A tense quiet had gripped Hogwarts and all its occupants as they waited for the battle to commence. Professor Dumbledore himself stood at the threshold of the Great Hall with fifty people behind him, all tense, and frightened, yet ready to fight the tyranny that threatened to destroy everything they loved. Dumbledore sighed heavily as he thought of what was about to happen. There was no avoiding it, and no stopping it. People were going to die.
The Headmaster looked out on the grounds of the ancient wizarding school towards the Forbidden Forest and Hagrid's hut where the half-giant groundskeeper was hidden, likely preparing to rally the creatures he'd collected to fight with them. It was going to be dangerous, but Dumbledore had every confidence that Hagrid would be able to keep the danger away from those fighting for the Light.
Dumbledore then glanced to some of the other areas that traps had been laid to prevent the Death Eaters from surrounding the school. He'd been planning for this for months now, just in case. He had hoped the final battle would take place far from here, but in his heart he'd known that this would be where the war ended. And with that thought, the very ground shook.
Dumbledore raised his eyes to see the protective shields around the castle shimmer brightly and then begin to burn away. His heart filled with a fear he'd never known. Tom Riddle had just proven how powerful he truly was. The protective wards of the ancient school were renowned throughout the world, and with one blow, Lord Voldemort had broken them. But within his fear, Dumbledore felt a growing hope. Hope that they could still win the day.
"Ready yourselves." Dumbledore called over his shoulder as he cast a patronus that flew off before it had even fully formed. He had a moment to wonder how powerful the spell must have been to have been able to destroy the shields around the school. They were some of the most impressive wards that Dumbledore knew of, save for the wards that had protected young Harry Potter for so many years. He should have like to know what Voldemort had done, but felt it was likely he would never learn how it had been done.
"Wait for my order before retaliating. We want them on the grounds." Dumbledore reminded his allies.
"We're with you Albus." Someone called.
The shouts could be heard a second before the first black-robed figures charged the gates. Dumbledore raised his hand in a signal for the attack to hold back. Hundreds of men and women in black poured onto the grounds from the wrought iron gates, but Dumbledore did not see Voldemort among them.
"Perhaps he weakened himself when he took down the shields." Albus thought. "Perhaps this will make it easier for Severus to destroy the serpent."
Albus held his hand a bit higher and he could feel his allies behind him all raising their wands and taking aim. The Death Eaters continued to pour onto the grounds and beginning to spread out as they rushed towards the castle. The headmaster could already see the tips of wands lighting up with dangerous and deadly spells.
"NOW!" Dumbledore cried as he himself took aim and unleashed an extremely powerful bombardment spell at the line of oncoming Death Eaters. The earth exploded and the cries of fury became screams of rage and pain. Spells began crisscrossing the grounds and the Death Eaters pressed forward, driving the initial resistance back and gaining ground. But it was a trap. Suddenly from the towers and high windows, spellfire began to rain down on the Death Eaters, driving them back, right into an oncoming wave of Acromantulas.
Confusion ruled the Death Eaters. They were being attacked on all sides, and for the briefest of moments it looked as though the battle would be over quickly.
And then the Forbidden Forest suddenly erupted in a blaze of blood red flame, and a chorus of screams. Centaurs leapt into the open as well as giant spiders, Hippogriffs, Thestrals, and all manner of magical creatures. Hagrid's hut exploded violently, and Dumbledore swore he heard the plaintive howl of Fang the boarhound, followed by a scream of heartbroken rage as Hagrid himself rushed out of the burning forest towards his home.
Dumbledore saw the source of the violence as Lord Voldemort made his presence known. He aimed his wand at Gryffindor tower and fired a spell that completely obliterated the tower. Dumbledore felt his own heart break at the destruction. At least twenty people had been positioned there and had died protecting the castle.
The tide of the battle shifted considerably after that, and the Death Eaters began to gain back ground. They pushed the resistance back and made it inside the castle. Voldemort himself strode up to the courtyard that lead directly to the Entrance Hall, his eyes on Dumbledore's the whole time. When Voldemort arrived at the courtyard, the fighting seemed to slow and then stop as the greatest Dark Lord in history met the leader of the light.
"I have taken the castle Dumbledore." Voldemort said smugly as he stared at the old Headmaster. "Your people may continue to fight, but I will kill them all. Order them to cease resisting, and I will allow them to live."
"I will not." Dumbledore said grimly.
"Be it on your head!" Voldemort snarled and he brought his wand around as if he were cracking a whip. Dumbledore countered the spell Voldemort used with one of his own. The two spells collided in the air with such force that the very stone underneath cracked. Voldemort conjured an army of poisonous snakes which he sent hurtling at Dumbledore, who conjured a shield that burned the serpents to ash when they made contact. The two combatants began to circle one another, each preparing their next attack in the hopes of ending the other.
Narcissa Malfoy stalked through her fellow Death Eaters, her eyes narrowed, her wand ready and her heart filled to bursting with hatred. There was only one person in all the world she wanted to see, and then kill. Millicent Bulstrode. That little harpy who was responsible for her son's loss of magic and his banishment by Lucius.
Draco was currently living in Ireland at a small cottage that Narcissa was able to procure without raising too much suspicion from her husband who'd ruled that Draco was no longer fit to be a Malfoy. Narcissa had been told that she was never to speak to or of Draco ever again, but Narcissa was not about to abandon her child. Her only child. She had seen to it that he was sheltered and cared for, and when the Dark Lord won the war, Narcissa planned to ask her master to restore Draco. He could do it. He wielded immense power, and he could return Draco's magic. Once Draco was restored, Narcissa planned on dealing with her husband.
She held onto that hope as she marched on Hogwarts. She would help her Lord take the school, and kill the Potter brat and she would take revenge on the bitch who'd abused and humiliated her son, and forced him to lose his magic. Bulstrode would die, and she would die in the most vile way Narcissa could think of. Her sister had given her a few ideas, and Narcissa hoped to incorporate them in a very long, slow, torturous murder.
The Death Eaters knew that children had been evacuated from the school, but the Dark Lord had ordered them to be left alone. He did not want to kill children. He had other plans for the magical youth of Britain. That hadn't prevented Narcissa from making sure that the Bulstrode bitch hadn't escaped. There had been no sign of her which meant she must still be in the castle. Narcissa wondered if Millicent was hoping to help her Death Eater father, and lying in wait until her father found her and gave her orders. Narcissa didn't care.
She followed a group of Death Eaters that made for the west entrance. Resistance was awaiting them as the Dark Lord knew there would be, but the Death Eaters were not constrained by mercy or compassion. They did not hold back and fought brutally to gain ground.
However, Narcissa was surprised by the fact that the Resistance was also fighting just as well. It appeared that Dumbledore's allies were not letting their "humanity" rule them today. Narcissa was actually shocked when some of the Resistance used the killing curse against the Death Eaters. She wasn't the only one surprised by this. Several Death Eaters were taken aback, and as a result were victim of spells that incapacitated them, or in at least two cases, ended their lives.
Narcissa grew tired of the fight and began looking for another way into the castle. She wanted Millicent's head and she did not wish to wait.
Retreating slightly, Narcissa made her way to the greenhouses, knowing she could gain access to the castle there. It would take longer, but she was sure that she could get into the castle. She encountered no one, which surprised her slightly. She guessed that the Resistance had moved to where the fighting was the worst and her fellow Death Eaters had only really attacked at two points.
Upon entering the castle, Narcissa encountered her first opposition in the form of three women. She didn't even try to identify any of them. She dispatched them quickly, scoffing at their apparent lack of skill. However, she decided that she needed to avoid any further confrontation. It would slow her down, and there was a good chance that she might encounter someone who could best her, especially since she was on her own.
Moving as stealthily as she could through the castle, Narcissa made her way to the Betrothed Hall. She had no idea if Millicent was there, but it was the only place she could think to look. It took her awhile, and she had had to double back three times to avoid fighting Dumbledore's allies. The battle had made its way inside the castle now, and the fighting was quite fierce from what Narcissa could see. She was certain though that the Dark Lord's army would win, simply because they had superior numbers and no issues with killing their enemies.
At last she made it to the hall where her son had been forced to live with that atrocity of a girl. Knowing the door was password protected, Narcissa simply blasted the door into splinters before she entered the suite and found it empty. She swore loudly as she double checked to make sure the bitch wasn't hiding inside somewhere. She turned and left the suite, snarling to herself. She had been told by her scout that Millicent hadn't been among the students who'd been evacuated to the Hogshead. She had to be within the castle somewhere, but Narcissa knew she couldn't search it by herself, especially with the battle raging on.
She needed to find the girl. She needed to make her pay for what she'd done to Draco. And then she realized exactly where the girl would likely take refuge.
Almost sprinting, Narcissa headed for the dungeons. The girl was a Slytherin, just as Narcissa had been. It was probable that she had gone to the Slytherin Common Room to wait out the battle. As she navigated her way to the lower levels of the school, Narcissa realized that she had one major obstacle in her way. She would not be able to blast the hidden door out of her way. She would have to find out the password. Or, she would have to fool anyone inside into coming out to her. The Hogwarts house elves would not obey her, and she knew that no Hogwarts teacher would willing give her the password. She needed to figure out a way to get inside.
As it happened, two young men were lying in wait for anyone who might come down there. Two young men she recognized at once.
"Vincent. Gregory." She smiled brightly as she saw them raising their wands.
"Mrs. Malfoy." Crabbe said, lowering his wand. "We thought you might be…"
"Your fathers are going to be so proud of you." Narcissa cooed, making both boys blush. "How many of you are down here?"
"Around twenty." Goyle sniffed angrily. "Most of 'em were too scared to stay. Blood traitors the lot of them!"
"We didn't know what we should do, so we decided we'd wait down here until the Dark Lord won." Crabbe added.
"That was very wise of you." Narcissa nodded. "Is Millicent Bulstrode inside?"
"Yeah." Crabbe nodded. "She wanted to go fight just like we did."
"Can you allow me inside? I need to pass on a message from her father." Narcissa said.
The boys nodded, and Goyle gave the password which opened the door.
"What are you doing down here?" someone called out. Narcissa who had about to pass through the hidden doorway turned to find an irate looking Professor Sinistra. "You should have…"
Narcissa lashed out with a string of offensive spells which the Astronomy professor deftly dodged. Crabbe and Goyle, looking to earn favor with The Dark Lord joined the fight, and Professor Sinistra found herself in a difficult situation.
Narcissa found the boys aid unhelpful except for the fact that if distracted the dark skinned teacher. Sinistra could not very well attack a student, which gave Narcissa the advantage. Or it would have if either boy had any skill whatsoever. The kept getting in her way as she tried to continue to drive Sinistra back. However, if she made them stay out of the way, she would have to face the teacher on her own, and Narcissa wasn't sure if she could match the teacher. She knew better than to underestimate anyone like the Astronomy teacher.
However, an opportunity presented itself when Sinistra grew tired of the boys' attacks. She stunned Goyle, and turned her wand on Crabbe when Narcissa struck. Taking advantage of her foe's distraction, Narcissa cast a killing curse, which Sinistra just avoided. Sinistra retreated quickly and Narcissa thought to give chase only to stop short. She would not be lured into a trap, nor would she give up her chance to exact revenge on Bulstrode. Sinistra would be back, but by then Bulstrode would be dead.
"Rennervate." Narcissa said with a wave of her wand at Goyle. "Make sure no one gets though the door! Kill anyone who tries!" she ordered. "I will send some more Slytherins to aide you."
Narcissa entered the Common room and found the other twenty Slytherins who looked up with interest.
"Your Lord commands you to aide your fellows in the hall. Make sure no one gets through the door until I say. Go!"
The students all rushed for the door but Narcissa stopped Millicent with a glare.
"Not you, my dear. You and I have business to attend to." Narcissa scowled.
"Draco did it to himself." Millicent said as callously as she could despite the growing fear in her belly. She knew what kind of woman Draco's mother could be and knew that she was to be feared far more the Draco's father.
"You took advantage of him. You were not worthy of his seed. And now, I'm going to make you pay for all the humiliation you caused him and my family!" Narcissa said her voice as cold as ice.
Narcissa's wand flashed, and Millicent tried to shield herself from the acid yellow spell that tore thin strips of skin from her hand and arm. The wounds weren't deep, not even drawing blood, but it hurt badly. Millicent used her own wand to try and fight, but Narcissa batted away the weak spell as if she were warding off a fly.
"I have been dreaming of all the ways to make you suffer, just as you made my son suffer." Narcissa said with malevolence.
A second spell shot from her wand, and Millicent screamed as her other arm had long, thin strips of skin torn away. A third spell took skin from her neck, and a fourth shredded her robes. Millicent tried again to retaliate and managed a cutting curse which hit Narcissa in the shoulder. This only served to enrage the Malfoy matriarch who shouted like a banshee and petrified Millicent who fell heavily on the floor.
"I'm going to enjoy this!" Narcissa said, waving her wand in a circular pattern. Millicent began to shriek as her fingernails and toenails began to slowly be ripped out. The pain was excruciating and she begged and pleaded for Narcissa to stop. One by one the nails fell to the floor and Millicent sobbed in terrorized agony.
"Now what shall I remove?" Narcissa asked, breathing heavily and staring at Millicent like a hungry animal. "Your hair? Perhaps your lips. Or maybe I burn your nipples from your breasts. I guess it doesn't really matter because you and I are going to spend a lot of time together, and I intend on enjoying every single precious moment of your pain."
Her smile fell as she was suddenly thrown into the far wall. Millicent continued to cry as Narcissa clambered back to her feet where she found Sinistra and to Narcissa's horror… Filius Flitwick.
"Throw down your wand Narcissa." Flitwick demanded.
"The Dark Lord will…" Narcissa began but Flitwick flicked his wand and silenced Narcissa. He then slashed his hand down and Narcissa's wand was ripped from her hands just before she was hit in the chest with something that threw her back against the wall again. Darkness enveloped her and she knew no more.
"Why did you even give her the opportunity to surrender?" Sinistra asked.
"It was the polite thing to do." Flitwick shrugged. "You should levitate the Slytherins back in here or they could get hurt if the battle makes its way down here. I'll see to Miss Bulstrode."
Sinistra nodded and went to do as Flitwick suggested. The two of them had made quick work of the loyal Death Eater youth before they had entered the Slytherin Common Room. Flitwick thought it was lucky Sinistra had found him. If she hadn't, young Millicent Bulstrode might have been killed."
"I sincerely hope you've learned a lesson here Miss Bulstrode." Flitwick said as he freed Millicent from the body bind curse and began to heal her wounds. "Can I trust you to watch your fellow Slytherins and prevent any of them from fighting?"
Millicent nodded shakily and Flitwick fixed her with a hard stare before seemingly thinking he could trust her. When Professor Sinistra informed him that all the students were inside, Flitwick quickly bound Narcissa before giving Millicent one last long look and then following the Astronomy professor back into battle.
Millicent stood up shakily and turned to the crumpled heap that was Narcissa Malfoy. Another glance around and Millie found her wand which she picked up and looked at her fellow Slytherins who were all currently knocked out. She wondered for a moment if she should try and wake them up but decided it was better that they remain unconscious.
She approached Narcissa once again and stared at the woman who had tried to kill her and anger boiled up within her. Millie stepped back and launched a fierce kick right into the Malfoy matron's face, hearing a satisfying crack that was likely the woman's nose. She smiled to herself when she saw the blood begin to drip out of Narcissa's otherwise flawless face. Millicent began to smile as she knelt down and tapped her wand to Narcissa's face, waking her up.
"Hello Mrs. Malfoy." She smiled. "I didn't want you to miss this."
"You little bitch!" Narcissa shrieked as Millicent got to her feet, stepping back and taking aim.
"All he had to do was accept me." Millicent scowled. "To love me. I would have given him whatever he wanted, but he refused me. Draco only has himself to blame. I took his magic away, and now I'm going to take his mother away too."
Millicent narrowed her eyes and sucked in a breath. Narcissa shut her eyes tight as fear gripped her, but no spell came. In fact, Narcissa heard Millicent shriek and fall in front of her. She opened her eyes to find Gregory Goyle on top of Millicent, punching her hard as Millicent screamed and writhed under him. Vincent Crabbe was groggily stumbling to her, and tried to undo her bonds.
"Vincent, you need a wand. Take Bulstrode's, and untie me." Narcissa ordered. Vincent nodded and did as he had been told. Goyle had released Millicent who was crying hard now, backing away from the boys and the woman who was now getting to her feet. Narcissa snatched the wand out of Crabbe's hand and strode quickly after the retreating Millicent, firing the infamous poison green spell at the girl. In a flash it was over, and Millicent Bulstrode lay dead on the floor. Narcissa let out a heavy sigh as she stared at the dead girl, feeling only a small amount of relief. It had not gone the way she had wanted it to, but it was done. The only thing left was to rejoin the battle, and prove her loyalty to the Dark lord, and earn his favor to save her son.
"Where are we going?" Daphne asked as she followed her husband through the dark tunnel.
"Honeydukes." Harry Potter replied.
"This leads to Honeydukes?" Neville asked curiously.
"To their basement." Harry confirmed. "Which should be right…"
Harry came to the end of the tunnel and the trapdoor that led into the basement of the Hogsmeade sweet shop. Harry pushed the trap door open and climbed out, reaching back to help out his wife. Neville came next along with Tracey, Ron, Padma, Hermione, Joshua Montague, Pansy Parkinson, who Harry was still surprised to see had joined them, Michael Corner and Lisa Turpin, Fred and George Weasley, Katie Bell, Angelina Johnson, Alicia Spinnet, and finally, Ginny Weasley who dashed up the stairs without a word. The others gathered around Harry, each pulling their wands in preparation of battle while they waited to hear the next part of Harry's plan.
"First we need to make sure there are no Death Eaters in the village." Harry said. "If even one of them sees us, it could ruin everything."
"It shouldn't be long until we know for sure." Joshua said. "Blaise and Theo would have broken off from the evacuating students when they got to Hogsmeade."
"Once we know for sure, we can rush back to the castle and thin the Death Eaters numbers from behind. Remember… don't stun. Take them out permanently. Once we've taken out enough of them, I'll get Voldemort's attention, and we'll end this." Harry said, looking to each face in turn, lingering on Daphne who looked determined, yet terrified.
A tense silence fell around them as they waited for word that it was safe to move. Harry reached out and grasped Daphne's hand and squeezed it reassuringly. Daphne replied in kind, but they said nothing. Harry then looked around him, marveling at how his circle of friends had grown in a single year.
"They're on their way." Ginny Weasley announced as she returned from the upper floor. "George said they'll make contact with everyone they could and apparate here as fast as they can."
The store door opened with a ring of the bell. Everyone tensed before Theo Nott called out, "All clear!"
Harry led the others upstairs where Theo Nott and Blaise Zabini stood looking tired.
"We swept the whole village, if there are any Death Eaters here, they're well hidden." Theo said to Montague.
"No one else wanted to fight?" Montague asked. Both Blaise and Theo shook their heads sullenly.
"Too many of them have parents fighting for You-Know-Who." Blaise said. "They didn't want to fight their own families."
"It's fine." Harry said. "We'll be fine."
Daphne took Harry's hand and gave him a nervous look which he replied to with a smile.
"This is it. Your last chance to back out." Harry said looking to all of them. "I won't think any less of you."
"Oi! Can we just do this already?" Ron cried out with exasperation.
"We're with you Harry." Hermione said, giving Ron a look of agreement. "None of us are backing out."
"It's a good plan Harry." Michael Corner nodded. "Let's end this war, so we can bring our children into a world we're proud of."
The floo flared to life and Harry and the others turned as a tall rugged looking redhead stepped out, looking around and then smiling when he spied Ginny.
"Charlie?" Ron asked in surprise.
"Ginny informed me that you lot were throwing a party for the bastard responsible for Dad's death. Figured it'd be rude not to pay my respects."
"Glad to have you." Harry smiled, truly grateful.
The floo flared again and a stunningly beautiful blonde with silvery blonde hair stepped out, followed quickly by another redhead man with a dragon tooth earring.
"Bill!" Fred and George shouted.
"Fleur?" Hermione asked, looking about with confusion.
"We're here to help." Bill said, taking Fleur's hand and the blonde nodded determinedly. "And we got a few others coming."
The floo came to life again and one by one more people began to step through, none of whom Harry knew, but Charlie and Bill and Fleur greeted them all as old friends. Some of them introduced themselves to Harry, each of them claiming to be proud to accompany him in what they all hoped was the end of the war. Very soon, Honeydukes was becoming far too crowded, and Harry felt it was time.
"Alright, we all know the plan. Stick together, be careful, and let's end this for good!" Harry said more confidently then he felt.
There was a chorus of agreements and Harry gave them all a look of pride before turning to Daphne and kissing her softly on the lips. He then turned and led them out of Honeydukes and towards Hogwarts.
Severus Snape opened the door, his wand raised at the ready. He reached into his cloak pocket and took out the small jar of cloudy gray liquid and slipped it out. He could feel the protections that had been placed, and knew that it would be difficult to break through the enchantments. Yet he was surprised to find that he could feel the protections wavering. Perhaps Dumbledore had been right, and the Dark Lord's power was fading.
Slowly, and cautiously Snape entered the decrepit building, remembering the last time he was here, only two years early when he faced two of his childhood foes. The night he'd been knocked out by the Granger girl. Snape's face contorted to one of annoyance for a moment before he shoved the memory aside. He had to focus now. His life depended on it.
The front room was empty, but he could feel the magic radiating off of everything. His Dark Mark tingled as well. Snape knew that the only reason he hadn't been killed already was because of the tattoo on his left forearm.
Snape had originally intended to search through Hogsmeade, but had changed his mind when he felt a sort of pull to this dilapidated building known as the Shrieking Shack. His former master's magic had all but cried out to him.
Snape continued inside, his wand ready, a spell on his lips. And then he found what he sought in the study. Floating silently. A large transparent orb with a writhing serpent inside. Nagini. Lord Voldemort's familiar.
Snape allow himself a moment to watch the serpent before he conjured a large cauldron which he placed beneath the floating orb. The snake seemed to understand that it was now in danger and began to move within its prison with more agitation. Snape ignored the creature as he poured the cloudy gray liquid into the cauldron. He then stepped back and withdrew a pair of long dragon-hide gloves which he slipped on before taking up his wand again.
Taking a deep breath, Snape began to very carefully undo the enchantments on the house. He dared not risk failing in his endeavor. He had only a single chance at this, and if he failed, it would mean his death, along with countless others. Snape already carried the guilt of the death of the only person who had ever mattered to him. He didn't need anymore.
Snape was more than a little surprised at how easily he was managing to take down the Dark Lord's protections. He wondered if it was because the Dark Lord was weakening that badly. It was unlike Lord Voldemort to use such weak spells. Snape wished he knew the reason for the ease of his task. But he had to forget his questions for now.
He turned back to the encased serpent and stared at it for a long moment. The serpent wriggled and slithered, looking for an escape as Snape approached. The sallow-skinned man readied himself knowing he only had a single chance. With a deep breath, Snape slashed his wand, and the transparent orb disappeared and the snake fell into the cauldron. Snape slashed his wand again, but the spell missed and the snake shot out of the cauldron right at Snape. It's fangs bared, Nagini managed to latch itself onto Snape's wrist.
Snape fell back under the weight of the enraged snake. He could feel the pressure of the snake's fangs on his wrist, thanking his foresight for bringing the thick gloves which currently protected him.
The serpent began to slip itself around Snape, and the Potions master of Hogwarts found himself unable to free himself. He kept a very tight grip on his wand as he tried to hit the snake with a cutting curse. He could smell the gray liquid on the snake's body and knew that if he could not wound Nagini, it had all been for nothing. The venom had to enter the snake's bloodstream.
Nagini began to tighten herself around Snape, and he found his arms being pinned. He felt his lungs being pressed and his breath was beginning to shorten. Snape somehow got himself to his knees and tried not to breathe out, knowing that with each exhale, Nagini would tighten her coils.
Gasping for breath with his vision beginning to darken, Snape got a single foot planted underneath him and with every ounce of strength he could muster, threw himself at the grimy window. The glass shattered on impact, and Snape placed all his weight on the serpent.
Almost immediately the snake relaxed its hold on its prey and Snape knew he'd done it. As soon as he could he slipped from the serpent and grabbed it, throwing it back towards the heavy cauldron. The serpent writhed in Snape's grip trying to flee, but Snape used his wand to freeze it.
The venom had entered into the snake and when it was back within the cauldron, Snape could smell the venom beginning to work.
What he hadn't expected was the explosion. The cauldron began to smoke and shake, and Snape had to back away. There was a sound that began softly, and it frightened Snape like nothing he'd ever felt before. It was a cry. An inhuman cry. A painful agonizing cry that chilled Snape's soul. And then everything went black and Severus Snape knew nothing more.
Voldemort was panting heavily, and his body was tingling with exhaustion. He was angrier than he'd ever been in his entire existence. He was now sure beyond doubt that the destruction of his Horcruxes had severely depleted his magic. He was pleased that he'd chosen to hide Nagini in the Shrieking Shack to keep her safe. Dumbledore would have stopped at nothing to see his pet destroyed. He had to know that she was the last Horcrux he'd made. He knew of all the others after all.
Though he was weakened and enraged that he was so depleted, he took comfort in the fact that Dumbledore also seemed to be tiring. The old man was having trouble guarding against Voldemort's spells now, and the last three had actually wounded the old headmaster. Dumbledore's left leg was bleeding badly and his robes were now soaked red. He was also still coughing badly from the smoke he'd inhaled. His silvery hair was dull and dirty with sweat and dust.
The battle was nearly done as Death Eaters marched their prisoners to surround Dumbledore and Voldemort. The Hogwarts Headmaster knew that this was so everyone could witness the victory of the Dark Lord so there would be no further resistance. Dumbledore wanted to weep when he thought of how many families had been broken by this final battle. He wanted to know how many had died, but he had no time to think about it. Voldemort was raising his wand once again.
"You could have avoided all of this Dumbledore." Voldemort said coldly. "All you had to do was give me the boy. It was all I wanted. No one had to die today if you had just given Harry Potter to me."
"I am not so foolish to believe that other lives would have been spared." Dumbledore wheezed. "So long as wicked people exist, there will always be those who do what is right, and resist them. If you do somehow manage to kill Harry Potter, you will only give him strength. A martyr is much harder to defeat."
"Do not try and patronize me!" Voldemort shouted. "The people are sheep! Frightened sheep, and I am the shepherd. I've ruled over them for years even when they believed me vanquished. They even feared to speak my name, even after my supposed defeat by a child!"
"And yet, here they are!" Dumbledore said sweeping his arm around them. Many of the remaining Resistance stood helpless having been captured by the Death Eaters and having their wands confiscated. As Dumbledore turned, he saw something that made him pause. He quickly schooled his expression not wishing to inform the Dark Lord that anything was amiss.
"Standing together in defiance of you." Dumbledore continued turning back to Voldemort, and seeing the odd phenomenon again over Voldemort's shoulder. "The fear you wielded so fiercely is now crumbling. And now I plead with you once again to take this time to repent."
Voldemort laughed. He threw his head back and laughed uproariously. As he laughed, Dumbledore took the moment to look around, trying to determine if he'd been seeing things or not.
Hope bloomed in his heart anew as he witnessed the phenomenon three more times. Around the edges of the great circle of people, one by one, black-robed and masked figures were beginning to fall. Slowly, agonizingly slowly, the Death Eater's numbers were beginning to shrink. A smile began to form on the Headmaster's face as he now knew what he had to do. He had to keep the focus of the crowd on himself and the enemy. Everything now depended on him, and he resolved to not fail.
"Even now as we stand here, your power is diminishing." Dumbledore added.
"I grow tired of this Dumbledore." Voldemort said after he got himself under control. "I give YOU one final opportunity to tell me where Harry Potter is. Tell me, and I will kill you quickly. Deny me what I wish, and I will begin to question every single person here. And if they fail to provide me with the information I seek, I will kill them in front of you. Every life I take will be on your head, Dumbledore. Tell me where is Harry Potter!"
"You know I will never tell you, and I will never allow you to harm another person." Dumbledore replied.
Voldemort's smile was haunting. With a flick of his wrist, a poisonous green spell shot from his wand and impacted Hestia Jones in the chest. She fell without so much as a squeak of surprise. Dumbledore shouted as he launched into a flurry of spells which Voldemort dodged or shielded himself from. The fight continued for a bit longer until Voldemort distracted theHeadmaster with a series of cutting spells before hitting him with a piercing hex right in the chest. Dumbledore fell with a collective gasp from the crowd. The Dark Lord followed it up by splintering Dumbledore's wand with a bombardment spell. Dumbledore cast his gaze to the clear blue sky as he tried to catch his breath, his free hand covering the sucking wound in his chest.
"You have failed." Voldemort said, stalking closer to his prey. "I have won. Know this as you pass on to your 'Next Great Adventure' that you leave this world to me, and I will send Harry Potter to meet you very, very soon. No one will stop me from taking what belongs to me."
Dumbledore felt tears stinging his eyes and his body began to tremble. But then a very welcome calm filled him when he heard a single voice.
Voldemort turned with wide shocked eyes as Harry Potter stood behind him.
"SEIZE HIM!" Voldemort commanded.
No one moved. Voldemort began to turn puzzled by the fact that very few of his Death Eaters were to be seen. In fact, he was shocked to see that his captives all seemed to be armed with wands once again, and the Death Eaters he could see were being held at wand point. Harry also glanced around, relief flooding his heart as he saw familiar faces in the crowd. Some of them clearly hurt, but otherwise alive.
"What is this?" Voldemort asked in shock.
"A trap." Harry said, turning his eyes to Voldemort. "And you fell right into it Tom."
"What are you talking about?" Voldemort snarled.
"The end." Harry said, looking past Voldemort at the still form of Dumbledore. Harry could see that he was still breathing, but he didn't know how long that would last if he didn't get help.
"Let me get help for Dumbledore, and then you and I can finally end this." Harry said but Voldemort screamed as three people started forward to help the Headmaster.
"LEAVE HIM!" The Dark Lord's voice echoed loudly. "I wish for him to see you die, Potter."
Harry's head fell forward and he began to shake it slowly. "All your power, wasted." He sighed.
Voldemort cocked his head to the side, staring at Harry in bemusement. He wanted to laugh, but he then began to notice how weak he was feeling. The adrenaline from his battle with Dumbledore began to ebb, and was replaced by weakness. Exhaustion. He began to feel cold, and clammy, and his heart began to beat faster in his chest. He stared at the boy who remained standing with his arms at his sides, as if he thought that the Dark Lord was no threat to him.
That disturbed Voldemort more than the strange sensations he felt in his body.
"You could have been great. You could have been much more of a legend than Dumbledore. But now... no one will remember the name of Lord Voldemort. But I will make it my life's mission to make sure everyone knows the folly of the half-blood Tom Riddle who sought power and failed in his attempt at immortality. The wizard who was defeated by his own arrogance… and a child."
"You will never be able to defeat me Harry Potter. Dumbledore wasn't able to defeat me. I will live on long after this day."
"No you won't."
Lord Voldemort turned and stumbled back a step as Severus Snape parted the crowd and tossed something thick and heavy onto the stone floor of the courtyard. Snape looked dirty anddisheveled and very tired, yet proud. Voldemort looked at the object that lay before him and snarled as he realized it was what was left of his familiar. Nagini was shriveled and blacked and burned. Another Horcrux had been destroyed.
"You betrayed me Severus?" Voldemort said softly and slowly as he turned to stare at the greasy-haired, sallow-skinned man who stared back defiantly.
"It was you who betrayed me." Snape said coldly. "I begged you to spare her life. I gave you everything and asked only one thing in return, and you murdered her."
"You betrayed me?" Voldemort asked again, his voice rising. "AARGH!"
Voldemort's wand slashed upward and the killing curse flew at Snape only to crash harmlessly into a boulder that appeared in front of it.
Voldemort stared in awe and turned to see who had conjured the rock only to find Harry with his wand raised, turning to look back at the Dark Lord with contempt.
"You won't take another life." Harry said evenly. Voldemort began to chuckle softly at this as he faced Harry fully now.
"Very well Harry Potter." Voldemort smiled cruelly. "Our great rivalry has finally reached its end, and I will allow you one moment to say goodbye to your friends. Then I will kill you, and everyone here. For I am Lord Voldemort, and I am immortal!"
All eyes turned once again as someone made their way through the crowd. Sirius Black, looking far worse than Snape approached. His hair was matted with blood and dirt, and his left eye was swollen shut. He was limping badly, favoring his left leg, yet looked as if he'd just heard the world's greatest joke. He pulled back his coat and reached into a leather sack as he spoke again.
"My dear cousin really gave her all." Sirius said as he drew had hand out and tossed a blacked and broken ring onto the ground. "You would have been most proud of her milord."
Sirius said the last with as much contempt as he could manage. "She used every nasty trick she knew, some of which I'm sure you taught her."
Sirius pulled his hand from the bag and dropped a half melted silver locket on the ground, followed by a water-damaged leather-bound book and a twisted and burned tiara.
"In the end, I had to drop a house on her. Kind of funny when you think about it. I seem to recall a muggle children's story where they killed a wicked witch in the same fashion." Sirius snickered as he threw a metal cup on the ground. It was cleft and melted, though Harry thought it might have once been made of gold.
"After I woke up, and Fawkes found me, I took the Sword of Gryffindor and destroyed the last one before I came here. And it looks like I got here just in time to see my godson kick your arse." Sirius grinned. Voldemort stared in fear at his broken soul anchors, littered before him.
"Are you ready Tom?" Harry asked, causing Voldemort to turn and stare at his enemy with the deepest loathing as he raised his wand at Harry's heart.
"You will not be the one to destroy me!"
"You're right." Harry said as he gave a single nod. "It won't be me."
Voldemort had the barest second to wonder what the boy was playing at when a young woman came forward, placing herself next to Harry and taking his hand as she raised her wand at Voldemort.
"Who are you?" Voldemort hissed.
"Daphne Potter." Daphne said as she fired a deep red spell which the Dark Lord batted away. He snarled as he attempted to kill Potter's bitch when his shoulder suddenly exploded in pain. Turning on his heel, he saw another young woman with bushy brown hair, and her wand raised. There was fear on her face, yet her eyes were hard and determined.
"Hermione Granger." She said shakily.
Voldemort snarled again as he went to kill Hermione when he cried out again, falling to his hands and knees.
"Ron Weasley." Ron said as he stepped forward. Voldemort turned to take in the tall redhead whose face was a mask of anger. His wand was leveled at the Dark Lord who felt his own rage boiling within his chest. A feral growl began in his throat as he began to rise, but before he could get to his feet, he was hit in the spine by two spells which knocked him flat. And then his left hand burst with pain as it was burned to a blackened crisp.
Voldemort's back arched in pain as he was hit with a piercing hex on his rear end.
"Astoria?" Cyrus Greengrass exclaimed. "What the… you were supposed to go with the other children!"
"No way I was letting anyone hurt my family again!" Astoria replied with determination.
"Sirius Black." Sirius said stepping forward and taking aim. Voldemort's wand splintered and exploded from the force of Sirius's spell. The Marauder stepped back with a heavy sigh. Harry looked across the courtyard at his Godfather and the two nodded to one another. Harry's parents, Sirius's best friends were about to be avenged.
"The future Mrs. Michael Corner."
"Theodore Nott, Jr."
"Ginny Weasley. This is for our father you bastard!"
Voldemort let out a cry that moments ago would have made people run in fear, but the tide had turned. More and more people came forward hitting the Dark Lord with every kind of painful spell, inflicting just a small amount of the suffering they'd felt at his hands back at him. Voldemort raged and howled and cried out with each excruciating hex.
It was in this moment that the Dark Lord had a great epiphany. It was not these people who had defeated him. It had been himself. He had put so much of himself in his Horcruxes to protect his soul, but he had never once considered what could happen to him if they were ever destroyed. His soul had been shattered and separated, and so had been his power. While hisHorcruxes remained whole, he retained his great power, but with the destruction of each one, his strength had been stripped away. he had been weakened. Breaking down the wards around the school had severely depleted him, and with Nagini's death, he had been made no stronger than a child. He could have laid waste to all of these little blights once upon a time. But today... he was beaten, and the thing he feared the most was calling to him.
Harry Potter stepped forward and knelt in front of the fallen Dark Lord and spoke softly to him. Voldemort looked up, struggling now to even breathe. His wounds were excruciating to him, and all he wanted was to reach up and grabbed the boy's throat and squeeze the life out of him.
"This Tom. This is the power that Love can give." Harry said. "This is the power you never bothered to try and understand. now you see just how powerful it can be."
Voldemort reached out to Harry, but the boy was just out of reach. His heart was now pounding in his chest as he tried once again to get to his feet, but his shattered knees wouldn't allow it. He could barely hold himself up because of the wounds to his shoulder and spine. He looked around to see all of those who had dared to wound him coming closer, and more people approaching him with their wands raised. And then he could hear something. Something that no one else seemed to be aware of. A heavy cloak swishing as someone approached. Lord Voldemort began looking all around for the source of the sound and finally saw it. A tall figure moving towards him. It swept through the crowd who paid no mind to it. In fact, no one moved to allow this figure to approach him. It moved as if floating, not unlike a Dementor. it finally came to a stop, just behind Potter. Voldemort looked up into the black hood and saw nothing. An infinite void of nothingness.
Cold wrapped around Voldemort's heart as he stared at the figure that no one else could see. Potter stood up and took a step back, passing through the robe of the figure in black. Potter began to raise his wand and aim it at Voldemort as did the others surrounding the fallen Dark Lord. Voldemort could not hear what Potter was saying now because the figure in black had begun to kneel and reach up to pull back the hood. All around the Dark Lord, wand tips lit up but Voldemort took no notice as the figure revealed it's skull and began to open its mouth. There was a soft hissing sound as a large serpent began to slither out of the skull's maw.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Voldemort cried out with a fear that surprised Harry as it tore at his heart. He never thought he could ever feel pity for someone like Voldemort. Yet here as he died under the fire of a hundred wands, Harry couldn't stop but feeling sorry for what had once been a boy named Tom Riddle as his body was turned to ash.
A strange silence fell as those gathered took in what they had just witnessed. The demise of the most feared dark wizard in history. All anyone could seem to do is to stare at what had once been Lord Voldemort, or look questioningly at whomever was closest to them.
"Is... is it over?" someone asked.
Severus Snape was the first one to approach the ashes. he rolled up his sleeve, and Harry was stunned to see the man who'd always been so callous and cold... begin to weep.
"Severus?" Came a husky breathy voice. Harry turned to find Albus Dumbledore still lying on the ground where'd he'd fallen, though his head now rested in the lap of Minerva McGonagall who was fighting back her own tears.
"It's fading." Snape said holding up his arm. Harry and everyone else looked to see the Dark mark fading from deep black to a faint gray on Snape's arm. "It's over."
The first cheer came from Hagrid, and was soon joined by everyone. Harry barely had time to celebrate as he was beckoned by McGonagall. He grasped Daphne's hand and rushed over to the Transfiguration teacher. He and Daphne knelt as Dumbledore reached up. Harry took the old man's hand and gripped it gently.
"Thank you Harry." Dumbledore wheezed. "That was a most brilliant plan, and I am so very pleased with you."
"You helped sir." Harry pointed out as he fought back his own tears. "I couldn't have done it without your help."
"Harry, you're free now." Dumbledore wheezed. "Your life is now your own. If I may give you one last piece of advice…"
"Of course." Harry nodded quickly. Dumbledore gave his pupil's hand a soft squeeze as he smiled weakly.
"Do not squander it." Dumbledore said softly. "Chase your dreams, and love with all of your heart and soul. Promise me…"
"I promise sir." Harry nodded.
"And I promise to make sure he keeps it." Daphne said through her own tears.
"I have no doubt Miss Greengrass… Or rather, Mrs. Potter." Dumbledore smiled, and both teens laughed.
"Now, I would very much like to speak to my brother." Dumbledore said. Harry and Daphne nodded and moved away allowing for another to take their place. They stood back a respectful distance while Dumbledore spoke to his brother. A few moments later Dumbledore's brother rose, and there was a soft mournful cry from McGonagall. Aberforth Dumbledore hung his head and Harry understood that Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore had passed away.
Narcissa Malfoy sprinted through her home, gathering up all the most valuable possesions she could. She knew she had very little time now. She had returned home the moment she realized that the Battle of Hogwarts had ended and that the Dark Lord had been defeated. She had emerged from the castle just as the Greengrass girl had stepped in front of Harry Potter. The events that followed had shocked Narcissa. Children had beaten the Dark Lord. Children unified to fight for their friend. United in love. It might have inspired Narcissa twenty years ago. But today it had frightened her. And she knew that if she didn't escape, Draco would die without her.
So Narcissa had quickly made her way out of Hogwarts and apparated the moment she was able. As loyal as Crabbe and Goyle were, Narcissa knew they would tell of what she had done the moment they were questioned. She needed to gather as much gold as she could and leave the country with her son before the Aurors caught her. The war was over. The Dark lord had been defeated, and she would finally be free of Lucius. It was time to start a new life. The only thing she really needed to decide, was where she wished to start this second chance she'd been given. Perhaps Draco would have a suggestion or two.
With one final look around the grand dining room, Narcissa shrunk the heavy traveling trunk that was near overflowing with valuables she could sell for lots of gold, Narcissa Malfoy spun on her heel and disapparated hoping never to be seen again.
The celebrations that had begun when Voldemort had died faded into respectful silence as Dumbledore's body was levitated into the castle and placed in the hospital wing until burial arrangements could be made.
The rest of the afternoon faded into evening with groups gathering to find and help out the wounded while gathering the dead. The Aurors, under the command of Amelia Bones gathered the Death Eaters and took them away to await trials.
Slowly people began to gather in the Great Hall with families reuniting and friends recounting tales of the day. Harry found himself the center of attention as many people pleaded to hear how he was able to defeat the Dark Lord and how he had managed to take out so many Death Eaters. It quickly grated on Harry as all he wanted was time with those people who mattered most to him.
When the House elves began providing food for everyone, Harry found an opportunity to slip away. He made his way through the Great Hall and slipped outside into the warm spring night. He meandered into the courtyard and took a deep breath of the spring night air. He glanced over to the spot where Voldemort had fallen once and for all and he felt a wave of relief wash over him. He was free at last. The prophecy had been fulfilled and Harry was now free to live his life the way he wanted. The question was... what happened next?
Almost as if the universe were answering him, she came to him. She smiled at him as he reached out and took her hand. she slipped into his embrace and sighed as he held her.
"Everyone's looking for you." Daphne said softly.
"I just needed a minute." He replied.
"I figured." Daphne nodded. She pulled back a bit so she could look him in the eyes. "I got Neville and Tracey to cover for you. Hermione and Ron are helping as well. I think we've got a few minutes before the public demands your presence again."
"Thanks." Harry chuckled.
Daphne guided him to a nearby bench and sat him down, taking his lap and wrapping her arms around his neck and laying her head on his shoulder.
"This was one hell of a way to start our marriage. Taking down a dark wizard. Not many couples can say that's how their marriage began." Daphne remarked.
"I guess not." Harry chuckled softly.
They fell silent, comfortable with each other in their closeness. Harry ran his hand up and down Daphne's back lightly and she smiled as she gave him a soft kiss.
"What's on your mind Harry?" Daphne asked after a bit. Harry shrugged.
"I guess I'm just wondering what happens next." He claimed. "I've been fighting for almost all my life in some form or another, and now it's seems like it's all over. "
"Well, first we finish the year. I guess they're canceling NEWTs and OWLs. We'll be able to take them during the summer. So, we take our exams, and then we go on our Honeymoon and then come back for sixth year."
Harry began to laugh lightly and Daphne fixed him with a questioning gaze. Harry managed to calm himself as he looked at his wife.
"It's just... I might actually have a year without some kind of life threatening adventure! No monsters, or evil wizards trying to kill me. I can just have a calm, quiet year with my friends... and my wife."
"Well... I don't know about that." Daphne said, looking away from Harry. "I think there's a significant possibility that there will be a monster."
"What?" Harry looked stunned and confused.
"And I definitely think it'll be an adventure." Daphne said turning back to Harry with a soft smile. She looked him deep in the eyes before looking down quickly. Harry followed her gaze to where her hand rested on her stomach. He looked back up at her face to find her smile had changed. And then it dawned on him what she was telling him.
"Are...we're gonna...I'm gonna..."
Daphne just nodded and all at once she found herself being lifted up in his arms and swung around as he shouted with sheer joy which was soon infectious. Daphne found herself laughing until tears fell from her crystalline blue eyes. She kissed him and he held her tightly to him, both of them feeling anxious about their future, but certain that there was nothing they could not face together.
B/N: First and foremost, I need to thank James Spookie for allowing me to participate in this adventure. I have enjoyed my role in the writing of 'The Legacy Preservation Act' from the very start. I have learned so much about the craft of writing from James, and for that I'll always be grateful. One thing I learned is we have quite different ideas about what goes into a story. Still, I was highly gratified at how many of my suggestions were eventually incorporated, albeit often in a form I hadn't anticipated. If James ever wants me to help with another story, I'll be there in a second. Once again James, THANK YOU!
The Ghostly Minion