Voldemort not going after children of other countries — Voldemort doesn't want to give any nation a reason to get involved. If he went after any of their children, they would no doubt get involved-which he does not want.
Will Severus reveal he's from the future? — I'm honestly not sure if I will have him come clean or not, though if he does, it will probably only be with Dumbledore and/or Harry.
Harry learning about the Prophecy — Just as in canon, Dumbledore believes Harry has enough on his mind (and he's right). And as for Severus, he won't reveal it to Harry unless he sees an actual need for it (as he would if another situation like canon-5th year occurred).
Part 31: Scars
Harry couldn't believe he was back in his dormitory bed at Hogwarts.
He hadn't gone to the funeral. It had been a private affair with only family and close family friends attending. And as much as he wished he could have gone, Harry wasn't sure how he would have felt if he had been invited.
The Flamel's did their best to keep his mind occupied, gently teaching him that life does go on, even though the life of individuals do not. It was a painful lesson; though, being an orphan, it wasn't a hard one to grasp. As promised, Nicholas started teaching him Alchemy, which was a bit different than potion making, as one actually got to use their wand. However, despite the distraction and his desire to learn the art, news concerning the Longbottoms shook his concentration and made his heart clench in worry.
Alice Longbottom had fallen into a coma not long after Dr. Price had finished his work (which he had carried out a few days after Harry had visited them), and Frank Longbottom seemed to have sunken deeper into his. Apparently, Dr. Price had expected something like this might happen, and had warned Augusta Longbottom as much, however, he seemed hopeful and said what they needed now was time. Harry hoped the doctor was right.
As for his parcelmagic, it was making slow but steady progress, and in fact he was nearly done with the crucio-protection. He had learned, after meticulously working on placing the protection on himself, that the key was laying it in layers. He could not, like he could in the healing aspect of parselmagic, just blanket the area and call it good. There was substance to it, and to force it was frankly dangerous.
However, his newfound understanding of protective magic was not all of his doing. He had gotten help from, once again, Mr. Lee, who sent him two more ancient texts on it, and had also gained some insightful information from Mrs. Abelie Cagnina, who he had met at his Order of Merlin Award Ceremony. He kept them both informed of his progress and promised to continue.
However, he told no one of his other project concerning the protection against the killing curse.
Severus closed the door to his study. It had been a hard day, and he knew the rest of term would be just as hard, if not harder.
He turned around and faced his godson and his three dorm mates: Gregory Goyle, Blaise Zabini, and Theodore Nott.
Vince's murder was understandably still raw on everyone's minds, and his absence was only going to become more realized as they continued on without him. This was what had prompted the little meeting with his second year snakes. Something had to be done/decided about their dorm room, first and foremost.
Albus had offered to remove Vince's bed and completely rearrange the room before the students returned, as the constant reminder day in and day out would be trying for most any soul, but Severus had declined, at least for the moment.
To walk in a room you had called your temporary home for a year and a half and find it completely changed with no warning would be utterly jarring. So Severus chose to discuss what should be done with those who knew Vince best before deciding anything.
"I know it's late, but I felt it best we talk now rather than later," he began.
Draco and the others frankly looked like the last thing they wanted to do was talk. Severus couldn't blame them. He imagined all they had been doing since it happened was talk about it.
"Not about what's happened," Snape assured them, which caused them all to heave a sigh of relief. "But rather about your living arrangements."
At first, they all looked completely confused, but then realization dawned on them, though it was Draco who finally spoke.
"I think the others would agree with me that staying in the same dorm now would be . . . hard."
Greg and the other boys nodded sadly.
"But where else can we go?" Draco asked.
"The Headmaster has arranged for another dorm room to be made in case you wished to sleep elsewhere. It will be arranged differently from your old one, and will only have four beds, unless you wish to keep with the customary five," Severus gently explained.
Draco nodded. "I think we'll do that then. We have enough around us to act as a reminder of . . . what's happened."
Severus gave a quiet nod before leading them to their new dorm, which was still in the Slytherin Dormitory but a fair distance from their old one. With each step they took, they knew things were going to get harder before they got better.
The following days were surreal, and it took weeks to get used to no longer seeing Vince at Draco's right. It was harder than many thought it would be, but Gregory especially was having such a difficult time that it was beginning to show in his grades. Draco and the others tried to help, to at least keep him passing, but it was becoming increasingly arduous. In the end, Severus had to take Greg to the Headmaster's office to have a meeting with his parents.
While Greg was having academic problems, Harry was having occasional nightmares. Fortunately, the Flamels had helped him overcome the bulk of the emotional burden, but the rest he realized would have to diminish over time. It was, but slowly. However, Harry used it to his advantage, using it to drive him to improve his protective parselmagic and get ever closer to defeating the killing curse.
It was strange, somewhat. He had yet to share with anyone about his desire and plan of finding a way to block the killing curse. A part of him felt embarrassed for some reason. He couldn't quite explain why, even to himself, but he just felt better keeping it to himself. Until he made some real, tangible progress, he would keep what he was doing (or planning to do) to himself.
On another note, he had finished placing the crucio protection on himself and in his spare time was beginning to place it on Coral, Neville, Draco, and Greg. Often times he did this in the library while they were doing their homework. The moment he finished he would move beside one of them and begin quietly using parselmagic. Of course, it was a very slow process, but he was getting marginally faster with his application of the protection, though he had to stop sometimes to rest.
"Hello, Harry Potter."
Harry startled, turning around to find Luna Lovegood standing behind him. He had just left the library, leaving the others so he could get some air (be alone for a little while) before dinner. After Vince, they all occasionally desired alone time.
"Oh, hi. Luna, right?" Harry asked, not quite positive about her name, as the last time he had really spoken to her had been on the train after the summer holiday.
"You remember. Most people forget and call me Looney instead. I suppose it's an understandable mistake," she said simply.
Harry blinked, not really having the heart to tell her those people hadn't likely forgotten, but were actually being mean instead.
"They'll get better over time, you know," Luna said suddenly.
"Er . . . I'm sorry?" Harry asked, confused.
"Your nightmares. I had some for a while after I saw my mum die."
Harry's eyes widened. "I'm sorry." He didn't know what else to say.
"Yes, it was rather horrible. I still feel very sad about it sometimes. She was quite an extraordinary witch, but she did like to experiment, and one day, one of her spells went badly wrong. I was nine."
"I can't imagine," Harry managed. Really, what is one supposed to say after hearing that? He didn't know, and neither did Coral.
"There are some things none of us can imagine until they happen to us, and there are some things that will never happen to us, so we will never fully understand how something feels."
"I suppose," Harry answered, now feeling as if he was in a daze.
"My nightmares lasted for a long time, and sometimes they would go all strange. Things would happen in them that hadn't happened in real life. Like my father would be there and try to help, but it would make no difference or would make things worse. Then other times monsters would come or garden gnomes would. Has this happened to you?"
Harry rarely had the desire to lie, but in this instance it went beyond that. Here he had no desire to hide.
"A bit, though no gnomes."
Luna nodded thoughtfully. "You'll find out the truth," she said after a moment.
"What truth?" Harry asked, confused once again. Coral tilted her head in bemusement.
"You're right, you know. You were just a baby. Could you let me know the secret when you find it out?" Luna asked, apparently oblivious to Harry's bewilderment.
"Er, sure?" Harry asked, scratching his head. Coral was now hissing giggles.
"Thanks, Harry. I'll see you around then."
"Yeah. See you," he said as she turned and walked away.
:She's a bit odd: Coral said as they watched her disappear around a corner.
:Yes, very. I wonder what she meant by 'the truth':
Coral shrugged. :No idea:
Harry entered the Great Hall less than an hour later and quickly joined Neville at the Hufflepuff table; however, the place was not as calm and happy as it should have been.
"Professor McGonagall came and got them ten minutes ago," someone said.
"What's happened?" another asked.
"Something bad. I heard a prefect say something about it involving You-Know-Who."
Harry looked at Neville, raising an eyebrow.
"Professor McGonagall took some of her Gryffindors. The Weasleys I think."
"The red haired family?" Harry asked.
They were impossible to miss, after all, and the Weasley Twins were pretty popular where quidditch and pranking were concerned. Harry also knew of Ronald, sharing some classes and all.
Neville nodded and glanced up to the head table. Harry followed his gaze and found that Professor McGonagall wasn't there, though the Headmaster and the other professors were. However, they looked concerned and rather tense, which only made Harry and the other students wonder even more what had happened.
It was the next day they learned that the Weasleys' home, a place called 'The Burrow', had been completely destroyed by Voldemort and his death eaters. Fortunately, no one had been killed, but Mrs. Weasley had been burned by fiendfyre while her oldest son, William (Bill) Weasley, had lost his leg. They had been the only ones home at the time of the attack, and it was only thanks to Bill that they had managed to get out in time. He had apparated him and his mother away, though due to curses flying everywhere and the fiendfyre, he had failed to block a curse (which hit his knee) and splinched himself — leaving his leg behind.
Both Molly Weasley and her son were expected to survive, but not without permanent scars and damage.
The Weasley children returned to Hogwarts a week later, all of them quite subdued, even the twins. Harry wondered if he'd be able to help Mrs. Weasley, but then realized Fiendfyre was cursed fire. It was unlikely he'd be able to do anything even if he was asked to try.
And so it continued.
In the following month, the Bones' mansion was attacked; however, thanks to its ancient wards, the aurors had been able to arrive in time to prevent it from being obliterated like the Burrow had been. Madam Bones had fortunately escaped harm from the ruthless death eaters, but the arrival of the aurors hadn't been able to save the Bones' house elves or her devoted squib gardener.
At the same time the Bones' residence had been under assault, the Diggory's home had been as well. Mrs. Diggory witnessed the murder of her husband, Amos Diggory, by Bellatric Lestrange.
Susan Bones took some time away from school to visit her aunt, but returned a few days later. Cedric Diggory was gone for much longer — helping his mother arrange the funeral as they both tried to cope with the horrible loss.
Weeks later, muggle-born families were targeted, including the Cresswells and Clearwaters. Coupled with those attacks, Voldemort himself carried out an attack on the home of Andromeda Tonks (formerly Black). All of the Tonks were home, and he found them. Although the Daily Prophet wasn't explicit with the details, the quotes they got from the aurors who found what was left was more than enough to give anyone with an imagination a gruesome picture. None of the Tonks had survived.
It was becoming an increasingly scary time to be alive, but like all times, happy moments in the midst of tragedy took place.
It was a week after the most recent attack when Harry was approached by the youngest male Weasley. They were in Herbology, but class had yet to start.
"Er, Potter?" Ron Weasley asked, approaching Harry and Neville.
Harry turned and faced him, a bit of dread rising in his chest. He was certain what this was going to be about.
"Um, you're really good with healing, yeah?"
Harry couldn't help but lift an eyebrow at the rather pointless question. "A bit, I suppose. Why?"
"How good are you with, well . . . scars?" he asked, whispering toward the end, suddenly wishing he had been able to catch Harry in a more private place.
Harry frowned and gave a small sigh. "Is this about your mother?"
Ron bit his lip and gave a short nod. "I was hoping, maybe . . . you could, I don't know, try?"
"Weasley, she was hurt by cursed fire. I'm afraid I haven't figured out how to deal with –"
:Wait, Harry. Maybe we could try. Remember that conversation you had with the Headmaster about old and new scars?:
Harry went still and quiet, making Ron look at Coral and him hopefully. :I can't break down curse scars though:
:You've never tried removing them by going into the healthy flesh. You might be able to remove them if you sacrifice a bit of good tissue: Coral continued. :As gruesome as it is, perhaps you could lift them out:
Harry managed not to blanch at that mental picture, as it did have merit. Perhaps it would be a fair trade, though he wasn't sure how well he'd be able to fill in the void if he did manage to remove the cursed scar tissue. He supposed it would depend on how deep the scar went, and how much blood supply and magic he had to work with.
"If your mother would be willing to allow me to try, I might be able to do something. I can't promise you anything, but Coral has pointed out one possible route," Harry finally said, looking to Ron.
Ron broke into a huge grin. "Oh, thank you, Potter! I'll write to my mum right away!"
"Have her contact Madam Pomfrey. Maybe she could come here during a weekend?" Harry suggested, even as Ron bolted toward the exit, nearly bumping into a bemused Professor Sprout.
"I need to write to my mum, Professor; really important, please excuse me! Sorry!" Ron babbled before disappearing down the hall.
Sprout turned and looked at Harry who gave a soft smile and shrugged. Sprout was kind enough not to deduct points, though she did assign him an extra foot of homework to cover what he missed in class. Surprisingly, Ron didn't mind at all, though he did get a mild speaking to from the Granger girl afterward ('I understand why you left, but, really, you're lucky Professor Sprout is so nice. You could have gotten in big trouble!').
O o O
The weekend arrived, and it was an eager Ronald Weasley who led the way to the infirmary.
Entering the infirmary, Harry was suddenly very self-conscious, as the whole Weasley family was there, even the now one-legged Bill Weasley. However, his eyes quickly fell to the Weasley Matriarch and all his previous unease instantly evaporated.
She was in simple robes with colorfully knitted long sleeves. She had a scarf wrapped around her head, obscuring her face, and thin, worn gloves. She appeared nervous, fidgeting with her hands as she did her best to only have the left side of her face visible to the room.
Madam Pomfrey was beside her and motioned Harry toward them as Mr. Weasley stepped up and offered his hand.
"Mr. Potter, thank you so much for doing this. We know it's not a guarantee, but we're still grateful you've agreed to try," he said as he shook Harry's hand.
Madam Pomfrey gave his shoulder a pat before taking over. "I believe it would be best if you all waited outside while Harry and I get to work," she said, looking to the Weasley children. "Arthur, you may stay if you wish, of course."
Arthur nodded and gave his wife's good hand a squeeze before he nodded to his children to wait outside. They left without complaint, which honestly surprised Harry a bit. Much of what he had heard about the Weasley's involved them being rowdy and disobedient. Granted, the Twins seemed to be the ones causing that image—save for this instance.
Now alone, Madam Pomfrey led Molly to a bed and had her lay down. Arthur moved to her good side, keeping her hand all the while.
"I'm going to remove the glamour now, as well as your scarf and your right sleeve," Pomfrey said gently.
Molly looked at Harry, and Harry was saddened by the shame he saw in her eyes. He offered her a small smile.
"Alright, Poppy," Molly whispered, causing Pomfrey to wave her wand.
Harry barely managed to keep his expression neutral as his eyes took in the damage the mother of seven had suffered. Coral tightened around his wrist.
She had been severely burned from the top of her right hand all the way up her arm to the side of her face. She was blind in her right eye, and her hair on that side of her head was gone. All along the devastated skin were hills and valleys of puckered scars, some angry red, while others were pale white. Her face was by far the worst. It was impossible to identify her simply by looking at her from that side. It was clear why Ron had acted the way he had, and to Harry the physical scaring was only half of Mrs. Weasley's injuries. Just by looking at her, he could tell her sense of self-worth was nearly nonexistent.
"I'm going to scan you now," Harry said, lifting his left hand and exposing Coral's head before doing just what he said.
Harry did his best to keep all emotion from his face. The fiendfyre had certainly done damage. In certain areas the scar tissue reached into the muscle itself, while other places were shallow, only marring layers of skin. If he carried out his plan of practically scooping out the scar tissue, it was going to get very messy.
He continued up her arm, investigating the damage to the shoulder, then her neck and finally her face. There wasn't anything he could do for her eye (as far as he knew anyway), but with any luck he could help her be able to recognize herself in the mirror again with her good eye. As it stood now, the scaring was too heavy and thick to make out any familiar features on that side at all. He wasn't sure what he would be able to do with her ear, as it was little more than a clump of shriveled tissue, but hopefully Pomfrey would have an idea.
He lowered his hand and nodded to Pomfrey. "I can start on her arm today, but I think she should be asleep for it."
He felt a little awkward to be talking about his patient when she was right there, but she didn't seem to be capable of much discussion, so he glanced at Mr. Weasley.
"I think that would be best," Pomfrey agreed. "Are you willing to start today, Molly, Arthur?"
Arthur nodded. "If Mr. Potter is confident, we wish to start right away."
"Very good. Shall I go over what this will entail with the two of you?" Pomfrey asked. "I must admit what's involved is quite . . . invasive, but I believe it is the only way to reduce the visible damage."
"Please," Arthur said as Molly closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
Pomfrey moved to Harry's side and trailed her finger across Molly's arm.
"Harry and I discussed this earlier this week, and we've decided it would be best for him to start with your arm. He will go in and lift as much of the scar tissue as he can by going along the good tissue. You will sacrifice a few millimeters of undamaged tissue for scar removal and hopefully re-growth of healthy skin and flesh."
"'Hopefully'?" Arthur asked.
"Because the damage was caused by magical means, we cannot be sure how deeply it has affected the body. At worst, a void will be left where any scar tissue was removed, at best, new, unblemished skin will take its place. Harry will be working in small stages, so we will know right away if we can continue."
"Alright," Arthur said, giving his wife's hand a squeeze.
Pomfrey nodded and got the necessary potions and a narrow curtain to place over Molly.
"I want you to take these potions. Blood replenishing and Dreamless Sleep," Pomfrey said, handing them to Molly who drank the first immediately.
Before swigging down the second, she looked at Harry. "Thank you, dear, so much, for trying this — whatever you're able to do, I'm grateful."
"You're welcome, Mrs. Weasley," Harry said, deciding that was the only thing he could say.
She fell asleep soon after and Madam Pomfrey maneuvered the curtain to completely block Arthur's view of Molly's arm.
"You may remain, and please, if she shows any signs of waking, calmly let us know immediately. Our main attention will be on her arm," Pomfrey said. "I also suggest you try not to look over the curtain. Once we begin, it will not be a very pleasant sight until we are finished."
Arthur tried not to show his worry at that and nodded, once again taking his sleeping wife's hand.
Harry nodded and went forward, steeling himself for the unpleasant but necessary work ahead of him.
Pomfrey was silent as Harry started, holding out the dish for the discarded scar tissue. Only years of medic experience and dealing with the occasional bloody Quidditch injury would prevent her from running to the bathroom.
As for Harry, he convinced himself to ignore what was directly before him and focus on what was beneath.
Muttering parseltongue under his breath, he seeped his magic around and under the scar tissue, watching its progress in his mind's eye, he gathered it just a few millimeters below good tissue.
"I am about to remove this section," he said, tracing the air above Molly's hand to indicate the exact area.
"I'm ready, Harry, just let me know when to lift," she said, pointing her wand to cast a silent levitation charm at his signal.
He focused his magic while quietly whispering :cut, cut, cut:, gliding the magic forward like a blade and being mindful of nerves and arteries. If one was in the way, he took a bit of magic and pushed it aside before continuing on. It was slow work, but after fifteen minutes, he nodded to Pomfrey to lift the galleon sized bit. Moving quickly to take advantage of the blood flow, he pooled up a bit of Molly's magic and slowly began rebuilding the missing skin and flesh.
"It's working, Arthur. We just may be here a bit," Pomfrey assured.
"Take as long as you need," he said with a shaky breath.
They worked for well over two hours, and each time Harry took a bigger and bigger piece, lessoning the faint puzzle-piece-like scars that outlined the healed sections left behind. Despite the new, unavoidable scars, it was a vast improvement over the gnarled mess that it had been, and though the new skin was pinker than the skin on her other arm, from her hand to her shoulder, Molly had a nearly normal looking arm.
After covering the dish that she had used to collect the unwanted tissue and vanishing the blood, Pomfrey looked to Arthur.
"You may take a look. We are done with her arm," she said, sliding the curtain aside.
Hesitantly, he turned his eyes to his wife's arm. Almost immediately he began to weep tears of joy and wonder.
"You're truly a marvel, Mr. Potter. Every Healer we went to said she would have to learn to live with those scars," he said, tears still pooling in his eyes and trying to spill.
Harry self consciously rubbed his arm, at a loss of what to do or say.
"Mr. Potter has a knack for doing what's said to be impossible," Pomfrey said gently. "Now, if you wish, we can continue tomorrow morning. I'm sure Mr. Potter would say he is able to continue, but I would prefer to make sure he is adequately rested. It will also give me time to examine Molly before she learns of her progress."
"I agree," Arthur said, looking at his wife's currently ruined face.
"Would you like me to call in your family?" Pomfrey asked.
"After Molly wakes and we speak to her," he said softly.
"Very good," Pomfrey said, before waving her wand over Molly.
O o O
The next morning came and went quickly, and before too long the entire school had learned what Harry had managed to do.
Molly could now look in a mirror without dissolving into tears, even though her right eye would never see again. She, of course, could get an artificial one like Mad-eye Moody's, but she was content with simply charming it to look like any other eye. She had mild nerve damage in her arm, which was a result of the fiendfyre and not her treatment. As for her neck, Harry opted to do only minimal work there, as the amount of arteries and nerves created too much of a risk, no matter his skill in avoiding them. Molly was fine with that, especially since the scaring there was low. What she was truly grateful for was the renewal of her face, and though hair would never re-grow on that side of her head, that was easily remedied with a special wig or charm. As for her ear, Pomfrey worked a bit of her medical knowledge, along with a bit of skele-gro and Harry's abilities, and reshaped the ruined tissue into an ear again. It was a wonder to behold.
Understandably, Molly, not to mention the Weasleys in general, was ecstatic and beside herself with gratitude toward Harry. Poor Harry was a bit lost on what he should do about becoming an honorary Weasley.
Finally, he simply went with it, numbly receiving her hugs and the rest of the Weasleys'.
Weeks passed and, before the students wished, the time of final exams arrived. Worry about Voldemort and his Death Eaters remained, but life continued despite talk of spies existing within the Ministry and elsewhere. For the older generation, history seemed to be repeating itself, as once again trusting outsiders, acquaintances, and even friends was becoming difficult.
However, for the younger generation, they were uneasy but focused on less serious concerns. Other than tests, most of the older students were eagerly preparing for their last Hogsmeade Weekend — a reprieve from exams. Unfortunately, Harry and his friends were not yet old enough to enjoy that bit of recreation, and so settled on visiting Hagrid. As for the professors, some were remaining at Hogwarts, while the rest would act as chaperones, including Professor Snape.
Severus glowered at the assembled students before him. It wasn't hard to see he didn't approve of this little outing and in fact believed it was rather foolish and risky. He understood the desire to not allow Voldemort, or any terrorist faction, dictate what the public could do, but there was being brave and there was being downright idiotic. The only plus side to all of this was that he was being allowed to set the ground rules for the eager little morons before him. Really, to go outside the protection of Hogwarts' wards after recent events? Were these kids brain dead or just plain suicidal? Unfortunately he had no say in whether Hogsmeade Weekend should be allowed or not, but he'd be a blubberworm before allowing any student to leave totally unprepared.
After outlining the generic rules of the little fieldtrip, Severus continued, his stance alone telling the students to keep still and silent.
"If anything does happen, such as Death Eaters attacking or the like, fight as you run. Most Death Eaters are lazy. They go after the easy targets. Don't make yourself easy. Throwing even the simplest spells could buy you enough time to get away. Now, this does not give you permission to be what you may believe is 'brave'. 'Bravery' in this instance will more than likely be a death warrant," he said, making a few students gulp. "For help, run to one of the professors, including myself. We will tell you what to do and do our best to protect you."
With a few final words of wisdom, mainly escape routes, they set off, most looking forward to visiting the joke or candy shop despite Snape's little rant.
Heavy with rock-cakes in their pockets, Harry, Neville, Draco and Greg stepped out of Hagrid's hut and decided to make a detour before heading back to the castle.
Walking behind Hagrid's hut, they all stood silently as Neville visited Trevor's grave. Understandably, with the murder of Vince, death had new meaning for them.
"Alright, let's head back to the castle," Neville said quietly.
Harry and the others nodded and began walking. The night was cool and a calm breeze passed over them as the stars above twinkled. It was perfect.
Until a frosty wind cut across them and something seemed to blanket the sky in an unyielding darkness.
"Is this a storm?" Greg asked, confused as the air around them became even colder.
"I don't think so," Draco said as they slowed their pace and tried to understand what was happening.
"Lumos," Harry said, as the only light source for them after the sky had gone out was the castle and the puny little lamp by Hagrid's door far behind them.
Harry frowned, his face illuminated by his wand light. "Do you feel . . . something?"
"There!" Draco cried, pointing up.
They looked above just as a deep sense of anguish and loneliness seemed to swallow them up before they made out dark cloaks swarming the sky.
"Run!" Harry shouted as the mass of black, wispy sheets dived down.
Seconds later, loud crackling noises, much like fireworks, roared over them, and flashes of violent explosions rocked the sky. Ripples of an obscure surface covering the entirety of Hogwarts' grounds cascaded out from the assault, and old magic thrummed in the air.
"It's the wards!" Neville shouted.
"Run!" Hagrid suddenly boomed behind them, slamming his door open. "Hurry, ter the castle!"
He shouted some other things, but they were drowned out by the wards' defenses. Harry and the others ran, but an overwhelming feeling of despair made it nearly impossible to breathe. Neville stumbled, prompting Draco beside him to try to get him back on his feet as Harry gasped out, as if in pain, a few steps ahead.
Black shapes began plummeting around them, hitting the ground with a bizarre fizzing sound. Some flailed around, like fish out of water, while others were utterly still, as if dead.
Harry fell to his hands and knees as he felt something land on his back; however, it wasn't the physical weight that weighed heavily upon him, but something far more unbearable.
Fear surged within his heart, and the source went beyond that moment, for sure, any sensible person would be afraid of dark cloaked things falling from the sky and being told to run by a half giant. No . . . this fear was being caused by something far more sinister. Something deep within his memory.
He no longer heard Hagrid's bellows among the wards' thundering booms, cracks and fizzles. He could no longer feel the grass beneath his hands or the hard ground under his knees. He was no longer even aware of the cloaked form draped limply over his back. His senses had turned inward, to the very last memory he had of his mother.
The only warning Severus had had was the first apparition crack, which was soon followed by a dozen more, and then Voldemort's.
The Dark Lord appeared in the middle of Hogsmeade, clearly relishing in the chaos that had suddenly erupted around him. Children were bolting toward the closest professors while the clueless Hogsmeade adults ran indoors in attempt to hide, most paying no mind to the children around them. Some even shoved the Hogwarts students aside. Severus sneered in disgust at the sight before brutally hexing a Death Eater as students made their way to him.
"Stay behind me!" he ordered, subtly backing them up between two buildings and out of most of the Death Eaters' lines of sight.
"As many as you can, my followers. Preferably third and fourth, if you please," Voldemort declared, haphazardly strolling down the street, fortunately away from Severus.
It only took the Potions Master one second to realize Voldemort was referring to 3rd and 4th year students and what that likely meant.
His thoughts instantly went to Vince before he did the first thing that popped into his mind.
"Mittens," he hissed, not about to draw unnecessary attention to himself, especially since his house elf would come whether he shouted or whispered.
"Yes, Master?" she squeaked, quickly realizing this was not a normal summons at all.
"Get as many Hogwarts elves as quick as you can to help you pop as many students possible back to Hogwarts, now! Voldemort wants the children!" he said, glancing back at the five students huddled behind him.
Mittens needed no further instructions and popped behind him to then teleport the whole group back with her to Hogwarts. With those students safe, Severus turned his sights elsewhere.
The ominous skies over Hogwarts and the cold breeze told him dementors were likely attacking the school. He could only hope the improved wards they had added would be enough.
"Diffindo!" he shouted, refusing to cast the idiotic 'stupefy' in this moment. He could not afford any Death Eater 'ennervating' one of their fellows and having them rise up behind him.
He struck another Death Eater, who he believed was Mulciber, just as a sound that reminded him of Chinese firecrackers cut through the loud panic.
Dozens of house elves appeared beside every student in Hogsmeade before immediately vanishing with a practically unified -POP-.
Death Eaters were dumbfounded as Voldemort became livid. And it only got worse for him, as apparition cracks of Aurors and Order members rang out moments after.
Harry was suddenly aware of a strange heaviness in the air as his eyes focused on the woman in front of him.
Between his crib bars, she looked extremely agitated and worried, but the static-like feeling around her was what truly concerned him. She had her wand out, and in a swift, determined movement, she jabbed the wand toward her heart and then flicked its end between her eyes. Harry could only watch as a bizarre magic filled the air that tossed the toys near her away and shook the furniture she had recently stacked against the door behind her, before she turned her wand on him. With a tenderness Harry never again experienced until he moved in with the Flamels, she took hold of his chin with her left hand to keep his face directed at her while she used the tip of her wand to gently trace the shape of a lightning bolt on his forehead. Harry felt another pulse of magic, but this time it spread across his skin before sinking in a second later.
With a gasp, Harry startled, still staring into his mother's eyes as she placed her wand back into her sleeve, presumably into a holster.
What did she just do to him?
She gave him a soft smile as she lifted him up and whispered in his ear, "When this night is over, I will either be a squib or be dead, but you will continue to live. It's all I can give."
Realization immediately dawned on Harry before the bedroom door slammed open, the makeshift barricade collapsing to the side.
She dropped him back into the crib and twisted around to face Voldemort, shielding him from sight. Voldemort made an amused sound, and Harry could make out his black robes from around his mother's legs.
"Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!"
"Stand aside, you silly girl . . . stand aside now."
"Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead—"
"This is my last warning—"
"Not Harry! Please . . . have mercy . . . have mercy. . . . Not Harry! Not Harry! Please—I'll do anything—"
"Stand aside. Stand aside, girl!"
Voldemort's voice quickly became annoyed and impatient, and then, as if it was nothing, he uttered the killing curse.
Harry watched his mother drop, and it felt like an eternity before Voldemort stepped forward to stand over him. He stared up at his mother's murderer, now crying as he was faced with a wand pointing at his head for a second time that night.
Voldemort once again cast the life ending curse, but it was suddenly overwhelmed by something far stronger.
Magic Harry instinctively knew was his mother's rushed over him as, distantly, he heard what he could only surmise was Voldemort screaming out in unbelievable pain, but he did not care about that just then. An indescribable feeling of love and protection encompassed his entire being, all of it erupting from the fresh cut on his forehead as his entire room shook. He heard a huge crack and boom from the walls around him exploding out as his crib fell over with him still in it, but his mother's magic continued rippling around him, shielding him from all debris.
Harry's vision began to fade, though he desperately did his best to memorize the scene before him.
His mother's crumpled body in front of the smoking form of Voldemort's corpse.
Next part, Contingency (for real this time), is under construction.
A/N: I'm sorry. It was another long wait. I also hope I didn't rush through things too much, but my muse refused to pace the plot any slower here-and any muse I got I was grateful for, so there you go. Anyway, concerning Markov, I'll get back to him later. The same goes with the Longbottoms and all the other things I didn't go into deeply here-simply because there wasn't a good opportunity to while I focused on Harry to move things along. Hopefully I didn't make things confusing by doing that.
Well, once again, thanks for all of the reviews and your patience. ^^