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Chapter 25: Honour
“Go go go, move your arses!” I bellow, standing at the door to the Room of Requirement as hastily gathered members of One Hogwarts file through, buzzing with nervous excitement. There are only twenty of them, I couldn’t be bothered trying to track them all down and at any rate we really don’t have enough time.
“So we’re fighting,” Scorpius says, absently waving students through the door. “Honour Guard, escaped convicts and Dementors. Should be fun.”
“McGonagall’s going to kill us,” I comment.
“She’ll understand,” he says dismissively. “Okay, no she won’t, but that’s tough. Everyone here’s of age, we’re legally allowed to fight if we want. Have we got the Professor Ls?”
“Lupin and Longbottom? Not yet, I’ll Patronus message them.”
I quickly fire off a Patronus, sending it with my message in the direction of the staff quarters.
“Weasley! Malfoy! What are you doing?”
“Shit,” Scorpius mutters as the imposing figure of Professor McGonagall looms in from the darkened corridor.
“We’re fighting,” I reply unapologetically. “The Ministry’s being invaded in three minutes and the Auror Office have asked for backup.”
“And you didn’t see fit to tell me?”
“With all due respect, Professor, we didn’t have time.”
“Nonsense,” McGonagall says briskly, striding into the Room of Requirement. “It may surprise you to learn, I can hold my own in battle.” She vanishes through the Floo.
“Did you just see—”
“Yeah, I did, and I don’t believe it either.”
Once everyone’s through the Floo, Scorpius and I close the door to the Room and hastily step through.
“Welcome,” Uncle Harry calls to the assembled masses. “We know very little of the nature of this attack, apart from the fact there are fourteen wizards and any number of Dementors. I would ask you all to do your very best in casting a Patronus and keeping it beside you throughout the battle. For those who have never faced Dementors before, they will drain your happiness. It is essential you recognise this as a Dementor attack, and not a hopeless battle situation, in order to fight the Dementors and keep your Patronus strong. We’ve been informed this is a revenge attack, and we believe specific targets will be the Minister of Magic, myself, my daughter Lily, and to a lesser extent, my wife and the other Aurors.”
“Why is Lily a specific target?” I ask Scorpius in a low voice.
He shakes his head. “No idea.”
“They’re arriving by Apparition, as far as we know,” Harry continues. “Which means they’ll be coming in from these walls. We’ve got groups of Aurors stationed at every possible entrance to the Ministry, just in case, but we decided to keep the majority of you in here. If you can immobilise the attackers, capture or restrain them without killing, please, do so.”
“Ever the pacifist, is Harry Potter,” Scorpius comments. “Dad used to call him Mr Expelliarmus.”
I can’t help but snigger at that, but quickly silence myself in view of the situation.
And then, with a loud crack, fourteen Dark wizards arrive simultaneously along the walls of the Atrium, and the air erupts with curses.
We should have beaten them within ten minutes. There are sixty of us, fourteen of them, but they have thirty-five Dementors and whenever we take down a member of the Guard the Dementors swarm forward again; they’re alternating their attacks, and as we weaken so too do our defences against the things, my Patronus is fading and I can’t fight the feeling of despair and hopelessness threatening to overcome me; every time one comes near all I can see is the green flash of light that killed Dad…
“Rose!” Al Potter yells at me, and I leap aside as a spell soars through the space I just vacated, hitting a wall behind me and bursting into flames.
I wheel around to face my attacker, a masked, cloaked figure, and instantly Al and I are drawn into a duel, cursing, blocking, cursing, blocking…
“Confringo!” I shout, and the floor behind the Guard member explodes, causing him to leap aside, distracted. Al and I fire seven Body-Binding Curses at him, and I follow through with an obscure charm that negates the effects of finite incantatem.
“Good work,” I tell him, and immediately we’re drawn back into the battle as a swarm of Dementors approach.
“Expecto Patronum!” I shout desperately, but the resulting Patronus is barely strong enough to hold them off, let alone chase them away, and Al’s not faring much better.
Another wave of despair washes over me; we’re losing, ten of our wizards are down and only one of the Guard, I haven’t seen Mum or Scorpius since the Guard invaded, I’m tired, I’ve been hit by two curses that are causing unrelenting pain, there’s no end in sight.
“Stay positive, Rose!” Al calls urgently as the Dementors approach even closer, and the green light once again fills my mind, I can’t escape it…
“EXPECTO PATRONUM!” Scorpius roars from somewhere behind me, and out of his wand burst one, two, three, four Patroni, one after the other, and the Dementors scatter. I twist around, wondering what gave him that much hope, and see Draco and Astoria Malfoy striding into the fray, firing curses at cloaked and masked figures.
“We can do this, Rose!” he says determinedly, seizing my free hand with his. It’s just the lift I need and my Patronus bursts forth, shining brightly and chasing after the Dementors, forcing them further and further back.
We continue fighting for ages, hours, minutes, I’ve lost track of time, but the Honour Guard are holding their own; there are still nine of them fighting, while thirty of us have been incapacitated; I don’t know how it’s happening, but the Guard are winning, they’re more powerful than any of us imagined…
Scorpius and I have been on almost constant Dementor attack for the duration of the battle; we’re not specific targets, and while I’m with him I can cast a Patronus; without him I’m incapable of it.
Luna’s duelling one-on-one with a Guard member; she stumbles slightly, and suddenly the cloaked figure duelling her stops dead, wand clattering to the ground. Seizing my opportunity, I summon the wand to prevent him from continuing the battle, but he seems to have no intention of it, he just stands stock still, staring at Luna.
There’s only one person that guy can be.
Tearing off his mask and throwing it at his feet, Lorcan Scamander turns on his heel and breaks into a run, vanishing with a loud crack the moment he reaches the Apparition area.
I hesitantly walk up to a stunned looking Luna, handing her Lorcan’s wand and glancing around the Atrium.
Mum, Harry and Ginny are duelling three members of the Guard; Lily’s duelling two and instinctively I break into a run, Scorpius chasing after me. As we reach them, another member of the Guard breaks away from a duel and joins ours; despite the masks and cloaks I know exactly who we’re duelling; the one with slow reflexes is Emily; the tall one is Damascus, the slight, lightning-fast one is Natalia, Natalia who killed my brother…
“Traitor!” Natalia snarls at Lily, and I take advantage of their moment of distraction to curse their masks off.
“I told McGonagall I could take you on in a duel,” Scorpius informs Damascus, firing a series of curses at him.
Natalia’s attention suddenly focuses on me and I swallow my apprehension; I’m tired, I’m injured and Natalia is the most accomplished duellist in the school, but the memory of Hugo floods my mind and gives me a new surge of energy, and I begin to duel.
I’m on the defence from the beginning; it’s all I can do to cast Protego in time and I know it’s only a matter of time before she tries Avada Kedavra, I can’t let that happen, I’m all Mum has left, and the thought spurs me on to fight back…
A flash of red light nearly burns my eyes as Lily sends Emily flying several feet into the air and turns her attention to Natalia, something venomous burning in her gaze that causes a flicker of fear to cross Natalia’s face.
“I hear you killed my cousin,” Lily says coolly, bringing her wand up to point directly at Natalia. “Crucio!”
I’ve never seen the Cruciatus curse used before, and I recoil instinctively as Natalia falls to the floor screaming. I can’t believe it’s Lily, little Lily behind the wand casting it, but at the same time I feel a perverse sense of justice; she killed Hugo, she deserves it…
Lily lifts the curse after only seconds, immediately immobilising her with Petrificus Totalus. Seeing this, Damascus turns to flee.
“Not so fast, mate!” Scorpius yells after him, and a rope shoots out from his wand, wrapping around Damascus and bringing him to his knees. Scorpius reels him in with a look of nothing short of merriment and a surge of hope floods through me. We can do it. We can win. The Guard is down to six…no, five. Five!
The Dementors surge forward again, but they don’t stand a chance against Scorpius and I; between us we cast eleven Patroni, one after the other, and drive them back again.
“I’m getting really sick of these Dementors.”
“Scorpius, turn around,” I say urgently; a member of the Guard is striding towards Lily and somehow I know he’s intending to kill.
“YOU BETRAYED US!” the wizard bellows, raising his wand—
“Piertotum locomotor!” I cry desperately, and the statues in the Fountain of Magical Brethren lurch forward, spraying water everywhere; the Guard member is shouting the incantation, Avada Kedavra—
The house-elf statue launches into the air in front of Lily, blocking the curse, and she leaps out from behind it, eyes wild and wand raised.
“I’ll show you betrayal, Octavian Prince! Avada Kedavra!”
The curse casts a green glow throughout the entire Atrium and heads spin to see the source; it seems almost surreal, Lily standing wildly with wand raised and Octavian Prince, the leader of the Guard, falling to the ground; a palpable silence descends, a silence broken the moment Octavian hits the ground. As if startled back to life, the members of the Guard struggle to their feet or take to their heels, fleeing for the Apparition area.
“Secure the premises!” Harry yells, and a sound like clanging metal rings out as the Apparition areas are sealed off, trapping the fleeing Guard members.
Stunning spells and Body Bind curses secure the Honour Guard where they stand.
“To Azkaban,” Mum says simply. “All of them.”