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Mrs. Weasley was out of her chair faster than the rest of them still sitting dumbstruck at the far end of the ward, hastening past the distraught young man towards her son’s room. Molly refused to allow the tears behind her eyes to come forward, choosing instead to invest every fiber of her being in getting to George’s side as quickly as she could. She could hear footsteps behind her, followed by voices calling out her name. Hermione, Ron, Ginny, even Harry and Charlie, seemed to be trying to catch her, as if they could stop her getting to her son.

When Molly finally reached the curtains, she threw them back to find Fred seated staring in disbelief at the bed, where George was sitting up comfortably. Molly rushed to the bedside and threw her arms around George’s neck, sobbing uncontrollably. Fred rose, moving to his mother’s side, placing a hand on her back as she cried. Molly reached around and pulled Fred down towards her, enveloping him in the same hug as George. “My b-b-boys… What would I have d-d-done…” Molly stammered, her words coming between choked sobs.

Ron had arrived by this time, followed closely by Hermione and Ginny, after forcing Harry and Charlie to stay in bed under threat of Stunning spells. Ron watched as Fred crumbled under his mother’s arms, allowing her to completely engulf him without a fuss. From under Molly’s other arm however, a mischievous, albeit tired, grin covered the face of George. Ron laughed, feeling better than he had in days. He was able to rejoice in his brother’s healing, managing if only for a moment to forget that his father was still missing in action, somewhere deep within the bowels of the Ministry offices…

***


At the bottom of the staircase, Kingsley found pitch black. The soft glow that normally encompassed the room was absent, the tubes and wires cracked and torn, fallen from their stations along the walls and littering the ground. The small room was silent at first, and his footsteps across the shattered glass seemed like an unwanted intrusion on a scared place. The familiar sounds of his team following closely behind him were absent, creating a void to his ears, one that expanded across the room, engulfing him and everything around him. This eerie silence, the muffle of any sound combined with the overbearing darkness weighed heavily on Kingsley’s over-worked mind, threatening to push him to the brink and well over the edge of sanity.

Quietly Kingsley lit his wand, his voice no more audible than a whisper. He held the wand high above him, scanning the room for signs of life, of magic…of anything. With one uncertainty eliminated, he felt his racing pulse slow, the tattoo his heart been beating against his ribs slowing so he could discern between heartbeats once more. He slowly turned, his wand still extended at full height as to gain the best access to the darkness. As he turned, the wand light moved across a pile of rags, seemingly harmless, piled uselessly on the floor in front of him. Perplexed, Kingsley turned away from the pile, pushing away the creeping feeling that he’d missed something. As the last of the light ebbed away from the rags, it groaned.

Immediately Kingsley brought his wand to attention in defense, as flew around to face the seemingly harmless stack of material. Kingsley moved quickly forward, pushing away the top layer of what he had assumed to be rags, but now seemed to move as one. It immediately dawned upon him—Mundungus’s overcoat. The shapeless old thing had been moved across the body, as if shielding it from some attack. Kinglsey got his answer as to what sort of attack per se there was when the coat had fallen completely away. There Dung lay, caught between unconsciousness and consciousness, bound tightly by ropes from head to toe.

Kingsley gave the man a prod with the end of his wand tip, trying to assess the damage that had been done. This earned another groan as Mundungus retracted his body into a tightly curled huddle on the floor. Kingsley turned away from the man on the floor, initially determining him as injured, but a nonpriority. He turned back to his search of the room, praying this man was not the only one left alive from the battle. When Kingsley heard a loud crash behind him, he flew back from the sound, quickly taking care to extinguish his lighted wand in preparation for a battle. But his fear had no basis; the crash had come from his team finally breaking through the enchanted fog, and catching up with him at the base of the stairs. Kingsley shielded his eyes as the room suddenly burst into light, as dozens of wands cast a spell in unison, recovering the desolate corners of the room from darkness.

Kingsley sighed as he watched his team pour down the stairs and into the room, all with wands at the ready, in case they may be needed. Two of his men, trained as field medics, knelt beside Mundungus’s fallen form. Kingsley turned away, trusting them to do their job. As he turned to retake his search, he tripped over something sprawled across the floor. As he came crashing to the floor, Kingsley reached out his hands to catch himself. Upon impact, Kingsley felt a sticky warm liquid covering his palms. As he held his hands up in front of him, he realized that liquid was indeed fresh blood. Kingsley’s heart flew to his throat as he looked past his hands to find that the cause of his fall was indeed the unmoving pale body of Arthur Weasley.

***


Fleur’s eyes fluttered open as she sprang up in bed, awakened by a loud crashing of the double doors of the ward. She peered around confused, her pulse racing as she tried to remember where she was. Her stomach began to turn unpleasantly as the world spun before her eyes. She reached a hand up slowly for her forehead, holding her eyes closed as she breathed in slowly and deeply, trying to shake off the feeling. She felt supporting hands on her back, as Bill sat up in bed as well.

“Fleur, are you all right? Love, can you hear me?” Bill’s voice sounded far off, fading in and out of Fleur’s mind like the sounds from a seat on a carousel.

She shook her head softly, causing her hair to twist across her shoulders magnificently. When the feeling had finally passed, she moved her hands onto Bills, pulling them off her back and around her once more. She smiled softly at him, trying to alleviate the concern etched across his face. “Of course, Love. Eet ees only that I sat up too quickly…”

Fleur reached her hand up to Bill’s face, her fingers gently caressing his cheek. He returned the smile, although his eyes still betrayed his worry for his wife. Bill moved to stand, leaving Fleur beneath the covers. “ No matter what it was,” he said decidedly, as he caught her hand in his own, “I want you to rest here while I go find out what’s going on, all right, l'un a chéri?”

Fleur smiled happily at his use of her pet name, and settled contently into the pillows once more. “Hurry back, mon doux,” she replied, her fingers extended towards him as he walked towards the end of the long aisle of the ward.

Once Bill disappeared behind the curtains, Fleur turned over, her eyes heavy. She noticed nothing when more healers came pouring into the ward, laden with sheets for another bed to make up that day.

***


Kingsley rushed back along the corridor, pulling along behind him Arthur’s levitating body. His medics, McKay and Peters, had been able to stay the flow of blood at the scene, declaring him critical; however the amount of blood on the floor revealed much of the extent of the man’s wounds. Alongside Kingsley was McKay, who was keeping a close eye upon the temporary bandages he’d applied in the field. The team had been instructed to follow along with Mundungus shortly after, as soon as he was secured and able to be moved safely.

The fog that had once impeded their journey was gone—blasted away by the reconnaissance team that had followed the men to the depths of the Ministry. Their path lay clear ahead of them, and Kingsley determinedly forced on, not giving himself the chance to think about the man he was transporting, or what he had been through. For if he did, for even a moment, consider what could be to come… the pain would be more than he could stand.

***


High above the opening to the Ministry below, Moody waited, watching for a sign that Kingsley was close. The first team for recon had already surfaced, returning once more with a report that Kingsley was not far behind. The signal light should have come by now, something to show that they were close. A light snow had quickly turned into a heavy blizzard, threatening to cover the wreckage, and the small opening that was the only means of escape along with it. The other aurors on the scene had begun lighting small fires with their wands, and summoning blankets and extra cloaks. Someone came up behind Mad-Eye, and even before he turned, he could see Tonks extending a steaming mug of something to him.

“I know, it’s not your hip flask, but this’ll warm you up a bit… You’re just lucky I didn’t spill it on you before it got to your hands.” Tonks’s warm brown eyes held a flicker of laughter as she said this, only to be replaced a moment later by the sadness and strain that everyone had seemed to be feeling lately.


Moody smiled his lopsided smile, and took the cup from Tonks. “I won’t drink, but I’ll bloody hell use it to warm up my hands here. Need to get a new pair of dragon-hide gloves I think…” Mad-Eye let his voice trail off as he followed Tonks’s gaze off to the buildings, away from the opening in the ground.

Immediately, Moody could tell something wasn’t right. He extended one gnarled hand, placing it on Tonks’s small shoulder. She shrugged at him, as if to throw him off of the worried look on her face. “We’ve just heard from Remus you know. He’s on his way back. Something I set Hagrid to do soon as I heard Harry was hurt. Remus is really the only link Harry’s got left to his parents… Should be at the hospital soon enough to check on the lad.”

Tonks’s face lit up, though she quickly hid it from her superior. She knew she was on duty, and this was absolutely no place to let her mind wander. But once she’d composed herself, and she’d turned back to Moody, he was still grinning a crooked grin. The next question out of his mouth even surprised Moody. “Why don’t you head to Mungo’s when they get up here with Arthur? We’ll need Kingsley here most likely, for magical clean-up and control…These really are his men, no matter what the rumors are about me coming back out of retirement…Not too stupid to be tempted into trying that twice.”

Tonks smiled, and reached out a hand to take Moody’s chilled teacup. “Of course, sir. Whatever you say.” As she turned, Tonks upended a large lump of rubble, sending a stack of blankets next to it flying across the ground that was now completely covered in a fluffy white blanket itself. Tonks grinned sheepishly at Moody as she leant down and restacked the blankets quickly, once more hurrying back to the small clump of wizards who had the teakettle.

Moody turned his attentions back to the magical opening, watching for the signal that they were near the exit. Moody caught sight of a flash of blue sparks, and stepped back, realizing it was only the second backup team’s signal. He watched as a group of four wizards appeared in front of him, popping out of the hole not unlike someone coming out of one of those muggle children’s toys… a "slide" was it? Before catching either Moody’s magical or real eye, three of them moved away from him, and towards the blankets and tea. The fourth wizard sighed, stretching a hand over his head and rolling his neck gingerly. He turned to Moody and began to report that the other team was about ten minutes behind his own, and that Arthur had been badly injured and would need immediate transport to Mungo’s if was to survive. Moody nodded quietly, and dismissed the man with instructions to get something warm into him.

As the man walked away from him, Moody studied a spot on a window across the street, planning a course of action in his head, and really not giving mind to anything about the building he was staring so adamantly at. After a few brief moments, Moody let his gaze slip back to the opening in the ground waiting for the red sparks from Kingsley’s wand. But Moody wouldn’t have to wait much longer; it was nearly ten minutes after the second recon team had surfaced when Moody spot the red sparks that Kingsley signalling their arrival. Immediately Moody motioned for the Medi-witch team on site to come forward, and as they began making their way towards the opening in the ground, did Kiingsley’s partner appear from through the hole. Following the lead of the other men nearby, the young man hurried to the teakettle and grabbed a cup, gulping down the warm liquid.

Moody turned back, leaving the man to his other associates. Moody waited with baited breath next to the medi-witches, until finally two men appeared in front of him, one supported by the other completely.

Moody limped quickly forward, placing an arm beneath Arthur’s shoulder opposite Kingsley, helping to lay him on the stretcher for the medi-witches. Tonks too came forward, this time without incident, and she began issuing instructions upon an approving glance form Moody and Kingsley.

“All right, out of the way. We need to get him to Mungo’s quick.” Tonks moved the witches and Arthur’s unconscious body forward, withdrawing a teacup from her pocket. “Grab hold…there, make sure Arthur’s touching a bit too. Let’s get out of here….Portus.”

The small tea cup glowed blue for a moment, before returning to it’s normal white and gold patterning. Suddenly, the group vanished along with the stretcher, to St. Mungo’s. Moody turned to look at Kingsley, who’d wrapped his cloak tightly around his shoulders to combat the cold. “What happened down there, son?” Moody’s voice came in a low growl, as he moved Kinglsey off away from the commotion of the other Aurors.

A/N: Hi there all! So as you can see, the May 29th deadline failed...I actually had real intentions to finish it up that night, but between getting 'kidnapped' by my friends for a birthday dinner and rereading to finish it up...I just found too much more to do!! So get ready for just a couple more chapters...Right now, as of June 18th, I'm planning on two more along with an epilogue-sort of one at the end. Please review, I love getting advice, and I always love to open my page and see more!! And also, I do get a bit sad when I see almost 12000 reads and only 102 reviews! I even appreciate a review if you don't like it! Thanks soo much!

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