Disclaimer: If Harry Potter was mine, perhaps the British Pound would be worth more…
Aurors Taken Hostage at Gringotts
"You thinking what I'm thinking?"
Bright red wings disappeared over the horizon and Hermione sighed, slumping against a wall. A flash the colour of time behind her lit the room and she turned around smiling at Harry.
"How'd it go?" She asked. The fact that he'd come back and not run off as a hermit proved that it had at least gone passably well. Harry's deep scowl however was set to disagree.
Nymphadora Tonks, Trainee Auror, Metamorphagus, Clumsiest Witch in Western Europe, was sitting on something hard. It was probably the floor. She was blindfolded so she couldn't really tell for certain. And she was tied up so she wasn't going anywhere soon. There was a lot of scuffling around her but there had been for quite a while. Goblins seemed quite content to drag their feet when walking. When the scuffling died down, it was replaced by clinical footsteps.
Quiet rested on the room. The occupants seemed to be straining to hear any word this newcomer would say.
Tonks braced herself against any rough handling but thankfully none came. She heard the panicked noises of one of the other Aurors, though was unable to recognize who it was. The scuffling increased as the Auror was dragged away and then things got calmer again.
She forced herself to focus on something other than what may be happening to that poor Auror. They had all been told that the anxiety could make you snap long before torture was used. So Tonks concerned herself with trivial matters. She only wished she had known Morse code, she could have found out who else was there. Providing they also knew Morse code of course.
Why had she even become an Auror? She'd expected to be laughed out of the registration office, most likely. But then that old coot Mad-eye had seen some potential and Tonks had jumped at the chance. When an Auror looks like he got caught between a knife shop and a magnet museum, you just know they're good. Or clumsy. In fact, she'd have probably ended up looking like that long ago without her Metamorphagus skills.
Perhaps if she got out of this she could just throw in her badge and take a nice relaxing job in a pillow factory. Or a marshmallow farm. But that would easy way out. She wanted to make her mum proud. Prove she could do it. That was why she enrolled. But with the training she's hardly had the time to see her. Maybe she could use the leave she'd no doubt get after this to spend a week or so there.
She was so preoccupied with her inner musing to notice the scuffling had stopped.
Tonks was jerked from her thoughts as gnarled hands tugged her up and dragged her backwards. She dug in her heels, resulting in a horrible screeching noise, just to annoy her captives. After a while, someone grabbed her legs and she was carried completely.
Dropping violently in a chair, the Auror was untied and the blindfold was removed. What she saw after he eyes adjusted was both disgusting and oddly elegant.
Indeed the goblin in front of her filled every description of a creature that might dwell beneath your bed. Shriveled greenish skin. Red eyes. His fingers trailed into chipped yet still sharp claw like nails. His mouth was deformed, drooping down at one side, forming an uncontrollably drooling leer. He was taller than other Goblins. Taller than most humans. Nearly seven foot of unnaturalness.
Yet he was wearing an expensive looking suit and sipping tea from a china cup, little finger pointing out and all. He placed the cup on a saucer and tried to smile. Tonks almost lost her lunch. The goblin before her pushed another cup towards her and gestured to a plate of shortbread biscuits.
"Please help yourself." He said with a slur impossible to replicate. Tonks eyed the biscuits warily and kept her arms crossed over her chest, to stop them fidgeting nervously. "No? Ah well. Still no attempts to negotiate a ransom." The goblin said sadly. "I almost think the Humans don't care if you die."
"Why would you want a ransom?" Tonks asked bravely. "You've got all the wizarding world's gold."
"You are a sharp one." The goblin butchered a smile "But I don't have all of it. It seems that half-blood Potter didn't trust us. Neither did that disgrace of a Black." The Goblin paused. "I'm going to make you an offer. The same offer I made your friend who was in here previously. You can swear your allegiance to me, on your magic. You will be rewarded with money far beyond your dreams. Or you can refuse. If you refuse then you may go… as long as all of the other Aurors refuse as well. Should just one of you choose to side with me then I will kill all those who refuse.
"So do you place your trust in your fellow Aurors to stay true to an idiotic minister at low salary, or do you want to ensure your own survival, bearing in mind you could be sentencing up to fourteen men to death?"
"I'm not scared." Tonks said snidely though inside she was shaking.
"Indeed?" The goblin answered without missing a beat, his smirk conveying that he knew just how frightened she was. "Then what is your choice?"
"I refuse." Tonks said with steel in her voice. "I don't give a shit about Fudge. He can choke to death on that toad woman's pubic hair for all I care. But whether or not I make it out of here alive, I wouldn't be able to look my mum, my cousin or that green eyed messy haired kid in the eye again if I sold out my team mates; in this life or the next."
The freakish goblin merely sneered, having to wipe a trail of drool from his neck in the process. "A most wondrous speech. And yet only I to hear it. I assume by that kid you meant Harry Potter? Yes I have been informed of your apparent closeness. Perhaps I shall capture him and bring him here to watch you die. That should hurt the both of you."
"Go ahead." Tonks boasted, though praying they wouldn't. "He'll kick your ass."
"Potter is merely a runt waiting for me to snap its neck. Just a child and they have the gall to claim he beat me? Ha."
"Eh?" The Auror had picked up on the key points of that sentence and was a little confused. "Just who the hell are you?"
"I am the pinnacle of darkness, the fear that lies in words and the being that shall never die! I am Lord Voldemort!" The goblin, now claiming to be Voldemort, yelled with force. Far from having the desired effect of reducing this upstart Auror to tears, The Voldy-Goblin was dismayed to see she started laughing.
"That just makes it easier. He seems to have a knack for whipping your sorry butt every time you meet."
"We'll see just how s…" Pseudo-Mort was cut off when two young goblins burst through the doors. He drew a sword with his one good arm and cut off the head of the creature closest to him. The other halted, eyes wide.
"My Lord, we are under attack!"
"No my Lord, the guards claim it is a man in a suit of armor. Sir, our weapons can not pierce him, he cuts through out forces like a scythe through wheat."
"Incompetent fools!" Pseudo-Mort cried, digging his sword into the messenger's stomach and twisting it upwards into his lungs. The young goblin squealed, gurgled and slumped to the floor, his life now a slow trickle from his chest.
"I'm afraid I have to deal with this, my dear," He directed at Tonks. "I'll let young Heinrich here deal with you." A man stepped from the shadows wearing Auror robes. Tonks recognized him as one of her squad mates and gasped. "Perhaps you were friends, perhaps you trusted him. Maybe you even harboured secret feelings. It will make this all the more painful for you." Pseudo-Mort sneered again and strode surprisingly gracefully from the room."
"Hello, Nympho…" Auror Heinrich Viskenson laughed at his own perceived joke. "I was hoping you'd refuse their offer... You laughed when I asked you out for a drink. Said never in a million years…"
"Well you've still good few to wait before you can ask again, haven't you." Tonks spat back.
"I'm not asking this time, oh no…" He leered at her, groping her chest as he got in range. "I'll just take what I want." He raised his wand to her throat. There was a flash and the distinct smell of time.
Harry wasn't having much luck. He was in the main hall of Gringotts but realized he had no idea where to go from there. Unfortunately, any goblins he tried to get answers from were less than helpful.
"Alright then Goblin number 396, hopefully you'll…" Harry paused in his interrogation as he recognized the goblin squirming in his grip. "Hey! Griphook? Long time no see. You were the goblin that took me down to my vault on my first visit here. Small world huh?"
The goblin, Griphook, stopped struggling for long enough to look at the winged man in the armour oddly. "You recognize me? Most wizards think we all look the same."
"I don't see why. Most of the goblins I've seen today have all looked different. I suppose most wizards see you as just inferior beings. Probably what caused this mess in the first place. Oh well, I'm afraid we must get on with it. Time waits for no man and very few wizards. Now then, Griphook, hopefully you'll be more accommodating that the 395 goblins before you. Where are the prisoners being held?"
"I will never betray the Goblin King!"
"That's what the others said. Don't suppose you'll tell me anything about this King of yours?"
"They said that too. Too bad." He noted before flinging the familiar goblin behind him, where it became a greenish grey splat on the wall. Harry looked around for a second before sighing and swiping his arm out again, knocking another dozen goblins off their feet and cooking them with a blaze of fire. He picked up a not quite dead one and began anew. "Goblin 397…"
"You must be our intruder. I must say I'm a little upset that it isn't Harry Potter. This seemed like the sort of thing he couldn't keep away from even if you buried it in Dragon manure." The origin of the commanding voice was quite possibly the ugliest creature Harry had ever seen. And he'd seen Ron eat custard with a fork.
"He saw your ugly mug and couldn't bear to look again." Harry replied, not about to give up his secret identity on his first outing. "I mean what happened, did the freak show say you were too gruesome so you wanted to take it out on the wizarding world. Though I must say you've probably improved goblin morale. Who else could make these creepy buggers look beautiful? But anyway, you're stuck with me."
"Indeed. Let's make this quick as I have a young Auror waiting for me to torture her."
"Tonks." Harry whispered before leaping at the monstrosity in the snappy suit. His first blow was parried and countered with a kick to his side that pushed him back a few feet. The remaining goblins in the Lobby formed a ring around the two, watching the fight unfold.
Though he may have managed to land a few hits, it was clear to Harry that things weren't going his way. Not only had he not properly practiced with his wings out, making his current movements slow and uncoordinated, but this Debauchery of Nature before him still managed to flow like a work of art. The Limp, the Hunch and the Withered Arm were all nowhere to be seen.
And his strength was unbelievable. The other hundreds of goblins hadn't even made a scratch in the Hogwarts Armour while using weapons but after only a few blows from this challenger, Harry's chest was being almost crushed by the now inward curving metal breastplate. And he could feel each hit shaking through every bone in his body. He spat out another curse as he was sent sliding across the floor, bowling over a few of the goblins that had been watching. The resulting blockage was enough to launch him into the air where he was struck by a sudden inspiration.
"I should have thought of this before." Harry muttered as he hovered just out of reach. Maneuvering easily around the frustrated freak below, Harry picked up another goblin and held him as a makeshift shield. The goblin in question squealed and hugged onto his assailants arm with as much strength as he could. "I just had to pick the one that was afraid of heights." Harry sighed. "Wait a minute…" Harry flew up into the highest point of the hall and juggled the goblin around a bit until it was hanging upside down by its leg. It squealed some more and begged to be taken back down.
"Where are the prisoners being held?"
"I can't…" The goblin groaned, split between betraying his king and a very uninviting looking fall. Harry let the goblin slip down a few inches quickly. "Alright! Alright… They're being kept in the feasting hall. At the end of the corridor directly to the left of the main desks."
"Thankyou." Harry answered before dropping the crying goblin to his death. It was probably the merciful thing to do. No one had heard the conversation and if they did find out he probably would have been tortured knowing how cruel goblins are. "Alright then." Harry descended once more and landed in front of the king. "How 'bout a break?" Harry asked before using his wings to propel him backwards, over the ring of goblins who now felt quite useless, and towards the corridor he needed.
The annoyingly graceful freak of nature followed with equal speed. It was almost as if it was toying with him, letting him think he was keeping the distance. Well, Harry decided, as long as it kept toying with him until he got where he wanted that would be fine.
Unfortunately, the supposed goblin clued on to where he was heading half way down the corridor and quickly caught up with him, bowling him over with a feral leap. This action was followed by a menacing swipe of its claw like hands that actually tore off part of Harry's helmet and cut a fairly deep line across the left side of his forehead. Harry responded with a burst of flame in front of his head, providing enough of a surprise for him to launch himself from beneath the Goblin King and away down the hallway. He was almost there.
But he could still here the swift footsteps gaining once more behind him. Bursting into the feasting hall, he was startled to find about a dozen or so wooden beams, all surrounded by burnt bits of rope. Where were the hostages? Did they escape when he had drawn the focus away? A regal looking door caught his eye and he charged though it, meeting an almost empty room. In the few seconds it took for Harry to work out what was going on, the Goblin kind had caught up. But fortunately he too was startled by what he saw in the room he had only left an hour ago.
The offensive girl was gone, more burnt rope in her place and the turncoat Auror was sitting up against the desk, very much dead, with too similarly sized triangles, touching at the points, burnt into his chest along with the number 1. He remembered why he was here and turned to the intruder just in time to see him producing an hour glass from Gork knows where and turning it around once.
Harry appeared in a rather less damaged meeting room with two other live occupants already there. One was Tonks kicking and screaming. The other was some Auror with a disgusting look on his face and his trousers just vacating the last leg.
"Urk!" Was the sound that first hinted to Tonks that she wasn't about to be raped. She hazarded an eye open and then opened the other when she saw someone in a suit of armour holding Viskenson by the neck. Then she noticed the wings flexing powerfully behind the man's back.
"Scum like you doesn't deserve a second chance." Harry ground out before feeling the fire burst from his tightening grip, roasting the man's neck and head. He dropped the man to the floor where it slumped against the desk. Turning to Tonks, he quickly set her loose and got his thoughts in order. "Are you alright, Ms. Tonks?" He asked formally, hoping she didn't recognize him
"Er… yeah. Probably. The others…"
"I will take care of it shortly ma'am." Harry led her put of the room before remembering something and burning a rather wonky looking hourglass into the dead Aurors chest, adding a one afterwards
"What are you doing?" Tonks asked the man, wondering why he was defacing the body, not that the creepy git didn't deserve it.
"Leaving clues for my past to follow." The figure replied ominously. Harry walked past her and freed the other tied up Aurors in a similar fashion to before.
"Who are you?" One of them asked, making Harry thankful that the cut on his head had bled enough to mask all colour from his showing hair and eye, even if it did sting like hell.
"Just a guy who couldn't stand by and watch anymore."
"Oh yeah?" One of them joked good naturedly. "And you just happed to have some wings handy for that effect?" Harry shrugged and a few of the others laughed with what could have been small glints of hysteria.
"We can't go out the front." Harry stated to the amassed group. "But if I remember rightly there's a skylight near the other end of the corridor out of here. We need to move quickly." The others dutifully followed. After all, without wands, many of them were pretty useless. They let the man in the armour fight any goblins they came across and he did so with ruthless efficiency, not letting any escape to raise an alarm.
"Up here." He told the other when he found a window in the ceiling that he could see the sky out of. He flew up and conjured a rope before letting it down so the others could climb up. The trip across the roof was filled with tense hope as the almost rescued Aurors half expected a dozen goblins to come pouring out of every window and skylight they passed.
Tonks of course managed to trip up on something and twisted her ankle so badly she had to have Harry carry her. She took the opportunity to pear at the gap in the helmet, sure there was a lot of blood that masked the hair colour and the eye colour but something unnervingly familiar struck her as she looked at the blood soaked fragment of face.
"Harry?" She whispered so no one else would hear. Harry just shifted her weight so he could lift a finger to where his lips would have been.
It made a marvelous picture, after the Aurors had climbed down from the roof on another conjured rope, Harry descended from the rooftops carrying Tonks who was snuggling up against his chest. His wings splayed out either side. A huge cheer came up from the assembled crowd and reporters surged forward for questions. Minister fudge saw a golden opportunity to push more manure from between his teeth.
"I would like to present the Ministries newest achievement!" He announced stepping into the funnel of attention Harry was receiving and forcing himself to be heard. "After its successful field test today, I am happy to announce that this remarkable figure you see before you is actually a state of the art Golem! Created by the Ministry for the safety of the public. You have asked what we are doing for you? I say we are making you safe!" Harry stared in utter disbelief at the brass that man was attempting to pull off. Tonks had even shifted around to make sure she heard right. "Now then Golem," Fudge addressed him with a look that clearly said 'play along and I'll make it worth your while'. "Please release Auror… The Auror in your arms and… report for analysis."
Harry was half stuck. He couldn't say anything to counter Fudge because someone could recognize his voice. That wouldn't go well no matter who it was. But he couldn't just comply. So instead he spread his wings and flew away with Tonks still in his arms. He flew away from the ministry building purposefully, heading in a possibly westerly direction.
"Where do you live, Tonks?"
A tall figure in a suit of armour landed through the window in the Astronomy Tower of Hogwarts School. His amber wings pulsed slowly behind him, working down from the long flight.
"Luna?" Harry asked, pulling off the helmet. "How'd you know I'd be here?"
"The Nargles told me."
"And also, if I wanted to fly to London using a set of wings I wasn't supposed to have, I'd probably use the astronomy tower too." Luna said with a smile. "
"Ok, so why are you here?" Harry asked politely, "I was just about to…"
"I know. I had something very important to tell you, apparently."
"What is it?"
Luna cleared her throat and stretched her jaw, trying out an array of baritones before settling on a suitably ominous tone of voice. "The time for alliance is fast approaching, approach not the Non-president, for he will seek you, licking his wounds. Keep your friends close but watch for enemies in masks. And buy Luna a Slinky."
"Did you get all that?"
"I think so."
"Good, having to repeat yourself attracts Hypoflies." Luna smiled before tapping the Time Turner around his neck. "You need to get back. There's a conversation I remember fondly and you should look forward to."
A/N: Tada! Another chapter up for you who wanted it. I like this chapter and yet I keep feeling the nagging sensation that something is wrong with it. I'd love to know what you think.
I also found my own version of purgatory. The Shinra building stairs in FF7. It was so repetitive! Why did I think sneaking in would be a good idea?
Oh and you'll pleased to know my mafia debt has been mostly dealt with. Now I just owe them my digital spleen. All is well. I am however at the point where I have a big gap between the important parts of the story and I don't know what to put in there.
I'll try and update soon.
Next time: Some talks and a date?