War and Pillage.
Minister Cornelius Fudge had been staring at the piece of paper in front of him for the past hour. "This can't be happening," he muttered for the hundredth time. He awakened from his reverie when he heard a knock at his office door. "What?" he snarled.
"Lord Malfoy is here," his secretary said.
"It's about time," the minister grumbled. "Send him in."
Lucius Malfoy strode in. "Ah, Cornelius," Lucius said affably. "What can I do for you today?"
"It's a disaster," Fudge whined.
Fudge handed a document to Malfoy. "This!"
Malfoy quickly read it. "I see. When I heard that... proclamation from the Gray faction, I was skeptic."
"I thought it was a joke," Fudge laughed bitterly. "But this makes it official. All of the Gray Faction's businesses have officially stopped paying their taxes. The goblins said that the Gray faction businesses already transferred the current trimester payments to their new government. Do you know how much money we're losing?"
"That is... unfortunate," Malfoy nodded.
"Unfortunate?" Fudge snarled. "This isn't just unfortunate. A third of my aurors are gone! Bones - that bitch - took them with her. Some Ministry workers stopped coming to work. They're now working for, Chancellor Narcissa," Fudge made a sour face as if he took a bite into a lemon. "Over half the healers are also gone. And the worst of it is that half the taxes that keep the Ministry working, are gone. And if that new newspaper is to be believed, Dumbledore was thrown out from Hogwarts by the Potter twins, though not before cutting off one of his arms. So that means that we also lost Hogwarts - Magical Britain's most prestigious school. When Dumbledore came up with that little scheme to declare them Dark, I thought it was such a brilliant idea. Oh Merlin, what was I thinking? And what was Dumbledore thinking?"
"Yes, Dumbledore hasn't been making the best choices lately," Lucius smiled.
"You're in no position to talk, Lucius," Fudge snarled. "What in Merlin's name were you doing at the ministry that night?"
"You know that it wasn't my choice," Malfoy said calmly. "No one can resist the Dark Lord's Imperius."
"It better not happen again, Lucius." Do you know how hard it was to get you released? If not for Dumbledore, with his plan against the Gray faction, I might not have been able to secure your release."
"And you were amply compensated for that little favor," Malfoy replied.
Fudge nodded and sighed. "You're right. Now the question is what are we going to do? If we don't get those taxes, the ministry will be in trouble."
"Well, we obviously can't demand those galleons from the goblins. Given the current situation, insisting on it won't just start a Goblin Rebellion. Those little beasts would just join the Gray Faction."
Fudge nodded grumpily. "I know."
"You said that they only took a third of the aurors."
"Well then, that means you still have two thirds. We'll just have to send them to convince the Gray faction to reconsider their little rebellion. It's what you did with the Daily Prophet."
"True," Fudge nodded. "But the Daily Prophet was defended by heavy wards. From what I hear, the Gray faction has heavy wards over all of their businesses and homes. Dumbledore sent a few of his people to help with the wards over the Daily Prophet. My remaining auror forces unfortunately, aren't that skilled at ward breaking. And given our money problem, we can't afford to hire some."
Malfoy smiled. "Well, perhaps you can convince Dumbledore to send his people to assist."
"Good idea," Fudge nodded. "I'll send him an owl."
Antonio Zabini nodded at the pair of aurors that strode into his store. "Gentlemen, what can I do for you?"
"Antonio Zabini?" one of the aurors asked.
"By order of the ministry, you are accused of treason against Magical Britain. Surrender your wand and..."
"I said no," Zabini said. "I do not recognize the Ministry as my government. You have no right to arrest me."
The aurors drew their wands. "I don't think you understand what you're saying."
"I think I am," Zabini said. "Activate wards."
The aurors quickly cast shield spells just as a wave of force slammed into them. The shields held, but the two aurors were blasted out of the store through the closed door.
The aurors cast cushioning spells and landed easily.
One of the aurors rose to his feet and waved his wand at the store. "The wards are up. We'll need a few curse breakers."
"Fortunately, we have a few ready," the other auror said.
Bill Weasley and his curse-breaker team port-keyed in the middle of Diagon Alley. "Moody, Shacklebolt," Bill nodded at the former auror and auror. He glanced around, surprised at how empty the street was.
"The aurors cleared the street," Moody said, catching Bill's curiosity.
"I see. So, what do we have?"
"Store owned by the Zabini," Moody grunted.
"I see. You know, there are a lot of stores that belong to the Gray Faction. Is Dumbledore expecting us to break all of those wards? Because if he does, he'll be disappointed. We can't do more than one per day. Even that is too much."
"It doesn't matter," Shacklebolt said. "If we have to, we'll break them one at a time. I don't think that we'll have to, though. Once the Gray Faction realizes that we're serious, they'll give up."
"I wouldn't bet on that," Moody chuckled. "The leaders of these people, besides the Potters of course, are cautious, self-serving, profit seeking purebloods that dislike the Light, but can't really stomach You-Know-Who. If they did something as dangerous as ... betraying Wizarding Britain, then they thought they have a good chance of success and, they saw profit in this. Some of the rest of the Gray faction are the non-human groups like the werewolves and vampires who see in the Potters the best chance there is to a better future. Others are muggleborns who don't have any particular loyalty towards the Wizarding World. Others are half-bloods that are seen as second class citizens."
"You're right," Bill said thoughtfully.
"They have all sorts of reasons for what they do, and little reason to give up," Moody continued.
"We'll give them a reason today," Shacklebolt said.
Once the curse breakers arrived in front of the Gray Faction shop, they spread around the warded building and started casting diagnostic spells.
Bill Weasley was about to give the command to begin to his fellow curse breakers, when out of nowhere, three of the aurors that were milling around, drew their wands and fired at Moody. The retired auror was already ducking and casting a shield spell by the time the first curse - a bone breaker, was cast. Unfortunately for the paranoid man, the second auror cast a Crucio. The first spell missed, but the unforgivable tore through the shield and hit Moody. The third spell - a stunner came a fraction of a second after the torture curse and sent Moody into unconsciousness. The three aurors fired again and one more stunner, a bone-breaker and a cutting curse slammed in the unconscious former auror. The attackers then pointed their wands at the aurors and Bill's ward-breakers. They managed to fire two more times before they were cursed into unconsciousness.
Bill and a few aurors rushed towards Moody, while others went to check the other two aurors who received a few injuries from the surprise attack. Shacklebolt moved towards the attackers and other aurors carefully looked around.
Bill approached Shacklebolt. "Were they under the Imperius?" he asked.
"Probably," Shacklebolt nodded. "If the bastards who came up with this plan thought they could stop us with this, they will be sorely disappointed. I wonder though... why they targeted Moody first."
The answer to that question came only a few seconds later, when out of nowhere, a massive salvo of curses slammed into the ranks of curse-breakers and Ministry aurors.
"I'm feeling wards being cast," Bill said while ducking to avoid a curse.
"Bugger," Shacklebolt cursed as he shielded himself from a fireball. "Take your people and retreat before they are trapped here! Try to get us some help."
Bill Weasley nodded and ran to his team. "We're getting out of here now!"
The ward-breakers activated their port-keys and disappeared.
As soon as Bill left, Shacklebolt pointed his wand at Moody. "Accio port-key." Nothing happened. "Bugger," Shacklebolt cursed. Moody must have cast an anti-summoning charm on the portkey, the auror realized. He would have preferred to search Moody's pockets for his port-key, but he didn't have the time. Shacklebolt, along with most of the aurors cast a revealing spell and cursed for the third time at what he saw.
The auror forces took a severe hit with Moody's loss from their combat capable numbers. The man's artificial eye would have been able to see that they were under attack by disillusioned enemies. They'd also lost the three Imperiused aurors and the first surprise attacks also got six more aurors. That left fifteen combat capable aurors.
Surrounding his fellow aurors, there were revealed at least twice that number of witches and wizards. Interspaced through them, he could see the same number of vampires.
Shacklebolt decided that his own portkey would not be of any use once the Gray Faction's wards were up. Hoping that the wards hadn't activated yet, he took out his own port-key and dropped it on Moody. Just before it touched the former auror, the port-key zoomed off. Shacklebolt followed its path and saw a sword cleave it in half. The auror recognized the vampire. Luciella - the second strongest vampire in Britain, if you discounted the rumor that the Lord of Shadows was also a vampire. And besides her, there was someone even worse. Bellatrix Black was grinning at him.
"Crucio," the bloodthirsty witch snarled. Shacklebolt dodged the unforgivable and fired a cutting curse.
The vampire rushed forwards, casually parrying the curse and continued towards him.
The auror frantically waved his wand and the ground in front of him bubbled up, turning first into mud, and then into the forms of animals, who rushed forward and leaped at the vampire.
The vampire ducked into a roll as a wide cutting curse from Bellatrix destroyed half their numbers. Luciella gracefully stood up with a swirl of her sword that cut the rest of the transfigured animals, changing them back into earth. Another wave of the wand from the auror changed the remains of the transfigured animals into vines that started to wrap around the legs of the vampire.
Bellatrix first cast another pain curse at the auror before dispelling the vines with a wave of the wand. Luciella continued forward.
The auror ducked Bella's unforgivable and fired a spell that the vampire shouldn't be able to deflect: a dozen metal spikes flew toward the vampire.
Luciella brought her sword down, managing to hit three of the spikes. Shifting her form slightly, she left two spikes to graze her while her left arm, now armed with a dagger, bashed aside a spike that would have punched through her left lung. The rest of the spikes missed.
Realizing that the vampire would soon be into sword range, where he would be at a disadvantage, Shacklebolt conjured a metal shield for his non-wand arm.
As soon as Luciella was in sword range, she tried to cut at the auror's head. Shacklebolt protected his face with his conjured shield, while he cast a bone breaker at the chest of the vampire. Surprisingly, he actually managed to finally hit the vampire, which was spun back and around by the force of the spell hitting her chest.
Unfortunately for the auror, the vampire threw her dagger at his left arm. It hit and the auror dropped his conjured shield from the sudden pain.
Shacklebolt felt something from behind him and quickly cast a shield. A moment later a spell from Bellatrix slammed into his shield, shattered it and slammed into his chest. The auror was propelled forward, but his blood turned to ice as he heard Bellatrix's next spell.
Shacklebolt would have thought that the Dark witch wouldn't have risked casting the killing curse due to the risk to her vampire ally in front of him. He looked back to see the curse and its path, but that meant that he took his eyes from his vampire opponent.
Once his eyes looked upon the killing curse, he realized something was wrong. Instead of flying straight towards him, the curse was aimed straight at his right foot.
The auror moved his foot from the path of the curse. From the corner of his eyes, he saw that somehow, the vampire's sword was about to hit him.
Shacklebolt swished his wand, and fired a cutting curse point blank into the vampire's chest. Hearing Bellatrix cast another unforgivable - this time, a pain curse, Shacklebolt prepared to dodge. Before he could do that the vampire, ignoring the last spell, dashed forward a step. Her sword bit deep into his shoulder.
The next thing he knew was pain. Not from the vampire's sword, but from Bella's Crucio. The pain stopped just as suddenly as it came. Shacklebolt felt his body petrify before chains were conjured all around him. The auror glanced at the vampire and realized why he lost. He could see the results of his last spell. His cutter drew blood, but only after cutting through what looked like a very good dragon hide armor.
Shacklebolt looked around, and was shocked to see that all of his fellow aurors were also down. The ambush had taken less than thirty seconds and they were all defeated.
"Sir," a junior auror burst into Scrimgeour's new office. After Amelia's defection ... or better said, treason, he managed to get appointed in her former position.
"What is it?" the new Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement asked
"Our auror teams in Diagon Alley are under attack."
"No sir," the young auror replied. "It was the Gray Faction."
"Damn. Tell Dawlish to prepare as many aurors as he can spare."
Scrimgeour nodded at Dawlish, the auror who took over his old job. He'd have liked someone else on the job. If Amelia and her Gray Faction hadn't committed treason and left, Dawlish wouldn't have become the Head of the Auror Office. But then again, if Bones hadn't left, he'd still have his previous job.
"Everybody ready?" Scrimgeour asked.
The eighteen aurors arrayed before him nodded in confirmation.
Bellatrix watched as the prisoners were carefully secured and port-keyed to their Faction's private prison. They'd never do the same mistake the Ministry did in the first war with Voldemort. Most of the Death Eaters captured then hadn't spend more than a few hours in any form of detention. Some of the Inner Circle, like Lucius Malfoy, didn't even step inside a prison cell, despite the fact that he was captured twice. A few bribes, obliviations and murders took care of that.
"We have company," Luciella said from besides her.
Bellatrix tensed. "Dumbledore?" she asked. If it was Dumbledore, Harry and Lucy would need to get involved. Only they had the raw power and skill to stand against someone like Dumbledore or Riddle.
"No. Ministry aurors."
"Oh," Bella sighed in relief. "How many?"
The witch waved dismissively. "We can take them easily."
"Perhaps," the vampire answered. "Remember our masters' words though. We can't weaken them too much."
"I know," Bella smirked. "Put them in their place, but leave enough to be able to blunt the Death Eater forces. I'm just afraid that those ministry bastards, Dumbledore and his insipid group of followers and Riddle and his Death Eaters will really put all of their differences aside and fight us as allies."
"And not as they are now - an unspoken alliance?" the vampire continued.
Bella nodded. "I'd feel better if we just put them all down before that happened."
"And that is precisely why we'll allow it, even encourage it."
"Indeed," the vampire smiled innocently. "We are going to cut off their legs and wand arm and allow them this alliance if they want it. We'll show the Wizarding World that they are the bad guys. And our masters will have the clear moral superiority. If we want to rule this country, we need the population as sympathetic to our cause as possible. Eventually, we'll stomp the Ministry, the Death Eaters and Dumbledore's supporters into the ground. We want to come out not just as the winners, but as the winners who had justice on their side."
Bellatrix smiled coldly. "As long as we are the victors, I don't care how we got there. I still think that a spot of torture and terror would serve just as well to educate one's citizens... but if our masters want them to love them, I'll do it. Even if it means I'll have to cast the Imperio on each one of the damned sheep."
Luciella laughed softly. "Ah, my dear Bella. You remind me so much of myself when I was as young as you. I am glad that I... that we once more have worthy masters."
Just then, the first auror reinforcements came into view.
"Now let us show our enemies who is the greater predator," the vampire said.
The Ministry aurors came face to face with the Gray Faction forces. Scrimgeour looked over them carefully and realized that they were in trouble. He had thought that when he and the reinforcements arrived, they'd be able to repel the enemies with the help of the aurors he'd come to help. Unfortunately he could see no sign of his own people. They were all captured, he realized.
From the enemy ranks, two figures stepped toward their group. One of the figures waved her wand, conjured a white flag and waved it mockingly at him. Scrimgeour's eyes narrowed in anger.
"That's Bellatrix Black," Dawlish said. "I don't recognize the other though."
"Luciella, master vampire and Alicia's Second." Scrimgeour stepped forward to meet the two. "Come on, Dawlish. Let us see what they want."
The Head of the Auror Office nodded and followed him. Once they were twenty paces from Bellatrix and her vampire companion, they stopped.
"Black," Scrimgeour nodded stiffly at Bellatrix.
"Scrimgeour," the witch nodded back politely. "What can we do for you fine gentlemen this fine day?"
"You can release my aurors and surrender."
"I'm afraid I can't do that. I caught them fair and square. If you want them back, you'll have to make me." The witch grinned evilly. "But I think we all know you can't. After all we did take out two dozen of your aurors. It's unlikely that your reinforcements could do better than that."
Scrimgeour clenched his fists in fury and growled. "Damn you, Black. Do you think I'll allow this to pass?"
For the first time, the vampire talked. "Yes," Luciella said. "That is exactly what you are going to do. Your forces can't match us."
"The ministry has more aurors than you."
"True," Bellatrix smiled. "But we have plenty of mercenaries and an entire vampire coven. I think that we are more than a match for all your ministry aurors."
"Our masters would find it convenient if we didn't completely stomp your forces into the ground," Luciella added. "Our main enemies are still the Death Eaters and their master."
"Scrimgeour," Black added, "I suggest you tuck your tail between your legs and go tell that flunky of a minister and his Malfoy puppet-master not to mess with our people.
When the wizard said nothing, Bellatrix shifted her body into a more aggressive position.
Scrimgeour said nothing for a few seconds, and then he spun back and headed to his aurors, followed closely by his companion.
"Are we going to fight them?" Dawlish asked.
"We can't fight them with our current numbers," Scrimgeour grunted. "Even if we somehow could, if the Potters join the fight we wouldn't stand a chance. Rumor is that they managed to cut one of Dumbledore's arms. Until we know that Dumbledore recovered, we can't afford to get into a big fight. And then there's that Lord of Shadows of theirs. As much as I hate it, we can't ignore the fact that we're in a civil war not with two or three sides, but one with four sides. The Gray Faction have the Potters, the Death Eaters have Voldemort and the Light side has Dumbledore. We - the Ministry have nothing. We're dependent on Dumbledore and his people. And now we have to rely on an old man, probably senile, that lost his arm in a fight with the Potters. Even if Dumbledore is healed back into perfect shape, we can't really afford a fight between him and the Potters. If that happens, You-Know-Who might just decide to pop in at the end of such a fight and get rid of three birds with one shot."
Once Bellatrix and Luciella came back and gave her report, the twins nodded in satisfaction.
"Good job, Bella, Luciella," Harry said. "We have another job for you. I want you to attack Fudge's house. I want him to escape if he is there, but I want his home destroyed. If you can get your hands on anything of value, do so, though that is secondary."
"Yes, My Master," Luciella said.
Bella grinned. "Thank you, Master."
"This is only the beginning. We'll begin to attack the Death Eater's homes after this. The first target, after Fudge's home will be the Malfoy Manor."
"We'll stay here and serve as backup," Lucy said. "I will begin to interrogate our new prisoners, but if you meet with anything unplanned, we'll be ready to come help."
Later that night, Bella was in front of the Minister's home. The wards didn't appear to be that good, though as any other ward, it still took a significant amount of effort to break them.
"The wards are down," the senior ward-breaker informed her.
"Good," Bella signaled her forces to begin the operation. The ward-breakers and half her forces took defensive positions around the house, while the other half followed her and Luciella into the house.
The attackers spread through the house, but found no threat.
They did find however a large sum of galleons in a hidden safe in the main bedroom.
Bella smiled at what was probably the result of bribes given to Fudge. "We'll take them all," she said. Glancing around the room she grinned. "This place is pretty opulent. I think," Bellatrix pursed her lips, "that we'll be taking everything that isn't nailed to the wall."
The next night, the Potter twins decided to begin their offensive against the Death Eaters. To everyone's delight, and especially Narcissa's, Malfoy Manor would be the first target.
Harry and Lucy apparated high above the Malfoy Manor in their raven animagus forms and started to circle above.
Far below them, the Gray Faction's forces port-keyed in. There were two squads of aurors, two of mercenaries, four of vampires and almost all of their curse-breakers. The two squads of curse breakers started their work. Half of them begun to work on the Manor's wards while the others raised wards to prevent all forms of transport and communication between the Manor and the outside world.
The twins had chosen to attack when Lucius Malfoy was busy meeting with Fudge. Had he been at home, Lucius might have done something to make more difficult the Gray Faction's attack. Even worse, he might have been able to escape or call for help from Voldemort.
With Malfoy gone though, the attack would be easier. As long as Voldemort keeps away from their attack, the attack would succeed. If the Dark Lord came though, the twins would keep him busy until their forces retreated. The Potter twins wanted any possible advantage when fighting with Riddle and fighting him while their forces were already engaged in an attack was not very advantageous.
Lucius Malfoy moved through the somewhat crowded Ministry hallway, toward the public fireplaces. He'd just finished another meeting with Fudge. The foolish man was now complaining about the attack over his home. Apparently, the attackers plundered everything they could get their hands on before burning it down. The stupid man was now torn between being scared and being outraged. It would have been easy to manipulate the foolish man into wasting his aurors against the Gray Faction.
Unfortunately, given the huge defeat the Ministry aurors suffered in Diagon Alley at the hands of the Gray Faction, the Dark Lord realized that if Fudge lost too many aurors, it would be possible that the Potters would just swoop in and take control over the Ministry.
Malfoy had done his best to weaken the Ministry's fighting capabilities. And now, it was too weak. If Voldemort decided to attack it now, he'd certainly win. Unfortunately, the Potters would swoop in and attack the victors. And then, Dumbledore would swoop in and defeat the victors, Malfoy thought to himself. His lips twitched in amusement at the thought.
Lucius arrived at the fireplace, grabbed some floo powder and tossed into the fireplace. "Ma..."
A stunner hit the Death Eater in the back. Two figures from behind the man watched him fall and tossed a port-key on the now unconscious man. They were under a notice-me-not charm until they attracted attention with their attack.
"Activate," Bellatrix Black said.
Lucius Malfoy disappeared, and the witches and wizards around the two figures stopped to gape. It took them a few moments to realize the identity of the two attackers - Bellatrix Black and a vampire.
The witch smirked and gave a wave to the gaping crowd. "Let's go, Luciella," she said to her companion. Grabbing the hand of the vampire, she apparated them away.
Author's Notes: Not much on Harry and Lucy. That can't be helped. This is the result of having an army and an entire economical and political group.
Published: December 21, 2010.