A/N: Hey everybody. I'm putting together a sequel to Resistance of Azkaban, set directly after the epilogue. A lot of people wanted me to explain what happens with the Ministry and the Daily Prophet and the public and all that, so this should clear it up. It won't be a long story, although I expect it might reach 100k if I'm not careful. I'll be working on this alongside the Denarian Knight, so updates will be sporadic.
I will be updating this on a site called PatronusCharm(dot)net before Fanfiction from this chapter onwards, and it will be the same with The Denarian Knight as soon as I finishing uploading it there. They'll have the chapters about a day before will in a shameless attempt to draw some attention to the newly designed site.
Location: Bastion #3, Ireland
When Auror Aide Fraser glanced out of the crumbling stone window and into the night sky, it was hard to believe that such beauty could exist on a horrible and trying day such as this. The twinkling stars in the remote Ireland plains seemed oblivious to the suffering and upheaval that those loyal to the Dark Lord of the Isles had faced today. Never in a million years could Fraser have believed that the Order would prevail, but they had.
The Dark Lord was dead.
Fraser shuddered as an icy breeze struck his face and tore his gaze from the window. He straightened his Auror robes, absently smoothing out the creases and wrinkles in the versatile blue robes. His hand brushed the insignia on his breast, a silver dark mark silently staring with an almost-imperious look in its skeletal face. As usual, it was warm to the touch and some part of Fraser was immensely relieved at that.
"Where's that damn tea!" Somebody roared and Fraser let out a silent sight, before masking his face with a carefully schooled expression.
He lifted up a silver tray with his wand, levitating it in a manner that suggested either great skill or great practice, and brought it over to the other side of the study. Large bookcases loomed on either side of him, although they were covered in dust and devoid of any books. Fraser dropped the tray on the faded wooden desk and stood back as the man sitting behind it glanced away from a handheld mirror
"Your tea, sir," Fraser said politely.
Commander-Auror Walmak picked up his tea with his left hand while keeping the mirror straight in his right. He was an aging man, with hair long gone white and a stooped back. Nonetheless, his blue eyes spoke of a hardness that men twice his junior didn't posses and his posture radiated a sense of aged strength and the expectation that he would receive the respect that he so deserved.
Fraser could see that the mirror in his hand was smoky, with a faint outline in the background, and remained still as he strained with all his might to hear the conversation that was taking place.
"….recalled all of loyal forces we could before the Order sent out the dismissals," the man in the mirror was saying. Fraser could recognise the voice of Commander-Auror Gilate, one of the eight Auror's Commanders selected by the Dark Lord himself.
"What do we have at our disposal?" Commander Walmak asked, taking a sip of his tea between breaths.
"Including your own, there are four bastions of loyal Aurors varying in size and strength," Gilate answered, his voice wavering as the mirror went fuzzy for a moment. "As you can tell, the bastions are old but they'll serve their purpose. I have forty-six men at my disposal deployed in Bastion #1, all armed with wand and armour. Bastion #2 is the smallest with seventeen, but they can hold their position for months with the way their fortifications have been set out. Bastion #4 has the largest amount of men, an entire Auror squadron of eight-seven, including support personal, but they have limited supplies. We're hoping to remedy that soon. What's the status on Bastion #3?"
"Well, the place is a heap," Walmak said wryly and Gilate chuckled. "But it'll do. I have thirty-two men securing the perimeter now. We're setting up temporary wards and laying some curse-traps at key points. We have enough supplies to last us two weeks, at least, and by then, this could all be over."
"Let's hope so," Gilate said softly and Walmak looked grave. "As I was saying, you need to hold your position for as long as you can. The other three bastions can hold off a siege for quite some time, but if you're overrun, then you leave us vulnerable. We're also cut off from communication- the wards interfere with pretty much everything. I had to lower mine just to speak to you. It's likely that any retreating forces that are still loyal to the cause will contact you first."
"We'll direct any of them to the nearest safe-house or bastion," Walmak said and yawned. He rubbed his eyes tiredly and took a gulp of his tea. "We could be in this for the long run, Gilate."
"I know," Gilate's voice said grimly. "But what else can we do? I refuse to surrender- I will not bow down to the Order after twenty years of fighting them."
All the while, Auror-Aide Fraser listened to the conversation with growing dread as the two Commanders began to discuss and plan for a long-term guerrilla war with the Order of Phoenix. No, this couldn't happen, not at this very moment, not when he family needed him most.
Location: International Confederation of Wizards, Mediterranean Sea
"I fail to understand what the problem is," the newly appointed Ambassador for Britain, Gabrielle Delacour, replied crisply. She idly flicked her luminous silver-blonde hair over her shoulder and stared at the Bulgarian and Italian Ambassadors with a carefully schooled expression, not revealing an iota of what truly felt for them
"The problem, Ms Delacour," The Bulgarian Ambassador, a porky man with meaty hands and shrewd dark eyes, started. "Is that your country signed a contracted trade agreement."
"This contract was signed by the former regime," Gabrielle said briskly, her cerulean eyes flickering with annoyance. "This is exactly why I wish to review it."
"A regime that may yet still take back power," the Italian Ambassador remarked airily. He was a tall thin man with dark hair, charismatic brown eyes and white teeth that contrasted greatly with his tanned skin. "Aren't you being a little hasty here?"
"No," Gabrielle answered flatly.
She let her eyes wander around the vast chambers of the International Confederation of Wizards, the largest magical embassy and ambassadorial organisation in the world. Dozens of Ambassadors from the many different magical societies from across the globe stared down at from the large circular benches and desks spread out across the room. All were paying close attention to her, although Gabrielle didn't blame them. Harry Potter, one of the world's most powerful wizards who commanded fear or respect, depending on where you were, had personally appointed her ambassador a little over half-an-hour ago right after declaring that he had vanquished one of the most feared Dark Lord's of all time beforehand.
It was enough to capture anybody's lasting attention.
"What you propose will cost the Bulgarian Ministry tens of thousands of galleons, and that's just the short term effect," the Bulgarian Ambassador said loudly, his beady eyes glaring down at her. Gabrielle stared back, smiling primly. "The contract specifically mentions that large-scale trading will incur no tariff costs!"
"I'm going to be honest with you, Mr Ambassador," Gabrielle said, and her polite smile vanished. "I don't care about your money. Mark my words, the contracts will be reviewed today. If you don't like the later versions, than feel free to back out of our trade agreement. There are plenty of other nations who would agree to our lenient terms."
"Is that a threat, Miss Ambassador?" The Bulgarian Ambassador asked softly, a distinctly cold edge in his voice.
"Merely a fact," Gabrielle said, smiling sweetly. She smoothed down her robes with her pale hands and glanced around the assembly. "But I will state another fact. Britain has just come out of a bloody civil war. This is much damage to be fixed and frankly, we cannot afford to allow you to send in goods that the British Ministry will not see profit from unless you agree to pay tariffs on them. If you do not, then we will refuse to accept anymore of your trade."
The Bulgarian Ambassador was breathing heavily but said nothing as he leant back in his seat, absently taking out a silk handkerchief and wiping his sweaty forehead with it. A loud crack filled the room and the quavering voice of the Supreme Mugwump spoke up.
"Very well. We will adjourn for…ah…half an hour," the ancient wizard said wearily. He looked exhausted and was visibly panting as he leant back in his seat, the effort of speaking evidentially taking a toll on his frail body.
Gabrielle nodded and busied herself with a stack of parchment on the desk in front of her as the assembly burst out into soft mutters and chatter. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed the Bulgarian and Italian Ambassadors speaking to each other quietly and suppressed and un-ladylike snort.
However, her curiosity peaked as another ambassador, a blonde-haired man with sharp eyes and aristocratic features, casually moved over to speak with them. She continued to busy herself with the scrolls as the three ambassadors began to argue over something. A diplomatic privacy spell had obviously been placed around them for she could hear nothing. With a frown, Gabrielle packed up the last of her scrolls and left the room. Italy and Bulgaria uniting was to be expected, but what did Germany have to do with anything?
Location: Forbidden Forest, North Scotland
"Has it been done?" A dark-cloaked figure rasped coldly. His grey eyes were akin to ice and utterly remorseful as he stepped over a corpse, whose face stretched up in agony. The rest of the man's face was covered by an ornate silver mask and he held his wand as if he was extremely confident in his ability to use it.
"Yes sir," the other man said, a touch of nervousness in his voice. However, he too was dressed in the garb of the Death Eater and his face remained hidden by a plainer white mask. He held a wand aloft in his hand, the tip blazing with a luminous yellow light. "All those who strayed from the path have been taken care of."
"And this is all of them?" The first Death Eater asked, gesturing with a gloved hand to a pile of bloodied and muddied bodies in front of him. The trees of the forbidden forest seemed to sway with pleasure as an icy wind howled from afar. Large clouds blotted out the night skies, casting an shadowy gloom.
"Yes, Captain Tavish," the other Death Eater answered dutifully. "The rest of the Aurors will cooperate with us."
"Are my orders being taken care of?" Tavish asked lazily, idly flicking his wand. The ground shuddered and a large scoop of dirt was gouged out, creating a small pit. With each flick of his wand, the hole grew larger and larger.
"Yes, Captain," he replied stiffly. "I have men taking an inventory of weapons and supplies as we speak. You will receive a report on that within fifteen minutes. Alexander is taking a squad to see what we can do about our wards. The permanent wards were greatly weakened by the attack two days ago."
He remained motionless as his Captain nodded thoughtfully, carelessly banished the dead bodies, about seventeen in total, into the hole. His superior performed the task without any display of emotion and collapsed the dirt back into the hole, leaving only a small mound of dirt to signify the death of eighteen treasonous Aurors.
"Snape's death couldn't have come at a worse time," Tavish muttered, although he showed no regret, no anger and no glee at the former Headmaster's death. "How are we for intelligence?"
"We are still trying to contact some of our deep cover spies," The Death Eater reported and paused. "However, our usual methods of communication have been cut off. The homing spells for our owls will not work without the Ministry grid and the Floo is down. Any attempt to use a Portkey or Apparition will leave us susceptible to Ministry tracking devices. From what we can tell, there may be some scattered remnants of loyal Auror forces down south, but we don't know exactly where. "
"I see," Tavish said thoughtfully. He was silent for a few moments. "Was there something else?"
"Yes, sir," the Death Eater murmured. "It appears that one of our own managed to escape the Order Agents at the Ministry and secure her escape. She would like to meet with you."
"Bring her forward then," Tavish said after a moment's pause, his hand idly caressing the side of his wand. The other Death Eater nodded and turned around, disappearing into the darkness.
A moment later, there was a rustling in the trees as another Death Eater moved into sight and approached Tavish. The Death Eater was clearly female, her robes singed and cut from a recent battle. Despite her limp, her posture was proud yet submissive as she approached Tavish and bowed, her eyes glittering behind her mask.
"Captain Tavish," the female murmured softly.
"I am surprised to see you are still alive," Tavish said slowly, appraising the female Death Eater carefully. "All reports indicate that the Dark Lord's elite suffered severe losses when the Order of Phoenix attacked the Ministry."
"There were some survivors," the women said and paused. "Those who were more capable were able to avoid capture when those traitorous Aurors abandoned the cause. There were four of us who tried to escape the Ministry, Harry Potter killed the first two and I summarily executed the third for cowardice in the face of the enemy."
"I see you deserve your reputation," Tavish said and regarded the women carefully. She was quiet as he observed her, his mind coldly calculating the potential threat of this new development. He seemed to reach a decision and nodded slowly. "Welcome back."
"Thankyou, sir," the women said quietly, her mask doing very little to hide the pain in her voice. Tavish assessed her again, noting a vicious cut in her leg and a burn on the side of her face.
"We have medical provisions available to you," he said softly. "There will be security procedures that you will have to go through, but given your past reputation, I believe I can trust you. In fact, I believe that you might be the right person for me to bring in on something very important, if you are, of course, willing."
"Yes, sir," the woman responded automatically.
"For the past three months, I have been involved in an investigation of the Death Eaters themselves," Tavish said and eyed the women critically. "For some time, the Dark Lord had been convinced that there was a spy amongst us."
"A spy, sir?" The women breathed in horror, and her eyes were aghast behind her mask. "But we are Death Eaters, his Elite! We are his most loyal!"
"Nonetheless," Tavish said calmly. "The only way Potter could have managed his takeover was if a high-ranking member of the Ministry assisted him. I have documents that show that critical information was taken by a Death Eater- information that was later used by the Order to invade the Ministry."
"Do we know who?" The woman asked, her eyes narrowed in anger and revulsion.
"Unfortunately, no," Tavish said. His face revealed no anger or disappointment at that fact- it was as if he were incapable of feeling any emotion. "My investigations were interrupted in the wake of the Dark Lord's defeat."
"Could they be here?"
"I have nineteen Death Eaters accompanying me at the present moment, twenty, including you," Tavish said and motioned for the woman to follow him. She did, limping behind him as he continued to talk. "There was also seventy-five Aurors that had been stationed here, although I had to execute seventeen treasonous wizards who refused to fight."
"Morale is low then?" The woman asked, wincing as she stumbled in the dark, her bad leg striking a tree trunk.
"We don't need morale," Tavish said dismissively. The two Death Eaters moved out of the gloomy forest and stepped out into clear ground. In front of him loomed the giant castle of Hogwarts, twinkling brightly in the dark night. "We have fortifications, we have supplies and we have able bodies. We also have the children of the most powerful and influential families of the Ministry under our control. We will prevail here."
"Yes, sir," Linden Avery said absently, her mask hiding the slow smile that crossed her face as she gazed up at Hogwarts. "Of course we will."
Location: Department of Mysteries, Level B-5, Ministry of Magic, London
"Hurry up!" Abel Davis hollered loudly, his bushy beard bristling as he urged the few remaining Unspeakables to levitate the crates forward. "We will need these if we are to retake the Ministry in the name of the Dark Lord!"
"Yes, sir!" A pair of Unspeakables shouted crisply and levitated another crate from the small, dusty supply room and practically sprinted out the door.
Abel watched them go with narrowed eyes, his lips working silently as he swung his wand in a series of complicated motions. Invisible waves of magic were drifting in the air, causing the hairs on his arms to stand up as he directed another stack of artefacts and objects into a conjured crate and sealed it.
It was seemed like it was only yesterday that he, as Head of the Department of Mysteries, was sitting down and dining with the Dark Lord as he talked about weapon research and intricacies of magic that was lost on most members of the table. But now all that had changed. The Dark Lord had been murdered, struck down by Harry Potter himself, and deepest parts of the Ministry were under attack by agents of the Order of Phoenix. It would only be a matter of time before they broke through the last of the defences and Abel refused to let them take the magical items that he had so diligently pored over for a good part of his life.
"You seem stressed," came a soft, husky voice and Abel spun around, his wand flying up and a powerful curse on the tip of his tongue. The woman he faced merely cocked an amused eyebrow and Abel sighed, lowering his wand and glared at her.
"The Dark Lord is dead, the Ministry is falling and the Order of Phoenix is only minutes behind us," he hissed softly, absently stepping to the side as the two Unspeakables returned to levitate another stack of crates away. "I would expect you to be a little stressed as well, Miss Ackart."
"Now, Abel," the dark-haired women purred, her sensuous green eye eyeing him languidly. She brushed his arm in a flirtatious manner. "We're fucking each other. You can call me Ursula."
"Did you get it?" Abel snapped sharply, shrugging off the beautiful woman's attentions and focussing on the small footlocker in her hands. "Is that all of them?"
"Yes, it is," Ursula said and eyed the box with nothing short of longing. She stroked the sides of it, her eyes distant and lost in thought. "We are so close, Abel, so very close. Once we master this, nothing can stop us, not even Harry Potter!"
"Until we do, we must flee," Abel said and stepped outside of the room and into a hallway. "We need to take as much as we can, consolidate our forces and attack when we have the capacity."
Doors leading to supply rooms were thrown open and wizards and witches bustled as they carted away as much as they could. At the other end of the hallway, six wizards chanted as they flicked their wands at a solid steel door, which was literally glowing with heat as the Order Agents on the othersider tried to break it open.
"That is a mistake, Abel," Ursula said sharply. Abel ignored her as he strode through the hallway, ducking and weaving through bustling wizards and floating crates. Ursula grimaced but managed to follow him through the crowd until they both came to a large room, where green fires flared in the fireplace and Unspeakables sent their packages through a secure Floo network. "We need to attack now and throw them off balance! What you are proposing is exactly what the Order of Phoenix did the first time they lost. Do you want to spend the next twenty years running and hiding?"
"I have given my orders and they are final!" Abel growled and glared at her with anger in his eyes. Ursula hesitated for a second and then nodded stiffly.
Abel's face softened as he took in his lover's mood and he ducked his head to kiss Ursula. It was a passionate kiss, the kind that the most intimate of lovers would share, and both Abel and Ursula were panting when they withdrew from each other, lust enflaming their eyes.
"We need to be patient," Abel said softly. "The Dark Lord has fallen but he will rise again."
Here he turned to the latest object that his men were extracting a large tank of glowing green water. Deep in the depths of the tank, humanoid creatures languidly swam, looking much like babies except for the assortment of spikes, claws, snake-tongues and glowing crimson eyes.
"But first," Abel continued. "We must help him rise once more so that he can lead us to victory."
"I…" Ursula started before the ground shuddered and a loud explosion rocked the room. Dust flittered from the ceiling and the stone walls shuddered and creaked as Abel, Ursular and several others were knocked off their feet.
The door down the hallway had exploded and brown-robed Order Agents were swarming forward, their wands flicking and swishing as a rather one-sided battle was waged. Streaks of light blasted through the air, striking down Unspeakable after Unspeakable. Several of the Order Agents went down as the Unspeakables retaliated, beginning a quick retreat, but they were quickly overwhelmed the hardened mudbloods veterans. Smoke filled the air as men and women screamed in the midst of battle.
"Quick, back to the floo, now!" Abel shouted loudly, his wand swishing through the air as he jumped back up.
A flash of silver light blasted forward and struck one of the approaching Order Agents, sending him falling to the ground. An instant later, the glowing green of the Killing Curse lanced forward and struck a nearby Unspeakable, who collapsed, his face wearing a mask of horror and surprise.
As Abel dragged Ursula to the nearby Floo, his face contorted with hatred as he watched the last remaining sanctuary in the Department of Mysteries being overrun by filth. He had evacuated enough supplies and artefacts to aid their cause, and if Ursula could tame the weapon, then it would only be a matter of time before the Order was crushed.
Location: Conference Room, Level One, Ministry of Magic, London
Harry Potter sat in the comfortable unicorn-hair stuffed chair and frowned as he read from one of the many scrolls that lay in front of him. His black robes were still scorched, torn and bloodied from the final battle against Voldemort which had occurred no less than three hours ago. The forty-four year old wizard sighed wearily under his breath and rubbed his eyes. Despite his tiredness, his eyes were alert as ever and he glanced up to observe his two most trusted subordinates.
"What's the progress downstairs?" he asked quietly, his eyes sweeping over the large room. A long, polished-oak table stretched out before him and a fireplace crackled with a soft flame in the corner, illuminating the room quite easily. The carpets were undoubtedly very expensive and there was a small rack of port and firewhiskey that was worth more than the bounty that had been on his head.
"The Azkaban Guard are breaking through the last of the fortifications," Ron Weasley answered. His face was scarred and weathered but he stood strong as Harry's second in command. He glanced down at one of his scrolls and scratched his head. "Um…we think that there are at least three different groups of Aurors still loyal to Voldemort forming somewhere in Ireland or Wales. We have scouts out now, following some of the stragglers, and we've raided the records office to see if we're their likely to go. If they have a base out there, we'll find it."
"What about Hogwarts?" Harry asked softly.
"The last of the Death Eaters are there," Hermione answered from the other side of her husband. She browed through her notes and pursed her lips in thought. "At least fifteen of them, probably more. There's also an Auror regiment stationed there- they were probably sent there when we created the diversion for our attack yesterday."
"Can they be reasoned with?" Harry asked, although he already knew the answer to the question and wasn't surprised at all when Ron shook his head.
"These are die-hard fanatics," he said bluntly. "What's worse, the people we sent to watch Hogwarts have reported that they are digging in for a long and bloody siege. If we don't attack them in the next few hours, they'll be able to hold us off for weeks, months even, and we'll lose four times as many people. They also have control of the students."
"Hostages?" Harry queried calmly.
"Perhaps," Hermione said and shrugged loosely. "We don't know yet. I'm more worried about the unrest on the streets. We have protests forming on Diagon Alley, both for and against us. A tiny spark would set the whole thing on fire and we could have some serious riots."
"We can't afford riots," Harry said slowly, his mind whirling with thought. "We don't have the manpower to keep them in check."
"Then what do you want us to do?" Ron asked quietly. Harry frowned and remained silent. He took a sip of Firewhiskey and almost sighed as the magically-enhanced alcohol warmed his insides and sent a wave of vigour rushing through him.
"From what I've seen, we have five major problems facing us at the moment," Harry said slowly. "There are Aurors still loyal to Voldemort that might be gathering for a counterattack and we don't know where."
"We'll know soon," Ron promised.
"There are Death Eaters commanding an Auror Regiment from Hogwarts and they could have potential hostages," Harry continued and paused. "Ron, I want you to lead four squadrons of the Guard and take up positions in Hogsmeade. Keep an eye on the situation and send me a portkey-missive if anything happens."
"We can't take Hogwarts with only four squadrons," the grizzled redhead said quietly, observing rather than objecting.
"I have somebody on the inside that will be able to help us," Harry explained and Ron frowned, before comprehension gleamed in his eyes and he nodded.
"Good," Harry said with a sigh and turned to Hermione, who straightened and looked at him expectantly. "I want you to take four squadrons of the Guard and reinforce Diagon Alley. They're to subdue anybody who begins to behave violently and keep the peace. We can't stop the protests yet, but we can at least monitor it."
"Alright," Hermione acknowledged quietly.
"Make no mistake," Harry said grimly. "These problems need to be resolved as quickly as possible, preferably before the Daily Prophet comes out tomorrow morning. The next few hours will be crucial for Britain, and for the Order. If we fail here, we go back to war."
"We'll do our best, Harry," Ron said quietly.
"I know you will," Harry said and a smile softened his hard features. He sighed and took another sip of his firewhiskey. "While you're doing that, I'm going to take a look at the situation downstairs. I saw a lot of dangerous artefacts in the Department of Mysteries while I was duelling Voldemort, and I want to know if the Unspeakables have managed to seize any of it when they escaped."
He stood up and nodded at Ron and Hermione as they left the room. Once they were gone, and the door had shut with a soft click, he visible sagged and winced as he clutched his leg. The duel with Voldemort had strained his already-damaged leg. With a last glance at his scrolls, Harry Potter walked from the conference room with determination blazing in his mind.
He would not fail today- he could not fail. The fate of the Order of Phoenix, the Ministry of Magic and the Wizarding World of Britain as a whole was at stake, and failure meant destruction for them all.