"Blah" Talking

'Blah' Thinking

"Blah" Parseltongue/Notes/Different languages

Blah Dreams/Flashbacks/Anything and Everything else

The window was open and a soft breeze was circling the room. Ginny sat quietly looking out towards the forest, concentrating until she could almost make out the shapes flittering through the trees. The dementors were still lurking in the forest and she wondered why they had not left or tried to come closer to the castle. The wind picked up as she leaned forward, fingers grasping the windowpane to close it and she smelled cinnamon in the air. Her breath came out as frost on the glass.

She closed the window, sunlight making her ring glisten.

Professor Dumbledore was sitting at his desk when Harry and Draco got to his office. Bill Weasley was standing nearby with various books, parchments, dictionaries, and even a few stone slabs littering the desk.

"I see someone managed to find you. Good, good." Albus said. "I wanted to ask you some questions, Mr. Potter. And I suppose Mr. Malfoy might have some answers for me as well." He continued.

"I found the spell Merlin must have used to make a Guide." Bill started, sounding half eager, coming forward and passing a few scrolls to Draco.

"The Ritual of Opposing Halves, yes. I imagine it was either in Merlin's estate or Egypt." Harry said, looking at Bill expectantly.

"Uh, yeah, it was in Merlin's estate. Which you knew, of course you did. I translated the whole thing, and Albus and I have poured over every bit of it. Even taught the old man some Ancient Egyptian." Bill said proudly.

"Do you know what a Horcrux is?" Albus asked abruptly.

"It's a device used to store a piece of someone's soul. They're usually very well protected, for obvious reasons, and they're very Dark objects." Draco said. He remembered a vague impression of reading about the subject but couldn't remember if it was during this lifetime or a previous one. Once, that would have disturbed him, not remembering why he knew something. It would have made him wonder if he was losing himself by becoming someone different, but now he knew that he wasn't becoming someone different – he was just becoming more.

"Yes, I figured you would know of it." Albus says, sounding tired. Harry tilts his head to one side, looking confused.

"In the Ritual of Opposing Halves, if you want to make this weapon – because it wasn't originally designed to make a Guide, per say, just a temporary weapon – you need to make sure you don't spark it in an Inferi or someone without a soul, like a victim of the Dementor's Kiss. It needs to feed on the struggling of the soul of its host, that's what makes it so strong and so very taboo." Bill said. Harry's look of confusion cleared and he looked at Albus sharply.

"Was there something you wanted to ask me, Albus?" Harry asked intently.

"Tom has Horcruxes. You destroyed one in your second year. I'm ashamed to admit that I only just recently figured out what that object was. But that's what it was, and judging by how he entrusted it to Lucius, that tells me there's more than one." Albus says and he takes his glasses off, cleaning them. "Do you want to tell me anything about this, Mr. Potter?"

"He didn't have any before I died. I died just as Erus was taking him over and then… nothing happened. I mean, something happened, something horrible – but I didn't wake up to Hell like I thought I was going to. The First War was horrible, I'm not saying it wasn't, but when I died Erus had taken him over. It should have been a lot worse if it had taken. I thought, for a time, that maybe he had managed to keep Erus at bay or something but… that's not what happened. I think that moment was when Tom made his first Horcrux – because Erus needs a host with a soul, but can't do much with a host that only has parts of one – Tom trapped him, inside." Harry says, leaning forward to talk to Albus, eyes near glowing.

"You think he was trying to save himself?" Albus asked, intrigued.

And something clicked in Draco's mind. Tom Riddle, while bitter and angry as a child, had changed as a young man. He was a revolutionary, wanting to change the world and improve it; there was still some bitterness and anger but he didn't cling to it. He looked after people, Diamond and Alphard Black mostly, but he had all these ideas about children – magical children who were orphaned or abused and ways to help them. Tom Riddle wasn't a man that would want any harm to come to great numbers of innocent people, not at that point in his life.

"He was trying to save everyone else, at his expense." Draco said quietly. He felt, somewhere deep inside him, near buried, that he failed Tom.

"Yes, I think that's what happened." Harry said and Draco could feel an echo of rage and self-hate and pain, near crippling pain, from him. It was the first time in a while that he'd felt anything from Harry that strong and it almost took his breath away.

"Well, that's one school of thought." Albus said, looking conflicted before continuing. "The circumstances don't matter, what matters is that, with the creation of his Horcruxes, the 'Erus' as you call it could not take hold, correct?" Albus asked.

"Yes. Between his indirect involvement in Myrtle's death - and it was indirect, Albus, it was - and the murder of his father and grandparents, I think he had enough of a crack in his own soul to force a full split." Harry explained.

Albus sat back, stroking his beard and nodding.

"I didn't start to piece it together myself until after that incident with Ginny. I couldn't figure out why Erus was still dormant, because when I died I saw Tom taken. It happened in front of me. And then I awoke and it wasn't anything like I was expecting - somehow Tom had managed to keep him dormant. But this, this makes sense, Albus, this makes sense." Harry continued earnestly.

"I think I've managed to piece together what objects were used and as of now I even have a tentative number of how many he may have made." Albus said.

"I have my own ideas as well, but they might line up with yours."

"Well then, I guess the question becomes if I, and by extension the Order, can trust you, Mr. Potter. Your actions don't exactly inspire trust." Albus said bluntly, looking at Harry over his glasses. Draco bristled.

"That's rich, as if we have any grounds to trust you either." Draco retorted.

"I wasn't aware that I had been keeping a way to destroy Tom to myself the way Mr. Potter just admitted to. Or that I was keeping the fact that something much, much worse than just a simple man's delusions of grandeur were behind this entire War." Albus said grimly.

"How would I even begin to explain myself to you, Albus? I only pieced together that Tom had gone through with making Horcruxes during my fourth year. What was I to do, stroll up here and tell you I was the reincarnation of Aife Korasaki and hope you didn't see me as an enemy combatant? Don't forget that you had little love or trust for me back then. How was I supposed to trust that you wouldn't think of me as some kind of saboteur? Or would even believe me - let's be honest, this sounds pretty far fetched; the only reason you believed me at all is because you have other sources to back my story up." Harry said.

Bill Weasley was looking between the two warily but Draco was starting to think that something rather odd was happening. For two people who were discussing how much they didn't trust each other they were being rather blunt about it and there wasn't even a slight sense of hostility between the two.

"Tom asked Professor Slughorn once about obtaining seven Horcruxes. Horace always did have strange tastes in magical research." Albus said after a few more moments of looking at Harry intently.

"Yes, but study has shown that after six the host body starts to fall apart. The human body isn't meant to be soulless, we see that with Dementor Kiss victims. Further, Erus would never allow for that many splits. I expect that it was sheer luck and determination that allowed Tom to make the first split. More likely, Tom was able to make five or less. Honestly, the fact that he managed the one is a miracle." Harry said, leaning back into his chair.

"Seriously, after that exchange, you aren't even going to bother with distrust or trials or anything?" Draco said dryly.

"I don't see the point in ignoring a valuable asset, Mr. Malfoy. And while I may not have trusted Ms. Korasaki, I do trust Mr. Potter a great deal." Albus said.

"Perhaps I should leave?" Bill finally said, sounding timid. Albus blinked and turned to him, putting on a great show of being surprised by his very presence.

"Yes, perhaps that would be the best, Mr. Weasley. We'll be talking about a great deal of boring things." Albus said joyfully. Bill ducked out, looking grateful to be out of that hornet's nest. The meeting wasn't boring, so much as tedious and far too theoretical for any good to come out of it.

Blaise threw a cutting spell out, watching as it caught the Ravenclaw that had been aiming at Draco.

"Good form, Zabini!" Professor Black called from outside the protective dome the two groups were dueling inside. Potter twirled around a disarming spell and, not even bothering with his wand, kicking Ernie MacMillan away. Granger stepped up to Potter's right, wand trained on the remaining member of the opposing group. The boy held his hands up, wand pointed at the ceiling in surrender. Professor Black clapped once and the dome encasing them collapsed easily.

"Very good, well done all! Back in your seats, let's talk about that duel!" Professor Black said, shooing everyone into their seats and sitting on his desk. "So, thoughts?"

"Malfoy's team used a lot of spells I didn't recognize." Helena Flynn, one of the two remaining sixth year Slytherin girls in their year, said.

"MacMillan's team didn't work with each other like Malfoy's did." Mandy Broklehurst, a Ravenclaw with a soft voice, said.

"That's a good point. Zabini defended Malfoy a few times and Hermione stuck close to Harry throughout the duel. Teamwork is good for battle situations especially - Aurors are often put into doubles or trios to have a maximum chance of survival. You trust your group to have your back." Professor Black says. "Good observation, 10 points for Ravenclaw.

"Now, spells. Most definitely one team had an advantage over the other in that they knew more offensive and defensive spells. Fighting isn't just about good instincts and brute strength; you also have to have a good hold of numerous spells. You don't know what the enemy knows - if they know more than you, they could crush you." Professor Black said firmly.

The class was quiet. Blaise thought back to the attack on Hogsmeade - how adults had cut down children, oftentimes defenseless ones. Shop owners and his classmates. Knowledge was definitely power in a battle.

"Two different groups are going to duel for us next time and I encourage you all to try to get to a place where teamwork is flawless and second nature, like Harry and Malfoy's group. Also try and learn some of the spells that were unfamiliar - go up to Zabini or Hermione and ask them to teach you spells you were unfamiliar with. You are all a group, all united by being Hogwarts students. I may put you in different groups, but at the end of the day you are all a group together. You are all still here because on some level you want to be. Some of you couldn't get out of the country, but instead of staying home you came here - and that's important. You all choose to be in this group, so embrace that." Professor Black said, passion and conviction in his voice.

Blaise didn't think the speech was all that inspiring, but as he glanced around the room he realized that people looked thoughtful and hopeful. He didn't know for sure if any of the current students were spies or not, but he wasn't about to be waylaid by well-meaning words of unity.

Draco was sitting on the arm of Harry's chair, a book open in his hand. Harry himself was writing on a map, pausing to talk with Draco every so often before marking the map again. They weren't touching, which wasn't odd in and of itself, but there was something strange about them today. Something off that Hermione couldn't put her finger on. Harry moved to grab a book from the table nearby, silver bracelet catching the light, and Draco shifted slightly.

"Alright?" Ron asked softly from next to her. She hummed softly, turning to look at Ron who was staring at her bemused.

"Sorry," She said sheepishly. "What were you saying?"

"I was saying that I think the International Statue of Secrecy seems massively unnecessary. For a so-called 'international statue' there isn't a whole lot of internationality to it. Its more like the Western Statue of Secrecy, especially considering that once you hit the Ottoman Republic, most nations have their own laws and viewpoints regarding separation. The Ottoman Republic lets individual states mandate the degree of secrecy and Russia has massively lax laws regarding it. Most Asian countries don't even bother with separate governing bodies." Ron said.

"The statute serves its purpose – keeping the two worlds separate. That's important. Even in the East there's a separation – maybe not a complete one like here but nowhere in the world does a country have a muggle population that knows about the existence of magic. The muggle and magical communities each have their own histories, political bodies, and cultures. Magical Russia was never Communist and the Ottoman Empire was never broken apart in our world – it just became a Republic. That's completely different than the current situation in the muggle world where all that land has been separated into different countries! Getting rid of the statute would mean what exactly? No separation? That would be a massive disaster, not just culturally, but financially and politically as well." Hermione argued, waving her hands for emphasis on certain points.

"I'm just saying that it seems rather unnecessary nowaday, but maybe it would be better to call for an overhaul first instead of completely scrapping it. For instance, it would be nice if it included more protections. As the Statue stands now, most magical creatures have to be removed from their natural environs and moved into preserves, which causes extinctions and environmental damage in some places. Never mind that the statue lumps magical beings and creatures in the same category – Vampires aren't allowed to live in crowded muggle cities, for instance, because of the provision declaring that the removal of magical creatures to ensure separation. It's insulting – there's a big difference between a non-humanoid magical being and a magical creature. Just because some magical beings don't look "human" doesn't mean they're animals, you know? And the statue causes all western ministries to abide by one overlaying rule, even if it doesn't fit into their financial or cultural ways." Ron said, leaning back in his seat.

"An overhaul would require every nation that holds it coming together in a convention and drafting a new Statue – why not just add something to it? Like an addendum? That way it can address protections for a wide variety of groups, like Muggleborn Exposure. I've heard and read reports that if a muggleborn's parents don't respond well to magic they're obliviated and their kid had to act like they attend a muggle boarding school – they have to hide in their own homes!" Hermione said, waving her hands as she warmed to the conversation. "And those procedures are in place directly because of the Statue, not because of individual countries laws. If there was an addendum added it could smooth over interactions between the worlds in the West." She continued.

"An addendum brings its own problems though - getting people to agree to any of those proposed ideas would be next to impossible. Just because the vast majority aren't genocidal nutjobs doesn't mean most people in positions of power in our world are prepared to advocate for muggleborn rights or muggle protections. And, most of the things you would want in this theoretical addendum would really be better left for individual ministries to deal with. Like the Werewolf Regulations, just for an example." Draco cut in, turning on his perch to address them more directly.

"In the United States of America, werewolves are a highly regulated people. Wolfsbane is mandatory and free, which makes the ingredients used to make wolfsbane cheaper as they don't need to jack the prices up as an additional way to screw with the werewolf population. Because of the Safe Enclosure act of 1897 werewolves can't live in populated areas and they must have a place to transform that meets regulatory standards. And that's just the basics of it all. Britain isn't nearly anywhere near that regulated. We have the Registration Act which lists every adult werewolf, their living address, and their place of employment and its a lifetime sentence in Azkaban if a werewolf bites someone. There's no laws about where they're allowed to live and the ingredients for Wolfsbane and the potions themselves are outrageously expensive. Both nations have vastly different ways of dealing with werewolves and getting them to agree with the other will be next to impossible - our government doesn't even see werewolves as people much less second-class citizens like the Americans. Can you imagine them agreeing to something for the sake of an addendum?" Draco continued, poising the question for either one of them to answer. He then turned back to Harry, effectively cutting himself out of the conversation.

"Precisely." Hermione said. "I don't mind the current Statute, I just think it should have a less deceiving title. Progress happens first in individual countries, then on a global scale." She continued.

"I still think its pointless - it's all about keeping the world's separate but then it doesn't keep up with the muggles. They attempted to but stopped at the Spanish Inquisition, when information was easier to contain and didn't spread as quickly." Ron responded.

"You sound like a doomsayer, Ron." Hermione said dryly. "Yeah, information is spread easier and faster, but muggles are also much more reliant on science to explain away the world. If, say, someone flew past a cruise liner on a broomstick and that was caught on film? Everyone would immediately assume the image was somehow fake or doctored. Just look at how easily they dismissed that Anastasia imposter in the 1920's - they said she couldn't possibly be who she claimed because humans can't block bullets. Not because she wasn't the right age, not because she didn't look like a Romanov, but because humans can't dodge bullets. Science says humans can't dodge bullets and since magic doesn't exist that's the end of it." She said with an air of finality.

"Alright, alright, point taken." Ron grumbled. "Speaking of Russia and red-headed girls, to deliberately change the subject in a concession of defeat, have you noticed that Ginny is behaving rather oddly lately?" Ron asked.

"She seems fine to me." Hermione said, twisting in her seat to look over the common room in search of the girl in question.

"I swear I saw her wearing a scarf and gloves to lunch recently. It's finally warm out, she can't still be wearing winter clothes. And Professor McGonagall asked me if she was feeling alright recently, which of course made me worry, so now I'm worrying." Ron said, frowning.

"I've noticed her wearing more layers, but I haven't really thought much of it." Hermione said after thinking over her last few interactions with the younger Weasley.

"Not all good things are warm. And typically, the colder something is, the older it is." Harry said, marking something on the map before him, before standing. Draco shifted to his feet, grabbing the map.

"I have no idea what you're talking about." Ron said with a frown.

"Neither do I sometimes." Harry said, walking out of the common room after that. Ron and Hermione looked at each other in confusion.

so many players. Too Many.

Not slaves. Not slaves.

We were to choose. We were to choose one and only one, not like last time when it was both.

Not slaves. not slaves.

We are hungry so hungry. too few of us too few. need more too warm. not slaves

not slaves

Light not feed us. not slaves but Light chains us.

So hungry.

We will feed. no choice. Breed more feed more. not slaves

so hungry.

(Protector. Protector. Guard. Watcher. Protect)

Not. Slaves.

can we remember how to get more? broken things from slippery slopes from decay. we were gifts once. Exchange protection. Slaves.

Not slaves.

Hide for sons hide from daughters no daughters,





Daughter now. No hide. Not slaves. too few too few. We were three then hundred then hundred over three. too few now too few. Not slaves,

(Orders sir Orders)

Left us to starve. Not slaves. Left us to starve. Too hot. no choice no side no choice

We are so hungry.

And so lonely.

"Ginerva?" Luna's voice cut her into awareness, drowning out the strange whispers in her head. Wind picker her hair up, pulling at it and yanking her skirts around her. She had to go to them, they were so lonely. Had no one been feeding them? Her pets...

"Don't leave me." Luna whispered. The warmth from her body was gone and Ginny turned around. She was outside, how did she get here? The castle doors were so far away, shut up tight, and Luna wasn't anywhere to be seen. The forest loomed ahead of her.

How had she gotten here?

"Luna?" Ginny called out, straining to hear any response. The wind surged through the trees, tendrils yanking at her clothes and wiping her hair in front of her eyes. It sounded like screaming, the kind she used to have nightmares about, back when she still feared her own mind and wondered if Tom was still there, buried somewhere.

A crack of thunder overhead sounded and she heard wails, like a child's. They were calling for their mother, hungry and scared. She had to go find it, save it. She was alone out here, she didn't have a choice but to go to it. Her fingers touched the bark of a tree and she listened, straining to pinpoint where the child was. To her right, hidden in the trees, the child's crying came again. The poor thing couldn't be more than a toddler, what was it doing out here all alone?

"Ginerva, stay with me!" Luna's voice called, urgent, from behind her and she whipped around.

"Luna? Where are you?" She called, seeing no one around her. The child screamed again and she twisted in that direction, biting her lip. "The child, I have to go, Luna where are you?" She called again, looking around for the other girl franticly. There was no one here, no one at all.

"Stay." Luna's voice was so close, but she wasn't anywhere to be found.

'I don't understand. Where is she? Is this a trick? Where is she?'Ginny thought, turning around in circles, looking for any trace of the blonde. She spied Hagrid's hut a little ways away and started making her way towards it. The child's crying reached her ears again and it was starting to rain. The raindrops were freezing and it was too cold for such a young child to be out in the forest all by itself. Hagrid would help her find it; he knew the forest like the back of his hand.

The rain was coming down hard as she reached Hagrid's door and started to pound on it.

"Hagrid, it's Ginny, open up! I'm getting soaked and there's a child in the forest! Hagrid!" She called, voice nearly getting lost in the sudden gust of wind, angrily throwing rain at her back. There was no answer or even a stirring from the hut. The child was screaming, loud and frightened now, and Ginny pounded harder on the door, screaming for Hagrid.

"Ginerva, please!" Luna's voice was in the wind, calling to her, and still there was no response from Hagrid. She was all alone.

'How did I get outside?' She thought to herself, the thought heavy in her mind and causing her to pause in what she was doing. The wind was howling, rain coming down and smothering her, but she wasn't cold. In fact, she felt warm and that was strange for some reason. She hadn't been warm in such a long time, not since... she couldn't remember. Her earlier thoughts came back to her - is this a trick? - and she stepped back from the door to Hagrid's and looked towards the forest.

Thunder and lighting were fighting in the sky, the wind screaming through the trees, and yet she could still hear the child crying out to her. The child's screams were clear to her, near ringing in her bones, and she knew without a doubt that she was utterly alone. She was alone and yet she felt Luna, as if she just had to turn her head to see the other girl, but when she did there was nothing.

"You're not a child." She said quietly and everything stopped. Rain paused in mid-air, lighting froze in the starless night sky and the wind finally died down, leaving only the high pitched screaming of a small child. The forest before her was utter darkness, shapes and shadows being swallowed within the first few feet. She had been living near this forest for the better part of the last five years and knew without a doubt that it wasn't nearly that dark. And the trees near Hogwarts weren't this skinny, now that she was looking at them properly. This was a trick of some sort. The screaming cut off.

"Where am I?" She asked.


The answer came from all around her, whispered from a hundred different locations. She was getting tired of this cryptic bullshit.

"I'm leaving. I'm going back to Luna." She said and she got laughter in response. As the lady commands.

Ginerva woke with a gasp and a full body shudder, heaving into a sitting position as the showerhead continued to pour water down on her. Luna made a distressed sound, unable to form words now that Ginerva was awake and breathing, and flung herself at the other girl. The front of her nightgown was getting wet, but she really could care less, just clung to Ginerva with shaking arms.

"Luna." Ginerva croaked, hugging the other girl back and burying her face in Luna's blonde hair. "I was looking for you." She murmured. Luna couldn't say anything, just crawled forward to settle in her girlfriend's lap, clinging with all her might.

"I'm sorry I scared you." Ginerva said a little while later pulling herself from Luna's grip to press their lips together gently. Luna pressed closer, not wanting to admit that she was frightened. Luna never dealt well with fear, she thought humans were woefully under equipped to handle it.

They had been taking a nap, a break from studying, in Luna's dorm. Because of the small number of returning students she was sharing with just one girl, Agatha Cresswell, who had run off to get Professor Flitwick when Luna started screaming for Ginerva to stay with her. Luna had been the one to drag Ginerva into the bathroom and turn the water on, spraying her unconscious girlfriend with warm water, as the other girl was rapidly losing body heat. She was on edge but she didn't start panicking until Ginerva's Nargles faded away and the other girl stopped breathing.

Ginerva's hands were clutching at her back, keeping Luna pressed close, and Luna was more than happy to stay perched on the redhead's lap and kiss her until they were both breathless. She didn't want to let go, to stop kissing her, but Professor Flitwick's tiny voice was sounding from the other side of the bathroom door and Luna could feel the Professor's magic working to open the door. She used the grip she had on Ginerva's hair to pull the other girl from her, feeling a flutter deep in her belly at the groan Ginerva let out.

"Ms. Lovegood and Weasley, are you both quite alright? Ms. Cresswell and the wards led me to believe there was something dire occurring." Professor Flitwick said as he swung the door open and looked over them with critical eyes. Ginerva let go of her slowly but Luna didn't move, still needed the physical reminder that Ginerva was fine and breathing.

"I had a slight problem, but its fine now. I'm sorry to have worried you all." Ginerva said, sounding sheepish. She pushed at Luna, trying to gently get them detangled so she could stand, but Luna was not budging.

"Ms. Lovegood, if you could please get off your girlfriend, I really must insist that you two go to the Infirmary, if only because of the way the wards reacted. They were quite insistent that one of you was in mortal peril." Professor Flitwick said gently, coming forward to gently help the two stand and waving his wand at the shower, causing it to turn off.

Luna wasn't shaking but she clutched at Ginerva's hand, walked with her and stared as nothing happened. Her Nargles - the little balls of fluff and light she'd seen around people since her mother had died in a flash of blue-green light - were not coming back or showing any signs of reforming. She wasn't sure what that meant, if it meant anything at all.

Augusta Longbottom was not the same woman she was when her son and daughter-in-law were first married. Back then, she used to be a sweet, quick-tempered lady of fine breeding, if she did say so herself, and prone to long bouts of laughter over things she found humorous. She had often been found in her garden, tending to her plants, and had given the young couple a few starter plants for their new house. She was not anything like that anymore; she was not sweet and she did not anger so much as simmer until she boiled over. She almost couldn't recall the last time she laughed and her gardens were tended to by her grandson anymore. She hadn't set foot in them since her Frank and his lovely, lovely bride were driven mad by that sadistic bitch. She had never been more proud of her grandson then when she heard the reports that he had gone wand to wand with Bellatrix Lestrange and gotten away alive.

Alice gurgled something, knocking over her cup and screaming. Augusta gently picked it up, placing it back in front of the distraught woman and tried not to cry herself. Alice stopped screaming, turning to look at her with blank eyes, and gurgled something. Augusta sat patiently, listening to her babble and tried hard not to think about Alice as she once was.

She met Alice when Frank graduated from Hogwarts. By that time, they had been dating for a few years already and Augusta had heard her name but never met the young woman in person. Alice had been standing tall next to her Frank, hair done up in a bun, and they were talking with young James Potter and the pretty redhead that would be Lily Potter. Her first impression was that she was a lovely young lady with a strong jaw and when she laughed, Frank would smile at her, love shining out of his very being. Yes, she approved of Alice.

Frank threw one of his pillows at Alice's head, causing the woman to jostle and shout, which of course set Frank off and Augusta sat listening to them and bit her tongue to keep the tears from falling. She would not cry, not in this place, where anyone could see her. She was stronger than this.

There was movement from Frank's side of the room and when Augusta got a hold of herself enough to look, he was standing by his bed, walking slowly to Alice's. He had done this a few times, walked to Alice's bed and sat down to babble at her. Alice liked it, would give him her sheets and pillow slips, and threw a mighty screaming fit if anyone tried to make him go back to his own bed before she was asleep. It was strangely comforting to her, to know that even though they didn't know anything they still knew each other somehow.

Frank settled down next to Augusta, cross legged like a little boy, and Alice hit him with her pillow softly. Frank held it and grabbed Alice's wrist to keep her from hitting him again and they stayed like that, not looking at each other or babbling. Augusta closed her eyes, turned her head, and couldn't help the few tears that escaped her eyes.

Just then, a tremor came through the floor, shaking the whole building and for a moment Augusta thought it was an earthquake. Seconds later, fire curled up the stairway and overtook the corridors and spat out into the individual rooms. Augusta leapt to her feet, wand out and fire extinguishing spells flying. They were no use and within seconds fire engulfed her, the roar of heat and magic throwing her back.

Frank and Alice were screaming and burning, not moving from where they were sitting, and through the orange and red flames she saw them crumble like firewood, screams diminished in a warble. Her hair was on fire, scorching her head and she could feel the lick of flames all over her body, the searing pain unbearable.

When darkness took her, she hoped it brought her to her son and daughter-in-law. It would be nice to finally have a cup of tea with them and tell them all about their son and what a wonderful lad he had grown up to be.

Eleanor sat down for lunch at the Hufflepuff table next to Audrey Dodderidge, fellow fifth year and the only other fifth year in their house. Audrey's mother and father were Death Eaters, her father had died only last year, so Eleanor was surprised she was even at Hogwarts this year. (Of course, she was also surprised that such a sweet girl like her came from such ruthlessness. Audrey had never seemed like she cared much about things like bloodlines or politics at all. Finding out what her parents were was a shock to the system.)

Luna was seated at the Ravenclaw table, for once without Ginny nearby, and her housemates seemed to be giving the blonde a lot of space. Eleanor knew that Neville was seated at the Gryffindor table talking to some younger students about something and that Hermione, Ron, and Ginny were seated right near the Professor's table, talking to Professor Black. Eleanor wondered if she could invite Luna to sit with her or if the other girl was fine with being ignored by her House. She knew that Luna didn't care much about what other people thought of her, but she still felt bad seeing her singled out like that.

Halfway through lunch, Professor Dumbledore's phoenix appeared in the Hall with a flash of flames and phoenix song. Eleanor noticed that Professor Black stopped talking with Hermione and the others as the Headmaster passed the note down the table. When it reached Professor Black, he grew pale and left quickly.

"Students, if I may have your attention please?" The Headmaster called out, standing as the other Professors talked amongst themselves, looking grave and pale. A hush descended on the Great Hall as he continued to address them all. "The rest of your classes for the day will be canceled. St. Mungo's has been attacked and they require assistance. The majority of the staff are going, Professors Trelawney, Sinistra, and Vector will still be within the castle throughout the day. We should be back later on tonight. I ask that you remain inside the castle walls."

Chatter broke out as soon as he was done talking and Eleanor watched in shock as the Professors filed out of the hall. The hospital had never been attacked – not during the last war or even during the war with Grindelwald's forces. Hell, even during the few Goblin Uprisings that occurred right near St. Mungo's the hospital had been a safe zone.

"Longbottom doesn't look so good." Audrey said quietly and Eleanor felt a coil of horror come upon her at the mere thought of what Neville must be thinking.

The rest of the day passed in whispers and strained exchanges of what little information had managed to filter into the castle. They didn't know much – just that there had been an attack. Someone had heard from their relatives that the hospital was in shambles but no one could confirm that – it was a rumor at that point. Eleanor had heard Audrey and her twin sister Adina bemoan that the Professors had left them all defenseless and many people had agreed with them.

When dinnertime rolled around, the Professors were still gone. There was something very unsettling about seeing Professor Trelawney in the Great Hall during a meal. The woman was speaking with Professor Vector, looking nervous and small. Her hair was combed through for once and pulled back into a neat ponytail, making her look much younger than Eleanor could ever remember her appearing. Professor Sinistra was seated where Professor McGonagall usually was and she looked stern and sat stiffly, looking over them all like a dragon over its hoard.

Eleanor herself was seated in between Neville and Ginny with Hermione and Ron across from her at the Gryffindor table. Neville was grim and silent, eyes red-rimmed but she had been with him for hours and knew he had not cried once. She couldn't think of a single thing to say to him – what could she possibly say that wouldn't sound pointless? 'I'm sorry your parents are probably dead' would get her cursed she was sure of it, if not by Neville then by Ginny or Luna. 'At least if they're dead they're not crazy anymore' was even worse. Hell, she couldn't even say something like 'I know how you feel' because she didn't.

Her parents had sent her off to Luna's this summer and left the country. Without her. They sent her an owl when she came back to school with the key to her bank vault enclosed and a note that they had wired a few hundred gallons into it. The worst part was probably that she didn't feel much loss at their abandonment; their loss wasn't anywhere near as painful as losing Dean and Seamus. They had never been very close and honestly Eleanor was glad they were gone – at least out of the country they would have a better chance at staying alive.

She couldn't say anything to one of her best friends so she did the only thing she could do – stayed near and be ready to listen if he wanted to talk. 'Dean would know what to do. He'd know what to say.' She thought, feeling her nose burn as she imagined what Dean would do in this situation. He had been much better than her with words.

"Hey, Ellie, what do you think?" Dean asked, moving the canvas he was drawing on around to face her. It was a drawing of her face caught in a laugh with her chin tilted down, and even half done it looked very good. He had gotten much better at drawing ears, she noticed.

"I like it, but why do you draw me so much?" She asked, feeling her ears warm. Dean blinked at her, bit his lip, and then smiled sheepishly at her.

"Sorry, does it bother you? Man, I must look like a stalker…" He said mildly.

"No, no, you really don't! I just meant… I mean… you can't possibly draw me that much." Eleanor said quickly, waving her arms around. Her mouth felt dry and she could feel her tongue stick to her mouth. She wanted to say much more, point out how much more he must have seen Ginny and even though she was a lesbian, she was still much prettier than plain Eleanor. She wanted to say how Harry, even though he was a boy, looked gorgeous and Creevey was forever taking photos of him and telling anyone who would listen how beautiful Harry was.

Eleanor was plain, she knew. Mousey. Her plain brown shoulder length hair and her eyes were crocked on her face. She had a flat nose and too much baby fat around her cheeks still. She didn't think she was ugly, but she was under no impression that she was pretty. It didn't bother her, not everyone was meant to be pretty.

"But I do." Dean said seriously. "I draw you a lot. You should hear Seamus make fun of me for it. I drew you even before I actually got to know you, before Harry's lessons." He continued.

Her eyes burned and she shoved a roll into her mouth, trying not to cry. Dean had finished that particular drawing of her and it was placed on her dresser back in her dorm room. The shading was brilliant and Dean had managed to get his signature to fit in one of her dimples. She looked at it every morning as she got ready and heard his voice and felt his hand running through her hair. It hurt.

"Ellie, could you pass the –" Whatever Ginny was going to ask for was drowned out by a roar, just as deafening as the Hungarian Horntail's. Magic, stronger than anything Eleanor had ever felt, shook the very foundation of the Hall, making the goblets and dishes rattle and people screamed. The silence when the roar settled was terrifying. She could feel her ears ringing and people were looking around, spooked.

Eleanor looked around the hall, saw frightened faces, and realized she hadn't seen Harry all day today. Draco was sitting at the Slytherin table next to Zabini and that Flynn girl and he was looking at the ceiling with an expression she had never seen on his face before.

Another roar, this one even louder, sounded and this time the shaking was so strong her teeth vibrated with it. The Professor's table toppled over with a bang and their benches crashed down, bringing the three remaining Professor's with it down to the floor.

"GET DOWN!" Draco's voice, loud over the din, called out just as a tinkering crash sounded from overhead. Eleanor grabbed Ginny and yanked her down underneath the table as something heavy crashed down. The roaring cut off abruptly as the shaking got even worse, benches tumbling to the floor and goblets and silverware went flying, as a large crack sounded. Eleanor opened her eyes, not aware that they had closed, and realized the hall was utterly dark.

"Ginny! Ginny, are you alight?" Ron called frantically from nearby.

"I'm fine! What happened?" Ginny called and Eleanor heard other students calling out for friends and siblings from around the hall but it sounded weirdly muted to her. She could make Neville out next to her, barely, but she didn't know what was going on.

A shriek ripped through the air and she clamped her hands over her ears, trying to drown out the horrible, high pitched noise as all the hair on her body stood on end. Light exploded across the hall then and she heard a muffled shout, it sounded like Professor Sinistra, and the horrible shriek was cut off.

"Students!" Professor Vector's voice was loud over the renewed screaming and crying throughout the Great Hall. "Please stay where you are. We are dealing with the situation!"

"The hell you are." Neville muttered from next to her and when she turned she saw he was bleeding from the temple. He wasn't the only one: Luna had a gash on her left arm and there was a good sized glass chunk embedded in Hermione's right shoulder. She and Ginny were unharmed, likely due to how quickly Eleanor had gotten them under the table, and the smell of blood was strong.

Something that sounded remarkably like lighting striking a tree sounded and then she could hear Professor Vector shouting off spells while Professor Sinistra chanted something. A horrible voice – loud and deep – was laughing overhead and the sound of thunder came with it. She didn't know what kind of creature made such a sound and she didn't want to.

"Ellie, can you heal Neville, Luna, and Hermione? I'm going to get a headcount of the Gryffindors." Ginny said, already spelling her hands and knees glass proof.

"Be careful, Gin." Eleanor said, moving to give the girl more room. Neville turned towards her without prompting and she pulled her wand free to point it at his head. She'd only repaired small cuts and bruises before, but she knew the spells.

"Episkey." She intoned quietly, feeling a small bit of her magic surge through her wand to Neville's wound. "Tergeo." She said moments later and the blood was gone. Neville grinned at her in thanks and she turned to deal with Luna. Hermione's wound required Eleanor to vanish the glass, which was simple enough, and by the end of healing her Eleanor felt a tad overheated.

"Dennis and Amell are the only other Gryffindors." Ginny said grimly moments later, crawling back towards them. The two other Gryffindors were trailing behind her, both pale and sickly looking. "The way to the room next to the Professor's table is clear but I'm not sure what's above us." She continued. A crack of magic sounded as Professor Sinistra's chanting reached a crescendo and something bellowed above them.

"Okay, everyone make for that antechamber. Hermione and I will cover you." Ron said after looking at Hermione.

"Don't move until we bang on the tabletop three times." Hermione said and then they both swung themselves out from under the table and vanished from sight. They heard Hermione swear loudly before she started casting spell after spell, some of them in Latin and some in something that sounded much rougher.

They were all pressed close at the head of the table, Ginny and Neville in the front, when they were signaled. They shot out from under the table at a dead sprint, Ginny throwing the door ahead of them open. Amell Volutei was the last one in and she slammed the door behind her. The room was undisturbed, candles still floating and giving off light as if all was right in the world; it was utterly silent inside, not a single portrait or candle stand was disturbed. The fireplace sparked to life at their presence, sending warmth throughout the room.

Dennis slumped to the ground and began sobbing into his hands. Amell wandered over to him as if in a daze, oozing down next to him with a white face. Luna knelt down in front of them and placed a hand on each of their shoulders. Dennis sobbed louder while Amell didn't even acknowledge the touch.

"I'm going to go back out and get the Ravenclaws in here." Ginny said quietly. Luna tensed but didn't look up, just continued to whisper softly to Dennis and Amell.

"I'll go get the Hufflepuffs." Eleanor heard herself say.

"I guess I've got the Slytherins then." Neville said and for a moment none of them moved. Eleanor took a deep breath and tried to get her hands to stop shaking before turning towards the door.

Stepping back out into the Great Hall was stepping into a warzone. The roof was ripped open and the two large windows that decorated the south wall were nothing but empty frames with jagged bits of glass jutting out. She dashed for the Hufflepuff table and noted that bits of stone and panels of glass had landed on her classmates throughout the hall with a sense of detached horror. Hermione and Ron were standing on the Gryffindor table, shooting spells upwards at something she dared not look at. Professor Sinistra was nowhere to be seen and Professor Vector was atop the high table, robes cut up and blood running down her face and arms.

She slid under the Hufflepuff table easily, knocking into Nina Delnormia who screamed in fright before throwing herself into Eleanor's arms.

"I-I-I thought y-y-you l-left us!" She sobbed into her shoulder. Eleanor hugged the seventh year gently, making soothing sounds and trying to calm her. Eleanor felt like crying herself but she had to get her housemates to safety, she couldn't cry right now.

"Nina, Nina, I need you to calm down right now. Okay, I just… Nina, please." Eleanor said while rubbing the other girl's back. "I gotta go help the younger students, okay?" She said, prying the girl's arms away from her. Susan Bones crawled forward to pull Nina against her and Eleanor couldn't help the surge of relief at seeing her alive and unharmed. Susan had always been nice to Eleanor and when she was younger the older girl helped her navigate the caste. Ron bellowing a curse, one that had a four year sentence in Azkaban attached to it, reminded her that she didn't have time to reminisce and she had to move quickly.

Crawling away from Susan and Nina was an exercise in trying to ignore what was around her. She passed what might have been Justin, blood pooling under his still form and staining her robes and hands, and bit her lip hard to keep from throwing up. He was still seated on the bench so he must not have even gotten a chance to go for cover. Ernie MacMillan was lying a few centimeters from Justin's ever growing blood pool, a large chunk of glass sticking out from his neck. His front was covered in blood when she got to him and his breathing was labored. She worked quickly on him, talking to him softly to try and get him to respond. It took him a few times, but eventually he could tell her his name and where he was. She wasn't sure if the disorientation was from the blood loss or a concussion, but she managed to heal his neck wound and then dragged him back to the girls.

Susan looked at her in horror when she brought him to them, but took Ernie easily enough from her. Eleanor told them to keep him talking. Crawling back under the length of the table was difficult, the smell of blood and death was overpowering and her hands felt as if they'd never be clean again. Many of the Hufflepuffs were still on the benches, some seated and others hunched over themselves as if still cowering for cover, and blood was dripping onto the table and floor underneath. It was like something out of a horror book.

She was halfway down the table when she came across Audrey. Her fellow fifth year was slumped against the leg of one of their classmates that hadn't made it under the table in time, but she was alive. Blood was dripping down her face, not just on one side, but down into her eyes and cheeks.

"Audrey, Audrey, hey, talk to me." Eleanor said, voice cracking as she hurriedly cleaned the girl's face, trying to find where all the blood was coming from. 'There's so much blood, the wound must be huge…' She thought worriedly.

"El'nor…yo're al'ight…good." Audrey slurred. Eleanor hummed quietly, smiling at the other girl as best she could. Her eyes blurred with tears as she finally found the large laceration on Audrey's head, hidden in her hair.

"Yeah, I'm alright. And you're going to be just fine, I'm just going to heal you real quick and then you'll be fine." Eleanor whispered, smiling as bright as she could at the other girl. It was taking longer than usual to mend her head wound and Eleanor poured her magic into the other girl, ignoring the small voice inside her that was whispering 'it's too late, there's nothing we can do for her.'

"Make sure….D'ana…" Audrey slurred and trailed off, legs giving an ominous jerk before stilling.

"Make sure Diana what, Audrey? Audrey, make sure she what?" Eleanor said loudly, working faster. "Audrey! Audrey, Merlin be damned, Audrey!" Eleanor called, shaking the other girl briefly by the shoulders. She could feel hot tears coming down her face and her last spell fell away from Audrey's form, useless.

Audrey's eyes stared ahead blankly, no light left in them and she wasn't breathing. She was utterly still and Eleanor stared at the other girl in incomprehension. Eleanor's hand shook as she pointed her wand at Audrey, voice cracked as she spoke a spell, and it came back negative.

She was dead.

Eleanor looked around and saw more utterly still classmates and small children still sitting on the benches for dinner, blood pooling under them. She caught sight of Dominique Geil, a third year, laid out on a bench with a pane of glass sticking out of her back, mouth dripping blood. She gagged but didn't let the bile come all the way up.

She closed her eyes and let her mind spread out, looking for mental signals. She couldn't identify anyone outside of her small group of friends by their individual mental signal but she could feel for them. She was vastly happy that Harry had taught them how to do this, because she didn't think she could take having to crawl all the way down the length of the table only to find no one left and have to crawl back to the front. She'd huddle into a ball and refuse to leave.

There were two sluggish flutters a ways ahead of her, so she forced her body forward, ignoring the blood and death around her. She found Laura Madley first, a second year who Eleanor had never heard speak, curled in a ball. She wasn't injured that Eleanor could see, but she was shaking badly and looked to be in the grips of a panic attack. Madley whimpered when a particularly loud bang sounded from above them and Eleanor made a quick decision.

"Laura, there's someone else caught under here, just like you, and I don't know if they're alright. I need to go find them, but I'm coming right back. I'm coming back for you, okay?" Eleanor said, looking the other girl in the eyes. She didn't allow herself to linger there any longer; she had to find the other living child under this table.

She found Rose Zeller, one of Laura's year mates, right as she saw Hermione fall to the ground with a crash, her hair tangled around her face and sticking to a laceration on her forehead. The older girl snarled in a truly inhuman manner before leaping back onto the table above Eleanor with a smash of plates. Rose's hand closed around Eleanor's wrist seconds later, grip tight and wet with blood.

From what it looked like, one of the boys seated next to Rose had managed to shield her body with his when a boulder-sized piece of stone came crashing down on them. He was rewarded with his spine and ribcage meeting and she was pinned under him, her legs wedged under his flattened torso. There was blood coming from one of her eyes, which had a sliver of glass peeking out from it.

She didn't make a sound as Eleanor worked on her, vanishing the glass and healing the cut it caused within her eye. Eleanor was pretty sure she'd still be blind in that eye, but at least it wouldn't hurt as much fully healed. Rose didn't make a sound as Eleanor levitated first the stone and then the boy off her legs but she also didn't let go of her left wrist. The girl's kneecaps were clearly broken and she was probably in a lot of pain – but Eleanor had no idea how to heal her.

She didn't dare just send magic into the other girl's body in hopes that she could mend her bones – what if Eleanor pinched her nerves together or vanished the girl's legs or the bones set wrong? There was too much she could mess up that she didn't dare try going into it without the proper knowledge behind her. She wasn't sure how to get her back to Laura, much less how to get her all the way back to the antechamber that was the safest place for them.

'I don't think I could keep her low enough to levitate her all the way there. She can't crawl, her kneecaps are broken. I guess…I could drag her. She'll get dirty and a little banged up but…and when it's time to run for the other room, I can carry her, she should be light enough. A there's magic if she's heaver than she looks…' Eleanor thought as she bit her lip.

"Hey, Rose, I gotta get you out of here. We're gonna go some place safe, okay? But I have to get you out from under this table, okay? I can't heal your legs, I'm afraid I don't have the skill for that, but I can drag you to where some of our other housemates are. It's going to hurt, but then you'll be somewhere safe, okay?" Eleanor said voice soft and she hoped she looked comforting. Rose let go of her wrist finally, still not talking, and Eleanor took a breath and tried to think of how to go about this.

Getting Rose back to Laura was hard but Rose gritted her teeth and didn't made a sound. Laura looked as if she had come out of her panic attack – or at the least that she wasn't actively undergoing one – and she eagerly followed after Eleanor.

Crawling back to where she had left Nina, Susan, and Ernie was difficult. Rose had found her vocal cords and was whimpering every now and then as Eleanor dragged her along. It occurred to her, as she paused for breath and let Susan take Rose, that the majority of her House was dead, just like her Dean was dead, and her friend Seamus, and her parents might as well have been dead and she didn't want to deal with any of this.

Hermione and Ron were still fighting whatever was above them, voices calling out spells and their magic was steady. They sounded more furious than she'd ever heard them and she hoped they were hurting whatever had done this. She hoped they killed it.

Nina had Ernie's arm over her shoulders and looked to be ready to drag him with her to the antechamber and Laura was still and pale.

"Ron, Hermione!" She called out, voice sounding much stronger than she felt.

"Hold on!" Ron roared back and something howled at him, sounding large and angry.

"Now!" Hermione called out and Eleanor's little group of remaining Hufflepuffs dashed out from under the table. Professor Vector was dead, pinned to the wall by what looked like a large severed finger with unnaturally long nails, and Eleanor saw Draco fighting like Ron and Hermione out of the corner of her eye.

The door slammed closed behind them. The other Hufflepuffs managed to drag themselves towards a far wall, opposite of Dennis and Amell, and Eleanor saw a flash of white blonde hair coming towards her quickly.

Luna's arms enveloped her and she collapsed into her embrace, sobbing her heart out. Luna managed to drag her away from the door, petting her hair and murmuring nonsense to her, just as Ginny burst through it with four Ravenclaws.

Neville slid under the Slytherin table and was greeted with the only Slytherin seventh year's wand in his face. Warren Vaisey was large and looked haunted but when he saw who Neville was, he lowered his wand.

Draco's voice chanted a Scandinavian verse and Neville felt a burst of magic above them crash into something. None of the three professors who had been left to mind Hogwarts were alive and Neville had no idea where Harry was.

"If you're here for the rescue party, most of your work is already done. These are the students that are still alive down here." Vaisey said, jerking a thumb behind him. Behind him were eight other students ranging in age and injury and Neville thought that Slytherin House might have the least amount of casualties than the others if only due to being so close when Draco shouted for everyone to hit the deck.

"I can get you all a window in a few seconds, so be ready!" Draco shouted down to them and Neville saw the students shift before he himself was turning and preparing to dash out from under the table.

"GO!" Draco shouted and Neville booked it. He heard Hermione and Ron say a spell together and by that time he was slamming the door open and running into safety. Draco was the last through the door and he slammed it behind him. Hermione and Ron immediately cast some spells on the door and Neville recognized a few warding spells but not much else.

Inside, people were crying and shaking and huddled in corners. Eleanor was sobbing into Luna's shoulder in a corner, covered in blood. He didn't want to think about how she had gotten that much blood on her.

"We need to get out of here!" Someone screamed eventually and everyone started talking at once, the nose overpowering for such a tragically small group.

"And go where?" Hermione's voice carried over the noise, drowning everyone else out. She was standing in the middle of the room, regarding everyone grimly. Everyone stopped talking to listen to her. "The things that ripped the ceiling off were some of the biggest and most feral looking things I've ever seen. I don't even know what they were. I'm not sure how many of you got a look at them, but there were only three. Three of them managed to rip a hole in the wards and knock the ceiling in. They even managed to transfigure some of the stone pieces into glass chunks for the maximum amount of carnage! If you think for even a second that this place isn't surrounded by Death Eaters right now, you are out of your mind. We need to stay in the castle. It's the safest place right now." She continued, voice firm.

"The safest place? My little brother is dead out there!" Warren Vaisey screamed at her, striding forward to get in Hermione's face.

"And yet, you aren't." Hermione said calmly. "And I can assure you, leaving this castle will get you killed."

Warren seemed to choke on either his words or his emotions, at that point it was hard to tell which one, but before he could recover Hermione turned towards Luna and Eleanor. Neville isn't sure what she said to them, but whatever it was got Eleanor to lean away from Luna and stop sobbing.

Neville had no idea what to do.

A/N: Again, thank you so much for those of you that are still reding this, those of you who fav it and put it under alerts and such. I'm sorry that its taking me so long to write this but RL sucks major balls. On the plus side, I'm done with college finally so I should have more time to finally, FINALLY finish this fic! We only have a few more chapters to go and then its done!