Hogwarts was always a beautiful place just before the summer. The grass was full and green, and all the sleeping trees were back in their full splendour, their foliage once again thick and giving much welcomed shade to the students who wished for a bit of piece and quiet outdoors.
Rubeus Hagrid was getting ready to go about his morning tasks, grabbing a large bunch of keys to enter the greenhouses on the eastern face of the castle. Fang was as lazy as ever, not even leaving his nap basket to see his master off. Moments before Hagrid's departure, the usually docile dog jumped out of his comfortable bed, and began to bark like mad.
"Wha' is it, Fang?" Hagrid grumbled. "Ain't got no time for huntin' today, if tha's wha' yer thinkin'.” Hagrid went about his usual business when a soft knock came from his door. Fang was at the door barking in short bursts, as if uncertain if the visitor was a threat or not. Hagrid, trusting his loyal pet’s instincts, took out his umbrella, approaching the door cautiously.
"Easy boy.." Hagrid said softly, angling towards the window. Drawing back the curtain to peek outside, he couldn't believe his eyes. This was the last person he'd expect to come knocking on his door. Unlatching the lock, he flung the door open wide.
"Luna! Darlin’! Thank goodness! Where 'ave you been? Are you okay? How did you escape? What 'appened to Lestra-" Hagrid cut himself off as he finally realized that there was a man leaning up on the wall of his hut, casually positioned such that he would not have been able to see him from the window.
"Ruby, it's been a long time," Rodulphus Lestrange said in greeting, a charming smile on his face. "Surprised?" He added, folding his arms as he crossed his feet casually at his ankles.
"YOU!" Hagrid bellowed, drawing his umbrella, but he was too slow. Before he knew it, a spell at hit him straight in between the eyes, and his head buzzed for a moment.
"Come on, we've got to get the others," Rodulphus said easily, Hagrid nodding at once. "I have a little surprise for our favourite Auror 'commander', " Rodulphus said jokingly and Hagrid grinned.
"Aye, I'm eager to hear what you’ve been up to these past few decades. My bow is ready." Hagrid said in a much more refined tone.
"Good...good...you'll get your part, never fear."
"Can't wait," Hagrid said with comfortable smile on his face. "It's been a while, eh Ralphie?"
"Too long my friend, too long."
Harry did not leave the Ministry of Magic since Draco told him of Lestrange’s plan. As soon as he told Kingsley of these new developments the entire Auror division and the ministry police division has been in a code red state of emergency. Inter-department owl memos were zooming with a frantic pace, feathers and bird droppings littering the hallways like crazy. Rosco, the ministry house elf, had a right fit when things went haywire and was constantly popping in and out of existence all over the place with his trusty scoop and vanishing bag. Staff and military alike was racing from one corridor to another, a red strobe light pulsing in the ceilings.
Harry stared at the reflection as he sat alone on the centre bench in the locker rooms.
A flak jacket with numerous pouches covered his dark blue uniform. Brand spanking new basilisk boots, from the self same on he had killed. Very expensive, and given to him by Youri Llewellyn; the mathematical genius/bookworm from payroll as ‘standard issue’ replacement (even though he knew it was the Minister’s personal gift). His wand in one hand, a golden armband with four stars embedded in it in the other.
He looked at his reflection through weary eyes. Was he afraid? Was he really ready to do this?
The door opened, and Sol poked his head in. He caught Harry looking pensively at the armband gripped in his fingers. For a moment, neither man said anything.
“They’re waiting on you. You ready?”
“I’m coming,” Harry said tonelessly
The door closed with a soft click.
They were at war, and the enemy has made their intentions known. Even if Malfoy did not warn them, they got post early this morning from Rodulphus himself, stating blatantly what he was going to do. The cocky bastard.
Taking a deep breath, he pulled the golden band over his left arm. Securing his wand, he got up and resolutely clasped the Cloak of the Order of the Phoenix around his shoulders, pulling the hood up over his hair.
Time to go to work.
The Ministry of Magic’s armoury was a large building behind the training base, which was a few miles away from the Lionheart Order of Sorcery. The ten portkey stations were transporting personnel by the sixes and sevens, each arriving every two minutes. Harry Potter walked into the building alongside Sol DeFontaine, Steven Warshire, Rebecca Lestrange and last but not least, Draco Malfoy. After waiting exactly ten minutes, everyone had arrived, including all the division commanders and the minister of magic herself, Sherry Diggory.
Harry stood off a bit to the side as the Minister gave the three hundred and seventy six aurors and nearly a thousand police her speech, which was, to his relief, was blessedly short.
“..and with these parting words, I’ll open up the floor for a word from your field commander.” She looked across at Harry, and nodded. Stepping down the podium, she walked regally back to the other politicians and high ranking officials from the ministry of magic and allowed Harry to take the floor.
Harry knew this was coming, but that couldn’t stop the jitters. The slight lack of circulation from the band strapped on his left bicep was now a physical reminder of his new position, which added even more to his already high strung case of nerves. He knew that this moment would come, one way or the other. It was inevitable. Striding forward, he marched directly in front of the troops on the parade ground, instead of elevating himself at a higher level than them as the Minister had done previously. Taking out his wand, he incanted the Sonorous spell.
“I’ll get straight to it. I am Commander Potter of the S.T.A.R Elite, and I will be the one spearheading this operation. And ‘yes’- to your unsaid question- the same “boy who lived’.”
There were a few respectful nods of recognition, but other than that response, no one made a sound. Good.
“We do not know the enemy’s numbers, neither their fighting strength. What we do know is that he has threatened our future generation of wizards, and as a consequence, declared war against us, the strongest military force in Europe. Here are his exact words.” Harry took out a rolled parchment, opening it like a scroll.
“Tonight Durmstrang will be mine. I expect your forces would try and stop me. Tell your commander that I will show no quarter.”
Harry let those words soak in for a bit, knowing that Rodulphus’ blatant arrogance would incense them even further.
“He needs not warn us. We do not fear the Death Eater Rodulphus Lestrange. We do not fear anyone who cowardly attacks our children, our families. We do not fear terrorists who lurk in the shadows. His words are meant to anger us. We shall kill him for such insolence.”
In the corner, Malfoy grinned.
“Deployment is at 0900 hours, approximately one hour from now. There will be three forces set in place, one at Hogwarts, one at Beauxbatons, with the majority of armed forces at Durmstrang. I will lead the operation in Norway, Warren Jacobsen would command the forces in France, and Jeremy Kingsley would set up defenses in Scotland. Your respective commanders would give you your orders to co-ordinate all of our battle operations.
Tonight we will declare that no one, no one could threaten the ones we care about, and live to gloat about it. Tonight, we will show the enemy that our strength is not to be laughed at.” Harry’s eyes began to glow, much to the disconcertment of those who could see his face directly.
“And to Lestrange’s direct challenge, I say this: we do not expect quarter, neither will we show any. You have your orders. Dismissed.”
There was a simultaneous crunch of boots of thousands snapping to attention, all of them completing the salute with a sharp movement of the palm facing outwards at their brow. Harry saluted back, and then the soldiers dispersed to their respective units. Harry immediately turned and began to make his way to the weapons depot.
“Quite a speech, Potter. Getting comfortable being in a position of power, are we?” Draco Malfoy congratulated him as he fell into stride on his right. Harry said nothing, his new boots making clicking noises on the well worn floor. “Going all out today are we?” he added, looking at the full military kit Harry was wearing, complete with the golden band on his arm.
“You seem to be taking this quite lightly, Malfoy,” Harry hissed sideways at him as they entered the arms depot.
“Come on,” Draco said easily. “Lances? Flak jacket?” he scoffed at the Aurors around them lining up to receive their additional equipment. “Why are we even here? We-” he gestured between the both of them “-don’t need this-” Draco pulled at Harry’s flak jacket with scorn.
“Protocol, Malfoy. Just take one okay?” Harry said, taking two S-12A Battle Lances from the witch at the depot counter. It was a five foot long mahogany staff, polished and embedded with a diamond mesh enchantment to make it nearly indestructible. At both ends were arced twin blades, sleek and concave in its simple design. In the exact center of the shaft was a groove about an inch and a half thick and fourteen inches long. Harry ran his hand over the smooth finish of the weapon. When he was in Lionheart, his first impression of it was a glorified (and deadly looking) tuning fork. After he had seen it in action, it had completely changed his initial skepticism of its practicality. Both young men took up a weapon and after giving it a few hefts to get a ‘feel’ for it again, they drew their wands and with a semi-familiar ease, snapped their wands into the groove with a satisfying click.
“Heh- lock and load,” Draco grinned, even though this was more of a bother to him. “Just another toy, if you ask me,” he added as he shouldered his weapon.
“No one asked, did they?” Harry retorted. Rebecca and the others were a bit ahead, waiting for them at the Norway deployment station. The remaining members of the Elite already had their Lances, and so did the five hundred strong that would be in their division. Before Harry could go on to meet them, Draco pulled him back and beckoned him over. “What is it now?” Harry asked irritably.
“Come and see. I think you’d like to see this.” Malfoy walked behind the depot counter, showing the security goblin his ministry i.d. The goblin nodded in a knowing manner, and Harry frowned as Malfoy led them back into the antechamber behind the store front. Draco approached a high security door leading into yet another sub room. Harry watched carefully as he placed his palm flat on the third block from the right of the doorframe. A soft light emanated from the crack of the door, and it soundlessly slid open.
“How did you-?” Harry started, but Draco just smirked.
“Potter, you really don’t get it, do you? We’re the Elite. Do you understand what that means? There’s always something - in any organization, the regular everyday schmuck can’t see. Now, if you didn’t notice, you are no longer an ‘ordinary schmuck’. Carte blanche…” Draco tapped his I.D. in explanation, then snapped his fingers in the dark room.
Harry’s eyes widened. In this room were various and numerous weapons of all sizes and types. A twelve foot scythe was the first thing he noticed. It adorned the majority of the wall in front of him, while wands of different size and shape lined the wall on his right in racks, complete with name plates underneath them. A helmet from a medieval knight sat on a dully glowing suit of armour, a lone spike on the forehead giving an unicorn-esque attribute to the already peculiar item. A ball and chain contraption hung over two mounting hooks above, and a blood-red sash lay furled haphazardly on a pedestal, deceptive in its apparent tranquility.
“Forget those. Come on, are you blind? Look-” Malfoy pointed directly in front of them, on the extreme opposite of the room sat a glass box on a four foot tall pillar. It reminded Harry of a safety box for a very expensive jewel. Coming closer to the light overhead, the contents were no longer lost in the ominous shadows in this secret room. In it were two pieces of wood, something that he would not have marked notable in any way, except that for some reason, he instinctively knew what they were.
It was the broken remnants of a wand. Harry’s blood ran cold. He didn’t need to read the name plaque underneath it to know exactly who its previous master was.
After all, it was he who had broken it.
“Voldemort,” Harry whispered, suddenly talking in the same hushed tones that other wizards used when mentioning his name.
“Yes, the Dark Lord himself.” Draco noted. Dragging his eyes away from the destroyed weapon, he motioned Harry over to something that Harry could not have seen from the front of the room. “And that’s not the only thing of interest here. I think you’d remember this? From that very same night of the Battle for King’s Crown...” Draco showed Harry three swords on that sat on the individual racks. A Japanese parchment was stuck on the glass shelf encasing the weapons.
“Those were the hunters’ weapons…” Harry noted, feeling those nightmare images run afresh in his mind.
“I’ve picked up a new hobby these days,” Draco winked. “This is Statham’s sword, remember? I’m collecting memorabilia of all our battles. And what better than a fallen opponent’s weapon to remember our glory days when we’re old and grey, eh Potter?” Draco said, even though his eyes were on the broken remnants of Voldemort’s wand. Harry barely heard him.
All he could think of was of once again holding a sword, the exhilaration of wielding such a fine weapon. His eyes began to glow, a sense of poignant loss running through his veins.
I want my sword back. Dumbledore will pay for hiding it from me.
“Well? Go ahead. Take them. Keep what you kill.”
“Yeah- We’re the elite, aren’t we?” Harry said in a far off voice, wanting to take it himself, but strangely enough, also not wanting to want to take it. “How do we get them out?”
“Music to my ears, Potter, music to my ears…I know a counter jinx.” Draco said, and began to disenchant the security box. Pointing his Lance at the glass shelf, the parchment unstuck itself, and vanished with a soft sizzling hiss. The glass barrier slid out of the way, and the weapons floated out towards them. Harry just stood there, as if in a trance, staring at the dual katana. “One thing that our good man Elias forgot when he devised these lances all those centuries ago; no way to trace back the magic!” Draco chuckled in triumph. He snatched Statham’s blade and sheathed it smoothly into his belt.
A thought crossed Harry’s mind. Did Draco plan this from the start?
“C’mon, what the fuck? Think we got all day? Take them and let’s go,” Draco said, walking off. Harry just couldn’t well just leave them hanging there. After all, he was the one who defeated the two assassins; so technically, this was more like the spoils of war…
Nothing wrong with taking spoils, was there? Especially when you’ve earned it…
Taking one in each hand, he felt a surge of lightheaded giddiness envelop him. He tucked both blades into his belt and covered it with his cloak. Waving his hand, he closed the glass shelf and hastened out of the secret room, trying to catch up with Malfoy who had just stepped out of his line of sight. When the door slid shit behind Harry, Draco Malfoy stepped out of the shadow in the corner of the room, a triumphant smile on his face.
“Quite useful- that replication illusion technique. He felt for his own trick far too easily...ah well,” Draco said softly to himself. Procuring one of the Weasleys Wizarding Wheezes bogus wands, he snapped it in two, and began disenchanting the security charm on his true target.
“Ron, what do you think is going on?” Hermione asked as she peered out of the common room’s window. They’ve being streaming in whole morning-”
Ron had a bad feeling about this. Immediate dismissal of all classes and students were to remain sequestered in either their dormitories or house rooms? Sounds like they were preparing for a battle…
“I don’t know, but it looks serious. I think we should put on our medallions, y’know, just in case-“ he said hopefully.
Hermione huffed, but did not contradict him. Ever since both of them were inducted into the Order of the Phoenix, Ron was always harping about wearing his medallion, basically wanting to show off. Hermione had adamantly rebuffed him all of the previous times, because Professor Dumbledore had given them instructions only to wear it when absolutely necessary. Hermione secretly thought that he didn’t want her to wear it because she would be able to sense Harry’s moods even easier, even though he was so far away.
She was getting frustrated, because even though she did want to see him again, right now, she had to listen to reason. He was too unpredictable, too volatile, too powerful for her to make mistakes like she did they met last. Once emotions got involved, Harry’s inner struggle procured itself into something very dangerous. It was a battle between two extremely determined individuals.
Basically, a bomb waiting to explode.
But, this was not normal. All of these Aurors on the grounds, and all over the castle parapets; plus the lack of information from the staff all added up. This definitely was not a drill.
She could feel it: something big was going to happen. Ron was right. They should put on the Order’s Medallion of Courage.
“Yeah- I think you’re right. Let’s go,” she said, and both teenagers went up to their respective dormitories. Hermione dug into her trunk, and took out her two most precious possessions, the Halo of Life and the Order’s medallion. Draping the chain around her neck she ran back down the stairs to find that Ron was already in the mix, showing Dean and Lavender and some curious six years (namely Creevey and his rag tag group of ‘Harry fans’) his amulet.
“Look, check it out- if you look closely, you’ll see a phoenix- yeah really wicked, plus I can feel nearby order members’ magic, and there’s a slightly heightened protective aura, almost half as good as a Protego charm-“
“Ron, cut it out. We should go and talk to Professor Lupin and Dumbledore. If they inducted us, we need to step up and play an active role. We need to know what’s happening out there.”
As soon as Harry ‘ported alongside the others at the steps of Durmstrang Institute, he was amazed at the preparations already in place at just his first glance. Stasis traps were being buried into the grounds at strategic points, and sentry Blast-ended Skrewts ambled diligently alongside the Beastmasters on foot patrol. Glancing upwards, he noted that the Ministry security officers were using combined Levitation Pulleys to hoist large catapults and artillery launchers unto the roof of the ancient fortress-turned school. Before he had a chance to blink, one of the infantry (technically ministry police officer) came forth and snapped his heels to attention.
“Commander!” he saluted. “Marcus Schweinsteiger reporting, sir. Rank: Ensign! Man number: Oh-oh-five-seven-three-two-two-”
Harry scowled. He also was a field soldier, just like the rest of them. It kind of irked him that it just so happened he was also placed in command, and henceforth had to endure all of this ‘commander this’ and ‘sir that’.
“At ease,” Harry said irritably, disliking the rigid ministry salute. “What is it?”
“Commander, this is the preliminary defense schematics on the immediate area, and our scouts are doing a quick survey of approximately a three mile radius, sir!”
Harry opened the schematic. His first impression of it was the marauder’s map, except without the names moving all over the place. Yellow x’s indicated traps, blue areas indicated patrol paths, a white circle indicated artillery range and red showed the most probable breach zones that the enemy would use to initiate their attack.
“What about the lake? Can they come from there as well?” Harry asked, knowing that Durmstrang’s flagship, the Desceptre; used a magical entry way to transport the students to any other fresh water lake in the world.
“Got that covered sir, the Whirlpool hex has been deactivated first thing at exactly 0827 hours this morning. “
“But that means that we would not be able to evacuate the students by that manner also, correct?” Rebecca questioned. The officer gulped. Rebecca was quite intimidating in her full combat gear, only a pair of violet eyes peeking out of a black scarf covering her nose and chin. Her hood was pulled so low down her brow that you got the weird feeling that you were talking to a phantom.
“Yes, sir! - I mean, ma’am..”
“What are our escape options?” Harry enquired.
“Sir yes sir! Er… let me check that…” Marcus flipped a few pages from his clipboard. “No portkey exit or entry for approximately thirty six hours. Complete lockdown of all portkey and apparation activity in-” he whipped out a complex-looking miniature sundial timepiece “-exactly seventeen, sixteen, fifteen-“
“Alright, I understand,” Harry sighed, stopping his dramatic countdown. “So we’re the last in then?”
“Non-combatant head count?”
“Auror Joseph Ulfalusi is on it right now-“
“The full complement of combat units is accounted for?” Harry interjected.
“Aye sir! Exactly five hundred and twenty seven accounted for- the S.TA.R. Elite squadron being the last team in, sir!”
“What sort of pre-emptive warning systems are in place?”
“When the enemy begins his march, we’ll have a twenty minute headstart sir! If the enemy approaches on foot our magic wards will pick him up at a distance of a mile due south and east, while the mountains on the north and west cut down the time to approximately five minutes. However, the rough landscape would make it difficult to move substantial numbers through there-“
“No. He’ll come straight at us, from the front,” Draco interjected, a smug smile on his face. “While everyone would be expecting a flanking maneuver, he’ll do the opposite and simply announce himself, you wait and see. He’ll be here- straight up the main meadows facing the front door. This will be the battlefield, I am certain. ”
“Warshire, Sol? What do you think?” Harry asked, watching Draco out of the corner of his eye.
“For such a bold move, he’ll have something up his sleeve, he won’t go through all this trouble if he plans to sneak around us, he’ll know what he’s getting into, and came straight at us.” Warshire admitted. “I don’t like it. There’s something too- too- intimate about his challenge.”
“Harry, you’ve got to be careful, I think this is all about him wanting to have a shot at you, you know that right?” Sol DeFontaine added. “He did mention you in the challenge, not by name, but it’s pretty obvious.”
“I know. If he really wanted the school, he would not have even warned us. It’s like he goading us out into the open,” Harry agreed. “The four of you, go and make sure all the defenses are in place, I have to contact Dumbledore and Maxine and make sure that Kingsley and Jacobsen are in position and an update of their situation.” Harry nodded at the four of them. “Marcus, come with me.”
Harry and Marcus walked a bit further off before Harry took him aside to have a quiet word. “You’re previously from Auror admin, right?”
“Sir! Yes sir!”
“Is this your first combat situation?” Harry asked. Marcus nodded eagerly. “All right. We’ll handle this. Just keep your head down, and follow your squad leader’s orders to the ‘t’, you hear me?” Marcus nodded eagerly once again. Harry would have thought him to be a green young soldier, but strange enough, he looked to be nearly five years his senior. It was sort of crazy, but he just had to keep up the high morale of his men the best he could.
There was blood to be shed in this battle. And he couldn’t guarantee that all of his men would survive. Something was very wrong about this. He knew it.
Lestrange, We’ll settle this tonight.”
The day passed in agonizingly long seconds and half an hour minutes. The excitement of being deployed into combat had worn off hours ago, and the men were becoming restless, nerves biting into them as they had the whole day to contemplate what was going to happen. Harry was pacing near the edge of the freshly dug trenches, the S-12A Battle Lance slung across his shoulders, both wrists resting on the long span of the shaft.
He remembered the drills, the weight of the weapon well. He had never used it, as these were only issued in full scale assault operations. They were too big and noticeable to carry around, for one thing. But in a skirmish, the weapon was designed to incorporate both a ranged spell caster with full wand capabilities plus being an up close melee weapon, the twin blades on both ends devastating to a skilled user.
The problem was, a vast majority of his troops were not battle-hardened wizards. Letting loose a volley of curses from afar was completely different to actually fighting it out face to face.
With a deft ease, he pulled down his left wrist from it’s resting place, and casually flipped the weapon over his shoulders so that it was held securely in his right hand directly in front. He held the shaft straight up, the lower end brushing the grass at his feet. Closing one eye, he held the blade close to his face, gauging the accuracy and symmetry of the glinting steel against the fading summer light.
Taking a deep breath, he gave in to the struggle. He wanted to hold them again, he wanted to hold a real weapon. Walking resolutely back up the hill, he decided to make a stop at the administration tent before he went to retrieve the twin katana.
“Marcus,”- he indicated that he could remain seated- “is there any more spare cloaking material?”
“Sir, I think so, Let me check-” Marcus got up from his single desk and ducked into the admin tent behind him. After a few seconds, he re-emerged with a shimmering cloth. “Last piece, not enough to make a cloak though- our artillery guys used up the majority-“
“This will be fine-“Harry said as he took it, irritation pulling down the corners of his mouth when Marcus snapped at attention, saluting him again. “As you were, soldier,” Harry sighed, leaving Marcus standing there at rigid attention before he bent around the tent and was out of sight. Retrieving the two swords wrapped in a dark pair of trousers he found a spot to be alone, sitting down with his back to the thick stone walls of Durmstrang.
Releasing his wand from the battle lance, he began to slice the material into long strips. Taking the sheath of one of the swords, he began to wrap the invisible cloth around the blade, the dark polished finish disappearing before his very eyes. After one was completely hidden, he did the same to the other. Using the little scrap from his handiwork, he concealed the only visible part of the swords, the hilts, leaving just the pommel visible.
With a little more creativity, he used the fabric of the trousers a source of material to transfigure two leather belts and buckles. Strapping them across his shoulders in a large “X”; he buckled them so that they fit snugly across his torso. He picked up both concealed weapons, and with a sense of finality, holstered them so that they crisscrossed his back.
Ah yes Potter, you feel it building as I do. The time is near. The craftsmanship is good, but it is not the same. You want back the sword as much as I do, don’t you?
Harry closed his eyes solemnly. He wasn’t up to talking to his tormentor, but he hated the fact that deep inside, he did want back Gryffindor’s sword.
“What are you doing?” a voice startled him out of his reverie.
“Rebecca.. I ..I was..” Harry stammered. He didn’t evens sense her coming, so lost he was in his thoughts.
“You don’t really need to explain, I need some time before a job to, you know, be alone and think about it. It helps, it really does, to calm the nerves,” she said easily.
“I never got the chance to think. It was always run for your life, or fight for your life. This is the first time I’m actually preparing for battle. Sometimes, I still can’t believe it myself.”
“Believe what?” Rebecca asked, coming closer.
“That I’m talking to you right now. That I actually managed to get through it all.”
“Why should you be surprised? They don’t call you “The Boy Who Lived” for nothing!” Rebecca teased. Harry smiled sadly.
Yes, the ‘boy who lived’. But those around him had to die. He looked at her. She had pulled back her hood, and her scarf was underneath her chin. It was almost as if she was trying to imprint her visage into his psyche right at the moment when everything was uncertain, when everything he stood for was about to be tested.
At the moment when he was at his weakest, when his blood simmered in anticipation, while his nerves clenched in trepidation, she was there cast her spells of mysterious glances and unsaid desires.
She was a beautiful woman. And as much as he wanted to deny it, she did get under his skin to the point that he did have feelings for her.
Life always had something up her sleeve to test him. And as fate would have it, the book with the answers was always sailing into the horizon; the solutions to life’s mysteries daring anyone bold enough to chase it.
What was he to do?
“Don't think about that. You aren’t going to die. You can’t,” Rebecca said softly, closing the distance.
“How do you know?” Harry challenged stubbornly.
“Because my life is woven into yours now…” she explained vaguely. Harry stood there in utter bewilderment, as she inched forward, coming even closer to him.
“And I’m definitely not going to die tonight, simply because now I have something to live for…” she said softly, taking his fingertips in her hand, standing so close that he could see the miniscule flecks of deep brown in her dark blue eyes. “Harry…I ..I..”
Strangely enough, she smiled softly, and gently pressed her lips against his in a feather-light kiss. “I believe in you. You will see us through tonight, and my brother will have no chance. He will be stopped, once and for all. ”
“Rebecca,” Harry said uncertainly- “this...this...I don’t know what it is...but we’ve got to stop. She, I well...you know...” he explained pathetically.
“Hermione?” Rebecca prodded.
“Yeah,” Harry said in an apologetic tone.
“She’s extremely lucky, you know that, right?”
Harry doubted that very much. He felt guilt well up inside. He had put her through so much, they had gone through so much…
“The sad thing about it, I think that she and I are too similar for me to be envious. Both of us know that there is something special about you, something that makes others wish to give their all, something that drives them to go beyond the beyond, something that only you inspire. You’re a hero. You’ve done so much, yet you don’t want credit for it. You’re different, in a good way…”
“I’m no hero,” Harry denied. True heroes don’t have death on their side. True heroes don’t leave a trail of blood in their wake. True heroes save lives, not take them away…
“You’re every goddamned-soldier-here's hero. You’re my hero!” she said with a passion.
Any sort of retort Harry had was instantly stifled inside his throat.
“And…as much as I want to be that special person in your life, I just have to settle with being just another name … and that’s what killing me. I want you to be with me. It hurts deep inside, because I’ve never had a crush on anyone before…” she laughed as she wiped a tear from her cheek; trying to cover up the embarrassing fact that she was still a novice in controlling her feelings. That façade of coolness she wore the majority of the time was simply a mask she used after she came to terms with the abuse she received from her father and brothers while growing up. It was better to hide behind that than allow anyone to come close to her, to know what her 'family' had done to make her so vulnerable.
But now, she had found someone that had brought up very strong feelings inside of her, feelings that was making her do stupid things, making her lose concentration. She vowed her life to him a few days ago, and now those self fame feelings were making her openly admit what she had kept locked away in her stronghold of secrets.
“I hope that, even if something did happen to me, that you know that my vow wasn’t an empty one, and I’ve never felt what I’m feeling right now, like when I am close to you.”
“I don’t know what to say. I’m flattered,” Harry’s stomach churned once again with guilt. She took his hand in both of hers, and hid her moist eyes by inspecting it.
“Harry, you will live for a long time,” she said looking downwards, tracing the lifeline on his hand. The sun was setting under the horizon and the coolness of night was wafting in the chilly Scandinavian air. “Your legacy will flourish, and your sons will be strong.” At this she began to cry once again, a soft laugh escaping her lips. “I don’t know what’s gotten into me all of a sudden. I’m a mess.”
Or maybe the fact that she wanted to be the mother of those sons- such a foolish notion that it hurt to even think about it.
“Er, don’t worry about it… it happens to the best of us,” Harry said uncomfortably, his hand still held in hers. She ran her hands around his torso, hugging him close, the side of her face on his shoulder.
“You’re not going to die. Not tonight, not ever. I won’t let you…” Rebecca whispered, more to herself than to Harry. At that moment, the sun had set in the sky, and a long bullhorn rang through the night.
“Come on, the wards have picked up activity. Time to go,” Harry said with a firm determination, letting her go. Rebecca just stood there, her legs feeling like lead.
“Wait!” Rebecca said desperately.
“What is it?”
“I-" Think I'm in love with you. She faltered at the crucial moment, and the words never came. “I- I’m coming!”
“They’re coming,” Sol said in a dark finality as he peered through the omnoculars. He couldn’t voice what he was feeling inside. Tiny fires began popping into existence on the edge of the apparition field, multiplying so quickly the specks of light began to resemble an Elton John concert during “Candle in the Wind”.
Harry was also looking through his omnoculars, his face grim as he stood in front of the ranks alongside the rest of his Elite. Two riders on broomsticks came zooming in, and they swooped low to a standstill directly in front of him.
“They’re ‘porting in on the immediate outskirts. They’ve spotted us, a few warning shots our direction. We didn’t stick around long after that.”
“Fifteen hundred, maybe more.”
“Fifteen hundred, you say?” Warshire said, determination in his voice. “That’s impossible. We’d have known if there were so many wizards missing or hexed. He couldn’t have swelled his ranks so quickly.”
“I agree.” Malfoy said softly. “There’s a trick we’re not seeing here. Potter, what do you sense?”
The others looked at Draco crossly, but the wording of his question did spark inquisitive looks at Harry’s direction. Harry grumbled under his breath. The fact is, Draco knew him a bit too well.
“I sense a high potency of dark magic, but nowhere near high enough for those numbers. Something is definitely wrong here, concerning the numbers of the true fighting force. And their formation, it’s strange. There are huge pockets of grey areas, and then spikes of magic power, then grey areas again. If this is the effect of the Fidelus curse, it doesn’t make sense. If all of them are under that spell, then it should be consistent, but the Occlumency is telling me different.”
“Commander!” Marcus was once again at his side. “Enemy forces are also approaching Hogwarts and Beauxbatons in what seems to be a co-coordinated effort. Initial reports says that a phantom force consisting of mainly Dementors and Boggarts are infiltrating Dumbledore’s field. A full French Army contingent complete with their vehicles are surrounding Beauxbatons. Maxine and Jacobsen say that they’re going to need reinforcement a.s.a.p. or else the school would be destroyed. Kingsley and Dumbledore report that they should have things under control, with the help of Ravenclaw.”
Harry thought for a second. Lestrange wasn’t focusing on Hogwarts, as seen by his paltry attempt to take Dumbledore with expendable forces. Using the Muggle army against Beauxbatons was unexpected, but if it was only non-magical forces, they should be able to escape unharmed. However, the school will be most likely be destroyed. This meant that his true focus was here, while the other attacks were more glorified diversions than a true assault.
Either way, Lestrange was doing his best to keep Dumbledore, Ravenclaw and the Order busy.
“Incoming projectile! Wait- no, it’s an owl,” Sol said, peering though his omnoculars. The owl glided in smoothly, landing a few feet away, staring at its audience with its large brown eyes. The owl’s wings slumped in defeat, and with a last pitiful hoot, it suddenly whipped its own neck around full circle. It dropped dead, the legs pointing upwards at the night sky. On one of the legs, was a note. Harry couldn’t believe it. He actually used the Fidelus Curse on the bird.
With utmost disgust at the enemy, Harry swore. With a firm resolution, he pointed his Lance, and the parchment zoomed into his hand. On it were only two short lines.
“Hello, Harry. Thank you for coming to my little party.
Regards, Rodulphus Lestrange.”
“Argh!” Harry cursed the paper and it combusted in his hands, his fingers igniting it with the Infernus. “Who the fuck does he think he is?!”
“Careful Potter,” Draco snickered. “Don’t lose it on us just yet,” he chuckled. “Summers!” he called out behind him.
“Aye sir?” he shouted back.
“Are they in range?” Draco asked.
“Soon they will be.”
“Assemble the two hundred I asked for on the level three. They know what spell I want."
Harry just glared at the oncoming horde. He will definitely kill him tonight!
“Potter, think you can handle 'em?”
“Yes,” Harry growled, his anger simmering below the surface.
“Good. I’ll give you the extra protection.” Malfoy raised his hand above Harry’s head, and his eyes burned red. “Inferimandi Protus Demescier Dos!” Harry’s infernus ability spiked, and his eyes burned red for a few seconds as the spell settled on him. “Archers, wait for my signal, understood?”
“Artillery?” Draco shouted at the fourth storey behind him.
“All Fifteen locked and loaded, cap’n!”
Draco jokingly began to ‘warm up’ Harry’s shoulders as if he was preparing between rounds in a boxing ring. Harry angrily shoved them off and began to pace in front of the ranks, his eyes never leaving the approaching horde. The ground began to tremble as the masses marched forward, their battle torches progressing slowly towards the castle grounds proper. As if they new exactly the range of the Ministry’s artillery catapults and heavy ranged units, they came to a full halt, their staffs drumming the ground in a rhythmic pounding.
The two armies squared off, the drumming of thousands of feet and battle torches rumbling for miles in all directions. The apparantly overwhelmed Ministry forces just stood there, waiting for them to advance into firing range.
Rebecca surreptitiously observed everyone’s expressions. The front rank had a look of blank numbness on most of their faces, a grim line pulling down the corners of their mouths as they stood in rigid military formation, their lances shouldered against their deep red uniforms. She could almost feel their apprehensions and doubts rising. Sol was chewing down on his cigar, the crow’s feet at his eyes clearly visible on his weathered face. His hood was pulled back, his eyes staring fiercely at the army nearly a kilometer away. Warshire had a look of grave finality, as if he knew what the risks were, yet was not afraid to take them. Malfoy stood there calmly, his hood covering a good look at his face, his arms crossed imperiously across his chest. The only thing she really could see was a slight smirk on his face. What was he up to?
On the completely other end of the scale, Harry was absolutely livid, pacing up and down like a caged animal, his eyes never leaving the flickering lights in the distance. For nearly twenty minutes he said nothing, just pacing up and down, and she could plainly see that he was holding himself in check. After what must have been his one hundredth oscillations in that ten metre span, he turned towards his mean, not even breaking stride.
“LISTEN UP, ALL OF YOU MOTHER FUCKERS!!” Harry shouted at his men. “HE’S DEAD, YOU HEAR ME? THEY’RE ALL FUCKING DEAD !” he said in a uncontrolled rage, spittle flying from his mouth as he pointed his lance straight at the enemy, his eyes to burning with a ferocity to match his voice.
There was a deafening shout, and the Ministry began to pound their lances in the ground as well, the roar resonating against the castle walls. Harry’s hair came alive as he whipped his head to glare at the army again, feeling all of his magic surging to the surface. Letting it all out, he screamed at himself more than anyone else, but you had to be deaf not to hear it, even above the chanting.
“QUARTER? QUARTER?!! HOW DARE HE! I WILL SHOW NO QUARTER!” he shouted, gesticulating wildly with his lance.
The ministry chant began to take on form, and Rebecca felt a wave of national pride swamp her as the two syllable chant became more distinct to her ears..
- A H -
“WHAT ARE YOU WAITING ON??!” Harry screamed, his voice growing even more powerful with each word, the sonorous spell automatically kicking in- fueled by his magic. “FUCKING BLOODY COWARDS!!”
T E R !
Harry marched back and forth in forceful strides as his head whipped in between his men and the horde- curses escaping his mouth randomly as he vented his frustration and anger towards his nemesis; Rodulphus Lestrange.
P A H -
The pounding of the horde escalated to a climax-
T E R -
The Ministry forces stabbed their lances into the soft earth again and again, the opposite ends sending sparks into the night as each and every soldier’s fighting spirit skyrocketed by their Commander’s sudden bout of magically enhanced Tourette’s syndrome.
The shouting match continued on for yet another five minutes, until the horde stopped their drumming, their torches parting to allow a figure to emerge from the darkened aisle down the middle.
At this, Harry stopped, straining his eyes to see who was marching alone into the open.
“ARCHERS!” Draco commanded, ready to let fly, until Harry’s right fight shot up, issuing the command to halt.
“Wait,” Harry said darkly, his control once again firmly in place.
“POTTER!” a voice echoed from the empty field. “COME DOWN!” he challenged, shooting up a ball of fire from his wand.
Harry yanked Sol’s omnoculars from around his neck, so enraged that he didn’t realize his own still hung on his chest.
“Who the fuck it that?” Harry asked no one in particular.
“He’s huge!” Rebecca commented, watching the burly wizard as he spit forward insults at Harry’s mother, his pathetic army, his father, grandfather-
“ARE YOU AFRAID? IS THIS YOUR COMMANDER? HE’S JUST A BOY!”
“It’s not Lestrange,” Harry noted, his temper simmering down.
“COME DOWN, YOU LITTLE SHIT! LET ME CLEAVE YOU IN HALF WITH THIS!” the wizard brandished a massive sword, easily six feet in length.
Harry began his pacing once again, his teeth bared in a grin. The Lance in his hand began to emit sparks and glow a burning red as he once again began his self ramblings, his eyes focused on the one challenging him.
“WELL LADS?! THIS IS WHAT WE’RE FOR, AH?!” Harry shouted, thrusting his lance into the air. “HE WANTED FIRST, SO WE’LL HAPPILY GIVE HIM FIRST!” he screamed without true intellectual meaning or purpose, without really caring what came out of his mouth. Draco simply smiled as these men who were mere cowardly dogs this afternoon howled like an army of drunken bastards. And without another word, Harry jumped five feet in the air and shoved the scout off of his broomstick, mounted, and flew down to face the challenge before the baffled wizard hit the ground.
“Malfoy, what the fuck is he?” Sol asked a few seconds later, his jaw dropping at Potter’s sudden loss of control.
“Relax, and enjoy the show. Basically, we’re just the cleanup crew,” and with that, Draco took off Sirius’ cloak and the ministry cape below that, folding it neatly and vanishing it with his lance. “ARCHERS, REMEMBER! ON MY COMAND!”
There was a shout of acknowledgment, and Draco turned towards the front ranks. “Reinforce each other’s shields, and advance after the first volley one hundred paces. In position!” he screamed, and the rows of aurors on the third level crouched low, pointing their lances at a forty-five degree angle.
“Potter, it’s time to start a war…” Draco whispered, watching the scene unfold below.
Zooming at full speed towards the halfway mark in between both armies, Harry jumped off the broom without even slowing down, the broomstick flying off into the enemy forces. There was a shout of triumph as it was immediately smashed, the first casualty of the battle. Almost a second before impact, Harry wordlessly used the featherweight charm, and momentarily decreased his body weight to land effortlessly on the battlefield.
“Who are you?” Harry demanded but the huge wizard wasted not a moment and tried immediately to kill him.
“AVADA KEDAVRA!” the horde roared in approval.
Harry calmly stepped to the side as the green bolt shot past, brandishing his Lance like a throwing spear, his free hand targeting where the point would strike. Not his preferred method, but at this distance, there was no need for a two handed grip, not as yet. When he got a little closer-
“EXPELLIARMUS!” came the second attack, Harry idly deflecting the spell with a flick of his hand. He was getting confused. Was this an amateur? His head was completely covered by a pointed black hood, with only eyes visible through two tiny holes. A bulky, black robe covered his huge torso, soft clinking noises indicating that he wore a sort of chain mail underneath it. “Expelliarmus!” came another attack and Harry deflected this also, his confusing building. Is this who they send to face him? Testing the waters, Harry counterattacked, trying a simple spell.
“Expelliarmus!” he shouted, and a bolt of light shot out of his Lance. The enemy staggered, but to his amazement, Harry’s own Lance flew out of his hand.
Seizing the opportunity, his adversary waved his two foot long wand and attacked.
This time, Harry was caught off guard and had to dive hard to his left to avoid the curse. Now he understood: the attacker was goading him to counterattack by provoking him using half hearted attacks. But for some reason as yet unknown there was a sot of Mirror spell or jinx on him, any magic he used would be reflected unto him.
Obviously he was at an apparent disadvantage.
Scampering to pick back up his Lance, he grabbed it and held it in both hands, brandishing it like a staff. Interesting…his use of magic was now handicapped. Circling his opponent, Harry nimbly dodged the following attack, then the next, and the five more after that, testing his opponent’s patience. When the horde began to call for blood, the much larger opponent threw down his wand and pulled out his sword, charging Harry head on, a strange half human yell coming from beneath the hood.
Sensing that his opponent was losing control, he jaunted lightly on his feet, waiting for him to come into range. The massive sword came down in a huge arc and he ducked and jumped away from the first attack, ducking the horizontal continuation, then diving out of the way of the final thrust. With a fluidity of a trained combatant, Harry swung his lance down at the his opponent’s forearm, connecting with a sickening chunk..
Instead of slicing clean through the thick flesh, the blade only sunk a few inches deep and stuck there, the giant of a man laughing off the pain and swatting Harry away like an insect.
“NO!” Rebecca screamed, her lance held at the ready. She began to advance, but Malfoy placed an arm directly out to the side, effectively blocking her path.
“Don’t move a muscle,” he said simply, then resumed his surveillance of the duel.
Finally landing after what must have felt like being launched into orbit from a catapult, Harry's head span as he violently coughed up blood. He had been hit hard a few times before, but this blow rattled his chest so hard his feet screamed in protest.
It didn't add up. He was in a fight- yes, but for some reason, his battle instincts, or should he say, Solidus’ instincts weren’t helping him at all. There was something strange going on. Getting up slowly to his feet, he surveyed his enemy through different eyes. He stood there, looming over him, laughing as he brandished Harry’s lance for his army to see.
“THE AUROR LEADER’S WEAPON!”
There was a loud cheer from the horde as he displayed it for all to see. Gripping it with the his other hand, he yanked it out of his arm. After showing all what he had in his possession; he roared in triumph and snapped the supposedly unbreakable weapon clean in two, smashing it down over his knee. He threw away the broken pieces, holding his stomach in laughter.
“ARE YOU THE SO CALLED ‘BOY WHO LIVED’? THE SO-CALLED ‘COMMANDER’? GET TO YER FEET, YER BLOODY COWARD!”
Harry willed himself to his feet, his ears ringing with that crushing blow. If it weren’t for his enhanced flak jacket, that strike alone would have killed him. But for some strange reason, he did not feel compelled to fight this giant of a warrior. Something should have been there, but it wasn’t…
“WHAT’S WRONG? AFRAID? YOU SHOULD BE, I’M GOING TO TAKE THAT DELICIOUS REBECCA GIRL AND FUCK HER AND RIP HER APART WITH THIS!” he placed a huge hand over his crotch. “HELP ME! OH HARRY, OH HELP ME!” he mocked, putting on a failed attempt of a female voice. Harry felt his anger raise a notch. “THEN, IT’LL BE THAT MUDBLOOD GRANG-“
Then there was silence.
In a the space of that moment, Harry had 'ported on top of the warrior’s shoulders, the heels of his boots digging in the massive, meaty back. All of his weight hung from the handles of the two blades crisscrossing right through his opponent's
neck. He could smell the sweat and blood on his enemy, his nostrils flooded with the smell of death. For a full second they both just stayed there in suspended animation, blood drenching the half-giant’s battle robes .
The horde grew silent as their Goliath fell to his knees, his hands flinching aimlessly as he struggled to stay alive. With a grunt of effort, Harry yanked out the two blades, using his legs to propel himself off the small of his back. Flipping backwards, he came to an uncoordinated landing on one knee, almost toppling over from frantically shivering muscles.
The silence permeated the battleground, thick and heavy, as if waiting for a pin to drop. There was a soft gurgling noise form the fallen warrior, and Harry strained his ears to hear what he was trying to say. Holding both bloody swords at the ready, he circled his defeated opponent.
As it was a man’s dying request, Harry obliged him by removing his hood. What he saw next would scar him for life.
These were the lasts words from one of his best friends, Rubeus Hagrid.
It couldn’t be put into words, the shock that paralyzed him. He didn’t scream, he didn’t cry, neither did he tremble with remorse. He simply used his fingers to close his dying friend’s eyes. With only a sad nod of farewell, Harry stood up, closing his eyes momentarily.
“ Lestrange, you have gone too far.”
“Excellent,” Draco mused as he put two and two together. The size, the build, it was unmistakable. The moment Harry hesitated on the battlefield; Draco realized that something was amiss. But if they were to win, Potter would have to unleash all, and not hold back. Now they were ready to battle. “Lestrange, watch closely. DeFontaine, this is why I substituted in the Arrow spell into our initial strategy. We would need light. And I am the only one that could provide it.”
“Light?” Sol said, his attention completely on Harry has he slowly got to his feet. “There are thousands of torches there, what the fuck are you talking abou-“
Suddenly, all light vanished.
The moon- the stars, the fires, everything.
There were frantic cries of fear as the area was cast into complete darkness. Rebecca heard Draco’s arrogant voice clearly amongst the mutterings.
“He is now ready.”
In the middle of the battlefield, two pinpricks of light emerged, and a tremendous growl echoed into the dead silence.
“ARCHERS! GET READY!”
Rebecca gasped as the two specks of light began to grow brighter and brighter.
“RELEASE!” Draco shouted, and a hail of magical arrows and fifteen large boulders flew into the air. Rebecca cried out.
“NO!” she screamed. “He’s still in there!” Draco raised both palms face up into the air, enchantments escaping his lips in a soft tumble of words. When it was done, his eyes snapped open, and flames erupted out the sides of his face.
“On the seventh day, God said let there be Light...” Draco clenched his fists and all of the airborne projectiles combusted immediately, momentarily illuminating the battlefield. In that fleeting moment, Rebecca could see the outline of a lone figure facing an entire army, two swords held at his sides. The battleground became an inferno as the Rain of Fire was called down upon the enemy's forces, their numbers rapidly depleting as continuous volleys of arrows arced down on their heads.
Immune from the fire, Harry Potter screamed as he began to mercilessly hack through the first wave of resistance, the twin blades ripping apart the ranks with deadly accuracy.
“...And there was Light-” Draco finshed the scripture as he watched on with rapt interest as the ‘Boy who Lived’ became the Legendary Omen of Death.
A.N.- whew! Long! I sat down and wrote this for nearly six hours, all in one sitting! Did you like it? Thanks for reading!
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