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Chapter Eleven
Boom!  Boom!  Boom!

Everyone in the room was thrown to the floor in the blast.  Charles threw himself on top of his son to protect him, and Agnes covered Minh.  The other four were trying to take cover as best they could under a ruined table.  As the dust began to settle, the loud wailing of the air raid siren could still be heard penetrating the darkness.  The sound of dozens upon dozens of aeroplanes provided a frightening background noise, and the nearby explosions of bombs were bringing plaster down from the ceiling.  Another bomb hit too close by, making the upstairs of the house start to collapse, and it was only a matter of time before the roof gave in completely.  Minh, Ginny and Eustace were screaming, the two adults were shaking and clutching the two youngest members of the group, and Harry, Ron and Hermione all had silent tears running down their faces.  After a few minutes, the dust had thinned enough for everyone to see each other, and the four time travellers made their way from under the table to where the others were positioned.

What should we do now?! Hermione asked Charles.

I suggest we gather what we can and head to the nearest underground station.  They are the best places to escape the bombs, as we don't have our own shelter.

Everyone shakily stood up, but was soon thrown to the ground again from a shockwave as the house next door was annihilated.  After staggering to their feet a second time, they quickly moved around the house and gathered what they could as fast as possible.  There seemed to be a brief brake in the bombing, but they knew it wouldn't last long.  The students grabbed the bags they had brought down earlier to fill with their shrunken Christmas presents, and threw in as many extra items as they could fit in there.  Once they had everything, they met up again at the door.  It was Ginny who suddenly had a terrifying thought.

Mr. Potter?  What happened to the butler and maid?

I'm afraid they were upstairs when the last bomb hit.  I found them when I was trying to gather potions from the bathroom cabinet.  They're dead.

The group became even more depressed at this latest pronouncement, but vowed to put it out of their heads until they were somewhere safe.  Before they could dwell on it too much, they wrapped themselves in their thick winter cloaks and went out of the door.

What met them out there was something they had never expected.  The snow covered ground was littered with rubble and bodies, both whole ones and pieces of those unfortunate enough to have been right on top of a blast.  A deep red stained the white in some places, vivid splashes of colour in an otherwise grey world.  Buildings all along the street were reduced to piles of stone and mortar, people's possessions littering the ground in various stages of destruction.  To the left, where the neighbouring house had once stood, was a heap of rubble with a porcelain bathtub sticking out, and a spray of water from a burst water pipe.  The people inside hadn't had a chance.  

Looking around, the group could see frantic Muggles running back and forth.  Down the road, one family was frantically trying to pull two burning children out of a demolished building as their screams of agony filled the air, only to be suddenly cut off as a nearby wall collapsed.  Wardens were trying to gather the injured and herd the healthy into the nearby station.  Each and every one of the people on the street was wearing a hideous gas mask, making them look like demons in a hellish landscape.

After a few minutes of standing, Agnes pushed the group along the street as the hum of the aeroplanes once again grew louder.  As they ran down the street, they could see their path lighted by the enormous search lights scanning the skies for any enemy craft.  The harsh sound of anti-aircraft fire added to the overall din.  A bomb hit the ground a few houses in front of them, throwing them across the road and into a burning building.  It gave them a good view of the exploding home, among other things a flaming Christmas tree flying out of the front window.  Getting to their feet, they made one final dash to the underground station, desperate to leave Hades behind them.

There were crowds of people at the steps, all trying to reach the safety of the underground tunnels before the next round of bombs fell.  Everyone was pushing into everyone else in the mad panic.  The youngest people, the few children who remained in the area, were being suffocated by the masses of flesh and cloth.  Minh and Eustace, being only eleven, were having difficulty breathing.  The older students didn't have it as bad, as they were tall enough to reach the stale air of the station.

After what felt like an eternity, the crowds started to ease as the recently homeless found themselves a comfortable place on the ground to wait out the attack.  The Potter group found an isolated corner to sit in.  They spread their cloaks out on the ground and made themselves as relaxed as possible.  They were all frightened, none more so than Minh.  The older students and the adults were finding it easier to cope with, especially the time travellers.  They had been in battle before and knew what to expect, although they had never seen anything on this scale before.  Eustace also knew in the back of his mind that this could one day happen, and had prepared himself as best he could.  However, Minh had come to the human world to learn about their magic and culture, not to be nearly killed twice within two months.  She seemed to have gone into shock, and was rocking backwards and forwards, held tightly by Mrs. Potter.

Soon, the tunnel had calmed a little.  The rush of people had slowed down to a trickle and those already there were talking quietly or crying over lost friends and family.  The wardens were going around handing out cups of tea and biscuits.  The bombs were just starting up again when a strong female voice started to sing.

When Britain first, at heaven's command,
   Arose from out the azure main,
   Arose, arose, arose from out the azure main.
   This was the charter, the charter of the land,
   And guardian angels sang the strain.

Looking down the station, the group could see a young woman, no older that twenty five, her arms wrapped around three young children.  They should have been evacuees, but they had obviously remained in London for some reason.  Next to her, an old woman was clutching her hand, her other arm holding a baby.  The rest of the little family soon started to join in.

Rule Britannia!
   Britannia rule the waves.
   Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

The three young children took over from their mother and grandmother.

The nations not so blest as thee,
   Must in their turn to tyrants fall,
   Must in their turn, must in their turn,
   To tyrants fall,
   While thou shall flourish,
   Shall flourish great and free,
   The dread and envy of them all.

By the next chorus, Hermione and Agnes had started to sing along with the song.

Rule Britannia!
   Britannia rule the waves.
   Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.
This time the rest of the group was singing along, except for Minh, who didn't know the words.

Still more majestic shalt thou rise,
   More dreadful from each foreign stroke.
   More dreadful, more dreadful
   From each foreign stroke.
   As the loud blast that tears the skies,
   Serves but to root thy native oak.

By the time they reached the next chorus, more people in the tunnel had started to sing along.
Rule Britannia!
   Britannia rule the waves.
   Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

By this time the whole shelter was filled with the sound of singing.  Even the wardens had stopped their duties to join in the show of British solidarity in the face of destruction.
Thee haughty tyrants ne'er shall tame,
   All their attempts to bend thee down,
   All their attempts, all their attempts
   To bend thee down,
   Will but arouse thy generous flame.
   But work their woe and thy renown.

Witch, wizard and Muggle alike sang for all they were worth, a proud show of defiance to the enemy that they couldn't see, but knew was there.
Rule Britannia!
   Britannia rule the waves.
   Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

The Potter group sang for their lives, and the lives of those around them.  Out of all the people gathered in the tunnel, they alone appreciated the threat they were under.  Half of them had faced the Dark Lord Grindelwald and lived; only to be brought down by a Muggle war they had no place in.  It occurred to them that they were all the same.  Magical and Muggle united under a common threat, all trying to survive.
To thee belongs the rural reign,
   Thy cities shall with commerce shine,
   Thy cities shall, thy cities shall
   With commerce shine.
   All thine shall be the subject main,
   And every shore it circles thine.

The sound carried throughout the neighbourhood, a single sound to drown out all the others.  Air raid sirens, anti-aircraft fire, aeroplanes and bombs combined to create a din that could not destroy the strong notes of the patriotic Londoners sitting in their shelter, waiting for Armageddon to end.
Rule Britannia!
   Britannia rule the waves.
   Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

A bomb hit directly above them, causing ceramic and plaster to rain from the ceiling, but still the singing did not waver.
The muses still, with freedom found,
   Shall to thy happy coast repair,
   Shall to thy happy coast,
   Thy happy coasts repair,
   Best isle of beauty,
   With matchless beauty crowned,
   And manly hearts to guard the fair.
Rule Britannia!
   Britannia rule the waves.
   Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

As the song reached its final crescendo, the hearts of the people filled with the one thing they would need more than ever now.  Hope.

More bombs were dropping, sending showers of fragmented tile onto the heads of the assembled crowd.  Turning to the students, the Potters told them to stay put while they went to get some tea.  On their way back from the warden, they stopped by the family who had started the singing, handing the old lady and the young mother each a cup of steaming tea.  Just as they were turning to leave, another bomb hit directly above them.  The ceiling there groaned for a second, before crashing to the floor, crushing everyone under it.

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