Chapter 5 : Strike at Dawn
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That night Alastor Moody was in high spirits. He had found a Specialist Healer who was an expert at Advanced Transfiguration. It had cost a lot of money, but he finally had his hand and leg back. They felt brand new, and it was the first time in a long while that he felt remotely normal since he lost his leg so many years ago. He opened the door to his house, and stepped inside. It felt great to walk again, apparating made him a bit too lazy. He picked up the daily prophet, and in it was some bullshit story about Voldemort terrorizing a muggle family in Italy. Voldemort was dead, and dead was bloody hell dead. Why didn’t the ministry believe Dumbledore as yet? Damn parchment pushers, put them in front of a bloodthirsty Vampire and let see them use their quills to defend themselves. They knew nothing of being there, and living through it all. Only few could really say they know what it means to stare death in the face, and charge head on without fear.
He smiled: Harry had done it. He had finished what Voldemort started, and he was so proud of him. Even though he knew he was off gallivanting about the place, Moody was sure that he could handle anything. He’ll be back when he’s good and ready. Everyone has his own path. Not taking anything for granted though, he checked and double-checked his locks and dark areas in his house, making sure no stray boggart or such snuck in while he was away. He was wearing muggle clothing, and he needed to feel at home once again. He stripped down to his pants, slightly wincing at the huge scar where the muggle doctors had patched up the sword wound he sustained fighting the Warlock. He took out everything from his pockets, and put them down nearby. Watching at the silver amulet that was amongst he things he had stashed in his jacket, he decided to put it on.
You never know. As he would tell any young Auror: always maintain Constant Vigilance. He lighted his pipe, and sat down his favourite chair, finally enjoying some peace and quiet.
Draco was in a bad mood. Crabbe and Goyle were avoiding him, the Slytherins were watching him funny, and he was actually missing riling Potter and his mudblood woman. The worse part was that Pansy was always underfoot, ‘unintentionally’ bouncing into him while walking or brushing suggestively against him as he talked with other girls, giving everyone the impression that there was something between them. He’ll take out his frustration on the training pitch, those poor suckers were in for drills and more drills. Draco was leaving nothing to chance, that Trophy was theirs this year.
Hermione was getting frustrated. There seemed to be a general atmosphere of indifference to her efforts in reforming the DA. A lot of the previous members from the other houses thought it was a waste of time, Voldemort being defeated and all. Only few really listened to her reasoning that it was still very dangerous, some even went so far as to implicate that she was trying to somehow make herself feel better by continuing what Harry started, sort of like pathetic hero-worship. Only those who knew what it was like, basically the students who were in the ministry of magic for Sirius’ rescue mission were totally behind her. Surprisingly, Cho was also very determined to continue training. So that meant only she, Ron, Neville, Ginny, Luna and Cho were wholeheartedly for the DA. Well so be it. If only the six of them were serious, that would be enough. She began extensive planning and organizing; when the first meeting would be held, and how to go about getting their new instructor instated. She sat down at the table in the common room and got to work.
There were many people walking around, all of them wizards, routinely going about their shopping at the Italian version of Diagon Alley. The vision zoomed throught the throngs of people, straight into a large building whose sign read “ FLOO TRANSIT ”. The picture here was completely different, there were wizards screaming and running in a panic, creating a clear space near the numerous fireplaces that were banked along the far end of the huge building. Inside the clearing he saw flashes of Remus, Tonks, and some other wizards battling a losing battle; a grand statue lumbering about then a huge fire erupted –all acoompanied by an intense haze of pain….
“HARRY!!” a voice screamed.
Harry’s eyes snapped open. It was still dark. The only light in the room were two candles that were perched on top of the dinner table. He took a moment to re-orient himself, and he realized where he was. Kenna was on her knees next to him, worry all over her face.
“Harry, < thank god! You had me frightened out of my wits I didn’t know what to do you looked so pale and you were sweating and my skin was tingling and there’s a bump swelling on your forehead and.. > “ she was babbling on in fluent Italian, frantically gesturing with the fingers.
Harry realized something was not right. “Shut up,” he ordered silently. He sprung up from the floor, his body tense. Kenna looked at him in a concerned expression.
“What is wro-“
“Shut up I said!” he hissed, his eyes darting around in the darkness. The lights from the candles extinguished, and Kenna felt the faint hairs on her arms tingling. Ske looked at Harry in amazement, his eyes now glowing blue, the air around him emanating a faint blue halo of light. “Get your shoes. We have to go, now!” he raised his hand and the sword of Godric Gryffindor jumped to its master’s command, landing with a smack in his palm. He grabbed his wand, and summoned his boots to him. “Accio!” He practically jumped into them, and grabbed Kenna’s hand as she hastily tried to put on her sandals.
‘What-?” she said, being pulled roughly towards the door.
“Just do as I say. No time to explain!” he swung open the door and stood in the corridor, looking quickly to his left and right. To his right at one end was a ceiling to floor window, to his left was the elevator. He hastily pulled Kenna along behind him, but suddenly stopped dead in his tracks. She bounced off of him hard, and would have fallen if he did not have such a strong grip on her. Harry stood stock still for a millisecond, his senses tuning in to the large corridor and the few doors that were placed along the walls. Measuring the distance to the elevator doors at the end, they were about thirty feet away. Something was wrong with the shadows, something sinisterly familiar….
It couldn’t be.... Fear began to creep into him, making his blood ran cold.
“Kenna, when I say run, run straight to the elevator. Do not stop. Understand?”
He felt more than heard her response as her hand was trembling with fear. He let go of her hand, and slowly handed her his wand behind him, moving ever so cautiously. He predicted it more than he actuallysaw it, and whipped out his blade in a flash of steel as a kodachi came whizzing towards his head. There was a loud clang as weapon hit weapon. Pointing the sword downwards and agled behind him, he dashed forward. As soon as he took that first step, once again Solidus’ charm came alive.
As he charged down the hall, two shadows practically materialized out of the walls. The one on his left swiftly stepped into his path, the steel blade swiping downwards in a vertical slash. Throwing up his arms, Harry thrust his sword upwards, deflecting the strike. Seeing an opening, the other assasin slashed viciously from the other side- aiming for his neck. Harry dove forward in a roll, the horizontal slash off by mere centimeters. As he came out of his tumble he flashed the sword in his wake, shallowly cutting his opponent in his leg. He heard an amazed grunt of pain, then pivoted on his hunches to face his first assailant. The Hunter brought down his sword in the cramped space, using the confined area to his advantage. Sojiro had the upper ground, and there was nowhere to dodge the deadly blade. Harry brought the sword up quickly to defend his face, then angled his blade so the hunter’s sword defelected to the side. Rising inside of his attacker’s arm span, he brought up the hilt and struck him under the chin, at the same time blocking the other Hunter’s slash, the blade protecting his back. There was a spattering of blood as Sojiro staggered back from blow to his adam's apple, and Harry spun around- parrying away the sword inches from his spine.
“You’re good,” Heshin remarked, watching his brother steady himself.
With deadly accuracy- he doubled in speed and attacked. Harry barely had time to block, the blades crossed inbetween their faces. They were up close and personal in that fleeting moment, icy steel grey eyes boring into his glowing blue ones. The three combatants were side by side now, the first one swiftly recovering from his off balance stance, stabbing his weapon at Harry’s unprotected back.
Flow with their movements and do not go against the tide of battle. Drop your right elbow and step to the left, using the blade to parry his sword downwards. His chin would be exposed, but only to stun. The enemy has the advantage. Do not continue.
As the words came to him, he found himself actually doing it. Dropping his right arm, their crossed swords slid against each other, and Harry found balance by stepping once to the left. Sojiro’s blade took away a piece of the back of his shirt, missing him by centimetres. The three weapons met at a triad, the Sword of Gryffindor on the top. Seeing a slight moment of oppurtunity, Harry instinctively struck out with his left elbow, connecting with Heshin in his nose. He reeled back as blood began to flow. Sojrio flicked his wrist, and with uncanny speed, pivoted his weapon from beneath Harry’s and spun full roundhouse with a kick to his head, he leg delving into the shadow as he accomodated his own space in the cramped corridor.
Harry’s eyes widened at the leg flying at him from out of the shadows, and ducked. It swung above him, and he felt the slight breeze as his foot swiped the air. Taking the chance, he rose up inside of him, charging him in his gut with his shoulder, slamming him back into his shadow on the wall.
Risking it, he let go of his two handed grip and with his right he grabbed the warlock’s close fitting outfit at the front of the neck, his fingers closing around in a tremendous grip.
“Kenna! Run NOW!
Kenna rook off full tilt towards them, narrowing her vision only to her objective- the elvator. There was a surge of power through Kenna’s body as she heard Harry’s grunt of effort. Lightning fast, he used the hold on his tunic to heave the bigger opponent off his feet and fling him across the hall into his brother. The other one realized that his brother was going to be pin him against the wall, and jumped backwards, the wall at his back. He planted his feet against it, and propelled himself over his falling comrade, catapulting over the both of them. The moonsault took him high over their heads, his body upside down right above Harry. It happened in such timing that by the next two strides Kenna had an instant of clear space to run through to the elevator doors. She ran underneath the flipping hunter, brushing past Harry as he flung the man against the wall.
Even in midair, Heshin swung at him, and Harry had to drop face first to avoid being skewered from above. Harry rolled towards the elevator doors and awkwardly got to his feet, putting a few strides between he and the two assassins. His back to the elevator, he studied the two warlocks as they once again slunk into the shadows, regrouping to counterattack. In a fluid motion, Harry sheathed his sword. Clasping his hands together and locking his fingers, his eyes bruned as he summoned the Infernus.
“INCIENDO AR RAMSFITAR!!”
Kenna heard the strange demonic voice and glanced back, desperately pressing the button to open the elevator. Harry’s elbows were out to the sides, mescles tensing as he forced his palms together, channeling magic into the hallway. Kenna felt a drastic reduction in oxygen as the air was being swallowed up by the spell. A moment later, a flare of fire burst from the sides of his eyes. The hallway walls erupted in flames, shooting towards each other in a progessive motion, forcing the two hunters to turn tail and sprint away from the crushing wave of death. One was slightly injured though, and he was halfway covered in flames by the time they dove through the ceiling-high glass window at the opposite end. The two bodies flew out of the hallway, a huge tongue of fire spitting them out of the building, showering glass in the street many floors below. Kenna screamed as she saw the entire hallway explode out into the night- a huge wave of fire engulfing everything in front of Harry. His hair was billowing away from the heat, his clothes immediately turning black with soot.
she screamed. What in the world was he?
“Finite,” he said, and the flames gradually subsided. Turning, he pushed Kenna in the open elevator. Screams were coming from the other rooms, and lights began flicking on one by one, the little space beneath the doors alighting in succession down the hallway.
“Get inside!" he shouted, grabbing Kenna and shutting the elevator as they entered. The doors closed and seconds later, the elevator dinged, and they were back in the ground floor lobby. He held her hand tightly, and they both ran outside, spotting the motorbike parked across the street. Harry stopped abruptly. He was forgetting something very important. Taking his wand back from Kenna, he pointed it in the general direction of their suite, high above their heads.
“Accio Medallion!” he shouted. The medallion shifted erratically on the bathroom counter for a few seconds, the chain rattling as Harry’s charm caught hold. In the next second it flew through the bathroom door, through the bed and floor, bulleting its way through floors of concrete and steel, somehow managing to miss everyone who slept. Kenna saw piece of the exterior wall explode in a shower of dust and a projectile flew dangerously towards them, fast enough to kill. She shrieked, bending low and covered her head with her arms. Harry raised his hand, and it landed neatly unto his palm. He draped it over his head; and let it nestle warmly against his chest.
Sensing that there was still a threat, he looked down the road. The two hunters were running full tilt towards them, their weapons sheathed at their sides, hands ready on the hilt. Right now, he could not afford to fight because he had someone to protect. Looking down at the trembling girl at his side, he grabbed her hand and pulled her to her feet.
“Let’s go,” he ordered. They ran across the street and Sirius’ motorbike magically roared to life. He got on, and Kenna jumped behind him, clutching him tightly. “Hold on,” he said, and she gripped him even tighter. He spun around in a screech of tires, the sound of burning tires piercing the serene quiet of pre-dawn morning. The hunters were fast, and were catching up as Harry accelerated through the lower gears. The engine whined with high rpm as he kicked in the flight gear. Kenna screamed loudly at takeoff, but he couldn’t care about that now. They needed to get away from here, and fast. The Hunters were fading rapidly in the distance below them, their faces contorted in fury as they watched their prey soar into the night.
”He is an excellent fighter.”
“No matter. I have touched him; all his strengths and weaknesses are open to me now. I know where he is heading.”
The burnt brother raised an eyebrow in a silent question.
“ The wizard hub at Rome.”
“He should be dead. Why is he alive?” Doholov shouted. The hunters bristled, they have never failed before, and the shame was eating inside of them. Keeping their eyes pointed low, they answered with steady determination.
“We know where he is headed, and have a plan to destroy him.”
“Plan? The plan was for you to kill him. What plan do you speak of now, wasting my time!”
“He has defeated our strongest, the Hunter Statham. We believe you underestimate this human. We will not fail this time, yet you must heed our plan carefully.” Heshin said it with a bit of steel in his voice, for a wizard to speak at him in such tones was unheard of. His honour was at stake, and that was the only reason he had to humiliate himself in front of the arrogant bastard. Doholov watched their body language, and decided it was better that he listen to their scheme. This was a fault the Dark Lord had; he did not listen to any one. That is why he is rotting away in ruins on some godforsaken rock in the middle of the Atlantic, while he was alive and well.
“Let me hear of your plan.”
Heshin nodded. Looking him directly in the face he began. “ The Wizard Potter is an excellent fighter, his strength of will is augmented tenfold by this strange power he possesses. His response instincts are above normal human standard, and the weapon he uses is extremely powerful. We know he is headed to Bocelli Plaza, closest wizarding center relative to his latest location. It is in the heart of Rome.”
“Very well. How does that information help me?”
“There will be crowds, and in crowds his Elemental ability will be nullified. He will not dare risk hurting the innocent. His nobility and recklessness are his main weaknesses. We will lay a trap, and we shall have him. However, there is task that requires magic for our plan to be successful. We need one of your men who is an expert at illusionary magic: we shall inform him of what he needs to do.”
Doholov thoughtfully tugged on his beard. Fighters who were smart, and knew when to ask for assistance to further the overall cause were few and far between. These hunters were exceptional; they knew how to strategize as well. Excellent.
“Interesting.” He said, and nodded to their request. Now that was in motion, the Auror Moody and Dumbledore were next in line.
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