A/N: Here is the first chapter of a story that I'm pretty proud of. Yesterday, I completed a draft of 25 chapters for this story. I started this story over a year ago (that's why there was a long hiatus for AVHS). There will still be some fluff and smut in this story, but I wanted to see if I could draw up something a little more action filled. Enjoy the first chapter of Prince of Darkness.
"All right, then." said Moody. "Everyone ready, please. I want us all to leave at exactly the same time or the whole point of the diversion is lost."
Everybody motioned their heads. "Hold tight now, Ron," said Tonks, and Harry saw Ron throw a forcing, guilty look at Lupin before placing his hands on each side of her waist. Hagrid kicked the motorbike into life: It roared like a dragon, and the sidecar began to vibrate.
"Good luck, everyone," shouted Moody. "See you all in about an hour at the Burrow. On the count of three. One ... two. THREE."
Hermione gripped onto Kingsley as tightly as she could. The Thestral that the pair of them was riding shot hard off the group and simultaneously flapped its massive bat-like wings.
"Hang on tight, Hermione," Kingsley's deep, assuring voice called over his shoulder. "We're going to both make it through this."
Hermione nodded once and knew that the dark-skinned wizard couldn't see her motion, but she hoped that he felt the nod against his back as she held on. All around them, there appeared to be chaos. Seven Harrys and seven protectors were flying all around them. There were four broomsticks whizzing about, there were two Thestrals making bird-like noises as they climbed into the air, and lastly, Sirius's motorbike thundered into the night. If Hermione imagined the take-off as chaos, there was no word that explained what they flew into after they broke through the cloud cover.
The Death Eaters had been waiting for them. Hermione and Kingsley were one of the last pairs to join the fight and Hermione's eyes shot out of her head at the first sight. This was a dogfight that she couldn't've imagined in her wildest dreams. She didn't know what she was expecting when the Order of the Phoenix had told her that there may be opposition, but this was unfathomable. There were fourteen members that were fighting under the colors of the Order and there had to be at least thirty Death Eaters and various dark wizards.
Remus Lupin had once explained to Hermione in private, "Shock is a powerful emotion. It is capable of defining a witch or wizard. It is often through shock that someone's true worth comes out." Hermione was ashamed that the shock of everything paralyzed her.
"Blast," Kingsley roared as he led the Thestral toward the center of the fight. The Thestrals were fast fliers, but couldn't match the fastest racing brooms for speed. The Thestrals also couldn't handle as easily as a broomstick, but being on one of the black, winged horses wasn't completely for naught. Unlike a broom, the Thestrals could think autonomously. They had a sense of self-preservation and reflexes that bordered on instantaneous. Also, a well-trained Thestral, which Hagrid's herd had been, could be as fearless and useful in battle as Pegasus to Hercules.
"Come on, we've got to help the others," Kinglsey groaned into the ear of his steed. The Thestral rose higher into the sky toward the zooming of brooms.
Hermione was never a big fan of flying, but she had been a vital piece to the puzzle for retrieving Harry. Seven potters were required, because Dumbledore had always had the idea that seven was a superbly magical number. Hermione had been the seventh selection. Ron had voted to keep Hermione back - against her firm stance on wanting to go.
"It won't be safe," Ron whispered to her.
"When has anything we've ever done been safe?" Hermione asked rhetorically.
"This is life and death," Ron tried again.
"What about the Stone, and the Chamber, and the werewolves and murders from Azkaban…" Hermione's voice was now rising.
"Hey!" Lupin said in mild offense.
"Of course, you and Sirius - may he rest in peace," Hermione said on the side, "turned out okay-" Hermione circled back to the point, "What I'm saying is, that I'll be ok."
Ron wasn't the only one that was hesitant of Hermione going along. Mr. And Mrs. Weasley had tried to protest.
"I'm seventeen - I'll be eighteen in September. I can make my own decisions," Hermione said after she was annoyed that everyone was treating her like a delicate flower. She had been through worse than an escort mission for Harry. She was wrong.
Here she was in the fray of the fight that would be referred to as the Battle of Seven Potters, and she was holding onto Kingsley for dear life. Even with the second most powerful Auror that she knew, Hermione couldn't will her wand to do anything.
"Crucio," a voice said behind Hermione's back. They were only past the cloud cover for about twenty seconds until Hermione and Kingsley were beginning to be followed.
The curses came faster than either Kingsley or Hermione could react, but the Thestral had been hyper aware of the attack. Hermione would've been flung off of the beast if she wasn't holding on to the Auror with both hands. Their steed had flattened its wings to the side. Hermione, Kingsley and the Thestral fell at the speed of gravity for a second. The curses of red light flew above narrowly missing them. The pursuing Death Eater also breezed passed overhead on his broomstick. The Thestral opened its massive wings and pounded the air as it followed. It had taken the approach of the offensive now.
"Good boy," Kingsley said gripping onto the hide of the beast's neck. With every dip and dart that the broom in front of them took, the Thestral was more than ready to meet each maneuver. Hermione felt Kingsley lift his right hand from his grip on the Thestral. Her grip was still around his waist, but now her head was resting against his rib cage. She could just see a hint of the direction they were flying through a replica of Harry's glasses.
Hermione watched in awe as Kingsley used his talents of a Dark Wizard catcher. Silently, he waved his wand in spurts of threes or fours. Different colors of light shot out into the night. At first there were blue lights that streaked through the night and attempted to hone in on the tail of the broom. The Death Eater that was being chased had to twist around and individually blast each of the spells to keep them from trailing him. After those were fended off, Kingsley sent out a light that was so bright it hovered on white, but it definitely had a yellowish tint to it. The spell shot out of Kingsley's wand and it expanded to roughly the size of Hermione's waist. The spell followed the Death Eater faster and faster. It zigged and zagged avoiding each of the Death Eater's attempts to disrupt the spell's mission. Finally, when the spell was an arm's length away, the Death Eater exploded the spell, but that was all part of the plan.
At first, Hermione couldn't bear to open her eyes as she flew, but now that she was in the middle of the dogfighting, she couldn't stop being a spectator. The spell that Kingsley cast, exploded into a dozen smaller versions of light. They encircled the Death Eater and ensnared him in what Hermione would explain as an electric net. The Death Eater threw his head back as the coils of the net wrapped him up and shocked him. He screamed. He lost control of his muscles. The broom fell from his hands. The spell left him suspended in the air for a moment while his broom shot off into the darkness. Hermione and Kingsley flew by the man as his hood fell off.
"Travers!" Kingsley shouted. The Thestral that the two were riding did not slow down or turn back around. It had a plan to keep moving forward. Kingsley twisted in his seat and tried to land one final curse that would finish the Death Eater off. As he flicked his wand forward, a shield charm populated between Kingsley's position and the Death Eater named Travers. Dark reinforcements had arrived.
One Death Eater dove down and was able to catch Travers' limp body before he fell past the cloud cover, but now Kingsley and Hermione were under pressure from two more hooded figures.
Kingsley growled. He was more than an accomplished duelist. He was a decorated member of the Auror office, but flying, distracting, dueling, and protecting Hermione would prove a difficult task even for him.
The two assailants were converging on both sides on their racing brooms.
"Come on. Faster," Kingsley urged the winged horse on. The Thestral lowered its head and beat the air even harder. They moved out ahead of the Death Eaters, but it only lasted a moment. "If it's a fight you want," Kingsley whirled his wand around his head. A ring of fire encircled the Thestral. With one more whip of his wand, the ring exploded around them, "Come and get it."
The Death Eaters had to either elevate or drop below the flames that Kingsley had just burst from around them, but both dodged the attack. Kingsley targeted the Death Eater below them. He sent spark after spark toward the attacker. The Thestral was flying at the exact same pace as the Death Eater on their right that Kingsley was dueling with. Hermione could clearly see everything since that was the side of Kingsley's back that she was plastered to. She was still in shock.
Do something, she urged herself, but she couldn't move. Her only movement brought her to grip onto Kingsley harder. The most unexpected motion happened and Hermione couldn't believe she came out of the move still on the Thestral. The beast had completed a barrel roll.
As the second Death Eater, that Hermione had almost forgotten about, lowered his level toward Kingsley and Hermione, he fired a silent spell. Neither Hermione nor Kingsley saw it coming, but the Thestral was ready to match it. The beast tucked its wings back against its skin and rolled through the air. The three of them, Kingsley, Hermione and their Thestral dropped in altitude, avoided the curse and then ended right side up.
"Oh shit," Kingsley had also been taken by surprise apparently.
Hermione looked on where the curse was firing through the night harmlessly. It was a flash of green light. A light that she had only seen twice in her lifetime. Once in the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, and once in the room with the black veil in the Ministry. The Avada Kedavra. The Killing Curse.
Shock was replaced with rage and a need to survive. Hermione lifted her torso off of Kingsley's back and she was caught by a pocket of wind against her chest, but she was not thrown from the Thestral like she had been terrified of a second earlier. But it was a silly thing to have been scared of. There were much more malevolent things in the sky than wind resistance. Hermione reached under Kingsley's left arm and grabbed onto the front of his robes rather than using both her hands around his waist. She took out her wand and was finally ready to join the fight.
Kingsley felt Hermione's hands relinquish his waist. His immediate reaction had been to reach backward for her. He had thought she was either stunned by a spell, passed out from nerves, or worse. He couldn't grab her behind him, so he reached up with his left hand and grabbed onto hers. The force that he grabbed her with could've broken her hand, but that would've been dealt with later. Kingsley was lifted to awareness of Hermione's actions when she started throwing out hexes of her own.
The Death Eater that had attempted to murder her was her target. Kingsley watched wide-eyed for a moment as Hermione threw her limited arsenal after the Death Eater. Stunning spells, basic jinxes, and anything she had picked up from her library of "Standard Book of Spells" flew from her wand. While Hermione dueled to their right, Kingsley worked to fend off the wizard flying on their left. It was beneficial to both of them that the Thestral had the ability to fly under its own orders.
Different flashes of light crossed across Hermione's face. From an outside perspective it would've been beautiful art - maybe the act of fighting for one's life was art - but Hermione kept her face twisted with a grit that was anything other than the unusual beauty that she exuded on occasion. That night she looked like Harry Potter. She looked like Harry, but felt like a warrior.
Kingsley was just beginning to finish dispatching with the wizard on the left, as Hermione felt she had an upper hand. She pulled her wand back and snapped it forward with a sharp crack. A whip completely made of magic shot out of her wand tip. It was spiked like barbed wire. She had attempted to aim for the broom handle and snap it in two, but she was surprised and pleased with herself when her whip had circled its way around the Death Eater's wand arm.
"Ahh," the man's voice was more terrible than anything that Hermione had heard before.
Excited, Hermione tried to de-broom the rider to her left. She tried to throw the rider from his broom by pulling him to the side. She didn't remove him from his perch, but the magical barbs made of her own magical energy dug past his robes and deeper into his skin.
"Higher," Hermione shouted from behind Kingsley. The Thestral made his chirping noise and lifted into the air.
Hermione may not have been strong enough to throw a rider from his broom, but certainly the Thestral would be. Hermione kept her grip tight as the winged creature tore higher into the night sky.
The sudden jerking of the beast nearly ripped the man's arm from the rest of his body, but it remained intact for the moment. Hermione's barbs drove deeper into the man's skin the tighter the whip got. He screamed. To the left, Kingsley had disabled his opponent's broom in the exact moment that it happened.
In a last ditch effort, to keep himself from being dragged off his broom by the power of the Thestral, Hermione's Death Eater tried to free his arm with all his strength. His arm was fully extended from his broom in the direction of Hermione. Hermione hadn't been expecting it when the Death Eater brought his hand back to his side as hard as he could. The barbs of Hermione's magical whip almost cut into the Death Eater's bone, but he successfully freed himself.
Hermione had not been expecting the dark wizard she was fighting to tighten the hold of the whip on himself. She was holding onto her wand so tightly that she almost was thrown from her seat on the Thestral. She rocked to the side and if it wasn't for the creature that she was riding's reactions, she would've been destined to fall to the ground.
"Woah," Kingsley said as he felt Hermione rock to the side. The Thestral did everything in his power to slide to the left so that Hermione could remain mounted.
Hermione had to make a split second decision. She released her grip on her wand. Once she lost contact with the wood, her magical whip dissolved into nothingness. Hermione was left wandless, the Thestral was busy trying to right itself, and Kingsley had become unbalanced. All three of them were exposed to the Death Eater.
He raised his wand hand, shreds of his robes were left and blood was trailing down his forearms and fingers. He brought his attack forward, but nothing happened. Coming from behind the Death Eater was Mad-Eye Moody and another replica Harry.
A purple thread of light the size of lead in a pencil shot through the sky out of Moody's wand. It moved at the speed of light. Hermione expected the spell to hit the Death Eater and see him shrink to the size of a thimble, or see him sprout wings instead of hands making it difficult to hold his broom, but that was the kind of magic that Fred and George would have in their joke shop. Hermione watched as the purple light fired from behind the Death Eater, entered his body and shot out the other end on an endless path through the night.
Hermione had never seen someone killed before that. All the light from the Death Eater's cold eyes were gone. Moody's spell had ripped through the man's heart like a Muggle bullet. The Death Eater's grip relinquished from his broom and he fell. This time there was no one to catch the fallen warrior. In this world, it was kill or be killed. Hermione hadn't been the killer, but she knew she was somewhat responsible for the man hurtling to the ground.
"You're only as good as your wand, Granger," Moody growled. His broom was racing through the night to catch up to the winged horse. In his hand was Hermione's wand. He extended the wand back toward Hermione and Kingsley.
"Accio wand," Kingsley called to the night and Hermione's wand was summoned to the dark-skinned wizard. He reached back with it, and Hermione - slightly ashamed - took it back.
"Now, head to…" Those were the last words Moody ever spoke to her.
"Mad eye!" A shrill voice called into the night.
Hermione, Kingsley, Moody and Mundungus, who was the other Harry lookalike, peered over their shoulders. It was all of their greatest fears. Voldemort.
"We can both take him," Kingsley shouted into the night. He was completely ignoring the fact that Hermione and Mundungus were even present.
"No, stick to the plan, Shacklebolt," Moody's voice echoed against the dark. He gripped his broom handle tighter and started flying in a direction away from Hermione and Kingsley.
"Mad-Eye," Kingsley said as he tried to steer the Thestral after his fellow Auror. The Thestral refused to move. It continued on its path, "Go help him!"
The beast made a sound of disapproval and continued forward.
Kingsley called out to the other man again. Moody's voice shouted, "Stick to the plan!"
Kingsley and Hermione looked around them and they appeared to be safe for now. They had left the massive fray and there were dog fights all over, but no one was on their tail. All the protectors and Harrys were now heading toward their predetermined destinations. Hermione, still looking convincingly like Harry, and Kingsley were heading due east from Harry's Aunt and Uncle's house.
The Thestral was beating its wings against the dark sky for a few unhindered minutes. Each time the slightest sound in the night reached their ears, or the flapping of a wing sounded the slightest bit odd, their ears would perk up. During the entire time that they were flying, neither of them could go longer than a few seconds without looking over their shoulder with a raised wand.
"I think the worst is behind us," Kingsley's voice took Hermione by surprise. She was almost certain that she wasn't going to hear any words until they reached their destination, "I have to admit that I'm impressed by you, Granger." Something was a little different about Kingsley's voice. Around Grimmauld Place or the Burrow, his words were always so relaxing and sure, but there was a certain edginess about him now.
"Thanks," Hermione said. Her ears thought she heard something coming from behind them. She looked backwards but didn't see anything, "Where are we headed to?"
"My sister owns a small farm house not far from where we are now. She isn't a member of the Order, but she sympathizes with our cause. We're going to head to her home and then we will take a portkey to the Burrow."
Hermione was going to nod her head against the back of Kingsley's robes, but she was taken by surprise. An explosion of bright blue erupted in front of the Thestral. The glow was so bright that Hermione had to shut her eyes and shy away from the orb in the sky for fear of burning her rods and cones beyond repair. When she was able to open her eyes again, the remnants of blue static still sparked. Hermione didn't know what would happen if they flew through the wall of remaining streaks of electricity in the sky, but she was glad that they didn't find out. The Thestral raised up as if it were on its hind legs and brayed with its bird-like chirp.
Neither Hermione nor Kingsley needed to say anything, but they both did, "Voldemort."
Hermione still wasn't a fan of using that word, but hearing the Dark Lord's voice took her by surprise and she couldn't help herself.
Both Hermione and Kingsley looked to their left and flying toward them unassisted by a broom was a plume of smoke. It was possible that there was a home below them that had a fire lit in a chimney that was wafting in their direction, but then endless flashes of light were flying toward them wouldn't have tricked anyone. If Hermione had had the time to think and process what was going around her, she would've thought that they were done for.
"Hang on, Granger," Kingsley called to Hermione. She didn't think that Kingsley needed to waste his breath. She returned to wrapping her arms around his waist. Her fight or flight instincts kicked in again. While she had felt the surge of the Gryffindor Lion burning in her minutes earlier, being face to face with the most dreaded dark wizard of a generation turned Hermione's insides to jelly.
Hermione thought that Kingsley and the Thestral would do everything in their power to high-tail it toward Kingsley's sister's home, but she felt the Thestral change direction under her. They were flying directly at the stream of smoke and the impossible number of spells heading their way.
Hermione had only known Kingsley to use non-verbal spells. It was the greatest attribute of a great wizard, but she heard him conjure his spell through gritted teeth.
A translucent shield was aimed off the front of the Thestral's head. It was the shape of a half-moon that was directed right at the oncoming Dark wizard. Each of Voldemort's spells was reflecting off of Kingsley's shield charm.
The time that the Thestral and Voldemort were hurtling at each other only lasted a few seconds, but from what Hermione could peek at through slits of her eyelids, was that they were going to collide. In a great battle cry, Kingsley roared. Voldemort met Kingsley's enraged jeer with one of his own.
Hermione gritted her teeth and slammed her eyes shut. What would happen when a human body ran into a shield charm? Would Voldemort slam into it like a brick wall or would he pass through like a finger through a flame?
In the next instant, Hermione felt the world around her become shaky and fuzzy. In her dazed stupor, she had to remember what was happening. She reached up and had to readjust her glasses. But she didn't wear glasses. She remembered that she was still a Harry Potter lookalike. She squeezed her legs and remembered that she was riding on a Thestral. She reached out with her hands and grabbed onto the waxy skin of the beast. That had been a new sensation. Where was Kingsley?
Hermione hardly had enough time to reach out and get a solid grip on the creature, but the Thestral dove to the ground. After a few seconds of shock, Hermione was able to regain her wits about her. The Thestral's nose was pointed directly at the ground. Hermione had to squint through Harry's glasses but she could see the outline of a group of robes spiraling to the ground. Kingsley was unconscious and accelerating at the rate of gravity.
Hermione spun her head around. She didn't know what impulse caused her to unlock her gaze off of the falling Kingsley, but she swiveled around and saw that Voldemort must also have been feeling shaken up from the collision. But it was also clear that he was coming too from being momentarily stunned. Voldemort's head shot around in every direction looking for where Hermione, Kingsley and the Thestral had gone to. When he saw Hermione riding the Thestral alone, the smoke that replaced his feet, aimed upward and he shot towards Hermione like a rocket.
"Potter!" Hermione could see Voldemort's bone white face clearly as he hurtled toward her. If she were to die while protecting Harry, then that was the most valiant way she could imagine going.
Hermione closed her eyes as she saw Voldemort reach out with his wand hand. The blood curdling words of, "Avada Kedavra" we're halfway out Voldemort's mouth. The green light appeared out the tip of his wand, but missed Hermione by almost a full body length.
Everything was moving so slowly for Hermione that she could see everything. A grimace of pain came over Voldemort's lips. His dark red eyes peered at his forearm. Hermione could see the Dark Mark blazoned in black against his alabaster skin. He twisted his face in an even uglier mug before coming to a stop. He appeared to fade into himself and then there was only smoke left. He was gone with a pop of Apparition.
Hermione looked all around her to see where Voldemort was going to pop up again, but as she turned back around to face the front, she retracted her head and screamed. She was flying down through smoke. Or she thought it was smoke. It was just the clouds. It was icy cold. The water molecules were pooling up on her skin chilling her to the bone. She had to close her eyes as she and the Thestral barreled down out of the cloud cover.
Once they were through the mist, Hermione could see the ground below her. Kingsley wasn't far below them, but she doubted they would reach him before he collided with the ground.
"Wingardium Leviosa!" Hermione shouted. She pointed her wand in the direction of Kingsley.
As if caught up by a strong gust of wind, the Auror's body rocketed up into the sky. The Thestral was able to react to everything that was happening. As if on a dime, the Thestral reverted its momentum from falling to the ground, to reaching to the clouds to catch Kingsley on the creature's back.
With a thud, Kingsley's body landed between where Hermione was sitting and the base of the Thestral's neck. Hermione did her best to roll Kingsley over so that she could assess his injuries. Still flying through the night - they must've been close to Kingsley's sister's farm house, because the Thestral was gliding at a gradual pace toward the ground. Hermione was able to turn Kingsley to his side so that she could see his face. She leaned over closer to him.
His eyes shot open. They were dark red. "Granger!" The voice was shrill and high.
Hermione screamed. She screamed again and again. Then she was shaking violently.
"Hey, it's just a dream. You're ok," a young man's voice said. An arm reached out to attempt to calm Hermione down by stroking her head.
"Don't touch me," the young Gryffindor spat at the voice. She retracted her head and swatted the hand away.
Hermione Granger didn't always hate Cormac McLaggen. But to begin to explain that, would require going back to Hermione's first months at the Academy.
A/N: Hopefully this first chapter has you excited and curious to see the next installments. Let me know, if there is enough interest I'll post the next chapter as soon as I finish editing it, or I can wait until next week. Happy New Year to all.