I know, I know, I totally missed the one year anniversary of Savior's Calling. I'm not going to try and make excuses as to why it took me so long to post (trust me, the list would be long) but I do want to thank you guys for all your loyalty. And yes, I'm talking to those people who would review the last chapter multiple times begging for updates. But to be honest, it was the people who were pleading that I not abandon the story that got me out of my funk.
Let me tell you all now, I would never abandon a story. If worst came to worst, I would find someone to adopt the story; but that's not happening either ;)
I actually have the rest of the story planned out, so I'm thinking its got about 6-7 more chapters left.
And to make it up to you guys, this chapter is perhaps my longest...and most badass. Hope you enjoy!
There was a heavy silence among the Order after Harry spoke, merely stunned and dumbstruck expressions. Harry hardly blamed them, it seemed like a new discovery happened every time Harry spoke. And now they knew they had to kill the Serpent King and his heir, the Taipan.
"Well that shouldn't be too hard."
Harry turned and looked at Draco, surprised by the blonde's optimism, and slightly confused as to his reasoning.
"Shouldn't be too hard?" Sirius asked, crossing his arms. "Have you gone mad? Do you even know who we're talking about?"
"Of course I do." Draco rolled his eyes in a very Malfoy-like manner, "Me."
"Yes, you." Ronnie replied, "Who's been the Serpent King's heir nearly all his life."
"And therefore," The blonde added, "has never lifted a finger in this war. If Harry's right about the Taipan being a Horcrux, then …Voldemort," Harry couldn't help but notice how Draco was still a bit unwilling to say 'Voldemort' after all this time, "wouldn't want him in the heat of battle. Unless I'm mistaken and someone has dueled him in a serious duel, but when I was captured the Taipan didn't try and curse me, he used his bare hands like he was a muggle."
Tonks shared a look with Remus, "What about at the crypt? He hardly used his hands to take out all of us."
"Yeah," Harry added, "But I'm sure anyone could hit a target while they're holding a Lumos over their heads." There were a few groans from Alice and Lily at this, "And even then the worst injury was when Tonks cut her face on a branch."
"Please don't remind me." Tonks blushed at the memory. Remus wrapped an arm around the metamorphagus in a reassuring embrace.
"Does he know any real dangerous curses?" Draco asked, more curious than anything else. This was his evil twin after all.
Harry sighed, "He added Sectumsempra to his repertoire." At the horrified expressions of the Order, he cleared his throat, "I'm not sure how effective it was, the victim was standing still not even five feet away, and I couldn't see how deep the gashes were, I didn't have my glasses."
"Regardless of his magical prowess, we cannot rest until both the Serpent King and his prince are dead." Dumbledore said calmly, "As it stands, we are short one Horcrux besides the prince. Harry, what can you tell us about this last item; we need all our eyes open to look for it."
Harry sighed, trying to remember the ring that ultimately took the life of his headmaster back home, "It's a ring, it would have been the same one he wore while he was in school…" He looked at Dumbledore for confirmation. When the old man nodded in recognition, along with that blasted twinkle in his eye, Harry continued, "It has a black stone in it, and it's been passed down through his mother's family"
"Wait, his mother?" Ronnie turned green at the thought.
"Yes, well someone had to do it," Harry replied, "As much as we want to believe it, he didn't crawl out of some dark hole in the depths of the earth."
There was silence for a bit while everyone gathered their thoughts on the matter at hand. At least until the sound of tapping interrupted them.
"What on earth is that?" Hermione asked
Molly got up slowly, making her way to the window, "It's the bird that delivers The Daily Prophet to us, but it's nearly sundown, it's far too late for Xenophilius to be sending us information."
Harry could see Hermione and Ron share a look, "Xenophilius Lovegood? I thought he ran The Quibbler?"
Arthur shook his head, "That was shut down years ago; The Serpent King couldn't have any rebel propaganda being printed. But what better way to stay connected than to have a spy in the place where the information flows?"
Harry had to admit, it did make sense, and it did explain how the Order was managing to get copies of The Daily Prophet.
"So if it's not a usual edition of The Daily Prophet, then what is it?" Ronnie asked, getting up to stand next to his mother.
Molly's hands were shaking as she read the paper. Unable to speak, she handed the paper to her youngest son. Harry could sense the tension in the room thickening, and it didn't take a genius to figure out that things were going to take a turn for the worse.
"What does it say Ronnie?" Bill asked, unable to take the tension.
"It says that the king is in mourning for his familiar Nagini, who was butchered during an attack on the castle," Ronnie shook his head, "And that there's going to be an execution tomorrow evening in Diagon Alley; that The Serpent King found a rebel spy in the castle who aided Harry and Draco in their escape…"
Hermione gasped, the thought of something so dark as an execution, "Oh no, who is it?"
The Order got quiet, and Harry could have sworn the room got colder…it was either that or the chilling events that caused the shiver to run down his spine. He could see the adults sharing several looks and Dumbledore furrowing his brow.
"What is it?" Harry asked, hating being left out on any information.
James was the one who spoke first, "We don't have a spy in the castle."
"We're bold, but not that bold." Sirius added, running a hand through his hair in distress. "They either have an innocent person condemned to die…"
"Or it's a trap." Lily said calmly, shaking her head, "You know it's more than possible, hell it's probably their plan, that this is a trap to lure Harry out."
The Order nodded in agreement, much to Harry's irritation. "What makes you think it's a trap?"
"Probably because they've done it before?" James replied, "Remember the dementors in Hogsmeade?"
"Yeah, but we got out of that fine." Harry insisted.
Lily rolled her eyes, "Yes, if you consider getting second degree burns all over your body 'getting out fine'."
Harry looked at Lily, "You're very sarcastic for a mother."
"I haven't been a mother for very long, I've been a rebel for longer." Lily nodded firmly.
James chuckled, "She has a point Harry."
"Whatever, it doesn't matter," Sirius interrupted, "We still need to figure out what to do with this execution."
"We shouldn't go." Frank said firmly, "They're trying to play on our emotions to get us to act."
"Well it's working!" Harry stood, pacing the room, "I can't just let an innocent person die because of me!"
James grabbed Harry's arms, "Harry you have to think here! If you go, you'll be giving The Serpent King exactly what he wants!"
"I'm not going to let someone be killed because you don't want me to do what everyone expects from me." Harry had a firm voice, clenching his fists in determination, "No wonder you are losing this war, you refuse to take charge."
"There's a difference between taking charge and going on suicide missions," James looked at Ron and Hermione, "Aren't you going to try and reason with him?"
Ron looked at Hermione. Hermione looked at Ron. They both looked at Neville. Neville looked back at them. The three sighed deeply. "You have to understand," Hermione started, "Harry has never been the type to back down because the situation is dangerous."
"You're talking about the man who thinks fighting a Basilisk is a perfectly acceptable adventure for a twelve year old." Ron added, rubbing his temples.
Neville nodded, "You're better off giving him all the backup you can, otherwise he'll go on his own and it'll be a huge disaster."
Harry was torn between admiring his friends' support of him and annoyance at the fact they were so grudging about it. But in the end, it didn't really matter, they had made his point for him.
"They're right," He said firmly, "I'm going, now you all can decide whether or not you're coming with me. It's your choice whether or not you're going to fight this war."
James groaned, letting go of Harry reluctantly, "You really know just what to say in order to get what you want, don't you?"
If Harry had thought that the slave auctions were bleak, the setup for the execution was that much worse. All the shop windows were shut and locked tight, not a single sign or advertisement was seen, and it seemed like there was no one present in Diagon Alley.
Until one saw the giant pyre in the center of the square, complete with a tall pole in the center, staking through the pyre and standing tall above the buildings. Not to mention the legions of witches and wizards screaming for blood that accompanied it. Harry could feel his stomach churn at the mere thought of the mob surrounding them. As individuals, no doubt they were capable of rational thought and empathy, but as a group, they thought as one and they thought whatever Voldemort told them was the truth.
"This is just barbaric…" Hermione whispered, staring up at the 50-foot tall stake in the center of the pyre, "No one has been burned at stake since…since…"
"You can say it Hermione," Sirius said darkly, "Since the times of the Muggle Witch trials."
Harry kept his hood up over his face, clenching his fists tightly, "Voldemort seems to be referring back to his Muggle roots more the longer we're here. This isn't just an execution, this is a public display of power: to show that he's still in charge."
"Well it's working." Ron muttered, making sure to stay close to Hermione as they drew closer to the crowd. "I must admit, even though he's a downright bastard, You-Know-Who has a way of getting people to see his point of view."
Hermione and Harry gave Ron a stern look, "Don't start that again, Ron." Harry rolled his eyes, "If you must call him something, call him Tom. He's much less intimidating that way."
Those in the Order who were nearby nodded in agreement; others merely began to spread out though the crowd. Harry watched them as they disappeared, hiding in plain sight while he, Ron, Hermione and Neville kept their hoods around their faces. Draco had yet to fully heal, so he had been placed on Teddy Watch (which Harry suspected the blonde didn't mind as much as he claimed he did). But it was probably for the best, no need for someone to recognize Draco as the prince.
'Then again, people recognize me as the evil dark overlord.' Harry thought sarcastically, crossing his arms over his chest in an attempt to keep the cold away. It was only when Hermione rolled her eyes and cast a Warming Charm on him did he smile in thanks, grateful to have such a logical friend.
"You can defeat dark lords, but you can't have the sense to keep warm?" Hermione shook her head, muttering to herself.
"Yeah, well I hear there's going to be a fire…" Harry replied darkly, turning his gaze back to the pyre.
There were several minutes that the crowd stood in the streets, waiting for the events to begin. It didn't take long for their excitement to build when the first of many Deatheaters made their way around the pyre, underlings of course. The more important ones (specifically the Black Mamba and the King Cobra) walked up to the same elevated box seats that Harry had destroyed during the auctions. Of course Harry noted that neither of them took a seat, merely standing at attention, trying to look regal and menacing. If Harry hadn't been expecting a trap, he wouldn't have noticed the plain clothed Deatheaters that attempted to blend in with the crowd. Honestly, one would think that the permanent glare on some of their faces would have been a dead giveaway.
But then Harry saw the poor soul that they intended to kill, being dragged through the street despite his best efforts. It was only when he passed by Harry that the tell-tale scars of Sectemsempra were visible, they were fresh wounds without a doubt. Harry knew that this was the same person that the Taipan had practiced his curse work on while Harry was in his "care". He also recognized him as-
"Oh Merlin…" Hermione gasped, "Is that…"
"Yeah," Harry nodded, gripping Hermione's shoulder as the weeping young man was restrained and levitated up to the top of the stake, securing him in place. This wasn't just an execution; this was a message to the Order, challenging them to show themselves. Harry didn't listen to the laundry list of crimes that the supposed spy had done, he knew none of them were true, and he just couldn't bear to hear the sobbing pleas of the accused trying to maintain his innocence.
"…thus the accused is condemned to die by fire this day…" The announcer's voice was a dull drone in Harry's ears, he wasn't saying anything that was important to- "And now his majesty the king and our beloved prince!"
Harry's heart stopped. He had expected a trap, but for Riddle to show up personally? If anything, it made things more complicated. They would have to work fast he realized as he turned his attention back to the royal box seats, where Voldemort was standing with the Taipan at his side. He could tell that there were confident that their trap would work. And, Harry supposed, it had worked after all, they had managed to bring him to the execution hadn't they?
"Almost a fortnight ago, the dark menace we have feared managed to infiltrate Castle Slytherin," Voldemort called out, his voice echoing throughout the square. Harry tried to keep calm at the ripple of gasps that followed the statement. He wasn't that scary was he? "While he was there, he made another attempt at the life of my young heir." A bony hand carded through the Taipan's hair¸ "As you all can see, he failed once more. Unfortunately, there was a life this menace did manage to take from us." More worried murmurs from the crowd, much to Harry's annoyance, "My beloved familiar Nagini was found brutally butchered the morning after the attack."
Harry shared a look with Ron and Hermione, trying not to roll his eyes. Voldemort, he realized, had a thing for theatrics.
"After some dedicated investigation, my men discovered that this vigilante was assisted by this man," Voldemort pointed a finger at the sobbing young man tied to the stake. Harry had to admit that Voldemort had a talent for making people believe what he told them. "Yet this dark vigilante is still at large, despite rigorous interrogations the spy refused to release the location of our greatest enemy, He-who-shall-not-be-named."
"He's joking right?" Ron whispered to Harry, "He's not seriously endorsing that ridiculous title is he?"
Harry looked at Ron from beneath his hood, "He doesn't know my name, its better he endorse a ridiculous title than a truly fearsome one, right?"
Hermione nodded, holding Ron's hand tightly as they continued to listen to Voldemort's rant.
"-And to add insult to injury, he dare show himself here of all places!" Harry didn't like the sound of that, "He is among us as we speak, hiding his face like the miserable shadow he is."
Harry could hear the frightened murmurs of the crowd, tearing off the hoods of anyone wearing a cloak, turning on the person standing next to them in a panic. He could see Neville's cloak being torn from him before his attackers decided that he didn't look like Harry.
'Son of a Blast-ended Screwt…'
Harry turned his attention to the gruff looking man making a beeline for him. Of course it was then that Harry realized that he was the only one left without a hood. With an agitated groan, Harry pulled out his wand and pointed it at the man's hand, which was reaching for Harry's hood.
"I doubt you really want to do that." He said calmly, keeping his wand pointed at his accuser. He knew he had blown his cover, but honestly, his cover was blown anyways so there hadn't been much of a point in keeping his disguise.
In an instant, two Deatheaters had grabbed Harry from both sides, forcing his arms down to his sides. A hand pulled back Harry's hood, causing the crowds to gasp in horror and fright at Harry's face. As he was pulled through the crowd, their fear turned into rage and blind hatred.
"Bring him forward!"
It wasn't long until he was in front of the massive pyre and the elevated box seats that Harry looked up at Voldemort, who was smirking down at him. The Taipan, however, held his hand in front of his mouth. Most likely to hide the devious smile that was most likely on his face, Harry decided; a very terrifying thought indeed.
Harry spared a moment to look around the crowd, spying various members of the Order, still in disguise. The only person that had been 'captured' was Ron, who was struggling with a Deatheater of his own, because of Ronnie's wanted poster. Hermione and Neville stood together in the crowd, trying to keep from arousing suspicion, but Harry could still see Hermione watching him carefully. Making sure that no one else could see who he was looking at, he gave Hermione a curt nod.
The plan was still on.
"It's been a while since we've last met, menace." Harry turned his attention back to Voldemort, still holding the air of confidence, "I'll have you know that neither my followers nor myself are intimidated by your treasonous actions." The king leaned forward on the railing, looking down at him.
Harry snorted, "Oh really?" he said calmly, "Because there's an article of The Daily Prophet that says otherwise."
Murmurs began to ripple through the crowd in an oh so familiar fashion, making Harry chuckle. He never thought he would see the day that he would use The Daily Prophet to his advantage.
"SILENCE!" Voldemort bellowed, glaring down at the people.
But Harry wasn't done yet, "I'm curious: when you couldn't catch me, did you really think it was necessary to execute one of your poor servants just so these people would still think you had the situation under control, or were you hoping that I would show up and you could show off your alpha-male bravado to everyone?"
If Harry had been up close to the king, he would have seen his red eyes narrow in distain while the Taipan watched in amusement.
"This execution is the death of a rebel spy-" The king began.
"I'm afraid you're mistaken your majesty, I've never seen that man before in my life." Harry shook his head, acting much more confident than he was. "Besides, none of the rebels would be dumb enough to get themselves caught."
Voldemort sneered, "And yet here you are."
Harry chose to ignore the various types of laughter he heard, especially the cackling of the Black Mamba and, he shuddered to think, the demonic giggling of the Taipan. Instead he smiled softly, "What makes you think I didn't want to be captured?"
A tense moment hung between the rebel and the king, both staring intently at each other. They knew the crowds didn't matter at that point; this was a showdown of pride.
"I'd say that only a fool would do such a thing." The king said slowly, wand gripped tightly in his hand.
There was a pause when Harry used to make sure the Order was ready, before deciding to speak, "Maybe I am a fool." He smiled brightly, unnerving several standing around him. 'Well at least they still fear me…' he thought dryly, "NOW!"
At once, every member of the Order began to fire every curse they could. Harry knew that Hermione's first victims had been the Deatheaters holding firmly onto him, he could feel their grips loosen as their stunned bodies hit the ground. Before both Deatheaters were on the ground, Harry was retrieving his wand and training it on Ron's attacker.
It wasn't until Harry was face down on the stone street, arms bound tightly to his sides, that he suddenly realized that he had been captured…again. Harry couldn't help but feel disappointed and frustrated with his situation. He was supposed to be the dreaded rebel menace; he should be the last person standing in this bloody free-for-all. He wasn't supposed to be the first bloody person to go down! He knew that his thinking was a bit brash and prideful, but he had been used to being the last man standing for quite some time and he was sure that he didn't like being the damsel in distress.
With all the effort he could muster, Harry managed to roll onto his back in frustration. It didn't take long for Harry to see the Taipan smirking down at him, wand in hand.
He really should have known it would have been the demented prince, he really should have.
While the Order fought against the Deatheaters, Harry could do nothing but watch as the Taipan Apperated from the royal observation box down to the fray, bending down over Harry's defenseless body.
"Did you miss me?" The blonde smirked, patting Harry's cheek, "You didn't think that I was going to let you get away from me that easily, did you?"
Harry flinched away from the touch, desperately trying to get away from the prince. At the very least, he hoped to get his wand or his hand in a good position to curse Voldemort's Horcrux.
The prince's grey eyes narrowed, making a point to crush Harry's hand under his foot, "The thing about wandless magic." He said softly, his voice a deadly calm monotone, "Is that you still need your hands." To further make his point, he put his weight on Harry's hand. Seeing the pained expression on Harry's face, he smiled a twisted grin, "You know, I've been meaning to learn the Imperius, I guess now I have my practice subject...Harry."
Harry's heart stopped. Had the prince heard him when he had said his name aloud? Fighting his look of shock, he steeled his expression, "Well you're in for a surprise." Harry said forcefully through gritted teeth, trying to wiggle his fingers.
To his surprise, or rather his chagrin, Harry noticed that the prince didn't seem bothered. "We'll see." He said softly, pointing his wand at Harry's face. Harry clenched his free fist in determination.
In a split second, the Taipan's confidence was replaced with a look of unexpected pain as he was pulled away from Harry. The other man blinked in surprise, until it had registered in his mind that Neville had pulled the Taipan off of him by his hair.
"Get away from him!" Neville shouted, putting himself between the prince and Harry. From his vantage point on the ground, Harry couldn't help but smile at the look on the Taipan's face.
"How dare you touch me!" The prince screeched at Neville, grabbing his wand.
Neville, to Harry's great joy, didn't flinch, "Don't make me curse you." He said calmly, getting into a fighting stance. The two blondes stared at each other, daring each other to make the first move. It didn't take long before the curses began to fly.
"Protego!" Neville had no problem deflecting the curse, to Harry's embarrassment. Oh sure, Neville could deflect being captured, but Harry couldn't.
The prince narrowed his eyes, "Confringo!"
Neville ducked from the oncoming spell, stunning a bystander in the terrified crowd, before turning back to the prince. The Taipan, it seemed, didn't like it when his targets moved.
Grey eyes blazed in rage, "SECTEM-"
"Expelliarmus!" Neville got a clear hit, sending the prince's wand flying into the air and into Neville's hand.
"Great work Neville!" Harry laughed at the sight of the defeated Taipan. Stunned, the prince finally realized that he was outmatched and quickly Disapperated. "Now that he's taken care of, get me out of here!"
There was a moment when Neville stared at Harry, ducking a suspiciously green curse that was sent at him, "Um…" Neville started, sending a stunning spell back at his attacker, "What's the spell for that again?"
"NEVILLE!" Harry shouted, "Are you kidding me? What kind of wizard are you?"
"I'm the wizard who just saved your arse, thank you very much" Neville replied, pointing his wand at Harry, "Let's try this…Finite Incantartum."
At once the ropes around Harry disappeared, giving Harry the chance to get back to his feet and in an attack stance, "Honestly Neville 'what's the spell for that again?' ?"
Neville rolled his eyes in response, throwing another spell at an attacking Deatheater. "I'm not the one who got hit."
Harry had to silently agree with Neville, though he had a feeling he wouldn't be living down that particular incident for quite some time.
"Ron!" Hermione had felt her boyfriend being torn from her the moment their hoods had been removed; the Deatheaters had recognized him from his wanted poster. Granted, it wasn't actually Ron's wanted poster, but the Deatheaters didn't care if Ron was Ron or if he was his dimensional twin…nor did she think they would understand.
Ron was desperately fighting against the Deatheater holding him, hoping to break free and join the fray. The Deatheater in question was holding Ron's wand and kept Ron's hand bound up tight.
"Unhand him!" Hermione shouted, rushing to rescue Ron, but careful not to get hit by any of the stray spells that were flying around the chaos of the street. On more than one occasion she had been forced to lunge out of the way of particularly nasty curses. The Deatheaters in this dimension didn't wear masks like they had in Hermione's world. Here they were proud to announce themselves as servants of the Serpent King. So Hermione could clearly see the face of one Lucius Malfoy, the King Cobra.
Malfoy smirked, "What a brave little girl, trying to save her little rebel boy." Ron clenched his teeth at the comment, but the blonde wasn't bothered by the resistance. "I suppose we'll be having a second execution tonight…"
"You sick freak!" Ron shouted, stomping on the King Cobra's foot with all his might.
The act of defiance backfired, the King Cobra jabbing his wand into Ron's side, "Perhaps a lesson is in order, rebel." He sneered, "Crucio!"
Ron didn't get the time to scream in pain because Hermione asked faster, "Bombarda!"
The King Cobra deflected the spell, but in so doing was forced to end his attack on Ron, "How dare you interfere, girl!"
"Touch him again and I swear I'll curse you to oblivion." Hermione shouted at him, gripping her wand so tight her knuckles were white.
In response to her threat, the King Cobra smirked, forcing a bound Ron to the ground and pointing his wand at Hermione, "We'll see about that." He said calmly. Hermione didn't say anything, waiting in silence for the duel to begin.
It didn't take long.
Luckily Hermione knew that it was better to dodge that particular spell instead of trying to deflect it. Her knees stung as they hit the cobblestone street, but she didn't have time for that, "Stupefy!" She hissed, jabbing her wand in the direction of Malfoy.
"Protego." The blonde said casually, flicking away the spell as if it were an insect. He smirked, "Foolish girl, do you even know who I am?"
"You're a downright bastard, if that's what you mean." Hermione muttered, "Expelliarmus!"
The blonde barely even sidestepped the disarming spell, raising his eyebrow, "Bombarda!"
Hermione barely managed to dive out of the way as the concussive curse destroyed the wall behind her. Unfortunately, a piece of stone struck Hermione's back, causing her to land on the ground much harder than she had intended. She groaned as she saw her wand skitter across the ground, out of arms reach. She looked up at Malfoy, who was standing over her with a sickening smirk.
"You know, you remind me of a mudblood servant girl I owned once." He said coldly, "She had the loudest screams…"
Hermione grit her teeth, fist clenching the dirt beneath her hand. She could feel the sandy grit of the dirt fall between her fingers and wedge under her fingernails. She knew that Malfoy was about a heartbeat away from killing her, if the sneer on his face was anything to judge by.
Like Hermione was going to take that lying down.
Hermione swung her arm, letting loose the coarse sand at the arrogant blonde's face. Malfoy's hands flew to his face in an attempt to shield his eyes. As the Deatheater swore and tried to wipe the dirt from his eyes, Hermione dove for her wand, pointing it at the blond.
"Petrificus Totalus!" There was a satisfying thud as Lucius Malfoy's body hit the ground, face down in the dirt. Trying to catch her breath, Hermione rolled the blonde onto his back with a firm kick to his shoulder. After a deep breath to calm herself, she stared down at Malfoy's cold eyes, "Don't call me Mudblood." She said firmly, kicking away his wand before turning to Ron, "Come on Ron, we need to help Harry." She muttered the counter curse at Ron.
The redhead stood quickly, gathering his wand from where Lucius had thrown it, "Bloody hell Hermione, that was wicked." He smiled at her, "I knew there was a reason I loved you."
"Love me later." Hermione huffed, shielding a nasty curse, "Where is Harry?"
Ron groaned, throwing a shield for Hermione, blocking a curse, "I think I found him Hermione." He grumbled, pointed quickly for Hermione to see.
The muggleborn witch turned her head to see where Ron pointed. After stunning another Deatheater, she sighed, "Damnit Harry…"
"No kidding," Ron added, "The man just can't leave Bellatrix alone, can he?"
"Now I've got you, you necromancy freak!" Bellatrix cackled, throwing curse after curse.
Harry ducked to avoid a cutting curse, "Well I guess this means the Deatheaters believe the inferi theory." He muttered.
Neville nodded, shooting a stunning hex back, "You look good for an inferi Harry."
The three dueled for quite some time, not allowing any assistance from either side. Harry couldn't help but wonder just how long they could last without someone getting killed.
Screams filled the air, turning Harry's attention from the duel. In the chaos of the fray, the pyre had been set ablaze. Harry could see the tell-tale beasts of the fire, causing his heart to stop.
The fire was consuming the massive pyre quickly, and it was only because of the tall stake, towering high above the fire, that the poor man at the center of the fire still lived. But it wouldn't be long before the fire reached him, and Harry would be damned if he let an innocent person die for him.
"Harry, look out!" Jerked from his musings, Harry barely avoided a nasty looking curse.
He turned to look at Neville, "I have to save him," he called, pointing up to the poor man, "Can you handle her by yourself?"
Neville looked at Harry, then turned back to Bellatrix, clenching his wand tightly, "Oh yeah," He said calmly, not looking back at Harry, "I can handle her."
If the situation hadn't been so dire, Harry would have found it amusing that Neville had taste for vengeance after all. But there was no time for silly musings; Harry had to find a way to save an innocent man's life. And Harry only knew of one way to escape Fiendfyre.
Running as fast as he could, Harry found the familiar window for the Quidditch shop. There were no advertisements or posters for the local Quidditch team, but Harry didn't care about that. All he needed was the large window in front.
"Reducto!" He cried, shattering the window with little to no effort. The glass was still falling as he climbed inside and grabbed the first broom he saw. A Firebolt, oddly enough.
Again Harry didn't have time to muse, he needed to get back to the fight. Mounting the broom quickly, Harry flew over the heads of the other combatants, aiming for the growing fire and the poor soul caught within it.
Over the clamor of the chaos, Harry never heard the curse that hit him, but he sure felt it. The broom was thrown off course, crashing into the stone street with enough force to dislodge Harry and throwing the wizard's wand across the alley, leaving Harry sore and disoriented.
"You're finished." Harry heard a familiar voice boom. Turning his head, he could see Voldemort standing in the royal box, pointing his wand at Harry. "We will not let you win."
Harry, torn between being impressed by Voldemort's acting skills and annoyed at his insistence of amplifying his voice, rolled his eyes, "What nonsense are you spewing, old man?"
Even from where he was, Harry could see the annoyance flicker across Voldemort's face. Harry took the moment to try and gather his bearings. His wand was nearly 20 feet away, and the broom was nowhere to be seen. Glancing over at the pyre, he could no longer see the screaming man condemned to die.
Damn. It was only after spying the expressions on his friends' faces that Harry accepted that it was time to cut their losses and flee before someone got killed. Now all he had to do was get away from Voldemort.
Voldemort was speaking again, as if Harry could ignore the rumbling voice of the Serpent King, "You're defeated. I will not have you terrorizing my people, Harry."
It was only when Voldemort's loud voice stopped that Harry noticed that the fighting had stopped. No more curses or screaming or people running every which way, they were all just staring at Harry and Voldemort. He couldn't imagine how Voldemort had learned his name, but he could imagine why he used it in such a public manner. Who in their right mind would be scared of the dark lord Harry? No one, and Voldemort knew that. Harry also knew that his friends would need time to escape, and Harry was the only one who could by that time.
'Well,' he mused, 'I guess I better practice my dark lord impression.'
And so he laughed. And laughed. And laughed as loud as he could, casting a quiet 'sonorus' so his voice was also amplified. He was surprised just how much he could laugh like an insane man. His laughing also proved to get the attention of everyone in the Order, even if they were slightly concerned.
As his laughter died off, Harry stood, looking up at the slightly amused Voldemort, "I didn't realize we were on a first name basis…Tom."
Harry could only imagine Hermione rolling her eyes, or perhaps James and Lily's look of horror or Ron trying not to laugh. He didn't dare look away from the very annoyed look on Voldemort's face.
"How dare you!" Voldemort sneered, clenching his wand. Harry noticed that the Taipan was back behind the Serpent King, watching in fascination.
"How dare I?" Harry asked, his voice echoing off the buildings of the alley, "I dare because I know you. I know you better than any in your court or castle, I know you better than your beloved Deatheaters, and I wouldn't be surprised if I knew you better than your precious prince."
It was a bold accusation, but it was most likely true. The only person who might know Voldemort better than Harry would probably be Dumbledore.
The Serpent King was livid, "You know nothing!"
Harry smirked, looking up at the king as he inched his way back to his wand, "I know everything, you son of a muggle." Harry couldn't help but notice that the Taipan blinked in surprise, looking at Voldemort, "Oh? What is this? Has the mighty Serpent King, hero to the purebloods, neglected to mention that he himself is no more than a halfblood? The son of a mere muggle?"
He knew he was begging for a crucio, but he needed to stall. And cause a commotion, and judging by the looks being shared amongst the crowd, it was bound to happen soon.
"You vile creature, your lies have no power here." Voldemort shouted and, if Voldemort had been fully human, Harry could imagine he would have been the same shade of purple that Uncle Vernon tended to have.
"Call me a liar all you want, you know that I speak the truth." Harry said calmly, not letting the activities of the Deatheaters distract him from Voldemort. "It must be frustrating, not knowing your enemy when I know everything about you."
"You know nothing." Voldemort repeated. Harry noted the strained agitation in the Serpent King's voice, seeing the calm nerves of Voldemort fraying.
"I know your fears." Harry continued, closing the gap between him and his wand.
"I doubt that." Was the cold reply.
"You fear death." Harry claimed boldly, standing in front of his wand, trying to shield it from Voldemort's view. "And so you fear me." Harry took a deep breath, placing his hands behind his back.
It was Voldemort's turn to laugh, causing the Deatheaters to join in. Harry noticed that he had quite a while before he achieved the same maniacal laughter as Voldemort. Then again, Harry suspected that not having a nose helped.
Voldemort sneered down at Harry, "Are you death then?"
Harry ignored the condescending tone in Voldemort's voice, keeping a straight face, "I am your death." He said calmly, "Accio wand!"
At the same moment Harry felt the smooth holly wand, Harry he could see Voldemort raise his own wand, rage on his face.
'Well' Harry mused, reacting with the spilt second that he had, 'here we go again.'
To Harry's relief, the beams hit each other dead on, just as expected. Or at least just as Harry expected; not that Voldemort knew what was going on. Harry liked knowing that he had the advantage for once. It felt good. As the golden web grew, Harry noticed out of the corner of his eye that Hermione and Ron shared an expression of both awe and horror. He realized that for all the adventures that they had shared, Ron and Hermione had never witnessed the joining of the brother wands. No one had. And now everyone was standing around like idiots instead of getting away safely.
"Run, you idiots!" Harry shouted at the Order.
The effect was instantaneous. Both Order members and Deatheaters sprung to life, firing curses at one another. Harry sighed with relief as he saw members of the Order disappearing using the Portkeys they had (because honestly, Harry wasn't dumb enough to believe that Voldemort wouldn't use Anti-Apparition wards in his trap), turning his attention back to Voldemort.
"Not used to not getting your way, are you Tom?" Harry shouted over the dueling curses, "Makes you feel weak doesn't it?"
Voldemort glared down at Harry, trying to will his curse to kill Harry, "I'll destroy you…" Harry could almost hear the snakelike hiss in the Serpent King's voice.
Harry grit his teeth, "I really doubt that. I'm really difficult to kill."
Over the sounds of the dueling curses, Harry could hear the sounds of struggling and curses being fired. Sparing a glance over his shoulder, Harry could see none other than Neville, still in his vendetta duel with Bellatrix. Harry groaned, this made things complicated, "Neville!"
Neville didn't dare take his eyes off Bellatrix, so his back was to Harry, "Yeah Harry?" He called out, blocking one of Bellatrix's curses.
Harry bit his lip, the strain of keeping his wand connected with Voldemort's was wearing on him. He braced himself, looking at Voldemort, then at the angry looking killing curse, then at Bellatrix and Neville. Harry hoped he didn't regret his actions… "DUCK!"
In the same instant that Harry yelled, he pulled his wand away from the golden web, cutting off the connection and leaving no resistance for Voldemort's Aveda Kedavra. Time seemed to slow down as the sickly green curse hurtled down its path; Harry lunged out of its path, hoping that Neville had the same reflexes.
Harry had barely hit the ground when the light from the curse faded; the curse had found a target. Harry looked up, his heart beating out of his chest as he saw both Neville and Bellatrix on the ground.
If ever there was a time that Harry had ever felt guilty for someone's death, it was then. How could he have been so foolish as to allow the killing curse to hurtle towards someone's back? How could he have thought that Neville had the same reflexes as his? How could he have thought that anything he had done had been a good idea?
But after what seemed like an eternity to Harry's racing heart, Neville slowly got to his feet.
Harry didn't need to have a soul connection with Voldemort to know that the Serpent King was furious. But to be honest, he didn't really intend to let Voldemort get another shot at him. He was already sprinting towards Neville by the time the crowds had gotten over their shock. Neville had his hand in his pocket, around the Portkey no doubt, and Harry wasted no time in lunging for the other man. He could almost feel the killing curse strike where he had previously be standing as he collided into Neville just as he spoke the code word for the Portkey.
The momentum of Harry lunging for Neville continued, forcing both of them to crash into the wood floor of the headquarters. There was a thin layer of dust that was displaced by their landing, and Harry had somehow managed to land on top of Neville. But Harry honestly didn't care, he was just glad that he wasn't dead or captured by the Deatheaters.
Harry groaned softly, letting his head fall onto Neville's chest, "That was a bloody disaster." He mumbled, too exhausted to even move himself from his place on top of the other boy.
Neville nodded slowly, laying back on the floor, "It wasn't so bad…" he reasoned. Leave it to Neville to try and be positive. Then he smiled dryly, "So who do you think will get the credit for killing Bellatrix?"
What? She killed Bellatrix and it wasn't in the final battle? How can it be? Easy, its one less Deatheater that slave has to write for during that chapter.
I really hope you guys liked that chapter, I honestly was writing it over the months that I was gone (it was a slow process, but I worked hard)
Alright, question time! Who do you think was the servant that the Serpent King had framed as a spy? Yes its a character you might know, but its not an obvious choice. If you guess correctly, I will contact you and tell you so...and maybe give you some sneak peaks ;)
Well I hope I don't take so long for the next chapter!
Until next time,