"People like us don't go out at night cause people like them see us for what we are"
― Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist
Dudley was aware he knew far less than a pinch of dust about the wizard world. Therefore, the sixteen year old awaited trouble. Harry, on the other hand, was the pretence of relaxation. The cousin was not fooled though. The fifteen year old looked like crap, and honestly, in other circumstance, Dudley would have been inclined to make bets on when the Saviour would collapse straight on his face.
''Seconds tick by Fudge. Make a decision.'' taunted Harry. However, his cool tone was off. There was too much soreness in his voice. One who knew not the teenager would interpret it as illness. Yet, Dudley had beaten the same person far too many times, to not know that it was pain.
''I will not be threatened by a child!''
The young boxer rolled his eyes. One needed great patience to deal with that man. On the other hand, only a blind person could see health in the image Harry was making of himself. Not only was he drunk, he looked exhausted, and frankly, at the end of his rope. Harry's condition did put forward the question if he was simply joking. As in, trying to get people scared to lay off his back. Harry could be playing on time, and lying. The youngest of all present looked like he could not take much more, but then, what did Dudley knew about him? Apparently, according to ginger freak one and two, his cousin had fought a damned dragon.
''Does not matter anymore, He is here.''
Dudley tensed, however, it had less to do with actual words, and more to do with the fact that all those wizards jumped. Their reaction was intense, whether they were the Death Eaters or the good guys. For them all to be terrified, Dudley wondered how deeply Harry was screwed in the entire prophesies deal.
The young boxer yelled across the street toward his cousin: ''Harry, you idiot, stop whatever you are doing!''
Harry turned his gaze in his direction. Dudley saw it clearly: reproach, bitterness and determination had settled in the youth's gaze. At this moment, Dudley could not have felt guiltier that the boy across the street was more like a stranger then family, and he knew he was in part responsible for it.
''You hate us? Fantastic! But those ginger freak-friends of yours are as much here as I am, as that old-guy is, and as much as all the other innocent people in the damned area! As much as you are! Get your head back on earth Harry!''
''Don't give that look Big D, I told you all to run.'' The insufferable mess of trouble shot back. And yet, may be it was wishful thinking, but Dudley saw some of the determination fade away.
Severus felt the mark tinkle on his arm. He schooled his expression, increased his shields, and prayed that he will not find himself tonight in a position to end his spying days once and for all today.
Potter's brat petulantly looked to the side, before continuing to nurse his drink with a faraway gaze. The air around the muggle area slowed-down. People around must have been praying that the shadows were playing tricks on their eyes. Yet, as silently as a ghost, the Dark Lord suddenly stood in the middle of it all.
His terrible red eyes scanned the crowed with amusement. All the fallen Death Eaters knew well that their master was looking into the thoughts of all present. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named stood there, with a thoughtful expression on his face, before the smallest of smiles gestured upon his lips, spilling of cruelty.
Severus watched as his Master freed all those pathetic followers of his from the binds put on by Potter's brat. The Aurors stood with the perfect dueling stance, yet what was it to Voldemort? When the echo of the man simply snapped his fingers with a quick spell to make them all crumble to the ground.
Of course, Severus, as the Potion Master and spy, was spared of it, even if he came with the Order. By a humor of the universe, Petunia with her son stood behind him, even if there was a significant distance between them all. Either Voldemort had not noticed them, did not wish to challenge the blood protection, or very simply, knew he had nothing to fear from the unarmed muggles.
Fudge was grasping on his breath. Severus swallowed. He had always thought lowly of the man, yet when he saw the prideful fool face the monster, he felt the tiniest drop of sympathy for the man's terror.
''Good-evening Minister, Dear Aurors… Harry.'' The Dark Lord's amusement won over, and the man laughed to the discomfort of all. Even the Death Eaters, those who had some sense, knew their master will be furious later due to their incompetence from before.
The Boy-Who-Lived openly ignored Voldemort. Taking another sip of the drink as if the rest of the world did not exist. Voldemort's temper was short, for in the next moment the bottle was crashed against a wall.
Potter looked pointlessly at his empty hand, and finally gave prove of being at least slightly aware by muttering: ''Mean.''
''I see you had quite some fun tonight? Hm? Though I must admit, your speech from moments ago has spiked my curiosity. Are you truly able to let those people die on your watch? Just like that?''
''I warned them all like three times. What was I supposed to do? Imperio them all to save themselves? It's their life.'' The teenager muttered skeptically.
''And yet you had not left.'' Voldemort stated, waving his wand around and causing the binds that had previously hold down the Death Eaters to now immobilize practically anyone else who held magic on the street and was not marked. Alastor almost won his battle, if not six Death Eaters had jumped in to pull him down.
Potter's brat remained silent. The Dark Lord slowly approached the fifteen year old, making Severus's hands clench, before he forced them to relax.
''So much anger. So much envy. So much power. Tell me Harry, blood purity aside, and the battle of dark against white too, why have you always refused my offers to join me?'' Voldemort's words earned may shocked gazes, together with dread.
The drunk boy said the truth, it was clear by his entire posture: ''You're a monster. You killed many, including my parents.''
''Ah yes, you speak of the boy from the Triwizard Tournament? He was a whimp, I'm sure everyone had already forgotten about him. Two words, and he was gone. Hm, who else? Oh, right! The Weasley girl. A somewhat beauty today, I'll admit, yet so easy to mess around, until she knows herself no longer.''
''And, please Harry, of all the deaths I should be guilty for, your mudblooded mother was not one of them. She jumped in front of my spell. I had not entered that house with the thought of her demise. She was supposed to be a reward to one of my Death Eaters. Her death, can only be blamed on her. You know to agree with me, after all, I do make sure you relive those moments in your sleep.'' Dudley heard the monster say. The disgust the teenager felt was nothing he had ever experienced in his life.
''It's probably because I am drunk, but I pity you, Tom. You truly do not understand emotions.'' Harry replied thoughtfully, being the one least unaffected by what they saw. At the thought that those were his cousin's nightmares, even more so that they were memories, Dudley honestly wanted to puke. Yet, the fifteen year old continued, making needles turn in all of their stomachs: ''If you ever truly considered making me an ally, then, why did I always feel that you want to take me down to my grave?''
''When I kill someone, they're supposed to stay dead.''
''That can be irritating.'' The raven haired boy agreed as his gaze was turned to the side, he turn his glassy drunken eyes on the monster as he replied with a pointed half-smile: ''I would know.''
''Indeed'' The Dark Lord assured in the friendliest voice, making goose dumps appear on Dudley's skin, ''. I've been in your head Harry, I know all about you: You're not Slytherin enough to risk their lives''
Harry rose his eyes high in the air, closing one of his eyes as if in deep concentration. He tilted his head toward the side, resting it on his shoulder, before giving his arch enemy an unreadable look: ''Makes you the fifth person to underestimate me today.''
Suddenly, his cousin took out his wand, and attacked the other. The monster was quick to dodge his spell. The Order Members had a new light in their eyes. Hope probably came back to them, as they realized what Dudley already knew: Harry was unpredictable when furious, but he was a dump sacrificing fool. The Death Eaters moved to help, yet the red eyed freak stopped their advance with a wave of his hand, determination settling in his murderous gaze.
Voldemort let lighting out of his hand, which Harry dodged. This cousin yelled the word: ''Dobby!'' before something with eyes appeared in the middle of the warzone, yet the creature was quick to take action to attack Voldemort from the back.
''Kreacher!'' Another name it seemed, for a similar green skinned thing blinked into existence before their eyes. The elf saw Harry in trouble, casting protego every three seconds. The Kreacker-thing caused the fallen brinks around to speed in the direction of Voldemort and his followers, yet the Dark Lord overpowered his spell, and threw the creature into a wall himself, causing the thing to fall down on the ground like a bag of potatoes.
The other green thing, Dobby, was quick by his friend's side. He put his hand on the ground, and spelled the floor to ice. Harry tried to attack from the side to make Voldemort loss his footing. Yet, the adult wizard was not that impressed. With a cruel smirk he transformed the water to fire, chasing the poor thing away.
The fire soon transformed into a hell resembling a snake, and flying toward Harry. The unfirmly standing teen had his eyes widened, and only a cloud of white smoke appeared as he suddenly found himself away from the boiling stones, and even closer to the dark wizard.
Harry obviously had not controlled the place he was materializing in again, for it was just next to the monster. Voldemort caught his throat with one hand, before throwing the fifteen year old into a wall with inhuman force. Harry lost his breath, as his eyes became glassy. Dudley swallowed with trembling hands. The police-wizards were looked with frightened useless gazes from their bound or wounded positions.
Dudley felt the contradictory urge to punch the monster in the face, yet he wished not to end like his Aunt Lily- it was strange to think of his mother's sister in such a way. The dark wizard walked slowly toward him before raising Harry up in the air like a doll, with a sneer on his face.
''Fool, you think you have a chance against me? You are nothing but a child, molded into a weapon by Dumbeldor for his own use. A toy.'' He hissed to his ear with humor. Harry's head must have cleared out, for he grimaced in fury with more aware eyes.
''You know what? You were right Tom. I was never planning to put people's lives at risk.'' The fifteen year old grasped out loud as he struggled against the Dark Lord. His breath was shallow, yet it echoed with force against the Victorian buildings, ''But, guess what? I'm a freak.''
Harry put out a hand in the direction of a building. With a concentrated grimace, he shouted accio, before the metal sped toward him. It did not slow down, instead, the metal went straight through the smaller 's wizards shoulder, and right into Voldemort's chest.
The noseless freak stumbled backwards. Dudley watched to see the wound, yet Harry had clearly gotten that monster in a lung. Regardless, Voldemort was wounded severely, for he suddenly dematerialized from the poor London street… only to reappear few meters to the side.
The green flame was approaching his cousin. Knowing what will come, Dudley thought the urge to through-up. Harry ducted out, looking like he twisted his ankle on the way. The place where Harry stood a moment ago was now deserted. Most of the wall collapsed, while many other bricks were falling spontaneously. His cousin managed to get his wand firmly in his hand, before yelling a different spell.
The entire matter took a surprising turn, when Voldemort screamed the same word. For a strange reason, harmless lighting passed between the two wizards, before both of their wands flew out of their hands, and landed in the grasp of their enemy. Harry stared transfixed at the stick he now held. Obvious confusion and shock radiated off his expression, as he looked bewildered toward the Dark Lord, who was now holding his wand. Just by the pause in their cursing, Dudley suspected that this was not intended from either wizard.
Dudley felt his mom sneak the keys out of his hand. He let her, far too preoccupied by the fight. The wizards shot spells out of each other's wands, only to cause an explosion as the magic of the two met. The sheer wave from it caused many to fall to the ground, while lighting sparks erupted all around to accompany their previously less messy duel.
The muggle teen could see his shadow behind reflected on the bricked floor… wait, shadow? There had been no lantern with yellow light behind him. Feeling threatened by the possibility of one of those freaks trying to attack him from the back, Dudley made a move toward the side and watched what had been behind. He found there his parents' car, with his mother inside. Her face was deathly pale. Her gaze hard a stone. Dudley swallowed, unable to put a name to his mother's expression. Was she so scared that she was about to drive away? Leave Harry? Even leave him? Her son had a hard time to understand what was going in her head to choose to raise his cousin the way she did, now, Dudley wondered if he had ever seen his mom as anything else then his mom, and not the entire person she was.
The blond woman turned the keys in the car, and the motor came to life. Other wizards noticed, and one of the evil ones let out an amused chuckle, laughing at the non-magical woman. The car moved… yet, it was to the front, and not to the back. It took less than three seconds, while his mom pushed the gas pedal to its maximum, the motor screaming in protest, while she accelerated straight on the monster who had murdered her sister.
It was to be expected, he tried to jump out the way by transforming into his shadowed version. However, to all their astonishment, she managed to hit him with the edge of the car, making to Dark Lord tumble down toward the ground while he held his obviously broken legs with a painful grimace.
Harry started with eyes wider then Dudley had ever seen, and so did the rest of the gathering, disregarding of the group they belonged to.
''That's for my sister, you bastard.''
The monster looked at her furiously, while his hand started to slowly close into a fist. Simultaneously, the car started to shrink on itself, with his mother still inside.
''Harry! Do something!'' Dudley heard himself yell before he even formulated the thought.
''Aunt jump out!''
She launch at the passage door, pulling the door handle furiously, before trying to push her way free open. Both attempts failed, as the car condensed while the monster smirked. The air stirred again as the gathering watched the scene. Harry attempted to stand up, yet his bad foot made him stumble. A white fume appeared around the teenager. The kid Dudley had ''Harry Hunted'' shot out of the spot he was standing at like a bullet.
Just like Voldemort seemed capable of flying before, his enemy did so too, directly targeting the Dark Lord, pushing him far away which made the freak loose concentration on the magic, before the two wizards crashed into the half-collapsing abandoned building. Whatever the two did inside next, had caused the six floors of brinks to rush downwards, leaving unbreathable smoke in its place.
Chaos erupted as the cracking sounds echoed all around. Someone grabbed him, it was luckily one of the ginger twin freaks, before Dudley felt compressed by a narrowed tube. He disappeared hearing a feminine scream and another wicked laugh, and seeing the curly-black haired witch roughly grab the girl who was always changing her appearance.
Snape held a cloth to his face, using his wand to push away the dust in the air. The scar on his hand was not burning, yet it was ever present. Voldemort was alive, yet, where in the world was Potter. For all his logic, he prayed that the child had apparated away. The smoke was clearing, letting him see vaguely the completely collapsed building.
There was no time to waste, he had to inform Albus of this. Severus apparate straight in front the gates of Hogwarts, where the wards ended, only to stop in shock. A ragged body with a dirty mod of raven hair was lying by the entrance.
He took Potter's brat in his arms. The Dark Lord's wand fell from his unconscious hands, and with reculance Snape levitated it to be place in his pocket. The Potion Professor quickly cast spells to enable the two to pass inside Hogwarts without being seen. He walked steadily toward the castle. Snape felt the coldness radiating off the fifth year student. The child's heart was erratic, most likely due to the severe blood loose the boy had been subjected to.
Severus walked the way to the infirmary, only to find the chambers dark and empty. He almost hoped Ron Weasley was still being treated, for then there would be someone to question where in the world Poppy had wondered off to. Yet, the old mediwitch was missing, and the issue in his arms was a more important than this inconvenience.
Snape changed his trajectory and made his way to his own quarters. He focused on his spells. Though the hour was late, he could never be certain if the children of Death Eaters decided or not to disregard the curfew. For all the twisted humor of the Universe, Flinch had passed by them on the stairs. At least, only the fat cat had smelled their presence. The useless caretaker was too much of an idiot to understand the source of Mrs Norriss distress.
Potter was shivering, and the Potion Master sped up his space. The boy was light for a fifteen year old, smaller than his father had been at the same age too. This did not signify that his arms were not growing tired. Severus Snape pressed the boy closer, to ease the aching muscles and to reduce that child's shaking.
He entered the quarters and slowly lied Potter's brat down on the living room couch. The Potion Master teared the sleeve of the white shirt off, revealing the repulsing wound. The bleeding was reducing on its own, yet the marvelous healing abilities the Boy Who Lived's cousin claimed the existence of were absent. The child let out a pained wince as the Potion Master gently place his hand on the boy's wrist to feel the pulse. The man rolled the sleeve away only to notice the large buries forming from the brutal fight with the Dark Lord.
Severus started with a double dose of the blood replenishing potion, followed by the pepper up potion to give the abused body energy to regenerate. By the time he was holding a calming draught to the boy's lips, Potter's brat's emerald eyes few open as he weakly flinch away from the man.
''Calm yourself.'' The thirty six year old instructed. ''You are at Hogwarts.''
The boy's eyes were glassy, and it took the rebellious teen dozens seconds before the information was processed. In the meantime, Severus administered following potions, before he'll have to take care of the ripped tissues and possibly broken bones.
The boy took deep breaths as his half opened eyes studied every move of his most despised teacher. Although, considering what they all learn of Umbrindge this evening, he possibly was the boy's second most despised Professor. For a strange reason, Severus felt angry about the information, even more, when he held the teen's hand to examine the scar. Potter did not have enough energy to pull the hand away, though the teenager tried to do so. With a stoic expression, Severus set the hand back down. The scar would fade, he knew how to speed the process up too, but if the boy wanted the souvenir of his fifth year's Defence against Dark Arts Professor removed, then only a glamour would be efficient.
''Brace yourself. This is going to burn.'' The Potion Master advised before cleaning the rip on both sides of the fifteen year old's shoulder. He probably had managed to break a record by how fast he had completed the task. Despite his continuous dislike toward the boy for the past five years, he did not enjoy the boy tensed when he felt the healing salve take effect. Severus proceeded to bandage the wound tightly with his wand, knowing that the next steps in order to heal the rip could wait. He used his redded hand to conjure a patronous, before the animal sped past the ancient walls, out to search Dumbeldor.
''If you were not this drunk, I could have given you proper painkillers.'' He muttered in a scolding tone to the boy, unsure what else he could do. He took notice of the boy's heavily swelled ankle, and with a basic spell diagnosed it to be just twisted. He moved the boy's shirt slightly, to notice buries forming on his back from being slammed into a wall. At least, Potter had no broken bones. Finally, the Potion Master remembered that the numbing spell was save to use. It would paralyses the desired parts of the body, yet would also make the situation far easier by numbing the nerves.
Potter choose the moment to gather his strengths and scoop away from his Professor as far as the sofa let him. Severus continued his spell casting despite the boy's protest, deciding that he would not waste his breath on the half aware fool. Silence doomed over his quarters before Potter's confused tone broke in a hoarse voice: ''At least we know now that I'm a better at magic than I knew.''
''You have more luck then brain cells, that is what we know for sure.'' The Potion Master sneered down at the wounded child. ''As for your magical talents, unless you are planning to walk into a battle against the Dark Lord with absolute loss of control and pray for accidental magic to save your worthless hide, you are just as useless as you were two days ago, Potter. Potential means nothing without practice.''
''I'd like to practice.'' The teenager muttered in a way of backtalk.
''Shut up and try to keep your foot still.'' Severus ordered, gently taking the limb, to test the effectiveness of his spell. The Boy-Who-Lived seemed unaware of the movement, therefore Snape continued to apply a mixture of three salves before bandaging the area. During this time, Potter was on the verge of dozing off. What gave the boy the idea he had such a right was lost on the thirty-six year old.
''Your Hogsmate privilege is forever cancelled. You will redo every single essay you had to hand in for my class. If I will see a reason to suspect anyone helped the poor Savior, or you fail to complete the task, you will redo every assignment in every class you took at Hogwarts. Furthermore, if I hear of you touching alcohol, I'll make sure you won't graduate.'' And that's just the beginning, Severus thought with some satisfaction.
''Mhhh-Hmmm'' The fifteen year old nodded sleeply.
''You are not allowed to risk your life.'' This time, he did not even receive an unconscious nod from the fool.
Severus put a thick blanket around his pale student. The Potion Professor leaned against the back of his chair. He let out a sigh of relief as he gazed at his work. He'll make sure to force some pinch of sense into the nuisance tomorrow. Now, he'll let Lily's brat heal.