The Ministry Falling
As the Atoners patrolled the square again, Harry wondered if James Potter was housed in Azkaban.
He moved away when he saw Cotter making her way over to his cell. The door scraped open.
She walked in carrying a small bottle. Its orange liquid sloshed inside.
"Quarantine is over. I made a potion to protect us. Drink up." She uncorked the bottle, poured a little into a tin cup, handing it to him.
"That was quick," he said. "What caused it?"
"By a magical cousin of the Black Plague," Cotter grimaced. "I think Beth, the original prisoner who had died from the disease, had eaten a rat in her cell. Rapid infections sometimes occur here which last a few days. However, we're always on top of it once we know what it is."
Harry drank the disgusting potion. It tasted like rotting sardines. "Did Brodes survive?"
Her expression turned dark. "Unfortunately... Brode's isn't an easy man to kill, Potter. He's already up and about terrorising Class B prisoners out of the Black Square. Meryn survived as well, and the prisoners who were infected will make it through now."
"What happened to my father? Is he still here?" he questioned,
She shook her head. "He was taken away by Kingsley, back to a more secure location." Cotter corked the bottle again. "Listen, your father left me a message for you: he says the children are safe and well."
Harry let out a sigh of relief. "Thanks…"
After Cotter left, boredom got to him, so he ate another one of Dumbledore's biscuits and fell asleep instantly. He was still a bit unnerved by the previous experience; he really didn't want his Mirror telling him how horrible his childhood was. But Harry knew his Mirror was doing it to intimate him.
He walked through the mirror, ignoring his reflection and found himself following a much more agile Remus Lupin up the Potter's staircase, holding his little Mirror's hand.
Harry could feel the fear the boy was experiencing.
The boy was about four years old and Remus occasionally slowed down so that Mirror Harry could catch up with him. They were both silent as they walked through the corridor upstairs. Voices were drifting out from the closed bedroom door at the end.
"… In the last few months, there have been times where he displays really powerful, meditated magic which seems to exhaust him. It's not accidental magic he does; he procures things for his own deeds," Lily said. "I saw him transfigure Michael's nappy into an almost perfect safety pin… What four year old child does that? He sleeps for unusually long periods afterwards."
"…But Albus, surely, this magic is just too rare… No one in my family has ever been one—"
"It doesn't necessarily have to be from your side of the family, James. Even though Lily is Muggle-born, somewhere down her family line there is magic," Dumbledore spoke.
"Well, it definitely skipped a few generations," Lily exclaimed. "Do you think this is the Power the Dark Lord knows not, as the Prophecy states?"
Remus knocked, breaking the conversation within.
"Come in," Lily answered.
The bedroom door opened. Harry saw a younger Dumbledore with grey hair and beard and his much younger parents. Lily was sitting by James's bed side and James was extremely pale and clammy. He was slowly, but shakily drinking a cup of tea.
Remus tugged on the child to enter. "Come on, Harry, it's OK."
Harry knew the boy was scared and worried.
James grinned over his cup of tea. "Ahh, here's my little tyke!"
"Harry, come here." Lily smiled, patting her lap.
The little boy gulped, looking at Remus for reassurance. The werewolf smiled gently and urged him on.
"Good afternoon, Harry," Dumbledore greeted happily.
"Hullo Mr Dum-bly-dore," the boy said shyly, as he clambered onto his mother's lap. His green eyes were reproachful, before he buried his head into Lily's flowery dress.
"Harry," Lily laughed, "Darling, there's nothing to be shy about—"
The boy mumbled something, somewhere amidst his mother's armpit.
"…No sweetheart, you're not in trouble. Mr Dumbledore has a few questions for you, that's all."
Dumbledore rummaged through his purple robe, and then tapped the armchair next to him. "Harry, sit here with me. I have a treat for you."
The Mirror reluctantly obeyed and the old wizard pulled out a chocolate frog.
"Thank you, Mr Dum-bly-dore," little Harry replied, though still wary. He played with the packaging.
"Would you like me to tell you an amazing, stupendous story, my boy?" Dumbledore asked, smiling
Little Harry turned to his parents, again looking for support. They both smiled back and the boy nodded vigorously. "Yes, thank you, Mr Dum-bly-dore."
Dumbledore's moustache quivered. "A long time ago—"
"How many years?" the boy interjected.
James snorted into his cup of tea and Harry could see a cheeky smile appearing just beneath Dumbledore's grey whiskers.
"Oh… lets say over a hundred years… give or take." Dumbledore cleared his throat. "There was a little boy, just like you—"
"Did he wear glasses?"
"No, but he was just as small and skinny as you are and he asked a lot of questions too." He peered at the child above his half-moon spectacles. "This little boy was happy and he played with his brothers, but sometimes the children made things happen by accident because the magic in them exploded with bursts of energy. This is all normal. This is all a part of growing up. But sometimes, this little boy's magical accidents felt different to him. They felt so powerful that he felt very tired afterwards and he would take long naps straight after. Do you understand, Harry?"
He nodded, as he played with his unopened chocolate frog.
"One day, this boy was playing hide and seek and he hid behind a big tree he touched this tree, and all of a sudden, he felt a surge of power— an energy he never felt before entered his body. The boy looked up and saw that the leaves on the tree were dying, and falling. When he pulled away, the leaves started to recover and become green again. The boy touched the tree again, and he felt its power becoming a part of him. The tree died, but the boy now had the tree's power within him."
Little Harry's brow crinkled, he bowed his head, hands interlocked together as though he was worried.
"Harry…" Dumbledore said soothingly. "What happened to your father yesterday?"
"I don't know… We were pw-laying and I touched his face, and—and I felt like—I felt weird..."
Dumbledore nodded. "How did that power feel to you?"
"Stwange Mr Dum-bly-dore, but it felt nice. I will never do it again." The boy frowned, giving his father furtive glances. "Will Daddy be OK?"
"Yes. He will regain his energy and his magic will recover, but for now he must rest. Has this happened before?"
Mirror Harry frowned. "Sort of, with Mildred, my cat… I touched her once, and I could feel her life and I could feel her feelings. She didn't like that and she bit me and—and she ran off." The boy held up a finger. "Can you see the scars?"
"Oh dear, that does look nasty. Harry, eat your chocolate frog." Dumbledore looked up, gaining his parents' attention.
"Surely he can't be?" James said. "Little children don't draw power from other living things… this is D-A-R-K—"
"James!" Lily spat. "Not now."
Dumbledore played with his beard. "Yes they do at this young an age. It is natural for young— M-A-G-E-S. However it is only a short phase, a foretaste of what they can become with the honing of their ability. It is such a flitting glimpse that many do not recognise it for what it truly is. Therefore, many wizards grow up never knowing of their gift. If Harry had never retrieved your power, James, we may never have known."
"I rather we don't—"
"James!" Lily huffed indignantly. She asked Remus to remove her son from the room.
As Harry watched Remus take the child's hand, he saw a mirror materialise on the wardrobe door. He quickly went through it.
He found himself on a windy cliff top, and witnessed his sixteen year old Mirror sitting precariously at its edge.
Harry strolled forward with the wind whipping his hair, and gazed below. It would've been a good hundred metre drop, and the jagged rocks would've ripped anyone to shreds. Harry watched the waves pound them. He could taste the saltwater drops drifting in the wind.
But something was wrong as he turned to his Mirror. He observed every feature on his exhausted face. Mirror Harry was shivering and so white, he looked like death. His eyes were red and sores covered his mouth, his long hair wet and dirty. He watched the waves beneath. Just one move and he would disappear to its depths.
He could feel the boy's anxiety, and a cold black feeling of despair. The Mirror wanted death.
Harry turned around and surely enough, he saw Bellatrix and a couple of others waiting in the distance. Draco Malfoy approached the Mirror.
"Harry?" Malfoy said. He reached out, pulling on the Mirror's robes. "Don't do it."
"Fuck you, Malfoy."
Malfoy pointed his wand at him. "I'll save you again."
"I know you would." The Mirror twitched his head and sighed. "Sit with me."
"Er… as long as you promise that you won't shove me off."
"I don't have the energy to do that."
Malfoy cautiously sat down on the ledge beside him. "Here…" He pulled off his cloak. The Mirror flinched as Malfoy covered his shoulders with it.
"Listen, school started a week ago. I need to make sure you get to Hogwarts. The Dark Lord and Dumbledore expect you to make it for sixth year," Malfoy said in a whisper, eyeing the distance between the seashore and their sitting position on the cliff.
"Dumbledore…" Mirror Harry whispered, glassy green eyes reflecting the waves below him.
Draco turned back, so did Harry. Bellatrix watched on with two other Death Eaters, their black robes fluttering in the wind like grim demons.
"Yeah, that's right, Harry… Dumbledore is waiting for you to return."
At first when he had seen it, Harry had thought it was a puddle, but beside his feet an oval mirror glittered. He jumped through it and landed softly in a garden, a great shabby backyard.
Harry found his Mirror sitting on a rusty bench, bent over with a hand on his forehead, deep in thought. There was a rabbit hole in front of him and with his outstretched hand he muttered, "Avada Kedavra…"
"Avada Kedavra…" Leaves outside the hole smoked. He smirked and puffed up his chest. "Avada Kedavra…" he said again with more confidence. This time the leaves caught on fire.
A boar bolted from the bushes, scaring both of them.
"Bloody hell, Charlie!" Mirror Harry jumped onto the bench as the boar circled it, then he attempted to push it over with his tasks. "Stop!" he cried out, trying to keep his balance.
The boar obeyed, but pawed at the dirt, angrily. He wasn't a complete Animagus yet. One of the boar's ears was still human looking and his snout looked more like a nose. He changed into human form with a pop.
"What were you up to?" Charlie asked, dusting off his ripped t-shirt. "And why have you packed up all your stuff? Are you leaving again?"
"Nothing is happening," Mirror Harry snapped. "Just stop being so nosy!"
The Mirror jumped off the bench, staring at his brother. They both faced each other: a scrawny boy next to his rotund, taller brother.
Charlie looked around and whispered. "You were practicing the Killing Curse. I saw you!"
"Why were you spying on me?"
"I wasn't, really. I just happened to see it, and it doesn't look good that you're practicing the Dark Arts when Hogwarts has just closed because of mass murder."
Mirror Harry sighed and sat back down again. Charlie followed suit.
"I think…" His younger brother hesitated. "I think you'll be able to master the curse with your wand at first, until you've gotten the hang of it— which I hope you won't by the way!"
The Mirror slowly pulled out his Yew and Phoenix wand. He swished it towards a small tree, and a jet of green light dazzled the boys, exploding the shrub in front of them.
"Holy shit, Harry!"
Mirror Harry twirled the wand in his hand, but seemed unsure. Then a little brown rabbit poked his head out of its burrow, he pointed his wand at it.
Charlie's eyes widened and he held his breath. Harry could almost hear the boy's frantic thoughts. "Ha—Harry?"
The little brown rabbit was quite oblivious to the danger staring at its twitching nose.
The Mirror's hand shook. "I can't…"
"Why do you have to?" Charlie turned the wand away from the rabbit. "This isn't you—"
"Shut up!" he lashed out, pushing his brother to the ground. He pointed the wand into his face.
"Are you going to kill me?" Charlie asked with fear in his voice. "What's happened to you? You used to tell me everything about what you were up to— with Voldemort, With the Horcruxes, with Dumbledore and what he was teaching you. You've changed so much ever since Dumbledore lost! Did you really open the Chamber—?"
"SHUT UP!" he yelled. "I DIDN'T OPEN IT!"
Charlie got up and took a step forward, crouching cautiously close to his brother. "Harry, please tell me the truth. Please tell me something, like old times… I won't tell our parents. It'll be our secret. All I want to know is, is… are you a Death Eater?"
A swift expression of terror crossed his Mirror's features. Harry had almost missed it.
"Yes," he replied quietly.
Charlie recoiled in horror. "For—for how long?" His eyes flicked towards his brother's wand.
"For a year now… The Dark Lord favours me." Mirror Harry lifted his wand again, smirking.
"I knew this was going to happen, ever since you developed your power," Charlie said softly, wide-eyed. He stood up, towering over his brother.
"Get out of my sight!"
Charlie obeyed without a backward glance and bolted. Mirror Harry pocketed his wand. He picked up a rock and in rage threw it into the rabbit hole.
Another mirror appeared on the Potter's old stone wall. Like the others before it, Harry walked towards it, but he suddenly heard an echo, an anguished scream from somewhere in his Mirror's mind.
But Harry ignored his plea and through the new mirror he went.
"Nooooooo—don't—not this one!"
Oddly, the memory took moments to appear. It shimmered in blues, then a bedroom started to materialise. The blue glow lingered around Harry for awhile, before it dissipated. Strange, he thought, he had never encountered that before in his Mirror's memories.
Charlie sat at his desk reading a book and scribbled on parchment. "Hey Harry," he said without looking up. "Would you… er… mind helping me with this Defence essay? I want to get it finished soon. I can't believe its due on my birthday! You'd think Remus would lay off a bit."
Harry turned around and found the almost fully fledged wizard, Mirror Harry, standing at the doorway.
The Death Eater strode into the room in silence, closing the door carefully behind him. Harry noticed the wand behind his back.
"No…" his words were barely a whisper.
"Harry, wha—?" Charlie said, turning around, the wand now pointing in his face.
"Why did you tell Dumbledore that I was a high ranking Death Eater?"
"Harry, I-I didn't! I never said anything—"
The green light filled the bedroom and Charlie slumped onto his desk, his hazel eyes wide and lifeless.
Behind the bed there was a scream, a little girl screaming. Jessica had been playing with her toys and Mirror Harry had not realised. He had not seen her in the room.
The Mirror whipped around, hesitated, and flicked his wand at his sister. A jet of blinding white light hit the girl squarely in the face. She fell back screeching harder, covering her eyes. He jumped over the bed, and he was about to grab the girl when the bedroom door exploded off its hinges.
That strange blue shimmering glow occurred again, obscuring the rest of the scene. But Harry did not want to leave as a large mirror appeared, revealing his cell.
So this is the memory… Was that why he killed Charlie, over a secret? What was he going to do with Jessica?
Under the command of Bellatrix, Severus followed the throng of armoured Death Eaters pouring into the Ministry of Magic and into every department.
The Auror impostors positioned outside of the Minister's office had captured the Minister for Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour and Thomas MacCloud, head of the Auror department. Umbridge had been captured as well.
The Aurors guarding the Ministry were all dead, their bodies transfigured into various objects and thrown aside. Those lucky enough to be spared were hoodwinked. All this had been done in a well timed and quiet attack striking all the Aurors at the same time in the wee hours of the morning. Anybody that took a moment to blink during the attack wouldn't have noticed anything.
Severus noted that here was a manic expression on Bellatrix's face, and a smile that reeked of ugliness. She blasted the statues into rubble, and fired curses at stray witches and wizards from their feet, killing them instantly before they could utter a word.
The screams started as the Death Eaters entered the departments. Papers and memos rained over their heads. Desks, chairs and doors splintered and hurled into the air.
The Ministry employees had no wands to protect themselves with, and every escape route had been blocked. Curses bounced off the walls and the whole place lit up brightly, like fireworks.
Screams, pleas and laughter… It was a cold brutal laughter, which sent a chill up his spine. It was the devil's playground.
"Please… please don't kill me," a wizard cowering in the corner yelled.
Smoke and flames filled the rooms. Witches screamed as a few were forced on by Death Eaters wanting their way with them. Others were tortured before being killed.
Severus watched Bellatrix and others pulling employees by fists full of hair towards the Ministry atrium, now filled with long lines of imprisoned Ministry workers kneeling down and restrained with chains. They cried, they screamed. They were bloodied and pale with fear knowing that they were now an inch from death.
The Dark Lord walked amongst them.
"Join me or die," he hissed, his snake-like eyes red like the blood smearing the atrium walls.
The Dark Lord stepped over the bodies of Minister Rufus Scrimgeour, Thomas MacCloud, and Cornelius Fudge, who was head of Law Enforcement. He had killed them all himself in front of the crowd of frightened workers. The bodies were all sprawled in the middle for all to see. Dolores Umbridge's head was next to the Minister, though her own body was nowhere to be found.
"Join me and your lives and that of your families will be spared," the Dark Lord repeated ominously.
More than eight hundred or so Ministry employees stood up and walked to the other side. Severus pitied them, they were thinking about the survival of their families. Self preservation was such a Slytherin trait. The rest, who did not join, risked their lives now. The Dark Lord turned to his servants and said, "Do what you want."
And so the blood bath began.
Severus pulled three witches and a young wizard up nearest him and walked fast. All of them were struggling to free themselves as curses flung over their heads, and bodies around them dropped like flies.
"Please don't," a blonde cried, makeup running down her cheek, her lip split and bleeding. She looked only twenty, and Severus vaguely remembered her as a gossipy Hufflepuff he had taught years back. Brave stupidity had kept her kneeling, rather than join the Dark Lord.
"Draco, get as many as you can!" he clipped, seeing the boy to his right, and thank goodness his parents were nowhere to be found.
Lucius and Narcissa had their own mission to accomplish. When Severus had been summoned, he had heard the Dark Lord speaking with the Malfoys.
"Lucius, the Department of Mysteries experiments on their secrets using lowly Death Eaters who had been caught and imprisoned. There should be about fifty of them housed there. Get my servants out before the destruction of the Ministry."
The boy took hold of two chained wizards and a witch. He followed Severus.
Severus spotted his Conditioned girl, Emily Miles, cursing a middle aged witch near the lifts. "Miles, grab your brood and follow me." The girl plucked three witches chained together.
He then found the Patil twins in the distance pointing their wands at a group of wizards. "Follow me." The witches extinguished their curses, took their victims and followed.
"Zabini, Clearwater…" Blaise Zabini and Penelope Clearwater nodded, dragging three chained employees each.
He was glad they had all stuck together awaiting his instructions. It made finding the Death Eaters he needed much easier.
"Where you all going?" Rabastan Lestrange yelled over the screams, his face sweaty and bloody, there was excitement in his voice. He was pinning down a wizard with his foot while his partner, a witch with Dark red hair cursed him. Behind them the Carrows were restraining a screaming witch for Greyback as he unbuckled his belt, fangs bared.
Severus smirked, ignoring the gruesome scene behind Lestrange, making his stomach churn. "We are going to have a bit of old fashioned fun!" The witches he were pulling started to plead for mercy again. He flicked his wand behind him, shutting them up.
He opened a door beside one of the entrances, forcing the prisoners inside. Then watched as Draco, Blaise, and the others pulled theirs in. He locked the door behind them and added a silencing spell on the door.
"KNEEL!" Draco yelled at all the twenty prisoners. They all obeyed, scared, crying and trembling. The Conditioned Death Eaters turned to Severus.
"Mercy, please don't hurt us." The blonde cried harder.
"Kill me now," one wizard spat at Severus's feet, his blue eyes looking stoically into his face. This one reeked of Gryffindor and foolishness.
"QUIET!" Severus paced up and down the group of prisoners. He looked around them. They were in a sterile, grey room, presumedly the security office. On the walls were posters of the most wanted Death Eaters alive. Severus scowled at the yellowed poster of Harry Potter.
He grabbed an old mug sitting on the desk, threw the now cold coffee out and pointed his wand at it. After a long incantation, the mug glowed blue and placed it in front of the chained group.
The prisoners all watched, whimpering and sobbing.
"You will be Portkeyed to a safe location. Disguise yourselves as quickly as you can. Don't tell anyone that you worked at the Ministry. Get your families and get out of the country straight away. Do you all understand?" A few nodded, but the rest were suspicious and rightly so. "Do not tell anyone of our identities, for each and every one of you now owes us a life debt!" He had to add that.
Even though they wore masks which hid their faces and obscured their voices, he was still cautious. Only Death Eaters who had received the Dark Mark could see magically through the masks.
Miles, Draco and the Patil twins placed random stolen wands, hidden in their robes, into the prisoner's pockets.
"Touch the mug," Severus ordered.
Shakily and reluctantly, the twenty employees from various departments, and walks of life moved a finger towards the Portkey. The Portkey glowed blue once more, and in a flash, they disappeared, on the way to the outer boundaries of the Order of the Phoenix.
"What now?" Draco asked as Miles relayed a plan to the twins. They burnt the desks around them, and created a large pile of ash in the middle of the room. It looked like the prisoners had been burnt to ashes. The room even smelt of burnt flesh and the carpet was singed and burnt through. Ravenclaws… Severus had Conditioned Emily Miles, a brown-haired, blue eyed witch, with a plain mouth quite well.
"Report to your Mentors, or they will start to wonder where you are," Severus ordered. "But continue to save as many as you can when the chance arises. Be careful."
Miles stood up. "And tell all the other Conditioned, a part of the Unbreakable Vow what to do. You don't need Snape's help again. Now go…"
They left in a hurry. Then Severus remembered the note Dumbledore sent hours before.
Pick a bone in March and dodge a toothache. Save the golden eggs.
As the memory faded into blue smoke, Harry looked up and saw his Mirror standing in front of him.
"It's time for you to leave."
"Why did you do it—?"
"LEAVE!" Mirror Harry screamed. "You've seen too fucking much, and I can't falter your progress through my mind quick enough!"
"I don't understand, your brother trusted you, he kept your secrets. You're hiding something." Then Harry remembered that strange altered memory Professor Slughorn had when Tom Riddle had asked him about the Horcruxes. "You made that memory up—"
Then Harry was blasted through his mirror, landing in his own cell and within his own mind once more. Mirror Harry followed through; there was fury in his face. Harry didn't like this one bit.
Without a word his Mirror disappeared and Harry suddenly awoke, feeling that same dread he felt the first time when his Mirror had entered his mind.
He retched, fell out of bed and shivered on the spot. Memories: his childhood, his years at Hogwarts flashed before him. The Sorting Hat was telling him he'd do great in Slytherin… He felt the longing to see his parents alive as he saw their happy faces in photos… Harry felt the love from the Weasleys…setting Dobby free… saving Ginny… bringing back Cedric's body… What was he looking for? Or was it his revenge. The memory of Sirius dying, and his possession by Voldemort crossed his mind.
All that Harry kept saying under his breath was, "Fight it Harry… just let go of the darkness. I know you can change."
When the cell door opened, Harry flicked his eyes open, shaking and confused. A looming figure stood over him.
"You can't! Not now…" Harry trembled, defeated. "Not now," he whispered.
"Oh yes, I can. You belong to me, Potter and I will have you whenever I want."
Brodes grinned, pupils always wide with excitement. Though his voice was hoarse and he looked as though he was still recovering from his infection. The Atoner wrapped his hand around Harry's neck and snorted.
"Look at this Meryn. He's pretending to be sick." He motioned his buddy over.
Harry wasn't thinking straight, he couldn't focus on two different situations; the one happening in his mind, while the other was happening in front of his very eyes. He shook violently as another memory danced before his eyes, his mother screaming…
Harry heard his Mirror whispering in his ear, as though he was right next to him. "Do it… do it for us! Do it now!"
His hands found the sharpened weapon beneath the mattress and whipped it out "NOT NOW!" he screamed as the locked room containing the power of love in the Department of Mysteries flashed before his eyes, and then…
He stabbed the Atoner.
Brodes didn't even scream. He looked down at his stomach in shock and staggered back against the wall. Slowly, he pulled it out, and then he started to smile as his blood gushed between his fingers.
Meryn jumped over the bed and pinned a stunned Harry against the wall. What had he done?
Somewhere in his mind, he could hear an echo of Mirror Harry's cold laughter.
It's over, he thought. He was going to die now.
"Do you still think I can change, Harry?" the Mirror asked, amused.
"Yes…" hr said in defiance. "I hope for the sake of your world you will... I'm sacrificing my own life to save yours. Do you think that's fair?"
Brodes chuckled. "Oh… oh you're going to pay for this, Potter…." He looked at the bloodied weapon which he held up for Harry to see. "Quite dearly, but first, we'll get what we've come here for."
Harry spat into yhr Atoner's face. "Just die!" he roared. Cotter was right. Brodes was not an easy man to kill.
Save the golden eggs…
Severus was playing the double agent well, he thought.
He walked slowly into the chaotic Atrium; plucking an old wizard he had spotted trying to kick a Death Eater. "Mirabella, don't kill this one. I want to hear what secrets from Dumbledore's past he can tell me."
It was Elphias Doge and Severus dragged him along, almost running now, to Amelia Bone's office. She was a high ranking official of the Wizengamot. She had been the head of Magical Law Enforcement before she resigned, disgusted with the Ministry's regime, but decided to stay within the Wizengamot in order to help let off Ministry protestors who had been put on trial.
Amelia Bones lay unmoving, face down on the floor of her little office. They were alone. Severus pulled her over, seeing the dagger in her chest. The Death Eaters had ransacked the place and had left to torture and kill all the prisoners left behind in the Atrium.
"Doge, stop fighting me, I'm not going to kill you!"
"Lies, all lies," Doge spat as he struggled to escape.
Severus felt Bones's pulse with one hand as he gripped Doge with the other. She was alive, though just. He did not understand why she didn't leave before the attack. She would've been warned.
Amelia Bones opened her eyes, sucking in a rattling breath. She grasped his robes. "We tried… we tried to stop them… we tried to save our secrets."
"The Dark Lord knows the Ministry secrets, every one of them. You risked your lives for nothing! You should've gotten out when word was sent," he yelled.
She whimpered, holding his hand tight. "Griselda is dead…"
Severus told Doge to staunch the wound on Bones's chest, then jumped over the upturned desks. Papers were still flying everywhere and memos were burning. Bones was right, Griselda Marchbanks was gone, and her eyes wide, as though she had died staring death in the face.
He picked up a paperweight and turned it into a Portkey. "Here, it will be activated soon." Severus placed the object in Bones's bloodied hand, and made sure Doge touched it.
Severus heard a whimper from inside a cupboard. He pulled it open finding a witch huddled inside, shaking. She screamed as he yanked her out and forced her to touch the paperweight.
They disappeared in a flash of white light.
He slumped back and all of a sudden there was a booming voice around them. The Dark Lord's cold voice spoke to them all. "My servants, you have done well. We have the Ministry within our clutches. Retreat quickly."
And true to his word, as Severus Disapparated from his spot in Bones's office, Fiendfyre blew the door off its hinges. He could see the flames billowing and blossoming in the distance like a beautiful yellow flower. The searing hot air brushed Severus's skin, paper and debris rushed past him and something sharp smashed into his arm.
A loud crack at the end of Spinner's end broke the eerie silence of the neighbourhood. Severus stumbled where he had appeared. He was wounded, but nothing serious and the edge of his cloak was on fire. He limped towards his house and with every few steps he heard the screams, and saw the fire and lifeless eyes, and the Ministry fallen in his mind.
The Dark Lord's plan to take over the governing body was complete.
Severus stopped short of his kitchen with his memories beginning to fade. He had hoped to drown himself in a bottle of Firewhisky, but he found Dumbledore waiting for him instead.
"You are hurt."
"It's nothing." He brushed Dumbledore's fingers away. He was panting, sweating, covered in blood and debris, in death and torture, and with an evil that would forever stain his hands.
"Sit down and let me see," Dumbledore said, concerned. He sounded exhausted.
Though Severus was sure he was not as tired as he was after the day's events. Dumbledore cut the cloth from Severus's left shoulder, peeling it off to reveal the jagged cut that spanned the length of his wrist to just above his elbow. He examined the wound gently.
"It's not serious."
"I could've told you that. Have you come here for a debriefing?"
"No. I want to say thank you for saving as many as you could. You, Draco, Blaise, and the Conditioned have saved over three hundred and forty this bloody day. They are all recovering."
Dumbledore picked out a few bottles from his robes, placing them on the kitchen table.
"The employees' families are all safe within the Order. You are all heroes."
Severus squirmed. He would never be a hero. As for the Conditioned, they had all suffered in the hands of Death Eaters for years, but their minds had always remained stubbornly to the Light. He had formed his own secret society mentoring those who wished to act as double agents becoming a part of the Unbreakable Vow to work for Dumbledore, Miles and Draco had urged him to. But Severus knew Albus Dumbledore calling them heroes would mean nothing. What these once abducted children wanted was for their Mentors to be killed and the war to end.
However, for Draco and Blaise who had willingly become Death Eaters, they had fortunately seen the errors of their ways before they had gotten too far in. As for Emily Miles, she just wanted to be reunited with her Healer mother.
"Why did you abandon the Ministry?" he hissed as Dumbledore prodded and disinfected the wound with a salve.
"It was too late to stop it. Voldemort wanted to get the Ministry before Lord Grindelwald would. I only learnt of the attack twenty minutes before it happened."
"And I, minutes before the attack. If you don't want a debriefing, what do you really want then?"
"Go to Voldemort," Dumbledore answered. "Azkaban will fall next—within days. The Aurors there have the prison in lock down now. Agnes Cotter has reported back to the Order: Harry is not in a good state of health. While the Ministry was under attack the boy had been punished for attacking an Atoner.
"Kingsley says the Head Prison Warden, Auror Adrian Pickens, will open the Red File, containing the order to kill the prisoners in The Black Square once Voldemort attacks. Make sure you are the head of the rescue operation. Make sure Bellatrix isn't involved, and bring the boy here to recover."
"He's not—Look Albus, I can't look after him. Not this one!"
"Lily has told you?"
"I knew she'd come to you." Dumbledore nodded. "She is back at the Burrow tending to the injured now. That will keep her occupied. I have never seen her act so irrational before, and I fear that all that has happened to her family has pushed her over the edge. She is usually so calm and collected, seeing the needs of her family first above all else."
Severus wanted to tell him his thoughts about Lily being cursed, but decided not to. "Can you explain why you are keeping this man locked away? I think I deserve an explanation since I've been thrown right into the middle of this."
Dumbledore sat down. "Harry's Mage power has corrupted him beyond recognition—"
He snorted. "That's an understatement. He enjoys being a Death Eater."
"He is in the middle of his Dark phase and he can't pull through it. Once Harry moves past this phase, which all natural born Mages and Dark Arts Mages experience, I think we will see a change. For that reason his Mirror is helping him. I believe this Mirror Harry Potter will save him, and will help him see what he has done, is doing, and his future. I believe he can turn him."
"So he is from another universe! But Albus, I think it's too late for our Potter—"
Dumbledore shook his head. "Our Harry is starting to display signs of change while he lays dormant. However, the corruption continues to have a firm grip on him. But it's only a matter of time before he begins fighting his oppression with help."
"I think you're wasting your time and energy. Potter will never turn. The Dark Lord has him hooked around his finger. Now you are condemning an innocent wizard. Let the prophecy go. Potter will not—"
"Yet, it is a silly prophecy which Voldemort had believed and killed a child and his parents for. Severus, Harry will defeat Voldemort—"
"When? In another twenty-eight years?"
"It will not be long. The boy is ready, his powers are ready, but the progression of this lingering Dark phase is holding him back." He sighed. "I am afraid… this is my fault. I had asked the boy to become a Death Eater. The experience, the Dark Arts, the Dark power he absorbed has tipped him over the edge."
"He was working for you then," Severus said, shaking his head.
"He had been, yes."
"You should've told me, Albus. I could've helped him." Then he cringed when the ointment Dumbledore was dabbing on his arm stung and smoked.
"It is more complicated than that, Severus."
"Tell me, why did you leave this innocent boy in prison?"
"I couldn't get him out of Azkaban without Voldemort finding out that I had him. You couldn't get him out, especially since Voldemort wants the boy kept there. Lord Grindelwald broke him out once to rouse Voldemort, but will not again. Voldemort must trust our Harry. Having the boy with Grindelwald would end his close connection with Voldemort.
"And even if Voldemort didn't realise this wizard is a Mirror, I couldn't have the boy brought here to Spinner's End, right in the middle of the Dark Lord's grasp. It would be disastrous…"
"Yet you now want him to convalesce here," Severus said angrily.
Dumbledore sighed. "It is a risk which must be taken for a short time, while I decide what we will do with our Harry, who is at this very moment in a deep sleep."
"Why is he in a deep sleep? Where is he?"
"It would be dangerous if we woke him up now before his change. He will be extremely violent and powerful because his mind and his soul have been violated and intruded upon by outside forces. His power will instinctively react for him. If we wake him, we would lose our chance to turn him."
"Albus, where is he?" Severus asked again.
He raised an eyebrow. "You've left a powerful young Mage—who you want manipulated for the Light— in the hands of a rising Dark Lord—?"
"A Dark Lord? Gellert is working for me."
Severus glanced at Dumbledore sideways. He half expected to see Grindelwald jumping into the kitchen yelling, surprise! "How sure are you?"
"As sure as I am of you."
He always thought he was too trusting. He very much doubted that a wizard Dumbledore had defeated more than sixty years before would give up his new found power once the war ended.
"Severus, make sure you are the head of the rescue operation—this I must reiterate—it must be you. Bellatrix will realise the difference, and if Voldemort finds out, he will be very interested in keeping the boy. I cannot let that happen. This Harry Potter has his own war to fight. I must get him back to his own world in one piece."
He smirked as Dumbledore pinned the bandage around his arm. "One piece? It'll be too late for that."
"But you will get the boy out." Dumbledore glared at him, over his glasses.
"Yes." Severus rolled his eyes in resignation. "I will go to the Dark Lord as soon as we're done here, and volunteer before Bellatrix sinks her claws in."