Chapter 5 : The Heat of Battle
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“Grandma Andromeda sure did swear a lot!” Ted beamed. “I would have been scared of her too!”
“She’s tough as thestral hooves, but she’s had to be, with her life and her family to contend with – and never forget that she loves you Teddy. We all did. We all loved you, the moment you made that first cry. You really represented the future for all of us who had been fighting so hard and so long to keep a future that was worth having. And when it turned out that you weren’t carrying my condition, the relief was just… overwhelming. I didn’t want you to go through that like I did. Being a werewolf is no laughing…” Remus suddenly trailed off and scowled at his son. “How many times do I have to tell you not to DO that?”
“What… this?” Teddy said innocently, pointing to his suddenly wolfish snout and whiskers. He let his long tongue loll contentedly as Remus rubbed the creases on his forehead and sighed. The grey wolf was a ‘look’ Ted had experimented with in childhood, and had perfected in adolescence, particularly to torment his father and his grandmother. His mother, on the other hand, had always said that he would have made a handsome canine, if only he had come with a leash.
“Come on, dad!” Ted whined, shaking his head and returning his face to its usual state… but keeping his shaggy hair silver. “First of all, you’re not a ‘werewolf’. You HAVE lycanthropy – it’s a condition you have, NOT the definition of you as a person. Stop using the old-fashioned words for it.” Teddy saw his father nod in acquiescence, and he found that he enjoyed the feeling of teaching his dad a thing or two. “And everyone knows about your condition, and you manage it great. And it hasn’t affected you becoming the best headmaster ever at Hogwarts. Now that’s progress!”
On the wall, the portrait of Albus Dumbledore coughed.
“Oh! Professor Dumbledore.” Ted grinned. “I meant my dad is the best Headmaster ever at Hogwarts, after you. Sir.”
Remus Lupin smiled graciously up at his mentor. “You know Albus, this kid is smooth. Minister for Magic someday I think.”
“No,” Dumbledore chuckled, “I rather see him as too off-beat for that. But married to the Ministress for Magic, and running things from the inside, now THAT I can see.”
“Cool!” Teddy gasped, already envisioning himself on the arm of Victoire Lupin, sexy, proper, powerful Ministress for Magic. She’d be so hot, and in reality, he could see those tall heels and sharp wit winning a lot of votes. Especially those tall heels coupled with a short little business skirt… yeah… A box of tissues landing in his lap shook him back to reality.
“Wipe away that drool, son. It’s TMI.” Remus sniped wryly.
Ted flushed crimson. Sometimes it was like his dad could read his mind!
“Now, Remus, I recall you drooling over girls at school too.” Dumbledore chided. “The whole lot of you teenage boys, nothing but mindless hormones on legs! The things you and James and Sirius would do to try to sneak a peek into the girls’ dormitory-”
“SIR! I mean – ALBUS!” Remus exclaimed, feeling suddenly like sixteen year-old boy again. Now he too was blushing. “Don’t listen to the senile old painting Teddy – I was a pillar of virtue at school!”
Dumbledore (and the other portraits that were listening in) laughed riotously. Teddy beamed. “Dad, your school records say otherwise! We all know you and your friends were badass troublemakers in school. The Marauders are legendary, along with the Weasley twins and their Sixth Year Finale!” Teddy sighed wistfully, as if his chance to be TRULY badass at school had long ago passed him by. He did not realize that he had assured his status as a prank-legend way back in his freshman years, with his metamorphmagus abilities, and the ‘inexplicable’ talent for him and Victoire to always appear in the wrong place at the right time. His possession of the Marauders’ map was Teddy’s worst-kept secret – at least to his father.
“You can’t believe everything you read.” Remus said shiftily. “If you read the original accounts from the Battle of Hogwarts, you’ll see that your mother and I are among those pronounced dead.”
“What?” Teddy blinked. “No way!”
Remus looked up at Dumbledore, who nodded back in understanding. Remus flipped to the very back of photo album, and tucked in a yellowed pocket was a handwritten list of those who had died fighting for the freedom of the wizarding world. Ted took the list from his father’s trembling hand, and sure enough, the names of Remus John Lupin, age 38, and Nymphadora Tonks Lupin, age 25, were on the list. Teddy’s eyes skimmed to the bottom. The tear-streaked page was signed by Minerva McGonagall, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, May 2, 1998.
“Why, dad? Why would she write that?” He hated seeing his precious parents’ names on that list of war dead. It was wrong. It was unnecessary. It was cruel. He had been just a baby! “How could anyone write that?”
“Because,” Remus said softly, “In the heat of battle, son, some things can go miraculously right, and some things can go unbelievably wrong. But anything, anything, is possible.”
Dolohov slashed his wand through the air, and Remus shielded himself, and then dropped to the ground just in time to avoid a killing curse shot at him from the sky. The grounds of Hogwarts were unrecognizable with battle. Smoke rose from random explosions, and the acrid smell of blood and electricity coursed through the air. He was still fighting Dolohov, but there were so many, so many helping him… and they were everywhere. To the west, he saw someone fall under a killing curse; he instinctively knew the person killed had been a student. He battled his need to run to the fallen, and fired off curse after curse at his opponent, struggling to survive, but drowning slowly in the never ending onslaught of fresh foes.
His only comfort rested in the fact that his wife and his precious son were safe at home. And he would not leave this for them to emerge to in the morning. If it took his life, he would do his part to win this war.
“DIE ALREADY, WEREWOLF!” Roared Dolohov, as a green streak shot from his wand.
Remus cried out and dove just in time. Ignoring the fury in his aching muscles, he cast a two-handed, desperate AVADA KEDAVRA at Dolohov. The Death Eater easily side-stepped the blind curse, and laughed as his cohort on a broomstick flew past and barely missed Lupin with another killing curse. No, there was no playing fair in this war – there were no duels, only savage, winner-take-all combat. Remus realized he was outmanned, but he was still not outmaneuvered. When the masked Death Eater sniping him in flight came down close again, he leapt recklessly upon the pile of bricks and grabbed the tip of the broom, crashing the rider and his broom to the ground. He and the masked dark wizard were now head over heels, out in the open, struggling for Remus’ wand – Lupin smashed a fist into the man’s stomach, and Dolohov fired at him mercilessly, his curses crashing into the wall behind them. Remus hauled the masked Death Eater in front of him just in time, and Dolohov hit his cohort squarely in the back. Remus shoved the dead man off of him to find himself exposed and disarmed.
He scrambled. Wand wand wand need wand where’s my wand?! He grabbed the broken broom and flung it savagely back towards his opponent, and by sheer luck, it knocked Dolohov’s wand from his hand. This bought Remus the three seconds he needed to find his wand and re-engage. He turned, already deflecting another spell from Dolohov, but a plume of black smoke erupted nearby and Remus felt himself falling… he crashed into the floor of the dungeons, and Dolohov screamed victoriously from somewhere above him.
“It’s breached! We have an in!”
NO! Remus tried to struggle to his feet, but his leg was broken and would hold no weight – he hardly felt the pain as he dragged himself behind a wall of potions casks. He lay on one hip, taking aim through the casks, his eyes watching the collapsed earth above him. This was where he would make his final stand. This was where he would defend against whatever Death Eaters would come through this way. No one enters past me, so help me god. He knew that this was where he would die, but for the lives of his son and wife, and for all the young lives fighting desperately from the castle above, he would defend this breach to his last breath. Eight to one, he thought, eight to one. That was the number of young wizards the Order had gravely estimated that each Death Eater could kill before he was subdued by a more experienced wizard. Hit one, save eight.
The first stream of dark warriors poured into the dungeons, and Remus began to fire, deflecting his spells off of the metal tankards throughout the potions storeroom – the screaming and the confusion was intense – none of them knew where the attack was coming from, or how many were attacking them, which was how Remus had designed it. The smoke and dirt that filled the air aided him in his attack, and a half dozen dark wizards fell before his location was estimated, and the barrage began against him in return. Everything was noise and mayhem, and under the assault he was forced to pull himself from his hiding place as it was methodically destroyed. With each inch he dragged his body away from shelter, he anticipated the curse that would hit him in the back and end his life. But when he made his way behind a massive oak cabinet alive, he knew that they had retreated to regroup on less hostile territory. But voices were rising in the distance, and suddenly one rose above the rest.
“She went down there and she’s MINE! EVERYBODY MOVE!” Screeched a woman’s voice up above. She climbed down into the dungeon, managing to stay just out of Remus' sights. After a long silence, the woman taunted maniacally. “Come out little FREAK niece… where are you? Don’t you want Auntie to cleanse the bloodline?”
Bellatrix Lestrange’s signature cackle chilled Remus’ blood… her niece could only be one woman. No… please, don’t let it be true, don’t let Dora be here...
“Did you come down here looking for that THING you married?” She raved. “Your filthy werewolf is already dead, you bestial WHORE! I’m gonna let you join it in blood-traitor hell!”
One more step and Bellatrix would be in his sights. He took careful aim. Step this way, he willed the evil witch. Just a little more… But she was wisely headed away from him, away from the bodies of her fellow dark wizards, and towards the far end of the cavernous room, towards a stone archway that was still standing, but barely. He was ready to pull himself up to get a shot at her when suddenly, his wand zipped out of his hand. He gasped in helpless shock as Bella caught it, and laughed at him from across the room.
“I see you!” She screeched, waving at his reflection in the polished cauldrons hanging off of the ceiling above Remus’ hiding place. He cursed his carelessness and stupidity; she had likely known he was there all along. “Stand up wolfie. I want you to see me kill your wife for running around with FILTH!”
Suddenly Nymphadora stepped out from behind the crumbling arch and fired at Bellatrix’s back. Bellatrix sensed the spell just in time, deflected blindly, and then fired back – it was instantly a furious rain of lightning and destruction as the two women fought, each hellbent to destroy the other. Remus’ horror was replaced by panic as Bellatrix raced straight for him – he wrenched the cabinet at her and it smashed forward, knocking her to the ground. Dora sprang for Remus and cast a shield spell at him as Bella scrambled to dodge the onslaught of her deadly fire.
“Dora RUN!” He screamed, launching himself at the nearest shelf and hauling it to the ground, the contents exploding as they erupted and mixed. Bellatrix stumbled backwards again, blinded by flying glass and toxic fumes as Remus buried his face against the wall, his eyes burning. Suddenly, he was being dragged by the shirt, behind some casks, and he stopped flailing when Dora’s hand found his.
“I told you to stay home!” Was his tormented gasp as his sight slowly returned. She did not reply, but he knew, with all of his heart, that she needed to be here as much as he did. And he hated her for it.
And he loved her for it.
Bellatrix was shrieking in rage and fury, and a hail of death curses rained down upon them both. Dora defended valiantly, but they were cornered, and the walls were coming down. Barrels and casks exploded, the air was thick with smoke, and when the silence settled, only one woman remained standing.
She screeched in victory as she kicked apart the lifeless, embracing bodies of Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks. And as she riotously ran to rejoin the fight on behalf of her beloved Dark Lord, she did not see the slowly burning label upon the final cask to explode, the cask behind which Remus and Tonks had taken their final refuge; Drought of Living Death.
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