Prelude - Downfall of the Wizarding World (beta: Gakin)
The Burrow – Ottery St. Catchpole
The Order of the Phoenix, an illegal vigilante group consisting of wizards and witches formed with the purpose of fighting the Dark Lord, lead by none other than Albus Wulfric Percival Brian Dumbledore, Supreme Mugwump, Chief Warlock of the ICW and Headmaster of Hogwarts, the most renowned magical institution in the Old World, was reunited once more under the roof of the Weasley household.
The rundown building, that couldn't stay up without the application of several charms, was one of the last safe places where the group could safely reunite. Long were gone the times where the ragtag group shined as a beacon of light in the rising darkness. In fact the beacon was reduced to nothing more than a feeble light. The war took a toll on the numbers of members. Far too many had already fallen under the wands of their enemies and even more had switched sides during the battle taking down even more of their ranks from within their lines.
The centenary wizard, now fully demonstrating his age, couldn't believe how things turned out all of a sudden. He had lost his most trusted comrades in the span of a minute forcing the remaining fighters to beat a quick retreat to the last safe stronghold. The headmaster almost laughed, almost, at the thought of the Burrow as a stronghold but he couldn't bring himself to quirk his lips upward. He was too tired and discouraged to even act amused. His trademark twinkling was long forgotten, smoldered by the long battles and the sudden betrayal of many of his most loyal friends.
He couldn't wrap his mind around the fact that so many had defected to the dark side. Minerva. Minerva of all people had betrayed him. He wanted to believe that she was Imperioused but he knew differently. He could tell when a person was under the influence of the Unforgivable Curse and the clearly focused eyes of his former right hand when she was cursing him of all people left little doubt in his mind of where her allegiance laid.
They were compromised. He had entrusted most of his secrets with her and now she had jumped the fence. And not only her. Only an handful hadn't joined the Dark Lord and his General Sirius Black. How was it possible? How could that man sway so many to his cause? What could he have promised them to make them change side?
He knew them all. Or at least he believed he knew them. They used to be good people. Selfless, brave. They stood up for the Greater Good at his side, following him in battle without flinching. And now only a few remained to fight for what was right. Molly, Arthur, Mundungus, and James. Even Lily had betrayed them. Betrayed her husband and her children. Betrayed the Chosen One. Betrayed the light. The Potters didn't take the news well. James was dumbfounded when she left. Things weren't going well between them and he could understand her to a degree. Her husband had changed and not for the better but it wasn't enough to motivate her defection to their enemies. Her son was absolutely destroyed. The prophesied savior of the Wizarding World was reduced to a shadow of his former self. Albus didn't know what his mother had told him during the battle but whatever it was it crippled him.
And now they were gathered there. A handful of fighters that didn't know what to do next. The very people that they had sworn to protect had turned against them without apparent reason.
"Albus," Molly called after with clear concern in her voice. "What's going on, Albus? What can we do next? My children…"
The aged wizard rubbed the bridge of his nose searching for an answer that he wasn't sure he could find. All of his plans, his machinations, years of plots had fallen like a castle of sand in a storm. What should he do next? What could he do next? There was no chance to retaliate, they hadn't enough manpower, nor enough trust remaining.
The few who were left were eyeing each other wondering who would change sides next. For all intents and purposes they had already lost. Without trust in each other they were no longer a group, just a collection of individuals that didn't know what was going on or why.
Under the current circumstances there was very little they could do. There was only one option left and he didn't like it one bit.
"We must leave, Molly. We should go into hiding. Take only the strict necessities and leave. Gather your children and flee. If possible get out of the country until such a time when I can reach you again."
"What?" shrieked the matron making him cringe. "But Albus… Fred and George are still missing and Bill…"
"Fred and George are probably safe. They must have gone into hiding." 'If they haven't joined the enemy as well.' "The joke shop was untouched. They haven't been attacked and Bill is at Gringotts. Not even the Dark Lord will mess with the Goblin at this point in time."
"But… certainly there is something we can do. We can't just leave like this," she insisted.
"Mom, he's right," the youngest of the Weasley children, sixteen-year-old Ginny, said to her mother. "Right now there is nothing we can do. We don't know our enemy at all. We don't know who our allies are either. Take a look around Mom. We have been betrayed. There's nothing we can do. Nobody we can trust, for all we know there could be other traitors amongst us right now."
"Ginevra! That is nothing you should concerning yourself about. Children should stay out of this kind of…"
"CHILDREN? CHILDREN?" Ginny erupted. "This child has been fighting like everybody else for the past year. I might still be a minor but I'm no longer a child. I've stopped being a child since my first year at Hogwarts. Remember the whole Chamber of Secret fiasco Mom? I've been part of this war since I was eleven."
"Ginevra Molly Weasley! You will not address me with that tone. I'm your mother and I deserve your respect."
"Your mother is right Ginny." interjected Arthur from the couch. "Stay out of this."
"What does it have to do with anything? This is not a family gathering. If you can't respect ME enough to acknowledge me as a fighter like everybody else, then I have no reason to stay."
"ENOUGH!" Roared Dumbledore. "There is no time for family quarrels. Young Ginevra is right Molly. There is nothing we can do until we can ascertain who we can trust and who we cannot. Go into hiding. Disappear from sight. I will reach everyone as soon as it's safe. We have no time to waste. I have placed some wards but…"
Dumbledore's speech was cut by a lynx Patronus coming out from a wall. The manifestation looked around until it spotted the figure of the aged wizard and walked up to him. Kingsley's voice echoed from the shining animal.
"The ministry has fallen. They are coming. Run."
It was the last drop. Chaos erupted in the house. Everybody was screaming something to someone else. Somebody was just screaming to no one in particular. Dumbledore was about to restore order with one of his infamous 'thunder claps' when a sudden vibration shook the building.
"What's going on Albus?" James Potter asked. The inquired wizard grabbed his chest.
"Somebody is trying to take down the wards I erected when we arrived. They are already here."
The survivors of the order ran to the windows, searching for their attackers. What they saw stole their breath away.
"NO! IT CAN'T BE!" screamed a distraught Molly. The reason for her anguish was right in front her, just beyond the fence of the Burrow. Among fifteen black clad person, a single unmasked individual was standing with a hand raised towards the now clearly visible sphere of the wards. The red hair and the dragon tooth earring were a dead giveaway to the identity of the curse-breaker that was trying to break through.
"NO! NOT BILL! NOT HIM TOO!"
No one would have believed that Bill Weasley could turn against his family, not even under the power of the Imperious Curse. Yet he was standing right there, his hand frizzling against the surface of the wards that he was trying to take down. The clear focus in his eyes, much like Minerva not even an hour before, left little doubt on the clearness of his thought. Ward breaking was not something that could be performed by a mind struggling against foreign control. William 'Bill' Weasley was in full possession of his will. And it was turned against them.
Albus Dumbledore prized himself in his ability in erecting wards. Over a century of life had taught him many things in that subtle art, yet all his knowledge and skills paled in front of the young prodigy that was going to shred his defenses apart. They had probably just an handful of minutes at best before the last line of defense came down.
"Run everybody, now. The wards won't hold much longer. Run outside of the anti-apparition ward and reach somewhere safe. We must…" *BOOOM!*
Against his best prediction it didn't take minutes for the redhead to take down his defenses but seconds. A Bombarda impacted against the ground just a few steps from the door, sending dirt flying everywhere. The probability of their very skilled enemies missing a target the size of the Burrow was highly unlikely. They weren't trying to kill them at least. For that purpose a Finite Incantatem would have served the purpose, making the whole structure collapse on them.
The blast had the intended effect. It send the inhabitants into a panic. They began running everywhere looking for an escape. The small space of the room didn't allow for many maneuvers. James grabbed his unresponsive son and darted out of a window, soon followed by others. In the confusion Molly didn't manage to reach her daughter but she saw her follow Dumbledore outside into the back garden. If anybody could keep her baby girl safe, it was the greatest wizard in the world. She quickly followed her husband down the road that lead to a small forest outside the boundaries of the anti-apparition ward
The problem was… who would keep the greatest wizard safe?
Albus Dumbledore was making his way outside the wards with great difficulty. For all his skills his foes were extremely capable, never attacking in less than five and always with great coordination. Had he been a lesser wizard he would have fallen a long time ago. Yet the best he managed to accomplish was to stall the masked assailants. Things became more complicated when they started targeting the young witch that followed him, hoping to be lead to safety. That was a bad move on her part since the group was clearly aiming for him, although they weren't using any lethal spell. It was obvious that they were trying to take him alive. Perhaps there was still hope for their misguided souls.
"Stay behind me Ginevra! I won't let any harm befall you," declared the old wizard. Ginevra was fundamental in his plan. To fuel the power-he-knows-not he had to keep her safe. The Chosen One had extremely strong feeling for the youngest Weasley. Losing her now could be an insurmountable loss for their cause. As long as the Chosen One lived and loved there was still hope for the Light.
He never saw the disarming hex hitting him in the back but he clearly saw the Elder Wand flying from his hand behind his shoulder. He turned to face the unseen enemy that had stolen the allegiance of the Death Stick only to see said wand flying into the open palm of a grinning Ginevra Molly Weasley.
"And here I went through all the trouble of warning you that traitors were lurking everywhere. What a disappointment you turned out to be Headmaster."
"Ginevra, you…" the pale wizard stuttered dumbfounded.
"Indeed Headmaster. Me." The group of gathered Dark Wizards was chuckling at his bewildered expression. "Thanks for being so predictable the whole time. You made things so much easier."
The amusement in her voice sent his rage burning. He could no longer fight but without the traitorous woman to protect he could escape much more easily.
"Fawkes!" he called for his long time companion. The phoenix flamed into existence flying toward him, only to land gracefully with a melodious trill on the shoulder of the same redhead that stole his wand just moments prior, nuzzling her cheek affectionately with its beak.
Dumbledore expression was comical at that point. If his eyes could open any wider they would resemble saucers. His mouth was slightly open in a shocked expression.
"F-f-f-fawkes?" The phoenix barely turned to look at him with contempt before Ginny spoke again.
"Way too predictable old man. Way too predictable."
He was too stunned to avoid the dual Stupefy sent his way by Ginny's wand and the Death stick. Blackness welcomed his confused mind and he knew no more.
He opened his eyes again an indefinable amount of time later. He was no longer on the green garden of the Burrow, but in a finely decorated mansion. His wrists were bound with a common rope, something he could easily dispose of wandlessly if he wasn't trapped inside a Siphoning runic circle.
He was completely powerless.
At his left Ginevra was kneeling in front of a hooded figure. "My Lord. Albus Dumbledore is at your mercy as you have ordered."
The figure turned around to face him, but his visage was covered by a white mask that looked like a skull with three black stripes that cut the left side like a claw mark. Whomever this person was it definitely wasn't Voldemort.
The headmaster gulped with some difficulty. He must have been unconscious for quite some time.
"Who…?" he asked with a sore throat. The wizard turned to look at him while Ginny was placing the Elder Wand into his open palm.
"Ah. You are already awake. Not surprising considering the amount of magic you possess. Welcome to my humble abode Mr. Dumbledore. Forgive me for the rude means I used to bring you here. I was under the impression that you would have ignored a formal invitation.
"You have me at disadvantage Mr…?"
"Erebeus." The masked wizard answered. Albus froze and gulped again. The rumors were true then? There were two Dark Lords?
"Why… have you brought me here. Why haven't you killed me?"
"Because I need you alive. Because I need your help."
By now Dumbledore was completely lost. He had no idea of where he was or what was going on. Only one thing was clear in his mind.
"Then you might as well finish what you started and kill me. I won't help you in any way. You can torture me all you want or even try to Imperious me. It won't work." A light chuckle escaped from behind the mask. The Dark Lord walked to his prisoner, bending so that the white skull was barely inches from the from the aged wizard.
"I wouldn't be so sure about that Dumbledore." Erebeus stated with an hand over the smooth with surface of his mask. He then pulled it away showing his features to the shocked wizard.
Albus world collapsed when the dazzling green eyes bored into his own. Something inside his mind clicked and years of clues and hints snapped into place forming a picture where he, the chess master, was really nothing else but an unknowing pawn. His shocked mind was processing years of information at an outstanding rate. So many facts, so many clues. He was too taken by his own plans to really take notice. He wanted to say something, to show that after all he still had a grasp of the whole picture but the only thing that escaped his lips was a single name, the key to the whole puzzle.
Erebeus simply smirked. Victory tasted good.
Here goes my first attempt at Harry Potter fanfic. I hope you liked the prelude. Hopefully I'll be back soon with chapter one.
Stay tuned for more.