Albus was swiftly making his way to a little abandoned building on the outskirts of Hogsmeade. Gellert had been vague about where they would meet, but he was almost certain that this was the place.
After all, it was in this building that they had last met.
It was over 40 years ago, just after Arianna, but Albus remembered it like it was yesterday. Gellert had come out of hiding to speak to him one final time, to try and convince him to aid him in his subjugation of Europe. It was only grief and guilt that had prevented Albus from leaving with him.
Hogwarts focused him, distracted him from the temptations of power that he would otherwise constantly come face to face with.
It was as much his redemption as it was his prison.
He pushed open the loosely hanging door, cringing as it squealed and strained against ancient hinges. The room was dark, plain. He could only vaguely feel the presence of another person inside the structure.
There was the possibility of an ambush, that this whole thing was a trap to allow Gellert to fell his only major remaining opposition, but that was a risk he had to take. Albus had run from his responsibility for far too long. He had created the Dark Lord Grindelwald, now he had to end him as well.
He walked into the center of the room, rotting wood creaking beneath his feet, the steady light of a Lumos guiding his path.
This was it.
“I’m here Gellert. What is it you wanted to talk about,” he spat, the words were sour in his mouth.
An echoing laughter filled the room, bouncing off the walls and making it impossible to discern the source. Gellert always did like his entrances.
“Dear Albus, it’s so good to see you again. Why don’t you have a seat and make yourself comfortable. We’ll be here a while.” As he spoke the words the room lit up revealing a comfortable interior.
A dark wood chair was before him, along with a small table on which there was a tea set. Gellert sat in a second chair, seated across from what was presumably his own. The whole building was still a ramshackle hovel, but Gellert had somehow managed to dress it up enough to seem unnervingly welcoming.
Albus paused before taking his chair, going over what was just said once more. Something clicked in the mind of the middle aged man and he bolted back towards the entrance, hoping beyond hope that he was wrong.
He tried opening the door only to find it was sealed shut. Immediately drawing his wand he fired off a medley of spells that should have reduced the entire wall to ash only for the door to remain stubbornly closed.
“Enough Albus,” he turned around firing a wild spell at the blonde only to have it fizzle and dissipate before reaching him. Gellert looked at him with fond amusement. "Have a seat. Neither of us can harm the other through magical means or otherwise and no one can get in or out until dawn.”
Albus trod over and slumped into his chair, defeated. “What have you done Gellert?” His voice was soft, the anger had dried up inside him and was replaced with a growing horror.
The Dark Lord smirked at him. “Nothing yet. I just needed to get you away from the school for a bit.”
The horror sharply became panic. “What have you done Gellert?” He said it a little more loudly this time, unable to control his emotions nearly enough.
“Would you like to see, dear Albus?” He reached under the table and brought forth a beautiful and ornate golden mirror, small enough to be held, but large enough to take up most of the table’s surface. Gellert then pulled out his wand, and with a single tap Albus was staring at the outside of Hogwarts castle.
“I took it upon myself to provide some entertainment for as long as we are here.” Albus felt a horrible gnawing despair inside him at the sight of his beloved school, a terrible desperation at seeing the school but being unable to affect it in any way.
“The show is about to begin, dear Albus. Perhaps you can appreciate the effort that went into it.”
Harry pinched the bridge of his nose as he watched the Great Hall descend into chaos once more. Even the teachers were running around like chickens without heads. It was ridiculous.
He had to remind himself that these people didn’t grow up in the same time period as him. There was a war going on, but most of them had been isolated from it, deluded into believing that it would never affect them, and just like Fudge, the Minister was all too happy to perpetuate that belief.
“Enough,” Harry didn’t even consciously add any power to his voice, his magic just did it for him, ensuring that everyone was quiet enough for him to speak above them.
“Headmaster Dippet, the wards on the castle may be strong, but they can’t hold out against a continuous attack like this. Have you contacted the Aurors?” The Headmaster visibly gathered himself. He looked like he was completely unaccustomed to the circumstances, but Harry was happy to see that the man toughed it out anyways.
“We’ve already flooed them, but apparently there’s been an attack on Diagon Alley as well and almost all of the Aurors have already been dispatched there.”
Harry scowled, that meant this was coordinated. A smaller group probably went to attack Diagon as a distraction, making just enough noise and chaos to warrant a large group of Aurors, and while they were busy playing tag the much larger force attacked the more important target. Meanwhile, Hogwarts was completely defenseless except for a few ancient wards that hadn’t been repowered in centuries.
Even then, something wasn’t right. Harry’s gaze swept over the staff table, noticing the conspicuous absence of a certain wizard. He turned around and looked piercingly at the four tables.
Dumbledore was gone. The one person that could reasonably fight against Grindelwald disappeared just before a major attack.
Harry allowed his gaze to linger on the students, taking in their fear, denial, some were even throwing up a smokescreen, drowning out their worries with sheer perseverance. They all had one thing in common, though.
They were all looking at him.
It was a sobering thought, one which he’d had before. When everything was falling apart, when armies were literally knocking at the door, someone had to lead.
What Harry could never figure out was why people chose him. Time and time again.
“Professors, how many of you have dueling experience?” A few of the Professors had the audacity to look offended, as though the present circumstances still allowed for the normal posturing.
“We are Professors of Hogwarts, young man, the most prestigious magical school in Europe. Of course we know how to duel.” Harry’s glare was withering. The man, who Harry didn’t recognize, probably one of the elective Professors, shrunk back.
“Thank you Professor, however, that is not what I asked. I don’t care if you know how to duel, what I want to know is if you have any dueling experience, because if you don’t and you go out there you’ll end up as cannon fodder.” The indignant expression was back and Harry drowned out the man’s floundering attempts to defend himself.
“What exactly is your plan?” Galatea stood up at the end of the table, giving Harry a measuring look, which he returned.
“We can’t just wait here for the Aurors to arrive. If this is a coordinated attack then we could be on our own until dawn. We need to organize some sort of counter attack to, at the very least, buy ourselves some time, and to do that I need experienced duelists.”
“We can’t!” This time it was Slughorn that spoke out. “Even if we were to go outside and fight we can’t just leave the students here to fend for themselves!” Harry nodded and turned around.
“Prefects,” several students all stood at attention, flinching as the ground shook and the windows rattled from another impact. “As of now you are responsible for your Houses. Go through and make sure every single one of the students is present and accounted for. No one leaves this room, if anyone gets past us you must defend the students.”
Maen Prince prided himself on his practicality, the way he could compartmentalize his emotions enough to logically deal with almost any situation. It was a bit of a Prince family trait.
Now though, he was scared.
His Lord had been keeping track of the movements of Grindelwald and his Reapers, even when the Slytherins knew he was fighting for pureblood supremacy and wouldn’t possibly attack them, it had happened.
And he found himself woefully underprepared.
When the explosions had started he had been inside the common room. Apparently the Hufflepuff quidditch team had been practicing on the field only to be chased inside by dozens of assailants.
Who was attacking? How were they getting through the wards? These were the questions Maen was asking himself as he was herded into the Great Hall along with all the other students.
“When an emergency situation arises chances are you won’t have access to all the facts. Who is attacking? How many people are there? In the case of a surprise attack, these things will almost always be unknowns. In that situation you must remain calm. Losing yourself to panic will only guarantee the success of the ambush. Don’t make any assumptions, take a step back, evaluate the threat, and come up with the most effective means of combating it.”
Evans’ words rang through his head. A lot of good they did now, he thought bitterly, but at the very least they helped him keep his composure.
With each second the panic continued to rise. Once seated at the tables the students looked to the Professors only to realize that they had no idea what to do as well. Meanwhile the floor shook every minute or so to remind everyone of the continuous brutal assault. Even Occlumency had its limits and Maen was beginning to reach his.
Then Mr. Evans walked in.
A good chuck of the students flinched violently at the sound of the Great Hall doors opening, all turning to look as Harrison Evans strode down the aisle without a care.
Maen unconsciously breathed in the taste of his magic as it swirled chaotically around him. It was cool and refreshing, wild and empowering. It made him want to listen.
Then his Lord entered.
When the whole incident first began the Knights immediately noticed the absence of Tom. His lack of presence was somehow more terrifying than the mystery attackers. Now that Maen saw him, alive and well, he and the other Knights let out a small breath of relief. Perhaps there was hope after all.
Evans gave his speech, magic all but compelling them to listen quietly even as they confirmed that yes, they were being attacked by Reapers. Eventually Maen started to understand a very important concept that Malfoy, Black, and Lestrange never seemed to get.
Harrison Evans was powerful.
But it wasn’t just that, his Lord was powerful as well, but Evans was… different.
Tom’s magic was Dark and seductive. It drew you in and made you want to give everything to please him. Evans' magic was untamable. It wasn’t quite Light or Dark, it was… Gray, and it made you want to be better.
He had wondered why he was such an effective teacher, even when he was antagonizing them Evans was still encouraging improvement. It was irritating.
Maen’s eyes flickered over to Tom as he approached him at the Slytherin table.
“Prince, you will be taking my place as prefect for tonight.” Tom whispered.
Maen blinked. Then he blinked again, but no this was not a joke and it was not a dream.
‘What! Didn’t you hear what he just said? The prefects have to defend everyone in the House. If the Professors can’t hold off the Reapers then the prefects will have to. Tom wants me to do that job?’
But instead of voicing all of this he took a deep breath, reinforced his Occlumency walls and nodded silently.
Maen suddenly remembered something else Evans had said during dueling club.
“You guys are fighters. I’ve made sure of it, but not everyone is. Sometimes you will be called upon to defend civilians, people that can’t defend themselves. That is the moment that determines your true worth. You cannot allow yourself to panic, for the sake of the people behind you.”
He knew what he needed to do now.
Tom hung back unobtrusively, using a Listening charm to hear the quiet strategizing session that was happening at the staff table even as another rumble shook the Hall.
Things were moving much faster than he had originally anticipated. He had not expected Harry’s true debut to happen for another few months. It wasn’t unwelcome, but Tom suspected that he would have to deal with the aftermath.
Harry, it seemed, had the ability to block out any useless thoughts when dealing with crisis situations. Tom hadn’t seen any apprehension at taking the stage when the man burst into the Great Hall, delicious magic wafting around him.
But once the threat passed Harry would likely flee in the wake of gratitude and hero worship. Tom would have to make sure he was there to stop him.
He followed as the Professors and Harry finished their discussion on how best to proceed, casting a small Notice-Me-Not Charm to ensure the already distracted staff would not notice his presence.
Harry led them to the main entrance of the castle, where the massive wooden doors were shaking under the force of the outside assault.
“Headmaster Dippet, you need to stay back.” The old Headmaster looked quite put out at that and made to protest. Harry raised a single hand and continued to speak.
“Headmaster, the wards on the castle are tied to you. You are the only one that will be aware of what is happening both inside and outside the castle.”
“Then isn’t that all the more reason for me to come with you. I’ll still know what is happening inside the Great Hall!” Harry smiled sadly.
“No Headmaster, because the wards are tied to you, if you die or are mortally injured then Hogwarts will be practically defenseless. It is imperative that you stay alive.” Dippet paled, giving a shaky nod and returning the way they came.
This was real. All the painfully sheltered Professors were finally realizing the gravity of the situation. Most of them reacted exactly the way Dippet did even as Harry barreled through.
“As soon as this door is opened it will draw all the Reapers to our location. We must hold the line through any means necessary.” Harry’s voice was as commanding as it was enthralling. Tom had already been thinking of the many possible scenarios that could unfold.
He wouldn’t put himself in the line of fire. Harry was more than capable of handling the Reapers so there was no reason for him to get involved.
“The Ministry still classifies the nation as at peace. Britain has never officially declared itself as part of the war, so the Unforgivables are still exactly that.” Harry watched the nervous Professors as they shifted uncomfortably. They knew what was coming next. “I won’t ask you to use those spells, but keep in mind our enemies will have no such restraint, and more importantly there are children behind us that we are sworn to protect.”
And just like that he had them hooked. Even those that had been skeptical about the Assistant looked like they would be willing to kill for him, or at least for his cause.
‘This is Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, the general who led hundreds, if not thousands, of witches and wizards into battle.’
Tom shivered, unable to stop himself from smirking as he eyed the incredible man before him.
He would have him.
“Alright then, you know what to do. Let’s get started!”
And with that, Harry blasted the doors away.
Harry cast a quick Fumo, throwing up a smokescreen immediately after destroying the doors. At the very least it would prevent the Reapers from overwhelming them with sheer numbers for now.
According to Dippet there were approximately 50 Reapers, all of them were probably highly trained, compared to his dozen or so ragtag group of Professors.
Harry was happy to see that half of the Professors followed the plan and threw up a Protego while the other half covered them with powerful blasting curses and severing charms.
In the meantime Harry threw himself into the fray, downing the closest few Reapers with a couple well placed Sectumsempras.
They were outnumbered. If he just knocked them out any one of their friends could have them up and about with a simple Ennervate. He had learned that the hard way; thus, Harry was not taking any chances.
He pulled his Firebolt out of the extendable pouch on his person, magic humming in anticipation. It had been so long. He had run from it, but it had found him, so now he was meeting it head on.
Harry sucked in a breath and took to the air, flying out of the smokescreen he had created. Almost immediately, a group of Reapers on brooms flew to cut him off. Harry wondered briefly if any of them recognized him from that time in Hogsmeade.
“Expecto Patronum” the shimmering silver form of Prongs appeared and rocketed off, antlers butting people off of brooms. Harry let out a carefree laugh at the sight.
Five Reapers had managed to avoid the stag and began casting spells that looked suspiciously like the Killing Curse. He dropped in altitude, pressing his body against the surface of his Firebolt as he executed a series of barrel rolls and just barely managed to dodge all five beams.
Harry didn’t give them a chance for a second volley, doubling back in one sharp movement until he was face to face with his targets.
There were no spells, he just plowed into them with the full force of his body and magic, knocking two off their brooms and heading for a third.
He saw, as he was charging towards the wizard, a spark of fear. Unlike Voldemort’s Death Eaters, the Reapers wore no masks, displaying their faces proudly to even their enemies. Their only distinguishing feature was the stark white symbol of the Deathly Hallows on the back of each of their cloaks and the mad glint in their eyes.
Harry watched as the man’s blue eyes widened with fear as his hands slipped from the handle of his broom and he plummeted more than a hundred feet.
Harry saw it, and he laughed.
His magic was fully released now, outright overwhelming the weaker of the group and causing them to pass out and fall. His magic was free, it was unrestrained and crackling gloriously in the crisp night air, Samhain air.
He was surrounded now. The remaining Reapers had regrouped and gathered around him. Harry finally drew his wand, allowing his magic to spread to the surrounding area, affecting everyone around him.
With one smooth downward swipe the Reapers suddenly found their brooms dragging them down. It wasn’t an uncontrolled fall, so most of them made it down relatively unharmed, but it fulfilled its purpose.
The rest of the fight would take place on the ground.
Harry swooped down, smoothly discarding his broom and casting another Severing Charm in the same breath.
The decapitation of their friend seemed to shock the Reapers out of their stupor, and so the battle continued. Harry drew the attention of most of the Reapers, keeping the few still attacking the castle to a manageable level, but Harry wasn’t thinking about that.
In fact, Harry was barely thinking at all. He was almost exclusively acting on instinct now as the ducked and dodged out of the way of several elite wizards.
His laughter rang out in the chaos, giving the Reapers chills, magic ensuring they knew exactly how powerful he was.
Harry hadn’t felt this light in years.
Tom had followed Harry out of the castle even as the Professors bottlenecked the entrance, picking off the few straggling Reapers that came by. He watched as Harry took to the skies, creating havoc alongside his stag Patronus. He was there when Harry forced them to the ground and began cutting through their ranks. He saw when the terrifying grin that always graced the man’s features when fighting transformed into full blown laughter.
Hysterical and uncontrolled laughter.
Tom was at an impasse. On one hand he wanted to revel in Harry’s enjoyment; the man’s unrestrained power was literally intoxicating and Tom was happy to get drunk off of Harry’s very presence.
But on the other hand the Reapers were falling fast. Well trained as they were, nothing could have prepared them for the full wrath of Harry’s magic. Grindelwald likely suspected he was powerful after the incident in Hogsmeade, but powerful just wasn’t a strong enough term.
Harry was dominating, absolutely eviscerating his opposition, occasionally with nothing but raw magic. Even if some of them made it out alive, they were guaranteed to never raise their wands again.
At the speed they were going down, the battle would be over soon. It looked like Grindelwald wasn’t planning on making an appearance, otherwise he would have ordered a retreat the second this disaster began.
As Tom was entranced by the display, he forced himself to focus. He couldn’t afford to get lost in the man’s magic, not yet.
Tom needed to make plans for after the battle.
The Reapers were down to just a dozen remaining members. They had completely given up on their assault of the castle and were instead focused on getting out alive. The professional duelists were cowering, some had already fled entirely.
He watched, entranced as they fell one by one… 5.
Harry whipped his wand around, pinning one to the ground as the Patronus stag stomped him flat… 4.
The light of the moon was shining on Harry. It was just shy of a full moon, and its glow, along with his magic made him look absolutely ethereal… 3.
Terrifying and beautiful green eyes flashed through the night, becoming the last thing the Reapers saw… 2.
Harry moved, swift as the air itself and just as merciless, dispatching his foe… 1.
The final Reaper was begging. She was a woman, with long black hair that was wildly tangled and matted with blood. She dropped to her knees, desperate cries for mercy filling the otherwise silent, night air.
A few of the Professors had ventured away from the safe confines of the castle to see if the threat had truly ended, coming face to face with Harry holding a surrendering witch at wand point, covered in the blood of fallen foes.
Tom snapped out of his trance and rushed to his side.
Harry was in ecstasy, his magic fueling him like a drug, washing away all signs of exhaustion.
Everything was a blur, he couldn’t see the faces as they flashed by him, or hear the voices as they screamed and begged. All he knew was that he had to defeat the enemy.
All of them.
Harry raised his wand, taking aim at a nameless, faceless Reaper, magic thrumming happily through the holly and Phoenix feather as he prepared to end it. Everything.
He was only vaguely aware of a hand on his forearm. Harry could barely feel the echoes of the physical sensation, like it was happening to a different person.
But his magic, though, it shivered at the contact and curled submissively at the touch of a much Darker magic.
Harry’s eyes came into focus and he saw the pitifully begging woman on her knees in front of him.
He turned his head sharply and saw the Professors staring at him, eyes filled with something he recognized, something he knew well.
He looked at Galatea and something inside of him clicked at the unmistakable appearance of fear in her eyes.
So, Harry disappeared.