The cold, unforgiving voice rang across the courtyard. Hermione vaguely registered Ginny's tortured howl as the words replayed in her mind.
Harry was dead.
A thousand unanswered questions engulfed her. How could he be dead, what had happened to the plan, what had gone wrong, was this part of the plan? Swallowing her thoughts she snapped herself back into the present.
Neville had limped out towards Voldemort. Only one of his legs seemed to be functioning, the other dragged behind him at an odd angle, he staggered as the deadweight nearly caused him to topple. No one moved to help him.
Hermione couldn't focus on the words echoing around her as Neville began to speak, his voice rang across the courtyard, the pain and anguish undeniable in it as he addressed Voldemort. She breathed deeply and forced herself to focus as the clockwork in her mind began clicking again.
'Kill the snake'
The last words Harry had uttered to her before he departed. All Hermione knew was that he had insisted on going in the forest alone, despite her begging him to take her with him. Never had she imagined that he wouldn't return alive.
Nagini slithered next to Voldemort. The sword. She had to get the sword. The sorting hat lay about 50 yards away, just to the left of Neville. She knew Harry had somehow pulled the sword from it in second year, if she could do the same then they stood a chance. She moved towards the hat, breaking away from the crowd.
A green flash of light lit up the courtyard.
There was a muffled thump as Neville's body hit the ground.
Voldemort turned, a flicker of surprise crossed his eyes before it was quickly masked, he hadn't cast the spell. Chaos erupted, reality had hit. Hermione ducked as spells flew in all directions. Diving behind a boulder she took cover. Looking for the hat she peaked out from the site she had taken refuge, scanning her surroundings she caught site of Nagini amidst the now ongoing battle, glued to her masters side.
Hermione bit back tears as she realised it was not a boulder that she was crouched behind. It was one of the stones that had previously formed the archway into the school. Hogwarts had been the only place she had ever felt safe, it was where she had been loved and accepted, it had been her home. And now, it lay destroyed and ruined, every happy memory faded away as she looked around the courtyard, all she saw were bodies crumpling and screams of pain. She steadied herself, taking a deep breath before emerging into the battle, she had a job to do.
Spells fired all around her, ricocheting off wall and bouncing in a variety of directions. She looked wildly around the courtyard for the black fabric lump she had seen moments ago, but the hat had moved. It was no longer there.
She turned, trying to think of a plan B before realising she was trapped in the heat of the fighting. Death eaters and members of the order were throwing continuous spells at each other until one of them could no longer. She saw Molly Weasley crumple after Bellatrix hit her with a jet of green light, Arthur met the same fate. Magical creatures roamed the courtyard, dementors, giants, hags, vampires and Aragog's family all taking out as many order members as they could.
She cast a shielding charm to protect herself from the flying misdirected spells that filled the air. She heard a shout as Kreacher led an army of house elves in the fight. There must have been around 200 as they snapped their fingers, sending death eaters and magical creatures hurtling through the air.
A spell grazed Hermione's ear. Looking for the source she spun wildly, turning to see Antonin Dolohov leering at her.
She cast an expelliarmus, trying to gather an advantage but he was too quick, she dodged his hexes as he tried to catch her with a particularly nasty one. Around her, death eaters had started to recover and were regaining their conscious after the house elves' attacks. With the element of surprise wearing off, death eaters were killing off the elves in masses with various curses that Hermione had never seen before.
More bodies dropped to the floor. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Lavendar Brown's ragged body as a werewolf tore the flesh from her neck. Dean Thomas lay next to her, his corpse still twitching.
They needed to retreat, more and more order members were falling and Voldemort and Nagini were no where to be seen.
Dolohov advanced, firing a continuous stream of green light from his wand. She swerved, firing spell after spell as she tried to avoid being hit. Dolohov suddenly dropped to the ground. Hermione forced herself not to freeze in surprise, she was sure that she hadn't hit him with anything powerful enough to knock him unconscious but she quickly moved on. She needed to get out.
She made a beeline for the forest. The bridge leading into Hogwarts had collapsed so to reach the apparition line she had to make her way around the outskirts of the castle. Screams filled the air. She spun, catching sight of Ginny and Luna being crucioed before shackles were snapped around their wrists and ankles.
She had no idea who had got out, who was dead and who had been captured. But she couldn't help them. Not now. Not until the snake was dead. She had to leave and gather the remaining order members. They needed to regroup, to reformulate. She needed to work out why Harry had died.
The screams grew louder, she could only assume that more order members had been taken hostage.
'Get to the apparition line' she murmured aloud, urging herself to go on.
She didn't know what she would do when she did get there, the surrounding world was no longer safe, it was highly likely that she would be caught as soon as she got out, nevertheless she was the order's only hope.
A cold, clammy hand suddenly grabbed her ankle. She shrieked as a vampire pulled her to the ground, pinning her wand arm down so she couldn't cast any spells. Hermione could smell the vampires's putrid breath as it made its way towards her throat. Hermione shifted her weight, trying to buck underneath its hold. Writhing desperately she finally caused the vampire to topple, taking advantage of its moment of weakness she manage to roll them over so she ended up on top. Long, filthy finger nails slashed at her cheeks as the vampire attempted to gouge out her eyeballs. Lacerations from her forehead down to her chin began dripping with blood as the vampire opened its mouth, desperately trying to get a taste of the thick red droplets. Hermione looked blindly either side of her where she had the vampire pinned, scanning for a weapon. Her eyes fell on a nasty looking jagged stone, she seized it and rammed it as hard as she could into the vampire's forehead. The vampire stilled, and Hermione immediately set off again as rapidly as she could.
While she had been preoccupied with the vampire, death eaters and dementors now swarmed the grounds, clearly they had finished with the remaining order members inside the castle. Trying to avoid being spotted, Hermione crept past the whomping willow and continued towards the main gates where the apparition line lay. She knew that if she was caught by dementors she would be unable to fight, every happy memory she owned had been associated with Hogwarts, now as she crept across the ruins, they all seemed like a lifetime ago. The war had taken any and all remaining happiness she had left.
No one was patrolling the area near the main gates. The death eaters clearly hadn't expected anyone to have made it out of the castle, let alone leave the grounds. She had nearly made it, she was nearly out, she could see what was left of the main she approached. They were no longer the once impenetrable bars that had loomed over any trespasser that dared to try to enter the castle, instead, the once mighty iron bars lay bent and collapsed. The metal frames were no longer seemed support themselves as they collapsed in a heap with splinted bars that stuck out at odd angles.
50 more metres.... 25 more metres..... 10 more metres......
She let out a breath of relief, she had done it. 10 more steps and she would be out.
'Leaving so soon?' a cold voice drawled behind her.
She spun but before she had time to turn a jet of red light hit her squarely in the shoulder. As the world went black and she crumpled onto the group, she failed to make a mental note of the last thing that she had seen. A head of platinum blonde hair.
*A.N please remember to vote if you enjoyed the chapter!! More updates on the way! <3*