Disclaimer: I do not own the world of Harry Potter.
A/N: S/O to DeAtHlY bEauTiFuL, my new reader :D You are fantastic!
The wizard statue that had once stood proud in the middle of the fountain, but was now headless, jumped in front of Harry, blocking the spell from striking the boy.
"What?" Voldemort said, angry and surprised. He let go of Tilly, who quickly ran to Harry, pulling him next to her. "Dumbledore!"
"Keep your head down!" Tilly told Harry, gripping tight onto his shoulders, scared that he might do something reckless if she let go of him. The powerful wizards were locked in a duel and the witch's statue ran to Bellatrix, who screamed as it pinned her to the floor. The goblin and the house-elf were moving along the wall but the centaur charged at Voldemort, who vanished.
Tilly barely had a second to look for before he reappeared beside the fountain. The wizard's statue pushed her and Harry back, away from Dumbledore and Voldemort. Tilly still had a grip on Harry but it was almost hard not to be distracted by such a powerful battle.
"It was foolish to come here tonight, Tom," Dumbledore said. "The Aurors are on their way –"
"By which time I shall be gone and you dead!" Voldemort replied. His killing spell missed Dumbledore and, instead, set fire to the security guard's desk.
Dumbledore shot another spell at his opponent, Tilly taking a step back and pulling Harry with her at the incredibly feeling of power in the air. Voldemort pulled up a shield, the force of Dumbledore's spell striking it, the sound ringing through the Atrium. "You do not seek to kill me, Dumbledore? Above such brutality, are you?"
Throughout her schooling and even afterwards, it had always amazed Tilly how her Headmaster always seemed . . . well in an entirely different world and the most powerful wizard ever. Tonight was no different. "We both know that there are other ways of destroying a man, Tom. Merely taking your life would not satisfy me, I admit –"
"There is nothing worse than death, Dumbledore!"
"You are quite wrong." From behind the statue, that kept pushing them backwards, Tilly could see Dumbledore moving towards Voldemort. Harry kept trying to move past the statue but its continuous movement and Tilly's hold of his arm made it difficult. "Indeed, your failure to understand that there are things much worse than death has always been your greatest weakness –"
Voldemort shot another killing spell but this time, the centaur blocked it and shattering it. Tilly pulled Harry down, covering him as the pieces fell around them, some brushing off her back, dust and debris gathering in their hair and clothes. Both she and Harry looked up to see Dumbledore wrap Voldemort in a fiery whip but the victory didn't last long. The rope turned into a snake, falling to the ground and turning towards Dumbledore as Tom Riddle vanished once more.
The snake moved to Dumbledore, rising to strike. A burst of flame appeared above Dumbledore and Voldemort reappeared in the middle of the fountain.
"Look out!" Harry screamed but it didn't matter. Voldemort had fired another killing spell and the snake was ready to attack. Tilly wanted to look away but she found that she couldn't, her eyes drawn to the horrifying scene.
Suddenly, Fawkes the Phoenix swooped down, swallowing the green spell and bursting into flames. His original form fell to the ground, seemingly unharmed. Dumbledore swung his wand, sending the snack into the air where it vanished in a puff of smoke. In the fountain, the water rose, surrounding Voldemort.
For a moment, nothing happened as Voldemort struggled to remove himself from the trap. . . . And then he was gone again, the water splashing back into the fountain and onto the floor. Bellatrix's scream echoed through the Atrium because she was sure, like they were, that Voldemort had run away.
Tilly loosened her arms from around Harry and he moved into a crouch, ready to run out from behind their hiding place. Dumbledore turned on them and even from where they were, Tilly could see the outright fear in his eyes. She wrapped her arms back around Harry as the Headmaster yelled, "Stay where you are!"
Tilly looked around but she couldn't tell what Dumbledore could possibly be so afraid of. The room was empty, Voldemort nowhere to be seen. They needed to get out of here and get the students back to –
Harry yelled and Tilly heard no more.
The pain that over took her was incredible, evil, and a small lucid part of her brain knew that it was coming from where her arms were wrapped around Harry. She tried to pull away, but she couldn't budge, as if Harry were gripping onto her. She thought she might have vaguely heard voices but she couldn't be sure. The only thing she could be aware of was the pain, taking over her body, stealing her strength and the very core of her, her magic.
She opened her eyes but all she could see was red.
For a second her thoughts became clear again but it was only to have one clear thought –
She was going to die.
Then suddenly, as quick as it came, the pain left. Whatever was holding her let go and she fell, crashing against the ground. She lay there a long time trying to breathe and finding it painful, her chest constricted, fading in and out of consciousness.
"Tilly!" someone yelled, their voice coming to her as if through a tunnel. Fingers, ice cold, pressed against her forehead. Above her, someone murmured, "She's burning up."
Someone took her broken wrist and she felt the end of a wand tap against it, fixing it before giving it a gentle squeeze.
"I'm afraid things are much more complicated than I originally feared."
Tilly blinked and for a moment, her vision cleared. She saw red hair, blue eyes, a relieved smile that she managed to return. Charlie slid his hands under her, pulling her up so that she was sitting straight. She twisted her wrist, glad to see it wasn't hurting any longer. "I need you to stop scaring me."
She shook her head, looking around the Atrium. She saw the Minister, who was incredibly frantic, and a few other important members of the staff, along with news reporters. Dumbledore kneeled in front of her, Remus to the left of him. She cast around another glance, before she looked to Dumbledore. "Where's Harry?"
"I've sent him on ahead to my office," Dumbledore reassured her, a slight smile on his face though his eyes had lost their normal glitter. "He is completely fine but I'm afraid I have some things to discuss with him. . . ."
"What happened, Professor?" she asked him. "What was that?"
Dumbledore sighed. "There are some things you must know as well, Tilly, some things that have just recently come to light, but we won't discuss them here. I will call upon you sooner, rather than later. Mr. Weasley will ensure you are safely returned home, I'm sure."
With a nod to Charlie and Remus, Dumbledore strode off, walking through one of the fireplaces. Tilly watched him leave, confused, but, if there was one thing Tilly knew about Albus Dumbledore it was that when he promised to explain things, he would.
Charlie helped her stand and she looked to Remus. The older man looked sad, depressed and Tilly realized that he had lost his last true friend, what with Peter Pettigrew becoming the rat he really was. She wanted to say she was sorry but she knew that no matter of apologies would console her if she ever lost Charlie or Tonks. . . . "Tonks," she murmured, looking up at her boyfriend.
He nodded. "She has to go to St. Mungo's for a bit but she's fine. Last I heard, Marguerite was tending to all the Order members who were injured."
That's good, she thought. Marguerite Baudelaire was the best healer she knew and could fix anything. Her friends were in good hands. Charlie took her hand, squeezing it. "Let's go home."
"Wait." Tilly moved back to Remus, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. He stiffened surprised but she felt him relent, hugging her back. She thought he might be trying not to cry as he held on to her. When they let go of each other, he gave her a slight smile, which she returned. "Are you going to be okay? Would you like to come with us? I hate for you to be alone."
He seemed touched by her kindness but he shook his head. "Thank you, but I think I'll just go home."
"You should go visit Tonks," she suggested. "She would really like to see you."
Remus nodded and Tilly reached forward to squeeze his hand. "If you need anything, send in owl."
Tilly gave him a small smile before she let Charlie lead to the Floos.
When they stepped through fireplace into Tilly's apartment, Charlie picked her up, cradling her against him as he walked towards her room. "What are you doing?" she murmured, smiling up at him.
"Taking care of you," he told her. "Next time you do something stupid like that, Tilly Riddle, I'm going to strangle you myself."
Tilly laughed softly, placing her head against her shoulder. "It's a date."
Charlie laid her on the bed before crawling over to lie next to her. They faced each other, Charlie reaching over to brush her hair out of her face, his expression serious. "I could have lost you."
"I could have lost you too," Tilly told him, closing her eyes. "But we're still here."
"And what about next time?"
"We don't know, but life is too short to worry about things like that."
"Life is too short. . . ." Charlie fell silent and Tilly thought maybe he had fallen asleep. "Marry me."
Her eyes shot open. Charlie had propped his head up on his hand and he was watching her, eyes intent. She sat up. "What did you just say?"
"I asked you to –"
"I heard the first time."
"Then why did you –"
"This isn't funny, Charlie."
He sat up as well. "I wasn't joking. I'm serious."
Tilly's mind was reeling, her face flushed. Hadn't she just had a talk about this similar situation with Tonks not too long ago? Had the two of them talked? "Not long ago you said the only thing you'd ever marry would be one of your dragons."
"Yes well, I found someone I care about more."
"What changed your mind?"
Charlie placed his hand over his heart, pretending to pout but Tilly could see the trace of hurt in his eyes. "I starting to think you actually don't want to marry me."
"No, I mean, yes, of course I do!" she reassured him. "Of course, I want to marry you Charlie Weasley. I just want to make sure you're sure. I mean, after all, you work so far away and I know how much you love Romania and your dragons and –"
"You talk too much," Charlie murmured before he took her face in his hands and kissed her.
That had a nice ring to it.
A/N: HEY! So what do you think? I'm finally finished with this scene. Everything going on with Tilly will be explained next chapter, I promise. Thanks for reading!