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Chapter 15 : Nagini
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The whole room jumped to their feet immediately. The members of the Order of the Phoenix and the DA followed Dumbledore towards the third floor. Harry was thinking about Jacinta and Dennis and the other younger students that were still in the common rooms, unknowing and unprotected.
“We have to go to the common room!” he said to Ginny, Ron and Hermione.
“No, Harry.” Dumbledore quickly said. “Send other DA members. You have to stay with me.” There was something uncharacteristically demanding in his voice.
“Alright. You three go.” They started to protest, but Harry raised his hand to quiet them. “We don’t have time for this. Please, just go. Keep them safe.”
Ginny still seemed reluctant to leave him, but Ron and Hermione took her with them towards the seventh floor.
“Terry, Anthony, Michael, you go and make sure the Ravenclaws stay safe.” Harry ordered. “Hannah, Susan and Justin, you do the same for the Hufflepuffs.”
The DA members nodded and without another word they ran off to their respective common rooms. Harry turned back to Dumbledore. “Why do I have to stay with you?” he asked. He thought Dumbledore had already been trusting Harry to take care of himself for a long time.
“I have a feeling…” the headmaster said slowly. He didn’t finish his sentence. Before they rounded the corner of the corridor of the one-eyed witch, he stopped Harry.
“Harry, listen to me.” Dumbledore said eagerly, while screams and shouted incantations told them the Order members and the DA members had ran into Death Eaters and a battle had begun. “I think the only purpose of this attack is weakening us before Voldemort comes himself. I need you to keep yourself safe.”
Harry nodded and made to go towards the fighting, but Dumbledore grabbed his arm. “I need you to understand me clearly, Harry. Whatever happens, protect yourself first.”
“Alright…” Harry said slowly.
Dumbledore nodded and let go of Harry’s arm. “Stay close to me.” he said.
Side by side, the old and the young wizard faced the Death Eaters. They were immediately engaged in a duel with three masked figures. Three killing curses were soaring towards them, but Harry quickly raised a powerful gold shield and the green beams of light were deflected. Harry reacted with a powerful stunning spell that took out the Death Eater on the left, while Dumbledore took out the other two by knocking them together and binding them in robes.
Harry looked at the battle in front of him. All was chaos. He saw his friends and teachers taking on dozens of masked figures. Harry was tempted to use the tornado spell he had used in Godric’s Hollow again, but then he would be incapacitating Order and DA members as well as Death Eaters. He took out three hooded figures that were fighting his friends. By the time he had stunned the fourth one, all the other Death Eaters had noticed that Harry and Dumbledore were there.
“I’m leaving.” a tall, broad-shouldered man said. He ran towards the one-eyed witch statue and disappeared out of sight.
“Come back!” a familiar female voice shouted. “You coward!”
“Hello, Bellatrix.” Dumbledore said calmly.
Bellatrix took of her mask and smirked at the headmaster. “Always the polite man, aren’t you Albus?”
She didn’t wait for Dumbledore to respond and quickly shot a killing curse at him. Dumbledore swiftly raised the same shield that Harry had conjured moments ago. The killing curse bounced of the shield and hit Sturgis Podmore right in the face. The Order member fell to the ground, lifeless.
Meanwhile Harry was engaged in a duel with Antonin Dolohov and Augustus Rookwood. Both of them were accomplished duellists, but even together they weren’t able to incapacitate Harry.
“Ignis Hyacintho!” Harry shouted. A stream of purple fire brushed Dolohov’s chest and the Death Eater fell unconscious. Harry couldn’t help but smile inwardly at the irony. Snape had told him this was one of Dolohov’s preferred curses.
Rookwood seemed to know that he wouldn’t stand a chance now that his companion had fallen and he too fled towards the secret passageway behind the one-eyed witch and disappeared. Harry realized Voldemort must have given orders to make sure not too much of them were captured or killed, although the Death Eaters who were here tonight probably were only a small part of Voldemort’s army.
Harry turned around and saw that Dumbledore and Bellatrix were still duelling each other.
“You’re getting old, Dumby.” Bellatrix said tauntingly. “Not that fast anymore, are you?”
“It’s the inevitable effect of reaching a blessed age, Bellatrix.” Dumbledore said calmly. “Maybe one day you’ll know what it’s like too. Although I doubt it.”
Bellatrix opened her mouth to give him a sneering response, but then she spotted Harry. “You!” she shouted furiously. “You killed my husband.”
“My bad.” Harry said. “He was busy killing his 16-year old nephew though, so I can’t say I’m really sorry about it.”
A grimace of anger and pure loathing appeared on Bellatrix’ face. Harry had always known the woman was mad, but seeing her like this made it perfectly clear that Sirius had not been exaggerating when he said how crazy she was.
Harry blocked the spell and walked towards Bellatrix and Dumbledore.
“So where is my dear nephew?” the woman asked. “The Dark Lord has given us special instructions for when we encounter him.”
“So I have been told.” Harry said. “But he’s not here.”
“Yes, I am.”
“What are you doing?” Harry grumbled. “Get out of here.”
Malfoy chose to ignore him, but it didn’t matter. Bellatrix took advantage of Harry’s moment of inadvertency and shot a powerful Reductor curse at him. He was blown backwards and hit something hard. Everything went black.
When Harry opened his eyes, there was still fighting going on around him, but no one noticed him. He realized he had been blown back by Bellatrix’ curse and hit the stone wall with his head. He saw that Malfoy and Dumbledore were still battling Bellatrix and realized he had probably only been unconscious for a few minutes.
Harry quickly looked around him. He saw that a lot of Death Eaters had fled and a lot of the others were on the ground and being rounded up by Order members and DA members. Only about ten Death Eaters were still standing, but Bellatrix was the only one who was still fighting viciously.
“Now tell me, Bellatrix...” Dumbledore said as he deflected another cutting curse.
“Don’t tell me you want to know how we got in?” Bellatrix sneered. “I thought your brilliant mind would have figured that out by now.”
“Surprisingly, it did.” Dumbledore said calmly. “What I was asking myself is how you knew there wouldn’t be as much people patrolling the corridors as usual. How did you know you wouldn’t be met by Aurors or Order members at the exit of the passageway?”
Bellatrix grinned. “We had a surveyor.”
“Are you telling me that you have a spy inside of the castle?”
“Yes, because I would definitely tell you that if we did.” Bellatrix said sarcastically, using her usual taunting voice again. “We sent someone inside before us, you fool.”
“And exactly how did this person remain undetected?” Dumbledore asked, still perfectly calm.
“That’s easy. The same way her congener did.” Bellatrix laughed when she saw Dumbledore’s uncomprehending face. “Pipes.”
Suddenly her eyes were sparkling in expectation. Harry turned around.
“Professor, watch out!”
But it was too late. Nagini’s long fangs were sinking deeply into the headmaster’s throat.
“No!” Harry shouted. “Confringo!”
The snake was thrown backwards against the stone wall and hit the floor hard. It was stirring slowly, but Harry fired a Sectumsempra curse at it and Nagini’s head was neatly separated from the body. The snake was dead, but Harry couldn’t even think about that now.
Harry kneeled beside Dumbledore and fruitlessly tried to stop the wound in his throat from bleeding, while Malfoy was shielding them from attack. Bellatrix laughed when she saw Dumbledore on the floor and Harry’s despair.
“Everybody back to the passageway!” she yelled to the Death Eaters that were still fighting. “Time to go.”
Harry barely registered the fact that the Death Eaters had left and the fighting had stopped. All he cared about was that Dumbledore would be fine. “Don’t die, Professor. You can’t die. You’ll be alright.”
Dumbledore grabbed one of Harry’s hands and held it in an iron grip. Harry panicked when he saw that nearly all the colour had drained out of the headmaster’s face.
“Get Madam Pomfrey.” Harry shouted at the bystanders, who were looking at them helplessly.
“Harry…” Dumbledore said with difficulty, squeezing his hand as hard as he could. “Harry, it is too late.”
“No, it’s not.” Harry said firmly. “It can’t be. You can’t leave me like this.”
“I am sorry, Harry.” Dumbledore said. He seemed to have more and more difficulty with talking. “But you will be alright. I know you will end this.”
Tears were streaming down Harry’s face as he looked at his dying headmaster. “I can’t end this without you.”
“Yes, you can. You are a great wizard. It has been a privilege knowing and teaching you, Harry. And I’ll always be there…”
The old and wrinkled hand slipped out of the young and strong hand. Dumbledore’s head fell to its side. The Hogwarts headmaster had breathed his last.
Harry didn’t know how long he had been kneeling besides Dumbledore’s body and he didn’t care. If he left him he would have to admit that his headmaster was gone and he would have to go on without him. He didn’t think he would ever be ready to do that.
“Harry.” a soft voice said. Remus knelt beside him and put a hand on his shoulder.
“He’s gone.” Harry croaked. His voice didn’t sound anything like his own.
“I’m so sorry, Harry.”
Harry started crying and Remus pulled him in a tight hug.
“Come on, Harry. I have to get you to the hospital wing. You’re in shock.”
“I don’t want to.”
“Please, Harry. You need help.”
Remus guided Harry towards the hospital wing. They passed a lot of DA members and Order members, but Harry didn’t see one of them. The fact that he just came with Remus without asking him about the others told the werewolf he was doing the right thing taking him to Madam Pomfrey.
When Harry and Remus entered the hospital wing, Madam Pomfrey was already treating Hestia Jones and Lavender Brown, who had both suffered minor injuries. When she saw the two newcomers, she quickly hurried over to them.
“Remus! What happened?”
“He’s in shock, Poppy.” Remus said. “Please, help him.”
Madam Pomfrey noticed that Remus had been crying and she realized that something bad must have happened that he wasn’t telling her about, but as always, her priority was helping her patients. She gave Harry a dreamless sleep potion and within five minutes, Harry had fallen asleep.
“What happened, Remus?”
“It’s Dumbledore. He…”
He didn’t seem to be able to say it out loud, but Madam Pomfrey immediately understood what must have happened. She gasped, but before she could say something, Tonks and Kingsley appeared, bringing more casualties.
Meanwhile on the seventh floor, Professor McGonagall was standing in front of the Fat Lady’s portrait. She was putting off the moment of going inside the Gryffindor common room, where she would have to inform the students of what happened. This would definitely be the most difficult task she ever had to perform as head of Gryffindor house. Finally, she took a deep breath and gave the Fat Lady the password.
Despite the late hour she wasn’t surprised that nearly every student was still awake. Ginny, Ron and Hermione had been guarding the common room in case Death Eaters managed to get in, like they had promised Harry. They were the first to stand up when McGonagall entered.
“Professor!” Hermione said. “Is everything – “ She immediately stopped talking when she took a good look at McGonagall’s face. She had never seen the Transfiguration Professor looking so desperate.
Ginny noticed it too and felt her insides turn to ice. If something had happened to Harry… If he had been injured or worse and she hadn’t been there…
“What happened, Professor?” Ron asked urgently.
“I am afraid I have bad news.”
“Is Harry okay?” Ginny asked. “Where is he?”
“Mr Potter is in the hospital wing, but he will be fine.” McGonagall said. “But – “ Tears were welling up in her eyes. She grabbed a tartan handkerchief and blew her nose. “We have lost Professor Dumbledore.” she finally said.
It had probably never been so silent in the Gryffindor common room before. Everyone was staring at Professor McGonagall, who had sunk down into an armchair after she had given them the news.
Hermione started crying softly. Ron walked over to her and put an arm around her shoulders, but Ginny was walking determinedly towards the portrait hole. If it was true that Dumbledore had died then Harry needed her. She wasn’t even thinking about the effect this would have on the war or the wizarding world or even herself or anyone else. All she was thinking about was how Harry must be feeling now and that he needed her.
When she arrived at the hospital wing she saw that Harry was laying on a bed at the end of the room. Remus and Tonks were with him.
“How is he?” she asked when she saw Harry was sleeping.
Remus and Tonks turned around when they heard her voice. Neither of them seemed surprised to see her.
“He’ll be fine.” Remus reassured her. “Well, physically at least. I don’t know if…” The werewolf sighed deeply, looking at his adopted godson.
“It’s true then?” Ginny said. “Dumbledore…”
“I’m afraid so.” Remus said.
Ginny sat down on the rim of Harry’s bed and took his hand. “I’m so sorry, Harry.” she said, softly stroking his hair.
Harry opened his eyes and smiled when he saw his girlfriend. Than the memories of what happened came back to him and his smile faded. It hadn’t been a dream.
“Ginny…” he said slowly, while Remus and Tonks were tactfully leaving the two of them alone.
“I know, Harry.” Ginny said curling up close to him on the bed. “I know.”
Neither of them knew what to say, but they didn’t need words to understand each other now. They simply held each other close while they sought comfort in each other’s arms for the terrible loss they had suffered.
“Nitwit. Blubber. Oddment. Tweak.” – J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone)
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