Warnings: Strong Violence, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme
Era: Various Pairings: Various Pairing
Characters: OCs, Helga, Voldemort, Regulus, Lucius, Fenrir, Hermione, Other Canon
*Written for smileandfrown's 'Quote' challenge on HPFF* These are the stories of Hogwarts and the family that called it home.
Part Four: Hogwarts
In the end, nothing remains but a memory. One that is happily forgotten…
Hogwarts Era: Susan
Authors Note: This chapter is about war so don't be surprised with all the death and sadness.
The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. – Mark Twain
*For the family tree please see the images section in my profile*
They all stood there, watching as their supposed leader, their uncalled messiah, told them to do nothing. Not to help him or start a revolution, just to stay hidden in the Room of Requirement and wait. It was something none of them agreed with and those closest to Harry voiced their opinions sternly.
There were several rounds of 'yes'' and 'no's' thrown about and everyone was getting very tense. Susan recoiled her body slightly closer to Ernie Macmillan and he put his arm around her. This much fantasized about return of the great Harry Potter was not going anywhere near the way they had all thought or planned.
The arguing was broken only by the sudden appearance of the ethereal Luna Lovegood as she walked in through the passageway behind Ariana's portrait. Several people followed her in and the circle around Harry became much more crowded.
In this new surge of people, the mood seemed to shift and Harry, after a brief discussion with his two closest friends, began to open up about what they were really up too. As Susan listened to the tale of the diadem and subsequently watched Harry and Luna leaving through the passage way into the castle, she wondered what any of this had to do with stopping Voldemort.
"Hermione," she said, trying to get to her friend before someone else engaged her in conversation. Susan grabbed hold of Ernie's hand on her shoulder, feeling it slip off as she moved, and dragged him along with her. There was no way she was letting him out of her sight, not when the idea of a war with Voldemort loomed so close to reality.
"Susan! Oh Susan, I am so glad you're here and safe too!" Hermione cried as she pulled her into a hug, adding Ernie to it when she saw how closely they were connected. "Is everything ok? What about Hannah and Justin?"
"As ok as it can be," Susan said simply, knowing there was no need to explain anything beyond that. Hermione had been in the thick of the battle that raged outside the castle walls, she knew far better than Susan if everything was ok or not. "And Hannah and Justin are still at home. Hannah never came back to school because of her mother and Justin is a Muggle-born so he's hiding out."
"Better be alright," Ernie added curtly, his voice showing the worry and anger they all felt towards not knowing if their loved ones were alive and well or broken and dead.
"Hermione!" Ron cried, suddenly beside them. "I just had a great idea on how to get rid of the…you know what." He pulled her slightly aside and Susan caught words like 'bathroom' and 'parseltongue' as they whispered hurriedly to each other.
Ernie wasn't paying any attention though as his eyes were fixed on the newest group of people emerging from behind the portrait. His closest friends, the two people he had just seconds ago been discussing worriedly, had just walked into the room. He let go of Susan and ran over to them, an act that caused her to look up and almost burst into tears of mixed joy and relief as she say what he was running towards.
She wanted to follow, wanted to fling her arms around her good friends that she had spent so many nights worrying over, but someone grabbed her arm and a loud crashing sound filled the room, seeming to come from all corners of the castle. It sent a shiver down Susan's arm and she looked over to see what was holding her back. When she caught Hermione's eyes however, her mind stopped protesting the grip.
"Susan I need you to do a favor for me," Hermione said and Susan looked over at Ron's puzzled face before asking what she would need. "Ron and I need to go somewhere, somewhere hidden, and we need someone to watch our backs so we don't come out to Death Eaters or worse."
Susan looked over at her friends rejoicing in their reunion and smiled as happily as she could manage when Hannah waved at her vigorously. She turned back to Hermione and puffed herself up so she looked stronger and braver than she felt. "What do you need me to do?" she asked, knowing full well that any mission Hermione was asking her to fulfill would lead directly to her face to face encounters with the people that had caused her family so much pain and strife over the years.
"Ron and I are going to the second floor, to Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. We need people to guard the entrance so that no one can follow us and so we can get out safely." Hermione talked hurriedly and in an extremely hushed voice, making it hard for Susan to follow.
Yet she understood the most important part and knew it didn't matter if she had gotten the details. Susan looked over to her friends again and then back to Hermione, thinking about how she had just asked her to protect her very life. "I will get some people together and be ready."
"Thanks Susan! I know you're a strong witch and I trust you so much! But please be careful! I don't want anyone to get hurt," Hermione stammered as Ron was pulling at her arm and yelling that they needed to get moving.
Susan watched them leave the same way Harry and Luna had before she quickly ran over to her friends that had gathered off in a corner to talk. Hannah almost tackled her with a hug and Justin gave her one that nearly crushed her ribs. She was glad they were ok and that they were here to fight, but there were more pressing concerns on her mind at the moment and she wasn't about to let a friend who was putting their life in her hands down.
"We need to go, Hermione asked me to get some people to guard the second floor, Moaning Myrtle's bathroom," she said quickly and just as quietly as Hermione had. She had whispered the plan and so Susan knew it must be something that Hermione didn't want anyone else to known about. This was a mission solely for Susan to complete.
"Moaning Myrtle's bathroom?" Justin asked confused and the other's had faces that showed similar signed of non-understanding. Yet Susan didn't have time to explain or even time to corral them towards the exit as Harry Potter had just returned moments ago and was now staring at the new mass of faces in disbelief.
Remus Lupin, who had also come through the portrait tunnel recently, asked him what was happening and Harry said that everyone was being instructed to go down to the Great Hall to meet. Susan took this as her cue to get Justin, Hannah, and Ernie out of the room and into the castle so they could head towards the second floor.
But their quest was short lived as they ran into two prefects that ordered them to follow the rest of the crowd down to the Great Hall. Susan cursed to herself as she took a seat at the Hufflepuff table and hoped that Hermione and Ron were still doing ok. At least while the Death Eaters were still outside the castle grounds, she figured there was some leeway as to when she had to get to the prearranged guarding spot, but she in no way wanted to get there late and fail at her task.
As Professor McGonagall began to speak about evacuation, Susan's mind did not even think of the idea of leaving, of running away, and her psyche got an extra dose of encouragement as Ernie spoke up and asked about the people who wanted to stay and fight. Everywhere in the room, she could hear explosions of agreement and then waves of disappointment as Professor McGonagall said that only students of age would be allowed to stay. The spirit to not only defend the castle, but its foundations as well rang very strong with the younger population and Susan felt slightly sad that they were being denied their desire to partake.
She continued to listen to the Professor and grinned with just a hint of smug laughter when she heard about Headmaster Snape. It was a smile that soon faded from her lips though as a chill and menacing voice reverberated off the walls in every corridor. It was the voice of the Dark Lord himself, commanding them to turn over Harry Potter.
A voice behind her sounded, pointed out Harry, and suggesting they get him while they could. Susan jumped up in outrage and turned to face the owner of the voice who she knew as Pansy Parkinson. There was no way of mistaking that shrill, evil tone. And as she stood, turning to defend the better individual, the rest of the Hufflepuff table followed. Gryffindors and Ravenclaws stood as well, all facing down Pansy, wands drawn and ready to defend Harry against any Slytherin that darn make a move against him.
Professor McGonagall cut the tension swiftly however, before anyone had a chance to breathe the first syllables of a spell, and the tables began to empty. Susan was not surprised in the least to see the entire Slytherin table bare and looked over at who else would be staying to fight. So many had stayed, so many she felt insanely grateful for, felt insanely in love with for remaining to defend everyone who couldn't fight, everyone who was forced to leave.
"Knowledge is gained by learning; Trust by doubt; skill by practice; love by love." Susan quoted the words of her heritage and felt a renewed strength wash over her. Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry was finally getting a chance to show what they were made of, how well they taught the generations of students that had filed through its doors. Susan could not be more please that she would be a part of it, representing her family's long history in preserving the ideals of Helga Hufflepuff and the school.
"What's that mean?" asked Justin, not quite understanding why she was quoting something they had learned was once said by their house founder Helga Hufflepuff.
"Hufflepuff said that to my ancestor Annabelle on the first day of classes ever," Susan said, feeling the pride in that fact swell up but pushing it down as it was hardly the time to be boastful. "Its time we show we lived up to her words, come on!"
She pushed herself out of her seat and moved quickly towards the entrance, making sure the others stayed close to her in all the confusion. They rounded the edge of the doors, but didn't make it very far from them when Ernie noted the time, "it's almost midnight!"
Susan stopped, as they all did, and looked at the clock that hung in the entrance way. They had to hurry, but with all the students heading up the stairs to the seventh floor, she didn't know if they would make it before the battle began. She had to pressed on though, Hannah's hand gripped tightly in hers as they pushed through the other students to make it to the second floor corridor in one piece.
As they walked towards Moaning Myrtle's bathroom, Susan began to think of how exactly this would work best. She had gathered Ernie Macmillan, Hannah Abbott, and Justin Finch-Fletchley to help her, that would mean two people on either end of the corridor. "Ernie and Hannah, you two guard the other end of the corridor and Justin and I will watch the end nearest the bathroom door."
"You want us to split up? Shouldn't we stay together and just guard the door instead?" Hannah asked, clearly nervous and letting the fear they all felt slip into the air between them.
"If we split up we can warn the others if we see someone coming and they can't back us all into a corner too," Ernie thought out loud and placed a reassuring arm around Hannah as he lead her away.
This was hard for her, Susan knew, having lost her mother to the Death Eaters. Susan had lost family too, a lot of family, and she was not about to let the bad guys win, much less join her lost relatives.
Screams shattered her reminiscences and the feelings of dread that the battle had finally begun crept into her veins. Shots of light began striking past them outside the windows, some even coming through and causing them to duck out of the way. Susan could hear Hannah scream as a crash sounded at the other end of the corridor.
She felt the desire to run, to save her friends from all this horrid nightmare could throw at them, but her feet stayed rooted to the spot and she watched the dust settle as she prayed for a miracle.
But nothing came. All she could see when the dust finally lay back on the ground was stone and pieces of wood from where the castle wall had been blown apart. It blocked the entire end of the hallway from her view and she looked over at Justin crazy with fear. "Don't worry," he pleaded, yet still felt the same agony as she did.
Hannah and Ernie could be buried in that rubble or they could have been scattered and run off to another part of the castle, perhaps they were even trying to find their way back around to meet them. Susan had to hold strong to that idea to keep herself from faltering. She turned back to face the other end of the corridor, feeling a bit reassured that nothing could come up behind her now, and aimed her wand at the very edge of the wall as it curled around to meet the adjoining passageway.
Yet a sound did come behind her. She wiped around, Justin following her movements as if he was her shadow, and their wands came to rest inches away from the noses of Hermione and Ron. Each of them let out a sigh of much needed relief and Justin asked what they had needed a bathroom for, noting the yellowish items they now carried in their arms.
"It's not important," Ron said quickly, trying to adjust the large amount of items he was holding. "Have you two seen Harry anywhere?"
"Not since we where in the Great Hall, he…" Susan was cut off by the sound of several thuds as the items Ron was trying to hold on to fell to the floor. A loud clanging sound mingled with them and Susan looked down to see the very item her ancestors had died for.
"How…" she stammered, unable to even fathom how or why they had Helga Hufflepuff's cup, much less why it was mangled and seemingly destroyed. "That's…"
Ron picked up the cup before making any move to grab the yellowish items that had also fallen. As he tried to fill his arms again, Hermione answered Susan as politely as her hurried mind could, "I'll explain later Susan I promise! But right now you and Justin should go out and see if anyone needs help."
They felt her there, staring blankly at the spot the cup had fallen, completely lost in memory. It was the bearer of the curse that brought death upon her family, the very reason that the Death Eaters had killed so many of her kin. She screamed, kicked at the air where it had been, and fell into a crumpled heap on the ground.
"Susan, come on," Justin said as he kneeled over her. "You're the strong one! Don't quite on me now!" His words cut deep. Deeper than even she could have imagined as she thought back to when she had learned about her families history with the Dark Lord and about the cup that haunted her their past.
"The fear of death," she said quiet enough so that Justin had to lean over her shoulder and place his ear on her cheek to listen as he continued to try and comfort her. "The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time."
She was quoting something that Justin did not know or understand. It scared him though as he didn't want her to be thinking about such things, "Susan don't talk like that. We're not going to die."
Susan ignored him and stood up, causing him to fall over backwards before he too got to his feet. She stared blankly at the ruble that blocked the other end of the hallway, her expression unreadable. "I am prepared. I lived my life fully and I regret nothing." She said to the pile of stone and bits of timber. Justin looked over at her completely in shock; he could not believe his friend was saying she was ready to die!
Susan turned to face him and for the first time in several hours gave him a hearty smile, something which sent Justin's mind into thoughts that questioned her mentality. "Don't worry about me Justin. I'm not saying that I am going to die, just that I am prepared if I do. It's just an old saying my aunt used to tell me…" she trailed off as imagines of her Aunt Amelia came barging into her mind. Still smiling, still breathing, every vigilante…but apparently not vigilante enough and Susan pushed these thoughts out of her mind just as she had been doing with many others that night.
She shook her body vigorously, as if to free herself from a burden that had latched onto her form. "Come on, Hermione and Ron are done up here so we should join the fight." Justin watched her run towards the open end of the corridor and scratched his head at the strangeness of his friend's behavior before following. There was no denying that Susan had a reason to fight, he just wasn't sure why she was so eager to run off to do something that could possibly get her killed.
It didn't take long either as duels raged all over the castle and its grounds. Susan dodged a curse as Justin came up behind her and sent a jinx at the Death Eater that was trying to attack them. Another curse followed, along with several jinxes, crumbling surroundings, and screams that no one could even being to put into words. It was surreal to see Hogwarts as a battle zone, even to see a battle zone at all, but Susan and Justin continued to fight and protect as many injured students as they could.
But it was never enough. Everywhere they looked there was another battle and another Hogwarts student that was hurt or maybe even… For that very reason, Susan almost felt the urge to cheer as the Dark Lord's words filled the castle again and he announced that he would give them a one hour reprieve from the fighting.
Justin slumped into a heap where he stood and tried to catch his breath as Susan scanned the area in front of them. "We should help get everyone into the Great Hall to get healed," she said, not even acknowledging the other possibility. The possibility that some of the people she had gone to school with, spent seven years of her life with, were now dead.
She picked up a Ravenclaw boy under the arm and Justin jumped up to help her. They carried him into the Great Hall and set him on the raised platform where all the other injured appeared to be gathering. It didn't look like he was hurt bad, probably just a broken leg and a bang on the head, but as Susan watched all the people who had fought enter the hall, she began to realize just how bad things actually where. And this time no amount of pushing would make the thoughts disappear.
Bodies of the dead were lined up in rows on one side of the hall as more and more people approached the raised platform to get healed, some seriously injured. The scene was turning into a horror movie as people cried in anguish and wretchedness while others let out screams that shook her very core. So many dead…her body caved and she landed in a heap of shivers at Justin's feet.
Of all the deaths she had had to suffer through, of all the hardship her family had already faced with this war, she had never wished that on another soul. Now she could not bring herself to admit that she had failed in her mission to protect others from that pain. She had allowed Death Eaters to get past her, to curse and not only maim, but kill the people she was trying to protect. Justin tried comforting her, but there was no comfort for this. No words that could be spoken to ease the mind of a person who saw nothing but how they had failed.
She simply lay on the ground and watched as the faces of her peers turned to bereavement when they learned that a loved one had been taken from them. The Weasley family's pain burned into her mind and she had to look away, instead her eyes began to focus on a not to distant blonde haired girl that was sprawled over the body of what must have been a dear friend.
Susan stood, extremely unsteady on her feet and walked towards Hannah Abbott. Hannah was alive. Hannah…it was all she could think about, even the body that Hannah lay sprawled over became nothing more than a black patch in her vision. She fell to her knees near the girl and pulled back her hair, "Hannah." She looked up, moved just enough for Susan to see the face of whoever she had been crying over.
Ernie Macmillan. Ernie Macmillan was dead. Susan staggered upwards, her eyes scanning chaotically over the cold figures that lay around her. She saw not only one face she recognized but seven and that was only in the general area that she stood. The dead lay for several feet around her and her mind tried to grasp at the twigs of conscious thought she had left.
Justin grabbed her shoulders, appearing behind her and taking in the image of his dead best mate. He sunk to his knees and pulled Susan down with him to hold her in his arms along with Hannah. They stayed there, linked as one hopelessly lost soul, until another sound aside from the lament of mourning that consumed the Great Hall filled their ears. It was the Dark Lord's voice again, this time not menacing but cheerful. Harry Potter was dead.
That was the final straw; the final signal her brain needed to completely snap and she threw Hannah and Justin's arms from her. She stood up and marched out towards the entrance of the castle, beaten only by Professor McGonagall, Harry's two closest friends, and his ex-girlfriend. Their cries of pain no longer had any affect on her.
As more students gathered behind her and the others, Hannah and Justin again at her side, the Dark Lord silenced them, but his spell was easily broken by the sheer amount of power that their emotions held. Several times he cursed them to silence and several times they would break free, there was no stopping the anger they still felt towards the evil being that had brought all this upon them. So much so that one student broke away and tried to act him directly, Hannah gripped Susan's hand so tightly that her fingers went numb. It was Neville Longbottom.
He was punished of course and Susan covered Hannah's eyes as the sorting hat, which had been placed upon his head, was lit on fire. Neville was burning and every second became a life long moment as several students began to rush forward to help him. Everything became frozen in time a mere second later as flashes of scenes began to etch themselves into their minds. Giants and centaurs were fighting, people where rushing at them from the gate that led into the castle grounds, Neville had killed the Dark Lord's snake Nagini.
The battle was on again and nothing was spared this time. Family members of those who had stayed behind rushing into the castle along with the people of Hogsmeade and the centaurs who had come to assist, even the house elves had emerged from their kitchen and where now attacking the Death Eater's ankles with knifes. Susan lifted a few up into the air with her wand so that they had a better advantage in attacking the Death Eaters as Hannah shot off a hex in the other direction.
Everyone more towards the Great Hall and Susan followed the flow of action with Justin and Hannah on her toes. They fought with a renewed passion now; they were fighting for Ernie, for all their friends who still lay on the cold floor. As the defenders of the castle began to circle around the Dark Lord and his last remaining ally, Susan watch Bellatrix fall to Mrs. Weasley and her heart sent waves of approval across the room to her. Seconds later however, her heart stopped entirely as her eyes settled on an all too familiar and yet incredibly mystifying figure.
"His alive!" she shouted to Hannah and Justin as she gripped their arms in disbelief. But her friends didn't answer and Susan heard the hall fall into complete silence. She watched Harry and the Dark Lord circle each other, listened to their talk about how everything had played out.
It was fascinating and terrifying all in the same moment and Susan was only distracted from it by the sun finally appearing over the top of the Great Hall's ceiling. As the final spells where sent out, she did not cover her eyes. She could not bring herself to miss the final moments of the man that had caused her family so much pain. And as he fell defeated to the ground, she felt nothing but a calm finality that everything had been put in its place.
She turned back to Justin and Hannah but was surprised to find that Hannah had slipped away from her grasp and flung herself into the arms of Neville Longbottom. She was weeping for Ernie and exclaiming how scared she had been for Neville as he wrapped his arms around her to give her some meager slices of comfort. Susan smiled up at Justin, "my ancestors can finally rest in peace."
She gave one last look over at the body of the so-called invincible Dark Lord and sighed, relief filling every pour of her body, "and so can the rest of us."
And you thought I was talking about Roger Davies didn't you hehe...but you know what they say: all great wizarding families are related somehow ;)