Act VI, Chapter 6: The Siege
Ginny sat in the most powerful chair in the world. The entire city of Atlantis, the most advanced technological marvel the world had ever seen responded to her very thoughts. It was glorious. Magnificent. And it made you really hungry.
Ginny crunched down on the last potato chip in the bag before handing the packet back to Percy, who was standing beside her.
"Are you sure you're ready for this sweetheart?" Ginny's mother asked from her improvised seat – an overturned pot from one of the ten-thousand-year-old dead plants they'd cleared out since arriving. She was wringing her hands over and over. Molly was having a hard time adjusting to the City, let-alone her daughter's seeming mastery over it and her role in what they were about to do. If they failed today, the world was doomed. If they won… well, Ginny hadn't actually given herself much of a chance to think about what she'd do if they won. Best just to focus on the here and now.
"Mum. Everything I've ever done has been building me towards this moment. I have to be ready." Molly sniffled, running a hand under her eye.
"Arthur would have been so proud of you…"
"Ginny. We're approaching the ward lines," Hermione's voice came from over the comms. She would be the last to enter the castle with Bill, the Order of the Phoenix… and BILL'S GIRLFRIEND! Because Bill apparently had a girlfriend he'd somehow forgotten to mention to anyone! Oh, and they were engaged! The looks on every Weasley's face when Curse-Breaker Fleur Delacour had Gatewayed into Atlantis with a contingent of French and Spanish Aurors and immediately snogged their eldest brother had been so hilarious the European Wizards had all doubled over laughing. The pair of them had received such a grilling afterwards it was hours before Ginny was composed enough to attend the strategy meeting coordinating their attack on Hogwarts.
Seven Wizarding Nations, a magic flying city, and several hundred Witches, Wizards, Druids and Mer, vs a Nether Force empowered Voldemort, Hogwarts Castle, and close to five hundred Death Eaters according to the life-sign detectors; with two Horcruxes, and three Deathly Hallows all in play.
"Copy that Brains. Parking over the Black Lake." Ginny cracked her neck and leaned back in the chair. Immediately, a glow appeared from within the glass, and the light overhead switched on, bathing her like a halo. The chair slid back, and Ginny opened her mind. Atlantis's systems slammed into her, and she took a breath to adjust to the feeling. It wasn't invasive as such. Just… extra. The whole City was open to her now. She could see Hogwarts approaching beneath them. Could see the Castle wards like a cube of black energy surrounding the grounds. Those wards were nothing compared to the might of Atlantis.
She slowed the City to a gradual stop, just far enough above the Black Lake so as not to disturb the water. The City's UI sent her a quick alert. It had detected the Giant Squid in the lake as a potential threat. She smiled. Cute.
"Nice!" Fitz exclaimed. He and Simmons were manning what had been affectionately christened, 'The Bridge' after Simmons slip up yesterday. It was partly to annoy her, partly because it sounded cool.
"The Cloak still working?" Harry asked.
"Looks like it. Nothing on the sensors to indicate they've seen us. We have to drop the Cloak to fire thought."
"Are the drop teams ready?" Ginny asked.
"We're all ready. As soon as the wards are down, we can begin gating people in."
"Our agents in the World's space agencies are ready," Mary, the American Ambassador said.
"And the Tower in Alcheringa has already engaged the satellite scrambler. We are ready to go."
Ginny took a deep breath. And so, it began.
"Drop the cloak."
Ginny felt the cloak disengage through the chair. Saw the instant pick up of movement from inside the castle as people started freaking out. She closed her eyes.
"Firing drones." The City's weapons platforms – three on the edges of three piers – retracted, and Ginny commanded dozens of glowing golden lights to fly into the air. It was incredibly easy. Each drone was designed to detect and target the most important tactical locations on an enemy ship or stronghold. All Ginny had to do was tell them to focus on the ward stones around the perimeter of the castle, and all thirty-six she'd launched automatically locked onto the large stones, covered in runes, buried beneath the castle grounds. Usually, Bill had explained, a tactic like this would be impossible. To bring down a ward system as secure and as complex as Hogwarts' was, you'd have to do it from the inside, by taking out the central keystone. But if you hit every single perimeter stone at the same time? Each stone exploded as one of Ginny's drones smashed into them and detonated. The wards around Hogwarts, once impenetrable, winked out of existence.
"Wards are down. Dialling the first address," Simmons called.
The sound of the Gateway powering up filled the air. Through the microscopic cameras hidden within the walls, Ginny watched the wormhole engage, creating the circle of blue light. Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Betsy Braddock and Nymphadora Tonks, all of them wearing Defenders Robes, raced through the portal as soon as it settled, followed by a shock team of Wakandans. The rest of the Order of the Phoenix stepped through more cautiously behind them. The wormhole vanished, and Fitz immediately began dialling again.
Alarms blared in Ginny's mind as men and women wreathed in the black smoke of the Death Eaters flew into the air, charging towards the city shield. They quickly learned that doing so was a terrible idea. Through her cameras, Ginny cringed as she watched five people wreathed in smoke hit the shimmering shield like bugs on a windshield. Their remains quickly fizzled away into nothingness. Those who were smart enough to stop short, circling the barrier, encountered Ginny's new toys. Five more drones flew up and through the shield, colliding with the Death Eaters. Everyone hit died instantly.
Fred, George, Matt and Luna ran through the next wormhole before it too disengaged. Several Death Eaters not hit by Ginny's first wave of drones began firing spells into the city shield. They were absorbed without a single fluctuation. One enterprising smoke clad figure even tried the Killing Curse; it bounced back and hit him in the face. His corpse dropped out of the sky.
"The Dragon Force is holding steady," Simmons advised.
"What about Riddle?" Harry asked, anxiously. He was pacing behind Fitz and Simmons, watching the battle play out through the heads-up-displays on the Defenders agents' helmets. There weren't enough for their entire force – about twenty-five in total that they'd found so far, though there were no doubt others in as yet unexplored sections of the City. It was so massive it would take years to search every floor of every tower. As a result, the suits had been given to those most likely to encounter Voldemort, or those with less combat experience like the students. The MIB Agents had their own defensive spells and wards on their clothing, as did the Federal Protection Authority Agents.
"Nothing yet. The sensors can't distinguish which one is him from the other Death Eaters," Ginny said. They'd agreed once again to keep mental conversations to a minimum so as not to distract her.
The next wave – the MIB agents and the Ilvermorny Students – made their way through the Gateway. At their backs were Peter, MJ and Claire.
A giant flare of energy spiked from the Great Hall, and the roof of the building exploded. A cloud of black smoke and purple lightning rose up out of the roof. The cities threat detector went through the roof.
"Found him," Ginny quipped.
"No shit, Ginny," Harry muttered. Now came the real test. All their brainy types agreed: The Nether Force shouldn't be able to penetrate the shield. Built as it was from the Dragon Force, the polarisation of the Enigma Forces should repel one another.. Hermione and Luna had even tried using their newfound magic to penetrate it on the journey north. Neither of them had been able to break through the barrier, no matter how hard they tried. But theory and reality were very different things.
Voldemort launched a beam of black energy from his palm. It lanced into the shield, the City trembled, alarms blared… but it held.
"YES!" Ginny screamed, grinning like a maniac as the shield's tension rate spiked for a few seconds before evening out. It was drawing more power to absorb whatever magic Voldemort was using, but it was barely straining under the bombardment!
The next wave, Jessica and T'Challa's forces, began to stream through the Gateway.
The second Sirius stepped out of the portal; spells started flying. He was ready for that, of course. You'd have to be an idiot to not expect it.
"Protego Maxima!" He, Remus and Moody all cast the spell together, merging their streams to create a giant protective barrier around the portal exit. Betsy did not help. Instead, she charged straight forward, tattooed to the nth degree, pink psionic blades extending from her hands. She did not wear the Ancient Armour. They'd discovered that runes and marks wouldn't function while wearing it. The only exception seemed to be Harry and Ginny's Gemini Rune. The Wakandan Legion poured out of the portal behind them and followed Psylocke into the carnage.
A giant wooden platform had been erected in the middle of the Entrance Courtyard. Sitting in the middle of the platform was a chair with spikes embedded in the wood, metal chains lying on the armrests. Voldemort had turned this place into a torture lab, and an executioner's block.
Psylocke cleared out the few Death Eaters in the courtyard, most of whom were still gawking at Atlantis as it floated in the sky. The Wakandans, led by the scary bald chick in the red armour, had relatively little to do, though the general did kill one straggler with her spear.
A tremble echoed through the ground, and Voldemort rose up into the air above the Great Hall. He fired a beam of dark energy at Atlantis, and Sirius held his breath as the portal behind them shut down. The beam struck the shield… and nothing happened. The transparent dome, which was barely visible from where he stood, simply absorbed the blast.
"Well, I'll be damned," Tonks whispered.
"You can bet your ass," Sirius replied. Then, for good measure, he set the executioners platform on fire. The Wakandan troops broke off to secure the Viaduct bridge with Moody while Tonks led another group down to the Boathouse.
"Moony to Tower, Ground secured."
Neville stepped out of the portal and had to duck a Death Eater who flew over his head, screaming, whether in pain or fear he couldn't tell. In front of him, the Black Panther, in a suit of black and silver, was tearing apart the five Death Eater guards in the dreary dank corridor. Emily Samson, a Mer from Alcheringa, stepped out of the portal beside him. Behind her came the Soldiers of the Federal Protection Authority.
Boy were they something to see. Each member, male and female alike, wore the same outfit. Shirts and pants, made from Kiroliki hide – another of those dangerous Australian animals, this type a large flightless bird that was apparently wholly magic resistant, had poisonous feathers and magical ejaculate used as a sweetener in coffee – dyed khaki. Their military-grade anti-spell vests – made from only the discarded scales of the FPA's Sea Dragons – could protect against magic and muggle bullets. The boots and gloves? Crocodile leather. Their belts? Loaded with Billywig Syrup injectors and Taniwha Poison grenades to be used in the event of an ambush. The hat each person wore – which was called an Akubra – had a series of black feathers as a sign of their rank. The more feathers – which apparently had to be obtained while wrestling an Emu without magic – the higher one's rank.
The Black Panther, having already finished with the guards protecting the doorway to the dungeons, ushered them forward. He kicked the door off its hinges, and it sailed backward into the dark hallway beyond. Emily summoned a sphere of fire in her hand, as did every third soldier in the line. Silently, they moved into the dungeons.
Neville had always been scared of coming down to the dungeons, it was the abode of Professor Snape, now confirmed traitor and Death Eater. He hadn't thought it could get any worse.
He was wrong.
The Druids illuminated the torches in braziers along the walls, revealing dozens of people suspended by their thumbs from the ceiling. In the cells along the wall, dozens more were sitting in their own refuse wearing tattered robes.
Neville almost dropped his wand. Almost. The first person hanging from the ceiling, unconscious, was Luke.
"Get them down. Quickly!" The Panther said, before moving down the hall. Neville and Emily moved to Luke, hastening to obey. Behind him hung Professor Slughorn, equally as unconscious.
"I would refrain from doing that if I were you." Neville, instead of the shiver that used to hit him when he heard that oily voice, felt only red-hot fury. He turned his wand towards the hall where the Black Panther stood, claws extended. Snape hung in the darkness beyond, hanging from his thumbs. Neville's jaw fell open.
"Oh, do control yourself Longbottom. I realise stupidity is your default expression, but I rather doubt now is the perfect time for it."
"You leave him alone," Emily snapped. Neville's face went bone white.
"I see. Got yourself a girlfriend finally Longbottom. I shouldn't be surprised the best you could do was a half-breed."
Trying to keep his voice as steady as possible, he stared to the figure hanging from the roof. The person who'd tried his hardest to make his Hogwarts life hell.
"Maybe you're right Snape. But she's twice the person you could ever hope to be." Snape sneered at him, and out of the corner of his eye, Neville saw Emily blush slightly.
"Why can't we take you down?" the Alcheringan Commander asked, ignoring the banter.
Snape sighed dramatically.
"I attempted to incite a prison escape myself, but it seems Bellatrix remains as sadistic as she ever was. The ropes, and the locks on the doors, are spelled to inflict the Cruciatus Curse on any who attempt to remove them." Neville snorted.
"Certainly, sounds like her."
"This is irrelevant," The Black Panther said. Then, without so much as flinching, he swiped the ropes with his claws. Snape fell from the roof, landing in a heap on the ground, a look of complete bewilderment on his face.
Neville smirked at him, then the Panther began repeating the process on each person and cell.
MJ jumped out of the portal, wand drawn. A green spell shot over her head, but she dove out of the way fast enough that it struck a stone archway behind her. Explosions and yelling filled the Clocktower Courtyard as the American Aurors and the students they'd gathered from Ilvermorny ploughed forward. She scrambled to the side, using the rubble of a column as cover. She ducked to the side and fired three stunners. She thought one of them hit a silver masked figure.
Dominating the middle of the square were five people. Miles Morales was duelling both of the Carrow Twins at the same time, and man was he holding his own. The air was like butter to his spells. Hexes, jinxes and curses lit the sky as the Death Eaters – both of whom had injuries on their arms and legs – scowled in hate at Miles. Being beaten by a black half-blood. That must have been one hell of an insult to them. MJ almost sat back and watched for the fun of it. Almost.
The other two figures were a tall, dark-skinned MIB Agent – whose name was apparently just 'J' – and Barty Crouch Junior. Crouch was good. Very good. But so was Agent J. The spells they used were far more lethal than Miles', and each one was silent. A completely silent spell battle took a lot of skill. But no. They looked like professional duellers trying to kill each other as they vaulted over fallen masonry and dodged around other people – both Death Eaters and Americans.
Peter knelt down beside her. His eyes were still dark and haunted - she imagined her own looked quite similar. But they didn't have time to think about what they'd lost right now. They had a mission.
The last person through the portal as it shut down was Claire O'Neill. She – like MJ – wore the Ancient Armour. Peter had refused to wear it for reasons he wouldn't share. Claire jumped up into the air, screaming. The sky darkened, and five lightning bolts fell to the ground. One of the Carrows went down, Crouch Jr dodged, and three other Death Eaters fell flat on their faces – smoke curling from their dead forms. Miles used the opportunity to crack an Incarcarus around Amycus. Then he shot her point-blank with a high-powered stunning spell to the face. She too went to ground.
The screaming began to die down, and streams of black smoke began to fill the air as many of the Death Eaters began to bail. Crouch Jr screamed in rage, before firing a reductor at the Tower roof above them. He disapparated.
"Agents hold it!" J yelled, rushing to stand beneath the tower. The clock made a horrible crunching sound, the stone cracked, and it fell free. Heading straight for them.
The MIB agents all lined up beside J and thrust their wands into the air.
"Wingardium Leviosa!" The clock shuddered to a halt. The loose stones however, kept falling. Aurors and students dove out of the way, trying to get beneath the clock face as the pieces struck from the sky. Flash Thompson, whom MJ had hated for years, was crushed in the space it took her to blink.
"Spinneret, Spider-Man, Ariel. I've got confirmation of a match with the energy signature the Cup gave off inside the Forbidden Forest. It has to be the Snake. Can you take care of it?" Ginny's voice echoed through the communication pieces in their ears. Spinneret. A stupid name that. But apparently it was Defenders tradition that your name had to be picked by someone else, and Luna had decided that her name was to be Spinneret, so MJ didn't really have a choice in the matter.
"Firefly, this is Ariel. We're on it," Claire said. She glanced to Peter and MJ, before bolting across the courtyard towards the Covered Bridge. MJ jumped over her debris and followed suit, Peter running behind.
Danny apparated into the ruins of Dumbledore's office and stared in horror. What had once been a magnificent library of ancient and powerful magic, had been completely demolished. The entire top level was gone. All that remained was the ground floor, and that was covered in dust and destruction. Dumbledore's Memory cabinet had been utterly destroyed, and the Pensieve lay in three broken pieces on the floor. He spotted Fawkes perch, still smouldering, and the wreckage of a telescope. And the books! Piles upon piles of ash and dust.
Danny forced himself to ignore the gut-wrenching destruction and focus on the task at hand.
The Headmaster's desk hadn't fallen into the open air with most of the tower. Instead it lay, crumpled, on the floor, covered in stone debris. It wasn't hard for him to clear it away. Once he had, prying his hands deep enough into the dirt to reach the drawer was much harder. The problem was he couldn't risk disturbing the ground too much. Less the whole thing collapse, taking him with it. He certainly couldn't use his fist.
Eventually, though his knuckles were bleeding, he got the drawer open. Two objects were still inside. An old green diary with a hole in the middle, and a golden ring inlaid with a cracked red stone. Jackpot. He tapped his hand to his ear.
"Firefly, General. I've got the items."
"Copy that Iron Fist. Get to the RoR and back up Daredevil, Mystery, Thing One and Thing Two."
"On it." He tucked the two objects into his Defenders Cloak and made to leave. Then the clapping started.
"Daniel Rand. Fancy seeing you here. Is Mathew around? I very much wanted to have a chat with him."
Standing in the mangled doorway back into the castle proper, was Elektra.
Daphne and Astoria stepped out of the portal inside the old Alcheringa Common Room. The place – a gorgeous sculpture garden around pools and lakes – was abandoned. This made quite a lot of sense, seeing as how the Death Eater command had set up their base in the Transfiguration Courtyard beyond. Daphne checked her pocket, and satisfied that the rope was still there, she made her way towards the door, Astoria trailing silently behind.
They stepped onto the rotating floor beside the Mermaid statue, and it swivelled around quickly. They stepped out into the courtyard, and found themselves face to face with a giant tent. It was pitch black, and had been erected over the open-air courtyard. Dozens of Death Eaters, including Daphne noted, Lucius Malfoy, Corban Yaxley, Pius Thicknees and at least fifteen Ministry employees and eleven Wizengamot Members she could identify, stood at the edge of the tent, staring up at Atlantis as it hovered above the lake. These were the people who thought they were above fighting. Voldemort was still attacking the shield.
Astoria tugged on Daphne's sleeve, and she turned to look at her sister. Instead of the fear she'd expected to see (because that was most certainly what was thrumming through Daphne's veins), all she saw was cold hate and determination. She let go of Daphne's arm and stormed towards the tent. Daphne shook herself and followed at a run.
"Mr Malfoy!" Astoria yelled. All the Death Eaters instantly spun around, wands raised.
"Mr Malfoy! My name is Daphne Greengrass and this is my sister Astoria," Daphne said, grabbing her sisters shoulders and pulling her to a halt a safe distance away from Malfoy – though it wouldn't really do much good.
"I know who you are!" Lucius snapped, "How did you get here?!"
"We came from Potter's City. We were in the Great Hall when he took us." Malfoy's eyes blistered with anger, though many of the others glanced in fear towards Atlantis.
"We didn't want to be taken," Daphne continued quickly, cutting off anything Malfoy might say, "so we planned. We escaped. And we can get you inside so you can kill Potter and the Weasley bitch!"
For a second, Malfoy stared at them darkly, analysing their every move. Then a greedy, sadistic smile broke out on his face.
Daphne pulled the rope out of her pocket.
"The shield over the City protects from all damage, physical or magical. You can't apparate in, and you can't fly in. But you can use a portkey to get through. I learnt how to make one from my Dad." Malfoy stepped up to her, still scanning. Then he snatched the rope from her hand.
"It goes to a storage room in the main tower. Go up the main stairs, and you should come out a floor below where Weasley has set up her little command post," Astoria said with a sneer to rival Snape's.
"Good. I'll see you rewarded for this, girls." Malfoy turned on his heel and snapped orders to his comrades. He uncoiled the rope, and the dozens of Death Eaters grabbed it.
"I will bring you before the Dark Lord, Potter," he muttered as the final people grabbed hold.
"Activate!" he announced. Then, he, Yaxley and the rest all vanished. Daphne smirked and tapped her ear.
"Firefly, this is Blizzard and Sapphire. The package is en route. Request extraction."
"Copy that ladies. One extraction coming right up."
The sequence of runes appeared in the air, the energy exploded outwards before being sucked back in, and Daphne and Astoria Greengrass strode through arm in arm.
Demelza Robbins flew down the Fifth-Floor corridor wearing a set of white and red armour. Jets on her back and in her boots saw her zooming through corridors making turns that professional Quidditch players would be awed by. Behind her flew the Patil Twins. They were nowhere near as good at it as she was, but then again, they weren't Quidditch players.
She wiped around a corner, leaving the twins behind, and dropped from the air, skidding along the stones. At the end of her current hallway was a tall oak door with a bronze knocker in the shape of an eagle set into it. On either side of the door were spaces that should have held Ravenclaw House tapestries. But now the drapes had well and truly been torn down. Instead, several sleeping bags were strewn across the stone floor, and six Death Eaters stood watch. The Ravenclaw House Common Room. The location of this common room was not secret like the Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Gryffindor ones (though everyone knew where Gryff Tower was anyway). No. This Common Room's defence was the bronze knocker, which would deny access to anyone who failed too properly answer its riddle. Of course, that wasn't an entirely correct statement. In reality, the eagle knocker would allow almost any answer that completed the question. But the eagle certainly would not allow admittance to anyone who threatened Ravenclaw House or its occupants. That, combined with the powerful magics on the tower that stopped any entrance or exit except via the front door, resulted in a fortress within a fortress. (Ravenclaw – being comprised a great deal by the socially inept – had a minor issue with depression and anxiety, and living in a tower didn't do much in the way of helping. Hence the spell) One the Death Eaters had yet to crack. Oh, she had no doubts that Voldemort could have done it, but, well, he was a busy, dark lord. Also, apparently, super egotistical, as the guards seemed to all be sixth and seventh year Slytherins. If he thought that Pansy Parkinson and Theodore Nott were intelligent enough to figure out how to get inside, he was sorely mistaken.
Demelza skidded to a halt before the six Slytherins and lowered her helmet.
"So, Pansy, Nott, I watched this really cool movie with Ginny a couple years ago…" Pansy screamed at her, firing the Cruciatus Curse. The armour absorbed it. Nott tried an Avada Kedavra with about the same effect. When she weathered both spells without even stumbling, the other four kids bolted down the side corridor.
"…It was called Star Wars," she continued as the two Slytherins began to back away, firing Unforgiveable after Unforgiveable at her. This was so awesome. Oh, the looks on their faces! "And in this movie, they have these super cool things called Lightsabres. Now, here's where it gets really fun. The armouries in Atlantis had something that looked very similar, and you see, I just had to try one." She tapped the side of her leg, and the armour moulded itself to expose a pocket. From it she withdrew a silver cylindrical hilt, and a blade of blue energy extended from the end.
Nott pissed himself. Pansy fainted.
Parvati and Padma finally arrived, panting heavily.
"What took you guys so long? I was being a badass, and you missed it!"
Jessica lead her team up a staircase that remained intact, aiming for the Gryffindor Common Room. Lavender was bringing up the rear of this group – which consisted of Jessica, Angelina, Alicia, Katie and herself. The sounds of fighting echoed down the hallways. Screams, grunts of pain, voices calling spells, all of them flitted through the otherwise silent abyss that had once been the Grand Staircase. Lavender swallowed the bile that threatened to rise in her throat. She did not want to think about the fact that, no more than a month ago, she had been going to school in these hallways. Six years of laughter, of crying, of frantic studying. For what? The collapse of civilisation? The potential end of the world at the hands of a man with no nose and terrible fashion sense? No. She really didn't want to think about it.
Jessica stopped short at the entrance to the Common Room. The Fat Lady's portrait had been destroyed. Hesitantly, Jessica lead them inside. Lavender couldn't help the gasp that slipped from her throat. The room had been totally destroyed. Every painting slashed or blown up. The Fireplace reduced to rubble. The sidewall blown out. The couches turned into debris.
"Those fuckers," Katie whispered.
"Not surprising," Angelina muttered.
"Chasers, the Boys Dorms are yours. Agent Stark, you're with me." Lavender didn't even have the heart to bite back a retort. She hated the Defenders name Hermione had given her. Apparently, it had to do with a popular muggle book and her Direwolf Patronus, but Lavender had no idea what it was about. Hermione refused to say anything other than "Spoilers. If you want to know, you have to read the book." Couldn't she understand that Lavender absolutely hated reading?!
They peeked into each one of the girl's dorms. Ginny's possessions had been ransacked and scattered across the floor, but she had very few things anyway, so it looked quite pitiful. None of the other trunks seemed disturbed. Hermione's had also been torn to shreds. Fortunately, both girls had moved anything they cared about into the Home a long time ago. Lavender's bunk was untouched.
She rushed over, Jessica standing at the door in her armour, wand at the ready. She threw the lid and – biting her lip at the horror of it – discarded her make up potions and brushes. Buried at the bottom of her trunk, underneath her underwear, bras and socks, was a silvery silk cloth. The Invisibility Cloak. Entrusted to her so long ago now. She'd kept it safe, never using it, all that time.
She pulled it out, bundled it up as small as she could make it. She placed the cloak against her leg and commanded her armour to absorb it. The white metal seemed to grow around the fabric, melting into her leg. She didn't know how it worked, she didn't want to know. The magic of the Ancients should stay ambiguous in her opinion. Just wearing the suit made her skin itch. The armour returned to normal, and Lavender made her way back to Jessica.
"Good," the Slytherin said, her mouth set in a thin line, "come on." She led the way back down the stairs. They met the Chasers at the bottom.
"Just as you suspected," Angelina said, "Harry's stuff was torn apart, so was everyone else's in his room. Luke's was destroyed too."
"I had a feeling," Jessica admitted, "Death Eaters tend to be a bit lazy. Or maybe it's just arrogance. Either way, they only checked the obvious places, not those that weren't. Let's go. We have to get this to Harry."
"General," Jessica called into her listening device, "We've got the Cloak. Coming to you."
They made their way out of the tower, leaving the rubble behind. However, as they passed the sixth-floor corridor, the whole castle began to shake.
It rang through the entire structure, shaking debris-free and plunging them into freefall. The floor rumbled, the roof creaked ominously, and the very air seemed to tremble. Jessica was the first to regain her balance. Lavender lost her footing, falling onto the ground. The others kept their feet, barely.
"Get that cloak to Harry. GO!" Jessica snapped. Then she took off down the corridor, running towards the source of the tremor. The Room of Requirement.
Eloise had never been this close to Cedric Diggory in her entire stay at Hogwarts, and – despite the really inappropriate timing – she was having a secret moment on cloud nine. He was so handsome! With his rugged hair and the three-day growth he'd grown since he left the school, he literally looked like he could be an actor. And right now he was leading Eloise and Hannah to the Hufflepuff Common Room to commence an evacuation.
Fortunately, it seemed as though none of the Slytherins had bothered to learn the location of this common room. There were no guards, and none of the barrels hiding the entrance had been disturbed in the slightest.
Cedric and Hannah stood with wands at the ready as Eloise tapped the password. The barrel lid that hid the entrance slid away, and the trio slowly edged inside. As soon as they stepped out of the tunnel, they found themselves with Professor Sprout's wand in their faces. When she saw Cedric, she breathed a massive sigh of relief.
"Oh, my goodness," she exclaimed, "you do not know how good it is to see you three."
The room was packed with people. Slytherins, Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs from all the years were lying in sleeping bags on the common room floor. Off to one side lay several conjured beds with wounded lying on them. One of the wounded was Hagrid, with Harry's Owl Hedwig perched on his shoulder.
Justin Finch-Fletchley pushed himself to the front of the group.
"Is Harry attacking? We heard noises."
"Yes," Hannah said, "and we're on orders to get you out of here." Cedric nodded and began clearing people away from the entrance.
"Firefly, commence extraction in the Hufflepuff Common Room."
Daredevil lead his team of Defenders out of the portrait hiding the entrance to the Home and into the sixth-floor corridor of Hogwarts. Their mission: retrieve the fifth Horcrux from the Room of Lost Things. Fred moved at the rear of the group, Luna and George between him and Matt at the front. This was some James Bond-level shit.
It seemed no one had bothered placing guards this high up in the castle. That was good news for them at least, and they reached the wall where the room was hidden without incident. Matt walked past the wall three times, and the familiar oaken door appeared before them. They ducked inside without a sound. If anyone had seen them, Mystery and Daredevil would have noticed, thanks to their powers. Fred wished he had some specifically awesome ability to add to the group. His charisma and unstoppable wit obviously far surpassed all others – except perhaps his brother with whom he was tied – but a genuine superpower would have been nice. He resisted the urge to sigh. This super cool armour would have to be enough. Maybe he and his brother could find something to give them powers in Atlantis?
He stopped short, thoughts grinding to a halt as he took in the sheer breadth of the room. Shelves soared from floor to roof, covered in miss-matched objects, half of which he wouldn't even know how to describe. He glanced at George, and they both grinned. They would definitely be coming back here once they'd saved the world.
"I can hear it," Luna said softly, seemingly unconcerned about the immensity of the room.
"This way," Matt said, leading them forward. Fred resisted the urge to grab things and shove them into his pockets. It didn't take long to find what they were looking for. A silver crown adorned with sapphires sat atop a bust. It seemed perfectly normal, though Fred knew it was anything but.
Luna withdrew a vile of the Kaiju Saliva from her suit.
"Well, well, well. Look who it is. The Gryffindor idiots and the Ravenclaw washouts. The lunatic, the fake-blind kid, and the two Weasleys so dumb they couldn't even pass their NEWTS." The four of them spun around to face the newcomers, wands shooting into their palms. Well, except Luna. She didn't have her wand. She'd lost it in the panic of their flight from Hogwarts. Not that she apparently needed it anymore.
Draco Malfoy stood with his ever-present henchmen, Crabbe and Goyle, wands pointed lazily at them. Hanging from each of their necks was an amulet with the Aquarius Rune etched into the surface.
"Oh, for fuck's sake," Matt groaned.
"Drop the vial Loony," Malfoy said, gesturing to Luna with his wand. Luna didn't move.
"I don't care what you said, Malfoy," she snapped. Then, her eyes flashed white. Crabbe and Goyle flung backwards down the corridor and Malfoy dropped to the ground as if a great weight had just fallen on his shoulders. Luna's hair began to float. Fred and George resisted the urge to gawk.
"What… what did you…" Malfoy cut himself off, grunting as the weight around him intensified.
Behind Malfoy, Crabbe pulled himself up and pointed his wand at them. Fred summoned a shield, as did George while Matt grabbed the Diadem and shoved it in his pocket.
A giant wolf made of red flames, burst from Crabbe's wand colliding with Luna. She flew backwards, dropping the vial and crashing into a shelf. Fred spun around, horrified, just in time to for the wolf to split into three snakes, surrounding them. What the fuck was that spell?! A giant snake rebounded from Fred's shield, and the wolf that grabbed Luna vanished as the blonde girl rose to her feet, white smoke billowing from her body. But the flames did not stop. More and more creatures began forming and leaping from the shelves, which started to crumble and crash around them.
Fred wasn't fast enough with his next shield, and a lion took a swipe at his suit.
"AHH!" he dropped to his knees as an intense agony shot through his leg. The fire had burned through the suit! George grabbed him, pulling Fred to his feet. Luna clapped her hands, and a sphere of white light surrounded them, deflecting the flames. Above, the windows exploded with a 'bang!' and a tremor rang through the entire building. If they hadn't been wearing their armour, Fred was sure he would have gone deaf.
"We have to go!" Matt shouted, and together, with George supporting Fred, they made a bolt for the door. Crabbe and Goyle were nowhere to be seen, but Malfoy remained trapped by Luna's be-spelled weight. As they walked, the bubble passed through Malfoy, leaving him exposed to the heat and debris.
"WAIT! You can't leave me!" He screamed. He was lying prone on the ground now, trapped by gravity.
Luna stooped, eyes afire, and turned back to the Slytherin. When she spoke, it was as if her voice came from far away, possessing an unnatural echo.
"Draco Malfoy. This is what you have brought on yourself. Live now with the choices you have made." In the distance, an entire shelf crashed to the ground.
Then Luna turned on her heel and led them towards the exit.
Jessica stood, back pressed against stone, Elder Wand in hand, trying very hard not to breathe. Beyond, the sound of footsteps pacing echoed through the hallway outside the Room of Requirement, accompanied by a voice, muttering.
"Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck…"