Act II, Chapter 2: The Flavour of War
Ginny sat at the wooden table in her Dad's tent at the World Cup between Hermione and Luna nursing a hot chocolate as she read that morning's Daily Prophet. Ignoring the raucous verbal play-by-play the boys were crowing, she shared a grin at her two friends as she looked at the paper.
Sirius Black Framed! By Silvia Hofsman
In a shocking turn of events early this morning, notorious mass-murderer Sirius Black received the trial agreed upon by the Wizengamot in his extradition order from the French Ministry, which Black submitted himself and another man to just one week ago. It was revealed during the trial by Mr Black under questioning from Chief Warlock Albus Dumbledore and Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement (DMLE) Madam Amelia Bones that Black didn't, in fact, receive a trial before being thrown in Azkaban under the orders of Barty Crouch, Madam Bones predecessor.
This has been revealed to be a disastrous decision, as not only was Mr Black innocent of the charges placed against him, but the person who framed him, Peter Pettigrew, was allowed freedom! Believed dead, Pettigrew – as per Mr Black's and Mr Harry Potter's testimonies – has been hiding in his illegal Animagus form of a rat the past twelve years.
Mr Black narrated the events of that horrible night on Halloween 1981 when he found the bodies of his friends James and Lily Potter after they were murdered by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. This reporter is not ashamed to admit that she cried as he related the heart-breaking story. He then told the Wizengamot how he confronted Pettigrew, the real betrayer of the Potter's whereabouts, the next day, and was framed for the deaths of twelve Muggles, who were actually killed by Pettigrew himself.
Mr Harry Potter – the famous Boy-Who-Lived- also testified in Black's defence. Mr Potter informed the Wizengamot of an event he observed the previous year where Black and Defence Against the Dark Arts Teacher Mr Remus Lupin attempted to apprehend Pettigrew. Mr Potter and his longtime friends Ronald Weasley – son of Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Head Mr Arthur Weasley – and Muggleborn Hermione Granger aided Mr Black and Mr Lupin's capture of the criminal, and were in the process of returning him to Hogwarts Castle to prove Mr Black's innocence when they were set upon by a large group of Dementors. Mr Potter stated that he used an incredibly difficult spell known as the Patronus Charm to force the Dementors away. Many members of the Wizengamot refused to believe Mr Potter's testimony at this point, but after demonstrating his mastery of the beyond N.E.W.T. Level spell to the court, all questions to Mr Potter's authenticity were effectively silenced. Is it any surprise that the boy who defeated You-Know-Who as an infant could perform such a complicated spell?
In the ensuing chaos, Pettigrew escaped capture. According to Mr Potter, Minister Fudge – who was on Hogwarts premises at the time for the execution of a dangerous creature, refused to even consider the protests of Mr Potter, Miss Granger or Chief Warlock Professor Dumbledore as to Black's innocence, instead ordering him executed immediately, in gross violation of Wizarding Law. The Chief Warlock confirmed Mr Potter's testimony during his own statement.
Mr Black, fortunately, escaped Hogwarts before the Dementors reached him. He says he caught Pettigrew attempting to flee across the Channel into France and brought him straight to the French Ministry upon capturing him.
Pettigrew, who initially denied the accusations despite the damning and conflicting testimonies of Mr Black and Mr Potter, was forced under Veritaserum as a hostile witness. He confessed to the crimes, confirming Mr Black's story.
Now, Mr Black is a free man and Pettigrew, labelled a dangerous and difficult to contain prisoner, has been sentenced to the Dementor's Kiss by the Wizengamot. Black refused to relate how he escaped Azkaban to the public on the grounds that he, "Didn't want to give anyone any ideas." He did, however, state after his release from Auror custody that he informed Madam Bones of the method he used, and she is ensuring, "That no one can use a similar method to escape justice in the future."
What happens now to Minister Fudge and Mr Crouch remains to be seen. Mr Black has yet to leave the Ministry as of the issuing of this edition. Some speculate that he is seeking custody of his Godson, Mr Harry Potter, and the return of his wand.
"Brilliant," Hermione whispered.
"Good to know our hard work didn't go to waste," Luna said. The blonde girl had been offered Harry's ticket to the World Cup after Harry had been unable to attend because of the trial, which she had gratefully accepted.
"I'm just glad he can officially get away from the Dursley's now," Ginny said. All three of them knew full well that Harry hadn't set foot inside the Dursley residence since the events of the previous summer, where Harry had run away from the house after inflating his aunt. But Dumbledore and Ginny's parents didn't know that. Nor did they need to.
"I'm not so sure about that," Hermione frowned, "It just says that he's trying to get custody, not that he will. With what you told us about the Potter's Will. Dumbledore might have hidden it for that very reason so that Harry does have to go back to the Dursley's. If Sirius doesn't have proof of claim, Dumbledore might be able to keep Harry there, at least until term starts." Hermione's faith in the Headmaster, once unbreakable, had been shattered when Ginny informed her, Ron and Luna exactly what they found out at Gringotts. Hermione was outraged at just what he had hidden from Harry; Ron – seemingly controlling his jealousy over the whole situation – had fumed to the point Ginny had had to splash a bucket of water over his head to calm him down, and Luna had accused the Professor of being infected by Wrackspurts. Harry had sent them a letter when the trial was announced informing the Weasley's that he would be unable to attend the World Cup, much to Ron's disappointment, but hidden within the letter, thanks to Moony and Padfoot, was a secret message confirming that their plan was going well. He had also informed Matt, Danny and Luke of the Gringotts-Dumbledore situation. Jessica, unfortunately, would have to wait till they returned to school to be told about what the situation was, as it was too risky to be caught sending letters to her by her parents, who were firm supporters of Lucius Malfoy. Danny had also apparently replied asking if he could inform his parents, who had access to very high calibre lawyers. Harry had asked Ginny, Hermione and Ron what they thought he should do about it, not being sure enough to answer himself. The trio, who had yet to reply, hadn't decided. Hermione believed the more allies, the better – particularly those with deep pockets; Ron wasn't sure what value telling a muggle could be; and Ginny was on the fence over keeping the whole thing a secret, though she was tipping towards supporting Hermione's argument. They would be sending their reply as soon as they returned to the Burrow.
"No offence Hermione, but in this case, I hope you are very wrong." She told her bushy-haired friend.
"Girls, you might want to look at this," Luna said, gesturing back to the paper. On the next page was a picture of Harry standing beside his stag Patronus in the courtroom, with another article below.
The Boy-Who-Lived: Look at him now. By Rita Skeeter
Harry Potter, the legendary Boy-Who-Lived, spoke out today in his first visit to the Ministry of Magic. The teenager, who looked incredibly handsome with his messy black hair and vibrant green eyes, was a striking and confident figure in the Wizengamot courtroom. He appeared every inch the dashing hero, standing proud as he defended previously thought mass-murderer Serious Black.
Harry dazzled the entire court with his display of the powerful and challenging Patronus Charm, a spell well beyond the Ordinary Wizarding Level, showing all the politicians and prestigious family members that he can back up any claim he makes with style.
This incident of amazing magic led me to investigate Mr Potter's career at Hogwarts so far. According to the students I talked to, Harry is somewhat famous for his adventures around the school. Rumour has it, Harry and his friends are responsible for the disappearance of Muggle Studies teacher Professor Quiddle. He is also hailed as the person who defeated the monster within the horrible Chamber of Secrets, which, according to what Mr Potter himself announced before the entirety of the Gryffindor Common Room in September last year, was a 100ft Basilisk.
But while Harry may be a hero figure, apparently his personality leaves much to be desired. Draco Malfoy, son of Ministry official Lucius Malfoy, says, "Potter has a large ego that makes him arrogant and self-centred. He acts like none of the school rules apply to him, and Dumbledore lets him get away with everything." Another student by the name of Pansy Parkinson says, "Potter surrounds himself with people who make himself look better. The Weasleys are poor unimpressive suck-ups, Granger is an ugly book-worm, and he also hangs around with a blind kid and a lunatic." Harry is also reported by several students of spending large amounts of time with a girl by the name of Jenny Wesley, a plain looking girl from a poor family. Harry, however, seems to be quite smitten with the red-head, the same girl he rescued from the Chamber of Secrets to the point where he and Jenny even have matching tattoos on the back of their necks (as seen in the photo below). After extensive research, this reporter is proud to say that the marking is not actually a tattoo at all, but the mark of a powerful curse, known as the Gemini Curse, which binds people to one another. So, the question is, is young Harry being forced to like this girl with nothing to her name? Or is there something else going on? Rest assured I will continue to investigate.
What can't be denied, is Harry's magnificent, magical power. His Patronus aside, Mr Potter is top of his class in Ancient Runes and Defence Against the Dark Arts, with high marks in Charms and Potions as well according to last year's results which this reporter acquired from a source who wished to remain anonymous. He's also a renowned Quidditch Player, and the only known living Parselmouth, an ability common in Dark Arts users.
So, who is Harry Potter? Is there more to this story that we don't know? Or is he what he appears, a famous, powerful, good looking young man with an attitude and a penchant for danger? Time will tell.
Beneath the photo was a shot of Harry and Ginny in their red cloaks outside Ollivanders in Diagon Alley, runes clearly visible on their necks.
"I am going to kill this Skeeter bitch," Ginny growled, crumpling the edges of the paper.
"Harry's going to be in a right mood when he sees this," Hermione stated.
"I wonder who the lunatic is? And whose Jenny? Does Harry have another friend with a rune that I don't know?" Luna asked with a mischievous glint in her eye.
Ginny winked at her friend, "Maybe he does, and his arrogant ways are making him keep her from us."
"Or maybe she's keeping herself hidden, so we don't realise she's enslaving him. We'll have to be on the lookout for this mysterious Jenny." Hermione agreed. The three girls looked to each other, before bursting out laughing.
A massive explosion rocked the tent, followed by another, and another somewhere in the distance. Then the screaming started.
"What's going on?" Ron called to their dad as he raced out of the tent. He stuck his head out of the flaps, before turning back.
"Everyone get your jackets on. We need to leave. NOW!" Galvanised into action, the Weasleys, Hermione and Luna all grabbed their coats and ran out of the tent. The campsite was a horror show. Tents were on fire, people were running in all directions, and standing a few rows away, were a group of ten people in black cloaks and white masks, levitating a group of muggles above their heads.
"Death Eaters," her father whispered. Then he turned to Bill, Charlie and Percy.
"Go. Stall them till the ministry arrives!" He shouted. The three eldest brothers whipped out their wands and raced forward, joined by another wizard with short blond hair wearing pyjamas.
"Fred, George, get the kids to the forest. I'm going to help." Her Dad pulled his own wand and raced after the boys.
"Come on," Fred said, his usual humorous countenance gone as he grabbed Ginny's arm and pulled her in the opposite direction, Ron, Hermione, Luna and George, trailing behind.
They raced through the tents, jumping over smouldering stalls, ducking beneath flaming tents, and dodging other panicking witches and wizards. They were just passing the last row of tents when a loud CRACK split the air, revealing a tall man in a dark cloak, wand extended towards them.
"Crucio!" Everyone dived away from the blast of red light, and Ginny lost Fred's grip on her arm.
"ARGGH! Reducto!" Another explosion ripped through the air to Ginny's right and clouds of dirt rocketed into the air. She rolled to the left, her vision blurry, trying to move away from the cloaked person. She pulled herself to her feet and sprinted down the line of tents, ducking behind one that was, as of yet, not alight. She couldn't see any of her brothers or friends. They must have all scattered in the opposite direction. She edged out from behind the tent, and locked eyes with the Death Eater. He was standing a few tents away, shooting spells, detonating each one. Ginny couldn't see his face beneath the mask, but she could imagine him smirking at the thought of an easy victim. Ignoring the sickening feeling that she was going to vomit, she ducked back around the tent wall, eased her wand from her pocket and raced down the row.
"Crucio!" the Death Eater cried, and Ginny jumped to the side as the red light flew past her.
"Expelliarmus!" She yelled, firing the spell behind her as she ran.
She ducked into another row of tents, narrowly missing another jet of red light. Whatever that spell was, she did not want to get hit by it.
She continued running, the black-cloaked figure chasing after her. She turned another corner… and found herself staring at the edge of the forest. She spun back around as the Death Eater ran the corner. She raised her wand, her favourite curse on her lips, but the man in black was faster.
The Death Eater was blasted off his feet and into the air, somersaulting and crashing into a tent. Standing behind where the man had been, was Danny, his hand glowing with golden light.
"Ginny! Are you ok?" He asked, dropping his hand and moving towards her as another man ran out behind him.
"Crucio!" Danny screamed in pain as the curse hit him. He fell to his knees, writhing in agony, and Ginny fired her Bat-Bogey Hex over his head.
The man, who was dressed in a long leather trench coat with short shaggy hair and deep blue eyes, deflected the hex with a shield, dropping the pain spell he was using on Danny, who lay seemingly unconscious on the ground.
"Stupefy!" She yelled, firing another spell.
"You've got spirit," the man said, advancing towards her, his shield easily absorbing the spell. Ginny started backing up. Her heart was pounding, her hands shaking. Her wand was sliding in her grip as she sent spell after spell in the man's direction. He deflected, absorbed or dodged them all.
"Expelliarmus," he said casually, as if bored, and Ginny's wand flew out of her hand. She continued moving backwards. The new wand that Harry gave her was still in her pocket. If she could get to it, she might be able to surprise him.
The man pointed his wand at the sky and whispered, "Morsmordre." A blast of green light shot into the air, and a glowing green skull with a snake for a tongue formed in the night. She didn't know what it was, but she knew it was bad, and she knew it would haunt her next round of nightmares.
"What's on your neck pretty?" The man asked. Involuntarily, she raised her hand up to the Gemini Rune, which was dead cold against her skin. Until she touched it. The moment her fingers taped the black ink, a warm pulse swept through her, calming her nerves and slowing her heart.
She took a deep breath, her right hand easing her other wand from her pocket… and another crack split the air. Harry was standing between her and the man, the Dragon and Phoenix Rune glowing with golden light.
"Depulso!" He yelled before his feet even touched the ground. A blast of energy sent the man flying backwards almost fifty metres into the darkness. Ginny, revelling in the buzzing warmth surging through her veins and Harry's appearance, followed him as he raced after the man.
"Stupefy!" Harry yelled as they neared him, but a small pop echoed through the area, and the man vanished before the spell reached him.
For the first time, Harry seemed to realise that the entire campsite was on fire. He spun around, a look of horror on his face and pulled Ginny into a hug. Of all the things he could have possibly done at that moment, that was by far the best option as far as she was concerned. His silent support helped keep her confidence up and prevent her panic and exhaustion from settling in.
"What happened here?" He asked.
"There was an attack after the match. People in black cloaks, Death Eaters, Dad called them, we're setting the tents on fire. Then that guy sent that giant skull thing into the air." She muttered. Then she remembered.
"Danny." She slipped out of Harry's grip and raced over to the curly haired boy who was trying, unsuccessfully, to get up off the ground.
"Ginny… are you… alright?" he stuttered as Ginny and Harry knelt down beside him.
"Yeah, Danny. You saved my life," She told him.
"Sweet. Go me." Then his eyes glazed over, and he drifted into unconsciousness.
"Help me get him up," Harry said, placing Danny's left arm around his shoulders. Ginny did the same with his right, and together they lifted him to his feet.
Then a series of popping noises erupted all around them, and a dozen wizards materialised out of thin air.
"Put your hands in the air now!" One of the men shouted before he was shoved aside by a balding red-haired figure she would recognise anywhere.
"Ginny! Harry! What happened here?!"
"Which of you conjured it?" the first man exclaimed, pointing his wand at Harry.
"Hey! Get that out of his face!" Ginny snapped as her Dad took Danny's weight from her shoulder.
"Crouch! You're not seriously thinking that Harry Potter conjured the Dark Mark, are you?" her Dad said, staring at the first man in astonishment.
"You mean the skull thing?" Harry asked, gesturing with his wand hand at the spectre in the sky.
"It was summoned by a man with dark spiky hair and blue eyes," Ginny stated, glaring at the man named Crouch.
"I confronted and defeated him," Harry stated sharply, glaring at Crouch, "But he disapparated before I could restrain him."
Crouch sighed and brushed a beetle from his cloak.
"My apologies Mr Potter, it's been a long day." Crouch stalked off with his entourage in a rage. Her Dad pulled Danny's unconscious body into his arms.
"What happened to him? And how did you get here Harry?" he asked, his face softening.
"He was hit by a red spell, Crucio the man said. He saved my life," Ginny said.
"The Cruciatus Curse?! Oh no. I'll take him to St Mungo's." He spun on his heel and disapparated without even waiting for an answer to his question.
"How did you get here Harry?"
"I don't know exactly. I was in the Home, Sirius and I just got back from the Ministry. Then I felt the Gemini Rune, and the Phoenix and Dragon rune heat up, and I knew you were in trouble. So, I focused on the heat and thought about you, and then I was here."
"Do you think you can do it again?"
"Maybe…" Ginny looked around at the burning tents.
"Can you get us to the Burrow? I have no idea where our tent is. And Dad's too busy to deal with us right now. Mum's going to be going spare."
"I can try." Harry pulled Ginny into a hug, and she rested her head on his chest.
"Ok. Think of the Burrow. Picturing it in my mind, focus on the heat and…" There was a loud Crack, and Harry and Ginny vanished from the field.
Ginny felt as though she was being squeezed tightly through a tube or a tunnel of some kind. A very warm tunnel that seemed to thrum with the same heat the Gemini Rune emitted. Then it was gone, and she and Harry were standing in the same position they were before. Only now they were in the living room of the Burrow, and her rather shocked mother was sitting on the couch in front of them, a cup of tea spilt all over an issue of Witch Weekly.
"Ok. Cool. I can apparate. That took a lot more out of me then I thought it would." Harry's eyes rolled into the back of his head, and Ginny grabbed his body before it fell to the floor, gently guiding it onto the couch next to her mother, before slumping down to the floor with a relieved sigh. It was at that moment that Ginny's mother regained her ability to speak.
"WHAT IN MERLIN'S NAME IS GOING ON!"
Harry knew exactly where he was when he woke up. The white glare, the smell of detergent in the air, and the sound of soft conversation. The Hospital Wing. Harry groaned and sat up on the pillows, reaching out for his glasses. He slid them onto his face, and the room slipped into stark relief.
"I told you already Professor. Harry appeared out of no-where, defeated the Death Eater and took me back to the Burrow before passing out. He apparated at fourteen for Merlin's sake. You should be proud of him!" Ginny yelled. They hadn't realised he was awake yet. He glanced to the Hospital Wing door, where Professor Dumbledore, Ginny, Sirius and Mrs Weasley were debating.
"There must be something else Miss Weasley. How did he know where you were, or how to get there? No one taught him to apparate after all."
"It was just accidental magic Albus. Maybe to do with the runes on their necks?" Sirius said, crossing his arms and glaring up at the white-bearded man.
"I for one and very glad that he did. Who knows what might have happened to my little girl if Harry hadn't been there," Mrs Weasley stated.
"Be that as it may. I will need to question Harry before Sirius returns him to the Dursleys."
"Surely there's something you can do Headmaster?" Mrs Weasley asked, "Those people are the worst sort of Muggles."
"I'm afraid that without the Potter's Will, the process of guardianship cannot be sped up. Requests like this take months to process. Even I cannot defeat the power of red-tape. The Blood-Wards I erected around Privet Drive are the most powerful words in the known world. Nothing can break them. Not even Voldemort himself. Harry must return there, especially with the number of Death Eaters who escaped the World Cup." Dumbledore said. The Headmaster then looked Ginny in the eye, and Harry's world fell away. The white stone walls of the Hospital Wing were replaced by silver towers and a clear blue sky.
He was standing in a park near the edge of the Silver City.
Suddenly, the lamp posts doting the roads began flashing red, and a voice flooded out into the street.
"Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert! Unauthorised Incursion Confirmed!"
A loud 'boom!' rocked the city, coming from the direction of the tall tower that stood in its heart. A pale blue light was shining out from behind the windows near the top floor. Ignoring the strangeness of the whole situation, or the fact that, for the first time, he was in the City while awake, Harry narrowed his eyes and raced towards the tower.
The city was bigger than he ever imagined. There were mysteriously designed cars parked along the roads, and dozens of magical beasts including Dragons, Phoenixes and Giant Eagles soaring between the spires. The buildings themselves were nothing like anything Harry had ever seen. They had no resemblance to the glass skyscrapers of London; instead, they seemed to be constructed mostly from a grey-silver metal, with both stained glass and completely transparent windows spaced in irregular intervals. The trees were also odd. They were not the birches or pines he recognised. Instead, there were towering oaks, flanked by elms and beeches. And those were the ones he knew. There were dozens he did not. One with leaves that seemed trapped in the fall yet holding onto the branches with no hint of falling. Others had large spherical nuts hanging from them, or tiny white and pink flowers. And there were no people in the entire city. Not a soul. But the gardens were all perfectly maintained, the houses he could see inside were fully furnished, and there was no dust anywhere.
Harry was still running when the Gemini Rune flared on his neck, and the city vanished from view. He was back in the hospital wing. Suddenly feeling very sick, he pitched his head over the side of the bed and hurled all over the floor. The four heads on the other side of the room snapped in Harry's direction in time to see Madam Pomfrey run out of her office, wand in hand.
"Seriously Mr Potter. You can't stay away from me even when you're not at school!" She muttered, vanishing the sick and waving her wand over Harry's head.
"Nice to see you too, Madam Pomfrey," Harry said dryly as he drank a glass of water on the bedside table. As he swallowed the water, a figure with red hair launched herself at him.
"Harry! Are you ok?! I'm so sorry I asked you to do that. I should have known it was a bad…" Ginny rambled into his chest as the Gemini Rune thrummed with warmth.
"Harry dear, thank you so much for saving Ginny again. If you ever need anything from us. Anything at all, you ask right away, you understand?"
"Thank you, Mrs Weasley," Harry stuttered, blushing to the roots of his hair.
"You alright Harry? You gave me quite the scare, vanishing from dinner like that. Lucky the waitress wasn't next to the table. That would have been bloody difficult to explain!" Sirius exclaimed, a smirk on his face. The message in his speech was clear though. This is the story.
"Sorry about that. I didn't really try to do it. It just happened."
"Perhaps you could tell us what happened, from your point of view?" Dumbledore asked, his eyes twinkling behind his half-moon spectacles.
So, Harry told the headmaster a story. About how he and Sirius were at dinner (definitely not at the Home) before his return to the Dursleys, how he had felt a strange tingling warmth flood through his veins, then the feeling of being squeezed through a hot tube. Then he was in the air between Ginny and a man he didn't recognise, and he used the first spell that came to mind. The Banishing Charm he had been writing his Charms essay on the previous day.
"I see," Dumbledore said softly, stroking his beard in thought.
"A warm tunnel did you say?" Mrs Weasley asked, a frown on her face. Sirius remained silent, standing behind Dumbledore with a smirk of pride on his face.
"Yeah. Isn't that what apparating is supposed to feel like?"
"No. Apparating is meant to be highly uncomfortable and cold," Dumbledore said.
"I think Sirius is right. It must be to do with the runes." Ginny stated giving Harry a look that said, 'just go with it.'
"Have you noticed any other strange sensations you might associate with the runes?" The Headmaster asked.
"Well, there was the whole thing with the Dementors. Plus, this odd dream we've had a couple of times," Ginny told him without taking her eyes off Harry.
"Not that I can think off," Harry said, shrugging towards Dumbledore. He looked into the professor's eyes and realised his mistake instantly, as the Hospital Wing fell away once again. But this time, instead of being miles away, he was standing at the top of a staircase inside a grand room.
It was clearly meant to impress. Harry was standing on a raised platform elevated two steps above the main floor. In front of him was a tall stained-glass window depicting a witch and wizard. The window reached all the way to roof, which was easily four stories above. The walls were a turquoise colour with fluorescent white lights embedded within them, and the floor had a coppery red tinge to it.
Harry turned around, the sight of the magnificent room taking his breath away. Directly opposite the window was a grand staircase with a number of strange symbols composed of boxes and lines engraved into each individual step. The stairs themselves led up to another window, this one transparent and looking out over the ocean. On either side of the landing was a room situated on a balcony. The room on the right contained a number of desks, tapestries and screens – like televisions, only much thinner than any Harry had ever seen. The left room was empty, save for a single hulking grey metal chair with dull blue components.
But by far the most incredible part of the room was the object dominating the lower floor. It was a grey metal ring partially embedded within the floor, with a circumference large enough to fit an entire bus inside it. Situated at even intervals around the ring were seven triangular shaped chevrons. The ring itself was covered in glowing blue runes, some of which Harry recognised as the Zodiac Runes. And he was standing in the middle of it.
"Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert! Incursion Detected!"
The alarm echoed all around him, and dozens of flashing red lights illuminated the room with the desks. Harry ran up the staircase, but before he could reach the room, seven of the runes on the ring began glowing even brighter than the others, and the entire room began to shake.
The seven chevrons lit up a brilliant white that filled the room, and an explosion of rainbow coloured light erupted in the centre of the circle, followed by a giant BOOM!
"Holy shit." Harry breathed, as he stared in awe at the shimmering portal that had formed within the ring. Then, without warning, Professor Dumbledore stepped out of the vortex and into the room, a look of confusion and astonishment on his face.
"Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert! Unauthorised Incursion confirmed!"
Dumbledore began ascending the staircase, and Harry suddenly felt very cold. Like someone had walked over his grave. He desperately started looking around. There had to be some way to get the Headmaster out. Seeing nothing but the fancy looking desks and consoles in the room to his right, and the chair to his left, he pulled his wand and pointed it at Dumbledore's advancing form.
Dumbledore was blasted backwards as the beam of light hit him, somersaulting in the air and crashing down on the floor below. Harry charged after him. If the portal was how Dumbledore got in, maybe he could leave the same way.
Dumbledore pulled himself to his feet, seemingly unaware that Harry had attacked him.
"Depulso!" The wizened old man flew back through the portal, vanishing into the light. The city walls evaporated, and Harry was once again staring at the Headmaster, whose look of bewilderment gave him an odd sense of pleasure.
"Very well. Sirius, if you could escort Harry back to the Dursleys. Molly, I imagine Arthur and the boys have returned home by now. It's probably best if you head off the search parties."
"Oh dear. Yes, I'll have to do that right away." Molly grabbed Ginny's arm and pulled her towards Madam Pomfrey's Floo.
"I'll see you at school Harry!" Ginny called. Then there was a whoosh of flame, and the Weasley's were gone.
"Come on Harry. Back to prison we go." Harry sighed for effect and jumped off the bed.
"I'll see you on September 1st Harry," Dumbledore said, waving as Harry and Sirius left the wing. After walking a few corridors to make sure Dumbledore wasn't following them, Sirius pulled a blank piece of parchment from his pocket and tapped it with his wand.
"I solemnly swear I am up to no good." The duo whispered with identical grins.
Using the map to ensure they weren't spotted; Harry and Sirius made their way up to the Sixth-floor corridor and slipped into the Home.
"There you are!" Lupin exclaimed, running down the corridor, a woman with bright pink hair Harry had become very well acquainted with the past few days walking behind him.
"Moony, Tonks. How's it been?" Sirius said, brushing off Remus's concern and waltzing down the corridor. "I need some Firewhiskey, keeping old man Dumbles from reading your mind gives you one hell of a headache."
"He read your mind?" Tonks asked in shock.
"Yep. Just a surface scan, but I've never been particularly good at Occlumency."
Lupin sighed. "At least I know he didn't read me. Well, unless he figured out how to stop the werewolf trapped in my head from ripping him to pieces that is."
"Occlumency comes part and parcel with Auror training, so I should be fine," Tonks said, pulling a bottle from the Firewhiskey cabinet as they sat down at the kitchen bench. The pink haired wizard, who happened to be both a Metamorphmagus and Sirius's cousin, had believed their story of Sirius's innocence as soon as they told her a week into the summer, when Harry, Remus and Sirius (all wearing Defenders Cloaks) had cornered her at her apartment. Sirius had been rolling on the floor laughing by the end of it. By having Tonks on their side, they knew that there were at least two people in the Ministry they could trust – the other being Alastor "Mad-eye" Moody. Tonks, Padfoot and Moony had convinced Harry that if anyone would give Sirius the benefit of the doubt, it was the man who trained him. Tonks had also been apprised of the Gringotts-Dumbledore situation and was helping Harry sought through the many letters and documents he was receiving on a steady basis as the Goblins combed through his redirected mail.
"Yeah. We've just got the kids to worry about now. No pressure." Sirius said, lounging back in his seat and taking a long pull of the bottle.
"I don't think you'll have to worry about me and Ginny," Harry told them as he declined Tonks offered glass.
"He tried it on both of us back in the Hospital Wing. We got sent straight into the city. The one we keep dreaming about. I kind of banished him through a portal. If I can figure out what those machines are… we should be able to keep him out permanently."
Moony and Padfoot stared at him in a look of complete astonishment.
"Someone care to fill me in?" Tonks asked, looking between the three of them in total confusion.
Greetings to our brilliant readers! We have a question for you all! Imagine if you will…
You walk into your dining room, only to discover that it's much larger than you remember, and all the furniture is gone. Instead, one large circular wooden table dominates the room. On a raised platform at the tables head are three podiums. Four individuals are already seated around the table. Dumbledore, Gandalf, Yoda, and Aslan. Who are the other seats for? And who are the hosts standing at the podiums?
We want your answers! Just throw us a few names, and your picks could appear in a particularly epic Disclaimer we have planned. And if you have any ideas for any conversations they might have, be sure to include them in your answer!
See you next week!
Ghost and Miracle