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A/N: To say this is a bit different than what I am used to writing is an understatement. I have many people I'd like to thank, but above everyone else...Scarhead...Jessi_Rose...because of them I am writing this and have the courage to post it. It's also because of them I have this idea. So thank you guys...from the bottom of my heart. It truly means a lot to me. Please...please...let me know what you guys think of this. I hope you enjoy it as much as I'm enjoying writing it.

Chapter 1 – Just the Beginning

Her hand gripped the rail as she continued up the spiraling staircase – knuckles turning whiter as she ascended. With each step she took, the mounting fear began to build inside of her. Aurors were scattered everywhere. Each one cast a weary gaze at her as if she had done something to warrant all of this attention. It had taken time for the owl to reach her in the early morning hours before the sun rose, but didn’t take long after that for her to quickly gather her things and apparate to the scene of the crime. Being who she was usually didn’t have her rising this early or needing to appear this soon at the scene of the crime. Something must have gone wrong for them to call her like this. Something must have…

The sea of Aurors parted for her as she stepped onto the final stair while their eyes remained locked on her. Each made their way to a different part of the area as she moved into the cell doorway. Flashes of light illuminated the dark room as several Aurors were bent over different parts of the scene – dusting and recording. There had been no murder, but the act was just as heinous. She recalled who had been in the cell and grimaced at the thought. She recalled why the prisoner had been there and hated the fact that now the cell was empty. Another flash of light had her blinking twice before realizing what the photographer was taking a picture of.

The death of Sirius Black is on your head. His blood is on your hands.

For Celeste Winthrop, this was just the beginning to her day. She was used to rising with the sun, seeing its majestic beauty slowly creep over the mountains. Her day consisted of going to work and not being bothered in the small confines of her office. She filed paperwork and did her job before returning home for the night and repeating the process over the following day. This morning was different. This morning gave her something new to do, not exciting, but new. Her position within the Auror Division wasn’t anything normal and was usually frowned upon by most of the Aurors that worked in the Ministry. Very rarely did she find someone who understood what she did. Very rarely did she find someone who actually cared. It was uncommon for an Auror to be associated with the Department of Mysteries. It was just uncommon to have someone like her around.

“It’s written in blood.”

Peering over her shoulder, she noticed a man leaning on the doorway to the cell with his arms crossed over his broad chest. His smile was wide and he appeared to be more awake than her. It was relieving to see a familiar face at the scene. His was a face that would understand her reasoning, her logic behind everything that she would see. He would understand how she deducted and why she came to the conclusions she did. After seeing the quote smeared on the wall, she now understood why he had called her to the scene and as early as he did. Time was now of the essence.

He moved forward and stood beside her. Smiling slightly, he indicated to the wall with a simple gesture of his finger. “We’re not sure if it’s her blood yet or someone else’s. We’re thinking it’s hers. Some of the others are thinking it’s the blood of the one who helped her get out. I’m waiting for your take on it.”

Celeste took a step forward, although not wanting to leave her partner’s side. Mathias York was not a man who just stood idly by while the world went on by. With any case he was assigned, he gave his full attention and utter dedication to. For Mathias to be assigned to any case, Celeste knew that something else was going on – more than anyone else knew. It wasn’t just the writing on the wall. It was what the writing meant that brought them together.

Her fingers lightly touched the blood and she watched as the tips became coated with the red substance that had turned cold from time. Each letter was spaced evenly and the size of each letter was equal. She had taken time to write it. If it had been her blood, she didn’t care about how she got it. If it was someone else’s, it was just another tally on her list of casualties. Celeste feared that if she did have an accomplice, they were no longer alive. She would never allow someone who knew too much to remain alive. It was too much of a risk for someone to go blabbing their mouth around in order for her to get caught. Celeste knew that with her there were no chances taken.

Mathias stepped along side of her and let his hand slide into the one that dangled by her side. It was almost second nature now and something she hardly noticed. But feeling the warmth of his body radiate through her made her head clear just the slightest bit. It wasn’t the blood of the person who set her free that was used to leave the message on the wall. No. For this to make a statement, it was her blood that was used to write what she needed on the rock’s sharp surface. Everything had to make a point. Everything had to make sense. It was another piece of the puzzle. It was just another piece of something that would etch her legacy in the pages of history.

“It’s hers,” Celeste finally spoke as she squeezed Mathias’s hand gently. Their relationship was secret. Anything that they did had to be kept in the dark. “Her accomplice might be dead somewhere, but this is her blood. She wouldn’t want it any other way, Mathias. And it’s fresh.” She rubbed the tips of her fingers together, feeling the blood squish between them. “How long have you been here?”

“Only an hour,” Mathias commented. “I noticed that too. She’s only been gone for a few hours but that doesn’t mean anything. Celeste, she could be anywhere by now. There’s no way of tracking her or even to know what sort of magical items she has with her. Does she have a wand? What is she doing? And why the hell does she want to kill Sirius Black?”

That was the question of the day. Sirius Black. She could recall the name but couldn’t remember how or why she had heard it. Stumbling a bit, she leaned into Mathias as if being hit by a tidal wave. A sudden feeling of déjà vu washed over her. Her eyes closed while she grasped Mathias’s hand tightly, trying to keep herself balanced and upright. She could hear him asking if she was alright, but there was no way of answering him. The feeling that threatened to consume her she couldn’t shake. Sweat was pooling on her forehead and was soaking through the thin shirt she wore. Her body had grown cold. Even the warmth from Mathias’s body didn’t help shake the fear that suddenly filled her. What was going on? What happened? Nothing had ever been like this with her. She had never had anything fill her with such fear.

“Celeste, talk to me. What’s wrong?” Mathias’s voice was pleading and caring at the same time. He needed to know what was going on, but couldn’t seem to get it out of her. “Say something…anything.”

Her head slowly tilted up, while her eyes began to open. They were unfocused and glazed over, as if not even staring at him at all. “In time there is life. In time there is death. She told me that once.” Finally focusing on Mathias, she let the grim fate of reality embrace her. “What I always feared about her might come true.”

“What are you talking about?! You’re speaking in riddles, Celeste. What’s going on?!”

Celeste slowly let go of his hand and approached the wall once again. Her head tilted to the side the slightest bit as she took in the words once again. The death of Sirius Black is on your head. His blood is on your hands. It was symbolic…the blood. Now her blood was on Celeste’s hands. This was just the beginning. There would be no end to this. If what she was assuming was correct, time was the key to everything as it always seemed it was. She didn’t have much time left in order to figure out what to do next. There was no time for planning a strategic move. They needed to act on this and act on it quickly.


Mathias peered over his shoulder to see a very young Auror standing in the doorway – a newbie. Sighing, he gestured the boy inside with the wave of his hand. His other remained at the small of Celete’s back. “What is it?”

“Sir, Head Auror Potter wishes to see you and Auror Winthrop in his office immediately.” He swallowed hard as Mathias glared at him. “It was just my orders, sir. I was to give you the message straight away.”

Shooing the newbie away, Mathias sighed and turned to the slouched figure of Celeste. “Potter wants to see us, Celeste. We have to go.”

“Time…we don’t have time,” she muttered under her breath. Her gaze finally met his as he moved along side of her again. “She will kill Sirius Black, Mathias. It’s only a matter of time.”

His rough hand slowly began to caress her lower back beneath her shirt. It usually eased her stress, but he didn’t see any relief in her eyes. “We’ll find her, Celeste. You caught her once, you’ll catch her again. Let’s go talk to Potter. Let’s see what he says.”

Quickly turning to him, Celeste gently pressed her hands against Mathias’s broad chest. She needed to feel him, feel the beating of his heart. The fear that quelled inside of her was beginning to rise again. Something didn’t feel right about any of this. It was as if she had done this before. There was no way to be rid of the feeling. She wanted to know that something concrete, something that had always been there for her, still was. For three years they had kept their relationship secret. Three years and still they were no closer to being together than they had been in the beginning. The beating of his heart was still in time with hers. It was a relief to know that she still had that to rely on – that with time ever changing, it was still there to guide her. Her skills might have been faltering, her mind slowly slipping, but at least she still had his heart to bring her back from the brink of madness.

“We need to find out who Sirius Black is,” she said, letting her fingers lightly rub over his chest. His shiver only proved that her touch always meant something to him. “I need to know who he is and why she needs to do this. If I don’t understand that, we’ll get nowhere.”

“I honestly don’t know who he is. I do know of a way to find out. Let’s do that after we see Potter. He’ll be extremely pissed if we don’t get there soon. You know how he likes to be on top of things. He needs to know exactly what’s going on with the ‘how’s and ‘why’s answered to perfection.” He gently kissed Celeste’s forehead before slowly pulling back from her embrace. “He’s going to want to know about this one. There hasn’t been a break out from Azkaban since before the War.”

Celeste merely nodded, understanding the urgent need to know as much about this case as possible. It wasn’t just the writing on the wall. There was more to it than that. Mathias was right. There hadn’t been a break out from Azkaban in years. She was now sure there was an accomplice in play somewhere. Somehow they had broken into Azkaban. The only way to do that now was if they had clearance. Only Ministry members were allowed access to Azkaban – which meant an inside job. But who, within the Ministry, would want her free and why? There was no explanation for it. There was no reasoning behind it.

“Come on, let’s go so we can get this done and over with.” He leaned in and whispered, “I want to get you home…in bed.”

She shook her head and shoved him playfully away, swaying her hips as she began to walk out of the cell. There was always a way to turn around her mood – to sate her fears for a time. “Move it, Mathias. Wouldn’t want to keep the boss waiting.”

Every Auror within her sight kept their eyes locked on her as she walked by them. While they might have looked at her with a wary eye for her theories and conclusions, her body begged a different light. It was one of the assets that had brought Mathias to her. He was also curious about how her mind worked – which she never questioned. He always said that it was her mind that kept him with her. She knew it was they way they were together that kept them as they were. Her body had been her greatest weapon to draw Mathias in. She wanted to keep him that way, so she would do anything to make sure that happened.

Which is what she’s doing. She’s doing anything to make sure her cat and mouse game continues to play – as she always promised.

“Not even six hours into this, and the story is already on the front of the Daily Prophet!”

Celeste jumped as the rolled newspaper was slammed down onto the desk. It slowly unfolded, revealing the front page and the headline. Mathias stood there, stoic, as he peered at the man standing behind the desk. Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, was now the Boy-Who-Saved. His legacy was unmatched and unparalleled. The wire-rimmed glasses he always wore were now perched at the end of his nose and didn’t hide the jade-colored eyes that were legendary. She could see the anger in his infamous eyes. It wasn’t towards them. They would just receive the brunt of it until he found somewhere else to direct it. His Auror department had become the top in the Wizarding World. Nowhere else were there as many solved cases as there were in Hogsmeade. Harry Potter had become the top of the food chain. He had a new legacy, a new page in history. He had revolutionized the Auror department and half of the Ministry along with it. It had become a new era and Harry had led the charge.

Sighing, Harry sat back down and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “Tell me what you know.”

“No one within Azkaban has reported a break-in,” Mathias began to state. His posture didn’t change and looked as though he was a soldier in the army – back straight and arms at his sides. “Which has led us to conclude that it was an inside job. There was no other way for her to escape as she did. There was no forced entry into her cell. They either used the key or a wand, and since no magic had been detected by anyone, it is led to believe that it was a key.”

He nodded, accepting the answer even though he had no choice. “To use magic within Azkaban would have sounded the alarm. I made sure of that myself. Someone would have had to have known that. They had access and knowledge of Azkaban. I don’t like the looks of this, Mathias.”

“Neither do I, sir. Seeing the conclusions based on just the preliminary facts, it seems as though there is a traitor within the Ministry.” His head hung for a moment before meeting Harry’s gaze once again. “It will be hard to pin point who it is exactly until we apprehend her. Unfortunately, given her record, it is unlikely that the Ministry member is still alive.”

Pulling out a file from a drawer in his desk, Harry placed the several inches think folder in front of him. “Natalia Vaslev. It has been years since this name has been muttered within the Auror department. We do have you to thank for that, Celeste.”

Celeste smiled briefly before nodding. “I’m not the one to thank, sir. There were many that contributed to her capture. Many were lost. I still mourn them.”

“As do we all,” Harry concluded. “But it was through their loss and your skill that we captured her. Her life sentence was because of your testimony. I know the threats you received after the trial. You braved many trials and tribulations because of her. Are you sure that you’re ready to brave the storm once again?”

Was she ready? She had gone through hell and had come back from the edge of it because of Natalia Vaslev. She still bore the scars of the now infamous duel that the Daily Prophet talked about for weeks. Long, red streaks marked her back. She could still hear ‘crucio’ being muttered and feel the pain that seared through her body. There was no doubt in her mind that she would have been dead in a matter of moments – the cold realization of death still hanging over her head. But somehow, someway, through the darkness, she found the strength to disarm Natalia and bring her to justice. It had been the only relief that she had found in those few moments and for the months to come. Days she had laid in St. Mungo’s. It had been even longer before she was placed back on active duty. Although she was only a Keeper of Time, her job meant everything to her. She needed the action. She needed to know she was doing something right. And after hearing that Natalia would be spending the rest of her life in Azkaban, Celeste knew then that she had done what she had set out to do. She had given the many lives Natalia had taken a way to rest in peace.

“Yes, sir,” Celeste said, holding her head up high. She spoke with certainty in her voice. “I am more than ready to brave the storm. She has already named her first victim. I will make sure that she will never complete that goal. I will make sure, sir, that Sirius Black is saved.”

Harry looked at her quizzically. “Sirius Black?” He sat there and pondered the name for a moment. “Who is Sirius Black?”

Celeste was silent for a beat as the tendrils of fear from earlier ran through her once again. Her blood ran cold through her veins. It was as if something was wrong. Time had never been her enemy and yet it was now. What was going on? She had understood time more than anyone else. It had been why she was appointed the position she had been. But it had been the name…Sirius Black…that had been initiating the feelings inside of her. What was it about this man that was making her feel like this? Something was terribly wrong. She had a feeling Natalia was already weaving her dark ways around what she needed to. The noose was tightening around her. Celeste knew that whatever was going on, there was little time to spare.

“That is exactly what we’re trying to find out, sir,” Mathis said, interrupting Celeste’s thoughts. “Apparently whoever he is, he’s someone that Natalia wants revenge on. We’re not sure why or how, but Celeste fears that something else is going on as well.”

Harry glanced up at Celeste curiously. “You feel something else is going on?”

Swallowing hard, she nodded. “Yes, sir. There appears to be something else entirely going on. I fear that the death of Sirius Black is just the beginning. If my assumptions are correct about Natalia, I know she is up to more than just that. There were always two parts to her plans – the main plan and then the sub-plan. Each was as devastating as the other. The death of Sirius Black is more than likely the main plan. Once I can figure out what the other part is, I will be able to stop her.”

“My suggestion is you figure it out and quickly,” Harry said, leaning forward on the desk. “Knowing Natalia as we do, there isn’t much time. She acts immediately and with deadly costs. I truly fear what she will do to this Sirius Black character. I am giving you any and all resources to solve this case. Mathias, you will take Celeste with you. She is your greatest asset in order to solve whatever needs to be solved. I will clear it with the Department of Mysteries. Take her for as long as you need.”

Mathias smiled, glancing sideways at her smiling figure. “Yes, sir. I believe she will be a great help to this case.”

Slowly standing, Harry gazed over at Celeste. “I fear for you, Celeste.”

“Fear for me?” she questioned. “Why?”

“For you this is just the beginning of what you thought was already the end.” He put away the file and focused his attention on Celeste. “You had already put this case to bed and now it is wide open once again. Do not let her get to you. She has a way of getting under people’s skin, a way of weaving her way into your life without anyone suspecting it. She is sly…cunning. She is a snake, Celeste. Let time be your friend. After all…you know how to manipulate it.”

Celeste grinned. “Yes, sir, I do.”

“Use it wisely. Solve this case and quickly. The faster we have her behind bars the better.” Harry sat down and began to scribble on a piece of parchment. Speaking, he didn’t look up. “You’re dismissed.”

As Mathias and Celeste began to leave, Mathias quickly grabbed her hand. She smiled at him, knowing he needed to feel her. But she wouldn’t let him know that the fear still sat within her. Time…yes, she knew how to manipulate it. But what Harry didn’t know was that Natalia did as well. They were truly equals in that sense. Their skills paralleled one another. It was why both suffered during their duel that dark night. It was why, now, that Celeste feared that this would be the end…for the both of them.

The brass key dangled from a thin cord that wrapped around her thin finger. She had time, after she escaped, to tidy herself up before even making her way toward where she needed to. She felt normal and no longer felt the dust and grime of Azkaban. Her even steps brought her slowly to her destination. The clicking of her heels off of the tiled floor echoed throughout the empty lobby. Most of the Ministry was asleep during the late hour – snoring in their snug little beds. She had made sure to time her entry into one of the most secure buildings precisely. With the key hanging from her finger, she had access to what she needed to. She had access to a room that no one cared to enter.

Natalia Vaslev stood in the doorway to the Room of Time. Only the select few would work within the confined space. She brushed back the black strands of hair from her face and let her jade-colored eyes survey the room. It had been a long time since she had been here. It had been even longer since she could use half of the magical items within the room. She knew what was required in order to survive. Her time was slowly running out.

Continuing down the aisle, she stopped before a wooden door and opened it. The small office could hardly contain a group of people within its walls, but its purpose was served every day. She could remember sitting inside, thinking of ways to manipulate the folds of time. Her office at home was filled with journals with theories and facts that would allow her to do what needed to be done. She already knew what the future held. She knew that this time, this time things would be set right. If her calculations served her correctly, the ripples in time were already serving to her benefit. Her old arch nemesis was failing. If she continued on her projected route, the time that existed now would be no longer. Natalia would be where she needed to be – safe and away from the hell she had been in. If her theories were true, she would be as she needed to be.

Moving toward the rock wall on the left side of the room, she ran her hand over the rough and jagged surface. It was a mask, as almost everything was within the Department of Mysteries. Plucking a wand from her back pocket, she waved it over the wall and watched as it shimmered away. A small, black safe with gold etchings sat in the wall surrounded by more rock. Sitting in the middle of the door was a keyhole. Placing the brass key into the lock, she listened to it click as she turned it. Natalia smiled and slowly opened the door. There wasn’t much inside – papers and a few other trinkets. It was the black case with silver clasp that caught her attention.

Natalia pulled out the box and slowly undid the silver clasp. Her eyes widened as a smile spread across her face. Things were going exactly according to plan. Everything that she had envisioned, everything she had planned, was now set in stone. The death of Sirius Black was real. She would murder him in a few hours time. Soon the world would fall to its knees. Her name would be resounded throughout history. She would be known as the Murderess of Sirius Black. Smiling, she knew she rather liked the sound of that. She would never be caught. The sands of time would keep her from being caught. With every turn, with every twist, she would be closer to her fate.

The brass key was no longer of value to her. As she pulled out what she needed from the small black case, her grin spread. A time turner. The Ministry kept a close eye on the few that remained in existence. A very limited number of people could wield it as they needed to. Many would cause too much of a disruption. Natalia knew that she was supposed to cause destruction. The fabrics of time would be destroyed because of what she needed to do. The future would be rewritten as the past was. Her destiny would no longer be the dark fate it had been set out to be.

She let the time turner dangle around her neck. Her thin fingers gently grasped it, letting her gaze upon its intricate details. With a few simple turns she would be where she needed to be. Soon, in a matter of moments, everything that she knew…everything that she was…would be different. This was what was supposed to be. This was what was destined. Time knew no bounds, but she would make it become limited. Celeste would never find her, never understand what she was truly about to do. Twisting the time turner, she closed her eyes and smiled wider than she ever had before.

Natalia Vaslev was going back…to murder Sirius Black.

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