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Wow, yes it’s been a long time but I am back and this story is almost over! Sorry this next chapter is short but I hope you like it.

What was feared is suddenly transformed,
The spell is broken, appearance reformed
No more darkness, only light
No need for lamp, courage is sight.

Dawn was approaching as a band of half drunken, grisly wizards stomped and chanted down a deserted narrow road. With the hooked nosed Viktor Krum leading the way, the rest were sure to follow. Though they had little idea of what direction to head, a smaller, usually hidden path emerged amongst the dark trees. An eerie magic drew them toward this unfamiliar lane. Though it could have led to anywhere, the group unconsciously stumbled in the direction that would ultimately lead them to their destination.

The traumatic memories of the days of Voldemort were still fresh in mind. The last thing the wizarding community needed was for another evil to uprise and cause a similar devastation. The handful of eager men would have their revenge and this was the perfect opportunity. Krum had selected the group of able-bodied wizard acquaintances to aid him in this brave quest. It was to his favour that they all admired him as a successful Quidditch player, for it added to their vigour.

Little did they know that Draco Malfoy had no intention of causing misery upon the world, for he was lost in his own. A fitful dream disturbed his sleep. Drenched, the beast awoke to see the embers dying in the hearth. It was close to morning. Limbs trembling ever so slightly, he managed to lift himself out of bed and onto the comfortable chair in front of the fireplace. Without much effort the fire was newly blazing but it danced aggressively, sending unexpected sparks onto the stone floor.

Unfortunately a tiny flicker had attacked his hand and a vague scent of burning hair crept up his nostril, causing his to emit a loud sneeze. The noise echoed through the room unbearably. The beast felt a responding sensation of utter and depressing loneliness. Hopefully the afterlife (if there was one) would be better than this. Perhaps it was like some people said, sunny with large fields, waterfalls and flowers. My god, people idealised that image? He preferred his current situation.

Oh Hermione, won’t you come back to me!

Somewhere in the distance a blackbird cried its morning song and a light rain began.

Back in the village, Hermione hardly waited for the family to wake before rushing off. Her first and only visit was to her home where she scribbled two notes; one for Dumbledore to tell him a brief description of recent events and what may be about to take place and the other was to Harry to ask for his immediate help. As much as she wanted to be on her way, Hermione knew that if indeed Viktor were to lay siege to Draco’s Manor, she would hardly be capable of stopping him. Especially without magic.

The owl departed just as a light rain sounded outside.

In a flash Hermione had conjured a raincoat and wasted no time in commencing her long journey. The sky was lightening but that would make little difference once she reached the perimeter of the forest. In the time it took to reach the outskirts of her cottage, Hermione had braved herself and prepared for what might lie ahead. Her main consolidation was the fact that she had faced many such evils in her lifetime, and this was not the worst of them.

The rain grew heavy as she sent a silent prayer that Harry would receive her letter and come to her aid before it was too late.

At that moment the group of spirited men continued their guttural chant down the blindingly dark road, only this time there was a vague element of apprehension in their voices. Now that reality was dawning, the idea of facing the most terrifying wizard on earth wasn’t quite as appealing as had previously been. But the thought did not slow them down. No, their minds were still quite made up.

Things only started to get shaky when one man, Niles, attempted to charm his coat into being warmer. It was quite a shock when his wand disregarded his incantation. Another attempt proved futile so he questioned his comrades with some bewilderment. Some rolled their eyes, for Niles was well known amongst them for being an asinine chap, but one by one they realised that no magic worked at all. They started to worry.

That’s when a large black building appeared suddenly from the outside the woods, revealing a soft glow of morning light. They stopped dead in their tracks, some making signs to ward off evil. Some, stupidly, retrieve their wands. Viktor cursed at his hesitation and urged the group on.

‘Come men, don’t let zi sight impale your courage. Ve ar’ many against zis one vizard after all.’

They nodded in unison without muttering a word. Together, like a school of fish, they hurried to the gate. A wave of fear soon washed over them as the gate, without a single effort, swung open to let them through. The bravery of the men was now at test.

‘This is too much. I’m off!’ Cried one man, running at an incredible speed in the opposite direction.

Viktor let him go but eyed the rest sternly. Nobody else attempted to escape, but were visibly shaking in their pants. Viktor began a speech of encouragement, preparing them for attack.

In the back of the crowd two men whispered amongst each other.

‘Mate, better we leave too like old Barney. Who’s to know what this Malfoy bloke is capable of,’ One said nervously.

‘No!’ The other replied. ‘D’ya really want to go back in there where ya might get lost? Who knows what creeps around in the dark in that forest. Nah, I say we’re safer with the dark wizard. Remember what Viktor said; only one of him, many of us.’

The first was quick to reply. ‘But nothing attacked us on our way here. I didn’t even here a peep! And who knows how powerful this evil wizard is anyway. Did you here what the Prophet was saying about him round the time He Who Must Not Be Named was killed? They said he was the next one, maybe even more powerful. One of the journalists even suggested he was working right under You Know Who!’

‘First of all, ya can’t trust everything ya hear in the papers. No one’ll ever be as powerful as You Know Who. If this wizard was, he would’a made a move by now. And second of all, nothing attacked us because we were in a group. If ya go back now, you’ll be breakfast for sure. I don’t even want’a think of what could’a happened to Barney by now.’

‘Quiet in zi back!’ Viktor ordered, causing the men to jump in fright. It did however shut them up, and any thought of fleeing had escaped their minds.

‘Ok, so ve can’t use wands. Vhat else does everybody ‘haff?’ Cried Viktor.

‘I’ve got a knife!’ Someone yelled triumphantly.

‘Is zat all?’ Viktor looked exasperated.

‘Wait!’ Someone shouted. ‘Look over there, near that birdbath. There’s a heap of shed tools!’

And so he was correct. Just near one of the walls that surrounded the perimeter was an ancient looking birdbath with weeds crawling all the way around it. But just a few feet away was a stock of tools such as shovels, pitchforks, picks and rakes. It was an omen indicating sure victory. Surely it was no coincidence that these tools had just happened to be there. At least, those were the thoughts of Viktor and his men.

With an eager signal toward his troops, Viktor headed for the main castle entrance. A small push on the door let them straight in. Indeed, everything was going according to plan very easily. Somewhat too easily.

Back in the castle, Bardy and the rest of the elves were preparing themselves for another day of chores. A depressed atmosphere lingered in throughout the halls and was contagious to any in the near vicinity. They mopped and moped, swept and wept, but it didn’t change anything. These were the final days of their habitation at the castle and with their precious master.

A strange cry was heard in the distance that bewildered and frightened a number of elves that heard it. Quick to alert the others, they crept to a window and peered outside. Just visible, and with the aid of their extra perceiving elf eyes, the group of invaders were detected. This gave cause to an uprise of panic. The beast was promptly alerted.

‘Master, strange men have come here and have broken into the grounds! What shall we do?’ One asked in a desperate tone.

Draco was shocked at first but defeat was evident in his expression and he slumped his shoulders forward (even further than they had been previously). ‘Take the rest of you and get away. Don’t worry about me.’

The elf, and certainly the handful that accompanied him, stared with jaws open. ‘But master, you cannot defend yourself against so many men-’

‘And I don’t plan to,’ he cut in. ‘Don’t you see? (He points to the rose at the window table) One petal left. One measly petal! It doesn’t matter what happens to me now, I’m just going to die anyway.’

The elves were horrified by his talk. ‘You can’t mean that we would leave you- our master?’

The beast stood and walked over to his dressing cabinet. Thrusting it open, he grabbed a handful of assortments and threw them at the floor in front of the beady-eyed elves.

‘There, I am no longer your master.’

The near-to-tear elves could not reply because the next second, Bardy was rushing into the room looking stunned but determined. One glance at the scene made he stop for a moment and gape in shock but he quickly composed himself and addressed the elves.

‘Make haste all of you. To the kitchens immediately,’ Bardy ordered.

They quietly made their way out, giving the beast one last sorrowful glance. Bardy made no such piteous departure. Instead he gave the beast a curtly nod and swiftly disappeared.

So they are gone, thought the beast. And now I await the final journey.

-

Hermione sped through the overgrown forest; unaware of time and unconcerned of her own exhaustion. Fortunately, no wolves or other vicious creatures came to attack her but not far from her destination, a man came running with a wild look in his eyes. He had been ecstatic to see her and with reassurance that he was on the right track, he rushed off just as quickly.

Unfortunately, this meant that Viktor was indeed at the castle and must have others with him. By the time she reached the familiar black gate, Hermione was huffing and puffing, clutching her stomach for breath. Stumbling and falling to her knees, she glanced upward to look at the pinkish sky and saw a most awful sight.

The gate was already open and the door to the main entrance had just slammed shut.

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