**CHAPTER 17- The Battle of Scotland Pt I: Sword of Gryffindor**
That weekend Harry was in euphoria. They were back together, and all the weight on his shoulders evaporated, he was so happy he could sing. But their happy reunion had a bad mark on it, and Hermione was distraught. After the Quidditch Match which Gryffindor lost by a horrible margin 300- 40, the Headmaster found out about the attack on Kenna Malfoy in the girls’ bathroom. After explicitly instructing the Prefects to maintain a heavy vigilance and quell any hexing or fighting between students, he was appalled to hear that Hermione of all people was beating up on their new student, and an unprovoked attack as well. Notices were put up all over the school about this very serious matter of hooliganism and that there will be a school assembly that Monday Morning.
Hermione was in a state, there were speculative rumours circulating about who it was that gave sweet little Kenna a badly bruised face. Everyone was giving Hermione odd looks everytime she passed and she couldn’t stand it. Harry tried in vain to placate her, but it was useless. She knew that very soon her pristine school record would be blemished and her academic career would be ruined. For her, the weekend felt like the long walk to the gallows.
On Monday morning, Professor Dumbledore called assembly in the great hall. He was visibly disappointed, and Harry never saw him so displeased with any one of his students. He motioned for silence, and stood up at the huge staff table.
“Good morning all. I have called this assembly to address a serious matter. It has come to my knowledge that fighting between rival houses before Quidditch matches have been increasingly prevalent over the past few years, and I tried to implement precautions to avoid these clashes. Our school prefects have been instructed to be extra vigilant for any sort of rowdiness, and I daresay that they have done an exceptional job. So when this, disturbing news, came forth to me on Saturday, I was amazed, and vastly disappointed.”
He cleared his throat, and called out in an even tone.
“Prefect Hermione Granger, please step forward.” The other students all drew in their breaths: ‘Hermione Granger did that to Kenna?’
Hermione trembled in her seat, and Harry gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. She gulped, and resolutely got up, walking resolutely to the staff table.
“For your shocking actions against a junior student, and because of the position of authority you hold, I am appalled that you would maliciously attack our new student Kenna Malfoy. Her brother has informed me of what has happened to her, and that she needed to visit the medical wing to stop the swelling to her face. Do you have any sort of explanation for this sort of behavior?” he asked; a disproving frown on his face.
She glanced back at Harry, but at the moment he was not looking at her, but avidly shooting daggers at a smirking Draco Malfoy, who was evidently enjoying himself. There were looks of pure amazement on some of their faces, but Ron, Cho, Ginny and Fred and George Weasley all had expressions of great satisfaction on their faces. She gave them a little scared smile, then responded to Professor Dumbledore’s question.
“Very well then,” he sighed. “Sixty points will be docked from your house. In addition to the suspension of your badge until further notice; you will have detention from this day until the close of the school term for the Christmas. I believe a written apology is also necessary.” His voice was stern, and the lines of his face hardened. He addressed the silent assembly in a loud clear voice. “Let this be an example to all of you. I will not tolerate any sort of fighting amongst students, especially when one has a distinct advantage over the other.”
He gave Hermione another disapproving look and dismissed the crowd. Hermione was mortified, she felt as if she could crawl in a hole and die. That was so embarrassing, the whole school saw Professor Dumbledore give her a severe tongue lashing and strip her of her badge. But then she looked at Harry, and smiled, it was worth it, and she would do it again if she had to. Keeping her head up high, she marched back to him. She had no regrets, and that bitch had it coming. Harry saw her firm resolution and loyalty to him, and he smiled, pulling her into a hug.
“Hey, it’s okay. I’m proud of you. I didn’t know how long I could have taken it.” He grinned, and Hermione had to laugh at his expression.
“Well, now I know what it feels like to kick a Malfoy’s ass- and you know what?”
“I should have done this a long time ago,” she finished, giving him a quick kiss on the lips.
Harry laughed, and they both held hands as they went to class together.
Over the next two months the young couple tried to squeeze in any little spare time they had to be together. That was getting harder by the day because Hermione had persuaded him to continue with the DA classes, even though Professor Diggory was quite competent at his job. Hermione sometimes could not make it, depending on how long her tasks during detention took. Harry was amazed to see his once small group multiply in number, and actually had to have two different classes to accommodate everyone. That, quidditch practice, and his studies all got in the way of any spare time he would have with his girlfriend. Their plans to sneak off somewhere after midnight were somehow always foiled, either it was Peeves the Poltergeist, or Filch and his cat stalking the halls, or the fact that Hermione was too exhausted to even stay up that late. So they planned for the next Hogsmeade outing, which they were sure they could get some privacy if they stayed back at the castle.
Unfortunately for them, Professor Dumbledore had some rather exciting news from the ministry. He asked for a moment when he spotted Harry and Hermione in the halls.
“Harry, The Minister of Magic has organized an event to commemorate the sixteenth year of Peace after the first war, and defeat of the He who must not be named. Cornelius Fudge has been hoping to have this set up ever since you returned to Hogwarts, but now he has finally set a date. And he insists that you two, Mr. Malfoy and Mr Weasley be the guests of honour. He wishes to congratulate you in person, and award you with the Merit of Valor, which will be embedded into the halls of the Ministry of magic for your outstanding service to the community.” Dumbledore smiled, and rest a hand on his shoulder. “Well done Harry, you have more than lived up to all our expectations. Your parents would be extremely proud.”
Hermione smiled, excitement written all over her face and grabbed Harry’s hand. Harry just smiled, and mumbled “Thank you,” to his headmaster. His face was neutral, he did not feel the same exuberance as did Hermione. The professor nodded, and walked off. Harry stood still for a second, his mind racing with jumbled thoughts while Hermione was in an ecstatic mood, practically bubbling positive energy.
“Harry! Didn’t you hear that! The Minister of Magic wants to personally award you with an Order of Merlin third Class! The Merit of Valor Harry! No one has gotten it at such a young age, and even then, you have to be at least a few years in a profession to get any sort of recognition. You’re not even out of school-” She paused, Harry obviously wasn’t feeling the same way she did to the great news.
“Harry? What’s wrong?”
“I don’t know Hermione,” Harry answered her, lightly touching his temple.
“What do you mean? This is great Harry!! An Order of Merlin third Class! That’s the first step to become like really great, like the Professor … don’t you want to become and Auror?”
“Yeah… but, something.. I don’t know. When he mentioned that name, I just got a flash of something, then it was gone.”
“What name?” Hermione asked worriedly. Harry frowned .
When word spread around the school that there was going to be a ball at Hogsmeade this Christmas all the girls went into a frenetic fashion craze and the guys now had to once again go through the tedious task of asking out a girl to the dance. The ball was a week away, and the post owls had a lot of work to do, mail and packages were flooding through the halls as daughters begged their moms for the latest dresses and fashions.
The boys on the other hand, was looking forward to just having something out of school for a change. Being cooped up in school was bad enough as it is, so having a dinner and dance under the stars in Hogsmeade square sounded like a blast, especially when it would be so much easier to smuggle alcohol into the drinks. Fred and George had shipments of stuff coming in at a ridiculously fast rate; they were making even more of a killing with Charlie running the shop and them doing business in school. Everything still had to be kept on a down low, but when you had Peeves the Poltergeist as your main delivery man, getting goods in Hogwarts was child’s play.
Harry felt a strong sense of Déjà vu as he walked through the halls during the week prior to the gala event. Once again all the attention was focused on him, and the giggling crews of girls that seemed to pop up at every corner was quite reminiscent of the Tri Wizard tournament.. He would have been cool with all of it except that something did not feel right about the whole blasted thing. Cornelius Fudge did not seem to be the sort of person who would so suddenly just decide to hand out awards, especially to him. After that fiasco at the Ministry of Magic, he thought that Fudge really had it in for him when he brought the summons to court July past. Fudge would never admit it, but Harry knew that he felt quite the idiot, especially since Voldemort had indeed returned, and all the while he was denying any possibility of that happening. So he walked through the halls to class as normally as possible, politely turning down the girls who asked him to be their escort to the dance.
His girlfriend, on the other hand, was ultra possessive ever since that Kenna fiasco, and those who knew that Harry was already taken stayed away, and those who didn’t found out soon enough when Hermione inevitably cornered them. Her reputation was now well renowned; everyone knew she could dish it out just as good as her boyfriend. When Harry heard about Hermione’s fearsome rep through the wire, he just smiled, and humbly continued keeping his low profile. Kenna Malfoy no longer scared him, and when they crossed paths she walked straight past him, her expression neutral. Cho had told him that she was silently nursing heartbreak, but Harry couldn’t care less. It was more trouble than it was worth to pursue any sort of apology or explanation whatsoever. She manipulated him, and he owed her nothing. As his mind wandered while he trudged off to potions that Friday afternoon, he couldn’t wait to spend more than ten minutes with his girlfriend, already imagining how pretty she would look all dolled up.
The Saturday of the ball Harry was feeling even more troubled. During Quidditch Practice and even his DA Classes he was a bit distracted, he felt as if something was trying to remind him of a forgotten memory which danced behind the cobwebs of his thoughts, evading his every attempt to pluck it out and hold it firmly. It was really annoying, what was he trying to remember?
Presently, the third year Jaina was practicing dueling with him in DA class but Harry was once again distracted as she tried the Paralysis Jinx on him.
“IMMOBILUS !” she screamed, wishing to impress her fellow mates and their teacher. Harry was caught off guard and when the whole room burst in a yellow flash about him his eyes blazed alive, his charm creating an energy field about him. The other students stopped and watched in awe as the spell crackled about Harry, then slowly fizzed away. Harry caught himself and diffused that sudden outburst of magic.
“Oops, sorry about that. Wasn’t paying attention,” he covered up smoothly. Something was wrong with him, why was he such on edge?
He decided that it may not be a good idea to continue for the day. Dismissing the disappointed year three students, he sat on the cushions in the room of requirement, trying his best to figure out why he was so distracted the closer he got to the ball. After a short while, he decided it was best that he just go and get ready and dress for the evening out with his girlfriend.
Ron was sitting in the Gryffindor common room with his best mate, talking over some strategy for the Slytherin match to come next year right after the holiday break.
“So I’m thinking, because I underestimated Ravenclaw and completely forgot that Cho is also an international England Player, we really in a deep hole now. We’re now at minus 20 and Slytherin demolished Hufflepuff by a full 300 points. They could practically win the tournament if Ravenclaw loses to Hufflepuff and we don’t beat them by at least the same 300 points, plus beat Hufflepuff without conceding any goals. Fred got suspended during the match for unnecessary roughness against Boot, but Jaina could fill in quite nicely. Oh yeah, Gravison can’t play either, the match is on Friday the 13 and his whole family is hexed with bad luck on that day from since his great-great grandfather, so he says he has to sit it out. Well that’s okay, cause Ginny says she rather be chaser-”
Ron was continuing on, but Harry was split between being anxious to see Hermione all dressed up again and trying to shut out what was pestering him whole week. Ron was wearing some really cool dress robes. He had also shaved and trimmed his hair, trying his best to look good for his date. Which by the way, he hasn’t really come out said exactly who she was, even though it was pretty obvious. Breaking the Quidditch talk, Harry changed the topic of conversation.
“Who are you taking tonight?” Harry interrupted him. Ron shut up immediately and hesitated.
“Err- well I guess you would know eventually, but I might as well make it official. Umm- Well me and Cho are sort of like an item now,” he smiled a bit embarrassedly.
“That’s great man. I’m happy for you,” Harry replied warmly. “So why all the ‘hush hush’ when it’s so obvious?”
“It is? Well I don’t know, we were sort of hanging out a lot and I found her to be really cool and understanding, so we became friends. Then one day when we were looking at the prefects roster of who should patrol where for the following week, we happened to turn towards each other at the same time, and I don’t know, she just up and kissed me, and I- I-“
“It was amazing. I never really thought that anything was gonna happen between us after well, y’know.. you, but since we’ve been spending more time together..”
“Hey it’s cool, Cho’s hot, and if you-“
“Excuse me? What did you just say about who being ‘hot’?” Hermione said imperiously, standing at the top of the stairs. Harry’s eyes seem to transfix on her, his mouth hanging open dumbly. She descended the stairway gracefully her lips teasing in a half smile. She was wearing a short white dress that hugged her hips with tiny straps that draped her shoulders. Her hair bounced as it curled about her face, and she wore beautiful low heels to complement the whole look. Ron also stared, but trying his best to be a gentleman, he closed his mouth and stood up. Harry got the hint and sprang up from the sofa as if his pants were one fire.
“Ahem-” Ron cleared his throat noticeable. “Guess I should go and pick up Cho, see you guys in a bit,” he gulped, and left the room. Hermione approached her boyfriend and smiled.
“You… you look a-amazing,” Harry stammered. Jeez, he definitely was suffering from severe withdrawal symptoms. She twirled about in a mock model spin, and smiled.
“Thank you, I must say you look rather dashing yourself,” Hermione looked at Harry, he was wearing all black dress robes, and the cloak of the order of the Phoenix was draped over the arm of the sofa. However, her eyes narrowed when she saw the velvet-wrapped sword propped against the wall.
“What are you taking that for?” she indicated to the weapon.
“I’m not leaving without it,” He said flatly, and Hermione knew better than to argue. “Ready?” he asked, offering her the crook of her arm. “We get VIP treatment tonight, we get to go in a luxury coach pulled by one of Madame Maxine’s horses, courtesy of the Ministry of Magic, of course…” he grinned at her.
“Wow, okay, I guess they really are pulling all the stops aren’t they?”
Harry nodded, and they met their friends at the Great Hall, everyone all dapper and dashing in their new outfits. They spotted Draco Malfoy in very expensive all white Robes, complete with gold buttons and the Malfoy crest on the shoulder. His date was a stunning Hufflepuff fourth year, much to everyone’s surprise, and Parkinson’s disappointment. Harry greeted Cho and Luna, who was going with Zachariah Smith while Hannah was going with Dean Thomas. Neville was looking mightily pleased with Ginny on his arm, and beamed at Harry. His eyes flashed at the weapon wrapped in the decorative cloth held in Harry’s hand.
“Wow, is that the sword? Can I see it?”
Harry hesitated, but he knew that no one else could open it, so he reluctantly handed it over to him. Everyone oohed and aaahed over it, and Harry got a bit uneasy everyone gawking over his prized weapon. He made to reach for it when Neville suddenly pulled the blade free from its sheath. Harry froze on the spot, dumbstruck.
“Harry man, this is brilliant, you killed the basilisk with this?” He held it up to the light.
“Neville, listen to me, be very careful with that thing! Here, I think you should hand it to me,” Harry said nervously. Neville gave it back to him, and everyone felt the surge of power momentarily surround them before Harry sheathed the weapon in its case, wrapping the velvet around it carefully. Ron eyed Neville skeptically, as did Hermione. Draco was watching closely to what was going on, and sauntered over.
“Careful Longbottom, it’s not only snake’s blood that thing has drawn -” Draco smirked.
Harry bristled, he had a feeling he knew where Malfoy was going with this. He kept back his tongue, but Draco just had to run his mouth.
“Do you really know what that is? Potter here has murdered more than a handful of people since he touched that sword, and he’s gotten quite good at it,” Draco remarked nastily.
“That’s enough Malfoy,” Harry snarled, but it was too late. The other students who heard sort of backed off from Harry, and now watched the weapon (and its owner) with more revulsion than awe. For a sword was meant to kill, and it dawned on them that Harry really was a killer, and that was his tool of death. Harry donned his cloak and soundlessly attached the weapon to his belt. Looking at Hermione to see her reaction, she as well was a bit unnerved by Draco’s words.
“C’mon, let’s go,” he said softly, and she caught herself and followed him out of the hall.
“Harry, what was that about? Was that true?” Hermione asked. Harry sighed, but said nothing. Hermione followed him silently into the large carriage, followed by Ron and Cho. After a strained silence of about two minutes, she asked again.
“Please, tell me, is that true?” She asked again, a bit irritated that Harry had ignored her the first time. Harry tried to hide his annoyance, but Hermione was determined.
“YES! ITS TRUE, OKAY?” he burst out suddenly. Cho, Ron and Hermione went silent, and Harry tried to rub the frustration out of his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. “Listen,” he sighed once again. “I’m sorry… I did not mean to shout, I –ah- I just didn’t want you to know and ..it bothers me, so let’s just don’t talk about it, okay?”
The rest of the journey was somber and quiet, Ron noticing that Harry was once again slipping into his brooding self. Damn Malfoy, he just knew how to fuck things up for Harry didn’t he! The carriage arrived at Hogsmeade’s town square after 8 o’clock. The threstral driven coaches had already brought most of the other students here, and the town hall next door was filled with townsfolk waiting for the Minister of Magic and the young heroes from Hogwarts to arrive.
At that same moment, a group of wizards and two non humans were watching intently at the looking glass on the wall of a Cathedral in the open plains of England’s countryside.
“Ah Pettigrew,” Doholov said. “That is your target. You know what to do. Do NOT fail when the time comes. Our two young friends here are always in need of some practice.” Wormtail gulped visibly, and the hunters showed their first ever hint of a smile.
“You see? When hunters smile, do not expect pleasant things. Come now, I’m sure there will be lots of food and drink, let us mingle with our enemies, shall we? Our host ”– he nodded at Godfrey Snape who was staring into the pensieve- “will be most accommodating. Please be discreet, tonight is a night for celebration, plenty of time for killing in the very near future.” He smiled, and all of them disappeared from the chilly cathedral, leaving Godfrey Snape to concentrate on the task at hand.
When Harry and the others disembarked from their luxurious ride, they caught their breaths in astonishment. The village square was highly decorated with Oriental Red lanterns, with bouquets of flowers at each table. The tables themselves were draped with beautiful table linen, each with seating for approximately six people. At one end there was a stage with a podium for a speaker, and in the background was a shiny drum set and instruments; which was most likely prepared for the live set later. There were human waiters at the ready (instead of elves) and a bar at the far corner. It was a subdued, romantic setting; there were a few well spaced trees that allowed the stars to twinkle at them through the leaves above. Hermione smiled as she cuddled up to Harry’s side, taking his hand in an affectionate gesture.
“Oooh, isn’t this just beautiful?” she said in a dreamy voice. Harry glanced at her, but he did not have the same ‘nice feeling’ about this as she did. Trying to hide it, he smiled and returned the little squeeze on her hand.
“Yeah, it is,” he admitted, and glanced at Ron and Cho, who were also feeling the romance in the air. Harry chided himself, what was he worried about? Everyone from school was here, the Entire order was out in full force, ministry security and the Aurors were also milling around, and most of all Professor Dumbledore was here. He was just being silly. Looking around, everyone was in high spirits, and he seemed to be the only person not totally going with the flow. His eyes caught those of Malfoy’s and for a split second he could see that something was bothering him as well, and they both saw it in each other’s expressions. Their mutual connection was short lived, the beautiful girl next to Draco whispered something in his ear and he bent low to tell her something in return.
“Ah- Harry my boy, where were you?! I’ve been pulling out all my hair when you didn’t show for practice anymore!” Harry turned, and a very hyperactive Ludo Bagman came up to him, taking his hand in a firm handshake. “Always knew you had it in you, bloody marvelous thing you did, and you deserve a little recognition eh? Anyway, back to Quidditch- when I was your age I used to play for Hufflepuff against James, brilliant player I daresay, he would have been proud if he could he his son all grown up now,” Bagman said, smiling warmly. “I know you’ve been through a lot, but you have to come back and train! Your country needs you! And I am fed up of all the fan mail coming to my office, even if you don’t return at least leave a bloody forwarding address next time you pull a stunt like this,” he joked.
“I will be back,” Harry responded with optimism. Ludo spotted Maureen Chang somewhere in the crowd, and reflexively fixed the French cravat around his neck.
”Ahem- ah yes, I must leave you now Harry, enjoy the night- you’ve bloody well earned it!” He clapped him on his shoulder and walked off, popping a breath mint into his mouth.
“Harry, come with me,” Professor Dumbledore said from behind him. He was wearing exquisite robes, and in another of his jovial moods. “This is the program for the night.” Handing it over, he led them to their seats closer to the front of the stage. “Mr. Bagman will be co-coordinating events tonight, and he will have his little welcome speech when everyone is seated. Then Mr. Fudge will have a word, and will call you up to present publicly your Merit of Valor.” He smiled, and Harry knew that his headmaster was almost bursting with pride. “I only wish Minerva was here to see this. She has monitored your progress more than you will ever know, and she loved you dearly.”
His eyes watered briefly, and Harry knew that her death affected Albus Dumbledore more than he let on. Harry simply nodded, and Dumbledore composed himself, blinking back tears. “Ah, then there will be the opening dance, which I’m sure you and your lovely escort will be the center of all attention, then we eat. After that, we’re going to ahem- ‘Get down’, is that you youngsters say?” Harry laughed and Dumbledore winked at him as he joined Moody, Molly and Arthur at the next table.
Hermione was all starry eyed and in a giddy mood, and wrapped her lands lightly around his waist, staring up into his brilliant green eyes. They kissed briefly on the lips, and Hermione thought that there could be no one as happy as she was right now.
“I hope every night could be like this, two of us, under the stars, the smell of flowers, everything…” she rest her head against his shoulder, and briefly closed her eyes. It was finally over- Voldemort was no more, and Harry was free. She smiled contentedly, and then pulled back, taking his hand and leading them to sit down next to Cho, Ron, Neville, and the gang. Mr. Bagman began his speech, and everyone laughed at the right moments, and applauded whenever necessary. He was a popular enough person, and he set the mood for everyone to relax and enjoy the night. They were all smiling and laughing, and Harry had to admit that he was having a good time.
Petter Pettigrew got up quite calmly from his seat near the edge of the grounds, his face barely recognizable behind a full mustache and beard. The brim of his hat was dipped low over his eyes. He never stood out for any particular reason; he was short, and not particularly handsome. When he was young he used to be mainly ignored at best, and blended in with any crowd, which is why when they decided to become animagi, he chose a rat. Even so, in his human form, he barely caught anyone’s eye, and he simply walked behind the bar and poured a vial of Jingo Punchin into the wine tankards and Butterbeer barrels, a potent substance used to induce a craving for alcohol. Keeping a watchful eye on his prey, he calmly went back to his seat. Meanwhile on the podium Bagman was now wrapping up his speech.
“..And with that note, allow me to introduce the Minister of magic, Cornelius Fudge!” Bagman proclaimed, and there was a polite round of applause amongst the large crowd of students and wizards alike.
“Thank you Ludo,” Fudge said, coming to stand at the podium. “It has been almost thirty years since Tom Riddle first emerged as a threat to the community.” Everyone went silent, and Fudge paused for dramatic effect.
“For those who knew, those days were the darkest of times. There were currents of discord and suspicion amongst us, and no one knew if their own flesh and blood would one day turn and betray them, such were the tactics of Riddle’s men. Death and destruction became rampant, and the whole magical community was torn asunder with the unexplainable acts of cruelty of his feared ‘Death Eaters.’ ” He paused again, and cleared his throat.
“But, there was still hope. Few decided to fight, and they banded together to form ‘The Order Of The Phoenix’. That was a long time ago, and now a new generation, alongside the old have risen to the cause-“
Rookwood, Lestrange and Doholov were also hidden amongst the regular folk, and Mucliber and Nott were strategically placed at the carriage docking area.
“..and now, sixteen years later, we are here to celebrate his final defeat. We owe it to four young heroes of our time: Ronald Weasley, Draco Malfoy, Hermione Granger, and most of all, the boy who lived: Harry Potter.” There was a huge round of applause, and everyone looked up at the front tables expectantly, wanting to catch a glimpse of their young hero. Fudge clapped, and motioned him forward. ”Please, Harry, come onstage.”
After some enthusiastic pushing and words of encouragement form the others at his table, Harry got up and nervously went up onstage. There were cameras flashing at him, and a spotlight shone directly into his eyes. He blinked rapidly, and he looked over the huge mass of people crowded into the village square. Fudge shook his hand, and Harry started, looking deep into his eyes. His head buzzed painfully, and he knew that something was not right here. He drew back his hand as normally as possible, and looked momentarily towards the crowd. Once again he and Malfoy’s eyes crossed, and Draco likewise had a look of unease about him.
“Mr. Harry James Potter, on behalf of the International Wizards Council, I am proud to present you our highest award for Bravery in Combat and service to all people, magical or otherwise, The Merit Of Valor. Congratulations Harry, you’ve done everyone proud!” He grabbed Harry’s hand again, and shook it vigorously. This time he knew he was mistaken. Harry’s eyes began to burn, and all his gut instincts were telling him that this man was not who he said he was. “Do you have any words to say to the crowd?” he continued, smiling at the numerous reporters who were flashing their magical cameras at the historic moment. His heartbeat began to race, and he could feel Solidus’ power building up inside of him.
“ WHO IN THE HELL ARE YOU??!” Harry roared, yanking his hand away from the man. There was a ripple of surprise, and the entire Order of the Phoenix surged to their feet, their wands drawn. Fudge’s demeanor changed instantaneously, and he drew his wand out from his robes:
Harry didn’t even wait for him to finish; he took a quick step forward and jumped, planting his right boot in Fudge’s face. Blood spurted from his nose, and Fudge fell back in slow motion, his wand sent flying through the air. He was out cold before he even hit the floor.
Doholov stared at the scene happening right before his eyes, and he felt his battle instincts take over. How in the world did the boy know? He should have expected this, nothing less from the man who killed Voldemort. But no fear, true generals always had a backup plan. Cursing fluently, he put the little crystal hanging from his chain between his teeth, his pendant acting as the control hub for the group’s communications.
“Nott! Rookwood!! Proceed as planned. Pettigrew, don’t let her out of your sight- she is essential! Macnair, be ready for when he is finished! We won’t have much time!” He hissed between his teeth. He let the pendant fall back against his neck. He stood up straight, and donned his death eater’s mask. Turning to Lestrange he smiled, pulling out his wand.
“Let us demonstrate some real skill shall we, Ralphie?” he smirked underneath his mask as Lestrange dramatically threw off the long coat covering his Death Eater robes. “Doppelganger curse; are you ready?”
Rodulphus Lestrange, cool to the core, smiled faintly. “Ready whenever you are, my good fellow...” he mused, pulling out a crystal ball filled with black mist. Doholov did likewise, and they both pointed their wands to the nearest townsfolk, who were now rising to their seats to see what all the commotion was up front.
“Imperio kin Leasier Doppelganger!!” they said in unison, and the middle aged man and his wife froze momentarily, then they pulled out their wands as well. They pointed it to the people closest to them.
“ Imperio!” Now those people were also under their spell, and they in turn pointed their wands to the closest to them and it continued, the imperious spell multiplying as fast as one person could draw their wands and point. Lestrange’s eyes glinted in the moonlight.
“Rookwood? Please give us the cover of darkness,” Rodulphus chuckled, putting on his mask as well. “Let’s begin.”
“Disenium Lumos!” cried Rookwood, and all the lights went out. Screams ran through the night, and the Order was alerted to full vigilance, looking for the persons responsible. Laughing, Rookwood pointed his wand to the sky.
The Dark Mark bathed the whole area in a moss green glow, and everyone was on their feet, voices rising as they tried to figure out what was going on. Pandemonium ensued, and soon enough red sparks of frantic stunners and cries of “Lumos!” ran through the night. Pockets of magical light now joined the soft moonlight filtering through the trees. Harry could make out Dumbledore and the others keeping close formation, trying their best to get to the best position to defend the younger students.
“Alastor, what do you see?” Dumbledore shouted, marching through the crowd of panicked students towards the retired Auror. Harry’s eyes were glowing faintly as he stood over Fudge, and as he looked up his head buzzed with the same feeling he just had when he realized the Minister was not himself, except a hundred times stronger….
Prepare yourself young Potter…
“Albus, we’ve got trouble!” Moody shouted, his magical eye zoning in on the crowd of people swarming like zombies towards them, their wands held and at the ready. Dumbledore drew his wand, and shouted in a strong voice a powerful incantation.
Dumebledore’s wand shot a bolt into the sky, and it exploded in a bright flash of light. It hung in the sky, giving an artificial source of moonlight for them to see. As he saw the hundreds of people marching towards the frightened Hogwarts students, he felt the adrenaline of combat pump into him. All of these townsfolk’s eyes glowed yellow, and their erratic yet steadfast movements told him all he needed to know.
“The Doppelganger Imperius spell…” he murmured grimly. He and the rest of the Order shoved their way through the students, ordering everyone to get back as far as they can. “LISTEN!!” he bellowed, his voice somehow piercing through the screams of the scared students. Hermione, Ron, Neville and the others already had their wands out ready to fight. Fred and George were already shoving themselves to the front of the battle, coming up side-to-side with Remus and the others.
“These people are under mass Imperia, they are being manipulated. Stunning is our best option, and also do not allow them to take control of you as well!” he warned. “Senior students, you are not to engage, your sole responsibility is to protect the younger ones, find another way out of here!” He shouted, and the Aurors and Ministry guards all lined up in a wall between the crowd of people trampling mindlessly over tables and chairs, even pushing over themselves as they swarmed forward unto the young ones.
“ Imperio!” the closest one shouted, quickly followed by another, then another. Bolts of magic flew at the Ministry guards as they came within twenty feet of the retreating crowd, the students backing closer and closer to the stage. Dumbledore waved his wand majestically, his robes sparkling as magic surged around him.
The shield charm deflected the spell and six more as the zombified residents of Hogsmeade inched closer and closer. There were shouts of even more shield charms as the crowd swamped the defenders from all sides, closing in on them in a tight semicircle. Harry was measuring up the odds, it was nearly two hundred students and fifteen Aurors against a whole town of fully grown wizards. He stood still, a bit dumbstruck at the amount of bland yellow eyes shining in the darkness.
“C’mon Potter, think,” he muttered. Without warning, flashes of red bolts shot back from the defenders, their opponents’ front line falling over , unconscious. There was a roar from the crowd and the clash began. Once again red bolts of energy sizzled outwards, and hordes of townsfolk were trampled as the never ending wave of people kept coming and coming. Harry panicked, freezing to the spot as the severity of the situation sunk in. They were going to be massacred!
“George!! Is there another way out?” Moody growled as they stood back-to-back, one keeping replenishing the shield charm while the other sent spells flying in rapid succession. Hermione shouted back to Alastor: “Through them is the only way out! Oh no! Stupefy!” blasting away at another who dove madly over his comrades, landing on top of their closely packed group. Harry took out his wand, trying to pick out an enemy in the crowd, but everything was happening so fast, and the crowd in front of him was so thick, he knew he wouldn’t reach in time.
Dumbledore and Remus were at the very front of the battle, and their wands flashed fast and furious. Remus wasn’t holding back as he punched his way through if they got to close, while Albus swung his walking staff in wide arcs, the tip glowing with a purple light, knocking out anyone on the receiving end of his melee weapon. The numbers were too great, and the crowd pressed further and further on. Harry noticed something disturbing happening, the people that were stunned were being reawakened by the other Zombies, and were once again very much in thick of things. He wanted desperately to help, but he knew that those stunning tactics were not working. Remembering the sword that was at his table, he pointed his wand.
“Accio!” After a few seconds it finally squeezed through the mass of students who were closest to him, all huddled behind the desperately fighting Order of the Phoenix and senior members of the DA. Catching it in his hand, he grasped the hilt, closing his eyes. Deep inside he could feel laughter building…
yes yes…Of course I will lend you my strength...
Hermione felt that strange magic once again fall like a heavy blanket all around them, and spun around, desperately looking for Harry. Her face was bleeding and her dress was torn from fighting off the groping claws of these zombies that just did not feel pain! Ron was stamping in the face of one that was on the ground, trying to bite into his leg.
“Shit! They don’t give up do they?” he screamed. “Expelliarmus! he shouted at one as they were about to curse Padma Patil, who was clambered on top a burly wizard who was trying to strangle Terry Boot. Draco dashed to her side and viciously kicked the man in his groin, and he keeled over, his hands clutching his groin.
“That’ll knock him out from that spell,” he snickered, and his eyes flared once again as he sent another man flying with his expulsion charm. “If these weren’t real people, I would say this would be a spot of fun! Immobilus!! Hah! Too easy.”
“Stupefy! Only you would say that, Draco!” Hermione gritted between her teeth, shoving another off of Neville, who was mowing down these zombies by the second. One of the zombies managed to land the Imperius curse on him, but Neville yelled it off and ran straight into him, knocking him to the ground. Pointing his wand point blank in the woman’s face; he stunned her with a bright flash of his wand, then spun about and silenced another, viciously stamping the silenced man in his gut, then shoving him down to the ground. “Immobilus! Immobilus!! Stupefy!” One jumped on his back, choking him, but he pointed his wand and screamed “Everte Statum!” The man went flying and Neville rushed to the aid of Cho, who was desperately trying to heal the cuts and injuries of some of the wounded on their side. He vaulted over a zombie’s back and tackled another who made a mad dash at her, the human avalanche clearing away four more including Luna Lovegood who was zapping away ceaselessly before being bowled over.
“Ron, would you look at Neville…” Hermione said to Ron, who was at that moment silencing another of the ‘Enervators’.
“Huh?” he turned to where she indicated, and Neville was already disentangling himself from the maze or arms and legs and stamping the back of another zombie who was holding Remus down on the ground. The general vicinity of Neville was always clearer than all the others, and wherever he went there seemed to be a path of bodies in his wake. “Wow, watch him go…by the way- where the fuck is Harry?” He shouted, looking around.
“HELP!” Someone shouted towards them. Hermione did not get a chance to answer Ron as she rushed to the aid of Colin Creevey, who had a badly broken leg.
Harry was having a time of it himself; Rookwood had him busy near the podium, using some very ruthless hexes and curses. Harry was having a difficult time concentrating on his shield charms, the Mass Imperia spell was buzzing loudly in his head, and his magic was going nuts. Rookwood had previously hexed him with the Mirage spell, and his perception of reality was now way off. Trying as he hard as he could, he was barely managing to avoid his Reductor Spells. The screams inside people’s heads as they tried to fight off the mind control was driving him crazy, and if it kept up like this, he would not be able to keep avoiding the curses as they rained down on him.
use the blade, strike him down, and kill him before he kills you…
Harry tried to fight that voice, but he knew that it was right. Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes for a second. Magic began to surge into him once again, his shield charm blocking another Reductor curse, obliterating the podium stand. Opening his eyes, and he threw away his inhibitions and bloodlust swelled up inside him. He remembered how good it felt to inflict pain on Fluffy, and that same strong emotion surged strongly through his veins. Rookwood laughed as Harry apparently closed his eyes in fear.
“Potter! Avery was killed by you?! You’re more hype than anything else!! Reducto!!” he screamed joyously. The curse splashed against his shield and he was blown high in the sky as the stage below his feet exploded into shards of wood. He landed hard on his side, and his anger swelled inside of him. Drawing his sword he sprung to his feet and charged the Death Eater. Rookwood faced him head on, and calmly pointed. “AVADA KEDAVRA! The spell sizzled towards Harry as he sped at him, but the next moment he had vanished in a blur, and Rookwood spun about, desperately looking for his opponent.
“Where did he-?” he did not get time to finish, because Gryffindor’s blade had split his head neatly in half, straight down to the middle of his nose. His body fell over lifelessly. Harry landed in an unorthodox tumble, gasping hard as he took a moment to rest. He stood up, and the bloody carcass twitched once or twice then was still. Hermione had seen it all, and she vomited all over Colin’s leg.
“Hermione! What happened?” Ron shouted. He wanted to run to her side, but he couldn’t leave his position, he and Neville were guarding the pile of injured students and fighters that Cho and Kenna Malfoy were levitating from around the battlefield. Things were not looking good, and the number of injured began to increase as the minutes went on. He felt as if he were fighting for days, but barely fifteen minutes had passed. Stunning another and silencing the enervating half of the two man zombie teams, he resolutely stood his ground and defended the girls on medic duty.
Harry stood still on the broken stage and closed his eyes, concentrating on shutting out the voices inside of his head. Immense power was surging from him, and his weapon trembled in his hand, urging him on to fight. The Solidus charm was once again trying to take control of him, and he knew Hermione was in no condition to use her occlumens spell to stop it. He took a deep breath, and sheathed the sword. The glow from his eyes dissipated, and the pounding in his head once again intensified.
Damn it, how could he fight, if he couldn’t think??! Jumping into the crowd, he began pushing his way to the younger students who were huddled behind the barricade of tables.
He spotted Hermione far away from him, she was retching badly, and Dennis Creevy was trying his best to fend off five attackers at once, protecting her and his brother. He felt another intense warning flash in his head, but this time it was specifically towards his girlfriend. He began shoving his way through the crowds, when he caught sight of two men who were standing very still, hidden behind the bar and the trunk of a huge tree. Instinctively he knew that those two were the ones behind this attack. He began running in the opposite direction from Hermione, thinking if he could get to the two Death Eaters, then they may get through this yet. He ran through the crowd, stunning and paralyzing anyone who got in his way as he fought his way across to them. Jumping over a large rat that scampered away from all the commotion, he unflinchingly leaped feet first into a swarm of zombies, bowling them over in the process. They clambered on top of him, but he began repulsing them one by one, crawling and kicking his way out of the scrum. His head was spinning and he felt as if he would go mad with the screaming from all the fighting, and the screaming inside of his head.
“Doholov! Lestrange!” he bellowed, recognizing Lestrange’s long hair, so similar to his wife’s, and Doholov’s extravagant taste in robes.
“Potter, I’m flattered you recognize us, I’m honoured.” Doholov laughed, and Harry eyes once again blazed alive. He didn’t want to get closer than he had to. Pointing his wand, he let loose with the most powerful spell he knew.
“Reducto Maxima! ” he cried. Lestrange created a very strong shield charm, and the white bolt of magic splashed against it, dispersing over the invisible surface.
“Very impressive!” Doholov mocked Harry, and nodded to Lestrange. “Our task here is done. Forget him for now,” he bowed gallantly at Harry, and both of them transfigured into in a dark mist and was gone. Harry spun around, but things did not go as he’d expected; the zombies were still fighting. He had lost precious time battling his way here, and now he had to head back to find Hermione. Looking over the crowd, he saw a man somehow appearing out of nowhere. Without a sound he stunned Creevy and paralyzed Hermione. Harry froze as he caught a glimpse of their attacker’s face. Peter Pettigrew’s face contorted into a cruel smile as he levitated her behind him and once again he disappeared into the swarm of townsfolk still pressing in on all sides. Harry panicked, and cleared his mind of everything excepting his girlfriend.
Through all the screams, he could her faint voice reaching out towards in the back of his mind….
"Harry, help me…”
Author's note: Part 1 of 2. To those who remember this the first time around, from here on out, it's going to get pretty interesting... kukukukukuku *evil chuckle*
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