Disclaimer and Acknowledgements: I don't own the Harry Potter franchise or its characters. The descriptions of Death Eaters attacking and the application of the Disillusionment Charm in this chapter are heavily influenced by content on Pg. 637 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Pg. 54 - 60 and Pg. 781-786 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, American Edition. Some of the information about various spells and their effects was also derived from the Harry Potter Fandom Wiki.

~Previously..."As soon as Williamson stood to shepherd him out of the room, all hell broke loose."~

19 March 1998 - 10:05am- Applicant Testing Room, Ministry of Magic, London

Black shapes emerged out of thin air all around the room; they were wizards wearing hooded cloaks and masks to obscure their faces. One of them yelled, "Take out the Mudbloods first!" as spell fire erupted in every direction, leaving nearly half of the recruits stunned, or worse, within seconds.

Despite a momentary flashback to that horrible day in the Department of Mysteries nearly two years prior, Harry wasn't idle. With reflexes born of quidditch training and more than his fair share of Magical combat experience, he brought forth an impressive shield that deflected several incoming spells back at the attackers as he kicked a nearby table on its side to serve as physical cover. Dragging several applicants who were within reach behind his make-shift shelter, he initiated a powerful chain casting sequence that stunned or disarmed three enemy combatants before targeting the wizard who appeared to be leading the assault with a reducto, scoring a direct hit on his wand arm.

Jumping into the fray, Susan Bones forcefully banished the debris created by her alternating bombarda and defodio charms at the masked figures. At the same time, Daphne Greengrass released a series of fiery confringos, the resulting cries of pain testimony to both her aim and the effectiveness of her strategy. Bolstered by their collective success in driving back the invading force, more aspiring recruits added their magical firepower to the mix. Thus, despite having the element of surprise, the academy applicants' greater numbers and increasingly entrenched positions soon forced the attackers to take their wounded and flee.

As soon as they were gone, Harry cast an overpowered Cave Inimicum on the entrance, aware that it would only buy them a small amount of time. He then conjured his patronus and sent the silvery stag to deliver an urgent message to McGonagall and Dumbledore at Hogwarts. His activities garnered quite a bit of interest from the other occupants of the room, though most quickly focused their attention elsewhere once he turned to face them. Striding purposefully across the space, Harry surveyed the battle damage, naturally slipping into a leadership role. As he went around casting a variation of the impervious charm on furniture in the room so it could be used to shield them if the Death Eaters returned, he directed the others to start doing repairs and to revive and heal their less fortunate colleagues. While several grumbled at being dictated to by a teenager, the ones who had observed his performance during the fight encouraged the naysayers to keep their objections to themselves.

Meanwhile, Susan leaned over Senior Auror Williamson's prone and bloody form, reporting that their test proctor was still alive but badly injured. She looked up at Harry as he knelt beside her and the fallen Auror. "This doesn't look good," she solemnly evaluated. "They probably deemed him the biggest threat and concentrated on taking him out first."

Before Harry could murmur his agreement, Daphne joined the pair. "They were clearly mistaken on that front and paid dearly for their assumption," the dark-haired witch intoned, smirking. "By Merlin and Morgana!" she swore. "Have you been keeping all that under your robes this whole time, My Lord?" She coyly inquired, her eyes raking appraisingly over Harry as she plopped onto the floor beside them. With pink cheeks, he ignored the Slytherin and helped Susan try and staunch Williamson's bleeding. It looked to be a lost cause.

Echoing Harry's thoughts, Susan despaired, "If we don't get him real medical assistance soon, he isn't going to make it."

"Well, we can hardly levitate him through the corridors to the infirmary," Daphne scoffed. "We have no idea what is going on out there."

"You're right," Harry assented. "What if I perform a healing spell?" He raised his wand, thinking Vulnera Sarentur was the only one he knew that might be strong enough for this level of damage.

"No," both Daphne and Susan immediately protested, staying his hand.

He looked expectantly at the two witches. "Unless you actually know what you are doing, My Lord, you are likely to do more harm than good," Daphne clarified.

"Okay," Harry conceded, though he was clearly reluctant to not at least make an attempt. "What if we could portkey him to the infirmary?" he tried again, waiting for their objections.

Susan looked thoughtful. "Given the wards in place there, the Ministry infirmary likely hasn't been compromised."

Daphne concurred, "Even allowing for the fact that they plainly sent junior Death Munchers to dispatch us, I find it highly unlikely that any member of a group who mounted such a pathetic effort would be able to take down those wards. And, even if they could, it would be a high-risk and time-consuming operation for little to no gain. Bottom line, if they are stupid enough to try it, they almost certainly won't have the skill to pull it off," she concluded.

"Will these wards also make it difficult for us to get him there?" Harry probed.

"Yes," Daphne answered, discouraged, at the same time that Susan reached under her robes and pulled out a gold medallion necklace.

"Not if we use this!" she informed them triumphantly. At their questioning looks she explained, "It is from my Aunt Amelia, and it will allow whomever is wearing it to portkey through Ministry wards like the ones surrounding her office or the infirmary."

Daphne looked appalled at the security implications, "Does it work on all the Ministry's wards?"

"I don't know," Susan replied uncertainly, "but I know it will work for the infirmary."

"That's good enough for me," acknowledged Daphne. "Now let's do this before this poor sod bleeds out on us."

"Daphne!" Susan admonished, while Harry tried to stifle a laugh.

"Please," Daphne sniffed disdainfully, "He is supposed to be a 'Senior' Auror, and he lasted all of 10 seconds in that skirmish. My baby sister Astoria can out-draw this wanker."

At this pronouncement from the protocol-conscious pure-blood, Harry could no longer contain his amusement, despite their dire situation. It was therapeutic, however, as both witches joined him and the tension of the morning seemed less oppressive with their laughter.

All business once more, Harry stood to find a suitable item to serve as a portkey. Immediately fifteen pairs of eyes swiveled in his direction; his fellow aspirants had obviously become restless during their brief interlude with Williamson. One of the older applicants who was nursing a head wound appeared to have made an unsuccessful attempt to breach the magical barrier he had placed on the door. Clearing his throat, Harry addressed the room, "We are working on sending Auror Williamson to the infirmary..." Before he could finish, a cacophony of questions and demands were hurled toward him.

"Let us out of here!"

"How are you getting him to the infirmary?"

"What are we going to do now?"

Daphne got to her feet behind him and shouted them all down. "Quiet!" she ordered, "Lord Potter," she continued with a disapproving glare, emphasizing his title to them, "was trying to determine who was in need of medical assistance before you interrupted him, you uncivilized gits!"

Shaking his head at the Slytherin's tactics, he watched as several recruits were chivied forward by their peers, including both Apollo, the first applicant slated to be interviewed, and the wizard who had run afoul of his ward. None of the injuries appeared to be too serious, but he gestured the handful of self-identified applicants toward Williamson regardless. "We are going to portkey you through the infirmary wards. Susan," he went on, pointing to the buxom red head who waved at the group in acknowledgement, "has a talisman that is critical to the success of this effort." He could tell that at least a few of them recognized her as Amelia Bones' niece. "I don't want to interfere with the medallion, so I am going to use something else for the portkey itself."

"That's illegal!" decried one of the recruits, but Harry just shrugged.

"If these don't qualify as extenuating circumstances...then I'll accept whatever punishment is handed down."

As Susan cast an augeo on the cord attached to her medallion to make it long enough to encircle Williamson and the five injured applicants, Harry briskly removed the lace from Williamson's left shoe and softly incanted, "Portus." He was satisfied that the spell had taken since the lace glowed a bright blue before returning to its normal brown. Having previously affixed the desired destination in his mind through a light touch of Legilmency with Susan's permission, Harry was confident the item would work as intended. After confirming that everyone had a hold on the lace, he cast a sticking charm to ensure the unconscious Williamson did not let go of the Portkey in transit and then activated the device. One problem down.

"Listen up!" Harry called out, gaining everyone's attention. "I sent a message for help about 15 minutes ago, but I do not believe we can afford to wait any longer." Several people were nodding along, so he continued. "I think we should divide into groups and make our way to the most likely targets of this attack, thinning the enemies' lines as we go, if we can."

"What can we do?" wailed one witch, "None of us are properly trained, we're probably all going to die!"

Harry was intending to reassure the distraught recruit; she didn't look more than a few years older than the 7th years, although he didn't recognize her from Hogwarts. Daphne obviously did, however, and cut him off at the pass. "Pull you yourself together, Fawley!" She might have muttered "you ridiculous bint," under her breath at the end, though as Harry was coming to realize that constituted a rather mild slur for the brown-haired witch.

"We're sitting ducks in this room. I doubt the barrier I placed will hold much longer or under any kind of dedicated assault; we are one magical grenade away from certain disaster," assessed Harry grimly.

He observed the remaining applicants as they processed the situation. A few looked scared, but most looked resolute, committed to doing what was required; unsurprising, as all of them were here because they wanted to become Aurors. Pushing forward with his hastily developed plan, he announced, "You lot will be responsible for securing Minister Scrimgeour," gesturing to the group of five on the left side of the room, one of whom was the overwrought witch, Fawley; she appeared to be deeply regretting her life choices at that moment. Pointing to the group of five on the other side of the room, he said, "Your goal is to get to Head Auror Robards. I believe his office is quite close to our current location."

Before he could continue with the last assignment, a pretentious wizard sporting a severe widow's peak and bushy eyebrows broke in, "Just who do you think you are to be telling the rest of us what to do?" His badge indicated his name was 'Oberon Wright.'

A pretty, dark-haired witch from the group set to go after the Minister, 'Araminta Varma' according to her name tag, immediately jumped to Harry's defense. "That's Harry Potter," she all but sneered at Oberon, who clearly hadn't been paying attention to Daphne when she had told them all off a few minutes ago.

Doing a double-take which might have been humorous under other circumstances, he surprisingly replied, "Oh...er, carry on then."

"Right," Harry resumed, self-consciously rubbing the back of his neck and appearing to have just realized that he had in fact been ordering them all around like it was his job from the beginning. Oh well, needs must. "That leaves Director Bones for the three of us," he finished, referring to Susan, Daphne, and himself. "If anyone has other suggestions, please speak up." He ceded the floor.

There was no overt dissent as the groups began planning for their respective missions amongst themselves. The unmistakable sounds of fighting outside the room hastened their preparations. A loud explosion followed by shouts and screams signaled that it was time to act, whether they were ready or not

It was agreed that since the team heading to the Minister's office had the farthest to go, they should depart first. To aid with stealth, Susan organized disillusionment charms for everyone. Pairs could be seen rapping each other firmly on the head with their wands, leaving nearly a dozen indistinct shapes in the exact color and texture of the room in their wake. Harry stilled as a Susan-shaped-chameleon tapped her wand sharply against the top of his head, the distinctive cold trickles of the charm running down the length of his body. He in turn cast on Daphne, who shuddered at the sensation. "Your Magic...it's like being struck by lightening," she explained at his concerned look, sounding slightly winded. He didn't understand but nodded in acknowledgment anyway, grateful that she had neglected the honorific for once. He started to apologize, but thought better of it. Slytherins could be weird about things like that.

Ministry of Magic -Level 2 - 10:42AM

Five prospective Aurors: Eloise Fawley, Regin McDonald, Bayard Lewis, Aelfdene Martin, and Araminta Varma were making their way silent and disillusioned through Level 2, or at least that was their intent. Araminta and Bayard had suggested charms to block their scent and silence their footsteps, but they learned the hard way that a broad-spectrum silencio made it nearly impossible for them to hear each other unless they were in exceptionally close proximity; a state they could not safely maintain while essentially invisible and on the move. Most of the fighting appeared to have shifted elsewhere, but evidence of spell damage was all around them. Their objective was to secure the Minister's office on the floor above. Unfortunately, the bank of lifts near the main Auror bull-pen was the only way to move between floors on this level of the Ministry. Indeed, the only stairway in the entire building that any of them knew about was currently useless to them as it connected the Department of Mysteries on Level 9 with the Ministry courtroom complex on Level 10.

As they approached the heavy oak doors that stood between them and the lifts, Eloise started whimpering. They would be uniquely vulnerable as they piled through the doorway, simultaneously alerting the enemy to their presence while momentarily limiting their ability to maneuver and fire without hurting one another. Still, risks aside, they had no choice but to open the door if they were to complete their task.

Whispering so as not to prematurely give themselves away, Aelfdene Martin stated, "I think we should take the door down with force." As four disillusioned magicals turned sharply in the direction of his voice, he continued quickly, cognizant of their time constraints, "Hear me out," he begged, "If they're out there, they are going to know we're coming through no matter what we do." He presumed the others nodded, though it was impossible to tell. "This way, we have an opportunity to take out any DEs that are stationed nearby, but most importantly, we clear the way for the groups behind us. Opening the door may give us away, but we can make sure it isn't a factor for any of them if we do this."

Bayard and Regin instantly agreed. Araminta praised his thinking and suggested that some of them use Reducto while the others use Depulso on the door to maximize its shrapnel radius. Eloise just nodded, barely controlling her hysteria. On the count of three, the solid double doors exploded outward in a shower of sparks and wooden projectiles.

Two hooded figures went down, though it wasn't immediately clear if it had been the force of the concussive blast or something more deadly that had incapacitated them. Unfortunately, down did not mean out, as one of the Death Eaters recovered fast enough to disable both Fawley and Bayard Lewis. As more masked enemies appeared on the scene, Regin, Aelfdene, and Araminta were forced to leave two of their number behind in order to continue toward the lifts and the Minister's office.

By mutual unspoken agreement, the three remaining recruits opted for speed and stealth over offense. As they neared the rows of cubicles, the buzz of activity from that morning was markedly absent. Were they all out fighting the invaders? Regin, with his longer stride, was leading the group. It was difficult to make out, but he appeared to be gesturing for them to stop. He pointed toward the bull-pen. Araminta caught sight of at least three crimson cloaked bodies visible on the ground and gasped. Immediately covering her mouth lest she inadvertently reveal their position, she couldn't help but wonder how many were dead. Trying not to think about it, she set her teeth and resumed her march. It seemed more important than ever for them to get to the Minister.

The team finally reached the lifts, surprised that the only way in or out appeared to be unmonitored. That seemed too good to be true, but they could certainly use a stroke of luck. Araminta took watch, and Aelfdene pushed the button to summon the car. Regin shot two quick silencing charms at the elevator so that neither the bell announcing the arrival of the lift nor the voice system announcing the floors drew unwanted attention. Just as they were sure they had made it, they felt the hot trickle of their Disillusionment charm beings lifted and then knew no more.

Meanwhile - Ministry Infirmary - 10:34AM

The group of six injured people were pulled through the wards, with Williamson miraculously landing perfectly centered on a cot as the others slammed into the ground with varying degrees of grace around him, still clutching the shoe lace and tangled in the medallion. Shell-shocked and windswept, they found themselves being held at wand-point by four green-robed healers and a patient on a nearby bed sporting a bandaged shoulder. The applicants, several of whom were worse for wear after the portkey, held up their hands in the universal sign of surrender. "Where did you come from?" asked one of the healers, eyeing the medallion, while colleagues ran diagnostic spells on the injured witches and wizards. "Auror Williamson is badly hurt," Apollo blurted out, still panicking slightly at the unexpected turn of events.

"We were attacked by Death Eaters!" another added.

"You're safe here," soothed a matronly witch, extricating the group from the ribbon and portkey as two of her colleagues began rapidly casting spells on the downed Auror. "We are on lock-down and all DMLE elements have been called to assist," she informed them as she ushered them to another part of the infirmary. "Don't worry, this will all be over soon," she was heard to say just as they entered the wards surrounding the other area, cutting off all sound.

The two healers stepped back as Bedevere Williamson sat up, cursing as he held out his palms for one of them to release the sticking charm gluing the shoe lace to his hands. The first two release attempts failed, and the healer muttered, "Whoever cast this must have really wanted to make sure you didn't let go." Finally, the combined efforts of the two healers managed to free him.

Williamson chuckled as he re-laced his shoe, acknowledging, "They were a rather determined group." He soon stood and began shedding his bloody robes, lifting the illusions of profuse bleeding and grotesque wounds as he went. After shrugging into a clean over-robe, he turned to the man on the next bed. "How did you end up in here, Savage? I thought you were supposed to be leading the assault team."

"I was," Senior Auror Dylan Savage groused, "but one of those little bastards in your recruiting class nailed me." He took a deep breath which caused him to grimace and reflexively cup his wounded shoulder with his good hand. "I had layered my personal shield over the portable shield in my cloak."

Williamson shot him an intrigued look, and Savage obliged, explaining, "It's Unspeakable tech, works almost like armor. They've successfully tested it against the Unforgivables, for fuck's sake." He shook his head, "The healer said that without the double shield it probably would have taken my wand arm."

Williamson whistled, "But you're okay?"

"Yes," Savage confirmed, "I just have to try not to use it for about a week."

Williamson winced in sympathy and then asked, "Which one was it? I was already playing dead by that point."

"Uh...scrawny kid with glasses. Looks like he has never heard of a comb?"

"Harry Potter," Williamson supplied.

"Really?" Savage seemed somewhat mollified. "Impressive...even if he does look about 14."

Williamson laughed.

"How did get you here, anyway?" Savage inquired, "this place is warded to the gills."

"Team work, ingenuity, and perseverance...exactly what we are looking for in our future Auror Corps," Williamson revealed. "I have participated in this exercise more than 30 times since I joined the Recruitment Division, and most of the time the applicants don't even check to see if I am still alive. No group has ever managed to portkey me to medical treatment."

"Naughty, naughty!" Savage scolded, grinning, "Who made the illegal portkey?"

"Potter," he responded, "aided and abetted by Susan Bones and Daphne Greengrass, though he was the one who actually cast the spell." Seeming to recall something that had slipped his mind, he added, "And Greengrass called me a 'wanker' who couldn't out-draw her 15-year-old sister."

Savage exploded in laughter, "I have got to see that in the replay."

"Lest you feel left out," Williamson goaded, "She characterized your attack as 'pitiful' and clearly the work of JV 'Death Munchers' - her words."

Savage frowned, appearing moderately offended before snarking, "So, Mr. Rulebook, are you going to fine Harry Potter for his illegal portkey creation?"

"Damn right, I am," affirmed Williamson, waiting for the inevitable outburst. Dylan Savage was an excitable sort; he did not disappoint.

"What?!" Savage sputtered, "Bedevere, he thought he was saving your life, you ungrateful berk!"

"I know. I just want to see how he reacts. Consider it part of the character test," he advised.

"I definitely want to hear what that sassy chit - Greenglass, was it?"

"Greengrass," corrected Williamson.

Savage nodded, "What Greengrass will have to say about it...and Madam Bones, as well."

Briefly rethinking his plans at the mention of the tougher-than-dragon-hide Director of the DMLE, Williamson paused before confidently concluding, "Moody will have my back."

"Your funeral, my friend."

Unconcerned, Williamson shrugged and changed the subject, "Let's see how they are all getting on, shall we?" Without waiting for a response, he flicked his wand at a large screen on the opposite wall.

They heard the tail-end of Alastor Moody's critique as they watched two Magical Law Enforcement Patrol officers on loan for the simulation exercise stun three Academy prospects near the lifts and transport them to one of the large holding cells on Level 2. Williamson wondered what they had been doing by the elevators. Had they been trying to escape? They hadn't struck him as particularly cowardly. Before he had any more time to ponder the motivations of Varma, Martin, or McDonald, one of the smaller picture squares in the background display was magnified as it flashed to the forefront of the projection.

To be continued ...