I glance sharply at Mum, standing in the Room of Requirement where she arranged to meet me.
“Hermione’s a broken woman, Lily. She’s lost her son, her husband…” Mum’s voice catches, but she continues. “It’s not worth it. It’s not worth dying for.”
“What happens to me?” I ask shakily. “Now that the war’s over. You’ll track down the Guard. They’ll name me. I’ll be sent to Azkaban.”
“You are not going to Azkaban,” Mum says fiercely. “The Ministry knows we have a spy in the Guard. You are that spy. You’re on our side.”
“They’ll kill me.”
“I’ll protect you.”
“They’re too powerful—”
“Lily, your pocket!” Mum cries frantically. I look down, seeing a glow coming from inside my pocket. With a terrible sense of foreboding I pull out the piece of paper Portkey inside, and almost immediately I feel it pulling me.
“Occlumency!” Mum screams as the Room of Requirement disappears.
“Medea was killed yesterday afternoon by Minister of Magic Hermione Weasley.” Octavian’s voice is flat, cold as he paces across the floor of Headquarters. “She named me as her successor. The Ministry has announced an end to the war. I say otherwise.” He turns to face us, eyes boring into ours. “We are launching an attack on the Ministry tonight at seven. The Minister will be there, along with any important Ministry officials. The majority of Aurors would have gone home, with the exception of Harry Potter. We will be attacking with Dementors, and a group of five former Death Eaters who managed a clandestine breakout of Azkaban this afternoon. Lily, you seem unconvinced.”
My heart pounds. What did I say, how did I do this, back when I believed in the cause? “What are we aiming to do?” I ask, hoping wildly that I sound convincing.
Octavian regards me coolly. Occlumency. At the back of my mind I slowly start to build walls, at the front focusing on the things that could go wrong, the proposed mission.
“We aim to avenge Medea’s death,” he replies, eyes blank and devoid of emotion. “And to discourage the Ministry from ever entertaining the notion of lifting the Statute again.”
“When are we going?” Natalia asks. I barely noticed her and Emily, hovering at the edge of the room, and avoid their gaze. I don’t want Emily trying to read me.
“We will meet back here in half an hour, all by Apparition…Potter, can you Apparate?”
“That’s the least of our worries,” he says dismissively.
“Octavian?” Damascus asks cautiously.
“We can’t Apparate out of Hogwarts.” He gestures to include myself and Lorcan in his statement.
Octavian rolls his eyes. “Portkey, then. The pieces of paper I gave you all. Make sure nobody knows where you’re going or what you’re doing.” His eyes flicker over to me. Occlumency. Block him.
“Dismissed,” Octavian says, and the Guard either Disapparates or is Portkeyed out. Except for me.
Octavian strolls in a circle around me. “You seem nervous, Potter.”
“I’m not yet accustomed enough to battle to not be.” Calm, Lily. Breathe.
“Understandable.” He strolls closer, his pale face inches from mine, black eyes searching.
“Are you related to Severus Snape?”
“That traitor!” Octavian wheels around, resuming his pacing. “My second cousin.” He pauses, turning to me once again, stepping closer, slowly lifting his wand until the tip rests at my throat. “You won’t let us down, will you, Lily?” he asks quietly. “You won’t…betray us.”
I swat the wand away irritably. “I have proven my loyalty,” I reply, my voice cool. “I would ask you not to forget that.”
Octavian steps back, waving his wand dimissively, and the Portkey pulls me back into the Room of Requirement.
When I arrive back in the Room, it’s filled with twenty-five years of junk, slowly accumulating after Fiendfyre destroyed everything inside it in the Battle of Hogwarts. I discard the paper Portkey.
I need the Floo Network, I tell myself. I need the Floo Network. I need the Floo Network.
I have no idea if it will work, but slowly a fireplace materialises along one wall, beside it a small can of Floo Powder. I grab a handful and throw it into the fire. “The Atrium, Ministry of Magic!”
Ten minutes have already passed since Octavian dismissed us, and I’m anxiously aware of the time as I hop from foot to foot in line for the security booth.
“This is urgent!” I yell frustratedly. “Please, I have to get through!”
The wizards in front of me exchange glances, and after some consultation which sounds suspiciously like “That’s Harry Potter’s daughter” they let me through.
“Cherry wood and dragon heartstring, ten inches, firm,” the security wizard recites as I shove my wand in his face.
“Yes,” I say impatiently.
“Registered to Lily Potter.”
“We hope you enjoy your visit to the Ministry of Magic.”
The Atrium is bustling with wizards hurrying to get their final errands done before Apparating home when the Ministry closes in fifteen minutes. I throw myself into the nearest lift, punching the button for the Auror Office floor. Mum should be there. Mum’s usually in the Auror Office by late afternoon/early evening, or at least she has been for the duration of the war; what if she’s not there now that it’s over? I bolt down the corridor, pulling open the door to the office and casting my eyes around. There’s no sign of Mum.
“Lily, what are you doing here?” Dad asks, a puzzled expression on his face. “Should’t you be at Hogw—”
“Where’s Mum?” I interrupt.
“I don’t know, why?”
“I need to talk to her!”
Dad looks at me concernedly. “Why can’t you talk to me?”
“I need Mum,” I say stubbornly. Dad doesn’t know about the Honour Guard. Mum’s the only one who does. I need to talk to Mum, tell her what they’re planning—
“Lily Luna Potter, what’s going on?” Dad’s face takes on a rare severity; I suppose the last secret I kept from him was my pregnancy, that’s possibly why he’s edgy.
“You need to get everyone out of here. Out of here, or assembled for battle. They’re coming.”
“The Guard. The Honour Guard, they’re invading at seven—”
“But the war is over,” Dad says.
“Hermione killed Medea, it’s a revenge attack, they don’t care that the war is over, they’re coming, Dad, get an army.”
My words finally seem to sink in; Dad whips out his wand, casting several stag Patroni and sending them off with messages, turning to face the Aurors in the office and calling for attention.
“The Honour Guard is planning an attack on the Ministry in fifteen minutes,” he says. “I want extra security charms on the building, I want every wizard in this department ready for battle, and I want the Ministry cleared of any wizard not willing to fight.”
Dad turns to me. “I’m not going to ask you how you know this. But how many are there? What are their plans? What do you know? How did you get here?”
“I opened a Floo through the Room of Requirement. There are nine of them, as well as five escaped Death Eaters from Azkaban—”
“Has anyone heard reports of a breakout from Azkaban?” Dad yells to the Aurors. “Get onto it! Carry on,” he says to me.
“They escaped this afternoon, and they’re bringing Dementors…”
“Shit,” Dad mutters under his breath, once again raising his voice to address the Aurors. “Get One and One Hogwarts here immediately! They’ve got Dementors!” He pulls me out into the corridor. “How did you know this?”
“Does it matter?”
“Yes, it does! How did you know?”
“Trust me when I say, you don’t want to know.”
Dad’s eyes widen. “You’re the spy. You’re the source of information. You infiltrated the Guard, Lily, God, they’re going to kill you! GINNY!” he roars, setting off at a run down the corridor. Mum’s coming towards us, looking bewildered.
“What’s going on?”
“Our sixteen year old daughter is spying on the Guard?”
“I knew you’d react like this!” Mum cries.
“They’re coming, they’re attacking, in ten minutes, they’re going to kill her!” Dad says, a trace of hysteria in his voice.
“Not if I kill them first,” I cut in grimly.
Dad looks at me, startled.
“Suffice it to say, Dad, I’m not defenceless when it comes to Dark magic. So long as you promise not to arrest me for anything I do tonight, I’ll be fine.”
There are no words to describe the look on Dad’s face right now. Mum looks almost sheepish, an “I’m sorry for condoning our daughter’s education in Dark magic” expression on her face.
“All’s fair in war,” Dad says at length. “Though you didn’t hear that from me.” He disappears back into the office.
“Crisis averted,” Mum notes. “Are the Guard really coming?”
“Yes, with five recently escaped Death Eaters and an army of Dementors. In five minutes.”
A/N I know I said there would be no new updates until I finish my exams, but...that didn't happen. Hope you enjoyed this chapter, let me know what you think!