June part 3
Malfoy was taking his first nap since
the siege began and had just gotten to sleep when Pansy shook him
awake. "Granger wants to talk to you," she explained. His stomach
rumbling, Malfoy climbed off the sofa, wondering bitterly why McGonagall
had never taught them how to transform inanimate objects into food.
"Professor McGonagall is bleeding
again," Hermione told him from the fireplace as several Slytherins crowded
around to listen. "Madam Pomfrey is out of speral roots for the
bloodstop potion and we were wondering. . ." Hermione's lips started to
tremble and she wiped her mouth furiously with her hand. "She says there
should be some in Professor Snape's office, with his teaching
supplies. Will you go there and check for us?"
Goyle gave a derisive hoot. "Why don't
you just floo in and get it yourself?"
"Snape said don't floo into a room
unless you know it's safe," Malfoy reminded his housemate. He turned to
Bletchley. "Where the hell is the Bloody Baron?"
"In the kitchens with the other
ghosts." The answer came not from Bletchley but from Hermione, who added,
"They're guarding the house elves."
"House elves!?" It was Malfoy's turn
to snort. He chewed for a moment on his lower lip, and Violet would have
bet a thousand galleons
she knew what was going through his mind. A tart voice was commanding
him, 'On your feet, Malfoy.' But he nodded, and as
he did, Goyle announced,
"I'll go with you."
"Me, too," offered Crabbe.
Bletchley volunteered as
well. The boys were just turning from the fireplace when Hermione called them back.
"Have you heard from Professor
Snape?" she wondered. "Or... from Harry?"
Malfoy had forgotten
trip to the hospital wing. Beside him, a guilty-looking Bletchely
"I'm sure glad I just said I'd go."
The boys left Millicent and Pansy to
catch up briefly with the Gryffindors and headed for the door. Violet
stepped hopefully in front of them and Malfoy shook his head.
think about it," he told the little snake. Violet opened her mouth to
protest but Malfoy grabbed her by her Slytherin tie, yanking her onto her
tiptoes as he bent menacingly over her. "You listen to me," he
snarled. "I didn't do anything to you the night Snape went to Hogsmeade
because that was just as much the Baron's fault. But if you EVER disobey
me again, I'll. . ."
"I know what you'll do!"
Violet gave Malfoy a swift kick in the shins to make him let go
of her. "I am a Slytherin, you know," she reminded him haughtily as
she marched away, straightening her tie as she went.
Malfoy crept to the common room door,
removed the blanket and listened intently through one of the holes. The
corridor sounded quiet. He opened the door a crack, peeked out, and then
beckoned the other three to follow him.
They made their way carefully through
the dungeon to Snape's office where they were shocked to find the door
open. Several Death Eaters were inside, ransacking the place. The
Slytherins stared in horror. The Great Hall was one thing, but Snape's
office! These monsters were defiling the inner sanctorum! Malfoy pressed
himself flat against the wall and whispered, "They are so bloody dead."
The boys crept a few feet away to one
of the many nooks and crannies they used to spy on Snape and held a quick
"Should we go back?" wondered
"NO!" Malfoy hissed. "This is OUR
dungeon. We know it like the back of our hands. We've got the
Bletchley nodded. "We need a
diversion," he suggested. "It has to be long enough to lure them out and
give us time to grab the speral roots and floo to Gryffindor before they
"Flipendos," Malfoy decided, pointing
down the corridor towards the common room. "That way. There are three
alcoves they'd have to search."
The Slytherins cast their charms and
then counted the six Death Eaters that came running out of Snape's office
before sprinting inside. Just beyond the door they stopped
short in horror.
A Death Eater was asleep on a chair
blocking the fireplace.
"Go back!" Malfoy mouthed to
the other three. Then he slipped to Snape's teaching supplies cupboard,
grabbed the tin canister of speral roots, and ran so quickly back to their
hiding place that he nearly outstripped the other three Slytherins.
The boys watched and waited. Please
six Death Eaters, please six Death Eaters, please six Death
Eaters, Malfoy chanted in his head as he waited to see how many
would return to Snape's office. To his horror, only three
came back. That left three somewhere between them and the Slytherin
common room door.
"Should we wait?" whispered Bletchley. "Will they come back eventually?"
Malfoy thought of
McGonagall, bleeding steadily, and shook his head. "Where's the nearest
fireplace in the other direction?"
"The kitchens," Bletchley told him.
Bletchley grabbed him by the arm. "We need a plan," he hissed. "Just in case. . ."
"It would be nice if we'd run into
Potter," Malfoy murmured, thinking longingly of the Gryffindor's patronus.
"If they've got dementors
them, we're going to have to retreat. But if it's just Death
Eaters. . ." He hesitated. "What do you think would happen if we tried
Bletchley shook his head. "Not a damn
thing," he insisted.
They just didn't have a killing curse
in them yet.
"Okay," Malfoy agreed. "There's
binding, stunning, or disarming. Binding takes too long to say, and
disarming doesn't always have the effect you want. But stunning sometimes
only lasts a few seconds."
"How about stunning," suggested
Goyle, "followed by binding?"
"Perfect!" Malfoy nodded. But Crabbe
shook his head.
"What if some other Death Eaters
find the bound ones and turn them loose before we get back?"
"We're not coming back," Malfoy
reminded his friend. "We'll floo back to Slytherin from Gryffindor."
With nods all around, the four boys set
They cleared two corridors with no
trouble. Then they came upon a pair of Death Eaters they handled easily,
thanks to their numbers and the element of
surprise. After that, the journey was uneventful until they approached
the last intersection before the corridor to the kitchen. They peeked
carefully around the corner, then stepped into the corridor just as five
Death Eaters rounded the far corner. One of them was their former
The Slytherins wisely shot for the
adults first and stunned them neatly. But Baddock fired off an incendio
charm that hit Malfoy squarely in the midsection, setting him on fire. He
dropped to the floor and began to roll. As Crabbe and Goyle stunned
Baddock and bound the entire party, Bletchley whirled on Malfoy to cast an
but not before an explosion ripped through the air. Malfoy screamed.
The Slytherins grabbed their wounded
housemate and dragged him into the nearest alcove. Quickly they ripped
his smoldering robe from his shoulders. "All right, Malfoy?" Bletchley
panted, his face tense.
"Half-blood Death Eaters!" Malfoy
shook his head as the boys inspected him. His robe had
him from most of the flames but when they tried to lift his jumper, he
winced. An ugly burn covered a large section of his abdomen. Malfoy
shook his head again.
"The floo powder," he
explained. "That's what exploded. It was in my side pocket."
The Slytherins looked horrified. "Did
leave any behind?" asked Goyle desperately. Malfoy shook his head.
reached for the remains of his robe and extracted the speral roots, still
safe and sound inside their tin canister.
"What are we going to do?" whispered
"We have to decide
quick," Goyle replied. "Someone could be coming because of the noise."
"We could go back," Bletchley mused,
"and wait for the Gryffindors to contact us... assuming the Death Eaters
aren't still waiting for us between Snape's office and the door."
The Slytherins frowned. Death
Eaters on the lookout were a lot scarier than Death Eaters taken unawares,
especially if there might be six of them.
"What if the Gryffindors are out of
floo powder, too?" Malfoy shook his head. "We have to keep
going. On foot."
They hesitated. It suddenly
seemed like a very
long way to Gryffindor Tower. But there was nothing else
to do. They helped Malfoy to his feet and set off.
At Gryffindor, Madam Pomfrey
supervised students taking turns pressing a compress against Professor
McGonagall's head wound until their arms gave out, trying to stop the
bleeding with pressure. Hermione waited by the fireplace for word from
the Slytherins. "Where are they?" she fretted as she paced back and
From their post guarding the portrait
hole, the twins jerked their
heads at her. Hermione hesitated. Then, with one last hopeful glance at
the fireplace, she hurried to join them.
"Look," George began. "Either they've
changed their minds, or they're in trouble."
"We need to go ourselves," Fred added.
Hermione nodded. "I'm going with
"So am I," announced a voice from
behind the nearest curtain. The trio by the door nearly jumped out of their skins. Lavender
Brown emerged to confront them, her face tear-stained but resolute.
"Bloody hell, Lavender!" scolded Fred.
"Don't do that!" He
beckoned to Ron and Seamus, commanded them to stand guard, then set off
for the dungeon with
George, Hermione and Lavender.
The Slytherins came from the
left. They crept cautiously up the corridor and prepared to turn left up
a hallway of classrooms that marked the halfway point to Gryffindor
Tower. Malfoy peeked around the corner and then popped back. Eight
former Slytherins, including Mcnair, Nott, and Baddock, were in the middle
of the hall making their way into the center classroom. Malfoy signaled
his housemates to be still and then quickly cast an
eavesdropping charm around the corner at the door the junior Death Eaters
"Where did you see them last?" Mcnair
asked Baddock. "Do you have any idea where they might have been going?"
"They were near the kitchens," Baddock
responded. "Where the hell is Montague? Why didn't he respond?"
"It doesn't matter," came Nott's response. "With eight of
us, we're two to one, and none of them can kill."
Malfoy nodded to the Slytherins and
they rushed back the way they'd come. They turned right at the next corridor,
hurrying up a short hallway that ran parallel to the classroom
corridor. They could turn right again at the intersection and continue unseen on their way to
Gryffindor... provided the junior Death Eaters stayed in the classroom.
The Gryffindors came from the
They'd almost reached the classroom corridor and were about to
turn left to go down it when the Slytherins made their right turn, spotted
the Gryffindors, and waved frantically at them to stop where they
were. They scurried to the intersection, peeked around the corner, then
backed up and waved the Gryffindors to join them. The Gryffindors
tiptoed quickly through the intersection and followed the Slytherins
several feet down the hall.
The Slytherins handed over the speral
roots and explained the situation. What to do next was the big question, and it
had to be decided in a hurry. Should they race back to their houses... or do
"They can kill and we can't," worried Lavender.
"But we have them
trapped," Fred countered.
Malfoy agreed with the older boy. "I don't want them roaming
the same halls as Snape," he insisted. "Or Potter," he added, knowing that would
decide the Gryffindors.
They split up and took their positions, the
Gryffindors up corridor, the Slytherins down. When all was ready, Malfoy stuck his head
around the corner and shouted into the classroom corridor,
He popped back into hiding just as the eight deserters came
rushing into the hall. The Gryffindors shot them from
behind, stunning four of them neatly. The remaining former
students whirled on the Gryffindors as they retreated and the Slytherins
the corridor from the opposite end and took their shots. With all eight
intruders neatly stunned, the Slytherins and Gryffindors raced down
the corridor and bound them quickly. Then they stood in a circle,
surrounding the pile of stiff enemies on the hallway floor.
"Now what?" wondered Crabbe.
It was a
difficult question. Lingering in the corridor was dangerous and
McGonagall was losing more blood every second. But...
"They're communicating somehow," Malfoy pointed
out. "I don't know how else they could have found Baddock and come
together so quickly. It's just a matter of time until their adults find
"And if that happens, we've done this
for nothing," added Fred.
Goyle turned to Hermione. "Do you have
any more floo
powder?" he asked. "Maybe we could floo them off the grounds
Hermione shook her head. "It's all
she confessed, making Malfoy wonder if they'd used their last handful to
call on Slytherin for McGongall's speral roots. "It wouldn't do any
good anyway. They have to say the destination themselves. It would take
an imperio curse to make them do it, and they'd just come right back."
long silence followed this speech. Finally, Fred spoke up.
do realize," he began haltingly, "that there are non-magic ways to. . .
No one said a word. After a
shook her head. "No," she decided. "I have a better
Her schoolmates watched in
amazement as she bent over the nearest intruder and began undressing him.
"We're changing clothes with them," she announced simply. She pulled
several pieces of everyday wizard apparel off her victim and straightened
up with the items in her hands. "There are
eight of them and eight of us," she explained. "If we're wearing their
clothes, and if we manage to be seen only from a distance, we can travel
all the way back to our houses without being molested."
"But what happens. . ." Bletchley began
"What happens when the Death Eaters
come upon eight stunned kids in Hogwarts clothes?" Fred finished the
question for him. "What
happens if they don't. . . if they don't come close enough to recognize
them before they. . ."
Hermione pulled off her robe. "We're
not responsible for Death Eater
behavior," was all she said.
The Slytherins hesitated. Suddenly
those eight children lying on the floor weren't enemies anymore. Suddenly
they were Slytherins again, Slytherins in danger from Death Eaters.
Hermione turned to them; her gaze was
not unsympathetic. "You're the ones who mentioned
Professor Snape," she reminded them.
The Slytherins nodded and began to
* * * * *
When the door to the common
opened, the Slytherins raced to greet their returning
housemates. But when they saw what the four boys were wearing, they
stopped short. Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle and Bletchley marched silently past
"What happened?" asked Violet
as they passed.
The boys ignored her. They dropped
onto the first
sofas they came to, burying their faces in their arms, and lay that
way until they fell asleep.
He'll hate me forever.
They'd been sitting on the floor of the classroom for hours,
Snape staring at Montague's lifeless body, Harry keeping watch over the
injured teacher. From the movement of the sun along the classroom wall,
Harry guessed the morning must be nearly gone.
Snape had been silent for so long that
Harry began to question the teacher's sanity. He hadn't moved or made a
when Harry had retrieved his wand from Snape's splint. The boy wondered
which was worse, the physical pain or the mental anguish? He stared
openly at the potions master and after a while, a new question occurred to
Why should Snape endure
this much suffering? Everybody wanted
to live, of course, but Snape's pain at this point had to be
unbearable. He had no family. He showed no affection for Hogwarts or its
Why did he endure?
Snape felt the stare and turned to look
at the teenager. He nodded at the question in the boy's
eyes. "Death," he admitted, "would certainly be easier." And he looked
"Then why?" Harry asked point
blank. "He didn't kill your parents." The teenager continued in a
voice that was almost contemptuous. "Why do you fight this
Snape didn't even
hesitate. "Because," he replied, turning to look the boy straight in the
eye. "You're next."
Harry thought about that for a long
Then he raised the question that had
been troubling him for hours. "Professor Snape?"
The potions master had resumed his
staring; he made no response. Harry continued anyway.
"How did they get in?" he
Snape turned to the boy. "Worried
traitor among us, Potter?" he asked archly. When Harry nodded, the
"I can think of a safer bet," Snape
assured him. His face grew bitter and Harry waited. Snape took a deep,
"It would appear," he admitted
grudgingly, "that I, too, have raised... " He hesitated, then forced
himself to say
it. "...marauders." He shook his head. "Traitorous, deserting
marauders," he finished, and each of the last three words seemed to lash
at his soul.
Harry didn't know what to think. The
idea that other students might have been as clever or marauding as his
father and godfather had never occurred to him, and clearly it had never
occurred to Snape, either. But Snape's distress, that a new set of
marauders may have existed among his departed students, offended Harry
what if some Slytherins had created a secret way into Hogwarts like the
tunnels on the marauder's map? Why did Snape have to act like it was such
a disgrace? He's overreacting, Harry thought, making
marauding seem awful because he hated my dad.
Then he followed Snape's gaze to the
carcass in the doorway and remembered what a little marauding had wrought.
He slumped dejectedly against the
Snape smiled just a bit and
Harry's temper flared. Snape couldn't possibly know what he'd
been thinking! Harry looked away and thought hard for something to
say. It came to him and he turned back to Snape defiantly.
"Are you going to admit that to the
headmaster and Professor McGonagall?"
Snape's smile faded. Harry hugged his knees and grinned
triumphantly, resting his chin on his
knees. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Snape turn slowly to regard
him through narrowed eyes. Harry paid him no mind.
Snape cuffed him upside the
was so surprised he snorted; he had to clamp a hand over his mouth to keep
from laughing out loud. I wonder how long he's wanted to do that?
he thought as he waited for his mirth to subside.
"Of course I'm going to tell
them," Snape was responding acidly. "You don't expect me to search the
grounds for a secret entrance by myself, do you?"
Harry settled back against the wall and they sat in comfortable silence. After a while, Snape hit
"What was that for?" the teenager demanded, leaning forward to rub the ear Snape had grazed with the
smack. The teacher shrugged.
"Losing your wand," he replied lightly. Harry shook his head
and chuckled as he
leaned back against the wall.
"The Dursleys could teach you a thing
or two about proper cuffing," he informed Snape with a grin. The teacher just shrugged again. But when
Harry wasn't looking, he turned away with a thoughtful frown. After a while, he shook his
head and rose.
"On your feet, Potter," he
commanded. "I have something to teach you."
Harry and Snape stood just
inside the doors to the Great Hall, watching and waiting. "Patience," Snape
had counseled, and it was the hardest thing Harry had had to do so far,
just standing and waiting for Death Eaters to discover them. Finally a
pair came around a corner and Harry and Snape bolted out of the hall and
raced out the front doors.
"They'll come," Snape had
assured him, and so they ran as fast as they could towards the forest,
praying the Death Eaters would follow. From the forest, they could end
this once and for all. There was no time to look over their
shoulders. They ran as fast as they could.
The Death Eaters emerged from
the castle, watching their prey flee before them into the woods. Then
Montague Sr. turned and the others followed him as he walked not towards the woods but around the castle.
"Somene's coming!" Goyle
screamed. "They're all coming! The whole lot of them!"
crowded around the window where Goyle had been keeping watch. Sure
enough, Death Eaters were converging on one of the recessed windows to a girls'
"What are they doing?" Pansy
shrieked, nearly hysterical. "They can't break in! They can't! They'll die
Malfoy took a deep breath. The time had come. He put a hand on Pansy's
shoulder and drawled softly,
One Death Eater could be thrown through the window, making a hole through which the rest could enter.
A Death Eater would
sacrifice one of his own in a heartbeat to accomplish a mission for
Voldemort, Malfoy knew. The Slytherins, finally realizing their situation, backed away in terror.
"Why?" cried Millicent. "Why
do they have to hurt us?"
"It's like October," Malfoy
explained, one eye glued to the window. The Death Eaters were clustered
together, talking calmly. "If they can capture one of us, they can force
Snape to surrender."
Bletchley looked out the window
over Malfoy's shoulder. "We better get ready to fight," he announced grimly.
Malfoy glanced at him, and then at the rest of his housemates. The knowledge was
written plainly on their faces. They would lose. They knew it. It would take a while, but
in the end, they'd be slaughtered, right down to the last Slytherin left alive to be taken hostage.
"We could flee," Crabbe
Malfoy scowled. "Where?"
The other 5th year thought it over. "Gryffindor
Tower?" he suggested. "There'd be twice as many to fight!"
"And twice as many to
die," Malfoy countered. But he looked tempted.
"Works for me," Crabbe nodded.
From outside came the sudden
shout of raised voices. The Slytherins crowded around the window. A
Death Eater had been selected. He was backing away, shouting in terror,
and Montague Sr. was raising his wand. The Slytherins turned away. Some covered their ears to block out the scream and the blast of
the killing curse.
"Sacrifice!" Goyle suddenly shouted. His housemates turned to him in surprise. "We could
make a sacrifice," the boy went on. "Fool them!"
Malfoy regarded him through narrowed eyes. "What do you mean?"
"If a Slytherin leaves
voluntarily," Goyle explained, "the others might live."
Malfoy shook his head. "But
then Snape dies."
"Not necessarily." Goyle drew his wand and gripped it tightly. "The Slytherin could start
throwing curses, injuring the Death Eaters, one after another, until he forces them to..."
No one spoke. Goyle looked around the room, then nodded once.
"We'll draw wands," he suggested. "Just the older years."
The sound of window glass
breaking in one of the cells, amplified by the eavesdropping charm, rang out across the common room. Several Slytherins screamed. Goyle
thrust his wand resolutely in front of him and so did several older
"You pick, Violet," Goyle ordered.
Suddenly Malfoy whirled on the
smallest Slytherin, wide-eyed, as if seeing her for the first
time. "You!" he cried, and Violet fell back a step as
Malfoy pointed at her. "Daughter of Voldemort!"
Slytherins gasped, horrified by what they thought Malfoy was
proposing. Their thickness was enough to make him scream.
"HEIR OF SLYTHERIN!" he
He grabbed Violet by the collar and bolted for the common room
door. Suddenly the Slytherins understood. They streaked after him, racing
as fast as they could go... to Moaning Myrtle's bathroom.
"Please, God," Malfoy prayed as they
thundered along the corridors. "Please let the booby traps work."
Myrtle had no idea what was going on. "What are you doing in here?" she demanded of
the Slytherins, most of whom she'd never seen before. Bletchley, who'd
brought up the rear, slammed the lavatory door shut behind him and locked
it with a charm.
"If we survive, we'll tell you
all about it," Malfoy promised, searching desperately for the appropriate
"Or if we die, too, I
guess," Crabbe added, and Violet kicked him.
"Help me look!" screamed Malfoy.
Myrtle floated indignantly out to the corridor just as Malfoy found
the tap with the serpent symbol on it. He pulled Violet over to it. "Go
ahead, Violet," he prompted, trying to sound encouraging. "You can do it."
Violet's lips trembled. Only if it's a combination
lock, she thought, and she pulled miserably on her fingers as she faced the sink that hid the entrance
to the Chamber of Secrets. How was she supposed to open this thing when
her parseltongue was limited to numbers?
"Just try anything!" Malfoy
"Help us, Salazar," Violet
whispered in plain English. The Slytherins shook their heads at her and
Myrtle popped back through the door.
"Someone's coming!" she sang cheerily. "Quite a few someones, actually."
"Hurry up, Violet!" cried Millicent.
Violet squared her shoulders and tried again. "Please help us!" she begged
the snake image on the faucet. Nothing happened and her housemates shook
their heads again, harder this time. She was still speaking English.
From outside the bathroom came the
sound of running footsteps. The Slytherins pressed closer together and
tears sprang to Violet's eyes. The footsteps grew louder; the Death Eaters had rounded the nearest corner.
"Try again," Malfoy counseled forcing himself to stay calm.
Violet took a deep breath. Then she screamed at the top of her lungs:
"SAVE YOUR SLYTHERINS!"
Her housemates had no idea what she'd said, for the words came out in a language none of them
understood. But the entrance slid open and one by one, the Slytherins jumped into the pipe and slid down into
the chamber. Bletchley dived in head first and the entrance slammed neatly
shut behind him just as the Death Eaters came blasting through the door. They stared at the deserted lavatory in confusion as Moaning
Myrtle announced indignantly,
"This is a girls' bathroom."
"Potter's cracked. This place is
Malfoy and the Slytherins gazed about
in awe at Salazar's creation. A few feet away, Violet was jumping up and
down, crunching rodent bones beneath her feet. Only Crabbe seemed
"How are we gonna get out of here?" he
wondered. Malfoy gave him a smirk.
"Snape will figure out where we are,"
the fifth year drawled. "Or Myrtle will tell somebody. If I have to, I'll
levitate us into a human ladder."
"We should make this our private
clubhouse!" cried Violet, still bouncing up and down. She
found the animal remains comfortingly reminiscent of Snape's office. Her
housemates formed a contemptuous circle around her, their arms folded
across their chests, as Malfoy asked her with a sneer,
"How are we supposed to get in, you
Violet grew still, thinking it over.
smiled at the formidable ring of snakes surrounding her.
"I guess I get
to be president!"
At first Snape had been
delighted when Mr. Weasley's car had shown up. He'd tried to hide it, but
Harry could tell he was thrilled to have an opportunity to climb
inside. As for the young wizard, he was just glad to see a little color in Snape's face and a cessation, however brief, of the pain
reflected in his eyes. But as they sat side by side on the front seat,
Snape's fears slowly returned.
The Death Eaters had not followed them
into the forest, and now the two wizards were stuck there. They could not
try and return through the front door of the castle; that would be
suicide. The Death Eaters could be lurking anywhere, waiting to pick them
off when they came out into the open. They had only one handful of floo
powder left, the one Snape had given Harry in the library over 24 hours
ago. It was still in Harry's pocket.
It had seemed like such a good idea, to
lure the Death Eaters into the forest where they could fight from behind
the safety of the trees. Now Snape sat quietly beside Harry in the car,
sick with worry about what might be going on inside the castle as twilight
fell. The forest was quiet; only the birds twittered as
they settled into their nests for the night.
"What's the first
thing you're going to do when this is over?"
Harry startled himself with the
suddenness of his own question. He couldn't believe such a
personal inquiry had popped out of his mouth. But Snape answered without
"Sneak out of the hospital wing and
spend a week with Madam Rosmerta."
"The barmaid at the Three Broomsticks?"
The answer delighted Harry. Snape shrugged.
"She's very good at making people feel
He was amused by his own candor, particularly as he
imagined Minerva's reaction to the conversation. Then he sobered, wondering how she
The forest began to stir around them,
snapping and creaking with night sounds. Harry tensed. When Snape gasped, he nearly
jumped through the roof of the car.
"What is it?" he whispered as Snape clutched the
shoulder of his
splinted left arm, rigid with pain. The boy feared his teacher might be having some
sort of seizure, perhaps brought on by all his body had endured over the last 24 hours.
"Summons," Snape hissed through
clenched teeth. "Voldemort."
Harry didn't want to believe it. "Why would he
"Not me," Snape explained, relaxing a bit as the
pain eased. "Not now. It must be a summons to the whole group."
Harry sat bolt upright. "Then they'll
leave!" he cried eagerly. "Won't they? They'll leave!" He leaned forward to peer out
the windshield towards the front of the castle. Sure enough, the Death Eaters were
emerging. Only about a dozen
were left. But they didn't head for the entrance to the grounds, several hundred yards to Harry's right. They stood together, talking. Snape
leaned forward, frowning hard.
"Why don't they go?" Harry
"They're afraid," Snape told
him. "Afraid to go back without me."
Harry stared hard at the intruders,
wishing he could see their faces through the gloomy dusk. "What would
Voldemort do to them?"
"Potter," Snape hissed, "I try not to
think about things like that."
He drew his wand and told Harry to get
ready. The Gryffindor had to ask just one more question.
"What do you suppose
happened to the dementors?"
Snape could only shake his head.
At the castle, the Death
Eaters began moving towards the forest, wands drawn. Harry started to get
out of the car and Snape grabbed his arm. "When they don't return to Voldemort fast enough, Potter, the Dark Lord might. . ." His voice
trailed off and Harry nodded. Snape let go of him and they both got out
of the car.
The plan turned out to be an excellent
one. Shooting Death Eaters from behind trees was far safer than firing at
them in wide corridors. But best of all, Harry's sudden mastery of the
killing curse threw them into a panic. He couldn't really do it, of
course. Snape had spent hours teaching him how to fake it, and the ruse
worked brilliantly. The frightened intruders scurried desperately as
curses flew, shoving each other out into the open as they
raced from tree to tree. Their own jittery shots sailed harmlessly into
the forest. When there were only four left, they fled.
But they didn't run to the entrance.
In their panicky rush to flee the
grounds and apparate back to their master, they chose the fastest escape
route possible, running in the opposite direction of the Hogwarts
entrypoint. Harry and Snape watched in delight as they streaked to a
section of the wall a few hundred yards to the left, cast their wands
towards the ground, charmed open a large hole beneath the wall, dropped
into it, and rolled out of sight.
"Hurry!" Snape ordered. "We'll gather
the wands and then deal with that hole." Harry rushed to the nearest
Death Eater. It was growing dark rapidly. Soon it would be extremely
difficult to find bodies strewn about the forest floor.
When they'd gathered all the wands,
Harry hurried over to Snape. He'd just held out a handful for Snape to
take when he suddenly staggered backwards and fell to the ground, dropping
the wands as he gripped his forehead in agony.
"Potter!" Snape cried, snatching up the spilled wands as he hurried to Harry's side.
The pain was crippling. Harry couldn't
move. He couldn't see, he couldn't speak.
As he crouched beside Harry, Snape turned his head and
squinted through the darkness at the section of the wall with the hole
A lone wizard was crawling through it onto the grounds.
pocketed the Death Eater
wands. He crawled a few feet from Harry, gathered some dry leaves and
brush together with his good hand, pointed his own wand and whispered,
"Incendio endotious." A small fire of cold blue flames burst forth.
Snape crawled back to Harry, reached in
the boy's pocket to retrieve the last of their floo powder, then pulled
the teenager awkwardly to his feet with his good arm. He dragged Harry
into position over the cold fire, pressed the floo powder into his hand,
and whispered desperately, "I need help, Potter. Light! Light over the
grounds. Tell Granger I need light over the grounds! Now say
Harry could hear him, but every word
seared past his eardrums and tore agonizingly through his brain. Snape
glanced at the wall. The wizard was advancing steadily towards the
"'Gryffindor, Potter! Say
'Gryffindor!'" Snape commanded.
Harry's lips moved soundlessly. Snape
took a deep breath.
"I am sorry, Potter," he
whispered, and leaning the boy heavily against him, he reached up with his
wand and pressed viciously on Harry's scar.
"Gryffindor!" Harry screamed in pain
just before he disappeared.
Snape extinguished the fire and raced deeper into the forest. He could no longer see the approaching
wizard. He stopped and stood very still, listening hard.
Harry flew into the Gryffindor common
room and landed in a heap, still curled tight with
Hermione tore across the common room with a scream, Madam Pomfrey and Ron close behind. They crouched low over
the boy, whose mouth opened and shut soundlessly.
"What's he trying to say?" Ron asked, pressing his face close to his friend's.
Madam Pomfrey shook her head and set to work trying to relieve Harry's pain.
In the forest, Snape waited and listened. Soon it
would be too late. Voldemort would reach the trees and light on the
grounds would do him no good. He hadn't really held out much hope for the
idea; even if Potter could communicate through his pain, not even Granger
could whip up an illumination potion that quickly, he suspected. But the
incapacitated teenager was safe in Gryffindor Tower for now; that was something.
He pressed himself tight against a
tree, keeping as still as possible. Can he see me? he wondered. How
does Montague's eye work for him? He stiffened at the memory of his dead student's face and his discovery of what the Dark Lord had done
to the boy. Voldemort could no more
see him in the dark, he decided, than he could see the evil wizard, or he'd be dead
already. Project for this summer, Snape lectured himself. Learn to become
He jumped. Somewhere behind him, a twig had snapped. He circled to the other side of the tree, wand at the
ready. After a few moments, a twig snapped to his right and he circled
What is he playing at? Snape
wondered. Voldemort couldn't illuminate his wand tip without giving his
own location away, and without light, he couldn't see to hurl a hex or curse at Snape.
A twig snapped behind him and Snape
took off at a run. He tripped over a fallen log and sprawled on his face,
his wand flying out of his hand. It took all the willpower he had not to
scream in agony as he landed on his broken arm. His wand hit a tree
several yards away, emitting a shower of sparks before it fell to the
floor of the forest. It would be impossible to find without light.
"That will do," came Voldemort's high, cold voice from a few yards away.
Snape leapt to his feet and sprinted
further into the woods. He might be disarmed, but he still
had the trees. He could jump the dark wizard from behind. Darkness was
on his side. From a short distance, Voldemort cackled.
"Forgive my brief stay," he called
shrilly. "It's best not to be too close when they're frenzied."
Snape heard him retreating back towards
the grounds. He followed the sound of the departing footsteps carefully
until he could see the lawns of Hogwarts, now vaguely illuminated by a
rising moon that could not penetrate the deep forest. Voldemort was
leaving. He walked rapidly back to the hole beneath the wall and crawled
Snape waited. It had to be a
trick. The hole didn't close, for one thing. If he sprinted for
the castle, Voldemort could cut him off easily. Could he possibly find
his wand? Could he make a Death Eater wand work well enough to
generate some light to search by? Did he dare even try to create any
Then he felt it... the sick,
soul-draining despair of the dementors. They were pouring through the
hole and floating steadily towards the forest.
Snape fled frantically in the direction
of his lost wand.
In Gryffindor, Harry sat up suddenly as
his pain abruptly stopped.
"Light!" he screamed at Hermione. "Snape
needs light on the grounds!"
He sprang to his feet, knocking over
Hermione and poor Madam Pomfrey as he tore across the room and out the portrait hole.
"Which one?!" called Neville from the other side of the common room. The place was filled with
tables full of potion
ingredients and cauldrons Hermione had been setting up since the siege began.
"That one!" she screamed, pointing at the table
next to a desk where a convalescious potion was bubbling, and the two
Gryffindors hurried over to it. Hermione brewed so quickly that Neville
could barely keep up with his half-paced root cutting.
Downstairs, Harry burst through the
front doors of the castle and stopped short. A stream of dementors was
floating across the grounds towards the forest, reminding him for all the
world of Aragog's children. There were more than thirty. There were more
than a hundred. Harry guessed there might have been as many as three
He tore off at a dead run for the
forest. "Professor Snape!" he screamed as he ran. "Professor Snape!"
The potions master shouted back and Harry
crashed into the forest, wand illuminated. He searched
frantically for the potions master and found him on his hands and knees,
groping in every direction. He could only be searching for one
Harry surveyed the tangled brush and
thick forest floor. It would take hours to
find a lost wand in all of that; a summoning charm would only break it as it crashed through the undergrowth. Snape must have realized it, too, for he
didn't even bother to shout at Harry to help him. Instead, he climbed
wearily to his feet. They checked the progress of the dementors, who had
almost reached the forest, and together walked slowly to the edge of
the trees, where there would be nothing to obscure Harry's aim.
"I'm certain they're only ordered to
destroy me," Snape told Harry softly. "If you can't drive them off, then
run back to the castle and find Dumbledore. He'll make sure they don't
try to come back inside." The boy didn't look at him. He kept his eyes
squarely on the dementors. "I might be able to evade them in the
forest," Snape added lightly.
Harry snorted to
himself. Snape would be lucky to survive another twenty minutes without medical
attention. But that wasn't a happy thought. So he pondered instead a
question he would ask Snape the moment the dementors were gone and cried,
" Expecto patronum!" His patronus burst forth and charged gallantly
at the dementors.
At first it seemed to work. The
nearest dementors backed away. But those behind them held firm. Harry's
stag could only scatter about a third of them at a time, and when he
turned on the others, the previous group reassembled. Even if Snape's wand had survived a summoning, Harry realized, two patronuses would not have been enough
to defeat this many dementors. Beside him, he heard the tiniest moan escape Snape's lips.
Then, high above, Hermione suddenly appear at a window in Gryffindor Tower. She was holding out her
cauldron. But instead of tossing the illumination potion in the air, she gave a shrill whistle. Harry's stag raced towards the castle and when he drew near
enough, Hermione flung the potion at him with all her might. As the magic brew washed over the patronus, a blinding light filled the grounds.
Snape and Harry shielded their eyes as an explosion knocked them to the ground. When they looked up again, a
dozen shimmering white stags were thundering across the grounds at the
dementors. The dark hooded figures fled before them, scrambling madly
through the hole, and Harry watched in awe as the stags leapt the great
stone wall surrounding Hogwarts to chase them far away from the
school. As the sound of their hooves pounding the earth gradually faded,
Harry rolled over to confront Snape.
"How did she know?" he wondered.
little know-it-all," was all the potions master replied.
He climbed painfully to his feet and
jerked his head at the wall. "Come, Mr. Potter," he ordered
patiently. "I'll teach you how to deal with illicit entry points."
Harry just sat there. Snape raised an
eyebrow at such disobedience and Harry grinned broadly and asked the question he'd been looking forward to.
"Lose your wand,
Snape folded his arms across his chest,
no small trick for a man with a splint. "Just for that, Potter," he replied coolly, "I won't show you how to charm it so no one can use it but
The hole was rapidly sealed and
Snape leaned against the wall and slid to a sitting position on the
ground. "Just for a moment or two," he told Harry, who was most eager to get Snape to the hospital wing.
The teenager sat
down beside his teacher. His stomach growled and he realized for the first time
how hungry he was. As he relaxed, his mind filled with
"What will he do now?" he asked. There was no need to mention the Dark Lord's name.
Snape thought it over. "He's
experienced a major setback," the teacher mused. "It will take time to recruit
more Death Eaters." He glanced sideways at the teenager and prepared to
enjoy a moment of vengeance for the wand remark. "It may be safe to send
our students home after all. I foresee another summer with the Dursleys for
young Harry Potter."
Harry scowled at the prospect of
several weeks with bullies and Snape, reading the thoughts right off the boy's face, nodded to himself.
Boy, I know
exactly how you feel.
But all he said was, "You know, Potter, Malfoy will need someplace to spend the summer."
The thought of what he and Malfoy could do to Dudley Dursley all summer made Harry grin so hard Snape wondered the boy's head
didn't split open. He climbed to his feet, offered Harry a hand, pulled the boy up, and together they walked back to the castle.
The Smallest Slytherin