The Eye for an Eye
Children. It was not that I hated them. They just were too - childish - to begin with. They always got in the way, ran without thinking and died screaming out of fear. It did us no good that the Order was mostly composed of children, without any understanding of what exactly they would be facing. Introduce a bus full of Muggles into the mix, and you have a perfect recipe for disaster.
Of course, Voldemort had to let his followers play with muggles once in a while. It was inevitable, between all the degenerates under his leadership, and their desire to wreak as much havoc as possible. It was inevitable that we would clash in such cases, for protecting the muggles from the attacks had been one of our main goals.
Although, the Dark Lord made one mistake - he trusted Evan Rosier with the execution, and I knew Evan. He and I, we have a certain bits of history, filled with mutual hatred and disrespect. I knew that he was a Death Eater, and he knew that I had no tangible proof for it, else he'd already be rotting inside Azkaban. Sadly, while Malfoy family remains standing in the way, the only way to catch the bastard is to put him down while he's in the cloak.
And just a couple of minutes ago, I foolishly allowed myself an optimistic belief that our newest game was going to go better. On his side, there were five Death Eaters - a full group of freaks, possibly with Goyle among the senior ones as a safety measure. Everyone else must have been a fresh batch of recruits - our sources claimed a lot of different Death Eater activities for tonight, so there must have been only newbies available for their cruel games. Evan wasn't that high up in the ranks.
Our side had four. Myself, I was content with - I knew how Evan thinks and I knew where he was going to strike, courtesy of one Albus Dumbledore. The others weren't even remotely worth anything. Sure, they had done some fetch and helping duty, but this time there would be a battle. They were three stupid kids barely out of Hogwarts: James Potter, thinking this was going to be a game of Quidditch, his best buddy Sirius Black, who kept cracking stupid jokes, and Peter Pettigrew, someone who could have been a tag-along, yet both James and Sirius spent precious minutes trying to cheer him up. To top it all off, each of them wore that stupid shirt with the phoenix.
"Quiet you," I clenched my teeth in annoyance. "They're going to hear us."
"Relax, Moody," Sirius spoke up. "They won't know what hit them."
I glared at him.
"Fine, fine," he muttered. "Shutting up now, sir." And he saluted me. Children.
I cast an Disillusionment Charm myself, reveling in the soothing coldness running down my spine, as the boys double-checked their brooms.
Any second now.
The robed shapes were walking on the street, trying to pick a building they liked, the streetlights were out since the Death Eaters showed themselves. Only the moon shone fully in the night sky, tinted red in anticipation of the upcoming conflict - or that might have been my mind playing tricks on me again.
A Death Eater tried a spell to shatter the windows of the muggle building ahead of us. I hoped that behind the mask there was none other but Evan Rosier, but of course, my luck would never work so much in my favour. It was something of a habit of theirs - shattering all the windows, rousing the Muggles and levitate a select few outside for a game, drawing it out until Aurors would come. I was going to teach Rosier a simple lesson - habits were dangerous.
There was a loud bang when the the spell touched the improvised ward. The air shivered, sending a shockwave traveling through the air with the sound of crackling lightning bolt.
The wave lifted up the Death Eaters and threw them backwards. The one to cast the spell was flung the furthest, his journey ending rather abruptly when he slammed into the nearest muggle vehicle with the satisfying snapping sound of breaking bones and glass.
The windows of the nearby buildings fractured from the discharge, sending a rain of glass shards on the floor, waking up the whole neighbourhood. The obliviators were going to be working overtime, however this skirmish would end.
At least, the kids proved that they knew their stuff. "Move," I whispered to them, jumping out of the cover - the surprise was on our side, after all. My air support mounted the brooms and zoomed upwards, leaving me to pay the Death Eaters their dues on the ground.
We needed to press on our advantage as fast as possible. Hoping that the children would at least stick to the plan, I peeked out of my cover just long enough to cast a spell. I'd have used a killing curse, even if that would have made Dumbledore complain for the whole meeting, but it was too loud and flashy for the effect I wanted to achieve.
Dumbledore and Voldemort could allow themselves a display of power and skill. I stuck with the tested classics.
The explosion had thrown the death eaters back, taken out one of their number. Before they reorganised themselves, my silent curse cut the throat of another. He wasn't Rosier, I knew, for that particular Death Eater wouldn't have fallen for such a simple trick.
The man slumped on the ground as the others started furiously looking for their attackers. A spell left a gash in one of the walls - I only had seconds to relocate. I rolled to the side, taking cover behind another car. Even when casting spells disillusioned, moving away from the previous casting spot is something stupid wizards often forget and die.
A Death Eater wasted precious seconds blasting the pavement and a car to small bits. My spell caught him in the side - this time, a simple stunner - the wand movement was more convenient from that crouched position.
The one I took for Rosier was mid-casting the Homenum Revelio, when my support, in the form of the three enthusiastic playmates, began casting their spells from above, riding the night wind on their brooms.
Keep it simple - that was what I had said them before hand. Did the kids even think to listen? Of course not.
Pettigrew had started casting some sort of fire spells, highlighting his position perfectly for the remaining two Death Eaters, and hiding Rosier from my view. Trying to show off in the middle of the life and death situation was a perfect way to get killed. It was a surprise that he did not get hit yet.
Sirius was not one bit better - he was transfiguring the fallen glass into a cloud of insects - useless even as a distraction, really, since the fire show would destroy most of them too fast.
The third boy transfigured the damaged car into a lion. I resisted the urge to shout at them for being stupid and for reducing my potential cover.
I was busy flanking Rosier, who was hiding in the midst of Pettigrew's firestorm, safe with a flame-freezing charm on his robes.
The fifth Death Eater was gone. Did he Disapparate or Disillusion himself? We did not have neither time nor spare resources to place the Anti-Disapparition jinx on the whole street. Even our one-use ward took almost too long.
Muggle bus drove exactly into the centre of that flaming, buzzing mess. The bus was filled to the brim with a mixture of Muggle children and adults going on with whatever muggles do in their buses. It was driven slowly, and the man behind the wheel looked seemingly without the care in the world. Then, he saw the lion and stepped on the breaks.
A sudden crash sounded nearby, and a shiver went down my spine. There was a loud roar of inhuman rage, and the crash repeated once more. The heavy stomps made the earth shake. Our information was wrong.
There weren't just five death eaters to deal with.
The nearby building exploded outwards in a fountain of bricks and dust, as a fully grown giant slammed through it and slammed into the school bus, sending it spinning towards me and Rosier.
I tried to Disapparate out of the way.
There was a net of spells that stopped me in my tracks.
A trap, I realized. Someone had talked too much, someone had been compromised. With that thought running through my mind, a spinning muggle vehicle, a machine of steel and screaming children, slammed into me.
Thank Merlin for a cushioning charm. I managed to get it out at the very last moment. The only flaw it had - you could only apply it to an area or an object. It didn't work on living beings. The hit send me flying backwards and I slammed hard into a car - it was the impact that I could not have prepared for.
The wind was stolen from my lungs as my chest and back burned with the sting of sudden pain. Every breath cost an enormous amount of strength to pull off, but it was getting easier. I rolled of the car, falling on my knees. I needed a few more seconds.
The Muggle bus was mangled and laid on the side, many inside injured. Screams and shouts from the inside were annoying the Giant, and it was making it's way toward it. This time, slower, yet he could break into a charge at any second.
At least, the kids didn't lose their cool. With the innocent Muggles on the scene they took it more seriously now, darting fast in the sky, trying to stop the giant with the continuous assault. Of course, the stunners simply did not cut it.
And more Death Eaters were coming in. There must have been, since the amount of spells in the air was steadily increasing. Some wore invisibility cloaks - I took notice of a couple Death Eaters when their cloaks revealed them for half a second at a gust of cold wind. Even more appeared with quiet pops of Apparition. It seemed that their Anti-Disapparition Jinx only worked if one wanted to leave. There was still hope.
"Expecto Patronum!" I said the spell clearly, ignoring the pain every breath brought me. "Trap - outnumbered - giant - send help - Muggle victims." I added a quick message in a whisper, as the spell launched a silvery animal into the sky, towards the shining full moon. It flickered out of the view and was gone, magic throwing it across space, towards the current Order Headquarters.
The action provoked a powerful response from the enemy. My position had been relatively unknown, for my impact on the car was unremarkable compared to the commotion that was going in the battleground, but now, the silver spell had showed my position even to the stupidest of the Death Eaters.
I dodged a killing spell by a hair's breadth and shielded from en entrails-expelling curse. Three other curses - I did not have time to identify - whizzed past me like a spinning pair of fireworks. And then I was too far away from my former position for it to be too dangerous. A second to catch my breath before going into the fray again - my wooden leg kept reminding me about itself, and I needed every moment I could spare.
It was entirely too early to congratulate myself as there was a sudden pain in my left eye. Someone, standing as invisible as I was, took the moment of my rest to stab something sharp at my face. The choice of a physical attack over a quick spell served my assailant well, as I did not have as clear of a tell to dodge properly. He was wearing an invisibility cloak - thus, I saw the movement only at the very last second, leaning as far back as possible out of pure, animalistic fear of a sharp object going right at my eyes. That was what saved my life.
I howled in pain, the left hand automatically going to cover the wound, yet my refined reflexes did not stop working - I slammed a point blank blasting curse into the chest of my assailant, jumping and rolling backwards, away from the next wave of the incoming spells that was sure to come.
Blood tickled all over my face - I took a precious second to put a freezing spell onto what remained of the eye, but had no hopes that it would hold the pain back for long. It was still there, etching at my mind, making me grind my teeth out of sheer frustration. That had to have been my most serious wound as of yet - even when I lost my leg, I hadn't felt so helpless at the time.
My vision was too blurry to understand anything to a degree that I would be comfortable with. Still, I could make guesses. Our assailants numbered ten, at the very least, and were under some sort of Disillusionment Charm or at least wearing an Invisibility Cloaks. All of them hidden, beside the roaring giant. That made locating their exact positions an impossible task, especially in my current condition.
Trapped in the dancing flames on the wreckage of the bus, the screaming Muggles were holding the giant's attention. The giant was a biggest target for me to hit - the only one I could reliably target. I needed to get closer, though. Meanwhile, unaware of my approach, Sirius shouting obscenities at the giant, probably in attempt to draw it to himself.
He zoomed past the large figure, slamming a spell into the giant's chest, ducked under his large hand and sped along so close to the ground that he almost crashed into me.
The giant turned around, towards me. As one of his legs was lifted off the ground, I slammed a reductor curse into the street at the other foot, sending the huge creature stumbling forward. There was a loud thump as the heavy body hit the street, and the ground shook. The bus creaked a few times, and I slammed open the doors. It was terrible, forcing them outside to be exposed like this, but letting the bus get crushed by the giant or leaving the muggles to burn, was not an option.
"Peter!" I shouted at the least busy member of the four of us - I had no idea where James was, but he had been filling the area with all kinds of transfigured creatures, and dodging a barrage of incoming curses. Dogs were a good choice - most wizards would forget to mask their scent as well. There was hope for the boy... If he was going to live through this.
"We need to retreat to the buildings!" I roared, trying to be heard amidst the confusion. Even though the Muggles could not see me at all - they would at least hear the command. "Into the buildings - Peter, you're going to cover us all."
"James! Sirius!" I shouted my orders blindly. "We're retreating!"
A spell struck near me then, shattering the bus into thousand pieces of flaming metal, scattering them outwards in all directions, slamming into my weakening shield. The Muggles screeched, many of their number bleeding and hurt. Since the attack was trying to kill me, the passengers were still alive. They would not be soon.
That spell was bad news, I realised - it meant that the other Order members had been tricked too. I did not need to look, to check just who was responsible. Voldemort had arrived on the battlefield. Personally.
Judging by the commotion in the streets, it was reasonable to hope for the DMLE to arrive in a matter of minutes. Yet, it might have been a lot longer - the recent weeks had been especially tiring for the whole department. In any case, we would not last longer than a minute or two.
Peter squealed and dove for cover as I hobbled blindly trying to get to safety, while the giant, now bleeding from a thousands of little cuts, courtesy of Voldemort, had yet to get up. I knew that I would not make it. At least, I could draw some attention towards myself - since now I was useless in the battle anyway, I canceled the disillusionment spell, stumbling forward. There were shouts in the night, and spells started flowing in my direction. My shield held the first few.
Suddenly, there was a bright flash of light. A powerful song, amidst the dark night. I felt all the Death Eaters stir uncontrollably, as the fiery phoenix appeared amidst the street, together with Dumbledore and a couple more Order members. I could not see who arrived, but there were too few of them.
Yet, we had Dumbledore.
The bright and blinding Phoenix dove towards me as I saw a flash of green.
My legs hobbled, I missed a step and fumbled, trying to hold my balance. Swaying in place, I felt someone swooping up to me - probably Potter, catching me halfway to the ground. Why was he trying to save me?
Dumbledore cast some spell - something that must have been prepared in advance, since I felt the intensity of the magical presence wash over me and rushing on further still. I saw a powerful barrier erecting itself, a protective dome around us and the muggle bus. It pulsed with pure power, the ground cracking and bending to form a secondary, physical layer over all of us.
If I could see more than a blurry light and strange movements, I'm sure that I would have been treated to to a marvelous display of magical embroidery and beauty, but I wanted only to see the enraged expression of the Dark Lord Voldemort.
With that last thought I blacked out.
I inhaled the scent of fire and blood and my eye snapped open. Dumbledore. It must have been minutes, not more, as the panic of the Muggles had not yet creased itself. Only, it was more... controlled now, somehow.
I could hear a soothing voice of Lily Potter, who was trying to speak with the youngest passengers of the bus, trying calm them down. I think I heard something about being a brave lion and knowing that others would protect them. James looked like he was helping - he had transfigured a few petty rabbits and dogs for the little children to hold to, where Sirius was prancing stupidly around, trying to grab the attention of the few more scared ones, to somehow make them laugh.
Children taking care of other children.
Peter was clutching his wand, unresponsive to anything that was happening around him - he looked too scared for his first game. It did not help that his leg was lightly bleeding. He would live, though.
Among injured Muggles, Fabian was administering the first aid, where Gideon was talking with the Muggle adults, trying to introduce a measure of order into the chaos. They would be useless against the Death Eaters, but it sounded like the plan was for the Muggles to stay put and not get in the way.
There was a rhythmic drumming on the outside of the strange golden sphere. I turned back to Dumbledore, who was continuously glancing at my face, and then back to something in his left hand. His wandtip was lit, shining almost at my face. He looked exhausted.
"What are you doing?" I croaked rudely at him. "Why hasn't your damned bird brought us back to safety already? Wasn't that why you brought him here?"
"Fawkes is going to need a few months for something like that," the old man said pointing at one of his pockets. There, a tiny, disheveled bird's head was peaking outside. "He took a curse for you."
"Where are the Aurors?" I called to him, blinking at the bird with confusion - not going to let the Auror rest, eh? And I swear to god, the blasted bird winked at me. "How long has it been?" I asked Albus. Looking at Dumbledore was safer for my sanity.
"An Imperiused ministry worker injured Crouch in an assassination attempt today," Dumbledore supplied. "He will live, but the Department is in disarray. I expect they will arrive in a couple more minutes."
"How much time do we have until it breaks?" I motioned toward the humming dome and cringed as I felt another impact shaking it and the ground below. "Can you do something for my eye?" I asked, as an afterthought. "I'd like to see who is killing me. I need something better than Homenum Revelio too - there are too many of them invisible for it to do me any good. Maybe you have some ideas?"
"I am working on it," Dumbledore twinkled at me with his annoying grandfatherly expression, the one he liked to employ when talking with the kids. I did not need to see it. "I'm going to need a drop of your blood, with your permission."
"Take it. It's not like I haven't bled out most of it anyway."
He nodded and pointed his wand back at the thing in his left hand. Was that - something that had remained from my eye and he had taken before? I did not hear an incantation, but I could see that Albus had been concentrating rather fiercely.
I was fascinated to see a small round ball forming in his palm under direction of his strange wand, growing bigger and whiter. Through my years of working with him, I have learned not to ask questions, even when I had many.
Human transfiguration on the whole new level. Only Albus.
The dome started fracturing. The members of the Order creased all their tasks and marched to form a circle around the remains of the bus, Muggles crouching in the middle. The Order was ready to spring to action the moment the dome would fall. Hopefully, our unseen assailants would not prove an impossible adversary.
Voldemort was a major problem, but he was the problem for Dumbledore, not us.
"It's not going to be pretty," Dumbledore remarked. He was either speaking about the battle or of the eye-thing that he had almost finished conjuring. A trickle of blood floated from my face to the strange ball through the air at the order of his glimmering wand. "Do you feel alright?"
It stung, but I believed it annoying more than painful.
"Just give me something for the itch, and I'm ready," I grunted a reply. "I am always ready to wreak havoc for the law."
He gave it to me then. The Eye. It rolled into my hand, strangely sloshing along the way, feeling weird to touch. Strange, alien. Yet - something that was of mine. The pain in the eye socket was numbing down already - what was that spell?
"Put it in."
"What?" I asked, my lone eye surveying the strange construct.
"It should suffice as a replacement," Dumbledore supplied. "You are lucky that a part of your true eye was salvageable, otherwise it would not have been possible to make." He paused. "We do not have much time. I need you to be ready, Alastor." And he was gone to join the circle.
Curiously, I plucked in the - thing - into my eye socket. There was a strange gurgling sound, and then... Everything was bright, even too bright.
It should suffice, he had said. The vision the eye gave me-
I had no words.
It was spinning wildly in all directions, bringing the furthest things closer, showing me precisely what I wanted to see. I had always wanted to see behind my back - and I did - in the exact same way as I imagined it.
It was a tad bit disorienting, yes, but I could see everything.
My gaze pierced through the field that Dumbledore had erected, traveled through the spinning patterns etched on it's surface and found our adversaries. The Death Eaters were supposed to be invisible. Yet, I could see them as clearly as in a court session of Wizengamot.
The giant, injured and tired, was hitting the dome from above, sending echoes to the ground, shaking everything. The Death Eaters were in a wide circle, their Invisibility Cloaks billowing in the cold win. Twenty of them - and the Dark Lord, smiling contently.
Fractures were travelling down the surface with ever increasing intensity as I stood back up.
Black turned to Peter and, somehow, in the background of the echoing hits his words were clear as day. "Look at him, Moody's mad. The Death Eaters are not going to know who-"
I turned to him in but a second, and glared.
Sirius choked on his next words and diverted his gaze. I didn't. I just pressed the tip of my wand to my head, letting the Disillusionment Charm do its work.
My new Eye was watching the nearest Death Eaters. My mind was already working overtime - looking for the best attack positions, for the best spells to tackle the problem.
Oh, I was mad, Black hadn't been off the mark. The damned Phoenix believed that I was important in the coming struggle. I would prove him right then.
Let no one say that Moody never pays his dues.
The dome fell.
It shattered like pieces of glass, falling downwards in a strange cloak of rain.
Before the first pieces touched the ground, I was already moving.
"This should be fun," I mouthed to myself, reveling in the rage that bubbled up inside of me, dashing to take the best position for the pure havoc I was prepared to unleash on their ranks.
Once more unto the breach.
I blame Klackerz for the story idea.