"This is Christie Goeden reporting live for BBC, in the air over what used to be the heart of London. Approximately four hours ago, during the noon lunch hour, what seems to be a silent explosion has turned inner London into, as you can see, what appears to be a bubble of smoking light. Experts say it is no kind of radiation they have ever encountered, and attempts to measure it have so far been met with failure - all instruments register as zero for all known types of energy. As far as anyone has been able to determine, the 'Zero Space,' as it has been dubbed, is not increasing nor decreasing in size, but as yet there have been no survivors and search parties sent into the Zero Space have lost radio contact immediately. Homes and businesses within five hundred meters of the space have been evacuated and a protective perimeter has been established around the space, as well as a no-fly zone three kilometers around, and UN officials are meeting in an emergency session to determine what should be done in the absence of Parliament. Thus far no terrorist organization has come forward to claim responsibility for the attack. We will continue to update you on the situation as details become known. Once again this is Christie Goeden for BBC News."

Four Hours Previously

"Harry!" A voice called down the hallway. Harry Potter turned to find the source of the familiar voice and as he spotted the man hurrying down the hallway, his face brightened with a grin.

"Neville!" he said, reaching out a hand that Neville Longbottom grasped and shook warmly. "What brings you to the Ministry today?"

Neville waved the scroll he was holding before tucking it into a pocket in his robes. "I'm teaching Merlin's Whisker to my N.E.W.T. class this year, but it's a Category Two Cultivation Restriction, so I needed to get a permit." He thumped Harry on the shoulder. "It's been a good while. How have things been?"

"Tell you what," Harry said, consulting his wristwatch, "I have to go drop something off at the Department of Mysteries, and then I can take you to lunch, if you have the time. We can take a bit to get caught up."

"I don't have anything else planned for the rest of the day," Neville said. "Sounds brilliant to me. Where should I meet you?"

"Oh, just come down the lift with me. I won't be a moment," Harry said as the lift doors opened. Neville hesitated.

"Are you supposed to be taking civilians into the Department of Mysteries?" he asked.

"I'm not taking you all the way in, you'll be waiting by the lift," Harry said as he stepped into the lift. He held the door for Neville, who shrugged and stepped in.

"How are the kids?" Harry asked as the lift descended.

"Doing quite well, actually. I do sometimes wish we hadn't sent them to Beauxbatons but Daisy so wanted to go abroad and where Daisy goes, Maggie follows, so that was a done deal. I will admit it makes it easier, not having to worry about accusations of playing favorites because my children are in my classes, and Beauxbatons does have an excellent curriculum, so I suppose I can't complain too heartily. How about yours?" Neville chuckled. "Does James cause as much trouble at home as he does at school?"

Harry sighed and rolled his eyes. "You have no idea. Ginny jokes that he's Fred reincarnated. Somehow he turned the cat inside out last week, no idea how he managed it...gave Lily a proper fright it did...surely he's not causing any problems in your classes, is he?"

"Not yet," Neville admitted, "But nary a day goes by in the staff room without someone regaling tales of woe. Or laughter. Usually laughter, since we can't laugh during the actual stunt. What are we dropping off, by the way? If I'm allowed to know?"

Harry lifted what appeared to be a compass with three hands that were drifting lazily. "It's an experimental Dark Detector they're working on. It's supposed to be able to detect wands that have recently performed Dark magic within your immediate vicinity, but when they had me test it in the field it went haywire..."

"Department of Mysteries," the lift announced, the the grille doors opened. Harry and Neville stepped out.

"It'll be dead useful when they finish it, we'll be able to Apparate directly onto a scene and be able to tell..." he trailed off, and then slowly drew his wand. "Do you hear that?" he asked in a low voice to Neville.

Neville had also drawn his wand, more in response to Harry's sudden vigilant behavior than anything else. He cocked his head to one side. "No," he responded in that same low voice.

"Get behind me," Harry said, and Neville scurried to comply. Harry slowly stepped down the corridor toward the door that led to the Department of Mysteries, listened hard for a moment, eyes closed.

Then Neville heard it too, a great ripping sound like a fruit suddenly and forcefully outgrowing its skin.

"Get down!" Harry shouted, throwing himself atop Neville as diamond sparkling light shone piercingly bright around the edges of the door, just before it blew off its hinges.

There was no heat, no sound, just the feeling of a giant concussive wave...