Chapter 13: Hogwarts Under Siege
"Harry!" cried Lily when he burst into the Hospital Wing, Effie close on his heels. "You're okay— What happened to you?"
She was no longer in her bed, but instead was sitting beside James who still looked much the worse for wear. A lot of the damage done by the dark spells which had hit him had been reversed, but he was still very weak, and spent most of his time asleep. Sirius had been in bed too, last time Harry had checked, but now he was gone. With Voldemort attacking, probably nothing short of Merlin himself could have stopped him from running off to help.
"We found one," Harry explained once he was close enough to be able to speak quietly. "Iana destroyed it, but it didn't want to go easy."
"Come here and let me take a look at you," Lily said, beckoning him closer still. She held him still by his shoulders, and seemed to take in everything. "Fiendfyre is a very dangerous spell. How did you manage to extinguish it?" she asked.
Had he not known just how knowledgeable his mother could be, he might have been surprised that she was able to recognise the spell just by looking at him. This was the woman who'd been able to tell which specific Smartie was a transfigured Bertie Botts Every Flavour Bean without even seeming to try, though.
"Big explosion snuffed it out," he said, trying to downplay the fact that he'd probably been a couple of seconds away from being burned to a crisp. "What's happening? Snape said you wanted to see me."
She frowned for a moment, but it disappeared almost as quickly. "Voldemort has taken control of the Ministry," she said. "But it's still tenuous. Minister Mulciber was able to take the position because of Bones' death, and his history as a friend of Lucius Malfoy, but most of them still don't think Voldemort is back."
"Does that help us?"
"It means Voldemort controls the Ministry, but he only has his main supporters outside," she said. "With the Order in here, we actually have a chance of holding out."
Another booming sound rocked the castle, and this time there was something more to it, like a heavy weight was suddenly lifted from his shoulders.
"He's broken through," he said immediately, though he really needn't have. Lily had already leapt to her feet and sprinted over to one of the windows. Harry wasted no time in following.
There wasn't much to see out of the window. There was a gaggle of figures clustered just beyond the lower gate, all but one wearing the flowing black robes and bone white masks of the Death Eaters.
A few steps in front of them stood a taller figure, still all in black but with no need of a mask. At a distance it was impossible to make out his face, but there was no doubt in his mind that it was Voldemort. Despite the fact that the remnants of the shield charms erected by its defenders were drifting down all around like glowing embers, they stayed where they were. When Harry glanced up he realised it was not only embers which filled the sky, but hundreds of Dementors. He shivered.
Then Voldemort's voice filled his mind.
"You have lost," it said with ironclad certainty. "Dumbledore is dead. The Ministry is mine. Continuing to resist is fruitless, and will lead only to unnecessary loss of wizard life."
"You have been misled. By Dumbledore. By Lucius Malfoy. I am no monster who would kill children. I would not train them for war as Lucius Malfoy did. I will not leave them floundering in the dark like Dumbledore. I am the saviour of our kind."
"And I am a merciful saviour. I present to you a choice, one which I trust will be simple. Surrender Iana Malfoy to me, and I will allow you all to return home in safety. If you do not, I will not be responsible for any damage caused to Hogwarts, or injuries caused to the children in your charge."
"You have until sunset to see reason. After that, I suspect the Ministry will have no choice but to bring its full might against those who try to use children, the future of our people, as living shields against righteous retribution."
His voice departed suddenly, leaving a vacuum of sound in its wake. Harry turned to look at his mother, but it was James, apparently awoken by Voldemort's speech, who spoke first.
"Fuck that," he grumbled. He shifted a bit and grimaced. "Bastard can have another go if he wants."
Harry looked at his mum. "Do you think everyone will want to fight?"
She shook her head. "They won't have much choice. I think everyone knows that even if Voldemort let us leave, it wouldn't be long before we had Aurors knocking down our doors."
The rumble of a distant explosion vibrated up through the floor. It hadn't come from outside. "Do you think everyone agrees?" Harry asked.
"The Slytherins won't like it," Effie pointed out. "Most of them have been itching to start a fight since Halloween."
As if she'd been heard, McGonagall's voice echoed through the corridors. "Every student is to return to their dormitories immediately," the voice said in familiar, clipped tones. "Any student found in the corridors will receive a month of detention."
Effie scoffed. "A month of detention? Really? Not much chance of them having to do those if Voldemort wins."
Another explosion, this one from the direction of the Great Hall only served to reinforce her statement. Lily grimaced. "I should go and help quieten things down," she said. Before heading to the door she stopped in front of Harry and Effie, laying a gentle hand on their cheeks. "Look out for each other," she said, then rushed out.
"So, what's the plan?" James asked as he pushed himself upright. His eyes settled on Harry. "Hey, you look almost as bad as me. You okay?"
"Just a bit of Fiendfyre," said Harry with a shrug. "And I have no fucking clue. We didn't really work out what the bloody prophecies were meant to mean."
"Your mum mentioned that," said James. As he spoke he swung his remaining leg over the side of the bed and reached for his wand which was sitting on the little bedside table. "If only we'd known about the other one, maybe we could have done more."
"Maybe," said Harry, not really believing it. "I guess I just have to trust sheer blind luck, and go face him, then?"
That his voice didn't falter as he said those words was a minor miracle. He wanted nothing more than to cut and run but he knew his family wouldn't do the same. Even if they did, they'd probably never be truly safe.
"You don't have to do this," said James, meeting Harry's eye. "You're just a kid. My kid, and I still have one good arm left."
With a wave of his wand he conjured a wooden peg-leg, and jumped onto the floor with a clunk.
"I need to," said Harry. "Whatever happens, I couldn't live with it if you or Mum, or even Effie" — she bumped his shoulder, but there was the beginning of a smile on her face — "died because I was too scared. I'm meant to be a Gryffindor."
"Doesn't make you immune to fear," said James with a smile of understanding. "I don't mind telling you that I was cacking my pants when Voldemort attacked the house. Anyone in their right mind would. I still fought, though. And I'll fight today too. Just like you."
"And me," said Effie with grim determination.
"No, absolutely not!" said James, suddenly realising his mistake. "You're far too young."
"Is that going to matter when Dementors break in and kiss everyone the Death Eaters don't like?" she shot back. "You're not running. Mum's not running. Harry's not running. I'm not running. Get used to it."
Whatever reaction Harry was expecting from his father, a proud chuckle was not it. "I knew I raised some good ones," he said with a wink. Something caught his eye behind Harry in the direction of the Infirmary doors. "Alright, Effie. You stick with your old man. Try and keep me out of trouble, yeah? Harry, looks like you're keeping your lady waiting?"
Harry spun around to find Iana loitering in the doorway, looking torn. She clearly didn't want to be there, and yet when he met her eyes, there was a look of such loneliness and despair that it hit him almost like a physical thing.
"Stay safe, you two," he said to his dad and sister. He then trotted quickly over to Iana. As he got nearer she made a little gesture with her head, and slipped around the corner.
"What's wrong?" Harry asked as soon as he was sure the corridor was clear. It seemed everyone else was manning the defences or dealing with the rebellious Slytherins. "What did Snape say?"
"Nothing important," she lied, unable to meet his eyes. She glanced around again, before taking Harry's hand and dragging him into the abandoned transfiguration classroom.
"What's really going on, Iana?" Harry asked. He gripped her hand tightly, and she made no attempt to pull it free. "What's wrong? Whatever it is, I can help."
She whispered something that Harry couldn't catch as another explosion rattled the heavily laden shelves of the room.
"What?" he asked.
"Love," she repeated. "It was all about love."
"I still don't understand."
"My mother. She sacrificed herself to save me, she gave me a protection that Voldemort could never hope to defeat," she said, staring into his eyes.
"What do you mean?" She couldn't be—
All thought stopped when she threw herself at him, and captured his lips with hers. Time came to a standstill once again, and he lost himself in the desperate passion of the kiss. Something salty lingered on her lips, but that was soon lost against the smell, the taste of her. She was magnificent.
He wasn't just going to stand around and be kissed, though. He pushed her back until she was against the wall, and her slim, incredible body was writhing against him. Slim fingered hands trailed through his hair and down his neck to his chest, while his own drifted ever further south, past the tortuous curve of her waist and back. Quite when those hands found their way beneath her robes, he wasn't sure, but she moaned her approval into his mouth, unwilling to break their frantic connection.
Soon, both their robes were hitched high upon their chests, and he cupped the swell of breasts while she raked her fingers over the bare skin of his chest. Their legs suddenly weak, they slipped slowly to the floor, and they both broke apart long enough to gasp at the feel of cold stones against their skin.
They didn't break apart far, though. Bare millimetres lay between them as Harry stared deep into Iana's eyes, grey as a storm-tossed sea. A moment later, they came together again, unable to resist any longer. Cold though the stone might be, Harry rolled onto his back and pulled Iana on top so that she at least would not have to experience it. Even the brief contact with the cold flags had left goose bumps all across her arms and shoulders. His hands trailed over them, chasing away the momentary chill, and returning her skin to a smooth, silky softness that he never wanted to stop feeling.
Before he completely lost himself to the feel and scent of her, he broke the kiss. "Iana, are you sure about this?" he managed to ask, though it was punctuated by an involuntary groan as she ran her lips down his neck and kissed at his exposed chest, moving to tantalisingly close to—
She leapt back up to recapture his mouth with hers. She paused for a brief moment. "Shut up and fuck me," she very nearly growled.
Harry couldn't argue with that. He didn't want to argue with that. So he did exactly as she asked.
Harry awoke suddenly as the sound of shouting came from the corridor. It took a few seconds for him to work out where he was, and what had happened but one thing was instantly clear.
Iana was gone.
After they'd been so close, he felt the loss of her presence all the more profoundly. He could still feel the whisper of her smooth skin under his searching fingers, the swell and curve of her body against his own. He could still feel it, like the last reluctant moments of a vivid dream, evaporating into the growing light of morning.
But that's all it was, now.
He pushed himself upright, and quickly pulled his clothes and robes on. A quick flick of his wand erased any evidence of their presence. Benches and tables creaked back into place, and books and scrolls flew up from the floor where they'd been cast in the throes of their clumsy lovemaking, back onto the desks. He glanced up at the clock and realised with a start that it was getting late. It was nearly sunset.
He rushed out of the classroom, and ran the short distance to the Infirmary only to find it completely empty. He heard some kind of shout from outside the window and ran over to it to look out over the grounds.
A single figure was walking across the narrow bridge that separated Hogwarts from the gathering attackers. Before when Harry had looked out, there had only been Voldemort and a few dozen Death Eaters, now he could see the crimson robes of aurors, while Voldemort himself was nowhere to be seen.
The figure he recognised instantly. The shining blonde hair and the confident strut was all too familiar. As Iana crossed the final few steps, her stride faltered for a moment, and she glanced back.
Even so far away, Harry was sure they locked eyes then. It was ridiculous, really. If he was being honest with himself, the chances that she could see him, a single face in one of the uncountable windows in Hogwarts' walls, were almost nothing. And yet…
She turned back, eyes straight ahead, and her pace sped up. As soon as she stepped off the bridge and onto the rough gravel path that wound through Hogwarts' grounds, two figures in black popped up next to her, and pulled her off in the direction of an old dilapidated cottage that Sirius had once told Harry had belonged to the old groundskeeper before he'd been forced out by Lucius Malfoy and his cronies.
That snapped him out of the daze he'd been in, and he spun around and sprinted for the door. It was a good thing the corridors were so quiet, if anyone had been wandering along them, Harry probably would have flattened them in his frantic charge. He took two or three steps at a time as he descended the stairs, nearly tripping on more than one occasion, but he didn't care.
When he reached the Entrance Hall, he found it filled with two dozen witches and wizards, all standing around in an eerie silence. Unwilling to stop, he started pushing his way through them, and nearly made it to the door when he was stopped dead by a strong pair of hands.
"Hey, woah there Harry," said Sirius, holding on grimly through Harry's attempts to shake him off.
He looked nothing like he once had. Part of his face looked almost like it had melted, while the rest of it was covered in patches of burned skin. Despite that, he didn't let go.
"I need to stop her!" Harry shouted as he tried to yank his arm free, only for his other arm to be held back by someone else. He turned to find Effie holding on too, her face a mask of fierce determination. "Let go!" Harry bellowed.
Neither of them did, and his shouting only attracted more attention. Soon, they were joined by his mum and dad, and all the Professors. Lily wrapped him in a hug, and his struggles weakened.
"What's she doing?" he managed to ask when he managed to pull back. "She can't fight him alone!"
"She said it had to be this way," said Lily, and Harry could see that she'd been crying. "That there was no other way to save you."
"So you let her go?" Harry's voice rose once more, pain and hurt rippling through it. "How could you do that?"
"We didn't let her go," said James, his usually bright eyes dark with impotent anger. "She snuck out." He handed him a note on worn parchment. "She charmed this to come to us when she was far enough away."
The note was simple and to the point.
I have to go. For all your sakes, but most importantly, for Harry's. Thank you, Harry. For giving me what I needed.
I love you.
"She's doing this for you," said Effie, weakly enough that Harry could tell she knew that it would be scant comfort. "She's doing this for all of us."
She loved him? Harry scrunched the parchment up as he balled his fist. "She's just throwing her life away!" he shot back. "Voldemort isn't going to keep to his bargain. You all know that!"
"We would have stopped her," said Lily, wiping new tears from her cheeks, "but she knew that."
"You still could have stopped her," Harry spat. He waved his arm around to take in all the witches and wizards gathered in the Entrance Hall. "How many of you are there? You should have gone out and stopped her!"
"If we'd done that, we'd all have lost," said Sirius. He didn't sound happy about that fact. "The Dementors and Death Eaters were just itching for us to make a move."
Then, at the back of the crowd, Harry caught sight of Snape, looking on over the proceedings with an expression of sour satisfaction.
Harry extended his hand to point at him. "You. You did this!"
Every head turned to Snape, who quickly schooled his features into something less damning.
"You spoke to Iana before she did this," Harry snarled, pushing aside the witches and wizards who stood in his way. "What did you tell her?"
"I told her nothing," said Snape, his eyes flashing. "I merely gave her access to an item which once belonged to the Headmaster."
When Harry lunged forward to grab the repellent man, he stepped back, just out of reach. "What item?" Harry asked.
The other witches and wizards had formed a loose ring around them by now, and though Snape continued to retreat, there was no escape.
"The pensieve," said Snape, drawing a gasp from one or two in the crowd.
"So you showed her some of Dumbledore's memories," said Harry, realising some of what must have happened. "What was in them?"
"I don't know," Snape snapped back. "The Headmaster did not like sharing his secrets, in case that fact eluded you."
"You know something," said Harry, giving up on catching the slippery man. He wasn't sure what he'd do if he did anyway. "What aren't you saying?"
In that moment, Snape's eyes lingered on something behind Harry, but when Harry turned to look it was only his mother and father. When Harry turned back, Snape was looking directly at him.
"The Headmaster also asked that I give her his wand," he said eventually.
The rare expression of confusion on Snape's face was answer enough, but he was never able to back it up through words. Before he could say anything, one of the Wizards nearest the door shouted.
"It's Voldemort!" His voice rose in panic, then dropped suddenly into something barely more than a whisper, which would have been inaudible if it were not for the complete silence that followed his first shout. "Oh, Merlin, no."
It was followed by a horrified gasp from someone else in the crowd, and Harry pushed through a gap in the crowd to see what they were looking at.
Voldemort was walking across the Hogwarts lawn in the direction of the castle, backed by his Death Eaters. The Aurors and Law Enforcement Patrol Witches and Wizards parted to let them through. A few looked like they might try to intervene, but were quickly pulled away by their co-workers. The reason for their uncertainty was immediately obvious. Pitched over the shoulder of a huge man, like a sack of potatoes, was Iana. She hung limply, and her long hair blew about her in the wind.
The Death Eaters didn't stop when they reached the bridge. Instead, they marched across it behind their master. A chill started seeping into Harry's bones, and he glanced up to see that the Dementors were starting to cluster around too. With every step Voldemort took closer to the castle, the more the feeling of hopelessness the Dementors carried with them settled over the crowd.
Then Voldemort stopped, a few dozen feet from the great doors of Hogwarts.
"I told you it is over," he said. He spoke softly, but there was no denying the cruel glee that suffused his words. "Your saviour did not even try to fight. Give in, and some of you at least may live."
A murmur of words went up from the crowd, but none of them seemed about to take the offer.
"Or you may fight," said Voldemort almost like it was an afterthought. "But if you do that, then I fear the children may be in far too much danger. It is useless to try to resist me. Lucius Malfoy tried it. Dumbledore tried it. Amelia Bones tried it. The Girl-Who-Lived" — he spat the moniker — "tried it. All of them are dead now. The Malfoy girl even came to me wielding the wand of Albus Dumbledore." He twisted it in his fingers, seeming to revel in holding the most treasured possession of his most hated enemy. "It did her no good. Lord Voldemort cannot be bested."
Harry stepped forward, shrugging off his mother's attempt to hold him back. It was only a couple of steps, but it drew every single eye to him.
"Ahh, the Potter Boy," said Voldemort with what he probably thought was benevolence. "It is so unfortunate, what happened to your family."
"It's not over," said Harry, quietly. His fists curled tight around his wand, hard enough that his nails broke the skin. "It will never be over."
"You are misguided," said Voldemort with a rueful shake of his head, "but I suppose it is only to be expected. You were lied to. Kept in the dark for far too long, so that Dumbledore could protect his precious saviour.
"There was a Prophecy, you know?" Voldemort continued, addressing them all as his voice grew in volume. "Of one with the power to defeat me." He gestured to the brute who was carrying Iana, and he threw her to the floor.
The flat thump of her body, and the huff of air being pressed from her lungs as she hit the floor almost broke him, but Harry stood firm. He glared at the man who had killed her. She'd loved him. Or thought she did at least. She'd died for him, and part of Harry wanted to tear the man apart for what he'd done.
"A Prophecy foretelling the coming of the Girl Who Lived," Voldemort continued, seemingly unable to feel the blazing heat of Harry's glare. "Even Fate, it seems, is nothing to the power of Lord Voldemort."
Harry took another step forward; another step closer to Iana, and met Voldemort's red eyes as they snapped back to him in surprise. Then Harry recited:
"One with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches…
born to the flower of nobility, born of the fifth, one month from the seventh of Diana…
The Dark Lord will seek him as his equal, but he will mark the unnamed in his folly…
and when he grants her the sign that was lost, the Dark Lord will fall by his hand, her heart…
the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…"
When he lapsed into silence, it seemed like the entire world stilled. There was not a breath to be heard. No wind stirred the trees of the Forbidden Forest.
Then Voldemort broke the silence. "Folly?" he asked. His voice was low, and dangerous.
Suddenly his hand contained a familiar wand of pale wood. Dumbledore's wand. He pointed it at Harry. "It was your folly to stand before me," he said. Deceptively calm though the words seemed, the rage behind his eyes was an inferno waiting to be unleashed. "Draw your wand, boy. Let us see who the true master of fate is."