22 November 2015

Significant Digits, Chapter Thirty: Ekkyklema





Significant Digits, Chapter Thirty: Ekkyklema



The word 'galaxy' is derived from the Greek word galaxias which means "milky", it is a reference to our own galaxy the Milky Way.

There are potentially more than 170 billion galaxies in the observable universe. Some, called dwarf galaxies, are very small with about 10 million stars, while others are huge containing an estimated 100 trillion stars.

- From Fun Galaxy Facts for Kids, Science Kids


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Buddha told a parable in sutra:

A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.

Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!


≡≡≡Ω≡≡≡


Harry, Hermione, and Draco sat at the meeting table.  Harry and Hermione sat on one side, and Draco on the other.  The aurors left.  The three were alone.

It was quiet for a long time, as they looked at each other.  Each of them scrutinized the others, openly and calmly.  It seemed to Harry like it lasted for minutes on end.  There was time to notice everything, even in this familiar room.  The texture of the stones.  The smooth wood of the table.  Even the slight angles to the walls which made it into a gentle trapezoid, to suit the triangular shape of the Tower itself.

Draco Malfoy: cold and elegant, managing deception with an ironic smirk on his face.  Hermione Granger: beautiful and powerful, so fiercely passionate and intelligent that her strength seemed almost superfluous.  And Harry himself, who did his best to follow the truth wherever it led.

They looked at each other, old enemies and old friends.  A wordless... something hung in the air.  Not tension, but a heaviness, as though the very air were weary.

Finally, Hermione got out of her seat, her chair scraping the floor.  She walked over to the wall of the room, and placed both hands on it.  Gently, she leaned her head forward until it rested against the stone.  She stood motionless for a moment, then turned her head until her cheek lay against the wall and Harry could see her eyes once more.  She stared distantly at nothing -- at memories.

“I’m not sure what to do.  Or what to feel,” she said.  Her voice was so quiet that Harry could barely hear her.  “It’s not your fault -- either of you.  You can’t help it, and you can’t really be blamed.  It doesn’t seem fair to blame you.”

“Granger,” said Draco, softly.

“I’ve really tried, though.  I gave Harry the opportunity to tell me.  I mean, my god, it’s been a week, only a week since he admitted about going easy on you, Draco.  He admitted to exactly as much as he thought he needed to admit, and nothing else.  He didn’t say anything about working with you or Alastor -- oh, Merlin, Alastor!  He never said anything, either.  Another person who didn’t think I could handle it.”  She rocked her head in place, shaking it, and closed her eyes.  Then she barked a short, bitter laugh.  “Ha!  And to think, he and I had a conversation last year about what we’d do if someone Imperiused you, Harry -- what we’d do if you’d actually already been turned by someone in Draco’s group.  Alastor said,  ‘I think I’d know.’ ”  She laughed again, and it was an ugly sound.  “How little you three must think of me!”  She opened her eyes again, and pushed away from the wall, turning back around to face Harry and Draco once more.  “Or are there more?” she asked.  “How big is this confederacy of dunces?”

Harry glanced over at Draco, eyebrows raised.  Draco nodded.  Harry turned back to Hermione, and said with an even voice, “Four people.  Four people thought of this plan.”

“How did--” said Draco, but Hermione interrupted him.

“How did I figure out that you two were working together from the start?  That the break between you was a hoax -- a trick you were playing on all the dupes?” she asked, her voice harsh.

Draco nodded.  He’d grown into his features over the years, and the sharp lines of his face had resolved into the lean masculine edge of maturity, Harry noticed.  It gave him a solemn air, well beyond his years, as he watched Hermione with a calm and steady gaze.

“Boston,” she snapped.  “The body of Tarleton Gest -- and by the way, Draco, ‘Tarleton’ and ‘Kemp?’  Why would you advertise that your spies were actors?  It was blind luck that no one else with a decent education noticed that.”

Draco set both palms on the head of his cane, setting it between his legs and examining it with detachment.  “Tarleton is not an uncommon name, and there are remarkably few walking encyclopedias on staff at the Council of Westphalia.  And anyway, Django and Terrence were first-level spies.  If no one ever figures out you’re spying, after all, then you aren’t any sort of threat.  We needed to get them out of there, and we needed some blood for credibility.”

Hermione leaned back against the wall, and closed her eyes again.  “I just wish… I don’t even know what I wish.  It looks like your plan worked.  There’s a room full of people out there, and a world of wizards beyond, who have been fooled.  Most of them think you two have been enemies.  Some of them will probably figure out that Harry deliberately permitted the Honourable to centralize his opposition, and they’ll think they’re the clever ones who see the real truth.  A small few might put two and two together and deduce that Alastor was Amycus Carrow from the start -- or whatever other fallback deception you’ve arranged for them, to preserve the ultimate secret.  Maybe I’m missing one… maybe there are more levels beyond that.  There was redundancy upon redundancy, and it all worked.”

Sacrifices need to be made, sometimes, thought Harry.  Sometimes we must sacrifice precious things, like our trust in our friends.

“There was another one beyond that, in case Draco or I or both of us were taken out of the picture,” said Harry.  “A last failsafe.”

Hermione laughed again.  It was soft and sad.  “You figured out every little thing.  And the world will be better for it.  People will be saved.  It doesn’t matter that you didn’t trust me, either of you.”  She opened her eyes again, and looked at Harry.  “And that’s what you’re thinking, right?  You’re thinking that my feelings don’t matter even a tiny little bit, not when compared to anyone’s life -- not when compared to the lives of entire nations.  And you’re right about that, too.”

That wasn’t what Harry was thinking.

“You’re not selfish, Hermione,” he said.  “You’re… you’ve… you’ve given more to the world than any of us.  You’ve sacrificed…”  Your phoenix.  Your life.  More.

She paused at that, and her mouth tightened.  “I don’t know.  Life isn’t a play, and it’s not fair.  I’m just hurt, but what does it matter when such big things are going around?  I just thought… to be honest, I just thought I was right.”  She looked from Harry to Draco, her eyes wet and her mouth sharp with self-disgust.  “When Voldemort almost returned, a lot of pain and loss happened because Harry didn’t trust Headmaster Dumbledore.  Your father, Draco, and so many other people.”  Draco flinched a bit at that, breaking his cool demeanour for a moment, but she was already staring at Harry again.  “I might not have died, if you’d trusted the Headmaster more.  Or trusted me more.”  Despite her words, her voice was quiet and calm.  “And I thought you’d learned from that.  Learned from Azkaban, when you let me go.  Let me try.”

“I did,” said Harry, plaintively.  “And--”

“But all you learned was that you had to be more clever.  Had to think harder and prepare more and be more creative.  So when it came time to create a plan to save the world, you left me out of it.  I’m not a good actress, or some other perfectly reasonable thing, right?  I just… I don’t know why I feel this way, all confused.  I’m fine with it and outraged at the same time, and it’s just…”  She sighed, and sank down, back sliding down the stone.

“Hermione,” said Draco, rising to his feet.  He walked over to her with three quick strides.  His cane fell to the floor behind him, silver head clanging against the stone, but he ignored it.  In a moment, he was on his knees beside her, pulling her to him in a tight hug.  “Stop.”  He darted a quick look at Harry, and his face was a command.  “Do it, Harry.”

But Harry already had his wand out.  “You’re right, Hermione.  I did learn to be more clever,” he said.  “And I learned trusting you is the clever thing to do.  Eunoe.



≡≡≡Ω≡≡≡


The doorway was mostly blocked by the remains of the Thief’s Downfall trough, which had been broken free of its pins on one side.  The large brass tray had swung down at an angle, and was currently pouring out its contents in a never-ending torrent on the floor.  The enchanted liquid soaked Harry’s shoes and socks as he edged past.

Once inside, he took a good look around and sighed.  The Tower was a ruin.  All the windows were broken, two walls had been melted into thick pools of cooled slag, and half of the roof had caved in.  The golems had been smashed until barely anything remained; Harry could see the palm of a scorched clay hand, clipped of fingers and dismembered from its wrist, flopping in an aimless and pathetic circle.
It was breezy and fresh.  The open air had swept away most of the stink of fire.

Draco and Hermione were already there.  They had their wands out, and the clear area around them revealed that they were cleaning up some of the mess.  Or had been, anyway.

“I don’t know the spell, and wouldn’t cast it if I did,” Hermione was saying.  “It’s a dark curse and it requires a permanent sacrifice.  I just… I’m not about to start boiling off my blood, okay?”

“Granger,” said Draco, shaking his head and rolling his eyes, “we don’t even know if you’d really lose that blood.  You’ll probably just regenerate it.  And if you did, you have plenty to spare.  You’ll be fine.”

“I’m not going to do it, so you can forget it,” the young witch replied.

“What’s the matter?” asked Harry.  Draco just glanced over, but Hermione started violently at the sudden noise.  “Sorry,” said Harry, frowning at his own lack of consideration.  She was… delicate since she’d come back this second time, and he needed to be more careful.

“The walls are all melted here from the Fiendfyre, and we can’t clean it up.  Most spells don’t affect the stone of Hogwarts, thanks to the doughty enchantments of Salazar Slytherin,” said Draco, gesturing at a knee-high piece of stone that sat in a twisted, smooth lump along one of the edges of the room.  “That seems to be true even after the stuff has already been melted.”

“Just… let’s not worry about it for now,” Harry said.  He felt exhausted, and his mouth tasted foul.  That was from the adrenaline, he knew.  That bitter taste that had tingled his tongue at the moment of crisis, when fire fought fire, and which left a nasty tang long after it had passed.

He walked over to the lump of stone and stared at it for a long moment, and then sat down on it, gingerly.  “So we’re not going to rebuild.  Not like the way it was before.  Not without safeguards on an entirely different scale.”

Hermione touched her wand to a half-burnt piece of wood -- the remains of a table, perhaps -- and it slid fluidly into the form of a new and shiny metal stool.  She sat on it.

Draco did not sit.  He stared at the ragged remains of one wall which studded the edge of the room with ruined blobs of stone like rotten teeth.

They all thought for five minutes.

“Artifacts of power are the key, I think,” said Draco.  “Father once spent a full year trying to bribe his way to the last of Satomi’s Dogs -- the one Grindelwald didn’t get, that they have in Cyprus.”

“It’s probably not really in Cyprus,” Harry reflected.  “Madame Bones says that Cyprus and Cappadocia go to war every hour, on the hour.  And it does seem like they’re always bristling at one insult or another, and threatening to attack.  You’d think they’d have learned after the sixth or seventh war that they were wasting time, money, and lives, but… nope.  Politics is insane and is never going to make any sense to me.”

“Some sort of device, though,” said Hermione.  “There are legends about things like the Arch of Ulak Unconquered, or that goblet that they used to use for the Triwizard Tournament, back when they still did that.  Or there was another goblet that was even more powerful, I think.  I’ll have to check Undoubted Redoubtables.”  Harry gave her a worried glance at this -- she seldom needed to double-check her recollections, was this a problem with her new body? -- but she was already moving on.  “With the Interdict ensuring that uncommon or powerful spells are gradually lost over time, any old device is usually going to be pretty impressive in our eyes -- able to beat out any modern wizard’s best efforts.  If we got our hands on the Arch, then we wouldn’t even need to worry.  Those sorts of devices are… elemental forces.”

“Even the greatest artifact can be defeated by a counter-artifact that is lesser, but specialized,” said Harry, echoing Voldemort’s words from last year.  “Not that you’re wrong about any of that, of course -- and there is one thing we particularly need, I think, if we’re ever going to rescue the Headmaster -- but it’s not sufficient.  We need to try to ensure that we control everything… not just every aspect of security, but every aspect of our attackers, too.”

“You’re talking about putting someone out there to take charge of the opposition,” said Hermione, looking over at him and frowning.  “That way we’d really be in charge of attacks like…”  She trailed off, looking back at the blasted remains of the Tower.

Draco scuffed the toe of his boot along the stone near his foot, where the heat had rendered it into glassy ripples.  It made a scraping sound.  He said nothing.

“It would mean that we wouldn’t need to worry so much.  We could concentrate on the real villains -- the people who want to hurt others.  Not the people who…”  He paused.  He needed to talk around the fate of Draco’s father.  He hadn’t yet fulfilled that promise to Draco, and he knew the topic would still be raw.  Maybe for years, it would be raw.  “Not the decent but misguided people,” he finished lamely.

“So we tame a bad guy, hope we have him under control, and let his organization grow?  I’m not so sure about this mujahadeen you’re planning,” Hermione said, still frowning.  “What about epistemic closure?  We’re already planning on taking control of the government--”

“And fixing the problems of representation!” interrupted Harry, raising a finger in objection to her summary.

“Yes, I know, and I accept the necessity of it, since it would be willful blindness to ignore the realities of the political puppet show and pretend the system works, but that doesn’t mean I’m really comfortable with our little First Triumvirate, Gaius Julius Potter,” retorted Hermione.  She shook her head.  “But the actual competition of ideas is important in a country.  If we’re running things, and we’re also running the main opposition, then how are we ever going to recognize when we’re making serious mistakes?  And that’s just assuming this won’t backfire on us… we could wind up empowering a real threat.”

“Only we will know about it,” said Harry.  “It won’t be a fake opposition movement.  It’ll be a real opposition movement… but just one that we control.  Ideas will still be exchanged, compete, and evolve.  We won’t get in the way of--”

“I read The Selfish Gene, don’t explain it to me.  Hush,” said Hermione.  She looked up at Draco.  “You know what we’re all thinking, Draco.  What Harry--” and she shot him a look “--isn’t actually asking, since he’s waiting for you to volunteer.”

“I am the obvious choice to lead the opposition,” said Draco, quietly.  He scuffed at the stone underfoot again.  “Son of a blood purist and last scion of a great house.  Son of a Death Eater.  The ‘Silver Slytherin’ who uses both science and magic.  A Slytherin raised by one of the greatest leaders in wizarding history… whose widow hates the Tower and writes scathing letters to The Prophet.”  He turned to Hermione and shook his head.  “This isn’t fair.  It’s so… I mean, it’s obvious.  It’s like... “  He hesitated.  “I feel like I’ve been shaped for this, honestly.  Made for this.  But I don’t know if that’s… good.  Or right.”

“You never saw yourself as the opposition,” said Harry.  “No one ever does.  Everyone is the hero of their own story.”  He sighed.  “But people will believe it.  They’ll believe that story without blinking an eye.  It’s hard to go too over the top with these sorts of things, I’ve heard.”

“No, that’s not what I mean,” said Draco.  “It’s that… Imagine that you were a piece of metal, and someone used the Simpleshape Charm to make you into a knife.  And you always thought you were going to be used to cut something.  You thought you needed to cut… that it was the only thing to do.  That you owed it to your family.  You’re a knife.  You cut.  But then, somewhere along the line, you realize that a knife can do a lot of things.  You can pry a cork out of a bottle, or scrape a bicorn hide, or…” He gestured vaguely.  “Or… whatever.”

Hermione reached out with her foot, and kicked lightly against the side of his boot.  A small gesture.  I’m here, it’s okay, it said.

Draco went on after a moment.  “So if after all that, one day you decided to go ahead and cut…”  He shrugged.  “It feels… like I wouldn’t be doing the right thing.  Somehow.”

“Then we don’t do it,” said Harry.  “We’ll figure something else out.”

“As simple as that?” asked Hermione, raising her eyebrows and looking back over at him.

“As simple as that,” he said, shrugging.  And he meant it.  It had taken a long time, but at some point he’d realized that it wasn’t a good idea to use your friends without their knowledge or full consent.  Or, at least, that Harry just wasn’t smart enough to do that, even if it could be twisted into seeming ethical.  It was hard enough to figure out anyone’s real preferences, much less ignore them in favor of their hypothetical future preferences.

“No,” said Draco.  “It’s a good idea.  And if it’s done properly, it will be an idea worthy of any Malfoy.  Leading half the country… no, leading half the world…”  He sounded thoughtful, and Harry could already hear the possibilities tumbling through the blond boy’s head.

(And despite everything he’d vowed to himself over and over, Harry realized that he’d been as persuasive as possible in this conversation, even choosing the right moment to back off and let Draco have the room to feel comfortable asserting his own choice, almost subconsciously using his estimates of Draco’s thought processes to influence the results of his friend’s decision, even taking into account that Draco was a clever plotter on par with anyone living and that he had pride in that fact, and he wondered if it was okay to use a tool of the dark arts of rationality to make someone change their mind if it was for the greater good, and Harry felt his stomach sink as he seized the thought and crushed it with a fierce rejection, deciding to himself that this was a Voldemort thought and that he wasn’t going to do that sort of thing because it was stupid and that his dark side was the transfer of the mental habits of a very clever fully-grown sociopath and he had no particular need for an evil black box inside of his head and he was done with it and that was that.  So there.)

“Wait, Draco,” he said, quickly.  “Think it through.  You were right… you can do anything you want.  You can keep putting together the Science Program.  You can go into the Wizengamot and take your father’s seat.  You can do -- literally -- anything you want to do.”

“No,” said Draco.  And a small smile touched his lips.  “I am the knife.  And it will be a grand thing… to cut.”  He turned and took a quick step to the edge of the room, and stood there, staring off into the distance.  The sunlight cut him into a profile against the sky, and there was enough breeze to gently stir the single strand of hair artfully brushing his brow.

Hermione snorted with laughter.

“You are absurd,” she said.  “I am going to deliberately erase the last thirty seconds of my memory, because I cannot possibly reward this level of grandstanding.”  She threw a splinter of wood at him, and he batted it away with his palm.  “Actually,” she added, “that’s not a bad idea.”


≡≡≡Ω≡≡≡


“Well,” Hermione said.  “I feel like an ass.”

“A perfectly reasonable reaction,” agreed Harry, cheerfully, as he put away his wand.

“On the other hand, you are also an ass, and so is Draco, for letting me embarrass myself,” mused Hermione.  “So there’s that.”  She paused.  “This is… wow, this is terrible.  I don’t know how I feel about anything.”  She grimaced, and clenched her eyes shut, leaning forward slightly from her position at the foot of the wall.  Draco, who still had his arms around her, settled back and let her go.  He pushed himself back off of his knees, sitting down next to her, but giving her a little space.

“Hermione... “ said Harry, acutely aware that they had the gathered magical powers of the whole world waiting on the results of this conference in a room that was too small, didn’t have much room for chairs, and was just generally making a bad impression.

Draco gave him a short, sharp shake of the head.  Taking the hint, Harry quieted.  This was a lot to understand.  Locked memories couldn’t be accessed in any way, but that didn’t mean that they didn’t happen.  The events that occurred left an impression on the person who experienced them, and that impression wasn’t affected.  And that person’s life didn’t stop… new memories and impressions accumulated and continued to shape their personality and their internal idea of themselves.  To suddenly reach deep into that person’s memory and unleash the hidden past… well, they would have to try to reprocess everything that had happened.

“All right,” she said, after a while.  She put a hand on Draco’s shoulder and squeezed, and pushed herself to her feet.  “So how is this going to work?  You two are going to come to a tentative and difficult agreement on ending the conflict, and consolidate everyone behind you?  I guess Draco will go to Russia and Cappadocia and the lot, and say that he needs them to commit to supporting any deal, so he can ‘bargain’ with a stronger hand?”  She sounded remarkably steady, all things considering, and if she was angry at either of them, it looked like she had set it aside for the moment.

“Yes,” said Harry, quietly.  Hermione walked back to the table, and Draco followed.  They sat back down.  They looked at each other, old enemies and old friends.

“We’ll decide how to spook them, and get them to agree,” continued Harry.  “They’ll help us out in that regard… they want to appear strong to the world and save face, so anything we do to frighten them is something they’ll work to keep quiet.  On another level, we’ll do some clumsy bribery of a few reliably corrupt politicians… these bribes won’t work since those sorts of folks won’t stay ‘bought’ -- but both things working together should be enough to put Draco in solid command.”

“Levels and levels,” said Hermione.  “And so… what will eventually happen, as this detente is sorted?  Will you two just be in charge of the Tower together… power sharing?  Or will Draco take over the government, to have another pole of power?  We haven’t talked about it, but I just assume that you have some sort of convoluted plan, worked out to the nth degree, where Draco and you continue to ‘fight’ each other with minor intrigues?”

Draco picked his cane up from the ground.  He stared down at the head of it -- a silver snake.  “Do we even want to do that?  Shouldn’t we be trying to change things… with more ambition?”

“That’s up to you two, really,” said Harry, “and it’s not something we have to decide today.  We have weeks of peace negotiations to plan that out.”  He smiled weakly.  “I haven’t decided what I want to do, yet.  I wasn’t sure at all how this would go, today.  Honestly, I thought that we would have missed something.”  He rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands, sighing.  “And you were right in a lot of ways, last week, Hermione.  When you yelled at me and broke my table.  I should have told you before now… I shouldn’t have stuck to the plan and waited until now.”

If someone is your full partner, you don’t use a grand strategy that leaves them in the dark.  That’s what you do with subordinates.

“Our office has determined that by far the largest vulnerability, flaw, or weakness in the Tower continues to be the reliance on a single figurehead and leader, Harry Potter-Evans-Verres.”

Somehow, he’d never altered the curve of any of these patterns.  Draco, Hermione, optimization… even as he grew and matured and learned, everything kept taking the same shape.

“I don’t think I should be in charge anymore,” he said, and his voice was even quieter.  “I think -- whatever we do -- we should bring in more people.  Bones, Moody, or maybe Luna.”  Glancing at Draco, he added, “Or Shacklebolt or Goyle… I know they’ve done well and true over these past few years.  It was a fine line to walk -- being the bad guys without being bad -- but they never seemed to stumble.”

“A conspiracy.  We’ll need menacing hoods,” said Draco.  He said it calmly and seriously, and it brought back such memories that Harry had to blink hard to keep the tears from his eyes.  “But you were right before, Harry.  We don’t need to decide anything now.  We probably shouldn’t.  There will be enough planning just to work out the peace process so that we can bring everyone together into one organization.”  

“Well,” said Harry, smiling now even though his eyes were burning.  “I guess I agree.”

So many years now of being in charge of everything, and working with Hermione while never letting her get at the deepest levels of planning, and not being able to ask either of them about things… all those years gone by, and now maybe it will be like it was.  You can never go back again -- not really -- but there’s no reason we can’t find that same… rhythm.  That same pattern of working together.

There was a time when nothing hurt and everything was possible.  When the dark shape of that black arc that cut through his life seemed like it was fading under the twin lights of a bright sun and brilliant moon.  When Harry and Hermione and Draco had been determined to forge a new world together, and all the darkness and madness seemed to have faded away.

He wasn’t sure exactly when he knew it wasn’t going to be so simple.  Maybe he’d always known it, from the moment he’d sat with shocked adults in the Headmaster’s office and read a pair of letters written by the wisest man he’d ever known.  It’s easy to make big plans, especially when it seems like you’ve got your finger on the pulse of the world, but it just takes one errant element to bring the whole machine to a crashing halt.

But that long game of balancing was over.  It had been…

Oh.

Harry remembered what he and Hermione had noticed yesterday.  He smiled again, and now the tears were running down his cheeks.  “Hermione, it’s Walpurgisnacht.  The whole damn thing is going to be finished, and it’s been almost exactly six years.  The world will be… we’ve done it.  We’ve done it.  In six years, we’ve done it.  That’s…”

“Poetic,” said Draco.  “Like a play.”

“Life isn’t like a play,” said Harry.

“Sometimes it is,” said Hermione.

Sometimes it is.


≡≡≡Ω≡≡≡


Security at Hogwarts and at the Tower was at a higher alert than it had ever been.  There were seven layers of security and no fewer than three groups overseeing them.  Leaders or adjutants of some of the most powerful countries and organizations in the magical world were here, representing a gathering of power unmatched since the Sontag Summit of 1939.  Yet by unspoken agreement, there were few intrigues.  Everyone -- from neonate healer to veteran counselor -- knew that too much hung in the balance.  The Honourable and the Tower were meeting for the first time in years, and if anything disturbed their efforts at peace… well, the entire globe could pay in years of blood.

The powerful of the world stood and chatted and hoped.  Some handful prayed.

But despite all the tension and all the security -- or maybe because of it -- when the enemy began arriving in the Receiving Room, shrugging off the stunning effects of Safety Pole and Safety Stick, no one was ready.  Haggard and vicious men appeared, clad in rags of black, and began to kill.  Anyone.  Everyone.

No one was ready for the wild woman who arrived by some unknown spell of staggering puissance -- a chariot of fire, that erupted into being in the center of the room.  She shrieked with hellish laughter as she began casting her curses.

She wielded her wand with an arm and hand of polished ebony.  Her eyes were ablaze with madness and hatred.

“I’m here, my Lord!” she screamed, as her followers rushed the entrance and butchered the guards.  The lunatic men, covered in scars, flooded into the Receiving Room by the dozens.  More arrived with every passing minute, every passing second.  They were poor combatants and weak duelists, but they overwhelmed the aurors by sheer weight of numbers.  You cannot duel an army.

The attackers threw themselves in the path of the shield of goblin silver, blocking it.  They smashed Dark Detectors and annihilated the chizpurfles with waves of flame.  They drowned defenders in their very blood, crushed them with their weight.  Fire and blood poured across the stone.

“I’m here!  I’m here I’m here I’m here I’m here!” chanted the madwoman: their leader, their deity.

Bellatrix Black was come to the Tower.



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  1. I kinda suspected from the very first chapter that Draco might just be playing the part of villain, since being opposed to Harry for real seemed like too much of a swerving departure from the original, but I admit I never really gave the theory more than 50% weight until the reveal. It didn't feel like there were a lot of hints at the time, and yet I guess there were after all.

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    1. in my strong opinion, the Significant Digits author did a great job masking it and this wasn't like the Alastor reveal at all. No, this was very well done, because Draco really could have gone either way, up or down. Your "50%" number is the exact right number to have, based on like the 2nd to last chapter of MOR, because we don't really know what Draco chooses. I mean Hermione had her suspicions and everything, but this was very complicated intrigue with lots and lots of new actors, and these Three and crap. "Crap. Crap. Mega crap. You deal with it Bones, you don't build a castle out of the crap and live in it." I don't think there was enough actual evidence to get closer to 50% with good reasoning. Except.

      No, the bloody stupid obvious gaping I'm-such-a-retard REAL hint that was dropped was Ch. 30-33 of MOR. This was such a fundamentally asshole thing of them to do
      a. Wizarding Britain.
      b. all of Britain.
      c. Wizarding Europe.
      d. All of the World.

      that really, I am giving myself a T for Dunce that I didn't suspect the lot of them were being this much of a jackass from page one. This chapter felt like Ender's Game crossed with the freaking Baudelaires from Lemony Snicket.

      this is the last time I trust Hermione Friggin Jean Granger for anything. :P

      it took the little tykes about 10 hours after Hermione came back from the dead to come up with a pathetically comic book scheme to take over the world and it worked perfectly despite their best efforts to shoot themselves in the foot because if "Lord Voldemort" was more fun than "David Monroe", then in what possible universe does the Wizarding World have a chance for David Monroe's Three Greatest Creations?

      And the other shoe Drops. Hermione, Draco, and Harry are the mysterious "Three", because duh, of course they are.

      lol.

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    2. "to do TO these entities of magical and mundane civilizations...."

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    3. AGAINST Monroe's Three Greatest Creations. I hate that I can't edit my comments.

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    4. i was suspected both Draco is playing evil ( Harry is like good Palpatin now :D), and Narcissa's bomb at the beginning being a fake.
      and also Bellatrix return, howewer that was epic.
      It is impossible to write something realy unpredictible, dont worry, its realy nice story :D

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