Ch 26: The Storm Breaks
(Author’s Note) Thanks for all of the great reviews so far. I’m glad everyone seems to be enjoying the story so far, even if you’re not always happy with the cliffhangers.
Ch 27: The Storm Breaks
Hermione eventually stopped crying, and ignoring everyone else, sat back in her seat and started eating breakfast slowly. Following her example, the rest of the Hall ate in silence, while the professors looked at each other in astonishment at Harry’s outburst.
Outside the castle, Harry paused to summon his Firebolt and then mounted and flew off. If he noticed the two cloaked figures that followed him from the Forbidden Forest, he gave no indication. After about half an hour, Harry hovered over a large green field bordered on the south by a steep cliff, on the west by a large lake, and on the east by an overgrown forest. To the north, the field gently rose to a small hill. Descending on his broom, Harry landed gently and dismounted, looking down at the field towards the cliff in the distance.
"Foolish boy!" hissed one of the Death Eaters who had followed him from the borders of Hogwarts.
"How silly to run away from the protection of Hogwarts and its Headmaster," added the second figure. "Now the Dark Lord will make you pay for all that you have done to us. Stupefy!"
Harry turned towards the second voice, but made no effort to defend himself. His face already looked defeated. Moments later, a tall, dark robed figure appeared, surrounded by about two dozen masked Death Eaters.
"We meet for the last time, Harry Potter. Did you truly believe you could simply run away and leave your fate behind? You are destined to die so that I might once again rule the magical world with fear and terror and complete power," hissed Voldemort as he raised his wand. "How fitting that you should die alone, all alone. No friend or family to aid you in your moment of need. Any final words, Potter?" he taunted.
Surprisingly, Harry spoke. "I am not completely alone, Voldemort. I have many allies willing to stand up to you and everything you represent. In fact, they’re all around us." With a wave of his hand, scores of wizards and witches materialized on the hill surrounding Harry, Voldemort, and the Death Eaters. With their wands out, they waited quietly.
Glaring at the Death Eater who had supposedly stunned Harry, Voldemort roared, "If it’s a battle you want, Potter, I’ll give you one a hundred times worse than any nightmare you ever dreamed!" Turning to several of his Death Eaters, he barked an order. "Summon my army!" When they appeared to hesitate for a moment, he screamed, "Now! All of them!"
"But Master, they can’t all apparate. Your plans have them moving…"
"Then bring as many as you can you fools! Down there, in the green field!" They disappeared, followed a moment later by Voldemort and the remaining Death Eaters, who then reappeared in the middle of the field.
"Your pathetic army doesn’t seem too eager to attack, Potter!" shouted Voldemort. "In a moment, I’ll obliterate them, just like you feared would happen. The last moments of your life will be spent watching the deaths of your friends and allies. Then it will be your turn."
Harry watched as the green field before him began to fill with enemies. Death Eaters were apparating with giants, trolls, wolves and Dementors. Harry and the wizards on the hill would quickly be outnumbered. Focusing intensely, Harry thought ~It’s time, Hermione. He’s taken the bait. Bring everybody you can.~
Halfway through breakfast, Hermione decided it was time to inform the professors. As she mechanically chewed on a piece of dry toast, she opened her mind to establish mental links with all of the professors sitting at the head table.
In surprise and confusion, the teachers at the head table looked up. First they looked at each other, then out at the students.
~Keep eating. Act as if nothing is out of the ordinary. Harry thinks there are still spies here at Hogwarts. Secrecy is still critical, at least for a few more minutes.~
~Hermione?~ came Professor Dumbledore’s voice.
~But how can you communicate with us telepathically?~ asked McGonagall.
~I am an Animagus. My animal form is that of an Athenian owl. For some reason, I retain some of the magical powers in my human form. But I really have more important things I need to explain.
Harry is going to need all the help he can get in a few minutes. Hopefully, Harry’s silly little tantrum earlier fooled any spies that might be here inside the castle. Harry leaving by himself will certainly draw out any spies watching outside of the castle. Harry set himself up as bait for a trap to catch Voldemort.~
~He did what?~ demanded Snape. ~Of all the foolish, juvenile…~
~That’s enough, Snape~ snapped Hermione. ~Not all of Harry’s little act was faked. He’s tired of being a target. He’s tired of endangering everyone else around him. He did this to protect everyone else as best he could. He deliberately left, by himself, hoping to draw out Voldemort so that we can finish this once and for all. Anyone who goes to help him will do so by their own choice, not because they’re forced to defend their home or school. He’s picked a battleground far away from where any innocent people can be hurt.~
~And why does he think Voldemort will appear?~ asked Snape.
~Because Voldemort is a coward! If Harry is surrounded by friends or protected somewhere, he sends his minions to do his dirty work for him. He didn’t take part in the attack on either the mansion or Hogwarts. He didn’t have the courage to try and get the prophecy for himself. When Cedric and Harry accidentally ended up in the graveyard, he didn’t attack Harry until his other Death Eaters were there. The first time he tried to kill Harry, he went in the dead of night, hoping his parents would be asleep and he could kill a defenseless child. When Voldemort hears that Harry has left Hogwarts on his own, he’ll chase Harry, with some Death Eaters no doubt, and try and finish him off.~
~How does Harry think he is he going to defeat Voldemort and his Death Eaters all by himself?~ asked McGonagall.
~He doesn’t. He will need all of our help. If you are willing. I think that anyone from the school that you think is trustworthy and would be willing to come should be invited as well. Harry didn’t want any of the students to come—he didn’t want to risk any more of them getting hurt—but I think it is their fight as well. He’s not always reasonable, you know.~
Both Dumbledore and McGonagall hid smiles.
~But how does he expect to survive until we get there to help him? Shouldn’t we be going now instead of just talking?~ asked Moody.
~He’s not alone. And we have to wait until I get the signal. If we go too early, Voldemort might escape the trap. We don’t want just Voldemort, we want everyone that supports him as well.~
The professors looked stunned for a moment.
~And who else is helping Harry at the moment, Miss Granger?~ asked Dumbledore.
~Well, Harry and I have been meeting with representatives from other groups of magical creatures, trying to form alliances or get promises of help. We’ve had some luck. Some of them are with Harry now. Others will show up later, we hope.
You will need a few minutes to organize the school during our absence, and invite the students you think would be willing to help. Then we really need to get to the faculty room by the Great Hall, so that I can show you the portkey we made to transport us there. Also, you need to alert the other members of the Order of the Phoenix that there is a portkey in their meeting hall that will take them to the battle. And the new water fountain statue at the Ministry of Magic will act as a portkey to take the Aurors from the ministry there as well. Professor Dumbledore, Harry wanted me to ask you to make sure to invite all of the Death Stalkers, Wind Warriors, and Beast Masters you could. I’m not sure what Harry meant, but he said that you would understand. Oh, and that thestrals would be provided as mounts for the Wind Warriors.
At both places, a small mirror will start flashing a series of bright lights, like the star on the Christmas tree did. That will be the signal that Harry needs their help and to use the portkey.
Oh, my! I haven’t even asked you all for your help.~ Hermione looked anxiously up at the head table. ~Will you come and help Harry?~
Dumbledore smiled and answered for the rest of the faculty. ~Of course, Hermione. You don’t even need to ask. Though I am sure you could have trusted us a little more and informed us a little earlier of your wild plans.~
~Well, we weren’t sure you’d really approve of our wild plans.~
~Indeed not, Miss Granger.~ added Snape.
As Dumbledore turned to address the student body and announced that classes were canceled for the day and that Madame Pomfrey would be overseeing the school for the rest of the day. He then invited all of the sixth and seventh year students to accompany the faculty to the faculty room and dismissed the rest of the students to their common rooms.
Hermione turned to Snape. ~That reminds me Professor Snape. Harry wanted me to help you, at least at first, in the upcoming battle.~
~And just how do you presume to do that?~
~Harry wants you to coordinate the strategies of the different groups we have gathered for the battle. I will be translating your orders for the different species. Just trust me. I can do it.
Now relax your mind so I can give you a visual picture of what the lay of the land is. That’s right. Now Voldemort’s forces should be concentrated in the large green field in the center. He’ll be pinned in by the forest on one side, the lake on the other, and the cliff behind. We’re pretty sure his Death Eaters will be bringing trolls, giants, Dementors, and wolves. But we don’t think he has enough Death Eaters to apparate his entire army. Plus he may have a few dragons. He may be able to bring in some of the undead allies he’s been recruiting besides the Dementors, but we’re not sure how many will be apparated or how many can come on their own. Hopefully, a daytime battle will prevent the most powerful ones from helping Voldemort today.
Now we have tree sprites, wood nymphs, and wild elves in the forest. We have mermen and mermaids in the lake. There are a few unicorns, and several of the centaurs have agreed to help. There will be a herd of hippogriffs, some thestrals, and probably some big cats. But the big cats probably won’t listen to you.~
~That’s quite a motley crew you have assembled. Not exactly a cohesive fighting force for defeating an army like the one you say Voldemort is assembling.~
~It’s the best we could do. It’s mostly to prevent his army from escaping.~
~And how do you intend to prevent them from simply apparating away?~
With a huge smile, Hermion explained ~The house-elves will be taking care of that.~
~The house-elves?!?! Granger! Are you and Potter insane?!?!~
~Listen. When we arrive, the hill will already be covered with images of Aurors from the Ministry. They are just that though, images. They can fire spells, but the spells don’t really do anything. They were props meant to do two things. First, scare Voldemort into bringing his army. Second, they will provide useful cover for the rest of us when we arrive. Our enemies won’t be able to tell the real witches and wizards from the fake ones. Except the fake ones simply disappear when hit with a spell.~
Snape looked puzzled.
~It’s something the Weasley twins have been working on all year. Don’t worry, they work.~
~Oh, if the Weasley twins are involved, then I feel completely safe.~ replied Snape sarcastically.
~This is the last bit of information I have for you. Harry said the field was laid out like the battle of Sargiwott. But the actual composition of the forces, both ours and theirs, was more like the final battle of the Smrythian Witch Wars. I haven’t studied them as intensely as Harry has, but he said you would understand what he meant.~ Hermione looked at Snape.
Snape thought for a moment and then it came in a flash. ~Of course. That explains Harry’s fascination with the strategies of unorthodox forces. They had discussed the most important battles involving two armies of wizards and witches. But they had spent what Snape thought was an unjustifiable amount of time discussing the various tactics used by very unconventional armies. Armies composed of odd and temporary alliances between wizards, witches and other magical creatures. Just like the one they would have today. Harry has been preparing both himself and especially me for this final battle. And he wants me, not Dumbledore, to direct the allied forces.~ Snape discovered a new level of respect for the young wizard.
~I believe Harry wanted you and Dumbledore to work together on strategy. I can help coordinate that as well.~ added Hermione.
As Snape went to talk to several Slytherins, Hermione watched as most of the sixth and seventh years from the other houses went into the faculty room. She waited until everybody that was going to enter had passed through the door, then she followed.
"I’m not sure if the Heads of your House have told you or not, but today will be the last battle against Voldemort. Harry is already there, despite what you heard earlier, and will need all of the help we can give him. You are not expected to be there, you do not have to go at all. In fact, Harry would rather none of the students go at all. He is afraid more will be lost like at the Battle of Hogwarts. It will be a battle worse than that battle though. Voldemort will be there, as will all of the forces he can muster. If any of you do not wish to fight in this war, you may leave now. Nobody will think any less of you," Hermione paused to give them a chance to leave. To her great pleasure, and the immense pride of the professors, not a single person left. "Very well. I will be getting a signal shortly from Harry, and then we will go. To get to the battle, all you need to do is touch the table here and say, "Victory over Voldemort."
Looking around, she noticed that both Lupin and Moody were gone. ~Where…~
~Moody went to the Ministry, and Lupin went to the Order’s new headquarters to alert them,~ answered Dumbledore.
They waited in the room quietly. Several minutes later, Hermione heard Harry’s voice very faintly, ~It’s time, Hermione. He’s taken the bait. Bring everybody you can.~
~We’re coming, Harry. We’re coming!~ She pulled a small mirror from her pocket and tapped it. It immediately started to give off a variety of brightly colored lights. She looked around at the others and announced, "It’s time." She placed her hand on the table and said in a firm voice, "Victory over Voldemort." The same phrase echoed in the room as the room quickly emptied of wizards and witches.