Playing With Fire

Chapter 23

Disclaimer: I do not own the world of Harry Potter.

Obviously it wasn't safe to be away from Harry either.

Tilly stood in the Department of Mysteries in front of the door that led to the inner workings of the Department, shivering despite her traditional Weasley sweater, this one with little dragons running across it (a not so subtle hint from the matriarch). She held her wand out in front of her, delirious nervous after what had happened to Mr. Weasley. No one, not even the older witches and wizards in the Order, liked to be down here alone anymore.

Especially Tilly.

Though everyone had tried their hardest to make sure that Tilly went about her business as normally as possible (and a lot of business it was, being the Head of a Department), make sure that she didn't worry about anything at all, it was hard not to . . . worry that is. Even Charlie had stayed in England, staying at home for a while, though, most always, he was at Tilly's apartment against Marguerite and Mrs. Weasley's wishes, to make sure she kept occupied. It didn't keep her mind from wandering though.

Here were the things she definitely understood, the facts: her grandmother had a relationship with a man named Tom Riddle years ago and bore a son, Tilly's father Benjamin. Tom Riddle turned out to be You-Know-Who, the most destructive and darkest wizard of their time. You-Know-Who was her grandfather and, last year, he tried to kidnap her from Hogwarts.

What still remained the unknown was the most of the whys. . . . Why, for instance, had he killed her father and left her alive? She didn't doubt for a second that the Death Eaters had known she was in that closet, hiding so why not kill her as well? She was only a little half-blood. Why did You-Know-Who try to kidnap her? What did he want from her now? She figured he would have taken her when she eight but then he had failed to destroy Harry and disappeared from the world . . . so what did he want from her in the first place?

"Thinking hard there, aren't you?" Tilly jumped, scowling at Tonks as she tried to get her heart to stop racing. Her friend had the decency to look guilty. "Sorry about that. I'd forgotten how easy it is to sneak up on you when you fade out like that."

"What are you doing down here?" Tilly asked as Tonks moved to sit next to her. "Your shift isn't for another hour."

"Just wanted to come keep you company," Tonks told her, "since you specifically told Charlie to stay home. What do you think he's doing?"

"Knowing him, probably pacing the floor of my apartment, wearing my rug thin." Tilly shook her head, her ponytail bouncing against her shoulder. "He worries too much."

"As he should." Tonks took her hand, smiling softly. "We're all worried. This is so not where I saw us when we graduated Hogwarts."

"Six years ago," Tilly said. "Nearly seven. . . . Merlin, where did the time go, Tonks?"

"For me? Years training to become an Auror. For you? Years finally convincing yourself to go out with Charlie. And now what do we do? Wait for you and him to finally get married."

Tilly laughed. "Marriage is the farthest thing from our minds I think."

"It shouldn't be. You guys have known each other now for twelve years, dated at least seven of those. Besides, Merlin knows how much time we have now a days." It was a very morbid thought, especially coming from Tonks who was usually very cheery. As it was, her hair, along with her face, turned a sickly green. The metamorphagus shook her head, turning her hair pink again, smiling. "Looks like I need to be finding me a husband pretty soon then, eh?"

"Remus might be interested," Tilly told her, nudging her and the other girl turned red.

"He's quite the looker, isn't he? Sweet and smart as well. . . . I've been hinting but he's quite – well I'm not sure if he's interested. He keeps trying to push me away because of – well you know," Tonks added with a shrug.

Tilly certainly did know and though she worried about Tonks being with an older man and a werewolf at that, she could see the longing on her friends face. "Tonks, how much do you like Remus?"

Tonks looked up at her shyly and, as if they were back in school, she whispered, "I really, really like him Tilly."

Tilly smiled. "Well, you keep hinting."

It felt like old times, Tilly thought as she and her friend giggled. It felt like it had been so long since they had just sat together and laughed and chatted about boys (well, men, she supposed in this case). She could almost forget that they were sitting down in the dank recesses of the Ministry, protecting a prophecy from You-Know-Who.

Almost.

Tilly read over some more paperwork, shaking her head. The owner of the Montrose Magpies had written her a very descriptive letter on why they would not play in their match versus the Appleby Arrows. Too risky to travel, he said, to much going on to focus on conducting a successful match. It wasn't that she blamed them but it was hard to pretend that everything in the world was okay if people refused to pretend with her.

She tossed the papers back onto her desk, leaning back in her chair. It was late, the office quiet. Her secretary had tried to get her to leave but she pretended to have a lot of work. She had another shift tonight guarding the Department of Mysteries. In fact she should probably be heading down there now.

She was stuffing paperwork into her bag when she heard the lift clanking from the hallway. No one should be here this late. . . .

Unless they were people who didn't care about those rules.

Tilly slid her hand into her pocket, gripping onto her wand as she made her way into her department. The desks were empty and silent and she walked past them to the door that led to the hallway. It was silent for a moment before the lift whizzed past, carrying six young passengers. . . .

One of them caught sight of her with big, green eyes.

Tilly looked up at the numbers above the gates, spotting the glowing "9". Shaking away the shock, she ran back to her office, digging through her bag and throwing its contents to the ground and on top of her desk. Finally her fingers gripped the smooth edges of the three-way mirror she shared with Tonks and Charlie. Charlie checked her purse almost everyday to make sure she had it and, right now, she was thanking Merlin for it. "Charlie Weasley," she muttered.

His face appeared in the mirror and it was obvious he was moving. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, but I need to know what's going on," she told him, turning to click the door shut and locking it. "I just saw Harry and the whole lot of his friends, including Ron and Ginny, speed past in the lift, heading for the Department of Mysteries."

The scenery around Charlie came to a halt. "They're what?"

"They're here, six of them. What's going –" The mirror fizzled and Tonks came into view, her face scared but when she saw Tilly she relaxed, if only a little.

"Are you still at the office?" the metamorphagus asked.

"Yes, but –"

"Well stay there. Lock the door, keep your wand at ready, keep silent, and stay there."

"I can't, Tonks! Harry, Ron, and Hermione are here, heading down there. What is going on?"

"For the love of –" Tonks lowered her voice to a whisper and Tilly recognized the elf's head and the draped picture of Mrs. Black in the background. There was the sound of a door opening and Tonks was moving again, supposedly into the living room. "This is all I know so far: supposedly Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood broke into Dolores Umbridge's office. She called for Snape to give Harry the Truth Serum but Harry started yelling something about someone having 'Padfoot in the place where it's hidden'. Snape contacted us looking for Sirius but, of course, my cousin may be reckless but he's not stupid. Last thing I know was Snape was going to go find Harry and his friends."

"Well, no need to. They're here already. . . . Look, I'm going to go down there, make sure –"

Charlie pushed himself into the mirror. "No. No, don't you dare, Tilly Riddle. You wait until we get there. What if You-Know-Who is there?"

Tilly swallowed. "Well, I guess I'll be meeting him, finally. . . . Look I've got to go."

"Tilly, don't –"

"Get in contact with Snape. Tell him the kids are here and I'll try to hold off – whatever until you get here but hurry."

"Tilly!"

"I love you two." With that, Tilly put the mirror on the table, throwing her robes on top of them so that she could pretend she didn't hear Charlie and Tonks calling my name. She was glad for the trainers on her feet and her jeans, no matter how worn. At least this way, if she had to grab the six kids and run, she could.

Wand held out in front of her, she unlocked her door, heading out into the department again and through the hallway to the lifts. She pressed the down button, not prepared for the loud noise she knew the lifts would create.

She should have stayed, she thought as the lift clanked the two floors down to the Department of Mysteries. She should have listened to Tonks and Charlie. . . . But then, what kind of Order member, what kind of adult would she be if she left the kids stranded down there with Merlin knows what.

This was what she was supposed to be doing.

"Department of Mysteries," came the female voice as the lift clanked to a stop.

And then it was too quiet.

Tilly held out her wand again, moving down the corridor to the black door, which was ominously ajar. She had spent nights outside this door and now she was going inside. Unspeakables made her nervous. She walked into the circular room, closing the door behind her. Immediately, the walls begin to spin for a moment, the blue lights covering the room. Tilly closed her eyes so that she wouldn't get dizzy, trying to remember what Dumbledore had instructed once.

Her eyes snapped open and she muttered, "Time."

The room stopped and Tilly stumbled a little before moving towards the door that was directly in front of her now. She pulled it open and closed it quietly behind her because she could hear voices coming from the open door ahead. The lights coming from the different clocks and the bell jar with the floating egg was her best source of light and she moved silently forward, trying not to bump into any desk.

"—reveal himself to the Aurors, when at the moment they are wasting their time on my dear cousin?" Tilly took a silent breath and a step back. That voice. . . . That could only be Bellatrix Lestrange.

"So he's got you doing his dirty work for him, has he?" came Harry's voice. "Like he tried to get Sturgis to steal it – and Bode?"

"Very good, Potter, very good," drawled the voice of Lucius Malfoy. She couldn't stand that man; he was always coming to the office, trying to smooth talk his way into getting free tickets. "But the Dark Lord knows you are not unintell –"

"NOW!" Harry yelled and then he shouted "REDUCTO!" and there were five different voices that blended in with his as well, followed by the sound of tons of glass breaking, wood smashing, and a cornucopia of voices. Tilly ran forward, peeking out through the door and gasping at the thousands of glass spheres, the thousands of prophecies smashing to the ground.

The Unspeakables were not going to be happy about this.

Harry, Hermione, and the boy Tilly assumed to be Neville Longbottom were running in her direction Tilly rushed out shooting spells at a Death Eater Hermione had missed as he tried to grab at the three teens, knocking him away. "This way! Lock the door," she shouted.

If they were surprised by her they didn't say anything, just barreled in the room, Tilly giving Neville a push. She reached forward, pulling the door shut and she heard Hermione yell, "Colloportus!" at the door, sealing it and Tilly was momentarily impressed.

There was no sight of Ron, Luna, or Ginny and she ran to a different door, wondering if she would find them in there but they weren't. Instead, as she closed the door and muttered the same spell Hermione used, she found herself face to face with shelves covered in books. Any other day, she would have been quite tempted to study what was on those shelves but today wasn't any other day.

Today she was fighting for her life and the lives of six, incredibly brave, or incredibly stupid, teenagers.

The room became silent again and they listened to Lucius Malfoy scream orders. "Leave Nott, leave him, I say, the Dark Lord will not care for Nott's injuries as much as losing that prophecy – Jugson, come back here, we need to organize! We'll split into pairs and search and don't forget, be gentle with Potter until we've got the prophecy, you can kill the other's if necessary – Bellatrix, Rodolphus, you take the left, Crabbe, Rabastan, go right – Jugson, Dolohov, the door straight ahead – Macnair and Avery, through here – Rookwood, over there – Mulciber, come with me!"

Tilly moved away from the door, looking around. There was no where to hide in the 'brain' room and she could hear the footsteps heading towards her door. She held up her wand, stilling herself.

She was Tilly Riddle and she could take anything.

There was a slight thud as the Death Eater trying to enter the room attempted to open the door on the first try. A deep voice, muttered, "Alohomora."

A Death Eater walked through the door, standing there for a moment, obviously trying to get adjust to the dim light. When he laid eyes on her, she could almost hear the grin behind his mask. "If it is isn't the Riddle girl? The Dark Lord's been looking for you."

He took a step forward and Tilly raised her wand, screaming, "Avifors Oppugno!"

Behind her the bookshelves rattled, a numerous amount books falling off and hitting the ground with a thud. In front of her the man laughed, "Is that all you got?"

This time, it was Tilly's turn to smile.

With a slight shudder, the books rose into the air, their covers and pages flapping like wings as they shrieked and attacked the Death Eater. The large man screamed, batting at the birds, seemingly having forgotten that he was a wizard. Over the roar of the shrieking books, Tilly could hear footsteps coming in her direction. Looking around, she spotted another door, quickly escaping through it and slamming it shut behind her, locking it again.

She was in another random dark hallway. Damn the Unspeakables but she couldn't help but admit they did their job well. Anyone could get lost in here, including her. There were tons of doors and she figured she could make it through one without the Death Eaters chasing her finding one.

But before she could pick a door, two Death Eaters came through the door where she had just been. Tilly quickly crafted a shield charm before they could catch her unguarded. The spell one of them sent bounced off the shield, striking the ceiling and sending down plaster and dust. Tilly thrust her wand forward, ropes shooting out and grabbing the nearest one by the ankles, sending him crashing down like a tree. The other was still rushing towards her and she saw the Cruciatus curse coming to his lips.

"Langlock!" she yelled and the man gulped when his tongue became stuck to the roof of his mouth. With him incapacitated, Tilly jerked her wand, sending him flying into the wall. He hit and slumped down to the ground, unmoving.

Meanwhile, the other Death Eater had gotten free of his bounds. He jumped to his feet, charging at her. Tilly, slashed her wand diagonally across her body before trusting it forward. The slash hit him, sending him flying backwards and landing unconscious. Tilly allowed herself a moment of victory before she turned and flung open the nearest door . . . and found herself floating in what looked like space.

Damn it all again!

She saw a Death Eater, floating, unconscious next to the broken pieces of what she assumed to be Pluto. Well, at least she knew they, one of the kids, had been through here. Swinging her arms she swum to the door on the other ride, her feet touching the ground often and suddenly so that it was like she bouncing. It was a hard time going but finally, she grabbed the door handle and pulled it open, tumbling out.

Turning, Tilly slammed the door behind her, leaning back against it. She was back in the circular hallway and no one was there with her. It was quiet again and she slammed a fist against the door, angry. What good was she if she couldn't even watch over six kids?

And where was the rest of the Order?

A door to her left open and she turned, to surprised to do much as two Death Eaters and came out, both of them a ragged mess. The shock wore off and the one in front raised his wand. "Stupefy!"

"Protego!" Tilly yelled jumping back. "Impedimenta!"

However the man did it, he dodged the jinx, letting it strike the man behind him. Tilly turned to run and felt something painful strike her calf. With a cry, she fell forward, her wrist bending awkwardly underneath her when she landed. Laughing, the man walked towards her, snatching her wand away when she turned over to point it at him. A hand gripped her arm, pulling her up. "Look what I've got! We were hoping to run into you tonight."

He dragged her along, opening the door in front of him, standing there for a moment before he decided no one was there. He left it open however, knowing the room would spin if he closed it. Finally, he must have found what he wanted because he pulled her inside what looked to be the 'brain' room, maneuvering her past the unconscious forms on the ground, a few Death Eaters . . . but Tilly also spotted Hermione, Ginny, Luna Lovegood and Ron, tangled up in the tentacles of one of the Brains. Tilly fought against her the man holding her but he pulled her forward through another door. "Got another one!"

Her heart sank when she saw all the Death Eaters, Neville twitching on the ground and Harry standing at the bottom of the stone room in front of a large veil, the prophecy still clutched tight in his hand, his wand held out in front of him in the other.

Bellatrix Lestrange and Lucius Malfoy looked up at her, the former grinning wickedly, a crazy glint in her eye. She screamed, obviously delighted. "Bring her closer! I want to see her face to face!"

The man holding Tilly half dragged, half carried her down the steps. His other hand encircled her free arm in an iron like vice as they stopped on the first step. Bellatrix skipped forward, reaching up to grab Tilly's chin, painfully, her nails digging into her cheeks. "We've been looking for you, Riddle. You're just in time to help us convince Potter to give us the prophecy!"

Tilly's eyes darted to Harry who was looking down at the orb in his hand, looking defeated. "Don't you dare," she muttered, not so much angry with him as she was with herself, for getting caught. "Don't you dare, Harry, not after everything. Don't –"

"Shut up!" Bellatrix yelled, giving Tilly a painful shake. Tilly felt something warm and slippery drip down her chin, but she dared not look. Bellatrix looked back at Harry. "So what will it be Potter?"

Silently, after a slight hesitation and a glance at Tilly, Harry held out the prophecy to Malfoy, who jumped forward to snatch it.

A/N: Whoo! This was getting long lol. So it's eleven forty four p.m and I've been working on this practically all day. I promise you I will finish the battle next Tuesday for you but for now, you'll have to wait. I hope you like this chapter. I had to separate Tilly from the main characters during the battle only because, well, if she had been with them, having slight knowledge of the Department of Mysteries, she could have gotten them out and then no battle. I know it went a little fast but you have to figure that, without Harry's thoughts and such stuck between dialogue and action, all of that only could have lasted maybe a little less then fifteen minutes. I hope you guys liked it! Thanks for reading and I'll see you next time!

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