Biting the Hand that Feeds You
A Harry Potter fic by Andrew Joshua Talon
Disclaimer: This is a non profit fan based parody. Harry Potter is the property of J. K. Rowling and Time Warner. Please support the official release.
Written with Scriviner...
Just behind the ragged and rather disgusting barricade of giant parts, Malfoy's worker wizards and witches were clustered around the only car in the parking lot.
They knew it was something special, but they didn't know any more than that. So they hovered close by without actually touching it.
They could have stayed in the warehouse, even in the much expanded dorms, but while everyone knew that Mister Malfoy was very… what was that word? Egalitarian? A Muggle-lover? Whatever he was, he seemed to care about the muggles.
The wizards, poor, hard-luck purebloods from Diagon Alley to the witch and wizard, were a little leery about staying with so many muggles. No matter that they were being kept pacified with repeated applications of a Fascination Fish. Oh, everyone knew Master Malfoy wouldn't do anything that would've hurt them, but... well... muggles, right? Who knew?
So they were out here. In the open. Where they could get a good view of the battle unfolding between the ex-Aurors young Master Malfoy had hired against those giants. He even went so far as to lead his friends in the charge against the giant Bellatrix LeStrange.
So brave he was.
It was going so badly though. The Aurors were falling back. The great giant on their side had fallen to Bellatrix and suddenly the giant inferi overwhelming them.
The workers all clustered tighter expecting the worst…
… that was when the great white bears started falling from the sky.
… then came the scandalously dressed girls with hair in all the colors of the rainbow wearing bright outfits and waving funny looking wands.
… then the strange Aurors on brooms who were shooting rapid-fire curses with wands that were curved into their fists.
… and there were those shadows running along the walls that would leap at the giants and their heads would vanish.
The giants began falling back and the workers began cheering louder.
They saw Master Malfoy with his Mistress Weasley flying back, hurling curses as they protected their friends.
Then came the light.
"Oh, Merlin!" Melinda exclaimed, pressing her hands to her mouth.
"That's... what IS that?!" Malachi cried out, pointing at the immense shining form that had burst forth from the giant Bellatrix LeStrange.
Wilburt, who had been standing next to them dropped to his knees and raised both hands, "BEHOLD! MASTER MALFOY HAS CALLED FORTH THE GREAT OH-DEE!"
Many gasped and also dropped to their knees.
Malachi gaped at Wilburt and said sharply, "It's a giant stag."
"Definitely a demon." Wilburt cried out piously. "Look at those horns!"
"They're antlers!" Malachi snapped.
"It's burning the Dementors!" Melinda called out. "See how they burn!"
"See? It looks like some… giant… Patronus thing!" Malachi grasped weakly.
Wilburt shook his head wildly, his eyes wide with religious mania. "Nope! Cloven hooves and horns. Obviously a demon." He raised his arms wide once more and called out, "We will serve you Master Malfoy! Hail Oh-Dee~!"
"All hail!" Echoed back some of the weaker minded factory workers.
Malachi was on the verge of pulling his own hair out and turned to Melissa, "You're sensible! You talk to them!"
"It can't be a patronus! That thing is SOLID. It just exploded out of LeStrange! Look! It's even the same color as Master Malfoy's beloved thing!" She pointed at the silvery Audi, gleaming in the half-light.
"Don't tell me you're…" Malachi began to say, but she raised a hand.
"I'm willing to be convinced." She replied carefully.
Meanwhile a sizeable portion of the workers were now chanting, "Oh-Dee! Oh-Dee!"
Neville was sure they were dead. Or should have been. That Luna was pressed up against him should, in theory, have been the very definition of heaven.
Except a twisted bit of his seat was digging into his side. Then there was his by now exacerbated concussion and the dizziness. Then there was the soreness all over his body and the exhaustion.
On the other hand, Luna.
On top of him.
He wasn't sure when that had happened, but it was somewhere around the time when the Talos had fallen down. Probably.
Somehow they were still alive.
He was still trying to decide if that part was worth it.
"We appear to be… not dead." Luna said carefully. They had only a view of the darkened sky out the viewport of the Talos, but that was largely due to the Valeyard being flat on its back. The side of the helmet armor had cracked badly and there was a gaping rent to one side large enough for them to walk out of.
"Something hit Bella at the last minute." Neville murmured back to her. Possibly louder than he'd intended for being able to talk to her in such intimate circumstances. Talking was hard.
Right now everything was hard.
If he tried really hard, he could almost imagine it was just the two of them there… if one ignored the screaming and the explosions and what sounded very much like a bear impacting a giant inferi at high speed.
Gran's training for Neville had been very specific.
Luna rolled back to her feet stiffly. She seemed mostly unhurt, just a few bruises. Neville got to his own feet more slowly. His earlier head injury was making itself known once more. They had somehow managed to keep hold of their wands. That was a blessing in itself.
He wished he could afford to move gingerly. He wished he could take his time. After all, he was leading Luna out while holding her hand… but they had no clue what was going on outside. Bella could reappear above them and crush the Valeyard's head like paper. The armor was almost a complete loss. The hasty repairs the Aurors had transfigured on had held for just a bit. Enough for them to have survived, but pretty much at the cost of most of the support struts.
Neville didn't want to think about how difficult it was going to be to repair.
Neither he nor Luna really had time for such thoughts.
He staggered, feeling Luna squeeze his hand, strengthening his resolve.
They made it out of the Valeyard's head to a scene of even greater chaos. Buildings all around them were completely ruined. The giant inferi that had moved back to let Bella get her licks in were hesitantly trying to close in again, but now there were new and unfamiliar wizards and witches throwing themselves into the general melee.
Here and there he saw immense white bears shooting down from the sky, slamming into and all but pulping the giants.
Bellatrix herself was being held back, if only barely, by furry coated men and women hammering at her with some borderline dark spells.
As they moved, trying to find some sort of cover, Neville, bleary eyed as he was spotted a familiar head of red hair and a blonde girl cursing over and over.
"Hannah? Susan?!" Neville called out, staggering towards them with Luna at his side. His eyes wouldn't focus right, but he'd guessed.
Hannah was near tears. She was shoving rocks off of Susan, who was pinned under debris from the waist down. They could see her right leg poking out of the debris and it didn't look quite right. Her face was shockingly pale.
"What happened?" Luna asked calmly.
"Stupid, stupid… she thought it would be interesting to help the crews on the shooting platforms on your giant… thing." Hannah gestured vaguely at the fallen Talos. "We tried to get off when Bellatrix hit you, but one thing led to another…" She sobbed. "I can't find my wand."
"It will be okay," Luna said soothingly to Hannah. "Let's get Susan out of there first, alright?"
Luna was about to move the rocks with her wand, but Neville blearily nodded and made a few sloppy motions as he called out, "Wingarium Leviosa!"
That caused the rocks to float off of Susan easily, allowing Luna to cast another few spells at Susan, immobilizing her even as they floated her up.
"Let's get out of here," Luna said gently, directing the floating redhead ahead of them as they all did their best to make haste with their injuries.
Above and around them the fight intensified. Bolts of light and magic pounded into the giants and Bella from all around, all flying over their heads.
The uneven, broken ground made footing treacherous and with Luna too busy keeping Susan afloat, that left Hannah holding on to Neville trying to keep the boy shuffling forward as best they could.
Neville's eyes kept unfocusing. He was certain he'd been hit on the head one time too many.
He just had to keep going though. One foot in front of another. Luna was holding his hand. He could handle anythin-
Wasn't that Hannah? No. Must be Luna. Luna's blonde. Yeah.
No. Wait. Hannah's blonde too. Right?
No, gotta be Luna, he mused, What would Hannah be doin' here? Yeah.
Hannah held on to Neville, not liking the blank expression on his face as he walked blindly forward. "Ne-neville? Are you-?"
"'M'okay. M'fine. Serious. Ss. Serious." Neville slurred. "Heh."
"You're going to be okay." Hannah said carefully.
"Course 'm gonna be okay," He managed to say, his arm tightening a little around her shoulders as he inadvertently nuzzled into her hair, "Got you with me. Can handle anything."
Hannah stared. Then blushed. She looked over at Luna who still appeared to be fully concentrating on Susan and paying no attention to them.
Hannah, of course, had no time for that. No matter how cute he was.
He had a head injury, for Merlin's sake. Who knew who he thought she was?
The three of them felt the wash of light from behind them more than saw it.
There was a blast of pure silvery light sending long shadows before them and Hannah felt something seize at her heart. The knowledge… no… the absolute certainty that they were going to be okay.
She glanced over her shoulder to see what was causing the sensation and she was just in time to see an incredible silver stag, hundreds of feet tall erupting out of Bellatrix's stomach.
"Oh good. He's alive," Luna said with cheerful serenity after a single backwards glance.
Hannah laughed. She knew who Luna meant. If Harry could survive being eaten, then she was certain it would be all okay. Susan would be back on her feet and bullying Hannah again in no time.
That was when she noticed something else.
The stag, in the process of exploding out of Bellatrix had sent her slamming against a building. One that was on its last legs.
One that, in the process of collapsing, was now sending a ton of debris crashing towards their little group.
She didn't see Neville move. Concussed, half-coherent and uncertain of where he was or who he was with, Neville's reflexes had still kicked in.
He roared, "PROTEGO!"
Dementors were not supposed to spontaneously combust. Hermione knew this. She'd read about them after all, and it took an enormous amount of magical power to even drive them off.
If they were spontaneously combusting, then that meant they were being overloaded with magical energy. But where was that coming from? What could possibly put out enough power to… To...
For a moment, Hermione was convinced it was the sun, hours early, that shined over the horizon. She felt hope fill her heart, hope for the future. Hope for the now. Hope for the new tomorrow…
"Why is the sun rising in the north…?" Pansy mumbled. Hermione squinted. She felt very embarrassed all of a sudden, even as Dementors flew past shrieking in agony.
"That's no sun," Hermione said, a smile forming on her lips, "that's a Patronus."
And her smile got bigger when she made out the familiar antlers of Prongs. Where was Harry? He had to be alive if he was making the Patronus, so where…?
The ground shook. A giant charged up the street. Hermione grabbed Pansy and pulled her out of the way behind a wrecked car. The Inferi thundered past, sparing no glance to the two witches. Pansy watched it go, blinked blearily.
"It's going after… Potter…?" Pansy managed. Hermione frowned.
"How did you-?"
"I feel like I do when Potter flirts back," Pansy said, "and there's a giant Patronus. Not hard to figure out the connection…"
"You're awfully chatty for someone supposedly mortally injured," Hermione said flatly. Pansy coughed and grimaced.
"I could… Take my mind off the rib thanks to the happy feeling I had. Until you spoiled it," she said flatly. "By the way, the giant's trying to get Harry."
"A Patronus is incorporeal, it'll go right through it," Hermione said. The giant stag lowered its horns as the giant lunged. Great white antlers poked through the back of the Inferi, just before the Stag hefted it up and threw the giant into a pair of its fellow zombies, flattening them all. The Patronus charged, and with an almost contemptuous expression slammed its huge hooves down onto the heads of the giants. It stomped them, over and over, crushing their brains.
A giant lumbered for the Stag from behind, arms wide to pounce… But a kick from the back legs sent it's head flying, bouncing off rooftops far away.
"... That works too," Hermione said softly, her smile growing fonder. "Come on! Let's get out of here to a healer-"
"OHAYO!" Bellowed a girl in garish pink clothing, making Hermione screech and point her wand into her face. "I am so very pleased to meet you! I am Keiko Mutsu, Auror for the British Ministry!"
Hermione didn't lower her wand as the Japanese woman beamed at her. "Uh… You are…?"
"Yes! I am here to work for Mister Prince!" Keiko frowned and rubbed her cheek. "Um… I mean, I'm here because I am not on strike from the Prince Corporation! Because I am a dutiful Auror!" She was all smiles again, and nodded several times. Hermione raised an eyebrow.
"Huh… This despite the fact you are clearly not dressed like an Auror, rather a Magical Girl from Japan."
Keiko's smile became a bit strained. "Er…"
"And the fact it isn't a strike by the workers of the Prince Potato Crisps company, rather the Aurors from the Ministry of Magic," Hermione continued. Keiko sweated nervously. Hermione rolled her eyes. "Oh relax, I'm not saying a word."
"Good!" Keiko said with a sigh of relief. "I wasn't really paying attention during the briefing-"
"Can you do healing spells?" Hermione asked. Keiko nodded. "Good! Heal her!"
"Okay!" Keiko said cheerfully, flouncing over to the bemused Pansy. Hermione looked up at the Patronus and smiled.
"I think everything's under control, for now…"
Which is when the giant Bellatrix pounced on Prongs, arms going around its neck.
Susan's eyes fluttered. Something… was wrong. She couldn't move. It felt like a full body bind. She'd been in these and knew how to get out. After all, how could she properly consider herself to be a detective of any stripe if she couldn't get out of something as simple as a full body bind?
… admittedly, escape was usually easier if the dastardly fiends who had her restrained had left her her wand. She was a little bleary about the details of what had happened to lead to these circumstances, but she was absolutely certain that they were bound to be interesting.
She managed to open her eyes. Most of the bind seemed to be centered below her neck. This was good. She could work with that… well, she really, honestly could! If she had her wand.
She blinked and realized that Luna was on top of her. The bind kept her from feeling the smaller girl's weight, but now she had to wonder… was she also bound by whoever their captors were? Or was Luna part of the fiendish plot to kidnap her?
Luna seemed to be catching her bearings and was beginning to get back onto her feet. So… not bound then. In league with the kidnappers!
She tried to move her head around, but the bind hadn't been loosened quite that much. In the distance, she could see a gigantic silvery form with long antlers battling some giant… thing… oh.
The memory of the exhilarating ride on Mr. Longbottom's Talos had come back to her full force. As had the confusion of the battle as she and Hannah had stood back to back, valiantly casting hexes and curses at the attacking giant inferi.
They must have fallen.
And then fallen into the hands of kidnappers.
That made sense.
Susan turned her attention away from the battle on the horizon and scanned closer by.
There was a semi-circle of loose debris all around them.
She squinted and saw Neville, on one knee, one arm, holding his wand raised above him. He appeared to have passed out in that position.
And while hat was interesting in and of itself… she was certain he must have heroically saved her and possibly Miss Lovegood from all manner of evil kidnapper… it was his other arm that intrigued Susan.
His arm which was placed protectively around Hannah.
Hannah who was blushing furiously and clinging to Mr. Longbottom and helping support him as though her life depended on it.
She had known Hannah for a very long time. She was distantly acquainted with Neville and what she had seen so far of him, she approved of immensely.
She really wanted to say something, but unfortunately she was still in the grip of the bind.
All she could really do was make a small noise in the back of her throat.
The noise, was "Squee."
She was burning... She could feel the heat even through the golem's thick, regenerating skin. But she wouldn't let go! Not when Potter was right in her grasp! He'd escaped her before, but there would be no second chance! Not again, not again…!
The Patronus struggled, and then leaped. Bellatrix was taken off her feet, and they slammed down in the middle of a Muggle park. The Patronus kicked, almost frantically, twisting and turning as a desperate animal did. She leered as Potter's struggles intensified. It was almost as good as when she did the killing herself… With her wand…!
That bright smile on Ginny's face hadn't faded from the moment the Patronus showed up. That happy feeling in his heart was like the sun peeking up over the horizon, filling his being with hope and joy.
And Draco, frankly, hated the hell out of it. Especially that dreamy look on his… Business partner's face as the Patronus and his aunt struggled.
"He's so amazing… I mean, just look at him go," she sighed. "Like a pure storm of righteousness…"
"Oh yeah, real impressive. All about the size with you," Draco hissed. Ginny scowled.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"I think he's casting aspirations on yer character, sweetie," suggested a dark skinned witch who flew up on a broom. She smirked at the outraged expression on Ginny's face. "Then again, he looks the jealous type."
"He always wants what he can't handle," Ginny teased. Draco scowled.
"If you're quite done… Who the bloody hell are you?"
The woman held her hand up in an American style salute. She grinned brightly as her trenchcoat waved in the breeze above the city streets.
"Enola Zuni! Auror for the Ministry, Boss!" She said cheerfully.
Draco and Ginny shared a look, and turned their eyes back onto the woman.
"Which ministry would that be?" Draco asked. Enola's grin grew sly, as she brushed the eagle feather in her hair gently.
"British, of course," she said. "Love Top Gear, Doctor Who, all that jazz…"
"Doctor?" Ginny asked curiously. "Doctor Who?"
"Yes, exactly," Enola said. Ginny and Draco continued to look blank. Enola sighed and rolled her eyes. "Purebloods," she muttered.
"Hey!" They both cried. Enola shook her head.
"Point is, we're here to help. Though with that giant deer, I think we're all right."
"As is my business," Draco said with a satisfied nod. "And the Audi."
"That what they're babbling about? An Audi?" Enola asked with a little smirk. "R8?"
"Yes," Draco said, seizing on this in a moment. "You know about the Audi R8?"
"Such power, such majesty," Enola purred. She looked at the expression on Ginny's face and smirked. "You've experienced it, I take it?"
"Oh yes," Ginny said smugly. She looked between Ginny and Draco, and her smirk grew a bit more. She waggled her eyebrows.
"Had a bit more than an experience in there, mm?"
"That's unsanitary! And it would ruin the leather," Draco said shortly. "Anyway, while Potter the Invincible's handling my Aunt…" The Patronus was slammed into a nearby building, reducing it to rubble. The Stag slowly rose out of the debris, shaking its antlers out. Bellatrix tackled it again, slamming it into the rubble and slamming its head over and over into the ground.
"Looks like she's handling him, right now," commented Enola. Ginny held a hand to her mouth. Draco sighed.
"Over and over again… He's like a bloody seesaw!"
When Hannah could see again, it was to find Ron Weasley giving Luna a one handed hug, murmuring sweet things into her hair and sobbing with relief.
He looked as bad as she felt and one of his hands seemed to be badly crushed. Badly enough that his wand was stuck in his mangled grip.
Neville was half-leaning on her and was just beginning to lower the hand which held his wand. His eyes seemed completely unfocused now. He would keep squinting, but then his entire face would go slack and he would be staring at nothing.
Susan, thankfully, appeared to have recovered consciousness, if her expression was anything to go by. She still appeared to be in a full body bind and was stiffly laying on some debris at what was likely an uncomfortable angle. A tiny, mean non-Hufflepuff part of her soul rejoiced at her beloved, if annoying, friend's discomfort.
All around them the light from Harry's immense Patronus still bathed everything in actinic silvery light.
Hannah frowned as she realized that Susan's expression was a grin. Directed at her. Hannah quailed inwardly. That meant she has some other 'interesting' idea that had popped into her head.
This time involving her. She frowned as she realized how closely she was holding Neville, then she blushed.
"Neville… are you okay? That last spell took a lot out of you." She asked quietly.
"'M'fine. Real. E. All good." As he spoke blood began to drip slowly out of one nostril.
She also realized he wasn't quite so much looking at her as a little past her towards where Ron and Luna were holding each other. Unless he actually wasn't looking there and it was just his unfocused eyes settling on the middle distance.
… no. That was a very distinct flinch from Mr. Longbottom when Ron kissed Luna.
When had that happened? Hannah wondered. But she looked at Neville. Oh. Hannah realized. She flicked her gaze over to Susan who was now grinning even wider. The bind kept her from actually talking, but it couldn't keep her eyes from roaming or keep her from jumping to entirely wrong conclusions. Come to think of it, NOTHING could keep Susan from doing that.
A huge voice with a thick accent suddenly boomed next to her. "Oooh. Our tovarisch is not looking good, Gospodin Weasley."
Ron slowly disentangled himself from Luna and walked over towards them, his good hand holding Luna's.
"Ron," She replied politely.
"Alive. 'S'all good." Neville grinned as more blood trickled down from his nose.
"What's wrong with him?" Ron asked the huge bear of a man in the furry coat and beret who was pressing two thick fingers against Neville's upper and lower lids, holding his eyes open.
"Concussion, if I had to guess," The man replied. "Is bad one. Almost looks like he already had a small one then smashed his head again."
Neville held up his non-wand hand from where it had been draped around Hannah's shoulder. He held up four fingers. "Three. Hed-smashed. Bonk. Bonk. Three."
"Who are you?" Hannah asked the man.
"Yuri Ivanovich!" The man bellowed cheerfully, "Perfectly normal British Auror."
"You sound Russian-" Hannah began.
"He has a speech impediment," Ron replied, deadpan.
"Is sensitive topic," Yuri added with a serious expression.
"Right," Hannah said carefully.
"Other young lady has leg broken." Yuri continued. "We get you to healers. Get you fixed up."
Ron turned to stare behind them, "Harry's doing it. He's got her on the ropes."
Neville's head twitched slightly and he seemed to be trying to focus, but his eyes were refusing to. She could tell he couldn't see. He was looking just a little off to the side of the ongoing battle between the giant stag and the giant Bella. If his eyes were working there would be no mistaking where he would need to look.
Luna gasped suddenly as the advantage turned in Bellatrix's direction. The immense, flesh crafted body was burning from contact with the stag, but she had pinned it massive hands grabbing hold of the silvery antlers and working to try and twist its head around. To break its neck.
Luna shook her head, "No… it's too evenly matched. And Harry's putting out so much power keeping his patronus running… I don't think he can keep going for much longer."
Ron turned to the big NOT-Russian, "Can we get…?"
He shook his head, "Soldyat are trying to contain the giant things. Mahou Sentai are dealing with injured and providing fire support." Yuri replied. "Hitwizards already buzzing around the big fight, yes? Not enough weight of fire to make difference. Americans usually prefer weight of numbers… er… not that there are any here." He looked around, "And no one knows if the Fren- I mean the… Liverpudians even sent any of their people. If they did, they're not really front-line fighters. They are more knife to the back types."
Neville pulled his arm out from around Hannah and stepped… or more precisely… swayed a step forward. He took a deep breath, as though trying to steady himself and said carefully. "Then's it got to be the Valeyard." He managed to say.
"What? Are you mental, mate?!" Ron sputtered. "Look at you! You're half-dead on your feet! Your Talos is a wreck!"
"Still got a leg. Both fists. Can still hit." He continued. "Lost most of the armor… but still strong enough to hit. It's out best chance to help Harry."
Hannah grabbed on to his arm, "You can't even see, Longbottom! The next bonk you get on your head is liable to kill you!"
"Uh… yeah. Might be problem." Neville admitted, his words slurring slightly.
"I'll do it." Ron said forcefully, glancing over his shoulder at the continuing fight.
Neville shook his head, then looked like he wished he hadn't. "Can't. Needs a Longbottom holding the reins. Can't do more'n walk if you aren't from the family."
"And with a leg gone, it'll be down to hopping." Luna added.
"Didn't you just leave the Talos, now you want to go back?!" Hannah sputtered incredulously.
Ron sighed, "Do we have anything else to hit Bellatrix with?"
Yuri said with a grin, "I have a bear!"
"Thank you." Luna smiled brightly at the man. "I would love to meet him later."
"Why did you leave the Valeyard anyway?" Ron asked.
"Uh…" Neville stared sightlessly. "It seemed like a good idea at the time?"
"I can attest to that," Luna said cheerfully.
"Would it help if you had someone in there with you?" Ron pressed.
"As long as I'm in there holding the reins, someone can co-pilot. Have wand to the console. Y'know… Basically guide me. The… the… thing. With the hitting. It gets translated to the Talos."
"Then it's obvious. I'll go with you." Ron replied without hesitation.
Luna blinked and pointed, "Don't you need to also be able to channel magical energy to get it running in the first place?"
"Uh…" Neville blinked.
"You aren't in any shape to focus your energies," Luna said firmly. "And you, can't even hold your wand properly." She said to Ron.
"I've still got it." Ron grumbled holding his damaged hand up.
"It's crushed into your hand." She glared. "I can channel the energy for it if Neville's there to run it."
"But you don't know how to throw a punch, Luna!" Ron snapped. "I've got five older brothers! I can at least get Neville pointed in the right direction."
"Then it is obvious!" Yuri suddenly interjected. "I will copilot with Mr. Longbottom! I can fight AND I have a working wand hand."
"Er… sorry, no." Neville replied. "No offense, but sharing the control of the Talos is… it's going to be weird enough trying to balance the magical matrices involved. It needs to be someone that I already know and trust. Only way it'll work."
"Like me, Neville?" Luna asked gently.
Ron's face purpled and turned thunderous, "I forbi-"
Before he could say anything Luna pressed a finger to his lips.
"Yes." Neville murmured, his face flushing and the trickle of blood from his nose growing stronger.
"I know and trust Ron, Neville." Luna said gently. "Would that be enough? All three of us? Working together?"
"Uh… maybe? I… Gran never mentioned having three pilots in a Talos at once." Neville looked confused.
"Y-y-you're all going back there?" Hannah stared, looking over to where the giant madwoman continued to wrestle with the equally giant silvery stag. Then she glanced at Susan, whose expression of glee was really getting Hannah worried.
"Gotta tip the favors for Harry." Neville said.
"Tip the odds in favor of Harry," Luna said gently.
Ron looked at Neville worriedly. "Come on. We haven't got a lot of time."
"Well then, that leaves Yuri to escort pretty ladies to where the scandalous magical girls have set up their healing station, yes?"
Ron nodded. He could only hope that this worked.
The two titans traded blows that could have leveled whole buildings if there were any left in their vicinity. The Little Whinging park had certainly gotten plenty of growing space as giantess and stag brawled flesh of Bella's giant form continuously regenerated from the slashes and wounds left by the glowing Patronus, while the Stag's "skin" was a continuously regenerating field of magical energy and thus almost impervious to outside impacts.
It was furious and frantic and within the glowing form of the Prongs Patronus, Harry was feeling pretty awful. He didn't think that's how he would react to being in a giant fight with… Well, a giant.
He felt as though the edges of his vision were going to collapse in on him, and he pushed forth as much will as he could muster. But everything felt like it was slipping away, like he was getting weaker…
Of course I'm getting weaker, he thought with a sudden terrible clarity, I was nearly dead… Maybe I'm still dying… Maybe Cedric was real, not a hallucination… Maybe…
He could see some forms beyond the Patronus. As though seeing through a frosted pane of glass. A girl on a broomstick, flying high. Bushy hair waving in the wind.
Hermione…? He thought. Then Bellatrix filled his vision again, and he willed his Patronus forward to strike. They grappled, her hands on his antlers, her leering face in his…!
I'm not going to die… I don't want to die…! He thought furiously. I'm not… Not before I figure this out… Not before… I… I…!
The antlers of his giant Patronus flickered, like lightbulbs about to burn out. The giantess laughed terribly.
"ICKLE POTTER… CAN'T KEEP THIS UP FOREVER," Bellatrix rumbled in a sing song way. Harry seethed, and the eyes of his Patronus glowed. He shoved back, driving her to leave troughs in the ground. She grunted and shoved back. "I'LL STILL WIN… AND KILL ALL YOUR FRIENDS TOO~..." And here she grinned. "JUST. LIKE. SIRIUS."
Harry snarled, and bucked back. He swung the Patronus around, and chambered both legs of the huge stag as Bellatrix staggered. He shot them out in a kick, aiming them for her head. She caught the hooves of his Patronus, and though the contact burned her hands she swung him into the rubble of a nearby building. He slammed down, and felt the impact through the Patronus itself. He groaned.
Didn't think I had anything left that could still hurt, but no, still finding new things, Harry thought. He looked up to see Bellatrix stomping towards him, her hands smoking as they healed. Oh bollocks…
The giantess cackled and reached out for him. The construct's skin seemed to be wavering under the pressure of her fingers, and he saw her reaching for him even as the skin burnt away. He gritted his teeth, tried to summon up more will but she was pushing deeper, deeper…!
"Say hello to Cousin Sirius for me," Bellatrix cooed… Just before her eye exploded. She cried out and pulled back, holding a hand over it. "WHO…?!" She snarled as Hermione flew by on a broomstick. "What do you think you can accomplish?! You're just a little Mudblood and I'm-!"
A bronze form slammed into Bellatrix from behind, and a great metal arm swung around her throat. The Valeyard leaned back, falling down and dragging the shrieking giantess down with it. Harry could vaguely make out three forms in the smashed and ruined head of the Talos-A blonde girl, a dirty blonde boy, and a redheaded boy. He saw Hermione fly by. He saw Hermione screaming something, something he couldn't quite hear…
But he could read lips, with just a bit of Occlumency.
"Do it now!"
He didn't know exactly what she was referring to, but Harry decided he'd go with his first choice. He mustered up enough willpower to pull the Patronus up. He turned the great head of the stag around. He chambered his legs, took careful aim as he looked out the back of the Patronus… And kicked.
Bellatrix's scream was abruptly cut off as her head went flying, bouncing across the ruined park landscape. Her body struggled for several moments… Before a storm of curses and spells flew at her from every direction, burning the hulk of the giantess's body until it stopped moving. The Talos stopped moving at about the same time… And Harry, well… Everything became very clear. And falling. Like he was falling because his Patronus had dissipated.
And he slammed into a curvy female body (or two, hard to tell) as his descent was slowed enough to bring him down to the ground. He heard Hermione fretting over him.
"Harry! Harry, oh my God, can you hear me?! Get a healer, quickly!"
Then Ron's face swam into view, as he grinned down at him.
"I knew you weren't dead, I knew it! I bloody knew it!"
"Mind his arm, the Wrackspurts will try to get it off…"
"You daft bastard, flying around like that…!"
Then Draco, of all people…
"Bloody show off…!"
And finally… He saw a familiar ceiling high overhead. Lighting shining gently through the nearby windows, playing across the vaulted ceiling. He blinked blearily, and instinctively reached for his glasses off the side table. His fingers found them, and he pulled them on. The room came into focus.
"I would be surprised at you being able to find your glasses so quickly," Dumbledore spoke softly, walking into view, "but then, you have been here several times before."
"D-Dumbledore?" Harry asked in disbelief. He looked around the Hogwarts Hospital Wing, and struggled to sit up in the bed. "I… Oh… Wow…" He fell back down, taking deep breaths.
"I would advise against that, Harry," Dumbledore said with a smile. "You've taken quite a beating. Madam Pomphrey was quite beside herself." The old wizard sat down on the edge of the bed and looked at Harry with a fond smile. "She was caught a bit off guard, I'm afraid. She wasn't expecting you in here for at least a year."
"Yeah… Guess I should have expected that," Harry admitted. He looked up at Dumbledore with a frown. "Is everybody all right?"
"Everybody is fine, Harry," Dumbledore said with a big, broad smile. "Everybody, thanks to you. You acted just splendidly, by the way. I have never been more proud of you!"
Harry flushed a bit. "I… Well, it was nothi-"
"No it wasn't," Dumbledore said, almost sharply. "You defeated multiple giants and summoned up the largest, most powerful Patronus in our history. That is not nothing!" Dumbledore grinned. "And more than that… Well, to me, anyway… You took in Pansy Parkinson."
Harry blinked. "Er… Well I couldn't just-"
"Let her die? Of course not," Dumbledore said with a nod. "But you've turned her into an ally… And perhaps, something more? Whatever will Miss Granger think?" He waggled his eyebrows, making Harry stare in utter disbelief.
Dumbledore chuckled, and patted Harry on the shoulder. "My boy, I must admit… At the start of this year I had plans. Quite the plans. Very simple ones, to lead you around by the hand to discover the means by which you might defeat Voldemort. I mean, you were rather proactive last year but you still couldn't be arsed to do anything until the end… Again."
"Professor…?" Harry was beginning to wonder if he was dead again. Or kind of dead again, or hallucinating or… Whatever.
"But here you've mastered quite some skills, turned back Voldemort's strike, saved a whole town…" And here Dumbledore grinned. "And are forming your own harem!"
"But Professor, they're not-!"
"No no, my boy, you're far too modest!" Dumbledore said, holding a hand up. "I must confess, I was beginning to think you were turning into a bit of a… A, well, pussy."
...Did Dumbledore just call me a pussy? Harry thought.
"I did, yes," Dumbledore said with a nod. "But here you are, becoming a man before my very eyes!" He chuckled and squeezed Harry's hand. "I am very, very proud." He rose and dusted his robes off. "Well, I have things to attend to. This attempt by Tom to draw you out and test the Ministry has left quite the mess…"
"I should-" Harry began, trying to get up, but a look from Dumbledore stopped him. "Er… Rest in this bed?"
Dumbledore nodded. "Indeed. I will leave you in the capable hands of your friends, who have all elected to stay here for the time being to make sure you mend…" The twinkle returned to his eyes. "Some more interested than others, of course…"
"Er… Of course?" Harry said, blinking. Dumbledore smiled broadly.
"And one more thing, Harry? If you'll forgive an old man's indulgence…"
Harry blinked rapidly. "Um…"
"Albus is a perfectly fine name for a girl or boy. Feel free to mention this to Miss Parkinson or Miss Granger… Or Bones, or Abbot," Albus said with a little grin. Harry gawked.
"B-But we're friends and-Bones? Abbot?"
"Pretending you don't know?" Dumbledore chuckled. "I've grown even prouder, my boy! Not that I'm interested in such things, you know, not all wizards like a Pandora's box… But I can appreciate skill all the same!"
"... Do I want to know what that actually means?" Harry asked. Dumbledore just smiled, turned and walked off humming a Queen song. Harry watched him go and sighed.
"Well… This can't get any weirder," he mumbled.
"You were saying, Harry?" Asked an all too familiar voice. Harry very slowly turned his head. Cedric Diggory floated next to his head, smiling brightly.
Whatever references you think were made... You're right! Completely right. But we've got one more chapter to go, so stay tuned.