"In tragedy every moment is eternity; in comedy eternity is a moment."
Christopher Fry

Chapter 1 Hell's Fire

The thunder began rolling.

Only it wasn't thunder.

"Everybody down!"

His eyes turned to the Forbidden Forest, peering into it's dark depths.

His wand arm fell limply to his side, blue orb's widening in horror at what they saw.

Deep in the woods, far beneath it's skeletal boughs, death itself was emerging from twilight's shadows.

"Get down now!"

Harry's piercing cry tore through the night, ripping hope from his panicked heart.

His surrogate brother whorled in place, his jade eyes, clouded with misery, were sweeping the small force he himself stood within.

They had fought their way across the grounds, together. He and Fred had been on the periphery, protecting the groups interior as Hermione cast protective wards in their wake. Ginny and Luna hurled curses in every conceivable direction, dropping those who dared confront them, and Ron and Neville had stood side by side with Harry, maintaining the frontal assault.

Until Neville had fallen...

Ron had dropped besides him, healing potions in hand, and George had rushed to Harry's side, his feet crunching upon the leaf-strewn ground as his little brother went to work.

Bonded by wands in the midst of battle, they had all stood there, together, at the threshold of the Forbidden Forest.

It was then that Harry had sounded his final warning.

The sounds of battle faltered, and the palpable silence, so out of place in the fury of war, proved that he was not alone in feeling the reverberations in the blood soaked soil.

The palpitations drew their gazes far beneath the leering boughs, and trepidation shook them to their very cores.

The warnings had been uttered, Harry himself had warned them as they had poured from the castle, willingly following him into battle, but they had not understood.

Human nature does not like to dwell upon the atrocities that can befall it. Perhaps that was why Harry's blunt warnings had fallen upon their deaf ears. But until they saw what the foreboding tales heralded, none of them had truly understood. He knew this to be true as the reddened tendrils reflected in his twin's eyes.

They had not understood. Not until they saw the fiery inferno billowing out from the forest, hurtling towards them.

No amount of ignorance, denial, or immortal illusions could save them now.

For Voldemort had succeeded in summoning the fires of hell to earth.

It was upon them in the blink of an eye.

There was no time to do anything after that.

No time to move.

No time to think.

No time to react.

It was the last sight that many of them who stood there, bathed in the collective light of spell fire, would behold. Though he did not, could not, know at that time.

Instead his eyes were fixated on the ungodly sight before him. Never once did it occur to him that his time upon this plane of existence could be at an end, not even as the wave of fire careened closer.

The inferno surged forth, rumbling as if freight trains were in tow, wrenching limbs from their trunks, the wooden branches disappearing as the blaze swallowed them whole, concealing them within the monstrosity's gaping mouth.

Billows of dark smoke hung eerily behind, suspended by ghostly branches of trees now reduced to ash.

An eternity encompassing the span of mere seconds passed, and the powerful heat smashed against him.

Harry's warning had been for naught, for there had been no time to move. Only the shelter of the forest tree line would shelter them from the initial onslaught, while those battling in the open would be completely exposed.

Despite the suddenness, despite the fact that he had been unable to do more than blink in fear, there had somehow been time for the image of the inferno to eternally sear itself upon his memory, as nothing else ever had.

Or ever would...

He took it all in.

The crinkling sound of disintegrating leaves pulled his eyes upwards, the canopy above him was being reduced to ash, raining black snow eerily down as the heat stretched out above him. The darkened flakes scattered chaotically, blanketing the world with the devil's smothering hand, filling the lungs of the living.

He choked, gasping for air robbed of Oxygen, his eyes tearing and flesh burning.

He caught one last sight of the distant, ever darkening sky beyond the burning leaves, and his reddening eyes held on to the fleeting image of the dim stars, caught in a silent plea to God.

Please hear us...

God did not hear.

A piercing scream ripped the final shred of hope from him. His resolve for survival, and the resolve of those who stood strong with him, shattered. They remained rooted in place, figurines in a sadistic snow globe raining black ice, the musical accompaniment his sister's soul shattering cry.

In awestruck horror he watched the black snow catch above him, frozen in mid-air as the first smoldering shock wave hit where they stood. The eyes of those around him were riveted upon the same ghastly sight.

It was a sight too demoralizing for any human to behold, yet not a soul closed their eyes when it was their last right.

The darkened snow flakes were flung forcefully away from the forest, his body accompanying their violent flight.

The world upended, and there was Hermione in flight next to him, her arms outstretched, robes ablaze. She looked to be a fiery angel coasting upon a gentle breeze, not a fragile human flailing for life against a scalding torrent.

Hogwarts ruined grounds blurred before him, as his body twisted upon the shockwave. Fighters for both sides, students and Death Eaters, teachers and townsfolk, were falling before his very eyes, their still alive bodies buried beneath the wake of uplifted dirt and gravel riding upon the fireball Voldemort had unleashed.

Those who were not buried in the shockwave of debris dropped beneath the wave itself, their withering bodies consumed by flames in an instant that spanned eternity. It was like watching creation in reverse. For God could plaster skin artfully upon bone, and he could peel it away in fleshy, disintegrating layers.

Hermione's wings were no longer working.

She was falling, tumbling on the air current, debarking unexpectedly from their turbulent flight.

The realization sent his stomach lurching sickeningly.

Brown hair dropped down to lay concealed beneath a layer of twigs and charred remains of other humans, ones he had once known, ones who he would never again find.

The wave of fire whipped her last strand out of sight.

It was only then that he realized that her hand still lay clutched tightly within his own. He had grabbed her mid-flight instinctively, and now her severed fingers lay within the confines of his own palm, her engagement ring reflecting the fire mockingly.

It was not until that instant, that he realized that he was going to die.

The world's slow motion reverie ended, sending his vision into a swirling blur of colors and hell.

The world he knew was gone.

Now it was time for the real horror to begin.