Mysterious Returns


When one reality exists, another lies just beyond a door. A fault line, a thin crack, a hairline away from you. With a step, you might enter a world not your own.

The veil is but an extension of the plateau on which we live. It has a face that is all its own, though. Souls of deceased beings enter this plateau, for however long a time. Their stay could last an hour or a decade.

Only the souls of purest intent are allowed within the veil. Some are scarred and in disrepair; others are a beacon of light. Without something to stop the truly pure ones, they move on the quickest.

The others, the scarred ones, stay to be repaired. This may take years or a single second. Time matters not on the plateau. When repaired, the soul may move on. It has been prepared to receive perfection in the worlds beyond. Then, also, it may be held back by those in the mortal world.

The truly lost souls never touch foot to the plateau.

When disrupted - for yes, it may be disrupted; the veil is but a fault line separating the plates - the line widens and the crack strengthens.

The door to our plateau is opened.

A slash of red lightning moved through the trees toward a slender figure who dodged it easily, having for seen the move. Adrenaline flooded through her veins and her grip on her wand tightened. She had been so weary before and now a new surge of strength flooded through her. This was it; her own fight to be won.

"Granger, let's move. Now," a demanding voice hissed into her ear.

Hermione Granger paused a moment to send a scorching glare over her shoulder at the fair-haired boy who answered with the trademark Malfoy sneer. Of course, she knew that he was perfectly right. She knew that they had to move now if they had any chance of catching their quarry. It just rubbed her the wrong way, even after working with him for some time now, that she had to take orders from Draco Malfoy.

The leaves and twigs crunched and snapped under their feet but it made no difference. Nott knew that they were here. He was running like they were and giving no thought to clearing his trail. No, he was more concerned with the curses and hexes that they each were casting at him.

The sense of urgency grew stronger within her. Her body had tightened with anticipation, knowing that very soon, all that she had been working for would be completed. All the years of searching would culminate in the events of tonight.

Theodore Nott Senior stopped in a clearing, obviously intent on destroying his pursuers. A flinch of his facial features told her that he'd seen just who he was facing. The shock when he looked at Malfoy was a bit funny but she forced her thoughts into a tight little box and concentrated on the situation at hand.

"Malfoy. Consorting with Mudbloods, I see. You do a dishonor to the Mark you bear," Nott sneered as a greeting, ignoring Hermione completely save for the jibe at her blood.

Malfoy's hand tightened around his wand, his knuckles whitening. Hermione grinned in spite of herself and the situation she was currently facing. It had taken time, of course, but Malfoy and her had formed a tentative relationship. The only one who called her "Mudblood" now was Malfoy and then it was a form of… pet name. She sort of liked it and had even begun to call him "ferret". All in good fun, of course.

"Nott. The only dishonor I've ever committed was getting the cursed ugly thing," he sneered and then shifted positions, blocking the spell Nott directed at him with a well-timed Protego charm.

She watched the two men fight for a short time, spellbound by this display of magic. It was unlike any Hermione had ever seen and she supposed that that said a lot. This came second only to the last fight between Voldemort and Harry four years ago. Then a hex whizzed by her ear and she whirled into action. If only to save herself from resembling George Weasley.

Her wand felt to her an extension of herself. With the words only half-formed in her mind, the curses burst into life. She hadn't let anyone know about this because she would be forbidden to do it. Unspoken spells were dangerous enough without clear enunciation and completion within the tablet of one's mind. This Hermione knew well enough yet she couldn't stop it.

"Expelliarmus!" she declared suddenly and Theodore Nott's wand shot through the air.

Malfoy had him on his knees with an Imperius Curse within seconds. Hermione ignored the use of the Unforgivable Curse and stalked forward, her eyes trained on the now helpless man in front of her. Bringing his arms behind his back and connecting his wrists, she said coldly, "Incarcerous." She felt a certain satisfaction as the last of Lord Voldemort's Death Eaters was magically bound.

Malfoy smirked at her and said, "Let's take this back to the Ministry, shall we?"

Hermione grinned at him, feeling suddenly bone tired and knew he felt it, too. It was wearying work.

"Yes, let's," she said and with that they hauled up Nott and turned on the spot with perfect timing.

They tried to enter the Ministry without being spotted but he Daily Prophet had apparently hired someone to stay on scene at all times. Unbeknownst to them, a reporter snapped several shots. Those pictures ended up on the front cover of that evenings Prophet.

Kingsley Shacklebolt, the Minister of Magic, was surrounded by several people, many of whom had been member of the old organization, the Order of the Phoenix. It was a testament of the love they had felt for the late Headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore, that they had continued the organization. At the head was Harry Potter, who peered anxiously at the door, smiling in relief as Malfoy and Hermione dragged Nott in.

Shacklebolt stood and walked around his desk, observing Nott in silence. He was a tall and slightly imposing black man with a quiet demeanor and quick mind. The man said less and saw much, which, in Hermione's mind, made him the best one for the job.

"Well met, Theodore Nott Senior. It has taken quite an awful lot of time tracking you. I regret to inform you that you have an all expenses paid trip to Azkaban. You understand, of course, that you will never leave again. As such, you've no need for this," he spoke calmly and then grabbed Nott's wand, which had been thrust hurriedly into his pocket by Malfoy.

Hermione sunk into an armchair, relief oozing from her every pore. The adrenaline of a good fight took a lot out of a person. Peering around, she saw that Malfoy had assumed a position much like hers. She gave a weary smile to Ron and Harry as they congratulated her and pumped her for the details of the fight. Hermione knew that Harry especially had wanted to be one of the ones to go on that mission but Shacklebolt had said that Malfoy and Hermione should be the ones to go as they needed the experience and Harry didn't. She was grateful for that now. It had shown her that this was indeed what she wanted to do with her life.

Four people were used to take Nott to Azkaban. It was only a precaution, as they all knew that he would not be able to break the bond of the magical rope.

All eyes soon turned to the Minister and the wand he held. Now was the time when the wand must be broken. This, done properly, meant that the person it belonged to would never again be able to do magic, even of the simplest kind. They were, in other words, worse then Squibs.

Of course, in normal situations, the snapping of the wand would suffice. This wasn't a normal situation, however. Hermione had been doing a bit of a study of wand lore ever since the War had ended and she knew enough to understand that to completely render a witch or a wizard powerless, one needed to undo the magic used to give it it's magical properties. This was an extremely delicate clause and must be done on proper authority. That was why the presence of the wandmaker, Olivander, was required today.

Now he stepped forward and all eye were riveted to him. He took the wand and rolled it around on his paper thin hand. His own wand appeared in his hand and silently, he recited the incantations needed to break that magical lock on the wand.

The moment it broke, it was like an earthquake was happening in that very room. Exclamation of surprise filled the room as the walls shuddered from the force of macromolecules of magic expanded and vibrated the seams of the universe.

Suddenly, the room was bursting with people that had just appeared from thin air. Many people that had been lost in that Battle four years ago.

Sirius Black peered up at Hermione from his position sprawled out by her feet and said, "When did you grow so tall, love?"

Her thoughts: Bloody hell…

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the ideas you recognize. I own only this story.

Author's Note: I wanted to write a new story and for some reason, the veil seemed to be a good idea. I've never written this type of story, so tell me what you think. Thanks go to my mom for helping me figure out the details.