Felt like updating again. My original plan was to take it up through the battle of Hogwarts, but I'm thinking about going beyond that. Any opinions on the matter?

Chapter Eleven:

The Snake and the Lion

The world had turned to madness in the last year. To begin with, the Wizarding World was now officially in a legally binding sense at war. It was all over the headlines, but no one seemed to care. The murders, disappearances, and fighting had been going on for years. Declaring war on He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was not going to change anything. In fact, he seemed madder than ever and even more people were dying now. Muggles seemed to notice this change the most since it was now their towns being razed in the middle of the night. The Prime Minister was threatening to take this to the United Nations if the violence went much further. Not only would this break the Statue of Secrecy (if anyone believed him) but then the war could spread to other nations. The Sorting Hat was not sure he wanted to find out what would happen if Wizarding society was exposed.

Many Slytherins oddly enough didn't seem to care. They were under the opinion that Voldemort, or the wayward Tom Riddle as the Sorting Hat like to call him, was going to win. Pretty soon the Statue of Secrecy would be broken anyhow and the wizards would be ruling the world as they should since they were the "most-fit". He was of the opinion that Wizards were only as fit as others if they could not come up with their own theories. Muggles already knew Social Darwinism did not work. Gryffindors were in a rebellion to this view. They fully supported the Order of the Phoenix, a secret organization of witches and wizards who fought Voldemort. It was one of Hogwarts best kept secrets; everyone knew Dumbledore was its head.

The professors often had to break up makeshift duels between Slytherins and Gryffindors in the hall. Almost half of them involved Sirius Black. James Potter probably would have also been part of this if it wasn't for the whole of Hogwarts being turned upside down. James was Head Boy this year. The captain of the Marauders, one of Hogwarts' most notorious pranksters, was in charge of discipline. He honestly did not know what Dumbledore was thinking.

"How could you do such a thing?" yelled the Sorting Hat. "James Potter? Head Boy? Do you want the school to implode?"

"This is a recipe for disaster, Headmaster Dumbledore," spluttered Phineas Nigellus Black. "Only any other boy in his dorm would have been more unfit."

"I personally thought that one boy- what's his name- Richard?" stated Armando Dippet while scratching his painted beard.

"Eric," replied the Sorting Hat curtly.

"Yes. Eric. He seemed much more like the Head Boy type," finished Armando Dippet.

"I beg to disagree," responded Phineas Nigellus Black, sitting forward in his painted chair. "I know that he's not the same as the others. He and that Benjamin boy are always off practicing the most odd and dangerous looking magic. They can't possibly be true wizards."

The portraits seemed to mumble amongst themselves at this comment. "I thought they were not allowed in the school," hissed one.

"How disgraceful!" exclaimed another.

"Everyone please settle down!" demanded Professor Dumbledore. The walls silenced their side conversations. "I can assure you all that I looked at all possible candidates. While there were many students in Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff that would have made fine Head Boys I would like to remind you all that we are in a state of crisis. I need someone who has the courage to stand up to anyone whom Voldemort may be recruiting." There was a visible cringe around the room. "This also requires the person to be almost fool-hardy, but mostly brave: someone not afraid to face death. I believe that James has shown this quality most out of all of the students in the seventh year. He's also shown himself to be a natural leader, and most importantly, he has shown compassion even to an enemy who might have died due to another's decision."

"He only saved Severus Snape because Mr. Lupin would have been discovered if he hadn't!" shouted Phineas Nigellus Black.

"If he honestly didn't care about Mr. Snape, he wouldn't have saved him, Phineas," said Dumbledore. "While he might have thought about Mr. Lupin afterwards his motive was definitely to save a life. One doesn't rush into the face of certain death in order to keep a secret. As for Eric, I knew you and many others would have held objections to that appointment, but I feel his attention is elsewhere this year. I personally find that he is a very capable student and a very talented young wizard. His friend has also shown this talent, though his wit is much sharper and more calculating. If Wizarding society was less prejudiced, then I could see Ben maybe becoming Minister of Magic someday."

Some of the portraits gasped. Others nodded their heads in agreement while still others like Phineas Nigellus began yelling at the Headmaster. "What about Eric?" asked the Sorting Hat quietly.

"It's not his time yet," replied Dumbledore. "Plus if you would really pay attention you would see he's more intent on seeing his brother take the title."

"But his brother was in Slytherin!" retorted the Sorting Hat.

"That does not make any difference. He's still the head of the house of Gryffindor," said Dumbledore. "I really wish that you had taken the time to get to know Randolph a little better. He's every bit as brave as his brother. He just shows it in a different way. As for Ben, you will see."

"You better not be subscribing to Prophecies Today!" grumbled the Sorting Hat. The Headmaster chuckled, but did not say anything in response. Instead he turned to the room to once again quiet the portraits.

oOo

The Sorting Hat did see although it was quite some time later. In fact it was the weekend of one of the most anticipated yet unexpected things in Hogwarts' modern history: James Potter and Lily Evans were going on a date. James had been asking her out since their second year at Hogwarts, and for the first time she said yes. The Fat Lady had fainted in her portrait (serves her right) upon receiving the news. It had taken Violet nearly a half hour to revive her. The Sorting Hat laughed about this most of the afternoon, so much that he almost forgot to add a word to his new song. He was wondering if it would be possible to get out and paint a mustache on her in the middle of the night without her or Filch noticing him.

The only people who seemed downright angry about this were Severus Snape and Sirius Black. Severus had always fancied Lily, but she only had thought of him as a friend. The Sorting Hat had never mentioned this to anybody, but he thought that it was plainly obvious. If one just looked at Snape, one could see that he had followed Lily around like a pathetic little puppy dog, offering to carry her books and all that nonsense. Sirius, on the other hand, saw this as coming between his and James' friendship. James and Sirius had always gone to Hogsmeade together. Ever since his Great Uncle Algie had signed the form for him as a birthday present (and before that under James' invisibility cloak) the two of them had not missed a trip together. This was his first time going alone, and James had made it clear that things were to remain that way. Sirius Black was determined that this tradition should not go down without a fight.

This was why the Sorting Hat had meant to stay in the Headmaster's office far, far away from whatever Sirius was plotting. The only problem was that he slept through Friday and on Saturday was thoroughly convinced that it was indeed Friday. He noticed that one of his patches was loose, so he began to journey down towards Hogsmaede. It was a windy day, so travel was easy. As soon as the office window blew open, scattering the Headmaster's forms all over the place, the Sorting Hat hopped off his shelf and asked Fawkes for a lift. After Fawkes dropped him off in front of the fabric store he realized all too late that it was Hogsmeade weekend. He cursed himself and the distant retreating silhouette of the phoenix.

It was only the second Hogsmeade weekend of the year, so the street was bustling with third year students anxious to sport their new privilege. Luckily, there was no sign of either the Potter-Evans date or Sirius Black, so the Sorting Hat made a new plan: he would sneak into the store and quickly buy his fabric (he sure hoped that the witch behind the counter still accepted thrupennies) and then shuffle over to the Hogs Head and let loose Aberforth's goats so he could hijack one and ride it back up to the castle gates. The first part was more complicated than he thought. The witch was not accepting thrupennies like he hoped so he rustled about until a piece of gold fell out from inside and the witch gave him much more fabric than he would have liked. As he was dragging it out of the store he felt someone pick him up.

"Unhand me, you-" he shouted.

"Well that was a rather callous greeting, wouldn't you say Remus?" asked an all too familiar voice. As he turned he came face to face with Sirius Black. Of course he would have the rotten kind of luck to run into the one person he did not want to see that day.

"Mr. Black, if you would kindly put me down I would much appreciate it. I have many things to do and you're stepping on my fabric! I just bought that you know!" he exclaimed.

"Don't you want some help?" questioned Remus. He went and picked up the roll of fabric. "How much did you buy? It looks like you could make an army of hats with this much fabric"

"There was a misunderstanding," huffed the Sorting Hat. "Though I do appreciate your kindness I really must be moving along. I have a goat to catch."

"What?" inquired Peter Pettigrew. Remus and Sirius also looked quite bewildered at this last statement.

"Hey 'Ric! I've found them!" called a voice. Ben came jogging down the street towards their group.

"Quick! We must get away," hissed Sirius.

"It's too late now," said Remus. "It's not like they haven't seen us. Hey, Ben."

The boy was now as tall as Sirius and Remus, although a year younger. He turned a very focused brown gaze at the Sorting Hat. "I hope you weren't plotting something with them."

"Me? With them! Are you mad? I honestly want nothing to do with whatever is going on. I just want to take a nice quiet goat ride back up to the castle," he responded grumpily.

"That really made no sense, unless you're the one always letting Aberforth's goats loose," stated Ben. The Sorting Hat froze. He had been caught! "I see… I'm sure he'll be glad to find out what's been going on for the past however many years. You guys promised James you wouldn't come."

"Not exactly…" drawled Sirius. "We just promised that we wouldn't come near."

"I think in the village qualifies as near," said young master Gryffindor curtly. He walked up to the group. "I honestly can't believe you'd do this to your best friend."

"That's exactly it! He's my best friend. Doesn't he understand that Hogsmeade weekends are what we do together?" bellowed Sirius.

"You guys do everything together," replied Ben.

"That's not the point! It's just that since she has said yes it's been all about Evans! I don't even know if he's still the same James," hollered Sirius, hitting the wall of the fabric store. The owner came outside and yelled at them, threatening to take back the Sorting Hat's copious amounts of fabric. She stormed back inside after Remus apologized for his friend's behavior. "That's why I've got to prank him… we're Marauders… for better or for worse…"

"That's the shittiest reason I've ever heard," said 'Ric. "You could've just told him how you felt."

"Don't forget what happened the last time you let your emotions carry you away," stated Remus quietly. Sirius looked at his friend and then looked away, his face turning red with shame at remembering the Willow incident.

"Fine, but I still want to go to Honeyduke's and Zonko's," grumbled Sirius. Peter and Remus looked relieved.

"That's fine with me!" exclaimed young master Gryffindor. "I've never been there before."

The three Marauders looked flabbergasted. "You've never been to Honeyduke's or Zonko's before?" asked Sirius in disbelief.

"Hell, I don't think Ben and I've ever been the Hogsmeade," announced 'Ric. Peter gasped in dismay.

"But it's right here," said Remus. "What do you guys do in your spare time? Play Quidditch?"

"Read?" inquired Sirius as though the word was bitter on his tongue.

"There's a lot to do on the grounds. It's just better that we stay there…" replied Ben. He looked at his friend in a way that said 'we shouldn't be here right now.'

The Sorting Hat straightened himself up. "Hogsmeade is part of the Hogwarts experience. I myself know just about everything there is to know about the place, so I can show you around as long as you return me to the castle later this afternoon." Young master Gryffindor agreed, although Ben looked quite uncomfortable with the fact.

oOo

Peter munched on a chocolate bar as they reached the edge of town. "Here are the limits of Hogsmeade, beyond which is only mountains and caves," declared the Sorting Hat.

"Are there dragons in the caves?" inquired young master Gryffindor.

"Merlin no! Not for a long time," he responded.

"But there's still a chance…"

"We are NOT going up there. Do you understand?" he replied. 'Ric's curiosity about many of the places around Hogsmeade was going to get him killed. The back alleys, the Shrieking Shack, and now the mountains… it was so obvious that he was a Gryffindor.

"Hey 'Ric, is that your brother?" questioned Remus. Everyone looked up to one of the mountain paths and sure enough there was a man in a dark traveling cloak looking very much like Randolph walking upwards into no man's land.

"Yeah, I think it is," said young Master Gryffindor as though he found it strange himself. "I haven't seen him since he left school. Hey! Randy!" The man did not turn around. Young master Gryffindor, as any true member of the Gryffindor family, proceeded to do the only logical thing: he began running after the man.

"Eric!" yelled Ben. "What are you doing?"

"I've got to see if it is really him!" responded young master Gryffindor.

"You can't do that!" cried out the Sorting Hat. "What if it isn't him?"

"It's better than not knowing," replied 'Ric. He continued along his chosen path.

"Shit," said Ben. "I'm going to have to follow him. Could you guys take the Sorting Hat back up to the school? And maybe send one of the teachers this way. I honestly don't know what to expect."

"Hey, he's our dorm mate. We should take care of this," stated Sirius. "He stopped me from doing something stupid earlier. I should at least return the favor. Besides, the Sorting Hat can just hijack a goat."

"Now listen here. I'm not getting dumped at the city limits-" he responded indignantly.

"Well I guess we're all going," decided Sirius. He took off with the Sorting Hat in tow. No one seemed to protest for his sake, so he came up with some of his own.

"I swear! Put me down! Do you know who I am? I am the Sorting Hat! I once rod on the head of Godric Gryffindor himself! I'm the oldest talking hat in the world and the only one that can think! If you tear me through the middle then I am lost, and you'll never know many things. Hogwarts will cease to exist as before for there will be no houses! You really are a low down vagrant, Sirius Black. First you want to go date crashing and now you're running along as if I'm just a kite. I'll let you know that I am not a kite. You only wish that you were as noble and ancient as me! Noble and most ancient house of Black, my rim! There wasn't even a house of Black back when I was created. You are one son-"

"Of a bitch?" asked Sirius. "I know that already. My mum made sure I wouldn't forget it. Did you know my initials are S.O.B.? I don't think it's a coincidence."

When they reached the top of the path they saw young master Gryffindor hiding behind some tall rocks. They ducked behind there, but unfortunately the Sorting Hat could not see what was happening. From the way they were all positioned he could tell that they were watching something.

"You shouldn't have followed me here," whispered 'Ric.

"We couldn't let you have all the fun," Sirius replied. "So is it your brother?"

"Yeah, it is," said young master Gryffindor. "It looks like there's to be some sort of rendezvous here." Sure enough the Sorting Hat heard several pops of apparation. He really wished someone would put him on their head so he could see something. Then again he'd be in the prime line of danger since he could be easily spotted…

A really, really, really long time ago…

The idea to transport an entire school of young witches and wizards was not as easy as it had sounded. They were already on their third day of the trip and they had not even reached the Irish shoreline. Lord Salazar had suggested flight, but Lady Rowena (the only one with a level head it seemed besides the Great Queen Maeve- Merlin rest her soul) had shot that suggestion down with the obvious fact that they'd be an open target. The only way to accomplish this great feat would be to make an underground tunnel that led out into the forest whilst someone else distracted any potential aggressors. After a pull of newt tails Rowena ended up with the short one; she would be the distraction. Master Gryffindor was severely disappointed and insisted on going instead, however, Lady Helga pointed out that it would be no good for a distraction to be too bold. He would just end up injured by the end of the first day anyhow. Master Gryffindor was forced to accept his position as a guide with Lady Helga while Lord Salazar prepared a fleet for escort and travel across the water.

"Are we almosteth there yet?" asked another student for what must have been the fifteen hundredth time. The Sorting Hat could feel Master Gryffindor's eye twitching under his brim.

"Musteth they always asketh that?" he hissed to Lady Helga. She herself seemed to almost be at wits end. She didn't answer Master Gryffindor's question and instead looked ahead into the forest.

"The trees are thinning outeth," she stated. "We are almosteth out of this unending forest." The students emitted a cheer but Lady Helga put a finger up to her lips to silence them. The Sorting Hat could not help from flipping his brim a bit as well. This only served to annoy Master Gryffindor. "However, we cannot be certaineth that the enemy has noteth gone ahead us us to prepare a trapeth. We musteth send a scout ahead."

She looked to Master Gryffindor who appeared overjoyed at this development. The Sorting Hat wanted to groan. Of course they still had to risk their necks on the most mundane jobs. He didn't have any choice but to let Master Gryffindor take the scouting position. He was the only fully trained wizard in the group, and he had much better eyesight than Lady Helga.

He rushed crouching through the forest like a lion, eyes looking everywhere for aggressors and prey. Lady Helga had been correct about the forest. After about fifty giant footprint-sized steps they reached the very edge of the forest. The coastline was just below. A gentle current was lapping the shore like a small dog. All was quiet. The Sorting Hat sighed to himself in relief. That was when the arrow pierced his fabric.

"Oh Agrippa's longesteth knuckle hairs! I have beeneth shot!" cried out the Sorting Hat. Master Gryffindor ducked out from beneath and began shooting spells at their attackers while the Sorting Hat continued to curse. "May Merlin's ghost hexeth thy bottoms with bat-boogies and dragon pox! Just you waiteth! I shallt cometh at thou in the middle of the nighteth like the cloak of Death! I shallt teareth out thy hair and weave it together into a patch and weareth it over this ugly wound thou hast giveth me!"

"Amazing!" cried out Master Gryffindor. "How hast thou seeneth me?"

"That hateth," proclaimed his opponent. "'Tis more obvious than thy red cloak!"

Meanwhile Behind the Rocks…

Yes, it was best he stay out of sight. While he was sure Randolph would not shoot him or at least apologize if he accidentally did he did not want to take any chances. The Sorting Hat was not even sure who Randolph was meeting all the way up in the mountains.

"What a strange group of creeps," muttered Peter, still slightly out of breath from their hike up the mountainside. "Just look at them all. Their clothes look even worse than Moony's after the full moon- oh, sorry Remus." Peter flushed as Remus gave him a dirty look for the part about his clothes. Remus was very proud of his tweed and overly wooly sweaters, even if one item had to be sacrificed every month.

"I've got to agree with you Wormtail," said Sirius. "Those robes look ancient. What's your brother doing mixing with these types?"

"I don't know," mumbled young master Gryffindor, although the Sorting Hat and 'Ric both knew perfectly well that among certain circles these kinds of people were completely normal.

"Shh! I think they're going to speak," hissed Remus.

"I suppose that you must be the Lord Randolph who has called us all here today," declared the first voice. "I am Lord Sebastian from the south."

"I am Lord Wenceslas from the west," stated a second voice.

"I am Lord Nolan from the north," said a third.

"And I am Lord Elvendork from the east," announced a fourth voice. Sirius had to stifle a snicker.

"But where is his Lordship Lysander?" asked Randolph. For some reason the Sorting Hat was sure he had heard this name before.

"I don't think I've ever been to a meeting where he has been on time," replied the man who had called himself Lord Sebastian.

"Don't be so judgmental, Sebastian," retorted the third voice that apparently belonged to a man called Lord Nolan. "He has to travel the farthest of all of us. You know that the Ministry would love to get their hands on him."

"Indeed they would. I suppose we shall just have to move forward then," said Randolph. "My lords, I call you hear today to discuss the current state of warfare in the Wizarding World."

"Of course they're at war," interrupted Lord Wenceslas. "When people have that much power for almost 700 years they are bound to go to war over it at some point. I honestly don't understand how they did not see this coming."

"Somehow I doubt that's the point Lord Randolph is trying to get to," stated Lord Elvendork. "What is it you ask of us then?"

"Lord Voldemort, as he has chosen to call himself, is gaining power every day. He's persuaded the giants, the werewolves, and the vampires to join his side," continued Randolph. "The very world we live in right now is at stake. I come as a messenger for the Order of the Phoenix asking for your people to join our cause."

"No offense, but I'm not a huge fan of the world we live in right now," interrupted Lord Wenceslas once again.

"Will you stop interrupting!" exclaimed Lord Nolan.

"I'm just making a point!" retorted Lord Wenceslas. "The Ministry doesn't like us already. I don't see what will change. It's still wizards in charge."

"I'm not sure that is the best move for the people of the south," stated Lord Sebastian. "Death Eaters heavily roam the countryside there. We do not wish to become involved in the affairs of wizards."

"I don't think it's the affair of only wizards anymore," responded Lord Elvendork. "The giants don't discriminate whose homes they trample upon. Nor do the werewolves or vampires care if they attack a non-wizard."

"Wait. Do they mean that they are not wizards?" inquired Remus.

"I suppose so," said Ben. He shifted his stance a bit. The Sorting Hat could almost see the cogs trying desperately to work in the boy's mind, trying to formulate a plan that would get the Marauders to leave.

"But they apparated here," Sirius whispered to Ben. "How can they not be wizards?"

"From the sources the Order's spies have in the ranks of the Death Eaters we have found that Voldemort has no intention of extending an invitation to his forces to the mage populations," announced Randolph. "He fully intends on wiping all of you out once he gains complete power."

As the lords began arguing anew, Peter turned to young master Gryffindor. "What's a mage?" he asked.

"How should I know?" questioned 'Ric back.

"Your brother seems to know," replied Peter.

"I haven't seen my brother in three years," responded young master Gryffindor. "I suppose he met them along the way."

"You're lying," said Sirius.

"What makes you say that?" inquired Eric.

"Your left eye always twitches when you're lying," stated Sirius. Eric looked away back at their lookout spot. One of Ben's fists clenched in his lap, but nothing else gave away how shaken he was at the Marauders' observations.

"Well obviously we must pick a side now!" declared Lord Nolan.

"That will only aggravate him more," announced Lord Sebastian. "I still think it's best that we remain neutral as long as we can."

"He is still stronger than we are!" yelled Lord Wenceslas. "He is one of us!"

"But he does not know that yet," replied Lord Elvendork. "He must never find out what it means to be the Heir of Slytherin."

"But what would you all say on your own assuming that Voldemort never finds out about his potential?" inquired Randolph.

"I cannot give my word," said Lord Sebastian.

"We must fight ourselves," stated Lord Nolan.

"We should not get involved," decreed Lord Wenceslas.

"I would like to offer support," responded Lord Elvendork, "but I must wait to see Lysander's take on this."

"I was afraid we'd get hung up on that fact," sighed Randolph. "Where is he?"

"It was foolish of you to meet in broad daylight," hissed a high pitch voice. The Sorting Hat could feel all the fibers of his fabric wind closer together in knots. From behind a rock across the way stepped out a man in a black cloak. His face was paler than anyone's skin really ought to be, his eyes were red, and his nose was reduced to a snake-like slit. The Sorting Hat did not know when the formation behind the rock had changed so that he could now plainly view the circle in which the lords were standing, but he could see the one that everyone seemed to fear now: Lord Voldemort.

Randolph had pulled out his wand, but the others appeared in strange fight stances the Sorting Hat had not seen before. Or maybe he had seen them, but it had been a long time and there were slight changes to the stances that suggested years of perfection and hiding in nature. "I was unaware that someone such as yourself could travel in the open… and without guards," replied Randolph.

Voldemort stared him in the eyes for quite some time before speaking again. "You're stronger than most of the Order's other pawns I've met. Others would have spilled their minds out before me at this point. Unfortunately, you seem to have information that I need. Seeing as you all are scum, I shall just have to rip it from you."

Someone had the decency to pull him down before sparks began flying in the rock arena. Peter was huddled like a baby cradling his head in his hands while the others seemed to have lain down on their stomachs to try and avoid any curses that could come through the cracks. "We need to get out of here," Ben hollered over the noise.

"Are you crazy? We'll get hit!" Sirius shouted back.

"But they'll probably start throwing rocks soon, and then they'll see us," yelled Ben.

"You're kidding!" exclaimed Remus. The earth, however, began to shake in disagreement. Ben motioned for the others to follow him back behind the rocks into the passage. They went one at a time: Peter, Remus, Ben, and Sirius still holding onto the Sorting Hat. Before young master Gryffindor reached the passage the rock in front of him lifted up into the air and split into tiny shards that cascaded down from the skies. The fighting stopped for a moment. The Sorting Hat realized with horror that not only could they see young master Gryffindor, but they could see all of them in the passageway as well.

Lord Nolan lay on the ground, a trickle of blood escaping from his head, but he was still breathing. The other three lords were either holding their hands up in the sky, on the ground, or in front of them. Randolph and Voldemort still had their wands raised at each other, but both of them were now staring at the five trespassers.

"Who are these boys?" questioned one of the lords.

"Yes, who are they indeed?" asked Voldemort. His eyes narrowed, and he shot a spell at Remus. The boy put up a shield charm, but it didn't seem to do any good. He fell to the ground screaming and twisting in pain. "You must be the Lupin boy I've heard so much about. Can't honestly believe the old man let a werewolf into the school. I suppose that those are your 'friends' Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew." Peter yelped at hearing Voldemort say his name, but Sirius' face only grew dark with anger.

"Leave him alone," he howled at Voldemort. Sirius drew his own wand and threw his own curse. Voldemort released the Cruciatus curse on Remus to block Sirius' spell.

"Do you really think you can defeat me?" laughed Voldemort in a piercing shriek. A purple spell flew from the end of his wand hitting Sirius in the chest. With a small moan the boy fell over. Peter screamed and ran away down the path. The Sorting Hat cried out as the man who was once Tom Riddle aimed at young master Gryffindor. Randolph began a new assault, but Voldemort just smiled only as a true snake can smile. "That seems to have touched a nerve. That one looks quite a lot like you. I suppose he is your brother." Voldemort threw a spell at 'Ric that Randolph blocked with a flick of his wand.

That one flick, though, was just enough of an opening for Voldemort. The Sorting Hat had never seen the slicing movement before, but whatever the spell was it sliced right through Randolph. Blood began to pour from the deep cuts all over his upper body and the man sank to his knees before hitting the ground.

"RANDOLPH!" bellowed young master Gryffindor.

Ben stood wide-eyed shaking all over beside the two Marauders lying on the ground. The other lords looked genuinely shocked and horrified, but as the Dark Lord took aim at 'Ric once again they took up the battle where the elder of Gryffindor's descendents left off. The Sorting Hat did not know what to do. There was so much blood coming out of those wounds.

"That spell was created for me by a seventh year," cackled Voldemort. "See the power of young wizards today? Why resist it? We are the strongest."

"But you're old!" cried out Lord Wenceslas. He disappeared in a stream of water to avoid a well aimed curse from the angered Dark Lord, but reappeared right behind him. Lord Nolan seemed to be stirring as he felt something wet and sticky touching his one hand.

Voldemort then blew a spout of fire from his wand and as he blew upon it a giant snake formed in front of him. The three lords backed up from the flaming beast.. The Sorting Hat wanted to climb into the nearest crevice and hide maybe for the rest of his life at this point (which would be forever unless that snake got any closer or it someone dropped a lit cigarette on him or if Fawkes came for a visit on burning day), but fate would not have this, for it was then that young master Gryffindor picked him up.

"What are you doing?" he screamed. Eric just reached into his brim and pulled out an object so very familiar to the Sorting Hat: a ruby encrusted sword. It was his late Master Gryffindor's sword! He was so amazed that he almost didn't realize that 'Ric had placed him upon his head and was now charging at the fiery beast. "NOW THIS IS DEFINITELY NOT A GOOD IDEA!" The snake stuck out it's fiery tongue and just before the Sorting Hat was sure he was a goner, young master Gryffindor sliced it off. The flaming beast shrieked and reeled back. He couldn't hear what young master Gryffindor said above the flaming beast's cries, but next thing he knew 'Ric shot a rod of lightning from the sword that struck the Dark Lord.

The snake crumbled into smoke and ash as Voldemort stood completely still. After only a moment his face formed one of the fiercest, most ugly snarls he had ever seen. The Dark Lord raised his wand and bellowed, "AVADA KED-"

But his unfinished spell launched skyward as one of his feet sunk below the ground. A hole opened up behind Voldemort and Ben stepped back up above ground. The Sorting Hat looked back to where he was sure the boy was only moments before, but sure enough he was not there anymore. Voldemort shot a spell at Ben but a wall formed between the two of them, and the spell only left a little dent. After several vain attempts the Dark Lord apparated out of his foot holding onto a ledge higher above the stone arena.

He aimed at Ben this time, but it was then that the earth began to shake terribly. Voldemort clung to the rock behind him as the arena around them began changing shape. Before the Sorting Hat knew it Ben was beside himself and young master Gryffindor. A wall stood protecting all three of them from falling rock. He could hear the villagers in Hogsmaede screaming below at the unexpected shaking. The Sorting Hat couldn't recall the area ever having experienced an earthquake.

"It's Lysander!" called out Lord Sebastian. The Dark Lord's eyes widened and suddenly Voldemort had apparated away. He did not reappear again.

The shaking stopped, and as soon as it did Eric ran over to where his brother lay. Lord Nolan had dragged himself over there at some point in the fight and had flipped the man over.

"Randolph!" shouted young master Gryffindor. The young man was very pale, not as pale as the Dark Lord, but it did not look good. The Sorting Hat had seen this kind of pale before. Randolph managed to crack open his eyes and he smiled up at his brother.

"You actually put that dumb hat on," he said.

"I take great offense to that!" retorted the Sorting Hat. "Do you-"

He stopped. The Sorting Hat knew this was not the time and place for one of his rants.

"W-what is this spell?" asked young master Gryffindor. "Randolph, we have get you to a hospital. Perhaps Madam Pomfrey-"

"I'll be fine," replied Randolph although blood continued to seep from his wounds and he could hardly stand up. His breath was rasping loudly in his chest between words.

"You're lying," said Eric.

"What makes you say that?" inquired Randolph.

"Your left eye always twitches when you lie," choked Eric. There were tears now plainly falling down his face. The Sorting Hat bowed the tip of his head. He could hear Ben sniffling a bit behind him. Lord Nolan bowed his head and stopped trying to stop up the ever flowing wounds. The other lords bowed their heads for a moment before going back to helping Remus up and looking over the unconscious Sirius. Remus had just come to and he gasped as he saw the scene that lay before his eyes.

"Eric," breathed Randolph, "you've got to promise me one thing."

"What?" young master Gryffindor questioned.

"You can never tell Auror Potter your name."

Cliffhanger! Okay, so this chapter is much longer than I thought, so I'm going to split it into two parts. Hopefully I'll update soon instead of just reading other stories. xD