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Chapter 19 ~ Hogwarts Destroyed
On a crisp, sunny, Saturday morning in February, Harry and Rick walked down to the edge of the Forbidden Forest. Ducking behind a large oak, Rick transformed into a majestic Peregrine Falcon, and immediately took flight. It was the first time he’d flown outside the Room of Requirement and he loved it. The feel of the wind enveloping him and lifting him, cushioning him and supporting him was amazing. The sense of freedom was breathtaking. Of course, he’d flown in his dragon form, but flying as a falcon was completely different; it was unbelievably exhilarating. In fact, Rick became so carried away with the excitement of flying, that he forgot all about Harry. When he finally remembered, he looked down to see Harry speeding towards him on his Firebolt. Rick circled for a while, waiting for Harry. When he eventually caught up, Rick came down gently on the end of Harry’s broom. “Wow!” said Harry in admiration. “It’s amazing watching you fly. I can’t wait to fly like that. OK, so the plan was that you’re going to fly a bit ahead of me, and I’ll concentrate on observing you and try to absorb some of the feeling. I’ll tell you what, this isn’t just going to be good Animagus training – it’ll also double as Quidditch practice – having to turn and dive and try to keep up with you on my broom.” The falcon lifted off from Harry’s broom and went into a steep dive. It took all of Harry’s prodigious flying skills to keep up, as it twisted and turned, this way and that. It was easy enough staying up with the falcon when it was gaining altitude or flying level, but there was no way Harry could stay with it in a dive. Rick had decided to keep roughly to the boundary of the Forbidden Forest, as he didn’t want to risk taking Harry beyond the Hogwarts’ Wards. They were far enough away from the castle, that only Harry would be visible. It would look, to an observer in the castle, like Harry was out for an early Saturday morning workout on his broom. Coming out of a particularly steep dive, and levelling out only a few feet from the ground, Rick looked about for Harry. But, there was no sign of him, anywhere. Rick looked all along the edge of the forest as he beat his wings hard, quickly gaining altitude, but still he couldn’t see Harry anywhere. Rick was starting to worry. He was right behind me when I went into that dive. Why would he fly off, rather than follow me? Where can he possibly be? Rick wished he had an Empathetic Magic link with Harry, so he could sense the direction he’d taken. He’d have to take a gamble and choose a likely direction. If this was some hostile abduction attempt, then they would try to take Harry beyond the Ward line. But how could anyone have gotten over the Ward line in the first place? Rick wondered, as he flew quickly out over the Forbidden Forest. What’s that, down there? he asked himself, as he spotted something moving low over the tree tops. Rick dived towards it, gaining speed. As he drew closer he recognised Harry on his Firebolt. It had been hard to spot him, because he was flying so close to the trees. But what on earth does he think he’s up to? Rick wondered, flying straight towards Harry. Rick finally caught up with Harry, and came down on the end of his broom handle. Harry’s face was filled with fear. “Something’s pulling me, Rick. It’s not just the broom, it’s me as well. I’ve got no control at all. One minute I was diving after you, the next, I was being pulled out over the Forbidden Forest, skimming the tree tops. I feel like I’m being pulled by some bloody gigantic magnet. What can we do?” asked Harry, sounding worried and frightened. Rick wondered if he should try transforming into a dragon. Would he be able to stop Harry’s movement if he grabbed him with his claws? Would he harm him if he tried? Rick’s thoughts were interrupted by Harry yelling at him. “Look, Rick! In front of us! What’s that?” Ahead of them was a foreboding black cloud, and they were heading straight into its menacing centre. “Get off the broom, Rick! Quick!” yelled Harry desperately. “That cloud means death, I’m sure of it. I don’t want you to die with me! Please, Rick, let go of my broom! You don’t have to die with me!” There was no time to transform, but Rick was determined not to abandon Harry to whatever fate lay before him. He gripped Harry’s broom tighter as they plunged into the depths of the black cloud. Everything went black for a brief moment, and then they were out of it, still flying above the tree tops. “Why didn’t you let go like I told you?” demanded Harry. He looked about warily, taking in the surroundings. They were still flying over the forest, but it looked different, somehow – greener – and the air seemed warmer. “I don’t know what that cloud was all about, but I still can’t control myself or my broom,” he said. “Hey! What’s happening? I’m turning around! We’re heading back towards Hogwarts. What the hell is going on?” Rick was feeling very apprehensive. He clung tightly to Harry’s broom; he wasn’t going to risk separation again. He too, had noticed that the forest seemed greener and the air warmer, but he couldn’t understand why. As they continued hurtling above the tree tops, Rick was relieved to see the castle on the horizon. But as they drew closer, he noticed that it didn’t look quite right, something was different. He wondered whether it was just his falcon’s eyes perceiving things differently from his human eyes. Harry didn’t appear to have noticed the castle yet. Of course! Even his keen Seeker’s eyes were no match for a falcon’s, Rick realised. Harry finally spotted the castle. “Hey Rick, I can see the lake and Hogwarts, we’re nearly there.” But then he too, noticed that the castle looked different – but what was it? As they drew nearer he realised. “Rick! Look at the castle! It’s all in ruins! It looks like it’s been destroyed!” he cried despairingly. “What could have happened? We’ve only been gone twenty minutes. How could it have been destroyed in that time?” The falcon just shook its head from side to side. Obviously Rick had no idea either. “Rick?” asked Harry. “Do you think maybe that black cloud back there put the Squibbus Curse on us? No, not that ... what I mean,” said Harry uncertainly, “is that maybe it turned us into Muggles. Squibs, like Filch, can see the castle, but Muggles can’t. To them it just looks like a ruin ... exactly the way it looks to me right now. Rick, does it look like a ruin to you too?” The falcon gave a distinct nod. “Then that probably means you’ve turned into a real Peregrine Falcon and you’ll never be able to change back. Voldemort has eliminated both of us! What other explanation can there be?” asked Harry, feeling utterly dejected. “Hey, we’re starting to go down; we seem to be heading for the other side of the lake. The whole place looks deserted.” At first Harry couldn’t see any sign of life. But as they came closer to the ground, Harry noticed a solitary figure by the lake: tall, thin and dressed in a black robe – Voldemort! They came down no more than ten feet away from the evil black-hooded wizard, who was standing, with arms crossed. As he struggled to stay on his feet, Harry looked into that terrible snakelike face – a face he had hoped never to see again. A violent chill passed through his body, but strangely, his scar caused him no pain at all. The scarlet, slit-pupilled eyes were glaring hatefully from that gaunt, white skeletal face. But they weren’t glaring at him. “Dumbledore!” sneered the black-robed magician contemptuously. “So you’re an Animagus. Who would have thought you would be a falcon Animagus. A Dodo would be more appropriate for a senile old fool like you!” said Voldemort derisively, in a high, cold voice. Harry tried to conceal his surprise, at what appeared to be Albus Dumbledore, standing beside him. He knew it was Rick. Obviously he was attempting to disguise himself – and it was a very convincing disguise. Had he not been so overwhelmed with fear and hatred, Harry might have marvelled at Rick’s outstanding Metamorphmagus abilities, of which he had been completely unaware until then. “You weren’t invited to this party, Dumbledore – it was intended only for Harry Potter. However, I’m very happy to have you here. You can die together with Potter – how fitting. But first, I’ll give you the opportunity to admire my handiwork,” said Voldemort, with a wicked laugh, as he gestured towards the ruins of what was once Hogwarts castle. “Avada Kedavra!” yelled Harry, pointing his wand at Voldemort’s chest. A green flash shot from Harry’s wand towards Voldemort. He didn’t attempt to evade it. He just stood there, with his arms still crossed, grinning smugly, as the green light hit his chest, and dissipated. Harry was stunned. He had never used the Killing Curse before, but he was certain he could cast it successfully against Voldemort – his parents’ murderer, whom he hated passionately. “Stupefy!” he yelled at Voldemort, but the spell seemed to have no effect upon him at all. “Ha, ha,” gloated Voldemort. “You are powerless before me Potter – you too, Dumbledore. I may even let you in on the secret of my immortality – before I kill you both. But first, Dumbledore, take a good look at your beloved Hogwarts – and see how I have triumphed over you. Your pitiful life’s work was all for naught – I have obliterated it – completely!” Voldemort’s hideously thin lips curled into a horrid, malevolent grin. “Ah, you look confused; you are wondering how and when this happened, perhaps? It happened over three years ago ... welcome to the year 2000!” “What?” asked Harry, confused. “How can that be?” “The black cloud,” said Voldemort, smugly. “It’s temporal magic which I have only recently perfected; it’s a Time Portal. I cast it back to early 1997. I’ve been waiting for you to get close enough to it, for me to draw you through. It was a one-way portal, by the way, and I removed it as soon as you had passed through it. There is absolutely no way for you to return to your own time. You’re stuck here – although it won’t be for long....” he added, maliciously. “Why would you want to bring Harry into the future?” asked Dumbledore. “You died when I destroyed Hogwarts, Dumbledore, along with all of your professors and students. My Death Eaters had already pulled their children from the school, they knew what was coming. Potter, however, managed to elude me – yet again. I suppose you had an emergency Portkey or something like that to spirit him away. But everyone else died that day, including the great hope of the Light, my other great nemesis – Rick Godfry. “I didn’t know about Godfry until that day. That’s when I realised it was him who had turned so many of my once-valuable Death Eaters into worthless, detestable Squibs. I knew the Ghost of Godric Gryffindor was just a cover, but I didn’t know whose. I suspected it was you, Dumbledore, until Godfry revealed himself that day and I discovered what he was. “Of course I didn’t send any Death Eaters to attack Hogwarts; I knew what would happen to them. I had already lost too many supporters to Godfry’s blasted Squibbus Curse. No, I attacked Hogwarts with Dark Creatures and beasts. I opened up a Spatial Portal, that completely by-passed your Wards,” he said, with a conceited grin. “I sent through my dark hordes to attack you.” “I made the mistake of sending my Dementors in last. By the time they arrived that accursed Godfry had transformed most of my Dark Creatures and beasts into harmless pets. I was watching from the other side of the portal. I was furious. But although he was invisible – pretending to be that blasted ghost – my Dementors could sense him. Godfry managed to hold them off for quite some time with his blasted Patronuses. But he couldn’t destroy them, nor could he transform them. Eventually they got close enough to affect him. That’s when Godfry revealed himself. Then it was all over. My Dementors had a wonderful feast that day – all those souls – including yours, Dumbledore – and Godfry’s,” he added, chuckling evilly. “After that, all resistance crumbled. I have been in complete control of the magical world, since that day. I killed all those who had been foolish enough to oppose me. All the Squibs and Mudbloods were exterminated like the vermin they are. The half-castes were all enslaved, and placed under the Imperius Curse. They’ve been sterilized too, so they’ll soon die out. But first, I’ll use them in my final battle: the destruction of the Muggle world.” “You are mad, Tom,” said Dumbledore. “How dare you!” exploded Voldemort. “Crucio!” he screamed, pointing his wand at Dumbledore. The curse hit Dumbledore’s Reflecting Shield. Voldemort’s reflexes were excellent. He saw his curse returning and quickly threw up a shield to protect himself from it. “Damn you Dumbledore, I knew Godfry had taught Potter to cast that blasted Reflecting Shield of his. It seems that you too, have mastered it,” spat Voldemort, angrily. “Your protection doesn’t appear to work against your own curses,” observed Dumbledore serenely. “No, it does not!” snarled Voldemort. “How do you think I almost died that night when I tried to kill blasted Potter here, when he was a baby? His mother, somehow, put some protection on him that sent my Killing Curse back at me. To this day, I have not been able to discover what it was, or, how she did it. I was already protected by the Cloak of Salazar Slytherin on that fateful night. I’d had the cloak since my fifth year at Hogwarts. I found it in the Chamber of Secrets, where Salazar Slytherin had left it for his heir – Me. But it took me many years to find the spells that would allow me to wear it. It was only weeks before I killed Potter’s parents that I finally succeeded.” “Didn’t you notice, Dumbledore, when we duelled at the Ministry of Magic, that you couldn’t touch me? Your spells all just dissolved! I’m immortal! Or at least I will be, when I finally kill Harry Potter. I’m determined to kill him and lay that blasted Prophecy to rest, before I embark on my greatest battle: the conquest and destruction of the Muggles. I haven’t heard anything at all from that damned Potter since the day I destroyed Hogwarts. My Death Eaters have been searching for him everywhere, but he continues to elude me,” said Voldemort angrily. “He’s been a constant thorn in my side – the final threat to my immortality – I must destroy him. It was because I’ve been unable find him, in the present time, that I decided to abduct him from a time when I could locate him – before the destruction of Hogwarts, when he disappeared. Once I’ve killed this Potter, here, from 1997, the one in the present time will simply cease to exist. My immortality will be guaranteed.” “You are playing with fire, Tom,” warned Dumbledore sternly. “No one knows the consequences of changing the past. You may end up killing yourself – you may simply cease to exist. The whole world might cease to exist. Don’t you realise how immensely dangerous it is to try changing the past?” “Don’t lecture me, like you’re still my professor, you doddery old fool! I’m not interested in all your goody-goody rules and holier-than-thou morality,” snarled Voldemort. “In your time, you are about to die in a few weeks anyway. Potter has done nothing, since he disappeared – but plague my mind. Removing you two from your time and killing you now, will have no effect at all.” “You cannot know that Tom,” responded Dumbledore, shaking his head. “Time is very complicated and subtle. Just one word, one gesture can change the whole of history – you have no idea what you are doing!” “Shut up!” screamed Voldemort. “I am the Lord of this world, everyone fears and obeys me – you are no one here – you are already dead!” “You do not seem to be having much success with killing us, Tom.” said Dumbledore, defiantly. “You two can’t hold those shields for much longer; it must require huge amounts of energy. Once you weaken and drop them, I’ll dispose of you both. It’s quite a bonus for me, Dumbledore – getting to kill you twice,” laughed Voldemort callously. “I’ve waited a long time to finally finish off Potter – I can wait a little longer.” Voldemort made an elaborate movement with his wand, uttering a long incantation. Within a minute he was surrounded by hundreds of Death Eaters who had immediately responded to his summons by Apparating to him at Hogwarts. “Death Eaters,” commanded Voldemort, “encircle these two and keep up a constant barrage of curses and hexes. Don’t use anything too nasty. They are protected by Reflecting Shields, so your curses and hexes will rebound upon you. Try to maintain a Defecting Shield, if you are able to. Keep cursing them until they can no longer hold their shields. Then, it will be my pleasure, to torture them – before finally finishing them off.” As the Death Eaters raised their wands to begin, Dumbledore yelled out “Squibbus!” “What are you playing at, Dumbledore?” barked Voldemort. “Only that blasted Godfry was able perform that spell. I know all about your precious Godfry. I have recently developed great Necromancy powers that allow me to communicate with the spirits of dark wizards. They told me how those busy-bodies, those interfering spirits of the witches and wizards of the Light, gave Godfry all sorts of powers to defeat me. But it didn’t work – as you can see,” he said, gesturing towards the ruins of Hogwarts. “They didn’t give him the power to destroy Dementors – but of course they couldn’t, because there is no power that can destroy Dementors. However, if you keep them well-fed, Dementors are the most obedient of servants ... and I keep my Dementors very well fed – you may be sure.” “Death Eaters!” yelled Voldemort, casting a withering gaze upon his servants. “I ordered you to curse them! Why aren’t you doing it?” “Because they are all Squibs!” said Dumbledore smiling happily. Voldemort observed his Death Eaters’ futile attempts at cursing Dumbledore and Harry and realised it was true. He was absolutely furious. The Death Eaters, suddenly realising they were Squibs and knowing the fate of their kind, turned and ran for their lives. But they needn’t have worried; Voldemort’s attention was otherwise engaged. “You’re not Dumbledore at all!” spat Voldemort as the realisation sank in. “You’re that accursed Godfry!” Rick responded by morphing to his true form. “Pleased to meet you too,” said Rick. Then grinning at Voldemort, he continued. “I think you may have overlooked something, Voldy. You’re so smug and conceited and sure of yourself, so certain of your own infallibility. Arrogant fools like you, who think they can make no mistakes, usually do. In fact, they usually make very stupid mistakes – like you just did.” “What are you talking about, you impertinent brat?” snarled Voldemort, furious at Rick’s insolence. “Well, you seem awfully worried about Harry Potter. You know that he’s out there, somewhere, ready to fulfil his destiny, as foretold in the Prophecy – by killing you. Just one mortal enemy has you totally rattled. You’re so obsessed with your precious immortality that your mind will torment you – you will never have a moment’s peace – while a mortal enemy stalks you.” “Can’t you see what a stupid fool you’ve been, Voldy?” taunted Rick, mockingly. “You only had one mortal enemy – one Harry Potter to fear. But you’ve just brought a second Harry Potter into your world, along with me – Rick Godfry, whose mission, as you know, is to destroy you. You thought you’d disposed of me, three years ago, but now you’ve brought me back to life. You used to have only one powerful mortal enemy to fear in your world – now you have three of us. Harry, pick up your broom, and give me your hand, we’re going to Apparate away from here.” “What? But you can’t!” screamed Voldemort, more in fear than rage. “Oh, but we can, and there’s nothing you can do to stop us – although you’re more than welcome to try a Killing Curse. Stay on your toes, Voldy! Keep looking over your shoulder, because there are three of us out there now. If you have really found out all about me, then you’ll know that my powers are greater, even than yours. Rest assured – we’ll find a way of overcoming your protective cloak – and when we do we’ll come after you. Sooner or later, we’ll get you!” Rick grasped Harry’s hand. In the moment just before they vanished, Rick looked up. High up in the sky, circling overhead was a Golden Eagle. Rick smiled to himself.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
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