Chapter Fourteen

Meeting the Enemy

James Potter leapt to his feet as soon as the screams struck the evening air, his wand was out and his face set almost immediately as Auror instinct started to take over. Sirius looked up from what he was doing and pulled his own wand out, moving past the frozen customers to stand next to James. Then the howl struck up, it was hauntingly familiar. Both men had heard it every full moon night since their Fifth Year at Hogwarts, it was the sound Mooney made when he-

"You don't think-" Sirius began, his voice low.

"He has the Wolf's Bane potion," James interrupted, whispering, "Its someone else."

They exchanged looks.

"Everyone stay here!" James called out loudly enough for the pub to hear him, most of the students had gone and all that was left were the regulars and a few of the older children. He looked at his son and his friends, his look clearly indicating he didn't want them to leave either.

"Rosmerta?" he inquired, looking at the witch who owned the pub, "Floo in to the Ministry, tell them I said to send Aurors to Hogsmeade now. It looks like a B thirty-eight."

The witch nodded and immediately went off to do as James asked.

"What's a B thirty-eight?" Ron asked curiously.

"Possible dark magical creature, highly dangerous," Sirius supplied, not quite looking at Ron, "I'll go scout it out from the west side."

"I'll take the east," James nodded, "Disillusion yourself, just in case and keep close to the Three Broomsticks. If anything comes near here I want to know about it."

He looked around the room.

"Listen everyone," he called out, "Do not leave until the situation has been assessed. Keep your wands out and if anything suspicious comes through those doors, stun it, hex it, immobilise, but do not panic."

He spoke so calmly he could have been discussing the time of day.

"Dad-" Harry started, but James had already cut him off.

"Stay here Harry," he said firmly, "Keep low and have your wand ready. We'll let you know when its safe."

Harry nodded, his eyes wide.

The screams were increasing.

James took a deep breath to steady his nerves and then he left the safety of the pub, Sirius going one way, he the other. It had started to rain, a heavy drizzle wet James' hair quickly, plastering it to his head in no time flat. He noticed people were running and screaming, trying to get indoors to safety. Most were Apparating as quickly as they could and that's when James noticed something that made his blood run cold.

Three werewolves bounding down the streets of Hogsmeade.

He cursed softly and ducked behind a low sitting wall, glancing over as the creatures ran off to his right. He muttered a Disillusion charm over himself and watched as they came to a stop.

Ever since Greyback's escape, James had been worried about the repercussions. Fenrir Greyback had a lot of pull in the werewolf community, especially amongst the younger ones who harboured hatred on wizards for their mistreatment. Remus had once commented, sadly, that about half of the ones that supported Greyback had been turned by him and didn't even know it.

Most of the werewolves who had been cursed at a very young age, like Remus, had learned to accept their curse and weren't as quick to take revenge on the general public, but with those turned later in life, you never knew.

James watched as one of the werewolves turned to the other two and made a series of grunts, pointing his paws in different directions. The two with it nodded and took off in the directions the leader pointed.

James' eyes widened.

They were all using the Wolf's Bane potion.

They were all in control of themselves.

This wasn't a random attack or even a revenge killing.

This was organized.

Greyback was not a supporter of the Wolf's Bane potion, he preferred to unleash the full fury of the wolf on unsuspecting people whenever he could. And if it wasn't him behind this attack, then it had to be…

"Voldemort," James whispered, he banged his fist against the wall in front of him in frustration, "Damn it!"

HPHPHPHPHPHPHP

Harry frowned as he looked out of the window, it was raining outside and the grey was beginning to mingle with the buildings around village making the view difficult to make out.

"What do you think it is?" Ron asked no one in particular, his eyes trained to the windows as well.

"Hopefully nothing," Hermione muttered, and Harry noticed her eyes were pointed directly where the moon had been hanging in the sky. Though now it was shrouded in cloud cover as the rain fell.

Harry frowned, his dream of the previous night hitting him full force. There was no way someone was actually going to attack Hogsmeade, was there? And if so, who would do such a thing?

"And everyone would know his name," Harry muttered softly to himself, not softly enough it seemed because Hermione looked up at him in surprise.

"What did you say, Harry?" she asked, her voice quivering a little.

So Harry told her, about the dream.

She went pale and to Harry's absolute shock, her eyes darted right to his forehead.

"What is it, Hermione?" he asked, his voice low so as not to be overheard.

"Harry," she said slowly, "I've been reading up on cursed scars, ever since you told us about the dreams. There's never been one quite like yours, of course, but-but there have been instances where the original caster used the scar as a link to their victim."

"Hermione?"

"What if-" she shook her head, "No, its ridiculous-it couldn't be-"

"Hermione," Harry grabbed her arm unthinkingly, his steady gaze boring into hers pleadingly, "I trust you, just tell me what you think it could be."

"If I didn't know any better," she said softly, her voice as low as could be, "I'd think the person you were dreaming of is Y-"

Crash!Screaming.

Glass scattered everywhere; as Harry pulled Hermione down with him under the table, he could feel the shards hitting his back. One managed to nick the back of his neck and he gave a start at the sudden pain.

"What the heck is that?" he hissed, his hand reached back to feel the warm blood beginning to pool on the nape of his sweater, he looked up to see the entire pub was either under tables or behind counters.

Laughter.

Harry looked up in surprise when he heard it, his gaze darted outside the now broken windows. Wind and rain streamed in, but that wasn't the only thing coming towards them. As though rising from the mists themselves, several black robed figures approached, they were flanked by two huge, grey beasts. Harry's eyes widened as he recognised the imposing figures from illustrations in his books on dark creatures.

Werewolves.

They were still about twenty feet away, but approaching fast.

"We have to get out of here, now!" he half yelled, gripping Hermione's forearm tighter, his eyes scanned the room until they landed on Ron and Ginny. Deciding that the two were closer to the exit than they were, Harry pulled Hermione along with him and they ran, hunched over, to where their friends were.

"Run!" he yelled to the assembled crowd inside the Three Broomsticks.

Chaos ensued, someone looked out the window and Harry heard a woman give a scream, he ignored it and darted right to where Ginny and Ron were crouched down.

"Let's go!" Ron grabbed Ginny.

"What about Luna?"

All four looked over to where Luna Lovegood was still crouched down behind a bar stool, her eyes closed and her blonde hair shining with glass fragments. The trampling of frightened people didn't seem to deter her from her stupor and she remained rooted.

Hermione gave a curse and wrenched herself from Harry's grip. The bushy haired girl had her wand pulled out and pointed it at her friend.

"Accio Luna!" she cried.

Luna gave a small cry of surprise as she was launched across the room towards them, landing neatly beside Hermione. The prefect helped her up and pulled her along with them as they darted from the Three Broomsticks.

Harry reached the door first, he stopped and turned, letting the others pass him through before he too followed. A stream of people were running outside and in the mass chaos Harry somehow managed to lose his friends. People were pushing and shoving to get to safety and Harry was jostled and bumped in every which way and that. Then something surprised him, he felt cool, slender fingers grasp his hand and he turned in surprise to find Ginny's face there.

"We have to get to the Shrieking Shack," she said hurriedly, pulling him out of the crowd, "That's where the others have gone. There's a passage way there, right onto Hogwarts grounds."

They ducked into an alley.

"How do you know?" Harry asked, curiously, his wand in one hand and Ginny's hand still clasped in the other.

Ginny actually blushed.

"My brothers told me," she admitted, "A long time ago…its not important, I'll explain later."

Harry regarded her oddly, but kept silent and nodded.

"How do we get to the Shrieking Shack from here then?"

Ginny looked around, pursing her lips in concentration; there was still chaos in the streets as people ran to avoid the approaching envoy of wizards and werewolves.

"I think-" she began, but was cut off by a loud rumbling. The next thing they knew, a few slates from the roof above them were sliding loose and crashing to the ground beside them. Ginny gave a yelp of surprise and managed to narrowly avoid one of the falling tiles landing on her head. She looked up in surprise to see where it had come from, but her mouth only dropped open in shock.

"Harry," she breathed, her eyes wide, "Look."

Harry frowned and looked up; his heart immediately sank when he recognised what had made Ginny turn pale. The full moon was now shrouded by the very familiar Dark Mark which now hung over Hogsmeade. He took a shaking breath.

"Death Eaters," he whispered, he looked at Ginny, "Come on, we have to get out of here."

They started dodging between buildings after that, running and checking to make sure the coast was clear before they moved on to the next place. Both had their wands out and neither one had bothered to let go of the other's hand. It was safer this way after all, less chance of accidentally being separated.

Harry thought for a moment they would make it unseen.

He thought wrong.

It happened very quickly; one moment they had been crossing the street between Honey Dukes and Zonko's and the next they were somehow in the line of fire. There was a fierce popping noise to their right and Harry recognised Moody and Tonks; Aurors from the train. They were surrounded by others, none of them familiar but none of them wearing the black cloaks of the Death Eaters. These had to be the Aurors.

He almost breathed a sigh of relief when he saw them.

Almost.

There was second round of popping to their left; Harry's eyes widened with horror at the sight of at least a dozen cloaked figures who had appeared.

Harry and Ginny were right in the middle.

"Ginny, look out!" Harry cried, grabbing the red head and pulling her down behind an upturned cart when a robed Death Eater sent a curse at her. She rolled right onto his chest as they huddled on the ground.

"That's three times now Potter," she said and he thought she was actually teasing him, at a time like this? "You've got to stop saving my life, I might start thinking you have a crush on me."

Harry blushed.

"Well, Ron would kill me," he fired back, peaking over their shelter to where the Death Eaters were fighting with the Aurors, "If I let his little sister get hurt."

This was probably the wrong thing to say, but Harry needed her to start taking the situation seriously. Luckily, Ginny seemed to get the hint because her eyes hardened and her muscles tensed to move if the need arose, she too took a peak over at the firing.

"So," she said instead, "Any ideas how to get out of this?"

"Er," Harry looked from Ginny to the Death Eaters, "Try really hard not to get hit and pray for a miracle?"

Ginny laughed.

"Good point," she conceded.

"We should try to get to the side with all the Aurors I reckon," Harry said, studying the flight patterns of the spells, "I don't think being so close to the people who want to kill us is a good idea."

"Yet another good point," she said distractedly, "And how do we do that, exactly?"

Harry pursed his lips.

Aurors attacking one side and Death Eaters the other, no way of running towards the Aurors without getting hit in the back with a spell from a Death Eater.

"I don't have a cooking clue."

Then the howling started.

XXXXHPHPHPXXXXX

Remus curled up into a furry ball in the Shrieking Shack and closed his eyes; he was trying to be patient. His tail flicked a little and he rose his head to look at the old clock hanging on the wall. James and Sirius had put it there for his own benefit years before. He gave a grunt and buried his snout into his paws, shifting his position for the third time in the past two minutes.

He could feel the wolf in his mind, Mooney, he liked to call it. It happened every time he took the Wolf's Bane potion. His human mind became dominant and he could control himself, but he could still feel the wolf part of him.

And Mooney liked to talk.

Not talk exactly, Remus mused, but his wolf's mind might smell something or hear something that made it want to take over. Usually, and this was solely thanks to the potion, the voice was weak and Remus ignored it.

But he and the wolf agreed on one thing that night.

Padfoot and Prongs were late.

Mooney missed his companions and Remus missed his friends.

What on earth could be keeping them?

He was about to close his eyes again when he heard it, a sound that chilled every bone in his body and made his blood run colder than ice. The howling bay of not one but several other werewolves rang out in the darkness under the full moon. He stood immediately and sniffed the air.

Mooney growled.

And Remus let him.

There were other werewolves here, they were on his territory and endangering his pack.

And that was all either Remus or Mooney need know before bounding out of the Shack towards Hogsmeade.

XXXHPHPHPXXX

Sirius saw the other Aurors arriving and quickly joined the battle. There were about nine Death Eaters facing them, two werewolves flanked them and he was sure that more were on the way. Tonks, his pink haired cousin, was facing off against a rather burly looking cloaked figure. Her eyes flashed as she fired a stunning spell at one of the Death Eaters, it was deflected and Tonks found herself on the receiving end of a curse. Luckily, she managed to dodge it and fired a counter spell at her attacker, this one actually finding it's target.

He breathed a sigh of relief, quickly aiming to take out an opponent of his own.

And so it went.

In the back of his mind, Sirius wondered where James was and hoped that his friend had backtracked to find Harry and his friends.

The thought came to the forefront and Sirius stopped dead when he saw said godson and the Weasley girl crouched behind a cart right in the middle of the battle.

Merlin's bloody teeth!

He cursed again as he changed direction, sending a stunner as a large Death Eater, but ignoring the rest. Harry and Ginny were about twenty feet away from him, but getting there was another matter entirely.

He really cursed when he suddenly found himself under attack again.

Damn these bloody Death Eaters!

XXXHPHPHPXXX

"Harry! Go!"

Harry recognised Sirius' voice immediately and looked up to see the dark haired man facing a Death Eater, his attention split between the fight and watching Harry. He came closer and cast a large shield.

"Run!" he yelled at them.

They didn't need telling again.

Sirius ran with them, keeping his shield up the entire time as spell fire brigaded on them. Harry could feel the hot buzz as the spells zipped past him, sweat beaded his brow, his glasses jumped on his face as he ran and through it all he kept a tight grip on Ginny's hand. She screamed once; they had stepped wrong and a spell had landed on the cobble stone pavement right beside them, causing it to explode and for pieces of stone and tar to hit them. Harry shook it off, yanking Ginny along with him. The coppery stench of blood seemed to be everywhere and he nearly stopped in pure shock when they almost ran over a body. The lifeless eyes of the bloody corpse etched themselves into Harry's mind and he wanted to scream.

How had this happened?

There was fire; Harry could see the smoke, it rose up from the buildings and mingled with the darkening grey sky. It had stopped raining some time ago. Sirius had stopped running with them as soon as they had left the war zone, he turned back to help the other Aurors; Harry and Ginny ran on, unsure of where to go and terrified of what might be around the next corner.

"Harry! Ginny!"

Harry and Ginny stopped in their tracks, turning in shock to see their friends hiding in and alley they had just been about to pass.

"Hermione!" he yelped in surprise, "Ron!"

He leapt forward immediately to his two friends, pulling Ginny along with him before letting go. Luna was with them as well, the pale blonde girl looked a little worse for wear, as did they all. She sported several bruises on her face and her lip was split and bleeding. One of Hermione's sleeves was torn, she was clutching her other arm protectively to her side and Harry couldn't help but wonder if she had somehow hurt it. Ron had a nasty gash on his head, dried blood stained the left side of his face and there was a make shift bandage wrapped around it. Judging by Hermione's torn sleeve, she had been the one to make the repair.

"You're okay," he said in relief.

"Why aren't you at the Shack?" Ginny demanded, glared from Ron to Hermione to Luna in turn.

"We went there," Hermione began, "But-"

"A bloody werewolf jumped out!" Ron exclaimed, "We didn't know if there were more in there and we weren't about to find out!"

Harry blinked.

Why would they have werewolves in the Shrieking Shack?

His eyes widened.

"You don't think they know about the tunnel, do you?" he asked worriedly, looking at Ginny then, "You said it went straight onto Hogwarts grounds, right?"

Ginny nodded, her eyes wide.

"But even if they did know about the tunnel," she said, "How could they possibly-?"

"Wolf's Bane potion," Hermione said immediately, "You know, the potion that let's a werewolf keep it's mind during transformations? It must be!"

"But then," Ron gulped, "The werewolves are working with the Death Eaters."

"Precisely," Hermione looked troubled, her bushy brown hair was even more of a mess than usual and there was a bloody gash on her jaw line, "But what could they possibly gain from attacking Hogsmeade?"

Harry shook his head and peaked out from the safety of the alley, the coast looked clear enough.

"Either we find somewhere to hide and wait it out," he said finally, "Or we need to find a way to safety. The Aurors are battling the Death Eaters at the moment, so I don't think we can count on help from them."

The others nodded in agreement.

"What if we moved towards the housing areas?" Luna said suddenly, "There are some caves on the other side of Hogsmeade. An excellent place to find Night Faeries, though I wouldn't go looking for them now. But it should be relatively safe."

They all looked at Luna.

"You know the way?" Harry asked.

She nodded.

Harry licked his lips.

"Alright," he said, "Let's go."

He was about to make the first move out of the alley when his scar suddenly burst into pain and he cried out, doubling over.

"Harry!" he heard shouts, but they were soon drowned out.

Come to me Harry.

He gasped, the pain searing him. In his mind's eye he could see the square near the Quidditch shop, a pair of red eyes waiting for him.

Come to me. Or she will die.

Ally's face flashed in his head for a moment and then it was all gone. The pain subsided and he was breathing hard, the voice in his head was gone, the cold, hissing nature sending shills down his spine.

"-rry! Harry! Are you alright?" Ron's voice came in from a haze and Harry realised his ears were ringing. Or maybe his head was? He wasn't so sure. All he knew, was that Ally was in trouble and he had to get there.

He looked up at his friends and made a decision.

They couldn't come with him.

"Y-you guys go ahead of me," he said firmly, "There's something I need to check something out first."

"Harry!" Ginny admonished, "Now is not the time! We have to get-"

"I wouldn't go if it wasn't important," he looked at them pleadingly and then smiled, trying to laugh off the sensation of coming doom he had in his stomach, "I won't be long, I'm just making a quick detour. I'll be right behind you guys."

He was met with uneasy stares from the four assembled and the vehement shake of heads from the two Weasleys, Hermione was watching him oddly, her lips pursed.

"Harry," she said a serious glint in her brown eyes, "What happened back there? Was it your scar-?"

"No," he said quickly, lying through his teeth, "I just got a little disorientated. Hermione please, I'll be right behind you, I just need to take a look and I'll be careful."

Uneasy looks passed between them.

"No Harry," Hermione said firmly, "We need to stick together. Whatever it is, it will have to wait. There are dangerous creatures and Death Eaters roaming around. We're more likely to defend ourselves if we stick together."

Harry pursed his lips, his heart pounding in his chest so hard he thought the thumps were loud enough for his friends to hear. He had to get away from them. He had to get to Ally.

"Okay," he said, "I guess it can wait. Lead the way Luna."

He'd have to figure out a way as they went. There had to be some way-

"Aarhoooo!" a harsh howl went through the air, not far from where they stood.

Hermione went pale.

"Werewolves only answer the call of their own kind," she said slowly, her eyes widening, "If it's this close and calling more-"

"It's probably smelt us," Luna put in helpfully, though she didn't look too fazed by it, "I suggest we go now, before they come."

No one needed telling twice.

"You lead," Harry said to Luna, nodding out the alley, "Everyone stay close together, keep your wands out and keep your ears and eyes open. Let's go!"

They all started off at a run, Luna was in the lead with Ginny running right beside her. Ron had grabbed onto Hermione's good arm and was leading her along, his face shifting with worry as he glanced at her from the side every now and then. Harry was behind them and that was when he saw it.

A great mass of grey moving towards them. He didn't think, he whipped around almost immediately and aimed a stunner at the werewolf, followed quickly by a body bind. He wasn't taking any chances. The werewolf went down, thankfully, his friends turned back, pausing to look at him.

"Keep running!" he yelled, "I'm right behind you!"

It was lie. He pretended to start running, he waited till they were a little ahead of him, turned away from him.

And then he changed direction.

XXHPHPHPXX

Mooney was so happy to see Prongs' cub and his friends that he forgot none of them knew about him. Remus would have slapped himself hard for that if it hadn't been for his lack of hands. Of course they had run away from him; he was a werewolf for Merlin's sake!

He had been following them since he had seen three of his students in the Shrieking Shack, they had darted away rather quickly after seeing him come out of the tunnel and he really couldn't blame them. He had recognised them though, as Harry's friends and that was when he decided to track down their scent. Sure enough, they had eventually joined up with Harry and the Weasley girl. He had managed to protect them from one of his cursed brethren so far, but it would be hard if they split up.

And split up they had.

The stunner and the body bind did no more than disorientate him for a few minutes, they lacked the strength to affect him properly. It probably would have taken another two or three to do that. He jerked his head though, just in time to see Harry running off from his friends, none of them having noticed yet in the confusion.

What was the boy doing?

He got up slowly, making to follow Harry, but Mooney picked up a scent. Two of his kind, in the direction the other children were going.

Torn between his sense of duty to his students and loyalty to Prongs, Mooney ran in the direction of the other four children. He told himself that unlike Harry, they were in the most immediate danger.

He'd have to help them quickly.

For now, Harry was on his own.

XXHPHPHPXXX

Harry ran.

Through the deserted streets of Hogsmeade, he ran faster than he ever thought was possible. Fear gripped his gut in an iron vice as a million scenarios ran through his head. How had Ally gotten to Hogsmeade? Had the werewolves gotten into Hogwarts? Had they taken her then? Was she safe?

Later, he would be surprised at how much it affected him to know his sister was possibly in danger. In the few short months since he had met her, it appeared a familial bond had formed between them. His initial fondness growing everyday. Harry Potter, though he hadn't realised it yet, had officially turned into a big brother.

He skidded to a halt when he reached the place he had seen in his head. He'd passed this way three times before when going through Hogsmeade with Ron and Hermione. He remembered standing with Ron and gaping at the brooms on sale. It was in that square that he saw it, a cloaked figure with it's back to him.

But no Ally.

"Where is she?" Harry shouted, looking around frantically.

"In Hogwarts I suspect, all safe and sound," the cloaked figure turned slowly.

A glowing pair of red eyes settled on him, a sickly, satisfied smile settling on the creature's thin lips. A snake man, that was the best way Harry cold describe him.

This thing wasn't human.

"Hello Harry," it said, the voice had a hissing, soft quality, Harry was sure if a snake could speak, this would be how it enticed it's prey, "It's been awhile, since last we met."

Harry drew back involuntarily, his heart was beating so fast he was sure the whole of Hogsmeade could hear it. The snake man, the man he was sure he had seen in his dreams, the man he thought he might know, watched him with all the lazy ease of a cat who knew it had a mouse cornered.

No escape.

No help.

"Who are you?" Harry asked, his voice a little shaky, "What do you want?"

The snake man looked amused all of a sudden, a laughter entered his eyes, cold and cruel, they sparked just enough with humour to make Harry feel all the more uneasy. He suddenly frowned, the coolness, the icy pride, the sadistic smirk. It was him. the person in the tunnels, aged and obviously deformed, but it was him.

"Riddle?" he asked, his voice barely a breath.

The amusement died immediately and instead, fiery hatred flood over the man's face.

"Never," he hissed, leaning closer to Harry, fixing him with his feral gaze, "Call me by that filthy muggle name."

Before Harry could respond, the man's wand was pointed at him and he felt a searing pain. It ran through his entire body, like every nerve ending was being beaten raw, his bones were on fire, knives where jabbing into his flesh and he was being dipped in acid. There were no real words to describe the pain.

He screamed.

And his scar, his scar worst of all, felt like it was being torn from his scalp.

Then, as suddenly as it had come on, it stopped and Harry lay panting in a heap, the pain gone, faded now into memory.

"Since you have not received the proper education," the snake man was saying, "I will enlighten you."

He stepped closer to Harry, and laid a hand on his forehead.

Harry screamed again.

His scar hurt like it never had before, he was in a world of pain, but through it he could hear the horrible words the man was saying to him.

"I am Lord Voldemort."

XXHPHPHPXXX

Sirius found himself in a rather awkward situation.

He had helped Harry and Ginny escape the variable war zone that had become the streets of Hogsmeade and had remained behind to help his fellow Aurors capture the rogue Death Eaters. So far, no luck. Whenever anyone got close to defeating one or, Merlin forbid, actually catching one alive, they found themselves battling a werewolf. It was like the Death Eaters had their very own guard dogs.

Guard dogs who were almost resistant to magical attacks.

It took at least five spells hitting them at once to even stun them, knocking a werewolf out completely was something else entirely.

But this wasn't, to Sirius' chagrin, the reason why he was in such an awkward situation. No, the reason he was in a rather awkward situation was because he had just seen Mooney dart right through the confusion of the battle and disappear in the direction he had just sent the kids.

Tonks, despite having just dodged three spells, sent him a scathing, curious and rather worried look. Sirius didn't have time to wonder how she knew what Remus' werewolf self looked like, but the look in her eyes clearly said she did know.

Great, Sirius thought testily, he finally tells someone on his own but fails to mention it's my little cousin!

This didn't get him out of the situation he was now in however. He could carry on fighting, or he could go after Remus and make sure he was safe, or at least that he was in control.

Stupid thought, he berated himself, of course Mooney took the bloody potion. He wouldn't forget!

Still…

Cursing, he fired a string of cursed at the Death Eater he had been fighting and made a run for it.

"I'll be back," he yelled to Shacklebolt as he passed, "Keep the line!"

A brief nod between spell fire and Sirius was off.

As soon as he was out of sight of anyone, he pocketed his wand and transformed into Padfoot, hoping that an werewolves he might meet along the way would ignore a stray dog. His paws tapped softly on the cobble stone road as he run, placing his nose to the ground every now and then in the hopes of picking up his friend's scent.

His ears perked up when he heard screams and a growl instinctively rolled through his throat.

He ran as fast as he could, rounding corner with lightning speed. Not, on later thought, a particularly smart move as he had no idea what was behind that corner, but then, that was just Sirius Black.

He saw the four children, Harry's friends, all their wands out, facing two werewolves. Right beside them, growling menacingly at said werewolves, was none other that Mooney. With a great bound, he joined the children's side, morphing back into himself.

He's have to deal with the repercussions later.

"Stun!" he yelled.

As though this were a signal, the werewolves attacked. Mooney leapt too, managing to grapple one to the ground while Sirius and the kids sent a series of stuns at the other, hitting the creature directly in the chest. The beast went down, writhing backwards with the impact.

"Again!" Sirius shouted, and they all complied.

The beast didn't move, having been hit by ten stunners, it was little wonder. Sirius turned his attention to the second werewolf, only to find it had been taken care of. Mooney stood above the other wolf, panting heavily and not far from them, wand out and ready, was none other than James Potter.

"Jamie!" Sirius exclaimed, momentarily ignoring the presence of the kids to look his friend up and down, "Where've you been? The werewolves-"

"I know," James cut him off shortly, his gaze turning to the children, "Hermione? Ron? Where is Harry? Is he alright?"

"We don't know!" Hermione blurted out, a frantic look on her face, "He was right behind us, we were all together one minute and then the werewolf attacked and-and-"

"We lost him," Ron put him, he looked angry though, "I'm sorry sir. He ran away from us, we don't know what happened."

"Something did happen!" Ginny put in, the red head was still eyeing Remus warily, "Harry suddenly clutched his scar and doubled over and then he was going on about having to check something out. He was really insistent about it, but we told him he had to stay with us-but-but he still…"

She trailed off helplessly, looking down, utterly defeated.

"Did you see which way he went?" James asked, his voice stern.

The four teenagers winced and shook their heads.

Mooney let off a series of grunts and nudged James' hand. Both Marauder's turned to their friend.

"You know where he is Mooney?" Sirius asked, looking from James to the students who were watching the exchange with wide eyed interest, he turned to them and said, "He's a friend, not one of the werewolves attacking."

This seemed to calm them slightly, though he didn't quite miss the fact that Hermione was entirely unsurprised.

That girl is smarter than Remus, he thought with a mental sigh.

Mooney gave a grunt as though in confirmation to Sirius' earlier question and James' eyes took on a set look. Sirius recognised it immediately and he didn't like it. James could be rather reckless at times, more so than Sirius in some cases and although it was rarer these days, it usually meant trouble.

"Sirius," James said, interrupting Sirius from his thoughts and worries, "You stay with them, follow only when it's safe. Mooney, you're with me. We have to find Harry."

"James-"

"Sirius," his friend interrupted him, "If he's here, then we don't have time. Keep them safe."

Without another word, James and Mooney took off with each other and Sirius Black was left on babysitting duty.

"Typical."

XXHPHPHPXXX

"That's not possible," Harry gasped, shaking his head as Voldemort drew his hand away, his scar still hurt, but was now more of a dull thud compared to what it had felt like moments before, "You're-you're gone."

"Gone?" the amusement was back, "Oh no Harry, Lord Voldemort will be here for a very, very long time. though, I suppose I should have you to thank for that."

"Me?"

The Dark Lord looked at him like a teacher did a small child who didn't understand something simple and when he spoke again his voice held much of the same patiently simple tone.

"It seems Wormtail's Forgetfulness potion worked well," he smiled, "It was your blood that brought me back Harry and now I have the same protection your mother gave you. A little ironic, wouldn't you agree?"

At this he put his hand on Harry again, making the sixteen year old yelp in pain and try to draw back. Voldemort just smiled at him, the same patient look. he had all the time in the world and was enjoying playing with his prey.

"I don't know what your talking about," Harry gritted through his teeth, "What Forgetfulness potion? Who is Wormtail?"

"Who is Wormtail?" Voldemort seemed oddly amused by this, "I would have thought of all the people in this world, your father would have told you about his old friend."

Harry froze.

So he had been right, the Wormtail on the Map had been a friend of his fathers, the fourth Marauder. He wiped the thought away, turning his concentration to the situation at hand.

He was terrified, there was no other word for it. He could feel the coldness of fear gripping his stomach. A mass murder had risen seemingly from the grave and was standing right in front of him. He wanted to turn and run away as fast as he could, but he also didn't think he could move. Something seemed to have frozen his feet to the ground and he didn't think it had anything to do with a spell.

Swallowing hard he tried to clear his head, panicking wasn't going to do him any good. Years before he had watched a crime drama on TV, the main character in that had kept the man hold a gun to him talking for as long as possible, until help could come. For a kid who aspired to be a policeman, he had thought that might be what they do.

He didn't know if it would work now, but…

He'd rather delay dieing for as long as he could.

"So how does a-a man rise from the dead?" he asked shakily, licking his lips, "I didn't think it was possible-"

"Uh uh, uh, Harry," the Dark Lord smirked, "I'll keep my secrets."

Well, so much for that idea.

"So what are you going to do?" Harry pushed the question through his throat, trying to make the declaration sound braver than he thought, "Kill me?"

He thought his knees might start clacking together pretty soon, goodness knows his heart was practically doing a tap dance. Voldemort was uncomfortably close and Harry found himself silently praying for help.

"Perhaps," the snake man mused, "I've heard a lot about you, Harry Potter. The Boy-Who-Lived. An amusing title."

He was still smiling, a cruel, cold smile.

"Lost for fifteen years, living as a muggle," he tapped his fingers on his wand and Harry flinched when he felt his wand zoom out of his pocket and right into Voldemort's hand, "I even hear you grew up in an orphanage."

Harry's eyes widened.

Now how the hell did he know that?

"You and I are alike, you know," Voldemort's tone was simpering now, coaxing in a way, "Very much alike. We don't have to be enemies, you could see what your misguided father was blind enough to ignore. There is no good and no evil. Only power."

His tone was entrancing and if Harry hadn't been so terrified, he might have been enticed by the silkiness in his words.

"You have proven to be very resourceful, living on the streets all those years," buttery words, sliding easily from the snake man's mouth to Harry's ears, "Brave and powerful too. You could be great, you know? Despite your…less than fortunate blood. But that hasn't spoiled the pureblood traits, thankfully. Join me Harry, join me and live."

He just insulted my mother, was the first thought that rang through Harry's head. After years of hoping and dreaming of meeting Lily Potter, he wasn't about to let anyone, especially an evil Dark Lord, say anything bad about her. A new emotion started in his chest, hot and spreading. He grasped onto it, used it to beat down the cold fear, used it to feed his muscles and remove the freezing from his legs.

He felt anger rise in him.

"Never," he whispered, eyes narrowing.

"What did you say?" Voldemort hissed dangerously.

"I will never join you," Harry grit out angrily, "You're a murderer and a liar, nothing more and so much less."

Voldemort stared at him for a moment, his red eyes gleaming and laughed.

"Crucio!"

Harry yelled and writhed under the curse, dropping to his knees. Then he felt the snake man's fingers fist through his hair, bringing his head up to face him. The contact made his scar erupt in pain once more, but this time something happened. Harry could see flashes in his head, like from a memory or a dream.

He saw a grave yard, dark and gloomy. Flashes of mousy looking man, a cauldron, something like a monster, deformed, ugly.

"Bone of the father, unknowingly given, you will renew your son!"

A grave. The name Tom Riddle etched into the tomb stone.

"Flesh-of the servant-w-willingly given-you will-revive-your master."

Blood. Screaming. Pain.

"B-blood of the enemy…forcibly taken…you will…resurrect your foe."

A vial withdrawn from the folds of a cloak. Blood poured into the cauldron. Blinding white liquid bubbling, shimmering. A figure rising from it's depths.

"Robe me."

"Yes Master."

The pain and images stopped abruptly, Voldemort released Harry and the boy slumped forward, panting heavily, his hands on the ground in front of him. Then he heard a clatter. Looking up, he noticed his wand right in front of him.

He looked at the Dark Lord in disbelief.

What was that?

"Very well," Voldemort was still smirking, but his eyes were as cold as steel, "But just remember Potter, I gave you the choice. Like your fool father however, you refused. But I have honour, Harry, I will allow you to die like a man. Pick up your wand. Let us duel."

Harry licked his lips and slowly picked up his wand, getting shakily to his feet.

"I'm my father's son," he couldn't help throwing at Voldemort, anger and determination forcing the words out.

"Unfortunately for you," Voldemort sighed with regret, though it seemed more sarcastic than anything else, "You do know how to duel, don't you Harry? First we face one another and bow."

Harry didn't really have any intention of bowing to this mad man and showing any weak spots. The back of his neck being a rather sensitive area.

He wasn't given much choice though, a harsh pressure pushed itself onto his back, making his bend forward. He hissed in pain, trying to fight back against the force. It pushed him down till he could see his toes.

Voldemort barely inclined his head.

The force was magically removed and Harry stood straight, now facing the Voldemort who had his arms wise open.

"Go ahead," he whispered, "Give me your best shot."

And, not knowing what else to do, Harry did the only thing he could think of.

He tried to fight.

"Stupefy!"

The Dark Lord had thrown up his wand to make a shield and a white glow surrounded the area directly in front of him. But no red stream of light flew towards him, no spell hit the shield, no spell came at all.

The spell hadn't left Harry's wand.

"What-?" he began.

This couldn't be happening. Voldemort must have done something, must have done something to his wand. He looked at it quickly, but could find nothing wrong with it at first glance. Could it be a spell?

Voldemort look surprised too and was watching Harry curiously.

"Expelliarmus!" Harry tried again, "Stupefy!"

But nothing worked.

"Are you no more than a Squib boy?" Voldemort laughed, "Filthy mudblood."

Harry looked from his wand to the Dark Lord, his wand that was doing him no better than a stick in this situation. He looked at Voldemort, eyes wide.

Red eyes gleaming, the most feared wizard in the world smirked.

"Goodbye Harry," he said softly, raising his wand, "Avada Kedavra!"

What happened as Voldemort uttered the dreaded curse, happened so fast Harry was amazed he'd even been able to comprehend what was happening. A huge, grey mass of fur, limbs and teeth suddenly slammed into Voldemort, knocking the wizard to the ground and sending the green light of the Killing Curse hurtling into the sky and completely missing Harry.

Voldemort was on his feet in an instant, moving with striking quickness, like an aggravated viper, his wand trained on the werewolf. The wolf growled, ears flattened down on it's head, snapping it's teeth at the most feared wizard of all time.

To say Harry was a little confused would be the understatement of the century.

"You dare-" Voldemort began, but was cut off once again by a shout. A stream of red light shot out and would have hit him in the back had he not turned with a shield ready. Harry's eyes widened when his father seemingly stepped out of nowhere, wand ready and face set in grim determination. Voldemort seemed to be calculating his odds against a fully trained Auror and a werewolf because he suddenly raised his wand. There was a blinding flash and the Dark Mark that had been crawling itself across the darkening sky suddenly pulsed. Howls struck from all over Hogsmeade and then halted at once.

XXXHPHPHPXXX

James tried not to flinch at the light, he kept his wand trained on Voldemort, his eyes starting to water from the strain of keeping them open. He knew this was a signal for something, he could only hope it was a retreat.

Luckily, he was right.

"Your fourth mark against me, James Potter," the Dark Lord hissed before Apparating into nothing with a loud crack.

James panted, lowering his wand and ran a hand shakily through his hair, trying in vain to calm his rapidly beating heart. Mooney gave a long howl and looked at James.

Their eyes met, Remus' amber gaze portraying all the words James needed to know. he nodded slowly.

"I'll wrap everything else up," he told his friend's werewolf form, "Go quickly."

Mooney seemed to nod in understanding. He bounded off on all fours, his strong limbs carrying him away faster than any human could hope to move at.

He swallowed hard and turned, rushing to kneel beside his son's limp form. Harry was staring down at his wand, his own hands shaking a little. James put a hand on his shoulder.

"Harry?" he asked, frowning, "Are you alright? You're not hurt are you?"

Harry looked up from him, his bottle green eyes wide and almost glassy looking, his face pale.

"Harry?"

His son looked down again, shaking his head.

"I'm," he said softly, hesitating for a moment, "Not hurt."

James frowned at his tone, his momentary relief over masked again by worry. Harry hadn't said he was fine, he's just said he wasn't hurt.

James didn't have time to say anything to Harry because there was a shout behind him. He turned in surprise to see Sirius practically bounding towards him, Harry's friends, Ron, Hermione, Ginny and the pale blonde girl he hadn't met formally yet were right behind him.

"Prongs! Harry!" Sirius cried, "You're okay! You're both okay! The Death Eaters and werewolves Disapparated at once just a few minutes ago, we weren't sure-"

"We're alright," James agreed, he watched for a moment as his son's friends darted towards Harry before turning back to his friend, "The other Aurors?"

"From what I know? Three serious injuries," Sirius rattled off immediately, "Two deaths, don't know the civilian count yet and one…one biting."

James closed his eyes and sighed sadly.

"Who?"

"Jan Botha," Sirius said softly, "He's not taking it well."

James nodded. Botha was a bright young Auror who had joined them about two years back, having just moved to the UK himself, eager and willing to learn, he had a calm head on his shoulders and a steady wand arm. He'd hate to lose him just because he was now cursed, but Fudge's laws…

"We'll cross that bridge when we get to it," he muttered and jerked his head in the direction Mooney had taken off in, "Remus went that way, you can find him?"

"Already on it," Sirius nodded and he left.

James' gaze turned to Harry and his friends.

XXXHPHPHPXXX

"Harry," it was Ron's voice, "Harry? Are you okay?"

He didn't respond, slumping down to the ground he carried on staring at his wand, disbelief mixing with confusion, sadness and frustration.

"Are you all alright?" that was his father's voice.

"Mr. Potter," Ginny chirped up breathlessly, "What happened to Harry?"

"I-" his father stated.

But Harry wasn't paying attention.

His focus was on the small stone on the ground in front of him.

Swish and flick, Flitwick's words echoed in the back of his mind from all those months ago. He had been sitting at the dining room table in Remus' apartment, the small Charms professor taking his turn at tutoring Harry. He'd gotten it right his first try. It was a simple spell, First Years learned it.

"Wingardium Leviosa," he muttered, carrying out the movements.

Nothing happened.

He tried again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

The stone stayed as still and unmoving as it had before and Harry was feeling the steady flow of panic spring through him. he could feel the warmth of his wand in his hand, it was like he was standing in front of a fire on a cold night, just close enough to brush the irradiating heat, but too far to escape the chilly air. He was reaching for something, but no matter how far he stretched, he just couldn't get to it.

He tried it again.

But the result was the same and suddenly he felt like something, a part of him he had always taken for granted, was now gone.

He swallowed thickly and fought the tears that were beginning to well in his eyes.

"Harry?" it was Hermione's voice, he hadn't even noticed her arrival, "Harry, we're going back to the castle now. Harry? Is something wrong? Are you hurt?"

He couldn't answer.

"Harry?" this time it was Ginny's voice again, she had sidled up to crouch next to him, "Did they hurt you? Did-"

Harry stared down at his wand in disbelief, his green eyes wide with shock. He looked up at his friends, something seemed to have died in him.

"You don't understand," he said, his voice a deathly whisper, "I just tried-I-I can't do magic anymore!"

XXXHPHPHPXXX

I apologize, profusely. But you know, when life happens, it happens. I'll attempt to get the next chapter up sooner, but I can't make any definite promises as I have a lot to do before October rolls around. But I will try.

Thank you once again for all the reviews, feel free to criticize this chapter, I reserve the right to rewrite it when I have time.

I tried.

-Southern Hearts-