Chapter 13 : The Beginning of the End
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Desire and Demise
The Beginning of the End
“What have you done to her?” Harry snarled, advancing on Draco, who had yet to move an inch.
“Nothing,” he responded, his tone indifferent.
“Nothing?! And I’m supposed to believe that? Just look at her!” he screeched. The hand holding his wand shot out to point towards Hermione. Red sparks sprouted from the end, displaying his anger. They missed her face by inches.
“Harry,” Hermione pleaded quietly, trying to calm him. She was beginning to feel very light-headed, and this confrontation wasn’t helping.
“It wasn’t me, Potter. I’m not the only Death Eater here. You, of all people, should know that,” he taunted, standing up and treading towards Harry. He stopped only when his face was inches from Harry’s, challenging him to take the first blow.
“You may not be the only one, but you’re the most foul,” he responded. This was obviously false, but Harry’s anger was taking over at this point.
“Harry, please. They’ll hear you,” Hermione said, urging him to lower his voice.
“I’m not afraid of any Death Eaters, especially not him,” Harry explained, glaring at Draco. The latter snarled, shifting his stance. Any minute now, they would be going at each other with fists, wands, and anything else that they could find to inflict damage upon the other. They were like volcanoes, ready to erupt.
Suddenly, the sound of racing footsteps resounded through the room. Hermione looked from Draco to Harry, and back again. They had turned away from each other. Harry’s attention shot towards Hermione, and terror clouded his eyes. Draco had turned towards the entranceway, awaiting his fellow minions. The Death Eaters were coming, and all hell was about to break loose.
“Look what the cat dragged in. It’s that Potter kid!” came a voice from near the archway as a group of Death Eaters came into view. Hermione recognized one as Vincent, but the other three were complete strangers to her. They were all bearing wands, their faces dark and condescending.
“How’d you get in here, boy?” another asked, tilting his head in Harry’s direction.
The four Death Eaters had entered the room now, and were slowly beginning to form a circle around Harry. Draco had obsequiously joined their ranks, blending in with ease. They were all laughing maniacally, jeering at Harry as he spun around frantically, trying to defend himself from all angles. They were poking and prodding him with their wands now, and Harry looked absolutely terrified.
“Hermione, run! Get out of here, I can handle them,” Harry yelled to her, standing his ground.
“Don’t even try it, girl,” Vincent growled, breaking ranks and moving towards Hermione, ensuring that she wouldn’t try to escape. But Hermione knew better than to run. It would be foolish, and foolish she was not.
Before she knew what was happening, another loud crack sounded, and the form of Remus Lupin appeared directly beside her. Hermione gasped, but was instantly filled with a sense of relief. Remus smiled down at her. It was a weary smile, one that told her Remus had been through a lot in the past months, but it was all she needed to feel at home again. She wasn’t alone anymore, and there was still hope.
Vincent lunged at the werewolf, knocking him off his feet. They struggled on the ground for a moment as Hermione watched helplessly, too weak to do much more than remain conscious.
“Remus!” Harry shouted, attempting to break free of the circle in order to help his comrade. The Death Eaters closed in tighter, keeping him inside their ring.
“How many more of your kind are there, Potter?” a mousy-haired woman asked, taking a step into the circle to confront Harry face to face. She was an inch or two shorter than him, but intimidating nonetheless. “And how did you find out about this place? We had a Secret Keeper and everything.”
“Delia, shh! The Dark Lord won’t be pleased to know you’ve been blabbing about every little thing we do around here,” warned a large, balding man.
Delia nodded and took a step back, melting into the circle again.
“The whole Order knows you’re here,” Harry said, a satisfied grin spreading across his face. “It seems your Secret Keeper got scared, and passed the duties off to someone else.”
The circle had been rotating steadily around Harry, but at this news, the mousy-haired woman stopped walking, causing the gangly man behind her in line to crash into her. The circle took on a new, misshapen form, and all eyes were on Harry.
“What do you mean, boy?” the balding man asked, clearly flustered.
“Not so sure of yourselves now, are you?” Harry asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Are you going to tell us what’s happened or not?” Draco asked menacingly. Hermione couldn’t help but wonder if it was all an act. She couldn’t be positive that anything out of his mouth had been true, but then again she couldn’t be sure if his words had been false, either. He had succeeded in confusing her to the point of idiocy.
What side was he really on?
“Your Secret Keeper, Selwynn I believe, the same man that was assigned to guarding me when it was I who was your captive, got scared and passed on his burden to none other than Peter Pettigrew. I presume you remember him… the one who betrayed my parents. Turns out he’s returned the favor, and betrayed you. I’ll bet you wish you would’ve been a bit nicer to him now, so he wouldn’t have run to us,” Harry explained, clearly enjoying every second of his speech.
“You’re lying!” Vincent screamed. He had now managed to pin Remus up against the wall, where the poor man was attempting to wriggle his way out. Vincent’s grasp was strong, and Remus was having no luck.
There was quick succession of popping noises, and four more Order members appeared: Hestia Jones, an expression of both awe and terror upon her pink-cheeked face; Mad-Eye Moody, looking particularly flustered; Kingsley Shacklebolt, serious and ready to fight, as always; and Nymphadora Tonks, who let out a sharp squeal at the sight of Remus being held against the wall. She immediately ran over to Vincent and began beating at his back, her fists flying wildly. Kingsley and Mad-Eye advanced on the group of Death Eaters surrounding Harry while Hestia bent down besides Hermione.
“Here, take this,” she said, her voice light and comforting. It was hard to make out what she had said – shouts and jeers had broken out as the fighting commenced.
A pink vial was thrust into Hermione’s hand, and she quickly opened it and drained the liquid without question. Almost immediately, she felt her strength return. She stood up as a smile lit up her face.
“And here’s your wand,” Hestia continued, handing Hermione’s wand over. “We found it in a room down the hall from this one. That’s why we were a bit late. We had a few Death Eaters to take care of and – WATCH OUT!”
A flash of red hit the stone wall nearly a foot away from Hermione’s head. The gangly Death Eater had sent the spell towards Harry, who had ducked, and the spell had flown over his head. Hermione took a step away from the wall, heart pounding.
“We’re going to get you out of here as soon as we can,” she continued. “Once the Death Eaters are distracted, that is. Can’t have anyone following you.”
Hermione nodded, gripping her wand tightly.
“Well, here goes,” Hestia said, shrugging, before jumping into the fight. Hermione saw her shooting curses towards Delia, who winked at her in a very taunting manner, before she disappeared from sight.
“Here goes,” Hermione repeated to herself before she, too, joined the battle.
“How’re you, Hermione?”
It was Remus Lupin. He was directly beside her, brandishing his wand at Vincent, who simply would not leave him alone. Hermione shot him a glance before sending a Cheering Charm at the nearest Death Eater. A wide, toothy smile spread across the man’s face, and he began spinning in circles, humming a cheery melody. The charm had worked.
“Not bad, now that you’re all here,” Hermione said, attempting a smile as they both dodged the flames that had spewed from Vincent’s wand.
“Glad to hear it,” Remus answered, wincing as the flames singed his forearm.
That was when another five or so Death Eaters ran into the room. Hermione only caught a glimpse of them, as she was blocking spells that were flying at her from all directions, but out of the corner of her eye, she was sure she had spotted none other than Bellatrix Lestrange.
Voldemort knew the Order had come, and had sent his troops. There was no doubt in Hermione’s mind. But why wasn’t he coming out? Was he afraid? There seemed no reason for him to fear the Order members. He had several Horcruxes after all… or did he?
“Harry!” Hermione called out, winding her way through the bodies and towards her friend. She sent a Confundo Charm at Delia, but missed, and dodged her retaliation, which had been a speeding Impediment Curse. Delia was clearly a new recruit.
Harry was backing into a corner, pursued by the balding man and Rodolphus Lestrange. He was screaming “Expelliarmus!” again and again at the top of his lungs, but the two men were deflecting his spells as easily as if they were bubbles.
“Oh no you don’t,” Hermione grumbled. “Locomotor Mortis!”
Rodolphus looked over his shoulder just as the spell collided with the back of his head. He went flying forwards and landed at Harry’s feet, his legs locked together. Harry’s eyes were wide with shock as he looked up to see Hermione standing a ways away with her arm outstretched, wand pointed at the exact spot where Rodolphus’ head had been seconds before.
The balding man let out a loud bellow and brandished his wand towards Harry, but Harry was too fast. He shouted “Expelliarmus!” and the Death Eater’s wand was flying through the air before the man could blink. When Harry caught his wand out of the air and held it close to his body, the man gave Harry a meek smile and ran as fast as his legs would carry him towards one of his fellow Death Eaters, using his comrade as a shield.
“Thanks, Hermione,” he breathed, stepping over Rodolphus’ writhing form.
“Don’t mention it,” Hermione replied, smiling. “Just think of it as compensation. Or perhaps it’s Pettigrew I should be thanking.”
“Harry James Potter.”
A woman’s voice resonated in Hermione’s ears. It was like molten lava, seeping through Hermione’s skin and burning her from the inside out.
“What do you think you have done to my husband?”
No. No, it couldn’t be. Not her… anyone but her.
Hermione saw Harry’s legs begin to shake. But she knew they weren’t shaking from fear. It was anger that Harry was exhibiting. White hot anger. His arm shot out and he pointed his wand out in front of him.
“You’re one to talk,” he snarled, his breathing heavy.
“Oh, you’re not still angry about your godfather, now, are you?” she asked, giggling.
Hermione spun on her heel and the sight of Bellatrix Lestrange came into view, in all her glory. Long, dark locks framed her face, and even darker, sunken eyes peeked out from behind heavy eyelids. A crooked smile sat proudly upon her cranberry lips.
It seemed that the woman herself was a living, breathing shadow. She was the manifestation of all the evils of the world, and Hermione couldn’t help but concentrate all her anger and fear onto Bellatrix. She thought about Draco – how she truly did care about him, but would probably never know whether or not those feelings were mutual. She thought about Harry – how his parents had died before he’d had a chance to get to know them, how he had suffered through so much prejudice, and how he had to face his demons everyday, no matter how much he wanted to put them to rest. She thought of Ron, Ginny, and the rest of the Weasleys. She thought of her friends and family. But most of all, she thought about herself, and all the hardships she’d faced. Every daunting memory welled up inside of her, forcing words from the depths of her very being.
“YOU MONSTER! Your husband deserves ten times what we’ve done to him! And you a hundred!”
Without thinking, without feeling, Hermione sent a Reductor Curse hurtling towards the embodiment of evil herself. Harry’s jaw dropped as the curse went flying through the air towards Bellatrix, and the woman’s sneer vanished. A glint of fear sparked in her eye, but the woman seemed to move faster than the speed of sound. Her arm waved through the air, casting off the spell at the last possible second. She was breathing heavily from the effort, but looked rather satisfied with herself.
“Now, now, little girl. If you’re going to play, you might as well do it the right way,” she explained with a wicked grin, taking several steps towards Hermione. She touched the tip of her wand to Hermione’s cheek and ran it across her skin gently. Hermione clenched her jaw and pulled away, disgusted.
“You see, you’ve got to use the first-class spells. None of those disgustingly safe pieces of trash,” she instructed, preparing to cast one of the ‘first-class spells’ she had mentioned.
But she never got the chance.
A bright green beam tore through the air, racing towards Bellatrix. The battle stopped as all eyes turned to watch. Everything was still for a second. Hermione held her breath.
The wicked woman didn’t have any time to react. The spell struck her square on. The haunting smile melted into a frown as Bellatrix felt the jolt of death run through her. Her mouth opened, and she seemed to be gasping for air. But it was no use. Bellatrix fell to the ground in a graceful spiral, dead.
Several yells rang out, and Hermione looked around frantically. The battle had begun again, with more desperation and energy than she would’ve believed possible. She looked downwards at the soulless body of Bellatrix Lestrange, and then upwards again to search for her killer. Who had sent the Killing Curse, saving both Harry and herself at the last minute?
Hermione had to stand on tip-toe to look over the heads of everyone in the room, but she was able to spot Fred and George Weasley standing side by side, in the middle of everything, looking rather serious for once in their lives. Hermione couldn’t remember seeing them Apparate in, and had no idea how long they’d been there, but was overwhelmed with delight. She was able to pick out, amongst the crowd, several more members of the Weasley clan, Professor McGonagall, and, to Hermione’s consternation, Peter Pettigrew, who seemed to be fighting along with the Order.
But all of them were now consumed in their own struggles for their lives. Not a single one of them seemed at all interested in what was going on beyond a three foot radius of themselves.
Harry dove back into the fight, joining Mr. Weasley in dealing with a raven-haired Death Eater who was sending colorful flashes of light towards the both of them. Hermione was left standing alone, watching the fight from the corner.
Then, in a second that lasted a century, Hermione made eye contact with Draco. In that one second, his eyes told her everything she’d wanted to know. She saw fear, desperation, longing, and sorrow. She also saw strength, regret, and hope.
Her suspicions were confirmed. Draco had killed Bellatrix Lestrange.
Author’s Note: =o Crazy, no? I’d love to hear some reactions from any readers out there. Were your predictions correct?
If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Although I might not be able to answer them. There’s still some important things to be discussed in the next two chapters.
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