Ron and Ginny Weasley were hunched together on the second landing of the crooked staircase of their house. They were crouched low, just out of sight, listening in on the very serious meeting below. They were accustomed to bizarre things happening, but nothing could have prepared them for what they were overhearing from Albus Dumbledore.
“Arthur, Harry has been attacked again. The same assassins, right outside Grimmauld place.”
Professor Dumbledore’s voice was low, and very somber. He wore an ancient gray battle robe, the mantle of the Order of the Phoenix hung limply from his shoulders. His long mane of hair was tied in a bunch, and in his right hand his wand was brimming full of power. The whole house felt heavy with his magical aura, and the two young wizards had never before seen him this incensed.
“What? How is Harry?” Molly whispered, clutching her husband’s hand in concern. She could hear the tone in his voice. Something was very wrong.
“We don’t know. Young Miss Granger called Nymphadora and told her that Harry called her just before the attack, saying that his scar was back.” Molly’s eyes opened wider. “That is definitely not a good sign. There could only be one reason for this: Voldemort has once again risen from the dead.”
“No...” Arthur said, his tone unbelieving.
“Where are the others? The Order is meeting at Granger’s place…this needs to be addressed immediately.” Dumbledore declared, his presence dominating the tiny kitchen. Ron and Ginny looked at each other, and gulped.
“Ronald! Ginny!” Dumbledore called out. They jumped, how did he know they were there? “Call your older brothers down, if you please.”
They mumbled their understanding and raced up the stairs, their adrenaline and fear pumping through them. After they awoke Bill and Charlie from their slumber, Ron dashed back into the room he shared with Fred and George. Shoving between them as Fred and George hastily put on their robes, he groped in his trunk for his very own wand.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Fred asked him. They weren’t allowed to fight, so what was he even thinking? The twins towered over him, blocking his path. Ron looked them directly in their faces, and they were both taken back by his steely determination.
“No way am I letting Harry down again.Get out of my way!” Ron ordered, and the twins looked at each other in understanding.
“That’s more like it. Let’s go. Ginny? You coming?” George looked in her direction.
“You know I’ll do anything for Harry.” She was adamant, and the brothers knew when not to mess with her.
They all gave each other their nod of approval, and snuck out the back as the others followed the Professor out of the Burrow. After the adults had dissapparated, Fred and George each took one of Ginny’s hands, and all four of them followed suit.
* * *
Hermione rushed upstairs to get dressed. Her hands began to shake, and inwardly, she felt ashamed of being scared. Even though she tried to stop, she was trembling violently. "Oh, come off it!" she said aloud to herself.
Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath. You can do this, Hermione. You managed it in Hogsmeade and you'll do it again. You can't let him do this alone and you will prove to yourself, Harry, and everyone else, that you are not a liability. I am not some fairy princess - I am a witch: trained by the best. Harry was wrong to leave me behind.
Rummaging through her wardrobe in the darkness, her fingers ran over something magical and of the highest quality. Harry's International Quidditch robes. She couldn't believe that she had forgotten them there from since way back. They were blood red, his name emblazoned on the back. Pulling it out, she held the red garment aloft. This was of the highest quality, and would serve as much better armour than anything else she had. And it was perfect for the cause. Donning the blood red English Quidditch uniform, she resolutely fastened her wand in the magical holster. Looking in the mirror, she felt ready.
"You can do this..." she told herself.
Wearing the name of the man who conquered Voldemort on her back gave her immense pride. This time, she will fight at alongside the one she loved. A series of apparating pops signaled the arrival of the Order of the Phoenix. This was it. Taking another deep breath, she ran downstairs. Opening her door, she was amazed at the number of people outside. There were nearly forty people congregated in her front lawn, and all of their faces were grim with determination. Moody was the first to step forward.
“Granger, do you know where he went?” he grumbled softly, nodding at her choice in garments.
“He said they were heading towards King’s Crown, and that they have his aunt.” Hermione said slowly, the words instilling her with a sense of purpose. No fear. She needed to believe in herself!
“Albus, there’s no time. We have to go now!” Moody snapped. Dumbledore nodded at him, and turned to address the others.
“Be prepared for the worst. No one is to take any unnecessary risks. Hermione, you will accompany us, join Remus’ group, he will let you in on their priority. Messrs and Miss Weasley! You can come out from behind those bushes.” He shouted, not even looking in their direction. Ron knew it, he should have known the couldn’t sneak up on him. The young Weasley group emerged defiantly from their hiding place, daring their father to scold them. His mouth hung wide open, and he would have objected to their presence if Dumbledore did not speak just at that moment.
“Ron, you will be under Alastor’s command. Fred, Ginny, George, come here. You will follow my orders, no questions asked. Understood?”
“Good. Let’s go.”
* * *
Godfrey Snape was running back down the bell tower stairwell, this would be very close. The wards have been breached.
“It seems that your ‘invincible’ hunters were not as invincible as you thought, Antolin,” Snape chuckled. “Potter approaches, and with no other than young Malfoy to boot,” he added.
“Who would have thought that a noble family such as them would actually be challenging us?” Doholov muttered. “No fear. They are only two, and we have the upper hand.” Macnair shot up from his pew, his hands trembling in fury.
“Upper hand? UPPER HAND?!” spittle flew from his mouth as he roared at them, his huge barrel chest quivering in anger.
“You have something to add?” Rodulphus Lestrange asked quietly, his trademark smile on his face. He sat, relaxed as ever, his legs swinging freely as he leant back on his hands, and Macnair took back what he said earlier, Rodulphus Lestrange was more off the deep end than his psychotic wife.
“If you were at Hogwarts your tone would be different.” Macnair glared at all of them.
Doholov smiled, for such a big man, the whole ‘scaredy-cat attitude’ was getting old. “My dear boy, this time we have the advantage. We have his aunt, and we have something,” he paused in reflection. “Nice planned for them. If you are scared, you may run along, and let the true followers handle this situation.”
Macnair took the bait, and swung his headsman axe into the nearest table, smashing the wood into splinters.
“How dare you call me a coward!” He roared, his face turning scarlet. “I will kill the boy!” And with that, he stormed out.
“Well, that went smoothly. I was beginning to wonder if we needed something else to stall for more time, but as you so foretold; our good friend Macnair has so obligingly volunteered his life to the cause.” Rodulphus patted Doholov on the back. “Well worked my friend. You played him as if he were nothing but a dumb animal eating out of your hand.”
Doholov did not smile in response, but added bitterly. “I have no wish to send men to their deaths, but Macnair may be the key ingredient to our victory. Come on lads; let’s see how long he lasts.” He swept back his cloak, and sat in front of the large looking glass. The mirror showed a remote view of the Building and the lonely path that led to it, the one solitary figure marching bravely to greet their enemies.
“Think he’ll do us a favour and actually defeat them?” Snape suggested.
“Unlikely. But one could still hope.” Dohlov responded. This was going to be interesting.
“Anyone care for a drink? Or a snack?” Lestrange offered, leaning nonchalantly on the mandrake coffin housing the still form of Lord Voldemort. Popping some of Bertie Blotts “Every flavour beans” in his mouth, he generously offered the pack for the others to share.
“Sure, I’ll take some..” Doholov took the little packet. Munching on a tasty cheesecake candy, he pointed at the looking glass. “Let’s see what all the hype about this Potter Boy is all about…”
* * *
“Let’s burn it down.”
Draco was very uneasy, this felt like walking into a trap. They were moving cautiously now, they Death Eaters knew they were here. Harry’s motorbike was the only sound for miles around, and that solitary building at the top of the incline was making the hair at his nape stand on end. After no response from Harry, he added quietly: “I could manage it from all here...”
“My aunt is inside there,” Harry responded, not even looking at him.
“One casualty is a reasonable price to pay if we wipe them out in one swift-“
“We’re not burning it down. “ Harry reiterated, this time with more ferocity.
“Weigh the risks, we could be in and out in mere seconds if we- Shh..Listen!” Draco silenced himself. “You hear that?”
Harry paused, straining his ears. There was nothing. “If this is one of your pranks… now is not the time,” he hissed angrily.
“Longbottom made the same mistake..listen closely..you’ll hear it..”
Harry alighted onto the ground, cutting power to his bike. Draco landed next to him, looking around apprehensively. “I don’t think staying too still is a good idea-” Harry was now picking up something...the sound of rushing air from high above...as if it were coming from…wings, very big wings…
A warning signal raised the pores on his skin as Harry whipped is around, looking to the sky. “WATCH OUT!!” he shouted. Draco needed no more warning, he and Stormcloud were up and out of the line of fire in a thrice. The Huge ice dragon bore down at him with incredible speed, it’s horrible scream nearly bursting Harry’s eardrums. Kicking down on the gas, Harry’s bike sped off, eating up soft earth as he desperately tried to put some distance between them.
There was the pre-emptive hissing intake of the night air as the dragon prepared its attack. Throwing the motorcycle into a wide arced skid, Harry changed direction just as a freezing stream of vapour crystallized nearly fifty metres of land on his previous trajectory. Harry chanced a glance back as the Dragon shifted it’s weight and slowed down, the leathery wings spanned wide as it reared up on its hunches, its powerful hind legs sinking into the earth as it sprung back after him.
Harry willed the speedometer to accelerate faster, the rough landscape jarring his knees as he gunned the engine for all its worth. He could feel the Dragons’ icy cold breath penetrating the already chill night air. His heart raced as the magical bike tried to achieve it’s take off speed, but deep down, he knew that he wouldn’t make it. Maybe if he got a bit of a boost by that mound of land there…
Knowing if he kept moving in a straightforward direction the dragon would have enough time to simple snatch him up, he banked sharply again, swinging once again to the left. If he could only get this thing airborne! This was going to be close. Watching the needle move steadily from sixty to eighty, he angled towards the ridge of undulating land that might give him a bit of a jump start. The telltale suction of air was enough warning to know that he wouldn’t dodge this time. He hit the sharp rise at one hundred, the bike ramping into the night air as the taxed flight charm sputtered into life.
“NOW DIE POTTER!!” Macnair roared, his voice full of triumph. The huge beast roared again, an artic blast of cold engulfed Harry and his bike just as he was accelerating into the sky.
Harry felt his whole body go numb, and all thinking and metabolic functions slowed to a grinding halt. He couldn’t move, and he and his motorbike plummeted to the ground like a failed airplane takeoff . Harry barely felt the motorbike fall from between his legs as he pitched further ahead, the bike shattering to pieces as it fell on the grassy knoll. The ground was approaching very fast, and he could do nothing but shut his eyes as he slammed hard into the ground.
“Fuck!” Draco shouted, this couldn’t be happening. Not so soon. The Dragon swooped past his fallen comrade and spun about, screeching loudly in victory. Draco charged head on towards Macnair, blinking his eyes furiously as the icy cold wind slapped him in his face. Drawing his wand, he took a page out of Potter’s book.
“Collorportus!” he shouted, aiming at the huge mouth. The dragon’s massive jaws snapped shut, and it bucked as it felt this unnatural force overpower it. Macnair cursed loudly on top of his steed, and an endless stream of curses blazed from his wand. Draco dodged and swerved with his agile steed, the blazing bolts of deadly magic sizzling past Stormcloud as he desperately tried to get between Macnair and Harry. The medallion still felt warm against his chest, so that was a good sign. The Ice dragon was straining to break free of the sealing charm, and from the looks of it, Draco knew that he won’t have much time before it succeeded. He needed to settle this before he ended up like Potter. Glancing at the still form laying in the grass, he drew the hunter’s sword. He had a mission to complete, he had to remind himself that this big flying lizard was just another obstacle in his path.
* * *
Harry Potter thought that breathing was the hardest thing to do right now. He had never felt this sort of pain, as if a million knives were stabbing into him at the same time. If he could scream, this would be the right moment for a really good one. And loud, yes, it would be very loud indeed.
Fuck it Potter, you’ve survived death before... a bit of frostbite can’t kill you, especially from that idiot Macnair. His arguments weren’t helping much. All sense of touch was gone, and each breath felt as if it was being forced out of him.
No time for complaints. Get up, and rescue her. Don’t even think, just do it!. He scrunched up his eyes in agony as he forced magic into his limbs. It hurt like hell, but he was rewarded for his efforts. His right hand twitched, and he felt the infernos bubbling through him as it did earlier. As if a soft, warm breeze had passed over him, his hair began to rustle, and feeling came slowly back to his legs and back. Inching his fingers to the hilt of the sword at his side, he took hold of it. It was surprisingly warm, and fueled his innate defense mechanisms.
Everything came back into perspective, he could hear the shrieking of the huge dragon way above him, and Draco’s voice shouted incantations and spells. His whole body felt like a stone block, but at least the pain was gone. His clothes were frozen solid, ad he could swear something felt like an icicle hanging from the tip of his nose. Damn it, this was beyond freezing! He opened his mouth to use a heating charm, but his jaw did not want to respond. His lips were sealed shut. It would hurt, but he could not stay like this forever. Shutting his eyes, he pried his lips apart.
“MmmmphaAHH!” He gasped out loud, the relatively warm night air rushing into his mouth. Without hesitation, he set himself on fire. “ Inciendo ar Chensitar ! ”
Flames engulfed him at his command, and he sensed his body actually thawing out. It felt like a thousand pinpricks just on the verge of penetrating his skin, running over him with a rippling effect. Just relieved that his own flames couldn’t hurt him, he smiled darkly. That would have been just wrong, burning himself to death. Clenching his hands into fist and shifting his legs, he slowly pushed himself up from the ground. Before he could even get to his feet, he fell over again. Everything was spinning, and it took him a little while to find his balance after a few times of trying.
Draco was darting in and out like a stinging bee, trying his best to get a clear shot at the Dragonrider. Macnair was smart though, and when the Dragon broke the spell he used an Unsealable Charm on its icy jaws. Draco was at a lost at what to do, Stormcloud was frightened, and getting very tired very quickly. Macnair wasn’t taking any chances, and whenever Draco darted away from the Dragon’s line of fire, Macnair kept him busy with wide area Mirage spell and a few tasty Reductor Curses to keep him at a distance.
Draco was getting nowhere. His spells weren’t powerful enough to affect the dragon directly, and trying to get a clear shot at Macnair through those flapping wings was proving near impossible. He had to think up something fast- wait! What the hell is that thing down there? Fuck- it was Potter! And he was…on fire? What in hell?!
“MACNAIR!” Harry bellowed from far below. In one hand, the Sword of Godric Gryffindor gleamed in the firelight, his other point at the huge beast above. “I’M NOT FINISHED YET! COME AND GET ME IF YOU CAN!”
What was he- insane? Draco thought. But looking at Macnair, it seemed that the stupid oaf really was obsessed with Potter. He faced the miniscule target that seemed so far away, and charged down at him at full speed.
“WHY WON’T YOU DIE?!” Macnair screamed, urging his steed on. He would prove to everyone that he was a true warrior, and not someone to be laughed at! His headsman axe in one hand, the reins of his steed in the other, he tore down at him, screaming at the top of his lungs.
“That’s it, come here you stupid git. I’ll make you pay for trying to kill Hermione. Come on, I’m all yours, come and get it,” Harry murmured as he stared up into the sky, his massive opponent nose diving at him. “Protego!” The flames licking at him danced against his frontal shield, encasing him with a dome of fiery protection. If what he observed was accurate, he had indeed found a weakness: the Dragon always extended it’s neck just before it spit its cold blast, giving a clear opportunity at the rider.
Harry’s battle instincts swamped him, his right hand resting lightly on the sword that hung at the left side of his waist. Taking a deep breath, he let it out with a scream, and began to sprint as fast as he could towards Macnair and his great steed. Adrenaline pumped in his blood, his timing had to be damn near perfect. The beast was tearing down at him, flying low over the grass, the huge gaping mouth big enough to eat him whole. It’s now or never. With a mighty yell, he began to pick up speed as he felt Solidus’ charm fuel his strides, the Infernus flames going out as the cool night air rushed about him.
Watching him charge the dragon like a mountain ram with a foul temper, Draco deduced then and there that the Golden boy was an absolute madman. He had to give it to him though, Potter was damn confident if he thought doing something as stupid as this was a good idea. Kicking in his heels on Stormcloud’s ribs, he sped down towards the unevenly paired head-butting competition. He’ll just sneak in and finish off Macnair from behind; it should be relatively simple…
Right now, Harry’s whole world was centered on those icy yellow eyes of his much larger opponent. From what Crouch told him, a dragon’s weak spot was its eyes, and only accessible from directly above it. The ‘getting above’ was the trick, and he needed to take a page out of Draco’s book for that. Whipping out his sword in a flash of steel, his eyes glowed as he allowed its magic to guide him. It took control of his base fighting instinct, and the natural impulse to defeat his enemy was the only thing that mattered. This had to be perfect….NOW!
“INCIENDO ERUPTUS!” He shouted, fire blazing from his eyes.
Instantly the ground before him began to break apart in huge cracks, splitting and recombining as the earth crumbled under the power of his Eruption spell. Harry knew that it would be violent, but nothing could prepare him for that sensation of being blown metres high into the sky as he stepped directly on the miniature volcano. Draco grinned as he saw Harry launch into the air, his whole body consumed by flames, his legs “running” as he climbed high.
“Attaboy Harry…” he murmured, nodding in awesome respect. Harry rocketed into the sky, the sword of Godric Gryffindor held in a firm two handed grip high over his head. Draco pulled up short, his head angled to the sky as he followed Harry’s kamikaze dive.
Hah! Maybe he should just relax, and enjoy the show.
* * *
“Did you see that?” Godfrey muttered, popping back a chocolate flavored candy bean.
“Aye,” Lestrange added, smiley widely. “That was excellent,” he continued, sipping back on his drink. The both of them exchanged jovial remarks on the battle outside, not a care in the world. Antolin Doholov watched on with a grim expression, this was not natural for a sixteen year boy, even for the one powerful enough to vanquish Voldemort. Well, he should say, almost vanquish. He smiled, he knew his enemy would forget about he main objective when something else took their attention.
After all, they were only boys, and knew nothing bout battle priorities.
* * *
Macnair craned his neck high, as Harry Potter dove down from the sky like a fiery angel. A crippling fear struck him as he gazed into those eyes, but fear or no fear, he would fight to the end. He gripped his huge axe in both hands, and sized up for the upcoming clash. He could do nothing else as his opponent dive bombed at him.
Everything seemed to be in slow motion in Harry Potter’s perspective. His senses were at full alert, and even at this speed, he could see his opponents eyes widen in horror. A dark grin spread across his face. This wizard tried to kill Hermione.
I’ll Make Him Pay!
Harry swung his sword down with all his might, and Macnair brought about his axe in a huge arc, his burly arms coming around in a massive surge of strength. He felt his teeth jar as they clashed magical steel against magical steel. Harry felt that impact down to his spine, wow- this man was strong. He toppled into Macnair at full speed, and both of them tumbled a long way down the dragons’ scaly back, each of them trying to get the upper hand. The Dragon instinctively soared upwards as it sensed that it’s rider was no longer seated, and they slid off the long tail, falling hard.
Separated, the two men lay flat on their backs, taking a moment to catch their breath. After what felt like an eternity both Macnair and Harry Potter got up groggily, their melee weapons thrown from them. They squared off against each other, both looking the much worse for wear. Macnair whipped out two wands that he held in his tunic, his face bleeding from a large gash on his chin. Harry slowly drew his wand, eyeing his opponent. For a split second both of them just stood there, their eyes locked in a psychological battle. The death Eater attacked first.
“AVADA KEDAVRA!” he shouted, a green sizzling bolt aimed directly at him. Harry threw himself down to his right, and pointed from a prone position.
Macnair laughed, and incanted, “Assimiliar incante” and the stunner zoomed directly to his wand. It glowed red on the tip, then he muttered lazily, “Incante Dissapartium.” Feeling confident, he threw at a casual taunt. “Is that the best you got?“ he laughed at Harry. Laugh all you want, Harry thought as he got to his feet. Pointing his wand, Macnair laughed. “Let’s try again shall we?”
“REDUCTO EXERTIMUS!” Harry shouted, and Macnair was almost caught off guard. He hastily brought up a Shield Charm, but it didn’t do much good. He blew back with the pure concussive force of his shield shattering from Harry’s modified Reductor curse. A fraction of the white light cut through, taking his right forearm off and sending it flying into the night air. Harry straightened up, and Draco zoomed off to where Macnair lay, some fifty metres away. He was screaming uncontrollably, clutching the stub of what was once his arm.
“Potter, what in Slytherin’s name was that?” Draco asked. Harry strode over to his weapon, picked it up, and stood over a bawling Macnair.
“For Neville,” he hissed, holding the sword execution style.
“No!” Draco shouted, and drew his wand. “Expelliarmus!” Harry’s blade flung out of his hand, and his eyes slowly faded back to normal. Draco was watching him incredulously, his wand still pointing at him, not too sure if he should have stopped him or not. That crazy look he had…
Harry looked down Macnair, and the huge black mark covering half of his torso. His clothes were burnt off, and his body still smoked slightly from his blast.
Macnair laid flat on his back, overcome with the shock of the pain and losing his arm. He smiled faintly. “ You young fool, let me live and I’ll make sure I fuck up that pretty mudblood of yours,” he goaded. Harry bristled, and drew his wand in a flash. Draco stood between them and pointed his wand directly at Macnair.
“Shut up,” he grumbled, and stunned him directly in his face. He still had to restrain Harry as he was still murderous, and eventually he calmed down. “Listen, we’ve got a job to finish. Ignore him.”
Harry nodded, pain from that collision was shooting spasms all through his body, and already he felt on the verge of collapse. Coughing loudly, he doubled over, putting his hands on his knees. Draco was already mounting his unicorn waiting for him to hop on.
“We don’t have bloody hell whole night. Get over here,” he ordered. Harry raised his hand in acknowledgement, however, he began to cough even harder. They became hard, racking coughs, and Harry began to spit out some blood. Draco dismounted and walked to his side. “No time to dally Potter. Potter?” he asked again, trying to look into his face. Harry keeled over without warning, clutching his forehead with both hands.
“Draco! We’re too late..he’s alive….!.. He’s coming ..close.” And with that Harry screamed, writhing on the ground, as he tried to nullify the pain.
“WHAT?!” Draco shouted, kneeling at his side. “Potter! Oh fuck….” He heard a very familiar sound, the sound of someone apparating right behind him. He turned around slowly, taking two steps back..
Right before his eyes, The Dark Lord Voldemort stood proudly, and in his hand was the Halo of Life.
“Good evening gentlemen. It was so nice of you to join me for my return. Especially you, son of Malfoy.”
Draco gulped, and Harry clambered desperately on all fours, trying to get as much distance as possible away from him. Draco stood numbly, all of his cockiness seemed to have vanished, and fear froze him to the spot. Harry groaned loudly, but the pain was coursing like thousands of volts into his head. He could sense that Voldemort was more powerful than ever, and with the halo in his hand, he held a piece of the life forces of both himself and Draco Malfoy.
“Wonderful piece of magic embedded in this trinket.” Voldemort said lazily, caressing the smooth object with a long, rail-thin finger. “Now, I have both power to resurrect life, and bring forth death. Much thanks to your mother for bringing it to my attention, Draco.”
“I..I’ll.. I’ll kill-kill you again!” Harry sputtered, trying to stand up. Voldemort ignored him completely.
“Malfoy your ability is very impressive, and I think you’ll do nicely as my new weapon.”
“Get away fro me! INCIENDO AR CHENSITAR!” he growled, and Voldemort was instantly consumed in his sixth level Infernus spell. Voldemort calmly approached, seemingly unaffected by his fire. “What the fuck…?” Draco muttered, backing off even more. He was getting very scared now.
“Run, get-get out of here!” Harry hissed, still not able to keep balance fully. Dammit, he needed Hermione, now, before his head exploded!
“Oh, Young Malfoy here is not going anywhere soon, and neither are you, my longtime enemy. I shall deal with you shortly. Right now Dumbledore and his rag tag order are coming, and I need a new recruit to even the odds. Imperio!” he muttered lazily.
Draco stopped moving, his eyes unblinking. He gazed sightlessly at a point behind Voldemort, his hands and face twitching. “Come, my dear lad, come and bow before your new master.”
Draco Malfoy sheathed his wand, and knelt low on one knee before the Dark Lord.
“Excellent!” he chuckled in that high pitch voice of his. Harry couldn’t believe it, but could do nothing but watch as Draco stood at Voldemort’s side.
* * *
“Potter, you have proven that you are able to combat my Imperius curse. I will ask you once. Do you wish to join me?” Voldemort said politely. If Harry was able to, we would have kicked that smile down his throat. But as things were, he could barely stand, much less think. He wished he could dig out this scar from his forehead. Standing up through all the pain, he gulped for breath, scrunching his eyes against the drilling in his brain.
“Go Fuck yourself!” he growled through clenched teeth, taking a lunging swing at him. Voldemort laughed, and Draco stepped in seamlessly and effortlessly caught his wrist, crushing it in a surprisingly strong grip. Harry’s eyes widened. What the fuck? How the hell..?
Harry screamed as he was brought unto his knees, the bones in his front arm on the verge of breaking.
“Let him go,” Voldemort said in an amused tone. Draco released him and Harry flung himself back in desperation, his wrist clutched in the other hand. It was already blue and purple with the force of Malfoy’s grip.
“Fortified strength, Potter. I have mastered all aspects of Dark magic, and forcing the human body to amplify its natural ability is child’s play to me,” Voldemort loomed over his nemesis, Harry inching back as fast as he could. He groped desperately for his wand but Voldemort chuckled in mirth.
“Do not even try. Crucio!” he laughed, and Harry bit down hard, grinding his teeth through the pain. It was just as horrible as before, and Harry had no choice but to grip at an invisible object in the center of his chest as his vision went blurry. After the first wave had subsided, Harry lay sprawled out on the tall grass, trying damn hard to keep breathing and not pass out. He would not give in and scream -he would never grant Voldemort that pleasure. “You remain silent? Fear not, I have not even begun. CRUCIO!”
This time Harry could not contain himself, and he screamed for the whole world to hear. He convulsed on the ground, and his veins were clearly pronounced on his forehead and neck. His fingers groped for the stars, and each and every muscle cramped a hundred times over. Voldemort lazily lowered his wand, and Harry’s body still convulsed and jumped as the muscles contracted painfully of their own accord.
Voldemort mouth twitched fractionally in a smile. “That’s much better. I will enjoy watching you suffer as I decimate everyone you hold dear…” Voldemort nudged him with the foot of his robes, and Harry halfheartedly tried to swat his foot away. With a throaty laugh Voldemort kicked at his flailing wrist in derision.
Harry vomited painfully, and the last thing he could remember was twin red eyes glaring at him above a brightly glowing wand.
* * *
Back at the Granger’s residence, forty seven wizards each had a grasp on the garden hose, a grim expression on everyone’s faces.
“We’ll be leaving in three…two…one…” Remus Lupin was counting down the time to activation of the Portkey when he felt a sudden drop of power in his amulet. A moment before they all felt that familiar tug behind their navels, Albus Dumbledore, Dedalus Diggle and Alastor Moody made brief, but very distinct eye contact.
Something had gone terribly wrong.
Hermione Granger felt like her whole body was being reversed in high speed, and then braked to a grinding halt. Opening her eyes, she was sprawled on the ground, looking at dozens of booted legs. Taking her face out of the grass, she climbed to her feet. They were here- Her breath caught in her throat, and she gasped audibly.
“What is it?” Remus asked her.
“-H-Harry…he’s …we don’t have much time!” she whispered, rising groggily to her feet, her fingers pressed against her temple. “He’s near to... or in that building,” she said, pointing at the building. It was at the top of the gentle slope, the cloudy night sky seeming to sit on top of the steeple roof. There was a sharp pain in her head, but eventually it faded, and was dormant was more. Remus held the Medallion of the Order of the Phoenix in his palm, his face grim. Harry’s power signature was almost nonexistent, and something was very different with the feedback he got from Draco Malfoy. Dumbledore had done the same, and they both looked at each other, determination etched in their faces
Remus turned to the wizards in his team. “Everyone! Listen up. Remember: our main objective is to support and rescue Harry and Draco Malfoy. Dumbledore and his team are the main duelists, and Nymphadora and her team are the healers. We will try to remain unnoticed, and sneak in if we have too. The others will try to keep the Death Eaters busy until we get them out. Understood?”
Hermione nodded, she was ready. No matter what, she won’t let Harry down. Dumbledore, Moody, Nymphadora and Remus gave the signal for no more words, and used their hands to communicate. Remus’ group began enchanting themselves with the Chameleon Charm, and stole off silently to the north, approaching the Building from the rear. Dumbledore’s group waited until they had made some distance in between them, and approached from the south, directly facing the winding dirt road running up to the front doors.
“Keep up your guard, be ready for anything.” the professor whispered, and created his own personal shield charm. “Protego!” he whispered, and the others followed his lead. Ron Weasley shadowed Alastor Moody closely, his face full of grim determination. He hated how Harry didn’t think highly enough of his skills to take him into battle, but deep down he knew that both Harry and Malfoy were on a completely different level than he was.
Maybe on a different level than all of them.
Even so, he was here for him now, and will fight to the death, if need be. Harry was his best friend, and this time, he won’t sit by and watch him suffer alone. Ron peered across to the general vicinity of Hermione’s group, and he could barely make out their shimmering outlines as they ran silently up the hill. Focusing on the building in the almost pitch darkness, he could vaguely make out something was amiss.
That, on the wall, that wasn’t a painting…
He gasped in shock. “Moody!” he whispered urgently. “Look!”
Moody’s artificial eye swung about in his head, and the pupil narrowed as it zoomed in to what he was pointing at.
“Look at them, master. Like lambs to the slaughter.” Doholov snickered.
“My faithful followers; tonight will be our night of triumph. Harry Potter has been defeated, and displayed as our prized trophy. He will soon witness true power when we vanquish Dumbledore and his puny resistance. Shall we go and greet our guests, and introduce them to our new addition? Malfoy, Are you ready?” Voldemort asked gleefully.
Draco Malfoy came to his side, his eyes cold and unblinking. “I will show them this power that you speak of, my lord.” He broke into a slow smile as he stared into the looking glass, making quick calculations of the odds they were facing. Pivoting quickly on his heels, he swung open the huge doors and strode outside, the mantle of the Phoenix flowing behind him.
“Come, lets us go forth, and do battle.” Voldemort vanished, and Snape, Doholov, and Lestrange followed suit.
Macnair lay unmoving in the aisle, basically paralyzed while the healing spell worked on him. He smirked when they left, let them have their glory war, he, on the other hand, will be gone the moment he could get up.
Harry Potter was slowly swinging from the top of the roof, his torso wound about with thick chains, both arms outstretched and chained to opposite ends of the wall. His head drooped limply against his chest, his clothes removed as he hung there against the wall of the building . No sooner had Ron noticed did the others also understand the dire situation. Some instantly shot forward to help him, but Dumbledore raised his hand in a silent command, stretching it to his side.
“Wait, someone is coming,” he whispered.
A lone figure marched out of the brightly lit doorway of the building, his face hidden in shadow. Dumbledore’s group were ready, and all had their wands pointed directly at him..
“STOP WHERE YOU ARE!” his voice boomed. Albus stood in front of his troops, a leader in the true sense of the word. “RELEASE HIM AND THE OTHERS IMMEDIATELY!”
Draco stopped at the top of the incline, the chill night air toying with the cloak. Dumbledore squinted in the near darkness, that size, and height, that couldn’t be-
Suddenly, four other figures apparated at either side of him, their robes giving them no mistake of who they were. And those inhuman eyes belonging to the speaker of their group could only belong to one person.
“Albus! Welcome to my gathering.” Voldemort said darkly. His cold high voice wafted on the air, and everyone immediately shifted attention to him. “You should never send boys to do men’s work,” he continued; pointing over his shoulder at the still form that hung from the rooftop. “Tonight is a joyous night, my friend- Your champion has challenged me, and failed. I will kill each and every one of you, and he will be my own personal treat. For now, he will suffer as he watches all of you perish,” Voldemort said calmly.
“Who are you fooling Tom? Do you think you could ever defeat me?” Dumbledore said firmly. He finally drew his wand, and everyone felt his presence fuel them on, their own magic slightly augmented by his awesome power. “You have been a menace for far too long…I should have done this a long time ago…”
Voldemort laughed at him. “Albus, I must admit that your power is great. But I have no intention of dueling with you. Let me introduce my new weapon.” Draco stepped forward, the light spilling from the doorway creating a long shadow along the ground. Suddenly, flames burst from his eyes, illuminating his face in its fiery glow. He broke into an evil grin, shot off majestically into the air, both of his hands engulfed in flames.
“Rise..my apprentice…RISE!” Voldemort cackled, reveling in his newest addition. With a soft chuckle, he flicked his fingers in a dismissive gesture. “Destroy them, Malfoy.”
“Draco!!” Dumbledore shouted, what was he doing? He didn’t have to wait long for an answer, because his student reached for the stars, his fingertips nearly touching each other as he created a ball of fire between his palms. There was a sudden increase in the density of the air as a murmured incantation wafted on the dark breeze. Moody’s artificial eye focused high above them, and the constellations above. Something was not right…
“Everyone!! Spread out as far as possible!! Do it now !” he shouted. Everyone did as instructed, everyone excepting Dumbledore, who did not move an inch. “Alastor!” he shouted, “It’s huge!! -ALASTOR!” he shouted again. There was a twinkle of a star from high above, and the twinkling grew larger and more intense in the space of a few heartbeats.
“RIDDLE!! RELEASE HIM FROM YOUR SPELL!” he shouted, pointing at him. Voldemort laughed at him, clapping his hands joyously.
“Now tell me, why would I do such a thing? Behold!”
A huge meteor screamed through the atmosphere, barreling down in a huge fireball as Draco summoned it from the heavens. There were frantic screams as everyone ran from the incoming catastrophe, dispersing as far as possible to avoid the meteor about ten times bigger than the building itself. Albus Dumbledore was steadfast, and pointed his wand at the incoming boulder, his brow wrinkled in concentration.
* * *
Hermione Granger and the others were making the long way around when they heard voices. They paused, trying to listen in, but all of a sudden the temperature skyrocketed, and they heard that ominous sound of something very big falling through the air. Hermione looked to the sky, there was huge burning object increasing in size as it flew over the horizon, plummeting towards the open field at the front.
“What the fuck is that?” one of the Aurors shouted, pointing at it. Remus stood transfixed to the spot, shit- that thing was huge!
“Oh no...” Hermione whispered.
“What? You know who’s doing it?’
“That’s..Draco..but it can’t be…” Hermione whispered in disbelief. He wouldn’t attack the building if he knew that Harry was there…would he?
Harry Potter stirred, his eyes opening slightly. He looked down, the steps to the front of the building were quite a fall below him. It slowly dawned on him that he was chained to the building, hanging at a very precarious position. Instinctively he tried to move his arms and legs, but as soon as he moved an inch the Cruciatus Curse wracked through his body again, and the veins in his neck swelled almost on the brink of bursting. His face contorted in agony, and he screamed loudly as the hexed object used his own magic to empower the curse. After a few seconds of the intense pain, he felt like passing out again, but when his eyes focused on the soaring figure in front of him high above Professor Dumbledore, he forced himself to remain awake. The temperature began to rise at a ridiculous rate, and that could only mean that that levitating person was no other then Malfoy, and he was using a very powerful Infernus spell. Harry flinched from the heat, but every movement he made seem to trigger the Curse, so he stopped fidgeting, only using his eyes to observe what was happening far below. He had to figure out a way to escape before Voldemort realized he was awake.
Dumbledore’s wand trembled, and his voice rang clear throughout the night as he closed his eyes in concentration.
“ Protego maximus, Reducto exertimus ! ”
A bright light temporarily blinded everyone present as magical energy began to swirl about Dumbledore’s robes. His long grey hair turned a blinding white, and his robes glowed majestically as waves of energy pulsed from the earth below him and upwards through his legs and body. The blinding light grew even more intense until its luminance rivaled that of the immense fireball in the sky. The spell charged to full capacity, and Dumbledore was ready to execute.
“ REDUCTO ULTIMA !”
A huge beam of magical energy shot out of his wand, hitting dead center of the cataclysmic Meteor only a few hundred metres into the air. The entire Order of the Phoenix cowered under the intense heat, the huge mass of blazing rock taking up the whole sky at this short distance. The Meteor slowed dramatically as Dumbledore’s magic splashed against its surface, the blinding magic coursing through it like electricity. Gravity pulled in the huge boulder with tremendous force, but Dumbledore stood fast, his eyes fierce with determination, the wand in his hand shaking with the extreme effort he was putting behind his spell.
Moody raced to his side, and used the combining spell, adding his own immense reservoir of magic to Dumbledore’s.
“REASSIMILIAR INCANTE !!” he shouted, pointing his wand at his comrade. Magic swirled up from the earth once more, this time spiraling up Moody’s legs, then linked from his wand towards Dumbledore. The meteor rock almost halted in midair, the highest level of the Reductor Curse cutting through the massive boulder as it coursed through to the very core. From the inside out light begun to shine through the cracks, and half a second later, the meteor imploded, fragmenting into house-sized chunks of smoldering rock in the open field.
Dumbledore faltered to one knee, and Moody crumpled to the ground in a heap. With their combined magic subsided, both wizards fell victim to exertion. Voldemort clapped his hands in generous applause.
“Excellent! Excellent!” he cried, laughing at the top of his lungs. “Wonderful counter, could not have done better myself!” Dumbledore rose shakily to his full height, his eyes and face weary with the strain of that piece of magic.
“Is this a game to you?” he said calmly, pointing his wand once again to Voldemort. “Release him!” he ordered for the final time. .
“But unlike you,” Voldemort continued as if he had said nothing, “My young apprentice here has not even broken a sweat.” Draco levitated himself towards Albus Dumbledore and Alastor Moody, the grass directly underneath him going ablaze as he skimmed low over the ground.
“Farewell, my teacher,” Voldemort said softly, and Draco threw himself high over his headmaster, flames blazing from his eyes. He hovered for a few seconds, the fires in his hands re-igniting with intensity until both of his arms were covered in fire.
Taking a deep breath, Draco Malfoy summoned magic to pool inside of his stomach and lungs. The disgusting feeling of wanting to throw up consumed him, but he grinned in anticipation instead. His chest expanded almost double in size as he commanded his body to be a living vessel for the Infernus, this particular spell finalizing his achievement of reaching the highest tier of the Summoner class magic. Throwing his neck forward, Malfoy screamed and flames exploded out from his lungs, the sheer force of the spell forcing him back higher into the sky.
“DRACO!” Dumbledore shouted, and feebly pointed his wand. “PROTEGO !” A violent stream of golden white fire splashed against Dumbledore’s powerful shield charm. Draco persisted on, and as the flames engulfed Dumbledore and his domed shield, the headmaster fell to his knees. The onslaught eased as Draco ran out of breath, surveying the old wizard from on high. With almost a nonchalant air, he floated down serenely, and stood in front of his headmaster, the so called “Greatest Wizard that Ever Lived”.
Draco Malfoy laughed in a strange voice as he looked deep into his eyes.
“Die, old man!” With another deep breath, he spewed fire again, and this time the flames finally burst through the shield charm. Both Alastor Moody and Professor Dumbledore screamed for a fraction of a second before there bodies were incinerated into nothing but ashes.
Harry screamed with all of his being, and the Cruciatus Curse shot through him again, but this time he couldn’t care less. He couldn’t believe his own eyes. Angry tears ran down his face. The end has come, and the most powerful wizard in the world was now gone. Voldemort had won, and he had failed again. He refused to allow himself to live, and shut his eyes in horror. He couldn’t watch this... he could not fathom what he had caused here tonight.
* * *
Hermione Granger and Remus Lupin were coming around the back of the grounds when they heard Harry’s desperate scream pierce the night air. At that same moment Remus froze still as a rock, he felt an immense drop in the power of his medallion. He could not believe it…it couldn’t be. Hermione was still running towards the building when she realized that Lupin was left behind, squatting low as he tried to catch his breath. She ran back to him, and knelt at his side.
“Come on! They stopped the meteor! We have to rescue Harry and Draco…”
“G-granger…” he choked.. “The Professor…and Moody…are dead…” he stammered, hyperventilating with the effort it took to speak.
“WHAT!!??” she screamed…and it dawned on her for a brief moment that it may just be too late...and their cause was lost.
“We..we..” Remus choked as he tried to catch his breath. “We may not be able to get Harry back...” he whispered, all of his fighting spirit dissipating out of him. “We need to retreat...and...f-formulate a plan...” he croaked, holding his face in his hands.
“NO!! HARRY IS ALIVE! AND WE’RE TAKING HIM BACK!!” she shouted. It couldn’t be: the cause was not lost. “I AM NOT LEAVING HIM!!” she shouted, and ran off towards the building. The others were now in two minds whether to follow her or not. Remus looked at her in awe, and her sheer strength of will gave him the motivation to continue. He gritted his teeth, and shut out everything else except their purpose.
How could he have even though about calling a retreat? He was the head of command now, and he needed to be strong.
“Come on,” Remus said, getting to his feet. “We still have a mission to accomplish.”
* * *
Voldemort was in an ecstatic mood, this was far too easy. The boy had incredible power, and has proven his worth ten times over already. “Let’s have some fun shall we?” he said to his followers, eyeing the shell shocked wizards scattered about far below. The fools: take out their king, and not even a lowly pawn has the will to fight. The weak follow the strong, and these weaklings were now pups with no master. He felt their hate rising in them though, and he knew they wanted to avenge.
Good. Hatred could be a driving force… but without guidance it will be all too easy to pick them off one by one…
He stared at Draco Malfoy levitating high in the sky, seemingly awaiting his next command. Voldemort sent his instructions…and Draco nodded in understanding. Raising his arms palms facing upwards to the sky, Draco resurrected the smoldering boulders from where they were embedded into the ground. They began to spin slowly, then rotated blinding fast, bursting into flames as they whirled around like planets revolving around the sun. He brought his arms crashing down as the spell climaxed, and the rocks embedded themselves deep into the earth.
“Demona, Ifrit, Hethbozoar, Allicius, Lorzium, Shetani, Malzebolga, Logi!” he shouted, and the embedded rocks began to emit a weird cackling noise, the sound midway between rocks combusting and the strange sound of little girls laughing. “Demons of fire, daughters of Lucifer, Loki and Hades, offerings to thee I bring.”
“Allicius, exceme asi aliem zelorium, Helio incante Expecto Inferial! ”
The Heliopaths roared as they lumbered out of the house sized fragments of celestial rock, towering a full twenty feet tall and ten feet wide. They were roughly humanoid in shape, except that where there would be muscle mass, there were huge chunks of blazing rock in its stead. Eight of these demons lumbered down the slope at the utterly terrified wizards further down the hill, the grass igniting in huge bonfires in their destructive wake. The ground began to rumble…and the Order sunk low into the grass as they desperately tried to figure out how to proceed. They shot worried glances at each other, and some visibly paled as their seemingly invincible foes bore down on them.
Ron alone was not scared, he could feel deep down that Harry was alive, and that alone was incentive to fight. Something from deep inside swelled up inside of him, and he knew he couldn’t live it down if he ran away. Battle tactics and strategy popped into his head, and sudden inspiration formulated itself into a plan, a plan that might damn well work. He had wondered earlier on in the year that Harry’s absence may be his cue to prove himself, and now was as a time for inspiration if there ever was one.
Turning to those behind him, he said in a firm, authorative voice:
“Listen! We need two teams, one for Malfoy, and the other for the Heliopaths. We work in groups of three... a Shield Specialist, and two who have powerful Reductor Curses. Dumbledore gave us a good example, we target their weak spot with two well aimed Reductor Blasts one right after the other, and they should explode from the inside out! Tonks! Think you could put together a team to subdue Malfoy? He’s acting under the Imperius spell, maybe a direct stunner would do the trick...get your best sharpshooters, and bring him down.”
He looked up resolutely at their target far up the hill, the flickering flames of the night making it seem even more eerie than before.
This was it: The Second War had begun, and if we lose…
That was not an option. They would succeed, and end this now, tonight. He rolled up his sleeves, and crouched low amongst the tall grass. The Order had regrouped behind him, and they all felt his energy giving them a direct purpose and motivation. His two brothers were at his side, and the nodded at each other in understanding.
“We have to get Remus’ team out of there…and rescue Harry… before it’s too late,” Ron growled, his battle face ready. “Let’s do this!” he shouted, and they all yelled their battle cry, shield spells going up in unison. The subgroups began to pick their targets, and all of them raced up the hill.
Harry, Hermione…we’re coming to get you out.
Author's note: Sorry for the wait. Got into a bit of trouble posting, so , my apologies again.
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