Chapter 15 : 15- The Defeat in Victory
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Secondly, I know there is a bit of uncertainty (at least around my friends) about the future of HPFF. I'd like to reassure all fans of this trilogy that it will be backed up and posted on to other websites under the same name (SiriusAura92). But let us hope it does not come to that.
Merry Christmas once again, have a Happy New year and enjoy Chapter 15.
15- The Defeat in Victory
Ear-splitting, inaudible noise flooded the scene. Many of those who had marched on the Russian Ministry were now scrambling to escape by way of the nearest foot path but the perimeter the Italian flyers had set up proved too solid for them. Those who had decided to fight until their last were instead being overpowered by the sheer numbers though they were eager to stand for as long as they could.
Harry slashed his wand at every Alliance loyalist he set his eyes on, but still his main focus of hunting down their leaders stuck out in his mind. He felt someone back into him and the pair turned to point their wands only to lower them again.
“Part of your plan?” Naomi asked indicating their reinforcements.
“Sure, why not?” Harry replied with a slight smile escaping him. “Seen the Bowtons anywhere?”
Naomi shook her head before indicating the surrounding battle. “It wouldn’t surprise me if they’d gone down with the rest of their forces.” She then nodded her head at the medal Portkey still stuck to Harry’s shoulder. “I guess you won’t be needing-” But before she could finish, Naomi froze as she stared over Harry’s shoulder.
“What?” Harry asked as he spun around, thinking of more Dragons or reinforcements from the Allience. But what he saw made his heart grow just as cold. Enzo was duelling with the sister twin, Morgana, by the wall on the opposite side of the courtyard. The pair were fixated on one another, each desperately aiming for the kill as rebounded and evaded curses emanated from their duel.
Without another word Harry ran to his aid, ducking the curses that still flew around the courtyard and weaving around their casters. He’d just hexed a Witch who’d been sending off Killing Curses when he noticed a blood stained Cade pointing his wand at his sister’s opponent.
Harry attempted to aim his own wand but he was too late. There was a flash of white light and he was forced to watch the spell hit the back of Enzo’s knee. Crumpling from the unexpected attack, Enzo fell to his knees in a silent shock before Morgana who had already aimed for his chest.
The jet of bright green light struck the Italian Auror and Enzo Mulvenna slumped dead to the ground.
Harry stared breathless at his friend’s body as though it were some kind of trick. Enzo couldn’t be dead. They were winning. He, Enzo, had been at the head of the army that had sealed their victory. How could he be dead?
Cade had reached his sister and had gripped her hand before pulling her away, the pair of them firing curses at any nearby Auror as they began their attempt to flee.
“No!” Harry roared out as the rage set in and he charged after the pair. Clearly they’d heard him as they spun around together and fired off a pair of curses simultaneously at him. With a quick swipe of his wand, Harry deflected both of the spells back at their casters but while Cade ducked to avoid the counter-attack, his sister was blasted backwards and thrown into the stone wall.
With fury at his sister’s assault plastered onto his face, Cade charged at Harry, their next spells colliding in mid-air as they met.
Cade attempted another Killing Curse but Harry was quick to side-step it before using a rage-fuelled Unforgivable Curse of his own. “Crucio!” The curse launched Cade across the cold, hard stone before leaving him writhing in pain on the cracked and bloodstained ground.
“Give it up Cade!” Harry shouted, his curse continuing to pin down his opponent. “You’ve lost! And if you think Mosby will have you back after this, I’m afraid you’ve got another thing come-” Something hard and solid slammed into Harry’s stomach, making him buckle over and lose focus on his curse.
Gasping for air, he raised his head to see Morgana staggering back to her feet, her wand still pointing at him.
Harry was preparing to throw himself out of the way of her next attack when an Auror intervened and grabbed her attention. While the Auror and the sister duelled, Harry turned his attention back to Cade while desperately trying to regain his breath.
Cade, though still clearly shaken from Harry’s curse, had just gotten back to his feet when another figure ran in to interrupt. Cade had to jump back in order to parry this attack but Berkoff’s laugh was still full of triumph.
“You see Cade,” He called to his opponent as he readied for another blow. “Why vould I give up this fine opportunity, huh?” Though it was clear that Cade was far from throwing in the towel and the two began spiralling around one another as they began their own fight to the death.
“Watch out Berkoff!” Harry spluttered as he watched Morgana hurry to Cade’s side, the Auror she had been fighting lay on the ground behind her in a pool of his own blood.
Harry began opening fire on the Witch but after his first spell missed she was ready for those that followed. Despite Harry throwing curses as quickly as his still winded body would allow, Morgana was still capable of parrying and deflecting them though the assault certainly had slowed her down and Harry could feel himself getting quicker with every breath.
“Morgana!” Cade bellowed and the next thing Harry knew was Berkoff being thrown into him, breaking his concentration on the sister.
“You won’t get rid of me dat easily.” Berkoff growled as he climbed off of Harry.
Getting back to his own feet, Harry turned to see the siblings continuing their dash towards the mountain path. He and Berkoff wasted no time in beginning their pursuit.
Harry attempted to send spells after the fleeing twins, but was fearful of hitting one of the many battling Aurors that now crowded the courtyard. Berkoff appeared to be having the same problem as he bellowed the order to get out of his way.
All the twins had to do was reach the mountains where what remained of the Ministry’s enchantments had no power and they would be free to Disapparate. Knowing that they were almost at the exit, Harry was forced to shove an Auror out of his way to even get an aim. A single jet of blue light shot from Harry’s wand tip and caught Morgana in the leg just as Cade reached the stone archway where a pair of giant oaken doors once stood.
Her grunt of pain however seemed enough to dissuade Cade from going further as he turned to look for his sister.
“Got you.” Harry heard Berkoff growl as a shining streak of purple light flashed before him.
There was a loud bang and a heart-wrenching shriek from Morgana as the stone archway collapsed with the unknowing Cade beneath it.
“No!” Morgana wailed in a pain-filled howl and Harry felt the shockwave of her next spell as she blasted Berkoff into the air.
“You killed him! You killed him!” Was all she shrieked as she began swiping her wand at Harry.
But Harry found it almost easy to deflect her attacks, so poorly-aimed and rushed were they, and within mere seconds she had been knocked back to the ground once again by one of her own spells.
“Expelliarmus!” Harry said coldly and her wand flew from her hand and behind a number of Aurors who were rounding up a couple of prisoners.
“Vare is she?” Harry heard Berkoff cry. “Vare is she? I’ll kill her like her scum brother!”
Harry stared at his disarmed opponent as he advanced on her. She wasn’t even attempting to get back up and fight, just lying where she had landed with tears streaming down her round, dirt covered face.
He wanted to finish her; to do to her what she had done to Enzo and countless others and strike her dead. But the loud wails of pain and grief she was still emitting seemed to hit something inside of him.
No, he thought to himself. Remember Cecilia? Remember when you showed her mercy? And if you don’t, he will.
“Vare is she?” Berkoff continued to ask.
It was only a matter of time before he spotted her or before someone told him where to look.
Harry aimed carefully at her heart. But after a particularly loud, ear-piercing scream of pain, another thought trailed into his mind. Killing her would be the mercy.
“Potter!” Berkoff cried. He’d spotted them. “Potter, stand down! She’s mine!”
But Harry didn’t lower his wand. Instead, his other arm pulled off the star-shaped Portkey still stuck to his shoulder and threw it at Morgana, sticking it to her own robes.
There was a flash of bright blue light and Morgana vanished.
Harry continued to stare at the spot she had once been until he was literally shaken out of it by Berkoff.
“She vas mine.” He hissed. It was clear that the spell Morgana had hit him with had taken its toll as he clearly favoured one leg over the other and the arm he once used to sport his wand lay motionless at his side.
“I’m sorry,” Harry said innocently. “I didn’t realise we had to call dibs on Dark Wizards.”
The battle was won. The Russian Ministry was now crammed with Aurors, both living and dead. The wounded were being treated in one of the ground floor’s larger workspaces, with beds taking up the spaces desks once sat at and Healers, who had arrived moments after the official all-clear had been given, running around as they turned the dust-strewn workspace into a fully functioning medical bay. The Aurors who had died fighting were being carefully brought in and laid out further down into the entrance hall of the Ministry.
The majority of the Italian Aurors were assisting the Healers in tending to the injured or else were helping in moving more of the dead from the grounds while others patrolled the area; looking out for stragglers.
After a long argument and several reassurances Bruno eventually succeeded in forcing Harry to see Healer but it wasn’t until the Healer had handed him a mirror that Harry fully understood why. At first he could’ve sworn a completely different person was staring back at him. There wasn’t an inch of bare skin to be seen on his face through all the dirt, soot and blood. At some point during the battle he’d received a nasty gash at the back of his head and a large burn to one of his legs, his joints and muscles were swiftly becoming more and more painful to move and it wasn’t until the Healer had tapped her wand against his ear that he realised he’d had a loud ringing within them the entire time.
The gash on his head had just finished healing, leaving a neat, thin scar, when Harry saw Enzo’s body being brought in. Pain, that had nothing to do with any injury he’d suffered tonight, struck Harry hard in the chest.
“Drink dis.” His Healer ordered as she shoved a large glass of purple liquid into his hands. “It’ll put you in a vell deserved sleep and rid you of your joint and-”
“No.” Harry said, handing the potion back to her as he stood up. “No sleep. Not yet. Thank you.” He added as he walked away, his muscles burning as they started moving again.
Bruno was standing at the doorway to one of the courtyards talking quietly to a small group of his Aurors. They were engulfed by early morning sunlight making the golden threads on their robes glow in a beautiful and, in Harry’s opinion, in a rather calming shade of brightest gold.
“I never really got the chance to thank you.” Harry interrupted as he approached. They all turned to face him as he approached.
“None are needed, Harry,” Bruno said tentatively with a small smile. “You should be resting.”
“There’ll be plenty of time for that later.” He replied. “But there are more important things to do than rest. Bruno, how many did you lose?”
Bruno glanced sadly at his fellows before answering “Thirty-one.”
There was an eerie silence after Bruno said this. “I’m sorry.” Harry said consolingly.
Bruno bowed his head. “They knew the risks and they died fighting a worthwhile fight.”
“Then I think we should take them home and make sure that their sacrifices were not in vain.” Harry said softly though it was clear Bruno could see through the tone.
“Right now?” He asked.
“If I’m guessing the time difference correctly your Ministry should have just opened its doors to its workers.” Harry pressed. “And the sooner, the better. Before word of what happened here reaches them.” And Harry then inclined his head towards Enzo’s body. At the sight of it, Bruno seemed to understand everything Harry was getting at at once and immediately became very compliant.
“I’ll arrange a small number of my Aurors to help us. Meet us in the courtyard in about thirty minutes.”
After a sharp nod, Harry turned to leave as Bruno turned back to his Aurors and began speaking in a much more hurried tone.
Naomi was at the far end of the workspace with a Healer massaging a lime green potion into her arm.
“Up for another trip?” Harry asked as he approached.
“Depends,” Naomi said as she winced in pain as the liquid was rubbed into a nasty looking cut. “The place we’re going to, it’s not under siege is it?”
“That’ll be a manner of perspective.” Harry said. “We leave for Italy in thirty.”
“Potter!” A rough voice called out. Harry had been so focussed on Naomi he hadn’t noticed Berkoff lying in one of the beds opposite. It was as though the straight-backed, confident Wizard that Harry had first met in Lance’s Office had aged fifty years into the injured man now forcing himself into an upright position.
“You’re staying here Berkoff.” Harry stated. “You’re in no condition to travel and-”
“Do you truly believe for a moment dat I vould leave my Ministry at a time like dis? No, I just heard vere you’re going.” There was then a malicious glint in his sharp grey eyes that made Harry feel uneasy. “Give dat bitch vat she deserves.”
A sickening image of Enzo crept into Harry’s mind, preventing him from answering. Instead, he merely gave Berkoff a short, sharp nod before walking off.
Thirty minutes later, Harry found himself in-between Naomi and Bruno at the head of over fifty Italian Aurors; the majority of whom were positioned by a fallen fellow.
“Will they be enough?” Harry asked as the three surveyed the courtyard’s inhabitants.
“I believe so.” Bruno answered as he fumbled a long quill between his fingers.
“We could at least cover them.” Naomi suggested as she stared at the corpses at the Auror’s feet.
“No,” Bruno replied sharply. “They will not be hidden. People will see what they have sacrificed.”
“Well then, if you’re ready.” Harry prompted, turning to Bruno. Several silent seconds passed as Bruno glowered at the quill in hand before he finally nodded and led the three down the once pristine stone steps. As they walked, Bruno shouted something to his Aurors that Harry couldn’t understand, though he felt he knew the gist of the order. Where Bruno’s Portkey would take them and what they were about to do there.
With one final bark of an order, Bruno’s Aurors arranged themselves so that those who had hold of a body also had hold of someone who was in contact with the Portkey. There was a flash of bright blue light and, before Harry knew it, the ruined and smoking sight of the Russian Ministry was replaced by the pristine, flowery entrance to the Italian Ministry of Magic.
Someone had done an excellent job in repairing the large wooden doors that was the only physical entrance and exit since Harry’s last visit for they stood as strong as they had done before they were blasted apart by Harry’s captors. But regardless of how unyielding they looked, Bruno strode towards them and at his approach they swung open as though a powerful gust of wind had blown through.
Following Bruno’s lead, Harry and Naomi walked on either side of him as his Aurors flooded into the flower strewn yard, the fallen Aurors hovering a few inches off the ground by their side.
Harry then noticed Bruno whip out his wand and aim it into the air as they walked. Several streaks of coloured lights flew into the air before exploding high above them with an almighty crack, each one louder than the last.
The early morning starters who happened to be in the courtyard stared at the spectacle with wide, shock-struck eyes. More and more people came running into the courtyard at the sound of the noise until the Aurors were completely surrounded by a thick wall of muttering Ministry workers; all eyes on the dead.
There was a loud shriek of an order from behind the crowd in a voice that Harry recognised immediately. At once people were stepping out of the way to allow Alice Mulvenna though, the group she had trusted to discuss Harry’s fate with right behind her.
“Bruno!” She shouted before her eyes found Harry and Naomi. “Potter, Supreme Mugwump...? What… What is the meaning of this?” She demanded. Bruno didn’t say anything but instead stepped out of the way to allow her to see the thirty-one dead men and women that had died fighting. The Minister’s eyes however were frozen on just one of them; the one that had been right behind Bruno. “Enzo!”
The shriek of pain threw Harry back to when Morgana had watched her brother die. There was that same cold silence that followed the wail, the same combination of grief and agony within the voice.
The Minister ran to her brother and knelt by his floating corpse so that his head reached her chest. As she stroked his hair tears began streaming down her pale white face before a second howl of pain pierced the ears of everyone surrounding.
There was a brief moment when Harry wanted to scream at her; to tell her that her stupidity and fear was the reason behind Enzo’s death and that she didn’t deserve to mourn. But the thought passed upon seeing Enzo’s face. He wouldn’t want that.
Time seemed to freeze around them. For what felt like hours the workers of the Italian Ministry watched as their Minister grieved. Harry had just noticed that the siblings shared the exact same shade of hair colour when Naomi stepped forward and addressed the group that had accompanied the Minister. “I need to address your Magical Council. Assemble them. All of them, even if it means waking a few up and tell them that the Supreme Mugwump demands their presence.” There was a certain commanding tone in her voice that made Harry feel a tingle of pride warm his chest amid the chill of grief and exhaustion.
“Who..? How..?” Mulvenna croaked as she looked up at Harry and Bruno once her entire possy had run to fulfil Naomi’s order.
“Russia had been placed under siege, as you already knew, Minister,” Bruno started with a bitter and anger filled tone to his voice. “These men and women volunteered to help and fought bravely and valiantly and it’s because of their sacrifice the Russian Ministry stands today.” Bruno then moved towards the back of the line of bodies and stood at the head of woman. “Tamari here died fighting a Dark Wizard by the name of…” And one by one Bruno listed how each of the Aurors met their fate, in both English and Italian so that all could hear and making quite sure not to leave a single detail out to the distress of some of those listening. “And finally, Enzo,” Bruno said once he’d returned to his original position. “Who was the first to volunteer, died fighting against the Bowton Twins, two of Mosby’s most entrusted loyalists, one of whom is now dead while the other is the custody of the Mongolian Aurors.”
“One of them is alive?” Mulvenna said in a quiet, shaking voice. “I want them.” She snapped and before Harry knew it she was on her feet, her now puffy face filled with rage and no more than an inch away from Bruno’s. “I want them! I want them here! I want them now!”
Bruno stared blankly at his Minister for a moment before looking over her shoulder towards his Aurors and giving them a silent nod. The Deputy Head Auror then tuned away from his Minister and walked away through the crowd of onlookers and towards one of the Ministry’s towers.
Bewildered, Mulvenna spun around to see that the Aurors were following their leader’s suit and were marching after him, their fallen friends by their side.
“No!” Mulvenna cried as she watched Enzo being marched away. “No! Come back here! Come back! Don’t ignore me!” Louder and louder she shouted and she even began yelling at them in Italian but none of the Aurors even so much as glanced at her and before long they were gone and out of sight.
Minister Alice Mulvenna stood there, the majority of her Ministry staring at her. “Everything I did…” She said to Harry, who was the only one not looking at her. “I did to bring peace.”
“We all want peace, Alice. You just made it with the wrong people.” And with that, Harry followed the rest of the Aurors with Naomi by his side.
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