Title: Bittersweet Symphony
Challenge: 29. The Order and the Death Eaters have to work together to defeat something that threatens them all. Who are they fighting and why? Who has to work with whom? Are there any romantic liaisons during this time? Between who? What happens as a result?
Summary: Can we ever really change?
Warnings (if any): Character Death
Notes: Big love to shadows_zephyr for brainstorming, betaing and listening, and to who ever set this challenge, I hope you like it.
Chapter One - Don't Panic
Bones sinking like stones,
All that we've fought for,
Homes, places we've grown,
All of us are done for.
And we live in a beautiful world,
Yeah we do, yeah we do,
We live in a beautiful world.
Don't Panic - Coldplay
Hogwarts was silent. Even though it was the summer holidays and the students were long gone, there was usually always noise. But not tonight. It was as if the portraits, suits of armour, house elves and the very essence of the building realized the gravity of the situation. Come daybreak, a battle would commence which could change the wizarding world forever.
The boy who lived knew it, as he lay in bed staring at the ceiling, 'The boy who lived' knew it, as he lay in bed staring at the ceiling, he turned to his once enemy who had awoken, and touched his face so their eyes met in unspoken conversation.
The head of Slytherin house knew it, as he sat at his desk, quill in hand and looked at his former student laying on his sofa reading. He watched her bite her bottom lip in concentration and he wondered if she knew how he really felt about her.
The wizened headmaster knew it, as he sat in an armchair by the window, drinking tea and looking out over the night sky with the deputy headmistress by his side watching him and worrying about what would become of them in the next twenty-four hours.
And the evil wizard knew it, as he sat in the chair he had brought with him to this place of learning, absently rubbing one long fingered hand across his chin while the other caressed the hair of the dark haired woman who sat at his feet gazing at him adoringly, and planning his next move carefully.
Yes, all these people and many more good and evil all under the one roof preparing in their own way for a battle, but not the battle they had expected to come.
No, this was a battle in which they fought together on the same side against a common enemy. Man.
Six Months Earlier
The tension around the old scarred table in the kitchen of Grimmauld place was palpable. Every person there stared at the tall thin man who had just finished speaking.
“What do you mean it wasn’t him?” asked Remus Lupin incredulously, as he pushed his hair, which had become a shade that was greyer than sandy blonde over the last couple of years and quite a lot longer, out of his eyes.
“I mean, Lupin, that the Dark Lord and his army are not behind it,” replied Severus Snape, as he slumped back in his chair, too exhausted to even sneer at one of his childhood nemeses.
“I think that Remus, like the rest of us, is having a hard time believing that three of our order members have been missing for over a week and he isn’t involved in any way, Severus,” said Minerva McGonagall from the armchair by the fire. Her body still ached in the winter months from when Professor Umbridge and her squad attacked her on the school grounds, three years previously, but even the warmth from the fire couldn’t ease the ache recently.
The war between the Light and Dark sides of the magical community had reached no conclusion after three years of battles, with severe casualties on both sides, but whereas in the past when Voldemort and his Death Eaters killed someone they proudly showed it off to the wizarding world, letting everyone know that they considered themselves to be the superior wizards. This time however, the missing Order members had disappeared from their homes or places of work without a trace.
“I need to see the last three meetings,” said the man from the head of the table. He had said nothing while Severus has told his story, just stared into his mug of coffee. Now, he looked up and around the table at the Order of the Phoenix.
At first glance he, and the two people flanking him in the uncomfortable hard wooden chairs looked much the same as any eighteen year olds, dressed in t-shirts and jeans with their robes thrown over the backs of their chairs, but on closer inspection their faces were lined with a hardness that comes from years of darkness and fatigue aging them prematurely.
Ron Weasley, ex-school team Quidditch keeper, trainee auror and brother to one of the missing, was sitting back in his chair with his arms folded across his chest. His red hair and freckles made his face seem paler than it was and his long, lean body was limp with exhaustion.
Hermione Granger, Ex-head girl, trainee potions mistress, and on one drunken night, self-confessed know-it –all, was sitting with her head propped up on one arm. Her unruly hair, once her defining feature had been cropped close to her head after it had fallen into one to many potions. There were small creases forming on her full heart shaped face from hours of screwing it up in concentration, like her companions there were dark circles under her eyes.
Harry Potter, Half-blood, parselmouth, ‘boy-who-lived’ was sitting at the head of the table, his table in fact, as Sirius had left Grimmauld place to him. His black hair still stuck out in all directions and his eyes were the same startling green behind his glasses that they had always been, but he held himself with the confidence of a leader and his face was sure and certain as he stared down his old teacher.
“Snape, I need to see the meetings,” he repeated. Harry thought that maybe he was powerful enough to break into the older mans mind against his will but didn’t want to do that if it could be avoided.
“What’s the matter Potter, still don’t trust me?” sneered Severus
“I made a request Snape, I don’t expect you to question it. I just expect you to open your mind so I can see the damn meetings,” said Harry, his voice holding the sharp edge of impatience.
“Stop it both of you!” said Hermione, her head snapped up and she glared at them both, “I mean, is it any wonder that we haven’t ended this war yet if all we do is fight among ourselves?” she turned to Harry, “You’ve never wanted to see any of the meetings before, why now?” asked Hermione in a low voice, she and Ron were still the only people Harry trusted totally and because of that, when they spoke, he listened.
“I have my reasons, Hermione, which I will share with the Order once I’ve seen the meeting…Severus.”
Everyone turned to the spy, who shot Hermione a nasty look before sighing, “Fine” as he lifted his wand to his temple and removed the memories in their silvery forms to the black marble pensieve, which had been placed in front of him.
He walked to the end of the table and put it down in front of the younger man. “Hope you enjoy it,” he said without looking at him. “I’m going to take a shower so if you have any questions they will have to wait.” Severus turned and left the room.
Harry didn’t wait for anyone to speak; he just leant over Severus’s memories and felt himself being pulled in.
Harry found himself standing in a large, dark hall and he knew instinctively he was inside the old Riddle house. He watched as the Death Eaters arrived one by one, walking past a long table and up two steps to where, on a large ornate chair Voldemort sat. They bowed and kissed the hem of his robes before moving to sit at the table until it was full apart from one space which none of the Death Eaters moved to close.
Voldemort stood and every masked face turned to him. “My Death Eaters, I have called you here tonight because one of our number has disappeared.”
There was a slight murmur around the table and everyone there seemed to know who was missing from the empty space.
“Silence!” hissed Voldemort and the room fell deathly quiet as his gaze fell upon one of the crowd who was sitting at the opposite end of the table. “Tell us Severus, what has become of our brother.”
Every head turned to the other end of the table as Severus removed his hood and mask but kept his head bowed, “My lord, I know nothing of what has happened to him and as far as I can tell nor do they.”
Voldemort stood and looked down at the wizard. “Come now Severus, I know you do not expect me to believe that Harry Potter’s precious ‘Order’ has nothing to do with our missing member,” he shook his head as he drew his wand and pointed it at Severus’s chest, “I thought better of you than this. I thought that when you returned to me you had learned your lesson but it appears not. Crucio.”
Harry flinched as Severus fell to the floor writhing in pain. Voldemort lifted the curse but before Severus had time to recover the dark wizard raised his wand again; “Legilimens.” He hissed. After about a minute, Voldemort lifted the spell and dismissed his army.
Harry felt the room swim and come back into focus. The second meeting was much the same as the first, the only difference being that another Death Eater was missing. By the time they reached the third meeting Harry had a sick feeling in his stomach. When Voldemort finished his Occlumency on Severus yet continued to stare at him. Severus kept his head bowed but glanced up once feeling the weight of the dark wizards stare, “My Lord?” he asked quietly.
Voldemort sat back down in his own chair, “Tell me about the missing Order members.” The Death Eaters looked from their master to Severus and Harry knew that beneath their masks there was confusion on their faces.
Harry watched Voldemort as Severus told them of the disappearances of Kingsley Shacklebolt, Luna Lovegood and finally Charlie Weasley.
Voldemort was silent for a minute after Severus finished and then he spoke, “The Order believes that we have taken their people just as we believe they have ours, but you Severus, who it seems is once more playing both sides of the fence, believes that neither side has anything to do with either set of disappearances.”
“That is correct my Lord, I honestly believe that the Order has no knowledge of the disappearances or whereabouts of Patricia Parkinson, Marcus Flint or Rodolphus Lestrange.”
“Liar!” shouted a female voice from the top end of the table, and with a surge of hatred Harry watched as Bellatrix Lestrange pulled of her mask and hood and turned to Severus “Tell me where my husband is you blood traitor!” she shrieked pulling her wand out.
“Bella, Be still.” said Voldemort looking down at her.
“He knows Master, he knows where they are,” she hissed still staring at Severus.
“No, he does not,” replied Voldemort, “he does not know, because the Order does not know, as I suspected.” He looked around the room. “Cease all activity until further notice. You are all dismissed, all except you Bella,” said Voldemort, and as the dark haired witch knelt before her master, Harry felt himself being pulled back out.
Hermione and Ron sat at the table watching him. “Now will you tell us why you had to see that?” asked Hermione,
“To have my suspicions confirmed and bring up more questions,” said Harry, taking off his glasses and rubbing his eyes, “Voldemort and his Death Eaters didn’t take our people, and we didn’t take the three of his people that have also disappeared,” he looked to Ron and then to Hermione, “So tell me why would someone kidnap three Order members and three Death Eaters?”
Ron looked at him, confusion on his face “More to the point, who would have that sort of power.
Chapter Two - Boys Don't Cry
I try to laugh about it
Cover it all up with lies
I try and laugh about it
Hiding the tears in my eyes
'Cause boys don't cry
Boys don't cry
Boys Don't Cry - The Cure
Harry awoke with a start. This was it, the day he launched a war on the people he always thought he would protect. He reached across the bed and was surprised when he found it empty. He got up and quickly dressed, then made his way down to the great hall. He knew he had to prepare for the day ahead and as the leader of an army it seemed only right that he was here first.
A noise from the other end of the hall made him look up, and he saw his lover at the top table examining maps and blueprints.
“Draco, what are you doing down here at this time?” Harry asked, wondering why he was getting angry.
Draco looked up and surveyed Harry, “You look like shit Potter,” he drawled, turning back to the papers he had been reading.
“Why are you looking at those?” Harry said as he strode down the hall to where Draco was standing, “If you don’t know the plan by now then perhaps you should just stay here.”
Draco turned and leaned against the desk, watching Harry silently, his arms crossed.
“I mean, unless I’m wrong, I thought I was in charge of this rescue mission, did something change while I was asleep, or did you and your boss decide to change the plan to help your side?”
“Are you finished?” asked Draco, eyebrow raised.
Harry was silent, staring at the table of maps and breathing hard.
“Good. Then stop being such a bloody wanker,” he said quietly, leaning over to kiss Harrys bowed head. “He’s not going to change his mind at the last minute, we want our people back as much as you want yours.”
Harry nodded and gave Draco a chaste kiss on the lips “I just need to be in control of this today, that’s all.”
Draco chuckled, “Yes well, didn’t you always?”
Six Months earlier
Harry lay on his bed staring at the ceiling. He hadn’t moved since he had heard the voice in his head saying,
‘Harry Potter— I need to speak with you.’
That had been an hour ago and Harry had been trying to connect to Voldemort ever since with no success. He knew what the conversation would be about.
Harry jumped as the high cold voice penetrated his mind raising Goosebumps on his arms and face,
‘My apologies for the delay I had …business elsewhere.’
‘What do you want Voldemort?’
‘The same thing as you Harry, I want my people back. I think we are both clear on the fact that neither of us has anything to do with the others people disappearing.’
‘Fine, so we are agreed on one thing. I assume that you think that the same people are responsible for both sides disappearance. Do you know who it is?’
‘You have not forgotten that we are sworn enemies?’
Harry flinched. He hated what he was doing. Every fibre of his being was screaming that he should never be having a conversation with his parents’ murderer, but he was also completely intrigued.
‘You contacted me, not the other way around.’
‘I am aware of that Harry; I just wanted you to remember who you were talking to. What I am proposing is a …pooling of our resources as it were.’
‘Why don’t you just tell me what you mean?’ The sigh that ran through Harry’s mind chilled him to the bone but he held the connection.
‘What I mean Harry, is that we are going to have to work together if we wish to see our comrades again.”
Harry was silent for a long time, so long that Voldemort spoke again, ‘Harry Potter, are you so speechless by my proposition?’
‘I’m just amazed that you think I would fall for such an obvious trap, I’m not fifteen any more. You are an evil murdering bastard who only cares about himself. You don’t care about your people so why would you ever propose such a thing, and to me of all people?’
‘You are very wrong Harry; I do care about my people a great deal. But you are right, under normal circumstances I would rather accept that they were lost than approach an enemy for help but something is very wrong with these disappearances. If I am right about where they are then our world has been broached and our wards tampered with to take our people.’
The order had come to conclusion that something was wrong in their world, but no one could describe what it was, not even Dumbledore. Now Harry knew. ‘You know who has them don’t you?’
Voldemort was silent for a moment and Harry was surprised to find that the dark wizard was choosing his words carefully. ‘I have my suspicions. I will keep them to myself for now as they are just that and will not be productive to this…meeting.’
Harry laughed bitterly, ‘You make it sound like we’re businessmen or politicians, I need to know what you’re thinking or this won’t happen.’
‘No! You will consent to this or you will not. That is all there is.’
Harry stood and walked to the window, looking out at the clear night sky. He couldn’t believe what was happening but he found himself believing Voldemort. ‘If I agree to this and it’s a trap, this war will be over, I will kill you do you understand?’
‘Pick your rendezvous point boy, bring your Order and let us get our people back.’
‘I will let you know within twenty four hours, and only once we are there,’ and with that Harry slammed a mental door on Voldemort cutting off their communication.
Twenty Four Hours Later
“I am running this operation and if you have a problem with that then you can just fuck off back to whatever rock you crawled out from. You came to me for help not the other way around.” Harry was pacing in the headmasters office as he spoke.
“I did contact you Mr Potter, you are quite right. I can remember thinking how easy it was to enter your mind,” said Voldemort from his chair. Draco stood behind him with his father and smirked at Harry, whose fists clenched in anger.
“But seeing as I know who has our people and you do not, it would seem wise to hear me out.” Voldemort’s voice was calm but his eyes blazed with fury. “I would also remind you to remember to whom you are speaking. I have killed people for much less.”
At these words, six wands were simultaneously drawn and pointed. Harry, Dumbledore and Severus at Voldemort, and Voldemort, Lucius and Draco at Harry.
Voldemort lowered his wand and the two blondes at his back followed suit.
Harry lowered his own and said, “If you know where they are then why haven’t you gone after them yourselves, and more to the point why won’t you tell me who has them?”
“Draco.” Said Voldemort, “take Mr Potter to the library and show him what you have discovered about the fools who are holding our people, while these fine men and I arrange for the rest of our people to arrive here and finally come face to face with the mighty Order of the Phoenix.”
Harry walked to the door and then turned back. “Remember what I said Voldemort. If this is a trap I will kill you, and all your followers.”
“I remember, Harry Potter,” said Voldemort without turning around.
“No,” said Harry for the fifth time, “this is wrong, it has to be.”
Draco was sitting in a chair with his feet crossed up on the table, watching Harry as he picked up and put down various pieces of paper, magical photographs, maps and drawings.
“Believe it Potty,” he said with a nasty laugh, not being able to remember the last time he had so much fun as he was having watching Harry’s disbelief.
“Lies, it’s all lies.” Harry came around the desk and shook the papers in Dracos face. “Who did this surveillance, you? What did you do, what spell did you use to create this?”
Draco smiled, “You really cannot believe that it was them, can you, that we are not the only monsters?”
He stopped smiling when Harry drew his wand and started blasting the papers, causing little fires to erupt all over the desk. He leapt up and drew his own wand, putting out the fires and casting a protective charm on them,
“We need them to get our people back, don’t you understand?” he said stalking over to Harry and shoving him hard in the chest, “It’s all true you fucking idiot, they did this.” Draco was breathing heavily, his own anger building, “I did the surveillance, I did the calculations, I was the one who realised!”
“Liar.” Said Harry, his vision becoming hazy as he lashed out and punched Draco in the face, causing a trickle of blood to run from his mouth. Draco punched him back and as Harry staggered, Draco pushed him against one of the bookcases, holding him by the throat.
“I didn’t want it to be true either,” he said quietly.
Harry chocked out a laugh, “Don’t tell me you want to switch sides now, that you’ve seen the light?”
“No,” said Draco humourlessly, “I still believe in Voldemort’s vision, but I’ve never really been afraid before and now I have nightmares.” His hand dropped to his side. “We have to get them out of there. All of them,” he said simply.
Harry couldn’t remember ever having seen Draco look like a real person with fears and feelings before. He would never be able to say whether it was seeing him like this that made him do it but he raised his hand and wiped the blood from Draco s mouth, gently touching his cheek as he whispered, “We’ll stop them, and get our people back.”
Chapter Three - Shape
And you can easily gamble your life away
Second after second
And day by day
You play the game or you walk away
It's a new turn on a blue day
And a cool deal of life for me
And it's all good
Shape - Sugababes
Hermione awoke to the sound of a quill scratching across parchment. She looked around and saw Severus hunched over his desk writing.
“What time is it?” she asked groggily, sitting up as she realised that she was still on his sofa, the book she had been reading the previous night placed on the table beside her although she was sure she didn’t put it there.
“It’s still early,” he replied without looking up.
“Today’s the day then,” she said quietly, shaking her head as though unable to believe what they were about to do.
“Yes Hermione, thank you as always for pointing out the obvious.”
She ignored his comment and wandered over to his desk, putting her arms around his neck and peering over his shoulder, “What are you writing?” she asked.
He stood quickly and turned pushing her away and effectively blocking her sight from what he was writing. “Nothing that concerns you.” He folded his arms across his chest. “What are you still doing here anyway? I’m sure that the ‘ungrateful wretch who lived’ is having a fit about now because the brains of his operation is nowhere to be found.”
Hermione smiled, stood on tiptoes and kissed him softly, “I think that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me Severus,” she said.
“Yes, well, blame it on lack of sleep,” he said dismissively.
Hermione grabbed her robes from the back of the sofa. “I should be going though, lots to do.”
“Well do not let me stop you,” he said turning away from her.
“I’ll see you in the great hall for phase one then,” she said patting his backside and turning to leave.
“Hermione?” he said suddenly, turning back to her,
She walked back and put her arms around him, holding him tight, “I’ll be careful” she whispered.
He pushed her away again, “Make sure you are, I don’t think I could stand Potter and Weasley’s pathetic whining if anything happened to you,” he muttered, but smiled as he heard her laughter follow her out of the room.
Six Months Earlier
Hermione stepped into the darkened room and quietly shut the door behind her.
“What exactly do you think you are doing in here?” asked a voice from the darkness, making her jump.
“Damn Severus, you nearly gave me a heart attack!” she exclaimed as a small fire ignited in the grate on the far wall.
“Only nearly? What a pity,” sneered Severus. He was sitting in an armchair, a drink held loosely in his hand. His eyes never left the fire even as Hermione walked over and plopped herself down in another chair.
“What’s wrong with you?” she asked absently reaching out and pouring herself a drink.
He looked over at her, “What is wrong with me is that I am sick and tired of being the messenger in this bloody war, I have been cursed by one side and insulted by the other tonight and I came up here for some peace and quiet. Then you arrive to shatter them both and by the looks of it, drink all my alcohol. Why are you not downstairs with your leader planning your great victory?” he sneered.
He had been spiteful to her ever since she had left school and joined the order, just wanting to take his anger out on someone, and her being the easiest target, or so he had thought. She had surprised him one night by giving as good as she got and from that, they had become friends of a kind. They visited one another at least three times a week and their friendship worked well, as she ignored his every effort to be rude and snarky to her, and he put on a convincing act of intensive dislike towards her.
“He rushed off to bed, so I thought I’d come and find you,” she said raising her glass to him with a smile before drinking deeply.
“Lucky me,” muttered Severus.
She looked over at him and made a decision. She had been trying to find the right time to tell him that her feelings for him were changing. She knew that he wanted her; she had seen him watching her when he thought she didn’t notice. But she was sick of waiting.
She set down her drink as she stood and closed the distance between them lifting the drink from his hand and putting it to one side as she straddled him and wriggled to get comfortable, “Aren’t you pleased to see me?” she mock pouted.
If he was surprised by this turn of events, he did not show it. “Not especially,” he said as he reached for his drink. She put a hand out to stop him and leaned forward to whisper in his ear,
“Now Severus, I can feel that that’s a lie.”
He grabbed her hair and pulled her head back hard causing her to gasp, “Tell me why I should put up with this outrageous behaviour?” he growled as he began to kiss her throat.
She smiled as she replied, “Take me to bed and I will.”
“Severus?” she whispered, as they lay entwined in his bed,
“Mmm?” he mumbled, half asleep.
“I think Harry’s hiding something.”
“Well it’s not his enormous ego, that’s for certain.”
“Severus! I’m serious.”
“As will I be if you don’t let me sleep you damn harpy,” he moaned, but she gave a small smile as he tightened his grasp on her and mumbled, “We’ll talk about it in the morning.”
Unfortunately the next morning Severus was summoned to Voldemort. He arrived just as Voldemort stood to address his captive audience.
“My Death Eaters, I have called you here today to inform you of the plan to get our people back. I have enlisted the services of Harry Potter and his Order.”
Severus looked at the dark wizard in front him in total disbelief ‘he’ll be telling us that they’re eloping next’ he thought. There were a few outbursts of laughter from around the long table, which descended into silence when they realised that their leader was looking around the room at each of them with a deadly look on his face. “Did I say something amusing?” he hissed.
“My Lord, surely we misheard you, we are to join forces with Potter?” came a voice to the right of Severus.
“Yes, Lucius you heard me quite well, we need their resources and they need ours, I know you can all feel that our world has become unbalanced and that is the key to what has happened. We must do this.”
“Never!” shrieked a voice from the table.
“Bella,” said Voldemort, his red eyes looking down to his number two lieutenant and the only Death Eater to ever get away with anything lightly, “Do you not wish to see your dear husband again?”
“Not if that is price I have to pay for it, I would rather die,” she spat, her dark eyes flashing.
“I would not,” said a voice from further down the table.
“Shut up Rabastan, your brother would feel the same as I do, and accept his fate if this is the alternative,” Bellatrix hissed down the table.
“Bella you are and always have been one of my favourites, you stayed true to me when many did not,” Voldemort said, his eyes travelling around the room, “but if you try and fight me on this again you will get your wish and you will die. The same goes for everyone else in this room.”
“Yes, my lord,” she said bowing her head in submission. She was mad but she wasn’t stupid and she knew when she was on dangerous ground.
“I will call you when it is time, until then you are dismissed,” said Voldemort leaving the room.
Severus sat at the end of the table staring at one of his master’s retreating form. He had no idea what kind of game Voldemort was playing, but he knew he was acting completely insane this time, imagining that he could enlist the help of the Order.
Then he recalled Hermiones words about Harry hiding something. “Surely not,” he muttered to himself. But even as he reached into his robes and felt the coin burning there to call him to his other master he knew that it was true. The light and dark were joining forces, “Merlin help us all,” he said as he apparated.
By the time Severus arrived at Grimmauld place the whole kitchen was in uproar. Harry had called the meeting and obviously told them of the plan. Now, the entire Order, save for Harry, Ron, Hermione and Albus Dumbledore who, as Harry’s main counsel had all been informed first, were standing and shouting, arguing amongst themselves.
Harry met Severus’s eyes and raised his wand to the ceiling, letting off a loud bang that momentarily silenced the crowd.
“If it helps,” drawled Severus, “Voldemort had to threaten his followers with death to get them to agree.”
Everyone turned to look at him except Hermione who rolled her eyes and shook her head. Surprisingly Harry smiled, grateful for the older man’s dark humour at that moment.
“I’ll take it under advisement,” he said, his eyes twinkling and for a moment Severus wondered if what Dumbledore had was catching, then he saw the young mans face grow serious as he calmly faced his army and said, “Sit down and shut up, all of you.” As they did Severus knew that for all his faults, Harry Potter was still the best man for the job.
Harry outlined the rest of the plan in much the same way that Voldemort had but with much less threatening. He ended by saying, “We were always going to have to fight them face to face sooner or later. If it is a trap then it will be sooner.”
There were mutterings around the table but no one was shouting anymore.
“What we need now is a base of operations that is large enough for both groups to work from,” said Hermione looking around the room. “We’re open to suggestions,” she pushed.
“I think that I may be able to help with that.” Everyone looked on in amazement as the ancient headmaster got to his feet and looked down at the trio. “I know just the place.”
Chapter Four - Private Universe
No time no place to talk about the weather
the promise of love is hard to ignore
you said the chance wasn't getting any better
labour of love is ours to endure
the highest branch on the apple tree
it was my favourite place to be
I could hear them braking free
but they could not see me
I will run for shelter
endless summer lift the curse
it feels like nothing matters
in our private universe
Private Universe - Crowded House
The only sound in the dark cell was the breathing of its two inhabitants, entwined together as they had been almost every night since their capture. Theirs was the strangest of relationships, but they had come to one another’s aid many times in the six months they had been prisoners.
The young blonde woman lifted her head from her companion’s chest and looked slowly around the room, “We’re going to die here aren’t we?” she asked with more curiosity than fear in her voice.
The older dark haired man opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling, “Yes, my dear, I do believe we are.” He replied wincing in pain as he moved to pull her back down to his chest.
“Why do you think they chose us? Do think it’s coincidental or were we six targeted for a reason?”
The man sighed thoughtfully, they had had this conversation many times before trying to come up with theories, but he found to his amusement that his young companion had quite the imagination and tended to go off into her own little world. “I have thought about this a great deal,” he said, stroking her silky hair, “If it were just me then I would have to say that I were targeted, but it just makes no sense to take someone like you, so I think that perhaps they chose us at random.”
“Because you’re so evil?” she asked conversationally.
He chuckled and then grabbed his ribs in pain, “What do you mean?” he asked as the pain subsided.
“You think that you’re a target because you’re so evil. That could be why they torture you more than the rest of us, couldn’t it?”
He turned to her, “Quite possibly. A taste of my own medicine you might say.”
“But that’s silly,” she said as she sat up and scooted back against the wall. He moved so that his head was in her lap and she began to stroke his hair as she did every night. She knew he was in pain constantly and this was the only was he could get to sleep.
“I mean, torturing you isn’t going to make any difference, if anything it’s going to make it worse, because if we ever do get out of here you’ll do terrible things to the people who hurt you and to their families won’t you?”
“It never fails to amaze me how quickly you got into my head,” he said closing his eyes.
“People tend to show me more about themselves than they would to anyone else because they think I’m Mad,” she said quietly.
“Why do you fight on their side? You would be more than welcome on ours,” he asked and she could tell that sleep was almost upon him.
“Because I believe in what I’m fighting for, the same reason you fight on yours,” her voice had taken on the dreamy quality, which meant that she was getting tired.
“But you do not hate us like the rest of your side does.”
“I can’t hate for your beliefs, then I really would be a loony,” She looked at him and saw that he was asleep. She leant down and kissed him softly, “But don’t worry Love, I will kill you if I have to,” she whispered and began to hum herself a lullaby.
Six Months Ago
She was cold, that was what had woken her up, that and a soft buzzing. She opened her eyes and without moving tried to see where she was, although she had a suspicion that she already knew the answer. She had been captured.
The last thing she remembered was going into the new bookshop in Diagon Alley that morning, at least she thought it was that morning, she didn’t know what time it was or even what day it was.
‘They must have been quick’ she mused, ‘to take an Order member in broad daylight. I had no idea that Death Eaters were so clever.’ She had never feared death, having seen it from an early age, in fact there wasn’t much that she did fear.
After assessing that she was alone, she pulled herself up from the cool hard floor where she had awoken and tried to get her eyes to adjust to the dark room, at least she thought it was a room. Her hand instinctively went to the back of her ear for her wand and on finding it missing, searched the rest of her person, knowing at the same time that she wouldn’t find it. Arms outstretched in front of her she tried to get her bearings. Two smooth walls, twenty paces across, a third wall which was bigger than the previous two and which she correctly guessed was the back wall. She stepped forward slowly, hoping to find a door of some kind on the other wall. She paused for a moment to listen to the buzzing which had got slowly louder as she approached the final wall. She pulled her hands in to her chest for a moment, waiting for the bad feeling she had, to pass. When it didn’t she took a deep breath, put her hands out in front of her and stepped forward.
The instant her fingertips came in touch with the fourth wall, she felt stuck to it. Every hair on her body was prickling and her entire nervous system felt like it was on fire. With all her strength she threw her body backwards, breaking the connection, as she did, the room was suddenly illuminated.
She lay on the floor panting and hugging herself, shielding her eyes from the unnaturally bright light while trying to get a look at the fourth wall, which she assumed was charmed with some form of the Cruciatus curse. She was surprised to see that it was in fact entirely made of glass, and that there was a man standing on the other side of the glass.
“You’re not a Death Eater,” she said calmly, ignoring his strange clothes and trying to get her skin to stop twitching.
“No I am not,” he replied, with a strange half smile, “I’m with the Ministry.”
The woman smiled at him. “Oh good, I was a little concerned that I had been captured and was being held prisoner, and that just wouldn’t do, I have to take care of my father you see. So, you are from the Ministry of Magic?”
The man smiled again but the smile didn’t reach his eyes and the woman knew before he even spoke that she was in real danger. A tiny curl of fear settled in her stomach as the man spoke again.
“The Ministry of Magic? Oh no, Miss Lovegood. I work for The Ministry of Defence, and I’m afraid you have been captured and you are a prisoner,” and with that he turned and walked down the corridor, ignoring the protests of the occupants of the other five rooms.
Rodolphus Lestrange didn’t mind being tied down in some situations. This however, wasn’t one of them. He was tied to a table by what felt like metal cuffs on his wrists and ankles. He tried to look around but his head was also being held still so all he could see was the metal criss-crossing framework that made up the ceiling and that room looked endlessly huge.
There were at least a dozen people moving around him adjusting buttons on strange machines and speaking to each other with words he had never heard before. He was sure they were English and they were all dressed like a muggle doctor he had once tortured in his own office.
“Where am I? Who the hell are you people? Do you have any idea of who I am?” he demanded in his rich, cultured voice, trying not to show his unease at the predicament he found himself in.
He recognised the man who approached him. He had seen the man the day before, speaking to the occupant of the next cell before walking away despite his protests and the protests of the others he could hear. Others, two of whose voices he recognised as Patricia Parkinson and Marcus Flint. He hadn’t been too concerned until he watched them wheel away the struggling young girl from next door, listened to hours of her screaming, then later to watch as they wheeled her back hours later completely still.
They had done the same with another captive, a red headed man that Rodolphus was sure was a Weasley, but when the wheeled him back they had put him in the same cell as the girl. The screaming hadn’t affected him, as he’d heard enough of it in his adult life, until he realised that he would probably be receiving the same treatment.
“You are in a laboratory, we are the British Ministry of Defence, and you are Rodolphus Lestrange. I think that answers all your questions,” the man said pleasantly as he stuck the needle in the Death Eaters arm and drew some blood.
Rodolphus looked at him, with a smile that usually caused grown men to shiver in fear. “They will come for me. They will come for me and you will all pay. The Dark Lord will rip you apart, destroy you all, and your Ministry.”
The muggle didn’t seem fazed by this at all, “Mr Lestrange, I think you will find that it us who will be victorious and you and your world that will be no more once we have finished with it. This may hurt a little.” As the wizard who had endured more than a dozen rounds of the Cruciatus curse in silence, began to scream, the occupants of the five other cells through the door and down the long corridor, feared for their lives even more.
He came around to the sound of voices and hand running fingers through his hair. Bella used to do that to him at night, before Azkaban stole the last of her mind. He opened his eyes and saw that he was half lying on the floor with his head in a young womans lap. He knew there were worse places to be so he closed his eyes again and listened to the discussion.
“Luna, do you know who he is, what he’s done?” asked the man angrily.
“It doesn’t matter here Charlie,” replied the woman who was stroking his hair, “They did to him what they did to us, and it looks like they did it worse to him.”
Rodolphus had to agree with her on that, he didn’t ever remember feeling so beaten and broken. The fact that it was muggles that had done it to him just made him feel worse.
“And I can assure you that he deserved every single minute of it. You’ve heard the stories of what he and his wife did to the Longbottoms, and that’s not even the half of it.”
Rodolphus waited for her to push him away in disgust and wanted to get up and beat the Weasley to a bloody pulp. He was not concerned about the young witch finding out just how nasty he was except that he was very comfortable where he was and did not want to move.
He was pleasantly surprised when she ignored the red headed man and carried on stroking his hair, singing softly under her breath. He knew then that this girl was something special.
Chapter Five - Bittersweet Symphony
No change, I can change
I can change, I can change
But I'm here in my mold
I am here in my mold
And I'm a million different people
from one day to the next
I can't change my mold
No, no, no, no, no
I can't change
I can't change
Bittersweet Symphony - The Verve
The clouds of smoke drifting across the Thames and the series of explosions which left the Ministry of Defence facility in ruins, made news headlines around the world. Four separate groups had so far claimed responsibility for the attack, but the group who were actually responsible were at that moment apparating to the gates of their safe haven.
It had, as Voldemort had predicted, taken the strength of both sides to bring down the secret military operation, which had, as certain members of the rescue team had found out, been watching the wizarding world for years.
Unbeknown to the magical community, every time they had a battle, it weakened the ancient wards that separated the magical from the muggle, occasionally enabling the muggles to see into the hidden world.
The muggle government had been monitoring this phenomenon for decades until, with the second rise of Voldemort, the wards were so weak that the government had been able to walk through and snatch its inhabitants to test and experiment on.
As everyone reconvened and was accounted for, Dumbledore turned to McGonagall; “We need to send notice to the parents that we will be resuming with the school term now that this is over.” Everyone had thought it was for the best to postpone the school year until they were sure that they could stop the people behind the kidnapping.
“I’m not so sure that this is over,” replied McGonagall, inclining her head at the two armies.
People were slowly started splitting back into their two factions, The Order of the Phoenix and the Death Eaters. “How quickly they all forget,” said Dumbledore sadly, “They have been working together for six months, some made friends, some made more and yet now this ordeal is done, they feel that things must return to the way they were. They have learned nothing.”
As they looked around them, only a handful of people remained neutral, in the middle of the assembled crowds.
Madam Pomfrey was fussing over the six victims, trying to convince them to come to the hospital wing so she could work on them properly, they all refused, blinking in the unfamiliar morning sunlight, trying to stand, to get to their loved ones. Draco, Harry, Severus and Hermione were also in the middle, looking down at the six, and then to each other.
Voldemort stepped forward from the crowd of death eaters, “Patricia, Marcus, Rodolphus, it is time to return to my side. We have our own people who can cure you.” He said calmly.
Patricia Parkinson and Marcus Flint struggled to their feet, and were greeted by other Death Eaters who took them to one side and began to work on them, as their families huddled around them.
Rodolphus turned to Luna, and grasped her hand, “Join us Luna, you will be under mine and Bella’s protection. The Dark Lord will welcome you.”
Luna smiled serenely, “Thank you Rodolphus, for everything, but I belong with the Order and we both know it,” she raised his hand to her mouth and placed a soft kiss there, “Go to your wife, and be happy in your beliefs,” she whispered.
“I will,” he replied, “but do not worry love, I will kill you if I have to.” Their eyes met as he repeated her words of the previous evening to him, and she released his hand as he stood and walked towards Voldemort, bowing his head before coming to stand at Bellatrix’s side.
“Draco, why have you not rejoined us?” asked Voldemort, almost conversationally.
Draco, who had been quietly talking to Harry, jumped. He and Harry exchanged looks but before either could speak, Dumbledore stepped forward, “Maybe this coming together has helped in more ways than one Tom, why can we not co-exist together as we have done for the last half year?”
“You fool!” hissed Voldemort, rising to his full height, “What did you think would happen once this was resolved, did you really believe that we would all live happily ever after? You have seen for yourself now what these muggles are capable of, and now more than ever I am convinced that have to be destroyed,” he paused, “along with those who would protect them.”
He turned back to Draco, “Let me make this easy for you,” he said raising his wand. Every person in the grounds did the same. “Crucio” he said, and to everyone’s surprise Lucius Malfoy fell to the floor writhing in agony.
“Father!” shouted Draco, watching his father’s pain and going to him. Harry grabbed his arm.
“Draco, you can’t help him,” said Harry sadly. As much as he hated the older Malfoy, he hated the pain it was causing Draco more.
“Your mother will be next,” said Voldemort, lifting the curse from Lucius, who lay shaking on the ground.
“My mother isn’t a Death Eater,” replied Draco.
“Then torturing and killing her will be much easier I daresay,” said Voldemort with a cold smile.
“No!” cried Draco and Lucius at the same time.
Draco turned to Harry, “we always knew this was a possibility,” he said, his heart breaking at the look on his lovers face.
“We did,” said Harry still holding onto Dracos arm. “I just didn’t want to think that I’d ever have to actually face you in a battle.”
Draco leaned forward and kissed Harry softly on the mouth, “We both know I’d kick your arse anyway Potter,” he said winking at Harry.
Harry smiled as Draco pulled away and went to his father’s side, “You wish, Malfoy” he called after him.
Voldemort watched the scene but said nothing until father and son were both standing at his side. “You will be punished for that.”
“I know,” said Draco, his eyes never leaving Harry’s.
“Severus,” said Voldemort, turning to the last of his army still standing in the no mans land of the grounds, “You did well to play both sides as you always have.”
Severus looked at Hermione and back at Voldemort, wondering if his nerve would hold out, “My Lord?”
“Oh, come now Severus, do not insult my intelligence. I have watched you for six months and although you put on quite a convincing act, I know where your true loyalty lies and it is with the muggle lovers and your little mudblood girlfriend. Or are you going to tell me otherwise?”
“The girl is nothing more than sex, My Lord, and not very good sex at that,” said Severus, now unable to meet Hermione’s, or anyone else’s eyes.
He knew now how this was going to end and desperately wanted to tell Hermione that he was in love with her. But he knew that if he did, rather than just killing him, they would torture her in front of him first. He would rather her live and never know how he felt about her.
“What do you have to say to that mudblood?” said Voldemort, and although it looked to the untrained eye as though he was stalling, Dumbledore and Harry both noticed that the death eaters were shifting around into some kind of battle formation and both began to do the same using their legilimency.
“I have nothing to say,” replied Hermione in an indifferent voice.
“I have to make an example of you, Severus,” said Voldemort raising his wand again.
Severus nodded and stepped forward.
“Now!” shouted Harry and the Order attacked.
The grounds ignited in a storm of coloured jests and smoke as spells flew thick and fast.
Luna found herself staring down at the body of Rodolphus Lestrange, with a strange feeling of detachment and crouched beside him for a moment to whisper, “I’m sorry.” Before Bellatrix attacked her from behind.
Harry went straight for Voldemort but was captured and bought down by a group of Death Eaters. He looked up from his place on the ground and saw Draco being cursed and bound and thrown down next to him. They looked at each other, both trying to convey their sorrow that they would not be able to stop either one’s nightmares.
Severus was trying to find Hermione when he heard her shout in pain. He ran towards her voice and found her bleeding on the ground. “Get up!” he shouted pulling her to her feet.
“I’m not deaf Severus you don’t have to shout,” she said with a pained smile, holding on to his arm as she steadied herself.
“No, not deaf, just annoying as hell,” he replied, a smirk playing at the corner of his mouth. “Hermione,” he said turning to her, knowing that this was possibly the worst time and place he could have picked to tell her how he felt.
She looked at him expectantly, dodging a curse that flew past her cheek,
“Avada Kedavra!” came a shout from behind Severus and he had a moment to say “I…” before crumpling to the ground, to reveal Voldemort’s triumphant face.
She dropped to her knees and held the body of her lover, “I know babe, I love you too.” She whispered, looking up defiantly as Voldemort raised his wand again.
And so for the second time that day a battle was fought, the two sides that had come together to easily, had parted company just as easily, and as the smoke from an attack cleared for the second time that day, the muggle population got their first and only glimpse of another world before a new world order came to pass.