Chapter Four: Escaping and Breaking
Disclaimer: Everything belongs to J.K. Rowling, excluding the plot.
Harry landed with a spin on a large dais of cold, hard rock. Its rugged formation dug into his legs, and he struggled to stand. Looking around, he realized he was at the Ministry of Magic. And, to Harry’s understanding, in the Department of Mysteries, no less. The room was deserted and cold, and as the unwanted memories flooded back into Harry’s mind, he wanted nothing more than to leave. When you leave, Harry decided, you forget.
It was dim, yet the small windows on the high ceilings were distributing pools of light within the dips of the uneven ground. The slanted walls and thin air brought no comfort to the lost and disoriented Harry Potter.
Harry sighed. He flung open the cabinet door again and attempted to transport himself back to Hogwarts again, without success. With clenched fists, Harry turned and surveyed the rest of the room. To his horror, he found he was standing in none other than the room he remembered so clearly from his fifth year. Adjacent to the cabinet, on the other side of the platform, sat a large stone archway, a thin, gray shadow strewn between its two columns.
“The veil.” Harry whispered. “Sirius.” He had grown numb to any mention of his godfather. He had tried to forget what it felt like to be so close to someone that will never come back, that will never be part of your life again. Sirius was there, behind the Veil, Harry knew. But there was no way, he reminded himself. No way. It was too hard for Harry to stand within the room; it was too hard for Harry to struggle with the weight of a thousand lost memories, to breathe through the suddenly thickening air.
He gazed around the room, his eyes not really focused, and his mind not really awake. He noticed a door, and then proceeded to walk briskly toward it. He had to leave. He grasped for the doorknob, and then he suddenly decided that going out there was against his better judgement. This was the Ministry of Magic, and he was Harry Potter. The war had just ended, and Voldemort had just been defeated, because of him. He turned back slowly, approaching the cabinet. He stood and thought for a moment, his thoughts mixing with his sadness, his loss, until he was struck with an idea.
“Expecto Patronum!” he exclaimed. His pristine silvery stag shot out of his wand and began galloping around the room. He directed it back towards where he stood until the creature was looking back at him, head tilted inquisitively, and said aloud,
“I’m in the Department of Mysteries. Come and get me. Please!” He sent his Patronus off to find Hermione, Ron and Ginny and prayed that it would still be intact when it arrived to them.
Hermione and Ron scanned the room feverishly, hoping they had made a mistake and that Harry was, in fact, still within the walls of Hogwarts. Ginny had fled the room moments earlier to find, with Hermione’s persuasion, a book on vanishing cabinets.
“He’s definitely vanished.” Hermione clarified. “And definitely at the Ministry.”
“How’re we going to get him back?” Ron asked nervously.
“We’ll have to vanish too, I guess. Maybe then we could figure something out together.” Hermione suggested.
“It’s worth a try.” Ron agreed.
Moments later, Ginny came rushing back into the room, her quick footsteps echoing an anxious rhythm. She was without a book, but she spoke urgently.
“Harry….stag!” she panted. She pointed behind her, indicating the brilliant Patronus that cantered into the room.
“I’m in the Department of Mysteries. Come and get me. Please!” Harry’s voice proclaimed. The stag disappeared in a cloud of mist, leaving Ron, Hermione and Ginny to sprint to the cabinet, fling open the doors and grab onto the shelves. They all spun out of view, and in mere seconds, they were standing in the middle of the Department of Mysteries. Harry stood a few feet away from them, wand out.
“Good! You got my Patronus!” he exclaimed. Hermione came rushing forwards and hugged him, her relief at his safety evident.
“Harry! Oh, thank goodness you’re alright! We were so worried!”
Harry nodded at her reassuringly before he continued. “I can’t seem to find a way out. Any ideas?” he asked hopefully. “I would have just gone through the door, but I don’t think that’s such a good idea, with the press and all.”
Hermione began scanning the room for an escape route, while Ron was trying to figure out why the cabinet wouldn’t work reciprocally. Ginny flung her arms around Harry possessively and he almost lost his balance.
“Ginny...Ginny, I’m fine. Really!” Harry exclaimed.
“I know! Thank Merlin! I mean, imagine what would happen to me if I lost Harry Potter!” Ginny clapped her hand to her mouth as soon as the words rolled off her tongue. Harry instantly released her and walked away, his expression cold. He looked over his shoulder at Ron and Hermione who were examining the Veil cautiously.
“Is that what your sister thinks of me, Ron?” Harry said vehemently.
“What?” asked Ron, confused.
“She only likes me because I’m Harry Potter? That’s it?”
“Well, Ginny is a bit selfish, but...you know, she’s my sister...”
Harry waved off Ron’s comment and stormed back over to where Ginny was standing, blushing furiously.
“I was going to give you my mum’s old locket, you know. To show you how much I thought you meant to me. But now, how can I be sure? I mean, do you like Harry or Harry Potter? Do you like me or the fame? What is it?”
“I...I don’t know, Harry. I...” Ginny stuttered.
“If you’re that unsure of it, then I think I’ll take it that you’re a Harry Potter fan, not my friend.” Harry said, his voice quiet. With that, he walked away and opened the door leading out to the main part of the Ministry. Were the situation be anything else, Harry would have been relieved that the corridors were empty. Given the circumstances, however, he left all previous cautions behind him and passed door after door until he arrived at the lift.
“Harry!” he heard Hermione calling after him. He glanced at her and held her concerned gaze until she caught up to him. She stood and steadied her breathing as they waited for the lift.
“This isn’t safe!” she exclaimed.
“I know, but I’d rather be on the front cover of every newspaper in London then be in the same room as her. She tricked me, made me think that she loved me, when all she wanted was fame and fortune. How can I be sure it won’t happen again? I’m so foolish.” Harry said quietly, looking at his feet.
The lift beeped and a voice announced their location. The metal grate slid open slowly, allowing them entry. As they stepped on, Harry cast his Patronus and sent a message to Ron.
“Stay there. We’ll reverse the cabinet function once we can Apparate back to Hogwarts.”
“Good thinking, Harry.” Hermione commented. “The wards should still be down, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get back to the castle.”
The doors closed and the lift moved backwards before shooting upwards towards the main level.
“Hermione, before you guys came, I heard voices coming from the veil. Except this time, I actually understood what they were saying.” Harry stated.
“And?” she asked him, encouraging him to continue.
“They said that someone had repaired my prophecy, and that it now bore a new message. That I needed to retrieve it and bring it to the Hall of Prophecy before someone else gets a hold of it.
“Did they say where it was?” Hermione asked him; she looked as if she were taking mental notes. Harry concluded that she probably was.
“I remember the last part: Beyond our protection
Your prophecy lies
Along with a loved-one
Close your eyes
Entrance may burn
But beneath our walls
A secret lurks
Your future nears
Defence is needed
Yet open your ears
Hearing before sight
Or face your fears
The Hall of Prophecy
Is its home
Fetch it quickly
And you will not leave alone.”
“Then it’s inside the veil!” Hermione said excitedly.
“Not inside, beyond.” Harry corrected.
“You get to take someone back with you?” she asked.
The lift stopped, and for the brief moment before the doors opened they looked at each other and nodded in agreement. As the grates slid open, the duo charged from it to the nearest Apparation point. People turned quickly at the sudden commotion, and the bustling crowds were filled with shouts of “It’s Harry Potter!” and “Is that Granger and Potter over there?” The second they were able, Harry and Hermione disappeared out of sight, overcome with relief that their escape had worked.
“I think I saw some camera flashes back there.” Harry panted as they spun into focus in the middle of the library.
“We’ll figure that out later Harry, we need to get Ron and Ginny back.” Hermione grabbed Harry’s arm and dragged him to the back of library, forcing his thumb onto the plaque and impatiently waiting for the door to appear. They both walked quickly through the Room of Requirement until they reached the Vanishing Cabinet.
“You know how to reverse it?” Harry asked.
“Yeah.” Hermione said, deep in concentration.
“Why didn’t you do it back there?” Harry asked.
“The Ministry has planted sensory charms everywhere. Whenever someone casts a spell or charm, a log is made. The officials can track down anyone. I didn’t want to risk it.” Hermione explained.
She swirled her wand in an intricate pattern before the cabinet glowed a pulsing orange hue. “It worked. Cast a Patronus to tell them to use the cabinet.” She instructed. Harry did as told and a few minutes later, Ron and Ginny appeared before them, Ron looking utterly relieved and Ginny wiping at her tear stained cheeks.
“Let’s go.” Harry demanded, leaving the room and dragging Ron and Hermione behind him.
“I’m sorry, Harry!” Ginny called after him.
“Right you are!” Harry shouted back, his voice echoing through the piles of debris and ashes. He could find no forgiveness within himself, and walking away from her seemed easier for his heart was not it. Harry felt such a variety of emotions that he thought it safer to just not show them at all.
“Harry, maybe you should go a little easier on her.” Hermione said quietly once they reached the Common Room. She looked concerned for Ron’s sister, but Harry could also tell that she, too, was furious because of what Ginny had done.
“No, you know what Hermione, he shouldn’t. Because what she did was awful. I had my suspicions when Harry suddenly started crushing on her, and now I realize she wasn’t playing a fair game at all.” Ron defended.
Harry said nothing for the rest of the evening. When morning came, packing for the Burrow commenced. Harry let himself sink into his thoughts – how was he supposed to survive the summer living in the same house as Ginny? He had no idea, and the prospect bothered him. He had not anticipated things to get so complicated. In truth, Harry was not incredibly upset about what had happened; he had noticed that things had started to seem a bit off. Harry managed to convince himself that it was all for the best.
He was still very excited about discovering Gryffindor’s Quarters and everything else, but things seemed to have dimmed down now that he and Ginny were no longer on speaking terms. Hermione and Ron could quickly sense his unease the next afternoon at lunch.
“She’ll get over it, mate. I know she feels rotten about using you. She hasn’t spoken to anyone since.” Ron offered, trying to reassure Harry.
“Thanks.” Harry said quietly.
Ron and Hermione looked at Harry sadly as he surveyed the room. They watched his eyes, waiting for a glimmer of hope, a flicker of happiness. Harry’s gaze settled upon them, and he gave a small smile.
“I’ll be okay, guys. Really.”
Ron replied with a simple, “We know” and Hermione returned his smile.
It wouldn’t last forever, they all knew that. Harry and Ginny would sort things out, even if it wasn’t in the way that everyone expected. The prospect seemed so far away, as the wounds were still so recent, but they would mend. They always did.
They would all find happiness again. The constant feeling of loss would slowly fade until it became a part of them as individuals, and then they would move on with their lives. That is how things usually worked for Harry, Ron and Hermione, after all.
A/N: Thank you for all of your support, and I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Please remember to leave a review!
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