Bradley Hawke-Thorne crept along after Professor Moody, wondering why in the name of Merlin he had ever agreed to do this.
Sure, he could remember each individual step of the journey, but that still failed to explain just how he was here, about to participate in an illegal raid on a pureblood estate in order to help assassinate the most feared Dark Lord in living memory.
"Hold here," Moody's gruff voice broke him out of his incredulous introspection. "You D.A. kids, stay disillusioned and spread out. When we get the signal, do your best to help bring the wards down. If you can, do Switching Spells and swap granite from that quarry with the air above the house."
"That's what Professor McGonagall meant!" Brad blurted out.
Moody grunted. "Wouldn't surprise me if she managed half a ton of granite at a go."
Brad was not the only one to blink hard.
Moody gave a harsh bark of laughter. "She's not a witch to cross, and a Transfiguration Mistress to boot. Remember that.
"Anyway, if you don't think you can do a Switching Spell to get enough granite, throw whatever other spells at the wards. You kids brought down the Carrows' wards, so you presumably know what works and what doesn't. Questions?" There were none from the D.A. members.
With a curt order, Moody pulled all the Order members aside and gave them a series of quiet orders.
While the adults were doing that, the D.A. spread out some, everyone keeping the front door in sight.
Brad heard the adults break up. He quickly lost track of them as they moved further away from him.
Everything settled down into a tense silence for several minutes, most everyone shifting anxiously from foot to foot.
Moody suddenly hissed out, "Get ready, you lot. Party's about to start."
Brad raised his wand and took a deep breath, trying to focus for the upcoming fight.
The next moment, his jaw dropped open, and his concentration shattered. A virtual mountain of rock had appeared above the large home in front of them. Gravity immediately pulled it down and into the wards.
The magically inert granite impacted the wards with a resounding gong and a shower of sparks. The wards themselves flared a vibrant yellow for a long moment as they tried to support the massive weight, visibly warping their shape. The rock finally tumbled down the side of the wards, crashing into the ground with an earth-rumbling roar.
Brad's dumbfounded stare was broken when a dark blue spell came flying out from behind him and impacted the still-visible wards, causing another brief flare.
Shaking himself back to the task at hand, Brad started chanting. Being an upperclassman Ravenclaw, he had researched what he could on the art of ward-breaking since the first raid. Not much was available in the Hogwarts Library - every professional ward-crafter or ward-breaker guarded their secrets with a tenacity that would do a goblin proud - but Brad had come across several generic spells that could be used to drain energy from a shield. Shields had enough in common with wards that he knew that, while not quite as effective against the more complex warding spells, would still be useful. He went through the long incantation now to begin one of those spells.
Finished with the minute-long string of syllables, a steady silver beam came out of his wand and impacted the ward. At the point of impact, the wards glowed steadily before a series of lines began crawling out from that point, almost as if a pane of glass was slowly cracking.
Brad smiled slightly, keeping most of his concentration on the spell. Leave it to the Gryffs and Puffs to throw everything but the kitchen cauldron at the wards. The Claws would do the same job with much less fuss.
Under the strain of at least two ward-draining spells, a continued hail of granite, and a wide variety of incoming curses, the wards messily shattered after only a few minutes.
Brad heard a splintering crash come from the side of the house and turned to look. Harry Potter lowered his wand and visibly took a breath as two members of his escort jumped through a large hole in what used to be a stone wall. Professors Flitwick and McGonagall were the next two through the hole followed by Harry himself and then the rest of his select group of commandoes.
Brad's attention was drawn back to his appointed task at Moody's bellow, "Save the gawking for a bloody quidditch match! Pay attention to yer jobs!"
Properly chastised, Brad - and nearly a dozen other students - turned back toward the front door. Remembering that his job was to keep the Death Eaters penned up inside the building, he threw a Blasting Curse through the hole where the front door had been and then conjured marble slabs to plug a hole that some random curse had made in the upper story.
Brad then conjured planks of wood and was about to place them over a hole in the roof that the last falling granite boulder had formed when a figure in a dark cloak came shooting out of the hole riding a broomstick. Brad was not the only one to throw a curse at the quickly moving figure. All of the spells missed, but someone in a Hufflepuff quidditch uniform rose from the far side of the mansion in pursuit.
Not seeing the pursuing broom-rider, the Death Eater turned to make a strafing run at the raiders on the ground.
Moving in, the pursuer shot the inattentive Death Eater off of their broom. The Death Eater, shoved sideways and with one leg showing an extra bend where it should not, flailed about for only a few moments before gravity claimed its prize and pulled him down. With a sickening crackle, the Death Eater fell to the ground between Moody's group and the front door.
Swallowing to keep his suddenly queasy stomach under control, Brad levitated the conjured wood to cover the hole in the roof. He was well aware that none of his stop-gap measures would prevent the Death Eaters from blasting a hole open again, but it would slow them down. At this point, that was the main goal.
By this point the front door - or at least the ragged hole that used to be an entrance - had several bodies scattered around in front of it. Even as he watched, another Death Eater ran out and tried to curse the attackers. He was torn apart by six curses before he got off his second spell.
Brad magically froze the ground and debris around the door. No sense making it easy on them to run out.
A fan of flame from inside the dark hole - someone trying to counter Brad's Freezing Spell - simply drew more blasting and cutting spells.
With a sharp crack, a wide area of the first floor wall blasted outward, revealing a dozen Death Eaters with wands out and immediately raining spells down at the attackers.
Forced to defend themselves from the falling masonry and hail of spells coming at them, none of the students could do anything about the half-dozen more Death Eaters who started climbing down from the first floor.
From three directions, ribbon-like spells came from previously empty patches of ground. Where the spells hit, Death Eaters were cut in half. The adult members of the Order of the Phoenix had lain in wait for just such a moment.
Freed of many of the harassing spells, the D.A. and Order members made short work of the remaining Death Eaters who suddenly had no option but to retreat back into the darkness.
Brad held his stomach under control until the holes in the walls were patched. During a momentary lull, he lost what little he had managed to eat that morning.
He looked up just in time to see a massive hole get blown out of a corner of the upper floor from the inside and a pale, thin figure jump out without hesitation.
Even before the figure made it to the ground, Professor Flitwick jumped out in pursuit.
Both managed to land without injury, but only Flitwick cast further spells against his target.
While Flitwick continued bombarding the figure, Harry and a pink-haired witch in auror blue robes both also jumped out of the hole and joined in the attack.
"You've lost, Tom!" Harry shouted.
"Never!" the figure, stumbling and casting only shield spells, called back in a weak voice.
Finally, one of the auror's spells slipped past the shield and tore a leg off of the figure.
Shrieking, he fell.
Harry quickly had him disarmed. Standing over the fallen wizard, Harry called, "Any last words, Tom?"
"I am LORD VOLDEMORT!" he choked out. A sudden, pulsating blue light came from his hand as Harry cast a wickedly powerful slashing curse that Brad had only heard whispers about.
The blue light threw Harry through the air to land a dozen yards away. He limply fell to the ground, below the ragged hole in the upper story of Dolohov manor.
Harry's spell cleanly decapitated Voldemort. The evil wizard's corpse immediately started falling to pieces, decomposing unevenly but rapidly.
"Harry!" a dual feminine shriek drew every eye on the battlefield. Tracey stood in the hole in the wall, leaning on Daphne's shoulder. They both stared down at the unmoving body, eyes huge. Daphne started to awkwardly help Tracey down the rubble, hampered by Tracey keeping her left hand pressed to her side, fingers slick with blood.
The auror that had accompanied the commandoes swore violently and rushed to Harry's side. Her wand started waving frantically.
Completely forgotten, the rest of the fighters on the battlefield were jolted back to their own situations when a masked Death Eaters roared wordlessly and fired a bright orange spell at the unconscious and defenseless Harry.
With a scream, Daphne dropped from under Tracey's shoulder and jumped from the pile of rock. As she fell, Brad spotted a faint shield forming around her. She landed between Harry's prone form and the incoming spell, falling to one knee. She tried to turn to face the Death Eater just as the spell crashed into her. The power of the curse catapulted her up into the air and threw her well beyond where Harry lay.
Even before she came to a tumbling halt, Lucius Malfoy was torn to shreds by curses from twenty wands.
Flitwick began to systematically demolish the area around the front door with an expression of utter fury on his normally cheerful face.
Brad and the remaining D.A. members, remembering their duty, turned back to their responsibilities.
Having just watched their leader fall, under anti-apparition and anti-portkey wards, losses mounting, and surrounded by a force that was proving they were willing to kill, the Death Eaters did not take long to realize the impossibility of their situation. The remaining survivors surrendered and were quickly stunned.
Once all the visible Death Eaters had been neutralized, the Order members began cautiously moving into the wrecked Dolohov estate.
The pink-haired auror and another Order member that Brad did not know continued to work on Harry as nearly every D.A. member from the front of the manor gathered around. Several of the D.A. were leaning on shoulders of nearby comrades and almost everyone had a cut or other minor injury, but Brad saw no major injuries.
Tracey, helped down the final meters of rubble by Hermione, moved toward Harry as quickly as she could, tears coursing down her face.
Neville, a smear of blood along one cheek, intercepted her, easily keeping the smaller, wounded witch from approaching.
Tracey called out Harry's name once before collapsing against Neville's chest, sobbing.
Hermione moved to check on Daphne. Even before the brunette got to her fallen friend, she slowed and then stopped. Head dropping forward, she slowly turned and headed back to the crowd gathering around her best friend.
"Dammit!" the short witch tending to Harry screamed. She slumped back and hung her head.
Tracey let out a started gasp before her hand went up to her hair and came back down, grasping a metal clasp of some kind.
Tracey, Neville, and Hermione gaped at it for a moment before Hermione shouted, "No!" She pushed her way through the crowd and started pushing on Harry's chest.
"Granger, he's gone," the adult softly spoke.
Hermione ignored her. "Dammit, Harry, don't you leave us like this," she said, continuing to rhythmically press upon Harry's chest.
Almost everyone in the crowd stared at her in incomprehension. The auror, though, moved over and started kissing Harry.
Brad turned to the student next to him. "What in the name of Merlin are they doing?" he asked softly.
Dean Thomas answered without looking away. "I should've thought of it. They're doing C.P.R."
"They're trying to revive him. Get his heart going again and let him breath on his own."
"But," Brad glanced at the again-sobbing Tracey and the mystified medical witch, "he died. You can't come back from the dead."
Dean shook his head slowly. "If they can get his heart going -" He suddenly jumped forward, drawing his wand. "Stand clear!"
Hermione looked up, anguish clear in her eyes. She saw Dean with his wand out and a determined look in his eyes. Everyone could see the calculation going on behind her eyes. With a sharp nod, she stood and took a step back. "Tonks, give him a chance," she choked out.
Tonks, as the hair-color-changing auror was apparently called, immediately moved back. This caused everyone else to move away as well.
Dean touched his wand to Harry's chest. A short sound and a spark caused Harry's body to convulse.
Brad realized he was holding his breath. He had no idea what the muggleborn wizard thought he was doing, but if Hermione and the auror thought it was worth a try . . .
Harry Potter took a deep, ragged breath and started coughing.
Hermione, Tonks and the medical witch all converged on Harry, wands flashing.
The D.A. collapsed upon itself, laughing, back-slapping, and screaming.