Barriers - Part III
Chapter 27 - EM-E - Barriers - Part III
Lucius wondered where the student Prefects were at this time, recalling that Draco and Pansy had been assigned to this floor. He darted his eyes to the exit and saw a dark head duck out of sight, clearly having just assessed the goings on in the interior. Had that been Harry? Lucius' instincts told him no, but that did not eliminate the risk to the lingering teen. He indicated his intentions with a jerk of his head to Remus, and took the opportunity to retreat further and duck behind a set of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, where he could see the entrance more clearly while he continued to hover near the vaulted ceiling of the cavernous room, just out of sight and near the top of the shelves.
Remus had remained above and behind Bellatrix, but out in the open. They could see the field of magic begin to form around her as Severus taunted her into action.
Remus watched Severus shield himself with confident agility, and suspected that Severus' motives were to goad the maniacal witch into revealing what she knew about Harry before taking her down. Bellatrix let out a screech of rage as she began to fire off curses at Severus, her enormous power very visible in the way the magic rippled through the air, reflecting light as it zipped towards her target. The POPs and BANGs of impact on his shield were loud and agitating. Remus hesitated to reveal himself by assisting Severus. There was no way to do real damage to the dark witch just yet. And besides, Severus was vaulting himself horizontally, flying like an angry insect, darting back and forth, and around behind Bellatrix, staying low to the ground, but forcing her to chase him with her wand.
So Remus watched, his own wand ready.
"Hah hah hahahahaha!"
I am going to happily silence you, my dear, Severus thought with a snarl, all tolerance for that infernal cackling having been lost long years ago. He slashed his wand fiercely as he flew about, casting every violent hex he could think of, not really intending it to do much good, but also not wanting her to suspect there would be attempts to break through her shield. The consequence was that he was in very real peril, while Lucius and Lupin waited for the most opportune moment to intercede.
"Oh Sevvy, you've gotten so very good at your flying, just like our Lord taught you!"
Severus clenched his teeth. He nearly broke his concentration to look at Lupin's reaction to this information, as a surge of humiliated shame rushed up from his chest. He was not happy for this enviable skill to be attributed to Voldemort, but refrained from the defensive retort he yearned to bark out at her. Voldemort had taught him to fly. He'd taught himself how to do it with grace and skill.
A blur of something rapidly spinning appeared in the corner of Severus' eye, bringing him out of his inner rant. Someone else had come to the scene. Severus couldn't break his concentration, but stopped his darting about and stood still to draw Bellatrix's attention away from the blurred form, firing off a series of blasting hexes to keep her occupied.
Remus retreated behind a set of shelves so that he could focus on the new arrival as it slowed it's frantic circles.
It was Harry!
The Boy Who Lived was lying on his side in the fetal position, curved around a cloth-wrapped bundle, clearly alive, but appearing to be in his weakened state. Heart in his throat, Remus zoomed downward and swept an arm around Harry's middle, using the momentum of the broom's flight to help hoist his young friend onto the handle in front of him and get him out of the line of fire.
"I'm okay," Harry whispered quickly, as Remus darted them back behind the cover of the bookshelves, "just dizzy from a spinning spell."
Lucius watched them fly in his peripheral vision, not wanting to abandon his attention to Severus, but still keeping out of view. As Remus lowered his broom, he caught sight of the way Harry was struggling to keep his eyes closed and knew exactly what was afflicting him. That bastard Wormtail! Just then, another figure darted out of the shadows to move toward them. It was Miss Granger. Dammit. That meant that the Weasley boy was nearby as well. The magic in this room was too strong for them.
Harry had to keep his eyes scrunched together to stop himself from growing nauseous. He could feel that they'd landed, but Remus didn't dismount with him. Remus did however take that opportunity to quickly squeeze Harry hard against his chest and say gruffly, "You gave us quite a scare," before helping Harry stand. "Hermione!" Remus' whisper was ragged with tension and shock.
"We couldn't get out without being seen," Hermione whispered back.
"Cover Severus!" Harry heard Lucius tell Remus with a rush of wind from his flight. "I'll help him." Harry stood unsteadily where he was, eyes still closed, still holding his bundle, unable to process coherent thought while everything was spinning, as Lucius' hand tilted his chin upward. "Semet explicare. Damned dizzying spell. Alright, Harry?"
Harry opened his eyes to a stagnate view of the room and saw Hermione in front of him as he whispered frantically, "They can hear my thoughts, that's why I couldn't message back." He looked for Severus and saw that he was flying at Bellatrix's eye level to block her view of the goings on in the room, while Remus was circling above her, firing off disarming spells to break her concentration on Severus. "You can destroy the field by touching it with your contego shield, but you have to be close enough for them to rub together! It breaks the tension! Hermione, tell the others through the coin! Then tell Dumbledore that he needs to watch for Nagini. They're going to help her past the wards!"
Lucius had released Harry, and now was racing off to join the rest of the dream team to look for the opportunity to break that bloody barrier that continued to surround Bellatrix while she twirled that damned cup and laughed like a crazed hyena.
Hermione sent the message, and they saw Remus take his coin out, but had no idea if Severus had seen it. The older wizards were unable to get close enough to make the necessary contact with Bellatrix's shield. And worse, she was aware that they were teaming against her now and had grown tired of being toyed with. Her blasting hexes grew far more powerful, just as the three male wizards came together to coordinate their attack.
But the dynamic shifted again as each of the older wizards felt the heavy magical pressure that had become a "Voldemort/horcrux holder's special", and were struggling to stay on their feet, arms becoming useless and return fire ceasing entirely. Harry's stomach plummeted when his guardian grew still enough that he could see that Severus was bleeding, his robes showing signs of scorching as blood dripped onto the floor from the front panel.
Bellatrix's shout broke into Harry's awareness, as she fired off a blasting hex at Lucius that caught his free arm before he could completely dive out of the line of fire. His yell of pain pushed Harry into action before the psychotic witch could hurt anyone else. "Hey, Bella!" he called as he strolled into the clearing, shielding himself with his wild magic, instinctively able to initiate it now without conscious thought.
"Harry Potter," Bellatrix taunted in her nasty voice, holding her wand up and at a downward angle, as if she had a special spell, just for him, while she twirled the cup on her other finger.
Harry could see Severus out of the corner of his eye, but didn't allow himself to be distracted by what he imagined would be his soon-to-be adoptive father's distress that he was putting himself in harm's way. "So, we all share an ability to communicate through our connections to Voldemort,' he said casually.
"How dare you! You filth! You are very foolish to show such-"
"I heard everything you and Wormtail said to each other, just as you two heard my thoughts," Harry interrupted her. He put his cloth covered bundle between his knees to hold it there so he could use both hands. "Did 'ol Wormy tell you I have his wand?" He pulled Wormtail's wand from his sleeve and wiggled it between his fingers at her, watching her eyes widen. He snapped the wand in half and chanted loudly, "Evanesco," banishing it to the knot in the Whomping Willow with his own wand by picturing the location in his mind, trying not to form words in his mind that could be overheard by either her or Peter.
Inside his head, Harry heard Wormtail whinging at Bellatrix: Bring me another wand! and Bellatrix replying, I will, you pathetic weakling, but first tell Nagini to come join us, right now. And to bring some friends.
Neville had sneaked into the Library and now stood opposite Ron, where Hermione had stood previously. He watched the goings on, ready to act if he possibly could. I'm going to get that bitch, he mouthed to Ron.
Ron struggled not to grin at his fellow Gryffindor. He had thought it quite possible at that moment that Neville could do real damage to Madam Lestrange. But that didn't mean that he should try, and Ron hoped his cautionary shake of his head would warn Neville to stay out of sight. But he also had his wand ready, just in case.
Bellatrix fired off a very familiar looking blasting spell at Harry, and it hit his shield in a manner that told him he'd better get on with his plan, before his wild magic drained away and he got sent back in time again. He held up the cloth covered bundle.
"Got something else of Peter's that he might be missing just now," he told the nasty witch.
He could see Hermione edging closer behind the cover of the bookshelf nearest to Bellatrix, and made a dramatic show of holding one end of the cloth up so that it unwound downward to release the object it held. A shiny metal prosthetic hand fell to the floor with a CLANG!
And all hell broke loose.
A rapid sequence of simultaneous activity ensued, stretching the perception of time to seem far longer than the mere minutes that actually ticked by.
Hermione saw her chance and rushed out behind Bellatrix Lestrange, darting close enough to cast her silent contego and literally rubbing it against the magical field. The result was like the tear in a spiderweb, rapidly pulling it apart, leaving the dark haired witch exposed, and causing a distracting shock to her awareness. Hermione darted back behind the shelves, unseen by Bellatrix, safely out of sight again.
Harry peripherally registered Bellatrix's voice in his head, telling Wormtail his missing hand was on the Library floor, as he was snapping his head around to watch Neville charging into the clearing and managing to shield himself from the slicing hex Bella sent his way. Bugger! Harry sensed that Neville wouldn't back down until he'd attacked his parents' assailant, so he dashed towards his friend, wand ready to add his wild magic to Neville's spell.
"Bombarda!" Neville shouted, not faltering when Harry's magic zipped along with his own through his wand, and directed his blast at Bellatrix, but they actually hit the cup while she let out an alarmed screech of surprise. The cup flew out of her hand and bounced along with it's own set of clangs. Clang …clang clang… and came to a stop right beside the metal hand, which disappeared from view a split second later.
"Scopa!" Ron yelled, sending the cup rattling across the floor and out of reach, just as the dream team was released from the "Voldemort special."
"Don't touch it!" Harry warned the room in general about the cup while frantic magical battle ensued once more.
Ron gestured for Neville to follow him to take cover again, and the two fifth years darted behind another set of shelves so they wouldn't draw attention to Hermione's hiding place.
Severus's chest collided with Harry's back as he landed and pulled Harry back against him. He stretched his wand arm out over Harry's shoulder to continue his casting while he spoke quickly into Harry's ear. "The fact that no one else has joined us speaks volumes about the probability of mayhem being underway elsewhere in the castle. Don't drain your magic."
"We can hear each other! Wormtail just helped Nagini through Dumbledore's wards. He's speaking in parseltongue," Harry said frantically. They both knew the peril would quadruple if Wormtail's horcrux-enhanced magic linked with Nagini. "They'll hear me summon a basilisk fang to kill the cup! It's got to be the sword, and right now, but I can't ask for it! Wormtail will hear and maybe he could summon it too!"
"Dammit!" Severus growled. His eyes were on the battle, drawing his attention to the need for him to rejoin.
"Go! I promise I'll be smart about this," Harry urged him. Harry glanced around in time to see that Lucius was only a few feet away, his left arm hanging uselessly at his side while he cast viciously at his sister-in-law. Harry visualized his shield around Lucius, who had just been forced to deflect a brutal hex while Remus slashed his arm to imitate the cutting action his curse was intending to do to Bellatrix had she not shielded herself. He watched Severus launch into the air and sweep down to collide with Bellatrix and knock her off kilter, which finally set her up for a takedown.
Bellatrix was completely outraged at this turn of events. The worst part of all of it was that she really loved that little cup. She especially loved the way she felt when she had it in her hand. "Accio!" she raged from the floor where she'd landed after Severus had crashed into her, just as four separate spells hit her simultaneously.
The only verbal casting they heard in that split of an instant was from Neville: "CAPUT FRANGO!"
Harry had added his wild magic into Lucius' bone crunching hex, and they'd heard the resulting sounds as it hit her. But Remus had also fired off another cutting hex to land a brutal slash down her torso. And Severus had been inspired to plant a magical kick onto her torso as payback for the curse she'd hit Harry with, only his curse kicked hard enough to snap her spine. But it just might have been the spell that had lifted her head and slammed it down onto the stone floor to have done 'ol Bellatrix in. That one had been Neville's.
"Bloody hell!" Ron yelled, stepping out from behind the bookshelf to stare at the scene with a pale, shocked expression.
"We need the Sword! Remus?" Harry yelled. He was succumbing to the panic he'd stifled for the past two hours. "I can't ask for it!"
The Sword of Gryffindor appeared in Remus' hand and he stepped over to the cup, which twitched as it sensed danger. He looked around at them all, waiting while Harry called Neville and Hermione over to stand with him, Severus and Lucius. Harry nodded at him, so Remus raised the sword and slammed it down, aware of Harry's shield forming around them all as he pointed the sword's tip so that it pierced through the center of the bowl of the chalice. The sandy black smoke burst out, along with a ROAR of Voldemort's angry voice, but it swirled upward without purchase and hit the ceiling, appearing to break apart, much like the magical field had done around Bellatrix.