What do you mean, the final battle is upon us?! Harry shrieked mentally.
I mean, be ready. This is it.
Tell me this-- is there any possible way for anyone to fight him on our side? Harry asked quietly.
You'll have to be very creative about it.
"Okay," Harry said as he whipped around and stalked out of the room.
"Harry, what the hell is going on?" Ron asked, starting to get panicky.
"Voldemort's going to attack soon-- this is it," Harry said grimly. "We've got to find Hermione and regroup."
"HERMIONE!" Ron bellowed as they entered the Common Room.
"Not so loud, Ronald!" Hermione hissed. "Do you know what time it is?"
"Voldemort's coming here," Harry said quietly. "We have to act fast." She nodded.
"I can alert the DA with the fake Galleons," Hermione said as she pulled hers out of her pocket.
"We've got to wake McGonagall," Harry said quickly. "We'll be back, Ron." Ron nodded, and Harry and Hermione dashed out of the Common Room under the safety of the Invisibility Cloak.
"Professor! Professor!" they shouted as they banged on her door.
"Potter, Granger, do you know what time it is?" McGonagall said sharply as she opened her door.
"I'm sorry, Professor, but this is important," Hermione said urgently.
"Professor, Voldemort is coming to the school, tonight," Harry said quickly. "He's on his way now."
"Very well, then," McGonagall said with a sharp nod. "Go wake the other Heads of Houses, and tell them what you've just told me. I'll go wake the other members of your House." Harry and Hermione nodded before dashing in the opposite direction.
"Minerva, what in seven Hades is going on around here?" Slughorn panted as he, Sprout, and Flitwick charged after Harry and Hermione.
"You-Know-Who is coming," she told them quickly. "Gather your House and we'll meet in the Great Hall. We're fighting."
"But, Minerva--" Slughorn protested.
"If anyone interferes with our plans to fight, then, Horace, we duel to kill," McGonagall said sharply.
"But Minerva!" Slughorn protested.
"If you wish to leave with your students, we will not stop you," McGonagall continued. "But I will not allow you to interfere with our plans."
"I will meet you all in the Great Hall in exactly twenty minutes," McGonagall said in closing, then left for the Tower.
Harry and Hermione returned to the tower to get Ron, and then they dashed off to the Great Hall.
They were up on the floor when a familiar voice stopped all three dead in their tracks.
"Harry! Ron! Hermione!" a familiar voice called out hoarsely. They all stopped.
"Neville?!" Hermione whispered.
"Neville, you're all right!" Ron exclaimed, obviously relieved. "What happened? Where did you go?"
"I've been hiding in the Room of Requirement with all the others who were sacked," Neville said quietly. "Come on." He entered the Room of Requirement. Ron shrugged and followed him.
"It's Harry! Hermione's here! Look, there's Ron!" whispers went up around the room.
"Neville, how long have you been here?" Harry asked.
"Since Easter," Neville replied. "I'm sorry I never Owled. I just didn't want the Carrows to catch on..."
"Oh, no, I understand completely," Harry waved off the apology.
"How do you eat?" Hermione interrupted.
"This door here" --Neville pointed to a rather small wooden door-- "leads directly to the Hog's Head. The owner, Aberforth, gives us food and water."
"Hello, Luna!" Ron called out. Luna turned, smiled, and waved, then returned to the enlightening conversation she was evidently having with herself.
"What's going on?" Seamus Finnegan asked.
"Voldemort is coming here," Harry told Seamus and Neville. "Hogwarts is fighting."
"Hey there, Harry!" Fred called out as he and George crawled out of the tunnel, followed by Remus and Arthur and Molly Weasley.
"How did you guys get here?" Harry asked as Fred and George made their way to him.
"We got the message--"
"--from the fake Galleons," Fred and George explained.
"We told Dad--"
"--who told the Order--"
"--and it all sort of snowballed," Fred and George finished together. Harry shook his head with a smile.
"What's going on, Harry?" Remus asked as he made his way over. "I Flooed from my office to the Hog's Head, Arthur said there was a passage in..."
"Voldemort's on his way," Harry interrupted his musings. "The professors have already been informed. We're fighting." Cheers went up around the Room of Requirement as students were updated.
"Students will probably be evacuated through that passage," Harry nodded to the wooden door.
"Go go go," Hermione said as she pushed Harry and Ron back up the stairs to leave the Room. "We've got to find out what's happening."
"We're all meeting in the Great Hall. Let's roll everyone!" Harry shouted as he opened the door to the hallway. He, Hermione, and Ron dashed out and raced for the Great Hall.
"Potter, what is the meaning of this?" McGonagall demanded as the three raced into the Hall, where at least half the student body was already present.
"Hermione told the DA, who told the Order," Harry said quickly. "The Order and some others are arriving now and making their way in through the Room of Requirement. Professor, there's a tunnel that connects the Room of Requirement to the Hog's Head. We can evacuate students through there." McGonagall nodded.
"Very well, then," she nodded once. "Once Slytherin and Hufflepuff Houses are in attendance, I shall deliver orders."
"Professor, where is the headmaster?" Harry asked, a frown settling onto his face.
"He left," she said bitterly.
"He what?!" Harry exclaimed.
"I watched him-- he jumped from a window," McGonagall relayed. "Unfortunately, he learned how to fly... probably from his Master..." Harry left his Head of House and rejoined his friends.
"Students will be evacuated through the tunnel in the Room of Requirement," he told them. "Snape ditched. He jumped from a window-- and he knows how to fly."
"Wicked," Ron breathed. "D'you think he'll teach me sometime?"
"Ronald!" Hermione shrieked.
"Right, sorry," Ron said unashamedly.
The Great Hall was in utter chaos. Pajama-clad students sat everywhere, some not even at their own House table. Professors lined the walls, trying to keep their students' chatter at a minimum. Order members and others-- Hogwarts alumnae, DA members, fugitive students-- lined the walls as well. Witches and wizards poured into the Great Hall like a leaky faucet-- every one determined to fight and win.
"LISTEN UP!" Harry shouted. The hall fell silent.
"What's happening?!" a young Hufflepuff shrieked.
"Voldemort is coming to Hogwarts, now," McGonagall said quietly. Gasps came from everywhere. "For those of you who are underage, you will be evacuated out of the school through the Room of Requirement; and those of you who are of age and wish to fight, you may stay. We're fighting." Cheers erupted around the room.
"Prefects, please assist Madam Pomfrey and Mr. Filch in taking your students out that door and into the Hog's Head, where they will be transported immediately," McGonagall started before she was interrupted by a high-pitched, terrifyingly echo-y voice.
"Your efforts are futile," Voldemort's high-pitched voice hissed. Several students screamed. "You cannot defeat me. I do not wish to spill magical blood-- I have great respect for the teachers of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Life need not be taken tonight."
"All you must do," he continued, "is give me Harry Potter. Give me Potter, and not one of yours shall be touched. You have until midnight-- at which time my forces shall be unleashed."
"But Potter's right there! Somebody grab him!" Pansy Parkinson screeched, pointing a bony finger at him. Before anyone could do or say anything, the Hufflepuffs stood. Panic began to wreak havoc over Harry before he realized that they were facing Pansy. The Ravenclaws did the same, followed quickly by the Gryffindors.
"Thank you, Miss Parkinson," McGonagall said brusquely. "Please lead your House to the Room of Requirement with Mr. Filch and Madam Pomfrey."
As each House's underage students left, more and more students remained behind, until a third of Hufflepuff, a smattering of Ravenclaws, and half of Gryffindor remained. McGonagall left her post at the teacher's table to escort underage students out.
"No, Creevey! You must leave!" she called out as she chased down Colin Creevey.
Once the underage students had left, Harry whistled again.
"Kingsley!" Remus called. Kingsley Shacklebolt stood on the platform.
"A plan has been formed between the Order of the Phoenix and the teachers of Hogwarts," Kingsley said to the quieted students. "Professors Flitwick, McGonagall, and Sprout will take groups up to the three tallest towers-- that is, Astronomy, Gryffindor, and Ravenclaw-- where they can see everything, great advantage. Remus, Arthur, and I will take groups out onto the grounds. Someone needs to organize defending the entrances into the castle--"
"We'll do it!" George volunteered, pointing to himself and Fred. Kingsley nodded.
"Everyone who is taking a group, come up here so we divide up the troops!" Kingsley called out.
"'Arry!" Hagrid called out as Harry left the Great Hall with Fred and several other students.
"Hagrid!" Harry exclaimed.
"The Death Eaters are settin' up down in the Fores'," Hagrid told him. "When we hear' You-Know-Who's little announcemen', Grawpy an' I got up here as fas' as we could, didn' we, Grawpy!" Harry saw the half-giant through a castle window.
"Go see McGonagall in the Great Hall," Harry told him. "They're giving out orders in there." Hagrid nodded.
"Stay there, Grawpy, there's a good lad!" he bellowed out the window, then charged down the hallway and into the Great Hall.
All around the group darted statues Harry had passed time and time again in the hallways going to and from class-- and they were all heading for the grounds.
"Let's booby-trap them, shall we, Forge?" Fred suggested.
"Indeed we shall, Gred!" George answered. With pleased smiles on their faces, they threw an object the size of a Snitch at each door they passed.
"Don't tell me what that is," Harry shook his head.
"Why, Harry!" Fred exclaimed in outrage. "I thought you'd be most interested in hearing about our newest product!"
"It's called Keep-Away," George explained. "Good for both security and pranksters alike. It makes people on the other side of the door forget why they were going in the door." Harry rolled his eyes and smiled-- who knew Fred and George would invent something worthwhile!
"I'm going to go up to the Towers," Harry called as he charged off in the other direction.
"Bye Harry!" Fred and George called together.
"Professor Flitwick!" Harry called out as he dashed up the stairs.
"Potter," he squeaked out.
"What can I do? Do you need help?" Harry panted.
"I can most certainly use help! Merlin knows we'll need all the help we can get if we're to win!" Flitwick squeaked.
"Protego Horribilis," Harry muttered, along with a few other choice curses.
What the hell are you using that curse for? His father's voice demanded. That's not going to work.
Thanks for the input, Harry replied sarcastically.
"Gah," Harry moaned as a sudden wave of pain hit him squarely in his scar. He clutched at it blindly; the pain brought him to his knees.
"Severus, your Lord wishes you to accompany him to the Shrieking Shack," Voldemort's high-pitched voice commanded. "The rest of you, I want you in the grounds, now! Bring me Harry Potter alive or it will be your lives that I take!"
The Death Eaters nodded.
"Of course, my Lord," Snape murmured, his head bowed.
"He's going to the Shrieking Shack," Harry muttered to himself, running back downs the stairways.
"What are you doing?" Hermione shrieked as he grabbed her by the arm and dragged her with him.
"What the hell!" Ron exclaimed as Harry did the same to him.
"Voldemort is on his way to the Shrieking Shack with Snape," he said in a low voice as he heard spells being shouted all across the school. "We've got to get there. We've got to protect my father." Hermione nodded.
"Of course," she nodded. "We'll go through the hidden tunnel." Ron nodded.
"Of course, mate," Ron agreed. "Let's go, quick!" Harry took off at a run with his friends behind him. He kicked in the stonewall that protected the path, and dashed down it.
"I can't believe the Carrows didn't seal this passage off," Hermione whispered as they hurried to the end.
"Maybe they thought Snape did it," Ron replied. Harry shushed them as they reached the end of the tunnel.
"Severus," Voldemort hissed, pacing leisurely about the Shack, "you have been a most loyal and obedient follower of mine."
"My master has taught me well, my Lord," Snape said quietly.
"Indeed," Voldemort agreed. "It is a shame, however, that I will have to kill you."
"My Lord!" the Potions master protested. "Have I not proved useful to you?"
"You have," Voldemort admitted. "Your services are no longer required."
"I can find Potter," he said quickly.
"He's desperate," Harry whispered softly to his friends, who nodded marginally.
"Lucius Malfoy can do the same," Voldemort dismissed. He turned his back to the Potions master, who looked like he was going to kill the serpent-like man-- if he could even be considered man.
"You have all put up an outstanding fight," Voldemort said into his wand. His voice reverberated around the grounds. "But you have suffered losses. I will give you exactly one half hour before I unleash my forces once more. Tend to your wounded, relocate your dead. Fighting will resume in one half hour."
"And for you, Severus," Voldemort said, casting a fleeting glance at his faithful follower, "I will return when the fighting resumes. You cannot escape; and if you try, you will die. Am I clear?"
"Of course, Master," Snape said quietly looking down to study his feet.
"Good," Voldemort said softly, waving his wand. With one last glance, Voldemort left.
"Dad," Harry said quietly, revealing his location.
"Harry, get out," his father told him harshly. "If he returns--"
"I will see it," Harry finished. "I no longer have visions, more like a constant stream of what he's doing. I know exactly where he's going, how he's feeling, who he's talking to, what he plans to do next. He does not plan to come back yet, not for at least another twenty minutes. Coward."
"He is going to kill me," the Potions master said softly. It was not out of fear that he said this; but merely a statement of fact.
"No, he won't!" Harry fought fiercely. "I have a plan."
"Am I privileged to know what the plan is?" the man asked. Harry shook his head apologetically.
"You will when you see it play out," Harry told him ruefully.
"I will not let you die," Harry suddenly said sternly.
"You must accept that there is a possibility I will die," Snape said softly.
"It can't happen!" Harry insisted, and for the first time that night, his father saw the pain in his son's emerald green eyes. He blinked, and the emotions disappeared from his eyes.
"It can't happen," Harry repeated.
"We have to go prepare, Harry," Hermione said softly. "We'll be back, sir."
"Take care of yourselves," he said gruffly. "Do not worry about myself."
"Can't help it," Harry replied as he went back through the passage.
"What's the plan?" Ron asked immediately.
"Well, it goes like this," Harry began.
"Harry Potter, your friends are dying to protect you," Voldemort's voice came over the grounds once more. "My friends are going to start attacking now, but if you wish for this to end, I will be in the Shrieking Shack waiting for you."
"COWARD!" Harry shouted from the grounds, sabre gripped tightly in hand. "COME OUT AND FIGHT ME YOURSELF!"
"Well, well, well," Voldemort's voice hissed as the snake-like thing came out of the Shack. "If it isn't Mister Potter himself."
"Let's end this, Riddle," Harry snapped.
"How dare you call me Riddle," Voldemort hissed.
"I assure you, it will make no difference what I call you once you are dead," Harry retorted. Everyone all over the grounds had stopped fighting and had formed a ring around the duo.
"There are quite a few things that I know that you do not, Riddle," Harry said, twirling the sabre in his fingers.
"What a lie!" Voldemort spat. "You are but a child, you know nothing!"
"Yes, I know nothing about you not being Slytherin's heir," Harry said, raising an eyebrow at the Dark Lord.
"What is this?" Riddle sputtered.
"You never were Slytherin's heir, Riddle," Harry said sharply. "All this time, it was me. And now, because I am Slytherin's heir, I am going to finish you with the one thing that can beat you."
"What is that? Your mother's love?" Voldemort spat. Harry merely smiled.
"No," he replied. "The most powerful tool Slytherin left his heir: his sabre." And with that, Harry began to circle his opponent. Riddle circled as well, and Harry knew he would have only one shot to get it right. One shot, and then his window of opportunity would slam shut.
"Avada Kedavra!" Voldemort hissed.
"Expelliarmus!" Harry roared, throwing the sabre directly at Voldemort's chest.
With widened eyes and a gasp, Tom Marvolo Riddle, the great Lord Voldemort, the epitome of all things evil, dropped to the ground and died where he fell; the combination of the sabre's stab and the Avada Kedavra, which Harry had repelled and sent back to its creator, killed him nearly instantly. Cheers broke out as the Death Eaters quickly fled the grounds.
"DAD!" Harry roared. "WHERE'S MY FATHER?! DRACO!"
And then everything in Harry's world turned black.
I, iGymnast, am the most sorriest, apologetic human being ever to walk the planet. I have been living in my own personal hell for the last five months. My dad became quite ill after we got back from vacation; he still hasn't returned to work yet. In the meantime, my grandmother's health has deteriorated severely in the past three months-- it's only a matter of time before she passes. On top of that, I sprained my ankles (yes, both of them) a while back, and plus I have an inflamed tendon in my wrist. SO MUCH FUN.
So between all that, my laptop's charger kicking the bucket, taking all kinds of driver's education classes in order to get my driver's license (which I passed-- yay!), the hardest classes I have ever taken in my life, college applications (I got accepted to my first choice school-- guess who's stoked!), gymnastics, colorguard, Christmas (happy holidays, everyone!), and all the blizzardacious snow, I barely have time to breathe. So here I am.
On a side note, I wrote the beginning of this (well, most of it) a WHILE ago, and therefore cannot remember whether I took the section about the Room of Requirement and organizing everyone to fight straight from the book. If I did, then this is my disclaimer. If not, then this is my disclaimer anyways. :)
And I'm not good at writing fight scenes. I already know that. I did my best, that's all I can say.
Uhm, it's obvious that I still don't own this stuff, right? I hope so.
OH and PS, this chapter is called Several Ways to Die Trying and the it's by Dashboard Confessional. I don't know if that makes a difference to you, but there it is.
I haven't started Chapter Twenty yet. All I know is that it is the final one. What is in it? Your guess is as good as mine. I have a few ideas. But then again, I may scrap all of my ideas and come up with a new one. Hopefully I'll have it done and up by February. Love you all!