A loud pop broke the silence as air was rapidly displaced by the sudden appearance of a figure dressed in black, a skull mask and hood covered his face throwing shadows over his features.
Draco paused a bit to catch his breath, he never did like apparating, the feeling was just too disturbing to ever get used too. He looked around at his location and noticed that he seemed to be at an old abandoned farm house. What looked to be an old wheat field long in disuse stood before him, and off in the distance a small house situated next to a large barn. Draco only sighed to himself as he started his trek across the field. His Mark still burning faintly.
What could the Dark Lord want now? Hasn't he caused enough damage to last through summer at the very least? Draco was thinking of the attack on Warminster that had taken place two weeks ago. Today was June 10th tomorrow was the last day of school for Hogwarts, this time next evening Draco would probably be nearing London on the Hogwarts express.
And of course I am called to a bloody meeting tonight, can't get a decent nights sleep around here, not allowed to just sit back and enjoy myself or my accomplishments now can I? Draco had until he felt the burn on his arm, been lazing around the Slytherin common room, enjoying the relaxing afterglow of having finish all his exams. He was rather proud of the work he had done, feeling quite confidant that he scored high marks in most of his classes. Perhaps even the highest in some of them. Now I wonder…Draco ran through a mental checklist of all his classmates, most of them were mediocre at best, but even he had to admit some of them were skilled at one subject at least.
Saint Potter probably beat me at Defense Against the Dark Arts, which with the situation is probably a good thing…
Granger probably got top marks in Transfiguration, she always was a smudge better than me in that class…
Herbology is the only class Longbottom would excel at, so he can have that grade…
Charms…hmm I might of beaten the Know-It-All in that one, unless Boot managed to pass me up the bloody bookworm…
Lets see, Arithmancy is a toss up, either Granger or myself.
Potions is also a coin flip, unless Snape decided to be a total arse and deduct points from Granger on account of her house or her hair, or her single mindedness towards education and excellence, or her tendency to consume oxygen...
Draco found himself frowning…he couldn't think of a single class he no doubt stole from his fellow classmates. All he could figure was maybe first or maybe second. With a good amount of them being second place. I must be loosing my touch…He thought as he made his way up to the farm house and proceeded to open the door. He felt his Dark Mark burn ever so painfully before fading away to nothing, he heard a click and the door opened.
Oh that's right, I've had my extra curricular's to deal with…
Draco steeped into the farm house and immediately knew he was in the right place. Gone were the usual signs of this being a home, furniture and house accessories, pictures on the wall. Even some of the walls had been removed. The entire house had been gutted and all that remained was a large open space with broken furniture pushed up against the walls. The Death Eaters were all gathered in their usual circle. Draco hoped someone had the foresight to make sure magic was holding the structure of the house together. He didn't like the idea of the house coming down on his head tonight.
Draco stepped inside and took his place in the circle, next to his father and Crabbe senior.
In the middle of the circle stood the Dark Lord, draped as always in his loose black robe. He wasn't saying anything just staring at everyone as he rotated on the spot. His snake Nagini was outside of the circle next to the fireplace, the only source of light for the entire house. Draco forced himself to stand still and silent.
Minutes passed, quietly broken only by the arrival of three more Death Eaters. Once the last man had arrived Voldemort finally stopped staring at his followers.
"My Death Eaters, how happy I am to see so many of you here tonight, no doubt you have been reviling in our recent victory against the Muggles of Warminster?" Several of the cloaked figures chuckled, Draco managed to put a smile on his face.
"Yes it was a rousing success…we…did loose a few of our member…Travers and Rowel…but they were weak and loosing them only makes us stronger. Particularly if they can manage to bring a few Aurors down with them." The strained laughter came again. The Dark Lord managed to put a perverse smile on his face, to Draco it looked like it had taken a large amount of effort on his part.
"Now if I recall, tonight is the last night that the students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry will spend in the castle before they go home for the summer holidays…Is that right young Draco, Severus?"
"Yes My Lord."
"Y-yes My Lord."
Voldemort smiled more easily this time.
"Good, and now my friends, Severus here has came up with a plan to give our young witches and wizards a going away present to fondly remember us as they leave for the summer…" Draco felt his insides turn to ice. What?
He saw a figure step out of the circle, indistinguishable from all the others, it wasn't until he spoke that Draco could tell this was his Potions Master.
"I believe that Dumbledore is starting to fear our latest tactics, he fears we are loosing our touch and now only attack on the whims of a madman." Severus stopped and bowed his head in reverence to the Dark Lord. Voldemort only waved his hands at him.
"But we know of your Lords genius…I…I proposed that we give the beloved Headmaster a going away present to be proud of. The destruction of Hogsmeade village."
Their were whispers of delight and awe in the group. Draco did his best to not appear sick. What the hell am I supposed to do? Snape is supposed to be the one I report to, he is supposed to be the expert here. He's the one planning the fucking attack! Draco felt his heart start to beat faster. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the Dark Lord's gaze turn to his. Like the rays of the sun he felt the burn on his face.
"How do these plans work for you Draco? Not an inconvenience to your shopping plans next year are they?" Several of his fellows laughed at the obvious mockery the Dark Lord was making of him. Snape turned to look at their Master.
"If we may continue My Lord?"
Draco saw what looked to be a frown on the Dark Lords face as he turned away from him.
"Do not stop me from having my fun Severus, I will do as I please."
"Yes, of course my Lord."
"…But yes, lets continue, we have a long night ahead of us. Let us hurry ahead to the festivities…"
Professor Snape turned to look at Draco before moving his gaze on to the others in the circle.
"Tonight all of us will mount an attack on Hogsmeade, we need to show the Ministry the Wizarding world and Albus Dumbledore especially that we are taking this war seriously. That we will not accept surrender, and that those who do not support the Dark Lord appose him. there are no innocents in this fight." Snape paused in his speech. His quiet voice barely above a whisper.
"Even those living quietly in a small little village."
Many of the Death Eaters cheered at that, Bellatrix being one of the loudest. Draco merely stood still not saying a word, and he noticed that he wasn't the only one. Are there others who think this idea is just plain mad? We're going to destroy the only pure wizarding village left in Britain.
The commotion came to a sudden stop when the Dark Lord raised his hand. Silence enveloped the group so fast it might have come from a spell.
"My friends…" He hissed.
"Tonight shall be an enjoyable night for many of you I'm sure. But we cannot forget our goals, to send a message of fear into the hears of those who might oppose us. To show our strength and tenacity."
"I regrettably will not be able to join in the fun, as I have other things to take care of…But I do hope you will enjoy yourselves in my stead hmm?" Voldemort then turned so abruptly that his cloak flew into the air, he strode out of the circle to the far wall of the gutted house,
"Now I want you to work in groups tonight, we cannot have any of the usual random attacks you are so fond of. Being so close to Hogwarts Dumbledore is likely to hear of our activities very quickly. Expect Aurors and members of the Order of the Phoenix to attack within minutes…" No one said a thing, it was so quiet Draco could hear his heart hammering against his chest.
"Now Bellatrix, Severus, Lucius, Antonin, You will be heading your individual teams. Stand here." Voldemort waved his hand lightly through the air gesturing to the floor in front of him. The Death Eaters moved as one, the circle breaking up immediately. Draco watched as his father, aunt, teacher, and then Dolohov all walked forward to take their places. The rest of the Death Eaters stood to the side and watched as the Dark Lord started to pace in front of his four most trusted Death Eaters.
"Hmm yes. Now I do not need to say what trust I am placing in you four for this fight. Success and failure will be solely on you four tonight…But I don't believe any of you will fail me will you?" He took a moment to glare at the four people in front of him. All but Professor Snape lowered their head to look at the floor. Voldemort then moved back to the wall to face all four of them, he then glanced at each one in turn.
"Hmm yes…Now Bellatrix we do all love your blood lust, I hope tonight will be fun for you?"
"Of course my Dark Lord." Draco didn't want to imagine the look of pleasure on his Aunt's face. He was having trouble keeping his breathing normal.
"And you Severus, our trusted spy in Hogwarts, and the Order itself. What do you think Dumbledore will have in store for us?" Snape voice rose out loud and clear, his gaze never left his master's.
"I believe Dumbledore will have wards alerting him to our presence as soon as we apparate inside the village. Thankfully since one cannot disapparate inside Hogwarts it will take some time for him and any of the teachers to meet us in Hogsmeade. However…" Severus shifted his weight from one foot to the other.
" Aurors stationed in the village, and any members of the Order of the Phoenix he might have in the area will be quick to respond and call for help. Particularly the Order members with their ability to send messages over a great distance. I expect we will face resistance almost immediately." Some slight murmuring could be heard in the crowds of Death Eaters at this. Draco was trying to not imagine a full squad of Order members and Aurors and Hit Wizards there to greet him with spells on their lips. He tried not to imagine what would happen if he was captured by the Ministry tonight.
"Well then I suggest we work fast then, hmm Severus? Make good use of your own specially created curses…" Voldemort then moved onto the last two.
"Lucius…dear Lucius. You have gone up and down in my favor these last few years. You were once one of my favorites, then you failed me in so many ways, but you have done some great things for me lately Lucius. Not least of which is giving me your son while he is still in Hogwarts…yes. You have earned your place here tonight Lucius. Do not disappoint me." Draco watched as his father lowered his head, but say nothing.
"And dear Antonin…Well what do we need say about your particular brand of justice. I hope to hear about the muggles and mudbloods you show your own particular curse too Antonin. I hope you make them scream." Dolohov chuckled darkly.
"Yes my Lord, of course."
"Now the rest of you…hmm, where shall I have you. I think it would be best for my captains shall we call them? To choose their own people. Go on. Quickly." The four Death Eaters turned and starting calling out names at once.
"Gibbon! Yaxley!" Called Bellatrix loudly, while Snape's call of " Rodolphus and Rabastan." was barely heard amongst the chatter.
"Nott, Selwyn, and Draco of course." Draco let out a sigh at having his father call on him. He stepped forward to join in his fathers group.
"Jugson and Goyle! Crabbe! You too Nott!" Dolohov it seemed to Draco was particularly eager to take the largest and most intimidating of the inner circle. The calling died down for a bit as the four leaders seemed to decide who else they wanted in their party.
"Mulciber and you too Avery." Bellatrix decided at last.
" Pettigrew, Rockwood." Came Snape's call again.
"Macnair and how about Amycus." said Lucius.
"Then I'll take Alecto." Growled Dolohov.
Draco quickly looked around at the group he was in. His father, himself Nott and Selwyn, Walden Mcnair and Amycus. He knew Nott of course, being the father of his fellow Slytherin Theo. And he thought he recognized Mcnair from somewhere else as well. Amycus and Selwyn though he had only heard of through rumors. Selwyn was known to target children in his torture. While Amycus like to catch his victims on fire and then use the cruciatus curse. Draco tried not to think of the horror he was about to be a part of.
What am I supposed to do?
By the time the last of the groups had been formed, they turned slowly to all face Voldemort.
"Well I bid you all…good luck." The smile on the Dark Lords face made Draco shiver noticeably. He prayed no one was paying attention to him.
"I look forward to reading the morning papers. And it goes without saying rewards will be given if you bring down certain people. Dumbledore and Harry Potter will be prime individuals. But any of those Order members will earn my favor, as would be some of those Ministry fools. Now get out." and with that the Death Eaters as one turned on the spot and disapparated.
Draco found himself in the middle a sea of black cloaks. The simultaneous apparation of so many people in such a small space create not a pop but a tremendous boom of sound and displaced air that not only rattled the windows of the nearby buildings but stole the air from Draco's lungs. Then before he could fully catch his breath again he heard dozens of voices shout out curses. Even behind his closed eyelids Draco saw flashes of color fly through the night sky. Explosions came from nearby buildings as Bellatrix's loud cackling was heard through the night. It didn't take long for the screams to start.
Hermione felt a yawn try and escape her mouth. Covering her face with her palm she tried to force it back, but was unsuccessful. Ron and Harry both looked up from their seats by the fire in the Gryffindor common room.
"Wow Hermione being the first one to let out a yawn, I guess that means we can call it a night then can't we?" Chuckled Ron. Harry gave Hermione a smile that lit up his face, and Hermione couldn't stop from smiling back.
"Oh fine if you boys are tired I guess we can head to bed. I just wanted to enjoy a peaceful night in the castle before we leave tomorrow."
"Yeah." Agreed Harry.
"To think we won't be back here until September. I never did like leaving Hogwarts." Ron and Hermione shared a look. They both knew how horrible Harry's relatives were but didn't know how they could do anything to help.
"Hey at least you only have to stay until your birthday right? I mean then you'll be seventeen and you can do whatever you want!" said Ron.
"That's right!" replied Hermione.
"I didn't even think of that Ron, brilliant! We can throw a big party for you at The Burrow Harry!"
"You guys don't have to go to all that trouble just for me-" started Harry before he was interrupted.
"-all that trouble for what?" Came Ginny's voice from the girl's staircase.
"Ginny!" Cried all three sixth years.
"That's my name!" Answered Ginny, causing the boys to laugh and Hermione to smile.
"We were just deciding we all need to throw Harry a big party for his seventeenth, it'll be both his coming of age party and his say goodbye to the Dursley's party." Ginny gave a smile as she bounded across the room towards the three Gryffindors. Stopping for the briefest second she looked at the three of them, before planting herself straight in Harry's lap.
"Oi! Do I really need to be seeing that just now?" Complained Ron.
"I think we need to throw a huge party for Harry." Said Ginny, ignoring Ron.
"We can have the twins help for the entertainment, and mum will want to bake the cake and make all the food. We can invite all our friends from Hogwarts, and the entire Order too!"
"It would be nice to have Remus and Tonks, and Mad-Eye there." Answered Harry.
"Just no Snape." Answered Ron. They all laughed.
"Or Malfoy." Added Harry after a moment. Hermione stopped laughing and the others at once all stared at her.
"Er, well. I mean. Well you can invite him if you want Hermione. I mean everyone is allowed to bring a guest of course-"
"-Harry! Its alright, I know you wouldn't want Draco at your birthday party, I know he wouldn't want to be there. Can you imagine Draco at Harry Potter's birthday party at The Burrow home of the Weasley's? With half the Order surrounding him, who most were Gryffindors?" Hermione smiled.
"I don't think I could think up a worse punishment for him if I tried." The Gryffindors started laughing again. And it was during this that Hermione remembered something she had nearly forgot. I'm going home tomorrow. And Draco's coming with me…We're going to spend the summer at my parents house. Me and Draco Malfoy together for the whole summer. Draco Malfoy spending his entire summer with Muggles. The entire idea made Hermione crack up laughing. Her hands moved to her sides as they started to ache and the others turned to look at her as she rocked back and forth in her chair.
"What's so funny Hermione?"
"Yeah spill it, what is it?"
Hermione couldn't answer for her laughing, her attempted sentences were spluttering all over the place as her body was wracked with spasms.
"I-Just…I-I-I was just…" Eventually Hermione managed to convey the general thought process she had been thinking. But it had taken so long most of the humor had been lost in the poor translation. Harry and Ron gave half hearted chuckles while Ginny just flashed her a smile.
"Hey all this tittering reminded me of why I came down here, you guys up for a midnight run to the kitchens?" Asked Ginny. All three sixth years quickly agreed and with a few seconds hesitation of whether they should take Harry's map 'yes.' and wondering if they needed the cloak 'no.' They were off.
Climbing out the hole in the wall that was the entrance to the kitchens, Hermione tried not to drop the small armload of pastries she had balanced against her chest.
"Hurry up you three, it may be our last night here, but with our luck Snape is standing next to the Fat Lady just waiting for straggling Gryffindor to come in after curfew." Hissed Hermione. Slowly Harry, Ron, and Ginny came out of the kitchens, all carrying various assortments of foods. The four Gryffindors walked away amidst the cheerful farewells of the school house elves.
"I love those little buggers, always so ready to please and hand out food."
"Ron, don't forget that they are conditioned to please, they are no better than slaves, brought up like their parents and their parents before them to-
"Give it a rest Hermione!."
"Stuff it Granger!" Everyone turned to look at Ginny who had just done a very decent impersonation of Draco Malfoy's patented drawl.
"That actually wasn't half bad Ginny." said Hermione with a smile on her face.
"Yeah if I didn't know it was Hermione mooning after ol' ferret face I would be wondering about you." replied Ron.
Hermione was just about to chastise Ron for insulting Draco needlessly when Harry hissed for everyone to be silent.
"Did you three see that?" Harry was pointing off towards a main corridor that lead towards the rest of the Castle.
"What did you see Harry?"
"I- I thought I saw-" But Harry didn't get to finish his sentence before they all saw a streak of white substance fly through the air down the corridor.
"What was that?" asked Ginny.
"It looked almost like a ghost." answered Ron perplexed.
"It wasn't a ghost." Said Harry.
"It was a Patronus!" answered Hermione. No one said anything.
"It was a Patronus, and I think it was sending a message, you know like the Order does."
"You mean the order just sent someone a message?"
"And it must be important if they sent two of them."
"Three." Said Harry as he pointed again towards the far wall where another bit of flying silvery mist had just disappeared around the corner.
"I think this is important." Harry said. "If Dumbledore is getting three messages at once at this time of night, then its something big. Come on!"
The four Gryffindors then dropped their assortments of late night snacks and all took off running down the corridor, all traces of laughter and exhaustion suddenly gone.
Hermione quickly fell behind her two friends, as their longer stride and quidditch strengthened muscles pushed them ahead. Rounding the corner they sped down the hallway. Hermione realized that they seemed to be heading to the teachers lounge just off from the Great Hall.
The four Gryffindor's ran through the dark deserted hallways of Hogwarts, the only sounds were their heavy footfalls against the stone floor, echoing all around them.
They quickly found themselves in the main hallway off from the Great Hall, the door to the teacher's lounge just in sight.
Slowing down the four of them came to a stop just before the door and Harry was just about to open the door when they heard a loud shrill voice just a few meters away that made them all jump.
"What are you three doing here?" Before them stood Professor McGonagall not dressed for bed as one would expect so late at night. The four students stopped and were about to blurt out excuses when the Gryffindor Matron sighed and shook her head.
"Please, like it needs to be asked, why is it always you three that show up at times like this?" she asked, gesturing to the three oldest students.
"Though I see you've only brought miss Weasley here with you this time instead of half the sixth year Gryffindors, thank Merlin for small favors."
"Professor? What is going on we saw three Patronus charms coming this way-
"-And we thought someone must be sending a message to Dumbledore and-
"-That is must be something important if he is getting three urgent messages right after another -
"- so we came to investigate." finished Ginny. McGonagall only stared at the three of them before sighing once again.
"You three follow me, miss Weasley you need to go to bed this instant."
"Professor that isn't going to happe-
"-Now miss Weasley!"
"No!" Ginny fixed her head of house with a glare.
"My entire family is in the Order Professor, most of my friends are old enough to fight. I myself have fought Death Eaters, I am not going to go back to bed just because you might threaten me with detention." Hermione didn't know if she should feel awe that Ginny had stood up to their stern head of house so aggressively, or berate her for such disrespectful treatment. Deciding to think about it later she thought it best to stay focused on the situation at hand.
"Very well, follow me quickly now, we have wasted enough time as it is."
"Professor what is going on exactly? What happened?"
McGonagall didn't say anything as the five of them moved through the same hallways Hermione had just been sprinting through seconds ago.
"Hogsmeade village is under attack by Death Eaters." Hermione and Ginny gasped, Ron let out a small curse. Harry was mainly silent, though Hermione could feel his anger radiating off him in waves of heat.
" We only just found out from some of the patrols we have stationed in the village. Dumbledore has left to rouse the rest of the Order and I am here to get the teachers and whatever students are old enough to join us in defending the village."
"Why would they attack the village that doesn't make sense? You-Know-Who is all about magical supremecy, how does that fit with attacking a magical community?" Asked Ron in a surprising burst of insight.
"Dumbledore believes that Voldemort is no longer the intelligent brillant man he once was long ago, his experiments, death and renewal seem to have affected his thinking his rationalities.
"You think he's insane? I mean literally insane?"
"Yes progressively so, it is possible he is no longer able to perceive reality in the same way most of us are. We are not just dealing with a dangerous dark wizard who wants to rule over muggleborns, but a man so far removed from reality he has lost sight of his own goals."
"An attack on a wizarding village would only cause fear and hate in the community, something like that isn't cohesive to his goals of united the magical people toegether. This new style of his is more dangerous then ever, with any luck his own madness will work in our favor by causing doubt amongst his followers."
"You think he might end up destroying himself Professor?" Harry asked. Hermione tried to detect any underlying note of hope or panic or desperation in his voice. But the anger Harry was keeping inside him was all she could decipher.
"We can only hope Mr. Potter, we can only hope."
Their conversation had brought them all the way to the school entrance where Hermione notice Professor Filtwick and Sprout were standing at the doors, along with Victor the Arithmancy Professor, and Burbage the Muggle Studies Professor. Along with the heads of houses were a few students from seventh year.
"I see you brought your favorites Minerva." Squeaked Flitwick.
"Brought is the wrong term Filius, they merely showed up as I was coming here to meet you, and like any true Gryffindor would not say no to doing the right thing." McGonagall glanced over at Ginny.
"No matter the age."
"Well I certainly disagree that anyone underage should be allowed to participate in this fight." began the Charms Professor.
"But Voldemort would come for each and everyone of them eventually, and we do not have time. Where is Albus?"
"Getting some help, we need to proceed to the village quickly, Hagrid should already be there, have you called the carriages Pamona?"
"Of course." Answered the head of Hufflepuff, usually joyful and bright, she had a strange pallor to her face Hermione didn't like.
"They let us go."
Draco felt lost and confused in all the chaos. Almost as soon as people's feet were on the ground they were casting curse after curse. Draco managed to appear as if he was joining in by catching a lone tree on fire, an act Crabbe senior seemed to enjoy as he seemed to be doing nothing more than starting random fires throughout the village. Draco didn't know what to do. He watched as a family ran screaming from their house only to be cursed before they made it across the road. He watched as screaming Death Eaters dueled with a few brave individuals trying to defend their home.
This isn't right! his mind screamed at him. Nothing about this made any sense to Draco. Things seemed to get even worse as the minutes wore on. Draco decided his best course of action was to leave, turning around he quickly walked away from the main attack group and tried to get lost in the hills and small groupings of houses. He quickly came around a bend and after hoping over a small fence found himself near the back wall of the Three Broom Sticks. Quickly following the wall towards the main road Draco was about to head off towards the direction of the Shrieking Shack when he heard the sound of a door flying open and colliding with the wall. Out of the Three Broom Sticks came Madam Rosmerta, the famous owner of the bar. Draco watched as she marched off wand in hand with a few odd looking people behind her. Obviously patrons from the bar.
"Damn Death Eaters think they can take our village from us, lets teach them a thing or two gents!" Her followers perhaps filled with pride, or as Draco guesses it more than a few pints of alcohol, clumsily but bravely followed her as she ran off towards the battle.
"This is insane." said Draco to himself. "This is just stupid, what is the point of this?" Draco looked on after the small group of half drunk freedom fighters that were no doubt going off to their deaths and something switched on with Draco. He felt compelled to do something. He knew as a Death Eater he should be going off to kill them, or at least set their hair on fire or something sinister like that. As a Slytherin he should just apparate out of the place, as nothing good could come of him staying around longer. But another part of him wanted to go out and do something productive. Nothing so far fetched as to attack his fellow Dark Wizards, but perhaps something a bit more subtle.
"I am something of a spy for the Order...maybe there is something I can do." Draco took a few deep breaths to calm himself before running off in the direction he saw the Three Broom Sticks occupants go. It wasn't long until the distant sounds of spells being cast and minor explosions became much louder. Coming around a corner of a house Draco saw that it seemed the Ministry or perhaps the Order had finally arrived as he saw several wizards in purple robes and blue robes dueling the skull masked ones in black.
Draco spied what looked to be an innocent villager making an escape from behind a burning building. Draco pulled his wand out.
"Stupify!" A red bolt shot out of the end of his wand and hit the man as he was running. The force of the spell knocked him off his feet and sent him flying a few feet in the air only to come crashing to the ground in a small heap. Draco spared him barely more then a glance before running off and stunning another person, and then another.
Maybe I can't do anything to protect these people directly, but I can at least stun them and hopefully they'll be assumed dead by the others ...it was difficult work dodging the duels and finding lone targets to stun. Once or twice an Auror or Hit wizard thought him to be a good target and shot a few stunning spells, or rope charms his way. It was only with his quick reflexes that he was able to dodge them.
Draco was lining up his next target when he felt himself being shoved aside. Another Death Eater had pushed past him as he too raised his wand at the white hair man defending his home.
"Sectumsempra!" The man hissed loudly. Draco expected to see the man double over in pain or be cast in the bright light of the curse, but nearly as soon as the Death Eater had cast his spell, another dark robed follower had stumbled into the path of the spell, and it was him who shouted out in horrific pain.
"Ah! My arm! ARGGH! YOu- my -" Draco felt his knee's go weak when he saw the man clutch the remains his arm which had been severed at the elbow. Dark ribbons of blood were gushing out of the thorn limb and the man quickly fell to his knee's shrieking.
"Stupid fool." Hissed the caster, causing Draco to look up in surprise. He couldn't quite tell with the hood up, but the voice sounded quite similar to...
"Snape you- you cut off my arm." cried the wounded Death Eater.
"You shouldn't of gotten in my way Yaxly, you should of known to look where you were going." Snape said, his voice as cold as ever.
"Help me, please! stop the- the-bleed-the pain, my arm..."
"I don't think so Yaxley, you see magic cannot reattach something that has been severed by my curse, it wouldn't be practical you understand."
"Please..." Yaxley moaned as his body started to lower to the ground of its own accord.
"Good-bye Yaxley..." Draco watched as Snape raised his wand once more. A cold chill spread throughout his body.
"Avada Kedavra." A burst of green light lit Yaxley's weakened body up before receding and Yaxley fully crumpled into the ground. Draco stood still as if stunned himself. Snape quickly turned and as if knowing he was there turned to look at him.
"Two more lessons for you to learn Draco, one do not be so careless. and two, there is no point in making another person suffer, it only creates weakness and exploitability. Make your actions quick and to the point." Snape then walked past him an disappeared in the chaos of the battle. Draco felt his body go weak and he nearly fell to the ground. he dared not look at Yaxley's dead body, he already felt as if he was going to be sick. He then decided to take the words to heart and started once again to run off in the direction of the castle.
I can't do this...it's too much.
Ripping off his death eater's mask Draco threw it down as he ran past the dueling Aurors and Death Eaters, past the Hit Wizards and villagers. He ran until he was near the front of the small hamlet, heading off on the main road to Hogwarts. He then stopped, in front of the entrance were four school carriages stopped end to end as a sort of barricade. The doors opened as he ducked behind an overturned vending stall, and out came to his surprise several members of Hogwarts staff. Professors McGonagall, Flitwick and Sprout among a few others, he even noticed what looked to be students and...
Of course! Draco saw them. Potter, Weasley and Gr-Hermione.
"What are they doing here!" But he knew of course. The school and therefore Dumbledore and the entire Order must know of the attack. Which means reinforcements were on their way if not there already. And of course those three would join in the defense. Draco didn't know if he found their bravery commendable or stupid, but as now was not the time to think of such things Draco pushed the thoughts aside. Now was the time to take action. And the action Draco wanted to take was divert his ideas to someone else.
"What the fuck am I supposed to do." he hissed to himself. Draco watched as his teachers and classmates entered the fray. Potter seemed to come alive as he ducked and dodged around spells casting shield charms and stunning spells with a level of skill even Draco had to admit (at least to himself) was very good. Weasley was less fluid but his aim seemed to be pretty good and more then a few times he seemed to use his large frame to his advantage by grabbing a distracted Death Eater around the neck and stunning them at point blank range. Hermione was something else entirely Draco noted. She was fluid and determined, the look on her face was the same she had when she was studying or paying attention to a difficult lesson. She's focused. He thought to himself.
She cast a variety of spells at her targets, not just stunning spells like the two men, but a whole cacophony of defensive and offensive spells. Draco was just about to get up and move to another location when he heard a roar that reminded him not just a little of watch a Dragon try and devour something from his fourth year. Coming out of the darkness like a freight train was something large and loud, its footsteps were shaking the ground like small earthquakes.
" YER BUNCH O' COWARDS!" Charging through the crowd of wizards was none other than Hagrid, using his large frame to steam roll through many of the combatants. Draco watched in amazement his jaw nearly hanging open as several spells seemed to just bounce off of Hagrid's large bulk, due no doubt to the giant blood he had in him. Forgoing any sort of magical attack, Hagrid started batting Death Eaters down like large flies. One brave Death Eater snuck around the half giant and cast a killing curse at the back of his head. The bright flash illuminated the night for a brief moment and Draco saw the large man fall to his knee's. Hagrid...
Suddenly though he was back on his feet, he turned around and with a roar slammed his closed fisted hands together across the dark wizards head, there was a sound like crumbling metal and the man collapsed, his head oddly shaped. Hagrid got to his feet shakily, his massive body swaying dangerously from side to side. And suddenly he took off again slamming his way through any and everything that was in his path, scattering wizards around like rag doll toys. This is insane it's completely fucked up. Deciding that he had enough Draco bolted from his hiding place and ran across the battle strewn street, he made it across with only a few casting of a shield charm, and was about to make all haste when a robed figure stepped in front of him. The lateness of the night didn't provide enough light for him to tell who his attacker might be, but he got a glint of long hair and slender body as a spell was cast his way, so he assumed female. Casting a quick shield charm Draco sent a stupify towards his attacker who blocked instinctively and sent a bolt of blue light towards him. Back and forth the two dueled each other as neither one of them gave ground.
Draco though was tired, and he knew the longer he participated in this battle the more he would be worn down and the greater chance he risked of being arrested or killed. Dodging his attacker again Draco turned and ran before another spell was cast. He turned and ran around the front of the building he was next too and took off for the carriages he had seen blocking the road. Draco had just decided to sneak his way through the front of the carriages where no animals but a spell kept them traveling when he stopped at the sight of what looked to be winged horses barring his path.
"Son of a bitch, the stupid oaf had to be telling me something important in his sodding class didn't he." For Draco now remembered last year how Hagrid had explained to his class about Thestrals, the winged horses who pulled the carriages' and were only visible to a select few unlucky individuals. Draco now saw the genius in the blockade idea, it looked like it would only divert traffic through the openings between the black cars, but if one was able to see the animals strapped together they would then see that the entire road from house to house was blocked from escaping.
Draco turned around and was blasted back when a spell drifted just past where his shoulder had been and exploded against the nearest carriages. He fell to the ground and not wanting to be defeated or killed so easily quickly forced himself up to his feet, the motion threw his hood off his face and exposed his face to the cold night air. Draco raised his wand and was about to try and stun his female attacker when she of all things lowered her wand.
"Draco?" Hermione said.
"What are you doing here!" she asked.
"I could be asking you the same question!" Roared Draco.
"You almost took my head off with that damn spell."
"I thought you were a Death Eater!" She yelled back.
"I am a Death Eater Granger! See the black robes! Check out the tattoo! Remember my last name!" Draco had had enough of this night he was done, he nearly threw his wand on the ground in frustration.
"I am so sick of this, I don't want to do this anymore! I can't, this is just...I'm done!" Hermione walked closer to him and reached out a hand to touch his shoulder. Draco roughly pushed it away.
"Don't even think of comforting me Granger, my pride is already wounded enough without-
"-Shut up Draco! Come on, lets get out of here." And out of all the things that had surprised Draco tonight the most surprising was that Hermione Granger just took hold of his hand like it was nothing and started to lead him out of the town, as if they were on a date and not in the midst of a war.
Hermione couldn't believe the level of ferocity and carnage that Hogsmeade was enveloped in. She had fought Death Eaters in the Department of Mysteries, but this was something else. There was no coordination to this attack only destruction and death. Hermione had watched as her teachers battle just as ferociously as the wizards they fought against. She watched little Professor Flitwick levitate a Death Eater forty feet in the air and drop him. She watched her mentor Professor McGonagall send another man flying through the window of a house. She tried to fight with the same level of determination, the same zeal. But all she could help thinking about was how pointless all this was, how it didn't even make sense from a Death Eaters perspective.
Hermione felt almost relieved when she saw that her attacker had been Draco after all. She didn't relish the thought of having to attack another person, or the thought that she might have to kill to protect herself. And though he would never admit it, Hermione saw the same feelings in Draco's eyes, she saw the fear and the uncertainty in his own eyes that she felt. The only difference was Hermione's bravery was keeping her from being overwhelmed, while Draco was near panicking. But what kept Hermione calm was the same thing that made her stay and fight. Duty. I don't want to be here anymore, I want to help...but I'm tired of fighting, I'm tired of the pointlessness...the pain and suffering. But Harry and Ron and Ginny, Professors McGonagall, Flitwick, Sprout, Hagrid...I can't leave them to fight while I go and hide...Draco on the other hand seemed like he had been trying to escape all along, and that gave her an idea. an escape, a way out.
Hermione lead him past some of the houses that were thankfully still in one piece, leading him down alleyways and through closed back yards that were untouched by the fight going on only yards away. Around the back towards a small patch of tree's she took him hand in hand, until the sounds of the battle were so faint they could barely hear them.
Hermione stopped and before she could rethink her idea turned suddenly and enveloped Draco in a hug, wrapping her arms around his neck and holding as tight as she could.
"-I'm so glad you're alright Draco." For a second nothing happened, then Draco's arms wrapped themselves around her as well.
"I'm glad I'm ok too Hermione." Hermione chuckled, and then smiled at the use of her given name, something he rarely did. They stayed like that for a bit, neither of them moving, just taking solace in each others company.
"What are we going to do?" She asked.
"We...?" Hermione smiled into his neck, it felt very warm against the cold night air.
"Of course Draco, we're in this together." Hermione moved back away from him, her arms now held loosely against his shoulders as she leaned back to look him in the eye.
"I-I wont walk away from you Draco. I won't leave you. If you don't want me too."
She watched as Draco swallowed, his eyes darting all around her face as several things passed through it.
"I-I...I don't know what I want anymore, I don't know where I belong, or what I should do. I'm lost..." he admitted, his face cast down to stare at the ground.
"I wouldn't expect anything less from you Draco, these last few months must have been beyond overwhelming for you."
Draco said nothing.
"So why don't you let me help you, I want to help you Draco."
"Why?" And that was the question, wasn't it?
"Because I care about you." Hermione admitted, not lowering her gaze but keeping it on his face. Draco raised his eyes and caught her's again.
"Still think we're star crossed lovers destined to be together because of the marks on our chests?" Draco asked, but with much less of a sneer in his voice as the time before.
"I don't know...But I don't think it matters why I care, just that I do." They were both silent after this.
The battle seemed to be growing fainter and fainter as they sat there, just standing next to each other. Both of them gaining some measure of strength from the other. Hermione was about to say something again when she heard a branch snapping in the night. As one they both turned and lifted their wands in the direction it came from. Like a ghost a Death Eater emerged from the shadows, his mask was still in place hiding his features and his wand was raised pointed at the two of them. He reached up with his free hand and removed the mask from his face, he threw his hood back and his mask to the ground at the same time. Releasing his long blonde hair down past his shoulders. The regal face of Lucius Malfoy stared over at the two teenagers across from him.
"Hello Miss Granger, Draco." He nodded to them both as he addressed them. "Wonderful evening we are having tonight, isn't it?"
A/N: hello everyone! Sorry it has been so long, but half the reason is because I had a lot to tell in this chapter, More then I expected as I had to separate it into two parts. But here you go a nice long chapter to hopefully make you less angry that its been months since my last update. I hope you all enjoy it, please leave me a review and let me know what you think.