Behind the Veil
Warning:It starts off fairly dark but it won't get too much darker. There will be violence and a tad bit of language. Mostly it's dark because of Voldemort and his insanity. :-) And of course there are Order of the Phoenix spoilers!
It was a dark February night when the sky was cloudless and the wind drifted over the wizard world in hushed whispers, as if hiding a secret. The world was in turmoil because the news of Lord Voldemort's return had reached the ears of everyone in Europe. However, there was still no sight of him, no attacks; no sign of anything sinister. Not even his faithful Death Eaters that escaped Azkaban had been spotted at all. It gave everyone an unnerving sense of insecurity, but no one more than the Dark Lord's long time victim and arch rival: Harry Potter.
Hogwarts was still thriving, even during the middle of his sixth year, but even though it was continuing on as if nothing had changed, the students had shown their unhappiness in several different ways. Whether or not Draco actually had admitted his father worked for the Dark Lord, was no matter, because he consistently blamed Harry for their locked-up and chaotic world as if he being born had something to do with it. In truth, that was partially correct, but no one would ever admit it aloud.
Frequent visits from the Ministry had been forced upon Albus Dumbledore for the safety of the students to make sure everything was in proper order. Behind the Ministry's back, Dumbledore was having consistent meetings with the Order to try and summon an army, in case the Ministry fell. His problem was that the Minister, Cornelius Fudge, was growing very suspicious and often fell in his way. Though Dumbledore stood strong and never showed any amount of suspicion, he was growing tiresome and feared they wouldn't have an army when the worst came.
To Harry's misery, Sirius Black was still at large and the Ministry was focusing more on capturing him, though they didn't realize he was in no one's reach. To say he was dead would not exactly be right, for no one new what secrets were hidden behind the veil, and no one dared to find out. Harry had wanted so badly to jump inside after his Godfather, but alas he knew that wouldn't help anyone, not even Sirius. So now he moped around the school, followed by his best friends who tried to cheer him up, but they too had their hopes crushed. The world was becoming darker, even though the Dark Lord didn't show his face yet. It was as if the atmosphere was telling what was to come, the darkness that would swallow them and produce their worst fears.
The year had been going downhill ever-so-slowly for the students at Hogwarts, especially for Harry, Ron and Hermione who stuck closely together. Everyone wanted to put blame on someone else for their misery. At night all the doors had to be locked with securely perfected charms. Sleep was a dream that everyone wanted for themselves, but none could achieve it. The Ministry had canceled the Daily Prophet in case the Dark Lord or any of his followers picked up on it and read in between the lines. It didn't matter anyway; Rita Skeeter had been missing for some time having disappeared with no trace. Hermione partially blamed herself saying she should've kept her bottled up in the jar, but she knew she was only fooling herself. Every day was the same, the fear and the hatred of being miserable and locked up in their own world and country unable to speak freely for fear unintended ears would catch wind. Dumbledore even had no control over what was going on, and the heights the Ministry was taking, which was why he was continually summoning the Order in hopes of being able to create an army which would at least draw Voldemort out in the open. But so far his army was too small to even be called an army. Many more had joined the Order and even the private schools: Beauxbatons and Durmstrang helped as much as they could, but Dumbledore feared it wouldn't be enough.
Cornelius Fudge, Minister of the wizard world was damning them all with his cowardice. He would bark orders for people to go and do something then lock himself in his office in case the end of the world came. And every time it didn't come he'd come out and bark more orders. Families were disappearing without a trace, either from fear or maybe perhaps they decided to move to the muggle world, feeling it was safer. That was how horrible the predicament was for the wizard world. Mr. Weasley had tried many times to try talking some sense into him, but it was no use…Fudge was too worried about his own life to consider the lives of every other person on Earth. There was debate on whether or not Fudge should be demoted from his position to give rise to another Minister. Although it was discussed in secret outside of Ministry walls it was never put into action. There was always something that prevented it, whether it be another attack on a village, or another missing person being reported, the Ministry members and the Order members were always busy.
Behind all the fear and misery, building far from the reaches of the Ministry and Hogwarts, a force was growing stronger. Stores and shops were closed, so items were free for the taking. No one dared to go out though...no one except those working for the source of the fear. While everyone was waiting for the apocalypse, or some kind of miracle, destruction was being harbored in the least likely of places, out of the scrutiny of the Order or the Ministry. The wind was howling so loud voices were drowned out, even if people wanted to talk. What no one noticed was that the wind was harsh everywhere except in one small area, hidden by strong barricades...the hideout of Lord Voldemort.
The Ministry was reaching its limits, and all the members there knew it. Minister Fudge had not come out of his office that whole day. Was it a sign? Would anyone even see it? As usual, Malfalda Hopkirk was walking toward his office door to tell him to come out and take care of business. The world was falling apart—being sucked into chaos as it had fifteen years prior. Too many people were dying and too many families were lost and scared with no place to go. People were so scared and they were turning to the Ministry, sometimes coming to the door and banging on it. The Ministry had been discussing recently on bringing Harry Potter out in the open to make a speech in Hogsmeade to calm everyone down. The only problem was that it had to be run by the Minister.
Minister Fudge didn't want anything to do with Potter. He was convinced that he had known about the Dark Lord's plans all along and that he was leading the darkness to them. The last time he had visited Hogwarts it was right after Christmas. He had yelled at Harry in front of the Ministry and Order members when he had been talking about a recent dream he had, which he claimed was like a vision. Malfalda remembered that the boy had said something about the Dark Lord's army growing and that he was going to attack the Ministry, but Fudge didn't believe it. He said there was no sign of the Dark Lord anywhere and that all the Death Eaters were in Azkaban. Then it had happened…
Not long after New Years a huge explosion had woken up the guards nearby the Azkaban fortress. By the time Ministry officials got there all the Death Eaters had gotten away, the entire fortress having been burnt down. The Dementors too had vanished without a trace, obviously deciding which side they belonged on. After that the Minister had gone into denial to the point of saying Harry Potter was behind it all. Then he became paranoid, not trusting anyone, even the Ministry members that worked under him. He confined himself to his office, never leaving the Ministry building (for he thought that was the safest place, despite Harry's attempts and telling him the Dark Lord was planning to attack it) and didn't come out of his office much.
Before he had come out occasionally to give out orders, but now he was permanently locked inside, probably rocking back and forth like the lunatic he was. A new Minister would definitely be taking his place, but after the recent troubles were solved. A few people believed what Harry said and left the Ministry building to seek refuge at another place. Many people at Hogwarts believed him as well, but Fudge and many of the stubborn, high-class Ministry members didn't want to believe it. They believed the Ministry was the second safest place besides Hogwarts and said that Harry's so-called visions in the past were what labeled him crazy, only because there was no proof what he said had come true. However, if the Ministry was attacked then finally people would stand up and listen to the poor boy. Malfalda knew she had to talk some sense into the Minister, so she approached his door. But she didn't knock this time. Something caught her eye outside the window.
Cautiously she approached slowly, peering outside. It was blurry at first, the small ball of light, but as it neared she realized just how big it was. It was larger than the Ministry building, the aura around it almost making her head spin, and it was coming toward them. She turned around banging on the Minister's door yelling for him to come out because it was an emergency. The words just barely came out of her mouth before the Ministry building was surrounded in a flaming luminous power that had come from no where, undetected and swallowed it whole.
That had been almost a week ago that it happened—the catastrophe, the apocalypse that everyone was so afraid would come. It was the end of the wizard world, at least to the people but not to the new source of power controlling it. The Ministry had not been destroyed, but the members were quite a different story. Their memories had not only been erased in one swipe, but their identities taken from them. In short, they were "demoted" from top officials to forced followers of Lord Voldemort. Harry Potter's words about the dream he had came true, but everyone was in too much of a panic to notice the connection. And now, the Ministry members that had been inside of the building were no longer able to help anyone, not even themselves. The power that swallowed the Ministry was a mind controlling curse, one that could only be lifted by a very powerful charm to lift the curse, but to yield such a power would take an army, and that's what had created the curse in the first place.
Lord Voldemort had been in hiding in the Riddle house, changing its location and barricading it so not even Dumbledore could sense what he was planning. A whole year or more he waited patiently, slowly gathering the ingredients he needed before he was rewarded greatly. With the help of all ninety of his followers (not including Dementors or other beasts) the curse was able to come alive and put the whole Ministry under his control. The members now thought they belonged to him, served him, and now Lord Voldemort was not only head of the Ministry, but taking over all of Europe, section by section. Most people surrendered themselves to him, begging for mercy and to leave their families unharmed. He would do so, at a cost. Slowly Voldemort began taking over cities after cities, with help from followers, the former Ministry members and those that surrendered.
Hogwarts of course was another one of his targets, and when he got enough power he attacked ruthlessly. Albus Dumbledore was no match for half the wizard world against Hogwarts helping the Dark Lord unwillingly. Even with the help of his most prestigious students and teachers, Hogwarts crumbled under Voldemort's fingers. Students screaming, teachers trying their best to protect them, but in the end Voldemort won out. Dumbledore was seized and for the time being Voldemort left him alive in Azkaban, where he was guarded by Dementors and Death Eaters, along with most aurors or powerful wizards/witches who would not surrender. He had yet to figure out what he planned to do with them. The students and their families were forced into surrendering, the Slytherins more willing than most.
Despite the fact that Voldemort succeeded in his main goal of taking over Europe and having the wizard world bow at his feet, and defeating Dumbledore, something was amiss. Even with all his victory he was still unsatisfied, because the other important goal in his life had not been fulfilled. Killing and defeating Harry Potter. As long as the boy was alive and out there, with many others who escaped into hiding with him, his now slaves had hope that they would be saved. For some mysterious reason, the boy had just vanished without a trace. He hadn't been inside the school when it had been attacked and a small group of people had gone with him. There's was no word why or how this happened, but the survivors of the ambush had gotten away.
Voldemort was enraged and ordered groups of followers after followers to hunt the survivors down and bring them to him alive, but none of them were able to do so. Wherever they were the hiding place was well hidden from practically the whole wizard world, and because of even the small number that had escaped, even just the fact that Harry Potter had escaped him, Voldemort was never satisfied with anything. He enjoyed his role as the leader of the wizard world, ordering things day and night and torturing those he wished, but he always became enraged when Death Eaters approached him saying they couldn't find any trace of the survivors. Endless nights of screaming would echo throughout his fortress, which was made from the former Ministry building, now ten times the size of that and Hogwarts, in which he kept all his slaves working for him.
The roaring of fires rapidly burning throughout the fortress raged on as the wizards and witches now working for Voldemort continued to finish working on the fortress. Young children were sent into a big vast room where they would help with cooking and cleaning, simple chores and punishments were less harsh on them than adults. After all, Lord Voldemort had all of Europe like he wanted, so there was no need to be so merciless when he had everything in his control.
Now a month had passed since he conquered a great deal of the wizard world and the former free people all ready felt like they had been his slaves for a long time. They were preparing for his next goal, which was to invade the muggle world and have them surrender to him, or die. He would of course enjoy torturing them because of his deep malice against muggles. He was cruel to muggle born wizards/witches as well. And despite that muggles had no advantage or powers to use against him, he would make sure they were treated with utmost cruelty. At the moment though, Voldemort was taking his time and not rushing his followers and slaves into finishing up the fortress. He still had to make sure nothing and no one ruined his plan. As long as Harry Potter was out there alive, even though he had the disposal of at least ten to twenty armies of followers, whether forced or not, he felt aggravated and took it out on his Death Eaters most of all.
That day was no different. His slaves were working on the finishing touches of the fortress to build an escape route for him, just for convenience, and also a lair to which he could duel or torture, whichever he preferred. He had said he wanted the survivors alive for a reason, it was because he would have them watch as he dueled Harry Potter, the former savior of the world, and defeated him then torture him to crush the small inkling of hopes the people he controlled had. Then Harry Potter would either surrender to become a slave, whom Voldemort would be especially cruel and harsh on, or he would die a slow and painful death. Either way, Voldemort would get his way. He had proved it so far.
A soft knock came at the door of his chamber where he was constructing a strategic plan to invade and conquer the muggle world and have them bow to him unwillingly. Voldemort, in his long silky, black robe, set down the papers and seated himself in his comfortable velvet, red chair.
"Come in," he hissed.
The door opened and in stepped one of his main followers, Macnair. He approached slowly, head bowed before bending to the floor in a swift motion and began kissing Voldemort's robes. When he was finished he pulled back slightly, head still bowed, and waited for Voldemort to address him.
"Have you come to bring me good news, Macnair?" Voldemort's inhuman voice hissed softly.
Macnair tensed slightly, but otherwise showed no other signs of reaction.
"My lord, I have failed in your request to locate the Potter boy and the other survivors. However, I feel the need to reassure you we have a better lead."
Voldemort's lips curled into a malicious expression, "A better lead? I thought I told you I wanted him within a month!"
Macnair shivered as the hissing caused him to bow lower in attempt to shield himself from the wrath of the Dark Lord.
"M-master, please listen to what I have to say," Macnair stammered.
Voldemort's eyes were glowing with rage, but he sat back in his chair.
"My lord, I know you have been upset that we haven't found a trace of where the others are located. Now that you are in control of the Ministry and we now know exactly who is missing, it will be easier to track them down. Not only that, but we feel because they seem to be untraceable that they're hidden within a sacred vicinity," Macnair explained.
Voldemort's snake-like nostrils lifted slowly as he breathed in deeply. He put a pale, spider-like hand on the armrest of the chair.
"So...you believe they are hiding near a sacred barricade. That makes sense," he hissed quietly, a familiar sneer upon his face.
"Yes, we figured it out because the unicorns and other magical and harmless creatures have disappeared and the only place of safety they could go are temples or areas sacred to them, which is why we no longer can give you fresh unicorn blood but must create the blood using a potion," Macnair continued.
"I see...Very good Macnair. I want you to locate every sacred area and send Dementors out to each place. They will be able to sense them out quicker and then they will report back to me."
"Yes master," Macnair bowed, kissing the hems of his robes. "Is there anything else you require?"
Voldemort's eyes flashed intensely before he leaned back in his chair. "How many survivors have escaped?"
"We're quite certain that about ten did, master. Harry Potter, along with a couple of the Weasleys, I believe the daughter and their youngest son. Then a former professor at Hogwarts; I don't know her name but she taught Divination and a couple young witches named Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood. We're not sure about who else escaped with him at this time—if there were a few others, my liege," Macnair said quietly.
Voldemort's nostrils flared, "I see. And you're sure the boy didn't escape while Hogwarts was being attacked?"
"We are most certain, master. The entire school was surrounded by your loyal army and many of the dark creatures you gathered, like the tyrants. And in the forest and beyond Hogwarts the entire area was surrounded with Dementors to sniff out anyone who could've potentially escaped the castle."
Voldemort stood up slowly and approached one of the windows, looking down at the group way below him. He folded his long spider-like hands behind his back and didn't turn as he spoke.
"So, that means that the boy must've escaped long before the attack," he spoke softly, his words slurring as he hissed them.
Macnair lifted his head slightly. "M-master, are you suggesting that perhaps the boy knew about the attack?"
For a moment there was silence, but Voldemort turned ever-so-slowly around to face him. Immediately Macnair put his head back down, bowing low to the floor.
"It is possible. There were rumors a couple years ago that the boy had visions."
"Yes master, but we checked that out. The boy's family history has no Seers in it so he couldn't possibly have Seer blood in him," Macnair said.
"Hmm…perhaps," he hissed softly. "But somehow he escaped my clutches once again, even when I captured his mentor. If the boy did know I was coming and ran out, taking some with him, I wonder why he would leave his mentor and the rest to die."
"Master, if I may speak…I do believe there was an article published, right before Bella killed Rita Skeeter after getting as much information out of her as possible, it said that the Minister had visited Hogwarts and had denied the boy's claims. Perhaps he escaped with his life because most wouldn't believe him."
"Yes," Voldemort hissed. "It would be like Dumbledore to stay behind and protect those that Harry Potter couldn't. Still, keep your eyes open in case something else is amiss."
"Of course master, as you wish," Macnair bowed again, before disapparating.
Voldemort's deep crimson eyes narrowed into slits as Nagini came hissing out of her corner and crawled on the chair to where his arm lay. Voldemort rubbed her head, sneering to himself.
"Soon Nagini, soon I will finally have Harry Potter in my grasp."
The dark landscape had been burned with fire and hexes, now appearing like a wasteland rather than a sanctuary. Ironically it was the only place they could run to—the only place that wasn't surrounded by Death Eaters and Dementors or creatures of all sorts. This is where the few remaining gentle creatures roamed, looking for any place to hide until the darkness lifted—if it ever lifted. There was a small pond nearby that hadn't been touched. The water was still fairly clean, giving them time to refresh their energy and relax.
Harry stood staring at the darkening sky, wondering how things could have gone so wrong in such a short period of time. He had still been having nightmares about Sirius' death before and brooding over his loss, thinking that that had been the worst that had happened…until Voldemort attacked the Ministry just like he had seen. His vision had been blurry, but he had seen the Ministry members surrendering to Voldemort and doing his bidding. He assumed Voldemort attacked the Ministry, but he never suspected he would use such powerful magic to take control. He knew it must've taken much time to plan and probably used magic from many, if not all, of his followers as well as his own. Voldemort was back to his former strength as he was fifteen years ago and he was even more clever. He learned from all his past mistakes, even the mistakes his Death Eaters made and created a most ingenious plan that proved to be victorious.
Harry wished that things had turned out different. He wished with all of his heart that he could've stayed at Hogwarts with Dumbledore and his fellow students and friends. When news of Hogwart's destruction reached his ears he was numb with shock, as if a lightning bolt had struck him where he stood. Without Hogwarts, without Dumbledore, without everything that had protected him before, he felt more vulnerable than ever.
His eyes glanced over at the small number of people alongside him who were sitting silently by the pond. Some of them were cleaning their wounds and others were drinking, as if the water would wash away their misery and pain. There were only eight of them now including himself: Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Bill, Professor Trelawney, Luna, and Tonks. It was hardly enough to go against Voldemort in order to save the others that had been captured. Harry hoped that Dumbledore was still alive…and Remus too…and everyone else. He wanted so bad to run to Voldemort's fortress and threaten him, but with what? He had no special powers—nothing to trade with Voldemort. He wondered briefly if this was the end. Perhaps it was, but they had all survived didn't they? There was a reason for everything. And if in fact they couldn't win, they could at least try.
He sighed heavily before turning to head back to the group. They were all relying on him for survival. None of them showed it, but he could see it in their eyes. And he bet that even those captured by Voldemort were waiting for him to barge in there and defeat him allowing them to finally be set free. The burden had never been so heavy on him, but what could he do that no one could? If only he had seen what was behind the door in the Ministry—the door that supposedly contained the power that Harry had that Voldemort didn't.
Harry's heart suddenly skipped a beat as if a twinge of hope had suddenly risen within him. He remembered the door—the one that he had seen himself the previous year when he had been tricked into going to the Ministry. That one door that couldn't be open by anyone—anyone except himself. It had to still be there. If Voldemort couldn't open it then he couldn't get rid of it. Perhaps now was the time to finally see what was behind it. Harry caught something moving out of the corner of his eye and he turned to see a unicorn and her baby trying to find a place to hide in. The baby hid its head into the mother's shimmering hair. A small bought of courage welled up inside him and he turned around heading back to the group. Tired and sad eyes glanced up at him all around, but he stood firm, knowing that they wouldn't have the will to give survival a chance if he didn't appear strong. He knew it wasn't their fault—they were just looking for anything that would make them feel like they had a chance.
"I can't believe this happened," Ron choked out dryly.
Ginny was curled up between him and Bill, afraid that their parents might not have made it. Old tears were still dribbling down her cheeks and fresh ones were soon to come. Harry cleared his throat, causing Ginny to look up at him with weary eyes, as well as the rest of them.
"I've got an idea," Harry said.
Ginny lifted up her head and Hermione did too, having been hiding her face in her hands beside Ron. Tonks was already sitting down and glanced at him with surprise. Her normally cheerful eyes had taken on a dismal glint though surprisingly she didn't seem to want to give up as easily as the others.
"Tonks," Harry said, turning to her, "how much do you know about the inside of the Ministry, or how it was before?"
She scrunched up her face in thought, "Well…quite a bit, I think."
"Why?" Ron whispered hoarsely. "Why would any of that matter? You-Know-Who has taken over the entire Ministry and changed it to his own deranged fortress! He's got thousands upon thousands on his side now! And mum and dad…"
Ginny choked on a sob, but didn't allow herself to cry fully. Harry was inwardly angry at Ron for voicing all the fear out loud. Right now they needed strength—the will to do what he was about to suggest they do.
"It matters a lot, Ron. At least for those of us who still want to live and free those that have been caught," Harry said firmly.
"We can't free them! It's impossible!" Ron exclaimed.
"It's not impossible!" Harry shouted at him, causing Ron to wince from surprise. "If you're going to put the doubt and fear that should be kept at the back of our minds out in the open then I suggest you not come!"
Harry knew he was being harsh on his best friend, but right now he had to be—if they wanted to survive. Ron would forgive him later on. His eyes gave away that he looked slightly hurt, but Harry needed to convince him that it wasn't hopeless. He needed to convince all of them that there was a chance. Everyone was now looking at him firmly and Harry could see that all they needed was another slight push before they gave it one last ounce of determination.
"Look," Harry said more calmly, "I know things are looking bad—hell, they're looking damn near impossible but we do have a chance! I need you all to put in your last ounce of strength to do this. If it fails then you can give up."
"And what, sign ourselves over to the Dark Lord?" Bill asked, rubbing Ginny's back to calm her down.
Harry sighed, "No. If we truly give this a shot and it doesn't work then…then we can give up."
"Give up, you mean as in surrender?" Tonks asked, blinking curiously.
Harry nodded. "You all can if you truly lose all hope. I'll never surrender to Voldemort. I'll never give him the pleasure of killing the last potter," he said bitterly. "I'll fight to my death like my father but that's only the absolute last resort."
"Oh I knew something like this was going to happen!" Professor Trelawney wailed suddenly.
She had been quiet up until that moment. Harry wasn't sure why Dumbledore had suggested that he take her with them as well, but there was always a reason. Dumbledore had known that Hogwarts was going to be attacked and Harry supposed that Dumbledore knew there was no way he or many of the students and teachers would get away. So right after the incident with Fudge, when Harry told him about his vision, Dumbledore sent him packing with the few people beside him and went to this place that he directed them to. The only way Harry knew about the attack on Hogwarts was because he could see the smoke from the small mountain-type hill that he had apparated to that overlooked a vast area, including Hogwarts which had been across the large pond in the distance.
Harry hadn't understood why Dumbledore wanted him away. He should've known it after revealing his vision, but everyone was in such a panic that he didn't even register that Dumbledore was saving him and these few with him. Harry thought it was a small mission for the Order to go out to the place and then Dumbledore would send a message to him. But after a couple days of no response Harry got worried and that's when he saw the smoke…
But why…Why wouldn't Dumbledore tell me anything? Why would he only choose this small group to survive? How could this small of a group defeat Voldemort! There must've been a reason he chose us…if only I could figure it out.
Professor Trelawney was still wailing over how she knew something bad was going to happen. All the times she had seen the grim was finally proving true. Harry inwardly rolled his eyes and looked to Bill for help in order to calm her, Ginny and Ron down.
"What is it that you have in mind?" Bill asked, staring at him with determined eyes.
Harry took in a deep breath. "I'm sure you all know of the prophecy by now," he started. "What wasn't said was how to defeat Voldemort. The prophecy only said one of us would survive. Dumbledore told me that Voldemort's weakness lies beyond the door in the Ministry."
"But the Ministry doesn't exist anymore!" Ron exclaimed in a panic.
"Ron calm down," Bill said, putting a hand on his brother's shoulder. "Let Harry finish."
Professor Trelawney choked on a sob, but didn't say anything, which Harry was grateful for. He nodded toward Bill in thanks and continued.
"I know that the Ministry has been destroyed, for now," he added, watching as their eyes looked slightly less depressed. "But Voldemort could not have destroyed that room—the room beyond the prophecy room. I'm most certain he wouldn't even think of destroying the prophecy room because he has all the prophecies in the world that have been predicted, even though they're not about him. And the door beyond that in the tiny room can only be unlocked by two people: Dumbledore and me," Harry said, hesitating as he looked at all of them. "I'm not sure what lies beyond it, but it's the answer to our salvation. We have to get beyond that door and in order to do it we will have to sneak into Voldemort's fortress.
"I know that's dangerous," Harry said, before Ron or anyone else could interrupt saying it's a death wish, "but it's our only option. I have an idea of how to distract Voldemort so he at least won't be looking within his fortress for us. He wants me badly—I don't just know this I can feel it. I know an advanced charm that can project an astral projection of me and I can purposefully get seen by Voldemort's Death Eaters so that Voldemort will be on the hunt for me. It'll lead him away from this sanctuary and allow us easier access inside."
"But if you use astral projection then your real self won't be able to do anything," Bill said.
Harry nodded, "I know. I will project myself elsewhere from here, allowing Death Eaters to see me some place farther away and then we'll head to the fortress. Since Voldemort just expanded the Ministry building and changed its appearance the original building is still there—built inside of it, which means there's an underground passage that leads to the Minister's office. I'm sure there will be Death Eaters and Dementors lurking around for intruders, but Hermione is exceptional with distraction charms," he said glancing at her with a small smile.
"And Ron is great at binding spells. As long as he can shoot the back of a Death Eater then that Death Eater won't be able to move for a long time. And Luna," he said, gesturing to her as she sat quietly and calmly next to Hermione, "is excellent with disarming and summoning astral animals that look real and can chase the Death Eaters away. Bill, I know you're great with hexes and invisibility charms on yourself. Tonks…," Harry hesitated, knowing that Tonks was incredibly clumsy but she had a very important ability, "you have the most important ability of all."
"Really?" she perked up.
Harry nodded seriously. "Yes, you have the ability of metamorphamagus. I know it's going to be challenging, but do you think you'd be able to change your entire appearance?"
Tonks blinked, "Oh, well I haven't had much experience with that. I've changed my hair and my face and different parts of my body but never my entire self at the same time."
"I know, Tonks. But you're our last hope. If you get the hang of it and start practicing now with the people that are here while I project my astral self to lead many of the Death Eaters out of the fortress, then we'll be prepared for when the time comes. You'll need to know how to change into a Death Eater, one that we end up tying up or knocking unconscious so that the real one doesn't just show up. That way you can allow us past the prophecy room and toward the door that we need to get to. Once there, after I open the door and figure out what's behind it, I can project another astral me to distract the Death Eaters so that we can get out."
"But if we don't know what's behind the door how do we know we can take it out? Or how do we know there's even anything useful?" Bill asked skeptically.
Harry sighed heavily and shook his head. "We don't. But I trust Dumbledore with my life. He's been my mentor and has taught me everything. He's protected me from Voldemort and has trained me to fight against him. If Dumbledore says Voldemort's weakness is in there then it's there. All we have to do is get to it."
Harry looked around at all of them seeing expressions change on their faces as hope was restored. Even if it was a slight amount and temporary at least they'd have a chance now. From everyone's faces, Harry could see a unanimous agreement.
"What about me!" Professor Trelawney asked almost desperately. She looked frightened but at the same time didn't want to be left out.
Harry knew exactly what to say to her to keep her calm and not ruin the plan. "You also have an important job. You have to stay here and concentrate to see if you can get a vision. But also your job will be to lead us back here. The purpose of the sacred area is so no one can find it. I did as Dumbledore told me and burnt up his directions. I'll have to perform a memory charm on all of us, including myself, except you to forget where this place is in case a Death Eater does capture one of us. However, when we're escaping, once we've gone through the door, you have to lead us back. We'll send up yellow sparks to let you know it's us and you send up blue sparks."
"But what if Death Eaters find this place!" she wailed, cupping her hands over her mouth.
"Don't worry. Dumbledore also told me about an underground cave that's actually hidden beneath this pond. In order to get inside you swim underwater to the northeast corner, he said, and there should be a large rock that looks like a wizard's hat from a side view. You go up to it and tap it three times in a clockwise manner and it opens a tiny passage for you to swim through and inside is a cave. Dumbledore said that was used during the first war and Voldemort never discovered it so you should be safe. Ginny will stay with you as well," Harry said, glancing at her.
"There should be a way to look above the surface of the water from down there—like an opening. You'll be able to find it, I trust both of your abilities," Harry smiled almost sadly. "We should be back in just a few hours, hopefully. Keep a look out but don't move from the cave."
Ginny nodded her head fearfully, giving both her brothers and Hermione a quick hug. He turned toward Tonks and nodded toward her.
"Go ahead and practice trying to change into someone. I'm going to be sitting her concentrating to project as astral me in front of Death Eaters. Once I'm done and I'm sure they're far enough away and on the wrong trail, we'll head out."
Slow nods went all around and Harry took a deep breath, sitting down beside the pond and closing his eyes. He was nervous because he hadn't had much practice with astral projections. Dumbledore had only taught him a little bit, but Harry knew that he had to do this. All he had to do was remember everything Dumbledore taught him and he'd be able to do it. He heard Tonks as she used Ginny, Hermione and the others as practice, trying her best to get the hang of her ability to its max. It was all up to them—all eight of them—to stop Voldemort's domination and save the entire wizard world.
The air was hot and smelled of blood. The atmosphere was sickeningly depressing with dead corpses lining the floors. The dungeon was the worst place to go in the fortress and no one dared to enter into it, not even the Slytherins. Although the Slytherins too had surrendered Voldemort treated them more respectfully and didn't torture them half as much. Still, it was hell—a hell that Dumbledore had feared would come.
He remained locked in his cell with charms and hexes all around him covering the steel cage. It was small, only about ten feet wide and fifteen feet long. An entire month he had been stuck there slowing losing his strength from not eating and not drinking. He wasn't fazed too much though. Harry had escaped and that was what mattered most. He was the only one who could take that one step further to save them all. The entire Hogwarts staff had known about this for a while, ever since Harry had told them about his vision. Dumbledore knew it would come true so he had held a meeting. He told them that there was nothing they could do—they would allow Voldemort to attack and confine them for Dumbledore knew he wouldn't kill them right away. All they needed was a little bit of time.
The teachers had been frightened and confused as to why he was choosing it. They tried to tell him that they could fight and put up barricades and Dumbledore told them that if they wasted time like that, if they tried to fight, it would mean that Harry would want to stay and help them. And Voldemort would then get him for sure. Even Snape was angry at the fact that Dumbledore would risk all their lives and the lives of the students just for one boy, but he knew…he knew what Harry had to do otherwise the war would go and on and on and thousands upon thousands of families would be torn apart. It would living in misery for possibly a century or however long it took to overrule Voldemort. Dumbledore knew a shortcut—a shortcut that would spare them all that agony. Yes, they'd have to endure misery and torture for a little while in Voldemort's cold, merciless hands, but it would be better than a lifetime of misery, tragedy and living in fear.
He couldn't tell the teachers anything for if Voldemort suspected anyone knew a way to defeat him he'd torture them until they spilled everything to him then he'd kill them. That was why he erased his own memory after giving the orders to the staff. He didn't erase everything—he knew that Harry had figured out Voldemort's weakness deep in his unconscious. He had known it the entire time but it was up to him and him alone to find it. It was a terribly great burden and would cause him unbearable pain and it would also be a long journey but Harry would save them—this was his destiny whether or not anyone believed the prophecy.
He knew Harry had a great power harboring deep inside of him and that he would be able to figure out exactly what to do. If he hadn't allowed Harry, and the select few that would guide him to the start of his unfortunate journey, to escape and had instead tried his hardest to fight and save Hogwarts it would've only ended in misery anyway and Harry would have most likely been killed by Voldemort. Then the world's only chance at restoring peace would disappear. Even Voldemort could sense something about Harry, something different from the average wizard. This unfortunate tragedy—Hogwart's downfall—was necessary for peace in the end.
Dumbledore knew Voldemort wouldn't kill him yet and would keep him rotting in the dungeon until he captured Harry just to torture and kill the poor boy in front of him. However, he had trained Harry well and he knew he was capable of dodging capture as he proved the last year in the Ministry building when Voldemort had been after the prophecy. Dumbledore only hoped that Harry would remember what he had told him before he had left and listened to his advice. What he had said may not have made sense then but if Harry figured it out it would be of great help. Unfortunately, Harry would not be pleased with the task laid out for him. Dumbledore prayed that he wouldn't let the pain consume him and that he would see what was really there—what no one else would be able to see.
The door to the dungeon rumbled and Dumbledore opened his eyes wearily. He still had plenty of strength left, much to the Death Eaters' disappointment, but it only mattered that he stay alive long enough till Harry takes the step into his journey—then it would begin. Dumbledore's lips curled into a smile and his eyes flashed a surge of power before he hid it behind an expressionless mask as several Death Eaters approached the cell.
Bella Lestrange glared at him from the other side and tapped her wand against her side. The Death Eaters enjoyed sending curses into his cell and loving the fact that he couldn't escape it since he was bound against the wall. However, he reacted slightly more dramatically than they realized…all for a very good reason. They had to believe he was becoming weaker and weaker so that when they saw him dead in the cell it would be believable. Even Voldemort wouldn't suspect a thing. Tom Riddle was clever, oh yes, more clever than anyone Dumbledore had ever met, but…he had a weakness. And that weakness was Harry Potter. Voldemort would be too distracted about capturing Harry to look deeply into why Dumbledore would die, especially of old age. Tom Riddle would know that Dumbledore couldn't possibly die of natural causes but Voldemort would be too obsessed with wanting Harry's blood to notice the small connection.
"Master is too busy to speak to you directly so we're here to get some information out of you old man," Bella sneered.
She made a gesture and the other Death Eater Macnair stepped forward, undoing the charms and hexes to step inside. Dumbledore merely glanced at him and allowed him to pull his head back roughly and shove Veritaserum down his throat.
"Now, tell us where the boy is!" Bella demanded angrily.
"I don't know," Dumbledore replied calmly.
"Liar!" Bella screeched.
Dumbledore remained passive since he was under the spell of the truth potion. He knew what it was doing to him, since he was aware of it, but it didn't matter for he knew nothing. He had cleverly erased his memory of Harry's whereabouts as well so he truly knew nothing. But his gut told him Harry was safe and would do exactly what he was destined to do.
Bella stalked into the cell and pointed her wand at him. "TELL ME NOW YOU OLD FOOL!"
"Bella stop this," Macnair growled pushing her hand away. "Master doesn't want him dead."
"I wasn't going to kill him," she said bitterly, glaring heatedly at him. "I was just going to give him unbearable pain!"
The other man, Dolohov, who was behind her, shook his head. "He won't react because he's hypnotized right now."
Bella scowled and put her wand back in her robes. "How can he know nothing!"
"Maybe he didn't know the boy would leave the castle," Macnair suggested.
"I highly doubt that. They care for each other so sickeningly much it's pathetic!" she spat. "Dumbledore surely wouldn't let the boy run off!" she scowled darkly. "Master's not going to be pleased. We haven't been able to find the boy anywhere and without this old fool's help we may not find him soon enough!"
"We will," Dolohov answered. "Macnair said he figured out he might be hiding in a sacred area."
"Do you know how many there are? And some of them are almost impossible to get to because they're hidden!" Bella shouted angrily, clenching her fist and slamming it against the cell wall.
"Yes, but master says if we send Dementors they'll be able to sneak past the sacred barricades. So they'll report back when they've found a trace of them," Macnair replied.
Bella unclenched her fists but continued to scowl. "Fine!" she exclaimed, stalking back out of the cell. "Leave him here to rot! He's of no use to us! Hopefully master will kill him soon."
Macnair followed her out and the cell was once again locked up with charms and hexes. Dumbledore stared straight ahead as if in a trance, but he could hear everything going on. He would just have to wait an hour before the affects wore off but until then he'd have to be patient. Harry was safe but only for now. Eventually the Dementors would be able to get inside and then they'd have no where to hide. It was now or never.
I believe in you Harry. You can do this. Your parents had great power as you do. You just have to look deep inside yourself and find that strength. And when you do…you can save us all.
Harry opened his eyes and lifted his head straining his ears. He could've sworn he heard something. Perhaps it was his imagination caused by the stress and agony of their situation. It was hard astral projecting but he managed to be seen by a Dementor that had chased his astral self into a forest. Hopefully Voldemort would send out most of his Death Eaters to hunt down the illusion so that they wouldn't have too much of a problem getting inside. He stood up from his spot and turned to where Tonks was still practicing.
"Are you guys ready? It's time," Harry said.
Ron visibly gulped and looked up at Bill who nodded grimly. Tonks didn't seem fazed much as she nearly tripped over the long black hair she had morphed onto herself. Ginny had pulled her arms over her legs and she and Hermione were leaning up against one another in silence. Harry got the feeling that they were trying to say goodbye to one another in case something bad happened to either one of them. Professor Trelawney was biting her nails and looking all around her wildly but didn't say anything. And Luna remained passive wearing an unreadable expression.
Harry took a deep breath and walked toward Ginny resting a hand on her shoulder. Her lips quivered and suddenly she threw her arms around him crying onto his chest, since he was a few inches taller than she was. Harry was startled and stumbled a bit but awkwardly rubbed her back. He didn't know how to soothe her pain and fear—he didn't even know how to soothe his own. But he did the best he could and when she pulled away, tears streaming down her cheeks, Harry gave her a small smile to give her some reassurance. She wiped at her eyes then ran over to her brothers to give them hugs goodbye. It took them longer to part but finally Professor Trelawney and Ginny stood beside one another to see them off before they had to crawl into the hidden hiding place.
They watched as the six of them trudged slowly together toward the path to what used to be the Ministry building. Harry knew they wouldn't have too much trouble getting to the building since the Dementors where busy looking in the wrong place, but it was sneaking inside that would be the hardest part.
Just like he predicted it only took them a half an hour to get there. They jogged half the way there to save time and soon they came into the clearing where the large fortress stood black as could be. Its appearance had changed so drastically Harry was almost sure they took a wrong turn, but it was the same pond nearby and the same telephone booth that stood unused that told him this was it. There were a couple Dementors outside the building, but Harry knew exactly what to do. Conjuring up his famous patronus charm he sent them hurtling through the air in fear. They wouldn't be back for a few minutes and once they came back they'd search the grounds for intruders but wouldn't find any. Luckily they weren't smart enough to go warn Voldemort they had been chased away by a Patronus Charm.
It was suicide to go in the entrance, but there was a window that they'd be able to break into. Voldemort was still finishing the fortress and since he had conquered so much he felt no need to keep hexes or anything around the fortress so it wasn't too difficult to break the window and creep inside then use Reparo to fix it back up. Footsteps were noticeable nearby so Harry summoned his invisibility cloak and expanded it so it fit around all of them. They hid breathlessly in the dark as several Death Eaters passed by chatting about the progress on the fortress.
"Come on," Harry whispered, once they had passed.
Ron was shaking beside him but followed him as they slipped into the hallway and headed toward the prophecy room. They were all cloaked in the invisibility cloak but that wouldn't help them in every situation. Harry stopped them and peered around the corner of the next hall and saw five Death Eaters standing together. He looked at Hermione and nodded and she glanced at him and nodded back, looking slightly pale. She held out her wand and pointed it at a small bug crawling in the wall. She whispered something and it suddenly transfigured into a Gremlin—a nasty creature that caused all sorts of trouble.
Hermione zapped it in its back and it screeched running out into the hall. They heard the Death Eaters give a shout of surprise and they began throwing curses at it. The Gremlin, having been a bug but suddenly gaining the personality of a Gremlin, began cackling in a hoarse, inhuman way and ran down the hall quickly. The Death Eaters chased after it and they wasted no time in running the opposite way down the hall that would curve toward the stairs.
And once they went down the flight they'd have to keep going until they reached the ninth floor—the lowest floor of the Ministry building— where the Department of Mysterious had been. Even if the entire floor had been rearranged the Locked Door (as it was called since no magic or device could open it) and the Hall of Prophecy would still be there. All they had to do was remember the area where the rooms had been.
They did exactly that and Luna placed a charm on their shoes so they could run quietly down the stairs. When they got to the bottom they held their breath as more Death Eaters were down there walking around and conversing. It seemed that every direction had a Death Eater which meant they couldn't create a diversion. They needed something else…
"Tonks," Harry whispered, "do you think you could transform into one of the Death Eaters we saw upstairs really quickly?"
"Harry! What if they come down?" Hermione whispered fearfully.
"We just need to get down that hall. That's where the door leads to the Hall of Prophecy and beyond that is the Locked Door that we need to get to. We're almost there."
"I'm not sure if I could do it," Tonks whispered, blinking a few times. "I practiced a little but I'm not sure if I can fully complete it."
Harry's stomach lurched but he knew they had no choice. "Just do the best you can."
Tonks nodded and sucked in a deep breath. The sound caused one of the Death Eaters nearby to turn his head. Harry's heart was pounding loudly and he watched Tonks close her eyes and concentrate. She began to morph very slightly. Her arms became bulkier and then her legs but she didn't appear to be able to even it out. Harry was nervously glancing at the Death Eater approaching.
"Just concentrate on the face. You can always wear a cloak," Harry whispered.
Tonks apparently heard for her body stopped morphing and her face began to change. The Death Eater nearby walked swiftly toward them and looked around for the source of the noise, coming very close to the doorway which was mere feet from the bottom of the stairs. All of a sudden a figure moved from inside the cloak and at first thought they were flipping it off to reveal them, but instead the figure slipped from it and approached the Death Eater, who stopped and stared in the dark.
"Malavin is that you?"
"Yes," Tonks said and Harry bit his lip when her voice didn't come out very deep.
"What's up with you?" The Death Eater asked, crossing his arms.
"Nothing," she said a bit deeper. "I just uh…need to get something."
"What?" he asked curiously.
"Erm…just a…brain for the master," she answered quickly.
The Death Eater's eyes glimmered in the dim light. "What did you say?"
"You know, from the brain room."
"Oh," the Death Eater replied. "What for?"
"Don't know, he didn't say. But I should hurry before he becomes agitated."
"Okay," the Death Eater replied.
Tonks began to move past him but he grabbed her arm. Harry froze, having been moving quietly behind Tonks to get past the Death Eater.
"Do you know if the Dementors were successful in catching the boy?"
"Um…no I don't but I do know they're hot on his trail."
The Death Eater's lips curled into a malicious smile. "Good."
He let go of Tonks' arm and Harry and the rest of them moved very slowly out of the doorway as the Death Eater watched Tonks walk down the hall. Tonks made sure not to rush to look suspicious and Harry had to make sure they didn't bump into oncoming Death Eaters who might find it odd bumping against something invisible. Ron nearly tripped over Harry's foot while a couple Death Eaters were passing and they turned their heads from the noise but only nodded at Tonks who nodded back. Harry's eyes widened as he noticed Tonks' hair was changing back to normal. He tapped her back to tell her to move quickly and she jumped a bit startled but got the message.
They made it to the end of the hall and Tonks opened the door and they followed her inside. Harry nearly choked at the sight of all the prophecies lined on the shelves. The room was still the same as it had been. And there across the room was the Locked Door—the door that Harry had wanted to open since he tried.
Tonks easily changed back into herself and sighed heavily. "Wow, that was challenging."
"Wait, Harry," Ron whispered. "How can we open that door?"
"What do you mean?" Harry whispered back, as they all approached it.
"Remember last time you used the magic knife and it melted? No magic or anything works on it! How will we get in?" Ron whispered hoarsely.
Harry's eyes widened. He had completely forgotten about the fact that he had already tried to get inside. Yes, Dumbledore told him what lie beyond it was Voldemort's weakness (which happened to be love like when Harry's mom sacrificed herself for him) and Dumbledore said that's what Harry has most of, but he never thought about how to open it. Dumbledore had said something to him before he had left. He had said: "Harry, things may get more painful and you may find yourself having to suffer more than others but remember that emotions can be cloaked so that you may see what lies beyond what is so obvious. When the time comes you will have to face the one thing you fear most and I know that you will reach forward and raise what covers your destiny and step inside."
He didn't understand what Dumbledore was trying to tell him. And he wasn't even sure if his advice could help. Beside him Ron was fuming with a mixture of fear, anxiety and anger.
"You mean we just walked into a death trap for nothing!" he hissed.
"Ron be quiet I'm trying to think!" Harry snapped defensively.
"Oh right, now you want to think. You should've done that before putting all our lives on the line!" he snapped back heatedly.
"Ron—" Bill began, but Ron silenced him with a look.
"Harry, you dragged us here and even gave us your famous heroic speech, so how come you don't have a plan to get us inside!" he said angrily.
Harry knew Ron was talking out of fear and desperation but he was still boiling inside. He knew it was his mistake but if he hadn't gotten them up and going they would've wasted precious time and never would've made it that far.
"Would you just let me…"
Harry trailed off as he noticed finally that Luna was no longer beneath the cloak. She had approached the door and staring at it, pressing her ear up against it. Ron stopped arguing and turned to where Harry was staring.
"What is it Luna?" Hermione whispered.
"I hear voices," she said quietly.
Ron and Harry exchanged uneasy looks and even Tonks looked curious.
"Voices?" she asked curiously.
"What do you mean? If no one's been able to open that door how can anyone be there?" Ron asked uncertainly.
"Shh!" Luna whispered putting a finger to her mouth. "They're saying something."
Ron glanced at her and then stared at Harry with the expression that read: "She's looney!" Harry just watched her closely waiting for her to do something. Luna was strange alright but there was something else about her. She had seen the Thiestals like Harry had and she had eased his pain slightly about Sirius. Luna lifted her head off of it and nodded. She put her hands on the doorknob and Harry stepped forward to stop her, remembering what happened to the knife, but he was too late.
Luna grabbed hold and pulled. The door opened slowly as if it were heavy until it was wide enough for them to fit through. Hermione's eyes were wide and Ron's mouth had dropped open in shock. Harry too was staring unbelieving. He had tried to open the door before, but how could Luna have opened it so easily?
"Luna…how?" Harry whispered.
Luna turned to him and stared at him evenly, her misty eyes holding an emotion Harry couldn't place.
"The voices said I could open the door."
"Maybe we shouldn't go inside if someone's in there," Ron whispered, shivering slightly.
Hermione's face suddenly changed as her eyebrows furrowed. "No! We got this far we're going all the way!"
"But what if there's nothing inside! What if there's nothing to help us! Then we'd have done this for nothing!" Ron argued, turning to her.
Hermione glared at him firmly. "Then it'd be better than sitting where we were waiting for death to find us. At least we're doing something."
Ron was taken aback but he shut his mouth. Harry inched forward beside Luna and then nodded. Hermione followed behind him with Tonks at her side and then Ron and Bill. They all entered into the room, hoping that what they'd find would be well worth the risk they had taken.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Author's Note:I hope to update this by this upcoming weekend! I hope you guys enjoyed the prologue! I'm not really sure how long this story will be right now but I'll try to keep the chapters nice and long like this. Thanks!