For the second time in his life, Harry found himself tumbling out of a fireplace, his glasses broken, with no idea where he was. This time, he had company. He was pretty sure that this wasn’t an improvement over the last time.
“Stand up,” the voice hissed. “This way. Quickly.”
Harry scrambled to his feet. He took a second to repair his glasses, which was extremely difficult in the darkness, and was rewarded with a sharp nudge from the stranger.
Harry reached his arm forward in a fruitless attempt to protect himself from walking headfirst into a wall, or worse. He hand brushed the back of the stranger’s robes.
“Don’t touch me.”
“I didn’t mean to,” Harry said crossly. “I can’t see a thing in here. Where are we? What happened to the others?”
“We’re below Knockturn Alley. The others are waiting for you. That’s all I can tell you for now. Stop talking.”
Harry squinted into the darkness. The stranger seemed to have no trouble traversing the windy path they were taking. Either the stranger had spent countless hours walking these paths in total darkness, or, he had something aiding him in his journey. Harry thought about the options. There was only one person who fit in both categories. It had to be someone who had spent time in Knockturn Alley, and had a certain device that allowed him to see well in the pitch black of the underground tunnels.
“Malfoy,” Harry spat.
“Potter,” Draco acknowledged. He reached out to Harry, taking hold of his wrist and sharing the light of the Hand of Glory
“What have you done with my wife?” Instantly Harry regretted those words.
“You married the blood traitor?" Malfoy paused slightly before continuing. "Interesting. What about Weaselby and the Mudblood, did they get married too?”
“No,” Harry snarled. “Where are they?” He was taken aback by Draco’s tone. He didn’t sound as cocky as he usually did. Harry only gave a passing thought to the idea that Draco almost sounded sad.
“It’s not too far ahead.”
“Are they hurt?” Harry asked, his anger leaving him as dread flooded through his veins and filled his heart.
“No,” Draco replied hesitantly, causing the fear in Harry’s heart to double.
“What happened?” Harry cried.
“The looney one gave me trouble,” Draco admitted. “I had to hex her to get her into the tunnel.” He started at Harry’s murderous look. “It was the only way to prevent…” Draco stopped, having said too much already.
“You…you’re the informant. Aren’t you?” Harry blurted incredulously. “You were passing information to the Order? You warned Professor Lupin about an attack today. Wait a minute. How do I know you’re not leading me into an ambush?”
“Trust, Potter,” Draco drawled, sounding more like his usual self. “You need to learn to trust me.”
“Why should I?” Harry snapped.
Harry’s question lingered in the air between them, the intended insult clear as day. Draco dropped his head, mumbling incoherently for a moment before raising his head to glare at Harry.
“Snape died to protect me,” Draco observed sadly. “Isn’t that proof enough for you?”
“Snape killed Dumbledore,” Harry objected loudly. “Why should I care that he died to protect you? You both wear the mark of evil.”
“Snape killed Dumbledore because Dumbledore ordered him to.”
“I don’t believe that.” Tears started to form in Harry’s eyes, threatening to spill over.
“You don’t have to. I know it to be true.”
“How? I was there that night. I saw it with my own eyes. I saw your failure.” Harry’s tears spilled over as he thought about the night that Dumbledore died. The only thing spurning him on was his intense desire to find and save the ones he loved.
“My failure,” Draco sighed. “I signed my own death warrant that night. I doomed not only myself, but my mother as well.”
“What does you mother have to do with this?” Harry was now confused, wondering what Malfoy was talking about.
“She made an Unbreakable Vow with Snape. Voldemort found out about my mother’s trip to Spinner’s End. He dispatched several of his most faithful Death Eaters to find her. Dumbledore ordered Snape to fulfil the vow by killing him, thus protecting me. Dumbledore thought that this would protect my mother as well, but he didn’t realize the significance of the wording my mother used. Killing Dumbledore did not release Snape from the vow. Despite her poor choices, my mother was not stupid. Snape was required to protect me with his life.”
“He did,” Harry noted irritably. “That still doesn’t mean you aren’t leading me into a trap.”
“See for yourself,” Draco drawled, pushing open a heavy, moss covered oak door.
Harry nearly fainted with relief when he saw Ginny, Hermione, Ron, and Neville sitting at a small table with four butterbeers sitting in the center, untouched. He saw that Hermione had conjured a small cot for Luna, who looked to be resting comfortably.
Harry sprinted across the room, taking Ginny into his arms. He held her close for a moment, barely hearing the muffled, “It’s about time.”
He let go of Ginny long enough to hug both Ron and Hermione. He hesitated for a moment before pulling Neville into a quick embrace. He walked to where Luna lay and crouched down beside her.
“Are you all right?” he asked quietly. “What did he do to you?”
“It’s my fault. I thought he was a Crumple-Horned Snorkack,” she quipped through her pain. “I think he hit me with some sort of a pummeling curse. He might have broken a rib if Neville hadn’t stopped him.”
“Did Hermione check you for injuries?” Harry asked seriously.
“No,” Luna replied. Harry was just starting to get upset and had turned to admonish Hermione when Luna finished her sentence. “Ginny did.”
Harry smiled with pride when Luna told him that Ginny had fixed her ribs right away. “It still hurts a little,” she admitted. “That’s my fault as well. I refused to take a potion for the pain. I didn’t think it was safe for Ginny to flash home quickly, it might have alerted someone to our presence here.”
Harry understood her fear. None of them seemed to know where they were, or what was going on. Ginny crossed the room, followed by Ron, Hermione, Neville, and Draco. Neville sat on the cot next to Luna, gently rubbing her back. Ron and Hermione stood next to Harry and Ginny as they all faced Draco.
Draco swallowed hard before opening his mouth to explain. “I brought you here because there is an attack planned on Diagon Alley. If you are not there, the Death Eaters are ordered to leave and find you. It will save many innocent lives.”
Hermione shook her head sadly. Ron snorted in disgust but said nothing. Ginny was the only one who spoke up.
“You don’t care about innocent lives, Draco. You are using us. What are you doing here? What are you getting out of this?” With each question, her voice rose higher.
Harry reached out for her hand, finding it feverish and clammy. He turned to look at her and saw the dangerous warning signs of her unbridled rage.
Draco, who had not been fortunate enough to see Ginny’s unrestrained power, had no idea that he was treading on perilous ground. Ginny’s body began to shake. It was the slightest of tremors that ran through her arm, but to Harry it felt like an earthquake.
“I am saving my mother,” Draco said softly. “You are right, I don’t care about innocent lives. I couldn’t care less about them. I don’t care about you, or your cause. I don’t care about the Death Eaters or their master plan. Voldemort can fail miserably or take over the world for all I care.”
Draco didn’t have a chance to continue his rant. Harry, Hermione, and Ron were thrown backwards by the force of Ginny’s energy. Harry stared up from the floor in wonder. Ginny was hovering a few inches off the floor as she had before. This time, her entire body glowed. The flickering light in the room made her hair look like it was made of pure fire. Harry tried to sit up, but Ginny had him pinned to the ground. Harry realized how badly his elbow hurt as he turned to look at Ron and Hermione. Ron shook his head and indicated that he couldn’t move either. Harry had landed in such a way that he couldn’t see Neville or Luna. He tried to call out to them, but the smallest squeak escaped his lips. “What has she done?”
Ginny raised her arms and pointed them directly at Draco. Harry watched in horror, with a small measure of delight, as he flew back against the dirt wall of the cavernous room. Vines appeared out of the walls, binding Draco in place. His eyes were frozen with terror. A large vine quickly covered his mouth, which was gaping open in disbelief.
Harry felt the hairs on the back of his neck tingle in anticipation as Ginny raised her arms toward the ceiling. The dark, musty room was instantly flooded with light as the ceiling disappeared. Harry watched as, what he could only assume was a ton of dirt and debris exploded upward and outward. They were easily thirty feet below the street, and Ginny had created a ten-foot diameter tunnel straight up to the street level. Dust and dirt rained down through the abyss, causing the day fade into night. The last thing Harry saw before he blacked out was a hooded figure peering into the vast chasm.
Harry opened his eyes gingerly as he came to. Once his eyes came into focus and his mind cleared, he pulled his wand and joined the battle that was raging around him. Harry took only a second to revive Ron and Luna. Hermione was already locked in battle with Jugson. She got off a stunning spell that found its mark effortlessly and Jugson fell. Neville was dueling with Goyle, trading curses with ease. Harry worried for only a split second as he heard Crabbe, who was out of Neville’s sight, use an Unforgivable. Before he could suck air into his lungs, a familiar, deep reverberating ‘gong’ sounded throughout Knockturn Alley. Crabbe and Goyle were thrown to the ground, struck down by Crabbe’s curse.
The noise alerted the other Death Eaters stationed at the entrance to Diagon Alley. Harry saw a large group of Death Eaters rushing to aid their comrades. Ron, Harry, and Luna joined Neville and Hermione battling the Death Eaters. They were outnumbered, but they continued to exchange curses. The Death Eaters tried to penetrate Ginny’s shield, but their effort was wasted. Nothing would break through.
“Positions,” Ron bellowed. Through all the noise, no one could hear him. He pointed his wand at his throat. “Sonorus,” he yelled. With his voice magically amplified, he started barking orders.
“Positions everyone,” his voice boomed over the din. “Harry, get over there. Luna, protect Ginny. Hermione, no, stay where you are. I’ll move. Neville, come over here where I am.”
Once Ron had finished placing everyone, he moved to his own position. Ginny’s shield protected them all, making each curse the Death Eaters sent useless. Harry, Ron, Neville, and Luna fought earnestly. They sent stunning spells flying toward the massive group of Death Eaters. Harry recognized many of the Death Eaters as students that had gone to Hogwarts. Some of them were no older than third years. They didn’t have enough knowledge or magic to cause any damage, they were just there to help overwhelm Harry.
Soon, all the young Death Eaters were down. Harry looked around; hoping they had been victorious, but preparing for the second wave he knew was coming. He could sense their hate.
Harry sent the stunned bodies of Crabbe, Goyle and Jugson to the Ministry. “They must have been stuck babysitting the trainees.” He sent all the bodies of the Death Eaters in training to the Great Hall in Hogwarts along with a note for Professor McGonagall. He hoped that the note would reach her before she found the bodies. He did not want to think about her reaction if she did not.
The hate was growing stronger. Harry could feel it seeping into his skin. He called out to Ginny. She broke her concentration and dropped the shield.
“I know, Harry,” she called back. “What are we supposed to do?”
“End it,” Harry advised.
“It ends here,” Ron agreed.
“We can’t keep running,” Luna added.
“We can’t hide forever,” Neville said, sounding very much like he wished they were all hiding at that moment. “Let’s end it right now.”
Hermione opened her mouth to add her encouragement when the first curse whizzed by her elbow.
“Ginny,” Luna screamed, rushing to her aid.
Harry turned to Ginny, his eyes dead. His heart ached with pain even before he saw her sprawled on the ground. The brilliance of her hair was amplified as it lay, covering her face, fanned out on the darkness of the dirt. Harry’s mind registered the blood dripping onto the ground, the noise of each drop louder than the advancing Death Eaters.
Harry haphazardly threw up his own shield, protecting Ginny from any further harm. Luna was mumbling to Ginny, moving her wand about and trying to revive her. Neville was already throwing curses at the approaching Death Eaters. Ron and Hermione joined him in a frontal assault on the ranks. Harry watched as the curses took out Nott, Yaxley and Mulciber before they could get off a single curse in retaliation. All three of them lay on the ground, bleeding severely, the life draining from their body.
The Death Eaters stopped their advance a short distance away from the huddled group. They all drew their wands and held their formations, as if they were waiting for Harry to attack them first.
“Positions,” Ron shouted.
Everyone took their places and prepared for the battle. Harry watched as Bellatrix, who stood shoulder to shoulder with her husband Rodolphus and his brother Rabastan. She looked positively gleeful as she raised her wand to send another curse at Ginny.
Harry had never heard the incantation before and figured that it was a magic more ancient than the Unforgivables, and probably more deadly. He watched in slow motion as the bolt of light streaked across the small gap between the groups. A foot or so before the light hit Harry’s shield; it stooped and bounced off harmlessly. Harry almost dropped his wand in pain as the loudest, deepest sound he had ever heard ripped through the alley.
He wasn’t sure if he should take his eyes off the Death Eaters to look, but he braved a quick glance. Ginny was no longer on the ground. She was floating a few feet above their heads, her shield spell in place.
Harry barely recognized her. Her arms were extended in front of her, bent oddly as if she was trying to hug an invisible person. Her wand floated in the center of her arms, radiating a light so bright that Harry could not stand to look at it directly. Instead, he looked at her hair. Ginny’s hair stood on end, giving her the appearance of having a fiery halo surrounding her head. Her eyes were no longer brown, but solid black, glistening in the brilliance of the light. Her face was contorted in an expression of pure concentration. Ginny was lost to them but her power lived on in the shell that was her body. Her shield spell was so strong that it was visible in the dusty air, a shimmery whiteness protecting them from the darkness that lay before them. Harry looked back to the Death Eaters, watching their faces pale in fear. All of them except Bellatrix, who started to cackle.
Harry saw a lone figure in tattered robes approaching from the opposite direction as the Death Eaters. Harry recognized Malfoy a split second before Narcissa appeared, grabbed his hand, and they disappeared together.
One by one, the Death Eaters began to attack, sending a volley of curses toward the shield. As Walden Macnair approached, Harry stepped out of the shield to duel with him. He was the one who had been sent to Hogwarts to execute Buckbeak. Harry had taken particular offense to his oily black moustache. Macnair shot off curse after curse, which Harry blocked lazily.
“Is that all you’ve got?” Harry demanded before sending a special curse toward him.
Macnair threw up his shield charm, but it was no match for Harry’s curse. The curse broke through his shield spell and his chest was lacerated. His robes were hanging by a few tattered threads as he slumped to the ground, his eyes rolling back into his head.
Harry stepped back into Ginny’ shield and began sending curses at the large group of Death Eaters that remained. Hermione, Ron, and Neville had done a good job reducing their ranks, as there were fewer Death Eaters by half.
Antonin Dolohov approached the shield spell and grabbed Hermione by the hair. She was dragged from the protection of the shield and hurled to the ground. Ron shouted and made to leave the shield to help her. Hermione waved him away, indicating that she had unfinished business with Dolohov. Ron went back to the fight only to notice Augustus Rookwood trying to break into the shield and curse Luna. He tackled him, knocking him away from the shield.
Dolohov and Hermione squared off, sending curses at each other with every ounce of magical strength they had, while Ron sat on Rookwood’s chest and hit him with every ounce of physical strength he had left. Hermione ducked a particularly nasty curse, the one that had incapacitated her in the Department of Mysteries, and returned fire with the spell she had learned from Harry’s dream.
“Evicere,” Hermione spat.
Dolohov screamed. It was an unearthly sound that pierced the heart of everyone present. Hermione stood, triumphant, looking down at his body with disgust. His body lay prone, his eyes empty and his breathing shallow. His body shuddered one last time before his breathing stopped.
Ron paused to watch Hermione as she cast her final curse. His momentary lapse of concentration cost him his hold on Rookwood. Rookwood punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground. Rookwood rose to his feet unsteadily and aimed his wand at Ron’s unconscious form. Harry saw this and screamed, “Oppugno.”
A flock of small birds attacked Rookwood’s head. He swatted them away as if they were a mere annoyance. He took aim at Ron, who was now stirring slightly and groaning as he tried to sit up. Harry grinned wickedly, casting a second spell to aid the first.
“Engorgio,” he commanded.
The flock of birds around Rookwood’s head became a flock of very angry, very large birds. The birds drove at his head, pecking him with their pointy beaks and slashing at him with their razor sharp talons. Rookwood screamed in pain as they continued to attack him.
Ron, who had managed to make it to his feet, watched in amusement as Rookwood tried to avoid the birds. He was reminded of a similar attach that had been directed at him the previous year. Despite his distraction, Rookwood managed to send a curse at Ron, who was not paying any attention. The flesh on Ron’s leg was laid open, nearly to the bone. He screamed in agony, ducked to avoid the next curse and sent a stunning curse at Rookwood before passing out and crashing to the ground.
The minute that Rookwood froze in place, the birds grabbed him in their talons and took off. It took five of the birds to carry him out of the fracas. The rest followed closely behind as Harry watched in amazement. Harry brought Ron’s body into the shield and Luna healed his leg before reviving him.
Harry turned to check on Neville. The Death Eaters numbers were dwindling. Neville had managed to immobilize all but four of them himself. The Lestranges and Fenrir Greyback were the only Death Eaters that were still capable of movement.
Bellatrix Lestrange was still cackling. Ron, having recovered sufficiently to issue orders again, started whispering a plan to Harry.
“It’s a long shot,” Ron finished, “but it might be worth it.”
“I’m willing to take a chance,” Harry replied darkly. “Just go.”
Ron grabbed Neville, Luna, and Hermione. In an instant they were gone. Harry turned to face Bellatrix, the witch responsible for Sirius’ death, and smiled cruelly.
“What have we here?” he hissed.
“It’s wee bitty baby Potter again,” Bellatrix chanted. “Trying to play a grownup game.”
“I’ve grown up Bellatrix,” Harry proclaimed.
“Why are you still hiding behind that snip of a girl then?” she challenged him.
Harry watched as Rabastan, Rodolphus and Fenrir spread out, making a single attack impossible. If Harry attacked one of them, they would all attack in response. He would not survive such an attack, of that he was sure. Trusting Ron, and putting all of his faith in his love for Ginny, he looked up at her one last time. Her face remained impassible. She hadn’t moved since the attack began and she still showed no signs of life other than the power that emanated from her body.
Harry took a deep breath, whispered, “I love you, Ginny”, and stepped from the circle of protection to face Bellatrix.
“He is mine,” she wailed. “No one touches him.”
Harry watched Bellatrix carefully, waiting for her to make the first move. She raised her wand and they began to duel. She threw increasingly darker curses at him. She had tried the Cruciatus curse several times with no success. Harry continued to fire stunning spells at her in between her attacks. As soon as he would let loose a stunning spell, he would bring his own shield back up. After several long minutes of this back and forth, Harry could tell that she was getting frustrated. Her spells were infrequent and they were losing power.
Harry sensed that her magical reserves were drained. He took this opportunity to renew his attack.
“Secumseptra,” he called.
“No,” Rodolphus cried out as the material of his wife’s robes ripped.
As one, Rabastan, Rodolphus and Fenrir raised their wands. Time seemed to slow as they brought their arms up above their heads. Harry could make out every syllable on their lips as they cursed him. The green jets of light left their wands separately but converged just before they reached Harry.
Harry was prepared for the consequences if Ron’s plan failed. Failure was not an option. Harry closed his eyes as he sent every bit of love he felt to Ginny.
There was an explosion, followed by a blinding flash of light that Harry saw through his closed eyelids. Harry didn’t breathe for fear that this was what it felt like to die.
A small hand touched his shoulder. A gentle pressure spun him around and Harry didn’t dare open his eyes. The softest pair of lips touched Harry’s. Harry felt his heart jump into his throat as Ginny deepened the kiss. Her hands roamed over his body, checking him for injuries, her lips never leaving his. It was only when her hands crept to his neck and pulled his body against hers that he opened his eyes.
Her gorgeous red hair curled softly over her shoulders. Her eyes were mercifully brown again. “And, her lips,” Harry thought, relieved to have his wife back, “are deliciously perfect.”
Harry and Ginny disappeared without a backward glance. Harry did not see the three small piles of ashes on the ground. He did not see the damage to the storefronts. He didn’t see the snake, slipping through the wreckage and slithering among the bodies of the fallen Death Eaters.
Minutes later, before the Aurors arrived in Knockturn Alley, Nagini slid through the last of the wreckage and slithered away to meet her Master.
Chapter Nineteen: An Unlikely Source
Write a Review Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived: Chapter Eighteen: Evil Knows No Bounds