Harry Potter and the Quest of Light
Chapter: 20 of 30+
Author: skarm
Rating: M
Timeline: Post HBP. This means if you haven't read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince yet you'll want to do so before reading this.

Series summary: Albus Dumbledore: Dead. Voldemort: Spreading his evil. The only thing that stops him is the Boy Who lived, who must turn into a man if he wishes to not only survive, but win this wizarding war.
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. They are owned by JKR except for a few original characters I have created for the purpose of this story. Needless to say, I did not invent this world and am merely borrowing it for some fun.

Special thanks: Chris does the beta work, Chris wrote the new summary and of course AJ does the e-wenching. We've determined that this is bugging me on AIM when I'm slacking off while wearing skimpy clothing (not that this has anything to do with the actual definition of 'wench'). Oh, and Danny, Slytherin is not tainted!

A/N - Two… more… chapters… for… this… story arc. I also fail at meeting my fanfic writing deadlines, apparently. (rofl - having written that over 8 months ago, apparently yes, I do fail at meeting my deadlines. Oh well. A renewed effort commences once again…)

Harry Potter and the Quest of Light

Chapter 20

Being Badgered by Bellatrix

"We are, perhaps, uniquely among the earth's creatures, the worrying animal. We worry away our lives, fearing the future, discontent with the present, unable to take in the idea of dying, unable to sit still." - Lewis Thomas

"Zabini, just do it," Alecto's shrill cry rose above the blubbering of the muggle woman, who was bound and gagged, on the chesterfield in front of them. Amycus wheezed in an irritating chuckle, or giggle perhaps, from beside his sister, and behind the row of four ex-students of Hogwarts.

Blaise Zabini looked from the two muggles struggling against their bonds to the Carrows siblings. Both of them had shed their white masks to show their faces. They looked eager for excitement. "I think not."

Amycus stopped his wheezing giggles and narrowed his eyes, but his sister replied first. "You can't not do it!" she shrieked, doing a decently good Bellatrix Lestrange impression, Blaise thought, and raised her wand.

"You will regret it if you do that, I assure you," the younger man replied calmly. Not many people tend to be calm when facing down threats of the Cruciatus Curse.

"The Dark Lord has no time for those who won't do as their told! You will be punished!" Amycus said, coughing at the end. He sounded as if he'd been a chain smoker earlier on in life.

"Except me, although if you try it, I will tell him."

"Zabini, you aren't special-"

"Fine, I'll do it!" Another of Zabini's former classmates pushed through the middle of where Zabini, Amycus, and Alecto were standing to appear in front of the muggles.

"Nott, you're sadistic. I never would have pegged you to be the one to go over the edge like this. I don't know you anymore," Zabini commented before shaking his head in disgust and turning away.

"You fucking coward, Zabini. You just can't do what it takes to become a true hero," Nott spat back, his voice rising in anger.

Zabini turned to face his former classmate once more. "You aren't being a hero. You're being a creature. A fucking disgusting creature." He gritted his teeth and calmed himself, resisting the urge to hex Nott into oblivion.

"The Dark Lord will punish you-" Nott began, but one of the Carrows elbowed him sharply in the ribs.

"Silence, Nott," Alecto said, a lot more calmly herself now.

Nott must have been hallucinating, but he could have sworn he saw a glimpse of fear in the short woman's eyes. "But… fine," he said, turning back to his tied-up pray. "This is probably going to hurt you, but it certainly won't hurt me," he said with a sadistic grin in the corner of his mouth. His robes fell away to the ground before the boy reached for his belt buckle.

Mr. Granger, no longer fearing for his own life, looked at the youth with an intense anger. He struggled against his bonds even more fiercely as the delinquent approached his wife.

After falling down for the second time in a few seconds, Harry finally began to get the hang of dune boarding. That was great and all, because farther down the slope Ginny had successfully dodged a second golem. Tonks and Ross had been quite far ahead, but a giant plume of dirt and debris had blanketed the lower part of the hill. Tonks, or Ross, Harry wasn't sure which, had let out a scream. Nothing further had come from that part of the hill.

Harry bent at his knees and leaned back enough to allow him a sharp right turn around a golem's fist that had swung out to clobber him from his duneboard, which still had an embarrassing design on it. Luckily he was getting better as the seconds ticked past. This was obviously a good thing, but Harry had always done very well in a sink or swim environment rather than a safe classroom setting. This was one of those times.

He could still see Ginny's flaming red hair farther down to slope. The girl dodged another golem, and then seemed to have a clear run towards the dust cloud Tonks and Ross had disappeared into. However, it seemed that the ground itself wasn't exactly willing to accommodate such simplicity.

A jagged rock burst from the ground directly in front of Ginny giving her next to no reaction time. The red-head somehow managed to avoid it by shredding wickedly to the left. She somehow managed to keep her balance after all of that.

The giant spike that had erupted from the ground in front of Ginny wasn't the only one that appeared. Harry was so caught up breathing his sigh of relief that Ginny had survived the encounter and managed to keep herself upright that he hadn't noticed how far down the hill he was himself. He was very close to the giant dust cloud that Tonks and Ross had disappeared into, but that wasn't the problem. The problem was a repeat of what had happened to Ginny. That was to say another twenty foot spike tore its way through the sand. Harry leaned to the side, but didn't turn as quickly as Ginny had before him.

The underside of his duneboard caught a jagged piece of rock from the spire and snagged midway through. He came to an abrupt, painful stop that pulled his back. Blinking slightly and wondering what had happened, Harry found himself leaning forward at an impossible angle, yet still on his duneboard. "Bloody sticking charm," he muttered, waving his wand towards the board. This caused him to fall straight to the ground and have the wind knocked out of him temporarily.

The sandstorm had subsided a bit by the time Harry had struggled to his knees. Ordinarily this wouldn't have been a difficult task even after all the punishment he'd endured so far since leaving the hotel, but the sand was deep and flowing downhill towards more golems, spire traps, and Merlin knows what. Due to the sandstorm subsiding Harry got quite a good look at what had caused either Tonks or Ross to scream. The cloud of debris and dust was caused by a massive centipede that had emerged from under the sand itself. The sheer size of the creature was awe inspiring, yet frightening at the same time.

Harry spied Tonks and Ross firing curses by peeking out from behind one of the rocky spires. One of them, Tonks by the look of the brightly colored hair, was holding her wand with only one arm since she was using the other to cover a wound on her leg. She was alive which made this one of Harry's least concerns for the time being. The centipede had just found a new target.

Stumbling backwards, Harry managed only to get one step back as the centipede's large pincers clicked a few times in preparation. The sand was impossible to maneuver in unless you were some sort of giant creature that was designed specifically for this. The ceiling also continued to rumble downwards. The first Reductor curse than Harry fired hit the centipede dead on, but barely slowed the creature down. The pincers clicked again before the head reared back.

The strike came quickly with the centipede's head racing down to catch Harry between the razor sharp pincers. A quick crystalline shield later had the centipede reeling backwards in a quick pain. The pincers had broken when it had tried to slice and dice the shield to get to Harry himself.

"Wotcher, Harry!" Tonks yelled from behind the stone spire. Ross gave him a cheeky wave after she finished firing another spell. "Still those bloody golems about!"

This was still only about half the problem. The centipede, while minus its main form of attack, still had its massive girth and million of legs to crush things with. With that it began to rear again and head straight for Harry.

"Incendio!" Ron cried. Harry believed it came from just a foot or two behind him.

The spurt of flames from Ron's wand was directed at the centipede's head and was enough to frighten off the creature's second attempt at crushing Harry, but it wouldn't be enough in the long run. The creature was either too large or too magical to be effected more than momentarily by basic magic.

There was still the problem of the golems, of course, but at least they had a clear plan when it came to defeating those. There was nothing in their playbook on how to deal with a gigantic centipede that was impervious to magic, while dodging golems, and surfing down a slope while the ceiling crashed towards your head. At least not yet.

"Blimey we get into a lot of crap," muttered Ron as he readied himself for another spell.

"Same as always," Harry retorted, setting himself as well.

It was all for naught as the centipede twitched during its next rear, then dove back into the sound without explanation.

Blinking, both Harry and Ron turned around, half expecting to see a giant golem ready to crush them, but there was nothing there, minus the sand itself.

"Even the ceiling's stopped falling," commented Ron, scratching his head. "Does this mean…"

"That your younger sister grabbed that topaz key? Yeah," Harry said, grinning and clapping Ron on the shoulder with one arm while he used the other to point at the bottom of the hill where Ginny and Luna were celebrating.

"Dit Voldemort, gaat hij spoedig toenemen?"

"Do not speak his name. He is the Dark Lord, our Master," the Death Eater warned.

"Ik ben droevig. Donkere Lord," the first man apologized. He looked quite similar to the Death Eater with his blonde hair and large build, but this main was Dutch while the Death Eater was clearly English.

"Actually, the Dark Lord has already risen. He's just keeping himself only partially amused with the wizarding world at this time. He plans to make a serious bid for power in the near future," the Death Eater continued to explain. He took a sip from the glass of water that was on the end table next to his well padded, although dated, chair.

The Dutch man let a small smile creep into his face. He was seated in a more elegant chair yet. "Deze Donkere Lord is Engels. Waarom geeft hij om ons in Nederland?"

The Death Eater chuckled and swirled the water around in his glass before setting it back down on the table. "The Dark Lord is not looking for further power besides the British Isles, however his ideals should be followed everywhere. You, Lord Wynja, follow the Dark Lord's ideals here. Surely an alliance of sorts would benefit both parties. You have quite a following here in the Netherlands."

It was the Dutch Lord's turn to laugh. "Dit is waar, maar als deze Donkere Lord aangezien u houdt van op te scheppen, waarom hij vereist hulp zo krachtig is?"

"Allies are always welcome, Lord Wynja. The Dark Lord is powerful, yes, but we invite others to take pleasure in crushing the futile resistance that will be put forward. Think of it as an offer to share in the pleasure. I know that you and your political followers, just like ours, have been forced to keep your true desires hidden. This is a place where you can let loose without possibility of the law interfering."

"Ik zie. U brengt een interessantste aanbieding. Ik zal over het denken," the Dutchman said before taking another sip of his wine.

"That's all I ask," the Death Eater said, bowing his head in mock respect. He certainly didn't respect Lord Wynja, but his mission for the Dark Lord was to bring an entire political faction of the Dutch House of Lords and Ministry to his side. It had proven rather easy so far. "There is someone I'd like you to meet, first, though."

As if it had been planned, the door to Lord Wynja's study opened and a younger version of the Death Eater walked into the room with a surly, carefree grin on his face.

The Death Eater smirked as Lord Wynja's glass nearly slipped from his hand. "Yes," the Death Eater said nodding. "My son is quite famous as you can see…" It was just as well the Dutch were so easy to woo. France would probably be harder, but at least he didn't expect any challenges in Germany.

"I've. Effing. Had it," spat Harry angrily as he touched his hand to his cheek. A harpy had just raked its talons across his face yet again. His situation wasn't looking too good and his options were limited.

Harry and the rest of the Order of Light had entered the room representing wind, by the looks of it, but this time weren't really expecting an easy challenge. They were right to assume such a thing because when they began to walk on the smooth stone floor, which had small holes all throughout it, a fierce wind had picked up. Instead of pushing them backwards like they had assumed, it came from below and shot them upwards right towards the ceiling. Of course the ceiling was covered in jagged, spiky rocks.

Luckily they'd had the sense to cast spells on themselves to either suspend themselves in air or weight their feet down to the floor. Both hadn't helped when the harpies had entered the fray.

Harry himself had cast an iron boot spell on himself and had no trouble walking along the floor at a slow pace, but then a bunch of fast moving harpies with sharp talons had come whizzing by him out of nowhere. The screeching was horrendous and made it feel as if his ears drums were about to burst. It reminded him to never make Ginny upset.

They looked like hideous mutant birds. Or that was the nearest Harry could figure as they whizzed past him. They had feathers on their wings, and sharp talons, but no beaks. Instead there was a human looking face with bright orange eyes - much like Buckbeak the Hippogriff's. It didn't really matter, Harry knew, all that mattered was that he got to the other side of the room and grabbed the Emerald Key.

Harry could hear spells being cast as well as the visible flashes of light from his comrade's wands. It was time for drastic action, and Harry was sick of trying to play it safe. Of course playing it safe would have been not entering this bloody tomb in the first place. "Ron!" he called out, trying to find where his friend was. Only Ron would do it, he knew.

It took his best friend a few moments to reply, and even then his voice was strained. "What? I'm a little busy here!"

"Banish me. I'm taking off my spell," Harry called over his shoulder as he waved his wand at his feet. "Finite Incantatem." The winds immediately picked him up and sent him towards the ceiling. Oh come on, Ron, banish me or this will be a quick end. There was a jolt as if someone had slammed into him from behind. Now, not only was he sailing upwards, but he was also being rocketed across the room as well. He nearly collided with what he thought was a harpy, but it was too blurry to tell.

The crystalline shield Harry created just before he impacted the spikes was enough to stop him from being impaled, but he hadn't thought through the rest of the plan very well. Nothing stopped him from slamming into the shield, and hard. The force of the hit flung him downwards again, although thankfully at an angle where he landed out of the wind, although painfully on his shoulder, right near the statue of Sylph.

His lungs were burning, although Harry figured it might have been his chest in general. His ribs had taken nearly the full brunt of him hurtling into his own crystalline shield, where as his shoulder had mainly taken his fall from the sky. He was lucky he had been cushioned slightly by the wind slowing his downward velocity. That didn't make it any easier.

Opening his mouth to speak, Harry couldn't make any sound it and it hurt to cough. The least of my problems is getting the wind knocked out of me, he thought grimly as he pushed himself to his knees. From there he tried to stand, but there was a sharp pain. He sank back down to his knees and was only vaguely aware of the screams and screeches coming from the other half of the room. The harpies had thankfully either forgotten him, or thought he was dead already.

"Accio, key," Harry sputtered out weekly, giving a half-enthusiastic wave of his wand in the general direction of the statue. The last thing Harry remembered was closing his hand around an emerald key before hearing someone fire a stunning spell from close range.

The first thing Harry noticed when he groggily came around after being out for who knew how long was that he was back in the main room of the tomb instead of the hellish wind room he'd been in previously. His left hand was empty, however, and this was a problem since he was sure he'd grasped the key from the statue of Sylph before passing out. Furthermore his ribs were wrapped up rather crudely with what appeared to be a shirt. That was okay, Harry thought, given that he knew he'd at least fractured some of them. "Alright! Onto the next room!" Harry he exclaimed, trying to sound enthusiastic, but failing rather dismally. He tried to sit up, but was grabbed by the shoulder and forced to lie back down.

"I don't think so, Harry," Remus Lupin's voice came from behind him. His face appeared upside down in Harry's vision as his former teacher stood over him. "You have several fractured ribs that I doubt I healed well enough, first off. Second off, you're getting far too reckless and we're worried about you." Remus' facial expression changed from a neutral one to a fatherly glare.

"Alright, Remus, look. We need to get the last key, get the Horcrux, and get out of here-" Harry said, before he was interrupted by a grinning Ronald Weasley. "Bollocks, Ron, what are you smiling at?" he snapped. He then noticed something glimmering in his best friend's hand. "That's… the ruby key…" Harry stated needlessly.

As it turned out, while Harry was stunned, the rest of them had decided to raid the last room without him since they knew how he'd react to an suggestions he sit one out. There was also something involving an army of heliopaths in the room, or so he got from Luna's half statement, which was interrupted by a loud growl by Hermione. He decided not to press his luck any further. Upon soliciting all the keys from the rest of the Order, Harry approached the megalith and inserted the keys one by one in the slots, hesitating on the last one. They honestly had no clue what to expect, and given the track record of the tomb it probably wasn't going to be good.

The hesitation was for naught, though, when a regular sized door swung open, obviously by magic seeing as it had no hinges and there had been no outside appearance of anything prior to inserting the keys. Harry, Ron, and Hermione descended the short stairs to a regular casket.

"You'd bloody well think with all this other crap that he'd have something a little more fancy than this," Ron commented, and both the others agreed with his statement. It was odd. Hermione quickly cast an opening charm on the casket, causing the lid to pop off. There was no skeleton involved, but merely a very familiar goblet. Familiar to Harry, anyway.

"That's it. That's bloody it," Harry said, his eyes swimming with excitement at the find. After all of that they'd found Hufflepuff's Cup, one of Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes. "Don't touch it!" Harry said, batting Ron's arms away as the redhead was about to grab the cup with his bare hands. "Remember how I told you about Dumbledore's arm?" Ron gulped in acknowledgment. "That was from Riddle's Ring."

Hermione was a few steps ahead of them, and had conjured a thick red cloth, Gryffindor red naturally, to wrap the goblet of Helga Hufflepuff in. She tapped her wand on the cloth after wrapping it, and then explained that the cloth would not come unraveled by accident.

Harry nominated himself as the carrier of the Horcrux simply because he didn't want to burden anyone else with it. As he tucked the bundle of cloth under his arm, he heard Moody's gruff cry from back in the main chamber.

"Potter! Get up here now!"

Although by the time Harry, Ron, and Hermione sprinted up the few steps, the dread had sunk in, Harry didn't know how bad it was until he spied around thirty to forty Death Eaters, all with their wands drawn and pointing at Harry's group just passed the small bridge that crossed the oozing black, tarry moat.

"We've been set up, Potter," Moody stated, his wand trained on the nearest few of the Death Eaters. They were hopelessly outgunned, though, and fighting here would be suicide.

"Wittle baby Potta! We meet again!" the nearest of the Death Eaters said, pulling off her white mask to reveal herself as Bellatrix Lestrange, although the baby talk would have made Harry guess that instantly.

"Yeah, yeah, we've got to stop meeting like this," Harry shot back while glancing around the gigantic chamber. Surely there was a way out of this. He didn't go through all of that crap with the vampires, the spiders, and then the tomb's own traps to get stopped by a bunch of Death Eaters. He spotted something odd, but brushed it off. Surely the tar hadn't bubbled right beside the bridge. "Do you know what we've been through? You lot are probably the most laughable of it all." He had to buy time, and insulting them always did the trick. He wasn't scared of Death Eaters anymore.

"Awww, Potta, please cut the act. Hand it over and maybe we'll let you live," Bellatrix stated, although it was the most hollow 'maybe' Harry had ever heard in his life, even including some of the times when Uncle Vernon had told Harry that 'maybe' they'd celebrate his birthday. Several of the Death Eaters laughed or guffawed. The tar bubbled again, more so this time, and wasn't noticed by any of the Death Eaters.

Dare I ask? Harry mentally sighed. Still, any diversion would be useful right now. He quickly learned to be careful what he wished for.

Bellatrix was about to reply with another taunt when the bubbling intensified greatly. The Death Eaters noticed it now, and the one closest to the bubbling spoke.

"What the bloody fuck is that?" Harry vaguely could place the voice, although he couldn't be certain.

A large, straight skeletal… object, that somewhat resembled a spine, which was the best way Harry could describe it, shot up poised from the tar. Everyone stood mesmerized by it as it hung in the air. Harry didn't even realize his jaw had dropped. After all he had seen today, this place kept raising the bar. Then the skeletal object struck much like something ensnaring its prey by the tip of whatever had come out of the tar, punctured the nearest Death Eater's chest. It pulled the man off the ground, hanging it upside down by what Harry clearly recognized as the tip of a stinger.

The man's mask slid off his face and Harry recognized him finally as O'Toole, a Slytherin who graduated last year and had lead the Death Eater attack on the Leaky Cauldron. The stinger disappeared into the tar as quickly as it had come up. The bubbling was furious now, and Harry was certain that something big, or whatever controlled the stinger, was about to surface. Worse still, on the opposite side of the narrow bridge, a similar disturbance was happening.

It wasn't all bad, however, given that the Death Eaters were in pure disarray now, some screaming at the horror, others swearing, and Bellatrix trying to back off the bridge, which resulting in her shoving another Death Eater into the tar amidst the bubbling. With a flick of his wand, Harry disillusioned himself and hoped the others were already springing into to action. He didn't have to tell them to get out of the tomb at any cost. This was probably about the only chance they'd have to get out of here alive. They were outnumbered by both Death Eaters and creatures alike.

Charging forward, Harry sprinted into the mass of scrambling Death Eaters while two large skeletal scorpions crawled out of the bubbling tar on each side of him, their stingers poised and claws clicking. He collided with a Death Eater head on and felt himself fall to the ground. The Death Eater had also fallen, and his mask had slipped off, and Harry recognized him as Stevens, O'Toole's friend from Hogwarts. He didn't have time to really care. There were shouts of curses, hexes, and charms flying all about the massive chamber. He had no idea what the rest of his friends were doing, or where they were, but he could have sworn he heard their voices every now and then.

He swerved this way and that way, pushing Death Eaters out of his path. Many of them were running in the direction of the main staircase like he was despite Bellatrix's shrieks and orders to kill the white robed figures. A few Death Eaters tripped ahead of him, causing a chain reaction that had Harry sprawling across the pile of bodies and having the floor rush up to meet him. The cup popped out from under his arm like an American football fumble and bounced a few times before rolling, and then catching another Death Eater, causing him or her to fall awkwardly. Then the Death Eater was impaled through the back by a boney stinger.

"Accio, Horcrux!" Harry cried, training his wand on the bundle of cloth, causing it to fly towards him where he caught it in his hand. He gulped when he looked up and saw the skeletal scorpion, which was about as tall as he was before adding in the daunting stinger, stalking towards him, claws a clicking. "Oh bollocks," Harry said rather plainly as he dived to the side to avoid a quick thrust of the stinger. He winced as the pain in his ribs made him lose his breath. He timidly looked over his shoulder to notice the scorpion had found other targets. Things were happening too quickly for him to keep track of.

His saving grace was in sight, however, as he spotted the staircase that lead to the exit just on the reverse side of the mass of bodies fleeing. If anything could have been described as chaos, this would have been it. Up ahead of him one of his members was dueling expertly with an equally skilled Death Eater that surprisingly wasn't Bellatrix. Harry wasn't sure who else could have been that skilled, but whoever it happened to be was keeping up with the skilled ex-Auror of Alastor Moody. His weary footsteps nearly made him slip on the stairs several times as he closed the distance to the dueling pair. Things weren't unfolding well for the Order member, however.

Moody had sidestepped and nearly fallen off the edge of the stairs into the main chamber again dodging a body bind from the Death Eater. The second spell, a stunner, Moody was also able to avoid by leaning backwards. It was then that his fate was sealed. A wooden leg simply isn't able to balance nearly as well as a human foot, and Moody toppled, off balance, over the edge of the staircase and the two stories downwards into the brouhaha below. That was the last Harry ever saw of the aged Auror.

"Mad-Eye!" Harry bellowed in anguish. He focused his attention on the murderous Death Eater and stared the man down. It seemed that the Death Eater had stopped, and was peering over the edge to examine his handiwork. When he spotted the fuming Harry Potter, he simply dropped his wand, which rattled down the stairs and removed his mask.

"I'm done, Potter," Henry White, the Auror who had once been a guard of Azkaban prison, stated before hanging his head in shame. "I've killed Alastor Moody. I'm a murderer."

Blinking at this unexpected turn of events, Harry's mind reeled. White was the traitor that had allowed Voldemort and his Death Eaters to break into Azkaban, and now he had killed Mad-Eye, but he seemed very remorseful about it. "But… why?" he managed to ask as bodies ran past him up the stairs. Clearly the Death Eaters weren't interested in fighting anymore. An echoing screech made Harry realize why - in addition to the skeletal scorpions, the harpies had also joined the fray, and who knows what else.

"My family, Potter. My family. Voldemort got to them before I could get them into hiding. Look after them, would you, if it's not too much trouble?" White asked in a resigned tone, assuming the worst had already befallen them. "Now get out of here. It's my time too."

Not bothering to argue at this point, Harry roared past White and took the stairs three at a time, but not before hearing the last words of the other Auror: "Well, looks like Voldemort sent his finest whore to send me to the next world." Harry couldn't help but smile grimly at the man as he sprinted out of hearing range.

Something was clearly wrong, Harry knew, when he set foot back in the room which had housed gigantic spiders not too long ago. Of course this felt like it was a eternity ago to the young man, but it really had only been a few hours. Most of the webbing had been cut to shreds and several cloaks littered the floor. Harry noted that these thankfully all were black cloaks that were worn only by Death Eaters and the vampires. A few Death Eater masks were scattered on the floor as well. Taking a deep breath, Harry took a step forward.

He hated being right. He really did. The Webspinner that they had fought before, that had spewed ocular fluid all over him from the wound it had suffered in their previous engagement, crawled down the wall and faced him, conveniently blocking the exit. The body that collided with him from behind sent him skidding a few steps forward and bringing him ever closer to the looming spider.

"Harry, I'm- Oh blimey!" Hermione stated as her eyes caught sight of their old nemesis. She pointed her wanted at it and shot off a stunning spell that had no effect. It merely bounced off the spider's body.

"Oh brilliant timing Hermione, any bright ideas?" Harry shot back as he backed up a few paces as the spider, with a few missing eyes, stared the two Order members down.

A grunt and a glint in the air caught both the young adult's attentions and as they looked over their shoulders before spinning on their heels, wands ready for an assault that didn't come. The de-hooded white robed figure of Ronald Weasley stood, the corner of his mouth twitching, as he stood engrossed at watching the Webspinner.

Having a sneaking suspicion something was up, not that he shouldn't have been turning his attention back towards the oversized foe anyway, Harry turned back in time to see the spider thrashing in pain as it wobbled around on a few legs. The other legs were busy trying to bat what looked like a green liquid from its remaining eyes that were smoking wildly. Within seconds the spider had rolled over completely and luckily out of the way of the door. What remained of its face wasn't much more than a gleaming skull and the smell of burned flesh that hung in the air.

"Tempered basilisk blood!" Hermione shrieked, half in annoyance, and half in awe. "Do you have any idea how much that costs, Ronald Weasley?"

"Aww Hermione, give me a break. I bloody hate spiders… it seemed like a good idea at the time."

"It was bloody brilliant," Harry stated before Hermione could scold his best friend any further. "Now let's get out of here."

Not having to ask twice, the Trio trudged up the stairs and out of the building to find that Neville and Luna had already made their way outside. Of course, the problem was that they weren't alone.

"A valiant, but ultimately futile effort, Potter," Voldemort stated. "You have something of mine, so why don't you just be a good little Gryffindor and hand it over?"

It wasn't the cliché statement that Voldemort had just thrown out, or the fact that he just now realized that amongst his other wounds and injuries that his scar was burning, or the chuckling Death Eaters, or the vampires, but the fact that Harry knew he had just damn well did all that for nothing.

To Be Continued…