Hey! Sorry for the delay. Life, ya know? Anyway, here's the second to last chapter. The battle's raging, Horcuxes are being destroyed, and there's two encounters Harry has to deal with. Enjoy! Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter but I am superior to movie only Potter fans. Sorry, but it's the truth.
The battle did not begin with a bang but with a shatter. It took Voldemort and his Death Eaters over two hours to break Hogwart's wards down. Most were surprised at this given the number of talented warders in He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's ranks until Dumbledore revealed he had been subtly strengthening the school's protections since Voldemort's return two years ago. Many praised their beloved "Leader of the Light", but as usual Harry saw things another way. Sure, the old goat could put up wards protecting the school for two years, but he never thought to do anything to actively stop Voldemort other than cluck around with the Order of Fried Chicken? It was just one more example of Dumbledore being a manipulative bastard as far as he was concerned.
Regardless of whether or not Dumbledore is indeed a bastard, the wards did eventually shatter, and everyone heard it. Aurors manned their positions in the castle, and everyone got ready to fight. Most if not all of the younger students had been evacuated, but the sixth and seventh years were there to fight. Some of the teachers had protested, but all of them were of age and not willing to just sit idly by.
Harry ran his hands through his hair, one his few nervous quirks. He turned to his friends.
"Okay, Tess and Luna, you need to find the diadem and destroy it," Harry instructed.
"But we don't know where it is!" Tess protested. Luna just smiled mysteriously. "What?"
"It's obvious, isn't it?" the girl said dreamily. "Helena said to look in the place where need rules over want." Everyone just stared at Luna. "It's the Room of Requirement."
Tess just looked dumbfounded. Harry laughed. "I should've known," he stated. "Ravenclaws speak in riddles. Go." The two girls ran up the stairs, making their way through the throng of people getting ready to fight. From the sounds coming from the hall, Death Eaters had invaded the castle. There wasn't much time left. "Sean, I need you and Neville to try and kill the snake when Voldemort isn't watching. No matter what, you need to kill it."
Sean didn't like the look in Harry's eyes. "Harry," he said lowly. It seemed like Harry was trying to send all his friends away so he could do something reckless.
Harry didn't acknowledge his friend. Sean just rolled his eyes and followed Neville as they went to help McGonagall blow up the bridge with Seamus, hoping that Delia could somehow convince Harry not to do something epically heroic and stupid.
Delia brushed a piece of hair out of Harry's eyes. He opened his mouth, but she put a finger on his lips. "You better listen to me, Harry Potter. I know what you have to do, and I know it's dangerous, but if you don't do your very best to stay alive I swear that I will resurrect and kill you again myself. Do you understand me?" Despite her fairly convincing threat, there were tears running down her face.
Harry grabbed her hands and kissed them softly, but he said nothing. He couldn't. That wasn't a promise he was sure he could keep, and Delia knew that. She smiled one more time, possibly for the last time.
"I'm going to go help Madam Pomfrey," she said, walking toward the infirmary. Harry watched her go for a moment before deciding to get to the task at hand. A curse flew right by his head, and he turned around. He threw a couple of curses back at the Death Eater, making sure he was knocked out before continuing on.
It was a battlefield within the school. Students and teachers were fighting off Death Eater, and they were doing a pretty good job. Harry saw his friends scattered all over, doing what they could to hold the Death Eaters off. He kept his eyes open for two people in particular: Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange. His priority was Voldemort, but he wouldn't mind bringing down the bitch as well.
Sending curses back and forth, Harry was in his element. He didn't mind doing this, fighting bad guys, but he definitely didn't want to do this the rest of his life. He just wanted to finish this, and then if he even survived he'd figure out what to do next.
"Harry Potter, come to die?" a slithery voice crackled, startlingly everyone around him except Harry. Voldemort appeared out of nowhere, Nagini nestled by his side.
Harry smirked as he faced the man he most hated in the world. "Hello, Tom. Ready to finish what we started?"
And then the duel began…
Tess and Luna walked past the Room of Requirement three times, both chanting in their heads, 'We need to find Ravenclaw's Diadem." The door appeared, and Tess yanked it open. Her eyes widened at the massive amount of stuff piled up to the ceiling. Most people would assume it to be all junk, but years of living with Harry told her differently. They could probably live off the sale of this stuff for five years.
Tess gestured to one side of the room. Luna nodded and took the other side. Both girls whispered Lumos spells and worked their way to the middle of the room. Tess's eyes flinted from pile to pile until she saw something sparkling from top of a pile. She stepped onto a chair and tried to summon the tiara. Unsurprisingly, the Horcrux would not come to her. Instead, she began to climb up the pile and pretended that she was racing Harry and Bea on Fiona's old tree in the backyard. She never won those races (Harry usually did), but she had fun all the same.
She was at the top of the pile in three minutes flat. She grabbed the diadem and shouted, "Luna, I found it!" Hearing nothing, she made her way down the pile and turned around. Luna was being held at wand point by Pansy Parkinson and Millicent Bulstrode.
"Hand it over, blood traitor," Pansy sneered. "Or Loony dies."
"Okay," Tess agreed, her face blank. She started to hand Pansy the diadem, but then she said, "Or I could do this." Pansy and Millicent didn't even have time to react as Tess hexed them and tossed Luna her wand. The two girls started running, the diadem clutched in Tess' hands.
"How are we going to get rid of it?" Tess shouted, dodging a curse sent by Pansy. She regretted not just sending a bone-crushing hex, but at the same time she didn't know if the Ministry would be looking into any of this after the fact and didn't want to risk it.
Luna smiled serenely. "I might have an idea." She took the diadem from Tess, cast the Fiendyre, and threw it at in the fire's direction. Tess's mouth was hung open, and Luna grabbed her arm and started to run. She vaguely heard Pansy and Millicent scream, but she couldn't focus on that. The girls just barely threw themselves out of the door before the fire caught up to them. A terrible hissing sound came through the door.
"Luna," Tess breathed heavily, her heart thumping like crazy. "You've been hanging out with us too much."
Luna smiled dazedly. "That was fun."
Tess laughed. "Yeah, let's do it again."
Harry and Voldemort threw hex after hex and curse after curse at each other, each dodging and weaving, neither of them landing a spell on the other. All the fighting around them had stopped now, Death Eaters and Order members alike mesmerized by the display of power before them. A few took this stall in fighting as an opportunity to tend to the dead and the injured, but most stood still.
Harry winced as one of the hexes cut his shoulder, having had to dodge two curses at once. Voldemort took advantage of Harry's delayed reaction to send a Killing Curse. Harry saw it coming, but inside of dodging he just sent an old Black family slicing hex at Nagini. His friends would know what to do from there. The curse hit him in the chest, causing him to fall to the ground.
Seconds later, he opened his eyes and found himself in Fiona's backyard. It looked just the way it was before all the bad stuff happened. His tree was still standing proudly, and someone was sitting on his favorite branch. He eagerly climbed up the tree, noticing that there was no pain in his shoulder or anywhere else. It felt good to climb a tree again. He hadn't done so in years.
The girl scooted over once he reached the branch. Harry didn't recognize her, but he noticed she was around his age with pretty blonde hair and eyes that reminded him of Bea's. Wait a minute…
"Bea?" he whispered, his tone soft.
The girl smiled a mega-watt smile, and he just knew. "Hi, Harry," she replied. "I knew you'd come soon."
"Where are we?" Harry asked curiously, looking around. "This place hasn't looked this good in years."
"Well, this is what that old coot of yours would call "the next great adventure". Some people call it Heaven which works too, I guess," Bea explained, gesturing to their surroundings. "It usually takes the form of the place you were the happiest which for you was always in this backyard."
Harry nodded, fingering the bark on the tree. He had never been as happy as he was here. He'd had a family here, a place that was safe, and people who loved him. "Do I have to go back?"
Bea frowned at how tired and broken her best friend sounded. She had been watching him all the time since she was here, and what she saw broke her heart. He put so much responsibility on himself and never took the chance to enjoy life again. "Not if you don't want to," she answered softly, tracing a pattern on his hand like she had when they were kids. "But I think you should."
"Why?" Harry begged. "It doesn't hurt here. Nothing hurts here. I could just stay here with you forever."
"I know," she soothed. "But you still have people down there that love you: Tess, the Street Rats, and even those new uncles of yours… It would be a waste to give them all up over a little pain."
"A little pain?" Harry shouted. "Do you know how hard life's been since you died? Trust me, it wasn't just a little pain."
Bea threaded her fingers through Harry's and squeezed. "I know," she said. "I've been watching this whole time. When I got here, I cried and pleaded to be able to go back with you guys, but that's not how it works. I didn't get a choice."
"But I do?" Harry guessed.
Bea nodded. "And it would be a shame to waste it."
Harry sighed. "Then I guess there's just one thing left to do." Bea raised an eyebrow. Harry kissed her on the cheek. "Bye, Sunshine."
She smiled widely. "Bye, Scamp." Harry climbed down the tree and headed for the path he'd come on. "Harry?" she shouted one last time. He turned around me. "Leave me here this time, okay?"
Harry smiled as he waved. It was time to go back home and face the world. If there was anything left of it…