the burrow.
"It's Bill!" Ginny called excitedly as a rush of feet suddenly erupted behind Harry, as he and the twins quickly turned around to see that both Ron and Ginny had hurried out the other side of the thicket's cover,
"Come back!" Fred called as he, George and Harry followed but none of them reached the edge of the thicket before they stopped.
"So this is where you've been hiding" a familiar voice hissed as Bill ducked under the lower branches of the trees with Ginny clinging tightly to his arm
"I knew you'd be ok" Fred lied gleefully as Ron ducked the lower branches followed by-
"Hermione!" Harry called in sudden surprise at seeing her "I thought that you where- are you ok?"
"Y-yes I think so" Hermione said as she struggled to show a smile
"Where's mum?" Bill asked as he looked around the group his tone betraying the fact that he was unsure as to whether he really wanted the answer
"We don't know" George answered feebly
"We where attacked as we left the house-" Fred added needlessly as both twins hung their heads
"She told us to run" Ron added his voice full of pain "and we did, we left her, we just ran, I'm sorry"
"It's ok" Bill said firmly as he squeezed his youngest brother's shoulder before he flashed them a smile "its ok, mums tougher then we giver her credit for, she raised us lot didn't she, there's no way she'll let a bunch of Dementors push her around" Ron smiled faintly at Bill's words
"but-" Ginny ventured before Bill cut her off
"She'll be ok" Bill said reassuringly as smiled at his sister who still hung to his arm
"Did dad get out?" George asked
"I-I don't know?" Bill shrugged as he shook his head "It was chaos inside I- I've never seen so many Dementors-"
"You did all you could" Hermione voiced softly as she placed a hand onto Bill's arm before she spoke to the others "Bill found me outside, m-mummy and daddy followed after Mrs Weasley but we where separated when they attacked I tried to cast my Patronus but it wasn't strong enough, Bill was the one that rescued Me." she said as she looked towards Bill "If it wasn't for you I'd be worse then dead, Thank you". Bill smiled weakly in acknowledgement
"So what now?" Ron asked "Do we look for the others"
"No!" Bill answered harshly "there's nothing you can do, you need to get away from here, you need to find somewhere safe or at least a stronger hiding place then this"
"Hiding place?" Fred cried "Mum and dad's out there with those things and you want us to hide?"
"I know it sounds selfish but that's what you have to do"
"You mean we?" George asked as he picked up on Bill's deliberate use of words
"No, I mean you, all of you" Bill said as he gently loosened Ginny's grip "Your right that Mum, dad and the Grangers need help but not at the cost of all you-"
"No!" both twins, Ginny and Ron pleaded in unison but Bill hushed them
"Head to dad's old garage, its further away from the Burrow then the other out buildings so I doubt the Dementors have bothered with it. It's also made of brick and there's only one way in so it should be easy to defend" Bill said quickly as high pitched screams echoed across the grounds and everyone immediately turned towards the direction of the noise to see that the Dementors had finally given up on the burrow and where heading directly towards the thicket.
"Go now!" Bill urged as he pushed Harry towards the twins "Go! I'll hold them back!" and with that Bill ran from the cover of the thicket followed by pleads and screams from his siblings.
"Come on!" Hermione called as she pulled on Harry's sleeve and the group finally broke the cover of the thicket.
"This way!" George called leading the way as he pulled on Ginny's hand and the others followed him across the open ground "there's a secret passage through the corner of the garden wall it's the quickest route to the garage!"
"BILL!" Harry heard Fred yell beside him as he came to a stop, turning Harry saw that as they rounded the thicket they could see Bill as a horde of Dementors where swiftly approaching him as he still held back the large group that had initially headed towards the thicket. But Fred's shout hadn't been one of horror it had been a warning as Bill hadn't seen the new Dementors and it was now too late.
Bill's patronus although fully formed into the shape of a large eagle was no match for amount of Dementors that had rushed him, they where quickly overwhelming him and as Bill forced more of his last strength into keeping the eagle formed Harry knew from bitter experience that Bill was slowly being affected by the hidden horrors that maybe lurking in within his memories.
"RUN!" Bill called his voice as weak as his slowly fading guardian "Ron, Harry Ginny please run!" Bill pleaded and Harry was suddenly aware that the others had stop running too. As more Dementors glided across the grounds and slowly Harry could hear the screaming once more.
"We can't just leave you!" George's voice called as he held his wand high
"BILL!" Ginny called as George held her back "BILL!"
"Harry you have to do something!" Ron demanded
"What?" Harry said in shock as he tried to fight back the screams that where slowly filling his ears
"Stay here!" George demanded of Ginny as he pushed her towards Harry, Ron and Hermione as finally Bill's patronus shield failed and the twins rushed forwards
"Expecto Patronum!" They roared as they rushed, forwards casting their small and feeble monkey patronoses that where more mist then real forms as they struggled to stay formed
"Harry Please!" Ron yelled in disappear you have to help them! You've done it before I know you have you can do it again, Harry please!"
"I'll try" Harry called as he held his wand tightly and he pointed it after the twins and he tried to regain his happiest memory. But it wouldn't come, he tried to think of the time in his third year when Sirius had suggested that he could one day live with him but all his memories of his godfather where tainted by the events in the ministry. The harder Harry tried to concentrate on a happy memory the more difficult Harry found it to be. And the screams of his mother where still increasing as she pleaded for Harry's life and Sirius begged Harry to leave the ministry.
"Hurry, Harry, do it!" Ron yelled as he Ginny and Hermione began to shiver as the air turned cold
"I-I-can't" Harry called feebly "I-I-can't"
"Harry help them!" Ginny begged as Hermione screamed and the twins rushed headlong towards the blackness that was the mass of Dementors as a long pain filled scream emanated from the mass of blackness that now obscured where Bill had been
"NO!" Ron yelled in disappear as the scream was suddenly stifled
"Harry please do something!" Hermione begged but he couldn't, without a happy memory the charm was useless, Harry was useless he couldn't help. And he froze, the cries of both his mother and Sirius where ringing through his ears, as they mixed with those of Hermione's, Ginny's and Ron's pleads for help and cold hard rasping breaths of the Dementors as they came closer and the world slowed, and began to freeze as the sky's weak greyish light darkened and Harry suddenly realised that soon his previous thoughts about Dementor kiss victims would soon be answered as the Dementors moved closer. Harry couldn't move, his wand arm was still stretched out In front of him, uselessly holding onto the wand that he hadn't even used as Sirius's ring glistened in the light and a solitary Dementor drew closer. It where several feet away from Harry now even though the screams inside his head once more began to increase Harry couldn't help but wonder why, when there was no light want so ever, that Sirius's ring was glowing. But the ring was more then glowing, it was singing. A strange high-pitched sound emanated from the ring as its glow quickly intensified until a sharp burst of light pulsed from it and yet another scream filled Harry's ears. But this scream wasn't human and Harry immediately knew that the light from the ring had coursed the Dementor pain as it quickly backed away from Harry and the others and the screaming in Harry's ears receded
"What-?" Harry heard Ron utter from his side but before Harry could explain that he too had no idea what had just happened a blinding light burst from the direction of the burrow, it was so powerful that it made them all recoil from the intensity of the it and the wind that resided within it's wake as it raced across the ground and struck Harry and the others with so much energy that it threw them to the ground with tremendous force as a rushing wind wiped at them and kept them pressed on the damp grass. As the light filled the sky and burned heavily onto his skin Harry heard the air fill with more of the unearthly screams. They where high pitched screeches deafening cries that were filled with pain and anger, Harry and the others tried desperately to cover their ears at the same time as shielding their eyes and in desperation Harry buried his head in the dirt as he pulled his arms over this head and Ron and the others followed suit. But as quickly as the brilliant light had began it faded and silence fall on them. Or at least Harry thought it had, opening his eyes Harry could barely see Ron who had been closest to him but as his sight slowly recovered from the burning light that had imprinted itself onto his vision Harry could see that Ron was talking, his friends lips where moving but Harry couldn't heard any sounds, as a ringing echoed in his ears,
"-HIND YOU HARRY!" Harry finally heard Ron yell as his hearing suddenly came back and Ron frantically pointed behind him. Quickly turning to look over his shoulder, towards the Burrow Harry saw a sight that was completely impossible.
Harry looked in awe as he struggled to understand what had just happened, and what he was now seeing. Standing in front of him his back towards them, was a figure that Harry instantly recognised, it was different, very different but yet very much alike and Harry smiled as he looked upon the huge bear like frame of Padfoot; Sirius Blacks, Harry's god fathers animagus form.
"Sirius!" Harry called struggling to regain his feet, as he looked at the form of Padfoot that now instead of being huge and jet black and was now huge and snow white. Harry didn't understand. He also didn't care, and he smiled, Sirius was alive! They had all been wrong and now Sirius had proven that Harry had been right. His godfather was alive! But as soon as that happy thought entered Harry's head then it was dashed away as the white Patfoot vanished.
"Sirius!" Harry yelled frantically but his calls for his godfathers return where cut short by Ginny's scream
"Bill!" Ginny screamed as she hurried across the grounds towards her brother who was laid motionless on the ground But George grabbed her and prevented her from going any closer and Harry suddenly realised that the Burrow's grounds where Dementor free, the blackness had all but gone and the first of the morning rays where shining through the cloudless morning canopy. They had made it, some how they had made it. But as the sound of Ginny's tears echoed through the air as George held her tightly as he Fred and Ron looked upon their eldest brother, Harry realised that his survival had been paid with a very heavy price.
"What did you think you where doing boy?" a voice yelled from the direction of the burrow as Harry reluctantly looked towards the speaker to see with complete horror and amazement that the voice belonged to the dark cloaked figure that he had seen both outside four privet drive and in the shadows of the woods near the burrow. Harry was momentarily stunned by the fact that the voice was female.
"Where you wanting to be kissed?" The cloaked woman asked harshly as Hermione gasped at the sight of the woman, as she walked, almost casually towards Bill, her wand aimed directly at Fred and George.
"Leave him alone!" Hermione cried as she dashed towards Bill her wand pointing at the woman "Ron it's the watcher! This is the mysterious figure Harry told us about! The deatheater that's been following him!"
"Deatheater!" the twins called in shock as they raised their wands towards the strange woman
"You'll never take him!" Ginny yelled as she pointed her wand tip at the woman
"Don't be foolish" the strange woman replied in a soft voice that was tinged with a slight amusement as she dressed them all "If I wanted to you'd have all been dead by now" Harry looked towards Hermione, who out of all of them gathered around Bill was the only one that at the woman's words had lowered her wand,
"She's right Harry" Hermione hissed "it takes a really strong wizard to cast a light charm that powerful"
"Stand back" the woman demanded of Fred, who was the closet to her as he quickly obeyed as she moved closer to Bill and kneeled next to him placing her two middle fingers on the side of his throat, It felt like an age pasted as Harry and the others waited looking at the strange cloaked woman, the cloak's hood obscured her face and all Harry could see of her from the blackness of the thick heavy material was soft pale hands one holding her long black wand pointed at them and then other hand resting gently on Bill's neck.
"What are you doing?" Ron called as he looked down on the woman
"No" Ginny said shaking "please no"
"He's alive" the woman said in a softer voice as collectively Harry, Ron, Hermione, Fred, George and Ginny released their breath that they hadn't even known they where holding.
"He's very weak though" the woman continued "He'll need medical attention straight away. Those Dementors took a lot out of him. And you two where foolish if you think that you could have helped him" she reprimanded the twins as though they where naughty school boys and she was a Hogwarts professor.
"Foolish but brave" she said in a gentler tone that Harry found strangely pleasing,
"You saw what happened?" Hermione asked savagely and Harry whished that she hadn't
"Yes" the woman replied as she stood
"That's what we do. Could I borrow this for a second?" The woman asked the latter part to Ron and before he could reply she pulled his wand from his hand pointed it towards the sky and a stream of coloured ribbons issued out, Harry was instantly reminded of what the twins had done early when they had decide to call the order, but instead of being red and gold these ribbons looked to be made of silver. Harry watched and as silver thread like colours shot up into the air as they formed the shape of a reared stag before they streaked across the sky, and faded from sight.
"Thanks" The woman said as she tossed Ron's wand back which he caught and then through nervous dropped
"Some people will be coming soon so don't be alarmed" She said as she knelt once more next to Bill pulling her heavy hood further down over her face "I'll take him to St Mungo's, he'll be safe there and your parents are in the house" with that there was a loud Crack as both Bill and the woman vanished.