The Eye of the Storm
Filius fired a jinx directly at Travers, knocking him out instantly, and whirled around to find another opponent. The lawn was strewn with the dead and injured of both sides, but it made him sick to see that mostly, they were those who were defending the castle. He saw Susan Bones dueling two Death Eaters at once, and ran to her aid. Then the horrible sound came.
He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named could have been directly next to him; in fact, Filius looked around, momentarily startled. The voice crept down the back of his neck, and the sudden cessation of movement, the stopping of spells, all across the sprawling lawn, told him that everyone was experiencing the echoing, terrible voice that coiled its way through the air. “You have fought valiantly. Lord Voldemort knows how to value bravery.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Filius saw the two Death Eaters who had been fighting Susan exchange a glance—without a word, they began running towards the forest—but Filius was frozen in place, unable to move. The cold voice was still speaking. “Yet you have sustained heavy losses. If you continue to resist me, you will all die, one by one. I do not wish this to happen. Every drop of magical blood spilled is a lost and a waste.” Filius, under the cold that had seized him, felt anger bubble up at the lie. “Lord Voldemort is merciful. I command my forces to retreat immediately.”
This was true—everywhere, Filius could see Death Eaters and hired killers fleeing the castle, disappearing into the dark forest. “You have one hour. Dispose of your dead with dignity. Treat your injured.” Filius felt his stomach give a lurch.
“I speak now, Harry Potter, directly to you. You have permitted your friends to die for you rather than face me yourself. I shall wait for one hour in the Forbidden Forest. If, at the end of that hour, you have not come to me, have not given yourself up, then battle recommences.”
Filius saw Susan Bones drop to her knees, burying her head in her arms; she had burst into tears. He hurried over to comfort her. “It's all right,” he promised. “Come now—are you hurt?”
“No,” she whispered quietly, and she raised a shaking hand to point to a stretch of lawn some fifty yards away. “But—”
“This time,” the evil voice continued, high and cruel, “I shall enter the fray myself, Harry Potter, and I shall find you, and I shall punish every last man, woman, and child who has tried to conceal you from me.” Susan gave a little moan, and Filius patted her back, though he had to choke back a surge of bile in his throat.
The voice was gone, and the air seemed to fill again with sound—or, rather, with silence. The screams, bangs, and explosions had stopped. A few crickets chirped in the night air, under the sprawling blanket of stars that dangled overhead. Filius swallowed hard. “Miss Bones, I want you to go—”
“Professor Sprout is hurt! And—and Ernie, and Hannah—and Colin Creevey!” Susan burst out. “Please, Professor, you've got to help them—they're over there—with Firenze, he's wounded too—”
“Professor, can I help?” Bill Weasley, who was sopping wet but apparently unharmed, came trotting up to Susan.
“Yes, Mr. Weasley, we're going to take as many wounded as we can back to the Great Hall,” Flitwick said, businesslike, but trying to mask the fear in his own voice. “Would you assist Miss Bones? I will begin supplying stretchers for the injured and find out what Madam Pomfrey requires of us.”
Bill nodded once. He knelt before Susan. “You're all right?” he asked kindly, and she nodded. “It's going to be fine. Let's see about getting you some help, and then—”
“I can do whatever Madam Pomfrey needs,” Susan interrupted stoutly, getting to her feet. She wiped her tears away. “I'm fine.”
Filius patted her back. “Good girl. I must see to the wounded. You two should get inside and rally all the help you can find.”
The Great Hall was loud, full of crying and horror-struck faces. Pain seemed to be a part of the air. Everyone who was uninjured, or, at least, treated enough that they could work, were bringing in the injured and dead from the lawn and the rest of the castle. Terry swallowed hard; this was the career path he had always wanted—to heal. But he had never thought that his first patients would be his friends. He looked down at Hannah Abbott, who lay unmoving on the stretcher being carried into the hall by two adult wizards. “Is she—?”
“Just wounded,” said the taller of the two, who was bald, black, and had a very slow, deep, reassuring voice, even in the midst of chaos. “Her ankle seems to be broken, but that's it.”
“Over there,” Terry said, pointing to the area where the Slytherin table usually stood. Madam Pomfrey's first project had been to begin removing the House tables and arranging cots up and down the Great Hall. “Padma or I will see to her.” The wizard nodded once, not questioning for a moment the triage decision of a seventeen-year-old. Terry was grateful. He looked at the next person entering the hall. The girl, Rose Zeller, was being carried by Jimmy Peakes, and because she was not on a stretcher, Terry felt his heart lurch.
“She's Stunned, she'll wake up any moment,” Jimmy said tersely.
“Slytherin table,” Terry said, his voice hoarse. Jimmy nodded and carried Rose away. Terry turned at looked at the hall. Already, the dead were being located. Fifteen bodies lay on the cots that occupied the space of the Gryffindor table. You-Know-Who had known how many had been killed, had known how many were taken out of the battle…
And Terry had still not seen Cho…
“We've got another dead,” said a sober voice. It was an Auror, who was carrying the body of a sixth year Slytherin girl. Terry nodded.
“Gryffindor,” he muttered, jerking his head. The Auror nodded once and lifted the girl more carefully against his chest before walking on down the aisle. Two more people, bearing a stretcher, followed him, and Terry reached out for one of them. “Parvati, are you okay?”
“It's just a cut,” Parvati said briskly, though the gash on her forehead was still oozing blood. “We need to help her.” She was holding one end of a stretcher; Padma held the other, and on it, totally unconscious, lay—
Padma cut him off. “Terry, she's hurt badly, we need to get her help.”
She was quite serious. Cho's right leg was plainly broken, but worst of all, it had been savagely torn apart, and the marks looked like…
“Greyback bit her,” Padma said. “He wasn't transformed, but she's losing blood.”
“Take her to Madam Pomfrey,” Terry insisted. “Hufflepuff—right there—” His heart was throbbing in his throat; Padma looked seriously at him.
“She's going to be okay,” she promised, and she and Parvati hurried away. Terry made a strangled noise.
And then, he heard one of the worst sounds he would ever encounter in his life. A man, was screaming horribly. Terry whirled around, along with every other head in the hall, and saw George Weasley breaking away from Angelina Johnson, who lay on the Hufflepuff table.
“FRED! FRED, NO!”
Terry looked around again and saw Percy Weasley walking slowly into the hall. In his arms lay Fred, unmoving and plainly—
“NO, FRED, NO—PLEASE!” George's screams were terrible; Terry had never heard a person make a sound like it. George caught Percy halfway in the door and they both sank to their knees. “FRED!”
“We've got to get him over here, George…come on,” Percy was saying faintly; he seemed to be in shock. Tears were streaming freely down his face. George refused to release Fred, and Terry knelt beside him.
“George—come on mate—”
“GET AWAY!” George roared, taking a swipe at Terry, who jumped back. This seemed to awaken something in Percy, who tightened his hold on Fred's body.
“There are more to help, George,” he said. “Come on—let's—”
“Mr. Boot—I need your help with some of the minor injuries,” said Madam Pomfrey, her hand descending on his shoulder. Her eyes lingered on the horrible scene. George clung to his twin's body, still screaming with sobs. Her chin trembled. “Get them with the others, and come help me.”
Terry nodded once and followed her. His heart seemed to be sinking under a horrible weight, but he could not let it break—not yet, not for Cho, nor Fred, nor anyone else with whom he had grown up, laughed, or cried. There was much more to come. And he had always wanted to heal.
When Pomona woke, the pain very nearly overwhelmed her. Every inch of her felt like it was on fire, but she pushed it back, forcing her vision to focus, and she saw Minerva standing over her. She was in the Great Hall, gazing up at the clear, starry ceiling, and from the sounds around her, she guessed that it had become a kind of makeshift hospital.
“I'm sorry, I know it hurts. I wouldn't have woken you if I didn't have to,” said Minerva in a voice constricted with emotion.
“That bad?” Pomona whispered. She didn't need the look of anguish on Minerva's face to know that it was.
“I'm supposed to give you this,” Minerva said, holding up a vial of a potion. “It'll put you to sleep and halt the damage until we're be able to get you the help you need.”
“Not yet,” Pomona begged. “Please, Minerva, is it over?”
Minerva pressed her lips together. “No,” she answered. “We have one hour. He's told Potter to come to the forest, alone.”
“Don't let him go,” Pomona said fiercely, but her eyes filled with tears as the pain mounted. She drew a shaky, shallow, painful breath.
“I will do my best, but I haven't yet seen him,” Minerva said. A keening, terrible wail echoed through the hall, and she closed her eyes for a moment, looking as distressed as Pomona felt.
“Who?” Pomona asked faintly.
Minerva's chin trembled. “Fred Weasley.” For a moment, Pomona wondered if she had misheard, but the look on Minerva's face was too heartbreaking to doubt. “And Remus Lupin,” Minerva continued, shuddering slightly. Her eyes were full of tears. “And—Pomona, I'm sorry—Nymphadora Tonks.”
“Oh, no,” she murmured. And the pain seized her again; she gasped and felt herself losing consciousness.
“You're going to be all right, Poppy is going to tend to you in just a moment,” Minerva said. “Will you please take the potion? Please?”
“Dolohov…I don't know…the curse,” Pomona murmured. Her vision was darkening.
“Poppy does,” Minerva insisted, her eyes shining with tears. “Please, Pomona. Please.”
Pomona nodded once, and Minerva tipped the potion into her mouth. Instantly, she began to feel heavy, and the pain started to recede…
Parvati looked up at Michael Corner, who had just mended the cut she had received on her forehead. He nodded at her. “You're all right to go and help,” he said.
“Thanks,” she replied. She, along with ten or so others, including Hannah Abbott and Alicia Spinnet, were seated on cots that filled the line normally occupied by the Slytherin table; they were hardly injured at all, and could be quickly put back to work. Indeed, Alicia was already on her way over to help Oliver Wood and Neville Longbottom with the body of a girl. Parvati did not want to know who it was. She looked around anxiously. Where was Lavender?
She turned; Dean stood a few feet away, looking positively exhausted. “You're all right,” she said, stepping forward and giving him a hug.
“You too,” he said. “Nice jinx back there, with those two Death Eaters. You really helped me out.”
Parvati shook her head. “You would've done it for me.” Dean gave her a faint smile. “Listen, have you seen Lavender? I'm—I'm kind of—worried…” She swallowed a lump in her throat, and Dean shook his head, looking equally upset.
“I haven't, but—y'know, there are a lot of people out in the castle, helping—she's probably with them,” he said reassuringly.
“Right,” Parvati said.
Dean cleared his throat. “I—um, I'd better go see what I can do.”
“Yeah,” she replied. “Be careful.”
“You too.” And Dean was gone, hurrying back up the aisle. Parvati sighed heavily and looked around again for Lavender, for Padma, for some indication that anyone else she loved was safe. As she watched the door nervously, she saw, with a thrill of painful happiness, Harry, walking into the Great Hall. Ron and Hermione followed him. She started towards them, wanting to tell Harry—what, precisely? That they were going to keep fighting? That he shouldn't believe You-Know-Who? She came to a sudden stop. All three of them had their eyes on Ron's family, who were gathered around Fred's body. A chill stole over her. Now led by Ron, Harry and Hermione walked slowly, as though drawn by some supernatural force, towards the family.
Ron's mother lay across Fred's body, sobbing; his father looked as though he didn't know what to do or say. All of Ron's brothers, and Fleur Delacour, who held her arm around a softly sobbing Ginny, were gathered around. But the worst was seeing George's face. He stared blankly straight ahead, his face glazed with tears. He was not in the Great Hall. He was not in Hogwarts. He was somewhere far, far away. Even the idea of what was going through his mind was like a knife in Parvati's stomach.
“I can't imagine what he's feeling.”
Parvati turned suddenly; Padma stood right behind her, her eyes full of tears. She threw her arms around her sister's neck. Tears burned her eyes. “I love you, Padma.”
There was a moment of silence, and Padma sniffled miserably into Parvati's shoulder. “I love you too,” she cried.
After a few minutes, they broke apart, wiping their eyes. Parvati smiled slightly and tucked a strand of hair behind her sister's ear. “You're okay? Do you need my help? How's Anthony?”
Padma nodded, but she looked unusually grave. “He's fine—but—”
Parvati's stomach dropped. “What?”
Padma drew a breath, and more tears filled her eyes. “Par, I've got something you need to see.” She took Parvati's hand. “Come with me.”
With a terrible sense of foreboding, Parvati followed her sister down the aisle of cots, to the critically injured area. She saw Professor Sprout, being tended to by a tall witch with white hair; Professor McGonagall staunching blood from a wound on Firenze's leg; Professor Trelawney, working her wand over Lucy Finch, a Muggle-born Gryffindor, who was far too young to be here, and whose legs had been crushed by something; Susan Bones, leaning tenderly over Ernie Macmillan, her eyes full of tears; Angelina Johnson, who was sitting up, her arm bandaged, but she was crying uncontrollably. Katie Bell held one arm around her shoulders.
Padma stopped suddenly, blocking Parvati's view of the next cot. Parvati frowned. “She—she keeps thinking that I'm you—I—I thought—” And she stepped aside. Lavender lay on the cot, positively white in the gleaming light of the starry ceiling. Vicious, bloody wounds slashed half of her face, her neck, her right arm, and even part of her leg. Parvati dropped to her knees beside the cot. Lavender's eyes were closed.
“She'll be all right,” Padma said softly, kneeling next to her. She reached under the cot and produced a bottle of green ointment and a small piece of cloth. “Madam Pomfrey says there'll be scars, and that she'll need a Blood-Replenishing Potion until we can get her to St. Mungo's, but she's going to be okay.”
And Parvati raised her hands, running her fingers through her long hair, which had come free of its plait entirely. She tried to take a deep breath, looking between Lavender's face and Padma's, and then she burst into tears, covering her face with her hands. She wept uncontrollably, unable to stop herself. She felt Padma pull her into her arms, and she sobbed into her sister's shoulder. But, after a few minutes, Padma grabbed her shoulders. Parvati sniffled, staring at her. Her expression was fierce. “Parvati, that's enough,” she said, with only the slightest quaver in her voice. “We're running out of time. Do you want to help Lavender?”
Parvati drew a shaky breath and nodded. Padma pressed the ointment and handkerchief into her hands. “Apply this, very gently, to the wounds. She might wake up, because it stings, but I've told her it's the best thing for them.”
Parvati nodded. “Okay.”
“I'm off to help Madam Pomfrey,” Padma continued.
Parvati nodded again and watched her sister go. Then she turned to Lavender, who was breathing lightly, obviously asleep. Parvati felt bad for disturbing her rest. She tipped the bottle of ointment over on the handkerchief, and very gently began daubing the strong-smelling medicine on the deep cuts that tracked down the right side of Lavender's face, onto her neck. She was lucky her throat hadn’t been cut, from the looks of it.
Immediately, Lavender reacted. She had not been sleeping very deeply. She gave a sudden shudder, like she had felt a chill, and her eyes opened. “That's you, right, Parvati?” she whispered. Parvati gave her a faint smile and nodded. Lavender sighed, wincing as she continued to apply the ointment. “Tell Padma I'm sorry for getting you confused.”
She gave a slight snort. “It’s not the first time it's ever happened, Lav.”
Lavender reached out her uninjured arm and took Parvati's wrist. “You've been crying.”
She squeezed her eyes shut. “I couldn't help it,” she said. “I—I thought you were—”
Lavender sighed again. “Well, I'm not,” she promised. She met Parvati's eyes. “I'm all right, okay?”
“Okay,” Parvati replied, holding her hand tightly. “I'm going to keep putting this medicine on, all right? Just try to relax.”
“You try relaxing like this,” Lavender joked weakly. But her eyes filled with tears, so she closed them quickly, clenching her jaw. “Okay, I'm ready.”
“I want to see him,” Angelina whispered, her shoulders shaking as she cried into Katie's neck.
“No, Ange, you don't, not right now,” Katie said soothingly. Her eyes flickered over to the heartbreaking scene in the middle of the Gryffindor table; Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were both crying together. George seemed to be comatose. He was slumped against the wall, stony-faced. Ginny sat near Fred's head, smoothing his hair gently as she gazed down at his white face. Ron, who was holding tightly to Hermione's hand, was gazing down at the two bodies nearest Fred. Katie frowned, craning her neck. She was quite shocked to see that one of them was Professor Lupin; she swallowed a lump that rose in her throat. The other was a pretty young woman with vibrantly pink hair.
Katie wondered, for a moment, where Harry was, and a wave of fear rose in her.
“Ouch,” Angelina moaned, and Katie realized that she had tightened her grip on her shoulders too much.
“Sorry,” she said, pushing away the fear; neither Ron nor Hermione would have let Harry go anywhere near the forest. He was probably helping track down the injured, she told herself. She returned her attention to Angelina. “Do you need to lie down?”
“No,” murmured Angelina. She was shockingly pale and obviously disorientated, but she tried to stand up, clutching her bandaged arm to her body. “I—I need to see Fred—I need to talk to George—”
“Okay, okay, I've got you,” Katie told her. She had swayed dangerously, and Katie caught her just in time. “Come lie down, you need a Blood-Replenishing Potion before you get up…”
“George should've gone with him…should've left me,” Angelina said, her tears spilling over again.
“If he'd done that,” Katie began, almost choking on the words in her throat, “If he'd done that, Fred could still have been killed, and so could George, and so could you…”
“I'm so sorry, George,” Angelina whispered, and Katie bit her lip, hard, to stop from crying.
“How is she?”
Katie looked up and saw Alicia kneeling down on the other side of Angelina's cot. “She wants to see George…and Fred.”
Alicia nodded, smoothing back Angelina's hair. “Angie, can you hear me, darling?”
“Alicia,” she moaned. “It's my fault…George should've left me…”
Alicia sighed heavily. “Close your eyes, all right? Try to rest…” Angelina went quiet, but Alicia continued to hold her hand. Her chin trembled.
“I had no idea,” Katie said softly.
Alicia nodded and sniffed, wiping her nose on her sleeve. “Forever. You wouldn't believe how upset she was when—when Fred asked her out, because George was afraid…”
Katie reached out and placed her hand over Alicia's. “Where's Oliver?”
“He's all right. He's helping with bringing in the wounded,” said Alicia, wiping a tear away.
There was a sudden shifting movement behind her, and Katie looked around. Ginny Weasley stood at the end of Angelina's cot, her face tearstained and red. She gave a hearty sniff. “Ginny,” Katie said, rising and embracing her. “I'm so sorry.” She felt Ginny nod.
After a moment, she drew back. “I was wondering if there was something I can help with.”
Katie bit her lip. “Are you sure?”
Ginny nodded again. “My parents are—they're with George. My brother and his wife are helping. I should too.” Her eyes lingered over Angelina again. “How is she?”
“She'll be all right,” Alicia said. “Do you want to stay here, and help us with the injured?”
Katie could see in her face that Ginny had no desire to stay in the Great Hall any longer than she had to; she could not blame her. “Or Oliver's working out on the lawn.”
Ginny nodded. “I can help there.”
Angelina had woken up, and Katie knelt beside her again. “It's all right, Angelina…”
“Ginny, I'm so sorry,” said Angelina fervently, trying to sit up. “I—It was my fault—”
Ginny knelt beside Katie and placed a gentle hand on Angelina's shoulder. There were tears in her eyes. “You brought back one of my brothers for me, Angelina. It's—it's not fair…but at least it's one…” her voice shook, “And you're all right.”
“I'm okay, Oliver,” Angelina said sleepily, clinging to Ginny’s hand.
Katie looked up at Oliver, whose features were inexpressibly exhausted as Alicia embraced him. She put an arm around Ginny. “Oliver, Ginny wants to help.”
Oliver didn't bat an eye. “Right. Well, we've still got some people waiting out on the lawn for help. You want to come with me?”
Ginny looked at Katie, who nodded encouragingly. “I'll be along as soon as I get Angelina the potion she needs.”
“Me too,” Alicia promised, and Ginny nodded, rising.
“Let's get some blankets,” Oliver told Ginny. “Neville's out there waiting for me.” She hurried after him, and Katie sank down beside Angelina's cot again. She gave her a faint smile, which Angelina only half-returned. Alicia, however, remained standing for a moment, before she seemed to shake out of a reverie and return her attention to Angelina.
“Do you want to go with Oliver?” Katie asked, and Alicia shook her head, taking hold of Angelina's hand again. Katie touched her arm. “Go with him. I'll look after this one.”
“No,” Alicia said softly, but Angelina's eyes opened, and she frowned at Alicia.
“Alicia, go,” she said. “Katie's with me. I'll be all right—one of us should be looking after our—” she broke off, looking confused. “Just go.”
Alicia smiled at her. “I'll come back.”
“You'd better,” Angelina said indignantly, and Katie chuckled.
“We'll see you in a bit,” she said to Alicia, who finally smiled and got up, hurrying after Oliver.
Katie turned back to Angelina, who was slipping out of consciousness again. She glanced up for a moment, heaving a sigh, and she caught the eye of Seamus Finnigan, who was a few cots away, helping another of the wounded. Katie smiled feebly at him, and he nodded. Then her view was obstructed; Hermione Granger, looking very shaken beneath many half-healed burns that covered her face, had approached Angelina's cot and sank down, looking at Katie.
“Hi,” Katie said kindly.
Hermione gave a tight smile. “Is she all right?”
“Fine,” Katie promised, with an assuring nod. She looked over at the Weasley family. “How are they?”
Hermione shook her head, and blinked hard. “I don't know. Percy's gone to help, with Bill—and Fleur. Their parents are—” She broke off and sighed, staring off into space for a moment.
Katie bit her lip. “Where's Harry, Hermione?”
“He's over there, with Remus and—wait,” Hermione said, and a look of horror filled her face; Katie felt her stomach drop. Hermione leapt to her feet and looked around the Great Hall. “Oh, no—no, no, no! Ron!”
Ron, who had just been helping a younger student sit up and take a drink of some potion, looked up at Hermione. He seemed to know instantly what was happening. He got up, ran over, seized Hermione's hand, and together they ran from the Great Hall. Katie's heart was pounding. She looked down at Angelina's watch, which she held. Fifteen minutes to go.