Disclaimer: Again? Do I have to? Fine. I do not own any characters that appear in any of the Harry Potter books written by 'Just Kidding' Rowling.
This chapter is a bit rushed and I don't think it's is my best effort, but I felt guilty leaving such a big cliffhanger in the last chapter. With the holidays approaching, I'm going to have very little time to write in the next few weeks. I will probably revisit this chapter in the future and flesh it out a bit more. It will stay basically the same, but I believe I can put a bit more emotion into some of the scenes than what exists in this chapter at the moment.
I am also sure you'll find more typos than normal. Please let me know if you do find any, and I'll be sure to get them corrected.
"What now?" Miranda sighed when Death appeared. "It can't be Harry and Hermione…I mean they just finished getting the Horcrux. They're safe...right?" Death's eyes told her what she wanted to know…or in this case didn't want to know. "Hermione?"
Death shrugged. "Not from poison, but there are several deaths coming in association with the Potters."
"There are too many decision nexuses for me to see who they are right now," Death replied and then glanced away for a second before he returned his gaze upon Miranda. "There is potential for your soulmates to be among them."
"What can I do to help them?"
"Nothing," Death replied with a shake of his head. "In fact attempting to influence the outcome will result in a greater chance of them being killed."
"Is this Fate's doing?" Miranda snarled. "I swear I'm going to..."
"No; actually it's more yours," Death replied before Miranda could get worked up. "You know that for every act of love, there is always the potential for an equal amount of hate. You gave them their loved ones back and the power of knowledge to strike back."
"They deserved it," Miranda replied.
"Yes but Riddle isn't taking defeat very well and he's retaliating," Death replied with a sigh. "I like the Potters; I really do and I hope they bring the rest of Riddle's soul to me, but there are risks in what they do."
"I did warn them," Miranda replied.
"Yes...and you knew what their answer would be before they did," Death agreed. "Now...while I am waiting, I have a few ideas of what do with the half of Riddle's soul I do have."
"Well if you tire of that, you can always ask Tareatha out," Miranda replied with a smile.
*** E E ***
"Four down…" Harry said as they walked out of the hospital wing.
"Only the Cup and Nagini left before…" Hermione's reply trailed off as they both knew Harry would have to be hit with the killing curse again.
"But then it'll be over," Harry said finally as he leaned over to pick up the Sword of Gryffindor they had stashed behind a suit of armor before going into the medical wing. It would have raised too many questions especially with Dumbledore injured as badly as he was.
"And we'll have saved the people we came back to save," Hermione agreed. "At least with Dumbledore alive, Voldemort will still be wary of him. That should give us time."
"True," Harry replied. "But now we'll have to deal with Dumbledore when Voldemort is gone. I meant what I said about the bigotry in this school going unpunished. If you really want to change the magical world…it starts here."
"Maybe when he's not so focused on Voldemort, he'll see that," Hermione suggested.
Harry shrugged. "We can only wait and see though no matter what, Snape is going to be out of this school."
They walked in silence for a while as they made their way to Dumbledore's office. The Headmaster had told them the password so they could put the Sword back. "Do you think Ragnok will destroy the cup?" Hermione finally asked.
"I hope so," Harry replied. "He seemed like he was going to. Miranda? Do you know?"
When the Goddess didn't answer Harry glanced at Hermione.
"Well we can't be her sole focus the entire time can we?" She asked. "She is a Goddess. We can try again later. Now why don't we go back to Grimmauld and get something to eat? I'm hungry."
"I have a better idea…what about a late lunch in the Room of Requirement?" Harry suggested. "We can get Dobby to make us a nice meal and maybe we can just relax or dance or something. I mean we know Dumbledore is not going to be hunting for us for a while and we have a good excuse for being in the Castle."
"True," Hermione agree with him as a small smile teased at her lips.
"The Great Harry Potter and Mistress Potter called Dobby?" The elf said almost immediately as he popped in beside them.
"After we drop the sword off in Dumbledore's office, can you make us a lunch?" Hermione said. "We're thinking we'd like to eat in the Room of Requirement."
Dobby's head started nodding faster than his ears could keep up. "Dobby can do that. I'll get Winky too. Winky would be jealous if Dobby did it all himself."
"Thanks Dobby," Hermione said.
"Does Master and Mistress want to know about the pink-haired witch coming to Mistress Hermione's parents' home?"
Harry glanced quickly at Hermione. "It can't be Dumbledore…Bones? But why your house? You don't think she knows we go there do you?"
"Did you speak to her? Ask her what she wanted?" Hermione asked.
"No mistress," Dobby replied as his ears drooped. "Dobby thought Dobby and Winky were not supposed to let witches and wizards know they were there. Does mistress want Dobby to iron his hands?"
"NO!" Hermione exclaimed. "You did exactly what we told you to do. Tonks doesn't know you're there…I just got…confused. Dobby, you and Winky are wonderful elves."
Dobby's ears perked back up as his eyes grew even bigger as his excitement returned. "Dobby tries to be bestest elf for Master and Mistress."
"And you are the best elves," Hermione agreed.
Dobby will go get Winky and make your lunch now?"
"Think we should go see what Madam Bones wants instead?" Hermione asked Harry.
"We can eat first," Harry replied. "But maybe we should go after that."
Hermione sighed and nodded her agreement. The thought of relaxing that evening had sounded so good after the stress of the morning, but she also knew if it really was Madam Bones looking for them, it probably was important. "I'm going to at least take a shower," she said.
*** E E ***
"Looks like every Dementor in the country is here," Sirius said with a shudder when he appeared with the rest of the Order near the front of the Great Ormond Street Hospital. To the west of them the iron railing that surrounded the Queens Square Park and Gardens could be seen. "Why can't Dementors make it warmer instead?" He continued but the joke sounded hollow and flat. Another shiver ran down his spine, but it had nothing to do with the cold. Seeing the large cloaked beings brought back the memories of his time in Azkaban.
The streets were nearly clear of muggles, but it was also apparent that had not been the case earlier. At least three of them were on the ground surrounded by Dementors. Screams could be heard from all around but it was difficult to determine directions the way they echoed off the buildings.
"Split up," Mad-Eye called, "and drive these creatures out of here before too many more people are kissed. We got hospitals full of Muggles all around us so keep them outside if you can." Mad-Eye could feel something was wrong, but he couldn't identify it. "Be careful though, something doesn't smell right."
"Ah Mad-eye," Mundungus Fletcher said with a laugh. "You always finking there's something effing wrong. You wouldn't be Mad bleeding Eye Moody unless you did. Let's get to it…I've got ah business opportunity to get to soon."
Mad-eye ignored the jibe as his magical eye continued to move around. He still couldn't see anything amiss but he knew Dementors rarely attacked these numbers in broad daylight. "Pair up this time," He commanded. "Watch your backs."
"We can't cover as much ground..." Minerva started.
"Or we can be six feet underground," Mad-Eye snarled. "I tell you something is wrong here. Now pair up..and watch your backs."
"Come on Moony," Sirius said as he grabbed his friend. "Let's go help that young lady over there," He pointed toward a young blonde woman who was banging on a locked door down the street as a pair of Dementors closed in on her. She was looking around wild eyed trying to find the threat she felt.
Soon Patronuses were out in force and slowly the Order starting gaining the upper hand as the Dementors were driven back.
"Hey," Sirius said as he nudged Remus. "Watch this," He could see McGonagall's cat Patronus down the street chasing after two Dementors. He sent his own Patronus dog after it. The sight of the dog chasing the cat chasing two Dementors had him laughing.
"Funny," Moony said. "But let's get seri…" He stopped himself before the words were out completely. "Never mind."
Sirius turned to grin at his friend but his eyes widened as three Death Eaters apparated not ten yards from them, directly behind Moony. "Watch out," He started as he grabbed Remus by the robes and started to pull him down but it was too late. A purple curse struck his friend in the back. The confusion on Lupin's face at the sudden change in his friend was replaced by the look of shock and pain.
Sirius barely got a shield up to block the next curse as he pulled Remus behind a parked Lorry. He turned him over to look at his wound. A nasty slice a foot long was pouring blood. The edges of the wound were blackened. "I've got to get you out of here." He said.
"ORDER OF THE PHOENIX FALL BACK! " Came the amplified voice of Mad-Eye at that time. "APPARITION AND PORTKEY WARDS JUST WENT UP. IT'S A TRAP!"
"A bit late with that warning," Sirius muttered as he tried to do emergency first aid on his friend. "Hang on Moony," He said pleadingly as he went through the spells he knew from his days as an Auror. Then the lorry lurched and started to lift as someone started to levitate it. Sirius barely had time to fling himself and Remus over the railing behind him and into a shallow area protected only by the sidewalk above. As he turned to look around for a way out, his eyes fell on the barred up window that led into the bottom flat of a building. He was just aiming his wand at the bars to blast his way in, when a movement inside caught his attention. As he focused on the movement he could see the family that lived in the flat huddled against the far wall; two adult and three children.
"Damn," Sirius muttered to himself. He knew he could not go in there or the Death Eaters would follow and kill the family. With a sigh leaking with despair, he transfigured the glass into brick to protect the muggles and turned back to the street, preparing to fight.
"Come out and die like the blood-traitor you are Black," A voice called. "The Dark Lord wants you and that werewolf dead."
Sirius raised his head over the sidewalk to glance around and ducked quickly when a spell passed close enough to singe his hair. It had been enough to see that Mad-Eye was holed up in a similar area down the street and Kingsley's bald head had been beside him.
"Come out Black…and we'll kill you quickly," the voice said again.
"Not much incentive to that," Sirius yelled as he tried to buy time.
"Do you want to be delivered to the Dark Lord, dead or alive?" The voice called with a cackle. "If I were you, I'd prefer dead."
"Then kill yourself and let your friends take you instead," Sirius yelled back.
A short distance away a red-haired man and his fiancée were just as startled by the appearance of several cloaked and masked Death Eaters. Fortunately the years of curse-breaking left Bill Weasley with excellent reflexes and he was able to dodge the first barrage of spells and pull Fleur to a spot around the corner. As he tried to collect himself, he noticed another pair of Death Eaters down the street entering the gates of Queen's Square. It was only when their wands were up did he see the red hair of their intended targets.
"MUM!" Bill Weasley shouted as he watched his mother go down by some unknown bluish spell that hit her in the back. He only had time to see his father pull his mother behind the statue that gave the park its name before two more spells drove Bill back behind cover.
"Mum was hit!" Bill said to Fleur.
"Oui," Fleur nodded. "I saw."
"Cut through the park and fall back to Mad-Eye and the rest," Bill said as he glanced around the corner once again. He could just see his father trying to defend his mother and treat her wound as well. "I'll cov…"
"NON!" Fleur said emphatically. "You are going to your parents…I will go wiz you."
"No…get to safety...I'll," Bill started but Fleur was already moving and all he could do was follow. He had never seen his future wife in a real fight before, but now he knew why she had been the Beauxbatons champion. She might be beautiful, but she was also quick with her wand and her feet. Dodging among the parked cars, using them as cover, they made their way to the gates.
"Go," Bill said as he sent random bludgeoning spells in the general direction of the Death Eaters to keep them occupied. Fleur dove over the fence and rolled behind a tree, where she got to a knee and covered her fiance's path. Finally they made the final dash to Arthur's side.
"How is she?" Bill asked as he looked at his father before looking at his mother.
"Alive," his father replied but his ashen face relayed the seriousness of her wounds.
"Zere's more coming," Fleur said. She had glanced around the corner of the base of the statue and now could see six Death Eaters advancing on their position. "And we are not protected on our flanks."
"Get out of here Fleur," Bill pleaded. "Get back to the rest. We'll cover you."
"Non," Fleur replied determinedly. "I will not leave you. I will 'elp you protect your family. 'Ere…transfigure whatever you can find into blocks to protect us."
Bill's eyes said he wanted her to leave, but he knew Fleur could be as stubborn as he was. Finally he nodded and started summoning objects to betransfigured. Soon they had built a barricade that would hold for a short time, but not against a sustained attack.
*** E E ***
Though Harry and Hermione had planned on eating more slowly, their conversation always returned to what Madam Bones might want. As it did, less and less was said as the food disappeared from their plates even quicker. Finally their plates were empty.
"Guess we should go find out," Hermione said.
"Yeah," Harry replied. He knew Hermione was disappointed to not spend time together. "How about we go out tonight after we find out?" He offered. "Maybe your mother can take us somewhere; To celebrate our engagement."
"I'd like that," Hermione replied as she glanced at her new engagement ring.
"Think we should just floo Madam Bones?" Harry asked.
"No," Hermione replied after a second of pause. "What if it's not her wanting to talk to us? Tonks might have something else in mind. Let's at least go to Grimmauld and see if she's there first."
*** E E ***
"WHERE HAVE YOU TWO BEEN?" Tonks exclaimed when the two teens walked into Grimmauld place a few minutes later.
"We were at Hogwarts…before that with Dumbledore," Harry replied. "Why?"
"There've been Death Eater attacks all over the country today," Tonks explained. "Just hit and run attacks…nothing really serious but it's causing all kinds of problems for the Ministry. Madam Bones wanted to make sure You-Know-Who wasn't making some kind of attack against you."
"No…as I said we were with Dumbledore," Hermione replied. "Didn't Sirius tell you? He knew we were going."
"No…he was gone when I got here," Tonks explained. "We're so thin on Aurors, Madam Bones requested the Order help out when Dementors attacked downtown…in broad daylight; can you imagine that?"
"What part? Madam Bones asking for the Order's help or the attack?" Hermione asked.
"Surprised me too," Tonks replied with a grin.
"Well you can go help if you want," Harry said. "You've seen we're safe."
"Can't," Tonks replied with a shrug. "Madam Bones said I am to keep you in my sight until I'm told otherwise."
Harry sighed and shook his head. "We're fine…we don't need to be babysat." There was no way for them to go on a date if Tonks was watching them.
"Not my call Harry," Tonks replied. "So…where's Dumbledore? I thought he would have brought you back."
"Uh…," Harry said with grin as he looked at his wife. "He's currently under the care of Madam Pomfrey."
"What?" Tonks exclaimed.
"We sort of…accidentally injured him...," Hermione explained.
"Injured Dumbledore? What did you do?"
"Harry broke every bone in both of his hands," Hermione replied.
"Well you vanished the bones in his legs," Harry smirked.
"I meant how..." Tonks started as she tried to imagine just how these two teens did that much damage to the world's greatest wizard.
"We can't explain why," Harry said, "But it did happen. Madam Pomfrey said he'd be back up and about tomorrow," He turned to Hermione. "You know…Sirius would get a kick out of this and who knows…it might help his Patronus. Good thoughts do that you know."
"Yes, I know how a Patronus works," Hermione replied with a raised eyebrow. "Think we should bother him though?"
"If he's busy he'll ignore us," Harry replied. "Let me grab the mirror and I'll be right back down." They had left it at Dumbledore's request to ensure that they weren't distracted at some critical time.
"He was right though," Hermione said. "Dumbledore I mean. When he asked you to leave the mirror. It would have definitely not been good to be distracted when we were trying to cross…" Hermione stopped when she noticed Tonks was listening attentively. "Where that mutated niffler was," She finished.
"Sirius Black," Harry said to the reflective surface as he walked back down the steps a minute later. When he didn't quickly answer, he looked at Hermione and Tonks and shrugged, "Must be bus…" But then Sirius' face appeared in the mirror. He looked a bit ruffled and a cut on his forehead was leaking blood. Harry grinned at his godfather. "Having a tough go? Hey Sirius…guess where…"
"HARRY! You're back" Sirius exclaimed urgently cutting Harry off. "Tell Dumbledore we need his help…we've been ambushed."
"WHAT?" Harry exclaimed. "What happened?"
"No time…just get Dumbledore here now," Sirius replied as he looked around. "We've been hit hard…"
"We can't," Harry replied as he swallowed hard. "Dumbledore's hurt…badly. He's in the medical wing at Hogwarts."
The hope in Sirius' eyes faded as he sighed. He looked at something by his side and when he turned back his eyes were darker, more determined. "Then about that beach…I don't think I'm going to make it. Tell…tell Isabelle that I…I wished it could have been more."
"What's going on," Harry said as his voice rose in concern.
"I told you...we got ambushed," Sirius snarled.
"Sirius…what about Remus?" Tonks said over Harry's shoulder.
Wetness emerged in Sirius' eyes as again he shook his head. "He…he got hit before we knew what was happening. He…he's bad. I've done what I can…" Brick dust flew across the mirror as a spell exploded against the side of the building. The mirror was jostled as Sirius dove to a different spot. Soon he was looking at them again. Another cut had opened on his cheek. "Do what I said Harry...I..."
"What about the rest?" Hermione asked. "I mean where's the rest of the Order?" She knew Sirius was about to do something rash and she was trying to deflect him from doing it.
"Minerva's down…she's with Mad-eye and Kingsley though," Sirius replied. "Mundungus is dead. He tried to run away…they cut him down and a Dementor kissed him before he died. Diggle's dead as well; killing curse. Hestia…we're not sure she's going to make it…she and Minerva were together and she took the brunt of the curse that dropped McGonagall. Kingsley's trying to help her but…" Suddenly the sickening green light of the killing curse flashed somewhere to the right of Sirius and someone yelled. He glanced over in that direction. "Missed Mad-eye by an inch it seems…just hope it missed everyone else as well."
"Bill sent word by his Patronus that Molly's been hit and they need immediate help," Sirius continued after a second. "He and Arthur are hurt but still fighting…Fleur is fine for now."
"Can't you get into a building?" Hermione asked.
"They're muggles in there…they'd come in after us and kill them all," Sirius replied. "Besides most of the buildings around here are muggle hospitals…"
"Just hold on…" Harry said. "We'll send Dobby, Winky and Kreature.."
"No…" Sirius said firmly. "We've barely got room where we are and elves can't be that precise…they might be cut down before they could do anything."
A vision of Dobby dying in his arms crossed Harry's mind and he nodded. "We'll get to the Ministry then," He said, "and get you help. Madam Bones owes us..."
"Too late…" Sirius replied. "Portkey and Apparition wards…they have us pinned down with Dementors above us…it'd take Aurors hours to fight their way in here."
"And remember that's why the Order was asked to help…there's no one left," Tonks added. Her voice was breaking now.
"We aren't going to just let you die," Harry growled. "Hold out as long as you can…give us time."
"Don't risk yourself Harry," Sirius said. "I'm…"
"I've lost you once Sirius...we didn't come back and do all of this to let you die again," Harry snarled. "Shut up…put the mirror down and fight damn it…I'll be there soon." He turned to Tonks and saw she'd pulled her wand. "What?"
"I…I can't let you go…Madam Bones told me to protect you." The look in her eyes told the pain she was in over Remus. "You have to stay here."
"You don't have a choice," Harry replied as he glared at the Metamorph. With a mental instruction to Hermione, he continued in a low dangerous voice. "You can either help us or wake up later when we're gone. Either way...you won't stop us."
Tonks started to move her wand but stopped when she felt Hermione's wand on her neck. "You stun Harry, I stun you…" she said.
"You think I want to do this?" Tonks said as her voice cracked. "You think I want to let my cousin and Remus die?"
"Then don't," Harry replied. "Help us.."
Tonks' wand wavered and then fell to her side "What can we do?"
"Do you have a broom?" Harry asked. "It's only a couple of miles from here…we can hit them hard enough to let the Order break free."
"But the Dementors," Tonks protested. "We won't stand a chance…"
"Leave those to me," Harry replied with a determined look in his green eyes that made Tonks take a step back. "I can get us through the Dementors."
"You can't be seri…never mind…" Hermione said when she realized Harry's plan. She then took a breath and let it out. She knew Harry was determined and she wasn't about to let him go without her; even if meant being on a broom. "Let's go."
Harry was faster than Tonks in retrieving his broom; as they waited for her, he handed Hermione the Elder Wand. "Use this…hex to kill."
"You use it," Hermione protested trying to hand it back. "You've used it before."
"No…I'm going to be busy flying and fighting Dementors…that I know I can do with my own wand. You…you need to fight the Death Eaters…don't leave anyone you hit standing. The Order is depending on us."
Hermione nodded. She knew she had to do it, but though she had helped the Death Eaters to their deaths at the Ministry, she had never actually killed someone with a wand before. She pocketed the Elder wand and tried to not think of what was coming.
"Let me disillusion us," Tonks said holding out her wand when she appeared with her broom.
"Disillusion yourself," Harry replied. "As for me…I want to give them something to aim at…give the Order a chance."
"You can't be serious," Tonks exclaimed.
"Nope…that's my godfather," Harry replied with Sirius' standard joke. As much as it had gotten old, he now hoped he would hear it again from his godfather's lips. "Now…let's go."
Tonks stared at Harry for a second and then nodded.
"I'm going to be sick after this aren't I?" Hermione asked.
"Just hold on as tight as you can," Harry said as they exited Grimmauld place and mounted the broom. He pulled out the mirror again and said. "Sirius…tell everyone to be ready to counter the Death Eaters. Tell them to send up red sparks in thirty seconds to let me know exactly where you are. Shortly after that, I'm going to break up those Dementors and distract the Death Eaters…when we do, fight back."
"Guess it would be wasting my breath to tell you to be careful," Sirius said. "I'll let everyone know…thirty seconds."
"Ready Tonks?" Harry said when he pocketed the mirror.
"Let's go," Tonks replied as she tapped herself on the head with her wand and the chameleon effect caused her to basically disappear.
"You won't be able to stay with me," Harry said. "Get there as fast as you can…by then the Dementors will be gone…"
"Or you'll be dead and I'll become a Dementor's snack," Tonks murmured as Harry took to the air. She followed immediately but her Comet Two Sixty couldn't come close to keeping up with his Firebolt. In just a few seconds, Harry and Hermione were well ahead of her.
"Hang on Hermione," Harry said as he kicked off the ground and sent the broom into the air at full acceleration. Never had words been less needed to be said. Hermione's grip was so tight he was having trouble breathing.
Harry aimed his broom for downtown, and a few seconds later he could see red sparks flash into the air in several locations, all fairly close to each other. Harry maneuvered in that direction and accelerated even more. As the wind whipped past him, he felt a sense of excitement as time seemed to slow down and every one of his senses seemed to sharpen. Suddenly, as if hitting a wall, a wave of despair rolled over him along with icy cold air. He now could see the black shapes moving amongst the buildings. Though as he drew near, they all turned and started for him. Harry's wand was up in an instant as he brought up the memory of Hermione's face, and of the feeling of her in his arms. He enhanced the memory with the idea of them having a family. "EXPECTO PATRONUM" He yelled into the biting cold wind.
"Go get them Prongs," Harry thought as he watched the silver stag soar out of his wand tip and attack the Dementors. Fueled by the pure love Harry felt for his wife, the Patronus was brighter than ever before. The Dementors couldn't withstand the silver protector and had to fall back as it darted after dark shape after dark shape. Harry guided his broom through the skies as Prong kept up the attack. Finally the Dementors turned and fled.
"Ready Hermione?" Harry asked as he sent his broom in the general area where the red sparks had come from.
"WATCH OUT!" Hermione shouted both out loud and in his mind as she pointed to their left. Two Death Eaters were on brooms and aiming their wands at them. Only a hard turn kept the spells from hitting them. As Harry leveled his broom, one of the Death Eaters went high while the other fell in behind them.
Harry glanced at the two brooms and made his decision. "Can't go up...so might as well attack below," He said to Hermione as again he sent his broom into a steep dive. "There," He said pointing at a group of Death Eaters who were not paying attention to what was happening above them. "And then be prepared for the broom behind us." A hex from the broom above them flash past them as they pulled out of the dive only five feet from the ground.
"CONFRINGO!" Hermione shouted as she pointed the Elder wand at the cluster of black cloaked wizards. A blasting hex delivered by the Elder Wand would have been fatal from that distance no matter what, but when delivered from a broom traveling near one hundred miles an hour, the effects were devastating to the Death Eater who was hit. His body exploded into shards of bone and blood. The shards acted like shrapnel as they shredded his compatriots who went down in a bloody heap.
Harry immediately pulled up as soon as Hermione had sent the hex and as expected found the broom that had been following them had pulled up earlier than he had. Now that Death Eater was ahead of them but had lost a lot of speed. As Harry quickly made up the distance between them Hermione sent another spell that snapped the Death Eater's broom in half. It was almost comical to watch the man continue forward on only half a broom for several feet, but then gravity took hold and the man started to fall out of the sky.
"Oh no you don't," Harry said as he watched the man point his wand at the ground, obviously attempting to soften his landing. "SECTUMSEMPRA!" He yelled and the cutting hex hit the man's arm and his wand tumbled out of his hand. Two seconds later, he smashed into the roof of a car and didn't move.
Harry glanced around for the other broom and found him to his right but he was keeping his distance. Harry ignored him for the time and looked toward the ground where he eyed another batch of Death Eaters who were now aiming their wands up at them. He pulled the broom around in a tight turn just as a well-aimed spell flew past. Another turn and Hermione lashed out again. "CONFRINGO!"
This time the Death Eaters, having witnessed the death of their brethren, leapt from the oncoming spell and ducked behind a parked car. Hermione was prepared though, and as Harry zoomed only a few feet over their heads, she yelled. "Accio wands." Three wands jumped out of their cowering masters' hands and zoomed into the air following the fast moving broom.
"Turn back," Hermione instructed Harry who quickly did as she requested. The summoned wands were still following them and now they were directly in front of them. Hermione spun them around with a banishing charm. The wands made a beeline from where they had come from. Two of them impaled Death Eaters while the third shattered on the sidewalk an inch from the other one.
"Well that was a cool trick," Harry said. "Nice of you to give them their wands back."
"Just keep an eye out for that last broom," Hermione said as she scanned the sky. A scream split the air and they only had time to turn to see a Death Eater falling from the sky. Behind him, what appeared to be a riderless broom was following him down.
"Tonks is here," Harry said as he watched the broom. As soon as the Death Eater hit the pavement she was on the attack again. Though they couldn't see her, they could see the spells that came quick and accurate from her wand. More spell fire came toward a pack of Death Eaters now hiding behind a row of cars. Harry glanced that way to find out if there was an additional threat and was relieved to see that Sirius, Kingsley Shacklebolt and Mad-eye Moody had joined the attack. With Tonks and Harry maintaining air superiority and the Death Eaters being attacked from the ground as well the rout was on. The Death Eaters only had one thing they could do, retreat. One by one the cloaked figures disappeared. Harry gave a final loop around the area to make sure the threat was gone. He felt a sense of satisfaction when he saw at least a dozen black cloaks lying motionless on the ground; either dead or too badly injured to get away.
"Nice job Potter," Mad-Eye said when Harry landed. "Damn fancy flying and outstanding timing. You too Tonks..." The last was said when Tonks removed her disillusionment charm.
"Where's Remus?" Tonks asked immediately.
"Over there," Mad-eye indicated. When they glanced, they could see Sirius had returned to his old friend's side. "Sirius said he got hit hard."
"NYMPHADORA TONKS!" A voice commanded from behind them. Harry and Hermione swung around to see Madam Bones leading an assortment of wizards and witches in Auror robes. Some of them looked like they had been retired for a hundred years while others were barely older than Harry. She turned to the Aurors. "Secure the area, and make sure those Dementors stay away."
"Ma'am?" Tonks replied.
"I was under the impression that you were guarding Mr. Potter and his wife, not trying to get them killed," The head of the DMLE snarled.
"She didn't have a choice," Harry replied. "We got the drop on her."
Madam Bones glanced at the Potters and turned back to Tonks. "Are you telling me that one of my trained Aurors couldn't handle two teenagers? And that at no time you could have stopped them from this recklessness?"
Tonks looked guilty. "I…I…really didn't want to," she admitted. "I knew Remus was hurt."
"Hey…" Sirius said breaking in. "What about medical people. We have people killed and dying here. Remus needs to get to St. Mungo's."
"They're on their way…though," she glanced around fully taking in what she was seeing. As her eyes fell on Fleur and Bill levitating the two Weasley adults toward them, she realized how serious of a situation she was seeing. "What happened?"
"It was an ambush," Mad-eye gruffed. "As soon as we started cleaning up those Dementors, wards went up and Death Eaters were everywhere."
"Fletcher, Diggle for sure… Hestia and Remus are pretty bad off. Minerva is also down," Kingsley gave this part. Then he nodded toward the approaching Weasleys. "And it appears Molly and Arthur are injured as well."
"If it wasn't for Harry, Hermione and Tonks, we'd all be dead," Sirius added. He was relieved when mediwizards started appearing and spread out.
"Where's Dumbledore," Bones asked looking around.
"At Hogwarts," Harry replied. "He's under medical care."
"He was hurt before the wards went up?"
"No…earlier," Hermione replied. "But we can tell you about that later," she gave a significant glance at Tonks and the rest.
"Ma'am," Tonks said. "If you want to fire me, I understand. I...I didn't do what you told me to do…but I'm not here because I put the Order above your orders."
Madam Bones could see a group of three mediwizards working on Lupin and nodded. "We'll talk about it later Auror Tonks. For now, go to St. Mungos with Mr. Lupin."
"Thank you ma'am," Nymphadora replied with a look of relief.
"Let's go home," Hermione said to Harry. "I…"
"I know," Harry replied. He didn't need her words to know she was bothered by what had happened; not the actual deaths of the Death Eaters, but the act of actually killing someone as well as the exploding Death Eater had been a bit gruesome.
"I'll need to see you two later," Madam Bones said when they told her where they were going.
"Yes ma'am," Harry replied.
*** E E ***
Voldemort was extremely displeased as he looked at the Death Eaters. Thirty-eight of them had been sent after the Order and only twenty-four had returned. "What do you have say for yourselves?"
"It…it was Potter M'Lord," a large blond man said. "We had the Order pinned and then from nowhere he was there on his broom with that mudblood of his. We couldn't hit him and…and… AARRRRGGGHHH" The last was from the full force of a Voldemort rage-driven Cruciatus Curse hitting him.
"Does anyone else have an excuse?" Voldemort hissed. "An excuse to how a teenage boy beat over thirty of you?"
Though several were thinking to themselves that Voldemort had lost to him as well, they were not about to voice those opinions as they watched the blond Death Eater twitch on the floor in front of them.
"Severus?" Voldemort said later when he had finished with his Death Eaters.
"If I find this was your doing, you will regret it greatly," Voldemort hissed in a most dangerous tone.
"I assure…" Snape started.
"I don't care about your assurances," Riddle snarled, cutting off the Potions Master. "for there are none that I trust at the moment."
When Snape had departed, Voldemort leaned back in his chair and reviewed what had happened. It had been a perfect plan, and according to his Death Eaters it had worked perfectly until... "Potter," He snarled to himself. "It all comes back to Potter and that Prophecy. I must know what it says…"
*** E E ***
Molly Weasley was lying on her side in her hospital bed later that evening when the door opened and Bill, Ron and Ginny walked in.
"How are you feeling mum?" Bill asked quietly as he took her hand.
Molly gave a weak smile. "They say Arthur and I are going to be fine, but we'll be here a few days. Though they did tell me that if I'd been hit again or another fifteen minutes delay getting here and it would have been a different story."
"Well, you can thank Harry, Hermione and Tonks for that," Bill said. "If it hadn't been for them, we'd all have been a different story."
"So I understand," Molly replied.
"I'm going to talk to Sirius about Ron and Ginny coming back to Headquarters," Bill continued. "They have given their word that they won't bother Harry and Hermione and I think the Potters will understand."
No one noticed the smile that tried to escape Ginny's lips at those words.
"You children behave while there," Molly said weakly. "Don't cause trouble and your father and I will be home when we can."
"Yes Mum," Ron replied but Ginny only gave a nod.
"The Healer said only a few minutes," Bill said. "So we'll leave and come back tomorrow."
"Thank you dear," Molly said. "What about you? You were hurt."
"Nothing serious," Bill assured her. "Just a spell or two and I'm already patched up."
"Good," Molly again gave a weak smile.
"Sleep well Mum," Bill said as he indicated for Ron and Ginny to leave the room.
"Bill," Mrs. Weasley said before he made it to the door. "Before you go…can I…I have a word with Fleur?"
Bill stared at his mother for a second before nodding. "She's outside. I'll send her in."
"You wanted to zee me?" Fleur asked when she entered the room a couple of minutes later. She had a tired and wary look on her face. It was obvious she hadn't had a chance to wash up since she had streaks of dirt on her face.
"Shut the door please," Molly said and when Fleur complied she continued. "I…I heard what you said."
"I don't understand," Fleur replied in obvious confusion. "Said when?"
Molly took a deep breath before she continued. "Right after I got hit and you came…Bill tried to get you to leave."
"Oui," Fleur replied still confused. "I didn't know you were conscious."
"I was...and I heard you tell him that you'd help him protect his family," Molly continued as tears appeared in her eyes.
"Oui," Fleur replied. "I was not going to leave Beel or you."
"I always thought…" Molly started but then paused. She took another deep breath and let it out before continuing. "Thank you…you probably saved Arthur's and my life…and I just want you to know that I will be happy when it's your family too." She reached a hand out to offer it to Fleur who took it as her own eyes filled with tears.
*** E E ***
"Why? Why did they have to die?" Harry murmured to his wife later that night as he held her. "I thought we could save them."
Hermione sighed. "We can't save everyone."
"But…Hestia, Diggle and Mundungus didn't die last time," Harry argued. Sirius had turned up earlier for a shower and he let them know that they hadn't been able to save Hestia Jones, but McGonagall, Remus and everyone else would make it, though the only reason Moony was still alive was because of the regenerative effects of being a werewolf. "And we almost lost Moony."
"We saved Moony," Hermione argued. "And yes people died that didn't die before..."
"And it's my fault," Harry whispered.
Hermione rolled over and looked her husband in the eyes. "NO…it is not your fault," she said determinedly. "It is Voldemort's fault. It is the Death Eater who cursed them's fault, but it is not YOUR fault. You just saved every member of the Order's lives by being who you are. You came back willing to fight Voldemort again to save their lives. Besides...think of all the people that we don't know you've saved. How many people will those Death Eaters we've killed not be able to kill?" Hermione closed her eyes as she remembered the gruesome scene she had caused. When she reopened them she could see the concern in her husband's eyes.
"Are you all right?" Harry asked.
"I...I will be," Hermione replied.
Harry pulled his wife into his arms and she relaxed under the strength of his arms. As Harry started kissing her neck, she felt the day's tensions slipping away. "Make love to me Harry," Hermione murmured.
"What?" Harry replied. "I thought…"
"Happy early birthday then," Hermione replied as she looked into his eyes while her hand moved lower on his body. "Make me forget about today at least for tonight…" she continued as she felt him stir in her hand.
And Harry did just that. Though the experience was painful for Hermione, Harry's gentleness and care made it as perfect as possible. No amount of pain would have prevented Hermione from feeling the pleasure she experienced when her husband had finished inside of her. Even later as she snuggled into her husband's warmth, she could still feel Harry's essence deep in her body. "And it will only get better," she thought.