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Chapter 6 : Firearms
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Gorgeous and artistic chapter image by Giola!
It was the only word to describe the scene waiting for the refugees outside Hogwarts. As soon as they apparated to the gates of the school, the melee began. There were too many of the walking dead to count, and they were milling the perimeter of the school, waiting for warmth to appear.Hermione gasped as the side of her face made contact with the damp ground. Several zombies lost their balance and tumbled over her form before realizing they had stumbled upon a human. Horrified, Hermione leapt up from the ground and set her surroundings ablaze. She couldn’t see her family, all she could hear was the screaming.
Tears sprung to her eyes as a sharp breeze assaulted her face. She sliced her wand through the air over and over again, severing limbs, lacerating rotting flesh, and burning the remains. In the distance she could see Albus and James, back to back, fighting the horde as best they could.
Heavy fatigue washed over her as the impromptu battle waged on. Her shoulder felt heavy and awkward, and she was constantly tripping over the fallen enemies. She spotted Lily and relief washed over her. The resourceful girl had taken to a tree and was stationed there, shooting spells while clinging to a sturdy branch, out of reach of the threat. Despite this, panic gripped her heart because she still had not spotted her only daughter.
A near constant flow of disfigured faces caked with blood assaulted her, and she knew they had to work toward the gate. The castle loomed magnificently in the background, offering a place to plot and hide. Hermione had never seen anything so beautiful. She began to work her way toward the two boys, who were holding their own. As she battled her way through the threat, sending spells forward, and backward, she heard a blood curdling scream from behind her.
Hermione spun around, taking two zombies down in the process, and her stomach tightened painfully. One of the zombies had taken Rose’s wand and snapped it into pieces, littering the grass with its shards. Four of them began to close in on her, and Hermione’s panic shifted into full gear.
“No!” She cried furiously, taking off into a sprint towards Rose. She knew she’d never get there in time, but she elbowed zombies out of the way.
“Mum!” Rose screamed, her cries strangled and raspy. Hermione’s breath was ragged and her legs felt like dead weights, as though her effort were completely useless. Rose flailed her arms and legs, attempting to kick them away, but there were too many of them, and her fight was futile.
And then, just like her Aunt Ginny, Rose stopped fighting. She stood, her knees locked into extension, a blank look etched on her exhausted countenance. The zombies advanced on their prey, their droll hum suddenly excited at the impending feast.
“No! Please, No!” Hermione was completely unable to look away from her daughter’s final seconds of life. She felt tears of despair collect painfully at the corners of her eyes. The zombie directly in front of Rose opened its putrid mouth, ready to tear into her warm flesh, when his head exploded with a loud bang. Within seconds, all the zombies around her were down, and Rose was left in the middle, still alive, still healthy, face wet with tears.
Hermione whipped around to locate her saviour. A tall, blonde man emerged from the shadows, a large shotgun strapped around his broad chest. Rose broke down upon seeing him.
“Scorpius!” she screeched, falling like a rag doll into his strong arms. Hermione felt her jaw drop and then promptly closed it. She had far more pressing matters to worry about, like the ravenous zombies that were closing in on them.
“Scorpius. Keep her guarded. Stay with me. We’ve got to move out of here,” Hermione commanded, slicing her wand through the air once more. She could see Albus and James ahead, still holding their own.
“Right,” Scorpius replied, cocking his gun back. “Let’s murder these sons of bitches.” He took aim and fired straight through the forehead of one of the zombies, and it fell unceremoniously to the soggy earth. A cry escaped Hermione’s dry throat as she realized the face of the fallen monster belonged to Seamus Finnigan.
“Oh, Seamus,” She whispered sadly, stepping over his mutilated form. “We’ve got to get back over to the other two. We can set the field on fire if we do it that way, it seems to kill them relatively--” she paused to remove the limbs from a female zombie wearing a torn miniskirt with matching halter top “--effectively, but seems to take quite a long while. It will at least take their attention off us.”
“Stay close to me,” Hermione heard Scorpius murmur softly to Rose, as he prepared for another shot. Rose nodded and latched onto his arm, helpless without a wand.
The trio fought their way to the centre of the conflict, covered by Lily who was still fighting up on her branch. After several gruelling minutes, they finally made their way to Albus and James, who both looked like warriors dotted with the sludge that sat in the zombies’ veins.
“We can’t keep them off forever, there are too many of them,” James shouted, continuing his slaughter. “I don’t know where they are coming from, but I know I’ve killed at least two that were in my year at Hogwarts. It’s endless.”
“Can’t we reach Hogwarts somehow?” Albus’ voice was nearly drowned out by the disgusting drone of the zombies.
As if on cue, Hermione saw an angel float over in the sky.
“Brooms!” Lily screeched, pointing upward. A dozen people on broomsticks glided towards them, assisting immediately in the battle.
“Incendio” Hemione asserted, and the flames issued from her wand, licking at the pasty, deteriorated skin of the undead before them. The brooms circled around the survivors, swooping lower as the inferno raged around them.
“It’s hot,” Rose complained quietly, clutching Scorpius’s arm. A putrid odour infiltrated their nostrils, and Hermione felt Albus wretch beside her.
“Stay strong,” she ordered loudly. “They’re nearly here.” She watched as one of the figures arced across the sky like a shooting star, grabbing Lily from the branch as though she was a rag doll, and carrying her back over the grounds to Hogwarts.
“Ok, Rose, you first. Then Albus, Scorpius, and James. Here comes the first.” The rescuer flew down and grabbed her hand, pulling her up onto the broom. Hermione caught Scorpius’s pained expression as his secret lover flew away from him to safety. The rest of the boys were rescued shortly after that, and finally Hermione was floating above the hellish blaze. Never one to fully appreciate the benefits of travelling by broom, Hermione clung tightly to her rescuer. Woozy by the time they made it back to the castle, she climbed off the broomstick, thankful for solid ground once more.
“Thank you,” She breathlessly stated, holding out a hand. “What is your name?”
“Anderson McLaggen. Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, 7th year.”
“Thank you, Anderson. Thank you so much.”
The rest of the rescuers, who were all either professors or students who were of age, lead them into the castle. The moon was beautiful in the night sky, and the hum of the zombies was nowhere in ear shot.
Neville greeted them the moment they stepped through the grand doors.
“Merlin,” he whispered, staring at the ragtag group of survivors.
“They are everywhere outside the walls. They appear to be unable to breach the protections of Hogwarts at this moment, but there are hundreds... maybe thousands of them. They’re multiplying so fast. We did what we could; it’s amazing we made it out alive. Some of us almost didn’t...” Hermione trailed off and snuck a glance at Rose.
“Is that Scorpius Malfoy?” Neville asked.
“Yes, sir,” he replied, slinging the gun across his back.
“How did you end up here...with a gun?”
Scorpius sighed, shaking his head slightly. “I was in my flat when I saw the zombies outside the window. I ran outside to see what was going on and immediately realised the threat. I didn't even have time to go to see if my parents were ok, I got away to find Rose. When I got to her house, and saw that it had burned down and that there were these zombies everywhere, I tried to fight some. I lost my wand in the process, and I saw that the shed was still standing in their back garden. I went in hoping to find something... anything. I saw this old gun and recognized it from some conversations I’d had with Rose. I picked up the gun and some Ammo, which I’m still not entirely sure how to work, and then decided that I’d try to come to Hogwarts. I never dreamed it’d be like this. And then I saw Rose, but the zombies were closing and she wasn’t... moving. Why weren’t you moving?”
“I... I... I don’t know,” she admitted. Hermione listened intently because she had been wondering the same thing herself. “At first I was scared and I was crying... and then something happened. I caught one of their eyes... and it was like I couldn’t move. Truth be told, in that moment it’s like my brain was telling me that I didn’t want to move. So I didn’t. I don’t know what would have happened if... if Scorpius hadn’t been there.” She began to weep softly.
“It’s like they have some kind of power that paralyses their victims before they kill. There’s obviously some type of magical ability that’s transferred once the victim has succumbed. It appears that they are muggles and wizards alike, and that the illness is spreading.”
Hermione was vaguely annoyed by the fact that Neville referred to the zombies as an “illness” but did not respond.
“But we’re safe here, right?” Albus asked.
“Yes. You’re safe here. Come on then, let’s get you cleaned up at least, and some food. Others will continue to arrive; we’re going to have teams sweeping the grounds constantly.”
“That’s a good idea. I assume you have the room of requirement set up for them?”
“We do. Showers are in there and everything. Get cleaned up, there will be a hot meal waiting for you when you’re done. I’ll have one of the house elves show you the way.” Hermione nodded as the kids stalked off after the house elf, who continued to work at Hogwarts despite having been freed by Hermione’s own house elf initiatives.
Once they were out of earshot, Hermione sucked in a deep breath and turned to Neville. “What does Headmaster Flitwick have to say about what’s going on?”
Neville lead Hermione further into the Great Hall and they sat down at a table before he answered.
“He’s deeply concerned. Of course the safety of the children is paramount and always our first concern. It’s quite possible that half of the parents of these children are no longer living. There’s really no good way to find out, either. Right now, we’re protected by the intense magical shields guarding the castle, but we figure that these won’t last forever. The zombies themselves radiate magic, especially those that were witches and wizards previously. And it seems as though the more zombies they make, the stronger they become. One thing that’s important to us is we haven’t been able to locate Harry. He seems to be the ring leader of them. That’s what Percy Weasley has been telling us, he has people out scouting them out. The most concerning thing is... well...”
Neville trailed off for a moment, as though he almost regretted bringing the subject up. Hermione drummed her fingers impatiently on the wooden table, awaiting the bad news.
“They seem to not only be able to change living humans but... they seem to be able to wake the dead.”
“WHAT!” Hermione gasped, feeling a sharp pain in her stomach. “Raise the dead? Who have they managed to raise?” She feared the answer, prayed it wasn’t true.
“Not Voldemort,” Neville said quickly, dispelling her fear. “He doesn’t have a body to resurrect. But it also means that this army could be endless. This battle could never end. We have to consider the possibility... that our side is the minority in this war.”
Hermione pushed her chair away from the table and stood abruptly. “Neville, this is madness. It’s barely been 48 hours; you can’t tell me that the entirety of the world’s population is now zombies. What about people overseas? Surely the zombies haven’t managed to swim across the damn ocean and infect France, or even more hilariously, Americans. Or Africans. I mean, is this contained in the UK?”
She slammed her hands into her hips and tapped her toe, staring Neville down.
“I don’t know, Hermione.” Neville sounded exhausted as he continued, “I’ve told you what I know. It’s something we haven’t experienced before.”
“I know that, but all I know is what I’ve seen, and these things are relentless, and damn near as hard to kill as Voldemort was. It’s almost like every single zombie Harry creates is a fucking Horcrux...” Hermione trailed off thoughtfully. “I need to go to the library.”
Neville gaped at her incredulously.
“I... you can’t be serious?! The Library? At least take a shower first! You’ll smudge the books with that disgusting zombie blood on your fingers.”
But she had already walked away, a new purpose in her step.
The tomb loomed before him, illuminated by the great moon that hung perfectly in the cloudless sky. The stars twinkled magnificently, reflecting in the modest lake that surrounded the small island. It was quiet around the quaint wooded area, except for the sound of a gurgling drone that echoed sickeningly in the solemn silence. The centrepiece of the island was the large, magnificent tomb made of white marble. It stood out in contrast to the onyx heavens, a small monument of tranquility.
Scrape. Scrape. Scrape.
The zombie with the lightning bolt scar arrived at the island alone, away from the massive army that he had created. The first of his kind, he acted without conscious thought or reasoning, yet there seemed to be a pattern to his actions. He used the strength he that had gained from his feeding habits to remove the lid of the unblemished tomb.
Though he was incapable of showing human emotion, the zombie reached down within the tomb and pulled out a wand that rested inside. Holding the thin stick between his clumsy fingers, the monster moved his arm slowly across the air, as though the stick would perform an action for him.
A great yellow light issued from the tip of the wand. The zombie shoved the wand in his bloody, stolen black trousers. He turned and crept slowly back into the water, toward the land and the army he had left.
Behind him, the contents of the tomb rustled. A fresh zombie, newly turned, sat straight up, his long, white beard rustling softly in the wind.
A/N: Thanks to my beta AccioHPFF For betaing this for me, and catching something SO HUGE AND AMAZING that it has completely changed something I hadn't even thought of. Big Big Big Thanks to him, and eventually y'all are going to be thanking him too!
Also, thank you to Giola For creating this amazing chapter image! I love how big Scorpius's arms are...I've nicknamed him "Rambo Scorpius" and he's my new favorite character
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