2. The Sands of Time Swirled
“Ugh!” said Molly Weasley as she unpacked one of the
seemingly endless suitcases piled in her and Arthur’s bedroom in the Burrow. “I
really loved going to Egypt, but I feel like we'll
never finish unpacking.”
“I feel like we’ve been at this forever,” George
groaned as he and Fred went by the room, carrying basketfuls of laundry.
“Well,” Percy said peevishly, “it would go a lot
faster if you hadn't brought home so many trick suitcases filled with your idea
of a souvenir!”
“What are we going to do with all that sand?” Ron grumped, and he
glared at his twin brothers, who merely grinned cat-like in return.
“I have half a mind to make you put it to use, such
as sanding down the splintery handrail going to the cellar,” Molly said as she,
too, gave her mischievous sons a cold look. The grins on Fred and George’s
“Mum!” Ginny called from the living room. “Mrs. Diggory is here!”
“What?” Molly exclaimed, and she ran a hand through
her untidy hair in an unsuccessful attempt to smooth it down. “Oh dear, and the
house is in such a state!”
Molly Weasley half flew down the stairs to greet
Mrs. Diggory, a slight woman with dark brown hair and
somber brown eyes.
“Madge!” Molly greeted warmly. “How
have you been? Sorry about the house, but we just got back from Egypt two days ago, and we're
still unpacking and settling down again!’
“How was your trip?” Madge asked politely as she let
Molly lead her to the family’s shabby, frayed couch in the living room.
“It was marvelous,” Molly said, beaming. “It’s nice
to see Bill doing so well. He’s very well-respected
down there. Egypt is hot, of course, and very
dry. But it’s beautiful. And
the pyramids! You don’t truly appreciate how enormous
they are and how much must have gone into them until you see them up close. How
are Amos and Cedric? Oh, and I imagine Cedric received his OWLS by now, how did
Madge’s face lit up as she sat down and dropped her
dragon-skin handbag by her feet on the floor. “He did very well, twelve OWLS!
He also got notice that he will be captain of the Hufflepuff
Quidditch team this year!”
“Oh, how wonderful!” Molly exclaimed, as she
clasped her hands together. “I bet Amos is fit to burst his buttons!”
's talked of little
else since we received the owl,” Madge said, and she gave an amused grin. “He
loves bragging about Cedric at the office. I’m rather surprised no one has cast
a Silencio on him yet.” The grin faltered suddenly,
and Madge looked serious. “Which reminds me, there is
something I wanted to tell you, speaking of the Ministry.”
“Oh?” Molly asked, her eyebrows arching. She Summoned an old earthen teapot, a wicker box of teabags, two cups and two
saucers. “What is it?”
“Two things,” Madge said, and she dropped her voice
to a near whisper. “One concerns that Potter boy,” Madge continued, and she
glanced up at the stairs to make sure there were no eavesdroppers. “I know your
youngest son is good friends with him, and you took him in last year after some
difficulties with his Muggle aunt and uncle.”
“What about Harry?” Molly asked, concerned. “Is he
all right? Those dreadful Dursleys didn’t do
anything, did they?”
“Well,” Madge said. “It was more a matter of what
Potter did to them. Or, one of them. Amos told me
Potter…well, he lost his temper with one of his relatives and…” Madge puffed up
her cheeks and took a deep breath. She spread her arms wide.
“No!” Molly exclaimed, wide-eyed. “He blew her up?”
Madge nodded. “Yes. The woman had to be found and deflated, and her memory wiped. Potter is now
staying at the Leaky Cauldron until school starts.” She sniffed. “If you ask
me, they were far too lenient with the boy. Imagine what could have happened if
the aunt had been seen!”
Molly shook her head. “Trust me, Madge,” she
whispered while taking her own look at the staircase, “the Muggle probably had
it coming. Foul lot, those Muggle relatives of Harry’s. Foul bunch.”
A small explosion from upstairs, followed by a loud
hissing sound and bright lights, interrupted them. Molly sighed. Percy’s voice could be heard above the whooping and cheering of the twins
BOYS!” Molly hollered. “I told you
to wait until tomorrow to try out the Egyptian Snake Sticks! Everything had
better be unpacked and cleaned up before I come back up, or else!”
“All right, Mum.”
“I told you so! You can sweep up the ash yourself!”
“But don’t sweep up the colored stones! That’s the
“Really! I don’t
believe you…get out of there! That’s my box for my Head Boy…”
“BOYS!” Molly shouted in
A chorus of “Sorry, Mum” trailed down from upstairs.
Molly shook her head. “Those boys!
I’m surprised I’m not prematurely gray!” Molly then returned to their previous
topic. “I am surprised, though, that Fudge didn’t make more of a fuss over the
matter, stickler that he is.”
“Oh, I think I know the reason why,” Madge said
darkly as she set her empty cup and saucer on the coffee table. “The Ministry
was just grateful to find him alive and unharmed, especially with Black loose.”
Molly gave Madge a blank, puzzled stare. Madge’s own eyes widened in realization.
“But of course, you haven’t heard!” Madge exclaimed.
“Sirius Black escaped from Azkaban!”
Only Madge’s quick reflexes kept Molly from spilling
the entire contents of her cup into her lap.
“How?” Molly croaked out as Madge
gently took the cup and saucer from her hands.
“That’s what we would all like to know,” Madge said.
“Fudge is fit to be tied, Amos tells me. The whole thing is embarrassing for
the Ministry, to say the least!”
“How much does Harry know?” Molly whispered.
“That, I don’t know,” Madge said. “For his sake, I
hope very little!”
“What’s this about Harry?” Ron said as he started to
come down the stairs.
“Are you finished unpacking?” Molly asked sternly.
“No, but I wanted to grab a snack before…”
“Dinner will be in an hour, young man,” Molly said,
and her face darkened. “Go back upstairs and continue unpacking.”
“But is Harry all right?” Ron asked as he made his
way back up the stairs as slowly as humanly possible. “Those Muggles aren’t
giving him a rough time over the fellytone, are
“He’s fine,” Molly said crisply. “He’s staying at
the Leaky Cauldron, so we can all meet up with him when we get school supplies
in a few days. Now back upstairs!”
“Yes, Mum,” Ron said, only slightly mollified. He
disappeared up the staircase again.
“Thank you for telling me,” Molly whispered once she
was certain that Ron was out of earshot. “About everything.
Especially about Harry and Black. Oh dear, but I hope
he isn’t frightened!”
“He’s all right,” Madge reassured her. “Amos tells
me he goes to Fortescue’s every day and studies his
schoolwork. Also likes peeking in at Quality Quidditch Supplies, ogling that
new broom, I reckon.”
“They’ve got another new broom?” Molly said, and she
gave an amused smile.
“Oh, but of course,” Madge said. “Thought about
getting one for our Cedric, since he’s going to be captain of his House team
and all, but they cost more than a few Knuts. Out of
our price range, that’s for certain! Still, the Nimbus
2000 is a respectable broom.”
Molly’s felt her attention drift
for just a moment. How she would have loved to have given
her boys even a broom like
felt a pang of jealously, but quickly suppressed it. One couldn’t
afford many luxuries with a large family, a family she considered a blessing. Molly’s
envy turned to sympathy as she remembered that Cedric would be the only child
for the Diggorys. She gave herself a mental shake and
turned back to her friend.
“More tea, Madge?” Molly asked.
Madge shook her head. “No, no. I best get going. I
have a few errands to run, and I want to get them done before it gets too
Both witches stood up, and Madge collected her
“Thank you for stopping by,” Molly said. “We haven’t
talked in ages!”
“Yes, things seem so hectic these days,” Madge said. “But once you’re settled in and the children
start school, stop by and see us. Amos found the most cunning china hutch I
want to show you. I know how you like dark maple.”
Again, a cloud momentarily
passed over Molly’s face. How she wished she could just go out and purchase
something on a whim. But she firmly quashed the though
as she saw her friend to the door. “I will do that,” she said.
“Goodbye, then,” Madge said as she turned the
doorknob and walked on the dirt pathway.
“Until next time,” Molly said cheerfully. She
stepped back into the house and hollered up the stairwell. “Ginny! Ron! Come
help me with supper. The rest of you continue unpacking!”
“Mum!” said an outraged Percy as he descended two steps. “Look at what
they've done now!” He held up one of his tank tops, which was
covered with sprouting dandelions. “It’s my best one!”
Molly closed her eyes as Ginny and Ron ran passed
her. Ginny was barely suppressing a giggle and Ron was snickering in amusement.
“Fred and George!” Molly called. “What have
you done to your brother’s tank top?”
“Percy took all our Snake Sticks!” Fred grumped as
he peeked around the corner.
“Don’t worry, Perce,” George said. “The Zonko’s
package says it will be all right when the dandelions go to seed.”
As if on cue, two of the largest dandelions grew
white fuzz. Soon, dandelion seeds were floating through the air, creating a
soft, white cloud that settled in fluffy piles on the ground.
Molly shook her head and sighed at the mess. We’re back home all right, she thought
with a scowl.
While Molly was giving the twins
yet another lecture about tormenting their older brother, Arthur was walking
the corridors with a stack of books and parchment in his arms. He rounded a
corner heading back to his office and collided headlong into another wizard.
“Sorry,” Arthur said as he jabbed his wand at the
various pieces of parchment and the books. They soared through the air and
landed neatly in his outstretched arms. “I didn’t see you…” Arthur looked up at
the man he had bumped into and his apologetic smile turned into an ugly scowl.
“I was wondering when you would return to your
office,” Lucius Malfoy purred. “Do they actually pay you to visit everyone and
gossip all day? Then again, they don’t pay you much,
do they now? I guess I don’t have to worry too much about my hard-earned
Galleons going to waste.”
“Malfoy,” Arthur said smoothly, “the only
‘hard-earned Galleons’ you have ever made were earned through the blood of
Malfoy’s eyes narrowed and he smiled wolfishly at
the red-haired wizard. “Such astatement, coming
from you!” He tsked and shook his head.
“If the shoe fits…” Arthur turned from the blond
wizard and started down the hall.
“Indeed,” Malfoy said smoothly. “But I am stronger
than you and always will be. Those not afraid to use power will always rule
over those who fail to seize the advantage. You are weak, Weasley, and always
will be. You, and your whole family.”
Arthur froze. He then slowly turned to face the
blond wizard. A dark memory stirred, of Death Eaters, the night and events too
horrible to mention in the light of day.
“Look at your daughter,” Malfoy continued, a wolfish smile on his face.
“Your own flesh and blood seized a dark item and terrorized the school. So who
are you to judge me, Weasley? You and your family are not the pristine paragons
you pretend to be.”
Arthur felt his face grow hot. He whirled around and
stormed down the hall. He was almost running by the time he reached his office.
“Afternoon, Weasley…Weasley? What is it?” The
wizened head of Perkins looked over his stack of forms and papers and watched
as Arthur paced near his desk. Perkins nodded darkly. “I see you ran into Malfoy,”
he said. “No one else makes you pace like that. You shouldn’t let him bother
Arthur only muttered something unintelligible in
response. Perkins sighed and went back to the stack of parchment on his desk,
knowing that Arthur wouldn’t be communicative for at
least another half hour as the younger wizard blew off some steam.
Arthur’s mind, meanwhile, was racing. How much did
Malfoy really know? And how did he know…?
It then hit Arthur, and his eyes widened in shock.
That black book Ginny had, the enchanted book…how had she gotten it? Who would
have had such an item in his possession?
And those words. Arthur
remembered as if it were only yesterday…
stronger than you and always will be. Those not afraid to use power will always
rule over those who fail to seize the advantage.”
Malfoy had said nearly the exact same words just
Lucius Malfoy was responsible for the worst moment
of Arthur’s life. And he was behind the near-death of
his little girl. The red-haired wizard clenched his fists and felt his face
grow hot with rage.
Malfoy was behind it. But
what could he do? That was the most frustrating thing, Arthur realized in
anger. For Malfoy had deep pockets and the ear of the
And Arthur had just as much to lose as Malfoy did if
these things saw the light of day. The Daily
Prophet would have a field day with the scandal!
He was powerless.
Arthur was still fuming over what had happened when
he Apparated home later that evening. He stared at his front door a moment,
trying to collect his feelings. He did not want Molly to know about what he had
discovered, and he knew that if he went in upset, she would eventually wring
the truth from him. And the resulting scene would make
the incident with his car look mild in comparison.
In the distance, he could hear dogs barking. A
Muggle hunting party, he deduced. Strange, for this time of
day. But he ignored the cacophony and stepped
“Arthur, you’re home!” Molly announced the second
Arthur stepped inside. “Good! Dinner is almost ready, and
could you get my knitting bag from…Arthur? Is everything all right?”
“Everything’s fine, dear,” Arthur said with phony
cheeriness. He sniffed the air, which was heavy with the smell of oregano,
tomato sauce, garlic and bread. “Spaghetti?”
“Lasagna. And I better check on the
garlic bread before it burns.” Molly straightened her sauce-stained apron and
hovered over the stove.
“Where is your knitting?” Arthur asked as he headed
up the stairs.
“Where it always is, in the blue straw satchel,”
Molly said. “It’s next to the duffle bag in our room.”
Arthur nodded mutely and went up the stairs. He
acknowledged the “hellos” he received from his children with an absent nod and
a wave before going into his room and closing the door.
What will I do? Arthur thought bleakly as
he sat on the edge of the bed. A cool summer breeze from a half-opened window
blew softly around the room, playing with the wizard’s thinning hair. He
glanced in disinterest at the scattered papers, maps and souvenirs on the
floor, dumped from the two canvas bags lying empty near the closet. He made a
half-hearted mental note to ask Molly if the twins found a new, nosy pet.
He spied Molly’s knitting bag, just where she said
it would be. He leaned over to pick it up, but the handles snagged on the
duffle bag, so when he lifted the knitting, the bag overturned, and its
contents were spilled on the floor. Soon, spare sheets
of paper, novels, two pencils, an extra pair of leather sandals and several
small souvenirs added to the chaos of the room. Swearing, Arthur dropped the
knitting bag and impatiently started to clean up the mess. He was on his knees
as he tried to retrieve a small clear plastic globe with a piece of mummy’s
shroud within from underneath the bed when his right hand brushed against
something. Something large and heavy.
Arthur looked down and gasped. The
abraxas amulet. He had forgotten all about it!
Arthur groaned. It’s
going to cost a fortune to owl something like this back to Egypt, he
thought as he picked up the medallion. Then he stared at it, as if transfixed.
He sat on the edge of the bed, gazing at the abraxas, his eyes calculating.
Slowly, as if it
was reading his
mind, the moon and sun arose from the hands of the rooster-headed man.
A loud noise, then a rustling outside startled him
out of his thoughts. Puzzled, he looked outside and saw some of the low hedges
rustling. He peered closer, but couldn’t make out
Arthur didn’t want to take
any chances. He drew his wand, went outside the house and went to the back
garden, still clutching the medallion. He thought he heard voices coming from
“Fred? George? Is that you?”
Fred poked his head out the window of his room, with
George appearing next to him a few seconds later.
“Are you looking for us, Dad?” Fred asked.
Arthur, startled, looked up at his sons, who were
staring curiously at him, and then back to his workshop.
“No, sorry,” he said. “I thought I heard something,
and thought you were out here in my workshop.” He gave his sons a half-amused,
“No, not us,” Fred said.
“Not this time,” George added.
Arthur merely rolled his eyes and sighed. He took a
quick peek around his work shed, but saw nothing except a couple of garden
gnomes looking quizzically at him. Perhaps it was just them, he reflected. He
really should have more gnome repelling charms, but they could be so amusing!
He walked around the house,
until he was satisfied that he was the only one out there
him, except for the
ever-present gnomes. With a sigh and an exasperated shrug, Arthur went back
“Did you bring down my knitting?” Molly called from
Arthur flushed guiltily. He had forgotten.
“Sorry, I forgot,” he called back. “I’ll go back up
and get it.”
Even from the stairs, Arthur could hear his wife’s exasperated sigh. He
thought she muttered something about Arthur being no better than the children, but he wasn’t sure. Right then, he didn’t care. He closed the bedroom door, sat on the edge of
the bed and once again looked at the abraxas.
The medallion, which had gone cold and still as he
ventured outside, sprang back to life, and the rooster-headed man spun at a
“Urth. Verthandi. Skuld,” Arthur intoned. “I wish
to speak with the Three Sisters. I wish…”
Arthur got no further when the room evaporated from
around him and he was once again before the three women and the vast,
“So, you’ve come back,” said the second woman, her
fingers ever measuring out the lengths of silvery thread.
“As was expected,” said the first, her spindle in
“As was foreseen,” said the third woman, her
scissors in hand. “What do you want of us?” Snip. A
groan filled the air, and drifted away past the gate.
“My family is in danger,” Arthur said with no little
emotion. “There’s a man…”
“We cannot offer protection,” interrupted the first
“That was decided for you, years ago,” said the
“You have in your hands an amulet of power,” said
the third. “Not protection.”
“Then I want the power to protect my family,” Arthur
The three women laughed their dry, brittle cackle.
“You speak in circles,” said the first one, amused.
“That is not what you really want,” said the second
“What you want is deeper,” said the third. Snip. A piercing shriek filled the air, and Arthur covered
his ears. “What you want lies darker in your heart. You must speak the truth to
get what you wish. And we will know. We always know.”
The three women looked at him with their black,
soulless eyes. Then the third woman lowered her terrible scissors and held up
her other hand, her long fingers spread. A burst of blue fire appeared and
hovered over her palm.
<I>“So, he’s worried. I’d love to get Lucius Malfoy for something.” </I>
That was his voice coming from the flame, his words, spoken nearly a year ago!
<I>“We have a very different idea of what disgraces the name of wizard,
“What do you mean by this?” Arthur whispered. But he knew.
The women cackled.
“It’s what you want,” said the third.
“More than anything,” said the second.
Arthur broke eye contact and lowered his head. He
ran a hand through his red hair, deep in thought. But
a piercing scream, a very familiar scream, made him look up again.
The third woman now had three silvery threads
dancing in the palm of her hand within the blue flame, two longish ones and a
very short thread, merely a sliver. There was another scream, then shouting:
<I><CENTER>"Who are you? What are you doing
A sickening sizzling
sound, then high-pitched feminine screams. A baby’s cry joined the scream in a
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Please! Who are you?
What have we done?”
Another sizzling sound,
Arthur fell to his knees and put his hands over his
face as the three threads vanished.
“How do you know of these things?” Arthur whispered.
“We know all,” said the first woman.
“We watch all,” said the second.
“We hear all,” said the third as she cut a very
short thread. This time, there was no sound, and that filled Arthur’s heart
with more horror than the screams.
“Say what is in your heart,” said the first. “And
speak the truth.”
“We will know if you are less than honest,” said the
third. “We will not help you if you do not tell us.”
Still, Arthur hesitated. Could he really voice what
he wanted? Did he, even now, know what he wanted?
The three sisters whispered and cackled. Suddenly,
they threw up their arms and a brilliant white light exploded in front of them.
The crackling light made Arthur half-cover his eyes to shield them from its
Then he heard voices…
stronger than you and always will be.”
“Just when I
thought you could sink no lower…”
“Mr. and Mrs.
Weasley, I have grave news for you about your daughter. She is missing…”
baby, don’t say a word…”
The sounds grew louder and louder, and Arthur tried
to cover his ears to block out the horrible noise. To no
"Dear me, what's the use of being a
disgrace to the name of wizard if they don't even pay you well for it?"
“Ginny! Is she all right?”
“We are still investigating our options,
but I must be blunt…”
buy you a mocking bird…”
“You are a stain on our world, Weasley.”
“Merlin, no! Ginny! Not my little girl!”
“If that mocking bird
pitiful. You will never amount to anything.”
buy you a diamond ring…”
“Powerless against me…”
IT!” Arthur roared out. “STOP IT! STOP IT NOW!”
light disappeared with a loud pop, and all was silent. Gasping as if he had
been pulled from a deep, icy lake, he turned to face the Three Sisters, who
stared back at him, their faces expressionless.
A single tear ran down Arthur’s cheek. “I want to
get him,” he whispered. “I want to make Lucius Malfoy pay for what he has done
to me and my family!” His voice rose. “I want to make Malfoy regret ever
“You speak true,” said the second woman, a mocking
note in her voice.
“So you shall receive,” said the first.
“Let the gate be opened,” said the third. “The
ancients will walk again.”
A sound like a gong being struck
several times in succession reverberated around the room. Arthur gasped as the gate didn’t so much open as shatter apart. He
shielded his eyes from the sudden flashes of purple-white light, then looked at the gate again. Arthur’s
eyes widened in horror as he saw the dark, sinister shapes beyond the gate…
Arthur gasped as if he had just emerged from a deep
pool. He found himself in his room again, seated at the edge of the bed,
holding the now-still abraxas in his trembling hands. Someone rapped the door
“Arthur? It’s supper,” his
wife called. “Did you fall asleep in there?”
“Sorry,” Arthur said. “I dozed off. I’ll be right
“Well, hurry down, and don’t forget my knitting bag
Arthur grabbed the bag, but it took a few moments
for Arthur to keep his legs from shaking enough so he could stand. And as he descended the stair, one thought drummed over and
over through his conscious.
What have I
Back at Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore suddenly felt a
chill. He was in his office, making the final preparations for the beginning of
the school year. Fawkes, who had been napping on his
perch, opened his eyes and sang a low, worried note. The phoenix turned his
lovely red and golden head around the room, watchful.
Something was wrong, terribly wrong, Dumbledore
thought. Voldemort? No, it wasn’t
him, the headmaster almost immediately decided. This was new, foreign.
Dumbledore stepped over to his telescope and peered
through the eyepiece to look at the sunset sky. Nothing.
He went back over to his desk and Summoned his scrying pool, a small, golden bowl with three legs
supporting it. The headmaster peered inside and did a quick search of the
school and grounds. All was quiet. But he couldn’t
shake the unease he felt.
A rapping at the door interrupted Dumbledore’s
foreboding train of thought.
“Come in,” he called out pleasantly.
Argus Filch came into the office,
a small parcel tucked under one grubby arm. Mrs. Norris, ever by his side,
tiptoed in around the legs of Argus. Her fur was bristling, and her tail was
standing on end.
“What has frightened Mrs. Norris?” Dumbledore asked,
keeping his tone neutral.
“Dunno,” Filch said as he
looked down at his cat. “Never seen her carry on like this. And
you can hear Fang howling his fool head off outside. Course, that isn’t so unusual.” Filch chuckled.
“Anyway, here’s that parcel from the Ministry you’ve been expecting.” He handed
the box to Dumbledore, who looked at the seal and nodded.
“I’ve been waiting for this,” Dumbledore said as he
gingerly opened the parcel. He removed a maroon velveteen box from the
cardboard and paper. He held up the maroon box, scrutinizing it, then he opened the hinged lid and looked inside. He stared
fixedly at the necklace and pendant that lay within.
“What is it?” Filch asked, curious. He kept a
respectful distance from the desk, however. Mrs. Norris let out a howl.
Dumbledore picked up the chain and let the pendent
at the end hang loose. “This,” the headmaster said softly. “is
a Time-Turner. But this isn’t right…”
Filch disregarded etiquette at the sight of
Dumbledore’s alarmed expression and went around the desk, Mrs. Norris close
“What is it, Headmaster?” Filch asked, peering
curiously at the necklace.
Dumbledore held up the Time-Turner so Filch could
see it. It was small, with intricate bands of gold surrounding a small hourglass
filled with white sand. But no sand was running
through the hourglass, despite the fact that the headmaster held the pendant
upright. The white sand, in equal measures, was swirling around in circles in
both halves of the glass.
“Perhaps it’s broken,” Filch said. “Owl post ain’t the best way to send fragile stuff, I’ve always
“It’s not broken,” Dumbledore
said, his voice strained. “Something has altered it.”
“Altered it? Like what?”
“A rip in the fabric of time,” Dumbledore replied.
He studied the Time-Turner a moment more, then gently
placed it back into the velveteen box.
“A what?” Filch asked, his eyes wide.
Mrs. Norris clung to Filch’s trouser leg.
Dumbledore said. “Find Madam Pince, and tell her I’ll
be in the library. There’s something I need to look
up. If she’s not there herself, she’ll be outside
playing cricket with Flitwick, Sinistra and McGonagall. And see if you can find
Professor Binns and send him to the library to meet
said, and he walked out of the office, with Mrs. Norris clinging to his side,
her lantern-orange eyes wide.
Irma, I hope
your collection of ancient fables and legends is still on the shelves, Dumbledore thought as he
walked briskly down to the library. Because
I have an inkling they are going to prove very useful.
Harry Potter was walking through a misty gray space,
his shoes making no sound on the nondescript ground. Suddenly, he saw three
veiled women before a great gate appear before him out of the mist.
“Who are you?” Harry called out, his heart hammering
in his chest.
But the women didn’t answer.
They were engrossed in their individual tasks. One spun a length of silvery thread, one measured it out with long, practiced fingers.
The third, which Harry feared most of all, had a large pair of gold scissors.
She snipped a length of thread, and a hoarse yell echoed in the gray mist.
“Who are you?” Harry called again.
The three veiled women seemed to dissolve into the
mist before the boy’s puzzled eyes. Then, almost as if
in answer to his question, he heard what sounded like a gong, and part of the
enormous gate seemed to shatter. When Harry looked beyond the gate, he saw
dark, sinister shadows approaching.
“What are they?” Harry whispered. He started to step
closer to the gate, terrified and curious at the same time.
“What have I done?”
This new voice made Harry spin around, and his eyes
widened as he saw Arthur Weasley. Mr. Weasley was looking down at his hands
with a stricken look on his face.
“Mr. Weasley?” Harry called out. “What are they?”
Mr. Weasley did not seem to hear him. He was staring
fixedly at a large medallion in his hands, and he continued to mutter “What have I done? What have I done?”
A loud roar caused Harry to jump and whirl in
fright. He staggered backwards as an enormous crocodile loomed over him, toothy
jaws gaping, amber eyes glittering with carnivorous malice. Next to the
crocodile was a figure of a man with a black, dog-like head. This dog-headed
man stared at the boy with fiery eyes, then it spoke, and its voice was slow
“You are not supposed to be here, mortal!”
The crocodile roared again…
…And Harry sat bolt upright in his bed at the Leaky
Blimey, what a dream! Harry thought as he shivered all over. He tried to
piece things together, but as dreams usually do, the details already were
starting to fade away.
Sighing, Harry flopped back onto the pillows and
tried to go back to sleep. Perhaps it was
nothing, he thought. Perhaps I need
to watch the turtle fudge sundaes at Fortescue’s
before bedtime. Harry’s thoughts soon drifted off into the nothingness of
Arthur Weasley reported to the Ministry after a
restless night’s sleep to find the place a beehive of activity. Wizards and
witches were scurrying about, occasionally stopping to talk to one another in
“Bode!” Arthur called out to a tall, solemn-looking
man with sallow skin and drab-colored robes. “Bode! I say, Bode! What’s going on? What’s all the fuss?”
Boderick Bode, the only one who
seemed reasonably calm in the chaos, turned his thin face in Arthur’s
“Weasley,” Bode said, a
worried look in his usually mask-like face.
“What is it?” Arthur said as he looked around at the
frenzied activity. “I feel like I’ve stepped in a
nest that's been upset by a crup.”
“That is precisely what we are trying to find out,”
said Bode. “At exactly
7:04 p.m. last
night, strange things began to happen. Those who work with the Time-Turners
noticed that the devices all stopped spinning, and now none of them are working
correctly. The regular hourglasses and clocks also stopped and acted strangely
at the same time, but returned to normal after about twenty minutes or so.”
“Very strange,” said Arthur as lightly as possible. But his blood ran cold. It was about
7 p.m. last
night when he had used the abraxas. Could the two events be
“The Time-Turners still aren’t working properly,”
Bode said. “We’ve had two wizards disappear after they tried to test them in an
attempt to see what was wrong. We still haven’t been able to find them.”
“Who?” Arthur said. “Who is
“Brown and Copperton,”
Bode said gravely. “Brown just started a month ago.”
Arthur groaned and ran a hand over his face.
“Where’s the Minister? What has he been doing?”
“After the incident with the Potter boy, Fudge had
decided to take a couple of days off to visit relatives in Cheltenham. Needless
to say, he’s cutting his leave short and should be here at any moment. I
haven’t seen this place so upside-down since the news of Black’s escape.”
Arthur nodded absently. Molly had told him about the
“Potter incident” and Black’s breaking out of Azkaban.
“Say, do you think the two could be related?” Arthur
proposed uneasily. “I mean, Black was supposed to be You-Know-Who’s biggest
supporter, and that family of his had some powerful Dark wizards.”
Bode shrugged. “I confess,
that never crossed my mind. But I doubt it. I don’t
see how any one wizard could be responsible for all of this,” he gestured
towards the frantic activity, “and the curious sightings being reported all
over the United Kingdom.”
“Sightings? What kind of sightings?”
“Strange creatures lurking about,” Bode answered.
“Wizards have owled in saying they are seeing all
manner of strange half-man, half-beast creatures roaming the earth. A witch in Dartmoor reported seeing a crocodile
about sixteen feet long or more.”
“Perhaps the animal had escaped from one of the
zoos,” Arthur said. He ran a hand nervously through his red hair.
“That’s what we thought at first,” Bode said. “But
firstly, the crocodile simply vanished without a trace before the witch’s eyes.
Secondly, Perkins checked all the zoos. None are missing a crocodile, and none
have one that monstrous anyway.”
Something danced at the edges of Arthur’s memory,
but he couldn’t quite place it. Still, he shivered
A paper airplane swooped down towards Bode, who
reached up and caught it. The paper unfolded in his hands, and the Unspeakable
quickly scanned the writing.
“There’s been another sighting,” Bode said. “A
family out picnicking said they saw a hawk-headed man and a half-bird,
half-female creature, near Brighton.” Bode ran down the corridor towards the
Arthur pressed his way through the throngs of
wizards and made his way to his office.
“Weasley!” Perkins greeted him. He was
at his desk, sorting through stacks of paperwork. “Have you heard?”
“Bode just filled me in,” Arthur said as he walked
past the ancient wizard. “Blimey, it sounds like it’s been a morning.”
“The Unspeakables have
been working around the clock,” Perkins said as he returned to his piles of
paper. “All of this came in just this morning, sightings of strange creatures.”
He gestured to the enormous stack on his desk. “No one knows what’s going on!”
Arthur grabbed the copy of
<I>The Daily Prophet </I> on his desk. The top story
made him pause and catch his breath.
“Perkins, did you know about this?” Arthur held up
The older wizard nodded. “Lucius Malfoy was arrested
first thing this morning,” Perkins said as he started writing some hasty notes
on a spare bit of parchment paper. “I hear his former house-elf came forward
with some serious allegations about some of the doings at Hogwarts last year.”
“They arrested Malfoy on the word of a house-elf?”
Arthur asked, his brows knit in puzzlement.
“No, no,” Perkins said. “Heaven knows wizards aren’t
that open-minded. But too many things added up, so a
group of Aurors went to have a chat with Malfoy last
night and found much of what the house-elf said was true. They confiscated all
sorts of dark items, Medusa’s Lock, Punjab lassos, candles made of Devilsfoot Root, a hexed crystal ball, you
name it. Now people are coming out of the woodwork to make allegations against
Malfoy. Scrimgeour says that the Medusa’s Lock alone
will earn Malfoy at least five years in Azkaban, and that’s if the
feeling generous.” Perkins nodded in satisfaction.
Arthur’s blood ran cold. Instead of feeling elated,
he felt…uneasy. But why? he
thought. The Malfoys and the Weasleys
have been enemies for centuries. He had always wanted to get Malfoy. But he felt no satisfaction in hearing about Malfoy’s
“His wife and child?” Arthur asked.
“Doesn’t say,” Perkins said. He looked over one note
and tossed it in the dustbin in disgust. “Get these every year, some prankster
claiming he’s spotted a UFO.” He turned back to Arthur. “The whole Manor is
under Ministry control. Aurors are still inspecting
it. Hear many wizards are clamoring for monetary compensation from Malfoy,
alleging fraud and injuries. Have a feeling Malfoy’s going to be out quite a
few Galleons by the time this all settles, oh yes.” Perkins gave another nod of
grim satisfaction, not noticing the queasy look on Arthur’s face as the
red-haired wizard went into his office and shut the door.
of Chapter 2 </CENTER>