A/N – 1) This is my first attempt at fan fiction, so I hope that you will go easy on me
A/N – 2) This has been significantly edited, hopefully for the better. Thanks to Eltanin Rose, randver, AmazinglyAwesome & the Unreal Insomniac for their comments, thoughts and brilliant pieces of advice – hopefully I have taken your points and improved this piece of work and not ruined it.
A/N – 3) following the advice of Eltanin Rose & the Unreal Insomniac (if you're looking for a great read try their story The Amalgamation Agreement), this story is now beta'd by CasketFan5 – who is try to make me look good, I hope he has succeeded.
It was quiet now, 3am and the castle, which had forever felt alive with magic and life, felt muted as if it were aware of the great losses that the magical world had suffered in the past year. Debris lay everywhere, narrow paths had been picked out between the piles, so that people could still navigate the hallways.
It was through the gloom, a young man had walked, unable to sleep with his mind a jumble of thoughts, accusations, and self-recriminations. His friends had tried earlier in the evening to get him to rest, but his mind refused to shut down. Constantly replaying what if scenarios that had only served to frustrate him further.
He had complied with their wishes, by pretending to go to the tower and lay down. As soon as he could no longer hear them, he had disillusioned himself and had again slipped quietly from the room, to roam the halls again looking for the bodies of the slain that had yet to be found, so that he would know what the true cost had actually been, and to beg forgiveness from cold lifeless eyes.
He found their two bodies amongst the rubble, just below the entrance to the dungeons. A young Hufflepuff girl maybe a third or fourth year had died from what looked like a piercing hex to the abdomen whilst to the young man's surprise a Slytherin of similar age had died clutching her hand, his chest a pulpy mess.
From the positioning of the bodies, it was clear to the young man that they were protecting each other and had died in the attempt; something about these two shook loose a fundamental pillar of the young man's consciousness, why would a Slytherin be protecting a Hufflepuff?
He shook his head clearing away the nagging thoughts and doubts that his mind conjured up. After carefully clearing way the detritus littering the bodies and closing their eyes, he turned away, his anger seething and bubbling to the surface, he leant his head against the cool wall, struggling to bring himself under control.
Two young lives, stuffed out before they had a chance, and it was his fault, he had brought the battle here. His mistake, his fault, all this death was his fault. It took a while before his ragged breathing slowly returned to normal; head bowed he reverently wrapped the bodies together in a conjured white cotton sheet. Preparing to leave, he swallowed the bitterness that seemed to have taken up residence in his throat.
Taking a deep breath, he turned to head back up to the entry hall, glancing once again at the couple he had just wrapped. Yet again, his mind tried to focus on the fact that the other search parties had not found these two. Why hadn't they been discovered yet? It wasn't as if they were buried under piles of rubble.
Clamping down with his limited occlumency skills that he had developed in the last year, and grabbing hold of that thought his mind pierced through the fog and he immediately understood the implications, someone had cast a confundus charm or similar across the dungeon entrance.
'Why' was a question that he determined could wait until later, peering down the stairs he gathered himself turned and moved towards the dungeons lighting his wand with a lumos.
He was surprised at how little damage was down here once he reached the lower level, knowing the layout of the castle intimately he knew he had a decision to make. The Hufflepuff and the Slytherin dorms lay in opposite directions the Hufflepuff dorms over looked the Black Lake and were built into the cliffs on the current level.
The Slytherin dorms were located a further floor down under the lake. Deciding to work his way down he turned towards the kitchens and the Hufflepuff dorms. The signs of battle became more pronounced the closer he got to his destination. Debris littered the hallway, and so far, he had found the bodies of three marked Death Eaters. Determining that they were dead he moved on cautiously stepping around bricks, the remnants of paintings and other Hogwarts paraphernalia.
It was against the collapsed entry to the Hufflepuff dorms that he found them; four Hufflepuffs alongside three Slytherins, all of them members of his class. In front of them lay the bodies of seventeen followers of the Dark Lord, some whole, some with body parts plastered across the hallway.
The young man ignored the bodies of the death eaters and hurried to the side of the students, from the way that they had fallen, he could see that the girl propped against the wall had been the last to go down. She had gathered the bodies of her fallen comrades from both houses to her as if trying to protect them. Blood seeped from a wound on her scalp staining her natural blonde hair red, and cascaded down over her closed eyes.
He moved to the first student Susan Bones, her left arm was broken and her wand remained clutched in her right hand as though waiting for her to cast her next spell. Checking for a pulse, he found one regular and steady. Apart from the broken arm, it looked as though someone had tried to heal her wounds and placed her in an unconscious state.
Turning over the next form he found Blaise Zabini, the dark Italian boy had a large gash that ran from the middle of his chest across his left shoulder. Someone had hastily repaired this wound, as he could see where the skin had been knitted together and there were puckers from where pieces of his clothing had been accidently gathered into the wound. His right thigh was missing a chunk of muscle but the wound only seeped blood indicating that it to had been treated if only quickly. Again, he found a pulse although weaker than that of Susan's.
Tracey Davis' head was in the lap of the blonde girl, small bubbles of red foam dribbled from the side of her mouth as she breathed small shallow breaths. Determining this to be a good sign that at least she was breathing the young man moved on to the next figure of Ernie McMillan. His right arm dangled from its socket almost completely torn off, but again his wounds had been hastily repaired, so that they were no longer life threatening almost as though they had been put in stasis.
Justin Finch-Fletchley had lost his right leg below the knee although the amputated limb remained next to him; multiple puncture wounds peppered his arms and chest though he too breathed in short shallow breaths, his wounds oozing. Hannah Abbott lay next to him a large egg on her forehead appeared to be her only visible wound although a small amount of blood dribbled from her ears.
His eyes came back to the blonde in the middle of all the carnage, he realised that it was Daphne Greengrass. An enigma that had walked the halls of Hogwarts with him for six years, her right leg was bent and twisted beneath her, her wand lay next to her right hand forgotten, the hand clenched in a claw, her left on Tracey's forehead.
He felt for a pulse and her ice blue eyes snapped open as his hand touched cold skin. Clouded in pain not seeing anything in front of them, three words bubbled from her lips 'please help them', her eyes closing with a sigh.
Her pulse was erratic and her breathing minimal if at all, summing up the situation, he knew that he only had a small amount of time. Now frantic, his mind in overdrive as here were people he could save. He called out to Hogwarts for help; the request had no sooner left his lips than when he heard a small pop behind him as house elf in a Hogwarts tea towel appeared. 'Sir needs help?' enquired the elf.
'Yes, can you get us all to the hospital wing?' asked the boy not taking his eyes off the girl in front of him.
'Not on my own, I be back with help' and with that the elf popped away, apparating back ten seconds later with seven other elves in tow. 'Hold on Sir, we be going now,' each of the elves reached out and touched one of the injured students and popped them away.
The party had barely appeared before the young man was screaming 'Madam Pomfrey we need your help!'
A slightly dishevelled and yawning medi-witch walked around a screen followed by two other witches in St. Mungo's uniforms. 'What seems to be...' her voice trailed off, 'Where did you find them? Ladies start assessing the damage' commands snapping out as she moved into healer mode.
'In the dungeons near the Hufflepuff dorms, I think she saved them all,' without looking he had reached down with his left hand and clutched the blonde-haired girl's hand, it was cold and clammy to touch.
'She is dying' the thought echoed in his head all other cognitive function seemed to have been pushed away by this one fact. 'Help them please, you have to help them,' he begged, he wouldn't allow them to die, too many had already paid for his failures.
Madam Pomfrey waved her wand in complicated patterns over the girls' body, her expression darkened as she learned more about the injuries she had sustained. When she had finished her face drained of colour. 'I'm sorry there is nothing I can do for her, she appears to have been hit with an organ liquefying curse along with cruciatus curse,' her voice rasping.
'She's expended to much magic, her core is just about empty' Madam Pomfrey's voice was low and heavy. 'Most likely, I think when healing the others; I recognise her work, she would have made a great healer.'
Sighing and looking up at the young man Madam Pomfrey continued 'she is only just holding on, I can make her more comfortable but without enough of her own magic left to help me, I can't heal her.'
The young man looked back at the medi-witch, tears welled in his eyes, born of frustration, lack of sleep and the thought that someone else would die because of him. 'You failed them,' screamed his mind, 'You should have found them earlier, you should have never gone to bed, not while there were still people unaccounted for, this is your fault.' 'No' a hoarse whisper escaping his lips, 'No, I don't accept that, she saved them all, it isn't right we just give up on her' and his wand snapped into his right hand.
A single thought rebounded around his head 'I have magic I can give, I will share with you, mine' and without knowing what he was doing he poured his own pure magic into her body still holding her hand.
Madam Pomfrey watched mouth open as a pure white light haloed around the young man and woman. As it dimmed, and finally catching hold of her senses she again started a diagnostic spell, 'always leaping before he looks' she murmured before a dumfounded expression crossed her face.
'Impossible' she whispered, where before there was virtually no magic now the girls core was thrumming with power. Flicking a diagnostic spell across the boy as he knelt over the girl still watching her face, she saw that although some of the magic in his core had been depleted, his body still sung with power as though he were recharging himself from thin air.
Shaking her head Madam Pomfrey started muttering healing spells, counter curses, calling for potions and salves, all thought of what had just occurred leaving her mind for now as she worked on the girl. First to stabilise her and second to counter the damage wreaked by the spells that had been cast on her.
Fifteen minutes into the treatment and the ice blue eyes opened and this time they met the emerald eyes looking back at her.