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Chapter 4: Rising From The Ashes
Rising From The Ashes
Hermione was holding on to one of Ron’s hand as tears ran down her face. Luna was holding on to the other, as the two women cried while the cleric spoke over Hagrid’s grave.
News of his death had spread through Hogwarts, which quickly filtered into the general public. It was all over the Daily Prophet and many other newspapers that the half-giant groundskeeper had been killed in the Forbidden Forest. All stated that Hagrid had been killed by creatures in the forest; the cover up story sent out by the Auror Department and Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Some newspapers however mentioned some suspicion behind his death, and the manner detailed by the Ministry.
As the cleric finished speaking, waving his wand over the grave and the Earth covering over Hagrid’s body, Hermione broke into more tears, burying her face into Ron’s shoulder. Ron’s eyes were spilling tears too, and he hugged both Luna and Hermione.
‘I can’t believe he’s gone’ Hermione whispered from Ron’s shoulder, Ron trying to console her grief. Luna came over and gave Hermione a hug, and the two women comforted each other. Ron looked towards the Black Lake, seeing Harry sitting on a rock in the distance.
‘I’m going to see how he is’ Ron said, looking back at Hermione and Luna. Both nodded, and Ron started off.
Harry was throwing stones into the Black Lake. Ron quietly came up, and sat down next to his best friend. Harry did not even look, but kept his gaze towards the dull lake.
‘It’s my fault’ Harry said to the rocks in his hands.
‘No it isn’t Harry’ Ron answered sincerely, knowing that Harry would do this to himself. Harry sighed, and threw another stone into the Lake.
‘It is Ron. The Phoenix was right there, right damn well there, and I couldn’t stop him. He made me watch Hagrid die, and Hagrid knew I failed.’ Harry frowned and looked at his lap as he sniffled and wiped his glazed eyes.
‘Hagrid wouldn’t blame you for what happened. He knew there was a risk, and we tried our best-‘
‘Well it wasn’t enough was it!’ Harry fumed, getting up and chucking a stone as far as he could. A tentacle from the squid came up out of the water, and Harry cursed at it in anger.
Ron did not know exactly what to do. In his Hogwarts years, he would have shouted that Harry was being stupid, and walked back to the Common Room to meet up with him later when he was calmer. But this was very different now. Their lives were much more complicated, and while they were still close, he knew they were not as close as they use to be. He had Luna and the baby coming, and Harry had Hermione.
Getting up off the rock, Ron turned and started back--putting his hands in his pockets. He looked back to see Harry breathing heavily, wiping his face again. Ron opened his mouth to say something, but resolved to continue back towards the group that still lingered around Hagrid’s grave.
Harry glanced behind him to see Ron walking away. He was so upset over everything that had happened, he felt like cursing the world back a year.
It seemed every time he closed his eyes, he would see Hagrid’s last glance; those big, hopeless eyes looking at him. Every blink became mental torture—Harry being constantly reminded of his failing to stop the Phoenix.
Worst of all was that Hagrid somehow knew Harry had failed. Those last words that he spoke kept ringing in Harry’s head like a toll bell.
‘Don’ blame yerself for my death Harry.’
As much as Harry wished to accept this, he could not. Hagrid knew full well he would blame himself for what happened, and that is exactly what he was doing. Harry kept going through all the ways he could have done it differently; how he could have perhaps changed one action that would have saved Hagrid.
‘What’s done is done Harry, stop thinking of how it could have been’ a hushed voice came from behind him.
‘Don’t tell me what to think’ Harry aggressively responded, not looking to see Hermione sitting down. She remained quiet for some time, before finally taking a deep breath, and saying something. He already knew she would press on him not being responsible. Harry would normally agree with Hermione to stop an argument from forming, but this time he was too upset to have someone trying to encourage him not to take the blame. If it came to quarrelling, then so be it.
‘It was your fault.’
Harry stared at the ground for a moment, before he looked at her. Her eyes were red from crying, and her face was pale. She was looking out at the lake, and did not make contact with Harry’s eyes.
‘I know’ he replied quietly.
‘It was all your fault that Hagrid died’ she repeated evenly, still staring out at the lake. Harry closed his eyes and let the words go through him like a dagger. Part of him felt he deserved such a harsh reality check, while another wished Hermione would in fact try to make him realise he was not to blame.
‘That’s what you want to hear, isn’t it? That all the blame falls on you, and no one else?’ Hermione added, finally looking at Harry. His breath fell, and he quickly realised she was trying to encourage him.
He shook his head, and glanced at her. His eyes fell upon her caring brown eyes for a moment, before he turned away and sighed.
Hermione had a way of making Harry realize his confusion or, in some cases, stupidity, without making him feel completely incompetent. His mind was conflicted however. Part of him believed what Hermione was going to argue, while another felt it had to hold out for being to blame for it all; like it was purposely trying to torture his head because he deserved it.
He knew that an argument was on the horizon, even though he really did not want it, and he could not look at her while trying to explain himself. Sometimes just her glance would make him accept her view, and he wanted to speak his mind.
‘It is my fault Hermione-‘
‘If it’s your fault, then it’s Ron and mine’s too. Yes you were on watch, but Ron should have been faster to get up. And I shouldn’t have left for the night, I should have stayed. And it’s Hagrid’s fault too, because he should have gone somewhere else safe. And it’s Kingsley’s fault, because he didn’t accept our theory of Hagrid being the next victim. And it’s—‘
‘I get the point’ Harry reassured tiredly, Hermione continuing to press.
‘No you don’t Harry; the blame isn’t ours, it’s the Phoenix’s. He’s the one who killed Hagrid, not you, not Ron or I, or anyone else.’
Harry looked up at the lake, gazing across its calm surface. He took a calming breath, and acknowledged Hermione’s points. He was still upset with himself, he still knew a lot of the blame lied with him, and he still saw Hagrid’s eyes looking at him in the darkness. Hermione was right however, in that the Phoenix was the one who killed Hagrid, not himself. He had to remember like he did when he was fighting Voldemort: it is not the protector's fault for a murder, it is the killers.
‘Don’ blame yerself for my death Harry.’
Harry opened his eyes, and gazed at the edge of the lake with thoughts meandering through his mind. Hermione took the gaze to mean that he agreed with her, or at least was not going to argue, and she slowly nestled over into Harry’s shoulder, wrapping her arm around his back.
'You going to be O.K.?' she asked.
‘Yeah. Sorry’ Harry whispered, giving her a kiss on the head and rubbing her waist.
‘You don’t have to be sorry Harry, not to me. Ron perhaps, but he understands just as I do. We just need to catch this Phoenix before he kills again.’
Harry and Hermione continued to sit on the rock for some time. The Phoenix’s words continued to sound in Harry’s head, about Hermione being a future victim, but he decided not to alert her just yet. He was worried of course, dreadfully, but he had enough to deal with before that. He knew his concern for Hermione would be shadowed by his sadness for Hagrid.
The biggest question was how it could be Voldemort, and why he was so set on being called the Emerald Phoenix? He even corrected Hagrid when he killed him. There was something fishy about it all.
‘What are you thinking about?’ Hermione asked from his shoulder. Harry looked down at her, and gave her a soft kiss.
‘I’m trying to figure what will come next, and how Voldemort came back.’
‘Well, for now’ Hermione voiced, taking hold of Harry’s hand and intertwining their fingers, ‘let’s go back and talk to Ron and the rest. We need to talk, and we need to go home and get some rest.’
‘No, we need to get started’ Harry insisted, Hermione looking at Harry.
‘You haven’t slept in almost two days Harry, you need sleep, please’ she persisted, keeping her auburn eyes on Harry. He felt uncomfortable with the notion of sleep, so much work having to be done. And they had serious time constraints. Who knew when the Phoenix would attack again, and Kingsley would be on their tails about the case
Yet Harry had to acknowledge the lack of sleep, and how it was seriously impinging on his eyesight and other faculties. Just keeping his eyes closed in thought made him yearn for sleep.
He nodded, and Hermione gave him a soft but longing kiss. Since Hagrid’s death, Harry had been totally engulfed by the investigation, and they had little time to themselves. Mixed with his dreariness, he slipped into the kiss slowly, and felt like falling asleep right there next to the Lake.
The two walked back hand in hand, Harry still feeling terrible about everything. He was comforted by the knowledge of Hermione and everyone else’s help and support, but a dark cloud still hung over him.
‘Alright Harry?’ Luna asked, Ron remaining quiet.
‘Yeah. I’m sorry mate, for . . . well, for what I said and such’ Harry admitted to Ron. Ron grinned diminutively, and nodded.
‘It’s alright Harry, I understand. You and Hagrid always had a liking to each other. I remember the story of him coming to get you from your Aunt and Uncle’s’ Ron reminisced, and shadow of a smile wiping across his face.
‘I still remember when he gave Dudley a tail’ he said, letting out a small chuckle that passed through the four of them.
‘I’m going to miss him’ Hermione whispered, looking at the sky for a moment, then wiping a tear from her eye as she looked at Hagrid’s grave, where a tombstone sat on top.
‘We all will, but at least we have some amazing memories of him’ Ron professed.
They stood there next to Hagrid’s grave, and quietly reminisced of his antics and adventures. From Fluffy the three headed dog, to Buckbeak, to his adventure to find the Giants, and his heroics fighting against Death Eaters with the Centuars; they all had wonderful memories of the biggest man they ever knew.
By time they began to walk towards Hogsmede, everyone else had left. Professor McGonagall, who was now Headmistress, had discussed what happened with everyone, and she—along with several professors—were scheduled to attend a meeting that was going to be held at the Ministry later that day. Harry and the others were ordered to attend to give their findings so far on the Emerald Phoenix.
Ron and Luna bid Harry and Hermione farewell, and went home. Ron had stayed right next to Harry the last few days, and had accumulated the same lack of sleep.
‘I feel like I should never sleep again until the Phoenix is found’ Harry mumbled as he and Hermione walked.
‘We are all in this Harry. Nothing will change from when you go to sleep to when you wake except the clock.’
Harry gave a short smile, Hermione squeezing his hand, and the two of them Apparated back to their flat.
‘Didn’t I say not to go to Hagrid’s?’
Kingsley was debriefing the three Aurors as they sat in his office, minutes before the meeting at the Ministry was to occur. Harry and Ron were still terribly sleepy, however they managed to look semi-decent for the meeting. Hermione decided to explain why they went.
Kingsley sighed angrily, and stood up from his desk. ‘Don’t you realize how dangerous that was?’
‘That’s exactly why we went!’ Harry argued. Kingsley was angry that he didn’t tell them to go, and was trying to claim some correctness in his initial decision, even though it was totally wrong. At least that was what Harry was thinking.
‘Do you even know what you did?’ Kingsley asked Harry directly, the fire in Harry’s belly beginning to flare.
‘We tried to save Hagrid!’ Harry asserted, Hermione placing her hand on his to try and calm him down. Kingsley rubbed his forehead and sighed slowly.
‘No Harry, you could have led the Phoenix to Hagrid. If you felt so deeply inclined to worry about Hagrid, you should have gotten him to go somewhere safe away from Hogwarts.’ Harry was getting very agitated by Kingsley. It was bad enough that he was trying to deal with not being able to save Hagrid, but being told he should have done something else was just reversing the work Hermione had done earlier in the day.
‘Hagrid didn’t want to leave, so what were we supposed to do? Go home, work on paper work and just let the Phoenix waltz up and kill him?’ Harry questioned fervently.
Kingsley stood up and sighed for a moment, before pacing behind his desk and looking at his three Aurors.
‘No Harry, but you should have followed tangible evidence! How do you know that this Phoenix didn’t orchestrate this vision of yours? And how do you know that the Phoenix might have just been waiting for you to assume the next victim, then kill whoever you thought it would be? You don’t, and that’s why Divination evidence can’t be trusted.’
‘How do you know the Phoenix isn’t House-Elf?’ Ron murmured, everyone looking at him. He hadn’t spoken a word since entering the office.
‘What?’ Kingsley asked with a queer look on his tired face.
‘How do you know the Phoenix isn’t a House-Elf? Or that he chose Hagrid because he has a thing against Giants? Or maybe he has something against clumsy people?’ Ron maintained, Kingsley giving an angry sigh at Ron’s comments. ‘The point isn’t that we went with the Divination evidence, but that we need to find a pattern, and focus on who might be next.’
Ron looked at Kingsley for a moment, who stared at his desk top for a moment in thought. Harry and Hermione both glanced at Ron and smiled. Ron had gone ahead and squashed the issue with them going to Hagrid’s; it was done with. They had to look ahead to what might happen next.
‘You are correct Ron, in that we do need to find a pattern. And yes, I am sorry Harry for arguing. While following the Divination was wrong in principle and I would strongly advise you never to follow it again, it did bring you to the right person, though this Phoenix seems much more powerful than I first thought. I was just concerned that the Phoenix was following you. He may know you’re investigating him, and it’s clear he wants to test and play around with you. You’re damned lucky Harry he didn’t kill you when he had the chance. He may still target you three in the future.
‘Plus with his connections to Voldemort, I don’t want to take any chances.’ With the last sentence, the trio looked at each other with some concern.
‘There’s something else we need to mention about the Phoenix’ Hermione began, Harry shaking his head slightly. Harry did not want to tell Kingsley about this, because he knew it would be too much. It was hard enough having to deal with a powerful wizard serial killer, let alone a reincarnation of Voldemort.
‘What? Out with it quickly, the meeting will be starting in a few minutes’ Kingsley said. Hermione and Ron looked at Harry to explain, and Kingsley followed suit.
‘I—‘ he began, looking at his friends. ‘We, think it might be Voldemort.’
The name hung in the air like a mushroom cloud does after a nuclear blast. Ominous and worried, Kingsley’s eyes bore into Harry, almost pleading with Harry in some manner that he was not serious about this claim.
Kingsley slowly paced to the nearby fake window, where the Ministry had clear blue skies shining down. He wiped his face and turned back towards his Aurors—leaning against the wall.
‘What makes you say that?’ Kingsley asked. Kingsley was a brave man, everyone knew it. He had fought hard and fiercely against Death Eaters and other creatures during the war, and almost died numerous times. He appeared calm and collected, but the trio could see a hint of concern in his eyes and voice which did not make them feel good.
‘When he looked at me’ Harry hesitated. ‘It was Voldemort; his face, his eyes, it was him.’ Kingsley hesitated for a moment.
‘How do you know it wasn’t a wizard or witch using Polyjuice Potion?’ he asked.
‘Kingsley, I know it was him’ Harry affirmed, Kingsley looking to Hermione and Ron for reassurance. Both of them just looked at him, and Kingsley sighed.
‘Merlin’s beard . . . What am I going to tell the Ministry?’ he asked his Aurors.
‘You have to tell them the truth! We can’t afford another repeat of what happened under Fudge’ Hermione insisted. Harry remembered when Fudge kept saying that Dumbledore and himself were lying about Voldemort. It was not a good time for anyone.
‘It will be hard to convince people. Everyone has accepted that Voldemort is truly dead for the last three years. His Death Eaters have gone, and announcing that he is back could cause the ones in hiding to rise up and cause us more problems’ Kingsley speculated seriously.
‘But the Phoenix isn’t looking for followers from what we can tell. All the murders have been done by himself, and those are the only times he has put himself in the open’ Hermione explained.
Kingsley sat back down behind his desk, and gave it a thought for a moment or two. ‘Wait, why does he do this Phoenix rubbish then if it’s Voldemort?’
The room was quiet as they all thought, but it was a complexity that Harry had been fighting to figure out since Hagrid’s death.
‘Maybe he is planning something different, and doesn’t want his real identity to come out yet’ Hermione put forward, Kingsley and the others not looking all convinced of such a reason.
It was a perplexity. The only reason Harry could think of, was that Voldemort wanted to stay low, and kill people himself without much press. But why would he want that? The idea of calling Voldemort an assassin boggles the mind.
‘Well, regardless, we need to go to the meeting. Come along now’ Kingsley told the others.
The four of them went down to the Ministry administration offices, and found the meeting. Ministry officials, professors from Hogwarts, and dozens of other officials were all packed into the room around a long square table.
The meeting itself was kept brief. The Minister of Magic gave his stance on the issue, to limit public information until more was known about the Emerald Phoenix. The Deputy Minister, Mr. Weasley, also prompted caution before total publicity of the Phoenix. At first Ron and the others were upset over this, but Mr. Weasley gave his reasoning.
‘We do not know enough about this Emerald Phoenix. He has murdered, yes, but we don’t even know why yet. We must give our Aurors and Kingsley more time to investigate, but in the meantime we must venture on the side of caution and warn the public of “a” murderer on the loose. No reference should be given towards the Phoenix, or any connections to He Who Must Not Be Named.’
The audience began chattering about this and began to yell out questions, but Mr. Weasley merely took his seat and motioned Kingsley to give his statement.
Kingsley gave a very basic idea of the Phoenix, with no real specifics about him or Harry’s encounter with him. Harry was glad that Kingsley was the one talking. He was able to speak fluently while purposely leaving out important aspects, but giving enough to understand the threat.
When the meeting ended, the three Aurors told Kingsley they would return to his office in a moment. First, they wanted to say hello to Mr. Weasley. Ron had not actually seen his father for at least two weeks, with all the work being done as of late.
‘Ron my boy, how are you doing with all this?’ Mr. Weasley asked, giving his tall son a hug. He motioned everyone out the door, and they moved towards his office. Mr. Weasley being the Deputy Minister, had a tremendously better office than before. Three fake windows, enough room for a couch, and a proper sized desk. Ron told Harry when they first saw his new office that his old one was turned into a filing room, as Mr. Weasley expanded the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office.
‘We’re alright Dad, but it’s tough’ Ron answered once the door was closed behind them and they took their seats.
‘How about you Harry, how are you?’ Mr. Weasley asked. Harry glanced at Mr. Weasley and the long scar on his right cheek, and nodded.
‘I’m alright Arthur. I just really thought all this Voldemort stuff was behind me’ he admitted quietly.
‘Believe me Harry, we all did, or at least wanted to be. All this talk of Voldemort has gotten the Minister and much of the Wizengamot worried to death. They’re talking about plans for a new war, increasing the number of Aurors on this case to hundreds, even discussing the opening of a new prison, something like Azkaban.’
‘All the while, we are very much in the dark about it all’ Hermione declared gloomily.
‘I know it is frustrating, but perhaps you just need to talk it out amongst yourselves. I mean, think about it through Voldemort’s eyes—‘
With those words, a sudden flash came before Harry’s eyes of seeing the Phoenix walking along the Entrance Chamber of the Ministry, as Voldemort did during his fifth year.
‘—what does he benefit from using a different name, and why would he want that?’ Mr Weasley finished, Harry shaking his head back into the room.
‘Well’ Hermione began, ‘it keeps him hidden, and us confused. We only realized it was Voldemort until Harry saw him. If he hadn’t seen him, we would have seen a connection to Voldemort, but not thought it was actually him.’
‘Yeah, Harry surprising him in the forest definitely helped us identity him’ Ron put in, trying to help Harry feel like the experience was beneficial. Harry gave a short smile to Ron for thanks.
‘So why would Voldemort want to be hidden?’ Mr. Weasley asked, leaning back in his chair.
‘That’s the thing, Voldemort was always really flashy with his power, he was never one to be quiet about anything’ Harry mentioned.
‘So that means Voldemort has other plans this time, doesn’t it? Keeping quiet means he does not raise his army, he is not looking for power right now, but rather making murders one at a time. Why?’ Mr. Weasley asked again. Harry was disliking this a bit, as it was confusing his already confused mind even more, but he continued to try to explain things. Mr. Weasley was correct in that they had to talk this stuff out and understand what they needed to figure out.
‘Maybe he’s only looking for personal vengeance right now?’ Hermione thought out loud.
‘Perhaps he’s just testing his own power?’ Ron put forward.
‘Or just perhaps he’s doing this to have us guessing and get everyone scared’ Harry guessed frustratedly, huffing a sigh and rubbing his forehead. He was beginning to get a headache over this all.
‘Believe it or not Harry, that could very well be his reason’ Mr. Weasley said sincerely.
‘It could be how the Horcrux regains its strength too’ Hermione whispered, everyone looking at her. Mr. Weasley had been told by the three of them what a Horcrux was at the end of the war three years ago, but he was not up to date on that theory in regards to the Emerald Phoenix.
‘What do you mean Hermione? I thought you three destroyed all the Horcruxes?’
‘Well, we can’t rule it out entirely that we got all of them. Perhaps we missed one, and it’s been activated. We still don’t know much about how a Horcrux gains its strength, nor what form it takes. Maybe this Emerald Phoenix is a Horcrux that—‘
Another flash of pain ripped across Harry’s scar, as another vision of the Phoenix entered his mind. He could see him walking along a dark hallway, reaching a set of doors. When they opened, Harry recognized the cubicles and offices that he was walking into: it was the Auror Department.
‘—to give it more power. It’s just a theory, I’d need to read more on Horcruxes, but . . . Harry?’ Hermione asked, looking at him worriedly.
There was something happening, he knew it. The Phoenix could not be in the Ministry now, could he? But the image looked so vivid, and Harry could not avoid the pain that his scar was feeling.
‘I think he’s here’ Harry mumbled, getting up and looking at the door.
‘Who Harry? The Phoenix?’ Mr. Weasley asked.
Another flash of pain came over his scar, which seared as another vision came before his eyes, of the Phoenix reaching for a door, and blasting it off. A man inside dodged out of the way, and pointed his wand, but hesitated as he looked at the Phoenix.
‘Harry!’ Ron yelled, trying to snap him out of the vision.
‘We have to go! the Phoenix is here, in the Auror Department!’ Harry voiced hurriedly, opening the door and running out in to the hall. The others all followed as fast as they could. They were all trying to ask him what was going on, but he kept running.
Harry came out of the stairwell, and began to sprint towards the doors of the department. He was almost at the doors, when they opened up and he fell backwards.
He hit the floor hard, and looked up to see the Phoenix standing in the doorway. Harry raised his wand, and just at that moment Ron, Hermione, and Mr. Weasley came out of the stairwell.
The Phoenix pushed Harry’s wand away, and at the same time blasted Ron, Hermione, and Mr. Weasley against the wall. All three of them hit crashed against the wall, and fell to the floor in crumpled heaps. Harry tried to move, but the Phoenix had him pinned to the ground, an evil smirk across his face.
‘Potter, did I not say it was useless? I am the Emerald Phoenix, and there is nothing you can do to stop me from killing whom I desire. You are helpless, pathetic, weak; and soon your love and all you cherish will be mine!’
Harry continued to struggle against the spell placed on him, but nothing was working. The Phoenix was much more powerful than him, and with a flick of his wand, Harry was thrown across against the wall, and slid to the floor.
The light of the world was growing dim, but Harry managed one last glance at the Phoenix walking towards him, before blacking out entirely.
In a daze and dreary state, Harry could see the man holding his wand up, hesitating to kill the Phoenix. Harry was pleading with the man to stun him, disarm him—anything—but the man continued to stare in utter disbelief.
‘No, it- . . . it can’t be!’ the man said.
‘Oh I’m afraid it isssss, Shacklebolt. The Emerald Phoenix is rising from the ashes, and will soon have his revenge complete!’
‘Not if Harry stops you like he did before Voldemort!’ Kingsley responded, slashing his wand in the air. A bright orange light came at the Phoenix, but he merely whisked his wand, and the spell vanished instantly.
‘Kingsley, you must learn your place. Potter has never stopped me before, for I am the Emerald Phoenix! He will whither and die just as you will now. Avada Kedavra!’
And with that, Kingsley was engulfed by a bright green light, and fell to the floor of his office with a sickening thud. The Phoenix merely turned, and smiled as he exited the office.
‘Harry, Harry are you alright?’ a pleasant voice came to Harry’s ears.
He tried to open his eyes, but the blinding sunlight kept them shut. He groaned about the light, and he heard someone nearby shuffle towards a window and pull the curtains shut. He ventured to open his eyes again, and found the light was more relaxed now.
It was Hermione who was there with him, at what appeared to be St. Mungo’s. His eyes were still bothering him a bit, and he still had a massive headache that was pounding in his temples.
‘Hi’ Hermione quipped peacefully.
‘Hmm, hi’ Harry responded groggily. He wanted nothing more than to go back to sleep, but the memories of what happened began to filter back into his mind, and worry gripped him.
‘Wait, how are Ron, Mr. Weasley, Kingsley—‘
‘Relax Harry, relax’ Hermione insisted, pushing him back onto the bed, trying to calm him down. The sudden movement from trying to get up made Harry’s head spin, so laying down actually was best.
‘Ron, Mr. Weasley and I are alright. We were more worried about you, but it appears the Phoenix just incapacitated you.’
‘What about Kingsley? Is he- . . . is he?’ Harry begged, hoping against hope. Hermione turned away for a moment, and Harry full well knew the answer.
‘They found him in his office, dead, from a Killing Curse.’
‘And the Phoenix?’ Harry added, trying to control his rage about it all.
Hermione sighed, and took Harry’s hand. ‘Somehow . . . he got away.’
This pushed Harry over the edge, and he yelled out in anger. Hermione tried to calm him down, but it was not working.
‘No, I will not calm down! Kingsley is dead! How in the name of God did he get through all those people, and no one see him! He’s bloody Voldemort for Merlin’s sake!’
‘Is there a problem?’ a Healer came in and asked.
‘You mean aside from a serial killer on the loose, no!’ Harry ranted, the Healer giving a terrified look at Hermione.
‘It’s alright, he just needs more rest’ Hermione told the Healer as calmly as possible. The Healer gave one more nervous glance at Harry, then walked out.
‘What in blazes are you doing? We’re supposed to keep this quiet!’ Hermione frowned at Harry.
‘Yes, but that was before the Phoenix killed the best Auror in the country!’ Harry argued, giving a frustrated sigh and closing his eyes.
‘Look, you need to calm down. Ron and Mr. Weasley have been checking in on you for the last three days and-‘
‘Three days? How long have I been here for?’ Harry asked concernedly.
‘Kingsley’s murder happened six days ago Harry. The Healers couldn’t revive you before now, because you had damage to your head from hitting the wall. That’s probably why your head hurts so much.’
Harry took a breath, and understood. He was going to relate it to one of his Quidditch injuries, but none of them took almost a week. He regrew all the bones in his arm in a day, so why was he here for six days? He was going to ask, but decided not to. He was not a twelve year old anymore, and this was not Quidditch.
Harry stayed in St. Mungo’s for one more day before heading home with Hermione. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley all came to see him, as well as Ron, Luna, and Laurel. Harry was glad to see them all, but he really wanted to get back on the case and look over the evidence from Kingsley’s death.
Getting back to the Ministry, Harry was given all the evidence that Ron, Hermione, and the Ministry had gathered from the attack. It appeared as if the Phoenix came in, and got out without anyone knowing, which frustrated Harry immensley.
‘I still don’t understand how no one saw him?’
‘Maybe he Apparated? He could have found a way past the anti-Apparation charms’ Ron pointed out.
‘No, I saw him walking through the Entrance Chamber’ Harry exclaimed.
‘Perhaps that was a memory from before? You know, when Voldemort came to the Ministry back in Fifth year?’ Hermione offered hopefully.
‘Besides Harry, we can’t focus on how he got in and left, we need to focus on what he did and why’ Ron emphasized. Harry wanted answers to everything, but Ron was right in that they should start with the what and why.
'Harry, you saw what was happening right? What do you remember about it all?' Ron asked. Hermione looked very worried about something, but resolved to pick up a quill and parchment to write notes.
Harry tried to remember the words, but they were hazy now. He remembered seeing the Phoenix—Voldemort—standing in the doorway, and he talked it out.
‘He said I could not stop him . . . he blasted you guys against the wall, and he said . . . everything I have will be his or something’ Harry stated incoherently. He was not exactly sure on the wording.
‘Kingsley said . . . he couldn’t believe it was him. He tried to fight him, but the Phoenix just waved his spell off. The Phoenix said no one could stop him, and then he killed Kingsley. That’s all I can remember, sorry it isn’t better. I still have a bit of a headache’ Harry admitted.
‘That’s great Harry, it really is' Ron explained, giving Harry a small smile. Giving a glance at Hermione, Ron then cleared his throat. 'Perhaps we should take a little break, just to let our heads relax’ he said. Both Hermione and Harry agreed, and tried walking around for a moment. Ron got in touch with Luna to see how she was doing, and Hermione caught up with Harry as he walked along the hallway.
‘How are you holding up?’ she asked, taking his arm as they continued down the hall.
‘I would be better if this wasn’t happening’ Harry freely admitted. He had so much on his mind now, this case was taking over his life. It was tough just remembering that lazy morning when he was woken up. He was on his holidays. The idea of holidays right now almost made him cry.
‘I know Harry, I wish it wasn’t either. But we’ll pull through this together, and once it’s all over, you and I will take a nice vacation somewhere’ she put forward, with some cheer in her voice.
‘I would like that, but we don’t even know how long this could take. I just don’t want anything to happen to you or Ron-‘
‘You won’t Harry’ she interrupted, placing her finger on his lips. ‘We are not going anywhere, so don’t even think about that. We will find the Phoenix, he’ll be put away, and we will get on with our lives, alright?’ she asked. Harry nodded, as her fingers were still on his lips, and she moved them and the two shared a kiss.
Harry had forgotten for a while how Hermione felt in his arms, or how her aroma would push his senses into overdrive. He pulled her close, and she tightened her hold on him, as their exchange grew in the empty hallway.
Hermione drew back, and Harry simply stared at her beautiful face. She gave a smirk, which Harry returned, and the two smiled, giving another kiss. It was the first time since their talk with Hagrid that Harry could remember smiling.
Hermione smiled at him, however Harry's eyes closed as a throb came to his temples. Hermione's smile dipped, and she looked at him concernedly.
'Have you thought at all about taking up Occlumency again Harry?'
Hermione was expecting the reaction he gave: a sigh and a look away. Harry always had a terrible time with Occlumency. All his memories of trying it were just of failure, and in the end, he was relieved he would not need it, since Voldemort was defeated.
'No I haven't Hermione. Seeing these visions are helping us figure this all out.'
'You yourself even said that if it wasn't for me, we wouldn't even know it was Voldemort' Harry pointed out. His voice was getting a little louder, so Hermione moved closer and talked softer, in the hopes of making him less defensive.
'I know Harry. I'm just worried about you. All these headaches, and I remember how you felt 3 years ago with all those thoughts from Voldemort in your head. It was terrible, and I know you don't want to go through that again.'
'I know Hermione, but if this will help the case-'
'You are important Harry' Hermione interrupted, giving him a soft kiss on the lips. 'And your health is too. Please think about it, if not for yourself, then for me.'
She looked up at him with her bright brown eyes, and he had no choice but to agree. He understood her point, but for the moment, he just wanted to be there with her.
‘Harry, Hermione!’ a voice called from the down the hall. It was Ron, and he sounded anxious. The two of them turned, and quickly walked towards the Auror Department.
‘What, what is it?’ Harry questioned urgently when the came through and found Ron with a few other Aurors looking at something.
‘Something that won’t help us, that’s for sure’ Ron remarked, passing over a newspaper. It was the Daily Prophet.
Harry looked at it, and tried to stifle the burning his forehead gave when he saw the picture. Centered in the middle of the front page was a picture of the Magical Brethren, with a large smoky phoenix rising above them. Of course the paper was in black and white, so the colour of the phoenix could not be made out by the image, however the title of the article helped people out there.
IS HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED BACK?
SERIAL KILLER LOOSE IN BRITAIN, ATTACKS THE MINISTRY OF MAGIC!
Early last week, after a secret meeting of security staff and Ministry of Magic officials, an attack was launched by a serial killer—calling himself the “Emerald Phoenix”—on Ministry Headquarters.
While the exact details of the attack remain restricted by the Ministry, the Daily Prophet has learned that at least one Ministry official was killed in the attack, which was believed to occur in the Auror Department itself.
No comment has been made by Ministry officials, just as no comment has been made about the murder of Rubeus Hagrid, eccentric groundskeeper at Hogwarts School, nor the murder of Neville Longbottom, Ministry personnel, before that. Could these all be connected? The Daily Prophet believes they are, and is the beginning of this Emerald Phoenix’s violent outburst of murder.
Why is the Ministry being so tight lipped about this all? Perhaps the Phoenix’s connections to He Who Must Not Be Named! Yes my dear readers, there are serious connections between the two, such as the use of a mark to claim deaths. The Phoenix has claimed all these murders by casting a variant of the Dark Mark, which we are calling a Phoenix Mark. Such a mark was cast in the Ministry, and was caught on camera by one of our photographers.
Mysterious deaths, a killer lurking in the shadows, the Ministry denying everything . . . does this not sound familiar my dear readers? He Who Must Not Be Named may very well be walking again, and while this writer surely hopes he is wrong, the inaction and tight limpidness of the Ministry as well as these mysterious deaths point to something terrible coming our way.
Story continued on A-15, B-2, B-7, and D-3
‘This is just damned wonderful!’ Harry shouted, taking the paper and throwing it to the ground.
Now the entire wizarding world knew about the Phoenix. Hermione was more insistent on finding who leaked the information, but it was rather pointless in Harry’s view. The fact was the information was out, and now their job got much that harder.
A/N - So there we are folks! Another chapter down, and the story gets more complicated. Now the general public knows about the Phoenix, and so lots more fun is coming Harry's way. What are your thoughts? Do you like where the plot is going? Any advice, questions, etc?