A/N: Before I get started with this story, I just want to give a HUGE shout out to my alpha Mayghaen17. She has been so incredibly patient and helpful while I've worked on this plot, and she is just absolutely outstanding. Thank you for listening to me prattle on for hours as I try to navigate through this story. I love you and you have become such a good friend.
I'd also like to give some beta love to artemisgirl, who betra-read and helped me edit this first chapter and gave me the best advice for the chapters to come. Forever grateful to you!
Chapter 1: Tuesday, July 31, 2001
"Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die."
The familiar feel of adrenaline pounded in Hermione's chest, pulsing through her veins, her ears ringing from the recent explosion, muffling the sounds of curses flying past her. She could smell the magic in the air. The smell reminded her of being at home with her parents in Hampstead as a child. The late autumn chill forcing her father to concede after her mother's many complaints of "it's absolutely freezing in the house, Gene! Turn on the damn heat!" He would light the pilot on the furnace and the heat would kick on, with it, the scent of stale, hot air would fill the house momentarily before dissipating into apples and cinnamon.
Hermione found no reprieve from the smell of burning air in the form of autumn spiced pies, now, only the far more identifiable coppery scent of blood.
"Granger! A little help here?!"
Her head snapped up from her crouched position on the ground and her eyes met a set of steel grey eyes, pupils blown wide from his own burst of adrenaline. Impossibly blonde hair, streaked with blood and dirt obscured his thought-creased forehead. Long pale fingers pressed a crimson soaked white cloth to the neck of the crumpled form next to him.
"Where was he hit?" she asked.
"Throat," Draco said, his head jerking down, bringing her attention to the blood soaked cloth. "It's arterial! It won't stop spurting blood long enough for me to close the artery!"
"What if…" Hermione trailed off, trying to come up with a solution as quickly as possibly before Seamus Finnegan bled out at their feet. "Arresto Momentum!" The blood, while still spurting from the neck of her former Gryffindor housemate, slowed.
"Fucking genius," Draco said, his tone appreciative. "Can you heal the artery while I keep pressure? He's lost a lot of blood. I'd say he's got about three minutes before he bleeds out."
"Yeah, move your hands to the side!" she ordered.
Draco's fingers moved, allowing her to see the open wound as she waved her wand, whispering intricate healing charms.
"Augh! F-fuck it… it h-h-hurts. I-it hurts. I-I…" Seamus cried, coming back into consciousness with shallow pants as he pushed the words through his lips.
"Shh… Shh… Don't talk, mate. Don't talk. Save your energy, yeah? We've got you. Don't worry, we've got you," Draco whispered to Seamus, trying to keep Seamus awake, but calm. Draco looked up from Seamus's graying face. "Hurry up, Granger! We haven't got all day here!"
"I know, I know. I've almost…"
She whispered one more spell and waited as the damaged artery sealed itself together, the open wound in his neck beginning to knit itself closed. She turned away from Seamus and pulled open her black field medic bag, pulling out a phial of concentrated blood replenishing potion. She yanked the stopper out of it and held it to Seamus's lips, tipping it forward for him. "There you are. I know it tastes miserable, but you need to swallow all of it."
"I can finish here," Draco said. "That explosion took down at least four people."
With a jerk of his head, Draco motioned to the left of where she crouched, where several people were lying on the ground. From what she could tell, at least two of the group on the ground were unconscious, and there was one redhead screaming in agony, their femur sticking out of their skin.
Hermione nodded, grabbing her bag and tightening her grip on her wand before sprinting across the clearing to the six bodies that had been caught in the blast. She checked the pulses on the three- not two- unconscious bodies to confirm they were alive before quickly scanning the others to see who required her immediate attention.
It was Percy Weasley, whose femur had broken clean in two. He was holding his leg and screaming in pain. To his left laid a sobbing Pansy Parkinson, whose hand looked as if it had gone through a muggle meat grinder. Lying over top her legs, bleeding from his chest, was Justin Finch-Fletchley.
Hermione made her way to Justin, first. She knelt next to him, immediately wielding her wand with a wordless diffendo to cut through his robes as his breaths came in wheezing pants. "Justin, do you know who I am?"
"H-hermione," he stammered. "I-I th-think I'm g-g-gonna die."
She shook her head, peeling the robes from his blood-soaked chest. "No, no you're not. You're leaving here today, okay? I'm going to heal this now, and you're going to go home. You'll be home in time for supper, yeah?"
A breathy laugh forced its way from his throat, "M-mum makes k-kidney p-p-pie on- ungh- T-tuesdays."
A large laceration ran through Justin's chest, starting under his left pectoral and trailing up over the front of his right shoulder. His body was shaking from blood loss and his breaths were growing weaker by the second. Pansy had the fingers of her good hand twisted into Justin's honey-colored curls, petting his hair and whispering to him through her own sobs. Percy had finally stopped screaming, and when Hermione looked up, she realized he had passed out. Probably for the better, she thought.
Hermione whispered "tergeo" and siphoned as much of the blood from Justin's chest as she could before starting on the healing spells. Draco finally made his way over to them, after quickly surveying the situation, he moved to Pansy, likely because she was still conscious.
They worked in tandem to heal the two injured soldiers. As they worked, Hermione found herself wondering how they had gotten to this point, when just over three short years ago, Draco was on the other side, aiming curses at them that would blast holes into their bodies. After the Battle of Hogwarts and the fall of Voldemort, the Order had foolishly thought that was it. They had won the battle and they could pack up their lives and move on. Many of the Death Eaters that were present had been captured and turned in or killed. Those that had stayed neutral throughout the war were left with high hopes of a peaceful society. The Order had regrouped and had tried to recover their own losses. They attempted to hold their heads high in hopes of a new, brighter future. It had been naive for them to believe the war was over. They may have defeated Voldemort, but they were unprepared for the onslaught that his downfall would bring.
That started six months later.
Six months bought enough time for the Death Eaters to regroup; to locate the neutral parties and threaten them into choosing a side. They broke the captured Death Eaters out of Azkaban and joined forces with dark wizarding groups scattered throughout Europe. Those that had fled after the fall of their leader, found a new leader to carry on their mission. Except now, the mission wasn't simply to expel Muggle-borns from the Wizarding World. Now, it was to slaughter any person who stood in their way of total domination.
Draco had approached the Order after the battle. His parents had begged him to come to them, to cross the field and join arms with them. To flee the scene and await their eventual arrests but instead, he remained. He stood tall amongst the children of Death Eaters, refusing to break under the pressures he had continuously bowed for. He finally made a choice, his choice. And he chose to beg for forgiveness, quite literally on his knees, and to prove himself worthy of a place among the ranks of the Order of the Phoenix.
Draco had been branded Death Eater; son of the wealthiest man in Wizarding Britain and in Voldemort's inner circle. He had information, warnings of movements that the fall of Voldemort had not stopped. He took a heavy dose of Veritaserum and let every single person who demanded an answer from him have their turn.
Afterward, he had proved that he was an extremely talented potioneer with a penchant for medical brews and a gift for healing spells. He and Hermione worked tirelessly together, studying every healing volume they could get their hands on, brewing every medical potion they could think of, and even going as far as learning some muggle healing methods.
After the first invasion of Death Eaters in November of 1998, the duo quickly became the best healers on the fields. The months of studying together and practicing well into the nights had paid off and made them two of the most valuable members of the Order.
Unfortunately, they were now the only two remaining field healers in the Order.
"Potter just cast some insane charm that took away the ability to disillusion," Draco muttered as he gave Pansy a pain potion and moved to work on a now awake-again and crying Percy. "We'll be able to see where they're coming from now, but we won't be able to hide the injured."
Hermione slapped Justin's cheeks lightly, forcing his heavy lids to open back up. "You have to stay awake, okay? Let me give you a few potions before you go passing out on me."
"I-it's hard t-to s-stay awake when y-you've l-lost so much b-b-blood," he said. His words were punctuated by stuttering, breathy laughs.
"I've lost more blood from a parchment cut than that. I know you're a Hufflepuff, Finch-Fletchley, but that's no excuse," Draco teased.
"F-f-fuck you, M-m-malfoy."
Hermione laughed and tipped the blood replenisher to his lips, followed by a pain potion and a pepper-up. "See? You have some fight left in you yet!"
"I've always g-got fight left in me for Malfoy."
"Hey mate, I take personal offence to that!" Draco said. "If your done whinging about your scratch, I could use Hermione over here."
Justin gave a breathy laugh and Hermione rolled her eyes, patting his hand as she moved to where Draco was kneeling. "We're going to have to reset it," she said, after surveying the bone.
"I know," Draco said. "I think the muggle way, too. At least then we can heal the bone with Skele-gro rather than removing it completely and regrowing it."
Hermione tried to hide the grimace on her face before looking down at Percy. "Percy, this is going to hurt. A lot."
"It already bloody hurts a lot!" he cried.
"Sorry to say it mate, but it's about to be much worse." Draco pulled a thin, rubber rod from the bag and set it against Percy's mouth. "Open up, and bite down."
Percy looked horrified as he opened his mouth and bit down on the rod. Hermione clenched her jaw as she hovered above Percy's thigh, just where the bone was visible through his skin. Draco moved toward his ankle, gripping it tightly and looked at Hermione, giving a sharp nod.
"We have to reset the bone," Hermione explained. "On the count of three, Draco is going to pull your leg and I'm going to force the bone back down. It's going to be painful, but the only other option right now is to vanish it completely and regrow it, which we do not have time for. We can do that after the fighting slows down and I can get you back to the tent, so that there's no permanent damage from the reset. But if we leave it like this, there's a chance you will shift and your bone will cut through your femoral artery. If that happens, I will not be able to save you from bleeding out. Do you understand, Percy?"
He blinked, his eyes wide with terror as he processed her words before nodding.
"Count of three then. One… Two…" Hermione counted down. At the end of the second count, she nodded to Draco and in unison, Draco pulled hard on Percy's leg. The half of the bone not sticking out of his body shifted down a few inches and Hermione wrapped her fingers around Percy's thigh, putting all of her weight into the motion as she bared down and forced the bone back into his body. The cracking sound was sickening as his femur sank back into his leg, clicking and popping as it reconnected with the other half of the bone.
A mangled sob came from Percy as his teeth sank down onto the rod, his fists pounding the ground beside him. His face was red; snot, tears, and spit leaking from him as he tried to muffle his screams.
"I'll hold it in place, Draco do you—"
"Already on it!" he said, popping the cork from the bottle of Skele-gro and pulling the rod from Percy's mouth. "I know it hurts, but you have to stop screaming and take the potion." His tone was fierce as he tipped the potion into Percy's mouth, followed swiftly by a heavy duty pain relief potion. "Your wand arm injured?"
"N-n-no!" Percy gasped.
"Good, defend yourself the next fifteen minutes. Pansy, help him," Draco ordered.
Pansy nodded, blue eyes wide as saucers as she stared at Percy's leg.
Hermione cast a few healing charms to speed the Skele-gro process along and stood, dusting her palms off on her robes and grabbing her bag. She moved over to the three unconscious bodies, double checking their pulse and confirming they were alive. A quick survey of their vitals showing they weren't bleeding internally or otherwise fatally wounded. She and Draco began moving them under the coverage of the forest where they had left Seamus. When all three had been relocated, Pansy helped to move Percy and Justin.
Seamus, Pansy, Percy, and Justin sat guardian over the three unconscious bodies. Wands drawn and at the ready, Draco and Hermione made their way as carefully as possible across the clearing.
Hermione could hear Ron's voice booming above the whirring of spells as he called out to other members of the Order, leading them toward the thick of the fight. There were at least thirty people dueling relentlessly against one another. A blur of red, purple, and green light as the yells of different voices were heard.
She quickly shrank her bag down and stuffed it in the pocket of her robes, watching as Draco followed suit. This fight had been the worst they'd seen in months. Most of the ambushes were relatively quiet and the damage wasn't severe. They had been battling Death Eaters for hours, now, and she had lost track of how many critically injured witches and wizards she and Draco had treated.
"This is getting out of hand!" Draco yelled from beside her, firing off a particularly gruesome curse to a group of four Death Eaters that were sending equally as disturbing curses and hexes their way. "We've been out here almost two days!"
"They have to retreat soon!" Hermione shouted, firing a Sectumsempra at a masked man and watching as it tore through his cloak and tore into his chest. "They've lost more than we have!"
Draco responded by firing another curse into the small horde of dark wizards to his left.
As the battle continued, more wizards and witches dropped. The Death Eaters were quickly losing numbers as a horde of centaurs made their way into the battle from the forest. Hermione silently thanked the heavens that Harry had the sense to create a treaty between them years ago. The centaurs had agreed that they would no longer remain neutral to the issues of the Wizarding World, but fight along the side of the Light as long as their sacred grounds remained protected.
After hours of battle, the Death Eaters finally began to retreat, calling off their troops and activating portkeys that whisked them away one by one. Hermione finally spotted Harry for the first time in hours, his hair sticking up more so than usual, his face nearly covered with dried blood from a nasty gash across his forehead. He was dueling one on one with a large Death Eater who Hermione recognized as Anton Dolohov.
She was surprised to see him there. He rarely came to fight himself, preferring the role as governing leader of the Dark Army. As Hermione sprinted to Harry's side, she began firing curse after silent curse toward Dolohov, hoping to Merlin that one would stick and cause him severe damage. Every slash of her wand brought with it phantom pains of the scar he had caused her when she was fifteen in the Department of Mysteries.
A small group of Order members began to close in. Ron, George, Theo Nott, Cho Chang, and Luna all assembling behind Harry, Hermione and Draco. Seven of them slashed their wands through the air, while Luna hung back, casting protection charms over them to help their defense.
Ron shouted "Expulso!" from somewhere behind Hermione and she watched as the curse hit Dolohov, throwing him backward onto his rear. Harry then cast a silent Protego Diabolica, which trapped Dolohov in a ring of blue flames.
Hermione watched as Dolohov pulled a silver comb from his pocket, and she quickly used a summoning charm to yank the Portkey from his hand. She let it hit the ground, unaware of where it would take her, should she touch the glowing comb. Dolohov shrieked in fury and jumped to his feet, brandishing his wand at her.
"This is it, Dolohov! You've lost! Any last words?" Harry yelled at him as he stepped forward, his wand held steady at the height of Dolohov's chest.
"It's been a long time since I've had the pleasure to use this," Dolohov laughed. He waved his wand in a complicated pattern and yelled out, "Dementare sordida sanguine!"
Hermione's eyes went wide as the jet of black light passed through the supposedly impenetrable blue flames, headed right for her. Harry shouted "NO!" and threw himself into Hermione, knocking her onto the ground as the curse hit him in the back.
Dolohov roared with laughter as the flames around him died and he disappeared in a flash of blue light.
Hermione rolled Harry off of her torso and clambered onto her knees, grabbing his face and holding it in her hands. "Harry?!" she said, shaking him lightly. "Harry!"
"What the hell was that curse?!" Ron roared. "What curse is black like that?!"
"I don't know!" Hermione cried, "I-I don't know! Draco! Draco, help! Harry, he's seizing!"
Harry had begun to thrash about wildly on the ground, foaming spittle falling down his chin as his eyes rolled into the back of his head. His back arched, his elbows driving into the ground beneath him as his hands cramped into unnatural angles with his fingers splayed out, each joint turned in different directions.
Hermione stared down at Harry's body as it jerked and writhed on the ground, strangled grunts of pain coming from the depths of his chest. Hermione stared up at Draco, their eyes meeting. The look on his face was one she had seen too many times, and the familiar doubt and sad uncertainty in her eyes was too much to contemplate. She shook her head furiously, unwilling to give up.
"Draco! Do something! You- you have to do something!" She cried.
"I don't know what to do," he said softly, his eyes landing on Harry, his brows furrowed together in pity. "I'm sorry, Hermione. I-I don't know what this is."
"Fucking figure it out!" She yelled. She pulled her bag from the pocket of her robes and enlarged it, emptying it's contents onto the ground. She grabbed the strongest calming draught she had and pulled the stopper out before dumping the entire phial down Harry's throat.
Draco cast a body binding charm on Harry, before waving his wand over him to reveal a hovering series of golden glowing symbols. Hermione looked up from Harry's face, reading the vitals that floated above Harry's chest.
"It's attacking his magic," Hermione and Draco whispered at the same time.
She felt her heart stutter as her breath stopped for a moment. She stared at Draco, eyes wide in terror. "What do we do?" she whispered.
"Take him to St. Mungo's."
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