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Brave New World by ARG
Chapter 55 : Battles
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 13


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A/N: First of all, this is THE longest chapter I've ever written and didn't break in two (as much as it might be handy, considering I'm still drowning in exams). The awaited chapter is here. Starts with a small flash-forward. I honestly hope you like it. Keep in mind it will continue next chapter (and things omitted here will be said there). Well.... knock yourselves out.


7 June 1996, evening time – Department of Mysteries


There were explosions all around, sounds of battle, even screams. The feeling of air against skin made everything seem cold. Dark.

How unfair, how… wasteful. Just a moment of distraction and relief had caused it all.

The hex from Bellatrix’s wand had felt like the aftershock of an explosion, an unbearable force that rose one above the floor, causing disbelief. And then pain and shock. The last thought was of fear. Is this the end?
The voices faded slowly into the hollow and the embrace of darkness came, taking all consciousness away…

---

Twelve hours earlier

Mia woke up in the morning in her own bed, feeling slightly better than she remembered feeling before. The low-grade headache was still affecting her but at least she didn’t feel as drained, which might be related to the massive amounts of food and the strengthening potion Elizabeth had made her take the night before. Plus, the bedside clock indicated it was half past seven, which meant she’d slept five hours in a row, a record since she’d fought with Sirius...

She glanced at his side of the bed and noted he still wasn’t there. Despite their fight, she’d returned to the bed a day or two after it, though they lay as far away from each other as it was humanly possible – why, Mia couldn’t really tell. All she knew was that she needed to feel he was nearby, despite never reaching out for him, as contradicting as that might be. But that morning his place was occupied by their little son, instead, who slept soundly, gripping his favourite stuffed toy and sucking his thumb.

Mia caressed Alex’s dark baby curls and sighed as she remembered the news she’d received the previous night. She was pregnant. The simple thought of it made her hand go instinctively to touch her flat abdomen. How was she going to tell Sirius about it?

She let out a huff and turned to her other side in order to light the bedside lamp and found a folded note on the end table. Mia sat up and unfolded it, recognizing Elizabeth’s handwriting immediately.

Had to go home before the kids woke up. Left a bottle of strengthening potion with Kreacher – drink it with breakfast. I’ll be back tonight to check if you’re getting better.

Elizabeth

P.S.: If Kreacher tells me you’re not eating again, I swear I’ll go mean-healer on you!

P.P.S.: Go for a walk – you need to get some air.


Mia sighed, folding the note again and shoving it in the drawer. Typical Elizabeth. Merlin knew what might have happened if she’d fainted last night without her friend there… Their conversation, not to mention the full hour she’d spent crying her heart out as her friend comforted her, had helped reduce some of that weight she’d been feeling. She’d needed vent it out a bit.

The soft knock on the door made her jump slightly. She imagined it might be Kreacher, telling her to come down and have breakfast – awfully sensitive ears the house-elf had in order to hear she was awake. “Come in,” she said, not too loudly so Alex wouldn’t wake up.

But it wasn’t Kreacher that opened the door – it was Sirius. He gave her an apologetic look when he saw her sitting up on the bed. “I just need to get some things before I catch a few hours of sleep down on the sofa…”

“It’s okay,” she whispered. When their eyes met, it didn’t feel as painful as it had before… Maybe, she hoped, it meant part of her was starting to get ready to forgive… Her voice was a bit unsteady when it came out again. “You can stay here – I was getting up, anyway. Hum, Alex slept here in bed. I can take him to his cot, if you want.”

Sirius shook his head as he closed the door behind him. “No, you can leave him there.” It had been a relief for him to look at her and to see she’d gained some colour and looked less tired. He hated seeing her down, especially because of him…

Just as he was about to make his way into the room’s bathroom, Mia stopped him. “Wait, Sirius,” she said. He turned around and looked at her, as a million thoughts raced within Mia’s head. It was another internal battle: to tell or not to tell him about the baby. It was his – he had a right to know… but she wanted it to be a happy moment, a bright light in the middle of the depressive world they were getting into. It didn’t seem right to tell him now that they were so distant. She needed to figure things out first – have a little time to think… Just a little longer, she promised herself and her unborn baby. “I… hum… I just wanted to know how Remus is doing.” She finished a bit lamely.

“Oh, he’s had worse,” Sirius replied. “He’ll be fine after a few hours of sleep.”

Mia nodded silently and slipped out of bed, dressing a thin robe that rested on top of a chair. She wasn’t sure of what to say on her way out. But she didn’t need to decide, as he was the one to speak first.

“Mia… are you okay?”

She looked at him and saw, by his expression, he didn’t mean if she was okay at the moment – he meant it in general. Sirius was still worried about her, just as he’d been when he’d asked Elizabeth to come by to lend her a shoulder to cry on. He had no idea of how important it had been for her – maybe that was the reason why dealing with him didn’t feel as hard that morning. “I’m hoping to get there.”

And as he saw her leaving, Sirius wondered what that meant.

---

Meanwhile, at Hogwarts the kids were completely oblivious to the tension between Sirius and Mia back home. It was past six in the afternoon when Harry exited the classroom where he’d just taken his History of Magic OWL. While Hermione had stood behind, trying to discuss the exam with Binns, who Umbridge had rehired after firing Mia, with Ron, this one internally celebrating the end of the OWLs, Harry made his way to meet Ginny by the lake.

Izzy was with her when he reached the lake minutes later, bending with Ginny over a large book that Harry recognized as a Runes dictionary.

“I was sure it meant ‘freedom’,” Izzy was saying.

“Well, there’s nothing here meaning ‘freedom’ that sounds remotely like eihwaz,” Ginny said in annoyance. She looked up and found Harry staring down at them. “What on Earth does eihwaz mean?”

“How am I supposed to know?” he replied, clueless.

“Wait, wasn’t it ‘ehwaz’?” Izzy asked, confused. “Oh, stuff it. If I want to learn how to translate ancient stuff, I’ll turn to Ancient Greek or Latin, not this!” She shoved her stuff into her bag and got up. “You know what? I give up. We’ll just ask Hermione later.”

“Look, if you two need to work together, I can go mind my own business and come back later,” Harry assured her and Ginny.

Izzy shook her head. “You’re not about to skip being together for a stupid runes homework. Besides, Terry asked me to meet him in the boat house in…” she checked her watch, “ten minutes.”

“Terry Boot?” Harry asked a bit sceptically.

“The boathouse is a snog-spot, you know?” Ginny pointed out. “People only go there to make out in private.”

Izzy grinned. “I know. He felt bad because we couldn’t go out last Saturday when the Hogsmeade visit got cancelled. Terry’s sort of good-looking, isn’t he? And a good kisser…”

“Weren’t you just about to leave?” Harry asked, urging her to go away with her boy-related conversation.

She rolled her eyes. “Right, I have to know you snog my best friend on a regular basis and you can’t hear me mentioning some bloke. That’s fair.”

“I wasn’t the one who told you any of it,” he replied. “Look, I have nothing against the bloke but there are things a brother just doesn’t want to hear about. Like how great a kisser Terry Boot is.”

“Well, he is a good kisser,” she said defiantly before turning around and walking away. It wasn’t like she was interested in seeing them snogging either…

Harry huffed and sat down on the ground, taking the spot Izzy had occupied by Ginny’s side. Then, he leaned a bit closer to his girlfriend, kissing her softly on the lips. “Hi.”

“Hey,” she replied, smiling as she pulled away. “So, how was the OWL? Should I be worried about next year?”

He chuckled. “Well, they asked questions from stuff we learned from the first year to fifth, so it wasn’t that bad as aunt Mia was the one to teach most of it. You’ll probably be fine. But I’d rather not talk about it. OWLs are over. Period.”

“Alright, so what are your plans for the Summer Break…”

That was one of the things he liked the most about being with Ginny. They could talk about pretty much anything. Sure, he loved the snogging part of their relationship like any teenage boy would but he also liked knowing their relationship wasn’t just about that. Ginny was his friend just as much as she was his girlfriend. She made him feel… like a normal fifteen-year-old kid.

They had some more minutes of ‘normal’ until reality came knocking on the door. Just as they about to kiss once more, Harry suddenly saw himself floating along the corridor that led to the Department of Mysteries in someone else’s body.

It had been months since he’d dreamed of it and, this time, he didn’t stop at the door. He went in. The vision ran through his head and, as much as he tried to push it out, he wasn’t strong enough. But when he heard the screaming and felt the vision changing, as if he’d just occupied someone else’s body, he stopped fighting. The room was enormous, full of shelves covered with spheres. There were forms on the floor, one contorting as Harry himself, or whoever owned the body he was occupying, used the Cruciatus curse.

Stop! You’re going to kill him,” a familiar, desperate voice shouted. It was aunt Mia. “Please, stop!”

Then you’ll fetch it for me,” he replied. It was Voldemort. He’d never forget the sound of that voice.

Don’t, Mia,” the person who’d just been on the other end of the Cruciatus, Sirius, mumbled from the floor. “You’ll have to kill us, you son of a bitch!”

Oh, I will,” Voldemort assured them. “But first you’ll suffer if you don’t give it to me. Your boy will be next. Maybe he’ll be a better incentive.”

A child’s cry was on the background and Harry was sure Alex was there was well… His heart thumped fast with fear as he watched it. Suddenly, he felt a blow on his face and light filled his eyes again.

He was back, sitting on the ground by the lake at Hogwarts, and Ginny kneeled in front of him, her hand still raised from slapping him awake. “Harry!” she shouted, shaking him.

“Ginny, what…” he asked her, confused.

“You just went rigid, Harry,” she replied with a slight tremble in her voice. “Irresponsive. What was it? Was it a vision?!”

That reminded him of what he’d seen and his body shook with alarm. “Yes. It was aunt Mia and Sirius and… and Alex too. They were in the department of mysteries. Voldemort has them – he’s torturing them!”

She eyed widened. “Oh… Harry, are… are you sure it was true? That it isn’t a trick,” she started – she had more than enough experience with those. “Dumbledore said it might happen…”

He wasn’t sure. He couldn’t dismiss it or accept it without checking. “My bag! Gin, give me my bag!”

She nodded, reaching for the bag where he kept his school books. He started browsing it for something as soon as he got hold of it and removed the two-way mirror from its interior. “Sirius Black,” he shouted, getting no response from the other end of it. “Amelia Black,” he said, then. Still no response.

“It still doesn’t mean…”

“I need to be sure,” Harry said. If only McGonagall was there to floo them, as Umbridge had blocked all fireplaces but hers… but the head of Gryffindor had been sent to St. Mungus after she’d gotten hurt trying to defend Hagrid when he was sacked. They needed to use Umbridge’s fireplace so he could call home. And if they’d really been taken, he’d go get them himself. Voldemort wouldn’t take away his family again. Harry wouldn’t let him.

---

Mia wasn’t sure why but, not long before dinner time, she saw herself standing right outside Lulu’s door.

She’d been driving herself mad all day just by thinking. Why did things have to be so hard? She knew she wanted Sirius back. She knew she loved him immensely. Why couldn’t she just forgive him? Her heart and her mind seemed to be duelling a whole lot more than it was healthy, lately. She wasn’t even sure which one fought for which: forgiving or not forgiving. Maybe she just needed more time. Or maybe she was just becoming a nutter.

Unable to deal with that fight anymore, when she’d gone out for a walk while Sirius was still in the park with Alex, she’d ended up apparating on the doorstep of her mother’s flat, unsure of why she’d gone there in the first place. It likely had to do with the fact that Lulu always seemed to have an answer for everything – maybe she’d have one to all those doubts as well.

The door opened but, instead of Lulu, it was Gabriel opening it. It didn’t take more than a glance to see that her birth father was surprised to see her. “Oh, hello, Mia. I wasn’t expecting you. Come on in.”

“Maybe I should have flooed first or something,” she mumbled. She might have, if she’d been planning to go there at all… “If I’m interrupting something…”

He shook his head immediately. “You’re not. I’d just gotten home, actually – your mother had been nagging me all month for us to go out watch some Muggle movie and we ended up going today. She’s out now, getting us dinner from this take-away place down the street, but I don’t think she’ll take long. I suppose you’re here to talk to her.”

Mia sighed, stepping into the flat. “Yeah, I suppose I am too,” she mumbled. Though Gabriel’s presence was still relatively new around her, considering until a year before she’d believed he was dead, she’d grown to feel safe around him. Safer than she felt around many people she’d known longer and nearly as much as she felt with her family. Maybe blood ties, when they connected to the right person, were stronger than she’d imagined.

She sounded lost, Gabe noted. And looked that way as well. Knowing what it felt like, he also knew it was much harder to bear when one was alone, so, when Mia took a seat in the living room’s armchair, he sat on a sofa near it, hoping to keep her company. Gabriel was well-aware that she and Sirius were at odds and why – news like that travelled fast, especially when one lived with someone as close to Mia as Luce was.

He wished he could do something for her, be her father like he was supposed to and do what a father did in a situation like that, which would likely be holding his child and not let go until it was all better… But he couldn’t. He’d have to stick with being her friend. “Do you want to talk, Mia? Let part of it out before your mom arrives?”

Mia looked up. “How much do you know about what happened with Sirius?”

“Enough. Nearly all of it. This flat’s walls are pretty thin – one can’t really help overhearing floo conversations, including yours with Luce. Sorry about that, by the way. I try to be discrete about it.”

She shook her head. “It’s fine. I know you’re not nosy. I suppose this saves us from me having to tell you everything.”

“So, what’s bothering you, Mia?”

She sighed. “I want to forgive him. I need to.” First, for herself, because she missed him so much, then for her unborn child, who had a right to a life with his or her parents together and happy, and then for him, because she didn’t want him miserable either. “But how am I supposed to do it when I can’t understand why he did it? Why did he pick going after Wormtail over everything else? Why did he hurt me like that?”

Gabe sighed. While Mia couldn’t understand Sirius’s actions, he could relate to them. Maybe too much, even. “I think I can help you with that, Mia.”

Mia’s look was of surprise first and then of hope. “You understand what he did?” she asked.

He nodded. “It doesn’t mean I think he did the right thing, Mia. But I get why he did the wrong one.” Gabe let out a breath before starting the explanation. “Let’s put it like this. Imagine the worst moments of your life were these: losing your best friends, losing the only decent parent figures you had, having to be separated from the love of your life and, finally, being innocently locked up for years. I know you’ve actually been through some of these things too. Now, imagine you find out all those moments were caused by the very same person, who happens to have been one of your best friends, someone you’d have trusted with your own life and those of the people you loved the most.”

It would be crushing, she thought. Devastating. Being betrayed by someone you trusted completely felt like a kick in the gut. And then, suddenly, she was starting to get where he was going by saying all those things. Oh, Merlin, she thought. As realization started to dawn, the sorrow of the betrayal lost its force slowly.

Gabriel sighed as he watched her expression. “But it wasn’t just revenge, was it? Pettigrew wanted you dead but you’re still alive. As far as Sirius was concerned, by killing him he’d be protecting you from him ever finishing his plan. Learning stuff like that would make you go primal, Mia, make you stop thinking and start acting just out of instinct. Sirius’s instinct was making him pay and protecting you – he wouldn’t let anything or anyone get in his way and, because he wasn’t really thinking, he probably didn’t realize the extent of what he was doing to you with that promise until it was too late. So, be honest to yourself, Mia. If you felt all those things, would you be strong enough not to react the way he did?”

Mia asked herself if anyone could ever be that strong. “No. Oh, god, no, I wouldn’t,” she told Gabriel. “He didn’t realize he was would hurt me, he was trying to protect me…”

“Of course he was,” Lulu’s voice came from behind both of them. They turned around to see her leaning, arms crossed, against the doorway. She’d been standing there long enough to hear Gabe’s words and supposed she couldn’t have said it better. But, of course, being Lulu she wouldn’t walk away without saying a few words as well. “The guy loves you ridiculously – he’d need to have more than a couple of bolts loose in his head to even consider hurting you on purpose. Put one thing in your mind, Mia. People are stupid: we start wars, get each other killed, make mistakes and more mistakes. Both Muggles and Wizards… humans. But if we didn’t make those mistakes, we’d be boring little goody two-shoes with even more boring lives.”

Gabriel chuckled – the woman had always been awfully straightforward and that was one of the things he loved the most about her. There was no nonsense with Luce, he thought as the woman in question joined them in the sitting area, settling herself on the arm of the sofa.

Mia didn’t even notice the silence that followed, then, so entranced she was with her thoughts. She understood now the feelings that led Sirius to do what he’d done. She’d even felt them as Gabe spoke. If only she’d understood when it happened, she might have reached him in his anger, stopped him and avoided those miserable days. “I made my own bed, didn’t I? By demanding that he promised not to go after Peter,” she asked Lulu.

Lulu shrugged. “Maybe. Who knows? That’s water under the bridge now, Mia.”

She was right. One couldn’t change the past, after all. Now, what mattered was their future together and, unlike before, that she felt she was able to forgive him… actually, she felt like she was doing it already in her heart. The decision was made: Mia would go back home, she’d wait for Sirius to come back, they’d sit down, they’d talk and, she was fairly sure of it, they’d work things out. And then, she’d tell him about their baby – things would be back to the way they were supposed to be.

Mia was quick to excuse herself to leave, promising to return the following day with news. She really didn’t want to waste another minute now and just go back home to talk to Sirius. After flooing back home, she found herself landing in the kitchen and face-to-face with a blank-faced frantic Kreacher.

“Mistress is okay!” he said in relief.

Mia raised an eyebrow. “Of course I’m okay. Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Master Harry… He… he…” The house-elf was unable to finish.

She frowned in alarm. “Kreacher, calm down and tell me what is going on.”

“Master Harry floo minutes ago. He looking for Masters but Kreacher say Masters were all out. Then, Master Harry say Masters be in danger. That the Dark Lord had taken Masters and torture them! He seen it like he see Mista Weezy bitten by the snake! Master Harry gone before Kreacher could check Masters!”

The lump in her throat returned and her voice was nearly gone. “He had a vision of us being tortured? Sirius and I?”

“And Young Master,” Kreacher said.

She felt sick. She knew Harry. She knew what his reaction would be, what it had always been – he’d try to save them. “It’s a trap,” she said. If Harry had had a vision of them being tortured and they were here, it had to be a trap. “It’s a setup. Oh, Merlin, we have to stop him.”

“What happened?”

Mia turned around and saw Sirius stepping into the room before he placed Alex on the floor and the little boy ran to the counter, trying to get the cookie jar on top of it. She looked her husband in the eyes, knowing her plans to talk and forgive had to be postponed. “Harry. He had a vision of us being tortured. He’ll go try to save us, Sirius! We need to stop him and tell him we’re okay!” The she paused. “The mirror… we can use it to talk to him!”

He immediately reached for his pocket, despite still feeling in shock, and found it empty. “The bedroom. I must’ve left it there!”

They didn’t even hesitate before darting up the stairs, reaching their bedroom in record time and getting the round mirror that rested on top of a bedside table. Sirius reached for it first and called Harry’s name. Then, the mirror was dark and he hoped that was because was in his godson’s pocket. But no response. Not even when Mia joined him calling Harry’s name.

“He must’ve left it somewhere. We need to go to Hogwarts, maybe we’ll get him in time,” Sirius stated.

“They won’t let us in…”

“We’ll find a damn way in!” Sirius replied. “There are secret passages. We can…”

There was a sudden ‘pop’ and Kreacher landed opposite of them. “Floo call for Masters downstairs.”

“Is it Harry?” Mia asked hopefully. Maybe, just maybe, he’d been smart enough to wait and call again.

“No, Mistress. Professor Snape. He say it’s about Master Harry.”

They didn’t need another word and simply sped back downstairs. The fire in the kitchen’s fireplace showed Severus Snape’s sober face and, as soon as they stepped in front of it, the teacher spoke without pleasantries. “So you weren’t taken, Black. Your godson is a moron,” Snape stated.

Mia ignored it. “Tell me you stopped him, Severus. Please tell me you did.”

I couldn’t. Umbridge caught him with his little friends sneaking into her office. She called me for Veritaserum, which I didn’t give her, by the way, and Potter started shouting that Padfoot, who I assumed to be you, Black, ‘was in danger’. I only had time to contact Dumbledore before they managed to do Merlin-knows-what to the headmistress, as nobody seems to be able to find her, and flew from the school in Thestrals. And he wasn’t alone. The Weasleys, Granger, Longbotton, Lovegood and your daughter were with him.

Mia froze. “Izzy’s with him too?”

Yes. Rule-breaking seems to run in the family.”

“Cut it out and just tell us where they went, would you, Snape?” Sirius said impatiently. “My kids are in danger!”

The potions master face in the fire pursed its lips. “He rambled something about the Department of Mysteries, so I have to assume that’s where he went. The order is on its way there already.”

“The department of mysteries… as in those dreams he’d been having before?” Sirius whispered.

He’s been slacking in his occlumency – Dumbledore warned Potter about the connection being used to as a trap but he didn’t listen,” Snape stated. “He’s just like…

Mia interrupted him. “He did listen. That’s probably why he sneaked into Umbridge’s office – to floo us. He wanted to see if we were okay. Can you really blame a fifteen-year-old boy who’s already lost his parents once for wanting to protect the only family he has, Severus?”

Snape was silent for a few moments before coughing and changing the subject. “Dumbledore had floo connections set between the fireplaces at the ministry’s Atrium and the Hospital Wing at Hogwarts. Spread the word among the order for them to use them in case of emergency.” And then, he was gone.

Mia’s face turned to Sirius, then, and his eyes met hers. “We’re going,” she stated. As much as she worried about her child, she couldn’t – wouldn’t – stay behind when two of her children could be in mortal danger.

Sirius simply nodded. “Nothing will happen to them,” he promised and Merlin helped him if he didn’t mean it this time around…

---

The way to the ministry was silent and rushed – after ordering Kreacher to go to the Burrow with Alex, they barely took a moment to breathe before they reached the ministry’s empty atrium, as it was past work hours, and took the lift to the sublevel where the Department of Mysteries was located.

The dark door was open. That fact itself made them cringe as it was always closed unless there was an unspeakable guarding it, which wasn’t the case. And, as soon as they walked through it, they saw Sturgis Podmore and Remus already duelling with two masked figures that seemed to be giving quite a fight. A third Death Eater, who’d just entered the room through another door at the end of it, seemed to be trying to sneak up on Padmore but, with a quick move of his wand, Sirius stunned him. That seemed to be enough to distract the unconscious Death Eater’s pals, who ended up sharing his fate.

“Where are the kids?” Mia asked Remus, who looked awfully tired due to his transformation the past night.

He shook his head. “I haven’t seen any yet – I’ve just gotten here. You should…” he stopped talking and, in a swift move, casted a shield charm behind them. They turned around and saw a Death Eater approaching. “Go. I’ll take care of this one.”

They didn’t protest and proceeded to go through the door that led further into the department. Behind it, there was a large hall with several doors and, as over half of them were open, they weren’t sure of which one to take until Sirius noticed a few shadows appearing from one of them and pointed his wand at it.

“Wait, we’re not Death eaters!” a voice said just as Izzy came out of that door revealing herself to be, along with Neville and Ginny, the owner of one of the shadows. The redhead was being carried by the other two, apparently unable to set one of her feet on the floor. Neither of them seemed to be unscathed: Neville’s face was covered with blood coming from his nose and Izzy’s arms were covered with red marks, some bad enough to rip skin, like something had been tightly tied around them. “Mom? Dad? You’re okay.”

“Oh, thank, Merlin,” Mia murmured and she ran to approach them.

“How did you get all these marks?” Sirius asked, reaching for his daughter’s arms.

“There were some brains… and they attacked us with… hum… some sort of tentacles,” Izzy said quickly, a bit confused herself. “They just attacked us. There are Death Eaters, Daddy. Everywhere. Bellatrix is here… I heard her say You-Know-Who is on the way too. Harry saw, Harry saw him… and Kreacher said…”

“We know,” Mia told her. “We were just out, Izzy. Merlin, what the hell do they want with this whole thing.”

“’t was ‘bout a pwophecy,” Neville said, his voice a bit muffle because of his bloody nose. “’Arry ‘nd I had it. I bwoke it.”

“At least they get it now…” Sirius mumbled. “What about Harry, where is he?”

Ginny was the one to answer. “He’s still in the middle of the battle.” She turned to Mia. “My ankle’s broken. You can fix it now, can’t you? I need to go back inside. He’s still there…”

“I could fix it, Ginny,” Mia admitted. “But it would still be too sore for you to walk for a while. We’ll take care of Harry.”

Sirius nodded in agreement. “Remus is just behind us. Go to him and have him take you to the fireplaces at the atrium. You can floo from there to Hogwarts. Go and stay there, you hear me? Now, how do we get to the room where the battle is?”

“The door we came from,” Ginny told them. “Then you’ll find a hall where you have to pick the third door on the left.”

“Bring the others back,” Izzy requested. “And be careful.”

“Always are,” Sirius assured his daughter as she and Neville resumed supporting Ginny’s weight on their way out. At least three of them were safe for now. They still needed to get the others, though…

With their, they found the chamber of the battle soon enough. It was a badly lit large, square room, with all its walls covered with bookcases filled with dark-looking books. In the middle, there was a round pit, about fifteen feet deep with a stairwell that circled its interior, leading to bottom of it. Down there, on a slightly raised stage, stood a gloomy-looking archway with a tattered veil.

Sirius saw there were at least ten duels going on at the same time, some between more than two people. Kingsley alone was fighting two Death Eaters and the same happened with Mad-Eye. It’s pure chaos, he thought as he witnessed Mad-Eye send one of his opponents, whose mask fell-off revealing him to be Macnair, flying backwards into the pit and through the arch in the middle of it. He didn’t come out the other side…

Sirius felt a soft touch in his arm and turned to see Mia. She looked at him with heavy, worried eyes. “Don’t get killed. We still have plenty to talk about.”

He nodded. “The same goes to you.”

Then, she leaned closer to him and kissed his lips very quickly and very softly. It wasn’t a goodbye, just a precaution. As was what she said next. “I love you. Now, let’s find Harry.”

If the occasion wasn’t so tense, he might have had a chance to feel blissful as she walked away. He took the opposite direction, knowing if they split it would be easier to find Harry. Maybe he’d managed to sneak out of the room already. But that wasn’t the case, Sirius concluded as he spotted Harry jumping from behind a table as an unmasked Lucius Malfoy sent a Reductor curse at it. Just as Malfoy was about to send another curse, Sirius was faster, petrifying Malfoy just before he finished muttering the curse.

“Sirius, duck!” Harry shouted then and, in a quick reflex, Sirius did it as an orange spell passed right over him and hit one of the stone walls, corroding it like it had just been splashed with acid. He quickly turned around to see none other than Bellatrix standing there, a pleased expression all over her face.

“Hello, cousin,” she said in a tone just as acid as her curse had been.

“Bitch,” he snarled under his breath before standing up again and shooting a stunner at her.

She was just as quick as he remembered and set up a shield before the spell could hit her. “Not nice, Sirius. Auntie brought you up better than that.”

“‘Auntie’ can shove the upbringing up her arse,” he told her.

Bella sighed, as if she was disappointed. “Why don’t you tell her that yourself? Crucio!” It barely hit him as he dodged but just the tickle of the Cruciatus was enough to take his breath away and to disorient him enough not to notice the other spell, brilliant red, coming in his direction. A punching hex, he thought. One hell of a punching hex that hit him on the gut and pushed him backwards a couple of yards at least. She wanted to have a little fun with him before finishing him. And another one followed before his concentration was back, even stronger than the other.

But when he felt himself falling, no, flying, backwards and not hitting the floor, he realized he’d been closer to the pit than he’d thought. And when he saw the archway from the corner of his eye, he was sure he’d share whatever fate Macnair had gotten… Time seemed to pass really slowly from then on. It had just been a punching hex. How come that was it? How come he’d end up killed by a punching hex and an archway. He could hear the voices coming from it already…

Suddenly, he felt something heavy hitting him from the side and saw a flash of black, which, he assumed, was the interior of the archway. But then, he felt himself landing on a plump surface. Hot damn, he thought, opening an eye before raising his head. He lay mere inches away from the archway. Inches. And under him was an unconscious, maybe dead, Goyle Senior. Bless him. If the fatso hadn’t hit him, he’d have probably dived into the bloody archway…

The Death Eater’s body had softened the fall and he didn’t feel that achy. Luck was on his side, apparently. He stood up and climbed up the round staircase as fast as he could, hoping to get Bellatrix by surprise. The bitch probably thought she’d killed him. But it was with terror that he saw she was busy already, duelling with Mia.

“I killed Sirius Black!” Bellatrix bellowed mockingly, shooting a purple spell at Mia, which she deflected with a Protego. “Maybe if you’re a good girl, Davis, I’ll make sure you join him soon enough.”

“It’s Black,” Mia shouted on the top of her voice. “Not Davis.”

The more Bellatrix provoked her, saying she’d killed Sirius, the angrier she got and more aggressive her spells became. She was desperate. She needed to see, to check if it was true. She wouldn’t allow herself to think or to even slightly believe Sirius was dead without checking. But Bellatrix had blocked her before she could even approach the pit and get a glimpse of the bottom of it.

The other woman turned to use the Cruciatus curse, which Mia escaped by a mere inch. Too close, she thought. One of those could have hurt her baby. She couldn’t lose it too if… But, suddenly, before she could finish her thought, her eyes darted to something other than Bellatrix. Sirius. He was alive. He’d just climbed out of the pit and running in hers and Bellatrix’s direction, wand in hand. Relief washed over her, melting the ice that had been covering her heart in those moments of uncertainty.

But the relief brought along a few moments of distraction, which Bellatrix didn’t waste. The purple light filled Mia’s eyes and she knew it was too late to stop it. It was too close. She only had time to turn slightly, trying to protect her unborn child from the impact, and take a step back before she felt it hitting her like an explosion of air, which scooped her up like a weightless body and flung her backwards. Her ears rang as she was literally flew over the room and her mind didn’t seem to be working at all. Someone screamed… Sirius, maybe? She knew it wasn’t herself as she didn’t seem to be able to draw in air to breathe, much less to speak.

The flying part wasn’t so bad, it barely hurt her. The worst was the landing. Mia felt her left shoulder and her head hitting the wooden surface first and heard glass breaking as her elbow made its way through glass which, she assumed, belonged to the doors of one of the many bookcases set against the room’s walls. The pain was such a shock that her whole body ached indistinctively even before she felt herself hit the glass-covered floor hard enough to scrape flesh. Is this the end? She wondered in fear. For herself, for her baby…

Then, as the sounds of the battle around her became more and more distant, she let out a breath and let the darkness take her in.

A/N2: To be continued.

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