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Chapter 19 : Hands
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Bellatrix was fuming, her chest heaved violently, but for once in her life, she did not let her anger overcome her.
“Look at you two, working together as a team.” She cooed, “So very…what’s the word?...Romantic.” Bellatrix smiled dirtily and turned to Neville. “You’ve certainly grown a lot Neville. I remember when you were just a helpless, little, baby.” She pouted and leant her head to the side in mock sympathy. “Oh wait, you still are. CRUCIO!”
Neville knew what to do in an instant. He gripped the sword tightly and Hannah’s eyes widened, but her brain was too murky for her to do anything.
At the last moment, Neville lunged forward and the curse rebounded off the swords blade. The curse switched direction and headed back to its creator.
Bellatrix only realised what had happened when the pain of her own curse overtook her thought. Her body constricted and her back arched, making her look frail and old. Bellatrix was fighting it, her body was thrashing around unpleasantly, like an animal trapped in a net. All Bellatrix’s energy went into preventing herself from screaming, she was a Death Eater after all and too strong for that. But her own spell was too powerful for even herself to resist.
The sound of Bellatrix’s cry pounded Hannah’s brain like a fist, again and again, tearing it apart. Suddenly, the pitch increased and the scream turned into a sharp shriek and severed a nerve somewhere, making Hannah fall to her knees.
Neville saw Hannah out of the corner of his eye and leaped over to help without a moment’s hesitation. She was weak, incredibly weak. Bellatrix had drained every ounce of energy from her, but Hannah did not even consider this. She was trying to stand, mumbling something. She was reluctant to take Neville’s hand; he had done so much for her already, but Neville didn’t give her a choice in the matter.
Their palms touched and Neville wrapped his fingers around Hannah’s, wishing he never had to let go. Hannah held him just as tightly, experiencing the scarce sensation of feeling completely safe.
Neville pulled Hannah up, back on her feet.
“Neville, you saved my life. I can’t thank you enough…”
Hannah’s voice faded and she shifted her focus to something that had just caught her attention. In the blade of Neville’s sword, Hannah saw the dark stature of Bellatrix Lestrange stand up tall. The cruciatus curse had worn off, and she had stopped screaming. Flames from the battle raged fearfully behind her, flickering in the sharply cut metal. Bellatrix’s black curls flew out like a lion’s mane, and in a swift, dramatic movement, she brandished her wand.
“STUPEFY!” Hannah bellowed, finding a source of power within her, giving her spell more force than any spell she had cast before. The spell surged into Bellatrix, blasting her backwards 20 metres. Her body skidded across the stone ground, creating gashes in her black laced robes.
Hannah had to blink twice, almost unable to believe it. Neville’s eyes were wide; surprised at the gumption Hannah had just shown.
Hannah felt her throat go dry for a moment. Her eyes lingered on Bellatrix’s body, now sprawled out on the ground, much like Lavender’s had been after she had fallen. Hannah felt a twinge of guilt. She had not forgotten the agonising pain that Bellatrix had inflicted on her and undoubtedly many others, but Hannah found herself hoping that Bellatrix would get back to her feet, or that she was unconscious at the worst.
Unlike Bellatrix, Hannah did not want to be a killer.
Hannah and Neville’s view of Bellatrix was obscured as a huge crowd of new recruits, led by Professor Slughorn, rushed past. The whole group consisted of Slytherins: Slytherins who had come back to fight against the most famous Slytherin of them all, Lord Voldemort.
Wonders will never cease, thought Neville. People are never who they appear to be.
The crowd passed, and Hannah looked back to the spot where Bellatrix lay, but she was nowhere to be seen.
Hannah didn’t know whether to be relieved or worried. She turned her head to survey the area, to check Bellatrix wasn’t hiding somewhere ready to pounce. Instead, Hannah found herself face to face with Neville, who had tried to do the same thing.
In her bid to protect the two of them from Bellatrix, Hannah had unknowingly thrust herself into Neville’s arms. One hand was still holding his and the other was grasping her wand and resting on Neville’s shoulder for balance.
Neville, too, had become aware of how close the two of them were; their faces were only an inch apart. His heart beat heavily, and like the last time Hannah was this close to him, it was not because of the battle surrounding them.
Hannah pulled away from him quickly, her cheeks bright red. She looked down at her feet and mumbled apologies; Neville probably didn’t appreciate the fact that she had just thrown herself at him without warning. She stepped backwards, only to find that Neville had not let go of her hand.
She glanced at her hand in his, then looked up at Neville, not sure if he had realised or not. Neville did realise, a few seconds later, and smiled, slightly embarrassed.
“No- it’s ok- I like it.”
Neville felt like he could dance, but decided that would be highly inappropriate given the situation.
For a short, blissful minute, they remained, stood together in union. It was hard for Neville to think of anything except how good it felt to be holding Hannah’s hand, how her fingers fit perfectly between his. Hannah felt the same. For a short time, it was as if nothing else mattered, just that her and Neville were together, safe.
But, as is often the way, this moment did not last.
A large group of fighters were sprinting madly towards them, running for their lives. Conflicts around Neville and Hannah were slowing, soldiers from both sides curious to see what was going on.
A tornado of blackness was coming towards them, traveling with the speed and force of a tidal wave, carrying gale force winds. Anyone who wasn’t panicking before, followed those who were in a mad bid to escape. Hannah grasped Neville’s hand tighter, and he pulled them both away from where they stood. Hannah ran as fast as she could, her limbs protesting fiercely, but her brain overruled her body.
She looked back, checking how far away the whirlwind was, but her eyes wanted to look at something else. Standing on the balcony that overlooked the courtyard was a group of about five Death Eaters with their wands out, controlling the swarm of darkness terrorising their victims below.
But before Hannah could react, she was consumed.
The air that imprisoned was violent, slapping Hannah’s face whichever way she turned. Hannah’s vision completely lost focus, the world whizzing past as if she were spinning out of control.
After the whirlwind, came the blizzard.
The air around them was growing thicker, hotter, and darker. Every breath they took endangering them more and more. Hannah winced as sharp particles stung her eyes and gagged as the poisoned fumes entered her lungs, her body lurching forward as she choked. Neville’s warmth had gone and had been replaced by dry, oxygen-less heat that she saw no end of. Thick, asphyxiated cries filled the air and Hannah found it hard to determine which were her own and which came from the smokes other unfortunate victims.
Blinded, intoxicated, and dehydrated, Hannah decided the best thing she could do was to get as low as possible, hold her breath, and wait.
When she could hold her breath no longer and gasped for air like a fish, Hannah found that the taste of the breath she was forced to take was less bitter than before. Squinting, she saw that black had turned to grey, and through the clouds she could make out other figures lying on the floor. Hannah closed her eyes and held her breath once more, so as not to take in any more fumes whilst the smoke dispersed.
When she inhaled again, it tasted clean, so she took in more air, getting her breathing pattern back to normal.
She dragged herself up so that she was sitting and found herself gazing across a graveyard.
Out of the twenty or so that the tornado had attacked, less than half had made it through their ordeal.
Bodies lay where minutes before they had been fighting. Death Eaters, Order members, D.A. members, and students had all been stripped of life.
Tears began slowly rolling down Hannah’s cheeks, cutting paths through the blackened dirt that caked her face.
Those that had survived sat dazed and still choking, covered in ugly burns and soot. Their eyes rolled as they tried to regain a sense of perspective.
Hannah shook off her own dizziness and frantically searched for Neville, praying that the Death Eaters had spared him.
Unintentionally, they had.
Neville was a few metres away, attempting to stand without succumbing to his giddiness. He saw Hannah, and let out a deep breath of relief. His eyes locked on hers and he tried to convey so many things that he was yet to put into words with just one look.
When he did speak, his voice was low and quiet.
“I’m going to check the bodies for survivors.”
Hannah nodded solemnly, and got up to help him.
Those that had also escaped suffocation were rising as well, each one that Hannah recognised filling the whole in her heart. But with every person she knew was still alive, Hannah thought of at least three more whose survival was uncertain.
Stepping gingerly forward towards the nearest dormant body, Hannah suddenly felt herself be pushed backwards, as is she had just bounced off a wall. With a grunt, she hit the floor. Hannah crawled closer again and reached out her hand, recoiling when she received a sharp shock from the air.
Her path had been blocked by a huge shield charm, more effective than any she had seen before.
It did not take long for her to find the person who had cast it, and under her breath, she whispered something, completely amazed.
Author’s Note: I just want to thank everyone who has read this story so far, it really means a lot! This chapter was by far the hardest to write so I hope the end product was to your liking! There is only one chapter left after this one, which I’m really excited about (but sad at the same time) and I hope you’ll stick with my story to its end. Thanks again and feel free to review, your thoughts are much appreciated ~HufflepuffHallows.
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