Playing With Fire

Chapter 29

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

Tilly turned back around, the feeling of her heart threatening to burst from her chest but still they sprinted up the stairs. In front of them the sounds of battle grew louder. Tilly caught a glimpse of Ginny and Hermione before they moved, battling with someone else. A shot of guilt ran through her heart at the thought of bringing this crazed werewolf into the battle.

She stopped then, looking back to the stairs, her wand at ready. She thought she heard Tonks cry her name before she was pulled into battle. Fenrir appeared at the top of the stairs. He grinned at her again before he sniffed the air and, over the fighting he said two words. Tilly couldn't hear them but she read it on his lips which were pulled back into that awful grin.

"Fresh . . . meat."

He charged towards her and fear shook her hands as she fired off spells that she could recall. Never in her life had she been so terrified, not on a broom, not at the Department of Mysteries. Somehow this all seemed so much more real.

Someone knocked her shoulder hard, sending her to the ground. Her fingers smashed hard on the stone floor, still clutched around her wand and she thought she felt them crack. She bit her tongue as well, tasted blood in her mouth. She looked up and saw Severus Snape running past her, long fingers wrapped around the wrist of a very frightened looking Draco Malfoy.

Tilly tried to scuttle backwards as Fenrir's feet appeared in her vision. His hands, his claws gripped her shirt and pulled her to her feet and then to her toes. He pulled her close, sniffing her hair. "You're going to taste delicious."

He opened his mouth wide, revealing his fangs. At that point Tilly couldn't even scream.

But then he dropped her. She landed on her side and was able to see as Fenrir rushed forward, diving at Harry who had seemingly appeared out of nowhere. He knocked the boy onto the ground, teeth snapping towards his throat.

Tilly scrambled to her feet, transferring her wand to her left hand when she realized the fingers of her right were unmovable. It was awkward but still she pointed it in Fenrir's direction. "Petrificus Totalus!"

Fenrir collapsed and Harry pushed the werewolf off of him, running in the direction she had seen Snape heading. "Harry!" she cried out. It always seemed she was running after that boy.

She saw him stumble past two boys and she followed, trying not to think about the bloody footsteps she was leaving. A spell shot over her head, and she turned to see Tonks fighting a big, blond Death Eater who she recognized as Thorfinn Rowle and who was shooting spells off haphazardly. One ricocheted off a wall, heading towards Tonks. Tilly threw up a shield in front of her friend, blocking a curse. The big oaf turned in her direction just as a spell hit him in the face. He stumbled, yelling before he ran after Amycus and Alecto Carrow.

Harry followed.

Tilly cursed aloud, not caring in the slightest that her Aunt Minnie stood so close, before she took after Harry. It seemed she always got into trouble running after that boy but she couldn't help herself. Her need to protect him at that moment was greater than her want to get away from the castle. Charlie was supposed to be coming to England this evening. She wanted nothing more but to go to her apartment where he'd be waiting for her and have him wrap her up in his arms and keep her safe. . . .

But for now there was Harry and he was the one she needed to keep safe, just like before, just like in the Department of Mysteries.

And this time she would not fail.

She followed bloody footprints headed for the front door and heard the slap of trainers on the ground and she sped after them. She tried to remember the secret passage ways she, Charlie, and Tonks used to speed through and she dashed through one. She saw more footprints and realized Harry must have gone this way as well. She skipped over the vanishing step, remembering the one time Tonks had gotten her leg stuck in there.

She came out from underneath a tapestry into hallway filled with Hufflepuffs. "Which way –!"

One boy pointed in the direction of the marble staircase and she hurried in that direction, jumping the last three steps, thanking Merlin that she didn't fall, and she barreled out the oak doors. She could see Harry in front, following after three shadowy figures. Lights lit the sky and Tilly realized that they were headed for Hagrid's cabin or already there.

She glimpsed over her shoulder as Amycus and Alecto Carrow appeared behind her. Amycus raised his wand as she turned to face them, protect Harry, and his spell hit her in her stomach, knocking her off her feet. Her back hit the ground as Alecto fired a spell at Harry hitting him in the back and sending him flying forward.

Tilly hopped to her feet and raised her wand just as Harry rolled onto his back, yelling, "Impedimenta!"

Harry's spell hit Amycus and Tilly's hit Alecto. That combined made the siblings crash into each, falling to the ground. Tilly hurried forward, grabbing Harry's arm and yanking him to his feet. There was blood flowing from his nose but otherwise he didn't look worse for wear. "Come on, we –"

"Snape!" Harry growled and he tore away from her, running after the people in front of them.

Cursing once more, Tilly took off after him. She saw Hagrid fighting against that Rowle and she hurried in that direction as Harry ran towards Snape, yelling, "Stupefy!"

"Hagrid!" Tilly yelled, pointing her wand at Rowle but before she could fire at him he shouted, "Incendio!"

Hagrid's house went up in a flash of flames. Hagrid yelled in fury, "Fang's in there, yer evil –!"

A few feet in front of her, Harry was angrily dueling Snape. Rowle turned in Harry's direction and Tilly shot of a spell that hit his arm. With a shout he turned towards her and their duel begin. He was a reckless man that was sure. It was all Tilly could do to block his wild hexes and jinxs with the use of her awkward left hand. One spell broke through her hastily thrown up barrier and the other knocked her back off her feet.

She crawled painfully to her knees and she heard Harry yell, "Impedi –"

And then he started to scream.

Rowle had his wand pointed at Harry, a big horrifying grin on his face. Harry lay twisted on the ground in obvious pain. "HARRY!" Tilly screamed, pushing herself up and hurrying in that direction.

"No!" Snape roared all the sudden and Rowle lifted his wand. "Have you forgotten our orders? Potter belongs to the Dark Lord – we are to leave him! Go! Go!"

Tilly stood frozen as Rowle rushed away.

Snape?

What – what was going on?

Harry yelled in anger, getting to his feet and stumbling toward Snape. "Sectum –!"

But Snape flicked his wand and repelled the curse. Harry moved closer, his wand raised, his face screwed up with anger, pain, and concentration. Snape screamed, "No, Potter!"

With a loud BANG, Harry came soaring backward. Tilly stumbled to him as Snape approached him from the other way. "You dare use my own spells against me, Potter? It was I who invented them – I, the Half-Blood Prince! And you'd turn my inventions on me, like your filthy father, wold you? I don't think so . . . no!"

He shot a hex as Harry dived for his wand, knocking it away from him and leveling his wand at Harry again.

"Don't you dare!" Tilly shouted raising her wand, knowing that she didn't have much of a chance with a working wand hand, let alone using her left. Sure enough she found herself knocked back off her feet again and Snape hovered over Harry.

"Kill me then," Harry panted as Tilly pushed herself up. "Kill me like you killed him, you coward –"

"DON'T CALL ME A COWARD!" With that last yell he slashed his wand through the air and something gold slashed across Harry's face, knocking him back to the ground.

"NO!" Tilly screamed but it could barely be heard as a Hippogriff flew over her head towards Snape. Her old professor stumbled backwards as the hippogriff screeched loud and with fury. Tilly ran forward as Snape ran to the school boundaries. Her wand out she fired spells at him, trying to stop him knowing this is what Harry had been trying to do. Who had Snape killed?

But Snape reached the boundaries and with a look of contempt in her direction, he Apparated. The hippogriff turned in Tilly's direction and she froze. Hippogriffs, Hippogriffs . . . what the bloody hell had Charlie told her about Hippogriffs?

Taking a deep breath, trying to remain calm on the outside, she bowed, never taking her eyes off the enormous beast. He watched for a minute and then he bowed too. Hesitantly Tilly reached forward and placed her hand gently on his head, his feather's soft against her fingers. "You were trying to protect him too, huh?"

"HAGRID!" Harry yelled behind her and she spun around, saw him staring at the burning house in horror. The hippogriff bucked onto his back legs and Tilly ran to the cabin, ready to rush in if need be even if she had no clue on how she would help Hagrid get out of there.

But there was no need. Hagrid came out soon after with Fang over his shoulders. Harry sunk to his knees with shuttering breaths. Tilly rushed up to him, placing her hands on his shoulders. "Harry?"

"Yeh all righ', Harry? Yeh all righ'? Speak ter me, Harry?" Fang nudged Harry and the boy put his hand out, brushing the dog's fur.

Finally he looked up at Hagrid and at Tilly and nooded. "I'm all right. Are you?"

"Course I am. Take more'n that ter finish me." Hagrid reached down and lifted Harry up as if he weighed nothing before setting him back down on the ground.

Tilly sighed, looking back to Hagrid's house. "We should put out your house."

She raised her wand, muttering "Aquamenti". Water spilled out, splashing against the flames. Next to her, Hagrid and Harry did the same until all the flames were extinquished.

"S'not too bad," Hagrid said with that smile of his. "Nothin' Dumbledore won' be able to put righ'."

Tilly looked down to Harry who was staring off in the direction of the castle. "Hagrid . . ." he murmured.

Hagrid was talking about bowtruckles as Tilly slowly pulled the world together around her. Harry had said Snape killed someone. Killed who? Why was he with the Death Eaters? Why did he try to hurt Harry? Where –

Tilly turned back to Harry gripping his wrist with her good hand. "Harry . . . where's Dumbledore?"

Harry looked up at her, panic in his green eyes. "He . . . Tilly, he killed. . ."

"Killed?" Hagrid practically yelled. "Snape killed? What're yeh on abou' Harry?"

"Dumbledore," Harry said. "Snape killed . . . Dumbledore."

Just like that, the world seemed to snap into two. Her feet started moving towards the castle with Hagrid and Harry following behind her. Hagrid wouldn't hear it and she couldn't blame him. Snape had been an ally, a confidante, part of the Order. . . .

Dumbledore couldn't be dead. Snape couldn't have killed him.

But then they reached the castle and students were starting to come outside in their pajamas and dressing gowns. They were all huddling around something on the ground. She, Harry, and Hagrid moved forward to the front of the crowd.

He could have been sleeping, her old, kind, Headmaster. She remembered him always offering a kind word and she remembered thinking how strange it was that he knew her name and that he watched over her as much as her Aunt Minnie and Marguerite did. Now he couldn't. He wouldn't be able to watch over her or Harry or anyone anymore. There wouldn't be any more kind words or candy offerings.

Dumbledore was dead.


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