A/N: I do not own anything
A/N2: I would like to thank Shade .of. Grey13 for taking some time off to read through the draft
A/N3: I would like to thank all of those who had taken some time off to post a review. It's nice to know that people are reading your work. Thank you very much
Draco Malfoy stumbled into the wrought-iron fence that was the main entrance to the place that he called home. The blond school boy fell forward towards the fence – the result of nearly two days of traveling to and fro in an attempt to confuse what was sure to be a tracking charm placed on him without eating or resting.
As he was lying on the ground, he raised his head up so that he might see the rather imposing architecture that was Malfoy Manor. When he saw the familiar house – though now it was bathed in the dark, probably as a result of the Dark Lord hiding there – a smile crept up in his face before he fainted.
When he came to a few hours later, he was resting on his bed with his mother seated beside him in vigil. An everlasting candle was burning on the bedside table and Draco saw that his mother was not the only one in the room.
The eyes of the fifteen year old blond widened when he realized that he had seen the other woman in the room before. She looked a lot like his mother, only thinner and gaunter, and Draco – upon making that connection – instantly realized who it was that he was looking at.
"Aunt Bellatrix" Draco said.
Bellatrix Lestrange laughed manically at her nephew, "I am so glad that you can recognize me, Draco" she said, "You would make a very smart follower of the Dark Lord"
"You've escaped from Azkaban?" Draco asked.
"Hardly" Bellatrix replied, she started laughing again as she added, "The Dark Lord always rewards his most faithful followers"
"The Dark Lord broke you out of Azkaban?" Draco asked, and then his face broke into a grin as he added, "My father?"
Bellatrix shook his head, "I have heard from your mother what happened" she admitted, and then she shook her head again for emphasis, "Unfortunately, your father was not sent to Azkaban" her voice rose as she added, "Filthy muggles, thinking that they can lock up a great man just because he killed a few animals"
"Will the Dark Lord break him out?" Draco asked.
Bellatrix smiled maniacally, "The Dark Lord might allow him to roast in whatever prison the filthy muggles sent him for a few months as punishment for not trying to find him, but in the end, the Dark Lord will free your father" she nodded, "You do not need to worry about it"
For the first time, Narcissa Malfoy joined the conversation. She looked at her son with undisguised concern written in her face as she asked, "What happened?"
Draco sighed, "Professor Snape asked us to attack the new DADA professor" he began, eliciting a loud gasp from Narcissa. Bellatrix on the other hand just said 'teach the mudblood a lesson'.
Narcissa turned towards her sister and replied, "The man is Alvin York, Bella, not just anyone else"
Bellatrix blinked, "Alvin Charles York?" the escaped convict asked, "He's a pureblood" she announced, and then she turned her attention towards Draco, "Why did Snape want you to attack a pureblood?"
"I do not know" Draco replied truthfully, "We thought that he would be weak, Aunt, but he was strong" he whimpered as he added, "We attacked him, twenty of us, with the Cruciatus curse, but he just took it standing, he didn't even blink, much less scream in pain"
"You need to feel hatred for your target in order for the curse to work" Bellatrix pointed out. She was sure that that was the reason why Draco and the students were unable to perform the curse perfectly.
Her thoughts on the matter, however, were quickly shattered when Draco added, "We performed the curse perfectly, Auntie" he replied, he shook his head again for emphasis, "Even if we do not hate the target, I know that when you fire the curse, the target should feel pain, he just stood there" he looked at his aunt with horror written on his face, "We fired the curse again, he just absorbed it, and then he attacked us with stunners"
"A teacher attacked a student?" Narcissa asked, horrified, "I shall be contacting the board of governors and I would see the man fired"
Draco shook his head, "The Ministry of Magic knows what we did" he admitted, "I barely escaped from the Hospital Wing".
"You should have gone down fighting, young Draco" a voice coming from outside the room of the Malfoy heir said.
All attention was turned towards the source of the voice and a few moments later found both Bellatrix and Narcissa kneeling on one leg before the man who entered the room.
Draco recognized him and threw himself at his knees as well in deference to the Dark Lord, "My Lord" Draco intoned.
Voldemort looked at the young Malfoy heir and sneered, but chose not to say anything because he needed the boy right now. Instead, the Dark Lord entered the room and sat himself at the chair that moments ago had been occupied by Narcissa.
Once the Dark Lord was seated, the other Death Eaters that had accompanied the Dark Lord entered the room and took their positions. As the Death Eaters were not wearing their masks, Draco recognized most of them.
His eyes widened when he saw some Death Eaters that were supposed to be in Azkaban. His face broke into a grin as he realized that the Dark Lord had attacked Azkaban and rescued his followers while he was incognito.
"Tell me of this Alvin York" Voldemort said in a soft voice.
"He was one of the few who never finished Hogwarts but has attained a mastery, my Lord" Yaxley, an undercover Death Eater in the Ministry, replied, "He has at least three masteries, in defense, charms, and transfigurations, but we suspect that he is hiding far more than just that"
Voldemort mused about this man. He was a pureblood so he passed the first test of being a Death Eater, and he appeared to be talented. Voldemort wanted him on his side and said as much, only to be disappointed when Yaxley said, "He is not with the Order, my Lord, but he is with Potter"
"What do you mean?" an enraged Voldemort asked, "He is a pureblood, why would he lower himself and serve with a half-blood bastard?"
"We do not know, my Lord" Yaxley replied, "What is known is that he will not join your side, my Lord"
"Then we should make sure that he is buried" Voldemort said, he turned to Draco and said, "Tell me of the security at Hogwarts, young Draco"
"There were at least fifteen Aurors when I made my escape, my Lord" the young Malfoy heir said, keeping his face down so that he would not have to look upon the face of the Dark Lord, he continued, "In addition, Potter has several of his bodyguards in the area"
"I was told that he claimed the title Duke of Gryffindor and had married a mudblood, yes" Voldemort replied with a nod, "Tell me of his bodyguards, are they magical?"
"I know not, my Lord" Draco replied, "yet, I do not think so, I have seen them practicing with muggle toys, my Lord" he then added, "the old fool does not trust them, while the bodyguards and their leader, Alvin York, do not trust the old fool."
"If we were to attack…" Voldemort mused, he paused for a few moments, as if he was thinking, and then he nodded again and continued, "Yes, we will attack, now when the lines within Hogwarts are divided and they are fighting amongst themselves, now is the perfect time" he turned towards Pettigrew and said, "You will lead Bella and those who have escaped from Azkaban – they are our most capable fighters – into Hogsmeade and into the secret tunnel under Honeydukes"
"It would be my honor, my Lord" Peter replied, bowing furiously.
Bellatrix, however, was far from honored. She looked at the balding rat-faced man, studied him for a few moments, and then turned her attention back towards the Dark Lord and began to complain, "My Lord, if the rat can tell us where the passage is located, and how to get there, we would not need him"
"That is true" Voldemort replied, and then he broke into a high pitched laugh that made the skin of those near him crawl, "but Wormtail is no good in a fight, only as a guide" he laughed again, "I would rather have him useful, for if he has no use to me, then he is better off dead"
Peter cringed, though he was easily able to keep himself from running away. The traitor knew that that was a surefire way to get himself killed.
Bellatrix narrowed her eyes as she looked at Wormtail, but then she nodded, accepting – just like always – the word of her master.
"I will lead the bulk of our forces and Apparate as close as possible to the school" Voldemort said, "We would provide the distraction while Bella and her team kill as many of those who are unworthy as possible"
"What of the students who are of worthy blood but chose to fight against us, my Lord?" Rabastan Lestrange – one of those who had managed to escape from Azkaban – asked.
"Sacrifice is necessary" Voldemort replied, "Kill them, hopefully, their deaths will teach others that fighting against me is useless"
Rabastan grinned, "It would be such a pleasure" he said.
"It is a shame that Grayback is no longer with us" Voldemort said, inclining his head towards Narcissa – she was the one who gave the report – "I am sure that he would have been thrilled at the prospect of biting many more children, but" he sighed theatrically, "no matter, no matter, we will not need him for this mission".
"When should we attack, my Lord?" Bellatrix asked, barely able to keep the excitement in her voice from breaking out.
"Tonight, my dear Bella, tonight" Voldemort said, he stood up and said, "Tonight, we shall announce to the world that I am back".
A deafening cheer from the assembled Death Eaters – it was deafening, considering the number of Death Eaters who were cheering in the rather cramped room – as the Dark Lord announced that he was finally ready to announce his return to the world. The amount of magic in the air started to double as emotions ran high in anticipation for the coming attack that the Death Eaters were sure they would win.
Unfortunately for them, they were too busy cheering that they failed to notice that the back-up wand that Malfoy was carrying – which was placed on the bedside table – had started to fizzle when the magic in the air doubled. For a few moments, the wand lighted up – though no one noted it as they were all too busy preparing for the coming fight – and then it subsided before a barely audible crack was heard – again, no one heard it.
The miniature runes that the research and development team that the Potter family had placed onto the miniature radio beacon that was buried in the interior of the wand that Draco Mafloy had grabbed as he was running away from the hospital wing has limits.
Unfortunately for those who were tracking the radio beacon, it had reached its limit after it was assaulted by more than twice the normal amount of magic, and promptly failed, magically electrifying the radio beacon and cutting it off from those who were listening in.
Unfortunately for those who did the cutting off, their location had already been marked. After waiting for ten minutes to make sure that the beacon had really been destroyed, the team aboard the galleon under the Black Lake started pulling maps of England to clarify where the radio beacon was last detected.
At the same time that this was happening, another team was trying to figure out why the runes failed. They easily came up with the reason, the runes were strong enough to ward magic away, but it has its limits. The team easily came up with a logical reason as to why the limit has been breached, because the magic was doubled because of the emotions of the magicals around the beacon. Logically, it can only mean one thing. The enemy was planning on making a move tonight.
After thirty minutes of checking, RAF Home Command had been warned of a possible attack by terrorist hiding within the United Kingdom. The warning came with a priority prefix that signified that the attack was imminent and it was highly advisable that the location be bombed in order to prevent the terrorists from launching their attack.
Hospital Wing, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Harry, Hermione and Al were patiently waiting for Remus and Tonks to give their report. The two had been sent to Cuba by Al after the battle wizard had been convinced that all of Voldemort's Horcruxes had been destroyed in order to gather information from the captured Death Eaters.
Right now, the two were still in Florida, but using the mirrors that Sirius Black and James Potter had made when they were still in school, a team had been able to set up instant communications between the camp and their two agents in the field.
Right now, Harry, Hermione and Al were seated on a wizard tent located in the middle of the camp, a rather large mirror showing both Remus and Tonks in front of them.
"We managed to speak with Lucius Malfoy and several other Death Eaters that were picked up by undercover teams roaming around magical Britain during the past few weeks," Remus reported. He produced a handbook and began reading from it, "Based on our interview from Malfoy, we can be reasonably sure that Voldemort is hiding in Malfoy Manor"
"Our electronics data team had also confirmed that the radio beacon that Malfoy had taken from the Hospital Wing has stopped broadcasting" Al said, he looked at Harry and confirmed with a nod, "The last known broadcast signal came from Malfoy Manor".
"Radio beacon?" Hermione asked, confusion evident in her face, and then her eyes widened as she made the connection, "that's the reason why you allowed Malfoy to escape in the first place, you wanted him to go to where Voldemort was hiding so that you could track him"
Al smiled, "Of course" he replied, he looked at Hermione and added, "In a way, we are glad that Shack was the one who led the team that flooed in after detecting the signature of the torture curse".
"Why?" a confused Harry asked. The Duke was sure that Shacklebolt was a member of the Order of the Phoenix – Sirius and Remus confirmed it – so Harry was not sure why Al was saying that it was fortunate for them that Shacklebolt was the one who led the team who flooed in.
Al smiled towards Harry, "Think about your hearing last August, my Lord" he suggested. His smile broadened when the battle wizard, "Who was it that gave us the message that the venue of your hearing had been changed?"
Harry blinked. He thought about his visit to the Ministry, but unfortunately, he could not stop but think about the embarrassment that Al had handed the ministry at that time. Thanks to that, the Duke took a long time to remember, but remember, he finally did.
"Shacklebolt!" Harry shouted.
Al nodded, "Indeed" he replied, he nodded again and said, "Kingsley was our last agent in the Order, and we were forced to ask him to stay put after Remus, Sirius and Tonks left" he expounded on that, "We cannot afford to have Kingsley break with the Order, as Lemon-Drop believes that Kingsley is his main spy inside the Ministry"
"So it was part of the plan?" Hermione asked.
"Yes" Al replied, "I knew that Malfoy would be the one who would be most vengeful of the lot" he explained, "his father has recently been imprisoned, so the blond ponce would do anything that he could do to avenge his father, Severus Snape provided him with that opportunity, and thanks to Hec, we knew when they would be moving,"
"I will admit that we have been forced to move our schedule a bit though" Al said, he sighed and elaborated, "I would have wanted to wait until Christmas break, but no battleplan survives first contact with the enemy"
"What are you talking about Al?" Harry asked.
Al sighed, "I think it's time that we prepare to evacuate Hogwarts, Harry" he said. Harry noted that the battle wizard had used his name this time. Although Harry had always insisted that Al refer to him by his first name, Al preferred to refer to him using his formal titles, though Harry was able to convince the man before to refer to him by his first name.
Harry now knew that Al would only refer to him by his first name if he was very serious.
"I thought that would be inadvisable" Harry noted.
"True, it would be" Al replied, but then he sighed before he shook his head, "but at this point, if Lemon-Drop is really prepared to go to the extreme, then we might have no choice".
"Explain" Harry said.
"We have intelligence reports coming in from Eastern Europe, where he is keeping his army" Al said, "it appears that several company sized units have disappeared from their camps and we fear that they are heading here" Al sighed again, "I do not think that my men would be overwhelmed by even a regiment size of wizard – they tend to stick to their wands – but I want to be prepared".
"What about Hec and the galleon?" Harry asked. He had never seen the 'galleon' before, so he was not sure how they would fare should a war erupt between Al and his men against Dumbledore and his army.
Al smiled, "Don't you worry about the Vanquisher," Al said, "She's more than capable of holding her own against Lemon-Drop, and if things are as bad as I hope it will not be, then we might be forced to use her for the evacuation".
"The other students?" Hermione asked.
"Precisely, Hermione" Al replied, he sighed and then elaborated, "My helicopters cannot take even half of the student population of Hogwarts, at least, not without leaving my men behind, something which I am not prepared to do, so if the situation turns bad, I am afraid that we might have no choice but to use Vanquisher for the evacuation".
"Is he getting desperate though?" Remus asked, he looked thoughtful as he added, "Perhaps his men are just moving to other positions?"
"Let us hope that that is the case" Al replied, and then he sighed, "But I fear that is not the case, and as I have said, I prefer to be ready".
Harry and Hermione nodded. A few moments later, Remus also nodded, though he did stir the conversation back to what they were supposed to be meeting about when he asked, "What shall we do about Malfoy Manor?"
Al merely smiled.
The alert warning that RAF Home Command had received in regards to a possible terrorist attack tonight was quickly filed by a secretary and the location referred to in the report was given a numerical prefix – 6882A.
Unfortunately, since it was only one report, there was nothing that the commander of RAF Home Command could do right away. He would have to wait for authorization from the chiefs-of-staff before he could even begin arming his planes.
Air Vice-Marshall Matthew Leigh-Evans, however, was also aggressive. Further, he recognized the real name of 6882A as he used to dream about buzzing the said area with his Harrier and dropping two six hundred fifty pound high explosive bombs in the area.
The niece of the Air Vice-Marshall had told him all about Malfoy Manor and how it was filed with the worst people who took great delight in calling her 'mudblood'. The Air Vice-Marshall might not know a single thing about magic or what the word really meant, but he knew an insult when he saw one, and he knew that Lily was being insulted when that word was said to her.
Further, the Air Vice-Marshall also recognized the person – or rather, the call-sign – of the person who made the report. It was a good friend of Lily by the name of Albert Blackwood. The Air Vice-Marshall had been told that this Blackwood was an agent for MI5, so he took the report seriously.
Still, there was nothing that he could do.
When a second report came in, however – this time, from the Americans who were interviewing some captured terrorists in their new facility in Cuba – bearing the same warning and the same location, Air Vice-Marshall Leigh-Evans knew that the fates had answered his prayer.
Without even pausing a bit – and before the secretary could leave his office – the Air Vice-Marshall said, "Tell Squadron Leader Connelly to get his Harriers fuelled and ready to go".
"Marshall?" his secretary asked.
"I want six Harriers fuelled and armed with four cluster bombs each" he repeated, "I am prepared to bet that the chiefs would be calling me soon enough and ordering me to launch an air-strike tonight, so I want to be ready"
"Sir" his secretary replied, he stiffened to attention and exited the room.
Five minutes later, the Air Vice-Marshall stood from his seat and turned his attention towards the runway of his base. Sure enough, he saw the six Harriers that he had asked for being prepped and armed.
Thirty minutes later, his blue phone – the one that was connected directly with the chief-of-staff's office – rang. He answered it in one ring and in a short – less than ten minutes – conversation, Air Vice-Marshall Leigh-Evans had received an early Christmas present.
After acknowledging the man on the other end – the Chief-of-Staff of the Royal Air Force – that he understood the order, Air Vice-Marshall Leigh-Evans summoned his secretary and gave the order.
"Tell Squadron Leader Connelly" he said, "that he and his men are to attack a target tonight that has been marked as 'urgent' by the chiefs" he sighed before he added, "The target is reportedly the hiding place of a terrorist leader by name of Voldemort and his men, who call themselves Death Eaters. They are planning on attacking tonight, so this is urgent".
The secretary nodded and quickly passed on the order.
Within the hour, six Harrier jump jets, all equipped with at least four cluster bombs each, left the runway of RAF Lakenheath. Their pilots had been briefed that their target was a terrorist hide-out, but what they did not know was that they were about to end a civil war being fought in their own soil without their knowledge, only for another one – bloodier and more violent than the one that they were just about to end – to take its place.
PS: Last three chapters left.