Chapter One: Mysteries
"Stupefy!" I yelled, knowing that yelling didn't particularly help, yet not really having a better idea. A jet of red light escaped my wand and shattered against the Death Eater's shield. The Death Eater grinned and fired a Reductor curse at the desk I was sheltering behind. Now helpfully covered in wood splinters, I dived behind another desk and fired an Incendio at the hem of his robes hoping for a lucky hit. No such luck; it dissipated against his shield like a wave against a cliff.
The Death Eater was toying with me and there was nothing I could do about it. Laughter surrounded me. I chanced a glance around the room and saw that Hermione and Ginny were on the floor, only unconscious I hoped. The only Death Eater in the room was currently approaching the latest desk I'd decided to take refuge behind, probably deciding which curse he should use to destroy my cover this time; obviously it wouldn't be very stylish to use the same spell over and over again. Even Death Eaters had class, after all.
Without giving the Death Eater time to make up his mind, I fired two stunners and bolted for the door, keeping a shield up as I ran. Fortunately the Death Eater wasn't willing to use any fatal curses lest he damage the prophecy globe nestled safely in my left hand. Two such non-fatal curses battered my shield; it held but vibrations jarred my arm shoving me against a wall. I continued to run, adrenaline coursing through my veins.
I reached the circular room and slammed the door behind me, breathing heavily with sweat dripping down my face. The room started to spin; I used the brief moment of respite to catch my breath. Too quickly, the room ceased spinning and one of the doors immediately opened. A bright, pure light blazed through the opening silhouetting a small, hooded figure walking through purposefully. The figure was wearing Death Eater Robes, bloodied and torn; it wasn't the Death Eater who had been chasing me before. I didn't recognise him as one of the Death Eaters who had originally ambushed us; they must have bought reinforcements. I fired another ineffectual stunner. It was effortlessly deflected, into the ceiling. The figure looked at me, pityingly and almost carelessly flicked his wand. I raised a shield, ready. I found myself being hurled across the room, shield and all; I couldn't even shield against their spells. I skidded along the floor, and decided to run again. All I could do was run.
I wrenched open the door I was nearest to, and dived forward. The Death Eater wasn't shooting spells anymore; he was toying with me. I ran along a corridor and down a set of stairs, my shield up but still no curses coming my way. The figure didn't seem to be following me, I must have lost him. I looked forward and saw a black veil in the centre of the room, atop a dais. There were no doors. I was at a dead end.
It was hopeless; I'd lead my friends into a trap and myself into a room with no exit, no escape. The subtle warmth of the prophecy in my hand failed to reach beyond the tips of my fingers. I walked up to the veil hoping to use it as some kind of cover or to hind behind it, anything.
No sooner had I reached the veil than Death Eaters began streaming in through the only door, surrounding me with wands aimed but no curses flying. I counted six. I didn't see the smaller one from the circle room, the others must be elsewhere. I stood fast, my wand ready, but I knew it was useless. I couldn't even duel one Death Eater, what could I do against six?
"Hand over the prophecy, Potter." It was Lucius; I'd recognise the Malfoy drawl anywhere. I could see his hard, grey eyes through his white mask.
"I'll hand it over if you promise my friends will be allowed to leave." I sounded so pathetic and I knew it. What else could I do?
"Your friends can leave if you give me the prophecy...you have my word." Malfoy replied. I could see him sneering under the mask. His wand was held lazily in his hand, arrogantly.
A gross, disturbing cackling sound erupted from one of the other Death Eaters. It was Bellatrix. The cold cruel laughter chilled me to my bones; it was the stuff nightmares were made of.
My grip on the prophecy loosened, my resolve was weakening. There wasn't anything I could do. At least this way I could get a quick death, and Lucius might even keep his word. My friends didn't deserve to die.
My thoughts were interrupted by a loud, violent explosion at the base of Lucius' feet. I stared in shock as his body comically hurtled through the air and made a sickening crunching sound when it collided against the far wall. I looked up the steps for the source of the curse and my heart lifted when I saw him.
Sirius Black walked down the stairs, framed against the entranceway, seemingly in slow motion. His eyes were alight with excitement, and his mouth was already forming the words of his next curse, his wand trained on Bellatrix now.
Taking advantage of the distraction, I aimed my wand at one of the two larger Death Eaters who was turning to face Sirius and fired a stunner. The spell hit his unprotected back and he fell forward, unconscious. His friend turned around before I could fire another and was looking at the unconscious form with, I assume, shock.
The shock quickly gave way to rage and I leaped back behind the veil as several brightly coloured beams of light veered towards me. Chips of stone rained onto me as some of the spells hit the sides of the veil, the rest merely went through the veil not coming out of the other side.
I looked round and saw Sirius was still busily duelling with Bellatrix. The large Death Eater was lumbering towards me, clumsily jabbing his wand in my direction. I fired off a few return shots but they dissipated against his shield. He was by far the weakest of the Death Eaters I'd encountered yet he could still shield against my most powerful curses. The other two Death Eaters were seemingly unwilling to interfere with the cousins' duel and were also heading towards me from the side, apparently in an attempt to flank.
There was a lull in the cursing when the larger Death Eater slowed down, apparently to catch his breath. I fired back a disarming charm followed by a stunner, hoping to catch him off his guard, but they still bounced harmlessly off his shield. In my haste to take advantage, one of the flanking Death Eaters hit me in the left arm with a cutting curse. I gritted my teeth as blood flowed down my arm, still managing to keep a grip on my wand and the prophecy. The burst of pain made me seethe with anger and I fired an Impedimenta at the large Death Eater, pushing my pain into the spell. Miraculously the curse shattered through his shield and knocked him onto his back. I quickly fired a stunner at the prone form and retreated back behind the veil, the prophecy globe now slick with blood.
I continued to play peak-a-boo with the two approaching Death Eaters for the next thirty seconds or so, trying to keep them from reaching the veil but never really having any hope. I was praying that Sirius would be able to defeat Bellatrix and come to my aid. The bottom dropped out of my stomach when I saw one of Bellatrix's red stunners penetrate Sirius' shield, striking him cleanly in the chest. His face held an expression of shock as he fell backward; I traced his fall, unable to help. Pinned behind the two Death Eaters I watched him fall to the floor in despair. Bellatrix looked up at me, grinning maliciously. She called for the two Death Eaters to stop making their way towards me; they complied, leering at me.
Bellatrix pointed her wand, almost caringly at Sirius unconscious form and summoned his wand. She used his own wand to revive, silence and bind him in thick ropes. She was laughing all the time, sparing a wide smile at me every few moments. I felt sick.
Sirius looked at me, he was shaking his head; I didn't know what he was trying to communicate to me. There were tears in his eyes. It was my fault.
The room filled with yellow light as Bellatrix cursed Sirius, laughing now. I looked away; I couldn't stand to watch.
After about thirty seconds she lifted the curse. I was shaking, there was nothing I could do.
I tried firing a stunner at her, it missed. She just laughed, teasingly. There was now a pool of blood on the floor beneath me and I was beginning to feel dizzy from blood loss. I didn't even know how to seal the would on my arm.
"Give me the prophecy, Potter," Bellatrix demanded, no longer laughing.
The curse lasted for about five seconds before I gave in, I couldn't let it happen.
"Alright," I yelled "Stop. You can have it...just let him go." I had surrendered, there was nothing else to do. She could torture Sirius into insanity and it wouldn't make a difference.
"Aww, Potter. You want your dear godfather to be allowed to leave? I'll stop it if you do as I ask. Now drop your wand," Bellatrix demanded, still cursing Sirius.
I dropped my wand, desperate for her to drop the curse. Sirius was jerking around uncontrollably, unable to utter a scream. My wand cluttered to the ground loudly, the sound echoed around the chamber mockingly. Bellatrix lowered the curse, but kept her wand trained on Sirius.
One of the nearby Death Eaters summoned my wand.
"Good, Potter. Now see how Aunty Bella rewards good behaviour" she called, gleefully.
She looked down at Sirius, her features etched with malice.
The room flashed with green light as the jet escaped Bellatrix's wand and rushed towards Sirius. His chest glowed green for a second as the curse struck, his eyes wide as his body slacked.
I felt the prophecy wrenched from my grasp, summoned towards Bellatrix, but I couldn't really see. There were tears in my eyes and my ears were buzzing, I wanted to hurt her, tear her limb from limb. I looked up at her, needing my wand, any wand. I would make her pay.
She gazed at me, for once looking serious.
"And now, Potter, for your reward."
Her wand was levelled at me, I ceased to care. My only regret was that I wouldn't get my revenge. I didn't even care about my friends. At least death would be quick.
Light erupted from her wand. It wasn't green, but red. Shit.
I felt groggy. What little I could see was blurry. I hate being stunned. I felt for my glasses, found them on the soft, damp floor. I slipped my glasses on. I was lying in a freshly mowed field. My wand was to my right, lying on the dewy grass. The sun was just rising over the horizon; the yellow light was streaming through the low clouds illuminating the sky in a brilliant red aura. I felt strangely empty.
I grasped my wand; warmth spread through my fingers and into my body. It didn't relieve the emptiness.
I pulled myself to my feet and stumbled forwards. The wet grass lightly gave way beneath my bare feet, tickling the sides of my toes. Where were my shoes? Better yet: Where was I?
The last thing I could remember was the Department of Mysteries...being stunned by Bellatrix. Sirius was dead. For some reason I couldn't make myself care. It was as if he had always been dead. Or, perhaps, as if he had never been alive. I remembered my friends; I'd left them in the Department of Mysteries with six Death Eaters. I found myself not being altogether that concerned; they'd followed me willingly, I even told them not to.
How did I get here?
Bellatrix had stunned me, why would she leave me alone in an empty field with my wand? It made no sense.
I walked towards a row of hedges bordering the field, wincing slightly as pebbles cut into the soles of my feet. It looked like there was a road ahead, behind the bushes. The stones were irritating me, my feet were already sore. I wanted to get to the road. Instinctively, I spun on the spot, thinking of the bushes ahead. I felt like I was being compressed, squeezed. I wasn't worried, it felt natural. A second later it was over; I was standing just in front of the bushes.
I had just apparated!
I didn't know how I'd done it, it wasn't taught until sixth year and I'd definitely never done it before; I didn't even know the process. I tried to remember learning to apparate. I drew a blank, a strange irritating buzzing sound where I felt the memory should be.
I tried to apparate to Hogwarts; I imagined Hogwarts in my mind and spun on the spot. Nothing happened. I remembered Hermione mentioning, repeatedly, that one couldn't apparate to Hogwarts directly, so I tried to apparate to Hogsmeade. Again, nothing happened. It seemed it only worked as a subconscious, instinctive process. I didn't particularly feel like trying to trick my already stupefied brain into apparating to Hogsmeade, so I resumed my previous plan of walking along the road hoping to either find a settlement of some kind or come across a Muggle car.
After wandering for what felt like half an hour or so I stumbled upon an old country cottage, complete with wonky walls and thatched roof. I opened the front gate with a loud squeak. I looked around nervously. No one seemed to have noticed. I approached the front door, going round the 4x4, and knocked loudly three times; there was no door bell. I waited a good minute but there was no answer. I peeked through the windows I could reach, there seemed to be no one inside, no lights on. Sighing, I drew my wand from my back pocket, idly wondering what Mad-Eye Moody would have said if he'd seen me stashing my wand in my back pocket, and pointed it at the front door.
"Reducto!" I shouted, hoping the spell would manage to break down the rather thick looking door.
I could feel the energy going out of my body, through my arm, down my fingertips and into my wand, it oozed out fluidly, pleasurably almost. I struggled to control it, not entirely sure that I should be controlling it.
The spell erupted out of my wand and impacted the door with a terrific boom, effectively disintegrating the centre panel. The remainder was blasted backwards with the force of a small cannon leaving a cracked and skewed doorframe in its wake.
I could hear the echoing of the explosion reverberating around the house and bouncing off the trees.
"Oops," I said, wincing.
I checked along the road again, but no one seemed to be coming.
Wand still out, I stepped across the threshold into the house. There was a small entrance corridor immediately in front of the door, well lit by natural light and tastefully furnished in a traditional rural style. I headed towards what looked like the living room; there was a three-piece suit with a fair sized television opposite. I was hoping to find a telephone, although I hadn't quite thought through who I was going to phone. I didn't think the Dursleys would react well to a phone call at god knows whatever time requesting a lift from some random house in the countryside I'd broken into by blowing up the front door. Fortunately, I was spared this particular conversation by the owner of said house coming down the stairs into the lounge. Unfortunately said owner happened to be holding a loaded shotgun.
"Who the 'ell are you?"
The owner of the house didn't seem particularly impressed by what I'd done to his front door. His leathery, potholed face was wearing an expression of righteous anger. He would have intimidated me had he not been a stupid gun-toddling Muggle.
"Umm, Hi. I don't suppose I could borrow the phone?" I was trying to be polite, I really was. Again, the man didn't seem impressed.
"You what? You stay the fuck over there whilst I phone the god damned police! Don't move unless you want a chest full of lead." Crap. He was definitely not impressed. He had his shotgun pointed at my chest whilst he edged towards where I now saw the phone was on the mantelpiece.
"Hey! Wait! You can't! Stop!" I really, really couldn't have him calling the police.
I raised my wand at this point, hoping to simply stun the man. Unfortunately the shotgun wielding idiot decided that the teenager holding a wooden stick was a clear and present danger and made to fire his shotgun. I instinctively raised a shield expecting the pellets to harmlessly bounce off. Instead they passed through the shield as if it wasn't there and caught my left shoulder, spinning me round and causing no small amount of pain. Apparently protego shields didn't work on physical objects. I really wish one of the idiots who'd taught Defence Against the Dark Arts over the years had mentioned this.
The large chunk missing from my shoulder must have caused my body to go into shock because I erupted in laughter, raising my wand again as the humour gave way to fury.
The idiot with the gun stepped back looking scared. It was either because the blue-ish shield which had materialised in front of him, or the fact that he'd just shot a teenager point blank with a shotgun and he'd just laughed. Maybe it was both.
Furious adrenaline coursed through my veins and I flicked my wand, banished his shotgun to the far side of the room. Unsatisfied I jabbed it in the bastard's direction muttering a curse I instinctively seemed to know. A roar of fire erupted from my wand and seared towards the man, who was blasted backwards into the stairs, simultaneously setting fire to the carpet and the man's clothes. Gaining control of myself, I lowered the curse and put out the fire. For some reason the sight of the burned man's face didn't really bother me.
I checked the man's pulse anyway; I didn't want to be arrested for murder. Fortunately he seemed to be alive, although it'd take a lot of work to restore his face. I then glanced at my shoulder; it was totally wrecked. Blood was cascading out of it and I could see bone through the tangle of wrecked flesh. I was pretty sure it should have hurt a lot more than it was and that I should have been unconscious by now. Worried about passing out from blood loss and not knowing any healing spells, I walked into the kitchen area and wrapped several tea towels around my shoulder as best I could. The pain still wasn't really bothering me.
I walked back into the living room after clearing myself up, stepped over the burnt Muggle unconcernedly, and towards the telephone he had been in the process of reaching toward. I scratched my head for a few seconds, trying to decide what the best course of action was. I hadn't ever heard of a muggle telephone number for either the Ministry of Magic or Hogwarts. Perhaps if I just asked the operator for the Ministry of Magic they might oblige, but I wasn't too optimistic.
It was at this point that I heard several distinctive pops coming from just outside the front of the house. Cautiously I raised my wand once more and leaned into the wall, carefully making my way towards the front of the house.
"Ministry of Magic! Come out with your wand lowered," boomed a voice from outside.
I inched towards one of the front windows and peered outside. There were five Aurors crouched around the 4x4, wands pointed towards the front door. I guessed they must have detected the magic use in a muggle residence.
"It's Harry Potter, I'm coming out now..." I called out, hoping they wouldn't shoot first and ask questions later. The tea towels on my shoulder were now deep red, fully saturated with blood and were dripping steadily on the floor.
The Aurors didn't respond so I walked slowly towards the door, with my wand relaxed at my side. As I cleared the threshold of the door, I could see the Aurors more clearly; I recognised the Auror nearest the door. It was Kingsley.
"H- Harry? What the hell are you doing here? Where have you been?" Kingsley uttered in shock as I walked out of the door, his wide eyes taking in the state of my shoulder.
"Umm, I'm not sure. I woke up in a field just down the road," I replied "Do y'think you could get me to the Hospital Wing at Hogwarts? I kind of hurt my shoulder."
"Hurt?" Kingsley's eyes bulged "What did you do? It looks like someone tried to blast it-"
"Do you know for sure this is Harry Potter, Kingsley? It could be a trap." One of the other Aurors interrupted.
"It's definitely Harry, Burke." Kingsley responded, quickly. "I'd recognise him a mile off."
"Uh, a shotgun. The muggle in the house shot me when I broke in to try and use the phone," I replied, trying to steer the conversation back towards getting me to somewhere where I could get my shoulder fixed.
"Right, we'll sort this out later. Burke, apparate back to headquarters and inform the Minister that Harry's been found. Harry, did you stun the Muggle?"
Burke promptly dissaparated with a loud 'pop'.
"Not exactly- after he shot me I panicked and kind of set fire to the room, I think he got burned," I replied, "he was alright when I checked him a minute ago though," I added upon seeing the shocked look on Kingsley's face. He seemed to relax upon hearing I hadn't burnt the Muggle to death.
"Alright, Harry, don't worry about it for now. I'll apparate you to St Mungo's. Armtell, Simmons, check out the house. Make sure he gets to St Mungo's and inform the Obliviators and Reversal Squad. Harrison, go to Hogwarts would you and inform Professor Dumbledore Harry's been found? He'll want to inform his guardians that he's alive and well," Kingsley instructed, business-like once more.
One of the Aurors dissaparated whilst two of his peers entered the house, wands first. I walked over to Kingsley, blood still dripping from my arm but not feeling particularly dizzy.
When the remaining two Aurors were out of earshot Kingsley looked at me closely.
"Harry, where have you been? No one who was at the Department of Mysteries with you had any idea where you were." At my questioning look he added, "they're all alive thankfully, it's a bit of a mystery how to be honest. But we've had the Aurors out looking for you for two weeks with no sign. And where are your shoes?" Kingsley was now glancing with some curiosity at my bare feet.
It'd been two weeks since I was at the Department of Mysteries? What the hell?
The shock I was feeling must have registered on my face because Kingsley grabbed hold of my good arm.
"Never mind that now, we'll sort it out at Mungo's. You don't look in the best of shape. Hold on tight, now."
For the second time that day I felt the strange sensation of being squished into a tube and whisked along the British countryside.