Title: All Problems Solved

Author: Ruskbyte

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. The characters of the Cenobites, the situations and mythology involving them were created by Clive Barker, Peter Atkins, Carl Dupre and Tim Day and the various other writers involved in the Hellraiser movies, including but not limited to New World Pictures and CineMarque Entertainments (USA) ltd. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Summary: The puzzle is complete and the doorway open once more. With his memory curiously and painfully blank, Draco must find the missing Boy-Who-Lived... because if his mistakes catch up with him, they will tear his soul apart.

Author's Note: Absolutely nothing to do with canon after fifth-year; so some people are alive and others are dead depending on my whim alone.

- Part Two -


Wherever there is hate, violence and depravity - a door will always be found.


Somewhere, somewhen

Pinhead stood, with grave majesty and immortal patience, waiting for Draco to speak. But the last of the Malfoy bloodline remained frozen in place. It was an instinctive reaction, that of an animal faced with a predator and growing still in the hopes that it might avoid detection.

"It would seem, Draco, that your search for answers is finally complete," prompted the demon after several minutes had passed in expectant silence.

"Who - who are you?" Draco finally managed to stutter.

"I have been given many names. Many titles," replied Pinhead. "None can describe me fully."

"What are you?" asked Draco.

"A seeker of experience. Pleasure. Pain. The limits of both."

"Why are you here? What do you want from me?" demanded Draco, his voice breaking towards the end.

"And still you do not understand," concluded Pinhead, a hint of disappointment flickering in his implacable black eyes. He turned away from Draco, presenting his profile to the frantic wizard. "Despite all our clues, all our hints," he continued, "you still do not remember. How disappointing."

"Please," Draco begged weakly. "Please, I didn't do anything. I didn't."

"Oh, but you did," Pinhead corrected. "Let me show you."


Late August, 2006

Malfoy Manor

"Would you like a drink, dear?" asked Pansy Malfoy, as she and Draco retired to their living room after finishing the sumptuous five-course meal Keebler had provided for dinner.

"Yeah," said Draco, the question having barely registered. He seldom bothered to pay any more attention to his wife than was absolutely necessary. Pansy's simpering manner had long since lost its appeal.

"Brandy?" asked Pansy, crossing to the drinks cabinet.

"Yeah," repeated Draco.

"You sound as though you really need it," observed Pansy as she placed a pair of tumblers on the counter and reached for the appropriate bottle.

"Potter," Draco grumbled by way of reply, sinking into his armchair and staring out the window opposite. He glared sourly into the night, his temperament dark enough to almost match the blackness outside. It had been a long and tedious day. Something that seemed all too frequent an occurrence.

Pansy poured a generous measure of liquor into both tumblers. Setting the bottle down, she glanced over her shoulder and confirmed that her husband was preoccupied. Making sure that her actions were concealed by her body, she withdrew a small crystal phial from where it was nestled in her cleavage. Carefully removing the cork, she dribbled its contents into the glass that she intended to give to Draco.

Returning the phial to its place between her breasts, Pansy dipped her index finger into Draco's drink and gave a quick swirl to ensure that the potion mixed in properly with the brandy. It would not do to have her plans undone by its bitter aftertaste. Pasting a smile on her face, she picked up the tumblers and turned away from the cabinet.

"What's he done now?" she asked, handing Draco the tainted drink and then perching herself on the armrest of his chair.

The next few minutes were spent listening to Draco's oft repeated complaints about Harry Potter, the state of wizarding society and the world in general. It was a rant that Pansy had become very familiar with over the years she had been married to Draco. He went off like this at least once a week.

Seeing that Draco had finished his drink, and the potion mixed into it, Pansy claimed his empty glass and went to pour a second helping of brandy. As she stood by the liquor cabinet, she made a seemingly casual observation.

"You know; if Potter's really as weak as you say he is--"

"He is!" insisted Draco.

"Then he must have had some sort of help to defeat the Dark Lord," finished Pansy, ignoring the interruption.

"Slytherin's balls, you stupid woman," muttered Draco. "Why do you have to always state the blindingly obvious as if it were a revelation of biblical proportions?"

"Well," Pansy continued, gritting her teeth and doing a remarkable job of keeping her cool, "I was thinking--"

"That's a first," Draco muttered.

Clearly resisting the urge to throw caution to the wind and simply kill Draco there and then, Pansy forced herself to remain calm. "What if you could get your hands on it, whatever it is," she said, "and used it against him?"

Draco turned to sneer at her, obviously preparing to dismiss her suggestion, but paused just as he began to speak. After a few seconds, he closed his mouth and began to look thoughtful.

"You know," he mused, "that might not be such a bad idea."


Somewhere, somewhen

Draco blinked rapidly as the memory receded. The pain in his head was only a dull throbbing, in contrast to the much sharper stabbing sensation of before. He had a feeling that this muting effect was deliberate, so that while he would still be in pain it would not be enough to completely distract him.

He stared across at Pinhead, who was watching him with a terrible detachment.

"What was that?" he asked.

"The beginning."

Draco shook his head, struggling to order his thoughts. His mind was darting about without rhyme or reason, but he did manage to focus on one particular image. "She put something in my drink..."

"A Susceptibility Potion. To ensure your ready acceptance of her suggestion. To make certain you would begin searching for the box," elaborated Pinhead. "Simple, but effective."

"No. Pansy is my wife, she'd never betray me," Draco countered. He had become so used to Pansy obeying his every whim that the idea of her acting contrary to his interests was completely foreign. "And even if she tried - she's too stupid to pull it off."

"Ah, but who is the betrayer and who is the betrayed?" asked Pinhead knowingly. There was a cold satisfaction reflected in his black eyes as he spoke. "Pansy is not as stupid, nor as oblivious, as you would think."

"What d'you mean?" demanded Draco.

Pinhead's reply was a succinct, "Daphne Zabini."

Draco felt himself grow pale at the mention of his lover's name.

"She knows?"

"Nothing arouses a woman's fury better than infidelity," Pinhead lectured dispassionately. "And no mercy will be shown when revenge is taken for such a betrayal."

"But how?" asked Draco, still having trouble accepting this revelation. "I made sure--"

"You are not as subtle, nor as cunning, as you like to believe, Draco," Pinhead informed him, his words laced with just a bare hint of mocking scorn. "Pansy is a far more admirable example of what it means to be a Slytherin. While you busied yourself in preparation to destroy your enemy, she laid down the groundwork for your own destruction. And when the final hour came... she struck."


23:45, April 13th, 2007

Malfoy Manor

Draco smirked with a growing sense of satisfaction and mounting anticipation. At last his plans were complete. The box, Dark Arts Artefact Number One-One-Three-Eight, was finally in his possession. Over two dozen of his closest associates and companions were gathered together at his manor, most of them his old schoolmates. They had come in preparation for an event that would shake the foundations of the wizarding world. The final annihilation of Draco's long-time rival; Harry Potter.

For the first time in a decade; life, for Draco Malfoy, was good.

Glancing over what would become the core of his future cohorts; Draco had to admit that he could have done better. He could also have done a lot worse. But if anyone could shape them into a devastating force of Pure-blooded might, it would be him. He was a Malfoy after all. Voldemort had, before anything else, been a compelling and charismatic leader. Which was why Draco would be the perfect replacement for him.

They were assembled in the manor's ballroom, which had not seen any significant use since Draco's graduation from Hogwarts. At the far end of the massive room, a stone pedestal had been conjured. There, atop a plush green velvet cushion, rested the box. Arrayed around the pedestal, watching as their future allies mingled, Draco, Blaise and Nott waited impatiently.

"Don't look so morbid, Blaise," Draco chided his friend. "Lady luck is smiling upon us this night."

"Then we should act now, before she starts to frown," replied Blaise curtly.

Draco rolled his eyes and shared a bemused glance with Nott. Zabini had been growing steadily more nervous ever since the trio had fled from the All Purpose Potter Tools building. The man was simply unable to enjoy the sweet taste of victory without having something to worry about. That was probably why Daphne, currently discussing some juicy piece of gossip with her younger sister Astoria, in Draco's bed rather than her husband's.

"You're such a stick in the mud, Zabini," said Nott.

"Yeah, try to enjoy yourself for once," added Draco.

"Your problem, Malfoy, is that you think the world revolves around you."

He looked at Blaise in mock astonishment. "You mean it doesn't?"

Blaise glowered at him and affirmed, "No, it doesn't."

"Well," said Draco blithely, "by sunrise rather I expect it shall."

"You're delusional," muttered Blaise unhappily. "Let's just get this over with. It's almost midnight."

"Right," Draco agreed.

Stepping away from his two conspirators, Draco moved in front of the pedestal and clapped his hands to gain the attention of his guests. It took a minute for all the varied conversations to die down, but soon all was quiet. Using his best narrator's voice, Draco began to recite the speech he had carefully prepared for this event. It was a rousing commentary, painstakingly designed to play on the needs and desires of the audience. He spoke of Voldemort's rise and the glory days of his reign. He spoke of Potter's interference and the Dark Lord's ignoble downfall. He revealed the truth behind events a decade past, of the dark artefact that Potter had made and unleashed upon Voldemort. And he unveiled the puzzle box, sitting on its pedestal behind him.

He completely failed to notice as his wife, Pansy, quietly left the room.

Leaving the ballroom behind her, she briskly made her way to the Malfoy's private drawing room. She paused by the mantle and looked at the single photograph that resided above the fireplace. It was a picture of Pansy and Draco on their wedding day. It was also the only photograph to be found in the entire manor, where husband and wife could be seen together. She brushed a melancholy finger over the image.

"Goodbye, Draco," she muttered, sadly and bitterly, before tossing a handful of floo powder onto the fire. As the flames flared bright green, she stepped into the fireplace and called out, "Martyr Warren."

The world spun around her as Pansy was sent rocketing through the floo network. After a minute of stomach churning bends and twists, she found herself disgorged in the sitting room of her destination. Martyr Warren was a midsized but very comfortable cottage, out in the Devon countryside. Dusting herself off, Pansy looked up to see that her best friend, dating back to before Hogwarts even, had been awaiting her arrival.

"So, it's started?" asked Millicent Bulstrode, not moving from her seat.

"Yeah," Pansy reluctantly confirmed. "Thanks for letting me use your cottage as a stop over, Milly."

"It's no trouble," said Millicent, shrugging off the appreciation. She nursed a tall glass of gillywater in her hands and asked, "Still, why come to me and not Blaise? Daphne's his wife, after all."

"And if he had bedded her more often, she might not have strayed!" snapped Pansy, her blood boiling at the mere mention of Daphne's name.

A long moment of slightly awkward silence passed and then Millicent staidly observed, "It's getting close to midnight. You'd better hurry."

Pansy bit off the apology she had been considering and merely nodded. "Right." Finding and using her host's supply of floo powder, she knelt down next to the fireplace and stuck her head in the green flames. "Madingley Grange!"

Once again the world spun widely around Pansy, though this time her body remained firmly in Millicent's sitting room. With a cough, she found herself looking out at a warmly lit and nicely furnished lounge, where the wands of Harry and Hermione Potter, Neville and Ginny Longbottom and Ron Weasley were aimed at her face. Luna Weasley was also present, but was merely watching proceedings with her usual detachment.

"Get those wands out of my face," she commanded indignantly.

"Pansy," said Harry, the first to lower his wand arm, which prompted the others to do the same. "Well, well, well. And what, I wonder, brings you to the Potter fireplace so late in the night?"

"I need to speak to you," said Pansy. "Can I come through?"

"Speak to us? About what?" asked Hermione, wand still in hand.

"The misbegotten, cheating bastard that dares call himself my husband," Pansy told them, her expression twisting unhappily.

"Ugh, Malfoy? Who wants to talk about him of all people?" complained Ron.

Impatient at the delay, Pansy snappishly asked, "Can I come through now or should I just wait until tomorrow?"

The group exchanged looks, communicating silently in a way that the Slytherin within Pansy could not help but admire. After a few curt gestures and a subtle adjustment in their positions about the room (to better deal with a hostile visitor), Harry nodded to her.

"If you think it's important enough for you to disturb us like this... come on over."


Somewhere, somewhen

"This was the essence of Pansy's plan," explained Pinhead. "Drawing you to your doom without casting any suspicion upon herself."

"But why go to Potter? Why him? Why then?" Draco demanded to know. "If she was going to betray me, why wait until only after I'd stolen the box? Why not before, so that Potter and his friends could catch me in the act?"

Pinhead answered as if speaking to a child. "Why? Because, Draco, she needed an alibi."

Draco blinked dumbly and repeated, "An alibi?"

Seeing that his victim was simply unable to make the appropriate connection, Pinhead began to explain. "Yes, an alibi to confirm that she was nowhere near Malfoy Manor when you and your comrades were taken. And what better defence could she boast than to have Harry Potter, hero of the magical world, vouch for her whereabouts?"

The crafty simplicity of his wife's scheme left Draco dumbstruck. Moving for the first time since his appearance, Pinhead walked up to him. He reached out with one hand and removed an old, yellowed business card from Draco's breast pocket. He flicked it round so that Draco could read the words printed on it.


The Prince of Pain's face remained studiously blank, but there was a ghostly hint of dark humour surrounding him. He released his hold on the business card and let it fall to the stone floor. Draco's eyes could not help but track it on its way down. When he looked up, he found that Pinhead had retreated to a more comfortable distance.

"While ignorant of the true nature of the box, Pansy was the perfect conduit for our machinations," Pinhead explained, "Angry. Bitter. Jealous. Exactly what was needed to lead you onto the right path."

"You used her," was all Draco could think to say.

"Perhaps, but if not the box then she would still have done something to avenge herself upon you."

Draco took a step back, more a reflex action than anything else. Pinhead, however, reacted instantly to the perceived attempt to flee. With a nod of his head, a dozen gleaming chains shot out of the darkness surrounding them. Each length of chain ended in a serrated hook that tore deep into Draco's flesh as they latched onto him.

The pain was incredible, more than he could have imagined, as the hooks dug into him. His hands, his elbows, his ankles, his knees, his chest, his back and even his cheeks; the chains bound him so tightly that he could not move for fear of more pain. There was a ratcheting noise and the pain blossomed through Draco again as the chains hoisted him six inches into the air. He was completely immobilised.

"Now now," Pinhead reprimanded. "You can't leave just yet, Draco. The story's not over."


Midnight, April 13th, 2007

Malfoy Manor

The clock was striking the tolls of midnight.

Draco had been working furiously for the past five minutes, all of his attention focused on solving the puzzle of the box. He had begun to work on the problem after finishing his earlier speech. It had been well received, a smattering of applause and words of agreement and encouragement from everyone present. There had been some argument over who would open the box first, but the Malfoy influence was still enough for him to argue his way to victory.

Fragments of a soft tune had started to play almost immediately, when he had brushed his thumb counter-clockwise over the largest circle embedded in the centre of what seemed to be the box's primary face. As each part of the puzzle was completed, the haunting piece of music grew closer to completion. An entire section of the box extended outward, spun round its axis and then sunk back into place. Something about the arrangement had changed, but it was hard to tell exactly what.

His heart was pounding in his chest as, piece by piece, he progressed further along. It was difficult at times; the gleaming lacquer work was so finely applied that the seams between segments could not been seen by the eye, forcing him to rely on his sense of touch. Turning it this way and that, searching for the next change to make, Draco could see his reflection as the light reflected over the box's surfaces. It was impossible, but alongside his own face he could see the faces everyone in the ballroom else as well.

To his elation the box seemed to almost pull part in his hands, large segments of its construction flipping and twisting round. His breath caught in his throat as one face seemed to fall away and recede into infinity. It was an optical illusion, but the effect was heart stopping. The tinkling melody was almost finished, he could tell, though beneath the soft chimes Draco could hear something akin to the weak cry of a baby.

Then the box bucked in his hands.

Jerking with surprise, Draco dropped the box to the ballroom floor. He slowly backed away as the fine filigree of metal and the underlying parts began to move, seemingly with a will of their own. The music that was playing reached a crescendo, the tune finally complete. Lights throughout Malfoy Manor began to flicker as one face of the Lament Configuration peeled open, allowing a stream of brilliant light to pour out of it.

A mournful bell rang in the sudden silence.


Somewhere, somewhen

Draco blinked and shivered as he heard that same bell ringing through the darkness surrounding him. The sound seemed to come from all sides. He looked despairingly at his captor, who stared back at him with an expression of ultimate satisfaction.

"And that, as they say... was that," concluded Pinhead. "You opened the box. We came."


Midnight, April 13th, 2007

Malfoy Manor

The ballroom was suddenly, inexplicably plunged into darkness. The many gas lights that lined the walls, as well as the grand chandelier above, still glowed with illumination, but the light seemed unable to pierce its way through the multitude of shadows. A deep rumbling began to echo throughout the room, as if the whole manor were being rocked back and forth.

Surprised exclamations sounded as several people jumped back, streams of thick steam unaccountably hissing out from between the floorboards. The hollow bell continued to toll and then the ballroom was flooded with illumination as an unholy blue light began to stream in from the windows that looked out on the back lawn. Directly opposite this, the wall trembled and shook violently, cracking and splitting apart with a loud groan. The two sections pulled further apart, exposing what seemed to be a tunnel or corridor of some sort, its fog filled length stretching back to be lost in darkness.

The great bell rang out one last time and then fell silent.

Draco and everyone else stood frozen in place, unsure of what to make of all that had just happened. Those nearest the strange corridor shuffled uncertainly, trying to appear less discomforted than they were. Nobody spoke, as if afraid to break the silence that permeated the air with a palpable presence. Then, so softly that it could only barely be heard, the crying wails of a baby echoed from the corridor. Nervous glances were exchanged and several less brave souls began to step back from the passage opening.

It was Adrian Pucey that defied the general trend and actually moved towards the noise. His steps were tentative, but he slowly approached the gaping aperture that had appeared in the ballroom wall. He glanced back, over his shoulder, and briefly matched his gaze with Draco's. Visibly steeling his nerve, he turned back to the corridor and set one foot over the threshold.

A monster more suited for a nightmare than reality burst into view with incredible speed. It scuttled sinuously along the high roof of the corridor, moving with inelegant and inhuman grace. Its face was a mockery, twisted and distorted. Before Pucey could do more than scream, the beast reached down and wrapped both arms, each as thick as his thighs, round the man's waist and pulled him back into the shadows. It vanished just as quickly as it had appeared; Pucey's fading shrieks of pain and terror the only indication of its having been there.

"Oh my god," breathed Blaise in horror.

"What in Merlin's name was that thing?" asked Daphne as she clung to Astoria.

"A demon! It must have been! A demon from the depths of Hell!" cried Phillip Chanard, scrabbling back to put as much distance between himself and the exposed corridor as he could manage.

"Impossible!" Draco scoffed, though his voice trembled with uncertainty. "Demon's aren't real! They're just stories - made up by superstitious Muggles!"

"Then what the fuck was that thing?!" demanded Nott, almost hysterical.

"My associate."

The smooth, deep voice was so unexpected that several of those present screamed in fright. Everyone spun round to discover that someone else was now present. A tall, dark figure now stood in the main doorway to the Malfoy ballroom. Shimmering blue-white light shone from behind him as a low, thick mist flowed around his feet and into the room.

The light and the shadows it cast made it difficult to discern details, but the man was clearly wearing strange robes of black leather and his bald head was entirely devoid of colour. Deep cuts crisscrossed his face, adorned by gleaming steel pins at each intersection. He held himself stiff and erect, like a king, but with his arms resting easily by his sides.

After a moment, three other figures emerged from the light, moving to stand just behind their leader. All were dressed in similar to their leader; black leather garments that were hooked and sewn and grossly intertwined with their pale flesh.

First there was a woman that might once have been considered beautiful. Her throat had been sliced open and the skin peeled back by eight hooks. The centre of her chest lay exposed, flanked by her modest leather-clad breasts. A deep and terrible gash ran from her sternum down to just past her navel, crudely and brutally stitched closed by thick strands of steel wire.

Next was a stocky figure, corpulent yet strong in appearance, his blubbery features possessing a slightly more swarthy complexion than his fellows but no less pale. His eyes were hidden beneath a pair of thick, black goggles. A massive and wicked looking meat hook was held loosely in one hand and he would periodically run his tongue back and forth over his swollen, blue lips.

And last in this dreadful menagerie, was a chattering monstrosity. It possessed an exposed death's head grin of teeth and an enormous mass of layered scar tissue that consumed both eyes and nose. Knifes and blades of all shapes and sizes hung from its waist, waiting to be drawn and used; an arsenal of pain. It was not as large as the fat man, but its every move spoke of untold physical power.

Several of the people present, mostly those that were a comfortable distance from the gaping tear in the ballroom wall, redirected their wands at these new arrivals. The four figures ignored them all and began to slowly advance further into the room, moving to where Draco, Blaise and Nott were standing. They had just passed Terrence Higgs when he took a step away from his companions and thrust out his wand.

"Avada Kedavra!" he screamed, sending a Killing Curse rocketing into Pinhead's unguarded back.

The Black Pope did not even break stride.

Higgs stared in a sort of horrified disbelief, quickly glancing down at his wand to check that it was working properly. He looked up, another spell on his lips, just as Pinhead twitched the fingers of one hand. In the blink of an eye, a thick length of chain seemed to explode out of the shimmering light at the ballroom's entrance.

The chain struck Higgs in the back of his neck, erupting out the other side and sending a small spray of blood flying. Unable to either gag or scream, Higgs had only enough time to drop his wand and grab the barbed link that protruded from his throat when it was pulled sharply back whence it came. Falling flat on his back, he could manage nothing more than a weak gurgle, his legs kicking out wildly in search of purchase, as he was reeled backwards to vanish amidst the glowing fog.

Long seconds of absolute silence reigned as all present stared after their departed comrade. Then a confused shift took place as everyone tried to simultaneously move away from the entrance, yet remain a safe distance from the four visitors. That one of the ballroom walls also had a monster filled corridor emerging from it only served to make these movements even more complex.

"Who... who the hell are you people?" Draco was finally able to ask.

By now Pinhead and his three cohorts were standing just a few short feet away, close enough that Draco had no difficulty in seeing the details of their mutilated features. The lead cenobite regarded him coolly for a moment, as if affronted by the question. He took several steps forward, drawing close enough to touch him, and calmly handed Draco a business card as an answer. Draco was so surprised that he accepted without thinking. He glanced down at the weathered slip of paper.


Draco stared in disbelief at the words, unable to comprehend the meaning behind it all.


Somewhere, somewhen

"All problems solved, Draco," explained Pinhead as Draco came crashing back to reality, "but you never stopped to consider what the problem was, or how it would be dealt with."

"No... no... no..." Draco groaned piteously, unwilling to accept what he had just witnessed.

"You see, Draco, the problem... was you."


Midnight, April 13th, 2007

Malfoy Manor

"Who... what... where...?"

Blaise Zabini's mostly incoherent questions were possibly the most pertinent queries he had ever chanced to ask in all of his life. In point of fact almost everyone else present was silently asking themselves exactly the same things.

Pinhead ignored the questions, his attention instead focused upon the object that had allowed them to be summoned here. He knelt down to retrieve the Lament Configuration from its place on the ballroom floor. As he rose back to his full height the bell tolled once more, its echoes rings throughout the manor. He held the box with both hands, tucked close to his body just in front of the navel, like a priest holding a priceless holy artefact at benediction.

"What the fuck is going on?" demanded Nott, masking his fear with belligerence.

Pinhead continued to ignore the three men standing not far from him. His attention was on the box and nothing else. Instead it was his subordinate, the throatless woman that answered. Her voice was hollow and brittle when she spoke. "You opened the box. We came."

Nott licked his lips and asked, "You came? Why? For what reason?"

"We have come to take what is ours," the woman answered.

"Sod that," Nott exclaimed, raising his wand. "Sectumsempra!"

The curse, taught to many past Slytherin students by their old head of house, slammed into the woman's chest before anyone could blink. Massive and jagged cuts tore through her flesh as she staggered back. A step. Two steps. She regained quickly her footing and poise. The gaping and bloodless wounds, exposing black, necrotised tissue, seemed to sew themselves shut.

Nott stared at her in disbelief. So did everyone else. He jabbed his wand a second time and cursed, "Crucio!"

Throatless, as she was sometimes called, regarded the spell with the same dispassion she had displayed for the one before it. Not bothering to dodge or duck, the stream of red light connected with her sternum. As the magic ravaged over her, she cocked her head in a birdlike manner and stared back at her attacker. Her lips barely moved, but there was the distinct impression that she was smiling, silently laughing at Nott's efforts.

"That is no way to treat a lady," she declared finally as Nott released the curse.

"Who are you?" asked Nott in a hushed whisper, awed by her passive display of power.

With measured strides, Throatless approached him. Stopping just short, she reached out a hand and gently brushed Nott's wand arm aside. Her gloved fingers traced a gentle path along his arm and to his chest. Her black eyes remained locked with Nott's the entire while. Then, to the astonishment of those watching, she shoved hard against his sternum.

The blow was impossibly strong and sent Nott flying through the air, his breath knocked out of him. He crashed against the wall behind him and, as if they had been waiting for him, short lengths of barbed chain exploded out of the wooden panelling. The chains quickly wrapped themselves around his wrists and ankles, moving fast enough that he never had a chance to fall. By the time anyone else realized what was happening, Nott was bound spread-eagled to the back wall, thick trickles of blood dribbling down from where he was being held.

Throatless regarded her work with cold satisfaction and announced, "Time to play, Theodore."

"Enough," said Pinhead decisively. Throatless reluctantly acknowledged the order and backed down, leaving Nott suspended but still alive. Pinhead finally turned his attention to those surrounding him. His black eyes fixed on the one man still standing immediately in front of him. "Draco Malfoy."

"You - you know me?" asked Draco, struggling to stand his ground in the face of this monster.

"I know your father. Lucius. His flesh. His soul," Pinhead replied softly, as if in remembrance. He continued his examination of Draco and concluded, "You are so very like him. I feel a distinct sense of déjà vu."

"You know where he is? You know what happened to him?" Draco asked, his eagerness for news of Lucius momentarily overwhelming his fear. "Tell me!"

"Such arrogance… to think you can make demands of one such as I," said Pinhead, with a miniscule shake of his head. "You believe too strongly in your own superiority."

"And what do you believe in?" asked Draco in return, unwilling to back down despite his every instinct screaming for him to do just that.

"Nothing," Pinhead immediately replied. "I am so… exquisitely… empty."

Draco's eyes cut to where Nott was hanging. He swallowed convulsively and then glanced at his sole remaining companion, Blaise. The normally dour man was utterly pale in the face, despite his swarthy complexion. Most telling of all was his expression; one of fraught terror. If Draco were to receive any assistance in this matter, it would clearly have to come from someone else.

Licking his lips, Draco tried to match gazes with Pinhead. He found it strangely easy, though not for any of the right reasons. Staring into the demon's eyes was an experience not unlike a sheep gaping up into the watchful eyes of a hungry dragon. It was very easy to get lost in those bottomless black eyes and find yourself unable to move.

"What – what do you want?" he managed to choke out, his throat painfully dry.

"What do you want, Draco?" asked Pinhead in return.

"Power," he answered, finding it within himself to stand tall and defiant. "I was told that opening Potter's box would give me power."

"Ah," Pinhead nodded. "And what would you do with this power?"

"Take back what's mine. I want it back – all of it. The respect, the influence, the control. I will make it so that the mudbloods will know their place in the world. I'll show Potter and the other blood-traitors what happens when they try to pull the rest of us down to their level. I'll bring back the old ways and rule over the people as I was supposed to! I'll have my revenge!"

Pinhead listened impassively as Draco grew more and more passionate until he was almost ranting. "You have the ambition of a Slytherin," he said, when Draco paused for breathe. "The ambition, yes, but you possess neither the cunning, nor the subtlety to truly succeed in your goals."

Draco's face paled in fury at the criticism. His hands clenched into tight fists, his knuckles creaking under the strain. He began reached for his wand, but froze when a glimmer of anticipation passed through Pinhead's eyes. Despite the utter expressionless set of his face, the demon was clearly hoping that Draco would make the mistake of lashing out against him. Just as Nott had done. Draco looked back to where his comrade was bound and suspended against the back wall.

Swallowing nervously, he asked, "What do I have to do? For you to give me the power I want?"

"You have already done what was needed," answered Pinhead. "You opened the box."

"Then you're going to give me the power?" Draco asked uncertainly. The demon was being very obtuse.

"You shall experience all that the box can offer," Pinhead promised.



Draco blinked at the unexpected reply. He looked dumbly at Pinhead and repeated, "Pleasure?"


By now Draco was completely confused. He simply could not understand the direction in which the conversation had seemingly turned. How could Voldemort, the Dark Lord, have been defeated by pleasure? Pain, certainly, Draco could understand that. Anyone that had ever experienced a Cruciatus Curse could understand the power of pain. But pleasure? It made no sense.

"Both. Apart. Together," Pinhead continued staidly. "Without limits. Without end."

"What the bloody fuck are you talking about?" demanded Draco in frustration.

An answer might have been forthcoming, but Blaise acted before anything more could be said. The man had clearly reached his limits as he loosed a strangled sound and started running, pushing passed Draco and the four beings that the box had summoned. He ran with the desperation of someone that knew their end was nigh and could think of nothing that might save them. For a moment, it appeared that he might make it; that he might be allowed to escape.

Pinhead watched dispassionately as Blaise fled. He allowed the running man to cover half the distance to where the ballroom doors had once been. Of course, those doors were no longer present, but it was amusing to see the attempted dash for freedom and safety. Pinhead languidly lifted his arm and pointed.

"Fetch!" he commanded sternly.

The ballroom floor exploded upwards as a hideous beast burst out into the open directly in front of the fleeing Blaise. It looked rather like the unfortunately result of a man and dog that had been involved in a particularly messy automobile accident. He tried to stop, but his momentum was too great and he almost literally fell into the monster's mauling attack. It latched its jaws around Blaise's throat and pulled him, screaming and thrashing, back into the pit that it had emerged from.

This was too much for the assembled crowd. Their fear induced paralysis wavered and finally collapsed as the fight or flight response inverted itself. Wands were raised and curses began to fly in desperate attempts to defeat the creatures that the box had summoned. The four demons merely stood in place and watched. The barrage of magic washed over them to no effect.

"Enough," Pinhead repeated his earlier command. His eyes flicked to his comrades. "Take them."

Throatless bowed her head. "Time to play," she pronounced, her attention returning to her earlier victim; Nott.

Butterball, rather than recognizing the order, simply flipped his meat hook over. He turned and began to advance to where Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle were standing, watching the proceedings in dumb horror. The thick but sharp tip of the hook sunk deep into Goyle's chest before either of them knew what was happening. Yells and cries of pain and fear began to fill the ballroom as more monstrous shapes started to emerge from the shadows.

A familiar voice screamed in pure terror and Draco whipped his head round to see that Daphne was now in the clutches of the Chatterer. The hideously mutilated creature had somehow gotten behind her and now held her tightly in its grasp. One arm was flung across her body, its gloved hand clutching a breast in what had to be an agonisingly strong grip. The other hand held a jagged knife and was almost casually cutting away at the struggling witch's robes. Daphne's sister, Astoria, was trying to help free her, but the Chatterer was simply too strong as it slowly dragged her towards a shadowy corner.

Draco tried to move forward, instinctively seeking to rescue his mistress, but froze as a cold prickle ran up his spine. Looking over his shoulder, he saw that Pinhead was watching him closely. The demon had remained perfectly still the entire while, but now he had began to move. Bottomless black eyes glanced up to the ceiling and a length of chain answered the call, shooting out of the darkness and straight towards Draco.

He tried to dodge but was too slow. The hooked end of the chain spiralled round his left wrist and stabbed itself into his hand, causing him to drop his wand. Draco squealed in pain and reached over with his uninjured hand in an attempt to pry himself loose. Another glance upwards from Pinhead led to a second chain dropping down. This time the hook snagged Draco's right hand, driving itself through his palm and out the other side. With a jerk the chains pulled back, yanking both arms in opposite directions. Draco cried out as pain shot down his arms and into his torso.

Pinhead continued to advance and new chains continued to lash out, faster and faster. One wrapped itself several times round his right leg before burrowing into his ankle. Another stabbed into his left Achilles tendon, severing it with a resounding snap. Yet another dug into his stomach and two others into his chest. Perhaps worst of all, a second pair latched onto Draco's face, hooking themselves into his cheeks.

"Now, shall we talk sensibly?" asked Pinhead calmly.

"What do you want from me?" begged Draco through his tears.

Pinhead walked slowly up to him. "What we want is you, Draco."

Draco tried to struggle, to fight his way free, but the chain hooks were too deeply embedded. Every movement, every attempt to pull loose only served to make them dig even deeper and grant him even greater amounts of pain. He quickly relented and allowed himself to hang limply, without resistance.

"There is nothing that you can offer us. You are ours. Your life is ours. Your soul is ours. But first..." Pinhead stroked the back of his hand over Draco's tearstained cheek, "first, we will know your flesh."

The chains began to pull taut, straining Draco's body to the limits. His screams of pain almost eclipsed the sound of his body being rent to pieces.


Somewhere, somewhen

His lesson finally over, Pinhead inclined his head the barest fraction and the chains holding Draco suspended instantly released him. They did not disappear, but remained in place, dangling down from above like malicious and threatening vines. He watched, patiently, as Draco curled into a tight ball and whimpered in agony, both physical and mental.

"No, it's impossible!" Draco desperately bawled. "It's all a lie! A lie! It can't be true! It can't!"

"You cannot run forever. Eventually the truth will catch up to you and when it does... you must pay the price," Pinhead patiently explained. He paused for a beat and then asked, "You were willing to pay the price weren't you?"

Draco paused and found himself remembering, in perfect and vivid detail, his encounter at the All Problems Solved shop.

The old man gave him a narrow stare and asked, "And are you willing to pay the price?"

Draco sneered and reached into his robe. He pulled out a money bag, filled with galleons, and tossed it onto the counter. The drawstring was loose enough that several coins were able to spill out and scatter before the old man.

The old man smiled; the smile of someone who knows a secret.

"Oh, the price is far greater than mere money, but you'll discover that for yourself."

Draco blinked through his tears and looked up at Pinhead. "The old man works for Potter, doesn't he? Whenever he wants to get rid of someone, like me, he arranges for them to go there and that man, he tells them about the box – the box that brings you to them."

Pinhead began to slowly circle round Draco, considering the fallen wizard from all angles. As he walked, he spoke. "Not quite. While the merchant does seek to deliver the appropriate users to us, he is not in Harry Potter's employ."

"Then why me? Why did you choose me?"

"Because you were an interesting study, Draco," the circling Pinhead answered. "Lust, greed, deception. Fertile ground for our games."

"A game?" repeated Draco incredulously. "This has been a game for you?

"Ah, but the play's the thing, isn't it? And this has been an amusing drama," Pinhead drew to a halt, standing in front of Draco. "But while it was entertaining - watching you search for answers when you did not even know the questions, it is now time to draw the curtains closed and for the actors to take a final bow."

Pinhead remained perfectly still, as he always did when not deliberately moving, but his eye shifted to look at something behind Draco. Despite the pain it caused him, Draco scrabbled around to see what the demon was now focused upon. He froze in place as he spotted the five figures that were slowly emerging from the darkness. He recognised all of them, as they had played a great part in his recent torments, though he could not understand what they were doing here.

Hermione Potter. Ginny and Neville Longbottom. Ron and Luna Weasley.

Draco looked around frantically for the one person that was missing from the group; Harry Potter. But his nemesis was nowhere to be seen. If Potter was there, he remained hidden in the shadows.

"Where is he? Where's Potter?" he demanded to know, though there was no force behind his words. Only desperation.

"Harry is not here. Nor are his wife and friends," replied Pinhead.

"But..." Draco trailed off as the new arrivals underwent a startling transformation.

It began with Hermione, who was wearing a strange smirk on her face. It was very unlike her. The smirk faded quickly as her entire form shifted somehow, Draco could not explain how it happened. The bushy brown hair vanished, replaced by bare, pale scalp. The hard brown eyes turned a bottomless black. Her plum robes shifted into black leather. She trailed a hand down the gruesome scar between her breasts, settling her fingers on the sharp blades that hung at her waist. And in the end; Throatless was standing before him.

Unwillingly Draco found himself watching as the others underwent similar changes. Ginny was the one that revealed her true form next, following on Hermione's heels. In many respects she now bore a close resemblance to Throatless, save that her most noticeable feature was the fact that the skin of her scalp had been peeled to either side, pinned to her shoulders by hooks, and leaving the top of her skull exposed. Draco did not recognise her, as she had not accompanied Pinhead during his visit to Malfoy Manor.

Neville was next to change, his human disguise stripping away in concert with his 'wife'. He increased in size, his skin growing swarthy and blubbery. As with the others, he wore black leather robes that were entwined and twisted into his flesh. Almost as an afterthought, thick black goggles covered his eyes. Held loosely in his hand was a massive and bloodstained meat hook. This was the creature that had butchered Crabbe and Goyle; Butterball.

The transformation of Ron into the twisted mess of scar tissue that was known as the Chatterer was almost anticlimactic by this point. He had been, after all, the last of the males remaining. The beast was focused on Draco with a chilling intensity, despite its lack of eyes. It clicked its teeth together in a rapid cadence, a sign of its anticipation, its hunger to begin.

But it was the last of the five figures that truly caught Draco's attention. The shift from Luna into her true form was as indefinable as the others. She was bald, as they all were, and inhumanly pale. Her clothes were different from he expected. They were leather, yes, but tight and form fitting, rather than the almost ceremonial dress that the other cenobites wore. Thick, bladed chains were wrapped round her, binding her breasts and crotch in some demented form of sadism, the black outfit left torn and ragged where they lay, exposing her pale white flesh. Her face, lips sewn shut with thick wire, was perfectly recognisable.

"Aunt Bella?"

"Yes, a remarkable woman. Most supple and delicious," commented Pinhead. "The Labyrinth still rings with the echoes of her agony."

It was difficult to tear his eyes away from his aunt's demented figure, but Draco managed to turn his attention back to Pinhead. The man, if he could be called that, had not moved an inch. He remained perfectly in place and perfectly still, in a way that no human could match. Throatless had moved to stand next to him, slightly behind and to the side; the position of a trusted lieutenant.

Staring into the bottomless black of Pinhead's eyes, Draco came to a sudden realization. He looked to Bellatrix and then back to Pinhead. If the Dark Lord's most fanatical follower, his chief lieutenant, was now in the service of the box demons...

"Voldemort… he's here as well, isn't he?"

"Yes," Pinhead confirmed. "Tom Riddle remains in our caring, yet eternally malevolent, embrace."

Draco swallowed and reluctantly, for he did not really want to hear the answer, asked, "My father?"

Not a single muscle in Pinhead's expression moved, yet it seemed that he smiled. His eyes never straying from Draco, he turned his head slightly to one side and called, "Lucius."

Responding to the summons, another shape stepped out of the surrounding darkness. Draco's breath caught in his throat and he could feel his heart skipping a beat as he took in the appearance of the new arrival.

Lucius Malfoy's face was exactly as it had been a decade earlier. His features were still sharp and aristocratic. His grey eyes were still cool and commanding. His hair was still immaculate and carefully coifed. But at his neck was a thick black leather collar and below that was a nightmare.

The former head of the Malfoy family had been skinned alive, only his head had been left untouched – perhaps as some sort of twisted mockery to the vanity he clung to in life. His body had been reduced to a red and white mockery, covered in a thin coat of blood that slowly dripped down to the floor. Bloody footprints traced his path back into the shadows. He had also been disembowelled and likely flayed until his abdomen had been torn away, leaving nothing but his spine to connect his chest to his hips. Draco blanched at the realization that his father's genitals had also been skinned. Rather crudely at that.

"Draco," greeted Lucius.

"Oh my god," breathed Draco.

"If you ever listen to anything I have ever said, listen to this," Lucius said. "There is no god in the Labyrinth."

"You – you helped them?" asked Draco in disbelief. "You helped them do this to me!"

With a shake of his head Lucius corrected him, "You did this yourself. My part in this only happened much later, after you had already opened the door."

Angry, no, furious at his father's betray, regardless of the reason, Draco forced himself to his feet and leaned into Lucius' unmarred face. "Damn you! You were there! You helped escort me into the fucking courtroom!"

"Watch you tongue, boy. Your mother and I did not raise a commoner," commanded Lucius. He followed his words with a sharp backhand that sent Draco back to the floor with a bloody imprint on his cheek.

"You have done well, Lucius," Pinhead praised. "You may leave us."

Lucius seemed to curl in upon himself, as if terrified now that Pinhead's attention was upon him, however briefly. "Thank you," he muttered before turning on a heel and quickly retreating back into the shadows. He did not spare a backward glance to where Draco had fallen.

Draco spat and swore, "Bastard."

"Such resentment. Even now; at the end," commented Pinhead.

"It was all a lie, wasn't it?" Draco asked bitterly. "There was no power in the box. Potter never used it to kill Voldemort – he used you."

"A risky game, but one that Harry played well," said Pinhead.

"So the only thing that damned thing does is summon you?"

"There are many configurations. But, yes, opening the schism is its first purpose."

"But why do you do it? Why do you help him?"

"Why shouldn't we?" Pinhead asked in return. "Harry built the Lament Configuration with his own hands. Once you have opened such a door, it can never be closed. Harry understands that. That is why the box will always return to him. Until the next time."

"Potter," muttered Draco. "And when he gets it back? What then? He puts it on its barely guarded pedestal and waits for someone else to come steal it?"

"A viciously simple trap, is it not? Leading his enemies to their fates with a promise of power."

Draco laughed mirthlessly. "So I was right; Potter was out to get me!"

"On the contrary," Pinhead corrected. "He only became aware of your interest in the Lament Configuration when you and your friends stole it."

"Hah hah, wonderful," Draco continued to laugh, this time slightly hysterically. "Beaten by Potter when he wasn't even trying!"

Pinhead nodded in agreement. "That is, I think, the most sublime aspect of this little charade. That while you considered Harry to be your greatest nemesis, he could scarcely be bothered to consider you more than a minor annoyance."

Throatless stepped forward, a hooked blade in hand, and began to approach. "And now… it's time to play."

"Time to play," agreed Butterball, licking his thick lips.

He tried to get away, scrabbling on his hands and knees, but found himself backing himself into the unyielding legs of the Chatterer. The wretched beast chattered eagerly as it reached down and grabbed him by the upper arms. Without any visible effort it hoisted him up and set him on his feet, but retained a firm hold on him even as he stood under his own power.

"Please - I'm - I'm a powerful wizard - very powerful!" stammered Draco, trying to bargain his way out.

"Your world's most powerful wizard means no more to us than does its most insignificant insect," countered Pinhead.

"I - I can give you anything you want... Anything! Anything!" Draco offered.

"We already have what we want," Throatless informed him.

"Me?" asked Draco dumbly. The demons' silence served as an answer. "No... no, please... no..."

"There is a secret song as the centre of the world, Draco, and its sound is that of razors through flesh," Pinhead proclaimed as he stepped close, the dangling chains falling back as he passed. "You have been chosen to become a part of that chorus."

"You... want me... to join you?" asked Draco uncertainly.

"Join us? Hardly," scoffed Pinhead, his voice the only indication of his thoughts on that suggestion. "We are the conductors of the symphony and you are but an instrument for us to tune and to play."

"But - but why? Why?" Draco begged, desperate to understand. "Why put me through all that - that charade?! Why not just kill me and have done with it?!"

"Because, dreams are such a fruitful place to plant the seeds of terror."

"A dream? This was all a dream?" asked Draco.

"Not a dream, Draco. This is your very own personal damnation. A nightmare from which you will never awaken. The worst nightmare of all," announced Pinhead with relish, taking great pleasure in the exquisitely tortured scream his victim let out as he finally understood... that his entire ordeal... had been for naught.

The Black Pope permitted himself the ghost of a smile.

"Welcome... to reality."


April 14th, 2007

Madingley Grange

Hermione collapsed atop of Harry, utterly spent, her bare skin glistening under a sheen of sweat. Her hips continued to undulate against his, in time to her pants of exertion. Eventually, after several long minutes, the couple settled into comfortable stillness, still joined but content to simply lie together in the afterglow of their bout of frantic lovemaking this morning.

Enjoying these languid few moments Harry trailed a hand over the back of Hermione's thigh, pausing to cup a buttock and lovingly caress it. His fingers then traced their way through the soft cleft of her rear and up her spine, causing her to shiver and gasp softly. Reaching up his hand tangled itself in her thick mane and pulled her lips to his for a kiss that promised to re-ignite their passions.

"Is it just me," she asked, breathing heavily as they broke apart, "or is our lovemaking always this good after some poor fool opens the box?"

"It's just you," replied Harry, grabbing her by the hips again and grinding her down onto his pelvis, eliciting groans of pleasure from them both. "It's always this good, no matter what."

"Oh, Harry, you are a jewel," Hermione purred, immensely pleased by his reply.

By the time Pansy had Flooed over, they had been already been aware of the break in at the All Purpose Potter Tools building for quite some time. Draco and his accomplices were not nearly as good a bunch of thieves as they thought they were. While the various wards and protections surrounding the Lament Configuration were hardly difficult to bypass, there were a multitude of hidden Detection Wards that recorded the comings and goings of everyone that entered the premises; authorised or not.

Nobody was especially surprised that Draco had stolen the puzzle box. In fact, they were more surprised that it had taken him so long. There had been a great deal of money riding on it, at least between those that were in the know. Ultimately the pot, now an impressive two hundred galleons, had been won by Luna; who had bet that it would be a decade after graduating from Hogwarts before Draco would manage to accomplish anything. She had also bet that he would need help to do so, though there had been no money wagered on that one.

The six conspirators, so to speak, had gathered at Madingley Grange to discuss matters after the wards had alerted them to the theft. They had no inclination of going to stop Draco, or even to merely watch. Few people were ever unlucky enough to solve the box's puzzle and bring forth Pinhead and his companions. Few of those were lucky enough to escape such an encounter unscathed. Fewer still were ever insane enough, or desperate enough, to call upon the cenobites for a second time. Even Harry, who had done just that, had no desire to tempt fate a third time.

Pansy had been understandably surprised by their apparent lack of concern. She had spent a somewhat pleasant hour in the Potter's lounge, alternately sipping either tea or brandy, as she related her efforts to direct Draco into taking possession of the box. After assurances that they would not be bringing any legal powers to bear against her and that, come morning, her husband would no longer be a consideration, Pansy had departed through the Floo to Locke Keep, something that caused raised eyebrows all round for a variety of reasons.

The group, still occasionally referred to as the Ministry Crew (after their jaunt into the Department of Mysteries), had spent another hour or so talking about the possible ramifications of this latest opening of the Lament Configuration. Finally, at near two o'clock in the morning, the Weasleys and Longbottoms had finished their last round of drinks and said their goodbyes. Harry and Hermione had barely been able to restrain themselves until after their friends had departed through the fireplace.

Their lovemaking continued throughout what was left of the night, wild and animalistic in its intensity, until both succumbed to exhaustion. Waking late the next morning, only minutes from midday actually, they had resumed their earlier activities with undiminished enthusiasm. It was as Hermione had said; their passion was always enflamed to such heights after someone opened the box.

Another bout of unbridled sex seemed likely, until both Harry and Hermione's stomachs let it be known that it was time to vacate the bedroom and scrounge up something to eat.

"Oh, I'm suddenly feeling so hungry," announced Hermione, reluctantly stilling the rocking motion of her hips.

"Yeah," agreed Harry with a disappointed sigh. "It's quite late. We missed breakfast."

Looking around, Hermione managed to locate their alarm clock. "It's after noon," she said, surprised at this realization. "We must have had a later night than we realized."

"Why don't you have a shower?" suggested Harry, gently easing his wife off of his lap and separating them from each other for the first time since they had fallen asleep. "I'll go down to the kitchen and make us some omelettes."

Hermione kissed him, with less passion than before but with as much love as always. "Sound's delicious," she purred as they parted, before rolling off the bed and padding to the bathroom.

Harry watched her depart, his eyes trailing down her back and fixating on the delightful curve of her rear. Once she had disappeared from sight and the sounds of running water reached his ears, he climbed out of bed himself, threw on his favourite bathrobe and made his way downstairs. He had just reached the first landing, where he paused to recollect how he and Hermione had made love at that very spot against the wall the previous night, when the property wards alerted him to the fact that a visitor was making their way up the garden path.

Finishing his descent of the stairs, Harry moved to the reception area where he unlocked the front door and waited. At the very last second he pulled the door open, revealing the surprised features of Nymphadora Lupin. The years had been very kind to the beautiful Auror, though some of the less charitable gossips claimed this was due to her skills as metamorphmagus. It was only the fact that she was now married to Remus Lupin, one of the most level-headed wizards to be found, that prevented her from hexing the mouths of anyone that dared say such things in her presence.

"Wotcher Harry," Tonks grinned. Despite being married, she still insisted on being called by her maiden name.

"Tonks, this is a surprise," said Harry, matching her grin. "What brings you to our doorstep?"

"Business, I'm afraid," admitted Tonks, her powder-blue hair changing to a dark auburn as the grin slipping into a frown.

Harry answered with a grimace and stepped aside to allow her entry into the house. Closing the front door, he followed her into the lounge, where Tonks flung herself onto the largest couch. Settling in his favourite armchair, he asked, "What's the problem?" Before she could reply, he held up a hand and said, "Wait, let me guess – it has something to do with APPT and Draco Malfoy."

Tonks stared at him in surprise before she nodded in confirmation and began to explain. "We received a call from Millicent Bulstrode this morning. She seemed to think something had happened at Malfoy Manor last night. Apparently Draco had stolen something and she was worried about Pansy."

"Have you had a look yet?" asked Harry.

"Yes. When we couldn't get a reply on the Floo, Scrimgeour sent Kingsley and me to investigate."

"Did you find anything?"

Harry and Tonks turned in their seats as Hermione stepped into the room. She had finished her shower, hurrying through it due to Tonks' arrival, and had come down to join them after quickly dressing.

"Not a thing," answered Tonks. "The place is deserted. No sign of Draco or anyone else."

"That isn't what I asked, Tonks," countered Hermione, moving to sit next to Harry in the armchair. "I wanted to know if you found any thing."

"Well, that's why I'm here, actually."

"You found what Draco and his friends stole," said Harry.

"Yes; one of your Potter Tools. I'm sure you know which one," replied Tonks, looking pointedly at Harry.

"I hope nobody tried to play around with it."

"Of course not," Tonks denied, affronted by the idea. "It's evidence, after all."

"Well, that's a relief," Hermione sighed.

Tonks laughed darkly and said, "Yeah, well, we don't want a whole bunch of Aurors and DMLE personnel to 'disappear' as well."

Harry groaned, "Please don't tell me I have to come in for questions. Again."

"Sorry," Tonks apologised, "but you know how it is."


"And what does Pansy have to say about all this?" asked Hermione.

"Draco's wife?" Tonks asked. She shrugged and then shook her head. "Nobody knows where she is."

"I suppose we can pick her up on the way," mused Harry.

"What? You know where she is?"

"Of course we do."

"How the devil do you know that?" asked Tonks, amazed.


April 13th, 2007

St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries

Draco Malfoy returned to consciousness with remarkable speed and alacrity. Of course, this probably had something to do with the fact that pain, comparable to the Cruciatus Curse, was lancing its way through his skull.

"Sonuvabitch!" he swore, reaching up to clutch his throbbing head with both hands. He knew it was ill-befitting someone of his station to use such vulgarities, but right now he was in too much pain to give a damn.

"Oh goody gumdrops, you're back for more!"

Wincing from the pain induced by both the volume and the overly eager tone of the proclamation, Draco looked to one side to find the ever vivacious Loony Luna Weasley peering down at him with undisguised curiosity. Bright blue eyes that should have been somewhat vacant were strangely focused and flickering with an emotion he could not immediately place.

"Loony," Draco managed, though his drawl was forced. "What the hell are you doing here?"

"I work here, Drakkie-pooh," the blonde witch stated happily.

Draco looked up in surprise, the motion causing a stab of pain in the back of his head. Examining the room, he found that he was not in Malfoy Manor, as he had expected. From the look of things, he realized that he was in fact in one of the private rooms at St. Mungo's.

"How did I get here?" asked Draco, more to himself than to Luna.

"Oh, you'll find out... eventually," Luna sang maliciously.


April 14th, 2007

Locke Keep

It had taken a while, but Harry had finally mastered the art of travelling by Floo. That is to say; he no longer fell on his arse whenever he arrived at his destination. Still, he tried to avoid travel by flaming chimney whenever possible. Emerging from the fireplace, Harry stepped aside for Tonk's arrival. Waiting for his companion to make her appearance, he took a moment to examine their location.

Locke Keep was a comfortable country cottage, in south Devon, and home to one of the Wimbourne Wasps' leading Chasers; Marcus Flint. The furnishings were mostly functional; nothing being particularly stylish or overly expensive. A few framed photographs scattered about; with Flint featuring predominantly in all of them. Some of the Wasps' official Quidditch posters, but only those were Flint was present. There was also a racy, deep green bra hanging over the back of the couch. All-in-all it was about what you would expect from a somewhat narcissistic Quidditch player and long-time bachelor.

With a rush of green flames, Tonks stepped out of the fireplace and into the den. She had only just cleared the hearth when her right foot caught on the carpet's edge, sending her stumbling forward. It was very much a re-enactment of almost every visit she had ever made to Grimmauld Place; only without the mad ravings of Sirius' mother's portrait.

"Who's there?"

Harry turned his gaze away from Tonks, who was balancing precariously on one leg with both arms spinning wildly in an attempt to remain upright, and took in the sight of Pansy Malfoy when she appeared in the doorway. Draco's wife was wearing one of Flint's Quidditch shirts and little else, though thankfully the shirt was enough to cover everything that needed covering.

"Potter?" she asked, clearly surprised by his presence. "What – what are you doing here?"

"Good morning, Pansy," Harry acknowledged. He made a show of looking at her attire before asking, "Good night as well?"

In a manner strangely reminiscent of Professor McGonagall, Pansy's lips thinned to a narrow line as she replied, "Not that it's any of your business, but yes; a very good night. Now answer the damned question – what are you doing here?" She glanced at Tonks, "For that matter, why is she here?"

Tonks stepped up and explained, "The Aurors have been called in to investigate the disappearance of your husband, Mrs. Malfoy."

"Draco's missing? Really?" asked Pansy, affecting an air of disinterest.

"Yes, it seems he stole something from Harry here and... well... we're having a little trouble finding him."

Pansy looked at Harry, her expression one of mixed surprise and appreciation. "You work fast."

Harry replied with an almost Gallic shrug and said, "Honestly, I had nothing to do with it."

"Dragon dung," snorted Pansy in disbelief.

"I'm serious," Harry asserted. "My part in this extends only so far as the fact that Draco stole something of mine. Something he really shouldn't have."

"Pansy? Who are you talking to? Is there someone..." asked Marcus Flint as he stumbled into the room, clad in only a bright yellow bath towel that he had wrapped round his waist. It appeared that Harry and Hermione were not the only couple that had been late getting out of bed. He blinked in surprise at the sight of Harry and Tonks. "Potter?"

"Marcus," said Harry by way of greeting, ignoring the other man's state of undress.

"Do I really want to know what you're doing in my house? With an Auror?"

"Just dropped in to speak with Pansy," Harry explained. "Don't worry, we shouldn't be long."

Flint focused on Pansy and asked, "You alright with that?"

Pansy waved his concern aside and nodded, "It's fine, Marcus. I was expecting them."

"Merlin, man," grumbled Tonks. "Either put some clothes on or go back into the bedroom."

"Next time, give a call before coming over," said Flint before retreating back into the bedroom.

"Typical," commented Harry. "You spent an hour last night complaining that Draco was shagging Daphne, yet here you are..."

"Fuck you too, Potter," retorted Pansy coldly.

"No thanks, Pansy. Unlike you, I'm happily married."

"And I'm a merry widow," Pansy countered with a smirk. "So don't give me any of that moral claptrap."

"And what makes you so sure your husband is dead?" Tonks immediately asked. She moved closer to Pansy and gave her a pointed look. "Do you perhaps know something we don't, Mrs. Malfoy?"

"I knew Draco was dead the moment the fool stole Potter's puzzle box," sniffed Pansy, shifting so that Tonks was no longer crowding her. "That box was able to destroy the Dark Lord. Whatever his delusions, Draco didn't have a fraction of Voldemort's power."

"Yes, well, the Aurors are involved now. We both have some questions to answer," said Harry.

Pansy looked at him in surprise and asked, "Why do you need to answer questions?"

"It is my puzzle box," Harry reminded her with a wry grin.

"Good point."

"So, you coming?" he asked.

Pansy stood for a moment, considering, and then nodded.

"Let me get dressed."


April 13th, 2007

St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries

Draco Malfoy returned to consciousness with remarkable speed and alacrity. Of course, this probably had something to do with the fact that pain, comparable to the Cruciatus Curse, was lancing its way through his skull.

"Sonuvabitch!" he swore, reaching up to clutch his throbbing head with both hands. He knew it was ill-befitting someone of his station to use such vulgarities, but right now he was in too much pain to give a damn.

"So, decided to rejoin the waking world, have we?"

Wincing from the pain induced by both the dry tone as well as the sarcasm dripping the words, Draco looked to one side to find his mistress Daphne Zabini staring at him with a hungry expression. Her piercing blue eyes gleamed with the barely restrained desire of someone that was being sorely teased.

"Daphne," Draco managed, his confusion readily apparent. "What the hell are you doing here?"

"I work here, Draco," replied his lover, purring Draco's name in an endearing manner.

Draco looked up in surprise, the motion causing a stab of pain in the back of his head. Examining the room, he found that he was not in Malfoy Manor, as he had expected. From the look of things, he realized that he was in fact in one of the private rooms at St. Mungo's.

"How did I get here?" asked Draco, more to himself than to Daphne.


April 14th, 2007

Malfoy Manor

Since that day when he had first opened the puzzle box, Harry had become well acquainted with the hidden world of magic. This was mostly through the efforts of the Merchant family, who had taken him in after the Dursleys unfortunate demise. But in all that time, Harry had never had a chance to visit Malfoy Manor. It was, he felt, darkly amusing that he should finally do so only after the last of the Malfoys (by blood that is) had passed on.

He was slightly startled at first to find himself emerging from the fireplace and being confronted with the aristocratic visage of Lucius Malfoy. Or rather the late wizard's portrait. After waiting several seconds to be lambasted by the painting, Harry was relieved to realize that the magicks governing the animation of the portrait had never been activated; leaving it as nothing more than a sheet of canvas.

"Draco moved the paint here shortly after he inherited the estate," said Pansy, who had come through first and been quietly watching Harry's reaction. "It was to be hung in the entrance foyer originally."

"As good a place as any," said Harry, looking around at was obviously the manor's main study. "Why'd he move it here?"

"Two reasons," she explained. "Here, Draco could see it without having to move from his desk."

Harry eyed the desk in question. It was at least half again the size of the desk Dumbledore used in the headmaster's office. It was also mostly bare, being simply too expansive for the limited paperwork that required Draco's attention.

"Gak!" exclaimed Tonks as she exited the Floo and spotted the paint.

"That's the second reason," continued Pansy. "He felt that anyone entering the manor here would be properly intimidated by the sight of Lucius."

"I am not intimidated!" Tonks retorted. "It's just that I've had bad experiences with magical paintings."

"And umbrella stands," Harry quietly added.

"Oh, sod off, Harry," she grumbled.

"As enjoyable as you... witty... banter may be, perhaps we should find the other Aurors and get this over and done with?" asked Pansy impatiently.

"Yeah, come on," said Tonks, leading them from the study.

They found company soon enough, as Malfoy Manor had close to two dozen Aurors and other DMLE staff scurrying about it. Despite the fact that the family name had lost a good deal of its prestige and influence, there were still those in the Ministry catered to the person with largest bank account. The Malfoys still had a good sized pile of gold in their Gringotts vault.

After stopping one of her colleagues for directions, Tonks led Harry and Pansy to the main dining room, from where the Auror-In-Charge was operating.

"Harry, good afternoon," said Kingsley Shacklebolt.

"Hello Kingsley," Harry greeted, shaking the large man's hand.

Kinglsey turned his eyes to Pansy, masking his surprise at her presence, and gave a brief nod of acknowledgement. "Mrs. Malfoy."

Pansy more-or-less ignored him, most of her attention on her surroundings, but managed a distracted, "Auror Shacklebolt."

"How goes the investigation?" asked Harry.

"Rather fruitless thus far, but you'd expect as much considering..."

"Yes, considering."

Kingsley cleared his throat. He had never been at ease when dealing with the aftermath of the box being opened. No-one that knew its true nature was comfortable in its presence. Even talking about it was met with no small degree of reluctance. "Well, we've found exactly the same thing we've found every time we've been called out because of… it."

"Nothing," supplied Harry.

"Nothing," confirmed Kingsley.

"It's spooky the way that happens," said Tonks.

"Would you prefer to need a mop?" asked Harry dryly.

Tonks winced at the thought. While she had not been present at Hogwarts when Voldemort had been taken, Dumbledore had shared his memory of the event with the rest of the Order. The amount of bloodshed the cenobites had left in their wake had been stomach churning, but, as always, any evidence of their activities had disappeared once the box had been closed.

"Spooky is good."

"Draco and the others were in the ballroom when I left," said Pansy,

"Really?" asked Kingsley. "We've already had a look there, but didn't find anything. Do you know how many people were present last night?"

"Twenty, maybe twenty-five," Pansy answered vaguely.

"We'll need a list of names, if you would," said the Auror.

"I'll write one out for you."

"So... where is it?"

Harry ignored the way Kingsley flinched at the question. He understood the sense of disquiet that his more knowledgeable acquaintances felt whenever the puzzle box became the topic of conversation. He had once felt much the same. Knowing better than to press for an answer, he waited patiently as the Auror collected himself.

Shrugging off his unease, Kingsley motioned down the hallway. "We found it in the manor entry hall."

"So far nobody's been brave enough to do more than look at the damned thing," muttered Tonks as they began to walk, Kingsley leading the way. Falling in step next to Harry, she added, "That's another reason why we called you; no-one here is willing to pick it up."

"Not even you and Kingsley?" asked Harry.

"Bugger that," Tonks snorted. "Kingsley and I actually know what it does – even you don't have enough Galleons to pay me to actually hold it!"

"It's perfectly safe, Tonks, you also know that," Harry reminded her.

"Perfectly safe? Try telling that it all its victims."

"Well, perfectly safe as long as you don't try to open it."

"Yeah, and Muggle atomic bombs are perfectly safe so long as you don't push the big red button," Tonks rejoined. "That doesn't mean I'd want to carry one of them around with me."

"Do you know when Draco got hold of it?" asked Kingsley at they stepped into the large foyer.

It was an impressive room, Harry had to admit. All-in-all it was perfectly designed to give an impression of wealth and power to anyone entering by the front door. There was, perhaps, a tinge too much opulence in the décor, a sign of the Malfoy family's decline in recent generations as it grew more and more self-indulgent, with a penchant for showing off their wealth.

And there, resting at the exact centre of the manor's entrance hall; was the Lament Configuration.

"There was a break-in at our Vertik Alley building last night," said Harry, his tone distracted as his interest was focused on the box.

Harry approached without fear, having noticed the absence of the forbidding shadows which tended to gather whenever the box was opened. So long as it was closed and silent, it was utterly harmless. Drawing closer, he saw that the box was not the only thing resting on the polished marble floor. There seemed to be a something held down by it, protruding slightly from beneath one corner.

Without any hesitation or trepidation, just puzzled curiosity, Harry reached out to pluck it loose. This revealed the addition to be a business card. It was utterly blank, without any form of name or logo adorning its aged yellow face. Turning the card over in his fingers, he found three words printed on the back in bold copperplate.


Harry could not help himself and quietly chuckled. Picking up the box in his other hand, he rose up and turned back to the others. Kingsley and Tonks were both watching him closely, as was Pansy, though for a different reason. Walking back to where they were standing and fighting not to smile, he handed the business card to Kingsley. The black Auror looked at the card in puzzlement that changed to confusion and then disbelief.

He looked at Harry and asked incredulously, "Leaving a calling card now, are they?"

"So it seems," Harry nodded.

"I guess this confirms it," said Kingsley. "The box was opened and they were here."

"So, Draco really is dead then," concluded Pansy.

Harry stared at her for a long moment, his face studiously blank. He briefly considered telling her that Draco was almost certainly wishing that he were dead, but was just as certainly not going to be that lucky.

"You have our sympathies," he told her at last.

"Thank you," Pansy accepted, out of courtesy.

"Of course, considering it's Draco we're talking about; that's not much," added Tonks.

"Tonks," Kingsley sighed, "you still haven't mastered the concept of tact, have you?"

"What're you complaining about? At least I didn't say that it's pretty much her fault that Draco and his friends are now suffering an eternity of damnation at the hands of unholy monsters," replied Tonks.

"No, no tact at all," concluded Kingsley.

"Unholy monsters?" repeated Pansy, looking incredulously at Harry.

Harry shrugged and said, "Sometimes, to defeat a great evil, you have to use a greater evil."

Pansy considered this for a moment and then nodded. "Almost Slytherin that, Potter." She paused, her eyes drifting down to the exquisitely crafted box that Harry held casually in his hands. "Could I have a closer look at that? I promise I won't try to open it."

Surprised by her request, Harry weighed his options. Deciding not to worry, he could easily stop her before she tried anything, he handed the Lament Configuration into Pansy's waiting hands. He ignored the alarmed expressions on Kingsley and Tonks' faces, though his lips did quirk in a small grin.

Pansy held the box in her hands, cradling it with excessive care. She turned it this way and that, examining each of its surfaces in turn with a critical eye. Her fingers played of the seemingly smooth surfaces, several times brushing lightly over those parts that comprised the mechanism to being the opening sequence. Several times Harry was almost tempted pluck the box from her grasp, but restrained himself.

"Is this what you wanted, Draco?" he heard her ask, more to herself than anyone else. "Well, I hope it's everything you expected it to be."

"I guarantee it's much more than anything he could have imagined," Harry told her.

Pansy looked up as he reached out and stilled her questing hands. She reluctantly allowed him to reclaim the puzzle box, which he promptly slipped into his robe pocket. Harry noted that she was watching him closely, or rather she was watching the box closely; her gaze following its every movement before it disappeared from sight.

He had a feeling that Draco might eventually find himself reunited with his wife.


April 13th, 2007

St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries

Draco Malfoy returned to consciousness with remarkable speed and alacrity. Of course, this probably had something to do with the fact that pain, comparable to the Cruciatus Curse, was lancing its way through his skull.

"Sonuvabitch!" he swore, reaching up to clutch his throbbing head with both hands. He knew it was ill-befitting someone of his station to use such vulgarities, but right now he was in too much pain to give a damn.

"Finally decided to wake up, did you? What a pity."


April 14th, 2007

Madingley Grange

Harry stepped into his home with a sigh, relieved to be away from the hubbub surrounding Draco's disappearance. After spending his afternoon Flooing about, first to Locke Keep, then Malfoy Manor and then to the Ministry of Magic, he had opted instead to Apparate home. Closing the door behind him, he paused at the soft sound of voices talking in the lounge.

"Honey, I'm home," he announced, after hanging up his robes on the nearby coat rack.

"Honey, I'm home?" repeated Hermione dubiously when he entered the lounge.

He shrugged and grinned at her. "Felt appropriate." He turned to their guest and nodded, his smile cooling somewhat. "Professor Dumbledore, it's been a while since you called upon us."

Albus Dumbledore, still going strong as Hogwart's headmaster, rose from his seat and shook Harry's hand. His relationship with the Potters, Harry in particular, had been strained ever since the opening of the Lament Configuration in the Great Hall. Despite the fact that Voldemort's defeat had been quick, efficient and with very little bloodshed (at least amongst the bystanders), Dumbledore had never been able to condone the means through which Harry had achieved his victory. He had over time come to accept it, if nothing else, but the easy rapport he and Harry had once shared would never recover.

"I imagine you know why I'm here," said Dumbledore, jumping right to it.

"Is it too much to ask for a friendly visit?" Harry returned, moving to sit next to his wife on the couch.

"Ordinarily, no, but these are not ordinary circumstances."

Harry grimaced and set the Lament Configuration down on the coffee table between them.

Dumbledore heaved a sigh at the sight of the puzzle box, sitting on the tabletop and looking remarkably innocent in the soft afternoon sunlight. His head drooped down a little, though his eyes remained fixed on the box. "I gather that the Aurors will not be finding anything of poor Draco."

"And quite a few of his friends as well," muttered Harry.

"I see," murmured Dumbledore.

"You're here earlier than I expected," Harry commented, waving for Dumbledore to retake his seat.

"Oh?" asked Dumbledore.

"It usually takes several weeks before you come looking for me," explained Harry. "Draco only solved the puzzle and opened the box last night. It's been barely half a day since they came for him." He tilted his head in question and asked, "How did you know?"

Dumbledore sighed and slumped in his seat. "Despite the fact that Draco and most of his friends had managed to escape prosecution for their actions in helping Voldemort storm Hogwarts when you first opened the box, the Ministry and I are... or perhaps I should now say were fully aware that they would not accept the change in status quo."

Harry leaned back and scratched his chin thoughtfully. "Monitoring charms?"

"Applied during their graduation ceremony," confirmed Dumbledore with a tired nod. "Not the standard ones used by the Ministry, but instead based on those I used to check your own wellbeing during your early childhood."

"For all the good they did," muttered Harry, thinking of his time with the Dursleys.

"Yes, quite," agreed Dumbledore with obvious chagrin. "As you are no doubt aware, however, I have been at a conference in Geneva for the International Confederation of Wizards. I only returned to Hogwarts late this morning, whereupon I learned of Draco's... unfortunate mishap. I came over right away."

"Such a rush for someone that is very much beyond your help," Harry commented.

"Nobody deserves such a fate, Harry," Dumbledore immediately rejoined.

"I was actually referring to the fact that Draco was long gone by the time you learned of his... circumstances," corrected Harry dryly.

"Ah, my apologises, I had thought... well..."

"You seem to do that a lot."

An embarrassed Dumbledore cleared his throat and asked, "Do you have any idea how he came possess the box?"

To this Harry grinned and nodded, "As a matter of fact." He retrieved a conjured copy of the business card that had been underneath the box. With a flourish he handed it across to Dumbledore, who peered curiously at it.

"All problems solved," the headmaster read. He looked to Harry, over the rims of his half-moon spectacles and asked, "Draco left this?"

"Not Draco," corrected Harry. "Him."

There was no question as to whom Harry was referring.

"Ah," said Dumbledore.

"Him who?" asked Hermione.

"You know," said Harry. "Him. The leader. The one with all the pins stuck in his head."

"Oh... him."

"Yes, I can imagine there might be some confusion," confessed Dumbledore. "He never mentioned a name and most of those who are aware of the box's true nature are afraid to speak of him... or the box itself, for that matter. In fact, Minerva refers the box as the You-Know-What and him as You-Know-Who."

"The You-Know-What and You-Know-Who?" repeated Hermione incredulously.

"Most confusing, especially when taking into consideration that most people still think of Voldemort as You-Know-Who," agreed Dumbledore with a faint grin

Harry rolled his eyes and muttered, "Bloody idiots can't ever call anything by its proper name."

Dumbledore pushed himself to his feet, rising from his seat not as easy for him as it once was. "I will inform the Minister of last night's events, as well as the results. If he needs any details, I'm sure he will contact you."

"Are you sure you don't want to stay a bit longer, Albus?" asked Hermione. "Harry was just going to cook us some omelettes for a late lunch. You're welcome to join us."

"As tempting as that offer is, I am well aware of the reputation of Harry's culinary skills, I fear I must be going," Dumbledore declined. By now the three had left the lounge and were standing by the front door. Dumbledore gave them both a polite nod of the head. "Harry, Hermione, enjoy your omelettes, and give my regards to your friends," he said and departed. The young couple watched him stroll down the path leading to the lane, whereupon he Disapparated away.

Wrapping an arm around Hermione's slender waist, Harry led them both back inside to the lounge. Once there he sank into his favourite chair and settled Hermione on his lap, burying his face in the nape of her neck. "Bloody bureaucrats," he mumbled.

Hermione giggled and said, "Perhaps you should send the box to some of them - as a surprise present."

"That's only cause more paperwork than there already is," Harry answered, earning some more giggles.

"Such a pretty thing," said Hermione, her attention drawn to the puzzle box, which she reached across the table to claim. She held it up, allowing the light streaming in through the windows to play against the delicate filigree of its faces.

Knowing what she was referring to, without needing to see it, Harry looked up from Hermione's neck and said, "My greatest and most terrible creation."

Hermione nodded in agreement and said, "Definitely an argument for the saying about books and their covers."

Sitting up, Harry reached around her to take the box in hand. He set it down on the table again and then slipped out from beneath her. "I'll take it back to the vault later this evening," he said. "In the meantime; how about that late lunch I promised earlier?"

Reaching out to grab one of Harry's hands, Hermione pulled him down onto his knees beside her. She gave a sultry smile as she leaned close to peck butterfly kisses on and around his mouth. Her hands reached inside his robes and caressed him intimately. "There's something else I'd like to nibble on right now, love," she purred, batting her eyelashes at him. "Lunch can wait a little longer."

With a grin on his face, Harry picked his wife up and carried her back upstairs.


April 13th, 2007

St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries

Draco Malfoy returned to consciousness with remarkable speed and alacrity. Of course, this probably had something to do with the fact that pain, comparable to the Cruciatus Curse, was lancing its way through his skull.

"Sonuvabitch!" he swore...



Author's Note: I never intended to write a sequel to Evil Be Thou My Good, but this particular plot bunny started becoming violent, so here you are. Whereas the EBTMG drew more on Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser 2, this fic draws heavily upon and owes the bulk of its plot to Hellraiser: Hellseeker.

The mystery, suspense and tension as Trevor tries so desperately to find Kirsty is perfectly crafted. It's the only one of the Hellraisers (IMHO) since Clive Barker's original two that does proper justice to the concept of the Cenobites and the box. The others were pretty much just your average horror/slasher/gorefest movies.

While this story does follow on from EBTMG, I hope that it can also stand for itself. EBTMG still had large parts of the original HP story as its base, with subtle changes made to show how Harry's encounter with the Lament Configuration had affected him. All Problems Solved is an entirely original work, which I think alters the tone of the story enough that it hasn't turned out as a clone of Evil Be Thou My Good.

In any case, it was fun to write and I hope as much fun to read. All Comments Welcome (which sounds very odd to write, considering the title), but please don't expect a third instalment. If I get struck by a satisfyingly original idea, I might write something about it, but beating the horse to death is never a good thing.

Lastly, a present for those of you kind enough to get this far...



Malcolm Baddock stared at the building before him with a grimace of distaste. This place looked worse off than even the most dilapidated parts of Knockturn Alley. The once white paint had faded to a sickly greyish colour, what little of it could be seen beneath the dirt and grime. It was also peeling away from the walls in places and had actually been stripped away entirely in others.

Still, if the faded and barely legible sign was any indication, this was the place he had been looking for. Returning the business card he was holding back into his robe pocket, Malcolm decided to brave the squalor and stepped inside.

Much to his distress, the interior was not much of an improvement to what could be seen from the outside. If anything, the conditions on the inside were actually a little bit worse. The room fronting the building was empty, save for a crudely written sign which pointed him to a half-closed door at the back. Pushing the door open, using his booted foot, Malcolm discovered a treacherous looking staircase leading down into the depths.

"Ugh," complained Malcolm as he descended. "After this, Knockturn Alley might actually look attractive."

The basement proved to be a small room with a single, bare light bulb. Malcolm sneered at the sight, displeased to discover that this place was so far gone as to use Muggle technology. Directly opposite the stairs was a single door that seemed to be barely clinging to its hinges.

Malcolm twisted the doorknob, which felt as if it had been dipped in half-coagulated blood, and pushed the door open. He was surprised to find that the next room was the exact opposite of what he had been expecting. It was perfectly clean and utterly bare, devoid of anything save a simple counter and stool.

"Excuse me? Hullo?" he called, wondering where whoever owned this business was hiding. Malcolm cautiously stepped up to the empty counter, his hand reaching into his robe for his wand. "Is anyone here?"


The voice, soft yet clear, startled Malcolm more than he cared to admit. He twisted in place, drawing his wand and aiming at the source. The door swung closed with a loud and ominous creak, revealing a person standing up against the wall.

It was an ancient looking Asian man, who looked not unlike an unhealthy Dumbledore. His beard and hair were a dull off-white, blending in with the plain white walls of the room. His dark grey robes were of Oriental cut and seemed almost as old and worn as the man wearing them.

He looked up at Malcolm from his hunched over posture and pinned the wizard with eyes as black as the night. A strange smile, as if he knew a special secret, twisted his gnarled face.

With a faint Asian accent, the old man asked, "What's your pleasure, sir?"