Authors Notes: Hi to all our awesome readers. We're just loving all the reviews and support we've been given and can't wait for more.
The finale of Act I is just around the corner, and as of us posting this chapter, the Graveyard scene (Act III, Chapter 10) is under construction. Keep the reviews coming!
Miracle, Ghost and Crystal.
Act I, Chapter 9: The Defenders
Ginny, Matt, Luna, Luke and Danny rounded the corner and slammed straight into Harry and Hermione. The duo was sprinting at high speed, and the resulting collision landed Harry, Hermione, Ginny and Matt flat on the floor.
"What in Merlin… What are you doing?!" Ginny yelled, pushing a heavy breathing Harry off her and helping Matt to his feet. Luna grabbed his cane while Luke and Danny steadied him.
"Sorry Ginny, but it's really important," Harry said, jumping to his feet with Hermione.
"Important? Wait this is another famous golden trio adventure isn't it!" Ginny exclaimed, adrenaline flooding her system.
"Harry, we have to go!" Hermione said, grabbing Harry's arm. Harry looked from Ginny to Hermione, then back to Ginny. She stared into those deep green eyes, practically begging him to bring her in. Harry took a deep breath.
"Do you trust these guys?"
"Yes." She said without hesitation.
"Good. Here's what I need you to do. Hermione and I just came from the future. Don't ask me how. What you need to do is get to the Defence Against the Dark Arts Classroom. Wait for Professor Lupin to leave. Then Snape will come round. Make sure he doesn't see you. Wait for him to leave. Then go inside and grab the Marauders Map. It should be on Lupin's desk. Once you have the map, wait for the name Padfoot to appear in Professor Flitwick's office on the Seventh Floor. Thirteenth window from the right of the West Tower. Once he's in there, wait for Fudge to leave. Then break in and give him this." Harry pulled his necklace off and placed it in Ginny's hand. He curled her fingers around it, and Ginny nodded her head. She wouldn't fail him.
"Once you've done that, get the hell out of dodge. Make sure you're somewhere with a lot of witnesses. That way if Snape tries to blame you or us for Sirius's escape, and he probably will, you have an iron-tight alibi. And whatever happens, you MUST. NOT. BE. SEEN."
Harry looked back into her eyes. The steely determination flashing through the green made her knees go weak. Harry smirked – it was the look she loved most on him, the look he got when he was about to do something very, brave, very noble and very stupid. Like saving little girls from Dark Lords. Harry leaned forward and kissed her cheek, and Ginny thought she might just drop to the floor. The only thing keeping her upright was pure adrenaline at this point. Then he turned away, grabbed Hermione's hand and ran down the corridor.
"Wait!" She called. The duo stopped and turned back.
"What are you going to do?"
If it was possible, Harry's smirk got even larger.
"We're going to save a Hippogriff and catch a Rat." They turned a corner and vanished. Ginny forced herself to take three very deep breaths. Then she turned back around to see her four friends staring at her expectantly.
"You don't have to come with me if you don't want to," she said, clenching her hand around the necklace.
"If you wanted people who would ditch you at the first sign of danger, you need different friends," Matt said evenly. Then he picked up his cane and snapped it in half. Then he snapped it again, packing it down to the size of Ginny's hand. He placed it inside his robes and grinned.
"What's the fastest way to Professor Lupin's office from here?" Luke asked.
"Fourth-floor corridor. Down the stairs near the History of Magic Classrooms. Across the Suspension Bridge, then into the Defence Tower." Danny said.
"Let's go." The quintet spun on their heels and raced down the hallway, Danny and Ginny in the lead. Ginny didn't even question how Matt was running without his cane. Nor did she ask when they started leaping down the stairs three at a time, and Matt didn't even trip once.
They pushed open the door onto the third floor and ran into the three people they didn't want to see the most. Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle. Only Malfoy had blood dripping down his chin, and his hand was hovering over his face. The Slytherin ponce sneered as he saw them.
"Oh look. It's Potter's girlfriend and her band of losers. A lunatic, a blind kid and a Mudblood. No wonder Potter likes…" He didn't get to finish. Luke stepped forward and punched Malfoy straight in the gut while Matt jumped up against the wall with one leg and kicked Goyle in the head with the other. Crabbe's pants constricted so tight you could see his less than considerable genitalia, then he dropped to the floor like a puppet with its strings cut.
"So, he was overcompensating, somehow I don't think anyone is particularly shocked," Luna said, her wand pointed lazily at Crabbe.
"I'm certainly not," Jessica exclaimed, running down the corridor with her own wand drawn. Ginny shook her head and looked down at the necklace in her hand. They didn't have time for this.
"Come on!" She said, stepping over Malfoy, who was groaning on the floor. She grabbed Jessica's arm and pulled her down the corridor, Matt, Luke, Danny and Luna following.
"Oh, not again. What is going on?" Jessica moaned, slapping Ginny's hand to free herself.
"We're on a mission," Ginny stated simply.
"Harry's given us a mission to save the world! It's very exciting." Luna said, skipping alongside the others. How she could skip at such a high-speed Ginny didn't know, but she didn't question it. Luke pushed open the heavy wood doors, and the team ran across the bridge, only stopping once they were in the large circular room on the other side.
"This is it. The Defence class is just up there," Ginny whispered.
"How do we know if Snape's left yet?" Luke asked.
"He hasn't," Matt said. "He's still inside… he's coming out now! Move!" Matt pulled the group into the shadows beneath the spiral staircase. Sure enough, Snape, cloak billowing out like a bat as per usual, ran down the stairs before disappearing in the other direction.
"How the hell did you know that?" Jessica stammered.
"Explaining later, lifesaving now!" Ginny ordered, ducking out from behind the stairs and bolting up the tower. She wretched the classroom door open and raced across the room. She thought she saw Matt backflip off one of the tables but ignored it. She ran into the office and sure enough, lying open on the desk, was the Marauders Map. Ginny … , Jessica Jones, Danny Rand, Luke Cage, Matthew Murdock and Luna Lovegood were all floating in the DADA office. A dot marked Snivellus, whom Ginny assumed was Snape, was storming out onto the grounds. Down near Hagrid's Hut were Harry Potter and Hermione Granger. Albus Dumbledore, Cornelius Fudge and Walden McNair were making their way to the Second-Floor corridor, presumably heading to the stone gargoyle that guarded the Headmasters Office.
"That's incredible," Danny whispered.
"Ok. We have the Map, now we have to get to the Seventh Floor and rescue Padfoot. Quick question, who's Padfoot?" Matt asked from his position at the door.
"Padfoot is Sirius Black," Ginny answered without thinking. She was staring at the map, looking for Black. Snivellus vanished off the Map after entering a secret passage beneath the Whomping Willow.
"And we're saving him why?" Luke inquired
"Because Harry and Lupin think he's innocent. Clearly, something's happened between now and the last time we saw Harry that's solidified that view," Jessica theorised.
"He said he came back in time. How is that possible?" Danny asked.
"Time-Turners can send you back in time, but I don't know where he'd get one," Luna said.
"Hermione. She has one," Matt stated.
"What!?" Ginny shouted, spinning around.
Matt frowned, "She didn't tell you?"
"NO! Why on earth did she tell you!"
"She didn't. I can hear the constant ticking it makes whenever Hermione's around. Took me a while to figure out what it was actually. I thought it was just a watch at first, but then I realised the aura was all wrong." Matt said all that with a completely straight face. Ginny sighed and looked back to the map. Questions had to wait. The mission came first.
Suddenly Moony, Padfoot, Wormtail, Harry, Hermione, Ron and Snivellus all appeared at the foot of the Whomping Willow.
"Ok. I'm not saying I believe in any of this, but I'd wager that's the present-day version of Harry and Hermione," Jessica said, pointing to the names that just appeared. The ones by Hagrid's Hutt had vanished.
Then, as if the Map were malfunctioning, Moony's name suddenly started flickering. Padfoot's dot flashed for a second as well, before vanishing altogether. Then Wormtail's followed suit. Now it was just Harry, Hermione, Ron and Snape.
"I hate this…" Ginny muttered.
"Guys, McGonagall's headed this way. I can hear her boots, we need to move!" Matt exclaimed, before jumping clear off the railing and landing without so much as a stumble on the floor.
"Show off," Danny muttered as they quickly followed him. They ran out of the office and down the stairs, ducking onto the lower third-floor corridor.
"Okay. Where did Harry say Padfoot would show up?" Luke asked.
"Seventh Floor, Professor Flitwick's office," Luna supplied.
"This way," Danny said, lighting his wand and pointing down the dark corridor. They ran down the hall before stopping sharply outside a portrait of a priest. Ginny looked down at the map and saw a tiny speech bubble appear above her name saying, Flibbertigibbet.
"Flibbertigibbet," Danny said, and the portrait swung open.
"What? I get around." He said before climbing inside. They ran up a seemingly infinite steep spiral staircase. Ginny completely lost track of time as they ran in the dark. Eventually, the staircase levelled off, and Danny pushed another portrait open.
"Where are we?" Jessica asked.
"Seventh Floor on the East side. Flitwick's office should be down there to the right."
The group had just begun to make their way slowly down the hallway when the Gemini Rune flared to life.
"Argh!" Ginny screamed, dropping to her knees.
"Holy crap!" Jessica exclaimed. Ginny didn't even need to look to know the rune was smoking again, the aroma of burning skin told her just fine.
"Not again," Luke muttered, dropping to his knees beside her.
"Harry… Dementors…" Ginny breathed. Her muscles were seizing up, her head was pounding, the rune was agonising.
"I… I can't… You have to… Jess…" Ginny's eyes rolled into the back of her head, and she knew no more.
Jessica watched in shock and horror as Ginny crumpled unconscious in Luke's arms. The rune on her neck was letting out black smoke, and the skin around it was burnt black. Jessica shivered and resisted the urge to reach up and stroke the burn on her back. Focus Jessica. This is the moment you've been waiting for. The moment to prove herself. She bent down and pried the necklace and the map from Ginny's hands. Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Padfoot, Ron Weasley and Snivellus were slowly making their way back to the castle, and by the formation of the dots, Jessica would bet that Snape was levitating them somehow. The future versions of Harry and Hermione, and Moony and Wormtail had not reappeared. If she had to guess, she'd say they were all in the Forbidden Forest, beyond the maps boundary. She couldn't remember if it was a Full Moon tonight, but it could explain the flickering dot.
"What do we do now?" Danny asked.
Jessica took a deep breath.
"We complete the mission." Jessica looked up and saw a large wooden door carved into the wall, opposite a tapestry of a man and some dancing trolls.
"Luna, take Ginny in there and stay quiet. Luke, Danny, Matt and I will get Padfoot." Luna nodded, hooked her arms beneath Ginny's shoulders and dragged her into the room, pushing the door open with her back. Jessica looked back to the Map. Snivellus and Filius Flitwick were escorting Padfoot towards the Seventh Floor flanked by two nameless dots, coming up on the other side of the floor to them. Harry, Hermione and Ron were all in the Hospital Wing and… she breathed a sigh of relief. The future versions of Harry and Hermione were running through the clocktower courtyard.
"Okay. Padfoot is on his way. Be very, very quiet." Jessica said, before slowly creeping towards the corner.
"I can't believe you managed to catch him, Severus." Flitwick's voice carried down the hall. "The Minister is sure to award you the Order of Merlin for this."
"Not if we have anything to say about it," she muttered.
"Indeed." A door was pulled back on its hinges, and a dull thud indicated Sirius's unconscious body falling to the floor.
"He'll be safe here for now. No student will be up here this late. And if they are… well, I do say the Dementors will frighten them off." Flitwick said, locking the door. She silently cursed when she realised he had cast a locking spell. The two sets of footsteps moved back the way they came, and the map confirmed their exit. The only problem, the two nameless dots were standing guard outside the office.
"Now what?" Luke asked. Jessica shrugged. There was no way she could do a Patronus charm without any practice. She doubted she even had a happy enough memory to create one.
"Leave the Dementors to me," Danny said, shrugging off his robes and letting them pool on the floor. He rolled up the sleeves of his muggle t-shirt and turned the corner.
"What in God's name is he doing?!" Matt exclaimed.
A massive CRACK! erupted through the corridor beyond and Jessica, Luke and Matt followed Danny.
Danny was standing in the middle of the corridor, just beyond the doorway to Flitwick's office, his palm extended vertically. Glowing gold energy was crackling off it.
"Hurry up! I can't hold it for more than a moment!" He snapped. Shocked out of their daze, Matt, Luke and Jessica ran to the door. Matt pulled his wand, pointed it at the lock and said, "Alohomora."
Jessica tried the door handle, but it remained stubbornly closed.
"That's kinda the only unlocking spell I know," Matt said.
"Me too," Jessica admitted.
"Good thing I've got a more hands-on approach," Luke said. He cracked his knuckles and punched the door. The wood blasted off its hinges, hurtling back and splintering into a dozen pieces on the far wall. Jessica and Matt crept into the room, wands at the ready.
"Padfoot?" Jessica whispered.
A hand snapped out of the dark and wrapped around Matt's neck. Matt stamped his foot down on Black's foot, grabbed the arm restraining him, and flipped the man over his head. Black face planted into the stone floor.
"Padfoot we don't have time, Harry sent us with a gift." Jessica helped the gaunt-looking man to his feet and handed him the necklace. He looked down in confusion for a moment, before comprehension dawned on his face.
"Thank you," he wheezed, "now get out of here quick before Fudge and Snivellus come back." Sirius placed his hand over the darker of the two pendants attached to the necklace, whispered the word "Home," then vanished.
Not taking the time to celebrate, Jessica grabbed Matt and pulled him out of the room. She pointed her wand at the door and said, "Reparo!" The door rebuilt itself and Jessica allowed herself to breathe a sigh of relief.
"We're not out of the woods yet," Luke said, pulling her behind him.
The two Dementors were bearing down on Danny, whose energy shield was failing.
"Go!" he shouted as the golden wall cracked down the middle and shattered.
Ginny woke up on the ground, silver towers soaring into the sky.
"Oh come on!" She exclaimed, pulling herself to her feet. This was the worst possible moment to be back in this infernal place.
She pulled her wand and looked around.
"Ginny!" Harry's voice cried out. She followed the voice and saw a pale hand holding onto the edge of the grey metal platform the city sat on.
"Harry!" She started to run towards him, but a loud CRACK! rent the air. Tom Riddle, just as she remembered him, was standing between her and Harry, pale white wand in one hand, sickly green diary in the other.
"My Dearest Ginevra. Oh, how the universe loves irony. See, this is almost the complete reversal of what really happened isn't it. Here you are, the reluctant hero, and there is your lover in need of rescue. Poetic, don't you think?" Riddle gave her a sickening smile that made Ginny's blood run cold.
"The only problem, you aren't the famous Harry Potter, are you? You can't save anyone. You're pathetic and tainted. Do you honestly think someone like him, could care for someone like you?"
"Don't listen to him, Ginny! You have to fight him! This is your battle!"
"The Basilisk is coming Ginevra. So, who dies first?" Tom raised his wand at her… and a music the like of which Ginny had never heard filled the air. A beautiful blue and white phoenix soared from above, and Ginny could suddenly hear Luna's voice in her head.
"Ginny, you need to wake up. There are Dementors out there, I can hear them. You're the only one who can do the Patronus Charm. We need you…"
Ginny squared her hips and raised her wand.
"You do asshole! Expelliarmus!" A blast of red light shot forth from Ginny's wand, but Riddle batted the curse away.
"No wonder I chose you. You're weak and pathetic. Easy to control. Goodbye Ginevra. Avada Kedavra!" Green light hurtled towards Ginny, but she was more focused on catching the green covered book flying through the air. She snatched it from the sky and threw it straight into the path of the curse. The Diary collided with Voldemort's spell, and exploded in a burst of black smoke, a vile scream of pain filling the air.
The dust cleared, and Tom Riddle was nothing but a set of robes lying on the ground. Ginny jumped over them and ran to Harry. He was hanging onto a jutting ledge, the Basilisk circling the water below.
"Grab my hand!" She cried, leaning down over the edge. Harry grinned and swung his free hand up. She caught it and heaved with all her might. Harry grabbed another ledge closer to ground level and used it to scramble up and over.
Together, the two teens stood up and stared out over the ocean. A ray of sunshine burst free from the storm clouds overhead, bathing them in light. Ginny grabbed Harry's hand and gave it a tight squeeze. Harry held up his right arm, exposing his second rune to Ginny for the first time. It was a black dragon curling around his upper forearm, but instead of breathing simple fire, a bright red phoenix issued from its mouth. The rune blazed forth with golden light, and a magnificent shimmering golden shield rose up around the city like a dome.
"When you find me on the other side, trust me." She said, with a smile.
"What's that supposed to mean?" he asked her.
"You'll know." Ginny closed her eyes, and the silver city faded away.
"We're not out of the woods yet," Luke said, pulling Jessica behind him.
The two Dementors were bearing down on Danny, whose energy shield was failing.
"Go!" he shouted as the golden wall cracked down the middle and shattered.
Matt grabbed Danny's shirt and pulled him back.
Every nerve in Jessica's body felt like it was freezing. Her breathe was steaming in the cold air of the hallway. She tried to will her legs to move, but just didn't have the energy. She was so tired. The white mist swirling around her was so inviting.
"It's okay Jessica. Don't worry. Everything will be alright. This is all for a good cause…" her mother's voice whispered in her ear.
A bright silvery white stallion smashed through the fog, blasting the Dementors, and the cold, down the hallway.
"Come on!" Ginny's voice cried. Wait? Ginny! Jessica, Matt, Luke and Danny spun around to see Ginny standing in the middle of the hallway, her wand glowing with silver energy, the Gemini Rune blazing with golden light that made her hair look like it was on fire.
"Jessica come on!" Luke exclaimed, grabbing her by the arm and pulling her towards Ginny and away from the Dementors.
Luke pulled her around the corner where Luna was waiting, holding open the door she had dragged the unconscious Ginny behind earlier. Matt yanked Danny inside, Luke and Jessica following. Ginny came in behind and Luna slammed the door shut, letting out a ragged breath.
"That was almost as fun as fleeing from a herd of stampeding Crumple-Horned Snorkacks," The pale girl stated, slumping against the door.
Jessica looked down at the map. Snape, Fudge and McNair had just entered the corridor.
"WHAT!" Snape bellowed.
"What could have happened?! He was right here!"
Snape's screams of rage echoed through the entire tower.
"Poor Professor Snape. He seems quite distraught. Do you think if I offer to help clean out the Nargles from his office he'll feel better?" Luna asked innocently.
The six promptly collapsed to the floor in uncontrollable laughter.