And Then There Were Six
As he stepped across the threshold into the dark passageway, Harry stiffened and jumped back, looking wide-eyed at the dark tunnel entrance. "There's something there," he gasped. "I felt something when I stretched inside."
"What was it!" exclaimed Hermione.
Harry shook his head. "I don't know - it felt like some sort of force field - a sort of strange vibrating feeling."
"Do you feel ok?" asked Ginny.
Harry nodded. "Yes - it didn't stop me going inside, and it wasn't painful or anything like that. It was just unexpected."
"What do you think it is?" asked Ron, looking once more at the strange writing on the plaque. "I bet that says something about it in the bits you couldn't translate."
"Well we won't know until we go inside," said Harry, taking a deep breath and stepping into the darkness. After the initial magical vibration as he stepped across the threshold into the passageway, Harry breathed easy when the strange feeling stopped.
"Whatever it is," he said, "it's only at the entrance. There's nothing inside here."
Hermione stepped through next, and shivered as she felt the strange vibration, but relaxed as she stepped up alongside Harry. "It's only when you walk through," she said. "There's nothing to worry about."
Ron and Margot stepped through and waited while Ginny followed close on their heels, and then turned to wait for Hugo. He closed his eyes and stepped through the entrance, but a bright blue light suddenly covered him and sent him reeling back the way he had come.
Ginny shouted fearfully and walked back out to make sure he wasn't hurt. "Hugo - are you ok?"
Hugo appeared shaken, although he wasn't hurt in any way. "What was that!" he exclaimed, looking at the entrance fearfully.
"Come on, hold my hand," said Ginny as she pulled Hugo once more towards the tunnel.
As they both stepped through together, the bright blue light once more covered Hugo and sent him reeling to the outside, but leaving Ginny untouched. Harry put out a hand, stopped her walking back out of the tunnel, and turned her around to face him. His eyes were full of concern for his red-haired little friend as he spoke gently to her. "It's no use Ginny. Hugo can't come with us."
"What!" yelled Ginny, looking searchingly into Harry's eyes.
Hermione stepped up to her and reached out to hold her hand. "Harry's right, Ginny," she whispered. "Hugo can't come through the portal - he's not the sixth one."
"How… how do you know that?" she asked in a tremulous voice, bringing a lump to Hermione's throat as she saw the hurt in her friend's face.
"That message on the outside of the portal," she whispered. "It's starting to make a bit more sense now. It probably reads something like this - Warning, Only the Anima Summas and their true helpers are permitted to pass beyond this portal."
Harry nodded. "It looks like there's a spell on the entranceway to check that only the permitted ones are walking through it. If Hugo was the sixth one, he'd have been able to come through." He shook his head gently. "You… we weren't to know that he wasn't the right one."
"They're right Ginny," said Hugo from the other side of the portal. "I can't be the sixth one. You go ahead, I'll wait for you here. Be careful."
Ginny stared at Hugo for a long moment, then suppressed a sob as she whispered, "You too."
Hermione and Margot caught around their friend as they led her down the passageway, while Ron passed out some food and water to Hugo, then waved sadly goodbye, knowing how terrible both he and his sister must be feeling.
They walked on down the passageway for about a hundred yards before Harry called a halt. He turned to the others, his expression showing some of the despondency he felt. "You know what this means, don't you?"
Hermione frowned and nodded. "It means that this can't be the final leg of the quest. Thoth left us in no doubt that we have to be six to complete the quest, and since there's obviously no one else down here, the sixth one must be somewhere else - probably on the way to the next part of the quest after we've found whatever it is we need to find in Atlantis."
Harry shook his head worriedly. "We just haven't got the time," he said. "Voldemort's going to start killing a lot of people before too long."
Ginny felt awful. She slumped onto the ground and started to cry quietly. Margot knelt beside her and held her hand, trying to comfort her.
Ginny looked up at her friends. "It's not fair," she wailed. "As soon as I find someone, he's taken away again. I don't think I'll ever fine the right boy."
Hermione joined Margot and put her hands on Ginny's cheeks, forcing her to look directly into her eyes. "It doesn't mean that Hugo's not the right boy for you Ginny. All it means is that he's not the sixth member of the team - there's nothing written anywhere to say that the sixth one will be the one for you. It might even by a girl. And it's obvious that Hugo still feels the same way about you as he did before he found that he wasn't the one."
"But that's not how it's supposed to be!" she cried, but then sniffled and wiped her eyes, and she smiled wryly as she thought about what her friend had said. "You're right Hermione - as usual. Come on - I feel a bit better now."
She rose to her feet and wiped the dust from her robes, but it was plain to everyone that she didn't feel all that much better - she had it in her mind that perfect symmetry would only be realised with the arrival of the sixth member of the team. But she resolved not to be a worry, and stuck out her chin in defiance of the way she felt deep inside.
They all walked on down the gently sloping passage, and they soon began to realise that the walls seemed very smooth - much smoother than anything they'd seen before.
But that soon changed as they emerged from the passage into a small but very rough natural-looking cavern. Harry held up his hand and stood quietly, listening to the familiar sound that percolated up from somewhere below.
"Water," he whispered. "That's the sound of running water."
They walked to the far end of the cave and stepped into a narrow passageway, the rough sides and smooth floor telling them that a stream had once flown through the place. As they walked on, the sound of running water became louder and louder, until they stood looking down at a narrow chute of water, that emerged from their right-hand side, flowing beneath a low rock wall, and disappeared once more down the chute to their left. They could see no other exits from the tunnel, and Harry knew that the chute was the only way forward.
Biting the bullet, Harry looked at his friends and then turned and yelled as he jumped into the swiftly moving stream. Hermione's eyes went wide as she saw Harry disappear down into the depths below - she couldn't believe that he'd just taken off like that, leaving her to fend for herself. Her eyes glowed angrily as she jumped in and followed her boyfriend down the water chute.
Ron, Margot and Ginny stood looking at the spot where their friends had disappeared, and then followed, but not before Margot exclaimed, "It's one thing to go down there, but how the devil are we going to get back up again?"
"We'll worry about that later," shouted Ron as he jumped in.
Further down the watercourse, Harry shouted as he felt a great exhilaration as he was swept ever downwards. He didn't have time to think about what lay at the end of the ride, he was too busy concentrating on trying to keep his head above water. After only two minutes - it seemed a lot longer - he was swept out into space, following the curve of the waterfall as it emerged from the end of the chute. He yelled once more, but quickly closed his mouth as he tumbled with a great splash into a deep pool, the depths formed by the action of the falling water over the years.
His head sunk below the water and he flayed his arms about, trying to get back to the surface of the pool. As his head broke above the water line, he just had time to see Hermione flying past, landing rear-end first in the rock pool. Ron, then Ginny and finally Margot quickly followed her.
Harry struck out for the side of the pool and heaved himself up to sit on the rocky bank. He grinned as he saw that the other four had risen to the surface and were swimming towards where he sat. "That was exciting wasn't it?" he shouted.
His face dropped when he saw the expression on Hermione's face as she climbed out of the pool, and raised his eyebrows questioningly as she stood up and strode purposefully towards him. He stood up as well, wondering what had got into his girlfriend, but he felt a bit like a rabbit sitting frozen in the blazing headlights of an approaching truck.
Her eyes flashed as she reached out, caught the front of Harry's robes and pulled him towards her. Her face was no more than six inches away from Harry's and her voice was low and deadly. "That was the second time you've gone into a dive without putting your brain in gear! One of these days, your hair-brained bravado is going to get us all killed!"
"I… I…" he stammered, then stopped as Hermione's expression changed. He thought he saw a little tear in her eye as she once more pulled him towards her, but this time kissed him forcefully on the lips. She relaxed as he responded, and they broke apart only when the other three started whistling.
"Sorry," said Harry, speaking to all four. "It just felt like the best thing to do at the time."
For the next hour, they sat at the side of the pool while they dried off a bit and ate some of the food. They gazed around the large cavern, which was obviously a natural feature, but the light from their wands couldn't penetrate the furthest recesses of the place. Eventually, they stood up and started to explore.
Harry and Ron followed the stream that fed off the pool, which flowed at a gentler pace towards the far side of the cave where it disappeared beneath a narrow gap at the base of the rock wall. "Well there's no way out that way," said Ron.
They turned and saw the lights cast by the wands of the three girls moving around the walls to the left of the pool, so they decided to check the right-hand side. They stopped to examine a likely looking exit point, but the narrow passage soon came to an abrupt end. They walked back into the main cavern to hear the girls calling to them from a point almost directly opposite them. They walked quickly across the rocky floor, dodging the many stalagmites, and saw them standing alongside an opening in the rock wall.
"At first, we thought it was a natural tunnel," said Hermione, "but when we went in a little way… well, come and see for yourselves."
The two boys followed them into the tunnel, which turned slightly to the left just after they entered. The rocky sides and ceiling were very rough and natural looking at first, but they soon saw that the passageway took on a more refined appearance, the walls becoming smoother and the ceiling settling at a more or less constant height above their heads. After thirty yards, they came to an obviously man-made feature - smooth square columns rising from the floor to the ceiling, where they supported a square cross beam.
Harry gazed closely at one of the columns and run his hands over the surface. "It looks and feel like concrete, but it's a lot smoother."
They walked on down and found that there were similar structures spaced every thirty yards or so along the gently sloping passage. "Do you think we might be coming to the outskirts of Atlantis?" asked Margot.
"What are we likely to find there anyway?" asked Ron. "I read the descriptions of the city given by Plato, but even if he was right, that was before it sunk two miles under the sea."
"You're guess is as good as mine," said Hermione. "But I wouldn't have thought there was a lot left of it, especially if it was on the surface of the island exposed to all the destruction. I suppose the best we can hope for is an underground facility of some kind, maybe one that was hewn into the rock at the bottom of a mountainside, and may have been sealed off when the sea flooded the city."
They walked on down the passage for what seemed ages, and Margot couldn't stifle a loud yawn as they stopped briefly to examine an odd looking projection at the base of the left-hand wall.
"I feel tired too," said Ginny, yawning infectiously as she looked at her watch. "Hey! It's twelve midnight! It's been eight hours since we left Sirius and the others back in the upper gallery."
Harry glanced at Hermione and saw that she, too, looked a bit tired. "We'd better stop and try to get some sleep."
Hermione shivered slightly - the air had become progressively cooler the further down they'd come - and pointed her wand at some loose pebbles, which started to glow with a warm reddish light. The five huddled close with their backs against the rocky walls and were soon fast asleep, helped by the drowsiness brought on by the comforting warmth from the glowing pebbles.
Harry's eyes shot open and he jumped quickly to his feet, pulling his wand from his robes as he instinctively crouched in a defensive posture. He looked quickly in both directions along the passageway, but could see nothing in the light that was still given off by the pebbles.
"What!" gasped Ron, roused from his sleep by Harry's movements.
The girls stirred and quickly jumped to their feet when they saw Harry's obvious agitation. "What's there?" asked Hermione anxiously.
Harry shook his head and relaxed, although he still held his wand at the ready. "I heard something - a sort of crashing noise."
The other four gazed along the passage, raising their wands to give more light, but everything was as quiet as the grave. Ginny glanced at her watch. "Six o'clock."
"Let's get some breakfast," said Ron. "Whatever made that noise has long gone by now."
Fifteen minutes later, Hermione extinguished the pebbles and they started off down the passageway once more, Harry and Ron in the lead. They remained cautious whenever they came to a bend, making sure that the way was safe before proceeding.
Ron held up his hand when the tunnel branched to the right and came to an abrupt end. Harry whispered for the girls to remain in the passage while he and Ron went to investigate what lay in the darkness beyond. They walked slowly into the cavern and held their wands high above their heads, listening intently for any unusual sound.
The cavern was roughly rectangular in shape, about twenty yards long and fifteen yards wide. The floor was covered with dust and loose rocks, but was otherwise devoid of any features. Ron pointed to the far side, where he saw an opening in the rock wall, looking to be the same size as the passage from which they'd just emerged. Harry turned and called for the girls to join them, and they all moved across towards the far side.
They all jumped when they heard a loud crashing sound coming from their right, and turned to see several large rocks and loose dirt tumble to the floor from a small gap where the rock wall met the cavern ceiling about fifteen feet above. After a few moments, they walked over to see the obvious signs of previous falls, the floor on the right-hand side being littered with rocks and dirt.
"That's what probably woke you earlier," said Hermione, looking up at the gap in the ceiling. "It doesn't look very stable up there."
"Come on," said Ron. "Let's get going before the whole roof comes down."
"I hope it doesn't Ron," said Margot, "or we won't be able to get back."
They entered the tunnel at the far side of the cavern, and saw that it was exactly like the other, with supporting structures spaced every thirty yards or so. The tunnel angled gently downwards, like the one before, and continued on for about half a mile before the group emerged into another cavern, or what they initially thought was a cavern.
"This is not a cavern," said Ginny as she looked around the square-shaped space. "It's a man-made room cut into the rock."
The room was fifteen feet square and about eight feet high, and there were unmistakeable signs of previous occupation. There was a large dust-covered stone table at the centre, supported by square stone legs at each corner, and several niches cut into the walls around the room. There were several jumbles of decayed wood strewn around the floor, which had probably once been chairs. There was a smooth area on the left-hand wall, polished to a lighter colour than the rest of the walls, which held some roughly written script similar to the writing they'd seen on the plaque earlier.
"Can you make any of it out?" asked Margot as she walked over and held her wand closer to the writing.
Hermione shook her head. "It's not as organised as the writing on the plaque. It looks to be rough notes or something - a bit like untidy handwriting."
"This could have been some sort of meeting room," said Harry. "Perhaps they came here to discuss ideas or work out some problem or other or something, writing their thoughts on the wall while others sat around the table and talked about them."
"You may not be too far off the mark, Harry," said Hermione, walking over to peer into one of the niches adjacent to the polished section of wall. She reached in and pulled out an odd-looking metallic object. It was flat, about fifteen inches long, and had gradation marks in the same strange script along one of the sides, which terminated in a multi-faceted array of levers.
"This must be some sort of measuring instrument," she murmured. "But I don't know what these levers are for."
She replaced the instrument and brought out another metallic object. She looked at it with complete incomprehension, turning it over in her hands and shaking her head. It was oval in shape, about five inches long, three inches wide and two inches high. There was a hinged lid at the centre, but when Hermione opened it, the small compartment was empty. Again, all around the sides of the object were markings of some sort, but she couldn't work out what they meant.
She replaced the object and turned to gaze around the room. "I think it's something to do with scientific research, or something similar," she said.
"Maybe there's more rooms through there," said Ron, pointing to a square shaped opening in the corner of the room, opposite the passageway they'd come from.
"This is Atlantis isn't it?" breathed Ginny.
"I think so," said Hermione. "Come on, let's see what's through that doorway."
Harry and Hermione led the way through the square opening, and found themselves in a much larger room. They looked around the place as they moved towards the centre, and Hermione suddenly gasped, "It's a laboratory of some sort."
She pointed to the stone tables arranged around the sides of the room, and the odd metallic structure that stood at the side of each one. At the far end of the room were a number of very large stone vats, but they found that upon further examination, they were all empty - apart from some traces of a very fine white powder.
"Ma-na," exclaimed Hermione. "This must be the place where they made the Shewbread - the mfkzt!"
She rushed over to one of the tables and peered closely at the metallic structure that stood beside it. It was about eight feet high, with a hinged rotating arm at the top that could be adjusted to move over the centre of the table. She looked closely at the end of the arm and saw that there was an oval recess built into it - but it was empty.
"I think that this recess held the Philosopher's stone," she exclaimed, "and they used it to transform the dried contents of those plants into the white powder stuff. This must be the place where Thoth and the other scientists used to work!"
"What I don't understand," said Ginny, "is why those tables and vats are made of stone. They were obviously an advanced culture, so why didn't they use metal or something?"
"I think it may be to do with the properties of the Ma-na," said Hermione. "Perhaps stone - and it may be a particular type of stone they used - keeps it stable or something."
"Do you think we'll find the final spell, and whatever else we need to find, in here?" asked Harry.
Hermione shrugged her shoulders. "It's possible, but we'd better do a bit more exploring first. Once we know how much of the city is still remaining, we'll have a better idea."
They all wandered back up the centre of the laboratory, looking towards the left-hand wall opposite the stone tables, looking for an exit point that would take them further into the city.
"Through here, I think," said Margot, pointing to a huge stone door back towards the middle of the room. "But I don't know how we're going to open it - it looks very heavy."
Ron walked over and looked up at the door's bulk. There were no handles or locks in sight, so he reached out and tentatively gave the door a push.
"Whoa…" he exclaimed when the door swung silently away from him. "That thing's solid, but it seems to be as light as a feather!"
The five youngsters stepped through the doorway and suddenly stopped, looking in awe at the vast space that was before them. It was cold; it was dark; and it was as silent as the grave. They all raised their wands high, gazing at the cathedral-like cavern, each of them struggling to come to terms with the majesty of the place.
They could just make out the decorated ceiling high above their heads, and the ornate walls on either side that stretched into the distance beyond the light provided by their wands. A number of statues still stood in the middle distance, but everywhere, there was evidence of the destruction that had befallen Nibiru. Huge fluted columns lay on their sides all around the floor amid the rubble of the buildings that had fallen during that terrible time so long ago. Parts of the walls and ceiling had also crashed down, as had a number of large ornate fountains, which lay on their sides, now devoid of the sparkling water that once flowed from them. The atmosphere - the ambiance of the vast place - was strange, and it had a magical quality that was almost tangible.
"This must have been an amazing place," whispered Hermione, trying to visualise what it had looked like in its heyday.
"I know it's all in ruins," said Ron, "but it still managed to survive - I mean, we must be at least two miles under the ocean, so how is this place still in tact, relatively speaking?"
They walked to their left, along the outside walls of the laboratory and past a number of other low buildings built into the side of the cavern, until they came to the far wall. Then they turned and walked alongside it, down the length of the cavern. They stopped after about two hundred yards and stood looking up at a huge stone door. Harry reached out and placed his hand on the cold marble-like stone, looking up to where it was recessed into the cavern wall some twenty feet above his head.
"This must have been the main entrance into the place," he said. "Out there is the main city of Atlantis."
"As well as the Atlantic Ocean," said Hermione. "I think these doors saved the place from complete destruction when Atlantis sunk beneath the sea. This facility - whatever it was - must have been built inside cliff walls, and this door must be the only point of entry, and like that other stone door we came through, I think it's been specially treated with Ma-na to give it tremendous strength, while at the same time making it as light as a feather. It must open outwards, so it must now be held fast by the tremendous pressure of the ocean on the other side."
Ginny shivered as she thought of the destructive power that lay only a short distance away on the other side of the door. "What is this place do you think?"
"I think," said Hermione, her voice full of reverence as her gaze roamed around the cavern, "that this is the place that housed the Council of Science. Housed inside a large cavern, the laboratory, the meeting room - it's the Academy of Science."
"The one that Thoth told us about in his book?" asked Margot. "This must be the place where he worked on the white powder and managed to transform it into the exotic Shem-an-na."
"This is where magic first started," breathed Harry, his voice mirroring the reverence of Hermione's words.
After standing silently for several minutes, they continued on to the far side of the cavern. As they walked on, they found that there were very few buildings left standing, only some of the single-storey ones that were built along the sides of the cavern walls. They went into several of these, and found that they were mainly laboratories and alchemical workrooms, most of them seemingly related to the development and production of the white powder - the Ma-na.
They arrived at the far end of the cavern and walked along the far wall, finding more laboratories and workrooms. "Let's try the centre," said Ron, pointing into the rubble that littered the floor. "We might find something different there."
They wove their way around the fallen jumble of masonry, heading into the central region of the cavern, but there was little that remained in tact, just a few statues of unknown Atlanteans, obviously of scientists venerated by the people of Nibiru, but long since forgotten by the human race since the destruction of Atlantis.
They called a halt when they reached what they thought to be the centre of the cavern and sat eating some of their food. Ron looked miserably at the food that remained. "There's only enough left for one more decent meal. We'll be hungry by the time we get back to the others."
"Don't worry Ron," said Harry, grinning. "Just think of the appetite you'll be able to build up."
"You won't find anything here, you know!" said a soft voice from behind them.
The five jumped up from the fallen pillar on which they sat at the sound of the voice - a voice that was strangely familiar to them. They turned and stared wide-eyed at the ghostly form that drifted over the ruins towards them, and then sat on the end of one of the fallen pillars.
Ginny was the first to gain control of her voice. "Draco?" she whispered. "Is that you?"
The ghost of Draco Malfoy - his Ba - looked at the pretty redhead and smiled, his smoky blue eyes softening as he gazed at her. He nodded. "One and the same, I'm afraid."
"But… but you're supposed to be safely tucked away in Malfoy Manor," she breathed.
"Oh I'm certainly tucked away at Malfoy Manor," he replied with a wry smile. "But I'm not in it, I'm six feet under it - or to be more precise, six feet under the garden providing sustenance for the daisies."
Ginny gasped as she covered her mouth with her hands and two little tears ran down her cheeks from her watery eyes, forming two rivulets in the dust and grime that covered her face. Draco looked at her sadly, relishing her beauty despite the dirt.
"What happened?" asked Harry.
"Voldemort killed me Potter," he said, turning towards Harry. "He killed me with the killing curse."
"But why didn't you get away when you had the chance?" asked Hermione, her eyes full of compassion.
"If I'd known he'd kill me, perhaps I would have done. I thought that he'd just torture me for a bit and then let me go - I don't know what I thought would have happened after that though. I had some hair-brained scheme to just feed him the minimum amount of information to keep him off my back, but to warn you what I'd be telling him so you could stay safe - I don't know."
"But what are doing here of all places?" asked Harry.
"Now that, Potter, is the million-dollar question. When my ghost rose out of my dead body, a being of Light spoke to me and told me I had to wander the Earth and find one more thing to do - an act of great kindness that would be beneficial to the Light side. After that, I'd be allowed into the Realm of Light. Then I found myself stuck in this dusty old place."
"How long have you been here?" asked Ginny in a trembling voice.
"Since before last summer. My father took me to Voldemort just after I spoke to you."
"But surely, your father didn't just stand and watch as he killed you?" asked Ron.
Draco nodded. "What could he do? He gave me the chance to run away, but nobody can stand up to Voldemort's power. He's out for revenge, you know and you might be able to use that snippet of knowledge to your advantage in the future. Just as my ghost was stirring inside me as I lay on the grass in the garden back home, I heard my father swear that he'd get Voldemort for killing me. He might still be helping him, but I know how my father operates - he'll wait his chance; wait for the right moment - then he'll act. Voldemort probably thinks he's still his most loyal servant, but he won't know what hit him when the time comes." Draco shook his head sadly. "My father can be a nasty bugger, believe me, but he's still my father. Even though he's manipulated the way I think ever since I was a little kid and tried to groom me for great things on the Dark Side, he's still my father."
"I'm so sorry Draco," said Margot. "That's a terrible story."
"Yes it is, my little beauty, and one that gives me great pain to tell. But that's enough about my sorry situation. What about you? What the devil are you five doing here?"
"Do… do you know where you are Draco?" asked Hermione.
Draco shook his head. "Apart from some old and ruined city, I haven't got the foggiest idea. Oh I've spent the last six months or so roaming around trying to find a way out of here, so I know the place pretty well. But that's not strictly true - for the first few months I just sat around wallowing in self pity before I realised I had to try to do something positive, but it hasn't got me very far up to now. I found some passageways leading upwards and I followed them until I came to this strange portal, but somehow I couldn't get past the odd force field that covered the exit, so I was forced to come back here."
"This is Atlantis, Draco," said Hermione. "Or to be more precise, Nibiru. It's the place where magic first got started, the place where wizard-kind was born."
"You're kidding me," he said, a doubtfully smile on his face.
"We're not Draco," said Ginny, walking closer to the ghost and sitting down beside him. She had the sudden urge to reach out and hold him close, to try to ease his pain, but she knew it was pointless to even try - after all, he was a ghost now, and she couldn't touch him physically. She roughly wiped the tears from her eyes and took a deep breath.
"There's a lot you don't know, Draco," she said. "About this place, why we've come here, the true nature of the Gods, about the four forms of the spirit, what life's all about. I'll tell you about it…"
For the next hour or so, Draco listened intently to what Ginny told him, looking in wonderment and amazement at the things they'd experienced and learned over the course of the quests.
"So if I manage to do this one good act, I'll be transformed into this Akh think by Thoth?" Ginny nodded.
"Do you think that's why I was brought here?" he asked quietly. "To help you with the final part of your quest? Could that be the one good thing I have to do?"
Harry and Hermione glanced at each other and touched hands, sending the myriad confusion of thoughts back and fore between their minds as they tried to work out whether Draco could, indeed, be the sixth one. They looked with compassion at Ginny, who was gazing at Draco, her confusion plain to see as the conflicting emotions played over her lovely features.
'How can this be?' thought Ginny. 'I've just found Hugo, and then he was taken away from what I though he was. Now I've found Draco again - but he's a ghost! And you can't have a ghost as a boyfriend can you! This just isn't fair!'
"I don't know, Draco," Ginny finally said, looking down at the ground.
Draco stood back up. "Well this place is starting to make a bit more sense to me now. There's a secret room that I found only last week over on the right-hand corner of the cavern. I found it just by chance - there was a strange sort of emanation that I felt when I floated past some pillars still standing against the wall. I drifted up to them and found that I could move through the bare wall that stands between them. It's a small room, with the portrait of an old man hanging on the wall - that's where the emanations were coming form - but I couldn't find anything else there. I've thought about that room ever since I found it, and I've been there several times since, but although the emanations were still there, I couldn't find a way to find out what magical spell is causing them. Maybe the Anima Summas can do it."
Harry walked over and stood closer to Draco, looking him squarely in the eye. "Will you show us where this room is Draco? Will you help us?"
Draco chuckled, a low sound that wasn't at all like the sneering chuckle he usually used when he spoke to Harry. "Fancy me, Draco Malfoy, feeling excited at the prospect of helping Harry Potter. Come on - follow me."
Draco turned and drifted in the direction of the far wall of the cavern - the wall that the five hadn't explored. They all stood and then followed, Harry and Ron at the front with Hermione and Margot walking at either side of Ginny, catching under her arms in a protective way as they stepped over and around the rubble on the cavern floor.
When he reached the two pillars, Draco turned and waited for the others to catch up. He pointed at the bare wall between the pillars. "Through here," he said.
"Hang on a minute, Malfoy," said Ron. "You're a ghost, so it's easy for you to drift through, but we're solid - how are we going to get in there?"
Draco glanced at Ron disdainfully, and then turned and floated between the pillars and disappeared from sight into the secret room.
"You don't have to remind him that he's a ghost Ron," said Ginny sternly. "He's only too well aware of that."
"Whether I remind him about his ghostly status or not," he replied, "it still leaves us with the problem of how we're going to follow him in there."
Harry and Hermione instinctively held hands and pointed their other hands at the space between the pillars. They closed their eyes and spoke the ancient spell.
The familiar silvery-blue rays of light shot from their raised palms and met just before combining in front of the bare wall, which shimmered for a few moments and then slowly dissolved to reveal an arched portal leading into the secret room.
"Cool," said Ron. "What did that spell mean?"
"Roughly, 'Secret portal - Open for me'," said Harry as he led the group into the small room, where they found Draco standing at the furthest end looking up at the portrait hanging on the wall.
"We've seen him before!" exclaimed Margot, as she stood looking up at the painting of the old man.
"Of course!" exclaimed Hermione. "In the largest of those buildings we found in the Garden of Eden. His portrait was there as well. This is Anu - the head of the Council of Science and the leader of the Eden Civilising Project."
"Can you feel it?" asked Margot, turning her head to the side as if listening to some dimly perceived sound.
"Magical vibrations," said Ginny. "Yes - I can just about pick them up."
"Hey!" exclaimed Ron, looking around the room as if expecting to see something that hadn't been there before. The emanations had become much stronger as Harry and Hermione walked over to stand directly beneath the portrait.
Suddenly, the surface of the painting seemed to shimmer, and the image of Anu started to move. First it moved out from the landscape which formed the background of the painting and then floated slowly down to rest on the floor immediately beneath. Then the image started to take on a more substantial and brighter form, finally appearing as a shining being of Light - an Akh.
Everyone stared in astonishment when the Akh of Anu started to speak.
"Greetings Anima Summas and helpers. Welcome to the once great land of Nibiru."
"You're Anu, aren't you?" asked Ginny.
Anu smiled. "I am, compassionate one. You recognise my portrait from your visit to the Garden of Eden."
"Is this the final part of the last quest?" asked Harry.
Anu nodded. "That is so. You have reached the end of your journey. I know it has been long and arduous, and there were times when you doubted the wisdom of those that subjected you to such ordeals, but be certain that such a path was necessary for your development."
Anu looked at Draco. "Ba of Draco Malfoy. You now know why you were brought here. You are the fourth helper to the Anima Summas; the sixth member of the team and your presence is needed in the struggle ahead. Remain with these others until you have fulfilled your task and gained the right to join the Shining Ones in the Realm of Light."
"But what am I supposed to do?" asked Draco. "I'm a ghost - a Ba - and since I have no physical form, how can I help in the fight against the Dark Side?"
"That will become clear when the time arrives," said Anu, smiling at the ghost enigmatically.
"Thoth - Enki - told us that you have one final spell to give us," said Hermione.
"Quite so, one of intellect," he replied. "Ah Enki - he was like a son to me when we were together here and in Eden. I had great hopes for him when he first joined us at the Academy, and he has fulfilled all the early promise that he showed back in those far-off days. He has grown to become the best friend that humanity will ever have, and to Wizard-kind in particular. I see in your minds that you have come to respect him greatly, and I am well pleased."
He raised both arms and pointed his palms towards Harry and Hermione, staring at them with love and friendship before closing his eyes. Brilliant white beams shot from both his palms, one striking Harry and the other Hermione, and then covering their heads in a soft glow for a moment or two, after which it faded to nothing.
"You now have the final spell, Anima Summas," he said gently. "And your awareness of the spells given to you by another Shining One, after your ordeal in the labyrinth, has been amplified. Use them with compassion and wisdom, qualities that you have come to know during your long voyage."
The pair glanced at each other and touched, sharing their thoughts and newfound awareness of the knowledge that had been awakened.
Hermione looked back towards Anu. "We thank you, Anu. But the final spell you gave us - we know the words but not what they mean. What does the new spell do?"
Anu smiled. "You will find out in due course. For now, it is sufficient for me to tell you that it must be used only in the most dreadful of times. When all else fails, invoke the spell, but be aware that its power will drain your energies greatly, and you will need to recharge yourselves before you are able to use it again to its fullest extent. Now I must return to the Light. My visit, which was triggered by your presence in my chamber, can only be for a fleeting moment. My task is done, but your greatest task is before you. Enter that task in the knowledge that you have the Light on your side, and that you are now well prepared. Farewell, Children of Light."
Anu slowly faded until he was no more. His image was once again on the portrait, but the magical emanations had now disappeared. The six stared at each other, feeling privileged to have seen and spoken to the Akh of a once-great wizard - the father of all wizards.
"How do you feel?" asked Ron, looking at Harry and Hermione.
"The same as before," said Harry. "We're aware of all the ancient spells that Jesus gave us and we know what they'll do, but that final spell - that's weird."
"We'd better get back," said Hermione. "Poor old Hugo must be wondering where we've got to, not to mention Sirius and the others."
"Who's Hugo?" asked Draco.
"He's a local boy," said Ron, smirking, "from the island of Flores. Ginny fancies him, like mad."
Ginny shot her brother a dark look and glanced at Draco, who had just drifted out of the secret room, any reaction stemming from Ron's revelation remaining hidden. The five followed the ghost into the main cavern and found him sitting on a fallen pillar just outside.
"You'd better lead the way," he said.
Harry and Hermione took the lead as they walked back across the cavern to the laboratory where they'd first entered the Academy and then through to the passageway beyond the meeting room.
"This is the way I went when I tried to get out of here," said Draco. "There'll be a force field barring our exit up ahead somewhere."
"We know, Malfoy," said Ron. "But it didn't stop us getting in, only you getting out."
"What was that Weasley?" he asked at the sound of Ron muttering under his breath.
Ginny headed off the inevitable confrontation. "It probably kept you here until we arrived Draco. You had to join up with us before it allows you to go through."
It was almost one and a half hours later that the group entered the cavern where the water chute spilled into the deep rock pool, the sound of the waterfall getting louder as they approached the far end.
"Now we're buggered!" exclaimed Ron, looking with trepidation at the waterspout. "How are we going to get back up that?"
"You can swim against the tide if you want Weasley," said Draco, drifting over to the right-hand side of the waterfall. "But I'm going up the stairs like I did the last time I came this way."
"What!" exclaimed Hermione, looking at Harry darkly. "See what I meant about leaping before you look Harry?"
Harry looked sheepishly after his girlfriend as she stormed up the stairs in the wake of Draco's ghost, but then grinned at the sound of sniggers coming from the other three behind him. At the top of the stone stairs, which zigzagged up inside the rock wall, Draco drifted through the rock wall, but the others were left to find the way out, which happened to be a narrow cleft in the passageway some twenty yards back from the start of the water chute.
"We'd never have found that entrance!" said Harry, defiantly gazing into Hermione's eyes.
"Humph!" was all she said as she followed Draco back up the passage.
"What's this Granger," said Draco as he turned to face her. "Trouble in paradise?"
"Of course not Draco," she replied. "Just a very minor difference of opinion on tactics, that's all."
Draco grinned and drifted on up the passageway. Before long, they came to the portal that was protected by the force field. "This is as far as I got," said Draco, looking at the portal with distaste. Ginny walked up to stand beside him and peered through the exit but Hugo wasn't anywhere in sight.
Harry stepped up and held his breath as he stepped through the doorway into the large cavern beyond. "It's ok," he said, grinning as he turned back. "I couldn't feel anything - I think the force field's been lifted."
The other four stepped through and waited for Draco, who still looked a bit hesitant. Then his face set in determination and he drifted through. He smiled with relief as he joined his new found companions, and then turned as he heard a shout from deep within the cavern.
"Ginny!" shouted Hugo as he ran up to greet the grinning girl and the others, but he pulled up short when he saw the ghost.
"Who are what is that!" he exclaimed, pointing at Draco.
"He's the ghost of one of our school friends," said Hermione. "We met him in Atlantis."
"Friends?" whispered an incredulous Ron, staring at Hermione as if she'd suddenly gone mad.
"You must be Hugo," said Draco, drifting up and circling the staring boy. "Weasley tells me that Ginny likes you. Do you like her as well?"
"I… I…" stuttered Hugo, lost for words.
"Don't pay him any attention Hugo," said Ron, catching Hugo by the arm and dragging him back into the cavern. "He wasn't very nice when he was alive, and it doesn't look as if he's changed all that much since he died."
"Habit of a lifetime Weasley," said Draco, grinning wryly.
They walked across the canyon and climbed up along the rock ledge to the tunnel above, where they decided to stop to eat the rest of their food.
Ron couldn't resist getting in a dig at Draco. "Want some Malfoy? Oh I forgot - you've lost your appetite haven't you!"
Draco scowled and Ginny slapped Ron's arm. "Stop teasing him Ron. How would you like it if you suddenly found that you didn't need to eat."
"Sorry," whispered Ron as he contemplated a fate just as bad as death.
After telling Hugo what they'd found in Atlantis, and explaining that Draco was the sixth member of the team, they continued on up the tunnel, both Hugo and Draco remaining strangely silent, and Ginny glancing first at one then the other hoping that world war three wouldn't break out.
Eventually, they reached the huge magma tube where Draco stood looking up at the dizzy heights above. He spoke for the first time in a long while, "Well I know how I'm getting up there, but unless you lot suddenly sprout wings, I think you're stuck!"
Harry grinned, closed his eyes, and transformed into his animagus eagle. "You're full of surprises Potter," said Draco, looking wide-eyed at the eagle. Harry just screeched an eagle laugh.
"You'd better take me up first Harry," said Ron. "I'll wedge myself in that chimney and help the others when they climb off your back."
Harry nodded and bent his legs for Ron to climb onto his back. Then he kicked powerfully off from the ground and flapped his wings as he rose rapidly up into the magma tube. It took him only a minute or so to reach the top, where he hovered while Ron climbed up into the chimney. He waited until Ron gave the thumbs-up, and then flew back down to where the others were waiting.
Hermione and Margot were the next to be taken up to the top, where Ron carefully helped them to get off Harry's back and to scramble around him to the comparative safety above, where there were a lot more footholds.
Draco had steadfastly resolved to remain with Ginny and Hugo until Harry came back down to collect the last pair. Ginny felt uncomfortable as Hugo and Draco stared at each other, and was glad when Harry appeared out of the gloom above their heads. As they climbed for the last time, Draco drifted alongside Harry.
"This is fun Potter," he said. "You should have told me about this when we were back at school - we'd have had a great time."
The eagle gave Draco a piercing look, and then slowed as he neared the roof. Ron helped Ginny and Hugo into the chimney without incident and then looked at Harry with concern, wondering how he'd be able to transform without falling back to the floor of the magma tube. He thought furiously, then turned and told Hugo to grab hold of his waist, while he stretched down with one hand to take a precarious hold onto the end of the eagle's slowly flapping right wing. Ron braced himself, wedging himself tightly into the chimney and then nodded at Harry.
The eagle closed his eyes and transformed. As he did so, Ron reached down with his free hand and grabbed hold of Harry's left hand. Ron cried out as he took Harry's full weight on his arms, and was grateful that Hugo's grip on his waist was sure and strong. Harry stared up at his friend as he dangled beneath him, and couldn't help but grin at their unusual situation. He realised, of course, that if he and/or Ron fell, he'd be able to quickly transform back to his eagle form and prevent a disaster.
"Harry!" Ron shouted when he saw the grin. "Have you gone completely bloody bonkers? Come on - I don't know how long I can hold you like this!"
With a mighty effort, and aided by Hugo, who was himself being supported by Ginny, Ron leaned back up into the chimney, his face showing the strain he was under, lifting Harry up into the bottom few feet of the chimney to a place where his friend could grab hold of a jutting piece of rock. As the weight eased, Ron reached down and grabbed Harry by his trouser belt and helped him climb further into the chimney.
"Thanks Ron," said Harry, as he finally stood safely wedged in the chimney just below his friend. "I wondered how I was going to get back in here."
It was another hour and a half before the group finally approached the large gallery where Sirius and the others were waiting. Harry glanced at his watch and was surprised to see that it was almost eleven o'clock at night. He led them into the gallery and spotted the protectors sitting by the large rock pool at the centre.
"We're back!" shouted Ron, grinning as the startled adults jumped up and started running towards them. Katie was the first to arrive, and once more hugged Harry, but then stepped back as she spotted the ghost.
"Draco Malfoy?" she whispered.
"What!" shouted Sirius as he saw Draco drift into the cavern. "How the hell did you get here?"
"It's a long story," said Draco, grinning as he saw the startled, confused, incredulous and finally sad looks on the adults' faces.
Remus was the first to recover from the shock. "You lot must be hungry. We kept some food for you - come on, you can tell us all about it while you eat."
It was midnight before the meal and the story were finished, and they decided to get some sleep before they started back up to the surface. They all felt tired after the arduous trek up from Atlantis, and the youngsters soon fell asleep - with the exception of Ginny. However much she tried, she found it impossible to get to sleep; the confused thoughts about Draco and Hugo running around inside her head just wouldn't let up as she tossed and turned on the comfortable cushion provided by Professor Flitwick.
Draco, of course, didn't need to sleep and he drifted over to sit beside the girl, looking down at her beautiful features with a wistful smile on his face. "Ginny?" he whispered. Ginny opened her eyes and looked up into the smoky blue eyes of the ghost.
"I could see you tossing and turning - something bothering you?"
Ginny smiled sadly at Draco, but didn't answer.
"Hugo - do you… like him?"
Ginny frowned, wondering how Draco had known what she was struggling with, and nodded silently. 'I think,' she muttered under her breath, but Draco didn't hear.
"Look," he said, "if Hugo's the one you want, then it's ok by me. I just hope that he feels the same way about you as you feel for him. All I want is for you to be happy."
Ginny brushed a tear from the side of her eye as she stared at Draco, but remained silent.
"Before I go… go up into the Light, I want you to know something. It… it was you that turned me from the ways of the Dark Side. It wasn't anything that you did particularly - it's just the way… the way you are. The way you treat life; your spirit; the way you always seem to think of the well being of other people. And it was the way you and your friends always seemed to have this special thing when you're together… love; respect; and something that I find difficult to describe - a special sort of quality - one that I could never have with my friends. I know it's far too late to tell you this, and I don't really know why you're bothering to listen to me - after all, I'm only a ghost. But what I came to think; what I came to feel… about you… was love, Ginny."
Draco dropped his head and stared at the ground, so he didn't see the tears that were streaming unchecked down Ginny's face. He was glad that he'd finally told her how he felt, and he hoped that she wouldn't laugh at him, but his only concern now was for her future happiness - even though he knew that it couldn't be with him.
With a great effort, Ginny closed her eyes and waited for Draco to drift away from her once more. She turned her face into the cushion and cried silently - until her tortured mind at last found the sanctuary of sleep.
Ginny was once more in tears the following morning. They'd all returned to the island of Flores, and said their farewells to Simao and his family, declining the offer of food - they wanted to get back to Craig Cerrig-Gleisiad as soon as they could to plan their next moves.
The group stood holding the Portkey while Hugo stood a little way apart from them, holding Ginny's hand and speaking to her softly, "Will I see you again?" he asked. "When this is all over, I'd like you to come back to the island, where we can spent some time together in less… trying circumstances." He glanced towards Draco, who stood with the others holding the Portkey.
"I'd like that, I think," said Ginny softly, wiping away a tear that rolled down her cheek. She reached up and kissed the boy on the cheek, and then turned away and joined the rest of her group. A minute later, they disappeared from sight. Hugo sighed deeply and then walked slowly back down the hill to the farmhouse.
"Ah good," said Sirius as the group materialised at the cold and snowy hanging valley. "You're still with us Draco. I wasn't sure whether a ghost could travel by Portkey."
"So now you know," he said, drifting along beside the group as they trudged through the snow up to the main tent.
Dumbledore, McGonagall and Snape looked up as they all walked in, and stared in astonishment when they saw Draco. Snape stood up and walked slowly over to the ghost. "So it's true. They killed you." He turned and slapped the side of his leg in anguish.
"Why are you still here - on Earth, Draco?" asked Dumbledore softly, looking at Draco with compassion.
"He's the sixth member of our team Professor," said Harry. "He has to help us before he can get to the Light."
Dumbledore nodded in understanding and whispered, "It's all in the scheme of things."
After Hermione related the story once more for the benefit of the three professors, Professor Dumbledore got up from his chair and walked slowly over to the youngsters. He looked at each of them in turn, his eyes misty, although they still held their sparkle. "You have completed your tasks. I… and everyone else here are very proud of what you have achieved."
Harry stared at the headmaster, who dropped his eyes to stare at the floor for a few moments. Harry could see that a great weight had been lifted from the great wizard, and he watched as the emotions played over his wrinkled face. Then Dumbledore sighed and looked back up at Harry and Hermione. "Do you have any idea what your next moves will be?"
Harry glanced at Hermione. "We thought that you'd be able to help us with that Professor."
"How confident do you feel with your powers?" he asked.
"Quite confident Professor," answered Hermione. "Since we've become more aware of those spells that were dormant in our minds, we think that we can handle most things that will come our way."
"Do you feel confident enough to tackle Voldemort?"
"Yes!" exclaimed Harry. "And the sooner the better."
"The power he wields in the Disc of Gates is very strong," said Dumbledore quietly. "Are you sure you can face that?"
"We don't know," said Hermione, "but I've been puzzling about the final spell we were given. Anu said that we should only use it when everything else fails, so I think that perhaps it must generate the strongest possible power that we have within us. Maybe that's what will defeat the power of the Disc of Gates."
"Perhaps so," said Dumbledore. "Now getting back to that spell that you read about in the Book of Thoth back last year - the one that will tell you how to get to the Forces of Dark - how do you think that spell can be best used? The one thing that worries me is that you can Zapparate to wherever you detect them. Unless the protectors can Apparate there with you, you may find yourselves too exposed. For instance, if Voldemort and a force of his Death Eaters are there, you'll have your hands full with Voldemort - you won't want to worry about a load of Death Eaters as well. Do you see what I'm getting at?"
"Yes Professor," said Harry, "but we haven't used the spell yet, so we don't know whether we'll get co-ordinates that we can tell the protectors about or not. We may just be able to only Zapparate to a place about which we have no knowledge whatsoever."
"I agree," said Dumbledore. "So I wouldn't want you to take the risk of getting into anything too risky until you're more sure about what you can do with your powers. I've thought a lot about it ever since you told us about the spell, so I've made sure that we can do something to help. I've enlisted the help of Fred and George, and they've made a number of special Portkeys to my specifications."
He opened a drawer and placed several objects on the desk. "These little devices are not time-activated. They become active whenever you say the spell 'ADIGO CLAVIS'. The spell activates the related Portkey at the other end of the chain - the one that Sirius will be carrying with him at all times. Now obviously, to avoid getting them mixed up, you must each carry only one related set of Portkeys at any given time."
"But Professor," said Harry dubiously. "I already have the 'Find Me' stone that Sirius gave me. I can activate that to summon help."
Dumbledore smiled. "That's true, Harry. But that stone has a limited range - it won't work if, for instance, you Zapparate to America. And let's face it, you probably won't be able to determine exactly where you materialise, especially if you need to summon help the instant you get there."
Harry nodded. "I hadn't really given much thought to where we're likely to Zapparate. The new Portkey option should cover every eventuality."
"That's great, Professor," said Hermione, smiling at Sirius, who nodded.
"When can we try them out?" asked Harry, impatient to begin a more active involvement in the struggle.
"We have until 11 o'clock tomorrow morning," said Dumbledore grimly. "The deadline set by Voldemort runs out then and he's threatened to destroy the Ministry of Magic offices if he doesn't get his answer by that time."
"We'll go after lunch then," said Harry, looking at Hermione, who nodded.
"Do you think you can… Zapparate… me as well?" asked Draco. "I might be able to provide some distraction while you set the Portkey and wait for the rest to arrive."
"We've done it with Ron and Ginny," said Hermione, "and you've Apparated with Charlie when we returned to Flores from Corvo, so I don't see why not."
After the meeting, the five youngsters went to the library tent - this time to talk and not to read - while Draco drifted around the valley to get a feel for the place. They sat around the table just staring for a few moments before Ron raised the problem that had been plaguing him ever since they'd met up with Draco.
"Can we trust him?" he asked.
"Of course we can!" exclaimed Ginny. "He's not the Draco Malfoy we all hated back at Hogwarts - he's changed."
"How do you know that!" exclaimed Ron. "It might be a front that he's putting up to get close to us."
"Because… because I do. If you heard how he spoke to me the other night, you wouldn't have any doubts about him."
"And don't forget," said Margot, "he was killed by 'You Know Who'. That doesn't exactly make them the best of friends does it?"
"And not only that," added Hermione, "if Anu and the Light side have accepted him as genuine, who are we to argue?"
Ron glanced at Margot and Hermione, but then turned his attention back to his sister. "How did he speak to you? What did he say?"
"That's none of your business Ron!" she exclaimed. "But he's changed."
Ron looked at his sister suspiciously. "He… he doesn't fancy you does he Ginny? Come on! He's a bloody ghost!"
Ginny looked fixedly down at the desk but didn't reply.
"He does, doesn't he - you wait till I get hold of him!"
"Uh, you might find that a bit difficult to do Ron," said Harry, looking worriedly towards Ginny. "A ghost hasn't got any physical substance for you to bash."
Ron grunted with frustration, then sat bolt upright in his seat, gazing at the top of his sister's head. "Oh no - you fancy him as well don't you! I don't believe this, Ginny. You know that nothing can come of it!"
Ginny sat up once more, her eyes wet, but blazing. "I bloody well know that Ron! You don't have to tell me!"
She stood up quickly, sending her chair crashing to the floor, and ran out of the tent.
Hermione and Margot looked at each other worriedly and got up to follow their friend. Hermione turned back when she got to the tent flap and hissed at Ron, "Now look what you've done! You can be so insensitive on times Ron!" Then she rushed out after Margot.
"What did I do?" asked Ron, turning towards Harry, his face the picture of innocence. "I though that she fancied Hugo."
"I think you've just hit on a raw spot Ron," said Harry. "Hermione and I talked about this back at about the time Draco disappeared, and we both felt that Ginny was starting to get feelings for him. And meeting him once more has brought those feelings back to the surface. But now it's a lot worse for her, isn't it?"
"Because he's a ghost," said Ron, shaking his head slowly. "This is a mess! Why didn't you tell me about this before Harry?"
"Because I knew how you'd react, and the last thing Ginny wanted back then was a grilling from you, or anybody else if it comes to that. She seemed to get over it quite quickly, and then when she met Hugo…"
Ron sighed and looked worried. "Bloody Malfoy!" he whispered.
"You don't actually think that he's still working for Voldemort do you?" asked Harry.
Ron shook his head. "No - but it's hard to think of him as one of the team after all the grief he gave us at Hogwarts. Ginny's right when she says he's changed - I can see that for myself - but it still doesn't make it any easier."
Ron brooded for a few minutes and then sighed, glancing at Harry. "But getting back to 'You Know Who' - are you and Hermione ready to face him?"
"I think so Ron - but there's only one way to find out, isn't there?"
The six stood outside the main tent after lunch, together with the protectors, Dumbledore, his advisors and Fred and George and their team. The Headmaster handed Harry one of the special Portkeys and then gave its twin to Sirius, although Sirius' Portkey was a lot larger to enable everyone to grasp it when Harry or Hermione activated it.
"Are you sure you're ready to do this?" asked Sirius, his face full of concern. They'd come up against Death Eaters in the field several times before when they'd been ambushed, but this was different - the Anima Summas were actively trying to ambush Death Eaters, and conflict was inevitable.
They'd all earlier decided that because it would be their first attempt to find the Dark Side, they wouldn't try to get to Voldemort - they'd try to locate an active band of Death Eaters who were on, or about to go on, a raid.
Harry and Hermione both nodded; then they faced each other and joined hands. Draco drifted towards them and reached out his ghostly hands to touch them.
Sirius nodded and the rest of the protectors, together with Ron, Margot and Ginny, grasped the Portkey, ready to be transported into a place of danger. They'd all earlier activated their Relocators, so they were reasonably happy that they'd make a safe landing.
The Anima Summas closed their eyes and thought of the spell that Thoth had drawn their attention to and spoke it together.
"NADU GUG DUGA IM AMELNAKRU"
They both shimmered for several moments, and then they were gone - and so had Draco.