With the silvery glow of Harry’s wand lighting their path, Dumbledore’s Army charged into the darkness towards the shadowed figures ahead. Closer and closer they came until the Death Eaters were no longer the bright sparkle of two dozen pairs of menacing eyes, but the hooded realization of a terrible dream. Harry saw that the Death Eaters exceeded their own number by only three people, but before anyone could contemplate the odds, a cold voice rose above their war cry and Fred and George’s shield cloaks received their first test.
"Stupefy!" A red light burst forth, right at Hermione. Uttering a high-pitched shriek, she threw her arm up over her face, the curse colliding with her elbow.
What happened next was a sight to behold. On contact, a throbbing sound like the hammering of a tuning fork issued from the shield cloak as a disc of blue light flashed outward from the very spot she had been struck. The next moment, the curse was on its way back towards the Death Eater who cast it, hitting him squarely in the chest, and he promptly fell to the ground, fully stunned.
Fred and George had been as good as their word.
Whether out of fear or fury at having borne the first casualty, the Death Eaters responded in a mad rush of curses. The concourse was instantly aglow in rainbow lights when, dodging and ducking, the DA came to a halt several yards from the enemy.
"Fall into position!" shouted Harry, he and the rest of the front line deflecting as much of the angry bombardment as they could manage.
Just as Tonks had taught them, the DA rapidly divided into staggered clusters of two, one person in the pair assigned the objective of deflecting enemy fire and the other falling onto one knee, firing spells and curses at will to disarm, stun, or injure. Tonks had been very thorough with their education in wartime procedure, as she herself had gone to great lengths to hone her expertise – she had once confessed to Harry that the first war against the Death Eaters had never quite gone from her memory, young as she was. Harry held onto these thoughts of Tonks as he fell onto one knee beside Ginny, who hovered above him firing non-verbal shield charms in rapid succession as he tried to find a window amidst soaring beams of light where he might aim his wand.
Never had Harry felt so proud of the DA; splayed out in pairs across the concourse standing their ground under the rain of curses, they were a formidable presence. Their voices carried over the sound of combat loud and defiant, and despite their inexperience, they provoked an anxiety in the Death Eaters that Harry could discern through their increasingly sloppy execution. The enemy’s confidence was quickly dissolving into recklessness, and whether or not that was what he wanted, Harry could not decide. What worried him more was what would happen once they discovered how to bypass the magic of these new shield cloaks.
This time, a yelp came from Seamus, when another tone resounded in tandem with a brilliant blue flash of light, and consequently, yet another Death Eater received a strong blow to the chest. The Death Eaters exchanged outraged expressions. It won’t be long now, thought Harry nervously while his every offensive effort was relentlessly blocked.
No sooner had the thought crossed his mind than a pale-faced woman, one of Voldemort’s more recent recruits, crouched down onto the ground beneath the line of fire.
"Parkinson, what are you doing?" called out one of the hooded lot to the woman.
Harry glared at her. He might have known Pansy’s mother would join the ranks of Death Eaters, he thought, disgusted.
"Their cloaks fire back!" snarled Parkinson, her head whipping around to survey her resources. The next instant, her eyes fell upon something and her face split into an evil grimace.
From the cosmetics counter of one of the stores in the concourse, a silver mirror slipped through the thin slots of the chained gate and soared into her hand. She thrust her wand out in front of her, aiming it directly at Neville.
Harry felt his pulse bottom out. "Neville, look out!" he yelled.
A red jet of light sprouted from the tip of Parkinson’s wand and soared at Neville, who swung an arm over his face. Springing off of his shoulder, the curse hurtled back at Parkinson, but she had clearly anticipated it. She held the mirror to her chest, where the curse bounced off and soared into the ceiling, exploding a light fixture overhead. Dust and bits of glass descended onto Ernie Macmillan’s head. "Ah-HA!" she yelled looking back over her shoulder at her cohorts.
Before the DA could intercept them, four Death Eaters rushed forward and aimed directly over their heads. Harry opened his mouth, but it was Neville’s voice he heard.
"GET OUT OF RANGE!"
With a loud crunch, four golden beams sliced through the ceiling. Everyone rushed out of the way – everyone, but Luna. An enormous plank of steel and cement dislodged itself from above and came crashing down towards the floor just over Justin Finch-Fletchley, who had tripped trying to run for cover and twisted his leg. He threw his hands up over his head and braced himself, but to everyone’s shock, it never hit him.
"Wingardium Leviosa!" cried Luna, and the block stopped just inches above his curled up body. With gritted teeth and a mighty swing of her wand, Luna launched the great hunk of ceiling at the Death Eaters. It plowed right into the four who had produced the block to begin with, catapulting them backward into the throng.
"Great galloping Graphorns…" whispered Justin, as Luna ran to his side.
"Can’t pull that one over on me," she grunted, helping him up. "That’s how the Turk rebels assassinated the last surviving Bulgarian Cave Hag!"
Luna’s intervention had completely uprooted the Death Eaters’ front line and they stumbled over each other to regain their position. This left the DA a tremendous opportunity. "ATTACK!" Harry cried, and the DA offensive line erupted in a cacophony of spells. Although the enemy response was swift, at least two curses successfully hit their target – Lavender hit a Death Eater with the Furnunculus Curse, his eyes instantly swelling shut betwixt the weeping boils on his face, and Padma effectively slowed the charge of another by transfiguring him into a hissing three-toed sloth.
In her excitement, Padma could not contain a victorious cry – a gesture that caught the eye of Goyle Sr., setting his body quivering with fury. He roughly kicked his way through the jumble of toppled Death Eaters glaring dangerously at her, and he raised his wand.
It felt as though someone had dumped ice water on his head as Harry immediately recognized the look in his eyes. "HIT THE GROUND!" he roared, grabbing Ginny’s hand and yanking her to the floor.
Just then, a heavy voice echoed over the din like thunder.
How Harry had feared those two words. Time seemed to slow to a dead stop in his mind, branding the brilliant green glow of Goyle’s hideous face into his memory. Like Harry, those beside him at the front were petrified, but alive; however, he could not see behind him to account for the others. Harry strained to hear anything at all over the sound of his own furiously pounding heart.
Perhaps no one was hit, he thought. Maybe they were all still okay…
Just then, an agonized shriek resounded throughout the concourse and Harry felt his heart tear in half.
Jumping to his feet, Harry watched breathlessly as Parvati collapsed onto the ground beside her sister’s lifeless body, screaming. Padma was dead. Her sightless eyes were still wide with shock.
"MURDERER!" Parvati screeched, her voice slicing through the clamor like a knife before she doubled over in convulsive sobs. "No… please… my sister…. Someone h-help me…" All the while, Goyle laughed heartily as though he had just heard a particularly funny joke.
Harry felt like a man possessed. "LEVICORPUS!" he bellowed. Goyle rose into the air, and with a furious swipe of his wand, Harry sent him hurtling into the wall with a force that left a dark smattering of blood on the white paint. Goyle fell to the ground motionless and for a fleeting moment, Harry hoped the blow had killed him.
"Hold your ground!" he called out desperately to his friends, who despite their mortified expressions continued on mechanically firing counter curses, motivated now only by the desire to save themselves. He turned imploringly to Neville, Ron, and Hermione. Hermione’s hand shook furiously and hot tears rolled down her face as she and Neville persisted in casting spells at the enemy, though he too was trembling with a force he could not control.
"G-go to her, Harry," yelled Ron shakily, as he fired into the smoke. "We’ll be okay!" Looking to his other side, Ginny stood - eyes red and cheeks glistening - and she jerked her head affirmatively.
"Go," she mouthed. Harry rushed away from them.
"Padma… Padma…," Parvati howled, pathetic in her attempt to lift Padma off the floor by herself. Harry and Dean simultaneously arrived at her side.
"Parvati, let her go," coaxed Dean urgently. "You’ll be killed!"
She held on tighter. "No one gets left behind!" she cried, violently fighting Harry and Dean’s attempts to pry Padma from her arms.
"Give her to me, Parvati," Harry pleaded, meeting her gaze. "Please."
Breathing heavily, Parvati stared mutely at him and loosened her grip. As Harry lifted Padma into his arms, Parvati buried her face in her hands, howling in torment as though a part of her were being brutally ripped away. Dean quickly scooped her up and together he and Harry carried the Patil twins behind a nearby wall, Parvati kicking and shouting furiously the entire way. It seemed to take every ounce of effort from Dean to restrain her.
"NO! Let me go! I want to go back!" she screamed madly. "Let them kill me… please… I want to die…"
Harry did not feel himself in his own body. Staring down at Padma, then turning to Parvati as she fell defeated against Dean’s shoulder, moaning, Harry felt like a spectator to a scene out of his own life – the only difference seemed to be the absence of a Triwizard cup. As Dean set Parvati against the wall, Harry gently lay Padma on the ground and smoothed her raven hair away from her face. All warmth had already gone from her skin.
Suddenly, Parvati grew eerily still and he tilted his head up to look at her. She seemed not at all like herself; her gaze fixed on him, Harry felt his stomach flutter under her stare. She leaned forward, a raw wildness behind her eyes that he had never seen before, and spoke in a strange voice at a volume only he could hear. It seemed to drown out every other sound.
"We understand each other now, don’t we, Harry?"
He looked at her transfixed as Parvati channeled indescribable grief into him through her anguished gaze.
"Finish them," she commanded, her eyes wide and glittering. "If you don’t, I will do it myself."
Harry laid his hand on top of hers and squeezed. "There won’t be a need."
Satisfied by his answer, Parvati pulled her hand away and fell numbly back against Dean, who sat shaken and confused.
"Harry?" Dean said timorously.
"There’s a portkey to the Ministry of Magic in a train on Platform 8; we’ll clear your way as best we can. I don’t know how many Death Eaters may be left fighting on the platforms, so take Lavender and Seamus with you…."
His spirit overrun with sorrow, Harry gently passed his fingers over Padma’s eyes, closing them.
"Get her out of here," he finished. "Both of them."
"But what about everyone else?"
"We’ll think of something… We’ll make it." Parvati was in no condition to fight, and Dean and Harry both knew it. "She’ll be easy prey if she stays. I won’t have her family lose the both of them," Harry asserted. Wordlessly, Dean cradled Parvati against him and nodded.
Harry emerged from behind the wall and felt nothing save for an iron determination surging through his veins. For the first time since Dumbledore’s death he felt capable of unabashed violence, but he knew the DA would lose any remnant of hope if he acted on it; a desperate need for clarity stayed his hand. Having suffered a tremendous blow to their spirits, his friends were being gradually pushed back, and many had dispersed themselves behind anything and everything that would provide them with some sort of shelter as they continued to fire. The next moment, he found himself behind a rubbish bin next to Lavender and Seamus, not quite remembering how he had gotten there, and they looked at him, horror-stricken and silent amidst the chaos surrounding them.
"Seamus," Harry called into his ear, "Dean has Parvati behind that wall and he’s expecting you and Lavender. He’ll tell you what to do."
Sensing Harry’s urgency, Seamus took Lavender by the hand and, ducking jets of light, rushed behind the corner. Harry then scurried to the nearby vending wagon where Ron, Hermione, and Ginny were now stationed.
“I need to borrow you a second,” he yelled to Hermione, pulling her by the arm away from the line of fire into the ‘Photo-Me’ picture booth at their right.
“Harry… what’re you-?"
“A plan, Hermione. We need a brilliant plan,” he asserted vehemently. “Dean, Seamus and Lavender are taking Parvati and Padma to the portkey, but the Death Eaters are between them and the way out.” Outside, he heard the crunch of breaking tiles as Hannah Abbott uttered a painful shriek, and Hermione winced at the sound. Frantically, Harry took her by the shoulders. “Moreover… we’re losing.”
Sniffing, she shook her head, looking away from him. “I don’t know… I can’t think…”
“Yes, you can!” Harry countered. “You must know something about this station that we could use to our advantage!”
“There’s nothing, Harry!” she cried miserably. “They’re too powerful to finish off and this place is too small to lose them. There’s nowhere to go but underground…” Abruptly, Hermione’s voice broke off and her eyes went wide in realization. “Underground…” she repeated. “We’ll trap them in the tunnel!”
“Okay…” replied Harry dubiously. “How?”
Her face fell. “I… I don’t know.”
Screwing up his face in thought, Harry struggled for an idea. “I could do what I did on the platform and try and lure them there - but no, they wouldn’t dare leave themselves exposed to the DA like that,” he pondered aloud. “We need something else… not a diversion… maybe we could corner them - chase them into the tunnel…”
“Harry, I hardly think we’re that intimidating,” she replied. “Not unless Fred and George have something in their pockets to turn us all into Mountain Trolls.”
Suddenly, Harry and Hermione felt the ground vibrate beneath them and a gale of screams and yells erupted outside on the concourse. In frightened panic, they rushed back out and Hermione’s hands flew to her mouth in shock at the sight before them.
“It’s no Troll,” murmured Harry, stunned, “but I think that’ll do…”
A booming voice sounded over the screams. “HERMY!”
Waddling down the concourse with Hagrid at his side was Grawp and, smiling widely at Hermione and Harry, he threw out his hand to wave at them and inadvertently knocked a Death Eater head-first into a cash machine. Together, Harry and Hermione raced back into the action.
“Don’ worry, Harry!” shouted Hagrid jubilantly as soon as he saw his young friend. “Grawpy an’ I’ve got yeh covered!”
The Death Eaters were beside themselves in frustration. Torn between fending off the DA, and trying to take down a half-giant and his gargantuan little brother, they cowered angrily and began to shift towards the only exit that wasn’t blocked – the one that lead to York Road. Whatever else happened, Harry knew that they couldn’t let the Death Eaters escape out of the station into Muggle London.
He slid to a stop beside Neville and grabbed his shoulder. “We need to block that exit! Rally the DA!” Harry yelled to him. Neville nodded and began calling out the order while Harry ran to the spot where he had left Dean and Parvati.
“Get ready, guys,” he shouted to them. Parvati was limp in Dean’s arms and Seamus solemnly picked Padma’s body up off the ground while Lavender assumed the offensive posture. They were standing by, awaiting Harry’s cue.
There was only one more thing to do. “HAGRID!” Harry hollered as loud as he could over the commotion, frantically waving and pointing to the stairs that lead to the tunnel.
Shrugging off the red jets of light that struck him again and again, Hagrid paused to watch Harry’s pantomime. He didn’t seem to understand.
“The tun-nel,” mouthed Harry in as exaggerated a manner as he could.
Hermione joined Harry’s side. “Grawpy!” she called out, waving her arms over her head to get Grawp’s attention. The ground shook as he took a few steps towards her, but that wasn’t the direction they wanted him to go either. Just then, Hermione thrust her wand into the air and, with a loud “avis!”, she conjured a small flock of circling, warbling pigeons.
“Look, Grawp! A snack!” she cried and with a wave of her wand, the pigeons soared towards the direction of the tunnel, which was located just behind the Death Eaters, much to their chagrin. Running hungrily after the birds, Grawp charged straight at them; with the DA blocking every other path, the only place to go was down.
Ron arrived beside her, his jaw hanging open. “Have I told you lately that you’re bloody brilliant?” he murmured, astonished. She threw him a smile over her shoulder.
“Wait. They’re not going down the stairs…” Harry noted anxiously. Sure enough, the Death Eaters had backed onto the staircase, but they were far from reaching the bottom.
“I’m on it!” Ginny ran ahead and aimed her wand. “Marmobilus!”
Ron blinked. “Didn't Fred and George use that one on Percy at Aunt Tessie's funeral?”
With a bright flash, the small bits of debris from the fallen ceiling that peppered the steps leading to the Underground transformed into spinning multi-colored marbles. The Death Eaters clawed helplessly at the air before they slipped off of their footing and spilled one by one down the stairs.
“That ought to hold them for a while,” laughed Ginny.
The Weasley twins shouted ecstatically at their sister from across the concourse. “GOOD GIRL, GIN!”
The way was finally clear. Harry whistled at the crew behind the wall, and they quickly sped out toward the platforms. As they raced down the corridor, Harry caught one final glance from Parvati over Dean’s shoulder. She raised a weary hand and waved to him.
“Goodbye,” whispered Harry as they disappeared into the shadows.
“Harry!” called out Hagrid, who stood guard at the top of the stairs as Grawp tried unsuccessfully to catch Hermione’s birds. “What do yeh want I should do with ‘em?” he asked, motioning to the snarling, sliding band of Death Eaters below. Watching their fruitless efforts to get to their feet, Harry almost laughed aloud.
“We can stay here an’ guard ‘em, me an’ Grawp. They're a bit too squirmy to use the Incarcerous on 'em, if yeh know what I mean!”
“No,” replied Harry. “They only have to follow the tunnel to get out. I have a better way.” He pulled out his last remaining packet of Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder.
Looking back at the DA, Harry brimmed with pride at their courageous performance, but their work was far from done. “The Aurors may still need your help,” he called to them, and motioning to Goyle Sr., who still lay against the wall moaning incoherently, he added, “bind up the rest of this lot and confiscate their wands. As of right now, they’re our prisoners. After that, head back to the platform - I leave you in Neville’s charge.” With that Harry turned and raised his wand at the marbles to stop their spinning.
“Not without us!” cried Ron as he, Hermione, and Ginny rushed to his side. “Allow me,” he said. “Aguamenti Maximus!” A powerful torrent of water sprung from the tip of Ron’s wand simultaneously clearing the stairs as well as sending the Death Eaters careening backwards onto the tracks below. As the water continued to blast down the steps, Ron looked back at Harry, grinning. “Let’s make this quick, then, shall we?”
Harry smiled gratefully, and together, the four of them ran down the stairs. When they reached the bottom, they were greeted by a storm of curses that sloppily flew out in myriad directions. It was Ron’s generous hosing that had caused them to miss their targets completely and, following suit, both Hermione and Ginny drew out their wands.
“Aguamenti Maximus!” Hermione chimed in, and Ginny quickly followed. Three jets of water now pummeled into the Death Eaters before them, who growled and gnashed their teeth, falling over one another like rabid dogs.
“Remember, the stairs are behind you! Everybody grab a hold of someone,” cried Harry, taking hold of Ron’s sleeve, and with one hand, he brought the packet of Instant Darkness to his mouth, tearing it open with his teeth. “On the count of three, run back up… One… Two… Three!”
Just as Harry flung the powder into the air, a Death Eater’s wayward curse struck the ceiling over their heads, raining hunks of debris on top of them. Falling forward, Harry lost his grip on Ron at the precise moment the powder took hold, and the last he saw of the staircase was a growing heap of boulder-sized blocks of plaster and metal before he was lost in vast all-consuming darkness. Their way out was blocked.
It seemed Ron had not lifted his Water Conjuring spell yet as the sound of gushing water continued to echo amidst the Death Eaters' confounded yells. “Is everyone all right?” murmured Harry, trying to feel his way back to his friends.
“Yeah,” came Ginny's voice.
“I’m fine, I think,” muttered Hermione.
He heard Ron groan in a mixture of pain and annoyance. “I think I broke my spleen. No offense to muggles or anything, but this place is about as sturdy as a sheet of parch-”
Suddenly, a loud scream interrupted Ron’s lament. Or at least, Harry thought it was a scream...
“Ron, put out your wand,” Harry whispered. “I can’t hear…”
The rushing water stopped and he could hear scrambling and yelling ahead. At first he thought the Death Eaters were simply reacting to their loss of vision, but something simply wasn't right. They sounded terrified.
Hermione ventured a comment. “Harry, we have to get out of here-“
Harry shushed her. “Something’s happening.”
“Harry,” she said with more urgency.
“Wait a moment, Hermione, I’m trying to listen-“
“Harry, don’t you smell that?”
“Smell what?” Harry responded irately. At that moment, a rank stench filled his nostrils. It was indescribably putrid – the very odor of decay. Of death.
Suddenly, more screams and howls erupted among the Death Eaters, and Harry heard the tearing of cloth and something like cake batter splattering on the floor.
“Oh God,” he whispered.
"Harry... Harry, what is it?" cried Ginny fearfully.