A/N: I'm still here. First let me apologize for taking so long to update. Real life tends to get in the way and I haven't been able to post a new chapter as I've been doing a great deal of traveling these past months for work.

I want to thank everyone for the really inspiring reviews. When I started this story I only hoped to write something everyone could enjoy. I'm pleased to have accomplished that. As I have nothing scheduled until the end of July, I should have lots of chapters soon.

Here is the next installment of Brave New World. It's rather long but I hope you enjoy it.

Rated: M

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or concepts of the Harry Potter verse and no profit was made from this writing.

Chapter Twenty-Two

"To the Right, to the Left,

We will Fight till the Death.

To the Edge of the Earth,

It's a Brave New World from the Last to the First."

-30 Seconds to Mars, This Is War

Fifth year, during the unholy reign of Umbridge, the Room of Requirement was used to teach the members of the DA defensive magic they should have been learning in Defense Against the Dark Arts class. They learned different charms, jinxes and spells ranging from the simplistic disarming spell to the more complex Patronus charm. Since the start of sixth year, the Room had been used for more pleasant things. Hermione's Birthday. Friday night dates with Blaise spent getting better acquainted. As Harry glanced around at the group of students who gathered together that Tuesday evening, he realized he much preferred the room mimicking a vineyard in Italy or a small café in Paris than one prepared to train for War.

Some DA members had left Hogwarts but it still left many who were willing to fight. Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws. All gathered here, united, just as the Sorting Hat sung but he couldn't help but wonder about Hogwarts' fourth House. Just as he had learned that not all Gryffindors were honorable, it stood to reason that not all of Slytherin was in support of Voldemort. He knew Blaise wasn't, and that probably included Daphne and Tracey. So if that was three, how many more of the House had been wrongly cast into the role of soon to be Death Eater?

He wished there was a way to truly unite the Houses, to get past the prejudices and reach out to those who might even be trapped into following a path they wanted no part of. The only answer he had was to ask Blaise but he didn't want to put his boyfriend in danger from the students of his House. Eventually, he would have to find a way, if only so that he would be able to look at himself without guilt.

Most of Gryffindor had come to the meeting tonight, even Ron, though Harry was positive the only reason Ron decided against remaining in the dorm was the fact that he would have been there alone. He sat with Seamus, Dean and Ginny alternating between talking and glaring at him and Hermione.

If he thought things were strained before, after Hermione came to his training session and was resolved to restart the DA to work on defense, now Ron was being an utter git. Every time Hermione poured over her planner or decided to take a trip to the library, Ron was there trying to distract her, as if he was blind to the fact that War was going to come to Hogwarts sooner or later.

"Is this everyone?"

At his question, Hermione glanced down at the new contract she had drawn up, nerves tightening a line around her mouth. They didn't need to sneak around to meet this year but they needed a way to ensure the information disseminated during the meetings wouldn't make it to the wrong ears. The contract was as close to an Unbreakable Vow as Hermione could make it which was certain to cause a row.

"Yes, that's everyone."

He nudged her forward; they were going to share the responsibilities for the DA this year after all. He just wouldn't have the time to head the DA alone. She gave him an incredulous glare which he returned raising his eyebrows in the pretense of innocence. Her sniff made him smile but she did speak up. "Can I have everyone's attention so we can get started?" Unfortunately her voice wasn't loud enough to cut through the different conversations.

"Guys!" He resorted to shouting to get everyone's attention. "We'd like to get started. Hermione has some things to say to start this meeting off."

"Thanks Harry," she took a deep breath and set her notes aside. "Look, I'm sure everyone has a pretty good idea what I'm going to say. The Wizarding world is at War. We knew it was coming last year, that is part of the reason why we formed the DA in secret. Now the rest of the Wizarding world knows as well. If they didn't, well, that gruesome headline in the Daily Prophet made things pretty clear."

This caused mutterings of agreement from the different groups around the room. He gave her a small smile of encouragement now that she definitely had everyone's attention.

"Whether we like it or not, there is going to come a time when we're forced to fight. We have a relatively decent Defense Professor this year but I'm sorry, relatively isn't good enough against Death Eaters. That is why I believe we need to reform the DA." Everyone started speaking at once forcing Hermione to hold her hands up for silence.

"Is Harry gong to be teaching again?" Susan spoke for her group that consisted of a nice mixture of Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs who all nodded eagerly, waiting for an answer. If he wasn't mistaken, this was the same group that had invited him, Neville and Luna to library on Wednesdays.

"Not just Harry," Hermione qualified. "I think we all have something to contribute. Some of us are good at things that can be useful during a duel, like transfigurations, or potions. Then there is the first aid course that was offered this year that some of us took. Some of us are even better at strategy." He knew she included that last for Ron's benefit, probably to prove that he played an important role despite his reluctance to participate.

"What is important is that we need to start training together as a unit, so that when the time comes we'll be prepared."

"Before we can get started, however, we're going to need everyone to agree to sign another confidentiality contract." Harry explained, deciding to be the bad guy and bear the brunt of their displeasure.

"But that was last year with Umbridge," Michael Corner pointed out, needlessly. "With her gone, we don't need to sneak around."

"You're right, we won't have to sneak around as much," Harry agreed partially. "Dumbledore has given his consent for us to continue the DA officially to augment Defense classes and unofficially as a line of defense here at Hogwarts. Therefore these meetings still have to remain a secret along with everything that happens within them."

"But no one here would ever spread around what we're doing. We proved that last year."

"Last year, one of our members told Umbridge about the DA. You all know what happened. But you're right, I do trust that you would keep the DA's secrets but we need safeguards in place, not only to protect those secrets but you as well."

He paused to give them a chance to absorb what he was implying. "I am guilty of talking to my friends about things I probably shouldn't at times when anyone can be listening in. Whether we want to believe the worst of our fellow Hogwarts classmates, there are children of Death Eaters at this school. Children who will eventually and willingly become Death Eaters themselves. It doesn't take much imagination to know what could happen if Voldemort discovered you might have information he wants."

He hated to scare them but they needed to understand this wasn't sneaking around under Umbridge's nose to spite her in fun as well as pass their OWL exams. This was War. Lives depended on the DA being able to keep secrets. "Hermione has come up with another sign up sheet, and if you're interested in all the complex magic that went into it, you're welcome to speak with her about it. Basically, when you sign you're promising to hold the secrets of the DA and will be unable to discuss them with anyone who isn't a member."

"Isn't that illegal?"Lavender Brown blurted out with Pavarti quickly agreeing.

"It sounds like an Unbreakable Vow."

"It's not illegal and it's not quite a Vow," he assured them. "It is a magically binding agreement that has consequences should you not hold true to your word."

"And what are those consequences," Lavender asked. "Last year, Marietta walked around with that word on her forehead. Is it anything like that?"

He and Hermione looked at each other, knowing no one would like it. "If the contract is broken, you'll be cursed deaf, blind and mute for six weeks." And he was correct in thinking they wouldn't appreciate Hermione's efforts. Their reactions were quick and vehement from all corners. No one seemed willing to believe the punishment fitting if their creative insults were anything to go by.

"Do you think this is a game?" He roared over the loud arguing, instantly silencing them all. "People are dying! This is War! No one can know the things that go on in this room. It puts lives in danger. Voldemort isn't going to give a bloody damn if you 'accidently' tell one of his Death Eating spawn vital information. If this isn't something you can accept, then by all means, say so. No one in this room will condemn you for knowing your limitations. But this is the point of no return. If you're in, you're all the way in."

In the end, every DA member who attended the meeting stepped forward to sign the contract. Harry didn't know whether to be proud or appalled that he had pulled them into something that could likely get them killed. He didn't like putting his friends and classmates in danger but this wasn't just his War. It wouldn't be fair not to give them the opportunity to defend their world. He was pleased they were willing to stand up and fight for what they believed in.

"Harry?" The query came from Susan again, and Harry was starting to wonder if she was the spokesperson for their group. "What about new members? Or will it just be us?"

Since Hermione created the new contract he allowed her to answer. "I anticipated this and decided to leave a clause that will allow Harry and me to approach potential new members. If you know of any student that you feel would make a good addition to the DA, please let us know and we can all discuss it before either Harry or I ask them."

"Only fifth years and over," Harry added. "I know there are probably some third and fourth years that are capable of participating but there is a reason for the restriction. I was allowed to tell you all this, but only after the contract was signed. There is an organization, outside of the influence of the ministry that is dedicated to fighting Voldemort and his Death Eaters. I was recently granted membership to this organization."

"Look at you Harry," Dean grinned boyishly, the tease instantly picked up by Seamus.

"All into the secret organizations," the Gryffindor added, eyes bright with amusement. It provided much needed brevity to a tense atmosphere.

"The DA was formed to learn defense and that will be our roles here at Hogwarts," Hermione explained when she finally had everyone's attention again. "We will defend Hogwarts along with the other teachers."

"Our first task is this weekend. Hogsmeade weekend." He waited, deceptively composed to see how they would handle this new information. "Dumbledore will wait until Saturday morning to announce that this Hogsmeade visit will be restricted to fifth years and above due to the threat of Voldemort. The reason?" He pause looked around the room, at each face, so they would understand just how serious things were getting. "There is supposed to be an attack on Hogsmeade." This caused a small amount of muttering but was quickly quelled when he began to speak again. "The organization will handle defending Hogsmeade. It falls to us to make sure that all of the Hogwarts students who choose to visit make it back to the castle safely."

It was a big responsibility and a prime example of just what they had signed up for. Moody, Kingsley and Tonks had put together a defense plan, with several Order members strategically placed through the town. There would be an Order member in the Hog's Head and in the Three Broomsticks so that the students would be able to floo back to the castle during the attack. Harry was to arrange group leaders amongst the DA and make sure they get the students to one of these two locations or back to the castle on foot safely.

"Dumbledore is going to allow the visit despite the attack?" The trepidation in Lavender's words was mirrored in the faces in everyone in the room. Again this was all apart of War. Decisions had to be made that weren't acceptable under normal circumstances. It was an innocence he hated to strip from their lives.



When Harry woke that Saturday morning, he knew today would be different from any other where he had confronted danger. This would be unlike his naïve bravado when he was eleven or the rush to save a best friend's sister during second year. He wasn't facing his parents' betrayer or his darkest fears as he had third year, nor the daunting tasks of a tournament he had never asked to partake. There would be no surprise portkey to a cemetery. No resurrection ritual. He wouldn't face ridicule and attacks on his mind as he had during fifth year. No traps. No veil to steal his loved ones.

Today he was making a conscious choice to take his place in the War.

Facing Voldemort and coming out alive was different from confronting Death Eaters in a battle in defense of others. This wasn't about not getting himself killed, today he was fighting to save lives. And he was terrified that despite all of his demands to be included, he would fail utterly and that due to his actions and inexperience someone would die.

Harry felt as if his nerves would never recover from the anxiety and worry of what Voldemort had planned not only for the Hogsmeade visit but for Samhain as well. Not even his Friday night date with Blaise had been enough to calm the foreboding chill that steadily crept up his spine. He had desperately wanted to warn his boyfriend but the contract he had agreed to sign prevented him from giving Blaise the warning to stay in the castle and forego this Saturday's visit. He would have to trust Blaise's information gathering skills within the Slytherin house and hope Blaise was informed of the attack.

Hobbes had dressed him with care that morning. The sleeveless jerkin was heavily textured dark brown suede that was a perfect accompaniment to the slim fitting trousers of the same material. Both were layered heavily with protective spells and charms. The white long-sleeved tunic beneath concealed the wand holster on his wrist but allowed for ease of release. The boots in the same brown as his trousers were comfortable enough to run in. Of course, his appearance drew the eyes and whispers of those who had nothing better to do than gossip about the Boy-Who-Lived but he had more important things to worry about.

"Morning Harry. Neville."

"Morning 'Mione," they both returned in greeting. Harry smiled as she began placing food on her plate for breakfast. Much to Ron's consternation, Hermione had started to leave the dorms early, often arriving minutes after he and Neville had finished their morning blessing. It was a quiet yet pointed way of showing Ron that she supported her best friend and that her romantic relationship wouldn't alter her feelings. It was much more effective than any argument she could ever make.

"I finished revising my research on Samhain last night," she told him after swallowing a bite of toast. "There is just so little information in the library and what I did find pretty much said the same thing. Don't you find that strange?"

"Well in cases like this I've found one of two things. First, it's assumed we already know about Samhain."

"What!" she screeched, drawing the attention of the other students at the table eating. A furious blush spread across her cheeks as she glared at him for chuckling at her expense. "That's not exactly fair to the muggle-borns who are interested, now is it?"

"Not at all," he immediately agreed, "But then there aren't any muggle-borns on the school's Board of Governors', so I'm not surprised."

"Then how are we supposed to learn about these things, if we can't find the information in the most obvious place?"

"I guess whoever is interested would be forced to seek out a sympathetic pureblood who still practices the old ways."

"The old ways," she paused in consideration, "I've been hearing an awful lot about these so called old ways lately."

Harry knew she wasn't intentionally offensive but nonetheless he couldn't hold back a grimace at the tactless way she had phrased her words. Had it been anyone else who didn't know Hermione as well, they definitely would have taken umbrage. "Ginny and Ron have probably been filling your ears about the dreaded prejudice of the old ways and how I'm being corrupted."

"Well yes," she answered hesitantly, "But I truly don't understand why they're making such a fuss."

"After the visit this afternoon, if you're still interested, I can tell you about what I've learned so far." Harry didn't bother to hide his smile at her eager nod of agreement. Asking Hermione to turn down knowledge would be like asking Hagrid to stop bringing dangerous creatures to his class. "Neville can probably tell you more." He would have included Luna but Hermione's steadfast dedication to logic and Luna's otherworldly persona tended to clash fiercely.

Ron stalked into the Great Hall a short while later, taking his seat next to Hermione and greeting them both with a terse good morning before proceeding to fill his plate and eat. Ron only spoke to Hermione when she directed questions to him specifically and just ignored him all together. By the time the morning owls entered the Great Hall, his irritation with Ron was reaching critical levels. He just didn't understand what was going through his friend's head these days. Ron got angry at the slightest perceived insult or infraction to which he responded with a swift rather vicious anger. Especially if it involved his girlfriend in anyway.

"Look!" Hermione's exclamation drew the attention of the surrounding Gryffindors who all turned to the bird that was flying faster than the other post owls.

A small grin of pleasure crept across his face, as he instantly recognized the feathered beauty. He lifted an arm, ignoring the questions stares it drew, and waited. The bird hovered for a moment before alighting on his arm. She was very careful, taking care that her sharp claws didn't pierce through his shirt to prick his skin. Usually, when expecting her, Harry carried the leather bracer his uncle had given him so she could alight comfortably on his arm with no difficulties.

"Good morning, Tempest." The feathers of his winged visitor ruffled, her breast expanding proudly, and Harry almost sensed the happily returned greeting.

"That isn't the usual mail owl," Neville smiled as he too gazed upon her. The crow sized bird possessed the classic blue grey back and barred white breast with a black head and moustache. "One of yours then?"

"Tempest is a peregrine falcon. Potter bred and one of our finest, so I'm told," Harry informed them both proudly, "She belongs to my Uncle Regan. He uses Tempest instead of normal post owls to communicate with me as a way of getting accustomed to the falcons. Says he's supplementing my education. My Grandmother Maeve took an active role in the falconry at Griffin's Keep. Uncle Regan uses this as a way for me to connect with her, to learn to appreciate them."

"She's lovely," Hermione complimented as the falcon preened under his stroking fingers.

"Do you have something for me then?"

Typically, his Uncle sent his letters in the evenings, right after his classes with Leo and Septima, which is why Hermione and Neville had never seen Tempest. As he unrolled the parchment, he was both pleased and saddened about what his uncle had written.

"What's wrong?"

"Do you remember what I discussed during the DA meeting?"

After Moody, Kingsley and Tonks had made their defense plans regarding the Hogsmeade visit, they had assigned tasks for several Order members. Some were given only look out duties. Others would be stationed within the businesses to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity. Harry's orders were simple, he was to gather the defense group from the year before and explain what was going to happen and offer the choice of participating or staying at school. Their orders were to round up all the students and help them back to Hogwarts as quickly as possible using the available escape plans. Most had been disappointed there wouldn't be a need for them to fight but Harry had tried to impress upon them how important it was to keep everyone safe and let the more experienced fighters defend Hogsmeade.

"Yes, of course," Hermione answered, which was probably why she had dressed today more for ease of movement, than for a date with her boyfriend.

"My Uncle wanted to meet for lunch this afternoon. I had forgotten but it seems he will be unable to come." She could obviously see why that would have worried him. The last thing Harry wanted was his Uncle in the midst of a Death Eater battle, regardless of how efficient he was with a wand.

"This is a good thing, right?"

"Yes, I was upset that I had forgotten but Uncle Regan's reason for being absent is quite wonderful actually. It seems I have a new cousin. A fourth cousin actually but Uncle Regan and the baby's Great-grandfather are good friends. She was born just yesterday evening, at half past six."

"But that's wonderful news Harry, why did you look so troubled?"

"I'm trying not to be upset at how much I've missed over the years being stuck at the Dursleys' when I could have been raised with my Uncle. So much would have been different." He didn't dare imagine the things that might not have happened. "I've been invited to the naming ceremony next Saturday and was encouraged to bring a guest."

"A guest?"

Harry rolled his eyes at the humor in her voice, "Yes, I figured out for myself Uncle meant a date." He knew how he was beginning to feel about Blaise but he didn't know if they were at the stage in their relationship to start being introduced to family.

"Well you have the week to decide, right?" Neville asked him, probably having figured out his many dilemmas. "And you can always go alone, I'm sure your Uncle won't mind."

"He probably believes I'm seeing someone now, I mean most normal sixteen year olds are in relationships or at least dating." But no one had ever said he was normal, Harry frowned.

"I'm sure there is someone you can invite if you really don't want to go alone," Hermione told him and Harry didn't fail to see the way Ginny seemed to perk up at those words. He should probably get around to having that discussion with her like Neville suggested. Even if he wasn't involved with Blaise, he wouldn't date Ginny and the sooner he halted that fantasy for her, the better off they all would be, despite the argument he knew it would start with Ron.

"He will figure things out, Hermione." Neville gave him a look of commiseration, proving he had seen Ginny's reaction as well. "The last thing he wants is to give anyone the wrong idea, given his acknowledgement of his Lord status in the Wizarding world. There are many people out there who would like nothing better than to take advantage."

That seemed to set Ron off, who stuffed the last bite of toast in his mouth, then gathered his things and left the table in a rush of anger.

"Well that didn't go well," Hermione sighed.


If he thought breakfast was bad, the Hogsmeade visit was the worst ever. Harry had hoped to use the afternoon to try and get along better with Ron but he had placed Hermione between the two of them making it impossible for the two to talk without placing her in the middle of their discussion. Then Ginny decided to join them which was frustrating beyond measure. The only bright side was Neville and Luna joining them and the funny comments Luna would make that Harry knew were directed at Ginny. The two had been friends before attending Hogwarts but Ginny had cast aside their friendship for more popular ones leaving Luna and her perceived weirdness to the mercy of those who were cruel to anyone different. Neville kept a protect stance near his girlfriend, glaring at Ginny whenever she thought to retort to something Luna had said.

For the first hour, their group paid visits to the usual Hogsmeade haunts, starting with a visit to Honeydukes. As the younger years couldn't visit, they were each charged with purchasing a few sweets to bring back to the dorms.

From there things went bad rather quickly. Neville and Luna decided they wanted to spend some time alone and headed towards Dervish and Bangs, leaving him with a clingy Ginny who had attached herself to his arm with a determination that he definitely found worrisome. Hermione gave him a hopeful look that he hated to disappoint but he did with a slight shake of his head. The last thing he wanted was for anyone to get the wrong idea and start spreading rumors about him and Ginny that could get back to Blaise.

Hermione dragged them to Scrivenshaft's right after Ron's stop into Zonko's and he managed to get away by claiming he needed to pick up something from Gladrags and would meet them later for lunch in the Three Broomsticks. He left them with a reminder to keep their eyes and ears open for the attack before rushing out of the shop so quickly Ginny was unable to follow. He may need to speak to Ginny but he wouldn't do it in the middle of Hogsmeade so that the argument would end up as fodder for the front page of the Daily Prophet.

After he exited the shop, Harry turned in the opposite direction of Zonko's just in case Ginny decided to join him. He gave distracted waves to classmates who occasionally called out a greeting but his mind was focused more on escaping. So focused that he wasn't paying attention to the where his hurried steps were taking him. He took one corner very quickly and shuffled to a stop so that he wouldn't crash into the small group who had been standing in front of one of the stores.

"So, Harry Potter we meet again."

It was Slytherin disdain at it's finest but underneath the words, was a tone of amusement that told him that the intention behind the words was the exact opposite. When Harry looked up, he couldn't stop the open friendly smile that overtook his features. It didn't seem fair that Blaise should affect him so. Yet, every time that steady gaze met his, Harry felt a ripple of need stir in not only his heart but in his magic as well. He could almost hear Blaise's voice, thick with a desire almost tangible, murmur in his ear like the last time they were together. The caress of warm breath against his cheek as Blaise brushed his mouth there, before a hand spread against the base of his spine, drawing their bodies closer.

Harry barely managed to choke back the fresh wash of arousal, uncomfortably aware of their surroundings. Instead he focused on Blaise's companions who were just as beautiful and elegantly put together as the day from the train. Both women's expressions were amused at his expense, telling him that his thought had probably been broadcast clearly on his face as usual. Tracey's smile had a teasing edge that he was coming to appreciate as a part of her personality. He didn't know the two quite as well as he knew Blaise, but he had noticed that Daphne was more reserved than her counterpart.

"Daphne, Tracey." He inclined his head in greeting to both women. "It's good to see you again."

"You're looking fit there," Tracey said with quiet approval.

"A definite improvement, Lord Potter," Daphne agreed, as she leaned lightly into Tracey, almost as if they were more than the friends he thought them to be. He paused as the thought settled into his mind. This wasn't the first indication Daphne and Tracey had given that theirs was a more intimate relationship. His thoughts must have shown on his face for Daphne gave an almost imperceptible nod. An equal trade, he realized. Since they were obviously aware of his relationship with Blaise, they were allowing him to know of theirs.

"I had good help, I'm afraid all of my taste resides solely in my mouth." Tracey's infectious laughter drew a reluctant chuckle from Daphne as well.

"I think it's safe to say, that you have quite distinguished tastes these days." Daphne retorted, keeping her features deceptively composed, despite the amusement glimmering in her eyes. She was obviously talking about Blaise. "I certainly approve."

"Thank you. And the two of you are lovely as always."

"Why thank you Harry."

"And if the three of you are quite done," Blaise drawled, shaking his head indulgently. "I expect such silliness from Daphne and Tracey but I'm surprised at you encouraging them, Harry."

"It was fun," he shrugged, not even trying to hide his smile. He couldn't indulge in that kind of behavior with Ron and Hermione, for fear they might take it the wrong way. Subtle nuances were not a Gryffindor's strong suit. "Nothing wrong with harmless fun." The words were an echo of Daphne's words back on the train to his reaction to their making bets on just about everything.

"He's learning," Daphne acknowledged.

Rather than answer, Blaise stepped forward to take his wrist lightly, allowing their hands to slowly clasp in greeting before releasing him. "Harrigan."

"Blaise," Harry whispered, feeling his breath catch.

"You were right, Tracey, they do make a lovely couple."

He couldn't help the flush of heat that crept up his neck to his face, it was the first time someone had referred to them as couple. He liked it. Blaise's mouth tipped with a satisfied grin that reminded Harry of the way Nefertiti would curl into his lap after a thorough petting. He wasn't surprised that Blaise had confided in the two witches, as they were obviously best friends.

Under different circumstances he would like to share the news of his new relationship with his friends as well. There were so many ways that revelation could go wrong. He didn't think there would be a problem with Blaise being a male but he wasn't certain how Ron would react with the way things were between them lately. With Blaise being a Slytherin, it wouldn't be pretty.

"So let me guess," he pushed the unsettling thoughts aside for the time being, not wanting to deal with what may or may not happen to his and Ron's friendship. He gestured to the small side street with its line of quaint buildings and stores that were less obvious than Hogsmeade's main street. "This just happens to be snake territory?"

"No," Tracey rushed to assure him. "We simply don't find many Gryffindors on Sisters Way, as these stores normally cater to those who follow the old ways."

"It's my first time down this street. I don't think I even realized Sisters Way was here until today." He had left without thought to where he was heading. Dangerous, considering what he knew was coming this but desperation had made him thoughtless. "I was actually hoping I might see you, so that I could thank you properly for your assistance. The reading proved to be very enlightening."

Tracey slipping the little book into his things was the catalyst for all the new changes in his life. Without her, he may have continued on ignorant of his heritage and family until Dumbledore deemed it time and who knows how long that may have taken. The sad fact was there was no guarantee that he would destroy Voldemort, so he had no idea what would Dumbledore have done if that were the case.

"You're welcome." This was a trait he was starting to appreciate in Tracey. She wasn't one for false modesty or humility. If gratitude was offered, she courteously accepted it and moved on and wasn't uncomfortable the way he often was. "Are you free to join us or must you return to your friends?"

She was offering a chance to spend some time with his boyfriend. He didn't know if it was safe to accept, honestly. A quick glance at Blaise's benign face proved that he was willing, though unless someone looked deep into that mocha gaze, it would seem otherwise. It was unlikely that his friends would find their way down this street, though Neville and Luna might. Ron and Hermione would stick close to their usual shops. Frankly he was almost as curious about what he would find on Sisters Way as he wanted to be with Blaise.

"If you're sure it's okay."

The sentence seemed to settle the matter, for Tracey quickly looped her arm into his, giving him an eager smile of pleasure. "Of course it is. We were on our way to Nimue's Secrets. I need more meditation candles."


Harry turned at the hand on his shoulder, a wide smile beginning at the welcome sight of Blaise. Daphne and Tracey were somewhere on the other side of the shop debating the differences between scarlet and crimson candles, something he was sure only girls ever truly understood no matter what house they resided. He had noticed a shelf of books on rituals in the old ways and hoped to find a lead on what Voldemort could be planning for Samhain. Blaise told him that Voldemort's desecration of the small village at Autumn Equinox was a rite corrupted from the old ways and made into something black and abominable. It stood to reason that Voldemort might have similar intentions for Samhain.


The Slytherin had a slight smile but there was concern there as well. A warm hand cupped the side of his face, "Hello."

Taking a step closer until they were now touching, Blaise looked down at him with such passion that it made his breath catch. Now what had brought this on? They had met for their usual Friday date just last night, this time a late dinner in a replica of magical Giza, Egypt. The desert city at night was beautiful and he had enjoyed Blaise's reminisces about his trip there with his mother the year he turned eleven.

His hands clenched the front of Blaise's robes, steadying himself, even as the rich masculine scent he was coming to adore enveloped his senses. Heat and arousal raced blood straight to his groin. "I didn't think I would be able to spend time with you today. I'm glad but it's a surprise nonetheless."

Blaise nodded slowly taking another step forward so they moved further into the shadowed corner and his back pressed against the wall. "I guess it was serendipitous that you were turning the corner of Sisters' Way when we were standing there. I was keeping an eye out for you this afternoon. I was worried about you."

"Worried? Why?"

"I saw what happened with Weasley this morning. I think everyone in the Great Hall noticed. I just wanted to know if you were alright."

"I'm fine." At Blaise's raised brow Harry was forced to amend his statement. "I am, really. Ron and I have been at odds for a while now. I just hate we had another episode in the middle of the Great Hall at breakfast. I expect front page coverage in the Daily Prophet tomorrow morning."

"What are you going to do next?"

"About Ron?" Harry asked, then shrugged at Blaise's nod, "I have no idea, really. He's so focused on me that he can't appreciate the good things in his life. He has so many insecurities that he probably feels guilty for having. Then he takes that guilt out on the people around him. Me most of all." He let his hands rest against Blaise's chest, enjoying the simple comfort his presence brought him. "I don't know what to do anymore but I am done making excuses and apologizing for his actions."

"I can't tell you what you should do about Weasley, but I will support whatever choice you make."

"Thank you. Unconditional support is a rarity in my life. Normally, people want something from me."

"Oh, I want something," a sensual grin curved his lips at the suggestive drawl, "But I'm pretty sure you would find it a fair trade."

"Really?" He offered a smile of his own, leaning forward so that his hands slid up his chest to lace around the back of Blaise's neck.

"Yes really," Blaise murmured and lowered his head, brushing his mouth against his. It was another one of those slow drugging kisses, sweet and gentle and it made his already shimmering need flare to life. Then Blaise deepened the kiss, a clever tongue licking lightly at his lower lip, tempting him to open and he was helpless but to follow. Moaning as he followed the caress back to the warm depths of Blaise's mouth returning the erotic touch with a stroke of his own.

When Blaise pulled away, they were both slightly out of breath and he could feel the tremor in the large hands on his face. "Not that I'm complaining," Harry began, lifting his eyelids slowly to see the heat in the intense mocha that watched him in return. "But is something wrong?"

"I worry about you," Blaise murmured, brushing the hair away from his face. "I guess you know there's going to be an attack today."

"I hoped you knew," he sighed glad that Blaise had brought it up first. Now he could speak of it freely without fear of retribution from the contract. "Another reason why I was hoping to see you today."

"Most of Slytherin remained back at the castle. You'll notice Malfoy and his minions are absent today. The girls and I decided we would come in to keep an eye on the students who decided to go, help keep them out of trouble." He paused, his thumb tracing a path against his cheek. "And I knew you would be here right in the thick of things, as usual."

"I think that's my lot in life. I'm just grateful I'm not alone."

"No," Blaise shook his head and leaned down to rub his cheek along the line of his jaw, making him shiver. "You'll never be alone, not if I'm capable of standing beside you." Their lips met again, a bit more heated this time. "When this is done, I'd like a chance to spend some time with you."

"I'd like that too. In fact, I was invited to a cousin's naming ceremony by my Uncle and was instructed to bring a guest."

"And you're inviting me? Are you certain you want others to know about us so soon?"

"I'm tired of worrying about what everyone will think. I just don't want our relationship to put you in danger. If you think coming with me will do that, then we shouldn't expose what we have yet."

"I can take care of myself, Harrigan, I was thinking of you and the problems our relationship would bring you."

"The people who truly matter will want me to be happy. They are the only ones who opinions are important to me," he reached up to place another kiss on Blaise's mouth. Hands slipped away from his face and down the length of his body to grip his hips so that he was nestled perfectly against the heavy erection not even Blaise's robes could conceal. "I don't know how long I can take not being able to touch you whenever I want," he whispered.

"Damn it Harrigan," Blaise growled, pulling back, that fire in his eyes proclaiming how dangerously close to losing control he was. "Not fair."

"You started it," he chuckled, burrowing closer so that Blaise couldn't get away, "I was just standing here, all innocent, when you came an accosted me."

Blaise covered his mouth again, their kiss carnal and very demanding, pressing him harder into the wall. The man knew how to kiss. Hell he trembled just from the touch of Blaise's hands and mouth. "Bloody hell, you feel good," he murmured roughly against Blaise's lips.

"But," Blaise broke off and Harry knew that he had a firmer hand on his control now as he leaned his forehead against hers. When they had a real moment alone, he couldn't wait to break that control. What would come between them then was promising to be amazing. "I'm sure Daphne and Tracey have had enough of our show." He finally smiled, but it was self mocking. Sure enough, Harry could hear light giggles coming from behind them, where the girls waited.



Will you be joining us for lunch? There is a little place at the end of the lane that you might enjoy."

Harry looked down at his watch, surprised that so much time had passed. Even more so, as he realized how much he had enjoyed spending it with Blaise, Daphne and Tracey and not his usual crowd. He knew he should head back but found himself reluctant to do so. Then he caught his reflection in the front window of the store they had just exited, and was forcibly reminded of why he needed to get back.

"I told the others I would meet them for lunch at the Three Broomsticks." Still, he was reluctant to leave for he didn't want to leave them back here on this quiet side street alone despite the fact that they knew what was coming.

"Maybe next visit," Blaise compromised when Tracey looked like she wanted to protest. "We'll walk you back to Main Street."

The journey back was made in silence, anxiety building in his stomach that told him something was going to happen. Soon Hogsmeade would be attacked by Death Eaters and there were no guarantees of the outcome. They reached Main Street and Harry turned to look at his companions, struggling with what he needed to do and what he actually wanted. And that's when he realized there was something he could do, something he had been withholding a decision on for weeks now.

"So do you still study in the library on Wednesdays?"

The happiness on Tracey's face was immediate, for she had been the one to issue the invitation. Daphne leaned into Tracey's shoulder as a generous smile curved her lips free of any hesitation. Blaise merely nodded, as if he had known Harry would make this decision all along.

"Yes, we would be pleased to have you join us."

"Then, I'll see you all then," he confirmed and it was a decision he felt good for having finally made. Even better, he stepped forward to place a hand on Blaise's chest to steady himself as he knew outing their relationship on Main Street of Hogsmeade would definitely have some consequences. Consequences Harry couldn't bring himself to care about in this moment.

"I'll see you then." And he reached up to brush his lips across Blaise's.

Those consequences came sooner than he might have anticipated.


"What the Hell!"

He didn't jerk away from Blaise at the sound of Ginny and Ron's harsh exclamations. Such a move would have implied guilt and he wasn't ashamed of his feelings. He knew what he had been risking when he kissed Blaise goodbye. Even now with his friends surrounding them, stunned, silently amused or red faced with fury, he wasn't sorry.

"Harry?" Hermione sounded more hurt than anything else. She knew he was seeing someone but Blaise Zabini was probably the last person she expected.

"Wha- What the bloody hell is going on here?" Ron sputtered repeating himself in his rage. Along with his flushed face, and the thin line of his mouth, his fists were gripped tightly at his sides as if waiting for the moment to strike out.

"Maybe we should all calm down," Daphne suggested, trying to control the situation before Ron made a scene.

"You, you just shut up!" Ron's roar earned him an elbow to the side from Hermione for having shouted at another girl so disrespectfully. Blaise had tensed behind him and Daphne had a restraining hand on Tracey's arm who already had her wand in hand.

"Ron, you need to calm down before you really embarrass yourself." Neville who had an arm around Luna also had his wand in his hand, prepared to stop Ron from doing something he would probably regret. Then Neville proved he was the consummate gentleman. "Zabini, Miss Davis, Lady Greengrass," he bowed his head in greeting. "Perhaps we should move this somewhere a little more private."

But Ron was too caught up in his own anger to listen to reason. "Harry, what the hell are you doing? First it was the pureblood shite and now this. You're kissing Zabini? A Slytherin?"

"Something must be wrong with him," Ginny put in. Her eyes were wet with tears that she was trying to hold back. "Harry hasn't been himself since school started, this just proves it. We should get him to Madam Pomfrey. And we definitely should tell Dumbledore, he won't stand for this."

"Dumbledore has no control over who I date, or what I believe." Harry pointed out, "So you can tell him whatever you like. There is nothing wrong with me."

"You don't find anything wrong with kissing a Slytherin boy in the middle of the street?" Ginny demanded.


That only set them both off again and nothing Neville or Hermione said could stop it. Harry listened as Ron's words grew more vicious and cruel than anything Malfoy had dared utter to them. They insisted something had happened to him and Harry had to wonder if just the opposite was true. Had something happened to Ron to bring about such an ugly change? He knew Ron didn't care for Slytherins but Harry had no idea just how deep that hatred ran until now.

The scream of pure terror cut across their argument, instantly silencing the vitriol spewing from Ron's mouth. Harry didn't know exactly what was it's cause but he needed no further signal that the attack on Hogsmeade had begun. He sent a glare toward Ron, furious that he had allowed such trivialities to overshadow his common sense. Blaise gripped his hand tightly, a question there in his eyes and Harry looked from him to Daphne and Tracey, three Slytherins the others would have a difficult time trusting. His instincts told him that Blaise was more reliable than Ron at this moment and if the man he was growing to care for vouched for Daphne and Tracey then he pray they were capable of fighting and place his faith in them as well.

"Death Eaters are attacking," he explained bluntly. They had no time for skirting around the issue. Lives were at stake.

"Harry you can't!" Hermione yelled but was quickly outdone by Ron who insisted Blaise probably already knew about the attack, probably had some hand in it. Then claimed their kissing as proof as a way to keep Harry distracted. Yes, Blaise knew about the attack but explaining to Ron who was so furious and unreasonable at the moment would be impossible.

Neville and Luna looked quietly on as if reserving judgment. No, as if waiting for him to pass judgment and he knew that whatever decision he made regarding the three, they would abide by for they trusted him just that much. Though, Harry had reason to believe Luna knew a great deal more than she let on.

"We don't have time for this," he shouted back, ignoring the hurt look on Hermione's face. "I didn't tell the DA about this attack so that we could pick and choose who deserved to be saved. That's not the way this is going to work. If Blaise and Daphne and Tracey can help get the other Slytherins back to Hogwarts safely, then we need to work together."

"They will just run back to Voldemort and tell him everything, Harry don't you see that!" Ron insisted, his face awash of red in both his conviction and rage. "Have you been so corrupted that you don't get that? Is snogging this slimy bastard more important to you than the people who are supposed to matter?"

"If you have nothing positive to say right now, Ron Weasley, you can just shut the bloody hell up!"

And finally, the Potter temper he was so known for had reached it's limit. "I don't give a damn what you think about me and Blaise, but right now we have something more important to deal with than your stupid prejudices and your precious personal feelings. Grow the fuck up! People are out here dying and I'm standing here arguing with you!"

"Harry, what do you need us to do?"

He would never be more grateful to Neville than in this moment because he was certain his and Ron's next words would have brought them to blows. Instead, he pressed a shaking hand to his forehead, trying to focus and remember the plans that had been so carefully constructed the night before.

"Hermione, cast the charm on the galleon to notify the other DA members to the attack, though I'm sure they are already aware. Remember the plans. Stay in pairs and watch each other's back. Don't try to join the fight. That's not our job. Our jobs are to get the students back to Hogwarts as quickly and as safely as possible. Take as many as you can."

What greeted them was worse than anything Harry could have imagined.

Hogsmeade was in flames.

Voldemort had planned well. That he was a tactical genius was never in doubt, the few Order members available were too divided. Some were trying to battle the fire eating away at the older buildings before it could leap to the next and engulf it. Others were throwing curses at the Death Eaters who were steadily making their way through town.

Voldemort's minions worked in groups of three, of which Harry had counted seven. This totaled at least twenty Death Eaters who had no qualms about casting not only for maximum carnage but to kill, proven by the flares of green light that felled Hogsmeade residents in one moment and left another with a gaping hole in the stomach and blood spilling onto the ground beneath them. By working in threes, if an Order member cast a stunner, the Death Eater was immediately revived.

"Spread out!" Harry yelled over the roar of chaos that had engulfed them the moment they entered the main street. "If you can, try to help the Order members put out some of these fires so they can fight but remember, concentrate on getting the Hogwarts students to safety."

Hermione immediately grabbed Ron and took up a defensive position behind him but for the first time he said no. It hurt, like someone had closed a fist around his heart and squeezed with a violence that shot pain through his chest. Ron was supposed to be his best friend, he should be able to count on him to defend his back. Yet Harry saw the rage in the depths of Ron's gaze and knew for the first time he could not depend on him.

"You two are the prefects for our year, you know who all came to Hogsmeade, I need you to keep a look out for any student who didn't make it back with a group."

"I'm not leaving you here alone to fight." Hermione insisted.

Before another argument could start, the red flare of a curse shot between them. They all dove for the ground, screams of surprise following a hard landing. "Is everyone alright?"

He looked over to see Neville shielding Luna protectively with his body, whereas Blaise had done the same for Daphne and Tracey. Ginny lay sprawled to one side, panting heavily, and fear alight in her eyes as she finally accepted the danger of their circumstances. Hermione and Ron gripped each other, having fallen next to Neville eyes wide at the sudden violence that had almost struck them. Harry rolled to his feet, wand in hand as he summoned the thick wood and stone planter filled with the late blooms of white and yellow campion that sat in front of a shop. Several wand movements later and they were safely concealed behind a barrier but unfortunately it wouldn't hold against more than a few spells.

"Neville and Luna, take the left side of the street. Check the buildings that aren't on fire to see if anyone is inside. Daphne and Blaise, you take the right. Ginny and Tracey guard the rear, make sure nothing comes up behind us. We should be safe, I don't think any Death Eaters managed to get behind us but better safe than sorry.

"Harry please," Hermione begged, her eyes wet with tears. "Don't do this. Don't send us away."

"Hermione, it's more important that you help with the evacuation. The Hogwarts students know you, they need your calm head because I can guarantee they're probably panicking right now."

"Well so am I!" she shouted, the tears she had been struggling against spilled forward onto her cheeks. "We have to stick together, Harry, we always stick together. Ever since first year!"

"Brains and cleverness," he smiled, grasping the hand she held out to him. Both of them remembering when Ron lay unconscious at their feet having sacrificed himself so they could move forward to save the Stone. How different things were then. Their arrogance. The sheer naïve belief that good would triumph over evil. Now so much had changed. He and Ron almost coming to blows. The knowledge that sometimes evil won and there really were monsters.

"I need you to let me go and those students need you to help them, 'Mione. You know it's the right thing." And she did, he saw the awful realization there in her eyes. "Now go!"

She threw herself into his arms, squeezing him as though she would never let go. He was forcibly reminded of the fact that she had given him his first hug. "Stay safe, Harry," she whispered in his ear and then she was releasing him, already turning toward The Three Broomsticks to run away.

Just as Harry predicted, his blockade was struck with a powerful blasting curse and was shattered into pieces. A quick thinking shield charm on Neville's part, protected them from the worst of the debris. "We should get moving," Neville suggested when the dust cleared.


Blaise couldn't believe what Harry had just done.

Not that he had a problem fighting, for he and Daphne and Tracey had already decided that they would eventually be forced to make a stand after the Dark Lord massacred an entire village using a corrupted ritual from the old ways. The choice didn't require much thought on his part. He would stand with Harry, for how could he stand aside and allow the person he was coming to care for to fight in a War for their world alone.

He just hadn't expected he would expected to fight so soon but isn't that the way things usually worked out. The fight didn't wait until you were prepared. There was no right time. And Harry and his friends had been doing this for five years.

During his argument with Weasley, Daphne had caught his eye, the unspoken question of what to do waiting to be answered. Whatever he decided they would stand by him. They might not have had the same experiences as the Golden Trio but it didn't mean they were any less loyal to each other. An arched brow was all he would give telling them both that the decision would be their own and he would respect it either way. To which, Daphne rolled her eyes and a smile curved Tracey's lips.

'Of course we're with you idiot,' those responses said.

Then Harry did the unimaginable, he sent Granger and Weasley away leaving him with only Longbottom and Lovegood and the Weasley chit to guard his back. Not only that, but he stayed with three Slytherins publically stating that he trusted them just as much as any Gryffindor. He would have to explore why that left a light elated feeling in his chest, for the moment he had to concentrate on making it through this Hogsmeade visit alive.

It was ironic, by planning this attack when Hogwarts students were sure to be present, the Dark Lord had harmed his cause more than he could realize. All of the children of neutral families were certain to owl home and discuss what happened today with their parents. Those parents would not be pleased. If Blaise knew his Grandfather, he certainly would be extremely upset that the Dark Lord had jeopardized the Zabini heir.

"There," Daphne shouted, pointing to Zonko's joke shop. The roof was on fire and swiftly spreading. It was only a matter of minutes before the entire building would be engulfed in flames. Standing in front of the building were the Weasley twins and Susan fighting off a Death Eater. Inside they could see Terry, Hannah struggling to keep the fire contained as best they could, keep an eye on the fight being waged and safeguard the people who were inside. Members of their coven were in danger. That was unacceptable.

Harry had his focus on shielding Longbottom who was pulling two children who couldn't be more than seven or eight from the small alley. "Give us some water Tracey," he murmured, taking her position as guard. There were plenty of charms she could have used but Tracey was well conversed in the old ways which mean she had connected with her element.

Tracey closed her eyes and took a deep breath and he could feel the magic stir around her. The sensation of it was the complete opposite of his own but almost just as familiar. She raised her wand pointing to the flames above the dueling Weasleys and her eyes snapped open.


Water, icy and pure spewed forth, the burst much stronger than the weaker charms everyone else was using. It spiraled around her arm and held, rippling under the pressure of being contained, waiting for her command.

"Inrigatus!" And it was free, rising high to take on the form of a water serpent mouth open and fangs extended to strike and strike it did slithering across the roof, engulfing the flames almost as if eating them, before the flames was extinguished. It moved on to the building next to it and did the same before the spell released.

"Praehensus," Daphne's spell ripped several thick vines free of the earth, wrapping the Death Eater in a plantlike cocoon made all the more affective when a Weasley twin's spell hit him.

Two wands were immediately pointed in their direction, but Susan's hand came up and pushed them away. "It's alright." The twins didn't look entirely trusting but with the chaos going on around them, were willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for the moment.

"Ginny, get back," one began.

"To Hogwarts! Mum would have," the other continued.

"Our heads if something happened to you!"

"I'm old enough to fight. And I'm not leaving Harry out here alone with them!" She glared at them with suspicion, the same people who had just helped her brothers.

"It looks like Harry doesn't need your help," Susan grit out, before pointing to Harry and Longbottom who stood in front of a fallen wizard, fighting three Death Eaters while Lovegood shielded the man on the ground and two small children.

Longbottom was better than Blaise would have given him credit for considering his performance in Potions class in the past years. He cast spells at his opponent before shielding against one with the ease of someone who had been in this situation before. He thought Longbottom's performance in Defense class was an aberration, due to the encouragement of his fellow Gryffindors. It seemed this was not the case.

Yet, next to Harry, it looked like Longbottom was trudging through thick sludge. Harry had disarmed, stunned and tied up the first Death Eater and made quick work of the second before he could think of retaliating, giving them all a display of just how skillful a wizard he truly was.

"Get everyone out of here and the students back to Hogwarts," Blaise told Susan who blinked in surprise.

"Harry told you?"

"Yes. We need to move on quickly before anyone gets hurt."

"It's too late."

Luna's declaration caught the attention of everyone, panicked eyes quickly turning in her direction. Luna's face was blank, her eyes wide yet seeing nothing as they were covered with a hazy film and everything about her was focused inward. The wand in her hand had fallen to the ground and Neville had come behind her, poised to protect her even with his life if necessary.

"Death is here."

What crested the top of the street was something no one ever wanted to glimpse in their lifetime. Yes, death had come and Blaise thought he knew what the Dark Lord had done to those villagers during Autumn Equinox. "Inferi." Despite the chaos around them, his murmur might as well have been a shout for the gasps it drew forth.

"Divine protect us," Daphne's shaky whisper was echoed by Tracey and Susan for they understood exactly what was drawing closer to them.

Inferi would cleave and tear and kill under the command of their master, which was most assuredly the Dark Lord. They were virtually unstoppable and utterly without mercy for they were only reanimated corpses. They held no conscious and were impossible to reason with. Their only goal was death. Luna was right Death had come.

"We need to retreat," Neville suggested. "Harry did you hear me? We need to run."

"We can't leave yet. We don't know if we have all the students out of here." Harry dug into his pocket and pulled out a galleon, tapping it with his wand. "What kills Inferi?" When no one responded, he shouted the question again. "What kills Inferi!"

"Fire," Tracey choked out. "We need fire."

Sure enough, there were several witches and wizards who were casting fire spells at the coming hoard of Inferi but it was having little affect and they were being pushed back.

"Blaise can't you do something," Daphne pleaded.

"I don't have anything powerful enough to stop that."

"You can cast Fiendfyre," Daphne reminded him but he shook his head.

"I can't control it, not well enough or long enough. I would end up burning Hogsmeade to the ground. Where is Dumbledore?" Why hadn't the Headmaster come down to help them, it was certain that he knew what was going on. He couldn't be sitting in the castle simply waiting for them to return. Dumbledore was powerful enough to maintain the control necessary to cast the dangerous fire spell.


Blaise turned to see Granger and Weasley rushing back toward them. The two caught up easily, as the street behind them was virtually empty. "Most of the students made it back to Hogwarts, there are still a few unaccounted for but they aren't in the shops behind us." This meant they were either trapped in the commotion ahead or worse. "We should get back to the castle."

"We can't leave the Order here to fight this alone!" Harry shouted as he pointed to the Inferi.

"Then what do you want us to do Harry?" Neville's calm question was echoed in the minds of everyone there.


A muscle flicked angrily at Harry's jaw as he watched the death and devastation wrought by the Death Eaters and the plague of Inferi that accompanied them. He heard the cackle of some witch as she set yet another fire to one of the buildings where the people of Hogsmeade etched out the living that supported their families. Buildings where he and his friends had come from Hogwarts and were welcomed as a tradition that had been laid down for more years than he had been alive.

And a righteous fury built in his stomach.

This wasn't the first nor would it be the last. Voldemort would continue to lay waste to everything he touched, not because he wanted to change the Wizarding world. Not even because he was prejudiced against muggles and muggle-borns. No, Voldemort was evil. A monster. And the people he corrupted, that raped and slaughtered in his name, eventually became just as gruesome as the malevolence they bowed before.

The Death Eaters could be caught and tried and sent to Azkaban. That was proper justice. Voldemort would just free them again so they could continue on killing because they had a taste for murder and reveled in the fetid perversion their magic had become.

Harry looked down at the hand gripping his arm, then to Neville's eyes. Another victim of Voldemort's madness. He looked over at his friends and wondered how much his hesitance and unwillingness to simply accept a destiny he didn't want had affected their lives. Deep down he knew this moment would come and had fought it with everything in his heart. Even when he accepted the training with Septima and Leo, part of him had yet to truly understand what would become his role in this War.

And that small struggling part of his heart that screamed for his innocence, hated the burden the Wizarding world insisted on placing on his shoulders, and cried for the blood that would be spilt by his hands, stilled. Stilled as it watched women and children cut down before his very eyes. Stilled at the pleas of help that were strangled off by a flare of green light. Stilled as it witnessed the Order members who fought under Dumbledore's banner and were trying and so desperately failing, simply because they hadn't accepted one vital truth.

You couldn't save that which didn't want to be saved.

So when he finally spoke, his words were resolute. These were his friends, his comrades, not the Order. Not those witches and wizards who were blinded by the brilliance of Dumbledore and his willingness to offer second chances. These fifth and sixth year students of Hogwarts bore witness to the depravity sweeping across their world and were willing to do whatever necessary to put an end to it.

When he spoke, his words were for Cedric Diggory who ended up in a grave yard and was murdered simply because he was in the way. He spoke for his godfather, Sirius, locked away in prison for a crime he didn't commit and forced to hide away like some terrified animal, who fell through the veil of death. He spoke for a village that was bled and desecrated to create the undead caricatures whose only thought was the desolation their master desired.

But most of all he spoke for the innocence that was torn away from his heart, their hearts, from all the children who saw the face of death before their time. He wrapped the destiny that was determined to claim him around his shoulders like a shroud and his fingers tightened around the holly and phoenix feather wand in his hand. Not for power. Not for revenge.

But for vengeance.

And when he spoke, his voice resonated with the fury of the Divine.

"Kill them all."