Stars and Moon
Percy was blinded by tears, and pressure was building in his head as he looked down at the lifeless body of his first-ever baby brother. He was not aware of Harry, Ron, or Hermione, who all seemed to be talking at him. He whirled around, enraged, looking desperately for something to fight, something to destroy—something that would dissolve even a particle of the anger, pain, and hatred he felt for the loss of Fred. On the other side of the corridor, one of the Death Eaters was stirring. It was not Pius Thicknesse, who seemed to have disappeared under the caved-in wall that had killed Fred. It was the other, the one who had fought his brother. He had been unmasked, and was staggering upright, clearly disorientated.
Percy let out the animal noise that had been clawing at the back of his throat since the moment he had seen Fred's frozen smile.
The scream shook Percy down to his core, and it seemed to scare Rookwood, who stopped only for a second to look back in fear before staggering forward, trying to run. “I'LL KILL YOU!” he roared, pursuing him down the corridor; somehow, Fred being killed and killing Rookwood would complete each other. It would stop the pain Percy felt, it would bring Fred back, it would avenge him. There was a small corner of Percy's brain screaming at him to stop, but the rest of him was thinking of the promise he had given George, the looks on his parents' faces when he told them what had happened, and the years of guilt and regret that were pushing him forward.
“Crucio!” he screamed, and with a piglike squeal of pain, Rookwood dropped. They stood at the base of the stairs of the Astronomy Tower. “You're not getting away from me, Rookwood!” Percy howled, and the Death Eater clambered to his feet, scampering up the spiral staircase. Percy followed him, wiping dirt and tears from his face. He felt disconnected from his body, transported by his rage, by this overwhelming anger that boiled over and consumed him, encased him like the pressure of Apparition. Someone else was howling atop the tower. Percy burst through the door, onto the parapet, and encountered a full-scale battle. Cho Chang was dueling the werewolf, Fenrir Greyback. She kept hitting him with jinxes, and was too quick and agile to be caught by his massive, swiping hands, armed with long, yellowed nails that looked more like claws.
“Help me, Greyback!” Rookwood screamed, as Percy advanced on him.
“We duel, Rookwood!” Percy bellowed, seizing his collar. “We duel like men—”
“I have no wand!” Rookwood shouted. He held up both empty hands. “Don't kill me!”
Percy ground to a halt. Even in this insane rage, this blind anger, he could not hurt an unarmed man. It was cruel.
Percy looked around and saw that Cho had dropped her wand; it had rolled a few feet away from her, and she had been backed up against the stone parapet; the werewolf was advancing. He was too large to avoid. Percy raised his wand—
Pain exploded in every molecule of Percy's body and he collapsed onto the flagstones, writhing under Rookwood's curse; through barely-open eyes, he saw that Rookwood had lied. And then, through the night, the second worst noise Percy had ever heard rang out. Cho was screaming, screaming as though her life were being ripped out of her by Greyback’s vicious, clawed hands. Percy had to help her.
“RELASHIO!” he screamed, and Rookwood staggered backward and dropped his wand. Shaking, feeling like he was going to vomit, Percy fought his way to his feet and saw Greyback savaging Cho. He clung to her badly broken and bleeding leg as she snatched at the stone floor, trying to get away. Percy fired the most powerful Blasting Curse he had ever felt, and Greyback howled in pain. He took a swipe at Percy, but did not let Cho drop; in fact, he ran for the door with her thrown over his shoulder, trying to get down to the castle again.
“Greyback!” Rookwood barked, but the werewolf would have none of it. He took another swipe, and this time, his aim was true. He caught Rookwood full in the stomach, and the Death Eater flew backwards ten feet, hit the side of the parapet, and toppled over. With a furious scream, Percy ran forward, but Rookwood's body had disappeared in the darkness; it lay somewhere in the courtyard below, which was illuminated with jets of light and the sounds of more fighting. Then, in the corner of his mind, he heard another of Cho's bone-chilling screams. Greyback had dragged her inside, to finish his work. Percy could see a trail of her blood leading the way in. He raced back into the castle. If nothing else, Cho Chang would not die tonight because he could not help her.
“Come and get me, you ugly brute!” Cho screamed, firing a Blasting Curse at Fenrir Greyback over her shoulder; she was leading him to the Astronomy Tower. Every inch of her was saying that she should not do what she was about to, but the last moments that she had seen her parents were burning in the front of her mind, and she wanted nothing in the world more than to throw this monster off of the highest tower in the castle. Greyback gave a howl just as Cho flung open the door and raced up the spiral steps to the parapet of the tower. She whirled around, her back to the wall, just in time to greet Greyback. His bloody face loomed out of the moonlight, his teeth dripping with saliva and blood; he stood slightly hunched over, making him look even more like an animal than he already was…
“Cornered, eh, pretty?” he asked, licking his lips. “All alone up here, eh? Betcha didn't think of this…betcha didn't think you'd get me, eh?” He seemed to relish toying with her, making her feel trapped.
“I've been hunting you for months,” Cho spat, not lowering her wand.
“Ooh-hoo-hoo-hoo,” Greyback cackled. “Months, you been hunting me? Why's that, pretty? Huh? Why's that?”
“You killed my parents,” she hissed. “And now I'll kill you.”
Greyback pulled his lips back over his teeth in some bizarre semblance of a grin; his chin dripped with blood. “Ah…you're the one I missed, eh? The one I was s'posed to get? Yer parents got on the wrong side of the law, eh?”
Cho swallowed. “My father was a Muggle-born,” she retorted. “And you murdered him.”
“We kill them nasty buggers,” Greyback agreed. “They deserve it. I got in trouble for missing you, girly. Guess now I can finish the job.” And in a fluid movement, he lunged forward. Cho dove out of the way, and the werewolf collided headfirst with the stone parapet; at that precise moment, two more people came barreling out onto the tower, one of them screaming at the top of his voice. Cho could not pay them any attention.
She fired a jinx at Greyback, who took another lunge at her; Seeker that she was, she managed to dive out of the way just in time. Over and over, they played a game of cat and mouse, until she collided hard with Greyback's shoulder and dropped her wand. She staggered to her feet, pressed up against the parapet. Her wand was too far away, she could not reach it. She looked over to the other duelers. One of them was familiar. “Help me!” she screamed, and he turned; it was Percy Weasley. He ran forward to help, but he had turned his back on the Death Eater he was fighting, and was suddenly hit from behind with a spell. He collapsed, writhing and screaming.
At precisely the same moment, Greyback bounded forward, and Cho kicked out. Her right foot connected with his jaw, and she scrambled for her wand. Her fingers closed on it—and then, pain unimaginable tore through her entire body. She felt the bones in her leg snap as Greyback sank his teeth and claws deep into her knee. She screamed at the top of her voice, and in the midst of that screaming, she felt herself being lifted up, carried away by the monster who now had her blood running down his chin…
Cho reached up one hand and clawed viciously at Greyback's face as he ran, holding her in a vice-like grip. “I'll kill you!” she screamed, even over the roaring of her blood, rushing about in her head, and the overwhelming pain that radiated through her entire body from her mangled leg. With a roar, Greyback threw her. Cho clung tightly to her wand as she hit a wall. She very nearly blacked out from the pain. She could not stand, she could not see, but she could hear and smell the werewolf coming closer.
“Delicious little thing,” he murmured, bending over her. He plucked her wand from her grasp and flicked it over his shoulder. “I don't think you'll be needing this…”
“We'll drop them over the staircases, onto the brutes!” Professor Trelawney said, as Lavender helped her heave huge bags overstuffed with crystal balls. “They think they can invade our school, but they've got another thing coming! Miss Brown, help me!” Lavender gave a slight grin, pushing her sweaty hair out of her eyes, and lifted the bag onto the banister; a floor below, she could see duels filling the entrance hall. She lifted a crystal ball from the bag, drawing her wand just like Professor Trelawney.
“Now, this part is very easy, my girl—just—” She made a sort of flourish with her wand, and the crystal ball sailed through the air and collided hard with a Death Eater on the steps below. “You try!”
Lavender heard the girl's screams first, and then she saw Greyback. It was true. He was a towering monster, even in human form, and he had Cho Chang—Cho, the girl who had shoved Lavender out of the way of a Killing Curse in Gryffindor Tower, not an hour ago—trapped in a corner. Lavender let out a yell, abandoning Professor Trelawney. Quite forgetting her wand, and feeling only the pain of the families who had suffered at his hands, she launched herself at Greyback's waist, bringing him down sideways. He gave a yelp of pain, and she scrambled to her feet.
“Miss Brown!” Professor Trelawney was fumbling, trying to draw her wand.
“Help Cho!” Lavender screamed at her. “Hey, Greyback—you stupid, ugly freak! Over here!” With a wolf-like roar, Greyback bounded forward, and Lavender darted out of the way. He hit the wall of the corridor and crumpled; she leapt on top of him, squeezing his throat with one hand and holding her wand to his face with the other.
“You're finished,” she growled through gritted teeth—and then, one massive hand closed around her wrist; he was stronger than she, and she had lost her chance to curse him. He wrenched her up, and now he had her by the throat; his nails were digging into her flesh, and she struggled for air. He was walking forward, dangling her before him, until she felt the ground disappear beneath her. He was going to drop her directly down to the entrance hall, to her death.
And just as he began to loosen his grasp, Lavender kicked out. He yelled in pain and dropped her, not down into the entrance hall, but onto the floor. She was, by some miracle, still on the balcony. She landed on her hands and knees, coughing, sputtering, but she had barely a moment to breathe. Greyback rounded on her again, clutching his side in pain. He swore at her, and Lavender pulled herself up against the railing of the balcony, her wand out—and then he tackled her straight over the edge.
Lavender heard Professor Trelawney's scream as the entire world fell away. Or, rather, Lavender was falling away from the world, with the werewolf on top of her, clawing at her face and neck. Her whole body slammed as one against the stone floor below, and stars popped before her eyes. She was stunned, she could not move or breathe, and she felt Greyback's claws connect with her face. She felt her flesh tear and wanted to cry out, but she barely had the strength to lift one arm. He clamped his jaws on her wrist and ripped viciously, tearing away her skin, breaking the bones.
“No,” she murmured, but she had no strength…and then, all at once, she felt herself disconnect. She was far away, as though she was watching the attack happen to someone else…she didn't even feel that much pain…was this death? The weight disappeared from her chest, but Lavender's vision went dark, and she knew no more.
Draco held one hand over his bleeding mouth, trying to fight his way through the entrance hall, past the duels and flying curses. He wanted nothing more than to escape, to flee the castle and this waking nightmare he had encountered. A body sailed over his head, and Draco ducked; Fenrir Greyback collided with the wall, thrown from the body of his latest prey, a girl who lay spread-eagled on the floor of the hall, bleeding from many wounds. It was Lavender Brown. He looked around, but could see no one who had cast the spell; all of those on the other side were fighting Death Eaters furiously, and not concerned with Greyback or his victim.
Then, with a sickening crack, Greyback, who had been fighting to get back on his feet, was struck by a heavy blow from above. Draco looked up. Professor Trelawney was heaving crystal balls over the edge of the upper balcony, screaming at the top of her lungs. “I have more!” she screeched. “More for any who want them! Here—”
She sent another one straight into the air, and with a wave of her wand, it plummeted straight down towards Draco. He leapt out of the way with a terrified yell and ducked into a hiding space, an alcove which normally housed one of the animated statues, and squeezed his eyes shut. Why wasn't he gone, why didn't he just run for it? Crabbe had just been killed—he should never have stayed back into the castle, he should have gone with Slytherin House and found his mother. Had she been murdered, by now? Had his father?
Pain and self-hatred welled up inside Draco, and he wanted to cry out, to sob. He pressed his palms against his eyes, willing himself not to cry. He had never, ever wanted any of this. He had never wanted Hogwarts destroyed. He had never wanted to see his classmates and his friends die in front of him, but what could he do?
“Help,” moaned a feeble voice, and Draco looked around; Lavender, by some miracle, was alive, but only just. Keeping low to the ground, he crept over to her.
She didn't seem to know him, or else she was in too much pain to care that she detested him; she was bleeding very badly from her mangled arm and face. “Help me,” she whispered. “Please…please…” Automatically, Draco touched her uninjured hand. It was like ice.
“Good lad, Draco!” roared a voice from behind him, and he looked up to see Antonin Dolohov, whose cruel face was twisted in a grin. “Finish her off, she's good as dead!”
Draco did a double take. Lupin, his professor, disheveled, bleeding from a cut on his face and panting heavily, raised his wand and aimed it at Dolohov. “We're not finished!” he barked, and he cast a jet of white light, which Dolohov deflected, engaging in the duel at once. Draco had had enough; he wanted to see nothing more, and he abandoned Lavender Brown, running as fast as he could to somewhere far, far from the war, and the death, and the horror…
He had never wanted any of this.
Arthur fired off a curse at the masked Death Eater he fought, and the man crumpled, unconscious, on the staircase. He heard a yell of pain and saw Remus, across the hall, jinxing Dolohov spectacularly. Arthur ran forward to help.
He skidded to a halt and looked round. Among the rubble and the flying spells lay a badly injured girl. She was a Hogwarts student, no older than Ron or Ginny. She was barely conscious, but she was alive, and Arthur ran to her side, his heart burning in his throat. He knelt beside her, trying to stay aware of the duels around him. Her eyes fluttered open, and he saw that her injuries were not just from a duel. She had been savaged, just like Bill. It even looked like Greyback's handiwork. Her arm and part of her face were mangled and bleeding horribly.
Arthur put a gentle hand on her forehead. “I've got to move you out of the way, dear,” he shouted, ducking a jet of orange light that just missed his shoulder. “It's going to hurt, but you'll be in worse trouble if you stay here!”
The girl gave half a nod and trustingly lifted up her uninjured arm to put around his neck; being as gentle as he could, given the circumstances, Arthur scooped her up and ran to the alcoves at the back of the hall. He helped the girl lean against the wall. She was barely conscious.
“Thank you,” she murmured as a tear slid down her cheek. Arthur nodded.
“We'll get you out of here as soon as—”
Arthur looked over his shoulder. Remus had just been hit by a curse, and was huddled on the floor, twenty feet away as Dolohov advanced on him, descending the stairs.
“I'm fine,” the girl murmured. “Go help…” Arthur looked at her worriedly for a moment, his hand still resting on her head.
“SILENCIO!” Arthur roared, whirling around just in time to hit Dolohov and stop the Killing Curse from hitting Remus. He ran forward, ignoring Dolohov's mute struggle to end the Silencing Charm, and seized Remus's arms, dragging him up; he looked a little disorientated, but clapped Arthur on the shoulder.
“I'm all right,” he promised. “I've got it, now.” He flourished his wand, blocking a flame of brightest violet from Dolohov.
“Petrificus Totalus!” Arthur cried, but Dolohov deflected the spell, and then a flash of brightest red distracted him. Ginny, his Ginny, was flying through the double doors towards the marble staircase, firing spells over her shoulder at a masked Death Eater who was chasing her.
“Go after her!” Remus roared, firing off a curse at Dolohov; he was clutching his side with his left arm, but was still fighting furiously. “I can handle him!” With a wrenching pang, Arthur bolted after his daughter. Her bright red hair was visible, even in the darkness of the entrance hall, and he fired badly aimed Stunning Spells at her pursuer. He would not let Ginny be hurt. He could not let that happen.
“Ginny!” he roared, skidding to a halt in the middle of the hall, when he saw the Death Eater raise his wand. She whirled around, and, without enough time to block the curse, dropped to her knees. The streak of green light missed her by inches, and with a yell of fury, Arthur fired off a spell that blasted the Death Eater directly, and he smacked into the wall behind him before crumpling, motionless, to the ground.
Arthur ran forward to Ginny, who was white and shaking. She hugged him tightly, and he kissed the top of her head. “What are you doing out here?” he demanded angrily.
“Long story,” she said, only half apologetically.
There was a peal of inhuman laughter, and they both looked up to the balcony overhead; Bellatrix Lestrange was dueling Tonks furiously. The witches, who had just backed into view, were circling each other, dodging each other's curses by inches as spells flew, taking chunks out of the banisters and walls.
“TONKS!” Ginny screamed, and before Arthur could stop her, she had wrenched away from him and bounded up the stairs.
“Ginny! Ginny, no!”
Remus's back was to the wall, literally. He had dropped his wand. It lay some ten feet away, and Dolohov had him cornered. He couldn't make a dive for his weapon, and in the entrance hall filled with shouted spells and screams of pain and fury, he could find no way out.
“Got you now, half-breed,” Dolohov growled. He shot sparks at Remus's feet, and he jumped. Dolohov laughed. “Go on. What are you going to do?”
Arthur, who was across the hall, turned, and Dolohov laughed again, watching as he ran over to help. He raised his wand, facing Remus again. “Calling for help, how brave—”
In Dolohov's hesitation, Remus leapt for his wand and fired a Conjunctivitis Curse full in his face. Dolohov roared with pain and began firing off curses everywhere. Remus hadn't planned for this. Arthur went down, struck by a Cruciatus Curse, and Remus almost fell over him.
“Get out of here, I'm fine!” Arthur bellowed, already dragging himself to his feet. “I'll deal with him!” Dolohov, his eyes streaming, rounded on Remus and Arthur, his face etched with hatred. “Go, Remus!” Arthur barked, giving him a shove.
He looked up wildly, mingled horror and happiness at hearing Dora's voice again, but then he saw her. This was not a hallucination. She was on the upper balcony, dueling Bellatrix more fiercely than he had seen anyone fight.
“DORA!” he roared, and Bellatrix, even in the throes of battle, cackled madly.
“DORA!” she screeched, mimicking him. She blocked a particularly vicious Blasting Curse. “Sectumsempra!”
Dora crumpled out of sight behind the banisters, and Remus screamed. He bounded for the stairs. She couldn't be dead, she couldn't be; just this afternoon, just this morning, they had both been with Teddy, Teddy, his baby, his son. Dora wasn't dead, it defied logic.
And then as he ran, Remus saw her hand, wearing her wedding ring, soaked in blood but clinging to the banister. His heart gave a joyous leap, and he screamed her name again. She saw him, she smiled tremulously, and he didn't hear Arthur's shout of warning.
He fell forward, or at least, that was how it felt. And as every sensation ebbed slowly away, he saw an image in his mind's eye… Dora, her face tilted upward, like she was stargazing; her eyes reflected the light of the full moon in a star-strewn sky.
“Remus!” Tonks screamed, and her tears of pain and anger spilled over. Her husband lay motionless on the marble staircase, felled by Dolohov's curse. Dolohov was now dueling Arthur, and she was left clinging to the banister, clutching the wound deep in her side. “Remus, no! REMUS!”
“You die next,” hissed a voice behind her. Bellatrix had still not given up, and stood over her, snarling, furious. She raised her wand level with Tonks's face. Tonks closed her eyes, tears running down her cheeks. “Avada—”
There was a thud, and Bellatrix gave a cry of shock and pain. Tonks looked and saw that Ginny had just slammed her bodily off her feet. Then she dropped to her knees before Tonks. “Are you all right?” she asked hurriedly, her eyes sparkling with tears. “Tonks, please, are you okay?”
Tonks nodded and tried to stop her tears, for Ginny's sake, though she was having trouble breathing. A sudden movement caught her eye. “Ginny,” she groaned, pointing. “Run.” Bellatrix had gotten to her feet again.
“You nasty little blood traitor!” she screamed, and Ginny spun, still crouched protectively before Tonks. “You get to watch your little friend die, now!”
“I wouldn't be so sure, Auntie,” Tonks spat, trying to pull herself up; she could no longer feel her legs, and it was getting horribly cold…she knew what was coming…
Bellatrix's face contorted with rage. “You are no spawn of my family!” she screamed, slashing her wand down. Tonks braced herself, but Ginny deflected the curse. She leapt to her feet, and the ferocity and speed of her spells were enough to throw Bellatrix, to force her to back away—for a moment. She finally landed a jinx that sent Ginny flying against the banister where Tonks lay.
“Ginny,” she murmured, reaching for her shoulder. She would never be able to forgive herself if Molly's daughter died… “Ginny…” But Ginny was already getting to her feet again. Her mouth was bleeding, her hair disheveled and singed, but she spat out a mouthful of blood and faced Bellatrix again, standing between her and Tonks.
And Tonks herself was trying find the strength to lift her wand, to get back on her feet, but the pain was too much. She was so cold, now, and so tired, and Remus was gone…and she had only just kissed Teddy goodnight…