A/N: I'm sooo sorry it's been forever since I updated. I have already started to next chapter, so it should be up sooner. Hopefully within the next couple weeks. I hope everyone had wonderful holidays. Please review and let me know what you think of this chapter. It helps me figure out where the story is going. Hugs!
Voldemort sensed everything that was going on around him, but his concentration was solely on Dumbledore. Killing Albus would be a great victory, even if the snot-nosed brat did have the gall to survive and recover. Without his mighty protector, the foolish boy would be an easy target. Not to mention his rash behavior would be uncontrolled so he'd most likely walk into any kind of trap. Oh, to be rid of them both. Voldemort would kill at least one-hundred muggles to celebrate. There would be no stopping him. Then he would eliminate or enslave any who had been Potter's friend, human or otherwise. Firewhiskey all around.
A spell to his immediate left brought Voldemort out of his brief daydream and back to the wizard in front of him. Dumbledore appeared to be completely at ease, but the twinkle was gone from his eye. Who would fire the first shot? Riddle learned his lesson about firing first, but he also knew Albus had an unearthly patience. That man could outwait time itself. Oh no, this would require so much more than mere dueling.
"You will never win this, Tom." The familiar voice calmly stated in his head.
"Who is going to stop me? Especially after I've killed you, old man. Your precious golden child? The One? You know as well as I that he's too weak. He couldn't even kill Bellatrix after she got rid of that mangy mutt. You're not even sure he's alive, even now. He could already be dead meaning I've already won. Face it, you old goat, you haven't got a hope." Voldemort knew Dumbledore heard every work clearly in his mind. As the war raged on around them, they heard only each other with only instincts keeping them out of harm's way.
"That's why you will never win, Tom." There is always hope. There will always be good to fight the evil. Darkness cannot prevail because the sun always rises."
"Endearing sentiments……….really. Sad thing is your foolish followers always buy into it. But you know better, old fool. I can see it in your eyes, feel it in you soul. You know it is all futile. You're weary with age and experience. You can already taste the poison of defeat. It coats your mouth like cotton, leaving every breath that much harder to inhale. You have already accepted Death as your bride. All that is left is to lie with her and Die!"
"Tom, have you underestimated me so? Your great insight into my soul is merely a reflection of yours. You are not strong enough to see my true essence. I show you what I choose. And I choose to show You."
"I do not underestimate Dumbledore. Your mind tricks do not work on me Jedi (…..sorry, wrong story). Your mind games do not work on me, old man. But it is of no importance, because now it's time for you to die."
While the mental dialogue had raged, the war in the physical world followed suit. There were bodies from both sides piling up. Arthur Weasley watched as Voldemort and Dumbledore circled with eyes locked, neither one making the first move. He could feel the power radiating off the two men: Albus'- warm and comforting; Voldemort's – cool and dreadful. Catching sight of an unknown Death Eater aiming towards Albus, Arthur disabled him quickly, then, dodging curses left and right, made sure the man was unconscious. He quickly proceeded to break the assailant's wand, ensuring that he would be helpless if he woke before the remaining Aurors (who weren't in the Order) arrived to clean up the mess. Granted, most of the Aurors were already on the battle field, fighting with all their might.
Focusing back on the battle, Arthur aimed at a Death Eater advancing upon Charlie from behind, but only clipped him on the shoulder. But that was enough to prevent the ambush on his second-born son. The wounded Death Eater whirled around and snarled at him, and then shot off curse after curse, all of which were easily deflected seeing as how it was the man's wand arm that Arthur had damaged. A few more well-aimed curses from Mr. Weasley fired between his adversary's slow and unstable ones and the cloaked man fell to the ground like a rock. One more down.
Tonks was having an interesting time. Her left arm was numb and she was sure there were going to be muscles that she didn't even know existed hurting in the morning. She had managed to dodge all but a few curses. Thankfully, the one serious curse, Cruciatus, had been ended very quickly when Remus off-ed its caster. Tonks jumped right back into the fight, fending off a couple of goons trying to over-power a wounded Shacklebolt. He, too, just jumped right back into the brawl.
Minerva had moved into mediwitch role. She was thankful beyond words that Severus had restocked the hospital potions before all the excitement started. The potions were easily carried in an extra layer of her robes; shrunken so she could take a large number of them. She collected the wounded from their side and got them stable, then took them to St. Mungo's. The cases that weren't serious, she would patch up and allow to keep fighting if they so chose. It seemed as if the fates were with them seeing as there was not as large a number of serious wounding as she would have expected. The number of fatalities was even smaller, thank Merlin. The Death Eaters appeared to be nearly dropping like flies. Dumbledore had ordered his followers to only kill if necessary. Minerva wasn't entirely sure that was best, but they are the good guys. There has to be a line drawn somewhere. She knew a few Unforgivables had been cast from their side. But overall, the ground was littered with unconscious Death Eaters and broken wands.
As Miverva attended a new Order member with a broken leg and nasty bump on the head, a curse just missed her head. Looking behind her, she caught sight of Tonks immobilizing her assailant that she vaguely recognized as a former student. Nodding her thanks to Tonks, she finished with the wizard, got him re-oriented and then continued her search for the injured.
No one on either side was quite sure what happened, and when asked, all gave a slightly different version. The only detail that was uniform from all the witnesses was that the air crackled then a burst of power and a great white light threw everyone within one-hundred feet of the incident off their feet. The center of the yard no longer contained two powerful wizards, but merely one. Gasps were inhaled from both sides simultaneously, like a vacuum. Minerva's ears popped as her eyes tried to comprehend the sight in front of her.
First, there was naught but black. Then a distant ringing so faint it may not have even been there. But it was there and it was growing. The ringing continued to grow until it was like the roar of the ocean, bearing down upon anything that dared get in its way. Coupled with the roar was a suffocating pressure, both of which were becoming unbearable. Finally, like a seltzer bottle that had been shaken too much, the energy found its release, a loud gasp echoing in the room.
"Thank Merlin, Severus!" Before he could even open his eyes, he could feel Molly Weasley's hand on his chest feeling his heartbeat, and wet drops on his face. Mustering all the strength he had, he cracked his eyes open to greeted by a teary-eyed, very exhausted looking matron.
"Severus, I was so afraid you wouldn't come back to us. Thank the fates you're as good at potions as you are. It was your restorative potions that brought you back. Oh, I need to sit down." She was pale and had dark circles forming under both eyes. After catching her breath, Molly got back up from the bedside chair and fetched a vile from the nearby cupboard. All the while, Severus merely focused on breathing in and out. The pressure of blood once again flowing through his veins reawakened the fiery pain that encased his body.
"Here, dear, it will ease the pain." Severus was still too incoherent to think of looking at the damage. His brain had a fog encasing it, inhibiting complete thoughts. He swallowed when the cool potion met his burning throat, and then barely registered Molly's words as he slipped into unconsciousness.
"Harry is stable, thanks to you." Molly wasn't sure if the dark man had heard her before the potion mixed with exhaustion took their effect. She sat down by his bed again, tears running down her face. It had been a miracle that she had mustered enough power to bring him back. His heart had stopped beating for nearly five minutes. Both men had been near death, so Poppy and Molly had both worked non-stop to heal them. Once Harry was stable, Poppy was forced to return to Hogwarts to obtain some desperately needed potions and herbs for both patients. If they hadn't needed to keep both men in hiding, it would have been much easier to heal them. It was a few moments after Madame Pomfrey had left that Severus' heart had stopped while Molly was attending to him. She desperately prayed that Poppy would be back soon, but knew that she had to act immediately. Between raising seven magical children and her brief mediwitch training before getting pregnant with her eldest, her medical knowledge was above novice. She knew her basic and more advanced potions and healing spells. She put every ounce of knowledge and training she had into reviving Severus. It drained nearly all of her energy, but he was alive and seemed to finally be stable. As soon as Poppy returned, she would have to sleep. Even her worry and concern for her husband and sons would not be strong enough to keep her awake. She pulled back the curtain between Harry and Severus and watched the two breathe as she struggled to stay awake.