Chapter 7: The Flood, The Fear, and the Fire

“There is a room in the Department of Mysteries that is kept locked at all times. It contains a force that is at once more wonderful and more terrible than death, than human intelligence, than the forces of nature. It is also, perhaps, the most mysterious of the many subjects for study that reside there.”
-Albus Dumbledore

“So, what exactly is in the Department of Mysteries?” Elle asked, as her and Harry slowly made their descent in the elevator. “And why are we looking there first, of all places?”

Harry sighed. “Well, the Ministry is pretty big. I figure it’s best we start from the ground up…”

“At least we can rule out the Safe Room…and the courtrooms…” Elle interrupted, twirling her hair mindlessly. She caught Harry’s exasperated glance and winced. “Sorry. Continue.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “As I was saying, before I was so RUDELY interrupted…we can start there, and then make our way through the Atrium and all the other floors. We’ll end with the Minister of Magic’s office, but I’m pretty sure we’ll find her before then. She can’t apparate out of here, and she can’t hide forever…”

“Besides,” Elle said, sighing gloomily. “The night is almost over. Soon people will be reporting for work, and when they find out a mass murderer is loose in the Ministry, all hell’s gonna break…” She caught the look on Harry’s face once more and fell silent. “Sorry.”

“ANYWAY,” Harry grumbled, tapping his foot. He really wished this elevator would move faster. “There’s a lot of weird stuff in the Department of Mysteries. There’s this odd wall full of timeturners…you might want to stay away from that, knowing you, you’d stumble into it…there’s also a tank full of brains that will strangle you if you touch them, you might want to stay away from those as well…in fact, why don’t you just wait for me outside and I’ll go in alone?”

“Not a chance,” Elle glared, gripping her wand tightly. “I’m coming.”

“I can’t believe you’ve never been to the Department of Mysteries before,” Harry said.

“Why would I go down there? I never had a reason to, and it’s not like they just allow anyone inside, only the Unspeakables…you’re the only person I know who’s ever explored that place,” Elle explained. "Well, you, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville, and Luna."

“I know,” Harry said quietly. “I just figured since you’re so nosy, you wouldn’t let a simple rule like that stop you.”

Elle grinned. “I guess me and you don’t pay much attention to rules.”

Harry nodded. “One of the few things we have in common.”

The elevator finally came to a halt. Harry and Elle both quietly lit their wands and stepped out into the dark corridor. All was quiet. Elle breathed a sigh of relief.

“I don’t know what’s worse,” she whispered to Harry as they made their way past the empty courtrooms, including the one they had ruined. “Being greeted by Bellatrix, or being greeted by silence.”

“Silence, definitely,” Harry whispered back. “Come on, it’s this way…”

As they crept through the plain corridor and approached the black door, Harry couldn’t help feeling overcome with dread. He hadn’t visited this place since his fifth year at Hogwarts, but he couldn’t quite forget the painful events that had occurred here. Luckily, he had been able to avoid it during his years employed at the Ministry. Until now.

They stopped in front of the door and stood for a beat, staring up at it. Elle took a deep breath.

“Ready?” she asked, with forced confidence. She saw the look on Harry’s face and gave his hand an involuntary squeeze. Harry looked down at his hand in a sort of dazed confusion.

“Hey,” Elle said softly. “It’s going to be okay.”

“Elle,” Harry said slowly, staring into her eyes. “This is where…”

“Where your godfather died,” she finished, and this time, Harry did not mind the interruption. “I know. Let’s not let it be the place where Calla dies too.”

This sentence seemed to renew Harry’s resolve. Elle let go of his hand, and with a forceful shove, the black door swung open.

Slowly, they entered the large circular room surrounded by doors- the black marble floor beneath them made Harry feel as though he were standing over a dark, placid lake. Torches with blue flames burned eerily around them. It was exactly as Harry remembered.

“Shut the door,” Harry murmured to Elle quietly. “And don’t freak out.”

“Why would I…oh!” Elle gasped, as the wall immediately started to spin. She grasped Harry’s shoulder in panic, and then immediately let go as she realized what she had done.

After a moment or two, the wall stopped revolving, and Harry gazed steadfastly at the two doors standing directly across from them. Elle narrowed her eyes.

“Well, that was sufficiently creepy,” she whispered bitterly. “Now we’ll never be able to find our way out.”

“Not really my concern right now,” Harry said slowly. “Although I think I know how it worls. Let’s just pick a door.”

They both moved forward, stopping in front of the door that was slightly to their left. Harry looked back at Elle, and she nodded. Harry sighed, and pushed the door ajar.

Harry did not really know what he had been expecting, but he certainly did not expect to see yet another empty corridor. This time, torches flickered ruby red against the stone walls, and Harry had to close his eyes- the contrast between all these blazing primary colors was giving him a headache.

“Where to now?” Elle asked, her forehead creasing.

Harry shrugged. “Don’t know. I’ve never been in this room before. Let’s just move forward, I guess.”

As they advanced through the doorless hallway, the walls seemed to widen, and soon Harry could see tables lined up against them, holding cast-iron cauldrons that bubbled and hissed. Breathing in deep, Harry could smell the sweet scent that seemed to emanate from their depths- it smelled like flowers, cotton candy, and what he imagined the sun would smell like if he could see it up close- and with a jolt, Harry realized that the potion brewing inside the cauldrons was none other than Amortentia…the love potion. He could just make out the swirling spirals rising before him throughout the hazy hallway.

Harry glanced at Elle, whose eyes were closed and who appeared to be breathing in deep. He would dearly like to know what scents she smelled right now.

They kept going, and began to encounter strange sights and sounds, in addition to the smells. First, they were greeted by a flock of white doves fluttering softly above their heads, followed calmly by a swarm of fireflies that softly grazed their arms and cheeks as they flurried past. Music, most likely harps and violins, sounded out eerily from the walls, as though the very stones themselves were composing private symphonies just for them. Harry turned to Elle, and she gazed back at him sleepily.

“I like this place,” she said calmly, as if she were in a state of utter peace. Harry too was starting to feel slightly copasetic, but he knew there had to be a catch.

“Stay alert,” he warned, holding his wand tighter. “We don’t know what’s waiting at the end of this hallway.”

“But Harry, you have to admit,” Elle whispered, gazing fondly at the lingering fireflies. “It could’ve been worse. We could’ve picked the room with the brains.”

Harry frowned. He thought he had seen most of the what the Department of Mysteries had to offer back in his fifth year…he had seen the Hall of Prophecy, the rooms where they studied thoughts, time, and space, and most importantly of all, the room where they studied death. But of course, there was one room he had yet to discover…

“Dumbledore mentioned this place to me once,” Harry confided to Elle, as she looked at him curiously. “He said there was a room within the Department of Mysteries that was kept locked at all times, where they studied something powerful and mysterious…”

Elle nodded. “Of course. This makes sense, then.”

Harry raised his eyebrows. “It does? What could be more powerful and mysterious than death, or time, or space?”

Elle smiled sagely. “What else? Love.”

They had finally reached the end of the hallway, and sure enough, they were faced with another plain black door. Harry fully expected this to be the locked door that Dumbledore had referred to, but Elle easily pushed it open with a slight nudge of her hand.

Harry anticipated more lovely-dovey stuff, like confetti or cupids, but his expectations conflicted with reality once more. This next room was bare, with stone floors and walls, and two or three ruby-red torches. A few desks with various potions and vials stood near the walls. The door closed behind Elle, and they were bathed in semi-darkness. At once, Harry’s sedated, happy feeling ended.

“Lumos,” Elle whispered, lighting her wand. Harry did the same, and cast his wand around the room. He saw a figure standing by the door, and jumped.

“Hi Harry! Didn’t expect to see you here.”

Harry narrowed his eyes. He recognized that voice, though he hadn’t heard it in quite awhile.

“Luna?” he asked slowly. “What are you doing here?”

“I work here,” she replied calmly, coming closer to Harry and Elle. In the light, Harry could see that Luna Lovegood hadn’t changed a bit, her long blonde hair shone bright and curly, her skin was pale and alive with curiosity, and a pair of vibrant colored earrings hung from her ears. As she swiveled her head to the side, peering at Harry in silence, he could see that the earrings were composed of tiny jewels.

“I’m an Unspeakable, remember?” she prompted Harry, smiling kindly.

Harry cleared his throat and nodded. “Right. Of course. I knew that. I just didn’t expect to see you here…at this time.”

“Likewise,” Luna grinned. “Though I guess this has something to do with your…ahem…divorce?” She looked at Elle, and even though she wasn’t being rude, Elle looked a little affronted.

“Does EVERYONE in the Ministry know about our divorce?” Elle grumbled to Harry.

“Rumors have a way of spreading fast around here,” Luna explained. “Even those of us who don’t see much of the upstairs world know the gossip.”

Elle rolled her eyes.

“Actually,” Luna continued, staring at the both of them with her wide, searching eyes. “I’m surprised I haven’t seen the two of you down here sooner.”

Elle frowned. “Why?”

“Well, considering what we do down here, we get a lot of couples seeking help with their relationships…people seeking potions to get someone to fall in love with them, potions to make someone fall out of love with them, spells to attract wayward lovers, charms to enchant appearances, curses to get back at those who were unfaithful…potions that will help save a marriage…”

Harry swallowed uneasily. “But how do people know about this place? I didn’t even know about it, and I’m Head Auror!”

Luna hesitated. “Well…it’s not something we advertise, exactly. But when people are desperate enough…they find a way to seek out what they need.”

Elle chewed on her lip. “So…have you ever helped anyone?” Luna gave her a look. Elle glanced down at her feet. “I mean, has anybody ever been able to get one of these potions or spells?”

Luna laughed. “Well, what most people don’t seem to realize is, there’s not a spell or potion in the world that can recreate real, true love. We develop potions, spells, and charms…we study the effects they have on certain people and their loved ones…but nothing is ever meant to last, or to act as a substitute for love in its purest form.” Luna smiled serenely. “Not that it ever stops anyone from trying.”

Harry shook his head. “But I thought this room was supposed to be locked at all times, that it was impossible to get in!”

Luna continued smiling, clearly amused at Harry’s befuddlement. “Difficult,” she corrected. “But not impossible.”

She walked the length of the wall, running her hands along the rough, jagged stone. At once, the wall caved in slightly, revealing a golden entranceway. The entranceway had no adornments, other than a plaque located directly above, which had symbols of waves carved into it. Harry and Elle stared at the entranceway in amazement.

“Behind this wall lies the room where we store the most powerful love potions in existence, potions most of the wizarding world has yet to lay their eyes on. Only myself, and a few other Unspeakables, have been able to enter this room. To get there, you must pass through three obstacles,” Luna told them, more serious than Harry had ever seen her.

“What kind of obstacles?” Harry asked, narrowing his eyes. He didn’t like the sound of this- he had gone through more than enough obstacles tonight already.

Luna’s eyes glittered. “I cannot say,” she said sympathetically. “But you will need more than magic to get past them. You will need faith, fortitude, and forgiveness.”

Harry and Elle shared a look. This whole thing sounded absurd. It was like they had started out their night in the Ministry of Magic and ended up in a rose-colored wonderland, where everything was upside-down and nothing made sense.

“And once we get through these obstacles…we have access to these potions?” Elle asked in disbelief. Luna nodded. Elle glanced at Harry. “But how will that help us fight Bellatrix?”

Harry sighed. “It won’t,” he muttered. “I’m sorry Luna, but I think we’ll take a rain check on this whole ‘test of our inner strength’ thing. Bellatrix Lestrange is loose in the Ministry, and she’s after us and our daughter. No offense, I’m sure you’ve been working very hard down here, but I don’t think a fake love potion is going to help.”

Luna laughed. “That’s too bad,” she said, shrugging. “You underestimate the power we contain behind these walls. It may not restore or recreate real love, but it is powerful enough to defeat Bellatrix Lestrange. There is one potion so powerful, that just the thought of a loved one...or a lost loved one...can cause death.”

Harry and Elle stared at her in silence. Harry’s mind was racing- was Luna telling the truth? Did she even know about Bellatrix and what she was capable of? She had to, she had been a part of the Order…but could this potion she was talking about really have the power to defeat the crazy ex-Death Eater?

“Listen Luna,” Harry said, glancing hastily at his watch. “I appreciate your help, but we’re kind of pressed for time…even if this potion is powerful enough, we really can’t risk not passing these three obstacles.”

“What happens if you don’t pass them, anyway?” Elle asked Luna.

“Oh,” Luna said, waving her hand mindlessly. “You get trapped inside these walls forever. No big deal.”

Elle raised her eyebrows. “Oh sure,” she said sarcastically. “And how many people have made it past, exactly?”

“Hmm,” Luna said, counting on her fingers. “Two or three…one person was so close, but just couldn’t get past the third obstacle. But then again…” she said, grinning slyly. “None of them were the famous Harry Potter.”

Elle groaned, but Harry was starting to look at the entranceway in thought. If he and Elle could get past the obstacles and get the potion without wasting too much time…then they could defeat Bellatrix once and for all.

“Luna,” Harry said seriously. “You’re sure this potion or whatever is going to defeat Bellatrix, right?”

“Of course,” Luna replied. “It's been suspected for a few years that Bellatrix was always in love with Voldemort, and her quest for revenge proves that. My team and I designed it so that if one of this particular potion is given to an enemy, they die when the name of their loved one is spoken. It only works if used for the proper reasons.”

“And how will we know which potion to use?”

Luna shook her head and smiled. “You’ll know.” She touched Harry lightly on the arm. “Trust me, Harry…I know you want to protect your daughter. I wouldn’t send you on this fool’s errand if I weren’t absolutely sure that it would be worth your while. I, as much as anyone, would like to see Bellatrix Lestrange be destroyed forever. And I know you’ll make it past…your ability to love is strong.”

Elle snorted. Clearly, she disagreed.

“Please Harry,” Elle said fiercely. “Don’t be ridiculous, we don’t have time for this! Calla is out there alone and in danger! We can’t risk being trapped in the Department of Mysteries forever!”

“Come on, Elle,” Harry said. “I’m worried about Calla just as much as you are, but honestly, how bad can these obstacles be? All those things Ron, Hermione, and me have faced over the years…getting to the Sorcerer’s Stone, getting through the Chamber of Secrets, fighting my way through the Triwizard Tournament…all those things you and I faced together, learning how to swordfight, defeating Voldemort, having Calla…honestly, how can this be any worse?”

Elle mulled over this for a moment, and then gave a defeated sigh. “Alright,” she grumbled. She turned towards Luna. “Where do we go first?”

Luna gestured towards the glimmering entranceway. “Right through here,” she gestured. “Oh and one more thing…” She rummaged through the pocket of her robes, and retrieved a single gold key. “Once you get past the obstacles, this key will unlock the door. Do not lose this.”

Harry took the key. “Better let me hold on to this,” he muttered to Elle. Elle gave him one last scathing look before holding out her wand and turning towards the entranceway. Luna gave them a final, cheery wave.

“Good luck,” she said, as Harry and Elle walked slowly out of sight.

“So what exactly do you think we’re up against here?” Elle asked hesitantly, as her and Harry made their way into the unknown. “Ruthless creatures? Zombies? Annoying ex-husbands?”

Harry tossed her an exasperated look. “Why all this trepidation?” he asked. “You used to be one of the most fearless girls I knew.”

Elle sighed. “I’m just so worried about Calla,” she admitted, and her voice shook. “It’s weird, but ever since I became a mother, bravery is always the last thing on my mind…I’m just scared something is going to happen to her and I’m not going to be there to stop it.”

Harry shook his head. “You can’t think like that,” he told Elle. “Calla is smart, and she has enough bravery for the both of us. You should have more confidence in her.”

Elle bit her lip. “Maybe if you were around more often, I wouldn’t have to worry so much.”

Harry swallowed. She had a point.

“I’m going to fix that,” he promised Elle, and he stopped walking in order to gaze steadfastly into her eyes. “I promise.”

Elle gazed cautiously back at him, but then looked quickly behind her.

“Did you hear that?” she whispered.

Harry held his breath. It sounded like water…rushing towards them…

“Run!” he shouted, just as a huge wave barreled around the corner.

Harry and Elle dashed forward, water licking at their heels and roaring at their backs. It was as if they had just been caught at the forefront of a tsunami. Harry ran as fast as he could, glancing back every few seconds to make sure Elle was still behind him. Before he knew it, however, he ran straight into a brick wall.

“Damn it!” he cursed, pounding on the wall. The wave crashed over them, and both he and Elle hit the floor.

Harry was momentarily dazed, and he could hear more water continuing to swirl above their heads. He grabbed Elle’s arm and pulled her upwards. They both reached the surface, gasping for breath and sucking on air.

“What now?” Elle asked in dread, shaking back her wet hair and glancing upwards. “The ceiling isn’t very high, this place is going to flood!”

Harry looked back towards the way they had come, just in time for another wave to crash right into his face. He caught and held tightly on to his glasses. There was no use- their only way out was forward.

Another wave came hurtling towards them, and the water level rose higher. He and Elle were floating, but soon their heads would hit the ceiling. Harry didn’t know how long Elle could hold her breath, but he definitely knew that he couldn’t hold his long enough for them to find an alternative exit. He racked his brain for spells, but couldn’t come up with any that would get rid of all this water.

“Harry look!” Elle shouted, running her hands over the brick wall. “There’s a keyhole- this must be a door! Here, give me the key!”

She snatched the key out of Harry’s hands, but her fingers were slippery, and as she fumbled for the place where she had seen the lock, Harry watched with dread as the key slipped out of her hand and sank beneath the dark, watery depths.

“Great!” Harry shouted in panic. “Look what you did now, you dropped it!”

Elle looked at her hands in panic. “Oh no…Harry it was an accident, I’m sorry, I didn’t…”

The water rose higher. The tips of Harry’s hair were now brushing against the ceiling.

“We’re running out of time!” he yelled.

“Accio key!” Elle shouted, pointing her wand downwards. It didn’t work. Elle looked up at Harry, a dark expression in her eyes.

“I’ll go get it,” she said, taking a deep breath and preparing to plunge.

“Elle no!” Harry cried, grabbing her shoulders and holding her up. “It’s too dark down there, you won’t be able to see,” he said seriously, brushing her dripping hair out of her eyes.

The water kept rising. A few moments more, and they both would drown. Harry tried the Alohamora charm, the blasting jinx, and everything else he could think of, but nothing worked. The wall remained unresponsive to their desperate efforts.

Harry held onto Elle and closed his eyes. He felt terrible…this whole thing had been a mistake after all.

“Harry,” Elle said sadly, fighting to stay afloat and gasping for the little air they had left. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have dropped the key…this is all my fault…”

“No,” Harry said, holding on to her tightly. “You were just trying to help, it was an accident.” He smiled and tilted his head, trying to keep his mouth above water. “Even as a mother, you have more courage than you think.”

Elle gave him a weak smile. “Thanks,” she whispered.

Water kept pressing in on their bodies, forcing them closer together. Harry gripped Elle’s shoulders tightly.

“On the count of three, we hold our breath,” he commanded, and Elle nodded. “One…two…three.”

They both sucked in their breath and went under. For a moment, all was black. And then, miraculously, the brick wall opened up, and all the water in the room poured out. The force of the rushing water pushed them into the next room, and soon it had all disappeared, leaving Harry and Elle shivering and soaking on the hard stone floor.

Elle coughed and gathered her limp hair into a ponytail. “Why,” she gasped, twisting her hair and wringing it out, “does every encounter with you always have to involve me being doused with icy cold water?”

Harry shook his shaggy black hair out of his eyes and stood up. “That truly was a horrifying obstacle,” he joked. “I mean, what’s worse than spending the rest of the night in wet underwear?”

Elle laughed. “Add chafing to our growing list of problems.”

Harry chuckled and held out his hand. “Come on,” he said, helping Elle up off of the floor. “Let’s see what’s next. One down, two to go.”

“Harry wait,” Elle said, scanning the floor in a panic. “The key isn’t here…it must have been washed away…”

“Don’t sweat it,” Harry said carelessly. “It’ll turn up. We’re wasting time by staying here.”

Elle sighed. “For the record,” she muttered, as her and Harry commenced on their journey. “I never want to do this again.”

“Are you sure this is the best hiding place?” Calla asked uneasily, looking around at the various shelves.

The three of them were huddled in a dark and dusty corner in the Hall of Prophecy, surrounded by rows upon rows of glowing glass orbs. Calla thought it was rather creepy, but she supposed it was better than being out in the open, where that scary Bellatrix woman could snatch her away at a moment’s notice. She didn’t entirely trust this Malfoy, but she felt better being with Ginny, who seemed to know what she was doing.

Ginny looked down at Calla and grinned reassuringly. “This place doesn’t hold the best of memories for Bellatrix Lestrange,” she explained grimly. “I can’t guarantee that this is the best place to be, but it will suit our needs for the meantime.” Ginny sighed. “Besides,” she added, “thanks to your father, I know a very good escape route if the need arises.”

Calla nodded and wrapped her arms around herself. “How long do you think we’ll be here?” she asked miserably.

Ginny shrugged. “I’m not sure,” she answered, as lightheartedly as possible, “but if we get hungry, we can always kill and eat Draco.”

Malfoy sneered at the both of them. “Charming,” he said haughtily to Ginny, with a toss of his hair. “Is cannibalism some fancy, foreign technique that your new husband taught you?”

Ginny smiled patiently. “He’s taught me a lot of things.”

Malfoy scowled. Calla bit her lip and stared at the two of them.

“How do you guys know each other?” she asked curiously.

Ginny and Draco shared a look.

“We went to school together,” Ginny said, after a long moment of silence. “And we used to hate each other, but in our last few years at Hogwarts we became, well, sort of like friends.”

Malfoy sighed. “Ginny was the only person who could tolerate me at that point,” he supplied, his voice wandering. “I was kind of lost…my father had died, my friends had deserted me, my entire family supported the Dark Side…everyone at Hogwarts either couldn’t trust me, or couldn’t stand to be around me.”

“Frankly, there were times I couldn’t stand to be around you either,” Ginny said matter-of-factly. “For all of your moodiness and solitude, you still managed to be exceedingly arrogant.”

“And you were the only one tough enough to put up with it,” Malfoy smirked.

“The only one stupid enough, you mean,” Ginny challenged.

Calla looked back and forth between them in confusion. “So what happened?” she asked.

Malfoy’s expression darkened. “That’s a damn good question,” he muttered. “Why don’t you ask the woman who ran off and married a complete stranger?”

Ginny laughed derisively. “Oh please!” she exclaimed. “Why don’t you ask the lazy rascal who ran off to America and slept with a dozen complete strangers?”

Malfoy’s smirk grew wider. “Oh, it was more than a dozen,” he replied rakishly.

Calla shook her head. She had heard more than her fair share of bickering adults, and these two didn’t exactly make the best babysitters.

“Sorry I asked,” she muttered. She sighed again, and buried her head in her hands, though she wasn’t exactly tired. Her nap in the Safe Room and the rude awakening that had accompanied it left her feeling wide-awake.

Ginny smiled softly and wrapped her arm around Calla, ignoring Malfoy for the time being.

“Everything’s going to be okay,” she told Calla softly. “Your parents know what they’re doing, Ron and Hermione and the rest of the Aurors know what they’re doing, and I’m going to make sure Malfoy doesn’t screw things up even more…figuratively speaking.”

Malfoy rolled his eyes. Calla looked up and bit her lip. She shared the same habits as her mother of biting her lips and playing with her hair when she was nervous. 

“I know,” she said. “It’s just…”

Ginny tilted her head. “Just what?”

Calla fiddled with the invisibility cloak she held in her hands, running her fingers gently through the soft fabric.

“I just wish that I were as brave as my parents,” she whispered to Ginny. “And that I could help them more. I mean, I know I’m supposed to be fearless, being the daughter of the ‘famous’ Harry Potter and all that…but most of the time I just feel scared. I worry about everything, I hardly know any spells, I trip over my own two feet all the time…and I feel like when I go to Hogwarts, everyone is going to expect me to be something I’m not. They’re going to think I’m courageous and brilliant, and when they see how much of a freak I really am, they’re all going to laugh at me.”

Calla stopped and took a deep breath. She hadn’t meant to tell Ginny all of this, but everything she had been thinking for the past few weeks had just come spilling out on its own. With Hogwarts coming closer and closer every day, she couldn’t help but grow anxious over how people were going to react to her presence. Everyone knew whom Harry Potter and Elle Levine were…how could she ever compare?

Ginny frowned. “Calla…how could you think that you’re a freak? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard! Have you spoken to your parents about this?”

Calla shrugged. “I’ve told my mum a few times…as for my dad, well…you know how often I see him.” Calla took a deep a breath. “If I don’t get into Gryffindor…if I don’t play Quidditch or do all of the amazing things that he did at Hogwarts…I feel like he’s going to be so disappointed in me.”

Ginny laughed lightly. “Calla, your father could never be disappointed in you, not in a million years! You’re his favorite person in the world, I work with him in the Ministry and I know firsthand just how much he talks about you and adores you…you could do nothing but sit on your bum in the girl’s toilet for a year and he would be ecstatic! Trust me.”

Calla giggled.

“And believe me Calla…coming from a girl who grew up with six older brothers…you are one of the bravest people I’ve ever met. You’re going to be a hit at Hogwarts,” Ginny told her confidently.

Calla grinned. “Thanks Ginny,” she whispered.

“And if you do happen to get sorted into Slytherin…” Malfoy drawled. “That wouldn’t be so terrible.”

Calla grimaced. She hoped they were right. And she hoped that her parents…wherever they were…were concentrating on getting rid of Bellatrix rather than fighting and bickering to death.

The air grew steadily colder as Elle and Harry made their way down the damp corridor, but that could have just been because they were soaking wet from the freaky, indoor typhoon that had almost drowned them. Harry turned his head to look at Elle and saw with a start that her lips were blue, and that her teeth were chattering.

“Here,” he said gently, pointing his wand at her. Hot air billowed out from the tip, and soon Elle’s dress was dry.

Elle looked up at him gratefully. “Thanks,” she said. “That feels better.”

It felt weird, but…Elle was actually kind of glad that Harry was here with her. Usually she would detest the fact that she was stuck in the same room with him for a prolonged period of time, but for once, they weren’t bickering or fighting. Instead, they were actually working together, and helping each other. Elle had to admit, it felt kind of nice. And, not that she wanted to jump to any assumptions, but Elle had a feeling that Harry was enjoying her company as well.

Harry dried his own clothes, just in time for them to come upon their second entranceway of the evening. This one also glittered a golden hue, but carved on top were the images of two skulls, their eyes sunken and hollow. Elle, even though she was now dry, couldn’t help but get goosebumps at the sight of them.

“Uh oh,” she whispered to Harry. “This doesn’t look good. At least water I could deal with, but this…this could be anything.”

Harry sighed. “Well,” he said gamely, “there’s only one way to find out.” He nudged Elle’s shoulder and gave her a reassuring grin. “Come on,” he urged her. “We’re in this together.”

Elle bit her lip and smiled. She has forgotten how nice it felt to hear Harry say those words. She didn’t want to think about how it could be the last time she would ever hear them.

Together, they walked through the entranceway, and almost immediately darkness descended upon them. Before Elle had a chance to panic, Harry lit his wand.

“They’ve really got to work on their special effects,” he muttered. Elle laughed, and lit her wand as well.

“We should have seen something by now,” Elle said quietly, as they continued walking through the inky blackness. “Like a trap…or an ambush…or a…”

All at once, an eerie, cloaked figure came swooping down before them, and the room immediately turned icy.

“…A dementor.”

“Alright,” Harry said, pushing up his sleeves and readying his wand. He tried to ignore the feeling of dread in his stomach, the cold sweat on his forehead, or the distant sounds of screams rushing through his ears. “I’ll deal with him, you go on ahead. Let me know what you find.”

Elle nodded and held her wand out in front of her carefully as she tiptoed cautiously forward. Normally she would hate splitting up, but Harry was a lot better at dealing with dementors than she was.

However, dementors were a lot more preferable to the sight she came upon next. Elle took one look down at the floor, and let out a bloodcurdling scream.

The scream reached Harry, and automatically all the hairs on his body stood on end. Whatever Elle had seen, it had to be pretty bad.

“Expecto Patronum!” Harry shouted, trying his best to conjure up a memory of a newborn Calla being placed in his arms, and a white stag shot out of his wand, charging down the dementor. He ran up behind Elle, and his heart sank as he saw what she was gazing at now.

“No…” he whispered in shock.

There, on the floor, was Calla’s dead body…still and silent and covered in blood. Elle sank down to her knees, wrapping Calla’s body in her arms and rocking back and forth. Tears were running down her face.

“How?” Elle sobbed, looking up at Harry mournfully. “How did this happen?”

Harry shook his head. This didn’t make any sense. How in the world could Calla have found her way in here? He didn’t want to entertain the notion that Calla could be dead just yet…it was too painful…there had to be an explanation…

“Elle,” he said slowly, touching her shoulder. “Move aside, let me see…”

“No!” Elle screamed, clinging to Calla’s body tighter. “No, I’m not leaving her.”

“Elle!” Harry commanded, trying to gather his wits about him. “Think about it, there’s no way Calla or Bellatrix could have managed to get past here, Luna would never have let them in!”

Elle shook her head and continued sobbing. It didn’t seem as if she had even heard him.

With all of his might, Harry forced Elle to her feet and knelt down beside Calla. The second Elle had moved out of the way, Calla’s dead body vanished. In its place was a floating, daunting dementor.

“What?” Elle gasped, her tear-streaked face bathed in shock. “How…”

Harry stood back up. “Of course,” he whispered. “It’s a boggart.”

Elle blinked, a relief washing over her that was so powerful, she felt weak in the knees. “A boggart? Are you sure?”

Harry nodded. “Yes,” he said, his breath coming out icy. He could once again hear screams…screams of his mother, cries from his father, desperate pleas from Elle and his daughter…they all consumed some of his worst memories. “This room is testing our deepest, darkest fears. We have to fight them.”

“Ridikkulus!” they both shouted together, pointing their wands at the faux dementor. The dementor staggered backwards, and quickly disappeared into a wisp of smoke.

Harry turned to Elle, and before he knew it, she had collapsed in his arms.

“I’m sorry,” she said, crying into his shoulder. “That was the scariest moment of my entire life…I really thought she was dead, I didn’t know what to do…”

“I know,” Harry said, holding her close and running his hand through her hair. “I was scared too.”

Elle sniffed. “You must think I’m so stupid,” she muttered into Harry’s shirtsleeve. “All those years of Auror training, where we’re told to keep a cool head and not panic, and what do I do? I completely lose it.”

“Hey,” Harry said lightly, patting her on the back. “Anyone else would have done the same thing. All the training in the world can never prepare us for seeing our loved ones hurt or in danger.”

Elle sighed and broke away from Harry, wiping her eyes bitterly. “You didn’t panic though,” she said, a tad accusingly.

“On the inside I did, trust me,” Harry admitted. “But one of us had to stay calm. And in those moments when I’m the one whose freaking out, you’re the one who has to stay calm. It all balances out.”

Elle nodded and took a couple of slow, deep breaths. Even though she was relieved, she was still worried. She had no idea where in the Ministry Calla was.

“Okay,” she said. “I’m ready for the last obstacle. And then let’s destroy Bellatrix.”

“That’s the spirit!” Harry said encouragingly. “I can’t wait to go back to hating you.”


And so they carried on, this time with a renewed sense of confidence. The worst seemed to be over, and Harry and Elle were both ready to get out of the Department of Mysteries and get their daughter back. Harry kept his eyes focused solely in front of them as they made their way towards the third and final entranceway. He tried not to notice the numerous piles of skeletons that seemed to be piling up, bags of bones that were slumped against the walls. Elle noticed them and shuddered.

“I guess we know what happened to those who didn’t make it through,” she murmured, kicking aside a stray skeleton bone.

Harry gave her a look. “That’s not going to be us,” he swore to Elle. “Trust me.”

Elle sighed. She wanted to trust him, she really did.

The third entranceway loomed dauntingly before them. Harry glanced immediately at the carving located directly above their heads, their only clue as to what lay before them, what sorts of horrors were hidden within the stone walls. This time, instead of waves and skulls, he saw the etchings of flames. He turned to Elle, eyebrows raised.

“This is it,” he said, brushing back his hair. “Ready?”

Elle swallowed, and nodded. “Ready.”

They stepped under the entranceway, and within a few steps, found themselves in a round, enclosed room. There were no windows, and only one door, which glimmered innocently only a few feet away. Harry looked quickly behind him, but the entranceway had already sealed itself. The two of them were locked inside the room.

Elle saw something out of the corner of her eye, and looked down at her feet. Her heart leapt.

“The key!” she exclaimed, bending down and retrieving the key that had been washed away earlier in the flood. She gave it to Harry. “You better hold on to it this time.”

“Thanks,” Harry said. And then- “oh crap.”

Bright orange flames immediately shot up and formed a fiery circle around the room, blocking their path to the door. The flames were high and menacing; they licked the ceiling and flared out at them- the fire seemed angry and alive.

Harry and Elle looked at each other uneasily. Harry didn’t know how in the world to get them out of this, but had a feeling that it would take a lot more than an extinguishing spell.

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