Rachel had never seen Harry so angry as he she did when they set eyes upon the glowing green skull and snake symbol that was left floating in the skies about the relief camp. The Dark Mark had returned and it enraged Harry beyond anything she had ever seen in him. Oh, she'd seen him angry, plenty angry, but nothing like the sheer, pulsing aura of rage that seemed to pour off him at that moment. It was just something else altogether, something that would have been quite intoxicating to a Sith.
And then, with a snarl, he levelled his wand at the foul symbol and released a wave of white magic that utterly destroyed it, leaving behind nothing than a few glowing green motes of energy that fell harmlessly to the ground as if they were nothing more than a few oddly coloured flakes of snow. The symbol was destroyed but there was hardly any denying what it represented.
"I thought that the Death Eaters had been broken," said Rachel, her hand resting on the hilt of her lightsabre. "This is a most unpleasant surprise."
"Like all cockroaches they refuse to die out," snarled Harry. "Well, I'll put that to the test soon enough."
Rachel looked away from Harry and his melodrama to take in the scene before her. The relief camp had been one of the largest of its kind the last time she had cause to take interest in it but now . . . now it was nothing. It burned like any other block of buildings that had been set to the torch with no concern as to the noble purpose that it had served during its lifespan. Thick clouds of smoke curled up into the air as she watched and one of the small outer buildings collapsed in on itself, too badly damaged to remain standing upright any longer.
A closer look revealed that many of the camp's buildings had yet to catch fire, contrary to her initial impressions, but it was a rather small consolation. She couldn't imagine that they'd ever reopen the place after what had happened so it was all rather moot. Whoever had attacked the place, though that seemed like it was to be a question with only one answer, had succeeded quite handily when it came to spreading misery and breaking the back of attempts to alleviate the same.
A young-looking wizard in red robes rushed up to them at that point. He looked quite disturbed. "Headmaster Potter," he said quickly. "It's . . . it's terrible. What do we do?"
"First, you calm yourself," said Harry. "Remember your training. Occlude your mind now and deal with emotions later when it's safe."
"I . . . yes, headmaster."
"Now, we need to take care of the fires and examine the scene," said Harry. "I expect you've already started doing that but it bears repeating. We must cast a very careful eye over this place. If there's one thing I learned in my time at Hogwarts it's that even the smallest thing can be a critical clue."
"Have you set up a perimeter?" asked Rachel. "I don't mean to insult you but it looks as if there are locals poking their noses in. That could end quite badly."
"We're trying, Master Giles," said the wizard. "But until the local army units get here we just don't have enough manpower to keep the place secure without it burning to the ground around us."
"That would be a problem," agreed Rachel. "And I don't suppose you can just chuck a ward up."
"You can't just-"
The auror was quieted when Harry, with a circular motion of his hand, let loose a massive torrent of blinding blue energy that hurtled outwards away from its creator before settling into a dome around the relief camp. A moment later it faded out of visible range.
"You were saying?" asked Rachel.
"Uh, well, most people can't just 'chuck' a ward up just like that. It's a bit more, uh, involved than that."
"You would be well advised to keep a closer eye on the resources you have at hand," said Harry. "You never know what you'll turn up if you look closely enough."
Harry's voice was relaxed enough as he did his wise old headmaster routine but the white- knuckled grip he had on his wand gave lie to that impression.
"Of course," said the auror. "Uh, I've got to go. Help put the fire out, you know."
"I shall join you," said Harry.
Rachel stayed back and simply watched. Magic did not come quite as easily or naturally for her as it did for these wizards and generating water and the like, something exceedingly easy for wanded wizards, was not quite so simple for her type. Her abilities laid along different lines and there was little she could do to help them; no, she would just get in the way, as much as she hated to admit it.
Though saying that, watching the wizards work to put out the fires contained some entertainment value. Most of them created modest little jets of foam or water when they cast their spells, some could manage more but most were fairly modest, but Harry? Well, he was a one man tidal wave when he put his mind to it. Some of the wizards looked to be highly disgruntled by the way he upstaged them too. All in all, it amused her highly even amidst the grim surroundings.
And within a few minutes it was done. The only remnants of the fires were the smouldering remains of some of the collapsed outer buildings of the camp and the deep scars left upon the larger buildings that made up the core of it all. But that was a superficial repair job. She could still feel the dead howling their fear, their pain, into the ether at the edges of her mind. The echoes of the evil that had been done there, the darkness that had been unleashed, still bounced around her mind filling it with the horrors of a bloody massacre.
It was as unpleasant as it was familiar.
Accompanying the aurors and Harry on their inspection of the crime scene was something that Rachel began to regret the moment she set eyes on the first body. The twisted look of agony and fear on the face of what looked to be someone who hadn't yet left their teenage years was not one she would soon forget. Wizards could kill quickly and easily and, most of all, painlessly but they simply hadn't. They had drawn it out. They had tortured that girl to death.
It wasn't like it was anything she hadn't seen before but the sight still had its power. She was a Jedi and the girl was an innocent. What blanks she couldn't puzzle out through simple logic were helpfully filled in by the Force. A student on a gap year, planning to study environmental science, looking to do some good deeds and to try and alleviate some of the suffering left in the wake of the wars. Effectively an innocent, or as close to one as you were likely to find when it came to people on the cusp of adulthood, and she'd been tortured under the cruciatus till her eyes had ruptured before they'd finally deigned to finish her off.
She didn't even realise that she'd been speaking out loud till she noticed the wizards looking at her with looks of utter horror and revulsion on their faces. A few of the younger ones looked positively ill, even after growing up in a world torn apart by war.
"This is what Dark Lords do," said Harry. "This is what the Death Eaters do. They enjoy it. It's a game to them. An enjoyable game. This is why we have to fight. This is why we have to win."
There were plenty more sights along those lines as they examined the building and set up the barriers and other spells that would keep the place fresh to preserve any forensic evidence. Most of the people working at the camp were just idealistic kids with a head full of how they were going to change the world by offering a helping hand to the oppressed peoples of said world. Each had their own little tale of woe, the Force echoing with their tormented, disbelieving last thoughts, and none had deserved what had happened to them.
And all had been murdered in some brutal, grotesque fashion purely to make a statement of intent. It wasn't just the deaths that left behind echoes. Oh no, it was the killings too, as closely related as those are. She could feel the glee of the murderers, the rush of power they felt as they sank into the dark arts,
It was a rather numbing experience to hear all those last thoughts, all those potted biographies of the dead, as she went. By the time they'd performed the last preservation spell she was almost ready to start calling upon Sith teachings to convert those dark echoes from pain to power or at least slip back into the comfortably numb state of uncaring she'd felt around such things for so many years.
"That's it, I think," said Harry. "Now we just have to check the cameras. It'll be useless but it had to be done."
Rachel felt the need to do something rather more useful than to check whether the cameras had caught the misdeeds of a people who had been able to move unobserved through London of all places before they were forced to give up their pretensions of independence. She knelt on a spot of clear floor by the last body they had found, a security guard who had apparently been bled to death, and incanted a simple spell that she had learned from Willow.
"Blood of the slain," she incanted. "Guide me to this man's killer."
A simple incantation for a simple ritual. The pool of blood she kneeled by seemed to wiggle for a moment before it started to move and form shapes. Meaningless shapes that couldn't possibly lead her to anything. She upped the power, tried to burn her way past any resistance, and the movements sped up but were still meaningless. More power. More speed. More power. More power and this time the shapes grew erratic and formless. She stopped.
"I could have told you it wouldn't work," said Harry. "Dark magic protects its own. Such links are severed or at least muffled by the spells as they are cast."
Rachel stood. "I had to try," she said. "Perhaps a witch of greater skill could provide more answers."
"You have someone in mind."
The aurors started to drift away, moving to leave the building and presumable take guarding positions and such.
"This is a bad deal, Harry," said Rachel. "Very bad all round. It's going to drive a major wedge between wizards and muggles in short order if they keep doing things like this and that's not even going into the effects it will have when relief missions start closing down in response."
"The world wanted integrated wizards. Well, they're getting them."
"I don't think this was what they had in mind."
"Maybe not, but it was inevitable unless they herded the wizards into death camps and finished it once and for all. They thought they could just cow wizards with the threat of force. Ha! Now I'm going to have to go through it all again. Another Dark Lord, another family for them to try and take away from me, and all because of the bloody government and their bloody stupid policies."
It was a somewhat one-dimensional judgement but Rachel was rather of the mind that it was better to let him blow off steam and work it off rather than to argue it. He'd see the other side, he had at the time, when he was calmer and the effect of seeing Voldemort's mark again had passed. That was certainly not something she had expected but it had a certain air of inevitability about it now that she had.
"But this time you have me to help you," said Rachel. "That's something."