Sorry for the wait. I've been busy at school.

Please enjoy.

Walking Free

The students return

Harry relaxed into the back of an old dresser and closed his eyes while Dumbledore sent out a patronous to all the order members. The brunette coughed in discomfort as blood began to flow from his nose and fill his mouth. The warm, thick liquid began to trickle down his throat, making him splutter and spray speckles of blood over his clothes and the floor. The Headmaster turned to him and crouched by his side.

'Let me see, my boy.' He tilted Harry's head upwards to inspect the injury and clotted the bleeding with a wave of his wand when he realised it was simply a nose bleed caused, he assumed, by the swelling of the power of the Horcrux inside Harry. He then cast a cleaning charm on his face which removed all traces of blood on his face and inside his mouth.

'Thanks.' he said softly, his mouth still feeling a little tacky.

'We should get going, Harry. I must inform the rest of the staff and the students need to be evacuated.' Harry nodded and slowly, with aid of the furniture behind him, got to his feet. Dumbledore sent out another message, this time to all three remaining head of houses, telling them to meet him in his office immediately. The elderly man gave Harry once over, checking for any other injuries before leading them both out of the Room of Requirement. They hurried down the many staircases to the third floor where Dumbledore's office was situated. When they arrived they found Sprout and Flitwick approaching the large statue, muttering urgently between themselves.

'Albus!' Sprout said worriedly. 'Has something happened?'

'I'll let you all know as soon as we are in the office, Pomona.' Dumbledore said gently but Harry could hear the tone of fear in his voice. He then gave the password and the four wizards filed up the stairs and entered the office to find McGonagall waiting by his desk, her eyes creased with concern.

'Potter, it's good to see you again.'

Harry nodded in return as he slumped into a chair in front of the desk. His legs had begun to shake and he was exhausted. He had no idea how would face Voldemort now when he was in such a state. He just hoped that the adrenalin would kick in soon.

Dumbledore, once everyone was in the room, began to explain the situation. 'It has come to our attention that Voldemort is planning on ambushing the castle shortly. It is clear that he will not cease his attack until he is successful.' The room was silent as the new suck in. Flitwick put a hand to his forehead, while Sprout shut damp eyes, he fists clenched tightly. McGonagall pursed her lips and stood tall, her determination not to become emotional clear in her stature. 'We must defend ourselves as best possible. I shall inform Hagrid to enlist the help of any creatures in the forest who are willing to fight for our side. However, the most important matter at hand is evacuating the students. Minerva, could you please organize for the students to meet in the Great Hall at once. I will notify the students to the upcoming events and then they must split into their houses where they can be led, by yourselves, to numerous fireplaces to be evacuated safely.'

'But Albus, where is Severus.' Flitwick questioned.

Dumbledore sighed. 'He is unattainable at the moment. For the purposes of evacuation I will be in charge of the Slytherins'. Are there any questions?'

The Great Hall was buzzing with activity and intrigued voices. Some students looked a little bored, probably expecting some lecture on behavior or exams. Harry swallowed thickly as he looked past the door to the hall, waiting for Dumbledore to led him into the room. He had been talking hastily to Hagrid who had pulled Harry into a bear hug as soon as he entered the school. The half giant then ran back out of the building and the headmaster marched into the hall, Harry following nervously, and stood before the school.

The students hushed their chatter when they noticed Harry Potter stood only a few metres from the headmaster, next to McGonagall, Sprout and Flitwick.

'Students. I am afraid to be the barer of bad news. I am sure you all know of the raging war that has been encompassed in our lives for many years. It has been escalating to this point. Earlier today it came to our knowledge,' he indicated to Harry, 'that Lord Voldemort is on his way to the castle.'

Harry should have expected the response. Screams erupted and many students began shoving passed their classmen, desperate to escape the school. The Staff automatically started to herd them back into the hall, trying to calm the panicked teenagers.

'SILENCE!' Dumbledore roared over the cries and screamed. 'Do not panic! There is no reason to do so!' The students calmed a little and turned back to face him. 'You will shortly be evacuated. All students whom are underage must be evacuated and those over the age of seventeen who wish to fight may stay. Now, you must follow your head of house to their offices.' The majority of the students began stumbling towards their respective professors while the Slytherins stood in a worried group, looking around themselves for Snape. 'As Professor Snape is currently unavailable all Slytherins are to follow myself.'

The headmaster then turned to Harry. 'I need you to stay here and round up the sixth and seventh years that wish to fight.'

Harry nodded nervously and remained standing on the platform while the rest of the school filed out of the hall. In a voice that he hoped sounded confident, he called out over the noise.

'Any students wishing to fight please come to me.'

At first he saw no sign of willing volunteers. The teenagers continued to flood from the hall, faces transfixed in complex emotion. Harry was starting to feel like a complete idiot, standing up there alone, practically being ignored, when a few gangly boys began pushing back through the crowd. They stopped in front of him and one gave a weak smile, the other seemed excited and bounced on the balls of his feet. A few other students then joined, mostly boys with a handful of girls. He was about to start counting the students when he spotted Dennis Creevey waving at him from the group. He was stood by a tall girl who had her arm around his, looking a little pale. Harry noticed that one of the boys, a Ravenclaw, was wearing the headboy's badge while a couple other students wore prefect badges. It seemed they were fulfilling their duty as heads of the school and while Harry thought it admirable, he decided it was time to weed out the unwilling of those surrounding him.

'I have to admit, I'm surprised by the number of people here.' he said after quickly counting the people before him; roughly forty students had stayed behind. 'I think it's commendable that you are all prepared to go to battle for us, for the whole of the Wizarding world but I have to warn you that this isn't a game. This is real life. There will be blood, there will be pain and there will be death. You yourselves may die fighting.' The students began to fidget nervously, a few of them tugging on each others' sleeves, already wanting to leave. 'This will not be easy and the outcome could be devastating. None of you have any obligation to fight. You have all chosen to be here so if any of you wish to leave, then please do. We haven't got the time to watch out for those who find themselves unwilling to help when it is needed the most. However, do not feel ashamed if you wish to be evacuated with the rest of the school. No one will think you a coward.' The students remained still apart from a girl who stood at the back. She grabbed her friends hand and pulled him away from the group and hurried to the door. The boy looked back, his cheeks red with embarrassment but Harry gave him a nod of reassurance. 'Like I said, this is not a game or some adventure that will end when you get tired or want to go home. I've noticed that a few of you seem excited at the prospect of fighting. This worries me.' He looked purposefully at the boy who had been a little too eager not long ago who now took the opportunity to stare at his feet. 'If you go into this battle with the idea that this is going to be fun or anything like your DADA lessons then you are sorely mistaken. If you go into this battle with that attitude you won't last ten seconds.'

After giving them all the chance to leave once again, where they all stayed put, Harry gave them a few tips on how to defend themselves against more than one opponent. He advised them to stick together and allow no one to attack them from behind. He told them all to choose a group of a least four friends to stay with during the battle, which gave Dennis Creevey the chance to approach him.

'That was a great speech Harry, really superb.' the boy began at supersonic speed. 'You really got them all pumped! This is gonna be so intense. I can't believe I'm really here, with you, Harry Potter, about to fight against the Darkest Wizard of all time! Collin should be coming any minute now. I sent him a message just now to let him know. He's photographer now, did you know? He works for the Daily Prophet. Mum's really proud of him. Hey, this is my friend, Natalie.' He briefly indicated to the girl behind him who was biting her lip. 'I told you about her the last time I saw you. McDonald.' Harry looked at him in silence as the boy stopped for breath. 'That's her surname. McDonald. Just in case you didn't know.'

'That's great, Dennis.' Harry smiled at Natalie who flushed pink and tried to pull Dennis away. 'But Dennis, you know I was serious, didn't you?' Dennis looked a little confused. 'This is going to be very dangerous and I need you to take me seriously.'

Dennis nodded then smiled his usual goofy smile. 'No worries, Harry. I'll be fine!'

'You are of age, aren't you, Dennis?'

'Yep, yep, course I am. Wouldn't be here if I wasn't, would I?'

A portly woman, as round and she was high, with short brown hair and a friendly smile, despite the situation, then appear from the crowd and told the students to follow her. Harry caught Dennis' arm and asked who she was.

'That's Mrs. Higginbottom, Defense of the Dark Arts. She's perfectly nice and knows her stuff but when it comes to practicals, well…she needn't bother squeezing herself from her seat.'

Harry's heart sank and he sighed. 'Great.'

'You know, cause she's like really fat.'

'Yeah, I got it, Dennis, thanks.'

'Well, I'll see you later, Harry!' Harry waved him off, hoping that'd be the case. As he watched the boy hurried after the other students, wringing his hands nervously. As they passed through the large double doors Harry noticed a familiar group of people. He frowned in concern as he recognized a few of his past classmates who apparently hadn't been particularly supportive when he was arrested. Ron and Hermione were in the group and soon spotted him. The redhead made his way over, the others following.

'Hey.' Ron said as he approached. 'You feeling okay?'

Harry nodded with a quivering smile, tentatively accepting the hug that Hermione threw around him. She pulled away and looked into his eyes. Harry could see the fear in her face, but she tried to appear confidant, holding her head high. 'We came as soon as we got the message.'

'What about Malfoy?' Harry questioned, noticing his absence. 'He's not coming?'

Ron shrugged. 'He was still trying to make up his mind when we left. Wearing out the carpets with his bloody pacing.'

'I hope he makes the right decision.' Hermione said.

Harry sighed. 'Me too.'

He looked around himself then, at the people he had once been to school with. He saw Luna Lovegood and Lavender Brown standing together, the latter biting her nails while Luna chatted away happily, clearly trying to diffuse the tension. He also noticed Dean, Seamus and Neville as well as numerous other members of their year group. Harry was surprised by some of the people there but assumed that once word of the battle had been let out it would have spread among friends and family and it seemed many of them were prepared to fight.

Scanning through the throng of people once again Harry caught the eyes of Seamus who gave him a short nod to which Harry raised a brow. Seamus had been one of the many people to turn their backs on him during his stint in Azkaban. Had it simply been the man's lack of trust in him Harry wouldn't have minded so much; what else were people supposed to think when he was put in prison for murder, but according to Ron the boy had said some rather vile things which he hadn't expected from a friend.

However, now was not the time for self pity. Voldemort and his Death Eater were coming; he could feel the magic burning. His forehead began to throb, sending a sickening chill down his spine, despite the fact that he had started to perspire under the pressure of his task.

For all he knew, within the next few hours, he and his loved one would be dead.

The clock refused to cease its continuous chatter. It was the only persistent noise in the room and it niggled at the occupant's confused mind. The second hand staggered round in a steady, monotonous rhythm, pausing after each tick, as if to emphasize the time slipping away, running out. The minute hand quivered round at an agonizing speed, following its instructions from the second hand. The occupant of the room watched the slim hands as they moved around the clock face. At first is appeared like an unfair race, in favor of the smaller hand which moved at an astonishing rate compared to its large competitor who's sluggish movements held it back. The occupant then scolded himself for not seeing the obvious advantage to the larger hand. The distance it had to travel was so much smaller that in turn, it balanced out the advantage of the smaller hand's speed, equaling to a fair race, which wasn't actually a race at all…simple a ticking clock.

The clock struck the hour.

'Bloody hell, Draco!' the blonde growled to himself. 'Concentrate!'

He stood from his chair in the living room with force, propelling himself forward as he began to pace the floor. Weasley and Granger had left the house an hour ago, leaving Draco to make up his mind as to which side he would support, if he managed to pluck up the courage to go at all, when he made it to Hogwarts. In his mind there was no question as to which side, dark or light, he was in favor of. While his father may still be immersed in the twisted world of the Dark Lord, his mother had always doubted her decision to join her husband along the treacherous path of the Death Eaters. She had always been a compassionate woman and cared deeply for her family, especially her husband and only son. It was because of this love and trust in her husband that she followed him into the dark and that love for her son that made her regret her decision ever since. Herself and Lucius had effectively ruined their son's life by involving themselves with the Dark Lord and trying to convince him to fulfill his duty as a Malfoy and join them. Narcissa may not have been particularly pleased with the idea of Draco becoming a Death Eater, yet she did little to stop it from happening. During the time Draco was allowed to make his decision, which they all had known since the matter was brought up; Narcissa became more and more concerned for her child's safety. Draco was not like his father. They may look alike but where Lucius had a thirst for power, Draco had cowardice. Lucius was desperate to fight for control over others, to come out on top and although this had been installed in their son since birth, the motivation was simply not there. From the age of two, Narcissa had known that her son was a coward. He was very unwilling to attempt anything unknown to him. Getting the child to walk had been a nightmare as whenever she tried to encourage him to do it he simply whimpered and grizzled up at his mother and she would hurriedly scoop him up into her arms, hating to see him upset. She couldn't help but indulge her only child, her baby boy. Unknowingly she had led her son to live a sheltered life and encouraged fear at the thought of independence. As he grew up he obeyed orders, did as his father said and never questioned the path he was born to follow. The only time he had to fend for himself was at school by which point he had been indoctrinated with thoughts of blood purity and used his newfound freedom to spread the word of his father, bullying others into believing that all muggleborns were a disgrace to the Wizarding world and should not be allowed to practice magic, especially in schools.

However, now it was different. He was on his own. Draco knew that whatever he was going to do next was up to him. He had the control over his actions and no one else. Neither of his parents were there to help him or tell him what he should do. He had to be a man and make those decisions for himself.

In frustration he stopped pacing in front of the fireplace, bringing both hands up to hold onto the mantelpiece, arms outstretched. His hair flopped into his eyes and his shoulders drooped. Glancing up he caught his reflection in the mirror. His eyes were dark with fear, the pupils wide and full. Flicking his hair out of his eyes he stared more deeply into the eyes of his reflection. He continued to stare as he felt the presence of his parents in the room with him. He knew he was alone but he could see them in the eyes that stared back at him. He was a mixture of the good and bad within both his parents and he knew that despite the things they had all done because of their power hungry mindsets, they were a family. He needed to do all he could to protect them.

Turning around he grabbed his wand from the sofa and hurried downstairs to the hall. Throwing open the door he hurried through, slamming it behind him. Moments later he was spinning in a blur as he apparated on the spot. Almost instantly he was staggering as he landed on a hill top in Hogsmeade. From where stood he could clearly see the mass of dark wizards outside the school gates, shooting curses at the gigantic ward surrounding the building. Draco watched, a lump in his throat, as the ward began to split and crumble away, becoming weaker by the second. He knew that in only moments Hogwarts would be invaded and many innocent people were soon to die.

blaiseice9967- Sorry, it's coming to and end. :(

NarglesAreBehindIt- Hope you liked it. It was a bit short though and not much happened.

Fred- Yeah, I know that his wand it 11 inches (and three quaters) but she was blushing because of how Ron's comment sounded, not because of the lenght. :)

Jim Red Hawk- I'm also not that keen on Ginny/Harry but I don;t really think that we could say that he would be better off with Daphne, Susan or Tracu because we know practically nothing about them. They are hardly mentioned in the books. But I do agree with you about Ginny not being the best match for Harry although I think that could just be because I don't like movie Ginny. Book Ginny is a lot better.

bonepart118- They never liked each other to begin with so would be unlikely to spend time together even if they were in the smae house, so they wouldn't be friends I guess.

Phoenixx Rising- Aww thanks. I want Voldy to die in a hole. But I love Ralph Fiennes.

DukeBrymin- He's bitter so he's smiling sarcastically.