Screams Part Three: Reunion
Standard Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all characters are property of J K Rowling, Warner Brothers, Bloomsbury Books, Arthur A. Levine Books, Raincoast Books and Scholastic publishing and are used without permission. This work was written purely for noncommercial entertainment; no money is being made.
WARNING: This is a dark horror fan-fiction containing graphic violence, gore and major character deaths.
A heavy weight pressed on his chest. Dust filled his mouth and floated around him. Blinking, Harry Potter woke. Bright beams of daylight blinded him for a moment. After he became accustomed to the offending light, he found a large chunk of brick and mortar lying on his chest. A quick flick of his wand banished the rubble away.
Coughing and groaning hollowly, he sat up. Broken ribs creaked against each other like nails on a chalkboard. He winced but ignored the pain. He had grown used to pain; it was his constant companion in a way.
"You'll have to heal yourself before you move on, Harry," Hermione's voice said in his head. The voice wasn't the way Hermione talked now. It was the voice of Hermione from long ago, before their capture and subsequent tortures.
Waving his wand in an intricate pattern over his side, Harry heard and felt the bones popping back together and mending. He had first learned this spell as he and his friends began their doomed quest for Voldemort's Horcruxes believing such a useful healing charm would be beneficial. Since then, Harry had become quite adapt in using that charm. Not necessarily on himself, instead on the witches and wizards he… worked on. Often, when he would run out of fingers to break, he would perform the charm in order to be able to break them again. After all, Hermione needed her small pleasures.
He looked around and registered that he was in the debris and rubble riddled basement of what used to be Millicent Bulstrode's house. The shafts of light breaking through holes in the floor above him told him he had been unconscious for hours. When Millicent ran out of screams, sunrise had been hours away.
Despite Banishing the rubble off of his body, Harry continued to feel a heavy weight on his chest. He touched his ribs, checking for any wound, but found none. This sensation was a powerful ache in his core, like a gaping hole. He could feel it growing slowly in his chest. It was spreading from the middle of his chest outward.
"She's gone, mate," a voice sounded in his head, a voice that reminded him of Ron. "You lost her."
Harry remembered picking Hermione up as Millicent slowly died. Then, while he and his friend were about to leave, Bulstrode gave one last shuttering breath. At that instant, the fireplace exploded. He recalled that as he whipped out his wand, Hermione muttered a dispassionate "whoops" while the fireball flew toward them. All he had was a split second and in that second, he cast a Shield Charm. It protected him and his delicate charge from the brunt of the blast, but the shield could not protect them from the floor collapsing underneath them. Hermione had let out a pathetic whimper as the floor crumbled to splinters. She was still so very frail. Harry realized that he had to protect her at all cost. He would survive a fall, but she couldn't. As they began to plummet into the basement, he thrust Hermione away, to what he hoped was a more stable section of the floor. Then he remembered pain as he crashed.
"You lost her," Ron repeated once more in his head.
Harry wanted to tell the voice that he was wrong, that he hadn't lost her. She was safe and sound just upstairs. The voice was very much like Ron, and Harry remembered that Ron tended to be rash and pigheaded. Arguing with the voice that sounded like Ron would be pointless: the voice wouldn't listen to reason, just like Ron.
Carefully, Harry made his way through the rubble-strewn basement; over chunks of brick and wood, past shattered pieces of furniture, to the damaged stairs. Judging by the damage, he would have to jump over the few missing steps, but otherwise, he would be with Hermione in just a few moments. He hoped that she would be able to cure the growing ache in his chest.
"What's the point of being here?" a masculine voice asked somewhere on the ground floor.
Harry froze on the stairs and strained his ears.
"We're looking for the Mudblood's companion," another male voice answered.
"Hey, I don't like that word," the first scolded.
"You didn't go to school with that bitch," the second grumbled. "I was a year ahead of her and she still got on my nerves. Ruddy Mudblood thought she was better than anyone else."
"Fine, I still don't like that word."
"You're such a sissy."
"Piss off, Carmichael," the first shot back. "And I bloody well know we're here looking for her companion. But what I don't understand is why. It's a pointless since he's obviously dead; blown to a million bits."
Harry dared to raise his head to ground level and looked around. A dozen feet away were two wizards milling about. He assumed by their robes and the way they walked that they were Aurors.
"Yeah, Bulstrode certainly did a number on her floo connection didn't she?" Carmichael said. "Paranoid bint rigged it to blow if her heartbeat stopped. Brilliant but bloody paranoid."
"So why the hell are we looking for Granger's companion?" the first wizard repeated. "Whoever he is, he's dead. I'm surprised Granger survived, to be honest."
"We're here because Shacklebolt recognized Granger and he called in McGonagall. He thought the old bird could reach Granger. Carmichael scoffed. "There's no hope with that Mudblood—she's around the bend and then back some. McGonagall thinks Mudblood was too weak to have killed anybody. That is why we're here: to find a wizard—who is dead—and then report back to Shacklebolt."
"They have Hermione," the voice that sounded like Ron echoed through Harry's head. "You let her get nabbed!"
"You have to go find her," old Hermione, the way she sounded before those filthy Death Eaters touched her, commanded in his mind. He didn't need her words to know this. They took her away from him! Hermione was the only thing he had left in this world—his last glimmer of light. He needed that light back, by any means necessary. He gritted his teeth in anger and frustration. His fingers gripped his wand tightly and he took a step up the stairs.
"Let's just go back to headquarters and tell Shacklebolt we found his remains scattered about," the first wizard offered. "We can say that they were too small to identify."
Harry needed to know where they had taken Hermione so that he could rescue her and these two knew where she was.
"Good enough for me," Carmichael agreed.
From the shadows of the stairwell, Harry flicked his wand and nonverbally cast a Banishing Charm. A fifty-pound chunk of brick and mortar whisked through the air and crashed into the back of the first wizard's knees. The wizard cried out in pain as his bones splintered and shattered.
As his companion collapsed to the ground, Carmichael spun around. By his shocked expression, Harry guessed Carmichael thought he was looking at a ghost. Harry couldn't blame him. Since his time under Voldemort's care, he was sickly pale and deathly gaunt while his now white hair dangled from his brow and obscured his eyes and mutilated face. Harry knew that it gave him an inhuman appearance. The mere sight of his face often caused his and Hermione's playthings to cry out.
Carmichael began to pull out his wand, but it was too late. The pale man flicked his wand once more, casting Sectumsempra. A scream ripped through Carmichael's throat as the spell gutted him like a fish. The Auror looked down and saw blood and partial digested food pour out of a deep, nine-inch gash in his abdomen. He fell to his knees.
"Oh, shit!" Carmichael murmured. He was instantly shivering and Harry knew that the eviscerated wizard didn't have much time left.
Harry casually walked up to the two fallen wizards. The one with broken legs was fumbling with his robes, desperately trying to withdraw his wand. While Carmichael was kneeling and trembling, his blood and gore spilled out of his stomach and pooled on the floor around his knees. Harry squatted next to Carmichael and dipped his forefinger into the wizard's gaping wound. The dying wizard gasped and muttered so softly that only Harry could hear.
Rolling his finger in Carmichael's wound, Harry coated his digit with blood.
"P-p-please... h-help m-m-me..." Carmichael groaned out.
Harry ignored Carmichael's pleas much like a lion ignores a bleating sheep and walked over to a section of a nearby wall that was still standing. He took his bloodied finger and began writing, using the Auror's blood like ink. When the blood on his finger ran dry, he went back to Carmichael, dipped his finger into the blood again and returned to the wall to continue writing.
"I-I-I'm dying, Paul..." Carmichael said to his companion.
"Hang in there, Eddie," Paul said as he continued to tug at his pockets. Such an ordinary task proved extremely difficult. The severe pain of his shattered legs caused his hands to tremble and fumbled at his pocket. His fingers brushed at the tip of the wand's handle but only succeeded in pushing it deeper into the pocket.
Carmichael continued to wail weakly when Harry crouched down next to Paul. The pale man grabbed the back of the Auror's head and jerked it so that he was facing the wall. There, in great bold crimson letters, were the words: "WHERE IS SHE?"
"I- I don't know w-what you're talking about?"
Harry knew the wizard lied. He gave Paul's head a strong jerk and pointed to the words on the wall again.
"Somebody... please... help me..." Carmichael whimpered. "For the love of all that's holy..."
"Listen, I'll tell you where she is." Paul looked to his companion and watched as the life slowly ebbed out of him. Swallowing hard, he told Harry, "But first you have to help my friend over there."
Harry looked at the injured man and he measured his options. Then he waved his wand at Carmichael's neck. Paul's heart skipped a beat when he saw his fellow Auror's head roll off his shoulders and tumble across the floor.
Harry pointed to his message on the wall once more. Even though he did not speak, Paul recognized that the unknown wizard would not compromise or reasoned with. If he wanted to see another day, Paul knew he had to answer.
"She's at Hogwarts; Headmistress' Office," he blurted out. "McGonagall thought it would help Granger's mindset to be in a familiar setting. But you might as well turn yourself in; there's no way you can get Granger out of there. The castle is crawling with a division of Aurors and Hit Wizards."
Harry released the wizard's head and stood up. He had to get to the castle as quickly as he could, regardless of Paul's warning. Hermione needed him and the aching hole in his chest grew every second they were apart. He decided to apparate to a secluded alley in Hogsmede and use one of the many hidden entrances to the castle. The Shrieking Shack was out of the question; McGonagall probably knew of it and would have both the Shack and Whomping Willow guarded. But he was fairly certain that she didn't know about the entrance from the Honeydukes cellar. He would get his Hermione back in a short matter of time.
Before leaving, he leveled his wand at the wizard's neck.
"No... wait... I told you what you wanted..." the Auror began to plead, but a nonverbal incantation from Harry stopped him prematurely. Harry had made it quick and painless; unlike his Hermione, screams did nothing for him.
The pale man stood and screwed his eyes shut and focused on the cellar of Honeydukes Sweetshop. It had been ages since he had last been there, but Harry was confident that he could apparate there. A second later, he felt the familiar sensation of being squeezed through a rubber tube. The moment the sensation disappeared, a startled yelp filled Harry's ears.
He opened his eyes and found himself in the storage cellar of the sweetshop. A plump woman standing by the stairwell, taken by surprise by Harry's sudden appearance, gave shout. A red bolt of magic flew from Harry's wand and struck the witch square in the chest. There was no need to kill her—unlike the Auror, she wouldn't be able to warn anyone of Harry's plan to rescue Hermione. He'd be gone down the secret hatch before she woke up and she would have no clue as to where he escaped to The plump witch collapsed to the dusty floor in a heap. .
Harry opened the secret hatch and trotted into the dark tunnel. After creating a beam of light from his wand, Harry ran as fast as he could toward the castle. Remembering that he had difficulty squeezing through the gap in the statue that hid the entrance when he was thirteen, Harry knew he would have to blow the statue up. Which meant that he would have to act quickly; such a loud noise would alert the Aurors.
A loud, thunderous boom echoed off the walls as Harry used a Blasting Hex on the ancient statue of the hunched-back witch. Harry dashed through the smoking hole. After quickly rounding a corner, Harry hid in a shadowy alcove. He had to catch his bearing; it wouldn't help matters if he went off in the wrong direction.
Drawn by the explosion, a pair of Aurors ran past him. The Auror Harry interrogated wasn't lying; the castle was crawling with wizards and witches trying to stop Harry from getting Hermione back.
There was a very good chance, he admitted, that he would become overwhelmed by the Aurors. He was more likely than not outnumbered. He wouldn't be able to charge down the corridor without being spotted even though he had to get to Hermione as soon as possible. Pushing the need down, Harry set off to the Headmistress' office, slinking in the shadows.
The ache in his core was spreading, slowly consuming him. It turned him cold and made him shiver. His only friend, the last thing he had in this world, was taken away from him. And Harry knew that she was the only one who was able to chase away his pain. Knowing Hermione's condition, she would be worse off than he was. She was probably scared and shivering; huddled in a corner, fearing that the terrible things that happened to her the last time she was captured would happen again. Harry made a vow to himself as he snuck through the halls; he would never let Hermione be afraid ever again.
Lost in his thoughts and distracted by the ache in his core, Harry forgot his caution and slipped out of the shadows long enough to have a team of Aurors thirty feet ahead of him spot him.
"There he is!" one shouted as he led the charge to Harry.
Harry launched three Blasting Hexes at the group before sprinting down another hall. The first hex hit its target and blew one of the Auror's legs into gory chunks. The other two blasted the floor and wall in front of the group, giving Harry an extra second in his escape.
They were shouting behind him, calling for their fellow Dark Wizard hunters. Harry could hear a dozen pair of feet pounding toward him from every direction. Subtlety was no long an option for him.
Two Aurors rounded a corner a few feet in front of Harry and he flicked his wand; casting Sectumsempra again. The two Aurors screamed in pain as the spell split their bellies open. Harry looked over his shoulder to find another Auror taking aim at his back. In the blink of an eye, Harry Banished a nearby suit of armor into his would-be assailant. The Auror let out a muffled cry when the metal armor crashed into his face at blinding speed.
Harry felt no remorse for his actions nor did he feel sympathy for the people he was hurting. They were keeping him from Hermione and therefore, had to suffer.
He bolted up a stairwell with a pack of Aurors close behind. Once at the top, Harry spun around and pointed his wand at the steps before casting another Blasting Hex. The stairs erupted in a shower of rubble and rocks. Three Aurors screamed in panic as the steps beneath their feet crumbled. They clawed futilely at the air as they tumbled through the void and down several stories.
The destroyed stairs forced the rest of the Aurors to backtrack. As they ran back the way they came, a few shouted vulgarities at Harry and threatening vengeance for their fallen comrades.
Harry had given up all pretenses of hiding. Anyone in the way of him rescuing Hermione would surely know that he was coming now. He ran down the middle of the hall, keeping an eye out for any who opposed him.
As he neared the Headmistress' office, the hairs on the back of his neck prickled. Harry could feel someone watching him. He stopped dead in his tracks and spun around, waving his wand, seemingly wildly in the air. A fountain of red ink sprang out of the tip of his wand like a fountain. The ink splashed on the walls, paintings, and decorations all around Harry. A surprised cry emanated from thin air a few feet to Harry's right. A pair of disembodied, ink-coated feet told Harry that a Disillusioned Auror was there.
Harry leapt at the air above the feet. The invisible person grunted when Harry crashed into his belly and tackled him to the ground. Out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw a wand rematerialize as it flew through the air, obviously knocked out of the wizard's hand when Harry tackled him.
The disfigured wizard punched and kicked blindly at his unseen enemy. The man beneath Harry sputtered and groaned with each strike and feebly tried to block Harry's frenzied blows. Harry grabbed hold to the sides of the man's head and slammed it roughly into the stone floor once, twice and a third time. The wizard stopped struggling and Harry stood.
Slowly, the Disillusionment Charm ended, revealing Kingsley Shacklebolt. A pool of blood grew under his bald head. Harry didn't take the time to see whether or not Shacklebolt's chest was still rising and falling as he stepped over the Auror's body. All Harry cared was that the Auror was no longer a threat to him.
Harry eyed the gargoyle hiding the entrance to the Headmistress' office. Even if he had a tongue, he wouldn't have wasted time guessing the password. Harry pointed his wand at the wall surrounding the statue and cast four Blasting Hexes, two for the top corners and two for the bottom, effectively separating the gargoyle from the wall. The stone statue groaned and creaked as it crashed to the ground.
Harry scampered over the ruined statue and dashed up the stairs. He threw open the heavy wooden door and stormed into the office.
"Stop right there, Potter!" McGonagall cried out. She was standing opposite him with her wand leveled at his chest.
The office had changed a great deal since the last time he was in there. At least two dozen wardrobes of all shapes, styles, and sizes lined the walls. Harry knew that McGonagall wouldn't have this much clothing, let alone stored in her office. She was hiding Hermione in one of them. More likely than not, the old witch had hastily transfigured various items into these wardrobes when she heard the scuffle outside.
"Potter, listen to me," McGonagall's tone wasn't her usual stern manner, but was soft and compassionate, "you and Miss Granger need help. You cannot keep doing these horrible things."
Harry eyed the wardrobes, thinking. McGonagall was trying to buy time in order for Aurors to show up. That was why she was talking with him, hoping to either reason with him or distract him long enough for help to arrive. The old witch obviously thought that Harry would waste time open each closet, one by one, looking for Hermione.
"Miss Granger... Hermione needs help, counseling, as do you," McGonagall said. Her concern was genuine; she truly did want to help. McGonagall was one of Harry's favorite teachers; she was strict, but always fair. Also, she was compassionate and understanding, always keeping an eye out for her students. He respected her for that. But Harry was positive that the old witch had no idea as to what it was that he and Hermione needed; this was proven by the fact that McGonagall separated the pair. If she had wanted to help them, she wouldn't be standing in the way.
It would only be a matter of time before a pack of Aurors swarmed into the office. Harry didn't have time to listen to the old witch's prattle nor did he have the time to search through the wardrobes. Even if he still had the ability to speak, he wouldn't call out to Hermione because she would likely be in a near catatonic state and completely unable to respond. She needed her precious screams as much as Harry needed her touch.
Then, it came to him. With a fire in his eyes, he glared at the old witch. McGonagall feared what was about to happen and began to wave her wand. Harry charged. McGonagall's wand snapped down and Harry could feel the magic spring forth. He dodged the spell (no doubt a Transfiguration spell in hopes of turning Harry into something harmless) and jumped at the witch. His free hand shot out like a rocket and he viciously drove his thumb into McGonagall's right eye, crushing his former professor's eyeball in the socket. The old witch howled in agony and fell to the floor.
"H-Har-Harry?" Hermione's weak voice came from a wardrobe on Harry's left. "Is that you?"
Hermione took strength from McGonagall's screams as Harry hoped. He jumped over the whimpering McGonagall and tore at the wardrobe where his friend's voice was coming from. The door's hinges splintered as Harry wrenched it from the wardrobe. There, sitting on the floor of the cabinet like a frightened and lost child, was Hermione. She looked up at him with a tear-stained face. Her lip quavered pathetically and she reached up to him as she sobbed, "I thought I lost you again!"
Harry bent over, scooped her up into his arms, and clutched her tight to his chest. Light, chaste kisses graced his cheek as Hermione snuggled up to him. The ache in his chest subsided rapidly at her touch, as he knew it would.
"Harry, Hermione, listen to me," McGonagall stated through her pain and she stood on trembling legs. Her hand pressed to her ruined eye as she pleaded: "You both need help. I want to help you, heal you, but I can't it if you leave."
"Oh, look, someone we can play with," Hermione cooed to Harry while eyeing their former instructor. "I think her screams will be nice; make me all warm inside."
Harry shook his head; there'd be no time for that.
"Aw, too bad," Hermione pouted. "Perhaps we'll catch up to her next time?"
Hermione's dainty fingers took Harry's wand out of his hand. She tapped it on the destroyed wardrobe and muttered "Portus."
"No, stop, please," McGonagall begged. She tried to walk over to the pair but her knees gave out and she fell onto one of the other wardrobes. Despite her pain, she pressed on: "Don't run. I can help."
As the wardrobe next to Harry shook and glowed, Hermione mocked the old witch; "'Help!?' Bah, like you know anything about us, you hag! You know nothing about us! Keeping us apart, stupid fool!" she yelled.
As the wardrobe stopped shaking, Harry could hear a number of footsteps rushing up the stairs. With Hermione held tightly in his arm, he reached for the portkey-wardrobe.
"PLEASE NO!" McGonagall shouted. "I CAN HELP!"
With a familiar tug behind his navel, Harry and his Hermione left Hogwarts.