Harry’s group reached the top of the staircase and peaked down the long hallway. When they saw no one around they quietly began walking down the stone corridor.
“Where are we heading?” Shacklebolt whispered.
Kathryn shrugged, “I was following you.”
Shacklebolt rolled his eyes and looked at Harry. Harry was looking around with a contemplative expression.
“Harry?” he asked.
“This looks familiar,” Harry whispered.
“Really,” Kathryn asked with her eyebrows disappearing into her bangs, “Where?”
“In a book I’ve read,” he looked and saw a closed door. He walked over and slowly turned the handle. He opened the door enough to look in, “All clear,” he said and entered.
They quickly closed the door behind them and looked around the room. Harry knew instantly where he was. They were in Regulus’ old room from what Harry saw in his vision in the diary.
“I know where we are,” he said, “Follow me.”
They exited the room and Harry confidently led them through the hallways. Suddenly there was a sound of running steps and voices. The three of them quickly ducked into a small room just before two men raced past their hiding spot.
“They’re in the cellar!”
“How’d they get in?”
“Who cares now!”
Harry, who was peeking out the crack of the almost closed door, saw the two men race around the corner and out of sight. He careful listened as he opened the door.
He nodded back to the other two, “I think the battle’s started.”
Harry had no idea how right he was.
After separating from him, Hermione with Ron and Charlie entered the basement level. Hermione shivered, as the basement must have been just barely above freezing.
“It’s cold,” she whispered and her breath could be seen.
“Let’s keep moving,” Charlie said, “We need to find some of the others. Also, when we find any Death Eaters, just incapacitate them, don’t kill them unless you have no other option.”
Ron and Hermione nodded and the three, with wands at the ready walked down the corridor. There was no sound heard save the breathing from the three.
“Are we sure about this?” Ron asked, “This place seems like a tomb.”
“It is,” Charlie said looking into a room.
Hermione gasped and Ron’s jaw dropped at the sight of three covered coffins. The coffins were set into crevasses in the wall as one would find in a crypt. A sheet covered each casket with the Dark Mark boldly shown upon it. They looked for some sort identification for whose coffins they were, but found none.
“They must have been Death Eaters,” Charlie said, “Or someone particularly important to Voldemort.”
Who they were they never found out. A scuff was heard at the door and they turned and were staring at a dark clad figure staring at them in total shock.
“McNair,” Charlie breathed recognizing the man.
McNair quickly turned and ran before they could act. They raced after him and heard him shout.
Hermione was able to act first, “Incarcerous!”
Magical ropes exploded out and ensnared McNair he fell to the ground still at a running pace and hit his head on the ground knocking himself out. They caught up to him and Charlie grabbed the man and quickly dragged him into a small storage closet.
“Silencio,” Hermione said again and the unconscious man was rendered speechless.
Ron looked at her and she shrugged, “Can’t hurt,” she said.
“Quickly,” Charlie said closing the closet door, “We need to find the others.”
They didn’t get five steps before the second round of Death Eaters arrived as a result of McNair’s shouting.
Fortunately for the three, and unfortunately for the Death Eaters, a giant stepped in to help. With a quick swing of his arm, Hagrid brought down the three Death Eaters cold.
“Sorry I was late,” he said smiling, “I couldn’ta get a seat on the bus.”
They gave him a grim smile and looked around. However, it was the noise of spells being conjured that forced them into action. The four raced down a long hallway and skidded around the corner to find all hell had broken loose.
They found themselves at the entrance to a large room that looked as if were being used ceremoniously. There was a large altar in the center with three smaller altars near it. Next to them was a large cauldron big enough for a person Charlie’s size to fit in comfortably.
The stone pillar next to Charlie exploded from a spell hitting it and they took cover behind a large bookcase.
Hermione peered around the edge and saw many of the Aurors and The Order battling Voldemort’s Death Eaters. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were pinned down by, to Hermione’s surprise, Lucius and Draco Malfoy. A closer look and she also saw Narcissa behind them firing off spells at Tonk’s group. They were almost evenly matched for numbers, but the Death Eaters had the advantage of knowing the lay of the land.
“The Malfoy’s are on the left with three more Death Eaters,” Hermione said turning back to the group, “It looks like another half-dozen are on the far side of the room.”
Charlie turned to Hagrid, “Hagrid, can you find your way around and attack from the rear?”
“O’course,” the half-giant said and quickly, for a large man as he was, disappeared out the door.
“We should be able to sneak around to the left and help Mom and Dad,” Charlie said pointing to a smaller bookcase about twenty feet away, “This was not the best place to have a battle.”
“No kidding,” Ron said.
“Let’s go!” Hermione said and the three rushed towards the bookcase.
Ron looked and saw a Death Eater turn towards them and pointed his wand at him. Ron’s eyes widened in fear as a bright green light was shot towards him.
“At least it’s quiet up here,” Kathryn whispered.
“Too quiet,” came Kingsley’s equally soft reply.
They had been ducking out of sight of Death Eaters for the last ten minutes as Harry led them down the twisting hallways towards a destination that he alone knew. Harry felt the hair on the back of his neck rise up as he approached a large double-wooden door.
“He’s here,” he said.
Kathryn looked at Harry in confusion then in realization, “Where?”
Harry point wordlessly to the closed doors, “It almost feels like he’s waiting.”
Kathryn looked a little rebuffed, “Well then lets not keep the bastard waiting.”
“Is there another way in?” Kingsley asked Harry.
Harry nodded, “The other entrance is on this side of the room,” he pointing to his right, “But I don’t know how to get there.”
“Well if we headed down this w…,” Kingsley said and was interrupted by the two large doors opening.
“Please come in,” a voice said from inside.
They gripped their wands tightly and entered slowly.
“Thank you for dropping by,” the voice sounded again, “Although you were uninvited I should at least be a gracious host and offer you some comfort.”
Kathryn looked at Harry and saw her student’s eyes narrow. She immediately knew that she was about to meet Voldemort. Suddenly the doors slammed shut closing them in. They stopped and looked back at the closed doors then each other.
“Please have a seat.”
Three chairs leapt out at them and came to rest in front of them. They were facing towards a large throne, which Harry immediately recognized.
“Show yourself,” Harry said.
“Ahhhh, Harry Potter!” the voice spoke this time with more enthusiasm than before, “It is indeed an honor to see you again!”
Harry made a non-committal noise, which Kathryn took as Harry not believing his nemesis’ words. His enemy had also heard his snort.
“I’m insulted and disappointed Harry. Here I make an honest expression from myself and you toss it back as like a fisherman tossing back a rotten fish. I am very insulted.”
“You’ll get over it,” Harry quipped.
Voldemort laughed, “You are a cheeky boy now aren’t you?”
Inspite of the situation Kathryn nodded her head in agreement at Voldemort’s comment about Harry.
“Very well, I will show myself.”
They turned quickly at the sight of movement and Kathryn saw the body of the most evil wizard in history. His eyes glowed a fiery red and his movement was almost snake-like.
“Allow me to greet you personally,” he pulled back the hood and smiled at them with a cold dead smile, “As I said it is good to see you Harry,” he looked at the other two, “And you two as well. You are Kingsley Shacklebolt are you not?”
Kingsley merely nodded and Voldemort turned to Kathryn, “And you must be Kathryn Ryan. My apprentice Leon has described your beauty and your fiery red-hair to me on several occasions.”
Kathryn nodded once to him but inside was sickened. The thought that Filmier was describing her in any respect made her nauseous.
Voldemort held out his hand and indicated to the seats in front of him, “Please have a seat and let’s talk.”
The three didn’t move as Voldemort sat down in his throne. Voldemort smiled again at them.
“Please sit,” he said, “It’s rude to refuse my offer of hospitality.”
The three were suddenly grabbed by an unseen forced and roughly deposited into the chairs.
“There that’s better,” Voldemort said, “Now we can have a proper conversation.”
Suddenly there was the sound of a muted explosion and they looked around.
“Oh I see your friends don’t want to partake in my hospitality,” Voldemort said with false sadness, “Well I’m afraid they’ll have to die.”
Harry sprang up and pointed his wand at Voldemort. Voldemort’s arm shot up, with palm towards Harry and stopped the young man in his tracks.
“Don’t worry Harry,” the evil wizard said, “I can promise that they won’t suffer… much.”
With a flick of his wrist he sent Harry flying into Kathryn and Shacklebolt, knocking them down in a heap. They quickly struggled to their feet and looked back and saw the throne was empty and their quarry was gone.
“Backs to each other!” Kathryn said and the other two immediately responded, “What now Harry?” she whispered.
“Get out,” he whispered, “Both of you.”
“Now wait just a damn minute!” Kathryn spat, “We’re not leaving you here.”
“If you don’t you’ll die,” Harry whispered.
The three immediately dived away from each other and narrowly avoided the killing spell that left a small, blackened hole in the floor.
Harry and Kathryn rolled to their knees and dived behind a table. Kingsley dived behind a column. They were now in the fight of their life.
Ron braced for the spell but was knocked to the ground and grunted. He looked up and saw Hermione looking down at him.
“Come on move!”
They quickly scrambled up and behind the bookcase with Charlie.
“We can’t stay here too much longer,” Charlie said as he poked his head around the bookcase.”
As if on cue the upper part of the bookcase exploded sending splinters and dust over them.
Hermione peeked around the corner and let out a little grunt.
Ron turned to her, “What?”
She turned to them, “We can collapse the ceiling on them.”
Charlie gave a quick look, “We could, but we’ll need to hit the ceiling at different spots. It may not work, but it will give us a brief advantage, at least until Hagrid shows up.”
Ron and Hermione nodded and gripped their wands. Charlie started to countdown.
Harry and Kathryn leaned out from behind their cover and shot their spells at Voldemort.
Voldemort quickly moved to his left and right into Kingsley’s sights.
Voldemort froze in his tracks. Kathryn and Harry slowly came around from their cover, wands still pointed at him. Kingsley approached the evil wizard slowly.
A flash of green light and Kingsley was thrown backwards. Harry and Kathryn, caught off-guard hesitated before trying to retreat.
Both screamed in agony as the curse held them. Then suddenly they were released and fell to the ground gasping for breath. Then a low laugh sounded.
They looked up and saw Voldemort, wand pointed at them coming slowly towards them.
“Did you really think I wasn’t aware of your plans?” he said with a smile, “You are pathetic!”
He stopped and waved his wand again, “Crucio!”
They screamed again. Kathryn dropped her wand and fell down completely while Harry dropped to his knees. They were released again and Harry gasped for breath while Kathryn silently regained her wand.
Voldemort looked at Harry with his cold, red eyes, “And now you shall join your dead friend.”
Harry looked at Kingsley’s forever still form and his anger rose.
Both Harry and Kathryn rose up again. Voldemort with a flick of his wand sent Harry flying backwards and then he turned on Kathryn.
Kathryn screamed out in absolute agony as the power of the spell completely consumed her. The pain was beyond belief. Every fiber of her being was burning as if she had been set ablaze. Her vision was blurring and darkening. She knew she wasn’t going to survive.
Harry was struggling to clear the stars from his vision when she screamed. He looked at his mentor and saw the pain in her face and the tears from her eyes. He shook his head clear and rushed towards Voldemort, who saw him coming and promptly put Harry under the Cruciatus Curse. He released them a few moments later laughing with delight.
Voldemort raised his wand, “Now who should die first. The master?” he pointed his wand at Kathryn, “Or the apprentice?”
A low growl came from Harry’s throat.
“Well, it’s of no matter as you both will,” Voldemort smiled coldly, “Avada Kedavra!”
Harry’s wand came up, “Contego!”
The two spells met between Voldemort and Kathryn. Harry’s spell deflected the Killing Curse into the floor near Kathryn.
Harry didn’t give the evil wizard a chance to react, “Avada Kedavra!”
Voldemort looked wide-eyed at Harry before the life in his eyes faded away. His wand clattered as it hit the ground shortly before his body dropped to the ground with an empty sounding thud. Harry lowered his wand still breathing heavily. When the evil wizard didn’t stir as Harry rushed over to Kathryn and knelt down.
Kathryn had stopped crying and was now shivering. Harry knew it wasn’t because of the cold. The Cruciatus Curse Voldemort used on the two of them was powerful and appeared to affect Kathryn much more than Harry.
“Har-Harr-Harry,” she stuttered out, “Is he-he d-d-d-ead?
“Yes, Voldemort’s gone,” Harry said.
“N-n-n-ot him,” she said as Harry wrapped his cloak around her, “K-k-k-ingsley.”
Harry turned and looked over to the still form of his friend, “Yes, he is.”
Kathryn looked at him and nodded, at least Harry thought she was nodding, “Y-y-ou must hel-help the oth-others.”
“I’m not leaving you here,” he said.
“I-I-I’ll be f-f-fine,” she said and weakly pushed him away from her, “G-g-g-go.
Harry took one more look at her and quickly stood and ran out of the chamber.
Ron, Hermione and Charlie sprang out from behind the bookcase and aimed their wands at the ceiling above the Death Eaters.
“Reducto!” they shouted together.
The spells hit the ceiling and didn’t just collapse the stone on their enemies, but the contents on the floor above as well. The dust and smoke filled the room and everyone started coughing in the thick atmosphere.
“Evidens Aer,” Hermione choked out.
The air around them started to clear of the dust and smoke. They cautiously looked out towards where they directed their spells. They heard moans and saw blood... a lot of blood.
Keeping their wands trained on the pile of rubble they walked up to the area slowly.
“Bloody Hell!” Ron exclaimed.
“Ron, I wish you could have used a better expression,” Hermione whispered as she looked at the growing puddle of blood on the ground in front of her. They turned and saw the rest of their group approach them looking at the destruction.
“Good job you three,” Arthur Weasley said as he and Molly Weasley approached, “I think it’s over here. Charlie, take Tonks and Evans and begin searching the building for any stragglers.”
Charlie and the other two nodded and quickly left. A rustling of cloth on stone turned them in unison toward Narcissa Malfoy, who was sitting on the ground, leaning up against the wall with a large gash in the forehead. Hermione stepped over and knelt down to help her when she was pushed away.
“No,” Narcissa said, “Don’t touch me you filthy little Mud-blood.”
“I’m trying to help you,” Hermione said through gritted teeth, “And don’t ever call me that again.”
Mrs. Weasley knelt next to her and took over for Hermione, “It’s ok dear, I’ll do it,” she said and Hermione stood.
“You think you’ve won don’t you?” Narcissa said with a chuckle looking at Hermione, “He’ll stop you. He’ll stop all of you. And not even your savior Harry Potter can stop him.”
“You’re wrong,” Hermione whispered at the woman at her feet, “You’re wrong.”