Scion of Gryffindor
47 - "Are you crazy?"
Harry / Tonks ship
Nim stared at Harry. "Say that again."
"I'm going to kill Voldemort the day after tomorrow," Harry dutifully repeated to her and everyone else living (and dead) at Gryffindor Keep.
"That's what I thought you said. You see, I was hoping I was hearing things. I just didn't want to believe that my boyfriend, the man that I love, was suicidal."
"Cuz, you know, getting himself killed would really put a crimp in my future plans." She stood and started pacing. "Why?" she finally asked Harry.
"Why are you doing this? To yourself? To me?"
"There's this prophecy -"
"Stop!" she shrieked, cutting him off. She took a few deep breaths, visibly reigning in her emotions. Once her hair shifted back to purple, she whispered, "Don't make jokes, Harry. Not about this."
Harry sighed deeply, suddenly feeling far older than his sixteen years. "I wasn't trying to be flip, really. I was answering the question. The prophecy says I have to kill him."
"Bugger the prophecy!" she shouted.
Surprisingly, it was Cissy who replied. "Whether Harry wants to do anything about the prophecy is actually irrelevant. The Dar- Voldemort believes Harry can vanquish him. Therefore he's not going to stop trying to kill Harry."
Andy nodded and took over from her sister. "And knowing that, it makes sense for Harry to do it on his terms instead of waiting for Vol- Vol-" she grimaced and then continued, "Riddle to make the next move."
Nim made a wordless growl of frustration and turned back to Harry. "I don't suppose I can talk you out of this?"
"Not really. You know I was talking with Amelia and Dumbledore all morning. They're arranging for a series of distractions for the deez early that morning. A bunch of raids on homes of suspected deez, and the aurors and the Order are going to raid one of their old bases. We're hoping most of the deez will be tied up elsewhere so I can sneak in and kill Voldemort."
"So you're going to sneak in by yourself and take on the whole bloody deez army and the darkest wizard since Grindelwald?"
"Well, when you put it that way -"
Ted interrupted the conversation. "I'm not happy about it either. I do have a question, though. Why now?"
"What do you mean?"
"Why now? Why are you going after him now instead of three months ago or three months from now?"
Harry marshaled his thoughts. "Several reasons. One of the board members said something the other day. His granddaughter died because I haven't killed Voldemort yet."
Nim's eyes flared. "That's -"
Harry held up a hand, forestalling her impending tirade. "I know he was out of line with what he said, but there is a kernel of truth in it." He sighed and scrubbed his face with a hand before continuing, "More to the point, though, I'm going now because Tom is at his most vulnerable now, and I'm not going to get significantly better anytime soon."
She looked disgruntled at his argument but did not comment. "What do you mean about him being vulnerable?"
"His Hogwarts attack failed. His kidnapping attempt the other day failed. Granted, they are not the only attacks he's made in the past few months, but they are the highest profile ones. He's probably frustrated, and his followers are no doubt beginning to second guess their decision to join him. Add to that his big change in public policy, that 'live and let live' announcement that Parkinson made. I don't believe for a minute that it's genuine, but it shows he's trying to avoid the fights he can right now.
"The Ministry is finally doing its job, the Order is cooperating with them, and Voldemort has lost a lot of ground. The Prophet is being honest about the attacks, both good and bad, but it's proving that the deez aren't invulnerable. And bad as some of it is, at least having everything out in the open is keeping the rampant paranoia and terror down."
Harry sighed again. "Look, while he's hardly powerless, his position is the worst its been since his resurrection. However, if we give him time, he'll just start digging himself back out of the hole he's in. I need to hit him now, when he's at his weakest and we actually know where to find him. If I wait, it'll just keep getting harder.
"The Order and Ministry are already planning on doing things in two days. I can call them off if I have to, but . . . Think about it. This is a decent opportunity, and will there ever be a better one?"
“If not now, when? If I wait until both I’m significantly more powerful and Voldemort can be pinned down again, I might find myself at forty with everything I care about destroyed and everyone I love long dead."
Andy frowned. "I'll not say that I like it, but I suppose I understand it. Why are you going to attack him in a commando raid instead of trying to get him to come to you?"
"Do you honestly think he'll amass an army and lay siege to Hogwarts or something? He's never acted like that in the past. It's always been terror, raids, and then guerilla tactics. He's never permitted his people to engage in a stand-up fight against a nearly-equal force, so why should I expect him to do it now? He's only very rarely gone on raids himself, so trying to ambush enough raids to snare him is impractical.
“The only other approach I can think of would be to dangle some bait for him to come after. The problem there is that I can't think of anything I'm willing to sacrifice that he'd be willing to come out of his hole to chase after." Harry sighed. "Look, I don't want to do any of this. But I don't know any other way to have a fight anytime soon on anything even close to my terms."
Everyone in the room thought silently about his words.
"I'm going with you," Nim stated decisively.
Harry's face closed off. "But -"
Her eyes narrowed. "Why can you go, but I can't?" she demanded.
Harry opened his mouth a couple times before answering, "I don't want you to get hurt."
Ironic snorts came from several directions.
"Kettle, meet cauldron," Cissy said dryly.
Nim folded her arms and smirked triumphantly.
Harry frowned heavily. "Fine," he conceded, "but I don't like it."
"You don't have to like it, you just have to accept it. Two is better than one, right?"
"I suppose," Harry grudgingly admitted.
"Besides, I know a way through almost any ward. I just need to talk with Dumbledore and he can get me the equipment."
"Dumbledore?" Harry balked.
Nim looked at him sternly. "Look, you're already trusting him to run interference, right? I need some stuff from the Ministry. Something I heard rumors about in the Department of Mysteries."
"Yeah, yeah; you made your point."
"Good. Look, as fine a student as you've been in dueling and fighting, I'm still a graduate of the Auror Academy, and you aren't. I’ve seen more combat than you have, Potter. You need me to help you get close enough to Voldemort. The prophecy may say it has to be you to finish him off, but I can help get you to that point, right?"
Harry had a pained expression. "Just don't get yourself killed, Nim. I don't know if I could survive that."
"Much as I hate to admit it, I can't promise that any more than you can, Harry," she candidly answered.
Andy winced. "Again, I'll not say that I like it." She raised a hand to Nim's frown. "I don't like it," she repeated, "but I understand why you're doing it." She turned to Godric. "Your heir is a reckless influence on her."
Godric gave a wisp of a smile but did not respond.
"Actually, I'm surprised that you aren't trying to talk them out of this."
Godric shrugged. "Why would I do that? He's Gryffindor, so he'll do what's needed. She'd choosing to follow him. I probably won't like the methods he's contemplating - your daughter's Slytherin influence on him is as obvious as his on her - but he will do the right thing. It's not in us Gryffindors to do anything less."
"You're genetically predisposed to be raving lunatics?" Andy asked in dry humor, clearly trying to lessen the tension.
"Not quite," Harry answered. "Maybe I really do have a 'saving people thing' as Hermione put it. Personally, I prefer to think that there's something that only I can deal with, so I'm going to deal with it. I don't want to, but I don't really have a choice."
"Right. So let's do some planning," suggested Tonks.
Harry and Nim, wearing their dragon hide armor and carrying all of the shrunken equipment and supplies they expected to need, silently materialized in the woods behind a massive and run-down estate.
Harry looked around, found nobody else in sight, and then squinted in the pre-dawn to make sure they had apparated to the right place. Multiple wards overlaid the main building.
"Is this the place?" the disillusioned form of Nim whispered from beside him.
"Yeah," he whispered back, still studying the overlapping colors and patterns. "It's got a Perimeter Alarm Ward, a Magical Tripwire, and some kind of defensive ward in addition to the Portkey and Apparition Wards."
She paused. "I hate to admit it, but I've never heard of a Magical Tripwire."
"Like a Perimeter Alarm except it detects magic crossing the field instead of living bodies."
"Ah, you mean a Magical Sensor Net. No kind of identifying ward?" she asked.
Harry shook his head before he remembered that he was invisible. "Not that I can see."
"That Mage Sight thing is useful," she commented.
A pair of soft pops sounded behind them, causing both to turn with raised wands.
Harry could see the aura of one disillusioned magician and a man wearing blue auror robes but without any masking spell at all.
"Disillusion yourself, Robbins," the invisible one hissed.
"Password?" Nim murmured.
Both aurors jumped. "We were sent by Director Bones. Password is 'fluffy'. Whatever the hell that's supposed to mean," the still visible auror finished in a grumble.
Harry and Nim relaxed and sheathed their wands. "What'd Amelia tell you?" Harry asked. "And disillusion yourself, Robbins. We could've killed you five times over already."
As Robbins was sheepishly tapping his wand upon his head, the other said, "Director Bones ordered us to report here and take orders from the wizards on site. Who the hell are you, anyway?"
"Don't worry about it," Harry said.
"Lord Potter," Tonks said. "They need to know, Harry," she added.
"I suppose," Harry grudgingly answered. "You see that manor?" he went on.
"Yes, sir. Beat up old place," the senior auror observed.
"Voldemort's in there."
Harry was grimly amused at their sharp intakes of breath.
"So you may want to be kind of careful about showing yourself," he continued dryly. "There are several wards over it. At some point, I hope the wards come down. If they do, contact Amelia and give her the message, 'Riddle's wards have fallen.' More aurors will show up, but don't let them approach the place without Amelia's direct order, including the password 'cavalry'. Once you get that, hit the place, wards up or down. Other than that, don't do anything at all to reveal yourselves. None of us would survive it if you did. Got it?"
"Yes, sir," replied the audibly cowed auror.
"If you're done scaring the piss out of them, we have things to do, Potter," Nim said. Not waiting for an answer, she groped around for his arm. Once she found it, she laid a hand on his shoulder and followed as he moved forward. When he stopped just inside the tree line, she did as well. "How much further can I go?" she asked.
"Another two feet is safe."
He watched her move a bit further before crouching down. She quickly planted two thumb-sized bushes into the ground as far apart as she could reach. Moving back, she pointed her wand and muttered a string of spells at each bush. Before their eyes the bushes grew at an incredible rate, going up as well as toward the wards until they formed an arch that each of them could walk under if they crouched.
"Did that work?" she asked.
Harry moved forward and looked closely. "The bushes straddle the edges of the wards."
Nim then pulled a small tube out of her bag and laid it on the ground. Another quiet spell and it expanded enough for them to crawl through and grew about four feet long. Leaning against it, she shoved it through the arch formed by the bushes.
Pulling a piece of chalk out of her bag, she very carefully drew a rune on the outer surface of the magical tunnel, completing an intricate series of runes inscribed on it. When she stepped back, Harry saw a muted green flash from them.
"You told me that you had a way in without triggering the wards, but you never were very specific."
"I'd heard the Unspeakables had a way, but I didn't know the details until Dumbledore pried it out of them. The bushes are to hide the presence of the metal of the tunnel. The tunnel, once I put the final rune on it, rejects all external magic. This is safe enough from the tripwire, as you call it, as it's an item straddling the ward, not a spell flying through it.
"Now, just to be sure we won't be detected, I'm going to also use a Magic Dampening Field that Bill Weasley taught me." She pointed her wand down the tunnel and uttered a string of syllables that were definitely not Latin.
In Harry's Mage Sight, the tunnel filled with sparkling white diamonds that hovered in place, twinkling slowly. It was unlike anything he had seen before. "Whoa."
"There," she said in a tone of satisfaction. "Once we're in there, move quickly. The Dampening Field will negate our Shrinking Charms and Disillusionments after a few seconds."
"Ah. That would be awkward."
She ducked down and quickly crawled through the tunnel.
Harry watched the wards closely as she did so. Fortunately, they did not react to her passage. Once she stood on the other side, she urgently murmured, "Move."
Harry scuttled through and stood beside her. "I'm here," he informed her. "Lead on."
She immediately headed toward a shadowed door to the main building, Harry moving along a few paces behind and slightly to the side.
Once in the niche containing the door, he wandlessly cancelled his Disillusionment and knelt. Pointing to the ground, he whispered, "Serpensortia."
He heard Nim inhale sharply as a mid-sized green and brown snake appeared at his feet.
"Little friend," Harry hissed, "I'm going to cast a spell upon you to make you invisible. Please enter this building and look around at what the humans inside are doing then come back here. Can you do that for me?"
"A moment, wizard." The snake looked carefully around itself. Finally its head stopped when it was turned to where Nim was standing. Its small tongue flicked out a few times before the snake turned back to Harry. "Your invisible mate is frightened, but she is hiding it well."
Harry grinned up at her before turning back to the snake. "She is a good fighter and a good mate. Will you do as I asked?"
"I will." After Harry disillusioned it, the snake turned and slithered through an opening in the dilapidated doorway.
"What did that lizard say about me?" Nim growled quietly.
"Snakes aren't lizards," Harry mildly chided her. "To answer your question: he thought you're cute."
"I'm invisible," she retorted.
"Snakes can see through magic. Didn't you know that?"
She was silent for nearly a minute. "Are you serious?"
"No, but I had you going, didn't I?"
"He could smell you and said you smell cute."
She snorted. "Prat," she repeated, with a bit of humor in her tone.
Harry grinned to himself, having succeeded in lowering the tension.
"By the way, if I weren't along, how were you planning on getting through the wards?" Tonks idly asked.
"I was either going to try to dig under them, or levitate a tree long-way to interdict the field and then dig under that."
"You'd have to go pretty far underground for the first one to work." She thought for a moment. "That second one might work, but you'd have to uproot a big tree whole and then lay it down at the edge of the yard without anyone noticing the movement or sound."
"I think I like your idea better."
Harry chewed his lip for a moment. "I'm still tempted to bring the Portkey Ward down. I really don't like not being able to use escape Portkeys."
"Can you take the ward down without anyone inside noticing?"
"Maybe," he hedged.
"Maybe? Maybe? What in the name of Morgana does 'Maybe' mean?"
"Grandfather taught me a ward breaker spell that shouldn't alert the ward's original caster unless that wizard is very sensitive and inside the wards in question. The deez also may have a monitoring spell on the inside that I can't see. Finally, if anyone inside, like Voldemort, has Mage Sight, it would be obvious when it came down."
"Way too many variables in that answer."
"I said, 'Maybe,' for a reason, you know."
"I'm not real happy running that many risks."
"Me neither. I'd prefer to be able to use Portkeys, but that’s just too dangerous to try. I won't say I like the plan we came up with, but it still seems like the best option.
“Let's see," he started to tick items off on his fingers. "Prisoners get that long-term, slow to cast Medical Stasis spell, transfiguration to hide 'em, and a twelve hour Portkey. If I'm hurt, you grab me and get us both the hell out. If you're hurt, you escape on your own or I put you under stasis, hide you, and go forward alone." He frowned.
"I know you don't like it, Harry. I don't, either, but as you said, this raid is our best chance to finish this war. If you can, you must continue forward."
He still looked very unhappy but nodded. "Yeah. Anyway, Wormtail said Riddle's room is always on the top floor, which is the second in this case. Didn’t he say there's a basement?"
"Yeah. I'll continue to lead when we're inside. I can spot physical traps, though it'd surprise me if they tried anything quite that 'muggle'. Stop me if you see any magical traps." She paused. "Anything else?"
He let out a breath. "Not that I can think of."
One of her dissillusioned hands came up and ran down his cheek. "Trust in yourself and trust in me, and we'll both get through this, Harry."
Out of things to say, the two waited in silence for several minutes, watching the sun slowly creep above the horizon.
Harry's serpentine scout finally returned. "Wizard? There are many humans hibernating in a space near this entrance. Two more, a female and a male, are moving about in other open spaces. I saw places for you to move upward and another to move underground, but I can not go either direction. I can smell more humans, but I can not locate them."
Harry nodded. "Thank you, little friend." He waved a hand and conjured a field mouse. While the mouse was twitching and looking around, the snake pounced. Harry cancelled the snake's disillusionment as the mouse's tail was disappearing.
Tonks made a disgusted noise but otherwise kept her peace.
The snake turned back to Harry. "My thanks, wizard. Good hunting to you and your mate." It turned and slithered along the wall, quickly lost in the shadows.
"Much as I'm glad that you're embracing your inner Slytherin, I don't like snakes," Nim grumbled. "What did it say?" she asked in a firmer voice.
Harry chose the better part of valor and did not to comment on her phobia. "Sounds like a dormitory of sleeping deez close to this door. There's also another witch and wizard wandering around this level. The snake couldn't go upstairs or downstairs. There are more around, but it doesn't know where."
"Take care of the sleepers first?"
Harry nodded and recast the Disillusionment over himself. Together, they crept through the doorway. Harry put an Alarm Ward over the door and then they started looking into each of the rooms they came across.
They quickly found the bunk room. While Nim guarded the door, Harry silently put each sleeping deez into stasis. Even moving quickly, it still took him nearly ten minutes to deal with all twelve of them.
He then transfigured each of the deez into an object that had a duplicate in the room. Some deez became bed sheets, some pillows, and some bed frames. After transfiguring a deez, he turned each "person" into a time-delayed Portkey, set to deposit them into a special prisoner room that Amelia had showed him. Shortly, the room was empty of sleeping Death Eaters and contained nothing except unmade beds.
When he finished, Tonks said, "Very good. I've been checking the room and peeking out the door while you've been busy. There are Silencing Spells built into each wall, floor, and ceiling. No sign of sentries so far. They must rely on their wards. Ready?
"Yep. Let's do it."
They carefully crept back out into the hallway. Harry could see her disillusioned form casting a spell, but she did not verbalize it.
In a murmur she said, "Silencing Spells on all sides here, too. Hallways will carry sound, but otherwise we should be safe."
Tonks leading the way, they moved further into the manor. Once they found the stairs to the basement, they headed down. Harry paused to cast an Alarm Ward plus a Wall of Silence Spell over the open entrance so anyone on this floor, two of whom where still unaccounted for according to the snake, would not hear anything that occurred downstairs.
They made it downstairs to a long hallway without incident. Only three doors came off the hall, one on each side and one at the far end. Both side doors led to large storage rooms. After Harry and Tonks came out of the second room and back into the hall, the far door suddenly opened and many young deez came flowing out, chattering among themselves. Several were directing floating crates along. The whole group was followed by an older deez who growled half-heartedly at them to hurry up.
Both Harry and Nim froze in place at the unexpected presence of so many enemies.
Unfortunately, one of them bumped into the invisible Harry before they could retreat.
"Huh? Whazzat?" he asked blankly.
Harry immediately hit him with a Paralysis Hex.
Seeing that they would have to fight, Harry put up a powerful shield and started casting Piercing Curses as rapidly as he could.
Half of the deez were wounded and most of the rest were blindly firing curses in all directions when the older one thought to cast a wide-area Finishing Spell.
His disillusionment removed, Harry cast a Needle Wave Curse that caught many of the remaining targets in a spray of small quickly moving slivers of metal.
Also exposed, Nim cast a fan-like flamer down the hallway. Caught in two area-affect spells, all but two of the deez were down and out of the fight.
Showing a surprising presence of mind, one of the two stepped forward the short distance and plucked Harry's wand from his hand. Thinking he had the smaller wizard disarmed, his face lit with glee as he started to shout a curse.
Harry curled his right hand into a fist and punched him in the jaw.
The deez's head exploded, painting the ceiling and far wall with a red-gray spray speckled with a few bits of white bone.
The last standing deez stopped his one-sided, losing duel with Tonks to stare in astonishment at the toppling body. She moved forward and dropped him with a contact Electrocution Hex.
Harry was already was stunning every wounded deez in sight.
She looked over at Harry once it was quiet. "You okay?"
Harry shook out his hand, sore from the punch. "Yeah, I'm alright. You?"
She held a hand to her side where he could see her armor through her torn shirt; one of the unaimed curses had apparently found its mark through her shield. After a couple deep breaths, she announced, "I'm fine." She glanced at the headless corpse at Harry's feet. "What'd you do to him?"
Harry smirked, proud of his idea. "Blasting Curse through my armband."
She laughed. "At the moment of punching? No wonder he’s such a mess."
Harry twitched at the graphic reminder that he had just killed another person, clever method or not. Ruthlessly suppressing his emotions, he summoned his wand and cast the stasis spell on each before using cleaning spells to remove all the blood and assorted other stains.
Transfiguring them into the kind of brick-a-brack laying about and then into Portkeys took only minutes after that. After Vanishing the broken crates and casing a few repair charms, the hallway looked as it had.
While he was doing this, Tonks quickly checked out the rest of the basement level. "Looks like they were packing up to move. The room they exited has lots of boxes filled with magical artifacts and books. There's also an empty wine cellar past that. Nothing else on this level. You done?"
"Yeah, let's go."
"Hey, what about your disillusionment?"
"You can only have that over you twice a day, remember?"
"Damn, that's right. Should've remembered that."
"Fortunately, I came prepared." Harry pulled his Invisibility Cloak out and draped it over himself.
"Bad planning, Potter. You should've used the cloak before the snake and saved your two disillusionments for inside."
Harry answered with an embarrassed silence before he said, "Oops."
"Live and learn. Just something you need to keep in mind for next time."
With Tonks again leading the way, they went back up to the main level and continued their cautious exploration.
The pair next encountered Bellatrix Lestrange. They found Tonks's disowned aunt carefully packing up potions ingredients into boxes. When they entered the room behind the witch, Tonks bumped into the doorframe, causing Lestrange to look over her shoulder. Her eyes widened, and she drew her wand and fired a series of area effect spells with amazing speed.
Harry raised his wand in his left hand and cast a powerful shield while his right hand came up and started sending curses back at the deranged witch. Organ burners, cutting curses, bludgeoners, fireballs and freezing spells furiously flew back and forth for a few seconds. Unfortunately for Bellatrix, she was one wand against more than two.
One of Tonks's cutters finally punctured her aunt's shield, throwing the older witch off balance. Harry's follow-up string of Hammer Fist Hexes shattered her shield and landed, throwing her through the air to crash into the wall behind her with a sickening crackle. Bellatrix immediately went slack and left a smear of blood on the wall as she slid down in a heap.
Harry jumped across the room to examine her for signs of life. Instead, he found the back of her head caved in and blood slowly leaking out.
He turned around to check on Nim, sparing only a glance at a smoking corpse in the doorway.
Tonks's disillusionment had been broken at some stage, and she was sitting on the floor with her leg bent back at an impossible angle, holding her side and biting her lip.
Swearing vilely Harry dashed across the room to check on his lover. Her left leg was a mangled mess, with white shards poking through her dragon hide armor. Much as he wished otherwise, he knew they were pieces of bone. He resolutely shut off that line of thought and cast a Tourniquet Spell on her leg.
She was studying the smoldering corpse beside her. "Uncle Rudolphus, I think," she commented in a pain-filled voice.
He barely spared a thought about him, presuming he must have entered between himself and Tonks and been cut down by one of Bellatrix's spells.
Not worrying about the other late, unlamented, but crispy Lestrange, Harry cast a Numbing Charm on Tonks's side and leg.
She immediately relaxed. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." He glared at her. "Why didn't you speak up sooner?"
Gingerly feeling the cut on her side, she placed her left hand over it and pinned it in place with her right arm. "You were checking that the enemy was incapacitated, and I couldn't distract you from that. She is down for good, isn't she?"
He nodded, a grimly satisfied smile in place.
"Good. Anyway, once the fight was over, you saw to me quickly enough."
"I have to get you to St. Mungo's immediately."
She shook her head. "No time. We discussed this, damnit. Don't change the plan just because you don't like it, Potter."
Harry frowned mightily. "Nim, I -"
"Save it. Tell me tomorrow. Now, go and finish this so we can do the 'happily ever after' thing I keep hearing about."
He managed a smile. "Will do. See you later." He gave her a quick, hard kiss before standing back up. With a pained expression, he cast the stasis spell on her. After looking out the window, he transfigured her into a stick that would blend in with the others littering the yard. After the Portkey Spell was cast on her, he tossed her out the window, fighting a lump in his throat the whole way.
Having finished protecting his lover as much as possible, he turned back to the mission. He transfigured Rudolphus into a vial and Bellatrix into powdered belladonna. Grinning at the irony, Harry cast the Packing Spell, dumping the spilled items into the available containers. Cleaning and repair charms were thrown liberally around, keeping the room from looking like a battle had been fought.
Looking down, he was dismayed to see his Invisibility Cloak; this would not help his chances to fulfill his 'happily ever after' pledge. Taking the torn garment in hand, he looked mournfully down at what was left of the priceless artifact, his only keepsake from his father. In the fight with Bellatrix, it had been hit and was no longer living up to its name.
Having reached his daily limit of two Disillusionment Charms, he was out of options for staying out of sight.
Harry recast the Silencing Charm on his boots and moved quickly yet stealthily throughout the ground floor, putting Alarm Wards over each exterior doorway, confirming that no additional deez were around, and confirmed that everything was undisturbed. Moving up the stairs, he cast another Alarm Ward behind him.
Once up to the first floor, Harry saw an intricate set of layered wards and spells on the stairway leading to the top. Instead of trying to unravel the mess, Harry simply added a Wall of Silence and went exploring.
The second doorway he approached was open so Harry cautiously peeked inside.
Lucius Malfoy was seated at a desk, reading a parchment. Malfoy must have seen him, because he looked up, his one good eye widening dramatically at seeing Harry standing in the doorway.
In a single smooth motion, his wand came up, and he fired a Cruciatus Curse.
Harry ducked inside the almost empty room while raising a shield and firing a Blasting Curse that missed and obliterated the desk. Malfoy jumped out of his seat and towards him, shouting, ”Avada Kedavra!”
Unable to dodge in time and with nothing handy to summon into the spell's path, Harry employed a defense that he had practiced endlessly with Nim.
Using multiple Deflecting Charms he stopped the Killing Curse in mid-air.
Now a pulsating green ball of lethal energy, it started drifting slowly downward.
"Now, that wasn't very nice," Harry chided the older wizard.
Staring in amazement at the floating spell, Lucius did not respond.
"I want to put you down like the mad dog you are, but I have to do this properly," Harry said with regret. He straightened and said, "Lucius Malfoy, Patriarch of Clan Malfoy, for the killing of Draco Black of my clan, I declare Line War upon you and yours." He smirked. "Pity that you’re the last Malfoy…."
Lucius made an animalistic noise and started firing a wide variety of dark curses at Harry.
Harry kept his shield up and soon had Malfoy backed into a corner. The older man had a vast repertoire of spells, but lacked the stamina for a long fight. Harry finally disarmed him and fired a Webbing Spell at him. Some of the gummy material intentionally covered his mouth.
"By the rules of a Line War, I could take you for all you're worth. The only problem is that Narcissa Black already has all of your wealth."
Harry's grin widened at the look of mad rage displayed in Lucius's one eye.
Harry strolled up to his bound foe, watching his ineffectual struggles. "What was it you said to me once? Something about coming to a ‘sticky end’?" Harry asked, knowing that he was taking more enjoyment out of this than was truly healthy.
Before he was tempted to do something permanent, Harry stunned him.
The stasis, transfiguration, and Portkey spells were almost routine by this point. A few repair charms, and the room looked undisturbed.
The next two rooms were empty, and in his haste Harry almost missed the last room on the floor.
He almost wished he had.
It contained an unidentifiable corpse and what was left of Pansy Parkinson. Her shackles were arranged so that her wrists supported all of her weight and pulled at her shoulders. She was stripped naked and every square inch of skin below her neck showed evidence of systematic spell damage. Her face was unmarked, but one ear had been roughly removed from the side of her head. Dried blood and other liquids pooled beneath her.
"My God," Harry breathed.
Surprising him, her eyes opened. She looked at him for a few moments before a whispered chuckle came out. "Potter? Here? You are truly mad. You have to know that My Lord will kill you for being here." Her voice was pain-filled and ragged.
"I doubt it. Tommy wants to kill me for many other reasons."
Her eyes flared. "My Lord is a great wizard and will crush you! I dream of the day I shall rule at his side."
Harry stared at her in disgust. "He did this to you and will kill you eventually."
"He will never kill me. I am too loyal and valuable to him. I failed him, and he is punishing me for it. Nothing more," she stated with surprising calm.
Harry slowly shook his head. "I don't even want to think about the mental state of anyone who could say that and mean it."
"You will die horribly for this," she stated, ignoring Harry's comment.
"Perhaps," he allowed. He put her in stasis and left, seeing no point in doing anything further with Voldemort's discarded tool.
The floor secured, Harry moved back to the stairway and studied the spells there.
Most of the spells were for ensuring privacy, but the Intruder Alert Ward was problematic. It would alert the caster if he were to try to disable it.
He had a moment of regret that neither Dumbledore nor Bill Weasley were along with him.
Harry stared at the wards for a short time while he came up with a plan.
Growling with annoyance at the necessity of what he was about to do, Harry first conjured a mirror and slowly morphed his face and hair. Satisfied at the result, he cast a Voice Emulation Spell and the needed transfigurations to make his clothing look correct.
To complete his disguise, he cast a Glamour Charm to make it appear that the face of Lucius Malfoy was wearing his eye patch while not restricting his own vision.
Harry took a few deep breaths to calm himself. Things would get very ugly very quickly.
He began once he was as centered as he could manage. With a few words, Harry cast his own Portkey and Apparition Wards. He would not allow Voldemort to escape.
Moving quickly, Harry raised his wand and brought it down in a slash, crudely ripping the stair's warding spells apart.
Making a quick prayer, he ran up the stairs.
One of the doors above opened and Voldemort stepped out, wand raised. "Lucius, what -"
Harry fell to one knee, looking down at the threadbare carpet. "I beg forgiveness, My Lord, but this is an emergency! I have just learned that aurors are about to arrive!"
Voldemort growled and hurried toward the stairs. "Finish packing only the valuable and rare items. We're moving to the other -"
As Voldemort was moving past him, Harry shifted his hand and cast the strongest Cutting Curse he could manage.
It was barely past Harry's hand before it abruptly changed direction and instead of going up and into Voldemort's chest it angled down and into his leg.
Harry raised his shield and threw himself away from Voldemort.
Out of the corner of his eye, Harry had the momentary pleasure of seeing the Cutting Curse begin to connect before a bright light obscured everything, and he was violently thrown down the hall.
Harry winced as he came to a tumbling stop. His armor and shield had taken the brunt of the impacts, but he would have a gang of bruises before long.
Forcing himself to wobbly feet, Harry shifted his wand to his left hand and looked down the hall. Seeing no point in maintaining it, he relaxed his morph. Remembering a promise to Amelia, he sent a Messenger Spell off to her.
Voldemort had his left hand on the wall for support as his wand finished producing a new silver leg. His severed leg was lying in a pool of dark blood.
Breathing heavily, Voldemort glared at Harry from behind an oscillating shield. "A metamorphmagus? I'm impressed, Potter. Both for that and because you cursed someone in the back. Not very Gryffindor of you; it was much more Slytherin."
"I learned from the best; my girlfriend is a good teacher." Harry used the distraction to cast a wordless Blasting Curse.
From within his shield Voldemort merely raised an eyebrow.
However, Harry was not aiming at Voldemort, but at the wall beside him. It exploded into the hallway, showering Voldemort with debris.
Not giving Tom a chance to regroup, Harry started casting powerful Blasting, Piercing and Hammer Fist Curses at the outline he could just make out.
Voldemort fell to the floor and did not rise.
As rapidly as possible, Harry continued casting spells both through his armband and wand. Flames, shards of ice, concussion blasts, lightning, anything and everything went toward the hunkered and unmoving figure.
In between the standard ones, Harry also cast some uncommon and very powerful spells. Shield Fracturing Hexes, a variation of the Patronus Charm that caused those of evil disposition to be weakened, the reversal to an Enchanted Flesh Spell, and even an ancient Soul Purification Spell.
After what seemed like an endless time of spells lighting the hallway, Harry came to a panting stop, weaving on his feet.
Without the glare of spells lighting the room, Harry could see Voldemort squatting on the floor, an advanced shield flickering around him.
When Voldemort looked up, Harry sagged against the wall.
Voldemort allowed his shield to lapse. "Very good, Potter. Unfortunately, not good enough." Freed from the confines of his Bunker Shield, he stood, moving slowly and painfully.
Shouting incoherently, Harry flung his arm forward and sent a Guillotine Curse, followed by a Needle Wave Curse and a conjured acid spray.
Whipping his wand around, Voldemort shielded against the first and conjured a temporary wall to intercept the last two.
When the wall evaporated seconds later, Voldemort aimed his wand. "Avada Kedavra."
Harry wandlessly and wordlessly summoned a piece of shattered wall which exploded into a cloud of dust when the Killing Curse hit it. Behind the visual screen, Harry banished a mass of debris toward his opponent.
He heard multiple thumping sounds as the projectiles hit a solid shield Voldemort had conjured. "I'm not that foolish, Potter," Voldemort called back.
Several curses came flying through the dust cloud. Harry allowed himself to simply fall over and the spells passed harmlessly over him.
Voldemort stepped past the rubble and towered above the prone form of his archenemy. "You have been a thorn in my side long enough. Ava-" The Dark Lord Voldemort let out an undignified squawk of pain as a curse slammed into his shoulder, almost pitching him to the ground.
He spun in place and stared at the figure at the top of the stairs.
The figure bowed slightly. "Heir of Slytherin, I am Godric of Gryffindor."
Harry's hand started painfully moving towards a pocket.
Voldemort was quiet for a moment before he started to chuckle. It was a thoroughly evil sound. "The Godric Gryffindor? How delicious. I have already defeated The Boy Who Lived, and now I can vanquish Gryffindor himself! This will be a day long remembered."
Godric fired a spell in response, but it was absorbed by an odd, smoky shield that Voldemort silently erected.
Eyes wide, Godric fired spells rapidly while Voldemort started chanting a long string of syllables.
No matter what spell Godric used, it was absorbed by the special shield that Voldemort was using.
Voice reaching a crescendo, Voldemort raised his wand. "I banish you from this realm, Godric Gryffindor! URK!"
Voldemort's cry of pain eclipsed that from Godric. He looked down to see the point of a sword sticking up out of his chest.
Unbelieving, he looked over his shoulder to find Harry holding himself up with his left arm as his right hand released the hilt of the legendary Gryffindor sword.
Red eyes glaring at Harry, Voldemort opened his mouth. Instead of a curse, a trickle of black blood escaped. The dark lord began to turn, wand coming to bear, but his strength gave out before he made it all the way around.
He toppled, wand falling from a slack hand. The 13 and ½ inches of yew rolled a short way before falling into a small fire the fight had produced. The wand immediately burst into flame, emitting a shower of sparks.
Panting in pain and exhaustion, Harry continued to stare at Voldemort's body as it started to decay.
He was not the only one watching. Harry heard a sigh. "Good. It is finished," Godric said quietly.
Spurred back into motion by these words, Harry levered himself up and stumbled over to Godric, who was floating in place but wavering in and out of sight.
Harry peered at him in confusion. "What's . . . What's happening?"
"I'm passing over," Godric answered simply.
Godric smiled softly. "Do not grieve, my heir. I have had much more time on this plane than I should. Riddle finished his exorcism spell; I am soon to depart anyway. Do you remember why I remained on this plane in the first place?"
Fighting wounds, exhaustion, and a skull-crushing headache, Harry panted out, "The feud . . . with Salazar . . . Slytherin."
Godric nodded and nearly faded out entirely before he came back into visibility. "The feud. Now that the Slytherin line is ended, I can rest. Be well, my heir. Do the name of Gryffindor proud."
With a bright flash of light and a muted pop, Godric Gryffindor disappeared.
Harry leaned against the wall, too drained for tears. Wearily, as he reached into a pocket of his robes for a healing potion, he felt a warning signal in his magic. One of his Alarm Wards had been tripped.
Cursing under his breath, Harry hurried back to the body, retrieved the sword, and turned to the nearest door, fumbling in his pockets for his shrunken Firebolt. In his exhaustion, he stumbled and hit his head on the doorframe, collapsing to the floor.
As black robed figures rushed towards him, he faded out of consciousness, thinking that either Amelia had reacted to his message far faster than expected or whoever had tripped the ward were not from the ministry.
Darkness claimed him.
Yes, I know Malfoy's "sticky end" line is from the movie and not the book, but it was too good not to use.
I've discovered something over the last few chapters. I'm much better at the broad strokes of a fight scene than the little details (like lines of sight, psychology, proper prior planning, reaction times, etc.). Thank my betas for the details.