Chapter 2
The Time Chamber

Author's Note: I'm already getting a few questions, and one is about what I will do about Ron and Hermione's relationship. Those who usually read my stories know I am a big Ron/Hermione shipper, and I always include that in my stories. There will be fluff between them as the story progresses, definitely later in the story, and perhaps a few PoV switches between Ron and Hermione as well. So don't fret Ron/Hermione shippers, I haven't forgotten about them.

(Harry's PoV)

An old witch screamed in terror and this caused many of the hundreds of guests to scream as well. Pops and cracks of Apparation were heard over the terrified screams and Harry looked around as figures in black caps and white masks appeared in groups at each Apparation point. He recognized these costumes instantly.

These were the outfits usually seen on Death Eaters.

A red spell shot over the crowd, toward the stage. Kingsley and Harry ducked and a loud sound of metal scraping was heard, followed by a bang. Harry turned just in time to see the phoenix statue on the fountain crashing toward the floor. This alone caused Harry to snap into action, as well as countless others. While most of the partygoers were screaming and trying to find some place to hide from the attackers, a number of wizards, including many Aurors and hit-wizards scattered around the crowd, leapt into action. As Harry hurried off the stage, the four Aurors assigned as Kingsley's protection duty surrounded the Minister.

"I'm going to fight!" Harry heard Kingsley say.

"Fight when we can get you protected, Minister!" one of the Aurors said.

Kingsley said something, but Harry didn't pay attention. He was making his way through the crowd where he saw a group of redheads, who he knew were most of the Weasleys. They were throwing curses at the attackers – whom Harry was sure was the new threat of Death Eaters – as they came in from all sides. Screams of pain and anger were heard around the crowd and Harry saw a masked figure coming closer, and he raised his wand and shot a silent stunner toward the attacker. The attacker ducked, but this caused others to go after him.

"Harry!" Ginny's voice called out from close by.

Harry pushed through the crowd and found Ginny, Ron, Hermione and the Weasleys there.

"Harry, don't you dare tell me to try and get out of here!" Ginny said, "I can fight –"

Ginny was cut off by a loud noise and Harry looked over the heads of some of the Weasleys to see that a table had collapsed, burying what Harry was sure was at least a couple of people who had been hiding under it. Harry only spared a moment of thought to hope they were okay, before aiming a couple of spells over the heads of his friends, hoping they would collide with opposition. Then he turned back to his wife.

"Ginny, I know you can fight," he said, "But I want you to find a way to get our family and friends out of here!"

"We'll never get them to the Apparation points in here!" Ron said, "Not through this crowd!"

Before Harry could answer back, a scream tore through the air as more spells flew over the heads of the crowd. Harry, Ginny and the others each sent curses and hexes toward the incoming Death Eaters.

"We have to find a way!" Harry said, "We all can't fight like this. Not with everyone in a crowd; it'd be like shooting fish in a barrel. This is a job for us Aurors!"

Truthfully, Harry knew that a great number of his friends and family could fight, but in this crowd, there was more danger than usual and it would get too unpredictable. He just wanted to get his loved ones out before he got into the fight.

"… the lower floors?" Harry heard Hermione say, "I'm sure we can find places there to Apparate out of… or the Floo Networks."

Harry was about to respond but he saw a spell coming his way.

"Protego!" Harry yelled, creating a barrier around those closest to him.

The barrier was so strong, the spell bounced off. It rebounded toward the ceiling and Harry heard cracks as portions of the ceiling started to crumble toward them. Without thinking, Harry pulled Ginny away and saw Ron pulling Hermione toward them, as others, including many of the Weasleys went the opposite way. A loud rumble tore through the room as pieces of debris landed where many had stood. Dust and smoke, and spells tore through the air, and Harry looked around. Ginny, Ron and Hermione were nearby, but the other Weasleys had gotten lost in the crowd.

"The lower levels are our best chance, Harry!" Ron said nearby, "Maybe we can lure a few of those bastards with us. Like you said, we can't take them on without this crowd around us."

Harry nodded and stood up slowly. He noticed a few of the nearby lifts rising up toward the floor.

"Right!" Harry said, "Ginny, Hermione, get toward the lifts. Ron and I will give you time."

"I'm not going without you!" Ginny growled.

Hermione nodded and clung onto Ron.

"We'll be there!" Ron said, "Just go!"

Harry stood up and sent off a volley of spells toward a point near the lifts, and hoped that they had either hit the Death Eaters, or had distracted them.

"Go!" Ron snarled at Hermione and Ginny, "We'll be right behind you!"

Ron forcefully pushed Hermione in the direction of the lifts and Harry did the same with Ginny. Ginny gave in and started dragging Hermione toward the lifts. She sent a stunning spell off to the side, and Harry and Ron sent their own toward the same direction. Harry then pointed his wand at the lift Ginny and Hermione were headed toward, and put a protective barrier around it. Harry watched as Ginny and Hermione hurried through it.

"Come on!" Ginny said, hastily.

Harry started off toward the lifts, but saw three Death Eaters coming from behind them. Behind Harry, Ron sent a curse toward one of the Death Eaters and sent them stumbling to the ground. Harry pointed his wand at the lift, the doors clanged shut.

"No!" Ginny growled, banging on the lift, "Get over here, Harry!"

Harry waved his wand at the lift and it started sinking into the ground.

"I'll find you!" Harry said to Ginny, as he watched the lift disappear into the floor.

Harry was then forcefully dragged to the ground, and at first he thought it was Ron's doing, but he found that his best mate was also on the floor, though he looked okay. Harry heard a familiar voice sending off curses and saw Neville Longbottom and Hannah Abbot nearby. Their spells hit the Death Eaters that had come in behind the lift, sending them to the floor.

"You all right, Harry?" Neville said, ducking down to the ground, "They almost got you. You have any plans?"

"Hey," Hannah said, as Neville and Ron sent off a couple of spells, "where's Ginny and Hermione?"

"On a lift going down to one of the floors," Harry said, "They're trying to find an alternate way out."

"Good thinking!" Neville said.

"Harry, we have to get down there!" Ron said, "We don't know if Death Eaters are down there. They could be going after them."

"Right," Harry said, his eyes on another lift, "Come on!"

As soon as Harry stood up, more spells came his way. Three more cloaked figures were headed across the hall toward them.

"Get to the lifts!" Neville said, "We'll give you space to get there!"

Before Harry could object, Neville and Hannah ran forward, casting spells at the Death Eaters. Harry pulled Ron to his feet and they hurried off toward the lifts. Harry felt the ground shake behind him as a spell hit tiles. Harry ran toward the lift and pushed Ron into it. As soon as Harry dove into it, he waved his wand and the gate slammed close. Harry saw a Death Eater coming his way and he pointed his wand at him and stunned him. He then waved his wand at the lift and it started to quickly descend into the ground. Screams of panic and terror and spells tore through the air, and Harry thought he heard Hannah Abbot scream Neville's name, as the lift descended into the ground.

"Okay, where could Ginny and Hermione be?" Harry said, "We don't even know –"

"Lifts, locate Ministry worker Hermione Weasley," Ron called out, looking toward the reflective ceiling.

"Hermione Weasley exited through the Ninth floor with one other occupant," the cool voice said, "Court Rooms and Department of Mysteries."

"What could they be doing there?" Ron muttered, more to himself than Harry, "Never mind, take us directly there!"

"Good thinking," Harry said, as the lifts started to descend on their own.

"Hope the rest of our family's okay," Ron said, frowning, "Why did we leave them, Harry?"

"We'll find them, Ron!" Harry said, "As soon as we find Ginny and Hermione and a way out."

"Okay," Ron said, nodding, then looked at the ceiling again, "Er, Harry… where do you think all those Death Eaters came from? There were too many just to be the kids –"

"They've been recruiting, I bet," Harry said, "Must have… these past three years, anything could have happened between then and now."

"Yeah, but why now?" Ron asked, "Why three years after the end of the Second War?"

"The wizarding world is getting back on its feet," Harry said, "People living their everyday lives, you know. The common citizen hardly thinks about something like this these days. It has been three years and we all just want to live our lives again. They attacked when most of the wizarding world didn't expect it."

"This isn't the start of the rumored Third War, is it?" Harry asked.

"No," Harry said, shaking his head, "They may have had the surprise attack and numbers, but it wouldn't be enough to cause the wizarding world to go into a Third War."

Harry looked at Ron, who nodded his agreement, though he looked very relieved to do so. The lifts opened onto the bottommost floor.

"Come on," Harry whispered pointing his wand forward.

Ron nodded and followed Harry as he slowly walked out of the lifts out of the lifts.

"Freeze!" a familiar voice said.

"Ginny?" Harry called out.

Ginny and Hermione appeared from behind a corner. Ginny smiled when she saw Harry and ran over toward Harry and hugged him. Hermione did the same to Ron.

"Why are you down this deep?" Ron asked Hermione.

"We couldn't stop the lift in time to find another floor," Hermione said, "I think a spell jinxed it, and it was all I could do to stop it before it crashed."

"Do the Anti-Apparation Charms go down this deep?" Ginny asked.

Before Harry could answer in the negative, a whooshing sound was heard.

"That sounded like someone coming out of a fireplace," Ron whispered, "Didn't it?"

More whooshing sounds were heard and Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione pointed their wands toward the direction of the noise.

"Great idea, using the Floo Network to get down here," a heavy voice said.

"Hush!" a commanding voice said, "I thought I heard voices."

Suddenly, the whole hallway was doused in pitch black darkness. Harry heard a number of footsteps and then what sounded like Hermione muttering a spell. Suddenly Harry could see again, and when he did, he realized there were six figures in cloaks and white masks pointing their wands toward him and his friends.

"Well, well," the same commanding voice said, "Look who we have here. Potter and his friends."

Harry recognized that voice at once.

"Theodore Nott," he said, "Should have known you'd be mixed up in this. Like father, like son."

"Think you're going to stop all of us?" a female voice asked, "Down here to head us off?"

"Pansy Parkinson?" Hermione asked, "Why am I not surprised?"

Pansy laughed. "Hello again, Mudblood. Long time."

A third masked figure laughed and Ron grunted in disgust.

"Gregory Goyle," he said, "What a way to value the memory of Crabbe."

"Shut up, Weasel," Goyle snarled.

"Who else is there?" Harry asked, looking around at the other figures, "Draco?"

Nott belched a harsh laugh. "Mallfoy's gone soft… did so long before the Dark Lord fell. We wouldn't want him."

"Why are you doing this?" Harry demanded, "Voldemort is long gone. He isn't coming back."

"Just because he's gone," Nott said, "Doesn't mean his noble work isn't finished. Good way to start it off though, with the deaths of Harry Potter, and his wife?"

"You won't touch her!" Harry growled, "NOW!"

Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione sent off a volley of spells toward the six Death Eaters. Harry heard three thuds, and pulled Ginny toward a wall on their left. He hoped Hermione and Ron had done the same, and found them hurdling toward another wall, just as spells cut through where they had stood only moments before.

"We should try to round these guys up!" Ginny whispered, "The fireplaces they came from sound close."

Harry agreed and was about to say so, when he heard a loud whooshing sound and thought more people were coming through the fireplaces, though after a moment he realized they were coming from behind him. Harry looked toward the lifts and saw one starting to open. Two cloaked and masked figures were standing in the lift.

"Watch out!" Nott yelled, "Potter is down here!"

Harry sent a Reducto spell toward the lifts, and saw the two figures dive out of the way just in time, as it exploded on the spell's impact. Ginny sent spell after spell down toward Nott's gang, as Ron and Hermione aimed spells toward the two new arrivals. One of the two figures' robes caught on fire and he screamed. The other tried to put out the fire and Harry stunned them both. Harry was ready to run toward Nott, but more whooshing sounds came from fireplaces.

"No good!" Ginny said, holding Harry back, "More are coming!"

Ginny took Harry's hand and they ran over to Ron and Hermione, casting spells in the direction of Nott's gang.

"We'll never get through that way!" Ron growled.

"What do we do?" Hermione asked.

Harry didn't answer as he tried to think of the best strategy. Could they hope to get back on the lifts and try to find other routes? Perhaps get back to the Atrium? Harry shook his head… no, they would be easy targets in the lifts if there was any delay.

"The Department of Mysteries!" Ron said, nodding toward the direction of where the lifts were, "We can lose them in there and gain advantage!"

"Are you serious?" Ginny asked, "We'll get lost!"

"So will they!" Ron said, "Thing is, we've been there before!"

"He's right!" Harry said, "Let's go!"

"I hope we don't regret this!" Ginny said.

Hermione and Ginny ran ahead first, while Harry and Ron sent off spells to distract Nott's gang. Then they ran too, following Hermione and Ginny toward the familiar corridor that would lead them inside the room. As soon as they reached the door, they heard footsteps coming. Hermione opened the door, and the four of them hurried inside. Ron went to slam the door, and Hermione shrieked for him to stop, but the door slammed before Ron could stop it.

The room started to spin as the doors changed spots.

"Ron!" Hermione exclaimed, "We needed to close it off! They'll be coming soon!"

"We need to go!" Harry said, before Ron could respond, "Choose a door!"

Ron nodded and dragged Hermione off toward a door. Ron opened it and started inside.

"Come on!" Ron yelled.

Harry took Ginny's hand, and was about to run toward Ron, when a door opened and a spell hit the wall above Ron. He screamed and backed into the room.

"No!" Harry yelled, as the door slammed close.

Harry heard a shriek and another door slam as the doors once again spun around.

"What's going on?" Goyle's voice rang out in confusion.

"Stupefy!" Ginny yelled.

The stunning spell hit Goyle square in the chest and he hit the floor.

"We have to go!" Ginny said.

"What about Ron and Hermione?" Harry asked.

"We'll find them!" Ginny said, running toward a door, "Come on!"

Harry nodded and followed Ginny as she opened a door. They ran through the door and slammed it behind them.

"RON?" Harry called out, "HERMIONE?"

Nothing. Harry and Ginny lit their wands to see better, and raised them in the air.

"Harry!" Ginny gasped, "We're in the Time Chamber!"

Harry nodded as he looked around. He could see aisles full of large carriage and box-shaped clocks

"Harry, over there!" Ginny said, pointing off to the right, "I see a light of some kind."

Harry squinted his eyes to see better. In the distance, he saw a blue light shimmering in the distance. It seemed to be moving back and forth.

"Come on!" Harry said.

He took Ginny's hand and they hurried off over toward the light, running through the aisles. Harry hoped the light was coming from another room, but when they approached it, they found a body of water, like a swimming pool or giant bathtub.

"What is this?" Ginny asked, "This wasn't here a few years ago, was it?"

"No," Harry said, shaking his head, "We would have seen it."

"Think it has something to do with time travel?" Ginny asked, "Kind of a strange time turner –"

Harry heard the door on the other side of the room slam, and turned toward the noise. Ginny did as well, and turned too. They pointed their wands forward, their backs turned toward the strange pool.

"Think they're in here?" Pansy Parkinson's voice said.

"They could be anywhere," an unfamiliar voice said, "This place is huge."

Ginny raised her wand, but Harry took her arm and shook her head.

"Not yet," he whispered.

Ginny nodded and said in a whisper, "What do you think? Try to get out of here before they see us? Hide and wait and attack?"

Harry shrugged and looked over his shoulder. He and Ginny couldn't hide in the pool. He didn't exactly trust it. And the aisles weren't big enough to hide in. They would surely be seen, before they would see their opposition.

Then, Harry saw a light on the tip of a wand. Hoping it would aim true, he shot a stunning spell toward light. The result was a heavy thud that resonated throughout the room.

"Oi!" Pansy shrieked, "What was that? Did you trip and -?"

"Stupefy!" Ginny yelled, sending a spell across the room.

"Missed!" Pansy shrieked, "Avada Kedavra! Reducto!"

Harry and Ginny ducked as the green beam flew over their heads missing them. But Pansy's other spell hit the floor in front of them, causing debris to fly toward them. Harry pulled Ginny away from the debris… unfortunately there was only one direction for them to go.

Straight back into the pool.

Harry hit the water and tried to find Ginny and his way to the surface, but suddenly, he felt a force that seemed to pull him deeper under the water. He looked around desperately for Ginny and, through blurry eyes, found her also desperately trying to reach the surface but she was being pulled under as well. Harry tried as best he could to reach her, but he could feel his strength leaving him. He tried to yell for Ginny but couldn't through the water. He could see her thrashing around desperately trying to swim to the surface.

His focus blurred and his vision was starting to go black.

I'm going to drown. I can't reach the surface. I hope Ginny can find a way out. Please.

Suddenly a golden light started to shine out of nowhere, and through his blurry vision saw what looked like a waterspout of some kind. The spout caught him in its torrent and he could see it also had Ginny. He tried to reach for Ginny but couldn't…

He opened his mouth to yell for Ginny and swallowed a mouthful of water. He then felt a warm sensation spread through his body. It felt like he was burning, which was odd because the water was rather cool…

And that was when he finally blacked out.

Yes, another cliffhanger as I said there would be. This is the end of the "How?" part. Next chapter starts the beginning of the actual story.

How was the action? Hope it was okay. I was more focused on them getting into the Time Chamber, so the action was kind of like a side-part of it.