The Potter Conspiracy
Disclaimer: Don't own it, nor am I making any money out of it.
Chapter Twenty-Seven – The Ceremony of Innocence Is Drowned
November 26th, 1995 – Hogsmeade; The Main Thoroughfare
"You die tonight, you self-righteous fool," the Dark Lord hissed, and raised his wand.
"We shall see," Dumbledore answered calmly, and readied his own wand.
Harry watched from the alley in awe as Voldemort whipped his wand through the air and sent a blast of red, burning liquid at Dumbledore. It flew through the air in a deadly arc before Dumbledore casually transfigured it to water. It fell to the ground in a hiss of steam as the Headmaster deftly side-stepped a pair of ugly yellow curses that followed it up.
A spell flew at Dumbledore from one of the nearby Death Eaters, and Dumbledore blocked it before leveling his wand at the Dark Lord.
"Fulminis," he whispered, and the air was suddenly rent by a deafening thunderclap. Those within earshot found their ears ringing as a jagged bolt of blue lightning lanced from Dumbledore's wand at Voldemort.
The Dark Lord turned sideways and thrust his wand downwards, sending Dumbledore's lightning into the ground at his feet. It reverberated with small tremors from the impact and sent sparks of electricity flying in every direction. Two nearby Death Eaters fell to the ground from the sudden blast of pressure and energy.
Harry knew he needed to rejoin this fight as soon as possible, but his body was shaking badly, his thigh was aching from being punctured, and his side was cold and stiff with blood where Bellatrix had wounded him. He knew that stepping out into the night in this condition would be suicide.
He slipped further back into the shadows of the alley and withdrew a calming draught from the small supply of potions that Proudfoot insisted he carry with him. The draught would ease his shaking, but it wouldn't do anything for the burns he had acquired from the Dark Lord's black fire. The skin on his hands looked raw and red to him in the darkness, but he couldn't tell how bad the damage was.
He raised the potion to his lips, but stopped when a voice from the street suddenly called out his name.
"Come out, Harry. It is time to face your destiny," he heard clearly, and the voice sent chills down his spine. It was Dumbledore, the man who had spent the past 15 years trying to get him killed, calling him out.
Despite his relief that Dumbledore had shown up, he wasn't sure if he could trust him in this fight. He had given an oath to Croaker, supposedly ensuring his safety, but Harry had no doubt that the Headmaster was capable of finding a loophole.
Regardless, he knew he had no choice but to trust him in this situation. This was an opportunity that might not come again. With the two of them battling Voldemort together, he might just have a chance of ending this war forever.
But first he needed to heal himself.
He downed the potion hurriedly and then gingerly lifted his robes away from the wound Bellatrix had inflicted on him. There was a six-inch gash in his side, not very deep, but enough to cause significant blood loss if left untreated. Harry gritted his teeth and cauterized the wound as best he could, grateful that Bones had insisted on his learning basic medical charms. His leg was aching horribly, but he couldn't numb it again without losing some coordination. He would just have to ignore it.
When his shaking began to subside, he took a deep breath and moved back to the edge of the alley. Voldemort and Dumbledore were lighting up the street in an awesome display of magic, drawing the attention of everyone in the area.
McGonagall, Sprout, Flitwick, and a small cadre of other fighters from Hogwarts, recovered from their initial encounter with Voldemort, were fighting a group of Death Eaters to Dumbledore's right, protecting his flank from their attempts at sniping. Other Death Eaters seemed to be pouring into the street from all directions, somehow sensing that this was where they were needed.
Likewise, a steady flow of volunteers from Hogwarts was moving up the street from the south end of the village. Some were sending long-distance curses into the melee, and others were transfiguring debris into fleet-footed, snarling animals. The kneazles that McGonagall had transfigured had been all but decimated, but here and there a transfigured animal of some sort leapt about, creating chaos for both sides.
Harry glanced quickly toward Gladrags and saw Tonks sitting up groggily and shaking her head after having been flung away by Voldemort's curse. His relief was overwhelming, and it gave him the courage to do what he had to.
He stepped out of the alley and knelt, all of his attention focused on Voldemort. The Dark Lord was so encumbered by Dumbledore that he had little attention to spare elsewhere.
This is it, Harry told himself. Time to end it.
He calmed himself and concentrated, and then began an unrelenting spell-chained sequence directly at the Dark Lord.
Reducto—percutio—lacero—confringo—percutio—reducto…Harry chanted in his mind, unleashing a torrent of spells at Voldemort.
The first few spells missed or were blocked, and then Voldemort sensed how much danger he was in. He raised a massive shield toward Harry's onslaught, leaving him open to Dumbledore. Immediately the Headmaster bombarded him with lethal blasting curses, forcing him to dance desperately out of their way. A moment later Dumbledore flicked his wand, and a wolf sprang from the debris behind him and latched onto the Dark Lord's leg.
Voldemort howled in rage and swept his wand viciously across him. Dumbledore twirled on the spot and raised a glowing oval shield, while Harry ducked back into the alley hurriedly, not wanting to encounter what was coming.
A vicious blast of fire ignited the air around him, and he hurriedly threw up his strongest shield, barely able to keep the fire from roasting him.
When it abated, he moved back into the street, where Voldemort and Dumbledore were slugging it out with increasingly powerful spells.
"Ossus Diffringo!" the Dark Lord bellowed, and a wave of oscillating blue light flew at Dumbledore.
He raised his oval shield before him, and the curse impacted with a stupendous crack.
Harry immediately launched a pair of slicing curses at the Dark Lord, forcing him to shield, and Dumbledore took the opening and struck with a powerful bludgeoning curse.
It crashed into the Dark Lord's left side with a loud crack, causing him to flinch violently, and Harry's heart race with exhilaration. They were hurting him.
Before he could renew his assault, however, he came under fire. He looked up to see the Death Eaters regrouping around Voldemort, protecting him from others as he dueled Dumbledore. Harry realized that a group to Voldemort's right was now focused solely on him.
Bellatrix Lestrange was glaring murderously at him, and a wizard he recognized as Rookwood was casting spells in his direction as well. Another wizard whom he did not recognize, but known to others as Jugson, joined them. The trio detached themselves from Voldemort's right side and approached Harry, forcing him to remove his attention from the Dark Lord.
"Shite," Harry muttered, dodging a livid purple curse that exploded into flames behind him. He didn't have time to deal with the Death Eaters. He needed to be attacking Voldemort relentlessly while Dumbledore kept him busy.
He took a step back into the alley for cover, preparing himself for a battle against uneven odds.
"Come out and play," Bellatrix spat viciously, not bothering with her baby talk.
Harry obliged her immediately, enraged that the foul woman was still breathing.
His first spell sailed past her and struck Jugson in the chest, throwing him to the ground and collapsing his sternum in a spray of blood. He coughed once and lay still.
His next spells were blocked by Rookwood, and Harry levitated his metal shield before him just as the pair unloaded on him in rage. He gritted his teeth as the spells struck and then prepared to retaliate.
This was about to get messy.
Hogwarts Castle; Just Outside the Wards
Alastor Moody leaned forward and pushed the magical carpet as fast as it could fly, which, truthfully, was not very fast. He, Hagrid, and a few other volunteers from within Hogwarts had successfully routed the acromantulas, driving the few survivors back into the Forbidden Forest.
Now he was hurrying to Hogsmeade, intent on aiding in the battle wherever he could. With both legs practically gone below the knee, his maneuverability on the ground was almost nil, leaving him useless as a duelist. He had no intention of letting that stop him.
He knew that he was probably committing suicide, but couldn't find it in himself to care.
Since his disastrous encounter with Harry, he had been relegated to training refugees at the castle. Few of them were capable fighters, and Moody could do little more than teach them the basics of defense and combat. He felt it beneath him.
Though bitter about the loss of his mobility, he did not blame Harry Potter as much as he blamed Dumbledore's poor planning. He wasn't privy to the details, but he was aware that Croaker and Bones had arranged some sort of agreement between Dumbledore and Harry. He also knew that it wasn't in Dumbledore's favor.
With all of that planning and scheming having been for naught, he had no trouble disobeying Dumbledore's order to remain at the castle. If he got killed while taking out a few last Death Eaters, so be it.
He would have the advantage of attacking invisibly from the air, as both he and the carpet were disillusioned. But the carpet was unbearably slow. Its top speed was pedestrian compared to a broom, and it could not maneuver quickly. Even worse, a mere blasting curse sent in his direction from below would tear the carpet apart. He had no means of shielding it from harm.
Moody smiled grimly as a small handful of broom riders passed him, all of them moving inexorably toward the battle. It appeared as if at least a few of the civilians from Hogwarts had finally worked up the courage to render aid to Hogsmeade.
As the village approached, the grizzled ex-Auror was horrorstruck at the carnage and chaos before him. The entire village was alight with fire, with only a handful of buildings spared from the bright flames that were raging everywhere.
The main thoroughfare was awash in eerie, flashing lights as several dozen wizards engaged in deadly combat with one another. A block away from the main fighting, he could see two werewolves snapping at each other and rolling in the dirt. He suspected that one of them was Lupin, and hoped that the werewolf wouldn't get himself killed with friendly fire.
Further to the north he could see the red robes of Ministry Aurors battling with members of the Order and teams from Bones Manor. He could easily make out the flaming red hair of Bill and Charlie Weasley in the chaos.
His magical eye picked up several disillusioned presences on rooftops, some recognizable as enemies and others as allies. They were sniping both at each other and at the fighters below. One he recognized as Roland Avery, a notorious Death Eater who had wormed his way out of a prison sentence following the first war. Moody's blood boiled.
He directed his disillusioned carpet toward Avery, and when he was thirty feet away unleashed a wave of bludgeoning spells followed by lethal blasting curses.
Avery never stood a chance. His attention elsewhere, the first of the bludgeoning spells broke his ribs in a loud crunch, and a following blaster tore a gaping hole through his chest. He collapsed against the roof, and Moody smiled in satisfaction as he fell.
Two roofs over he spied a pair of red-robed Ministry Aurors firing haphazardly into the assembled Order fighters, doing their best to harass and maim. One of the fools, he noted, had even failed to disillusion himself.
Moody flew until he was almost directly above them and unloaded with everything he had. The two were torn to pieces before they even realized they were under attack.
Momentarily satisfied with his progress, he paused to survey the scene beneath him. To his north, Dumbledore and the Dark Lord were facing off in a deadly display of magical prowess; the Potter boy appeared to have his hands full with Lestrange and that bastard Rookwood; to his right he saw McGonagall, Flitwick, and a handful of others battling desperately against a swarm of Death Eaters that included Nott and the Carrows. It looked as if Pomona Sprout and Sturgis Podmore had already fallen.
He debated for a split second whether to focus solely on Voldemort, but a shrill scream resounded above the chaos and he made up his mind. Flitwick had just fallen to Nott, his little body mutilated by a blasting curse.
He flew as quickly as he could toward the swarming Death Eaters in a maneuver that a muggle military strategist would have called a bombing run. He bore down on his targets and cast a relentless flow of curses at them.
Alecto Carrow never got the chance to finish the bone-breaking curse she was sending at McGonagall. Moody's slicing curse removed her head cleanly from her body, leaving it to collapse in a spray of arterial blood.
Nott Sr. looked up just in time to see the curse that would paralyze him. It slammed into his chest and pounded him into the ground, crushing part of his spine.
Amycus Carrow bellowed in fury and pain when a blasting spell suddenly ripped his right arm from his body and tossed him to the ground. In desperation he grabbed his wand with his left hand and sent a disorganized array of blasting curses into the air.
Moody tried to dodge, but the last of the salvo tore through the front of the carpet, exploding in his face and sending him reeling backwards and into the air.
He fell thirty feet to the ground, his disillusionment gone and his face peppered with wounds. He landed awkwardly on his back with a huge crash, kicking up a storm of dust in the midst of the remaining Death Eaters. In his last moments of semi-consciousness, he grinned maniacally to see Amycus Carrow ripped to pieces by a curse from the newly-arrived Kingsley Shacklebolt. He closed his eyes in relief as other curses flew about him, decimating the Death Eaters.
He had turned the tide, and that was a death he could live with.
Hogwarts Castle; Just Outside the Great Hall
Draco Malfoy smiled gleefully as he strode through the corridors of Hogwarts toward the dungeons. He had just come from the Great Hall, and the panicked shouts and fearful tears of the refugees there were music to his ears.
He knew exactly what was happening in Hogsmeade, thanks to a brief, coded transmission from his father, and the panic flowing through Hogwarts at the moment made him want to laugh out loud and pump his fist in triumph.
The Dark Lord was finally crushing his worthless enemies, and it would soon be time for the Malfoy family to reign at his right hand.
He would have told anyone who asked that he was bitterly disappointed at not being able to participate in the fighting, but secretly he was relieved that he was safe in the castle. He did not actually want to cross wands with a trained Auror. Or Harry Potter. Or even Neville Longbottom. Draco's ego had taken a beating since the start of the school year. It was assuaged only by the disappearance of Potter and the promise to himself that he would kill Longbottom personally as soon as the time was right.
For the moment, he could do little more than wait. There were too many eyes watching him in the castle. So many so, in fact, that his 'dalliances' with the female population of Hogwarts had been curtailed greatly since the lockdown went into effect. There were now people everywhere, and even some of his housemates' loyalties could no longer be trusted. He made sure to keep Crabbe and Goyle with him at all times, just in case.
Tonight, however, was an exception to that rule. He wanted to be alone, and he wanted to celebrate the Dark Lord's imminent victory.
It was finally time, he decided, to sample what Daphne Greengrass had to offer.
The haughty, reserved girl was considered beautiful by most people within his house, and he was certainly one of them. But she had spurned his casual advances over the past two years, once going so far as tattling on him to Pansy. Tonight he would humiliate the supercilious bitch and take what was rightfully his.
When he finally arrived in the Slytherin Common Room, he looked around in affected nonchalance, trying to discover his prey. And there she was. Seated in a corner and reading some tome or other as she tried to distract herself from the tense atmosphere of the castle.
There were a dozen other people in the room, but none was paying him any attention and there was a constant buzz of nervous conversation. If he were careful, no one would hear his spell.
He approached Daphne casually, cautiously keeping his back to those who were nearest him. When he reached her, his shadow fell across her book and she looked up curiously.
"Imperio," he whispered, a smug grin adorning his face.
Daphne's eyes glazed over immediately.
"Follow me," he whispered, stepping back to let the girl rise and then walking toward the common room entrance. Daphne followed him slowly, a silent war waging within her, but she was unable to overpower the spell.
When they reached the corridor beyond the common room, Draco watched her over his shoulder as she followed. He led her to an unused classroom fifty feet beyond the Slytherin portrait hole and paused in front of it. He turned and held open the door for her in a gentlemanly fashion.
"After you," he leered.
She entered the deserted classroom and stood still, waiting for further instructions. Draco followed her in and then locked the door with all three of the locking spells he knew. Just to be safe, he added a proximity charm that would alert him if anyone came within twenty feet of the door.
He turned and smiled at Daphne, his eyes roving over her body.
"Take off your clothes," he commanded.
Hogsmeade; One Block from the Main Thoroughfare
One block away from the primary action in Hogsmeade, two huge wolves circled each other warily, blood and drool dripping from their jaws. Lupin and Greyback had been attacking, feinting, and dodging each other for several minutes now, each enraged with bloodlust and the desire to mutilate the other.
Both were bleeding from wounds to the face and side, though neither had succeeding in seriously wounding the other. They were ignoring all other sounds of battle, focused only on discovering the right moment to pounce and end the fight.
Greyback, for his part, was more than a little alarmed that the fight had lasted this long. He was a vicious fighter, and had survived many attempts by lesser werewolves to unseat his position as leader of his pack. It unnerved him that a smaller, less experienced werewolf, one that he had turned no less, could give him such a ferocious fight.
Lupin was beyond such thoughts. He had given in completely to the werewolf's bloodlust, and wanted only to rip out the throat of his hated adversary. He was exulting in this fight, for the first time in his life unleashed from all sense of restraint.
He growled and drooled as he circled Greyback, his muzzle flecked with blood where he had scored small hits against his enemy. He knew fewer tactics in such a fight, but was so awash in adrenaline and rage that he was able to counter whatever the larger wolf tried.
Greyback suddenly leapt through the air at him, and Lupin ducked low and snapped at his belly as he soared above him. He snarled in triumph as a chunk of Greyback's flesh tore away in his mouth, leaving a bloody wound behind.
Greyback yelped in pain and surprise, now even more astonished at Lupin's audacity. He pawed the ground and howled in rage. This was something he simply would not tolerate.
Years of experience in such brutal fights honing his instincts, he rushed Lupin head on, feinted to his left, then to his right, and finally launched himself at Lupin's neck from below.
Lupin, inexperienced with this tactic, fell for the feint to the right. He extended himself to ward off Greyback's attack, only to find that the older wolf was not there. He suffered a split second of animal panic before he felt his enemy's jaws close around his exposed neck.
He yelped in terror and began thrashing violently, trying to remove the hold Greyback had on his neck. But Greyback held on for all he was worth, trying desperately to bite through Lupin's hide and sever an artery.
Knowing how hopeless his situation suddenly was, Lupin whined in panic and tore at Greyback with his claws, knocking them both over. They rolled in the dirt and Lupin dug frantically into Greyback's belly, desperate to dislodge him or disembowel him. It was to no avail. Greyback shielded his vulnerable underbelly, and did not allow the deadly claws any purchase.
Suddenly there was a loud snap and Lupin froze in horror. Something in his neck had just broken, and his lower body had gone numb. He lay limply on the ground, panting desperately, as Greyback shifted and bit down harder into his neck.
He was about to die, and he knew it.
A faint trace of human regret rose to the forefront of his mind; regret that he had not been able to kill the beast that ruined his life; that his superb intellect had gone to waste because of his affliction, making him a permanent outcast in the wizarding world; that the curse, in the end, had defeated him.
His vision became spotty, and he suddenly felt cold as blood trickled from his snout and neck onto the dirty ground.
Then there was a shout. It was followed by a loud crunching sound, and Lupin felt Greyback's jaws being ripped forcibly from his neck. He bounced on the ground, and had just enough awareness left to note that Greyback had been tossed into the air, landing in a broken heap right next to him.
Lupin looked into those savage yellow eyes and saw confusion and fear there. In the next instant, half of Greyback's head exploded in a chaotic mess, and he fell lifelessly to the ground, directly in front of him.
Though he could no longer feel anything, Remus Lupin had the small satisfaction of staring into the remaining lifeless eye of his tormentor.
He heard a voice that sounded familiar, like it belonged to one of the Weasleys, and then a shout that was most definitely Tonks. Then the world faded to black.
A moment later, three panting wizards sprinted through the side street where Lupin had fought his last battle.
"There!" shouted a voice as it leapt over the lifeless bodies of the two werewolves. "It's Tonks!"
"Reducto!" shouted Charlie Weasley, and his curse was followed by a silent slicing curse from his brother Bill.
"He's disillusioned!" yelled Proudfoot, right beside them, and launched a vicious slicing curse of his own.
Tonks, who had staggered to her feet and tried to return to fighting after being thrown onto the front steps of Gladrags, had been battling a disillusioned Death Eater for the past minute. In her wounded and disoriented state, she was slowly losing.
She had just stumbled to the ground after failing to block a bludgeoning curse when Charlie, Bill, and Proudfoot arrived from the street behind her. They had been fighting Ministry Aurors in the residential area to the north, and were now able to lend their aid to the heart of the battle.
There was a muffled curse as Proudfoot's spell scored a partial hit against Tonks' opponent. His disillusionment faded to reveal regal black robes and a head of long blond hair.
"It's fucking Malfoy!" Charlie shouted, and launched another curse at the man, but Malfoy had no intention of sticking around against such odds.
He dove into the partially collapsed building next to him and quickly disillusioned himself again, intent on escaping to the rear. A curse sailed through the air above him, but he ran through the rubble of the building in desperation, hoping no one would pursue. He heard the sounds of furious curses launched in his direction as he ran, but they stopped when he reached the rear of the building and stumbled out on to a side street.
He breathed in huge gulps of air, relieved at having escaped without further harm. His opponents had apparently joined the fighting one block over rather than pursue him.
He had been injured earlier by Harry Potter when the little bastard collapsed half of a building on top of him. He had not expected to be in such danger while sniping from the shadows. When he finally pulled himself from the wreckage, he had stumbled upon Tonks and nearly finished her off before the untimely arrival of her colleagues. Now his head was pounding, his thigh was torn and bleeding, and there was a pain in his side that likely indicated broken ribs.
Pausing to heal himself where he could, the elder Malfoy was seized by a sudden sense of dread. It was a very bad sign that defenders were showing up from seemingly every direction. He had not heard a recent report from Travers on the progress of the Ministry Aurors to the north, and that did not bode well at all.
Hogwarts Castle; Outside Gryffindor Tower
Back at Hogwarts, Fred and George Weasley raced frantically out of Gryffindor Tower, sprinting down the corridors toward the dungeons as fast as they could. They were alternately shouting at people who were in their way and screaming for Dobby, who had not shown up despite their cries.
Moments ago they had been using their improved extendable ears to listen in on Draco Malfoy's conversations with other Slytherins. With Dobby's help, they had planted portable ears all around Draco in hopes of learning something useful from him. When the battle in Hogsmeade broke out, they had hurried to their dorm room to keep tabs on him, hopeful that he would unknowingly give them warning if there was to be a simultaneous assault within Hogwarts.
They had once entertained thoughts of fighting alongside Harry or the Order, but a few dueling sessions with Bill in the Room of Requirement had convinced them that their skills were best used elsewhere. Their best weapon was their twisted imagination.
When they had overheard the word "imperio," followed by instructions to follow, their ears perked up with interest. Something appeared to be happening, but they couldn't be sure what.
A few tense moments had followed, during which they deduced that Draco was leaving the Slytherin common room with someone. They could tell that he entered a room a short time later, and then they heard his instructions: "Take off your clothes."
The twins had exchanged a horrified glance and screamed for Dobby. The little elf didn't show up, so they had grabbed their wands and raced out of their room, through the portrait hole, and toward the dungeons, not knowing exactly where they were going but intent on stopping Malfoy from committing rape.
Now they raced through the castle, screaming periodically for Dobby and desperately hoping that he could help them find the right room. The elf's lack of response was troubling.
When they arrived in the Great Hall, they sprinted through it as if the hounds of hell were after them, ignoring the shrieks of surprise and indignant yelps as they pushed frightened people out of their way.
Ron was one of the people lingering aimlessly in the Hall, and when they barreled past him, he yelled out in surprise.
"Hey, what's going on?"
Receiving no answer, he leapt to his feet and ran after them, wand in hand, wondering if the castle was under some sort of attack. The twins were speeding toward the dungeons, and he suspected that Malfoy would be involved with whatever was happening.
Ron had been estranged from his brothers and Ginny since their confrontation in the Room of Requirement, where Molly had tearfully recounted her involvement in the plot against Harry. Bill and Charlie now treated him coldly but cordially, while the twins and Ginny refused to speak to him.
Some part of him hoped that he would be able to help the twins avert some disaster, thus redeeming himself in their eyes. He regretted being involved in the plot against Harry, but he still resented him and the rift that he had caused within his family. His father was dead, his family torn apart, and he blamed it all on Harry's refusal to do his duty and bloody well die.
He panted heavily as he followed the twins, unused to such exertion. When he finally arrived in the dungeons, he came upon the twins systematically unlocking doors near the Slytherin common room.
"What the bloody hell is going on?!" he yelled breathlessly, holding his aching side.
"Shut up, Ron!" Fred bellowed, and kicked in a door that had resisted his first attempt to open it. "Dobby!"
Dobby didn't appear, so the twins kept moving anxiously down the corridor, opening doors where they could and doing everything but blasting them apart when they couldn't. Ron followed in confusion, not knowing what they were hoping to find.
Finally they came to a door that was locked strongly and protected by some sort of weak ward. The twins tried in vain to unlock it, then cursed loudly in frustration.
"Right. Get back," George turned and growled at Ron, shoving him back down the corridor.
He and Fred stood at either side of the door and leveled simultaneous blasting curses at it, causing the door to groan and then buckle with a loud crack. Fred kicked in the remains of the door while George levitated the debris out of their way. When the way was clear, they raced into the room, stunning spells on their lips.
The scene that greeted them made them stop in shock.
A topless Daphne Greengrass was straddling Draco Malfoy on the floor, crying and screaming and bashing the sharp heel of her shoe into his face. She swung with a ferocity that they had never witnessed in another human being, and one look at Draco told them all they needed to know.
His face was broken and bloody, caved in below his right eye, and both eye sockets had been reduced to a pulp by the sharp point of the shoe. Blood streamed down his cheeks from his eyes, and he didn't even flinch as Daphne repeatedly bludgeoned his face.
He was quite clearly dead.
"Merlin," George breathed, shocked out of his stupor when Ron barged into the room and collided with him. Ron's jaw dropped as he took in the scene.
"Mother fucker!" Daphne screamed in fury and unleashed another round of blows on Draco's face, splattering blood all around her. She seemed unaware of the Weasleys' presence in the room.
Fred stepped forward, careful to avoid the growing pool of blood around Draco's head, and grabbed Daphne's wrist. She didn't struggle, and dropped the shoe when she felt the resistance.
"It's alright now, Daphne; come on," Fred whispered, and gently pulled her off Draco's body. The girl virtually collapsed against him, weeping uncontrollably into his chest as he wrapped his arms around her.
He nodded his head at George, and George picked up Daphne's robes from the ground and draped them over her bare back.
Then George turned to Ron. "Ron, get outside. Keep people away from this room. We'll transfigure something to block it, but no one needs to see what happened in here."
When Ron didn't answer, George barked at him.
"What?" Ron blinked, his awareness of the situation finally returning to him.
"Go outside. There will be people coming. Don't let them near the room, and don't tell them what happened. Got it?"
Ron nodded dumbly and stepped out of the room, pausing one last time to look at the body of his former nemesis. As soon as he left, George transfigured a piece of the shattered door into an approximation of what it had been and placed it against the ruined frame. Then he levitated the big wooden desk at the front of the room and placed it against the door.
When he turned back around, Fred was gently stroking Daphne's long blond hair as she shook with sobs, trying to whisper comforting things to her.
"It's over now, Daphne, it's over. You're safe."
"He…he…imperius," Daphne sobbed out incoherently.
"We know," George said soothingly. "You don't have to say anything else."
But Daphne seemed to need to justify herself. "I…broke it…" she sobbed. "He…he….was going to…rape me."
"I b-broke it," she whimpered, "and played along. I only had my shoe…I couldn't…I had to…" she cried, burrowing herself further into Fred's arms.
"We know," he said softly. "We know."
The twins looked at each other over Daphne's broken sobs and shared a silent conversation.
George sighed and stood over Draco's body, considering its dimensions for a moment. They could hear a conversation in the hall outside now, and knew they had to act quickly. He swiftly transfigured Draco's body into a plank of wood, something he would not have been able to do had he been alive, and moved it to a corner of the room.
The rest of the mess was going to be harder to clean up without leaving a trail of evidence.
"Dobby!" George growled, finally angry with the elf for not showing up. He had always answered their calls before tonight.
He and Fred flinched at the sound of a sudden and very loud pop in the corner of the room. A frantic and furious Dobby appeared there, pulling hard on his ears.
"Dobby is being busy!" he screeched hysterically, and popped out of the room again.
"Whoa," breathed George, placing a hand on his chest to calm his suddenly racing heart. "Remind me to be more polite to Dobby from now on. It looks like we're on our own here."
Hogsmeade; The Main Thoroughfare
Lucius Malfoy crept through the shadows a block away from the main fighting, disillusioned but still very cautious. After escaping from the Weasleys and Proudfoot, he had circled back around toward the main street, trying to ascertain what was happening.
If he could find another safe place to snipe from, he might be able to help rescue them all from the disaster he feared was imminent.
He crept closer to the main thoroughfare, and, to his horror, saw a sea of defenders from Hogwarts and Bones Manor on the scene. The Carrows and Nott looked to be dead, and the Death Eaters around his Master appeared to be dwindling as he combated Dumbledore. He could see Harry Potter battling fiercely with Bellatrix and Rookwood, and wondered if he could hit him from this position.
As he contemplated his next move, the silver ring behind his wedding band suddenly turned fiercely hot, glowing a momentary red even beneath the disillusionment, then became cold and dull.
It was the ring he used to monitor Draco's well-being, and its current behavior could only mean one thing. Draco was dead.
Malfoy stared at his invisible hand in shock, then dropped bonelessly to the ground, his interest in the outcome of the battle around him suddenly diminished.
A tumult of confused thoughts assaulted him. His heir was dead. His sole heir. But how? How could Draco die at Hogwarts? He was supposed to be safe there. Had he been assassinated? Had he left the castle to come here, despite the dire warnings to stay away?
Malfoy closed his eyes and sighed in exhaustion, trying vainly to convince himself to get up and continue fighting.
While Malfoy mused on the sudden and unexpected death of his sole heir, Harry was battling both Bellatrix and Rookwood in a desperate attempt to take them out of the fight.
He raged internally, knowing that every second he spent on them was a second wasted not fighting Voldemort. He needed to end this, and now.
Fed up with their ability to dance around his spells, Harry aimed his wand at Rookwood's feet and muttered 'supplanto' under his breath. He side-stepped Bellatrix's killing curse just as the schoolyard jinx struck the unsuspecting Rookwood's feet, sending him stumbling backward.
Harry saw his opening and took it, unleashing a stream of blasting curses at the vulnerable Death Eater. Rookwood fell backwards while trying to avoid the first two curses, and the third struck his raised hand in a direct hit.
He screamed as his wand and wand hand exploded, sending fragments of bone and wood everywhere. The former Unspeakable crawled backwards from the scene as fast he was able, desperate to escape and heal himself before Harry or someone else could finish him off.
"Fuck you, Potter," Bellatrix screamed in frustration, and sent a killing curse at him that was noticeably slower than her previous ones.
"Getting tired?" Harry laughed triumphantly, dodging the green curse easily and sending a small swarm of piercing curses at her. One pierced her shoulder and another her new silver arm, and she hissed and put up a shield as Harry continued to bombard her.
A bright red blasting curse suddenly flew through the air at Bellatrix from the far side of the street, nearly buckling her shield. She stumbled backwards and raised another solid shield just as curses from both Harry and his new allies tore into it. Harry glanced sideways to see Tonks and Charlie Weasley running toward him to provide aid.
They were soon engaged fully with Bellatrix, and Harry faced a tough decision. As desperate as he was to finish her off and accomplish some personal revenge, he knew that she was not important. His only real target was currently battling Dumbledore in a ferocious contest, and he was finally free to help decide it.
Reluctantly turning away from Bellatrix as Tonks and Charlie took over for him, he took a breath to steady himself and glanced quickly around.
It was immediately clear that more defenders from Hogwarts and Bones Manor had arrived on the scene, and that the Death Eaters were in imminent danger of being crushed.
His chest swelled triumphantly. For the first time certain that they were winning, he turned his attention to the battle between Dumbledore and Voldemort.
The Dark Lord had just sent a cascade of multi-colored lights at the aged Headmaster, which rapidly coalesced into the head of a ghostly red dragon. It opened its gaping mouth to snatch at Dumbledore, but he swirled his wand in a hurried circular motion and jabbed at it.
The lights that composed the dragon suddenly transformed into a thousand angry bees, which turned and rushed back at Voldemort. Unafraid, he batted them down with a violent blast of air, then dodged as Dumbledore sent a blasting curse at his chest.
Harry clenched his jaw and steadied himself. This is it, he thought, his heart pounding with anticipation.
Moving into a fluid dueling stance, he launched a rapid barrage of blasting curses at the Dark Lord, followed by a piercing curse aimed at his heart.
Voldemort was in the process of destroying a transfigured wolf from Dumbledore when the first curse from Harry arrived. He sidestepped it, showing an unnatural awareness of his surroundings, then raised a shield that gonged loudly as Harry's next curses slammed into it.
They were deflected harmlessly, but Harry's piercing curse burrowed through the Dark Lord's shield with a high-pitched whine and struck him high in the chest.
A split-second later, a blasting curse from Dumbledore struck Voldemort squarely in the left side, twisting him around and sending a hail of torn robes and blood into the air. The curse left behind a shattered and bloody ribcage, exposed for all to see.
Voldemort stared down in disbelief at the small hole in his chest, seemingly unaware of the greater damage to his ribs, then looked up. He sneered maliciously at Harry and stepped to the side just as a curse from Dumbledore sailed by his head and a piercing curse from Harry drilled another small hole into his stomach. He didn't even flinch as it exited from his back.
He reached almost calmly for a medallion that was hanging from his neck, and Harry knew instantly what he was doing.
"No!" he screamed in frustration, desperate to keep Voldemort from escaping.
The Dark Lord's hand closed around the medallion just as the words of Harry's next curse escaped his lips.
"Avada Kedavra!" he screamed in rage, and the bright green curse leapt from his wand and sped toward Voldemort with supernatural speed.
The Dark Lord's eyes widened momentarily before he disappeared from the scene, the curse sailing through the space he had occupied only a split second before.
"Mother fucker!" Harry shouted, and looked around the scene as if the Dark Lord were hiding somewhere. Everywhere the Death Eaters were being overwhelmed, and one by one those who were able grabbed portkeys of their own and fled before they could be slaughtered.
He saw Bellatrix disappear, and the handful of others who were conscious did likewise. All of a sudden there was an absence of people to fight.
Harry looked around wildly, his eyes finally landing on Dumbledore's. The Headmaster was breathing raggedly and was bleeding from a wound on his left arm, but seemed otherwise unharmed. He eyed Harry appraisingly, and looked as if he were about to speak.
"Shut up!" Harry yelled pre-emptively, and turned away to take in the rest of the scene around him.
The devastation was unimaginable. Nearly every building in Hogsmeade was on fire, lighting up the night sky, and there were broken and moaning bodies lying everywhere. The carcasses of werewolves littered the streets, and small explosions were still sounding within homes and businesses as fire consumed them.
As if in slow-motion, the town began to come alive with moving people. Those who were unhurt rushed to the aid of the wounding and dying, doing what little they could. He saw McGonagall sitting on the ground and staring listlessly into space as someone tended to a wound on her forehead. Kingsley Shacklebolt was shouting furiously at someone and pointing at a burning building.
He finally noticed Tonks kneeling in the middle of the street, her entire frame shaking, and he made his way to her.
He stepped over the mutilated body of a Death Eater and noted dispassionately that it was Marcus Flint, against whom he had once battled on the quidditch pitch.
When he reached Tonks, he saw that she was kneeling over Julian Savage's remains, his body broken and battered from his fight with Rodolphus Lestrange.
"Jules," she choked out piteously, her hand running through his bloodied hair.
Harry knelt behind her and embraced her gently, and she leaned into him.
He had no words of comfort for her. He had no words of comfort for anyone at the moment. His eyes roamed the devastated village in shock, still stunned at what had just transpired here. Truthfully, he was surprised that he was still alive.
Parvati's tarot reading had predicted chaos and confusion for this night, and she had been exactly right.
A/N: Phew. That was a bloodbath. I promise there won't be another one of that magnitude. No, Voldemort wasn't mortally wounded, but he was hurt. Both sides got beaten up pretty badly here, and there will be some interesting repercussions from the battle next chapter.
Poor little Draco. Looks like he picked on the wrong girl.
Thanks to scaryisntit, BennyS, Voice of the Nephilim, and Vikingfn0926 for their valuable feedback on the chapter outline. Special thanks to kmfrank for posting his fanfiction spell list at DLP, from which I pulled a couple of the spells used here.
As always, thanks for reading and don't forget to review!