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The Final Battle by HPFF United

Format: Short story collection
Chapters: 238
Word Count: 262,964
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme, Contains Spoilers

Genres: Drama, General
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione
Pairings:

First Published: 06/13/2010
Last Chapter: 08/14/2010
Last Updated: 08/16/2010

Summary:



The final battle involved many characters and creatures, from both the 'bad' and the 'good' sides. Each character played a part, and these are some of their stories.

banner by Violet Gryfindor of Hufflepuff


Chapter 1: Ocean Eyes
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Ocean Eyes
by: Friday Star
(Gryffindor)


No. You're still here. I'm dreaming. You were laughing. You're still laughing only my ears have stopped working. Keep laughing! Laugh! You're not laughing. You're not talking. You're not making any sound at all. You're not moving.

No. Talk! Move! Laugh! Do something.

No. Wake up.

No. You're not waking up. You're just sleeping. I'm just dreaming. You're just sleeping and I'm just dreaming. We're just dreaming the same dream. Horrible dream. Bad dream. Dreams aren't real. This isn't real.

No.

No.

No.

This is real. It's real. Real. So inescapably real. You're not waking up. You won't wake up.

No. I'll bring you back. I'll kill him and bring you back. If he goes, then you'll come back.

An eye for an eye

A tooth for a tooth.

A life for a life.

His life for your life.

Where is he? I can't see him. I can't find him. I CAN'T FIND HIM. Help me, Fred. Help me find him. Help me bring you back. I need you back here.

***



I can't do this. I need to sit. I don't care if I die. I want to die. You left me.

Alone.

So alone.

All alone.

all alone.

I can't breathe. I don't want to breathe. It's not breathing when you aren't here. Nothing is the same when you aren't here. And yet it is. Why is the night still black? Why are the stars still shining? They should stop. They should notice. They should know the world has ended. Because the world has ended. Nothing can be the same. I want to plunge into a well of nothing. I want to feel nothing. Nothing would be better than this pain. Pain in my chest from my heart beating. I wish it would stop. Pain in my legs from holding my own weight. I wish I was weightless. Pain in my eyes from seeing it again

and again

and again.

Over and over: FLASH, and you're gone, FLASH, and you're gone, FLASH, and you're gone. You're still gone. I close my eyes: FLASH, and you're gone.

***



Please. Please come back. I can't do this without you. You're the glue that holds me together at the cracks. (I'm falling apart.) You're the hot-chocolate that I can't sleep without. (I've got insomnia.) You're the favourite pair of shoes that are slightly too small but are worn every day, nonetheless. (My feet are bare.) You're the clouds that keep the sky from falling. (The stars keep on getting closer every time I blink.) You're the tiles on the roof that keep the rain from getting in. (I can't get dry.) You're the bones that make me strong. (I can't stand up.) Please come back.

***



Mum's crying. Dad's crying. I'm crying. Everyone's crying. We're going to fill an ocean for you, Fred. I could do it all by myself. I'd fill an ocean with tears and then drown myself in it. Then I wouldn't miss you so much. I miss you so much. I keep thinking I can hear you breathing but you're not.

Your eyes were so blue like mine. Blue like the sky, we used to say. We have sky eyes! Ocean eyes! Way better than Ron's eyes. Ron's got river eyes, and rivers are boring. Nobody else knows about our ocean eyes. Who am I going to tell that to now? Who's going to help me get the girls? Who's going to make terrible jokes about my ear? Who's going to be you now?

***



I'm scared to look in the mirror, Fred. I'm so scared. I could have saved you. I could have jumped in front of you. I could have killed him before he killed you. I could have pushed you out of the way.

I didn't save you.

I didn't save you.

I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I miss you. Please, won't you come back?



Chapter 2: Repentance
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Repentance
by: blueirony
(Gryffindor)



“The words that a father speaks to his children in the privacy of home are not heard by the world, but, as in whispering-galleries, they are clearly heard at the end and by posterity.” – Jean Paul Richter


Pain. Excruciating, unrelenting pain was the only thing she could focus on as she stumbled her way through the dew covered grass, the sounds of the battle echoing around her. It was as though a thousand knives, dipped in hot, molten lava, had pierced the entire right side of her torso. Every breath inhaled was agony; every step, torture.

Keep walking, keep walking, keep walking. Gritting her teeth against the pain, she sneaked a look down at the robe she had bunched into a ball and pressed under her arm. Once a beautiful beige, the robe was now soaked through with the deep red of her blood. Trying not to faint at the thought, she continued her trek across the Hogwarts grounds, determined to make it to the castle before she completely passed out.

Keep walking, keep walking. Her left foot caught on something and she stumbled. Tears flooded her eyes as white hot pain flashed through the right side of her body and she staggered as the world tipped on an axis. She hunched over involuntarily and took some deep breaths as she continued to apply pressure to her right side. Once she felt the dizziness pass, she opened her eyes and immediately wished she hadn’t.

Lying at her foot was the body of a boy, no more than a year older than her. Her eyes ran down the awkward angle of his limbs and took in the lifelines of his fingers, the paleness of his face and she stood in shock, rooted to the spot. But what struck her the most was the look of pure terror on his young face, a look that would be forever etched into the smooth lines of his eyes, his cheekbones and his forehead. More tears came to her eyes, and she could not prevent these from falling onto her cheeks, the salty tears making tracks through the dirt on her face to fall onto the grass below her. How many more young lives would be lost before the sun rose?

Keep walking, keep walki... But she couldn’t. She couldn’t keep walking. The pain was too much. Her feet felt as though they were made out of stone and the pain in her side was almost unbearable. The thought of taking another step was too much. She needed to stop, she had to stop. She gratefully sank to the grass and rolled to her left side to avoid antagonising the right side of her body, though it felt as if the pain could not be any worse than it already was. Succumbing to the pain and terror of the last few hours, her shoulders shook as her tears turned into sobs.

How could she have been so stupid? What had made her think that she was old enough, strong enough, brave enough to sneak into Hogwarts and fight in the battle? Her father had always told her of the terror and the gripping fear that came with every fight and had always warned her to steer clear of danger where she could.

A celebrated Auror, her father had had his fair share of close encounters with the greatest forces of evil imaginable. As a small girl, she had spent many a night huddled into his warm body on his favourite armchair, her eyes wide as she listened to his deep, rumbling voice regaling the tales of his adventures in the field. Upon reflection in her later years, she had realised that he had left out the graphic details when she was small, but what he had told her was enough. She had decided from an early age that she would do as her father asked her – to stay safe and out of harm’s way.

His death two years earlier at the hands of Death Eaters had turned her and her mother’s worlds upside down. It had taken her many months to come to terms with the fact that her beloved father, her idol, her protector, the man with the kindest eyes in the world was really gone. Many nights she had sat in the same armchair that her father had loved so much and tried to imagine he was there next to her, his arm curled around her body, her head against his chest as she listened to the soft thump of his heartbeat.

Yet, when she heard of the battle only hours earlier, all promises she had made her father were forgotten. She was driven by one thought and one thought only: to fight for the side of light and to make her father proud of her and most importantly, to stare those responsible for his death directly in the eye. More than anything, she wanted her father to look down over her and be proud of the young woman she had become, a young woman who was not afraid to stare evil in the face. Forgotten were the promises of a small girl, staring solemnly into her father’s brown eyes, in their place was the determination of a young woman, adamant to make sure her father’s death had not been in vain. Ignoring any misgivings she may have had about her age and lack of experience, a grim fire ignited inside her. These terrorists, these were the people who were responsible for ripping her father away from her. And she was not going to sit back and allow them to get away with more terror.

Sneaking into Hogwarts had been surprisingly easy. Chaos had befallen upon Hogwarts and no one had noticed a small girl running through the shadows of the grounds. She had had no real plan; she had only wanted to get to the castle as quickly as possible. But the trees of Hogwarts had been unforgiving and she had tripped over a tree root. Before she had been given a chance to stand up and right herself, a ball of pain had erupted in her right side and she had fallen once again at the sudden intensity of it. She had not had a chance to see who had cursed her, though she had heard the rustle of the leaves as they ran further into the shadows. Her only thought after that was to continue toward the castle and make her way to where she knew help was. But the pain in her side had steadily become worse with every step and, though she had been struggling through the grass for almost three-quarters of an hour, she was not even halfway to the castle.

Shifting slightly, the pain crept down her side into her right leg, but the pain barely registered in her hazy brain. She was barely on the brink of consciousness and it was taking every effort for her to keep her eyes open. A thick, black fog was enveloping her and she was struggling to not fall into it. Dimly, she was aware that the dew in the grass was soaking her and that the sounds of the battle were getting louder, but she was too tired to pay full attention to anything but the heaviness of her head.

More tears filled her eyes as she thought of her mother. Was her mother even aware that her daughter was not safely tucked in bed but, instead, barely conscious after taking a nasty curse to her side? Shuddering against the growing pain in her side, she was only dimly aware that she had begun whispering into the darkness, her breath coming in foggy bursts of air.

“Mum... mum... I’m so sorry, mum... please, mum...”

She felt movement in front of her, but she could not find the strength to open her eyes. She felt a hand stroke her face and a sharp inhale as the person in front of her gasped.

“Can you hear me? Open your eyes, shhhh. It’s OK, open your eyes.”

Struggling against the temptation to slip out of consciousness, she concentrated on the soothing voice that had broken through the early morning air. It was a girl, she realised. With a bout of strength she did not know she had, she opened her eyes and absently took in the red hair and concerned, brown eyes of a girl a few years older than her.

“Hurts... mum... doesn’t know... mum...” she managed to gasp out as the heavy sleep threatened her once again. The girl’s eyes widened and she nodded.

“It’s all right. It’s OK. We’re going to get you inside.”

Through the heavy fog that addled her brain, she noted that the words were a lie. This kind girl was lying to her. She knew that she was not going to make it inside. And the thought terrified her. She suddenly wanted to be anywhere but where she was. The bout of bravery that had run through her hours before was gone, in its place was a wounded and panicked young girl, who wanted nothing more than be safe and warm at home. The thought of her mother’s smile and a hot bowl of soup was more than she could take, and the promise she had made herself not one hour ago to not succumb to the terror was broken.

“But I want to go home. I don’t want to fight any more!”

“I know. It’s going to be all right.”

This time she could hear the waver in the older girl’s voice and it was the last straw for her. Tears racked her body as she gave into her despair and she shuddered against the increased pain that they caused. Was it only six weeks ago ago that a shy Ravenclaw had held her hand and given her her first kiss under a tree only a hundred metres away from where she lay? Was it only eight days ago that she had blown out the candles on her fourteenth birthday cake and made a wish? Was it only yesterday that she had spent the day making plans to go her best friend’s older sister’s wedding?

It wasn’t fair! She had so much more to live for. She felt as though her life had only just begun. She could not bear the thought of not living to see another day. Yet, what upset her the most was the thought that her father would be angry with her. She had broken her promise to him. She had not stayed out of harm’s way. She had, stupidly and blindly, run straight into danger’s path and was now dearly paying the consequences. Her father had always been a constant in her life, the one, unwavering person who had always had blind faith in everything she did. How could she have so easily betrayed his memory?

While she dwelled on this last thought, a strange sensation swept through her body. The pain in her side slowly ebbed, almost to the point where she felt nothing. Yet, it was more than that. It was as if everything in the world was slowly fading away. Gone were the sounds of the battle, the screams, the yells and the explosions. Gone was the coldness of the grass beneath her. Gone were the hot gushes of air against her face. In their place was a calming, soothing serenity that filled her every pore, from toe to fingertip.

She inhaled and, instead of the pain that she had become accustomed to in the last hour, the sweet scent of sandalwood and cinnamon filled her senses. The scent was familiar and it filled her with a sense of warmth and love, of nights spent in front of a fire, of kisses on her forehead before bedtime, of rumbling laughter, of days spent in the park. Tears came to her eyes once again, but these were tears of joy and not of pain.

The wind seemed to be whispering to her and, if she strained her eyes, she could feel words of love and reassurance. Love that she had not felt in two years filled every part of her body and she seemed to be drowning in it. A love that had been simmering in her heart for the last two years finally burst open and surrounded her, both inside and out.

As she felt a warm arm encircling her body, she opened her eyes and looked into the warm, brown eyes of a man she had held close to her heart her whole life. They were filled with warmth, love and, above all, pride. And, though she could not hear any words, she knew in her heart that he was saying he loved her, was proud of her, that she had never betrayed him.

And, with a smile on her face, she closed her eyes for the final time and took her last breath.

Yes. Everything was going to be all right.



END



Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, nor anything affiliated or associated with it. Quotes in this have been lifted straight from page 558 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Australian hardback edition. No copyright infringement is intended on any basis.

A/N: This was written for the House Cup 2010 collaboration. I enjoyed the open-endedness of this challenge, and have tried to breathe life into the least significant character in the Final Battle. Hopefully it worked!

Thank you ever so much to ericajen for beta-ing.

blueirony


Chapter 3: Things Left Behind
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Things Left Behind
by angeless7fallenstarsong
(Slytherin)


Remus.

Her eyes widened as he staggered to the floor, a man with the strength of a wolf reduced to a petal shedding from a rose.

The Death Eater disappeared into the crowd of fighting bodies. Students. Teachers. Death Eaters. There were so many people. And so many people dead. Nymphadora knew she should be fighting; knew that it was stupid to stand here, gawking like this at the fallen body of the man she loved.

All the same. She couldn’t bring herself to move away from him.

Little Teddy.

He still had the picture of little Teddy in his breast pocket. Little Teddy, with the colour-changing hair and the bright eyes. Remus had been so worried about him. Nymphadora wondered if Teddy had been on his mind when he was struck.

Perhaps he had been proud of himself.

Nymphadora dropped to her knees beside the body of Remus Lupin.

Perhaps he had been proud of himself for fighting like this – fighting to clear the world of evil so that his son would be safe, would be happy.

Remus had become more and more like Sirius, toward the end. Restless. He had wanted to fight. He had felt useless, sitting at home with the woman and the baby when the world was falling in on itself.

Nymphadora had sometimes thought that Remus felt he had been left behind by his friends.

James was the first to go. And then Peter. And then, just when Remus had felt that he had taken back a small fragment of the old life he barely had a claim to, Sirius had gone. Leaving Remus alone.

Now someone was pulling on Nymphadora’s robes, trying to drag her to her feet. She didn’t want to stand up without Remus. And he couldn’t stand up. Not anymore. “Stop,” she said weakly, frailly. “Stop.”

“You’ve got to get up!” Percy Weasley’s voice. “Get up!”

She could hear the tears clinging to his cheeks. She could hear the knots in his throat and the guilt in his mind. Poor Percy. Poor George. Poor Fred. Poor all of them. Just when you think you’ve got something worth living for, it turns its back on you, and then…

“Stop it.”

“Get up!” Percy shouted, trying to pull her up while deflecting curses. “You have to get up!”

Little Teddy.

She did have to get up.

Nymphadora clawed her way onto her feet, unwilling to leave Remus cold and alone on the corridor floor but unable to give up and leave Little Teddy alone in the world. He barely even knew her. He barely even knew his father.

He didn’t deserve this.

Her thoughts and movements were jerky, disconnected, uneven. Her spells were weak. But she had to go on. She had to. She couldn’t desert her son. What would become of him? How would he forgive her if she left him all alone?

She didn’t want her son to hate her.

She wanted to be around to hold his hand while he took his first steps, to take him shopping in Diagon Alley, to know which House he would be Sorted into, and to write him letters that he would read over and over again in his dormitory. She wanted to mend his robes. She wanted to see him fly. She wanted to go to his wedding.

There was a flash of green light.

Bellatrix Lestrange.

Forgive me, Teddy.

Chapter 4: As We Fall
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As We Fall
by acatnamedmouse
(Gryffindor)


Note: I own nothing. Hope you like it.



There was a deafening bang. I felt myself go limp, flying through the air. A bright light shone through my closed eyelids, making them glow red. As I fell, I was weightless. Dying isn’t so bad, I thought, as I dropped aimlessly. Falling isn’t, either. I was so sure I was going to die in that moment. You know how they say your life flashes before your eyes as you die? Well, it doesn’t. Not to say that you don’t remember things as you fall.

*Flashback*

Fred and I ducked as a jet of light flew over our heads, missing us by inches. I dove behind a mirror, then watched gleefully as the spell rebounded upon the Death Eater who cast it. "Take that, you scum!" Fred said, roaring with laughter. He slapped me five. "Nice one, mate!"

I choked, laughing so hard tears streamed down my face. "Did…did you see the look on his stupid face?!"

We grinned identically. I wasn’t worried. He surely wasn’t. After all, this was just another duel, like the ones we used to have at home for fun. Nothing more, nothing less. And we were on the good side. The good side always won.

"Let's go kick some Death Eater-"

"Whoa, there!" I interrupted, laughing. "Watch the language; we're in the middle of a war here!" I shot a curse at another Voldie follower, and he dropped like a stone…



My brain went fuzzy. Funny, how I couldn’t remember what happened next…


Thud! Every bone in my body was on fire as I hit the hard stone floor. That woke me up, alright. All around me, people were screaming and jets of light lit up the castle like fireworks. I gritted my teeth, watching a Death Eater strike down a student. I was going to get them. To put it in the slightly more eloquent words of my brother, I was going to kick their-


The thought froze as my mind went paralyzed with horror. I wanted to scream, but no sound escaped my mouth. This was a dream. It had to be. I closed my eyes. I took a shaky breath.


But my twin still lay there, unmoving.


"No! No, Fred!"


Percy is screaming. Percy never screams. I run forward, sobs tearing at my chest. This is impossible. This isn’t happening.


Fred lies in Percy's arms, his eyes blank and unseeing. There is a little smile on his face, the kind he would always have when he watched mum yelling at someone else besides us. "It's such a nice change," he would sigh. My heart feels like someone is ripping it in two. He isn’t dead. He CAN'T be dead.

I tell myself this, over and over. My eyes are lying. Fred is not dead.


I lost my sense of direction. The world is spinning too quickly and the voices sound muffled. Ron pulls me away, just in time. A large chunk of stone lands where I was only seconds before. I watch it in a daze. I almost died, and I don’t care. I see Harry and Percy carrying Fred away. Or rather, the body that was Fred. Because that's not Fred. He's away in some other part of the castle, fighting Death Eaters. He's not that pale, lifeless body.


Suddenly, rage possesses me. My heart is dying in anguish. My mind seems to have stopped working. All I can feel is fury; fury so intense, so insatiable that I lose control of myself. I shove Ron away, running faster then I ever have in my life. "HEY!" I scream, a sound so terrifying it scares even me. The girl who is battling the Death Eater looks petrified. She doesn’t know if I'm on her side or theirs.


I let lose an unearthly shriek, sending a jet of green death towards my opponent. He crumples immediately; he didn’t even have the time to raise a shield. I watch him fall. It feels so good, watching his broken body fly over the balcony. I hear the sickening crack as he hits the floor.


Just as suddenly as it began, my rage vanishes. I killed him. I killed that man. I'm no better than the people who killed my brother. My hands are shaking, the battle a meaningless blur all around me. This is hell, I thought, staring around at the devastating horror. I'm in hell.


"I don’t want to fight anymore!" I scream, like a frightened child. I am crying so much that my vision blurs. This is all happening too fast. I could be killed any second now. I could die just like Fred. I need to raise a shield. I need to protect myself. And yet I can't bring myself to raise my wand. I want out. I can't fight anymore.


The hopelessness of the scene wraps around me like a cloak. There is no way to win. There will never be a way to win. There will only be more losses, more tragedies, and we'll stand fighting like children. There is no war. No good and evil. No one can ever win.


I just watched my brother fall, my brother who I love more than anything. And I can't bring myself to care about anything else. There is a hole inside me that will never be fixed.


Something slams into me from behind, with the force of a sledgehammer. Just like that, I feel myself diminishing into peaceful blackness.


Falling isn’t so bad…

Chapter 5: Fallen
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Fallen
by lilausty
(Gryffindor)



Panting in exhaustion, Fleur dodged the flying spells careening around her. Sheer adrenaline gripped her as she fought back to back with Tonks. Though surrounded by enemies they worked in tandem, moving in symmetry with deadly results.

Fleur did not know how long the battle had been going for but it felt like years, her body was groaning with pain and fatigue but she knew that if she stopped she was dead.

When the battle had started, she and Bill had been separated by an enraged Fenrir Greyback intent on tearing her husband’s throat out. Unable to do anything for him with multiple Death Eaters converging on her, she could only spare an anguished glance his way before attempting to defend herself.

She had found herself outnumbered and overwhelmed, not even performing the partial transformation into the dreaded harpy that was in her blood could save her. Only the intervention of Tonks into the fray was enough to keep her alive.

The two had stood back to back, circled by Death Eaters with a firm determination to each make it out to see their husbands again. Relying on each other’s abilities, the two had slowly whittled away at the enemies around them.

Breaking out of the circle, Fleur cast a rapid spray of liquefying curses at the backs of the Death Eaters, three of which connected. As they went down, Tonks leapt over their bodies, joining Fleur outside the circle, grinning in morbid triumph.

The four Death Eaters left were no match for the Auror and the part-Veela women and they fell quickly to their wands. Together they moved back towards the main fray but a cackle stopped them dead.

Tonks moved first, intercepting a curse that would have taken Fleur’s head off and turning to face Voldemort’s chief lieutenant. Fleur spun around and glared at Bellatrix, marvelling at how such a beautiful face could still be so ugly and cruel.

Knowing that neither of them could take her by themselves, Tonks and Fleur moved apart in an effort to flank Bellatrix. However, their foe was not so easily distracted and defeated as she gave a piercing call to the air.

Instantly five Death Eaters appeared at her side and she grinned evilly gesturing towards Fleur before turning back to Tonks, intercepting a curse from her.

Fleur was hard put to the test defending herself from so many enemies, and she desperately looked around for some way to even the odds.

Spinning to the left she spotted a fallen pillar and flung it towards the attacking Death Eaters. Three ducked in time but the hapless two who were not intelligent enough to get out of the way were caught underneath the falling monolith.

Suddenly a flurry of spells whizzed past her and knocked another of the Death Eaters off his feet. Giving a swift smile at her husband Fleur was relieved to see that he was not seriously injured with only a few cuts evident on his shoulder.

Leaving him to finish off the two Death Eaters she turned back towards where Tonks and Bellatrix were duelling. Catching sight of them, she felt her heart freeze in her chest.

Tonks was leaning against a wall with her wand hand raised only shakily as Bellatrix laughed at her. She cast a curse but it was easily deflected and she was not quick enough to defend herself against the next attack.

She was hurled across the ground, giving a cry of pain as a crack rent the air. She clutched her arm to her chest as she glared defiantly up at her enemy. Bellatrix said something, gesturing for Tonks to get up. The fallen woman struggled to her feet, her face composed devoid of all emotion other than pain.

Unable to hear the taunting words that the witch was throwing at Tonks nor the remark spat back, Fleur desperately fought the enemies between her and the duel, anxious to assist her friend. Death Eaters fell before her wand as she frantically ran towards her friend.

As she reached Tonks, Bellatrix’s wand rose and a burst of green light flew out of it, connecting solidly with the pink haired witch’s chest. Fleur caught her as she fell, a scream torn from her throat.

“TONKS....”

Chapter 6: Moth Eaten Confidence
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Moth Eaten Confidence
by Drecklin
(Slytherin)


The wear and tear that his seventh year had wrought on all the other students was maximized with Neville Longbottom. Beneath the scars and gashes in his flesh, he was sure that his face resembled that of a forty year old man. In being a leader he had aged his maturity long before it should have been. He had suffered as no teenager should have and endured it because there was no other beacon of hope within the stone walls of Hogwarts.

At least, not until thirty minutes prior when he himself had escorted Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley into the Room of Requirement. He had felt all sorts of elation that he was fairly certain nothing else could compare to. But the more he realized what their coming meant, the more he wanted to hide. He had been a beacon for so long that he felt his light was growing dim.
It was hard being the leader.

But he steeled his face and had been what he had always been during his final year of Hogwarts. He pleaded to help Harry, Ron, and Hermione. He even argued for the DAs sake. And now, after sending Luna and Harry down the steps to exit the Room of Requirement he was feeling the true pressure of the situation fall on his shoulders.

He had been preparing for this moment all year, and now that it was here the gashes and bruises on his face paled in comparison to the task at hand. It seemed like what he had been through in preparation was nothing in comparison to defeating Voldemort. He had been playing with toy wands when he should have been practicing damaging spells.

Somehow Neville knew it was time. It might have been the shake of the roof, or the tension growing in the room, but Neville knew. Now was the moment where the cowards would separate from the brave. This was where it all mattered in the end. As his eyes, despite how swollen one was, raked over the faces of those in his presence he knew that he would remember this until the day he died.

“Lets go.” Hardly anything more than a whisper, but it was the whisper that was heard around the room. Students looked down at the floor and others looked at him aghast. “Now is the moment,” he stated simply before turning around to the exit, going down the flight of stairs while he heard a number of feet following along behind him.

“There’s more coming through the portrait!” shouted someone in the distance, but Neville paid them no heed. He knew more would come, he had signaled them just before showing Luna and Harry the exit. And every person he had called would know just what to do with the situation at hand. They were all big kids, like Neville was trying to be.

“To the Great Hall!” he heralded to those behind him, leading them with a wand held steady in front of him just in case.

It was then, exiting the Room of Requirement that he ran into Professor Sprout, her hair askew and her nerves clearly frazzled.

“Longbottom! Just the fellow I need, follow me,” she said with surprising authority, taking hold of Neville by his collar and pointing out a few other students. “You six, come with us as well. And the rest of you, get to the Great Hall immediately,” she ordered with such sternness that they quickly nodded their heads and made towards the Great Hall with their wands at the ready.

“Its Mandrakes we’ll need. They’ll give the Death Eaters a run for their money and their consciousness when the battle comes to,” she nodded, taking off with the others in tow towards a room she clearly occupied. Neville admired her for not denying what was sure to come. At a time like this, he had expected the teachers to continue and tell everyone that everything would be okay. “Longbottom!” she cried harshly, pointing out a stack of earmuffs on a table. “I’ve been preparing, now give everyone a pair of those,” she ordered as she took a pair for herself.

Neville did his duty methodically, handing out the earmuffs to all those present. He noticed that most of them were in his N.E.W.T. level herbology class. Professor Sprout never did miss a detail like that. He smiled despite himself and turned back to the Professor who began calling over students to behind her desk. They all returned with what were clearly potted Mandrakes.

When it was his turn, Neville took the largest pot and went back to his place in line.

You know what to do was scribbled in the air with Professor Sprouts wand and every person in the room nodded. A line formed and they marched out of the small room, headed towards the Great Hall.

Neville was struck with the brilliance of the plan. He smiled to himself before spotting Harry, and telling him their plan. It seemed to gain approval and slowly Neville felt his confidence in the pending battle rise. He just might come out of this alive, and even if he didn’t he felt good knowing that he could die a hero’s death.

All sound was blocked out thanks to the earmuffs and Neville was left to his own thoughts, which though his morale was improving they still were not in the best of shape. He couldn’t help but imagine those he had grown to love dying. Ginny, Luna, Ernie, everyone who took refuge in the Room of Requirement. Especially the Abbott girl.

A tap on his shoulder made him stop and those following him crashed quite gracefully into his backside. He turned around and spotted what had stopped him. Staring back at him was a woman he loved more than all, but scarcely admitted so. She was stout, elderly, and wearing the moth-eaten hat that was her trademark.

His grandmother.

She mouthed something that he couldn’t hear but he didn’t have to hear it. With her on their side, they were sure to win.

Chapter 7: Forever Until the End...
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Forever Until the End...
by Adrielne
(Gryffindor)



* * * MAY 2, 1998 * * *


" Avada Kedavra! " someone shouted, but she was quicker. Diving for cover behind a statue, she hid from the curse; the green light hit the marble witch's head and it exploded, shrouding her with debris. Pieces of sharp marble flew everywhere. She heard a few shouts of pain as the chunks of stone hit. Glad none hurt her, she didn't notice the jagged slab of marble that fell off the remains of the statue, hitting her arm.

" Episkey, " she muttered under her breath at the deep gash the stone caused and waited for her arm to heal before rushing out from behind her cover to the next doorway. She remembered the words of Mad-Eye Moody, spoken to the aspiring Aurors when they started training...



"CONSTANT VIGILANCE!" the odd-looking man bellowed at them. He had a limp and too many scars on his face to count.

"What... what do you mean, sir?" a young man next to her asked. She could barely remember seeing him at Hogwarts somewhere... Was he a Hufflepuff? It didn't matter now - they were all Aurors here and no earlier allegiances were allowed to be kept.

"Petrificus Totalus!" the man shouted, pointing his wand at the man. He froze and fell, hitting the gorund with a loud thump. Moody hobbled over to stand above the man.

"That's what I mean," he said and looked at all of them in turn. "In our times, you don't know who might be a friend and who is a foe. An attack can come from any direction. You must be ready for all," he said darkly and walked back to his place at the head of their lopsided circle.

"We must trust fellow Aurors, though," a girl no older than eighteen said. "It's in the Policy-"

"Stuff the policy into a bag and feed it to a Flobberworm, Miss Delaney," Moody said, tapping his wand on the table in front of him. She stared at him, but refrained from commenting.

"Now as for Mr. Podmore there... Not quite sure where you got your reflexes, boy, but I'm sure I won't be shopping in the same place," the Head of the Auror Department tried to joke, but everyone just stared at him.

"Confundus!" he yelled, pointing at the same man again. He deflected it, but just barely. The next hexes were a blur and soon the young man was immobilized on the ground again, tied with ropes and chains and sported horns on his head while foot-long toenails were getting longer and harder by the second. His wand was ten feet away, vibrating and emitting green sparks.

They could only stare as Moody took off the spells, one by one. "Remember two things from this course," he said to all of them in a quiet voice. "Keep your wand with you at all times and heal each cut as you get it or you'll be dead before you know it. Go."



She was on the second floor now, not far away from Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. She felt guilty about getting into the fighting a bit too much, but she felt coming was the only right thing to do. How could she leave all of her friends and loved ones to fight for her safety?

She cast a few hexes at passing Death Eaters, making one fall out the now-glassless window into the courtyard below. The rest of them fled, but she stood there, frozen. She had killed a human being. She soon came out of her stupor - if the only way to victory would be through killing and even death, she could take it. She needed to free the world from evil.

"What are you doing here?" she heard a voice behind her. "In your state... The baby..."

"I have to be here. I have to fight. I have to save the ones I love..." she said in a hushed tone, using the moment of relative peace to say as much as she could. "I love you, Remus, and I wouldn't survive it if... If anything happened," she finished and kissed him, before he could reply. She tried to put all of her love, her fears and her hopes into that kiss and felt him doing the same.

"What do we have here?" a harsh but high-pitched voice asked from the end of the hallway. "Ooh, a couple in love!"

"Stay behind me," Lupin whispered in her ear and stepped in front of her. She was hyperventilating - her whole body was shaking on the inside and she felt sick. How could this... this woman ... even dare to talk to him?

"Bellatrix, take one step closer and-"

"And what? What will you do? Wave your wand at me? You know you don't have it in you to kill me," the woman cackled madly and fired a few curses. The man deflected them easily, which infuriated the Death Eater.

"Good job," Tonks whispered into Remus's ear and shot a few of her own hexes from under his arm, which he was holding her behind him with. He murmured back what she assumed to be a 'you too' as one of her spells hit and got a loud shriek form the Death Eater.

"The lovebirds are still together? How much good would that do?" Bellatrix Lestrange said and waved her wand in a circular pattern. The curse missed her by an inch, but the tight ropes that came right after it caught her arm, which was already stretched out and firing a curse in reply. The curse missed and - before she knew it - she was suspended ten feet from the ground in midair by her legs.

Remus and Bellatrix were dueling below.

" Crucio! " the Death Eater shrieked, but before either of them moved, Tonks felt the greatest pain she had ever felt in her life. It felt as if every cell of her body was being pierced with an acid needle. She tried to find a happy place in her head, the way she had been taught.



Moody took them into the small room one by one. None of them had any idea what this lesson was about - no one was coming out and the door wasn't open for long enough to allow them to see in.

"Do you think it's some sort of test? I hope he doesn't ask us about potions..." one of he 'baby Aurors', as Ministry workers called their group, was wringing her hands in panic. Another was flipping through her notes.

Tonks was calm - she knew she was able to face the unknown. Adrenaline was something she loved and the unexpected was a hurdle to jump over, not a terrifying monster to her.

"Tonks, Nymphadora," she heard her name called from the door of the room. She stood up, held her wand in her hand and walked bravely in.

Moody was the only person in the room. There was a single light hanging from the ceiling. There were three doors leading out of this room: one was the same one she came in from. The other two were on the opposite wall.

"Do you know what the Cruciatus is?" the Auror asked. Tonks nodded, able to guess what was coming. She was trying her best to keep her mind free of fear.

"Well, find a happy place in your head and I will shoot a small dose - about as bad as spraining an ankle - at you. You must know what you're up against," he said and she nodded. She was ready.



This time was completely different. The curse was shot at her unexpectedly. She could see Remus below her, staring at her with horror.

"Happy place, Remus, Teddy, Shell Cottage, Bill, Fleur, Molly..." she kept repeating under her breath. She could see the seaside and smell the dinner, which was cooking on the stove. She felt a pain in her leg and looked down to see an oversized dog with odd, human-like eyes biting into her leg. She fired a curse at him and he let go. She fell...

And fell...

And fell.

Thump.




"Tonks? Tonks? Are you conscious?" Remus was shaking her shoulder.

"I'm... Fine..." she grunted. What happened?

"You fired a curse at Lestrange, she released her curse on you and you fell ten feet," Remus said as if he could hear her thoughts. She wouldn't be too surprised if she had said the question out loud.

"Right... Help me up," she said, feeling her strength return. The happy place technique Moody had taught them paid off.

"I love you more than anything, you know that?" Remus asked and hugged her. "Whatever happens."

"Whatever happens," she repeated and hugged him back. For some reason, it felt like a goodbye.

A few minutes later, they were walking along the deserted hall, staring hopelessly at the destruction around them, but with a glint of fury and courage that could only be described as absolute determination. Death Eaters tried their best to get out of their way, but every curse they fired hit their target.

"Bellatrix!" Tonks bellowed, seeing the mane of black hair ahead of him. She turned and stared at them.

"Still alive, doggie?" she asked Remus, a cruel grin spreading across her face. "My mistake," she said and fired a killing curse that missed.

" Incendio! " Tonks shouted and pointed at the woman's robes. She put the fire out with a stream of water from her wand, but Remus's curse had the time to hit its' target.

" Confringo! " she heard behind her. A masked Death Eater smiled evilly at her and she engaged in a duel, staying close to Remus, who was battling Bellatrix.

Spells whizzed past and reduced the decorations of the hallway to smithereens, but all four combatants were unharmed until a badly aimed curse by Bellatrix didn't hit the other Death Eater in the hand, making it squeeze his own neck until he suffocated. Tonks turned to help Remus face Bellatrix, but...

" Avada Kedavra, " the evil woman whispered and smiled as she saw the jet of green light whiz past Tonks's surprised face. In slow motion, she saw his face turn to hers. His lips formed a smile just before the curse hit him in the chest.

Tonks was absolutely furious. Not moving an inch from her husband's body, she started firing curses she barely knew the effect of, but all of them either missed their targets or were deflected by Bellatrix. Her aunt, she thought with contempt.

"Does baby want to follow her doggie?" the woman asked.

"Remus is a human. Much better a human than you'll ever be," Tonks shouted. "You think Voldemort loves you? You think he actually cares for you? Well, he doesn't. He can't love, can't feel. You're just a tool to him."

"You. Will. Not. Say. The. Dark. Lord's. Name." Bellatrix hissed from between gritted teeth, enforcing each word with a curse Tonks repelled. "Let's have some fun now, shall we? Expelliarmus! "

Tonks felt her wand fly out of her hand. At that moment, she knew all of her chances were gone. She couldn't hope to be rescued by someone else - everyone was engaged in their own battle, spread across the castle and grounds.

All she had to do was decide what to do in the time she had left.

She stepped closer to Remus's body - if she was to die, she'd stay with him until the end.

Bellatrix stared at her with an odd look. Was it because Tonks was standing up so straight instead of groveling at her feet, begging for mercy?

"You're a lousy excuse of a human," Tonks said. She wasn't trying to buy time - there was no point. She only wanted to get a point across. "Somewhere in you, there must be a single human emotion. Or did it all die when the Mark was branded on your arm?"

Was it a trick of the light or did Bellatrix cringe at the memory?

" Avada Kedavra, " were the last words she heard from Bellatrix's mouth before she fell.




* * * MAY 2, 2003 * * *


"L-U-P-I-N," a little boy read the engraved name. "R-E-M-U-S. Remus. That's daddy, right?" he asked an elderly woman, who was dabbing at her eyes with a tissue.

"Yes, it is, Teddy," the woman replied and squeezed the little boy's hand.

"And this one..." the boy said, touching the smooth beige marble. "This is mum?"

"Y... Yes..." the woman replied shakily. The boy looked up at her.

"Gramma, why are you crying?" Teddy asked and - not hearing an answer - he hugged her as tight as a five-year-old could, burying his small face in her dress. "They're happy," he comforted her. "You told me they're happy."

"They are happy," Andromeda said and ran a finger over the inscription, the only decoration on the grave.


Together until the end...

Chapter 8: Time Heals All Wounds
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Time Heals All Wounds
by long_live_luna_bellatrix
(Ravenclaw)


This isn't human.

Another feral cry pierced the air, and my heart, as a loved one passed on. All around me, our threshold for despair was pushed dangerously close to the edge as flimsy streaks of light decided fates. Death, usually huddling safely in the background, was partying tonight. The blows it struck were overwhelming. Even I staggered a little under the weight of my task.

I'll never heal them all.

I pressed my lips into a thin line and bent over the nearest, crumpled heap of skin and bones. As I felt for a pulse, I let my years of training and experience wash over me, pull me under. Slowly, I slipped into my job as a school matron, and out of my worn, motherly shoes. I would not, could not waver in my duty tonight.

This child was long gone; all traces of life had departed far earlier. I moved onto the next body, and the next, soon learning to skip to the stirring ones. The living needed me far more than the dead. Those would have their time later.

"Fred... oh, Fred..." someone stumbled past as I leant over a moaning boy, still young enough to have a smooth face. He must have snuck back in; oh, why did everyone believe that they, alone, were indestructible? Unscathed by the forces of the world that swayed their fortune?

"Colin, don't leave," the boy gasped as I stroked his face. His tears dripped steadily onto my fingers.

These tears stain fiercer than blood.

"Shh..." I murmured, waving my wand over a wound in the boy's stomach. He looked at me with eyes full of death; Thestrals would be popping up for many tonight. "Did you see my brother?"

"I'm sure he's looking for you right now," I whispered, and helped the boy to his feet. He trembled so much his heels clicked on the stone floor. "Head to the to Great Hall now, they'll look after you."

I walked on, every fiber of my beingaching to go back and comfort the child. He was so lost in this sea of pain and suffering... others, who had been swimming for awhile, might at least move on. But this one's brother had about as much chance as surviving through this as I did having a bite to eat before tomorrow.

I bustled down the corridor, keeping an eye out for movement. Just as I turned a corner, a large black clad figure barreled into me, knocking my breath into last Tuesday. He took one look at me and leered; a Death Eater by all means.

"Crucio!" he hissed, but before I could react a second person shoved me and I crashed to my knees, the spell only singeing my hair. It's all grey anyway, I thought fleetingly.

"There's been enough effing pain tonight!" bellowed George Weasley, wild-eyed, hysterical. He ignored the wand sticking out of his back pocket and tackled the man, landing several punches before I could aim a Stunning Spell at Death Eater's back. He fell limp immediately, leaving a gasping George curled up on the ground.

"I can handle myself, Mr. Weasley, thank you very much," I said, pulling him up. He regarded me with hollow, red-rimmed eyes and nodded before stalking off. I brushed off my robes and continued on.

Somehow, I tuned out the screams.

Somehow, I ignored the stench of the blood.

Somehow, I let my eyes trail over countless still bodies and focus on the breathing.

Somehow, I made it through each minute, though they all lasted an eternity and then some.

I was bent over a sobbing, pig-tailed little thing when the Ravenclaw hourglass, the last one standing, exploded above my head. Sapphires flew everywhere, and I leaned over the girl's torso to keep the debris from further injuring her. The gems reflected in her terrified eyes. "When will it stop?" she breathed, before falling limp in my arms. Refusing to shed a tear, I closed her own dry eyes and didn't bother searching for an answer.

Good lives and evil ones were surrendered that night. I don't know how long I traipsed the halls of the school that I knew down to the last apple core in the kitchens, only to see it in an entirely new light. I just barely registered the whoops that echoed around the walls when young Mr. Potter defeated You-Know-Who, but nothing more. Victory may have slowed the numbers that died, but it could not defeat death itself. I learned this all too well. Even a long-awaited victory could not erase the terrible memories created that night.

The corridors are crowded with lost souls.

Ghosts floated among the wreckage, portraits oversaw everything tearfully, and mourners wailed for all that had been loved and lost. And the newly dead, unwilling to leave their home, were there too. I could feel their gazes scorching myback as I tended to those that were still among the living. Whether they willed me on or wished I had been there for them instead, I couldn't be sure.

"Rennervate," I murmured, and a Ravenclaw lad blinked wearily and tried to sit up. I supported him as he rubbed his eyes, and began siphoning the dried blood off his forehead. Reflected in the slump of his back, the droop of his chin, I recognized the face of despair. But then he gently pushed my wand away, and rose to his feet. He grinned devilishly.

"I'll be ok now, Madame Pomfrey," he said, "Go help those who need it."

And I then realized that no matter how stifling grief may have been, the human will always triumphed. Death may have poisoned the air and infiltrated the castle, but the faith to believe and move on was also rising. Every good matron knew time healed all wounds, large or small. And though scars may have remained, the blood washed off and scabs eventually formed.

"Poppy," Minerva McGonagall called, appearing down the hall in blood splattered robes, "Can you come to the Great Hall? A young man is dying, but we may save him yet."

Duty calls.

Chapter 9: The Caretaker's Castle
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The Caretaker's Castle
by Marzipan
(Hufflepuff)


Don't get me wrong. I hate those damn kids and all their noise and mess, I really do. If I had my way, I'd have the lot of them banned from the school, just like I banned any item that came along that might help them in their trouble-making. I hated them – but this was going too far.

Hogwarts had become a dumping ground for the ill-bred, degenerative youth of the wizarding world. The respect to authority and proper fear of punishment that had flourished in my day had disappeared, it seemed, to be replaced by a gleeful desire to cause as much mayhem and destruction as possible. A firm hand was needed to right things, a task that Professor Dumbledore had refused to grant me the right of in the time that he had reigned here as headmaster. I had been glad when he had died, if only because it had meant Professor Snape had been the one to replace him. I had always liked Professor Snape – he understood power, and fear, and punishment in the same way that I did. And upon his appointment to the office I was finally able to dust off my manacles and put them to use. Things were the way they should have been from the beginning.

Another explosion rent the air, then, and I ducked into the recess where a suit of armour had once rested. Merlin only knew its current location. I stayed where I was long enough to determine that the explosion had been caused by a wayward curse and that the battle still took place on some distance part of the castle grounds. Satisfied, I continued on my way.

Everything had finally been perfect in my life. Had been, and for the life of me I couldn't figure out where or when it had all going off course. The castle was being attacked, destroyed. My castle, the same one that I had spent the last thirty years pouring my sweat into protecting from those filthy beasts. And now it was being torn down stone by stone by the very people I had sought to align myself with in my attempts to defend it! It was galling, infuriating!

Forced to hide again at the sound of more bodies passing on the nearby staircase, I reflected bitterly on the fact that I should have seized the opportunity, and escaped the death trap the castle had become when I'd had the chance. It would have been easy to slip away along with the masses of underage students that I had helped Madam Pomfrey escort to safety. Even I wasn't sure why I hadn't – I was a Squib, for crying out loud! There wasn't too much I could do in a fight beyond provide target practice for the invading Death Eaters. And yet...

And yet, I was the caretaker of this castle. After spending over half my life serving it, could I really abandon Hogwarts in its time of need? I might not be able to fight, but I knew the castle better than anybody. That had to count for something. And so I had crept back into the castle after seeing Madame Pomfrey to the Hogs Head, pretending not to notice the few students doing likewise just as they pretended not to notice me. All I had to do now was get safely back to Professor McGonagall and she would surely be able to put my knowledge to good use! The irony of allying myself alongside the noisy brats I hated was not lost on me, but a castle befouled was better than no castle at all – and it was becoming more and more apparent that that would be the outcome if the Death Eaters were allowed to win the day.

Down a hidden flight of stairs and halfway along a corridor I encountered the sounds of battle approaching once more. I backtracked quickly, knowing that getting mixed up in the struggle could prove disastrous, only to find my way blocked by the sounds of more fighting approaching from behind. I was trapped, pinned between two advancing forces. I searched the corridor desperately, looking for anything that could offer some coverage, knowing even before doing so that there was none to be found.

Desperate, I backed up against the wall, trying to create as small a profile as possible just in time as the first of the combatants came tumbling into view. I recognized the Minister for Magic himself, having seen his picture on the front page of the Prophet when he had been elected to the position. He was locked in combat with a Weasley boy, although I was unsure which one. They were engrossed in their battle, unaware of my presence. I pressed myself tighter to the wall.

A surprised cry announced the arrival of second group of fighters, two men and a woman, none of whom I recognized. Upon spying the two combatants at the opposite end of the corridor they sent a barrage of spells that way, while remaining locked in combat with each other. What resulted was an odd, four-way duel with me stuck like a sitting duck right in the middle.

This was ridiculous. I hadn't gone through all this trouble to die in such a stupid, pointless manner. No one had seemed to take notice of me yet. Maybe I could make it back to the tapestry that hid the staircase that had brought me here? It was frighteningly close to the Minister and the Weasley boy, but they were so focused on what they were doing that perhaps they would not notice me if I took my time and stuck to the wall? It was a better option that just standing there and waiting for a curse to hit me, at any rate.

I began to inch forward, one step at a time. Although I had held my breath at first I eventually had to release it or risk passing out from lack of oxygen. The battle continued to rage on around me and I snuck continual glances at the faces of its participants to ensure none had noticed my presence. Turning back, I found my destination was finally almost within reach – another few steps and I could be safely away from this nightmare.

I was facing away, my eyes on the Weasley boy at the time, so I don't know if it was a curse gone astray or if I had finally been spotted. It didn't matter either way. I felt the force of the spell slam into my back, and pain radiated out from the site of impact. A gasp escaped from my throat, and I kept my feet long enough to see the Minister turn in surprise at the sound, his momentary inattention allowing another, better aimed curse to strike him. I fell then, tumbling through the tapestry that was supposed to be my salvation.

The stone was cold under me, and I clung to the fact gratefully. I closed my eyes and tried to remain focused on the cold, hard surface that was pressing on my cheek instead of the hot pain spreading like wildfire through my veins or the racing, wobbly beat of my heart. The sounds of battle from outside were fading away, I noted with relief.

If I had to die, at least it would be just me and the castle there at the end.

Chapter 10: The First Bite
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The First Bite
by moonbaby11
(Ravenclaw)





"Avada Kedavra!"

"Colin, duck!" I yell, though I know it's too late. I watch as the green light flashes, and his small body crumples to the ground.

I heave in an unsteady breath. That could have been me. I could have been the one lying on the ground, dead.

I continue to battle the Death Eater, trying not to give Colin a second thought. I must concentrate on this battle, if I want to survive.

"Stupefy!" I shout, pointing my wand at my opponent. She is not fast enough to block the spell and it sends her, and her wand, flying back.

"Doing alright there, Lavender?" Terry Boot says, walking over to me.

I nod, though I don't really believe I'm doing alright at all. I had promised myself I'd watch over Colin, and now he was dead.

Terry looks down at Colin, a little shocked. "He's…?" Terry begins.

"Yeah," I reply.

"Bloody mess, this battle is. I almost just escaped being tortured by a Death Eater!"

I nod once more, thinking of my near miss with death. "Don't you think we-" My sentence is cut short by a screeching from down below us.

"What the hell?" Terry asks. We both glance over the balcony, to find people sliding around on a bunch of emerald gems that have escaped the Slytherin hourglass. I watch as a Death Eater tries to run, but slips and falls.

I giggle slightly.

"Expelliarmus!" the familiar voice of my opponent shouts.

I feel myself flying through the air, as if I were weightless. I notice that Terry was blasted backwards only a few moments after me. We land with a crash near the green jewels and the fiasco we had been laughing at moments before.

"You okay?" Terry whispers.

I open my mouth to reply, but before I can, I'm attacked again. All I can feel is fur pressed against my face. The thing that lunged at me reaches down, and bites my arm.

"NO!" Hermione shrieks. My eyes are clamped tight, but I'd recognize that voice anywhere. I feel the great ball of fur fly off my chest, and hear a smash, followed only moments later by a big crash.

"I have more!" Professor Trelawney yells, though I'm not really paying attention. All I can feel is the pain. It burns. I feel as though my whole arm is on fire. I try to hold in the scream, but I can't. I shriek out in agony.

"Lavender!" Terry says, shaking my good arm. "Lavender!" My eyes are still clenched tight, and I feel myself growing hotter.

"Lavender, are you okay?" he shouts over my screaming. I stop for a moment, then turn to the side, and vomit.

"Ew," he groans. I've stopped screaming, and my arm doesn't feel so bad, though it still sort of stings.

"What happened?" I ask him, opening my eyes a crack to see he is leaning over me, looking at my wounded arm.

"I - I think that was a werewolf," he stammers.

"What?" I ask.

"A werewolf," he repeats. "We should get you to the Hospital Wing."

"Terry, we're in the middle of a war here," I remind him.

"Lavender, you were just bitten by a werewolf!" he snaps. "You need help!"

I moan. A spell goes flying, just barely missing Terry's head. It instead hits the Hufflepuff hourglass, sending the very few citrine gems the hourglass holds rolling across the ground.

"That was close," I whisper.

He nods in reply. "Come on, we need to move you." He puts one of his arms under my back, and at the bend in my knees, pulling me up.

"Come on," he whispers to me. I wonder where Parvati is, and hope that she hasn't been injured, or worse, killed, in this horrible battle. Terry carries me away from the hourglasses, and takes me to one of the corners in the castle. I hope no one will find us here.

"You okay?" he asks. "You feel really hot."

"My arm hurts," I tell him. The pain has returned, and it feels like flames are licking my blood. "It really hurts." The burning sensation seems to extend down to the tips of my fingers this time, not just a small part of my forearm. I muffle a scream by clenching my teeth together.

"Sh, sh," Terry commands, "It'll be okay. We'll get through this. All of us here, not just you and me. You-Know-Who will be finished. It'll be okay, Lavender. "

I look at him, and know that he sincerely believes that this whole bloody mess will be solved. I nod my head. "Okay," I reply. I hear a scream and a smash, and know that the Gryffindor hourglass has been broken, because a few rubies spew out across the floor.

"So," says Terry, "I guess that Ravenclaw wins the House Cup?"

I smile, and let out a little giggle. "Yes, Terry, you do win." And I sincerely mean it.

Author's Note: Much thanks to jazzeh turnip for beta-ing.

Chapter 11: This I Swear
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This I Swear
by Moondanser83
(Gryffindor)




“It is time.”

The words escaped my master’s lips in a barely audible hiss, but his followers, myself included, jumped to attention as though the statement had been shouted.

I adjusted my robes and slid my mask into place as we surrounded the Dark Lord, awaiting our commands. The forest was dark, and other than the rustling of black robes, nearly silent. A dark green orb floated in the center of the small clearing casting an eerie glow on all who gathered there.

“Tonight the boy who lived dies.” the Dark Lord hissed, his red, slitted eyes scanning his army searching for any sign of weakness. “I have given them ample warning. I have given them the chance to end this war before it begins, but still they refuse to hand the boy over. So they shall die with him.”

I felt a shudder run through my body. Though I had long been associated with the Dark Lord and his followers, I had yet to commit out right murder, and just the thought of purposely taking the life of another human being made my stomach churn.

The Dark Lord continued to speak in his low, rasping voice, assigning specific targets and strategies and I felt the world take a slow, sickening spin. Bracing myself against a tree I fought for control of my stomach, refusing to show any signs of weakness in front of the others.

“Draco,” the Dark Lord hissed my name. My body automatically snapped to attention as though I had been hit with the imperious curse, “Yes My Lord.” I replied quietly.

“I have a special assignment for you.” He continued his voice still barely audible.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw my father stiffen, obviously wanting to come to my side, but he remained where he was behind the Dark Lord.

“You, Draco, will take care of that mud-blood who is always saving the Potter brat’s neck. Without her the boy will be an easy target.”

“Granger.” I whispered as my heart plummeted.

“Do you have something to say Draco?” Voldemort hissed as me, his glowing eyes flashing with barely restrained rage.

“No, My Lord.” I said quickly, averting my eyes to hide my panic.

It is well known that I hold no love for the mudblood Hermione Granger, but over the years I have come to admire her brains and her audacity, though I would never admit it, and being told that I was to be the one to extinguish her life was nearly more than I could handle. It was only years of training by my father that kept me from falling to my knees and begging for a different assignment. Instead I nodded stiffly, and tried to inconspicuously shift my weight against the tree which was the only thing keeping me upright.

The Dark Lord stared at me for a moment, probing my thoughts with his mind before moving on to dole out the next assignment. With Voldemort’s attention elsewhere my father caught my eye, but did not dare move towards me. I nodded as I took yet another shallow breath. Using occlumency against such a powerful legilimens is draining, but judging by the fact that I was still standing, still breathing, I could only assume that I had been successful in hiding my panic from the Dark Lord.

“Go now,” The Dark Lord commanded his voice considerable louder than before, “bring me the Potter boy so that I may end this mockery of a war once and for all and show them all who their master is. The wizarding world will fall cowering at my feet before the dawn breaks, I swear to it.”

There was a flash of light, and he was gone.

Relaxing my stiff pose for a moment I allowed the old oak tree behind me to take my full weight. I needed a plan. I needed a way to make it look like I had done my best to destroy Hermione Granger, but failed. I needed time to think, and I needed Crabbe and Goyle, with the two of them as my back up I could fail at nearly anything.

As though I had spoken aloud they appeared at my side.

“Come on.” I told them quietly, and began to walk away from the clearing, trying to draw as little attention to myself as possible.

We walked for a long time through the dark forest, the rustling leaves and our uneven breathing echoed off of the trees making it sound as though the forest its self were alive. When we reached a low rock formation that I knew to be near the Hogwarts border I finally stopped.

I had a destination now, a plan of action. We could have apperated anywhere along the path I had chosen, but I had needed the walk, had needed the quiet night air to clear my head, and now I knew what I must do.

“We’ll be apperating to Borgin and Burke’s.” I told them and knew they were as scared as I was when they failed to complain about walking when we could have simply apperated there in the first place.

“When we get there we will be using the cabinets I repaired last year to gain access to the castle. Once we’re inside just follow my lead. Do you understand?”

Both Crabbe and Goyle nodded dumbly at me, neither of them questioning my plan or our mission, and with a quiet pop the three of us disappeared from the dark forest.

Knockturn Ally was nearly as dark and silent as the forest when we arrived. The cracking sound from our sudden apparition echoed off the abandoned buildings making Goyle jolt and glance over his shoulder.

The windows were dark, the building obviously as abandoned as the rest of the alley. It only took a few swift steps to bring me to the door. As expected the knob turned easily in my hand, folks don’t think to lock the doors when fleeing The Dark Lord. Once inside I quickly lit my wand and looked around. The small shop was exactly as I remembered it from previous visits, and in the back corner, past the counter and register, stood a tall, black, wooden cabinet.

With trembling hands I pulled the door open and peered into the darkness within.

“You two remember how this works right?” I asked without looking back at Crabbe or Goyle. “There shouldn’t be anyone in the Room of Requirement,” I went on without waiting for a response. “So once you’re in don’t go anywhere, don’t do anything, just wait for me. I’ll be right behind you.”

I saw the nervous glances as they tried to decide if I was telling them the truth, or if they were being sent to their imminent deaths, but after a moment years of conditioning won out and one at a time they climbed into the cabinet and vanished.

Alone I glanced around the dark room one last time. There was a good chance that I would not walk away from tonight’s battle. I was not as invincible as I had always thought myself, and in reality I don’t think The Dark Lord had ever intended for me to survive this long. Taking a deep breath I pulled a thin gold chain from beneath my robes and over my head. On the end of the braided metal hung a long, twisted snake with the letters DM engraved into the head. Placing the charm onto the counter beside the decrepit cash register I blew out the breath and turned back towards the cabinet.

I took another breathe, shook my hair from my eyes, straightened my shoulders and pulled the door open once again. Inside the utter darkness was suffocating, and I closed my eyes as I felt panic rear up in my throat once again as my body vanished, becoming one in the darkness. When I opened my eyes again I could see a sliver of light coming from a crack in the bottom of the door. Outside I could hear shouting, one familiar voice echoed in my ears louder than the others. As I pushed the door open and stepped into the Room of Requirement I swore to myself that I would survive, I would go back and get my necklace, and when I did, I swore I would not have become a murder.

Chapter 12: Another Picture
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Another Picture
by music_is_inside_of_me
(Gryffindor)



This was it. This was the real thing Harry was talking about in DA. It was happening now, before my eyes. I could feel the butterflies in my stomach as a Death Eater turned towards me and smiled wickedly. My eyes widened as I saw his wand move. My feeble shield charm barely blocked the stream of red light. Spells and curses were sent my way and I dodged each one barely. My heart pounded as I fought and dueled.

I wasn't suppose to be here fighting this Death Eater. I was supposed to be safe and sound, tucked away inside the Hog's Head with the rest of the under-aged students. But being in Dumbledore's Army meant I had to pay my duties. This was what I was supposed to do; I was prepared for this.

I dodged yet another stream of green light, stumbling over a tree root sticking out of the ground, and sent a spell towards the Death Eater, but missed by a long shot.

He was huge. His hood had fallen off, exposing his scarred face and the evil smirk placed upon it. I couldn't remember his name but I vaguely recognized him from a WANTED poster a couple years ago. His short, stubby wand continued firing spells and jinxes at me, barely missing each time.

I concentrated on trying to remember everything Harry had said during those meetings, about it being luck or something, but my mind fell to a blank. It took every muscle in my body to stop my wand arm from falling to my side and giving up in defeat. I was in too deep and couldn't back out.

I pictured my brother's face when he would hear the news; the tears running down his face, but maybe a spark of pride in his eyes also. I like to think he would be proud of me. I vaguely recalled the conversation we had a couple hours earlier.

"Please let me go! I want to fight too!"

"No, it's too risky, think about Mum and Dad, Dennis..." His large eyes filled with fear and he nodded slightly.

"I've got to go now." I said, fumbling for my wand.

"What happens if you don't..."

"Everything's going to be fine. Those Death Eaters won't know what hit him." We both knew I was only saying that to make us both feel better. "I may even get a couple good action shots!" He attempted to smile at my weak humor but it came out like a grimace.

He stood up and awkwardly gave me a hug. I smiled thinly and turned away from my brother.


I pursed my lips and took a deep breath at the thought of leaving my brother alone with no one to look out for him. I would never abandon him.

Flashes of light were flying all around me, as if someone was taking pictures of the battles surrounding me. I tried to ignore them but some were so blinding I had to squint. As a bright, white light flew by my ear, I felt the wind rush around me.

My heart was beating rapidly as I sent another spell the Death Eater's way. It hit them square in the chest, causing them to topple over. I smiled and relaxed my arm slightly. Relief rushed onto me like a tidal wave and my butterflies were gone. I turned around wildly and saw a flash of light. Everything turned white. Another picture.

Chapter 13: Abe
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Abe
by emmapotter
(Hufflepuff)


A heavy mist settled on the streets of Hogsmeade. The air was gloomy, depressing almost; yet in a way charged, charged with apprehension of what was to arrive. Cloaked figures floated about. Yes, floated. All one could see was a dark cloak hiding something sinister beneath it. In one of the less populated streets of Hogsmeade, was a pub not visited by too many. In it sat an old barman, scrubbing a glass with a grimy rag which only made the dirty glass even more unclean. If he looked you in the eye, his piercing stare reminded you of his brother, a great man, the one who once believed in giving second chances; even to ones who didn't deserve it.

The years had taken their toll on Aberforth Dumbledore; he wondered how much longer his wrinkled hands would be able to wipe the grimy glasses clean, how much longer he could keep up his front. He wondered how long it would be before he could join Mother and his beloved sister in that place.

Screams slit through the still night air all of a sudden,and Aberforth knew that this was it. This was him, this was the boy Albus had been talking about. But cautious as he'd been advised to be, Aberforth waited; he waited and listened to their conversation, listened for clues as to who'd dared visit Hogsmeade after curfew.

They had been put on high alert this evening and you could sense the palpable tension in the air. Their master had sent his most trusted to do the rounds tonight as he expected the boy to come to them.

The boy.

The only hitch in their master's well-laid, thought out plan in his quest to rid the world of filth.

"Accio cloak!"* Aberforth heard one of them roar.

A beat passed and then -

"Not under your wrapper, then, Potter?" said the same voice."Spread out. He's here." * Aberforth heard him instruct his fellows.

Aberforth couldn't believe how dense these people (if you could call these unethical baboons that) were. If Potter were indeed under his cloak, then they wouldn't be able to summon it with a simple Summoning Charm. One had to give the magical cloak that much credit; it was one among thethree Deathly Hallows after all.

Aberforth heard the others have a yelled conversation. One he didn't bother paying attention to; he'd heard all he needed to. The airsuddenly grew cold around him though he sat in the confines of his rickety home. Aberforth felt feelings run through him that he hadn't felt in a while now; feelings of despair, of sadness, extreme sadness. It felt like there could be no happiness in this world ever again. And he wasn't a stranger to that particular feeling.

Aberforth heard whispered words outside his door and now, he knew it for sure.

It was the boy.

Potter was here.

And his friends too.

His thoughts were punctuated and further confirmed as he heard the patronus charm uttered in hushed tones.

Quietly, he placed the glass on the table in front of him and made his way to the front door (or if you saw it technically, backdoor) and opened it silently, hoping it wouldn't creak and give him away. His hopes were dashed as his the old bolts made a grinding noise as he opened the door. Fortunately though, it didn't seem like he'd been given away.

He was looking for a glimmer in the air, whispering roughly for the boy to get into his home. He found the glimmer in the next beat as he felt a invisible figure, or rather figures, walk past him.


Glad the boy didn't resist, Aberforth marched into the street, a plan fully formed in his mind.

As he passed them he gave them instructions that would keep them safe in low tones so that he wouldn't be heard either. He slammed the front door behind and waited for them to come to him, they were bound to have noticed


Several cloaked figures apparated around him.

He was ready for anything they threw at him.

He wasn't afraid.


~~~

He stared after the Longbottom boy, Potter and his friends.

They disappeared as tiny white specks and Ariana's portrait clicked shut. His beloved sister stared back him sweetly.

She was too young to have died,barely a teenager, just fourteen when Albus and his 'friend' haddestroyed her. They'd killed her.

Even after so many years, Aberforth held Albus and his 'friend' guilty for his Ariana's death. They killed her. They were murderers.

Albus had finally seen light and stopped Grindelwald; one of his better judgements.

It was odd, how his brother's attitude had taken a 1800 turn after the death of his sister. He'd always assumed that Albus had finally considered himself free - free from his family and free to do what he wanted to become the best.

The Potter boy, on the other hand, had shown him a whole new side of Albus, a side he'd never thought had existed in Albus. A side that had been loving, caring, forgiving and so selfless that words couldn't describe how great a man he was. His greatness had, in a way,influenced people into following him; much like they followed You-Know-Who.

But this was different, and Aberforth knew it. Aberforth knew it in his heart of hearts that this movement that his brother had initiated and 'headed'; Albus wanted nothing to do withthe post of it's 'Head'.

Suddenly, it all made sense. Aberforth realised what Potter was saying, but didn't know it fully, didn't know all the details.

Albus Dumbledore had accepted. And acceptance was the first step to recovery.

Albus had tried to make amends and then organised – no, helped in – starting a revolution of sorts against the one thing he'd first believed in – the Greater Good.

Wizards above Muggles.

Wizards better than Muggles.

Wizards ruling over Muggles.

In a bizarre way, Aberforth was proud.


~~~


*Taken from Harry Potter andthe Deathly Hallows, Page 447,UK Edition, Chapter Twenty-Eight, The MissingMirror.

**Taken from Harry Potter andthe Deathly Hallows, Page 449, UK Edition, Chapter Twenty-Eight, The MissingMirror.

Chapter 14: Dangling by a Thread
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Dangling by a Thread
by JLHufflepuff
(Hufflepuff)


Draco couldn’t sleep. It was not new to him, lying in the dark listening to Crabbe’s snores, wondering if he would be summoned. His Mark hadn’t burned in over a week. Still, he couldn’t sleep with his dark thoughts, the building sense of terror, never knowing if he would be allowed to live another day. He’d felt that way ever since the night Snape had killed Dumbledore and the Dark Lord had mercifully spared his life after a violent round of Cruciatus curses. He was dangling over a fire by a fine thread, never knowing if it would hold, always expecting a malicious hand to slice it without a warning.

Goyle stirred slightly, murmured something in his sleep, and Draco’s hand flew to his borrowed wand, his mother’s wand. After a moment, he realized nothing was happening. His Mark wasn’t burning. All was quiet. His breathing slowed once more. He tried to forget about the last time he’d been summoned, about what he’d been forced to do. He willed himself not to worry about what it would be next time, about if he would be able to do it or not. In the part of his mind that wasn’t afraid, he was filled with rage at what the Dark Lord had reduced him to.

He wondered where he would be now if he’d chosen differently on the astronomy tower, if he’d accepted Dumbledore’s stupid, radical offer of protection. It hadn’t been an option, really, not with the others already in the castle. But what if he didn’t have to be here now, jumping at nothing like the coward he truly was? It was blasphemous to think that way, he knew, but he couldn’t help torturing himself with chances long gone. And the worst part of all was the fact that his fate, in any of these imagined, “safe” realities, was truly worse than being Avada Kedavra-ed by the Dark Lord.

Potter. No matter what, these childish fantasies of safety involved Harry Potter, and they involved him triumphing like Draco had always refused to believe he would. And really (Draco fervently hoped the Mark on his arm had no powers of Legilimency), the only thing he really wanted to happen, even now, was for Potter to curse the Dark Lord off the face of the earth. As the prophecy his father had failed to retrieve had supposedly foretold, Harry was the only one who could do that. Could do what he, Draco, couldn’t.

Abominably, then, the idea of Potter ending this torment calmed him just enough for a bit of desired drowsiness to fall on him. He was just settling into an uneasy sleep when the familiar, seething burn spread along his left arm like a hot chain being yanked. Draco sat up, his mother’s wand gripped in his hand. He hesitated, unable to move, trying to calm the choking breaths that wouldn’t quite escape his chest.

Momentarily he realized that the summons wasn’t for him, and he felt relieved for a slight second until the full reality of what was happening hit him. Then, his terror grew. Someone in the castle had summoned the Dark Lord Himself, which meant only one thing - someone had captured Potter, and if they hadn’t, or if he ran off, the Dark Lord would be very displeased. Flashes of what had happened after Potter and his friends had escaped the Manor before the Dark Lord had arrived consumed Draco’s senses against his will. He went back there.

Now Aunt Bellatrix, who had taught him all about ruthlessness, was screaming helplessly, and begging.

Now his father was laid out on the floor, writhing, bellowing, gasping.

Now the Dark Lord was approaching
him, and all Draco could see was the furious glint in His inhuman eyes, and his body came alive with searing pain, a familiar agony. In between the curses and high pitched screams that couldn’t possibly be his, he thought he heard himself plead, “Kill me. Please. Kill me.” But still, the pain vibrated through him.

Draco shuddered back to the present, the echoes of screams flowing through his mind. He was covered in a cold sweat. He knew he should try to find out what was going on, but he had to gain control of himself first. As he struggled, eager footsteps and shouts filled the corridor outside the dormitory door. The few other Death Eaters in Slytherin were on the move. Someone running by banged on the door, was banging on every door all the way to the common room.

A thrilled voice yelled, “Someone’s got Potter!”

Blaise Zabini stirred at the sound, as did Crabbe and Goyle, and Draco sensed rather than heard them excitedly readying themselves for whatever was afoot. He desperately wanted to hide somewhere, but before he realized what he was doing, he was following his classmates out into the chaos-filled common room.

Professor Slughorn was attempting to speak over the excited, confused jumble of students. “Now, look here, everyone,” he began. “Look here!” Some of the students stopped to stare at him, while others continued talking noisily. “You-Know-Who will soon be here, and we – ”

The Death Eaters and wannabes whispered excitedly amongst themselves, and Slughorn’s face colored with embarrassment and frustration.

“LISTEN!” he thundered, though he still couldn’t catch their full attention. “We are evacuating the school now. Proceed to the Great Hall. Prefects, you are in charge of …”

Some students scrambled to grab random belongings, but most obediently allowed Slughorn to shepherd them into the corridor. Two students Draco knew to have the Mark were attempting to blend in as they exited, but they moved purposefully and excitedly like they were headed to Hogsmeade for the first time. If only they knew how unlike a pleasant day at Hogsmeade this night was likely to be. Draco barely moved, not even when Slughorn turned contemptuously to stare him down before pushing the rest of the students out of the common room. Crabbe and Goyle stood oafishly rooted beside him.

“We gonna stay and fight, ain’t we?” Goyle proclaimed proudly, and Draco thought he looked stupid. As if staying and fighting would be a fun little picnic.

He was working out how to get off Hogwarts grounds before the Dark Lord arrived, but suddenly the seething burn spread across his forearm again, much stronger than earlier, obliterating his pathetic hope of getting away. The Dark Lord was here, and from the pulsating burn that continued longer than it ever had before, he was summoning every last Death Eater to his side. Of course, Crabbe and Goyle had no idea it was happening, and Draco felt no need to enlighten them.

“I want t’ see where they’ve got ‘im,” Crabbe almost whined, and Draco assumed he meant Potter.

Crabbe’s voice jolted Draco out of his paralysis at the summons he’d just felt. “Yes,” he agreed. “Let’s go.”

He was still bent on escape, somehow, as they made their way into the roiling corridor, but he wanted his friends to stay with him, and he knew they would be adamantly against anything less than living out the Death Eater dream, though neither of them had been so gifted as he had been. He was contemplating the best places to hide that would also appear like a search for Potter when the Dark Lord’s cold voice sounded around them.

“I know that you are preparing to fight,” [1] he intoned. Draco’s knees felt weak. The Dark Lord was bartering now, offering mercy as a trade for Harry Potter, an exchange none of the crazed Gryffindors would ever accept. He continued, “Give me Harry Potter, and you will be rewarded. You have until midnight.” [2]

In those last words, Draco felt the Dark Lord was speaking directly to him. As much as he loathed the master he couldn’t escape, it still felt like salvation, hearing “reward” on his lips. Would it be possible to reverse all the damage he’d done to his family name with such a simple act?

“Le’s find Potter for ’im!” Crabbe exclaimed urgently, obviously just as enticed at the prospect of a reward as Draco was.

Draco turned toward his friends, determined not to let them screw up his one chance. “Disillusion yourselves now!” he hissed. “He can’t see us coming.”

oo

Draco limped along the eerily quiet grounds, staying close to the bushes, fearful lest anyone should see him. His plan had gone horribly, horribly wrong. Not only did he fail to capture Potter, fail to redeem himself, but now he also had to slink along with no wand. Damn that foolish Crabbe, ruining everything. Draco shuddered, remembering the heat of the flames he had barely escaped, not sparing a thought for his friend until he himself was safe. Even after something as utterly rash as summoning the almost always uncontrollable fiendfyre, his lifetime friend hadn’t deserved to die like that, in explosion of molten flame. He pushed thoughts of Crabbe as far out of his mind as possible.

Earlier the castle had been so filled with fighting and chaos that he’d failed to find an adequate hiding place and had been dodging curses from both sides all night. After what seemed an eternity, the Dark Lord had granted his enemies a reprieve, expecting Harry Potter to come to him. The strategy seemed unbelievable to Draco, too easy – that the Dark Lord expected his arch-enemy to approach him simply because he ordered it, but Draco had a sinking feeling that Potter’s bleeding-heart-hero-complex made it the best strategy of all time.

The sudden peace had come as an immense relief, but Draco felt apprehensive, knowing that something of utmost importance that he did not control would soon take place. As time dragged on, the deceptive calm began to be almost as maddening as the fighting. Ever since the ceasefire had begun, Draco had successfully avoided those gathering the dead and wounded, knowing that the mere sight of him might be an easy trigger for violence. He felt so inexplicably helpless and unable to face even the weakest opponent, but somehow his body kept moving, anxiously awaiting the impending storm.

After what had to have been longer than the promised hour of reprise, Draco convulsed in fear as the Dark Lord’s voice sounded throughout the grounds again, so close to him that he flinched as at a physical blow. Draco had been expecting a tirade that promised more violence, more fighting, but instead the unthinkable, horrific words spilled gleefully out of the Dark Lord.

Harry Potter. Dead.

Voldemort. Promising a brave new world built on magical strength alone.

Draco started to shake, uncontrollable tremors, short little gasps. The premise of pureblood rule had been in his ears and on his lips for as long as he could remember, but now that it was imminent, he felt like vomiting. Not like this, he thought. Not with a madman leading the way. A part of him couldn’t believe what was happening, couldn’t even begin to imagine what a world ruled by this psychopath would be like. And hadn’t the prophecy foretold the Dark Lord’s defeat? What of that?

A deathly silent crowd began to file out of the school, surrounding him. He noticed Potter’s friends sprinting through the great doors at the front of everyone and gathering in a disbelieving huddle. Members of “Dumbledore’s Army” and the Order of the Phoenix, what was left of them, were scattered throughout the crowd that grew, some looking demoralized, others obviously in denial as if this were merely a part of the Dark Lord’s strategy to defeat them and not at all the truth. Their hero couldn’t be dead.

All eyes focused on the Forest. Gradually, the low thunder of the giants’ steps shook the ground, and then the Death Eaters were just barely visible amongst the trees, moving slowly, deliberately. Their dark cloaks were perfectly visible, even in the dim morning light, and Draco soon realized that none of them wore masks, not even the most paranoid about revealing their identities. As they drew nearer still, Draco made out the white-blonde of his mother’s hair bobbing among them, her carriage dignified, resolute. For a split second, he felt that everything might still be okay.

But then he caught a glimpse of the dangling form in that idiot, Hagrid’s, bulky arms. The long, matted hair could have belonged to anyone, really, but even before he saw the tell-tale glasses, Draco knew it really was him. Really Potter. Dead.

All he could do was wait. All any of them could do was wait. When the Dark Lord addressed the crowd and spilled Potter’s lifeless form onto the ground at his feet, it seemed like everything should be over. What could Draco possibly do without his wand, or with it, for that matter? Even Draco’s desire to flee had left him. How many times had he wished death on Potter only to wish, now, that it wasn’t true?

As the Dark Lord’s enemies began to engage him, Draco was swallowed up in his mother’s frantic arms. What should have been a comfort was nothing to him. He felt hollow; he couldn’t respond to her embrace, though earlier he had been ready to sprint up to the macabre parade simply to be at her side. He stared at her face as if she were a stranger.

Narcissa met his eyes as if trying to communicate something of great importance and then quickly looked around to make sure no one was watching them. She pressed him closer, and he thought he heard her whisper, “Not dead.”

Draco pulled away and glared at her, not comprehending, and then his gaze followed hers to the corpse at the Dark Lord’s feet. Potter looked deader than a doornail, but why would his mother make up such a useless tale?

He was drawn out of his confused thoughts as Neville Longbottom started screaming and screaming, the Sorting Hat enflamed on his head. And then suddenly out of nowhere, centaurs began attacking, one of their arrows felling the Death Eater standing next to Draco. Without a thought, he made to run for the open doors of the school. As he did so, he thought he heard someone screaming that Harry was missing, but he didn’t stop. He couldn’t stop.

There was, in an instant, pandemonium and fighting inside the school once again. Somehow, Draco was hurdled toward the Great Hall in all of the confusion, and he quickly crouched beneath a section of table that had earlier been hurriedly pushed against a far wall.

oo

Even from far under the table, Draco could tell that Potter and the Dark Lord had engaged each other. Their circling footsteps were the only sound aside from the words they jeered at one another, sizing each other up. The greater the Dark Lord’s rage at Potter’s words, the farther Draco backed up under the table, waiting for the curse to come from one of them - soon - and he wanted to be as far away as possible when it did.

Their taunts veered to what Draco had come to think of as “the wand issue.” Even though the Dark Lord had been raving about it for the better part of the year, Draco still didn’t grasp the importance of any wand over another past the obvious necessity of cursing the other first. The whole thing seemed to him to be a sure indicator of his honored Lord’s madness. Back and forth they yammered about it until Draco thought he would be sick with anticipation. Potter, you dumbass, just do it while he’s still talking, he thought. He wanted the game of cat-and-mouse to come to an end. Someone was going to die, and they needed to get it over with.

Gradually, from his extremely hidden position, Draco realized they were arguing specifically about the Death Stick of legend. It seemed the Dark Lord was enraged because he believed himself to be master of said Death Stick, having finally won its allegiance by killing Snape who’d won it by killing Dumbledore who … The train of thought was a bit too much to follow in his fog of terror, but the direction it was all headed – that someone other than Snape had possessed the wand’s allegiance – was making Draco break out into a sweat. It was absolutely, one hundred percent lunacy Potter was talking.

And then Potter actually brought his name into it – “The true master of the Elder Wand was Draco Malfoy.” [3]

There was no more space to back into under the table, and as Draco bumped against the wall, he felt the world falling away. It wasn’t like the Dark Lord knew where he was, but he felt vulnerable and exposed. Snape had died so that the wand could truly belong to the Dark Lord, so Draco, of much lesser value, didn’t stand a chance. He so badly wished he could Disillusion himself and run away never to be seen or heard from again.

Suddenly, however, Potter and the Dark Lord’s spells rang out in horrible screams, simultaneously, and Draco could see the light flashing even from his hidden position. The ominous moment he’d been dreading and awaiting had come, and Draco found himself crouching closer to the edge of the table to be able to see the outcome.

With a sickening thud the Dark Lord’s body fell not far from him, and then it felt like his left forearm was being burned and ripped open. Crying out in agony, he pulled up his sleeve with a shaking hand. He gasped. It was as if the Mark had been splinched away, leaving only an ugly wound. This was not the slight fading that the Dark Lord’s first disappearance had left behind on his followers, indicating his return. This was the chain that had bound Draco for the last year, finally and unalterably, gone.

The pain was nothing to him as he breathed a sigh of relief. Bloody Potter.

oo



Author's Note: A huge thanks to Blissbug for beta-ing! You're awesome!

[1] Taken from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, US Hardcover edition, page 609.

[2] Taken from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, US Hardcover edition, page 610.

[3] Taken from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, US Hardcover edition, page 743.


Chapter 15: Together in Death
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Together in Death
by Oh_Sugar_Quills
(Hufflepuff)



Remus Lupin had imaged this day for years. The day that Voldemort would finally be defeated, or so they hoped. Though he had imagined how he thought this would happen, and was happy that the day was finally there, he was still nervous about the fight. The adrenaline, and knowing that Tonks and Teddy were safe at home, kept him moving.

The battle had just started, so the corridors were mostly empty, with the occasional person running to join in the fight. Remus wasn’t rushing to join into the fight, but he wasn’t moving slow either. He knew the possible consequences of fighting, and he was thinking of the good that would come from killing Voldemort for his wife and child, and if he were lucky, himself. He was thinking about all of the good people that would die that day, and the family that they would be leaving behind. But at least it was all for good and no one could say that they died for nothing.

He was starting to hear the voices of people fighting, spells being said, and things being knocked over. It was time for him to fight, so he held his wand out in front of him and started throwing spells at any Death Eaters that he passed, whether they fought him or not. He didn’t feel the need to stop and help the people fighting that he passed, as they looked like they were handling themselves pretty well, and the Death Eaters they were fighting didn’t look very strong. He kept moving forward until he turned a corner and was face to face with a Death Eater. He was standing nose to nose with Antonin Dolohov, who had a slight smile on his pale face.

“It’s about time I get to kill a member of the Order of the Phoenix!” Dolohov said.

“Try your best!” Remus told him, bringing on the duel.

Dolohov shot the first spell, which Remus dodged as he shot of a spell of his own. It continued like that for a minute or two, and Remus began to feel confident in his ability to win the duel until Bellatrix Lestrange rounded the corner and gave a little laugh before heading over to help Dolohov.

Remus was starting to get worried. Both Bellatrix and Dolohov were very strong, and very skilled, and it would be close to impossible for him to defeat them both. But before Bellatrix could join in, she saw something that made tilt her head to the side and stare for a moment, before smiling and glancing back at Remus.

He knew he was taking a risk, but Remus couldn’t help but turn his head to see what Bellatrix was looking at. The instant he looked, he saw Tonks coming towards him, but he thought he was just imagining it and had to risk a second look.

What he saw was real, and Tonks was now fighting Bellatrix. Their duel was moving right next to Remus and Dolohov.

“What are you doing here?” Remus asked, still dueling. “I told you to stay home with Teddy!”

“You know me well enough to know that I can’t just ignore a good fight,” She said.

He did know that, and he should have realized that she’d probably come, but he thought that having Teddy there would keep her at home.

“Don’t think about me being here, Remus. Concentrate on what you’re doing,” Tonks said.

He did what Tonks asked, though he couldn’t help his mind wandering a little. His attention was drawn back to Tonks when he saw a jet of green light fly past him. He had no doubt that Bellatrix had used the killing curse, but Tonks was okay for now. He brought his attention back to his own duel until he saw another jet of green light come from Bellatrix.

Tonks and Remus met each others eyes one last time before the curse hit Tonks square in the chest, and she fell to the floor. Remus didn’t acknowledge anything around him, and forgot about his duel for a moment as he looked at her. When he remembered about his duel just a moment later, it was too late. Dolohov shot the killing curse directly at Remus, and he fell to the ground right beside Tonks.

Chapter 16: Galant Times
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Galant Times
by Scooterbug8515
(Hufflepuff)




Times had been dark in the castle, darker that Sir Cadogan had see in a long time. Of course there was that vile fiend Gray that was running about or was it Black, maybe Pink? Yes certainly Pink! Oh the years had passed already and Cadogan's memory was waning though he certainly did not forget the prestige in protecting the abode of the brave and gallant! No none passed him with out the proper words! There was a whole lot of them as well to, to have out foxed that scoundrel Pink! It was most unfortunate that his guarding days were at an end and now he was left to find his own adventures.

Some years were considerably more dry than others and this year was not one of them, though there was the challenge of chivalry being all but dead. There had been many horrors and atrocities that had befallen Sir Cadogan's eyes. Ladies were not well treated and young ones were trampled underfoot, trust and love was gone and that sir was no way of a knight. What had happened the chivalry, carrying a kerchief in a lady's favor, righting wrongs and doing good? Sir Cadogan was at a loss. He yelled and clamored through the year for at least one person to hear his pleas to set things straight. He gave chase after the scoundrels who did wrong and needed to be taught a lesson to only be brushed aside as a worthless old man.

Was that what he had become some worthless buffoon? Could he not do anything to make things better? If only more of those of true noble deed stood for what was right. It seemed to take ages but as Sir Cadogan was ready to retire in his great plight to bring justice back into the world, Harry Potter, a son of noble deed and Sir Cadogan was sure of it noble birth too, returned to the castle, and with him came the battle to end all battles!

It was good to see people doing what was right what was needed once more, to see the hacking and slashing all about, it was so invigorating that Sir Cadogan wished nothing more than to be part of it! He raced from portrait to portrait offering advice and good cheer to those on the side of light. He wasn't the only one there were other portraits doing much as he, prepping for battle, others stealing themselves to bar entrance to locations to hinder the enemy it was wonderful and fantastic till he cam to the fight of what could be called the mad woman and the pink lady. He wondered if she was a relation to the dastardly Pink but he figured not seeing as she was seeming to fight for good as the mad woman spoke slurs and vile things that Sir Cadogan had never imagined a woman to know.

The battle was intense and thought provoking and the full hardy knight was brought to silence, particularly as the realization that these two dueling women were related. It couldn't be! Couldn't be so! Kin against kin! It was almost too much to watch and yet Sir Cadogan did, his eyes glued to the scene before him before finally in a moment of weakness on the part of the pink lady, the mad woman cast a green spell which Cadogan knew to be of evil and the pink lady fell back her hair brown, and she moved no more.

Sir Cadogan was never certain if he called out in shock and anger at the outcome of the battle, as his ears were filled with the cackling of the mad woman as she vanished away reveling in killing her kin. If a painting could cry, Sir Cadogan knew that he would have shed a tear for the no longer pink lady. He stood looking over her with a grim expression for a moment or two the sounds of battle raging on behind him. What was a poor painting to do?

The no longer pink lady could not remain where she was it was not respectful or fitting for such a valiant woman. Forcing himself to tear his eyes away Sir Cadogan took off looking for some one some being who could collect the fair lady and take her to a proper resting place. It took some time but eventually as the battle died down some he found the deputy headmistress and as solemn tears streamed down her face she saw to the no longer pink lady.

Sir Cadogan had always thought that battle and fights were glorious and exhilarating but in a moment like this he found that not to always be true. Never again did he want to see such terrors enter the wall of Hogwarts his beloved home.

Chapter 17: Apologies Forthcoming
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Apologies Forthcoming
by Raielle
(Slytherin)




The tunnel was getting brighter. I felt as if certain death was fast approaching, but I ignored it, hurrying down the narrow tunnel, my eyes adjusting to the sudden light -

I fell to the floor, my glasses pushing up onto my forehead, making them lopsided. I stared around wildly as I used the chair I had fallen next to as support, pulling myself up. “Am I too late? Has it started? I only just found out, so I…”* I stopped abruptly in the middle of the sentence. My family was standing right there, staring at me as if I had just risen from the grave. I wanted to run back into the tunnel. I had been avoiding this moment for far too long, so why give up now?

A beautiful blonde girl I recognized from the Triwizard Tournament as Fleur Delacour (pardon me, Weasley) attempted to make the air lighter by talking about someone named Teddy. I ignored her and Lupin, my eyes filling with moisture. I cried as I told them how sorry I was. “I was an idiot, I was a pompous prat, I was a- a-”*

“Ministry-loving, family-disowning, power-hungry moron,”*said Fred, and I saw that his eyes were brighter than his grim expression. I had been waiting on that for so long. He was going to forgive me. I could feel the tears flowing more freely as I assumed that that was what my family thought of me. It could change now. I could redeem myself. Swallowing, I replied hastily that I was indeed those things.

Fred took a step forward, and for an instant, I thought he was going to smack me across the face. I held my chin out; I knew it was well deserved. But he only held his hand out, smiling wryly. I gripped his hand eagerly, my lips pursing into a grimace as I couldn’t stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks. I wanted to embrace Fred, something I couldn’t remember ever wanting to do in my entire life. I didn’t get the chance to.

Mother started sobbing, and she shoved Fred out of the way, clinging to me. I patted her on the back, but I had eyes only for the balding man standing in front of me. I whispered in a strangled voice how sorry I was. He rushed over to me, and hugged the side of me that wasn’t covered by Mother. I embraced them both tightly, cursing myself for waiting until this moment to apologize. All I knew was that I was finally happy now that I had my family back.

The happiness was, of course, short lived.

George clapped me on the back as my parents let go of me. I felt so happy that they were accepting me that I didn’t even care that they knew of my shame. I stared at the faces of my family. I couldn’t believe how terribly I had missed them. I had always been so aggravated, so annoyed by their presence. But now, in spite of everything, I was so glad to be a Weasley again. I never wanted to lose that feeling.

George smirked, leading me towards the staircases along with Fred, Bill and Fleur. “Well, it‘s good to have you back, Perce. We need someone shouting at us every now and again for our ‘childish’ behaviour.” I shook my head, for once grateful that he was making jokes about me. I followed him up the stairs, where he was leading other members of my family.

I turned to Fleur, realising just how much I had missed out on. I offered her my hand, greeting her. She beamed, and took my hand, shaking it.

“Eet eez a pleazure to meet you, Percee.” Fleur replied radiantly, moving back to be next to Bill, who was looking ghastly, might I add. I wanted desperately to ask one of the twins why he looked so different, but I assumed that would not be the best thing to ask so soon after reconciling.

The five of us jogged up the steps, hearing shouts coming from a corridor. We turned the corner, and spotted several Death Eaters standing there, draped in black as they spotted us. “Kill them!” One of the Death Eaters shouted, his hood drawn over his face. The black team rushed forward. I pulled out my wand, which was mirrored by the rest of my troupe.

“It’s now or never, mates.” Fred said forcefully, a mad grin on his face. George grinned back, and I couldn’t help but reciprocate. This was just too good. We would dominate the Death Eater’s and return home as a whole family once more. I braced my wand, pointing it at the man who had shouted.

“Impedimenta!” A blue light erupted from my wand, but it was deflected by a shielding spell. I dodged a red light, and pressed myself up against the wall, flattening against it. George pounced on a Death Eater, attacking him with a Stunning Spell. Fleur and Bill were taking the rear of the group, both duelling their separate enemies. A hooded man and a masked man stood in front of me, their wands raised. The hooded man’s lips twisted into a smirk as he opened his mouth -

An orange light hit the two men, making them fly backwards. I saw Fred near me, beaming. “Anything to help my dear older brother.” He explained, pulling me from the wall. I smiled back, but quickly turned to the two men. The hooded man was on my side, while the masked man was on Fred’s. We stood, back-to-back, our wands raised high.

“Ready, Fred?” I asked, gripping my wand tightly as the hooded man raised his.

“Ready, Perce.” The reply set the sparks. Literally.

Jinx after jinx was aimed in the air. Lights of different colours surrounded me as I shouted curses and spells into the air, trying to hit the hooded man. I noticed Harry, Ron and Hermione in the corridor, standing with fangs in their arms. With no time to question it, I looked back, hitting my opponent with an especially unique jinx. The man stepped backward, clutching his middle. His hood fell off, and I saw who it was. I laughed aloud.

Pius Thicknesse tugged at the front of his robes, horror burning his eyes. The former Minister of Magic suddenly broke out in spikes as he fell to the ground, turning into a grotesque sea urchin. I gleefully told him not to expect me back for work on Monday. I heard a surprised noise coming from Fred.

I grinned in spite of myself. I turned to see Fred stunning the masked Death Eater, who fell to the ground. He turned to meet my gaze, walking towards me. “I think I could get used to-” Fred started saying, but he stopped.

I never heard what Fred could get used to, nor would I ever. A tall man pointed his wand directly at the scuffle, especially at Fred. He muttered something foreign, and the entire corridor exploded. I yelped as the wall broke and fell to the ground, dust rising instantly. The cold air from outside licked my skin as the stones slammed to the ground. My glasses fell from my face, breaking, but I ignored them, trying to see through the dust. I saw a red-haired body next to me, staring unseeingly into the night. No. No.

A blood-curdling, air-breaking scream exploded from what seemed like nowhere. I didn’t realize it was coming from me until I was leaning over Fred, my hands ripping at his chest. “No, no, NO!” I cried, heaving as I stared upon my brother, my little brother, my Fred.

“No!” I shouted again, my fingers raking through Fred’s red hair, “Fred! No!” I screamed, trying to wake him up, trying to make him stir. No. Make fun of me, Fred. Tell a joke. Tell me I’m the biggest prat you’ve ever encountered. But please, please don’t be dead. No.

George was standing there, looking down at the massacre. I tried to tell him it wasn’t true. Fred was alright. But the tears started pouring down my face hotly as I realized that I had killed him. If I hadn’t come back, if I hadn’t made that joke…he wouldn’t have been distracted. He would’ve survived. I watched as my tears dripped upon Fred’s grimy face, dripping so prolifically I wondered if it had started to rain.

I clutched Fred’s body, my face pressed against his chest. I sobbed into it, murmuring his name as if it were a mantra. I heard my name called several times, but I ignored. This was my fault. I felt two hands on my shoulders, pulling me away from Fred. I fought them off, holding Fred tighter. “Percy-”

Screams came from the corridor; a giant spider had apparently brought it’s friends to the battle. I ignored it, breathing steadily into Fred’s chest. I couldn’t leave him. I had left him for too long, and it was me coming back that had killed him. I had killed him.

Harry Potter came into my sight, reaching to grip Fred’s underarms. At first, I was going to throw him off, but I realized his intentions. I picked my brother up, crouching low as Potter and I carried him to an empty alcove. As soon as his body left my fingers, I felt the rage burn in my core. Rookwood. That bastard.

I screamed into the night, running into the direction I had seen him move to. I saw the man who had uttered those deadly words. He stood there, smirking, as if he had been waiting for me. I pulled out my wand, and I saw his face flicker suddenly. I had left all of my morals and all of my feelings back with Fred’s broken body. I pulled out my wand, pointing at Augustus Rookwood’s chest. “Avada Kedavra!” I watched as Rookwood fell to the ground, his body crumpling into nothing.

Nothing was where he belonged. Nothing was what he was. Hatred coursed through me as I stared at the man in black, motionless on the floor. But envy raced through me as well, piercing me with choking sobs as I fell to my knees, remembering what had happened. It was a nightmare come to life, and bare it’s bloody fangs at me as I became nothing on the floor.

I wish I were dead, too.



* - Next to lines indicate actual lines from the Deathly Hallows pages 486 and 487.

Chapter 18: Blood Ties
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Blood Ties
by ericajen
(Gryffindor)



“You,” Lord Voldemort began, flicking his wand in my direction and sending a sharp pain through my body, causing me to cry out. “Examine him. Tell me whether he is dead.”*

I conceded and walked over to Harry Potter’s body. The Boy Who Lived, only to be killed by the hands of Voldemort. I knelt down, and checked his pulse, expecting to feel nothing except his lifeless flesh. But his pulse was prominent. It was racing and, after a moment, mine was too.

He kept still, and I knew he expected me to tell Lord Voldemort that he was alive. To his surprise, I stayed where I was and continued to pretend to check him for signs of life.

This was my opportunity, and I would have been damned to not take it.

I leaned further forward, my long blond hair falling across his face. My lips were a mere inch from his ear and I whispered as quietly as I could, “Is Draco alive? Is he in the castle?”*

“Yes,” he whispered back, just as quiet.*

“He is dead!” I announced, standing back up. My voice was clear, concise, and loud enough for the surrounding crowd of Death Eaters to hear.*

Lying to Lord Voldemort was the hardest thing I have ever done. It was also the bravest; I have no shame in claiming that.

The celebration began, as I knew it would. They tortured his body, which they believed to be lifeless but which actually held the beating heart of Harry Potter. The lively soul of a hero. He was a hero. I never realized it before but there it was, clear as day.

I walked back over to Lucius who was unsurprisingly not participating in the torment of Potter. He was, like myself, worrying about Draco. I locked eyes with my husband but did not smile to reassure him. We knew how to be cunning and secretive. Instead, I felt him delve into my mind by power of Legillimency and I pushed away my own knowledge of Occulmency in order for him to see what I knew. He showed no surprise or any other reaction when he found what he was looking for.

We stayed with the Death Eaters and followed the crowd back to the castle, Hagrid carrying the body of Potter in his massive arms. We would breakaway later, when it was safe.

“Cissy,” my sister Bellatrix breathed in awe as she fell in step beside me. “Isn’t it--” she couldn’t even finish her sentence she was so delighted. I nodded in agreement and she hurried back up be closer to Voldemort.

When we reached the castle, he made his announcement about Potter and his death. It was lies, all of it, he hadn’t been trying to run away. I hadn’t a clue what he had been doing, but he had no appeared to be attempting escape.

The crowd inside the castle screamed when they heard the news and they cried when they saw the body on the ground. I stayed where I was, knowing that, when the time was right, the boy would show himself to be alive and he would fight. I could only hope that he would win. I knew I would be spared if he did. He was a good man, if nothing else, and would spare me and my family because I lied for him. We weren’t the best of people, but he would vouch for us.

If, on the other hand, he was defeated by Voldemort, my family and I would be done for. The thought caused my heart to contract painfully. He would know of my deceit and he would punish me and my family, something that I could not stand to happen.

Silently, I cheered for The Boy Who Lived.

And then things became chaotic again. They weren’t done fighting. Potter disappeared – likely with that Invisibility Cloak of his and the battle broke out again, moving into the Great Hall. Lucius and I took this as our chance and began running through the throngs of duellers, screaming for our son.

“Draco!” Lucius called.

“Draco!” I repeated loudly.

The Death Eaters were falling, crumpling under the resistance of Potter and Dumbledore’s followers. Even house-elves joining in. I scanned over the Great Hall, searching for Draco, but my eyes caught something else. The Weasley woman was duelling Bella, my sister, someone I cared for dearly, no matter how cruel she may have been. I gasped as her curse hit my sister over her heart and she fell to the ground, dead.

Lucius saw, too, and he grabbed my hand. Tears welled in my eyes and spilled out onto my cheeks. I wiped them away in frustration, trying to feel the determination to find my Draco again. I wanted more than anything to go find my son, but I had just witnessed the death of my sister and it was weighing me down like an anchor.

I sat down on the ground, feeling unable to stand any longer and I broke out into chest heaving sobs. I felt utterly defeated. My sister was dead and it was becoming more and more likely that Draco was as well. I was angry, too, for I thought maybe that Potter boy lied to me, knowing that it would save him. And I suddenly wanted to wrap my hands around his throat and kill him myself. But I was too overwhelmed by grief.

“Darling,” Lucius began, kneeling beside me. “We have to go find Draco.”

He’s dead! I wanted to wail, but didn’t, because at that same moment, a voice sounded from behind us. “Mum? Dad?”

We both turned around and saw our Draco standing a few steps away from us. He was covered in dirt and blood, his hair was a matted mess, but he was our son.

“Draco,” I breathed and he rushed forward and threw his arms around Lucius and me.

I relished the feel of my son’s arms around my neck and I embraced him back as tightly as I could, letting the tears to continue to fall down my face. It was the happiest moment of my life to be in the arms of my son and my husband. I knew right then that everything would be okay.

oo



Beta’d by blueirony

*Credit for the dialogue goes to J.K. Rowling, Deathly Hallows. Page 725, American hardback edition.


Chapter 19: A Thought
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A Thought
by butterbeergal
(Hufflepuff)


She stared at the wand that was pointed between her eyes with what she hoped was a stoic expression. Beads of sweat trickled down her face as the man looked menacingly at her, ready to utter the two words that would end her life in a flash – literally. She had fallen down and struggled to keep herself up, shards of glass cutting through her palm, but she paid no attention to the pain. She didn’t want to show him the mess that she was inside.

Had she been in this situation three years ago, she would have begged for the man not to take her life. She would have cowered like a child, cried out every teardrop in her. But that was three years ago, when the world she knew of consisted only of yellow couches and leather-bound books and Sugar Quills. Back then, the most dangerous part of her year was being a spectator of the Triwizard Tournament. Back then, she had her mum to keep her together.

His hand started moving backwards, his mouth opening an inch, then two, until she could tell it formed the beginning of her death. Everything could have been over in seconds, but every second seemed to last an hour in the moments preceding what she thought would be her end.

“Expelliarmus!”

Hannah didn’t have time to register the owner’s voice as she watched the man’s wand fly out of his hand. He looked to someone behind her, his face livid.

“I’ll get you for that, boy!” he growled.

“Hannah, run! “ Neville shouted as the man turned away from her.

She didn’t need to be told twice. Quickly grabbing her wand which had earlier fallen out of her grip, she scrambled to her feet and ran frantically to Neville’s side.

“You have to go before he gets both of us,” he said, not taking his eyes away from the man who was searching through the rubble.

“But what about you?” she asked, alarmed at the thought of leaving him behind.

Neville shook his head. “Don’t worry about me. Now go and help the others!” he said urgently.

Hannah looked up at him with a mixture of admiration and anxiety. She squeezed his arm as if to reassure him that everything would be all right before pelting down what used to be a corridor on the first floor.

Her heart and mind raced a thousand miles a minute, her eyes scanning the devastation before her. Blocks of marble and a number of bodies were strewn across the floor, but she did not dare look closely for fear of seeing someone she knew. Though many had fallen, many more were still fighting, their images nothing more than a blur of greens and reds amidst the darkness that enveloped everyone and everything.

Never in a million years would she have thought that she would live to experience the war, much less fight in it. She had been content to sit in the sidelines and watch, keeping out of harm’s way. But if there’s anything the last two years had taught her, it was that sometimes, sitting and watching were no longer options. Her mum’s murder was the final straw. She could not live with herself if she continued to do nothing.

She had to fight. Fight for the times when she had chosen not to. Fight for the times she had allowed others to walk on her. Fight for the mum that she would never see again.

It scared her, oh God, did it scare her. There were days when she wanted to leave Hogwarts and go into hiding until the war was over, but to do so would be an insult to her mum’s memory. She couldn’t live with that. She wouldn’t.

She kept running, not really knowing where to go, ducking spells and flying debris until she reached the castle’s entrance. She froze at the sight of the ocean of duelers outside, of light and humans thrown together in a deadly dance. It was all so overwhelming. Would she make it out alive?

“Hannah, duck!” someone shouted from somewhere, and she was jolted out of her hesitation to seek safety behind a fallen column, or whatever it used to be. She closed her eyes and took a steadying breath. Memories of her mum flooded her mind – of hot chocolates shared in winter, of warm embraces that never failed to comfort her, of love so unconditional she knew could never be taken away from her.

For the first time in a long time, she felt at peace with herself. She pressed her palm to her lips and blew a kiss to the heavens.

“This is for you, mum,” she whispered.

Holding firmly on to her wand and her mum’s love, she stood up and marched out of the castle, no longer caring if she made it out alive for she had only one thought –

This is for you.

Chapter 20: A Squib's Help
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A Squib's Help
by alicia and anne
(Slytherin)




The school was under attack. I could hear the walls thundering as though they had been hit by something large. I looked up above me to the never ending ceiling as the students around me screamed in horror. Dust and rubble fell down the staircase, narrowly missing us by inches.

“Calm down!” I yelled loudly, causing all of the students around me to look at me with their tear and fear filled eyes. They all looked so helpless and terrified as they listened to any order I gave, knowing that I was the one here to help them.

“now follow me, no pushing or shoving. We all need to get out of here as quickly and safely as we can”

I pushed to the front of the group and they all followed me, clutching hold of each other. I felt sorry for them, they were terrified of what was going to happen to them and what was going to happen to their families. I led them to the room of requirement where many students were gathering and made sure I was there to witness that everyone of them got through the opening safely.

I felt myself hoping that they were going to make it out ok, much to my horror. I cared for their wellbeing, no one deserved to go out in a war this way, not even the students I had taken to hating over the years.

“thank you so much Mr Filch, thank you for helping us escape” came a small squeaky voice from in front of me

I looked up shocked at these words as I felt myself swell with pride. I realised that I was part of the group that got them all to safety, ultimately saving their lives. Before I could say anything back to the girl she had disappeared into the hole.

I stared after her still in my shocked state, in all the years I had been at this school, no student had ever thanked me, or said one nice thing to me, It made me feel good. After this girls kind words more and more people were thanking me for helping them, and it felt good to hear them finally appreciate all of the work I had done.

Once the final student had gone through the hole I raced as fast as I could out of the room, hobbling slightly as I rounded a corner, I had to find Peeves. I hadn’t gone far before I heard him.

“Filchy Filchy Filchy”

I felt relieve at hearing the voice and for the first time in my life I was glad to see Peeves as he floated above me.

“Peeves! Merlin am I glad to see you” i wheezed, Peeves looked at me confused. Another thundering noise was heard and it felt like the castle shook a little. I hoped that our defences hadn’t been destroyed. We needed to keep the monsters out.

“What’s happening?” he asked me, and for the first time he wasn’t being silly or having a laugh, Peeves was finally being serious.

“The castle is under attack, by He- who – must – not – be – named. McGonagall needs your help! We all need you to help us” I begged him, something I never thought I would have to do.

“Peeves is on it!” Peeves gave me a salute “I have just the thing, they won’t know what hit them!” the mischievous look filled his face as he zoomed off.

I watched him go as my mind worked over time on how on earth I could help the school in this fight. I was a squib what good was I? I barely knew any magic, and was far from helping send curses at people. My mind suddenly thought back to my office at my filing cabinet filled with all of the dangerous stuff I had confiscated over the years from students, I would find as many useful things as I could and use them against the invaders of the school.

I began my run again, this time to my office. I hoped that Mrs Norris had taken to hiding in there as I wasn’t going to be able to protect her in my fight against the death eaters and monsters that had attacked us. I had a school to protect and students to save from harm, and I was going to do everything I could to help, even if it meant throwing dangerous magical objects at them from an open window. I had to try and do everything I could to help defeat evil.

Chapter 21: IOU
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IOU
by Lisarr
(Slytherin)




The sky got much darker, but the day had been pretty grim, anyway. The grey clouds turned to black and continued to rumble past, unaware that everything was changing beneath them. I couldn’t see it that well, anyway, as my left eye was swelling up even more after the retort I’d made to a Carrow a few weeks ago. Even though they’d hit me with their hand, I think there must have been some kind of magic in it, as it just wouldn’t go away, no matter what I did.

Some of the girls tried to help, but even though we were staying in the room or requirement it wasn’t perfect; if you didn’t know how to fix something, then the room couldn’t produce the equipment you needed to fix it unless you knew what it was. It means you have to think outside the box, which is something I’m slowly getting better at.

Things had changed for me a long time ago. I may have shared a dormitory with Harry Potter for six years, but I still went against him in fifth year and there’s little I regret more than that. Apart from maybe loosing contact with Dean. He was my best friend, he still is my best friend, and I missed him so much.

When Dean came into the Room of Requirement, everything seemed right again for a moment. I’d tried to convince myself that he was dead so I wouldn’t waste time in shock if I had the misfortune to find myself face-to-face with his dead body, but there he was. Alive, fairly healthy and smiling. What more could I ask for?

After a quick reunion, we were apart again.

There wasn’t time to reminisce, though. This was war. I felt like I had to be everywhere at once, just to make up for my past. One second I was trying to cast the most powerful Patronus I could, when before I’d only been able to do little more than silvery wisps. This time it was different, though. I think it was the adrenaline of actually being face to face with hundreds of dementors rather than a Boggart which did it. Ernie helped, too.

“Come on Seamus; focus!” He had yelled at me, and I followed his instruction. Luna was there with us, too, but I’d never seen her shout and I doubt I ever will. After that, everything started to blur together. I fired a curse here, knocked out someone there and protected Luna from an oncoming stunning charm. I felt like I should show my gratitude for helping me before, so I saved her life in a way. Though I doubt death eaters would bother casting a killing curse on someone unconscious as they would assume they were already dead, but I still helped.

Then Voldemort’s voice rang out around the Great Hall when I was shooting stunners at a retracting death eater. Everyone just stopped. The voice sent shivers down my spine and I couldn’t believe how I had thought he was dead once. He was real, and ready to kill everyone here, no matter if they were on his side or ours. He had no mercy to show.

That hour was worse than the previous one. At least before I knew what I had to do, but coming to terms with the bodies that had been carted into the Great Hall was too much. I cried. I wasn’t the only one, not by a long shot.

No one knew where Harry was, either, and that worried me. He was a far better man than any of us; he could be handing himself over or trying to kill himself just so we wouldn’t have to suffer. There was no point in me trying to find him, though. He wouldn’t trust me anymore.

After the hour was up, I was almost relieved. But the sound of Voldemort was like a charm, drawing us out of the castle and into the grounds to see what we had feared the most; Harry Potter’s lifeless body.

It all seemed to pass in a blur; I didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t know how to stop or focus. I’m pretty sure there was some spell on us, but I didn’t realise it at the time. I don’t think anyone did.

Finally I came to my senses, but we were all acting as one again. One unstoppable, determined force to bring Voldemort down. Back inside it was chaos. You never knew where a spell was going to hit you from, and you never knew where to aim it in case it hit a friend instead of a foe.

Two spells were coming at me a once, and I could only block one. Suddenly the other was blocked too. I looked for the source of the spell, but there was no-one there. I could have sworn I saw a hand turning invisible as it withdrew within something that turned it invisible.

I may not be the brightest grape in the bunch, but I can put two and two together. I worked out that Harry Potter had saved my life. Somehow, he had found it in him to forgive me, and I will never forget it.

I still owe him.

Chapter 22: We All Have Our Strengths
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We All Have Our Stengths
by long_live_luna_bellatrix
(Ravenclaw)



"Oliver! Oliver Wood, get your ass over here!"

"What, what?" Oliver Wood grumbled, emerging from the bathroom with his hair tousled and damp. He supposed he should've been wearing more than just a towel around his waist, but then again, Alicia Spinnet had seen him in all forms of dress during their years at Hogwarts. He'd practiced enough Quidditch shirtless during his school days, and lately she'd taken to popping up at his apartment with news of Harry's fight. She'd already had the misfortune of catching Oliver leading his girlfriend to the bedroom.

"It's time to fight! Get some clothes on!" Alicia's face was quite large and commanding in the fireplace, engulfed in flickering green flames. She eyed the towel that was slipping from his hips.

"What? Now?"

"Yes, now! Neville's just sent word!"

Clutching his towel, Oliver ran back to his bedroom and grabbed a wrinkled pair of trousers from the floor. Hearing Alicia clucking from behind the closer door, he scrambled to find his wand under a pile of laundry. On second thought, he grabbed a shirt from the heap as well. "Coming!" he shouted.

"Where're we going?" Oliver asked, skidding back into the living room.

"We're to Apparate into the Hog's Head, that shifty old bar," said Alicia, "Directly in, not by the doorstep. There's a passage into the castle from there."

"We're fighting at Hogwarts?"

"Yep. See you there."


"They're evacuating the younger kids and everyone's meeting in the Great Hall to get organized," Harry said. "We're fighting."

Oliver got swept along in the rush as everyone bundled into the Room of Requirement cheered and headed for the door. On his right, Alicia grinned fiercely and to his left Katie Bell was whooping. Angelina Johnson shoved spiritedly him from behind as he stared in wonder at the adults around him. A fierce pride was beginning to take hold of Oliver, and it was all he could do not to plant his feet in the worn floor and marvel at his school's loyalty.

"The gang's all here," Fred Weasley yelled, slapping a high five with Katie. "You ready, Wood?"

"Always, Weasley. Don't you go fooling around on me now; we've got a real war to fight."

"Wouldn't dream of it."

They poured out into the hallway and broke for the Great Hall, where the battle plans were made. All around Oliver, students split for the evacuation or to fight. But he had felt the tug at the back of his mind during the speeches, meaning he was ready to start churning out tactics. He gestured for his three old Quidditch mates to gather round as the rest of the students tumbled from the room.

"Look," Oliver said, "they've got people covering the grounds, and others up in the towers. But they still haven't got the skies."

"Oliver," Katie moaned, "contrary to what you might think, not everything can involve Quidditch."

"No, no, he's right," said Alicia, "If there're people helping from above, it'll give Hogwarts a huge advantage."

"They could pick us off so easily from the sky though..." Angelina pointed out.

Oliver grinned. "That's what Disillusionment Charms are for."

"Ok, genius," Katie sighed, "What's your plan?"


"Ready?" Oliver asked, straddling his broom. He'd considered going back to his apartment to get his Cleansweep Eleven, but then decided against it. One well placed spell and it would be a pile of splinters. By Merlin, Oliver was getting out of this alive, and he'd need his broom in the future. For when he became a national Quidditch, of course.

"Ready," whispered Alicia, from somewhere to his left. Both she and her old school broom blended in perfectly with the stone castle walls behind them. A cool wind whipped the hair off Oliver's face and tugged at the end of his broom; he flexed his hands around the worn handle and braced his boots against the spongy ground. It was time.

"Ready," Katie called softly, a few paces ahead.

"All set," Angelina said.

"Then let's get this party started."

Silently, rapidly, the four adults pushed off from the ground and rose high into the sky, taking care to keep close to the castle walls. Oliver was suddenly possessed with the inexplainable urge to laugh; he could see no trace of his friends, but felt their presence deep within his bones, as in previous Quidditch matches. They were his team, and tonight they would work as one. Finally they were fighting for a worthy cause. And even better, they were doing it his way.

"Just aim for people that are alone," Oliver said, hoping his voice wouldn't be stolen by the wind, "No one will be the wiser; just silence them and move on."

"Are we shooting to kill?" someone piped up from below. Oliver wasn't sure, but he suspected it was Katie.

He sighed and wiped a bead of sweat from his brow. The Death Eaters would be killing left and right tonight, and for some students inside Hogwarts their only defense would be a strong offense. Yet Oliver and his old teammates would be safely hidden by the skies and their charms, and had no reason to resort to drastic measures. But then again, a dead Death Eater would not be able to sneak into the castle and kill more of Oliver's old teammates and friends.

"If we don't, we might regret it..." Oliver began, letting his sentence trail off into the skies and over the brightly lit castle. He let them get lost in the wind, hoping they weren't etched into the air as they would in his own mind.

A warm, firm hand came out of nowhere and patted his shoulder. "If anyone deserves to die, the men below us do," said Alicia.

"How many of them have children that deserve a parent? How many might, if they're given the chance, become better people?"

"And how many better people will die tonight if we don't do our duty?" Alicia countered. "Oliver, either way, someone will die. For once we have the ability to influence whether it's our men or theirs."

"Right. Right," Oliver shook himself. "Let's do this."

Alicia retreated, and Oliver drew his wand. He felt extraordinarily powerful up in the sky, invisible to all his enemies. He remembered, as a young lad, handling his first Beater's bat. He'd felt the same sense of power, until his first Bludger came hurtling toward him and his bat slipped from his hand he'd been so nervous.

Right. He had to keep his head in the game.

"There!" Angelina hissed, and Oliver trained his eyes on the ground. A lone figure strode across the grounds, cloaked completely in blank. He was focused on the grounds ahead of him, not sparing a glance for the skies. Oliver's heart leapt; surely a twenty-something's game of a plan would not succeed so quickly?

"Oliver!" Katie whispered, "How do we know if it's a Death Eater or not?"

Damn. That was one part he hadn't thought through all the way, and apparently neither had McGonagall when he'd asked permission to execute this plan.

"Here," Alicia said, "I'll summon his cloak; he's bound to look up and around fast, so as soon as you see a Death Eater, shoot. Accio cloak.,"

Far below, the person's cloak was whipped off their back as if a sudden wind had kicked up. A rat-faced Death Eater was revealed, his face the spitting image of one that had sneered out of a wanted poster years ago.

"Shoot, shoot!" shouted Oliver, and obeying his own orders he trained his wand on the figure that was now running for cover below. Beams of green light shot down all around Oliver, and he realized with a jolt this was the first time he'd ever shot a Killing Curse.

So this was what they'd come to.

Oliver's own spell missed, but someone else's hit the man square in the back and he collapsed immediately. Someone above cheered softly, and Alicia let the cloak flutter onto one of the castle's turrets where it draped itself slowly, the only sign they'd ever been there.

"All right, let's do this," Oliver murmured as another figure emerged from the Forbidden Forest.


"Oliver," Angelina croaked from his left,"We're all falling off our brooms here. Is there room for a break?"

"There's no such thing as a break in Quidditch," Oliver replied evenly, while summoning another cloak off a man. By now, the Death Eaters had realized someone was attacking from above, killing a dozen of their comrades, but there was no defense. Oliver, Katie, Angelina and Alicia were invisible even to the sharpest eyes. Against the backdrop of the stars and inky sky, they could not be seen.

A group of Death Eaters had assembled on the fringe of the forest, blending in with the shadows, only visible by their movement. They'd shot the occasional tentative Stunning Spell up, but it was easily spotted and avoided, and more often then not aimed for a spot the adults had already vacated. Oliver kept his eyes on them, letting the others watch for more on the grounds. As soon as a Death Eater broke rank, he would be ready.

As Oliver watched, the group condensed and huddled together, most likely conversing. Their backs were to the castle, and in their conversation they got a little to close to the grounds. Oliver knew they were Death Eaters; all the men they'd killed had been coming from the forest or heading straight to it.

So when one of the men took one too many steps backward, he took careful aim without summoning the cloak. But something was wrong; now they were all coming out at once, without fear. "Hold on," Oliver said, "Don't shoot. Something's happening."

The group turned into a progression, and the Death Eaters marched out triumphantly. For some reason, Hagrid was with them, carrying something. His shaggy head, raised above everyone else, was easily visible even from the sky.

"Merlin!" Katie shrieked, "It's Harry!"

Indeed it was. Harry, limp and pale, lay unmoving in Hagrid's arms. It couldn't be.

The next few minutes were a blur. From above, everything spoken sounded like it had been mumbled. Neville Longbottom boldly approached the group and said something; a tall, spidery figure that had to be You-Know-Who himself stepped forward, and Neville was suddenly wearing the Sorting Hat... Oliver was sure he was dreaming; he even pinched himself to check. Around him, he could hear the ragged breathing of his equally enchanted friends.

Before Oliver's eyes, the Sorting Hat burst into flame and the next second Neville somehow had a glittering sword clutched in his hand. With a shout, the young man stepped forward and sliced off the head of a large snake that was accompanying the Death Eaters. The crowd that had gathered around the spectacle surged forward, all yelling at once.

You-Know-Who was screaming murderously, and the sound of his anguish broke Oliver's trance like nothing else had. He whipped his wand up to point at the crowd, took careful aim, and...

You-Know-Who looked surprised as the beam of green light came out of nowhere. He fell gracefully, his back arching into the ground, his bone white hands reaching upward one last time. Then the mob of Death Eaters, students, teachers, centaurs and giants converged on him, and Oliver lost sight of the Dark Lord.

But Oliver was confident that Voldemort was in a place no one could retrieve him from.

Chapter 23: The Last Straw
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The Last Straw
by melian
(Gryffindor)



With the battle raging around her, Molly Weasley felt sick. Sick because she had already lost one of her babies – the mangled body of Fred, her Fred, was lying somewhere upstairs, lifeless and cold. Sick because each and every one of her other six children was somewhere in this castle, fighting, possibly having already joined Fred among the casualties without her knowledge. Sick because she had so, so much to lose.



It had been with joy that she had learned that Percy had rejoined the fold – his absence had worn on her heart, his absolute repugnance of everything connected to the Weasley clan one of the hardest things she'd had to bear. Until tonight, that was. The loss of Fred was a pain more than she thought she could bear, and while reuniting with Percy had taken some of the pain off for just a little while, it was with a heavy heart that she saw the rest of her children re-joining the battle. Even Charlie, who she had thought was far away and safe, had been spied hurrying up the drive, eager to fight.



And now, this further heartbreak, with the death of Harry. While not of her blood, she looked on him with as much affection as anyone who wasn't actually his mother could. Seeing Hagrid carry him up from the forest, amongst the victorious Death Eaters, had reduced her to tears, and not just from the reactions of Ron and Ginny. And Hermione, of course. Losing Harry was potentially the one thing that the resistance couldn't survive.



But then chaos had begun, with Voldemort's attempted torture of the Longbottom boy somehow going awry, and Molly felt her husband grab at her arm.



"Where's Harry?" he whispered.



Confused, she looked around. Surely Harry was wherever Hagrid had left him, she thought. It wasn't as though he would have been able to move by himself, was it?



But no. As she searched the area where he should be, she realised Arthur was right. Where WAS Harry? Not anywhere near Hagrid, not being trampled on the ground, not by the pile of bodies she could see by the wall. In fact, their fallen saviour was nowhere to be seen.



"You don't think ..." she began, then stopped. No, that was stupid. Harry couldn't have somehow survived, could he? It was impossible. Yes, he had lived through the killing curse once from Voldemort, but even Harry, charmed life though he seemed to have in some ways, couldn't manage that feat again. And she knew that Voldemort would have used nothing short of Avada Kedavra – he wouldn't have risked Harry surviving yet again.



Arthur was shaking his head. "No, I can't see how he could have lived," he agreed, then pulled his wand out abruptly. "But we're not going to have time to think about it," he went on hurriedly. "Look."



Taking a deep breath and grabbing her own wand, Molly looked grimly at the approaching Death Eaters. They were busy fighting whoever was in their path, including a frightening number of teenagers who had thought they were up to a battle of this magnitude and were quickly learning they weren't. As a mother, Molly hated this, but she couldn't escape the battle. All of her remaining children were fighting, even Ginny who she had strictly forbidden to join in, and she had to make sure that they had as little to do as possible.



Arthur took off to duel a huge, blond Death Eater while Molly found herself battling a dark, sullen-looking man who seemed to take delight in trying to Crucio her. Fortunately from her years of dealing with Fred and George she was well versed in dodging spells, and none of them hit her, though there were a few close calls. Finally she managed to hit him on the chest with a Stunning spell that knocked him over, and she bent over and hit his head on the floor a few times for good measure. Hopefully that would knock him out for a while, she thought, meaning that he would miss the rest of the battle and, if by some miracle they were victorious, the Ministry could deal with him later.



If the Ministry came out of Death Eater control, of course. But she could see Arthur and Percy working together to take down the current Minister, who they all knew was under the Imperius Curse, so it looked like that would be taken care of. Briefly, between battles, her heart swelled with pride. Percy was back and was actively working with his father for good. It was as it should be.



Suddenly, though, she froze. Through the crowds she had seen her daughter, her very own Ginny, battling none other than Bellatrix Lestrange. This was the woman who could defeat Sirius Black – and while she'd had her reservations about Sirius as a person, she'd had the utmost respect for his abilities – and she was fighting GINNY? Yes, Ginny had some support, thanks to Hermione and the Lovegood girl, but Molly couldn't let this continue. She'd already lost Fred and Harry; she couldn't lose Ginny as well.



Forcing her way through the chaos, Molly got within ten feet of the duel when she saw a green flash almost graze Ginny's face. The Killing Curse, against a sixteen year old girl? That was it.



"NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!" Molly yelled over the racket.



Bellatrix turned around and saw her and began to laugh, apparently seeing this short, middle-aged woman as less than a threat.



Molly didn't care. The woman had threatened her daughter, nearly killed her, and she was going to pay. She would not be allowed to get away with that. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned? Nay, like a MOTHER scorned. That was much more formidable.



Pushing the teenagers out of the way, she entered into what had to be the most frenzied duel she had ever participated in. Moving her wand more quickly than she'd even realised was possible, she cast every curse and hex she could think of at the woman, even hitting her occasionally and stopping her in her tracks. Molly herself was also hit once or twice but not by anything that could stop her. She was more determined than she'd ever been in her life. The Lestrange woman had to be defeated. End of story.



She pushed away some more teenagers who seemed to think she needed help. It was almost comical, the way they kept thinking she was helpless. Even as she pushed them away she kept her wand moving quickly, darting spells and curses at her opponent. The stone floor felt hot beneath her feet but she didn't care: this battle was more important than anything. Even if she died trying, she intended to stop Bellatrix Lestrange from casting a Killing Curse at anyone else's child – or her own, again.



The Lestrange woman smiled nastily, an ugly taunt forming on her lips. "What will happen to your children when I've killed you?" she asked. "When Mummy's gone the same way as Freddie?"



That was the last straw. Molly was absolutely determined that this woman would never see the light of another day.



"You – will – never – touch – our – children – again!" she yelled, if anything gaining even more fervour for the fight. Even as her opponent laughed, Molly gritted her teeth and sent one, final curse in Bellatrix's direction.



It worked. The woman froze, realisation on her face, then fell to the ground. Shocked herself, amazed that she had actually fought like that and defeated such an adversary, Molly too froze to the spot, staring at her vanquished foe.



Things seemed to happen in slow motion. The fall of Bellatrix Lestrange, the clattering of the dead woman's wand to the floor, the hushed stares of the onlookers, the scream of Voldemort as his most trusted ally and fighter was defeated. Now it was over, Molly had no idea how it had all happened. All that mattered was that, now, her children were safe from this woman. She had succeeded. She was still a good mother.



And then, suddenly, Molly was brought back to reality by the shout of a Shield Charm, and realised belatedly that it had been placed between her and Voldemort himself. Surely he hadn't tried to kill her? Her, Molly Weasley, who had never even fought a proper duel before tonight? It was almost unheard of.



But what grabbed her attention most of all was the person who had cast the Shield Charm. Like everyone else in the room, her eyes were drawn to a tall, slight figure, with black tousled hair and glasses, pointing his wand determinedly at Voldemort.



Harry. Harry was alive. It was impossible, but it had to be true – she could see him herself, living, breathing, fighting, eyes fixed on the Dark Wizard who had, until then, been winning the battle.



Amid the stifled cheers, Molly found herself again and faded into the crowd, watching the duel that was about to take place. While realistically she knew that Harry had little chance against someone like Voldemort, the fact that he was even there, alive, was enough to warm her heart. There was still some hope left.

--------------------------

Disclaimer: Text in bold is dialogue taken directly from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows", pp 589-590, UK paperback edition.

Thanks to ericajen for her great job beta-ing this story.


Chapter 24: Composure
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Composure
by SereneChaos
(Hufflepuff)



Minerva wanted to scream. She wanted to bellow and cry and lash out with every bit of pent up anger she had stored up against the man since Dumbledore's death. Instead, she coolly parried all of Severus' questions with some of her own, hoping to Merlin that Severus didn't walk into Potter under the invisibility cloak beside her.



"Have you seen Harry Potter, Minerva? Because if you have, I must insist—"*



Severus was too close.



Minerva slashed her wand in the air, hoping Potter would take the hint and run while she distracted Severus. She knew she should have expected retaliation from Severus, but was nonetheless surprised with the force of his shield charm and she teetered off balance.



Minerva was furious. Dumbledore had trusted this man—she had trusted him! She had taught Severus as a boy, had awarded him house points for good behavior and taken house points for bad.



Minerva's wand seemed to act of its own accord as she whipped a rope of fire through the air.



When Severus had first joined the staff at Hogwarts, it was she who had trusted him first. It was she who had, despite the House rivalry, formed a respectful friendship with him. She and Severus were leaders amongst the other professors—Dumbledore's first and second lieutenants.



Her rope of fire was now a black snake. Minerva caught Severus' gaze and with a flick of her wand, the snake dissolved in a swirl of heavy black smoke.



He killed Albus. After all that Dumbledore had done for him, after he had forgiven him for his sins, after he had defended him in court, after he had given him a job when no one else would have touched the Death Eater scum…



Severus killed Dumbledore.



Minerva's rage was uncontrollable. She could feel her blood pulsing under her old, wrinkled skin. She could hear her rage rushing in her ears. She would kill him; she would lose all control and kill Severus Snape.



With an angry swish of her wand, the smoke leftover from the snake transformed into daggers. Minerva's eyes met Severus' once again and cold hatred filled every muscle; it fueled the jabbing motion of her wand as the daggers aimed for Severus' chest.



There was the painful sound of metal scratching against metal as Severus hid behind a suit of armor. Minerva raised her wand again; unthinkable spells forming in her mind when Filius' high pitched voice came from behind her. It sounded distant to her and Minerva hesitated. Filius was saying something, yelling something about murder.



Minerva's wand trembled in her hand as she watched the suit of armor reach for Severus. She was no murderer.



Severus escaped the suit of armor and ran into an empty classroom. Minerva ran after him, wand at the ready, but Severus cast a fleeting glance back at her and jumped out the window.



"Coward! COWARD!"** She cried, rushing towards the window sill, anger hurtling back towards her as she watched Severus fly away.



Minerva wanted to scream. Severus hadn't even had the courage to fight back. Minerva wanted to jump after him, hex him into oblivion, make him tell her that her respect had not been poorly placed, that he had been on their side all along, that Dumbledore wasn't really dead, that this was all a bad dream…



Minerva willed herself to stop shaking as she turned and saw the other Heads, Potter, and Lovegood looking at her expectantly. Composure started to seep back into Minerva's veins—her duty as Dumbledore's first lieutenant returned.



Responsibility for those around her gave Minerva the strength to form a plan and give Pomona and Filius their orders. Minerva's eyes met Horace's worried face coldly. Here was another Slytherin colleague. Someone, who despite his bumbling, was a worthy potions maker and respectable man. With every ounce of composure left in her, she heard herself telling him—"We duel to kill."***

---
A/N
* Pg 598 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows--US Edition
**Pg 599 DH--US ed.
***Pg 602 DH--US ed.


Chapter 25: My Other Half
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My Other Half
by almonster
(Slytherin)


I wasn’t there but I knew exactly when it happened. I felt it deep down. I needed to stop what I was doing, I had to find him, be next to him. See him laughing so I would know it wasn’t true.

“Stupefy!” My spell hit its target and I turn and fled. I had to get back into the castle to see him, my brother. My twin. The tears streamed down my face but I ignored them as I ran up the main staircase. I just ran, up stairs and down some, I had no idea where I was headed but somehow I felt it was the right way. I ran until I saw…

No. No it can’t be. Percy was there, standing over him, protecting him like a big brother should. It can’t be though. I’m sure in a minute he’ll sit up with a big smile on his face laughing at how dumb we all are that we fell for his joke. Yeah… yeah and good ol’ Perce is in on it too.

I let a small laugh escape, a smile just barely on my lips. But as I walked nearer, I wondered why I still felt a gaping hole in my heart. It was just a joke after all… right? Percy looked up, his wand drawn and automatically pointed at my approaching figure until he realized it was me. And then he broke down. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Percy cry…

“Perce, its ok, jokes on me. Good one by the way, I’m surprised he got you to… to play… along…” I stopped dead. I saw him; he was just laying there, his eyes staring lifelessly at the ceiling. His last smile still etched on his face. No. I won’t accept this. He can’t be dead. He can’t. He’s my partner, my other half, my better half. We’ve been together since before we were born. Percy enveloped me in a hug. It wasn’t fair that I was now alone. I can’t be alone; I don’t know how to be without him.

Angry tears fell from my eyes but I couldn’t leave, not now. I should have been by his side this whole time. I refuse to leave him and admit that he’s gone. I dropped to my knees next to him as Percy ran away after a Death Eater that he had seen chasing some other kids.

The battle was raging around us but I acknowledged none of it. And then the sounds of fighting ceased. A high, cold voice spoke but I didn’t process the words. I had closed his eyes; he seemed more peaceful that way.

I felt a hand on my shoulder and looked up not caring if it was a Death Eater…

Percy helped me to my feet. Dad and Bill were there too, both looking grim, both with unshed tears just waiting to spill. Together we made our way to the Great Hall. The place we graced with so many of our pranks and so much of our laughter, now a place filled with unbearable sadness. Dad and Bill placed him in the center of the Hall. I saw Lupin and Tonks on the ground next to him. As soon as Bill and Dad stepped back Mum was there, lying across him, her sobs echoed in many others around us. I dropped to my knees once more, sitting at his head. As I looked at him, realizing I would only ever see him breathe again in my reflection, only one thing went through my mind…

Fred.

Chapter 26: The Call of Duty?
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The Call of Duty?
by tgfoy
(Gryffindor)





He was exhausted, but they would not leave him alone to rest. I wished that they would, but they were all so caught up in celebrating his victory they could not see his need, his discomfort of all attention. He had never liked hero worship, I could tell that about him even from the first time I saw him, even though I had not particularly liked him then. Nor had I taken the time to get to know him then, it was not my concern then, not until his God father’s death, anyway.

The crowd surrounding him were not his friends, but they had fought alongside each other and they all wanted a piece of him, to say they had been with him this day. Less than an hour ago they had believed him dead, only I knew he wasn't. I alone could feel that he lived. Yes, I knew his soul had been caught between this life and the next - I felt it. I also felt a soul depart him totally. I had felt his soul pull itself back to this existence and knew it was different than before - it was like a mask had been removed and he was now wholly himself, nothing more and nothing less.

Still, as he was carried to the castle and they were all summoned out to see his body, even as they protested the truth of it, only I knew it to be a lie and I prepared. I knew the battle would resume, knew I would be part of it, to help him even though he would not call for it. It was simply the right thing to do. I gathered the others of my kind who were in the school and they eagerly agreed. They hurriedly gathered any weapon they could find, just as it had been in the days the castle was built.

I felt his brief excitement as I heard a crowd approaching outside and the battle resumed. I knew he had concealed himself with the cloak and that thrill had been because his plan had worked so far. We charged up the stairs as the battle entered the school.

Of them all, I was the odd one out, I was bound to a wizard, not this castle. Still, we charged up to the fight to protect the school and our world. I wore the locket he had given me; it swung freely as we ploughed into the grown witches and wizards fighting in the entrance, the Dark Ones being pushed back by the crowd and the centaurs.

There we were alongside witches and wizards, powerful creatures and students all fighting side by side as equals. We were attacking any we could reach, stabbing and clubbing, the Dark Ones shocked that we dared to injure, even kill them.  I saw spells appearing from nowhere. That was him, he was under his cloak, I realised he was choosing the time to reveal himself, using his supposed death to our advantage. I fought to head towards him, to protect him as the battle burst into the Great Hall.

I saw the tall, pale-skinned, bald figure of the Dark Lord and a chill went down my spine. This was not the first time I had seen him, nor was it the closest I had been to him, but this time would be different. This time I would not have to follow his orders, this time I would not have to watch my bonded die. This time my duty was not clouded by orders; I had none. I was doing what I knew was right, I overcame my fear of Riddle, knowing my bonded one would go where the Dark one was, I followed him into the Great Hall.

My friends continued to fight, I saw one die at the hands of a Dark Follower and screamed in rage as I leapt at the wizard. He looked up at me, his eyes widened in shock just as my knife pierced his throat and I landed on his chest. The force of my landing knocked him backwards and I released my hold of the blade that was stuck where it had entered and rolled off him as he hit the floor. My army continued to fight the looks of shocked amazement on the Dark Ones faces as we attacked might have been amusing at another time.

I looked round for another weapon and spotted the Weasley matriarch kill one of the last of my old family, I nearly reacted in rage until I remembered my loyalty was now elsewhere, it was in that moment I fully realised I was free of them and my heart sang for joy as I remembered the kindness of my bound one.

It was at that moment that a silence fell and a shield went up, separating us from the Dark Lord and one other. The other figure had his back to me as the two began circling, Riddle seemingly recovering his composure from a shock, he started to taunt the other. Like everyone else, I froze to the spot, watching the two as they prepared to for the inevitable dual, their slow pacing brought the other’s face into view. My instincts went into overdrive. I desperately looked for a way to get past the shield to protect him, but there was no way in.

His eyes glanced in my direction, but did not fall on me, rather the person next to me. I looked up and gasped, my senses sang, it was her, she may not know it yet, but I was certain, this was his soul mate. I found myself hoping she knew, I did, but then my kind could always sense this kind of thing. I watched her carefully as she nervously nibbled her lips, her eyes betraying her love for the man facing the Dark Lord alone. If the inevitable duel ended badly for us then I would protect her, or die trying.

Suddenly, the two stopped circling and cast a spell, I couldn't believe my ears, he had cast Expelliarmus against the Killing curse. For a moment, my heart sank. The two spells met, the green one deflected back to Riddle. The Dark Lord’s wand flew into the air as he was hit by his own spell.

That moment was a strangely beautiful sight as elements conspired to create an almost surreal view. All present seemed to hold their breath, whether for the same reason or not I may never know, but for me the memory of the death of Tom Riddle will always be an aesthetically amazing moment. The Spell struck just as the rising sun illuminated my bonded, causing him to appear to glow, his outstretched hand grasping the wand expertly as it completed its graceful arc from the Dark Lord. Riddle, with shock on his face, fell backwards and into the shadows as his lifeless body crumpled in on itself, then struck the wall. 

My Master stood, looking placidly at the wand in his hand, shrouded in a halo of the early dawn light, oblivious to the image we saw. There was a moment of silence as the shield fell, then a loud cheer rang out as many ran forward to congratulate my Master. Quickly, he was hoisted onto shoulders as the crowd celebrated.

Others surrounded any Death Eaters they could, though some did escape, it was then I saw the wand close to the floor pointing at his soul mate. The spell left its tip. With a yell, I erected my shield to protect the red-haired mate of my Master and the spell bounced harmlessly into the air. Another wizard grabbed the wand and knelt on the hand that had held it whilst I bound the injured Death Eater who had tried to harm her. I looked round, she hadn't noticed, she only had eyes for him. I smiled, she would never know and that’s as it should be. The wizard who held the Death Eater looked at me and nodded. I bowed back and he dragged the captured one away.

The celebrations were tough on my Master. As I said, he hated the attention, but his soul mate found them much tougher. She could get nowhere near him, though she was desperate to get to him. I saw their eyes meet once, both sets filled with longing before the crow dragged him off again. Later, as things began to calm and he had finally managed to gain a seat, I saw her try to pick her way across the hall to him.

Suddenly the blonde girl next to him stood up and yelled pointing towards the ceiling, everyone in the hall looked where she pointed, when we looked back he was gone. His soul mate almost screamed in frustration then sought out her brother, whom she knew was close to my Master, but he and the bushy haired witch were leaving the hall. She sighed and returned to the bench with her parents.

It was over an hour later when he called me. I had begun to wonder if it would ever come. I gladly took him some food to his bedside in Gryffindor Tower. After a while, I sensed him fall asleep and went to leave clean clothes and clear up the remains of the meal. As I collected the empty plate, the door to the room slowly opened. I hid, if this was an attacker there was no need to make my presence know until I was needed.

I need not have worried - it was his soul mate. She climbed on the bed next to him, careful not to disturb him, and lay stroking his hair. Others entered the room and climbed into the other beds, her brother and mother both tried to persuade her to move to a different room, she simply waved them away, her father finally told them to leave her. As he said it, my Master’s arm reached up protectively round her shoulders, though he slept on. She smiled as they left the room and her brother climbed onto a bed with the bushy haired witch, his mother frowning and about to protest again when her husband simply dragged her from the room. I waited, still hidden, until the sound of people sleeping filled the air. Quietly, I crept out. She was still awake, but did not notice me.

Quietly, I placed a sleeping charm on her; she needed rest too. As she drifted into sleep I assured her, “Don't worry, Mistress, I will watch over you both. No harm will come to you or Harry Potter whilst you sleep. Kreacher will make sure of that.”

Chapter 27: Disgrace
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Disgrace
by lilausty
(Gryffindor)




Pain-filled shrieks filled the air as a small boy writhed in pain under the wand of a black-haired witch. A manic laugh burst forth from her throat as her eyes glinted in the starlight.



“Please! No more! I beg of you please STOP!” the child begged.



Sneering at the broken boy Bellatrix lifted the curse and knelt by him, her hands gently caressing his face, “Little boy, what did you truly think would happen? Crossing wands with those trained by the master?” As he shuddered under her touch she stroked his cheek, moving her hand so that it held the back of his head.



“P-p-please! I-I’m sorry, please don’t hurt me!”



“Shhhhh” she whispered, placing her finger to his lips and leaning down close, “I won’t hurt you.” She stared at him for a moment until his whimpering softened before viciously snapping her hand backward.



She smiled in satisfaction at the crack that filled the air and she stood up, gazing dispassionately at the dead student. Kicking him aside she sneered, “Fool.”



Gazing at the battlefield surrounding her, Bellatrix found herself subconsciously looking for a single woman, the same woman whom she had sworn to kill. But no bright pink hair caught her eye and Bellatrix set off towards the nearest duel, interposing herself and easily overpowering the two children fighting against the masked Death Eater.



Holding both under the cruciatus curse she jerked her head back towards the main fray, indicating that the Death Eater should go and make himself useful. There was a slight groan before he snapped, “Don’t enjoy yourself too much Lestrange! Though I suppose children are all you can take.” He dodged away before she could give him more than a snarl.



Fury at his disrespect Bellatrix almost left the two children alone merely to go and show him what she could truly handle, but seeing him disappear into the crowd she merely narrowed her eyes and turned back to the children.



While she did not know how long the battle had been going on, nor the number of enemies that she had killed, Bellatrix was aware that a growing fury was burning its way through her body. The yearning desire to destroy the little wench who had dirtied her family’s blood.



Looking around once again she felt her mouth twist into a vicious grin. It was obvious her master was watching over her, for there she was, back to back with the French Veela girl.



Her pace quickening with excitement, Bellatrix watched as the two broke out of the circle attacking them and finish off the Death Eaters before turning back to the main fray. The glee that she felt, knowing that her revenge was at hand, escaped from Bellatrix and a cackle rose from her throat.



Seeing the two woman halt, she cast a severing curse at the Veela woman, hoping to take her out quickly so that she could focus her efforts on the pink-haired werewolf lover. However, the auror was obviously aware of her surroundings and intercepted the curse, giving the Veela woman time to turn around.



Returning the glares, Bellatrix watched in amusement as the two women started to try and flank her. Not intending on being out manoeuvred Bellatrix gave the summoning call devised to bring the nearest Death Eaters to her aid.



Instantly she felt the presence of five of her comrades at her back and she felt herself grin. Not having any interest in the beautiful woman, but knowing that the Death Eaters definitely would, she gestured for them to have their fun, at the same time deflecting a curse that the other wench threw at her.



Whirling to face her Bellatrix laughed openly at the aggressive stance that Tonks displayed. Snapping her wand forward the black-haired witch rapidly shot out four curses, all of which her enemy dodged.



Blocking the return fire, Bellatrix sneered, “you are weak, do you honestly think that you can defeat me? Do you truly believe that you will be seeing that hideous monster you call a husband or that freak son of yours?”



Her pulse quickened with satisfaction at the furious snarl that escaped Tonks’ throat and she threw herself into the duel. Though she had to grudgingly admit that the girl did have some power, her reluctance to use it merely proved to Bellatrix that the pink-haired witch deserved nothing more than to be put in the grave.



Whipping her wand back and forth, she conjured a whip of air and hurled it at Tonks who was not quick enough to avoid it. The whip curled around her torso and Bellatrix let herself cackle as she pulled it back, tossing Tonks around like a piece of fluff in a summer storm.



A few pain-filled cries reached her ears and she fed on them, feeling herself grow excited with the thought of fulfilling her revenge. Slamming Tonks into a wall, Bellatrix released the spell, eyeing the pink-haired witch calculatingly as she shakily raised her wand.



The spell that came out of Tonk’s wand was almost in slow motion it was cast so slowly and Bellatrix nearly rolled her eyes as she batted the curse away before once again encircling Tonks with the whip of air and hurling her to the ground.



There was a loud and a scream broke free from the young Auror’s throat as she clutched her arm to her body. Bellatrix lowered her wand and gestured for the fallen woman to get to her feet. Sneering at the pathetic effort that the pink-haired woman made as she struggled to stand up, Bellatrix stalked closer.



Eyeing the shaking woman, Bellatrix taunted, “such a weak little thing aren’t you? I guess that’s what happens when pure blood is dirtied. You should be thanking me for helping our people by pruning the family tree. Don’t worry, your son and husband will join you soon enough.”



Tonks snapped back, her voice hoarse with pain “up yours you psychotic bitch! You’ll be dead before sunrise!”



Merely raising her wand in response to the woman’s pointless defiance Bellatrix focused her disgust and hatred through her arm, her voice almost lovingly whispering the killing curse. The jet of green light that burst from her wand illuminated Tonk’s composed yet pain filled face and with muted delight Bellatrix watched her fall, to be embraced by the screaming Veela woman.



Shaking her head she turned away “such a disgrace.”

Chapter 28: Grey No More
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Grey No More
by queen_luna
(Ravenclaw)


She stared after the bespectacled, messy-haired boy in bewilderment as he dashed away from her down the corridor, thus concluding their bizarre discourse. A strange feeling she could not clearly define—an immense annoyance to her logical mind—had suddenly welled up in her ghostly soul. She drew her cloak about her and, turning around, started to float away again, back to her place of refuge, where she could hear the sounds of the impending battle from afar, safe and hidden from all who might wish to seek her . . . .

She halted once more. The recent retelling of her tragic tale had left her feeling ill at ease, as it always did. She was not proud of her past, no, not at all, and to make matters worse she felt as though there was nothing she could do to redeem herself. After all, she was only a ghost. What could she do?

A much too familiar figure clad in bloodied robes and bound by rattling chains suddenly appeared through the stone wall, interrupting her thoughts. As it was too late to make a quick escape, Helena instinctively drew herself up to full height, with her chin raised haughtily in the air.

Silence fell thickly upon the two ghosts. The nervous chatter of the evacuating students had faded to nothing more than a murmur, with the occasional shout or cry. At last, realizing that they were alone together, the Baron felt obliged to speak, something he almost never did. But this was Helena Ravenclaw after all, and despite their past he would always hold a soft spot in his heart for her.

“Miss Ravenclaw,” he said cordially enough, with a slight bow.

Helena raised an eyebrow upon hearing his polite address, but did not condescend herself to return the favor. The Baron knew it was a lost cause, and drifted back where he came from, grim and silent once more.

The feeling of unease grew, and Helena became even more uncertain than ever as to what she ought to do, if she should even do anything at all. And so, she glided towards her sanctuary as quickly as she could.

Through the wooden door, past the marble statue which she pointedly ignored, and up the winding spiral staircase Helena went. She passed all the dormitory doors, which had been thrown open hastily, revealing the messy beds that all the young Ravenclaws had been peacefully slumbering in less than an hour ago. She felt a pang in her chest as she realized that not all of them would return after tonight. She nearly stopped herself again, but forced herself to keep going, and in a matter of moments she had reached her destination: the empty attic-like room atop the Ravenclaw tower, once accessible by students through a rusty trapdoor that refused to open anymore. It used to be a shrine of sorts, meant to honor the intelligent and beautiful Rowena Ravenclaw after her death, but it had since become a dusty gathering place for random objects and trinkets. Whenever Helena sought solitude, here she would come. Not a soul could bother her here . . . except for the large portrait of Rowena that hung on the wall.

She did not know why, but there was something about that room that made her feel at peace, even though she was in the presence of the mother she had betrayed.

Helena gazed at that portrait now, trying to sort out her muddled thoughts. Rowena was asleep, as she always was. Helena could not remember a time when her mother had been awake. She knew that the older the subject of the portrait, the less active said subject would be. But she could not help but wonder if her mother simply refused to see her. If that were the case, Helena could not blame her, and her heart was heavy with guilt and remorse.

Tonight, however, something felt different. An explosion sounded somewhere far away on the battlefield, and Rowena chose this moment to open her eyes, and she found herself looking straight at her daughter.

After a silent moment or two, Helena chose to speak first. “Mother,” she said simply, her voice and countenance betraying no emotion even now, after all these years.

“My dear, dear daughter,” Rowena returned, the corners of her lips turning upward to form a small, sad smile. More explosions sounded in the distance. “The battle has begun, has it not?”

Helena nodded, not knowing how her mother knew, and said nothing. Instead she focused her attentions on a rather ugly old bust of Wilhelmina the Wise.

“And here you are, hiding once more.” Rowena’s voice was not the least bit accusatory, but there was some hint of disappointment.

At this, Helena looked up and gazed at her mother sharply. “Hiding?” she repeated.

“My dear, you know more than yourself that you always choose to hide when faced with the chance to do the right thing.”

“That’s not true!” cried Helena, though in her heart she knew it was. Try as she might, she could never be wiser than Rowena Ravenclaw.

“For as long as you sit here in this dusty room with me, it will be,” said Rowena, her smile disappearing. She closed her eyes, feigning sleep once more.

Helena took this moment to think the situation over in her head. Various thoughts swirled around in her head, confusing her. She had always relied on logic to get by, and somehow logic always told her that in situations like these, it would be most advantageous to stay out of the way. For instance, she argued with herself, just look at what happened to Sir Nicholas a few years ago! As reckless as he was in his youth, he had decided to go investigate the monster that had been turning hapless victims into stone, and had thus become a victim himself. But, a tiny voice in her head interjected, didn’t he save that boy by simply being there? That is true, she allowed. The Hufflepuff would have been dead in an instant if it weren’t for Sir Nicholas’s interference. And, the little voice added, wouldn’t this be an opportune moment for redemption? By doing a good deed tonight, you could at least begin to put to rest all your demons. At this, her decision was made in an instant. A plan quickly formed in her head. She rose into the air, ready to put it into action.

“Where are you going?” Rowena called after her departing daughter, for she had been peeking through her halfway-closed eyes the entire time.

Helena turned around, a determined look on her face. “To call the ghost council to order,” she answered. “It is time for us to cease standing still and fight back.” Then she turned around once more to leave, but not before her mother’s faint words reached her ears.

“I have always been proud of you, Helena, and I always will be.”



A small collection of ghosts had assembled before her, and they waited for her to speak. She wasted no words and proceeded straight to the point.

“We must form a coalition and fight!” said Helena loudly, surprising them all, including herself with her fiery spirit. “We may be mere ghosts, but we can certainly impose some amount of damage on the enemy if we only join together. Additionally, we are difficult to see and they cannot harm us. Sir Nicholas, the Fat Friar, Professor Binns . . . even that weeping girl who lives in the toilet—” here she could not help but shudder in disgust “—and that poltergeist, Peeves! We can do it; I just know we can!”

Sir Nicholas was inspired by this speech, and being a Gryffindor, instantly voiced his agreement. “I say we drive those barbaric invaders out of this castle right this moment!” And he rose up in the air, ready to take off in the direction of battle.

The Fat Friar was a tiny bit reluctant, as he preferred more peaceful methods, but he soon swore his allegiance to the cause as well. Professor Binns hardly knew what was happening around him, but was willing to go with the majority. Moaning Myrtle and Peeves were quickly found, along with a dozen other ghostly beings, and soon they had formed an army of their own.

Helena had been thinking about how they could inflict damage on mortal beings and, with her sharp wit, quickly came up with a plan of attack. They would divide ranks and scatter themselves among the enemy, using fear as their primary tactic. In the dead of the night, there were few things more frightening than spirits swooping down on you and whispering all sorts of things in your ear, all the while making you feel chilled to the bone. In essence, the ghosts would use their strengths to distract the enemy so that their mortal allies would have an advantage.

Peeves was left to his own devices, as he was a not a true ghost and could do far more—all he needed was the slightest bit of encouragement from the ghosts, and off he went, wreaking all sorts of havoc upon the Death Eaters. However, just as they were about to set off on their mission, Helena stopped.

“Someone is missing among our ranks,” she said, gazing about her.

Sir Nicholas stopped too. “Who?” he asked.

“The Baron,” she said. “And we could sorely use his help.”

She heard the rattle of his chains before anything else, and turned around to see him gliding towards them.

“I am always glad to be of service to you, Miss Ravenclaw,” he said in a low voice, so that only she could hear. To the other ghosts, he simply nodded.

The wound in her chest pained her for just a moment, but then she managed a smile. “Shall we?” she said, addressing her ghostly comrades.

“We shall!” cried the ghosts, and together they swarmed into the night air, ready to aid in the defense of their beloved castle. Several students caught sight of them as they flew overhead and let out a rallying cry. The Death Eaters dueling them looked up, startled, only to stagger backwards as the ghosts swooped through them, and the students leaped at this opportunity to go on the offensive.

As Helena soared into the sky in search of another enemy, she felt lighter than ever, like a great weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She knew that for once, she was doing what was right rather than what was easy—an aphorism she had once heard a very wise man say. And because of that, she realized that although she might remain a pearly white ghost for the rest of time, inside she would be grey no more.

...

Author's Note: A quick thank you to my beta, long_live_luna_bellatrix!

Chapter 29: Snake Mother
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Snake Mother
by SereneChaos
(Hufflepuff)


"Draco! Draco!" A misfired stunning spell singed the ends of Narcissa's hair as she raced up the stairs of the Entry Hall, one hand clinging to Lucius and the other clutching a wand. Narcissa didn't want to think about the wand's original owner—she preferred to consider it 'borrowed'.



"Draco!" Her voice struggled to find its way above the screams and blasts. The Potter boy said he was alive, but where?



"Protego!" Narcissa stumbled as she was yanked backwards by Lucius, who now stood where she had been moments before, deflecting a purple hex that sizzled as it dissipated across the shield. Narcissa met Lucius' eyes once as he turned to pull her back to her feet before the pair continued to run down the hall, calling for their son.



Where is he? Where is he? Where is he?



"Malfoy!" A familiar voice bellowed and Lucius and Narcissa whirled around. Anthony Crabbe stood there, wand pointed at Narcissa. "Traitorous bitch!" He yelled, whipping his wand in the air. A sharp beam of yellow light flew towards Narcissa and would have hit her square in the chest if Lucius hadn't pulled her away at the last moment.



"I saw him! Potter is alive, you liar!" Lucius pushed Narcissa back and deflected Crabbe's next hex.



"We're on the same side, Crabbe, there's no time for this." Lucius said coldly. One of his hands still gripped Narcissa's tightly and she could feel his fear. "You saw him, Potter is dead."



"No he is not! He's under an invisibility cloak, it slipped off and I saw him! He's alive and my son is dead!" A whiplike rope of red light caught Lucius on the arm as Narcissa stared in shock and horror at the squat man's words.



Lucius winced and gripped his arm in pain before shoving Narcissa away from him.



"He's dead, he's dead! I saw Goyle's boy and he told me my son is dead! I'm going to kill you, bitch!" The red whip whirled towards Narcissa and grazed her shoulder.



Narcissa didn't even feel the pain. All she could think of was that if Crabbe's son was dead hers might be too. The thoughts of Draco's cold, dead eyes staring blankly at the ceiling, of dust settling on his cold body, of feet trampling over his limp form overwhelmed and paralyzed the woman. The red whip aimed towards Narcissa again.



"Protego!" Lucius was in front of her again, this time firing hexes back at Crabbe. "Narcissa, go! I'll handle him, but run! Find Draco!"



At the sound of her son's name, Narcissa's mind snapped back to reality. Lucius and Crabbe threw their worst hexes at each other, the violent colors clashing in midair. A flash of green light hit the tapestry next to Lucius and as he spun to fire a curse back at Crabbe, Narcissa could see the fear in his eyes grow when he realized she was still standing behind him.



"Run!"



And then Narcissa was running as fast as she could. Crabbe's son is dead…Crabbe's son is dead…but Draco isn't.



"DRACO!" She yelled as loudly as she could, looking feverishly for a shock of blonde hair. She would know if he was dead, she reasoned, as she ducked a crumbling stone archway. She would feel it in her heart, like all mothers do. There was another flight of stairs and Narcissa took it, two steps at a time, screaming her son's name.



Left or right? Right or left? The battle was quieter on this floor, but she could still hear the sounds of curses echoing down the halls. Left.



Narcissa ran down the corridor, watching as smaller pairs battled it out, students against adults, adults against adults, one blonde boy cowering from a tall man in dark robes…



"No, I'm a Malfoy, no!" The boy cried as the man loomed closer. "I'm on your side!"



Narcissa had always been an observer. She had observed the murders of muggleborns, had observed the painful torture of her husband by none other than her older sister, and had observed the supposed passing of the legendary Harry Potter. She would not stand and observe this.



The thought process ran through Narcissa's head so quickly that she didn't even register that she had thought of it.



"No!" She screeched and launched herself in front of her son. She pointed her wand dangerously at the man. "Back!" She cried, blue eyes meeting the hardened brown eyes of Draco's would-be assailant. Narcissa lowered her wand in confusion. "Andrew? Wha—what are you doing?"



Travers leered at her. "I saw him with Potter earlier. Your little boy's a traitor." Travers took another step towards Narcissa and Draco.



"No, I swear, I'm not with Potter! I'm on your side! I'm on your side!" Draco pleaded and clutched the back of his mother's robes fearfully. Narcissa bristled and raised her wand again. "Stand down, Andrew."



Travers chuckled. "Do you think your brave façade is really that convincing, Narcissa?" He stepped closer still. "You were always the weak sister, so pretty but so weak." He jerked his head to the side. "Too pretty to kill, so move aside so I can properly punish your naughty boy."



Narcissa took a step back. "No." She said, trying to keep the fear from her voice. Narcissa had never been good at dueling.



Travers laughed softly. "Very well then. It's too bad though, with Lucius out of the way, there are plenty of things I would have loved to do to—"



Narcissa attacked, a streak of orange light just missing Travers' wand hand. Travers growled and hurled a hex towards Narcissa, who countered with her own. Narcissa's mind scrambled to remember all those spells Bella had tried, seemingly fruitlessly, to teach her so long ago.



Oomph.



Narcissa was blown backwards and slammed against a wall, her borrowed wand knocked from her hands.



And then everything was spinning, and Narcissa was trying to stand up, and Narcissa had no balance, and Travers was raising his wand, and Draco's pale face was coming towards her, and Narcissa was on her feet again, and Narcissa had no wand…



And then Travers fell.



Arthur Weasley stepped from behind Travers' limp form, deliberately crunching down on the man's dropped wand. Never in her life had Narcissa seen Weasley look so murderous. The man raised his wand again and immediately Narcissa was in front of Draco. She could have sworn she saw something flicker in the red head's eyes as he took in the cowering pair. Weasley opened his mouth to say something when they heard a crash and a yell down the hall. In an instant Weasley's face changed from one of contempt to worry as he turned and sprinted towards the commotion.



Narcissa turned to towards Draco and before she knew it, her son's arms were wrapped so tightly around her waist, Narcissa could hardly breathe. She hugged him back all the tighter, not caring about any of their surroundings until the floor started to shake, the word "HAGGER" echoing from all sides.



"We have to leave." Narcissa said firmly. Travers' words finally started to sink in.



With Lucius out of the way…



Narcissa shuddered and spotted her wand. Picking it up, she grabbed one of Draco's hands. "We need to find your father and get out of here." The floor shook again. With the very-much-alive weight of Draco's hand in hers, Narcissa felt a new wave of determination wash over her.



She'd be damned if she couldn't keep her family together.

Chapter 30: The Gift
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The Gift
by theelderwand
(Gryffindor)




AN: Part of the "Chidlren's Crusade" Universe.

Harry sat alone at the kitchen table of the Burrow as the clock struck three and a heavy snow began to blanket the orchard in white. The Weasley family home was deathly silent. Upstairs, his wife was still sleeping soundly, as was the rest of the house. In a few hours, that would change. All of the Weasleys, the Grangers and Andromeda and Teddy would be gathering for what had become a new tradition in the five years since the Battle of Hogwarts ended: Christmas at the Burrow.

The Potters and a newly-married Ron and Hermione decided to stay over on Christmas Eve for old times' sake, rather than flooing over on Christmas morning. It had been a while since the Quartet had been together like this, all under one familiar roof.

The day started well enough. That is, until an old friend dropped by with a package for Harry. Unlike the mountain of gifts under the tree in the sitting room, this one came wrapped in simple brown paper. But it wasn't the package that had kept Harry from sleeping; it still lay unopened on the table in front of him.

Harry stirred as he heard someone coming down the stairs. He really didn't want company right now.

Ron, eyes half opened and with a horrible case of bed-head asked sleepily, "What're you still doing up?"

"Couldn't sleep."

Ron cocked an eyebrow at his best mate, then he pulled out a chair and collapsed into it with a grunt. He didn't say anything at first. He could tell that Harry had slid into a first-class brood. Ron thought it was probably best to back into the subject. "Hermione's snoring woke me. Who'd have thought a witch so tiny could make so much noise."

Harry's face broke into a small smile, which was what Ron was hoping for.

"Want to talk about it?" the redhead asked.

Harry was about to say no, then thought better of it. "Hard to dig up the past."

Ron sighed. "Figured Wood's dropping by was for a bit more than to spread the holiday cheer. It was about Colin, wasn't it?"

Harry nodded grimly. For five long years, Oliver Wood had kept his silence, unwilling or unable to tell the tale of how the youngest member of Dumbledore's Army died on that faithful day. All through what was now called "the Month of Mourning," through the funerals and memorials, the tales of those who had passed had slowly, and often painfully, been brought out. But not Colin's. No one was ever sure why, but figured the story was simply too much for Wood to relay.

"He finally told me. And brought me this." Harry motioned to the unopened package.

Ron's head sank. "What happened?"

********************************

Curse and hex fell thick around Oliver Wood. He was bloodied and tiring but the Death Eater onslaught kept coming.

"Shift to the left!" Wood cried over the explosions and carnage. The Death Eaters were moving to flank them. He was in charge of holding a thirty-yard run of stone wall and he only had a handful of Hogwarts students to do it with. The Death Eaters outnumbered his small band by more than three-to-one.

Right and left, Wood shot stunners at the oncoming Death Eaters, hoping, praying that his defenders would be able to hold. Then Trish Yarwood, a sixth year Ravenclaw fell, quickly followed by a Hufflepuff prefect whose name Wood hadn't caught during the all too brief introductions before death began to rain down on his position.

"Take them to Madame Pomfrey!" Wood shouted to another nameless seventh year Ravenclaw. But before anyone could move, a massive Reducto curse rent the air, exploding the wall and sending fragments of stone careening through his young defenders. The blast tossed Wood flat. He was dazed and half deaf as he struggled to his feet. Then he saw the swarm of Acromantulas descending on his stretch of wall.

It proved too much for them; his small band broke and ran. Why didn't McGonagall give me a team of Gryffindors! he cursed.

"Confringo!" A wall of flame spat from Wood's wand, holding the deadly spiders back. His attention on the eight-legged monsters, he didn't see the Expulso hex that Rowle hurled his way.

"Protego!"

The curse was blocked inches from Wood's face. His head snapped around to see who had joined the fight.

"Creevey? You're not supposed to be here!" Wood thundered as the battle raged around them.

"My family's been on the run for the whole year! You think it was easy getting here? I came to fight and that's what I plan to do. Just like Harry," Creevey spat as he cast stunners at the horde of Death Eaters closing on them.

"You're not Harry, you stupid kid!" Wood bellowed as he shielded for Colin. "You're gonna get yourself killed. Get back to the Room of Requirement or I'll…" Wood never finished the sentence as both he and Colin were tossed off their feet by a massive Reducto curse. Wood smacked into the wall, Colin landed behind a woodpile, out of view of the encircling dark wizards.

Try as he might, Wood couldn't stand. The next thing he knew he was being shaken violently by a huge Death Eater.

"This is the one that burned D'Arque!" Rowle snapped as he backhanded the former Gryffindor Keeper. Wood fell to his knees. With a silent flick of his wand, Rowle sent Wood careening across the ground.

"This was him? This pup?" Greyback sneered as he closed on Oliver. "Not worth the effort of taking prisoner." He lowered his wand, preparing to deal the deathblow.

"Expelliarmus!" Colin shouted from behind the pile; caught unawares, Greyback's wand flew from his hand.

"Get him!" the werewolf ordered. Three Death Eater's leveled their wands on Creevey who darted off toward Wood, just as Rowle raised his wand to finish the job that Greyback started.

"Avada Kedavara!"

"Oliver!" Colin shouted as he sprang.

"NO!" Wood cried out in anguish.

But it was no use, Colin timed his leap too well. The green jet of killing magic meant for Wood caught Creevey right between the shoulders. He landed at Oliver's feet, his eyes wide.

"Pest!" Greyback hissed. Then he turned on Wood. "You're next."

Almost in slow motion, Oliver saw the wand point right between his eyes. He didn't flinch, he didn't falter. If this was to be his death, he'd face it defiantly, for Colin if for no other reason. He spat at Greyback's feet.

Before the blow could fall, the air was rent with explosions. Oliver's head snapped around to see Neville Longbottom leading a band of ten students, their wands aflame with curses.

Greyback's shield strained under the onslaught; the impacts blasted him backwards.

Rowle shouted, "Back! Fall back!"

"Hold your positions. Don't pursue!" Neville ordered as his team began to form up behind the wall, shoring up this part of the line. Then he turned to a visibly shaken Oliver Wood. He was cradling Creevey in his arms as the tears silently rolled down his cheeks.

Neville crouched next to his fellow Gryffindors, the fallen and the grieving. "Oliver? Is he…" Neville couldn't finish the question.

"N-nev…will…will you help me…help me…carry him?" Wood choked out.

***********

Ron sat silent, transfixed as Harry finished the tale. The raven-haired wizard managed to remain stoic up to this point, his voice never breaking as he relayed what Wood told him only hours before.

Last year, Harry confided in Ron how he'd never really been able to mourn the losses of their friends. How it was just too much to process, how he'd been too overwhelmed with relief at the prospect of being alive to really deal with the anguish and grief. But Ron could see that something about his best mate seemed different now. Something had changed.

"Mate?" Ron asked gently. "What about the package?"

Harry's watery gaze fell once more to the brown-wrapped parcel on the table. His hands fumbled a bit as he picked it up.

Ron watched him as Harry pondered it, almost as if he were deciding whether it would be better to throw it away without opening it. Then, slowly, Harry began to tear at the paper revealing a small box, which he deftly opened. Turning it on its side, an object wrapped in cloth slid out onto the table.

With a slightly shaking hand, Harry pulled the cloth away, revealing what he feared he'd find: Colin's camera.

"Wood…" Harry bit his lip as Ron rested a comforting hand on his shoulder. "H-he said Colin would want me to have it."

Harry finally lost his battle with the tears.

Fin.

Chapter 31: Until the Coward finds Courage
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Until the Coward finds Courage
by ronhermione4evr
(Gryffindor)



“We’re all going to keep fighting him, Harry. You know that?” I said in a voice that was much braver than I felt at the moment.

And so when Harry left a few moments later, I looked determined on the outside, although on the inside I was a complete train wreck.

I can’t do this. I thought. Oh, Neville, what have you gotten yourself into this time?

I looked around at the room, when I noticed a redheaded group huddled around a dead body.

Fred’s dead body.

Anger surged inside of me. Oh, stop being a coward, I told myself. These people died for a better world, and you’re just sitting here cowering. Well that is going to stop right this instant. I am going to kill Voldemort’s snake, even if it kills me.

I felt new energy coursing through my veins, and an emotion lurked behind my actions: courage. An emotion I had only started feeling recently.

I took off walking across the hall. Since this was the hour Voldemort had given, there was no battle. This was a time to mourn, and I could see people gathered around a row of dead bodies. Among them I could see Colin Creevey, Nymphadora Tonks, and Professor Lupin.

I pushed my way past a group of sobbing girls, and passed the Gryffindor common room. The Fat Lady, who had been screaming in terror only an hour ago, was now singing a sorrowful ballad. I suddenly remembered the phrase “It isn’t over till the Fat Lady sings.”

Yeah? Well she’s singing, and the battle is still coming. Nothing has ended, I thought somberly.

I finally went down the staircase and left the whole building of Hogwarts. The battle had completely broken the magical protection barrier around Hogwarts, so I was free to walk about.

Voldemort is said to keep the snake near him. Where would he be?
And then I looked towards the forest.

The Forbidden Forest? It seemed like a very likely place for him to go. After all, it was forbidden, and as everyone knows, the Dark Lord has probably broken quite a few rules.

I set off toward it holding the sword and my wand close. A twig cracked, and I whirled toward it, only to find Hermione’s ugly cat staring back at me. Crookshanks? Molly Weasley must have brought him from the Burrow. Maybe she hoped he’d be some help.

“Scram.” I whispered to the fluffy orange cat. I didn’t want the Death Eaters to catch me just by finding the cat.

Crookshanks scratched his ear with his foot, and I suddenly had a burst of inspiration.

“You don’t think you can lead me to where they are, can you?” I whispered to Crookshanks.

He turned his head sideways, then got up and started walking towards the Forbidden Forest. At least now I knew that my instinct was correct.

We neared an orange haze in the thick of the forest, and I could make out figures standing around a campfire. Those were definitely Death Eaters, and the one sitting in the silver and green chair must be their leader, that horrible Voldemort.

I crept a little closer to check were Nagini was. She was nowhere near the Dark Lord, which completely puzzled me. I was told that Nagini would be carefully protected, but he was nowhere near anyone.

I was about ready to faint when I heard a hiss from below.

Slowly, I looked down to find a 7-foot-long green snake staring right back up at me.

I whipped out my sword, and backed into a tree. I was still far enough from the campsite, that even if I screamed, no one would be able to hear me.

The snake advanced, and I held out the sword confidently, as I had just remembered all those dead bodies in the Great Hall.

Remember Colin Creevey. He was hardly of age, and yet he found the strength to defend the castle from invasion.

The snake hissed, and I drew the sword in between its green scales. The snake hissed again, but weaker this time, as I had began to penetrate its shield. I struck again.

This time blood poured from the wound, but the snake was not dead, instead, a ghostly figure of my grandmother came out.

“You are no grandson of mine!” she said in a voice that sounded like a knife scratching against metal. “Your parents would have been ashamed to call you their son.” She suddenly started to glow scarlet.

“I can help you, Neville Longbottom. Give me Potter, and you shall have your reward. You can bring your parents back to life. Start life afresh, if only you give me Potter.” This voice was much deeper.

My parents back? I suddenly thought of all those times I had to see them in St. Mungo’s. It wasn’t fair that I had never gotten a chance to be with them, never had a chance for them to tell me that they were proud of me or that they loved me.

It was a very tempting offer. But then I remembered those who had died to protect me.

Remember Professor Lupin and Tonks. They died to protect me and everyone else. They left their only son an orphan, because they died helping us defeat the Dark Lord.

I held up my sword, ready to stab the snake and the ghostly figure of my grandmother. I tried to think of anything but the choice that Voldemort had given me.

Remember Fred Weasley. He was Ron’s brother, and now he’s dead. DEAD! Remember all those days in the Common Room where he and George would joke around. Remember how they turned me into a canary. Remember that Fred Weasley was your FRIEND!

I felt more in control than I had ever felt before. I lifted my hands and the sword, and this time my hands were steady. I brought the sword down on the snake, and after a drawn-out scream, the ghostly figure was no more. It was just a punctured snake ripped into shreds.

I dropped the sword with the clang, and tried to steady my heavy breathing. A horcrux. That was what it was. I had heard Harry, Hermione, and Ron discussing it once when they thought that no one else was there.

I picked up the shredded green snake, what had once been the Dark Lord’s constant companion, and headed towards the castle. We may actually win. I thought, allowing myself only a small smile for my victory. Because forget the phrase about everything being over when the Fat Lady sings. No, today a new phrase can begin, because it isn’t over till the coward finds courage.

*Quotation from page 558, HPatDH, British Edition

Chapter 32: The Inner Eye
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The Inner Eye
by ericajen
(Gryffindor)



“You should go,” Professor Septima Vector told Professor Sybill Trelawney. “It’s going to be very dangerous.”

“I know it is going to be dangerous!” Sybill shot back in a matter-of-fact voice. “I have the power of the Inner Eye!”

“Yes. Yes, of course,” Septima agreed feebly. “However, when it comes to dueling--”

“You have not seen what I’ve seen!” Sybill interrupted loudly, gesturing wildly with her arms, as if trying to make a circumference of the world.

Septima’s argument was lost on Sybill. She would not hear of leaving Hogwarts! It was her home! Besides, she had the force of the Inner Eye on her side. Did the others not see the great advantage of such an enormous gift?

The Arithmancy Professor was about to open her mouth to continue her attempt at the impossible task of convincing the stubborn Sybill Trelawney to leave Hogwarts while it was still possible, but Sybill spoke first.

“I must go fetch my crystal balls!” she announced and walked away.

“Your classroom is that way,” Septima told her and pointed in the opposite direction that Sybill was moving. She was beginning to get exasperated with the Divination Professor.

“Of course,” Sybill replied as if she knew that all along and she began to walk in the correct direction to her classroom.

“What are crystal balls going to help, anyway?” Septima called after her, in a last ditch attempt to make her leave before she got seriously hurt.

“It’s the Inner Eye!” was all Sybill called over her shoulder in response.

As the battle began, Septima had no choice but to focus on other things than where Sybill was and what she was doing. Hopefully, she was cooped up in her room peering into crystal balls and trying to figure out whom all would die that night.

But Septima didn’t know that Sybill was onto something with those crystal balls.

A while later, when the battle was in full swing and there were duels littering every square inch of the Entrance hall and Main staircases of Hogwarts, Sybill took position at the top of a marble staircase overlooking the Entrance Hall. She brought a huge bag of crystal balls with her. She armed herself with a crystal ball in one hand and her wand in the other.

Her eyes may not have been the best, but she scanned the Entrance Hall for targets as well as she could. It was hard to pick one out amongst the flurry and chaos. Aiming, especially at further distances, would be a problem since the duelers were constantly moving and weaving through each other.

She caught sight of an ugly, ferocious looking werewolf speeding across the Hall. She searched for what might be its target and saw something that she simply would not stand for.

Lavender Brown. Her star pupil.

The nasty werewolf sunk its teeth into Lavender’s leg. Someone screamed and sent a spell at the werewolf, causing him to hit the marble banisters above which stood Sybill.

That bastard was not going to get away with harming her favorite student!

With a fierce anger the likes of which she had never felt before, Sybill hurled the crystal ball into the air and swung her wand, sending the crystal ball to fall heavily on his head. He stopped moving.

“I have more!” she screeched. “More for any who want them! Here--”*

She threw another crystal ball into the air and flicked her wand which sent it crashing through a window. She continued to rattle the opponent with blows from crystal balls. That would teach those foul Death Eaters to mess with her students!


*Dialogue taken from J.K. Rowling’s Deathly Hallows, page 646, American hardback edition.

Chapter 33: A Survivor Till The End
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A Survivor Till The End
by amberfire
(Gryffindor)



‘Joseph! Hurry up! Forget the jumper; we have to go! Professor McGonagall said we have to go now!’ Called an anxious second year to her brother who was searching for his jumper on the common room couches.

Shaking my head I called ‘Hurry up my dear boy, your sister is right; you need to leave immediately! The Death Eaters are coming and you all need to be out of Hogwarts before the fighting begins!’ I swang open, hoping to hasten the little boy by revealing the corridor out of the Gryffindor common room to him.

I was also chafing for them to leave so that I could watch the progress of the evacuation from the Great Hall and hopefully be able to help organise.

The Battle had not begun yet, and these two were the last in the tower; everyone else had gone already. They finally ran out of the common room and past me, calling their thanks, running as fast as they could to the Great Hall.

I breathed a sigh of relief as I swung shut; now I could leave and make my own way to the Great Hall. My job here was done.

Just as I was about to slip through the paintings down the corridor and see if Violet was still waiting for me, I heard a sniff. A small sniff. One that comes as a person tries to be strong after a storm of weeping; when they try with all their might to stifle sobs that would otherwise flow as if the world was ending.

Curious I peered around the room and descending from the girl’s dormitory was a petite girl, probably only fourteen or fifteen years old, with a head of matted curly brown hair, tear stained cheeks and puffy red eyes.

‘My dear, you must hurry! The evacuation has begun, soon they will be here and it would be dangerous for you to stay.’ The poor child; she was probably scared out of her wits.

But she raised her head and glared at me, lifting her chin defiantly.

‘I’m not leaving. I’m fighting.’ She spoke with strong determination, and oddly the quaver in her voice only served to strengthen her presence.

‘But my dear, you must only be fourteen? Not old enough to battle the likes of Death eaters. It is not safe. You must go home; there you will be safe. Your staying can only end in tragedy.’

Her eyes hardened and she tilted her head haughtily shaking back the mussed curls and sweeping them from her forehead where they had matted and stuck.

‘I turned sixteen last week,’ she informed me in an icy voice, and as she continued, she lowered her eyes and seemed to shrink into herself, it seemed as though now she spoke more to herself than me.
‘I can do this; I must.’

She looked at me again and her eyes flashed, her voice scorning. ‘Safer at home? What do you know?’

Frowning she continued, ‘I must, to right some of the wrong my parents committed. I love Hogwarts,’ She whispered, looking directly in my eyes, willing me to understand.

‘It has been my home these past years and I will not let my parents, their cult of friends and their psychopathic leader ruin it. I don’t care about me anymore; it’s about the survivors. I know its dangerous out there, I know I’m not the best dueller, or the best at spells, and I know I could die out there, but I’ve got to do what I can. I don’t want stay safe if Hogwarts falls and live with knowing that I could have done something. I want Hogwarts to survive on as a school and sanctuary for many other generations. I want to do my bit, and even if I don’t make it out alive, I will die knowing I did what I could. I will have died a survivor at heart.’

It was silent for a few moments as I stared at this girl, so young, yet so full of passion.

Silently I swung open, leaving the way ahead for her open. She swallowed hard and stepped forward, gathering her resolve. Pausing on her way out she lifted a hand and placed upon my frame, ‘I’ll always remember you, Lady. And thank you.’ And she ran, through the corridor and around the corner. I stared after her, wondering what would become of this young fiery-spirited child.

Would she live to see Hogwarts as a free place again?

Would she live to see her parents taken before justice?

Would she ever pass by again and climb through to the common room which she loved so?

Would I ever see this passionate, fiery-eyed young girl again alive, with her vehement dedication to freedom still burning in her eyes?

Would she survive?

Chapter 34: Fallen
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Fallen
by Siriusgirl1
(Slytherin)


Tonks straightened from where she bent over her son's crib, after pulling his blanket up to his chin. She smiled down fondly at the slumbering baby and turned to join Remus in the living room over a last cup of tea before they retired for the night. She was nearly at the door when she heard a strangled shout and the telltale tinkle of breaking china. She flung the door open and rushed in, wand at the ready to engage the invading Death Eaters.

The room was empty, save for Remus standing over the remains of his teacup and a spreading brown stain on the carpet. He was tossing a Galleon from hand to hand, as though it was burning him.

He looked up and saw her, still standing with wand raised and ready. He grimaced. "Sorry, Dora. It burned in my pocket."

"It—it burned?"

"It's what Harry's Defense club used to communicate without Umbridge catching them. Neville brought them back this year—Ginny passed this one on to me last month." The Galleon, or rather, the communicator, had cooled enough for Remus to stop shifting it back and forth. He lifted it up to eyelevel to read it.

He cursed under his breath, then moved for his cloak, which was draped over the back of his armchair.

"Remus. What's wrong?" Tonks felt like she was rooted to the spot. Only her Auror training kept her from flying into a full-fledged panic.

He looked at her as he slung his cloak around his shoulders. He threw her own towards her, which she dropped. As Tonks picked it up, she felt a chill run down her spine at his next words. "Hogwarts. It's under attack."

In an unconscious echo of her husband, Tonks swore. Her mind raced frantically as she put her cloak on. As an Auror, she knew that this was going to happen eventually, on a tactical level. If Voldemort showed that he could take Hogwarts for real and not just under the puppet that was Severus Snape, the rest of the Wizarding World would follow, resistance effort notwithstanding. But a part of her insisted that Hogwarts was sacrosanct, that not even You-Know-Who could possibly touch it. Then, she froze.

"What? What's wrong?" Remus was at her side in a second.

"Teddy." His name slowly fell form her lips as she was seized in a bout of maternal fear. "We can't leave him behind."

"He's sure as hell not coming with us," replied Remus. He paused, and then said, "Andromeda. Take him to your mother's house."

Tonks hesitated. "And you?"

"Harry needs me. I have to go and I have to go now. Do you know where to go after you leave Teddy?"

"The Hog's Head," Tonks answered, staring blankly at her husband. Everything was moving so quickly. Then, Remus' arms were around her and she was wrapped in his tight embrace. He released her with a soft kiss on the cheek and pulled her into their bedroom and over to Teddy's crib.

He lifted his sleeping son into his arms and hugged him for all he was worth. Tonks felt tears come to her eyes at the sight and turned it into a three-way embrace, holding her family as a lifeline. She locked eyes with Remus and, careful not to squish Teddy, kissed him tenderly, passionately, fiercely. When they broke apart, hers were not the only eyes that shone with tears as she cradled Teddy against her chest.

Remus disapparated without breaking eye contact.

Now it was just Tonks and the baby, who was starting to stir. His hair was currently the same color as Remus' and her heart clenched. She steeled her nerves against the rising wave of fear and the almost hysterical sob that was its companion. This was what she had trained for. This was her fight and she was not going to allow fear to cripple her.

Without giving it another thought, Tonks held her child closer, turned on the spot, and vanished with a sharp crack!

She reappeared on the doorstep of her mother's house, not all that far from where Harry and Hagrid had crash-landed so many months before. Tonks sent a Patronus through the door and pounded anxiously on the wood.

Andromeda opened the door, checked to make sure it was her daughter and pulled her in quickly before resealing the wards behind her daughter and grandson.

"What's wrong?" was what she had intended to ask, but Tonks cut across her.

"I need you to take care of Teddy. Hogwarts is under attack. I have to go. I have to join Remus."

Andromeda took the groggy infant from his mother's grasp and rocked him gently, while she digested the information. Her first instinct was to forbid her daughter to go, but she knew that Tonks would never forgive her if she tried to hold her back. She said, "I understand, Nymphadora. I've got him. Go." She hesitated. "But, be careful!"

Tonks ignored her full name, instead focusing on her own fear reflected in her mother's eyes. She nodded and gave Teddy another kiss on his young forehead, whispered a last declaration of love to both of them and disapparated.

She arrived in the dingy interior of the Hog's Head, only to have a wand aimed at her heart. "Which one are you?" growled Aberforth.

"Nymphadora Tonks," she replied thinking it best to give her full name.

"Prove it," was the response.

Tonks sent her hair through the rainbow as she turned her nose from a pig's, to Remus' and back to her own. No matter how good the disguise, even the Polyjuice Potion couldn't counterfeit the powers of a metamorphmagus.

The barkeeper indicated his satisfaction with a grunt, then gestured at a portrait of a young girl on the wall. Tonks' skepticism must have shown on her face, because Aberforth snorted, strode over and pulled it forward on a hinge to reveal a tunnel. "Goes straight through to Hogwarts. The Needy Room, or somethin'. Just go. Not as if the rest of the castle hasn't come and gone already."

Tonks muttered thanks and clambered through the entrance. The portrait swung shut behind her. She didn't spare a backwards glance as she raced on through the tunnel. The sooner she could find Remus—no, she was not going to worry about him yet. The battle was what was important. She hurried onward, trying to block images of a dead husband from her mind.

When she arrived at the tunnel's terminus, she didn't realize it and tripped into the Room of Requirement. A pair of hands caught her before she could face-plant and she looked up to see Ginny Weasley. The redhead was a little pale, but otherwise hardy.

"Where's Remus?" The question was out of her mouth before Tonks even registered the words.

"Out there," said Ginny, pointing to the door, which presumably led to the rest of the castle.

Tonks started for the door, but the youngest Weasley blocked her path. "We have to wait here. We need to keep the room secure."

She stared down at the girl in front of her. Her hand twitched towards her wand. She wanted out, she wanted to find her husband, and she wanted to bloody kill some of the Death Eaters that threatened her family. But she respected the redhead standing in her way too much to knock her aside.

She tried to put some of her old spunk in her voice. "Then I guess you can fill me in on what's been going on."

Ginny rushed to explain, taking a seat in a nearby hammock. Tonks followed suit, taking the time to take in her surroundings for the first time. She began to relax a bit as Ginny started talking, starting with the beginning of the underground student resistance. She had just reached Harry, Ron and Hermione's arrival, when Tonks became aware of movement out of the corner of her eye. She jumped up and had her wand pointed at the new arrival's heart before Ginny had done more than turn around.

"Who are you?" Tonks demanded.

The elderly witch primly adjusted her hat before answering. "I'm Neville's gran. He called me using this." And she held out a coin identical to the one that had burned Remus earlier.

Ginny put a hand on Tonks' wand arm. "That's her." Tonks gingerly lowered her wand, still wary.

"Very good, young lady. I can tell you were one of Mad-eye's old pupils. Constant vigilance and all that. Very good. However, you assuredly do not need to jinx me."

Before Tonks could respond, Aberforth Dumbledore rushed through the tunnel. Tonks raised an eyebrow. From his demeanor back at his pub, she didn't think he was likely to join the fight, yet here he was. He saw her look and sneered, saying, "The boy needs all the help he can get." And he left before any of them could say a word.

Madame Longbottom turned back to Tonks. "Well, if he's gone, I suppose we ought to do something about that." She gestured to the gaping tunnel. Without waiting for a response, Neville's Gran waved her wand in an intricate pattern and muttered a complex incantation under her breath. The tunnel wavered, then disappeared as the surrounding wall melted over to cover where it had been.

"Well, that's that. Now, young lady," the formidable woman turned to Ginny, "why don't you start over at the beginning."

By the time Ginny was done explaining, Tonks was raring to go. She desperately wanted out of the prison the room had fast become. She paced back and forth, only to be interrupted by the door flying open. She reacted, wand at the ready, then relaxed when she saw it was only Harry, Ron and Hermione. She and Ginny asked simultaneously, "Is everyone okay?"

Harry's reassurance didn't do anything to soothe her fears, but when he told her Remus was heading a group of fighters, she didn't bother to stick around to hear more. As she ran, she dodged fallen suits of armor but she hadn't gotten far when a jet of light shot right in front of her. She skidded to a halt and leaned against the wall next to the window the stray spell had come through. It gave her an idea.

When Ginny joined her moments later, she motioned the younger girl to join here in shooting hexes at the distant masked Death Eaters in true sniper style. Every one she hit, Tonks thought, was one more she kept from harming any of the students who had stayed to fight. Every Death Eater she took down was one less Remus would have to face. She saw a giant go stumbling past, and heard Harry identify it as one their side from behind her. She agreed with his sentiment that he should squish Death Eaters. But with Order members somewhere down there… "As long it's not any of our lot!"

She turned away from her window for a moment to rest as Aberforth ran past with several students in tow. She had to know! "Have you seen Remus?"

"He was dueling Dolohov, haven't seen him since!"

Tonks swore and brushed off Ginny's calming words. She sprinted after Aberforth. She overtook him a floor down and kept running for the ground floor, providing covering fire for students as she went.

When she reached the Great Hall, she found it full of dueling teachers, students, Order members, and Death Eaters. It was chaos, but her training overrode it. She was an Auror, taught how to fight in situations just like this. Now it was her job to protect those she could.

She joined the nearest fight to her, where two Ravenclaws were losing strength against Amycus Carrow. The older boy dodged a Crucio and fired off a weak Jelly-Legs jinx. Carrow blocked it with ease, but the momentary distraction was all Tonks needed to zap him with a Stunner. She sent the two students running for safety. They had put up a fight, but now they were just liabilities. She tied Carrow up with a quick Incarcerous, left him lying unconscious, and moved on.

The rest became a blur of hexing, dodging and cursing. She found herself fighting off Dolohov with Kingsley. Aberforth's words came back to her and as she ducked under Dolohov's spell, her heart clenched and his next curse grazed her arm and she nearly dropped her wand. Dolohov laughed, until Kingsley curse hit him in the stomach and he doubled over and collapsed, unmoving. Kingsley jumped into the next duel, leaving Tonks standing by the open door, trying to staunch the blood flowing from her arm.

"Episkey!" It would work for now.

She ran outside, where the night was broken by screams and multi-colored flashes of light as wizard faced off against wizard. She raced down the steps, leaping over the body of a young Gryffindor, and bit back the bile that rose in her throat. Seasoned Auror or not, the sight of a dead child sickened her and she engaged the closest Death Eater with determination.

She fought a witch she had never seen before in her life. They exchanged a quick round of spells, gauging each other, before settling into a serious duel. Her mind blank except for attack, rebuff, and shield, Tonks was aware that this witch was her match. She took a hit to the leg and went down, resolving to take the Death Eater with her, when her opponent collapsed. Tonks looked up to see Remus standing next to her.

He pulled her up quickly, then pushed her back down and flattened to the ground himself. A bolt of purple light shot inches over their heads as three more of Voldemort's followers closed in. Husband and wife jumped to their feet and stood back-to-back, wands up and ready. They engaged the duel rapidly and one masked wizard fell. Remus and Tonks fought off the other two desperately, both starting to wear down with spell after hex after curse. Tonks finished her opponent off just as a stray spell took down the wizard Remus faced.

She heard a high-pitched cackle and tensed, remembering a stone room and her cousin gently falling through a fluttering curtain. She shoved Remus to the ground, just in time for Bellatrix's hex to miss him. The black-haired witch chortled.

"You can't dodge forever, dearest niece. And you won't be able to protect him for long either! Crucio!" Bellatrix was right, Tonks thought as she deflected the Unforgivable. She was flagging and having her husband lying directly under her feet wasn't helping either.

She jumped aside, hoping to force Bellatrix to follow her, but instead she moved closer to Remus. Tonks moved back to defend him again, as he began to sit back up. His eyes widened and she spun around just in time to see another Death Eater fire a jet of green light right at her.

Time slowed. She tried to throw herself out of the trajectory, but lacked the momentum, managing only to start to fall backward. She was vaguely aware of Remus screaming behind her, his voicing breaking uncontrollably and she was terrified that Bellatrix had gotten to him. The Killing Curse advanced and right before it connected she felt Remus trying to pull her the rest of the way to the ground. It was too late. She watched it sink into her chest, bemused, and felt herself crumple in her husband's arms. She knew no more.

Chapter 35: I Live In A Castle
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I Live In A Castle
by Adrielne
(Gryffindor)


Have you ever been in a castle? I lived in one.

Well, I was in one for nearly seven whole years. I lived there. No, I’m not a princess in the highest tower from some Muggle story. I’m a witch and I studied at Hogwarts.

Everyone knew me - or at least I think they did with the amount of silly chitchat around there. I was the girl who believed in creatures other people are too narrow-minded to even acknowledge. You guessed already, right? My name is Luna Lovegood.

That day was the second day of May. Normally - every year but that one, that is - the students of Hogwarts would be basking in the warm afternoon sun, doing final studying for the end-of-term exams we have in June (well, Ravenclaws would be doing the final studying. Other Houses would be likely to be just starting). This year it all was different.

There was a man, who called himself Lord Voldemort. He was a very powerful wizard, but he went bad when he was young. He wanted to kill those, who he saw as unacceptable or “worse” than purebloods. He wanted to purify the wizarding world of Muggle blood.

I think I should mention that these ideas were quite similar to how Emeric the Evil treated the South of England in the early Middle Ages. He was the possessor of one of the Hallows of the Pevrell Brothers, namely - the Elder Wand. With the help of this extraordinarily powerful magical artifact he managed to get many wizards on his side, whether from fear or the similarity of beliefs, before he was killed in a duel against Egbert the Egregious.

I really couldn’t see why professor Binns mistakes Emeric the Evil for Ulric the Oddball. The wizards were very different. Emeric the Evil believed in violence while Ulric the Oddball wore a jellyfish for a hat, a very smart idea if he wanted protection from the Blibbering Humdinger. He was also a very brave man, an inquirer, as my father likes to call them. He put himself at risk to prove that the song of Fwoopers isn’t harmful. He failed and ended up appearing before the Wizards’ Council in only a toupee hat made of a dead beaver, but his findings weren’t invaluable during my father’s search for the Crumple-Headed Snorkack horn he had on his mantel.

“What came first, the Phoenix or the flame?” the Knocker on the Ravenclaw Common Room door asked me once we reached it. I say ‘we’ because I was taking Harry there. He said he needed to find the Lost Diadem and I told him I knew just where to look.

“A circle has no beginning,” I replied surely. This riddle was very easy compared to some of the other ones I got in the previous years. The most difficult one was when the Knocker decided to use Muggle riddles instead of wizard ones. I never took more than an hour to answer any of them.

We entered and I saw Alecto Carrow, the new Muggle Studies professor under Severus Snape’s new regime. He appeared to be waiting for us, so I Stunned him before he did too much harm.

Stunning spells are some of the most useful ones a wizard may ever know. There is a variety of them, ranging from mild to near-lethal and from partial to full body ones. They were some of my mother’s favorite experimental spells. She refused to test them on animals and always placed them on herself. One of them mixed with the magical field of her bubotuber root pendant and the expermient went horribly wrong. My father and I are sure she passed on happily, so we are not saddened by her leave.

While pondering my mother’s unlucky demise, I barely noticed the shouting match held between the heads of Houses, Professors McGonagall, Flitwick and Sprout and Severus Snape. I had already shown Harry the replica of the Lost Diadem and wished him luck on completing his world-saving mission and he left the Ravenclaw Common Room to keep searching for the real one.

I decided to join the fighting. I could still remember our scramble at the Ministry of Magic, when Neville, Ginny, Hermione, Ron, and I went to London to help Harry Potter save his godfather. Once there, we found out the supposed murderer and lead singer of a famous band, Sirius Black, was nowhere near. Instead, we were abducted by masked Death Eaters. I never got to see the entire Department of Mysteries, which was quite a shame, but I did see that we had to coordinate fighting the Death Eaters, running away and saving a small glass ball. There just wasn’t time for a proper tour.

I shot spells I had learned in my entire Hogwarts career. I managed to turn a staircase into water, sending a Death Eater to sure death, but he got safely down thanks to help from a fellow Voldemort supporter, who conjured a mound of feathers to ease his fall.

Trying to inconvenience as many of the enemies as I could, I couldn’t help but marvel at the grandeur of Hogwarts, even when it was being destroyed. The stained-glass windows, despite their many cracks and losses, were still as beautiful as ever and the paintings, though hiding as far behind their scorched and chipped frames as possible, continued to support the castle.

After a long duel between myself and an unmasked man in a dark robe (I was saved by Nymphadora Lupin, who fired a Killing Curse at the man before he had the chance to kill me), I stumbled upon Ernie Macmillan and Seamus Finnigan along with a few other Hufflepuffs, who were both fighting Bellatrix and Rodolphus Lestrange. I helped them and shot a few curses of my mother’s. We were doing fine, but a member of the Order of the Phoenix - it may have been Kingsley Shacklebolt - challenged Bellatrix and we followed her husband, who began running for a group of unsuspecting Ravenclaws. We left the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw students to deal with the Death Eater and ran down the next corridor because Seamus Finnigan said he heard Hermione shouting for help.

Once we reached the Trio (that’s what my father calls Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger when he talks about them beating Voldemort), we saw that they were facing a large group of Dementors. I helped Harry produce a Patronus by encouraging him to think of something happy. Focusing on my wonderful OWL grades form fifth year and my plans of becoming a Herbologist once I finish Hogwarts I cast my own hare and together with Ernie and Seamus - the Trio had already run off in search of the Diadem, I think - we managed to drive the Dementors into the Room of Requirement.

We headed for the Entry Hall, where most of the battle seemed to be taking place. It took us what seemed to be over an hour to get to the Transfiguration classroom, where we split up. Ernie and Seamus decided to help Neville and most of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team fight Amycus and Macnair, while I kept going.

I could swear I heard the explosion of an Erumpent horn, but it may have been the giants that were battling outside.

I kept passing empty niches, where suits of armor and statues used to stand. The teachers were absolutely brilliant to think of making even the decorations of Hogwarts fight for its’ well-being. If the castle was helping us fight for its’ survival, I felt that we would win. This thought made me very happy, so I sped up to get to the Entrance Hall and help my friends and co-fighters in their battle, sneaking past Fenrir Greyback and leaping past a few duels as I went. I kept meeting Harry all over the place and I even distracted the Death Eaters that were attacking him. He slipped his Invisibility Cloak on while I created a well-aimed diversion.

I had to stop once and heal the few cuts I had, one of which ran along my wand arm and was bleeding profusely. I couldn’t remember where I acquired the injuries and it made me wonder if this is how the goblins felt when heading into battle against wizards, the words “we can fight for your respect” on their lips...

It was unbelievable how the fighting felt both satisfying and awful at once. I was happy that I could finally stand up to the Death Eaters who took over Hogwarts that year, but I felt bad about hurting all those people, sad for all the lives that had been lost. I was starting to smell the scent of what could only be called a battlefield: scorched portraits and tapestries, flooded hallways, odd liquids on the floor (obviously brought there from the Potions stores)... It all seemed very surreal to me at the time.

Once I reached the Entry Hall, I immediately made for Ginny Weasley, to see that Bellatrix Lestrange was about to round on her and Hermione Granger, both unawares. I hurried to them and caught their attention just in time. We put a joined Shield charm up around us and started shooting all curses we could remember at her. I could feel Ginny’s rage - she wanted the woman dead. Hermione, standing on Ginny’s other side, was just as set on winning the duel. I felt both proud and scared of them and kept firing my mother’s experimental spells, hoping that one of them would help us get an advantage over the Death Eater.

I was enthralled by our duel - it truly was amazing that the three of us together had about equal force and skills to a fully fledged witch - and thought we were winning when Bellatrix’s face turned into an evil smirk and she muttered the incantation of the killing curse under her breath.

The green light missed Ginny Weasley by inches and the three of us breathed a sigh of relief. Suddenly Ginny’s mother ran up to Bellatrix Lestrange and began a furious duel with the Death Eater. We focused on keeping other enemies at bay and tried to watch their rapid exchange of spells at the same time.

It was an amazing sight. Both witches were brilliant at their work and while Bellatrix may have been a bit quicker with her reflexes (undoubtedly from the many Muggle raids she commandeered), Mrs. Weasley was fired by fury and cast unending waves of hexes and curses.

Soon after that, we found out that Harry was dead. Everyone froze.

I don’t remember quite what happened later, but somehow Bellatrix Lestrange ended up dead, I was squeezed against the wall with a crowd of people and Harry - apparently alive again or never killed - was dueling Voldemort. Everyone held their breaths...

“Expelliarmus!” Harry shouted. Everyone heard this spell. It seemed to me that everyone thought of it as his signature move, because it was the thing that got him out of quite a few life-threatening situations. I thought so, too.

I stood on my tiptoes to see what was going on. Voldemort was falling to the ground, dead. Suddenly, the entire crowd erupted into cheers.

The next few hours were a jumble. Members of the Order of the Phoenix were searching for uncaught Death Eaters, teachers were tending to the wounded, everyone was crying over the dead, but happy about the victory.

Once I helped take care of most of the wounded, I wandered to my favorite place in the castle - the Astronomy Tower. I went out onto the highest terrace to see the sun setting over the Forbidden Forest. I was ready to close this dark chapter of my life and open a new one, full of expectations, hopes and wondrous scientific findings.

Have you ever been in a castle? I lived in one.

Chapter 36: Turning Point
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Turning Point
by Malvado
(Ravenclaw)



“But he’s there! Potter’s there. Someone grab him!” Pansy’s screeching voice pierces my ears, making me cringe visibly. The Dark Lord has just announced that we have until midnight to shove Harry Potter out of the school and into death’s arms. Of course a Slytherin, one of my own, would be the first to jump at the chance to gain You-Know-Who’s favor, but I can’t speak out against Pansy, even if she is incredibly stupid.

Nothing’s stopping the rest of the school, however, and my entire body is swept by a chill as every student in the Great Hall, save the Slytherins, turn on Pansy with raised wands. Part of me so desperately wants to leap to my feet, brandishing a wand, and blast Pansy across the room. I’ve never particularly liked her, mostly because she’s so dense, but also because of her unending worship of Draco Malfoy and his group of flunkies.

“Big surprise there,” Malfoy sneers to those nearest him. “No way this school would ever give up Potter!”

A fourth year quickly agrees and adds, “We could get him ourselves, though. Tie him up and throw him from the Astronomy Tower for all I care.”

“Don’t be stupid,” Draco spits back at him, but I can see an idea forming in his mind.

McGonagall, obviously annoyed by my House’s cowardice, instructs us to leave the Great Hall for evacuation, and we all, including myself, get up and leave. No one stays behind to help fight, and I’m filled with incredible shame. Other Houses follow us, but mostly it’s just the underage students that leave. No other table is left completely empty like Slytherin’s.

The crowd of students thunders up flights of steps, reminding me of class change or after dinner when we would all go our separate ways, free for a few hours from the heavy workload given to us by our Professors. The joyous laughter and banter is missing, though, and the foreboding feeling I have is unshakable. Suddenly I realize that I’m no better than the other cowards that make up Slytherin House. I can tell myself that I never wanted to be one of them, that it was all my father’s doings, but in reality I’ve let myself be sucked in. I’m running away from the enemy, my enemy.

On pure impulse, I break away from the crowd and dash into a bathroom. Someone snickers and comments about it being an odd time to use the toilet, but for the most part no one notices my absence. I haven’t exactly been the most popular person at Hogwarts these last seven years, and the people I surrounded myself with aren’t really the type to notice if you’re missing anyway.

I sneak a glance at myself in the mirror across the room, beginning to wonder just what I planned on doing. Part of me wants to fight and be brave, and I honestly have the motivation… My mind takes me back nearly a decade, and the painful memories of my past invade.

“Don’t worry, Theo,” my mother tries to comfort me as she pulls me in close to her. We’re seated together on a couch, the only object in our shabby little living room. I’m no more than eight, but I know that my mother has drawn me to her for her own peace of mind. I don’t blame her, though. She was strong once, but my father had worn her down long ago.

My father… We hear him slinging things around upstairs, shattering glass, breaking wood, and screaming at phantoms of his own design.

“He’s drunk,” I whisper with a child’s fearful quiver of the voice. He was always drinking too much; always angry about things my mother and I had no control over. It had been that way since the Dark Lord’s downfall so many years before, something I don’t even remember, but it’s gotten worse lately.

Mother offers no platitudes this time, which doesn’t bother me. Once, she had made excuses for him. “He’s lost his way,” she used to explain. “He’s confused,” she used to mutter. “He’ll get better,” she used to promise. And once, I used to believe her.

An ominous clomp clomp from the second floor causes my mother to squeeze me even tighter, resulting in a paralyzing fear sweeping through me that I have no control over. Soon I recognize the sound as footsteps coming down the stairs, and my own fear and dread magnifies. Looking up at my mother, into her bruised face, she gives me a not-at-all reassuring smile.

My father lurches into view at the base of the steps and lunges toward us…


Literally shaking my shoulders as though the memory could actually be driven away, I walk over to the sink and lean heavily against it. I try not to dwell on that particular instance of my life because that’s the last night I ever saw my mum alive. Again looking into the mirror, I see her features in my face. We share the same dark hair, pale skin, and deep-set eyes, and now the same defeated look.

It all comes back to my father, Thomas Nott. It always comes right back to him, even my sorting. Despite my hellish childhood I’ve always gotten a small bit of joy from reading, escaping into settings far from Thomas Nott and his fist and wand. I devour the written word with an insatiable hunger, something the Sorting Hat picked up on as soon as McGonagall set it upon my head.

“You’re very intelligent,” the voice reverberates through my mind. “There’s no questions where you belong. Ravenclaw will be an excellent home for you.”

But my mother was in Ravenclaw, and the memory of what Thomas Nott did to her is still so fresh in my mind. The Hat needs no further explanation, no begging on my part, because it feels my terror just as I feel it.

“Slytherin!” the old hat announces to the waiting students in the Great Hall.


A hatred for my father so deep that it makes my stomach turn flares up inside of me, causing me to strike out at the mirror in a rage I’ve never experienced before. Bad luck be damned, seeing my reflected image break into shards and fall into the sink feels wonderful.

I may never know why my mother couldn’t defend herself against my father; as a talented witch she should have been capable. But I do know that Thomas Nott introduced me to death that night, and I’m more than willing to return the favor.

Wand gripped tightly in my left hand, I storm out of the bathroom with a single thought. I’m not a Slytherin. I’m not going to abandon my school. And for once in my life, I’m going to do what’s right.


Disclaimer: "But he's there! Potter's right there. Someone grab him." is a direct quote from pg. 610 of Deathly Hallows, American Edition.

Also, thanks to PrincessPadfoot for being amazing and beta-ing this!


Chapter 37: Family Matters
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Family Matters
by lia_2390
(Slytherin)


The clearing was silent, the only sounds audible at that moment were the crackling and popping of things that had caught on fire and no one had the sense or patience to put them out. Next to me, my husband shifted nervously on his feet and without looking at him, I reached out and slid my hand into his much larger, calloused one which he gripped tightly. He didn't have to say it but I knew he was scared.

We stood rather vulnerable among the rest of the Death Eaters while everyone else stood on the other side. We were both wandless, my husband and I, and at any moment a hex would fly towards us, knocking us senseless. But none came. I think everyone's attention was still fixed on the two fallen bodies in front of them. One of them belonged to the Potter boy and the other was his; the Dark Lord's.

I wasn't quite sure what had happened but when he killed the boy, something happened to him as well. I saw sparks emit from his wand and he flew backwards; his body careening into a tree as if it were something weak and flimsy like rubber. And from then on there was utter silence, a silence that was so deafening as no one moved, they just stared.

This silence did not last long for as soon as my sister came to her senses, she rushed forwards making cooing noises as if she were talking to a baby. In the corner of my eye, I saw my brother-in-law's jaw clench. I frowned, he was a solid, quiet man, Rodolphus and I always felt sorry for him especially in his later life. There he stood, still trying to recover from his injuries as his wife tended to another man. It was one of the things I hated about Bellatrix, she didn't look twice when they brought Rodolphus back to the Manor in a crumpled heap but instead, she tends to him.

"Well, don't just stand there!" Bellatrix screeched, glaring menacingly at the rest of us.

Some of the Death Eaters, though hesitant, shuffled over to where my sister stood, forming a small crowd around his fallen body. Rodolphus, I noticed, stayed where he was. As for Lucius, I felt he was conflicted; still holding on to that thread of hope, still thinking that his acts of servitude would make the slightest difference to put us back into favour with the Dark Lord. I, however, thought otherwise. After all that had happened, there would be no changing his mind. I honestly believed our fate was decided the moment Lucius set foot in Azkaban.

Draco. My eyes scanned the crowd desperately for the familiar white blonde hair but I could not find him. Biting my lip, I stepped closer to my husband; I needed to feel his warmth.

"Do you see him?" His voice was a hoarse whisper and I doubted that his lips even moved an inch.

"No." I muttered.

I heard his quiet sigh of frustration as he gripped my hand tighter. I shifted my gaze from the small crowd of Death Eaters to the group on the other side of the clearing. The groundskeeper, Hagrid, held his hands clutched to his chest with his eyes fixed on the boy's body and his lips moving, as if in prayer to some celestial being for help. Even though we were on opposite sides, I understood his gesture. I too was praying, praying for my family's lives.

"My Lord...My Lord..."
[1] It was Bella's voice again, sounding so soft so tender. It reminded me of how I would talk to Lucius sometimes. After all these years, I could never understand my sister's horrific infatuation with such a man; sometimes I thought he couldn't even be human. As I heard a large intake of air coming from the crowd, Bella became more feverish.

"My Lord..." [2]

"That will do." [3]

I stiffened as I felt unbearable cold wash over me. It was his voice. He was alive. I chanced a glance up at Lucius whose face, even in this light, had grown several shades paler. What did this mean? If he was alive, then what of the Potter boy? And what would happen to the rest of us?

I watched in horror as the Dark Lord staggered to his feet; those surrounded him quickly scuttled back to where they were standing, gazing at their Master with wary expressions, others looked confused. It was only Bella that dared to remain at his side, on her knees.

"My Lord, let me-"[4] Bella pleaded.

"I do not require assistance." He answered, icily before setting his eyes on Potter's fallen body. "The boy...is he dead?" [5]

While everyone turned to look at the boy, the Dark Lord's eyes pierced through our small group and focussed on me. I shuddered involuntarily.

"You." [6]

The pain hit the middle of my chest and I sank down, trying to stifle my cry but it came out anyway. I felt Lucius' hands around my waist, attempting to lift me but I shook my head. Now wasn't the time to show any sort of affection, especially in front of him. Understanding, he released me and I struggled to my feet.

"Examine him," he was still pointing at me with his wand, "Tell me whether he is dead." [7]

Nodding, I rushed forward to where the Potter boy lay and gently touched his face; he was unusually warm but I ignored it, trying to keep my face as passive as possible but my hyperventilation told another story. With my hands shaking, I placed them underneath his shirt where I felt his heart thumping rapidly against his chest. I froze, this was my chance. I had to know of my son.

I bent closer to his face, my hair falling like a curtain around us, eliminating prying eyes.

"Is Draco alive? Is he in the castle?" [8] I whispered, hoping he could hear me.

"Yes." [9]

I sank back on my knees, my heart beat rivalling that of the boy who lay motionless in front of me. Looking up I saw the expectant faces of those in the crowd and I shouted, "He is dead!" [10]

The desperate cries of those students could do nothing to compete with the shouts of jubilation of the Death Eaters. I rose, amongst the red and silver sparks they shot into the sky, my face mimicking theirs. I saw my sister with her wand raised, shouting praises to her Master while said Master stood a good distance away, with a triumphant gleam in his eyes.

I smiled coldly as I returned to where Lucius stood, huddled by a tree. He reached for me with his hand.

"What does this mean for us now?" he mused.

"It means that we could look for Draco." I whispered.

Lucius' grey eyes narrowed as he searched my face. "What?"

"The Potter boy isn't dead."

He opened his mouth to protest but I stopped him. "He told me Draco is alive. It was the only way."

Lucius nodded slightly and began to follow the others that were returning to the castle. With one last look at my former Master, I smirked.

"I hope you burn."



Quotes [1] – [10] taken from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (UK Edition), Chapter Thirty-Six – A Flaw in the Plan, p. 580 – 581

Chapter 38: I Will Always Love Him
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I Will Always Love Him
by GinnyCullen
(Gryffindor)


He is back! He really came back I knew he would, he can’t just quit on us. But to know that this is it that we have a chance at this. That he is still alive; well it means the world to me. After this war he won’t have an excuse for why he can’t be with me. I love him, you see, I have from age ten.

We have been through a lot in the past seven years. Well the first year we met was just at Platform 9 and ¾ when Mum and I were sending the boys off to school. The next year he saved my life in the Chamber of Secrets, he saved me from his biggest enemy, and I loved him even then. The third year we knew each other, he found his god father; I was just in the back ground then. Now the fourth year he almost died, again, I swear that boy has had more near death experiences in the last seventeen years than all of London. Yet, he fancied Cho Chang, how could I compete with that? The fifth year we started the D.A. and he still fancied Cho, I was jealous, I mean I had loved him for five years now and he barley saw me. The sixth year he started to notice me and when we kissed that first time it was amazing, like all of my dreams came true and they had when he finally asked me to be his girlfriend. Then at Dumbledore’s funeral he chucked me, said it was for my safety. Now the seventh year we have known each other and I still love him, but have not seen or heard from him all year, till now.

I ran to get Fred and George and tell them and when I did they apparated with me to Hog’s Head and we went to the portrait of Dumbledore’s sister and walked down the tunnel to the Room of Requirement. I smiled when I saw him standing there talking to Luna and Dean and everyone else. Cho came through the portrait behind me the twins. I was so glad to see Harry, Ron and Hermione that I paid no attention to Harry’s old girl friend.

When I realized that Harry was talking I stopped rambling in my head about how much I really disliked her. He was talking about some sort of diadem from Ravenclaw. That is when I heard Cho say she would show Harry the statue in her common room. I was not about to let Harry and his ex-girlfriend go under that cloak of his where they would be smushed together for a long walk in the moon light, so, I said that Luna would be glad to take him. Yes, I know I am insecure but I LOVE HIM and I was not about to let Cho Chang ruin what I have with him. Luna was chomping at the bit to take him after I suggested it. As for Cho she just sank back in her chair looking defeated.

Luna and Harry disappeared into the castle and I was left alone with everyone else. So I went to hug my brother Ron, I missed him so much and Hermione she is like the sister I never had, secretly I wish that they would hurry up and get together. Hermione has fancied Ron for about four years now and my stupid brother has yet to realize it.

I hope this war ends soon Mum and Dad need a break as does Harry, Ron and Hermione, oh I love them all. Someday I hope Harry and I can be together forever and have little ones running around, me playing Quidditch and Harry an auror. This war needs to end with piece but I know that my love may die within hours.

Chapter 39: Silent Fright
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Silent Fright
by AmericanGinny
(Gryffindor)



I threw myself against the tree at the very edge of the forest. It seems like I had been running through the forest forever. I had watched as my friends fell to the ground after being shot with the killing curse. I had seen the horrors of this battle. I had seen the destruction of this night, and I had run. I was afraid. I hadn’t been in this position in forever.

I watched from behind the tree that I was leaning against. The battle was crazy as spells were being shot from every way. I saw Hermione locked in intense battle with Bellatrix on the far side of the field. Hermione couldn’t quite get an upper hand on her. She never would quit though. Knowing Hermione, Bellatrix would be on the ground in the end.

I felt like a coward. Here I was hiding behind a tree while Hermione battled a witch more powerful than herself. I couldn’t even battle the git Draco Malfoy. It wasn’t my personality to kill, but nor was it my personality to let my friends die alone.

I turned around and slid down the tree. I was as pathetic as Malfoy. I knew the only reason Draco had never been placed in Gryffindor was because he had never been brave. Now I wondered if that was true with me. I mean I was smart, wild but smart. Hermione was smart too. Was that why I was in Ravenclaw and not Gryffindor? Did I really have no bravery?

I placed my head in my hands. I had to go out there. I had to help Harry. I couldn’t be a wimp. Not now. I may be Luna Lovegood. I may be crazy, but I was not going to be a wimp.

I let out a sigh. How was I going to do this though? I was so scared.

I took a deep breath and stood up again. I had to do this. I looked back towards the field. Hermione was still locked in an intense battle with Bellatrix. Harry was off battling all the death eaters he could, and upon the ground not but a few yards from me lay Ron, dead.

I gasped. I couldn’t believe someone managed that. I was filled with a new horror. If Ron had been killed, I was going to die for sure. There was no way I was going to get out of here alive.

I looked up at the night sky above me. I saw the stars sparkling miles above me as if the whole world were calm. The moon was giving enough source of light to show the reality of the world. We weren’t calm here on this part of the earth. We were engaged in an intense battle, and yet here I stood looking at the sky.

“Mother please help me. Give me the courage you always had.” I spoke softly to myself.

I looked back to the battle. I knew what I had to do. I knew what it was most likely going to cost. It was going to be hard, but it had to be done.

I inhaled a quick breath when I felt a hand touch my shoulder. I turned my head and saw the warm comforting brown eyes. I knew I was no longer alone…

Chapter 40: Silent Fight
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Silent Fight
by AmericanGinny
(Gryffindor)



The death eater in front of me fell to the ground after I had knocked him out. I had fought several death eaters throughout the night, but this was not even the last of them. I had been trained for this, and I wasn’t going to run from the fight.

I looked around for my next target. As my eyes scanned the field, I took mental notes of who I saw and who was missing. Hermione was locked in an eternal fight with Bellatrix. Harry was battle Fenrir Greyback. He was in an intense battle, but Fenrir was tiring quickly. Harry would soon over power him.

I quickly froze as I realized both Ron and Luna were missing. “I can’t loose them both.” I thought.

I began to run as fast as I could .I was in a panic. I had to find them. I needed them to be here with me. I needed them to survive.

I saw a flash of red hair out of the corner of my eye. I froze. I feared what lay behind me. I feared for the life of my brother.

I slowly turned around. I didn’t want to know, but I had to know. It was my brother after all. I dreaded to face the fact if he was dead, but I needed to know whether he was alive or not.

I gasped and brought my hands to my mouth. The horror of the reality was worse than the small thoughts that haunted me. “Ron” I whispered.

I slowly walked towards the cold, still body of my brother. I didn’t know how I was able to even move. The horror I felt was a new feeling to me. It made me want to freeze to the spot, but I had to keep walking. I had to make sure that he was…was…

Dead.

I fell to my knees. He was dead. Ron had died in the war at the hand of some Death Eater. I wanted to cry my grief to the world, but my voice seemed to have left me for the moment. Tears streamed constantly down my face. I had lost my brother to the war.

This wasn’t going to go unpunished. I knew what I had to do. No matter what fears came over me. No matter what pain I faced. I was going to fight to make up for the death of my brother.

My face became hard, and my heart became cold. I knew he would never come back. No matter how many lives I took, he would never be standing beside me, but I would help stop this from happening to anyone else.

I reached up and wiped the tears from my face. I stood up and tightened the grip on my wand. This was now my battle too. I hadn’t fully been involved in this war till now. It was no my fight as much as it was Harry’s.

I turned my back towards my brother’s empty shell. I had to get back to the fight. The first thing I needed to do though was to find Luna, my best friend.

I headed back to my original location I had to have missed her. I shot spells every now and again taking out a death eater or two along the way. I was someone no one had ever seen. I was anew person. I was a person in pain.

Hermione was still locked in battle with Bellatrix. I rolled my eyes at this death eater. She was never going to give up as long as she was equally matched. I needed to help Hermione overthrow her.

I began to walk towards Hermione to help when I froze. A rustle had come from the trees behind me. Someone was in the woods. Hermione would have to keep fighting without me for now.

I turned on the spot just in time to see white blonde hair flash between the trees. “Luna.” I thought quickly running after the mysterious blonde hair person.

I pushed my way through the branches and plants to enter the woods. I looked around. The person had disappeared into the darkness of the forest. I muttered “Lumos” and began to walk.

The darkness enclosed me as the sky darkened with time. Soon I was covered by darkness. The path lit alone by the light of my wand and the full moon.

I felt my way down the path being as quiet as I could incase the person I was following was a death eater. The walk seemed to take forever. Maybe that was the effects of grieving. Maybe it was just because I was walking down a path in complete darkness. I don’t know really what it was. I just know I seemed to lose track of time as I continued to walk.

I came up to a tree and slowly looked around the tree. Luna sat with her back against the tree in front of me. She held her head in her hands. It was a pathetic sight. I wanted to run and give her a hug. I wanted to comfort her and tell her that everything was going to be okay. Tell her that no matter what I was here for her.

I watched as Luna stood back up and turned looking at the sky. She seemed so confused about something. She looked like she was struggling to make a decision. I wanted to help but I don’t know how to.

“Mother please help me. Give me the courage you always had.” Luna whispered.

I began to walk towards Luna. I knew how to help her at last. I knew what to do.

I reached out my hand and placed it upon Luna’s shoulder. I felt her jump in fright and freeze. She was scared. I knew it, but all I could do was wait. She slowly turned her head to look at me.

I looked into her grey eyes and smiled. She knew why I was here. She knew what I was doing.

A smile formed across her face and she whispered, “Ginny…”

The battle was now theirs. They had the courage to fight against anyone and for everyone. They were now ready to have a silent fight.

Chapter 41: True to the Raven
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True to the Raven
by emerald_moons
(Ravenclaw)


Orla Quirke believed in destiny and the word of seers—true seers, that is. She had taken Divination to learn the skills required for the power of foretelling. Orla quietly (as that was the way she did all things) sat in the back of the fogged up classroom and took vigorous notes. However, she was convinced that Professor Trelawney was a fraud.

The school year was coming to a close when it happened. Orla, slow in packing up her belongings, was alone with Trelawney. The woman was unnaturally silent, not spouting off random predictions of death and disaster as per usual.

Orla was about to descend the ladder when a hand grasped her shoulder. She turned, bewildered, to find Trelawney staring at her.

It wasn’t a typical stare. Trelawney looked blindly at Orla. She was in a trance, shaking uncontrollably.

“Pr-Professor?” Orla asked meekly.

Trelawney’s body shook, and her hand gripped Orla’s shoulder tightly. Her voice was harsh and stilted, completely unlike the Professor Orla knew. “In a fortnight, you will come to a crossroads. When the hour in glass breaks and bleeds blue, danger will be near, but not seeking you. The power of the sort will bring you the proper choice. If you defy the sort, the eagle cannot save.”

Trelawney gasped, reeling back with a hand to her chest. She blinked in confusion at Orla. Orla stared back, equally startled.

Trelawney composed herself quicker than Orla, brushing at her robes self-consciously. “Are you all right, dear? You look a bit pale.”

“I – I’m fine,” Orla said, stumbling backwards and down the ladder. Trelawney peered down at her, large glasses slipping on her nose.

“Will you be needing a note for your next class?”

“Ah – no. I have a free period,” Orla lied hastily. She walked as steadily as she could manage to the Ravenclaw common room. She fell into a chair, staring blankly down at her hands. “What had happened?” she wondered to herself.

Orla intentionally skipped her next class, though she never would have in the past. Somehow, skipping a class didn’t seem like such a big deal anymore.

It wasn’t the only class she skipped. Two weeks of Divination were spent in her dormitory, musing over words Orla could not comprehend.

“Maybe Trelawney has truly lost it?” Orla would whisper, to no one but herself. However, the feeling of dread did not pass, and even denial couldn’t prevent Orla from knowing something terrible was about to occur.

Mid-morning of that forbidding day Orla was rushed into a curious room that seemed to be called the Room of Requirement. There she found all that were resisting the Death Eaters that now controlled the school, proud and willing to sacrifice their lives for what they believed in.

When the battle truly began, Orla stayed behind to fight, determined to help. But Orla was not one of courage, and her determination did not last long. As soon as she had seen a woman fall dead on the ground, she ran to a corridor off the Great Hall, scared witless.

It wasn’t until the Ravenclaw hourglass shattered before her eyes that she realized the prophecy was coming true. Sapphires scattered on the polished floor. When the hour in glass breaks and bleeds blue…

“Orla!” a voice shouted from the end of the hall. She froze at the sight of Natalie, her best friend, dueling with a Death Eater. Their shouts echoed in the nearly empty hall.

“What a Gryffindor,” Orla thought. She was shocked to realize that her friend was losing the fight. Natalie dove too slowly, and a spell hit her in the leg, brutally cutting it open. She fell hard to the ground, screaming in pain. The Death Eater closed in.

Orla was in a panic. She didn’t know what she could do. She considered joining her friend in the fight and trying to take out the Death Eater. She quickly glanced around the hall for something or someone to attack the Death Eater with. She, in a moment of desperation, thought about tricking the man into believing the girls were on his side.

“No,” she thought. “I am not a Gryffindor, nor a Hufflepuff. And I’m certainly not a Slytherin.”

“I, Orla Quirke,” she thought, “am a Ravenclaw.” But what could she do with that? She was rather witty, yes, and¬¬¬–

Like someone had illuminated her wand, Orla remembered her childhood acting classes. Her mother, a small-time Muggle actress, had hoped her daughter would follow in her footsteps. That was before she knew her husband and her daughter were a wizard and witch respectively, but the four years of studying magic hadn’t erased the skills drilled into Orla’s young mind.

Orla came back to the present, swiftly creating a snarky Death Eater’s daughter in her mind. She was running towards the pair before she even realized it.

“Hey. Dimwit.” Orla said sharply and pulled herself into the character. The Death Eater turned around.

“How dare you address me so?” the Death Eater said furiously, wand raised. Orla moved slowly forward, non-threatening but with a cocky swagger. Internally she felt ridiculous, but she had to sell the character. Orla caught sight of Natalie’s wand, a few feet away from where she lay. She hoped she could distract the Death Eater long enough for Natalie retrieve it.

Orla leaned against the wall like this conversation was a waste of her time. “Please, you? You can’t even pronounce the killing curse correctly.”

“What?” the man questioned in outrage. “I’m perfectly capable of the killing curse.”

“Oh, really?” Orla asked, bluntly sarcastic, “I know a thing or two about Avada Kedavra, and you are a complete disgrace to its power. You’re stressing the wrong syllables, for Merlin’s sake.” Orla would have to give her mother sometime nice for her birthday. The unforgivable slipped off her tongue easily.

Orla was still conscious of her reason for the distraction. She tracked Natalie’s movement out of the corner of her eye. Her friend inched toward the wand, fingers outstretched. Almost there.

“Are you saying a teenage girl knows how to say it correctly, and not a trained Death Eater?” The man bit back, wand directed at Orla’s heart. She gulped, willing Natalie to move faster. Orla steeled herself, her character’s confidence pulling her head high.

Orla spit back at the Death Eater with venom in her voice. “My father is a highly esteemed Death Eater, unlike you.” Natalie’s fingers wrapped around the wand and she pointed it at the Death Eater. Success.

“Who is your precious daddy, then?” the Death Eater snarled. Orla merely smirked and stepped out of the line of fire.

“Stupefy!” Natalie shouted. The Death Eater went down on his face with a thud, and the crunch of his nose breaking was sweetly satisfying. Orla rushed her friend’s side.

“Natalie.” Orla breathed, ripping at her robes to wrap the wound. Natalie smiled weakly and raised her leg with a wince.

“Nice chat?” Natalie teased faintly, and Orla smiled. The shy Ravenclaw surfaced again, as did her fear. Orla glanced behind her, watching for any sign of movement. The sounds of the battle were hushed and Orla hoped it meant the Death Eaters were losing and fight was coming to an end.

“Nah.” Orla whispered, tying off the makeshift bandage. “It was like talking to a rock. Worse, actually, because he talked back in the rudest manner.”

Natalie grinned, but did not reply. The pair sat in silence, taking in the moment. Orla noted that the sound of the battle seemed to have ceased. It was then that they heard Peeves’ shouts.

“We did it, we bashed them, wee Potter’s the one, and Voldy’s gone moldy, so now let’s have fun!” Orla frowned in confusion and then gasped when she realized what his rhyme meant. Shouts of joy confirmed it.

Natalie’s eyes met Orla’s, and the two embraced in silent joy. Natalie placed her forehead against Orla’s and murmured, “It’s over. Voldemort’s dead.”

Orla could not remember a happier moment in her life.

Chapter 42: Part of the Team
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Part of the Team
by hail_rowena
(Hufflepuff)




The four of us ducked down, our lingering breaths sounding like wisps of wind across the room. Down below, the bellows of the battle faintly roared, just strong enough to make the ground we knelt on tremble. I was one of the worse, clutching onto my broom with full force, sweat dribbling down my forehead to my lip, tasting the salt mix with my spit.

I knew what dark magic could do, even though I didn't receive the worst of it. The moment we flew, I knew that we would be getting ourselves into something that we had never perceived. As a Gryffindor, I was bold enough to curse it and press forward; as a human, I wanted to crawl away and rest in peace.

'Almost...'

My eyes darted towards Oliver, whose hand was hovering in front of him, as if we would explode into a ball of energy the moment that he released it. But this wasn't just a Qudditch game. When the time comes, it was going to take a lot more than a hand gesture to push us beyond. It was pretty much doing to take all that we had.

'You know what to do, right?' asked Angelina, once again tying back her dark plaits into one ponytail. Her voice was steady enough, but I could see her hands shaking at her glowing confidence suddenly wasn't enough.

Oliver rolled his eyes to this, muttering, 'Considering the fact that I came up with it, I would say yes.'

'I was just asking.'

'I'm just telling.'

'I was captain too, Oliver. I know what I'm doing.'

'You were captain for a year. One year.'

'Is now really the time?' I hissed.

While Angelina seemed relaxed, moving slightly away from me, Oliver was more taken aback. 'Point taken.' He then turned to Lee, who was still messing with his wires. 'How's it coming along, Jordan?'

'Almost ready. I had to find a way to work these…' Lee paused to look at the label. 'Batteries… This Muggle stuff is complicated. Anyway, give me a couple of seconds. Does the plus go with the minus, or vice versa?'

'Opposites attract, now come on!'

'You know something, Katie?' said Lee, looking at me as he worked on his little project. 'You should really save that anger for the Death Eaters.'

Oliver chuckled, but my glared soon silenced him. I then tightened my grip on my broom and glared straight forward. 'Well, whenever you're ready.'

The next five minutes were left to silence between us, occasionally the hissing of Lee's machine causing us to jolt. Finally, he raised it up, beaming at his work. Angelina was not as impressed. 'It looks exactly how it was when you started on it.'

'So it was simpler than I thought. The point is, it's ready.' Hesitantly, he then turned to the three of us. 'You ready?'

I gulped, Angelina stood up, and Oliver merely commanded, 'Mount.' Angelina and I did so accordingly, both of my hands clutching the varnished wood. Please, I thought to myself, let it not end this way. Oliver then said to Lee, 'You go and get the distraction sorted. We need to surprise them on this.'

Lee raced ahead, but stopped for a moment, spinning around and performing a mock salute. 'For Potter.'

'For freedom,' returned Angelina.

As we began to make up the formation, Oliver tugged on my arm slightly. 'Katie.'

'Yes?'

Even though it was probably for seconds, the look Oliver gave me at that moment seemed to last for so much longer, as pathetic as that sounds. I got jolts going through my entire body, and my position on the broom began to slacken. But as soon as that look ended, the magic in it was lost.

'Don't get hurt,' he finally said.

'We'll try not to,' joked Angelina, completely oblivious to the moment that I was prepared to take with me to the grave.

Music suddenly erupted. Lee had set off the distraction. There would probably be Death Eaters pausing for a split second to wonder at what was going on, looking around for source and, more importantly, the little blood traitor or Muggleborn who set it off.

And that split second was ours.

We soared through the crowds, our triangle formation directly plunging into the people. At first, my eyes couldn't quite adjust to the speed, making it hard to see the difference between enemy and foe. I had constantly put up a shield around me until I could finally spot the Death Eaters; at that point, the stunning spells began to take shape.

I got one Death Eater, causing me to offer a cry of triumph to the crowd, but soon had to drop at least two feet by the jet of light that was aimed right at me. Spotting this also, Oliver got my attention as I began to rise again and boomed, 'Can we be a bit more careful, Katie?'

'I'm trying. It's not that easy.'

'Well I can't bloody look after you and me, it would make things -' Oliver sent over another spell to protect me, not even noticing the Death Eater from a balcony above throwing an instrument I couldn't make out straight for him. Throwing my body left, I rammed into Oliver, managing to make both of us fly out of the way just in time.

'Can we be a bit more careful, Oliver?' I chimed. Oliver murmured some sort of response before speeding ahead.

Angelina was now far from both of us, weaving her way towards the end of the corridor. I didn't see her as she swerved before us, but I heard a crash and I bounded towards her.

When I arrived, she was off her broom. Weakly, she stood up, but didn't seem to focus on her own injuries, or even notice that her left brow was seriously cut. She merely began to stagger over the the curtain before her, now ripped. 'Angelina,' I remember screaming, but it amounted to nothing. Angelina still walked slowly and finally crashed down on her knees.

Lowering myself to the point where my feet could touch the ground, I moved and attempted to pull Angelina back. 'What in Merlin's name are you -'

That's when I landed. That's when the bellows stopped and the silence took hold completely. That's when my body numbed. That's when everything seemed lost. That's when I knew exactly what it was to break.

'Fred…'

Angelina hand pressed against his neck, waiting for a moment, and then suddenly broke out into sobs. There was no pulse. Fred was… Fred was…

'Reparo.' The curtain that had shielded the now still Fred from the busy world around him now began to repair itself. They were both hidden from my sight now, covered by the bright hangings. For a moment, I wanted to remind Angelina that there was a war going on. But she was closer to the Weasley brothers than most. Possibly the closest. Except for Lee. I began to feel a choking sensation in my throat. What about Lee?

I marched back towards my broom. There was no time to debate on the matter. As I rose up in the air, I left two of my dear friends behind, and soon continued to move on. Things were becoming more and more heated, as the jets of red soon became primarily jets of green. Considering the levels that there were too the school, it was hard to get a true bird's eyes perspective, but the agility that came with my broom was still an advantage.

How many people knew about Fred? It was something I had to wonder. How many people below were fighting, not realising that they had lost one of the best things that had ever happened to the school? I refused to choke, since I needed all the air I had, so I let the tears begin to fall freely, hoping that the air would cause it to evaporate. Then it just became a matter of trying to stop.






There were rows of them. Tables filled with laying bodies. Whether they were dead or not was none of my concern; well, it wasn't a need I bothered satisfying. Instead, I moved away silently from everyone, under the pretence that I was preparing for the next step when the Death Eaters returned. But all I wanted to do was continue weeping.

This wasn't how it was supposed to be. They trained us up to be heros, but I couldn't even count the number of people that lay there. If we were such heros, then why in Merlin's name couldn't we save them? Why were they there, when, the truth was, they were the heros. The ones who died for us.

A group passed me; I begged for them just to move on, but a Ravenclaw, Emily Hardew, noticed me and asked, 'How are you holding up, Katie?'

What kind of question was that? And from a Ravenclaw? I merely turned my head away, quietly saying, 'I'm fine.'

'Well, I just thought, because -'

'Because of Fred?' I hastily finished. 'Well, yes, of course it's sad. Frankly -'

'Fred?'

I made eye contact with her at this point. 'You weren't talking about Fred?' But what I really wanted to ask was, 'Who were you talking about?'

'Well…' Emily was now looking around at her friends. This was clearly going to be a case of 'don't shoot the messenger'. 'Well… I was talking about Oliver.'

I paused.

I breathed.

I ran.

Up the stairs. Down the corridor. Into the Great Hall. I halted. I looked. I couldn't find. I wanted to die. My breathing quickened. My veins could explode any second. My eyesight weakened. Fingers tingling. Legs numbing. Knees buckling. The crowd. The looks. The cries. Darkness. No, I don't want to - silence.

Oliver…

When I first began to wake up, I didn't want to open my eyes. The thought of waking up on the cool wood, possibly surrounded by the dead, scared me out of my wits. While my eyes remained closed, I could be anywhere I wanted to be. And, as of right now, I wanted to keep my eyes closed. That way, I could imagine a completely different scene. I could be laid on my own bed in my dormitory, under the plush cushions.

Then it hit me. It wasn't just imaginary. I was on a mattress. This wasn't the table. This suddenly felt odder by the second. If I wasn't on a table in the Great Hall, then were exactly was I?

My eyes flickering open, I saw a surrounding that was far too familiar to me: the Hospital Wing. Granted, the occupants with me were far more different than any I had encountered after some Quidditch injury, but it was still the same drapery and whitewash walls. When I had taken it in, I looked a far brighter Angelina Johnson, though her eyes gave away the state that she truly was.

'You only usually get the chance to fight in one final war,' began Angelina, rolling her eyes, 'and you went and fainted.'

'You mean…' I couldn't find the words to describe it. I was only gaping at her in disbelief while I searched for what to say next.

Luckily, she finished it for me. 'We've won, Katie.'

Was it selfish that I wasn't jumping with glee? Probably. But as soon as I remembered what exactly the end of the war entailed, I always remembered what the war itself had caused. Angelina immediately came to my rescue; I was probably growing pale again.

'O-Oliver,' I finally managed to splutter.

Angelina nodded solemnly. 'Of course.' And then, she left me. I wanted to cry out to her, but my mind was too busy to think of the volume, causing me to merely whisper it. Perhaps she took it as a sign of me wanting to be alone, but any good friend would have asked to stay. After all, he was her friend, too. We were friends.

So why did I faint?

Before I knew it, I was trying harder than ever. It was as if my subconscious was finally catching up on me. The eye contact, the moments, the odd behaviour. I just interpreted it as an abnormality, but it was so much more than that. And I had to leave it at that. Because I had lost him.

… Or not

He stood before me, leaning on a crutch while grinning at me, though it soon faded as he saw my rampant tears.

Though I wanted to leap up and embrace him immediately, another emotion inside of me bubbled, causing a less welcoming reaction than I expected, only for me then to shout out, 'You're leg. That's it?'

Oliver frowned. 'Hey, it bloody hurts. It's worse than feeling a little dizzy.'

Climbing out of my bed, my eyes still looked elsewhere, as if that was going to be a way to search for my recent epiphany as it flew out of the window. 'They - she - Emily.' Answering Oliver's look of utter confusion, I said, 'She told me about you. She said - I thought you were dead.' And the tears came again. Much to my surprised, Oliver smiled after a few seconds, causing me to demand, 'What?'

'That was why you fainted?' I caught Angelina slowly moving away from the room. Oliver was now laughing, trying to make his way towards me. 'You fainted because you thought I was dead?'

'It's not funny,' I exclaimed. 'You were dead. Of course I was upset.'

'Like… you were going to miss me?'

Suddenly, I saw that I had been trapped. And I had placed myself right in it. 'No…'

'Katie, admit it. You would have missed me.'

'Of course I would've missed you, Oliver. Don't be stupid.'

'But more than anyone else?'

Wasn't I just getting upset about the fact that I could never tell him what I had just realised? Wasn't that the problem just a second ago? So why was I hiding from it now? But even as I was trying to defy myself, I still wanted to keep it quiet. 'I don't think I can really say that.'

'Admit it.'

'No.'

'Admit it.'

'No.'

'Admit it.'

'Why?'

Oliver's smiled more broadly than imaginable. 'Come on, then.'

'Where?'

'Listen.' My ears began to pinch as I heard the singing flooding through the school. Oliver then said, 'We've got to celebrate.'

'With your leg?' I asked, trying not to sound concerned.

'You'll take care of me.'

As we walked away, I fought back the urge to reply that I will. I probably always will.

Chapter 43: The Lone Slytherin
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The Lone Slytherin
by eternalangel
(Hufflepuff)



Theodore Nott was not his father.

It was a point he had striven all his life to prove. To be the son of a Death Eater was equivalent to most to being a Death Eater. This assumption was maddening to him because of the certainty he saw in everyone's eyes, that presumption of what his life would be with or without his consent. That certainty was the dull clank of shackles that had hovered over him all his life.

So why was he standing with the rest of his house after Pansy's great exclamation?

The nagging thought pricked his mind like a particularly onerous thorn. He had never been one to follow the opinion of the crowd, always preferring his solitary way. So as he stood, his heart racing and his body almost resistant to the action, that enigmatic question pranced in the space of his forethoughts. It stayed right beside him as he began the long walk out of the hall through the gauntlet of cold, hateful stares.

Theodore wasn't sure what it was he saw in his fellow student's faces that was worse: the disgusted disapproval of him being a coward or the smug vindication that he, the son of a Death Eater, would do no less than what he was doing now. Those perceptions rankled him and Theodore Nott was still at a loss to explain why.

You're doing exactly as you should be Theodore, a voice in his head stated.

It startled him to hear that particular razor sharp baritone. It was the voice of his father, which still managed to instill a small amount of fear in him, despite the distance he was from the true Theodore Nott Sr. He shook his head as he tried to clear it of the misguided notion that he had heard his father's voice.

You are doing what every righteous pure-blood would do. There is no sense dying for a lost cause.

This time, Theodore nearly stumbled when he heard the voice again. He knew that it was his own thoughts projecting themselves into a cohesive persona as they sorted themselves out, but why it had taken on that particular tone, Theodore could only make a vague guess. He felt a cold dread start to seep into him, causing a sheen of sweat to form on his forehead. To have his father's voice intrude upon the inner sanctum of his mind had started a slow panic inside him as he scrambled to understand why he heard that voice now.

Theodore was starting to doubt his own sanity. His father had always had that affect on him, terrifying him with his intractable points of view. Theodore Nott Sr. had no doubt in his mind that his son would follow in his footsteps and it was that arrogance of knowing just what Theodore would do that had made life at home almost unbearable.

When he was younger, Theodore had nearly accepted that this was what life was like. His father was a spiteful god, one that was subject to violent mood swings and exacting principles. Life was dreary in his home with his father. If his mother had been alive, then maybe his father would have been different, a far less angry man than he was. Maybe Theodore's life would have had some semblance of happiness and hope, but his gentle mother had died of an incurable disease and all gentleness that had been in his home had fled. It was only in his head that Theodore had found solace in those early years, the only place where he could see his mother as he remembered her. She had died when he was ten, never being able to send him off to Hogwarts as she had so wanted, the very Hogwarts he was now fleeing.

Nott cast his eyes around him at the beautiful Great Hall. He still remembered how this sanctuary had stolen the very breath from his lungs when he had first arrived. He had heard mention of it before, but he had still been struck with awe. He wondered if his mother had felt the same when she had first entered this very place.

Thinking of his mother sent a twinge of pain through him. She had been the only one who had truly loved him. Theodore had been there with his mother when she had died, holding her hand as she left the world, while his father had been off striking black market deals. As Theodore continued down the hall under the heat of everyone's glares, he couldn't help but feel that he was letting her down. She had never wanted her only son to be a Death Eater, no matter how obstinate his father was on the issue. If she were here, would she turn away from him as so many of his peers did as he passed them? Would she be disappointed that he was walking right into the life his father had always said he would lead, the life everyone had no doubt he would join?

At that thought, Theodore felt a wave of nausea pass through him. The idea of letting his mother down was enough to nearly stop him in his tracks. For Theodore Nott, leaving the Great Hall, turning his back on his peers on the eve of a great battle, was tantamount to him embracing his father's plan for his life.

It's for the best. What fool could think they could take on the Dark Lord and live? These kids don't know what you know, haven't seen what the Death Eaters are truly capable of as you have, slithered in his father's voice again.

This part was true. Theodore knew what the Death Eaters were willingly to do. He knew the truth behind the disappearances and the details about the tortures and murders. Growing up in home surrounded by hate and intolerance had made him turn inward. He knew that his childhood was not a typical pure-blood childhood. Draco and Pansy never had nightmares of what their father had done. They never had to wonder if they would be punished severely for any mistake he made. Only Draco had had a taste of what Voldemort was capable of, but only a taste of it. Theodore had grown up with it all his life.

And looking about him, he knew that these kids hardly stood a chance against the Death Eaters, witches and wizards who had had years of practice in dark magic and torture. Most had hearts of stone like his father or were insane like Bellatrix Lestrange.

Theodore was almost at the door and his eyes caught the eye of Susan Bones. He had sat next to her in Charms all year. Now he wondered if she would live to see the dawn. Would any of them? And that was when another thought in a new and stronger voice boomed in his head.

Voldemort is crossing the line!

Theodore couldn't stand the thought that his Hogwarts, the place that had been his sanctuary away from home, was going to be defiled tonight. He couldn't stand the fact that children were fleeing for their lives and others were going to die tonight in horrible ways. But mostly, he couldn't stand the fact that his mother's memory would be disgraced. She would have been horrified by the thought that Death Eaters waited outside Hogwarts, his father included, waiting and willingly to slaughter children. Where would such insanity stop? Until they were all dead or under Voldemort's command?

He realized then that he didn't want to follow in his father's footsteps. He didn't want to become the same cold and callous Death Eater that he saw in his father. He remembered all to clearly the sorrow he had seen in his mother's eyes in her last moments. It wasn't sorrow over her own fleeting life that had been cut too short, but it was in the horrible thought that she was leaving her only son in the hands of her cruel husband. Her greatest fear had been the idea that her son would grow up to be just like his father.

Theodore stopped.

He could feel the confusion in the Slytherins behind him as they ran into him, some attempting to push him forward, but Theodore would not budge. He stood exactly where he was, his eyes focused on the threshold in front of him. He stood in front of the door that led out of the Great Hall and he knew that this was it. His next step would determine what life he choose to lead.

If he stepped forward, his mind would admit defeat and acceptance of his predetermined life his father had always expected he would lead. One step would confirm that he still lived under the shadow of his father's power, that he could not make up his own mind. He would be safe and far from the battle, presumably on the side that would most likely win, but he would lose the part of his soul that was connected to his mother and her memory would wither away.

The pressure of the Slytherins grew tenser as confusion rose. His house mates couldn't understand why the son of a Death Eater had stopped. They couldn't understand why he wasn't running to his father's side to join the Death Eaters. He could feel shoulders and bodies hit him with more intentional force. The heat of eyes seared into him and angry curses hit his ears like hissing steam, but Theodore ignored it all.

All he could think about was that one step. Could he take it? Could he turn his back on the place that had been his home for so long? Theodore suddenly knew that this was more than just a physical battle they were about to wage. This battle was for the future of the wizarding world's hearts and minds. Freedom was at stake.

Theodore had reached the crux of his inner dilemma. Did he take the easy road and leave with all the other Slytherins? He had an out, but the question was, did he take it knowing that it would cost him his freedom. He knew if he left, he would always know that he had a chance to do what was right, had a chance to make his mother proud and he had turned his back on it. He would always remember that he had allowed Hogwarts to be violated and he had stood by and did nothing when the Death Eaters attacked and slaughtered children. Could he live with himself when that was the price for his safety?

Or should he stay, and become a pariah to his own house? He knew that the battle was clearly in Voldemort's favor. He knew that if any Death Eater saw him within these walls, he would be targeted first because traitors were dealt with harshly. He knew that in all probability he would never see the dawn and yet he would be free. He would have made his stand for what his heart knew to be right.

So did he listen to his heart or his mind?

The resistance behind him grew stronger as Slytherins became more and more violent. A hand grabbed his arm and yanked him around. Theodore found himself looking into Pansy's stern eyes as she whispered, " Nott, what the hell are you doing? Keep walking! Your father would be so ashamed of you if he saw you now!"

Theodore yanked his arm out of her hand. She had said the very thing that had made up his mind. If she had known his particular state of mind, she may not have mentioned Theodore's father. She would have known that mention of the Death Eater only reminded him that people still believed his life revolved around his father's opinion.

"Why don't you keep walking and mind your own business, Pansy!" Theodore snapped.

Pansy was stunned silent as well as the remaining few Slytherins who were near them. Nearly all of Slytherin was gone by now. Pansy stood with her mouth agape. She attempted to utter a coherent reply to Theodore's remark, but found herself incapable of it. Soon only Theodore and Pansy were the only two Slytherins left in the Great Hall, every eye from the other three houses on them.

"Theodore…but your father--"

"I am not my father!" Theodore raged. He grabbed Pansy's shoulders and turned her around, giving her a small push out the door. "You've made your choice Pansy and so have I. So just leave already!"

"You BLOOD TRAITOR!" Pansy snapped, spitting at his feet as she did so. She then turned and stormed out the door.

Theodore Nott found himself alone, the last Slytherin in the Great Hall. Behind him, a pregnant silence had fallen as if every one was holding their breath. Were some doubting his choice, afraid that he would turn and attack them? Theodore was sure some did wonder about his motive. Theodore turned slowly and faced the sea of shocked faces of his peers, every pair of eyes on him. Most would have been unnerved by the unswerving attention, but Theodore ignored this. He had bigger issues to worry about. They all did.

Theodore started back down the Great Hall, the one and only Slytherin. Gasps of surprise followed him in his wake as heads turned and followed him. He caught a few eyes as he passed. Some people gave him a nod of approval, others still standing dumbfounded by the turn of events. Some still looked at him with distrust and aversion. Theodore continued on. He had never been one to care what people thought of him. This was his choice and he wasn't going to be swayed by the opinion of anyone.

Theodore found himself back at his house table faster than he had left it. His stride had been purposeful, each step taken by his own choice. He had changed his destiny. He could no longer hear his father's voice in his head and he realized then that his father would no longer control him as he used to. He knew that it may only last for the night. He may be dead before the dawn, but for once Theodore felt as if a heavy weight, that he hadn't even known was there, lift from his shoulders. He had no master but himself and for once in his life, Theodore Nott was free.

Chapter 44: Penance
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Penance
by RonsGirlFriday
(Ravenclaw)



"Hell is yourself and the only redemption is when a person
puts himself aside to feel deeply for another person."
(Tennessee Williams)



Percy ran.

Neither towards danger nor away from it; neither with a particular purpose nor completely random. He just ran.

And yet every direction was towards danger, and every single solitary movement was done with purpose and yet without thinking; for they were surrounded, infiltrated, as chaos and confusion and uncertainty reigned.

Forwards and backwards, up stairways and down corridors, and around in circles, knowing that where he was didn't matter so much as what he was doing, fighting alongside perfect strangers and old friends alike; feeling a sense of responsibility for their lives like no responsibility he'd ever felt before; understanding that he belonged here, while at the same time comprehending how truly expendable he was in the eyes of this world.

He'd lost all sight of his family and was now coming to the aid of one of the Patil twins, halfway down a corridor that was otherwise deserted. Spells echoed off the stone walls with deafening cracks and clangs, until the massive Death Eater lay motionless on the floor. The Patil girl breathed a quick "Thank you" and dashed off in the direction of the Great Hall, where the melee was thickest. Percy leaned against the wall, the sounds of angry hexes still ringing in his ears.

A terrified shriek, coming from an adjoining corridor, caught his attention, and he sprinted around the corner in time to see a wand clattering against the ground and a stooped Death Eater bearing down on its Disarmed owner. The Death Eater raised his wand –

"Stupefy!" yelled Percy.

The girl shrieked again and scrambled out of the way as the hooded figure was thrown forward, landing just to the right of where she had been crouched.

Percy stumbled a bit as he caught sight of the girl's unruly curls and angular features, all of which were covered with bits of dirt and debris.

"Penny!"

She shared his look of surprise, but there was also a wariness in her gaze that he did not share. Whereas Percy felt an inexplicable sense of relief upon seeing her, Penny looked almost the opposite. Without responding, she began scooting along the floor towards her wand; she was sniffling, and there was something not quite right about the way she was moving.

"Penny!" he repeated, dropping to his knees beside her. "You're hurt!"

She held her left arm gingerly, as though it were broken, and there was a deep gash across her left shoulder. Percy tore his eyes away from the injury – he never did very well with blood.

"I'm fine," she said through gritted teeth, and he noticed her eyes were red from crying. He also noticed she was still avoiding looking at him. "I just need my wand – "

"No, let me – "

"I don't need your help!"

Glancing at the gash on her shoulder again, he fought back the nausea pressing in on him and stammered on.

"Be – be reasonable, Penny – come on – "

"Get out of it, Percy!"

But Percy was past the arguing. Before Penny could say another word, he had already seized her around the waist, pulling her into a recess behind a nearby statute that was chipped, cracked, and dirtied beyond all recognition. She didn't struggle much – she was, after all, in no physical condition to resist, which was exactly why he needed to get her out of harm's way. Once he was sure that she was well hidden, he darted back out to retrieve her wand and then knelt down again to face her. His mind was reeling, and not just from the blood; it had been over two years since he had so much as looked her in person.

Bringing his focus back to her injury, he tore off his jumper and held it against the gash on her arm to stem the flow of blood. He was bollocks at Healing spells when it came to serious injuries like this. It wasn't something he liked to admit, but really, they hadn't taught those sorts of spells in school, and he worked for the Ministry, not St. Mungo's.

He looked at her face again, simply happy to know she was alive. He hadn't been sure, though he'd thought about it nearly every day since the Ministry began its blood status inquisition.

"So." Her voice, full of hostility even while it trembled with pain, cut across his little moment of solace. "Which side are you here with?"

Percy blinked and scrambled to find his voice amidst his shame.

"I – er - okay, I know I deserve that," he admitted finally.

Smack!

"Argh!" His hand flew to his stinging cheek. It seemed Penny's right arm was still in perfect condition. "Ow. I – yeah, that too."

Penny seemed to be beyond words at this point; she simply glared at Percy, who averted his eyes and concentrated on pressing the balled-up jumper gently against her shoulder. When he dared to look up at her, he saw in her expression all sorts of terrible things he didn't want to acknowledge, but knew he had to. And then, without warning, she began crying all over again, more violently than before, as though each sob were wrenched from her against her will - and even someone as emotionally daft as Percy Weasley could tell it had nothing to do with her arm.

"I – oh, no, don't – Penny, don't – um – "

Damn it, Percy, he chastised himself as he stumbled over his words like an idiot. Why couldn't he just spit it out? He'd had so many words at the ready when she walked out that day, many of them harsh, and all in defense of himself and his absurdly indefensible behavior, when what he really should have said was -

"I'm sorry," he finally managed. "I'm so sorry. I'm sorry."

He lost count of how many times he repeated it – it really didn't matter, as he had so much to atone for. He was sorry for what he had become. He was sorry for hurting her back then. He was sorry for the pain she was feeling now.

He knew he was responsible – however small a role he may have played – for helping to bring about the madness that was taking place all around them. He would never stop feeling sorry about that. And now it had come full circle – it had come for the last person who had attempted to make him see reason.

His apologies lapsed into an awkward silence, during which he waited for Penny's tears to subside and her breathing to steady. Distant battle sounds echoed in nearby corridors, and every so often a pair of feet belonging to a solitary student scampered by, but their little alcove seemed very quiet.

Percy nodded stiffly towards her injured arm. "Who did this?"

Penny shrugged with her good shoulder and inclined her head in the direction of the unidentified Death Eater, who still lay where Percy had Stunned him. "He was about to – well, I don't know what he was about to do." She paused before whispering, "Thank you."

Percy just nodded again.

"We need to get you somewhere safe," he said after another moment's silence. "You can't keep hanging around here with your arm like that, and I can't mend it." He looked around, as though expecting an infirmary to sprout out of the wall.

"I'm not going to hide, not when people are dying, and besides, where in this castle is 'safe,' exactly?"

"Well – we could get you to the Room of Requirement – it's safe in there, that's where my sister is – or at the very least, you should stay here, where nobody can – "

"Maybe you didn't hear me," she cut across him. "I'm not going to hide."

"I did hear you, and you're being stupid."

She opened her mouth to speak again, and panic flooded over him. Why couldn't she see? She was in so much danger just due to who she was, and now in her weakened state… Had she not seen the brutality of the past hour in every hall and on every staircase? Oh, why couldn't she have gone into hiding and saved herself?

The words came rushing out before he could stop himself.

"Why did you even come here?"

She raised an eyebrow at him. "Why did you?"

Because, he acknowledged silently, he had finally confronted the truth she tried to make him see two years earlier.

You have turned your back on every person who has ever cared about you. Including me.

Before he could respond, a jet of red light soared over the statue and crashed into the wall above them, raining down pieces of stone. Percy stifled Penny's scream with his hand and peered down the corridor, where the sounds of dueling were growing ever closer.

To his horror, Percy saw his own brother backing into view, pursued by two hooded figures firing wayward curses.

"Oi!" shouted Fred to nobody in particular. "A little help over here? Impedimenta! Where the sodding hell is George when you need him? Stupefy!"

Percy was not George – but he was Fred's brother all the same. He turned to Penny with a torn, apologetic look.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I should…"

He trailed off helplessly, gesturing towards his brother by way of explanation.

Penny nodded, a small smile on her face. "Yes, I quite agree," she replied. "You really should."

He snorted as he pushed himself off the ground. "Right. You told me so."

"Yes. I did."

"Stay here," he pleaded, before running off to join Fred. "I'll come back."

He jumped out from his hiding spot and deflected a curse fired by one Death Eater as Fred ducked a hex from the other.

"Percy!" shouted Fred amiably, his face positively lighting up. "Look at you! You really can do something besides push papers with that thing!"

Percy laughed in spite of himself, and the battle continued down the corridor.

Chapter 45: Brave
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Brave
by CessZ
(Gryffindor)



I sit here, basking in my glory, basking in my triumph and victory. I sit here smiling at everyone who congratulates me or thumps my back. I sit here with a knot of fervent admirers with Gryffindor's sword by my side. I sit here, having achieved everything I ever wanted and yet I am not happy. She died. I had asked her to leave, but she didn't. She stayed back for me, it is my fault she is dead.

"Neville," she playfully called from the shadows.

"Kristy," he called back, "it's not funny, come back here!"

Kristy stepped out of the shadows and hugged the soaking wet Neville from behind.

"Caught you," Neville said playfully, pulling her in front of him.

"No, I caught you Mr. Longbottom", she replied hugging him tight.


No! I must not think of those memories. I must not suffer for what is gone. Gone. It is such a painful word isn't it? First my parents and now her. Everyone I care for, everyone I love leaves me and goes. I never even got a chance to tell her that I love her! She died trying to save me. How can I forget it? How can I forget her?

"Expelliarmus!"

"Stupefy!"

"Protego!"

"Crucio"

Different shouts could be heard everywhere. He was dueling Rodolphus. He had an account to settle. He had an upper hand in the battle. He was filled with a revived energy to kill the man who had separated him from his parents. He was about to kill Rodolphus when he heard a cry from behind him.

"Avada Kedavra!"

He turned back to see Kristy crumpling to the floor and a smug Rabastan pointing his wand towards her.


He didn't want to remember the rest of the bloody memory. All he knew was that by the time he was finished Rodolphus and Rabastan were both dead and it was not an honorable death! He had avenged her death, but what good did it do? She would never come back.

He looked down sadly at the sword. He thought about what had happened and couldn't find a logical explanation for what had happened.

I saw Voldemort wave his wand. Seconds later, out of one of the castle's shattered windows, something that looked like a misshapen bird flew through the half light and landed on Voldemort's hand. He shook the mildewed object by its pointed end and it dangled, empty and ragged: the Sorting Hat.

"There will be no more Sorting at Hogwarts School", he said. "There will be no more houses. The emblem, shield and colors of my noble ancestor, Salazar Slytherin, will suffice for everyone, won't they, Neville Longbottom?" he asked me.

I was gripped by fear. What had I done? What had I gotten myself into?

Voldemort pointed his wand at me and I felt my body go rigid and still. He forced the Hat on my head and it slipped below my eyes. Beneath the curse my body was trembling. I was SO scared. Not at all brave. Why was I in Gryffindor?

"You are not a coward", a voice whispered in my ear.

"You are the bravest boy I have ever met", whispered another.

I opened my eyes to see both my parents on either side of me.

"We are very proud of you", my father whispered with a smile on his face. "You are a true Gryffindor."

"Sorry we weren't around much", my mother said with tears in her eyes.

The Sorting Hat on my head was set ablaze and I didn't how to free myself.

"What should I do now?" I tried to shout out.

They seemed to have read my mind. "You are a true Gryffindor", my father whispered again and with that they were gone.

Suddenly I found my self freed from Voldemort's curse. The Sorting Hat fell from my head and I caught a gleam of silver.

"Kill the snake", Harry had told me. I pulled out the sword and slashed off Nagini's head in one fluid motion.


The rest was history now. I had proved I was a true Gryffindor. But not without the help of my parents and Kristy. My memory reminded me that however far I thought my loved ones were, they would always remain close to my heart.

"Oooh, look, a Blibbering Humdinger!" Luna cried.

I smiled. Everything was going to be okay. All would be well.



A/N: Everything you recognize belongs to JK Rowling and whatever you don't recognize belongs to me!

All quotes are taken from Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows pgs 586 & 597.


Chapter 46: No More
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No More 
by 1917farmgirl and theelderwand
(Gryffindor)




"I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

-Bhagavad Gita




I grieve.



Do you see what you have done, what you have caused? They are my children, all of them. Even you. Even you.



Once.



When I first took you into my warm embrace, you were scared, neglected, unloved. I gave you warmth, I gave you shelter, I gave you knowledge. You lived in me, you took from me, you coveted me.



But you never loved me.



How did you repay my kindnesses? You killed my children, set them one against another. Confronted with love, you dealt death and horror.



I know now. I know you. I've known for years, long before the others suspected. A mother knows her child's soul, even when it's hidden from the world, and yet I looked away, hoped it somehow wouldn't be. A mother's dreams and grief. But my grief, my
warmth has its limits.



The blood of my dead children cries out for it to end – Myrtle, James, Lily, Sirius, Albus, and countless others. The hearts of my wronged children cry out for justice - Hagrid, Alice, Frank. And Harry, the child whose life you've sought for sixteen years? He's here, now. He's come for you.



I was made to shelter and protect, born to guard and stand watch. But that is not all I can do and I have watched in silence for too long. I have suffered you. I have suffered your Carrows. I have suffered your horrors. I cannot permit it to continue. I will not allow you to continue.



I will suffer no longer.



And I am not alone. My faithful children whom I lovingly sent out into the world are now returning, forced to a crossroads they did not choose, their anger roused. They will abide your terror no longer. These defenders, these kindred souls, finally pushed beyond the limits of endurance, will be my vengeance laid upon you.



You've summoned another mother's wrath as well. She will come for your Bellatrix. You should fear her, but you do not. We are the same she and I, loving our children, but knowing even love has limits. There is a point at which our tolerance will break and justice will be meted out.



That time is now.



Albus suspected my power, grasped it. Only a truly powerful Headmaster or Headmistress ever could. Minerva has assumed that mantle now. She is strong...and you have kindled her anger. It will consume you like dross before the flame, for she stands with me, invokes me unaware.



Your time is near its end.



"Hogwarts is threatened! Man the boundaries, protect us, do your duty to your school!"*



Her call.



She cast spells at statues and suits of armor, simple words meant to merely charm bits of stone and steel. But she has done so much more. Unwittingly, she has summoned me, freed me, as only the Head can do.



I will answer.



I will watch no more.



You, my prodigal son, will know my anger.



Every statue, every suit of armor shall be my arms stretched out to war. My walls will be the stones on which you break.



And Harry, he will end you.



A mother's love runs deep and strong, stronger than stone; but you have stirred the fury of more than one tonight. His mother's blood and mine will protect him. You may slay more of my children, but not after this night's work is done.



No more, Tom. No more. You scorned a mother's love, rebutted a mother's mercy and forgiveness, now you will know a mother's wrath.



*Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by JKR, Scholastic Press, p. 602 (2007)



AN: Special thanks is owed to lilausty whose take on Hogwarts in "Eclipse of Time" helped to inspire this tale.

Chapter 47: The Bathroom
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The Bathroom
by foundriapenguin
(Ravenclaw)



As the wall next to her exploded, Moaning Myrtle, resident bathroom ghost, exploded into tears as well. Her home, the girls' bathroom of Hogwarts, was being destroyed right before her very eyes. The sinks were barely fastened to the walls anymore, but thankfully the stalls still stood in their rightful places. The sight made Myrtle feel so wretched and helpless; where would she go after her only home was truly and completely annihilated?

Soft footsteps approached her. "Watch out for the Wrackspurts, Myrtle."

Myrtle's head snapped up wildly and she frantically looked around, but she saw nothing. "Oh, it's you," Myrtle scoffed. "Loony, there's nothing around up here."

Luna Lovegood just smiled serenely at her. "Oh, the Wrackspurts are here all right. They're invisible and they make your brain go fuzzy. Of course, I don't know if they would affect you since you're a ghost, you know?"

If possible, more ghostly tears welled up in Myrtle's eyes. "Yes, just bring up the fact that I'm dead, Loony! You're so insensitive! My home is being destroyed and you just sit there, blabbering about those -- those whatchamacallits! Those -- "

"Wrackspurts," Luna replied, calmly moving several strands of hair out of her eyes. "And they are real, Myrtle. Who knows what creatures you can find out there, outside of these walls? Blibbering Humdingers...Crumple Horned Snorkacks...they're all so fascinating."

Sniffing, Myrtle wrapped her robes closer around her as if they would be protection from the damage to her home. "Aren't you a Ravenclaw? How can you say that those strange things exist when you're supposed to be smart?"

"Crying doesn't give you answers," Luna countered steadfastly to Myrtle's biting remarks. Try as she might, Myrtle managed to puncture Luna's pride as she questioned the house she was put into at a time like this where the "houses" were just an uncanny remnant of the past.

"You--" Myrtle shrieked as a resounding boom echoed in the castle. "You are completely crazy! First you bring up the Wrackspurts and then you insult ME! Oh yes, everyone make fun of poor Myrtle! Moaning Myrtle, lazy Myrtle! Myrtle, who got imprisoned at the place of my terrible death!"

A red jet of light flew narrowly past Myrtle's head and hit one of the sinks. It immediately exploded and she screamed, a shaking finger pointed at Luna. "YOU! YOU ATTACKED ME!"

Luna's wand was still pocketed in her robes. "I did no such thing," she protested. "There is a battle going on out there, you know."

Myrtle disappeared into one of her toilet stalls, sobbing. "I know that! You're bonkers, Loony Lovegood!" In an attempt to make herself feel better, she taunted the unperturbed blonde girl more. "Loony, Loony, Lovegood!"

The ground shook and suddenly the all of the pipes broke. Water flowed everywhere, over the sinks, the tiles, and the toilets. It splashed against the walls violently, beating against them repeatedly.

Myrtle had created her own ocean. Her emotions had reached the breaking point, and that added with the destruction already present in the bathroom completely wrecked what was left.

In wonder, Luna remained in the midst of the sloshing water, surveying the scene. She could have never guessed the extent of Myrtle's powers.

"What are you still doing here?" Myrtle shrieked. She completely lost it after witnessing the bathroom's true obliteration as she flung herself in Luna's direction. "OUT! Out of my bathroom!"

Luna began to walk out of the bathroom in the face of deadly flashes of spells and curses. "Oh, Myrtle," she said happily, looking at the sky, "you're just as sane as I am."

A/N: Thank you long_live_luna_bellatrix for beta-ing this for me!

Chapter 48: Through the Eyes of the Gods
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Through the Eyes of the Gods
by searching4neverland (wildcat)
(Gryffindor)



The gods of Olympus are majestic. Theirs is the glory of every trouble that reverberates on earth. The life they touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place their touch will be felt. But the gods are fickle creatures, they are bored easily, angered even more effortlessly and hold their grudge for eternity. A silly argument of which goddess is more beautiful can cause ten years of war and an entire city to disappear. The gods don’t have much respect for human life, but the world of men will always be their battlefield. Men’s wars are the wars of the gods as well.

In their magnificence, they seldom understand men, but they understand their weaknesses and love them for their passions as one would love its most prized position. They single out some of them sometimes and play with them, like children with toys, until they break them. Then it’s time to chose a new one. They don’t realize, or most likely don’t care that upon the earth, the games they play are taken very seriously and do terrible damage.

Athena and Aphrodite, for example, never agreed on anything, their fight sometimes getting so Hysterical that Zeus had to intervene to stop the anger from spreading into a battle.

“Why did you have to trick him to death? You only did it to spite me!” Aphrodite was furious, her brilliant hair spinning around her like sunlight in her rage. Her most beloved human had just now made his entry into the kingdom of Hades and she was determined to show how displeased she was. Athena on the other hand was as cal as ever.

“That man was never yours, and that is the thing that spites you, not his death.” Athena would never understand this love that her sister so proclaimed was above all things. It only mad men’s minds confused and brought them to a swifter demise, as if their lives weren’t short enough already. She heard Aphrodite’s cry of rage as reverberated through the heavens, but she knew that Goddess of Love would have never dared to attack her. Not even Zeus’s lightings could pass through her shield.

Aphrodite fled Olympus in fury, determined to get her revenge. Ever since the affair with Paris prince of Troy and that silly golden apple, she and Athena had never found themselves on the same side of a battle. Even if they didn’t want to, they would help different sides just to spite each other. Through centuries those two alone caused more wars that Anya, the goddess of chaos herself. By the time one would hurt the other, some plan earlier devised would take its action on the first and so on, for eternity… which as nothing at all in the gods yes. Time is such a curious thing for them, like a river they could bathe in, it took all shapes against their forms, molding like water to their wishes.

But men take it so seriously. For them time had only one direction, from past to present and into the future. If anyone was to tell them that it could flow to the contrary of that, that the past chases the future – which happens often – or that past present and future can meet in the same point, they would be most confused.

But even for the gods, some events are marked. As the final battle of the world of wizards approached, the gods in Olympus got restless and anxious. Still that fateful night, when all the universe was in motion, the gods were ordered to stay put in their home in the clouds and none dared go against Zeus’s orders. None of the gods could reconcile with the fact that now that all fates would be decided, he wanted them to keep out of the battle. They all had their favorite in the mist of all the chaos, each choosing a side and the only goddess that was unwelcome by both sides was Anya, the goddess of Chaos.

Athena, who was always one to favor those with the brightest mind, has a soft spot for both leaders of the movement, but it’s her favorite human soul that makes her choice for her. She goes wherever he goes, because he is her pet, so much loved that no one could compare to him since the time of Odysseus.

Severus Snape, with his brilliant mind has always held an otherworldly seduction for her. She had gifted him with his uncanny wit and watches over him fiercely as he battles in the names of his love and his regret. Love… It’s not like Athena has something against the feeling itself, but at the damages that it does to the soul of men. She admits that it makes these weak, fragile creature so extraordinary things in its name, but in the end, she always wonders if it’s worth it. Thought eternity of thinking about it, she still hasn’t found an answer. The sadistic games that the goddess of love plays can put Mars and his violent, carnal brutality to shame. Aphrodite always plays with her food before she finishes it. She fills the minds and hearts of men with silly dreams, presents them with the illusion of love to lure their adoration and then breaks their hearts, scarring their souls. In all her millenniums, Athena had yet to see a love story that ended well for both lovers.


She has always resented Aphrodite for contaminating her creation with that weakling feeling. She did it in revenge, because Athena had once stolen her one of her playthings, some Merlin or other. Athena herself has often tried to dissuade Severus from this weakness, but he was adorned with the will of the gods that she herself has driven into his heart, a heart that is true to the one it chooses. If he were not her own perfect creation, she would have been thwarted and resent him for his unrelenting stubbornness. But instead she loves him and in her love watches him from above and guides his hand, closes his mind against those who try to invade it.



Her fury is implacable when she senses pale-faced death approach her favorite human, moments before the battle breaks. Her wrath startles even the King of the Gods and he tries to calm her soul, but she refuses is gentleness and shows stubbornness in the face of his threats. She flees down Olympus against her father orders, a storm following her on her heel. The other gods are not to be treated any differently and Zeus is forced to give them permission to leave the celestial crown and join the battle with their humans.



Athena is the first to come upon land, instantly down with the mortals. She knew that the three Fate sisters are here, enjoying the scent of fresh blood to come but even she does not dare anger them, for even the gods are at their whimsical mercy. Instead she chooses to fight off Death herself, just to give her most loved possession the time to give his life a meaning, in the last gurgles of breath he has left. She would have loved nothing more than to make the emerald-eye boy her own, but all deities are forbidden from touching him… his mother’s sacrifice extends farther than he will ever know, saving him from the flimsy plays of the gods above and below.



Afterwards, when her Severus has passed on the last bit of himself, she takes him gently by the hand and does something she has not done even when her Odysseys passed the gates of Hades: she escorts him herself to the bricks of the river of the dead, assuring him of a peaceful travel in the afterworld.



Unknown to her, Persephone, the beautiful wife of the god of the afterlife, sits in a throne of gold, is waiting patiently for the soul of one man, the one man that has always fascinated her. His soul is strong and bright, more so than the fading others that are coming through the river Stinks these past few centuries. It has been long since she has seen a heart so strong and a mind so clear, in such a hurt but beautiful and complex soul. It has been since the days of the great Achilles that she has not seen such passion. Her unconcealed interest makes Hades proud forehead wrinkle in disapproval. Associating with the souls of mortals is tedious and can be dangerous, but most importantly of all, it’s forbidden - even to the gods. But his wife is not to be dissatisfied, she will have her way. And as she invites the bright soul of Severus Snape to join her for a few words, he feels the tinge of jealousy, which surprises him.



He turns to his side fast enough to see the fleeing robe of Anya, the goddess of anarchy and chaos and hears her fleeing laughter. He could set to catch her and he would, and then send her for a dive in the black tar river that sneaks around the walls of Syracuse, the city of fire, where all the evil souls get their retribution. But he wouldn’t be bothered and she is out too fast. He shall send word to his brother Zeus to punish her accordingly for coming into his kingdom without permission… but knows that the sniveling Anya is at no ones obedience. She loves to make a mess of the gods’ plans, making troubles is her pride and joy. The Castle of Magic has been her playground these past few months, as she jumped from one side to another, creating confusion and escaping punishment like only she could.



But what was she doing in the kingdom of the dead anyhow? All living and dead things knew that she was afraid of the underworld’s darkness and of Gaya’s ancient prophecy of her getting trapped in it. But when he saw the soul of the Weasley twin, one of Anya’s own chosen one, he understood why she had defied her fears only this once… but even in her grief the insufferable goddess could be a nuisance.



But no matter now, new souls are coming in, right from the battle that is divulging up there, and he is anxious for the Chosen Boy to find his destiny and complete it, to send him his reward in the form of the black soul of the man that has dared spark his resentment by bending the laws of nature and Death. Hades, he who by nature the most peaceful and calm of all the gods and titans, never takes interest in any battles, unlike his brothers and sisters in Olympus. He knows that all of them end in the same way – before his feet. But this one is different. He has a long lasting brawl with the leader of the Hooded Men, and cannot wait to get his hands on the one that has been avoiding his shaded kingdom for so long. The whips and flames in the depths of hell are crackling with desire to fasten on his soul and work on… but they are patient, for surely, a human cannot avoid them forever, not even a cunning one like the Snake above.



But the seed of jealousy has now been planted in him and he is not pleased at all to see his young wife enjoying herself that much with a mere human soul. He is tempted to send this soul to the gates of burning Syracuse, to be met there with the whips and chains – the punishment for all his earthly sins that are neither few, light nor easy to forgive. But Persephone is outraged.



“Should you let petty feelings get the better of you, husband, where would humans find their peace? Is the god of the afterlife going to be as whimsical as the others and toy with the last hope of these unfortunate souls for justice?”



But this is not what could placate the god of the underworld. Hades is even angrier that this mere soul has turned his beloved against him and is ready to show it just how much his ager can compare to the most fierce vengeance of Zeus himself, but his beautiful wife senses his mood and she placates him with gentleness instead of calls for righteousness… for the gods are fickle… more alike humans than they will ever understand.



“My love, my lord, you have always had my admiration for being the just among whimsical gods and their inconsiderate desires that so destroy the lives of these fragile humans.” She feels his anger concentrate in his breast, but he does not fly into the rage she fears, so she takes heart and goes on.



“Be the husband I love, give this soul the serenity it deserves for all that it has suffered. Let him travel the fields of peace.” At her touch and gentle words, the god of the underworlds lets his anger fade and as he speaks and grants this soul that so impressed his wife, the afterlife of peace he has earned, his mind is already working on a plan on how to punish Anya for the treacherous feeling that she dared put in his breast.



But the object of Hade’s revenge is now far away from his reach, above on the ground. The castle of magic has been her favorite home for quite some time now. Trouble seems so easy there. Infusing anarchy and disobedience in the heart of the young has never been so much fun, but being around wizards too much is also dangerous. Wizards are not quite as tedious as common mortal, even if the other gods refuse to see this. Once, a few centuries ago, she was almost caught by four of them, as she wrecked havoc in the castle. It was a knight and a lord that almost trapped her, using the plan of a witch that seemed to always know when she was there, and the strength of another that was so impossibly difficult to get to because she was just so good. Anya snorted at the memory.



But that is not what is on Anya’s mind in that instant. The two twins are her masterpiece and Juno just ruined it. She is angry with the vain queen for taking her frustration with her husband out on one of her beloved twins, but no matter, because words to Zeus has already been send word and he has taken care of her. Anya laughs cheekily at the face of the queen of the gods as she hangs upside down from the heavens.



Juno had once again outdone herself and gotten herself into trouble. - Thinking that Zeus, her husband, was secretly keeping the side of the wizards of the Phoenix, she wanted to wrong him in revenge for his latest escapade with some nymph that she had yet to punish… so she tried to trap the Chosen Boy underneath the ruins of an explosion in the midst of the full blown battle. Who would ever know what had happened?... But she should have known better than to defy the Three Sister of Fate. The chosen Boy’s string was not anyone’s to pull but theirs, and they showed Juno her punishment when they out her in the path of Demetra’s revenge. Because the one trapped in the ruins was not the Chosen Boy, but the Weasley twin.



It was Demetra, goddess of fertility and the protector of all mothers, that was keeping an eye on the Weasley matriarch. Out of all the gods, perhaps Demetra is the one that loves mortals most honestly, because she loves them for what they are and respects their frailty. She is a mother and all mother are the same, mortal and immortal. And she respects the Weasley woman for all the life that she has brought on earth and the fierceness with which she protects it. So when life was snatched out of one of the precious fire-haired children, Demetra’s wrath was so strong that Juno had to flee the battle to seek refuge up in the heavens… and not find it even there, because Demetra had chased her all the way. The goddesses went around the world fifty times before Demetra finally put her hand around Juno’s neck and brought her to Zeus’s feet, demanding retribution.



“If not for the sake of a life lost, then do it for your wronged pride, lord of heaves, for she wronged you and disobeyed you order. Had it not been for the mother’s sacrifice, the Chosen One would be in Hade’s kingdom by now.”


And Juno got her fair punishment for trying to temper fate – she was to hang by her ankles from the celestial crown, swinging upside down for all the gods to see, for three days and three nights…, which by earth time would count as many, many years, before Zeus forgives her, and allows Vulcan to cut her loose.

Down on earth, the battle has stilled and the gods are watching. Watching as destiny finally unfolds and the last piece clips together. They all watch, with interest, but none of them interfering as the Chosen One dies and comes back. Indeed he is not dead, because Hades never claims him, but he is not alive either. This thing is farther than even their immortal reach can go and Aphrodite swells her breast proudly, vainly showing off to the other god what her love can do.

But the calm that goes on earth is merely the breath before the storm, as the battle begins again. Demetra is fast at the Weasley’s side, Panic and Pain snicker perched on the shoulder of the one who loved them most, a strange conglomerate creature of the name of Bellatrix Black. Aphrodite whispers strength in the hearts of those who love as Athena watches from afar without the slightest bit of interest. Apollo is doing Demetra’s binding, as a favor for his friend, as he helps a platinum-haired family find each-other in the midst of the battle and Mars is hauling behind the vest of the Dark Lord – the god of war being the only one that can savor the violence and heat of battle that the strange soulless creature carries with him.

It is then that everything ends, with the first beam of light of the new day. The gods bear witness to the beginning of a new era, once again. This war ends as the one that started it leaves this world for the other, where what is left of his soul is long overdue… and life goes on.

Thought all the battles that men have, the gods are always there, taking their parts in them and men should not be surprised at all. Because the truth is that the gods are majestic and immortal, theirs is the glory, the magnificence…, and the envy. Because the gods have all eternity and men do not. Men’s existence is brief and thus intense. That’s why it’s called life and not merely existence and because of that, everything in men’s life is more beautiful… and the gods will forever envy that, and create new endless brawls, just so they can have a taste of what it means to live.


Chapter 49: Hope
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Hope
by Melian
(Gryffindor)



Even living in Romania with his dragons, Charlie had known what was happening with the Ministry back in England. Heck, he'd been at Bill's wedding when they'd found out that Scrimgeour had been killed and the Death Eaters had taken over. Through letters from his parents, too, he'd known what was happening at Hogwarts and what his baby sister was being subjected to. Therefore, when the call to arms had come, he'd been one of the first to raise his hand to volunteer.

It wasn't just his own brawn and wand skills that he could contribute, though. Charlie boasted one of the best affinities with magical beasts of any wizard alive, and he had high hopes of galvanising some of the inhabitants of the Forbidden Forest to join in the fight against Voldemort.

And so, one night in early May, Charlie found himself marching up to the castle from the main gates. After checking in with his father and Bill, who were easily found in the vicinity of the Great Hall, Charlie grabbed a few likely souls and headed on down to the forest. He would have liked to have engaged Hagrid in this activity but apparently the big man was somewhere upstairs defending the castle, so Charlie would have to do this without him. Not to worry, he thought. He could do this alone, with his hands tied behind his back, if he needed to; the others were there to help control the beasts, if that became necessary.

The centaurs were the first intelligent creatures he found, and they were unsurprisingly hesitant to take part in a wizard's battle.

"It is not for us to decide," Bane said coldly.

"Indeed not," Magorian agreed. "This night has been forseen for many years, and nowhere was it said that the centaurs chose a side and joined in the battle."

Charlie just shrugged, knowing enough to not bother trying to convince them. If they wanted to join in, they would do it of their own accord. "Have it your way," he said. "But be aware that there could be a number of creatures willing to fight who could be coming this way shortly. You might want to stand aside for a bit." He paused. "And, of course, you might find the Death Eaters storming through here themselves soon enough, and they won't be nearly as polite as we are."

"You call this polite?" Magorian asked incredulously. "Invading our forest and asking us to offer our lives in a cause that is not our own?"

"I ask nothing," Charlie said. "I'm just telling it like it is. You can take it however you like." And, leaving them behind, he strode off deeper into the forest, his helpers following behind him.

Further in he had more luck with the hippogriffs, which consented to be led back to the castle by one of his helpers, though the Acromantulas were clearly itching to join the fight alongside the Death Eaters rather than the Order. Charlie could do nothing – he couldn't offer them human flesh to eat, like Voldemort would – and simply reminded himself to steer clear of that area. Finally, he found what he was looking for: Thestrals.

Charlie could see them, thanks to a horrific experience where he had witnessed the death of a colleague at the claws of a Swedish Short-Snout dragon, but he was aware that at least one of the people he had brought with him could not. "It's okay," he said reassuringly. "They're harmless if you know how to deal with them."

"And how do you deal with them?" the boy asked, his voice wavering.

"With respect, like you would any other creature in this forest," Charlie explained. "These ones are pretty tame – Hagrid keeps them well trained in case they're needed as a means of transport. Here, touch it." He grabbed the boy's arm and directed his hand towards the nearest beast's flank, letting him feel its skin.

"And what do we do now we've found them?" the boy asked.

Charlie grinned. "We join in the battle. On their backs." And he helped the younger wizards and witches onto the backs of the Thestrals, then clambered aboard one himself.

Before long they were soaring above the forest, moving swiftly in the direction of the castle. Below him, Charlie could see Death Eaters tracing his own footsteps, hurtling through the undergrowth, and was pleased that he had managed to get his group out in time. He didn't fancy a wand battle in the middle of the forest.

Sure enough, the Acromantulas were moving up the lawns to attack, and Charlie sent down a few hexes in an attempt to pause them, knowing as he did that a single curse wasn't powerful enough to actually make them stop. The Death Eaters, he saw now, had also recruited some giants, so it was up to him and his crew to try to confuse them enough to get them away from the castle.

Ducking and weaving, shooting curses and hexes at anything that looked like it was on the wrong side, Charlie managed to distract three or four of the giants and lure them away from the stone walls. Having successfully managed that, he flew low and managed to hit a couple with body-bind curses … not strong enough to hold them indefinitely, he knew, but strong enough put them out of action for a little while at least. Following his lead, his protégés did likewise, trying to cause enough havoc to keep as many Acromantulas and giants at bay as possible.

Out of the corner of his eye Charlie saw another group move out of the forest, perhaps in protest against the number of Death Eaters now beneath its boughs: the centaurs had finally decided to join in the battle. He went down to greet them.

"Changed your mind, eh, Magorian?" he asked cheerfully, still astride his Thestral. They were still some way from the castle and while Charlie could see its towers and the flashes of light therein, the main doors were obscured from view.

"The forest is full of Dementors," Magorian said solemnly. "We have been driven out. We do not wish for our forest to become home to such creatures."

"Good for you," Charlie said with a grin.

"It is almost over, though," said Bane. "Hagrid just passed us, carrying the body of Harry Potter …"

Charlie's heart sank. Harry was dead? But he'd been the figurehead, the person around whom the Order had focused their efforts. If he was dead, then a lot of people would lose hope. Anyone could see that.

"We have to do what we can," he said bracingly. "It's not over yet. While we still live, there's still hope."

"We will try," said Magorian, his voice grave, and Charlie knew that the centaurs would do everything in their power.

"What's happening?" asked one of the young wizards, who had landed nearby. "What's going on?"

"Harry Potter is dead," Charlie said, struggling to say the words. "But there is still hope." As he said the words, he realised their truth. Even if Harry WAS gone, it didn't mean that the rest of them couldn't still try their hardest to achieve victory. "The centaurs have joined in the battle. Come on, let's go to the castle." And, dismounting, he lit his wand and scrambled back to the main building, hurrying past a portly-looking wizard in emerald-green pyjamas and a number of grim-looking teenagers as he went.

He only just beat the centaurs into the Great Hall, almost deafened by the additional noise the clattering of their hooves on the stone floor made against the sounds of the battle. Wand flashing, he joined in, finding his father and duelling his way towards him, leaving a pile of defeated Death Eaters in his wake.

"Been a rough day," Arthur Weasley said as soon as they were close enough to talk.

Charlie nodded. His father looked old and weary, though grimly determined. "Harry?"

Arthur nodded. "Seems so," he said, his voice constricted. "But don't give up just yet," he went on, seemingly finding what was probably his ninth wind as he started to battle yet another opponent. Charlie joined in, and the hooded and masked figure was quickly dispatched. "There are more of us than there are of them," Arthur went on.

Charlie turned his head and looked around the Great Hall. His father was right – if attrition would win the day, then the Death Eaters were fighting a losing battle. His heart leapt, just a little.

"So … you think there really is hope?"

Arthur nodded, his gaze fixed on the living, breathing figure of Harry Potter that had suddenly, miraculously, appeared in the middle of the room, his wand trained on Voldemort himself. "I think so, Charlie. I think so."


---------------
A huge thank you to EmeraldCity for her beta work on this one-shot.

Chapter 50: Protection
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Protection
by foundriapenguin
(Ravenclaw)




Parvati Patil ducked a Stunning spell shot her way by a maniacal Death Eater. Was she really fighting? In Hogwarts? Against Death Eaters?


Why wasn't she in the Gryffindor Tower where she could be safe, alone, and hidden from these terrors? The Gryffindor Tower was where she and Lavender could sit down on their beds and gossip about boys, anything...and now it no longer stood, a beacon in the darkness gone.


A tear escaped the corner of her eye as she wailed, "Impedimenta!"


The Death Eater fell behind a pile of stone, and Parvati collapsed into a classroom. She was tired of fighting. She was so tired of doing all of this in vain. It was much too obvious that this was a lost cause, so why did she keep going? The Death Eaters just kept coming and coming from every direction; there was no end to them.


"Parvati! What are you doing?"


Padma Patil ran up to her, robes flailing as she jumped over pieces of fallen wood. "I've been looking everywhere for you."


"This--" Parvati's breath hitched as she tried to get the words out. "This is just terrible. What happened here? It's Hogwarts. Hogwarts! I'm fighting a Death Eater!"


"Yes, Parvati, I'm aware. We're all fighting Death Eaters." Padma winced as Parvati's nails dug into her skin at the condescending announcement. "Now it's time to get up. You can't just sit here and sob out the horrors of the world. That would take forever."


Parvati managed a weak smile as Padma yanked on her arm. "Do you think we'll make it out of this alive, Padma?"


Padma hesitated, afraid that Parvati would burst into tears again.


"Come on, Padma, you're smart. You must have an answer!"


"I do have one..."


"Well, out with it!" Parvati exclaimed, steeling herself for the worse.


Padma swallowed as she clutched her robes for strength. "Honestly..."


She had to force out the one word that denied hope.


"No."


Parvati's face froze as she took in the words. "Honestly, no." And Padma felt terrible. Guilty, even. How could she have just told that to her naïve sister, that they were going to die soon? Even though Parvati and Padma were twins, it was always a given that Padma was the elder, the one to look after Parvati. She had not protected her; she had opened her eyes to the terrible world instead.


As she carefully eyed her sister, Padma drew an arm around Parvati's shoulder comfortingly. "Come along now. Let's make the best of it."


"We're not just going to make the best of it," Parvati said suddenly, her eyes blazing with what could only be described as red fire. "For goodness' sake, Padma, we're going to beat the hell out of those Death Eaters. We're going to -- "


A crash sounded from behind them and the ground trembled. Parvati, a brazen look on her face, lost her balance and disappeared under the rubble, her bold words cut off like a knife. It was all so fast that Padma could hardly believe it it had even happened.


"PARVATI!" Padma screamed her sister's name in horror. She fell to her knees and began to dig through the rubble, desperately trying to find her lost sister. Her heart pounded forcefully through her head, through every fiber of her being. As a daughter, as a sister, as a twin, she had failed. Parvati was probably destroyed.


"It's no use, Padma," a voice above her said dully. "She's gone."


Padma slowly turned around to face a tall, red-haired wizard who had the look of utmost dejection on his face. "Ron Weasley," she said wonderingly.


She had not talked to Ron since the night of the Yule Ball all the way back in fourth year, and her impression of him had been terrible. He was a rude boy who ate too much and talked with his mouth full. But now, he was lined around the eyes with weariness, like he had seen it all -- death, suffering, Voldemort, who knows what else, even though he was the same age as her. She felt a pang for him inside. She did not know what it was, but she limply stuck out her hand for a shake. It was ignored.


"It happened to Fred."


"I'm sorry?" Padma's eyes widened at his morose tone.


"He went the same way." And Ron told her how Fred and Percy had made jokes, the moment so fun, light, unbelievable.


Until the ground shook and rubble overtook him.


The situation was so close, so similar to Parvati's that Padma's eyes now blazed with fire similar to Parvati's, except it was blue fire this time. The blue fire of Ravenclaw, her house. This could not happen to Parvati. She could not die.


"It did not happen to Parvati," she uttered after a tense silence, her fists clenching at her sides. "It did not. It did not. It did not."


The words pounded through her brain, It did not, it did not. Her heart rate sped up at those words, the hope that Parvati was still alive. And she remembered the connection between her and Parvati, the one between all twins. She knew that she would have felt it when Parvati was truly gone, and with a burst of determination, she whipped her back on Ron to face the ominous pile of rubble. Her wand in front of her, she yelled, "Wingardium Leviosa!"


Ron, who's first successful spell had been exactly that while facing a gigantic troll in first year, was shocked. No, he was astounded. His mouth agape, he watched as Padma Patil, one of those snooty Ravenclaws, lifted up thousands of rocks as one mass, revealing the broken form of her sister who lay on the ground underneath them, unmoving.


Padma's hand shook at the sight, but she managed to maintain the connection. "Get her out," she said through gritted teeth. When Ron did not respond, she bellowed at him. "GET HER OUT!"


The boulders gently wavered in the air as he rushed forward and gently picked up Parvati. It seemed all was well, that Parvati was safe, until Death Eaters in their hooded cloaks ran to overtake them.


"NO!"


The rocks separated from their giant mass and they were flying through the air at once. It was an unbelievable sight; no one could believe that Padma Patil had so much power, so much drive. The rocks chased Death Eater after Death Eater, hitting their targets individually while Ron ran with Parvati to Padma's side. The rocks created a huge gale, making Padma's hair whirl around her head. No one could doubt that she was truly a witch.


Parvati stirred on the ground by Padma's feet, and with a heavy exhale of her breath, Padma's concentration broke, the remaining rocks thudding to the ground.


"Parvati, Parvati!" she cried, anxiously shaking her sister.


Ron hurriedly got out his wand and whispered, "Ennervate."


Parvati rubbed her eyes. "How did I get out? All of those rocks were on top of me and I blacked out...you must have done something to protect me again, Padma. You always do." A corner of her mouth went up as she attempted a smile.


Padma, tears running down her cheeks in relief, returned it with her own identical one. "It's a story I'll tell after you get some rest. Come on, let's go to Madam Pomfrey."

Chapter 51: A Reason to Fight
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A Reason to Fight
by Oh_Sugar_Quills
(Hufflepuff)


The noises from the battle echoed through the corridors, getting louder as the battle progressed. All of the house-elves were standing around the kitchen quietly, not knowing what they should do. A few quiet whimpers could be heard coming from Winky, who was sitting on an old wooden stool beside of the fireplace, butterbeer in hand.

Kreacher stood near her, deep in thought. He had served the Black family for years, being ordered to do whatever they didn't want to, but now he wasn't ordered like he was back then, and he liked that. He didn't consider himself a free elf, but something close to it. Dobby was a free elf, he had been paid for his work, Kreacher, however, wasn't. He just did it because that's what he did all of his life, and he didn't know anything else. One thing that he learned from serving the Black family, was that you should stand up for what you believe in. That's what Regulus did, and Kreacher really admired that about him.

A thought struck him, and he stepped cautiously toward the center of the room.

"We should fight," He said in a whisper.

No one heard what he had said, so he said it louder.

"We should fight!" He said again.

This time all of the house-elves stopped what they were doing and looked at him.

"We don't have to just stand around and do nothing" They were looking at him like he had a blast-ended skrewt on his head. "Think about Dobby! He did what he thought was right, even if it meant going against his master's orders."

"And now he's dead." Winky said bluntly before taking a drink of butterbeer. Some of the other house-elves nodded, wondering what Kreacher would say to that.

"Yes, he's dead, but it has nothing to do with that. He died doing what he thought was right. He was helping Harry Potter and his friends, and we all know how much Dobby wanted keep Harry Potter safe. I'm sure he died happy, knowing that Harry Potter was safe. Wouldn't you rather die happy, knowing you helped to do something good, or would you rather die taking orders from people?"

Kreacher thought back to the day that Regulus went to switch Lord Voldemort's locket with a fake one. He remembered the pleased look on Regulus's face when he had seen Kreacher switch the lockets. He was as pleased as he could look after drinking that horrid potion.

He was starting to lose the attention of everyone now, so he spoke up again.

"Everyone knows who Harry Potter is, and that he is trying to kill the Dark Lord, but did you know that he treats house-elves like wizards, and he and his friends want us to be treated equally? Did you know that Regulus Black, my former master, trusted me with a task that most would only trust wizards with?

"Harry Potter and Regulus Black have done so much for us, why don't we help Harry Potter in return, and help finish what Regulus started? I know you all don't like what has happened to this school since Severus Snape took over, and fighting tonight will help make sure it won't be like this any longer." He stopped talking and looked around. "I'm going to go out there and I am going to fight, who's with me?"

No one spoke or moved, and Kreacher started to lose hope. He dropped his head and started to walk out when he heard someone walking up behind him. He stopped and turned around to see all of the house-elves walking to the door of the kitchen, ready to join in on the battle.

Kreacher stepped aside so they could leave, and watched as everyone passed by him, some giving him smiles, others focused on joining the battle. He looked back into the room to see one person sitting alone on a stool, drinking butterbeer. Winky looked up at Kreacher for a moment before taking another drink of butterbeer. Kreacher had just turned around when he heard the clink of the butterbeer bottle touching the floor.

Winky hopped off of her stool and stood there for a moment. She was a little wobbly, but not as bad as usual. Kreacher looked over at the bottle of butterbeer on the floor, and saw that there was very little missing. He smiled as he followed her out of the door, and they met up with the other house-elves who were standing at the end of the corridor, no doubt scared to join the battle.

He was proud of them for standing up for what they believed in, and that's what he thought about as he led them all into the fight.

Chapter 52: Peaceful Quidditch Pitches
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Peaceful Quidditch Pitches
by GinnyCullen
(Gryffindor)



"I wish we were on the Pitch and not fighting for our lives in this castle," Katie Bell told Oliver Wood, who had just stunned a Death Eater and joined Katie in fighting hers. With a combination of a few strong spells and a couple of shield spells, they defeated the Death Eater Katie was after.

"Katie, I wish nothing more than to be playing Quidditch - that I know I can win," Oliver said to Katie, sounding like he had lost all hope.

"You sound like we won't win, you sound like we are all on a suicide mission," she replied, sounding on the brink of tears.

"Harry is dead; what hope do we have? None of us are smart enough to finish you-know-who off. It was meant for Harry to, and now he's dead," Oliver said, sounding utterly defeated. Katie's heart sank. She knew it was true, but she also knew not to give up hope.

She grabbed his hand and pulled him closer. "Oliver Wood, would you stop acting as if we are going to die tonight? Please?" Katie said to him in a voice that hinted at more than friendship.(Katie pleaded, her eyes begging Oliver to give her the hope she needed. Something behind his eyes changed and he quickly pulled her into a warm embrace.) Oliver pulled her into a hug then let her go remembering they were in the middle of the largest battle ever.

"Come on, Katie, let's not let Harry Potter die in vain," he said and they ran down the hall, both holding onto the other's hand as if their lives depended on it. They came to an abrupt halt when they found Percy Weasely crying.

"Percy? What's wrong?" Oliver asked.

"Dead; he's dead, and I didn't even say good-bye," Percy sobbed.

"Who is dead?" Katie asked frantically.

"Fred," was all Percy got out before Oliver grabbed him and Katie both and pushed them into the secret passage behind them.

"Percy, stay here," Oliver said before grabbing Katie's hand and pulling her out to face the Death Eater he had seen. It was only a few feet away from them.

"PROTEGO," Katie yelled so forcefully it protected her and Wood.

"REDUCTO! Nice shield, Katie," Oliver said as the Death Eater was defeated.

"Percy," was all Katie said and they both hurried into the passage way to find Percy whipping his face clear of tears.

"I am alright. Thank you both. I am going to find my family," Percy said and ran off, leaving Katie and Oliver in the passage way alone.

"I'm not sure if I will ever have this chance again," Oliver said and then pressed his lips to Katie's, who was shocked at first but deepened the kiss by pushing him to the wall.

"I am sure you will. We will live through this. Together," Katie said, grabbing his hand. They both set off to find more Death Eaters to defeat.

"Wood! Merlin, am I glad to see you, and you too Katie," a girl called from a bit away. She was covered in blood, but Katie couldn't see any gashes or cuts on her. Nevertheless, she still looked injured.


"What happened to you, Angelina?" Katie asked her former teammate.

"I got in a fight with the Slytherin Quidditch Captain. I won," Angelina Johnson said, sounding confident.

"Where to now?" Katie asked Angelina.


"Well, everyone is in the Great Hall. Voldemort is in there," Angelina said. The three of them ran to the Great Hall. Sure enough, Angelina was right - everyone was in the Great Hall. Katie stayed close to Oliver and Angelina as they found their place in the crowd.

Then, suddenly, a shrill scream erupted in the Hall, "Harry Potter is ALIVE?" Katie's heart jumped. Was it so? She strained her neck to get a better look near the front.

Katie saw him. She pointed to the Boy Who Lived as a smile came upon her face. They had hope, after all.

"Harry is alive! There is hope. We will one day play Quidditch in peace again," Wood said to Katie and kissed her softly.

They smiled at each other and watched the epic battle between Harry Potter and Voldemort unfold.



Special thanks: EmeraldCity

Chapter 53: Mirror, Mirror
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Mirror, Mirror
by theelderwand
(Gryffindor)





Lord Potter sat absently stroking his goatee, staring into the fire. "I expected he'd come."



Hermione Granger, his most trusted Death Eater, bounced giddily from one foot to the other. "We have the Mudblood LeStrange! Why not use her? Let him know we have her." Hermione glanced at the form of the young raven-haired witch, now tied to a tree just on the edge of the firelight. Bellatrix steeled herself, trying to keep the fear off her face as she struggled to loosen the ropes that bound her fast.



Lupin's head snapped around at Hermione's suggestion. "My Lord! You promised her to me," he pleaded. "I want her now!"



"And you shall have her in good time, my faithful servant," Lord Potter replied. "But not quite yet."



Bellatrix blanched; she'd only barely managed to escape the werewolf's vile clutches when she, Tom and Lucius had been prisoners in the dungeons of the Burrow, three weeks before. To be tossed to him now as a reward filled her with dread.



Ron Weasley, battered and bloodied from his most recent punishment at the hands of the Dark Lord, sat nervously, wiping the blood from his red goatee. "He will come, my Lord," Ron said nervously.



Slowly, Lord Potter turned his horrible glare on the redhead. "Still offering me advice, Ronald?" He eyed him with contempt. "You had best be right…this time."



The ice in the Dark Lord's voice unnerved him; Ron shuddered.



Lord Potter stared back into the fire, its flames casting a demonic pall over his already diabolically feline features. All fell quiet once again as they waited anxiously to see if Tom would actually surrender himself.



Not forty minutes earlier, the Dark Lord sent an ultimatum to the defenders of Hogwarts, calling his forces back from the brink of victory: "Hear me! You have fought valiantly, but your defenses are breached and your defeat is certain. Why continue this carnage, this hopeless fight for an outlaw that has done nothing but bring you pain? If the boy Riddle will but face me, I will spare your lives. I will show you mercy. However, if you continue to defy me and shelter this coward, I will loose all of my vengeance upon you. I will join this fight and no one will be left alive by daybreak. You have one hour."



The minutes had drawn out like a blade, slowly and painfully and yet, there was no sign of The Boy Who Lived. Tom Riddle remained as frustratingly elusive as he had for the previous nine months, while Lord Potter's Death Eaters scoured the countryside to find him and his friends. But the hordes of dark wizards failed in their quest. And worse yet, the insufferable boy had unearthed Potter's secret. Gryffindor's locket had been destroyed and Slytherin's sword had been stolen. The Dark Lord shook his head in frustration at the thought. Of all of his Horcruxes, only his familiar, the lion Felix, remained.



The Death Eaters surrounding the fire looked on, pensively, afraid to meet the Dark Lord's eyes. With each passing minute, they grew more nervous, sensing Lord Potter's frustration. It was at times like these that he was the most dangerous.



At long last the stillness of the night was broken by the sound of Apparation. Three forms appeared before the Dark Lord. Two of them, Bill Weasley and Hagrid, immediately went to their knees before him, the third, a red-haired witch, sauntered seductively to him, ignoring the looks of envy that Hermione cast her way.



"My Lord." The red-head slid into his arms, running her hands along his chin.



"Lady Ginevra," Potter replied impatiently, "there is no time for this. Do you have Riddle?"



Slowly she backed away, the hurt evident on her face. "I live only to serve! But, no. We don't have the boy."



Hermione smiled wickedly at the admission. "Failure again, Ginny? I've managed to find the Mudblood," Hermione gestured to the bound Bellatrix, "and you come only with empty promises?"



Ginny cast a fiery glare at her rival. "You may have brought a foe, but I bring a traitor!" With a flourish of her wand a small redheaded boy appeared at her feet. Bloodied and beaten, his eyes betrayed the fear coursing through his veins.



The Dark Lord clapped his hands together in wicked delight. "Percy!" His terrible laugh caused the bats in the tree overhead to flutter and screech off into the night. Then, Lord Potter raised his hands, signaling to Bill and Hagrid that they should rise.



Percy began to splutter, "D-dread Lord, I sought to r-rejoin you…I was wrong. P-please…"



But his plea was cut off by a vicious kick from his eldest brother. "Silence, you dog! You stood against the family! Attacked the bridesmaids at my wedding. The audacity of exploding them with Expulso curses! And worse. You dared to side with the Order against Lord Potter!"



Hagrid advanced on the disgraced Weasley. "Not fit fer a clean death. Lord, lemme give 'em to me brother."



Percy's look of abject horror spurred laughter from the surrounding Death Eaters, which was abruptly broken by a resounding shout:



"NO!" Slowly, Molly Weasley emerged into the firelight. "Lord Potter, this traitorous scab is mine. I will finish him." The hate in her eyes was overwhelming.



"Molly!" Arthur was crestfallen, but a stern look from his wife silenced him.



"Very well," the Dark Lord hissed. "Hagrid, you will accompany Lady Weasley. You may have what's left of him to give to Grawp."



This spurred more laughter from the gathered Death Eaters as the trio trudged off into the woods, Percy's pleas fading into the distance.



Once again all fell silent as the minutes drew out awaiting the hour to expire. The recent distractions slowly faded and Potter once again fell into a silent brood, a brood that only Ginevra had the courage to interrupt.



"He may not come," she said evenly.



Lord Potter broke his gaze into the fire and met her eyes, eyes that were devoid of life, much as his own. "I was certain he would…I fear I was mistaken."



At that moment, a wizard, more boy than man, appeared in the firelight, a lightning-bolt scar evident on his forehead. "You weren't."



A collective gasp issued from the surrounding Death Eaters, broken only by Bellatrix's shrill cry: "Tom, no!" But Hermione silenced her with a flick of her wand.



"Tom Riddle," Lord Potter spat, "The Boy Who Lived."



Riddle steeled himself, unable to speak.



Potter cocked his head at the boy, like a lion sizing up his prey. Then he leveled the Elder Wand at the young wizard. "Avada Kedavra!"



Fin.



AN: I have shamelessly stolen the title for this tale from the Star Trek, TOS, episode #33 of the same name, written by Jerome Bixby, first airing on 10/6/67. As much as I'm sure JKR would prefer to distance herself from this AU version of DH, the portions summarized here come from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by JKR, Scholastic Press, p. 703 (2007).


Chapter 54: Last One Standing
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Last One Standing
by ronhermione4evr
(Gryffindor)




"Now let's get upstairs and fight, or all the good Death Eaters'll be taken!" George said as we hurried towards the staircase.

Wow. This has been a very eventful day. First Hogwarts gets attacked by U-No-Poo, and now my Ministry-loving brother has come back for us. Yup, just another day back at school.

"I call Bellatrix!" I yell to my twin as we run into the Great Hall.

"No! I already called her!" Charlie wailed.

"Would you two stop? We're in the middle of the battle, and you two are arguing about who you want to duel!" Bill scolded, sounding very much like the older brother he was.

"We've already settled that." A chilling voice came from behind us, and George, Charlie, Percy, Bill, and I wheeled around to find ourselves staring into the eyes of no less than five Death Eaters. Rodolphus Lestrange, Rabastan Lestrange, Augustus Rookwood, Fenrir Greyback, and Antonin Dolohov were staring right back at us.

I could feel Bill shrink down a little beside me. Bill? My oldest brother? He was scared of this bunch? I suddenly remembered how it had been Fenrir Greyback who had attacked Bill last year, the night Dumbledore died. And wasn't Greyback the same person who wanted to bite Hermione?

I immediately began to feel a little more serious. My stomach dropped and my heart came up into my throat. What did you call this emotion? Oh right-

Panic.

"Come on, guys!" I yelled. I aimed a spell at the head of Greyback, but he just snarled and began to duel me back. Fortunately, this guy was not meant to be a dueler. It was only a few seconds into our battle, but I was already starting to gain on him.

"Ginny?" A mane of red hair whipped past me, closely followed by a Death Eater with long, black hair. No. My baby sister could not be here in the thick of the battle.

I Disarmed Greyback and ran after the Death Eater pursuing Ginny.

"STAY AWAY FROM HER!" I roared at the Death Eater.

She whipped around, and I cowered as I noticed that it was Bellatrix Lestrange, the same person who had killed Sirius Black. But wait- hadn't I called her when me and Charlie were arguing over who got to duel with her?

I felt new energy surge within me. I was taking this the entirely wrong way! This was just another game of "last one standing", a variation of Quidditch I had played with my brothers and Ginny when I was young. The objective of that game was to not be knocked down by the flying Bludgers, and this war was no different except that we had to avoid spells!

"Looking for your husband?" I said loudly. When she glared at me, I jerked my head towards Charlie, who was wrestling him to the floor with both his wand and muscles that you could only achieve by training dragons for years.

I saw a flitter of shock across her face before it became as cold and uncaring as before.

"He can take care of himself against an overgrown schoolboy."

I had just realized that I had never heard her voice before now, but I never wanted to hear it ever again. It was cold and dark and reminded you of dark, rushing, underground rivers.

Bellatrix had completely forgotten about Ginny, since I was her next target. But my little sister was not one to be forgotten.

"Fred! I'll take care of her! You go help George!" she yelled.

My eyes darted to George for a moment, and my heart nearly stopped. He was battling two people at once. Bill was still dueling Rookwood, and Charlie and Percy where nowhere to be found.

I was reluctant to leave Ginny alone with a Death Eater- especially this one. But I didn't have much choice. I'm not sure whether I felt better or worse when Hermione and Luna came running up to assist Ginny in her duel against Bellatrix.

I ran up to help George, and when one of the Death Eaters had turned around, I knocked him out with a heavy blow to the head. By the time the other Death Eater had turned to face me, George had already aimed a piercing spell. Unfortunately for him, the piercing spell was aimed directly at his heart.

"Where are Charlie and Percy?" I panted.

George pointed simply to the side, where Charlie lay unconscious on the floor. Percy was up and battling Rowle, who was trying to finish Charlie off.

I ran towards Rowle and hit him on the back of the head, the same thing I had done to the Death Eater battling George. Rowle crumpled to the floor, and I started to lift Charlie.

"What-on-Earth-are-you-doing?" Percy gasped between breaths for air.

"Moving him to the side." My voice cracked, and I didn't even sound like myself anymore.

Percy and I picked up Charlie and pushed him behind a tapestry. At least he'd be safe there.

I paused for a moment to look at the tapestry. It depicted a wedding scene, with a beautiful bride and an ugly husband. As I looked at all the bridesmaids, one caught my eye. It seemed exactly like Ginny, except that at the moment Ginny was fighting one of the worst Death Eaters of all time, not smiling benignly like the one in the tapestry was doing.

"Fred!"

I turned as I heard Percy's voice, and narrowly missed a Stunning Spell that would've hit my head if I hadn't moved it. It blew up the bridesmaid I had been studying in the tapestry, and my head was shattered with debris. Well, at least it was just the tapestry bridesmaid that exploded. I wouldn't know what to do if he had blown up the real one.

Another Death Eater (how many of them were there?) was standing close to me. His mask was on, so I couldn't see his face.

Percy and I dodged sideways before I remembered Charlie was within his vicinity.

Before I could jump back, Bill came and aimed a Stunning Spell at his back.

We all ran towards another portion of the Great Hall, where new streams of fresh Death Eaters were coming in.

Panic. There it was again.

But I calmed myself down. It was just another game of Last One Standing, after all. And I had always won that game when we were little.

Percy and I charged headfirst into the Battlefield, stunning any one with Death Eater robes that came near us. And then Percy saw him- Pius Thicknesse, his former boss.

I heard a series of footsteps near me, and even without turning, I could tell that Harry, Ron, and Hermione were coming to help.

"Hello Minister! Did I mention I'm resigning?" Percy bellowed.

Percy's stunning spell hit him squarely in the chest.

"You're joking, Perce!" I laughed. " I don't think I've heard you joke since-"

At that moment I felt a sudden jolt in my gut. I knew right away this was the Killing Curse. Before I perished, though, I had one last thought:

The one time I had lost this game was the most important. Even though I knew I would never see my family or friends again, I knew my time here was over. It was time for me to move away, and let someone else become the Last One Standing.



A/N: The first sentence is a quote from page 488 of the British copy of Deathly Hallows, and the quote of Percy and Fred talking right before Fred is killed is on page 511 of the British copy. All credit from the exploding bridesmaids goes to the Gryffindor Common Room!
-ronhermione4evr


Chapter 55: The Lie
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The Lie
by Melian
(Gryffindor)



Ginny felt like she might collapse under the strain of it all. She'd been through an emotional rollercoaster tonight, first with the return of Percy, then the loss of Fred, then the voice of Voldemort, demanding the boy she loved to turn himself in, its very tone sending shivers down her spine. She hadn't realised how high and cold that voice was, having never heard it before, but she knew that she didn't want to hear it again.

I could never be a Death Eater, she thought grimly. I couldn't take orders from that voice. I'd rather die than hear that over and over again.

She hadn't been able to help herself – as soon as midnight neared she headed for the forest, needing to know if Harry would do the noble thing and sacrifice himself. Voldemort had said that if he did, then everyone in the school would be able to leave unharmed, and that was the sort of thing that would appeal to his sense of heroism. No, heroism was the wrong word, but she knew what he meant. Hermione had said it once, that he had a thing for saving people, and while she refused to criticise Harry she had to admit there was something in that.

Therefore, she hovered between the school and the forest, anxious and worried. She knew that if Harry went into that forest, to Voldemort, he would be killed, and she couldn't cope with that. She couldn't lose Harry, could she? She, her whole family, had already lost Fred tonight, and the thought of Harry going too ... that was too much to bear. She didn't know what she would say to him if she saw him, but she had to say something, had to make sure he understood that self-sacrifice like that was not an acceptable outcome. She wouldn't let him just walk into that forest; she would go with him, against his wishes if need be, and do whatever needed to be done to save him. Her chin set obstinately – she wouldn't take no for an answer. She had to do it.

Not knowing what to do while she waited, she paced impatiently back and forth. Maybe her wait would be in vain and he would never come, she thought hopefully. But no – she didn't believe that, no matter how much she wanted to. She knew that Harry would come, and come before midnight. The only question was when.

Her attention was distracted by some movement to her left and she turned instinctively, looking for the dark hair and glasses, the familiar gait. Her heart sank when she realised that the intruder was not in fact Harry, but Neville and Oliver Wood, who were carrying ... Oh, that was horrible. They were carrying Colin Creevey, who was in her class ... who had been in her class. Colin wasn't even of age but he'd still been killed as part of the battle here tonight.

Yet another innocent victim ...

Ginny wondered how many more there would be before this night, this battle, this war ended. She wasn't sure how many more she could take, especially if more of her family or Harry were part of the body count. Swallowing hard, she reminded herself to be strong. She couldn't fall apart, not now. There was still so much to do.

She heard something else and swung around, looking for Harry once more. Once more, though, it wasn't him. This time the culprit was a young girl, maybe her own age and maybe even younger, clutching at an injury, and she couldn't help but offer some assistance.

"What's wrong?" she asked, catching the girl as she lost her footing and fell. "Where does it hurt?"

"Everywhere," the girl said, her voice rasping with obvious pain. "I hate this war. I don't want to be part of it anymore."

"None of us do," Ginny said, surprising herself when she realised it was true, on her own part at least.

"I want my mum," the girl whispered. "I want my mum."

And I want mine ...

Ginny felt a tear form in her eye. This girl, so young and innocent, had thought that fighting in this battle was the right thing to do. The same thing that Ginny herself had thought, before she saw the bodies starting to pile up. First Fred, then Lupin, then Tonks, now Colin ... it was like a nightmare happening again and again. And now she found herself trying to comfort someone she didn't know, trying to convince them that everything was going to be all right, when in her heart she was sure that it would never be all right again. Not without Fred, not without Harry.

She made herself lie to the girl, trying to console her, to convince her that they would be able to get her into the castle and that everything would work out for the best. The look in the girl's eyes said that she wanted to believe her, that she wanted desperately for it to be true, so she said it, hating herself for having to let someone down, even someone she'd never met and for whom all hope seemed gone. Even consoling and comforting that stranger was important enough to mangle the truth so horribly and say the words she just couldn't believe.

"It's going to be all right."


Disclaimer: Text in bold is dialogue taken directly from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, page 558, UK edition paperback.
Beta'd by EmeraldCity.


Chapter 56: Spectrum
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Spectrum
by long_live_luna_bellatrix
(Ravenclaw)



Stupefy!”

Red.

Legs trembling, forehead sweating, heart thumping, breath choking. I dodge one curse only to face another, aim only to have my wand knocked out of my hand. Dropping to my knees, I scramble among rubble and pools of blood, grasping at anything, everything.

My fingers brush something cool, smooth, slightly resilient...

I spring backwards as I realized I have just brushed the arm of a young, dead woman. Her pink hair is sickly in the flashes of color that illuminate the hall. Her eyes are wide, mouth gaping as if she has not expected to die. But then again, does anyone?

“Tarantallegra!”

Purple.

I dive away from the violet jinx, skidding into another still body. The walls begin closing in on me, pushing tighter and tighter, the breath can barely squeeze its way out of my throat, I need to get out!

So. This is the glory I sought when I crept back from the evacuation. The exhilaration of battle I pictured as I snuck past Madam Pomfrey. I'd had this vision of holding my own, Death Eaters piling at my feet. But battle is quick, disorienting. And it's surprisingly hard to aim when one's hand is shaking.

“Avada Kedavra!”

Green.

“Move, kid!” a man leaps out of nowhere and pushes me aside, only to get caught by the curse. His hand drops from my shoulder, his eyes darting back one last time to the pink-haired lady.

I stumble backwards, trying to get out out out. As I retreat blindly, I catch a glimpse of the sky through a hole in the wall. The sky is velvet, sequined with hundreds of stars. It cries to be wrapped around someone.

“Hello, there...” a sneering Death Eater turns a corner in the hall and reads the terror in my eyes. “Tut tut, you can't be thinking of leaving the battle... It's only just started.”

I think I might be frantically shaking my head, but all I'm sure of is the stone cold wall pressed against my back. Death is cold.

“Crucio.”

… and pain is white.

Something wet trickles in my ears as I writhe in pain. I am lying on a cottony cloud, and as I attempt to hold on to it, it only turns to fog, engulfing me in bright, deafening white. Something loud rips from my mouth; a scream?

As the pain fades, I rock back and forth hugging my knees; when I fell, I cracked my head against the wall and blood now drips steadily down my face. I gnaw on my pants to keep from sobbing.

“I'm so glad you can stay for the fun...” the Death Eater says, towering over me, his eyes the color of death. But they are too far away for me to recognize the shade.

“Hey! Sectumsempra!”

Red again.

A gangly red-haired young man sprints toward me as the Death Eater collapses, bleeding from a dozen wounds. I think his name is Weasley... He was Keeper for Gryffindor last year...

“What's your name, kid? Are you all right?”

“Stewart Ackerley,” I mumble, but Weasley's face swims in front of me. I can't even see the freckles that were there a second ago...

“Stewart...” Weasley says, but his face tips backward. Next thing I know I'm lying on the floor.

A large man turns the corner and spies Weasley and I. Weasley's back is turned to the man, and time moves too fast for me to warn him. With a single curse, Weasley is lying moaning on the stone next to me. The Death Eater raises his wand again and points it straight between my eyes.

“No!” with a roar, I am somehow once again on my feet. Shaking like mad, but definitely on my feet. Then momentum of what I've done hits me, and I stagger, head throbbing. The Death Eater grins, revealing a mouthful of rotten teeth, and aims once more.

I realize I do not want to know the color of death.

“Stewart!” Weasley groans, as I make a running leap for that hole in the wall. The sky is still beckoning. What floor are we on?

Black.

Chapter 57: Taking the Plunge
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Taking the Plunge
by Melian
(Gryffindor)



Ron and Hermione looked at each other incredulously. Had Harry just told them to stay put in the Room of Requirement while he went out in search of the lost diadem of Ravenclaw? After everything they'd been through together, it seemed astonishing that he was still trying to protect them, to do everything himself.

"He's mental," Ron said, "if he seriously thinks we're just going to sit here and wait for him."

Hermione nodded, her face grim. "But what can we do? I mean, really? We have to find the diadem, but beyond that ... And even if we do find it, how are we going to destroy it?"

"Basilisk venom, of course," Ron said with a smile, amazed that someone as smart as Hermione hadn't thought of that.

She looked confused. "But we don't have the sword of Gryffindor any more," she pointed out. "And where else are we going to find ...." Her voice trailed off and her eyes got very wide. "The Chamber??"

"Where else?" Ron asked briskly. "We can destroy the cup while we're waiting for Harry to find the diadem, right? Come on, let's find Myrtle's bathroom." And, grabbing her arm, he picked up Helga Hufflepuff's Cup and started to lead her out of the room. Suddenly, though, he paused.

Hermione looked at him. "What's wrong?"

"We'll need a broom," Ron said, thinking furiously. Where might he find a spare broom in the next few seconds? Fortunately, though, the Room pre-empted him and he saw one leaning against the wall by the exit door. "Perfect," he said with a grin, picking it up. "Come on, let's go."

"What do we need that for?" Hermione asked, her eyes on the broom.

"To get out again," Ron explained. "We had Fawkes last time, but I somehow don't think he's likely to drop in again just to give us a lift."

The Room of Requirement let them out by a bunch of disused classrooms on the fifth floor, so they had to find their way down three flights of stairs, clutching the Cup and trying to keep out of the way of anyone who could try to stop them. Finally, after what felt like an hour, they made it.

"Weird, isn't it?" Ron said conversationally as they wandered down the deserted corridor. "Everywhere else is in chaos but there's no one anywhere near here. It's almost like they know it's the entrance to the Chamber and want to avoid it just in case the basilisk comes back out."

"But that's ridiculous," Hermione pointed out. "Everyone knows that Harry killed the basilisk back in second year. Why would they be worried about it coming out now?"

Ron shrugged. "Basilisks are weird creatures. People believe all sorts of things about them, so I wouldn't be surprised if coming back from the dead was one of them. Right, here we are."

They stopped outside the door, both thinking of their second year when they had brewed Polyjuice Potion in this very bathroom, dodging the ghost of Myrtle in their quest to find out who the Heir of Slytherin was. Hermione looked at Ron.

"Um ... Ron, how are we going to get in?" she asked. "Harry's not here, and neither of us can speak Parseltongue."

"I'll do it," Ron said, sounding more confident than he felt. "I've heard Harry say it loads of times. I'll see if I can't say it like he does." He smiled at her incredulous face. "Hey, it might work. It's worth a shot, don't you think?"

"I suppose we can try," Hermione said doubtfully. "Well, here goes nothing."

They pushed open the door and Ron quickly found the tap with the snake engraved on it. He was pleased that he knew what he was looking for because, as they had noticed all those years before, unless someone knew it was there they'd never see it.

Ron stared at the snake and made a strangled, hissing sound that he thought sounded roughly like Harry had when he'd opened the locket. The tap did nothing. Nonplussed, he tried again. It took several attempts but eventually he managed to get the right hissing noise and, to their complete surprise, the Chamber opened up.

Hermione looked at him. "Ron! You did it!" There was admiration in her eyes and, for a split second, he allowed himself to think that, maybe, there was a chance for him after all. However, this was not the time to lapse back into those dreams. Shaking his head at himself a little gruffly, he reached for her hand.

"You ready?"

She nodded. She looked frightened, and he realised all of a sudden that she had never been down this chute before, that when he and Harry had done it in second year she had been lying in the hospital wing, Petrified. "It's okay," he said reassuringly. "Just a long slide and the landing's not that bad. A few bones and things but nothing dangerous."

She bit her lip and nodded again, looking determined. "Well, let's go, then."

One by one, they launched themselves down the slide. It was horrible and slimy and smelled revolting, but they did it. After what seemed an age, Ron landed with a thud on the cold floor of the Chamber's entrance, littered with ancient rats' skeletons and dust.

Lighting his wand, he hurried to get up so that Hermione wouldn't land on him when she exited the chute – while he would have loved to catch her, he suspected that, being as lanky and bony as he was, it would probably be even less comfortable for her than landing on the floor would.

The tunnel they landed in was dark and slimy and Hermione looked slightly revolted as Ron helped her to stand. "THIS is the Chamber?" she asked, also lighting her wand and looking around disparagingly. "I would have thought Salazar Slytherin would have made it more comfortable."

"It's just the entrance," Ron explained. "We go down the tunnel and apparently the Chamber opens up further on. I guess we can leave the broom here until we need to get out …" He leaned it against the wall just by the chute exit, hoping that nothing would go wrong and that it would still be there when they needed it.

Hermione looked at him, seemingly having not heard his last sentence. "What do you mean, 'apparently'? Haven't you been here before?"

"Yeah," Ron agreed, "but I never got further than ..." His voice trailed off until they rounded a corner and came to the rock fall that had stopped him five years earlier. "Than here," he said. "This was where Lockhart Obliviated himself, the git, so I stayed here to make sure he didn't do anything stupid, and Harry ..."

His voice trailed off again, but Hermione knew what he meant. "And Harry went on through," she finished for him.

"He didn't have much choice," Ron admitted, "because he was on the other side of the rock wall. All I could do was try to dig out a hole big enough for him to get back through, and Ginny." He paused, remembering how that had felt, how he hadn't known if he would ever see his sister alive again. It had been one of the most awful feelings of his life.

"Well, then," Hermione was saying, "let's go." She was already climbing over the fallen rocks by the time he'd realised what she'd said.

On the other side of the rock wall, Ron looked around with interest. Now he knew that there was no danger here, that he wasn't about to die just by looking at a giant snake, the place didn't seem as creepy as it had before. Then again, he was five years older now and that had to count for something, didn't it? Grabbing Hermione's hand instinctively, he walked with her down the tunnel.

Finally, it ended, and they were faced with a solid wall engraved with serpent carvings, the emeralds in their eyes glistening in the wandlight. They stopped, still holding hands, and Hermione looked at him expectantly.

"Can you do it again?" she whispered.

He cleared his throat, the noise sounding loud and echoing off the walls around them. Once more he attempted the Parseltongue impersonation, making the strange hissing sound that Harry did so well.

On the third try, the wall opened for him. Holding Hermione's hand far more tightly than he'd intended, he led her into the Chamber itself.

Even though he'd heard Harry's and Ginny's descriptions of the place, nothing really prepared him for the sheer immensity of it. Stone pillars lined the long, narrow chamber, and from the wand light he could see the faint image of a statue way up ahead.

"That must be Slytherin himself," he muttered, feeling somewhat comforted by the fact that Hermione was still holding his hand just as tightly as he was holding hers.

"And that must be the … the basilisk," Hermione whispered. Huge and decayed, the skin and skeleton of a huge snake was piled up around the foot of the great statue. Ron couldn't imagine how Harry must have felt, as a twelve year old, having to face this alive. "We are sure it's safe, aren't we?"

"We should be," Ron said, more reassuringly than he felt. Even though at an intellectual level he knew that nothing here would hurt them, the Chamber's dank smell and eerie atmosphere, combined with the remains of one of the deadliest creatures known to wizardkind, meant that he couldn't completely expel the doubts from his own mind, no matter how confident and at ease he had felt a minute or so previously. "The basilisk only kills if it sees you, right? Well, that thing isn't seeing anything. I can't imagine how we could be in danger."

Slowly, cautiously, they approached the beast. "Do you think the venom will still be good?" Hermione asked tentatively. "I've read that basilisk venom can last for years under the right conditions, but …"

"I guess there's only one way to find out," Ron said grimly. He grabbed a fang from the snake's skull and gave it a pull, and it came out far more easily than he'd anticipated. Holding it at arm's length, he looked at Hermione. "Do you want to do the honours?"

She looked taken aback. "Me?"

"Yes, you," Ron said, dropping her hand and fishing inside his jacket for the Cup. "I've already done one, I think it's your turn now."

Hermione took the fang doubtfully. "Are you sure? I thought …"

"You should do it," Ron insisted, putting the Cup on the floor in front of her. "Come on, it's not hard. Just stab it with the fang."

Taking a deep breath, Hermione took the fang and looked at the Cup. He could tell she was a bit torn between wanting to kill the Horcrux it contained, and destroying such a valuable and historical artifact, but unfortunately it couldn't be avoided. "Okay," she said, sounding like she was trying to talk herself into doing it. "Here I go."

Closing her eyes, she thrust the fang down on the Cup with all her power. Unfortunately, because she closed her eyes, she missed, and hit the stone floor a few inches to the right. "Oh," she said, clearly disappointed, as she opened her eyes. "I missed, didn't I?"

"Just try again," Ron said encouragingly. "Even if you break the fang, there are a stack more here we can use."

"Right." She gazed at the Cup again and took aim once more. This time, she kept her eyes open, and with a loud CLANG, the fang and cup collided. There was a long, drawn-out scream as the Horcrux met its end, and an ugly dark stain appeared on the mangled remains of the Cup.

Hermione looked up at him, breathless and pale. "Was that it?"

Ron nodded grimly. "Looks like it," he said. "And you got it better than I did. When I went to stab the locket, it kept talking to me, showing me things. It was awful."

She dropped the basilisk fang and took his hand, and he realised that he'd never spoken to her about the locket and what it had tormented him with. Maybe she understood anyway.

"It feels wrong, destroying something that belonged to one of the Founders," Hermione said after a while, breaking the silence and changing the subject. "I wish he hadn't used these things."

"Makes them more powerful, doesn't it?" Ron said simply. "He wanted to live forever, he probably figured that people would be like you and wouldn't want to wreck something that old." Reluctantly dropping her hand, he went back over to the basilisk and started wrenching teeth from the skull.

"What are you doing?" Hermione asked.

He shrugged. "We've got at least one more Horcrux to kill, right?" he asked. "Well, we might as well make sure we've got the means to do it."

"Of course," she said quietly, still looking a little pale, and he wondered if the Cup had in fact said something to her, tormenting her as the locket had tormented him. He wondered if he would ever know.

"Come on," he said bracingly, giving her an armful of fangs. "Grab as many as you can and we'll get out of here. Harry could have found the diadem by now and he'll be wanting to destroy it."

Between them they gathered up as many teeth as they could comfortably hold, considering they had to carry the mangled Cup and hold onto a broomstick in order to leave the Chamber. Then, picking their way over the remains of the basilisk and the bones of its many snacks over the years, they made their way back to the bottom of the chute.

"Harry should be thrilled," said Hermione, sounding much more confident and like her usual self now they were out of the Chamber proper. Ron looked at her, concerned that maybe it had had some impact on her that he hadn't realised, but took heart in the fact that the colour was returning to her cheeks. "Another Horcrux gone, and the means to destroy the diadem when we find it."

He noted the use of the word 'when' rather than 'if' and smiled as he set the broom up ready for her to climb on. "Yeah, when we find it," he agreed. "Now, are you ready to go back up? Heaven only knows what's been going on since we left."

Hermione looked determined, one arm clutching at the broom handle and the other full of yellowing teeth. She had never been comfortable using a broom for transport and he knew that it was only her knowledge that Harry was relying on her, as well as (he hoped) faith in him, that had induced her to agree to travel this way at all. "Yes, let's go," she said. "Harry might need us."

Taking a deep breath himself, Ron swung himself onto the broom, making sure that he had the cup, the fangs AND control of the broom. Hermione put her spare arm around his waist and he smiled again. "Yes, let's go," he echoed, pushing off and heading back up the chute. "We've got a war to win."


Author's note: Thanks to blueirony for her work beta-ing this fic.

Chapter 58: Fighting for Fred
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Fighting for Fred
by Zaphiie
(Gryffindor)





Lee Jordan felt a strange urge to climb onto the balcony and begin to commentate. He shook his head to clear it of the absurd fantasy, dreadlocks flying, and ducked to avoid a stinging hex that had been catapulted in his direction. What a stupid thing to think, he mused to himself. It’s the middle of a battle – no – make that a war, and all you can think about is how lacking in commentary it is!

It was strange, that he should feel like this, but ever since leaving Hogwarts, he had sorely missed his old job as Quidditch commentator extraordinaire. Potterwatch had filled the rift in his life a little, but he missed the times when everything was less tense, less dark, more fun. When his greatest worry had been whether McGonagall would give someone else his job when he commented on a player’s undergarments, or the staff’s private lives.

Lee was under a lot of pressure, despite the exhilaration of the battle. And Lee dealt with extreme pressure in his own unique way – he talked. Hence his unexplained need to commentate. We could use a bit of a laugh anyway. Everyone here could. And if Lee could give them anything, he could give them a laugh.

Unfortunately, the only things he was giving out at that moment were curses, and the only people laughing were a handful of insane Death Eaters, and Fred and George Weasley. And at that, Lee had to quirk a smile.

Fred and George. They had all but become Lee’s brothers over the course of their Hogwarts years. To others, they were just ‘those Weasley boys’ – funny, loud, and constantly setting off brilliant pranks. He remembered the first time they had met, on the train in first year. Ironically, they had met over a prank, and shared the first detention of the year, courtesy of the prefects they had mistakenly selected as their victims.

They hadn’t had one fight in their entire seven years of school – an unusual and remarkable feat for teenaged boys. The three boys had grown up together, – although the fact that they had ever done anything recognisable as ‘growing up’ was debated by many. But that’s just another thing that people misunderstand, Lee mused. People look at the three of us, and they see the pranks, the childish amusement, and the fun. They see kids who never grew up – who lack the maturity required to do anything worthwhile.

What most people didn’t see, however, was that these three boys were incredibly mature – more mature than many adults, really. Faced with a crisis that had driven many to despair, they had faced it headfirst, and brought to the table something that many of the older, more cynical adults were incapable of providing. They had brought fun and life even to the darkest of times – and even now, ultimately faced with death, their charisma lit the way for the rest of the fighters.

The world didn’t realise how much it needed people like Fred, George and Lee. It was cruel that there were so few. And it was cruel that even they couldn’t stay forever.

Lee dodged a flash of light, the battle carrying him around to where Fred and George fought. He was a small distance away from them both, and he could see them fighting as he duelled yet another Death Eater. The twins stood beside each other, working together like clockwork. Lee couldn’t deny it – their spell work was exemplary. Most of the curses they fired off were ones that even Lee, well versed in modified spells and jinxes, had never heard of. He knew from experience that they were making them up as they went.

And in the middle of a war, Lee silently admired his friends’ talent. They seemed so invincible, as they stood there and dispatched Death Eaters, faces split into their brilliant, identical grins. Even in the time of deepest despair, the two of them seemed to fuel each other – each one’s cheery countenance and well placed jokes strengthening the other. Together, they were unbeatable. They helped each other survive.

Lee dispatched the Death Eater he was fighting with a deftly aimed jinx, and moved steadily on to the next one. He was only a few metres away from the twins, close enough to easily see and hear them, even over the din of the battle. He remembered third year, when McGonagall had reprimanded them for their ‘uncouth and unnatural loudness’. Lee wondered if she knew that it was helping them now – helping them spread the happiness.

Lee was only a few metres away when it happened – too close to bear, and too far to do anything. He saw the explosion as if in slow motion – a blossoming flower of fire and debris, with a core of pure white light. He saw it rocket outwards, blowing people off their feet, throwing them to the ground.

Lee himself swayed, and barely kept his feet. He saw Fred and George as they were knocked flying, turning almost graceful rotations in the air as they arced downwards, condemned by gravity. They landed beside each other, in a redheaded heap on the debris-strewn floor of the hall.

Time was frozen as they lay there, neither moving, neither speaking. The noise of the battle seemed to cease, to Lee, as if he was in a bubble of time suspended like honey from a spoon. He began to run towards the pair, feeling as if he moved in slow motion.

From the other side of the hall, he could see others racing over, their battles forgotten. Molly Weasley was running, tears streaming, her face knotted into an anxious, blotchy mess. Lee could hear her calling the twins’ names, her voice seeming to pervade even the silence that surrounded Lee. And slowly, he saw George stir, and sit up, shaking his head as if to clear it. George was sitting now, and Mrs. Weasley was crying tears of joy.

But Lee could see George bending over Fred, calling his name, and shaking him, tears streaming down his face.

“Fred! Fred, please, please wake up!”

George was sobbing brokenly, oblivious to the sounds of war around him. And Fred – the boy Lee had known since first year – who he had lived with for seven years of school and most of the holidays – who he had conspired with and pranked with - lay beside his brother on the cold flagstones, his face pale, his chest still. A smile was still frozen upon his face, and his eyes stared blankly at the ceiling. Fred – George’s other half, part of the invincible duo, was gone.

There was a moment of numbness, where Lee stood, rooted to the spot, the world silent around him. But then Molly Weasley let out a cry of anguish, and the bubble burst. Lee sobbed brokenly – throwing himself onto the floor next to George. He grabbed Fred’s lifeless hand, still warm from a few minutes ago, and simply cried. At that moment, he didn’t care what happened to him – if he lived or died – if his side won or lost. All he wanted was Fred. Fred – so large in life, and yet so small in death.

Molly Weasley was sobbing, and friends and family were gathered a small distance away. It was a blow to lose Fred. The world was finally realising how much it needed people like him.

And at that thought, Lee knew that even through the pain, he had to be strong. The world needed people like him and George – and they couldn’t afford to lose another. He leaned over and grasped George’s hand. George’s face was tearstained – he had never looked so much like Fred, and it hurt to see him there, still living, still breathing. Lee pulled himself to his feet, and George let himself be lead upwards. The boys didn’t need to speak. They knew each other far too well for that. Each knew what the other was thinking.

And so Lee and George stepped back into the war. They were going to keep fighting. Fighting for Fred.



Chapter 59: Saved
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Saved
by Ronsgirl29
(Gryffindor)



Another piece of crumbling wall crashes down near Parvati and I as we try to take cover, bringing me to this conclusion: I am going to die.

This whole dying business would be just fine except for a few things:

I’m not ready to die.

I’m too young to die.

I’m too pretty to die.

For Merlin’s sake, I’m too SINGLE to die.

The most recent boyfriend I had was last year, and he was stolen away by a girl that he didn’t even ask out. God, I don’t think they have even kissed yet. I, on the other hand, was happy to snog Ronald whenever he wanted.

Maybe that was my problem; I didn’t play hard to get. I once heard the phrase, ‘The chase is better than the catch’. Ron was a chaser, right? Although, I distinctly remember him wearing a funny hat, so maybe he played keeper…

"Lavender, watch out!" Parvati screams, pulling me out of my daze and back into the horrible reality around me.

“What’s wrong with you? You were nearly killed! I’ve been firing spells for the last five minutes, trying to protect us and you’ve just sat there doing absolutely nothing. What were you thinking?” She practically snarls, pulling me behind a large rock that was probably once part of Hogwarts.

Indignant, I say, “What was I thinking? I was thinking that this whole war is rubbish! We are nothing but children; we should not be fighting! The end of seventh year should be a time for celebrating surviving N.E.W.Ts, not for celebrating literal survival.”

Obviously not expecting such an animated response, Parvati looks a bit flustered. “Um, I don’t really think this is the time for you to be having a crisis, Lav, we are in the middle of a battle here.”

“No, I think now is the perfect bloody time to have a crisis!” I shout as I send a spell towards an attacking spider.

“There is less than a month until my older sister’s wedding, and I’m SUPPOSED to be a bridesmaid. How is she going to have a wedding when one of her bridesmaids goes off and get’s herself BLOWN UP by a couple of Death Eaters?” I cast a shield charm, blocking the red flash that was coming my way.

“Oh, and Grammy Brown is going to have a fit if I die. The grief and stress will probably make her blow up. This is just terrific. A blown up bridesmaid and a blown up grandmother; my sister will be livid. She-”

“LAVENDER, WOULD YOU SHUT UP AND HELP THAT BOY?” Parvati cries as she duels Travers, hitting him with a stunning spell.

What boy? Surely, I would have seen someone go down. I’m not so self-absorbed that someone dropping dead would escape my notice. Frantically, I look around and I become aware that Parvati was not speaking nonsense; the fallen boy she mentioned was not ten feet away.

How is it that I didn’t see him get hit?

I rush towards him, “I… You… Didn’t see… So fast… Busy ranting,” I say all at once, the words jumble in my mouth, coming out as gibberish.

He bellows out in agony, pleading with me to help. I use a levitation spell to move him to a place with less fighting.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t get you any farther. There is no way for me to protect us if I’m carrying you, we’d be easy targets and be goners before we reached the Great Hall.”

I look down at him, deciding he can’t be more than a fourth year; three years younger than me. He has so much life left to live, and he’ll never get the chance.

“I’m just so sorry,” I say more to myself than to him.

I know that my sorry will not heal him.

That my sorry will not make this all go away.

That my sorry does not mean anything.

But that’s all I have to offer, so I say it again;

“I’m sorry.”

The boy looks up, his eyes searching mine. There is so much blood that I don’t want to look, but I force myself to.

“Why?” he whispers softly, barely audible over the sounds of the war surrounding us.

I push the hair away from his eyes; they are the same color blue as my baby brother’s.

“Because I can’t save you,” I say, holding back more tears, imagining for a moment if this was little Alan, and selfishly being thankful that it isn’t.

“You can save yourself,” he says a little louder, but not by much.

“Bu-but I-I am n-not the on-one who needs sa-saving,” I stammer.

His facial expression changes as a small smile plays across his lips, “That’s where you’re wrong; everyone needs saving, some of us are just too blind to see it.”

I do my best to return his smile with one of my own, but at times like these, a smile is hard to come by.

“You’re right,” I wipe another tear from my eye, “but there are some people who don’t deserve to be.”

He doesn’t say anything, so I continue, “People who value attention from boys more than their friendships. People who become so wrapped up in their own thoughts that others stop being important. People who act as if they are superior, when actually they are hiding insecurity. People like me.”

Still he is quiet.

“Do people like me really deserve it? Is it even possible for me to be saved?”

I wait for him to say nothing is impossible. I need this boy to tell me it can happen.

“Please say yes,” I plead, looking down at his now closed eyes.

I begin to panic and check for a pulse.

There is no pulse.

A weird feeling sweeps through my body; I’ve never seen someone die before.

The feeling passes and I begin to feel sick. My gut is telling me I need to get him out of here, so I pick him up and head towards the castle.

It doesn’t matter that he’s nearly as big as me and I’m practically collapsing under the weight. It doesn’t matter that I can’t use my wand, making me a walking target. All that matters is that I get his body to a safe place.

If I get him in the castle, then someone can make this right. Someone, anyone, that isn’t me.

I keep walking, and by some miracle, I make it halfway carrying him. But, suddenly, in front of me I see a terrible sight. Fenrir Greyback is about to attack Hannah Abbott.

I can’t watch another person die.

I can’t not try to help her.

I’ve spent enough time doing things for me, and I’m running out of chances to make it right.

It’s now or never.

“I’m sorry,” I say one last time to the boy before I set him down.

“HEY, GREYBACK, LOOK OVER HERE! YUMMY LITTLE GIRL RIGHT HERE FOR THE TAKING!” I jump up and down screaming, hoping he’ll turn around.

Instead, he ignores me. His gaze is still locked on Hannah, who is too busy fighting to notice.

I try again.

“I’M TALKING TO YOU, YOU STUPID WOLF. WHY DON’T YOU PICK ON A GIRL WHO’S BACK ISN’T TURNED, YOU COWARD!”

At this, he snaps his head around. I nearly gasp at the sight of his menacing eyes and animal-like face. He smiles sadistically at my fearful expression, revealing his brown teeth.

“Not so brave now, are you, little girl?” he snarls, lunging towards me.

I brace myself as he grabs me, trying not to breath in the overpowering aroma of sweat and blood that exudes from him.

“I have to ask, though, why did you do it? I would have been fine with your little friend. Though, you do look a bit tastier…” The monster whispers into my ear.

“Because it was the only way I could save her.”

He barks out in laughter at my words, “Too bad you aren’t going to be saved.”

I think about what the boy said earlier, and about how before today I would have never risked my life for the sake of someone else. Before today, priority number one was always me.

I glance towards the boy’s body one last time as his teeth come closer and closer.

I close my eyes, knowing I should be more afraid, but I can’t find the will to scream.

Instead, I softly mutter, “I think somebody already has.”

* * * * *

A/N: Thanks to EmeraldCity for beta'ing this story!

Chapter 60: The Epitome of a Cold Heart
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The Epitome of a Cold Heart
by eternalangelkiss
(Hufflepuff)



Rodolphus Lestrange watched his wife fall one final time to the stone floor with a grace that would befit an angel; a cruel and sadistic angel. He waited for the pain from that loss to come, as his eyes focused on Bellatrix’s lifeless body. He waited for the tidal wave of grief and anger to overcome him. He waited with a bated breath, but those emotions never came. Rodolphus didn’t feel much of anything. He supposed that he would have felt grief if this had happened before his long years in Azkaban.

In truth, he was truly beginning to believe that he had reached the epitome of a cold heart. Why else would he feel nothing for someone whom he had spent so much of his time with?

Rodolphus hadn’t always been this unfeeling. There was a time when he had been brimming with life. He used to have ambitions and loves. He remembered that flying with his brother had been the brightest times in his childhood. He used to be enamored of Bellatrix.

But Bellatrix’s shadow had become a dark and constant companion to him. He had lived in it’s cold embrace for a long time. Wrapped in her insanity and held close by her tenacity, Rodolphus had forgotten a time when he was anything, but connected to her. No one had ever referred to him or his accomplishments without referring to his wife’s first. It was she who caught everyone’s eye. It was she who held favor with the Dark Lord and she who could laugh in the face of the grim reaper.

At one time, Rodolphus remembered a time when this very part of her had made his blood hot with need. But the years in Azkaban had cleaned him out of his need of her. In fact, it had cleaned him out of everything. Nothing made his heart beat a little faster, nor made his blood rush through him. Nothing gave him a jolt of fear, not even the chaotic fight that was happening around him.

There he was, staring at his dead wife as spells burst around him like exploding stars and he was indifferent to them. There must be something left inside that could feel pain and grief. He couldn’t be as gutted out as he had always suspected he was. Life must exist in him somewhere, hidden away in the recesses of his soul that the Dementors or his insane wife had never been able to get to. But try as he might, he couldn’t seem to find anything of the man he used to be.

Rodolphus turned towards his brother Rabastan, who stood at his side, fending off the spells that were directed at them. He was sure that Rabastan would induce some sort of emotion. They had been through the hell of Azkaban together and had survived more battles than should have been possible. Every since they were little boys, it had always been just the two of them against the world. There was no one that Rodolphus trusted more than his younger brother.

Looking at his younger brother now, he waited for the ghost of his past to remind him of the love he had had for Rabastan, the brother who had followed his every step, even when it led him into Azkaban.

Rodolphus wanted his heart to race in fear for Rabastan. He wanted his heart to break for Bellatrix. He wanted his heart to prove to him that it still existed. And as he waited, the world fell apart around him. He knew his brother was screaming something at him. He saw the Aurors as they closed in on them. He had his wand drawn and the spells were on the threshold of his lips, but Rodolphus didn’t have the urge to shoot anything back at them.

He was still waiting. Now it was no longer grief or the faint whisper of brotherly love that he waited for. He knew that grief would never come for his dead wife and his brotherly love would never return from the grave it had gone to. What he waited for now was the rush of adrenaline as death barreled down on him. Here was the moment when his life was closing in on its end, when his heart should pound madly in his chest. A wildfire of fear should roll through him, making every sight that much sharper, every smell that much stronger. His teeth should be clenched tight and his sweat should drench his head. But none of that happened and Rodolphus continued to wait.

And even as a green light came crashing down on him and his brother, he was still waiting for that barrage of life to erupt inside him, to prove to him that his life was more than just the shell he had been living.

Rodolphus Lestrange fell down dead next to his lifeless brother, his heart as cold in death as it was in life.

Chapter 61: Checkmate
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Checkmate
by Kaityb
(Slytherin)



The darkness creeps across the war struck plane, the grass weeping with the oncoming war. The wind scratches against his cheek, unmercifully screeching, begging for him to leave this once haven in peace. But it is not his decision. He is merely a black knight in a war run by two kings, black and white, far more powerful than he.

In the distance, he sees the fires that rage up around the castle, eating hungrily at its awe inspiring architecture unforgiving. With each lick of the cruel flames, it rids his memory of its last traces of childhood, robbing him of the brief happy years he remembers. There is only darkness now. There is no hope, no second chances.

The pieces move and the darkness, the black king, is winning. The white king has fallen, nearly a year ago now, but his strongest, most devoted knight, the boy who lived, will seek his vengeance. The black king fears him.

Check.

Amidst the decay, he takes a deep breath. His own destiny has been set out in stone, a knight to the dark king, his fearful leader. He knows that he will never see the light again, whether it is because his king’s reign will stretch across the land, or his own life will be taken from him.

He turns back towards the forbidden woods that, like the castle, are so familiar in his memory, that he is sure he can find his way through them with his eyes closed. Through the trees he hears his wife's strangled and never-forgiving laugh. She is like a joker, a cruel riddle, their wicked queen.

Her laughter lures him back through the trees, back to the clearly that they have retreated to while the dark lord, their king, plans his next move. When he breaks through the trees, he sees her, waiting for him at its edge. But when he joins her, she walks silently away. She is unattainable.

Her hair billows out behind her, a tangled mess of ebony hair and thorns. Her clothing falls over her sunken body like a bag, forgivingly. She is not the woman that he remembers, in fact, she is far from it. The years they spent apart in Azkaban has caused such a divide between them, that when their eyes meet, he does not recognise her gaze. He remembers the lonely nights, a few grime coated cells between them, and the never ending cold. He would call out to her, begging for her to reply, but she never would, she never will. The ring she bears on her finger is a lingering memory, a forgotten past, lost with their imprisonment.

Now free from their unforgiving years of turmoil, they are like a game of chess, marching to protect the king who has saved them. They are black pawns, knights, a queen and their king, relinquishing this war struck plane from those who defy them.

The fallen white king, Dumbledore, has long since fallen, but the game has not yet met its end. His strongest knight, the boy who lived, has stood up to replace him, and he sweeps across the board, dangerous to them all. Their king, the dark lord, fears him above all. It is the boy’s devotion to those around him that makes him so strong. It is their lack of it that does not allow them to be strung as strongly together. They will be defeated, eventually.

Between the lines and within them, there is a battle that not even he understands. His own wife, the woman who still bears his ring on her finger, is the queen who falls so easily for their king. She loves him more than anything, more than even he, the scorned knight. He is just a flitting memory, forgotten with their years apart.

Check.

As he watches, she turns sweeping through the masses of their pawns, and reaches the dark lord in their centre. The dark lord, even as a king in his own right is more hideous than even what Azkaban has brought to his own hollow skin. But he knows, this game is played on more than beauty. To her, beauty is not in appearance, but in strength and power.

The king is always the most protected, never to be sacrificed, always the only chance of winning. Without him, they are all condemned, she knows it, and he knows it. They will never work again.

He does not hear the whispers of the white hero who runs towards them, prepared to die. No, instead his eyes remain frozen on her, watching as her body twists in appreciation towards their king. Her voice carrying such sensitivity, that it is so unfamiliar to him.

He reaches for the wand in his pocket, jealousy so fierce in his stomach, that he almost mistakes it as love.

What is the difference anyways?

He retrieves it, holding it rigidly at his side. He bites back the spell that is so keenly on his lips.

She seems to sense it in him, because she turns, her eyes finally meeting his. They flash with warning and he immediately knows he will never win.

Checkmate.

Chapter 62: Gentle Acts of Kindness
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Gentle Acts of Kindness
by scooterbug8515
(Hufflepuff)




Years, so many years had passed.  It was hard to believe how many years had actually passed for the Fat Friar.  It seemed like just yesterday he was at Hogwarts of the beginning, spreading his gentle message when things seemed to go so topsy-turvy.  He would never forget the fight that grew between lords Godric and Salazar.  He thought he would never see anything as horrid as that again.  Sadly the old ghost was mistaken. 

War and battle still surrounded the school on more occasions than the Friar would care to count but he never thought it would come to the sacred school of learning.  He knew something was awry as all the students of his house were ushered out.  He worried over the children it had been the most horrid and horrific of years.  He tried to speak out against the actions of that year but his habitation there in the castle was at risk.  He was of no use if expelled from the castle so the Friar kept quite and worked to encourage those that remained in his house always reminding them to pluck up and have courage and look at the brighter side of things.  It was hard on everyone when so many from his house were missing.

The missing students, that was the hardest on the Friar.  He prayed that they were safe and okay.  Did prayers actually reach heaven when one was already dead?  Was it not much like purgatory only he remained on the earth rather than moving on?  He had to believe that his prayers did reach heaven and the missing students had a saint watching over them, much like he silently prayed over his students now as they progressed into the great hall with them careful not to allow his cold being to brush against the students they seemed already cold and frightened enough as it was.

When the news reached his ears that battle had reached Hogwarts he gave what gasp he could considering he lacked breath in his body for more years than he would care to admit.  The enemy was in search for the young Potter boy, he had heard many a roomer about the boy some good and others not so good but he believed in the best in people even now.  He knew the importance of this battle it was one that was rearing it’s head once more from an early time when many student’s parents were in school.

Before long it was decided that the younger students would be ushered out of the school for their safety.  The friar took it upon himself to help usher the younger ones out of the school.  “This way!  Hurry along!  All will be well!” he spoke as cheerily as he could though there was a fear in his ghostly heart that said that things were not going to be as well as he tried to make it out to be.  Yet he could not show his true fears for the lives of those around him.  The students of his house looked to him as a beacon of light and he was not going to fail in carrying the torch, though the sounds of faint tears did stop his flight above the heads of students.

The crowd continued on but the small cries remained.  There was a young child of eleven if the Friar had to judge. She was still in her pale yellow dressing gown with white flowers and lace, a dilapidated pink rabbit hanging from her arm.  She sniffled as the Friar approached her.

“Sweet child, it will be alright,” he spoke encouragingly wishing he could gently brush the girl’s arm in tender care but she looked cold enough as it was.  “If you follow with the crowds you will be taken to safety.”

The girl let out another sniffle before speaking, “I know I will be safe but I don’t know if my brother will!” she cried out a fresh set of tears streaming down her face.

“Dear me, he’s chosen to remain and fight?” asked the Friar.

The girl nodded solemnly. 

“I will keep an eye out for him,” promised the Friar, “Now run along dear!”

With a nod the girl took off with the crowd.  The Friar held a grim look on his face.  He said another quite prayer for the poor boy before taking off to see if he could find him and help out in what few ways he could during the great battle.  It was a battle for the ages, and the brother of the little girl did survive and it brought the Friar great joy when he could lead the young girl back to her safe and sound older brother.

Chapter 63: Satisfaction
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Satisfaction
by Reyes91
(Slytherin)



He was one of his favorites. He was one of his most loyal followers, even above Bellatrix. He had been with him since day one, well before he was known as one of the greatest wizards to have ever existed. He had done everything for him. Tortured countless of Muggles and non-believers, and murdered even more. His life rested in the Dark Lord’s hands, and he was proud of that fact. Then why, after everything he had done, was he only assigned one thing in the biggest fight of his life? Why was the only order the Dark Lord gave him was to kill the werewolf? That pathetic, poor, weak half-breed was his target while Bellatrix dealt with his wife? That was it? He was Antonin Dolohov, for Merlin’s sake. He was better than that. He was better than him. Fenrir could wipe up the floor with the filthy half-breed for all he cared.

Antonin ducked quickly as a stray green beam whizzed over his head. He silently cursed himself, getting distracted at a time like that wasn’t acceptable. The Dark Lord gave him a mission and, no matter how much he hated it, he had to do it.

There, just over twenty feet away, was the filthy half-breed. He was dueling and searching frantically at the same time; probably looking for that blood-traitor wife of his.

Antonin picked up his pace and willed his aching, burning feet to carry him past the various duels and over the dead bodies that blanketed the ground. The Dark Lord would be watching him, he knew he would. Antonin had to work quickly.

“Hello, mutt,” Antonin called out once he was close enough. Before the waste of space could fully face him, Antonin shouted, “Expelliarmus!”

The spell was easily blocked, as he had expected. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted Bellatrix doing the exact same with the mutt’s wife.

The werewolf fired out stunning spell after stunning spell, but all either missed or were blocked. He was too distracted. They were closer to Bellatrix and his wife, and his thoughts were barely on Antonin. A bad choice, any good wizard would know to never let your heart get the best of you in battle.

Reducto!” Antonin cried out.

The werewolf was able to jump out of the way mere seconds just as the spell shot through the ground next to him, creating a small explosion and sending chunks of debris flying out at everyone nearby. The werewolf fell off to the side though as a large piece of the broken ground struck him on the side of the head. Cringing, he ignored the large gash that instantly appeared on his head and gripped his wand, shooting out another stunning spell at Antonin which, of course, missed.

“You should aim to kill, you idiot,” Antonin said. He then glanced back to the battle Bellatrix was having with her niece. It would soon be over. “Thinking of your wife? Or, are you thinking of your friends? Don’t worry, you’ll be with them soon enough--,”

Incarcerous!”

Thick ropes flew out at Antonin, but with a fast swish of his wand, he burnt them to the ground. With another swish, he sent out a stinging hex that sliced the werewolf’s chest. Antonin grinned and sent the hex out again, forcing the mutt to his knees.

“This is too easy,” Antonin whispered.

He kicked the wand out of the mutt’s hand, watching it slide a good distance away from them. Leaning forward, he took a handful of the mutt’s hair and yanked his head back, resting the tip of his wand on his bare throat.

“Look over at your wife,” Antonin instructed. He forced the mutt’s head to turn and they both watched as Bellatrix disarmed the blood-traitor and hit her with the Cruciatus Curse. Antonin let out a laugh as the werewolf made an attempt to break free. “Such a shame, isn’t it? You have a young child, right? He’ll be better off without the two of you anyway.”

The werewolf’s eyes went back to Antonin, and he couldn’t help but smirk at the mixture of anger and defeat that clouded them.

Crucio,” Antonin muttered.

The curse struck the wolf and he clinched up, grinding his teeth together. He wouldn’t scream. He wouldn’t give Antonin the pleasure.

“A waste,” Antonin spat, and he gave him another dose of the curse.

As the cries around him grew louder, Antonin couldn’t help but look around once more. A mane of dark brown, bushy hair distracted him at once. It was her, that Granger girl…the only one who had ever evaded him. She was attempting to aid a younger girl who had been gravely injured in the battle. The smirk Antonin wore slipped off his face and was replaced with a slight snarl. The filthy Mudblood would get hers, he wouldn’t lose her again.

“I’m done with you,” he told the werewolf. “Avada Kedavra.”

The green light struck the mutt and he fell back, stiff as a statue, with the pain permanently etched in his face.

Antonin didn’t bother to see how far Bellatrix had gone, though he was able to hear the gut-wrenching scream that had to come from the blood-traitor. Antonin walked on anyway, dodging past the other duels and shielding himself from stray spells. All that was in his sight was her and nothing would stop him. Not that time…not ever again.

Just as he crossed the nearly destroyed Great Hall, the Mudblood must have sensed his presence because she faced him. The determination on her face never faded as she sent a stunning spell his way.

Protego,” Antonin said with ease, and the spell bounced off his invisible shield, hitting the glass windows off to the side of the Hall.

He sent off a non-verbal trip jinx, but she deflected it as easily as he did her stunning spell. She was better than he thought.

“Well, this ought to be fun,” he said to himself.

He fired off several non-verbal spells, but not a single one caught her off guard. Potter must have trained his little follower well. No matter, Potter wasn’t around to help her any longer, and he wouldn’t lose her again.

The Mudblood fired off more spells, one of such nearly grazed Antonin. He could hear Bellatrix shouting out for him and, in seconds, she was hurrying to his side.

“Get back,” he yelled, keeping his main focus on the Mudblood.

“Antonin--,” Bellatrix tried.

“I said get back. She’s mine.”

Granger looked back and forth from Bellatrix to Antonin, chest heaving heavily up and down. Antonin clutched his wand tighter just as a shield charm was produced at his side. Stealing a glance to the right, the shield had come from Bellatrix. She had deflected a blow from a young girl with bright red hair, a Weasley spawn most likely.

“Finish her,” Bellatrix told him with a smile before running off after the other girl.

Antonin didn’t need to be told by her. The stubborn, undefeated look on that Granger girl’s face was all the motivation he needed. He was going to wipe that look off her face, and it would be the most satisfying experience of his life.

Protego,” he said as she shot out another spell. Wordlessly, he fired off a disarming spell. The strength of it sent her flying back a bit, her wand slipping from her hand.

Too many people were battling in the Hall, no one was paying any attention to their little spat. No one was paying enough attention to help her. Another smile came to Antonin’s face as he approached the Mudblood. She tried to hurry for her wand, but Antonin’s foot met her hand, stomping down hard on it. She cried out, but Antonin casted a quick silencing spell over her.

“Feels awful, doesn’t it?” he asked. Her eyes widened, she knew what was going to happen, but she still tried to go after her wand again. Antonin chuckled, kicking it away. “I know you’re smarter than this. Potter surely trained you well, but you shouldn’t have avoided me the first time. You will never do it again.”

Raising his wand, he performed a slashing movement while saying, “Penetralis Viscera.”

A purple flamed “x” formed and flew straight into Granger’s abdomen. In a second, her face reddened and she keeled over, clutching her stomach. She tried to keep her mouth shut; he could see her jaw tightening. She didn’t want to scream, but her mouth widened in moments and a large vein stuck out of her neck.

“Hermione!”

The loud, deep cry overpowered all of the others. Antonin looked over his shoulder and spotted another redhead running toward them, avoiding all the spells he could. Someone else interrupted him before he could come, but his large, pain-filled blue eyes were locked on Antonin and the withering girl below him.

Antonin leaned down, pushing a strand of the Mudblood’s hair away from her ear, and whispered, “Your boyfriend’s here. He wants to hear you scream.”

Standing back up, he pointed his wand to her mouth and released the silencing spell. Soon, her agonizing scream merged with all of the other shouts and cries. As Antonin stared down at her, a real smile came to his face. Noticing the look on his face, Granger bit down on her tongue, stopping her own scream. Her arms shook as she tried to push herself up on all fours. Antonin knelt back down and gripped the back her hair, forcing her to look up at him. However, the cold, hard stare she gave him rattled him a bit.

“Never again,” he muttered, shaking away that feeling. Her eyes brimmed up with tears, but she wouldn’t let out another sound. “Look how far your beloved Potter got you. You should have stayed at home, Mudblood.”

“Go...,” she said, letting out a few coughs.

The smile widened on Antonin’s face as her noticed her red-stained teeth and lips. “Having last words? Go on then.”

Granger reached out and latched her hand on the front of his shirt, forcing him closer. Antonin couldn’t help but move forward, and the distinct metallic smell of blood filled up his nose. The pain was evident by the way she held her body, but she wouldn’t give in to him any longer.

“Go to Hell,” she whispered.

Antonin’s smile dropped and he quickly shoved her back. She lied on her side, her head resting on the rough floor. Her eyes were staring at something behind Antonin, but he wouldn’t dare look. He wouldn’t miss something he had been aching to see for years.

“Harry’s…going to…kill you,” she managed to say, "and Voldemort."

The words were softer than before, but Antonin was able to hear it over the other yells. He heard it clear as day. He glared as Granger took in a deep breath, wincing as she did it, and her body fell limp. Her eyes stayed open, but the pain on her face vanished. Despite the trickle of blood that fell from her slightly opened mouth, her tear-stained face looked peaceful.

Antonin stood straight, his wand shaking mercilessly in his hand. She was dead; he had made her pay…. Then why was he still not satisfied?


A/N: Penetralis = Latin for "penetrate" and Viscera = internal organs.

Chapter 64: The Prodigal Son
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The Prodigal Son
by melian
(Gryffindor)




Percy Weasley felt uncomfortable.

It had been coming on for weeks – no, months – when the Ministry had started on its campaign of "Magic is Might". Percy had always believed in authority and was most comfortable when provided with a solid set of rules to follow, but the rules themselves had gradually become more and more unviable. Unviable, that is, to any witch or wizard with a conscience.

Making a registry of Muggle-borns? Fine, he could deal with that. It was another census of the magical population and required forms to be filled in correctly and lower-ranked staff to be pulled into line to ensure they conformed. He had felt less comfortable at the trials of these Muggle-borns, though, where they had been asked to identify how they had stolen their magical ability.

Still, though, it was a job, and a good job at that. The way he'd been going, moving up the ranks due to his dedication and hard work, it was looking like he'd be his father's boss in no time.

But still, his conscience had started to protest. Not against his abandonment of his family – while not as convinced as he had once been, he still thought he had made the right decision, though his mother's obvious heartbreak did cut at him a little – but against the more strident decisions of the current Minister, Pius Thicknesse. Even with the Daily Prophet onside, it was getting more and more obvious, even to the general wizarding public, that his orders were being written by Death Eaters.

He looked around his flat. It was sparsely furnished – he only went there to sleep and shower, really, as most of his time awake was spent at work. There was the wireless in the corner that he'd been using to track Potterwatch over the past few months, and maybe the ingredients for one meagre meal in the cupboard, but that was about it. He had never had a visitor to his home, never entertained or even opened the door to a salesperson. Even Penelope had never been here … his thirst for professional advancement had meant that his relationship with her had hit the skids long ago. Thinking about it, he had sacrificed all his relationships for his work – lost everyone who had once been important to him. And for what? For a Minister who was now, obviously, at least to him, in the employ of Lord Voldemort.

Percy had a feeling that something would be happening soon. He had been keeping an ear out for Potterwatch recently, allowing himself to smile at the sound of his brother's voice and listening to what the resistance were doing. (They didn't refer to the Order any more, probably because its leader, Albus Dumbledore, was dead. Perhaps the Death Eaters had wanted to believe that the Order was now finished with – he had never really thought about that before.) And he had felt less and less inclined to report what he'd learned to his superiors at work, because somewhere, deep in his heart, he was starting to feel an affinity with the resistance himself. However, finding a way to fight the Ministry was difficult, not least because traitors – whether proven or not – were being imprisoned with such speed and regularity that it was difficult to keep up.

A month before, he had managed to break free for long enough to make contact with someone he believed was working for the resistance, in as much as Aberforth Dumbledore worked for anyone. The hair on the back of his neck standing up, Percy was sure that he and Aberforth would talk again soon. It was difficult to communicate, of course, as the Floo network was being watched (even for trusted Ministry employees such as himself), but they had been using Patronuses to get the occasional message back and forth.

Yes, he thought, surely he would hear something soon. There was a chill in the air and he couldn't shake the feeling that something important would be happening shortly. Maybe even tonight.

Sure enough, it was less than an hour later that the familiar goat appeared in front of him, drifting in through the window he had left open to get the breeze in. Though early May, it was surprisingly stuffy in London, even with the Dementors around, and any air flow was better than none. (At least, that was what he had told his boss that morning when his open window had been brought up as a potential security risk. That, and he never took any work home anyway so even if a resistance member DID get in, they wouldn't find anything anyway.)

"Troops gathering at Hogwarts," the goat said in Aberforth's grunting voice. "Prepare to fight."

Percy sprang into action. Not even thinking about whether he should try to disguise his intent – that would be clear enough very soon anyway – he grabbed a travelling cloak and his wand, made sure his glasses were on straight, and Disapparated to Aberforth's pub in Hogsmeade.

The landlord nodded at him as he arrived, and he took that to mean his presence was appreciated. "You're the Weasley kid?" he asked gruffly.

"Percy Weasley. Pleased to meet you," Percy said quickly, offering a hand to shake.

The barman didn't take it. "Don't waste time with that, get upstairs," he hissed. "Sitting room. I'll be there shortly."

Heading up the motheaten carpet on the stairs, Percy soon found the right room and sat in an old armchair that had the stuffing coming out in places. A few minutes later, Aberforth joined him.

"Sorry to kick you out like that but the front bar is a haven for Death Eaters," he said.

Percy was surprised. "Death Eaters? Here?"

The barman nodded. "They need somewhere to traffick their stolen goods, don't they?" he grunted. "I turn a blind eye and they don't pry into my business either." It was clear that this part of the conversation was over but Percy understood – Aberforth was just doing what he needed to in order to get by in this new world. Over the past few months, Percy had been doing the same thing himself.

"Uh – how do I get into Hogwarts from here?" he asked tentatively. Even he wasn't naive enough to believe that he could just march in through the front gates.

"Through here," Aberforth said gruffly, indicating a portrait above the fireplace in which a passageway now appeared. "They're all going through the tunnel to fight. If you get a move on you'll catch the last of 'em."

"Great, thanks," Percy said eagerly, not even baulking at the thought of walking into a painting. This was clearly the way to Hogwarts at the moment, at least without being caught, and if nothing else it certainly beat standing in a toilet and flushing oneself in. Taking a deep breath and clutching his wand tightly, he stepped into the tunnel.

He didn't know what he really expected to find at the other end. Hogwarts under siege, perhaps, or even the Dark Lord himself. What he didn't expect was to find himself, covered in dust and his glasses askew, face to face with almost all of his family. The people he had cut himself off from were the first ones to witness his repentance, and the significance of this fact didn't escape him.

The tension in the room – and what room was this? He didn't remember having been here in all his seven years at Hogwarts – was palpable and remained even through a blatant attempt to break the tension by Fleur Delacour. (Delacour? Or Weasley? Had she married his brother or was he remembering wrong? He wasn't sure.) Finally, after some garbled confessions and admissions of his own stupidity, which took less of an effort than he'd been anticipating, it dissipated and his mother, tears in her eyes, crossed the room and hugged him so tightly that he wondered if he might crack a rib or two. The biggest apology, though, the one that he knew that he had to make before he said anything else, was still before him.

Over his mother's shoulder, Percy sought out his father and looked him in the eye. "I'm sorry, Dad." It didn't feel like much but it was all he could get out (physically as well as emotionally – his mother still had a very tight grip on him and he was almost struggling for breath) and he hoped that his father understood how much was contained in those three words. From the look on the older man's face, he thought he did.

Finally, it seemed like enough had been said, or expressed, and his return to his family was complete. Odd that it had to take place under such difficult circumstances – with a war raging outside the room they were sequestered in – but he was pleased it had finally taken place. Some things, he realised, were too valuable to lose, and family was one of them.

Before long he found himself following Fred, George, Bill and Fleur out into the castle. The room the tunnel came out in was evidently on the fourth floor, and they made their way down to the Great Hall where it appeared everyone was congregating as a plan was worked out. Automatically moving towards the Gryffindor table, where they had sat for so many years, they found some room and sat down, awaiting orders.

As he sat and waited, looking at the huge number of nervous teenagers huddled together at their House tables, he thought about what he'd done. While he had been surreptitious in his resistance activities before – the little things like NOT reporting Potterwatch – this was beyond the point of no return. No matter what else happened, he had been confirmed as a resistance fighter now, and he knew that his cushy job at the Ministry was a thing of the past. No matter what happened here tonight, he would no longer work for Pius Thicknesse.

"What's up, Perce?" Fred asked amiably. "You're looking almost thoughtful, and we all know that's not like you in the slightest."

"Oh, just thinking about work," Percy said honestly. "I suspect I won't have a job after tonight … I might have to move back home."

"Well, Mum won't mind that at all," George assured him with a grin. "She's dying for someone to baby, what with Ginny at school, Ron off gallivanting around the countryside doing whatever, and Fred and me living in London."

"I never did make it into your shop, did I?" Percy mused. "I wanted to. I went past so many times, but I couldn't bring myself to face you."

"Never too late," Fred said, clapping him on the shoulder. "Drop by next week and we'll fit you out with all the … oh, wait, it's you, Perce, isn't it? Maybe what we sell isn't really your cup of tea."

"I can take a joke," Percy said defensively. "I can even make jokes, sometimes." He paused, taking in the twins' incredulous faces. "Not often, mind, but sometimes," he clarified.

Fred laughed, just as the rest of the Weasleys (minus Ron) joined them at the Gryffindor table and Professor McGonagall started telling the congregation where things stood. "You, joke?" he asked. "You don't remember how to joke, do you? I reckon I'll only believe that when I see it."

They were interrupted by the cold, high voice of Lord Voldemort penetrating the hall, offering a deal – the safety of the school, in return for Harry Potter. Percy knew that deal would never happen – even if Harry did give himself up, which Percy saw as highly unlikely, the school would probably be attacked anyway. Voldemort was like that. Taking a deep breath and sticking out his chest like he used to when he was Head Boy, he looked around at his family.

"This is it, isn't it? Fight or flight?"

Around him, underage students (and a number who were old enough but chose not to fight) were being shepherded out of the Great Hall, leaving behind only those who were prepared to risk everything in the school's defence.

"Too right it is," George said with a grin. "So, Percy my friend, what'll it be?"

Percy, though knowing it was asked in jest, managed to look insulted at the very suggestion that his bravery would falter at this critical point. He had not risked everything in order to come here tonight and then flee at the first sign of danger. "You're asking me that? I thought you were supposed to be smart!" He looked around at his family, his gaze resting on his father, who was looking old, tired, yet determined. "I'm with the rest of you. I'm ready to do what it takes."

"Great to hear," Bill said, beaming at him. "We need as many fighters as we can get. This won't be easy."

Percy nodded grimly and adjusted his glasses. "Well, count me in." He paused, taking another deep breath, and started to prepare himself for what was to come. "I'm ready."


Disclaimer: Text in bold is dialogue taken directly from page 487 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, UK edition hardcover.

Thanks to CessZ for beta-ing this one-shot.


Chapter 65: The Essence of Power
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image by soliloquy of TDA

The Essence of Power
by EmeraldCity
(Gryffindor)





To serve your country is honourable. To serve yourself is selfish. To serve someone you love is love itself.

To serve a powerful man is smart.

Antonin Dolohov knew from the moment he pledged his allegiance to Voldemort that he would gain a certain power, a power that would bring fear to the Mudbloods. He pledged his loyalty young - younger than most, in fact - but he knew what he was doing.

When he pledged himself, he felt something he had never felt before. As he looked on through the clutters of people, hexes being thrown this and that way, his wand gripped tightly in his hand, that feeling he felt years ago crept through him and possessed him once more; it moved through his veins like electricity. His heart beat so hard he could have sworn it would burst. He had to protect his Master, his beliefs, and his honour. He would die before he’d let a filthy Mudblood taint his Master.

The expression of a crazed warrior etched on his face, he worked his way through the people around him, never hesitating to throw a deadly curse to whomever go in his way. That was the way his Master taught him: Never think twice. The logic proved well and Antonin followed it religiously. Never regret a killing, was something else his Master also had taught him. Every death of a traitor or Mudblood only brought the Wizarding World one step closer to purity. Antonin held to his Master’s words as if they were his only life source.

He spotted a few steps ahead of him a familiar face: Remus Lupin. He hadn’t gone to school with him, but he knew he had married the daughter of Andromeda Black, a traitor, and was close with Sirius Black, another traitor. Clenching his teeth, Antonin pulled his wand and began a duel with the Traitor. The Traitor retaliated quickly and efficiently, his surprise not lasting long.

It was only him and The Traitor fighting in his mind. He could only see the scars on his opponent’s face, the fierceness in his brown eyes, the moving of lips as he shot hexes toward Antonin. He is a fool, Antonin thought angrily. Not once had The Traitor used an Unforgivable Curse; why? In any situation, Antonin would - but surely in a life or death situation a Traitor like Lupin would. The thought only angered Antonin more.

Finally, Antonin saw the opening he needed: The Traitor slipped backwards slightly. Not missing a beat, Antonin quickly and fiercely shot a Dark curse toward The Traitor, the same he used on the Granger girl in the Department of Mysteries. Only this time, he executed it more fiercely, deadly, and efficiently. A sardonic smile came across his face as he watched The Traitor lose all emotion from his face and fall to the floor. He ran over and watched the light leave the brown eyes of The Traitor.

Still smiling, Antonin walked away without looking back.

Beta: blueirony

Chapter 66: I Wanted To Die Smiling
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I Wanted To Die Smiling
by SummerBabe
(Slytherin)




Life’s full of uncertainties. Everyone knows that. One moment, you’re up at six in the morning, training for quidditch and flirting with that pretty fifth year, and the next, you’re opening a joke shop and earning your own living. Everything can change in an instant. Life’s unpredictable and uncertain, and sometimes, we reach the point were we think nothing can surprise us, that nothing can shock us anymore.

That’s usually when life decides to strike and knock us on our arses.

Everyone knew that there was going to be a war. We could all feel it. What with Harry and Voldemort and the Death Eaters, it was inevitable and unavoidable. No one was shocked when the war broke out, especially not my family.

We knew going in that people were going to die. It was, after all, a war. Sure, my entire family was there, but it just never occurred to me that someone I cared about, someone I loved would actually get hurt.

I’ve never been more wrong.

An explosion went off and I was surprised by how loud it was. I turned to see what had caused it and that moment, that precise moment was when life shocked me for the first time in a very long time. The site of Fred, my brother, my best friend on the entire planet, lying dead on the ground left me paralyzed. Chaos raged on all around me but I felt as though time had stood completely still. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t think. All I did was stare at Fred’s body.

I didn’t move until I saw Percy come out of no where and throw himself on Fred’s body. He was yelling something a me but I couldn’t understand what he was saying. Everything sounded far away and fuzzy. I felt my legs move slowly toward them, my mind still covered with fog.

The battle, Fred, Harry, Voldemort - nothing felt real. It was as if I were reading it in a book or watching one of those muggle films dad loved so much. I felt myself fall to my knees next to Fred’s body.

Fred’s body.

Fred’s body.

Fred, my Fred, was dead. I didn’t get any warning. He just…died. He was gone in an instant. A life taken; A candle’s flame snuffed out.

I could feel someone’s voice next to me and a cold hand gripping my arm, but I couldn’t bring myself to move. I was still cold and numb.

Someone finally gripped me under my arms and pulled me to my feet.

“George!” a frantic voice said, “You have to keep moving! You can’t stay here anymore.” The voice sounded so familiar but I couldn’t place it. I looked around, my eyes slowly coming back into focus, but there was no one, only Percy still crying over Fred’s body.

Fred’s body.

Fred’s body.

“You have to go!” The same voice whispered frantically in my ear. I turned around, suddenly very much alert and aware of my surroundings.

“Fred?” I croaked. Someone crashed into me and a spell whizzed past, inches from my head. I had to keep moving. I had to keep fighting. For Fred and for the rest of my family. What if something happened to Ginny or Ron?

I knelt down and pulled Percy to his feet. “Come on, Percy. We have to go,” I said, my voice cracking at every vowel.

“B-but, we can’t just leave him here. It’s not right. We can’t -” Percy muttered desperately, his eyes full of tears and his voice strained.

“I know. We’ll come back for him. I promise,” I said. I didn’t understand why I was so calm. There was a war raging on all around us and my brother was dead, and yet, I was calm. In control. Telling Percy that we would come back for Fred’s body. “Percy,” I said, gently gripping his shoulder.

“Let’s go,” he said, tearing his eyes away from Fred.

The rest of the battle was a blur for me. I was vaguely aware of my mum screaming and people cheering. I’m told the battle lasted for hours. It felt like minutes to me. We won - Voldemort was dead, Harry was defeated him, and the war was over.

And I couldn’t care less.

I know that life is filled with uncertainties and surprises, but I never expected Fred’s death. I knew that we would die, but I always figured it we would be old. I had this irrational feeling that we would die together, laughing, and pulling a brilliant prank together. It was going to be our finest moment.

And now it’s never going to happen.

Fred was dead. His life was short but at least he lived it to the fullest. He was a bright, shinning flame - full of warmth and life and now he was gone.

At least he went out with a bang.

Chapter 67: She Is Mine
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She Is Mine
by momotwins
(Ravenclaw)


Arthur Weasley ran through the crowded ruins of the Great Hall, sparing only a glance at the duel between Lord Voldemort and McGonagall, Kingsley, and Slughorn. He couldn't concentrate on that at the moment, though the larger portion of the students and townspeople seemed to be watching them. His attention was on the other fight that still raged, and he shoved his way through to the front of the circle that had gathered round. The world had shrunk down in his eyes to this one, final fight.

His wife, the mother of his children, the woman he had loved for more than thirty years, was duelling Bellatrix LeStrange.

He wanted to jump in, to stop them, to protect Molly or fight Bellatrix himself, but he knew he could not – they were too intense, another person joining in could distract Molly for a crucial second. It was better to let her fight this battle herself, but he did not think he would breathe again until Molly was back safely in his arms. He could not even think of the alternative.

“Dad?”

Arthur couldn't drag his eyes away from his wife to answer the child at his side. She was duelling with her entire being, her face screwed up in pain and rage; he'd never seen her fight this hard, never seen her quite like this. She was magnificent; beautiful and terrible as she fought her distant cousin, and the thought flashed across Arthur's mind that he was very lucky to have this woman on his side, to have been in her heart for all these years.

“Daddy?” Ginny's voice registered this time, cutting through some of the panic in his mind. There was fear in her voice, and though he still could not stop looking at Molly, he put an arm around their daughter and drew her close, mussing her hair a little in an unconscious gesture of reassurance.

Bellatrix was taunting Molly, but she was making Bellatrix work – the women were fighting to kill, and Arthur watched in terror, willing his wife to get Bellatrix first. He had always known she was talented, known she could fight, but he had never seen her fight like this. He knew it was all for Fred, for their fallen son, and their other children and the grandchildren she was determined to see, the grandchildren she'd already started nagging Bill about.

And then Bellatrix was falling, Molly had won, and he heard Lord Voldemort's scream of rage, bodies flying past, and saw the Dark Lord turn his wand on Molly. Molly had turned to Voldemort immediately after Bellatrix fell, and as he watched his wife face off with the most dangerous wizard alive, Arthur knew that she had known all along what would happen if she defeated Bellatrix, had known Voldemort would turn on her next. Arthur felt his heart freeze as his eyes fixed on his beloved, maddeningly brave wife, and his breath caught in his throat as he raised his wand, ready to run to her. Not Molly, not Molly, I can't live without my Molly -

But a Shield Charm went up between them as Arthur stepped forward, deflecting Voldemort's attention just as he started to bring his wand down on Molly, and she looked around for the source of her salvation. Harry appeared from under the Invisibility Cloak, and Arthur felt Ginny's fingers dig into his arm, heard her draw in her breath in a sob. His mind was spinning.

Harry was alive, and he had saved Molly.

Voldemort was focused on Harry alone now, and the crowd closed in, forming a circle around them. Arthur stumbled forward, and found Molly, pulling her into his arms. He did not even care what happened around them any more, he simply knew he had to hold his wife and feel the life and breath in her.

Molly buried her face in his chest, clinging to him. He kissed the top of her head, then put his hands on her face and tilted it upward.

“I love you,” he said fervently, bending down to kiss her. “I love you, Molly.”

She kissed him back, her face wet with tears. “I love you too, Arthur.”

He was almost overcome by the sudden urge to shake her for putting him through that terrifying battle. “You scared the life out of me,” he said instead, wrapping her back into his arms.

“Arthur, let go, Harry is fighting-”

“Don't think I'm ever letting you go. Ever.”

She gave him a little push, and he released her enough that they could walk together to see the final duel, but he held onto her hand tightly.

Ginny had disappeared; he could see her red hair at the front of the crowd that surrounded Harry and Voldemort, standing next to Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbottom. She was gripping both of them tightly by the arm, one white-knuckled hand on each of them, her lips moving in a near-silent whisper. Arthur led Molly to stand directly behind their daughter, and Molly reached out with one hand to stroke Ginny's hair. Ginny did not appear to register anything that was going on around her, her wide eyes locked onto Harry's form. Arthur could make out what she was whispering over and over now that he was closer.

“He'll win, he'll win, he'll win, he'll win...”

Arthur looked up at the messy-haired boy he knew so well, his son's best friend, his foster son, and suddenly understood that his little girl felt quite as strongly for Harry as Arthur did for her mother. Times of war brought out those sort of intense feelings, even in the very young. It was how he'd gotten Molly to elope with him, that feeling that the world might end at any moment.

He looked around the circle to find his other children, saw Ron with Hermione clinging to his arm, both looking relieved and terrified at the same time as they watched their dear friend, and Charlie and Percy across from him, staring avidly at the duel with their wands still drawn, and a hollow-eyed George standing with Lee Jordan, and Bill further down from them, his scarred face unreadable but his eyes alight with emotion, and Fleur was gripping her husband's arm tightly much the way Hermione was holding on to Ron, and then Arthur looked back at Harry just as the sun crested over the crumpled walls of the castle.


Chapter 68: This Moment
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This Moment
by batsenecal
(Gryffindor)




It had finally come to this. After years of nothing, then years of hiding, all those years had come down to this final night. Father had always said they would not go down without a fight, and a fight they were giving.

Not that we were just standing to the side, letting them drop us like billywigs, but they were tenacious. But for every one of them, we had two or three. And plenty of them had fallen: The werewolf and his wife; one of the Weasley twins.

They did not need to die. The Dark Lord had told them if they give up Potter, then the castle would be left alone. When Pansy shouted for someone to grab him. However, something I have never seen happened. Instead of lunging at Potter, the rest of the school stood, guarding him. Every wand not belonging to a Slytherin was pointed at us. It gave me chills to see that.

It was that moment that I knew there would be a fight.

But something was happening. While the fighting grew more vicious, more brutal, Death Eaters would report to each other sightings of Potter. Though we had all been ordered to fight, our main goal was Potter. Capture Potter, bring him to the Dark Lord, do not kill him.

However, Potter hardly entered the fray. Instead, we saw him sprinting through the castle, searching for something. The three of us had found him in the Room of Hidden Things. Crabbe was an idiot, trying to kill Potter. I tried to stop him. But, the fiendfyre had gotten out of control. Now, Crabbe is dead.

That diadem Potter was searching for exploded in Potter’s hands out in the corridor. He did not look concerned. Instead, he seemed grimly determined. Granger said something about a snake. She had been talking about Nagini, I now know.

It was that moment that I realized something: Harry Potter could possibly defeat the Dark Lord.

That thought terrified me, and I slipped away unnoticed by Potter or his friends. I knew I had to get to the Dark Lord or to my parents. The battle, though seemingly showing us as the victors, was not the main contributor. The only thing that could determine which side would win was Potter.

Soon enough, someone caught me. It was a Death Eater I did not know and he grabbed me, aiming to curse me. I screamed at him my name, trying to get through his thick skull what was happening, where I had to be. But he wouldn’t listen.

Then, he was down, stunned. I turned, searching for who had come to my rescue. I received, instead, a punch to the face and Weasley’s voice screaming at me how they had now saved me twice. It had been Potter, Weasley and Granger under Potter’s invisibility cloak.

At the time, I did not appreciate the situation. I now owed Potter more than a life debt. Instead, I decided, for once, to lay low, to not attract attention to myself. And I made the most important decision in my life. As I crept from corridor to corridor, what little spell work I conjured found itself aimed at those I used to call comrade. Death Eaters, thinking I would help them, were surprised to find a spell in their back.

It was that moment I realized I wanted the Dark Lord to lose; that I wanted Potter to win.

And then the Dark Lord called for Potter to come meet him in the forest. I knew Potter would. We all did. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind of what Potter would do. I know they tried to prevent him. Shacklebolt had people watching for him and ordered them to do whatever they had to in order for Potter to stay in the safe castle. They never thought Potter would pull a Slytherin move and sneak passed them under his cloak.

The entire world seemed to stop when the Dark Lord approached the castle. Behind him, the half-giant was carrying Potter’s body. I could feel the people around me stop breathing. Gasps echoed through the crowd and I heard people shout Potter’s name, as if he could hear us. Little did we know he could.

It was that moment that I felt true despair. I thought Potter had lost; therefore, the world had lost.

And then something happened. Chaos broke out as a surge of people burst through the gates, the Hogwarts giant appeared and Longbottom hacked off the head of Nagini. Out of the din, I heard Hagrid yell out: “HARRY! HARRY--WHERE’S HARRY?”

It was that moment that I felt a glimmer of hope. Maybe--just maybe…

The battle exploded outward. Spells flew everywhere and people began to surge back into the school. I felt a hand grip my arm and saw my mother’s worried face before she pulled me to her. For the first time, I felt safe. I could hear my father’s voice saying, “Draco…Draco…”

Then shouts sounded all around us: “HE’S ALIVE!” and “Harry!”. Over the heads of the crowd, I could see him, standing in between Voldemort and Molly Weasley. They began to circle and Harry called for us to stay where we were, to not help him. Voldemort called him a coward, using all others as shields, that Harry’s survival was an accident.

Harry, though, was never deterred. Voldemort shouted he was the best, that Harry’s greatest defense and weapon, love, stood no chance, and that nothing could defeat the Elder wand he had stolen from Dumbledore’s tomb.

Harry then revealed something that made my heart grow cold. Voldemort had killed the wrong person. Severus Snape had never been the master of the wand because he and Dumbledore had arranged the old man’s death. Instead, the person who had disarmed Dumbledore held claim. My heart stopped when Potter said, “The true master of the Elder Wand was Draco Malfoy.”

It was that moment that I felt my own mortality. Because of Voldemort, I was going to die. My mother’s hands gripped my arm tighter and my father placed a protective hand on my shoulder.

Then my mind jolted forward. If I was the master of the Elder Wand because I had disarmed Dumbledore, that would mean something far more wondrous. Because just weeks earlier, I had been disarmed.

It was that moment that I felt absolute certainty. Harry Potter was the master of the Elder Wand. Voldemort stood no chance.

As Harry lifted the wand he had taken from me weeks ago, my mind was ringing. Voldemort shouted the death curse and Harry his trademark spell. One fell while the other claimed the Elder Wand.

It was that moment that I felt truly free. Harry Potter had defeated Tom Riddle.

And now, as I stand on Platform 9 ¾, I watch him, surrounded by his family. His eldest son hangs out of the Hogwarts Express, laughing, looking nearly like him. His youngest, a girl, grips her mother’s hand. Ginny Weasley smiles at her brother, who is talking to his own children with his wife, Hermione Granger. And Potter is kneeling, speaking with his middle child. They look exactly alike. The boy’s name is Albus Severus.

It is this moment that I feel the greatest gratitude towards Harry Potter as I squeeze my own son’s shoulder.

Author's Note: Short lines taken from the U.S. version of DH: pg 733, pg737, and pg. 743.

Chapter 69: Torn
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Torn
by Melian
(Gryffindor)




Sitting with his family at the Gryffindor table, George Weasley had never felt more alone.

Yes, he was part of a large group, eight strong among the rabble of the Great Hall, and yes, that group was united. However, it was grief that united them, grief mixed with a dash of relief it was all over, and a very small measure of euphoria that Voldemort had been defeated. However, grief was undeniably the dominant emotion, because no matter how many times George counted his family members - even accounting for the fact that Ron was elsewhere with Harry - he always came up one short.

Fred was not there.

Ginny was there, her head on their mother's shoulder, tears streaming silently down her face. Bill was there, with Fleur, his battle-scarred face weary and drawn. Charlie was there, drumming the table with his fingers, a nervous twitch that used to annoy the living daylights out of Fred and George when they were younger. Percy was there, his glasses broken, not bothering to fix them; he was staring vacantly at the wall beyond. And his parents were there, silent, stoic, their grief clearly mingled with relief that eight of their family had survived.

He knew where Fred was – his body, along with the others who had died as a result of the battle, was in a chamber off the Great Hall. George had seen him there, his eyes vacant and unseeing, the ghost of a smile still on his face. He had died in the middle of making a joke, of welcoming Percy back to the family, and now that emotion would be forever etched on his features, a ghostly reminder of what he had been.

Fred had never been quiet this long in his life, George thought vacantly, remembering the crash that had silenced his brother. Then he looked at the table, humbled, horrified by his last thought. Fred was quiet, he thought fiercely, because he was no longer alive.

It's not fair, he thought angrily, kicking the table leg by his feet. Why did Fred have to be the one to die? Why couldn't it have been me? Fred should be here now, he should be sitting here with us, he should be making inappropriate jokes about the battle and the survivors in the way that only Fred could. He should be here …

None of the Weasleys spoke. It was like there was a silent understanding among them that this was to be their tribute – silence in Fred's memory. And they were all suffering, but George was sure that he suffered the most, not because he was more deserving but because Fred had been like a part of him.

That was it, he understood suddenly. Now that enough time had passed for it to settle in, he knew that that gaping hole he felt was truly because Fred had held that place in him, that as twins they had shared a bond that no one else could penetrate. Even Lee hadn't been able to get inside that part of the relationship, despite being an honorary twin in so many ways. Part of George was Fred, just as part of Fred was George. And now, that link was broken, and could never be repaired.

George felt someone squeeze his shoulder, and looked up with damp eyes to see Bill giving him a small smile. Bill had an idea of how he must feel, he thought, and he tried to return the smile, but even that was asking too much of his facial muscles. Smiling would have to wait, he realised. Before he could do that, he would need something to smile about.

He knew that there should be some joy in his heart. While there had been casualties, they were fewer than they might have been and Harry had even come back from the dead to take Voldemort out in what was really one of the most anti-climatic duels ever seen. There had been more talk than actual fighting in that duel, and then one spell each had been enough to finish it. The implication, though, was huge – the Dark Lord, who had been ruining their lives for the past year, was dead, and the Death Eaters either killed or taken in by the authorities. He understood that very few had escaped. Light had defeated dark, just as the sun was rising (he would appreciate that symbolism more when he was less in shock and mourning, he thought), and victory was theirs. The wizarding world was now safe.

So, in that jubilation of victory, why did he feel so hollow, so empty? Dozens of people had died and he wasn't mourning them. Not even Lupin and Tonks, who he'd been fond enough of while they'd lived, though he might mourn them more later too. No, his heart was broken on the death of one man, so early in the battle that they'd barely even started to fight.

Silently George stood up from the table and walked slowly to the chamber off the Hall where the dead were being kept. If anyone from his family saw him leave, they left him be, possibly understanding that this was something he needed to do alone. Even Lee, who he saw out of the corner of his eye, started towards him and then stopped. He was grateful for the solitude. This was just between him and Fred.

Closing the door behind him, George took a deep breath and found the body of his brother, not far from the end wall. His eyes had been closed now, but the hint of laughter was still written on his face, and George felt himself match Fred's expression, his mouth twitching upwards in the threat of a smile.

"I'm trying to say goodbye, Fred," he said hoarsely, the words sticking in his throat, making him force them out. "You should be out there, celebrating with the rest of them. Now I have to try to figure out how I'm going to do that without you."

He paused, his eyes following the wounds the falling masonry had left on his brother's body. No one would have survived that, he thought. Even Hagrid would have struggled. Unsure if he was taking solace in this thought or not, he looked back at Fred's face.

Fury erupted out of him, taking even him by surprise. "How could you DO this to me, Fred?" he asked, his voice loud with previously unexpressed anger and betrayal. "How could you leave me alone like this? You KNOW that I can't do this without you." He took a breath and the rage dissipated almost as quickly as it had come, leaving him exhausted and resigned.

Swallowing hard, he spoke once more, this time sounding quiet and feeble as his despair engulfed him.

"You see, Fred, that's just it. That's the problem." He paused, staring at his twin's vacant face for the last time. "I can't do anything without you."


Author's Note: Thanks to ericajen for the title and for her beta work on this story.

Chapter 70: A Romantic Backdrop
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A Romantic Backdrop
by long_live_luna_bellatrix
(Ravenclaw)



I wonder, vaguely, if I'm allowed to be selfish at time like this.

I am fifteen, nearly sixteen, have just had my first kiss, and now the news breaks out that we have to go to battle. Battle. Who wants to fight when their head is in the clouds? Definitely not me, and I'd wager ninety-five percent of the girls at Hogwarts would agree with me.

In any case, I stumble down to the Great Hall with Mitch Baker, wondering if he's thinking the same thoughts as me. He's not a bad kisser, I decide, although it's not as if I have anything to compare him to.

I can't find the words to start up a conversation as we hurry down the dark corridors. A scream echoes down the halls, and I realize, if all goes badly, I may never see Mitch again. Will this battle be really dangerous? Surely. Mitch is quite good looking... I consider kissing him again, because I don't want my first kiss to be my last. But it really isn't the right time.

We seat ourselves at the Slytherin table and await instructions for the upcoming fight. Feeling a twinge of guilt, I still am unable to concentrate on normal life. I can only think of the fireworks that burst when Mitch kissed me not ten minutes ago. I am just barely roused back to reality when Pansy Parkinson shouts something and McGonagall dismisses us. Slytherin rises and begins to exit as the Great Hall grows louder, but Mitch grabs my arm.

“Astoria, I can't go,” he says urgently, deep brown eyes flashing attractively, “If this turns into a fight, I've got to help my uncle.”

“Your uncle...?” I say apologetically, and Mitch glances around. He steers me out of the Hall and into a niche nearby.

“My Uncle Pete Avery,” Mitch whispers, “he's with the Dark Lord. I have to help him... he's all I have left.”

Now I remember. Mitch's parents died when he was little, and he lives with his uncle. When I asked my sister Daphne about it, she said it was because Mitch's parents refused to join the Dark Lord, but I've never heard anyone else voice the same theory.

“I'm coming with you,” I reply fiercely. No way is the subject of my first kiss going to go get himself killed in a silly battle. I've had a crush on Mitch since last October, and he's not going to get rid of me that easily.

“Oh please,” he huffs, “You haven't paid attention to Defense Against the Dark Arts all year. You really think you can fight?”

“You'll protect me,” I say, but inside I do believe I can hold my own. It's just a bunch of spells; how hard can it be?

“Whatever,” Mitch sighs, “But you have to promise to run if it turns bloody.”

“Of course.”

“Then let's go,” Mitch says, grabbing my hand. He takes off for the grounds at full speed, with me in tow.

“Where're we going?” I gasp as we run hard for the gate.

“The entrance. That's where people will Apparate to. We'll act as welcoming committee.”

Mitch has a steely glint in his eye, one I've never seen before. It only makes my desire to kiss him again stronger. But he appears to have forgotten the tender moment we shared less than a half hour ago.

We run together through the darkness, still holding hands. It might be romantic, except for the fact that we're heading to meet a bunch of wizards intent on starting a battle. Already I see forms gathering by the gate.

I'm a Slytherin because I know how to get what I want and I'm also cunning enough to get it. I know this about myself. I'm pureblood and proud of it, and agree that Muggles are just ridiculous. If someone asked me, “Harry or Dark Lord?”, my answer would be the latter without hesitation. But if I'm being honest with myself, I don't always think it's worth fighting over. Leaving each other alone has worked for the races for the longest time.

We arrive at the gates, and Mitch heads straight for a weedy man cloaked in black. The two embrace roughly, and I wonder why I'm here, instead of gossiping with my best friend back in our common room. This is not what first kisses typically lead to.

Mitch and his uncle are leaning towards each other, whispering urgently. I have to admit, Mitch is a lot less handsome when he has such a brutal look on his face, when he looks as if he preparing to kill.

Then I remember he is preparing to kill, and I shudder, wondering exactly who I just kissed. Lips probably taste a lot better when they they haven't shaped themselves around the words “Avada Kedavra”.

But no, I think fiercely, I'm getting ahead of myself. Mitch has never killed anyone, or wanted to either. He's just thinking about his uncle, who's practically raised him.

Suddenly the group of Death Eaters begins moving, and I'm shuttled along as they head for Hogwarts. Mitch runs up along side me, and links his arm through mine, murmuring reassuring things. Once again, I am seized by the desire to kiss him. Who knows what could happen tonight, what direction my fate might be hurled in?


“Astoria!” Mitch coughs thickly on the dust coating the air, and with a sharp jab of his wand fells an oncoming student. “Get out of here!”

The battle is definitely turning unattractive, and the amount of dust I've inhaled is disgusting. However, there is something exhilarating about the flashes of light narrowly missing us, some beauty in the glitter of jewels spilling the floor. I watch as the Ravenclaw Hourglass is hit, and for a moment the whole room glows blue with the sapphires reflecting the little light present.

“C'mon!” Mitch yells, and I have to admit he's very gallant. I thought that's what Gryffindors are for? “I'll cover for you!” Before I can reply, he disarms two oncoming adults and tackles another. With a last look at his gorgeous, albeit killing, lips, I take off.

I stumble down the corridors, now unrecognizable. Portraits litter the floor, the few inhabitants left screaming, others fleeing to safer frames. Half the walls are blasted apart, and I leap over rubble oftener than not. Soon I am embarrassingly, hopelessly lost, in the castle that I once knew better than my own home.

This is not what I would call a picture perfect evening, despite the path I'd imagined my kiss would put me on.

I advance around a corner, wand out ahead of me just in case. However, all I see is a scorched floor and a young man curled up against the wall. He looks up as I approach, and with a jolt I realize Draco Malfoy officially looks worse than he did last year. And last year he was half-dead.

“Astoria?” he says harshly, his voice grating against the eerie silence of the hall. I must be farther from the battle than I thought.

“Draco,” I reply, smoothing down my hair.

“What's going on? Where is everyone?”

“It's a battle, Draco,” I say, as exhaustion rocks me. I sit next to him and lay my wand down for the first time all evening. “It's terrible.”

“Who's winning?” he asks, a new light in his eye. However, I just roll my own, sudden anger warming my cheeks.

“How should I know? I've been on my feet all night, dueling more in five minutes than I've done in all my Defense Against the Dark Arts classes combined. All I'm sure of is there're a lot of people dead out there, and there's no sign of it stopping!”

Defeated, I bend my head and let the tears flow. The onslaught of rage departs as quickly as it came, and all that's left is crushing hopelessness. Who cares about Mitch's uncle? All the signs pointed to this being the best night I've had in a long time, and instead I end up sitting in the ruins of the school, being interrogated by an arrogant jerk.

“Look, it came out wrong,” Draco finally sighs, “I just want it to end too, ok?”

I can't find the strength to nod, nor to stop sobbing. His hand awkwardly pats my shoulder, and we stay like that for an eternity, until I've cried myself out.

“C'mon,” Draco says, “Maybe if we go back out and help, we can finish this damn thing.”

“I don't want to go out and hurt anyone. Neither side should be dying.”

“Just put a body-freezing charm on them, then,” Draco snaps, “but we're not helping right now.”

“Hey, you were the one hiding out here first!” I shoot back, his lack of empathy disappointing.

“My friend just died!” Draco yells, eyes wild and enraged.

“Exactly why the fighting should stop.” I say.

Draco bites back a retort and eyes me questioningly. He knows he's just lost a battle of his own, and I smirk. I never win battles with Mitch, I realize.

“Then what do you propose we do?” he finally asks.

“Let's find Harry Potter,” the thought hits me as I speak the words, “He's the only one who can stop this.”

“Potter? He's probably off hiding from the Dark Lord, letting us die for him.”

“I doubt that. And even if he is, we'll be the ones to get him off his ass and figure out a solution.”

I link my arm through Draco's, all despair erased from my mind, and lead him back to the battle. Perhaps this will be a romantic night after all. All I know is we're heading towards danger in order to stop it. And there's nothing so passionate as keeping your loved ones safe, nothing more arousing than fighting for what you believe in. And right now I believe it's time to stop the killing.

Chapter 71: Her Final Breath
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Her Final Breath
by moonbaby11
(Ravenclaw)




Oliver could hear the battle raging all around him. He could hear the cries for help, the shouting of spells, and the destruction of objects around him. He heard a smash, and looked up to see that one of the statues in the castle had been demolished. Bodies were lying everywhere.

“Oi, Neville,” he yelled, as he saw one of his fellow Gryffindors running past.

Neville stopped in his tracks, and turned to Oliver. “What?” he asked.

“Where are you going?” Oliver asked.

“I’m trying to round up some of the bodies. Do you want to help me? There sure seems to be a lot out on the grounds.”

He nodded. “Sure, I’ll help,” he replied.

Neville smiled. “Great,” he grinned. “Be aware, all the dead come as quite a shock at first. It will put this whole thing into reality for you.” Oliver nodded, and followed Neville through the castle, and outside. The night air was warm, despite the fact that it was still May. A few Death Eaters and students were battling out on the grounds.

“Over here,” Neville motioned, pointing to the body of a tall, gangly boy with glasses and blonde hair. Neville grabbed onto his feet, and Oliver grabbed the boy’s arms, and they began walking back towards Hogwarts.

“I can’t believe how many people are risking their lives for Harry,” Oliver muttered, shaking his head.

“And you wouldn’t be doing the same?” asked Neville.

“No, I would,” he replied. “It’s just I never knew how many of these people really cared enough to not run away with the Slytherins. I’d fight for Harry. He’s a bloody good Quidditch player, and won us the House Cup a few times.”

“Is that all you care about?” Neville questioned.

Oliver thought for a moment before answering. At that point, they were back inside the castle, and set the body down on the cold marble floor.

“That’s not all I care about Neville. I care for the lives people are losing over this fight. That’s what I care about.”

Neville nodded, and sighed. “Come on. There’s more for us to bring in.”


The next body they brought in was of a small boy Oliver vaguely remembered from his 6th year. It had been the annoying boy with the camera, who always showed up at the Quidditch practices.

Neville grabbed the legs of the boy, and they carried him inside.

“You know what? I can manage him alone, Neville,” he said. Neville nodded, and Oliver shifted the boy so that he was hanging over his shoulder. “I’ll be right back.”

Oliver carried the body of the small boy into the Great Hall, and lay him on the ground beside the tall boy they had carried in before. More bodies were lying against the floor. Oliver looked at one of them, and his breath caught in his throat. One of the Weasley twins - he had never learned to tell them apart - was lying on the ground, a grin on his face. He was dead. He just shook his head, and walked away from the body of the twin. He had played on Oliver’s team for four years and had been a brilliant beater. And now he was dead.

Oliver ran back out of the Great Hall, to find Neville and get away from the familiar faces he saw, with their lifeless faces showing pain, pride and loss. Neville was standing right where Oliver had left him, holding another body in his arms.

“Neville!” Ginny Weasley called out. “I need your help over here!”

Neville turned to look at Oliver. “I’ve got this one,” he said. “You go help Ginny.”

He nodded, and ran over to where the petite girl was leaning over another body.

“I don’t want to fight anymore,” said the girl.

“I know. It’s going to be all right,” Ginny replied, caressing the girl’s cheek. “It will all be okay. Soon it will all be over.”

Oliver neared the two of them, and stopped in his tracks. He felt like he couldn’t breathe, as he stared down at the familiar face of the girl.

“Victoria!” he cried, sitting down beside his sister. “Oh, Victoria.”

Victoria was only in her second year, so he figured she must have snuck into the battle from Hogsmeade. He could tell she was in great pain. Victoria opened her eyes, and looked up at her older brother.

“Oli, I want to go home,” she moaned. “Take me to mummy.”

“Sh, sh,” he hushed. “Victoria, it’s going to be all right.”

“Do you want me to leave?” Ginny asked, looking at Oliver. He shook his head. He’d need some there with him. He didn’t think Victoria would live until the end of the battle.

Ginny sat down beside the girl, and held her hand. “It’s alright,” she whispered. “It’s alright.”

Victoria ignored Ginny, and said to Oliver, “Take me home. I want to go home.”

“Hold on, okay?” he whispered, brushing her hair away from her face.

“I don’t want to fight!“ she whispered.

Oliver nodded, gazing at his little sister. It seemed cruel that she might not live to see the light of the coming day.

“You know,“ Oliver said, “this battle did not seem real to me until I saw the people I knew suffering. Sometimes I think I am just insane, and this is not even happening at all.“

“It is happening,“ Ginny whispered. “Don’t worry. You’re just as sane as I am.’’

Oliver chuckled at that. “Someone in my house told me that once,“ whispered Victoria. “You are just as sane as I am.“ And with that, she took her final breath, and closed her eyes. A tear slid down Oliver’s cheek., and fell on Victoria’s lips. He watched the teardrop as it landed, and felt more well up in his eyes. Soon, he was crying over the empty body of his sister, and Ginny had an arm around him. It felt better with someone there to comfort him.

“We should bring her inside,” Ginny whispered. Oliver nodded, and picked up the frail body of his sister. Holding her like this reminded him of holding her when she was a baby, and just born. Oliver and Ginny walked into the Great Hall together, and he stood in between the bodies of the Weasley twin and a woman he recognized from his time at Hogwarts. He could not quite place a name to her, but he remembered she was a Metamorphagus. Ginny stopped as she spotted the dead twin.

“Oh, Fred,” she cried, as she fell to his side. Oliver watched as Ginny touched the hand of her brother.

Oliver held the body of Victoria up to him, and whispered, “I will miss you,” before setting her body down among the other fallen ones. He would make sure that these brave people would not die in vain.



Beta'd by pennyardelle.

Chapter 72: Finding the Strength to Go On
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Finding the Strength to Go On
by ronhermione4evr
(Gryffindor)




I fell out of my hammock in the Room of Requirement when I heard footsteps. I straightened up and rubbed my head, and I noticed that everyone else was awake.

“What’s going on?” I asked them timidly.

Seamus put a finger to his lips and motioned towards the door, which had been enchanted so that we could see whoever was outside. I could make out two shapes with broad shoulders and large heads. In other words, Alecto and Amycus Carrow was standing right outside.

Most of the younger students looked too terrified to do anything, so I slipped on my shoes and straightened my sleeves (everyone here slept in their regular clothes in case of emergencies like this one). I slowly crept toward the door and crouched down to listen.

“….he is approaching. We must ready the children and seal all the passageways. Potter must be somewhere in this school.”

I widened my eyes and motioned for Seamus, Lavender, and Neville to come towards the door and listen with me.

“Already?” I heard Alecto gasp in surprise. “There isn’t enough time! We must get ready immediately! Send word to Severus, I will try and contact the Dark Lord.”

“No!” This word was loud enough that all the students behind me could hear it. “Don’t contact him! Make yourself useful and seal all the passageways!”

I heard Alecto whimper and walk away, while Amycus left in the opposite direction.

I leaped out as soon as it was safe to. “First years through fifth years!” I began bossily.

The students I had called all huddled together and walked towards me. “We need to get you all out immediately.” I looked at my sister. “Is the passageway to Hog’s Head still open?”

Before she could answer, a fourth year trembled and looked behind me. “P-Parvati?”

“Yes, Dennis?” I said impatiently. I didn’t have time for games. A battle was about to begin.

Dennis kept pointing behind me with a terrified expression. I turned around to see that the burly figure- Amycus Carrow had returned!

I tried to quiet everyone. I immediately started to panic. If Amycus had heard us, there was no telling what he could do.

I tried to give directions, to tell people what to do, but the words wouldn’t come. They wouldn’t come until Amycus banged on the door and shouted “I know you’re in there!”

I summoned all my courage and strength. I had to do this. We had to defend our school.

“Padma! Ernie!” I called for two members of Dumbledore’s Army. “Take all the first through fifth years through the passage and give them to Aberforth!”

Neville seemed to come to his senses. He ran forward and wrenched open the door that led to Hog’s Head. “Come on! We need to get all the underage people out!”

The first through fifth years moaned and begged us to stay, but Seamus shook his head firmly and started shepherding them through the door.

I rounded on the sixth years. “Are any of you seventeen?” A handful of them raised their hands.

“Everyone of age can stay and fight!” I announced. The underage people began to lead themselves through the door, with Neville following them.

I glanced around the room at the assorted sixth and seventh years that were left. “We all have wands, right?” I asked. Everyone nodded.

Seamus was looking at me funny. “What?” I barked at him.

“Nothing.” He said quickly. “You just reminded me of Hermione Granger, that’s all.”

Hermione Granger? Well maybe six years of sharing a dorm and listening to her lecture Lavender and I had finally paid off. If Hermione Granger could pull off what I was trying to do, then so could I.

Outside, Amycus was getting impatient. “Get out, you little brats!”

He sent a beam of orange light through the door and into the room, where it smashed into the window, exploding the stained glass pictures of bridesmaids at a wedding. The colored glass fell on us, and we shielded our heads as it cut into our hands.

“We need back up!” I told Susan Bones urgently. She nodded and headed towards the Hog’s Head passage, when it opened up itself and out came Neville, Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

“You’re here!” I cried, running to hug Hermione. As soon as I let go I told her quickly that we needed her help.

She looked at Ron and Harry. “You can do this, Parvati. We have to go find something else.”

Something else? In the middle of the war? If it were anyone else, I would’ve argued with them, saying that they were needed more here, in the heart of the battle. But this was Hermione Granger. She knew what she had to do.

I backed up as even more reinforcements came. It seemed like God had answered my call.

But Amycus was getting impatient again. I knew what I had to do.

I ran outside, despite Lavender’s warning. “No, Parvati, he’ll kill you!”

I opened the door suddenly. Amycus was momentarily shocked before I disarmed him. Oh, yeah. I could definitely be as good as Hermione Granger.

Amycus tried to grab me, but I stunned him before he could touch me.

I ran towards the Great Hall and heard a stampede of footsteps behind me. Great. This could either mean that I was being followed by a big group of Death Eaters, or the rest of Dumbledore’s Army had decided to join me. I hoped for the second of the two.

I skidded into the Great Hall in momentary shock. The place was a completely battlefield. Even as I watched, I had to duck as a spell flew over my head.

I jumped into the heart of the battle, and saw Professor Trelawney, who was throwing crystal balls at Death Eaters to knock them out. She threw me one, and I caught it and threw it at a Death Eater, who crumpled to the floor.

I ran to assist Professor Flitwick, who looked very small next to all the Death Eaters battling him.

But even as I ran to assist him, I felt a spell hit me in the leg, and immediately blood began to pour out of the long gash. I bent down to clutch my leg, then remembered that I had to duel.

I found a Death Eater battling both Dean (who must’ve just arrived) and Seamus. Although it was two against one, Dean and Seamus were both losing miserably. I ran forward and stunned the Death Eater when his back was turned.

“Where’s Lavender?” I asked them breathlessly. They pointed towards a wall where a werewolf had cornered her.

I ran towards her, but as I went, another Death Eater aimed a spell at me, and I crumpled to the floor.

oo


What must’ve been an hour later, I woke up to find Neville tapping my shoulder with a concerned expression. I sat up and coughed, and he looked relieved.

“We thought you were dead.” He told me in a low voice.

“What happened to Lavender?” I asked as soon as I could talk. “And Padma?”

His expression was grim.

I immediately took off towards the pile of dead bodies, scared that I would see my sister or my best friend among them. I looked around, and felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Padma.

I enveloped her in a bear hug, but I was still searching for my best friend. All the wounded lay below the staircase, and I hoped that she wasn’t there.

But when I got closer, I saw that she was. Her face and robes were stained with blood, and her eyes were closed. I noticed the huge gash on her arm, almost like teeth marks.

When I felt another tap on the shoulder, I turned around, expecting Padma, but instead found someone who looked a lot like Ron, except older. His face bore the same type of scars that Lavender did.

“She will be a werewolf.” He told me slowly. “She was bit at full moon.”

I wiped my eyes on my sleeve. Ron’s brother watched me for a moment before he turned abruptly. “I should be getting back to my family.”

I saw him walk towards a big group of crying redhead’s, gathered around another dead body.

Fred’s dead body.

I looked around a little more and saw Colin Creevey among the dead. He was one of the underage sixth years, but he must have snuck back in.

I leaned against the wall and cried openly. It wasn’t fair. There were so many dead, and so many more wounded. I cried for Lavender, for Colin, for Fred, and all the others who had come so far and lost so much in this battle.

But as I looked at the groups of families crying over their dead or wounded, I felt angry. We should be stronger than this.

So I grabbed my wand and headed towards the edge of the Great Hall, where the newest Death Eaters were starting to come in.

A/N: Once again, the exploding bridesmaids are from the Gryffindor Common Room!

Chapter 73: Running
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Running
by nikkinike
(Ravenclaw)



Oh dear, I shouldn’t have done this. I mean, yes it’s the fight for the wizarding world and yes, I should be proud to help and fight to save it but yet I wish that I was anywhere but here. I wasn’t even very skilled at dueling. Why hadn’t I taken the chance to get evacuated while I could? Oh silly me, thinking I could do this.

I was hiding in the west end of the castle, looking out over the Quidditch Pitch. In the distance I could still hear the battle raging on, but I wasn’t thinking of that. All I was looking for was a way to get out of here. They had taken everyone else to the Room of Requirement, whatever and wherever that was. But from what I heard, it has got to be in the middle of the Battle field somewhere. I didn’t want to go back there, back to the Death Eaters and the spells.

Moving further down the corridor, I searched for a way out of the castle, anywhere. A door, a crack, even a broomstick would do. I was getting desperate. I wasn’t right for this! I wasn’t even really supposed to be here. I wasn’t of age, I wasn’t a Gryffindor, I wasn’t brave, and I wasn’t cunning. All I was was a lowly 5th Hufflepuff, and a scared one at that.

I hurried down the corridor, glancing left and right for an exit. Turning the corner by my Ancient Runes class, I found what I was looking for. An out. A door to the outside world, around where the Greenhouses were. My way out of here. Sprinting towards the door, I was nearly there before I heard a voice.

“You, please, can you help me” A voice cried, hidden. I looked around wildly for the source, pointing my wand.

“Who’s there!?!” I shrieked loudly, which probably wasn’t the best idea considering I had no idea if there was any death eaters hiding around here and if there was, I had just basically put a ‘helpless 16 year old girl’ flashing sign over my head.

“Shh, you don’t know who could be around,” the voice read my mind. “I’m on your side!”

“Prove it” I trembled, still waving my wand around.

“My name is Phillip and I’m a 6th year Ravenclaw. I’ve seen you around the corridors. Your name is Grace isn’t it? Hufflepuff 5th year?” I nodded slowly and the voice continued.

“I thought I saw you stay behind. Why aren’t you helping the fight?” Phillip questioned.

“I don’t like fighting. I thought I would be able to help but I just panicked. I’m trying to find a way to get home.” I whispered. Oh how pathetic it sounded to my ears, how weak.

“That’s ok Grace. But everyone can help. Even you. You can help me. Are you any good at healing spells?” Phillip comforted, still out of sight.

“Yes. I have two younger brothers that are always getting hurt.” I said, a little stronger then last time.

“Oh thank god. Ok, I’m behind the statue of Rudolf Brand.” I immediately turned to face the statue to my right, holding my wand strong.

“Why should I trust you” My voice quivered.

“Because you can see my wand over there by the painting of Elena Eldritch. And if I could hurt you, wouldn’t I have done so already?” Phillip had a point and I could see the wand over in the shadows under the portrait. He wasn’t lying. Slowly I scampered over to the wand a picked it up before going back over to the statue. Peering around the edge, I saw that there was a guy behind there, wearing a Ravenclaw uniform. His face relaxed in relief when he saw me.

“What’s hurting?” I asked softly, crouching down to his level. Phillip gave a little grin before pulling his hands away from his side. A deep gash cut through his robes and down into his skin, with blood trickling out of it. The fabric around it was covered in blood as well as Phillips hands. Gasping, I fell down onto my knees and quickly got to work.

Cruor subsisto” I muttered. The bleeding stopped and Phillip gave a small sigh of relief.

“You’re a god send. I don’t know how much longer I would have been able to last.” He gasped out while I continued to heal him. I gave a slight smile, concentrating hard.

“I mean, I only just managed to pull myself behind this statue when I got cut” He carried on before I shushed him.

“One second” I sucked in my breath as I cast one last spell. He fell quiet, holding his breath.

Vulnera Sanentur” The cut sewed itself together and smoothed out until you could hardly see it.

“Wow.” Phillip exclaimed quietly as I grabbed both his hands, hauling him to his feet. I handed him back his wand before standing quietly on the side as he tested out my healing. It stayed strong while he shot a few imaginary spells down the hall. He turned to me with a look of disbelief on his face.

“This … You’re … Thank you. Thank you so much” Phillip stammered out, wiping his brown hair out of his eyes.

“You’re welcome” I gave a little smile, looking into his brown eyes. He stared back grinning. We stood like that for a few seconds before he spoke.

“Well I should probably get back to the battle” He said suddenly, jumping a little.

“Oh. Yeah, you should.” I said softly. Turning away, I focused on the door ahead of me, not the boy behind. This was what I wanted. It was safer this way. I crossed over the corridor and started to turn the handle.

“Wait! Grace!” Phillip called. I tuned back around to see him standing exactly where he was before.

“Do you want to come back with me? We can fight together. Or you can help Madame Pomfrey or something.” He suggested, shrugging his shoulders and looking hopeful.

“But it isn’t safe back there” I shyly called back.

“I’ll protect you.” He sounded so sure, so strong. I looked at him for a few moments and he raised his hand to me. Such an opening, such an opportunity. Such a risk. I could never see my family again. But saying that, if I did go I might never see Phillip again. I had only known him for 3 minutes, but yet he made me feel safe. Taking a deep breath, I slammed the half open door shut and ran back down the hall to Phillip. I took his hand and together we started to walk back to the sounds of battle, together.

Chapter 74: Before Wings
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Before Wings
by TallestTower
(Gryffindor)




The last sight I saw was a pair of hateful eyes.

I was curled up in the U-bend, sobbing into the darkness, somewhat comforted by my own pearly aura. Meanwhile my home was being evacuated. I ignored this. I could hear from far away that familiar tap dripping, its steady voice the only friend that had remained with me in death. I slowed my cries so they merged with the dripping, rising and falling like waves, creating a pale and watery imitation of the heartbeat I longed to have.

This was my Nowhere land. Here I was not dead or dreaming, here I lay suspended somewhere in between reality, death and sleep. I let the pipes cradle my transparent body, and imagined I could feel their tender touch. I had replaced the need for a Mother's love with cold pipes, and a friend's laughter with the sound of gushing water. It was times like this that I missed my family most of all.

Eventually, I grew tired of the dark, of the sound of my sobs. I floated up through the pipes, until I re-appeared in my bathroom. Things had changed since I had escaped down the toilet. The night had deepened, and I could see the solemn moon from the bathroom window. With its chalky aura, I thought the moon looked a little like me. Perhaps the moon was a ghost too, even lonelier than me, hanging in the black night sky.

Where before had been a tap, there now lay a gaping tunnel, wide enough for a person to slide down. I recognized this passage from years before and I had a fleeting memory of Harry Potter and his friends scrambling down it.

I puffed my chest out indignantly. This was my bathroom. Whoever had opened the tunnel didn't have a right to walk in here and start making a mess of everything. I was just poking my pale head down the entrance of the tunnel to investigate, when a loud bang nearby made me scream and spin through the air in fright.

I floated through the wall of the bathroom, and suddenly found myself immersed amongst loud noises and screams, flashes of lights and frightened faces. Until now I had ignored the attack on Hogwarts. I didn't care about the students of the school, who had not only made my life hell, but had ruined my death too. I knew what they called me behind my back. Fat Myrtle, Ugly Myrtle, Miserable, moaning, moping Myrtle!

In the safety of my bathroom, it was easy to forget about the destruction around me. But here, in this chaotic corridor, I was struck by the horror of it all. In front of me, I watched a dark haired man dodge a burst of green light aimed at him by a deatheater. A scruffy army of enchanted suits of armour gravely marched through me, ignoring the fact I was standing right in front of them. Objects or not, I was offended. Nobody ever takes notice of ugly, crying Myrtle. Just because I'm dead doesn't mean I don't have feelings! I began to work up a sob, but was interrupted by a hundred owls swooping past and through me, their feathers sleek in the darkness.

Flustered, I floated on down the corridor, past more fighting. There were students and teachers everywhere, their fleeting figures rushing past me before I could recognize them. Not one stopped to ask me if I was okay. Nobody cared. The paintings which lined the walls whispered and screamed, their occupants rushing between different canvases.

I sped down a set of stairs. Besides the banisters, a bug-eyed woman was hurling crystal balls onto the floor below with a mad gleam in her eye. She looked sinister, despite the grin on her face.

When I reached the bottom of the stairs, I stopped abruptly. On the floor, inches below my floating feet, lay a body. The candlelight flickered against his pale face, casting shadows which mutated his childish features, making his face seem gaunt and eerie. I was used to death, I was dead, but the body of this child was so small that I was frozen. He looked as young as my brother was when I died, perhaps twelve or thirteen. His sightless eyes stared endlessly at me and I couldn't tear my own away.

"Please move," I found myself whispering. I was overcome with a new emotion, one I hadn't felt in years or wanted to feel. Care. Care for someone other than myself.

"Collin!" A voice nearby screamed. A girl with long, dirty blonde hair rushed past me, ignoring me entirely and knelt down beside the body. She was joined moments later by two tall boys of indeterminable age.

"Oh God." One of the boys moaned, and hid his face in his hands. I watched his shaking body as my own heart filled with sadness. The boy beside him placed a comforting hand on his body.

"Oh Collin…" The blonde girl sighed in a soft Irish accent. She didn't cry, but her whole body seemed crumpled in sadness. She reached forward and closed his eyes, before kissing him lightly on the head. It seemed that no more words could be said.

I felt like I was intruding on a private moment, that I should look away, that I was an ugly blemish on this heartbreaking scene. But somehow, I couldn't. I saw them lift the body up, with barely any effort at all, and walked away down the corridor. I watched them go, solemn figures flashing in and out of light.

I didn't realize until now that I had been crying. I didn't understand. How, after years of living alone in my own misery, could I be so heartbroken by the death of someone I didn't know?

Watching the three teenagers, their eyes aged by grief, carry their limp friend away, it hit me how selfish I had been. In life, I had only ever complained about how unfair life was and in death I had been just the same. I had spent years crying and moaning over myself and my own misfortune. I had hated everyone for their cruelty towards me, and I had rarely thought of anyone but myself. Now I realized how much time I had wasted.

I had been the first.

The death and sadness around me was caused by the one person who I now knew had ended my life. Tom Riddle. Young and handsome, I didn't know until years later that he had been the one to set the Basilisk on me. None of us knew then what he was capable of. I was the first, but I would not be the last. Now he had killed hundreds, innocent people, or people dying to protect others. And now his actions had killed young, fragile Collin. I was filled with a hate stronger than I had felt before – stronger than my hate for Olive Hornby, or for Peeves, or for nasty, whispering students. Suddenly I wanted to-needed to- help fight against Tom Riddle. Suddenly I had something to fight for.

I looked up and saw a group of students holding various plants being led past at a brisk pace by Professor Sprout. One girl trailed behind the others, earnestly trying to catch up. She held a pot of Infinitely Itching Ivy in her hand that was far too big for her, and she struggled to hold it whilst walking. She was pale and spotty, a face that was even uglier when filled with fright. The sight of the girl reminded me of when I was a child. I understood the loneliness of the useless girl with chubby legs.

The girl tripped over her own feet, just managing to save the plant she was carrying from smashing against the hard floor. She wiped her face desperately with the back of her hand before hurriedly standing up. The others were further down the corridor now and hadn't noticed she was missing. Her legs were grazed and sore. For a moment, she stood dejected and lonely, but then her eyes lit up with a new determination. She would persevere. She was fighting for the people she loved. She stood up a little straighter, and began to hurry after her fellow students.

I felt inspired. I was touched by the girl so similar to me. I floated after her and reached out a pale arm.

"Ask me if you need anything!" I cried, unsure of what I was saying, "I'd love to help you."

The little girl glanced back and for a fleeting moment her warm brown eyes met mine. She didn't realize the caring voice belonged to the face of the nasty ghost who haunted the girl's bathroom, so she turned back and focused on returning to her friends.

I remained where I was in the corridor, my hand still outstretched in a gesture of care and desperation. Alone and unwanted, as always - but ready to become someone new.

~

Thank you to CessZ for Betaing.

Chapter 75: A Choice
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

A Choice
by SlytherinRavenclawChick
(Ravenclaw)






“Hey!” Draco yelled, running toward a girl fighting a Death Eater. “Confringo!” He pointed his wand and the Death Eater caught on fire.



“Malfoy!” The girl screamed. “Petrificus Totalus!” she said, stunning the man and then rounded on him.



“Wait, I’m on your side!” Draco screamed.



“Yeah, the day a Malfoy does something good, I’ll marry a pureblood.” She snarled, pointing her wand at him.



“Astoria!” Came a shout from behind her, and Draco saw that Weasley girl, Ginna or something, and he relaxed a bit. “Draco!” She slowed down and bent over to catcher her breath. “Astoria I need your help, Draco you too.”



“Wait, you want his help?” She said, shocked. Draco looked back at the girl, a little hurt but he understood. Until ten minutes ago when he had helped the Weasley girl and Longbottom he hadn’t done anything good for anyone. He realized that this girl looked familiar, but he couldn’t place her face with a name. She was wearing Ravenclaw Pajamas, but that was his only clue.



“Yes Tory,” Ginny said, Draco happy to remember her name. “Look, Bellatrix is fighting Luna, and she needs help. Come on!” She ran off, Draco and Astoria following closely. Ginny sent her bat-boogey hex at her and she quickly rounded on them.



“Draco, take care of this.” She said, turning back to Luna.



“Certainly.” He said, sending a curse at her.



“You little twit!” She screamed at him, dueling all four children, but focused more on killing Draco.



“Bella!” Came a shout. “Draco, you useless twit!” Draco turned see his uncle, Rodolphus. He started sending curses at him, Draco dodging them and sent some of his own.



“Ginny!” Came a shout. Out of the corner of his eye, Draco saw Hermione running toward Bellatrix and started shouting spells. “Astoria, help Draco!”



Astoria turned to help Draco without a word. She and Draco sent a stunner at the same time and knocked Rodolphus out. “Avada Kadavara!” Astoria screamed, killing him. Draco turned in horror to face her.



“You killed him!” He said in shock.



“Of course, if I didn’t he’d just get up and be more trouble.” She said icily. “No one’s going to miss him. Just like my dear brother.”



“What?”



“The Death Eater you helped me knock out. I sent the curse silently that time.”



“Wha-” Draco’s next question was interrupted by someone else screaming.



“NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!”
Draco and Astoria turned around to see a large red-headed woman start fighting Bellatrix. Everyone seemed to stop to watch Voldimort and her fight their battles. Then this new woman did something fantastic. She killed Bellatrix.



“No!” Voldimort screamed, rounding on her. Draco stood there, unsure of what to do.



“Stop right there!” Came another shout. Everyone turned around. There, standing before them, was Harry Potter. A massive cheer went up while Voldimort hissed. After what seemed like a lifetime of them talking, they acted. With a blast of light, Voldimort was dead. A massive cheer went up, and the living Death Eaters all surrendered.



~:~:~:~:~:~:





A few hours later and Draco had helped bring all of the dead bodies to either the Great Hall if they were allies, and the main entrance if they were enemies. Harry had disappeared, along with Granger and Weasley, but everyone knew they were sleeping.



“Draco.” Came a sad voice. He turned around to see Professor McGonagall and Professor Sprout. “I heard you were a large help tonight.”



“I don’t know…” He began, but was cut off.



“You helped with the mandrakes and I saw you assisting Miss Greengrass.” She said. Malfoy kept a calm face, but finally recognized the girl. Astoria Greengrass. She was the sixth year Ravenclaw prefect. He also recalled her being disowned in her second year for being friends with a mud- muggleborn he corrected himself.



“Indeed, we are looking for students to help with repairs.” Professor McGonagall told him. “Would you be interested? It would naturally be after 48 hours to give everyone a rest time.



“Of course!” Draco said. They walked away to other kids and he sat back down, processing what was happening to him. He saw a group of Ravenclaws walking toward him.



“Oi, Malfoy?” They asked.



“Yeah?” he said, unsure of what was happening.



“Astoria told us how you helped tonight.” The lead boy said. “We figured since you must be the only Slytherin, you might not want to be in your dorms alone. You want to come up to the Tower with us to rest?”



“Sure.” He said, still unsure of what was happening. His parents had already gone home, but he chose to stay for a bit, he had had a feeling. He was glad he chose to stay now. He followed the boys up to Ravenclaw Tower. He looked around, noticing a large difference from the Slytherin dorms. The girls of Ravenclaw were all laying in sleeping-bags, and they looked up at the boys.



“We invited Mal- Draco.” The oldest boy said. “Oh, I’m Terry Boot by the way.”



“Michael Corner.” Said another boy.



“Bradly Smith.”



“Randolph Burrow.”



“Marcus Belby.”



“Eddie Chambers.” Said the last boy.



“I’m Luna!” Said the first girl. “Luna Lovegood. You must be Draco. Thanks for watching out for Astoria, she tends to get in trouble.” Astoria blushed when Luna said this.



“Hey, I’m Padma Patil.” Said another girl.



“I’m Su Li.” Said another. “Pull up a bag.” She said. All of the boys muttered a spell that made more sleeping bags appeared. Terry handed Draco one.



“Come on guys,” Michael said. “Let’s sleep.” They all muttered their agreement and fell into a deep sleep…


~:~:~:~:~:~:




“Draco?” someone whispered to him. He opened his eyes to see that it was daylight, and the other Ravenclaws were starting to get up. Astoria was kneeling by him. “I never said thank you.”



“You never told me who you were either, Greengrass.” Draco smiled. She recoiled at the sound of her last name.



“Fine, I guess you know then.” She said and walked away with Su.



“Draco, you seem about my size.” Terry said. “You want to take a shower and borrow some clothes?”



“Nah, I have to send an owl to my folks.” Draco said, getting up. “I can get ready in my dorm. I’ll meet you guys in the Great Hall in about a half hour?”



“Crap!” Michael said. “I need to send an owl to my folks too!” Many of the other Ravenclaws agreed. So they all went to the owlry, sent their letters, and headed to the dorms to get ready. Draco got dressed in his Slytherin dorm, but never realized just how dark and dreary it was. He preferred the Ravenclaw dorm much better. Walking back a half hour later to the Great Hall, he saw the guys exiting it.



“A lot of families are still sleeping.” Terry told Draco.



“Yah, we were just going to head to the kitchens.” Eddie added. They all followed Eddie until they got to a hallway with a few of the Hufflepuff guys walking towards them.



“Hey Ernie!” Terry said to the boy who was in front.



“Hey!” Then he stopped suddenly. “Malfoy?”



“He’s with us.” Terry said. The Hufflepuffs gave them a surprised look, but Eddie was already tickling a pear on a painting. It swung open to reveal a large kitchen with a few house-elves. Draco recognized one, and walked toward him.



“Kreacher!” Draco said happily.



“Master Malfoy!” Kreacher said with a bow. “May I get you anything?”



“Yah, if it’s not too much trouble, could you get my friends and I some breakfast?” he asked, feeling odd about saying the word “friend.”



“Of course!” He said, and rushed off.



“You know him?” Terry asked.



“Yah, we go way back.” Draco said, not wanting to elaborate. They all sat and ate in silence. When they were done, they headed back to the Great Hall. They spent the rest of the day helping out in any way they could with the injured, since the Great Hall was turned into a large Medical Room. Healers from Saint Mongos came in to help as well. Draco showed potential, and one of the healers came up to him later that evening.



“Mr. Malfoy?”



“Um, yes?” he replied.



“At one o’clock tomorrow, please come to the headmistress’s office.”



“Alright.” He said confused, and the healer walked away.


~:~:~:~:~:~:




Later that night, Draco was back in the Ravenclaw tower talking to his new friends about what the healer had asked him.



“Really, Minister Kingsley asked me to come at one as well.” Michael said. Everyone muttered that someone had invited them. Some, including Draco, where invited by both a healer and an Auror.



“I was asked to come at 11 o’clock.” Luna said. Everyone looked at her. “It’s a giant meeting of specially requested people at one. At 11 there is an even smaller meeting for the leaders of everything. Since Neville, Ginny, and I were leaders here, they included us.” Everyone became quiet at that, falling asleep wondering what was going to happen.


~:~:~:~:~:~:





“Hey, Astoria.” Draco said, holding her back as everyone else headed downstairs the next morning.



“Yah?” She asked, not wanting to talk to him.



“Look, about the battle…” he started.



“No, I don’t want to think about it. None the less talk about it.”



“I think you should.” He said simply. “It might help.”



“I’m ignoring you.” She said, walking away.



“Astoria!” he said, catching up to her quickly. “You killed your brother and my uncle without a thought!” he whispered sharply. “You should talk to someone.”



“It’s like he’s trying to talk to me, I know it!” she said, trying to walk away.



“Come on, you can talk to me.” Draco said, not too sure why he wanted her to talk to him.



“No, I can’t. I just can’t ok?” She screamed and ran off to Su who gave him an odd look, then they both disappeared. Draco realized Su must have been the muggle born Astoria was friends with that got her disowned. Unsure why he was unhappy, Draco jogged to catch up with the guys. It was a weird feeling having people he could talk to. Guy talk was good for him, he had really gotten to know the guys of Ravenclaw pretty well while working with the injured. He really liked healing.



“Hey Draco!” Ernie said, walking up to him with a few more Hufflepuffs.



“Hey?” Draco was still a bit shy around them, they seemed to have been measuring him these last few days he’s been with the Ravenclaws. Terry and Michael, the guys Draco has gotten to know the best, stood up to see what was happening.



“Nice work you’ve been doing.” Ernie said, extending his hand. Draco shook it, still confused, but shook his hand. “See you around.” Ernie nodded to him, and he and the Hufflepuffs sat down at the table with Draco and the Ravenclaws. The House tables have long been forgotten. They ate in a comfortable silence in a group. The Gryffindor’s showed up after a bit, most sitting at the table next to where the group was sitting, but that dark kid, Dean Something, and Longbottom came and sat down. Dean sat next to Luna and gave her a peck on the cheek, while Longbottom sat next to a Hufflepuff, Hannah, and gave her a hug. At eleven, Luna and Neville had to leave, but Dean stayed.



“Malfoy.” Dean turned to him suddenly. Draco was really starting to get twitchy with everyone talking to him. “I heard what you did for Luna. Thanks.” He said, shaking Draco’s hand.



“No problem.”



“Hey,” Michael asked, “Are you two together?”



“Kind of.” Dean said sheepishly.



“Details!” Padma said, leaning in.



“Well, we were kind-of imprisoned together, and got to know each other.” He looked uncomfortably at Draco who was staring at the table. Astoria noticed and cocked an eye-brow, but didn’t say anything. Dean continued. “We escaped with Harry, Hermione, Ron, and a few others. Luna and I were the only ones there our age, so it was kind of hard not to grow close.” He smiled. “I knew she was weird, but I’d never thought I’d like it.”



“Nice.” Terry said, and several guys patted him on the back. One o’clock rolled around and they all got up at the same time.



“McGonagall’s office?” Ernie asked everyone. Collective agreements went around and they all headed to the Headmaster’s, well, Headmistress’s office.



“Come in, Come in.” Professor McGonagall said, ushering in a wide array of students. Draco shuffled in with the Ravenclaws and sat down in a far corner next to Su.



“Hey, after the meeting, can we talk?” Draco whispered to her.



“Sure?” She said, unsure of what he wanted. Before she could ask, McGonagall started to speak.



“Hello everyone.” She said. A collection of hellos were said in response. “Well, first things first. We, the Minister, Harry, the faculty, and the head of the DA have been talking. Most of you in the room missed all or most of the year of school. You all showed high potential not only fighting, but in healing. We here would like to suggest an alternative. Over the summer while we fix up the castle, we are willing to teach you lessons as well, just enough to help you with either your last year, or with your future career. The choice, of course, is completely up to you.”



“We’ll do it” “defiantly” “sure!” and all other types of enthusiastic replies came out.



“Um, professor,” said a smaller boy. Draco recognized him as a Gryffindor, but had no idea who it was.



“Yes Deniso?” The first name still didn’t help him.



“Um, what about the others? Those too young to fight who weren’t able to attend classes? And those too chicken to do anything?”



“That’s a good point.” McGonagall said. “We will be extending the school year next year by a month, so the first month with be all review from this year to catch everyone up.”



“But what about those Slytherins?” Michael asked. “Sorry mate, but you’re the only one who deserves a chance.” He said to Draco.



“Nah, I understand.” Draco said, wanting to get the attention off of him. “I made my choice when it mattered most. They made theirs. I don’t want anything to do with the matter.”



“Well put mister Malfoy.” Minister Kingsley said. “Now, those who are not in seventh, or shouldn’t have been, please go back to the great hall.” Many of the younger kids left. Draco, Micheal, and Luna were the last of the Ravenclaws. Well, Draco was somewhat left, since he was a Slytherin, though he regretted it deeply.



“Ok, for you older students.” The minister said. “You have proved to have been a good fighter and or healer. If you wish for a career path in either of those areas, we are doing some major corner-cutting for you. Instead of having to have NEWTS and other tests, you can start out as juniors immediately. Actually, for any Ministry position really. We need the people.” He surveyed the room. “Any one?”



“I’d like to be an Auror Minister, but you know that.” Harry said.



“Indeed.” He said with a nod.



“I’m not too sure.” Ron said. “My brother and I have been talking since Fred-” he cut off. “Since the battle. Gorge has been going through a lot. I thought I would help him out with the shop.”



“Of course, you can always join later. You, Mr. Potter and Ms. Granger have special permission.”



“I’d also like to be an Auror.” Michael said.



“Same here.” Ernie said. Hannah, Neville, and a few others agreed.



“Actually, I’d like to become a healer.” Draco said. Several people looked at him thoughtfully and the minister nodded.



“Ok, that’s that. I’ll see you all separately in the next couple of days to discuss how to go about this all. Dismissed.” Kingsley said, and they all started to pile out. Draco was right behind Luna when the Granger girl pulled him aside.



“Hey, I never had a chance to say thanks.” She said, extending her hand. Weasley and Potter stared at them in shock as Draco shook her hand.



“No problem.” He said.



“I never knew you liked healing.” She said, trying to make polite conversation.



“Neither did I until a few days ago.” Draco admitted.



“You seem to be getting along with the Ravenclaws well.”



“Yah, their great. Terry and Michael are really cool, too bad I never noticed it before.”



“That’s good. See you around.” She said smiling. She went over to Ron who put his arm around her waist.



“What was that all about?” He heard Ron mutter as Draco walked out of the room.



“He saved Ginny and Neville’s life during the battle, then helped Luna, Ginny, Astoria, and I battle Bellatrix and her husband.” She said. “I want to show him kindness since he made the right choice when it really mattered.”



Draco had already caught up with Luna, Terry, and Michael, but a smile was still plastered on his face.



“Draco.” Su said, tapping his shoulder. “You wanted to talk?”



“Oh, right! Um, look, I don’t want to seem like I’m prying, but I want to know if Astoria is ok?”



“Ah.” Su said, considering him. “She’s a mess really.” She admitted. “Look, she told me you knew she killed her brother. Please, don’t say anything to anyone about it.”



“Um, I kinda think I should.” He said uncomfortably. “That’s just…”



“Yah. She has issues. But look, she can handle it. She was disowned when her parents found out she and I were best friends. I know her, and she can be a little ruff. I suggest letting it go, she’s a rock. She seems sweet, bubbly, and talkative, but I’m the only one who she has every really talked to.”



“I understand.” Draco said. “I’m just worried about her.”



“You know, you should have been in Hufflepuff.”



“Wait what?” Draco asked, shocked.



“Ha!” Su started laughing. “I mean because you’re really sweet. Though, I can see you as a Ravenclaw, too. You seem to actually posses a brain.” She teased.



“Hey, I do kinda wish that I was now. But hey, who cares right now?”



“Yah, besides your already an honorary Ravenclaw anyway!” She said. Draco laughed and walked down the hall with her, joking about.



~:~:~:~:~:~:





A few weeks passed and Draco had gotten into a rhythm. He would go to breakfast and eat at the smaller table that had replaced the house tables. The teachers and students all ate together. They had all really gotten to know each other. The day after the meeting, Harry had thanked him for saving Ginny. Apparently they were together and everyone knew that. The fact that he didn’t just showed that he had really been a prat for years.



Breakfast would then disappear and a meeting would start to discuss what needed to be done that day. Draco almost always volunteered to work with the ill. He was joined by a few Hufflepuffs, Su, Astoria, and a little Dennis Creevy. Draco had learned that his older brother had been killed, and he felt for the small boy. He was adorable. Draco had taken a liking to him and would teach him some stuff that would help with patient care.



At lunch, the group would go to lunch and meet up with everyone again. Lunch was usually fun with light chatter. Then the kids would split up by age and go with a different teacher, rotating out to learn different subjects to catch up a bit. Well, except the seventh years. Depending on their area of study was who they trained with. Draco and a few others wanted to be healers, so they would work with Mr. Harrison, the Head Healer in the infirmary. He was a cool dude.



After four hours of hard work, the students, teachers, and other volunteers all got together to work on the caste itself. It was in real bad shape. When they were done for the night, everyone went back to the Great Hall for super. After everyone was done eating there was a de-briefing and a discussion of what needs to be done the next day. Then everyone had the night off. Many people usually hung out a bit in the evening, since it was summer and it was warm. Sometimes in the library studying or out by the lake relaxing. Draco had started to go into Hogsmead a lot as well with Su and the other Ravenclaws. He really was starting to like her, in a casual-sister way.

After it got dark, he would apparate home to Malfoy Manor. The house was stripped and searched, and his family was heavily fined. However, Harry had spoken up for his mother and him, though his father has to do ten years in Azkaban. Draco had no remorse. He never really liked his father, and during the Battle was when he decided he didn’t want to try and make him proud anymore. He was his own man. His mother was quiet, though. She had really loved him. He learned that apparently they wanted more children, but apparently there was a complication with his birth, and his mother couldn’t have any more kids.



The next morning, Draco would wake up, and do it all again.



~:~:~:~:~:~:





One morning in early August, Draco woke up to head to Hogwarts.



“Honey, wait up a second.” His mother said, coming down the staircase as Draco as about to leave. “I forgot to tell you last night, but I would like it if you came home early today, I am having a few people over for dinner.”



“What people?” Draco asked suspiciously.



“A few people that we need to mend some ties with.” His mother said, “To convince them not to give the ministry trouble. The minister asked me to do that the other day. It would be ice if you were there.”



“Sure mom.” He said, giving her a hug.



“How about you invite those friends of yours?” she said. “They’re a nice bunch.”



“Sure, I’ll ask.” He said, walking out the door. He would ask them, but he fully expected them to say no. He appeared right in front of the Three Broom Sticks when Terry and Michael showed up as well. Exchanging hellos, they headed toward the castle. They went straight to the Great Hall and sat down with their group. “Hey, guys, um, I have an proposition to make.” He said nervously.



“What’s up?” Su asked, the rest of them looking at him expectantly.



“My mum is having this dinner thing as a favor to the Minister, and she wanted to see if you guys would want to come as well?”



“The minster?” Terry asked.



“Yah, he asked my mum if she could convince some people not to give the new ministry much trouble. She didn’t say it, but I think she’s worried something might go wrong and she wants some people there that can help in case wands are pulled.”



“I’m in.” Michael said, while the others agreed.



“Cool,” Draco said, “We leave right before dinner here.”



~:~:~:~:~:~:





Later that evening, everyone gathered at the Great Hall.



“Ok, let’s go to the Three Broom Sticks so we can use the Floo.” Draco said, leading the way.



“Um, I’m not the biggest fan of Flooing.” Su said.



“That’s cool, I can apperate you there.” Astoria said. Everyone stopped to stare at her.



“That’s right, you’ve been there before.” Draco said. Everyone else realized this was referring to her pureblood life, and no one challenged it. They all walked in silence for the rest of the trip, Astoria and Su disappearing.



“Ok, so just say ‘Malfoy Manor.’” Draco said, going first through the Floo Network. He arrived to see Su and Astoria walking up the pathway. Everyone else followed through the Floo Network and gathered in the living room.



“Mum, we’re here.” Draco called. His mother came into site from the staircase in an elegant dress.



“Hello.” She stopped to stare at the group. “Oh, Draco I forgot to tell you that is was fancy. You four,” She said pointing to Padma, Luna, Su, and Astoria. “Come with me, I’ll get you something. Draco, take these boys to your room to get them together.” She said. The girls followed her while the boys followed Draco. He took them to the third floor to a large room. It was still Slytherin Green with the Malfoy coat of arms everywhere.



“Ok, here are some clothes.” Draco said, summoning the nice robes from his closet. He handed them around. Michael, Terry, Dean (who was there with Luna), Bradly, Randolph, Marcus, and Eddie had all gotten one of the robes that were either green or black.



“Feel free to modify them to fit you and change the color.” Draco said once the boys had them on.



“Sir.” Said a house elf that had appeared. “The other guests are here.”



“Thanks Glint.” He said, and followed him to the dining room.



“Bloody hell.” Michael said. “Your house is huge.”



“Yah, it really is.” He said with a dry voice. They walked into the dining room to see the girls. They were all dressed in the most breath-taking gowns.



“Wow.” Dean said, as he pulled Luna toward him and gave her a deep kiss. Draco couldn’t help but want to do that when he saw Astoria. She was dressed in a deep purple gown that showed a little cleavage. It fit her shape perfectly and ended at the floor. It was a strapless, and she looked good.



Before he could say anything, the rest of the guests showed up. It was many families of death eaters. Suddenly he saw Mrs. Parkinson and her daughter Pansy. Mr. Parkinson was in Azkaban, life sentence. His heart dropped to see her in her usual revealing green robes. She saw him and rushed over.



“Oh Draco, how are you?” she purred.



“Never better. Excuse me.” He said, walking away. He got over her that night, too. The night of the Battle. He walked over to Astoria who was looking over in shock. He turned to see what she was looking at, and low and behold, Mr. Greengrass had walked through the door. He walked in, not seeing her, with his wife and daughter. Draco walked over to her and grabbed her hand.



“Do you want to leave?” he asked her.



“No. This has been a long time coming.” She answered. Before Draco could say anything else, his mother came to announce dinner. He saw Pansy making a bee-line for him, so he sat himself down in between Terry and Michael. She was quick, though, and sat across from him. Dinner was silent with a little polite conversation. Her foot kept “accidently” bumping his and rubbing his upper leg. Every time she did, he would pull away without saying a word. He had to keep images of her naked and them sleeping together out of his mind. Sure, she was his first. But he felt nothing for her now, and he was sure he never would again. She was a slut. They both cheated on each other, but always pretended otherwise. Heck, he had slept with another person at the table, Daphne, Astoria’s sister.



Thinking of Astoria, he looked over to see her very still an quiet, not trying to bring attention to herself.



“Could you pass the peas?” He heard her ask towards the end of dinner. He saw Mr. Greengrass now grab the peas.



“Here you go…” He stopped dead. His face turned into a frown and looked at her. “You.” He said. “I told you never to show your bloody traitor face again in proper society!” he said.



“Mr. Greengrass, please…” Mrs. Malfoy tried, but he was standing up.



“That’s it you little brat, I challenge you to a duel.”



“No!” Draco’s mother said.



“Fine!” Astoria said over her.



“I’ll be your second, father.” Daphne said.



“This is insane!” Mrs. Malfoy said.



“I’ll second Astoria.” Draco said over her.



“Fine!” Draco’s mother said, making the table disappear. Astoria and her father went to the now cleared center, and did the smallest bow possible.



“One, two, three.” Terry said. Astoria immediately sent a silent spell to her father and he dropped to the floor. His wife ran up to him and felt his neck.



“You brat!” She cried. “You killed him!”



“I was faster.” She said. “It was a legal move.”



“That’s it!” Daphne cried, taking her father’s place. “It’s on ‘dear sister.’”



They both kept sending curses to each other, dodging them all the while. Terry and Michael had put up a barrier around the watchers.



After about five minutes, Daphne dropped to the floor.



“Give up” Astoria asked.



“Never.” She said, breathing heavily.



“Fine. Avad…” she started.



“Astoria, wait!” Draco called. “No more.”



“Fine. Stupefy.” She said, and Daphne froze up.



“You little…” Her mother started, but Mrs. Malfoy stopped her.



“Marge. That’s enough.” She said. “Astoria won. Either peace, or leave.”



“Fine Cissy, but you’ll never see us again.” She said, levitating Daphne out.



“Now that that’s taking care of, how about we move to the garden for dessert.” She said, the uncomfortable silence getting more awkward by the second.



“Yes, lets.” Luna said. Mrs. Malfoy showed everyone out, sitting at a nice porch table. When Draco saw Astoria wasn’t moving, he went over to her.



“You okay?” he asked softly. She turned to him, eyes empty, silent. She simply put her head to his chest. She didn’t cry, but she didn’t move away. Draco pulled her into a hug while she just rested her head. A few minutes past when someone came through the door.



“Dra-co.” came a sickening-sweet voice ringing from behind Astoria. She didn’t move, but Draco looked up. Pansy saw him holding Astoria and scowled. “Draco, what’s going on?”



“Pansy.” He said exasperated. “Look, I…”



“I’m good.” Astoria said standing up. Just as she was, everyone walked in again.



“It’s raining, so we are going into the sitting room.” Draco’s mother said, leading the way. Astoria followed them without looking back.



“Draco, who was that?” Pansy asked.



“A friend in need.” Draco said. “If you didn’t notice, she had a small family dispute.” He continued, his voice dripping with sarcasm.



“Yes, I also saw how quickly you stood up to help her.”



“Look, we need to talk, and not about Astoria.” Draco said, standing up now. “We can’t do this anymore. Us. We were never serious anyway, and then everything that happened two months ago. This won’t work.”



“Draco!” She screamed. “You’re leaving me for a blood traitor?”



“No.” he replied softly. “I’m leaving you for a better life.” He walked outside, where it was raining softly. She followed him.



“So, that’s it then.” She whispered. “You just ‘out grew’ me?”



“No.” he said, turning towards her. “We picked different paths.”



“Fine.” She said, walking back inside, drying herself off with a drying charm. As Draco followed her in, walking through the rain, he thought this was the perfect end to a relationship.



“Cissy, you are out of line. Come Pansy, we’re leaving!” Draco heard as he walked into the sitting room.



“What’s going on?” Draco asked Terry, who happened to be sitting closest to the door. But he didn’t have time for an answer



“Mandy, please.” His mother said. “Our old ways are just that, old. We need to accept what is happening.”



“No, this is not right.” Mrs. Crabbe said. She and the other wives took out their wands. “You have a husband in Azkaban!” Draco and his friends took out their wands and stood up.



“Yes, but I also have a son who has made the right choice along with me, and because my husband cooperated, he only has ten years instead of life.” Cissy shot back. “If you were wise, you would do the same!”



“Draco, you’re a traitor too!” Mrs. Crabbe said. “You killed my son and talk about right and wrong?”



“No, he killed himself.” Draco said calmly. “And I chose to help out Harry Potter. Either chose to accept the path my family has, or leave.



"Fine!" She said leaving, followed by the other wives and children. Pansy was following her mother out the when she stopped and looked at Draco.



"I'll stay if there is any chance of us again." She said, low enough that he just heard her.



"Then, I guess you should leave." He whispered back.



"Fine!" She said, her formerly desperate eyes turned cold. "Good bye."



"Congratulations Mate!" Michael said to Draco, breaking the awkward silence.



"For what?" He asked.



"For getting rid of the annoying girl. Honestly, no body ever liked her mate." he said. Laughing, Draco agreed, as did everyone else.



~:~:~:~:~:~:



"Draco?" Came a soft voice behind him. He had thought everyone had left already, so he turned around confused. He saw Astoria coming towards him.



"Yeah?" he asked.



"Thank you." she whispered. "For today. And I never thanked you for your help a dozen other times this summer and at the battle. So, thank you."



"No problem. It was my pleasure." He said, watching her still getting closer and his heart started to pound a bit. She closed the space between them, and just looked him in the eyes. He wanted to lean in and kiss her, but he stayed where he was.



"No!" she said suddenly, pushing him away. "I can't so this, I'm sorry." She ran out the door and disappeared. Draco was very confused, and very sad that she was gone.



~:~:~:~:~:~:





Two months later, the end of August had approached. The castle was rebuilt, and Draco had been given approval to start training as a healer. He was part of a special graduation for those who were able to do the summer program. A few people, like Hermione, had decided to do a whole full year again.



A year passed as he trained as a Healer and got very far in a short amount of time. He became the Junior Healer in charge of the Permanent Injury Ward. He still saw his Ravenclaw friends often, going to concerts and pubs with them.



He also saw much more of Denis. When Draco had learned that his family had died, he talked to his mother, and they adopted him. He also wanted to be a healer, and asked Draco millions of questions when he visited Hogsmead to see everyone. He had been made a prefect and Draco couldn't be happier.



Su and Astoria also started at Saint Mungo's. They were assigned to his ward, so he found that even more fun. He really enjoyed everything about it.



That next Christmas, in what had become a tradition for everyone, he headed to the Burrow for their Christmas party. He grabbed a butterbeer and just sat on the couch, watching everyone comfortably when someone sat next to him.



"Hey!" Astoria said, plopping down next to him. She was holding an empty bottle of Firewhiskey and was slurring her words a bit. "Actually, I want some air!" she stood up and headed towards the back door, Draco following her nervously. He had never seen her drunk, or drink for that matter. She sat at the outdoor bench and watched the fireflies while Draco watched her. She scooted next to him and put her head on his shoulder. "I never said thank you. For last year. You know, that thing at your house." she said, looking at him after a few minutes.



"Yes you did." He said slowly.



"Not for helping me with my father." she said. "For not kissing me. That wouldn't have been the right moment, like it is now." she leaned in and closed her eyes. Draco was tempted to kiss her, but gently pushed her away.



"No." he said. "You're drunk. You'll regret this later." he said, trying to hid how sad that truth made him.



"No, I won't." she said, her voice normal again. Draco just stared at her. "That was a test, and you passed." she leaned in and kissed him lightly.



"What?" he asked, extremely confused now.



"I really do like you." she said blushing, "But I was conflicted. I swore I would never get involved with a pureblood. But then you came along. Then I remembered last week my exact words were 'I would never marry a freaking pureblood.'" Draco's heart started to beat fast. He kissed her then, and she kissed back hungrily. She pulled away after what felt like ages. "You do realize that this can never go very far. It's just casual."



"For now." Draco smirked and kissed her again.



~:~:~:~:~:~:





Two year went on like this. They dated casually and still hung out with everyone else and their girlfriends and boyfriends respectfully. Well, except Luna, who broke up with Dean, and moved to Sweden, but still sent letters to everyone. She was dating this other bloke, and was going to bring him over the next time she came home.



Denis had been made Head Boy and had just graduated. Draco and his mother decided to through a party for the whole graduating class, their friends and family. Astoria was there, she had become very fawn of Denis. They had both gotten him a Firebolt 2.0, the newest racing broom. He had been his house team seeker for the last three years, and was picked up as the seeker for Pudmire United, first string. He was ecstatic when they gave it to him. Harry and Ginny had shown up for the party to see Denis, and walked up the Draco and Astoria.



"Hey guys." Harry said. "We wanted to hand these to everyone personally."



"We gave Denis his, and here's yours." Ginny said handing them cards. Draco read his. 'You are formally invited to the Wedding of Harry James Potter and Ginevra Molly Weasley.'



"Congratulations!" Draco said, shaking Harry's hand.



"That's brilliant!" Astoria said, hugging Ginny. Draco remembered what she had told him about her, Astoria, Su, and Luna all being good friends since first year.



~:~:~:~:~:~:





Later that night, Draco and Astoria had finished cleaning up, his mother had gone to bed, and Colin had left with his friends for their one week beach trip, and Draco was ready to head to the apartment he had gotten.



"I guess I should go." Astoria said when they said the last cleaning spell.



"If you want to." He said.



"What if I don't?" she asked him suddenly.



"Huh?" he asked, confused. "Oh!" he said, understanding. "You don't have to, that is, if you're sure..." She kissed him hard and he just looked at her.



"That would be a yes," she said. He smirked and kissed her again. He took her outside where he apperated back to his apartment...



~:~:~:~:~:~:





"Good morning beautiful." he said when she stirred. Ever since that one night, she had moved in to his apartment. Two years had past like this. He had watched many of his friends get engaged and married. He was even the best man for Terry. Today was Michael and Su's wedding, where Terry was the best man, because Draco had told him that he really needed to spend the whole day being charming to Astoria.



He got dressed quickly and got the diamond ring he had bought out of its hiding spot and put it in his pocket. He had been wanting to ask her to marry him, but he knew her swear. But he had just figured out a way around it.



"Hey." he said, when they got home after the wedding. It had been a lot of fun, and He seemed to really get Astoria in a good mood. "Do you remember what you said to me all those years ago?"



"What words?" she asked, confused.



"You know, during the battle." he prompted.



"You said 'the day a Malfoy does something good, I’ll marry a pureblood.'"



"So..."



"Well, you have even admitted I did something right that day." He said, getting on his knee and taking out a black velvet box. "So, I guess you'll just have to marry me."



"Yes!" she said, kissing him. "I never thought I would say that, but yes! I will."



~:~:~:~:~:~:




It was a fall wedding. Astoria looked beautiful. They had a son, Scorpius, and a few weeks before he went off the Hogwarts she found out she was pregnant again. Draco lived happily with his wife, glad he decided to make to right choice all those years ago.






Author's Note: The quote (Molly yelling at Bellatrix) comes from page 736 of the American edition of Deathly Hallows.

Chapter 76: What Comes of Dreams
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What Comes of Dreams
by eternalangelkiss
(Hufflepuff)




There she sat on top of the gently sloping hill, pristine and unattainable. Fenrir Greyback sucked in a heady breath of her, sensing the growing panic and mayhem in the air. The battle for Hogwarts was about to begin. It invigorated him and he could taste the near victory on his lips. His wolf-like eye sight trained on the glowing windows of the castle. He would soon bath in the pure gold light of the school and walk down its stony corridors for the first time. Fenrir grinned and a low growl bubbled up out of his throat. He noticed that Rabastan looked at him oddly, and turned away from the werewolf with revulsion.

Fenrir knew what his counterparts really thought of his kind. He knew that he was just as despised by the Death Eaters as he would in the normal wizarding world, but at least he was left to his own devices and his own plans. And he did have plans. Fenrir had grand stratagems of starting a whole new world order. He was going to ignite the reign of the wolf and it was going to start tonight in the very place that had once rejected him so long ago.

This was not the first time that Fenrir had looked upon Hogwarts as a foreigner. The first time had been when he was a little boy when his father had taken him to see the grand place. It was after he had gotten his letter inviting him to attend Hogwarts and after he had been bitten. When news of his lycanthropy reached the ears of the current Headmaster, he was no longer acceptable material for the school. For Fenrir, it had been a devastating blow when he was a little boy. He had had so much hope and plans for what he would do at Hogwarts. He had planned to become an Auror, because it was a dream of his ever since he was a little boy, but that dream evaporated into thin air.

The old werewolf laughed derisively to himself when he remembered the day he had gotten his letter. It had changed the course of his entire life. Fenrir had been so excited that he had decided to take his letter to show the old man who lived out in the woods alone. Over the years, the old man had become his friend. Fenrir brought him food and the old man had told him stories. Despite the warnings his parents gave him about the old codger, Fenrir never saw anything that seemed dangerous about the man. In fact, in his opinion, he was the kindest man he had ever met and he told the most wonderful stories. They were tales of great heroics and dramatic adventures. Fenrir was sure that he too would one day be just as special and just as heroic as the men he heard about in his old friend's wild tales.

It was the old man that Fenrir went to, when he wanted someone to tell about his goals and dreams. Fenrir had never been particularly close to his parents and didn't really think they would ever listen to him, but this man did.

Fenrir had been so excited to tell the man of his letter and had set out late one evening with a basket of food. He knew that his mother and father would have been completely stunned by his behavior. They had always warned him not to go into the forest, especially when it was nearing night, but Fenrir, being an adventurous eleven-year-old, didn't listen to his parents warnings. He had gone into the forest to visit his old friend plenty of times before and he didn't understand why now was any different.

But it was different. Very different because it was the night of the full moon and Fenrir Greyback would learn two very important lessons that night. The first was that no matter how gentle and kind a person could be in the daylight, nothing could stop the savagery of a werewolf from appearing. His friend had warned Fenrir about coming after dark to see him, but again, he didn't listen to the warning.

The old werewolf would have killed Fenrir, if his parents and a few of the villagers hadn't come to stop the wolf.

And that was when Fenrir learned his second lesson in life. The world hated werewolves.

Fenrir felt the Death Eaters as they moved towards the castle, beginning their deadly march of conquest. He moved forward with the rest, his excitement growing. The time of his kind being shunned and hunted was coming to an end. It was destiny. The full moon was up, hidden behind the clouds. He could feel her seductive pull on him even now as his blood rushed through his veins and his hunger for destruction roared inside him. Tonight he was going to build an army of werewolves and soon every witch and wizard would have to take notice of his kind. Even if he died tonight, there was no stopping what was to come.

Fenrir loped towards the castle door, which had been blasted open. He felt his teeth beginning to elongate as his change started to take over. His excited flared up wildly in him as he crossed the threshold of the doorway, stepping foot for the first time in his life into Hogwarts. Fenrir paused for a moment as he looked in awe at the castle that should have been his place of solace. He was surprised such sentiments still resided in him and for a moment, he was that little boy who had stood outside the castle with his father, taking in what should have been his future. He was in awe back then as he was now, but those feelings were quickly quashed by the grizzled werewolf.

Fenrir was here to do one thing and one thing only: bite as many people as he could. And just as he thought this, he turned his head and saw two young men advancing on him. One was tall and lanky with bright red hair and the other was shorter with a round face and black hair.

Fenrir smiled to himself as he turned to face the two boys. This will be like taking candy from a baby, he mused to himself.

Chapter 77: Never
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Never
by Lilypotterfan123
(Gryffindor.)





I’d never killed anyone before, I’d never wanted to but battling with Snape was the closest thing I had known to killing someone, and for once in my life I hoped he would die by no other wand but mine. It was like the small piece of darkness that was lurking inside of me was trying to break free. As he jumped from the tower I knew it wasn’t over as he flew out of the window and up into the sky to join his master.

The one question that ran around in my head was, how could Albus be so blind and not notice what Snape was doing? Potter saw the anger bubbling inside of me as did Professor Flitwick who made me see sense and if we kill someone we must have a reason other than pure revenge. I wondered if Albus had told us that, I wondered about everything he had ever said to us and if all he said was real. How could just one man make us question a greater man’s life? Potter asked me about the Diadem which of course hadn’t been seen in centuries, had the boy gone mad!? I then listened to his theories and how they swayed me into believing that it was at Hogwarts and he could get it. So in fact the boy was perfectly sane and a lot more open minded than I ever would be. But it was then the battle had truly started as us teachers and students had to pull together not just for Potters sake but for all of us. I ran down a flight of stairs to the Great Hall all the children were either crying silently, crying loudly, screaming, gossiping, worrying or looking quite proud and calm.

One Slytherin girl named Pansy Parkinson dared to stand up and shout about how it was all Potters face and as she looked at him she wrinkled up her nose and made a foul face. I then directed her in Filch’s direction who then grabbed her by the arm and escorted her out. The prefects did the rest leading out all the underage children quickly to make sure the Death Eaters didn’t arrive and kill them all. Yes the children were brilliant at magic but they weren’t strong enough or brave enough to take on people who were experienced in the killing department.

The war had become more ruthless than any I’d ever seen. The dead and injured were just left for dead on the floor and not even I could help them, I couldn’t even look them in the eye because I felt like a coward. I had helped anyone I could leading the giants and Acromantulas away but fighting a death eater was yet to come. I was about to go help Miss Abbott when out of nowhere came Alecto Carrow her flying her eyes narrowed into a glare and her pig like nose scrunched up. I detected a hint of fear in her as she did in me and that caused an evil grin to spread across her foul face.

“Ah Minerva, good to see you. Haven’t you given in yet? I’m sure your death will change that.”

“Alecto my dear I highly recommend you don’t try to kill me as it will only end in tears.” I told her and she let off a Bellatrix like cackle.

“You think you’ll kill me, ha Minerva your days of happiness and life are over, CRUCIO!” She screamed and I jumped out of the way.

“Expelliarmus!” I shouted back but she deflected it with a flick of the wand.

“Ha you’ll never get me Minerva!” She laughed and tossed back her hair.

“Avarda Kedavra!” She screamed at me.

“Speculum!” I yelled a long silver mirror appeared and as it did so did a frown on Alecto’s face. The spell rebounded and hit her square in the chest. She fell to the floor and Flitwick and Sprout came over to my side.

“I didn’t kill her did I Pomona?”

“No Minerva, she did it to herself.” She replied, I’ve never killed anyone in my life and I wish to stay that way for all eternity.

Chapter 78: The Feral Man
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The Feral Man
by eternalangelkiss
(Hufflepuff)



A/N: This one-shot is a companion one-shot to another one-shot that I put up on this collaboration, called What Comes of Dreams, which is told from Fenrir’s point of view. This can be read without having to read the other one-shot. Thank you!


His mother had always told him that there were real monsters out in the world, that they didn't exist only in fairy tales and Ron Weasley had taken those words to heart. He knew that there was darkness that was beyond his imagination out in the world around him, but he had never thought he would actually have to face that darkness head on. And yet, there Fenrir Greyback stood, a look of mercurial delight on his wolfish and misshapen face. Ron tensed as the werewolf turned to face him and he felt Neville, who was at his side, do the same. He had been around werewolves before, but never one like this one.

Ron drew his wand shakily and he saw Neville do the same. He noticed that Neville looked to him for answers. Should they stay and fight or should they turn tail? Ronald was never one to turn from a fight easily and he had never been one that others looked to for answers either. He had always been relegated to being the sidekick to his friend, a second best to Harry's legacy. But tonight, no one was a sidekick and everyone had to bear the weight of momentous decisions.

"Ready, Neville?" Ron asked, his voice as even as he could make it. Neville silently nodded, a stony look of determination settling into his features. Ron had never seen this side of Neville before. Neville had matured in the year they had been gone. He had turned into a warrior and somehow, Ron had turned into a leader.

Ron squared his shoulders and widened his stance as Greyback slowly stepped closer and closer to them. He hoped it would show more courage than he was feeling at the moment. He wasn’t going to deny that this was terrifying to him. This was no ordinary Death Eater they were facing. Ron could see this when Fenrir lifted his wand at them. There was a ferocity in the way the feral man looked. His hands were hairy and his fingernails long and dirty. Sharp, yellow teeth peeked out of his blood red lips. They were the same teeth that had disfigured his brother, Bill.

Suddenly, any doubt that Ron had about facing this monster was washed away. Fenrir had to pay for what he had done to Bill and for what he had done to Remus Lupin. How many families had been devastated by Fenrir's bite? How many children have had to face a world of scorn and hatred because of the old werewolf? Ron was never one to get angry as easily as some of his siblings, but there was one thing he had in common with them; he couldn't stand by and allow such injustices to go unpunished. Someone had to step up and put an end to the crazed man. Ronald would have never imagined that it would have been him.

Fenrir came closer and closer, his body getting lower and lower to ground as the wolf in him came out.

Ron steadied his wand as best he could as his pounding heart shook his body. He was terrified, but he also knew that he had to do what was necessary to end an evil that had destroyed so many lives. This was his time. Ron had never had to kill someone before and he had never wanted to do so, but he knew that there was a high probability that one of the three of them may die tonight. The werewolf was out for blood, their blood and the blood of the people who were in the castle. Ron had to stop him.

Reducto!” Ron yelled out.

The spell burst out of his wand and descended on the Death Eater like a wild storm, but Fenrir laughed as he side stepped the whirling light. The spell hit a statue behind him and reduced it to dust. And Fenrir still continued forward.

The battle had begun. Ron and Neville shot spell after spell at Fenrir, narrowly missing him and narrowly missing the spells he sent at them. Sparks burnt the air between them, leaving the stench of raw magic lingering there. Both sides were deflecting the enemy attack and both sides had near misses, but there was one thing Ron had not counted on; Fenrir was proving to be a much smarter and tougher enemy then he had originally thought he would be.

“Neville, spread out!” Ron screamed out to other Gryffindor, gesturing to him to move behind the Death Eater.

But Fenrir was too smart for that. He kept the wall to his back and made sure that Ron and Neville were always in front of him. He wasn’t going to change his tactics until he had forced his way passed them. Then he would have a direct route to the Great Hall, where most of the fighting and people were. Ron couldn’t allow that. He had to force Fenrir away from the wall.

Spell after spell ignited the air, their collisions sounding like thunderclaps. Everything Neville and Ron threw at the Death Eater was deflected or missed hitting him. Holes seared the walls and statues lay in rubble. Ricocheting spells became a constant danger to the two boys as they defended themselves from Fenrir’s attack. Back and forth, the battle raged. And still, Fenrir relentlessly inched down the corridor, with the wall to his back. He was slowly making his way behind them. Ron knew they had to find a way to draw him away from the wall.

He suddenly knew what he must do. He had to sacrifice a player in order to get to the king. It was the oldest trick in chess. By this time, Neville had found his way back to Ron’s side, his wand fixed on Fenrir. The battle had ceased for the moment, as both sides regained their breath. They were at a stalemate, but Ron knew it wouldn’t last for long. All three wands were drawn and all three combatants paced anxiously as they thought of a way to best their enemy.

Fenrir was not using the Killing Curse on them, which was what had saved them so far, but Ron wondered why. Then it hit him. Fenrir wanted them alive when he bit them. This made the Death Eater more of a monster than Ron had ever imagined before.

A slow, guttural laugh rolled out of Fenrir’s throat as he swayed back and forth, eyeing the boys like a snake eyes its prey.

“What do we do now?” Neville asked nervously, not once taking his eyes off of Fenrir.

“Listen closely. We need to draw him away from the wall. On the count of three, we’re going to rush him. I’m going to take the lead. When we’re close, I’m going to let one of his spells nick me. I want you to feint to the right. When I’m down, take him out!” Ron whispered.

Fenrir’s pacing was growing more and more restless and a low growl was building in his throat. The stalemate was ending and Ron knew he only had a few more seconds.

“What if he tries using the Killing Curse?” Neville asked nervously.

“He won’t. He wants us alive when he bites us. Now, are you ready?” Ron asked. Neville nodded, though his face had taken on a sickly shade of green. “One, two, Three! ” Ron screamed.

Both boys ran forward with Ron in the lead, firing everything they knew at the werewolf. Fenrir roared and fired back, slowly edging away from the wall, but not enough to do any good.

When they were close, Ron partially deflected a Stunning spell, allowing it to clip his shoulder. He was knocked off his feet and was on the ground, his arm numb from the shoulder down. Fortunately, it wasn’t his wand arm, but unfortunately, his wand had fallen from his hand and skidded a foot away from him as he fell.

And that was when Fenrir pounced.

In that flash of a moment, time stood still for Ron, who was helpless on the floor. All he could see were eyes as black as coal piercing into him and large, yellow teeth. All he could hear was the roar of the hungry beast descending upon him and all he could smell was the foul body odor of the feral man, mixed with the faint scent of old blood. Ron’s heart had nearly stopped in his chest and he was paralyzed in terror on the ground.

When Fenrir was almost upon him, a bright light lit up the air behind him and slammed into his back, causing the werewolf to contort in the air before he hit the ground, just shy of Ron’s feet. Ron’s mind immediately kicked into action and he quickly scrambled away from the Death Eater.

“Are you all right, Ron?” Neville asked as he rushed to his friend’s side. He handed Ron his wand and was reaching down to help him up, when Ron’s eyes widened and he shoved Neville away.

Neville fell to the floor in shock and just as he did so, a green light zoomed through the very space he had been in. The werewolf on the floor cursed aloud as he slowly and sluggishly trained his wand on Ron. Whatever spell Neville had used, the werewolf was far from being incapacitated and he was now shooting to kill.

Without thinking, Ron uttered the first spell that came to mind.

Incarcerous!” Ron screamed.

Petrificus Totalus!” Neville yelled out at the same time.

Thick ropes shot out of Ron’s wand and slung themselves around the furious werewolf, just as Neville’s spell hit the werewolf square in the chest. The ropes bound the Death Eater’s arms close to his body and Neville‘s spell effectively turned the man into stone. The Death Eater fell woodenly to the floor, a furious rage sparkling in his eyes. Fenrir Greyback was down for good.

Neville rushed over to Ron’s side and helped him to his feet. Both boys were shaken by the attack, but both kept their wands trained on the fallen Death Eater. They remained there silently, their eyes and wands never leaving the bound man. Not once did he move, but they kept their wands fixed on him until a pair of Aurors can hurtling into the corridor they were in, responding to the commotion. After taking over watch of the Death Eater for the two boys, Ron and Neville ran towards the Great Hall.

As Ron left the destroyed corridor, he felt a mixture of sheer exhilaration and sheer terror. He had done the impossible and he had stared death in the face at the same time. His mind was still reeling from what had just happened, but this was his victory and no one could ever steal that away from him. And with uplifted spirits, he raced towards the battle ahead of him.

Chapter 79: Sometimes We Sort Too Soon
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Sometimes We Sort Too Soon.
written by Galawen (Hufflepuff)
plot by SereneChaos (Hufflepuff)



 


He could hear the sounds of battle echoing throughout the castle; he could hear the crash of stone on stone, the bang of armour falling to the ground, the tearing sound of centuries old tapestries destroyed in moments. Worst of all he could hear the screams of pain and grief that told him how his beautiful home was being defiled, being invaded. He could hear his children, past and present, fighting hard to protect this old building; the symbol of so many years of happy memories. He could bear it no longer; it had never been in his nature to sit back and not take action, so, for the first time since he died, Albus Dumbledore took a deep breath and stepped out of his portrait.

He wondered throughout the castle, walking through mostly empty frames; their occupants fled to safer landscapes in the many corners of the castle. The noise of destruction he had been hearing was nothing compared to actually witnessing it. Walls lay in broken rubble upon the stone flags that had in some places been crushed themselves. Many of the suits of armour that had stood in the corridors were missing, presumably gone to fulfil their duty of protecting the school and its inhabitants.

Moving from a portrait that he vaguely remembered containing some arguing shepherds, to one set in the kitchen of a stately manor along the next hallway Dumbledore froze. There in front of him stood a couple of students duelling a collection of masked figures. Death Eaters. A feeling of utter helplessness swelled up in him as he watched, unable to aid in any, as spell after spell was exchanged between both groups.
The death eaters were older and more experienced, but Dumbledore could see the passion his students had and their determination was shining through their eyes. Suddenly a wayward spell hit the wall beside them and a pile of stone came crashing down. Dumbledore peered anxiously through the dust, searching for signs of life. He could hear movements, but he didn't know if it was the death eaters or his students. Slowly the air cleared a little in front of him and he could see the two students on the ground in front of him. Both wore the blue of Ravenclaw and seemed to be of sixth year. A feeling of immense relief rose within him at the sight of them alive, but this quickly turned to despair as he observed a very important detail.
One of the students was lying on the ground, his leg pinned to the ground underneath a pile of rubble, his housemate trying frantically to pull him clear. Neither of them seemed to have their wands, and indeed Albus spotted splintered wood underneath some of the stone. There were loud sounds from the other side of the rubble and the stones separating them from the death eaters began to move.

'' Run Rachael! You have to run! Leave me here, my leg is stuck fast''

Dumbledore heard the boy cry desperately to the girl beside him. She paid him no heed, except to increase the speed of her frantic effort to free him.

"RACHAEL!!! You have to listen to me; you know I'm right; you're the clever one remember? There's no reason behind what you're doing, I can't get loose, you need to leave!!''

Rachael paused in her frenzied attempt at his words and Dumbledore could see the boy had finally got the hopelessness of the situation across to her. She looked at him and then across to the gap appearing in the stone and the vague movements visible beyond it.

"They'll be through in a minute! Quick go down the corridor and use the passageway behind the statue; it'll get you to the 5th floor in no time!" the boy exclaimed.

Dumbledore could hear the fear in his voice despite the fact that he had managed to keep it steady and he knew the girl had heard it too. Slowly and determinedly she knelt down beside him and grasped his hand.

"What are you doing!! LEAVE Rachael, please, please leave!"
The boy was almost sobbing at this stage as he hysterically tried to get his friend to leave him.

"No. Sorry Andrew, you're not getting rid of me that easily, you've put up with me for 6 years of friendship; you think I'm going to start listening to you now?" she said smiling at her friend, Dumbledore could see the tears running down her cheeks.

"Rachael please, please think about this; you're not being logical! You're a Ravenclaw; use your bloody huge brain! You can still get away, stop being stupid!" Andrew begged her, tears gathering in his own eyes too.
She continued to smile sadly at him as a cloaked figure appeared through the gap.

"Guess I've been hanging around with the Hufflepuffs too much eh?"


Dumbledore stumbled blindly through frames, his mind frozen with grief as he recalled the sheer loyalty the girl had shown her friend. He was almost shaking with rage; his usual clear mind clouded with the desperate anger of a man who knows he can do nothing to change the past. He was barely aware of his location; he passed through settings as varied as city streets and empty fields, with no clear destination in mind. It was the sound of shouted spells that awoke him from his trance. He glanced up with weary eyes to take in the scene before him. More death eaters. This time however they were not merely fighting students; there were a few members of the Order scattered amongst them.

There were various separate battles taking place all down the hallway, with flashes of light and words of Latin all anyone could discern. Closest to the portrait Dumbledore was currently occupying he watched as Eleanor Fields, one of his recruits from the Ministry duelled a masked figure. As he watched, the mask slipped however and Albus could see the smirking face of Albert Runcorn. Eleanor was fighting bravely but the strain was clear in her eyes and she was being forced backwards, spell by spell. Eleanor had been involved in the information aspect of the Order and had never been expected to carry out any of the missions or dangerous tasks of the other members, and Dumbledore could see the inexperience in her wand-work. Runcorn was getting closer and closer to disarming her and she was tiring rapidly. Dumbledore looked anxiously around for someone to aid her, but everyone was occupied in their own struggle for survival and a surge of helplessness rose once again in the former Headmaster's breast.

Suddenly though, without warning, a flash of light hit Runcorn from behind; no shouted spell had accompanied it and it took Albus a few moments to find the owner. Eventually though he spotted a tall seventh year girl making her way across the battlefield of a hallway. Her dark hair was gathered in a long plait down her back and her uniform bore the bright yellow that marked her as a member of Hufflepuff. There was nothing warm or easy-going in her expression though as she quickly stunned a death eater who stumbled into her path, once again without the need for words.
When she reached Runcorn, he had regained his balance after her spell and now he turned from an exhausted Eleanor to face this new threat. He raised his wand and opened his mouth to attack the girl. But before a single word could come out of his mouth she had whirled her own wand in a swish of complicated gestures, none of which she used a single word for but after every flash of light Runcorn stumbled backwards a step until eventually the final spark hit him and he collapsed, unconscious, on the ground. Eleanor and Dumbledore both stared at the girl in front of them. She walked over and helped Eleanor to her feet.

"Are you ok? Do you need any healing?" the student asked anxiously.

"I.....I'm fine. Wh.......where did you learn how to do non-verbal spells like that?!" Eleanor stammered out, asking a question Dumbledore was dying to know himself.

The girl smiled slightly and answered:

"Ravenclaws aren't the only ones capable of pouring through dusty old books for extra study. They just enjoy it more!"


Dumbledore continued down corridors, reassured slightly that at least some of his former students were holding their own. He stumbled across various duels, each participant much too preoccupied to notice the unmistakable figure of their dead Headmaster watching them from various frames across the walls. He didn't stop again until he reached a group of students having a heated and rapid discussion down a deserted corridor on the 6th floor. There were students from Gryffindor and Hufflepuff and their ages were varied. One boy wearing the red of Gryffindor seemed to be trying to convince the others of an idea and Dumbledore could see conflicted expressions on each of their faces.

"I don't understand why we're hesitating about this! Each moment could be costing us another life!" the boy exclaimed, his hands gesticulating frantically.

"Because what you're suggesting is so dishonourable and deceitful Jay! Disillusioning each other and sneaking through battles stunning death eaters who can't see us, just smacks of dishonesty!" one of the boy's fellow Gryffindors shouted back at him.

The others nodded in agreement and one girl added:

"It's not an admirable way of fighting! It's just so, so, so – so Slytherin!"

The first boy, Jay, stared at the two who had spoken, his eyes smouldering in an emotion Dumbledore couldn't identify.

"Dishonourable? Admirable? Tell me Amy, Ross where have you seen honour today? Was it in the Death Eater who slaughtered Colin Creevey? Perhaps it was in the kids we passed, holding their friends in their arms, crying? Or maybe it was in the way we witnessed 5 Death Eaters surround a single student?" he spat at them and Albus could see that his words had affected those listening to him.

"This is a war; if you want to survive you need to do what you can; whatever you can! I'm not asking you to kill anyone for the love of God! I just want to stop them hurting anymore of my friends, I just want to help!" Jay almost wailed.

Breathing deeply he regained his composure before turning to the girl:

"And Amy? If wanting to do that in the best way I can makes me a Slytherin, well I guess I'd better see about getting re-sorted hadn't I?"

Dumbledore could see the shame in Jay's audience, he could see the way the stood taller, tensing themselves and he knew what they would do. He didn't need to hear Ross say in a quiet voice:

"Ok Jay, we're with you. Let's do this."

The students began to disillusion each other and Dumbledore continued on his way. The conversation had distressed him. He felt immeasurable sorrow that children were being forced to make such difficult decisions in order to protect themselves. It was hard to think how they would manage to cope with what they were forced to do in order to survive during this battle. But the important thing would be that they would survive; they would have the chance to heal and repair the damage that the things they witnessed would do to their souls.


Dumbledore continued downwards, making his way through portraits onto the 4th floor. He could see a group of people gathered outside the entrance to the library and he moved towards them, eager to see who it was. As he did so a hush swept throughout the castle, stilling every noise that had previously been present. The group ahead of Dumbledore all looked up, startled as he himself was. Then slowly, accompanied by an excruciating, sinking feeling of despair he began to hear many people wailing. The sound of such grief nearly bowled him over and he blocked his mind to the despondent thoughts spinning around in his head.

He had reached the group at this stage and he could see the same thoughts rushing across their faces. This distracted him, for a moment, from identifying them but when he did so his mouth fell open in shock. Horace Slughorn stood in front of him with a group of 6th and 7th year Slytherin students. There was no sign of battle on any of them and they had evidently just arrived. As he stood there staring at them, perplexed, Horace opened his mouth and began to speak:

"Something's happened. We have no more time; this is the only chance you have to make this decision. I'm going down to join this fight, regardless of who is winning or losing. I came back to help my students and friends and I intend to do just that," he paused, before quietly continuing, "Whether I am the only member of my house to do so or not."

The students standing before him exchanged frightened glances amongst themselves, the tension in the air was palpable and Dumbledore doubted if Horace would have much help. However he was proved wrong in the next instant as one by one each student swallowed tightly and turned towards Horace, nodding at him.

"You won't be alone Sir. We belong here too, on Potter's side, even if no-one wants us there." One girl stated strongly, her comment supported by her fellow students and both Dumbledore and Horace had smiles on their faces.

"I knew I could rely on you," Slughorn, uncharacteristically whispered.

He then whirled quickly on his feet and sped down the hallway, towards the Entrance Hall and the source of the grievous wailing. His students followed him, at speed also, blurring past Dumbledore allowing him to hear just one comment between the last pair.

"Let's just hope the Gryffindors don't notice us rushing to help, or we'll never hear the end of it!"

Dumbledore smiled at the young man's words. He felt no need to follow them, there was nothing he could do and he had seen enough death and destruction. He began to make his way back to the Headmaster's office where he would surely hear any news. Despite the pain and grief he felt from his travails throughout the castle there were other emotions battling for precedent in his heart; hope being prevalent amongst them.


Today he had witnessed a Ravenclaw's loyalty, a Hufflepuff's intelligence, a Gryffindor's cunning and Slytherins' bravery. As he made his weary return to the frame that housed his portrait in the circular room he had once occupied, he glanced over at the stand the Sorting Hat usually stood on. His last thought before falling into an uneasy and tense slumber was one of speculation:

"Perhaps sometimes, we sort too soon."



Chapter 80: True Sight
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True Sight
by Beene
(Hufflepuff)






I have misread the stars. It takes great effort and many years to contemplate the certainties of the celestial with exactness, and through determined study I believed that I was correct. The war was a war of men, of wizards; it did not belong to us. Firenze had long sought to entwine the fates of the centaurs with the wizards, but had they not limited our grounds? Did they not seek to deprive us of our land, that which had been ours for centuries?

It must have been my anger that colored my view, distracted me from true sight. The evil one had come to our forest; there was no denying it, as he and his followers built a fire. We centaurs watched from a distance, as we had dealt with the evil one before. He had promised that our lands would be restored, that once again the domain of the centaurs would be limitless. The truth was not upon him, as surely as the sun restores the day and banishes the knowledge of night. We did not side with one group of wizards, why should we believe the other? It was a choice of one futile, brief existence for a different futile, brief existence. The time of wizards and men is as brief as a single revolution of the sun to centaurs. It would be done in the blink of an eye. The universe holds many things which are yet unknown to men, but we centaurs can read the heavens.

The ascendance of Mars foretold of battle, that battle would come, but who was to say when? Mars does not talk in the vulgar exactness of men, only we centaurs truly understand how time and space is shaped. Firenze believed that Mars spoke to him of a great battle that would tilt the very universe itself, but he is young, impatient and overly bold. He left after seeing the evil one in the Forest. We did not follow.

When the bearded-one said my name as we watched from deep comfort of the trees, a young one dead in his arms, I knew that stars had veiled their knowledge. We watched the young one walked into death, willingly give himself to the cosmos. Now the stars told me a different tale; the heavens had not changed, but I peered through the mist with clarity. After the bearded-one went to the castle, we stood in silence. All faces searched the stars for guidance, but there was no new vision. The stars were quiet. The bearded-one’s words rang in my ears, accusing the centaurs of passivity, of inaction. I was not happy the young one, Harry, was dead. My herd looked to me and I ignored the stars. The time of deliberateness was over. The centaurs would act.

Many of the evil one’s followers fled beneath our bows. How our arrows sang in the air! Our hooves thundered upon the ground, a charge that has not been seen in many, many moons. When the young one, Harry, regained his feet I ceased moving. This had not been foretold, the stars spoke only of death, yet the young one was as new as the moon. After the evil one fell, let no one say the centaurs did not play their part. Firenze lay injured, many were lost, but I retreated in solitude to the forest.



Chapter 81: Death With a Twist
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Death With a Twist
by CornishPixie
(Hufflepuff)



“Come on.”

Death is an unforgiving, unrecognizing, and unresponsive monster.

Face gazed into identical face. Every hair, freckle, laugh line, every curve was the same. It might have been as if someone had just been looking in the mirror, but there was no mirror here. Two faces so identical can only be told apart by the differences in something deeper and truer. Souls must shine through.

Quivering face searched, but only found stillness and shadow. The empty shell of a body before it transfixed the torn soul. Its twin was gone.

The soulless body lay in a line of dead in the Great Hall, surrounded by makeshift soldiers. They had fought valiantly, and had somehow made it to this point. At about three in the morning You-Know-Who decided it was break time. He’d let the warriors in Hogwarts take an hour to refuel, reenergize, reevaluate, gather their dead, and give up their Champion.

Did the Dark Lord really thing that after all this they were going to let him just take Harry Potter? Too much had been lost, too many had died. No one would let all of this be in vain. They would stand together and fight, even down to the last if they had to.

At least, that was the general plan.

What was right was worth all this.

At least, that was the general belief.

But what of all that mattered right now? A soul in grief and kneeling on the floor looking desperately at its dead twin didn’t care at all. About any of it. The other dead went unnoticed, and those lucky enough to be alive seemed only like ghosts or shadows. They lurked at the edge of thoughts and what they said blended together; a white noise whisper in the background. If there was any hope left it couldn’t be felt. Even if Harry Potter were somehow still alive, he wouldn’t be soon. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named would come, his Death Eaters would follow, and they would kill everyone.

Bitterness and despair was all that was left. And death, of course.

It was over. This was the end. The two had worked as one, and neither knew what to do without the other. Even separated they had been able to feel the other. And when reunited there was this sense of relief that would never be felt again.

Many things would never happen again. Those old Gryffindor robes would never be worn or prided over again. The familiar wand had been lost during the chaos, or perhaps it was on their way to the Great Hall that it had slid from cold fingers. No more spells, no more magic, no more anything at all. All that was left was an incomplete and abandoned half of a pair that had never been apart like this.

They would never be together again. Not like this.

Although, if this fight kept on there was a chance they would be reunited tonight.
It was a morbidly comforting thought.

Fingers reached, slowly, shaking, and the coldness of the ashen cheek they touched sent a shiver that sparked tearless sobs. Sadness had surpassed the use of tears long ago. Tears had been shed in fear, in horror, and wet sobs had sounded when friends fell but this—

“You were the brave one,” chapped lips whispered words to an unhearing ear. The body would not know what was being said. It was to comfort the one still alive that the words were spoken, “You should have survived.”

Staring eyes stung, and the person absently started rocking slowly and subtly back and forth. Hands ached to grip stiff shoulders and shake until the body moved again, but fingers remember the unnatural cold. It was too late. It couldn’t be, but it was.

And this nightmare end kept stretching on.

“Come on,” the voice prompted again. This time it was heard, and the hand on the shoulder was felt, and screaming muscles went unnoticed as they stretched slowly into a standing position.

“What now?” Eyes still raked over the blank face, memorizing the faint laugh lines already so well known.

“It’s been an hour,” the voice was low, matter-of-fact, and still unrecognizable, “we’re going out to meet him. We’re going to fight.”

The end had come and there was still fighting. Wand gripped in a white-knuckled fist, promises of his followers deaths filled thoughts. At least one would be killed before her real death. It wouldn’t make any difference.

“Why?”

“They did it,” the unnamed person who cared enough to help her knew what she’d meant by the question. Why was it important to keep fighting, even when they knew it was done? Both sets of eyes took in the horror of the Great Hall once more, “They had the strength. She had the strength. We’ve got to fight. For them.”

Padma’s burning dry eyes found Parvati’s dead body on the ground one last time. Strength. That was it. She hadn’t known how it was possible that she was even alive when her sister had stopped breathing, but now it all made sense. The thing that was somehow keeping her awake and moving her limbs was the last thing Parvati had to give, and the one thing that had set them apart.

Padma was filled with the strength of her sister. Her twin. And as she followed the kind stranger to the Grounds of Hogwarts she vowed to honour the last gift her sister had given her.

“Be ready to die, Arse-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.”

And she smiled, literally, in the face of death.

Disclaimer: All is J.K. Rowling's.

Chapter 82: Against the Wall
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Against the Wall
by melian
(Gryffindor)





The Great Hall was quiet as those present tried to digest what had just happened. Lord Voldemort himself had offered to spare everyone's lives in return for that of Harry Potter, and after a hysterical Slytherin had tried to convince people to turn Harry in – he was, after all, right there in the room with them – those who were prepared to fight had formed a solid wall between her and Harry, and the teachers had started taking the younger students away.

The whole thing was almost surreal until McGonagall had started barking out orders and Kingsley had begun directing the troops.

"Good to see old McGonagall's still the same as ever," Fred said with a grin, turning to his twin. "And Kingsley. This past year or so hasn't changed them at all, has it?"

"I'd hate to be the one who ends up taking either of them on," George agreed. "That wouldn't be pretty." He paused. "Fun to watch ..."

"But not pretty," Fred finished.

His ears pricked up as he heard Kingsley say that someone would have to check the secret passageways into the school to make sure that no Death Eaters got in that way. Well, he thought, no one knows them better than us, do they?

"Sounds like a job for us!" he called, indicating himself and George, and he grinned again when Kingsley indicated he approved of that idea.

"Perfect role for us, isn't it?" George said conversationally as they stood up and made their way to a relatively empty part of the Hall so people could join them. "I reckon we've still got the Marauder's Map memorised, don't you?"

"Pity we gave it to Harry, almost," Fred agreed. "Though I dare say he made good use of it."

"Almost as good as we did," George said. They grinned at each other and surveyed the group standing in front of them – those who had volunteered to help defend the passageways.

"Right," Fred said authoritatively, "there are seven secret passages leading out of Hogwarts."

George picked up for him. "One has caved in so we don't need to worry about that one, one comes out underneath the Whomping Willow so we don't reckon anyone's ever used it, but there are still five that could be used by the Death Eaters so we'll need to cover those. You all prepared to help out?"

A dozen heads nodded, and Fred felt satisfied that this, at least, they could manage without too much difficulty and without anyone getting hurt. He had no qualms about himself or George – they could look after themselves, they'd proven that already – but these teenagers in front of him looked young, naive and terrified. Fortunately Lee had joined them too and would be able to become a third figurehead.

"Now, the passages are all over the school," he said, again authoritatively. He enjoyed the sense of power being in control of things gave him, it was one of the nicer parts of running the joke shop.

"There's one on the third floor behind that statue of the humpbacked witch," George continued. "You open it by saying Dissendium. Some of us will have to go there."

"Another one comes out on the second floor just near the old entrance to the Headmaster's office," Fred went on. "We never used that one because Filch knew about it," – he grinned at George and Lee – "but as far as we know it's still useable so we'd better check it out."

"There's another one on this floor – the ground floor," George added. "Down that corridor past classroom eleven and stop at the bust of Pierre Bonaccord, it's right behind him."

Fred was counting on his fingers. "Third floor witch, second floor Headmasters office, ground floor bust of Pierre Bonaccord. Don't worry about the Whomping Willow or the fourth floor mirror ... that's five. What else is there?"

"Don't forget the fifth floor just behind Gregory the Smarmy," Lee put in. Fred chuckled to himself – he and George had chosen to put their temporary swamp there for a reason, having used the passage to hide in when Mrs Norris had come by just before they set it up.

"Yeah, that's six," George agreed. "Oh, of course, the staff room. There's one that leads right into the staff room, there's a false back in the wardrobe they keep their cloaks in and that one goes to ... well, we actually don't know where it goes, it's the only one we never got to try. Somewhere in Hogsmeade, anyway, we think."

"Right," Fred said again. "So we need two groups on the ground floor, one on the second, one on the third and one on the fifth. Who wants to go where?"

The group was soon sorted into fifths, with Ernie Macmillan leading a group to the fifth floor, George taking on the humpbacked witch on the third, Cho Chang heading for the second floor, Lee going to the staff room and Fred going to the bust of Pierre Bonaccord on the ground floor.

"What do we do when we get there?" a girl with blonde hair asked as she followed him.

He shrugged. "Listen for any activity in the passage, and if we hear anything, open up and attack. We'll have the benefit of surprise. That okay with you, er ..." He trailed off, realising he didn't know her name.

"Hannah," she said, not batting an eyelid at the thought of fighting. "Hannah Abbott. And yes, of course that's fine. Death Eaters killed my mother; I want to fight."

Fred noticed her swallow as she said the words, but her face set grimly and he understood – the desire for revenge could, he'd heard, be overwhelming. "Well, you've come to the right place," he said.

The group stopped when they reached the plinth holding Bonaccord's bust. "What now?" asked a boy who didn't look much older than fifth year, though he had to be of age if McGonagall had let him stay.

"We wait," Fred said, pulling his wand out. "And we listen. If ANYONE comes through this passageway, we'll know about it, and we'll be the last thing that Death Eater ever sees."

The blonde girl looked pale but determined. "So we're to kill them."

"If necessary," Fred elaborated, a little disquieted by her grim resolve.

Just then they heard a loud bang and a crash, and it felt like the castle itself shook. Turning around to look for a window, Fred saw that the giants had joined the fight, and from the look of things on the other side. The thought didn't fill him with confidence.

"How," said a familiar voice, "are we ever going to hear anything over this racket?" Fred turned around to see Lee Jordan grinning at him. "Bit loud for the stealthy approach, don't you think?" Lee went on.

There was another crash, the walls shook and the bust of Pierre Bonaccord fell of its plinth and shattered on the stone floor, narrowly missing Lee's foot.

Fred laughed. "Maybe just a bit," he conceded. "Thought you were in the staff room?"

"That one's covered," Lee explained. "You know, with the staff going in and out all the time? I don't think ANY Death Eater would make it out of there without getting caught."

"So where are your troops?" Fred asked, trying to keep an ear on the tunnel just in case.

Lee shrugged. "Out there somewhere," he said dismissively, indicating the rest of the castle with a wave of his arm.

"Hey, did I hear something then?" Hannah Abbott asked suddenly, and Fred immediately leaned in towards the tunnel again, wand at the ready, trying in vain to hear any miniscule sounds over the roar of the battle around them.

On the wall behind them Sir Cadogan was racing through the portraits, shouting as he went, and in the din and confusion Fred almost missed the fast-moving shape of Harry Potter as it sprinted past them in search of something or other.

"Nice night for it!" Fred shouted at Harry's departing form, not able to resist saying something to the boy expected to be the hero of the day. The castle quaked yet again as the giants outside threw everything they had at it, and he found himself grinning, revelling in the adrenaline. "How do you reckon George is going?" he went on, turning around to find Lee.

"Where is he?" Lee asked, his wand still on the spot the tunnel came out.

"Third floor," Fred answered. "Though he's got the Honeydukes tunnel, so probably if anyone comes through that they'll be so full they won't be able to fight anyway. And if they've got their pockets full, George'll make the most of that too." Smiling to himself at this thought, he turned back to the empty plinth.

"How long will we be doing this?" Hannah Abbott asked suddenly, though she didn't move her wand. The castle shook yet again and she glanced towards the ceiling nervously. "Do we really think that anyone's going to try to come in this way?"

Fred shrugged. "Thing is, we can't rule it out," he explained. "If you want to go off and fight somewhere else, go for it. I'll stay here. After all," he said, still grinning and still high on adrenaline, "we've got a castle to defend."


Text in bold from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, pp491 and 499, UK edition paperback.

Thanks to 1917farmgirl for her help with this one-shot.



Chapter 83: Of Love and War
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Of Love and War
by Oh_Sugar_Quills
(Hufflepuff)




Narcissa was standing with her back against a tree in the forbidden forest, unsure of what she should do. The Dark Lord had just collapsed after killing Harry Potter, and everyone, save Narcissa, was surrounding him, trying to figure out what had happened. Narcissa felt that going over to everyone else would just put her in the way instead of helping. She would much rather be searching for her son right now, anyway, and it was because of the Dark Lord that she couldn’t, so in a way, it was the only type of payback she could get away with.

She didn’t like her son being in so much danger. She thought she may feel better if she talked to someone, but she didn’t want to burden anyone with her worries when they already had a lot on their minds, but Bellatrix had figured out something was worrying Narcissa.

“What’s the matter, Cissy?” She had asked.

“Nothing,” Narcissa had told her, afraid she‘d distract her from more important things.

“You’ve always been horrible at hiding your emotions, Cissy. I can tell something is bothering you.”

“It’s just that Draco is still in there somewhere, and I don’t know if he is still alive,” She confessed. “I’m worried about him, Bella.”

Bellatrix grabbed hold of her sister‘s hand, trying her best to put her mind at rest. “He’ll be alright. He’s a very smart boy”

“That’s just it, Bella! He’s just a boy! He hasn’t been through any of this before. He’s never fought like this, never fought for his life.”

That was all that she could say before the Dark Lord had called Bellatrix over to him.

The group of Death Eater stepped back suddenly, and Narcissa saw the Dark Lord stand up. He didn’t seem to know what had happened, but it didn‘t distract him from making sure Harry Potter was dead. Narcissa was ordered to check and confirm that Harry was, indeed, dead. She was pretty certain that he would be , but she still hoped that he had somehow survived, because he was sure to have seen Draco at some point and be able to tell her if he was alive.

Narcissa moved forward and bent down on the ground beside Harry. She slowly put her hand underneath his shirt, and placed it on his chest. Her heart leapt when she felt Harry’s heart beat, and she bent lower, closer to his face.

“Is Draco alive? Is he in the castle?” She asked without thinking.

She was relieved when she heard Harry say ‘yes’, and turned around to face the Death Eaters and told them that he was dead. It was the only way she could think to thank him, though she thought she probably made a mistake by lying to the Dark Lord.

Everyone began to move toward the castle. Hagrid was at the front, Harry Potter resting in his arms, and the Dark Lord and Bellatrix were right behind him. Narcissa tried to stay back, worried about what the Dark Lord would do if he found out she had lied, though hiding behind everyone wouldn’t save her from his wrath, if he did.

They were outside of the castle now, and Voldemort was speaking to everyone, but Narcissa wasn’t listening. She rose up on her toes, trying her best to spot her son in the crowd that was coming out of the castle, hoping that nothing had happened to him since Harry had last seen him. No luck. He was either hidden by all the others or still inside of the castle. She did not stop searching the crowd for that familiar blonde hair, though.

Before she could finish searching, another fight had started. Narcissa had been so distracted that she didn’t realize how it had started, but she followed everyone going into the castle.

Now was her chance to find Draco, to make sure he was alive. She followed a group of people into the Great Hall and looked around, but didn’t spot him anywhere. Nervously, she looked over the bodies on the floor, and luckily didn’t see him there either. The corridors were almost empty, but that didn’t stop her from searching them anyway. As she got to the top of the staircase on the second floor, she noticed a shadow coming around the corner, and quickly lifted her wand.

Her wand wasn’t needed, though, and she lowered it when she saw Draco coming toward her.

“Mum!” He said, picking up his pace when he saw her.

Narcissa pulled him into a hug, not letting go of him until he started pulling away.

“Where’s father?” Draco asked.

“He’s in the Great Hall.” She put her hand on Draco’s cheek as she said this.

They both walked into the Great Hall together, and immediately spotted Lucius standing near a corner, watching a duel between Harry Potter and the Dark Lord. They made their way through the small crowd, and stood beside of Lucius.

Voldemort’s wand flew up into the air, and an instant later he fell to the floor. Narcissa realized as soon as this happened, that the way they had lived their lives was finished. They would no longer be taking orders from the Dark Lord, their house would be all theirs again, not a place for all of the Death Eaters to have meetings. It was going to be tough though, because this is what they had done for most of their lives, and though they had previously had years to bring their lives back to what was considered normal after Voldemort had supposedly died, they still never quite got used to it.

Maybe they’d do better this time, she thought. At least they had an idea of what their life would go to this time. She knew that they could invite her sister over for a proper Sunday dinner again, and they wouldn’t have to worry about one of them being called off to do Voldemort’s dirty work for him in the middle of it.

“Hon,” Lucius said, looking into his wife’s eyes. “Your sister was killed.”

Narcissa stood looking into her husband’s eyes, tears welling up in her own.

“I’m sorry,” Lucius said, pulling her close to him as her tears started to fall.

She had known that it would be like this, that her sister would be killed working with Voldemort. She thought it would have been by Voldemort himself, though, and that couldn’t have been what happened today. She had just seen her, and Voldemort wouldn’t have killed one of his own supporters during a battle like this, unless he felt he absolutely had to.

Her tears slowed, and she grabbed her sons hand. At least she still had Lucius and Draco. Knowing that she still had them had made her happier and she smiled.

~

A/N: The line “Is Draco alive? Is he in the Castle?” was said in the forest scene in Deathly Hallows on page 726 of the US Hardcover edition.

A big thanks to eternalangelkiss for helping me out with this.


Chapter 84: The Ungrateful Dead
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The Ungrateful Dead
by 1917farmgirl
(Gryffindor)



 

“If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.”

- Katherine Hepburn



*****


“You actually are joking, Perce…. I don’t think I’ve heard you joke since you were –” *

The world around him was suddenly filled with blinding light, flying stone, and pain. Lots and lots of pain. He heard cries and shouting, heart-rending wails and then everything sort of faded away, dissolving into a darkness that was still and void.


*****


Gasping, Fred jerked up, his eyes flying open.

He was sitting on a bland stone floor, nondescript pillars and foliage surrounding him. A man in a beige robe sat on a bench at his feet, watching him silently.

Still sucking in great breaths, Fred tried to calm his pounding heart.

“Welcome,” the man said softly, rising to his feet.

“Wasn’t I just…” Fred gulped, unable to stop his thoughts from tumbling out into words, no matter how terrifying they were. “Didn’t I just die?” The words sent shivers all through him. He did not want to be dead. There were still things that needed to be done, tricks that needed to be played, jokes that needed to be invented! More importantly, there were people who needed him – his brothers, his mum, George…

“Yes…” the man answered, unworried.

Panic rising, Fred hurriedly slapped himself all over. Legs – check. Arms – check. Head – check. And everything seemed most decidedly solid, which was really messing with his vision of the afterlife. He climbed to his feet, taking a moment to marvel that he still had them.

“But I’m still…here! I’m still…me!” he couldn’t help blurting out.

“…and no,” the man finished, again without a flicker of emotion.

Fred paused, eyes narrowing as he stared at the man. “Huh? Now you’ve lost me. Shouldn’t that be yes OR no? I don’t really reckon you can be both.”

“The lamp is not always ready for the light which burns within.”

Both Fred’s eyebrows (and yes, he was very glad to notice they were still around) shot upward at that. Out of habit, his hand reached into his pocket but of course his wand was no longer there.

“Wow…that was…very philosophical of you but it still doesn’t tell me what the heck is going on!”

“Time will reveal all. For now, you must come,” he said, gesturing forward with an arm to a path Fred only now noticed.

Being the obliging bloke that he was, Fred dug in his heels and stayed put.

“You’re St. Peter, aren’t you?” he demanded, arms crossed.

“I have been known by many names throughout the years. Now, you really must come.”

Stubbornly, Fred shook his head. “My mum told me never to go with strangers, and believe me, St. Whatsie-Whosie, you’re topping my list of strange at the moment.”

For the first time in his…death…the man showed a flicker of emotion. It was annoyance.

Good, thought Fred. That makes two of us.

“A turtle out of its shell cannot understand that it is a turtle. Now come!” The gesture was less gracious this time.

“Merlin, you’re worse than Trelawney,” Fred muttered, running fingers through his very real feeling hair. “Look, I’m going to speak plainly, because I feel at least one of us should. I. Am. Not. Moving. Until. You. Tell. Me. What’s. Going. On.”

St. Annoying sighed. “I am the Decider. I watch the lives of Men. You led a life that sought to bring light and goodness to those around you therefore you have been deemed worthy. I shall be your guide.”

“Worthy of what?”

This time Fred knew he wasn’t imagining the cross expression. “Of Ascension. You have Ascended to a higher plane of existence, free from the troubles and constraints of the mortal world. Now come!”

“What if I don’t want to be ‘free from the troubles and constraints of the mortal world’?” Fred countered, not budging an inch. “I’m rather fond of that mortal world, as you call it, and have stuff I need to do there.”

“You do not have a choice!” snapped St. Boring. “Your human body has been turned into light – energy. There is nothing left.”

“Folks are gonna notice that,” Fred couldn’t help pointing out, unable to stop himself from imagining the looks on Ron and Percy and Harry’s faces when he dissolved into a puddle of light in front of them.

An entirely unpleasant expression on his visage now, St. Grumpy waved his arm and the world scattered around them. Fred gasped in surprise, but then his eyes narrowed in anger as he took in the new scene before him. Most of his family was gathered in a tight circle, tears pouring down their faces as they clung to each other in obvious grief. On the floor at their feet, his mother clutched a limp form, sobbing uncontrollably. With a jolt, Fred realized it was his own body. At its head, George knelt, looking lost and alone and broken.

“I thought you said I wasn’t dead!” he snapped, a hard anger filling him. “That I just dissolved into a new form or something and there was nothing left? They shouldn’t be there, crying over my body like that, if I’m not dead.”

“To the things of that world, the cares of your former life, you are dead. We have been leading souls to Ascension for millennia; do you not think we have ways of keeping it from those who are not ready? Now come, there are tasks awaiting you.”

Fred ground his teeth and turned away, unable to watch his family suffering like that for even a minute more. “Send me back.”

The man just blinked at him. “What?”

“I said, send me back. I didn’t ask for this Ascension crap and I don’t want your bloody tasks. Send me back.”

“Retaking human form is not permitted!” the man snapped firmly. “We are wasting time!”

“Ah, ah, ah…,” said Fred, shaking his finger back and forth. “You just said it wasn’t permitted, which must mean it is possible. And since I don’t give a flying hippogriff about your rules and what is and isn’t permitted, you’d better send me back right now.”

“I cannot. Accept the great honor you have been given, free yourself from what you were, and come with me!” With a wave of his arm, the scene was gone and they were back in the Courtyard of Bland.

Being a logical, coolheaded person Fred then did what any rational Weasley who found himself arguing at the gates of heaven with St. Peter minus a wand would do – he decked him.


*****

Have you ever tried to hide in heaven? Fred had always prided himself on being rather good at evading authority. He’d escaped from Umbridge after all, flaunted You-Know-Who openly for over a year, and his mum still didn’t know about that broken vase. But trying to out run persons who are omnipotent? Well, it gave fugitive a whole new meaning, not to mention the phrase “eyes in the back of the head.”

And this was a special heaven, apparently, the place where the “Ascended Beings” got to chill. On the whole, he found the landscape pathetically dull and very unhelpful. There were no dark alleys, no dodgy pubs, not even a semi-disreputable inn! He was beginning to think he’d avoided being found up to this point only because they were still reeling from the fact he had dodged the draft in the first place! But dumb luck wasn’t going to hold for long and if he ever wanted to get home instead of being dragged off to a glowy existence of boredom and bad metaphors, he needed a plan fast.

He leaned back against the polished, white wall he was hiding behind and sighed, wishing he had a map.

And then suddenly he did.

“Wow,” he breathed quietly, staring at the paper that was now resting in his lap. Thinking hard, he waved his hand and a tuna sandwich appeared, right on cue. He gazed dumb-struck for a good, long minute more before his face broke into a grin. “Wicked!” he said.

Ascension, apparently, came with a pretty nifty set of perks, complete power being one of them. And someone had thought this was a good idea for him? He shook his head, marveling at the incompetence of bureaucrats, even at a cosmic level.

Still, this would make things much easier!

And that was when Fred had an epiphany. If he was omnipotent, what was to stop him from just hopping on down to the Burrow for a visit? A very long, extended, make-yourself-at-home kind of visit. Of course it was just at that moment, when he was raising his arms to vanish in a poof of light, that they found him. Without warning he was surrounded by a group of beings wearing white or cream robes and extremely ticked off expressions.

“Those who have reached Ascension are not permitted to interfere in the affairs of mortals!” St. Peter, the obvious leader of this group, said stepping forward with a snarl. Gone was the calm, welcoming guy he’d first woken up to. “It is our most sacred rule!”

Fred balked, what little control he had left of his temper shredding away as he jumped to his feet.

“What kind of idiotic prats are you?” he cried, throwing up his hands in disgust. “You sit here spouting off this bilge about searching the world for those who do good, who are worthy, and then when you become all-powerful you can’t even use it to help people? Bit hypocritical, don’t you think!” He scanned the group, looking from one sickeningly attractive face to the next, searching for even a hint that they might see the utter insanity of all this, but he found nothing. He decided to try a different approach.

“Look, Your Glowyness, didn’t you say you picked me because I’d done some good in the world, tried to make people happy and laugh, even when things were rather bleak? Well, here’s the secret, though: I didn’t do it alone. There’s a bloke down there, looks a lot like me, name’s George. Maybe you’ve heard of him? We’re sort of a team and we really don’t do well as solo acts. If I stay up here and he stays down there, there’s gonna be a lot less happy in both places, which throws a huge wrench in your mission statement. Send me back and we’re all happy. Don’t send me back and I’ll figure out a way to do it myself.”

A woman stepped forward, gazing at him with the utmost sorrow and pity. “The blind who have no ears will never see,” she said sadly.

Fred glared furiously. “And the stupid who sit around doing nothing will just get stupider!” he shot back. The woman stepped back, rather stung.

“There are rules for a reason!” barked St. Stuffed-Shirt, not listening to a word he’d just said. “To protect the order of the universe! You cannot go back and you cannot interfere!”

And that’s when Fred snapped. “Screw the universe and screw your rules! I’m talking about my family here and there is no way in earth or heaven I’m leaving them down there suffering like that while I sit up here on my keister and practice ancient meditation techniques!” he growled. “So you bet your shiny little bums I’m gonna interfere! I’m gonna bring new meaning to the word ‘interfere!’ I’m gonna pop in on birthdays and at Christmas, show up for spring cleaning and family pictures! Work shifts at the shop and turn in my taxes! I’m gonna interfere so much they won’t know I was even gone!”

Fred’s voice had been growing louder and louder with each sentence as his fury increased, but he forced himself to stop and leveled the glare he’d learned to do from his mum at the being in front of him. “Sounds like I’m gonna be a whole heap of work, doesn’t it? A real pain in your Ascended posterior,” he drawled slowly. “Save a lot of trouble to just send me back.”

“We do not retake human form!”

Fred shrugged. “Fine. You choose Plan B.” He snapped his fingers, harnessing the raw power he’d just discovered and feeling no guilt whatsoever about broken rules. “Let the games begin and may the best non-corporeal-life-form win.” He picked up a handful of explosives from the pile that had just appeared at his side. “Hope you have good insurance on this place because I’m about to turn your little corner of heaven into a whole big bunch of hell.”

“We will stop you!” hissed St. Stupid.

“Try it,” said Fred and dropped the first payload.


*****


The Daily Prophet for May 9, 1998 featured a large article on the first page detailing the spectacular sunsets that had been witnessed all around England the night before, described by some as if the sky itself were on fire.

The headline of The Daily Prophet for May 10, 1998 was rather different. The whole front page was dedicated to a story on how Fred Weasley had crashed his own funeral, wearing nothing but a top hat and a grin a mile wide and carrying a bottle of champagne. The event had sent his mother into unconsciousness and the wizarding world into a right tizzy.

A later, exclusive interview, told the dramatic tale of a case of battlefield amnesia and mistaken identity – the result of a spell gone devastatingly wrong. It was heartbreaking and utterly heroic, and there wasn’t a witch who read it who emerged with dry eyes.

But the real story, the truth, was only ever known by his family and a few select others. How fire had reigned down in heaven for one long night. How dogged determination and love of family had won out against rules and regulations. How St. Peter, standing there in his singed and smoking robes, had promised Fred his chance for Ascension was gone and would never come again. The next time he died he’d have to take his fifty-fifty chance on heaven or hell – the man had placed special emphasis on the word hell, which led Fred to believe he didn’t like him too well – same as the rest of the mere mortals out there. How Fred had laughed and said he didn’t mind; he’d always liked those odds.

Then there was the part where St. Holds-A-Grudge had conveniently forgotten to mention the detail about retaking human form al la birthday suit. That sly little trick put the score dead even according to Fred’s books. After all, how long could it take a bunch of bored, omnipotent control freaks to put heaven back together after a guerrilla war? Ten minutes? But him restoring his reputation after the See More Fred Show at his own funeral? Could take a lifetime…

Something he was very glad to have again.

And the article on sunsets? Fred secretly held to his dying day that it was the only story The Prophet ever got right.


*****


* Quote from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling, Chapter 31, p 636.

Author’s Note: This has elements of a crossover, but in concept only, and it’s a very loose interpretation at that. The other universe I’ve borrowed from is that of Stargate, SG-1. Neither Harry Potter nor Stargate belong to me.

Special thanks goes out to Melian and Charli for giving this fic trial runs. And as always, a HUGE thanks is owed to theelderwand, the world’s best beta and big brother.

Chapter 85: Last Moments of a Red-Headed Hero
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Last Moments of a Red-Headed Hero
by katebabelovesharrypotter
(Gryffindor)


 

Fred Weasley is one of a kind. It doesn't matter that he's a twin. He and George are completely different. But they were both going to battle today. They were both going to put their lives on the line to defeat Voldemort for good. There were things worth dying for. He had heard somebody say that once and couldn't help but to agree whole-heartedly. He was going into this battle for a reason. He didn't know if we would come out alive, but he knew that if he died life would go on and that he would have had a hand in destroying the most evil wizard their world had ever know.

Fred turned the corner with his wand drawn. There were bangs issuing form all directions, but he had a mission to complete. He had to guard the entrances to secret passageways. And he would complete it to the best of his ability. He caught sight of his older brother, Percy, and rushed towards him uninhibitedly. Percy had been forgiven and he could use some extra help in his difficult task.

“You ready to kick some Death Eater butt?” he asked his brother. Percy pushed his horn-rimmed glasses up his nose and studied Fred for moment before nodding in almost eager manner. There was always more to make up for in Percy's opinion.

“I'm ready to have this all behind us and live a normal life,” Percy replied. He wanted to someday share tea with his brothers and sister and their families. Maybe Fred and he could make a new start of sorts.

“I understand you completely. I'm supposed to be guarding secret passageways, you know,” Fred declared. He laughed to show that he was actually taking his job seriously. Sometimes, the only way to show that you are completely involved in something is to rely on your natural instincts and for Fred that was simply to laugh.

“Oh, well, do you need any help?” Percy's voice was hesitant. Fred, however, smiled hugely. He had needed help and who better than his rule-loving big brother?

“I'd be honored, my dear brother,” he told Percy in a pompous manner that both remembered form the teasing in the Leaky Cauldron nearly five years before. The two men turned around to the passageway they were to guard. And then suddenly they heard a crash from the next hall. It sounded as if people had somehow smashed into a wall. The brothers looked at one another for a split second before racing into the next corridor.

Ron, Harry, Hermione, Draco Malfoy and Gregory Goyle were all collapsed on the ground and covered soot. Ron threw the Slytherin boys an extremely contemptuous look and he, Harry and Hermione joined his brothers. They five walked into a spell-scarred hallway and before anything of much importance could be said, Death Eaters were upon the group, firing heinous hexes.

The two groups parried back and forth, the brothers joking with one another and taunting the evil men. There was an unexpected burst of light and Fred couldn't move quite quickly enough. The beam of sinister light hit him and he collapsed to the ground. His last laugh still echoed in the hallway. It had become eerily quiet for Fred. He couldn't hear or see or feel any longer. It seemed that he had succumbed to death in the name of fighting evil. It was fitting to him as he journeyed into the Afterlife that he had died with a smile on his face.

Chapter 86: Revenge of the Exploding Bridesmaid
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Revenge of the Exploding Bridesmaid
by ronhermione4evr
(Gryffindor)


 

“Oh, no.” Fred and George were looking out of the Burrow’s window at something in the sky.

“Let me guess.” I said as I continued reading Witch Weekly. “Someone set off another Filibuster Firework near our house, and it went and burned up another tree.”

“No, that’s not it.” George had turned away from the window, and I could see his face was slick with sweat. “It’s the Dark Mark.”

“What?!?!” I gasped, leaping off the couch and running towards the window. There was no mistake. That horrible symbol of the Death Eaters was etched clear against the starry night sky. “We have to get to Hogwarts immediately.”

“Correction.” Fred began as he put on his cloak, the right way. Usually he put it on inside out. If he was putting it on like this, then something was seriously wrong. “We have to get to Hogwarts. You are staying here, little sister. It’s too dangerous in there for you.”

“NO! I’m coming!” Before my brothers could Apparate away without me, I threw myself onto George’s foot in an attempt to stop him from leaving and to reconsider.

“Fine.” George sighed and pulled me off of his leg. “But you are staying somewhere safe for the whole battle; do you understand what I am saying?”

“Alright.” I quickly grabbed my coat and held onto Fred’s arm as he Apparated to the Hog’s Head.

“Evening, Aberforth.” George told him. “Is there any sign of a battle?”

Aberforth grunted, which must have meant yes, because the twins suddenly looked solemn.

We clambered through the passage between the Hog’s Head and the Room of Requirement.

And then I saw him, and it took my breath away.

There stood Harry, accompanied by Ron and Hermione. They looked in even worse condition than the people in Dumbledore’s Army, and that was saying something. They each seemed to have multiple burns and cuts all along themselves.

I was angry at Harry, so angry that even Voldemort would’ve begged me for mercy, but when Harry turned around to face me, I melted like butter. I gave him a radiant smile and went to sit down next to Luna.

Harry talked about looking for something called a diadem, but I wasn’t listening. I was content just watching, just knowing that he was safe for once. After all these months of waiting, of hoping, that he was alive, I wasn’t about to take this chance of seeing him for granted.

I was blissfully in peace until Harry said something about Cho taking him to the Ravenclaw Common Room.

“No, Luna will take Harry, won’t you, Luna?” The words slipped out of my mouth rather fiercely.

Luna was glad to, but Harry shot me a weird look. What? I had a right to be jealous, didn’t I?

Everyone else left for battle, and I was alone in the Room of Requirement. Even Luna was with Harry.

Finally, the passage opened again, and Tonks and an old lady came out. The old lady had a bad temper, and I recognized her as Augusta Longbottom. Even she disappeared right away, and then it was just me and Tonks.

Tonks was nervous, obviously struggling with something. Finally, she asked me where Lupin had gone. When I pointed out the direction, she ran upstairs and directly into the heart of the battle.

Bu this time, Harry had returned with Ron and Hermione. He obviously needed something out of this room, so I was glad to leave.

“And then you can come back in. You’ve got to come back in!” Harry called after me.

It nearly broke my heart to hear Harry call after me with such pain, but this was war. There was no time to think about these things when every moment was a fight for survival.

Almost as soon as I stepped into the Great Hall, I was confronted by one of the worst Death Eaters: Bellatrix Lestrange. Her mane of curly black hair was wild and windswept, and her voice was cold and dark. This was one Death Eater I couldn’t mess with.

“Ginny! What are you doing here?” Fred slid over next to me and shielded me from Bellatrix.

“Fred! Go help George!” I looked around wildly and located Percy, Bill, Charlie, and George fighting a large group of Death Eaters on the side.

Fred was torn between two battles. He could help me, or he could try and hold off the Death Eaters that were nearly destroying George.

“Ginny! We’re coming!” Hermione and Luna threw themselves next to me. Fred shot me a look and ran off to assist George.

All this time, Bellatrix was standing eerily silent, watching me argue with my brother. Now a slow smile spread across her face. Before I could react, she threw a jinx at me. If Hermione had blocked it with a shield charm, I probably would have been jinxed into a jelly.

Bellatrix was not in the mood for playing games. She growled at Hermione and chose a new target :me.

“Come back here, you pathetic girl.” She called to me in a sing-song voice. “I’m not finished with you!”

Oh, no. I ran towards the side, as far away from her as I could go, when I suddenly realized that I was being a coward. My friends and family were fighting, they were dying around me, and all I was doing was running away. Like a coward.

I walked back to Bellatrix, my heart firmly set on my new girl.

“Back for more?”

“I’m not leaving my friends here to fight you alone.”

And with that, I threw the vilest, the most vicious spells I knew at her. The bat-bogey, the Jelly-leg Jinx, and the Stinging Hex all found their way towards her. She was quick, but not quick enough.

And then my Mother came running towards her with murder in her eyes.

“Mum?” I asked softly, speechless for a second. Was this the same loving mother who baked me cookies and covered my cuts with band-aids?

I had absolutely no idea what was going on, but near the staircase, I could see a large pile of dead bodies. And my family was sitting around one.

I ran towards them completely oblivious of the curses zooming over my head. When I got close, I could see the certain body that I was so scared to look at.

It was Fred’s.

I recoiled. No, my brother could not be dead. He was so full of life, it was impossible for him to be dead.

Then reality struck me. Percy was crying, Fleur weeping into Bill’s shoulder, Ron and Hermione watching Fred with open mouths and wide eyes. This was real. Fred was really dead.

As soon as Fleur noticed me, she hurriedly dried her eyes.

“Are you sick? You ‘ook pale.” Fleur fussed over me, insisting I had a cold. I was too tired to argue, even when she forced a spoon of Pepperup potion down my throat.

“What a nice treat. A whole family, sitting around idle. Well this should be tasty.” A cold, silky voice interrupted our sorrow, and I looked up to see Fenrir Greyback standing right next to Fred. Hermione shrieked at the sight of him, and Ron shielded her from the werewolf.

Steam poured from my ears as the Pepperup potion took action. I immediately felt stronger, and stood up to face the Death Eater.

“GET AWAY FROM MY BROTHER!” I screamed at him, blasting him backwards with a well-aimed hex.

I couldn’t take this anymore. I collapsed, crying and burrowed my head into my hands. Fleur held me close, let me weep into her shoulder.

“Fred….” I began.

“Shhhh….” Fleur hushed me, as gentle as a mother would. “You’ve done enough, my exploding bridesmaid.” Her French accent seemed to disappear in these horrible conditions.

Her exploding bridesmaid. Steam was still spouting out of my ears, probably giving the impression that I was exploding.

“What do we do now?” I asked Fleur softly. “What else can we do?”

Fleur looked solemn. “We’re just going to have to grit our teeth and go on. We’ll keep fighting.”

I nodded and dried my eyes on my sleeve. I picked up my wand and followed my family into battle.

It was time for the revenge of the exploding bridesmaid.



A/N: Quotes recognized are from page 471 and 502 of the British copy.



Chapter 87: The Longest Walk
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The Longest Walk
by Melian
(Gryffindor)



Rubeus Hagrid had more energy than he knew what to do with. Not content with rushing around the castle, Fang following closely behind, roaring encouragement at everyone he saw battling against the Death Eaters, he now felt the need to hurry outside and try to convince the Acromantulas to switch sides. Obviously they were mistaken, he thought, because Aragog would never have gone against Hagrid like that and fought for the other side. If he could find their leader, he thought, he'd be able to persuade them to fight for good over evil.

"Hi, Grawpy!" he yelled, waving at his half-brother over the chaos. Grawp turned around and they caught each other's eyes for just a moment before Hagrid turned away and headed back towards the forest, searching the swarming giant spiders for a face that he recognised.

There he is, Hagrid thought, finally spotting a familiar face in the darkness. Aragog's eldest son was sure to listen to reason. Fighting his way through the herd, he tried to corner the giant beast.

"What're ye doing?" he asked. "Fightin' with the Death Eaters? Yer dad would never have agreed to that!"

"Our father is dead and his wishes no longer apply," the Acromantula said coldly. "We have been promised freedom and fresh meat. You cannot provide the same incentives."

"Ye're mad," Hagrid protested, aghast.

"We need to eat," the spider went on as though Hagrid hadn't spoken. "And the castle is full of fresh, warm meat. If you will not support us, I will have to make you the first course." His eight beady eyes stared Hagrid down and his pincers clicked together threateningly. Taking the hint, Hagrid backed away slowly, not wanting to antagonise this magnificent creature any longer.

Unfortunately, on his retreat, he backed into one of Aragog's other children, and one not so accepting of him. Turning just in time to see the beast's glee as he felt enormous pincers clamping around his leg, Hagrid collapsed and fell to the ground, unconscious.

When he awoke, he found himself not only upright (though his leg was numb), but tied to a tree in a clearing in the forest. Squinting a little until his eyes began to focus again, he soon realised that he was a prisoner of the Death Eaters, and when he heard the voice of Lord Voldemort himself his heart sank. No matter what else happened tonight, he thought, there was no way that he would get out of it alive.

The feeling was starting to come back to his leg and he wondered how long he had been tied there, and how he had managed to get to the clearing at all. Probably he had been levitated and pushed, he thought, noticing that there seemed to be some scratches and gashes on the exposed skin of his hands and arms, and that even though his vision was returning he was still having trouble seeing out of his left eye. Whoever had got him here hadn't been worried about injuring him on the way, he thought ruefully, and could quite possibly have used his unconscious form as practice for some curses and hexes. The thought did not fill him with confidence.

He-who-must-not-be-named was standing by the fire in the middle of the clearing, wondering where Harry was. From his position in the darkness, Hagrid allowed himself to smile. Harry would never give himself up, he thought proudly. Harry would lead the fight and somehow he would manage to win it. Harry would always come up trumps.

He was still feeling smug in this knowledge when Harry himself appeared in the clearing, pulling his Invisibility Cloak off and facing his adversary. He was clearly nervous, almost frightened, but he was there, and when he spoke he offered his own life in return for the lives of those in the castle. For the second time in a few minutes, Hagrid's heart sank yet again. He yelled to Harry not to do it, not to sacrifice himself, that there had to be another way, but he was silenced almost immediately by one of the Death Eaters' wands. There was absolutely nothing he could do to help Harry, to save him, to prevent what now seemed inevitable.

Hagrid couldn't watch as Harry stood to face Voldemort, and as he heard that cold high voice start speaking the curse he closed his eyes so he wouldn't see the event itself. The sound of a body crumpling to the forest floor was enough to prove that the Dark Lord had been successful, that he had finally managed to overcome the face of the fight against him. Harry, Hagrid knew, was gone.

"You," he heard Voldemort say. "Examine him. Tell me whether he is dead."

Opening his eyes just a crack, he saw Lucius Malfoy's wife leaning over Harry's body, her hand beneath the clothing on his chest. She leaned in very close to him as she checked all vital signs, then finally she raised her head and looked at her master, confirming the horrible truth, that Harry's life had indeed ended.

Hagrid couldn't stop the tears falling down his cheeks. It seemed nothing could be worse than this – as long as Harry had lived, there had been hope. Now he would be mourning not only his friend but the future of the wizarding world. There was no way the Order could win now, he thought. With Harry gone, the heart of the Order was defeated, and he was sure that they would give up the fight. Voldemort had won, and he had witnessed the moment of victory.

He-who-must-not-be-named, however, hadn't finished. Not content with merely murdering his adversary, he now saw fit to torture the body. Hagrid heard the Unforgivable Curses being cast but again he couldn't bring himself to watch – the spectacle of what was left of Harry being flung around and tortured like he was a piece of meat was too much. Again and again Hagrid heard the thud of Harry's body landing on the soft earth, and once he heard the shatter of glass as his spectacles were destroyed. It was not enough to defeat Harry, he now saw; the victory had to be complete and unequivocal.

Finally, the torture – both of Harry's body and of Hagrid's soul – ended, and Harry was allowed to rest on the ground, his body a jumble of limbs jutting out at all sorts of angles. The sight set Hagrid's tears off yet again … at the very least, couldn't Harry have just a little dignity? Of course not, he realised belatedly. This was Voldemort, after all. Mercy was not even in his vocabulary.

Hagrid was vaguely aware of orders being barked out about dragging Harry's battered body back to the castle, so that those defending it could see proof of his demise, and was startled into paying more attention when he realised that Voldemort was pointing right at him.

"You carry him," the high cold voice said nastily. "He will be nice and visible in your arms, will he not?" Someone freed him from his binds and he was led forward, still sobbing at the sight of Harry, lying motionless on the ground.

Harry was picked up clumsily and dumped into Hagrid's waiting arms, the broken glasses forced violently onto his face. He was still warm, Hagrid realised, and so light! Fang could well weigh more. But he wasn't moving, wasn't breathing, and would never do so again. The war was over, Hagrid thought bitterly, struggling to see through his tears, and he was carrying the proof.

Even though they weren't particularly far into the forest, especially by Hagrid's standards, the walk back to the castle was the longest he had ever taken. Just putting one foot in front of the other was a feat of endurance, of mind over matter, as he forced himself to go on, to show those at Hogwarts that all hope was indeed lost, though he had to admit that the wand in his back, whoever it belonged to, was also a motivating factor.

Halfway back they encountered the centaurs. Hagrid glared at them, resenting their decision not to join in the fight, and he couldn't resist confronting them with Harry's body. Who knows, he reasoned, if they had chosen to join in then maybe this wouldn't have happened. Maybe there would still be hope. Maybe, just maybe, the world wouldn't end tonight.

Finally, after what felt like forever, they reached the edge of the forest and found themselves on the lawn in front of the castle. Voldemort spoke and again, his voice echoed all around like it was inside their heads, as he addressed the gathered throng.

"Harry Potter is dead," he said, gesturing towards Hagrid as proof of his statement. "He was killed as he ran away, trying to save himself while you lay down your lives for him."

Hagrid, even through his tears, bristled at the lie. How dare Voldemort defame Harry like that? Everyone who knew him KNEW that he would never try to save himself over everyone else, but scandalous tales like this one were fodder for gullible ears. He shuddered at the thought of Rita Skeeter getting wind of it.

The reaction of the crowd to the news of Harry's demise was both predictable and heart-wrenching. Still crying himself, Hagrid registered the cries of "No" and the general air of disbelief that accompanied it. However, he was heartened by the reaction of none other than Neville Longbottom, who stood forward to raise the standard for those in his wake. Neville would not accept defeat, even with the death of Harry Potter, Hagrid suddenly realised. Neville, like his parents, believed that the best way to go was to go fighting.

Neville Longbottom had hope. And, just briefly, as his tears started miraculously to dry up, Hagrid put Harry down gently on the ground near his feet and clenched his own fists.

Maybe, he thought, I can find hope too.


Text in bold is from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, pp 581-3, UK paperback edition.

Thanks to blueirony for her beta work on this one-shot.


Chapter 88: Retribution
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Retribution
by Melian
(Gryffindor)






Bill Weasley stopped and wiped his brow. An anonymous Death Eater lay at his feet, Stunned and then paralysed by a full body bind, and Bill breathed out deeply as he kicked the prone figure towards the wall. Someone else could deal with that later, he thought. He had more fighting to do.

Of course, it wasn't like he hadn't done his share of fighting already. He had arrived at the castle early, almost as soon as word had gone out that Harry had arrived and would lead the charge, and he had been on the front line when the first wave of Death Eaters had arrived at the castle. He had killed few but Stunned many, and while he liked the idea of keeping a tally of his conquests the battle was just going too fast to stop and take stock. At least ten, he thought with some satisfaction, sticking his wand behind his ear as he pushed past another duelling pair.

Not far away he spied his wife, duelling as well, her wand moving thick and fast in battle with yet another black-clad anonymous figure. Bill would have been happier if their adversaries had taken their masks off, as he preferred knowing who he was up against. However, he realised, a Death Eater is a Death Eater and they had all been trained to kill. From that perspective, it didn't matter who they were, just what – and who – they represented.

It was true, he realised, that for every Death Eater who went down, it felt like a small victory over Volemort himself. How much that mattered in the long run, though, remained to be seen.

On his left he saw Fleur dispatch her opponent with skill and breathed out again. He hadn't realised he was holding his breath as she fought but he was happy to admit his relief that she had survived that particular encounter. Pushing his way through the chaos, he wrapped his arms around her.

"How many now?" he asked.

"Five," she said, a broad smile across her face as she revelled in the adrenaline the battle was providing. "And eet ees so tiring!!" She pulled a hand back and wiped her own brow, pushing a strand of hair behind her ear as she did so. "Zere ees still work to do, though, Bill," she went on. "Zere are more of zem coming."

Turning to look where she was pointing, Bill felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on edge. Right in the middle of the oncoming group of Death Eaters, his mask already off his face, was Fenrir Greyback. He was licking his lips as he surveyed the crowd, no doubt anticipating the feast that potentially awaited him.

"Over my dead body is that thing coming in here," Bill said viciously, his hand unconsciously going to his own face where the scars from his battle with Greyback a year before could still be seen. "Not with all those kids around."

"Bill! Be careful!" he heard Fleur say desperately, but he ignored her. She was smart and brave and would be able to look after herself, he thought, and likewise he could fight his own battles. This was one of them; this was something that he needed to do.

"Greyback," he hissed as soon as he got close enough to the foul creature. "Get the hell out of here. You're not wanted."

"Oh, I think I'm wanted," the werewolf said, his voice slimy and repulsive. "All this fresh meat? You couldn't keep me away."

Fury engulfing him, Bill hurled a Blasting Curse at Greyback, only to have it miss and blow up a statue by the main doors.

The werewolf laughed. "Is that the best you can do? Then again, by the look of you, you've come off second best to me before …"

The thing didn't even remember him. Bill's rage grew in intensity and for the first time in his life he considered the use of an Unforgiveable. Against Greyback, he thought, it would be acceptable.

"Crucio!" he cried, aiming at the fast-moving werewolf, but again he missed and the spell hit the floor behind him. Frustrated, he tried again. "Incendio!"

This time the charm hit its target and Greyback's robes caught on fire. The creature doused them quickly and extinguished them, but in doing so lost valuable seconds in which Bill could attack again. "Stupefy!" He wanted to use something harsher but the area around them was so chaotic, with so many different things happening at once, that he didn't want to risk missing Greyback and hitting one of the students instead.

The Stunning spell worked, and the werewolf fell backwards onto the stone floor. Satisfied, Bill kicked him a few times and tried to push the body out of the way so that those still fighting had some more room. Unfortunately, though, he hadn't taken into account the fact that Stunners didn't work so well on part-humans, and the werewolf part of his victim, which had been allowed to engulf and consume the human side, was far more resilient than most people were. On being kicked, he woke up.

Bill wasn't expecting to be grabbed around the calf and the attack, when it came, took him completely off guard. Falling heavily to the ground, he lost hold of his wand and could do nothing but try to defend himself physically as the werewolf first stood up, then kicked him mercilessly.

"Best you could do, was it?" he snarled, pointedly having his foot make contact with Bill's year-old scars from the last time they'd fought. "Guess you'll think twice before taking me on again. But I'm hungry now, and you don't look too tender."

Reaching around for his wand, Bill could only watch as Greyback laughed and re-joined the battle, making a beeline for a vulnerable-looking girl who looked about Ron's age. It was nowhere near a full moon but he was clearly planning to maul her, and Bill was left ruing his crucial loss of concentration. Picking himself (and his wand) up, he started to push through the crowds to the girl, who was very obviously out of her depth in this particular battle and would very likely be killed at any moment.

Before he could get near enough to help out, though, Greyback was suddenly thrown off his feet and hurled to the wall behind, and Bill looked around to see Hermione Granger glaring at the werewolf, her wand outstretched and raw fury on her face. Clearly she had blasted him off this unknown girl, who was now sitting up, looking pale and confused. Satisfied that she was safe, Bill started to head towards the werewolf again, intent on ending this destruction for good.

Again, though, he was thwarted, unable to finish the job due to someone else getting in first. This time it was Professor Trelawney, of all people, who was leaning over the balustrade above and dropping crystal balls on those Death Eaters in range. Greyback, already barely conscious from being slammed into the stone wall like that, was one of the first beneficiaries of this action and, after one landed neatly on his head, he dropped further down the wall and moved no more.

Bill swore loudly, though it was unlikely that anyone would have heard him over the din. While he was happy that Greyback had been stopped, and stopped permanently, part of him was disappointed that he hadn't been the one to do it.

"Never mind, Bill," came a throaty voice at his ear, and he turned gratefully to see his wife standing next to him. "What eez more eemportant, you being ze one to defeat 'im or 'im being defeated at all?"

"Him being defeated," Bill admitted, allowing himself to calm down at her words. He turned to her. "But how have you been? Are you okay?"

He had to admit, she had looked better, but she flashed him a brilliant smile and nodded. "Some cuts and bruises, oui, but nothing zat cannot be fixed," she said. "And I 'ave fought well. My father would be proud."

"I'm proud," he told her, thankful that she at least was still all right. "Though there's work to be done yet. Can you manage?"

She nodded, turning them both around so their backs were to the motionless form of Greyback against the wall. That was behind them now, and they had new challenges to face in this battle. "I can manage," she reassured him, her wand out at the ready. "After all, zere ees still a war to win."


Thanks to CessZ for her beta work on this one-shot.



Chapter 89: Revenge Is Sweet
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Revenge Is Sweet
by alicia and anne
(Slytherin)






Her back was to me, her hair wild from the fight and the craziness that was inside her. It was a coward's way to kill her I know but I just wanted her dead. I tightened my grip on my wand as I pushed through the crowd in front of me. I needed better aim; I needed to make sure she had no chance to escape from me.

"Not my daughter!" I heard Mrs Weasleys voice and turned my head to see her rushing forward and engaging her in a fight, spinning around frantically in their rush to attack the other.

NO! No. Mrs Weasley no! Why was she taking this moment from me?

I stopped stunned as Mrs Weasley sent the fatal spell at Bellatrix. She couldn't have done that! I was meant to kill her; I was the one out for revenge. My whole life I could only think about making that death eater pay for what she had done to my parents, how she had ripped my childhood apart before it had a chance to star, left me practically parentless.

Mrs Weasley was staring down at the body of Bellatrix a pleased look on her face, she had protected her family. But she didn't know, she didn't know that Voldemort would have destroyed her for killing his best servant. I knew the risk that killing her would have; I had already prepared myself for having Voldemort kill me. It was a risk I was willing to take. I stared back down at Bellatrix, her eyes were open wide. I hope she felt pain, I hope she suffered; I hope she had regretted everything she had done.

Somewhere near me I heard Voldemort roar in rage before shouting a spell at Mrs Weasley.

"Harry!"

"He's alive!"

I looked up in my shock to see that Harry had appeared from under his cloak his wand pointed at Voldemort he had protected Mrs Weasley who was looking at Harry in surprise. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders at seeing that he was alive, hope filled me, Harry was here to fight Voldemort, leaving us to everyone else. I turned away from the fight and searched through the crowd for a sign of any death eaters, if I couldn't take down her I would search for anyone I could find and destroy them. I knew it wouldn't be long until I found one; after all I had enraged so many of them by standing up for good that many had put a price on my head. I didn't care though, I had promised myself that I would take out as many death eaters as possible, in case Harry failed and it was up to all of us to defeat them and Voldemort.

I saw my first victim, Rodolphus Lestrange. He was looking over at his wife's lifeless body, a look of devastation in his eyes and I saw that he was clutching his chest as though it pained him. But I didn't care; I felt no pity for him. Finally he knew what pain felt like and I was going to make him hurt a lot more. He looked up at me as I approached him my wand raised in front of me, I saw him look at me, and then my wand a mocking smile filled his face, one that didn't meet his eyes.

"Longbottom....oh this is going to be fun" he tightened his grip on his wand "as much fun as when I tortured your parents"

The only thing I felt now was pure anger. He was going down.


Bolded text taken from page 589 of the UK version of Deathly Hallows hardback adult edition.



Chapter 90: Tea Cozies
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Tea Cozies
by GinnyCullen
(Gryffindor)




“Winky does not want to fight,” The bulbous eyed house elf said sheepishly.

“Winky, we’s got to fight, we got to protect Hogwarts!” Cried another elf, Mobbsi, who had helped Winky after her beloved best friend Dobby died earlier that year.

“Winky, does not want to fight,” Winky repeated, then looked at the floor like she had done something awful.

“Do it for Dobby, Winky, Dobby would want Winky to fight with Harry Potter, Dobby would fight with Harry Potter if Miss Bellatrix had not killed Dobby, Mobbsi is be fighting Winky,” Said Winky’s new best friend.

Mobbsi had been Bellatrix Lestrange’s house elf before Luna Lovegood tricked Bellatrix into freeing her. She, Mobbsi, was a spunky elf who always did as she was told until being set free. She had smaller eyes than most house elves, and larger ears. Mobbsi now worked in the kitchens with Winky who was constantly crying about her old Master Barty Crouch.

“Winky will think about it, Mobbsi must go with the other elves and protect the school, Mobbsi please go, Winky will be fine, you see,” The tomato nosed elf said with a disgruntled look.

Mobbsi and the other elves left then, and Winky was left to think on her stool by the fireplace about whether she wanted to join the battle or not.

“Winky loves Dobby, Winky does not want Mister Harry Potter to think ill of Winky, but Winky does not want to join Dobby yet.” The sad house elf thought aloud as she sat there with a fresh butterbeer in her tiny hand. She took a big sip and started to cry.

“Winky knows what she must do, but Winky is afraid of what might happen,” pondering aloud led to a little voice popping in her head ‘Winky, you’s must fight with Harry Potter, Harry Potter will defeat the Dark Lord Dobby know’s it. Winky you must believe Dobby,” Winky thought she was going mad for hearing Dobby in her head.

That was the entire boost she needed, she jumped off the stool and ran for the door, yelling “Winky is going to help Harry Potter and avenge her best friend, Dobby.”

She pushed open the painting that covered the kitchens and stepped into the battle that was commencing in the castle. Then turned around and ran back into the kitchens not out of fear but out of forgetfulness, she ran to her cubby and got dobby’s tea cozy and wedged it on her head. She turned around and ran back into the castle.

She ran till she found a man in black robes, death eater’s robes, she cursed him with her special house elf magic. He turned and looked at Winky then. That is when she realized who she had just cursed. His blond hair falling into his eyes, his eyes flickered with anger and fear at the sight of her.

“You stupid little house elf you dare attack me, Lucius Malfoy?” The blond man spat at her.

“Yes, Winky dares, Winky wishes to avenge Dobby, even if that means killing Dobby’s old master.” Winky said bravely.

“Filthy elf you can’t kill me!” Lucius said with all confidence. Winky looked at him and laughed she was too angry with him for being mean to Dobby.

“Winky will kill Lucius!” She said again cursing him making him bleed.

“No one hurts, Winky, Mobbsi will not let it happen!” Mobbsi yelled at him with such furry Malfoy Sr. fell on his rump.

“Don’t you dare hurt my father!” Draco Malfoy yelled at the elves. He cursed them both sending them flying into the wall behind them.

“Winky and Mobbsi will not let Malfoy’s treat them this way,” the both of them cursed them and kept at it till they were laying there on the ground begging for the elves to stop. When they finally stopped the Malfoy’s were unconscious not dead but not aware.

The two little house elves walked off into the Great Hall hand in hand.

“Nice tea cozy Winky, was it Dobby’s?” Mobbsi asked her friend. Who smiled grandly and nodded.



Beta'd by PrincessPadfoot.



Chapter 91: A Sip of Blood to Quench the Thirst
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A Sip of Blood to Quench the Thirst
by Marzipan
(Hufflepuff)


The night was cool and dry, and the scent of blood was ripe in the still air. The echoes of the hordes of masked wizards moving across the countryside vibrated through the ground like mini earthquakes, the shockwaves rattling her bones. So much fresh meat so readily at hand, and she was so hungry. Yet she restrained, knowing He would be displeased if she were to kill one of His toys again. Besides, He had promised she would feed well soon enough.

She wound her way through the high grass, her smooth underside sliding without friction against the green surface. Winding in and out of the scores of booted feet, she allowed the weight of her coils to brush against as many as she could, accepting the resulting spikes of fear as no more than her due. After all, she was by far the most deadly creature present.

Rising up as bit to test the air with her tongue, she moved her head from one side to the other until she located His reassuring presence nearby. Changing direction, she abandoned her game and made her way directly to His side.

It is almost time, my pet,” He hissed, extending a hand and stroking her head as she wound her way up His body until she finally settled her coils on His shoulders like a mantle. He turned to one of His servants and she turned her mind to her next meal, fast approaching.

She hissed venomously upon suddenly finding herself suspended in mid air, thrashing in an attempt to find something solid to rest her bulk on. She was soon thwarted by an explosion of blue in the air surrounding her, shooting burning prickles through her wherever her body came in contact with it – she was trapped. He laughed at the furious hiss that escaped her and began to walk away, allowing her to bob along in His wake. Defeated, she curled into a ball and allowed Him to drag her into the dilapidated building.

“My lord.” The unintelligible greeting came from the far shadows, yet her eyes were easily able to pierce the darkness to make out the man hidden there. The man stepped forward into the lighted center of the room and carried on with the same guttural sounds all of His kind made. Although she could not catch his scent through the pulsing blue light she was entombed in, she nonetheless recognized the man as one she had been specifically forbidden.

The conversation changed suddenly. Although she could not understand their words, she recognized the sharp sound of fear as it entered the dark man’s voice. She tensed her muscles, readying herself for whatever might be coming. The voices rose, shouting – pleading, she supposed – before He ended it with a soft whisper.

It’s time; feed my pet.”

She was propelled forwards, bubble and all. The man backed away, but there was nowhere to escape to, and then she was on him. The line of blue met with his body and gave way, as it had not when she had attempted the same. She could smell the fear now, rolling off of him in waves. Fear and something else, something she didn’t recognize. It didn’t matter; she struck, razor sharp fangs piercing the exposed flesh of the man’s neck. He screamed as she continued her attack, losing herself in the moment until she felt herself being pulled away.

Enough. We have work to do.”

The body fell to the floor, and she watched it longingly. The hunger roared within her still, barely slaked. But He had spoken, and she could not disobey. It would have to do, for now. She curled herself into a restful ball once more, already dreaming of when she would feed again.

Chapter 92: The Choice
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The Choice
by Eternalangelkiss
(Hufflepuff)





Cho Chang hesitated on the threshold of the Room of Requirement, scanning the ancient corridors in front of her. It had only been a year since she had left Hogwarts, but everything seemed different. The air was sharper and filled with ominous foreboding. Cho pressed her wand at her side as she marched out of the doorway. No one had really expected her to come back. She was no Auror and she didn't go to school here anymore, but, in her heart, there was no avoiding this battle. This had been her home for seven years. The corridors still held an echo of fading memories, the happy times and the troubling ones. Hogwarts was a part of her and she knew that if her home was threatened, she couldn't ignore that plight.

As Cho walked down the halls, she noticed that fear was cavorting carelessly amongst the young students faces as they shuffled towards the Room of Requirement. A twinge of pity struck her heart. No first year should have their experience at Hogwarts marked like this. They should be laughing and making foolish mistakes, but they shouldn't have to fear danger and death. This was not what was supposed to happen here.

As she strode towards the Great Hall, everything around her seemed to have faded a little bit. She remembered the halls had had more cheer in them when she had been at Hogwarts. She remembered the tapestries stood out brighter and the cackling fires in the wall brackets used to fill the halls with merry light. Where was the laughter? Where was the animated conversations? None of it seemed to exist anymore at Hogwarts. He-who-must-not-be-named had snuffed out that joy, along with many other things in the world. Cho felt an anger rising in her over the injustice.

She had heard rumors about some of the happenings at Hogwarts. She had heard of the nightmarish Carrows and their infamous detentions, but like everything else she had heard, she thought it had been slightly exaggerated. Cho had found it hard to believe that Hogwarts would have been violated so horribly without anyone stepping in to stop it. But seeing the terrified looks in the face of the first years that walked by her, Cho could see that it was no exaggeration. Hogwarts had been the home for tyranny over the past year and it was something that sent a shot of pain through her heart.

As Cho neared the Great Hall, she was suddenly a little apprehensive. Who would she see when she entered? She thought of the DA members and how she had not left the best impression on them with the Marietta incident. At the time, she had been right to defend her friend and she still didn't see any wrong in that act, but she should have never brought Marietta into the DA in the first place. She had only wanted to join because of Harry.

Harry.

Cho wondered when she was going to get to thinking about him. It had been hard not to think about him in this long year. He had been the talk of the news for quite awhile. Where was Harry? Did he have a hand in the death of Albus Dumbledore? Was he the “Chosen One“ and if so, why wasn‘t he active in the war?

Harry had been on everyone’s mind as of late. Cho argued that this was a legitimate reason as to why she constantly thought about him, but a small part of her knew that this was not the only reason. Harry was one that she had lost. She had no delusions on ever getting back with him, nor would she have wanted to. So much had changed inside her since her sixth year that at times she was a stranger to herself. The last three years had been far from easy for her, but then, they hadn’t really been easy for anyone, especially not Harry. It was dark times that they lived in. As she thought of all this, her mind flitted back to another boy that had been lost so long ago.

Cho winced as an old wound began to throb again. It had taken a long time to heal from what had happened to Cedric Diggory. His face and his name had haunted her at nights when her nightmares had become a common occurrence. It was hard even now to think of him without remembering the ghost of the pain she had gone through.

No one had really known how terrible that pain had been. Every time she had closed her eyes, she saw the graveyard Cedric had been murdered in. In her dreams, it was always barren and pockmarked with cold, marble headstones and black, twisted trees. The sky was always a bruised colored bleakness, threatening a terrible storm to come and the air was a bitter cold. A sticky fog covered the cracked ground below, except around the boy who lay dead on it. Where ever he lay, the ground was clear and open, and he always looked the same. His limbs were horribly contorted and his once brilliant, blue eyes dull and lackluster. But it was his face that had made her want to scream in fright. Sometimes it was gray and sunken in and others nothing more than a white skull, but every time she saw his face, she would scream out in horror and then she would wake up.

People had told her that it was normal to have such horrific nightmares considering what had happened. Other said that it would fade in time and Cho knew that that was partly true, but it still didn’t stop her from hating the long year she had spent fearing her own mind and dreams.

Had she loved Cedric Diggory? She didn’t fully know and she hadn’t known then either. He had been the first boy that had taken her breath away and the first that had made her heart throb in her chest. He had been the first one that she had considered the possibility of a future with. And that was what had been the killing blow to her. She would never know what could have been. He had been snatched away from her and their possibilities had shriveled up and died.

Even now as she walked past the streaming first years, phantoms of Cedric’s face lingered in the shadows around her. Every where she looked, she saw vestiges of him. Cedric was gone forever, his life and all that could have been of his life had been snuffed out. And now Harry was more than likely not going to live through the night, snuffed out too early like Cedric.

Had she loved Harry? She supposed she could have if she had met him another time or maybe in another life. At the time that they had been together, Cho had been an emotional wreck. Harry had been the only one that she truly felt she could reach out to because he had been the only one she thought would understand. That time in her life had been confusing and one where she was least like herself. She grieved for Cedric, but clung to Harry. She wanted to be with the boy-who-lived, but still saw Cedric in her nightmares. She wasn’t sure if she had wanted to be with Harry because she truly wanted to be with him or if she wanted someone to hold her hand and walk her through her pain.

It was hard even now for Cho to sort through the mess of emotions she had been just a few years before. Her rational mind told her she had been wrong to have tried to be with Harry when she was as distraught as she had been. If they met in the hallway now, she would understand if he said nothing to her at all. Their lives had diverged a long time ago. But it was not for Harry or Cedric that she was here.

She was here for all the lost ones whose lives had been destroyed by he-who-must-not-be-named. How many youth would lay cold and lifeless before the dawn? How many families would have to bear with that anguish and loss? And for what? For misguided ideals? For one person’s skewed view of the truth? Cho had never been one for violence. She had always believed that logic and rational thinking could solve most of the problems of the world, but how can rational thought combat irrational ideologies that bred a hydra of hatred and fear? No matter how many times you tried to cut off one head with reason, two more would sprout out.

As Cho strode into the Great Hall, her eyes taking in some familiar faces and plenty of unfamiliar ones, she knew that she was here because she choose to be. She may not have always made the right choices or good ones in her life, but there was no doubt in her mind that this choice was the right one. Her way of life and the world of magic was at stake and everyone must make the decision of whether or not they would stand by and let the Death Eaters win or if they would stand their ground. She knew that many, including herself, may not live through the night and it was a risk she was more than willing to take.

Cho spotted Terry Boot as he organized a group of Ravenclaws that had decided to stay. Steeling herself, she strode over to her fellow Ravenclaw, ready for whatever awaited her tonight. As she did so, she felt all her anxiety and fear wash away and a peace settled over her. It had been a long time since she had felt those feelings and she knew that this was were she was destined to be. Cho Chang smiled.



Chapter 93: Shifting Perspective
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Shifting Perspective
By CornishPixie
(Hufflepuff)




He didn't like the scary, raspy voice that seemed to speak from somewhere as close as right beside him. And he didn't like all the rumbling, shaking, and flashing that was going on in the distance, either. Different coloured jets of light burst into the parts of the dark sky that he could see through the treetops, and the earth shook so constantly that it felt like he would never be still again.

But the worst part was the screaming.

He was pretty sure he'd be able to make out some strange words if he concentrated hard enough, but he didn't want to hear any more than he had to. The loudest sounds were the worst; screams so piercing you knew it was made of their last breath.

He'd been out of the loop ever since he'd gone into hiding, but he didn't need anyone telling him that something horrible was going on now. Something drastic and deadly was happening, and that school building just outside the forest was the middle of it.

He wished he knew why it was the middle of it.

In any case, he was frightened into inaction by the noise. All curiosity dimmed, and he was so intent on not taking part that he was busy wishing that the noises wouldn't come any closer to his bit of the woods. So he nestled into place and waited...and waited. This was no small matter, whatever it was.

It lasted for hours, and he could feel the change of things.

Creatures from the forest were venturing out to join. It was becoming desperate. Some force in the forest was demanding help. Well, one thing was for sure. He would not be made to help. He would not be made to do anything. Not anymore.

A horrible idea came to him, and worry piggy-backed the fear. This must be the work of the one with no name. Darkness whispered rumours and tales about him, and a spirit rumoured to be his had once hunted amongst these very trees for Unicorns. The unnamed creature was no more a man than a bowtruckle was, his life had been cursed into something unrecognizable. If all this was his work he didn't even want to think about it.

That's when it happened.

Silent breathing and steady, crunching footsteps: someone uninvited was in his part of the forest.

Hidden still among the dark green leaves and cloaked in meagre moonlight rendered him mostly invisible.

Waiting, he watched and realized that he needn't have worried. The approaching male was distracted. Tall, with dark, messy hair, the man was alone and talking to himself.

Wait a second...something wasn't right.

He squinted and leaned forward with a groan and a creak. To the man it would just sound as if the wind was whipping eerily through the branches of trees, but—wait, he knew this man. It had been a few years since he'd last seen him, but the glasses and naturally unkempt hair were unmistakable. If only he could light up the forest for a moment, he was sure he'd note a lightning-shaped scar on the boy's head.

And here he was now, in the Forbidden Forest for some unknown reason, and seemed to be walking towards the place he thought the dark force was hiding.

“You'll stay with me?” He heard the boy speak, and tried to figure out who he was talking to. The boy was looking towards something specific, but there was nothing there. His next couple of lines went unheard as an overwhelming urge to follow the boy overtook him. It wasn't as if there was much else to do that night other than hide anyways.

Even if there was some sort of fight going on, no one would be concerned about him.

Movement was slow and careful. Branches snapped and scrapes were heard as he barely squeezed between two trees at some points in order to make sure he could still see the boy. The noises would go unnoticed, even the dark ones were preoccupied with something else.

A few minutes later the boy stopped to throw something over his shoulders—the poor lad must have been cold—and when he disappeared completely from view there was no one to follow. It was probably for the better, though, because he could sense the presence of spells close by. It seemed like someone had set out some sort of perimeter.

Heavy breathing and loud crunching of the underbrush sounded behind him, and he stayed still as he could as the figure with the hood of their dark cloak over their head stalked by. Two more followed not long after that, one being half-carried along by the other. Metal. There was something metallic about them.

They'd been injured.

This was definitely not some sort of celebration.

An unusual wave of worry overtook him. That boy had just gone to a place where he shouldn't have. He had been talking to nothing and he'd just put his own life in danger and—the fighting must have made him crazy. That was the only way any of it made sense.

If he were a more active and heroic thing, he would have gone in there to save the poor chap.

What had his name been?

They had flown together, there had been that red haired mate of his who had called him...Harry! That was it!

Harry needed saving.

Ford only thought these things as he waited in his place. Wishing he were different wasn't enough. Especially when a morbidly excited procession appeared out of the thick trees and marched towards the castle at the edge of the forest.

Sobs unexpectedly sounded over the silence. A troll or giant-like creature was yowling and seemed to be carrying something in his arms. It was small, comparatively, and had dark, messy hair and--

No.

Not crazy Harry!

Many weird things had happened to him that had never happened to those like him, but this was by far the most tragic. He'd known little Harry way back and now...now...

A horrible voice filled the air once more, and Ford only got angrier at what it had to say. No. That couldn't be true. This boy hadn't been trying to run away, not when the evil in the forest surrounding them had been so palpable. It was something else and he could hardly stand it.

But everyone besides the creature carrying Harry's limp body looked as if they were all jumping around.

He wasn't sure what it was that finally spilled over in him. It must have been that he'd know the boy. That he'd helped the boy another time even after the first time they'd met and he knew that there wasn't one evil bone in this boy's body. It was unfair that he was dead, it was undeserved, and all these people had the gall to celebrate it?

He felt like running them over.

Ready to attack, he forced himself to wait until the group of them had stopped moving before he did his worst. He crept along behind them instead, growling lowly to himself and fuming. A straggler jogged from the clearing behind and was trying to catch up to the others. Unfortunately, the jogger's path took him almost right alongside the undercover creature.

Ford was unable to resist, and at just the right moment he swung out his passenger's side door and revved at the satisfying crunch of the person's body. The door swung close as he manoeuvred just enough so that he crushed the man's wand when he went by.

On he went, slow in the underbrush and passionate about his mission. They had gone to meet the good guys at the castle, he knew that. And that was where he was heading. He wanted to run over as many of them as he could.

And all for that little friend of the red haired kid who had wanted to play with his daddy's toy.

He came to a halt when the edge of the forest finally came into view, and watch from where he was. The man, the unnamed man with nothing more than evil about him was talking. But Ford could see that the others weren't having any of it. Sad, yes. But defeated, never. Perfect, it looked like the time for tire-marks was soon on his way. So he waited patiently, gas pedal primed.

Ford Anglia was a toy no more, and he would have his justice.

Chapter 94: Secrets Revealed in the Chamber of Secrets
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Secrets Revealed in the Chamber of Secrets
byronhermione4evr
(Gryffindor)




"What's next?" Ron asked Hermione as they stood in the crowded Room of Requirement.

Hermione held up the cup and grimaced. "We have to get rid of this."

"But how?" Ron was pacing up and down the length of the room now.

Hermione thought for a moment. "Didn't Harry stab it with a basilisk fang?" She voiced out loud.

Ron stopped walking and looked at her. "But the basilisk is in the Chamber of Secrets…" he began, his eyes suddenly getting wider as a plan formed in his mind.

"Come on, we have to get to Moaning Myrtle's bathroom." Ron dragged Hermione out the door.

"Bathroom…?"

But there was no time for questions. The sooner the horcruxes were destroyed, the bigger chance Harry had to survival, and the sooner Voldemort could be destroyed. On the way there, Ron found an abandoned broomstick in the hallway and brought it with him, considering it useful for the trip down into the Chamber.

Ron stopped suddenly in the bathroom, right in front of the tap engraved with a snake. He had forgotten something important, something that he hadn't planned for.

"Ron, don't we need to speak Parseltongue to get in?" Hermione voiced Ron's thoughts.

Ron nodded, but he suddenly had another idea. "I'll speak it to get in," He told a doubtful Hermione. "I've seen Harry do it, and I think I can."

Ron made a mangled hissing noise, but the tap remained shut. He tried again, but the tap still didn't open.

"Ron, I don't think we can-" Hermione began, but she was cut off by Ron's hand.

Ron gave it one last try, and suddenly the sinks began to move apart to reveal the large, dark, opening.

"Ladies first?" He asked Hermione hesitantly. Hermione understood. The last time he had to go down into the chamber was the time when his little sister had nearly died. This place brought back terrible memories for him.

So Hermione sat on the edge and slid down. It was rather like any other slide that she had seen in a Muggle park, except this one was slimy and branched off into many directions. She landed in the pitch black darkness of the Chamber, and a thump behind her showed that Ron had entered.

Ron walked to the right, and Hermione followed. Ron remembered this place as if it had been yesterday instead of nearly five years ago. He even remembered some of the places where important things had happened.

Let's see…, there was the place where Lockhart had tried to erase Harry and Ron's memories and ended up erasing his own. Right next to that was the place where the rocks had separated Harry from Ron and Lockhart. There were still a few rocks there. Ron kicked them aside and checked to make sure Hermione was following him.

Hermione was panting from the effort on keeping up with Ron's long stride. "In here?" She asked him, motioning a long pathway where there was a green thing on the other end.

Ron nodded and shuddered at the same time, making it look like he was having a seizure. Together, they set off towards the other end. Hermione made a face as they walked towards it. She had hoped to never again see the creature that had Petrified her, but look where she was five years later.

Hermione bent down and extracted a fang from the basilisk's mouth. "Eew, it's slimy," She told Ron as she wiped off the fang. Together, they pulled out all the fangs.

Hermione pulled the cup from her pocket and saw Ron watching her as though expecting something. Hermione sighed. She didn't want to destroy the Horcrux, but Ron had already destroyed one and was in no state to do so again.

Ron handed her a fang and she knelt to the ground slowly. She raised her arm and stabbed it, apparently not hard enough though, as only a tiny scratch appeared.

However, this small scratch was enough for ghostly figures to come pouring out of it. Hermione watched, transfixed, as a miniature Ron and Lavender stepped out of the cup.

Behind her, Ron was shouting at her to stab the cup again, but Hermione was too busy watching the figures to hear what he was saying.

It showed Ron and Lavender kissing at the party in the Gryffindor Common Room. Hermione's eyes widened in horror, but suddenly a dark voice issued from the cup.

"Hermione Jean Granger, all you ever wanted can be yours." The voice was the same that Ron had heard when he had to stab the locket.

"You've always hated this girl. She can be disposed of, everything that reminds of her can be gone, but only if you help give me Potter. Tell me what he thinks, what he does, and nothing will stand in the way of you love for the Weasley boy." The word 'Weasley' was pronounced with a great deal of contempt.

"You are going to become part of a better world, you little Mudblood girl, and if you want to survive, this is your only chance."

And then the mini-Ron turned towards Hermione and looked at her with his scarlet eyes before he spoke. "How could you ever have thought that I would like you, you filthy little Mudblood? True, I may be a blood traitor, but at least I'm a pureblood. Lavender Brown is so much more compared to you. She's a pureblood and beautiful, while you're just a frizzy-haired, buck-toothed, know-it-all."

Hermione gasped at this last statement, and the tears that she had been holding back cascaded freely down her face as she sobbed. Behind her, Ron screamed, "It isn't true, Hermione! Don't listen to him! He's trying to manipulate you!"

Hermione wiped her last tear off her cheek and shot Ron a venomous glare before she turned back to the cup.

"Have you reconsidered?" It asked her.

Hermione looked at the cup, at the figures with so much thought that Ron thought that she was actually considering listening to it. Right when he thought that all hope was over, Hermione spoke.

"I don't need you to know where my loyalties lay."

And then she stabbed the cup. She had stabbed it so hard that the fang pierced straight through the cup. With a long scream, the Horcrux was dead. Voldemort's soul had gone, leaving the cup just another twisted piece of metal.

Hermione threw the basilisk fang to the side and cried with her head in her arms, similar to what Ron had done. Ron walked over to her, but she pushed his aside and kept crying. Ron couldn't stand it. He went down next to her and threw his arms around her, and this time she cried into his chest instead of pulling away.

Ron patted her head, knowing exactly how he felt. The feeling of being unworthy was one that he was familiar with, being the best friend of a world-famous person and one of the brightest witches of the age.

Hermione stood up abruptly, wiping the last of her tears off her face and turned to Ron. "Shouldn't we be getting back up there?" She asked him as she bent to collect the fangs that she had pulled out earlier.

"What? Oh, yes. I guess we should bring these with us." Ron bent down to hold the broomstick and pick up the basilisk fangs.

They walked back the way that they had come from, and Ron mounted the broom. Hermione hesitated for a moment, as she wasn't very good with brooms, but she sat on the back and tried to hold on to both Ron and the fangs the best she could.

And together, they took to the air and flew back into the bathroom, back to where they had come from. It was like they had taken an unspoken vow not to speak or let anyone else know about what had happened down there, for this was another secret to remain in the Chamber of Secrets.

Chapter 95: The Graveyard
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The Graveyard
by InTheShadowsIDwell
(Gryffindor)




“Every man dies - Not every man really lives.” – William Ross Wallace

I watched as the balding man falls at my feet, the life being sucked from his body with a single curse. I step backwards, feeling the crunching sound of bones breaking beneath my feet. I scream, but I doubt that it will be heard among the sounds of death resounding in these stone walls. I could not rid my ears of the sound; I cover my ears with my hands. It does not work, the ghostly screams of death seem to be imprinted upon my mind, lingering, strengthening with each heart beat. My breath becomes tied to each heart beat, short, sharp. No longer able to provide the oxygen I need to survive. Slowly, it is as though the life is being sucked from my body. My inability to breathe pressing in upon my chest, constricting and tightening until I fall to my knees.

I was not ready for this. I was not ready for death. I was young. I was stupid and made a mistake. I only wanted to play a part in this. To help. I didn’t think it would cost me my life. But it was going to. Did I deserve that? I only wanted to help!

Did I deserve to die for it?

Was I willing to die for it?

I tried to turn, but my bones felt as though they had liquidised within my body. As though they had melded with the surrounding flesh rendering me incapable of movement. A spatter of blood collides with my face, yet I can not reach up to wipe it away. The stench of death lingers within the air, not blood. Death. The smell that I associate with a dying tree, the smell of the once majestic wood rotting from the inside out. The smell I would associate with the life of an animal being sucked away from their body as they lay dying upon the side of the road after a collision with a motor vehicle. That smell generally faint, magnified until it was all I could smell. So putrid, so vile and strong that I could almost taste it on my tongue. I try to move, but it only causes me pain.

I was frightened.

Unprepared.

Shocked.

I knew I would not survive this ordeal and was about to die.


Was I really ready to let of the life I had upon this world? My family. My friends. Above all else, my brother. How would my death affect him? I could fight. I could use every ounce of strength I had on fighting, but the battle had drained me. I no longer had the will to survive. Bruised. Battered. Cut. Broken. I no longer had the will to fight. I rolled onto my side, my knees too giving way. I did not want to think of the countless people I had injured, or even killed. I simply wanted to drift away from this world and forget them. I did not want to remember the damage I had caused, the people whose lives may have been ruined by my actions. I did not even wish to think of the difference I had made in this war. My actions were unfathomable. Unforgiveable in every sense. Now I would pay the price.

‘Don’t. Give. Up.’ The girl whispered. I recognised the voice as belonging to Lavender Brown. ‘Please.’

‘I can’t fight anymore.’

‘Please. You can live… I know you can.’ I felt her hand grasp my own, warm from the blood pouring from a deep cut in her palm. ‘Please… For me, tell my family I’m sorry. I need you to do that.’

I felt an overwhelming sense of pity for Lavender, she had lost so much already, she had fought so bravely, she did not deserve to die. ‘I’m going to help you.’ I whisper. ‘I’m sorry if it hurts.’ I say softly as I crawl to my knees, and then to my feet until at last I stand upright. Unsteady. But upright.

‘What’re you doing?’ She mumbles, her voice growing faint.

‘Saving you.’ I whisper gathering her in my arms. I may not have had the will to fight any longer. But I certainly wasn’t going to let other’s die needlessly, I was going to fight in the only way I could, by saving others like me who chose to fight against all odds.

‘Don’t. I’m. Not. Worth. It.’ She replied, a large pool of blood forming within her mouth, choking her. I tilt her head slightly to drain it. Carrying her as carefully as I can to the nearby Hospital Wing, the bodies of the dead littering the floor.

‘You’re worth it.’ I reply. ‘Everyone who fights with us is worth it.’

‘I’m going to die.’ She whispers her voice trailing off, one of few un-fragmented sentences she has spoken to me. ‘It’s. Hardly. Worth. Your. Time.’

‘Luckily, I have all the time the world.’ I reply placing her onto a bed as Madam Pomfrey rushes forward from another patient to assess her wounds. I squeeze Lavender’s hand tightly and reassuringly as I leave, the blood from her palm slowly drying upon my own. Almost as a promise made in blood. A promise that she would survive while I would die in her place, the promise I was making to myself. If I could not live, others must live in my place. My knees shake as I walk; I am unable to walk in a straight line. The fear and adrenaline pounding through my veins, the only source of energy keeping me upright. I notice movement from the corner of my eye, a single flutter of the eyelids upon a tall, strong looking Hufflepuff. I bend down, assessing his injuries quickly. There is so much damage to his body, blood everywhere. Almost as though he had been attacked by a wild animal, deep gouges in his neck and abdomen. He looked almost too large for me to carry, yet I manage to pick him up. Only just. I half drag him, half drag myself to the Hospital Wing.

I leave him in the centre of the large room, not waiting for Madam Pomfrey who is tending to more wounded than I can count. There are several people lying unconscious upon the floor, as though it was the only place they could be put with so few beds. I rush on my unsteady feet back into the corridor, where two students are crawling up the stairs carrying an unconscious Ravenclaw. ‘I’ll take her.’ I say to them, ‘You go back out there.’

‘Make sure she lives.’ One sobs. ‘I don’t want her to die!’

‘I’ll do what ever I can. Is she your friend?’ I ask as I pluck her from their shoulders with ease.

‘My sister. My older sister. I don’t know what I’d do without her.’ She replied. ‘She just can’t die!’

I felt my stomach turn inside me, as though this could be my brother in a just a few days time. ‘I’ll take her there now.’ I reply carrying the girl at a jogging pace away from them. I reach the Hospital Wing quickly. I place her beside the Ravenclaw carefully and run back down the stairs, each trip I become weaker from exhaustion. But there are so many lives to be saved down upon the grounds. I make it in and out of the castle several times before I realise that the battle still rages on upon the grounds. I had walked right into the thick of it. The ground was stained red, the sky blocked by a heavy, dark cloud covering. I couldn’t even tell if it was night or day or anything in between. I’d lost all perception of time. It was almost as though time had stopped or was moving around us. That if we stayed exactly how we are time would exist in another world outside this one. Death would be slower.

I was unsure about death. Was anyone sure? I took several deep breaths trying to regain my strength but it did not come. For the second time today I felt as though the life was being sucked from my body. The lives I had saved, they must have counted for something in the grand scheme of things, shouldn’t they have? I felt a force strike me from behind, causing me to fall to my knees. I was at the mercy of whoever had thrown a curse at me. I dropped my wand. I would die fighting for what I believed – Freedom. Choice and above all else love. I’d rather die without a wand in hand, my mother would love that. She always thought that magic was more a curse to our family than a gift. That would ring true following my death. I wondered as I gazed into the distance how I would be remembered? With love? Hate? Joy? Sadness? Would they remember me at all or would I be just another body upon the castle grounds? One of the countless victims of war.

It was as though time had become irrelevant to this very moment in my life. I notice my foe sauntering around me, a malicious grin upon their blood covered face. Their wand drawn, their lips uttering a single, deadly curse. A jet a green light erupting from their wand. My life slowing down dragging the scene out for what seemed like an endless eternity.

I felt no pain as the curse hit my chest. Only shock. Was it supposed to hurt? Was my life supposed to flash before my eyes? Where were my life memories? Where was the video-type montage of my life? Would it ever come? Had I for a second believed I would make it out alive? Had I really believed this or had it been nothing more than a pipedream? As I fell through the air towards the ground, the life draining from my body with each instant that passed while the ground rushed towards me my questions seemed to find their own answers and the realisation set in. The realisation that Hogwarts was no longer a school. It was a graveyard and I had been digging my own grave right in the centre of it, my own grave marked Collin Creevey.

Chapter 96: Fighting for Dobby
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Fighting for Dobby
by propertyoftheHBP
(Ravenclaw)





Oh, oh, oh--what is with all of this screaming and hustling about? Why is the workers leaving their posts? They has work to do, Winky knows it, they knows it. Master and Mistresses will not be pleased if they leaves their posts, no he won’t.

Why does they think they can scurry off? They knows how unhappy Mistress Carrow was when dear Dobby ran off, they saw her anger. “That wretched elf won’t be allowed back here, ever!” Mistress Carrow yelled, she did. Poor Mistress Carrow, she shouldn’t have to worry about silly workers leaving their duties, she has much too much else on her mind. Dobby has not been back since, either, so at least he is getting smarter. Maybe he deserted his post, yes he did, but he has wizened up since it seems.

Oh, they is still running! “Gilly, why is you taking the cutting board with you? Gilly knows she should not steal what is not hers, and Gilly knows she should not run from her duties, Masters and Mistress won’t be pleased with you,” Winky says to dear Gilly as she runs off chanting strange and not right words from the tops of her lungs.

Crash. Oh no, what is that? It is coming from upstairs in the Great Hall, it cannot be good. Winky should go see what the hubbub is about, but--oh!--it frightens her. What if a naughty student is destroying the lovely, clean castle that Winky and the other elves has fixed up every night for weeks and weeks and weeks? Oh, what if Dobby has returned and Masters and Mistress is punishing him? Winky would not like to see that, she wouldn’t. Dobby is a very silly and bad behaving elf, he is, but he has become a dear friend to Winky over the years.

Winky walks towards the staircase leading through the secret pear passage, but Winky is far too frightened to step through it. What waits for her on the other side? Dobby? Master and Mistresses, terribly angry for something Winky knows is her fault? Oh, oh, oh. What should Winky do?

Here comes Britta, charging down the staircase in a huff, just as Gilly was! “Britta, what is you doing?” Winky asks Britta as she as well is chanting not right phrases and words.

“We is fighting, Winky! Fighting for our freedom!”

Winky gapes, eyes wide open. “Dobby is back, Britta? Where is Dobby?”

When she hears Winky say Dobby, Britta pulls Winky aside with a sad look on her face. Why is Britta so down?

“Winky, I has bad news for you. Dobby was killed by the evil Lestrange lady when he was helping Master Harry Potter fight for ours and everyones freedoms, Winky. We is all fighting against the evil and scary Masters and Mistresses now, so the house elves will be trod upon no more! Dobby the house elf will not have died in vain, Winky! Comes helps us!”

Winky blinks, for Winky is in shock and is now feeling very down. How is Dobby…dead? Dobby was always such a strong and mighty elf, even though Winky never agreed with his views. Dobby! Winky remembers how he always took such good cares of her when her first Master rightfully dismissed her. Winky falls into the corner and lets tears leak from her great and shivering eyes. Oh, Winky can still hear the commotions above her, and this tragic and horrid news only adds to all the scariness of it all.

Britta pats Winky on the head and sighs. “Winky, I musts be going now, I musts help us wins. Winky should come, for I knows Dobby would be happy and prouds of you.” Britta hops away, snatching a kitchen knife from the tops of the counters and begins the wild chants again.

Winky sits and heaves for a few more moments and then stands up and draws herself to her fullest heights. Winky can do this, Winky knows she can. For Winky realizes that any bodies who would want to kill and destroy such a magnificent elf’s spirit such as Dobby’s is a strange body indeed. Winky surprises herself at all the crazy thoughts coming to her mind, buts Winky knows they is right. Winky takes a deep breath and looks up to the great ceiling of the kitchen.

“Dobby, I is going to help you like you helped me.” With that brave and mighty thought being said to the highs heavens, Winky musters her courage and snatches both a cutting board and a knife from the edge of the tops of the stove.

Following what all Winky has heard her fellow elves say, Winky charges up the stairs and hollers, “Winky and all elves is their own masters! All peoples is their own masters, down with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named!!!”




A/N: Huge thanks to jazzeh turnip, who beta'd this for me! Also, I'd just like to note that though I wrote this thinking in the first person mindframe, it can be seen as either first or third, because Winky's a house-elf. ;)

Chapter 97: Intoxicating
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Intoxicating
by alicia and anne
(Slytherin)



 


I could taste their fear long before I could see them; the stench of it was reeking from the castle, the wind blowing it towards where we stood waiting. I was intoxicated by it.

I sniffed the air deeply, my eyes closed longingly my urge to attack getting more and more urgent, I needed to quench this thirst that was burning my throat. I could hear Yaxley shift uneasily beside me, my eyes opened and I saw him give me a reproachful look before staring back at the castle, he edged away from me slightly and I felt a cruel smile fill my face.

Even though I wasn't a death eater, the others feared me enough to respect me like I was one of them and I relished in that fact. They knew that if they ever crossed me I could end their lives so easily; all it would take was one bite. One bite to cause them so much pain they would be begging for death.

I growled without thinking causing Yaxley to shoot me another look.

"Greyback" came a shrill demanding voice; I looked towards my master, the only person who had ever been able to control me.

He was standing near Bellatrix who was smirking proudly at such an honour.

"Your time will come" he told me "soon you will help vanquish those not worthy. Just wait a little more"

I turned back to face the castle, I was one of the most dangerous people my master had and I wasn't going to let him down. Which is why I took this time to plan my attacks, I knew who I wanted to face first, I had been itching to rid the world of the abomination of a werewolf named Remus Lupin, I had given him the best gift imaginable and he seemed to hate it instead of use it to his advantage, he had been given a chance to become more powerful then any wizard ever could, but he could only see himself as a failure, I would show him what a real werewolf is like. My next would be that Weasley man, only this time I would be able to finish the job instead of just scaring him. After that I would go for anyone I could get my hands on or anyone who stood in my way whilst I tried to get my 'prey' the more I bit the more I would have in my army.

I heard my master stop pacing and I turned to face him, as did everyone else.

"It is time" his voice rang out to us; I felt excitement fill me, adrenaline pulsating through my body causing my senses to go into overdrive. The other death eaters began getting excited too; the moment we had been waiting and preparing for had finally arrived.

Master gave us a nod and I knew this was my cue to leave, I was one of the first who was to enter the castle, I raced ahead of the others, the werewolf inside of me giving me an advantage on speed and soon Yaxley and the others fell behind. The Giants stomped around beside me, their eyes dark and yearning to attack. I knew how they felt; the smell was becoming stronger now that I was nearing it was almost unbearable. I was heading for the Greenhouses; I knew that most people would be protecting the great doors thinking that we would all attack through that way. How stupid of them.

I smashed through a window, not even caring with opening the door, as I steadied myself I looked around quickly, I was right; the only things in here were the plants. I rushed forward to the door leading to the castle and turned the doorknob to rush inside. As I entered the corridor that smell hit me harder then before.

The smell of their fear was like a drug to me, my mouth salivating at the smell and itching for blood I looked around, my eyes falling onto a lone figure at the end of the corridor. They had their back to me, such an easy target. I smirked as I silently approached them, they would have no chance to escape.



Chapter 98: Could this be the last kiss?
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Could this be the last kiss?
by alicia and anne
(Slytherin)




Hannah Abbott ran through the crumbling corridors of Hogwarts as though her life depended on it, ignoring the stitch in her side and the ache in her lungs as they struggled to get air she carried on running. She needed to find him, needed to tell him. There might not be any other time.

She saw him running from the greenhouse a few pots of mandrakes in his arms. Her heart lurched, he was safe. But for how long she didn’t know.

“Neville!” she yelled just as a loud noise, sounding like a groan, was heard echoing through the corridor, something had hit the outside of Hogwarts. The noise sounded like the castle was protesting from being attacked. She felt fear course through her, fear that he hadn’t heard her, fear that she was going to perish in this war before telling him how she felt.

But he had heard her; he turned around and stared at her. And for a few moments they couldn’t speak, they could only stare at each other. Hannah tried to tell him through her eyes just how much he meant to her but she couldn’t do it, the moment had come and she couldn’t find the courage to tell him, why couldn’t she tell him? Why was she only able to stare at him? She watched as Neville placed the mandrakes down on the floor carefully before rushing over to her. He placed his hands on the sides of her face and pulled him towards her for a kiss, his Gryffindor courage doing what she was too frightened to do. She melted into his kiss and felt warmth flood through her, her fears had gone the fear of losing him, the fear of falling in this war, the fear of never letting him know how she felt.

They ignored the people running past them, ignored the screams of horror as something else attacked the castle, dust falling around them. This might be their last time together and they were both lost in the kiss. They needed to show how much they meant to each other, they needed to have this kiss. They needed hope in this world full of despair. They needed each other.

Another crash was heard and the castle shook, causing Neville and Hannah to finally part. They stared at each other breathlessly before looking around them.

“I’ve wanted to do that in so long” Neville admitted causing Hannah’s heart to swell

There was another shudder from within the walls and more dust fell around them. Neville looked around the corridor again.

“It’s not safe here we need to move” Neville said his eyes back on Hannah who nodded slowly, yet neither of them moved. “The castle might collapse”

They stared at each other again, taking in each others features, every detail they could remember.

“What if something happens to us?” Hannah asked the fear that began creeping back into her veins evident in her voice.

“It won’t, we’ll find each other at the end” he said confidently, as though he knew for certain.

“But what if we lose the war?” that thought terrified her, what if they lost and he who must not be named won?

“We won’t because we have Harry” Neville said it so easy, as though there was no other option. She knew that she should believe him entirely but part of her mind kept screaming at her that they might lose.

“What if he fails?” Hannah asked searching his eyes for a sign that he believed that they might not win. She couldn’t find it.

“Then I need to destroy the snake” he told her simply, another crash hit the castle and more students ran passed them.

“How will that help?” she asked confused, Neville looked equally as confused.

“I’m not sure; Harry just said it’ll help us defeat Voldemort. I trust Harry” he looked at her as if taking in her face for the last time. He took her face in his hands and gave her a chaste kiss before moving away from her and over to the mandrakes, picking them up. He turned back around to face her.

“Look for me after we win”

And with those words not only did he leave, but he also gave Hannah hope. Hope that they would see each other after this moment. Hope that they would win.



Chapter 99: Blame the Wrackspurts
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Blame the Wrackspurts
by ericajen
(Gryffindor)




Dean had done the unthinkable. He had fallen in love. Hard. And with the most unconventional of love interests: Luna Lovegood.

He wasn't completely sure when this happened, though he figured it might have been somewhere between taking her hand in the Room of Requirement and now, as he defended her against a particularly ruthless Death Eater.

He had gotten wand from – well, from someone, anyway and though it didn't work for him as well as his own would have, he was dueling harder than he ever could have thought possible for him.

This Death Eater, a middle aged man with piercing dark eyes and a cruel smile, had jinxed Luna in the midst of the battle, causing her to soar a few feet through the air and fall hard against the ground with a dull thud.

Dean had immediately taken action, sending spell after spell to the Death Eater.

"STUPEFY!" Dean cried into the air, a jet of light streaming out of the end of the wand he was using.

The Death Eater ducked and missed the curse by inches and in turn sent one back at Dean, who dodged it at the last possible moment.

"EXPELLIARMUS!" Dean shouted but the spell missed his target.

Their fight continued and though Dean wanted to glance over and check on Luna to see if she had gotten up yet or not, he had to concentrate on the duel. This Death Eater was quite tricky and it required all of Dean's skills and focus to not get killed.

Several spells and curses later, the Death Eater was beginning to grasp the upper hand in the battle. Dean struggled to keep up with the rapid succession of spells being sent his way. He spent far more time casting Shield Charms on himself than actually fighting.

The Death Eater got him then, with a curse that hit his wand arm. It sliced the skin of his arm open and blood began to gush out of it. He wished more than anything that it had not been his wand arm that had been hit as it rendered him unable to cast a spell until he was healed.

He was being advanced on by the Death Eater, who had his wand raised menacingly. His mouth opened and Dean knew the curse that was about to be uttered out of the Death Eater's mouth – the one that would end his life – but the words never came.

"Petrificus Totalus," a voice said calmly and the Death Eater went down.

Dean glanced over and saw none other than Luna, who lowered her wand and rushed over to Dean once she saw that the Death Eater had been taken care of by her quick spell.

She immediately set to work on his arm, rolling the sleeve up and examining it.

"It's not too bad," she told him softly. "Would you like me to heal it?"

"Er, yeah, sure. Go for it," he answered. He wasn't sure how good Luna would be with Healing Charms, but it was unlikely that he would be able to get to someone more experienced without getting attacked again. Besides, he knew Luna to be quite a brilliant witch.

She muttered a few incantations and he noticed with interest and relief that his wound ceased to bleed and was beginning to heal.

"We'll have to get you some potions when we have time," she said.

"Right," he agreed lamely.

He was a bit embarrassed about being beaten by the Death Eater and having to be saved by Luna. He would have liked to save the day a bit more successfully than he did.

"I think some Wrackspurts had me confused for a minute out there when he got me," Dean explained.

"They can be a bit pesky in times like this," Luna swiftly agreed and smiled at him warmly.

Chapter 100: Best Served Cold
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Best Served Cold
by RonsGirlFriday
(Ravenclaw)




He had her right where he wanted her.

The foul excuse for a human being had finally made a mistake. She was unarmed, trapped, vulnerable, though she certainly didn't act like it. She glared at him with heavy eyes, taunting him.

"You stupid child, what do you think you're going to do, exactly?"

His wand hand shook, wobbling every which way as though being pulled in all directions by competing magnets. He struggled to keep it aimed at her heart. He was going to do this.

He could do it. He had to. What was stopping him?

He remembered the look on Percy's face as Percy had taken off running after the explosion. There was not a doubt in his mind that his brother was murdering someone right now. Well, if that desk jockey nerd could do it, so could Ron.

Someone was going to feel his pain and his rage.

All around them was chaos, spells ricocheting off walls and floors, smoke rising from shattered stone, people running, crying, terror, anger, hatred, anguish…

And screaming. Yelling and shouting and screaming on all sides, up the corridor in one direction and down another…and nobody noticed, in the midst of it all, a skinny boy, completely silent, contemplating how best to make this flesh and blood nightmare pay the price.

The screams rang in his ears, but he barely heard them. They might have been a thousand miles away.

Inside his head, a different scream echoed. It was piercing and clear as a bell, a despairing shriek that moved to his chest and then into his stomach, where it dropped like a boulder and made him feel sick. It carried the agony and suffering of the world, but he was the only one who heard it.

He couldn't help her, he was so sorry, he tried, but he couldn't get to her…

He gripped his wand more tightly and gritted his teeth as the echoes sliced through his heart. The scornful witch in front of him narrowed her eyes, a smile playing on her lips as she watched distress flash across his face.

"That's not a toy, you filthy blood traitor brat. Do you even know how to use it?"

"SHUT UP!"

And she did shut up. He didn't even register it as odd. It made perfect sense, as did the sudden look of apprehension on her face and the unnatural steadiness of his hand. Everything fell into place, every piece was where it belonged.

Checkmate, bitch.

He smiled then - a deranged, absolutely unhinged smile - as he answered her first question.

"I am going to kill you."

He said it softly, calmly, as though he were explaining two plus two to a four year-old.

He began to raise his wand.

"Ronald," said a placid soprano voice off to his right, "she'll just Blibber away, you know. You shouldn't Humding a Snorkack when it goes spelunking."

He didn't know what Luna was doing there, and he didn't care. He didn't even look at her, just caught a glimpse of her dirty blonde hair out of the corner of his eye.

He ignored her and opened his mouth to say the incantation, though his wand hand now felt like lead and wouldn't obey him when he tried to bring it back. Bellatrix just stared at him.

"Ron," said Neville, who had appeared on his left, his tone reasonable and his brow creased with concern, "what are you doing?"

Ron threw Neville a quick look. "Oh, I'm sorry, Neville. Where are my manners? You should do it," he replied savagely. He gestured with his left hand for his friend to step in, even while he kept his wand trained on his target. "Go ahead, Neville."

But Neville was gone, and Hermione was tugging on his sleeve. "Stop," she pleaded. "Ron, stop."

Screaming. Begging for it to stop. More screaming.

Why wouldn't his hand move? His breathing was angry and irregular as he fought against his resisting arm. It was frozen, absolutely paralyzed.

But where was Harry?

Dead, of course. He knew that. That was why he had to finish it.

Something told him that he couldn't. Yet another something told him that he had to. He couldn't just leave her - too dangerous, she had to be finished. And there was still the screaming...

His wand twitched.

Hermione grasped his left arm and pulled with all her might. "Ron, don't," she begged. "Ron… Ron!"

Ron…

Ron…

"Ronnn..."

He woke to find himself being nearly shoved off the side of the bed.

"Huh, what?" He started and lunged instinctively for his wand on nightstand, disoriented and completely drenched in cold sweat, his hair matted against his forehead.

Mission accomplished, Hermione's arm fell to her side. "It's your turn," she mumbled, half-awake and wholly exhausted. She shifted and pulled the covers over her head.

"Huh?" The dream was still vivid in his mind, and reality still a bit hazy.

She groaned, her voice muffled under the covers. "It's your turn, I did it last night."

Right.

Rose was crying - loudly, he realized, now that he had finally connected with the real world. He couldn't believe he'd been sleeping through it.

He glanced at the clock: three in the morning. He was amazed the kid had managed to stay asleep that long. Hermione had been up five times with her the night before. And three times the night before that.

With his wand restored to its peaceful place on the nightstand, he dragged himself out of bed, plucked Rose from her crib, and sleepwalked into the other room.

It had clearly been a plea for attention - she stopped crying almost immediately after he picked her up. But he held her for awhile, pacing back and forth, willing himself not to keel over and fall asleep right there. Really, he was glad to have been woken up. He was in no hurry to get back to the dream that always left his breathing unsteady and his stomach unsettled.

He looked down at his daughter, content once more after having successfully conned her dad into waking up at a most unholy hour.

"You know, pixie," he whispered, speaking more to himself than to Rose, "it had to be done, but sometimes I'm really glad your Nana was the one to do it."

Chapter 101: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity
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Liberty, Equality and Fraternity
by lia_2390
(Slytherin)




When I was a small boy, I remember my father always told me to never think I was better than anyone else or to let them think that of me.

‘We are all the same, my child.’ He would say. ‘If I cut you and you cut me, the same thing pours out of each of us. Nothing more or nothing less.’

It was something he never let me forget until the day he died. Even in the years leading up to my own demise, those words were something I held close to me. I passed them onto my students and even my brothers in the cleric.

In the nine hundred years of my existence, I have seen many students pass through these doors. A number which surely I cannot count on one hand and a number which is certainly more than my age. It was during those years that I witnessed a decline. As the age became more, as one of my present students would call advanced, came the decrease in the values I had known as a boy. It made itself known with the rivalry between two houses where the history of war was not foreign to even their founders.

It is not to say that such sentiments were growing for years but all it took was one boy to, dare I say, make something out of it. This boy was the lit match who set everything in his path on fire.

I recall the first time I saw him set foot in this school and I said to Dumbledore, this boy is different. He met my transparent gaze with his piercing blue eyes and said to me ‘My dear Friar, this boy will be extraordinary.’

As I think back on it now, I wonder if the old Headmaster choked on his words. Young Tom Riddle was indeed extraordinary but pair such a trait with the hate he was filled with. Throughout his entire life, he never loved, he was ambitious, yes, intelligent, indeed but with a heart as black as his own, there was no room for anything else.

The hall fills with silence now as he faces his equal, Harry Potter. I refuse to call him by the other name because in my eyes, he will always be Tom, Merope’s boy. They circle each other like a hunter would its prey but who in this instance is the hunter?

Both of them are extraordinary in their own right but it is the one who has something to fight for that will be victorious.

The shout of two spells echo through the ancient walls of the school. A flash of green rebounds and hits him in his chest and silence reigns. As quick as the silence came, it disappears and is replaced with triumphant shouts.

I hover silently above the masses with my fellow ghosts at my side and with a glance at each of them, I see that they understand. Turning my head away from them, I continue to watch those below me. Beneath every shout of victory is a cry of anguish for what they have lost. The heart-wrenching sobs of a woman clutching a squirming infant at the feet of two motionless, cold bodies. Another woman sits very still, staring in her direction with her arms around her two boys; her husband and son.

A few feet away from them, stands another woman and her child; silent tears flow down their faces as they too look down at the ground.

For every person, living or dead, who is scattered around this hall tonight, I have known and can call them by name. Sometimes I think of myself as a proud parent, watching them all grow. If I could cry, I would shed a ghostly tear for all I consider my children. I would mourn their deaths, treasure their memories and most of all regret that they turned against their brothers just to preserve their own pride.

Chapter 102: Intuition
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Intuition
by propertyoftheHBP
(Ravenclaw)



I stepped outside of the castle, hoping that I would be able to find an escape, if only from the onslaught of colours, lights, and sounds that had been flooding my mind inside of the residence.

I had no such luck. The bloodshed outside was worse than it had been inside. Bodies were falling as though they were the toy marionettes Sister and I had played with years ago. The obvious disregard for human life that all on the battlefield felt disturbed and disgusted me. Yes, I had decidedly stayed to fight some hours ago, but I did not expect to see all that I had witnessed. In an attempt to preserve my sanity and for other wholly selfish reasons, I chose to try and flee the scene. I was living up to the stereotype that surrounded me as a Slytherin, perhaps, but I honestly felt as though I had no other choice.

I’d seen my classmate and friend, Adrian Pucey, shot down by a spell in front of my very eyes--I still did not know if he was alive, for I had had to flee the scene to save my own neck.

I clambered down the cobblestone steps, my mind almost instantly back into survival mode after less than a moment’s fear and disappointment. I hunched down, trying to shrink my presence as much as I could, if only to delay my being cursed by a second. However much I tried to be strong and keep my hopes and thoughts positive, I knew that it would be quite impossible for me to survive this battle wholly intact. Alive, perhaps, if I was lucky, but not without an unbearably painful injury, for sure.

I had always thought like that as a child through now--realistically. My mother called me a pessimist, my father was always trying to “discuss my problems” with me. Astoria stuck her tongue out and stated the opposite with the sole intention of irking me. I really never saw the point of any of their reactions, for I wasn’t always negative. Then again, I wasn’t always one-hundred-percent positive, but when was life so? It wasn’t like I was Professor Trelawney, going around spouting off doomsday. I stated the truth as it was and as I saw it, no more and no less. I was able to analyze situations well and to see any and all possible escape routes. It was one of my more Slytherin traits, and one I was rather proud of.

There was no escape route here. I bit back a scream as my foot caught on a cavity in the bottom step of the castle’s staircase. I skidded to a halt about two feet from the foot of the stairs. I winced, the palms of my hands most likely scraped horribly as they had tried to stop the fall from instinct alone. I paused before getting up, for I heard people bringing their battle to a space within inches of me. I held my breath, trying to keep my mind off the fact that it would be far too easy for one of their spells to miss its target and hit me.

Eyes closed and trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, I waited until their screams and shouts faded into a further distance, then brought myself to my knees, which were bruised and bleeding as well. I stood, and scrambled to the corner of the front castle wall as fast as my aching and stinging body would let me. Panting, I belatedly thought to grab my wand from the inside of my robes and pressed up against the wall as best as I could.

There was less fighting around here, though it was only twenty feet or so from where I last stood. I knew it was because a corner and all the bushes surrounding it was a very stupid place to hold a duel--but it was a prime place to be snuck up on from behind, most of the time. Again, here was my instinct coming into play--all of the surprise attacks were more likely than not going on inside of the castle, while duels had somehow made their way out here.

No one would catch me here, at least for the ten seconds that I took to regain my bearings and move on, continuing to move down the adjacent wall.

It was not to be. I heard a shout behind me--no, not a shout, but a curse. I heard the first syllable leave the caster’s mouth--and by the sounds of the curse, I knew that he was a Death Eater. I whipped my body around and saw that while the curse was not aimed at me, by an unfortunate turn of events that’s exactly where it was headed.

The realization happened in mere milliseconds, and before I could blink an eye, I was lying on the wet grass, panting in pain. The curse felt as though it was overtaking my body from the inside and I had no choice but to lie there in agony, only hoping that a decent human being--or any being, for that matter--would come and help me.

Why had I done this? I should have left with Astoria, I should have went home and done what everyone had expected me to do. These thoughts escaped my mind quicker than I could process them. They shocked me, for I had never before doubted myself in that way. I had never questioned my actions, I only knew the outcomes. Yet as I lay in torturous pain, it seemed as though my resolve in life was weakening.

I don’t know how I long I sat there, laying on my back and using every ounce of willpower I had not to squirm and shout in pain--all I knew was that the more attention I drew to myself, the better the chance I had of being cursed at again. Eventually, I heard footsteps running in my direction. I flinched, hoping that I would not be trampled.

I wasn’t. A girl knelt next to me, lifting my wrist and checking for a pulse. I didn’t know her intentions, so I remained still.

Slowly opening my eyes after a few moments, I saw Ginny Weasley hovering over me, surrounded by a pretty white haze. Even though bits of my senses were dulling and fading ever so slightly, one by one, and I was beyond shocked and grateful that someone with clearly good intentions had come to my side, I couldn’t help but wonder why a Gryffindor, a Weasley, the opposing side had come to me. She brushed my matted and sweaty hair out of my face and surveyed me with care.

“Daphne, what happened? Where were you hit?” She kept throwing questions onto me, though I knew that she didn’t mean for me to answer them. By now I could hardly form a coherent thought, the excruciating pain of the curse was overtaking me, and I knew I’d barely be able to speak if I tried.

All I knew was that I wanted to go home, I wanted to be surrounded by my family, just once more. I didn’t care whether the Dark Lord or the Order won now, I just wanted to survive to see the next day--but, again, my intuition came into play. I wouldn’t. This morning’s sunrise had been my last, even though I hadn’t even laid eyes onto it.

Ginny’s voice brought me back to the present and away from my heart wrenching, rambling thoughts. “It’s all right. We’re going to get you inside.” she said, with more tenderness in her voice than I’d ever heard from someone before. I still didn’t know why she was here--maybe she had seen me leave the castle and knew that I only wanted to escape this hellhole. Maybe it was just because Ginny, from what I knew of her, us being in polar opposite houses and different years, was just a genuinely kind, if sometimes fiery, person. I doubt that she cared that our pride colours clashed, or that snakes and lions didn’t quite get along. She saw an innocent person who needed help and came to her.

Again, even in what I knew was some of my last minutes, my intuition was speaking.

I mustered the strength to speak, hoping that something kind and thankful would come out, for I knew now that I wouldn’t die alone. “But I want to go home…I don’t want to fight anymore!” They were possibly the simplest words I’d ever spoken, yet the rang the truest in my ears in the moment.

I heaved another breath, the fluffy cloud around Ginny’s face growing larger by the seconds. “I know, it’s going to be all right,” Ginny spoke again, her voice cracking.

It’s going to be all right. If the girl who now looked like an angel said it, I knew that it must be true. I’d be home soon enough, and I knew that I’d be greeted with love.



A/N: The three lines in italics are quoted from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling, pages 696 and 697 of the US hardcover edition.

Chapter 103: The Day I Died
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The Day I Died.
by RandomRed
(Slytherin)



 


I am Fred Weasley and this is what happened the day I died. It was the final battle at Hogwarts and me and George were not our usual selves if I do say so myself. The idea of the battle was looming on us and even we Forge and Gred couldn’t keep spirits up. We knew someone was going to be lost today we just didn’t know who and I never thought it would be me.

I was standing in the corridor outside the Great hall and there were curses and hexes flying everywhere. I could hardly see for smoke, I managed to see Percy about five metres away from me he was fighting a deatheater by the name of Pius Thicknesse. As much as Percy gloats he didn’t look to good so I jumped into the dual and helped him. We managed to fight him off and we thought it was over. Seconds later I heard a large bang to the side of me and then everything went dark.

I was suddenly seeing the battle from above along with Snape, Remus, and Tonks. It was weird I soon located most of the people I cherished most among the hoards of people fighting it out. I watched them knowing there was nothing I could do too save or help them. Especially Ginny, even though I know she hated how we protected her but it was because it would hit Mother hardest if her only daughter died. I thought about a lot whilst the battle was going on, about the lives everyone would lead after this, about George getting married and having children, living a life without me by his side.

When Voldemort came in announced Harry was dead I was confused to why he wasn’t here with us just floating in between life and death. I figured out why later but I‘ll come back to that. I was distracted by Kretcher chanting to fight the Dark Lord and my heart if I was alive warmed. Kretcher the loyal Black house-elf therefore loyal to Voldemort decided to fight in memory of Regulus. Then everything happened in fast motion Neville proved he was a true Gryffindor pulling the Sword out of the Sorting Hat and killing Nagini. I watched my Mother fight Bellatrix with such passion I knew she knew I was dead. I wanted to hug her and tell her everything would be ok, she still had everyone else in tact.

When Harry showed himself the whole hall was overjoyed and only Voldemort was left. I silently hoped that even if Harry died we could win. Voldemort had the Elder Wand it was over. There was no way Harry could win. Harry however revealed that the true master was Draco Malfoy not Voldemort until Harry had disarmed Draco. Voldemort cast his killing curse. Harry cast his Disarming charm. No one took a breath. Voldemort fell by his own killing curse leaving everyone to rejoice. There was a moment of Euphoria before the hard truth set in. People had died. I could see Fred over by my body just staring unable to do anything; he was soon joined by the rest of my family, Harry and Hermione. They were all grieving over me but I wanted to shout at them to stay with each other be happy in the fact that everyone else survived. Of course Peeves decided to lighten the mood by coming up with a rhyme. I remembered all the good times I had at Hogwarts with George, all the times we had joined in with Peeves and encouraged him to make up new ones. Not that he need much encouragement.

After awhile of just watching everything started too fuzzy and I realised we were moving on I looked at Remus beside me. He looked happy; I suppose he was finally going to be with the Marauders again. I will have to ask them about that map.



Chapter 104: The Bitter Pill
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The Bitter Pill
by eternalangelkiss
(Hufflepuff)




Draco Malfoy was never one to take hand outs from anyone except in times of dire need. So when the room erupted into rolling walls of flames, Draco knew that he was in dire need, but as he stared at Harry’s offered hand, he still had a strong urge to smack it away. There was no pretending any sort of friendship between the two boys, nor would there ever be. All they had at the moment was the bond of survival and that was the reason that Draco Malfoy grabbed a hold of Harry’s hand and hopped onto the back of his broomstick. It was a humbling moment and one that was hard for him to swallow without choking on, but then this was not something new to Draco.

The past year had been one humiliation after another. He had watched his father grovel and his mother lose the dignity in her eyes. His home had become the regular haunt of the dodgiest of personalities and the criminally insane. He had been made to do and witness awful things, things that still gave him nightmares. And now he had watched one of his best friends burned alive in a monstrous fire his friend had created. Draco could still hear Crabbe’s agonizing death screams echoing in his mind, causing him to shudder in horror.

Over the last two years things have changed between he and his two friends. Draco had always thought that they would end their Hogwarts years together just as they had started them. But his friends had moved on from their friendship to much more darker and, for Crabbe, fatal subjects. Draco had seen this change, watching it as it morphed his friends into dangerous strangers. Crabbe and Goyle would never be loyal to him again. Draco, used to having everything handed to him and used to having people he could control, had felt the loss of Crabbe and Goyle acutely. Even though he had never treated them as equals, they had still been his closest friends. He had grown up with them and they had become a part of his life. Now he had watched one of them die.

The blazing heat sent rivers of sweat down his face as it became harder and harder to breathe. His eyes started to tear up and he was glad of the heat for once; it gave him an excuse to cry over the death of Crabbe and Harry would never know of his real reasons.

A stack of towering objects tumbled to the ground just seconds behind them, the fiery crash sending out another wave of scalding heat. Draco could feel Harry’s breath shutter through him as he held on tighter to his enemy. Harry was having a hard time breathing and his heart was pounding in his chest. He could feel the reverberations of Harry’s fear riddled heart through his sweat stained shirt as they raced through the rolling mountains of flames and debris.

Draco had never thought it possible, but for once he and Harry had something in common; they were both terrified for their lives. For Draco, this was a relatively new feeling of fear that he had been grappling with over the past year. He would have thought that Harry would have gotten used to the constant threat of death if all the stories about what he had gone through at Hogwarts were true. How many times has he faced Voldemort and lived? And yet, there was still a terror in his eyes every time he turned to check on Ron, Hermione and Goyle on the other broom.

And for once, Draco saw Harry as just a boy, not as the one he had hated all of his years at Hogwarts or as the boy-who-lived or even as the Chosen One, but as a simple boy who had risked his and his friend’s lives to save an enemy. Draco knew that if the situation had been reversed, he wasn’t sure if he had done the same thing, but then that was what made Harry a legend in people’s eyes. He did the reckless things that Draco would never do and he saved people‘s lives. Draco was grateful for it, though he would never tell Harry this, and his opinion of the one he had hated for so long had changed (though he would never tell him that either).

As they neared the entrance to the room of requirement, racing the fire that thundered after them towards the door, Draco’s heart quickened. They were almost there. And even as he thought this, he still remembered that one of his friends would never leave this room. He would remain there for eternity as nothing more than a pile of ash. And the saddest thing of all was that, besides his parents and his two closest friends, no one would really remember or mourn Vincent Crabbe. They would remember him as the monster he had become and not as the little boy that Draco remembered playing with when he was young.

But despite these sad thoughts, Draco held onto Harry even more as the door came closer, thankful that he was alive. He knew that he would never be able to repay Harry for what he had just done and he knew that, despite wanting to hate Harry, he never would be able to. For Draco Malfoy, this was the bitter pill he would have to swallow all his life. As they escaped out of the destroyed room of requirement, Draco accepted this burden as he gulped in a breath of fresh, clean air.



Chapter 105: To Laugh
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To Laugh
by long_live_luna_bellatrix
(Ravenclaw)



She felt the laughter bubbling up inside her, setting fire to her blood, roaring as the dam broke and the giggles fought to surface. She gave no thought to smother the urge, and instead let the feeling wash over her body, fueling her excitement, letting the laughter break free.

Bellatrix Lestrange threw back her head and cackled.

"Shut up," hissed Dolohov beside her.

"Oh, Dolohov, you have to quit the masquerade and loosen up a bit," Bellatrix giggled, "This is fun."

"This isn't set in stone, Lestrange," snapped Dolohov, "We still have to get Potter to the Dark Lord."

"You're so uptight," Bellatrix said, "C'mon, let's go into the castle already."

"You think it's time?"

"Dolohov, a better question would be, when is it not time?"

She watched Dolohov allow himself to crack a grin, and they set off to the castle. Someone was already screaming, and Bellatrix broke into a jog. Who was she to miss the fun?

In a window above them, a pair of wide eyes peeked out onto the grounds. Above them sat a scruffy head of unbrushed hair. Bellatrix raised her wand and red light streamed out. The eyes fell below the sill with a wet thump.

Dolohov blasted the sturdy front doors of the castle to pieces, and Bellatrix practically skipped through them while the wreckage was still falling. There was no time to waste. Her master wanted the Potter boy? She would get him. End of story.

"Come out come out wherever you are!" Bellatrix screamed, then bent over as she was wracked with giggles once more.

"Get ahold of yourself," grumbled Dolohov, and he dragged her by the elbow further inside. A few more screams echoed around the halls, and someone shouted hoarsely above them.

It was starting.

Bellatrix set fire to a tapestry as they passed and snapped the helmet off a suit of armor, then causing it to bob along behind her. When footsteps came slapping towards them, she smirked and sent the helmet whizzing into the nose of a pigtailed little girl. With a curse from Dolohov, the student was finished.

Behind them, Bellatrix heard the first real wave of Death Eaters tearing into the castle, as ahead more students came running to find the source of the commotion.

"Why if it isn't Neville Long-ass," she giggled as the boy, taller than when she'd seen him last, marched towards her. "Fancy seeing you here!"

"Avad―"

"Now now, Neville," Bellatrix froze him in place, along with his tongue, "We can't have you hurting anyone, can we?" Neville's face was already contorted in an expression of anger, and a strangled moan escaped his throat. He was poised to step towards her, one arm reaching out, one foot about to leave the ground.

"Bellatrix," Dolohuv grunted, "deal with him and go. We've got to get through before the whole castle wakes up."

"The whole damn castle is already awake, don't you have ears?" Bellatrix said, "Listen for the screams, Dolohov. Those are the screams of children realizing their fairytale castle has been attacked by a fire breathing dragon, and their knight in shining armor is about to be dragged to his true master, where no one can save him."

Another sound from the back of Longbottom's throat, and in one stride Bellatrix was in his face, her wand jabbed against his Adam's apple. "One more sound and you're dead as a doornail, Nevvie, you got that?"

Longbottom stared fiercely into her eyes, and Bellatrix blinked before the raging fire there could lock her own gaze. She grinned widely, stretching it as far as it would go. "You miss your mummy, Longbottom? Your daddy? You wish they would tuck you into bed at night, kiss your forehead? You should have been there, to see the sanity drain from their faces, the―"

"Bellatrix," Dolohov snapped, "if you don't finish this, I will. There's no time for this!"

"You're right," Bellatrix sighed. "For once you may actually be right." She set Longbottom's robes on fire, and only as she turned on her heels did she send the curse to end the pathetic boy's life.

Bellatrix fought the tickle in her throat, begging her to laugh once more. Finally, she had ended the filthy line of Longbottoms.

Now she could fulfill her oath to the Dark Lord without anything else left to do.

But now she would stop laughing.

Because now that Longbottom was done, only Potter stood in her way to a long, carefree life of serving the Dark Lord. She wouldn't celebrate this close to the finish line. She was a better sport than that. She would hold her breath until Potter himself stopped breathing.

Then Bellatrix would laugh. She would laugh in the face of triumph, in the face of defeating everything that had ever kept her giggles back before.

Chapter 106: Heartbeat
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Heartbeat
by long_live_luna_bellatrix
(Ravenclaw)



"Oh, James," I reached for my husbands sleeve as I felt a gentle tug at the tips of my heartstrings, "We've got a call."

"What's this I'm feeling?" Sirius walked up, a hand over his chest, a frown flitting across his face. "Is this―?"

"Let's go," Remus winked, and then we were all flying away one the wind, our bodies falling to dust. I didn't realize I'd closed my eyes until I opened them to see stars for the the first time in nearly seventeen years.

And then my eyes fell on my son.

My son.

My son.

My son.

My eyes feasted on the sight of him, my dear, dear boy. I did my best to memorize every bit, from the speck of grime on his nose to the lively sparkle in his weary eyes. He'd gotten that from James, I knew; James had always been able to jest no matter the situation.

"You're incredibly brave," I whispered, the words slipping from my mouth before I realized I'd said them. But it was true. I'd never admired him more than I did right then. He smiled grimly, pushing his hair out of his eyes. The color, well, I could boast about that. They were the exact same shade and shape, right down to the barely discernible grey rim around the iris.

"It's almost finished," James said, resting a hand on my shoulder, "I, no, weare so proud of you. More than can be put into words."

"Will it hurt?" Harry asked, and I could hear his heart thump painfully. He was so damn close... But I knew to reach out and touch him would only reveal a hand of no substance, reaching for a warmth it would never feel again.

"Oh, Harry," I breathed, so that only James could hear me. He tightened his grip on my shoulder.

"What, dying? Never," Sirius grinned, hands stuffed in his pockets as always, "Easier than sleeping."

"And Voldemort's going to make it quick," Remus added, "He wants everything over and done with just as much as you."

Harry and Lupin were still talking, but my ears clicked off so that I could focus on the sight of my baby boy.

My son.

I didn't say the words often enough, and resolved to fix that.

"And you're staying with me?" Harry was saying, looking desperately between the four adults that so loved him.

"Through and through," I said, my voice cracking, "Oh, Harry, we'll be right there the whole time."

Harry gazed at me, all business now. But his eyes and heart flickered as he said, "Stay nearby,"

He turned and padded softly into the forest, no longer in any rush. He had all the time in the world to die, after all.

I felt the ache in my stomach as the Dementors approached, and I linked my heart around Harry's. I felt my three friends do the same, entwining to form a chain. It was stronger than any Patronus.

Yes, if Harry was going to die, it would be at the hands of Voldemort, and none else. He deserved the best, after all, I decided bitterly. I felt a twang as James soothed me, his heart thumping next to my own.

A few Death Eaters passed us, talking, but I tuned them out in favor of listening to Harry's breath, his heart, his life. His tread was exact, his feet so large...! I longed once more to reach out and touch him, bu restrained myself. It would only inflict more pain on us both, and now more than ever he needed my bravery.

When Harry entered Voldemort's clearing, excitement echoed in every Death Eater's heart. Even Voldemort's heart, what was left of it, leapt up and down. And my son stood there so bravely, heart thudding frantically now, keeping so cool! James, Sirius, Remus and I had pinched a thread here and there, so that we could not be detected by the human eye anymore. We watched and waited, helpless.

Nearly helpless.

He was ready to die. I felt it within him, a strange, alien feeling that I did not fancy him entertaining.

Oh, my son, I cried in my mind.

When Voldemort raised his wand, we all knew what to do. Nearly helpless. At once, my husband, Sirius, Remus and I retracted our hearts from Harry's and instead darted to the tiny, floating thing just above his breastbone. We carefully wrapped ourselves around most it, our hearts smothering all but one bit: the bit that belonged to Voldemort. We left that part delicately exposed, and strengthened out hold on Harry as the green light, almost as green as Harry's eyes, splintered across the clearing.

I'd never thought I'd have to watch my son subjected to the Killing Curse twice, but here I was. I felt the curse find its way to Harry's very core, smashing the unprotected bit of soul into smithereens. I focused my mind entirely on my heart, linking and weaving it into my friends', and felt shaken but secure. As my son fell to the ground, crumpled, I waited with baited breath.

And then there it was. The gentle, sleepy bump of a heart still pumping life, and the slight stirring of his core adjusting itself to the loss of Voldemort's soul.

My son, how well you have done. I was so glad I could help you one last time.

Chapter 107: Honor
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Honor
by LadyKyra
(Ravenclaw)


 


I try to concentrate on my work. I try not to think about the fact that my work is transporting bodies. I try not to see the faces of the dead as I carry them inside the castle.

I try, but fail.

Instead, I am mourning over the dead. I wonder about what happened to my Gran, who disappeared into the thick of the fighting and who I have not seen since.

A sick thought strikes me. If something happens to Gran, I will be all alone in the world.

Push the thought away like so many others. Keep walking, keep carrying, try not to stare. One foot in front of the other.

My thoughts stray to Harry's cryptic message. He swore that he wasn't giving himself up. I am afraid that he is lying to me. Is he? It is Harry, after all. He would be the person to lie and give himself up so that everyone else will be safe, at least temporarily.

I feel sick just thinking about it. Again, push the thought away. I am blank. I think of nothing.

For once I identify with my parents, sitting in their hospital beds seemingly dead to the world. They are like blank canvases that no one dares to paint on, like empty books that no one dares to fill.

Gran once told me that it would have been preferable if they had died. When I was little I didn't understand that. How would it be preferable that my parents were dead? How could she wish her son and daughter-in-law into the world after life, whatever it may be?

Older, I understood it. My parents deserved rest and peace, and so did Gran and I. None of us could get it while my parents were in this state. None of us could simply walk away from the pain. It is like the parents of missing children; they say that knowing what happened, even if it means death, is preferable to not knowing. With death, there is grieving, and then there is moving on. Without death, there are just photographs frozen in time.

That is my parents. They are frozen in time and numb to the world.

Looking at the dead child I carry in my arms, I sometimes wish I was as well.

When I was little, I would sometimes get angry at my parents. I screamed and cried and cursed them, wondering why they didn't fight back. It was almost like I thought they had given up, that if they had fought back harder, they would still be with me.

In a rare moment of sentimentality, my Gran had held me close and explained that my parents had fought as hard as they could. Even under the pain of torture, even under the threat of death, they continued to fight and refused to beg for mercy or disclose information about the Order. Until the last moment, they had honor.

Gran says that is the real difference between a Death Eater and an Order member. Order members have honor.

As I look at the group of dead bodies as I gently place my charge beside them, I wonder if honor is worth it.

Back out in the hallway turned battlefield again. Another search for fallen victims.

I hear a crash, and blue diamonds pour down around me. The Ravenclaw hourglass has finally broken, the last to do so. I ignore the diamonds that shower down like rain and continue my search.

I stop. Someone is screaming. Something is happening outside.

I don't remember the journey from the castle to the edge of the forest. It was a blur of movement. I do remember seeing Voldemort, then Hagrid, and in Hagrid's hands, Harry's body.

My stomach turns. We're doomed. Harry has given himself up, and with him dies our last hope at defeating Voldemort.

The only thing in my head as people begin to scream is Harry's final words.

I see the snake.

I step forward. I do not remember or even register the words I speak. I am sure they are defiant and crowd-stirring, because I hear cheers. I can only remember my heartbeat in my ears and the piercing fear that threatens to cripple me.

Is this what my parents felt, when they stared death in the face?

Suddenly there is the pain, the fire. For a moment I welcome death, but I do not show it. I do not scream.

If I die tonight, I die with honor.

Like Harry did.

Like my parents would have.

I understand my parents. I understand my Gran and her gruff treatment. I understand death like it is an old friend, coming to comfort me.

I understand honor.

Then, I am free. The pain is gone, and a sword is in my hands.

My parents fought with honor, and so will I.

The sword comes crashing down upon the snake.

It was an honorable battle.



Chapter 108: Promise Unbroken
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Promise Unbroken
by krazyboutharryginny
(Gryffindor)



I cannot believe this.

My family, my friends, and my I-don’t-know-what-anymore (Harry) are all off fighting Voldemort and helping with the cause, and what am I doing?

Why, I’m sitting around uselessly in the Room of Requirement, of course. How ironic.

God, I hate this. I feel sort of pointless right now. And I hate to admit it, but I’m terrified. I don’t know what’s going on outside the room.

How long has it been since the Battle started? Ten minutes? Twenty? I got up and started pacing.

Suddenly, the door creaked open. I whirled around, drawing my wand. There was a flurry of movement, and Harry appeared in the doorway, clutching his Invisibility Cloak in his hand.

“Whoa! Ginny, it’s just me! Calm down!” he exclaimed.

I lowered my wand, a bit reluctantly- I had half a mind to hex him anyway. He was part of the reason I was stuck in this damn room.

“Hey,” I muttered. He met my eyes and I suddenly found it quite hard to breathe.

“Hey,” he whispered back, walking over. Before I could feel anything other than shock, he had wrapped his arms around me, burying his face in my hair. Shivers instantly ran down my spine.

“What- what are you doing?” I croaked. “Why are you here?”

“Sorry,” he muttered, pulling away slightly. “I guess that was a little… preemptive.”

“What’s happening out there?” I asked shakily, resisting the temptation to pull him closer, to hug him back.

“I wish I could tell you,” he said grimly. “Bodies everywhere, but I can’t tell who… no one in your family, anyway…”

I took a shuddering breath and, unable to hold myself back any longer, leaned into him, my head resting on his shoulder, my arms wrapped around his neck.

“I can’t stay in here,” I breathed into his ear, close to tears. “Please…”

“Ginny, no,” he whispered back. “I can’t lose you, too.”

“Please.”

I knew I was begging, and I hated myself for it.

“There’s a reason you can’t go out there, Gin,” he said. “It’s because I...”

I waited patiently as he took deep, calming breaths.

“I- I- I….”

“Yes?” I probed.

He squeezed his eyes shut.

“I love you,” he burst out suddenly. “There. I said it. I love you, and if you die, I will never get over it. I love you, and I always have, ever since I met you, and I was just too thick to realize it, and…. And I always will love you… an-mmm…”

Now, I know it’s rude to interrupt, but if he’d kept going, I would have totally lost it, and I hate crying.

So I kissed him.

Yeah, people say mmm when you cut them off mid-sentence by kissing them.

Good thing Ron wasn’t there to witness that.

“Harry, listen,” I said as I pulled away. I sounded a bit fierce, actually. “I love you, too, but I’m not locking you up and leaving you in the dark to keep you from being killed. I would never do that to you because I know how unhappy you’d be.” I met his eyes seriously. “So why are you doing it to me?”

“I’m not… strong enough.” Harry sounded completely terrified. “I can’t do this, Ginny, any of it! I can’t kill Voldemort and I can’t protect Ron, or Hermione, or- or you…”

“Harry, you don’t need to do all that,” I said, a bit annoyed. “You don’t need to protect me and Ron and Hermione… and you don’t need to kill Voldemort, I’m sure someone else will do it sometime during this battle…”

“No,” he said firmly, shaking his head. “It’s got to be me.”

“Harry, this is no time for your stupid pride!” I cried. “Let someone else finish him off!”

“No, Ginny, you don’t understand.” He was remarkably calm considering our topic. “It’s got to be me. The Prophecy… I am the Chosen One. You know that.”

“Yeah, well, maybe I don’t want to accept it.”

“Yeah… and maybe I don’t either. But I have to. Both of us have to.”

I sighed. “I suppose you’re right.”

“OK.” He raked his hand through his hair and sighed. “I’m going back out now.”

“And I’m coming with you,” I said, crossing my arms stubbornly.

Harry studied me for a moment. “OK,” he said softly. “OK, you can come.”

“I can?” I could hardly believe it.

“Yes.”

“O-kay then, well, what are we waiting for?” I stalked towards the door and flung it open.

Parts of smashed statues lay scattered across the corridor. Suits of armour, magically animated, clanked around shouting battle cries. A Death Eater twitched on the floor, moaning in pain. Otherwise, the place was deserted. Suddenly, I heard loud voices on the floor below us.

Harry came bursting out of the Room just as a group of Death Eaters came up the stairs. He froze, keeping a wary eye on the group. They had been distracted by something at the bottom of the stairs and hadn’t noticed us yet, but we had only moments. He turned to me and looked right into my eyes.

“Ginny, it’s going to be OK,” he whispered in a rush. “I promise, it’s going to be OK.”

“It’s going to be OK,” I repeated, my voice an octave higher than usual.

Harry glanced at me searchingly. “You can go back into the Room if you want to.”

“No!” I whispered sharply. “No, I’m staying, thanks.”

He nodded like he had been expecting that answer, which he probably had. “It’s going to be OK,” he repeated.

“Hey!” someone shouted. Crap… the Death Eaters has finally twigged that we were there. They started to run towards us.

Harry looked frantically between them and me. After a moment’s indecision, he cupped my face in his hands and pressed his lips to mine urgently. The Death Eaters had almost reached us- a few of them were wolf-whistling or laughing. One of them fired the Cruciatus Curse at us- it missed my head by about an inch. Harry pulled away from me and whipped out his wand. I mirrored him.

The Death Eaters were still for a moment, shrewdly calculating their next move. Finally, a tall, thin man near the front of the group said, “Aim for the girl.”

“Ginny, RUN!” Harry yelled as curses began to fly. He shot a few clever Stunning Spells into the group. I ducked a Killing Curse and shot a Bat-Bogey hex at the tall man.

“No!” I shouted, straightening back up. “I can’t leave you to deal with this many people!”

“GO!” He sounded panicked. “Please! I can hold them off long enough for you to get away!”

“Yeah, and what about after that?!”

He turned to me, and to my shock, I saw that he had tears in his eyes.

“Please,” he said. His voice broke. “Go.”

I hesitated. “All right,” I whispered reluctantly.

I swallowed noisily, strangling a sob, and started to run.

…….
“Harry Potter is dead.”

The high voice echoed through the Great Hall and I looked up from Fred’s body in horror.

“It’s not true,” said Ron, sounding totally unsure of what he was saying. “It can’t be. He’s bluffing.”

“Yeah… yeah, that would be just like Voldemort,” said Hermione, clearly trying to reassure herself.

I tried to keep the sound of Voldemort’s voice out of my head, tried to ignore what he was saying about battles being won and kneeling before him.

“Well, I’m going out there to see for myself,” I declared.

I strode towards the door, one of many. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Ron and Hermione look at each other and start to follow.

McGonagall saw him first.

Her scream carried into the entrance hall, bouncing off the walls, and we were all unsure of what we were hearing, if she was being tortured or injured or if our worst fear had been realized.

It turned out to be the third option.

I heard Ron and Hermione scream, the same word at almost exactly the same time. I wondered faintly if now that they were together, they could somehow hear each other’s thoughts.

The fact that he was gone registered slowly. Ron and Hermione told me, hours later, that I’d screamed his name as though hoping he would scream back.

I couldn’t think, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move. Ginny, it’s going to be OK. I promise, it’s going to be OK.

I promise it’s going to be OK.

I promise…

I was vaguely aware that my face was wet with tears, vaguely aware that Ron’s arms were around me, not that that mattered- my brother’s arms were not the arms I wanted. I looked up, trying to focus on his face. He was saying something:

“Ginny, it’s going to be OK.”

Ginny, it’s going to be OK. I promise, it’s going to be OK.

“He promised,” I choked. “He promised.”

I saw Ron glance at Hermione. What do I do? the expression on his face was saying.

“Ginny-“ Hermione began, voice trembling.

“He promised it was going to be OK.”

I wiggled away from Ron, my shock ebbing away to be replaced by anger. I wanted to run up there and strangle Riddle with my bare hands. I wanted to go slap Harry awake, to bring him back. I wanted to do something reckless.

Ron and Hermione were holding me back. I tried desperately to throw them off. Neville was up there shouting something… my ears didn’t seem to be working… and now he was on fire, oh God, I had to help, I had to save him…

But he pulled the flaming Hat off his head and yanked Gryffindor’s sword out… he killed the snake… Voldemort screamed with fury… the battle recommenced…

Much of the second half of the Battle was a blur to me. But there are a few things I remember clearly.

I threw myself into it, wanting to punish the ones who had killed Fred and Remus and Tonks and Harry. That’s how I got pulled into the duel with Bellatrix. She was mocking Hermione about Harry. As soon as I fired my first curse, I knew I was outmatched. Luckily my mum came to save the day. I watched, transfixed with horror, as Mum dodged spell after spell and cheered when her cleverly-aimed Killing Curse finally took Bellatrix down.

And I watched as Harry pulled the Invisibility Cloak off, alive and well.

I watched in elated terror as he spoke to Voldemort, as they circled like vultures.

I clapped my hands over my mouth as Voldemort’s Killing Curse shot towards Harry.

I burst into tears when Harry deflected the spell, as Voldemort keeled over, dead.

And Harry stood there, living, breathing, heart still beating, promise unbroken.

It was then that I promised myself I would never let him go again.

Chapter 109: Change of Heart
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Change of Heart
by Scooterbug8515
(Hufflepuff)



Sleep was one thing that typically did not evade Horace. Of course there were occasions when sleep did evade him but not quite so much as now. He thought his lack of sleep when on the run, just a few years prior, was the worst, but honestly that was a walk in the park compared to the past couple of months. Not only did sleep to seem to evade him but there was a weight and pain in his chest that kept him awake. Not to mention his favorite foods didn’t hold the same taste as it used to.

It all bothered Horace, how could it not? He tried to pretend that there was nothing wrong that it was just an off season, but he knew better, he truly did, but he tried to ignore it. Horace did the best he could with sleep potions and the occasional extra indulgence but nothing helped save for a night of dreamless sleep followed by feeling horrid upon waking. There hardly was any escape, but to pretend nothing was wrong when indeed everything was wrong.

As Horace lay in bed turning once more as he tried to sleep despite the pain in his chest. His hand rested there rubbing she silk green pajamas in hopes to easy away his pain. Perhaps he should try to do with another night cap? But really who was he kidding night caps had done nothing for him for a good while but fill in a place of tradition.

He threw a hand down on his bed next to him in frustration. As he did such, a bright light burst into his room he sat up to see a familiar silver cat standing in his room. He blinked his eyes in the bright light sitting up as Minerva’s voice issued forth from the cat. It was urgent compelling him and the other heads of house to meet up with her.

Once the message was relayed the patronus vanished and Horace was left in the dark, not that it mattered, the words were urgent and he needed to act upon them even if something in the back of his mind spoke of danger. He had been avoiding danger for years traveling from muggle home to muggle home, then he found himself facing danger right there in Hogwarts. He would have fled like he had back in the eighties but it was too late this time around. He had to play along and witness such horrible - no he wouldn’t think on it! He needed to meet with the heads of house everyone was in danger!

Horace lumbered as fast as he feet could carry him. He was located at one of the lower levels and Minerva was located up on an upper level, this was going to be quite the trek but he had to know what was going on. As he lumbered up the stairs as fast as he could go he came across the other heads. They were more quick on their feet than he was. It wasn’t long before Horace found himself panting. There was a reason he didn’t venture to the upper levels of the castle. He was fortunate that most everything he ever needed around the castle was on the lower levels, still he pushed himself panting all the way. He could feel the pain in his chest getting worse but he had to keep going.

When he finally caught up, it was quite a site to behold as his other fellow heads of house took on Severus Snape. Had he heard something about murder? No surely not. What had this place come to? Horace knew the answer to that question but tried to pretend that he didn’t. Of course his voluntary blindness was increasingly more difficult as things continued to unfold before him, particularly when his eyes beheld none other that Harry Potter himself. As he massaged his chest he sputtered his surprise and questions. The answer was the Dark Lord was coming. Horace couldn’t help the groan that escaped his lips, this was not good news in the least, not that he had been expecting any in the first place. As the news and concept sunk in he found that his colleges were actually thinking of going up against him and fighting him. What was this? Madness? Did they not realize the potential danger. Anyone who stood against… Horace could hardly think of it all as his mind seemed to spin. They were putting up defenses already! As his thoughts raced, any color that had flushed his cheeks from the jog up the stairs was now gone.

"My word! What a to-do! I'm not at all sure whether this is wise Minerva. He is bound for fine a way in, you know, and anyone who has tried to delay him will be in more grievous peril -"

Before Horace could finish what he was saying he was cut off and it was assumed that he would try and stop things, and his life was threatened in a way. He was aghast at such an idea. Really! He had no intent! He was simply advising and questioning, rebellion like this wasn't smart! He would have protested more save Minerva spoke with such finality that it put him in a place that he did not expect himself to be in.

"The time has come for Slytherin House to decide upon its loyalties." What did that even mean? Did Minerva insinuate that his house was to blame for all the monstrosities of the year? He certainly was not, nor were his students, but there was a time for action and a time for looking out for ones own self. He tired to make this argument but Minerva was on her way with Harry and that peculiar blond girl in tow.

What was he to do? Horace stood for a moment more before deciding to make the trek back to his common room to gather up his students. He feared that there was going to be hell to pay for all of this, yet the words of Minerva kept ringing in his head. Maybe it was time. He knew where his loyalties lay. Maybe there was a time when one's own personal safety was not worth the cost.

A/N: The quotes in italics come from DH chapter 30 pg 601 -602 Hardback US Edition.

Chapter 109: Remember
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Remember
by long_live_luna_bellatrix
(Ravenclaw)



"Ah, uhmm..." Alice Longbottom sat bolt upright in her bed, dry grey hair falling over her eyes.

"Nev..." the man in the cot next her to her murmured. His eyes flickered open and darted all around the room, focusing on everything and nothing at once.

"'Ogwars?" Alice mumbled, feeling that she was on the edge of a precipice. She tasted the word in her mouth, tapping at it with her tongue. "Hogwartz!"

"Gottufot..." the man whispered, raising his head. Slowly, he sat up too, looking around with a dazed look on his face. He raised a shaking hand up to his eyes and examined it carefully. The wrinkles of his withered palm caught in the light sharply, and he blinked.

"What's going on in here?" a young woman poked her head around the door. "Frank? Alice? Everything alright?"

"Got to fought!" the man next to Alice repeated, "Fight!"

"What's this about fighting?" the lady clucked, "Frank, it's not good for your health to be fighting. Was anyone mean to you, dear?" By then she had reached the man's bed, and was attempting, unsuccessfully, to ease him back down.

"Hogwarts!" Alice piped up, trying to help the man's case.

"What? Oh yes, Alice, your son is at Hogwarts, very good! I'm sure he's doing fine, and learning lots."

"Your son?"

"No your son, Neville!"

"Nevull..." Alice murmured. She swept her hair out of her eyes and noticed for the first time that the young lady didn't look too well. She had odd shadows around her eyes, and her hair looked rather... frightening? Was that the word?

"Yes, Neville, that's right!" the lady said. "Now Alice, let's get you back down..."

But the man leapt out of his bed then, sheeting billowing up wildly. He knocked over the lamp next to him with a loud crash, its base shattering against the cold floor. The lady and Alice both started, and then there it was, clear as day in Alice's mind.

Follow.

Without a word, Alice slipped her feet to the ground and took off after the man, who threw the door open and took off.

"Wait, Alice, Frank!" the lady hurried out after them, and reached for the man's elbow but missed as he jerked away. "Can I get some help over here?" she added desperately, raising her voice.

Two young men and another woman hustled out of a nearby room, shock spreading over their features at the sight of Alice and her partner. "Is this Mr. and Mrs. Longbottom?" the woman asked kindly, although she looked a bit shocked. "What's the hurry, you two?"

"Nevull," Alice said, at the same time Frank replied.

"Fight," Frank repeated.

"Neville? Did your son get into trouble at school?"

"Hogwarts!" Alice said proudly.

"Yes, Hogwarts," the woman looked perplexed. Then Alice's partner leapt into action.

She watched in awe as the scene unfolded before her: her partner lunging forward, grabbing the wand from the young lady behind them, her cry of alarm. The three Healers (for that was what they were called! Healers!) drew their own wands threateningly.

"Now, Frank," one began.

"Stupefy! Stupefy! Stupefy!" Alice's partner cried, and all three Healers fell, but not before one had cast a spell that caused rope to appear out of thin air and pin the man's arms to his side.

"Frank!" Alice cried, as the word came to her mind. Frank was toppling over, the young lady that had checked on them in the first place still watching with shock on her face. The wands clattered out of Frank's grasp, and Alice felt herself automatically reaching forward to grab one.

"Stupefy," Alice whispered, and the young lady fell to the ground as well, without lifting a finger in defense. In one fluid motion, Alice had untied her... husband? They ran down the halls, flimsy cloth gowns flapping, and heard footsteps on their tail. Alice simply had to pause to marvel. She was running. Running! She hadn't run in years!

"C'mon, Aliss," Frank huffed, dragging her along."Alice?"

"Yes," Alice whispered, "Yes, Frank."

They stepped into a small alcove to catch their breath and watched several people stream past, wands out. An idea sparked to life in Alice's mind, born without her prompting. She tapped her husband's head with the tip of her wand, the words floating in her head. And after a moment he disappeared, his body blending into the wall behind him! She didn't need to see him to know he was grinning approval. She tapped her own head, and faded into the background as well.

"Oh, Frank," Alice said, her mind flooded with memory, "My Frank..."

"Alice," Frank breathed, "All I know is that I was asleep, and then my son's― our son's face drifted into to my mind. He was yelling, shouting, saying that we had to fight. He's in trouble, I know it. We've got to find him, and then we can figure out what happened. And remember."

"I remember..." Alice murmured. "Neville, our son. He's at Hogwarts!"

"And he needs us. Let's get out of here. Remember how to Apparate?"

"I remember everything!"


"Oh, Merlin," Frank puffed, "One thing I didn't remember was the long walk to the castle."

"Stop complaining, Frank! We're here! Look at this!" Alice beamed up at the castle, taking in every detail. She promised herself she would never forget anything again. "Neville's in there somewhere."

As the words left her lips, a scream echoed around the grounds, fear simultaneously flooding Alice. As one, she and Frank ran into their old school, and down the halls to where they knew Gryffindor Tower still lay. Alice reveled in the fact that she knew her son's house. He must have told her in a visit to the hospital. She must have been listening. At least some part of her must have heard!

"Almost there," Frank said, rolling up the sleeves of the sweater he'd Conjured up for himself. They were both fully dressed now, and had performed the spell without difficulty. "Right around the corner."

Then the door came out of nowhere and smashed him in the face.

People were pouring out of the sudden new room, whooping and cheering, oblivious to the fact that Frank lay on the floor, out cold. Alice wanted to scream at them all for their ignorance, and began to move towards her husband. But then a tall young man knelt down and touched Frank's face gently. He moved his fingers over the neck and waited for a pulse, then sighed in relief. A single tear dripped down his face as Frank blinked a few times and smiled weakly.

Alice, nearly consumed by the crowd, stepped forward.

"Oh, Neville," she gasped, as her son fell into her arms.

"Mum," Neville sobbed, "Mum, you're back!"

"And I'm never leaving," Alice murmured, stroking her son's hair, "I'll never forget you again."

Chapter 111: Ding Dong!
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Ding Dong!
by Scooterbug8515
(Hufflepuff)



War and battle was about to commence. Everything seemed to move in slow motion. He faithfully followed the Dark Lord through it all, even if Rabastan felt a small form of resentment toward the man, not that he would ever make his opinion clear. The Dark Lord had allowed certain things to go on too long and too far, and Rabastan did not feel it was very becoming of a Dark Lord or a woman. Rabastan knew what it was like to hold the affections of a woman, he had admittedly lost his love long ago but there was a difference between the affections of a single woman and a married woman who did not know her place.

As he and the other Death Eaters waited Rabastan could hardly look in the direction of the Dark Lord seeing as she was there next to him fawning over him like some sick lost puppy. Did she even see her self? Where was such fawning adoration for his brother? No, she demands that Rodolphus be the fawning and adoring one. It was not befitting. She even wanted him as the brother to do the same, which was beyond being out of the question.

As the harpy fawned over the Dark Lord Rabastan could not look in that direction he kept his face as blank as possible which was how he usually found himself. He was almost always a master of his emotions. He did loose it in Azkaban and when he learned of Arrabella Wilkes, no he could not think of it, emotion was a weakness and he tried to abstain from it. Arrabella had been a weakness and she nearly destroyed him. Though if he had the option to do it all over again he would have acted in the same way.

Once things were set and the now dead Potter was in place everyone moved forward. This was the time, the time for battle the time to enter the fray himself. He was non pulsed by it, to live or die was no matter to Rabastan it seemed almost as if he had little to live for yet here he was still living and willing to fight to remain alive. It was funny how that small bit of human nature seemed to play out even for him.

As the scene played out before him Rabastan hardly observed as people still thought to oppose the Dark Lord. It was futile really considering the death of Potter, but there were those that would stupidly fight till the end for what they believed in much like he fought for life and the Dark Lord whom he hardly believed in anymore. It seemed that he remained solely out of habit and loyalty to his brother who seemed all but to forget him.

Though time seemed to move slowly the events that set things into motion seemed to flash before Rabastan's eyes in mere seconds and the battle was at hand he had two student attempt to take him on. They were young and clearly naive. What were they sixteen? Seventeen? He remembered being that young, his brother saying he was too young to join up with the Dark Lord. Yet Regulus the traitor was inducted in before him at a younger age. It was almost as if he own brother didn't want him around, and that thought sparked a rage in Rabastan that he did not know existed. With that rage he yelled out a senseless sound as his wand produced a spell of great power and force. It wasn't that the sound produced the spell but his sudden rage which tore loose from his body. It sent both students flying away from him. Dead or alive were they he did not know nor did he care. That small battle was done and it was time to move on to bigger and better things.

Things continued forward Rabastan taking out another opponent or two before he her. There she was taking on three children at once. He stood and watched a moment as the mother a Weasley if he was not mistaken took her on instead. Though Rabastan hated Bellatrix the battle seemed laughable at best. What would this woman hold against her? He watched on as the battle commenced. It was as if he was not there because none engaged him in battle. That or those around him came to watch as well as this mother was more than likely going to die. It seemed as if her fate was sealed when Bellatrix hit on that rage captured inside that woman and had her fate sealed.

Rabastan looked on with awe as the spell seemed to creep across the sky right into Bellatrix's chest. The look on the harpie's face was shock more than anything else and she was down. Bellatrix was down, she was dead. Her vileness had come to an end. His brother was free of her wicked spell and things might look up. It was practical cause of celebration!

Ding Dong! The Witch is dead. Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch!
Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead.

A/N: Quote from "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" from Wizard of Oz.



Chapter 112: Making a Difference
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Making a Difference
by Scooterbug8515
(Hufflepuff)



It seemed as if the battle would wage on forever Remus was an even match for Rodolphus Lestrange. Each spell sent was was matched equally and blocked in both directions. The way things continued it was going to be a match of who wore out first unless another person became involved in the fight. The likelihood of that at that very moment was slim. Remus just managed to dodge a curse thrown at him. It nicked his arm as he threw the conjuctavis curse in return. He had a feeling it would be blocked and it was. It was a never ending back and forth, which Remus was already growing tired from, his brown hair disheveled blood sweat and dirt mingled together stained his face and patches of his already tattered and worn out robes but that was of no mind to him he was focused on the task at hand.

As he threw another spell as Rodolphus, there was a sudden yell from the side. "Behind you!"

Remus turned just in time to dodge the killing curse that had been sent his way by Antonin Dolohov. In an instant Remus threw a spell his direction and took him out Rodolphus having been caught by surprise by his last spell was attempting to get up. Before he could throw a spell in his direction he was taken out by a spell thrown by young man with an almost familiar turquoise blue head hair who looked as if he should know him, though he'd never seen the young man before in his life.

The young man beamed at Remus before vanishing away into the fray. He wondered where the man ran off too, who he was and where he went. He wanted to thank him for saving his life. If it weren't for him he surely would have been dead at the hands of Antonin Dolohov. Yet there was no time to spend long on that thought as there was still a battle to be fought, there were others who needed help in the battle.

He moved through the mess coming upon a great battle between his wife and Bellatrix Lestrange.

"It will be my pleasure to clean up my family tree!" taunted the woman in black.

"Not if I can help it!" retorted Tonks as she threw a spell at Bellatrix, it was clear that she was weakening, there was a cut across her check that seemed to still be bleeding some, and there was a jagged cut to her hair. It seemed that Bellatrix wanted to take her out piece by piece, and it was clear as Bellatrix threw another spell of the like at his wife. Remus called out a protecting spell to cover his wife.

"Well if it isn't the halfbreed husband coming to the rescue," played Bellatrix in a baby tone. Her look turned suddenly cruel and vicious as she threw a spell Remus's way. He threw up a shield charm of his own but not quite in time to miss all of it. His shoulder was hit and burned fairly badly.

"Remus!" called out Tonks looking to her husband in surprise the violet in her hair wavering.

"I told you not to come!" answered Remus as he threw a spell in the direction of his opponent.

"How could I just sit there and wait? I had to fight!"

Seeing the fire in his wife's eyes despite her ragged look he understood and gave a vague nod as he threw another spell as he dodged another. Tonks joined him in the fight and it was the two of them against Bellatrix. It seemed as if they had the upper hand but she still held strong until Tonks was able to get in a good blasting spell that got Bellatrix off her feet and sent her flying into a wall, it seemed that that was the end of Bellatrix Lestrange and the battle for the time being as the Death Eaters seemed to be called back. It couldn't mean anything good at all. The couple embraced exchanging words of fondness as they rushed off to see where else they were needed, all the while being watched by the young man with turquoise hair who had saved his father, because of a timeturner mishap. Who knew what the future would now hold.

Chapter 113: Beyond Obedience
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Beyond Obedience
by Cherry Bear
(Ravenclaw)




House elves aren't supposed to be brave, or intelligent, or anything all that admirable. They are just supposed to be obedient. Unfortunately, that obedience mostly just extends to their masters; often, when it is most vital, it is also most reluctant.

"Lazy, good-for-nothing servants!" Kreacher snarled. The battle could not have been going on for a long time, and yet it felt like they had been in the kitchens for ages. The Hogwarts house elves sat huddled together at the furthest end of the kitchen, where they had been sitting since the first signs of battle could be heard, and Kreacher would not stand for it any longer. "Our masters need our help up there!"

"Tobey will not listen to you," one of them spat at him. "Kreacher is the good-for-nothing servant, Tobey thinks," He was tall for a house elf, with dark leathery skin, an oddly shaped head, and a mean look on his face. Most of the other elves voiced their agreement with him.

Kreacher resisted the urge to bang his head against the wall in frustration. It was true that he wasn't the most popular with the house elves - some of them apparently still begrudged him for his association with Dobby, who they had scorned, and many of them disliked him merely because he wasn't the paragon of kindness - but he had hoped they would forget their petty grudges and listen to him now, when he needed them most.

"Cooky and Kreacher and Tobey and everybody are just a house elf," a trembling house elf told him, her voice squeaking fearfully. "We can't help, we dregs of the magical world."

"Cooky says we can't help, but Cooky is wrong," Kreacher insisted, attempting to soften his voice for the frightened elf. "We can."

More house elves shook their heads. "We has no weapons," one said.

"We has these!" Kreacher grabbed a butcher knife off of the counter. "And these!" He pointed to the pots and pans that lined the wall.

Before any of the house elves could respond - whether to laugh at the suggestion of using kitchen utensils or to praise him for his genius idea - a loud voice boomed in the kitchen. It was as though the walls themselves were speaking to them, but Kreacher knew it was not so, because he knew that voice.

It was different than he remembered - darker and slimier, certainly - but he recognized it, nonetheless. How could he ever forget the voice of the man who had hurt his most beloved master?

"Harry Potter is dead," the voice said. "He was killed as he ran away, trying to save himself while you lay down your lives for him. We bring you his body as proof that your hero is gone."*

The voice wasn't done talking, but that was all that Kreacher needed to hear. "He lies!" he roared. He was aware that the other house elves were gaping at him, and that some of them were saying something about how he was wrong and they were right, but he knew he was right. He knew the voice was lying; his newest master couldn't be dead. Because, if he was dead, than Kreacher had failed at his job again.

Still clutching the butcher knife tightly in his hand, Kreacher glared at the house elves assembled before him, and raised his voice to be heard over their mumblings. "Kreacher is going up there to fight," he said angrily, taking a deep breath. "Just house elves we may be, but protecting our masters is our duty. Kreacher is going up there to protect or - or avenge his masters, and if he is the only one who does, well, then who is the good-for-nothing servant then?"

A thick layer of silence settled over the kitchen and, giving them one last angry look for good measure, Kreacher whirled around on his feet and stormed over to the exit. As he burst through the portrait of the fruit bowl, he was only dimly aware of the noises behind him - of house elves scrambling to their feet, of knives being snatched off of counters, of servants doing something for the race that had always been their masters, even when they hadn't formally been given orders to do anything.

For his part, Kreacher could only think of two things - or, rather, of two people. Of his two favourite masters: Regulus Black, who had died because of the Dark Lord, and Harry Potter, who Kreacher could not allow to fall to the same fate.

"Fight! Fight!" He instructed the other elves. "Fight for my master, the defender of the house-elves! Fight the Dark Lord, in the name of brave Regulus! Fight!"**

* Taken from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, US edition, page 728
** Taken from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, US edition, page 734


Chapter 114: Spells and Sweets
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Spells and Sweets
by ericajen
(Gryffindor)




The blood was pumping furiously through the veins of Ambrosius Flume as he sprinted towards Hogwarts. With his wife and other shop owners and residents from Hogsmeade, he was frantically trying to make it to the battle taking place at the wizarding school.

They were getting close and he could see the streaming jets of light caused by curses and spells flying through the air on the grounds of the school and picked up his pace, despite the protest of his body. He wanted nothing more than to go and help protect the children who often purchased sweets at his store, Honeydukes.

His cherry wand gripped tightly in his right hand, Ambrosius and other the Hogsmeade wizards descended upon the battle with a flourish. Madam Rosmerta from the Three Broomsticks immediately engaged in a duel with a nearby Death Eater and Madam Puddifoot rushed to help her. Ambrosius’s wife squeezed his hand and ran off to an area where it seemed the wounded were being treated.

Ambrosius scanned over the many duels and battles occurring before spotting a target. He moved forward until he was within good distance of the Death Eater and raised his wand, a determined look on his usually soft and gentle face.

Locomotor mortis, he thought and the spell hit the Death Eater, caught off guard by the silent attack. They locked eyes before the hooded figure swiftly waved his wand over his legs and undid the spell’s damage.

“Stupefy!” the Death Eater cried over the din of the battle and the curse flew towards Ambrosius who managed to cast a Shield Charm quick enough to block it.

“Petrificus Totalus!” Ambrosius returned fiercely, unfortunately missing his target by a long shot.

His opponent managed to hit him with a nonverbal spell, and he felt a sudden intense pain around his midsection. The Death Eater had the upper hand in this duel by a great deal. Ambrosius had never been one for dueling. He had never had much flair for it. The only class he had excelled in during his time at Hogwarts had been Potions, which made sense considering his career as a maker of sweets and candies.

Ambrosius knew all there was to know about making sweets. He knew just what to do to make something work. He knew all the right combinations of ingredients. He knew exactly what would taste good and what wouldn’t. It was second nature to create something like that. It was as easy as breathing to mix together different ingredients and combinations to create something delicious that he could sell in his ship with pride.

The Death Eater was advancing on him, a cruel and twisted smile across his face. His wand was raised menacingly and Ambrosius knew that the next spell would be the last. It would be the one that would end his life. He would never make anything else. He would never find just the right mixture for a new chocolate. He would never use his hands to mix something together. He would never get to see the excited light in a child’s eye as he handed them a box of sweets.

And then it hit him like a ton of bricks. A revelation came crashing over him like a tidal wave. A small, hopeful smile placed itself on his lips as he raised his own wand.

Dueling, he realized with a feeling of pure happiness, was just like making sweets.

With a flourish, he sent a hex to the Death Eater, who took the hit with a surprised look on his face. He hadn’t expected Ambrosius to fight back or to resist the inevitable Avada Kedavra.

“Reducto!” the Death Eater shouted, but Ambrosius blocked it.

Like an ingredient you shouldn’t add to a recipe, he thought triumphantly. He felt elated that he could now treat dueling like he would treat his business. He had to add things that would make it better and keep out things that would deter his success.

“Incendio!” his opponent cried at the ground by Ambrosius’s feet.

Flames erupted around him but he swiftly cast the Aguamenti charm and efficiently put out the fire. With a delighted flick of his wand, he cast the Conjunctivitis Curse upon the Death Eater, which rendered him virtually incapable of dueling.

Happiness erupted in Ambrosius and he let out a triumphant yell at his success against the Death Eater. He had never dueled so successfully before and he felt a profound pride in his work.

He also felt a craving for some chocolate.

----

Beta'd by melian.

Chapter 115: What Is Most Important
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What Is Most Important
by Melian
(Gryffindor)





They were on their way back to the castle. The oaf Hagrid was carrying the body of Harry Potter, making a spectacle of himself with those noisy tears, and the rest of the party were silently following their leader, wondering how quickly those defying them would capitulate upon the sight of their fallen hero.

Lucius felt strangely serene. By now used to not carrying a wand, he sidled up to his wife and reached for her hand. "We will find him soon," he whispered as quietly as he could, hoping she could hear him. "We will find Draco."

"He's alive," she replied, her voice so soft it was almost swept away by the wind. "He's alive."

He squeezed her hand again, admiring her optimism but unable to share it. He did not see how Draco could have survived his latest assignment – to guard a tapestry in the castle in case the Potter boy went looking for it. While he didn't believe that Potter would have killed his son, he was not so sure about others who were fighting against the Dark Lord. To some people, any Malfoy was fair game.

Narcissa gripped his hand fiercely as they followed the dark shape of Lord Voldemort. She too was wandless, having given hers to Draco so that he would at least be armed on his foray into the battle zone. They, it was hoped, would not be disadvantaged by not having their wands. They would not be fighting.

However, things started going wrong almost as soon as they reached the castle proper. The Dark Lord's spells were not holding for some reason, and the Longbottom boy pulled an ancient sword from the Sorting Hat somehow and used it to slice off the head of Nagini. Worse still, Potter's body went missing.

"What happened to Potter?" he asked his wife, hoping the body hadn't been carried away by their opposition. Even in death, Potter still had some leverage.

"He's not dead," she muttered.

He stared at her. "WHAT?"

"Not dead," she repeated. Fortunately their conversation was muffled by the sound of the resistance and they were unlikely to be overheard. "He was breathing. And I asked him if Draco was still alive and he said that he was."

He kept staring. "You – LIED – to the Dark Lord?" He wasn't sure if he was more impressed with her nerve for trying it in the first place, or the fact that she had succeeded.

She nodded resolutely. "Yes. If it would enable me to come here and search for my son, I would do anything."

It was a sentiment he couldn't argue with, and for the first time since they had bade Draco farewell a few hours earlier, he allowed himself to hope that his family could be reunited. At that moment he felt he truly understood his wife – she felt that victory in the battle, in the war, was less important than having the three of them together again, safe and unharmed.

As they neared the castle, he was highly conscious that their lack of wands or weapons of any sort was a major hindrance. Not even the most naive combatant would believe that they would be able to just walk into the castle unassailed, not when they were well known to be in Voldemort's inner circle.

"How will we get in?" he asked.

She didn't need to confirm what he meant – they were both thinking the same thing. "Wait till my sister is distracted," she said. He shuddered a little: Bellatrix, a formidable witch with loyalty ONLY to the Dark Lord, would certainly ask questions about their intentions if she saw them skulking off. "If she and the Dark Lord are both occupied with other things, we might have an opportunity."

"But we can't just walk in the front door," he pointed out, stating the obvious while thinking furiously. "Following on the back of a victorious party, perhaps, but not if they are still fighting." He paused. "We will remove our masks and cloaks," he said eventually. "While we might be recognised for ourselves we won't be seen as Death Eaters. Some people may even think we're on their side." Another pause as he considered his position, including what would happen to him and Narcissa if Voldemort realised what they were doing. "Though they might not be as wrong as they think," he went on.

Narcissa nodded again. "If we stay close to the walls we might be able to move around to find him," she added. "Here –" and she tied a dark scarf around her brilliant blonde hair – "this might fool them for a moment."

"The resistance, or Bella?" he asked quietly.

"All of them," she responded.

There was enough confusion around them for them to be able to slip away unseen and head for the oak doors of the castle. Lucius kept his cloak and hood on until they reached the front steps, because his fair hair would have shone out like a beacon, but once under the shadow of the buttresses he discarded the garment entirely. As he had pointed out to Narcissa a minute ago, it marked him too readily as a Death Eater.

It was chaos inside and they spent a lot of time trying to dodge wayward spells, fighting tables and falling debris, all the while searching for the pale blond hair and pointed face of their son. Up stairs and along corridors, through tunnels and behind tapestries, they searched everywhere they thought Draco might be. They even looked in the Slytherin common room, on the theory that he might have sought shelter there from the tumult above.

Finally, after almost giving up, they spotted him. Just outside the Great Hall, staring transfixed at what was happening in that room, their son was partially hidden by a fallen statue. Narcissa ran to him.

"Draco!" she cried breathlessly. "You're all right!"

"Sshhh," Draco admonished, putting a finger to his lips. "Watch."

They turned and stared at the spectacle inside the Hall. Harry Potter, indeed alive as Narcissa had indicated, was staring down the Dark Lord himself, not far from the obviously dead body of Bellatrix Black Lestrange.

"What's happening?" Narcissa asked.

Draco shrugged. "Potter appeared from nowhere," he said. "Though I don't know what he's waiting for. One of them should just do it." His voice was dispassionate and Lucius worried that their son had become ruthless in his time in the Death Eaters. Proud, he expected. Superior was only to be expected of a Malfoy. Ruthless, however, was too much like Bella. Lucius did not like ruthless.

Suddenly they were accosted from behind. "What's this?" asked a voice, and they turned to see a sword pointed at their faces, its owner – the Squib caretaker, Filch – snarling with disgust. "Death Eaters, unmarked? We might need to do something about this."

He noticed Draco immediately reach for his mother's wand, but he put a hand over his son's and pulled both wife and child towards him. "We're unarmed," he said quickly, holding up both hands. "We just came in to find our son. We're not here to fight."

"A likely story," said Filch, leering a little at them as he waved his sword around randomly. "I should take you to the Aurors. See what they think, having Death Eaters at large."

"I think they might be busy right now," Draco said churlishly, jerking a thumb towards the Great Hall.

"Besides," Lucius added, pulling his family even closer as the scream of Voldemort carried from the adjacent room, "we're not Death Eaters." He realised the truth of the words as he said them, and a smile began to form on his lips. "Not any more."



Chapter 116: Slipped Away
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Slipped Away
by Fluteline24
(Gryffindor)


When you have a twin, you have a blissful ignorance that nothing will ever go wrong, that your twin will always be there to switch places with you, finish your sentences and just generally annoy the hell out of your mother when you were bored.

When you're a Weasley twin and fighting in the middle of a war, everything gets put into a new perspective. The death of the other never leaves your mind, but sometimes it gets pushed to the back burner when there are hundreds of people fighting around you, some of them dying.

George Weasley didn't think that anything would happen to them since Snape attacked him and knocked off his ear when they were trying to get Harry to the Burrow. He had been blissfully ignorant when he and Fred got the message from Luna saying there was a meeting at Hogwarts in the Room of Requirement, and when everyone had been making plans. He thought he and Fred were going to come out of it unscathed, go to the memorials for those who were unlucky enough to be killed, and then joke about the faces of the Death Eaters when they saw their master had been killed.

But ignorance, as they say, is not always bliss.

The battle had started normally enough, or as normal as a battle really could start, and George and Fred were separated, which was also normal to the Weasley twin. Fred was inside the castle with their newly-reunited brother Percy and George was outside with Lee Jordan and Seamus Finnigan fighting the creatures that Voldemort had brought with them. Well, if you didn't consider Death Eaters 'creatures', because George considered them to have the brains of barbaric animals, and, therefore, not totally human like the rest of civilization seemed to be.

"George, watch it!" Lee suddenly shouted, as a claw of an Acromantula crashed in between them, sending both of them flying out of the way.

"Lee, to your left!" George said, sending off a stunning spell to the creature, hoping beyond hope that it would hit and the thing would stop sodding attacking them. Ron had been right- these things weren't average spiders at all.

He suddenly felt bad about turning Ron's teddy bear into a spider when they were kids.

"George!" a voice screamed from behind them. "You need to get inside, now!"

Hermione ran up to them, red-faced, tears leaking from her eyes. George felt both his heart and stomach drop; something was wrong.

"Hermione, what happened?" George asked, gripping her shoulders and looking at her with wide, fearful eyes. "Please tell me everyone is-"

"No, everyone is most certainly not all right."

"What happened? Who is hurt?"

Hermione hiccuped and looked away from him. "Fred. H-he's-"

She didn't need to say anything more. George knew from her not looking at him that Fred was no longer with them. His twin, his other half, his partner in sodding crime was dead, and there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it.

George followed Hermione inside, shoving passed those who were in the middle of fighting and ignoring the jeers and jokes the Death Eaters were making about Fred's death. He would deal with them later. They walked inside the Great Hall, where most of his family had already gathered, his mother sobbing over the body.

His breath caught in his throat, and he sank to his knees by Fred's head. The bastard had died smiling of all things.


Oh sure, Voldemort had been killed as well, and George was happy about it, but it just wasn't fair that Fred had to die along with him. When McGonagall had the bodies moved to the small alcove near the Great Hall, George followed Fred's body.

He found words, not many, mind you, but enough to convey what he wanted to say. "How? How did it happen?"

Percy was the one to respond from behind him, something George hadn't expected. "A wall. It crushed him George. He didn't see it coming; a Death Eater's spell made it fall."

Of all the ways to go. Crushed by a sodding wall.

He and Fred had contemplated death when they were in hiding at Aunt Muriel's, and Fred had hoped that he would have died with Avada Kedavra. George had wanted to go another way- one that involved a creature. He wanted to see a werewolf that wasn't Lupin or Greyback.

He never thought that Fred would really die. It wasn't fair that they had to lose a Weasley. The family had done so much for the war, they deserved to be rewarded, not have to lose someone. Why did karma get it wrong sometimes.

"How am I going to do it Percy? Run the shop and everything?" George asked, somehow managing to rip his eyes away from the corpse and looking at Percy.

"I don't know, George, but I know that all of us will support you. We'll all help you if you need us to," Percy replied. "Even though I don't really like the idea of you running a joke shop of all things and believe you should have a different job… I still support you in it. This is what you love to do after all. You shouldn't stop that dream even if it's going to be hard without Fred by your side."

George nodded in understanding, but he didn't really take Percy's words to heart. Percy didn't understand the bond that he and Fred had. All siblings have bonds, yes, but it's different with twins. You share more than just blood, you hare a heart, a mind, and a soul. A part of George's soul was dead, and he was never going to get it back no matter how hard he tried.

Percy rose. "They're taking the bodies to the cemetery. I'll leave you to say goodbye."

Goodbye? No, there was no goodbye with Fred and George. They couldn't break them apart, no matter what. They couldn't take his brother's body away from him. They couldn't.

"Fred," he whispered, "how could you? Why didn't you defend yourself from that wall? You're a wizard for Merlin's sake. You could have Apparated or something, the wards were down. How could you Fred? What am I supposed to do now that I'm without you? We didn't have a plan for this you idiot!"

Tears spilled out of his eyes, no matter how hard he tried to remain calm. He leaned his head against the cool stone slab his brother's body was on and closed his eyes tight, trying to forget the pain.

When he opened his eyes, Fred's body, the last piece of his twin that he had, was gone.

Chapter 117: The Last Thing
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The Last Thing
by moonbaby11
(Ravenclaw)






The last thing I can remember is darkness. Black engulfing my whole body. The next thing I know, I am lying on the ground. I open my eyes, and blink against the light of the stars shining down on me. They’re very bright at this time of night. I push myself off the ground and onto my feet.

I wonder if the war is still raging on inside or if the battle has ended. I decide to walk inside to see if I can find Ginny, Harry or someone else from the DA. I’m most anxious to see Luna, however. She’s in the same year as I am and she’s just beautiful. Really. Others may call her Loony Lovegood, but I think she’s more lovely than loony.

I race into the castle, wanting to know if Luna has survived. Maybe I can finally tell her how I feel about her. Maybe she can finally learn the truth. I walk inside, leaving the bitter cold and emptiness of the night behind me. Bodies are strewn across the floor and Madam Pomfry is rushing around, attending to the wounded. Firenze, one of the centaurs I had as my Divination professor back in fourth year is lying down, hurt. I watch as Madam Pomfry walks over to him and begins to fuss with his injuries.

“Take this,” she says, holding out a pill to him. He looks up a her, unsure if he should or not. “Take it,” she insists. “It will help kill the pain.” Firenze nods and takes the pill, swallowing it. Madam Pomfry smiles at him, and bustles off to go help another of the injured.

I continue into the Great Hall where all the House tables have returned. People are talking amongst themselves and sitting with others outside of their house. I assume this means the war is over, as almost everyone in the room is crying. Out of sadness for a dead loved one, fear for who might not have survived or joy for what has happened I am not sure. I glance around the large room, trying to find Harry, Hermione, Ron or Luna. I can’t seem to find anyone from Dumbledore’s Army anywhere amongst the many people, so I walk out of the room and into the Entrance Hall. More injured bodies are lying here. I glance around, trying to find a familiar face among them. Lavender Brown is lying on the floor, blood falling from a cut on her forehead. She moans and tries to wipe it away.

I continue down the hall, gazing at all of the unfamiliar faces. Some many people were hurt in this battle, so many people I don’t even know. Some are looking around, as if begging for help from passer-by’s. I almost stop to help one little girl who is groaning for death to come to her, but I don’t know what I’d do to help. I look at her for a moment, but continue walking on.

I round a corner, and there she is. Luna Lovegood, walking in the direction of the Great Hall, her butter beer cork necklace hanging from her neck.

“Luna!” I call out to her. She doesn’t seem to hear me and continues to walk towards the large oak doors that will lead her back into the Great Hall. “Luna!” I repeat. Maybe she’s been deafened by the battle. Maybe she is no longer able to hear. Maybe she hasn’t noticed me since-

“Luna,” someone says, running up to her. She turns around to see Neville Longbottom walking down the corridor to her.

“Hello Neville,” she grins. “It should be a lovely day, shouldn’t it? What with Harry Potter’s victory and all.” So she’s not deaf. Then is she just ignoring me for a reason? Maybe she just doesn’t want to speak with me. I watch as the two of them walk down the hallway together. I step back into the shadows so they won’t see me.

“I can’t believe it’s finally over. Voldemort’s gone. For good,” Neville mutters.

Luan nods. “It’s a good thing, too. Daddy thinks that if Harry Potter didn’t defeat He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named than he would have a lot of angry wrackspurts attacking his brain.”

I silently chuckled at this. Oh Luna, she always did say the strangest things. Not that it was bad though. No, her oddness was one of the things that had attracted me to her.

The walk along the corridor towards the Great Hall, talking. “So, are you alright then?” Neville asks. “I’m surprised you’re not in the Great Hall celebrating with everyone else.”

“I was just helping out Harry. He wanted to be alone. But I’m alright,” she explains. I walk in the shadows, hoping they don’t look over and see me.

Neville nods. “I, uh, I want to show you something.”

“What?” Luna asks, looking at Neville quizzically. I follow them as they walk up to the great oak doors that lead into the Great Hall.

“Just…” Neville pauses and I use this opportunity to slip into the Great Hall with them. I know everyone can see me now, so I casually walk farther behind them. I want to see what Neville is showing Luna. “Over here,” he says, showing her to a door that leads out of the Great Hall into another side room. Neville holds the door open for Luna, and I watch from afar as she walks in. He carefully shuts they door behind him as he joins Luna in the room.

I wonder what he’s showing her, but I figure that they’d notice if I just randomly waltzed into the room they were in. I glance at the door again and notice that there is a window on it. I grin with triumph and walk over to the door to peek in.

I can see Luna leaning over a body. The whole room is filled with bodies lying on the ground in rows. I recognize one of them as the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor we had in my 2nd Year. Lying beside him is a young woman with purple hair. I find it a weird colour to have, but shrug off the thought. A few bodies away is a familiar head covered with red hair. I wonder which Weasley it is that died.

Neville puts a hand on Luna’s shoulder and says something to her. I can’t hear them through the door, but she nods and stands up, wiping her eyes with the back of her sleeve. He helps her to her feet and I can finally get a glimpse of who Luna was crying over.

I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach as I look at the body. It can’t be. It’s impossible. I step away from the door, nearly tripping over my own feet, if that’s even possible. I shake my had, trying to forget what I just saw. It just can’t be true.

I slowly creep forward to the door and look in the window once more. Mousy brown hair. Small. It can’t be. But, it is. Lying there on the ground is me.

I back away from the door once more as Luna and Neville leave.

“Poor Colin,” I hear Luna saying. So she misses me. That’s good, I guess. I wish I could have been a Ravenclaw. Then I could have spent more time with her. Now she’ll never know. Never know that I loved her.

I follow them as they walk to go sit down at one of the tables. I realize that people probably can’t see me, which is why Luna ignored me in the hallway. I’m just a ghost that the others can’t see. I don’t even know how long my extended time on earth will be, unless I choose to be a ghost forever. I don’t think I exactly like that idea.

The two of them sit down at the Hufflepuff table. “Are you okay?” Neville questions.

Luna nods, and reaches up to wipe her eyes. “Yeah, I’m okay. It’s just… he was my friend, is all. I’m going to miss him.”

I smile at the fact that she’s crying over me. I know it’s probably not nice to smile while Luna’s going through all this pain, but it feels good to know she cared about me.

Neville reaches out to put a arm around her, and Luna rests her head on his shoulder.

Suddenly, Peeves comes zooming into the Great Hall, singing at the top of his lungs (if he even has any). “We did it, we bashed them, wee Potter’s the One! And Voldy’s gone mouldy, so now let’s have fun!”

A few people stand up and cheer, but Luna and Neville stay seated. I stand there, watching them. I hope someday she realizes that I loved her. Someday she’ll realize how much I will miss her when I go.

“Luna.” I say her name one more time, just to fell the sweetness of it on my tongue. The lights seem to be dimming, but no one else seems to notice. Maybe it’s just me.

“Did you say something?” she asks, looking up at Neville. He shakes his head no. I gape at her. She heard me. She heard me.

The room is getting darker, and I think it means my time is nearly up. “Luna,” I repeat. “Luna, I love you.” She glances around, trying to find the mysterious voice. I hope she knows it’s mine. I hope she recognizes it. The darkness is clouding my vision now and I can only see one thing. Luna and Neville, sitting together. As a last effort, I reach my hand out, and touch her as the darkness closes in on me. The last thing I feel is my hand on hers.




----
Beta'd by jazzeh turnip.

Chapter 118: Uneven
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Uneven
by Chanel
(Gryffindor)



Loud uneven footsteps echoed in his ears, as he crouched behind a broken statue. His ragged, uneven breathing seemed to tear at his lungs with every breath. He knew he couldn't escape. He knew the end was near. And even though he knew it, he was determined to see her one more time. To see her red hair that he had once held onto. To see her bite her lip in fierce concentration as she decided the right spell. She wasn't his anymore, but he wanted her to be.

The stakes had always been uneven, he had never had the same shot as everyone else. He was quiet, and good with a quill, but it was the loud ones that caught her attention. Oh no. Before this battle was over, he would show her that she wanted him like he wanted her.

A Death Eater ran past and he shot a stunning spell after him, grinning as the Death Eater fell and hit his head on a sharp piece of stone. Then he reprimanded himself for grinning; she would never do something like that. This war was turning him into a maniac, just out for the kill. But that was not it at all, it was one less to fight. It was one less Death Eater that could possibly kill her.

He stood up and ran past the body of the fallen Death Eater, whose whose head was leaking a tiny bit of blood. He could not decide how he felt about it. He was torn. He was uneven.

He ran past classrooms that he had once sat in, wishing for some excitement, and now he found himself in the excitement, wishing to be in the classroom. He came upon the Great Hall, and was surprised to hear close to silence emitting from it. Something was wrong. Something was not right.

He moved closer, taking small silent steps towards the crowd of people. In the center of the Great Hall was Voldemort. On the floor? Dead? He was dead?! Someone moved closer to Voldemort, inspecting the body. He felt a rush of animosity towards the boy who had just saved the wizarding world forever.

Out of the corner of his eye he spotted movement, a Death Eater, pointing his wand directly at the girl he loved and adored.

"Avada -"

"NO!" He yelled, breaking the silence pointing his wand at the Death Eater and shooting off a spell of his own, the first one that came to mind.

"AVADA KEDVARA!"

The Death Eater had turned to look at him, and had a surprised look on his face as the green light hit him and he fell to the ground. Stunned silence filled the room, before clapping began. For him. For everyone who had survived. Maybe the stakes were finally even. So many people were grinning in his direction, and he managed a smile back.

His eyes found hers, wide and beautiful, almost pleading for her to come running to him. And she did go running. Right to Harry Potter. Hugging him tightly. The noise began to increase in the Great Hall, but it was all fuzz in his head.

He watched her wrap her arms tightly around his rival, who really should have been his friend. He watched her touch his face gently and then bury her head into his shoulder. He frowned to himself, despite the glory of having survived, and walked to the opposite end of the Great Hall.

"I never got the chance to tell you how beautiful I thought you were, Ginny Weasley," Dean stated sadly, under his breath with a tear falling down his cheek. He had saved her, but in the end, the stakes always were uneven.

Beta'd by Melian

Chapter 119: Small Packages
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Small Packages
by Ms Malfoy
(Slytherin)




If we do not end war, war will end us- H.G Wells



Leaning against one of the half-standing walls of the Great Hall, I slide down and rest for just a few precious moments. After a last glimpse at those who have fallen in the battle, I close my eyes and I go back to a sight just half an hour before…


The sickly sweet smell of blood wafts to my nose as I feel warm liquid hit my face. Thicker than water, I know it can only be one thing. I close my eyes before I can see what’s happening. I can smell the metallic smell I only associate with blood. I can hear agonising screams, and gut-wrenching moans of grief, and a cold high-pitched laugh I do not want to know who owns. I realise I’m holding my breath, waiting for the liquid to stop hitting my face, wishing the sounds would stop.

I turn my head as at last the spattering stops, my eyes tightly shut, my breaths long and drawn. The noise is still heard, and the chaos is still happening. The cold, shrewd cackle pierces my ears and as much as I don’t want to, I open my eyes. Slowly I turn towards the person whose blood is all over me, in my hair and on my hands and I realise I’m covered in blood. The metallic taste in my mouth won’t go away, no matter how much I spit.

Then I look at the face of the casualty, realising I know them. Everything comes flooding back as I glance around and see a masked wizard lying on the ground. I realise the person in front of me, although almost half my height, jumped in between this Death Eater and I to save me. And I realise nothing will bring this person back, and a strange sound escapes my throat as I lay a bloodied hand on the chest of my saviour. I look down at his body and see his face, his perfect, pale face, is untouched. His lips are turning a sickly blue colour, yet his expression is so peaceful, so content, as if he knew this was his destiny. How he can look so calm in this mayhem, I wonder. When it gets too painful to look at his face- when I know he’s truly gone- I survey his body. It makes me feel sick looking at it, but I know this will be one of the last times I see him and I can’t help but store this in my memory. I want to vomit at the sight, but then something deep inside clicks and I slowly rise, staggering a bit at first, and stumble over to the masked Death Eater a few metres away.

After ripping off his mask, I just stare at him. Anger boils; I feel the need stamp on his ugly head. This horrid excuse for a wizard had killed my best friend. I want to curse him, to make him unrecognisable, but I don’t. Instead I pick up my wand and make half of the mask invisible, and return it to the Death Eater’s face. It all feels so surreal, and I don’t even know what I’m doing, but then I see a purple colour erupt from my wand, and I realise I’m bewitching the mask to the Death Eater’s face with a Permanent Sticking Charm, so everyone can see what he was, and everyone can know what he did. It is an act that leaves me with the slightest feeling of content.

I turn around and see Neville Longbottom and Oliver Wood picking up the body of my saviour. They acknowledge me with a nod of their heads, which I return gratefully. I follow numbly as they begin the long walk back to the castle. We walk up the path, the two boys carrying my saviour with little difficulty due to the size of him…

A tear slides down my face as I turn back to my saviour; now clean of all his previous wounds. They say big things come in small packages, and this statement is so true tonight, of all nights. I lay my hand on the chest of him for the second time tonight, as the lone tear drops onto his shirt and immediately soaks in.

“Goodbye, Colin Creevey,” I whisper, turning my head away.



Chapter 120: Her Last Breath
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Her Last Breath
by Slytherangoddess
(Slytherin)




She had been battling hard, trying to fight her way through the masses to achieve their goals. Once or twice she passed her mother and ducked out of the way, making sure not to be seen so she wouldn't have to go back to the Room Of Requirement and wait, not knowing anything that was going on.

Then again, it might be incinerated. Who knows? She thought.

The battle had let up about twenty minutes ago at You-Know-Who's orders. He pulled his Death Eaters back in hopes that Harry would come to him on his own. If he didn't, everyone in his way would die.

Ginny walked slowly from the path by the boat house up to the entrance of the Great Hall. Somehow she managed to make it all the way there and not see a single soul. Just up ahead were Neville and Percy. They were carrying another body- a first year, it looked like. Over off to the side, under a pine tree, was a seventh year Hufflepuff. She was doubled over herself crying. Ginny walked over to her and noticed she was holding her side, blood running through her fingers and staining the ground below. She knelt down and put her hand over the girl's just as Harry had done for her in the Chamber of Secrets, hoping maybe she could save this girl like he did. But nothing was happening.

"Shh. Just stay still. It'll be okay. We'll get you some help." Ginny told the Hufflepuff. Oh my gosh. There's so much blood. Oh my gosh.

The girl started whispering to herself, then out loud. "Mom. I should have gone home. Mommy. Mom."

Ginny looked at the girl, hunched over on the ground. "It's alright. It's okay. We're gonna get you inside"(1)

"But I want to go home," whispered the girl, "I don't want to fight anymore."(2) She began to cry even harder, now. She rolled over onto her back and jerked with every sob.

I can't leave her to get help. Ginny thought. "I know. It's going to be alright,"(3) she told the girl as her voice broke. She knew very well that for this girl, it wasn't going to be alright. She looked at her wound. Cursed. Sectumsempra by the look of it. The only one to fix this was Snape and who knows? He could have been the one to do this.

Defeated she looked out into the early, early morning. There was no one in sight. Ginny looked back at the girl whose breathing was becoming shallow and whose eyes have closed. She took her hand. I wish I was as smart as Hermione. She'd know what to do right now. Or even as strong as Harry… The thought cut her like a knife. A tear rolled down her cheek. Harry… Where are you?

Even as she thought it, her head whipped around hoping that her wish to see Harry would produce him out of thin air. But the now lightening sky was not so friendly in her favor. The lawn was as empty as her heart was feeling. He was not there though she knew, that he was thinking about her. Ginny just wished she could conjure him at her side for real.

Looking down at the girl, her heart sunk. She was barely moving and her shallow breathing had minimized to almost nothing. "Mom?" The girl asked, slightly squeezing Ginny's hand. "Mom?"

Ginny's once single tear, multiplied by a thousand as she wept silently. Her voice faltered as she spoke the last words this Hufflepuff girl would hear. "She's… She's on her way. Just lie still. Everything will be alright." Ginny pushed a stray hair out of the girl's eyes and rubbed her head. "You're safe now."


(Lines 1-3 taken from J.K. Rowling's Deathly Hallows pgs 696-697)

Chapter 121: Everything Will Be Just Fine As Long As We Got Friends On Our Side
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Everything Will Be Just Fine As Long As We Got Friends On Our Side
by slytherangoddess
(Slytherin)




Light bursts flashed all around as the battle picked up where they thought to be the end. Neville had just cut off Nagini's head and everyone began dueling again. It was pandemonium like no one had seen before. At least at the beginning of the battle, friends and foes alike knew what was about to happen. This time the fight sprang out of nowhere.

Luna Lovegood watched on from toward the back of the chaos as it erupted. All bets were off this time as twice as many killing curses were cast from the wands of Death Eaters and Hogwarts fighters alike. She soon found herself joining the battle along with everyone else and cast a Protego between a renegade curse and Ernie Macmillan, knocking him back out of harm's way.

People were retreating into the great hall, dueling and running all at the same time. Three thestrals charged through the crowd, knocking over Death Eaters. One of them ran towards Luna as she was turning to run toward the entrance of Hogwarts. With a quick flash-bang of light, the young thestral lay at Luna's feet. She knelt down, softly touching the creature's unmoving body. She looked up to see Walden Macnair, the same man who held her in the Department of Mysteries, grinning. Luna stood and shouted "STUPIFY!" at the man while retreating to the Great Hall. Macnair chased after her into the entrance hall, but was barely able to point his wand and begin "Ava…" when he was picked up from behind by Hagrid and thrown into one of the pillars lining the wall knocking him on conscious.(1)

Luna looked back at her aid. "Thank you, Hagrid," she said with a smile then continued into the Great Hall. She barely got to take in her surroundings when she heard "Luna! Look out!" from her left. Ducking just in time, the jinx that would have put Luna in a fully body-bind whirred above her head smashing a window behind her. She immediately rebounded by joining those who called to her and sending jinx after curse and curse after jinx at Bellatrix Lestrange. Hermione Granger and Ginny Weasley stood at her side, all taking turns putting up defensive spells while sending offensive spells at the laughing Death Eater.

"Duro!!" Luna roared at Bellatrix. Her spell though done correctly fired past its intended target and blasted into an unknown Death Eater across the Hall, turning him to stone.

Bellatrix exploded with laughter at her opponents. "You dare fire that at me? You blonde little twit! That's far too advanced for you three. Why don't you babies go back to practicing in that little play group of yours?" She cackled again and sent a powerful curse toward the three young girls who dove off to the side, narrowly escaping. Luna picked herself up from the ground to witness a bright red light streamlining at her and Ginny, who had fallen almost on top of her. She pulled Ginny down and the curse that would have ended either of their life slammed against the wall.

Before Luna could blink, there was a horrendous shriek and Mrs. Weasley bounded into view yelling at Bellatrix. "Not my daughter, you bitch!!"(2)

Luna watched in both awe and horror as her best friend's mother dueled to kill right in front of them. It was though she was watching a silent movie. Everything was so loud it seemed to deafen her into silence. Then it happened, Bellatrix made one wrong move and underestimated the power of a vengeful mother. Mrs. Weasley, though no one heard her yell out, charged her foe with the killing curse and Bellatrix's face contorted in horror at the one who caused her end.

Picking up Ginny and helping Hermione to feet, Luna stood abruptly and spun on the spot to the sound of everyone gasping in surprise. Ginny seemed to falter in Luna's grip as she saw the spectacle of everyone's attention. "Oh!" Luna began. "It's Harry. Won't You-Know-Who be surprised!" She let Ginny go and followed her and Hermione to the invisible ring where everyone stood, watching Harry and Voldemort circle eachother.

Luna looked on, attentive to the fullest at the sight unfolding before the entire Great Hall. The battles had ceased. Luna walked forward and stood between Hermione and Ginny. Without keeping her eyes off of Harry and Voldemort, she squeezed their hands. "Harry's going to win, you know. Everything will be alright."



(Scene (1) and spoken line (2) taken from J.K. Rowling's Deathly Hallows, pgs 735 and736)



Chapter 122: Just a Chaser Playing Quidditch
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Just a Chaser Playing Quidditch
by ronhermione4evr
(Gryffindor)



“Huh?” Alicia Spinnet felt a burning feeling coming from her pocket. She reached in and pulled out a gold galleon.

Oh, no. Alicia quickly flipped the coin with a sickening feeling of dread in her stomach. On the back words were materializing.

Hogwarts under attack. Requesting back up from DA immediately.

No! How did You-Know-Who get there so fast? It was just yesterday where she’d talked to the new leaders of Dumbledore’s Army (Luna, Neville, and Ginny). They’d assured her that the school was fine and protected.

Alicia quickly got up from the table where she was drinking a cup of tea. She walked over to the side of the room where she kept her broom. If Death Eaters could get in, then so could she. There must be no more protective enchantments around the castle.

Alicia had another idea and took a pinch of Floo Powder from the fireplace. She threw it in and yelled, “Angelina!”

A few moments later, Angelina Johnson clambered out of the fire, coughing and holding up her own gold galleon which showed the same words that Alicia’s did.

Angelina’s face was grave. “We have to get there immediately.” She proclaimed, shoving the galleon back inside her pocket. She then pulled out her broom from the fireplace. It seemed like she had had the same idea that Alicia had; to fly to the Hog’s Head and use the passage that led to the Room of Requirement.

“Let’s go!” The pair raced onto the lawn, mounted the brooms, and took to the sky. Even though the night was clear, a large wind blew, making them go a little faster.

They stopped outside of the Hog’s Head. They nodded to Aberforth and made their way to the back of the pub, where the passage to the Room of Requirement was.

As soon as Alicia stepped in, she looked around for a moment. The last time she’d seen this room, it was full of pillows and books on Spell Theories. Of course, back then it was Dumbledore’s Army’s practice area, while it was the DA headquarters right now.

Everyone standing inside looked horrible. They had bruises, and black eyes, but they still looked strong enough to fight.

And standing in the middle of the room was the trio; Harry, Ron, and Hermione in their full glory, looking even worse for wear than the people who lived in the Room of Requirement. Alicia noticed that many of their classmates had arrived. There were the Weasley Twins standing with Lee Jordan; Katie Bell; and even Angelina and Alicia herself.

Harry was yelling for them to quiet down now. He was describing something called a diadem. And now Luna was leading him to the Ravenclaw Common Room.

Time seemed to either slow down or speed up. Maybe this was just how war was, Alicia thought. Maybe you’re too nervous about protecting the people you love to pay attention to time correctly.

And it was either a few seconds or a couple hours later when Ron was yelling what to do.

“Ravenclaws!” He shouted. “You split up and one group can take the West side and Tower while the other takes the East. Hufflepuffs can protect the North and South sides. Fred, George, Lee, you three barricade and seal all the passages in and out of Hogwarts except for this one-“ Here, Ron jabbed his finger backwards to indicate the Hog’s Head passage. “Gryffindors, fight wherever there is the least protection or the most Death Eaters. Now let’s go fight!”

And soon even Ron and Hermione were off to find something.

Angelina and Alicia led the first flank of Gryffindors to the Great Hall. Due to its size, there was no doubt that eventually this place would become the heart of the battle.

“You lot! Cast some protective enchantments on the window!” Alicia yelled to a group of seventh years.

Angelina and Alicia were still gripping their brooms tightly. They were sure we were going to need them, or maybe just being back at Hogwarts reminded them of Quidditch. Either way, they weren’t letting go of their brooms.

In all the chaos, there was suddenly a minute of silence. Angelina and Alicia exchanged glances, both too scared to break the silence around them. And then there was a giant crash and it was over. Alicia could actually feel the Protective Enchantments break around her.

A load of Death Eaters suddenly stampeded into the Hall in a flurry of black cloaks and Stunning Spells. The Gryffindors immediately started to duel, but had to stop and shield their heads when the Death Eaters exploded a large sculpture depicting a bridesmaid.

You come to my school, hurt my friends, and trash the place? Alicia was suddenly getting angrier by the second. She stepped off the floor and growled at the nearest Death Eater, sending a neat Stunning Spell at her.

Alicia had another thought. She jumped onto her broomstick and flew upward, despite Angelina screaming that Alicia was just trying to get herself killed. Up here, she could see the whole battlefield. Whenever someone needed help, Alicia was there to stun the Death Eater.

By now, all the Death Eaters had discovered Alicia near the ceiling and were sending Stunning and Killing Spells at her.

Move, roll, duck, turn. Move, roll, duck, turn. Move, roll, duck turn. Why did these actions she was taking to avoid the spells seem so familiar?

And then it hit Alicia. Quidditch! How many times had she had to execute these maneuvers in a Quidditch game to avoid bludgers? How many times had Oliver Wood pounded this drill in her head? The war suddenly got so much simpler!

And it was with new strength that Alicia aimed more Stunning Spells to protect her classmates. It was because she was just another chaser, playing just another game of Quidditch.

And so Alicia flew out of the Great Hall, looking for more people who needed the assistance of this Chaser.


Useless
by ronhermione4evr
(Gryffindor)




Of course Nick got that feeling of not being either wanted or needed. Everyone did, at one time or another. But this was different.

Nearly Headless Nick was standing in the middle of the battlefield, doing absolutely nothing.

Spells were being cast around him, but everything sailed right through him. People he knew were dying right as he watched. And what was Nick doing to help? Absolutely nothing.

Professor Trelawney was throwing Crystal Balls at Death Eaters, Suits of Armor were battling, and even Peeves was dropping Snargaluff Pods on unsuspecting people. Nick didn’t know what to do.

He couldn’t very well pick up a sword and run it through the nearest Death Eater. No, the sword hilt would just sail right through him. He couldn’t pick up a wand, let alone cast a spell. And throwing things at people? That was still out of the question.

Nick watched helplessly as a werewolf attacked a seventh year girl. An underage boy who had once been petrified was killed right next to him.

What were all the other ghosts doing at the moment? Nick floated towards the staircase, where a bunch of them were clustered. While they looked horrified, they couldn’t do anything to help. The Bloody Baron watched with bloodshot eyes, but Nick noticed the sorrow in them. This was new, as the Baron had never shown any signs of emotion.

The Gray Lady was weeping silently in her corner. Nick knew the secret of her past, and the Bloody Baron’s as well, so it was no wonder she was horrified to see the building her mother had helped create being destroyed.

Nick did a quick head-count of the assembled ghosts. He noticed that one was missing: Moaning Myrtle. Nick groaned. That girl was probably still crying her eyes out in that bathroom of hers. Well, at least he could save a few students from witnessing the horror of Moaning Myrtle.

Nick floated through walls until he reached her bathroom. Around it, the floor was wet, and Nick had a quick flashback from five years ago, from the night the Chamber of Secrets had been opened and Miss Norris petrified.

“Myrtle? Are you alright in there?” Nick called, thinking that the water on the outside floor had been from her tears.

“Yes! I feel the best I’ve felt in years!” Myrtle yelled back to him. Nick was now alarmed. How was Moaning Myrtle alright? She’d been crying every day for the past fifty years, and now in the middle of the war, a time to cry, she was happy? Nick shook his head and sighed as he went in.

And suddenly he understood. There were 3 unconscious Death Eaters lying on the floor. Myrtle must have flooded the bathroom so that the Death Eaters in the hallway would slip while running. A student was now tying the Death Eaters to the wall with a charm that could only be broken by the caster.

“Myrtle, you’re a genius!” Nick cried.

Myrtle narrowed her eyes with suspicion. “You’re mocking me, aren’t you?” She asked him.

Nick shook his head rigorously. “No, certainly not. I’m going to go round up all the other ghosts and find some way for us to help.” He floated outside glumly.

Nick wasn’t sure whether to be happy or sad. A ghost had managed to be useful, but then again, he hadn’t been that ghost.

He was so depressed that he didn’t notice a Death Eater running that way until Nick sailed right through him. Many students had told him that it was very cold when Nick walked through them, so the Death Eater twitched as Nick touched him. It may have been luck, but then the Death Eater’s foot slipped on the water, and he landed down headfirst.

The student who had been tying up the Death Eaters ran outside and stunned this one before he could get up.

Nick felt stronger. He had helped take down a Death Eater! True, it had only been one, but know he understood his task.

He went back to the stairs, where all the terrified ghosts were still huddled.

“All of you find a bathroom!” Nick ordered. “We’ve got to flood them!”

And as the ghosts flew away to their assigned bathrooms, Nick smiled. Maybe he wasn’t so useless after all.

And so the ghost turned and flew back to Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom, ready to trip another unsuspecting Death Eater.



Chapter 124: The Fat Lady Strikes Back
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The Fat Lady Strikes Back
by ronhermione4evr
(Gryffindor)


 

CRACK!

“Oh!” The Fat Lady squealed, ducking as a spell shot over her head. She didn’t know what to do. The Death Eaters were now trying to hurt the portraits, just for the fun of it. And they were throwing knives at the Fat Lady.

The edge of the portrait was getting cut off and ripped, and the Fat Lady was reminded of the time her portrait had looked like this, nearly 4 years ago, when Sirius Black had entered the castle. She had been just as helpless back then, but what else could she do?

She’d tried to comfort the other portraits when this tormenting started. The lady in the frame near her was sobbing, the baby she was holding was shrieking from pain. Other portraits had fled, only to be trapped somewhere else. It pained the Fat Lady so much to see her fellow portraits like this, but she could barely protect herself, let alone anyone else.

And what were the students that she had always guarded doing? They were dodging spells, killing, and being killed. How could students, so young, be battling these Death Eaters, while the incredibly old Fat Lady herself was hiding behind the edge of her picture frame?

“Stop it! Stop it at once!” She howled at the Death Eaters. Her tormentors stopped for a moment and looked up at her.

“What will you do if we don’t stop?” One of them asked.

“I’ll go to Dumbledore about this, I swear I will!” The Fat Lady shrieked before she could stop herself, as if she was just reporting Peeves or another misbehaving student.

If Dumbledore was alive, then this battle would have already been won. The whole school would already have calmed down, and no one would be dead. The thought of Dumbledore being alive would have comforted her, but he wasn’t. They were alone.

“Dumbledore’s dead,” A Death Eater growled at her. “And he ain’t comin’ back either. It’s just you and your little school children now.”

The Death Eaters couldn’t hurt her. She was a portrait, she couldn’t die! Yet the Fat Lady swelled. She was not one to take hurt to her pride so easily. “My school children are much more courageous than you are,” She said, her voice starting to rise from anger. “They are battling some of the darkest witches and wizards in History, while you lot are standing her, tormenting and arguing with portraits.”

The Death Eater’s face flushed, and he conjured up another knife and threw it at her. This time, the knife pinned her dress to the picture and even grazed her skin, but the Fat Lady didn’t care. No one insulted those students she protected and got away with it.

“And how are you helping, then?” The Death Eater snarled. “Are you out there, helping to defeat the opposing side? No, you’re sitting in a picture frame, all helpless, with not even a wand to defend you.”

This time, it was the Fat Lady whose face flushed. He spoke truth, and she didn’t know what to say to that, but her pride had been insulted, and she had to do something about it.

The Fat Lady quickly thought back to years before, when life seemed pretty normal for the school and all the students in it. What had she heard them say was her most dangerous weapon? Ah, yes. Her voice.

She knew that she wasn’t a good singer, and that was why the students always cringed when she began a new song. However, she did know that her voice could break glass when it went high enough, and that was exactly what she wanted at the moment.

The Fat Lady closed her eyes and began a song that was from the Italian opera. All the Death Eaters near her look stunned. They turned around, looking for the source of that horrible screeching, and they finally realized it was only the Fat Lady.

“Shut up!” A Death Eater yelled at her, but the Fat Lady only sang louder, keeping watch over the glass in the window. It had started to quiver, and that was exactly what she had wanted.

And with one last horrible, high-pitched note, the glass shattered all over the Death Eaters.

The Fat Lady smiled smugly, and flitted to the portrait next to her as she looked for more windows, and more of those Death Eaters as well.



Chapter 125: The Curve
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The Curve
by kaityb
(Slytherin)




Her hands trace over the thick wood that lines the window, her nervous fingers knotting together whilst her eyes focus on the horizon. In the distance, she can see the army dancing towards them, their spells and shrieks of glee lurking across the to-be war barren plain that for now remains as the untouched grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The world is not right anymore, the line between good and evil, the balance, it has shifted, and now it takes on a new form. The line is curving and fading and she is no longer sure where one side meets the other. They are so close now that their heads collide with their foes, fighting to shift the curve back to a straight line where everything is clear. She cannot bear it. She feels as though she is being watched permanently these days, the small hairs on her back forever standing on end. Her books are not enough comfort anymore, she can no longer relish in their knowledge. Fear haunts her every waking moment and when she dares to rest her heads it creeps into the corners of her slumbering mind.

She yearns for the curve to reform and straighten, for things to be how they used to be, simple and not tampered. It had been so much easier when those who now fought had been her students or classmates, their minds still innocent, free of the ties that now strung them together so tightly. They had never dreamt of it coming to this, a man so close to her own age playing them all like puppets. She wonders if she squinted tightly enough, if she could see the strings. He has brought them into a war and played them against each other on his own bidding, his control is so vast that they had not realised each of their own moves was his own bidding. Some have died already, the Potters and Longbottoms alike, but did they died as heroes or in vain? Had they been as simple as another obstacle the dark lord had planned and overcome? Were any of them really heroes at all?

She knows the end is coming, and whilst she fights to keep the hope in her eyes and the hardness of her lips, deep instead her she aches and shakes with fear. She knows they have little to no chance of pulling through and remaining a united force, surely the darkness would prevail. The curve will twist, circling around them and it is closing in. Her students and those who have aligned themselves with her and the boy who would save them all, will slowly pledge their allegiances to the other side, if not die in protest. Their hope for survival and for setting things right was slowly dying, fading, slipping from their grasps. She could see it in their eyes in classes, even in their exams. No longer was it the nervousness of failing that worried them but the dark corridors and the war that had begun to cling suffocatingly to the gates of the school that safe harboured them. They knew that they would not be safe forever. The curve is twisting.

In the distance there is a torrential boom and she sees the ribbons of a emerald green curse snake up into the sky, twisting and changing until they form his sign.

The war is here.



Chapter 126: Full of Surprises
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Full of Surprises
by slytherangoddess
(Slytherin)




Hermione elbowed Ron in the ribs. No one was looking and everyone was too busy thinking about what Harry was doing. This would be the time. No questions. It would be finished. "Ron," Hermione whispered.

Ron looked over at her. She was craning her neck to the left. He nodded and they made their way to the door but not before they ran into Ginny.

"Where are you two going?" She hushed, noticing quickly that they didn't want to be followed.

"Bathroom," Ron said, nonchalant.

Ginny rolled her eyes. "Oh come on. Both of you need to go? At this time?" She crossed her arms and quickly laughed.

Hermione was the first to defuse the situation. She knew where Ginny was going with this and she knew that she wouldn't stop until she knew exactly where they were going. "Look Ginny, we are going to a bathroom but we can't exactly tell you which one or what we're doing. Stop giggling. Just don't tell anyone where we went except Harry, okay?" She realized how awkward that must have sounded and let out a little giggle, herself.

"Okay, Hermione. I won't. But you have to promise me you'll be safe and that you'll come back."

Hermione nodded. "Okay. Let's go." She left a lingering look on the Room of Requirement, wondering how difficult it would be to get back to those who in habited it.

Ron tugged Hermione's hand and they snuck through the main door. To their utter horror, they ended up on the fifth floor of the grand staircase. The girl's bathroom was on the second floor and they were nowhere near it. They emerged from a small door behind a hanging drapery and Hermione began onward. Snape strode toward them muttering to himself and Ron quickly grabbed Hermione's arm, pulling her back to him and out of the sight of an angry Snape.

Slamming into Ron's chest, she looked up at him, annoyed. Ron furrowed his brow and shook his head, mouthing "Snape." Hermione's eyes went wide and locked onto Ron's as Snape passed the drapery. He headed up towards a spiral staircase and out of sight. Both Ron and Hermione let out a large breath and instead of bolting from behind the drape, they looked and listened for anyone else that might foil their plans, especially Peeves.

Finally deciding it was safe, they emerged from the security of the drapery and headed down the moving staircase. Arriving at their location proved to be a bit easier than they had expected, not seeing any lingering staff or prefects. Where was everyone? Hermione wondered.

They walked into the girl's bathroom on the second floor and for the first time, the eerie feeling they encountered was not because of Myrtle's presence. In fact, she was nowhere to be found. It was as if the whole castle was vacant and they were the only ones there.

"Okay, Hermione. We're here. Now what?" Ron asked. "I don't know how to open it. You have to use Parseltongue, but only Harry knows how to do that."

Hermione furrowed her brown in thought. "Well did he have to say anything specific? Because if that's the case, we're out of luck."

Ron tried to remember that far back. He couldn't remember exactly so he just began hissing at the faucet in several different ways. Surprisingly enough, the sinks began to shift right in front of them. Hermione smiled. "You did it!!" She took a step forward, ready to jump down the dark hole when Ron stopped her. "What? Let's go!"

"Hermione, the last time we went down there, we had Fawkes to fly us back out. There's no exit, otherwise." Ron told her, but she was already digging through her pouch up to her elbow. "Let me guess, you have a broom in there, don't you?"

Hermione pulled out a broom that Ron would recognize as one from his shed at the Burrow. "Of course I do." She replied.

"Honestly, Hermione, is there anything you can't do?" Ron said as he kissed her on the cheek and plummeted into the dark opening. Hermione stood at the top waiting for his call be fore jumping in, smiling from ear to ear.



Chapter 127: Jealousy in The Face of Danger
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Jealousy in The Face of Danger
by slytherangoddess
(Slytherin)




My pocket was burning. Against my left leg, the fake galleon from Dumbledore's Army was red hot, which meant a message was coming through. I took the round metal piece out of my pocket and looked at the summons. Harry's back. We fight.

I promised myself that, no matter what, I would help when the time came. This is the time. This was the moment. I grabbed my wand from the side table, silently walked to the kitchen and kissed my mother's cheek. She knew exactly where I was going and why I had to be there. I then disaparated to the Hogs Head, where I met up with a bunch of Gryffindors. Lee Jordan was there along with both the Weasley twins and … Ginny.

To say I was jealous was an understatement. I never really fully got over him because I know now that in those days with the DA, he had a lot on his plate and I wasn't helping anything by needing so much. I know things had ended oddly between Harry and me, but to end up with her was something I did not expect. She was the younger sister of his best friend and… I'm a way better seeker. Okay so that was a little underhanded, I'll admit. Who knows? Maybe I'll get a chance to talk to Harry and apologize for that time in Madam Puddifoot's Tea Shoppe. I was kind of paranoid.

I walked through the portrait behind Lee Jordan into the Room of Requirement. There were hangings everywhere with bunks lining the walls. But all of that paled in comparison to the sight of Harry. It seemed like he was as shocked as I was that I came. But his shock seemed to die on his face as he turned his attention back to Ginny. It hurt, I won't lie, but I took a seat next to Michael Corner and listened on. At least he was happy to see me.

After a while I began to hear words directed to Ravenclaws about the Lost Diadem. I knew exactly where a representation was so I stood and offered to take Harry up to Ravenclaw tower. Maybe then we could talk and clear the air between us. Everything was going fine and Harry was taking out his cloak, ready to go when Ginny put a halt to the whole thing. She didn't just suggest that someone else took Harry, but demanded that Luna take him. When Luna agreed, I sat back down, upset that once again she got in the way. I should have known that was going to happen.

It's just not fair that I don't get my chance. I don't know why Ginny is so scared to let him talk to me. I just want to set things straight but it looks like that's not going to happen. I guess that's okay because this war is far more important than our petty little problems.

We sat in almost silence for a while until Harry and Luna came back from the tower. He then spoke the words that we were all waiting to hear, "Everyone's meeting in the Great Hall to organize. We're fighting."(1)

*(1)J.K. Rowling's Deathly Hallows, pg. 604



Chapter 128: A Goodbye Kiss
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A Goodbye Kiss
by moonbaby11
(Ravenclaw)




Where was he? Susan Bones ran down the hallway, trying to find him. He had sworn to her that he wouldn’t get hurt. They had promised each other that they would live through it so that they could be together after Harry had won.

Harry, however, had not won. Susan had watched as Hagrid carried the lifeless body of their hero into the Great Hall. She had ran out of the room as fast as she could, hoping to find him and see him one last time before Voldemort took over the whole wizarding world.

She raced past the dozens of bodies lying on the floor, some dead and some moaning with injuries. She skidded to a stop as she noticed a familiar face among the bodies of the fallen. Ernie Macmillan, fellow Hufflepuff and Dumbledore’s Army member. She looked at his face, which was frozen with a smile. At least he had died happy and not in pain. She wondered if Hannah had already seen the body of her friend, or if she had yet to know that he had not survived the war. Then again, since Harry was dead, Susan assumed that none of them would end up surviving the night.

She looked at Ernie one more time, but had to keep moving to find who she was looking for.

“Goodbye,” she whispered to him, before walking away, not wanting to turn back and look at all of the other wizards and witches who had lost their lives towards a hopeless cause. It was all over.

Susan sighed, but continued walking, trying to find him. She turned a corner, glancing around to find him. There were a few more bodies along that corridor as well, but no one that Susan recognized.

Then, she saw him. He was leaning over the body of someone, holding their hand. “Sh,” he was whispering. “You’ll be alright, I promise.”

Susan approached him slowly, trying to see who he was comforting. As she drew nearer, Susan noticed it was a girl with dark hair and a tear-stained face. At a closer look she realised it was Cho Chang, a student a year above her.

“Cho, it will be okay. It’s almost over. Then we can get you help,” he was saying, comforting Cho. She nodded through tears.

Susan reached out and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around and gazed up at her. “Susan,” he said, smiling. “You’re okay.”

“Yes, Anthony,” she replied. “I’m okay.”

Anthony grinned even more. He reached down to pat Cho’s hand and said, “I’ll be right back.” He stood up and led Susan away from where all the fallen students and Death Eaters were laying.

“You’re safe,” he smiled, enveloping her $into$ a hug.

“And you’re safe too,” replied Susan, hugging him back.

“Don’t worry,” Anthony whispered in her ear, not wanting to break their embrace. “This will all be over soon. Harry will defeat You-Know-Who and we’ll all be safe.”

“Um, Anthony,” she said, stepping back from him. “It is over.”

“You mean he’s won?”

“Not exactly,” Susan murmured. “Harry’s dead. Voldemort’s in charge now.”

“What do you mean, dead?” he asked

“I mean dead dead. Hagrid carried his body back into the school,” she explained.

“We have to go help,” Anthony cried. “We have to go help all the other members of the DA! Voldemort can’t win!”

“But what if he does, Anthony? What if defeats us all?”

“Then we die doing what’s right, Susan. We die trying to defeat him.”

She nodded and felt a tear run down her cheek. “If we don’t make it through this, I just want to do one thing.”

“What?” Anthony asked, looking at her. Susan did not reply. She just took Anthony’s face in her hands and kissed his lips. Anthony looked shocked at first, but closed his eyes and kissed Susan back.

Their kiss was intense, more like a goodbye kiss than anything else.

“I love you, Anthony Goldstein,” she whispered. “And if we don’t make it through this, I want you to always know that.”

He nodded and took her hand in his. Together, they walked off to the Great Hall, ready to face whatever fate lay before them.

beta'd by propertyoftheHBP.




The Hat
by Celtic_Dreamer7
(Slytherin)




Unceremoniously he sat there. Atop a high shelf in the Headmaster's office. The echos of voices, the sounds of the battle could be heard all around the great room. He sat alone, pondering the next semester's song. If there was to be a next one. From his place, all that could be heard was the booms and rattlings of the battle. It was impossible to tell which side was winning. The room shook as a loud boom echoed throughout, causing portraits to topple to one side and his shelf to lean ever so precariously over the great desk.

The battle all around him, his thoughts turned to the students, both young and old. They were all below him now, fighting for their school and against the dark rein that ever so haunted the wizarding world for so long. Most, if not all, fighting on both sides were students or former students of the school. And he had sorted them all.

From the school's very beginning until now, every head that had attended the great school and walked its great hallways were placed where they needed to be by him. All were placed properly, he was sure of it. Some were easier to place than others, that was for sure. Some had attributes of all four houses but that was very rare. Most only had the attributes of two.

Of all the sortings in his existance, three stand out to him: Albus Dumbledore, Tom Riddle and Harry Potter. One of which, the greatest Headmaster and (arguably) the greatest wizard of all time, had already perished last year. His portrait now hung above his former desk only a few feet away from his own place on the wall. He glanced over to see him pacing back and forth within is frame, pondering over what he could do to help his pupils. The battle became louder as the boom reverbarated throughout the walls and screams could be heard as what seemed like part of the building had collapsed. Dumbled could take no more and he watched as the portrait quickly disappeared from his frame.

Harry Potter was down there. As was Tom Riddle, he was sure of it. Both similar characteristics when they were sorted but different none the less. Whilst Tom easily fit into the Slytherin mold, Harry, on the other hand, seemed to fit in every house. Tom, he could tell, wanted to be in Slytherin, where as Harry wanted to be anywhere but there. There was no doubt in his head after that. He was a Gryffindor. Over the past six years at the school and his past year on the run, if any of the stories were true, he has proven it many times.

A final explosion from below shook the tower almost to its breaking point as it swayed back and forth, knocking down most everything on the shelves and around the room. His shelf, leaning beyond repair, finally snapped and fell to the floor taking him with it. He was pinned to the floor, stuck beneath what was left of the shelf and the headmaster's desk. He knew better than to try to move. He couldn't move. He was a hat.

Cheers from below echoed almost as loud as the battle had been. It was over. Silence overtook the great room as portraits left their frames to find out what was going on and which side had been victorious. Finally, the cheers erupted again as none other than Harry himself entered the room. He spoke with Dumbledore's portrait for awhile before he spotted him. Carefully, he was picked up and placed in the very center of the desk.

"I guess you did sort me correctly," Harry told him.

"Indeed, I did," he replied back. "Indeed, I did."

~The End~




Chapter 130: Red Hearts
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Red Hearts
by Celtic_Dreamer7
(Slytherin)

 

"My son . . . is dead." It took her several times thinking it and even more times saying it before she could process what had truly happened. Killed in the battle that had engulfed her entire family. Not one of her children, not even her youngest, Ginny, had been spared from fighting in this terrible war. Over the past year, things had gotten steadily worse for the entire wizarding community. Secret meetings, disappearances and killings had become a daily reminder of how bad things had become.

All hoped for his downfall but none more than she did. She survived the first war and was darn sure she and her family would survive this one. But, looking down at the face of her dead son, she knew she had failed. She dared a glance away for a moment to look for her other children. Ron, who she hadn't seen for months was there, standing beside George who was still in shock from the loss of his twin. Her youngest, Ginny, was sitting beside her. Her husband was there too along with Percy and Charlie.

All appeared to be alright, just in shock. She glanced down to the body of her son and carefully kissed his forehead. She had to pull it together. The fighting would be starting again soon. With the help of her husband, she stood and embraced him in a big hug. She held onto him as if her life depended on it and then gently kissed him on the cheek, next to a scar that was beginning to show.

"Never forget how much I love you," she whispered to him as the tears began to fall from her eyes once more. She placed a hand on either side of his face and lifted his eyes to meet hers. "We will win," she whispered to him. "And no more of our children will be harmed." Arthur could do nothing but shake his hand in agreement. She hugged him again before turning to face her children.

One by one she inspected them and their mental health. All were at a loss, some were angry. Most, however, were frightened. The war never felt real to them, despite all that had gone on around them. The death of one of their own made it so now. Despite their grief, despite their fears, they would rise as a family and fight against the evil reign.

She turned to her youngest, who seemed to be glancing around the hall, and embraced her in a hug. "He's here," she told her. "I know he his." She smiled as she realized at the moment that her only daughter had grown into a young woman and had fallen in love. She just hoped all would live long beyond the war to enjoy all that was to come. Their future, she hoped, would be filled with nothing but love and happiness. But first, they would have to survive the night and win the battle.

There was a loud boom that shook the school and screams could be heard all around as the battle quickly began again. She gave them all a wink as they rushed out to fight once more. She took one final look at her dead son before heading into the battle. "He will not die in vein."

~The End~




Chapter 131: Realisation
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Realisation
by Ms Malfoy
(Slytherin)




Hermione stood, the Hufflepuff teacup in her hand, looking at me expectantly. For once Moaning Myrtle was nowhere to be seen, or heard for that matter. The broomstick we brought with us lay in the floor beside me. I looked at the basin with the snake engraving, then back at her. A piercing scream echoed through the walls of the castle, followed by a small tremor that shook the ground. I shuddered, and then turned to Hermione. She was listening intently, probably wondering what caused the miniature quake. Her face had gone an off-white colour, mirroring my own. Her eyes shone, the water in them reflecting the fear she usually concealed so well. Feeling slightly awkward, I turned back to the basin, wanting to comfort her, but not knowing what to do. I spoke, remembering the words Harry used to open Salazar’s Locket. After several attempts it finally opened.

The basin sunk, leaving a hole in the ground. Hermione gasped softly; she had been petrified back in second year when Harry and I went into the Chamber of Secrets to save Ginny. I looked Hermione in the eye, silently asking if she was sure about this. She nodded surely, and I knew that she wanted to get this done as quickly as possible, to avoid innocent people getting killed.

I tore my eyes away from her, and stepped into the hole, keeping my grip on the broom. I landed with a crunch on the bones of many rodents and grunted in slight pain.

“Ron? Are you okay?” Hermione’s voice carried down the pipe. She sounded worried.

“Yeah, I’m fine. You can come down now.” I tried to sound assuring, but how it came out I don’t know. A minute later she landed almost on top of me, causing me to stumble back. I caught her in my arms, and once she regained her composure it was awkward for a few moments. I felt my face heating up, and knew that my ears would be turning red. Hermione turned around from embarrassment, but I still saw the blush that crept up on her cheeks.

We ran down the passage, me taking the lead as I had been here before. After opening another door and scrambling up the rock wall that was formed when Lockhart’s memory charm backfired, threw him into the wall, and created a mini quake. When we entered the chamber, I heard Hermione gasp as she saw the size of the Basilisk’s body. I ran to the head of it, and lifted the decaying skin. The fangs of the beast were exposed, and I ripped out as many as I could. Hermione was behind me, and offered the silver cup. I shook my head, wanting her to do it. Harry and I had both destroyed a Horcrux, so Hermione should too. It wouldn’t be fair if she didn’t get any glory, even though she was the mastermind behind our trio.

“You do it. It’s yours to destroy,” I urged her.

“No Ron. It was your idea to come down here. It’s yours to do.”

“Hermione, we need to be up there. Please just do it.”
Hermione huffed, but took the fang from my hand. She stabbed the goblet with a lot of force, and did so again and again. Looking accomplished, she turned to me. A thick liquid oozed out of the wound-like hole the fang created.

“Let’s go,” she said, dropping the fang she used. I decided to keep the ones in my arms, because as far as we knew there was still a couple of Horcruxes to destroy, and the only methods of destroying them were by using basilisk venom or fiendfyre. She grabbed the broom that lay discarded beside us, and I gave her half of the fangs. With my free hand I gripped the broom and clambered on with Hermione behind me. She put an arm around my waist and I slowly hovered up. Hermione wasn’t a fan of flying, so I went rather slowly. After another short quake, she urged me to go faster. Rocks were beginning to fall near the boulder wall that was formed back in my second year. After flying through the narrow gap, I pulled the broom handle up, and we went up the pipe, and back into the girl’s bathroom.

“Ron, that was the best idea you’ve ever had!” Hermione exclaimed, dropping the fangs in her hands and hugging me. My ears were heating up, and I felt my face burn. Feeling stupid, I dropped the broom and fangs in my arms and put my arms around her waist. We both lingered for more than a friendly hug would last, and I realised then that we both felt something more than either of us had been letting on.




The End
by Celtic_Dreamer7
(Slytherin)



 


"It's over." The phase kept sticking in his mind as he tried for the fifth time to get some sleep. The battle had ended. The Dark Lord's rein was over. No more innocent people would be killed by an evil man. No more families torn apart by death. After living for so long in hiding, running for the cover of darkness, doing all that could be done to keep from getting caught, it was quite different being out in the open in broad daylight.

He was back in his old dormitory in Gryffindor tower. It had seen better days but it was still home, none the less. The tower walls had been hit, some of them completely demolished. Very little of the castle, in fact, hadn't been damaged sometime during the battle. He, Hermione and Ron all went to the Headmaster's office after Voldemort's death. Even that tower hadn't been spared from damage. All the room's contents had been knocked down and the sorting hat had been found on the ground, unceremoniously beneath a shelf. He had carefully picked it up and put it on the Headmaster's desk. It was then he decided that the school was to be repaired and rebuilt for all the future students, possibly some of his own, who were to attend in the years to come.

He tried to sleep again but the adrenaline that pumped through his body still would not permit it. He sighed as he sat up and quietly walked out what was left of the room. Out of habit, he crept along the stairs leading down the common room. Most of the families had went home, to bury the dead, repair their own homes and come to turns over what had happened. That left most of the castle fairly deserted. He glanced around to inspect the damage as he remembered all that he had experienced in that room: the fireplace where he spoke to Sirius, the spot he was hoisted in the air after the first task and he opened the golden egg, the place where the twins sold joke boxes to the first years with disasterous results!

The twins, Fred and George. They brought back memories, both old and young ones. He remembered when he first met them his first year, how he got to know more during their time together on the quiddich team and how they came along with Ron to rescue him from the Dursley's his second year. The year he met Dobby. Dobby, the best house-elf he could ever have known. He tried to help him many times over the years and finally did by helping him escape from the Malfoy's basement and dieing in the process. How many more had perished? He dared to ask himself that question as he made his way down the long corridors of his school home.

He quietly walked the halls, examining the extensive damage throughout the entire castle. Gryffindor tower was almost completely gone, as was Ravenclaw tower. The Headmaster's tower faired pretty good but still sustained heavy damage. Classrooms were open to the elements as outer walls had been completely demolished. The kitchens and the Hufflepuff dorms had been ravished by fire and the Slytherin common room was under three feet of water from a leak in the ceiling. All physical damage could be repaired. It was the mental demons everyone would be fighting now.

He made his way around those who had stayed. Most smiled weakly as he passed by but none said a word and he was grateful for that. He made his way to the Great Hall where the final battle had ended. Walking through the doors brought back memories as he recalled the first time he had done so. The hall had been enormous and jaw-dropping back then. But not today. Death and destruction filled the air as he glanced around. The four tables were missing, of course, and the floor was littered with debris and the bodies of those who remained unclaimed. Mainly, those on the opposing side.

He knew they would be taken care of, possibly buried in the cemetary of Azkaban, but he still felt apprehensive none the less. Turning, he spotted a shiny ruby lying on the ground. He walked over to retrieve it, only to see dozens more covering the Great Hall floor. With wand in hand, he went to pick some of them up when he spotted him. Voldemort, or his body, had been moved to a small broom closet off the Great Hall. He wanted to ignore him but couldn't. After all the time they spent trying to kill him, the man who had been so evil he had to split his soul seven times, he had to check one more time, just to make sure.

He looked around but saw no one as he crept towards the closet door. He peered thorugh the crack and then carefully pushed it open further. The light from the sun lit up the closet even more as he walked around to the left side and knelt down. Slowly, he went to pull the cover off his head when he heard the call of a phoenix behind him. He turned ever so slightly to his right and caught sight of the beautiful bird flying all around the school. He smiled and went to move away, knowing they had indeed won, but couldn't.

He turned to look down and saw the hand of the Dark Lord. He had a strong hold on his ankle and wasn't letting go. He tried to get away but failed miserably. His tired body had yet to recover and he fell with a loud crash to the floor. He tried not to look but failed as the hand became stronger and began pulling him back. "You honestly thought you would win?" he heard from underneath the cover. "You were wrong."

He felt a hand grab his wand arm and he screamed. A loud piercing scream that cut the air like glass. He closed his eyes only to open them to see Ron standing over him.

"Are you alright, mate?" Ron asked, wand in hand.

He tried to speak but could only nod. It had been a dream. Just a dream. He tried to lay back down but couldn't. He had to go check. Just to make sure.

~The End~




Chapter 133: Plain Stupid
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Plain Stupid
by propertyoftheHBP
(Ravenclaw)



“In you go, in you go. Don’t bump along the walls if you can help it, it’ll create more of a ruckus than we want.” I usher yet another person through the passageway, trying to get him in as fast as possible because Merlin knows when another will come.

It’s been fifteen blasted minutes since Potter and his cronies went through and now I haven’t seen so many young people since that day when Potter--why should I be surprised that it was him?--set up his “Dumbledore’s Army“ thing. Wish I could say that it was named after me, but it wasn’t.

Speaking of quiet…there it goes, right out the window. Actually, down the stairs is more like it because my window’s closed. Two boys who I can only assume are the Weasley twins go and Apparate right into my bedroom rather than the downstairs back room like they’re supposed to. Another boy follows them, I’m rather positive that he’s as bad as they are.

“Aberforth!” The twins greet me by clapping me upon the back with a grin.

One of them continues, “Good to see you old pal and we’re sorry that we’re popping in and out like this, but we must be off to vanquish You-Know-Who!” The other two boys following him nod their heads and climb off through the portrait hole without even giving me time to tell them to keep it down in there.

Again, those young people. Why is everyone showing up to fight so quickly, anyway? Don’t they all have goodbyes to make, unfinished business to wrap up in the very likely case of their doom? I’ve never understood what makes people act so irrationally. Me, I like to think long and hard on something before I go through with it. Of course, the decision to open up the portrait to everyone tonight was made for me by Potter and company--er, not to mention when I had to go and cast a patronus to save his life, but the last time I made a decision that even had the slightest impact on my day-to-day life, I took two weeks to even narrow down my options. People simply aren’t made to function on the flip of a coin and they shouldn’t, that’s that.

I hear a crack downstairs and walk over to the staircase, peering my head around it to see who’s arrived. With my luck tonight, it’ll probably be a Death Eater or someone of the sort.

Nope, it’s that Tonks character. She’s one to make decisions on a dime, I can say that much about her. She had a habit of sneaking into the Hog’s Head in her sixth and seventh years though she never drank anything of real substance--I suspect she did it solely for the adventure and the idea of it all. She looks rather frazzled tonight as she races up the stairs.

“Did…Did…Did…” she pants, only slowing down once she reaches the top. “Aberforth…”

“Out with it!” I grumble, giving her a whack on the back to get that damned frog out of her throat.

She stands upright and coughs loudly. “Did Remus pass through?”

“Lupin?” I ask, bewildered. Why would she care about him? Eh, maybe he’s her uncle or something.

“Yes, Remus Lupin!” She hurries towards the portrait hole and sticks one leg in. “Did he come through here or not?”

“Yes, he did about ten minutes ago, he was one of the first to go through. Why?”

But the moment I say “Yes,” the girl has gone and raced down the tunnel. Damn, she’s making too much noise. Who knows what’s between here and the room that it leads to. Where does it lead to, anyway? I don't really know for sure.

I huff and puff and sit down in my chair next to the portrait--a very rickety one, at that--which is facing paint-first to the wall. Like I said, it’s not right for people to do such drastic things like breaking and entering into my home and then leaving in a flash without good thought on it. And then they shouldn’t even break and enter into my bar in the first place, anyway. It’s also unnatural for the human race to move at such fast speeds. What if they break an ankle? Then what will happen to their precious speedy little plans, huh?

Another pop. I can’t even make it to the staircase when I see that it’s Molly and Arthur Weasley. Here, finally some sensible folk.

“Greetings,” I salute them.

However, they don’t even answer me, they’re so involved in their own little conversation. The stop right before the portrait talking in hushed tones like I can’t even hear them. Right…

“Did she follow?” I hear Molly ask her husband with an anguished look upon her face.

“Mollywobbles, I doubt it. You were firm in what you told her, and she wouldn’t disobey you like that.”

Their conversation continues but I have to pick the wax out of my ear and blink in shock, so I miss most of it. Arthur Weasley just called his wife what? What kind of a blasted name is Mollywobbles? I suppose even older folk can be idiotic at times.

Their little chat still going on, I catch a glimpse of red hair behind one of my armchairs closer to the staircase. Oh Merlin, another Weasley? I’m not sure that I can take this. They’re either speeding through or being too slow even for me, I’ve no idea what this one will bring.

Still ignored by my old colleagues, I make my way over to the overstuffed, ripped up chair.

I suppose that because she’s behind a random chair she doesn’t want to be found, so I lean down and whisper to her, “What’re you doin’ down here, girl? Why don’t you do me a favour and usher your parents out of here?”

She looks at me quizzically. “How do you know they’re my parents?” she asks.

I simply stare at her. Not only are young ones irrational and slow in the feet, but they’re also apparently slow in the mind.

She blinks, waiting for an answer. When she sees that I’m not going to give her one--no, I’m not, because she, like the rest of her generation, needs to learn something for herself for once--she has a look of realization cross her face. “Ohh…” she murmurs.

“Yeah, ‘Ohh…’. Now, would you ever so kindly get out from behind that chair? It’s one of my favourites and I’d rather that it didn’t get pushed and prodded around so much.” She starts to get up and I help move the chair until she puts a hand firmly on my arm.

“Be quiet, please. I don’t want them to notice me.”

“Why?” Really, why would someone follow their parents somewhere if they don’t want themselves to be noticed by said parents? I am more amazed by the amount of stupidity some people have by the second.

“Because, I’m not supposed to be here, that’s why. My mother thinks that I’m too young and that I’ll be killed.”

I sigh to the great heavens above me with exasperation. “I’m inclined to agree with her, missy. You can try and sneak by if you’d like, but I happen to have made acquaintance with your mother before and I’m pretty sure she’ll catch you.”

The girl shrugs her shoulders as if she’s got not other choice--really, she could turn around the other way and sprint back home. I’ve really got no idea how she ended up here, I didn’t hear a crack…but maybe that was because I was, at the time, picking the plugs of earwax out of my ears. No, it wasn’t one of my finer moments, but hell, it is what it is.

We sneak back towards the general area of the portrait hole and her parents are still blocking the entry to it. “Why are you here anyway, if you aren’t supposed to be?” I ask her as she huffs silently, still invisible to her parents.

“Because, why wouldn’t I be? I can’t sit at home while my entire family is fighting and putting their lives directly into danger! What kind of a person would I be then?”

This girl has a temper, that much is for sure. “You’d be a smart person,” I point out.

She glares at me. “What, like you?”

“Excuse me?!” I nearly shriek, yet her parents pay me no attention--how old are they anyway? They’d have to be deaf not to hear this.

“You could easily charm the portrait to stay open and go in and fight yourself. You’re just choosing not to because it’s too much of a bother for you.”

Of all the insolent things a child has said to me before, this would have to top everything. I can add another item to the List of Young People’s Flaws: irrational, speedy, slow in the mind, and disrespectful. I should really become a monk. It’s all quiet in the monasteries, or so I was told by the Fat Friar when I was at Hogwarts.

“How dare you disrespect your elders like that, young lady!”

She rolls her eyes. This girl has me speechless, I can say that much. “I’m not intending to disrespect you, Aberforth, I’m telling you the truth and saying that you should get your arse out on the battlefield; it’s what your brother would want.”

And of course she has to go and bring up Albus. I’ve heard enough of that man for the night before this and I don’t need to hear it again. “Madame, you should stop preaching what Harry Potter has been preaching to me and get your arse on the battlefield before I shove through your parents and push you through myself.”

She simply raises an eyebrow and looks around. “They’re gone. And…” she softens her demeanour a bit as she makes her way, path now clear, towards the portrait hole.

When did they leave? Young children aren’t the only people who move too quickly and behave too rudely, do those Weasleys have any idea how rude it is to walk out on their host?

“And how is Harry?” she continues, standing in front of the tunnel.

Now I get to raise an eyebrow at her. “Why would you want to know?”

“Just…because. I haven’t seen him for a long time and I’m worried about him. Was he okay?”

Ah, I get it. The girl fancies Potter. What a revelation. Of course she’s so damned headstrong, she’s trying to mimic him. Unluckily for her, no one can be more of a risk-taker than that boy there.

However, luckily for her, I go easy on her. “He’s fine, girl, now get along with you.”

Breathing a sigh of relief, she answers, “Are you coming?”

“No,” I grumble, once again harshly. Why can’t some people just leave well enough alone? I mean, if a man says he doesn’t want to go and get shot down in an instant, than I’m quite sure that means that that particular man does not want to go and get shot down in an instant.

She looks almost disappointed and turns to leave into the tunnel. I continue my grumbling and sit down in the chair. It snaps and I land onto the floor right on my arse.

Figures.

I stand up, grumbling even louder and kick the now-rubbish aside. Where am I to sit now? I would sit in that chair she was hiding behind, but I don’t like sitting in a corner, especially in these days. Any sane person would agree that that’s only asking for trouble.

The traffic seems to be slowing down now--no one has came in since the red-headed sprite. Once again, I wonder where the tunnel leads. It can’t lead directly into the fray, or no one in their right mind would send for everyone to come through it. I could just pop in for a minute to check it out…

No, that’s stupid. Everyone would think I’m there to fight and start going on about my “change of heart” or something or other. I’m not in the mood for people to start getting mushy and huggy with me. That’s just plain gross and wrong for an old codger like myself.

I could peek in. Yeah, I could peek in. It’ll only take a minute or two and I doubt that anyone will come in during then if they haven’t already. If they do I can leave a note saying to be quiet while they’re going through the tunnel and I think that there’s room for me to flatten up against the rock walls down there to let them by.

I guess if I’m going to go spy on the high and mighty ones then I should charm the portrait of Ariana to the wall. It won’t hurt her any, it’ll probably take the pressure off of her from hanging there so long. Yeah, I’ll do that.

I murmur a quick incantation and the portrait is guaranteed to stay where it is. Scribbling a quick note, I tack it onto the space where Ariana usually is. It says: Be quiet.

This’ll be fun. I duck into the hole, and start walking down--hobbling and crouching is more like it, actually--the tiny corridor to go spy on the irrational idiots.

That’s all I’m going to do, spy on them. I won’t enter the room to see what it looks like, and I definitely won’t go out and see what the battle’s like

I won’t! That would just be plain stupid.

Chapter 134: Of Grumblings and Grimaces
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Of Grumblings and Grimaces
by lia_2390
(Slytherin)



Loud explosions riddled the castle at unexpected moments, shaking all corners of a tiny office until dust fell from the ceiling. Stooping under a desk with his beloved clutched near, was a dishevelled man with long, unkempt grey hair. The castle shook again with another thunderous boom and the man grumbled to himself, occasionally taking a chance to peer out from under his old, but sturdy desk. The cat in his arms mewled with irritation and immediately he let her go. She stepped delicately through the office before glancing back at him. Almost as if he had shooed her out himself, the cat hurried through the door.

The man frowned. He told the Headmaster since the beginning of the school year that he wanted to retire. He didn’t belong here. He had absolutely not a drop of magic running through his veins. Not that he wanted the whole world to know that. Some people in particular would skin him alive. Snape, however was adamant. ‘No, Mister Filch,’ he had said with that silky voice of his, ‘I daresay you will be useful when the time comes.’ And in the background of that office, Dumbledore echoed his agreement.

“Belligerent ingrates,” he growled.

He shuffled back under his desk as he heard shouts from outside his room. He didn’t have much to protect himself against the spells of wizards. The very people he’d seen parade through the halls from the time he started working at the school, brandishing their wands ever so casually. Taking everything that’s been handed to them and wasting it away as if they just didn’t care. Not for the first time, he wondered what they were really fighting for out there. They certainly weren’t fighting for him. No one cares for the Squibs anyway. They have nothing to fight for, certainly not magic, they didn’t have any.

He sighed as another spray of dust fell from the wall and everything around him shook. If he ever got out of this mess alive, it would be a miracle. To his right, a lone purple coloured sheet floated down to the ground next to him, landing on his curled fist. He stared at it in horror. He didn’t need to read it to know what it was, the colour was enough. But still there it was. Another thorn in his side, hell bent on sending him to the grave.

The bright red stamp in the centre of the letter did nothing to ease him. Angrily, he crumpled the offensive note and threw it far away from him. Stupid Kwikspell. It was a farce, he was sure of it. Madam Nettles and Warlock Prod deserved to be hung up by their thumbs but as most things he wanted in this world, he most certainly would not get. He had failed.

The scraping of the door on the dusty floor startled him; he jerked involuntarily upwards and hit his head on the underside of his desk. Swearing loudly, he crawled out on his hands and knees, sporting a large red welt at the very top of his head.

Standing before him were two cats: his own beloved and a tabby cat, the latter of which gave him a bemused look. If he hadn’t hit his head, Mr Filch would be sure that it raised an eyebrow at him. Blinking rapidly, he staggered to his feet and looked down at the cats with his hands on his hips.

“Professor McGonagall?” he wheezed, addressing the tabby cat.

The cat nodded and disappeared, in its place, stood a stern-looking witch in emerald green robes. McGonagall glared at him over the top of her square-framed spectacles.

“Mr Filch,” she began, with her lips pursed, “we need your assistance.”

Beside Filch, Mrs. Norris, his beloved, leapt up on the desk and stared at them both. Absently, he reached over and stroked the cat’s head.

“I don’t see how I could be of much help, Professor,” he answered bitterly.

Frowning, the deputy headmistress crossed her arms over her chest. “Don’t be ridiculous, Mr Filch. I’m quite sure you can do what I am about to ask you.”

“Which is?”

McGonagall raised an eyebrow but otherwise ignored the irritation laced in his tone. “I would like for you to help Madame Pomfrey in getting the students out of the school. You know the secret passages and pathways of the school better than anyone else.”

Filch resisted the urge to smile. Of course he knew the school better than anyone else. It was he who took care of it after the little monsters set off dungbombs in the corridors, it was he who was left to mop up the muck on the floor when they traipsed through the mud and it was he who in the slightest notion of trouble immediately appeared to put an end to it.

The fact of the matter was Argus Filch loved this school, perhaps not the students who attended it though. It was his dream to come to Hogwarts as a boy but was crushed when he never got a letter. His parents, he remembered didn’t have the heart to tell him he hadn’t shown signs of magic. They were too ashamed.

He raised his chin defiantly at the memory. Dumbledore was kind enough to let him work here thus allowing him to live at least part of his dream. As it turned out, the Headmaster was right, he had been called. As insignificant as the job would be to anyone else, Filch would proudly take up arms to preserve the thing he loved so much: the school and magic. They had given him a chance and now was his turn to do the same. It was better than staying in his office, cowering under his desk until he was found.

“Alright,” Filch nodded tersely, “I’ll help.”

Filch thought he saw a faint smile on the old woman’s face as he shuffled through the door which she held open for him. He chuckled a little to himself at his new found bravery, maybe he would’ve been sorted into Gryffindor. Leading her down the hallway, he frowned at the destruction he met.

“None of this would have happened if they’d just let me hang them by their thumbs!”



Chapter 135: The End of Darkness
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The End of Darkness
by Melian
(Gryffindor)





Fleur couldn't quite believe what she was seeing. Even the Death Eater she'd been duelling stopped and stared, and while Fleur was admittedly distracted she still managed to shoot a Stunner at the black robes and knock her adversary to the ground. Normally she would have pulled off the mask to see who she'd been fighting but that could wait – she had to work out if she was dreaming or if this was real.

Still staring, she pinched herself hard on the arm. Yes, that hurt. She was definitely awake. Then how, she thought, could this possibly be happening?

First Bellatrix Lestrange had fallen, defeated by none other than her mother in law. That was a shock in itself, but it appeared that Lestrange had been fighting Ginny so Fleur could understand how Molly could have reacted the way she did. If Gabrielle had been in that situation Fleur would have done the same, and Gabrielle was only her sister, not her daughter. She hadn't yet experienced the bonds of parenthood yet but she had a fair idea of their strength.

Then, as Voldemort had noticed the death of his great warrior and let out a scream, Harry had appeared in the middle of the room. Harry. It was impossible. Harry was dead – they had seen his body. Dozens of people had almost given up at that point, until one boy about Harry's age had stepped forward and provided resistance, and that had given them all some spirit, especially when the boy had pulled that ruby-encrusted sword from the ancient hat on his head and sliced off Voldemort's pet snake's head with it. If that didn't lift people's spirits, nothing would.

But yes, there he was, seemingly flesh and blood. Harry. Wiping the sweat from her brow, Fleur just stood there and watched. Fortunately everyone else in the room was doing the same, and she didn't need to concentrate on fighting anyone. Everyone wanted to see what would happen now, with Harry and Voldemort facing each other, their wands in battle position.

Noticing some movement on her left, Fleur looked quickly around, wand out, in case it was a Death Eater making the most of the distraction. But no, it was her husband, looking a little the worse for wear but miraculously alive and seemingly undamaged. Some blood and the odd scratch, yes, but nothing permanent. Not like last time.

"'Ow is eet possible?" she whispered. "We thought 'Arry was dead! We saw 'is body!"

Bill shrugged. "I thought that too," he admitted. "Looks like we were wrong."

"Eet eez incredible," she said, watching the two enemies circling each other. They were talking, too, about a wand of some sort, but she didn't know the background of the conversation and couldn't really follow it. Then again, her English was still not brilliant so she sometimes had trouble following conversations anyway.

Finally, it looked like there was going to be some action. No one in the room moved apart from Harry and Voldemort, and it felt like everyone watching was holding their breath, waiting for this to be resolved.

Fleur didn't see how Harry could get out of this alive, not realistically. Then again, she didn't see how he could be alive now, when she had seen his body earlier that night, seemingly lifeless. She still had hope, however, clutching at Bill's hand like her life depended on it.

The spells were cast at the same time – a Killing Curse from Voldemort, a Disarming Charm from Harry. The jets of light met in the middle and then the strangest thing happened – the older, more experienced, more skilful of the two, Voldemort himself, fell backwards and collapsed lifeless to the floor, his wand flying in an arc through the air and landing in Harry's outstretched hand. Fleur had no idea how this could have happened but she was relieved it did; if this was true, if her eyes hadn't deceived her, then it was over. If Voldemort was dead, then they had won.

"I cannot believe eet," Fleur whispered, ostensibly to her husband but really to no one in particular.

"I think you'll have to," Bill said, his words barely audible over the cheers and tumult caused by the onlookers, who had obviously reached the same conclusion she had. It was over.

Fleur's eyes turned to the window, where the sun had just made its first appearance over the eastern horizon. "Eet eez fitting," she said, tears of happiness in her eyes as she turned to Bill. "Zat ze Dark Lord fell just as ze sun rose. Eet eez ze end of darkness, eez eet not?"

Bill laughed, the joy on his face reflected all around them. "I can't argue with that," he said with a broad smile. "The end of darkness. It certainly is."

Thanks to blueirony for her work beta-ing this story.



Chapter 136: Ride Again
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Ride Again
by aussieginny
(Gryffindor)




The forest that I had spent so much time in with my best mates as a teenager had not changed. Dark, spooky, secretive and yet strangely comforting. The presence ofthe ones I loved most was even more comforting. My loyal best friends Sirius and Remus, who I considered more as brothers, my beautiful wife, who I loved more than life itself wrapped around me like a warm blanket. But the strongest presence was that of my son. I looked at him in pride. The invisibility cloak that had enabled many historical pranks had no effect on me now. We were the same height and his hair was just as messy as mine was. But his eyes were the captivating green of Lily’s that cause many a night dreams.

My beloved took my hand and looked upon our son with the same fierce pride she had the day he was born. I had been happier then I had ever been on that day. Already planning with Sirius the pranks he would pull once he got to Hogwarts but secretly hoping that he would be more like his mother. Kind, selfless and brave. Braver than I ever was or could be. I got my wish.

Lily whispered to Harry attempting to express the pride that was in her eyes. Harry stared at her drinking in the sight of her. The mother that had done more than any mother had done for their child before.

“You are nearly there. Very close. We are -” I broke off for a moment knowing there were no words that could express what I felt. “- So proud of you”

A whisper slipped from his lips almost unwillingly asking if death would hurt. I had often wondered that myself during the most dangerous days, wondering if I would even know that I was dead.

Sirius comforted him. My brother, who had paid a much heavier price for Voldemort’s actions than I ever did. Remus too.While he didn’t have to bear the dementor’s, the thought of his best friend’s betrayal would have haunted him just as much. And now his son would never know him. Just as Harry had never known me.

Harry looked round at us and whispered asking to stay with him.

I smiled. “Until the very end”

"Stay close to me."

We walked with Harry to the place where Voldemort waited. Some Death Eater’s were on the lookout but of course they could see nothing. They led us to the clearing where he waited. I was proud that Voldemort could predict my son’s actions. That he knew that he would die for his friends said more than anything else he could have done in a fight. Harry stepped forward and as he did the stone dropped from his fingers and I felt the pull back to the peaceful light-filled place that I spent with those that I loved. My old headmaster was right. Love was the most powerful magic there was. Lily and I turned hand in hand watching Harry move forward to meet the one who we had died fighting. As the last of me faded away I turned towards Lily and saw the love that had got my son this far. Now it was up to him.

All italics are lines taken from HP and the DeathlyHallows pgs 560 to 561.


Diggory
by Jenna822
(Slytherin)



I'll be the first to admit, I came here to die.

As I look around the Great hall, see all of the wounded, the dead, the grieving, I wonder why they came tonight. Each one of them entered this battle, knowing it could be their death and hoping it wouldn't. They said goodbye to their wives, or perhaps brought them along to fight as well. They kissed their children's sleeping faces and whispered silent farewells, their hands holding onto the tiny fingers a bit longer than they had ever before. Some of them must have cried as they made their way down that tunnel, considering retreat, but pushing forward anyways...and why? Why were they here?

Some came because it is the right thing to do, so they believe. They know that Voldemort needs to be taken down and they are willing to risk their lives in a tiny effort to make that happen. They are brave, they are fierce and now, their bodies litter the tables of the room, still and cold.

I am not one of those people. I do not hold out hope that Harry Potter can defeat anyone, hope was a word I stopped using years ago. Hope was a word that died the day my son did. Oh, how in an instant everything you know can be stripped from you and thrown to the ground like the shed skin of a snake. The moment my eyes took in the still form of my son, my only son, I no longer believed in hope.

Then why, you ask, did I come tonight? Why did I, Amos Diggory, get out of my warm bed, leave the arms of my wife, don my robes and fly into battle with all of these oh-so-hopeful warriors? My answer to you is simple: I came to die.

The moment I stepped into the midst of the battle, my head swam with the noise. Screaming curses, breaking glass, stone erupting on each side of me and crying. There was so much crying. My wand was out and I was saying spells before I even realized it. My feet kept moving, my wand kept waving.

Everything was moving so quickly, I couldn't even begin to tell you how I ended up in the second floor corridor, clutching the body of a young boy. I vaguely recall fighting a masked man, dodging his spells, sending back my own, hissing in pain as light grazed my shoulder and tore away at it. The weight of the boy hit me hard. I fell back onto the stone floor and growled as my glasses were thrown from my face. I toppled the form off of myself, barely aware of what it was, and summoned my glasses back to me.

The frames were bent and the glass scratched from dragging across the rubble littered hallway. No time to fix them, Death Eaters were everywhere, so I shoved them unceremoniously back over my eyes and finally looked down at what, or shall I say whom, had knocked me to the ground.

He was about sixteen, I'd say. His thick, black hair was plastered up in odd angles from what seemed to be sweat and too much hair product. His light blue eyes were dull and lifeless, but I found myself wondering if perhaps I had seen this boy before, when he was alive that is, if they wouldn't have had the same sort of twinkle that Cedric's eyes held. The thought of my son turned my stomach and I looked away from the dead boy's face.

Not just boy. Son. This boy, this dark haired, blue eyed boy was someone's son. Every man and boy in this battle was someone's son. Every girl a daughter. In that moment, I found something more than hope, I found purpose. If I could save even one son, even one daughter, then I would make a difference. No, it would never bring my son back to me, but that was never an illusion I clung to to begin with.

Cedric would fight. The words were clear and finite. There was no maybe, no doubt. My son, my Cedric would fight. He would fight until he had nothing left, he would fight with his last breath because that is the right thing to do and Cedric did the right thing. He could still fight, I would fight for him. Cedric Diggory could not stand and raise his wand for what was right, but Amos Diggory could, and he would.

Looking back on that moment, I consider it a little ironic. The moment that I decide there is something worth living for, my moment is taken.

The severing hex was so fast I barely felt it. There was a burning sensation in the lower half of my legs, then I hit the ground so hard, that pain superseded any that the hex had done. I must have gone unconscious, for the next thing I recalled was waking up here in the Great Hall, being tended to by a young woman who kept repeating that she was a nurse. She said that my legs are gone for good, the lower portions, that kind of damage just can't be undone.

For a fleeting, selfish moment, I felt sorry for myself. The thought of having to live out the rest of my days with one-third of my legs missing, becoming dependent on others for the simplest of tasks, it was a bit much to absorb. Then I cursed my selfish mind, for at least I was living out the rest of my life, handicapped or not, I was alive.

So now, as I look upon the bodies and those weeping over them, I wonder why they came. Is there even a chance that one of them came for the same reason I did? For the same selfish, ignorant reason?

I'll be the first to admit, I came here to die.

Now, I just want to help others live.



Chapter 138: Breakaway
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Breakaway
by propertyoftheHBP
(Ravenclaw)



I watch with a bitter sort of triumph as the Dark Lord commands the half-breed to gather Potter up and lead the way out of the forest. Then, without warning, a question pops into my mind: Have I done the right thing?

The thought doesn't stay for longer than half of a moment. Had I not announced Potter's "death" to them all, it could have been another ten minutes before I was allowed to go and search for Draco. No, I have no doubt whatsoever that I have made the right decision.

I am bringing up the back of the group of Death Eaters and I don't even know where Lucius is in the moving throng. I don't care, I don't want to see him right now. He will only tell me how proud he is--no, not how proud he is of me, but how proud he is that the Dark Lord chose me to be the one to approach Potter.

At that thought, I can only laugh. Lucius, regardless of whatever he may say, knows full well that the Dark Lord chose me to approach Potter because I am the most dispensable of the group--I do not even have the Dark Mark on my arm. Potter could very easily have had his wand hidden under his robes, ready to aim and fire at whoever came up to him first, and I could be dead and beginning to rot alone in the Forbidden Forest at this very moment. He didn't, though, and it doesn't surprise me. Potter was never one for irrational violence.

I trip over a root and fall to my knees. I let out a yelp and though I know that people hear me, no one stops to see that I am all right. I slowly stand up, brushing my robes off. I have no worries about getting too far behind the group, for they are moving at a processional pace. I suspect that the Dark Lord wants the moment he exits the forest to be as grand and memorable as possible, the half-breed next to him holding Potter's "lifeless body".

Continuing on with the group, I debate what is going to happen to Lucius, Draco, and I once the Dark Lord discovers that Potter is not dead. It is possible that we will be killed ourselves, though not very. I have no doubt in my mind now that the side of the Order of the Phoenix will win--if Potter has survived the Dark Lord's Killing Curse twice, he can surely make it three times. No--instead, we will be disgraced by the Death Eaters, we will be disgraced by the rest of the Wizarding community, and we will be sent to Azkaban, the three of us.

Perhaps if I am lucky I will have a cell nearby Draco's. If I am lucky in more ways than one, that is. Draco could be dead this very moment, he could be strewn across the Slytherin table in the Great Hall with tens of others of the dead.

No. I flush the thought from my mind, not allowing it to re-enter. Draco is alive. I have risked so much for him so far, he cannot be dead. He is waiting inside of the castle somewhere, likely behind a gargoyle or something similar. I know he's there.

At that thought, I realize that my son is a coward. I know this as well, I've known it for a long time. It's partially my fault, partially Lucius'--it is our fault as parents. He was a babied child, cared for more than he should have been. I couldn't help myself, for he was our only child and I loved him more than life itself, as I proved moments earlier. He never had to work for anything until the moment the Dark Mark was branded against his skin--then, he had to work for his life. Perhaps "run" would be a more appropriate term, actually.

He didn't know what he was getting into, the poor boy. The Dark Lord dropped the biggest task any modern wizard had ever had to face--to kill Albus Dumbledore--into his lap and expected him to fail. Do I think that Draco was aware of this? I'm not sure. I could have underestimated my son and he could have known exactly the Dark Lord's intentions with the task--to have a reason to kill Draco and Lucius, if not me as well--or he could have thought that he was being given a high honour. He could have poured his heart and soul into the task, only thinking of the prestige and admiration he would have been given when he succeeded.

Whether Draco knew the truth or not, it was not to be. I am eternally grateful to Severus for carrying out the task himself, though it wasn't as though he had much of a choice--I made an Unbreakable Vow with him--he would have died had he not raised the wand up to Dumbledore's face.

I trip again, this time over a centaur's hoof sticking out into the trail, his body hiding behind a tall and dense bush. My gaze shoots to the middle of the bush, for I am startled and scared. I did not expect for creatures to be running amok, I had expected them to be either dead or in hiding.

The beast's eyes are a glowing yellow and he stares me down with such a ferocious glint in his eyes that I hurry forward and stay directly behind the group, less than a meter away from Yaxley.

We must be nearing the clearing at the end of the forest now--how slow can the Dark Lord walk?

I mentally curse myself for the moment of disrespect to the Dark Lord and his name.

After a moment of thought, I silently laugh. I'm quite sure that my questioning the speed of the Dark Lord's stroll is the least disrespectful thought--or action, for that matter--of him that has crossed my mind today. I did lie to his face, after all.

I am strangely satisfied with myself. I, Narcissa Malfoy, lied to the Dark Lord's face. Who has done that and survived another minute? I can think of no one except Dumbledore. I have a strange self-assurance now that everything may turn out all right after all.

I hear anguished screams of Potter's name echoing ahead of me. He Who Must Not Be Named must have crossed the threshold of the forest with the half-breed and, of course, Potter.

I can now see the daylight for myself and it is sparkling full of hope. I know that Lucius is as worried for Draco as I am and it is quite possible that he has had revelations of his own in the past ten minutes. He and I will reach the castle as soon as humanly possible and begin the search for our son. We will find Draco, find a place to sit down, make sense of everything, and then we will see what the rest of the night has in store for us. At this moment I can't and don't want to guess at what it may be, but it will be all the better if the three of us are together and I know that we will be. We just have to be.

Chapter 139: Of High Cs and Ravishing Curls
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Of High Cs and Ravishing Curls
by propertyoftheHBP
(Ravenclaw)



"Waahhh!" I scream as I am shoved open from the behind yet again. I think that it's quite possibly the first time I actually screamed, however, so the racing children should be grateful for that. Even I must admit that my screeches are not as lovely in sound as my singing voice. Maybe if the children wouldn't come in and out so many times and so quickly when they do so, I would have treated them to a concert tonight. Ah, I suppose it's all the worse for them because I'm not.

I choose to stay open as more children race through--I have decidedly given up on getting any amount of acceptable rest tonight, so staring at a dreadfully drab wall will have to do. I sigh. Why are they so vigorous now, of all times? Despite my demeanour, I do not believe it correct or respectful to scurry about so joyfully when a situation like the current one is at hand.

Oh, how the school has fallen since dear Dumbledore passed on! It's so…Slytherin now. I shudder at the thought. That Headmaster Snape is quite the character, he punished two of my own House recently for doing what was actually a very noble thing. The Forbidden Forest is no place for a child with a stature like that of a Gryffindor and it just so happens to be where he sent them. I suppose since they are a Gryffindor, however, they handled it the best they could.

This wall is so very boring. I wish Violet would come and visit, it has been a while. I hear more racing and now they start to scream. Are they screaming in fear or in delight? One can never tell with this generation, it all sounds like rubbish. I am incredibly disappointed that I haven't been informed of the present state of affairs yet, though I am not surprised. No one seems to register that I am of great importance to this castle, they just hustle by and bleat the password out. Harumph.

Another scream sounds, but this time it is farther off into the distance and I am positive that it is one of anguish. Oh dear, what is happening? I am sure that I could help if only given the chance. I could rally up the other paintings and hold a meeting, so at least we would all be informed, on the lookout and perhaps I would get a chance to ask another lady's opinion on my curls. I did them this morning but I haven't gotten a chance to gather an outside party's thoughts on them, so I would surely appreciate the chance.

More shrieks of agony echo and I am positive that something absolutely dreadful is going on. My, what can it be? Perhaps…perhaps…I know it! That ugly Headmaster has decided to do in all of the Gryffindors at once! How horrible! The tragedy of it all! Whatever will I do? I rack my mind for a memory of the Headmaster that will help me rid that man and save the innocent and sweet students.

I have it! I was once singing rather a divine song when he came grumbling by and told me to, and I quote his vile words, "Shut your trap." Can you imagine saying something so a lady of class like myself? He has no respect, none at all, and I am not surprised that he is holding a student massacre.

I open my perfectly shaped mouth and begin singing. Oh, what a beautiful sound it is. My voice begins to trill as I hit the upper octave of my range, and I prep for a high C.

"Aaaahhhhhh!!!" Mission accomplished! I end my song and bow, although no one can see me from behind the wall. I do hate being back here. Wait…why haven't I just swung back into place? I have become so absorbed in my thoughts of pity--rightfully so, I may add--that I completely forgot that I have total control of where I face.

I swing back and nestle into place comfortably and then I open my eyes. I am utterly horrified by the sight, for bodies are strewn about and more are falling by the minute.

Hold your horses…this isn't a massacre of the students! This…this is a battle! There are adults here, fighting as well, and by the looks of it…there are Death Eaters!

Oh, the horror! So is this what it has come down to? The battle between good and evil, right now of all nights?! I had planned a game of chess with Sir Cadogan…oh, that will have to wait for now. I look around, watching it intently. A curse here, a hex there…more people are falling by the minute and I am disgusted by it all. It's not right, it isn't.

Do I hear a voice approaching me? I do! Oh, who is it?

"Another one of those damn portraits…Out you go!" a vile man exclaims, grabbing me by the frame.

What is this?! I am not to be manhandled under any circumstance! I scream, attempting to hit another high C, trying to scare the man off--surely a being such as him would shun rather than embrace the beauty of my voice.

"Aaaahhhh!!!"

"Shut up," he grumbles, shoving me into a bag.

What is the meaning of this? What is going to happen? It's dark in here…I don't like it at all. I feel him swing me over his shoulder and march off, dropping me into a bin. What will happen to me? What will happen to the fighters left fighting? I'm scared for the fate of the world, and even more importantly, the fate of myself. I could die! Oh, but there is a mirror in the bag with me, I notice. The curls do look ravishingly gorgeous today.



Chapter 140: Right and Wrong
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Right and Wrong
by  pennyardelle
(Ravenclaw)



Mandy Brocklehurst had, for the most part, been pulled along by the tide of public opinion as far as You-Know-Who and the war against him went. She came from a completely ordinary family, her parents had completely ordinary jobs, and their day-today lives were, once again, completely ordinary. So, when the <i>Daily Prophet</i> started stating that Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore were liars--that Cedric Diggory's death three years ago had been an accident--it was the Brocklehursts' instinct to believe it. There were institutions to be trusted, like the government and the news, and then there were individuals whose credibility had not been proven.

"Do you know what Harry Potter is like?" her father had asked her. On the front page of the Prophet, Harry Potter's bespectacled face looked at her. The Boy Who Lies?, the headline asked her.

"I don't know," Mandy had replied.

"Do you think he is lying?" her father then asked.

And she had repeated, "I don't know."

It had been the truth at the time. Mandy had never been a friend of Harry Potter; she could hardly call herself an acquaintance, in fact. He kept to himself, mostly, and seemed to attract much more trouble than Many was interested in. She doubted he had ever really noticed her, and though it was impossible to not notice him, famous as he was, she had never been much interested in befriending him.

She didn't know what he was like, and so for a time, she believed he might be a liar. Of course, it had turned out that he was not. Were the rumours about him being the "Chosen One" true? Mandy had no idea. Did she, like everyone else in the wizarding world, want to believe that they could pin their hopes on him? Yes. But the truth was, she just didn't know. With only the most cursory contact with The Boy Who Lived, Mandy had never been able to form her own opinion, and so had listened to others--until that night in early May when he had appeared in Ravenclaw Tower after being on the run for nearly a year, which gave Mandy her closest look at Harry Potter yet.

She wasn't sure what to make of what she'd seen.

She didn't usually make a habit of venturing out of her dormitory late at night, but she realized as she was trying to fall asleep that one of her earrings was lost--one of the very expensive earrings that her parents had given her for her seventeenth birthday, which she did <i>not</i> want to lose. She had only meant to go check quickly to see if she could find it, but she had instead come upon a very unusual scene in the common room. Why were Professor Carrow and Professor McGonagall standing in Ravenclaw Tower, apparently having an argument?

Mandy froze and was about to return to her dormitory very quickly; one sight of her, and Professor Carrow would probably throw her in detention. But then she heard something about Harry Potter that made her pause, because it seemed a strange subject for them to be discussing, and a few moments later, Harry Potter himself appeared out of thin air.

For a second, Mandy wondered if she was dreaming.

She had to admit that she felt a little excited to see Harry Potter standing in Ravenclaw Tower; he was famous, after all, and no one had seen him in months. Here was the fugitive that everyone had been talking about for months, whose face had covered newspapers and posters for months, who had been labelled "Undesirable Number One" as well as the "Chosen One"—here, in the Ravenclaw common room.

The curious thought of why he was here rather than Gryffindor Tower had just begun to cross her mind when Professor Carrow made an aggressive move towards Professor McGonagall, and in the next moment, Harry Potter took out his wand and started to torture the ugly-looking man.

Mandy felt as though her stomach had turned to stone as she watched Harry stand over him while he writhed in pain. What on earth was happening? It felt like the entire world had been turned upside down and backwards; in that moment, Mandy realized that she had not been truly honest with her father when he had asked her if H