The Ministry Falling
Cotter walked into Harry's cell, carrying a small bottle.
"What's happening?" he asked, staring at the orange liquid sloshing inside the bottle.
"Quarantine's over. Drink the potion." She uncorked it, and poured a little of the potion into a tin cup.
"That was quick," he said, accepting the cup. "What caused it?"
"By a magical cousin of the Black Plague," Cotter grimaced. "I think Bernard—the first prisoner, had eaten a rat in his cell. Rapid infections sometimes occur here."
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. He's already up terrorising Class B prisoners out of the Black Square. Meryn survived as well, and the prisoners who were infected will make it through now."
Then more pressing questions sprang to mind. "What happened to my father? Is he still here?"
"He was taken away, back to a more secure location. But your father left a message for you: the children are safe and well."
Harry let out a sigh of relief. "Thanks."
After Cotter left, boredom got to Harry. He ate another one of Dumbledore's biscuits to resume the strange Mirror connection, even though he still unnerved by it. 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.
Remus occasionally slowed down so that the little Mirror could catch up. They were silent as they walked through the corridor upstairs. Then voices were drifting out from the closed bedroom door at the end.
"… In the last few months he's displayed really powerful, meditated magic. It exhausts him, Albus. It's not accidental magic, it's more intentional," Lily said. "I saw him transfigure Michael's nappy into an almost perfect safety pin. What four year old child does that? Then 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's magic," Dumbledore spoke.
"Well, it definitely skipped a few generations," she 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 swung in. Harry saw a younger Dumbledore with grey hair and beard. Lily was sitting on the edge of the James's sick bed and he was extremely pale and clammy. James was slowly, but shakily drinking a cup of tea.
Remus tugged on the child to enter. "Come on, Harry, its okay." The boy was scared.
James grinned over his tea. "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," she 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."
Dumbledore rummaged through his purple robes, 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, handing it to him.
"Thank you, Mr Dum-bly-dore."
"Would you like me to tell you an amazing, stupendous story, my boy?" Dumbledore smiled.
Little Harry turned to his parents, again looking for support. They both smiled back. "Yes, thank you, Mr Dum-bly-dore."
"A long time ago—"
"How many years?" the boy interjected.
James snorted and Harry saw 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 their magic was growing. This is all normal. This is all a part of growing up. But sometimes, this boy's magical accidents felt different to him. They felt so powerful that he was very tired afterwards and had to take long naps. Do you understand, Harry?"
He nodded as he played with his unopened chocolate frog.
"One day, this boy was playing hide and seek and hid behind a big tree. He touched this tree, and all of a sudden, he felt a strange power—an energy he never felt before entered his body. The boy looked up and saw that the leaves on the tree were dying. 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 and he sullenly bowed his head.
"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..."
"How did that power feel?"
"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 Okay?"
"Yes, but for now he must rest. Has this happened before?"
Mirror Harry shrugged. "Sort of, with Mildred, my cat. I touched her once, 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 scar?"
"Oh dear, that does look nasty. Harry, eat your chocolate frog." Dumbledore looked up at his parents.
"Surely he can't be?" James said. "Little children don't draw power from other things. This is D-A-R-K—"
"James!" Lily snapped. "Not now."
Dumbledore played with his beard. "Yes they do at this age. It is natural for young— M-A-G-E-S. It's 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 don't 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 up 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, and tasted the saltwater drops drifting in the wind.
But something was wrong. He observed every feature on his Mirror's exhausted, emaciated face. He was shivering and looked like a corpse as he watched the waves beneath. Just one move and he would fall.
Harry 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 others waiting in the distance. Draco Malfoy then 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 not to shove me off."
"I don't have the energy to do that."
Malfoy cautiously sat down. "Here." He pulled off his cloak, placing it around his friend's shoulders.
The Mirror raised his chin, staring stonily at the sea. "Why did you save me, Draco?"
"Because I need to make sure you get to Hogwarts. The Dark Lord and Dumbledore expect you to start sixth year."
"Dumbledore…" he whispered, his glassy green eyes reflecting the waves below.
Draco turned back, so did Harry. The Death Eaters watched on with their black robes fluttering in the wind like grim demons.
"Yeah, Dumbledore's waiting for you."
When Malfoy looked up the Mirror was staring him in the eye. "I'm sick of this! Dying would bring me peace. I wouldn't have to face them again."
"That's a coward's way out! You need to finish this war."
The Mirror scowled. "Why did you really save me?"
Malfoy frowned. "Because you're my friend, you prat!"
At first when he saw it, Harry thought it was a puddle, but beside his feet an oval mirror glittered. He jumped through, landing softly in a 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, muttered, "Avada Kedavra…"
"Avada Kedavra." Leaves outside the hole smoked. He puffed up his chest. "Avada Kedavra!" he said again more confidently. This time the leaves caught on fire.
A boar bolted from the bushes, scaring 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 his 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's happening—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 doesn't look good you're practicing the Dark Arts when Hogwarts has just closed because of mass murder."
Mirror Harry sighed and sat back down again.
"I think…" His younger brother hesitated. "I think you'll be able to master the curse with your wand, 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 seemed unsure. Then a little brown rabbit poked his head out of its burrow, he pointed his wand at it. "I have mastered it for awhile... but why can't I do wandless to kill?"
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… I can't do this."
"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. "I've killed already."
"Are you going to kill me to-too?" Charlie asked with fear in his voice. "What's happened to you? You used to tell me everything— with Voldemort, with the Horcruxes, with—with everything! You've changed so much ever since Dumbledore lost! Did you really open the Chamber—?"
"I DIDN'T OPEN IT!"
Charlie got up and took a step forward, crouching cautiously close to his brother. "Harry, tell me the truth. I won't tell anyone… 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?"
"For a year now. The Dark Lord favours me." Mirror Harry lifted his wand again, smirking.
Charlie stood up, towering over his brother. "I can help you."
"GET OUT OF MY SIGHT!"
Charlie obeyed, leaving his brother alone. 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 the plea and went through it.
"Nooooooo—don't—not this one!"
Oddly, the memory took moments to appear. It shimmered in blues, then a bedroom started to materialise.
Charlie sat at his desk reading a book. "Hey Harry," he said without looking up.
Harry turned around and found his Mirror standing at the doorway.
"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."
"No." His words were barely a whisper.
The Death Eater strode into the room in silence, closing the door carefully behind him. Harry noticed the wand behind his back.
"Harry, wha—?" Charlie said, turning around, the wand was now pointing in his face.
"Why did you tell Dumbledore that I am the Dark Lord's right hand commander?"
"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 was screaming. Jessica had been playing with her toys and Mirror Harry hadn't realised she was there.
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.
The scene disappeared into darkness. 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 and her gang called the Nortorious Thirteen, Severus followed with the throng of armoured Death Eaters. They poured into the Ministry of Magic and into every department.
Death Eaters posing as Aurors positioned outside of the Minister's office had captured Minister Rufus Scrimgeour and Head Auror, Thomas MacCloud. They could hear Umbridge screaming somewhere too.
The Aurors guarding the Ministry were dead, their bodies transfigured into various objects and thrown aside. Those lucky enough to be spared were hoodwinked. This had been done in a synchronised attack striking all the on duty Aurors at three in the morning. One day before, almost all the senior Auror's Floo connections were diverted away from the Ministry. They were then killed by the Notorious Thirteen. Those under the command of the Thirteen then Polyjuiced into the Aurors and infiltrated the Ministry.
Severus grimaced. Luckily for Shacklebolt, it had been his weekend, and Tonks was pretending to be ill so she could work for the Order. But a few other Auror Order members would have died. Only one had managed to escape, but it was already too late by the time he got to Shacklebolt, the damage had been done.
The screams started as they entered the departments. Curses bounced off the walls and the whole place lit up brightly. Papers and memos rained over their heads. Desks, chairs and doors splintered and hurled into the air.
Bellatrix who was manic and her smile reeked of ugliness. She blasted the statues into rubble, and fired curses at stray witches and wizards, killing them instantly.
The Ministry employees had no wands, and every escape route had been blocked. Screams, pleas, mockery and cold brutal laughter filled the air. It sent a chill up Severus's spine. This was the devil's playground.
"Don't kill me," the employees yelled.
Smoke and flames filtered through every corner. Witches screamed as Death Eaters had their way with them. Others were tortured before being shackled.
Severus watched his comrades pulling employees by their hair towards the atrium. They forced the employees to kneel on the floor. They were bloodied, and pale with fear.
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 Scrimgeour, MacCloud, and the Head of Law Enforcement, Cornelius Fudge. He had killed them all himself in front of the crowd of frightened workers. Umbridge's head was next to the Minister, though her own body was nowhere to be found.
"Join me and your lives and families will be spared."
More than eight hundred Ministry employees stood up and walked to the other side. Self preservation was such a Slytherin trait, Severus thought. The rest, who didn't join, risked everything. The Dark Lord turned to his servants and said, "Do what you want."
And so the blood bath began.
Walking briskly, Severus pulled three witches and a young wizard up nearest him and made sure a silver snake pin on his cloak glowed white. All of them struggled to be freed as curses flung over their heads, and bodies dropped like flies.
"Please don't," a blonde cried, makeup running down her cheek, her lip was split and bleeding. She looked only twenty, and Severus vaguely remembered her as a gossipy Hufflepuff he had taught. Brave stupidity had kept her kneeling, rather than join the Dark Lord.
He saw a boy with a small silver snake pin on his cloak too, and motioned him over. He guessed it was Draco Malfoy by his gait. Thank goodness his parents weren't in site.
When Severus had been summoned, he had heard the Dark Lord speaking with the Malfoys.
"Lucius, the Department of Mysteries experiments on imprisoned lowly Death Eaters. 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 and followed. As Severus continued through the chaos, more Death Eaters followed him with their captives.
Severus walked around Rabastan Lestrange. He was pinning down a wizard with his foot while his partner, a witch with dark red hair and a square jaw cursed him. She too had a snake pin, though she chose to stay with Rabastan.
Further up the Ministry corridor where it was quieter, he opened a door forcing the prisoners inside. Then he watched as the other Death Eaters pulled theirs in. Severus locked the door and added the obligatory protection spells.
"Kneel!" Draco said in a deeper voice than usual. "NOW!" The twenty prisoners obeyed, scared and trembling.
"Mercy—don't hurt us." The blonde cried harder.
"Kill me now," one wizard stoically spat at Severus's feet.
"QUIET!" Severus paced up and down the group of prisoners. They were in a sterile, grey room, presumedly the security office. On the walls were posters of the most wanted Death Eaters alive. The Thirteen had their own special corner. Severus scowled at the yellowed poster of Harry Potter. Even Dumbledore and Grindelwald were amongst them.
Severus pulled out two Muggle pens Portkeys from his pocket. He activated them with a tap of his wand.
"You will be Portkeyed to a safe location. Disguise yourselves quickly. Don't tell anyone that you worked at the Ministry. Gather your families and get out of the country. Do you all understand?" A few nodded, but the rest were wary. "Don't tell anyone of our identities, for each and every one of you now owes us a life debt!"
They couldn't guess who they were. Only Death Eaters who had received the Dark Mark could see magically through the masks. But when it was safe to do it, Severus and the others simply touched their silvery snake pin, and they became disguised under their masks, and their voices were altered too.
Severus scanned the poised, silent Death Eaters, mostly compromised of the Conditioned. Miles, Malfoy, the Patil twins were in the room, along with Zabini, Clearwater, Chang and even Bulstrode and Greengrass. They placed random stolen wands into the prisoners' pockets.
"Touch the pens," Severus ordered.
Shakily the twenty employees moved a finger towards the Portkey. The Portkeys glowed blue and in a flash, they disappeared, on the way to the outer boundaries of the Order of the Phoenix.
"What now?" Draco asked.
"Let us handle this." Miles relayed her plan. She and the twins 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. Ravenclaws…
Severus's Conditioned, Emily Miles, was a plain, brown-haired, blue-eyed witch, with a rather fantastic aptitude at Transfiguration, although abysmal at potion-making. Miles also had limited knowledge in Healing, thanks to her mother and got on well with the Patils.
"Momentarily withdraw your disguises and report to your Mentors," Severus ordered. "Then continue saving as many as you can. Be careful, and destroy the snake pins."
Miles stood by his side. "Tell the other snakes what to do. You don't need Snape's help again. Now go."
They left in a hurry, except Miles. "Thank you, Mentor."
"Do not involve me in your foolish plans again!"
She bowed slightly and rushed out.
Then Severus remembered the note Dumbledore sent an hour before.
Pick a bone in March and dodge a toothache. Save the golden eggs.
As the memory faded, 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! You've seen too much, and I can't stop you quick enough!"
"I don't understand, your brother trusted you—kept your secrets. You're hiding something. You made that memory up!"
Harry was blasted through his mirror, landing in his own cell. The Mirror followed through; there was fury in his face.
Without a word he 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…
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, "You can change!"
Then the cell door opened. Harry was shaking and confused as looming figure stood over him.
"You can't! Not now." Harry trembled. "Not now!"
"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.
"Look at this Meryn. He's pretending to be sick."
Harry wasn't thinking straight, he couldn't focus on two different situations; the one happening in his mind, the other was happening in front of his very eyes.
Then Brodes flipped him over and his face hit the ground. Harry saw the stool leg between the slats of his bed.
He shook violently as another memory danced before his eyes: his mother screaming…
"What's the matter Potter, not fighting us anymore? We liked that feral spirit in you," Brodes said, his breath on Harry's neck, making him shiver.
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! NOW!"
His hands found the sharpened weapon 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 forced his arm back and stabbed the Atoner.
Brodes didn't even scream, just let go. Harry turned around and the Atoner looked down at his left side in shock. Slowly, he pulled the stool leg out and started to smile as blood gushed between his fingers.
Meryn jumped over the bed and pinned a Harry against the wall. What had he done? He was going to die now.
Somewhere in his mind, he could hear an echo of Mirror Harry's laughter.
"Do you still think I can change, Harry?"
Fear froze his every thought.
Brodes chuckled. "You're going to pay for this, Potter!" He looked at the bloodied weapon which he held up for Harry to see.
Harry spat into the Atoner's face. "Just die!" he roared.
Save the golden eggs…
Severus walked plucked an old wizard he had spotted trying to kick a Death Eater covered in tattoos. "Dreadford, 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, secretly working to save Ministry protesters from jail. She had been Head of Magical Law Enforcement before she resigned, disgusted with the Ministry's regime.
Amelia Bones lay unmoving, face down on the floor of her little office. Severus pulled her over, seeing the dagger in her chest. The Death Eaters had ransacked the place and had left to torture the prisoners 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.
Amelia Bones opened her eyes, sucking in a rattling breath. She grasped his robes. "We tried. We tried to save our secrets. We couldn't leave. We needed to help. They have all the documents pertaining to Azkaban… the Blue Square Children… Oh God!"
"The Dark Lord knows everything. You risked your lives for nothing! You should've gotten out when word was sent."
She whimpered, holding his hand tight. "Griselda is dead."
Severus told Doge to staunch the wound on Bones's chest, and then jumped over the upturned desks. Griselda Marchbanks body was nearby, her eyes wide, as though she had died staring death in the face.
He picked up a paperweight and minutes later it was a Portkey. Severus placed the object in Bones's hand, and made sure Doge touched it.
There was a whimper from inside a cupboard. Severus opened it, finding a witch huddled inside. 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 the Dark Lord's cold voice spoke to them all. "My servants, you have done well. We have the Ministry. Retreat quickly."
As Severus Disapparated from 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.
There was loud crack in his front yard, and 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, unable to shake his head from Ministry fallen, their screams and their pleas
The Dark Lord's plan to take over the governing body was complete.
Severus stopped short of his kitchen, his memories beginning to fade. He had hoped to drown himself in a bottle of Firewhisky, but found Dumbledore waiting for him instead.
"It's nothing." He brushed Dumbledore's fingers away. He was panting, sweating, covered in blood and debris, and with an evil that would forever stain his hands.
"Sit down and let me see."
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. Are you here for a debriefing?"
"I want to thank you for saving as many as you could. You, the Death Eaters and the Conditioned have saved over three hundred and forty." 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, but their minds had always remained rebellious.
He knew Miles had formed a 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 join in. Though, Albus calling them heroes would mean nothing to them. These abducted children just want their Mentors dead and the war to end.
"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 minutes before it happened."
"If you don't want a debriefing, what do you really want then?"
"Go to Voldemort," Dumbledore answered. "Azkaban will fall next. We all thought he would attack it first. The Aurors there have the prison in lock down now. Agnes Cotter has reported back to the Order: Harry is in danger and seriously wounded. While the Ministry was under attack the boy had been punished for attacking an Atoner.
"The Head Prison Auror, Adrian Pickens, has become warden by default. He will open the Black File, containing the order to kill the prisoners in the Black Square once Voldemort attacks. Make sure you are the head of the Black Square rescue operation. Make sure Bellatrix isn't involved, and bring the boy here to recover."
"He's not—Albus, I can't look after him. Not this one!"
"I knew she'd come to you." Dumbledore nodded. "Lily's back at the Burrow tending to the injured now. That'll keep her occupied. I have never seen her act so irrational before."
Severus wanted to tell him about Lily being cursed, but decided not to. "Can you explain why you are keeping this boy locked away? I think I deserve an explanation."
"We need to fool Voldemort into thinking the boy is in Azkaban while we help our Harry." Dumbledore sat down. "Harry's Mage power has corrupted him beyond recognition—"
He snorted. "That's an understatement."
"He is in the middle of his Dark phase and he can't pull through it. Once Harry moves past this, I think we'll 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."
"So he is from another universe! But Albus, I think it's too late for our Potter—"
Dumbledore shook his head. "Harry is starting to display signs of change while he lays dormant. However, the corruption continues to have a firm grip on him. With his Mirror's help, he is starting to fight his oppression."
"I think you're wasting—the Dark Lord has him hooked around his finger. Now you are condemning an innocent wizard. Let the prophecy go—"
"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 won't be long. The boy is 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?"
"He had been, yes."
"You should've told me! I could've helped him." Then he cringed when the ointment Dumbledore was dabbing on his arm stung and smoked. "I could've pleaded my master to become his Mentor."
"It is more complicated than that."
"Tell me why did you leave this innocent boy in prison? Grindelwald's break out worked perfectly the first time."
"I didn't know Gellert was planning that. I was furious with him. His idiotic tactic changed the dynamics of the prison and made it more impenetrable."
"You've let the harpies out of the cage with Grindelwald."
Dumbledore pinched the top of his nose, deep in thought. "I couldn't get Harry out of Azkaban without Voldemort knowing what we did, and it was too dangerous for the Order to attempt it. You couldn't get him out because Voldemort wants him there. Grindelwald could not do it again."
"Why are you concerned about my master finding out if you truly want this boy back under your control?"
"Not my control, Severus. You have it all wrong," Dumbledore corrected. "Voldemort must trust our Harry. Having the boy with Grindelwald would end his close connection. Harry must be tethered to Voldemort's every move and thought. I will tell you how and why our Harry had betrayed his Mirror another time."
"Now you want me to get this Mirror out and to convalesce here," Severus said angrily.
"It is a risk which must be taken for a short time, while I decide what we will do next."
"What's happening to Potter? Where is he?"
"Asleep… It would be dangerous if we woke him 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.
"You lied to me! Potter never escaped him. Now you've left a powerful young Mage—who you want manipulated—in the hands of a rising Dark Lord."
"Gellert is working for me."
"But he is going against your wishes." Severus glanced at Dumbledore sideways. He half expected to see Grindelwald jumping into the kitchen yelling, surprise! "Are you sure?"
"As sure as I am of you."
He always thought he was too trusting.
"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. The Mirror has his own war to fight. I must get him back to his own world in one piece."
"It'll be too late for that. We know what Potter went through in Azkaban—"
"But you will get the boy out."
"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."