I'm alive! Holy crap, I can't believe what life is like above the rock I've been living under for the past few months. You all have my sincerest apologies for the wait and the horrible cliffhanger. This one has another, but nearly as bad.
Please keep in mind that I will never abandon a story that I've started, no matter long the wait. I once left a story for almost a year before I came back and finished it. I hope I'll never leave this one for quite that long, and this was the longest hiatus so far.
From Chapter 49:
"How have you failed me?" Harry demanded, glaring at the Death Eaters cowering at his feet. He had sent seventy five, and only twenty one made it back to him. "Crucio!" he roared.
The unfortunate Death Eater screamed piteously and writhed on the ground. He didn't release the curse for over a minute, and kicked the drooling mess with the toe of his boot. "Get him out of my sight!"
One of the other Death Eaters, pleased at any reason to leave the Dark Lord's presence, quickly levitated his friend and hurry from the room.
Harry glared at them as they left. "We shall move up our plans. They are wounded, too. They are hurt, they are tired, and most certainly are not expecting another attack so soon. The wards will be a joke for you, Amycus. They were never overly strong to begin with, and the Potter brat hasn't been there in over a year. Destroy the family, and any other that gets in your way. We leave in one hour. Prepare yourselves!"
Green eyes shot open, and a horrified scream forced its way out of Harry's mouth.
Harry fell out of his seat, coming back to himself after the vision, and looked frantically around. The fact that he was in St. Mungo's immediately sent staff running towards him. Sirius knelt down next to him.
"What is it?" he demanded. "Where are you hurt?"
Harry found himself too horrified to answer. His throat was stuck, his saliva had evaporated from his mouth, his heart was racing, and his palms were slick with fear sweat. Ice froze his muscles in place. Everything seemed to click at that moment. The dreams were the same as the visions of the Department of Mysteries. The desire to kill that he'd felt upon waking had never been his own. He had merely assumed as much because of his own dislike of his relatives.
He wanted to kick himself.
"Dumbledore," he croaked, looking Sirius dead in the eyes. "I need Dumbledore now!"
For a moment, Sirius wanted to argue. Remus was still being looked at, and they didn't know if he was going to make it or not. However, those thoughts only lasted for a moment when he saw Harry's eyes. There had been a look earlier that made Harry seem so much older, but it was nothing compared to now. Now, he looked as though he had just met Voldemort face to face.
Harry let Sirius lift him up, and they made their way to the Floo. The teen's heart felt like it was going to pound out of his chest. He was so lost in his brain that he only realized that he was in the Headmaster's office when he was pushed into a chair.
"What happened?" Dumbledore asked Sirius hurrying over. He had been having an emergency meeting with a few Order members when the Floo had flared.
Sirius shook his head. "He had a vision, and said he needs to talk to you."
Dumbledore lowered himself down with agility of a much younger man, and placed his hands on Harry's knees. "Harry? Look at me now, alright? What did you see?"
Harry forced himself to focus, and was drawn in by the blue eyes. Normally, they were twinkling, but right now they looked like ice. "Voldemort is going to attack Privet Drive," he forced himself to say. "He thinks it's the perfect time, since we aren't expecting another attack so soon, and so many were killed and injured today."
Dumbledore's eyes widened. He had added wards last year, but they were nothing to the combined forces of the Death Eaters and Tom himself. "When?"
"Less than an hour," Harry told him grimly. He stood at the same time as the headmaster. His muscles were sore after sitting for so long after so much exertion. He was going to do this, though.
Yes, he hated Dudley, Petunia, and Vernon. He would never step foot on Privet Drive again unless he was forced. However, he knew that he couldn't abandon them right now. He knew what they would experience at Voldemort's hands, and there wasn't a single person that deserved it.
Sirius was torn, more so than before. If it was just Death Eaters attacking, he wouldn't feel this way. However, if Voldemort was going to be there, that changed everything. He really didn't want Harry to go with them; he wasn't ready to lose his son. Harry wasn't ready to face Voldemort, and that was a fact. Another fact? He wouldn't be able to stop Harry if this was something he felt strongly about.
Albus was busy thinking through the information, and had considered whether or not Harry should go with them. He, too, knew that if Harry truly wanted to go and help his relatives, he would find a way to be there. Better for him to join them, where everyone can keep an eye on him.
"Is there a safe place for us to Apparate? Not directly at the house?" Albus asked. His wards didn't let people Apparate onto the property, and he didn't want to risk exposing magic to everyone in the neighborhood.
Harry nodded slowly. "There's a park not that far away. It's where I would always go to think."
"Then we will go there in half an hour," the headmaster stated. "If you will excuse me, I need to contact many, this changes things."
Sirius pulled Harry away, but the teen spoke before his father could open his mouth. "I'm going with you," he said firmly. "I hate my relatives, but I'm not going to desert them right now. Now, I'd like to go back home really quickly to get my satchel, because I think we could use some of the healing potions I have before this is over."
Looking seriously at the teen, Sirius spoke quietly. "You know we're going to do anything we can to save your relatives, Harry. You don't need to be there to make sure of that."
Harry shifted slightly. "I know that. No one going has a reason to save them, other than the fact that they should. These are my relatives, and they don't deserve what Voldemort is going to do to them."
Sirius held his eyes for a moment, then nodded. It was times like this that he realized that Harry was not a typical teenager. This was a man standing in front of him. "Go ahead. We'll meet you at the Three Broomsticks, and Apparate together to your park."
Harry just nodded a thank you, and used Dumbledore's Floo to head home. As soon as he was in their living room, part of him wanted to rebel. This was the Dursley's! Less than a day earlier, he'd been wanting to kill them! Now he wanted to risk his life to save them? He sighed, sitting on the couch.
There was a reason Sirius gave him so much time. Not only so that he could change and grab things, but so that he could mentally prepare himself for this. He was coming out of an intense battle, and was about to go into one that was going to be even worse. There was a chance that he could die tonight, and there was just as likely a chance that he was going to lose Sirius, and that he'd already lost Remus. On the other hand, there was a possibility that he could end the war tonight. Wasn't that worth the risk? If, by going to Privet Drive in a while, he could save hundreds more innocent lives by ending this, then and there?
Harry closed his eyes, and allowed the images of everyone that had been killed by this man and his power hungry minions. Then he brought forth all the images of people that he cared for, still alive and well. That took a while, but then he stood, his mind made up.
It was going to be worth it. He had a chance here, a chance to honor those that had died, and to protect those he loved. So he made his way to his room, and quickly stripped out of his blood soaked clothes. He pulled out the dueling robes he hadn't worn since the tournament, pulling it on quickly, then getting his most comfortable shoes. He made sure his wand holster was tight on his forearm and even grabbed his staff. There was a chance he would lose it, but in case there was close quarter fighting, it would come in handy. He also put on the Rune'd protection wristband that he'd received from the twins and Anthony. It probably wouldn't do much, but he would take all the help he could get at this point.
Then he pulled out the potions satchel and took out an Invigoration Draught. He contemplated for a split second before deciding that not taking it would be moronic. He pulled out the cork and swallowed quickly to avoid gagging on the taste.
It was just as foul as all of the other potions he'd taken in the past, but the feeling was completely different. He felt as though fire had spread through his veins, disintegrating all of the fatigue he'd been feeling for the past couple days. The feeling that he could spit fire or climb buildings made him see how this could be so dangerous. He knew that when this potion wore off he was going to collapse, but he would worry about that later.
Realizing that he still had almost half an hour until the fight, he pondered what to do. Then an idea struck him, and he grabbed some of his shirts. Without retrieving his wand, he cast Cutting charms at the fabric, then a sewing spell he'd learned in fourth year. It was meant to make minor repairs to clothing, but he could adapt it slightly to work. In twenty minutes, he had four pouches, and added handles, then cast very strong cushioning charms. He pulled various vials from his satchel, placing them in the pouches to distribute to different members of the Order. That way, he wouldn't have to bring all of them, and keep all of them with him. He put a blood replenisher, pain reliever, and burn salve in each of them, and put the last two Invigoration Draughts in his and Sirius's. Having decided he'd done all he could, he gathered everything up and took a deep breath before twisting on the ball of his foot.
He landed right outside the Three Broomsticks, and saw Sirius with about two dozen Order members, who nodded when he saw that Harry had changed. He sent a questioning look at the bundles in his arms. Harry handed him one, and explained its use. "Tie it to your belt. The cushioning charm should keep any of the vials from breaking."
Sirius's brows rose at the smart idea and watched as Harry passed them out to other Order members. Dumbledore wasn't there yet, but he would be soon. Everyone was fidgeting, and worried. This had the potential to either end the war or be a bloodbath.
A quiet POP broke the quiet, and Dumbledore nodded to everyone. He looked older than usual, but at the same time, he appeared energized and ready. He hadn't been in the battle at Diagon Alley, having been at the Ministry. By the time he and the Aurors had gotten there, most of the fighting was over.
"Everyone know where we're going?" he asked quietly, and received nods from everyone. Those who hadn't been there before had been shown a map of the area. Dumbledore accepted the nods, and didn't bother with a pre-battle speech. "Then let's go."
Harry looked at Sirius once, and they embraced again before Apparating to the place Harry had once vowed never to return to.
The park was quiet, as twilight was casting shadows over the surrounding area. However, it wasn't a peaceful quiet, one that people enjoyed after a long day. No, this quiet was filled with fear and trepidation, and Harry knew that it wasn't just his imagination. The warmth of the summer day was quickly chilling. "Dementors are coming," Harry whispered, and those around him nodded. That was another complication, one that ratcheted up their fear. "The house is this way."
Dumbledore looked at a group, who nodded, and quickly Disillusioned themselves. Others started taking a different route to the house. By the time Harry started walking, it was just him, Sirius, Dumbledore, and Kingsley who took Harry's usual path to get to number 4.
They made it to the house with no problem, though Harry's hands were starting to sweat, despite the now cold air. He wondered whether he should bother knocking. Sirius made the decision for him, and quickly unlocked the door.
"Who is there?" Petunia demanded, and then scowled when she saw who was entering her home. "Get out! We were promised we would never have to lay eyes on that bastard again, so get out!"
Harry's face hardened. He knew they had no idea why he was here, but a tiny part of him wanted to turn around and go home. That thought was pushed down, though, as he was well aware of the fact that this was so much bigger than the Dursleys.
Dumbledore hadn't twitched, though, and spoke in the same, even tones that he used on unruly schoolchildren. "I understand your feelings towards our kind. However, you are in danger. It is necessary that you, your husband, and your son leave now with one of us."
Vernon stomped into the room, a plateful of food in his massive fists, and he threw it against the wall. "Did you not hear my wife?" he growled. "I will call the police unless you leave now!"
Kingsley opened his mouth to retort, but then a series of loud cracks broke through the air. Blood ran cold, and Harry turned to his relatives. "People are coming to kill you, you have to leave!" he shouted before he and Sirius were blasted with debris from the side of the house. They took cover, and then tore outside, seeing the light show from the multitudes of wizards flinging spells back and forth. Muggles from the neighborhood could be heard screaming from inside their houses.
Harry's eyes scanned the crowds of wizards, but he didn't see Voldemort anywhere. As he shielded himself and Sirius, he started to question that. He had heard Voldemort say that 'we' were going. Of course, he thought as he viciously sent a Reducto to a Death Eater that had sent the Killing Curse to and Order member who had barely gotten behind a car in time. He still struggled with killing, but he wasn't going to flinch from it. Not now.
Looking around, he saw Sirius battling three, and went to help him. Before he could get there, though, he was blasted off his feet. The air was knocked out of him when he landed a few feet away. He could tell that the protection of the wristband had taken the brunt of the damage, but he his robes were burned. He swung his staff around as he stood, making sure that there was no one around him as he tried to orient himself.
"Leave him for me," a female voice demanded coldly.
Harry sneered as he took in Narcissa's mussed blond hair, and her expensive robes that were now streaked with blood. "Oh yes, because your family has such wonderful track records when it comes to trying to kill me. Going for a trifecta of Malfloy failures? Or do you think it'll be 'third time's a charm'?" He was talking to give himself time. Whatever she'd blasted him with seemed similar to a flashbang.
She screamed in fury and started firing spells at him as quickly as she could. When he continued to block her, she unconsciously started stalking forward, trying to intensify the spells to go through his shield.
Harry was sweating as his shield started to slip. He cast another, and looked around to see if there was help. However, the Order seemed overwhelmed by the forces, and there was no one to help him. He dropped his staff to hold onto his wand with both hands as a headache started to overwhelm him from holding the shield so long.
Thinking quickly, he continued holding the shield with his wand hand, and let go with his left. "Bombarda!" he roared, sweat pouring off his face.
Harry hadn't mastered dual casting, so his aim was a bit off. The spell exploded the concrete less than a foot in front of the Malfoy, and she raised her arms to protect her face from the shrapnel.
Harry was able to lower his shield, finally, and picked up his staff, leaning on it momentarily. When he felt someone come up behind him, he spun around and saw a former Ravenclaw that had graduated a year before. Rage coursed through Harry, and he holstered his wand, gripped his staff, and swung it around as hard as he could. The hard blackwood was no match for soft flesh, and when it slammed into the youth's throat, Harry could tell that she was dead before she hit the ground.
He turned back around to see where Narcissa had gone, but he couldn't see her right off. Glancing through the people that were still standing, he saw Sirius grabbing a vial from the new pouch and down it, so he hurried over. "What happened?" he demanded, looking the man over.
Sirius grimaced at him, and gestured to his ankle, which was at an odd angle. Harry fixed it with two quick spells, getting a relieved sigh from his father. "Thanks, kiddo." He really needed to learn some of these spells when he had the time. Lately, though, that was the last thing he had extra of.
Harry just nodded and looked around. Something was wrong, he could feel it. The Death Eaters were not fighting as hard as they had at Diagon Alley, and the dementors that he could feel in the area had not appeared yet. There was something seriously wrong here.
Just as he thought that, his scar exploded with pain. Harry gasped at the first feeling, then cried out as his knees buckled, leaning on his staff so that he didn't fall.
"Harry?" Sirius demanded, reaching out to support him. "What is it?"
Harry couldn't breathe. He couldn't think. Everything in the world had disappeared, and all that mattered was the unholy pain. It was worse than anything he'd experienced before, worse than broken bones, his uncle's belt, the healing of his neck, and the Cruciatus put together. He wanted to beg Sirius to put him out of his misery, but words were beyond him. He was deaf, blind, and mute. Nothing else existed except the feeling of his skull being split in two.
Sirius could tell that Harry was too far gone in pain to do anything, and that was when he felt the chill increase. The dementors were finally joining the fray. He let out a blistering curse at the timing, and yelled for the Order to cast their Patronus, those that could.
Dumbledore finished the fight he had with two Death Eaters and turned to where he heard Sirius yell, and saw Harry. He ran over, much faster for his age than he normally could. He stood in front of the pair and cast the strongest Patronus of his life, and watched as his silver phoenix rose to protect them.
When the sky light up with the luminous animals, more than one wanted to faint. There were hundreds of dementors above them. Even some Death Eaters stopped the fighting and conjured their own silver protectors, not wanting to be Kissed.
"Think you can win, old man?" The words were forced out of Harry's mouth, but Albus knew better. "This is where you make your last stand? Albus Dumbledore, protector of Mudbloods."
"Show yourself, Tom," Dumbledore called, his voice carrying over the cries of those without a Patronus.
Harry gasped as the pain, somehow, increased. He was still unaware of the turmoil around him, and could feel tendrils of hatred seem to spread from his scar to his soul. Part of him knew that he could not let that happen.
Terrifying images started to overcome him. He saw his fight with Sirius and Remus (was it only a few hours before?), but this time, he imagined himself casting the Killing Curse on them. He set fire to the Burrow and laughed when he heard those inside dying. He saw the dream he'd had of Brianna, but this time he was raping her before breaking her neck. Rather than heal Sophie, he tortured her with the Cruciatus.
Every image seared into his brain, and he wanted to vomit at the idea of committing those atrocities. However, that nausea broke through the abyss that had become him, allowing a brief moment of clarity that was beyond the pain and horror and filth that had seeped into his soul.
He remembered the day he was adopted, and the tears of joy that Sirius had shed. He remembered the hug from Hermione when she woke from being Petrified in their second year. He thought of his first kiss with Brianna. His pride at the last DA meeting. Ron and Hermione standing with him, even after hearing the prophecy. His first hug from an adult in living memory, from Molly Weasley.
As each positive thought crossed his mind, he could feel the agony recede slightly. Not that it went without a fight, as more revolting images passed through his mind. It was as though there was already an anchor, of some kind, in his mind for the darkness to latch.
"NO!" he bellowed, throwing the oppressive force out of his head. "You will not beat me, Riddle!" He used the Occlumency techniques he'd learned to push at the filth in his mind.
"Is that so?" a silky voice asked.
The dementors parted, allowing a shadow to pass through the Patronus shields, and Voldemort landed only meters away from where Dumbledore stood, protecting Harry. He looked around at the carnage, saw the floating Patronuses just barely keeping the dementors at bay, and then at the still standing house of number 4, just behind Dumbledore, Potter, and Black. He focused on Potter.
Harry flinched as he felt the monster invade his mind again. This was Legilimency on a whole other level. There were different feelings that he'd had when people tried to break into his mind before, but this was so very different. It was as though his shield didn't even exist, but that Voldemort was smoke, seeping into his brain. It went straight past his shields, and encountered the 'vaults' he'd created for his thoughts.
A sudden thought occurred to Harry. If, as he'd been thinking, he could reverse the process, did that mean that he could do the same to Voldemort right then? It was worth a shot, as the shadow now felt like acid, eating away at his mind. Gathering up all the energy he had left, he blasted his way into Voldemort's mind.
That split second gave Harry a glimpse into the most disgusting mess he'd ever encountered. Quickly looking around for anything that might prove useful, he saw pieces of memory from the night his parents were murdered. He only lasted in for a moment, before he, too, was forcibly rejected.
Sirius was holding Harry upright, until Harry was practically ripped from his grasp and sent careening in the opposite direction, to smack into the driveway of his former home. "Harry," he gasped, and ran over, keeping his wand towards the Dark Lord. He could guess what just happened, as the same thing had happened to him at Beauxbatons the year before.
Dumbledore noticed that Tom was struggling to stay upright on his own, and gripped his wand tighter, waiting for an opening. "Why the Muggles, Tom?" he asked mildly. "You are clearly aware that there is no love lost between Harry and his relatives."
Voldemort simply smirked at him, and raised his wand, sending a stream of fire at Number 4, and laughing as it caught fire.
"No," Harry whispered. After all that time he'd suffered in that house, and at those hands, he wasn't going to let that happen to them.
A few members of the Order were distracted by the display between the wizards, and the fire, that their spells faltered. Albus was forced to turn his attention for a moment in order to keep the dementors at bay. Tom raised his wand again.
Harry's hands were empty; both his wand and his staff had been dropped when he was forced out of Riddle's mind. Without thinking of a spell that would work, he sent his magic out to his headmaster.
Riddle had cast a spell at the same time. Harry's magic, though, had formed a shield around the old man, and had stopped his Killing Curse. He snarled at the brat, and spun his wand around in his hand. The magic though, had dissipated, with Harry not having the energy to keep it going.
Before Voldemort could get off another spell, the door to the Muggle's house slammed open, and the three members of the family ran outside, hacking and coughing, only slightly singed. A smile spread across his face.
Harry stood, and Sirius didn't stop him. "You will not hurt them, Riddle," he said. He would have been happier if his voice hadn't cracked with pain and fatigue; but it was no less firm. He moved until his relatives were directly behind him, and his arms were half raised, ready to throw up a wandless shield.
Albus wanted to help, but he could only do so much, and his Patronus alone was the strongest one. If he dropped it to help Harry, then half of the Order would be Kissed, along with all of the Muggles that lived in the neighborhood.
Sirius stood shoulder to shoulder with his son, and there was no way he was going to let him face this alone. As soon as he'd heard the full prophecy, he knew that this day might come, when Harry would be up against this monster. He'd promised himself that he would do whatever it took to protect him.
Voldemort began flinging spells, which Harry and Sirius shielded as best they could. The fire at their backs was getting pretty extreme, and it was only a matter of time before it started falling. They could all hear sirens in the background.
Sweat was pouring down Harry's face as he struggled to keep his shield going. He knew that without Sirius's shield there, as well, spells would be coming through. Both of them were getting tired.
A series of cracks down the road, following by shouting, distracted everyone for a brief moment. Harry wanted to cry in relief as he spotted what looked like the entire red headed Weasley clan running up the street towards them, with their Patronuses in front of them as they sprinted. That moment of distraction helped them, as Harry went on the offensive, and sent the strongest spells he could think of towards the Dark Lord.
Voldemort, however, didn't seem overly fazed by it, and blocked each one with the effort of swatting a fly. Harry could barely keep himself standing, and wondered if this was going to be the end.
"Potter!" he heard a familiar roar behind him, and he barely turned in time before a punch landed on his cheek, sending him sprawling on the driveway yet again. His uncle was purple in rage, and apparently hadn't realized that Harry was the only thing protecting them. He raised his leg, and lashed out, driving the air from Harry's body.
"Avada Kadavra!" Voldemort had cried, just before the brute knocked the boy down. He would have been disappointed, but the spell still found a target. The green streak of light impacted a large form, which dropped limply to the ground. He smirked in victory.
Petunia shrieked, as only she was able. "Duddy!" she wailed, throwing herself down, and shaking her son's now prone form. "Dudders, please, open your eyes. Honey, please, for mummy. Please, wake up!" Her cries were heartbreaking for any to hear.
Harry stared at his cousin, his uncle having frozen above him. He knew what people looked like after being hit by that curse; had seen it first hand on more than one occasion. That didn't stop his brain from being derailed, though, at seeing his Muggle cousin, Dudley Dursley, dead by the Killing Curse. Indeed, it seemed as though everything stopped in that moment. Then he saw Riddle raise his wand again, pointing it at Sirius.
"Aduro," Harry stated coldly, fury beginning to overwhelm him. The pain and exhaustion were barely registering in his mind, and only as small annoyances; the hatred was nearing a boiling point as he stood slowly. Unlike other times, though, this time he knew he was in complete control of his own emotions. Flames sprouted on Voldemort's robes, as he hadn't seen Harry ready to attack again. Harry sent blasting hexes, bone breaking hexes, cutting curses… everything he could think of, he cast. He stopped saying the spells, and merely kept his arm outstretched. He had developed tunnel vision, and he was determined to obliterate Voldemort where he stood.
The spells were coming so quickly, that Riddle was unable to block all of them, though he did put up a fight. When a bone breaking hex caught him on his shoulder, he snarled at everyone, twisted his robe, and vanished.
Everyone froze for a moment. Voldemort had fled. It seemed impossible. The Death Eaters were the first to react, those that were still alive. They Apparated out so quickly that it made heads spin. They weren't going to stay when even their fearless leader had ran; they did still have some self preservation instincts.
It had happened, though, and Harry was still seething at the spot where Riddle had been. Then he glared up at all of the dementors that were still floating just out of reach. All of the rage he'd been feeling welled up inside of him, and he was going to try something. "Exuro Patronus," he growled.
Out of his hand came his stag Patronus. However, this one wasn't a pearly silver, as all of them were. No, this one was orange and red, made entirely of fire. "Go," he commanded. The stag took off, and sliced through the nearest dementor, setting it ablaze. An inhuman shriek emitted from its mouth as smoke erupted from beneath the hood. More shrieks joined the first, and it was a more bone chilling sound than anything they had heard before.
The stag continued, cutting through the horde of creatures. The Order ran away from the smoldering robes that fell from the sky. The dementors fled from the flaming stag, until the skies were clear once more.
Charred robes littered the Muggle street, though it was clear that more had gotten away than were killed. Complete silence fell on those still in the street, and the sirens got even closer. Dumbledore wearily looked around. "Arthur, would you return to the Ministry? Loathe as I ever am to utilize the Obliviators, I think we'll be needing them tonight."
Arthur nodded at him, squeezed Molly once to his side, then vanished from sight. Dumbledore continued looking around at those that were still standing. It seemed that there were more killed, on the ground, than were left standing, and he felt every one of his plus hundred years. "Kingsley, I think we'll need an Unspeakable here, as well, to…dispose of the Dementors' remains."
Like Arthur, Shacklebolt left quickly, headed for the same building.
Sirius turned, and found Harry walking towards his cousin's body. His movements were stiff, and automatic, though he had picked up his wand and staff. He nearly sprinted over when he saw Vernon approach the teen. He needn't have worried.
Harry raised his wand, and pointed it at his uncle. "Touch me once more. I dare you," he breathed, voice completely hoarse. It didn't make the threat any less clear, though.
As though he'd been physically attacked, Vernon stumbled backwards. Harry reached his aunt and cousin. Petunia looked like hell, with her dressing gown singed, her hair in complete disarray, soot covering most of her skin, broken only by the tear tracks that trailed down her cheeks. Disbelief and grief were her only expressions.
"Can you do anything?" she asked, staring at Harry. "You have magic. Save him!"
His throat clogged with unshed emotions, Harry shook his head. "Magic can't raise the dead. Why do you think I don't have parents?" he reminded her, though not ungently.
"No!" she shouted, standing. "Your lot can do anything! You have to, he's my son. I need him. Save him, Potter! You have to save him!" she pounded her fists on his chest, until he caught her by the wrists, quickly stowing his wand in his holster. "You have to save him."
No one was more surprised that Harry when Petunia went limp, and began sobbing onto his shoulder. He had grown quite a bit over the past year, and she was no longer tall than him; she barely had to bow her head at all.
However, he was just as surprised when he didn't shove her away in disgust, as part of him wanted to do. That part was so small he barely felt it. All he could feel right now was pity. He wrapped his arms around his aunt as she sobbed. "He's gone," he whispered to her.
A few of the Order members had put out the fire, but the majority of the house was destroyed. Ministry workers arrived just as the police rounded the corner, and wands were quickly raised.
Harry reached into his potions pouch, and pulled out a Calming Draught. His aunt was so far gone that she didn't even ask what it was she was drinking. He wasn't surprised when she went completely limp, nearly unconscious.
"I've got her, dear," Molly said from next to him. Though she hated this woman for everything she had put her dark haired son through, she understood, as a mother, that nothing was worse than losing your child.
"Now see here…" Vernon began. He looked like a man who had lost everything, and was flickering between emotions faster than Harry could cast spells. Albus went over to him, leading him away from the others.
Though Harry would have loved to hear what was being said, at the moment, he really didn't care. He looked around at the chaos, somehow seeming to be even worse than the battle itself. Ron was the first to approach him.
"Mate?" he asked hesitantly. "You alright, there?"
Harry turned to his best friend. "Help me sit down," he said, and laughed a bit hysterically when his knees gave out. His head was still swimming in pain, but not nearly as badly as before.
Ron caught him before he hit the ground, and awkwardly helped him sit. "So, how's your day going?" he asked sarcastically.
Harry choked out a laugh, kept laughing, and wasn't all that shocked when his laughter caught in his throat. He stopped before he could embarrass himself with tears. "Where's Hermione?"
Sitting down next to his friend, Ron gave him a half smile. "She's with Tonks at St. Mungo's, sitting with Remus."
More tired than he could ever remember being, Harry rubbed his face to wake up slightly. "None of you were injured at the Alley?" he demanded.
"Minor injuries," Ron assured him, looking around for his family, reminding himself that they were alright. "Ginny had some burns, and Hermione caught a hex to her back, but she was wearing those bracelets the twins gave us. Probably saved her life." He was dying to ask what exactly was going on the past twenty four hours, but he was going to give Harry some time. He looked like he needed it.
Sirius snuck a glance at Harry and Ron, glad that they had each other during all of this. He finished his conversation with Bill, and walked over to the teens. "Harry, do you want to stay at the Burrow tonight?" he asked quietly. "I was going to go check on Remus, but…"
Harry shook his head. "No, I'm going with you."
"You should get some rest," Sirius protested. "It's been a long day for all of us, and we'll talk about all of it once we've had a chance to rest."
Harry stood with Ron's help, and took a moment, as the world spun around him. "Sirius, he's my godfather. I need to see him."
Sirius had learned in the past not to argue with Harry when he looked like that, even though he wanted to. Though he knew that it was impossible to protect Harry from the world, and the war, the father portion of him (which had been growing stronger the past several months) wanted to shield him from all of the evils. The pragmatist part, however, understood that it was beyond anything he could do at this point. "Alright. We'll see how he's doing. Then you are going to get some rest."
Harry nodded. "Thank you, dad," he said quietly.
Sirius didn't even try to stop himself, but grabbed his son and pulled him into a tight hug. They were both trembling, with exhaustion and emotion. He looked over, and spotted Charlie, who had come over to collect Ron. "Tell Albus we'll be at St. Mungo's, and then at home. Let us know when he calls a meeting."
Charlie and Ron both nodded at them, and Sirius twisted, not letting go of Harry, and Apparated the two of them to the hospital's entrance.
The older wizard walked up to the front desk. "I'd like any information on Remus Lupin. He was brought in after the attack on the Alley, suffering severe snake bites."
The nurse checked her parchments, which constantly were changing as patients were moved. She blanched slightly. "Mr. Lupin is on the first floor, and in the quarantine room."
"What?" Sirius demanded. "The bites aren't exactly contagious!"
Harry understood, though, and leaned over to Sirius. "Tomorrow's the full moon," he reminded quietly. "They probably want to keep him separated for when he changes. I don't know if the Wolfsbane is going to help him, with all of the potions he's on."
Well, that made sense, and Sirius was able to calm down. At least they knew he was still alive. "Is he allowed visitors?" It was well after midnight, but hopefully that didn't mean much with critical patients.
The nurse checked again. "He is, though he is still unconscious. I'll have a healer meet you at the room."
The two wizards thanked her, and hurried up the stairs. They found the room quickly, and wasted no time in walking inside.
Hermione was asleep on the couch, and Tonks had fallen asleep with her head on the bed, holding one of Remus' hands in both of hers. The man himself looked awful.
Lupin was paler than ever before, and even in sleep his face was creased with pain. Occassionally he would jerk and hiss in pain, but didn't open his eyes. Bandages covered the majority of his right side, though quite a bit was covered with the hospital issue blanket.
Harry once more choked back tears at the sight, and hobbled over to the small couch, trying to keep from waking his friend, and leaned his head back until it was resting on the back of the cushion. He would rest for a few minutes, at least until the healer got there to talk to them. His eyes closed, and he didn't fight it. It was only going to be for a moment, after all.
Sirius smiled sadly when he saw Harry fall unconscious within seconds of sitting down on the couch. He went over to the cabinet and pulled out two blankets, covering the teens on the couch. Neither even twitched, which betrayed their fatigue.
"Lord Black?" a voice inquired quietly from the door.
Sirius turned quickly to see a healer standing at the entrance of the room. Not wanting to wake anyone, he motioned for the man to talk to him in the hall. "How is he, Healer…Wickliffe?" he asked, reading the nametag.
"It was touch and go for a while, there," he said bluntly. "I was informed that we had already found the antidote for this particular venom a few months ago, but there was far more venom in his system than the previous patient's. However, as he received the antidote much quicker, it might make a difference. Our main concern tonight is the full moon. We gave him a dose of the Wolfsbane potion last night, and he'll have another one tonight. Hopefully, that'll be enough to keep the werewolf calm tonight. If he rips out all of his stitches, and refuses to let any of us near to sew them back up, he could bleed to death before he turns human again."
Taking a few deep breaths to calm himself, Sirius thought through the situation. "He has always done better when there are other animals nearby, especially when he's transformed. Could I stay here, in my Animagus form, when he transforms? It could keep him calm enough."
Wickliffe appeared to be thinking about it. "I don't know. This is a first for this hospital, and if you were to be injured while you were in there…"
"I'll sign a waiver," Sirius interrupted irritably. "He's my best friend, and I'm not going to leave him to go through this alone."
The healer was a smart man, and he nodded. "We have all day to figure this out. I'll speak with our legal department and draw up some papers for you to sign."
Sirius nodded as the smaller man hurried off, clearly happy to leave. He knew he shouldn't have snapped, but legalities weren't going to keep him from being with his friend when he needed him. He flagged down a nurse, and asked that another chair or cot be brought into the room. He didn't have the heart to wake up Harry so soon. They would catch a bit of sleep before heading back to their home.
Don't kill me, or I won't be able to have the next one up! There was a lot in this one, and I think we're all a bit 'battle fatigued' at this point. Not sure when I'll be able to finish the next update, but I doubt it's going to be another several months. *knocks on wood*
I just can't believe I made it to chapter 50! This is officially the longest (chapter wise) that I've done!
So, on the spell that defeated the dementors. Exuro, from my quick google search (which is always oh so reliable *snorts*) means to set on fire, or to burn down. Hence the Stag being fire. Not entirely logical, but hey, it's my world, so there! :-)