Alright so…yeah it has been umm a while since I updated haha, almost two years. To anyone who still cares, sorry about that. I can't guarantee updating often or anything but I have missed writing. I don't really have an excuse but I am going to try to start writing again, plus it will bug me to no end if I never finish this story. I know most of the people who started reading this story a couple years ago won't still be reading it but it will still bug me, I always finish what I start. So if any of you are still there, thanks for your patience, and to new readers…welcome!
Chapter 19: The New Year
Julia looked around her in a panic. Where was everyone? It was impossible to hear over the screaming of the wind and the thunder. Faint echoes of cries drifted toward her from far away. She couldn't see anything. It was dark, the field only momentarily lit up by flashes of lightning. She stumbled forward, drenched, trying to see. She desperately threw up a shield to block the downpour of rain, and simultaneously tripped over something. Regaining her balance, she looked down and screamed. Bodies were everywhere, their eyes still open, staring at her accusingly. This was her fault.
She jerked awake, covered in sweat, panting. Tears ran down her face. She gasped for air, then stumbled out of her bed and ran to her window. Her bedroom door creaked open and the shadows moved. She jumped and spun around, and almost sobbed with relief when she saw Aaron closing the door behind him with a concerned look on his face. His eyebrows rose in surprise when he saw her expression.
"What-?" Was all he had time to get out before she was in his arms, clutching at him for dear life. He gently picked her up and brought her to her bed.
"A vision," she explained, hiding her face in his chest. He stroked her hair understandingly.
"Whatever it was, we can change it. It won't happen." He vowed. "You're safe."
She shook her head slowly and raised it so she could look at him. "Everyone was dead…" she whispered, the dread evident in her voice.
"It won't happen!" Aaron rumbled angrily. He felt abruptly furious at the situation. They were only 16. The war had taken over their lives. They spent their spare moments training to defeat a Dark Lord, and every other minute was spent in class, taking tests, and doing homework. It was absurd. This was not the life they should be living. His girlfriend sat before him, upset, and he wouldn't stand for it. "This will end soon." He declared. "I hate what this is doing to you."
Julia made herself comfortable against his side. "Me too." She said, exhausted. She had been having these nightmares ever since the new year had begun. She knew it meant something big was coming, and soon. She let her eyes drift shut sleepily. With Aaron by her side, she instantly felt more at ease. The more time that passed, the more she felt a growing sense that it was imperative the Octet stay together at all times. She jerked herself from her thoughts when she realized Aaron was saying something.
"What?" she asked. Aaron sighed at the distracted look on her face.
"I said from now on, I'm sleeping in here with you."
She wanted to argue with him that the others would think it improper, but she was exhausted and it felt so good to have him with her. Maxx and Mel did it, why shouldn't they? And before she could give an answer, her body rebelled against her mind, and fell into a deep sleep.
The next morning she felt much better. With Aaron holding her tightly through the night, she slept soundly and had no more nightmares.
"Are you okay?" Hermione asked her softly on their walk to the Great Hall for breakfast.
"More visions," Julia explained, making a face. "It's coming soon." Hermione nodded in understanding.
They had been training hard the last couple of months. It was early April, and they had a strict routine. Morning meditation with each other, which had turned into more of a morning ritual than an exercise, came first. Then an hour of physical training with Argyros. After that came regular classes, except on weekends, when they had free time. After classes they had magical training with Kenna. The eight teenagers had reached their full capacity in power, but had been training on how to use it. Kenna told them that normally wizards took their whole life become so adept at controlling their magic, molding it to let them do what they want with it, but as special mages, it came naturally to them. Each of them had their own intuition to guide them on how to use the elements to their greatest advantage. The only thing she had to teach them was fine tuning their control, and battle tactics. Argyros was very satisfied with their physical capabilities, and they were each confident with their weapon of choice. All in all, their time with their teachers was coming to an end, and so was their sixth year.
The day passed by quickly, as had the previous days. The young mages were feeling the stress of the war and their training and drifted through the days as if in a haze. Sleep, eat, train, learn, and then do it all over again.
At night, they sat around in their common room, paired off and staring into space. This is the state Dumbledore found them in when he firecalled them after magical training. His blue eyes looked sadly at the teens. "How are you all doing?" he asked kindly.
Harry looked up dully. "Fine, professor."
Dumbledore sighed. "I know the burden you all carry is heavy. I have a surprise, something I'd hoped might cheer you up. Would you mind meeting me in my office?"
They nodded their heads and stood. Mel and Maxx hummed a little, trying to lift everyone's spirits. They hadn't used their Singing powers in so long, they'd almost forgotten then.
"How silly are we," Mel whispered to Maxx as she noticed the other six brighten up considerably. "We need to keep ourselves optimistic, and use every resource we can. Our Songs are a source of strength for us and for everyone else. We shouldn't let ourselves get depressed like this." Maxx nodded, a small spark coming back into his eyes.
They made their way up to Dumbledore's tower, gave the password, and climbed the stairs, wondering what he could possibly have in store for them next. The same old routine was getting boring. After all, they were teenagers and they needed change in their life.
They opened the door and Harry and Hermione gaped at what they saw, unable to believe it.
Hermione rushed forward to attack the stranger standing in the circular office with a goofy grin on his face. "Ron!" she cried, wrapping her arms around him. His long, lanky arms came up around her and his grin threatened to split his face.
"Hey there, 'Mione," he said softly. Harry came up to him with a shit-eating grin on his face and slapped his best friend heartily on the back.
"Welcome back mate!" he told the redhead.
Dumbledore sat at his desk and smiled. "Mister Weasley here is back from Romania, the school year there ends early."
"Oh Ron," Hermione reluctantly let go so he could breathe and wiped the tears from her face. "Why didn't you tell us?"
"Because I wanted to surprise you," He laughed and motioned towards the rest of the group. "How about some introductions? I heard a lot has been happening. All this adventure without me?" He mock pouted.
"Relax, we saved the best for you," Harry joked. "Ron, this is Aaron, Julia, Maxx, Mel, and of course you know Blaise and Draco already." He pointed to each person as he said their names. They each grinned at him, while Blaise and Draco smirked.
"Weasel," Draco swaggered forward to shake the redhead's hand. "Nice to see you again."
Ron eyed him for a moment and then stepped forward to take the offered hand. "Never thought I'd hear that from you, Malfoy." Their voices held no malice in them, however, and Harry relaxed.
"Let's all sit down." He suggested. He waved a hand and chairs appeared.
They spent the next few hours talking. Ron's return had been a very welcome surprise. Dumbledore sat back and watched as new friendships were made and old friendships renewed, and saw the glimmer of happiness return to each of his student's eyes again. He sat back with a contented sigh.
It turned out Ron had finished school a bit early in order to come back and help prepare for the war. His parents weren't happy about it, as they had hoped to keep him away from the coming violence, but as he was to turn 17 and become an adult wizard soon, they couldn't keep him from coming back to help protect his family.
"Plus," Ron added, grinning mischievously, "I couldn't let you have all the fun without me."
After Ron's return they made sure to put aside more time for themselves to relax and have fun. Ron's enthusiasm infected everyone else and he made quick friends with the four new students.
The month of April passed by quickly, but with the eight students in much better spirits. Training with Argyros and Kenna was to be finished by the start of May, and while that saddened them, they were eager to take their exams and begin summer.
One day towards the end of April, the day dawned clear and warm. The students were all out on the grounds of Hogwarts. Julia had had no nightmares and there had been no attacks since the end of last year. It was a Sunday, and they had two more days of training left before their final goodbye with their elven professors. They had finished their homework and Ron was at home with the Weasley family, minus Ginny who was still at Hogwarts.
The Octet was sprawled happily under the shade of the Whomping Willow. With Harry there, the tree was content, waving its strange arms with the sway of the breeze. The sun shined brightly down on them.
Harry smiled and reached over to take Draco's hand. The blonde raised his head from the soft grass and smiled back. The other pairs lay in similar positions. Mel lay with her head in Maxx's lap, and his back sat against the support of the tree. Julia and Aaron were trying to learn how to play chess, and Hermione was studying for end of the year exams. Blaise was trying to distract her and was about to give up when she smiled and put the book down.
"It's too nice to study." She pecked him on the cheek and laid down. The others lifted their heads to stare in astonishment.
"Oh come on," she said, exasperated. "Even I can admit that I need a break every now and again."
"But Hermione," Draco exclaimed dramatically, "It's almost time for finals!" He put his hand over his heart and tried to look panicked. Everyone else laughed when Hermione glared at him.
"I can't believe how nice it is," Harry commented out of the blue, pulling Draco back to the ground and out of the way of Hermione's glare. "It's like the world decided everyone needed a little sunshine."
Everyone murmured in agreement and it was silent again. Suddenly a loud, resounding boom sounded from within the forest.
They all jumped up faster than the human eye could see. "What was that?" Harry asked, a feeling of dread settling heavily in his stomach.
Julia's eyes rolled into the back of her head and Aaron caught her before she fell to the ground. He looked up, panicked. "What's happening?" Dark clouds began to roll across the sky and they all looked at Mel. She shook her head slowly.
"That's not me."
"I'm going to find Dumbledore. Draco come with me." Harry said firmly, unwilling to let his boyfriend out of his sight if there was danger. Draco glanced at him, irritated, and was about to respond when Julia sat up with a gasp.
"No!" she said desperately, remembering her vivid dreams from the beginning of the year. "No, whatever happens, we MUST stay together. Do you understand? It is the key. We mustn't separate."
The others recognized the panic in her eyes and agreed. "What do we do?" Maxx's question was punctuated by another boom, followed by several cracks. Their eyes widened.
"Those sounded like…" Mel began.
"But that's impossible, Apparition is impossible within Hogwarts grounds…" Hermione trailed off uncertainly.
Harry's mouth set in a grim line. "Before we panic, let's find Dumbledore. It could be nothing, just a forest skirmish between centaurs." He looked around and they gathered their things quickly. The other students hadn't noticed anything. Draco noticed too.
"Why haven't they noticed anything?" He wondered as they packed up and set out for the castle.
"Our hearing is better than theirs, remember they are only human." Harry reminded him. "Come on, let's hurry."
They had taken only a few steps when the rain began to fall. This the other students, and looked puzzled at the abrupt change in weather.
"Oh no," Mel whispered. "There's something coming."
"How do you know?" Maxx pulled her closer to his side, looking around nervously.
"This weather is not normal. It isn't being caused by another person, the earth is just upset. Something is changing."
"The balance is changing." Mel and Julia said together. The earth began to rumble and the other students of the school began to panic. The rain fell harder and people began running towards the school.
Dumbledore suddenly Apparated in front of them. "The wards are down!" He looked suddenly fifty years younger, his eyes were furious and were glinting dangerously. "The Weasley's have been attacked. The Aurors went to help, and while they were occupied, Death Eaters took down the wards around Hogwarts. We must get the students inside! The eight of you need to be ready, Voldemort wil be looking for you, especially you Harry."
The eight of them felt the huge weight that was being put upon them. Dumbledore didn't wait for an answer and instead started running with the strength of a man half his age towards the currently panicking student body. On the way he cast a sonorous. "ALL STUDENTS TO THE DUNGEONS NOW!" The mass of bodies moved as one towards the great entrance.
A huge silver shield suddenly sprang into existence around the school. Harry looked at Draco with wide eyes. "Are you doing that?"
Draco's eyes were pure molten silver as he answered in a furious voice. "Yes. To protect the students until they get inside."
"Good thinking." Hermione said, watching as darkened shapes flew out of the sky and collided with the barrier. She shivered. other saw them too. More dark shapes swarmed out of the forest. Aurors began Apparating onto the grounds in droves.
"Let's find him." Harry said. Everyone knew what he meant. They followed him into the middle of the grounds. Julia swiftly transformed into her thunderbird form and melded with the thunderheads above. She came back almost instantly.
"East." She said grimly. "Surrounded by his inner circle."
"Draco, take your shield down now," Harry told him. "Let the Aurors deal with protecting the school. We need to get to Voldemort." Draco nodded and the silver shield collapsed. Instantly there were spelled being fired from all directions, shouts of pain and battle cries surrounded them.
"Up that hill!" Julia pointed. The thunder and rain got worse. They ran at top speed until they got to the top of the hill. They were blocked by a giant. He leered disgustingly at them and swung a meaty fist towards Draco, the closest one. Harry glared and the fist froze in place. The giant looked surprised and then angry.
"Great! Now you've pissed it off!" Blaise shouted over the now screaming wind. Harry shrugged and they all shed their school robes. They had taken to wearing their battle gear underneath at all times, so they would be prepared. Harry pulled out his sword and leapt at the giant. Out of the corner of his eye he saw another giant lumber towards Mel and Maxx but he knew they could handle it. As they engaged the giants in battle, Julia, Aaron, Hermione, and Blaise were preoccupied with trying to find where Voldemort was. Julia turned around from scanning the battlefield below to find her friends all missing.
"No!" She screamed, in all the noise it was hard to hear and she could barely see. It was the exact scene from her vision. She couldn't see the tracks of the giants on the ground where they must have lumbered off to while being attacked. A hand swung at her from behind and she spun around, whipping out a small dagger to face her attacker. Aaron stood before her, his arms held out in front of him.
"It's me, "He shouted over the noise. "This way!" She tried not to cry with relief and took his hand. They followed the giant tracks that Aaron could apparently see through the dark deep into the forest before they came upon the bodies of the two giants. The others were there waiting, and they set off running again.
They came to a clearing. It was surrounded by eighteen figures in pitch black robes with white masks, and in the center stood Voldemort, with his snake Nagini.
"Harry Potter," he sneered. "And you brought some friends. How…convenient. They will die first!" He cackled gleefully and the sound of it sent shivers down their spines. This man was completely mad.
"Surround them!" Harry shouted. His friends spread out, each facing two or three opponents.
"Ready to die, brat?" One murmured, coming closer. Harry was about to respond when the Death Eater fell at his feet, dead with a dagger in his back. Draco was glaring murderously at him.
"Fuck you," the blond spat. Harry grinned, and the battle began.
While the Death Eaters admittedly were great duelists, they were not a match for the eight teens. The clearing was a mass of chaos. Vines and tree branches waved everywhere, roots appearing from nowhere to grab at ankles, ice was forming underneath feet, wind was blowing at hurricane forces, lightning struck those who dared oppose the Octet. Voldemort watched it all with a growing rage. How dare these brats kill his followers?
Harry danced around, laughing. This was easy. A Death Eater snarled at him and he winked back, causing the Death Eater to get tripped by a root that was suddenly in his way. He scrambled to get back on his feet and swung a curse toward Harry, who nimbly dodged it and glared at the earth, which split apart with a loud groan to engulf the screaming Death Eater. He smirked and leapt on to the next target.
A few feet away, Draco was dueling his father, of course. The old man had sought him out, wishing to punish his son. "Die, son, for you have betrayed the house of Malfoy and deserve the punishment of a traitor." The man calmly informed his son while blocking spells from Draco.
"Sorry Father," Draco said just as calmly. "I have no intention of dying today." He threw one last spell with his wand, which his father absorbed with some sort of purple shield, and then ducked. The green killing curse sailed over his head, and then his father was staring, confounded, at the place where Draco had stood. A light and airy laugh from overhead caused him to look up. His son hovered over him, held in the air by a pair of huge, silvery wings. Lucius snarled.
"I always knew you were fairy." He said insultingly. Draco glanced at Harry, who was fighting another Death Eater, and merely chuckled. His boyfriend was in his element, dodging curses and using his powers brilliantly.
He lowered himself to his father's height and punched him. Lucius stumbled back and then took out a long sword. Draco smirked. So that was how it was to be. He brought out his own weapon and began the dance.
On the other side of the circle, Maxx and Mel were holding their own. They stood together, hand in hand, perfectly still and looking angelic, while Death Eaters came at them from every side. They simply stood there, and Sang. The Song was deadly, a haunting melody that simply stopped the heart from beating. A few of the Death Eaters fell dead without ever taking another step. One reached out at Mel from behind, but Aaron leapt out of the shadows without warning and slit the throat of the man about to curse her. She smiled, and kept singing her deadly Song.
Julia was rampaging through the circle of dark wizards in her unicorn form. She struck one in front of her with her hoof then drew back and impaled him on her deadly horn. Hermione fought beside her, pulling various weapons out of her belt and landing blows everywhere her hand struck. She was incredibly accurate, and from a few feet away Blaise watched out of the corner of his eye as the men fell around her quickly. He fluttered around in his bat form, watching the Dark Lord to make sure he didn't try anything. He shot disabling spells at any that the others missed, which were quickly downed and taken care of by those on the ground.
It seemed like barely any time had passed away before the inner circle of Death Eaters was disposed of. Bodies lay around them and they averted their eyes. They had prepared for this, but they had never killed. Voldemort noticed and laughed manically.
"There is your weakness. Emotion!" He shook his head in mock pity. "It is always the downfall of the Light."
"How can you be like that?" Hermione asked furiously, wiping her sweaty hair out of her eyes. "They were loyal to you!"
"They are replaceable." He waved his hands dismissively. "I have to admit, that was some impressive spellwork there. I have never seen a spell that can manipulate the elements before. Perhaps we could work out a compromise," he wondered aloud. The gleam of power shone in his eyes. These weaklings knew spells he did not. He could use them, take their knowledge, and then kill them.
Harry was shaking his head. "I don't think so Tom." Voldemort snarled at the nickname. "We are here to kill you, that is our only purpose in seeking you out."
Voldemort cackled again. Without a response, he raised both his hands and dark magic began to coalesce around him. Black magic, the highest form of Dark magic there was.
The Octet watched, unsure of what to do. The darkness gathered and rose, until they could no longer see each other. Snakes formed out of the mist and struck at the eight teens. One struck Hermione in the leg, and she cried out. Blaise looked murderous. Aaron moved through the darkness, able to see perfectly, to tap Maxx on the shoulder.
"Could use some light here buddy."
The clearing was suddenly glowing with light. Mel hummed along with Maxx and the light brightened. Voldemort shielded his eyes, and the eight of them transformed into their Animagus forms. Two bats shrieked at him from above diving at his eyes. Hooves knocked him down, and fire shot at him from the mouth of a dragon. An angry black blur clawed at his legs. The shield of black magic Voldemort put up was wearing down at the attack from the animals. Draco and Harry shot a blast of pure raw magic, bursting a hole in the shield. Voldemort screamed angrily when fire burned through the hole and seared his arm.
"ENOUGH!" He screamed, leaping to his feet and flinging his arms wide. The eight animals were knocked out of reach by the raw magic emanating from the evil creature. Instantly they were transformed back into their human selves. Through their telepathic bond came the thought, Link hands. We can do this.
Voldemort began complicated spellwork with his wand, and the eight struggled onto their feet to form a circle. They linked hands, Hermione barely able to stand, and Maxx and Mel hummed. A dome formed over their circle. Suddenly the screeching wind was silent, the rain stopped from above, and all they could hear was each other's harsh breathing. The world raged on outside of their bubble. Voldemort continued his spell, a sickly green looking mist beginning to take form. Julia suddenly panicked. Do NOT let that touch you! It is the killing curse, but it can spread much farther. If we let it out of this dome, it will kill everything and everyone in its path.
The others nodded to show they got her meaning and then they poured all of their magic into the being in the middle of their circle. Voldemort stopped his spell and shrieked defiantly. The magic poured into him, all the powerful colors of the mages at once, and he sunk to his knees in pain. Then the circle broke, and the eight of them were moving so fast it was only a blur. A kick to the head, a hit to the stomach, Voldemort blocking as many as he could with his now weak shields. Suddenly all movement stopped. Voldemort looked up into the eyes of Harry Potter, glowing green, and his partner. The icy blue eyes burned into him. The tip of Harry's sword was at his throat.
"Yield, and we will grant you mercy that you would not have granted us."
Voldemort lowered his eyes, panting. Then he slowly stood. He raised his eyes…and swept out with one hand. They were thrown back, and the man, laughing, Apparated.
"Damn it Harry! If we let him escape, everyone will die! Next time, just kill him." Draco said angrily.
"Let's go!" Julia said urgently. They teleported to the school and gasped at the sight. The ground was littered with bodies. It was hard to tell which side they were from. They picked their way among the bodies towards a green glow at the top of the stairs to Hogwarts. They could see the sickly green mist again, thickly shrouding a figure. All around them, bloodied Aurors and even some students battled the masses of dementors, giants, trolls, vampires, and Death Eaters. The battle looked hopeless.
Voldemort concentrated on his spell. Soon everyone would be dead. Regrettable that he had to kill all his followers along with the other side, but he could find new followers. Suddenly he was surrounded by the eight teens again. The dome over his head reappeared, and the deadly hum began. He blocked it out with his mind, but it hammered at his skull, knocking at his defenses. He looked up, and there were those emerald eyes again. "This time, you die Tom."
This time the mages poured all of themselves into the Dark Lord. He had proven his magic was good enough to block individual attacks, but their power combined was too much. They did not make the mistake of breaking the circle again. The green mist dissipated, and Voldemort seemed to crumple in on himself. A huge surge of power rose from the man in a giant wave, and he collapsed, a mere man, no longer a wizard. Harry cautiously approached him, sword in hand, and said, "Emotion is not a weakness. Emotion is what gives us the strength that you could never have." And he plunged the sword through his chest.
That was it. The Dark Lord was dead.
But the war was far from over. Hundreds of his believers still fought for the belief that Voldemort had stood for. The octet stayed on the battlefield, fighting side by side with classmates and Aurors to dispatch the rest of Voldemort's army. After they joined the Light army, favor quickly turned to their side.
When it was over, they stood gathered in the Great Hall. Hermione and Julia were busy healing as many wounds as they could. Dumbledore stood before them, weary and covered in blood, but alive.
"Congratulations. It is over." Nobody cheered. "But it comes at a great cost. We lost many lives in this battle." The attitude was somber, many people quietly sobbing, some moaning in pain. "But now, thanks to these eight mages, we can rest knowing we are safe. Voldemort is dead." This time people clapped and smiled again. The days behind them were dark, but the balance was restored. The Light had prevailed, and they could move on with their lives.