SPOILERS FOR END OF SEASON 6 (and DH, too)
The Unnatural Chaos
This probably won't go anywhere. If it goes somewhere, a new chapter will be added. If it doesn't, expect my next SPN bunny to be imprisoned here. If that's the way of things, adopt a bunny if you wish, but don't use my wording and please give me a link so that I can check out your story!
I have not seen season 7: do not spoil me with comments!
I have re-written the next bit of OOOK at least three times. I haven't abandoned it yet.
The sun rose, throwing a beam of light between the bedroom curtains. It crossed the floor, a long, gold thread cut into many equal lengths of ten centimetres, cut where it couldn't penetrate the darkness between the floorboards. It jumped up the skirting board and left a ruler of peach-coloured light on the wall.
In the bed, Harry Potter was stirring. His first word of the day was a meaningful blagh and he threw his arm across his eyes in denial of all sunbeams, no matter how poetically pretty. He eased his arm off his face and blinked towards the curtains, which glowed orange as the sun shone through them.
"Mornin,'" he muttered, and pulled back the covers. He shivered. The muggle and wizard forecasts foretold a sunny day, but it was just as reluctant to wake as Harry. And unlike Harry, it didn't appear to have a superior to keep it in check.
One toe, wrapped in a fluffy sock, touched the ground and in that instant Harry felt as though all the heat in his body had been drained out though his extremity. Galvanised into action, he sped across the room, down the hall, and into the shower. He gave the hot water a full two turns.
On any other Tuesday morning, Harry would next have ran a towel through his hair, dashed back to his bedroom to find his clothes waiting for him and the delicious smells of Kreacher's cooking wafting from the kitchen. Kreacher would skulk around nervously, Harry would tell him he didn't have to hide, and then Kreacher would disappear back to Grimmauld Place.
That's what would have happened if the floo didn't chime, and Hermione's voice didn't ring through the house.
Cursing, Harry jumped out the shower and slipped, colliding with the door and grabbing the towel rack. His hand closed around the towel and he pulled it towards him. His back slammed into the sink and he toppled to the floor, towel in one hand and the towel rack empty.
"Bugger," Harry groaned.
"Harry!" Hermione yelled, her voice becoming louder. Harry could hear her footsteps thundering down the corridor and he whimpered. He reached for the side of the sink and pulled himself up. He did not want to Hermione to walk in on him like this.
Harry slung the towel around his hips just as the door opened.
Hermione stared at him, wide-eyed. She took him in. Harry couldn't keep the pained grimace off his face and he knew she could see it, but she just shook her head in exasperation.
"Sheesh, Harry!" Hermione said incredulously, "I don't know if safe to let you live on your own."
"I'm fine," Harry answered, and stepped up to her, pointing down the corridor. "How 'bout you let me get dressed?"
Hermione placed her hands on her hips and scowled at him. She looked as determined as a mother about to inflict some routine necessity upon her child, and for a long moment Harry though she wasn't going to let him get dressed at all. "Fine," she said eventually. "But I need to speak to you, now."
"But I've got to go to work!" Harry protested.
Hermione ground her teeth behind her lips, and Harry could imagine the gritty sound of teeth grating together. "This is much more important that your work."
Hermione closed the door, letting him stand awkward. Harry sighed out low and long, and whipped the towel through his hair. It caught awkwardly around his neck. He ran his comb through his hair only twice and winced as the teeth scraped against his scalp. He gave his razor a single, suspicious look and left the bathroom.
The smell of tomatoes led him to the kitchen. Hermione was sitting at one of the three chairs that sat about the dining table, her hands clasped on the tabletop in front of her. Her thumbs rubbed insistently together, and she frowned at the stove, where Kreacher was stirring soup from where he stood on the counter.
Her head whipped around when Harry walked in.
"You know I wouldn't ask if this wasn't important," she started, "but I really need your fame to back me up on this one."
Harry slouched down across from her and glared across the table. Hermione grimaced and her thumbs rubbed harder together. Harry glanced at them, but his glare did not abate.
Hermione opened her mouth. For several moments, it seemed she was looking for something to say. She swallowed, waited a few more moments, and tried again.
"The shopping alleys, including Diagon, and Platform 9 ¾ have been closed."
Shock. The message permeated Harry's brain like a live wire. "Wh—at!" he cried, standing up and flinging his chair back. Kreacher flicked a finger at it, and it stopped just short of punching hole in the wall. "Do—do you need me to convince them to reopen them or something? That—can't do that!"
"Harry," Hermione said in monotone, "I need you to back them up."
"Are you crazy?" Harry said in disbelief.
"Otherwise," Hermione's voice rose, the pitch of it startling, "We will lose our magic! For Merlin's sake, we might lose it anyway! This is just a damn stopgap." The last words where the quietest.
Harry stagged back. His knees hit the chair and he fell into it. "Okay. Okay, but how do you know this, are you an Unspeakable or something?"
"You are," Harry said flatly. His mind was swirling like all the letters in the Daily Prophet had jumped astride broomsticks and were performing continuous Wronski Feints in infinite directions at infinite heights and his mind was the world's largest quidditch pitch. The words barely made it through the swarm.
"I knew you weren't really training under Madame Pince," Harry mumbled.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Yeah, I'm sure. Are you going to help me?"
"Only if you tell me what's going on," Harry said. Control was coming back to him, and he said the words firmly. He crossed his arms and felt his lips firm into a straight line.
Hermione sighed. "Fine. You know how when people die, they go through they veil?"
"They go somewhere," Hermione answered. "We've only just discovered it in the last fifty years. The veil is the origin of our powers. The spirits go somewhere, and then somehow we… feed off their power or something. All witches and wizards have the power to absorb the veil's power—it's what makes us who we are."
Harry nodded cautiously. Tears that wouldn't be shed built under his eyelids. They were old tears of Sirius. Somehow, this was kind of nice. Knowing that somewhere, Sirius and Lily and James were giving him strength, giving all witches and wizards the gift of magic. What better thing to do with death?
"But the whispers have stopped," Hermione continued. "We think… we think the veil's blocked, and until we can open it we need to use as little magic as possible. I mean it, Hogwarts is dying, Harry!"
"Right." Harry croaked. "Hey. How about we… we go ask them? I could get my mum and dad, or Sirius or Remus to tell us what's wrong."
Hermione's jaw dropped. "Harry!" she sounded scandalised, "you still have the Resurrection Stone?"
Harry shook his head emphatically. "No. No I don't, but Kreacher should be able to get it. He's mine, and the resurrection stone was once mine, and it's powerful, so maybe he could…"
"I won't, Master Harry," Kreacher answered. His head was tilted back, and he stood up on the kitchen bench beside his bubbling soup like a proud stone gargoyle.
Harry blinked. "You won't?"
"Correct, Master Harry," Kreacher said shortly. "Bad magic in that stone. It touches things that should not be touched!"
"But Kreacher," Hermione protested, turning around in her chair and trying to show the house elf respect, "Don't you see? We need this. Can't you feel the loss too, Kreacher?"
Kreacher looked towards Hermioine. It struck Harry as the first time he'd seen him do it, so far as he could remember. His eyes were glistening. Kreacher slowly drooped. His ears sagged, his back bowed, and he slowly shifted back to the soup, stirring around and around.
"Kreacher feels," he whispered, his voice as watery as his eyes. Harry watched the bubble of snot oozing from Kreacher's nostril with something akin to horror. "Kreacher does not like this magic, bad magic!" He flung his head up, and took a deep sniff. The snot disappeared inside his long nose. "Kreacher does not like this magic, but the Mudblood speaks such sense." With that, he disappeared, leaving the soup bubbling on the stove.
"Well," Hermione said sadly, "that answers that then. We didn't know if it affected magical creatures yet."
Harry was slurping soup from a bowl when Kreacher reappeared, startling him into splashing it all over his face. The hot liquid struck his skin and he rubbed it away with his arm. "Aww, Kreacher!" he admonished.
Kreacher reached up to the table, the tiny jewel resting between his gnarled fingertips. He set it gently on the tabletop and then backed away like wary dog. "Use it little, Master," He instructed.
"I will," Harry answered, and picked it up carefully. It was many-faceted, like a diamond, but dull and it didn't sparkled. He turned it over and over in his hands, his thoughts filled with his parents, with Sirius, and with Remus and Tonks and so many others who'd gone slipped past the veil.
"It's not working," Kreacher told them.
"What do you mean, Kreacher?" Hermione asked.
"Kreacher feels," Kreacher insisted. "It pulls, but nothing comes!"
"Do you mean it's blocked?" Harry asked.
Kreacher shuffled and shrugged. "Kreacher feels the pull, but if there is an answer, Kreacher cannot tell."
"Harry," Hermione interrupted. "Try Abby Walls. She was my colleague; she wanted to know so bad… she just walked through." Her stared into her soup, and she clenched the hot bowl tightly.
Abby Walls appeared before them the third time Harry turned the stone. She was young, only a few years older than Harry and Hermione, With a scarf to keep her hair back and eyes that were haunted.
"Hermione!" she cried. "It's worse than we feared. This whole place, it's empty. There's only a few hundred of us, and we only died in the last day!" She ran forward, her insubstantial fingers clawing at Hermione.
"Mione! Mione!" she sobbed. "You've got to save us! We're doomed!"
"Hey!" Harry said, waving his hand at her. She looked up at him, and though her eyes were coloured a deep brown, he could see through her like she wasn't there at all. She was eerie, more than a ghost but less than a human. "You said witches and wizards. My professor, Remus Lupin, he was a wizard but he was a werewolf too, is he gone?"
The woman shook her head. "There's nothing Mr. Potter. They're all gone."
"Abby, listen to me," Hermione tapped the table sharply and stared at the woman who had once worked and laughed and had cups of tea beside her, "Is there anything you can tell us?"
Abby shook and swallowed, still looking at Harry. She looked peered at him dismally out of puffy eyes. "Yes," she whispered.
Hermione and Harry nodded eagerly.
"Yes," Abby whispered. "There was – something. It came in the shape of a man. Daniel, the one who died first, saw Him leave. So powerful, maybe even Merlin couldn't be so strong. Strong enough to wrestle a Nundu he says! That power… I'm sure He took them – everyone who is gone!"
Hermione nodded, but her eyes were wide and fearful. "Okay." She licked her lips. "Anything, can you tell us a name?"
Abby sobbed and shook her head violently, her curly hair waving around behind her. "We know the name. We all do. We want to forget! It's like – it's like V-Vol-Voldemort. But He is greater and more terrible than that man could be!"
She wiped her eyes.
"The name?" Harry pushed.
Abby whined, the high pitch of it reaching skyward, grating on the heart as it climbed until it felt like needles against the skin and the spirit. The cry held its apex and trembled. Abby trembled with it, her body shaking until it could no longer sustain the sound and she collapsed.
It was silent. In that silence, the single word was clear.
Her piece said, Abby faded behind the veil. Kreacher came forward and stood where she lay, and smiled.
"Kreacher feels it," he announced. "Kreacher's power is healed by the lady's echo."
"Kreacher!" Harry said suddenly. He leaned down to the House Elf. "Kreacher, the power, is anywhere on earth?"
Kreacher scowled thoughtfully. He hummed and clicked his fingers. An ancient globe appeared before them, a full meter in diameter. The coastlines were bloated and vague. There were landmasses were there were none, and open water where islands clustered. Kreacher pointed.
Harry disappeared with the powerful crack of apparition.
"Harry!" Hermione cried, jumping to her feet though it was far too late to stop her friend. She coughed. Panic iced her. "K-Kreacher?" she said, desperately turning to the House-Elf.
Kreacher looked at Harry's seat. "Master is healthy," he said softly. "The power the Lady Echo gave is spent. Kreacher and the Mudblood still have the Lady Echo in them."
He turned baleful eyes up at Hermione.
"The Mudblood and Kreacher must go to help Master."