Disclaimer: Even though it has been a long while since I last posted, I was not able to acquire any of the ownership over Harry Potter and the world in which he lives...more's the pity. If I did...Oh the wonderous things I could do... But as it stands...I own nothing, I make nothing, I am...nothing...(snif) Anyways...on with the show!
Chapter 52: Battle Won
"POTTER!! What is the meaning of this? Where are we?" demanded Voldemort, his annoyance clearly displayed on his face, as his wand remained trained on Harry.
Everyone had reappeared in a room that looked identical to the DA practice room that the group had used the previous year when hiding from Umbridge.
At seeing their new location, and lack of hostages, all the other Deatheaters in the room pointed their wands at the two visible enemies, Harry and Ginny, who had somehow appeared side by side, though Harry was the only one of the two standing. Ginny, in her beaten and weakened state, merely lay on the ground next to him on some of the cushions.
"Your stooge, there, should be able to tell you where we are." Harry said as he motioned towards Justin, "After all, we met here regularly last year for D.A."
"Explain!" the Dark Lord ordered his follower.
Justin began his explanation, "It's the Room of Requirement, my Lord. Potter explained it as..."
"ENOUGH! I know what it does, you imbecile. Do you take me for a fool? I have had to read your description of this room a good dozen times in your pathetic reports. Do not insult my intelligence, or you will find that it would be the last thing you do." Voldemort told the traitor angrily, before turning his full attention back on to Potter.
"I would kill you now, Potter, but I find myself with several questions that it would appear you alone can answer." The Dark Lord paused to organize his thoughts, and then proceeded, "First, and foremost, you will tell me how you were able to transport us all here. This means of mass transportation that does not require either a portkey, or physical contact intrigues me. Second, You will tell me why you brought us here in the first place." he demanded.
As he waited for Harry to respond, he attempted to glean the answer from the boy's mind with subtle Legilemency, hoping that the question would make the boy think of the answer, even if Potter refused to tell him, so as to bring it to the for front of his mind and make it easier to mentally scoop up. Voldemort was not expecting, however, to find such a solid occlumentic barrier. He had been practicing this art for many decades, and even his walls weren't as solid as Harry Potter's. He now knew the reason for his recent inability to reach the boy's mind through their link. He had a feeling that even with a full mental assault, he would he would find it difficult to overcome Potter's defenses.
Harry smirked, "I will answer your second question first." he told the man before him, as he pulled a wooden cube from his robe pocket, "I wanted to show you this."
The Deatheaters present tensed as Harry pulled something from his robe, the few who hadn't yet done so, raised their wands and pointed them at him.
Voldemort, on the other hand, look confused at the sight of the puzzle cube, not sure as to where this conversation was going. Unable to resist, he asked, "And what would that be?"
"Again, it's something that I'm sure your little rodent should be able to explain, but since you seem to be enjoying the sound of my voice, I'll humour you." Harry replied cheekily, with much more confidence than he currently possessed, being so greatly outnumbered and practically exhausted. He was wiped, and knew that if a battle occurred, even one of Voldemort's Deatheaters would probably be able to take him out with little effort. He just didn't have much left after his fight with Draco, and healing of Ginny, not to mention transporting everyone here. He would not have been able to extend the transportation field to cover the entire great hall had Hogwarts not helped him. After all, you can't apparate inside Hogwarts...unless Hogwarts lets you, and helps out.
With a couple of quick flicks of his wrist, the puzzle cube that had just been solved was dropped next to the wall beside Harry and began growing against it, as he answered, "It's my portable Room of Requirement." Harry began.
Voldemort watched in well-hidden amazement and curiosity as the door unfolded, and young Potter put his hand on the doorknob. This room would be an amazing resource, and he couldn't help but let his mind wander to all the possibilities, before he was brought back to the present as Harry continued speaking.
"The difference between the room we're in though, and the room on the other side of this door, is that MY Room of Requirement is completely in the magical plain and not just partially attached to it." he further expounded with a look of determination on his face.
Voldemort was not an unintelligent man, despite his psychotic tendencies, and realized immediately what Harry Potter was threatening him with.
"You wouldn't!" the Dark Lord accused, with his wand still aimed directly at the one who was possibly about to raze this entire Castle in the very least.
Magical explosions was one line even no Dark Lord had ever crossed, as the results were magically devastating. Not only did they wipe out an entire area of magic all together, but acres around the blast site would become magically wild and unpredictable, and since magic was the main weapon and defense of Dark Lords, they refused to put themselves at that much of a disadvantage. (1)
The grin that had been gracing Harry's lips fell, and his face lost all sense of levity as he glared at his nemesis, "If it were just me, you and your followers, I would have done this as soon as we appeared in this room and finished this war. The only thing holding me back from opening it right now, and wiping out a small chunk of Scotland, is the fact that I know that my friends downstairs are still alive, and if I were to go through with this, it would kill them. But if you, or one of your puppets, make even the SLIGHTEST move to curse or approach me, so help me Merlin, it will be the last move you make."
No one in that room doubted Harry's conviction. They could see the look of a trapped animal in his eyes, and knew that if pressed, he would lash out and take everyone there with him.
"It would appear that we are at a stalemate, Potter." the Dark Lord grimaced. He didn't want to admit it, but he couldn't help but admire the young man's plan. It was very... Slytherin...well, except for the whole self-sacrifice part. Though in the same situation, Voldemort couldn't help but think he would have done the same.
Harry, wanting to make his point, and illicit some sort of reaction from his enemies, pushed it a little further, "If Dumbledore has taught me anything, Tom, it's that sometimes, we must make sacrifices for the greater good." he told them, with a maniacal gleam in his eyes, as he began to turn the handle.
"NO!!!!" the self proclaimed Dark Lord shouted before quickly activating his emergency portkey in hopes that his second entry team had completed their mission and lowered the wards. Unfortunately they hadn't quite finished yet, apparently, but that didn't stop the Dark Lord as he pushed some of his own power into the portkey, completely tearing through the wards around the school as he left, causing them to fall completely.
Once the other Deatheaters in the room noticed that their Lord had vanished, they too started to activate their portkeys, but unfortunately for them, they hadn't counted on the fact that Blaise and Athena had been under an invisibility cloak. No sooner had the Dark Lord vanished, than Blaise and Athena started firing stunners into the confused group of Deatheaters.
As Ginny saw what was happening around her, she raised her wand and dropped the one target she didn't want getting away. And with a well placed 'Stupefy', Justin hit the floor.
A few got away, but Athena and Blaise quickly bound the ones they had stunned. Blaise did a quick locate portkey spell afterwards, that they had discovered in Harry's library, and removed the captives' means of escape.
Suddenly, Harry could feel a sense of panic rising within him. It was similar in source to the warm sensation that he had experienced earlier when Hogwarts had answered him, but this time, it was a feeling of panic and vulnerability.
"What's wrong Harry?" Athena asked, after hearing Ginny's questions go unanswered.
"The wards are down." he answered distantly with eyes glazed over, almost as if he were someplace else.
"What? How do you know that?" Blaise asked, after binding the last of the fallen Deatheaters.
"Hogwarts just told me." the founder's heir answered his friends in a distant voice, his eyes still unfocused.
He didn't know exactly how, nor did he know where the power to do this would come from, but somehow he knew what he had to do. Taking out Godric's wand, he subconsciously turned it into a staff and began to chant in Latin.
Blaise and Athena watched in concern as the Cloak of Gryffindor returned to its normal appearance and began to flow around him as if being blown by an unseen wind, and debated whether or not they should stop him. It was obvious that this was a large spell, and they were worried that in his current weakened state, he would just end up hurting himself or worse.
Unfortunately for them, that option was taken away from them as they, and the still prone form of Ginny, were transported from the room, along with everyone else, except Harry, back to the Great Hall.
Harry didn't notice any of this though, and just continued to chant. He didn't notice the time passing or even the magic swirling around him. He had never heard the words he was chanting before, nor had he read them, but that didn't matter at the moment. As soon as they entered his mind, he would speak them. The chant continued as the magic around him slowly built up from an audible hum to an almost deafening roar, but he continued to chant.
Unbeknownst to him, this had happened before as it had been designed to do many years ago by the founders of this school. Should the wards ever fall completely, Hogwarts herself would relay the information of how to raise them again from scratch to the most powerful wizard, with the students' best interest in mind, on the premises, not necessarily the headmaster, so that her charges would remain as safe and protected as possible. It was also preferable that the one chosen was an heir of one of the founders, but that wasn't a requirement.
But Harry didn't know any of this. All he knew was that Hogwarts and her students were in trouble, and he had been chosen to help. How could he refuse? It was his obligation as an heir of one of the founders.
Once the task was completed, he had enough time to smile weakly with the knowledge that the students were safe again and mutter, "That should do it." before collapsing from extreme magical exhaustion.
Several minutes earlier in the Great Hall...
The silence in the Great Hall was suddenly shattered with the appearance of Blaise, Athena and Ginny, who promptly cried out, "HARRY!!!" from her still prone position on the floor.
Harry? Are you there? Are you ok? Ginny tried mentally, but received no response, as she struggled to rise. The lack of response worried her considerably, but she knew there was nothing she could do about it from here. But try as she might, she couldn't get up, and for some reason, she couldn't even smoke travel to the room. Something was blocking her.
Seeing her struggling, Athena ran to Ginny and did some quick healing. Blaise, on the other hand, wasted no time in running to the doors of the Great Hall, which had repaired themselves sometime before their return, to try to go back to Harry, but they were sealed tight.
After throwing a few more spells at the doors, and kicking it one more time for good measure, Blaise conceded, "It's no good."
"There's nothing we can do for Harry right now, Ginny." Athena told the girl as she placed her arm around her shoulders after helping her to get up, "Let's make sure that the others are alright. At least that's something we can do while we wait."
Ginny nodded mutely, still worrying for her boyfriend.
On her way over to the wounded, whom Athena and Blaise were already in the process of healing, she noticed her ex-boyfriend lying bound and unconscious on the other side of the room.
I need to know. She thought to herself as he feet carried her towards the fallen form of the bound traitor.
Once she got there, Ginny enervated him.
Shaking himself out of a daze, and gathering his bearings, he looked and saw who the person was who was standing over him, "Oh Ginny, thank Merlin it's you! Quick, untie me before the others figure out what you're doing." Justin urged her with a small smile.
She just looked at him incredulously, "What?"
"We don't have much time! Quick, free me. I know you were only with Potter because I wasn't good enough for you. I wanted to tell you, but I was sworn to secrecy. The Dark Lord is going to turn me into a pureblood through rituals of his own design. I'll finally be good enough for you." Justin told her frantically, not knowing that no such rituals existed.
"Wh...what are you saying?" Ginny asked, fearing what she would hear.
"Don't you see? I did this all for you. I didn't want to be an embarrassment to you. You deserve the best, not some filthy mudblood. The Dark Lord is going to change all that. He's going to make me pure, and then we can live proudly as one of his servants. You don't need to pretend with Potter anymore, we can go off together, but hurry, the others will notice if you don't hurry up." he told her honestly, motioning towards his binds with his head.
"How did you do this?" she asked. She wasn't sure she really wanted to know, but if she didn't ask now, they might never find out.
Time was of the essence, but he could tell she wouldn't act until he explained a little, "Voldemort cast a protective spell on my mind so that no thoughts of his and my collaboration would come to the front of my mind, so that way no surface legilimens, like Dumbledore or I'm pretty sure Potter is one too now, could read my thoughts. That was the hard part, the rest of the deception was easy. He had me sign a magically binding oath that would supercede the one that I had to sign in DA. His oath was more powerful than that mudblood Granger could have ever hoped to make, and just as added security, I had my name officially and magically changed to Justice Wyvernclaw, a good pureblood name, so as to render my signature with any other name null and void. Now hurry, we don't have much time." he urged her.
To say that Ginny was confused would be an understatement. She didn't want to believe that she had any part in Justin's betrayal, but he had just told her, from his mouth, that he was doing it for her. It wasn't, however, enough to make her feel as though she was responsible. Mostly, she just felt bad for Justin. She could no longer be angry at him. She couldn't hate him.
She pitied him.
With a sad smile on her face she said, "I never once told you that I wanted you to change. I loved you for who you were. I just didn't love you as much as I loved another. I thought you understood that." she told him sadly as she placed her open hand on his cheek.
"Ginny! I ..." but she silently cast a silencing charm at him with her wand. She didn't want to hear anymore.
"No Justin. Don't say anything else. It's over. It's been over for some time. If you truly loved me, and truly knew me, than you would have known that all that you did to 'impress me' would mean nothing to me. I don't like someone for their titles, or status. I like them for who they are. I'm with Harry, not because he's more popular or more important than you, not because he's the boy-who-lived, but because...he's Harry." she told him truthfully with a tear in her eye, before standing in front of him.
"Goodbye Justin." she told the silently pleading young man on the floor, before stunning him again, replacing his gag and going to help her friends.
"Ginny? What are you doing?" Hermione asked her suspiciously, while at the same time very weakly.
Ginny turned and smiled, "You're alright!!" she said as she ran over and carefully hugged the girl.
Hermione smiled despite herself, but remembering her question, she asked again, "Thanks Ginny, but you didn't answer my question."
Ginny frowned slightly, "I don't exactly know what I was doing. I just...I had to know. I needed to know..." she broke off, trying to stem the tears that were threatening to fall.
Hermione hugged her friend tightly and whispered in her ear, "Shhh. Don't think about it. It wasn't your fault."
Ginny chuckled through her light tears.
"What?" Hermione asked after pulling back and looking at her friend questioningly.
"I just couldn't help but wonder how many times you've had to say that to Harry over the years." Ginny confessed with a sniffle, before smiling weakly at her friend.
"Harry!" Hermione snapped with concern in her voice, "What happened to him? Where is he?"
Hermione, who had just woken up, was now being overwhelmed with concern for her friend.
"Last we saw him he was alright. Voldemort had vanished, I think it was a portkey, and we stunned a bunch of the other Deatheaters before they could escape, but after everything settled down, Harry help up his staff and started chanting. Before we could stop him, we were somehow sent back here." Ginny explained.
"Where were you?" Hermione asked, not having caught that part in Ginny's explanation.
"We were in the Room of Requirement." Ginny admitted.
Hermione concentrated for a moment, 'What could he be doing up there?' she wondered.
I'm not sure. I've been trying to figure that out myself since he sent us back down. Ginny replied.
"Would you stop doing that?! I'm trying to think." Hermione responded out loud in frustration, though clearly not too upset.
"It's not my fault you broadcast so loudly." Ginny muttered, not quite loud enough for the bushy hared thinker to hear her.
"ARGH!" Hermione finally exclaimed in frustration, "There's no way to know what he was doing without a copy of the words." she admitted.
It was at that time that the double doors to the Great Hall finally burst open, and a small contingent of Hogwarts students and staff, with the headmaster in the lead, entered.
The questions were written on Dumbledore's face, but it was also clear that this was not the place, and these were not the people in front of which, this conversation should take place.
"It is good to see you all well. Where is Harry?" Dumbledore asked with a concerned look on his face.
Before anything else could be said, Ginny and Hermione quickly ran from the room, leaving all others behind.
Knowing where the two girls were headed, and not wanting to get into this conversation in front of everyone, Ron, who had just been briefed on the situation by Blaise and Athena, started giving orders the D.A. members that were present.
"Alright everyone, listen up. We're pretty sure that there are no more Deatheaters in the castle and we know that Voldemort has definitely left, but we also think that the wards have fallen. D.A., I want you to divide up in your classes and patrol the castle. D.A. Staff, I want you to implement patrol route 'Cow' for the ground and air troupes. Castle group, I want you to implement patrol route 'Rat'. Remember, we're still at alert status. Keep your wands ready, and eyes sharp. Those of you not on patrol right now, get some rest, it'll be your turn soon. As soon as this threat is over, we'll relax, for now we have work to do. Dismissed!" Ron ordered, before calling out, "Luna!"
"Yes Ronald?" inquired the spectre who had slowly emerged from the floor before him.
"Could you please check with the other ghosts to make sure that all the deatheaters have left the building?" Ron asked her.
"I already have Ronald. They have all said that the deatheaters have indeed left Hogwarts, and the Garnal Testalites agree with them." Luna told him with confidence.
"Th..thanks Luna." Ron replied, uncertainly, "If the Testalites say we're fine, who am I to disagree." Ron told her, fighting a look of confusion that was threatening to take over his face, in an attempt at placating her eccentric nature.
Luna merely nodded in reply before drifting through a wall.
While Ron and Luna chatted, Professor McGonagall was curiou, "Patrol routes 'cow' and 'rat'?" she whispered to the unphased Neville who was now standing nearby watching the exchange between Ron and Luna with a bit of amusement. She didn't know who was in charge at this point, but she did know that the Headmaster had put his faith in Harry's group, and Neville was definitely a part of that group. Blaise had patched him up enough to stand and move about, but he still looked rather battered, though anything else would have to wait until there was time to see Pomfrey.
"We have a whole barnyard of patrol routes. These two used together are the most comprehensive and cover the most ground." he explained.
"But why use barnyard animals?" Professor Flitwick inquired as he too was curious, "And why those two specifically?"
"Well, as for Cow, they are to check and patrol all common grazing sites and walking paths, all main areas and commonly used hallways. 'Rat', on the other hand, is for the secret passages and the unused and obscure hallways and such." Blaise explained.
"And as for why animals, why not?" Neville interjected, "Apparently in the army they use letters of the Greek alphabet, and things like that, but when you're dealing with a group of kids, the last think you want to make them do is have to memorize an entirely new alphabet. So when we asked what we should use, someone suggested animals. When describing patterns outside the castle we use magical creatures, and inside, in the barn, we use muggle ones."
"Just wait till you hear about the memory tools we used to have them remember which animal was which pattern." Blaise added with a knowing smirk.
For some reason, the transfiguration professor was sure she wasn't going to like it, but she asked none the less, "And what, pray tell, is that?"
Neville's cheeks coloured a tad in embarrassment, but before he could answer, a bunch of the younger year students, on their way to patrol answered it for him.
"Old McGonagall had a farm, eee-i, eee-i, Oh. And on that farm she had a cow..." the voices sang as they left the room, much to the amusement of all the staff present, save one.
"My, Minerva, whatever is the matter?" silkily asked one, Severus Snape, who was very much enjoying this situation.
"Stuff it, Severus." was all she muttered, in a rather thick Scottish accent, much to the eliciting a laugh from the diminutive charms professor standing next to her.
Choosing to come to his Assistant Headmistresses' aide, Professor Dumbledore addressed those who remained, "All professors, save heads of houses, please join a group of students in their patrols. We shall have a full staff meeting as soon as we know exactly what is going on, and things have calmed down a bit. In the mean time, please do your best to keep the peace among the students."
Seeing this as the dismissal it was, the other staff, and the few remaining students, exited the room.
"Now that we have occupied the majority of the staff and students, please, tell me what happened to Harry." the headmaster pleaded, strait to the point for a change.
"We're not sure, professor, but I'm assuming that Ginny and Hermione just went to find out." Ron supplied.
"Let's go. You need medical attention." said Blaise as he helped a rather wounded Neville.
"Not till we find out about Harry. Let's go to there first. None of my injuries are life threatening and Demeter will be alright too." Neville said as he struggled to his feet.
"Why? Where is he? Where are we going?" Dumbledore asked anxiously. Once again, he had no idea what was going on, and he hated that feeling.
"The Room of Requirement." Athena told him as she supported her sister as they walked out of the room in pursuit of Neville and Blaise who had just left with no thought at all to the staff members still present in the Great Hall.
"HARRY!!" Ginny yelled as she banged on the door to the Room of Requirement.
Hermione did her best to comfort he near hysterical girl beside her, but she kept her mouth closed as she didn't think anything she had to say would help.
"Why isn't he answering Hermione?" Ginny asked in a pleading tone, "Do you think he's ok?"
Hermione tried to smile, "Of course he's alright. He's gotten through much worse before, and he's in Hogwarts, a magical building his ancestor built, I don't think she'd let anything happen to him if she could at all help." she assured her.
Ginny lifted her head and looked up hopefully at Hermione, "You think so?"
Hermione nodded end enveloped her friend in a hug.
Suddenly, there was a charge that ran through the air that everyone in the castle felt, and a bright flash of light that seemed to come from everywhere at once.
Ginny jumped out of Hermione's friendly embrace and turned back towards the door just as it opened.
"That should do it." said the figure standing in the middle of the room as he leaned heavily upon his staff before collapsing, unconscious an instant later.
-sniff- That smell, I know that smell.
-sniff, sniff- I definitely know that smell. It's clean. It smells...almost...white? How can a smell be white?
'Mmmm...warm.' he thought, 'It's definitely warm, even if it did smell sterile and clea...Oh NO! NOOOOOOOOOO!'
He groaned to himself as his other senses caught up, and his hearing kicked in.
"He's just resting. Whatever he did was extremely draining on his magic. He shouldn't wake up til tomorrow morning at the earliest..." the female voice stated in a professional manor.
'I can't believe in I'm here again. I was so close. I almost made it the whole school year without a visit. But no...I just had to go and drain myself putting the wards back up.' Harry thought to himself.
'Thank you for your help my young master.' a new voice in his head answered. She sounded old and wise, motherly and loving and Harry knew instinctively who it was. After all, if the Founders could leave behind a sentient hat...
'You're very welcome, Hogwarts, it was the least I could do. Thank you for your help as well. I would never have been able to get rid of Tom without it.' Harry responded, not really all that surprised that the castle was talking to him. After all, with all that Harry had seen and experienced these last 6 years, nothing surprised him anymore.
'You're welcome child.'
Harry usually didn't like being referred to as a child, but for some reason he did feel offended when she addressed him as such. Maybe it was that he always felt safe and at home within her walls, or maybe it was that she was more than a thousand years old, and to her everyone, including the headmaster, was a child.
'How is it that I can hear your voice now?' Harry wondered.
'You are the keeper of my wards and the heir of one of my creators. They used to talk to me as well, though at that time I was the child; young and naive about the world. Over the years I have learned much. This is something that Godric, Rowena, Helga and Salazar created me with so that if future heirs of their blood were to take on the position of Headmaster, I could talk to them and tell them all about their ancestors and my secrets.' she explained.
Harry listened to the voices around him for a couple of seconds as he processed what he had heard from Hogwarts.
'I should probably let them know that I'm alright.' Harry thought.
'That might be a good idea, I can feel the worry of everyone in the castle for your well being. Especially the young ones in the room with you. Speaking of whom, I would most like to talk to Helga's child at some point if you could arrange it, I will teach you how to do that at a later time though.' she told him.
'Helga's child? One of the others is a descendant of a founder as well?' Harry thought in response, almost in disbelief.
'Yes. Many of the children within my walls have the blood of my creators, but one of your friends is her most direct child, and senior Heir.' the castle responded.
'That could only be Neville then. He's the only one who is the head of his family apart from me.' Harry replied mentally.
'You are correct, young Gryffindor, though he is descended from Godric as well, not as directly as you mind you, just as the Weasleys. Now there's a family I do so love. They have almost as many children as I do.' she chuckled to herself. 'The triplets have the blood of Rowena running through their veins, and the young snake in your midst might be interested to know that he has some of Salazar's and Rowena's blood, though in very small amount in both cases. You might be surprised to learn that you also have some of Rowena's and Helga's blood in you and some of Salazar's magic. The wizarding world is not a large one here in Europe, and with the ridiculous obsession with 'blood purity' that some of the older family's have, it's not a surprise that so many of you have the blood of the same ancestor. Hogwarts told him.
'I didn't know that.' Harry thought pensively, 'Though I probably should have.'
'But enough of this, we have a long, long time to talk. Right now, you should open your eyes, drop your mental shields and let everyone know you're alright. The youngest Weasley has been trying to find you for quite some time now.' she told him.
He was a tad confused now, he hadn't noticed that his shields were up, but now that he was aware of it, he wondered how she was able to talk to him.
'We'll talk about it later, now get up.' she nudged him pleasantly.
"Oh look! He's moving!" said the excited voice of the young woman he loved and he shifted his weight in the bed to get a bit more comfortable.
"I was so close." Harry muttered through a dry throat.
'Water please, Gin.' he thought to her afterwards.
She merely smiled and handed him the glass by his bed.
"Thanks." he responded after taking a sip.
"What was that mister Potter?" the Headmaster asked, not sure he heard clearly.
"I was thanking her for the water." Harry replied cheekily.
"I was referring to what you said before the water, Harry." Albus responded with an amused expression, the twinkle in his eyes slowly returning at seeing that his young protégé was indeed alright.
"I said that I was so close." Harry repeated.
"Close to what, mate?" Ron asked, despite the fact that he thought he knew what Harry was talking about.
"Close to lasting a whole year without a stay in the Hospital wing. I was sooo close." Harry told them with an ever exaggerated emotional sigh, which earned him a small, almost forced chuckle from those around him.
Seeing their response, and remembering the battle that had just taken place, Harry's smile fell, and with a grim expression asked, "How many?"
"How many what?" asked Demeter.
But again, Ron knew what he was talking about, "Eight dead, 28 wounded."
"Who?" Harry asked, dreading to hear the names of the fallen.
Suddenly understanding, the others remained silent. Ginny slid her hand into his for support before Ron told him.
"Owen Caldwell, 3rd year Hufflepuff; Melissa Jennings, 4th year Hufflepuff; Samantha Wright, 5th year Slytherin; Charles Ashby, 4th year Slytherin; Brian Lobowski, 7th year Ravenclaw, Maria Gordon, 5th year Ravenclaw; Peter Reed, 2nd year Ravenclaw; and Colin Creevey..." Ron told him, trying hard not to be emotional, as everyone else in the room were also trying to fight back tears, some, such as Hermione and Demeter.
Harry was staying relatively well composed throughout the listing, until Colin's name that is, at which point his mask was broken, and a tear escaped his eye. No weeping, no sniffling. There would be time for that after the war. He was just so thankful that there were so few.
"Thank you Ron." he said softly, trying really had to keep emotion out of it, as he squeezed Ginny's hands a little tighter to keep it from cracking.
Ron nodded and stepped back from the bed.
Seeing that a change in topic was in order, Dumbledore spoke up, "Harry, it would, more likely than not, help Madam Pomfrey if you were able to tell us what happened in the Room of Requirement after your friends were sent back to the Great Hall."
Harry nodded slightly, in acknowledgement and thanks to what Albus was doing, and answered, "Hogwarts needed me to help her repair the wards around the school." he answered honestly.
"How damaged were they?" the concerned looking Headmaster asked.
"Completely destroyed." Harry responded matter-of-factly.
Albus did his best not to show the shock that he was feeling, "How were you able to raise them without help?" Dumbledore himself needed the help of the heads of houses to strengthen them sufficiently every year. If Harry was able to do it alone, just how powerful was he? "How is it you were able to accomplish this by yourself and where did you get the spells to do it?"
"Hogwarts told me, and I listened to her directions." the young man told him.
'The only reason it takes him so much power to do it is because he doesn't do it correctly. He tries to infuse his own power into them instead of using the magic that's all around him. The Magic that the students have been creating for the whole year. That magic has already become a part of me, and so it is much easier to direct that which already exists into something useful, than trying to create something completely new. The correct way has been lost for many centuries centuries though, until I showed you that is.' the castle told him, much to his amusement, and Ginny's surprise as she had been able to listen in somehow. 'It would actually take less power to raise the wards from nothing to full power than to try to infuse already existing wards with more power from a foreign source. If you did it his way, it would be better to drop them every 5 years or so and re-raised them for maximum power and efficiency. But we shall speak of in more depth at a later date.'
Harry smiled at the confused and maybe a little worried expression on the headmaster's face, "No sir, I'm not that powerful. Hogwarts has just told me that it takes less power to raise the wards from nothing to full power than it does to infuse already existing wards with more power from a different source, like the way you do it. Apparently, there's a much easier, and more efficient, way of doing it. She's told me that the wards were designed to be recharged using some of the ambient magic left over after every full year of student spell use within her walls. I'd be happy to show you a simpler, and less magically exhausting way of recharging, or even raising the wards from scratch, after she explains to me exactly how it's done."
Albus was more than a little surprised at the revelation given to him by his young pupil, though by now, he should be used to Harry revealing things to him that he would have never dreamed of seeing. Albus certainly hoped that Harry would one day succeed him as head of this institution, though he would never admit that out loud to anyone. Well, not yet anyways.
"That would be very much appreciated, Harry. And I would also like to take advantage of your ability to communicate with the castle at some point to ask her a few questions if that would be alright." the elderly man asked, clearly excited at the prospect of talking to the great edifice he had been serving in for so long.
"Yes sir. That would be fine." Harry told him.
Harry then turned his attention to Ron, "How is everyone handling it?"
"The younger years are having more problems dealing with it than the senior ones, but that's to be expected. This is their first battle. Staff is putting up a strong, united front, but when they're alone, I've seen how they're really dealing. Over all, they're mourning, but they'll be ok." Ron told him.
"I'll call a meeting as soon as I'm paroled...I mean released." Harry teased, getting a few scattered, if not subdued, chuckles. "How did the outside battle go sir? Did everything work alright?"
"That is a question I shall answer at a later date, Harry. You know the basics now. The details can wait for another time." the headmaster answered him.
"If you don't mind, sir, I'd like to hear it now." Harry told him firmly.
The Headmaster sighed, but agreed.
The group sat quietly listening to Dumbledore's synopsis of the battle. It appeared that all went according to plan, and those that fell were a result of a lucky shot, or a small mistake made by that individual. Harry knew that he would learn more at the next D.A. meeting which he planned on using as a debriefing. He was planning on asking some of the fighters for the memories of the event as well so he could see it with his own eyes, but that would have to wait.
"That is all I was able to see, Harry. I'm sorry for the loss of your friends, but if it helps, many more would have perished today if not for the training you had given them. I am immensely proud of all of you." he said as he looked at each of them in turn.
"Thank you sir." Harry replied on behalf of his friends.
The wizened Headmaster merely nodded before changing the subject, "Though I do believe that Madam Pomfrey would be less than pleased with us if we continued to pester her patient with stressful conversation." he said with a dimmed twinkle.Harry agreed with a slight nod, and a forced smile.
The next half an hour or so was spent in quiet conversation, and though the mood wasn't light by any means, it was comforting to spend time with friends, especially after such an ordeal.
After some time, Albus spoke up, "We should probably leave Mister Potter to rest, though we will have to speak soon Harry, as I have many questions that you were not able to answer before the attack, and a few more questions that have surfaced since then as well." the Headmaster told him in a tone that while friendly, showed that he would not let this topic drop.
"Of course sir." Harry acquiesced with a slight nod.
"We'll see you later, mate. Get some rest." Neville said as he patted Harry's foot with his free hand as he walked past on his way out of the infirmary.
The others all said something similar to show their support and love, and were gone. Ginny promised him mentally that she'd flame back as soon as Madame Pomfrey called it a night, to see him, which Harry thanked her for. As soon as everyone had left, Harry fell into a fitful asleep and dreamed of battles, enemies, and lost friends.
AN: I'll start with the mandatory apology for the length of time it took me to update. Life happened. There's not much I can do about it, but I will try to be a little more diligent in working on this as it is a great stress relief. I just wish I had more time away from work that was my own. This whole marriage thing is great, but man does it take up a lot of time ;)
(1) For more information see Dumbledore's explanation in Chapter 4: Confessions
Before you start sending criticisms to my editors for any mistakes you see, please know that they had nothing to do with this chapter. I was so far behind that I figured I better just post it and deal the bad grammar and possible spelling mistakes later .
Ok, so I was a tad off when I said two more chapters. After going over my notes more thoroughly, I have discovered that I have a few loose ends to tie up and this will take more writing than I had initially planned. So please bear with me as I produce yet another two chapters followed by an Epilogue. I think. But with me, you can never bee too certain.
Thank you all again for your support, and for all of you who've asked, my wife and I are doing well, and apart from my wife's 24/7 morning sickness (trust me when I say it's not fun for the mother nor the me) the pregnancy is going along great. Had the first ultra sound: ten fingers, ten toes, healthy heart etc, so all is looking well. Due date is approx June 4th for those of you who are curious.