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Chapter 24 : The Battle
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Ron came to stand next to Harry as their fellow DA members were running outside. He swallowed as he looked at the fighting in front of them.
“Take care of my sister, Harry.” he said softly.
Harry nodded without looking at his best friend. “You take care of mine.” Then he looked at his five best friends who were watching him in expectation. “You guys stay with me.” He pointed his wand at a Death Eater who was about to curse Dean from behind. “Stupefy!”
“It’s Potter!” several shouts followed. A group of about ten Death Eaters immediately charged towards them, sending green and red beams of light their way. The six teenagers were being driven back into the castle’s entrance hall.
“Don’t bother, Potter.” a familiar voice said. “You don’t stand a chance today. You’d better just give up and spare us all a lot of time and trouble.”
“Lucius.” Harry said calmly. “I’m surprised to see you alive. I thought Voldemort would have killed you himself by now.”
“The Dark Lord forgives his most loyal followers.” Lucius said proudly. “And once I have brought you to him, he will forget everything.” Lucius was slowly walking towards Harry.
“Don’t be too sure of yourself.” Harry said. “I’m not an eleven year old girl. I’m a little more experienced than your usual victims.”
Lucius pulled of his mask. Harry almost didn’t recognize the wizard in front of him. He seemed to have aged years since he last saw him and he had a strange, mad look in his eyes. “Don’t you dare talk to me like that! Crucio!”
Harry quickly raised his trusted golden shield and the Cruciatus Curse was deflected harmlessly. “Stupefy!”
Malfoy blocked his stunning spell easily and grinned. “You’ll have to come up with a bit more than that, Potter. A lot of my colleagues seem to think that you might be a lot more powerful than the Dark Lord expects. But I know that you are still just – “
“Sectumsempra!” Harry shouted. Malfoy, who had been too busy taunting Harry didn’t raise his wand in time. He quickly jumped aside but the spell still brushed his shoulder. He started bleeding immediately.
“You little brat!” Malfoy shouted outraged.
Harry was distracted for a moment, when he saw that Ron had trouble keeping up with the two Death Eaters that were fighting him. He quickly took one of them out with a full body bind, but by the time he had turned back to Malfoy, it was too late. Malfoy’s spell hit him in his stomach and he was blown backwards. He landed flat on his back right in front of the marble staircase. All the air was pushed out of his lungs and what was even worse, he had dropped his wand. Malfoy walked towards him, his wand pointed at Harry’s face.
“It’s a pity. Even I thought that you would be more of a challenge, Potter. Incarcer – “
“Stupefy!” shouted a voice coming from above Harry.
Malfoy blocked the spell and cursed. “You!” he said furiously.
Harry quickly grabbed his wand and jumped back to his feet while Malfoy was distracted, but when he saw who had come to his aid, he was rather surprised himself. “You came back.” he said.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m a bloody hero.” Draco grumbled.
“How dare you attack your father!” Lucius shouted. “How dare you defy your master!”
“You’re not my father.” Draco said firmly. “And Voldemort was never my master.”
Lucius cursed loudly and sent a Cruciatus Curse at his son, who deflected it by conjuring the golden shield that Harry had taught him. They duelled viciously until Draco was knocked unconscious.
“You and me again, Potter.” Lucius grinned.
“Don’t count on it.” Ron said from behind him. He had taken out the last Death Eater he was duelling and started fighting Lucius together with Harry. Suddenly a body landed between them, hit by a stunning spell. Harry’s heart sank when he saw it was Luna.
Lucius quickly grabbed Luna’s limp body and put his wand to her throat. “A friend of yours?” he smirked as he saw Harry and Ron’s fearful faces. “It would be a shame if something happened to her, wouldn’t it?”
“If you hurt her, I swear I will kill you.” Harry said.
“I don’t doubt you will.” Lucius said. “But that won’t bring her back, will it?” He laughed when he saw Harry’s helplessness. “Drop your wands!”
Harry and Ron slowly bowed to leave their wands on the ground.
Lucius’ eyes widened. His wand dropped to the floor and he slowly dropped to the ground, dragging Luna’s body with him. When he had fallen, Harry and Ron saw Draco Malfoy, his wand still pointed at where Lucius had been standing.
The Slytherin was now staring at his father’s body with wide eyes. “I killed him.” he mumbled.
Harry and Ron walked towards him. Hesitatingly, Harry put a hand on his shoulder. “Are you alright?”
Draco nodded slowly. “I did the right thing, right?”
Harry quickly looked at Ron before he answered. “You did what was best. You probably saved Luna’s life. Not to mention mine.”
Ron pointed his wand at Luna. “Rennervate.”
Luna stirred and opened her eyes. Ron kneeled beside her. “Alright?” he asked. “We lost you there for a moment.”
Luna smiled and nodded. “I’m okay.”
“Do you need to see Madam Pomfrey, Luna?” Harry asked concerned. The nurse was also staying in the Room of Requirement during the battle, so she could treat the casualties safely.
“No, I’m fine.” Luna smiled. “I’m not leaving you guys.”
Meanwhile, Ginny, Hermione and Neville were walking towards them. All the Death Eaters that had been fighting them were unconscious and bound in robes, except for Lucius Malfoy.
“Is he –?” Hermione asked.
“Yes.” Harry said. “We had no choice.” He deliberately didn’t mention that it was Draco who had killed his father. He walked towards the other Death Eaters. “Any idea who these guys are?”
“No.” Ginny said. “But they’re not the best fighters. I’m surprised Lucius was with them actually.”
Harry pointed his wand at the nearest unconscious Death Eater. “Ennervate.” He waited patiently until the Death Eater had regained consciousness. “Where is Voldemort?”
The man was watching Harry through his mask with wide eyes, but he didn’t say anything.
“Answer me!” Harry said firmly. “Where is he?”
“I don’t know!” the Death Eater said in a panicked voice. “I don’t know where he is.”
The voice sounded rather familiar to Harry, but he wasn’t sure because he hadn’t heard it that much over the years. When he looked at Malfoy however, he knew he was right. He pulled the mask of the Death Eater’s face and looked at Vincent Crabbe. “Figures.” he mumbled. Realizing Crabbe would indeed know nothing he left him there. “What do you guys think?”
“The Shrieking Shack?” Hermione offered.
Harry wasn’t convinced. “I don’t know. He’s letting his Death Eaters do the dirty work, as expected, but he’d probably want to be close so he could act fast if he needed to.”
“What about the Forbidden Forest?” Ginny said.
“Possibly.” Harry said. “But we’ll need hours to search the whole Forest.”
“Let’s check out the Shrieking Shack first.” Ron suggested. “Voldemort probably knows about the passageway from Wormtail, so he would be rather close.”
“Alright.” Harry agreed. “If he isn’t there, we try the Forbidden Forest.” He walked towards the doors, but before he left the castle, he looked at Malfoy. “What about you?”
“I’m coming.” Malfoy said.
The seven of them left the castle and joined the fighting outside. It was completely dark now, the only light that shone over the grounds was coming from the windows of the castle. They hadn’t set five steps outside when they felt the coldness and despair that could only be coming from one thing. Or in this case ten things. The ten Dementors were quickly gliding towards them, enticed by the hopeful and combative emotions that were radiating from them.
“Expecto Patronum!” seven voices shouted. A stag, a horse, an otter, a terrier, a lion, a hare and a scorpion charged towards the Dementors, who were thrown backwards by the force of the Patronuses.
They quickly made their way towards the Whomping Willow, fighting the Death Eaters that came along their path, but keeping focus on where they needed to go. They had to find Voldemort before too many lives were lost. This war needed to end.
When they had almost reached the Whomping Willow, Harry was distracted by the sight of Remus battling three Death Eaters, struggling to keep up with them. “Stupefy!” he yelled and one of them fell to the ground, unconscious. Ron quickly bound him in robes, while the others took out the other two Death Eaters.
“Thanks.” Remus sighed, wiping the sweat of his brow.
“Where’s Tonks?” Harry asked when he saw Remus was alone.
“She was fighting Rookwood.” Remus said. He tried to sound calm, but Harry knew how worried Remus was about his fiancée. “What about the DA?”
“Everyone’s fine as far as we know.” Harry said. “Now, go find Tonks. We’ll be alright.”
They ran the last few yards towards the Whomping Willow.
“How on earth do you plan to get in there?” Malfoy asked.
Hermione pointed her wand at a twig on the ground. “Wingardium Leviosa.” She guided the twig towards the knot of the tree and suddenly the Willow stopped moving.
“You’re kidding me right.” Malfoy said. “It’s that simple?”
“You have a lot to learn, mate.” Ron said patting his shoulder, before he followed Harry, Ginny and Hermione into the secret passageway. Malfoy raised his eyebrows at Neville and Luna. Neville shrugged and followed the others with Luna and Malfoy closely following him.
Quietly, they followed the passageway that led to Hogsmeade. It took about twenty minutes for them to get there. As Harry had predicted, the Shrieking Shack was as deserted as ever, but they still searched every room. Maybe there was a sign that someone had been there.
“What now?” Ron groaned when they realized that no one had set foot in here since their third year.
“The Forbidden Forest.” Harry said. “It’s the only possibility that I can think of.”
They had only been gone from Hogwarts for about an hour, but when they returned the situation had changed drastically. The Giants, Trolls and Dementors had apparently fled the scene, saving their own skins and a lot of the Death Eaters had been incapacitated. But still it wouldn’t be easy to get to the Forbidden Forest. There was still a lot of fighting going on between them and the edge of the forest. With great effort they pushed their way through the duelling wizards.
“Potter!” A Death Eater jumped in front of them and sent a stunning spell at Harry, which was easily deflected.
“Dolohov.” Harry said, recognizing him from the battle of the one-eyed witch. “I see you recovered quite well from our last encounter. You wouldn’t force me to do that again, would you?”
“Still cocky, aren’t you?” Dolohov sneered. “I must say I was surprised to see you use such magic. Probably learned it from that filthy traitor. Speaking of traitors.” He grinned at Malfoy and before anyone could react, he had pointed his wand at him. “Sectumsempra!”
The curse hit Malfoy in his stomach and he fell to the ground, bleeding profusely. “Neville, Luna, get him inside!” Harry shouted quickly. “Bring him to Madam Pomfrey.”
Neville and Luna quickly did as they were told and Ginny, Ron and Hermione followed Harry’s example, pointing their wands at Dolohov.
“Are you going to kill me?” Dolohov taunted. “Are you going to avenge your new friend?” He pointed his wand at Ginny. “Cruci – “
“Adversum Praecantatio!” Harry shouted before Dolohov could complete his spell. A bright white beam of light shot out of his wand and hit Dolohov in the face. The Death Eater fell to the ground and was screaming out in pain.
Hermione quickly stunned Dolohov and bound him in robes while he was on the ground. “You never showed us that one.” she said to Harry. “Reverse-spell effect?”
“A form of.” he said. “It’s an extremely difficult spell. That’s why I never…”
“You mean to say that he was hit by his own Cruciatus Curse?” Ginny asked.
“Not really.” Harry said. “He just felt the results of his own magic.”
Harry took a minute to catch his breath. The spell had taken more out of him than he had expected. “Come on, we have to go.”
None of them said anything while they were quickly walking towards the Forbidden Forest. They were all thinking about what they had to do, but also about all of their friends who were fighting right now. It would be a miracle if everyone came out unscathed. And Draco was already fighting for his life this very moment.
When they passed Hagrid’s hut, a soft voice called out to them from the gamekeeper’s garden. “Potter! Over here!”
Harry quickly pointed his wand towards where he thought the voice came from. “Who’s there?”
“Come here.” the voice said. “I mean you no harm.”
“Stay behind me.” Harry muttered as he slowly approached Hagrid’s garden. After a few steps he could discern a slim, hooded figure with both hands raised, showing that she wasn’t armed.
“Who are you?” Hermione asked.
Once they were close enough, the figure lowered her hood and Harry recognized her.
“You!” he said, raising his wand again. “What do you want?”
“I have been looking for you for hours.” Narcissa Malfoy said, clearly not impressed by the fact that there were four wands pointed at her. “I have information for you.”
“Why would you want to give information to me? You’re a Death Eater.”
“I was the contact of Dumbledore and Snape inside the Dark Lord’s inner circle, you foolish boy.” Narcissa sneered. “I am the one who warned Snape about tonight.”
“How do I know that you speak the truth?” Harry asked.
Narcissa rolled her eyes. “The truth is a beautiful and terrible thing and should therefore be treated with great caution.*” Harry lowered his wand and Narcissa smirked. “I thought so.”
“Harry?” Ron said carefully.
“She’s telling the truth.” Harry said. “Where is Voldemort?” he asked Narcissa.
“That’s why I was looking for you.” Narcissa said. “But first, where is Draco? Is he alive?”
Harry bowed his head. “As far as we know, he is alive, but he’s hurt. He was hit by a cutting curse from Dolohov.”
“Dolohov.” Narcissa grumbled. “Where is Draco now?”
“Neville and Luna brought him back to the castle. Madam Pomfrey will take care of him.”
“To the castle?” Narcissa paled.
“What? What’s wrong?” Ginny asked sharply.
“The Dark Lord is in the castle. He expected that the members of the Order of the Phoenix would order Potter to stay in the castle while they fought the battle. He used the passageway from Honeydukes, together with his most trusted Death Eaters.”
Harry’s heart sank. He thought about all the younger students in the castle and about Fred, George and Lee who had stayed there to guard the one-eyed witch. And he had sent Neville, Luna and Draco straight towards them.
“We have to go.” he said. “Now.”
*Quote from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.
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