"This is my fault." George muttered.
"Sort of." Percy agreed, touching the bandage over his eye, "But I should have told you no."
"I wouldn't have listened; I never listen to you." George said with a hint of bitterness, "I wish they never would have taken me away from Fred; what are we going to tell him or Ginny, or tell Ron?"
"I suppose hello would be first… then we'll have to tell them that… Charlie and Mum are gone." Percy said, "Perhaps Dad will be alright by then."
George looked over to where Arthur lay in the grass; the Muggles had put them all out to move the bodies, and Arthur still hadn't recovered, "I hope he wakes up soon."
"Me too." Percy whispered.
"Percy?" George asked.
"Do you think Dad even notices that Charlie's dead?" George muttered, frowning harshly at the ground.
"Charlie's been gone for a long time, George; he saw what was coming and just... cleared out." Percy said quietly.
"Yeah, he is." Percy said, "He didn't have to see Dad like this."
"I should be with Fred; I want to be with him."
"You will be." Percy said, "I swear."
"This is a bad idea." Ron said.
"Absolutely." Harry replied as they watched the Muggle walk past them cautiously, "The worst."
"NOW!" Harry shouted, leaping forward onto the Muggle and holding her down as she reached for her gun, "Get a rock, Ron!"
As Ron searched for something to knock the Muggle unconscious, Goyle ran into the laboratory with Draco behind him, "We're going to get ourselves killed." The blonde growled.
"Is that any worse than staying here forever?" Goyle said, landing a heavy punch to a weak-looking Muggle scientist.
Draco ducked beneath a tranquilizer dart just as Ron and Harry burst into the lab as well, "Bloody hell look at this place!" Ron exclaimed.
"Quick Draco, let your father out!" Harry called, tossing him the ring of keys they had lifted from the dispatched Muggle in the exhibit.
Draco nodded and followed the strange signs until he saw one clearly marked with the number one; he fumbled with the stolen keys and managed the right one after a few tries. He pulled the heavy door open and stumbled forward into the exhibit; Lucius was at his throat in a second, nearly lifting him from the ground before recognizing the boy, "Father." Draco choked out, "It's me!"
Lucius let go instantly and moved past Draco, rushing inside and pulling the Muggle off of Ron; Lucius snapped the man's neck and dropped his body onto the floor. Two more Muggles were approaching the group and Lucius prepared to fight, interrupted by a loud shouting, "Waddiwasi!"
The Muggles stumbled back as a fleet of gurneys levitated between them and the escapees; three wizards stepped into the laboratory, led by Cornelius Fudge, "We seem to be missing a few things, gentlemen; I believe you have them." He said, crossing his arms.
"The agreement was for half a dozen Wizards in exchange for the extermination of Voldemort; you've killed at least that many and imprisoned countless others!"
"A deal?" Snape asked.
"Only for those suspected to support Lord Voldemort; that was the deal and therefore-" Fudge began.
"You gave us over willingly because we were suspected?!" Lucius demanded, "MY WIFE DIED BECAUSE YOU SUSPECTED!?"
Draco collapsed against Goyle as his father's words echoed through the small room; Goyle whispered words of comfort to the blonde boy, holding him steady. Fudge was quiet for a moment before he turned to the group of Muggles and continued, "We will be returning to London with our people, and the ministry will gather all of its employees to perform the necessary memory spells."
"Mr. Fudge." The owner growled, standing, "We did what you asked; we destroyed your 'Dark Lord' and many of his followers; we kept up our end of the bargain. It's far too late to go back on yours now."
Fudge muttered to his associates as the Wizards and Witches who had up until now been treated like animals, shot each other worried glances. Arthur was the only one not moved by the happenings, and as the others muttered and whispered, he stood, "I will stay; I don't care what they do with me."
The zoo owner grinned and Cornelius Fudge nodded solemnly, "You may keep this man, but you will not parade him around in public. Whatever you do with him, it is to be secret; if you fail to keep your side of the deal again, you will not get another chance."
"I will-" Lucius started, standing as well.
Cornelius Fudge raised a hand to silence the man, "They will only have one wizard, and Arthur has volunteered; sit down, Mr. Malfoy."
"Sit down, Lucius. Are you certain about this, Arthur?" Fudge asked.
Percy stood and shook his head, "Dad you can't do this! Let them keep Lucius instead; you're a good man."
Arthur ignored his son as if he was simply not there, "I have nothing left."
The Muggle zoo owner nodded, seeing his chance to end things smoothly, "We will fly the remainder of your... people home to London tomorrow; I insist upon putting them up somewhere nice for the night."
"Very well." Cornelius Fudge said, standing grandly, "Ladies and gentlemen, your wands will be replaced upon your arrival in London. We will discuss matters further once you arrive safely at the Ministry."
"Mr. Weasley if you'll just come with us." One of the Muggle doctors said, extending an arm.
Arthur nodded stiffly, ignoring his outraged children save for Ginny, whom he gave a firm pat on the shoulder as he passed, disappearing back into the laboratory.
"We're just gonna leave him." Ron said.
"He wanted to stay... he wouldn't even look at us and besides," Percy said, "We'll get him back... we need to get home first. There's nothing we can do without magic."
"Of course not." George said bitterly as he stood, "I don't know if I can tie my shoes in the morning without my precious wand!"
The other Weasley children flinched as George slammed the door open and stalked out, Fred on his heels, "George what are you on about?" he asked as the door shut behind them.
George shook his head and crossed his arms, looking down both ends of the long hallway before speaking, "We might as well just go back to that zoo, Fred; we're nothing but animals without our all-powerful magic."
"You're wrong, George; we're more human than those... things that put us there in the first place, and-"
"IT WAS THE MINISTRY THAT PUT US THERE!" George shouted, "Can't you see, Fred!? We were sacrificed!"
"The Ministry came and got us, George; we'd still be there if they hadn't, and you know that." Fred argued, "Let's go back-"
"I'm not going back in there." George said, falling silent as Ginny left the room and walked past them, "Where are you going?" he barked at her.
Ginny scowled at each twin in turn before hurrying off down the hallway and opening another door, "I hate to be a pessimist." Fred muttered, "But it appears that our little Weasley clan is falling apart."
"Let's go for a walk." George said, walking down the hallway towards the glowing exit sign with Fred at his side.
Neville looked up as the door to his hotel room beeped quietly and opened; Ginny stepped in with a smile, "I'm here."
Neville turned and walked towards the bed to fetch his shirt; he jumped when she wrapped her arms around his waist and laid her head against his back, "Ginny."
Ginny let go as he turned around to face her, "What is it?" she asked.
Neville hurriedly pulled his sweater over his head and walked to the door; he opened it slowly, "Go back to your room, Ginny; you should be with your family."
"I don't want to be with them."
Neville let the door slam, lowering his voice to a whisper, "Your mother died, Ginny; your father isn't coming home! Why would you want to be in here with me when your family is somewhere else?!"
Ginny frowned, "Neville you're my family."
"Do you have any idea how they're all going to look at me when they find out?! I'm going to be a predator! I'm going to be the horrible boy who did this to you!"
Ginny smiled painfully and stepped toward him, wrapping her arms around his neck, "I couldn't go back, Neville; I hated being treated like a boy. I want to be taken care of and... you can do that; I knew you could ever since-"
"Ever since what?" Neville interrupted, "You were... using me?"
"Neville." Ginny said.
Neville walked to the door and yanked it open once again, staring at the floor in a struggle to avoid being intimidated, "I won't be used."
"It must be nice..." Ginny said, moving around him and shutting the door, leaning back against it, "I couldn't say no when someone used me; I guess maybe I didn't make it out of the Chamber of Secrets as normal as everyone thinks and maybe I'm just a little loony."
"I need you." Ginny whispered with a dull smile, pulling gently at the neck of his sweater.
Neville hesitated for a brief moment before pulling his sweater off and dropping it on the floor; Ginny leaned up and kissed him, ending their half-hearted argument.
"I can't see why they didn't give us our own rooms." Tonks said apologetically, "I guess they didn't want to pay for more."
Snape's normal reaction would have been a roll of his eyes, but he forced that away and gave Tonks a thin and pathetic attempt at a smile, "I suppose not."
Snape walked to the window and pushed the curtains aside slightly to stare outside, to look anywhere but at her, "Severus?" she asked in a tone of voice that made him cringe, made him want to snap at her and force her to be silent.
"What will you do when we get back?" she asked, feigning nonchalance.
"I will return to Hogwarts and join the faculty in selecting a new Headmaster and Deputy Headmaster." Snape said, "I will do my job."
"Forgetting all about me, I suppose."
"What do you expect me to do?" Snape asked, keeping his tone cold.
"I expect you to stop pretending that nothing happened. I kissed you, and Severus: you kissed me back!" she cried.
The words stung Snape, and it wasn't her anger, or the way she used his name as if scolding a child; it was the fact that she was right, and he couldn't deny it. Still, as long as there was any fight left in him, he would try, "That was then, Nymphadora; the past is nothing."
"No? This is coming from the man with the oldest grudge in the Wizarding World? Do you really regret what happened, Severus?"
Yes, a thousand times yes. Snape's mind told him to say, but he knew that if given the chance, he would repeat his actions again and again, "No I wouldn't say that."
"Because it's not true." Tonks said, "And you do like me, enough to kiss me back at least."
Snape's chest tightened but he nodded slowly, "Yes."
"Then I want to be with you."
"You are with-"
"I mean after all of this, Severus." Tonks interrupted, "I mean back in London, at Hogwarts! I don't want this to go away just because you're frightened." A moment of awkward silence prompted her to continue, "Promise me; swear to me that you won't do that. You won't abandon me just because you're afraid to open up. Make a vow."
"I'm not going to make an Unbreakable Vow over such a silly thing, and besides we haven't got our wands and no witness." Snape argued, crossing his arms.
"We don't need wands." Tonks said, walking over to the large desk at one side of the room and producing a letter opener, "We just need blood."
She dragged the dull blade against her palm and hissed quietly in pain as blood bubbled up from the shallow wound; she held the letter opener out to Snape, who looked mortified, "Have you lost your mind?"
Tonks waited silently until, after what must have been a violent inner-struggle, Snape grabbed the letter opener and sliced his palm open. Tonks reached and took his hand, pressing their palms together and mixing their blood, "Say it then."
Snape looked into her eyes for a moment before muttering, "I won't abandon you… for any reason."
Tonks forced a look of happy surprise from her face and leaned forward for another kiss, satisfied with his promise.
Snape stared out the window of the large Muggle flying contraption that he had come to loathe in only a very short while; Tonks was sitting in the seat beside him and grasped his bandaged hand with her own. Sirius and Lupin had been to busy mourning those lost and celebrating the final 'defeat' of the Muggles by the ministry to notice the new relationship; Snape was thankful for this if nothing else, for their teasing would make his promise a hard one to keep.
Neville Longbottom was sitting next to the Weasley girl looking fidgety and nervous. Snape could not stop a smirk as he imagined Neville falling through the air; the boy was so clumsy and bumbling he would probably open the wrong door and step out into the sky before even realizing his mistake. Ginny looked cross and was probably having the same thought as Snape that very moment. Snape had been deeply sorrowed by news of Narcissa's death, and imagined that Lucius would sit next to Draco to comfort the poor boy. Instead, Draco was sitting next to Gregory Goyle on the opposite side of the plane, tears flowing unchecked down his cheeks as his body shook with silent sobs; it only took Snape a second glance to see Draco grasping his friend's hand in a more than friendly matter.
What interested the Professor most, however, was the state of Harry Potter; he had remained brooding and silent, and had not spoken a word to either of his friends. Snape silently prayed that the Ministry would clear Sirius Black of his charges or overlook Lupin's condition lest they select Snape himself to be Harry's guardian. Not only did he not particularly enjoy the company of children, it would by far complicate his current situation with Tonks and only serve to turn Harry into a constant and sarcastic nuisance around Snape's living space. With such unpleasant thoughts in his head, and Tonks sleeping against his shoulder, Snape dozed off.
Sirius stirred as his head fell from the comfortable shoulder it had rested on and hit the plane seat when Lupin stood and muttered something about stretching his legs; he grunted a sleepy reply and rubbed the sleep from his eyes, glancing out the window. Sirius blinked as the brightness of the full moon met his eyes; it was hauntingly beautiful, and for a moment he allowed himself to forget what that truly meant. Panic seized his heart when that moment was over, and he looked instantly to Lupin, who was staring out one of the visible windows, his eyes glazed over and his mouth hanging open. Sirius was at his side in a second, pressing his lips to his friend's ear and whispered with the utmost urgency, "Not here, old friend, you can't do this now; you have to fight it! Do you hear me, Remus?! We can't protect ourselves; you'll kill the children!"
Lupin closed his eyes and shook his head, "Can't." he muttered, hair starting to sprout on his face and spread down his neck.
"Remus, no." Sirius whispered, laying his hand on Lupin's shoulder as he turned around desperately, "SEVERUS!"
Snape jerked awake and was on his feet instantly, "What's the matter?"
Tonks grumbled sleepily beside him as she awoke with a yawn, "What's all the noise, then?"
Snape knew instantly what all the noise was; Remus had fallen against Sirius, and was gripping the man's arm with such fierceness that beads of blood had begun to slip down and gather at Sirius' elbow, "Get everyone to the back of the... the uh... plane." Snape said rushing to Lupin and Sirius, "Now!"
Tonks, whom had hesitated at his instructions, snapped back to attention and jumped up from her seat, "Come on kids you heard the man, back!" she announced loudly.
The children that had been in various states of sleep all woke with a jolt at the sounds of shouting and followed Tonks' instructions while Lucius and Percy climbed over the seats to join Snape, "There's absolutely nothing you can do with him?" Lucius growled, helping Sirius hold the rapidly changing werewolf against a wall of the plane.
"We could put him in the-" Percy started.
"Good idea!" Sirius interrupted, pulling open the nearest door and, with Lucius' help, shoving Lupin into the compartment without a glance and slamming the heavy door shut.
"I was going to say the loo." Percy said.
"Which is that door." Tonks added, pointing.
"Oh what does it-" Lucius was interrupted when the plane suddenly lurched forward.
Snape was thrown back against the wall, Tonks and Sirius falling against him with two loud unpleasant thuds while Percy and Lucius were tossed against the door behind which a newly transformed werewolf prowled, and not alone, "GET INTO SEATS!" Snape shouted over the array of dangerous sounds the plane was making.
The children only hesitated for half a second before they scattered into seats and began fumbling with the complicated Muggle seatbelts; the plane gave another lurch and went almost completely vertical. Viktor tumbled forward, Hermione grabbing his arm just as he flipped over the row of seats before them, "VIKTOR HOLD ON!" she screeched as his grip on her arm slipped. His hand left an ugly friction burn down the inside of her arm that instantly began to weep blood. The Bulgarian managed to retain his grip on her arm and shove himself back into a seat just long enough for Hermione to reach forward around the seat and secure the seatbelt around his waist, "Thank you." He called back to her.
Suddenly the seemingly solid door that both Lucius and Percy were laying on grew hot and began to lace with cracks, "I think we may have made a mistake." Percy whispered to Lucius as the door suddenly gave, the entire nose of the plane detaching itself.
A/N: Ok so I know you all think I want you to suffer by ending a story like this but in truth I don't. Also, just to clear things up: THERE WILL BE A SEQUEL. I've already began work on it and chapter 1 is two paragraphs long already. I'll be handwriting the remainder of Chapter 1 in Paris (Ah the romance). The sequel will be called The Island and it will be up as soon as I return from my vacation. I will either have chapter 1 up around March 12th or 13th, OR wait and put up a few chapters at once around the 20th. Until then I can't wait to get all your lovely reviews and PMs! I hope to see you all on The Island in a couple of weeks!