The Sugar Quill
Author: Madaline Fabray  Story: The Infinity Gate  Chapter: Chapter 2. The Sands of Time Swirled
Next Chapter
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

2

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 faces faltered.

 

“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 he do?”

 

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!”

 

 

“He'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 and Ron.

 

BOYSBoys!” 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!”

 

“Yes, Mum.”

 

“All right, Mum.”

 

“Sorry, Mum!”

 

“I told you so! You can sweep up the ash yourself!”

 

“But don’t sweep up the colored stones! That’s the fun!”

 

“Really! I don’t believe you…get out of there! That’s my box for my Head Boy…”

 

“BOYS!” Molly shouted in exasperation.

 

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 they?”

 

“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 thatthat the Nimbus! She 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 late.”

 

Both witches stood up, and Madge collected her handbag.

 

“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 thought 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.

 

<CENTER>****</CENTER>

 

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 others.”

 

Malfoy’s eyes narrowed and he smiled wolfishly at the red-haired wizard. “Such a statement, 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 you so!”

 

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?

 

Who, indeed.

 

And those words. Arthur remembered as if it were only yesterday…

 

“We are 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 now.

 

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 Minister.

 

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 inside.

 

“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 were 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 anything.

 

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 his workshop.

 

“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, half-stern glance.

 

“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 inside.

 

“Did you bring down my knitting?” Molly called from the kitchen.

 

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 dizzying speed.

 

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, crystalline gate.

 

“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 constant motion.

 

“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 woman.

 

“That was decided for you, years ago,” said the second.

 

“You have in your hands an amulet of power,” said the third. “Not protection.”

 

“Then I want the power to protect my family,” Arthur said.

 

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 one.

 

 

“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>

 

Arthur’s eyes buggedgrew wide in horror. 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, Malfoy.”</I>

 

“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 here?"

 

A sickening sizzling sound, then high-pitched feminine screams. A baby’s cry joined the scream in a horrifying counterpoint.

 

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Please! Who are you? What have we done?”

 

Another sizzling sound, then silence</I></CENTER>

 

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 dazzling intensity.

 

Then he heard voices…

 

“We are 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…”

 

“Hush, little 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 avail.

 

"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…”

 

“Mamma’s gonna buy you a mocking bird…”

 

“You are a stain on our world, Weasley.”

 

“Merlin, no! Ginny! Not my little girl!”

 

“If that mocking bird don’t sing…”

 

“Absolutely pitiful. You will never amount to anything.”

 

“GINNY!”

 

“Mamma’s gonna buy you a diamond ring…”

 

“A disgrace.”

 

“Powerless against me…”

 

“STOP IT!” Arthur roared out. “STOP IT! STOP IT NOW!”

 

The 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 crossing me!”

 

“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?”

 

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 again.

 

“Arthur? It’s supper,” his wife called. “Did you fall asleep in there?”

 

“Sorry,” Arthur said. “I dozed off. I’ll be right down.”

 

“Well, hurry down, and don’t forget my knitting bag this time.”

 

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 done?

 

<CENTER>****</CENTER>

 

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 behind.

 

“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 said.”

 

“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.

 

 “Filch,” 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 me.”

 

“Yes, headmasterHeadmaster,” Filch 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.

 

<CENTER>****</CENTER>

 

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 and terrible:

 

“You are not supposed to be here, mortal!”

 

The crocodile roared again…

 

…And Harry sat bolt upright in his bed at the Leaky Cauldron.

 

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 sleep.

 

<CENTER>****</CENTER>

 

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 excited whispers.

 

“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 direction.

 

“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 Bbillywig’s 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.seven-oh-four 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 seven p.m. last night when he had used the abraxas. Could the two events be related?

 

“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 missing?”

 

“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 involuntarily.

 

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 exit.

 

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 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 paper.

 

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 and disbelief.

 

“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 Wizangamot Wizengamot is 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 arrest.

 

“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.

 

<CENTER>End of Chapter 2</CENTER>

//
Write a review! PLEASE NOTE: The purpose of reviewing a story or piece of art at the Sugar Quill is to provide comments that will be useful to the author/artist. We encourage you to put a bit of thought into your review before posting. Please be thoughtful and considerate, even if you have legitimate criticism of a story or artwork. (You may click here to read other reviews of this work).
* = Required fields
*Sugar Quill Forums username:
*Sugar Quill Forums password:
If you do not have a Sugar Quill Forums username, please register. Bear in mind that it may take up to 72 hours for your account to be approved. Thank you for your patience!
*Comment:
The Sugar Quill was created by Zsenya and Arabella. For questions, please send us an Owl!

-- Powered by SQ3 : Coded by David : Design by James --