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Nature's Bounty by tiberiusirius
Chapter 16 : Round One
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 10


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Ryu didn’t know where she was going as she marched down the train corridor. All she was sure of was she wasn’t going anywhere near Sirius Black or her delusional friends.  Seriously! What the hell were they on about saying she was in love with Sirius? It was absolutely ludicrous! Its not like her weak knees couldn’t have been caused by something else, like perhaps the nervous energy she was harvesting! Yeah that was it! She was just nervous…

 

Before she knew it, Ryu found herself with no more train corridor to stalk down even though she wasn’t done sulking. “Can’t even walk off my frustrations,” She complained to herself childishly. “Stupid bloody short train.”

 

 Against her better judgment, and not knowing where else to escape to, she opened the door that led to the cabooses small exterior walkway. Stepping out into fresh air was just what she needed to calm herself down, and watching the train tracks retreat into the distance was a welcome distraction. If anything, it was far better than sitting in a suffocating cabin with her friends as they hogged all the oxygen with their hyena like cackling at her expense. But really, she was trying to forget about that.

 

 Inhaling a relaxing deep breath, and drowning in the lush countryside zooming past, she hunched herself over to rest her forearms on the railing and let her head hang limp as she tried not to become overwhelmed by everything that was happening.

 

What the hell did happen with Sirius back there?

 

 She could add that particularly puzzling question to the long list that she needed to find answers to and fast.

 

Was she going to be able to make the compound safe enough for the Meadowes and Sirius? Who was her father, and why had her mother left him? For that matter, who was her brother? Hell, what in Merlin’s name was she, and why was she a target to Voldemort because of it? What the bloody hell was she going to do with herself all summer?

 

When would Voldemort attack…

 

Ryu groaned and let her head fall into her hands. So many damned questions! Ever since she had thrown her lot in with the Wizarding world, she thought maybe she’d get some answers yet nobody here had any for her. They only seemed to raise more questions without even offering to help find answers! Dumbledore was particularly frustrating on that account.

 

 She had been able to push all the confusion to the back of her mind while she concentrated on schoolwork, but now school was over. All those suppressed questions were bubbling to the surface and she was afraid she was going to be drowned by them.

 

She knew virtually nothing about herself, or her past, and it left her feeling incomplete and pathetic because of it. Everything had really taken its toll on her, and this new development about her bewildering reaction to Sirius was enough to send her over the edge. Now even her friendships, which she thought was the one thing she did understand, had become confusing. Overwhelmed was an understatement for how she felt at that moment.

 

She tried taking a few deep breaths because she felt tears beginning to build up. She was struggling to control her emotions. Eventually she could battle herself no more, and feeling overcome by everything, she felt herself beginning to glow and her eyes begin to water. As the first tear fell, it was quickly followed by sobs of frustration.

 

“Calm down Ryu.” She told herself as she dejectedly ran her hands through her hair, taking deep breaths. “Everything’s going to alright. There’s no need to get worked up when it’s not going to solve anything.” She knew if she broke down now, she would be focusing on negatives, which would only lead to self-pity, weakness, and perhaps a broken spirit.  “Quit crying damn it.” She said challenging her ducts to let even one more tear fall. However before a second defiant tear had a chance to flow over her skin, confusion over took everything and she stumbled to the right as the train suddenly began to slow.

 

She caught herself from falling off the platform and onto the tracks, but just barely.

 

“What the bloody hell was that?” She asked herself gripping the railing, petrified that she had almost fallen. She looked around wildly trying to puzzle out what was going on. A million new questions were running through her head.

 

Why was the train stopping? Wasn’t the ride supposed to take like six hours? Why were they on a bridge? Does this usually happen? Was the train going to explode? What the bloody hell was going on?

 

The barrage of these new disturbing questions halted her defeatist sobs in their tracks. Immediately, she felt something was amiss. The hairs on the back of her neck were starting to stand on end. Something was off, and she intended to find out what. Magical trains just didn’t stop for any old reason.

 

She focused her vision on the gold of Magic seeking answers.

 

Staring off into the distance, from the back of the train, she could see black trails of smoke on the horizon making waves in the plane of Magic…they were headed straight for the her.

 

Her eyes widened in panic as she realized what was happening. This was Voldemort’s first strike.

 

Well, at least one of her questions was answered! Too bad it meant her nightmares coming to life…

 

Unsure of exactly what to do, her instincts took over and she reached out to gather what she could to make a solid magical barrier around the train. It took only an instant, and it startled her how fast she made it happen. Nonetheless, she managed to collect herself before she turned and went back inside. She needed to warn her friends.

 

 Ryu let herself use magic to map out the compartments and sought out Alton thinking he would be with his younger friends. Thankfully, she found him with Lily and the others at the opposite end of the train. Her first concern being keeping Alton hidden, she began to make her way towards them. For such a simple task it was much harder than it seemed.

 

The train corridor was flooded with panicked and confused students who were all looking for answers as to why the train had stopped.  They were hampering her progress towards her friends and she was getting fed up with it rapidly. She didn’t explode however, until she was stopped for the ninth time to she if she knew what was going on. She whipped around, ready to give who ever it was an earful, only to see a tall Ravenclaw Brunette, adorned with the Head-girls badge, standing in her way.

 

“The train is experiencing some technical difficulties at the moment, and as such, all students are required to stay in their cabins until a solution can be found.” She explained simply before trying to step around Ryu and continue on.

 

Ryu moved in sync with her, preventing her from leaving, and instead ushered her off to the side to speak with her in quiet, but rushed, tones. “Listen, what’s your name?” She asked quickly.

 

The girl looked annoyed. “Rachele Miele, Head-girl.” She said pointing to her badge.

 

 “Right…” Ryu smiled at her contritely. “…I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe that a Magical train can experience ‘technical difficulties’” She paused hoping the girl would catch on “….get my drift?” She asked.

 

 The girl was Head-girl for a reason, and upon listening to Ryu’s words her expression turned grave.

 

Ryu nodded, affirming the girls’ grim thoughts. “Now you’re catching on…” She told her. “If this is what I think it is, we need to take all precautions necessary. That means getting all these students locked in their cabins with the blinds shut, and quick. Tell them that if they know any protective spells, to cast them on the door, and make sure that those who don’t know any spells are in cabins with those that do. I don’t expect it will do anything but buy time, but it just might be enough. If you know any way of speeding this process up, do it. Time is precious at the moment. Once everyone is safe, come find me.”

 

The girl nodded her head, and seeing no point to an argument considering what was upon them, she immediately began showing her worth as she began shouting out orders, delegating tasks to older students, and explaining what needed to be done. Ryu, feeling somewhat relieved, turned back in the direction of where she could sense Alton and her friends and began to hastily head towards them.

 

She made it halfway down the length of the train, pushing and shoving the whole way, before she came across Amos who seemed to be seeking her out. “Bloody hell Ryu! Everyone’s looking for you! Do you know what’s going on?” He asked looking worried.

 

Ryu shook her head and walked past him, expecting him to fall in stride next to her, he did. “All I know is that something is headed straight towards us and it doesn’t feel right.” She stopped momentarily and looked around to make sure no one was eavesdropping before she met his eyes gravely. “I think this is his first attempt.”

 

Amos’s eyes went wide. She didn’t have to explain who ‘he’ was, or what he was going to ‘attempt’. He caught on right away and she could swear his steps began to sound more determined as he grabbed her hand and led them in the direction of their friends, pushing students out of the way like a human plow. “How do you know?” He asked as he dragged her behind him.

 

Ryu shook her head. “I really don’t. It’s more of a feeling…”

 

He looked back at her doubtfully, indicating skepticism, so she explained.

 

“Think about it Amos, has the train ever once come to a complete stop in your six years at Hogwarts?”  She asked.

 

He shook his head no, but continued their push down the train.

 

 Ryu continued to ask leading questions, “And how many large bridges are on the journey to and from Hogwarts?”

 

Amos looked like he was coming to understanding, and his pace suddenly began to slow until he came to a complete stop, and a grave realization. “Just one…”

 

“Exactly Amos!” She whispered harshly taking a step closer to him so no one could overhear their revelation. “What are the chances that if the train does stop, it stops on the only bridge along the way?” She paused letting the implications sink in. “Its strategy Amos. We could all evacuate the train but we’d have nowhere to go.”

 

“So you think they are going to collapse the bridge?” Amos asked worried as he once again took her hand and began to navigate the way for the both of them through the crowded corridor. They didn’t get far.

 

Ryu stopped in her tracks, and so did Amos once the tug on his own arm signified to him she had stopped. “Shite Amos, I never even thought about that! I thought they’d just use it as a way to trap us.” She was near panic.

 

Amos looked around worriedly, giving anyone who seemed to be curious about their conversation the evil eye. He grabbed Ryu by the shoulders and forced her to look him in the face. “Calm down Ryu, you don’t even know if it’s them for certain.”

 

Ryu looked at him levelly. “Amos it’s them.I was standing at the back of the train and I saw black trails in the plane of magic heading directly towards us. Its them Amo. I can feel it” She insisted.

 

Amos looked to be reasoning through some disturbing thoughts “If it is them, then you’re probably right, they won’t collapse the tracks. There are bound to be some Death Eaters on board, or at least some of their children, and I doubt they will just go and kill them along with everyone else. At least not until it’s the last resort. If it comes down to it though, I wouldn’t put it past them.”

 

Ryu looked even more frazzled than before. “We have to do something!” She yelled drawing attention to the both of them.

 

Amos quickly put a hand over her mouth, looking at her dangerously, before addressing the crowd now staring at them. “Nothing to see here folks, move along!” His tone and stature were enough to make people scramble. When it was once again safe to talk, he turned back to Ryu and removed his hand from her lips. “We will do something Ryu.” Said Amos once again tugging on her to move. “We’ll need the others to help though. Let’s get to them before we start freaking out.”

 

Ryu was too lost in thought to respond, although she did allow him to drag her through the throng of students blocking the way to their friends.

 

When they finally managed to reach the cabin and fling open the door, her friends all began to flood her with questions. She drowned them all out earning silence upon desperately yelling, “Where is Alton?”

 

When he stepped forward she bent down and embraced him, even though she knew he had been there the whole time. “Thank Merlin!”

 

The boy was confused “Umm, what’s the matter Ryu?”

 

Ryu let the boy go and stood up to face all her friends. She took a deep breath before telling them what was going on.

 

“Apparently, the bullshit starts today.” She paused to look around and see that they had all grasped her meaning. By the way their expressions hardened she could tell that they had, except maybe Alton who looked genuinely confused. “I don’t know what their plan is, but I’ve got the Head-Girl getting everyone locked in their compartments with protective charms before coming to come find me. I’ve already put a barrier around the train, but that will only last until they figure out how to unravel it. When that happens I want us to be ready. I—“ She was interrupted by a knock on the door and someone entering the now unbearably crowded compartment.

 

It was Rachele, she nodded at everyone in greeting then turned to Ryu as if she was an army private sent to give the general a status report. “Everyone’s locked in their compartments, and I’ve told them not to open the door unless they are given the password. It’s hobgoblin for those I recognized as Hufflepuffs, Ravenclaws, and Gryffindors, and for the Slytherin’s the password is dungeons.” She looked somewhat ashamed. “I thought that some Slytherin’s might have known about this and I didn’t want to give them access to the others.” She confessed somewhat ashamed.

 

Ryu nodded her approval. “Good thinking. You were right to take precaution. Still, there are bound to be Death Eaters in all of the houses.” She looked around at all her friends who were silent, but appeared pensive. “What the bloody hell are we going to do? Does anyone know anything about this train?” She asked all of them, looking at Rachele specifically.

 

Rachele shook her head sadly, luckily Lily was there offering wisdom.

 

“I know a little,” Lily piped up much more meekly than usual and shaking her head discouraged, “I’ve read about it, but everything was extremely vague. The only thing I’m sure of is, if the train stops unexpectedly, the Headmaster, whoever it is at the time, will know of it.” She paused and looked to be growing upset. “The thing is, I’m not sure if Dumbledore will be aware of where the train has stopped.“ She looked distraught. “There are hundreds of kilometers of track between Hogwarts and Kings Cross…The question will not be if the Order is going to come looking for us, but when they will get here…”

 

The silence was deafening for a moment until Amos spoke up. “Ryu, are you sure you saw what you did?”

 

All of them looked at her hopefully thinking maybe she had been mistaken.

 

Ryu gave him a sharp look. “Yes Amos. This isn’t exactly something I’d be joking about. Besides I’m positive now.” She looked at everyone in turn. “I can feel them probing my barrier.”

 

Everyone looked like they were becoming more worried by the second. She needed them calm.

 

 “Everything is going to be okay,” Ryu asserted “Its not like they’ve gotten past the barrier yet.” She hesitated trying to gather her thoughts and find a solution. “Alright, here’s what’s happening and what we know. We know they are at both ends of the train trying to blast their way in. So, while we still have time, I think it would be best if we tried to get everyone to the compartments in the center, and set up defenses at either end. If they are coming in, they’re coming in from front and back.” She was pacing now, trying to puzzle out a plan of action. “I need Dina, Rebecca, Peter, and Amos to take Alton, and help Rachele to re-herd all of the students into the center of the train, away from where we are going to have to fight. You guys are all of age, and once everyone is safely in the middle, I want you to try to Apparate kids out of here. Muggle-borns and Half-bloods first. I’m not sure if we can Apparate at all, let alone back and forth, so I don’t want to test it until you get as many people around you for side-long as you can. They may have set preventive charms in place and we can’t risk losing anyone who can Apparate to testing this unless they are taking students with them.” Her friends nodded, indicating they knew what they had to do. “You guys need to go now and be quick about it.” She told them attempting to hurry them along. Dina, Amos, Rebecca, and Peter were about to leave, but lingered when they saw Rachele made no move to follow them. Ryu noticed this too. “Rachele, you need to go with them.”

 

 The girl shook her head. “I’m not going. There are plenty of other seventh years who they can recruit to help Apparate kids to safety. Everyone on this train is my responsibility and I can’t take myself away from the fighting unless I know everyone else is safe. I may have graduated, but I’m Head-Girl until the minute I get to King’s Cross and I’m not going to abandon my duties now.”

 

Ryu wanted to hug the girl for what surely was a boost to everyone’s morale, but refrained from doing so and just nodded her head respectfully. “Alright, if you insist.” She turned to Amos getting on with what had to be done. “Amos, you take Peter and start at the front. Dina, you and Rebecca run and start the back. Get the students in the middle of the train and please hurry.”

 

They all nodded in understanding of what needed to be done and turned to go, but she stopped them momentarily.

 

 “One last thing, if Apparation doesn’t work—Merlin lets hope it does—three of you need to go to the defenses at the front of the train to help fight, and one of you has to stay and make sure everyone in the center stays calm. Put all the young kids in sealed cabins, including Alton.” She turned to give the boy a severe look knowing he would argue.  He snapped his mouth closed, halting the objections he was about to voice but didn’t refrain from expressing his disappointment through sulky pouting.

 

She had to ignore him for now to concentrate on what was going on, so she turned back to Dina and the others, “You guys will need to organize the older students so the upperclassmen are in two positions, one facing either end of the train. Tell them to be prepared in case we can’t hold off the attacks and our defenses fall. Hopefully, the Order will get here before that. If you find anyone willing to fight, send them to the front of the train. Understand?”

 

When they all nodded she shooed them out the door.

 

“GO!” She yelled. She watched Alton departing between Dina and Peter and felt her throat constricting. If he got hurt there was going to be hell to pay. She shook off her murderous thoughts as best she could, turning back to the rest of the them “Alright,” She began as she ran a hand through her hair frustratedly, not knowing how to go about this. “We are all going to be on the front lines, and I want you to remember this is serious shite. They aren’t going to take it easy on you, so don’t cut them any slack. I want Leeham, Sirius, James, Lily, Remus, and Rachele to go to the front of the train, and me and Jason will go to the back.”

 

Rachele looked shocked. Her eyes were bulging out of her head “J-Just two?” She stammered in disbelief. “That’s suicide!”

 

Ryu turned on her. “Listen, you have no idea what I‘m capable of, and besides that, I’m pretty sure the whole reason we are stopped is because the Death Eaters have come for me. That’s right me. I have half a mind to hold the end of the train by myself, however, I know my friends would never allow it.” She said rolling her eyes, and gesturing exasperatedly with her hands, expressing just how she felt about that.

 

Sirius, and surprisingly, Lily, both smiled at her sarcastically, pretty much telling her to deal with it.  She dismissed them with a small shake of her head, knowing debate was the last thing that needed to happen.

 

Ryu turned back to Rachele. “Jason and I will be just fine.”

 

Rachele still looked unsure, and was shaking her head, “Listen I’m Head Girl, and the best in my year at Defense, if anyone is going with you, it’s me. Jason can stay up front.”

 

Ryu looked angry, but wasn’t about to start a conflict at a time like this. “I would rather have your skills at the front protecting my friends, but this isn’t the time to argue. You can go wherever the fuck you like as long as you’re ready for a fight.” She was about done with this whole ‘leadership’ crap. She wasn’t cut out for it. “Now, does any one have any good ideas for fighting strategies, I can’t think of shite.” She was looking at the boys.

 

Remus shrugged his shoulders, “It’s going to come down to close combat dueling.” He was grasping at straws. “I wouldn’t advise anyone going it alone. We should stay in pairs.”

 

“That’s all you got?” Ryu asked her, nerves beginning to show. She wanted to rip all the hair out of her head.

 

Sirius reached out to put a comforting hand on her shoulder, but frowned when Ryu shied away from it looking at his hand as if it were a monster. Still, bringing his hand back down to his side, he said what he had been planning to, “We will be fine on this end. We’ll come up with something. You’ve done enough, worry about yourself. The only thing I can think of is, if you can manage it, once they have the barrier down, fall back and make a new one. I know they’ll just demolish it twice as fast, but even seconds could help. The Order is definitely on the way, so any time we can gain will be valuable.”

 

Ryu nodded and inhaled deeply looking around at all her friends. “Alright. I guess that’s all we’ve got by way of a plan.” She was praying they came up with something more and soon. She needed to get to the other side of the train, but before she left she felt obligated to go over some things. “Remember, if Apparation doesn’t work, Amos will be coming to you guys, so get him briefed quickly with whatever plan you come up with. I’ll do everything I can to keep them out for as long as I can. Let’s make sure they don’t get the chance to prey on Alton and the other kids.” She took a deep breath and managed a half smile hoping to reassure her friends even though it was really more for herself. They all inclined their heads, and Ryu returned the gesture before turning on her heel and heading to her post, Rachele in tow. “Be careful guys.” She said as she reluctantly left them to fend for themselves. She deliberately didn’t look back or say good-bye because she knew it would just foster her worrisome thoughts on their survival chances. She needed to be focused, and so she would have to trust their abilities.

 

 Walking down the length of the train, Ryu was pleased to see tons of empty cabins and the evidence of her friends progress in getting everyone as safe as was humanly possible in this situation. As she got closer and closer to the middle of the train, the crowds got thick, and was happy to see Dina and Rebecca herding people into cabins only to seal them in afterwards. She didn’t distract them from their duties, only patting them on the back as she passed earning tight-lipped smiles, and instead continued to the caboose with Rachele.

 

This time, instead of seeming too short, the train seemed endless. The fast paced walk, although in reality only minutes, felt like it was in slow motion and taking hours. And as they approached the last stretch, the black door that she had been standing outside of, fretting about her now seemingly miniscule problems, appeared rather threatening drawing closer and closer to it.  The tension was palpable, the door now representing a black hole of duty they could not forsake.  They let themselves get sucked into its gravitational pull.

 

Ryu paused less than a foot from the door as the seriousness of the situation sunk in. “Whatever happens, I want you to stay behind me.” She told Rachele without looking at her. Before the girl had a chance to respond, Ryu kicked the door outward and stepped onto the small walkway.

 

What she saw made her stomach drop.

 

Standing on the other side of her barrier was a crowd of hooded figures, faces veiled by the masks of Death Eaters. There were close to thirty of them at this end of the train alone, and she could she others standing off in the distance at the edge of the bridge.

 

Amos was right, they would collapse the bridge as a last resort.

 

All she could concentrate on was the thought that if her friends were facing a similar crowd at the opposite end of the train, they might all be in for some serious trouble. She really had to fight the sense of despair that was threatening to overwhelm her.

 

Was it possible to even win this fight? She knew she could take a few of them down easily, but while her attention was concentrated on those few, the others would surely take her distraction as the perfect time to strike. How was she going to manage this while still watching out for Rachele? How was she going to avoid death herself? She knew there was no sense dwelling on questions she wouldn’t be able to answer, so she pushed them to the back of her mind as best she could and prepared for the inevitable.

 

The minute she stepped out onto the back of the train, wands were instantly pointed in her direction and the crowd began to redouble their efforts to penetrate the barrier. None of it was working to break through, although they were helping to weaken the Magic’s bond. Still, looking at what she had created, Ryu knew that it would hold until they managed to find the exact right way to lightly penetrate the surface before exerting enough force to explode and shattering the entire thing.

 

 Most of the crowd was just firing miscellaneous spells towards it and were accomplishing nothing, but watching the crowd work, Ryu noticed two people who were smartly tweaking and adjusting spells based on how effective they were. Slowly, Ryu watched in horror as the magic of their spells came closer and closer to what was required to break down her barrier.

 

It did nothing for her confidence to know there were actually accomplished Wizards among her enemies ranks.

 

She did her best to stay as calm as possible but began drawing in as much magic as she was capable of. The gold took over her vision and she let it bath everything around her in a shimmering blanket. “Get ready,” She warned Rachele, “and stay close to me, they’ve about figured out how to get through.” Just a few more spell adjustments and their fragile barrier was finished, chaos was imminent.

 

She knew that it would be hopeless to create a secondary barrier, because it would just be brought down much more rapidly. But her optimistic side said maybe the Death Eaters at the other end wouldn’t figure out how to get through, so she created a secondary barrier protecting her friends at the other end of the train and the students in the middle. She only hoped it would hold once the original one gave out.

 

Shaken from her thoughts about the safety of her friends, Ryu noticed that the spells were no longer being directed at the barrier. In fact, most of the Death Eaters weren’t even looking at the barrier. Their attention was directed towards two of their own, who seemed to be speaking.

 

Instantly Ryu saw what was going on. “Shite.” She whispered.

 

Rachele heard her. “What’s wrong?” she asked before commenting, “It looks like they’ve given up. Isn’t that good?”

 

Ryu shook her head “Death Eaters don’t give up Rachele…stay ready.” She turned to Rachele, her frenzied eyes indicating the gravity of the situation, “They’ve figured out how to bring down my barrier, and are planning a simultaneous attack. They’re going to explode the barrier inwards, and while we are recovering from the impact of it they will strike together. You see those two?” She asked Rachele as she pointed towards the two Death Eaters that all the other cloaked figures seemed to be facing. Rachele nodded her head yes. “Those two are who we need to look out for. They were quick enough to puzzle out how to get past my work. All the others are oafs that can be beaten if we do this intelligently. We need to stagger our spell casting and not get separated. Hold your position as the barrier falls and don’t worry about the initial wave, I’ll take care of that. The minute you see an opening, take it and I’ll follow your lead. Don’t let up, and don’t show anyone your back but me. You have mine I’ll have yours, back to back. Got it?” Ryu finished trying to verify her partner knew the plan.

 

Rachele blinked her eyes a few times as she went over the plan, trying to absorb it, but she eventually nodded her head, looking resolute and helping to bring confidence to them both. With determined smiles for one another, they turned as one back towards what they knew they had to face.

 

They began to steel themselves for what was to come. Adrenaline immediately began to kick in once the hooded figures again turned to face them through the barrier.

 

~~~~~

 

Rebecca was quite frazzled as she herded everyone towards the center of the train whispering reassuring lies in their ears. She had no idea whether or not everything was going to be fine, or even if it would all end mildly okay. The only thing she was aware of was that they were trapped by Death Eaters, and she certainly wasn’t going to tell them that.

 

Her and Dina were working back to back, each taking one side of the corridor and knocking on cabin doors, giving passwords, and coaxing out frightened students. There was fear in everyone’s eyes, and as much as Rebecca and Dina tried to mask it, there was fear in theirs as well.

 

 The pace was vexingly slow because of the questions flying about, and the panic radiating through the atmosphere. The only thing that had gone right was being able to enlist the help of some fellow Gryffindors to get the task accomplished quicker.

 

Still, by the time everyone was gathered in the middle, they knew plan B had to go into effect. Apparition wouldn’t work. Several of-age Ravenclaws admitted to attempting it to no end.

 

Without thinking, Rebecca began gathering all the younger children and instructing them to get into the safety of nearby cabins, all while quickly reviewing basic defense spells with them. They all looked nervous, but she was amazed at the amount of courage they all showed. Instead of breaking down in tears, like normal eleven year olds, they absorbed her instructions, eyes wide with fear yet managing to leash it. There were no tears, just fearful nods of understanding. They knew the severity of the situation, and did as they were told.

 

Once everyone below fifth year was safe and in cabins, Peter and herself went around sealing all the doors as Amos explained to the rest of the students what was going on and what was required of them.

 

“The train has been ambushed.” He began. “Death Eaters are waiting to storm it…” He paused for a moment, letting reality sink in before giving them a glimmer of hope. “There is help on the way, but we don’t know when it’s going to get here. All of you are going to have to help if we are going to get through this…” He surveyed everyone in front him and was relieved to find many of them nodding. “We’ll need the majority of you to stay here and protect the younger kids, but we’ll accept any volunteers who are willing to help fight at the front of the train in case the Death Eaters do make it on.” Several students stepped forward including Otto, Frederick, Dewey, and Watson. Amos welcomed them all, acknowledging them with nods of respect. He turned back to those who chose to stay, “Anyone who stays here will be responsible for protecting these cabins and the lives within them if the Death Eaters manage to make it past our first defenses; Merlin help us they won’t. Those of us who volunteered to fight, we have to go now. Best of luck to all of you. I’m leaving Dina in charge and she will inform you further on strategy, so look to her for guidance.” Dina scoffed loudly, and appeared ready to commit a violent act towards him considering her outrage at what he had just assigned her. So before she started to object audibly to her new duties, he turned to her whispering so as to avoid being heard. “Dina, you have to stay here and make sure nothing goes wrong.”

 

Dina was shaking her head but had the sense to lean in and whisper her protests. “This is ridiculous Amos! They can take care of themselves! We need everyone we have up near the front to fight! I can’t let you guys go without me. You’ll need me!”

 

 She had a stubborn look on her face but it was no match for Amos’s stern expression. “Woman, what we need is a stable presence here in case anyone decides to help Voldemort’s cause…do you get my drift?” He said as he moved his eyes over to where groups of older Slytherin’s were lounging a little too nonchalantly. Dina followed his eyes and caught on though she still didn’t look thrilled. She pursed her lips unhappy as he continued to speak. “Out of the four of us, you are the best at Defense, and besides that, you have the most friends here. You’ve always been popular with everyone, not just Gryffindor’s. If anyone can control them, it’s you. I need you to stay here.”

 

Dina didn’t look thrilled, but she nodded her head sullenly in accord.

 

 Amos quickly wrapped his huge arms around her and swept her off her feet. “Take care of yourself.” He whispered before setting her down and turning off towards the front of the train waving Peter and Rebecca to follow.

 

Rebecca ushered all the volunteers who wished to help to follow Amos and Peter, but stopped briefly before going herself to give her best friend a hug. “I love you Dina, make sure this lot doesn’t get out of hand okay?” She told her friend.

 

Dina wore an expression Rebecca had never seen before. Her eyes were wet with moisture, and her chin was quivering slightly showing fear, but her jaw was set in a determined fashion. She nodded once to her friend and said “Make sure you don’t hurt yourself. Actually, on second thought, I know you’ll be fine. Make sure Amos doesn’t hurt himself, the big lummox.”

 

Rebecca couldn’t help the smile that erupted on her lips, and she was happy to see it reflected on Dina’s as well.

 

“Go.” Dina said forlornly the smile fading slightly. “They need all the help they can get. We’ll be fine here.”

 

Rebecca nodded and backed away from her friend before giving one last little wave and turning to begin sprinting down the corridor to catch up with everyone.

 

Remus was the first person she caught up with, and he didn’t look happy to see her.

 

His expression was concerned and he kept glancing back towards the doorway down the corridor that led to the outside where the Death Eaters were surely fighting to get in. He took Rebecca by the forearm and tried to lead her back towards the center of the train. “You shouldn’t be here Rebecca, they’re close to getting in. You need to go back and help Dina.”

 

Rebecca pulled her arm free of his grip frowning. “Remus, Dina has everything under control. I’m right where I need to be, this is where I am needed.” His doubtful and concerned expression caused her to roll her eyes. “Your concern is endearing, really, but I would stand in this fight alone if I had to. I’m here and I’m staying and you’ll have to drag me away if you think I’m not going help.”

 

Remus shook his head sadly with a sort of sarcastic smile on his face. “I really wish you hadn’t said that but I am glad you did.” He sighed and began moving towards the group of students that he had previously been trying to steer her away from. “If you’re going to help, I guess you need to be filled in with the rest of them.” He took her by the hand, and she beamed, allowing him to guide her into the circle where Sirius was speaking and going over plans. “Come on, lets get you informed.” She walked in on the middle of his speech.

 

“—in groups, you understand? Everyone needs to be in pairs of two at least. Our plan is to herd them like sheep to where we want them, which, in all honestly shouldn’t be too hard. The lot they’ve brought to this end of the train isn’t the brightest of the bunch. They’ve been firing the same spells at the barrier with little effect, and haven’t changed their strategy yet. We are banking on the fact that they are bound to be frustrated, and that when the barrier does fall, they’ll stampede. What we aim to do is trap them between two groups of us, and engage from front and back. We’ll have a large group stationed in pairs around cabins twelve through seventeen. Their job will be to stop the Death Eaters progress down the train. The second group will be right up near the front, in cabins one and two. Their job will be to hide Disillusioned until the Death Eaters go past, and then pop out to flank them and attack from behind. The flanking group will have to be smaller because they’ll need to hide on the luggage racks in case the Death Eaters look to make sure the cabins are empty. The luggage racks aren’t the biggest so I’d say I it should only be around five of us, but they’ll need to be the best of us. Lily, James, Remus, myself and….” Sirius paused to look through the crowd, “well Dina’s not here, so we’ll need one other volunteer. Whose the fifth volunteer?” he asked the group.

 

Rebecca immediately raised her hand, and even though Remus was quick to grab her arm and put it back against her side looking angry, Sirius was already clapping her on the back.

 

“You’re a good man Rebecca.” He said looking at her so pleased that she didn’t have the heart to remind him she was a woman.  She really didn’t have the time to either, because he went right back to explaining preparations while Remus sent death glares back and forth between the both of them as if they had conspired. She disregarded Remus, choosing instead to listen to Sirius’s words.

 

 “We suspect they might try to take refuge in the cabins between our attacking groups, so we’ve gone ahead and jinxed those cabins. I repeat, stay away from cabins three through eleven unless you plan on pecking Death Eaters to death with an oversized canary beak. One more time, stay away from cabins three through eleven.” He paused to let it all sink in, and when no one asked questions he gave more orders. “Okay, Amos is going to lead the initial group, and James and I’ll will lead the flanking group. Amos you guys need to give them a handful so they don’t notice us coming from behind. Give them reason to try and hide in the cabins we’ve jinxed. This will work out. We might not be experienced, but they won’t expect us to be organized.” He turned to James. “Did I forget anything Prongs?”

 

“Think that about covers it mate.” Said James nodding his head solemnly.

 

 “Alright.” Sirius said as he began rubbing his hands together frighteningly pleased. “Places everyone. Let’s do this.”

 

Rebecca tried to walk over to Lily and give her friend a quick hug, but she was jerked back around roughly, only to come face to face with an upset Remus. Once she was facing him, he grabbed her by the hand and marched her into cabin number two where he helped her get up onto the luggage rack, all the while lecturing her like a child. “What were you thinking volunteering to be a part of the flanking group? How reckless can you be just throwing yourself into harms way like an irrational imbecile!”

 

She paused midway into getting onto the luggage rack and turned around to look at him as if he had gone mad. “You are such a hypocrite! I’m being just as reckless as your irrational self apparently!” She scoffed.

 

He tried giving her a level look. “Don’t make this about me! We’re talking about you!” He took a breath and cast the disillusionment charm over the both of them before hoisting himself up onto the rack in one fluid motion. “I asked you to go help Dina, but noooooo of course you don’t listen to me!” Rebecca was looking at him like he had grown horns as he continued. “And then you just had to go and throw yourself into the most precarious position you could find, didn’t you? How am I supposed to fight when all I’m going to do is worry about you?  You shouldn’t have to be a part of this at all! None of us should, but least of all you! Why couldn’t you just stay out of it, or at least take a safe job! Merlin are you trying to be frustrating?” He finished with a question, worked up and breathing hard.

 

Rebecca was shaking her head, a ghost of a smile on her lips now that his rant had come to a close. “Wow…”

 

Remus was becoming exasperated. “Why the hell are you bloody smiling! This isn’t a happy situation woman!”

 

Rebecca paid no attention to his confusion. “I can’t believe I haven’t seen it until now!” She proclaimed disbelievingly as she desperately tried to make out the disillusioned boy in front of her.

 

Remus, if she could have seen his expression, looked utterly confused. “Wait…what?”

 

She chuckled at his bewilderment before simply, and nonchalantly, asking. “Remus, are you in love with me?”

 

Whatever he had been expecting, it surely wasn’t that. “Wh—Excuse me?” He said still not able to grasp the question she had just asked. Where had that come from!

 

 “Why else would you care if I throw myself in harms way?” Rebecca chortled at his speechlessness.

 

Remus tried to play it off like he didn’t know what she was speaking of. “Yes—well...we are friends, so of course I care about your well-being! “ he gushed out quickly and uncomfortably.

 

Rebecca laughed at his awkwardness and began seeking out his hand. Once she found it, she cradled it gently between both of hers and he let her, still shocked and not knowing what to expect. Still, whatever he expected, it certainly wasn’t what happened.

 

Rebecca, continually smiling, said, “It’s okay Remus…I think I’m in love with you too.”

 

He had been waiting to hear those words so long, that it didn’t matter he first heard them while hiding on a luggage rack, Disillusioned, and waiting for Death Eaters to attack. He was beyond ecstatic.

 

Removing his hands from her own, he grabbed what he thought was her cheek and was pleased when he felt her lips crash down on his own. He thought he could feel the earth moving underneath him, but when she broke apart and began to look around frantically he realized it was actually the train shuddering. “What the bloody hell was that?” He asked voice barely above a whisper.

 

Rebecca shook her head, indicating she didn’t know, even though she knew he probably couldn’t see the gesture. “I don’t know but it definitely can’t be good.”

 

Remus could hear the nervousness in her voice and placed a soothing hand on what he thought was her shoulder. “Its okay. Everything will be okay. Ryu can handle it.”

 

The words brought her some little relief, but as the train continued to rumble, and the muffled sounds of yells could be heard from the other end, she began to grow antsy and doubt began to bloom in her mind. “Something’s wrong Remus. What if they aren’t planning to attack from this end and we’ve left Ryu and Rachele out to dry.” She asked him, her mind running away from her with worry. “Something isn’t right. We should go hel—“ Right as she was about to move her leg to get off the luggage rack and run to the rescue, another large explosion, only bigger and closer, shook the cabin and successfully tossed her to the ground causing her to hit the back of her head on the edge of one of the benches. Groaning, she sat up straight clutching the back of her head.

 

The cabin was suddenly spinning and she could feel something wet dripping down the back of her neck. Just as she was about to call out to Remus, her breath caught in her throat and she noticed the cabins latch opening slowly.

 

She felt her entire body become paralyzed with fear as the door was thrown open to reveal a menacing robed figure whose face was hidden behind the mask of a Death Eater. Inside she was screaming but she managed to hold it in, just barely. The eyes inside the mask took in the empty cabin, but came to rest upon her disillusioned figure trying to puzzle out if they were really seeing what they thought they were.

 

She braced herself for the inevitable discovery as she noticed the figures eyes narrow and saw their feet begin to step further into the cabin, wand outstretched towards her. Her heart jumped in her throat and she pressed her back flush against the window wall of the cabin cursing herself for falling off the rack. She was going to ruin all of their planning with her stupidity. She had no more room to breathe and was one short step away from being a bug smashed under the shoe of a Death Eater.

 

Trying to steel herself to attack if it became necessary, Rebecca lifted her wand just as a ruckus broke out in the Hallway. Her attention, and the attention of the figure looming uncomfortably close to her, turned to the address the yelling, and oddly enough bird chirping, that was going on outside. Rebecca was none to relieved to see the figure dart out into the mess looking thrilled at the prospect of a duel. She closed her eyes and collapsed, letting her tense body go limp, feeling exhausted though she had done nothing but cower.

 

The whole ordeal left her feeling like she might faint from lack of oxygen, so before even attempting to get to her feet, she slowly let herself breath in a sigh of relief. Thank god Amos initiated attack just at that moment. All their carefully laid plans would have been ruined in her stupid attempt to get off the damn luggage rack had he not. She would have to praise his timing later, she needed to pull herself together if she was going to be of any use in the minutes to come. She found herself hoping that these goons really were as stupid as Sirius thought.

 

The moment she felt Remus’s hand groping for her, she instantly got herself to her feet and wrapped her arms around him savoring his touch. “That was too close.” she murmured softly pressing herself against him. “I’m so sorry.”

 

Hearing Remus’s gorgeous voice brought a sense of calm to her. “I wouldn’t have let them hurt you. He would have been unconscious had he moved an inch more. The only thing that stopped me was the need to remain hidden and follow the plan” He held her at arms length trying to make out her features. “You’re trembling. Are you hurt.” He said looking concerned but still disillusioned.

 

Rebecca gulped and shook her head trying to rid herself of the nerves she was feeling. “I’m fine, just shaken up.” There was no way she was going to tell him her head was bleeding.  She ran a hand over her face. “When is it our turn?”

 

“Once we hear three knocks we use the counter charm to take off the Disillusionment and join Sirius, James, and Lily. The plan is to disarm as many as we can in our initial attack.”

 

Rebecca nodded and felt her grip on her wand tighten resolutely. “Right. I’m ready.”

 

“Good.” Said Remus stepping around her and to the door, ”You’re going to need to be.”

 

It felt like they were waiting for the signal for a lifetime, but in reality it was only about a minute and a half before they heard three light knocks on the door.

 

Remus breathed in a calming breath. “Here we go.” He muttered before whispering the counter spell that lifted the Disillusionment charm. He took a deep breath and grabbed her hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. “Stay close to me.”

 

Slowly, so as not to attract extra attention by making unnecessary noise, he slid open the door and stepped out into the corridor and chaos.

 

Ahead of him, though all he could see were the backs of cloaked figures and a few canaries flying about, spells were being hurled about chaotically.

 

Now it was their turn to join the fray.

 

Looking to James and receiving a nod, they all extended their wands forward and simultaneously loosed disarming spells in a loud harmony of “Expelliarmus”, that took the Death Eaters by surprise and left five of them Wandless.

 

Retaliation came flying their way as one line of Death Eaters turned about, after hearing their comrades fall, and began hurling curses rapidly in their direction. James and Sirius each managed to down two more by way of hastily cast Body-Bind curses, before they both were forced to dive back into their cabin, or else be at the mercy of Unforgiveables.

 

Lily was a force in her own right as she continually managed to deflect spells using Protego, and fire several others seemingly all at once. Unfortunately the Death Eaters quickly singled her out as a primary target, and she had to press herself flat against the wall in order to only narrowly avoid a Crutacius curse.  After watching that, James had Lily by the wrist and was yanking her into safety, which, conveniently, landed her in his lap. For once she was grateful for her precarious position on top of him.

 

Remus and Rebecca also had to retreat into the cabin they had previously occupied after a large array of curses were flung in their direction. One even managed to take out a good chunk of the cabin wall, and pieces of it, turning into shrapnel, were now embedded in Remus’s back from where he had used himself to protect Rebecca.

 

He didn’t let the pain show, and was up in an instant sticking his head out of the cabin, trying to retaliate but finding himself unsuccessful because of lack of opportunity. Every time his head peeked out into the hallway, he had to throw himself back inside to get out of harms way. His frustration was becoming apparent with every renewed curse issued from his mouth. “Fuck Me!” He yelled punching the wall and running his hands frustrated through his neat hair, trying to think of what could be done.  “They’ve got two guys just standing there making sure we can’t get out! We have to do something or else Amos is going to be overwhelmed” After a minute of silence and contemplation he turned to Rebecca. “Do you trust me?” he asked her

 

She looked at him dubiously, unsure of what was about to happen, but nonetheless nodded her head indicating that she did.

 

“Good.” He said grabbing her by both shoulders and looking her levelly in the eyes. “It’s going to be risky, but I need you to run to the other cabin, and draw their fire so I have an opportunity to get at them.”  

 

Rebecca blinked, once again paralyzed with fear, but agreed to it all the same. She wasn’t about to sit around idly until the Death Eaters got the upper hand, so she’d have to act as bait. “Yeah.” She sounded more breathless than she wished so she tried to muster up some tenacity for the both of them, “Of course I’ll do it. You bloody well better take them out though Remus. I don’t want to be doing this for nothing.” She said feistily.    

 

Remus smirked “Of course love.” He placed a small kiss on her forehead and turned them both towards the corridor. He looked down at her, “Okay, on the count of three.” He waited until she nodded her head and readied herself in an appropriate position before he began his count. “One, two, three!”

 

The corridor wasn’t large by any means, but the three steps that it took to cross it felt more like she was leaping between skyscrapers. She had her head turned toward where she could see the enemy falling into their trap by aiming at her, but as she closed her eyes waiting for unconsciousness to come, it never did.   She was relieved to feel herself hit the ground in the safety of another cabin, but worry filled her head as she sat up wondering whether Remus was okay.

 

Looking back across the hallway she saw Remus leaning into the danger zone firing spells relentlessly while deflecting and ducking others. Relief flooded into her, just as fast as anger. He was okay, but how dare those bastards try to harm him! She joined the fray and was pleased to see that her first shot landed true as a Death Eater fell unconscious.

 

Feeling more confident after her first success, she leaned out into the corridor another stunning charm on her lips. She was just in time to see a the purple light of a Crutacius literally stop inches in front of her faces.

 

Wide eyed and breathing hard she stared as the curse hung suspended in the air in front of her, unmoving, until something unseen began tugging it in the opposite direction, slowly at fist, and then much more rapidly. Bewildered by the disappearing curse, but still in battle mode, she decided not to question her luck and to continue her assault. With renewed vigor she yelled “Stupefy!” aiming at the distracted Death Eater that had just tried to injure her. Nothing happened. Nothing issued from her wand.

 

Confused, and angry and panicked, she stood up inspecting her wand only to find nothing wrong with it. This was all too much.  “What the bloody hell is going on?” She yelled still trying to conjure a spell as she swished and flicked her wand over and over again. “Why isn’t my magic working?”

 

She expected Remus to answer, but what she heard was definitely the voice of Sirius. “You too ehh? Can you tell if it’s affecting the Death Eaters too?”

 

Rebecca peeked her head out the doorway and was relieved to see hooded figures making some frustrated gestures as well as they to tried to conjure magic unsuccessfully. “Yea, it actually looks like it is!” She said shocked.

 

“Brilliant.” Was the exclamation she heard before she saw both Sirius and James sprint out of their compartment headed towards the stunned Death Eaters.

 

Neither had their wands, and Rebecca was honestly wondering what was going to happen when she saw Remus dart after his two best friends. She was about to protest, but she choked on her words as she watched Sirius tackle the first one resorting to Muggle fighting as he slammed a fist, undaunted by the mask, straight into the figures jaw.

 

Brawl!” she heard James, Sirius, and Remus scream in unison right before she thought she saw Amos’s hulking figure join the fray.

 

She watched speechless as her friends dominated the Death Eaters, who didn’t seem to know how to fight except behind the safety of magic. They were helpless in the face of physical threat.

 

 If she thought there was chaos before, it was like seeing the end of world right then. The whole corridor had erupted into a scene seemingly out of one of those Kung-Fu movies Sonny was always raving about. In fact, she thought she saw a glimpse of Sonny trying out some of the moves she recognized from the movies.

 

She only became distracted from the awe-inspiring display of strength when she began to see the very air around her begin to fragment.

 

Considering the weird turn of events, and magic somehow disappearing altogether, she knew she could attribute it all to Ryu. She began to think something was wrong with her friend.

 

She was sprinting towards the caboose in a frenzied daze and pushing past her puzzled friends who were trying to question and stop her. Remus caught her around the waist and pulled her to him looking into her frantic eyes with his brown worried ones. ”Rebecca! Rebecca!” He had to scream at her to grab her attention even though she was only inches away from him. She wouldn’t look at him, her eyes were fixated on the back of the train. “What is wrong with you woman?” He yelled as he struggled to keep her still.

 

Rebecca tore her eyes away from the rear of the train, stopping her struggling only momentarily to look Remus in the eyes. “Remus, Magic has stopped working!... Ryu’s in trouble!”

 

Rebecca hadn’t realized any of the others were paying attention to her words. But once she saw Sirius take off running towards the end of the train, she looked around her to see all the Death Eaters had been subdued and restrained, their wands confiscated.

 

Remus looked to James, who in turn looked to Otto issuing directions. “Otto, you and your group make sure everything is under control here. We’re going to go help Ryu. If anything happens, and they give you trouble, set this off and we’ll be here in an instant.” He handed Otto what appeared to be a wet-start firework before he, along with Lily, Remus, Rebecca, and Sonny, were off running down the length of the still rumbling train to the aid of their friend.

 

~~~~~~~~~

 

Ryu stood facing the still standing barrier, mustering up all the gall she could to prepare for what must be done.

 

Not one of those bastards were going to set foot on this train.

 

Some thirty Death Eaters were now facing herself and Rachele, looking uncomfortably smug as they prepared for assault. In unison they all lifted their wands training them on Ryu, seemingly disregarding the girl next to her.

 

When she finally saw the jet of light that she knew would work to penetrate her shield, she braced herself for the backlash of it and called out to Rachele in warning. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to prepare the Head Girl.

 

The spell hit the barrier and Ryu watched as it splintered and began to cave under pressure. Once she realized the intent of the magic, she tackled Rachele to the ground and flattened herself over the Head-girl to protect her.

 

The barrier exploded inward with enough force to knock a person unconscious, and she had only enough time to conjure a large mirror to reflect the first wave of spells back at the Death Eaters in order to save them both.

 

Rachele was slow in getting up, blinking her eyes as she tried to clear her head and realize once again exactly where she was. Ryu was screaming at her to move, all the while deflecting the bombardment of spells that was directed towards them. It took a minute, but she got Rachele to her feet, although the girl still seemed shell shocked by the explosion.  “Stay with me!” She yelled as she boldly stalked towards the now blown out back end of the train, dragging Rachele behind her. She was hoping to move away from the Hogwarts Express where they would surely aim to corral and trap them eventually. It was a risky move considering the dust from the blast was creating quite an ominous cloud, which prevented vision of the enemy, but the risk was slightly diminished knowing Ryu could see everything using Magic.  

 

As she soaked in the golden hue blanketing the world, she noticed the Death Eaters were using the dust cover to try and encircle and trap them. She knew it would happen eventually, but she didn’t count on it happening so quickly. She had to inform Rachele.

 

“They are trying to surround us Rachele.”

 

The response she got was a bit more panicked than she would have liked “What is the plan?” The head girl asked in a fearful voice.

 

Ryu needed to reassure her. “I don’t want us to get spilt up, so don’t make a break for it. I want you to keep your back to mine, and lace one arm with me so we’ll be connected. If one of us ducks both of us will have to. If you feel like you’re overwhelmed and can’t take your side, spin and we’ll switch. Got it?”  She asked Rachele quickly. The girl nodded, but Ryu could tell she hadn’t fully recovered after the astonishingly loud blast. She was still in a state of shock. Unfortunately, there was nothing Ryu could do about it now except try and keep her safe. She turned her back to the girl and hooked arms with her. “I’m going to blow this smoke away, and hopefully some Death Eaters while I’m at it, so brace yourself but attack when you’re ready.”

 

“Alright.” She heard Rachele’s grave voice. “Let’s get this over with.”

 

Ryu took a large breath readying herself, then concentrating, created a huge gust of wind that did in fact carry all the dust away along with two cloaked figures. It was so windy for a moment that everyone had to concentrate on staying on the bridge rather than attacking each other, but the minute it stopped all hell broke loose.

 

Duck!” she yelled as she squatted to the ground dodging the green light of a killing curse as she yanked Rachele down with her by their interlocked arms. Ryu extended her wand and let loose a stunning charm that took out three of them while she heard Rachele frantically yelling everything from body binding curses, to disarming spells.

 

“It’s getting kindda hairy over here Ryu!” voiced a nervous Rachele.

 

Ryu didn’t waste a second. “Spin!” she ordered. Smoothly, they shifted positions and Ryu came face to face with the five Death Eaters Rachele had been managing to hold off. “Incarcerous!” She yelled as huge links of changes shot seemingly out of nowhere to wind themselves around the Death Eaters and almost suffocate them. “Spin!” she yelled again after she had successfully neutralized that side.     

 

They were working like a well-oiled machine. Every time Rachele felt like she was getting overwhelmed, she would let Ryu know and they would switch places allowing Ryu to clear out several of them before leaving Rachele to defend that side again. It looked to be going good at first, but they quickly noticed the others from the end of the bridge coming in to reinforce their friends.

 

“Ryu there’s more of them coming!” Rachele yelled over the chaos of it all after sending a Confounding charm in the direction of a Death Eater who easily deflected it.

 

“Just keep up what we’re doing. Don’t worry about them. The Order will be here soon.” Or at least she hoped they would. If Rachele got separated from her she was doomed. “Just stay with me Rachele, we’re doing good. Shite duck!” They both narrowly missed a particularly menacing looking Crutacius curse but were on their feet in an instant, firing once again.

 

It was becoming more and more exhausting as time went on, and Ryu couldn’t help but wonder how her friends were making out at the other end. She felt her secondary barrier shatter awhile ago and heard the explosion. It left her wondering anxiously how her friends were managing. She hoped they were doing better than herself.

 

 Ryu was doing all she could just to dodge spells, and knew it was only a matter of time before the Death Eaters changed their strategy. Ryu just hoped she was engaging them enough that they didn’t have time to think about it. However, when the reinforcements finally arrived, Ryu noticed the two Death Eaters who had been successful at puzzling out her barrier stepping away from the chaos to assess things. She knew this was not a good development.

 

“Shite.” She said “Damn it! Rachele take out as many as you can right now, I don’t care what you use to do it. Just make sure they stay down, and that it can’t be reversed! Be ready for anything and watch out for those two that I pointed out earlier.”

 

Ryu never heard Rachele respond to her. All she could hear was a long string of spells being issued from the girl’s mouth, and she wouldn’t have stopped that for anything.

 

Out of the corner of her eye she noticed the two men once again entering the fray, each from an opposite side. She kept her eye on them. “Ones coming around to you.” Ryu yelled warning Rachele. “They are going to try and split us up. What ever they try…don’t let them. ”

 

“I’ll try.” Was the quick response that she received in between her friend’s hexes.

 

For a moment, it didn’t look like the two Death Eaters were going to try anything sneaky, but when she saw the spell leave the first ones wand, and looked to see the other producing the same, she knew they were in trouble. Luckily Rachele knew the incantation of the Blasting Curse and was able to jump out of the way just as Ryu went to tackle her to the ground.

 

They managed to escape unscathed from the mess of rubble that shot up around them where the spells had landed fracturing the bridge. Unfortunately, the minute they hit the ground they heard another chorus of “Confringo” and had to scramble away from each other to avoid what certainly would have incinerated them.

 

Ryu recognized her mistake the minute she looked behind her to see Rachele yards away, the back of her head bleeding where shrapnel from the second blast had manage to strike her.  

 

Panicking, Ryu had her wand trained on one of the two intelligent Death Eaters from her place on the ground, and returned his Blasting curse with one of her own. Still, the sick smile she could just see hidden under the shadow of his mask as he watched her spell speed towards him, was enough to tell her that she was too late, and that their plan had worked.

 

She whipped around to try and aid Rachele just in time to see the other Death Eater loose a green jet of light toward the beaten down shape of her friend who was just beginning to try and stand.  Rachele, wide eyed and scared, watched as the unstoppable gleam of light traveled towards her and stole her life in an instant.

 

Ryu couldn’t hear herself screaming, but she knew she was.

 

The moment she saw Rachele crumple to the ground in a lifeless heap, she lost all concept of what was going on around her. She was on her feet in the blink of an eye and was scrambling over the rubble to the motionless body of Rachele.

 

Nothing around her mattered. She tuned everything out, even the thought of dying, as she fell to her knees, spirit shattered and tears streaming down her face. The girl who had so bravely proclaimed she wouldn’t let Ryu fight alone and had fought valiantly, was now lying dead in front of her.

 

This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. Good never lost in the stories! Where the hell was The Order? Why did these men seek to destroy life? How had they managed to let hate blind them?

 

In that moment, all she could feel was a despair that was spiraling out of control and threatening over take her. Instinctually and involuntarily, she began to draw in as much magic as she could from her surroundings. So much in fact that she was beginning to tremble from the power of it all.

 

She let her tears fall, separating herself from the battle going on and unable to come back to reality. She knew that her enemies hadn’t left, but she couldn’t bring herself to care. She was over taken by grief and had no control of her body except to continue drawing in magic.

 

She sensed a shadow standing over her, and knew it was a Death Eater coming to claim her life.

 

She couldn’t move, just continued to draw in Magic.

 

The robed figure, bathing her in his shadow, leaned down and placed a finger under her chin, forcing her neck to extend towards him.

 

She could control nothing, not even her own body, just the flow of Magic.

 

The figure used one hand to force her to meet his eyes, and drew his wand alongside his cheek, happily directing it at Ryu.

 

He was saying words, but Ryu could hear nothing but the rush of magic being drawn into her. She wasn’t just trembling now, she was quaking as she held all the magic within her. Still, she managed to give the fellow a contemptuous glare as she saw him begin to mouth the words that had taken Rachele’s life.

 

Death was a welcome thought.

 

It never came.

 

Both Ryu and the Death Eater waited for the green light, and when nothing happened, they were both confused.

 

The Death Eater let go of Ryu’s chin to inspect his wand, and without his hand holding her up, she fell over onto her side where she couldn’t move but continued to draw in Magic.

 

She couldn’t see what was going on, but soon she felt a dead weight land on her legs and tweak her knees painfully. She couldn’t move her body to get out from under the weight, but she felt someone else rolling it off of her.

 

When the familiar face of Albus Dumbledore finally came into view he looked worried. His mouth was moving quite quickly, but she couldn’t hear anything he was saying, nor did she want to.

 

She was numb with pain, Magic was the only thing she could feel and she could feel it in every inch of her. Her eyes were beginning to glaze over.

 

Dumbledore was yelling now, she could tell by the frantic look in his eye and the way he was shaking her already convulsing body.  She even saw his hand come up and slap her across the face in an attempt to get a response which didn’t work. Dumbledore was truly worried, and in the back of her mind she was beginning to register that something was seriously wrong. Trying to shake herself out of her stupor wasn’t working though, she was trapped in the continuation of Magic being drawn into her.

 

Suddenly, Dumbledore was no longer in her view and he was pushed out of the way.

All she could see were the long, unruly dark locks of Sirius Black as he looked down on her, panic and sorrow dominant in his wide grey eyes. She felt his arms pull her into his lap and felt one hand come to stroke her face. The minute his flesh touched her own, the magic began ebb out of her, and she gasped as control of her body was given back to her mind. She felt herself go limp in complete surrender and exhaustion.

 

She collapsed, in taking a huge breathe only to emit sobs and let her tears, rather than magic, express the grief she felt due to Rachele’s death. Sirius embraced her stroking her hair letting his warmth radiate through her. It felt like nothing she had ever experienced and she would have cherished it for it uniqueness had she not been overcome by other emotion. Right now she needed to mourn. Rachele was dead and it was all her fault.

 

“Are you okay?” Sirius whispered after several minutes of silence.

 

Ryu just nodded yes, not exactly prepared to talk.

 

He held her at arms length and made her look into his eyes “What did you do back there? No Magic would work at all. All the Aurors still look really nervous. I just saw Dumbledore deck a man for Merlin’s sake! ”

 

Ryu shook Sirius off of her feeling affronted by all the questions. “I don’t give a fuck about the god damn Aurors, or about Dumbledore resorting to physical violence, Sirius. Where did they take Rachele?” She asked shakily getting to her feet.

 

A desolate expression overtook his features as he too stood, recognizing she wasn’t very steady and ready to support her. “There’s nothing you can do for her—“ He tried gently.

 

Ryu closed her eyes attempting to hold back the wave of tears threatening to fall. “Where is she Sirius?” She demanded stoically eyes closed.

 

Sirius looked beaten “They’ve taken her body away, Ryu. Even you can’t bring her back to life.” He answered sadly.

 

Ryu pushed past him dismissively, and marched up to where Dumbledore was talking to what looked to be some Aurors. She stepped in between him and the other Wizards, rudely disdaining their existence. “Take me to Rachele. I need to try and fix her.” She demanded.

 

Dumbledore looked down on her his normally twinkling blues eyes soft and full of sorrow. “There is nothing you or anyone else can do for her now, Ryu. I’m afraid I can’t tell you where they’ve taken her.”

 

Ryu, forehead scrunched up and unable to accept the events that had just come to pass, pushed Dumbledore as if it were his fault. “What do you mean you can’t tell me!”

 

He did nothing but look down upon her sadly, he seemed distraught seeing her in this condition.

 

She pushed him again looking angrier, but this time he caught her wrists in his hands.

 

“Where have they taken her!” She demanded shrieking as she pushed him again struggling weakly to get her wrists out of his grip.

 

The Aurors looked as if they were about to step in, but Dumbledore gave them a look.

 

Ryu was still struggling, in her weakened state, to get out of Dumbledore’s grip and force him to tell her what she wanted. In the midst of it all frustration mounted and she broke down in tears once again. “Where have they taken her…” She pushed him half heartedly one more time, but collapsed against him overcome by emotion. Dumbledore held her as she continued to grieve, “I should have done more…why couldn’t it have been me, all they wanted was me.” She sobbed.

 

Dumbledore offered no comforts, instead choosing to let her get it all out of her system. She cried in his arms for only a few minutes before stumbling away from him delirious, and walking herself off of the precarious bridge to take refuge under a nearby tree.

 

She could feel herself being followed, but gave it no heed in her debilitated condition. Her whole body felt like rubber, almost as if she had been burned on the inside from all the Magic. 

 

What had happened back there anyway?

 

She knew she had been drawing in more Magic than most Wizards would hope to call upon in a lifetime, but why? It hadn’t been something that had consciously happened, it had been something she only became aware of after it had started, and she was helpless to stop it of her own accord. Nothing was making sense.

 

She felt bodies taking seats around her and realized her eyes were closed. She opened them to see her friends congregated around her looking worse for the wear themselves.

 

Sonny was sporting a long laceration across her forehead, and Rebecca seemed to have suffered a head injury as well considering, from the way she was sitting, Ryu could make out dried blood staining the back of her shirt.

 

Lily looked relatively physically unscathed, except for the left side of her hair, which seemed to have a good bit singed off. On the other hand, the boys all seemed to be sporting numerous bruises and small cuts, and Peter, James, and Amos all had fat lips as well.

 

Ryu took in all of it and found herself saddened once again. “Are you guys alright?” She asked them.

 

Lily answered for all of them. “Beat up, disheartened, but not broken. How about you Ryu? Are you alright?”

 

“No Lily.” She answered. “I’m not. I’m pissed off and worn out, and I wish Rachele were here instead of me. I wish I were dead.”

 

She felt a hand lie itself on her shin, and looked to see it belonged to Dina. “Ryu, please don’t say that.” Her friend said. “We’ve all been through a lot, all of the students have and we need you.”

 

Ryu scoffed, “Yeah you really needed me to freeze up and go into seizure mode and almost burn myself to bits with magic. I’m sure that helped loads.” She said sarcastically.

 

“Actually,” Piped up Rebecca, “it did. I don’t know what you did or how you did it, but you became like some sort of black hole for magic. I had just leaned out of my hiding place to fire a Stunning charm, and I came face to face with a Crutacius curse that was about to hit me, but it just stopped. Just like that, it stopped!” She said expressing how weird she thought the occurrence was, before continuing.  “Then, to make it even more strange, it just sped off in your direction. After that, no magic worked and the guys just started kicking arse Muggle style. It was weird, but it was a blessing. What did you do?”

 

Ryu had a very puzzled look on her face thinking over what Rebecca had just told her. “Honestly, I didn’t consciously do anything. I—“ she choked up momentarily as she remembered, “—I watched Rachele die and I just kind of lost it. Despair took over. I started involuntarily drawing in Magic, and I couldn’t stop, even after I saw Dumbledore was there. If I didn’t stop, I have no idea what would have happened, but I know it wouldn’t be good.”

 

Rebecca was nodding her head in agreement, “Yeah I got that feeling too. Everything around me just started to go fuzzy and I knew something was wrong. It was like you were sucking all of the magic out of the world.”

 

Everyone sat in silence thinking over everything that just happened. There were puzzled and contemplative expressions all around, and the mood was somber. No one spoke up for a long time until Ryu broke the silence.

 

“I need explanations. I need to find that damn book before my own ignorance about myself costs more lives. I have too many questions causing too much confusion and it’s overwhelming. I just want to get to my house so I can begin to question and find answer. But there is something I need to do first….” 


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