Chapter 51 : Blood in the Streets
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“Did it ever occur to you that maybe Prongs and Wormtail would like some privacy on their dates?”
“Of course,” Sirius said with a shake of his head, “but where’s the fun in that?” Remus rolled his eyes but nevertheless made his way to the counter to purchase the quills. He would be lucky if he could keep Sirius at their table in the Three Broomsticks, and prevent him actively interrupting either of their two best friends’ dates.
The two continued to joke around as they made their way down the Hogsmede High Street toward the Three Broomsticks. After a moment Remus noticed that Sirius kept glancing around, as if he was looking for something.
“What’s up?” Remus asked.
“I’m not sure,” Sirius said. His serious tone caught Remus off guard, and brought him up short, turning to look at Sirius.
“What’s bothering you?”
“I haven’t seen a single teacher since we’ve been here. Obviously, it’s something I keep an eye on out of habit to keep from getting caught up to something, but I haven’t seen a single one.”
Remus looked around himself at this point, switching in to Prefect mode, attempting to locate a teacher. When he saw none he started walking again, this time at a quicker pace.
“Come on,” he said to Sirius, “let’s go talk to Lily and James. I’m sure it’s nothing but if for some reason there aren’t any teachers in Hogsmede today then we need to make sure their aware of it.”
Voldemort felt the controlled calm that always preceded murder. He had marshaled his Death Eaters within the Shrieking Shack and now it was time to begin.
Lily and James sat in a booth at the Three Broomsticks. Their lips had just met in a gentle but passionate kiss when they were interrupted by the sound of someone clearing their throat. Pulling apart they were met by the sight of Sirius and Remus sliding into the booth across from them.
“Bloody hell!” James exclaimed.
“Sorry mate,” Remus said apologetically, “but we think something might be up.”
“And we’re not just talking about your…” Sirius began.
“Sirius, let’s just tell them what we came to tell them and then let them get back to their date.” Remus said cutting Sirius off.
“What’s going on?” Lily asked.
“We can’t find any teachers,” Sirius said.
“That’s impossible,” James said, looking around the Three Broomsticks. He saw none. “Did Dumbledore say anything to you about being short-handed this weekend?” He asked Lily.
“Nothing,” she replied, looking around as well.
“How do you want to handle it?” Remus asked.
“Handle what?” Alice said. She and Frank had been at their own table across the room and had seen Sirius and Remus join Lily and James. At first, just annoyed that the two boys were interrupting her best friend’s date, Alice and Frank had quickly become concerned upon witnessing the serious expressions on all four teens’ faces.
“We don’t think any teachers are here today,” Lily said, updating her friend.
“How is that possible?” Frank asked.
“It certainly strains credulity that it could happen on its own.” James said quietly.
“So we think it was planned?” Sirius asked.
“I think it’s a definite possibility,” James nodded.
“But by who?” Lily asked.
“And to what end?” Remus asked.
“I think we should gather the Prefects who are here, and some other people that we trust,” James said slowly. “We won’t tell them we suspect anything out of the ordinary, we don’t want to incite a panic, but we’ll just say that several of the Professors had things come up and couldn’t be here, so we’re in charge and to be on alert.”
“That’s a good idea,” Lily agreed. And so Lily and James, with the help of Remus, made their way around the bar pulling their slightly disgruntled Prefects away from their friends. Sirius, Alice, and Frank collected Donald Fletchley and Katie Finch and Peter and briefed them on what was going on, while Lily and James instructed the Prefects they could find. They weren’t all there. The one thing that was in Lily and James’ favor was that students had only just arrived at the Three Broomstick’s about a half an hour earlier, many students went to the pub first to get a Butterbeer before doing their shopping, so at least there were several Prefects there.
Aidan and Dorcas were there, and Lily could tell by the way that Aidan’s eyes widened and his brow furrowed that he could read between the lines of what James and Lily were saying, and no doubt was reaching the same conclusions they had in his mind. Eavan Madley, the sixth year Hufflepuff girl Prefect who Lily suspected liked Aidan, was also there; her counterpart Barclay Smith was, however, not present. Dirk Cresswell was there, standing beside Regal, both members of the Quidditch Team looking somber, and Lily wondered if they knew James well enough after years of Quidditch to read the concern deep in his eyes even though he tried to keep it hidden. On Dirk’s other side stood his fellow sixth year Prefect, Harper Robins. Regal’s partner, Jackson Peakes, was also there standing to her other side. The two fifth year Hufflepuff Prefects, Addison Abbot and Quinn Cadwallader, came into the Three Broomsticks moments later and seeing the group assembled joined them. Their hands were intertwined; apparently more than one couple’s date today was going to be interrupted. The only Ravenclaw’s present were fifth year boy, John Dawlish, and sixth year girl, Daisy Hookum. Gentry Baddock, the fifth year Slytherin girl’s Prefect, who always reminded Lily of Petunia sat observing the group from where she sat with a few friends. Neither James nor Lily had approached her, not sure they wanted to alert any Slytherins to the fact that teachers were missing.
James and Lily had just finished their mini-briefing asking them to stay close and keep on alert when everything happened.
The texture of the air changed first. Several people gasped as the air suddenly seemed to feel as thick as paste and as solid as a wall. James glanced over at Sirius, saw he was attempting and failing to apparate, and immediately knew something bad had just happened. Before he could do any more than reach this conclusion in his head, they all heard several loud explosions, and a frightened Hufflepuff third year that neither James nor Lily knew, burst in through the door and yelled out in a terrified scream.
“Death Eaters and You-Know-Who! They’re coming out of the Shrieking Shack! Blowing everything up!”
Lily and James’ eyes met for a fraction of a second before both sprang into action. Lily flicked her wand casting the strongest locking charm she could on the door to give them seconds of preparation time. She tried desperately not to think about students caught out on the streets and promised herself that once she did everything she could to help and get to safety the students here in the Three Broomsticks, she would personally fight to the death to help every single one of those outside.
James motioned for Peter to come to him and whispered something frantically to him. Peter looked terrified, but after a moment nodded his head in agreement and James jumped up on the table to address the terrified and panic mass in the pub. He spoke into his wand tip, his voice magnified around the pub.
“Madame Rosmerta, is there another exit?” James asked, finding the bar matron with his eyes. She nodded and pointed down to the cellar where there was a door that led out to the field behind the pub. “Can you try and alert the Ministry and Dumbledore? I don’t know if you’ll be able to or not but I need you to try.” She nodded once more and immediately made her way upstairs to where her fireplace was located.
“I need everyone to stay calm. It’s going to be okay,” he lied. “I need all fifth, sixth, and seventh year non-prefects to raise your hands.” He glanced to the window where Sirius and Remus were positioned watching the chaos unfold, and knew he still had time, apparently as disgusting as the thought was, Voldemort was taking his time. “All third and fourth year students need to attach themselves to one of the students with their hands raised. We’re going to get you out of here and back to Hogwarts.” He watched while his orders were carried out quickly and calmly. “Okay, Peter,” he said indicating Peter down below him, “is going to lead you all to a secret passage that will take you all back to the school. Please follow all of his instructions, just like you have mine. He’ll make sure nothing happens to you. Good luck, we’ll keep them off you as long as we can.”
He hopped down off the table, shook Peter’s hand and said in parting to his friend, “No matter what, don’t let the Death Eater’s through the tunnel.”
“I won’t,” Peter said quietly. He hugged Regal and then made his way to the door leading down to the cellar with a group of about a sixty students following quickly and quietly behind him.
“What do you want the rest of us to do?” The voice belonged to Gentry Baddock, the lone Slytherin Prefect in the pub. The rest of the Prefects, including James and Lily, surveyed her for a moment, unsure of what to do. Seeing their hesitation she spoke again.
“You think I don’t realize that I’m the only Slytherin Prefect here? The only one I’ve even seen in Hogsmede? Because I do. Look we don’t have time for this prejudicial crap! Just because I’d rather not associate with mudbloods and blood traitors doesn’t mean that I think kids ought be getting slaughtered! Let me help!”
She was right, they didn’t have time for this, and they were outnumbered.
“Go catch up with Peter,” Lily spoke up. “Go first through the secret passageway, and get word to Dumbledore, just in case Madame Rosmerta was unable to get through. Then go as fast as you can to Madame Pomfrey, tell her to set up a triage station at the exit of the passageway. We’re going to have injuries.”
Gentry nodded and was gone.
“Right,” James continued, “Dirk and Harper I want you two to cut through the field and head back to toward the Hogshead, Dervish and Bangs, and the other shops in that area. Hookum and Dawlish, you two go with them. Evacuate as many students as you can, and get them to the secret passageway. You’ll see Peter there, but look for a largest tree in the middle of the field. Aidan, I need you to lead Regal, Jackson, Eavan, Addison, and Quinn out onto the main street and try and get to Honeydukes, the Post Office, Zonkos, and the rest. If you can, try and get find the other Prefects, tell them the plan. We’re going to need help.”
“James, Frank, Alice and I will try to hold him off as long as we can, give you all a fighting chance,” Lily spoke up again. James turned to look at her. He had been planning on leaving that job for him, Sirius, and Remus, but a look in her eyes told him it was pointless to argue; besides they didn’t have time.
“Remus and I will get your flanks, try and keep the Death Eaters off of you, so you only have to worry about him,” Sirius spoke up.
“We’ll do the same,” Dorcas said, indicating herself and Katie Finch and Donald Fletchley.
“Thank you,” Lily said.
“Good luck,” James said, “to all of you.”
Voldemort was amused by the running, shrieking townspeople and students of Hogwarts as they ran this way and that attempting to flee but having nowhere to run. Parents with young children who lived in the town were scooping up their children, attempting to apparate, only to find that impossible. Those that made it inside to their fireplaces would find that a worker for the Department of Magical Transportation, under the Imperius Curse, had disconnected all of Hogsmede’s fireplaces from the Floo Network. Both communication with the outside world, and escape, would be impossible. They would resort to the only thing left to them, cowering and sniveling, attempting to hide their children, and wait to die.
Of course they could also fight, but then they would surely die.
His Death Eaters were creating chaos, setting houses and stores ablaze, sending curses flying here and there; and this was only the beginning. There were more Death Eaters hidden elsewhere, waiting to corner the rest of Hogsmede’s population.
James, Lily, Alice, and Frank stood behind the Three Broomsticks. They were giving Sirius and Remus, who would be taking the left side, and Dorcas, Katie, and Donald, who would be taking the right, the chance to move into place. They heard the screams all around them of students and townspeople alike and knew what was facing them on the other side of the building.
“Potter!” They looked up. Madame Rosmerta was looking down at them with pity in her eyes from her upstairs window. “I can’t get through to anyone! They’ve disconnected the Floo Network!”
“Damn it,” Frank swore under his breath.
“Thank you,” James said.
“I’ll keep trying, just in case the Ministry gets it back on,” she said desperate to give them some hope. They all four nodded, knowing that the situation was pretty hopeless. “Use the rubbish bins,” she whispered a moment later.
“What?” Alice and Lily both asked, startled.
“You’ll need something to give you coverage,” Madame Rosmerta explained. “You can use mine back there, as well as those from behind the Post Office, that way you have somewhere to duck spells.”
“Thank you,” all four teens said again, looking up. Lily and Alice summoned the garbage cans, maneuvering them into place on either side of the pub. Their hope was that by splitting up and getting Voldemort in their crossfire, maybe they could hold him off long enough to get everyone out alive. They held no such allusions about their own lives. Four teens were no match for the most powerful dark wizard ever. But they didn’t cry as they said their goodbye’s moments later and moved to take their positions. Lily and Alice shared quick hugs; Frank and James shook hands.
“Right, well, it’s four against one,” James said as they broke apart.
“I like those odds,” Frank said with a small smile.
“It’ll be a cakewalk,” Alice said sharing one last wink with her best friend.
“Easy as pie,” Lily said, winking back at her best friend.
And then they walked away from each other and didn’t look back, never once thinking they would ever see each other alive again. James and Lily took up their position on the left; Frank and Alice took their place on the right. And it was time.
Gentry took a deep breath as she stood by the dark hole that dropped from the opening in the massive tree trunk to the secret passageway below.
“How far down is it?” She asked, Peter. She hated closed off spaces, and this darkness was really getting to her nerves.
“About five feet,” Peter responded. “It’s more of a slide than a direct drop, it’s a slope.”
“Right,” she nodded. “And where’s it come out?”
“Fourth floor corridor,” Peter answered. She nodded once more.
“Good luck,” she said turning to look at him before stepping forward and sliding down the chute.
“Thanks,” Peter whispered to the empty space, before turning around to the group of students he had led to this place. He was amazed that they had stayed calm, but he supposed that it was because James had remained so calm in instructing them, and then he had stayed calm leading them to this place. But James had given him no instructions on how to go about the evacuation, so from this point on it was just Peter. Would they listen to him? He didn’t know, but he had to try. All of his friends were fighting, quite possibly dying right now to give him time to protect these people; he would not let them down.
“I need everyone to step aside, and let all the Third Years come up first,” he said. “We’re going to get them out of here first, as they’re the youngest.”
Amazingly, they listened. People moved to the side, allowing the third years to come up, some quickly, others timidly, afraid to leave behind older siblings or friends, and one by one began to slide down the chute and make their way back to Hogwarts and safety.
It may have been four against one, but the one was one of the most powerful and talented wizards to have ever lived. James could think of only one more powerful, and he was currently out of range, so they were on their own.
But the four were nothing if not brave and determined. They would fight with everything they had.
Voldemort laughed when he saw his four would-be challengers. Four children, but he was not surprised by who they were. James Potter was predictable, as brave and noble as his idiotic parents. The girl with him was a face he had seen many times in the mind of Severus Snape: the mudblood Lily Evans. The other two he wasn’t as sure of, but he thought he recognized the boy as an Auror recruit. But it mattered not in reality who any of them were, for they did not have long to live. He might consider sparing the mudblood, as a reward for Severus’ success in leaving Hogsmede defenseless, but that would depend on how much trouble she caused.
He registered briefly that none of them looked more than a little scared, more than anything else they were determined. Bravery, Gryffindors were always the same…fools. He raised his wand, ready to attack them, but they were ready for him as well.
He sent one of his waves of flame flying toward them. Several had already engulfed parts of the village. But the little children knew how to play with adults. James Potter slashed his wand through the air, causing it to ripple, and a wall of water extinguished the flames, before cascading down toward Voldemort. He vanished the wave with a mere flick of his wand, but his almost non-existent lips curved into a slight smile. This would be fun.
A lasso of flames shot out from the unknown girl’s wand to capture him, he felt it burn for a brief moment before turning it into a serpent that turned around to attack the girl. Her cohort, the would-be Auror, dissolved it into smoke, before using the smoke to create a twister of sorts to come spinning back toward Voldemort.
He vanished it, but was then forced off balance, something he was not accustomed to. Any manners of objects, from small roof shingles to heavy stone sculptures were flying at him in rapid speed succession. Severus had been correct; his redheaded mudblood was prodigious at charms.
Aidan gasped as he turned out onto the High Street. Fire, chaos and destruction were everywhere. He had broken the Prefects into groups of two before beginning and had given each pair a starting assignment to keep things as orderly as possible, and as efficient, because no one was really sure how long Lily, James, Alice, and Frank would be able to hold of Voldemort. They couldn’t afford wasted time. He turned to look at them. All of them, himself included, were just children, and scared children at that, but none of them were turning and running. They stood behind him, ready to fight, knowing death was the probable outcome.
“Remember, think of a few curses, jinxes, spells right now, so you don’t have to think when the time comes. Good luck,” he said. And then they broke apart.
Regal and Jackson took Gladrag’s first. Hidden in the back of store, crouched terrified were several fifth and sixth year Ravenclaws. They managed to get them safely back across the street and to the meadow, where they gave them instructions on how to find Peter and the secret passageway, and wished them luck, before heading back into danger.
Addison Abbot and Quinn Cadwallader evacuated the Post Office, and found fifth year Ravenclaw girl Prefect Adair Ogden, and filled her in on the plan. She stayed with them, joining them in their efforts to evacuate others.
Aidan and Eavan made their way down the High Street; their plan was to get to Madame Puttifoot’s where they knew they would find Terris Boot and Marlowe Fawcett. But they didn’t make it that far. They had just reached the intersection, spotted Boot and Fawcett running up the side street, clearly having realized something was amiss, when the world dissolved one more into chaos.
Thirty to forty Death Eaters were emerging from seemingly nowhere, cutting them off from Terris and Marlowe and the rest of Hogsmede. They were caught in the crosshairs between one set of Death Eaters and Voldemort, and this new second wave.
Sirius and Remus had their hands full. Each boy was currently dueling three separate Death Eaters. They had masks on, but both boys knew at least one of their attackers. Remus had seen the white blonde hair beneath the hood, and knew he was facing Lucius Malfoy, as well as two other unknown assailants, whereas Sirius was positive that he was dueling both of the Lestrange brothers, Rodolphus or Rabastan, which made him uneasy. His cousin was here somewhere.
Dorcas, Katie, and Donald were having no easier time with the other Death Eaters. Each of them was also dueling three, and there were more who were hidden casting spells this way and that, causing all five teens some very near misses.
But unlike their four friends, they were not fighting alone. Townspeople were shooting spells down from their windows; some had even joined the fight on the street. They were brave enough to take on Death Eaters, but could not bring themselves to confront the evil menace that was Voldemort.
Despite flying objects, stampeding trash bins (James Potter was as good in Transfiguration as he had heard), and a barrage of curses from all four teens, they had only succeeded in preventing Voldemort from gaining the upper hand on them. Even with all of their efforts, he was every bit a match for them.
And he was fighting back. With the force of a sonic boom he had blasted out windows, sending glass and debris toward his challengers. Frank had managed to block most of it, but Lily was hit by several large pieces as she rose to send a curse flying back toward Voldemort, earning her several deep gashes on her head, neck, and arms.
“Lily!” James yelled out, as Lily sank down behind the rubbish bins.
“I’m okay,” she said. “Just a flesh wound.”
They looked at each other for a moment. Neither said it, but each was taking a moment, a brief moment in the heat of battle, to memorize the other’s face, to take the other completely in, because both were sure that it would be the last time.
Dirk Cresswell and Harper Robins had made their way through the meadow and out onto the side street where the Hogshead was located. They were immediately met by the second wave of Death Eaters. Battles were being waged all around them. Dirk briefly caught sight of Daphne and Mary each battling a pair of Death Eaters outside of the Hogshead, as well as the bartender of the pub who was battling an impressive five Death Eaters. A moment later he and Harper were also drawn into combat against their own group of Death Eaters. He heard Harper yell for Dawlish and Hookum to continue on and try and get to Dervish and Bangs, which was currently cut off by the Death Eater onslaught, but whether or not they made it, he did not know.
Daphne was fighting in an almost manic state. She had no doubt in her mind where James was. She had known the moment that word of the attack had reached them. She and Mary had gotten caught by the second wave of Death Eaters as Daphne had been racing to try and get to James, with Mary attempting to pull her to safety. She knew James would be facing Voldemort, and her heart felt squeezed to breaking point as she considered James, and for that matter Lily, and whoever else might be with them, facing that monster. She wanted nothing more than to protect him, but she had no way of reaching him now, surrounded as she was by her own band of Death Eaters.
Terris Boot couldn’t quite believe what was unfolding before his very eyes, what was in fact happening to him. It had been a normal day in Hogsmede when Marlowe saw the smoke rising against the sky from their table at Madame Puddifoot’s. She had insisted they go check it out, and as soon as they were outside he knew it had been the right decision. The sounds of screams, shouts, curses, explosions were echoing everywhere within the town. He hadn’t known at the time what was happening but he had known that it wasn’t good. He and Marlowe had taken off running toward the High Street when they caught sight of Aidan and Eavan. And then there were the Death Eaters.
Now, he and Marlowe were still fighting the Death Eaters. He was dueling two, she at the moment was dueling three. They were back to back, so he couldn’t see her, but her presence was nevertheless reassuring as they faced death so surely. He had no idea what had happened to anyone else. He could hear that other battles were going on, knew that Aidan and Eavan must also be fighting this same horde of Death Eaters, but with the smoke from the burning buildings, and keeping up with his own combatants, the only thing he knew of for certain was that Marlowe was right behind him, everything else was extra.
Regal and Jackson had made it back across the High Street once again, something that was becoming increasingly difficult because of the advancing second wave of Death Eaters. But they had to get to Honeydukes.
“Regal!” Hestia exclaimed, relief flooding her face as she peaked around the corner of one of the candy displays, behind which she had been hiding.
“Hess!” Regal said, running over to her. “Are you alright? You’re not hurt?” She questioned, looking the younger girl over.
“No, we were all in here when the attack started. We hid, we’ve been so afraid.” Hestia said, indicating the group of Third Years, mostly Gryffindors with some Hufflepuffs, Ravenclaws, and even several Slytherins.
“Of course you were, you were all just enjoying your first trip to Hogsmede when all this happened,” Jackson said, shaking his head in anger that a moment this group of kids had undoubtedly looked forward to for years could be so tarnished.
“Everything is going to be okay now,” Regal said. “We’re going to get you all back to Hogwarts.”
“Can’t we just stay here?” a rather small looking Hufflepuff boy asked meekly.
“I’m afraid not,” Jackson said. “The Death Eaters are advancing, torching places as they go. We need to get you all out of here.”
“It’s a big group,” Regal said turning to Jackson. He knew what she was thinking, it had been difficult on this last crossing to get the two of them across the street, how could they safely convey this group of twenty or so third years across.
“Yeah, it is,” he agreed.
“Who knows a curse or a jinx?” Regal asked suddenly. “It doesn’t have to be particularly dangerous, just something you could use if you needed to.”
The group of students each raised their hands, slowly, still looking slightly afraid and unsure. Only Hestia’s hand shot up unquestioningly. She had known the moment Regal came through the door that everything was going to be okay.
“Good,” Regal said. “I want you to think of your most powerful spell, the one you can do at a moment’s notice,” she said remembering Aidan’s advice. “And if something happens you cast that spell and you keep casting it, don’t stop. Jackson and I are going to cover you until you all get across the street. Once you make it to the other side, run as fast as you can until you come to a big tree in the meadow. Peter Pettigrew will be there, just do exactly as he tells you. Any questions?”
There weren’t any—just a bunch of scared looking kids, taking out their wands as if for the first time.
“Good,” Jackson said. “Move as quickly as you can, we’ll keep them off of you as long as possible.”
Regal and Jackson peered out the window of the sweets store. For the moment it looked clear, but they knew it would not remain so. They nodded to one another and stepped out back into the battle. It was mere moments before both were engaged in combat with Death Eaters, but the trapped third years were able to begin running past.
“Stupefy!” Regal shouted. Her curse hit its mark. She turned slightly to see how many more third years were left to make it across. It was only Hestia and a few others. She motioned for them to come on.
“Regal!” Jackson shouted. She turned just in time to see him dive in front of her. The Death Eater that he had been battling had taken her momentary distraction as an opportunity. Jackson hadn’t had time to block the curse, so instead had taken the curse himself. She felt his blood splatter, hot across her face. She fell to her knees, pulling him to her, despite the fact that the battle was continuing. She didn’t care that she had dropped her wand, none of it mattered. The only thing that did was that Jackson had been hit with a terrible curse, causing his insides to bubble and slowly come out of him. She’d heard of this type of spell before, an entrails-expelling curse. They were nearly always fatal unless the victim got help almost immediately. She saw out of the corner of her eye the wand of the attacker raised, poised to kill her, but she stayed where she was, whispering comfort to Jackson.
“Sectumsempra!” Regal turned, shocked, to look at a white-faced Hestia as her spell hit its target, causing the Death Eater to fall to the ground gushing blood of his own.
For a moment Regal could only remember and be thankful for the day after Quidditch Practice, right after the disappearance of Bertram Aubrey, when James and Sirius had made her and Hestia stay after in order to teach them that spell. They had emphasized it was a dark spell, something they were fairly certain had been created by Snape himself, and only to be used in life-threatening situations. They had taught them because after what happened to Aubrey James and Sirius wanted to make sure she and Hestia had known how to defend themselves.
“Is he okay?” Hestia said, still chalk white as she knelt down next to Regal.
“He’s going into shock,” Regal answered as she continued to wipe away the sweat off of Jackson’s brow and whisper comforting words to him. He wasn’t gushing blood any longer which she hoped was a good sign, but all of his organs were now visible outside his body and his breaths were coming in short gasps from the pain. If he was going to live, they had to get him back to Hogwarts immediately. “We’ve got to try and move him.”
“How?” Hestia said, she looked a little green now, but Regal noted the determination in her face, she wasn’t going to leave.
“We’ll levitate him, that way we don’t jostle him as much,” Regal reasoned.
“Okay,” Hestia agreed. She still had her wand in hand so she cast the spell, while Regal grabbed her wand back up off the ground and walked by the side of Jackson’s floating body, continuing to care for him. Hestia followed closely behind, holding her wand as steady as possible.
The second attack came out of nowhere. A Death Eater from the first wave had broken through the defenses and had come charging out onto the High Street from in between buildings. Regal turned as she saw the Death Eater out of the corner of her eye and raised her wand.
“Hestia, keep going!” She yelled out, knowing Jackson didn’t have long. She slashed her wand through the air, and the Death Eater did the same. They both moved, barely missing the spells that had come toward them. Regal kept casting, her only thought on Hestia getting Jackson back to Hogwarts. She kept casting even though at some point she realized it was a losing battle; the Death Eater had prolific skills, and it was taking every bit of her five years of magical education just to keep him or her at bay. The fight continued on.
She saw the green light from the spell as it exited her attacker’s wand. She had a brief second of clarity, knowing what was coming, she turned her head slightly, making eye contact with the heart shaped face of Alice Fortescue. The last thing she was aware of in this life was Alice raising her own wand and casting a spell at her murderer. And then Regal Shacklebolt fell to the ground—dead.
“No,” Alice breathed as she saw the light extinguished from Regal’s eyes as she fell to the ground. Alice sent another curse flying toward Regal’s murderer.
“Alice, get down!” Frank said frantically, pulling at her, trying to get her back behind the cover of their rubbish bins before she got hit by one of Voldemort’s spells. Frank spent another curse careening toward Voldemort, just as Alice seemed to come back to her senses and returned back to their cover.
Voldemort blocked the curse with such power that the force sent a wave of energy careening back toward Alice and Frank. Frank seemed to watch in slow motion as Alice was knocked backward, airborne for a brief moment, before crashing into the ground.
“Alice!” Frank screamed, as he leaned down over her. He heard spells continuing to explode and knew that Lily and James were continuing to fight. His heart began to beat again, as Alice stirred slightly coming to. The force of impact had just knocked her out for a brief moment.
“I’m okay, get back to the fight,” Alice said seriously, “we can’t leave Lily and James on their own.”
“I know,” Frank said, kissing her quickly on the head anyway, before returning to the fight. Alice too returned to the fight, only now she remained on the ground, and shot spells through the cracks between the rubbish bins, as her head was still making her feel quite dizzy and she didn’t think moving was the best of ideas.
Gentry Baddock was huffing and puffing as she reached the end of the passage way and emerged in the fourth floor corridor of Hogwarts. The castle had never looked better. She took one deep breath and then took off running again towards Dumbledore’s office, ignoring the searing pains in her side.
She was running so hard she nearly collided with the gargoyle that guarded Dumbledore’s study.
“Chocolate Frogs,” she breathed heavily, just managing to pull herself onto the staircase as it made its way up to the office door.
“Enter,” she head Dumbledore call after her knock.
“Professor!” Gentry breathed heavily.
“Miss Baddock, is everything alright?” Dumbledore said, rising at once, clearly alarmed at the disheveled appearance of one of his prefects.
“You-Know-Who and his Death Eaters are attacking Hogsmede right now! James and Lily are trying to fight him off. You can’t apparate or dissapparate out of there. We’re trying to evacuate students through this passageway but I don’t know how long Lily and James can hold him off.”
“I understand,” Dumbledore said moving quickly. “Take a couple deep breaths and then I need you to go to Madame Pomfrey and take her to the exit of this passageway. She’ll need to contact the Ministry and St. Mungo’s as well. I must gather up the teachers and find another way into Hogsmede.” And then he was gone.
Lily, James, Alice and Frank continued on in their battle against Voldemort. All four had sustained injuries, with Lily’s wounds still bleeding, Alice still feeling dizzy making her think it likely she had some sort of concussion, while James had been singed by one of Voldemort’s fire spells, and Frank had been hit hard in the side by some flying debris. But they continued to fight.
Voldemort was impressed, and he was not easily impressed. It was a shame they were all so committed to their silly cause, because all of them, including Snape’s mudblood, would have made valuable additions to his forces.
Aidan had just succeeded in capturing a Death Eater in a net he had conjured when he heard her scream. He turned just in time to see Eavan crumble to the ground. A Death Eater was advancing on her. He raised his wand without thinking and sent the most powerful stunning spell he had ever cast at the Death Eater, who fell instantly to the ground. He continued to fire spells out of his wand as he ran to where Eavan had fallen.
Tears were streaming down her face which was contorted from the pain. One look at her legs revealed the problem. They had both been completely crushed by whatever spell the Death Eater had attacked her with. She wouldn’t be able to move, and leaving her was out of the question as she was an easy target now. He reached down pulling her into his arms.
“Cover my back,” he said to her as he took off running for cover. Still firing spells from his wand to keep attackers at bay.
They took cover in Honeydukes. He bolted the door and then carried her to the back of the store.
“You should go,” she said, breathing heavily from the pain. “If they find us you’ll be cornered.”
“Don’t be silly,” he said sitting down beside her as he continued to watch the door with his wand raised, “I’m not about to leave you here defenseless.”
“I’m not defenseless, I have my wand just like you have yours,” she said, although they both knew that being immobile would hamper her ability to defend herself.
“Two wands are better than one,” he said simply. He looked over at her. Her face was losing color by the second. “Lie back,” he instructed. “That way if you pass out you won’t hit your head.”
“Okay,” she said easing herself down onto the floor.
“Don’t worry, I won’t leave you,” Aidan said as her eyes started to glass over and what little color remained drained from her face.
“I know,” she whispered, her words were starting to fade and slur together as she began to slip from consciousness, “I love you,” she said a moment later. “Just in case I die, I wanted you to know.”
He turned once again to look at her, but she had finally given up her fight to stay aware and had lost consciousness. Had he heard her right? She loved him? Surely it was just the coma and the fear of death talking? Wasn’t it?
It was slow moving, attempting to levitate Jackson across the meadow, and get him to the secret passageway back to Hogwarts. Hestia kept moving despite the fact that she felt completely numb. Despite Regal’s instructions to go and not stop, she had looked back, and she knew that Regal was dead. She wished more than anything that she could curl up into a ball and let the pain just wash over her, but Jackson was dying and Regal had died to make sure that Jackson lived, so she would not let her down.
“Hestia!” It was Augustus Pye. “Merlin!” he exclaimed. “What happened to Jackson?”
“It was a curse. You have to help me. We have to get him back to Hogwarts before he dies.”
“Okay,” Pye said nodding, “the passageway is just up here. Peter said he hadn’t seen you yet so I wanted to find you.” He raised his wand pointing it at Jackson’s floating limp form, and whispered, “locomotor.”
“Thanks, we haven’t really learned that one yet,” Hestia said.
“No problem,” Augustus said as they made their way, now more quickly toward the passageway.
“What happened to him?” Peter said, his eyes growing wide as he took in the sight of Jackson’s mangled body. And then a second later a thought occurred to him. “Where’s Regal?” He asked frantically, “Surely she and Jackson were together?”
Hestia was quiet for a moment and then she did the only thing she could at this moment, she lied. “She’s still fighting.” It was what Regal would have expected of her. Peter still had a job to do, had to make sure that no Death Eaters got through to Hogwarts, he couldn’t be distracted by grief right now. He would find out soon enough.
“Right,” Peter said, nodding clearly relieved.
“Okay, I’ll go down first, and then you two can lower Jackson down to me,” Pye said speaking up.
They got Jackson down into the tunnel as gently as they could and then began yelling for people to move aside and started on their way back to Hogwarts as quickly as they could manage.
In a tree not far from the one where Peter stood shepherding students in the passageway back to Hogwarts, sat Barty Crouch Jr. high up in the branches, out of sight. He had headed for the tree the moment the attack had begun. He had not been about to go anywhere near that fight. After all, he was the son of one of the most important men in the country. He was worth quite a lot to Death Eaters.
But as he sat up in his branches his emotions began to shift from one of fear, to one of wonder and awe. He had never seen such sheer power as he witnessed in the Dark Lord. Barty was powerful, he knew it. But here was power he could never have imagined. But he imagined it now. And he wanted it.
Sixth year Hufflepuff male Prefect, Barclay Smith, had been in Dervish and Bangs when the attack began. He had quickly met up with Daisy Hookum and John Dawlish and they were now each battling three Death Eaters, in an attempt to break through and get the fifteen to twenty Hogwarts students under their protection to safety. The students were crouched behind them hiding behind this and that, waiting for a chance, any chance to run for the meadow, but so far despite the fact that Barclay, Daisy, and John had been battling for going on half an hour, there had been no such chances.
Professor Caradoc Dearborn felt like he was being ripped into shreds. He had seen the smoke and run for the village down the mountain trail he had been hiking, running so fast he had failed to note the force field surrounding the village until he ran right directly into it, getting knocked back off his feet. But that had not stopped him. He could see what was happening. He could see his students, five in particular, Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, Dorcas Meadowes, Katie Finch, and Donald Fletchley, battling Death Eaters.
He tried every spell he could think of to try and break through the force field. He tried vanishing it, transfiguring it, moving it, everything from likely options to completely ludicrous, but nothing worked. And then he tried it all again. He was near sobbing with desperation, watching his students, fighting the very deadliest dangers he was supposed to protect them from. It was in his very job title: Defense Against the Dark Arts. Well the Dark Arts were here, but he couldn’t get to his students to defend them.
Dorcas Meadowes was knocked off balance by the force of a curse sent careening toward her that she just barely missed. But the second it took her to right herself was a second too long.
“CRUCIO!” A Death Eater shouted at her.
The pain was like nothing she had ever experienced. She heard terrible noises, only vaguely aware that she was the one who was making them as she screamed and thrashed as the pain continued to contort her body.
Sirius, Remus, Donald, and Katie all turned as Dorcas’ screams filled the air. They were all busy dueling their own crop of Death Eaters, and unable to get to her.
“No!” Professor Dearborn sobbed as he watched Dorcas’ body twist and spasm under the Cruciatus Curse. He felt dead inside. He had failed them.
Sirius felt rage like he had never felt as he heard Dorcas’ screams. It was what had happened to Andromeda all over again, and damn it he would not lose someone else to that awful spell. Magic burst from his wand in his rage, he wasn’t even aware of casting a spell; knocking each of the three Death Eaters he was dueling off their feet. Before they could begin to rise again to engage him, he had taken off running, sending spells firing at the Death Eater attacking Dorcas.
Dorcas was aware of the pain ceasing and then nothing else as she slipped into unconsciousness.
Harper Robins fell to the ground, her left leg and arm still on fire, the results of a Confringo curse explosion and resulting fireball. Dirk Cresswell turned toward her, pointing his wand at her and casting the Aguamenti charm to put the fire out. He rushed toward her side. Her skin more closely resembled a charred piece of coal rather than flesh. She had been burned badly and the pain was excruciating. But stronger even than the pain was her desire to live. She would not die. She made this commitment not only for herself and her family, but for Dirk’s as well. Because one thing was certain, their fates were tied together. If one of them went down, the other would almost certainly fall as well, overwhelmed by the Death Eater onslaught. And so despite the terrible pain she was in, when the Death Eater yelled for Dirk to stop and raise his hands in the air, she smiled at him. They hadn’t hurt her wand hand.
Dirk did as he was instructed; his back to the Death Eater was unable to see the smile spread across his face. As he raised his arms, Harper shot off a spell right at the Death Eater with his wand pointed at Dirk.
Dirk wasted no time pulling Harper to her feet, and they were up fighting again. Each of them casting spells at their various attackers, determined to survive.
One Death Eater ran at Harper. She fired off a curse but he blocked it. And so in a moment of absolute terror, as the Death Eater closed in on her, she did the first thing that came to her mind. She clocked him, right in the nose. The force of her impact, not to mention the shock, knocked the Death Eater to the ground. Harper then cast the spell again, leaving the Death Eater petrified.
“Forget how to use your wand?” Dirk asked as he sent another curse flying toward his own Death Eater.
“Just keeping things interesting,” Harper called back. “Besides, I had important shopping to do today and these bastards are interfering, not to mention my arm and leg hurt like hell, so I’m a wee bit pissed off!”
Dirk laughed, before elbowing another Death Eater in the gut, and then imprisoning him in an enchanted net.
“You’re right, that does feel good.”
Gentry helped Madame Pomfrey and the emergency healers from St. Mungo’s set up their supplies. So far, the students who had made it back to Hogwarts were those evacuated by she and Peter from the Three Broomsticks. She had directed them down to Mr. Filch, where he checked them off of a list of students who had been in Hogsmede, and then sent them to the Great Hall.
But slowly injured students began to arrive. At first, they were just minor injuries, scrapes from falling in the dark passageway or cuts or minor abrasions from flying debris.
And then there was Jackson Peakes. Gentry didn’t know him. She only knew his name because he was Prefect, a fifth year Prefect just like her. And as she watched from the side, standing next to the two members of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team whose names she didn’t know, she felt certain that despite their efforts to get him here, he would die. A moment later, he disappeared with a healer, on an emergency portkey to St. Mungo’s, and she felt sure that she would never see the boy alive again.
Something had gone wrong. Severus had known it the moment Professor Slughorn had been summoned by Dumbledore. Somehow, Dumbledore had learned of the attack. Which meant someone, had either talked, or had found a way to get word to Dumbledore. Whoever it was, that person would surely die as a result.
Dumbledore and the other teachers, those well enough to come as poor Professor Flitwick was still very much incapacitated, made their way through another of Hogwarts secret passageways. Mr. Filch had directed them to this one, so they could make their way to Hogsmede unimpeded by the exodus of evacuating students. He didn’t know how the students had found the passageway, but he had a sneaking suspicion that four seventh year Gryffindors might have had something to do with it. He had often had reason to suspect that they had an intimate knowledge of more than just the one secret passageway guarded by the whomping willow. Yet he could not be angry, because today that knowledge, however illicitly it had been obtained had saved many lives.
Lily, James, Frank, and Alice continued to fight. They had reason to hope that the majority of students had been evacuated. The only students they could see were their comrades who were still battling Death Eaters. But they had no way of signaling them to retreat, and if they were honest retreat was no more a part of their friend’s makeup than it was of their own. There would be no retreats. They would die fighting.
And then something changed. Voldemort looked scared for the first time. Lily, James, Frank, and Alice all turned to see what had affected this change. Coming from the side street beside the Three Broomsticks, out onto the main street, was Albus Dumbledore.
“We’re saved,” James breathed.
Lily looked at him, tears of relief filling her eyes, and pulled him back down behind the dustbins, kissing him with more intensity than she ever had, desperate with relief of those just given a reprieve from death.
On the other side of the building, Frank and Alice were also embracing.
Voldemort for his part sent a curse flying towards Dumbledore, which the other deflected. Dumbledore sent a curse flying back towards Voldemort which he too deflected. A moment later there were pops as Voldemort and his Death Eaters began to dissapparate, having released their charm on the atmosphere of Hogsmede.
They were gone and the attack was over. But much death and destruction had been left in their wake.
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