Chapter 6 : Survival of the Fittest
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Harry and Kenna were baking under the intense sun, the midday heat penetrating through the flimsy fabric of their clothes. When Harry realized that the cloaking devise on his motorbike was no longer working, he had to return to the roads before they were spotted flying overhead. Kenna was also much relieved to be back on solid ground again. At the moment, Harry sort of wished he did not have to be around her. That stunt she pulled last night was not sitting well with him. He decided if he managed to stay angry with her for a while she wouldn’t try that again. He was trying to blame all of it on her but knew deep down that he was partly to blame as well. He should have told her straight up that he loved another; but right now she was so distraught about everything that to drop something like that on her now was probably not a good idea. So they rode in silence, his jaw tense with silent anger.
He sort of lost his orientation while desperately flying away from that town, and could not be bothered to stop and check the map. Taking out his wand, he lay it flat in his palm and said, “Point me.” The wand rotated in his hand and pointed him at the direction of the Italian capital. He knew that there was a secret wizard center there similar to Diagon alley, and from there he could access the floo network. Something was bothering him though, but he could not remember exactly what was perplexing him. It had something to do with last night, but for the life of him he couldn’t put a finger on it.
After nearly four exhausting hours of nonstop driving through traffic Kenna finally spoke up.
“Harry, what happened in the hall? Men come out of shadows and fire from eyes and blue light and –” she blurted out, no longer able to keep it in.
“It’s a long story. I’ll tell you sometime,” he cut her off, still annoyed with her and even more annoyed with himself.
She was quiet for another half an hour, a bit taken back by Harry’s attitude. She bit her bottom lip in uncertainty, her expression worrisome. Harry was feeling bad about telling her off like that, he knew sometimes that he could be a real jerk. After what seemed like an eternity of strained silence, she spoke up again.
“Harry, you will keep me safe, yes?” she asked very quietly, sensing his rotten mood. He paused for a second. For someone who knows nothing about magic that incident last night must have really freaked her out. His demeanor changed a bit and he sympathized with her.
“I swear I will keep you safe, no matter what,” he said, his resolution firm. She deserved that from him, it was his fault that she no longer had a family and home. He could not see her little smile as he said those words, and she rest her head against his back, her hands resting lightly on his waist. He sighed, could things get any more complicated? He tried to shut out his woman troubles as he rode on, the towering buildings of Rome coming nearer and nearer.
Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks were sharing a room at the Masserelli, a little inn similar to the one in Diagon alley. Remus was constantly checking the window that looked over the entryway to the street, his eyes peeled for any sign of Harry. Tonks was in a very short pants and close top, feeling a bit too hot in her Wizards robes. Remus shot a glance at her and frowned slightly.
“Why do you keep doing that? It’s driving me nuts,” he growled.
She smiled a bit, was he thinking what I think he is? “What, you’ve never seen a witch wearing muggle clothing before?”
He gave her a “very funny” look. “You keep morphing your clothes every few minutes. It has nothing to do with what you’re wearing, just that its unsettling to see you wearing a dress one second, robes another, a bikini the next, and now this.” He gave her a once over, then peeked again through the blinds at the window. “We’re supposed to be looking out for Harry,” he added, trying to emphasize that they were not here of a fashion show. There was a slight “hmmph” behind him, but he ignored it.
“C’mon Remus, we’ve been cooped up here for nearly four days and he hasn’t shown up. What makes you so sure that he’ll be here?”
“He’ll be here,” he repeated, his temper raising a notch. She did have a point; he should have been here already if he knew Harry like he thought he did. He looked back at Tonks again briefly. His eyes opened in amusement, and he silently shook his head, turning back to the window.
Tonks now had on an extravagant fruit hat and a coconut bra on her chest, her legs crossed beneath a Hawaiian brass skirt. There were chac- chac in her hands, her neck adorned with a necklace made of small white shells.
“Wotcher Remus, you don’t like it?” She teased, sending him a saucy look. Remus couldn’t help it but snicker at her comical appearance, turning away from his view on the entryway at exactly the time when he should have been watching.
“This is it,” Harry announced, stopping in front of a bare brick wall in some back alleyway in the ancient city. He inched closer to the nondescript wall, intensely studying the brown bricks that interlocked themselves.
“What is?” Kenna asked, utterly confused. They were in a dingy alley, and not too pleasant smells were all around her.
Harry took out his wand, and paused, trying to figure out what he had to do to get in. O a hunch, he tapped specific bricks in the same order that opened the entrance to Diagon Alley. Nothing happened.
“Hmmm…” he said, stumped. He tried another method, but still the same result, nothing. His temper rising now- he was hot, he was bothered, and he was close to the end of his journey with this girl who got under his skin so easily it was alarming.
“Fuck it.” He murmured. He drew his sword, his eyes glowing blue. He slashed at the wall in a mighty blow, and stepped back. There was a slight crumbling noise, and the wall shuddered for a few seconds. He sheathed the weapon, and looked again at the bricks interlocking themselves. Taking out his wand again, he tried another pattern to unlock the entrance. As he made contact with the wand, the whole wall groaned loudly and it fell forward with a huge crash. Harry was momentarily stunned, his wand pointing stupidly at the now non-existent wall. A few heads turned at the sudden noise, incredulous expressions on their faces. Harry reddened; he didn’t mean to destroy the bloody thing. Well, what was done was done. He got back on his motorbike, and drove right over the now demolished wall that lay in huge slabs on the ground. Many eyes were staring at him and Kenna on the motorbike, most of them having never seen such a site as this one. A young couple in muggle robes were rumbling through the human traffic down Belluci Alley on a huge American motorbike.
Kenna was in awe, looking at the quaint buildings that sold everything from Quidditch supplies to pet owls and funny looking robes and books. “What is this place?” she asked, her eyes filled with wonder.
“It’s sort of a wizard’s mall. I think most major cities have one.” He replied, not returning any of the stares they were attracting. If he had looked behind him he would have seen some bewildered wizards already trying to figure out a way to restore the ancient wall that preserved their secrecy from the inquisitive muggles. One of them tried the Reparo spell, but swore fluently when the spell bounced of the magically impenetrable bricks and stung him on his hand.
They made their way down the street, straight to the one of the larger buildings at the end. There was a large sign on above the wide entry: Floo Transit. Harry paused for a second, where did he see this before? Driving on, he parked the huge motorbike in a nearby alley, and both he and Kenna got off.
“I’ll have to come back for it,” he sighed. He was very attached to it now: these were his first wheels.
“Karmena Meleon,” he said, pointing his wand. The motorbike shimmered for a second, then vanished from view. “The chameleon charm should keep it from prying eyes,” he explained. Kenna nodded dutifully, even though she had no idea what he was talking about. They went back out of the alley and into the throngs of people that entered and exited the main doors. Two nondescript figures emerged from the shadowy alley, heavy robes covering their faces.
“Excellent. He is here, just as we predicted. Wizard Avery, are you ready?”
“About bloody time,” a deep voice answered. He was fidgeting noticeably, he wanted to get this done and over with. This boy took out Voldemort, and an unusual surge of fear crept through him. He nervously glanced around, and followed the two hooded figures as they stalked Harry through the crowd.
Harry and Kenna made their way to the Floo Transit fires at the far end of the building, wizards looking at them in mild curiosity. Some even thought they recognized him, but the flow of human traffic was too thick for them to stop suddenly and really identify him. They queued up at the back of the public Floo fires, each wizard a bit grumpy at having to wait for so long. Harry idly looked about him, taking in the high ceilings and the many Italian paintings of famous wizards from the past. His eyes rested upon the famous Mona Lisa portrait, and realized she had the same secretive look and expression about her that Kenna also possessed. He looked between the both of them, a disgruntled hmph escaping his lips.
In his idle musings, he spotted a hooded figure moving amongst the crowds. Harry tried to follow his path, but he lost him amongst some of the taller people. On the alert, he turned around, and saw yet another hooded figure coming from behind him, then he disappeared as well. He turned, yet another hooded figure was circling them, their steps slow and predatory. Kenna looked at him in alarm and pulled his hand.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” she said, fear evident in her voice.
“We have company,” he replied, his face set. These fuckers were persistent. “They’re here,” Harry hissed silently, his eyes beginning to glow.
“From last night?” Kenna squeaked, scared beyond words. Harry silently nodded, his eyes darting from left to right, searching for the hooded figures in the crowd. His fingers rest gently on the hilt of his sword, his wand at the ready in the next. Kenna inched closer to him, clutching his long sleeve, her eyes wide open with paranoia. She felt energy pulse through her, and a long dark cloak slowly materialized around his shoulders.
“What?” she stammered, looking at the miracle occurring right before her eyes. Harry was still circling slowly, trying to watch all directions at once. There were so many emotions about him, the Solidus Charm that protected him was not picking up a distinct threat. His natural instincts told him better though, and knew in his gut that those were the same killers from last night. There was an audible incantation from behind him, and he spun around, facing the new target, his wand out and pointing at the source of the sound. He was about to curse the voice into a stupor when his eyes opened wide and he froze.
The face that stared back at him was no other than Sirius Black.
“Sirius?” he whispered, not believing his very eyes. Before he could do anything else, another wizard in front of him turned, their face was Cedric Diggory’s. He looked around in panic, yet another face, this time it was his father, he spun around again, a witch turned to him, it was his mother. He sputtered as waves of fear washed over him, he whipped his head around again, another Sirius, another: Professor McGonagall, more people emerged, Kenna’s adoptive parents, why was he seeing all these people casting accusing glares at him? His eyes darted left to right, they surrounded him, and there was no escape.
Keann was still at his side, watching Harry spin about like a lunatic, an expression of utter madness on his face. She tugged on his sleeve.
He spun to face her, and he saw Hermione, her face pale as death.
“Harry, why did you kill me? I died for you, why couldn’t you save me? I thought you loved me….” She was saying; Kenna screaming at the top of her lungs, trying to get back to him, but all Harry heard was Hermione’s accusing words. “You selfish bastard, I gave you my all, and you abandon me and left me to die….!! ”
“No… NOO!!” Harry screamed, tearing his eyes away from her, but everywhere he turned there was another Sirius, another James Potter, another Cedric Diggory. He closed his eyes tightly, and opened them again, thinking it was some sort of hallucination. His charm was going nuts, and magic gushed out in waves, his body reacting to the turmoil building inside of him.
Suddenly, a long chain with a short metal rod shot out of nowhere, wrapping itself around his sword arm. Another chain shot out from a different direction, circling around his right leg, effectively cutting off eight percent of his mobility. His charm, now sensing the direct threat, reacted to the attack, and ignited in full force, momentarily bringing Harry out from his madness. Harry strained with all his strength but he had no proper footing to resist the strong pull on his arm.
He toppled into a few people and all of them fell in a huge heap. Others now saw the long chain taut amongst the crowds, pulling this young man on top of people. Their gazes followed the chain to its owner, and most froze with panic as they saw the signature tattoo and ice-grey eyes of the deadly hunter. Most of these were ordinary folk, and the mere mention of Hunters was almost as bad as naming the Dark lord himself, except that at least against him you could actually fight back. A lot of the men backed off, adults without young ones disapparated, while families with women and children screamed as they rushed back out of the entrance. Harry was sliding along the dirty tiles, his head and shoulders taking a few kicks well, not giving him a chance to think. He was being trampled and legs clattered into him as he was dragged along the ground, many people tripping over the two chains that held his arm and leg. His wand had fallen, and he was desperately trying to unravel the chain from his hand with the other.
He got sudden inspiration. Instead of fighting against the pull, he managed to plant his free palm flat on the ground and use his augmented strength to push himself into a cartwheel, his restrained arm pulling him through the half flip. He landed with his restrained arm and leg facing the two hunters, his vision still picking up some screaming faces of Sirius and McGonagall, but he concentrated on shutting them out. He leaned back with all his strength, the hunters and him engaged in a tug of war. If he lost, he was dead. His horntail boots were slowly but surely losing grip, his feet inching forward in jerks.
“You are not stronger than us human,” snarled one of them, and both yanked hard on their long-range weapons. Harry was bodily lifted from the floor, and flung around the lobby like a ball-and-chain, knocking over many of those who tried to fell in the process. They spun him in a huge arc, and he crashed painfully into the wall, inches below where the paintings met the curve of the domed roof. His teeth rattled with the impact, his shoulder taking the brunt of the hard bricks making contact. He had a split second of clear vision when he hung momentarily in mid-crash, the polished tiles seemed very far down. There was no time to deliberate on how long it would take to fall, because the next thing he knew was that he was flat on his back on the hard floor, all the breath knocked out of him. He coughed once, and blood splattered about his face. They began dragging him again, relentless in their assault. In the corner of his eyes he saw a frightened Kenna on her knees in the center of the nearly empty room, screaming at him, but his head was ringing so loudly that he could not hear. He saw a man in a dark robe and Death Eater mask walk up from behind her, his wand pointing directly at her head. He was about to kill her.
“No!!” he screamed, and his charm re-ignited itself, taking control of his battered body when he himself could not. She is not going to die, he willed, and his strength came flooding back into him. With his free non-sword hand he gripped the chain that tied his wrist, and concentrated. He was being rolled over and over as the two hunters began to swing him again, his body bouncing hard on the unforgiving tiles. He was accelerating along the ground now in a big arc, soon he would be airborne and once again at their mercy. His arm and leg felt as if it was about to be yanked out of their sockets as his body was propelled through the air, the world spinning about his blurred vision. He was about fifteen feet in the air and on a collision course with a huge statue when his eyes blazed, and the chain was crushed under his vice-like grip. There was a sudden release from that hunter, and his body whipped around headfirst; the only remaining centrifugal force was attached to his leg. His upper body was now swinging in a collision course with the statue of a proud wizard, holding his wand high. There was a moment of truth, where he could have caught the arm and braced himself from impact, but that moment had passed and he had missed it, and was in for another bone crushing impact.
He hit it, and he nearly blacked out, his head bleeding from hitting the edge of the huge stone arm. He bounced off and fell the length of the statue, rolling down and he thought he heard something snap in his spine when he hit the protruding knee. He fell with a hard thud on his shoulder, his forehead making contact with the cold floor. His vision shut down, and his body was overcome with a dull numbness. Painfully opening his eyes, he stared blurrily at the man who was going to curse Kenna, who was crying her eyes out, screaming his name.
He tried a final, desperate attempt at saving her. Feebly drawing his sword, he targeted Kenna’s would-be murderer.
“Go, save her…” he whispered faintly, his mouth full of what tasted like blood. It shot out of his hand, and arrowed straight at Kenna. She shrieked and dove to the ground, but the Death Eater Avery was too slow. It plunged into his chest and exploded out the back, a deadly missile that made quick work of fragile human flesh. Harry smiled grimly, and was once again yanked into the air. He was going to die, but at least taken one of them down with him. As he saw the unforgiving wall racing up to his face he gripped his medallion, and with his last thought, mentally called for help.
Mad Eye Moody shot out of his smoke induced relaxation, his medallion burning his chest with immense power.
“BLOODY HELL, Potter! I’m Coming!!” he screamed, his mad eye spinning furiously. Grabbing his wand, he disapparated with a crack!.
Tonks and Remus were at the fallen entrance to Bocelli Alley, trying to help the construction wizards figure out how to repair the magic-immune wall when his chest seared with heat from the medallion.
“Harry!” he shouted to no one in particular. “The Transit, NOW!” he ordered, and he vanished into thin air. Tonks took a second to register what he said, and was gone in the next instant, the construction wizards scratching their heads in bewilderment.
Albus Dumbledore was working on marking the immense pile of Transfiguration essays stacked on his desk when his medallion burned in a desperate call for help. The quill in his hand immediately forgotten, his whole demeanor changed in an instant.
“Fawkes!!” He cried, leaping to his feet. The fiery-red bird took off at his command, and landed on his shoulder. The next moment there was a burst of flame and both of them had vanished in a puff of red smoke.
Draco Malfoy was in the middle of Quidditch practice with his team. “For fuck’s sake Goyle, hit the Bludger not the qua-” He was abruptly cut off by an intense burning on his chest. “Potter!” he whispered, and took off in a flash on his new Firebolt from high above the Quidditch pitch, getting to the very edge of the Hogwarts Grounds, his blond hair whipping behind him. As soon as he was outside of the anti-apparation field cast over the school; he jumped from his prized Firebolt and he fell like a comet from the sky. There was a loud crack! and he was gone, leaving his brand new broomstick to fall lifelessly to the ground.
Remus was first to reach the Transit and at a glance he had the situation all set. Harry was at that moment getting intimately acquainted with a twenty foot high wall wall, his limbs no longer moving as he slammed into the dome far above him. Remus was too late to stop the initial impact, but he immediately conjured twenty mattresses beneath him as he plummeted to the floor. Harry sank into them as he fell, his body flailing lifelessly. Remus saw the two hunters divert their attention unto him, but at that moment Tonks apparated next to him, wearing full battle robes, her eyes fierce.
“Hunters! Nymphadora; magic won’t work, we need to transfigure weapons to use against them.” He waved his wand, and a large lasso appeared out of thin air. He threw it at the one chaining Harry, and his aim was true. Yanking hard on the rope, the hunter’s arms were trapped and he fell, pulled off-balance from Remus’rope. His brother was fast though, and quickly threw his secondary short-sword, splitting the taut rope from an impossible distance. Remus was a bit dumbstruck by the accuracy, but at least the other one couldn’t swing Harry. Sojiro darted over to his restrained brother in a blur of shadow, and efficiently freed him with a blur of steel. They drew their swords, and split away from each other, both of them running in wide circles around the two members of the Order, their movements too quick for the human eye to catch.
Tonks thought first and pointed her wand at the floor, screaming, “Ingreasium!!” The floor was soon covered with a layer of slippery lard, and the hunters lost their footing, falling ungainly on the tiles. It only took them a moment to recover though, using their long slide to expertly regain balance and continue their pincer attack, jumping high in the air, the swords ready to strike. Remus and Tonks tried to run, but they themselves were also affected by the slippery floor, and fell after only a few paces, their wands slipping out of their hands. The warlocks were upon them, in the next instant their steel would penetrate, snuffing them of their life-
There was a loud crack! and Mad Eye Moody apparated into the fray.
“Wingardium Lleviosa!” levitating them out of harm’s way just in the nick of time. The Hunters landed simultaneously like tigers, their footing secure even on the greasy surface. Mad Eye dropped Remus and Tonks away from the action, and configured a long staff for himself.
“You young un’s aint nuthin, I’ve fought a hunter much better than you; bloody poofs,” he snarled, goading them to attack him, allowing Remus and Tonks to get Harry safely away. The hunters snarled at him, their pupils disappearing from their steel-grey eyes.
“Fool, he was nothing more than a reincarnation. You have spoken your last,” Sojiro retorted, and both of them sped off again in a wide arc, their images splitting off from behind them in a trail of hunters, creating a multiple illusion effect that confused their opponent such that they would have no idea when or where the attack would arrive. Moody stood his ground, and braced himself for the twin attack. He thought quickly, any good surprise tactic would be an attack from behind, therefore if there were two of them one would attack from behind him and the other-
He lunged forward and brought his metal staff around in a big horizontal swipe, making direct contact with the solid flesh of the real Heshin, the illusion on his left nothing but a trick. Knowing the next would be coming from behind he spun around and braced for an attack from the rear but it never came. Seeing nothing, he realized he was a dead man, the other hunter was coming from directly on top of him!! He brought up his staff in a futile attempt to prevent certain death-
Out of nowhere a huge stone hand swept away the diving Warlock like a gnat, sending him flying into the domed roof. Albus Dumbledore was now in the middle of the room; his wand pointing at the immense Wizard Statue, it’s stone from alive with the headmaster’s trademark Animation spell. Moody was partially relieved to see him here, but his magic eye spotted the warlock he had knocked down with his staff emerge from the shadow of the huge giant moving over the battle; right behind Albus Dumbledore.
Harry was coming round, his breathing shallow and the loss of blood getting dangerously high. He was looking at the battle, blood streaming down his face, and he now remembered where he saw this happen before. The stone wizard; the Floo transit building, Remus and Tonks in a losing battle, it was last night when he had passed out; all of this was in his dream. Everything in slow-motion, Moody desperately trying to warn Dumbledore about something… Remus and Tonks frantically searching for their wands… a hunter falling roughly to his feet from crashing into the ceiling….
“ALBUS!” Moody shouted, pointing directly behind his old friend. Dumbledore turned around, and instinctively tried to evade the slashing blade that suddenly emerged from nowhere. His years had gotten the better of him, and the Hunter caught the edge of his ribs and chest with the edge of his blade. Dumbledore yelled in pain, and toppled over. The young Warlock stood triumphantly over him, his sword poised in an execution-style grip over the injured Headmaster of Hogwarts. Moody seemed to be moving as if underwater, Harry’s red-hazed perception of the fight somehow telegraphed to him, as if he was seeing things as they happened yet all the while still remembering them from his prediction last night. Harry tried to move, but his body did not respond to his mental commands, he could only stare in horror as the other Warlock take off in a blur of shadow at Remus and Tonks, both of them unarmed and defenseless. These assassin’s recovery time was beyond amazing, but he could do nothing but bleed as death seemed imminent for all of them. At that moment he felt his medallion pulse with power and a faint glimmer of hope bloomed inside him.
“Inciendo ar Chensinte Fira!!” a deep voice bellowed.
The two hunters were immediately engulfed in flames, their eerie howls of pain cutting through to the bone. At a tactical disadvantage, they both ran into the huge shadow of the now immobile wizard statue, and sank into it, vanishing from the Transit Station.
Draco had arrived.
Moody summoned Remus and Tonks’ wands back to them, and went over and kneeled over Dumbledore. He was clutching his right side, blood leaking out of a long gash. It was not life threatening- his cloak had taken the brunt of the attack; there was a huge tear in it that nearly dissected it in half. Dumbledore wheezed, his glasses askew on his face.
“Draco, you must have taken a bit of my trademark talent,” he whispered softly. “Your sense of timing is… excellent….” Dumbledore smiled faintly, and closed his eyes, passing out on the floor. Moody checked for a pulse, and silently thanked Merlin he was still alive. Malfoy looked at Moody, and Moody nodded his appreciation.
“Where’s Potter?” the younger man asked.
“Follow the girl,” Moody answered him, his magical eye swinging to the back of his head, trailing the screaming girl who was running on top the pile of mattresses, desperately climbing up the unruly heap.
“Harry? HARRY?!” She screamed, tears running down her face. Remus and Tonks were also climbing the slipping heap of soft mattresses, trying to get to him as fast as they can. Draco calmly took his time and strode across the blood stained floor, oblivious to the fact that it belonged to Harry. He climbed the mattresses alongside Tonks, and looked down on the blond haired girl who was sobbing over Harry’s bloodied body.
“Shit, Potter,” Draco whistled in shock. “What in Slytherin’s name happened to you?” he asked, watching Harry’s face damaged beyond recognition and his arm hanging from his shoulder at a weird angle. His clothes were torn and there were visible black and red blotches marks all over his body. Harry’s eyes opened slightly at his voice, the faint smile he attempted made everyone cringe.
“Draco?…. meet.. meet your… s-sister.. Kenna-” He coughed up some more blood, and his vision blacked out, passing out again.
Kenna turned her tear-streaked face to Draco, and they both just stared at each other.
“ < Oh my god…> “ Kenna whispered.
“ What the -..” Draco responded, his jaw hanging from the shock of it all.
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