A/N: Unsure of where this is heading, but the same went for Eclairs and Restricted so fingers crossed you guys like this one too. Let me know what you think!
For the second time that day, Harry Potter died.
And for the second, miraculous time, Harry Potter regained consciousness.
As he lay on the cold hard floor of the Great Hall, his cheekbone feeling as though it had shattered when he fell to the ground, his face having impacted on the flag stones with considerable force, it occurred to him that there was a great deal of noise around him.
Specifically, the sounds of screaming pierced his ear drums like sharpened kebab skewers, relentless, unyielding, and terrible. There was also a high pitched cackle lost amongst the screams, which were worse than any he had heard in his life. Harry Potter would be the first to admit that he had heard too many terrible screams in his life.
For the second time in two months, Harry Potter was hearing the sounds of Hermione Granger being tortured.
As his senses began to sharpen he could make out the sounds of Ron, yelling, his throat clogged with tears as he begged them to leave her, take him instead, stop before it was too late. There were gentle sobs nearby, and had he not let his eyes open just a crack, he would not have known that Ginny Weasley was being detained by Fenrir Greyback, her face pale, her wand held tightly in the werewolf's overly hairy hand. It was a picture that made Harry feel sick. It was the picture of Ginny Weasley without hope, without any fight in her. Ginny Weasley had given up.
Why was nobody fighting? Why was nobody helping Hermione? Harry tried to move, but all he could manage was a slight fidget. His body seemed sluggish. Considering he had just died for the second time in an hour, it wasn't unreasonable for his body to be unresponsive, but surely he could manage something? Surely he could help his best friend?
Something gently came into contact with his stomach. Tilting his head slightly and opening his eyes ever so slightly, he saw a wand. Looking up to the crowd of people nearby, he saw Oliver Wood, big, burly and not quite broken just yet. There was a glint in his eyes that Harry associated with quidditch finals, a glint that said 'it's not over until the Fat Lady destroys our eardrums with her infamous rendition of Ave Maria.'
Moving his arm very cautiously, careful not to alert anyone to the fact that there was still air in his lungs, blood pumping through his veins and determination in every inch of him to deal with Lord Voldemort once and for all. He took the wand in his hand, wrapping his fingers around the slightly splintering wood, relishing in the warm feeling that seemed to replenish his energy somewhat.
He looked up at Oliver, who was watching him out of the corner of his eye. Zacharias Smith was staring wide eyed in his direction, and Ernie MacMillan, who had also noticed Harry's minuscule movements, swallowed a gasp and pinched Zacharias on the side, in an attempt to get him to shut his gaping mouth.
The screams had come into more focus now, and Harry fought against memories of Malfoy Manor. They thought that had been the end for them there and then, but Dobby, brave Dobby...
Harry swallowed and kept watch on Oliver, waiting for the moment when he would be able to get a clear shot. After a moment, Oliver raised his chin slightly, in a half nod.
With more speed than Harry had thought his aching body was capable of, he twisted around so he was facing Voldemort. Hermione was floating in the air, her screams raw as her body jerked and twisted in clear view of all in the Great Hall. This was a lesson – Mudblood friends of Harry Potter were not tolerated, and deserved to be punished.
Before Voldemort had even noticed Harry's movement, he shot a spell at him, the first spell that came into his head. It could have been Wingardium Leviosa for all he remembered of his thought process, but the deep cut which severed the chest of Voldemort's robes and the milky white skin underneath said otherwise.
Hermione fell to the floor as the sound of wands being drawn filled the hall. She shook uncontrollably, oblivious to the events which were unfolding around her, unaware that her best friend was a live and Lord Voldemort was injured.
Voldemort's red eyes met Harry's green ones, both holding expressions of shock. The deep wound was mended by some quick and expert usage of the Elder Wand and Harry's heart sank. The only curse that Voldemort wouldn't be able to fix was Avada Kedavra and Harry had never cast that before in his life, had never planned to, had naively hoped that it would not come to that. But it had, and he wasn't ready. As Barty Crouch Junior had said in his fourth year, he probably wouldn't be able to cause a nose bleed.
"On your feet then, Harry, you don't want to die on your knees like your pitiful father did, do you?" the hissing remark, designed solely to torment him did the job that Harry's lack of self confidence made so difficult.
He got to his feet and using the borrowed wand from Oliver sent every single spell in Voldemort's direction that he could think of, blocking the ones Voldemort sent his way, dodging those too powerful to block and praying they didn't hit anybody behind him. Fights began to break out all over the Great Hall – even those without wands used their fists against the Death Eaters. Ron had run forward, his sole mission to remove Hermione from harm's way.
It was all interrupted by a resounding crash that shook the entire building. Seconds later, there were mutterings as people began to move apart to create a route through the crowd. It seemed someone new had arrived and for a foolish, childish and desperate moment, Harry thought it might be Dumbledore. Only Dumbledore could cause people to part like that. Only Dumbledore commanded that amount of respect from all the wizarding world.
Only Dumbledore could stop this battle in its tracks by his mere entrance alone.
Harry's heart sank when he saw a man with dark hair, neatly pressed robes and a fixed expression on his pale, slightly haughty face. He looked to be in his late twenties, possibly early thirties. The only signs of age were the very few creases around his grey eyes.
Lord Voldemort's red eyes widened as the man strode towards Ron, who had Hermione cradled in his arms, still shaking and sobbing. Nobody moved when he pointed his wand at her, Ron jerked slightly, as though to move away, to shield her, but was stopped by the look on the man's face. The man muttered a few quiet words and Hermione stopped shaking. Her only movement was the slow and steady rise and fall of her ribcage as she breathed deeply.
He then turned to Voldemort. "You go too far."
"I think I will decide what 'too far' is. You are weak, you give up easily, what have you done with your life?"
"Plenty," he smirked, "now how about you stop torturing school children and come and play with the big boys for a change?"
Voldemort laughed arrogantly and raised his wand. Ginny, who had freed herself from Greyback in the scuffle during Harry and Voldemort's duel, moved forward and took Harry's hand in her own, puling him backwards to the safety of the crowd.
"What's he doing here?" she whispered.
Harry's response was cut off by the loud bang which signalled that the first curse had been fired. Nobody dared move as the two men (though one more monster than man) battled it out in the centre of the Great Hall amongst the broken tables, fallen candles, shattered glass and bodies of the unlucky ones who hadn't quite been quick enough to save their skins.
Harry couldn't even compare it to the battle between Voldemort and Dumbledore at the Ministry. Magic oozed from every atom in the Great Hall and people stared wide eyed and slack jawed as Lord Voldemort started to sweat, furiously working to keep the flurry of spells at bay.
He had no idea what it would mean, should the dark haired man win. It was impossible that he was here, now, and Harry could only hope that they finished each other off. There was no denying it, the man fighting Lord Voldemort was Tom Marvolo Riddle. How this was possible, Harry had no idea. What Riddle had done to Hermione, he had no idea – Ron hadn't seemed worried once the spell had been cast. If anything, Riddle seemed to have helped her.
He edged around the crowd, holding onto Ginny's hand tightly, yanking her down to the floor when a stray curse headed towards them. Finally they reached Ron, who had taken shelter with Hermione behind a table which was resting on its side.
"You all right?" Harry asked. Though his voice was drowned out by another explosion, Hermione understood and gave him a weak nod.
There was an almighty clang and high pitched tinkling of breaking glass – a chandelier had come crashing down on Riddle, trapping him against the ground as he sent a complicated spell in Voldemort's direction. His wand flew from his hand, sending the spell shooting towards one of the walls, which began to crack from top to bottom, heavy lumps of stone tumbling down onto the floor, resisting levitation and freezing charms. He was using the dark arts, that was certain.
Taking advantage of Riddle's momentary inability to continue with duel, Voldemort turned towards the table which Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny were hiding behind. The table flew up into the air and dissolved into dust with one lazy wave of Voldemort's wand. Instead of pointing his wand at Harry – whether this was because he realised now that he would have some difficulty killing him, Harry did not know – he pointed it at Hermione. Ron dove in front of her but was thrown back against the wall by another arrogant and casual flick of the Elder Wand.
The spell engulfed Hermione in a blue light which buzzed loudly. Voldemort cackled as she tried to move out of the light and as Harry was burned when he tried to pull her from it.
Hermione's image flickered and vanished, as though she were a hologram in a muggle sci-fi film.
Harry stared at the space where she had once been, his brain not managing to get around the concept of her being there, and then not. The image of her frightened face was fixed in his mind, the solitary tear of desperation trailing down her cheek as she tried desperately to escape her fate.
He looked at Ginny, whose expression mirrored his own feelings.
All that was left on the ground before them were a few bitten down fingernails and a large clump of singed, bushy brown hair.
There was a bang as the chandelier flew to pieces. Riddle's wand soared back into his hand and before any of them could work out what had happened, Voldemort was on the floor, bleeding profusely, barely alive. Riddle walked over and said something quietly to him, his eyes dark and swirling with anger.
There was a flash of green light and Lord Voldemort was dead.
Tom Riddle ran from the Great Hall and was not seen again.