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Harry Potter and the Mouth of Hell

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Summary: The Ministry has fallen, and Harry and his friends are on the run. In a desperate attempt to stop Voldemort and find the remaining Horcruxes, the bedeviled trio is led to track down the help of the Slayer

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > General > ActionDavidBMorrisFR1320112,33179834,7487 Apr 1120 Sep 12Yes

NOTE: This chapter is rated FR15

Chapter 3

After the mess during third year, Hermione had sworn off any magic related to Time Turning. But Harry and Ron knew better than anyone else that Hermione was incapable of letting anything go completely. Hermione had been reluctant to use these skills even given the gravity of the situation, emphasizing how dangerous this kind of magic could be in the best of circumstances, and that it was particularly dangerous to do while apparating.

the trick had worked--- a little too well for Hermione's taste. Hermione had meant to push them to a different location a few hours into the future. Instead, they had ended up in a vacant lot nearly ten miles away from 12 Grimmauld Place, a full week after they had invaded the Ministry. When Hermione learned amount the disparity, she had been nearly frantic, certain she might have done something horrible to the fabric of time. It had taken an enormous amount of effort to persuade her they were going to be all right.

It had helped when they had managed to return to the Black Residence, though by now the wizards who had been watching that area had given up any pretense at subtlety. There were over a dozen shifting every eight hours. Harry could only be thankful they had been lucky when they’d returned; any closer, they might have ended up literally on top of them.

When they finally made it back to their home base (where Kreacher had been considerably frantic [for] the last seven days) Hermione had collapsed from the effort of exertion---- she had been all but useless for the next thirty-six hours. Thus, it was ten days since the raid on the Ministry before they were ready to resume the next leg of their journey.

Harry was hardly idle during that time. He and Ron studied the page he had copied from the Directory, and finally managed to pin down the exact location of the Portkey they were going to need to get to California. Located in a quarry in Hampshire, it would get them the closest to Sunnydale. The bad news was that even the closest leap was still over a hundred miles away from the Hellmouth. And none of this gave them any clue what the key they had gotten was supposed to open or if they would be able to get any further information on the Slayer.

When Hermione was back to full strength, she had to deliver even more bad news. Because none of them had ever been to the location of the Portkey, the only secure way to get there was to walk to it. Even more frustrating, the quickest possible trip was going to take them another three to five days to get there, and that was assuming they could find a safe path. The news from the Daily Prophet suggested that the Ministry was now offering a reward of twenty thousand Galleons for the Llocation of Undesirables, with an additional five thousand if they were brought in alive. None of them thought that this was because Voldemort was going to be merciful when they were brought before him.

they were now faced with a much longer journey with no clear idea when or even if they'd be able to return. There was no news in the Prophet about what was happening in America, but just because it was not involved in the war didn't mean that there would be any fewer pitfalls when they got there. There was also the concern about how they were going to survive ---- they didn't have much money, and going to Gringotts or any similar banks was out of the question. Plus the wizarding communities in Los Angeles --- which was where the portkey went --- were even more subterranean, and they had no idea how they would make contact with them. Worse, the community of darker magical creatures--- not just vampires, but werewolves, zombies and demons--- were said to be on the rise, particularly on the West Coast. Just because the war had not affected America didn't make it any less dangerous.

The bitter icing on this particularly tasteless dessert was that none of them had any idea how to destroy the Horcrux they had labored so hard to obtain. They had tried using all manner of spells to try to open the locket, but all of their efforts had proven for naught. Not even Kreacher's magic had been able to make so much as a dent in it..

October was just beginning when they decided they couldn't afford to stall any longer. They would have to get the best provisions that they could manage and head for the portkey. Once they were in Los Angeles, they would find a way to regroup and get to Sunnydale. It wasn't the best plan, but as Ron put it: "We're in enough danger if we just stay here. Things can't get any worse if we make it to Los Angeles."

They had no idea just how wrong they were. Or that this was only the first in a long line of understatements about what the supernatural community across the sea was like

Considering the hell he'd put them through most of the time, saying goodbye to Kreacher was a lot harder than they’d thought it would be. They were actually concerned what might happen to him if the Death Eaters did manage to find their way past the security, but most of it was because he was likely to be the last friendly---- or, for that matter, familiar --- face that they were going to see for a very long time. But getting word to anyone else about Kreacher was out of the question, as they had reluctantly agreed ---- anyone in the Order of the Phoenix would be under ten times more scrutiny after their raid on the Ministry

Kreacher's last act of good will was to provide them with enough food and drink, which they managed to fit into one of the bags, for a fortnight Ron actually shook hands with the house-elf before they left, telling him that it might be in his best interest to leave the Black home for a while. Harry wasn't surprised that Kreacher said no, but, if the last two months had proved nothing else, it was that the elf could take care of himself.

A trip of a hundred miles on foot shouldn't have taken long, even for Muggles. But Harry, Hermione and Ron had far more obstacles to face than just the long trek. For starters, they had to keep themselves hidden from just about everybody, wizard or Muggle. This meant that they had to take back roads and most indirect paths. Ron had argued that it might be safer for them to travel at night, until he read in the Daily Prophet that the Ministry was beginning to enforce curfews for half-bloods. The last thing that they needed were questions about three wizards wandering at all hours, so they traveled carefully.

Then there was their destination ---- none of them knew how to get there. Harry thought that the easiest way to handle things was by traveling through the more Muggle parts of London ---- horrible things were going on in the wizarding community, but for the most part the average Englishman had no more idea that there was a war being fought than would your average dog. Still, taking the buses or Metro to Hampshire wasn't possible --- the average conductor wasn't going to hand over a train ticket for Galleons and Sickles.

None of them felt much safer in Muggle towns ----, walking the so-called normal places s left them feeling like aliens in their own country. Having lived much of his life with the Dursleys, Harry had an idea what the 'real world' was like. But having immersed himself so deeply in the magical community, not even he could explain some of the major changes that had taken place. much of time, he felt like a stranger in a strange land.

Part of it was the technology. Ron, in particular, would turn cock-eyed when he saw things like televisions and computers in shop windows, or people talking on phones that fit in people's pockets. But it was what Harry didn't see that made him feel this disconnect. No one in robes, no wands, newspapers and book covers on which the illustrations didn't move and wink.

everything seemed so normal. After the last few years, Harry had gotten used to seeing people walking around with an aura of fear and unease about them--- an added edge of nervousness. Here the average person seemed so ---- at ease. Some of them were tense and upset, some were openly hostile, but none of them were afraid. And why should they be? None of them knew that a war was being waged that might well determine the fate of the world. None of them knew that there was a magical world at all. And, even though Harry couldn't know this for sure, he had a feeling that none of them would particularly act differently even if they did.

Part of him ---- not a very substantial one, but it was definitely there ---- wanted to walk up to somebody, anybody--- grab them by their lapels and shake them and yell: "Don't you know what's going on? Don't you know how much danger you're all in?" the Muggles’ indifference bothered him more than the fear he'd seen on wizards being subjugated by Dementors . He realized why eventually. These were the people he and his friends were fighting for, and they seemed like sheep. He honestly didn't think they would care, no matter which way the war turned out. And that, not fear for anybody's safety, made him want to spend less time around them.

They had agreed not to try anything further with the locket, until they could gain access to a decently sized magical library. Since they knew that America had less access to magical texts than in Europe or Asia., destroying the Horcrux was a problem for another day.

But it wasn't until their fourth day on the road that they got a sense of what some of their other problems might be.

Tempers were already short by the time it happened. In order to cut ten miles from their journey, Hermione had decide to cut through a public park. Since they'd spent most of the last couple of days in civilization ---- even if they weren't staying in Muggle residences or showering in hot water, it had been a comfort to at least know they were there------ Ron had not been in the best of spirits, saying this wasn't going to help their chances of being inconspicuous. (Since it was the early afternoon, and it looked like they were the only people in the park, he did have a small point.)

Harry wasn't feeling much better himself. The last few hours a small headache had been playing around his temples. There hadn't been much in the way of conversation today ---- he thought that for the first time, it was really beginning to hit his companions how long a quest they were engaged in, and how much damage might fall by the wayside before it came to an end.

"You sure we’re going the right way?" Ron asked for what seemed to be the tenth time so far.

"You want to look at the compass yourself?"

"It's just that all the bloody trees look alike."

"This is why you always did so badly in Plants and Herbs," Hermione reminded him. "They are not the same. We passed a larch and a dogwood five minutes ago, the two trees coming up are a birch and an oak."

"See, one of the reasons I agreed to go on this little venture was to avoid having to learn more botany lessons." Ron had obviously meant this as a joke, but as soon as he said all of the three remembered Hogwarts, and how badly they would like to be learning Magical Creatures or Potions or even History of Magic. School had real life beat every possible way.

Harry didn't much care for the silence, and was about to ask Hermione why she had been so mad to go after the Slayer, when the headache that had been bothering him got a lot worse.

"Harry, are you all right?" Hermione must have noticed the color rushing out of his face"Is it your scar again?"

Harry had a few moments to think that he wasn't sure. His scar would start prickling when he was about to have a vision of Voldemort; this pain felt more like the start of a very bad headache. Then suddenly, it worsened to the point he felt that his skull would surely split in two.

"I demand to be seen!"

The voice that spoke was small and timid. "Mr. Manners' gave strict instructions not----"

"Don't touch me, you filthy mudblood!"

There was a flash of light, and Harry was aware of his surroundings. For a moment, he thought he was back in the Ministry because of the business-like appearance. Then he saw a group of men rushing forward, one in a suit and a tie, the rest in security uniforms. This was a Muggle establishment.

And on the floor was a muggle, blood pooling from her ears.

"Was that strictly necessary?" Considering what had just happened, the Muggle in the suit seemed unusually calm. "I realize a wizard in your position has certain standards, but so do we. And ours have been around a bit longer."

"Mr. Manners, what do you want us to do?" the man in uniform.

"Nothing," Manners--- if that was his name--- replied, heaving a sigh. "My two o'clock has just arrived a bit early. Just tell human resources I'm going to need another secretary."

This was a level of coldness Harry wasn't sure even Malfoy was capable of. "All right, you've made your point," Manners said very calmly. "What can I do for you?" He deliberately hesitated. "Mr. Riddle."

Voldemort whirled around. "I would watch your tone, Muggle. Just because I deign to grant you my presence doesn't mean that I will tolerate such insolence, even from those who claim to help."

"Well, I favor frank exchanges between Wolfram and Hart and its clients. Here's one for you." All the civility disappeared from Manners voice. "Don't mistake your rank and title as giving you much leeway. I acknowledge that you are a big fish, but I would remind you, compared to some of our clientele, it is still in a relatively small pond. One, I might add, that is currently shrinking because of your own actions."

Harry couldn't understand what Voldemort was doing here; why he was standing for it. "I would remind you of your place---" Voldemort began.

"I'm well aware of my position here." His voice got colder. "Are you? Perhaps you'd like to have a discussion with the senior partners about this very issue?"

It took Harry a long moment to recognize the tingle that was in the back of Voldemort's mind. He was disconcerted. It was a tingle of fear. But he would be damned if he showed any sign of weakness to a Muggle, even one as highly placed as this one. "You know what this is about," he demanded.

"We've been keeping abreast of the situation from this branch, so yes," Manners was back to all business. "We have the information you need, but it comes with a proviso. I know you don't like it, but please keep in mind, we have our own timetables, and we will not accept interference with some of our other clients."

"Where is the one I seek?"

"Brazil, rainforest near this location." Manners paused, holding out a piece of paper.. "And that is the limit of our involvement. We don't make deliveries. Especially involving this particular woman."

"I am engaged in a war, Mr. Manners, I don't have time to tear apart South America. !"

"That's not our problem." Manners seemed unusually calm considering that he had just defied the most dangerous wizard alive. "This creature plays a significant role in a number of our own prophesies. I only obtained this information under the condition that, after you find her, you don't harm a hair on her head." He held up a hand to fend off a further tirade. "Hurt her, or her companion, and there will be consequences. One that will make your maneuvers seem like playground games. We absolutely clear, Thomas?"

The Voldemort Harry Potter knew would have skinned this man alive long ago. This Voldemort, angry as he was, seemed to feel that he was being held in check. He took the paper and Disapparated in a cloud of smoke so fast Harry hardly realized what had happened.

"They never say thank you," Manners heaved another sigh, then looked at the floor. "He could've at least cleaned up after himself. It's always a bitch getting blood out of the carpet."

Harry began to come back to himself, and was not surprised to find himself prostate on the ground, his friends standing over him with concern and fear etched into their faces. He was a little unnerved himself, only this time it wasn't from the carnage that he had seen.

He had to explain what he had seen a couple of times to Ron and Hermione, because for the first time, they were doubting whether this was a vision of something Voldemort was doing.

"You saw that statue in the Ministry. They couldn't have put the idea of purebloods better if they tried," Hermione reminded him. "Why would he go himself to see Muggles, much less to ask for their aid?"

"And you're sure he was afraid?" Ron seemed to be having a little more difficulty getting his mind around this. "What has he got to be afraid of? He's got the magical world in the palm of his hand."

Harry wasn't sure, either. But something that man Manners had said kept coming back to him---- "a small pond, which keeps shrinking." He decided to ask Hermione because he thought that there was a much better chance that she would know.

"Hermione, if you had to guess, how many Wizards are there?"

For once, she didn't seem to have the fact at her fingertips. "Where? England? Europe?"

"All together." When Hermione hesitated, he joked. "You're telling me that fact wasn't in Hogwarts: A History?"

"It's just---- I don't think I've ever given it much thought. Well, the last census was take ten years ago, and given everything that's happened the last few years, I imagine it's fluctuated quite a bit."

"Guess, Hermione, I have a feeling this is important," And suddenly Harry wondered why he'd never asked this question before.

"Somewhere between sixteen and seventeen million," Hermione replied. "At least that was the estimate around the time of the last census. I imagined it's shrunk a bit over the last few years, maybe by as much as another million."

"That's all?" Harry demanded.

Ron instantly took this the wrong way. "I'm glad that the slaughter of thousands of wizards doesn't matter so much---"

Harry couldn't understand how none of this had ever even entered to any part of their discussions. "How many of them are in England?"

A light began to dawn in Hermione's eyes, and why shouldn't it? Her parents were Muggles; she would always have a foot in that world. "Five million, maybe six."

"What does any of this have to do with----"

"Ron, in America, there are cities that have that many people. Hundreds of millions of people live in America," Hermione replied. "That's why Voldemort isn't concentrating on the U.S. right now. He'll never have the number of people for a direct assault, especially if he insists on these pureblood restrictions."

Hope--- an emotion that none of them had allowed themselves to feel for months--- began to rise in their hearts. "But we've been reading about these attacks in the Muggle community in England for years," she argued. "He obviously doesn't think it'll be a problem”

"That's got to be why he's been making such a concentrated effort to recruit other groups of magical creatures," Harry said. "He needs manpower, or giants or werewolves and all the other dark creatures that he can get to align with him. He's trying to raise a dark army, but he doesn't have anywhere near enough forces for it."

"How can you be so sure?" Hermione demanded.

"Whoever those Muggles were, they have to represent something big in the supernatural world," Harry reasoned. "Something that deals with a much more significant force than whatever numbers Voldemort has."

Hermione tried to figure this out. "Do you have any idea where that place was?" she asked.

"Whoever they were, they were extremely cold," he responded. "I know that we might have to make alliances with whoever we can, but if they had Voldemort on edge, I don't want to think how dangerous they might be."

Hermione clearly disagreed with this point, but before she could put forth a counterargument, they were all set upon by a far more pressing concern.


All three of them managed to leap clear of the spells that were shot in their direction.

They had no time to even wonder how the Death Eaters had found them, or how much of their conversation they had heard. All they could do was split up and disapparate as fast as they could.

Harry had no idea where his friends were, or if they'd be able to come up with some kind of rendezvous point later on. Because all of a sudden his focus narrowed on the Death Eater that was chasing him ----- it was someone whose face would be forever etched in his nightmares.

"You foolish little boy," Bellatrix Lestrange told him. "I don't know what you thought you were doing trying to interfere with the Master's plan, but it's going to end. Here and now." She gave an insane cackle that grated on Harry like fingernails over a chalkboard.

Harry knew that even now he was still no match for Bellatrix magically ---- he wanted her dead more than ever, but still wasn't sure that he had it in him to kill--- so he decided to see if he could throw a little uncertainty into that loose-brained head of hers.

"Has he told you what his plan is yet? Doesn't he think you deserve to know?"" Harry demanded.

"Don't try to toy with me," Bellatrix replied.

"Did you know that your Dark Lord's been associating with half-breeds and Muggles? That there are people even he has to answer to.?"

A flicker of uncertainty appeared on the dark wizard's face. "You don't know what you're talking about," Bellatrix said slowly.

"Do you even know where your lord is now? Has he told you any of your merry band where he goes on his long trips?"

For a split second, Bellatrix looked puzzled, and her defenses went down for a moment. In that instant, Harry might have been able to utter a Killing Curse that not even she could've blocked. But despite all that she had done to him, and all the darkness that was in him, he still didn't think that there was a killer inside him.

So he cast "Stupefy!!" with all the strength he could muster. And without waiting to see whether it landed or not, he disapparated.

Harry would not learn the ramifications of his actions for months, but even after he found out he realized that he still couldn't have acted in any other way.

Ever since they had started on this leg, they had planned on how to deal with just this kind of incident. Each of them eventually apparated back to the previous day’s stopping point, which fortunately wasn't that far away. Once they reunited (which took a couple of hours; they had tried to leave a complicated trail in order to throw off their pursuers) they hid in Muggle territory until nightfall, figuring that their pursuers would be less inclined to track them into public areas.

(after setting up a tent under an Invisibility Charm and Mufflato spells), the three of them tried to figure out how the Death Eaters had gotten a lead on them after more than a fortnight. Harry was sure that it had something to do with the vision he'd had prior to that, but Hermione pointed out that if that were the case, the Death Eaters would have invaded Twelve Grimmauld Place before their raid on the Ministry. Ron was more concerned as to how long they had been watched. They had been in a relatively open air, and had not heard the sound of someone apparating. He thought that someone might be tracking them. when night came, and still no Death Eaters came to grab them, he said they'd have to take even greater precautions, if such a thing were possible. Both Harry and Hermione agreed with this.

In order to try and shake any eyes they might have, they didn't apparate back to the forest they'd been in. Instead, they decided to take an alternative path which would add another half a day to their trip. This probably wouldn't shake a determined Death Eater, but absent any clear idea what had inspired their arrival, they had take whatever measures they could.

While they were en route, Hermione told them what little she knew of the Wizarding community in America. A large part of the wizarding community lived out in the open, compared to everywhere else. She didn't think you could find them in the phone book, but a lot of the Wizards in America didn't believe in using memory charms on Muggles to hide their existence. The Muggle Government supposedly had a branch that was devoted entirely to dealing with supernatural powers, though she thought this was more rumor than actual fact.

The magical community was also supposedly more hi-tech. Whereas Hogwarts was not wired for any form of electricity, thus making most Muggle technology useless, in America, many of the wizards, called "technopagans”, had embraced this new form of advancement. One of the most prominent of these, a witch named Jenny Calendar, had lived in Sunnydale for the last couple of years until her suspicious, unsolved death less than six months ago. Harry wondered if that meant someone working for the Dark Lord had gotten to her.

The banking community in the states was run not by goblins but by gnomes ---- Hermione was pretty sure this had been the subject of some kind of war that had raged just after America had been colonized, but was foggy on the details. She did know that there was a major bank in Los Angeles, and they'd have to find it to change their money for use in America--- a lot of the major wizarding families there operated strictly on Muggle coinage. She thought it unlikely that the key might open a deposit box there, but wasn't prepared to rule it out.

All of this led back to a question that none of them could answer with certainty ---- how safe would the three of them be in America? Everything they had gleaned from Remus and the Daily Prophet indicated that Voldemort's presence in the U.S. was scattered at best ---- it was too big a place, and the Dark Lord didn't have much of a base there. That didn't mean that he wasn't watching certain areas with great interest---- he had to be monitoring the Hellmouths. And just because there was a wizarding community in California didn't mean that there weren't other dangers--- the vampire and demon communities were especially heavy on the West Coast.

Ron had one last pertinent question: "Once we get to LA, how do we get to Sunnydale, walk or do we actually take some other mode of transportation?"

"We may need to stay in LA a bit longer," Hermione pointed out. "The portkey that we're using is probably the same one Dumbledore used, which means the key probably goes with some Muggle bank there. We probably won't even have to use magic to just get a look."

Harry didn't want to think how many banks were in a city which contained at least fifteen million people, but he was inclined to think that it was that very reasoning that had prompted Dumbledore to use the key in the first place. They'd worry about the details when they got there.

"Also, we may need to make contact to find out where Buffy Summers is in the first place." According to the last bit of research that had come from overseas, Buffy had been absent from the Hellmouth for nearly three months. They had to at least consider the possibility that she was dead, and, if necessary, find out who'd been called in her place. "Someone in the magical world will know where she is. We just have to pin it down."

"And Dumbledore indicated that there was some other kind of weapon in the states," Harry reminded her. "Whatever it is --- and he wasn't the type to exaggerate--- it's probably in California somewhere. "

Ron decided to put forth the question they'd been avoiding. "What if we get to Buffy Summers and she tells us to go to hell?" he asked. "You know what Lupin taught us --- Slayers have never gotten along with wizards in the best of circumstances. And she's already entrenched on a Hellmouth. That's gotta be a full time job."

In all honesty, Harry was not prepared to deal with this possibility. Remus might think that Buffy was an independent person, but they had no idea what kind of training she'd received under her Watcher, a Rupert Giles. For all they knew, he had filled her head with the Council party line on the wizarding community. And she might have a very good reason to be positioned on a Hellmouth --- what if while they were thwarting Voldemort, another demonic threat arose, and the Slayer wasn't there to deal with it.

It was Hermione, surprisingly, who answered the question. "She'll help us because we do have something we can offer her. Something that I'm almost certain the Watcher's Council has been making sure she can't get."

"What's that?"

"A longer life."

Ron and Harry were a little thunderstruck by this, but when they pressed her for more details, she begged off answering. "I'm not sure of anything yet. Right now, it's just theoretical. I'd rather hold off until we were there, and I can get some solid answers from her Watcher."

Hermione then got a look on her face that Harry had only associated with this and her cause for House-ElF freedom. Under other circumstances, Harry might have pushed her a little, but right now, they had a lot on their plates. Besides, it wasn't as if he weren’t keeping a few secrets too.

Ron argued the point a little, then decided to let it go. Harry was actually surprised that his friend was willing to concede so easily, then saw that he was still watching the skies.

Considering what had happened just three days earlier, a little paranoia might not be out of place.

After all the maneuvering that they had done to get there, their arrival at the Portkey was almost anti-climatic. The quarry looked like any of a hundred others in England. However, now they were thwarted by a factor not even Hermione had expected. Muggles were using the quarry for construction.

When Ron raised the question of whether or not the Muggles might have accidentally moved the Portkey, Harry had told them that there was a pretty strong Imperious charm around it, which would cause Muggles to think twice before they attempted to move it. Ron, who had gotten more pessimistic since the Death Eater attack, asked how they would be able to find it. Hermione had said that, according to the Directory, it would look like a rock that had no business being there.

"Well, let's just hope we can find it before Murray's Law goes into effect," Ron replied.

"Murphy's Law," Harry corrected, but didn't say anything to persuade Ron otherwise--- he was waiting for the other shoe to drop as well.

They had to wait until the workers all piled out of the place. Night was just beginning to fall when the three of them entered the quarry proper.

Ron's fear were not entirely unwarranted ---- the quarry was a sprawling place nearly half a mile in diameter, and every foot of the place was filled with rocks of every shape, size and color. What was more, they had to do their search by the light of their wands.

Not for the first time, Harry wondered why every magical resource he read was so vague when it came to specifics--- which brought his mind back to the prophecy again--- something he could do nothing about, but that he couldn't get his mind away from.

They had been searching for two hours before Hermione hesitantly raised her voice. "I think I've found it."

They had gotten so spread out that it took Ron and Harry another five minutes to walk their way to the sound of Hermione's voice. Neither of them had any doubt that Hermione was correct, and when they got there, they all breathed sighs of relief.

She was standing among a pile of large black rocks. To one side of them was a flatter rock almost green in color. "Looks like this is it," Ron agreed.

The three of them gathered around the stone. "All right" Harry told them. "Anybody who wants to get off, this is the last chance."

Hermione and Ron both looked at Harry as though he gone daft. "We've gone through too much crap just to get here," Ron reminded him. "It may be scary to be heading towards a Hellmouth, but it can't be that much worse than----"

"That's not what I meant," Harry countered, picking up the ragged copy. "None of us have ever had to travel this long a distance by Portkey, and we don't even have a specific drop off point for this one. For all we know, we could teleport out a thousand feet above the ground---- or, for that matter, right into the ocean. Just getting there could be ---"

"Stop trying to talk us out of it," Hermione reminded them. "There's no safe place for us here. At least in Los Angeles, we might have a chance."

Harry paused. "Get everything into the bag," he said. "And then get ready to hold on."

Making sure that everything they had was in place, especially the locket and the Invisibility Cloak, they finally linked hands. Harry began to chant the incantation, and the portkey began to glow.

"Here. Goes. Nothing," Harry said, and grabbed the rock.

A silent white flash filled the night.

Harry and his friends had extinguished their wands. They had checked for passer-bys every five minutes. They had watched the skies, and made sure that when they reached the portkey, they had buffeted the surrounding area with Silence charms.

Nevertheless, they were still spotted. By someone who wasn't quite their enemy, but who viewed wizards in a very poor light.

"Quentin, we may have a problem," Roger Wyndham-Price said into the phone.
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