Harry was bent over with his hands upon his knees. He needed a moment to catch his breath. 'Something was wrong - seriously wrong,' he thought to himself. Never before had he been left like this - completely tired and drained.
Harry stood at the center of the destruction: heaps of crumbled brick and stone, broken mortar, lumber and glass - all were strewn out around him, far into the shadows. Almost all of the surrounding buildings about the old pub had collapsed in the battle as well.
'Time to go,' Harry collected himself. All the commotion had naturally attracted onlookers - most the town as a matter of fact. They were closing in on him now, the curious fools - muggles. Fortunately, a thick cloud of dust and smoke had risen up and now covered the place in a thick haze. Unfortunately, several of his foe had managed to retreat back into their number. Should they attack him now...
And then there was Hermione. He had to get to her - now! But where? Harry would have to make up his mind fast though, all the village was awake, come to see what happened. This certainly hadn't gone to plan.
The moon was full. Harry was convinced it shone down just upon him, like a spotlight giving him away. Anger rose within him. 'How unfair.' He had never asked for any of this. And Hermione - it'd be all his fault! His anger boiled further to the brink of rage. But then a flashback hit him - back to his fifth year, when he was always so angry, of how it drove him near mad.
Harry's thoughts were cut short though as he was just as abruptly drawn back to the present. He spun in his tracks, back across his left shoulder, off to the northwest horizon. Something had just happened. It was difficult to concentrate on, it was so far away and Harry was still short of breath and exhausted from his fight. Whatever it was was though, it had come across him like a wave. Someone needed his help.
"What?" he spoke aloud, pivoting back around.
"Někdo neublížil tady (Anyone alright in there)?" a voice called out in czech from beyond the haze. Harry could hear them pushing and stumbling their way forward through the rubble.
"No time..." Harry whispered to himself.
Harry gripped his fists tight. He had to get to Hermione before it was too late... but where? Where would Kaan have taken her? He thought first of Kaan's castle. Of its black towers spiraling ominously into the midnight sky. He could already feel the sadness of the place, its coldness - but then he was jerked back to the present once more. A yearning, drawing sensation that could not be ignored pulled him back to the northwest... something was happening, something awful.
"Hermione, she's all that matters."
"Dobrý den, je tam někdo živý tam (Hello, is there anyone alive in there)?" they called out again, ever nearer. He had to move.
Harry let go the images of the black castle. Instead he closed his eyes and let his mind go blank. The beckoning from the northwest invaded his thoughts. He could feel their deep swell of desperation... and then of its abrupt exstinction.
It broke like a clasp of thunder, falling all those who had ventured too close right onto their backs, its sting accompanied by a loud ringing within their ears. Harry had apparated.
. . . .
The old car was rumbling quickly down the road. Its driver had the wheel locked in a death grip by both fists. His knuckles were turned nearly as white as his pale face. He was hovered overed it, struggling to peer out into the oncoming down-pour. The windshield wipers slid rhythmically back and forth, useless against the assault.
"Slow down!" Aunt Petunia complained as the car bounced dangerously in a pothole. She had to speak loudly, over both the heavy drops pounding atop the car's roof, and over the radio which she was trying to play over the rain.
"Could you turn that thing off already?" Uncle Vernon shot back, jerking his head towards the dash.
"Vernon, you can't be serious, after what's just happened... what if it's the you-know-who..?"
"You're scaring the kids..." he grumbled.
Aunt Petunia turned around in her seat to look back at Dudley, Margie and the baby. They did indeed look to be a bit frightened, but who wouldn't have been, after what they'd just gone through? Margie held little Violet tight to her chest. Violet was being the perfect angel. She hadn't cried a peep through this entire ordeal.
"Don't you fret, all will be well..." she tried to reassure them.
"Hrumpf!" Uncle Vernon snorted warily.
Aunt Petunia ignored him and turned the radio louder still.
"...that's right Samantha - I am right off Whitehall now," the nervous news reporter breathed into his microphone. He was panting as if he was half jogging while giving his report. There was also a great deal of commotion sounding from the background.
"I can't believe this - there are just so many! Everything's been blown out - paper and ash are still - raining down upon us. Eye witnesses - tell of a massive explosion - of a huge fire ball cast into the sky!" he got excited!
"Thank you John... John, are you alright down there?" she asked hesitantly, off script, as John was still breathing heavily.
"I am... we're fine," he answered distractedly, "we're all just having to move back, hurriedly, thats all."
"Well, we thank you for this on the scene coverage! We've heard numerous reports of power outages across the city. The cause? We're not sure. The claims have ranged from a gas main explosion to a minor earthquake! John, can you confirm any of this?"
"I don't know how to explain it Samantha, it looked like a war zone. And then on Whitehall itself, where so many of our government's buildings sit, was just one huge, long, deep black hole. It looked like some sort of sink hole or something!" John continued panting. "It was unbelievable! And all the buildings around it - they were blown out too - blackened and scarred. I don't know..."
John paused for a moment as he slowed and turned back, "I was only able to catch a glimpse as riot police and the army itself rushed in and quickly began ushering everyone out - now they seem to be locking down the whole area!"
Again he paused. Cries and pleas for help could be heard in the background.
"That's right John - we've been told that a no-fly zone has been issued over Whitehall, can you see any aircraft from where you are?"
"No, none," John answered, the tone in his voice both sad and humble, "but army and police are flooding into the area. They're pushing everyone back. It has to make you wonder, Samantha. Considering the location, I don't wonder is something more sinister's not afoot-" the radio cut off.
"Vernon!" Aunt Petunia screeched, upset that he'd turned it off.
"No, enough of that!" Vernon put his foot down.
"Vernon, slow down... please!" his wife begged him. Vernon sped up.
"Where are we going to go?" Petunia asked after he did not respond.
"Dad! Slow down... think of Violet!" Dudley said as they bounced over another pot hole. This finally caught Vernon's attention and he quickly glanced back over his shoulder at his sleeping grandaughter as he let his foot off the gas.
They had nearly come to a stop when Vernon finally exhaled out, "I don't know..."
"Vernon," Petunia began pleadingly, "Vernon, I think we should go... that we should go to where Hermione told us to..." she struggled to gain the courage.
He shook his head violently, "We've already been over this. We're not going there! We're getting as far waway from these coocks as we can!"
"Dad!" Dudley cut back in, "don't be an idiot! You didn't see what Harry could do, but you saw with your own eyes Hermione save us from whoever it was back at the house... she saved us, Harry saved us, we're best off... think of Violet..."
"Are you all really so eager to throw your lot in with something called Kreacher?!" Vernon spun around in his seat and bellowed at them all.
"Yes!" Petunia braved it and yelled back at him.
"Yes, dad, we've got to," Dudley told his father.
"Margie?!" Vernon turned warily upon his daughter-in-law, his last hope.
"I... I-I..." she flustered as she held her baby daughter close to her chest.
"Its okay dear, Vernon is just acting a fool!" she drew herself up in her seat. "We have no where else to turn - no where else to go!"
"Fine!" Vernon finally gave in. "Petunia, get out the map, where's this Grimmauld Place?"
All three thought back to that terrifying experience that happened not so long ago...
All were sitting within the living room of the house Harry had prepared for them, playing with Violet. Hermione had conjured up several toys for her and she was playing and laughing cheerfuly. Aunt Petunia was set upon the couch with her legs draped across Vernon's lap as they listened to their son retell the story of the time they had been at the zoo when he heard Harry talking funny to a snake and of the glass disappearing and of he falling into the boa pen. They still had a good laugh at it, even if this was the fiftieth time or so they'd heard it.
Their laughs were cut short though when Hermione suddenly raised a hand for them to be quiet. She sat up alert on the couch, then looked to the window. She silently stalked over as they all watched her warily, unsure of what was going on.
At the window, she inched back an edge of the curtain to peer outside.
"What are they..." she mumbled under her breath. "Everyone, to the back!" she then turned around and sprinted past them to the back door and ripped back its drape. "Dammit!" she cursed and fell back.
"What is it?" Aunt Petunia asked nervously.
Hermione did not answer. Instead her eyes stared off in the distance as she tried to focus hard. She frowned, "I cannot apparate... and I cannot get you all past them."
Without explanation Hermione turned her wand on Aunt Petunia with baby Violet in her arms.
"What the..." Vernon started, but Hermoine silenced him. Petunia shrieked as the spell hit her. A deep shiver ran down her, and to the utter disbelief of the muggles in the room, Petunia, baby and all dissappeared.
"But..!?" Vernon protested.
"Quickly! There's no time to explain," Hermione began herding them back and struck Margie next.
"What are you doing?" Dudley asked in disbelief as he watched his wife disappear right before his very eyes. He jumped and shrieked just as his wife had when Hermione hit him with the spell next. His whole body shivered as the disillusionment charm ran down him. Vernon was last.
"It's just a disillusionment charm. It'll wear off. They're here for me, get in the back and don't make a sound!" she commanded them as she then began muttering other incantations.
"When we're gone, find your way to Number Twelve Grimmauld Place. You'll be safe there. The caretaker of the home is named Kreacher, tell him I sent you - tell him you are family of Harry's. You'll be safe there!" Hermione said once more as she placed the last silencing charm about them.
"Don't make a sound!" she whispered loudly as she closed them inside the back bedroom.
Only moments later the Dursley's all heard a loud bang as someone forced open the front door. They could hear the echo of voices, but they couldn't make it out. All four jerked as someone suddenly yelled out. There were several more bangs and explosions. Then the unmistakenable thud of a limp body hitting the ground.
They awaited anxiously as foot steps could be heard coming down the hall. One was talking to another but they could not understand it... it was foreign, German or Cezch or something. Panic! One opened the door and glanced into the bedroom they were all hiding in. They all tremebled as he looked right at them, but then to their utter disbelief he gave up and turned and shut the door behind himself. He hadn't seen them! Hermione's magic had worked. They really were invisible!
A few minutes later they heard them all leave, and then silence. No one dared move, much less talk for nearly an hour as they all awaited in fear. With Harry gone and Hermione kidnapped... they had no idea of what to do.
Finally the disillusionment wore off and Dudley dared the venture out into the rest of the house. Several pictures lay broken on the floor. A chair was overturned. There were a couple of blast marks scarred across the walls and floor. There was no Hermione.
. . . .
"Minerva! You're needed, come quickly!" Professor Sprout burst into the Headmistress' office.
"Pomona, what's this?" McGonagall sprang from her seat, alarmed.
"The Minister! - Great Hall!" she stuttered. Minerva swept past her and began racing to the Great Hall. Professor Sprout trailed behind her as she continued to try to explain.
"Not sure what's happened - heard a loud voice calling for help! By the time I'd gotten there - Neville was already there, bent over an unconscious body... and Lord Byron over the Minister - he's all bloodied and battered!"
McGonagall spun around on Sprout, "Edward was?!"
"Edward?" Professor Sprout shrunk back, "Lord Byron? No, the Minister." McGonagall breathed with slight relief as she turned back towards the Great Hall.
Madam Pomfrey had arrived just before them and was now directing her attention to the Minister as Professor Slughorn and Neville were helping the other. McGonagall recognized him as an Undersecretary, William Horne. Professor Hooch rushed right in behind them.
"By Merlin, what's happened?!" she cried out.
"The Ministry, there's been an attack," Professor Slughorn spoke up.
"An attack? At our Ministry? No?!" Hooch rushed forward in an attempt to provide aide.
"Horace, you can't be serious?!" McGonagall went to assist Madame Pomfrey.
"I am afraid so."
Just then, Byron reappeared before them with another injured.
"Edward?!" McGonagall jerked up, "thank goodness you're alright! What in the heavens is going on?"
She looked to the one he had returned with. She too was critically injured. Byron had his compass looking device in one hand.
"There's no time. There's been an attack. I'll need you to rally whomever you can, bring everyone here," Byron said in urgent.
"Where are you going?" she asked as Byron prepared to depart once more.
"To help the others!"
"Who?" she asked desparately.
"The Ministery, Minerva... its been attacked - its been... destroyed."
McGonagall stared back confused for a moment, as did Byron's revelation perk the ears of all the rest in the room. Professor Flitwick had by now also arrived and began tending to one of the other injured.
"Wha... what do you mean, destroyed?" Slughorn asked.
"Just that. Now then, Longbottom, Flitwick, Hooch, I'll be needing some help. Slughorn, we'll need some Port Keys and lots of them, from here to the Ministry, to St. Mungo's, and to Austria. ...St. Mungo's, get some healers here, hurriedly!"
"Why here? Why don't you take them to St. Mungo's?" McGonagall asked.
"There's no time - the Ministry's been attacked - I am afraid we'll be needing the Castle's strong defences. And Flamel, we need to find Flamel and get him here," Byron continued on. "With Shacklebolt indisposed, the Minister's powers are transferred to the Cheif Warklock."
Someone caught his attention, "Hagrid! Just the man!"
"You needin' me, sir?" Hagrid came charging forward, eager to assist.
"Yes, Hagrid, if you've overheard any, there's been an attack - I can't tell you how many, and muggles - we've got to get word to Gates and those in Austria - I believe you have a number of friend there, yes?"
"Good, they'll be needing your help more than any, Hagrid! Here, take this," Byron shoved his compass into Hagrid's hands.
"What the..." he stuttered but it already began to turn blue, "tell Gates there's been an attack on our Ministry. Tell him Shacklebolt is injured. Tell him to prepare for an imminent attack on our number in Austria!"
"Imminent?!" everyone echoed around the room.
And with that Hagrid disappeared.
"Neville, Flitwick, Hooch, come now, everyone take hold," he conjured a long staff right out the floor. All those he had called on grabbed hold unquestioningly. Byron turned back to McGonagall.
"Port Keys, Healers, and the milita... strengthen the defences," he hurriedly tried to confirm everything.
"But the militia..." McGonagall started, but the glowing staff pulled Byron and the rest away. Her militia was left thin, most in Austria.
It was not long though that Professor Hooch returned with more wounded. Those who had received call by Mcgonagall began filing in and per instruction, they began abetting the Healers or helping to sure up Hogwarts' defences. Shortly enough, the Great Hall was filled with chaos: the moans and wails of the wounded. Healers shouting out orders and calling for supplies. The cries and pleas of those mourning the lost of a loved one.
. . . .
They were all at the base of the crater. Byron had not exagerated. Evidently, what must have been a massive explosion had ripped right through the entire Ministry. Half the block of Whitehall had collapsed right in on itself.
Neville, Flitwick and Byron - using their wands - worked their way down into what used to be the Ministry in search of those trapped and lost. As they came across them, they would return them topside for Hooch to deliver to Hogwarts.
They had made only a few trips before the muggles arrived. Byron and company returned to the surface to find Hooch crouched behind a heep of rubble she had raised with her wand.
"POP - POP - POP!"
It sounded like a muffler backfiring or even a firecrackers, but as the bullets ricocheted this way and that, they knew it wasn't so innocent.
Byron swept his wand forward, lifting a wall of brick and stone to protect them as Hooch had, just as a hail of lead was fired at them.
"What in the hell is going on up here?" Byron called across the wreckage to Hooch.
"I don't know, the muggles just rushed up, yelled something I couldn't understand, then they all opened fire!"
"Yes, dammit, its a trap!" Byron cursed. "You've all have got to get out of here!"
"But, the others..." Flitwick objected.
"We'll need more to deal with this. Get back to the Castle and regroup!"
As the bullets continued raining down, Hooch apparated back with the rest of them. With the Port Key held out, Neville and Flitwick took hold as well. Byron did not accompany them.
"What in Merlin's name are you doing?!" Flitwick yelled at him, but they did not get a response. They were quickly whisped away, back to Hogwarts. Their last sight was of a bright flash of light burst from behind him and exploded into his defensive wall of rubble.
Now alone, Byron had apparated back away from the attack. That last had not come from some muggle's gun, but from the wand of a wizard.
A few meters back, starting with his arms crossed in an X before himself, Byron cast them out and open, rippling out a violent shockwave which swept forward, blowing back all within its path. The muggles' arms fell silent.
Byron stood patiently as a lone figure began making his way down into the crater.
"I see you've deemed it time to take sides, old friend?"
"You have known my position all along, my Lord," the wizard known as Sambor bowed his head before Byron.
"Lord? I believe you now serve a different lord.
"I serve a cause," the warlock responded defiantly. "I serve only for the cause, and as that goes, you've always known my position."
"That I have," Byron said, "but to strike at me like this!"
"I? I have not raised a hand against you! I am here only to deliver his message."
"Really?!" Byron laughed, looking around, "I think you're message has been pretty well delivered."
"He, nor I, wish to see harm befall you. We are brothers-" Byron smirked at this "-but change is upon us Byron. You have lost touch, here tucked away upon this Isle. Our people are tired of living like this... like rats!"
"We've lived the other way before..."
"The way it should be!"
"Absolute power corrupts absolutely."
"You're being a fool!"
"No!" Byron let slip a hint of anger. "You think you will live free like this under Kaan? Or freer? You think you will gain power? No! You will make yourself a slave. You will make us all a slave!"
"Byron, the time has come - the Great Awakening. We will retake our rightful places, we will turn it back to how it was, how it should be, we as the rightful rulers of this earth..."
Byron sighed loudly, interrupting him. "The Great Awakening? He must have coined that. You may consider your message delivered. Leave here now if you wish to leave in peace."
"Byron..." Sambor started but fell short as Byron lifted his wand in warning. Sambor frowned and apparated.
. . . .
Minerva was busy treating a bad gash in a poor witches arm when she was suddenly pulled up by her own. She was in a zone. So much blood. So much loss. She had to do all that she could. The echoing of her name only registered in the far back of her mind.
"Minerva!" Byron again called out. She had been too wrapped up in her work, but finally he caught her attention. She looked up to him.
"I need to speak with you - urgently," he motioned for her to follow him, but she hesitated as she looked back to her patient.
"I can't leave..." she refused.
"Louise? Louise, please - here, she will see to your patient," Byron grabbed the nearest Healer to them. McGonagall hesitated.
"Louise here will see to her, now please, this is urgent."
McGonagall finally acquiesced as a healer stepped in to fill her place. McGonagall followed him out the main doors, and to her surprise, he quickly turned on her.
"Minerva, I must know, what was in the tomb?"
"The tomb?" she asked rhetorically. There was only one tomb.
"Yes," he nodded, "Dumbledore's."
She did not like where this was going. De javu. She had heard this story once before.
"What's happened?" she asked nervously.
"Its been vandalized," Byron said, "cracked right open."
Sorry for the delay. Major writer's block. The chapter I had planned was getting too long and I was too wishy washy on it so I cut it in half and posted whats ready. Hopefully the next chapter will be quickly posted.
Thanks for all the great reviews and
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE review and let me know what you think of the latest installment.