It's been a while since I last put anything up. I'm sorry for the delay, but I just wanted to make sure my focus was on school where it belonged. I really appreciate all the reviews, and I'm glad most of the response to this story has been positive.
Minerva was forced to go on the defensive as a prefect from Hufflepuff shot a greenish-grey curse at her. Had it hit, it would have liquefied the bones in her wand arm, but she was able to deflect it up towards the ceiling. A few candles exploded as the spell hit them on its way up, the hot wax falling like infernal rain. With grace honed by decades of experience in duels, in war and in classrooms, she returned fire, transforming the pillar that the boy firing at her was using as cover. By sheer luck, another spell-bound pupil was near enough to be caught in the spell's wake. The column sprouted arms, ones that resembled a troll's in girth, and grabbed the two students before they had time to bring their wands to bear. The arms lifted the two off the ground and bashed them together, not hard enough to kill but enough to stun. The arms then dragged the two to the pillar and hugged them close, where a multitude of hands sprouted to grasp them in place. They struggled briefly, but upon finding themselves stuck fast, they ceased, eerily complacent as if they were waiting for something. Minerva was relieved to see two innocents out of the fight, however, and didn't pay much more attention after the fact. With a moment to breathe, she looked out over the Great Hall-turned battlefield, deciding where best to lend aid.
She took a quick count of the combatants. There were now thirteen students fighting nine teachers. This balance in numbers was offset by the teachers' unwillingness to hurt the students, and whoever was controlling the students' spells obviously didn't have that handicap. Already three teachers were out of the fight, including Professor Vector and the Muggle Studies Professor Charity Burbage. Pomona Sprout seemed to be focused on shielding other professors from incoming fire, allowing them to strike back without fear of reprisal. The Transfiguration Professor ducked down from a high powered incendio and saw Sprout deflect it from hitting Madame Pince in the face. Minerva looked to see where the spell came from, and could see a knot of three students covering each other near the end of the Hufflepuff table. Careful not to overpower it, she shot a banishing spell at the empty plates near the student's faces, hitting multiple plates and sending spinning metal disks at head height. One student, a Gryffindor boy from her fourth year classes, was able to deflect the tableware, but the other two were not so lucky and took incapacitating blows. When the student went to push an unconscious Slytherin girl off of him from where she fell, he was hit by a follow-up stunner to the back. Ten to go.
While Minerva was able to hold her own, it was clear that Flitwick and Dumbledore were in a league of their own. The diminutive Charms Professor was always on the move, ducking, rolling and weaving himself around spellfire. He was showing rest of the Professors that he did indeed used to be a dueling champion. His wand was never quiet, with multicolored spells racing from the tip at uncommon speed, forcing his opponents to go on the defensive lest be taken out of the fight. After making sure she hadn't killed either of the students hit with plates, she was able to see Flitwick conjure a net that hopelessly tangled one student and tripped up another. As the student righted herself, she was hit by a petrifying spell, and fell over on top of the one in the net. Seeing an obviously dark spell headed his way, Minerva was about send a counter to his defense, but the short man beat her to the punch. He whirled around, slapped the spell out of the air with his wand, and sent a stunner back at the young boy who cast it, all in one fluid movement. The Transfiguration Professor knew he would be able to handle himself.
If Flitwick was good, the headmaster was phenomenal. At the start of the encounter, he transformed the Gryffindor table benches, long spelled to be impervious to most spell casting to prevent students from carving their initials into the seats, into two wooden humanoid golems. These constructs, eight feet tall and hunched over with imagined muscle covering broad shoulders, began moving. One moved towards the teachers, to act as a sort of mobile shield for them to take cover behind. Madam Pomfrey and Professor Snape began using the cover to take care of the wounded, hoping to save the Arithmancy Professor's arm. The other golem began moving towards the students, some of whom began firing spells at it. The spells cast by the students were only able to slowly chip away at the golem, for it retained its resistance to magic from the earlier enchantments. However, its only purpose was to herd the students toward each other, trying to undo their formation and keep their attention off Dumbledore and the teachers. The wooden creature slowly plodded forward, grabbing a Ravenclaw boy by the wand arm as it moved towards the line of students forming the kill box. There was a snap, but the boy did not cry out as his arm was obviously broken, and merely dangled from the golem's clenched fist. The wooden construct reached the other six students, who began to work together to concentrate their fire to bring it down. It lifted the boy in its hand and threw him towards the others, who had to scatter or be bowled over. They reconvened, and stood in a cluster, wands pointed not at the golem but at a point a few feet in front of the group. A red light shot forth from each of their wands, and combined at that focus to become amplified. It rocketed forward, slamming into the chest of the golem and blasting it back in pieces. Their triumph was short-lived. Dumbledore, forgotten by the other combatants, had finished transfiguring the floor of the Great Hall where they stood into quicksand. Dumbledore smiled grimly, the customary twinkle absent from his eyes, as he saw the children sink into the formerly solid floor. They struggled, but the more they moved the faster they sunk. When they could barely keep their heads above the surface, the headmaster cancelled the spell, leaving them in solid stone, tapped and unable to do any more harm.
With the last of the imperioed students under control, the teachers began to move forward, both to undo the curse and undo the damage done while trying to subdue them. Professor Snape stalked from student to prone student, muttering countercurses and pouring potions down their throats. Madam Pomfrey had finally stabilized Professor Vector, and the flesh was slowly starting to regrow. She moved to help Snape, having some experience in dealing with curses and dark magic herself. She turned to Dumbledore, concern in her eyes. "We can handle things here, then we catch up to you. The students outside need our help. If Hagrid can't distract the trolls long enough…we may have a massacre on our hands." She looked around the Great Hall. Students had been used as cannon fodder to distract teachers. Things hadn't been this bad since the times of Voldemort, maybe not even then.
Dumbledore looked grim, and nodded at Madam Pomfrey. "Filius, Minerva, Severus, come with me. Hagrid has been defending the children outside all by himself and now has Quirrel to deal with. One can only guess at how he has managed this long. The rest of you, tend to the wounded and meet up with us outside when you can. Pomona, I'm placing you in charge. We're going to send the students your way to get back into the school. Once they are inside, tell the uninjured to return to their common rooms and not to leave until told they can by me or their Head of House. Take care of the wounded as they come, then try to send to their common rooms." He spun away then, pulling the mentioned teachers in his wake. They were needed elsewhere.
Hagrid was down a weapon, he was getting tired, and he had taken a few hits. He had taken down almost a dozen trolls, some of whom were quite big and tough, easily bigger than the one he had to drag out of the school on Halloween. Now, though, there were still eight, fresh and uninjured, and it looked like there were about to get reinforced by a dozen acromantulas. Hagrid, normally one to look on the bright side of things, was having a hard time doing so in this moment. He had seen at least two students killed by these ugly brutes, and he knew that by the end of today he would have to lead people to kill one of his oldest friends, if not do it himself. He might even be sentenced to Azkaban, for not reporting the Acromantula nest in the first place. That is, if he survived this fight.
The biggest troll, standing hunched over at fifteen feet at the shoulder and wielding another large club like the one imbedded in its friend, growled something to the smaller one standing next to it. The larger one smacked the smaller one upside the head, and gestured towards Hagrid with its free hand. The smaller one stepped forward, stepping on an Acromantula on the way, and bared its teeth menacingly at Hagrid. It bellowed its own challenge at the half-giant, who was now beginning to really feel the pain in his ribs. Hagrid was starting to feel hopeless. Even if he took out the troll already on its way, he still had seven more to contend with, and needed to handle the nearly dozen spiders to boot. He chanced a glance towards the Quidditch pitch, and couldn't see any of the students, webbed or otherwise. In the back of his mind, he wondered where Harry and his friends had gotten to.
The troll took another few steps forward, and Hagrid readied himself for one of the last fights of his life. Unable to scream a challenge, he just smiled a bloodstained smile at the ugly thing heading his way. This, he thought, could be it.
He was wrong, however. Before the troll could break out into a run, it found itself engulfed in flames as Ron moved out from Hagrid's shadow. Ron, having finally found the inspiration to direct his fire magic towards something, was gritting his teeth and sweating with the effort. Hermione helped as well, conjuring a solid spear of ice and sent it flying towards Hagrid's opponent. It pierced the creature through its wide open mouth, sending it flying backwards and landing on another of the spiders milling about. Releasing the fire from the troll, Ron directed his attention to his most hated enemies. Struck by inspiration, he took a deep breath and blew out. Fire emerged from his mouth and incinerated the closest two Acromantulas before they could move, and managed to set a third spider's hair on fire before the flames petered out.
Neville, having returned to his former height in all the excitement, again slapped Hagrid with a bit of magic, this time on the back of his knee, the highest he could reach. The area glowed green for a moment, and Hagrid could feel his injuries melt away. He felt energized; better than he felt when he woke up that morning. Neville, however, was looking drained. This fight had been going on for close to an hour, and those big spells had taken more out of him than he realized. He moved back behind Hagrid to the corpse of a large troll and sat down, heedless of the smell emanating from it. Neville could do no more for now.
Meanwhile, Harry was furious at the injuries Hagrid had taken fighting the mountain trolls. However, he knew that wild anger was not what he needed to be productive with his magic. Channeling his fury into thoughts of the mountainside where he and Ron had spent the night, he remembered the dancing forms of the fire elementals, like people fully formed in the flames. He remembered the power of the mountainside, and pulled the energy he sensed just beneath the surface into himself. He pictured that energy becoming one of those elementals, but it was harder than harry thought it would be. He pushed through, and when he opened his eyes, he could see a seven foot tall woman standing in front of the nearest troll. When the troll went to poke it, the fire elemental screeched with rage, like metal nails on a chalkboard. It wrapped its hands around a finger poking its body, and instantly Harry could see the tough, leathery skin of the troll open up with burns. The burns continued all up the troll's arm, where steam could be seen coming out of its orifices. It opened its mouth to scream, but nothing emerged. The eyes, looking like two hard boiled eggs, rolled back in its head, and the brute fell backwards, its mouth hanging open and blackened tongue lolling out.
Harry didn't have much time to admire the fire elemental's work, as the Acromantulas were starting to move towards him in their effort to avoid Ron's assault. He went to blast one of them with a lightning bolt like he did back in the woods, but remembered how drained he had been feeling lately. He looked back at Neville, who was sitting with his head in his hands behind Harry, illustrating the need to conserve resources. He had no idea how Hermione and Ron were still going, but knew they would last if they kept up this pace. Harry needed to take out multiple opponents with a single blow. He paused, then got an idea. He remembered, long ago, watching a nature special on Mrs. Figg's television. It was on weird weather, and he specifically remembered the section on ball lightning being particularly interesting. He again pulled the mountain mana into himself, but this time he focused on what he remembered of the video the program had shown of ball lightning in action. He pictured it in his head, the lightning almost solid in his vision, until he could smell the ozone from the electricity. When he opened his eyes, he could see the ball of electricity in his hands, almost as tall as he was. He side-stepped, holding the ball in place in front of him into he could see most of the spiders in front of him. With a grunt, he released the energy, and the captive light sprung forth, electrocuting one, two, three, four spiders before the energy finally dissipated. Harry released a huge breath. That was more difficult than it had been in the past, but he was still ready to fight.
Hermione was not idle while Harry and Ron were fighting. Working off the idea of the icicle of death that was so successful, she continued to use ice magic to eliminate her enemies. When a troll towered over her, just like on Halloween, Hermione did not hesitate. She sent a patch of ice to cover the nose and mouth of the ugly thing, and jumped out of its way when it began to flail in panic. She smirked briefly to herself before turning to face a giant spider. She had come a long way since the end of October, she thought to herself as she froze it in a block of ice. As she did so, she began to feel a weariness pervade her core, as if she had been running for hours and had just hit the wall. Leaping back from a wild swing from a troll, she looked up as a renewed Hagrid punched the troll with all of his strength. With an audible crack, its neck snapped, and it fell limp like a puppet with its strings cut.
Hagrid was not going to let these children stand in harm's way any longer. Grabbing a gore-covered rock, he hoped he could end this quickly. He took the rock, a boulder to most, and hurled it like a fastball at the stomach of the biggest troll. When it slammed into its protruding stomach, its eyes bugged out, and it looked like it was about to retch. Hagrid didn't miss a moment thought, and sprinted forward to tackle the troll to knock it out of the fight. It showed how it got to be the size it was, and recovered quickly. It tried to bring its club into play, but Hagrid was larger and stronger, and was able to use both hands to pin its arm to the ground. This, however, left the troll free to grab the rock and try to bash Hagrid's skull in. Hagrid was too broad for the troll to reach his head, but the blow to the shoulder knocked something free that should have stayed where it was, and the pain was enough to distract Hagrid so the troll could switch positions with the half-giant. Hagrid, distracted, grabbed his shoulder and tried to reset the arm so he could still fight. Meanwhile the troll was able to bring its huge club to bear, and readied a blow that would have knocked even Hagrid unconscious. Hagrid looked up, and could see in the dying afternoon light (had he been fighting that long? It felt like days) the troll give him an evil grin. The troll did not notice light footsteps running up its back, but it did notice a sharp pain in its neck as warmth began to run down its front. As its world began to go grey, it noticed a flaming sword out of the corner of its eye.
Hagrid had never been so glad to see Harry, even he wanted nothing more than to keep Harry and his friends away from here. Hagrid pushed the troll off of his chest and stood up. Ron was setting fire to the last of the Acromantulas, but the last of the trolls were forming up on the group with malice in their eyes. However, there was also apprehension and confusion, as the two of them had just taken down the warchief. There were five of them left out of twenty and they had lost their allies the spiders, and even creatures as stupid as trolls could figure out today had gone badly for them. When they heard the sounds of Professor Dumbledore and the rest of the teachers making their way down from the castle, the largest one left made its decision. With a hoot and a grunt, it began to lope its way towards the Forbidden Forest. The others looked at each other, then the coming teachers, and moved to follow the larger troll. By the time the professors made it to the huddled group of defenders, the trolls had completely disappeared into the forest.
Dumbledore was the first in line, and as such was the first to see just how large Hagrid had gotten. "Hagrid! I take it this is something Harry was able to help you with!"
Hagrid shook his head, "Naw Professor, 'twas Neville. He worked a bit o magic on 'imself to help the students, and he helped me take on the trolls." Hagrid frowned. While he was happy they were here now, he was not happy they had left him and the students to their own devices for so long. "What kept ya? I know 'arry went to get ya right off."
"We got here as fast as we could. There were spellbound students in the Great Hall, and Quirinus set them upon the faculty in an effort to delay us. I apologize for leaving you in such dire straits. But I see you were able to handle yourself magnificently."
"Not good enough…" Hagrid looked out to where he could see the pulpy remains of the student that the warchief had crushed for fun. He shuddered, and could feel his eyes getting wet. Dumbledore reached up and patted the giant on the side, eyes missing the usual twinkle. Dumbledore knew what it was like to not get there in time.
"Hagrid, you did the best you could. That was better than anyone could have reasonably expected. There were many of them, and only one of you. Somehow you managed to save almost everyone else. Take pride in that, Hagrid. That is a monumental accomplishment." The headmaster looked around. "Where are the other students? Have they made it back to the castle? We did not see them on our way down."
Harry shook his head. "We sent them to the Quidditch pitch. It seemed out of the way, and the safest place. That's where everyone else is."
At Harry's words, the teachers seemed to remember Harry and his friends were there. The Potions Professor, in particular, looked like he was about to say something to the effect of the foolishness of Gryffindors, but simultaneous glares from the rest of the adults present forced him to keep his thoughts to himself, though they were obvious to anyone who looked at him. The headmaster, however, looked to be bursting with pride at the students in front of him. "Harry, Ms. Granger, Mr. Longbottom, Mr. Weasley, I could not be more proud to call you students of Hogwarts. You exemplify the qualities, the brave and noble actions most prized by Gryffindor, the wit prized by Ravenclaw, the steadfast loyalty of Hufflepuff, and the cunning of Slytherin. You have done so much today that I feel points would trivialize your actions. All of you will receive special commendations for services for the school, and I will be sure to tell the Ministry of your heroic actions. I will make sure not to mention your, ahem, shall we say special talents, but I'm sure that Orders of Merlin are in your future." At this, Snape scoffed, but was shushed by his fellow Heads of House.
Loud crashing sounds could be heard as the trolls pushed their way through the brush and the trees. Harry, his friends and the professors looked happy at this, but Hagrid, who was listening closely, shook his head. "Tha trolls ain't headin fer tha mountains, they're goin' in tha wrong direction. Whateva's happenin' it's not over yet."
Minerva and Filius nodded, and Severus snorted as he looked around. Dumbledore drew himself up and nodded himself. 'Hagrid's right. Quirinus is still out there, and I doubt this is all he planned for us today. He mentioned something very disturbing, that he and Voldemort were allied with a more powerful being that would return Voldemort to power. I cannot sense that anyone has left the school wards, so they must be within the Forbidden Forest. Harry, Hermione, Ron, can you possibly sense where Professor Quirrel has gone? There must be some sort of magical signature to what he is doing."
Harry concentrated, and he could feel was a constant drain on his mana reserves. It felt like the energy was being sucked out of the land, and it felt like it was coming from somewhere in the Forbidden Forest, along the path where the trolls disappeared. Harry glanced at Ron, Neville and Hermione and could tell his friends were barely standing up as it was. "I should fly ahead and pin point it. Guys, you look dead on your feet. Go get the other students inside. I'll meet up with you as soon as I can tell the professors were Quirrel is."
Harry's friends looked ready to protest until Harry said that he would be handing off responsibility. Hermione walked up to him and hugged him. "Stay safe. Let the professors handle this. I want you back here as soon as you know where Professor Quirrel is." She kissed him on the cheek, and giggled at the redness that spread over his face. He sputtered, not sure what to do, as she smiled. "Such a boy. Tackles Acromantulas and trolls single handedly, but this…"
Hoping to save face, Harry ran back to where he had left his Nimbus in the confusion of the battle. He jumped on his broom and flew back to the edge of the woods where the Professors were gathering. "Come on, Professors. Quirrel has a lot to answer for."
If the end seems rushed, it's because it totally is. I was at this for a solid six hours, because I was tired of seeing it on my hard drive. If people don't think it's complete crap, I'll be satisfied, but it's well below my usual standards.
IMPORTANT NOTE, PLEASE READ
I'm looking for someone to help me flesh out the ideas to this story as we begin to head into the climax and after. I want to continue to write in this crossover universe, and I am almost as interested in where this story goes as some of you. I also am hoping I can find someone to help me edit the parts I already posted, as the most common complaint people I show this story to is that the early chapters seem rushed, and they are. If you are at all interested, please do not hesitate to SEND ME A PM saying if you are interested. I am easily motivated when I have a collaborator, and if someone communicates with me I am pretty prompt with my responses. I am working on a pretty heavy course load this semester, and I want to make sure people who are enjoying this story are not disappointed by lack of updates. If you've noticed grammar and sentence structure problems, then you're good enough that I really want you to help. I need someone familiar with Harry Potter, but, and this is important, NOT MARRIED to the cannon universe. As you may have noticed, we've gone off script at this point, and I have no intention of going back.