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"The Ministry of Magic wishes you a pleasant evening," said the woman's voice.
The door of the telephone box burst open; Harry toppled out of it, closely followed by Neville and Luna. The only sound in the Atrium was the steady rush of water from the golden fountain, where jets from the wands of the witch and wizard, the point of the centaur's arrow, the tip of the goblin's hat, and the house-elf's ears continued to gush into the surrounding pool.
"Come on" said Harry quietly and the six of them sprinted down the hall, Harry in the lead, past the fountain, towards the desk where the security man who had weighed Harry's wand had sat and which was now deserted.
Harry felt sure that there ought to be a security person there, sure that their absence was an ominous sign, and his feeling of foreboding increased as they passed through the golden gates to the lifts. He pressed the nearest down button and a lift clattered into sight almost immediately, the golden grilles slid apart with a great, echoing clanking, and they dashed inside. Harry stabbed the number nine button, the grilles closed with a bang, and the lift began to descend, jangling and rattling. Harry had not realized how noisy the lifts were on the day he had come with Mr. Weasley.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, page 769
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"Department of Mysteries."
As the cool female voice faded away, the golden grills slid apart with a low squeal. The six students, Harry in the lead, stepped out of the large elevator, before freezing in their tracks.
In some ways, the corridor was precisely as it had appeared in his dreams. Bright torchlight flickered in the wall, swaying by the draft of the lift. The ominous black door at the end of the corridor was also the same.
The difference lay in the obvious spell-fire marks on the stone walls, and the large splatter of blood glistening on the wall. Small white chips were also embedded in the stone and long strands of hair, completely stained red save from the whitish-blonde tips, stuck to the surface.
"Bloody hell," Ron moaned, while Hermione turned away, looking as if she was going to be violently sick. Neville's face had gone white as a sheet. Only Ginny and Harry moved closer to it. By the torchlight, Harry saw that drops and small splatters trailed away, all the way down the corridor, tapering as they reached the door.
Halfway down the corridor, a molten, blackened mass lay on the floor. The surrounding area of the floor was scorched black, as if intense heat had radiated from the melted object.
"Wha…what are the white things?" Ginny asked, her voice shaking slightly.
"I would imagine they're chips of teeth," Luna said quietly, her mouth turned downward into a frown, devoid of any of her typical airiness. Standing close to the still-wet blood, Harry was struck by the similarity between her hair and the long strands sticking to the wall.
Rather than being turned away from the sight, it only strengthened Harry's reserve. Sirius needed him!
"Okay, listen, this is the hallway," Harry explained, turning around. "Maybe…maybe a couple of people should – should stay here as a lookout-"
"You're still going in there?" asked a frightened Neville, aghast at the notion. Harry nodded grimly.
"I have to go before it's too late," he said, before turning away from the group.
"Wait!" Hermione pleaded, causing him to turn back. She still looked slightly green, but had managed to keep her supper down. "Was…was Sirius hurt that badly in – in your…vision?"
Harry, thinking back to what he had seen, shook his head in frustration. Sirius' face was bloody, but not as bad as whoever's mouth had been blown away. She was somewhat right, but it changed nothing.
"That was hours ago," he insisted. "Who knows what's happened since then?"
"Look, we want to help," Ron said weakly, holding up a placating hand. "But…blimey…"
The red-head trailed off, his gaze moving back to the large splatter on the wall.
"You want to stay, stay," Harry said firmly, before turning his back and hurrying towards the plain black door.
"Harry, wait!" Ginny pleaded, but he paid no attention. The black door swung open at his approach, just as it had in his dreams. Beyond the threshold lay a large, circular room. Every single surface was black, including the floor and ceiling. Twelve identical black doors were set at even intervals around the room's circumference. Branches of candles burning with a blue light placed between each door.
The bloodstains continued through the doorway, splattered about the floor in an almost abstract fashion. A red, fiery 'X' burned above three adjacent doors across the room, giving the impression that the jet-black doors were ablaze. Almost unconsciously, he began to walk closer to it.
"What are you doing?" Hermione angrily demanded of him. Broken from his stupor, he turned to see the group coming in after him. "Running off like that-"
The bushy-haired witch was interrupted by Neville, the last in line, closing the black door behind him. Cut off from the torchlight of the entrance corridor, he would have been completely disoriented if not for the three marks on the doors.
"What the hell is-"
Ron was cut off as a great rumbling noise resounded throughout the room. At once, the candles began to move sideways, the blue flames blurring into long, fuzzy streaks of light, before the rotation slowed.
"What's going on?" Neville asked in a quiet, fearful voice. Harry shook his head, clearing the blue lines from his vision, and having no answer. If not for the fiery X's, he would have no idea where the exit was. They obviously were meant to indicate something, but what?
"What…what are those?" Ron asked, pointing to the fiery crosses.
"They're probably Flagrate spells," Hermione surmised, before throwing an irritated glance at Harry. "Someone wants to know which doors are which."
"Yeah, but what does it mean?" asked Ginny, shaking her head. "It's not like You-Know-Who is going to give us directions."
"Unless this was just a trap all along," Luna offered, speaking the worst of their fears aloud. Her words threw the room into a heavy, awkward silence.
"Only one way to find out," Harry said suddenly, turning towards the middle of the three marked doors.
"Harry, no!" Hermione exclaimed as he reached toward the handle-less door.
Without warning, the featureless door swung open. Harry jumped back in fear as a figure in dark robes emerged, slamming the door shut behind him. For a moment, Harry saw lamps hanging low from the ceiling, before the view was cut off.
The figure standing before him was as large as an adult. His dark robes were torn and shredded, completely covered in blood from rough, freely bleeding punctures. His right arm was severed at the shoulder, dark blood pumping from the wound, white bone sticking from the hanging strings of muscle, skin and tendons.
"You!" the man exclaimed, his voice a croak. His weathered face was pockmarked, blots of blood painting both it and his dark hair. He stumbled forward, raising the wand in his left hand, leaving bloody footprints in his wake.
Staring down the wand, despite the layers of blood, and lack of thick stubble, the face was unmistakable. Several months ago, all of Wizarding Britain had seen it leering from the pages of the Daily Prophet, being one of the twelve Death Eaters to escape Azkaban.
Rookwood went to counter the disarmer, but his movements were far too sluggish. The crimson spell struck him in the center of his chest, flinging him backwards into the wall next to the door, dislodging his wand. Luna caught it neatly.
"Thanks," breathed Harry, still too shocked to properly understand what was going on.
"You're welcome," she replied, tucking the spare wand behind her ear.
"What the bloody hell happened to him?" Ron asked.
"I don't know," Harry said, marching forward, before pointing his wand at Rookwood's heart. "Where's Sirius?"
For a moment unfiltered surprise flicked across the man's face, to be replaced with a maniacal smile. He chuckled deeply, spraying forth a fine mist of blood from between his lips.
"The…Dark…Lord….always knows…except when he d-d-doesn't," he gasped, before slumping over sideways, his body hitting the floor with a dull thud.
"We….can't…escape…f-f-f-fate," he stuttered, before falling silent, the tortured rise and fall of his chest stilling.
"Ohmygod!" gasped Hermione, clapping her hands over her mouth. "Is he dead?"
"It looks like-"
A loud boom echoed through the circular chamber as an unseen force hit the other side of the door, rattling it in its frame. Already on edge, the unexpected blow caused the students to jump.
Ginny reacted first, stabbing her wand at the door.
The spell caused the door to seal itself with an odd squelching sound. Almost immediately, the door began to shake violently, as if something was clawing at the door, trying to get through.
"What – what is it?" Neville asked, terror clean in his voice. With no answer to give, an uneasy silence stretched out for a moment, before Luna broke it.
"We probably shouldn't open any of the other marked doors," she stated, matter-of-factly.
"We shouldn't open any of the other doors," Hermione added, shaking her head.
"I didn't come all the way here to just let Sirius die," insisted Harry, moving to his left and pushing upon the door to the left of the ones marked with a red cross.
"Are you barmy?" Ron demanded, moving forward to stop him.
"This is it!"
Excited, Harry moved into the next room. He knew it at on once, from the familiar beautiful, diamond-sparkling light. His eyes adapting to the bright glare, he saw clocks gleaming from every surface, large and small, hanging on the wall, placed atop shelves, or standing on desks. A busy, endless ticking filled the room. Moving his eyes upward, he saw that the source of the bright light was a towering crystal bell jar that stood at the end of the room.
Moving towards it, he was grabbed roughly by Ron, and spun around.
"Are you fucking nutters! You've seen-"
Back in the main room, another door flew open, smashing into the wall. Slipping away from Ron, Harry ran into the main room, to see another figure in Death Eater robes emerge from the right-most marked door.
Blood covered the right side of the tall figure's dark robes. The silver Death Eater mask was partially destroyed, the lower right-hand corner gone. Behind it was a red ruin, the side of the mouth missing, revealing teeth shattered in their sockets and a tongue peppered with cuts and abrasions. Long, blood-matted hair hung from the mask.
"You're fucking dead, Potter," the voice screamed, almost incomprehensibly. Grey eyes burning with hate, the man raised his wand.
Not needing any urging, the group rushed into the room, a dark purple curse barely missing Neville. Stumbling into the 'Time Room', Harry slammed shut the door, while Hermione sealed it.
Blows immediately began to fall upon the door, the angry Death Eater screaming as he did so.
"You open this fucking door right now, Potter, you fucking mud-"
The garbled threats were cut off swiftly, immediately followed by a wet splat against the other side of the door. Following a moment of tense silence, the unmistakable thud of a body hitting the floor echoed through the door.
"What the fuck is going on?" Ron moaned, clearly terrified, joining everyone else in backing away from the door. It was a testament to Hermione's shock that she didn't bother to correct the gangly redhead.
In silence they waited, but no other sounds made their way through the black door. Swallowing his nerve, Harry began to creep towards the door.
"Are you insane?" Ginny hissed, grabbing one of his arms. Harry shook his head forcefully, before putting his index fingers to his lips. Clearly unhappy, she stayed quiet as he carefully placed his ear to the door. Ginny, despite obvious reservation, joined him.
"Get away from the door!" ordered Ron, but Harry waved him off, listening as hard as he could. Though it couldn't have been more than a minute, every second seemed to stretch out to infinity, his muscled tensed, prepared to jump back at the smallest movement.
"I think they're gone," Harry surmised, lifting his ear from the cool wood.
"Well, yeah, the Death Eater who just got splattered against the door is definitely 'gone'," Ginny said quickly, her eyes darting from side to side. "But what about who killed him?"
"Maybe Sirius got loose?" Neville quietly suggested.
"I don't think so," Harry disagreed, shaking his head. "Whatever killed Rookwood…it torn him apart, like an animal. Besides, if it was Sirius, he would have said something to us. He could still by lying in that room, hurt, needing out help."
Hermione let out a shrill, almost mad giggle at his words, causing everyone to glance at her.
"Sorry," she muttered, her eyes cast down, before raising them towards Harry. They were unnaturally large, displaying terror, along with something else he couldn't quite place.
"Mate, we're royally screwed," Ron declared, after casting a pained glance at Hermione. "Even if we can get away from whatever's killing Death Eaters, what would have stopped it from killing Sirius? I mean, if Voldemort couldn't stop it, what chance do we have?"
Harry wanted to argue, but saw Ron's point.
"Well, we just can't wait here," he countered, desperately grasping at any argument.
"Yes we can!" contested Hermione. "We seal both of the doors, and wait for the Order to arrive. When Snape gets a hold of-"
"What makes you think Snape even listened to us?" exclaimed an agitated Harry, the memory of their confrontation in Umbridge's office still fresh. "For all we know, no one is coming."
"He's right," Ron said softly, turning to Hermione. "Even if we seal both of the doors, it will only hold for so long."
"But…" Hermione trailed off, before letting out a single, shuddering breath.
"Oh – look at this," said Luna from across the room, her voice retaining some of its former airiness. Turning his head, he turned towards the crystal bell jar, the source of light in the room. Drifting along in the sparkling current inside was a tiny, jewel-bright egg. As the billowing wind rose the egg cracked open and a hummingbird emerged. The wind carried to the top of the jar, before the bird became bedraggled and damp again, before falling to the bottom and being re-enclosed in the egg.
"It's…it's time," Hermione observed, her voice slightly awed.
"Time…" Harry said, glancing around the room, as if seeing it for the first time. "Time, that's it! Hermione, didn't you say that the Time-Turner Professor McGonagall let you borrow came from the Department of Mysteries?"
"Um, well, yeah, she said it did-"
"Then this has to be where they are!" Harry excitedly exclaimed. At once, he began to head towards a nearby desk, pulling open the drawers.
"T-This isn't a good idea, Harry," Hermione said, glancing about the room distrustfully.
"Why not?" Harry challenged, pulling open a drawer. Seeing only complex diagrams etched onto parchment, he closed it, moving on to the next desk. "It saved Sirius' life during Third Year."
"Well, fine," she conceded, "but what if Voldemort really is in the next room? What if he takes the Time-Turners from us?"
"If we see him, we can use the Time-Turners to escape."
Hermione shook her head in denial.
"Terrible things have happened to people who meddle with time. The more I think about it, the more I think we just got really lucky in rescuing Sirius."
"You saw what happened to Rookwood," Harry said, moving on to another desk. "If we don't do something, terrible things are going to happen to us."
She went to argue further, but Ron put a hand on her shoulder, squeezing it gently. The bushy-haired witch looked dejected for a moment, before sending him a small smile.
"Thanks," she said quietly.
"I don't like it either," Ron admitted, "but I don't know how much choice we have right now."
Pulling open a bottom drawer on the fourth desk, Harry found what he was looking for. Nestled within a velvet lined box was a gold Time-Turner. It was smaller than the one Harry and Hermione had used during Third Year, but the hour-glass in the middle was unmistakable. Grasping it by the golden chain, he picked it up and placed it around his neck.
"Are you sure about this?" Ginny questioned, glancing nervously at the object hanging from his neck.
"Definitely," he answered without hesitation. Not that this couldn't end badly, but what other choice did they have?
"I wish I felt as confident as you," Neville said quietly, his eyes large. At his words, Luna reached up and patted his head.
"It's okay. Harry makes himself feel confident enough for the rest of us."
Not quite knowing how to respond the blonde witch's statement, Harry instead addressed the group.
"Let's go. I'll stay in front. Keep your wands out, and your eyes open."
Taking a deep breath, Harry moved towards the door leading into the next room, where he had seen Sirius being tortured by Voldemort. It opened at his approach, as if inviting him in.
The sight before his eyes, however, caused him to freeze in his tracks, cold air buffeting against his body.
The high-ceilinged room was a ruin. Wooden shelves lay splintered upon the floor, surrounded by what seemed like large piles of broken glass, glittering like blue diamonds in the bright torchlight.
"Uh, Harry…" Ron began uncertainly. Moving forward, Harry stepped fully into the room, shocked by the sight before him. This was nothing like what his vision had shown. In it, the room had been pristine. Here, it looked almost like all of the shelves on the right side of the room had been destroyed. The shelves still standing on the opposite side of the room were tall, each level covered in small, dusty, glass orbs. Candle brackets set at intervals between the shelves burned with a blue glow, similar to the ones in the circular room.
Among the broken ruin of the room, an almost unbearably foreboding atmosphere had settled into the air. With the tell-tale marks of stray spell-fire scorched onto the walls and shelving, it felt like stumbling onto a battlefield where no one had survived.
"Is this the room?" Hermione asked quietly.
"Yeah, this is where I saw Sirius, but…."
"It doesn't feel like anyone's in here," Ginny finished.
Harry found himself agreeing completely. This felt more like a tomb than anything else. Swallowing deeply, he stepped further into the room.
"Let's check the room," he said, trying to sound brave. "There might be another exit through here."
The group started off moving right, picking their way through the wreckage of the room. They could almost smell the magical discharge associated with large amounts of magic being channeled. Whatever had happened here, they hadn't missed it by much.
Climbing over an upended shelf, Harry reached another door.
"Where do you think it goes?" Hermione asked, her voice trembling slightly.
"Hopefully out of here," Harry answered, pushing against the door, an effort which proved futile. The door budged the smallest fraction of an inch, but little else.
Harry shook his head at Ron's question.
"Someone sealed the door."
"Who?" Ginny asked, throwing up her hands. "There's no one here!"
"Unless someone sealed it from the other side," Harry said distractedly, staring at the door.
"That's reassuring," Ron said darkly. "So whoever sealed it is either still in here with us, or they sealed it keep something in here. Great."
"Ron!" Ginny said sharply. "This place is huge, and the door could have been sealed hours ago."
Ron reddened slightly at his sister's reprimand, but kept his mouth shut.
"She's right, this place is huge. Let's split up, we can cover more ground that way."
"You really are barmy," Ron said, almost reverently, shaking his head. "Fine, me, Hermione and Ginny will take this side, you guys can take the other."
With a nod of assessment, the two groups split up. Luna seemed merely anxious as they walked, but Neville seemed to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown. His eyes darted about wildly as they walked, like a caged animal, and he was talking under his breath, so quietly that Harry couldn't make out any of the words.
"Neville, I'm going to get you out of here," Harry assured, glancing at the chubby teen.
Neville nodded, a sickly, forced grin upon his face, but said nothing else.
"What do you think this room is for, Luna?" Harry asked after a moment of silence, climbing over yet another downed shelf.
"Why, each one is a universe," Luna answered, as if it were unquestionable. "It's sad; with one shelf tipping millions of worlds are upset, none who had anything to do with this. I hope that no one knocks over the shelf our world sits on."
"I never thought of that," Harry admitted after a moment's hesitation, climbing over the last of the downed shelves, making it over to the left side of the room, which seemed to be free of the damage inflicted to the right.
"You have a lot of things to think about," Luna said matter-of-factly, following Harry as he took a left, walking in the dimly lit aisle between the shelves. "Your mind is always so busy, sometimes it misses things."
Harry nodded distractedly as they turned a corner. Being the first in line, he immediately froze in his tracks, causing Neville and Luna to walk into him. A moment later, Neville let out a strangled groan.
In the far corner of the room, against the wall, the bodies of what used to be three Death Eaters lay. Blood pooled out all around the area, having run from the eviscerated, hacked bodies. None of the three had all of their limbs completely intact, with the largest of them missing their head. A small pile of fine particles of smashed glass lay next to them, an anomaly in the relatively destruction-free portion of the room.
"I don't know how much more of this I can take!" Neville burst out, sounding like he was on the verge of a breakdown.
"Neville, you're doing fine," Harry assured, before creeping closer to the bodies, his boots squelching in the blood.
"Harry, what are you doing?" Luna asked, sounding mystified.
"I see something," he distractedly answered. He was rather grossed out by the sight, but knew that everything was riding on his shoulders. If he didn't take charge and either figure out what was going on, or find a way out, he didn't know if they'd make it out of the Department of Mysteries alive.
One of the stray arms, which had large, behemoth-like musculature, held something familiar grasped tightly in its fist. Trying to ignore the ragged flesh and tendons hanging from the severed arm, and the protruding bone, he pulled the object from the hand, and held it up to the light.
It was a red and gold Gryffindor tie, soaked through with blood.
"What the bloody hell is that doing there?" Neville exclaimed, moving closer.
Harry had no answer, staring at the tie in confusion. There was no way that other students would have gotten there before them.
"Whose tie is that?" Luna asked, the bare edge of fear beginning to creep into her voice.
"I…I don't know," Harry replied, completely mystified. Neville's eyes settled on the tie for a moment, before his eyes wandered further down the aisle.
"Impossible!" Neville furiously whispered, running further into the gloom.
"What is it?" Harry asked, darting after Neville, fear clawing at his mind. As he did, he saw Neville pick up something from the floor, and hold it up into the blue candlelight.
"It's…it's my wand," stuttered Neville, holding up a carbon copy of his father's oak wand.
No sooner had the words left his mouth, a gigantic crack tore through the air. Whirling around, Harry saw the gigantic shelf above them begin to fall, spilling glass spheres onto the floor.
Luna, not having moved, was out of range, but the shadow of the wide shelf completely covered the two teens. There was no way they'd make it out before they were crushed.
Thinking quickly, Harry withdrew the Time-Turner. He wrapped the chain around both of their necks, before turning it once, a glass globe just barely missing them.
The world instantly disappeared.
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With a gasp of surprise, Harry arrived back in the Department of Mysteries. His legs wobbled considerably, as using the Time-Turner had felt like being inside a tornado for the briefest of moments, before being spat back out.
Darting his head around, Harry observed that the large room bore none of the scars of war evident before. From his limited vantage point, he didn't see a single shining particle of broken glass, nor any spell-fire burns upon the wall.
Best of all, there was no shelf about to fall on their heads.
"How far back did we go?" Neville asked, wide-eyed.
"I…I'm not sure," Harry admitted, thinking back to Third Year. In the Infirmary, Dumbledore had said that two turns would be adequate. Maybe it meant that each turn was an hour.
"One hour, I think," he hesitantly stated.
Neville's eyes widened in surprise. It was one thing to be told about time travel, but an entirely different one to experience it for one's self.
"What should we do now?"
Harry thought for a second before answering. Hermione had done the majority of the planning the last time he had used a Time-Turner. Trying to force himself to think, he began to trace the steps that she had laid out for them.
"Well, we have to be in this room when the shelf falls, so we can stop it, but we also can't let ourselves be seen by…ourselves," he awkward finished, fully aware of how ludicrous the statement sounded.
"Okay," Neville agreed, taking a deep breath, an act which seemed to calm the young teen slightly. What should we do until then?"
As he spoke, he withdrew his wand, clutching it tightly. It was indeed identical to the one they had found lying on the floor, a fact that began to unnerve Harry even more. Was the bloodstained Gryffindor tie they found Neville's too?
"This is exactly how the room looked in my dreams. I want to see if Sirius is here, too."
"Harry, there are Death Eaters here!" Neville hissed. "Don't you think this is all a trap?"
Harry was silent for a moment. He had been running from it ever since they arrived in the Department of Mysteries, but more and more it was beginning to appear that Sirius had never been here, and that he may have foolishly led his friends to their deaths.
"Yeah, I think so," Harry admitted with a heavy, defeated sigh. "But we're here, and I think we should at least search this room for Sirius, just in case."
"Fine. We're not splitting up, though," Neville firmly stated.
"No, we're definitely not."
With that, they walked to the end of the row. Beneath the branch of blue-flamed candles protruding from the wall of the shelf a silver number 'One' glimmered.
When first entering the room, the sight of ruin had thrown him off, but thinking back to his dream, he remembered there being a silver 'Ninety-Seven' on the end of the row where Sirius had been tortured.
"This way," Harry urged, making his way to the right of the room. Their boots clacked on the pristine, shining floor, the sound echoing ominously through the high-ceilinged room. Reaching the right-hand side of the room, he was once again struck by how clean it all seemed. There was absolutely no trace of the destruction he had glimpsed a mere hour into the future.
"Ninety-seven!" whispered Neville, pointed to a shelf up ahead. Harry nodded in response, not trusting himself to speak. His heart hammered in his chest, terrified of what he was going to find in the aisle. Taking a deep breath, he turned into the aisle.
It was completely empty.
"No…no…" Harry whispered, walking deeper into the darkness. He passed by countless globes, some glowing with an eerie pulse of liquid light, some as dead as stone, but there was still no sign of Sirius. Only dust, glass and darkness.
"Harry…I don't think anyone's here," Neville said quietly.
"No, there's not," agreed Harry, his voice heavy. It had all been a trap. Sirius never was here.
He had led them all on a fool's errand.
"I'm so sorry, Neville. I-"
"Harry, come here," Neville urged, as if not paying attention. There was an awed, slightly mystified quality to his friend's voice that intrigued him.
"What is it?" he asked, jogging down the aisle to where Neville was standing, intently looking at one of the shelves.
"It's – it's got your name on it."
Harry followed Neville's index finger, which was pointing at one of the dull, dusty spheres. It glowed with a faint inner light, but was otherwise unremarkable.
Stepping forward, he stood on his tip-toes to read the yellowed label stuck to the shelf right below the small glass ball. In spidery writing was written a date sixteen years prior, and below that:
S.P.T. to A.P.W.B.D.
And (?) Harry Potter
Harry stared at the label, trying to make some sort of sense of it, but coming up short. What was his name doing down here?
"Is anyone else's name down here?" he asked, turning to Neville, who shook his head in response.
"No, just you – don't touch it!"
Neville, his round face already shining with sweat, reached forward to stop him, but Harry was closer to the sphere.
"It's got my name on it," he said, taking the glass sphere from the shelf. Due to the atmosphere, he expected it to feel cold, but instead it felt warm, as if it had been lying in the sun for hours. Neville held his breath, as if expecting a cataclysm of sorts, or thunder and lightning, but there was no reaction as he held it in his hands.
"It's just a piece of glass, Neville," he assured, holding it up for his friend to see clearly.
"I don't like it," Neville said firmly, eyeing the sphere mistrustfully. "Your dream led you right to this spot. What if that thing brought you here?"
Harry eyed it doubtfully. It was only…well, what was it, really? What made it important enough to be placed in the Department of Mysteries?
Without warning, they heard a nearby door fly open, striking the wall with a bang. Multiple pairs of heavy footsteps ran through.
"Shut the fucking door, Crabbe!" a loud voice gasped breathlessly. The door immediately slammed shut, the reverberation echoing throughout the room.
Harry heard the door seal close with a squelch, followed by multiple pants of exertion.
"I don't fuckin' believe it!" a rough-sounding voice breathlessly bellowed. "How could-"
"It's impossible, Macnair" a quieter, more refined voice answered, followed by a grunt of assertion.
"I ain't never seen anything like that before," Macnair answered, fear evident in his voice. "We're lucky we ain't dead like the rest of 'em. It was like fighting a fuckin' ghost."
"That was no ghost."
"I fuckin' know that, Nott," Macnair irritably replied. "Ghosts don't-"
Suddenly, as if his sinuses had ambushed him, Neville let out a small sneeze. He immediately clapped his hands over his mouth, his eyes wide with terror, but it was too late.
"Shite!" snarled Macnair from the other side of the stacks. "Come on out, ye bastard!" Footsteps thundered on the dark floor as they moved.
At once, Harry thrust his wand forward.
The crimson spell struck the shelf, exploding it in a rain of glass and splinters. At once, the entire shelf began to sway dangerously, glass spheres toppling off the wobbly structure.
"Get back!" Harry yelled, dragging Neville backwards, out of the aisle. For a moment, they saw Walden Macnair, black robes billowing, his eyes bulging with fury, before the shelf toppled over, blocking the view. The echo of shattering glass spilled out over the entire room, like some sort of discordant symphony.
The two teens walked backwards, side-to-side, launching Reductor Curses as they went, hoping to bury the three Death Eaters in wood and glass. Glass fell like rain as they fell all the way back to the other side, cutting a wide swathe of destruction through the room.
Without warning, two spells flew out of the approaching cloud of dust. Harry rolled out of the way, into one of the aisles, but the second spell struck Neville, sending the boy flying backwards. His wand skidded out of his grasp as he hit the ground hard, sliding up against the left-hand wall.
Harry went to dart back out, only to see the large form of Macnair stomp by. Neville went to scramble after his wand, but Macnair delivered a vicious kick to Neville's midsection, driving the wind from him in a loud whoosh. Reaching down with a muscular, ripped arm, Macnair grabbed Neville's crimson and gold tie, lifting him up by it.
"Looks like you've found one of Potter's little friends," Nott said, coming up from behind Macnair, walking past Harry.
"Looks like it," Macnair agreed with a nod. Leaning over, he put his face closer to Neville's. "Where the fuck is Potter!"
Harry, desperately concerned for Neville, wanted to help his friend, but didn't know where the third Death Eater was.
Neville, gasping for breath and unable to speak, shook his head violently from side-to-side. At once, Macnair pulled Neville closer with his left hand, while his right fist smashed directly into Neville's nose. The crimson and gold tie snapped as the sound of a breaking plate echoed throughout the room. The teen immediately crumpled backwards to the ground, his misshapen nose pouring blood, his eyes vague and unfocused.
It was more than Harry could take. He stepped out of the darkness, pointing his wands at the two Death Eaters' backs.
"Get away from Neville."
"You better watch where you're pointing that thing," Macnair said without turning around. "Or somebody might get hurt."
As he spoke, his wand began to inch upwards, as if preparing to cast.
"Don't move or I'll break this," threatened Harry, playing a hunch and holding the glass sphere up with his non-wand hand.
"Go ahead, there's plenty of those in here," Nott said dismissively, shrugging slightly. The Death Eater's apparent nonchalance caused a cold sweat to break out across Harry's brow. Had he misjudged the sphere's significance?
Hearing faraway footsteps to his right, Harry cast his gaze down the aisle to see another hulking Death Eater approaching, a mask covering his face.
"He's got the Prophecy!" the third Death Eater exclaimed, drawing closer. Spinning his eyes back forward, a small feeling of satisfaction filled Harry as he saw that Nott had slumped slightly at the words.
"Thanks, Crabbe," Nott wearily deadpanned.
"You're going to give that to us," Macnair growled, his voice deadly.
"Am I?" questioned Harry, spinning his wand back to the right and pointing it at the oafish Death Eater. "Don't move, Crabbe!"
As he turned, he saw a familiar face peering at him from between the shelves, wand pointing forward, with an intent expression upon his face.
Harry's own, complete with gleaming green eyes, thick glasses and lightning bolt scar.
The sight momentarily distracted him, causing him to freeze for a moment. At once, Nott swung around, launching a hex. It struck Harry in the chest, tossing him backwards.
Harry hit the ground hard as the Prophecy flew from his fingers. With the angry, reddened, black-mustached face of Macnair bearing down upon him, Harry quickly reached for the Time-Turner hanging around his neck, giving it a single turn.
"Hang on, Neville," he urged, before disappearing.
X-X-X-X-X-X -|- X-X-X-X-X-X -|- X-X-X-X-X-X
Brass Time-Turner clutched tightly in his hand, Harry arrived back in the large, cold room, his purpose clear.
And a familiar one it was.
He's done this all before. It's just like Third Year, when he cast the Patronus that saved both Sirius and himself. He would just have to be there at the exact moment, roughly an hour in the future, when the three Death Eaters would corner Neville and himself. A few quick, whispered stunners and everything would be back on track.
While the plan seemed fine initially, a smaller voice at the back of mind asked about the mangled state of the bodies.
Was he the one who had ripped them limb from limb?
Harry banished the thought as soon as it appeared. Not only did he not know spells that vicious, there was no way he would ever do that to another human being. After he saved Neville, whatever had mangled Rookwood must have come back and ripped apart the unconscious bodies.
"Not my problem," Harry whispered to himself, his voice sounding faint among the open space. All he was going to do was stun them. Whatever happened after that was out of his hands. Besides, it wasn't like Death Eaters getting killed off was a tragedy.
Wrapping his arms around himself to ward off the chill, he began to walk the dark aisles of the large room, which once again were completely undisturbed. Idly, he scanned the yellowing labels upon the shelves, searching for other references to his name, but he found nothing of the sort.
Stopping in front of the yellowed label bearing his name, a question mark and two unknown sets of initials, he glanced at the dull, dusty sphere. The 'Prophecy', as the Death Eaters had referred to it. It seemed like the 'Dark Lord' was Voldemort, but other than that…what sort of prophecy involved the two of them? Did it have something to do with the seemingly inexplicable circumstances of his survival of the killing curse? And if it did, why did the Department of Mysteries have it?
His green eyes regarded the dusty glass ball for a few minutes, but if there were secrets to be revealed from it, they remained hidden from sight. Sighing, he began to consider his next move.
Harry wasn't certain, but it seemed like the red crosses upon the doors were a warning. Behind two of the marked door had come Death Eaters, both mangled in some way. Maybe behind the three doors was where the thing killing the Death Eaters was located?
At once, he started back towards the Time Room, before hesitating. He didn't really have much of a sense of time without his watch, and if he ran into the six members of Sirius' rescue mission before it was time, it could undo everything. Instead, he opted for the door on the far right of the room.
The room beyond the door was as dark as moonless night. Even though he felt his footwear clacking on the floor, it appeared as though he was walking upon an invisible ledge over the deepest chasm.
The only visible objects in the room were the door directly across from the one he had entered through, and a slowly rotating planet. With deliberate motion it traveled without sound, throwing off a slight glow. The outer-most one was a deep blue, roughly four feet across.
Standing, watching the moving planet, it began to fade from view, darkness beginning to swallow it. Moving forward, it came back into view slightly, only for a larger, brown planet with rings surrounding it to materialize out of the gloom instead. Saturn. It too began to fade from view, giving the impression that it was the very air itself that was consuming the light, limiting one's visibility.
As he slowly moved forward, he began to hear a slight patter of liquid, the first disturbance in the tomb-like silence of the room. Cautiously, he crept towards the noise, wand held at ready, his heart pumping furiously within his chest.
Out of the gloom materialized a wide yellow sphere, eight feet in diameter. In the center, slightly obscuring the light from the model of the sun was a crucified Death Eater. Long strips of metal had been punched through his hands and feet, elevating the body a foot off the ground. The pull of gravity had already begun its work, as the bloody, ragged holes in his palms had torn almost all the way through.
From chest to groin he had been split, with the broken, split ribs bent backwards, revealing a mostly hollow, red cavity. Nearly all of his entrails had spilled out onto the floor, leaving a grotesque mound of crimson behind.
With nausea churning in his stomach and shock beginning to creep it, Harry looked up slightly to see another familiar Azkaban escapee.
Rodolphus Lestrange's eyes were almost comically bugged out, his face eternally frozen in a rictus of agony and terror. A symbol had been meticulously carved into his forehead, consisting of a circle with a vertical line through it, placed into the center of a triangle.
For a moment, paralysis gripped Harry, freezing him in place. He wanted to flee, to get as far away from the sight as possible, but he found himself unable. What sort of thing could possibly do this? This was no animal attack, as the wounds on the previous Death Eaters had suggested. This was planned, the type of sadism that was beyond animalistic instinct.
Without warning, Harry heard the unmistakable sound of a door on the far side of the room opening. Immediately broken from his paralysis, he turned and sprinted in the opposite direction. Terror clouded his thoughts, filled with visions of a Dark Wizard coming after him.
Consumed with escaping, he took a right without thinking, to the closer of the two doors on the far end of the room. Bursting through it, he froze in his tracks.
The next room was almost too bright in comparison with the Planet Room, illuminated by low-hanging lamps hanging on golden chains suspended from the ceiling. A few desks were pushed up against the wall of the room, with large tanks, filled with deep-green water upon them. In the center of the room, twenty feet in length, was what once may have been a tank, dwarfing the ones on the side.. Shattered glass surrounded the base, as did a large amount of puddled water.
Before Harry's disbelieving eyes, he saw what looked like large, slimy cauliflowers flying through the air. Ribbons of moving images trailed behind them, like tentacles formed by film. Most of them were hovered near the ceiling, darting quickly back and forth. A yellow spell struck one of the slower moving ones, splattering it mid-air.
On the other side of the broken tank stood a circle of Death Eaters with their wands drawn, continuously casting at the flying brains and picking them off one-by-one. Three of the four Death Eaters were unmistakably the ones who he had fought back in the Prophecy Room, while the fourth was similar in stature to Crabbe.
Splattered remnants of brains littered the floor, like large clumps of oatmeal. Amidst the white matter were the gory remains of three dark-robed Death Eaters, nearly completely ripped apart.
Eyes wide, Harry saw one of the brains disengage itself from the ceiling and come hurtling downwards, tentacles reaching towards him. With a cry, he rolled under it, the appendages just barely missing him.
At his cry, Macnair looked over in his direction.
"There's the Potter brat again!" he yelled. "Get him!"
At once, he cast as Harry, as did Crabbe and the unnamed Death Eater.
Harry threw himself to right as he cast. Two of the spells missed, but Macnair's blue one impacted against his shield. It discharged in an arc of blue and red sparks, sending Harry reeling backwards. As he did, he heard one of the missed spells splatter into one of the brains.
Before the Death Eaters could cast again, a door opposite the one Harry had entered through flew open. Augustus Rookwood ran from it, the stump of his severed arm sprouting blood.
"It's back!" the former Unspeakable screamed, fear in his voice, before taking off to his left, towards the front of the room.
Nott hesitated for a moment, but the other three Death Eaters charged towards Harry. The unnamed Death Eater made a movement to grab him, before a grey curse flew forward, striking him in the neck. With a gout of blood the hooded Death Eater was decapitated, his head spinning off into the darkness. And his body, the neck still squirting crimson, tumbled to the floor.
"Fuck Potter!" Nott yelled, before running towards the door to the Planet Room. The other two remaining Death Eaters followed, without throwing another glance in Harry's direction.
The brains hovering on the ceiling, spells no longer flyingin their direction, began to descend, half rushing towards Harry, the rest flying after the retreating Death Eaters. Eyes darting around, seeing every path but one blocked by the brains, Harry immediately took off after Rookwood.
His boots splashing through the water from the destroyed tank, Harry leapt over a low-charging brain. Chancing a look back, he saw that the brains had abandoned the Death Eaters and had focused their attention upon him, forming almost a solid wall of cauliflower shapes.
Focusing his attention forward, he saw Rookwood disappear through a plain black door, before shutting it behind him. Coaxing even more speed from his pumping legs and arms, Harry sped up, the air flying past him. He hit the door shoulder-first, putting all his weight behind the blow.
With a loud thud, Harry's shoulder rebounded painfully off the door, sending him backwards. Stunned, he looked down, to see a handle protruding.
It was a fucking pull-door.
The unmistakable voice of Ginny Weasley rang out, followed by a squelching sound as the door sealed itself.
"No…no….no…!" Harry moaned to himself, grasping the handle and pulling wildly at it, but the door stayed shut, no matter how hard he pulled. Shocked, he turned around, to see the wave of approaching brains less than ten feet away.
He hadn't been going back an hour each time. It had been more like fifteen minutes.
Left with only one option, Harry quickly reached for the Time-Turner, and gave it a single turn.
X-X-X-X-X-X -|- X-X-X-X-X-X -|- X-X-X-X-X-X
Harry arrived back in the entryway of the 'Brain Room', barely staggering upon arrival. Beneath his shirt the Time-Turner was warm against his chest.
Though he had traveled fifteen minutes into the past, the chaos had not decreased a single iota.
A score of brightly colored spells flew through the air, decimating the cloud of flying brains hovering close to the ceiling. The seven Death Eaters casting were oblivious to his arrival, their concentration focused upwards.
Harry turned towards the black door, trying to maintain his incognito status. Actually remembering to pull it this time, he opened the door, before freezing in place.
A single Death Eater, with long, whitish blond hair, stood in the center of the room, his back to Harry. As quietly as he could, Harry began to draw his wand, a 'Stupefy' on the tip of his tongue.
Without warning the Death Eater turned. Cold grey eyes widened for a moment, before Lucius Malfoy began to raise his wand.
"Potter!" the Malfoy matriarch hissed.
Harry quickly turned around, shutting the door behind him. Where the fuck was he supposed to go?
Creeping forward, he hugged the wall, sticking to the shadows. Reaching the first desk, he ducked behind it, the continuous casting of spells ringing in his ear. Knowing Malfoy would emerge at any minute to alert the other Death Eaters, he broke cover, moving towards the next desk.
"Potter's back!" one of the Death Eaters exclaimed, stopping his casting for a moment to point at Harry's location. Claws of panic beginning to tear at his mind, Harry saw a dark red curse fly from seemingly nowhere. It struck the Death Eater in the midsection, opening him from groin to neck in a rain of blood, sending him tumbling to the floor.
"What the fuck?" another Death Eater demanded, seeing his comrade fall to the floor. No sooner had the words left his mouth; another spell flew towards him from an unseen vantage point. It struck him in the back of his head, detonating it in a spray of blood, brains and skull fragments. The headless body stood for a moment, before remembering it was dead and crashing to the floor.
Through this, Harry kept moving, his eyes not lingering on the carnage. With the Death Eaters clumped to the left side of the room, and the brains focused upon them, not to mention the invisible assailant, he had a chance at making the right-hand door at the rear of the room.
"Potter's getting away!" one of the Death Eaters declared as Harry passed by. He slung a spell at Harry as he yelled, but it missed, slamming into the desk instead, raining splinters upon Harry.
"Fuck Potter!" the Macnair growled, spinning his head around towards the offending Death Eater. "Get the fuckin' spook that's killing us!"
Passing the remnants of the shattered giant tank, he ducked behind another desk. Gathering his courage, he flung his wand backwards.
At once he rose, sprinting towards the door, the translucent crimson shield held behind him. Mere feet from it, a curse struck his shield, shattering it. He was flung forward, directly into the door, which opened as he fell. He hit the ground hard, only to have large hands grab his robes and pull him through the doorway.
The door closed behind him as Augustus Rookwood, both arms intact, dragged him into the next room. His legs kicking on the floor, trying to stop himself, Harry drew his wand before thrusting it toward his assailant.
Anticipating the spell, Rookwood leaned to the right, letting the spell fly harmlessly past him. At once, he knelt down, digging his own wand into the soft flesh of Harry's neck, digging painfully into it.
Harry, whose fingers had been creeping towards the Time-Turner, immediately ceased his movements upon seeing the cold rage in Rookwood's eyes. This was a hardened Death Eater, who would have no problem killing if it would simplify the situation.
"Potter, I want you to listen to me very carefully," the former Unspeakable said, his voice barely above a whisper. "What was killing the other Death Eaters?"
For a moment Harry considered lying, before thinking better of it. Even though the unseen presence might be killing Death Eaters, that didn't mean that it wouldn't try to go after him if given the chance.
"I…I don't know," he admitted fearfully. "The spells – it's like they came out of nowhere."
Rookwood stared deep into his eyes, as if searching for any trace of a lie. Apparently displeased by what he saw, he pointed his wand at Harry's head.
Pain exploded through Harry's head as the memory of the two Death Eaters being cut down by invisible spells replayed, along with the horror and confusion he felt.
"You really don't know," Rookwood stated quietly, withdrawing from Harry's mind, before backing up, his brow furrowed in though. "I've never seen such a good Disillusionment Charm. Full cloaking, zero distortion, by Merlin."
The Death Eater's last words were more to himself than anything, followed by an almost unbelieving shake of the head. Back and forth he began to pace, clearly deep in thought.
Given a temporary reprieve, Harry looked around the room, getting a feel for his surroundings.
The new, previously unseen room was large, dimly lit and rectangular. The center of the room was sunken perhaps twenty feet into the floor, with tiers of stone benches leading down to the floor. In the center of the sunken pit was a raised stone dais with an ancient, crumbling stone archway upon it. A tattered black veil hung inside the archway, swaying slightly by a non-existent wind.
Staring at the sight, an inexplicable unease began to descend upon Harry. Despite the brains, carnage and Death Eaters he had already encountered, the archway unnerved him more than any of the three combined.
"What…what were those things in there?" Harry asked quickly, tearing his gaze away from the gently fluttering curtain.
"They're nothing," Rookwood said dismissively. "Synthetic brains implanted with thoughts drawn from some of the finest minds in the Wizarding world. Not one of the Department of Mysteries' most stunning successes, and certainly not the most pressing issue right now."
Swiftly, Rookwood swung his wand down, pointing the tip at Harry's heart.
"You, however, Potter, would appear to have just the thing I need to even the odds. Give me the Time-Turner."
At once, Harry tried to scuttle backwards, but a single wave of Rookwood's wand froze him in place.
"Thank you," he said as he reached down, removing the Time-Turner from Harry's neck. As he did, the door at the opposite side of the room burst open. Heavy footsteps pounding across the floor, Lucius Malfoy came into view, his cloak fluttering behind him.
"It's a slaughter out there, Rookwood!" Malfoy exclaimed, pushing his mask upwards. "What in Merlin's name is that thing? Is this more of your Unspeakable nonsense?"
"It's nothing of the sort, you idiot," Rookwood spat, eyeing Malfoy with obvious distaste. "Just because you-"
He cut himself off as the door leading to the brain room opened back up. However, no one walked through it.
Nothing visible, at any rate.
"It's here!" Lucius declared, launching a spell in the direction of the door. It collided off an invisible barrier, flying back at Lucius, followed by a dark orange spell, originating from nowhere. Lucius barely dodged out of the way as Rookwood thrust his wand forward, launching a large blue spell. It struck the wall in an explosion of blue paint.
For the barest of seconds, the paint splattered hem of a robe materialized, before disappearing as swiftly as it appeared.
"Chain!" Rookwood screamed, beginning to fling his wand forward. Lucius followed his fellow Death Eater's example, his wand violently cutting through the air as he began to continuously cast.
Rookwood's attention directed away from him, Harry found that he could move again. Discreetly, he began to crab-walk backwards, away from the exchange of spells. All of the spells seemed to miss the invisible assailant, flying harmlessly into the stone wall.
Cutting his wand in a wide arc, Rookwood conjured a tidal wave of roaring flames. For a brief moment, the swath of fire illuminated the outline of a quickly moving, vaguely human shape. Lucius swiftly followed with a Reductor Curse, which landed near the feet of the assailant. At once a grey physical shield popped into view, blocking the figure from the rain of stone.
His mouth drawn back into a grimace of concentration, Rookwood began to move forward, his wand a blur of movement. The physical shield winked out of existence, and one of the red spells was deflected back at Rookwood, who merely sidestepped it. It exploded against the ground near Lucius, the concussion of the blast blowing Malfoy down the giant stone steps.
Seizing his opportunity, Harry thrust his own wand forward.
Immediately, the Time-Turner clasped in Rookwood's left arm began to pull towards Harry. The former Unspeakable, distracted from his spell-chain, jerked his head towards Harry, hate blazing in his eyes.
No sooner had he turned, a spell connected his left shoulder, roughly severing the arm at the shoulder in a gout of blood. At once, the severed arm flew towards Harry, the Time-Turner still grasped tightly in the fist.
Mortified, Harry stepped back in shock as the appendage struck him in the chest. Rookwood, roughly severed arteries still pumping blood to his amputated arm, turned his attention back to the apparition, and began to resume his casting. He began to scream with rage as he cast, the echoes filling the room.
Bending down, Harry tried to pull the Time-Turner from the clenched hand. Unsuccessful, he grabbed the chain, and braced the arm with his foot, suppressing the urge to puke. Pulling backwards, the Time-Turner was pulled from the taut fingers, sending him stumbling back.
Lifting his gaze up, he saw another curse gouge into Rookwood's chest in a spray of blood. He screamed loudly, but continued to fight.
Unseen, a pair of hands grabbed one of Harry's feet from behind. Startled, Harry kicked out, just barely breaking the grip. At his feet was Lucius, who had crawled up the stone steps trying to stay out of the line of fire. A stray spell from the invisible adversary sent Lucius rolling away onto the next tier of steps.
Not needing any further invitation, Harry sprinted in the opposite direction, looping the Time-Turner back around his neck. A black door at the opposite end of the room loomed, promising escape.
"Help me you coward!" he heard Rookwood scream, looking for help from his fellow Death Eater. Judging by the heavy footsteps racing after Harry, the fight had gone out of Lucius.
"Malfoy! Get back-" was all Harry heard before he made it through the door, closing it behind him. It led back into the circular room. One of the fiery red crosses hung above the door, making it the right-most marked one. Using it as a guide, he raced across the room, blue light burning his eyes as it span.
Reaching the opposite side, he pushed against the black door, only to find it locked. Cursing under his breath, he moved on to the next one, which opened immediately, revealing the entrance to the Department of Mysteries. Moving through it, he turned, just in time to see Lucius emerge from the previous room, before the door to the entrance closed.
Quickly, Harry thrust his wand at the door.
The spell struck the door, beginning to seal it, but a heavy force struck it before it could take hold, sending it flying open. Lucius Malfoy stumbled through the threshold, unbalanced by forcing the door open, his mask slipping down over his face. Without thinking, Harry thrust his wand forward.
The curse was hurried, poorly aimed, but Lucius, attempting to dodge it while off-balance, inadvertently leaned into it, the spell just clipping the bottom-right of his mask. It exploded in a rain of silver shards, pulverizing the right side of his face in a crimson mist, painting the wall behind him with blood and chips of teeth.
His face a canvas of shredded and burned flesh, the inside of his mouth visible, blood pouring down his robes, Malfoy let out an inarticulate scream of rage, thrusting his wand forward. A familiar green curse leapt from his wand, streaking towards Harry. He immediately grabbed for the Time-Turner, turning it a single time as the malevolent green light filled his vision.
X-X-X-X-X-X -|- X-X-X-X-X-X -|- X-X-X-X-X-X
A sigh of relief escaped Harry's lips as he arrived in the empty entrance hallway, devoid of both the spell-fire marks and the blood and chips of teeth splattered upon the wall. Lucius' blood, as it had turned out. The unidentifiable melted black object, however, was still in place.
Putting his hands on his knees, Harry let out a deep, shuddering breath, his mind replaying how close the killing curse had come to striking him.
It had been a matter of inches.
With a hiss of pain, Harry let go of the hand tightly clutching the Time-Turner. It had grown uncomfortably warm beneath his palm, nearly to the point of scalding. Was its usage finite? And if it was, how many turns did it have remaining?
Concerned, Harry began to consider his options. Judging by the tomb-like silence of the Department of Mysteries, it appeared that he had finally reached the point in time before the arrival of the Death Eaters. Should he try to stay here and avoid them, or get back to Hogwarts, and alert the Order?
Following a short moment of consideration, he went to the elevator, pressing the call button for the lift. He waited at the bottom of the lift, the gentle clanking of the descending lift echoing throughout the room.
"The Department of Mysteries," a cool, female voice rang out. Harry froze at the sound, his mind racing. Why would there be an announcement unless…
His eyes widening, Harry saw the golden gates of the elevator slowly open.
"-still don't like it, Bellatrix and Rodolphus should have already cleared the floor…"
Augustus Rookwood froze mid-sentence, only one of the many Death Eaters filling the elevator.
"Potter?" Lucius asked, disbelievingly. The exclamation broke him from his paralysis, and he immediately fled down the hall. The golden grilles still closed, the Death Eaters were unable to give chase.
Harry ran through the plain black door, back into the circular room. Blue candlelight washing over his vision, he glanced between the three doors marked with fiery crosses.
Better the devil you know.
Sprinting forward, Harry took the center door. It swung in at his approach, allowing access to the Brain Room.
The air was eerily still, bereft of the flying brains that had infested it. The large tank in the middle of the room was fully intact, the brains floating lazily in the deep-green water, like the world's strangest aquarium.
While free from the vast amount of gore he had seen during his previous trip, there were still dark blotches of blood staining the floor on the left-hand side, alongside scorch-marks and small piles of ash. Near the stains, one of the smaller green tanks had been knocked off its desks, spraying glass and water onto the floor. In the middle of the water sat an unmoving brain.
Behind him, the entrance to the Brain Room crashed open, the sound of heavy footfalls striking the hard floor wafting in. Running forward, Harry thrust his wand forward.
The crimson curse struck the large tank, detonating the front pane in a spray of glass. Passing the tank by, he saw water begin to cascade out. Stirred to action, the brains surged out of the watery prison, directly towards the most obvious target.
The Death Eaters.
The dark-robed figures replied with an enthusiastic volley of spells, splattering several of the brains in a rain of grey matter. However, the brains did hold up his pursuers enough to allow him to rush into the Planet Room without having to dodge spellfire.
Through the inky darkness of the Planet Room he ran, the ever-persistent dripping of Rodolphus's blood still echoing throughout the strange room. He ran straight through, directly into the cold atmosphere of the Hall of Prophecy. Without sparing a second look to the tall shelves, not even the one where the dusty ball bearing his name was located, he passed through, making his way into the Time Room.
Among the almost labyrinth-like arrangements of the furniture Harry hid himself. All alone, with no support, he wasn't going to get very far if he didn't use stealth to his advantage. Crossing wands with hardened Death Eaters wasn't something that was going to work in his favor.
He didn't have to wait long before heavy footsteps entered into the Time Room. Above him, he saw the sudden brightness of a flashlight-like beam shone around the room, inspecting every corner, before being extinguished.
Harry's temporary relief vanished upon hearing the scraping of a desk moving across the floor. As quietly as he could from his crouched position beneath the desk, Harry held his wand pointing forward. If the Death Eater started to move the desk he was hiding under, he'd be left with no choice but to try to curse his way out.
Poised to attack, his muscles tensed, Harry nearly jumped when he heard one of the doors to the room open.
"Something's not right down here, Rookwood," declared the regal, refined tone of Lucius Malfoy.
"Oh, aside from Harry Potter's arrival to the Department of Mysteries before we've even cleared the place?" Rookwood questioned, his tone snide.
"Yes, aside from that. Why does the Revealing Spell not work down in this forsaken place? In the Hall of Prophecy, I cast it, and I swear there were about five flashes. I was the only one in the room, Rookwood!"
"There are…things down here which sometimes interfere with how particular magics function," the former Unspeakable replied carefully, after a moment of silence.
"Including 'Point Me' spells?" asked Lucius, clearly frustrated.
"No - those should be unaffected."
"Then explain this. Point Me Harry Potter!"
Squirming himself to the left, Harry held his eye up to a narrow slit in the furniture. As he did, he saw Lucius' wand immediately point to the right, away from Harry, before moving back in a line to the left, with erratic movements.
"It's pointing towards the Hall of Prophecy," Rookwood declared, beginning to walk back towards the door at the rear of the room.
"That's only because I'm in here," explained Lucius, causing the other Death Eater to pause in his tracks. "When I tried it in the Hall of Prophecy, it jumped around as well, mostly pointing towards the Planet Room."
"That…that doesn't make sense. I need to see this myself."
"Be my guest," Lucius drawled, before leading them towards the Hall of Prophecy. "It's not like Potter is going anywhere."
The final cryptic words hanging in the air, door closed behind the two men. Harry released a deep, shuddering breath upon their exit. That had been far too close for comfort. What had Lucius meant by him not going anywhere, though?
For a moment, he considered scouring the Time Room for another Time-Turner, before quickly abandoning the idea. Right now, getting out of the Department of Mysteries was far more important than securing another Time-Turner. Besides, if anyone heard him moving the furniture around, they might find him and corner him.
His decision made, he left the Time Room, entering into the mercifully empty circular room. He quickly entered the entrance corridor, swiftly making his way to the elevator.
The Death Eaters were far too much for him to handle on his own, but if he could somehow get the Order here early, he could change everything.
The golden grilles standing open, Harry moved onto the lift itself, pressing the button to go back to the Atrium, only to find it wouldn't push in.
"What the bloody hell," breathed Harry, pushing harder against the button, but again it stubbornly refused to budge. Confused, he searched the array of buttons, before his gaze focused on the keyhole placed below the button, which possessed a horizontal orientation.
The elevator was locked out, and he had no idea who had they key.
With a curse, he kicked out at the panel, which did little except causing his foot to sting. It wasn't fucking fair! He had been so close to escape…
Reaching around his neck, Harry pulled off the Time-Turner, hanging the brass contraption by its golden chain. It was no longer uncomfortably warm, having cooled in the past few minutes. Did that mean it was safe to use again?
It seemed like this Time-Turner was tuned differently to the one he had used during Third Year, only giving about fifteen minutes per turn. Standing in the entryway of the Department of Mysteries, it occurred to Harry that this was about the best chance he was going to get to use the Time-Turner without being harassed.
If he could go back a full two hours, he could go back to before any of the Death Eaters had even arrived, and warn the Order.
His mind decided he wrapped the chain around his neck, before beginning to spin the miniature hourglass.
Upon completion of the second, the Time-Turner began to grow immeasurably hot beneath his hand, and the hourglass spun of its own volition, ripping at Harry's hand.
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Harry reappeared in the area outside the elevator, his hand stinging, burning pain radiating from where the Time-Turner lay against his chest. With a cry, he ripped the chain from his neck, the metal hot beneath his hand. Reflexively, he flung the object away from him. The Time-Turner landed halfway down the hall, sizzling as it hit the ground. Like a candle it melted, with the brass and gold liquefying, before coalescing into a blackened mass, burning the surrounding section of floor.
Gasping with pain, he leaned against the wall, taking deep, agonized breaths. The burns on his hands and neck from the chain stung, not to mention the pain that two of the fingers on his left hand cried with, but worst of all was the searing pain that lit across the center of his chest, as if someone had held a hot branding iron to it.
Glancing down to his left hand, he saw ragged holes on the end of both his index and middle fingers, dripping blood. The malfunctioning Time-Turner had ripped off both of the fingernails as it wildly turned. Hissing with pain, he placed his wand behind his ear, before attempting to unbutton his white shirt. After several painful attempts, during which he streaked his white shirt with bright blood, he gave it up as a bad job.
Even if he did somehow manage to open his shirt, what was the benefit in seeing the sizzled flesh on his chest? It wasn't like he could do anything about it at this point.
Grateful for being right-handed, Harry palmed his wand, before turning towards the elevator.
The Time-Turner was gone. This was his last chance to do it right. Oddly, the thought was somewhat comforting. If he was able to save both Neville and himself in the Hall of Prophecy, he must somehow figure out a way.
All was not lost. He didn't have the time he wanted, maybe a half-hour, but at least still had the opportunity to escape and gather the Order. Using the fully-intact finger on his right hand, Harry pressed the call button for the lift.
"The Department of Mysteries is currently locked down," a cool, female voice rang out from above. "Please wait patiently for the lockdown to end."
"Fuck!" Harry screamed, kicking out at the shut golden grilles. How the fuck was he supposed to get out of here now?
Taking a step back, he took a deep, centering breath, trying to calm the vortex of thoughts blowing through his mind. The attempt worked slightly, allowing conscious rationale to re-enter.
The Department of Mysteries being in lockdown was not going to make things any easier, but it was no reason to panic. After all, he had already done all this before, hadn't he?
Determined to make things right, ignoring the pain in his chest, Harry walked back into the circular room. To his surprise, none of the fiery crosses were in sight, every door identical to the next. Nor were there any of the familiar bloodstains on the floor, opposed to the small drop from his own fingers.
Looking around, he tried to guess which door to go through. He had to find the release for the lockdown, a fact not made any easier by the lack of distinctive marks. Striding across the reflective floor surface, he went through the door across from him.
The Brain Room was completely undisturbed. Every single one of the tanks were intact, all of the green water and floating brains contained safely within. A few of the grotesque monstrosities bumped against the glass at his arrival, but for the most part his presence was ignored.
The floor of the room was completely free of the blood and ash that had been present during the last time he had entered. Wondering at what point the floor was stained, Harry exited the Brain Room, quite confident that the lock-down release was not located there.
Back in the circular room, he pointed his wand at the door.
A feeble stream of fire flew forth from his wand. He moved to cut a cross into the air, before the flame disappeared. Undeterred, he tried again, only to be met with failure for a second time.
Hermione had made this look so easy! What the fuck was he doing wrong?
Shaking his head, he turned away from the direction that the Brain Room was accessed, paying no attention to the turning walls.
If he wasn't the one who had marked the doors, who had?
No answer at hand, Harry tried the door two down from the Brain Room. The door was ice-cold to the touch, but opened at his urging, blowing out frosty air.
The room beyond the plain black door was narrow, rectangular in shape. Lit by the familiar blue flames, he saw that there were twenty raised stone platforms in the room, ten on each side, with a single pain of frosted glass atop them, facing the curved stone arches of the ceiling. Pipes and tubing snaked from the far side of each of the stone platforms, connecting with a large metal enclosure. Within the clear tubing flowed liquids of various different colors, some were apparently feeding into the platform, some flowing in the opposite direction.
His teeth chattered as he walked further into the room, wrapping his arms around himself. As he did, the rear section of the room came into closer focus. A large, wide wooden shelf took up the entire rear wall. Large, rectangular wooden boxes, stacked like books, lined every inch on the shelving. Each of the boxes had a large, black number stenciled into them, with a smaller name below them.
None of the names were familiar too him. Torquemada, Tomás de. Crowley, Edward Alexander. Spare, Austin Osman.
Reaching out his hand, he withdrew the box and set it on a nearby desk. Undoing the brass clasp, he was met with a bewildering stack of diagrams and documents, written upon countless pages of parchment. Picking up the sheet atop the pile, he began to read:
Subject Grindelwald, Gellert (born 1883, Brokdorf, Germany) was recovered from Berlin, Germany in 1945. Cause of death was determined to be from extreme hypothermia, suffered during a duel with Albus Dumbledore. Subject's body was brought to the Department of Mysteries four hours after his death.
Due to the ideal preservation of the wizard's body, he was chosen to be the first participant in Project Lazarus…
There was more, but Harry shook his head, before replacing the document and closing the clasp. As interesting as it might be, he didn't have time for this type of stuff right now. Placing the box back on the shelf, his eyes full upon another familiar, though unexpected name.
"What the hell?" Harry whispered, seeing a box labeled 'Rasputin, Grigori'. He had heard of the famed Russian mystic before, but never in connection to the Wizarding world. Finding himself reaching for the box, he shook his head definitively. Again, he didn't have time.
His mind made up, he turned away from the shelf and began to walk towards the exit. On his way back, his eyes most accustomed to the gloom of the room, he saw that the front of the stone platforms were also labeled, the one closest to the door reading 'Flamel, Nicolas'.
"Bloody hell," Harry breathed, moving closer to the stone platform. Standing on his tip-toes, he cleared the frost from the window with a blast of heat from his wand, peering inside.
The upper quarter of a male's body leered at him from the other side of the glass. The hollow, sunken flesh of the frail chest was nearly blue, the cells clearly dead. The lower half of the head, sagging flesh and teeth frozen in an eternal grimace were untouched, but everything from the nose up had been removed, fully displaying the grey, coral-like landscape of the brain. Tubing connected to various parts of the brain carried different colored liquids back and forth from it to the metal enclosure.
Worst of all, however, was that the brain of the obviously dead man was pulsing, as if alive.
"Shite!" screamed Harry, backing away from the platform, hands covering his mouth. As he did, Rookwood's words played in his mind. Who the fuck would authorize the Unspeakables to do this? Stealing the memories of the dead? The mere thought made his skin crawl.
Gladly leaving the room behind, Harry made his way back into the circular room. Out of the cold, his burned chest began to throb painfully. Trying his best to ignore it, he took the door to his left, another one he had yet to explore.
It led to a long, brightly lit corridor with plain stone wall. Flickering torches hung from the walls, burning with yellow flames, as opposed to the blue candlelight favored by most of the Department of Mysteries.
Silently creeping down the hall, he found that it curved to the left twenty feet in. Prepared to make the turn, a long scream of anguish echoed throughout the hall, nearly causing Harry to yell out in surprise. A mad, clearly insane female cackle followed the scream, disconcerting Harry even further.
"I can do this all night," taunted the woman, her voice thick with pleasure.
Gathering his courage, Harry crept to the corner, peering around it.
The room around the corner was small, with two of the walls filled with a metal control panel, affixed with a countless number of buttons, dials and indicators. In a rolling chair sat an older man in grey, bloody robes, bound tightly with lengths of rope.
A skeletal-looking witch in Death Eater robes, with messy, abused black hair pointed her wand at the struggling man.
"You need two Unspeakables to end the lock-down!" the man yelled, his eyes filled with fear.
"Liar!" the witch screamed, thrusting her wand forward.
Red light leapt from her wand, striking the man. He began to scream loudly, his body thrashing against the bonds, the capillaries in his eyes bursting. Over his screams, Harry heard the woman laughing manically, keeping the curse held.
From out of his sight, Harry saw a thick arm reach out and take the witch's arm, lowering it.
"Stop, Bellatrix," a thick, nasally voice ordered. "You've already tried this on the Longbottoms, and it didn't work then."
"He's lying!" she practically shrieked, the noise piercing Harry's skull. She immediately whipped her wand forward, intending to torture the Unspeakable further.
At once Harry jabbed his own wand forward.
The crimson spell immediately leapt from his wand. Her ears perking up, Bellatrix pulled the unseen man into the path of the spell, causing him to crumple to the ground. For a moment, his gaze met her dancing violet eyes, before she stabbed her wand forward, above the unconscious man.
Harry tried to throw himself to the side, but the blue curse traveled faster than any he had ever seen, gouging into his shoulder in a spurt of blood, sending him flying back. He hit the wall hard, his shoulder on fire with burning pain.
Turning, he ran back down the hallway, panting with exertion. The room seemed to slant drunkenly as he ran, causing him to stumble. Just as he reached the door, something hard hit him in the back. It tore through his stomach, painting the plain black door with blood.
He immediately fell forward, the door opening as he did. Another curse flew over his head as the door closed itself again.
"G-g-get u-up," he urged himself, blood bubbling up his throat. Forcing himself to his feet, his head swam at the spinning of the room, and the rapidly moving blue lights. Shaking his head, he shambled forward drunkenly, through one of the black doors.
He found himself back in the Brain Room. A grey void washing over his mind, he tried to find a place to hide, but before he could, the door opened once again. He made to turn, but a curse sliced through his chest. An even deeper pain bloomed through his chest as his left lung deflated, air hissing out of the hole in his chest. He drew a breath to scream, only to find he was unable, a sucking sound emitting from the chest wound.
"Bellatrix, you fucking idiot!" admonished the other Death Eater as he ran through the doorway, his eyes wide. "How the fuck is the Dark Lord going to get the prophecy now?"
Growing light-headed, Harry didn't hear any of the rest of their exchange. Losing his sense of balance, Harry stumbled over to one of the desks, atop which balanced a small tank filled with green water, containing a single brain. Both were knocked over as Harry tumbled to the floor, the tank shattering with a loud crash, spilling water everywhere.
At once, the freed brain sped towards Harry, its ribbon-like tentacles wrapping around his neck. Pulling itself closer, it smothered him, settling over his face.
Vaguely, Harry heard Bellatrix laughing manically.
"What the hell is that thing?" the man asked, disgust evident in his voice.
"Who cares?" Bellatrix exclaimed. "A few healing spells, and he'll live long enough to grab the Prophecy for us."
Around his head, he felt the brain tightening, pulsating. It seemed to be squeezing into his skull, the pressure was so tight. He went to draw a breath, only to find he couldn't.
Still tighter the pressure grew, an alien presence intruding into his thoughts, a thousand times worse than Snape's Occlumency lessons. Terror clawing at him, cutting through the haze of agony, he tried to fight, but the adversary was without form, turning his thoughts to dust.
"It can't end like this!" Harry cried out mentally, before darkness consumed him.
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For the first time in over fifty years, Lord Grindelwald opens his eyes. Though deep, agonizing pain reverberated through every fiber of his being, it was pure ecstasy to once again possess a body.
The memories of Harry Potter fully assimilated into his consciousness, he rolled over. The dead brain clinging to his face, now devoid of thought, fell lifelessly to the floor as he did so.
Cognizant of the two Death Eaters standing above him, he faked a violent spasm, his arms and legs thrashing discordantly. With subtle movements, he waved the holly and phoenix-feather wand, sealing the wound in his chest with a silent incantation. It would warrant further attention at some point, but more pressing matters are at hand.
"Aw, is itty-bitty baby Potter hurt?" a deranged looking witch named Bellatrix Lestrange cooed, the sound cutting right through his head. Unsteadily, he rose to his feet, staggering slightly, raising his wand.
The ragged, foul woman in front of him let out a nearly deafening cackle.
"Look, Potter wants to play! Go ahead, give it your best try!"
Nearly marveling at the Death Eater's blatant stupidity, Grindelwald thrust his wand forward, crookedly.
The walnut wand flew from her fingertips, placing itself neatly in his hand. She let out another mad cackle, before advancing, her violet eyes glinting with madness.
"I told you I'd give you one chance," she whispered, her voice husky as she raised a hand, each finger topped with apparently sharp, spade-like fingernails. "And you blew it."
At once, her companion strode forward, wand raised.
"Stand aside!" Bellatrix spat, causing the man to freeze in his tracks, before retreating. By the time her gaze moved back to Grindelwald, his wand was already in motion, cutting through the air in a figure-eight motion, before spearing forward.
Bellatrix only had time to widen her violet eyes before a solid column of white liquid fire consumed her. In the space of seconds she went up like a candle, her eyes liquefying in her sockets, the skin sloughing off her muscles as the super-heated fire burned through her.
"Bella!" her pudgy companion screamed, before launching a feeble Dark Cutter. Grindelwald swung his wand down, casually batting the curse back at Rodolphus, which struck the man's stomach. With a cry of agony, he scrambled away, both hands cradling his stomach.
Paying no attention to the fleeing man, Grindelwald's gaze turned back to the charred husk that was once Bellatrix Lestrange. Cutting his wand downward, he vanished the all-consuming flames. What remained of the witch immediately crumbled into ash, with even her bones being eaten through.
Satisfied, he turned heel and followed the thin trail of blood, which led into what Harry referred to as the 'Planet Room'. In the thick darkness, he could see nothing, but smelt the fear swirling through the room more clearly than sight ever could have provided for. Pointing his wand slightly to the right, he flicked his wand upwards, immediately being rewarded with a panicked scream.
Walking forward into the murky darkness, Rodolphus appeared out of the gloom. He hung upside down, as if suspended by a giant, invisible hook. From his slit stomach, a single grey, bloody loop of small intestine peeked through.
"Please!" begged the man, his eyes wide with terror.
"Please vat?" Grindelwald replied with a smirk, jabbing his wand forward. Rodolphus was flung forward, directly into the model of the sun. He bounced off it hard, landing directly on his head, before crashing to the floor. The Death Eater jumped up quickly, but before he could run away, Grindelwald's quickly conjured metal bar flew forward, pinning his right hand to the yellow sphere.
Before Rodolphus could let out another scream of agony, Grindelwald swept his wand to the side. An invisible force immediately pulled his body taunt to the left, before another bar impaled his left hand. A second later, a third metal bar shot through both of his feet, completing the mock crucifixion to the model of the sun.
"The voman, as loathsome as she may haff been, vos at least a formidable adversary. You, who cowered before her, as no man should before a voman, are not vorthy of the consideration I vould give an insect."
"You little fucking twat!" Rodolphus screamed, leaning forward against his bonds, abandoning any pretext of appealing to his torturer. "My Lord will make you beg for death!"
As he leaned forward, the slit in his stomach opened further, causing a longer link of intestine to slip out.
"Death and I are already vell acquainted," Grindelwald answered coolly. "And vhen ve meet again, it shall be as old friends."
Flicking his wand forward, Rodolphus' sleeve was pulled back, revealing the Dark Mark.
"Is this the mark of your pathetic Lord?" Grindelwald mused, staring at the skull with a snake for a tongue. "How childish."
Before Rodolphus could answer, Grindelwald brought his wand down, a short, silver beam extended from the end of it. Like a careless surgeon he flayed the flesh from the Death Eater's arm in a roughly square shape, before ripping the section of flesh from the arm.
The pudgy man's screams echoing throughout the room, Grindelwald brought the tattoo closer to his eye, before shaking his head.
"How pathetic," he sighed, before carelessly tossing the square of flesh off to the side and turning back to Rodolphus. "Silence."
Paying no heed to his order, the Death Eater continued to scream. His mouth thinning to a line, Grindelwald brought his wand forward, before ripping it upwards, starting at his groin. In a spray of blood, the ribs splitting with loud cracks, he bisected the man all the way to his upper chest. Freed from their confines, his guts spilled onto the floor with a sickening splat.
"There is only room in this vorld for one true Dark Lord," Grindelwald declared, before carving his mark onto the dying man's forehead.
Death beginning to cloud into the pudgy man's eyes, Grindelwald casually parted the bisected ribs, causing them to spring forward, exposing all of the organs hidden within the chest cavity. Reaching in, he tore out Rodolphus' heart, grasping it in one of his tiny, blood-splattered hands. Bringing it to his mouth, he took a deep bite of it, savoring the taste.
It had been far too long since he'd tasted such a delicacy.
Sated, he carelessly dropped the heart into the bloody pile of organs, before walking back towards the circular room. His wand was a flurry of movement as he walked, healing his wounds as best he could. He was no Healer, and would certainly need medical attention after, but he had more than enough strength and skill to accomplish the task at hand.
He passed through the circular room, back into the lighted hall, that led into the Department of Mysteries control room. He cleansed the last traces of blood from his body before turning the corner, adopting a look of fear onto his features.
"Shite, kid, you okay?" the Unspeakable tied to the chair asked, his voice nearly unbelieving.
"Yeah, I lost them, but they'll be back," he hurriedly answered, trying to keep the natural inflection in his voice suppressed. "We have to be quick."
With an intentionally awkward movement, he cast a weak cutting spell at the binds, severing them.
"Thanks, Potter," the man said, throwing off the rest of the rope. "I have absolutely no idea what brought you down here, but whatever the reason, I'm glad you did. I owe you, kid."
"Just get us out of here, and we'll be even."
"Fair enough," the man replied with a chuckle, darting over to one of the consoles. Quickly, he pressed a combination of buttons.
"The lock-down is now over," a cool, female voice said above them. "All Unspeakables may return to their posts."
"That's it," the man agreed, picking his wand up from the floor, before raising it. "I would have been dead without you here, Potter. I'm going to do everything I can to get you out of here, but you have to stay in back of me at all times. There's no telling how many of those Death Eater bastards are down here."
Harry nodded a single time, an action which seemed to satisfy the Unspeakable. Face drawn in concentration, he started down the corridor.
His back to Harry, the grey-robed Unspeakable never saw the green light strike him in the back, extinguishing his life. The lifeless body pitched forward, hitting the ground with a loud thud.
Grindelwald took no pride in the kill, the Unspeakable being an unfortunate victim of circumstance. He was a loose end, one that he could ill-afford.
Stepping over the dead body, Grindelwald made his way back into the circular chamber. His mind, one of the greatest the world had ever known, raced at light speed. Plans were made, and then discarded before being reborn into the something grander in a matter of seconds.
He had a long road ahead of him, but saw every bit of it as clearly as if it had already happened. Which, in a way, he supposed it had.
Thrusting his wand forward, he cut three fiery crosses into the air, where they floated in front of three of the plain black doors. Potter and his friends would need to know which doors to avoid.
He would have a difficult job as it was, keeping Potter safe long enough to eliminate all of the Death Eaters, and find out which one of them held the lift key.
Difficult, but certainly not impossible, and he had no intention of failing. Given another chance to meet up with an old friend, one who only bested him before through mere luck, was not something to take lightly.
After that though?
He had a whole world to win.
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This was an entrant into the May DLP Time Travel Contest. I don't know how it did, seeing as I wrote this before the results were made public, but hopefully people enjoy it.
To clarify, in this world, Dumbledore killed Grindelwald, as opposed to just defeating him. I suppose it is somewhat cheap to change canon without really telling the reader, but I'm rather through with this story. In the future I might clean it up, but I want to work on other things for now.
I wrote this is a one-shot. I am throwing around the idea of writing a sequel. Time shall tell. Right now I'd say it's not going to happen, but who knows what the future may bring. It would require making a few minor changes to this, so we shall see.
The next chapter of 'The Unforgiving Minute' is complete, I'm just waiting for my beta to get back to me. The second chapter of 'Ouroboros' is 2/3 complete. After that, I'm not sure. Probably the next chapter of 'Sitra Ahra', but I'm not sure.
Thanks to Benny, scaryisntit, Ellisande and BajaB for their support throughout the writing process.
Thanks to Lord Anarchy and Princess Serine for their quality beta work.
Thanks to Swimdraconian and Grinning Lizard for their support during the planning process.
Thanks to shinysavage and T3t from DLP for their support. They inspired me to continue to write this and finish it up in under two weeks. Also, thanks to Nunuh for creating the 500 for 500 movement on DLP. Without his efforts, I doubt this would have been finished on time.
Thanks for reading.
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