A/N: I know it has been a while, so if you don't remember what happened in the last chapter, you might want to go back and check the chapter out. I'll wait, I promise. Now, let's see how the rest of the world deals with the events of last night.
Disclaimer: Forty one stories, uncounted chapters, (at least by me.) and dozens of disclaimers later... you still don't know that I don't own this? Please. If I owned it, you'd be paying for these words, the last two books would be vastly different and the finest witch of her time would not be tied to a complete idiot. Nor would Harry be with the unformed blob that was Canon Ginny.(Why does my spell checker always want to change Ginny to ninny? Does it know something I don't?)
Harry Potter and the Shades of Grey
Grief, Anger and Revenge.
OoOoOoO The aftermath of battle, 03AUG1997. OoOoOoO
People began converging on the fires in the town as they began spreading. The werewolves seemed to be gone and the fire was the biggest danger right now. Susan and her team concentrated on putting out the flames while Moody and his group searched for any left over enemies and survivors.
There were no werewolves and very few survivors to be found. It was Moody that found Ron Weasley, buried under some rubble near the centre of the explosion. He dug him out and found Luna covered by his body. Moody called for the healers and used his eye on the remains of the house.
He got two of his people and started moving things. There were living people in there and at least three of the people had been with Harry Potter. He found Miranda next, impaled through the thigh by a broken beam but still conscious and holding a levitation spell over Hermione, keeping as much weight off of her as she could. Moody braced the rubble and Miranda looked at him, her eyes blank as she fought the pain.
"Miss Parkinson, Miss Weasley and Lord Black are in here somewhere."
Moody swore as she passed out, the pain finally overcoming the discipline of the Defender. He carefully cut the jagged beam off and moved her out of the area as he used his eye to continue looking for living people.
He swore softly as he found just two people alive and some sort of energy ball that he'd never seen before. He looked up as someone moved up and began helping him. Auror Fairwater looked at him. "We need Harry. The Aurors are finishing the business, arranging the town and the Obliviators are already at work, but we need to get the rest of this done and clear out. We have about an hour before the Muggles start pouring into this area."
Moody frowned. He didn't have Harry or even know if he was alive yet. Moody thought he would be, but at the least, he was going to be hurt and in no condition to do anything right now. "Harry trusts you, or you wouldn't be here. You're going to help me with something."
He thought for a minute. "Go get Neville Longbottom. We're going to need him."
She nodded and left. Moody kept digging in the rubble and soon found another body. He was calling for the healers before he had more than the one arm exposed. With burns that bad, this person was going to be lucky to survive.
By the time he had the body uncovered, the healers were there to take Pansy away, carefully lifting her from the remains of the house.
Neville and Auror Fairwater were there as they left and Moody called the Inferno healer. He looked around as the four of them huddled behind a bit of wall that had somehow remained standing. He looked at them all. "Potter isn't going to be able to take control tonight, even if we get him out right now so we're going to put Neville in his place. Fairwater, you'll stay by his side, just as you should and help him play Potter. Keep him moving and don't let anyone talk to him for long and we should be able to keep everyone happy until Harry's on his feet again. Then we'll have Harry and Neville talk and send Neville off with a Portkey."
The other three nodded. Neville was thinking. "I assume you have some way to disguise me, but how are you going to change my speech? Harry and I don't talk alike."
The healer smiled. "Easily done. I assume that's why Alastor called for me. It's a thing we've used to get spies into Death Eater gatherings. All we need is a bit of Polyjuice Potion and a quick spell. We'll cover you, lad, no worries there."
While they talked Moody had continued to lift rubble and now they all worked quickly, lifting at Moody's directions, working their way deeper into the rubble, heading for the last living thing Moody's eye could see.
They finally got there and found Harry unconscious and badly burned although not as badly as Pansy had been. Luna began examining him as Moody took a couple of Hairs from his head. Moody and Auror Fairwater got Neville changed and the Auror took him off to talk to the rest of the Aurors after the Inferno medic cast a spell that made it seem as if his jaw had been broken and was now healing.
Luna and the medic were taking Harry when Moody stopped them. He poured something into Harry's mouth and rubbed his throat until Harry swallowed it. "Take him out of here quietly. Neville may be playing Harry longer than I thought." As he finished speaking, Harry changed into Neville. "Don't let anyone know that Harry was hurt. We'd lose the confidence of the Aurors and the public would panic, since everyone knows that Harry is the only person that can stop Voldemort."
Luna nodded, her attention on Harry. The two of them carefully levitated Harry out of the ruins of the building. Moody turned back to the building, having gotten everyone else away. He already knew what he was going to find here, but the rest of these kids didn't need to see what was here.
Moody knew that the only bodies left were just that; bodies. He was assuming that Miss Weasley was as badly torn up as everyone else in the building had been and he was going to fix as much as he could before Harry, Hermione and Pansy had to see her remains. They didn't need the distraction of seeing her burned and torn right now. Far too much rested on their shoulders.
He uncovered her body and stared. Ginny was undamaged, wrapped around a ball of energy that contained a small baby. Moody used his wand and began to reconstruct the events that had played out here. These were Auror spells, used to recreate a crime scene, although few people were strong enough these days to cast them and the Ministry had stopped teaching them in the Auror academy during the first Voldemort War.
Moody watched as a phantom Ginny came in and snarled as she ignored everything else to get the baby. He'd tried so hard to make the Order members understand that civilians waited until the enemy was gone. Ginny hadn't listened and she'd paid the price. His thoughts cut off as he watched Harry heal her injuries and continue to glow. He watched Pansy stun him in the back and the scene faded away.
He sighed and cast another spell, one to erase the magical traces of the entire scene so that no one else could call it up. He couldn't let anyone know what had happened here.
He levitated the baby and Ginny Weasley, taking another of his students home for the last time. Moody was the only one there so no one saw the tears before he dried his eyes and left, as stone faced as he ever was.
Neville was listening to Auror Fairwater as they came up to another group of Aurors. "So all you have to do here is thank them and let them know that they can go now."
Neville nodded, feeling as if a dozen butterflies were having a formal ball in his stomach. He just knew someone was going to realize he wasn't Harry. He thanked the Aurors for their efforts and told them that they could go home now. He started toward the next group as Auror Fairwater reminded him they had other people to see to.
Ron blinked as he woke up. He remembered what had happened and he tried to sit up, only to have Luna push him back down. You have some broken bones, Ronald," she said. "You're going to have to remain here for now."
He winced, feeling the familiar pain of Skele-Grow working on his arm and left leg. "Where's Harry? Is it all over? How many people have we lost?"
Luna sighed as she handed him a potion. "We lost eleven people total. Seven Aurors, one of Moody's people and two of the Order."
Ron nodded and then frowned. "That's only ten." He looked at Luna again and saw past the distant look she normally had, to the redness around her eyes and the marks of tears and he swallowed heavily. "Who did we lose, Luna?"
Luna sat down besides him and reached for his hand. "I'm very sorry, Ron, but Ginny didn't make it."
Ron stared at her as the words sank in and Luna continued to talk, telling him all she knew about how Ginny had died. Another healer came in a few minutes later and Luna waved him out, holding Ron as he cried.
OoOoOoO Everyone, the rest of that night. OoOoOoO
Pansy woke slowly, her thoughts slow and unfocused until a sharp odour pierced the fog of her thoughts. She shook her head and looked around. Miranda was leaning against the wall watching her and the bed next to her. Before she could look in that direction, the Healer leaning over her captured her attention and examined her briefly.
He looked at Miranda when he was done. "She'll be fine in a few days, provided she continues to take the potions on schedule. I'm going to see who else needs me." He left, taking a large bag with him.
Pansy looked at the other bed in the room with her, to see Hermione sleeping peacefully. She looked back at Miranda, noting the signs of fatigue and pain that even her training couldn't hide. "How is Hermione?"
"Miss Black will be fine in the morning." Miranda frowned. "At least until she asks about Harry."
Pansy froze, the last thing she could remember was Harry exploding in a furious ball of magic. "He's not.."
Miranda cut her off. "Harry's not dead, not yet anyway. The Healers are still working on him." Miranda considered her for a minute. "What happened up there? Moody said that a werewolf killed Ginny and that Harry killed the werewolf, but what happened to Harry?"
Pansy thought quickly. "Harry's Aestuomagius power flared when he saw Ginny. I think it flared out of control."
Miranda stared at her. "I will tell everyone that, but we both know you're lying. You will tell me the truth when we have more privacy."
Pansy looked at her and slowly shook her head. "No, I won't. This secret will go to my grave with me." She looked at Hermione. "Harry and Hermione grew up Muggles, and don't know all the taboos and rules of the Wizard world. Harry tried to do the impossible, without knowing the consequences of his actions." Pansy thought about what Harry had been trying to do.
Every wizard and witch knew that Necromancy of any kind was strictly forbidden by every practitioner of magic in the world. Oh, there were some things that seemed to raise the dead, but true Necromancy was forbidden. It had been tried, several times over the centuries and four times, people had succeeded in bringing someone back from the dead.
It was those successes that had caused the ban on Necromancy. The people who came back were never the same as they had been before they died. They always went crazy within a month, turning into violently insane maniacs, killing anyone and everyone they saw. The last one, back in 1102, had killed more than one hundred and fifty people before being reduced to nothing. Most people believed that where ever a soul went after death was so very different from life that being brought back drove them insane.
There were no books on the subject, and wizard children quickly learned that even talking of it was not allowed. Some of the Muggleborn had mentioned it when they first came to Hogwarts, but they soon learned that it was not a subject for any discussion.
As far as Pansy knew though, neither Harry or Hermione had even mentioned the subject to anyone, or even thought about it, until Harry had seen Ginny's body. Pansy closed her eyes as she remembered what she'd seen. She cried silently, remembering the vivacious girl that she would not see again in this world. She slid back into sleep, carried on potions and tears.
Miranda watched over her charge, and if she cried for Ginny, there was no one to see or tell.
OoOoOoO Harry's Inner Circle, Potter Mansion, Dawn. 04AUG97. OoOoOoO
Neville raised his head from the table as Moody's distinctive steps entered the room. He looked around as Moody started toward him. He was still wearing Harry's face, although everyone in this room knew he wasn't Harry.
Hermione and Pansy were in the corner whispering quietly under some privacy spell Neville didn't know. Miranda was in a chair nearby, sleeping. Neville smiled slightly. It had taken nearly an hour of bullying and pleading by Hermione and Pansy to get Miranda to relax and sleep when Hermione was awake and moving. It only been Hermione's promise not to leave the room without waking Miranda first that had finally convinced Miranda to sleep, and even then she had flatly told Pansy that if Hermione was more than three metres from her without Pansy waking her, she would do things to Pansy that would be remembered for centuries to come.
Neville sighed as he realized that there were no redheads in the room at all. Since Ginny, Ron, Fred and George had all been part of Harry's inner circle, Neville couldn't remember any meeting that didn't have at least one of the Weasleys present. The Weasleys were all at the Burrow with Ginny's body.
Remus, looking as worn as any of the people that had been out fighting last night, was talking quietly to a quiet black haired girl that Neville almost didn't recognize as Tonks.
Luna was sitting next to Auror Fairwater. Luna was making little birds out of paper and Auror Fairwater was sorting some papers in front of her. Since they'd both been doing that for the last hour, Neville was sure it was just busy work for their hands.
Neville looked up as Moody sat down beside him. "Harry's alive," was Moody's blunt opening, "but the Healers can't say if he'll wake up or when. He's in a deep coma and not even the best of the Healers can reach his mind."
Neville fought down a wave of panic. They had to have Harry. He took a deep breath and thought about it. "What do we do now?"
Moody sighed, staring down the table. "What can we do? I think Harry will wake up, the boy's too stubborn to quit, but we can't let anyone know he's hurt. Harry should never have let everyone know that only he can defeat Voldemort. If word gets out that he's incapacitated, Voldemort will be able to walk into the Ministry and take over without opposition."
Neville looked up to realize that everyone was gathered around the two of them. He told them what Moody had said.
Hermione looked at Luna, who was the closest thing to a Healer in the group. "Can you think of any avenues that a regular Healer wouldn't try, like that potion of yours?"
Luna looked at her as she folded yet another little animal. "I don't know anything about problems of the mind. My studies have all been in healing physical hurts."
Luna looked out the window and she continued. "I examined Harry last night. Physically, he's fine. The burns and injuries were fairly standard, even if most Dragon handlers never get that badly burned, but that was easily fixed. Harry did something that we can't guess at, and with the extent of his injuries, I have to assume he did it with his own power, since no werewolf or magic I know of could have done it. If we knew how he was injured, we might be able to figure out what's wrong with him, but no one awake knows what happened."
Pansy closed her eyes. She knew exactly what had happened. Harry had broken one of the deepest taboos of the magical word, and she had stunned him, when he was channelling more power that most wizards could use in a lifetime. If she told anyone what Harry had been doing, his reputation and name would be ruined forever. Not even defeating Voldemort would clear this stain from him. The Potter name would be blackened forever.
On the other hand, if she didn't say anything, he might never wake up again.
Moody looked at Pansy. He read the signs of her internal debate and decided to have a talk with her later. Harry wouldn't allow anything to stop from saving people, even if those people wouldn't talk to him. As long as his friends stood by him, Harry would do what needed to be done, no matter what the cost to him. Moody turned back to the discussion, keeping a magical eye on Pansy as they discussed what had to be done. She was going to have to tell someone what had happened.
Three hours later they had a plan in place. Neville, Tonks and Remus would take turns playing Harry in public, while avoiding any place or meeting where Harry's signature or oath would be required.
The Minister and Harry's Healers would have to know about the deception and at least some of the Weasleys would have to know, since Ron knew Harry too well to be fooled for long, and Fred and George had used the double deception far too many times to be misled for long.
"Mr. Sharpstar will have to know as well," said Hermione. "As will Blaise and Daphne. Can anyone think of anyone else that needs to be told?"
Moody shook his head. "No one else should know. The more people that know a secret, the higher the chances that one of them will let something slip." He frowned. "I think we're already having to let too many people in on this secret for safety, but we don't have any choice in those people."
Neville stood up. "I've got to make a short appearance in Diagon Alley. Hermione, I know you were coming, is anyone else going with us?"
The rest of the group had other things to do and Neville left with Hermione and Miranda.
Pansy looked up as Moody sat down next to her. "I know what you're hiding. I even understand why you're not saying anything. I also know that if you don't tell anyone, Voldemort will win and Harry's reputation won't matter."
Moody sat quietly for a minute, letting Pansy think about it. "Of course, if it was me, I would talk to Luna. She wouldn't care about what Harry did, and she could be useful. It's not like any other Healer we have has any more experience dealing with Aestuomagius injuries."
Pansy nodded and stood up. "I have to talk to my father, but I will do something."
Moody watched her leaving, wondering which of her loyalties was stronger. She loved Harry, but she was still a Windenmere and that loyalty was far older than her love.
OoOoOoO Ginny's funeral, 06AUG97. OoOoOoO
Tonks was very uncomfortable playing Harry and desperately wanting to say good bye to Ginny as herself.
They couldn't take the chance that some reporter would sneak in and find out that Harry wasn't here though. The funereal, like most wizard services was limited to family and close friends, but Ginny Weasley had been betrothed to Harry Potter. The reporter that showed up with a story about this would be in a position to make a lot of money and too many of them were like Rita, willing to do whatever it took to get a story.
They had already had to tell the Weasleys about Harry. There was no way to fool the Weasleys about it when 'Harry' was going to be there for several hours. Tonks looked around the Weasley family graveyard.
It was vastly different from the Black family graveyard, the only other private graveyard she'd ever seen and she thought being buried here was vastly preferable. It was set on a small hill with the oldest graves at the top of the hill and the rest spreading out from the crest of the hill in a winding spiral. In the distance you could just see the Burrow. This place was in the land behind the Burrow, on land that had belonged to the Weasleys for longer than anyone knew. Tonks had seen the graves at the top of the hill earlier and at least one of the people buried up there had died in 934.
The Weasley men had spent the previous day digging the latest grave by hand, a ritual that Arthur Weasley insisted on. It had been the family custom for as long as they had history. The men dug the graves by hand as the women prepared the body, also by hand.
Tonks was shaken out of her thoughts as the Weasleys approached with Ginny. Her brothers carried the solid black plank that Ginny was on. Like many of the oldest families, the Weasleys didn't bury their dead in coffins, only a shroud.
Spared a look at the other people here today. Hermione and Pansy stood behind Mr. and Mrs. Weasley and Tonks went to join them. Behind them were a few people from Hogwarts, including Neville and Luna. There were four of Ginny's year mates, none of which Tonks knew by name. Behind them were the Gryffindor Quidditch team. Tonks frowned at the single person behind all of them. She wasn't sure of his name, but he was one of the Minister's flunkies.
The Weasley boys laid Ginny down gently and stood beside their mother as Arthur moved to the head of the grave. Molly was silent, withdrawn and with the false calm of someone under a Calming Draught.
Arthur said a few quiet words about Ginny and then she was lowered into her final resting place.
Molly wept as the men covered her daughter.
After the family was gone the Ministry man stopped by the grave and cast three short spells on the grave. A very small glowing medal floated there. It would show everyone that saw the grave that Ginevra Weasley had earned an Order of Merlin Third Class.
He sighed as he looked toward the Burrow. He hated his job sometimes. He started walking toward the Weasley home. They might appreciate the medal in the days ahead, but right now, they would much rather have their daughter back.
OoOoOoO The Order Without a Name, 08AUG-14AUG97. OoOoOoO
Neville looked down the table as he shifted, trying to ease the pain of his healing burns. There had been an attack by Death Eaters and he'd nearly been hit by a flame whip spell. It had come close enough to give him blisters along his thigh.
"They're getting smarter." Moody was staring at the map that tracked Apparations. "They are back to using hit and run tactics. They know we have some way of tracking their movements, so they pop in, fire off a few spells and leave before we can react."
Ron was looking at something only he could see and he considered this new angle. "I would expect to see them try a trap soon. They'll pop up somewhere, and hang around just long enough for us to get there and have prepositioned Death Eaters waiting, or something similar."
Moody nodded. "Aye. I agree. The question is, what do we do about it?"
Miranda looked up from her place behind Hermione. "More important, I think they are beginning to suspect there's something wrong with Harry. In the last three encounters, at least two of them have fired at Harry exclusively, even when there were better targets for them to attack."
Neville frowned. "It had to happen sooner or later. No one here can duplicate the way Harry fights. I can use the disarming spell, but Harry simply has more power than I do and sooner or later, someone had to realize that I wasn't always successful in the spell."
He looked at Luna, who was treating an injury on George's arm. "I don't suppose Harry woke up while we were gone?" He didn't think he had, as Harry's condition hadn't changed in fifteen days now, but the masquerade was wearing thin in a number of places and they were running out of excuses for Harry to miss Wizengamot meetings.
Luna looked up at him. "Not yet, but the potion I was waiting for is ready. Hermione, Pansy and I will be trying it out tonight."
Hermione and Pansy sat up, staring at Luna. "Why can't we use it now?"
Luna shrugged as she finished with George. "We could, but the potion is most potent at night and I thought waiting would give us the best chance of being successful in the attempt. Please remember that this potion is new and untested. If there was anything else we could do, I would be trying it."
Neville nodded. He knew exactly how many nights Luna had spent trying things with Harry's Healers, and how little sleep she'd gotten over the last two weeks. The Healers had tried everything they could think of, including some things that were merely legend or myth and nothing had worked.
This potion was their last chance to wake Harry. If this didn't work they would have to wait and hope that Harry woke up on his own. Neville shuddered at that thought. The fake Harrys might last another three days at best, but no longer than that.
He shook his head as he thought. Harry had been too rash, releasing the prophecy. Harry hadn't thought of the consequences if he was ever incapacitated. Since everyone knew that Harry Potter was the only one that could stop Voldemort, if word got out that he was in a coma, resistance to Voldemort would disappear and the Death Eaters would be able to do anything they wanted. He looked out the window, watching the sun and guessing how long they had before Hermione and Pansy would take the potion. Four, maybe five hours, he estimated.
He looked at the two girls and shook his head. This potion was desperation distilled. His musing was interrupted as several more people entered the room.
Headmistress McGonagall, Narcissa Black and Professor Flitwick sat down. The head of Gryffindor looked around. "Everyone came back this time?" she asked Neville quietly.
Neville nodded. "This time." That hadn't always been the case over the last two weeks. Charlie Weasley was in St. Mungo's and would be for another three days. At that, he was one of the lucky ones. The Windenmeres had lost three people and Fred and George's group had lost two more when they caught a group of Death Eaters trying to collapse an office building full of Muggles.
"We just came by to tell you that the wards at Hogwarts are ready for the new school year." Headmistress McGonagall studied Neville for a minute. "And to ask if Harry would be back."
Neville flinched. He started to say something but Professor McGonagall raised her hand. "I know my students, Mr. Longbottom. Harry is a good boy, very smart and braver than he should be. He is not, however, particularly well versed in our society. The person I have met with over the last two weeks was not Harry. I also notice that Mr. Longbottom is rarely in attendance on Mr. Potter."
Neville sighed. "I hope no one else has your power of observation, Professor."
Professor Flitwick looked at Neville. "It's just those of us that knew Harry well that noticed the discrepancies. I trained Harry in Charms for too many years not to notice that your wand movements aren't quite like his. Harry's wand motions are more suited to point spells. He still wants to end every spell pointing at the target, even when he doesn't have to."
Neville looked at Narcissa Black. "Have you heard anything at the parties to suggest anyone else has caught on?"
Narcissa was attempting to rebuild the social standing of the Black family, which meant an endless round of parties, soirées and brunches with the other society matrons. In the process, she was also Harry's conduit into the gossip of the higher elements of wizard society.
"Not yet," she said, "but many of them are asking when he'll have his party. Someone is trying to start a rumour that he's not going to have one because he doesn't care about the traditions." She frowned. "I'm not sure who it is yet, but I'm looking into it."
Neville looked up to find the rest of the people in the room had gathered around while he was talking to the three people. "You might as well start planning the party," said Luna. "After tonight, we'll either have Harry back or it won't matter. No one will be worried about a party."
Narcissa looked up. "What are you doing tonight?"
Luna was folding more of the paper birds she said brought her peace. "We've created a potion that will allow someone with a strong emotional bond with Harry to enter his mind using Legilimency. If it works, they will find Harry in his own mind and at least be able to tell us what he's thinking. With that much, maybe we can find a way to bring Harry back from where ever he is."
"And if it doesn't work?"
Everyone looked at Luna, waiting for her answer to Professor McGonagall's question. Luna's hands hesitated for a minute and she looked at Hermione and Pansy. "There are several possibilities. First, they won't be able to enter his mind. If they do enter his mind, they may not be able to find him. Neither of those possibilities is that bad." She went back to staring at her birds. "They could also be lost with Harry, if whatever he has done is strong enough."
Ron sat up in his chair. "You mean they'd be like Harry is now, until he released them?"
"Or until they died." Luna looked at the group. "Just remember, we're not trying this potion because we want to, but because we literally don't have any other choices at this point."
OoOoOoO Harry. OoOoOoO
Harry cursed another Death Eater as he ran around yet another corner. He didn't know how long he'd been running or where he was, but there was something in this maze he had to find. He snarled to himself. If these Death Eaters would just leave him alone for a minute he could stop and...
He ducked, rolling under the twisting red beam that came from a corridor to his left. He came out of his roll with his wand tracking on the corridor the spell had come from and was rewarded when a wand and hand came around the wall. Before the rest of the Death Eater showed himself, he reduced the hand and wand to a bloody paste with a few wood and bone splinters.
As the Death Eater howled Harry continued on, keeping the right wall within reach. After the events of his fourth year Harry had done some research into mazes. On of the simplest ways to keep from getting lost was to pick a wall and stay on it. It would either bring you to the exit or back to your starting point that way.
What was he missing? Something was missing, something he had to find.
OoOoOoO Hermione and Pansy, Potter Manor. OoOoOoO
Hermione and Pansy looked at Harry. He was laying on the bed in the Master suite, just as he had since they brought him back from the town just over two weeks ago. Hermione looked around the room. It was a very nice room normally, but the last two weeks had changed it dramatically.
The Healers had set up two long potion tables where different potions were being prepared to try and help Harry, to keep his muscles fit and keep him fed while he was unconscious. The furniture had been moved out of the room, leaving only Harry's bed and the things the healers were using. Hermione looked at the small crystal above Harry's head. It continued to glow a faint blue, as it had since the healers had set it in place.
The crystal was a type of monitor. It would change colour and chime if anything changed in Harry's condition from when it was set. Hermione frowned at it again. She's grown up under a public health system that meant everyone had access to basic care at least and she was appalled at the difference between the care she'd seen at St. Mungo's and what Harry was getting.
Not that she minded Harry getting this help, but that it wasn't available to everyone was disturbing. She had already made some notes about it so she could do something about it after Harry was back.
Pansy was watching the window. Luna had claimed that this potion would be most effective at night and when the moon was shining on Harry. Hermione, with her insistence on perfection, had made a series of marks on the window to show when they had to do certain things. The first mark was when they would take the potion. The second mark was when they would cast the spell to allow them to access Harry's mind.
If they hadn't entered his mind by the third mark, less than a centimetre from the second mark, it wasn't going to work at all.
Pansy was trying very hard to keep the consequences of failure from her mind.
The two girls watched as the moon came closer to the first mark. Neither of them spoke, but Pansy found her hand being gripped tightly by Hermione as they watched the moon creeping up the edge of Harry's bed.
The edge of the moon touched the first mark and the two girls took out the small vials the healers had given them and drank the potion. Pansy swallowed hers and made a face. "I hope we never have to do this again. That is worse than Skele-Gro."
Hermione looked at her. "When did you take that?"
Pansy looked at her but before she could say anything something happened between the two girls.
Hermione was in Pansy's mind, remembering a scene the year before she started Hogwarts. The scene was dreamlike, infused with a strangely warm feeling that Hermione recognized. Pansy had been under the Imperious at the time. Hermione/Pansy looked up into the face of Lucius Malfoy and listened as he gave her/them very explicit instructions.
Hermione forced her way out of the shared bond, looking at Pansy. Pansy was trembling and Hermione took her in an embrace. "You never said anything."
"Do you think I want Harry knowing about it? He'd lose sight of the more important goals. He has to stay focused." Hermione was still connected to Pansy and felt the deeper shame and embarrassment Pansy felt about the things she'd done for Lucius.
Hermione looked at the window, checking the marks. They still had a minute. She looked at Pansy, raising her head with one hand. "Lucius may not have paid enough. What say after this is over, you and I go pay him a visit?"
Pansy shook her head. "No. It's in the past and I want to keep it that way."
Hermione wasn't convinced but she didn't have time to argue about it right now. The potion was obviously working and the Moon was about to touch the second mark. The two girls moved over to Harry and Hermione pulled out her wand. She watched the window, feeling Pansy growing tenser as they waited. The edge of the moon touched the second mark and Hermione cast the spell she'd been practising all day.
An instant later the two girls were lying across the bed as limp as Harry was. Neither of them reacted or even noticed as the crystal above Harry's head changed to a dark red and began an insistent chiming.
OoOoOoO Neville and the O.W.N., the rest of the night. OoOoOoO
"Harry, there's a report from Japan you might want to see."
Neville looked up as he caught the tone of Shacklebolt's voice. He frowned at the disturbed look in the Auror's eyes. He followed the direction of his gaze and found the Auror staring at Luna, who was placidly doing some Luna thing with a turnip.
"What is it?" Shacklebolt handed him a sheet of parchment without a word of taking his eyes from Luna. Neville took it and began to read it.
He skipped the headings since he wasn't really Harry and got to the body of the letter.
"As we agreed, the Malfoy person was put to work as a stable cleaner. There were a couple of problems the first few days, but he soon learned that no work meant no food and he seemed to settle into his new life."
Neville smiled slightly of the thought of Draco cleaning stalls to eat and then continued.
"Three days ago, the stable boy began to act quite strange, as if something was watching him. Our mages checked the area and found nothing. Special cameras that record heat were set up and still nothing was found but the stable boy continued to act as if something was watching him all the time. Nothing was found that could account for that by any means we have, magical or Muggle.
Yesterday, the Stable boy was nearly worthless at work, as he was far more concerned about the eyes that were following him than his work. Late in the afternoon, he cried out something and ran screaming into the fields. We followed him quickly and located him quite soon.
The stable boy had somehow managed to claw his own eyes out of his head. After doing so, he had continued to run away and had run off of a small cliff. He was dying when we found him and none of our magic could save him. His last words were a plea to "Make the Snorkacks go away." We were unsure of what he meant and assume that he was going insane for some reason."
Neville blinked and read the letter again before looking over at Luna. She looked up from her turnip and smiled. "Harry promised I could have him, remember?" She went back to her project as Neville remembered Harry and him discussing who was going to get which Death Eater. He swallowed and looked at the letter again. He thought about asking Luna how she'd done it but quickly decided he really didn't want to know.
He was just about to set the letter aside when a sound came from Harry's room.
The healers were the first to react when the chiming started, rushing to the door of the room and disappearing inside. Luna followed them and everyone else waited tensely for some sign or report.
Thirty minutes later the two healers came out of Harry's room with Luna. The lead healer looked at all the people staring at him. "They have entered Harry's mind we think. Obviously, with no contact with them, we can't say for certain, but they are in exactly the same condition as Harry right now. All we can do now is wait."
Neville looked around. Professor McGonagall sat next to Moody and Narcissa Black. One side of the room seemed to be filled with Weasleys as Ron, Bill, Charlie and the twins sat or stood along the wall. There were a few other people waiting on word and Neville sighed heavily as he sat back down.
The entire war hung on those two girls right now. Neville began making plans for what he would do if they weren't successful in saving Harry.
OoOoOoO Voldemort and the Baron, Somewhere. OoOoOoO
"You haver fulfilled your side of the bargain. I have three magical people outside for you." Voldemort looked at the vampire, wishing his followers were have as effective as this being. He wondered for a minute if you could bind a vampire with the Dark Mark. A force of this type under his control would be a very powerful force and right now, Voldemort needed that.
Potter was up to something. His tactics had changed in the last couple of weeks and it was very confusing, almost as if someone else was running things now. Voldemort had some plans to deal with that and to flush Potter out.
He'd thought about the prophecy and knew he had an edge over Potter. The Horcruxes would insure that even if Potter somehow managed to win a duel, which was impossible, Voldemort would only be disembodied again, able to come back and fight again.
He pushed that line of thought away and looked at the vampire. "I need something else from you."
The Baron looked at Voldemort. "As long as it doesn't endanger my people unduly. I will be able to challenge for the territory I want now, but only if my forces stay strong."
Voldemort smiled cruelly. "I don't want your people to do anything to risk themselves. I merely want you to turn one newly turned vampire loose, with no controls or teaching them anything."
"No." The Baron watched as Voldemort's eyes flared his face twisted in anger at that blunt refusal. "I will not do such a thing. The vampires of Britain only survive because no one but a few hunters bothers to look for us on a regular basis. If we let loose an abomination like that on the people, we would be declaring war on the humans and they would hunt us. Not to mention the other vampires would hunt us down and sent our heads to the humans. You may one day have to power to protect us if we did such a thing, but right now, even you could not stop a hundred or more vampires."
"Can't you make look like the actions of your enemy?"
"To humans and even to wizards, I could. The first vampire to come along would know who turned that creature in an instant, as soon as they came in scent range. I will not ruin the coven I have spent fifteen decades building on something I have no chance of winning."
Voldemort nodded, realizing that he couldn't now force this creature to do his bidding. That would change one day, but … His chain of thought was disrupted as he thought of something. "But you could turn any human I sent to you, correct?"
The Baron nodded slowly. "Of course I could. It takes three nights of blood letting and a fourth night, for the new Vampire to rise and then a month of controlled teaching before they are safe to be let loose, but anyone can be turned."
Voldemort smiled cruelly. "I will be bringing you a very special person. I want them turned and taught. When they are ready, I will be back for this one."
The Baron watched Voldemort leave and thought about that thing. It was getting harder and harder to ignore the scent of death around that being. When Voldemort had still been human, before he was killed by Harry Potter in 1981, he'd smelled normal for a wizard. Since his return, he smelled like a dead thing and the longer he walked in that body, the more like a dead thing he smelled.
The Baron considered his options carefully. Voldemort had been at the apex of his power when they started working together, but now, this Potter boy was making massive inroads on Voldemort's people and power.
He looked toward the caves where his coven waited and a few minutes later one of his people entered. "You called and I answer."
"Voldemort is asking for things that are likely to be dangerous to all of us, not just this coven. It may be time to open negotiations with Potter."
His underling looked up at him and thought about it. "Why not the Ministry, Baron? We have always dealt with them before."
"We have, but this Potter, he will be the future of the Wizard world. I wish to see this Harry Potter myself, to see what the future holds if the winds of change continue to blow as they are."
The woman nodded slowly. "What do you wish of me?"
The Baron was looking at something in the distance. "You will find a way to open talks with Potter. We will not offer any help, but we will offer to remain neutral."
"What if he will not go for that?"
The Baron raised an eyebrow. "Then we will continue as we always have, making the best deals for us and our people. Before we go down that path though, I will consent to meet with Potter. I want to see this man that has thrown the Wizard world into such turmoil. I want to know the smell of his blood."
OoOoOoO The Wizard World. OoOoOoO
Auror John Reynolds looked around Diagon Alley as his people continued their patrol. The shops were busy and people walked around. He rubbed his grey hair and contrasted this day to the earlier days of Voldemort's first war. The people were nervous, but there wasn't nearly the fear that he remembered. Many people were openly carrying wands and some sort of personal weapon as well, mostly crossbows and bows.
He shook his head. Harry Potter had shown people that they could fight back, that they didn't have to knuckle under to the Death Eaters and it was beginning to make itself felt in other ways. Many people were openly questioning the actions of people in the Ministry and writing letter demanding action on a dozen things.
Madame Umbridge was in Azkaban for abuse of power among other charges that had come to light recently and before she had gone, she had made a deal for a lighter sentence.
Nearly forty years of blackmail, bribery, chicanery and abuses had come out. Madame Umbridge hadn't been responsible for all of them, but she'd spent a lot of time collecting information on almost everyone that might be able to help her career or hinder her climb to power and by the time she was done talking, the entire Ministry was in a state of upheaval.
Scrimgeour was still the Minister, but that was mostly because no one with any sense wanted the job right now. Almost every department was under some sort of investigation and some of them were going to have to be rebuilt from the ground up.
He shook his head as he thought about the Department of Under-age Magic and the results of using Veritaserum on the entire department. Almost half of them had been involved in something that was going to send them to Azkaban for life, if the public didn't storm the Ministry building and simply kill them.
Hopkirk and her friends had been using the department for something besides regulating under-age magic for nearly twenty years. They had been using the monitors to track accidental magic in under age Muggleborns and sending the names to several people, most of whom had disappeared.
So far, more than a thousand deaths of under age children could be laid at their door.
With that scandal, the Minister had decreed that every member of the Ministry would be questioned under Veritaserum to determine if they had been helping the Death Eaters or abusing their power in other ways.
The day after he'd decreed that, nearly a third of the Ministry workers had simply not come into work. Reynolds had been appalled when it turned out that a quarter of the Aurors had not come back to work either.
The Minister had put every Ministry worker that hadn't shown up on an arrest list and there were standing instructions to pick up any of them that people could find. He'd also posted a reward for anyone that turned any of them into the Aurors or made a report that resulted in a capture.
Reynolds had been a desk worker because of his advancing age until this happened. He'd been put back in charge of a patrol unit because he had come out of the his questioning clean and he had the experience.
The Floo people had been found to be operating more than thirty unregulated Floo sites and not reporting dozens of Floo passages each month. It turned out, after questioning, that Voldemort had his fingers deeply into that department as well, allowing his Death Eaters to have access to almost every place the Floo went without restriction.
When that news hit the public, they had been angered and then outraged. There were daily calls for the deaths of everyone involved and the Wizengamot was even now debating new rules to make sure nothing even close to this happened again.
Reynolds looked at the entrance to Knockturn Alley and grinned. The Alley had been an eyesore and the most dangerous place in Diagon Alley until those reports surfaced. Two days later, the Alley had been invaded by a mob of angry citizens who had burned out Borgia's and a dozen other shops before control had established by a mixed force or Aurors and Potter's people.
The only way that they had managed to regain control was to promise to look at and into every single shop. It had taken four days to search the entire alley, but some of Potter's people had made it easier. Moody's eye might be unnerving, but it was perfect for that type of work and while Reynolds was certain some things had been taken out of the alley, he was certain that there wasn't a dark thing in the alley anywhere now. With the bad elements out of there, some smaller businesses were moving in and within a few months, Knockturn Alley's bad reputation would be just another memory of another time.
He smirked as he thought of something few people knew. A solicitor, one N. Sharpstar, had bought every empty shop in the alley for next to nothing, since the previous owners were not going to be able to reopen. Reynolds didn't know who owned the Shades of Grey company, but whoever the owners were, they were going to make a lot of money. The Bludger, Harry Potter's paper had openly purchased the first building in the Alley and were running offices there.
With Potter's people controlling the open access to Knockturn Alley and oh so casually walking the length of the Alley every thirty minutes, it was fast becoming one of the safest places in the country.
He paused for a second, as he always did to watch the crowd around the statue Harry Potter had erected in the middle of Diagon Alley after the battle there. Since the battle, the statue was fast becoming one of the main attractions of the Alley. People came from all over the place to look at it, to stop and feel the magic that made a person feel the emotions of the ones that protected them.
No few flowers and small mementos lay at the base of it and Reynolds checked them out with a flick of his wand. The Death Eaters had twice tried to plant curses there, designed to afflict anyone coming close to them. They hadn't worked and no one was quite certain why.
He looked at it, and felt the presence of Harry Potter watching over them again. He'd felt it every time he came by here, although some of the older people said it felt like Albus Dumbledore. Strangely, most of the Aurors felt Potter rather than Dumbledore, no matter how old they were. He looked at the friends he saw when he looked at the statue, mostly Aurors that had died in the line of duty and sighed He saluted the statue and smiled softly when his Aurors followed suit before following him down the Alley.
He wasn't certain where Harry Potter was going to take the Wizard world, but he did believe it would be an improvement.
"Damn that Potter to the deepest pit in hell."
One of the others sitting in the room looked up. "I'd be careful about allowing anyone to know you have that opinion. No one here is going to say anything, but cursing Potter publicly these days is as much as saying you're a Death Eater."
The first speaker spun. "As if I would follow that freak. It's not even human anymore, let alone a Pureblood."
The group nodded in agreement. "So, what do we do now? Potter's paper and the things he's done are fast pushing those of us that believe in the true path of Wizards to the rear."
"We can't kill Potter, but that doesn't mean we can't hurt him." The man that had cursed Potter began to slowly pace around the table. "Potter and Riddle can't be killed by anyone but each other and they will meet sooner or later. We need to make sure that after the prophecy is over, we're in place to insure that we can prevent the loss of Pureblood privileges. With those two gone, the sheep will soon go back to grazing peacefully."
"What do you mean, those two? One of them will win and still be here to make waves."
"Not if we kill the survivor after the prophecy is over."
Six men who had never held any office in the Ministry, whose names never appeared in print, but who had controlled most of the Wizard world for decades began to make plans to insure that they kept the power no one knew they had.
"I dinna care who they is. Potter and his army is doing good tings for us, all of us."
There were murmurs of agreement from the other patrons of the pub. The person being addressed snorted. "Right now they are, yeah. But at least a few of them are Slytherins and we all know about that house. And that's without even saying anything about those Windenmeres he's dealing with. Those are some very strange people and they've got no morals at all."
A few heads nodded in agreement with that. Everyone knew that Slytherins were bad, it had been that way for at least fifty years. The Windenmeres were different as well.
The man who had been defending Potter stood up and glared at them. "Any o yous here ever met a Windenmere?" he demanded. When no one admitted to having met them he snorted. "None of yous has met one, but you know all about dem how? They ain't no books, they don't talk and yous don't know any o dem."
He looked around. "maybe they is strange an maybe they ain't. All I know is dat they backin Potter an Harry Potter is backin all us little people, the ones dat can't give Galleons to elect people. That makes them good folk in my book and I dare anyone to prove udderways." He looked around defiantly and sat back down to drink some more.
A few minutes later a hooded figure slipped out the back door from the shadowed corner he'd been sitting in He Apparated away and found his contact in the usual spot. He reported on the mood of the tavern and the comments. His contact listened and asked a few questions before handed him a small sack that clinked with the sound of gold. He was given the name of another tavern to drop in on the next night and he left again.
His contact piled the notes he'd made with the notes from nineteen others and gave the entire bundle to a large black owl that was soon winging its way to somewhere else.
He thought about it and smiled. The Windenmere association with Harry Potter was already showing benefits, if even some of the regular people that made up the Wizard world were beginning to give them the benefit of the doubt.
He made sure that everything was put away and no trace of anything that could be connected to the Windenmeres was left behind as he had been doing for three years now. Annie would be heading for bed soon and since they wanted a child, he should be there.
"We've got it."
The people looked up as the Witch spoke and the mood in the room sharpened. The older Witch sitting behind the large desk stood up and crossed the room to stand beside her. "Are you certain?"
The younger Witch handed her a sheet of notes. "I would be willing to try it tonight, on any of the items in question."
The older Witch perused the sheet she'd been handed and smiled. "Good work. Now, make copies. As soon as everyone has looked it over and we agree, we can pass this to Mr. Potter." She looked at the younger Witch. "I will personally make sure Mr. Potter knows your name."
In a few minutes, twenty people were reading the description of the ritual needed to destroy a Horcrux without destroying the vessel it was contained in.
Mrs. Warrington was behind her desk again, smiling slightly. She'd been working on this for over a month, using books from Hogwarts, the Black Library, the Windenmeres and some that had been 'liberated' from the various places Moody had been destroying among other places. Three shifts of twenty people had been working around the clock, making this the most intensive project she'd ever worked on.
She frowned as she looked at her to do list again. Somehow, they would have to keep the various cursed items and Dark magic things away from Mr. Potter until they could convince him that simply having them wasn't bad.
They didn't have to be used to radiate magic and that magic could be used to power wards and other protections around a Wizard home. Over the last few weeks, since they had been collecting these things, they'd amassed enough of them to protect at least a dozen estates.
She sighed as she remembered having a conversation with one of her people about this very topic. She sat back and began to think about the problem before her.
"What do you mean, we've got problems?"
"Someone told Mr. Potter that someone has been answering his fan mail, or at least some of it and he's got people digging into where his fan mail goes."
The two women looked at each other and the blonde one sighed. "I'll send him an owl in the morning. We knew this day was going to come sooner or later."
Grabhand stared at the Goblin that stood in front of his desk. "Are you certain of this?"
"It has been confirmed, Grabhand. Harry Potter used the free House Elf Dobby as a Secret Keeper for the Fidelius that protects his families."
Grabhand sent the other goblin away and sat back to think. He was certain now, that Harry Potter was the wizard the Goblins wanted to back. He wrote a short note and put it in the box on his desk. A few minutes later the box flashed and he removed the sheet that was in it and looked at it.
Four minutes after that he was knocking on another door. He entered when he was told to and came to a stop before another Goblin's desk, one that was even larger than his. The Goblin behind the desk looked at him. "Convince me. If you fail, you'll be a cart boy for the rest of your life."
Grabhand pulled his first sheet from the stack he'd brought with him. "Harry Potter was born July 31st, 1980." He went on, detailing everything he'd been able to learn about Harry Potter.
This had better work, or his wife was going to feed him to a dragon.
"Potter San has answered our letter and invited one of us to come and explain everything to him."
The Daimyo nodded. "You will send Nobusuke Kitasato to Potter San. He has permission to act in my name. Draw up the papers and bring them for my chop."
"It will be done."
"This Harry Potter is of age, is he not?"
"He seems to be a decent sort. He'll be far better in the Conference than that idiot Britain replaced Albus Dumbledore with. Send a letter to the British Minister of Magic suggesting the change. Don't forget to include that information that Potter's solicitor asked for."
The new Supreme Mugwump shook his head. "How the British Ministry of Magic could believe anyone could be Imperio'ed into accepting that Mark is beyond me. Make sure you send the results of your work to Mr. Potter as well."
Voldemort was thinking as he left the Baron. It wouldn't be hard to get Potter to show up somewhere, anywhere Voldemort was willing to duel. All he'd have to do would be grab a few people and threaten to kill them on the spot.
He frowned as he realized that he was near the cave that he'd hidden Slytherin's locket in. He might as well check it since he was here and alone.
He Apparated to the cave and snarled before he even entered it. The wards were disturbed and something was wrong. Ten minutes later he stood in front of the basin and stared at it in fury. The poison was gone, the locket was gone and Albus' touch was all over the cavern.
An hour later he was pacing up and down in his library and swearing to himself. The ring was gone, the locket was gone, in fact, every Horcrux he could get to was missing. He couldn't find a single trace of any of them.
The only Horcrux he could count on was the one in Nagini, and that one was only safe as long as Voldemort kept the snake safe.
He knew three were gone, either missing or destroyed and he cursed again as he thought of Lucius allowing Potter to destroy the Diary. That only left three that he could possibly reacquire. Hufflepuff's cup should still be in the Lestrange vault, Nagini was with him and the Ravenclaw diadem should still be hidden in Hogwarts.
He'd have to get his spy to get that one and bring it back to him. No, that would never work. He couldn't let anyone know just how important that thing was to him.
This turn of events though, made it imperative that he destroy Potter as soon as possible. He had to kill Potter now, before someone found a way to destroy them. After an hour of thought his fury was unabated and he went to the cells where they kept Muggles that stumbled on their hidden retreat.
Inflicting a lot of pain was always soothing.
OoOoOoO Hermione, Pansy and Harry, Harry's mind. OoOoOoO
Hermione blinked, staring around her with a disbelieving look. She was standing in the Gryffindor common room.
She thought at first she was imagining things but she quickly realized that there were some things wrong with it. First was the huge bearskin rug in front of the fireplace that had never been in the common room that she knew.
Second were the Gryffindors doing things. Fred and George weren't even in Hogwarts anymore, and Ginny wasn't.. she shied away from that thought as she watched Fred and George teasing Ron about something while Ginny nibbled on a quill, reading a book and making notes.
She was a little disturbed to see herself curled up in a chair and reading something, some very large and thick book.
"Is this really what your common room looks like?" Hermione turned to see Pansy looking around.
"Pretty much," Hermione said, "except for that rug."
Pansy looked at the bearskin rug and frowned. "You know what that is, don't you? Harry promised Ginny a bearskin rug once, remember?"
Hermione remembered that conversation well. She looked around curiously. "I see everyone here except Harry. Where is he?"
Pansy shrugged. "I guess we should check the boy's room."
Hermione looked at her. "How much of that is your curiosity about Harry's room?"
Pansy frowned at her. "Very, very little. I want Harry back as much as you do. We need him."
Hermione flushed and led Pansy up the stairs. They were back downstairs quickly. "If he's not in Gryffindor Tower, where is he?"
Hermione was looking at the door out of the tower thoughtfully. "If he's not here, I suppose he has to be somewhere else. Come on."
They left the tower and Hermione looked around. It was Hogwarts, but it was different. It seemed somehow brighter and more magical.
Pansy and Hermione looked around and over the edge where the staircases were moving. "Is this how Harry sees Hogwarts?" asked Pansy.
"I think so," Hermione said as she started down the stairs. "You know what the Dursleys were like. When Harry came here, to a world of magic, where he wasn't abused or beaten, where he could eat as much as he wanted, it must have been a bit of heaven."
Pansy thought about it as they went downstairs. "I wonder what it would be like to see the world from Harry's point of view."
Hermione reached the bottom of the stairs and looked around. She headed for the Great Hall.
They stopped inside the Great Hall and looked around. "This is the welcoming feast from second year." Hermione said after looking around.
Pansy nodded. "Did you see the staff table?"
Hermione nodded as she looked up to the front of room. Albus Dumbledore sat in his place in the centre of the staff table and Hagrid was at one end. The rest of the staff, even Professor Trelaney sat along the table. Some of them, the teachers Harry didn't know well were hazy, with details missing or grey areas in them. The ones Harry did know well were sharp, focused, with some characteristics exaggerated. Hagrid had a small dragon that Hermione recognized as Norbert climbing on his shoulder and he was half again as big as he was in life.
Professor McGonagall was her normal self, except that she seemed somehow friendly instead of her more usual unapproachable appearance.
Hermione looked at Snape. He was a mass of shadows and billowing darkness, as if he'd managed to pull the night around him to act like robes. His face was the same except for his eyes. In their place, the red eyes of Voldemort looked out over the tables.
"Harry really sees us like that?" Hermione looked at Pansy and followed her gaze over to the Slytherin table.
Most of the Slytherins had scared looks, and sheep like faces as they all watched Draco and his friends laughing. A few stood out, including Pansy, who was slightly mouse like as she hid behind Draco. Blaise and Daphne sat at the end of the table and were completely oblivious to everything around them, lost in their own little world.
Draco, Nott and the rest of his cronies were dressed in black and had Death Eater masks hanging from their belts.
"I wonder what this scene would look like from your point of view," Hermione mused.
"Or yours," Pansy parried. "I wonder if even Harry knows how he looks at us in his subconscious mind."
"I doubt it, or it wouldn't be subconscious," Hermione said. "But Harry's not here. Let's check the Quidditch Pitch first."
The two girls headed for the front doors. As they got there, they stopped to watch Filch chasing a flying speck of dirt with a mop and had to smile.
The smiles disappeared as they stepped outside and the doors slammed shut behind them. They looked out over the grounds and then at each other. "The third task," Pansy whispered.
The Quidditch Pitch was gone and there was a maze there, just as there had been during the final task, but this maze was different. It was far larger and darker, with things from a nightmare wandering in it, Dementors flying overhead and the stands were filled with Death Eaters.
Hermione shivered as she looked at the horizon. There were thick black clouds roiling and filling the sky above the Forbidden Forest. In the middle of the clouds was Voldemort, appearing as big as any giant and radiating evil. Little streamers of shadow came from him continuously, touching and swallowing anything they came in contact with.
Hermione's attention went back to the maze as a red coloured spell shot out of it. "That's where Harry is," said Hermione and she started that way.
"Are you sure?" asked Pansy dubiously. "I would hate to caught up in that and find out he was somewhere else.
"Pansy, have you seen any other fighting since we got here?"
"Where else would Harry be but in the middle of the fighting? He always get caught up in it, even if it's not his fault."
Pansy had to agree with that. The two girls found the entrance to the maze and stopped, looking into the maze. There was nothing to see though as some sort of mist or haze covered the entrance.
"Are you ready?"
Pansy looked at Hermione incredulously. "Are you asking if I really want to step inside?"
Hermione flicked a glance at her. "Harry's in there." She smiled softly then. "Don't you ever tell the boys this, but after the fear is over, most of the time, these things are sort of fun to remember."
Pansy stared at Hermione in disbelief. "I was wrong. You're a bigger Gryffindor than Harry."
Hermione shrugged and the two girls stepped into the mist.
Harry used the 'Concussio' spell and watched as the what-ever-it-was was flipped end for end and lay still. What ever that thing was, he was sure that Hagrid would love it. Hagrid liked big and dangerous and that thing had teeth, claws, not one but two stingers, and just to make it complete, it spit poison.
He was just rounding the corner when the wheezing lump gave up the struggle to live. He heard it stop breathing and a second later a huge blast flung him to the floor as bits of what ever it was came raining down.
Now that was just overkill.
He was about to start down the passage he'd been following when a scream broke the air. Harry's eyes lit with an inner fire as he turned back the way he'd come. He'd heard that scream before.
He came around a corner into an intersection and nearly ran into the back end of another of those whatevers.
"Harry!" Harry ducked under the thing, casting a 'Reducto' at the rearmost stringer before it could impale him.
He scrambled to avoid be stepped on and ended up against the wall next to Hermione. He risked a quick glance at her leg, where her pants leg was torn and blood was seeping out. Hermione was trying to to use a field healing spell they'd learned in the Inferno on it while keeping an eye on Pansy. "Help Pansy."
Harry looked again and nodded. The injury wasn't that serious and Pansy needed him more than Hermione right now. He got up and ducked under a claw to join Pansy. "What is this thing, Harry? How do we kill it?"
"I don't know, and carefully, since it explodes when it dies."
Pansy frowned at him. "We'll be having words about this, Harry."
Harry was trying to target the thing's legs with Reducto curses, figuring that it couldn't chase them if it couldn't move. He saw the jaws working and pulled Pansy to the side as it spit a greenish glob of goo at where she'd been standing an instant before. "By the way," he said absently, as he used a cutting charm to remove the left side claw, "it spits poison."
Pansy just started trying to remove the legs on the other side without comment, at least not any Harry could hear. He was fairly certain that he didn't want to know what she was muttering between spells.
A few seconds later the thing was disabled and Harry hugged Pansy shortly before crossing to Hermione and hugging her as well. "What are you two doing here?"
Hermione frowned at him. "Harry, where are we?"
Harry blinked and frowned. "We're..." he trailed off. "I don't know."
Hermione looked around, searching for the towers of Hogwarts, which should have been easily seen. There was nothing above the maze except more of the haze that had covered the entrance.
Harry suddenly pushed them both as a twisting red beam they all recognized lanced by. Harry was returning fire before either of the girls could even find the enemy. They watched as Harry used some spell to send the Death Eater that had come around a corner flying back into the wall and then used the ribbon cutting charm to remove his head.
"Come on, if you stand still too long, they start to come in twos and threes."
"Harry, this way." Hermione pointed down one corridor. Harry shrugged and started the way she'd pointed.
"Do you know how to get to the centre of the maze, Hermione?"
Hermione and Pansy were looking at Harry oddly. He wasn't sad or hurting, just determined as far as they could tell. "Harry, why are you trying to get to the centre?" Hermione asked him.
"There's something there, something I have to find."
Pansy and Hermione looked at each other. "Harry, what's the last thing you remember before entering the maze?"
Harry hesitated for a minute. "I'm not sure." He thought for a minute as he kept walking. "There was an attack of some kind, werewolves, I think." He stopped and looked at them. "What happened?"
Hermione sighed. Harry didn't want to remember, he'd blocked it out of his mind but they would have to tell him. She caught a movement out of the corner of her eye and spun, tracking her wand on the whatever creature as it came out of a corridor.
Harry and Pansy had tried to cut it's legs out from under it, but Hermione didn't know what happened when it died and she'd used the more damaging spell.
Harry gathered them both in his arms, turning to present his back as it exploded, sending pieces in all directions.
Hermione looked at the blood and other things splattered other them all and then at the other two. "Would it have killed you to warn me about that?"
Harry looked abashed. "Oops?"
Hermione sighed and started down the path again. Harry and Pansy followed her until she stopped suddenly. "Why are we following the paths? Harry, do what ever you did to the Inferno maze when Moody made you guard Fleur."
Harry blinked and then swore. "I never even thought about that." He looked at the wall and the two girls could see him trying to call up his power. After a few seconds, he relaxed. "It's not working."
"Figures. Any Slytherin knows you can't depend on a Gryffindor." Pansy's voice was pure acid and Harry's eyes blazed. He snarled and threw his hands out. A white hot flame a metre across came from his hands and cut through the maze walls with ease.
Pansy blinked the spots out of her eyes to find Harry glaring at her. "I'm sorry, Harry, but it worked."
Hermione looked at the hole Harry's magic had torn in the walls and saw that they were just two corridors from the outside. "Make up later, you two. Let's get out of here before there are more of those things."
Harry hesitated. "But there's something in the middle I need to find."
Hermione sighed. "Do you have to go through the maze? Wouldn't it be easier to fly over it and drop into the centre?"
Harry started toward the outside as he smiled. "No reason that I know."
A few minutes later they were looking at the maze from the outside. Harry looked around and started toward the Quidditch shed. "Come on, we can get the school brooms."
"Harry, wait a minute."
He stopped and looked at them. "What?"
Hermione and Pansy looked at each other, unsure of how to tell Harry that he wouldn't be able to find what he was missing. Harry looked at them and saw the strain on them. He came closer and touched Hermione's cheek. "What's wrong?"
Hermione sighed. "Harry, what happened during the attack?"
Harry frowned, looking toward the shed. "Harry, please. Think about it."
Harry looked at her and thought. "A bunch of werewolves came from the forest and we were fighting them. Then Ron reported more werewolves in the town and we went there." He hesitated. I don't remember what happened next."
Hermione and Pansy put their arms around Harry. "Harry, we went into the town and we were fighting. Ginny was on her broom and flew into a house."
Harry stiffened at the first mention of Ginny's name. "She was hurt, I saw that, but I..." He looked at Hermione. "I didn't heal her, did I?"
Hermione's throat was too tight to speak and she shook her head as the tears began.
Harry put his arms around the girls the three of them comforted each other, all of them mourning the vivacious girl they'd loved in their own ways.
Some time later Harry pulled away from the girls. "What happened to the maze?"
The two girls looked around, seeing that the Quidditch pitch was back to its normal appearance. "You didn't need it any more, Harry so it's gone."
Harry stared at her in confusion. "Huh?"
"Harry, this is your mind, or part of it. We came in to find you using a potion and a spell."
Harry blinked. "My mind? Why?"
"Harry, the fight was two weeks ago. You've been unconscious for that long and we had to bring you back."
Harry stiffened. "Two weeks? But what about."
Hermione interrupted him. "Harry, we'll fill you in after we are back in our own bodies, OK?"
Harry nodded and watched them. "How are you getting back, anyway?"
Hermione smiled at him. "That's your job, Harry. You have to use the Occlumency you've learned. As you bring your Occlumency shields up, we should be sent back to our bodies as we're thrust out of your mind. After that, you should wake normally."
Harry nodded in comprehension. He took a deep breath and concentrated as he'd been taught.
Hermione and Pansy were there one minute and gone the next. Harry nodded and went to Gryffindor Tower, certain that when he woke, he'd be fine.
Hermione had told so, after all.
OoOoOoO Hermione and Pansy. OoOoOoO
Pansy woke up first and sat up, rubbing her temples. "I wish someone had told me that being pushed out of Harry's mind would hurt this much." She looked at Hermione who was stirring slightly. "Hermione, are you OK?"
Hermione winced, and opened her eyes. "I will be if you keep it down. I have a headache the size of the astronomy tower."
They both looked at Harry then. "Should we wake him?" Pansy asked.
"No. Let him wake normally. First, he might need the rest if he's been in that maze for two weeks and second, if he wakes now, three hundred people are going to bust in here making all sorts of noise."
Pansy winced at that thought and crawled carefully up next to Harry. "Then I'm going to try and sleep off this headache."
Hermione crawled up on the other side of Harry and soon the three of them were as still as they had been before.
Luna came out of the corner and looked at the two girls before waving her wand over Harry. Satisfied with whatever the spell told her she touched each of the girls gently with her wand and turned toward the door.
Outside the door she looked at all the people standing or sitting around. "They seem to be sleeping normally. They should wake up in the morning."
Neville sat up. "Are you sure?"
Luna shrugged. "Of course not. A Nargle could eat them tonight."
Ron grinned. "Luna, if a Nargle doesn't eat them, will they all wake up in the morning?"
"Of course they will."
OoOoOoO Harry, 15AUG97. OoOoOoO
Harry woke slowly and turned over, weeks of habit making him sweep the bushy hair aside before he got a face full of it. He vaguely felt Pansy snuggling closer behind him as he stretched slowly.
He froze then as his mind caught up and he realized that Ginny wouldn't be joining them this morning or any morning.
He sat up, or tried to but the two girls in bed with him wouldn't let him unless he struggled harder than he was willing to do.
Pansy leaned over him and kissed him, just as she'd been doing since they started sleeping together. He responded automatically.
When Pansy was done Hermione took her place and kissed him. By the time they were both done, they were draped over him and each other in a position they'd shared many times.
"Harry," Hermione said softly, "Ginny wouldn't want you to change. We've always woke up together and talked before we went out to face the others."
"And we do have quite a bit to talk about this morning," Pansy said.
Harry closed his eyes. "I don't care right now. You've had time to become accustomed to her being gone. I haven't."
Pansy moved around and sat on Harry, looking down on him. "I know, Harry. And when we're alone like this, Hermione and I will help you grieve. But, out there, beyond these walls, you can't let anyone know that you've been sleeping for all this time."
Harry frowned. "Why not? How could they not have noticed..." His voice trailed off and he frowned. "You've had someone pretending to be me."
"Three someones, actually. Neville, Tonks and Remus have been taking turns when ever one of them could skip an event. But you're going to be extremely busy for a few days."
Harry sighed. "Tell me what's been going on."
Hermione began telling him about everything he'd been missing. Pansy added a few details here and there, but for the next hour, Harry listened to Hermione.
Harry sat up as she was talking about the Ministry. "They were what?"
Pansy and Hermione wrapped their arms around Harry. "Calm down, Harry. It's already been stopped and measures are in place to insure it never happens again." Harry was glaring and his magic was growing again. Hermione and Pansy spent a few minutes calming him before they continued telling him about the changes of the last two weeks.
They were detailing the last couple of attacks when the door opened and Luna came in. "Good morning, Harry, Hermione, Pansy. Did you have a nice nap, Harry?"
"I understand I owe you my thanks, Luna."
"Later, Harry. Right now, I believe that there are a lot of people waiting to see you and you might want to get dressed before going out there."
Harry got up and nearly fell over. "What the?" he said. "I don't feel right."
Hermione stood up and Harry blinked. He'd been a little taller than Hermione two weeks ago, but now he was nearly nine centimetres taller than she was. Hermione and Pansy looked at him, as puzzled as he was. Luna looked at him. "I thought that might happen."
The three of them turned to look at her. "Luna, what did you do, exactly?" Hermione demanded.
"In the course of examining Harry, I discovered that he'd been malnourished during certain critical periods of his development. I simply made sure that the same potions that kept him nourished during his nap would correct that as much as possible. Without Harry using any energy running around and doing things, most of the potion went to correcting as much of the problem as possible. Harry will never be what he would have been, but he's as close as he'll ever be now."
Harry took a step, and then walked around the room. "It will take a couple of days to adjust to your body's new centre of balance, but you should be back to normal by the time you have to face Moody again."
Harry was trying to get his pants on but they were a good four centimetres short and too tight in the thigh area. Pansy smirked and used her wand on them until they fit the way they had before.
Harry finished dressing and slid his wand into the wrist holster. "Ladies, shall we go?"
Harry opened the door and was met with silence for a minute, long enough for him to realize just how many people were waiting for him.
Tonks and Katie were the two closest to the door and they were the first to greet Harry with hugs, but they were only the beginning as everyone in the room tried to hug, shake hands with or otherwise touch Harry while they all said different things to him.
It took some time to restore order, but finally everyone was calm enough for Harry to make himself heard. "I understand that you have picked up in my absence and continued on. I owe all of you my thanks." He cleared his throat, blinking rapidly. "I will remember it."
Pansy pulled on his hand. "Come on Harry, you need some solid food and then Hermione and I are taking you some place. Everyone else has things to do today, but we are going somewhere."
Harry allowed Pansy to pull him toward the dining room. "Where are we going?"
Pansy wormed her way under his arm as Hermione came up on his other side and put an arm around him. "We thought you might want some privacy to say goodbye to Ginny."
Harry shivered. "Do I have to?"
Hermione stopped him and hugged him. "Yes, Harry."
Harry barely reached the dining room before Dobby was there. "Harry Potter Sir is up again. I knew you would be. Dobby will be bringing your food."
Harry stared at the calm House Elf, contrasting this being with the one he'd freed. Hermione saw his look and explained. "Boody, the one that used to run the estate died, Harry. As your personal House Elf, Dobby was the one that had to take over and he's been growing intro the role."
Harry sat down and his food was just there in front of him before he'd even gotten completely in his seat. He looked at it and blinked. "Dobby," he called.
"Yes, Harry Potter sir?"
Harry looked at Dobby and smiled. "I understand you are in charge of my estate now."
"Dobby is, Harry Potter Sir. Is there something you want done, Harry Potter Sir?"
Harry held out his hand. "There is, Dobby. I want to thank you for your work."
Dobby looked at Harry's hand and reached for it slowly. "Harry Potter is greatest wizard ever."
Harry shook Dobby's hand and asked how Winky was. Dobby showed a flash of his old self as he told Harry about Winky and her pregnancy. Harry listened while he ate, until Dobby had to go and settle some House Elf thing.
He looked at the two girls eating with him and down the long table. "Where is everyone else?"
Hermione and Pansy looked at the ceiling. Harry watched them in silence for a minute until Hermione broke. "They seem to have lost the dining room, Harry. They'll be able to find it if there's a serious emergency or after we're gone. Pansy and I wanted some private time with you."
Harry nodded and went back to eating. He was having to pay some attention to his motions. He'd almost stabbed his lip with his first bite. He made a couple of minor errors in reaching for things and he winced. If Voldemort or any Death Eaters attacked today, he'd be in trouble.
OoOoOoO Harry, Ginny's Grave. OoOoOoO
Hermione and Pansy had shown Harry the grave and gone quietly up the hill to wait for him there. Harry had stared at the stone for a second and then sank to his knees.
"What am I going to do, Ginny? All of my plans have included you." Harry let the tears run down his face as he talked to his first love. "I was blind for so long, seeing only the little sister with a crush." He smiled slightly. "You had to shock me seriously, that summer in Sirius' house before you became a person in your own right."
Harry closed his eyes. "Our time was too short. A lifetime wouldn't have been enough with you."
He looked at the grave again. "I know this, though." Harry's eyes were a deep green, with an unsettled fey look to them that would have made anyone nervous, if anyone could see them.
"Voldemort and his people are going to regret this."
Harry sat there for a bit longer and then looked at the grave. He put his hands down and called up images of Ginny. Her face as she played Quidditch. The look she'd had as he asked her to marry him, the look she'd had after their first kiss. He called up every thing he'd loved about her and then pushed it into his hands, visualizing what he wanted.
Harry stood up and looked at the changes he'd made to the grave. Around the headstone were were four Orchids, Ginny's favourite flower. These flowers though, would never stop blooming and couldn't be plucked. "You'll always have flowers, Love." Harry looked down at the grave again. "I'll be back, when ever I can, and one of these days, I'll be able to tell you that Voldemort's gone." Harry stepped back and looked at the grave one more time.
He walked slowly up the hill to where the other two girls waited for him. He looked out over the small hill. Hermione and Pansy moved up on each side and each of them took one of his hands. Harry looked back at Miranda, who was as unobtrusive as always. She nodded and Harry looked forward. "I believe we have things to do."
Hermione nodded silently and pulled a string from her pocket. The four of them took a hold of it and an instant later the dead were the only ones on the hill.
Harry sat in his office at the Department of Magical Warfare and cursed silently. If he'd known just how much paperwork this office had, he'd have told the Minister to sod off.
Auror Fairwater had known about the deception and she had been carefully holding all the various papers that absolutely had to have his signature. She had been good enough to separate the things into three piles. The important ones that had to be signed as soon as possible, the ones that he had to make a decision on before signing and the routine stuff that was the result of any organization made up of people. Those papers she gave him a quick briefing on and he signed them all without reading them. Harry was new enough to government work to wonder why he was included on the list of people that had to know that the supply closets required an inventory, since his Department didn't even have a supply closet.
He'd been in the office almost three hours when Auror Fairwater came in. "Sir, there are two men here to see you."
Harry looked up from the pile of papers in front of him. "Are they here to burn the paperwork?" he asked hopefully.
"No Sir, they're here to administer the Veritaserum."
Harry shrugged. "You said it would take about five minutes, correct?"
"Bring them in."
The two men entered, following Auror Fairwater. "Lord Black, I apologise for this, but the new rules require it. I am Auror Masters and this is Auror Madison."
Harry looked at the two elderly Wizards. "It's not a problem, gentlemen. Do you have any problems with my assistant staying in the room? There are a few things I cannot answer."
Auror Masters shook his head. "Of course not, Lord Black."
Auror Masters took out a small bottle and carefully gave Harry three drops of the clear fluid. He waited a minute and asked Harry for his full name.
"Baron Harry Potter, Lord Harry Potter-Black, The Montrose."
The Aurors recorded the response and Auror Masters looked at the next question with a smile. "Do we even have to ask this one?" he said to the others. Since both of them had already been through this and knew what the next question was they just smiled. Auror Masters looked at Harry. "Do you now or have you ever supported or assisted in any way the being known as You Know Who, Voldemort or Tom Riddle?"
They recorded the answer and Auror Masters looked at Harry again, asking, "have you ever misused the power of your position for personal gain, or for the gain of anyone else?"
Harry's eyes grew confused. "Yes, no. I don't know."
Auror Fairwater had been warned about this. "Auror, you'll have to specify which position you're asking about. Lord Black has several, you know."
The Auror nodded. "Lord Black, have you ever misused the power of your Ministry position for personal gain or for the gain of anyone else?"
"I don't know."
The Auror looked at him. "Can you explain why you don't know?"
"I have not yet read or learned all the rules of this position. I may have broken some rule I don't know yet."
The Auror team looked at each other. "Are we seriously questioning someone that's worried about breaking rules he doesn't even know?"
Harry was given the antidote to the truth potion and he shook his head as the affect wore off.
The two Auror finished the form and had Harry sign it.
Harry was deep in the paperwork when Auror Fairwater came in. "Miss Black is here, Sir. Shall I show her in?"
Harry looked up and smiled. "Which Miss Black are you referring to?"
"Miss Hermione Black, Sir."
"Send her in."
Hermione came in a minute later. "Hello, Harry. Are you ready to go to the Wizengamot?"
Harry looked at the piles of paperwork he still had to go over and back at Hermione. "Not really, but I don't have a choice, do I?"
Hermione came around his desk and looked at Harry. She'd known Harry for several very intense years and she knew the look of an emotional Harry better than anyone. "Harry?"
He looked at her. "I'm fine, Hermione."
He got up and started out of the office. Hermione hurried after him, rolling her eyes. "I'm fine. Right. Like I've never heard that lie before," she muttered as she went after him.
The three of them went to the Wizengamot chamber. Hermione and Miranda went to the spectator seats while Harry was joined by Nicholas Sharpstar. Harry and the Solicitor had a short briefing, with Nicholas making sure that Harry knew everything that he needed to know for this meeting.
Harry settled into his Wizengamot seat as he looked at the notes Sharpstar had given him. This was going to be a long four hours.
OoOoOoO Gerald, just outside London. OoOoOoO
Gerald looked at his people. Fourteen faces stared back at him. "You know what we're going to do. These scum are killing people and they have been given to us. There may be a hostage or two in there. Those people will be Obliviated and released unharmed, but we don't have to deal with that. Moody and his people will be here exactly five minutes after our first spell. We will be gone before then."
He looked at his team. "We will not be leaving any survivors that are not victims. Period. Are there any questions?"
One of the women looked at him. "What if they're not all here?"
"The one we caught stated that the ritual they are doing tonight is a regular thing and everyone has to be here or suffer their leader's wrath. Since he is a follower of You Know Who, I assume his anger is something to be avoided. But, if any of them are not accounted for, we'll hunt them down later."
He looked around. "Any other questions?"
"Are we using those spells?" Everyone looked at Gerald.
He nodded slowly. "At least one of the people on the other side is a wizard trained by You Know Who. You may use any spell that allows you to live and kills the enemy." He checked his watch. "They have been doing the ritual for thirty minutes. You and you, go take out the sentries. As soon as they are gone, we'll start the assault."
The two he'd pointed at disillusioned themselves and went toward the small house. It was for sale, and had been for nearly ten years. The track leading to it was overgrown and the house appeared to be falling down. It was the perfect place for Lucifer and his cultists to gather for their dark rituals and sabbats. One of Lucifer's people owned it, and had put it up for sale before "going" to India as part of a Missionary group, supposedly. Since the price he was asking was three times what it was worth, no one ever came out to look at it.
Gerald and his team had scouted it earlier in the day and knew that under the house was a series of rooms. They'd mapped them out and were prepared to deal with the people that would be in there now, doing whatever they did.
Gerald waited for the word from his two sentry killers.
Anson Rimaldi came up behind his target, who appeared to be a simple Muggle. He noted the gun and sneered. Like that thing could hurt a prepared Wizard. Not that it mattered, this sentry wasn't very good at his job, standing in one place and smoking a cigarette. He came up behind him, invisible and silenced and prepared to take him out. He waited for him to take one last drag and lower his arm.
Anson put one hand around his neck, cutting off the air and any chance of calling out even as his other hand came up with his knife. He struck, holding the blade vertically as he pushed it into the man's side below the ribs and just above the hips, slicing through his kidney. Anson turned the blade horizontally and pulled it across his target until the blade was stopped by the spine.
The massive shock, pain and trauma the body was subjected to paralysed the sentry and he died there, held up by Anson. The wizard lowered his target to ground slowly, making sure that there was no noise to alert anyone that might have heard anything.
He returned to the meeting point and looked for the branch the two had chosen earlier. He broke the tip of it and waited. A few minutes later, the branch broke again and Anson knew the other man had returned and the way was clear for the main force to start their attack. He used the 'Lumos' spell to light his wand tip for a second and then cut it off with 'Nox'.
A few seconds later, he saw an answering flash. He made a second flash and started patrolling around the house. His part of the attack was over, but his secondary task was too make sure that no one that wasn't one of their people left before Moody's people got here.
Anson continued around the house, trusting his partner to be doing his job as well.
Gerald saw the flash and answered it before turning to the rest of his people. "Right. We're clear to the door. Everyone knows what we've got planned, let's go."
The twelve people with him broke into their teams, four people in each team and ghosted up to the door of the house. The first team silenced the door and opened it suddenly.
The second team was waiting for that and went in, each person responsible for anyone in their area as they split up to cover the room. They motioned the next team in as they made sure there wasn't anyone in there and the third team went down the hallway from the first room with the first team picking up right behind them. They came to a doorway and the third team went in. As they cleared the room, the first team moved past them, continuing down the hallway toward their destination, the door that led to the rooms that Lucifer's people had dug out.
The house was clear of any people and the three teams gathered at the last door and Gerald nodded once, after he was certain everyone was ready.
Team one opened the door and team two was halfway down the stairs before the cultist at the bottom knew they were even there. The first person going down the stairs saw the cultist and cast a cutting curse at him, severing his jugular and nearly his head from his body. The second person was casting a silencing spell at almost the same time and the body made no noise at it hit the ground.
Team one held the first room as the second team moved to the doorway and went on. The second room didn't have a door either and they were nearly running as they hit the next room. There were just a couple of cages in this room and they cleared it and stopped. The third team was right behind them and they leapfrogged the second team and blew right into the final room. They were casting spells before any of the people in the last room knew they were there.
Lucifer was holding the the cup that he had just drained the life's blood of his sacrifice into when a motion at the back of the room caught his eye. He ducked as a spell flashed by and dropped behind the altar the body lay on.
Chaos had erupted as the people that had attacked mercilessly cut his followers down. He pulled his wand and cast a rotting curse at one of them, only to have a barrage of spells come back.
It took less than five seconds for the combined efforts of two teams to destroy the altar and the person hiding behind it. Gerald looked around. The only person that they might have left alive had been killed before they entered and he crossed the room, looking at the man behind the altar, the one that had been using the wand.
To his surprise he was still alive, although not for long. His arm was gone entirely and other wounds marred his body. He looked at Gerald and coughed blood. "Satan will have his day," he whispered hoarsely, and Gerald shook his head slowly as he raised his wand.
"No, he won't. He will fall, just as you have." Gerald waited a second, letting the man realize he was about to die and then finished it. "Reducto."
He looked up. One of his teams was watching the door and the other two were making sure all of the targets were dead.
His second in command looked at him. "Four minute mark, Gerald. Diana was sent to the Healers with a rotting curse, no other injuries. There are no enemy survivors and we can leave at any time."
Gerald nodded. "Let's go then." One of the fighters went out to let the guards know it was time to go and the rest started Apparating out.
Thirty seconds later, they were no living people anywhere on the property.
OoOoOoO Moody. OoOoOoO
Moody had examined each body and room with Magic and his eye, following the train of events as if he'd been there. He looked at his people. "Damn fine work here. I'm impressed."
David Jergison came up. "I've seen this before, you know. Do you remember the Grayson murders?"
Moody frowned, thinking back. "I think so, someone killed the family in the night, didn't they? Just before the Potters died."
Jergison nodded. "Yes. This attack matches that one perfectly. We had always assumed that it had been Death Eaters and that they had been interrupted before casting the Dark Mark, but maybe we need to rethink that."
Moody frowned. "Whatever they may have done, they are our allies now. Maybe we should talk to them first, before we start cutting down Harry's people. I'd prefer not to be fighting with Voldemort and Harry Potter at the same time."
Jergison snorted. "That's why I'm telling you. You get the privilege of talking to Potter about this. You are the boss after all."
Moody just sighed. "Thanks, David. Thank you very much."
David smirked at him. "What are friends for?"
OoOoOoO Grabhand, Gringotts. OoOoOoO
"Snatchear, the time has come to start offering Mr. Potter a bit more help. You will find him a troop of Goblins trained in using the boxes he likes. Only our best, mind you. I'll be owling Mr. Potter and discussing terms."
The other Goblin left and Grabhand sat back in his chair. He looked at his new office and substantially larger desk. If his association with Mr. Potter worked, he'd be elevated to the Council, in position to take over the London Gringotts when Ragnarok stepped down.
Of course, if it didn't, he'd be Dragon food. He began to examine the things he could do to help Mr. Potter and incur some favours owed. Mr. Potter was an open minded wizard and one that understood debts had to be paid. Grabhand would be fair with Mr. Potter, but this was business after all and that meant making a profit.
OoOoOoO Harry and the Order. OoOoOoO
"Harry, we've got another incursion."
Harry looked up from his place at the table. "Where?" He came to stand next to Katie who was on the map monitoring detail. She'd already sent Remus to check the mass Apparations that had appeared on the map.
"Just outside of Belfast. It appears to be ten or eleven people."
Harry nodded, staring at the map intently. Remus popped back in then. "It's Death Eaters."
Remus continued to report as Katie and Hermione made Portkeys. "Their target appears to be a house about two hundred metres to the left of where they appeared. At least that was the only visible thing."
Harry nodded and looked at the other people going with him. Pansy and Hermione would never let him go alone and that meant Miranda would be there to watch over Hermione. Remus and his team, a dozen Windenmeres and the three of them. Not the overwhelming odds they wanted, but they didn't have a choice.
Harry looked up as Hermione, Miranda and Pansy joined him. "Let's go," he said tersely and three Portkeys were touched.
The three groups appeared and Harry's people started making a perimeter even as they started toward the know of dark robes they could see moving towards the only mad made structure in sight. Harry was leading as the group spread out, leaving enough room between each person that a missed spell fired at one person would hit another, but close enough to provide support to each other.
The Death Eaters didn't see them coming until Harry and his people were within spell range.
Their first indication that anyone was there was the explosive death of one of the ones in the back. Harry's "Concussio" spell reduced him to so much meat.
In the instant of shock, Harry killed another Death Eater and was preparing to strike another as the rest of his people started scattering and firing spells at the Death Eaters.
None of Harry's people noticed as one of the Death Eaters simply disappeared.
The Death Eaters rallied, ducking behind a small outbuilding of some sort and firing spells from cover. Harry's people had plans for this and they paired up, one person shielding the pair while the other attacked the Death Eaters. They began circling the building, looking for targets when Harry made it unnecessary.
"Concussio" had been developed to affect the thick hide and magic resistance of Dragons. The Order already knew what it would do to people and now Harry showed them what it would do to inanimate objects as he focused his Aestuomagius and cast his spell.
The wooden sides of the building were no match for the emotionally driven spell and splinters flew in every direction as the building simply ceased to exist. Several of the Death Eaters behind it were injured by the flying shrapnel and Harry's people put three more down before they recovered.
Remus was shielding Tonks as they fought and frowning. He had been on the last few missions and this was too easy. The surviving Death Eaters were better than this. The hackles on the back of his neck rose and he spun around.
"It's a trap!"
Harry looked at Remus and followed his arm. More than thirty Death Eaters on Broomsticks flew toward them, with forty or fifty more on foot.
Harry swore. "Everyone go now," he barked out. He wasn't about to fight fifteen to sixty odds.
"Harry, we can't" He turned to see one of the Windenmere fighters tapping the Portkey. "They must have wards up."
Harry looked at Miranda, who had pushed Hermione behind her and was between the Death Eaters and Hermione. "Take Pansy and Hermione and go."
Harry looked at his fighters. "Remus, you and Tonks lead the withdrawal. Leave me four people to cover the retreat.
Pansy and Hermione started to say something and Harry cut them off. "That's not a request," he snarled. Harry's eyes were burning as he turned toward the Death Eaters coming at them.
Miranda started herding the protesting girls away from the Death Eaters as Harry pulled his Broomstick from his pocket and restored it to full size.
The airborne Death Eaters were taken aback when a single flyer started toward them and they changed course toward the fool that was rapidly approaching them.
Confidence changed to shock as the figure disappeared to reappear in their very midst. Harry rammed the first one, knocking him off his broomstick and cutting under one while casting a burning spell on the broomstick.
The Death Eaters tried to hit the whirling dervish that had attacked them, but Harry never stopped moving, his lessons from Moody and Miranda keeping him in constant motion, using the bodies of the Death Eaters as cover.
Several of them fell to curses from their companions and four more fell to Harry's spells before they realized that he was using them to block each other. They began spreading out, trying to stay far enough away from each other and Harry to cast spells without hitting each other.
Harry pulled up and shot into the sky, rolling over when he was out of range of most spells. The Order members on the ground were heading away from the Death Eaters, with the four Remus had detailed as the rearguard staying back and watching the approaching Death Eaters. One of the Order people was constantly trying the Portkey, looking for the edge of the wards that prevented using them.
Harry froze for a second. From his position he could see a sizeable mass of Death Eaters on the other side of the house.
His people were about to walk into another group of Death Eaters.
Harry snarled and pointed his Broom at the new group, arrowing toward them at speeds no lesser Broomstick could hope to match.
Hermione and Pansy were watching him even as Miranda kept them moving. "What is he doing?" asked Hermione as Harry left the flying Death Eaters behind. Miranda looked up and then at the house ahead of them.
She hissed and pulled them to a stop. "Mr. Lupin," she called, pointing at Harry when Remus looked at her. Remus looked up and then ahead.
Remus swore under his breath as he figured out that they were well and truly mousetrapped. Death Eaters to the front and rear, and even some in the sky. He gathered his people and they formed a circle, everyone facing out. They were preparing to fight when Harry disappeared behind the house.
Harry came shooting back over the top of the house an instant later with spells following him. He cut back toward the group, flying as fast as he could go, not even looking back.
He shot over the Order people and as he did the house exploded with an impossibly loud roar. The blast wave hit them a second later throwing everyone except Miranda to the ground. Remus picked himself up and looked toward the house.
Rather, where the house had been. There were bits of it here and there, and more bits falling out of the sky along with other things. It wasn't until the burnt upper half of a man dressed in Death Eaters robes landed nearby that Remus figured out what those other bits were.
Harry pulled up and hovered in front of the Death Eaters that had been chasing his people. He looked at them, searching for Voldemort.
"You people have made a mistake." Harry's voice was faintly amused and his eyes were burning with a light most of these people had seen before.
Bellatrix's eyes had looked like that before she went off to do something to someone. More than one Death Eater had a sudden chill.
One of them cast a rotting curse at Harry who avoided it easily. "You should have thought about this before you came to me. You're in the wards. You cannot Portkey out, you cannot Apparate out, you can't escape." Harry smiled at them benignly. "I know what you're thinking. There's a lot of us and only one of him."
"The only problem with that is that you can't kill me. Only your master can do that and he's not here." Harry grinned at the frozen Death Eaters. "I bet I can kill you, though."
Harry pointed his wand at one of them and before the startled man could move Harry used a cutting curse to send his head spinning.
The body fell and Harry looked at the rest of them. "Yes, I can kill you."
The Death Eaters knew about the Prophecy, just as everyone else did, but this was the first time any of them had been confronted by Harry Potter and had it driven home. Several of the ones in the back were easing back further.
Harry suddenly disappeared and they all jumped. "Apparation is impossible, he must be disillusioned," one of them said.
One of the Death Eaters in the back made a gurgling sound and they all turned to stare at him. Harry stood behind him, smiling at them in a way that they had thought gone with Bella. "Not true." The Death Eater fell over, trying vainly to keep his entrails from falling out of the large hole in his abdomen.
Harry disappeared again and this time they heard the cutting spell come from behind them. They spun around again, to see one of theirs fall to the ground in two pieces. Harry disappeared again even as they turned.
"Wards only keep you from Apparating out, not from Apparating within the wards."
They turned again, to see Harry standing next to a Death Eater. "Reducto" Harry said and the front of the Death Eater head blew off, covering his mates with blood and denser matter from inside his skull. Harry disappeared again.
The Death Eater morale broke completely at that point. First one and then all of them were running from the smiling madman.
The madman didn't stop though. He would appear and another head would explode or some other equally gruesome death would happen to the person Harry chose as his target. The Death Eater ran from from the smiling man, fighting to keep as many of their fellows between him and them selves as they could.
Several of them were tripped up, either physically or magically, by their own companions and Harry obligingly killed anyone who fell behind. That only spurred them to greater efforts to keep him away. Within seconds, the ones at the back of the mob were cursing the ones in front of them, leaping over them as they fell, panic rising higher and higher.
Harry giggled as he pushed on them, stopping to kill another one. He couldn't let up for a second. He'd found out a few weeks ago that he could make people feel what he felt, he'd used it once to let his people know how he felt about them.
Now, he was using it to send his fear for Hermione and Pansy into the Death Eaters, making them feel the panic he felt at the thought of losing either of the girls. As they fell under that fear and they became afraid of him, he used that, increasing and doubling their own fear, pushing it higher and higher.
The Death Eaters were beyond casting spells now, some of them just curling up on the ground and weeping or simply closing their eyes and waiting to die, fear overcoming even survival instincts.
Harry gave them their wish, not even breaking stride as he followed the ones still capable on moving.
He blasted quivering lumps, removed heads and insured that no one that he caught up with would ever threaten any of his people again.
As their numbers fell and the fear grew, one of the Death Eaters suddenly stopped, grabbing his chest. He fell over and the cutting curse that cut his chest open to the spine was unneeded.
He had literally died of fright.
By the time they reached the edge of the wards, there were just four Death Eaters still moving away from the nightmare behind them.
The first one to reach the edge of the wards tried to Apparate out, but his concentration failed as Harry pushed the fear up another notch and he Splinched himself, leaving a leg and an arm behind as he disappeared.
Another one was caught by Harry's "Concussio" spell. The last two were nearly mindless with the fear they felt and Harry stopped, pouring all his power into the fear.
The two Death Eaters that he targeted stopped, and fell to the ground. Harry came up and stood over them, looking at them. Both of them had the same blank look and Harry nudged one with his foot. The man didn't react and Harry squatted down, checking his eyes.
The former Death Eater just stared blankly at nothing, no matter what Harry did. Harry put him on top of the other man and searched them for the Portkey every Death Eater carried. Since each Portkey could only be triggered by the wand of the person they were made for, the Auror and Harry's People couldn't use them to back track the Death Eaters. They might be able to catch a Death Eater and force him to Portkey with his wand, but each Portkey would only take two people. Since one of them had to be the Death Eater it was made for, that would mean sending one person into a Death Eater stronghold alone.
He found it and set it on the two mindless men. He used the Death Eater's wand to trigger it and smiled coldly as they disappeared in a flash. Let Voldemort think about that for a while.
Harry's a little upset right now and you may note that he's pushing a bit harder than before. With Voldemort running out of time and Harry willing to meet him halfway... I think this war is going to end soon... one way or another.