"Are you going to the match tomorrow?" Katie asked. She was sitting down next to Harry at the Gryffindor table, along with many of their other friends. Neville sat to the other side of him and they were enjoying small talk, something Harry so often missed ever since stepping into his new role. Fleur sat at the Ravenclaw table this evening with Aimee, Daphne, and Tracy. It was a quiet night, thankfully one of many over the last few weeks.
"You better be there! It's the last game of the season!" Alicia quickly added. Fred and George nodded their heads as well as many of the other students who listened in on the conversation. Harry hadn't yet been to a single Quidditch match this year, something he regretted. He loved to fly and play the game, but now that he was expected to put his talents elsewhere, he didn't have much wish to be around the game he sorely missed.
Harry chuckled as many others began to demand his presence at the Gryffindor-Slytherin match that was taking place tomorrow. He had no excuse to refuse them as things had been rather quiet these last few weeks. Spring was beginning to move into Scotland and the snows had all gone. Warmer weather was once more upon them, something Harry was grateful for.
Voldemort had yet to show himself after the ministry battle and it was becoming very worrying for Harry. Something was happening, that much he could feel, but what was concerning was that Voldemort had to be swelling his ranks somehow. There was no other reason for Voldemort to not be attacking. He now must be waiting for the perfect opportunity to attack, but when would that opportunity ever come? Harry knew his position well, knew that he most likely he had more soldiers at his command. Riddle had to have something up his sleeve, otherwise, knowing Tom, he would have struck out quickly after the ministry in order to preserve his ever so fearsome reputation.
The people of England no longer have the same fear of the man as they once did. Harry showed them that the Dark Lord could be beaten, that the Light could prevail. Even though the forces of the Light were stronger than they had been in many years, Harry knew well that if one wrong fight was taken, they could lose everything it had gained in the last year. One mistake by him could be deadly to millions and the pressure Harry felt was almost unbearable. If it weren't for Fleur, or these times like now in the Great Hall, he would have long ago succumbed to the weight of the world.
"I'll be there." Harry said to the sound of cheers.
Sirius looked down at Harry from his place at the staff table. He sat with Emmy who was now very pregnant and was any day now expecting their first child. Neither wanted to know the sex of the baby until it was birthed and so Fleur had already gone out and bought many items for both genders. Harry thought she was more excited about this baby than even Sirius and Emmy, since she was named the godmother and Harry the godfather.
Sirius, though he didn't understand the pressures his godson was facing, he understood that it was taking a toll on him. He looked older, older than he should be for a boy of his age, if he really was a boy any more. That sword that gleamed ever on his hip had changed Harry dramatically, to the point he looked just like his best friend. They were so similar looking now that at times Sirius had to stop himself from calling him James.
If Lily and James were alive this day, they both would be so proud, and so scared and worried for Harry's future. At the same time, they would probably curse Sirius to hell and back for how things occurred in Harry's life. The smile on Sirius' face turned to one of happiness as he watched Harry laugh at a joke from one of the Weasley twins. It was always good to see his godson smile, something he hadn't been doing much lately.
He knew his godson was becoming increasingly worried about the state of the war. No matter how many people reassured him that Voldemort wasn't doing anything because he was in no place to attack anywhere, Harry was still constantly bothered by the quiet. A young King with the worries of a nation upon his shoulders was a difficult thing to watch. If Sirius could take away those worries, he woulddo so in a heartbeat, but he wasn't the person that could.
His eyes drifted to Fleur who sat laughing with her blue-haired friend at the end of the Ravenclaw table. There wasn't any other young woman in the world he would ever deem worthy for Harry. She was completely perfect for him and both thought the world of each other. He knew both had begun to talk marriage, and the way the castle ghosts and goblins acted around Fleur now, it was as if they already saw her as a Queen.
Everywhere she went these days while within the castle, ghosts, paintings, and goblins would bow to her. Even Firenze would bow to her when he roamed the castle grounds with his pack. It truly was a sight to watch, and she looked the part attention in stride. She always found time for everyone that approached her, speaking in her musical, soft voice. Her allure was constantly tamed back when around the males, but something was different about it now. It wasn't as strong as it was before, like her very nature recognized she no longer really needed it.
If ever there was a couple he could bow to, it would be those two. Many of those in England felt the same way, that the time of the ministry was coming to a close and that stronger leadership was needed when moving forward. Many saw Excalibur as Harry's rightful place to take the throne of England, some even believed that he had the right to rule over all magical-kind. Others only saw the sword as just that, a sword, and Harry as a boy who had no place at the table of politics. It would be a debate for another time and Sirius knew that if Harry could have his way, it would be to relax quietly after the war with Fleur. Harry was now used to not having his way however and understood that if asked to become King, it would be his duty to respond to the call.
Sirius watched as Harry's face briefly contorted into one of pain. He quickly clutched at his chest where Sirius knew was his tattoo that was connected to the other Ghosts. Immediately Sirius grew worried when Harry abruptly stood up and looked to Fleur with a reassuring smile. She saw his pain as well and looked ready to bolt over to him and wrap her arms around him, but she kept her composure and simply blew him a kiss.
Harry's eyes then turned to Sirius and he winked just before Fawkes appeared and flashed away with Harry in a ball of bright orange flame. The entire hall fell into a hushed silence, the only thing moving was Cedric who quietly slipped out of one of the side doors.
"Begin the assault!" The Shadow King muttered, his voice hoarse and cold. It carried with power across the night sky, as if it were a cold wind. The battle lines had been drawn, a thousand and a half men and goblins and beasts charged at once. Their target was a seemingly innocent cottage that sat in a small lush green valley. Voldemort stood beside the Shadow King, his black cloak whipping around his pale frame. The both of them sat upon a hill to overlook the battle, their figures illuminated by the moon which shown through the clouds.
Dumbledore led the charge and he was easy to spot at the front of the army. His cloak was bright silver that gleamed under the night sky, and he held his wand out before him, already a jet of blue streaming from its gnarled tip. All around the silver wizard others charged, the werewolves beginning to overtake their leader. A lone dementor floated along, without care for the others, his own pace bringing a different level of fear and strength to the battle.
The lone cottage began to illuminate with lights and soon several jets of red, blue, and green shot across the valley and towards the charging army. The spells hit a few unfortunate souls, sending them flying back without limbs or life. The Shadow King merely smiled, taking in a deep breath as he watched once more a world wage war upon itself. He was home at last, in the chaos of life.
The few French Aurors who were left to defend this once thought hidden outpost had little chance. The opposing numbers were far too great and it didn't take long for the quick werewolves to be at the door and bursting it down. Inside was their target, a small fireplace which acted as the emergency ministry floo network.
Quickly tearing apart the few aurors that guarded the fireplace, the werewolves took hold of the cottage and waited for the other part of the army. Dumbledore was the first through the door and quickly took charge of the werewolves, some who were still feeding on their fresh kills. He flicked his wand and the fireplace roared to life, sickly green flames spewing from it.
"Through the fire!" Dumbledore commanded, and at once, the werewolves dove into the flames, disappearing from view. Dumbledore soon did the same, ordering the corrupted goblins to follow him with the rest of the Death Eaters coming in last, commanded by Voldemort. All of them could easily sprint through the network as if it were a portal. It was built in such a way for the minister to escape quickly, but that idea had now backfired.
Dumbledore stepped out of the fireplace and into the chaos that now surrounded him. The floo they had taken opened into a small room where two aurors, their white robes stained with blood, lied on the floor as the last of their life left them. Albus took no time to look at them, simply stepping over their bodies and opened up another door on the far side of the room. He walked into a large office he knew to be the aurors main office. Papers were flying everywhere, chairs were toppled over, desks overturned.
The first thing he heard were the screams of innocents as they ran wildly around, being chased by the bloodthirsty werewolves who took their prey at will. Pandemonium had erupted within the halls of the French Ministry, and soon, silence would follow as they killed every living soul. A cruel smiled formed on his thin lips.
Dumbledore had his mission, so he left the werewolves to do as they wished, and walked out of the offices they wreaked havoc in. He found himself in a narrow hallway, and with a swish of his wand, he sent an auror who bravely tried to stop him, flying across the hall and hitting the far wall with a heavy crunch.
As he continued down the hall in search of his prize, the door behind him burst open and Voldemort stormed out with a band of Death Eaters behind him. Riddle glanced at Dumbledore before continuing the opposite way towards where the battle raged most fierce. Another small group of aurors had rushed out from other doors in a desperate attempt to stop the initial forces before the entire army of Voldemort could rush through the single portal.
Dumbledore left them to their battle and turned the corner, finding himself face to face with a set of splendid wooden doors. They were very well crafted and had been recently polished. He flicked his wand and turned the doors to ash and continued through the hole and into the office. He peered around with his hollow eyes and found nothing, which only enraged him.
He began to lash out with his wand, turning it into a flame whip which he cut across the room, destroying everything in its path. Papers, books, and furniture were sent flying everywhere. His whip then connected with a bookshelf that rested behind a large mahogany desk, and instead of the shelf being destroyed like the others, his flame whip simply bounced off of it.
He approached the bookshelf curiously and found on the corners, two small runes that barely glowed. A smile spread across Dumbledore's grim features, and it looked very much unlike him, and more like Riddle. He raised his wand and put his full power into his next spell. A red ball of energy jetted from his wand and slammed into the bookshelf, causing it to explode. It hit with so much power that it shook the entire building itself.
When the dust and debris cleared, Dumbledore could see, huddled in the corner of a small room were two men and a woman, cowering. All three had their wands out, but were still shell-shocked from the blast. One was able to quickly get over his shock, an older man in pure white robes like the aurors, but he also had gold lettering and a badge upon his left breast. The man tried to curse Dumbledore, but the spell was far too slow and the man looked beat up from the blast, blood pouring from his nose and ears.
Albus easily blocked the curse and answered with a quick flash of green, dropping the auror where he stood. The body fell lifeless to the floor and the woman next to him screamed. A second flash of green silenced her and Dumbledore turned to the last victim, the one he was really after.
"Please!" The man shouted. He looked worse off than the other two had. He was drenched in blood, a cut on his abdomen and left arm the culprits. He was also older than the others and had on much more fine clothing. "I have children." He pleaded.
His words were met with nothing more than a cold smile. Dumbledore flicked his wand once more, and a third flash of green lit up the small room. He then turned and left to rejoin his master in the slaughter of the ministry.
Harry apparated directly into the main hall of the French Ministry. It was as wide as the Great Hall and made completely of white marble. The hall stretched on as far as the eye could see and on its walls were many fine paintings. The statues which once had sat lifeless upon pedestals, were roaming the hall in defense of the ministry.
Around him the Ghosts appeared, their bodies forming from black smoke. Their latest recruit had newly donned the black mask and was eager to participate in his first real battle. He looked around with some unease, his wand out and ready to fight as he was taught.
Screams echoed throughout the hall and people were running left and right, trying to find an escape. Just as he landed in the hall, Harry could feel the beginnings of anti-apparition wards being placed around the building. They had been lucky to respond as quick as they did, otherwise help wouldn't have reached these people in time.
Harry caught a flash of white from the crowd of scared citizens which began to gather around the Ghosts. They knew who they were, all of Europe did, and Excalibur which gleamed on Harry's back was an easy thing to spot. That and the fact Harry didn't bother to wear a mask anymore, the gold mask once worn by Specter he had passed over to Reaper.
"What's the situation?" Harry asked the white robed auror.
"The minister's and auror's offices were hit first. Voldemort and Dumbledore are there!" This brought many cries of fear from ministry workers. Banshee shot off a rocket which quickly silenced everyone.
"Did the minister get out?" Harry asked once it was quiet. The auror looked grim and shook his head in response. "Right, we need to set up a defensive line here. Have every able auror protect these people. My team and I will go in search of the minister. Reinforcements will come as soon as the wards keeping us from leaving are broken down. Demon, work on that as quickly as possible. I don't want to get stuck down here with an army charging us." Demon was already beginning to work on the wards before Harry had even said anything.
Harry motioned for Banshee and Angel to start moving forward. As if recognizing Harry's authority over the situation, the stone statues also began to form into the defensive line of the few aurors who yet remained alive. All of the ministries had gone to skeleton crews, diverting most of their forces to England. Very few aurors remained within the building, and the ones that did weren't the most experienced.
As Harry and the Ghosts began to break away from the gathered group which huddled in the middle of the hall next to the apparition point, at the far end Harry could see the beginnings of a spell fight appear. He watched as an auror was blasted off his feet and a stone statue was turned into dust. A large swarm of black cloaked soldiers appeared around the corner and immediately began to launch spells at them.
Banshee and Angel who had ran ahead were the first to engage the line of Death Eaters which began to slowly move down the hall like a wave of black. Harry ran up to meet them with the other Ghosts in tow, all hurling spell after spell. He quickly blasted a whole into their lines and didn't stop his sprint. Instead he sheathed his yew wand while at the same time sending Godric forth.
The great lion leapt high into the air and pounced down upon several Death Eaters at once, a spray of blood flying into the air as his giant claws ripped through human flesh. Harry pulled Excalibur from his back and smashed into the line of Death Eaters, taking them by surprise for getting in so close. Wizards often times weren't used to fighting someone so close to them.
He hacked and slashed, covering himself in blood as limb and head flew in every direction. He swung with quick, practiced precision, his lessons from Olaf paying off greatly. "Potter!" Harry heard the familiar voice of Voldemort hiss angrily. Harry had charged completely through the entire formation of the Death Eaters and had come out the other side to find himself facing Riddle. The Ghosts continued to fight the Death Eaters and Godric tore his way across the lines, biting down on any unsuspecting foe. The Death Eaters didn't bother turning around to curse him in the back which meant they already knew this was going to happen and were given orders not to do so.
"Riddle." Harry answered, sheathing a bloody Excalibur and once again pulling out his yew wand. "Getting a bit desperate to be attacking this place?" Even with being separated from the Ghosts, he knew he could defeat Riddle in a straight up duel.
It wasn't the laugh that followed but the way in which Riddle smiled that raised the hair on the back of Harry's neck. It was one of victory, as if he had a card up his sleeve and Harry had walked right into his trap. Immediately Harry looked around, but only saw his soldiers continuing to fight, and slowly winning that fight.
"Your time has finally come Potter." Riddle responded, a cold sneer on his face.
Harry kept his cool however, not wishing to show the sudden panic that began to build in the pit of his stomach. He continued to look around for hidden dangers, but still found nothing. "And why is that Riddle? I've beaten you plenty of times, the world knows you are no match for me."
"That will change!" Riddle snapped, anger building in his voice. He raised his wand and Harry noticed his hand was fixed and no longer gold. Riddle sent a black ball of light towards him. Harry jumped to the side with ease and responded with his own string of spells. Riddle blocked or dodged them all, sending what spells he could back at Harry. Voldemort was quickly finding the same problems of Dumbledore, that even with the Elder Wand and the Philosopher's Stone in his possession, something wasn't quite right. The wand had accepted him, he knew that. It felt right, like he was pouring water from his fingertips when he used the wand. But whenever he tried to use the wand against Potter, it felt like the wand was slightly fighting him, that it didn't wish to harm the boy-king. It was also another problem that Potter was extremely talented and powerful, more so than even himself now.
As such, he quickly found himself on the back foot, only able to get a few attacks off compared to Harry's many. He quickly knew he couldn't keep this defensive game up for long so Riddle reached into his mind and summoned his new pet. It only took a few seconds for Dumbledore to run around the corner, his wand already blazing with ferocity.
Harry was taken aback by the sudden appearance of Dumbledore, no less a Dumbledore who looked nothing like the aged Headmaster he once knew. This old man was devoid of all life, Harry could easily see it in the man's now red eyes. His hair was no longer silver as it once had been, instead it was jet black with silver and red streaks. The wand he once used was gone as well, and the new wands color was as black as his hair.
The two older wizards pressed the attack against Harry, but he was able to handle them. Using both wands, one to press a constant attack while the other defended, he was able to hold both wizards off and get in a few shots of his own. Harry didn't notice that the corrupted goblins along with a few werewolves had entered the battlefield and were streaming passed the Ghosts who were still struggling to deal with the Death Eaters who ran into the hall in seemingly endless waves.
His entire focus was on the two wizards in front of him, none uttering a single word as they all looked to kill. No killing curses were used, this being far beyond such a common and easy to block spell. Every spell used was deadly in their own right as a game of chess began to develop. Harry began to recognize patterns in the two wizards and crutch spells they relied on.
He began to dance around, using his shields less and less in order to conserve his energy. He bided his time, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike since both wizards were doing well in covering each other's tracks. It was as if both wizards could talk to one another telepathically with how well they coordinated.
Harry didn't notice that the Ghosts had been forced back, retreating towards the civilians and other aurors who stood their ground by the apparition point. The statues charged the battlefield, slamming into the lines of Death Eaters who gave chase in order to give the Ghosts time to make it back to the defensive line. Godric had also been forced to retreat, being hit by a dozen spells, and since he couldn't return to Harry's wand, he had to preserve his own life.
He could see that the two older wizards were beginning to tire as the battle continued on. Duels usually lasted only a minute but this was closing in on five and even Harry was showing signs of fatigue. That was when the moment opened for Harry. Riddle let his guard down in order to preserve energy and so Harry aimed his wand carefully and let loose with a cutting curse, aimed directly for Riddle's head.
The snake-like man's eyes went wide, knowing that death was awaiting him from that red flash. He had no time to dodge the spell and simply accepted it. The spell never hit however as a silver shield formed in front of Voldemort.
Harry's eyes widened at the sight of the spell and he briefly dropped his own guard. This gave Dumbledore time to connect with a piercing hex which hit Harry in the shoulder, sending him spinning onto the floor. He jumped back up to his feet just in time as a bone-breaker hex smashed into the ground where he once was.
A dark-robed man entered into the fight, his hood low over his head to hide his face in shadow. He walked with a staff that pulsated violently with blue light. The staff looked oddly familiar but Harry quickly cast the thought aside as Riddle attacked him once more.
The appearance of this new contender seemed to invigorate Voldemort and Dumbledore and they attacked with reckless abandon, forcing Harry onto the complete defensive. The man with the staff didn't attack himself, only watched, and on rare occasion, put up a shield to save one of his allies.
Harry could feel himself losing the fight, fatigue beginning to take him, and the loss of blood from the open wound in his shoulder wasn't helping. He continued to fight as best he could, but now that he couldn't press any kind of attack, he knew he was in a dire situation. Sweat began to pour down his face as fatigue turned into exhaustion and each expenditure of magic was draining him more and more.
A blue pulse of magic from the shadow wizards staff fled from its tip and wrapped Dumbledore and Voldemort in a pale silver light. Both wizards looked immediately relieved of their own exhaustion and the spells they sent at Harry hit like cannons against his weakened shields. His arms felt like they were ready to wither and die due to how tired he was getting and it was a struggle not only to cast magic, but to simply move.
He couldn't keep this up for much longer and so he began to look for a way out. Whenever possible, he glanced around him to get the lay of the battlefield. Bodies were all around the area, mostly those with the white masks and black garb of Death Eaters and one with a golden mask and dark robes. Harry shoved that sight way deep into the back of his mind and refocused on his fight.
Anyone that could potentially help him was a hundred meters away and still fighting their own battle as a wave of Death Eaters descended upon the final defensive line. He had no one to save him this time and so he had to look for his own escape.
His vision began to blur as he was nearing magical exhaustion, each spell from Dumbledore and Riddle hitting his shield like hammers chipping away at an already broken wall. The shadowed man seemed to recognize Harry's weakness and slammed the bottom of his staff into the floor. A ripple ran through the ground as if an earthquake. Harry was too tired to jump over it and so lost his footing and fell to the ground.
He barely got up his shield in time as a blasting hex hit it, sending a shower of red sparks all around him. A green flash hurled at him and Harry was barely able to roll to the side before it hit the ground, leaving a scorch mark. As he rolled, another piercing hex hit him in the shin, creating a two inch hole in his leg.
Harry cried out in pain and his vision began to blur even more, to the point where he could barely even make out his enemies. A flash of red filled his vision and Harry felt more pain in his right thigh as his femur shattered from a bone-breaking hex.
The familiar flash of pale green once more lit up his vision. It was all he could see, the jet of green light streaming from the shadowed man's staff. Time slowed for a moment as Harry lay there, waiting for his death. It was a familiar feeling to see that spell come for him. Only two years ago he had seen that spell, expecting death to follow. He had been lucky then, waking up in a hospital with his godfather looking over him. This time, he wasn't so sure. Part of him hoped that when he woke up this time he would see his mother, her promise to him fulfilled. He longed to see her, hear her voice once more. That dream, if it even was a dream, was so long ago and every night he wished to relive it. This green spell may be his chance, but the thought also came with anger and fear.
Bright blue eyes and silver hair flashed into Harry's mind. He longed to see his mother, but he longed to see Fleur even more. He wished to hold her one last time, wished that their last moment was more than just a sad smile shared across the hall. The faces of his people, the ones he vowed to protect entered into his mind. He felt like he was giving up on them, that he failed them and the world he worked so hard to build these last years was all for naught. A single spell ended his dreams.
The green light flew ever closer and Harry closed his eyes, awaiting his death, something that had escaped him for so long. Harry felt a brief flash of pain in his head, then nothing as he succumbed to exhaustion and unconsciousness.
"Get him out of here!" Gellert commanded to his soldiers as he charged into the fight, his stone shield shattering from the strength of the killing curse. A piece of the stone smashed Harry in the head and knocked him out cold. Sir Mol, Sir Galdrey, and Olaf charged at Voldemort, Dumbledore, and the Shadow King, their greatswords raised high over their heads ready to swing down upon their foes with ferocity. Ragnok appeared with a host of his kindred, and they quickly surrounded Harry who lay unconscious, blood pooling beneath him from his various wounds.
The Ghosts charged with Grindelwald, their wands working as quickly as possible in order to aide in the attack against the three dark wizards. Their newest recruit had half his mask blown off, revealing much of his face. Cedric hurled spells as quickly as he could, an anger built up in him as he watched Harry be carried a few meters away by several goblins. His anger was fueled even more when he saw the golden mask of his teacher lying bloodied on the ground. He quickly picked it up and placed it in his pocket.
Once the goblins had grabbed hold of Harry's body, Fawkes flashed into the fight and grabbed hold of Harry's wrist. The two disappeared in a bright ball of fire. The goblins then charged what enemies they could. The Death Eaters and corrupted goblins were all that remained of Voldemort's forces, the werewolves and lone dementor had been slain. The Death Eaters were forced backwards to take cover behind the three dark wizards who held their ground.
The Shadow King moved his staff with lightning speed and its tip trailed with blue smoke. Jets of all colors streamed from the staff, each spell sending two or three people flying backwards, killing them instantly. The spells from his staff were far more powerful than any other in the fight and no one could stand up to his power and skill. Any spell that got close to him simply withered and died and with every passing second, more and more bodies fell at the King's feet. He was a whirlwind of black death as goblins were sent flying and aurors who chanced an attack were hit by Voldemort or Dumbledore.
The three dark wizards were proving too tough of an opponent without Potter and so the remaining forces of the light were forced to quickly flee. The anti-apparition wards were broken and so they were easily able to apparate away. Gellert was the last to leave, no one seeing the small bow to the Shadow King. Not even Voldemort saw the small gesture, he being too angered with Potter once more escaping his grasp.