A/N: Been a while. Those of you that check my profile are probably aware that the past months have been bad for me. I will label it 'Death in the Family', because even if she was just a cat, I had known her for thirteen years, and that hurt. Especially because I was her caretaker for that terrible month of failing health and death. But I'm feeling a bit better now, so here's an interlude for you.


Interlude 2; Great and Terrible

Not even an entire day had passed, but already the majority of the Wizarding World knew. Such news had the tendency to travel quickly. The first Hogsmeade weekend of the year, cut short by a Death Eater raid in which the Dark Lord Voldemort himself appeared. Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, the Chosen One…captured.

And at the same time it came to light that Harry Potter single-handedly incapacitated over a dozen Death Eaters –killed some of them– with all manner of dark spells.

Suddenly there was renewed speculation –led by that awful Skeeter woman– that Harry Potter was really in league with the Dark Lord, or that he intended to kill him and take his place. It only got worse when Hogwarts students were interviewed after the fact; everyone suddenly remembered that Harry had only ever been seen in classes the previous year. Not at meals or in the dorms. He had quit Quidditch, and no one –friends, rivals or even Professors– knew where he disappeared to outside those classes, just that the wards said he was still in the school.

Those in Slytherin, smirking all the while, pointed out that Harry Potter was a Parselmouth; who was to say that he hadn't spent the time down in the Chamber of Secrets? The Ravenclaw students as a whole stated that Harry had been withdrawn, tired and pale all of his sixth year: All that shared classes with him hadn't missed that although he turned in no homework he had an unusual mastery of practical magic, more prominent a skill than he had ever shown in the past.

A second year Hufflepuff came forward and testified that the Chosen One had almost cursed him at King's Cross when he had approached him for an autograph.

Those in Gryffindor who hadn't been cowed by venomous glares from Ron and Ginny, those still irrationally bitter about the Quidditch debacle –and perhaps rightfully so about his dabbling in the Dark Arts– vilified Harry in every possible way.

Hermione Granger, seated within a sea of gossips, buried her face in her hands. She would not cry, she would not cry… She stood from her seat at the Gryffindor House table, fire burning in her eyes.

"Traitors!" She yelled, voice just shy of breaking, jarring the Great Hall into stunned silence. "You back-stabbers! He only did this so none of you would have to!" Her eyes burned with unshed tears and she stormed from the Hall, Ron Weasley trailing cautiously behind her, shooting bitter glares of his own at those who watched them go.

As conversations restarted, the Professors at the Head Table exchanged worried glances. All except for Severus Snape, whose black eyes were still fixed on the doors. He wondered if Granger knew how right she was, or if she simply couldn't acknowledge that …Harry… had it in him to become a Dark Lord.


Four long months had passed since Harry Potter was captured by the Dark Lord.

Yule was upon them, but there was no cheer in the dreary kitchen on Number 12 Grimmuald Place, where the Order of the Phoenix convened. Their leader, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore –blue eyes grim and tired behind his half-moon glasses– sat watching the door expectantly. His spy within Voldemort's ranks, Severus Snape, had been summoned the day before and had yet to return…

The muted despair was almost tangible in the dimly lit room; many of its occupants were pale and drawn with a damning mix of worry and exhaustion. A quiet, half-hearted argument went on between the Weasley matriarch and her youngest son, Ron. She didn't want him involved with Order business; he argued that he was of age. She snapped that he was still in school. He snarled that he would drop out like his brothers –also in attendance– and she fell abruptly silent, expression hurt and angry.

At least her youngest, her Ginny, her only daughter, wasn't involved yet.

Hermione Granger, seated solemnly beside a prematurely-aged Remus Lupin and across from the Weasley family, stated quietly that they had to be in attendance—had to know about Harry. It was their right.

Silence fell, somewhat awkward; most of the Order still resented their Chosen One for turning to Dark magic, but they dared not speak ill of him in the Granger girl's presence. Nowadays, she let her spells do the talking when anyone spoke poorly of her first friend. The eclectic repertoire she held was one to be feared, especially when one took into account that she co-headed the newly revived Defense Association alongside Ron. No one could deny she had a mean streak a mile wide; not after the first time a group of gleefully hurtful Slytherins interrupted the club and didn't get out of the Infirmary for a week.

The silence made it possible to hear the front door open and close, the quiet tap of hard-soled boots as someone came towards the kitchen. The door opened to reveal an unsurprisingly grim Severus Snape. Those more observant among the Order saw a slight tremor –quickly stilled– of the man's potion stained fingers.

"Severus," Dumbledore acknowledged quietly, gesturing for his spy to be seated. The offer was quickly accepted; it was obvious even to even the most oblivious that the Potion's Master was exhausted. "Do you have any news for us?" Everyone knew he was asking about Harry –he always did, just not as directly as he had in the beginning, in the first month– in the vain hope that Severus had discovered something

"Potter is still alive." Snape sneered, though there was little real emotion –negative or otherwise– in the expression and his eyes were suspiciously blank. Those very few in the know would recognize it for what it was; Occlumency at work. "I was with—." He stopped abruptly and changed his words. "I saw him not two hours ago."

The uproar was immediate as people stood all around the long table, but Ron made himself heard with a shout that immediately silenced them all. "Why didn't you help him escape?! You were right there! You have that damned portkey!" The gangly ginger's face was red with anger, and the air itself gained weight as more of the Order picked up on that and their auras expressed it. Many accusing eyes turned towards Snape, distrustful even after so many assurances that he was loyal to Dumbledore.

"I couldn't!" The dark Professor snarled back, black eyes flashing dangerously, shocking many into silence at the admittance. "The Dark Lord has him under a mountain of wards, and access is granted only by Him personally. I wasn't alone with Potter for even a minute." He ran a hand over his face harshly; the Order members as a whole dropped back abruptly at the unusual show of weakness from the man.

Hermione was the first to speak again, one of the few that'd remained silent and seated in the initial outburst. "He wanted you to give Harry a potion, didn't he? Is…is he torturing Harry, then?" Across from her, Ron wore an expression like he'd just been hit with a slug-vomiting hex, freckles showing starkly on his face as he paled.

Severus turned to Dumbledore, only for a moment, before looking straight ahead, eyes shielded and tightly focused on a spot on the wall. He spoke over those who murmured questions about the Cruciatus curse. "Your Golden Boy," He sneered mockingly, gaze briefly flicking to Dumbledore before refocusing on the wall. "Has been subject to no spells used for torture." The answer was more than slightly evasive, but no one was given time to question the dark man before he continued.

"I was called to brew an advanced healing potion, and administer a series of obscure potions that change the physiology of a body… to help their magic sustain them through the effects of prolonged fasting… or starvation." Before he'd even finished the last syllable, outraged shouts filled the room, until Dumbledore silenced them all with a bang issued from his wand.

"What are you holding back, Severus?" Snape glared, and the Headmaster flinched back both from the intensity of it, and the fact that the Potion's Master was disturbed enough that his normally tightly-reigned aura was flaring briefly into the visible spectrum. The fact that the dark man's magic appeared as gray shadows shot through with poisonous strings of shifting opalescent colors alarmed him almost as much as the loss of strict control.

"No one needs to know such depravity, not until we get the boy from Him." His voice was cold and brittle, and the Professor ignored the heated cries of "Tell us!" as easily as he would the students he taught. When Dumbledore continued to look at him with grandfatherly disapproval Snape's face morphed into an ugly snarl. "You want to know so dearly, you foolish old man? Look for yourself!"

The two locked eyes for a long moment; few recognized Legilimency for what it was, until Dumbledore looked away sharply, face drained of all color while Snape continued to glare bitterly.

"Harry, my boy, I'm so sorry…"


Professor Snape hadn't been teaching his classes for an entire week, and now they knew why. Being members of the Order, Ron and Hermione were privy to things most everyone else was oblivious to. They knew that earlier that day a silver doe Patronus had burst through the Headmaster's window and said in Snape's voice: "This is the first time I could get away—He's attacking the Ministry tonight. Malfoy will lower the wards at a quarter to seven. The Dark Lord will have Potter with him."

They stood now before the DA, in their usual meeting place –an unused classroom on the fourth floor– with only minutes separating them from a portkey to the Ministry, in which they would possibly die trying to save their best friend…

And maybe the Wizarding World as a whole.

So they told those trusted sixth and seventh years who still believed in them, in Harry, and let those of age accompany them. Enough had changed since Harry's capture –eight months past– that those under seventeen accepted without argument the need for them to stay at Hogwarts. They knew that if the Professors, Order, and of-age DA members lost this fight, that Hogwarts would be the Dark Lord's next target. That it would be up to them, as the last line of defense, to engage the pre-set wards and usher the younger students to safe havens and portkeys to other countries.

There wasn't a week, these days, that someone in the Great Hall wouldn't receive a Black Letter notifying some unlucky soul of a death in their family. Everyone wanted this war to end. The DA trusted and respected the judgment of their leaders, the two remaining parts of the "Golden Trio", for they had lost family as well. It was well know that Hermione's parents had been killed by Fiendfyre on Halloween night, and though Ginny Weasley's body hadn't been recovered when she'd gone missing just last month, she was presumed dead. The rumor went that her hand had fallen off the fabled Weasley family clock.

The veteran Order members looked upon the DA with disapproval when they met in the Entrance Hall, but by then knew better than to say anything. The students had all trained their bodies and magic hard in the last months, and what they lacked in true battle experience they made up for in creativity. In defiance of the individual strength that the Death Eaters so treasured, the DA trained in a new style; they fought in pairs –in teams–, as one unit. Together, they could take down an individual many times their own strength.

The portkeys were passed out and held, and as one all the fighters for the Order of the Phoenix were whisked though a vortex and dropped in the empty Atrium of the Ministry of Magic. Ranks were ordered quietly amongst the veterans, while the DA settled into their best teams; nerves were banished to the deepest recesses of minds, and wands were held ready in all hands. If an inspiring speech had been planned it was forgotten immediately, for when the clock struck seven the Death Eaters appeared, lead by the Dark Lord Voldemort.

But no one moved, besides Professor McGonagall releasing a half-strangled gasp, for the sight beheld was so unexpected. They knew the Dark Lord would bring Harry, but like that..!

Hermione could barely recognize her friend, held in such a close and possessive way by his mortal enemy (and what happened to Voldemort killing Harry? What about the Prophecy?). His skin was the same dead tone as the creature that held him, and his face was sharp and hollow from starvation. He had nearly black circles around his eyes, as if he hadn't slept in years, and his eyes themselves had changed. No longer obscured by his glasses, they were the same unusual shade of green, but too bright –glassy– and the whites were so bloodshot they appeared solid crimson. Were…were his pupils slits?

Now that she was looking, should couldn't help thinking that he looked like a more human version of Voldemort. Hermione hated herself immediately for thinking so.

As they watched, Voldemort ran the fingers of his free hand –the one not wrapped threateningly around his wand– through Harry's limp hair, and their Savior and friend didn't even twitch at the disturbing action. Only after was there any movement: Harry's eyes, eerily blank, trailed slowly over the assembled Order, and stopped for a long moment on Albus Dumbledore. He blinked once and sighed; Hermione's heart lurched at the dead sound.

And then the Dark Lord smiled.

"Your 'Chosen One' doesn't even fight me, you know," He began genially, crimson eyes seeking out the Headmaster, and then the Hogwarts students—Ron and Hermione in particular. His Death Eaters were silent behind him, poised. "I'm sure, though, had he the ability to remember any of you, dear Harry would tell you to just step aside now. Save yourselves the agony of death." The slight hiss in his voice made his words seem even more ominous.

"There are fates worse than death, Tom." Said Dumbledore, tone firm, and he didn't seem able to remove his eyes from Harry's emaciated, still form.

Voldemort tilted his head, apparently unperturbed by the use of his old name. "Would you kill Harry then, Dumbledore? To spare him this terrible fate, to sit by my side as I destroy this useless Ministry, and then the muggle filth strewn across this world?" His voice was light and near friendly, though his eyes burned with hatred so intense that it made many of the Order shiver where they stood.

Without waiting for an answer the Dark Lord grasped Harry's chin lightly and turned his head, so that his empty green eyes could 'see' them all. "He's not yours anymore, Dumbledore. You are far too late to save him. Could you accept him with open arms, knowing that he didn't even attempt to fight when I used his body to kill Ginerva Weasley?" Unnaturally long fingers trailed over Harry's expressionless face, evoking another uneasy shiver in the crowd of fighters. "Not so much as a thought to stop when I used his hands to rip the intestines out of her struggling, screaming body." Voldemort was smiling, a fixed snarl that showed too many sharp, yellow teeth.

A scream of rage, and the first spell flew –some nasty curse by the furious, heartbroken Weasley matriarch– followed quickly by a volley from the rest of the Order. The Death Eaters retaliated, and suddenly the Atrium was filled with multicolored lights and all manner of noise and chaos, ranks broken and rubble flying. A bubble of peace surrounded the Dark Lord, though; none attacked, for fear of either harming Harry or drawing the dark wizard's attention and ire.

The DA were working in their cells, complementary auras and new tactics throwing their opponents into disorder. Some chose to overwhelm the Death Eaters with a barrage of 3-to-1 spells, while still others moved straight into the chaos, one holding up a shield while their partners took advantage of the extra time to form more complex curses.

Lost in the flow of her spells –Avis-Engorgio-Flagrante-OPPUGNO!– with Ron at her back, Hermione startled violently when an unmasked Death Eater –(Professor Snape!)– flew into the wall next to her with a gruesome snap. She ran to his side without thought, knowing immediately that he was critically injured and of no further use in the battle, and dropped her activated portkey onto his chest. It would send him straight to Hogwarts' Hospital Wing, to safety.

Then the most horrible, heart stopping scream ripped through the noise, silencing everyone as both sides turned to its source.

And there was Harry, green eyes blazing as he held the Dark Lord's face between skeletal hands, and the pressure in the room suddenly seemed to increase, and Harry's eyes were bleeding—like he was crying blood. The creature that was Voldemort fell, body smoking and crumbling, and Harry swayed and fell beside it.

"Harry!" Hermione screamed, before all hell broke out. Curses flew chaotically, people disapparating or portkeying out, screams filling the room as some of the Death Eaters gave in and fell to the ground, clutching their left arms in agony. Through it all, Hermione caught sight of the disturbed, furious Bellatrix LeStrange as she dragged Harry deeper into the bowels of the Ministry.

She hadn't been the only one to see; Hermione was one of a dozen fighting her way through the crowd of panicking bodies. Time seemed to play tricks on them, for though they managed to escape the Atrium in a bare minute a sudden alarm blared, a wail that announced the breech of the new wards surrounding the Department of Mysteries.

'The Death Chamber. The Veil Room.'

They heard the insane LeStrange laughing as they burst into the room, just in time to see her fling Harry into the translucent fabric of the Veil. At that moment Harry's eyes snapped open, swirling pits of crimson and bronze, and he flung out an arm.

"Avada Kedavra!" He snarled, voice brittle and cracked, and the sickly green spell shot from his fingertips(!) with the terrifying rush of wind and not-sound that haunted the nightmares of all that feared Death. LeStrange fell dead, demented cackle frozen on her face forever.

The last thing anyone saw of their Savior before the stone archway of the Veil collapsed was the clashing swirl of the color in his eyes. When all that stood of the artifact was a pile of rubble, and the great and terrible pressure of magic disappeared from their senses, the gathered magicians of the Order exchanged unsure looks.

"Can… Can we bring him back?"


A/N: So there's that. I didn't want to post this until I had the next chapter completely typed, so that you wouldn't be left with this tease of a chapter for an unknown number of months. Know what that means? Next chapter's almost ready! I just need to proof-read it. At the very latest, the first chapter of the new Arc will be posted Monday evening.

Until then, enjoy speculating at the doors this interlude could possibly open for the future. And know that I'm back.