Chapter16 When the Battle is lost and won
Here stood before Voldemort and his death eaters Harry couldn't help feeling he didn't want to die. However as with so much of his life why fight the inevitable at least this way he could die on his terms and not give Riddle the satisfaction of beating him.
As the sickly green light hurtled towards him yet again he couldn't help but hope that his death would mean something, that it would set people free. He hoped that Hermione worked out why things happened this way and that someone would take down the megalomaniac once and for all.
He whispered ' I love you, Dora' to the wind and a slight smile passed his lips as he thought about those he loved and those that loved him. Then Harry Potter was no more, his body dropped to the floor with Victorious cheers and a solitary guttural sob from his giant friend.
In the room of requirement Dora made a beeline for Ginny
'Gin, while your mum and boy-wonder think we can afford to be fussy about whose wands we use, I know we need all the help we can get. I know you're a spitfire and we cannot afford not to use you. This is it, there's no second chance if this doesn't work I'm pretty sure we won't be here to see it or worse, so we can't afford to not pull out all the stops. If you're up for it I'd like to work with you, but please don't let on to Molly that I suggested it. The woman's got enough to shout at me for without adding corrupting and endangering her daughter to the list.'
'Thanks, Dora, what's the plan?'
The room's doors opened with a bang, halting Dora's reply and leading most of the room's inhabitants to raise their wands to the threat.
'Everybody we need the room, please leave, be careful and in the spirit of Mad-eye moody be vigilant!' Harry boomed
Grabbing Ginny's arm Tonks pulls her along with her out of the room. Just as they turn to the stair they hear Harry holler
'TONKS, Protect Gin!'
Ginny groused at this 'Bloody noble git, he's as bad as my brothers, I'm sixteen not six. It not fair' stomping her foot,
'I don't see him trying to stop you fighting.' Ginny whined. Tonks resisted pointing out how immature her reaction was instead opting to commiserate with her in 'true, but he knows from experience I'd hex him where it hurts battle or not plus I don't come with 6 brothers to back him up, but believe me you're not the only one on the receiving end of his 'saving people thing', but I've manage with a bit of bribery to bring him round to my way of thinking and let's face it he wouldn't be Harry without trying to save the girl all the time'
'You'll have to tell me how you persuade him after this; I think I need all the help I can get if I want to get his attention. He doesn't seem to realise girls exist, I think that blubber bag Cho ruined him.'
Dora smirked at this thinking how to reward Harry later 'No can do, Ginger, I'm not sure your mother would approve of my methods.'
Both young women stayed in companionable silence as they headed to the 5th floor both wrapped in thoughts of the man in question.
Reaching the fifth floor stairwell the battle suddenly became very real. They could see a selection of Order members being battled into a corner outnumbered 3 to 5. Ginny reflected that Harry made battling death eaters look easy compared to the show these Order members were putting on. It was clear to her that the death munchers were getting the upper hand which scared her as these idiots were Voldemort's minions. If she knew anything about Tom it was that he would hold out the big guns like Bella and Malfoy senior for selected targets.
Tonks despaired while she knew why Dumbledore welcomed anyone he could get his hands on the majority of the order were not battle ready, in fact apart from the aurors and hit-wizards the only ones who could stand their ground in a fight were McGonagall, Remus and the Weasleys.
Deciding her comrades wouldn't last much longer she decided it was time to even out the odds. She fired off a round of brightly coloured spells then dragged herself and Ginny out of the inevitable return fire.
Neither Ginny nor Tonks could tell you how long they battled for, every time they managed to incapacitate an idiot another appeared. Finally the stairwell was secured and Dora took the opportunity to take in the surrounding battles. On the whole it looked like the light had a slight advantage although many fighters looked worse for wear with various injuries most were still standing. The giants were doing a lot of structural damage to the castle and she morbidly wondered how long it would be before the whole thing collapsed and killed them all regardless.
She started down the stairs with Ginny at her side to secure the 4th floor landing. Looking across the space she could see several mini battles. Deciding that Diggle and Remus looked most outnumbered she headed in their direction, leaving Ginny to join George.
Volleying spells with their opponents, Remus and Dora got into a good rhythm just as they were dispatching the last foe when Dolohov appeared. Dora shuddered, recalling the damaged he inflicted on Hermione. This maniac needed taking out and if she could she would. With a subtle nod to Remus they bombarded the madman with spells but Dolohov seemed to revel in their attack. Just as she thought they had the upper hand she saw a sickly green spell heading in their direction. Ducking, she used the natural pause, using the avada kadavra curse to blast the guy off his feet. Dolohov dispatched, Tonks turned to check in with Remus to find him motionless on the floor. Devastated not just for her loss, but for the loss for Harry, she dropped to the floor, oblivious to the ongoing battle surrounding her. It had all been too much. Everything crashed down on her. Remus was a good friend, her strongest link to Sirius and he'd deserved better.
Letting her auror training kick in, she pulled herself up, vowing to avenge Remus, knowing if she survived this then there would be plenty. Now was the time to fight for so that she could see Tomorrow.
She started firing off spells with reckless abandon. The gloves were off and no more immobilizing the opponent. Time passed in a blur she didn't know how many death munchers she took out or how many cuts, scrapes and burns she'd acquired. She'd just made it to the 3rd floor where it looked like a wall had collapsed. The maroon puddle didn't bode well for the person hit. She could only hope it was one of Voldemort's lot who'd been on the receiving end.
Suddenly the bastard's voice permeated everything and everything and everybody stopped. Her stubborn defiance meant she blocked it out and used the distraction to take out some more foes. However that was a short-lived idea: as soon as Riddle said Harry's name she was taking in every word
'... Directly to you. You have permitted your friends to die for you rather than face me yourself. I shall wait for one hour in the Forbidden Forest. If, at the end of that hour, you have not come to me, have not given yourself up, and then battle recommences. This time I shall enter the fray myself, Harry Potter, and I shall find you and I shall punish every last man, woman and child who has tried to conceal you from me'*
Dora's heart dropped. She willed for Harry to ignore the bastard praying that she would spontaneously developed telepathy and get through to her fiancé. However knowing that was unlikely to happen she hoped that Ron, Hermione or Luna were near to him to dissuade him of any foolish heroic notions he was bound to be considering.
Deep in thought at the prospect of losing the man she loved, Dora didn't see the spell hurtling towards her and before she knew it everything went black.
She gasped and suddenly Tonks was bombarded with sounds and smells as she desperately squeezed her eyes shut.
'Come on, Nym, Harry hasn't got all day and now's not the time to take a kip!' opening her eyes slowly Charlie Weasley filled her vision. For an awkward second it looked like he was going to go in for a kiss on the lips when thankfully at the last second he seemed to rethink his action and moved position to kiss her forehead then he offered her a hand.
'Everyone's in the hall, we're doing a head count.'
'C, did you see Harry?' Dora asked eagerly
Charlie stiffened 'no, but I think I saw Ron and Hermione as I left to find you. Knowing what those three are like Potter won't be far behind.'
Reaching the great hall Tonks was so overwhelmed by the extent of the losses that she subconsciously sort comfort from Charlie and they headed towards his family. She could not stop the sob that escaped her as she caught a glimpse of the corpse of Fred Weasley. She was prematurely drawn from her grief by spotting Hermione and Ron. Extracting herself from Charlie's hold she rounded on her fiancé's best friends.
Dispensing with any politeness she demanded 'where's Harry?'
Harry couldn't end it. All the death and destruction all because he couldn't finish one task. All these people dead or injured as a result of his ineptitude. Snape, Fred, and Remus, the list went on and on. Tonks, Hermione, the Weasleys none of them deserved the cost associated with being close to him. Seeing Dora advance on his guard he knew he needed to get on. Besides he reasoned if Professor Snape was willing to waste his last living moments on making sure Harry got some memories. He guessed he should at least honor his wishes.
'He was right with us,` Hermione responded confusedly
'Yes, but we've established he`s not her now,` Tonks replied, uncharacteristically snarky. She didn't blame them. Harry, of course, had the cloak as an advantage, but knowing he was not with them caused her to panic. 'I'm sure he hasn't gone far` Hermione tried to reassure her but it was clear neither she nor Tonks really believed what she said.
Nothing, slowly coming to there was no hint to give away his current location no sound, movement or smell. Opening his eyes he notices the clear blue sky then the grass underneath him. As his awareness increases he realises to his mortification that he is in fact starkers.
Jumping up he becomes very conscious of the need to protect his modesty. Wishing there was something more suitable than his hands he looks around at his surroundings. This place looks peaceful: it's grassy with a small harbour and little sailing boats within view. Looking out to the sea he notices it abruptly becomes misty a certain way out. Returning his attention back to his clothing issue he turns back to his starting point to look for something anything to protect his modesty, only to discover a loose cotton tunic on the ground. He looks about for his mystery benefactor, seeing no one he decides to risk it and if the tunic owner returns he'll deal with that when it comes, right now his need is too great.
Now dressed he realises he has no idea how long he's been 'here, wherever here is'. His contemplation is broken by a mewing sound from nearby and he decides to move in the direction of the sound.
A tree comes into view and then he notices leaning up against it is the bundle emitting the sound. Getting closer he observes the bundle is actually a baby looking thing swaddled in a black sheet. He leaned down with the intention of picking this being up and offering the clearly distressed being some comfort when he heard a female shout 'No, Harry stop.'
Forgetting about his original intention he turns on the spot to see an approaching figure of a woman, a woman familiar only in his dreams and photos. She was more beautiful than he anticipated. As she neared he heard her grumble under her breath 'even here he has to be Gryffindor through and through.' Harry was confused, if the she was who he thought then this must be heaven but where were the others? He began to feel his anxiety grow: was his dad, Sirius and Dumbledore too disappointed to greet him?'
Needing some clarity he spoke tentatively
'Mum?' is this heaven?'
'Not quite, son,' Lily chuckled at the confused looked on Harry face.
'You're dead and I was in the forest giving myself to Riddle to die, so if we're not in heaven where are we?'
'Yes the place people come to pass over.'
'Oh, so I've died'
'Not quite, Harry,' Lily concluded to her still confused son
Suddenly to her left a bench appeared and Lilly motioned for him to sit. Lily proceeded to tell her son why they were here and why he had was not quite dead.
'You're saying I had that THING in my head, I helped keep that bastard alive.'
'Yes darling, but he's gone now, whatever happens now that Thing,' her voice laced with disgust and contempt as she sneered at the bundle not that far away. `Will never hurt you again.' with that declaration as if protecting him from further harm Lily leaned over and kissed the area where the scar was, in a way only a mother could. Not caring how juvenile he felt Harry revelled in it.
'You know, I had a lot of competition to be the one to meet you here: Albus, Your dad and Sirius all argued for the privilege to speak to you but I won.
I wanted to tell you how proud of you I am, I never wanted you to have the burdens or suffering you have had but I couldn't be prouder of how you've overcome them.
I know everyone is always reminding you of how much like James you are, but I see a lot more of me in you than your eyes, Harry. But even saying that you are very much your own person, Harry, and don't let what others say alter that.'
'Of course, Mum.'
'Mum' still felt strange coming from his mouth, but it was also natural.
' I love you, Harry, so does your father and I know love has often been hard for you to come by, but there are many in the land of the living that love you very much and they would show it more if you let them. And while James and I were not best pleased with some of your godfather's decisions regarding you; we are very pleased that Dora has been part of your life. She was always such a happy child and we can see how happy you make each other so Sirius is out of the doghouse.' she said with a grin at her own pun.
For the next while they continued to sit and talk about Harry's life some and Harry enjoyed hearing his mum's view on things. He was a bit surprised the first time she swore, though, finding it didn't fit the image others had created of her. After he didn't know how long the sun began to set, signally to Lily their time was drawing to a close and the hard topic could be avoided no longer and Lily laid the options down for him and ever the Potter he chose the challenge.
Dora was frantic. The only person who'd seem Harry in the last 30 minutes was Neville and that was outside and was an ominous message about killing snakes. She hoped that it didn't mean what her head was screaming it was.
She had given up her search for Harry conceding if Harry didn't want to be found he had enough at his disposal to avoid discovery. She comforted herself with the faint pulsating of her necklace that was connected to Harry's earring.
Finding a quiet corner of the great hall she prayed to whatever gods were listening that Harry wasn't doing something stupid. Reflecting on the losses so far she was terrified about what it would mean if this continued much longer.
Despite their best efforts the light were not winning right now and when the battle recommenced she knew without a major change in luck the light would not triumph. They were too cautious and too inexperienced. It was painfully obvious that the few aurors and DA members were the only ones prepared for the realities of battle.
Her thoughts moved on to the man who had her heart, while she'd admitted that to herself; the strength of her feelings still surprised her. Before discovering the contract she'd prided herself being very independent not needing people, yes she enjoyed the company of others and the odd causal relationship, but she never relied on anyone and she was always the one to walk away. Now though, Harry had changed that she wanted him, no needed him and it scared her witless. if the situation wasn't so perilous it would be funny. Who would have thought she would be cow-eyed over anyone let alone the-bloody-boy-who-lived? What was worse for once Sirius had got something right.
With the awareness that the ceasefire was coming to an end and she decided now would be a good time find a defensive position for the imminent recommencing of fighting only to stumble in shock as the pulsating in her hand stopped.
She tried to think of other potential explanations, but her brain couldn't stop screaming
'he's dead he's dead'.
She needed to get away and quickly. She needed to break down, but there was no way in hell she'd do it with this much of audience. If nothing else she didn't want to explain her distress to anyone because that would mean verbalizing the awful thought that was dominating her mind to someone else making it feel more real. Thankfully the rest of the hall's inhabitants were so consumed in their own grief that she calculated she could slip away unnoticed unfortunately, however, Fleur Weasley appeared to be coming in her direction.
Despite trying to keep her composure Tonks had clearly failed miserably, if her French friend's change in demeanour on reaching her was anything to go by,
'Nym'phadora, are you injured, do you need a mediwitch?' Fleur said in an almost unintelligible rush whilst overtly checking Dora over visually for injuries.
Knowing she had no evidence and not wanting to cause undue alarm or concern Dora was economical with the truth ' I'm fine Fleur, just worried about Harry, you know that, but I think I might go and find a quite spot before the ceasefire ends to compose myself'
'Okay, but be safe, we don't know who's where.'
Finally free to make her escape she found the nearest vacant storage cupboard warded herself in, sunk as far as the space would allow and let out a guttural sob into the darkness.
AN/Thank you to Alix33 for their brilliant beta'ing, Thank you if you've got this far for sticking with the story and sorry for the delay. I can only hope the next chapter won't take me so long but 2013 has been busier than I anticipated and not helped be not being entirely happy with this chapter (I'm still not but I'm looking forward to the next one) /AN