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July 31 22:00
So it was time. James stepped on the scene and walked to his microphone holding on to his guitar for comfort. People were clapping but they were just vague blurs to him. The lights that fell on him were blinding and he could feel his heart pounding like crazy.
He fixed his guitar just as his friend David started playing the introduction on the drums. James scanned the crowd with his eyes and found his parents and his sister and then he saw Albus and Roxanne and Scorpius, who left the backstage to come and see him play. And then it hit him. He kept thinking how awful and pointless everything that had happened to him this summer was, but in the end there was a point to all of these; he realized how much those people cared for him and more importantly how much he cared for them. And if the twenty minutes he had to perform could make them forget some of the problems they had, he should be grateful to have this opportunity and stop being afraid to like music again.
The band started to play the first song and James wasn't playing along, he was just staring at the crowd beneath him, holding on his guitar tightly. His friends from the band were looking at him worried but he smiled. He couldn't be scared of something so simple...he was still after all James Sirius Potter...
Okay, then....'Without Breath', here we go....
"I've been here for hours
In time with the
same beat our bond
The song ended without any problems and James let go of his guitar and came back to reality. It was like someone put the sound on again and he could hear the clapping and the cheering. So, the first song went okay.
He looked at Roxanne, Albus and Scorpius. They seemed kind of taken aback that he managed to pull the entire song off but they were excited as well. He smiled and winked at them before he started playing the next song...
July 31 22:34
"James that was unbelievable!" David yelled grabbing him from the back when they reached the backstage.
"We did pretty well, didn't we?" James smiled.
"Pretty well? We rocked...hard!" David shouted and James laughed.
The truth was that people were still cheering from outside. David looked from James to the rest of the band and smirked.
"Oh, my, my, do I hear an encore? I hear an encore!" he said and James rolled his eyes.
"They said we could only play four songs...besides we don't have any more songs prepared", James pointed out.
"So? Come on! We can play 'Moon Dust'! Or 'Follow Me'! We know those two by heart!"
"I don't know..."
"Come on, James! Let's go out there again! Please!" said David dramatically as he fell down to one knee.
James laughed again.
"James, there's someone here to see you", said Tony, one of the aurors backstage."Oh, and they told me to tell you that you're on in five minutes again for two more songs...if you want to".
"Okay, we'll be out in five minutes", he said and the rest of the band cheered. "I'll go see who came backstage for me and I'll be right back, okay?"
"We rock!" David yelled at him and he walked away and he turned to give them the rock on gesture laughing.
July 31 22:36
Anasha, James' band, stepped onstage again and the crowd cheered once more.
"They're going for an encore?" Roxanne asked Albus next to her.
"No, they just came out again to mop the floors", he told her ironically.
"James doesn't look as excited as he was when they left the stage before, does he?" Scorpius asked them before Roxanne could smack Albus' head.
They both turned to look at him. James was looking down and seemed even more stressed than before, if possible. It was like something had happened between those minutes they were backstage that made him get all stressed again.
"No, he doesn't", Albus nodded worried.
"Oh, come on, guys, maybe...maybe it's just...just our idea", Roxanne shrugged as she looked at the her cousin and best friend, while he and the band started playing the first of the two songs they had to perform, 'Moon Dust'
"I've just one thing
To say to you,
Don't feel sorry for me'.
I'm not going anywhere.
You mustn't fear..."
The song ended and everybody was cheering again, but Roxanne seemed more concerned now than before.
"He did the song wrong!" she whispered to the others.
"He wasn't supposed to end it now, he was supposed to sing one more verse and then end it", she said.
"Are you sure?" Albus asked her. "It seemed okay".
"Look how the band is looking at him", she pointed out.
The rest of the band were giving James worried glances; it was his song, he wrote it, he wasn't supposed to forget it...except if he wanted to end it sooner.
"He doesn't really look okay, does he?" Scorpius asked them worried.
James was looking at the floor taking deep breaths. It was like he couldn't breathe out of sudden. The band started playing the next song but James didn't follow them.
"I don't think he is okay, Scorpius", Albus said worried and turned to look at his parents.
They were whispering to each other while giving James fast glances. Ginny seemed really irritated.
The band stopped playing when they saw that James wasn't following and the next moment the boy collapsed on the floor.
July 31 22:41
"JAMES!" Ginny yelled looking at her son on the floor.
"It's okay; he's okay", said Harry making her sit down and then hurrying to the stage,where a bunch of people were gathered around the boy.
"Dad, what's wrong with him?" Albus asked him as his father knelt next to James.
"I don't know, Al. David?"
"I don't know, Mister Potter. He was perfectly fine a couple of minutes ago".
Harry grunted and placing his hands beneath his son's back and legs dragged him close to him.
"Harry, what's wrong? Is he okay?" Matthias asked approaching him.
"I'm gonna take him to the hospital and we're gonna see", Harry replied standing up with James in his arms. "I'm sorry Matthias; I'll be back as soon as I can".
July 31 22:27
James went to see who wanted to talk to him. He felt rather pleased with himself; the show was great and they were going for an encore.
"Dad!" he yelled delighted when he saw that his father was the one who wanted to see him. He run to him and hugged him. "Dad, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!"
"About what?" Harry asked laughing.
"For getting us up there! It was great! It was so much fun!"
"Yeah, you were great", Harry smiled.
"You really thought so?"
"Are you kidding? I couldn't believe that it was you up there!" Harry laughed.
"Yeah and we're going for an encore!" smiled James.
Harry smiled but bit his lower lip at the same time.
"What?" James asked noticing his father's hesitancy.
Harry looked at him for a few moments and then shook his head.
"Nothing", he said. "I'm just glad you had fun".
"Dad, come on", James rolled his eyes. "There's something you wanna say, so say it!"
"It's just...we had a plan for tonight and..."
"...to steal that spell book so as the real traitor won't get it", James finished his sentence.
"How do you know that?"
"Mum and Aunt Hermione like to chit chat a lot", James shrugged and Harry smacked his head.
"You were eavesdropping? Why can't you stop meddling in other people's business?"
Harry asked his indignantly.
"I don't know; why can't you?" James asked back.
Harry gave him a stern look and then sighed.
"Anyway, good luck with the encore", he said and turned to leave but James hurried in front of him and blocked his way.
"Come on dad, tell me! What about your plan? Can I help?"
"Yes...no...no. This is your night; you're so happy about the show...you should just enjoy it and..."
"Dad, believe me, there's nothing that I'd enjoy more than to help stop the Death Eaters", said James widening his eyes.
"James, come on, we're up in five!" David yelled to him from the other side.
"I'm coming!" James yelled back and then turned to his father again. "So, are you gonna tell me or what?"
July 31 22:45
Ron hurried outside the car and helped Harry put James in it.
"Is he okay?" Hermione asked from the front seat.
"Yeah, he's fine", Harry nodded and hit the boy's forehead with his wand.
James yawned and then blinked.
"Hey", he said sleepily. "What happened? Did the potion work?"
"Yeah, you passed out when the second song started", Harry told him.
"Oh, the band is going to kill me!" James mourned.
"You were the one who insisted on doing this, remember?"
"Well, whatever, what do we do now?" James asked.
"We don't do anything; I'll go take the book and you will sneak back inside and stay backstage" said Harry.
"What? That was all?" James complained. "I thought you wanted me to help!" he said as he got out of the car.
"You did", Ron nodded. "You created the perfect excuse for Harry to leave; we're even covered in the hospital by Teddy if anyone checks afterwards".
"Does mom know that it was a trick?"
"Yeah, I told her just when you started getting dizzy on the stage or she would have totally flipped out", said Harry. "I also told her to let Albus and Roxanne know so they'll come backstage and keep you company".
"What about the band?" Hermione asked before James could.
"Well", Harry sighed and pulled a shiny silver cloth from his cloak, giving it to James.
"Here, take my invisibility cloak but there's free food and drinks so hopefully no one would be backstage and you won't have to use..."
"Are you kidding?" said James thrilled. "This is the first time I'm taking this with permission!"
"Yeah, well...WHAT?" Harry yelled and James' smile faded when he realized what he said.
"I just ruined the concert to help you!" he reminded Harry taking some steps back."You can't ground me!"
"Okay, can you please solve this later? James you need to get back inside", said Ron pushing James inside.
The boy flashed a broad smile to his father's angry face and run inside. Harry rolled his eyes.
"This kid is a menace!"
July 31 23:15
Harry had sneaked back inside and had perfectly avoided been seen by using some secret passageways, that you had to be an auror to know about. He was wearing an earphone that Hermione had created coping the design Muggle police had; there was no need for wires for this one to work however and he could communicate with Ron and Hermione even if they were miles away.
Hermione had stayed in the car to guide Harry through into the building when he didn't remember what passageway he was supposed to take and Ron followed Harry inside but stayed back to stop whoever wanted to go to higher floors.
"This thing is so helpful", said Harry to his earphone as he took the turn Hermione told him.
"I know; I wish we had it the last time we broke into the Ministry", Ron sighed. "Imagine the trouble we'd had avoided..."
"Well, we are gonna be using it from now on".
"From now on? Why are you planning another illegal excursion to the Ministry already, Mister Potter?" said Hermione reproachfully.
"You never know", Ron laughed.
"Harry, you're almost there", Hermione informed him ignoring her husband's comment. "You just turn right and..."
"Yeah, yeah, I know", Harry cut her off. "Listen, I'm gonna take the earphone out in case there's a spell to locate those kind of incantations".
"Wait...you said you knew how the book was protected", said Ron. "Harry, tell me you know how the book is protected!"
"Well, I don't know every spell!" said Harry. "Calm down; it's gonna be okay".
"Yeah either that or we're gonna rust in Azkaban", Ron sighed.
"Honey, think positive", Hermione told him.
"Okay, we may make it out in twenty years".
"Oh, that was positive!" laughed Harry. "Okay, I'm here; I'm closing the connection, alright?"
"Fine, but be careful and be fast!" said Hermione.
"Okay", said Harry and turned the earphone off before unlocking the door in front of him with his key-card.
He stepped into a long chamber ready to reach for his wand but nothing happened. Somebody was already there and had turned off all the safety spells and turned the lights on. When his eyes get used to the light he managed to make out who that person was, just as the person turned to look at him.
Matthias seemed totally thrown out when he saw him and Harry couldn't blame him; he was supposed to be at the hospital.
"Matthias? What are you doing here?" Harry gulped; maybe Ron was right and they would end up in Azkaban after all.
"Me? The question is what are you doing here? I thought you were at Saint Mungo's" the old man said approaching him.
He seemed really disturbed by Harry's presence there.
"I...I..." Harry mumbled; Matthias checked his watch and then looked at Harry and sighed.
"James didn't faint, did he? It was all a plan to give you an alibi, so no one would blame you...if you stole the book", said Matthias tiredly.
"Matthias...", Harry started shaking his head.
"You really shouldn't be here, Harry", the old man sighed looking at his watch again. "You shouldn't have come here tonight and I fell for your trick with James...and now we're both here".
"I...what do you mean...what are you doing here?" Harry asked confused.
Matthias was standing right in front of him with his wand pointing at the floor.
"What else? I'm stealing the book", the man said with a casual smile.
"So you didn't believe that Hermione was a traitor either?" Harry asked him trying to keep up.
The old man walked, passed him and stood in front of the door.
"Yeah, I always knew that Hermione was innocent", he sighed.
"You did?" Harry asked; he should be relieved by that but his instincts weren't so happy with all these for some reason.
"Yeah...Harry, it was wrong for you to come here tonight; I figured that since you were at the hospital with James you'd be safe".
"Safe? Safe from what?" Harry asked getting more and more alarmed.
"Harry, I appreciate you and care for you and I'm really glad that I was your mentor in the auror agency...that's why I never planned for you to get involved in this", the old man said bitterly.
"Involved in what?" Harry asked terrified, his heart pounding fast because of the terrible suspicion that just crossed his mind.
"Harry...", Matthias started with a hollow voice. "I'm the traitor".
Ginny was sitting alone at the party, feeling really irritated. Not only she was left out from the plan but she had to spend most of the evening accepting everyone's concern about her son! She still couldn't believe that Harry had dragged James into this but left her out.
She was planning to yell at her husband next time she would see him but still she couldn't help it but feeling kind of worried for him in spite her anger; what if everything didn't work out perfectly as Harry kept saying to her? What if something went wrong? What if something happened to him? She wouldn't bear it to see him hurt and broken again.
The lights went down all of sudden and Ginny jumped up as the rest of the guests murmured and shouted concerned. Was that another part of the plan that Harry had neglected to tell her? But why would they turn the lights down? The lights turned on again but the general relief only lasted for a few seconds since the woman that first noticed them screamed.
Ginny turned and her eyes widened. There in the middle of the room was a bunch of masked Death Eaters. People screamed as one of them walked towards them raising his wand and pulled his mask off. It was Antonin Dolohov.
"Listen to me people. I speak for my master, Apostollo. Tonight everything will be settled. Tonight those who are the strongest and the smartest will prevail and tonight the Dark Lord will return!" he said and by this he waved his wand and conjured the Dark Mark.
Ginny watched the mark she thought she would never see again as frozen as the rest of the crowd. Then a bunch of aurors hurried to face them and the fight began.
"You?" Harry managed to ask unable to believe what he was hearing. "It was you all along?"
"Yes", Matthias nodded.
"Why?" Matthias repeated angrily. "You want me to to tell you why? Okay then. Because I gave my soul, my life, everything for the auror office, for the Ministry! And what do I get in return? They're kicking me out! Those filthy, ungrateful pieces of scum dared to think that I would leave just like that? Well, no".
"So you betray the Ministry by joining the Death Eaters?"
"The Death Eaters? No, I'm not a Death Eater. I fought them for my entire life; I was not going to join them!"
"They think I'm with them but they don't stand a chance. They'll make their destructions and then disappear again like before. But I like to think that they'll take out the filth in this Ministry before they do".
"You...I can't...how...?" Harry murmured shocked; in fact he was in such shock that he didn't think to pull his wand out.
"How could I? It was easy...all I had to do was to think of how ungrateful and hypocritical everyone was and all my remorse would go away" said Matthias.
"It was you", Harry whispered terrified from the burden of his ignorance; then his eyes widened when he realized something else. "You gave my son to them", he said with a trembling voice.
"That...that wasn't planned Harry. I never planned to harm you or your family but the boy run away and..."
"You helped the Death Eaters and you thought you're not gonna harm me or my family?" Harry yelled outraged.
"I tried not to, Harry. I told you we had information about the strip club; we didn't ave anything, I sent you there, I sent you to James!" Matthias explained but Harry shook his head.
"You...you accused Hermione, didn't you?"
"Well, who else would have a copy of her fingertips?" Matthias shrugged.
Harry shook his head again; of course Matthias had access to their files.
"I trusted you and all this time you were working for them! You were working for Apostollo!"
"No, actually I've never seen Apostollo. I was supposed to tonight though when I'll give him the book", said Matthias pulling the book from his cloak.
"No", Harry exclaimed. "No, Matthias, you can't give them the book! They'll bring Voldemort back! You can't give them the book!"
"Oh, come on, Voldemort is dead, he's not coming back, they're never gonna make it", said Matthias.
Harry pulled his wand out but the old man had already raised his own. After a few seconds Harry's wand was raised too but he knew that if Matthias wanted to he could have cursed him already.
"This is what you want? This is how you want your time in the Ministry to end?" Harry asked him.
Matthias smiled bitterly.
"Harry, you don't know how much I wish right now for this to end like that. Apostollo is on his way here; the Death Eaters should have taken over the hall already...and I'm afraid that it's gonna end badly".
"What are you talking about?"
"I was planning to take the book and lure them to some other place but you cost me precious time and now it's too late", said Matthias.
"You don't have to do this, Matthias", said Harry. "Give me the book and we'll fight them together".
Matthias considered him for a few seconds but then the door banged open behind them and nine masked Death Eaters entered with their wands raised. Harry took some steps back. They were too many for him to fight by his own...
The Death Eaters moved and a person wearing a long, black cloak walked between them. His cloak reminded Harry from another life how Voldemort used to be dressed just like that. Only that person wore a mask. And Harry knew immediately who that person was.
"Harry Potter", Apostollo whispered with a magically changed voice that couldn't hide his relish. "It seems that I will leave with a bigger prize than the one I thought".
"James, James we have to go and warn your dad" said Roxanne grabbing his hand.
But the boy didn't move a bit.
"How?" Albus asked.
"We'll go up and hope that we'll find him", Roxanne answered pointing at the staircase they were previously sitting under still trying to make James move.
"I don't know", Albus said uncertainly. "You know what he's doing; What if we expose him?"
"Al, the situation has changed; there are Death Eaters inside the Ministry. I mean, what about aunt Ginny? Do you have any idea in what danger she's in right now? And Lilly? Just wait until they understand who they are", Roxanne explained.
Albus looked at her terrified, his green eyes wide. Then he nodded.
"You're right; we gotta find dad" he said.
"Yeah", she nodded back. "James, come on, already!" she added irritated.
But James had his eyes fixed on Dolohov, his hands wrapped in fists, his insides boiling with this new feeling, with this new desire for revenge.
"James, come on!" Albus demanded too. "Rox is right, we have to warn dad!"
James grunted angrily again but then sighed and grabbed Roxanne's hand.
"Okay, let's go then, we need to hurry", he said and run to the stairs.
"We try to move him for like a century and now he thinks we need to hurry", Albus said to himself shaking his head exasperated but then he sighed and followed Scorpius upstairs.
The guests were separated in two groups, one at the left side of the fight and one at the right. Everyone tried to avoid being hit by the curses that flew all around and there was screaming and crying. And no one could leave since all the exits were closed.
Ginny was watching from a corner as the aurors fought the Death Eaters while fear was building up inside her. The aurors outnumbered the Death Eaters but they knew spells the aurors didn't so the fight was even. And Ginny had no idea where everyone she cared about was. Where was Lilly? She was supposed to be in the room but as much as she scanned the crowd with her eyes she couldn't find her. And James and Al and Roxanne? Were they okay backstage? Were they protected?
And because Ginny knew what the Death Eaters wanted she was more scared. They wanted the book. Would Harry manage to take it before the Death Eaters reached the higher floors? Just when she asked herself that she realized something. They didn't try to get to the higher floors. The staircase behind Dolohov wasn't guarded, if he wanted he could easily sneak upstairs but he didn't. Why didn't he? It was the book that they wanted, Ginny was certain of it. Didn't they know where to find it? Or...? Her heart lost a beat. Or there was more Death Eaters in the Ministry and these in her were only trying to delay the aurors? The moment she reached that conclusion she knew it was true. And if so what would happen to Harry? And Ron?
She tried to suppress her panic when a red flash of light hit the wall behind her missing her and the people around her only by luck. She grunted and pulled her wand out. She wanted to fight but...she looked at her belly and sighed. Harry would kill her if she got herself killed. And she didn't want to risk the baby either. She grunted again but held on to her wand. She wouldn't send curses but she would have to protect herself from the ones coming.
Harry took some steps back but looked at the person in front of him with disgust.
"Tell me Harry Potter", Apostollo said. "Did you know about us coming here tonight or do you just have a kick for being at the wrong place at the wrong time?"
Harry grunted; of course he was at the wrong place at the wrong time, wasn't he always? What a stupid question. He smirked.
"Well, I've been hearing so much about you and now that we finally meet all you have to say is this?" Harry asked Apostollo ironically. "How...frustrating".
The Death Eaters around Apostollo raised their wands warningly.
"I'm sorry you feel like this", the mysterious person said. "But believe me you won't be frustrated for much longer", he added and turned at Matthias. "I believe you have something for me old man".
Matthias glanced at Harry, who shook his head negatively and he sighed.
"This is not how I planned for this to happen", said Matthias.
"Surrender the book", said Apostollo simply.
The Death Eater closer to Matthias held his hand out to take the book.
"What if I don't?"
"Oh, my dear old man, haven't we worked together all this summer?"
Harry winced; Matthias had told him already that he was the traitor but the confirmation from Apostollo hurt.
"Why end it now?" Apostollo went on. "What? Don't tell me you're ashamed because of Harry. Harry won't think badly of you. Right Harry?"
Harry could control his rage with difficulty.
"You can't do this, you can't use the book to bring him back", he said, his voice trembling with rage.
"But I can", laughed Apostollo. "Yeah, we can. Just as we could kill your old classmate Dean Thomas, just as we could burn down Weasley's house, just as we could take your son away from you, just as we could torture him", he explained slowly.
Harry's hands were actually shaking with rage, the image of his son ripped and tortured coming back at him.
"Just as we could finish off your friend Weasley at the stairs that was so conveniently waiting for us".
The blood drained from Harry's face as the words that the dark shadow in front of him just said ringed in his head...Finish off...your friend Weasley...Ron...
"What did you do?" Harry asked Apostollo and was surprised that his voice came out steady in spite of the terror that was consuming him.
"Me? Nothing. But my dear friends..." Apostollo gestured at the Death Eaters behind him. "I'm sure they found it really amusing".
Harry lost contact with reality for a split of a second. Ron...dead? No, it couldn't be. No it couldn't. What about Hermione and Rose and Hugo? It couldn't, it just couldn't be. He wouldn't believe it, no, because it just couldn't be true.
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