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Chapter 19 : The Unity That Makes Us Stronger
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“A single mistake is not enough to erase all the good that has been done, my lady. Just like a single drop of ink is not enough to stain a whole piece of parchment.” Flitwick looked at the Grey Lady expectantly, hoping to find a trace of understanding on her ghostly face, but she remained silent and unreadable. He wished he could change her mind about her life, about the circumstances of her death, but if a thousand years later she was still mourning the same bad choice, the same mistake she had made out of a mixture of youngness and ingenuity, he doubted there was anything that could make her forgive herself. In the many years he’d spent on the quest, he had come to the conclusion that ghosts were blocked and immutable in more ways than one.
He kept on walking at her side, giving her the time to ponder what he had said. The lonely hallway echoed with his small steps, trying to avoid all the debris and the destruction covering the floor. Hogwarts castle carried the signs of the battle that had occurred within and outside its walls almost proudly. There were still places that had not yet stopped burning from all the spells fired during the fighting, while the walls almost radiated with all the magic they had absorbed in the past hours. Slowly, some suits of armor started to stand up from the floor, picking up all the pieces they had left of themselves, and tried to return to their original position; painted figures began to emerge from their hiding spots, and some of them found a new home when their original painting was destroyed during the great night of Hogwarts.
Poignant minutes of silence passed before Helena Ravenclaw spoke again. “So, you think our House has still something good to offer?”
“The noble and ancient House of Ravenclaw is much bigger than a single person. If we failed with Barty – even though I am sure nothing could be done with him - it doesn’t mean we failed with everyone else. Look at what we have done with all the other Ravenclaw students: We taught them kindness and justice, and here they were tonight, fighting for what they believe in.”
Anthony was awakened by a strong noise coming from the common room. In a moment, he had his wand out and ready to cast a defensive spell. The first thought that crossed his mind was that the Carrows were coming to get him, as the last remaining Ravenclaw Prefect. All the others had not come back for the school year because of their Muggleborn descent, and Luna, who got the badge in the absence of any other eligible candidate, was taken before Christmas.
Slowly and silently, he made his way down the stairs to the common room with his shoulders always to the wall, moving through the shadows. A few heads appeared from the doors of the dormitories; he made signs to Terry Boot and some others to keep quiet and come down the stairs behind him, wands raised.
He heard the Carrows’ voices; maybe they were coming to get him, after all. He held his wand tighter and took a look at his left hand, where some scars formed the sentence ‘Muggles are inferiors’ on his knuckles. As he was about to get to the common room there was another male voice he barely recognized – could it be? No, rumor had it he was very far from Hogwarts… The voice was followed by some spells being fired, and then nothing. He and Terry descended the last few steps and entered the common room.
“Harry! Luna!” Harry was at Hogwarts, and Luna was with him, alive! At their feet were Alecto and Amycus Carrow, senseless and guarded by a fiery Professor McGonagall.
“Anthony!” Luna stormed towards him. “I can’t believe you’re fine! I thought… All these months, I thought they had gotten you too!” She hugged him tightly. “I prayed to the Crumple-Horned Snorkacks to watch for you and they did! I’m so glad!”
Harry was busy talking with Professor McGonagall and quickly scurried away. Something was going on; he felt it in his bones at that very moment. Before the professor had the chance to speak, he said, “I’m staying to fight.”
“He’s been one of the bravest students today, hasn’t he Filius?” The Grey Lady smiled proudly.
“I saw him in the Great Hall before while Madam Pomfrey gave him a spoon of Skele-Grow. He has got a broken arm and a broken foot, but I am amazed at his strength. Never left his best friend’s side for a minute, they told me. He and Terry Boot were defending the castle doors, took down three mountain trolls all by themselves.” Professor Flitwick seemed to grow a couple inches out of pride and joy.
Little stones were raining from the ceiling, and dust made it difficult to see. Terry Boot and Anthony Goldstein were in the Entrance Hall, incessantly firing spells towards the castle doors, which were crumbling down due to the force of the assailants. Voldemort had giants and trolls among his army of monsters, and some of them were pushing their way into the castle, doing with brutal strength what no spell had been capable of achieving.
“Are you scared, Anthony?” Terry shouted, to overcome the noise.
“Scared as hell, my friend,” Anthony shouted back.
“Good. I am too, but I have your back.”
A huge hand broke through the centuries-old wood, soon followed by three others. The door started to slowly falling down, and no spell could stop it, no matter how bad they all tried. Neville Longbottom cried an order over the crowd. “Back down! Let the doors fall and we’ll be ready to welcome them! Fight for Hogwarts!”
The doors fell, dragging with them a huge chunk of wall. When they hit the floor, the Entrance Hall was shrouded in dust. Then the jolts of green light started coming from behind the figures of three huge mountain trolls.
Hogwarts defendants tried to fight back, but no spell could knock down their thick skin. With their huge bodies, the trolls protected the Death Eaters coming behind them, deflecting all the curses cast by the defendants. They were making them step back towards the staircase, but they couldn’t afford to make them have the entrance to the castle - otherwise they would spread through all the castle, and the school would surely fall.
“Stupefy them!” Kingsley Shacklebolt roared above the noise.
“Kill them! They must not pass!” Professor Lupin’s voice overcame his. He was with a woman with blue-purple hair, holding hands and never leaving a second between one curse and another. His eyes were on fire.
The three trolls were gaining ground, when Terry shouted, “ ‘tony, remember what Harry said about trolls?”
Two trolls were hit by their own bats, and fell on the third.
“It was brilliant!” Professor Flitwick was delighted. “I taught them that spell! It’s in days like this that I realize I made a difference in this world.”
“Ravenclaws have always been extremely resourceful,” the Grey Lady agreed. “Do you know what happened to the Chang girl, Filius? I saw her before, lying in the grounds, motionless. Is she…?”
Penelope Clearwater moved through the bodies lying on the ground, pretending not to see the dead. She was looking for living people, people she could help, but she needed to be quick. He had said they only had one hour, one hour to collect their dead and to give him Harry Potter.
She had come to Hogwarts immediately when she got her friend Percy’s owl. The letter was only a few words long, scribbled in a hurry. ‘There’s going to be a battle tonight at Hogwarts. We’ll need a nurse.’ And to be a nurse she had come. She had helped the scared children at the Hog’s Head and then she had come to the castle, right before the passage closed, ready to do her job.
She was not able to fight; she didn’t have enough courage and bravery for that, but she was a nurse.
“Penelope, come help me!” Ginny Weasley called her a few yards away. She was trying to move the body of a man dressed in black, a Death Eater. She recognized him. His name was Augustus Rookwood and worked at the Ministry; he had come to her once at St Mungo’s for some poisonous fungus. Now it didn’t matter anymore; he was dead, and not on the good side.
Under him, there was another body. A girl. Cho Chang was a Ravenclaw too, two years younger than her, and now she was dead too. “Ginny, she’s dead. We should look for wounded people first, we don’t have much time.”
“She’s not dead. I heard her crying.”
Penelope got down on her knees and felt the girl’s pulse. For a few seconds, she felt nothing, but then the vein started pulsing feebly. Cho was alive, even if barely so.
She ordered Ginny to press her hand on the wound Cho had on her side, which was still bleeding profusely. Back at the castle, maybe she would be able to make it stop, and save her life.
Cho had evidently put up a fight against that man, or maybe she had taken down others before being almost killed in the battle herself. Surely she hadn’t gone down easily; she had a swollen eye and a few small cuts on her neck. From what Penelope could gather, from the tears in her shirt and trousers, she also had quite a few bruises spread in various places on her body. She could tell she had been very brave.
As soon as Ginny blocked the blood flowing, Cho regained a bit of strength and opened her eyes. She was crying.
“She made it, Helena. Miss Clearwater saved her life.”
The Grey Lady nodded in relief.
As the circled the corner, they saw a Ravenclaw student they both knew very well in the company of another Ravenclaw ghost. They were both sitting on the floor, looking intently at a flower on the ground.
“Miss Lovegood, what brings you here?” Flitwick asked. “Shouldn’t you be in the Great Hall with everyone else?”
“I had to do something important first, Professor,” she answered, lifting herself from the floor.
“And what is so important, Miss Lovegood?” the Grey Lady interjected. “And you, Myrtle, what are you doing in this corridor?”
“We are paying our respects, my lady. Before everyone forgot where Roger Davies died.” Luna looked down,and so did Myrtle. A beautiful blue iris glowed on the floor of the corridor.
Silence fell among the four of them for a few minutes. Ravenclaw had paid their loyalties to justice and knowledge with life.
Professor Flitwick was the first to break the quiet. “He was a very smart and promising young man. He will not be forgotten.”
“Not in Ravenclaw,” the Grey Lady added.
“Not in Ravenclaw,” agreed Myrtle in her strident voice.
“Sit tibi terra levis. May the ground be light on you, Roger. You were very handsome and liked Quidditch. You were a good person, and did not die in vain.”
Professor Flitwick and the Grey Lady resumed walking in silence, side by side.
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