Title: Together Again
Summary: Four points of view. Voldemort's using inferi made from those fallen in the Battle of Hogwarts and dead members of the Order of the Phoenix… Apparently, too far is not far enough for the Dark Lord.
Warnings: Spoilers if you haven't read Book 7.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or any related characters. All belongs to JKR, promise.
Author's Note: Done for Zombi-fic-ation 2012 Zombie Fest over at Livejournal. The format for this came to me almost instantly. It's a little AU, but not enough to change what happens in the books. Basically, it's AU in the way that Voldemort had access to the bodies that he has here in the story. How he did it, I'll leave up to you, the readers. Enjoy!
McGonagall turned, facing the too-open archway across the courtyard of Hogwarts school. She heard them before she saw them, and a not-so-deep part of herself wished that she had not followed Flitwick's gaze.
"Merlin's…" but the rest of the phrase died on her lips.
There were hundreds of them. All of them in varying forms of decay and clothing. They hobbled along, as if tugged by inexperienced puppeteers, heads lolling from side to side as they seemed to almost bounce across the ground. An eerie sound emitted from their mouths, sounding more like wind coming from inside a deep cavern. With the sheer number of them, it was almost deafening. Minerva placed a hand over her heart, shaking her head.
Inferi. It was not enough that Voldemort was assaulting the school grounds, killing adult and student alike. No. He had brought inferi to use as wand fodder. The word "monster" did not seem like enough.
"Minerva… do you see… ?" Flitwick asked, raising a small hand to point in the direction of the oncoming undead. "Do you see who he's using?"
McGonagall's eyes had fallen away from the reanimated corpses for a moment, watching the very much alive students as the horror and fear rippled around, touching each one of them like the specter of Death. But Flitwick's quiet question brought her battle weary eyes back to the slowly approaching front line of Voldemort's army.
"No," she growled. "No!"
Students. Friends. Family. And there, at the very front of the inferi, all of the deceased members of the Order of the Phoenix. Old and new. Lily and James Potter. Remus Lupin and his new bride, Tonks—not even dead hours now. McGonagall's eyes found Harry in the crowd of Hogwarts' defenders at the foot of the castle's front stairs. The boy's face was a mask, and Minerva could only attribute that to the bravery that got him his place in Gryffindor House in the first place. Her eyes turned back to the ever-approaching horde of undead. Their arms jerked skyward, their hands falling limply at their wrist, as if that's where the invisible strings were attached. The Head of Gryffindor House felt her stomach lurch.
"I don't see Dumbledore," Flitwick noted quietly.
No, neither did she. But that did not surprise her, as it seemed very much in Albus's nature to keep Voldemort from that final satisfaction. Sure, Voldemort had victory in that his loyal follower had killed one of the greatest wizards that had ever lived… but he would not have dominion over the body left behind. The thought brought a resilient smile to her face, even as she could count the too numerous former students that stood amongst the staggering corpses. The thought made her stomach churn once more.
"They're not the people you once knew," she announced, taking herself by surprise as much as anyone else. Several heads turned to hear her words, and she noted that Potter's head only tilted in her direction. "They're just what's left behind. Voldemort means to disrespect their memory. Keep that in mind. They are not your loved ones, no more than they are my old students."
Those words seemed to do as little for the fighters surrounding her as they did for herself. But her grip on her wand tightened as she began to count the steps the corpses took before they crossed the threshold into the school's courtyard.
George vomited behind a statue. He was sure that several people had seen him, or at least heard him, but he did not care. He still felt sick as he pulled himself back up to stare at the onslaught of inferi coming ever nearer. He knew several of the faces in the crowd of undead, to be sure, but his eyes had locked on just one. Still dressed in the robes they had come to battle in—robes they had bought for their final year at Hogwarts—and a shock of red hair, the one particular inferius stood out like a sore thumb. It did not help that he shared his face as well.
He felt a hand slip into his, and he turned to see that Ginny had fallen back from Harry. She gave it a tight squeeze, shaking her head.
"McGonagall's right, George. That isn't Fred anymore. Fred's… gone."
George watched as his brother's corpse seemed to be yanked upwards, and he wrapped an arm around his unsteady stomach. He was gritting his teeth so hard that his jaw had begun to ache, and his whole body shook. He knew his sister was right, but she did not know… she did not understand. Of course this was her brother, just as much as Fred was his. But Fred had been his twin. All that stuff about twins having a special bond? That was true, and from the moment he had watch the light leave his brother's eyes, George had been feeling like he was missing another body part. Or more. A part of his soul.
And what made George sick was that he knew that somehow Voldemort had this knowledge. And he was flaunting it in George's face in the form of his brother's body hopping along the ground like a demented marionette. The bile threatened to rise in his throat again, and George gagged, putting his back to the scene.
"George, if you let this get to you, then Voldemort has already won," Ginny snapped, in her best impersonation of their mother.
"How can you do this?" he asked, turning to stare at the youngest of the Weasley family. "How can you see Fred, or any of them, and not feel sick? Not feel angry?"
Her own flaming locks caught in a slight breeze, Ginny's nostrils flared as she yanked her brother closer.
"You don't think I'm angry? You don't think I'm sickened and sad? I'm bloody well pissed!" she hissed at him. "But do I think that any of them want me to sit on the ground and sob? No. I think that Fred would want us to show Voldemort that he's nothing but a prat. An arrogant git who thinks he's gotten the better of us with this nasty surprise. He's taken my friends, my family… I won't let him own my fear as well. That's just Fred's body. That's not Fred!"
Several heads had turned to listen to her speech, and many a teary eye was locked onto George, awaiting his response. He sniffled, unaware that he had been crying as well. He straightened the sweater that accompanied his Hogwarts regalia and peered over the heads of his peers. The inferi were even closer now, just barely about to cross the threshold of the school. George withdrew his wand.
"You're right. And the Dark Lord won't win this fight."
He could almost feel the morale boost that circled those standing nearest him. But still, his eyes averted to a fallen Death Eater that approached alongside the fallen. Ginny was right. But that did not make it hurt any less. Someone else could deal with his brother's reanimated body. For now, he would just pretend that it was not there.
In the small amount of privacy that he could be afforded in this moment, Severus Snape wept. Voldemort had not revealed this tactic to him—supposedly the most loyal, the most informed. But what the Death Eaters—the true followers, not imposters, like him—failed to realize about their master was that there were some things that Voldemort kept from everybody.
Snape was not a fool. He had fully anticipated the usage of the inferi against the defenders of Hogwarts. He had even anticipated the usage of the fallen Order members. However, he had underestimated the levels of Voldemort's sadistic nature. He had never expected him to go so far back, far enough to use her corpse.
Yes, he was his master's favorite. Yes, he had gained many favors with Voldemort by killing Dumbledore. And Voldemort was not so forgetful not to remember Snape begging that she be spared. But there she was, Lily Potter, shambling along right in between the bodies of James and Lupin. Her burial dress was decaying and in tatters, along with her flesh. Sixteen years of being dead tended to do that to a person. Her eyes—the brilliant green that they were—were milky and had no light in them at all. Snape had had a moment, just a brief moment, when he had seen her corpse, only feet away, before Voldemort had sent his undead army toward the school. He had vanished into some hole behind the lines of living Death Eaters to hide his horror and his pain.
He had sacrificed everything he was to ensure that Lily's son lived, for her. Had tried everything in his power to save Lily's life. He had failed. And her corpse being yanked along by dark magic was a monument to his shame and his defeat. He had thought he had suffered all that he could in his love for her. He had called her that horrid term, "mudblood." He had seen her marry another man—his most hated enemy—and bear his child. He had seen her death. And now her son, the one he had sworn to protect, had to endure this pain. The pain of seeing her not as she was, but as nothing more than a pile of flesh manipulated by an evil… "man" did not seem the correct word.
Severus swallowed hard, his hands clenching and unclenching as he tried to stem the flow of his tears. Voldemort would be missing him soon, undoubtedly with some other horrible task to perform. He would put the thing that bore Lily's face out of mind. He would do his duty and protect Harry as best he could from this side of the fight. One way or another, Snape knew that it would all end for him tonight. One way or another.
Inside, Harry raged. He screamed and he ranted and he threw curses of all varieties into the sky. He was sick. He was shaking. He wanted blood.
But on the outside, for the sake of his living friends, he wore a calm mask of control. He was the Boy Who Lived. He was the one that Voldemort wanted. Neither could live… Harry had never felt more determined to make sure he was the one that made it out of the prophecy alive.
Behind him, he heard George retch again. He could not blame him. It was all Harry could do—his eyes trained on the Marauders and his mother… his mother before him—to hold down the contents of his own stomach. But he could not stop the fire in his veins. He watched his friends, his family… the newly fallen intermixed with those who were long dead… lumber toward them. All of them were making odd noises, forced air out of lungs that no longer functioned. He did not remember the inferi in the cave making that noise, but he had not had the time to notice. Not like he did now. It seemed as if time had deliberately slowed so that this scene could be played out to its maximum horror.
Fred's head lolled, Tonks' body lurched and knocked into Lupin's, Lupin's arm flailing upward and smacking Lily's face. None of them reacted to these movements. They simply let them happen.
Because they were not themselves. He had heard Ginny say as much to George, echoing McGonagall's words. And she was right. These were not the ones they had lost. Just what had gotten left behind. And now they were being used as distractions and fleshy shields to take the brunt of the spells. Harry clenched his hands.
"They're vulnerable to fire. It's the only way to go," he shouted to the crowd around and behind him.
It was ironic, really. Voldemort had brought the Order of the Phoenix—old members and new—together again. The crowd around Harry tensed, aiming their wands as the corpses finally crossed into the courtyard of the school.
Together again. And that was the thing that would fuel Voldemort's downfall.