Chapter 1 : Fight to the Death
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‘Well we found him’ thought Harry as he gritted his teeth and burrowed further down after part of the log he was hiding behind exploded.
It was supposed to be a simple mission suitable for two junior aurors. Their task was to confirm the sighting of the minor Death Eater and keep their eyes on him while they waited for back up. Except that when he’d entered the old building, Ron had suggested they take him themselves and Harry, all too frustrated at the slow pace of their training, had readily agreed. The plan, like normal, had been simple and efficient. Enter the room from two separate sides and stun him from both directions. And like normal for their plans, it had gone up in smoke pretty quickly.
Upon storming the room, Harry and Ron had discovered that he had been meeting four others. They took two down before they had had any idea what was going on but he and Ron were soon forced to retreat from the barrage of counter fire. Exiting the house, they’d got a lucky hit on another but then they’d been forced to separate and had been pinned down in cover in the surrounding woods, a dozen metres apart. Which was where they were now; stuck behind logs and tree trunks with absolutely no one coming to help.
Harry bobbed up and sent another hex back at the other Death Eater as he mentally cursed their short sightedness at getting into this situation. Ron was pinned across to his right by Rolfe, separated from Harry by a patch of open ground which would have been suicidal to attempt to cross. It was ironic to think that the two wizards who had defeated the Dark Lord were helpless before two of his lackeys.
He needed to rejoin with Ron if they were to survive this. In frustration he sent another curse back at his opponent with no effect.
Harry looked back at the distance between him and Ron. It was traversable if he had a couple of seconds. He was just trying to find a way to cause a distraction to buy him that time when he noticed movement. It was Ron. He was going to run. Harry jumped up himself and let loose a barrage of spells to try and cover him as Ron leapt out into the open.
It happened in slow motion. Ron running, the glance across his shoulder at his attackers and what seemed to be a look of realisation spreading across his face. Then the eerie green light followed by the collapse of Harry’s best friend.
The area went quiet. It was like no one could believe what had happened. Harry sank back down to the ground. Ron was dead. A calm, logical part of his mind registered the fact that Rolfe had just used an Unforgivable Curse on an Auror meant he was determined not to be taken alive. The rest of him didn’t care what the small voice thought because Ron was dead.
Ron, his laughing, joking, emotionally incompetent best friend was gone. His companion from his first day at Hogwarts. Harry had become so used to him by his side that Ron had been a part of him.
The small logical voice pointed out that he there was no way he was getting out of this without back up. Summoning his willpower, he pictured the last night. Him, Ginny, Ron and Hermione celebrating their first field assignment. His Patronus, unsurprisingly, failed to materialise. He tried again with a different memory but it was no use. Ron was dead.
Suddenly he realised what this meant for him. He’d promised Hermione that he’d keep him safe. She was going to be a little upset with him and somehow he didn’t think Ginny would protect him this time. As Harry dwelt upon the means of his impending excruciating demise, he couldn’t help feel a tad resentful towards Ron for going and getting himself killed. The stupid git, he’d got the easy way out of this!
‘Well,’ Harry thought ‘if I have to go, I’m going on my terms!’ and with that he channelled all his rage and grief into an explosive counter attack. His opponent was caught completely off guard; stunned, petrified, stabbed, soaked and tongue tied at the same time. It was a shame he’d managed to block the first couple, they’d have produced an interesting combination. That just left Rolfe. Ron’s murderer.
Spotting him, Harry moved forward and the pair begun a deadly dance. Step, cast, step, block, cast, step, dodge. Harry had power on his side, channelled by the fury of his emotions. Rolfe had experience and it was beginning to show as Harry was gradually forced back. A snagging root and he went down, his wand flying out of his grip. He looked up to see Rolfe grinning down at him, relishing the moment as he raised his wand. Harry closed his eyes in resignation as Rolfe began the incantation to end it all. He had a moment to wonder why he always seemed to die in forests before the flash came.
Except it felt different this time. He opened his eyes to see the leaves rustling above him in the slight breeze. To be honest, he preferred King’s Cross. It dawned on him that maybe he wasn’t dead after all and that those were the same trees he’d been fighting beneath. What had happened? Had Ron somehow sacrificed himself for Harry and caused another blood protection bond? Then he noticed Rolfe on the ground beside him. Sitting up, his mouth dropped open. There was Ron, apparently completely unharmed, striding towards him grinning.
Inside Harry was warring between relief and annoyance. He wanted to punch and hug him at the same time. His only reaction was to glare at Ron who sighed sheepishly.
“Sorry mate, I didn’t mean to give you such a scare. It’s just something Hermione’s been teaching me, making a double of myself. Of course it’s only an apparition but it seemed to fool them. And you.” A smug grin appeared across his face, which quickly faded when he saw Harry’s glare deepen.
“Er, sorry. We weren’t really getting anywhere though, so I decided to give it a shot to free myself up to attack from behind. Not that I was really needed. Blimey! That was some impressive duelling! Reckon you woulda got the git if not for the root. Anyway, I’m sorry I didn’t clue you in but I didn’t even know it’d work.”
Harry considered this for a moment before deciding that he couldn’t really blame Ron and that his future wellbeing at the hands of the girls was, for the moment, safe.
“All things considered, it was a pretty nifty trick. I’m just glad it wasn’t real,” Harry replied as he walked forward and clapped Ron on the arm. Ron’s relief at Harry’s acceptance was evident.
Harry had thought of another thing though.
“What do we tell Robards? He won’t be happy that we disobeyed orders and took on five Death Eaters ourselves.”
Ron grinned at Harry.
“That’s easy. We had just set up surveillance when we were stumbled upon by the others and were forced to defend ourselves.”
Harry was still slightly sceptical.
“You know this will set back our stealth and concealment training significantly?”
“Yes, but it’ll do wonders for our combat training. Who knows, maybe next time we’ll get to fight rather than watch. Anyway, come on, I want to grab something to eat.”
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