What Lies Beneath

The Department of Mysteries

–CHAPTER SIX –

The Department of Mysteries

I arrived beside a lift fashioned into the shape of a telephone box. The long and splendid hall was bustling with activity. Ministry officials and members of the wizarding public alike were walking in all directions. Some were queuing to have their wand checked at the security desk. Others were queuing up outside the various floo fires on either side of the hall. There were frequent pops signalling apparition and Disapparition. One thing was certain, everyone was minding their own business. It seemed as though the mentality of Muggle Londoners had over-spilled into the Ministry of Magic.

For a fraction of a second, I was torn between using invisibility or a disguise. It seemed unlikely that the Ministry would have wards against the latter. On top of that, the time of day made walking around invisible awkward, whereas a disguise would make sneaking around far easier.

Using the gleaming glass of the elevator as a mirror, I ran my wand over my face. I winced in pain as my nose lengthened, my lips thickened, my hair lengthened and turned auburn. I had to manipulate my hair to completely cover the scar. These slight changes combined to make me look like a completely different person. Finally, my school robes lost the Gryffindor badge and a silver lining snaked itself around the hem. I suddenly had the strange feeling that I was being watched. I searched up and down the hall for any suspicious behaviour but found none.

Dismissing it as over-attentiveness, I straightened up and walked purposefully towards the lift, my long nose slightly raised and decidedly awkward. I was a little awed at the splendour of the atrium. The highly polished floor was carpeted with dark wood and the sapphire blue ceiling was laden with gleaming gold symbols that kept moving and changing like some enormous heavenly noticeboard. I passed a group of golden statues halfway down the hall. Grouped around a tall wizard with his wand aloft were a witch, a centaur, a goblin and a house-elf. At the bottom of the pool, a smattering of silver sickles and bronze knuts were glinting up at me.

As I mingled with the throng of workers, I noticed how similar Ministry workers were to the average Muggle commuter. Some were reading theDaily Prophet; others were hastily finishing off sandwiches from breakfast. A few were carrying tottering piles of parchment and others carried battered briefcases. All were heading towards a set of golden gates at the end of the hall.

On the other side of the golden gates was a smaller hall containing at least twenty lifts. I headed for the one on the far right, hoping to avoid the crowds around the ones closest to the door. I waited at least five minutes for the lift sparking fears that it was not working. Just as I was about to try another one, it opened. Thankfully, it was empty. My luck was short lived when a sallow-skinned wizard with a mournful face joined me.

My irritation quickly transformed into joy as the man pressed the button for level nine: the Department of Mysteries. Staring at the floor while the lift lurched into motion, I sent out a very faint exploratory strand of Legilimency. The rigorously solid defences confirmed my suspicions: this man was an Unspeakable.

I concentrated all my willpower on my thirst to control this man. I needed to manipulate him for my own personal gains. I did not care for his well-being. I could not care less if it caused him pain. With these thoughts at the forefront of my mind, I rapidly brandished my wand and snarled, "Imperio!"

It seems he had expected this since he dodged and fired a sickly looking spell I didn't recognise. He must have noticed the Legilimency. I instantly threw up the curved shield, returning the curse back at its caster. Not expecting the shield so quickly, it struck him in the arm, severing it completely. His wand fell to the floor with his arm.

I was careful not to give away my rising feeling of revulsion as I summoned his wand. Blood began hurtling out of the remains of his arm like a crimson waterfall of lava. The man did not scream, however, though his watering eyes told the whole story. I supposed this is why they called them Unspeakables. Luckily, I was not after information.

"Imperio!" I hissed and put as much power into it as I could muster. I was met by surprisingly weak resistance. I could feel my influence tugging at his mind. For a fleeting moment, it looked as though he would fight it, but the pain in his arm was distracting him. It took less than a second for me to overpower him completely.

I lazily cast a vanishing spell on the mess the blood had caused. I then minimised the bleeding with a rather shoddy healing charm. Finally, I cast an illusion charm on the area where his arm should have been. It would not do to have an armless route into the Department.

Just as I finished cleaning up, the lift lurched to a stop and a cool female voice said, "Department of Mysteries." The grilles slid open.

"You will take me to the Hall of Prophecies," I ordered the Unspeakable. "Will that be a problem?"

"Yes and no," he replied emotionlessly.

"Explain yourself."

"No, because my work is centred around –" His deadened eyes suddenly bulged and his mouth snapped shut.

"Why is there a problem?" I asked quickly, using eye contact to strengthen the Imperius Curse. "What protection is there that will prevent my entry?"

"There is a ward preventing the entry of those with ill intent," he gasped, as though being strangled. "It will render you unconscious."

My eyes narrowed. "Is it a mind ward or a body ward?" He was gasping for air and failed to respond. There was a familiar urge to torture him trying to entice me. If he writhed in pain, his tongue would loosen. Unconsciously, my wand raised but the Cruciatus Curse died on my lips; I came to my senses. "Mind or body? Answer me!"

"It is a Mind Ward," he replied throatily, clutching his neck with his remaining hand. I nodded in understanding. This made sense since knowledge of Occlumency outside of the Unspeakables was remarkably rare. Even Tom found it impossible to find anyone to teach him the art.

"What about your colleagues? Will they object to my accompaniment?"

"No," he said weakly, "we work in teams of four. We do not know any other colleague outside of this team, except the Head."

I decided to stop questioning him since his face was turning a sickly shade of violet. I did not want a corpse on my hands.

"Go now," I said forcefully. "You will act as if I am your colleague throughout."

We stepped out into the corridor where nothing was moving but the nearest torches, flickering as we passed. A black door loomed as we strode down the corridor. As the man approached it, the door swung open revealing a circular room. Everything here was black, including the floor and ceiling. The doors were set at regular intervals around the wall and the cool blue candles made the shimmering floor seem transparent to a sea of dark water.

There was no time to linger on the design as the handless door directly in front of us opened when the man approached it. There was a tremendous glare of light which I had to shield my eyes from. The room was extraordinarily narrow, particularly considering the grandeur of the rest of the Ministry building. To make matters worse, there were desks on either side, meaning we had to travel single file. Bizarrely, clocks were staring at me from every direction; be it from between bookcases or on the desks which ran the length of the room. The room was alive with ticking, like a miniscule army on their way to battle.

There were four wizards sitting around four different desks near the entrance to the room. None of them even spared us a glance as we walked past them. They merely prodded the watches and clocks on their desks and took notes. At the end of the room stood a towering crystal bell-jar on a desk. There were four more Unspeakables gathered around it, parchment floating behind them, quills ready to take down any dictations. They too failed to look up as we walked past, but instead continued to whisper unintelligible arguments.

Beyond the bell jar was only one door. I struggled to contain my excitement as it swung open.

"Take me to the prophecy concerning Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort," I ordered as the room came into view. The man stumbled - he was attempting to fight the curse. I poured more energy into the link.

The Hall of Prophecies was high as a church and full of nothing but towering shelves covered in small, dusty glass orbs. They glimmered dully in the light issuing from more candle-brackets at set intervals along the shelves. Like those in the circular room behind them, their flames were burning blue. The room was very cold. There was a faint ticking coming from the room with the clocks.

I squinted at the row closest to the door. Beneath the branch of blue-glowing candles protruding from it glimmered the silver figure fifty-three. I followed the man down the long alley of shelves, the further ends of which were in near-total darkness. There were glass orbs lined up along each shelf, below which were tiny, yellow labels. I assumed these were prophecies of times gone by. For a brief second, I wondered how on earth the Ministry monitored the creation of new prophecies. The ticking laboured on.

The man stopped abruptly outside a row labelled 'ninety-seven'. He walked a little way down the aisle before again coming to a halt. He raised his unhurt left arm and pointed out one of the dusty glass spheres with his bony fingers. I had to crane my neck to read the small yellow label affixed below the ball.

S.P.T. to A.P.W.B.D.

Dark Lord

And (?)Harry Potter

Greedily, I closed my fingers around the dusty ball's surface. I expected it to feel cold but it did not. In fact, it felt as though it had been lying in the sun for hours, as though the glow within was warming it. I lifted the glass ball from the shelf and stared at it. I could not believe it. I had done it. I was about to hear the whole prophecy. The ticking laboured on.

The man beside me coughed. I started and almost dropped the ball as the sound travelled down the aisle. "Go about your usual duties," I said quietly, placing the orb back in its position. I drew my wand and whispered, "Obliviate!" His cold eyes glazed over. "You woke up extremely sick this morning but the illness worsened when you forced yourself to come into work. You will go straight to your Head and request sick leave. Your arm was lost in a duel with a Death Eater who wished to discover your secrets. You will not reveal this until tomorrow morning. Go now." I gave him back his wand. Without another word, he disappeared into the darkness. The ticking seemed to grow louder.

I picked the orb up again and stared into its depths. A shiver coursed through me which had nothing to do with the sudden temperature difference between my hands and the rest of my body. There was a reddish liquid glow writhing serenely within the ball. Suddenly, I realised I had no idea what to do with the prophecy.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

"Open," I said, as commandingly as I could manage. Nothing but the ticking.

"Reveal your secrets," I murmured, prodding it with my wand. Still nothing.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

A few minutes passed as I tried various methods of activating the prophecy, both magical and Muggle. It seemed that there was no way of opening it. The reddish glow danced almost mockingly.

In desperation, I tried an idea which I had contemplated for a while but refused to accept. The sides were perfectly smooth and it was perfectly sealed from all magic. The only option open seemed the most simple. Crack it open. However, I knew that if it failed to work, the prophecy would be lost forever.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

I realised that my presence would not go unnoticed forever. Eventually, either Dumbledore or the Ministry will get to me. It was now or never.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

My pulse raced and my breath shook slightly as I exhaled heavily. I outstretched the arm carrying the prophecy. The crimson cloud thickened and flared.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

I stared into the depths of the prophecy in wonder. Did I really want to destroy such a beautiful object? Doubts sprung to mind. Why did I want to hear the prophecy so badly?

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Maybe I did not want to destroy the prophecy. Maybe my curiosity was unwarranted. Maybe I should just hand the prophecy into the Head of the department and confess. They wouldn't throw me in Azkaban.

I heard footsteps somewhere in the distance, outside the bubble of doubt I had somehow managed to become trapped in. That was enough of a catalyst. I tilted my hand and slowly, almost unwillingly, the orb slipped out of the comfort of my grasp and began to fall. I watched its progress as the reddish glow flickered madly and swirled so violently it became a blur of red mist.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

The prophecy hit the floor with a resounding thud, almost as if it was made of lead. Just as I thought the orb had some sort of protective magic, it split down the centre and the two halves fell apart like a cracked egg.

A pearly white figure with hugely magnified eyes rose into the air. She looked vaguely familiar but I could not quite place her. The ghostly image stopped as her feet became level with my shoulders. I craned my neck and squinted up at her as she spoke.

"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches…born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies…and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not –"

A high pitch squeal suddenly attacked my ear drums. The cry of surprise was caught in my throat and I instinctively covered my ears. My stomach sunk as I realised that the figure had finished speaking and dissolved into nothingness. The shrieking stopped.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

I could feel the rage bubbling inside of me. I had to close my eyes and take deep breaths. I could not clear my mind. The ghostly woman and the last unheard lines were burned into it. I was right. Dumbledore had manipulated the prophecy.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

I looked down at my hand and saw that my wand was drawn. My vision was beginning to cloud and a vaguely familiar light threatened to blind me. No! I had to keep in control. I had to stay calm. My vision slowly sharpened again.

"It seems as though the laws of the government have been lost on you, Potter."

I slowly turned to face the owner of the sneering voice. The dim light illuminated a hooked nose, sallow skin and black, oily hair curtained around a thin face. It was Snape. Snape had destroyed my last hope of hearing the prophecy. Snape had shredded my final opportunity.

"You shouldn't have done that," I snarled, voice shaking with fury.

"You must leave now," hissed Snape dangerously, "unless you cling to a foolish belief that the Ministry will treat you with the same blind awe as your professors." His beetle-black eyes bore into me and I saw the urgency.

"Who told you?" I said, my voice dropping dangerously.

Snape raised an eyebrow and ran a thumb up and down his wand. "There is a time and place for accusations, Potter, but it is not here. Unless you wish to rot in Azkaban, as you thoroughly deserve, then you must leave now."

I took a step closer to him. "Who told you?" I repeated. I caught something in Potion Master's glinting eyes. Was it fear?

"You clearly –"

"TELL THE TRUTH!" I yelled. "WHO TOLD YOU?" Close your mind, I thought, close your mind. Keep in control. I had to keep in control. Snape's eyes narrowed and he raised his wand slightly.

"It was your fool of a friend," he intoned, milking the enjoyment out of every last word, "Davis." I maintained eye contact with him, trying to determine the truth. Instead I found dark tunnels and dead ends.

"Liar!" I said angrily. I took a step closer to him.

"Your friend's mind is an open book. I saw the truth instantly. You are not as subtle as you think, Potter, now come with me!" His eyes kept darting towards the entrance.

"I'm not leaving here until I hear the full prophecy," I said, my wand shaking uncontrollably. "You can ease that process."

"Your father paid for his stupidity with his life," said Snape softly, "it seems you are keen to follow in his footsteps."

The familiar delirious white light clouded my vision. It was venomous and unstoppable.

I saw the movement of a boy about my age. It was too blurry to distinguish. My head spun and I heard some words which sounded jumbled, like a broken tape. The boy moved quickly as if he were in a film I was fast-forwarding. He moved faster and faster and the white light grew stronger and stronger, threatening to consume him.

"No!" I snarled. Not again. I was not going to let this happen. I poured all my energy into clearing my mind. My vision was slowly starting to return.

I fell to my knees and winced as the pain of the contact ran through me like an electrical current. My breathing was heavy. Why did this happen to me? I could not blame this one on Riddle. There was no way he could possess me.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

But he possessed Ginny.

My blood ran cold as I tried to expel this thought from my mind. The very thought of being controlled by Riddle was revolting. The very notion that I was not in charge of my body was too frightening a concept to digest. I had always been and always will be Harry Potter, every second and every breath of my life.

Snape. Where was he?

Gingerly, I rose to my feet. My legs were shaking, as if I had not been fed for many days. I was suddenly conscious of how cold the Hall was.

The search for Snape was not a long one. I found him lying very still beside the sign for row forty-five. My breath caught in my throat. Had I killed him? While I hated him with a vengeance, I did not ever wish him dead. And what if the Aurors found me here with a dead man and a destroyed prophecy? There would be no salvation. There would be a cell with my name written on it.

His appearance did nothing to sate my alarm. Blood trickled from a wound near his temple and his usually straight hair was plastered wildly across his sallow face, the grease almost acting as glue. There was more blood around his mouth, which made him seem more like a vampire than usual. His robes were torn but hid any other injuries he may have incurred.

Don't panic, I thought, just don't panic. I knelt down and took his wrist. His arms were surprisingly cold, even with the chilly air around us. Thankfully, there was a faint pulse. My relief was short-lived.

The sound of a wailing cat, distant at first, drowned the ticking and flooded the Hall of Prophecies like a tsunami. Horrified, my eyes flitted up and down the long, sweeping hall. There would be nowhere to run or hide here. Eventually, they would find me. I had no choice but to go back into the room with the clocks and escape the Department. I only hoped that the alarm was concentrated on the Department of Mysteries. I had a feeling that the Minister would want nobody knowing that the most secure branch of the Ministry had been breached.

I had no choice but to revive Snape. There was no chance of escape with a body being lugged behind me. Enervate, I thought.

The Potions Master twitched and coughed out more blood. His head turned slowly to face me, hate etched into every line of his face. "You will pay for that," he whispered before breaking out into a fit of bloody coughs. I watched him struggle to get to his feet. Time was ticking.

He flinched as I turned my wand on him. It seemed as though he had lost his own. I cast the only few healing charms I knew, and even those were very temporary. The blood stopped, the bruises lessened and Snape managed to rise to his feet. I summoned his wand. It appeared from the darkness at the far end of the aisle closest to us.

"We need to escape now," I said, shouting over the din of the alarm. "You can try and kill me later." Snape looked as though he wished nothing more than to blast me into a new dimension. But there was something else in his expression. An expression I had never seen him wear in the five years I knew of him: confusion.

There was no time for contemplation. I handed him his wand and ran towards the door I had initially come through. Thankfully, it swung open as I approached. I spared a glance over my shoulder. Snape ran with a slight limp but did a good job hiding the pain.

"Where do the anti-apparition wards end?" I asked quickly.

"The atrium," he said shortly. I cursed loudly. This was a taller order than I had anticipated.

The room with the clocks was deserted.

Snape tapped the walls and murmured something. He placed his ear against the wall and his eyes narrowed. I began to speak but he shut me up with a gesture. It took a great amount of self-control to obey this order.

"They have closed off floors nine, eight and seven," he said coldly. "A fine predicament you have landed us in, Potter."

"Where are the Aurors?" I said, ignoring his self-satisfied look at having insulted me.

"Most probably waiting for us outside," drawled Snape. "If you are lucky, they may not immediately order the Kiss."

Why were they waiting outside? Why not secure the area? Then it hit me. The mind wards were keeping them at bay. "Do the Mind Wards stretch into the room with all the doors?"

Snape stared at me curiously, tracing his mouth with a finger. "No," he said, "there is nothing to hide there." I almost laughed. I had a plan; one which I was sure would not go wrong. There was only one thing I was hoping for.

"What potions do you have on you?" I asked quickly. Snape stared at me expressionlessly. I once again tried to test his Occlumency. There was nothing but never-ending dark tunnels.

"None," he hissed. He very deliberately moved his finger from his mouth back by his side.

"Do you want to end up in Azkaban in the cell next to me?" I said angrily. "They're not going to let you off because Dumbledore sent you. You illegally broke into the Department of Mysteries as well and there's no case that can stop you getting a minimum of ten years as well." Snape appeared mildly surprised by something, as though he had not contemplated Azkaban. Or perhaps something else.

"Hollow words, Potter," he sneered, but it lacked venom.

"I'd hate to be you when Dumbledore finds out you helped send me to Azkaban," I said forcefully, pushing my advantage. "So tell me this: do you have Polyjuice Potion on you or not?" Snape's lips thinned and he bore his eyes into mine. I could feel the familiar twinge of Legilimency. I brought forward memories of Tracey. How we kissed each other. How we touched each other playfully. How we touched each other intimately. Finally, I brought up the memory of her naked body falling onto my bed. In any other instance, I would have laughed at the look on Snape's face and the speed of his withdrawal.

"I have the potion," he said softly, recovering quickly. "Unlike some, I came prepared." His hand disappeared into the depths of the jet black robes he always wore. When it returned, it was clutching two small vials of the sickly-looking potion I recognised as Polyjuice.

With a smile, I tapped my head with my wand and felt the familiar feeling of a freezing cold egg cracking on top of it, the yolk oozing down my body. Snape's lip curled.

"Bravo, Potter," he said sarcastically. "The Ministry would never have thought about warding against basic illusion spells." I grabbed the two vials of potion from his grasp.

"Follow me," I said. "Illusion yourself and keep quiet."

"What are you doing, you fool?" snapped Snape as I made for the far end of the time room.

"We are going to get the leader of the Auror team and one other to come to us," I whispered. Snape looked as though he had sucked on a particularly sour sweet before disillusioning himself.

"This defines insanity and stupidity, Potter. I refuse to allow myself –" I silenced him with my best impression of Riddle. If he had followed Riddle back then, perhaps Snape would follow him now.

"Follow my lead," I said, allowing my voice to drop and grow colder.

I edged towards the door of the Time Room, which stood ajar. I focussed on stopping the sound of my footfall from alerting the Aurors of our presence. I suddenly felt conscious of the heaviness of my breathing. It would surely alert them. Snape was, as expected, silent as a fox.

The circular room was more or less the same as I had left it. The candles continued to burn a cool blue and the floor was still shimmering like black water. I had to be extra careful not to make a sound. The black door directly opposite was slightly ajar. The alarm was not ringing here and I could hear a babble of voices.

"How long until they come out?" The voice was a woman's, rather high pitched and troubled.

"How am I supposed to know? Just keep your vigilance." This one was far more confident, it was undoubtedly a man.

"Why don't we just go in there and corner them?" asked someone else. It was another wizard.

"Why doesn't everyone just walk in and out of there whenever they please?" snapped the first man.

"Then how did they –"

"We'll find that out during the interrogation. Until then keep your eyes open and your mouth shut." I peeked my head around the door. There were five Aurors in total, two blocking the grille to the lift, another two blocking the passage to the right and a tall, broad-chested man with sandy hair and a mean look about him pacing up and down in the centre.

I raised my wand and aimed carefully. It was difficult since he kept moving. I stood, crouched slightly, ready for my moment to pounce. Another inane question was fired at him and I whispered, "Imperio!" He stopped in mid-sentence. I found far less resistance than with the Unspeakable. I wondered why they did not train the Aurors as rigorously as the Unspeakables – magical security was just as important as magical development.

I had never tried to work the Imperius curse without speaking loudly. This was not the ideal situation to learn – on the second ever human I had tried it on. Despite this, I willed him to bring up the idea of checking that the rotating room was safe. It seemed not to work.

"Come to the rotating room," I whispered as loudly as I dared. "Bring one person with you." I closed my eyes and poured more energy into the spell than I had ever attempted previously. Again, it did not work. I felt my face heating up and could practically feel Snape's victorious stare.

"Lamentable, Potter," he said in a harsh whisper. "Watch and learn. Imperio!"

I felt the rush of the spell pass overhead, as if a great bird was diving for a distant prey. The Auror stiffened almost instantly. I felt a little irritated that Snape had managed the curse on his first try but I had not, even when whispering. I buried the feeling and stood very still, watching helplessly as the events unfolded.

"Batten, come with me," said the Auror in command. The other Aurors did not manage to hide their expressions of surprise.

"But sir…" began one of the auors guarding the lift.

"Don't argue, Batten," snapped the Auror coldly. "We will scope out the very next room. The rest of you will wait behind. Follow me, son, and keep your vigilance!" The two men slowly crept straight towards me, their wands out and their eyes narrowed. Snape directed the Auror and therefore his subordinate with some accuracy. Once they were out of sight of the Aurors guarding the exits, I stunned them both in quick succession.

"Get the hair of that one," I murmured while cancelling the disillusion spell. I plucked two sandy strands of hair from the leader and dropped it into one of the vials. I handed the other to Snape, who looked as smug as I imagined he would be.

"There is unique talent required to cast the Imperius Curse," he sneered, taking the vial. "Not all have the necessary…potency to cast it." I sent him a cold stare then downed the sickly yellow potion. Snape followed suit. The familiar but uncomfortable feeling of my features changing was present only for a moment.

Snape shed at least a decade in age and now sported the short black hair of the other Auror. The heavily freckled face was contorted with disgust. He cast a Disillusionment Charm on both Aurors then nodded towards the door.

"Hurry up and leave, Potter," he snarled, but the shaky, nasal voice dissipated all venom.

I hurried through the dimly lit corridor in silence. Snape seemed to have decided that it was best not to speak in order to avoid ridicule. The candles flickered as we passed, casting shimmering shadows onto the dark walls. The Aurors who were left appeared less sure of themselves without my presence. As soon as I stepped into the hallway, they straightened up, their wands by their sides.

"Anything to report, sir?" asked a black, bald man with a deep, slow voice and a single gold hooped earring.

"Nothing," I said in the same tone of voice the Auror had used minutes earlier. "It looks like they might be hatching a plan."

"What should we do about it, sir?" he asked. I used some basic Legilimency to find his name and those of his seniors.

"I am going to take Batten here with me and report to Auror Scrimgeour," I said authoritatively. "You're in charge here in the meantime, Shacklebolt. If anything gets through that door, send stunners at it immediately. Is that clear?"

"Yes, sir," said Shacklebolt.

I strutted to the lift and the Aurors guarding it almost jumped out of the way. The grille opened and admitted me and Snape into the elevator. I felt a growing sense of relief wash over me as we ascended. We made it.

"The Atrium," said the cool female voice as the lift shuddered to a stop.

"Quickly, Potter," snapped Snape. I realised that it was only a matter of time before they discovered the Aurors and came after as. The golden gate was a blur as we passed them.

A red stunner passed over my head. I spared a glance over my shoulder and saw at least a dozen Aurors coming out of various lifts. I winced and constructed a rushed Protego Shield.

"Let's apparate out of here now," I said quickly.

"No, they will trace us within seconds you blithering fool," snarled Snape as we passed the fountain. "We will floo."

Snape veered to the left as I sent as many stunners over my shoulder as I could manage. A bottle green curse arced towards Snape. Thinking quickly, I summoned a nearby torch to block it. As I did so, a powerful rush of wind passed my ear and collided into the wall near a fireplace, sending a shower of mahogany splinters in all directions.

"APPREHEND THEM!" screamed a voice. "APPREHEND THEM, I SAY!"

I sent up another hurried shield as a barrage of spells rained down on us. My lungs felt as though they would burst at any second. I saw Snape standing in the green fire, waiting for me to jump in.

"STOP THEM!"

I sent one last stunner over my shoulder before jumping into the fire.

"Headmaster's Office, Hogwarts."

I took one last glance at the Aurors stampeding towards us, firing spells as they did so before they swirled out of sight.


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