Disclaimer: Harry Potter and the Potterverse do not belong to me.
About a week after Dumbledore and Sirius' quest for the Ring, which had gotten Dumbledore gravely injured, Harry and his friends were sitting in the kitchen in Grimmauld Place having their breakfast, along with Sirius, Remus, Tonks and Mrs. Weasley.
The atmosphere was somber, and had been that way since the night before, when they had received word of the Headmasters' health from Madam Pomfrey.
While she had declared him to be out of immediate danger at the time, the curse on the Ring had apparently had a greater effect that just destroying Dumbledore's hand. When Madam Pomfrey had checked him later that night, she had found that the curse had been attacking his magical core, and was slowly eating away at it.
Snape had immediately identified the curse after that, and had let her know that he could make up a potion that would help, but he would require a few hours. Dumbledore had been shifted to the Hogwarts Infirmary, where Madam Pomfrey was watching over him.
Dumbledore's condition had improved significantly since then, but the curse was irreversible. It had already been too late by the time that Snape could get his potion ready, and the curse had spread to far to be eliminated from the system.
Just the night before, Madam Pomfrey had informed them that the damage was already done, and Dumbledore had only a few more months to live before the curse destroyed his core completely.
Suddenly, the somber mood was broken by a large ball of light that flew in through the open kitchen door. Everyone looked up at it as it took on the shape of a lynx, which they knew by now to be Kingsley's Patronus.
"Everyone, there's been an attack on Azkaban! Sirius, get any other Order members over there and head to Azkaban immediately. The kids are supposed to stay at Headquarters, so leave at least one person to watch over them." The lynx said in Kingsley's deep voice.
"Damn it! Just when we don't have Dumbledore to back us up." Sirius said as shot out of his seat, breakfast already forgotten.
"I'll stay and watch over everyone here. The three of you should go immediately." Mrs. Weasley said, and received nods from the other three adults.
"Wait hand on, why the bloody hell can't we go? We've been training for this sort of thing for the past few weeks, haven't we?" Ron asked indignantly.
Ginny looked like she agreed with Ron, while Neville, Harry and Hermione looked apprehensive. Luna continued with her breakfast as if the Patronus had never shown up.
"While I do agree Ron, this is the kind of thing that is supposed to be done by Aurors and qualified professionals." Remus said calmly. "No one doubts that any of you would be able to hold your own in battle, the fact is that is you shouldn't have to in the first place."
"Moony, we'll talk to him, you all should get going." Harry said with a sigh.
Remus nodded and headed off to join Sirius and Tonks upstairs, with Mrs. Weasley following to see them all off.
Once they were all gone, Harry turned to Ron, who was fuming a little. "Ron, Dumbledore already told us that we wouldn't be participating in this sort of thing even if we are officially a part of the Order, and we agreed to it."
"So what, we just sit here and do nothing?" Ron exclaimed.
"Absolutely not. We continue working on the little project that the Headmaster assigned us. You know very well how important that is." Hermione said, staring Ron down.
"And besides Ronald, Azkaban is better protected than it has ever been at this moment." Luna said calmly, still munching on a piece of toast.
"What do you mean? Haven't the Dementors supposedly joined Riddle?" Neville asked, looking very confused, while the rest nodded in agreement with Luna.
"You mean you don't know yet?" Ginny said, turning to him with a surprised expression on his face.
"Know what?" Neville asked, turning towards her.
"Azkaban isn't guarded by Dementors anymore." Hermione said. "It's protected by Golems."
Several kilometers away from Grimmauld Place, on the sea coast closest to Azkaban Island, a large force of Aurors, Unspeakables, and other Ministry people were gathering, including a team of Healers from Saint Mungo's. The sea was surprisingly calm, at least compared to its usual turbulent nature.
It was onto this scene that Sirius, Remus and Tonks Apparated, wands drawn and ready for battle. On seeing the maroon robes of the Aurors around them, they relaxed almost immediately.
Sirius put his wand away as he noticed no immediate danger.
"Excuse me; do you know where Amelia Bones is?" Sirius asked a nearby Auror.
"The Minister? Erm, I think she was over there." The man said, waving vaguely in the direction of the coast. "But she's supposed to be briefing the squad leaders, so it would be best not to disturb her."
"Oh don't worry about that. And thank you." Sirius said, before grabbing Remus and Tonks and dragging them in the direction the man had indicated.
"Come on, I think I see Amy." Sirius said quietly, spotting Amelia, who was standing on top of a large rock and shouting orders at the people standing around her.
"Erm Sirius? I think I should go and see what squad I'm assigned to." Tonks said, trying to tug her hand out of his grip.
"No you aren't. You're staying with me and Moony, and I've already cleared it with Scrimgeour. We'll be in Amy's protection detail along with Mad-Eye and Shack." Sirius said.
"Really? Full Order guard?" Remus asked, looking surprised.
"Well of course! She's the Minister after all." Sirius said as they stopped a little distance away and waited for Amelia to finish issuing orders.
"I'm surprised she's allowing you to do this." Tonks said.
"That's because she doesn't know about it." Moody said, stomping up to stand beside them. "If she did, she'd be throwing a fit about how she doesn't need a protection detail."
"But given that Riddle is here, I don't want to take the risk. Scrimgeour thinks so too, so he allowed me to have you lot and Shacklebolt." Moody said, nodding to the tall black Auror who had just walked up beside them.
"Morning everyone. Are we ready to go in yet?" Kingsley asked.
"We are now." Moody said as Amelia finally hopped off the rock. "Come on."
Moody took charge of the group as they headed towards Amelia, who now seemed to be arguing with Scrimgeour.
"-don't need a protection detail damn it!" Amelia shouted at the Head of the DMLE.
"Well too bad lassie. You're getting one anyway." Moody growled. Amelia whirled around to face them, glaring at Moody.
"Mad-Eye, what the hell? You know I can take care of myself!" Amelia said indignantly.
"We know you can, boss. But you're the Minister now, and its rules for the Minister to have a protection detail if there's a potentially dangerous situation. And this certainly qualifies." Kingsley said calmly.
"If I had my way, Minister, you would be far away from the battle. But we know you would never agree to that, so think of this as a compromise." Scrimgeour said firmly.
Amelia sighed in frustration but nodded.
"Cheer up Amy! At least you get some eye candy to look at between fights." Sirius said, striking a dramatic Lockhart-esque pose.
"Oh whatever. Let's gets started. The containment wards won't hold for much longer." Amelia said, turning to the sea, where Azkaban Island could be seen in the distance, a black blemish on an otherwise beautiful sea.
"Do we know what we're facing?" Remus asked.
"Mostly, yeah. We have a rough idea that the Aurors we've posted there were able to send out before the invaders disabled communication. You-Know-Who is there, along with about three or four dozen Death Eaters. He's also got quite a few Dementors with him, though, and those are going to be the main problem." Scrimgeour said.
"And what about the golems? We have any idea how those are faring?" Sirius asked. He had heard a lot about the new guardians of Azkaban, but didn't know how good they were in battle.
Amelia did, apparently, as she gave him feral smile. "Oh they should be doing well. Really well."
A few hours ago, on Azkaban Island.
Auror John Dawlish yawned lazily as he walked across the ramparts of Azkaban Prison, cursing his luck for drawing monitoring duty in Azkaban. Sure, the place wasn't as oppressive anymore now that the Dementors were gone, but it was still Azkaban.
Despite the fact that the Ministry currently used the structure to incarcerate criminals, Azkaban had originally started out as the stronghold of a Dark Lord several centuries ago, one whose name was lost to the ages, or simply forgotten as a bad memory.
It was the reason why the island had such a feared reputation, aside from the fact that Azkaban had been the first nesting ground for the Dementors, which the forgotten Dark Lord had supposedly created to use as his servants.
Dawlish was snapped out of his reverie as he heard a great rumbling sound a little ways in front of him.
A great round boulder, which had been sitting innocuously to one side of the ramparts, suddenly started to shift, and after several seconds, one of the new golems of Azkaban was standing in front him.
A loud klaxon had also started to echo through the cold morning air. Recognizing it as the alarm that signaled the wards were under attack, Dawlish immediately turned around and started running towards the staircase, knowing that all Aurors were supposed to report to the briefing room in such a situation.
He arrived there a few minutes later, and saw that most of the others had already gathered. Robards, the Auror in charge, was getting ready to send off a report to the Ministry, which probably contained all the information they had received about the attacking forces.
"The Dark Lord is finally attacking, isn't he?" Dawlish asked the nearest person.
"Yeah, and he's got about three dozen Death Eaters with him. They're not the problem though." The man said nervously. "The real problem is those little monsters."
Dawlish looked towards the window that the man was pointing towards, and saw a sight that instantly struck fear into his heart.
Dementors, numbering well over a hundred, were swarmed in the sky, casting a noticeable gloom even in the bright morning.
"Oh Merlin. We don't have a chance, do we?" Dawlish muttered weakly. The other man was about to reply, but it was drowned out by Robards cursing loudly.
"Damn it! We're cut off from the Ministry." Robards said angrily before stomping towards the window, from which everyone could see the wards beginning to glow an alarming shade of red.
"Calm down boss. The Unspeakable said the golems should be able to defend against all the human enemies. All we need to do is keep the Dementors at bay." Williamson, his second in command, said calmly.
"Just keep the Dementors at bay? Can you even see how many of them there are?" Dawlish asked incredulously.
"I can see that very well Dawlish and I think a dozen Aurors can easily keep that few at bay." Williamson replied coolly. "Just so you know though, the Minister and her niece faced at least two dozen while fighting Death Eaters at the same time."
"And Harry Potter fought off all the ones that had been placed at Hogwarts singlehandedly, at thirteen no less. Think you can do half as well Dawlish?" Another Auror taunted. Dawlish's dislike of Harry was well known.
"Enough, people." Robards snapped, stopping Dawlish before he could retort.
"The golems should be able to hold their ground against the Death Eaters, but they can't do anything against Dementors, and I don't want them anywhere near the prison. Anyone who can cast a Corporeal Patronus, get up here and be ready to fire as soon as the wards fall. The rest of you, take positions where you have a clear field of vision and see if you can pick of any Death Eaters, but remember to keep an eye out for any Dementor getting too close. Now get going!" Robards instructed. Half the Aurors, including Dawlish, snapped a salute and rushed off to take their stations, while the rest got ready for what was sure to be a very tiring experience.
Minutes later, the wards came crashing down, causing a loud ruckus as they fell.
"Expecto Patronum!" Several voices yelled in tandem, and silvery animals shot off to intercept the Dementors, who had started surging forward as soon as they could.
Meanwhile at the gates, Voldemort was watching in amusement as the tiny group of Aurors fired the Patronuses at his pet Dementors.
"They really are fools if they think they stand a chance today." Voldemort said aloud, smirking in amusement. "Tear down the gates, we shall enter immediately."
"Yes my lord." One of the men around him said, bowing low. Immediately, five of the Death Eaters gathered in a line at the front of the doors and started to fire Bombardment Curses at the large and imposing black gates.
A cheer went up as the gates came crashing down with a bang. That same cheer was silenced seconds later, when Voldemort and his cronies laid eyes on the forces gathered inside the walls of the prison.
The new guardians of Azkaban stood ranged in front of the entrance to the prison, every single one of the approximately two dozen golems taller than eight feet. They looked like huge, humanoid mounds of rocks, and could have easily been mistaken for trolls, had they been a little taller and smellier. Runic clusters illuminated their bodies, glowing as they absorbed the ambient magic to power the behemoths.
Voldemort looked at the golems with undisguised curiosity on his face.
When he had planned to attack Azkaban and break out his incarcerated followers so as to bolster his forces again, he had expected to only have to take effort to convince the Dementors to side with him, after which he would simply walk into the prison and free his men.
Instead, he had found the Dementors approaching him long before that, as the Ministry was apparently planning to dispose of them. After that, he had expected Azkaban to be manned by the Aurors, who he was pretty sure wouldn't be able to take his forces on if he was there to provide support.
Only now, he was finding that instead of Aurors, the Ministry had placed the security of the prison in the hands of beings even he had no knowledge of. He did remember Rookwood saying something about the Department of Mysteries creating something called golems, but he had had no detailed information on them.
These golems looked strong too, and he wondered if they would defect to his side, like the Dementors had, if he ordered them too.
Walking past his minions as they cleared a way for him, pulling the rubble away, Voldemort cleared his throat. He enhanced his voice magically as he stepped into the courtyard, his followers piling in behind him.
Before he could say anything though, one of the golems stepped forward from the ranks and raised a stony hand in a gesture that clearly said 'stop'.
"Intruder, you are trespassing on the property of the Ministry of Magic. You are ordered to turn around immediately and return the way you came. If you defy these orders, you will be apprehended and brought to justice." It said in a gravelly voice.
Up in the ramparts, the Aurors watched on in awe as the golem spoke to the most feared Dark Lord in recent history as if he were a petty criminal.
Voldemort, meanwhile, was absolutely stunned. No one, not even Dumbledore, had been so callous when facing him. The nerve of this pile of rocks, speaking to him as if he were a commoner. He would have to make an example out of this one before he let the rest join him. Although, there was a chance that it hadn't recognized him yet.
"How dare speak to me like that. I am Lord Voldemort!" He shouted back at the golem, clearly enraged. The golem seemed to apparently not care, however.
"Intruder, you are trespassing on the property of the Ministry of Magic. You are ordered to turn around immediately and return the way you came. If you defy these orders, you will be apprehended and brought to justice. This is your second warning." The golem repeated in a stony voice.
Voldemort was again stunned. Even though this thing now knew who he was, it had still dismissed him casually.
"I am Lord Voldemort! I demand that you kneel before me. I might even consider sparing your life if you grovel enough." Voldemort spat.
"Intruder, you are trespassing on the property of the Ministry of Magic. You are ordered to turn around immediately and return the way you came. If you defy these orders, you will be apprehended and brought to justice. This is your final warning." The golem said stoically. Apparently, it was still not going to bow to Voldemort's demands.
Voldemort was beyond furious. This pathetic lump of rock had the audacity to order him around? Well he would show it how powerful the strongest wizard alive was. Making up his mind, he raised his wand to cast his favorite curse.
"Avada Kedavra!" Voldemort shouted, and a bright green light shot out of his wand and flew towards the lead golem.
Only to have almost no effect whatsoever as it harmlessly splashed against the golem's wide chest. All that happened was the golem seemed to be forced back slightly.
The runes etched on its body glowed brighter, before flashing red.
"Intruder declared as threat. Apprehend and detain." The golem announced. Suddenly, the entire line of them started moving, the ground shaking ever so slightly from their heavy steps.
Voldemort was stunned. The golem had somehow taken his Killing Curse head on and suffered no damage. Even Harry Potter had had a scar as a marker.
He finally snapped back to himself when a yellow curse impacted the ground a few feet in front of him, showering him with bits of earth as it gouged a small hole in the floor. Looking up, he saw a few Aurors standing safely away from him on the ramparts, and several more curses heading in his direction.
With a flick of his wand, he raised a massive shield, which held easily as he curses splashed against it. Dismissing the Aurors, which were too far away to be properly effective, he turned his attention back to the golems, which were clearly the bigger threat here.
"Avada Kedavra!" Voldemort shouted, again trying to see if the curse would have any effect the second time.
Unfortunately, his spell still had almost no effect whatsoever, and neither did the barrage of spells his Death Eaters were flinging at the golems.
Someone had even had the bright idea to try the Imperius Curse, which failed spectacularly, giving the caster a massive head ache in the process.
Seeing that they were utterly failing at their objective in the face of the fearsome golems who seemed to be completely invulnerable, one of the more cowardly Death Eaters tried to Apparate out only to find himself slamming hard into the Anti Apparition and Anti Portkey wards the Aurors had enabled the moment the first spell was fired.
Realizing retreat wasn't an option, most of the Death Eaters hesitantly turned back to attack the golems, while a few of them tried their best to bring down the wards.
It had only been thirty seconds since the golems began to actively move against the Death Eaters, and despite their low speed, they had almost reached the ranks of Death Eaters.
They did have a slight breakthrough though, when one of the Bombardment Curse cast went astray and hit the ground in front of a golem. The subsequent pit formed and the amount of earth flung up in the air gave the golem some pause, as it stumbled back slightly.
Taking the cue from him, others started to cast curses at the ground in front of the advancing golems. Even so, it only served to slow down the advancing golems, and soon enough, they were upon the Death Eaters.
The Death Eater closest to the golems found himself quite suddenly grabbed by one of them. Before he could react or even think of a way to free himself, he found himself flung towards the ranks of the Death Eaters, bowling over two others who hadn't had the sense to dodge. Not to mention the seven different bones fractured from the fall and the golems grip. He wouldn't die from that, but he was definitely not getting back up any time soon.
Another Death Eater found himself as the target of a punch, but barely managed to dive out of the way. The golem still clipped his leg, though, and the Death Eater wouldn't walk right for the rest of his short life. Prone as he was, the next punch hit him square in the chest, crushing him to the ground.
Voldemort was getting increasingly desperate as the golems advanced towards him. No matter what he tried, he just couldn't do any permanent damage to the golems, and neither could his minions, who were falling every minute the skirmish dragged on.
He had tried all his darkest spells and curses against the golems, but the best they did was scar their bodies, and that was only due to the curses which were purely physical in nature, like the one which created and banished a hundred silver daggers at his target.
Absolutely nothing seemed to be working properly. Even Fiendfyre had only lightly scorched their surface, and the cursed fire was supposed be hot enough to melt metal on contact.
Then his problems got worse.
Amelia Bones dropped into a crouch as soon as the portkey that was supposed to take her and her 'protection detail' to Azkaban Island landed. She immediately spotted the cluster of black robed figures a little ways in front of her as the invading Death Eaters, as well as the Dementors, which were trying to breach the prison, but were being held off by the garrisoned Aurors.
So far, the invaders seemed not to have noticed her and the others portkeying in, and Amelia could only assume from the panicked shouting that the golems were being devastatingly efficient, and the assumption was only reaffirmed as she saw one Death Eater flung against the wall, where he fell to the ground and lay unmoving.
A quick glance around showed her that several other squads had also landed, including the one led by Scrimgeour and the other senior Aurors. She immediately signaled to him to launch the counter attack, since the anti apparition and anti portkey wards, which had been the only reason the Death Eaters were still here, were perilously close to falling.
Scrimgeour nodded back, and the message was spread to the other squads. Not one to wait, Amelia fired her first spell, a highly over powered Reductor, at the clustered Death Eaters. Her aim across such a small distance was impeccable, and the first Death Eater had fallen.
That alerted them to the presence of the Ministry forces though, and the next few spells were intercepted by shields, but Mad-Eye and Sirius, the ones with the best reflexes, slipped their own curses past before that.
The battle then began in earnest, and the Aurors were forced to raise solid barriers as Killing Curses flew at them. Large, thick walls of marble arose from the earth, shattered the next moment as the green jets of light impacted them.
The Aurors returned fire immediately though, and several Death Eaters fell to a massive blue fireball that erupted among their ranks courtesy Mad-Eye.
At the same time, three squads of Aurors and two squads of Unspeakables, with six people per squad, landed on the battlements of the prison. The very next moment, thirty Patronuses joined the fading ones in the air above them. The Dementors fled from the blazing Patronuses, and the chill that had settled over the battlefield lifted.
Amelia found herself being thankful for her protection detail more than once, as most of the opposition seemed to be focusing on her. They were doing an excellent job of guarding her flanks, and she could focus on going purely on the offensive, as several Death Eaters fell to her wand.
Sirius transfigured a bunch of flying spears into flowers, while Moody shot a Freezing spell along the huge jet of water Tonks was spewing at a couple of them, freezing the whole lot of them solid.
In less than ten minutes, more than half the Death Eaters were put down, and over a dozen others were taken out by the golems.
Amelia finally caught sight of Voldemort, who was standing in a circle of the last few remaining Death Eaters, and was apparently focused on tearing down the Anti-Apparition and Anti-Portkey wards. She was thankful for that, if he had taken the offensive against her people, there would have been at least a few more casualties.
Finally, Voldemort was successful in bringing down the wards, and the very next moment, his seven remaining Death Eaters activated their emergency portkeys, vanishing from the battlefield.
All that was left was Voldemort, who was snarling at Amelia and her companions, though he made no move to attack.
"You may have won this once, but the next time, I shall be prepared. The Wizarding World will suffer my wrath." Voldemort snarled, before he too Apparated away, just as a golem reached out to close its fist around him.
Amelia let out a breath she had been holding since Voldemort had turned to face her.
"Well that went well." Sirius said, wiping his forehead clear of the sweat and grime, and Amelia could not help but agree.
A conclusive win against Voldemort's forces was nothing to sneeze at, and this was definitely a victory, Amelia thought as she looked around at the Death Eaters lying around her on the ground.
A/N: Chapter 17 comes to an end.
So, we finally see the golems of Azkaban in action, as well as Voldemort being beaten once again.
Hope you liked the battle scene, and the one with Voldemort arguing against the golem.
Next chapter will be the aftermath of this chapter, which is admittedly not very major, and another Horcrux getting destroyed.
And just in case anyone is wondering, there is a reason why Voldemort seemed weaker, going from facing Dumbledore and several others singlehandedly, to not being able to take out even a single golem. The reason will be revealed later, along with the 'secret project' Harry and the gang were talking about.