Continuing Tales

Just Let it Happen

A Harry Potter Story
by La. Bel. LM

Part 34 of 35

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Just Let It Happen

Severus shifted uncomfortably. The Hippogriff shifted with him. It was a very large animal, with a wingspan that was awe-inspiring and talons that were frankly terror-inspiring. The beast's eyes had a sharpness to them as well, a lethal cunning that made Severus think he had chosen wisely for a mount. This was a Hippogriff that would not go down without a fight. Severus rather thought he had found a kindred spirit in that regard.

All around him the air buzzed with tension. Hardly anyone spoke, but it was the little sounds of preparation for battle that seemed to make the most noise. Order members paced amongst the dry leaves, their cloaks rustling, as they whispered spells and self-encouragement, testing the dexterity of their wand arms with swift, practiced movements. Then there were the Hippogriffs—seven in all—which Hagrid the gamekeeper had provided in an unexpected burst of usefulness. The air was thick with the Hippogriffs' snorts, ruffling feathers and flapping wings, their disgruntled pawing at the ground, and the heavy, rhythmic clinking of their armor. Ironically, the armor was more the reason for the Hippogriffs than the Hippogriffs were for the armor. For this was no ordinary armor: Magnificent and gleaming, goblin-made chest plates and head ornaments that Dumbledore had managed to unearth from the untold mysteries of his Gringotts vault (Merlin only knew what all he had tucked away in there). The material had been specifically forged to resist dark magic with a strength and dependability that no combination of spell or wizard could hope to produce.

So it was that the Order of the Phoenix assembled their front lines with towering winged beasts, fierce-eyed, sharp-clawed, and shining in the setting sun like divine creatures of mythical lore. Seven wizards would ride them into battle with the rest following closely behind on broomsticks.

At the moment, the Order had gathered in a small pocket of wood on the far side of Godric's Hollow, a few minutes swift flight from Godric's manor itself. The reason they waited there for dusk was because they intended to descend from the west, blinding their enemies with the sun at their backs.

Severus took a breath and looked around at their small army. He lingered on those now mounted (or near to mounted) on Hippogriffs. Then he let the breath out again, very slowly.

For a long time—longer than he would care to admit—Severus had, in some small, sad, delusional part of his brain, imagined himself leading the charge into battle. Him, the shining knight, in a blaze of glorious redemption, proving once and for all his ultimate worth to the wizarding world at large.

He had never, however, with any coherent or logical bone in his body, believed that he actually would lead the charge.

And he certainly never believed that several of him would.

The entire stock of polyjuice potion that Severus kept on reserve in Hogwarts castle had been depleted—just enough to transform six Order members into exact Severus copies.

Or… almost exact.

For some baffling reason, only the real Severus retained the queer stripe of snowy white hair at his temple. A mark distinguishing him from the rest, and a distinction that Severus did not altogether regret. He wanted to be recognized. He wanted to be there in the front of everything—him, the traitor, the double traitor, staring down Voldemort in a righteous flame of ultimate penance.

How would the Dark Lord react when he saw an army of Snapes descending upon him from the sun-blazoned sky? Voldemort's biggest mistake, his deepest betrayal—Severus—the most glaring, blinding evidence of the Dark Lord's failure to exploit Dumbledore's trust and love and powers of forgiveness.

He wouldn't know what hit him.

Severus felt the gratifying swell in his chest dim into a faint feeling of nausea in the pit of his stomach as he watched so many ridiculous people inhabiting his own body.

He frankly had to resist the rising urge to light himself on fire at the sight of Hagrid lumbering around like an oaf in his image. No care for poise or awareness of limbs. Swinging his arms back and forth, grumbling and mumbling, and all the time looking utterly bewildered.

Severus was equally if not more disturbed by the unmistakable twinkle in Dumbledore-Snape's eyes, as he, of all things, smiled pleasantly while talking politely with the pink-haired Nymphadora Tonks. Severus Snape did not have polite conversations. And certainly not with persons so giggly and moronic as Tonks. Yet there he was. Chatting amiably. Smiling pleasantly. Twinkling away. It was obscene.

Strangely, Minerva-Snape looked very much as Severus suspected that he normally looked—though with perhaps a bit less disgust for everything in the world. Very straight, very thin-lipped, arms crossed, narrow-eyed and aware. Alright, Minerva, he thought grudgingly. You pass.

Lupin, on the other hand, did nothing of the sort. Lupin-Snape stood casually (casually, for Christ's sake, hands on his hips as though reclining into gossip hour at some damnable fairy unicorn princess tea party). And yet… as Severus watched him, some small part of Severus thought that he vaguely sort of liked the aura that such a particular posture gave him. He looked relaxed, inviting, bereft of all his usual tension. He looked like any regular old, charming, middle-aged bloke. Less like a steel spring pulled tight, waiting in anxious agony for his catch to trip so that he could snap his prey into a trap of razor sharp teeth and snarly condescension.

And still yet again… as Severus took another breath and once more swept his gaze over his many and varied copies, he could not help but notice that there was something about him, his image, that was different from his usual self and yet consistent among all of his selves that he now saw. He wondered if it was simply that strange beings were in control of his physical form, but there was something else, something they all shared, that shot straight through like a thin, incandescent wire holding them all together. There was some kind of vaguely… fulfilled nature about him. Outwardly, the Severus copies still looked ravaged by Azkaban; he was thinner, and paler, and more hallowed than ever. Yet there was a happiness there in the lines of his face that had not been present before. A fulfilled happiness that bespoke of the deep satisfaction of kept promises, and of the hope of promises still to be realized. The deep satisfaction of a deeply satisfying night. Could it be… Could it really have been… After all this time, had Hermione Granger, in fact, managed to change him in some small way?

Severus shook his head firmly. The Hippogriff echoed his movements and shifted impatiently again beneath him. Severus tightened his grip with his knees, the buzz of excitement and fear returning to his chest, making his heart pump strong and fast. Any moment now. The time had almost come. They were so close…

One by one, Order members concluded their preparations and mounted their respective modes of flight. Those on Hippogriffs slowly gravitated towards each other, the beasts' armor clinking and gleaming, until they formed one very straight seven-figured line. Moody and Hagrid were on the far ends, Lupin and McGonagall next to each of them, and then, in the center, was Dumbledore, flanked on the left by Potter, and on the right by Severus himself.

Only suiting, he thought. Here I am. Dumbledore's right hand man.

Severus's fist clenched convulsively around his wand as the remaining forty-three Order members crowded into formation behind him. Well, he told himself it was his wand—and it technically was now—though its previous owner would perhaps not have welcomed such change in ownership. Severus was surprised that Sirius's wand felt so good in his hand; it felt obedient, charged, ready for action—as though the wand itself were seeking revenge for the death of its owner, and was more than willing to give immediate allegiance to anyone who shared that desire. Severus's own wand would have, of course, been preferable. But he had personally watched as the Ministry official snapped it clean in half right under Severus's nose. Then he'd been taken to Azkaban…

As the last wizard finally shifted into place, and the formation was completed, there came a moment of total stillness. Empty silence. Everyone drew breath at once.

Dumbledore-Snape raised his wand arm high. He made the slightest suggestion of a signal, and said simply into the silence, "Now."

As one, all of Dumbledore's Army flung themselves into the sky. The setting sun blazed at their backs as they burst through the treetops, the wind howling in their ears, their blood vibrating in their veins. They surged forward in one glorious wave, onwards over the woods, wands outstretched, onwards over Godric's Hollow, spells ready in their throats, onwards toward Godric's manor, onwards, on to battle…

And then, in no time at all, in the blink of an instant, they were there.

Severus realized dimly as they descended, that his left forearm was on fire with pain. For how long? He hadn't even noticed! It didn't matter now, there was no turning back. The alarm had clearly been raised before the Order could reach the manor, calling the Death Eaters to action, for when Dumbledore and his army crested the high hedges and swarmed over the vast, manicured lawns, a crowd of dark robed and masked figures were already awaiting them. Even more were Apparating into view as the seconds ticked by.

Severus had only a small amount of time in which to wonder if, after all this, their small army might yet be outnumbered—before a shrill, malevolent cry rose from the skeletal form of Voldemort, standing tall behind his growing sea of minions, and the battle began with a barrage of curses from below.

A green flash missed him narrowly, by a scant few inches, and Severus wheeled his Hippogriff into a spectacular barrel roll to the side. Clinging tight with his knees, he flung out his arm, sending three swift hexes, in quick succession, at the swarm of Death Eaters beneath him. Two fell. Another dodged and then tried to jinx Severus in return, but he had already blown past.

A few volleys from Voldemort's followers was all it took before the Order's tightly formed lines broke apart, brooms and Hippogriffs and falling wizards scattering in every direction.

Chaos ensued.

"Avada Kedavra!"



Severus blocked a jet of fire that came at him from his left, a wave of heat washing over him with a burst of hot embers. A jinx rebounded in another shower of sparks off the Hippogriff's armor to his right. He retaliated with an explosive curse to the ground that sent four cloaked figures flying.

"WHERE'S POTTER! WHICH ONE'S POTTER!" Voldemort's furious screams cut through the air. "FIND POTTER! FIND POTTER!"

A broom darted into his path—a flash of red hair and glasses, Arthur Weasley—and Severus had to pull up sharply, almost unseating himself. Something exploded in the air directly above him, making his Hippogriff dart downwards again. His view was soon clouded with smoke and colored ash.


In the confusion, Severus realized that he had flown clear past the lawn where everyone fought. He wheeled around, wand poised again for attack. Another ball of fire roared towards him and he had just enough time to duck. Black smoke filled his mouth and lungs, leaving him coughing and teary-eyed.

It was very difficult to see through all the flashes, smoke, and dizzying swarms of wizards, below. But as Severus rubbed at his eyes and scanned the ground, he noticed two figures—Snape figures—land their Hippogriffs on the lawn, dismount, and charge into the thick of the action. They were headed straight for Voldemort—one of them crouched and trotting nervously alongside the other, who was striding with an unmistakably powerful stride, hurling Death Eaters to and fro like rag dolls. This was Dumbledore and Potter.

Severus threw his Hippogriff after them, en route to assist, dodging curses and hurling hexes all the way.

It was quickly apparent, however, that Potter was the only one who would require assistance. Even though he looked like Severus Snape, it was impossible to mistake the man now plunging through the enemy lines as anyone other than Albus Dumbledore. The man simply crackled with power. Literally. All around him the air sparked and zapped with what looked like bolts of purple lightning, lethal and electric and writhing with insurmountable magic, uncontainable, unimaginable.

Voldemort recognized at once who was after him, and with a howl of rage, he charged forward to meet him.

There was a flash and a bang; suddenly, Severus found himself hurtling towards the ground. He hit the grass with a hard thud. Ears ringing, body throbbing with pain, he rolled to the side and leapt at once to his feet. His Hippogriff was several feet away already, screeching with anger, sharp talons flashing, as it detangled itself from its wings and lashed out against the Death Eaters that had blown them from the sky.

Severus turned away without pause; he no longer required the beast and had his own hide to worry about. With an expert jet of light, Severus took out a Death Eater bearing down on him from the right. Then he ran. He streaked forward, past half-destroyed fountains and hedges—past the petite Nypmhadora Tonks, who was shooting jinxes as she stood protectively over what looked like a Snape figure sprawled on the ground—and plunged himself deeper into the fray after the retreating forms of Dumbledore and Potter.

Four more downed enemies and a scorching burn across his shoulder later, Severus broke through the throng of battle to see Dumbledore-Snape and Voldemort locked in mortal combat. Their combined powers were magnificent. The very earth seemed to tremble beneath their feet. They had even created around them a perimeter of empty space that no one—Order member or Death Eater—dared to broach. Fire and lightning, and momentous explosions of raw magic clashed between them, thundering off to each side, shooting into the air above them, cratering the ground all around.

But… where was Potter?

Potter had been there at Dumbledore's side just a moment ago. Now he had disappeared.

Severus searched furiously.

No… Wait. There he was. There he…

"OH BLOODY HELL!" Barely having caught his breath, Severus immediately launched once again into a full-out sprint towards the Potter-Snape—who was just now engaging himself in one-on-one combat with none other than Bellatrix Lestrange.

Severus's lungs burned as he ran. Bloody hell, bloody hell, bloody hell. He barely noticed what was going on around him. He blocked a hex. He shoved past Shacklebolt, past Molly Weasley. He blasted a Death Eater out of his way. Almost in slow motion, he saw it play out: Potter lasted only as long as it took for him to cast two spells—each of which were effortlessly killed in the air by the crazed woman, Lestrange.

She sent the boy's wand flying out of his hand with no effort at all.

Severus ran faster and faster. His legs were aching. Potter was their last chance, he had to live.

Lestrange was just bringing her wand down for the kill, cackling with glee, when Severus put on a final burst of speed and threw himself bodily into Potter, knocking him out of the way just in time.

"IDIOT BOY!" Severus snarled, leaping to his feet again, his burned shoulder screaming with pain. Then he hurled himself after Bellatrix, who, without hesitation, took up the fight with him instead, her face contorted with rage and betrayal.

"Snape himself!" she hissed, and sent a killing curse flying at his face, which he only just managed to dodge.

Severus had the vague impression that Potter got to his feet and scampered away after his fallen weapon—but then he was aware of nothing else. Severus was locked in a duel with Bellatrix Lestrange.

She and her wand was all he knew for a very long time.

Hermione strained to keep up with the Weasley brothers, a stitch developing in her side as they jogged down the dirt road around the perimeter of Godric's Hollow. The Order had long become indistinguishable figures in the distance—perhaps were even now engaged in war.

She tried to run faster, breathing hard. They had lost a bit of time at the start, standing there in the middle of the road in dazed, paralyzed shock, staring after the army of Snapes as they flashed by on armored Hippogriffs.

The boys had recovered a bit quicker than Hermione it seemed, because her mind was still reeling.

Wow… In all honesty… Wow.

Severus, she thought. You idiot. You deranged, twisted, brilliant idiot.

And that was about all her mind could conclude. Everything else seemed lost in a gray static somewhere—out of reach and smothered by nerves and terror and anticipation for the fight ahead.

"Come on, Hermione," Ron shouted encouragingly. "Catch up!"

"Alright," she mumbled to herself, "alright, alright." She increased her pace—and she rather thought the boys decreased theirs a little—so that she was able to fall in step with them once more.

"Sorry," said George.

Fred added, "We should probably try to stay together."

Ron seemed as though he were barely able to contain himself from taking off again in a sprint. "Can't you go just a little bit faster?" he pleaded. He was anxious to get there, to fight, to help Harry.

"I'm going as fast as I can," Hermione ground back, now holding her hand to her side and pressing down hard, trying to will the stitch away.

George, in a burst of unhelpfulness, said, "Guess we're a bit more in shape."

Hermione's temper flared. "How do you figure that?" she snapped, thinking that they would probably be whimpering and immovable on the ground if they had been put through the things she had endured over the past few days.

"Well, we did all play for the house team," suggested Ron.

"Oh, yeah?" Hermione panted. "Get a lot of running in Quidditch, do you?"

"I just want to get there," he whined back.

Something clicked in Hermione's head; a furious, righteous energy ignited. "Aright," she said, "you want to get there? Let's get there!" With that, she put her wand between her teeth, bit down hard, closed her eyes, and, with a running, flying leap, transformed seamlessly into her Animagus form in midair. She hit the ground on all fours, her wand still clutched in her teeth.

With a flurry and scamper of paws, she was yards ahead of them before the three boys could so much as blink.

"Bloody brilliant!" Fred whooped from somewhere behind her.

"You'll have to teach me that one!" crowed George.

Come on, boys, she thought. Catch up.

Harry had his wand back, now, clutched so tightly in his hand that his knuckles ached. His initial flash of brazen courage and anger had diminished somewhat after being trounced so easily by Bellatrix. Instead, he heard Ginny's voice in the back of his head, over and over again: Don't be a brave bloody prat.

Of course, at the moment, he rather needed to be bloody brave. But… prat he should certainly endeavor to avoid.

Harry ran, dodged and ducked his way through battle, following the distant evidence of Dumbledore and Voldemort's fight. He felt more aware than he ever had before of his own limitations. Seventeen years old and can't take on Voldemort's lackey for more than thirty seconds. He hadn't slept in a year it felt like, and at every turn of the head, someone else was jumping in to save his neck.

And here, he was supposed to kill Voldemort, was he?

Brave bloody prat indeed.

In actuality, he would need to be a sort of prat after all, to take on Voldemort. Only a prat would be stupid enough to try.

But he wasn't alone. He had Dumbledore…

Just up ahead, Harry could finally see where the thick of bodies parted, and two great wizards held claim over a wide circle of empty space. There were clouds of some manner of substance, a raw collaboration of magic perhaps, roiling above them.

For the moment, it looked as though Dumbledore were pushing Voldemort back—farther and farther, until they were almost at the door to the mansion itself.

Voldemort was encased from head to toe in Dumbledore's purple lightning, a cocoon that pulsated violently as the dark wizard struggled to fend it off. Every so often, flashes of the lightning would explode outward, evidence that Voldemort was simultaneously trying to free himself as well as turn the lightning against its maker.

Dumbledore, with steady steps, walked ever forward, wand held high. The air around him seemed to shimmer… And upon closer inspection, Harry realized that the air shimmered from heat. Even from a distance he could see that Dumbledore-Snape was sweating profusely, his cheeks red and shining, as he battled to both keep Voldemort contained, and to dispel whatever curse was now slowly suffocating him.

Harry crouched behind a small hedge animal, waiting for the right moment to run the last dozen or so yards to Dumbledore's side. (They were almost inside the mansion, now; he had to be with them before they went inside).

All around him, the battle raged on. People screaming, spells clashing and rebounding, flashing by overhead.

He thought he heard Bellatrix for a moment call out in triumph. But the call was so passing and faint, and there were so many confusing things going on at once, that Harry was sure he had imagined it.

Hardly anyone was airborne anymore. A few of Dumbledore's Army retained their high ground on broomstick—but those brave few still aloft were drawing more than their fair share of enemy fire from below, and they would soon have to land.

Either by choice or by force, the seven Hippogriffs had been more or less abandoned. Riderless, they galloped about in a righteous fury, spells bouncing harmlessly off their sides, their wings sending whirls of dust and smoke spreading in every direction. They were smart creatures, though, and they knew whose side they fought for. Several of them played defense, streaking back and forth across the lawn in a flurry of feathers and hooves to place themselves in front of Order members who were distracted or impaired, providing cover for those who were most in need. The other Hippogriffs (and Harry was proud to discover that Buckbeak was among them) were in full attack. They put their sharp talons and beaks to fierce good use.

To his right, Harry could just see the figure of Tonks fighting off three Death Eaters at once, all on her own. Someone—one of the Snapes—lay unmoving at her side. Tonks was yelling out for aid, her odds looking more and more grim by the second as her attackers moved in ever closer.

Across the lawn to his left, Harry could see that Mrs. Weasly had spotted Tonks and was doing all she could to get to her, screaming out that she was coming, trying to distract the Death Eaters with wayward spells—but she was pinned down herself. Fighting off half a dozen enemies, while back-to-back with another pair of Snapes, who were... Who were losing ground.

What could Harry do? He had to do something! But everyone was here in the first place fighting to give him the chance to kill Voldemort, to corner him with Dumbledore at his side and to finally take him down. He would be failing more than just his friends if he sacrificed himself before then.

But these were the people he was fighting to protect! He didn't want to save a world that had already lost everyone he loved.

Harry had just made up his mind to make a quick run towards Tonks, if only to distract her attackers for a minute or two, and then run back to Mrs. Weasley, when…

He saw it.

A swift flash of green light—then another flash as the curse hit—and then a Snape figure fell. The real Snape? Harry couldn't tell, he didn't know, he felt all the air leave his lungs.


"NOOOO!" A gut wrenching cry cut through the noise of battle, a deep, wounded, desperate cry like none Harry had ever heard.

There was another bright flash, and then a momentous explosion knocked Harry backwards into the hedge animal. His ears ringing and his chest aching from the force of impact, he looked up blearily to assess the resulting chaos. As the dust began to settle, Harry could see five black robed figures sprawled on their backs on the ground. The only remaining Death Eater still conscious was already scrambling to his feet in a hasty escape.

The ground had been scorched and cratered where the explosion hit—somehow in a ring formation. Miraculously, there was a space in the middle left untouched. There, Mrs. Weasley and one of the Snapes stood, shaking a bit, but apparently unharmed.

And there—Harry's chest felt tight—there was still a crumpled figure lying still at their feet.

Something caught Harry's eye. He could see someone walking towards the fallen Order member through the fog of smoke, wand arm held out. This was the wizard who had cast the spectacular spell. Only… it was a very small wizard. A small figure, a familiar silhouette. It looked like… Only it couldn't be… Hermione?

It was Hermione. Pinched, white face—wide, brown eyes—her arm held out shakily before her—she walked a few more steps until it seemed she had reached a point where she could force herself no closer to the unmoving body. Frightened, perhaps, to look upon him. She dropped her wand, covering her face with her hands, and cried in great, shuddering sobs. "Not him," she moaned. She fell to her knees. "Not him…"

Harry struggled to his feet—his head still pounding, his chest still aching—and was just about to run to her, to help her, to see who had fallen—His heart twisting painfully—Who had fallen? Who was dead? Whose death would affect her so deeply?—And then, he heard a shrill scream from beyond the hedge to his right.


Harry whipped around, about to throw himself to her rescue—he didn't care anymore about anything but saving someone, anyone, just don't let anyone else die! Just as began to turn, he felt a great big whoosh pass close by over his head.

Screeching in outrage, Buckbeak the Hippogriff swooped down upon the scene, scattering Tonks's attackers every which way, his beak flashing, his outstretched wings delivering violent, crushing blows to masked heads.

Then… That was it… Harry knew it, he could sense it… This was his moment.

Everyone was distracted, the Death Eaters were in a momentary retreat, no one would be watching, he had the cover and Dumbledore was in position, Voldemort was angry and confused, no one knew who Harry was, he just needed to move! Now! MOVE NOW!

At once, Harry bolted out into the path that had cleared before him, using Snape's long limbs to their greatest potential as he ran, and ran, keeping Dumbledore and his purple lighting in sight up ahead, sprinting faster and faster, and—


Startled, Harry turned his head. Before he even had time to register what was happening, he was slammed hard to the ground by the bodies of two Death Eaters whom Buckbeak had flung unwittingly in Harry's direction.

The wind was instantly knocked out of him as a pair of feet caught him heavily in the chest, the back of his head smacked the ground, and he gasped for breath. With his peripheral vision, he could see the two Death Eaters already scrambling to their feet again, searching for their wands. But Harry could barely begin to move his arms. Did he still have his wand? Had he dropped it?

Out of nowhere, it seemed, the Death Eaters were then beset by two curses in quick succession. They managed to block the attacks, but, well aware that they were outmatched, they scattered in a hasty retreat.

The spells had come from a distant Snape figure. He yelled heartily, "COWARDS!" and charged directly towards Harry, apparently in pursuit of the runaways.

Harry, still winded, could do nothing but watch as the man took a magnificent running leap and vaulted over Harry's prostrate form. Just as he did so, the Snape thrust his wand arm high in the air, waved it over his head, shouted, " CONSTANT VIGILANCE!" in Harry's general direction, and then ran on through the smoke and was promptly lost from sight.

The moment Harry could pull in his first, full, shuddering breath, he scrambled back to his feet. He glanced around to make sure his way was clear, and then took off once more towards the retreating forms of Dumbledore and Voldemort.

They were not far off. The lightning seemed more violent than ever now, with great, big bolts of it shooting off in almost every direction. Dumbledore's steps were much slower and heavier, his face flushed almost maroon with the strain.

Harry's thoughts bounced quickly around the insides of his head as he approached the steps of the manor in a full out sprint. What could he do? He wanted to help, but what if he attacked at the wrong moment, or with the wrong spell, and he somehow helped Voldemort escape Dumbledore's trap?

Then again… what if he did not attack Voldemort directly?

Harry had but the merest fraction of a second to think of a spell before he was sliding to a stop at Dumbledore's shoulder and had no choice but to act.

"Defodio!" Harry said in a strong voice, as loud as he dared, hoping Voldemort was too distracted to hear, that the sounds of battle had overwhelmed him, hoping that the spell worked, hoping that… YES! There was a shuddering crack as the ground gave way beneath Voldemort's feet and he stumbled, arms flailing for balance.

Unblinking, Dumbledore took instant advantage of this precious moment to finally dispel the heat curse suffocating his body—but, Voldemort was quick too, and as Dumbledore's attentions were briefly focused elsewhere, even for a split second, Voldemort found his balance and threw off the cocoon of lightning with a magnificent burst of crackling, purple magic.

Not to be deterred, Dumbledore, in a graceful, almost impossible movement, passed the tip of his wand across his throat, and then whipped it above his head to produce a rocketing tower of flames in the air. Dumbledore opened his mouth and shouted, his magically enhanced voice booming over the chaos, "TO ME!" he bellowed. "TO ME!" And then he brought the tower of flames down upon Voldemort's head.

But Voldemort was ready. Before the spell could hit, he flicked his wand and turned the flames into a stream of hot steam, which he then wind-milled about and shot directly back at Dumbledore.

Dumbledore zapped the steam into long, razor sharp spears of ice, flinging them back at Voldemort in quick, staggered succession. Voldemort obliterated them one by one, showering himself and the surrounding area (he was at the foot of the stairs, now) with shattered ice. As he did so, there came three sharp cracks—Order members, Apparating in response to Dumbledore's call—and quite suddenly, all out of nowhere, there were five identical copies of Severus Snape advancing upon Voldemort at once.

Harry looked around, sparing a quick second to wonder why two of the Snapes were missing. Had they been held up somehow? Had they not heard? Had they missed the signal?

In almost the exact same moment, Harry remembered that at least one of them was dead.

He tried to push the thought to the back of his mind. There was no time for that. He had to focus on the task at hand.

Voldemort backed up a few steps as the circle of Snapes drew tighter. He began ascending the stairs behind him, his face drawn into a look of purest, unfiltered fury. His skin white and stretched tight across his cheekbones. This was not the cool, detached master of evil Harry had so come to know; Voldemort had lost control, the high ground, all ground, and something in his mind had come unhinged at the sight now bearing down upon him.

"TREACHERY—USELESS AGAINST ME—PITIFUL ATTEMPT—DUMBLEDORE—YOU WILL NEVER—" he spat, incapable of coherency, enraptured in rage. Then, quicker than a blink (Harry could hardly follow it), Voldemort aimed his wand at the Snape to Dumbledore's left, hissed "Avada Ke—" at the same time that five Snapes (Harry too—though mostly out of instinct, rather than calculated action) sent various curses and hexes pelting at Voldemort to intercept.

Mid-way through casting the killing curse, however, Voldemort turned an expert switch and instead summoned the man he had first been attempting to murder, so that the unsuspecting Snape flew bodily into the path of his own comrades' hexes.

All of the combined spells hit Snape in the chest with a thunderous bang, crackled like a firecracker, and sent him sailing far off to the side where he crashed like a rag doll into one of the surrounding fountains.

Before Harry could even register the resulting splash, Voldemort had already turned around and fled up the grand, marble staircase, thrown open the front doors to the manor, and disappeared inside.

"AFTER HIM, HARRY!" Dumbledore barked, his voice still amplified, strained and exhausted, anxious, excited. He took off in a sprint after Voldemort.

Harry, without even a backward glance, launched himself behind Dumbledore, up the stairs as quick as his legs could take him, and then through the open doorway—wand raised, heart pumping—right on the heels of the two most powerful wizards in history, plunging himself after them into the deep, dark mysteries of Godric's Manor.

The sun was setting fast, already approaching the dimmer half-hour of twilight, as Hermione, Ron and the twins halted outside the high hedges.

They could hear the battle raging just on the other side, people crying out in pain or fear, taunting their attackers, all of them hurling spells so quick it was impossible to distinguish any one of them from another.

The boys panted to catch their breath, bending over and clutching their sides. Within her chest, Hermione's little rabbit heart pattered so quickly it made her feel ill.

"Alright," Fred gasped when he could draw enough breath, "what now?"

George looked as though he were about to answer—but before he could say a single word, the hedge only a few feet away was suddenly blown apart by an enormous jet of what looked like boiling black water. Thick, like tar. Perhaps it was tar. The moment it stopped flowing, a loose Hippogriff darted out, feet and talons struggling against the goopy black substance. It dragged at its side an unconscious Death Eater whose arm had been caught up in its reins.

The Hippogriff screeched its displeasure, prancing and bucking about, trying to dislodge the man. Finally, when its footing had found dry grass again, with a particularly strong twist of its powerful torso, the Hippogriff sent the Death Eater flying into a nearby bush.

Hermione's mind whirled. It was so long since she had been in battle, her nerves were overpowering, and the only thing she could think to do was to make a grab for any measure of additional force. She leapt up and down, unable to speak but thinking with all her might, Catch him! Catch him!

Ron pointed after the wayward beast. "Catch him!" he shouted. "Catch him!"

Good boy, Ronald!

Fred and George took off at once. Ron tossed the invisibility cloak in Hermione's direction and then followed after his brothers.

The Hippogriff evaded them for a minute, even rising up once as though to strike. The boys had to put their wands behind their backs, demurring to the creature, before it settled down enough to be reasoned with.

Ron, Fred and George all took their turns bowing to it. The first go around, it would only bow back to Fred. After another try, it bowed graciously to George, while Ron went three times without any luck.

"Just leave it, just forget it, Ron," George said hastily as he mounted the Hippogriff to sit behind his brother. "We'll be faster with two anyway, and you've got the cloak. So put that on, stay hidden, keep close to Hermione, help out where you can, and try not to die, eh?"

Hermione eyed nervously the thin sliver of opening she could see in the hedge. Every color of spell flashed by, illuminating the distant movement of dueling wizards. Someone yelled distantly, "Crucio!" and she could hear the resulting scream.

"You keep your head straight, too," Ron replied, backing up as the Hippogriff stretched out its wings, preparing to launch. Its talons were burned and blackened. It would not stay on the ground long. "And don't let mum see you!" Ron added loudly. "It'll kill her before the Death Eaters even have a chance!"

"Aye aye, Captain!" said Fred, giving a salute.

"Anchor's away!" said George, tapping the Hippogriff's sides with his heels and grabbing hold of Fred's shoulders as the Hippogriff leapt into the sky.

Fred shouted, "Be safe, you two!" as their shadow passed by overhead, and then they were beyond the hedge and out of sight.

Ron dropped to the grass at Hermione's side, panting and sweaty, picking up the invisibility cloak. "This is mad," he whispered emphatically, shaking his head. "This is bloody mad."

He looked down at Hermione. His eyes were so blue and wide with fear. His complexion pale beneath his freckles. Hermione gazed back.

This was it. No turning back now.

She nodded.

Ron jumped to his feet again and threw the cloak over himself, disappearing in a blink. "Right then," he said in a shaky voice. "Crack on, shall we?"

Hermione picked up her wand in her teeth and scampered cautiously to the newly opened gap in the hedges, careful not to tread on steaming tar. Unable to see Ron, she could still sense him very nearby—smell his anxiety, hear his footsteps and labored breathing.

Hermione stopped as the full sight of battle met her eyes.

"Blimey," Ron whispered from somewhere above her.

The sheer chaos of it was overwhelming. They didn't have a chance. They were so small, so young.

Ron was shaking with such violence, his vocal chords tight with fear, that his next words came out in barely a whisper:

"Hermione... I think we've made a mistake…"

Fred figured they were doing alright, considering. The smoke from several hedge animals and patches of lawn that had obviously been ablaze for a while, mostly obscured them from anyone on the ground.

Of course, just the same, they were more or less unable to see the majority of what was going on below.

A very tense ten minutes passed in which the twins circled and dove and tossed about, looking for someone in need of help, or for an unsuspecting enemy to assail. George kept shouting directions in his ear, which was distracting. It was difficult to steer a Hippogriff to begin with, let alone one with heavy armor and who was arguably frightened within an inch of its life.

They flew on through the dimming twilight, circling higher, and higher, until, "There! Up ahead, to the left!" George shouted, and Fred wrenched their mount's reins in the direction in which his twin pointed.

Through swirling gaps in the smoke, Fred could see an old man—an Order member whose name he did not know—swooping erratically back and forth on his broom. A green curse zoomed inches from his right elbow, making the man give a yell and dart upwards.

Fred looked down. His heart leapt into his throat. Four Death Eaters flew in a pack just beneath them—each of them on their own broom. Fred tried not to think about what had happened to the brooms' original owners.

There was a man who was still alive, who was in trouble, and who needed their help.

Fred shot a glance over his shoulder at George.

"Let's go," they said in unison—and then, they were off.

Down, down, they went, the wind rushing in their ears. Fred prepared as many spells in the back of his mind as he could, preparing himself for any situation, any attack, any counterattack.

They lost sight of their target as they entered a particularly thick column of black smoke, but still they flew own.

A few seconds later, when they emerged once more into clear sky, the man was no longer there.

Fred reined in the Hippogriff so that with steady wing beats, they could pause in midair.

A minute passed with nothing but the distant echoes of battle. Somewhere far away, Fred was almost sure he heard the wild cackle of that dark haired woman he'd seen so often at Voldemort's side. Her voice always gave him the shakes. She had sounded... victorious. Bellatrix Lestrange… He only hoped they did not run into her.

Suddenly, George's arms tightened. "In the tree," he whispered into Fred's ear.

Fred cast his gaze around and saw the old man's robes tangled up in the branches of a large tree just a few dozen yards below.

His broom was nowhere to be seen. Had he fallen? Had he jumped? And where were all the—

"DUCK!" George yelled, pushing Fred's head down so that he slumped against the Hippogriff's neck and choked on a subsequent mouthful of feathers.

The four Death Eaters they were previously following had somehow looped around and spotted them, fanning out in a circle formation high above. One of their number had shot a jinx that, thankfully, George saw in time, so it only whooshed harmlessly over their backs.

The Hippogriff was not so lucky.

A second Death Eater yelled, "Incendio!" and the yellow-orange burst of spelled light caught their Hippogriff right between the eyes. It wore a plate of armor across its forehead, but the spell burst into white-hot sparks that startled him, partially blinding him, setting the animal off so that it screeched with pain and fright.

Fred lost what little control he had as the animal flailed about in a tantrum. It bucked and rolled in the air, careening off in Fred had no earthly idea which direction. It was all he could do just to keep from flying off into empty space.

With a particularly violent roll, Fred felt George's hold break on his waist, and Fred wrenched his arm around, catching his brother by the ankle of his jeans. "HOLD ON!" he yelled, his shoulder bursting into shooting waves of pain that traveled all over what felt like every muscle of his back.

"Don't let go don't let go don't let go—" George chanted back deliriously, flinging out his hands as though to break his fall.

Fred's fingers were rivulets of pain as he tightened his grasp so hard he was sure his bones might break. "DOWN! DOWN!" Fred screamed at the Hippogriff, pushing at it with his knees as best he could. "DOWN!"

Thankfully, they were not far off the ground by that time, and when the muscles in Fred's arm could no longer obey him, he let his knees go and slid off the animal's back, falling behind his brother. He managed to hurl a cushioning charm at the ground, just in time, and the two of them flopped into it, bouncing once, then rolled onto solid earth, unharmed.

They lay there for a second, gasping and shaking.

"Bit of a skittish ride, that one," Fred panted, chuckling.

George laughed in return, overwhelmed with nervous relief.

But they both stopped as soon as they heard someone scream—a wailing scream in the guttural, painful, unrelenting way that can only be brought about by the likes of the Cruciatus curse.

As one, the twins leapt to their feet again.

Fred's muscles ached, but he ignored the pain. "Still got your wand?" he asked.

George held it up in a shaky hand. "Yup."

"Alright, then."

Together, they struck off in the direction of the screams.

On their way, they were forced to clamber down into an enormous pit that had been gouged out of the lawn by some horrible curse. As they ascended the opposite side, they heard more wizards—Order members—rushing to the screaming victim's aid.

Emboldened by the idea of reinforcements, they scrambled over the side of the pit, more ready than ever to leap into the fray.





Just as Fred and George dashed the final distance, and saw a black-cloaked figure fall to the ground, ensnared by a net of ropes, they heard a familiar voice:

"Well done, Kingsley!"

They both skidded to a halt in alarm. Fred's breath caught, his legs tightened to flee—but it was too late.

Kingsley Shacklebolt moved to the left to begin dueling another attacker, and there behind him, stood their mother.

She saw them.

Her eyes went wide, the color drained from her face, and her wand arm paused mid swish. But all of that was only for a fraction of a second. Because then she was suddenly screaming abuse at them at the top of her lungs—"IDIOT BOYS! I KNEW IT! I KNEW YOU COULDN'T BE TRUSTED TO DO WHAT YOU WERE TOLD YOU BLITHERING FOOLHARDY—" She berating them while simultaneously flinging hexes at the surrounding Death Eaters with such venom and force that many of them quickly ran from her in fear.

Fred and George began to back up with quick, nervous steps. "Good one, Mum!" Fred said as she caught a Death Eater full in the face with a fainting spell.

"Smashing job!" followed George.

The Death Eaters were giving her a wide berth now. Behind her, Shacklebolt and one of the Snapes had all but stopped to watch, as their opponents grew silent with fright. One of the Snapes was on the ground (Fred realized belatedly that he must have been the one put under the Cruciatus), but the stricken man was already struggling back to his knees.

"Ripping good dueling, there, Mum—"

"See you've got everything under control here—"


"We'll catch up with you in a few—"


"Bye, Mum!"

"Love you!"

Fred and George turned at once and beat a hasty retreat as they saw their mother raise her wand as though to bring them to her by force.

But the giant chasm created an obstacle at their backs, and their path was blocked on one side by an enormous dragon statue. All they could do was to seek the help, once again, of their fluttering, shaking, terrified Hippogriff friend, who stood nearby, ruffling its feathers and shifting in nervous alarm.

George was quicker than Fred and he leapt up on the animal's back first. Fred grabbed his brother's outstretched arm and swung up behind him. Before their mother could catch them and send them forcibly home, George flicked the reins and their Hippogriff took off in a full-out gallop.

"IDIOT BOYS!" Fred heard his mother shout at their backs. And then they were yards away, sweeping upwards into the air, once more, up into the darkening sky.

"Where are we going?" Fred shouted over the wind. It was very hard to see specific shapes any more. The sun was, at best, less than fifteen minutes away from disappearing altogether.

George seemed to know, though. Which gave Fred comfort. George always seemed to know.

"That bloke in the tree," George shouted back. "I think he was still alive."

"How are we going to find him?"

"He can't be far off."

"No, you're right—look!"

Fred indicated a looming shadow off to their right. A tall tree—he was sure it was the right one.

It was.

"Good eye!" George exclaimed, and with a gentle ease that Fred was both surprised by and sorely envied, George guided the Hippogriff into a smooth glide down to meet the treetops. The old man still lay tangled up in branches, his robes twisted hopelessly about.

"Oi!" George called. "Need a hand?"

As they approached, the old man managed to lift his head and see them. There was something off about him, though, thought Fred—difficult to see through the growing darkness—it looked as though the man's arms were free, but he wasn't struggling. And the closer they got, Fred could see that the man gazed at them not with thanks, but with a disquieting, blank, dead sort of look in his eyes.

They were nearly upon their target.

George let go of the reins with one hand to reach out towards the man.

What was the man doing? He was raising his arm to grasp George's… except… wait, no, that was his wand arm… and he had his wand still… he was raising his wand to…


Just as Fred realized that the man was under the Imperius curse, the old man snarled some dark, horrible spell—a blue light flashed from his wand—and George cried out.

There was a great splatter of blood.

George's body went limp.

The Hippogriff took off again in terrified alarm. But this time, it went up, up, up, shrieking and squawking, and beating its wings as fast as it could, rocketing into the clouds.

Fred struggled to keep hold of his brother's body as the wind roared in his ears. His body was so heavy, and there was blood everywhere, making his skin warm and slick.

"GEORGE! Fred screamed into the wind. His wand was lost—he'd dropped it—his mind was lost—his every thought and ounce of will bent upon keeping the two of them from sliding off the back of the Hippogriff and falling so much farther than any cushioning charm would allow them to survive. He didn't know what to do. George's arms were slipping, his dead weight leaning against Fred as the Hippogriff soared higher and higher, pushing him ever backwards. The light was too dim to see the extent of what had happened. "GEORGE!" Fred screamed again, shaking him, tears stinging his eyes. His feet were slipping. George's head flopped back onto Fred's shoulder. He could feel a warm wetness creeping down his chest. In a last ditch effort, Fred made a wild, desperate grab for the reins around the bulk of his twin's chest.

For a moment, Fred felt his fingers closed over the thin strip of leather. Then the Hippogriff's wings gave another powerful beat, they were jolted upwards, the reins slipped from his grasp, George's body fell backwards with another heavy push, and the weight became too much.

His knees gave out.

His legs seized up.

The air grew silent.

Fred closed his eyes.

Then, they were falling.

Just Let it Happen

A Harry Potter Story
by La. Bel. LM

Part 34 of 35

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