Sunset Over Britain
The Breaking Storm
Severus Snape walked out to the center of the stage and stopped, glaring in the bright lights, his skin pasty white. With a flare he wrapped his cape around his body in dramatic fashion.
Then a giant hand holding pencil came down from above. The hand reversed the pencil and proceeded to erase Snape’s body. Snape’s eyed widened in shock and the hand reversed the pencil again and started to draw in a gorilla’s body to his head. The gorilla was dressed in a French maid outfit.
Snape’s lips trembled.
"Bob and Alyx insist I tell you that they do not own the potterverse in any way shape or form and that they think Snape is not Alan Rickman," Snape said angrily. "Now get me out of this stupid thing!"
The giant hand descended again and erased Snape from the stage entirely.
Hermione turned to look at Harry who was hastily erasing the parchment. "Magic Cartoons Harry?"
Harry managed to look embarrassed.
"Did you have to throw that bit in about Alan Rickman again?" complained Alyx.
"No, but since I knew it would annoy you, I did," replied Bob with a grin.
The RAF had been divesting itself of all of its nuclear armaments. It was expected that the RAF would be without any nuclear armaments by 1998.
During the 1960’s, the RAF developed the WE-177 nuclear gravity bomb. The design and configuration was considered to be modeled after the American B61 variable yield bomb.
RAF Boscombe Down had one unit on hand. The WE-177B was being used by part of the RAF Strike/Attack operational evaluation unit to compare to the American B61 bomb rack pylon connections.
The RAF had held this unit in reserve to ensure that, should it become necessary, they would be capable of quickly adapting their air fleet to carry B61’s once they had destroyed all of the WE-177 stockpiles. This particular unit was scheduled to be among the last of the weapons to be destroyed. It had been defused, but the nuclear material was still inside it.
The WE-177 was what they called in the industry a variable yield device, meaning one could dial in the amount of destruction the bomb was capable of causing. In this particular case, the B model of the WE-177 had a maximum yield of four hundred kilotons, or roughly the equivalent of forty Hiroshima class bombs. This was a city killer, plain and simple.
The order came down via secure satellite communications that the bomb had to be sent to RAF Lyneham where it would board a Hercules aircraft for transshipment to a secure NATO facility on the continent. Conditions within the United Kingdom were rapidly deteriorating and RAF High Command wanted these weapons out of the country until things settled down.
The base commander was reluctant to release an aircraft to move the weapon since it would require attaching the unit to a bomb rack and then removing it at RAF Lyneham. So he opted for an overland route. RAF Boscombe Down had no transport aircraft on hand.
Convoy 626, as it was designated, consisted of two unit technicians who would accompany the unit in the specially reinforced lorry, and a company of military police who would provide convoy security, escorting the convoy to its destination.
It was mid afternoon before the convoy slipped past the gates of RAF Boscombe Down and headed west towards A345 before turning north for RAF Lyneham.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry…
Following the battle a strange silence descended upon the school. People spoke in hushed tones if they spoke at all. Nearly one third of the school had seen two students and a teacher and a former teacher killed right in front of them and the shock was just setting in.
Unsure what to do, Filius Flitwick, as deputy Headmaster, had enough control of the wards to seal the castle. Then he ordered all the prefects to keep the students to their common rooms. Healer McNeil had moved the bodies of Romany Blackthorne and Dean Thomas to the infirmary. The body of Delores Umbridge was outside the sealed doors and unreachable until the doors were opened again.
Up near the Gryffindor common room, Draco and Ginny had finally managed to get Hermione up the seven flights of stairs. She was becoming increasingly distraught. Luna met up with them just outside the common room and held the door open while they helped Hermione into the tower. From there they made their way into the Gryffindor Head Suites.
Luna had grabbed Hermione’s hand and was striving to keep her calm. Her efforts were having a minimal effect on Hermione, but Luna’s broadcasting was calming the entire Gryffindor tower.
"I think we need to contact Remus. Is he at Grimmauld now?" asked Draco.
"No," replied Ginny, "he moved to Padfoot after he was injured. Hermione’s parents and Amelia Bones are the only ones spending their nights in Grimmauld Place. If we owl Amelia, she’ll be able to pass the message along. Blast! Dobby won’t respond when we call, so we have no choice but to owl."
Ginny went in search of parchment while Luna rocked Hermione in her arms on the couch. Draco looked at his girlfriend and wished he could offer more consolation to Hermione than just patting her back. Harry was gone and Hermione’s world had just come crashing down.
Down in the Gryffindor common room, Parvati was weeping in Lavender’s arms. She had been dating Dean and she couldn’t understand why Dean had shot Harry in the back like that. Many of the first years were very upset. Neville arrived in the common room a moment later. He had gone to the infirmary to pick up calming draught for the students.
"I don’t understand," wailed Parvati. "Why would Dean kill Harry? It doesn’t make any sense."
"Sure it does, Parvati," Neville said coldly. A hush fell over the room as everyone strained to hear him. "Ever since Harry was attacked by that spider at the beginning of the school term, we’ve known that one of us had gone over to Voldemort. Dean Thomas was Voldemort’s assassin here in Gryffindor. He was Voldemort’s spy," Neville spat.
"May he rot in hell for what he did," shouted a third year.
Parvati clung to Lavender, weeping and trying to deny her boyfriend was a Death Eater, but the evidence spoke for itself.
"Seamus," Neville said in a low tone. "I don’t know what’s going to happen now, but I think it’s safe to assume the Ministry will be back with more men next time and they won’t stop to talk. Until we know what is going on, I think it would be prudent to put a guard on the door to the common room. Let me know if you need any help. I’ll be in the Head Suite. I need to get some of this calming draught up to Hermione."
Neville turned to leave, but Seamus stopped him. Neville looked at the boy he had shared a dorm with for the past six years. Seamus’ eyes were wet with unshed tears. "You guys were right and we were wrong. I just wanted to say that."
Neville stared at him for a moment, then nodded grimly and moved to the entrance to the Head Suite.
Ministry of Magic, Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Receiving Cells…
Minerva appeared in a holding cell with two Aurors and one body. When Harry fell, his staff fell from his limp hand and automatically resized and snapped back into its holster, which was undetectable. One Auror relieved Minerva of her wand, searching her roughly while the other searched Harry’s body.
"I’ve got one wand and a portkey here," said an Auror.
"No wand here. It must have gotten lost in the firefight. He’s wearing a portkey and a charmed earring. Collecting it now," replied the other Auror. Then he reached down and ripped the pierced earring out of Harry’s ear.
"Shall we move the stiff?"
"Nah, that’s what we have maintenance for. Let them handle it," replied the first Auror.
The two thugs walked to a door in the cell and banged on it. There was a sound of the door unlocking and it swung open.
"We have one Minerva McGonagall, former Headmistress of Hogwarts," said the first Auror.
"Who’s the stiff?" asked a voice.
"Not sure, some kid who put up a hell of a fight trying to protect the bitch," replied the second Auror.
"No problem. I’ll contact maintenance. Step outside of the cell please."
The two Aurors stepped outside, and one turned back to face the former Headmistress. With a taunting grin, he flipped her off.
"Close Holding Pen C!" called the voice.
"I hated that bitch when I went to Hogwarts." Minerva heard as the door swung shut and then locked.
Minerva knelt beside Harry and started to cry softly. He had not only been a student of hers, but he had been one of her lions. He had held a special place in Minerva’s heart since he first arrived at Hogwarts.
She carefully straightened out Harry’s arms and legs. He seemed so pale and cold. She brushed the hair from his eyes, then tried to straighten the rest of his hair with her fingers. In doing so, she touched his torn earlobe and his head jerked away.
Minerva gasped and rocked back on her heels. He was alive? It couldn’t be possible! He had been hit with the killing curse!
Harry groaned softly on the cold stone and moved some more. His eyelids fluttered. She leaned forward watching him closely.
"Harry," she whispered.
Harry’s eyes snapped open and the room lit up in a green glow from the magic burning behind his eyes. Minerva had seen Harry angry and threatening before, but never like this. The air around
him rippled in waves from the magic pouring off him and his arm started to bulge and ripple strangely.
Gryffindor Head Suite…
Ginny walked out of Hermione’s room and into the Head Suite’s common room having unsuccessfully searched it for some parchment she could use. A bracelet she’d found had sidetracked her.
"Hermione, I couldn’t find any parchment in your room, but I ran into this. What is it and why is it making noises?" Ginny asked, holding up Hermione’s charm bracelet. The little snitch was glowing brightly and it was making a pinging sound.
Hermione sat between Neville and Luna. She was holding each of their hands. The calming draught had reduces her weeping to the occasional sob. She glanced up at Ginny and her eyes slowly focused on bracelet. Then her eyes widened and she quickly stood up. Running to Ginny, she snatched the bracelet out of the younger girl’s hand and slowly sank to her knees.
"He’s alive! Oh, sweet Merlin, he’s alive!" she cried.
Draco knelt beside Hermione and grabbed her by the shoulders. "Hermione, concentrate! We saw him hit with a killing curse! Harry’s gone."
"No!" she shouted, then she thrust the bracelet under his nose. "This says he’s alive. He’s hurt and in danger, but he’s still alive! The charm wouldn’t work if he were dead!"
"But the killing curse!" protested Draco.
Neville shocked them all by laughing. "It figures he’d do something like this! The Boy-Who-Lived survived a killing curse at age one, and now he’s done it again!"
Hermione grasped the bracelet to her breast and wept once more, although for a much more joyous reason. "If there’s a way for him to get back here, he will. I know my Harry."
Draco glanced at Neville, who nodded in reply. No words were necessary. Neville got up from the couch and slipped into Hermione’s room.
"Ginny," said Draco, "owl Amelia. Tell her what’s happening and tell her we’re waiting on Harry to show up but that we expect to begin the evacuation any time after he gets back here."
Ginny nodded and rushed out of the room. She’d find parchment somewhere between here and the owlery!
Fugitive Capture team seven and Convoy 626…
Marcus Flint was in a sour mood. But then he had been in a sour mood ever since he’d been demoted and placed on a capture team after that incident in the restaurant. Part of that demotion included a lot of time under the Cruciatus curse to remind him where his place was in the grand scheme of things. Flint’s father had pulled a few strings and gotten his son transferred to his capture team where he could keep an eye on the boy.
Tonight they were after an older couple named Anderson. He was a teacher of Defense Against the Dark Arts at the local school and she was a healer. Marcus took up a defensive position across the street from the modest house, while other members of the team moved to their positions.
Meanwhile, Convoy 626 had been forced to leave A345 and resort to secondary roads within the town of Amesbury. A traffic accident had backed up traffic and would have delayed the convoy such that they would have missed their flight. The commanding officer of the convoy made the decision to leave the main road and detour around the blockage.
Marcus watched his father approach the front door to the Anderson’s home. There was a brief burst of light as his father crossed a defensive ward and he collapsed on the walkway. Thinking that his father had been attacked, Marcus stood from his position and pointed his wand.
"Reducto," he shouted.
In the ensuing confusion, the other team members assumed that Marcus had been given orders to fight so they joined in the fray, hurling their own curses.
The Andersons, now alerted to the danger, began to fight back. So did the neighbors on both sides of the street. The fugitive capture team found itself under fire from all directions. This would have remained a strictly wizard combat zone, but Convoy 626 had been rolling up the street when the fight started. The lead vehicle was damaged and it rolled to a stop. Six heavily armed military police and their commanding officer jumped from the vehicle, taking cover around them.
The military police guarding the convoy didn’t understand the strange beams of light, but one thing was painfully clear. They were guarding a strategic asset of their country, and they were under attack by a force using lethal weapons. The sound of machine gun fire filled the street as the military police began to return fire.
The lorry carrying the bomb was quickly disabled, it’s driver and technicians killed. The commanding officer of Convoy 626 ordered his men to defend themselves while he frantically tried to reach RAF Boscombe Down on his cellular telephone for help. His order was given late and would serve to have little effect, except to throw more confusion into the battle.
Gunfire mixed in with magic being hurled back and forth across the street as three distinct groups, two wizarding and one muggle, battled. The lorry with the bomb in it had been hit several times, ripping away its siding. As a result, the bomb casing was clearly visible.
Under normal circumstances, a bomb undergoes a complex fusing process before it’s capable of exploding. No one has ever experimented to see what magic will do to one, however. One stray blast hit the bomb, penetrated its casing, and initiated the pre-fusion cycle.
A few seconds later, the capture team, convoy 626, the town of Amesbury, most of RAF Boscombe Down, and the Neolithic structure known as Stonehenge ceased to exist as the four hundred kiloton bomb exploded.
A World Awakes to a Nightmare…
Colonel James Travers sat back in his chair and propped his feet up on his desk. Day shift at the North American Space Command wasn’t as boring as working nights. But when the cold war ended, so did most of the utility of the facility. Most days, he spent his time checking satellite orbits and occasionally watching wildfires in real time.
A small ping came from his console, causing him to look up. Several people looked up at the big board as well, trying to spot what the computer was complaining about. Travers bolted out of his chair, staring at the board.
"Isolate and enhance," he ordered a tech.
"Computer confirms analysis, Sir. That’s a nuclear event," a voice said over a speaker.
"Someone find General Brandon and get him in here ASAP," ordered Travers, as he started to flip switches on his console. He then began to speak in a clipped â€˜mil-speak’ language, saved for only the direst of occasions.
"MNCC Duty Officer, stand by to copy flash message… From NASC watch command, we are declaring a nuclear event in the southern United Kingdom. Coordinates to follow. Confirm double flash signature, computer estimates three hundred kilotons minimum yield."
Travers waited for the confirmation of his message before closing the connection, then he sat heavily in his chair.
"Dear God," he whispered. The unthinkable had happened. Someone had exploded a hydrogen bomb in a populated area.
Airline pilots confirmed the blast next. One aircraft was close enough that both pilot and co-pilot suffered retinal damage and were unable to see well enough to land their plane. With the reports from the commercial pilots, the media organizations quickly picked up on it and started to broadcast about the explosion.
Regular programming was preempted world wide as the news spread like wildfire. Surprisingly, the BBC was one of the last media organizations to find out about the explosion and they sat on it for several hours, hoping to get government confirmation. Confirmation would never come as the government slipped a few more notches into anarchy.
Ministry of Magic, Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Receiving Cells…
With Minerva’s help, Harry stood up slowly and she gazed at him in disbelief.
The sleeve on one of his arms was bulging and rippling strangely. As she watched, the sleeve tore and something black leapt from his arm, growing and taking shape as it went. By the time it hit the ground, the Grim came up to Harry’s shoulder. It was huge and it was angry.
The ethereal dog snapped and snarled and paced by the door.
Harry turned to look at Minerva. "Are you alright, Professor?" he asked softly. His voice resonated with power.
"I’m fine, Harry, but what about you? You were hit with a killing curse!"
"I’ll be fine, Professor. Right now I’ve got to get you out of there. This place won’t be safe for much longer."
"What are you planning to do, Mr. Potter?" Minerva asked in her sternest teacher’s voice. She had no plans of losing this student if she could prevent it.
"I’m going to chastise a few people. But that doesn’t matter. I need your help, Professor. You need to get back to Hogwarts, calm the students and get them ready to move. Find Hermione and tell her I’ll be there soon. Let her know I’m alright."
Minerva stared at him for a moment. "But the killing curse…"
Harry grabbed her by the shoulders. "Professor… Minerva… we don’t have time for this. I’m sending you back to the school. I’ll be there after Padfoot and I teach Tom and his band of merry idiots not to think that Hogwarts is an easy target."
Harry concentrated for a moment and Minerva vanished before she could protest again.
He then looked at the large phantom dog. "You ready, boy?"
The large Grim wagged its tail. Harry smiled and flicked his wrist, causing the shrunken staff to fall into his grasp. He quickly enlarged the staff to full size. There was so much magic pouring off him that the crystal on the end of his staff pulsated brightly and the air around him hummed with energy.
He walked to the door keeping him inside the holding cell and tapped the door once with his staff. The door blew off the hinges and flew down the corridor at high speed, crashing through the wall into the office were the Aurors who monitored the holding cells stayed. There were shouts from that office.
Harry smiled and nodded to the Grim. The huge dog bounded out of the room and headed straight for the office with Harry following. The dog hit the door and went crashing through. From inside came shouts, the sound of spells being cast, then screams. Somewhere an alarm started to go off, it’s wailing pitch echoing through the halls, adding to the confusion.
Harry checked and found the other two holding cells empty. He wasn’t sure whether to be relieved by that or not. Stepping into the office, he saw that the Grim had torn the throats out of three Aurors. Smiling coldly, he spotted a stairway with a sign reading â€˜To Level Two’. He could now place himself within the building, and he was very close to the Auror Headquarters. He opened the door to the stairway and stepped onto the lower landing.
He looked up the stairs and spotted the door to level two. As he watched, it was suddenly flung open and five people rushed onto the stairs. Harry held up a hand and all five people exploded in a shower of blood, flesh and bone. The Grim bounded past him and up the stairs. Harry followed.
Climbing the stairs, he entered Auror Headquarters proper. Padfoot had trapped several Aurors in a corner and they were firing spells, which passed through the ethereal dog. Harry levitated a heavy desk and threw it at the Aurors. The desk landed with a heavy crash, breaking through the wall crushing the Aurors under its weight. Outside of the large office area he could hear shouts as reinforcements took up positions, waiting for him to come out.
He banished the door and waited. He didn’t have to wait long. Dozens of spells flew in through the open door way. Padfoot snarled and bounded out.
Deciding that going out the door was a bad idea, Harry blew the entire wall out, spraying everyone outside with lethal high speed fragments. Then he raised his staff, the crystal flared, blinding everyone in front of him. Stepping through the rubble, Harry paused now and then to concentrate. As he did, Aurors exploded. Padfoot danced through the crowd, hamstringing people then going for the throat. None of the ready-duty Aurors managed to escape.
A nearby door opened and a tall black man stepped off the lift. Harry smiled, spotting Kingsley Shacklebolt.
Shacklebolt froze in his tracks when he spotted Harry. He was rushing to help with the escape from the holding cell and hadn’t expected to find the escaped prisoner standing amongst the wreckage of Auror Headquarters.
"Kingsley," Harry murmured, his eyes flaring.
Kingsley howled in pain as his wand, and the hand holding it, flashed to ash.
"You know what happens to traitors, don’t you, Kingsley?" Harry asked softly.
Kingsley moaned and held the stump of his arm in his good hand. "Harry, no please." he moaned.
"You betrayed the Order, you betrayed your friends, and you betrayed the light. Kingsley. Now you’ll burn for it, slowly and painfully," Harry said as he stepped past him. Padfoot growled and snapped at the stricken Auror.
"No, Boy. He’s being punished, he just doesn’t know it yet," Harry murmured. The large Grim looked at Harry for a moment, then followed him into the lift car.
Kingsley swayed and breathed a sigh of relief. He had been badly wounded, but he’d survive and live to fight again. He slumped to the floor, then hissed as a burning sensation started in his feet. He fumbled with one hand trying to get his shoes off as smoke started to pour from them.
Harry never heard the howling of the slowly cooking Auror one level below.
Gryffindor Head Suite…
Minerva appeared in the small common room of the Head Suite. Hermione was kneeling on the floor weeping and clutching a bracelet to her breast. Draco jumped back in surprise when Minerva appeared and cursed loudly.
"Professor? Bloody hell! What the hell is going on?" Draco said loudly.
Luna stood and walked over to him. "Hush, Draco." she said simply, and then looked at Professor McGonagall. "Professor? Are you alright?" asked Luna.
"Aye, I’m fine, Miss Lovegood," she replied, and then she knelt next to Hermione.
"Hermione, he’s alive. I don’t know how, or why, but I’m not going to question it. He’s alive and he told me to tell you that he’d be here soon." McGonagall said to the girl. Then she looked up at Neville.
"Mr. Longbottom, find Professor Flitwick, tell him I’ve returned and expect him to meet me in my office in five minutes."
Neville nodded and dashed for the door.
"Excellent. The rest of you start getting the crates of portkeys out. Harry said we’ll be starting the evacuation almost immediately upon his return," McGonagall said.
Nodding, the others sprang into action.
It was the banging on her door that awakened her. "Amelia!" shouted Dan Granger through the door.
Throwing on a robe, she unlocked the door and threw it open. "What? What is the emergency Dan?"
"It’s the sign, Amelia! We need to get word to Harry and Remus. It’s happened!"
Emma showed up behind Dan, also wearing a robe. Apparently, Dan had not retired to bed yet. Dan turned to his wife when she touched him and he grabbed her.
"It’s the sign, Em! Hermione’s second prophecy! Oh, sweet Jesus, someone actually did it!" he said, and then he sagged against her.
"Sign? Prophecy? Dan what are you talking about?" demanded Emma.
"Overseas news services are reporting a nuclear explosion in the vicinity of Amesbury, Emma. All those people," he said, then started tremble.
Emma held her husband for a moment, while what he had said sunk in, and then she clutched at him in horror.
"Will someone please tell me what’s going on?" asked Amelia plaintively.
Dan nodded and released his wife. Then he motioned for both of them to follow him to the muggle room where he had set up the short-wave radios.
Once there, Dan pulled up a map on the computer, which showed Amesbury and the surrounding area. Amelia nodded. This was technology she was used to seeing, even if she only understood small parts of it.
"Not long ago, someone set off a nuclear weapon within the city of Amesbury," he said and waited, watching her.
Amelia looked perplexed. "I’m afraid I don’t understand, Dan."
"Amelia," Emma said gently, "a nuclear weapon is the most dangerous muggle weapon ever built. Amesbury has ceased to exist. Depending on the size of the bomb, there will be thousands of victims and the land will be poisoned for years to come."
"It was a big one Em, a city killer. The fireball consumed everything for miles around, including Stonehenge. Remember the prophecy?" he said, then he rooted around in a pile of paper and parchment until he found a copy and showed it to the two women.
"…A STAR WILL BURN BRIGHT IN THE REALM…NIGHT WILL BECOME DAY AS DARKNESS DECENDS…AND THE SOUND WILL SHAKE THE FOUNDATIONS OF ALL BELIEF…WHEN ANCIENT STONES ARE TURNED TO ASH…A SCORE OF DAYS ARE ALL THAT IS LEFT…BEFORE THE FAITHFUL MUST FLEE…A STAR WILL BURN BRIGHT IN THE REALM…"
"Ancient stones. And that prophecy is an apt description of a nuclear explosion. We have only twenty days before Voldemort assumes full control," Dan said in conclusion.
"We need to get this information to Harry and Remus right away," Amelia said, then she shuddered at the implication of being able to kill a city of people with a single device. No Wizard, not even Voldemort, could do that!
"Dobby?" Amelia called.
There was a popping noise and Dobby appeared before the adults, looking up at them with large worried eyes.
"Dobby," Amelia said gently, "we need you to get messages to Harry and to Remus. Can you tell them that Hermione’s second prophecy has come to pass?"
"Miss Hermione’s seconds prophecy is come true? I tell them!" Dobby said excitedly and then he vanished with a pop.
The three adults looked at each other in relief and Dan went over to one of the radios and flipped a switch so that everyone could hear the reports.
"There is no word coming from the British Government at the moment and rumors has it that the Prime Minister has already fled the country. Flyovers by American and French military aircraft are confirming that a strategic nuclear weapon has exploded in southern England.
"According to sources at the Pentagon, the explosion was centered around the city of Amesbury and was far too large to be the result of terrorists. One Pentagon official is quoted as saying that "…this was either an act of war by a foreign power, or an accident with one of the United Kingdom’s own nuclear weapons…."
"In other news, the United States admits that the explosion of a nuclear device in southern England is the reason why US Military forces have gone on high alert, recalling all personnel to their duty stations. Pentagon officials are refusing to confirm that the U.S. Military have moved to DEFCON TWO.
"In Brussels, NATO spokesmen are confirming a higher alert status for all of their member forces…"
Dan flipped the radio to mute when he saw Dobby had returned. Dobby stood there staring at them, his large eyes filled with tears.
"There is big troubles at Hogwarts. Ministry men come to school and take Professor Pussycat and they say Master Harry too…" then the little elf choked. "..theys say Master Harry was hit with a killing curse. I’s can no longer feel Master Harry!" the little elf wailed. Large droplets fell from his eyes.
Amelia paled and sat heavily in a chair. Emma sunk her head in Dan’s shoulder and started to weep.
"Oh, Dan," she choked, "Hermione must be devastated."
"Amelia, we must get to Hogwarts. Can you make portkeys for the three of us?" Dan asked urgently.
Amelia broke from her reverie and nodded, then reached for a magazine to use as a portkey.
"Dobby," she said over her shoulder, "go to Remus. Tell him we’re starting the evacuation now."
Dobby nodded and vanished.
Headmistresses office, Hogwarts…
Minerva looked up from the cup of tea a house elf had given her as the door opened admitting Professor Flitwick and the rest of the staff.
"I must say, Minerva, I am very pleased to see you back where you belong. Is it true about Harry?" asked the little Professor.
Minerva passed a hand over her face wearily, trying to wipe away some of the exhaustion she felt.
"Aye, it’s true. I don’t understand how he managed it, but Harry has survived his second killing curse," Minerva said softly, her tone filled with wonder. "Filius, I know it’s late and the students should be in bed, but I think we should move everyone down to the Great Hall. I don’t know what Harry is doing at the Ministry, but I dare say we’re down to the final two minutes of the football match and I expect Ministry men to start breaking down the wards of Hogwarts any hour now."
Professor Flitwick nodded. He didn’t know what football was, but he understood what she was trying to say. This was what they had prepared for since Christmas. "I’ll see to it right away, Minerva. May I suggest you try to get a little rest before joining us in the Great Hall?"
Minerva nodded and watched Filius leave her office. With a trembling hand, she reached for her cup of tea again.
Ministry of Magic, Entrance Atrium…
Harry had long since lost count of the numbers of maimed and dead he had left behind. He had destroyed Level Two of the Ministry Building, and then moved on to Level One before ascending once more to the final floor just below the street entrance.
He paused in the Entrance Atrium and looked at where the fountain of Magical Friends had once stood. Less than a year ago, Dumbledore had dueled with Voldemort in the Atrium, destroying the fountain. The fountain had been rebuilt, but the statues had not been replaced.
Padfoot growled and Harry’s gaze moved in the direction that the giant Grim was staring. The bank of magical lifts showed that all of the cars were in motion, coming up.
"I don’t think we should allow that, boy," he told the Grim.
Padfoot wagged his tail in agreement, but watched the lifts with burning eyes.
Harry held up one hand and all of the doors opened, stalling the lifts in place. He turned to the fountain and gestured with his staff. Water flashed to steam. A moment later, magma poured from the mouth of the fountain. The magic held against the intense heat and, rather than melting away, the fountain’s basin quickly filled with lava. The lava soon overflowed the basin and began to creep across the floor towards the open lift shafts.
Harry watched for a moment as the first of the flows hit the open shafts and started to pour onto the stalled cars below. Screams echoed back up to Harry and the Grim.
Padfoot walked over to one of the open shafts, completely ignoring the lava it stood in. Once there, it rose one hind leg and urinated into the deep hole. The large Grim then turned and walked back to Harry’s side, tail wagging happily.
"Well boy, the little volcano of ours should last another hour or so. I think it’s time we went home, don’t you agree?" he asked the Grim.
The Grim wagged its tail again and pranced around Harry.
Lucius Malfoy staggered into Voldemort’s chamber. His robe was still smoldering and it looked like he had broken his arm somehow.
"Lucius?" Voldemort said in surprise.
"My lord. We’ve been attacked at the Ministry. Most of the building was on fire when I left, and we lost many Death Eaters."
"Attacked? Who did this?" snarled Voldemort.
"I’m not sure, my Lord. We captured some people from Hogwarts, and it was one of them. Minister Richfield was killed by the lava," Lucius said, afraid to tell him the damage had been done by one person, Harry Potter.
"Lucius, come here," Voldemort said softly.
Lucius stepped forward, trembling. Voldemort’s hand shot out, gripping him by his arm. Lucius hissed in pain as Voldemort used his dark mark to summon his servants, then he started to shake violently as Voldemort poured more and more power into the mark. The Dark Lord wasn’t just calling his inner circle. He was calling for a full summoning!
When Voldemort finally released him, he slumped to the floor. Voldemort stood and stared at Lucius for a moment, then turned to one of his other servants. "Bring me my armor. I want to be dressed properly before we go to meet my followers."
Turning back to Lucius, he whipped out his wand. "Now. I will see this attack you claim happened to the Ministry, Lucius. LEGILIMENS!"
Lucius rolled over on his back and started to scream. He continued to scream for a long time.
Hogwarts, Great Hall…
It took some time before everyone was assembled in the Great Hall. Filius had alerted Minerva that the Grangers and Amelia Bones were at the edge of the wards, trying to find a way in. Minerva dropped the wards long enough to allow them entry onto the grounds. Filius met them at the doors. Once they were inside, she raised the wards again. Hogwarts was locked up tight.
It was a subdued and dazed student body that assembled in the Great Hall. Everyone was talking when Minerva stepped into the entrance of the hall with Amelia and the Grangers right behind her. Minerva blinked and dodged a brown haired streak as Hermione ran to her parents.
As the student body noted McGonagall’s presence, they sat at their tables and watched in surprise as she walked calmly to the Head table. There, she turned around and faced the students.
Amelia went over and sat next to Susan, while the Grangers led Hermione over to her friends and sat with them. The emotional roller coaster that Hermione had been riding for the last several hours had her clinging to her mother and crying softly. Emma held her daughter tight to her, while Dan watched with a grim expression.
"Attention! May I have everyone’s attention, please?" Professor McGonagall called loudly.
"I’m sure many of you are confused by the events of the last few hours, so let me see if I can explain what’s happening. Hogwarts is now under a complete lock down. Forces of Lord V-V-Voldemort have assumed control of the Ministry of Magic and are, even now, spreading their influence and evil among the Wizarding World.
Many in the hall gasped in shock at the pronouncement. Several of the younger children started to cry.
"Some few of us, under the leadership of one of the greatest Wizards this school has ever seen, have been preparing for this eventuality. Even now, as the Ministry reaches out to take Hogwarts, plans have been made to keep you safe."
This announcement was news to the staff of the school. Only Professor Flitwick, McGonagall and Danni knew of Harry’s plans. Professors Sprout, Vector and Sinistra, as well as Hagrid and Trelawney looked at Professor McGonagall with surprise and suspicion.
"We will, hopefully, be leaving this place very soon for one that is safe. In the meantime, all houses will spend their evenings here, together in the Great Hall. First through Third years will come with us when we leave the school. The older students will be given a choice to come with us or not."
"No, Professor," came a weary voice behind her, "everyone is coming. I will personally deal with the Slytherins and anyone else who doesn’t want to be there, once we get to safety."
Minerva turned to face the Head table. Someone screamed in the hall and everyone stood up.
Harry Potter stood behind the Head table, swaying slightly. A five-foot tall ethereal dog was standing in front of him, growling at everyone. Harry said a quiet word to the dog and started to move to the side of the table so he could come around in front. His footsteps were faltering and his gait drunken. Padfoot followed him, watching him closely and eyeing the others warily.
Hermione pulled away from her parents and shoved her way to the front as quickly as she could. She stopped when Padfoot looked at her and growled.
"It’s alright, boy. You can trust her," Harry said hoarsely to the dog. Padfoot walked over to Hermione and sniffed around her a few times. Then he wagged his tail and gently grabbed her hand between his teeth and led her to Harry.
She stopped only a foot away from him as if she didn’t believe that he was really there. He swayed and she immediately reached out and grabbed his shoulders to steady him.
"Hey," he said, grinning at her. "I missed you."
Then his eyes rolled up in his head and he sagged into her arms. Minerva and several others moved to help, but Padfoot growled them back. Hermione lowered him to the floor then looked up at the dog.
"Padfoot, sit! Stay!" she commanded.
The Cemetery at Little Hangleton…
It was the first general revelry Voldemort had called since his return to a corporeal body nearly two years ago in this very cemetery.
Voldemort looked out over the ranks of nearly three hundred Death Eaters and frowned. The attack on the Ministry had cost him far more Death Eaters than he had initially thought. Potter! The name echoed in his head, going around and around like a pinwheel. He had seen who had been responsible for the attack on the Ministry and tonight he was going to pay for it. Tonight it would end, once and for all, and he, Lord Voldemort, would be victorious!
Glancing back at his Death Eaters, he finally approached the slightly raised platform. Nagini, his familiar, flowed silently along the ground next to him.
"My servants!" he shouted. "Tonight, we take what is ours. Tonight we assume mastery of our world and mastery of our fates! Tonight we attack Hogwarts!"
The crowd before him began to cheer and he smiled at the repeated shouts of "Voldemort! Voldemort!". It was nearly as intoxicating as torturing muggles!
"Lucius," Voldemort called. "Unleash my muggle army. I wish to own this land."
Lucius nodded and backed away from Voldemort in relief. He wouldn’t be called upon to participate in the attack, and that was, to his mind, good news. It also meant he had time to see a healer. The Master cared little for the pain of his servants and Lucius was suffering from a broken arm, burns and pain from his Master’s Legilimency.
Lucius made his way up to Riddle Manor, which wasn’t far from the cemetery. Behind him he heard the popping sounds of dozens of Death Eaters apparating to Hogwarts.
Hogwarts Great Hall…
The large dog blinked at Hermione and sat immediately. Minerva and Danni rushed forward to help Hermione with Harry. They pulled him up to a sitting position and Hermione moved so he was leaning against her. Danni ran a diagnostic charm and muttered to herself while searching a small bag she carried.
Danni pulled out a vial opened it, and waved it under his nose. In a moment, Harry was coughing and waving his hand in front of his face. As soon as he was awake she pulled another vial out and opened it.
"Harry, this is combination of Pepper-Up potion and a strength restorative. Drink it," she commanded, holding the vial to his mouth. Harry instinctively drank the offered potion. For a moment nothing seemed to happen, then steam started rising from the top of his head and his face turned a strange bluish color for a moment.
Harry shook himself slightly and he reached down and grabbed one of Hermione’s hands. He pulled her hand up and gently rubbed his cheek against it. She tightened her grip on him. She had plans to yell at him later. Right now just wasn’t the time.
"Harry, what did you do to the Ministry?" McGonagall asked.
"I’m afraid I’m a wanted criminal now, Professor. But then, there isn’t much of the Ministry left to chase after me. I sort of filled the place with lava and I know for a fact that I killed Richfield," he replied wearily.
"â€˜Sort of filled the place’? How did you manage that?" asked Hermione, still holding him.
"I transfigured the fountain in the atrium in to a miniature volcano, then I opened the doors to the lift shafts. This was after I destroyed three levels of the building, and probably killed most of the Death Eaters on duty," he said, the last part dropping to a whisper. He trembled in Hermione’s grip and she whispered words of comfort in his ear as he fought with the grief of what he had been forced to do.
"Harry, we have to get the children out of here," Minerva urged.
"I agree, Professor, but we’re still bound by the second Prophecy. You begin the evacuation and I’ll hold the castle until it’s…"
"Harry, you’ll do no such thing," Emma said, stepping into his view. "The second prophecy was fulfilled earlier today."
Hermione looked up sharply and asked the question Harry didn’t want to ask. "How? Where?" she gasped.
Emma gazed at her daughter and her chosen mate and felt as though she was a hundred years old, rather than in her early forties. "Amesbury, late this afternoon. The foreign media say it was a nuclear weapon in the three hundred kiloton to half a megaton range. Stonehenge was vaporized along with most of the surrounding countryside."
Emma’s words meant little to the witches and wizards clustered around Harry and Hermione. But to those two, the words would be forever etched into their souls. Harry curled in on himself. He remembered vividly the educational films from school which had shown pictures from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Dan pushed forward in the crowd and knelt by the two of them. Hermione was clutching at Harry and trying not to weep and Harry was sinking into his own despair.
"Harry, Hermione, we don’t have time to grieve. We have plans to put in motion," Dan said, shaking Harry.
Harry blinked and looked up at Dan, then his words pierced the fog that seemed to surround his mind. Straightening, he stood up, and noticed that Hermione hadn’t been able to push the grief aside yet. He pulled her to her feet, and then wrapped his arms around her tightly. He spoke to her in a low voice, calming her.
Once she had collected herself, Harry turned, still holding her tightly with one arm. "Dobby!" he called.
There was a popping sound and Dobby appeared in front of Harry. Before he could say anything, Dobby was hugging both Harry and Hermione’s legs. A moment later, an embarrassed Dobby stepped back and looked up at them both with adoration in his eyes.
"Dobby, you are the only elf I know who can carry this message. I want you to find Remus. Tell him Case Green is a go and he is to activate Team Weasley again. Can you do that for me, please?" Harry asked the little elf.
Dobby straightened up and looked proudly at Harry. "Dobby can do!" he said and vanished with a pop.
Harry looked to the end of the hall where the rest of the outcasts stood. "Well? What are you waiting for? Everyone knows what they are supposed to do," Harry said in a loud voice.
Draco and Luna nodded and started to talk to the others. Terry and Neville ran from the hall. Harry turned back to say something to Minerva when the Great Hall echoed with a bell like tone. Harry’s eyes glazed for a brief moment.
"He’s coming," he murmured. "Voldemort’s at the outer edge of the wards with three hundred Death Eaters. They’re trying to break in."
Harry gestured and his staff dropped from its holster into his hand and expanded to full size. "Professor, I’ll hold them off while you get everyone out. Everyone goes. Make sure you send a staff member with the first group to keep the kids calm."
"Harry, no! You can’t fight him now. You’re too weak from that curse and what you did at the Ministry," Hermione protested, her eyes echoing the fear in her voice.
Harry turned to her. "Hermione, I’m the only one that can face him. We both know that."
Neville and Terry came back into the Great Hall. Terry ran to one side of the hall and started pulling miniaturized crates from his pockets and expanding them. Neville ran up to Hermione and held out her staff.
Hermione took her staff and her own eyes glowed with a glint of power. "I’m not letting you stand up to that monster alone, Harry. I promised you once I’d be by your side, and by Merlin, you aren’t going to stop me from being there!"
Harry knew it would probably come to something like this, but that didn’t stop him from looking shocked once she’d made her decision. She’d always been stubborn in some things. Shaking his head at her, he grinned. Wrapping an arm around her waist, he gestured towards the main doors of the castle with his staff. "Shall we welcome our guests to Hogwarts, my love?" he asked in a strangely gentle voice.
She nodded and the pair vanished in a blink. Emma turned and buried her head in Dan’s chest. "Oh, Dan!" she cried. Her only daughter and her future son-in-law were off to face a madman.
"Draco!" shouted Terry. When the Slytherin turned towards him, Terry levitated a small crate over to him.
Draco plucked the crate out of the air and handed it to Luna. Then, hand in hand, the pair left the Great Hall.
Hogwarts Approach Road…
When Minerva activated all of the wards and locked down the school, it meant that no one would be able to enter the school grounds. Harry had passed through the wards when he returned from the Ministry, but the average wizard lacked the ability to do so.
Voldemort and his Death Eaters were forced to apparate to Hogsmeade and walk the distance to the school. Concerned that the villagers might come to the aid of the school, Voldemort indulged his followers lust for blood in the village before moving them out onto the road. They left Hogsmeade a burning ruin.
Now Voldemort paced in front of the school’s wards while nearly forty curse breakers worked to bring them down. The group was involved in a complex ritual that required precise coordination, so Voldemort kept his distance from them. He did not want to distract them.
The school loomed in the distance, mocking him, and it was making him angrier by the minute. It was just a few hundred yards away, but with the wards in place, it might as well have been on the moon.
"Look! Someone’s come out!" shouted a Death Eater.
Voldemort turned and watched three figures standing in front of the doors to the school. Two were human, the third seemed to be that of an enormous dog. The taller figure turned to the shorter and they spoke for a while. Then both began to glow an eerie blue. Turning they began to slowly walk down the approach road. The dog followed closely behind.
The two figures stopped about ten yards inside the wards.
Draco and Luna entered the library and Luna immediately opened the crate that she had been carrying. Inside the crate were other crates, all neatly shrunk and packed within the first.
Luna pulled out two crates and opened them facing a shelf of books. She nodded to Draco and he traced a complex motion in the air with his wand.
"Redigo quod repono," he intoned.
Books began to fly off the shelves. Each book moved toward the open box, shrinking as it went. The books landed neatly in the crate and, when the crate was full, the books went to the next available open crate.
Draco had to keep repeating the spell, while Luna kept opening new crates. As she did, she sung a little song about her love and one of his more appealing physical aspects. Draco shook his head and tried to ignore the urge to kiss his girlfriend senseless.
Hogwarts Great Hall…
"May I have your attention, please?" called Professor McGonagall.
The crowd of students quieted down and faced the Head table in the Great Hall. Minerva nodded to herself and stood up.
"In a little while, prefects will escort you back to houses. You are to pack all of your belongings right away. We are going to be leaving the school soon…"
"What if we don’t want to leave?" called someone from the Slytherin table.
"Stupefy!" shouted Ginny and a student at the Slytherin table collapsed. Then Ginny climbed on top of the Gryffindor table. She looked around for a moment, her hands on her hips. "You have a choice. Either come with us to a place of safety, or remain behind to face the wrath of your â€˜Lord’ when he discovers an empty school. Now pay attention to the Headmistress and shut up!"
Ginny unconsciously waved for Professor McGonagall to continue and more than a few Gryffindor’s snickered at her audacity, then she climbed off the table.
"Thank you, Miss Weasley," said McGonagall dryly. "Now, as I was saying, you will pack your belongings, your books, your clothes. Once packed, a prefect will summon an elf to bring your trunk down to the Great Hall. From here, you will leave via portkey to the Haven School of Witchcraft and Wizardry."
"Now prefects, escort your students to their houses. I want everyone back here as soon as possible," she concluded.
Amelia Bones moved to McGonagall’s side. "Minerva, unless you think I can be useful here, I’ll go to Padfoot and make sure they’re getting everything ready there to receive you."
McGonagall nodded gratefully. "Aye, that would be a big help. I don’t know how many families have used the portkeys yet, but we might want to alert them, if possible."
"According to the last report I’ve heard, there are roughly one hundred and fifty families of students already at Padfoot," she said quietly.
McGonagall nodded. "Hopefully there will be more soon," she replied. Far too few families had used the portkeys they had been given.
The two older women exchanged a look, then Amelia grabbed the portkey she wore around her neck.
Minerva looked around and spotted the Grangers standing off to one side. "Mrs. Granger, you would be most helpful if you could keep track of the students as they are sent off." she offered.
Emma’s eyes lit up and she nodded eagerly, taking the conjured list of students and a quill from the Headmistress.
"Mr. Granger, why don’t you see if Terry and Susan need help? They will be handing out the portkeys," asked McGonagall.
Dan nodded moved to speak with Susan and Terry.
Neville and Ginny left the Great Hall carrying a crate between them.
Hogwarts Approach Road…
"Hi, Tommy!" shouted Harry Potter as he waved cheerfully at the Dark Lord. Hermione just flipped him the bird.
Padfoot walked to the very edge of the wards and lifted a leg urinating in Voldemort’s direction.
Voldemort snarled and stepped forward. He hit the ward and bounced about thirty feet back. Climbing to his feet he snarled, "Damn you, Potter!"
"Now Tom, that’s not nice. I’d expect that sort of bad language from an ill bred pure blood, but you’re a half blood, raised by muggles! You know better because muggles taught you manners!" Harry replied, grinning.
Hermione stood slightly behind Harry. His shield was strong enough to catch anything thrown at it, but it was her job to make sure no one was able to sneak anything up on them.
A murmur rippled through his Death Eaters at Harry’s words.
"How dare you talk to me like that! I am Slytherin’s heir!"
"Oh, really? Do you know how to find Slytherin’s chamber?" challenged Harry with a smirk.
Voldemort paused in his rage and his brow furrowed in confusion. Harry started laughing softly. "I’ll take that as a no, Mister-I-am-Slytherin’s-Heir," he called out in a light tone.
Dolohov, having survived Harry’s trip through the Ministry tonight, spotted Hermione and he stepped up to the edge of the ward.
"Avada Kedavra," he snarled, pointing his wand at her.
Hermione’s eye’s bulged and she felt a momentary flash of panic. She tried to duck and then the unthinkable happened. The curse hit the shield and bounced off in another direction.
The curse hit one of Voldemort’s curse breakers in mid chant. All of the curse breakers had been involved in the ritual to break the wards. The loss of one of their number was sufficient for five others to faint, while the rest doubled over and threw up. The ritual collapsed to the sound of Harry laughter.
Voldemort’s eyes widened in surprise and for the first time, fear.
Harry turned his attention back to Voldemort who stood glaring at him. "Tommy, I’m going to try to be reasonable about this, but if you don’t agree, then we’ll do things the hard way."
"Avada Kedavra," Voldemort said, his wand pointed at Harry.
Amelia appeared in the foyer of Padfoot Manor and was surprised to see that the Manor was in total chaos.
"Amelia!" Remus shouted, attracting her attention as she wormed her way through the crowd of people.
"Remus? What’s the problem? Why is everyone here?"
Remus ran a hand thought his silvering hair. "It’s a bloody, balls up mess, Amelia. We only just realized that the portkeys at Hogwarts will bring everyone to the front lawn of Padfoot, not to the receiving center, or the school, or even the town. We’re trying to figure out how we’re going to handle some three hundred students…"
"Five hundred," Amelia corrected quietly.
Remus blinked at her in surprise, and then he smiled. "He’s taking everyone then? I thought he would!"
Amelia grabbed him by the robes. "Remus, I need to talk to you alone, right now," she said urgently.
Remus stared at the older woman and he could see the plea in her eyes. Remus turned to Arthur and Bill. "Arthur, some five hundred students will be arriving tonight, not three hundred. Can you and Bill take over here, while I speak with Amelia?"
Arthur nodded and Remus turned to lead Amelia into a nearby sitting room. Tonks spotted them and joined them.
Once inside, Amelia turned to face the couple. "The two of you might want to sit for this."
She waited for a moment, but neither showed any signs of sitting. "Very well. Earlier this evening, the Ministry came to Hogwarts to arrest Minerva, ostensibly for the disappearance of Ronald Weasley. According to all reports, Harry was struck with, and survived, another killing curse."
Tonks swayed and Remus grabbed her to hold her steady. Her eyes filled with tears.
Amelia held up a hand, stopping them from commenting. "There’s more. Hogwarts is under total lockdown at this point. Harry arrived back at school, but only after he’d killed the Minister, and destroyed the Ministry. When I left the school, Harry had gone out, despite his exhaustion, to face Voldemort."
Remus walked to a nearby day bed and both he and Tonks sat heavily on it, staring at Amelia.
"He knows not to fight him, Remus. But what’s keeping him going at this point is beyond me," Amelia said softly. "I will say this. After tonight, that young man will be a legend, whether he wants it or not."
Hogwarts Great Hall…
Minerva watched as the first group of Hufflepuffs returned to the Great Hall.
"Pomona," Minerva said, calling the Professor over.
"I want you to go with this first group, Pomona. The children are going to be frightened and upset. Your presence will calm them."
Pomona Sprout frowned. She had known Minerva for many years and she trusted the Headmistress, but she didn’t really want to leave her students behind. The first group back only consisted of some third year Hufflepuffs.
"Minerva," Sprout started to protest.
"I’m afraid I must insist, Professor," Minerva said firmly.
Sprout sighed and nodded. She walked over to where the house elves had set up twenty trunks in a circle.
"First group! Over here, please!" called Terry Boot. He then handed Susan Bones a hula-hoop. She walked to the center of the circle made by the luggage. Laying the hoop on the floor, she stepped into the hoop and pointed her wand.
"Engorgio," she intoned and the hoop grew in size until it was touching every piece of luggage.
"Come give me your name, then find your trunk and sit on it," Emma said. One by one the students walk over to her and gave their names, which she then crossed off her list.
Professor Sprout released the prefects to return to Hufflepuff house for the next batch of students. Nearby, great numbers of Hogwarts elves were piling up, waiting to drop off their burden of student’s trunks.
Susan checked to make sure every trunk had a student. "Alright you lot, everyone bend over and pick up a piece of the hoop at your feet. Hold it steady and stay seated on your trunk."
The group lifted the hoop and held it, looking uncertainly at Susan. She smiled back at the younger students. "Don’t worry, you lot. Professor, if you would kindly grab onto the hoop as well?"
Professor Sprout touched the hoop, holding a section in her hand. Susan walked over to one side where she tapped the hoop twice with her wand. The Professor and twenty students vanished from sight.
As soon as they were gone, the elves moved forward, placing more trunks in a circle. At the entrance to the Great Hall, a group of first year Gryffindors who had been waiting moved into the hall.
"Do you think we’ll have enough crates?" Luna asked Draco. She had finally stopped humming and became more serious as she picked up on the worrying that Draco was doing.
Draco looked at the empty crates he had and did a quick count of the shelves still left to empty. They were now working their way through the restricted section of the Library.
"I think so," he replied, "but it’s going to be close."
He glanced out the window and nibbled thoughtfully on one finger. The wards around the school were flickering. He wasn’t sure what was causing it, but it couldn’t be good.
Greenhouse Number Two…
Ginny watched with admiration as Neville expertly culled certain key crops from the greenhouse. Unlike Draco and Luna, who were stealing the entire library, Neville and Ginny’s mission was far more sinister.
They were supposed to remove certain crops from the greenhouses. Then, at a prearranged signal, they were to leave some delayed action explosive hexes in Greenhouse Number Six.
Hogwarts Approach Road…
Once again the beam bounced off the glowing shield that surrounded the two of them. The rebounding beam killed another nearby Death Eater.
"Tom," Harry said sadly, shaking his head, "you need to understand. We can’t fight. Not here, not now. The Prophecy, you know." Then he paused for a moment. "Oh, that’s right, you don’t know the prophecy. Your Death Eaters failed to get you that," Harry said with a shrug.
"You will be begging for mercy before I’m done with you, Potter. First I’ll kill your friends, and then I’ll kill you, slowly. I’ll kill you like I killed your useless parents," Voldemort sneered.
"In case you’ve forgotten, Tommy, I ripped your soul from your body that night. Me. A babe not yet two years old. And now I stand before you and you can’t do a damn thing about it, half blood," Harry shouted cheerfully.
Several Death Eaters screamed defiantly at his word and five killing curses were fired at Harry and Hermione.
Padfoot lunged at the throat of a Death Eater. There was a terrible scream as the ethereal animal passed through the wards and ripped the throat out of the black robed man.
Three of the five killing curses rebounded into other Death Eaters. One rebounded straight at Voldemort causing him to dive headlong into the grass to avoid it.
Hermione had been watching Harry carefully and she was becoming worried. He had been very clear about one thing. The shield around them would stop anything, including a killing curse, but they could not cast through the shield. And with each killing curse, it took more and more power from Harry to maintain the shield.
To the casual observer, Harry appeared fine, but Hermione could see signs of the stress he was under. His body trembled slightly every now and then, and his voice had a disjointed, almost flippant tone. He started to pace and he took to running a trembling hand through his hand. She kept glancing back at the castle waiting for the signal that the students were gone.
Voldemort whispered something to one of his followers and a group of Death Eaters detached themselves from the rest. They moved back a few yards and started casting a power draining spell on the wards. From their wands a dull gray beam issued. The beam combined with those from other wizards so that it was a thick rope of gray light when it struck the wards. The rope brightened and the wards began to visibly flicker.
Harry motioned and Padfoot leapt at one of the Wizards. Curses flew through the air as the other Death Eaters tried to protect those draining the wards. Many of the curses passed right through the ghostly Grim, but a few seemed to slow it down. A few of the curses that passed through the Grim struck other Death Eaters, adding to the mayhem.
Harry realized that time was running out. He had to do something now. Glancing over his shoulder, he looked at Hermione. "It’s time for you to leave. I have to drop the shield and do something or they’re going collapse the wards," he said desperately.
"I told you I’m staying by your side, Harry, and I meant it," she hissed angrily at him.
"What’s this? A lovers quarrel?" Voldemort taunted in a silky tone. "You know, Potter, your family has no luck with women. Your father told your mother to take you and run, and she refused him as well. Now your own woman refuses you. I don’t know why you put up with such disobedience."
Hogwarts Great Hall…
Minerva watched as another group of twenty left. A few Slytherins had to be stunned and she was seriously considering leaving them behind.
"How many are left, Minerva?" asked Professor Flitwick.
"Five groups, I think, Filius. We have less than one hundred students left, and I think you should go with the next group," Minerva replied.
Flitwick nodded and walked over to the current group that was forming up.
Minerva motioned to one of the house elves. "Would you tell Pappy that I need to speak with him please?"
A moment later, a wizened old house elf appeared in front of Minerva.
"Professur McGonagall," exclaimed Pappy.
Minerva pulled her gaze away from watching another group of students vanish. "Ah Pappy, good. I know Harry Potter’s elf, Dobby, was supposed to talk to you…"
"Dobby is bad house elf! He free elf! No elf is free," retorted Pappy.
"Yes, I know, Pappy. But do you remember his conversation with you?" pressed McGonagall.
Pappy nodded reluctantly.
"Good. I want you to listen carefully and understand. We are fleeing Hogwarts. The Dark Lord is coming and nothing will be able to stop him. Very shortly there will be no one here in the school and it will be empty," she said softly.
"Dark mans coming? He will owns Hogwarts?" Pappy asked in fear.
"I’m afraid so, Pappy," replied Minerva sadly.
"Dobby was telling the â€˜truuf!" exclaimed Pappy in wonder. "Professur, we help yous to leave. When school is empty, we go to Dobby. He promised us homes and families."
Minerva smiled as a wave of relief pass through her. At least the house elves would flee.
"Minerva?" Emma called, "this is the last group of students."
Minerva nodded. "Tell Terry to save one portkey and destroy the others. We’ll use that portkey to leave. The others have their own, but they’re supposed to make it back here before using them."
Emma waved in acknowledgment.
Minerva then activated one of the internal Hogwarts alarms in test mode. The castle rang with the sound of braying elephants.
"The first group has arrived!" came the shout.
Arthur Weasley looked up from instructing the elves.
"Ok people, lets get everyone moving," he called.
The elves had set up a large tarp with a series of tables underneath it. One long table was loaded with food.
He stepped out the front door of Padfoot. Several house elves had erected torches to light the area. The first group of students was all clustered together, looking decidedly frightened.
"Everyone, follow me," called Professor Sprout.
Arthur hurried over to the Professor.
"Mr. Weasley? What are you doing here?" Professor Sprout asked in confusion.
"I’m sorry, Professor, but there was a mistake in the making of the portkeys. You and your students are actually about two kilometers from the school," he said waving a hand in a direction away from the Manor.
"We’re going to get the students under the tarp for now, then we’ll moved them to the new school once they’re all together. Once you’ve moved this group under the tarp, come back. The house elves will see that they get something hot to drink and some sweets to occupy them. We’ll have some adults with them. But I need you to move the students as they arrive."
She stared at the elder Weasley and watched as several other adults coaxed the students to the food waiting for them. With the students out of the way, the house elves swarmed over the trunks moving them aside. A moment later another group of students arrived.
Teacher’s instinct kicked in and Pomona Sprout moved towards her charges. "Alright you lot, everyone over to the tents over there. Don’t worry about your luggage."
Arthur relaxed a bit and nodded to Remus who had just come from the Manor. "This will work, Remus. I’ve got Bill waking up the town, trying to alert the parents. He’s also telling them to be sensitive to those children whose families are not here yet."
Remus nodded grimly and watched as the third group arrived. "Harry is bringing the entire school. That’s going to be at least a hundred more families who didn’t receive the portkey letter."
Arthur expression turned grim. "Do you want to add them to the list of muggles we’re supposed to start picking up?"
"Let’s try owl post first, Arthur. You’re going to have your hands full as it is, rescuing thirty muggle families."
Arthur nodded in relief. As the two men walked around the area, more students continued to arrive to the safety of Padfoot.
Hogwarts Approach Road…
For nearly an hour Harry had been taunting and teasing Riddle. His shield had dealt with nearly a dozen more killing curses. Hermione, in her worry, finally latched on to the back of his pants and was keeping a firm grip on him.
Harry glanced up in confusion when he heard the sound of braying elephants. That had to be the first signal! The students were gone from the school. Now it was just a matter of waiting for the second signal, which should come any minute.
"Hey, Tommy, I forgot to apologize for destroying the Ministry tonight. I realize that it makes it difficult for you to have any sort of legitimacy without the Ministry backing you up," Harry offered with a grin.
Voldemort snarled and paced at the edge of the wards. Over the past hour he had personally cast the Cruciatus curse on several of his servants and killed three in rage because he couldn’t strike back at Potter.
The whole episode at the wards edge had turned into a nightmare for Voldemort. His men had seen that he was powerless to do anything to Potter and that was something he simply couldn’t have!
"You know, I think you’d be a lot nicer if you’d just get laid now and then," Harry offered. "Learn to lighten up, Tommy. Find yourself a nice cuddly woman like I did and have some fun with your life!"
Hermione’s eyes widened in shock. Here was the most dangerous Dark Lord of all time and Harry was offering him advice on sex?
Voldemort leaned against the wards and, rather than being thrown back this time, the barrier sparked and held him in place. He snarled and waved. Several other Death Eaters leaned against the wards. The wards had weakened to the point where they were able to start to push their way through.
The elephants brayed again and Harry smiled broadly.
Harry felt himself pulled backwards into Hermione. She had shrunk her staff and placed it in a pocket earlier so she was able to wrap both arms around him. He blinked in confusion and then he felt the familiar pull behind his navel. The wards, Death Eaters and Voldemort vanished from sight.
Voldemort staggered as he slipped past the last resistance of the wards and looked up. He screamed in rage as Harry Potter and his slut vanished before he could do anything about it. Then it dawned on him. He was through the wards! He motioned to his servants and in a moment nearly three hundred Death Eaters were pushing through the greatly weakened wards.
From the direction of the castle, Voldemort heard the sound of explosions. He turned to two servants. "Go find out what’s exploding and report back to me!"
The two Death Eaters took off at a dead run. Voldemort heard a noise behind him and he spun to see that most of his Death Eaters had fallen to the ground. The additional strain on the wards had caused them to collapse, removing all resistance and dumping most of his servants on their faces in the dirt.
With the wards gone, Voldemort led his servants toward the school. He was nearly to the entrance to the courtyard when he heard a scream. One of his servants came running from around the corner of the building being followed by Acromantulas. The man got only a few more steps before being overwhelmed by the dog sized spiders.
The Death Eaters stood in shock for a moment, then hundreds of curses cut loose as the spiders surged forward.
Hermione cursed as she staggered from the landing. It was hard enough to stay on her feet when she was by herself, but holding onto to Harry made it nearly impossible.
Arthur Weasley saw the pair arrive. He had been greeting his daughter and Neville when Hermione and Harry appeared. Harry’s face was a chalky white, his eyes were open, but only just barely.
He leapt to Hermione’s aid before they fell. Grabbing the two, he helped Hermione steer Harry over to a chair. He seemed confused, and he kept blinking rapidly.
"Where’s Danni?" Hermione asked urgently.
"I think she’s outside with the students," offered Bill. "I’ll go get her."
Hermione knelt in front of Harry. He had been going for so long on his magic and adrenaline. Now that it was washing from his system, he was on the verge of a collapse.
"Harry, look at me" she urged. He turned his head and stared at her, his eyes blinked rapidly and his body began to shake.
"H-H-Hermione?" he whispered.
"Yes love, I’m here. We’re safe now. You need to stay awake until Danni arrives," she said, then she turned "Someone find a healer, damnit!" she snarled.
Emma stepped forward and placed a hand on Hermione’s shoulder. She knelt next to her daughter. "Hey Harry." she said gently.
Harry looked at her uncomprehendingly for a moment, and then he smiled. "Hi mum," he whispered. His head rolled forward then and his eyes started to close. His breathing was very slow and very shallow. Emma felt for a pulse and her eyes widened in alarm. She held his chin and she looked him in the eye.
"Harry love, you have to stay awake for the healer."
"I’m trying, mum, but I’m so tired… just want to sleep…" he mumbled.
"Harry!" Hermione protested, in tears. "Don’t you dare leave me!"
He popped one eye open and he smiled gently at her. "…not going to leave, just sleep…" he whispered.
Bill rushed back into the room leading Danni. Dobby followed carrying a large box with all of her supplies in it.
Danni assessed Harry’s condition and pulled a needle from the box of supplies, then a vial. She plunged the needle into the vial and filled it. Then, in a single motion, she turned and plunged it into Harry’s thigh.
Danni took Harry’s chin in her hand and tilted his head so she could see him. "Harry, you’re dangerously exhausted. I have some potions that will give you energy and then you’re going to sleep. But I need you to stay awake long enough for me to give them to you."
Harry nodded weakly. "Mmm… I’ll be able to sleep with Hermione?"
Hermione blushed at his comment and Emma snickered.
"Harry, if it will help you sleep and recover, I’ll put any girl you want in the bed," Danni replied with a smile. Hermione glared at the healer.
"Don’t want any girl…," Harry mumbled, "…want my Hermione…"
Hermione smiled, while Danni pulled potions from the box Dobby had.
"Oh, he’s a keeper alright," murmured Emma.
Once again we turn to the dreaded Author’s notes. This is the space where we hold kittens hostage and insist on you sending us donuts or we refuse to finish the story. No? ok, well that didn’t work. I suppose you want us to apologize for last chapters cliff hanger? No? You want more? I suppose we can accommodate you. Heh.
We have to admit, Harry whined and moaned and at first we thought he wanted to get laid again, but no, he really wanted to play with his magic in this chapter so we opted to let him play to his hearts content. We hope you enjoyed it, but if that little bugger whines again like that we’re going to feed him Ron burgers.
We didn’t make Harry an Animagus in this story and many people kept asking what his form was. We were tempted to make him a sea cucumber or something equally useful like a pushmepullyou but we changed our minds. So we opted to put the issue to bed once and for all. He is not an animagus. End of problem.
Ok to all those people asking that we write a story hooking Harry up with Tonks, Minerva, Hagrid, Narcissa and Amelia etc. PLEASE STOP! We are in favor of hooking Harry up with contemporaries of the female sex. We’re not into May/December stories thank you very much.
Usually when you see Harry making snide comments about Voldies blood lineage its because he’s making a public statement not because he believes in any of that bigotry.
For those looking for proof that Ron is dead (Bob points to his plot outline and nods grimly). There you have it. Unless we decide to bring him back from the dead as some sort of zombie like spider mutant thing…. nah…. hahahahaha.
For those other authors that want to have us mention them in our story, we have some specific requirements. For one thing, you need to (a) have stories that we actually like and (b) don’t use anonymous reviews to ask that we include you, and (c) tell us where we can find your stories. In the meantime time we highly recommend to everyone that they read the story by anonymous reviewer. Don’t ask us where to find it.
For all those people that have been hounding us for chapter 23 because of that evil cliff hanger in chapter 22? We laugh at you and refuse to publish 23 knowing full well… What’s that Alyx? This is chapter 23? Oh… nevermind.
Yes we spelt the killing curse wrong. We know it and wish to thank the 2.7 million people that pointed that out to us. Alyx had ironed her fingers as punishment and I have stapled my head to the monitor so that won’t happen again. In the meantime I suppose we could make a case of Harry didn’t need to survive a killing curse because Dean was too stupid to spell right!
OK Now we’re pissed!!! We just checked the lexicon and we looked. We DID NOT MISSPELL the killing curse. To all those people that had to repeat AVADA KEDAVRA in their review we have a crucio for you. You do realize that Alyx has ironed her fingers don’t you? And I’ve got a friggen monitor stapled to my head! What if it rains?
For all of those people that are going to write and insist that Britain has no nuclear weapons, or the queen is gay or something equally silly. STOP. I will not only ignore your nitpicking I will delete those reviews. We have made a reasonable attempt at ensuring some measure of accuracy in the background portions of the story. But its fiction for Christ’s sake, enjoy it as fiction and stop picking on us.
Authors that look to reviewers for inspiration and plot lines. (This doesn’t really need any explanation. You know who you are and you know you’re doing wrong!).
STOP IT!! (Alyx’s iron is still hot!)