Harry Crow

Disclaimer - I neither own Harry Potter nor profit in any way from my writing posted here. That people take time out of their day (or night) to read my efforts is all the payment I could possibly wish for. Since Harry Crow has been written in its entirety using my iPad, I wouldn't say no to a little sponsorship from Apple - the only people with more money than JKR!

Chapter 86

The three adult occupants of the lighthouse on Flannan Isles were different to the rest of the wizards and witches listening to the Quidditch World Cup Final live broadcast, and not just because the wizarding wireless set they were listening to had been stolen. They neither cared which teams were playing, what moves the players tried or even who won. All they were interested in was at what time the match would finish. When the Bulgarian seeker caught the snitch they cared not a jot about the score, their eyes were instead fixed on the clock on the wall.

"Perfect! Had the game gone on into the night, we may have had to change our planss. We will give it some time for their celebrationss to really get under way before we spoil their party."

Bella had been sitting nursing little Marvolo and now rose to put their growing boy into his crib. Augustus followed her through and stood with his arms around Bella as she settled their son down for the night.

"Don't worry, my big strong wizard, your little Bella has been looking forward to tonight."

"I know, love, I just wish I was coming with you..."

She turned around and kissed her mate. "I'm glad you're not coming, I'll be able to concentrate on killing as many of these bastards as I can. I know my big strong wizard will be safe, and able to come back here to look after our beautiful baby."

"Our baby boy agrees with his father, we both need you back here too..."

This earned Augustus another passionate kiss before his now rather breathless mate made him a promise. "I'll be back, and then my big strong wizard is going to take care of his little witch all night. We might even make a brother or sister for Marvolo."

A few more kisses and it was time to go, Augustus had a job to do. While he would be worried about Bella his mate was right, his mission wasn't really dangerous and should see him return safely to their son.

-oOoOo-

Molly was rattling about in the empty house, she supposed the emptiness felt more pronounced tonight because the Burrow had been full to bursting before her entire family had headed off to the quidditch match. She had listened to the game on the wizarding wireless, more interested in the match passing off without any trouble than the fact that Ireland won. The silence of the house was shattered though by the alarm that signalled the Burrow's wards were under attack.

Thanking every deity that she could think of for her children not being present, Molly flung some floo powder into the fire and was somewhat surprised when it turned green. She'd expected the fire to stay red, blocking the family's escape from the attack. Glancing to the family clock just confused her even more, her hand on the clock was pointing unerringly to home. If the Burrow was under attack, it should be indicating she was in mortal peril. Something wasn't quite right here.

Molly attempted to disapparate up to her bedroom and accomplished that feat, looking out the first floor window again confused her as it showed no visible threats. What she did see seconds later though made her heart soar with relief and joy, a squad of goblin warriors had just portkeyed into their front garden with weapons drawn.

Molly made her way downstairs to greet her very welcome visitors, she grabbed her clock before walking out the front door.

The squad commander knew how important this family was to The Nation, he had warriors checking the wards' perimeter as he approached the head female of the family.

"Ma'am, the wards around your home were certainly attacked, we can find no trace of any attackers though."

"The floo still worked and there were no anti-apparition wards raised, it seems so strange. Even my family clock didn't show any danger." As Molly showed the squad commander her clock, she almost dropped it from fright. Every member of her family, bar her, saw their hands on the clock swing to indicate mortal peril. As Molly emitted a sound that was part scream, part moan, the squad commander was busy shouting orders to his warriors.

-oOoOo-

At Gringotts too, there was a decision to be made.

""Why would anyone attack the Lovegood property when they are with Centurion Crow and his family on his island?""

Two attacks in such a short space of time had never happened before, the knowledge of the other event that had them already on high alert tonight saw the commander quickly reach a decision. If he was wrong then no lives should be lost, there was already a squad at the Weasleys and Gringotts knew for certain the Lovegoods were out of the country.

""Take every warrior we can muster and head for the stadium, I think they are trying to tie our forces up elsewhere by attacking warded properties. I want to hear from those warriors who went to the Weasleys as quickly as possible...""

At that, a warrior raced into the control centre to report as ordered. ""Commander, we found no sign of attackers at the Weasleys. The female had a device which suddenly displayed all her family in mortal peril. The squad commander left two warriors with her on protection detail and sent me here to report. He took the rest of the squad to the stadium.""

This just confirmed the commander's thoughts. ""Well done, warrior. Follow the Centurion here and you may yet see battle tonight. I need to inform The Director about this.""

-oOoOo-

Bella had just cast the dark mark for the first time in over a decade, she then unleashed a barrage of spells against the unsuspecting revellers before apparating to her next position. This was the signal for their master to awaken his warriors before he too began unleashing spells. It was then Bella's turn to open fire before apparating to her final position. Tonight wasn't about how many her spells killed, it was more about causing panic and herding the sheep where they wanted them to go - right into the biggest concentration of inferi. She fired her last set of spells, portkeying out of there just as the pops of apparition announced she had company.

Bella was heading back to their lighthouse, knowing their master would be mere minutes behind. She jumped into her mate's arms the second she arrived, relieved to see his attacks against the wards had been as uneventful as they thought they would be. Their hit and run tactics had worked well tonight, now all they needed was for the inferi to do their work.

-oOoOo-

Fred pulled Ron away from the now advancing inferius while the others started firing spells at it. They were having little effect though, causing Roger to call for a change of tactics.

"It's already dead so we need to hit it with flame, cutting or blasting curses. fire together on three."

Ginny couldn't wait that long, she shouted 'three' and fired the most powerful blasting curse she could at its head. The five boys all seemed to choose the same spell as Ginny and the effect on the inferius was instantaneous, it was blasted apart.

"That didn't seem too bad." Ron was desperately trying to reassure himself, having been literally scared stiff a moment ago. Fred decided to help his younger brother get over his shakes.

"Only because you gave us a warning, Ron, well done."

"Fred's right, we could bring it down because we could see it. I don't really want to enter those trees to get to the stadium though…" Cedric's point was well received, no one wanted to play hide and seek with any more of these things. The curses and explosions around the campsites seemed to have stopped too, all the screaming was now coming from amongst the trees. All six thought that was another absolutely excellent reason not to enter those trees.

"Where's the Order of the Aves with those lovely swords when you need them…" George's comment also gave him an idea, he was a wizard after all. He approached the edge of the trees and lifted a fallen branch, a branch that was soon transfigured into a razor sharp axe. He actually felt better having a physical weapon in one hand and his wand in the other, that was until a dead hand clamped onto the back of his neck.

He was spun around and the hand's partner seized his throat, those ten cold digits appeared determined to meet in the middle of George Weasley's neck. There was also a gaping mouth to deal with, a festering mouth that was doing its best to take a chunk out of him. George found the axe was trapped between his chest and this living nightmare, giving him no leverage at all. He did manage to shove the blade up and into its throat, allowing George to at least try and push that terrible mouth away from his face. His vision was blacking out though from lack of air when a tremendous pain cleared his focus, this thing had got a grip with its teeth and was trying to chew his ear off.

The two were so close and struggling so much that none of the others could get a curse off. They had learned their curses needed to be powerful to be of any use against these inferius, and the risk of hitting George instead with a reducto was just too great. Fred couldn't stand back any longer and, with a wild yell, leapt on the creature to physically attack it. This crazy move saw the three of them bundled to the ground, the big bonus being the inferius found itself being violently pushed onto the axe blade. That sharp blade sliced through the undead creature's neck and removed its head from its body.

As the head flopped from its neck, those teeth were still clamped shut to George's ear. That was until Ginny stepped forward and, with a yell as wild as Fred's, kicked out at that head as hard as she could. It may have taken part of her brother's ear with it but that disgusting and dismembered head sailed back into the trees.

Fred dragged the now headless body off his twin before seizing the axe out of George's hands. The thing that had dared to attack his twin would never move again by the time Ginny managed to pull a berserk Fred away, he had hacked the already dead body to bits.

Ron practically dragged a choking George back into the little clearing in front of the tents while Cedric and Roger continually scanned the area for any more of these things. As Ginny then led Fred back to their little group, it was the Ravenclaw, Roger, who began levitating anything he could get his wand on to start forming a barrier. Fallen logs, rocks, anything at all was soon being transformed into thick, twisted brambles with wicked thorns.

"We don't want to give them any cover, just slow the bastards down. They won't be able to sneak up on us using this, just get trapped so we can blast them to bits."

Cedric was soon helping Roger with this task while Ginny and Ron kept their eyes peeled, ready to shout out a warning and open fire. Fred was down on the ground beside his injured twin, a blanket quickly snatched from the tent helping to lessen George's shaking.

While George's right ear was a bloody mess, his throat was also bruised and swollen - making speaking difficult. He still tried though and, in typical Weasley twin fashion, attempted to make a joke out of what had just happened.

"Looks like mum will be able to tell us apart now."

"Well, since the only one I allow to chew my ear is Angelina, that's just gonna have to be the case from now on."

"Wait until I tell Angelina that one."

"I might tell her myself, after tonight."

"I know exactly what you mean, brother mine. Go and help the guys, just leave me my axe. At least we know that works against the ugly bastards."

Fred left George lying in the middle of an area that was now surrounded by the wickedest looking brambles he'd ever laid eyes on. He helped the other four patrol what was now their safe zone, all of them mentally trying to drown out the screams that were still coming from deeper in the woods. That first inferius had actually done them a tremendous favour. Without their group almost running into it, they would have raced into the middle of what sounded like a war zone.

Draco was right in the middle of what felt like a war zone. He'd been overjoyed when Harry got him tickets, now he was wishing he was still lying on that beach beside Pansy.

The free tickets saw Blaise's father accompanying Draco, Blaise and Theo to the final, Harry even loaned them a tent. All had been having a wonderful time until the dark mark appeared in the sky, and the curses started killing people. Draco knew at once who would be behind this, and also what fate awaited him if Voldemort or his crazy aunt got their wands on him. They had been one of the first groups to react and head for the safety of the stadium. The stadium may be safe but the route to it was proving deadly, running the gauntlet through an army of inferi would certainly result in the ranks of the dead being swollen tonight.

A dark wood full of inferi would easily be Draco's bogart memory from now until the day he died, he certainly never wanted to be part of anything worse than this. He had seen people snatched as they were running, their family and friends struggling to cast any spells for fear of hitting the person grabbed. Sometimes there were enough people there to overpower the creature, and sometimes the creatures were the ones doing the overpowering.

The aurors had been on the scene pretty quickly but initially had to stop scared witches and witches firing off flame curses at every shadow. After a long hot summer, the woods were tinder dry and their aim was anything but true. These wild flame curses were doing more damage than help in this close quarters battle.

Their time working with the marauders had never been more welcome. The information they had been teaching students soon kicked in, and provided the tactics they needed for their group to survive. Finding a small thicket of trees suitable for their purpose, they quickly established a defensible position.

They had tried to coax others to do the same but they were too busy racing headlong into trouble. Frightened people were so desperate to escape from the perceived threat behind them, they blundered straight into the waiting arms of the inferi. Other than stun people into submission, there was really nothing more they could do. Who was going to listen to a bunch of kids when they were under attack from Voldemort?

Having watched his son teaching tactics to the younger Hogwarts students at the fayre, Blaise's father was happy to go along with their ideas and had his wand ready to defend their position if needed. They would pick off any inferius that came within range but could only convince one family, whose son was in the defence club Draco helped teach, to join them amongst their little tree fort.

It was only the arrival of the goblins that the battle swung in their favour. The aurors were then able to concentrate solely on escorting everyone to the safety of the warded stadium while the goblins took over the hunt for the inferi. There were some angry warriors in those woods, they hunted the inferi the way a poacher goes after game. For all the terror these undead horrors had brought to the magical people running around in the dark woods, the warriors might well have been picking off rabbits on the village green. No inferi stood a chance against those flashing blades, they were being systematically hunted down before being hacked to pieces.

When more reinforcements arrived from Gringotts, the warriors set up a skirmishing line and swept the woods clean. Aurors and healers were close behind to provide light for the warriors to work with, and aid for any wounded.

Only when the reinforcements reached them did Draco and Blaise have their group stand down from the little thicket of trees. Their small fort had provided a defensible position and shelter from the carnage they had witnessed taking place all around them. Their group began to make its way to the safety of the stadium, picking their route through the now swept woods. Not one of them though put their wand away.

Bill and Percy were combing through the survivors, looking for the rest of their family. Their father, Amos and Charlie were searching in the other direction, a patronus message would be sent the instant one of them found the six teens.

Spotting The Director, Bill still at least retained the sense to drop his conjured sword on the grass before approaching.

""Well met, Assistant Ambassador, you look as if you've been administering some goblin diplomacy to these abominations in the woods tonight.""

He had no idea how haggard his appearance was, nor did he care, all Bill wanted was to end the horrible visions of those undead bodies feasting on his family. The only way to do that was to see his brothers and sister with his own eyes, a patronus message from his father saying they were fine would certainly take the edge off though.

""Forgive me, Director, I'm not exactly at my best right now. I left half a dozen Hogwarts students to make their way from the campsite to the stadium and am worried sick about them. I was wondering if you had heard anything?""

Ragnok could clearly see the anguish making that decision was causing this fine young wizard. If anything happened to that group, it could easily break both father and son - a father and son who were very important to The Nation. ""I shall assign warriors to search for them…""

The goblin leader was cut off by a loud shout and a little redhead moving at speed. Crying her eldest brother's name, Ginny slammed straight into Bill, her desperate hug accompanied by a question. "Where's dad, Charlie and Amos?"

The sense of relief Bill felt holding his sister and seeing his brothers were alive rendered him speechless for the moment, it was left to Percy to answer Ginny's question. "They're all okay and currently searching for you lot. George, what happened to you?"

"One of those things tried to give me a love bite. I need all of you lot to convince Alecia I tried to fight it off, can't have my girl getting jealous."

The squad leader who had found the group of teens made his report directly to Ragnok, Bill had yet to speak or released his hold on Ginny.

""Director, the Assistant Ambassador has taught them well. They stayed in a clearing and erected a barrier around their group, creating a most effective defensive shield and killing ground. They had permanently downed four of the undead by the time we got there.""

Percy sent off his patronus, informing the others that all were safe and they would meet at the first aid tent. Bill had snapped out of his funk enough to thank everyone involved for rescuing his family. The squad commander wouldn't hear of it though.

""They didn't need rescuing, Assistant Ambassador, just to be told it was now safe to leave their defences. They used their heads and fought like warriors.""

Ragnok had a word for Bill before he left. ""There were protected houses around Ottery St Catchpole where the wards were attacked tonight, first on that list was the Weasley property. We're now sure it was merely a ruse to keep our forces away from here, rather than any serious attempt to breach our wards. Your mother has a warrior protection detail, and also a device that indicated you were all in mortal peril. You should contact your mother as quickly as possible to let her know her family is safe.""

The first aid tent held twenty beds but was clearly swamped. George was regarded as walking wounded so took a seat outside. Even within the few minutes they had been here, all could see that George's injury was minor compared to some that were being carried in. One thing not in short supply was healers, Amelia's contingency plans swinging into action as soon as the alarm was raised.

The healer was working on George just before Arthur managed to get there. While the family reunions were taking place all around them, the healer had some bad news for George. While healing his neck was the work of a few minutes, his ear was an entirely different matter.

"Injuries caused by dark magic are notoriously difficult to treat, and magic doesn't come much darker than inferi. I need to clean the wound up to prevent the danger of infection, unfortunately I can't repair the damage or regrow what you've lost. You are going to have part of your ear missing for the rest of your life."

Having watched as people were carried in with chunks of their face missing, George wasn't about to complain.

After hearing about the supposed attack on the Burrow, Arthur knew his wife would be going spare. Even although Molly's family clock would be telling her they were now out of danger, Arthur was well aware she wouldn't believe that until they returned home.

Arthur made a portkey to the Burrow, right at the front gate so as not to surprise the guards now posted there. Charlie was going to take all the younger ones home, Cedric and Roger would be able to use the floo at the Burrow to get to where they wanted to go. Percy decided to stay and help Bill, the goblin involvement guaranteed there would be work for them to do. With a final hug of his four youngest, Arthur stood back and watched Charlie take them home. He and Amos would certainly have work to do now too.

-oOoOo-

Amelia was suffering from a tiredness that seeped all the way through to her very bones, no pun intended. Her anger though would keep her going for a few more hours yet, it would need to. They had taken over one of the hospitality suites at the stadium to hold this meeting, none of those attending were feeling very hospitable though. Both the Irish and Bulgarian Ministers were here, with representatives from their ministries too. She could see some of the Bulgarians looking down their noses at Ragnok and a hastily summoned Barchoke, she decided to nip that in the bud from the off.

"Can I start by offering our appreciation to our goblin friends. While my aurors would certainly have prevailed in the end, their methods and expertise at swiftly dispatching the inferi saved many lives."

One of the Bulgarian party asked rather aggressively how the goblins knew to respond, since he was unaware of any call for assistance being sent out. Amelia was just about to demand he explain himself when Barchoke prevented an international incident kicking off, tempers were understandably frayed in here tonight.

"While we had warriors on high alert in the event an attack was made on the stadium wards, Gringotts still monitors and protects many places the length and breadth of Britain. We got our first alarm when the Weasley residence was attacked."

This was news to most of the people there, even Amelia hadn't heard the full story.

"When the Lovegood residence was next to be attacked, the controller on duty was naturally suspicious. He knew the Lovegoods were currently holidaying with my family on a tropical island and suspected a ruse to keep our forces busy. That ruse would only be necessary if the attackers were going after a bigger target, he gambled on sending warriors to protect the fans at the stadium. Ambassador Weasley's wife has a wonderful family heirloom that shows the condition of her family, it showed they were in danger. When the warriors sent to protect the Weasley family found no actual attack, the squad commander left a few guards before heading for the stadium where the rest of the family were in danger."

Barchoke then turned his attention directly to Amos. "The third property under our protection in Ottery St Catchpole was then attacked. Though we sent a small squad, the Chief Warlock's wife was startled but in no danger. I believe she flooed to the Burrow to await news with Mrs Weasley."

Again Amelia offered her thanks before continuing with her briefing. "This whole attack reeks of a well organised plan. They seemed to know where the wards ended and placed the infiri outside the ward boundaries. The dark mark in the sky and curses firing into the campsite got the fans moving. As everyone knows, there was a grassy avenue either side of the small woods. These avenues were the next targets. People were being hit with killing curses out in the open, they would naturally seek shelter in the woods. That's where the vast majority of the inferi were waiting..."

"How could this be set up right under your noses?"

Amelia didn't get angry at what was a fair question, she was saving that anger for someone who deserved it. Voldemort obviously got a lot more information out of poor Bertha than they were led to believe, led to believe by that lying fucking toad, Umbridge. "We have been on site for the last month and this entire area, including those woods, was swept for threats daily. We can only assume that the inferi were already buried in place before then and, being already dead, they wouldn't register as a threat until they became active."

All were beginning to see just how well this plan had been executed. Privately, the Irish and Bulgarian Ministers were thinking they wouldn't have dealt with the situation any better. The big question still had to be asked though. "What are the casualty figures?"

Amelia's head was bowed as she gave out the horrific news. "The number of dead is approaching a hundred, and that figure is expected to rise still. Wizard, witch, child, British, Irish, Bulgarian, the inferi didn't discriminate. We lost about seven people to curses from the death eaters, the inferi accounted for the rest. We have quite a few seriously wounded too, a very bad night for all of us."

No one there disagreed with that assessment. It would soon be daylight though and then the real clean-up operation would begin. Cornelius intended to call a meeting of the Wizengamot for three o'clock in the afternoon to inform them of what happened, he invited their Irish, Bulgarian and Goblin friends to attend. Cornelius had learned the truth about these events usually got out, it was better if everyone learned the facts at the same time.

-oOoOo-

With the Maldives being five hours ahead of the UK, it was already approaching noon local time when Barchoke and the two Slytherins appeared. Draco was scheduled to return later on today and Blaise had jumped at the chance of beginning to put last night's horror behind him. He couldn't think of a better method of starting to do that than lying on a tropical beach with Parvati, surrounded by their friends.

It was certainly weird to be sitting in this beautiful setting and describing the horrific happenings of last night. Dan had asked the first question. "For the benefit of us dentists here, could someone tell me what these inferi are?"

His daughter was really the only one with the combined knowledge to describe these creatures to a couple of muggles. "Dad, think zombies and you won't be too far away."

"What? Are we talking 'Night of the Living Dead' here, real flesh eating zombies?"

Staying with the Grangers had seen Barchoke develop a taste for tea, the goblin was sipping a cup of that wonderful brew at the moment while trying to answer people he now considered family. "I don't know what a zombie is, Dan, but an inferius is an animated corpse that will claw and bite at its victim until they are dead. I saw George Weasley with part of an ear missing, and he was certainly one of the lucky ones."

This analogy met with Draco's agreement, the Slytherin found himself shivering in the tropical heat as he spoke about last night. "We could certainly have used you four, and those blades of yours last night. Perhaps people would have listened to you, they ignored us and just kept running into more danger. We tried coaxing, ordering, even screaming at them, nothing worked. The aurors were trying to keep people safe and fight the inferi at the same time, the arrival of the warriors really changed things for the better. Their blades chopped the inferi into pieces like we would use practice dummies, it was awesome to watch."

Alice and Frank had been aurors in the last war and were well aware of what an Inferius was. You could slaughter them by the dozen with flame curses if they were advancing across open ground, facing them in a wood at night was an entirely different matter. It was Alice though who voiced their thoughts about something that had yet to be mentioned.

"I'm struggling to see what Voldemort gains from this. Yes, his plan has killed a lot of people and yes, it's also an embarrassment to the ministry. Apart from reminding people he's still around, I can't see what else he gains from this. Don't ask me to explain it but this feels so much more than just a grand gesture to prove he's still an evil murdering bastard."

This drew Barchoke's first smile since he'd been summoned from this island to return to Britain. "Your auror instincts are still keen, Alice, we at Gringotts are thinking the very same. This was not an obvious attack on Harry, anyone who knows him could tell you his only interest in quidditch is when Hermione wears a Harpies jersey."

"Whatever it is, we need to return home…"

"NO."

Harry looked at his father with a bit of shock , not used to having his suggestions so abruptly shouted down. "Do you expect me to sit here in safety while people in Britain are suffering from this attack?"

"Centurion Crow, I expect you to follow orders. The Director has ordered you to remain here until we can discover just what Riddle is up to. You yourself have said, more than once, this is the safest place to be. You will be staying here until we get a lot more information. I realise this is not what you wanted to hear, son, but that's the way it has to be - at least until we discover just what Voldemort's plan is. Every profile we have on him indicates that won't be long. After that, we can begin to make plans of our own."

His father was right, Harry was not happy with that news. They had only planned on being here for another four days anyway, before heading back to Kingussie on Saturday. The Hogwarts Express left Kings Cross on Monday but they were all ready and prepared for that.

They had stormed Diagon Alley with three sets of Potter Scholarship students, delighted to see the place getting back on its feet. Fortescue had actually reserved all his front tables for them when it became known they were in the alley. After the amount of business he did at the fayre, he thought it was only fitting.

Euan was hyper excited to tell them about his new house, a house that was only a ten minute ride on his bicycle from Natalie's. Jenny had confirmed that had sealed her decision on what university to choose, being able to live so close to the McDonalds. Roy and Mary appeared delighted to be able to take the young Abercrombie family under their wings, almost as delighted as Jenny and Euan were to be sheltering there. Harry's idea of the Potter Scholarships becoming like family was now paying unexpected bonuses.

With all their business in Britain already taken care of, there really was no other pressing reason to race home. With The Director ordering him to stay here, he simply didn't have any other option. Looking around at his friends and family, his eyes lingering on babies Jamie and Astrid, Harry actually smiled. All in all, there were worst places to be stuck than here in this company.

-oOoOo-

Dolores would have loved to have such an option, she was currently stuck between a rock and a hard place. An enraged Minister of Magic was loudly tearing strips off her and Ludo.

"You two sat there and told me that poor Bertha only knew 'general details', and that everything would be publicised anyway. Was knowing exactly where the wards would extend to 'general details'? Did I miss that the campsite for the event would be on a muggle's farm being publicised? These bastards knew every little detail, and must have set this whole thing up at least by the start of summer."

"Cornelius, old chap. Can I just say in my defence, I didn't actually know any of those facts..."

"...and you think that excuses you, Ludo? You're supposed to be a head of department. Not only should you know all those details, you should have been involved in determining every single one of them."

"A wizard can't spread himself too thin..."

It was Amelia who interrupted Ludo this time. "Funny you should say that, my information tells me that's exactly what you've done." She might have used the word funny, but there was absolutely no mirth coming from Amelia.

"You took a load of bets on the outcome of the final, bets you can't cover."

"Who says I can't cover them?"

"Oh, so you do have the twenty thousand galleons Ambassador Barchoke says you owe to citizens of The Nation?"

He was instantly dismissive of that argument. "What? You're worried about gambling debts with goblins? I would have thought you had more to deal with at the moment than that, Amelia?"

Ludo suddenly had a face full of a very angry witch. "I have far more important things to deal with, but here's our problem. You, however strange it might seem, are a department head at the Ministry of Magic. Your behaviour, while you hold that position, not only reflects on the rest of us, it's held up as an example of how the ministry carries out its business too."

"They bet on Krum catching the snitch but Ireland winning the game. It was a mug's bet, I covered as many of them as I could get my hands on..."

It was Amos who interrupted this time, Amelia looked ready to draw her wand and begin cursing this fool. "Since I'm not a gambler, excuse me here if I'm pointing out the blindingly obvious. How can that be a mug's bet, wasn't that the actual result of the match?"

"Exactly! What fool of a seeker would catch the snitch when it meant their team would lose..."

The smug look on Ludo's face was like a red rag to Cornelius' temper. "Enough! Exactly how much do you owe?"

"Well, I got lucky when a few wizards I owed gold to didn't make it out of those woods..."

Amos found himself having to physically place his body between Amelia and Ludo, she appeared angry enough to tear the cretin apart with her bare hands. Cornelius didn't miss though, the Minister of Magic had Ludo in his sights.

"Ludo, you will give Amelia all the details of those you owe gold from betting on the outcome of the final, the ministry will honour those bets."

"Why thank you, Cornelius. Pretty decent of you, old chap..."

"Once you have given Amelia those details, you will make your way to my office where I will accept your letter of resignation..."

This shocked the former quidditch player. "Why in the name of Merlin would I do that?"

"...because if you don't, I will sack you and then hand you over to the goblins so they can extract what you owe them."

Ludo was trying to be confident, he certainly didn't feel so. "The Wizengamot would never stand for a wizard being handed over to the goblins..."

"If you resign, I will inform the Wizengamot that you were in no way responsible for last night's disaster. You felt, since you were the wizard in charge, your honour dictated you had to go. Should you fight me on this, I'm sure we could at least make a charge of gross negligence stick. Since that negligence led to about a hundred deaths, I feel sure the Wizengamot would see you placed in Azkaban for a considerable time."

Cornelius glanced at the clock before continuing. "I address the Wizengamot in forty-five minutes. If I haven't received your resignation by then, I will be asking Amelia to have you arrested. Either way, your tenure in the Ministry of Magic ends now - get out!"

Ludo was speechless, how had this happened? He glanced around the room and saw no help forthcoming, even Dolores was keeping her head down. It would appear it was time for him to leave.

As the door closed behind Ludo, Cornelius turned his attention to Dolores. "Your career is hanging by a thread, Dolores, lie to me and you will follow Ludo out of here. Would it be safe to assume Voldemort knows every fucking detail of this tournament?"

No one had ever seen Cornelius Fudge this angry, few knew he could even get like this. Dolores could only nod, her voice having deserted in the face of this unparalleled fury. Both Fudge's fists slammed into the table, making her almost jump out her seat.

"If we didn't need this tournament to be a success in order to help heal relations between us and the Bulgarians, the event would be cancelled and your arse would be following Ludo's out that door - and straight out the ministry too."

He then proceeded to tell her how things were going to be from now on. "You will start working on changes at once, and you will be based at Hogwarts for the duration of the event. The entire tournament had better run as smooth as silk or you will be out of a job, your entire career is now riding on this. Do a good job, or else. Do a great job, well a vacancy just opened up. I know you're going to be busy so we won't keep you any longer."

Dolores shot out of there as if her robes were on fire, Cornelius' ire was so hot they just might be. The minister was sitting rubbing his temples as Amelia asked him a simple question.

"Would you really make her a head of department?"

"Carrot and stick, Amelia. If she makes this tournament into the amazing success we need, I just might. I don't really have time to replace her at the moment, I'm open to suggestions though to who we have in reserve if we're forced to give Dolores the chop."

Those suggestions would have to wait until after the Wizengamot meeting, thankfully Ludo's letter of resignation arrived five minutes before the meeting started.

-oOoOo-

Amelia had a large map of the area, which she was using very effectively, to tell the story of exactly what had happened after the cup final to all in the Wizengamot chamber. It clearly showed the stadium and the landscape of the muggle farmer's fields that had been used as the official campsite. The auror debriefings had given Amelia a very clear picture of what had actually happened, her job now was to pass that knowledge on to the chamber.

"Both Voldemort and Lestrange were seen firing curses last night, leaving us to believe Rookwood's task was to trigger the ward alarms and keep the warriors busy." She pointed her wand to the map and the first attack was indicated.

"The dark mark was raised and three curses were fired into the camp, before Lestrange disapperated away. Voldemort then opened fire from here, four curses later and then he too moved."

Steadily flicking her wand brought up the progression of the attack sites, as they kept moving position after firing a few spells. In the calm light of day, all could clearly see these attacks were designed to push panicked witches and wizards into the woods - where the inferi waited. You didn't have to be a genius to understand how that would unfold, with the biggest loss of life Magical Britain had ever suffered in a single attack.

"My aurors were trying to fight a close-quarters battle with inferi while also trying to get people safely out of those woods, a task that was made a lot easier when our goblin friends arrived..."

Amelia stopped mid-sentence because of another type of arrival, a crow had somehow made its way into the chamber. It headed for the minister but she was pleased to see her aurors managed to bring the bird down before it could reach Cornelius. The letter tied to its leg was very carefully scanned before being handed to its intended recipient, Minister Cornelius Fudge was written across the envelope.

The chamber was totally silent as Cornelius read the letter, all noticing the colour draining from his complexion as he did so. It was a clearly shaken minister who stood to address the chamber. The bottom of the letter claiming that copies were being sent to others too - the Daily Prophet amongst them - left him no choice. He had no reason to believe that threat was a bluff, so the Wizengamot and their guests were better hearing this news from him.

"I have just received a message from the criminal who carried out last night's atrocities, I think it's only fair you get to hear what this madman says."

Cornelius then read out the letter to a captivated audience.

Last night was something that should never have happened, I certainly didn't want to do it. Every drop of magical blood spilled is a waste and a loss. I was simply left with no choice but to react to these repeated attacks against me and my beliefs.

Our country has embraced views that are so dangerous, they will end a way of life I'm prepared to fight to the death to protect. In order to return the balance that has been lost, I am offering this simple solution.

Kill Harry Potter and I will leave Britain for good - safe in the knowledge that saner heads will then see our beloved country once more in the right hands.

While Harry Potter lives, I will continue to wage war on an unjust Britain. Since he hides himself behind wards like the coward he is, I will simply have to wage my war the best way I can. The responsible witches and wizards of Britain must ask themselves this question, what is one life when you could save so many unnecessary deaths? I await your answer...Lord Voldemort.

The chamber was now in an uproar, and not just because Fudge said the scary name out loud.

A/N Thanks for reading.

A/N 2 'Every drop of magical blood spilled is a waste and a loss' is a direct quote from JKR's final book of the series.