The meeting was going as normally as we could have hoped. Dumbledore's Army had grown exponentially since our first awkward meeting, and now most of the school was out on the grounds, shooting spells left and right in little mock duels. Since it was the first meeting after returning from break, we 'teachers' were just walking around, making sure people still remembered so of what they had learned.
It was awkward, what with all the members of the Order away. Shacklebolt and Tonks were trying to find out exactly how far into everything Voldemort's people had gotten, places such as the Prophet and the Ministry, with the information they could gather from other Aurors and everyone else one different missions of the same sort. Snape had died during the last battle, though not before letting it slip he was actually on our side and how he only did any of this out of love for Lily Potter's memory.
Truth be told, it seemed like our small band of original people from Dumbledore's Army were the guards of Hogwarts. A month or so before, there had been a small attack from a few Death Eaters. They had gone through and, instead of going after us, destroyed what wards they could.
It left us virtually unprotected. The professors all tried to repair them, but there seemed to be some sort of spell lock that even Flitwick couldn't undo. Heads took to placing as many wards as they could perform on the dormitories every night, then placing booby traps inside the common rooms in case those wards failed.
And the professors. After last year, with the first huge break in, thanks to Draco and a handy set of Vanishing Cabinets, many decided Hogwarts was not safe anymore. We had only Trelawney, McGonagall, Flitwick, Sprout, Binns, Hagrid and Vector. Not enough to teach organized classes, so they each (except for Trelawney and Hagrid) had a day. Every day of the week, you could pop in and out of huge seminars held in the Great Hall. They covered the subjects they had actually taught, and also what they knew. Especially in the case of Hagrid and Trelawney, they did what they could. The weekends were free of lectures, due to these two not having a day of their own.
That was when we got to teach them.
For the most part, the professors let us be. They knew that we had actual experience, as opposed to just being able to theoretically do this. We, or at least the main core of the DA, had come up against these things in real life and knew the simple, stupid little spells that could (and would) save your life. We never bothered with those huge complex spells; the more common ones you knew, the better you would fare. The worst it got was the Patronus charm, and that's only because you had to think of something and cast at the same time.
"A little more of a flick in the wrist, Saunders," I noted to a fifth year Gryffindor trying to cast just that charm. "Just a bit! Not like that or you'll blow someone's head off!"
"Nice save," Ron whispered in my ear as he passed. "Handled like a true Granger."
I laughed under my breath, looking towards where Hermione and Harry were overseeing the bulk of the school's first years. He, of course, adverted his eyes as soon as he noticed me looking, while Hermione waved to me. "Hey," she mouthed, "Where's Gin?"
I shrugged, glancing around briefly to see if Ginny was anywhere in sight. "She's inside, fetching something from Madam Pomfrey," a velvet voice whispered in my ear. Draco Malfoy.
Draco had joined our meetings just before Christmas break, slinking in behind some Hufflepuffs. "'S okay if I join?" he had muttered, staring at the floor like a child who had just been punished. At first, he was uneasy and messed up the simplest of spells, but now he almost rivaled Harry with his prowess. Of course he had treated me and Hermione somewhat badly the first few times, but after realizing we knew far more than he did (and he learned first-hand when I 'accidentally' showed Neville how to perform a Bat-Boogey Hex on him), he relaxed and didn't seem to mind us. In fact, these days I counted him as one of my friends.
"Thanks, Dray," I grinned, turning around to face him. "How're the charms going?"
He shrugged nonchalantly, like it was no big deal. "Eh, nothing new. We haven't figured out what Dumbledore did before he…left…and Professor Lupin's got no idea. I thought I had some idea, but it turned out I was wrong." Lifting a section of his bangs up, I saw that one white-blond eyebrow was missing, or possibly just covered by the bruise that was just beginning to blossom. "Could have been worse, I guess. How's it going with Mr. High-and-Mighty?"
I sighed, rolling my eyes. "Trust me, nothing short of a nuclear missile will get him off his high horse." Truth was, even I didn't know why Harry was acting the way he was towards me. It was like one day we were fine, the next he was all weird and distant.
It had started about a month before, around the time that me and Draco started hanging out. I gained a new friend and lost one of my best and oldest. Harry just…ignored me. Acted like I wasn't there. He never made it obvious, but it was there. Eventually even Ron noticed. "Mate, what's going on?" he asked one day, clearly puzzled. "Do you need to get your hearing checked? Didn't Holly just ask for the mashed potatoes?" Harry acted like he just hadn't heard me, but by then everyone knew he was being a jerk for no known reason.
Draco slung a comfortable arm across my shoulders, swinging me toward where my sister was. "We'll talk to Hermy and see what she thinks then, eh?" he suggested, smiling. "She's always got an idea."
We were walking when it happened. There was a shimmer in the air, almost as if there was a heat wave. I clutched Draco's sleeve, fear growing in the pit of my stomach. Quickly, I searched the grounds to find everyone. Ron was sprinting over to Hermione to protect her while Luna, Ginny and Neville were running towards us with handfuls of bandages. Everyone else was looking towards Harry.
He stiffened, and his eyes grew wide. Of course, none of the students noticed this mark of fear on his face, but those of us who knew him panicked. "What are we going to do if it's them…?" I asked quietly.
Even from across the area, Harry heard me. "We wait." He still wouldn't meet my eyes as he said so. "But we stay alert. Luna, can you take the fifthyears and under back into the castle? Hole them up in the Great Hall until I come for you." Pausing to make sure everyone understood him and to watch the students gather around her, he continued, "No matter what you hear, do not open the doors until we activate your coin, okay, Luna?"
She nodded. "Good luck, Harry. Everyone."
That was when all hell broke loose.
There was a crack from the Forbidden Forest, and the sky grew dark. The students running towards the castle screamed, sprinting even faster towards the doors. Luna held the doors open for every last one of them, screaming, "Betrieb!" as she scrambled in after them.
And then they started coming. The long, billowing cloaks looked even more menacing then the last I saw them. Dark silver masks taunted us as they moved closer. Even with their features hidden, it was evident that they were making faces at us, especially the less experienced fighter among us.
"Where's your mom?" I asked Draco, fear tingeing my voice.
He thought for a moment, then simply said, "With Luna."
Narcissa Malfoy was perhaps the most important person we had on our side besides Harry, because she possesses traits which are few and far between in the Wizarding world. She can see through any enchantment, is a master of nonverbal spells and can do things that even Harry wishes he could do. Frankly, if we lost her to Voldemort, we would lose the entire war if he forced her to help him. She switched sides to protect Draco; something I knew would affect him horribly if anything happened to her. Voldemort had ordered her to give him Draco, to make him a Death Eater, and she refused. She knew what it had done to Lucius (according to her, he used to be a better person until he fell into all of this) and she wouldn't let it happen to Draco.
At the moment, though, all attention was focused on trying to survive. I ran towards Hermione and Ron, knowing not to stay with Draco. Though he fought for us, there was no telling what his father would do, as one of Voldemort's right-hand men.
Draco did his best to look like he was fighting with his dad. To the untrained eye, he was shooting down person after person – except the people falling under his wand were none other than the people he was supposed to be helping. Every time a Death Eater got a little too close to hitting one of us, down they went.
After an extremely terrifying moment when Crabbe almost hit me square in the jaw, I saw Draco turn to face his father. No emotion on his face, no words spoken, but down went Lucius. Draco had learned nonverbal spells from his mother, so I don't know what he used on his father. Before I could go to him and help fight off the Death Eaters advancing on him, a spell shot past my ear.
"Didn't you hear it's not nice to switch teams like dear old Mummy, Little Drakey?" taunted a voice behind me. Bellatrix Lestrange. "And you, Mudblood. Thinking you could compete with the Dark Lord!" She collapsed into giggles before turning back to me.
I knew she just wanted to mess with me. Of course. She'd had a vendetta against me since that sorrowful night when I helped Dumbledore and the Order bust in the Department of Mysteries, when I'd pummeled her after I found out she was the one responsible for killing Sirius. I could still faintly see a scar that ran the length of her face from when my ring had drawn blood.
"What do you want, Bellatrix?" I yelled over the sound of the duels surrounding us.
She laughed her shrill, manic laugh again as she summoned two figures. "Just a little family get-together, deary!" My parents stood before me, dangling in the air. Mum had obviously been at the dentistry, as her lab coat was still on, while Papa was in his regular clothes, a t-shirt and some ragged old pants, the evening post still clutched in his shaking hands. After a few terrifying seconds, realization flashed through my head. She was going to kill them.
I screamed into the darkness, looking around wildly for Hermione, Draco…anyone. Before I could do a single thing, Bellatrix made a horrible slashing motion with her wand, and my parents dropped to the ground. Blood was pouring from their severed necks. Too much blood for them to have survived.
"I'm going to kill you!" I screamed at Bellatrix, causing her to laugh before pointing her wand at me. I was already running towards her, wand and fists ready. Nothing was registering in my head. Not even the body that threw itself in front of me.
I heard her spell just as it hit him. Draco staggered back, an ugly gash across his chest where the spell had hit him. "Of course. She used the Knife charm. She was going to cut you straight through, Holly." He tried to turn around, falling as he did so.
"Draco! We have to get you treated. Here, I'll help you. We just have to make it to Hermione..." By then, my sister was already almost qualified to be a MediWizard, so she stayed away from the fighting and healed our fighters. Thankfully, she'd already seen the accident and was running towards us.
"Holly Ophelia Granger! Put him down – he's bleeding more when you hold him up like that." With her help, we maneuvered him onto the ground so she could examine the wound. Together, we poured magic into the blood. After a minute or so, she turned to me. "He's fine now, but he'll carry that scar for the rest of his life. It's too deep to ever really heal. Just like when Harry hit him Sectumsempra"
It was then that she noticed the tears pouring from my eyes, and I saw the ones that covered her face. "You saw…?" I whispered, hardly daring to believe it had actually happened.
"Yes," she whispered. "I saw her. But, don't worry. She's dead now, too. Harry and Ron saw her. They both aimed curses at her and they hit." She tried to hold back a sob, not meeting my glance. Finally catching my eye, Hermione looked away and gestured for someone to get Draco to the MediStation and away from the fighting. She went with them to explain what had happened.
"Hey, grab a Pepper Up or something, please," I whispered when I caught her elbow as she walked by. We had started keeping a supply of them on hand for when students got too discouraged and needed some pep back.
I realized that I needed to get back into the fray too. The majority of the Death Eaters had fallen or fled, with only Voldemort standing in the middle. "Get back, you lot!" Harry yelled at the approaching sixth and seventh years. They mutely obeyed, running for cover inside the castle. Around him, though, was Neville and Ginny, both throwing curses left and right at Voldemort.
It seemed as though he had just materialized out of thin air. One second, everyone was squaring off against the few remaining Death Eaters, the next there was a scramble to get away from the new battle. Some people, on both sides, stopped their own duels to watch the history in the making.
He was laughing, of course. Dodging them like they were nothing and generally just being the sick and disgusting guy-thing that he was. "AVADA KEDAVRA!" I heard, just as I was running towards them.
The whole world seemed to at a third it's normal speed. The jet of green light slowed along with the spinning of the earth. I heard a scream and too late realized it was tumbling from my mouth. My best friend since I'd come to this stupid, wonderful school was about to die, and there was nothing I could do. I was just as helpless as I'd always been. As I always would be, especially without him.
Before anyone could move, Neville was in front of Harry, blocking him. The world sped back up to normal speed. A look of rage like none I'd ever seen was glued onto Harry's face now, and I could somehow sense what was about to happen.
"DUCK!" I yelled to anyone within one hundredmeters of the fight. Doing so myself, I hesitantly looked up. Harry stood there, but something had changed. His whole being glowed, for lack of a better word, with the intensity of the magic pouring out of him, through his wand. The light was bright, much too bright for me to stand looking at it a second more.
Whatever he had done, it worked. Voldemort crumbled and just…died. It was rather anticlimactic, actually. Years of fighting and hiding and training had all lead up to this moment, and it ended with something none of us had ever experienced before.
Just as I started to relax celebrating with everyone else, I saw the two bodies still laying in the middle of the field out of the corner of my eye. I think Ron saw the change in my face before I even moved. I rushed to their side, murmuring, "No, no, no. Not them. They never wanted anything to do with this. With us. No." Tears fell fiercer than I had ever thought they could. Arms embraced me, scooping me up so I could be moved. "NO! You don't understand!"
"Holly, please let me do this," Ron's voice, so soothing and comforting, whispered in my ear. "You need to be with Hermione. You need to get inside, away from all this death, and clean up. Get your own wounds looked at. There will be time for mourning later. Please, just don't fight this."
I stopped beating his shoulder long enough to gaze into his eyes. "Ron, what are we going to do?" I whispered, hardly loud enough for him to hear.
But he did. "I don't know, Holly. We have to get past this as best we can." His voice was grim, more serious than I'd ever heard him. "It's all we can do."
AN: So, welcome to the rewrite of Running from the Truth! Here's the first installment. As some of you might have noticed, things are changing dramatically! The characters and their relationships are going to stay basically the same, but later on I taking out plot lines that I had (they never made it onto the 'net, because the friend that was putting it up refuses to speak to me).
On a happier note, I've got a lovely author to beta for this here remake! xoxcrescentmoonxx is one of my absolute favorite writers and does just an amazing job in the HP universe. Her main story (at least lately), Between Constellations and Dreams, is one of the best I've ever read, and it actually made me like Snape (though just a bit. I will never fully like the guy). Go read her stuff! I don't think I've had any other HP fic on here that has made me go through such a range of emotions in only a few chapters!
I hope you stick with the new Running from the Truth. The shorter title was just something I think made a bigger impact, maybe made you want to read it a little bit more. But it still stands for the same thing:
No matter where you go, you can never run from the truth.