Harry versus Snape - do you need anything else?
Acknowledgements - The entire gang at Alpha Fight Club had their grubby little paws all over this chapter. Take a bow IP82, ChuckDaTruck, Nukular Winter, Cubdom, Jmcqk6 and most importantly the incredible beta talents of Kokopelli. I would also like to thank all those who posted comments in my DLP preview thread.
Chapter 27 - All the King's Horses
"Time is of the essence, Mr. Castillo. You have all the materials you require," Snape said with his usual sneer.
"Yes, Mr. Snape. While you have provided the schematics for the wards, without which this job would be impossible, with the Fidelius charm in place, breaking the wards is an entirely different level of complexity; we are forced to do blanket disenchantments to cover the area between houses number 11 and 13. Okay, three of five layers are down; the other two will fall sooner without your interruptions," Castillo replied, returning to his chant.
Severus Snape had no recourse but to continue waiting for the hired curse breaker's efforts to bear fruit. They had been the same group used by his Master to invade Azkaban. Snape's signature had been removed from the gateway wards that protected the house. He could still see that ward past the Fidelius, but even apart from that layer of defense, the normal protections of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black would likely kill him before he reached the door, hence the need for the curse breakers. Once the wards were down, he could easily send in the brainwashed duo of Jones and Vance, now dressed in their Death Eater costumes, but with their wits addled, he preferred direct supervision.
For the last year, he claimed to have meticulously memorized the layout the protective wards. In truth, he merely verified someone else's work. He knew every layer like ingredients of a potion; it had been trivially easy to get the information, needing only a casual rebuke to the bookworm, that if she were so bored, maybe she could get the Curse Breaker to explain the wards on this house. Like a cheerful drone, she drew up a complete ward map for the house and then turned it in for extra credit during the school year. He didn't even have to resort to a compulsion charm! It was easy enough to retrieve it from his colleague's office. Perhaps if Granger survived, she would make an ideal slave, such a helpful little bint. He could find a use for someone with that level of attention to detail and breaking her would be a thrill unto itself.
All this information had been provided to the Mercenaries, so they could drop the wards and allow him access. The Veela had already been inside for five minutes; time and the advantage were slipping away.
Three additional female Death Eaters waited behind the Curse Breakers. "If I can find and destroy the Fidelius Anchor, you are to immediately attack." Each answered with a nod of their heads. The only item he had not been able to discover had been which item had been used to fix the Fidelius charm to the house. Only Black and Dumbledore had been present for the casting and he had never been able to learn what they had used.
"Fourth layer down, it's almost too easy this way." one of the Curse Breakers reported, taking a deep breath to begin chanting anew. One layer was left. Part of Severus hoped the boy was already dead. The other part hoped he wasn't. Potter was an insignificant bug and it was time to squash him. There were certain Necromantic potions that he was free and eager to make, now that he was no longer constrained to kiss the hem of the Headmaster and observe the rules of the Ministry. These potions required human organs as a base. Potter would do nicely. Rendering him down to his base components would be a task he would look forward to, although he suspected that Potter would somehow find a way to corrupt any potion he was part of. It was a chance Severus was willing to take.
"Vance, you will go through the parlor. Jones, you and I will go through the kitchen. Kill anything that moves," he said in a surprisingly calm voice. He particularly liked the silken voice of Vance replying "Yes, Master." It gave him a few other ideas to pass the next minute as he waited on the wands-for-hire to finish their work.
He turned to watch the house that only he and the other two could see. He had one last lesson to teach Potter; something he'd been waiting for since the first day the brat set foot in his classroom. He had chosen to not wear his mask. He wanted the boy to see who was coming for him.
"Mr. Snape, the last layer is down. I wish you good fortune. My team is now setting up wards to prevent Floo, Portkey and Apparition. You have our services for fifteen additional minutes to maintain these wards, survey for any additional wards that may be hidden, or ward reflash. I remind you that, we are not contracted for combat services."
Snape responded with a curt nod of his head. Of course, in the rare event that the wards reflash and maintain enough energy to discharge; it would not be Snape making the complaint. He would most likely be dead. He motioned to Jones and Vance to head towards the door. A smile crossed his lips, as he felt no sign of the wards.
"Open the door. Kill everyone inside!"
"... and the Dark Lord says to the Goblin, 'There's no money in that pocket either and that's not my wand!' I thought it was pretty funny. Wayne Hopkins sent it to me. He said there are a bunch of them going around." Justin Finch-Fletchley waited for Hannah's shocked laughter before joining in with his own guffaws.
"Justin! I can't believe people are making up jokes about You-Know-Who! I know you and Wayne grew up in the Muggle world, Justin, but he's not something you want to make fun of!"
Justin scratched his head and refilled both his and Hannah's glasses from the pitcher Madame Pomfrey had left. His family had barely gotten their luggage out of the car from their vacation in Monaco and Nice, when Hannah's mother had shown up at the house. He had tried to explain Apparition to his family on several occasions. Mrs. Abbott's arrival had provided a better, albeit alarming demonstration than he could have hoped for. After reviving his mother and calming his siblings, he and his father invited Annabeth Abbott in while his mother attempted to get the house in order after four weeks of vacancy.
Stunned to discover that there was a real war raging in the Wizarding world, Justin allowed himself only a brief smile upon learning that the underage restrictions had been suspended. His family had been bothering him for a demonstration, now he could finally show them what he could do! Upon learning that Hannah had suffered some sort of mental trauma, he asked his parents' permission to go visit his girlfriend. He grabbed his suitcase, his unread correspondence and a couple of things from the magical world, mainly his wand, and left with Hannah's mother. Perhaps he would not have been so quick if he had known he would be sitting outside the infirmary for ninety minutes. Madame Pomfrey was only allowing a maximum of two visitors at a time.
During their third year, he had learned of Hannah's empathic abilities. That explained a lot about the girl. With that puzzle piece in place he understood the basis for her fear of large crowds and her wide mood swings. He sat outside waiting for fifteen minutes, catching up on letters from Wayne, Ernie and Megan Jones. The Puffs in his year were a pretty tight bunch. Learning about Zacharias' death was jarring - probably even more so than Cedric Diggory's death, as Justin hadn't really known him all that well. He had roomed with Smith and even liked him despite his abrasive personality.
Madam Pomfrey let him in as Chelsea and Peter Abbot were leaving. Hannah was the only patient. He gave Chelsea a quick smile and suffered, yet again, Peter Abbot's gaze. Justin knew the gaze meant, 'I do not believe you are good enough for my daughter.' He didn't like Peter Abbott any more than he liked Mr. Abbott's bigotry.
Justin's own father had been shocked to learn that the affluence and good name of the Finch-Fletchley family meant absolutely nothing in the Wizarding world. Laws and restrictions were applied to wealth that favored the Purebloods. The Ministry collected a hefty tax on Muggle money transferred into Gringotts above and beyond what was required for the cost of education. His family learned that the hard way when they arranged for a trust account left to Justin by his Grandfather to be deposited into the Magical Bank only to discover the tariffs had consumed over forty percent of the principal. Edward Finch-Fletchley was quite used to dealing with accountants in the everyday world. The Goblins were a rather tough pill for him to swallow.
After a lengthy inquiry to the Ministry, a letter from an intern in the Finance office informed him that the tariffs were necessary to insulate the magical economy from the over-inflated wealth of the Muggle world. He had investigated the laws and found that loopholes existed for Purebloods to move large amounts of money with less severe penalties. Justin enjoyed magic, but knew that he would probably leave this world behind him when his education was complete.
When he was finally able to enter the ward, Justin's eyes immediately sought out his girlfriend. Hannah looked frail in the bed, her little mind shield necklace clutched protectively in her left hand. It brought back memories of their third year, the one plagued with dementors. He had brought her large amounts of sweets from Hogsmeade when she refused to leave the castle and ended up asking her out after the first Hogsmeade weekend.
"Hey, Spazz." His nickname came from all her frantic episodes back in first year, when Megan commented that Hannah was 'such a complete Spazz'.
Justin sat in one of the chairs next to her bed. Her free hand gripped his, tentatively at first, but then firmly.
"Hey, Finchy. I've missed you." The origin of her nickname for him was a rather obvious.
"Do you want to tell me what happened? Your mum said that you had experienced some mental trauma, but not much else. I don't even know why everyone is here at the castle."
Slowly Hannah caught him up with the events of the last month. He made her stop and repeat herself when she said that Susan was engaged to Harry. He couldn't recall the two of them really having a conversation at all last year. She got as far as telling him that she and Chelsea had used their skills to get information from Ginny Weasley, whom Justin could barely recall from the D.A. Then she broke into sobs. He didn't push her anymore. Instead he distracted her by telling her about his trip abroad and the stupid jokes in Wayne's letter.
"So, who hurt you?"
"Harry did, but Hannah had it coming, in a way. Hey Justin, it's good to see you." Susan said walking slowly into the room. She gave him a hug and a peck on the cheek before sitting in the other empty chair. Setting the cane she was using up against the frame of the bed, she drew her wand and tapped her ankle mumbling a pain numbing charm.
Justin stared back at her in wonderment. /Why in the hell would Harry hurt Hannah? /A dark expression crossed his face as he considered settling the score with Potter. Justin knew, however, that even in his dreams he wouldn't fair very well against Harry Potter in a fight.
Justin felt Hannah go tense when Susan entered the room. Hannah slid the mind shield on looking like she was afraid of Susan.
"Relax, Hannah," Susan said. "I am kicking up my Occlumency. You should be okay. How are you doing?"
"Not so good. Did they say anything about how Ginny is doing?"
"They're keeping her at St. Mungo's to run more tests. Frankly I think they haven't a clue."
Justin had to interrupt, "Wait I'm confused. Why did Harry attack Hannah and what does Ginny Weasley have to do with it?"
Susan explained as best she could without mentioning Harry's method of attacking Voldemort, merely calling it a Ritual he was performing with Ginny's assistance. She did her best to justify why Hannah and Chelsea did what they did to Ginny, while also explaining how wrong the invasion was, and why Harry had responded so violently.
Justin had read a bit about Occlumency and Legilimency. He even went through some of the basic exercises with Hannah in the last few years. His willingness to study some obscure art, just so he could be close to her, helped to cement their relationship. He was still trying to wrap his mind around the fact that Hannah was in the hospital because Harry had come in angry over Ginny's injuries and waged some kind of mental battle against her. It sounded like something out of his old X-Men comic books; but then again, here he was with a magic wand, so maybe he should just accept it.
Apparently, Hannah had lost -- badly. Complicating matters, Hannah's father had then attacked Harry Potter, blowing him out the window! Had Justin been there, he wasn't sure whether he would be angry at Harry for hurting his girlfriend or ready to help him take Peter Abbott down a notch or three.
He reflected on this. "So, how angry was Harry when he left last night?"
"He got in touch with the Minister and went with a squad of Aurors to attack a bunch of Death Eaters and then he destroyed most of the Dementors. So, I'd have to say on a scale of one to ten he was somewhere in the nineties." She reached into her purse and pulled out the paper handing it to Justin. He skimmed the article and mentally further lowered his chances against Harry in any form of combat. "We had some nasty words -- I thought it was over between us, but through dumb luck we patched things up this morning. Now I'm here to try and salvage our friendship. You've got me in a bad situation, Hannah."
"Well, what Harry did to Hannah appears to be no worse that what they did to Ginny. So, is he going to lose all his privileges for the rest of his time here as well?" Justin asked. He'd been looking forward to the picnics the two of them had enjoyed near Hogsmeade.
Susan rolled her eyes. "Justin, I don't think Harry could care less about playing Quidditch. He's at the center of a war. If he goes to Hogsmeade, it will most likely be under Auror escort. From the sounds of it, we are probably both going to have bodyguards assigned to us this year."
"We're /engaged/, Justin. God alone knows why, but I mean something to him. They'll try to get to him through me. Think about it, if you had a choice of going up against Harry Potter or kidnapping Susan Bones, which do you pick? I'll be shocked if I can go to the toilet by myself this year."
"Doesn't that bother you?" Hannah asked.
"Of course it does! I doubt there is much of an alternative though. I'll never be as strong as Harry. We don't talk about it, but we both know I'm a liability. I've watched him duel against Flitwick. The only reason the Professor can still beat him is, um never mind. I promised Harry that I wouldn't discuss his training with anyone. Anyway, suffice to say, he's very, very good and I'm just Susan."
"So, when's it going to be Susan Potter?" Justin asked, changing the subject. Under other circumstances, he would have been tempted to make a comment about Harry being controlling, but thought better of it. There was enough tension in the room already. He didn't need to add to it.
"We're going to do a traditional hand-fasting right before school. The formal wedding is probably going to be around Christmas. I'll still come around the dorms to visit, but we'll be living in a flat near the near the staff quarters."
"No more s'mores in the common room?"
"Oh, I suppose I can swing by for some every now and then."
A minute of silence passed and Justin knew his presence was interfering with what needed to happen. He leaned over to kiss Hannah before standing. Placing a hand on Susan's shoulder he said, "I think it's time for me to step outside so you two can talk things through. Don't be too hard on each other and don't say anything that you might regret tomorrow. Good friendships are hard to find and I'd hate to see you two lose yours. I'll be back in a while, Spazz."
The silence continued until Justin shut the door. Hannah spoke first, apparently searching for a safe topic, "How's your foot?"
"I'd say 'fine', but only if 'fine' translates into 'hurts like hell most of the time.'"
Hannah pulled her legs back and sat Indian style on her bed, summoning a pillow from one of the other beds. She fluffed it and set it in front of Susan motioning for her to rest her foot on it. Susan complied, thankful for the friendly gesture and looked at her swollen ankle. It was at times like these that she had to remind herself that she was lucky to still have a foot to be irritated by.
The silence lingered again before Susan spoke, also unwilling to approach the problem directly, "I've always said Justin is a smart one, for a guy that is."
"Yeah, losing him would be even worse than losing you," Hannah said earnestly. "I wish he had been here. He might have been able to talk me out of being such an idiot! Merlin, this is so stupid! We always said we could say anything to each other! I'm sorry. I didn't listen to you when I should have and this whole thing is my stupid fault."
The anxious feelings that Susan had been suppressing continued even though they had finally gotten to the heart of the matter. "It hurts, Hannah. Mostly, it hurts because you didn't trust me. Plus, I specifically asked both you and Chelsea to stay out of it, but you didn't. Why?"
"Whenever I was around him, he was always feeling guilty. It was strong enough to leak through his shields, and it was driving me insane. Whatever he was doing was wrong and he knew it. Now, we know what it was. I assumed he was shagging Ginny and your bond with him was blinding you to it. I had all these thoughts running through my head that he would just cheat on you whenever he felt like it and you wouldn't care or even worse that you would join him in some kind of crazy harem or something."
"Harry with a harem? Gah, he barely knows what to do with one girl in his bed much less a whole bunch of us! Where on earth did you get the idea that I'd accept a threesome?" Susan felt a strange and uncomfortable feeling of pleasure. For the love of Merlin! That rubbish is revolting.
"He really doesn't know what to do?" Hannah said making Susan blush. Hannah was fighting not to giggle.
"Well, I exaggerate. He caught on pretty quick, and I think he's progressing quite nicely. It's not like I'm exactly qualified to judge from all my worldly experience either, but I like it. Let's just drop my sex life for the moment, okay?" Neither could stop the bout of laughter that overcame them. It was a good cleansing laughter followed by jokes about which girls would end up in Harry's harem. Susan still felt the foreign twinge and fought against blushing as she thought about Harry's improving skills as a lover. Susan then felt a bit of repressed anger and wondered if she was forgiving Hannah too quickly.
"So, did you take my Prefect spot?"
"Dumbledore offered, but I said no. I recommended Megan over Sally," Susan said, responding a little too quickly, hoping she didn't sound too irritable. For a change Hannah didn't pick up on it.
"That'll make it easier for Megan not to get caught. So, are we good?"
Susan thought for a long moment, "I guess, Hannah. We're getting there. I'm in between a rock and a hard place here. I don't want to lose you and I can't lose him. He doesn't plan on making nice, with you or your family either at least for a long time. I'll try and talk to Chelsea, but with her mouth it's not going to be easy and she needs to hear it from you too. I can let it slide, but Harry doesn't exactly have my temper. He said he would be polite and not start anything. That is about all I can expect from him for a long time. No, wait. Let me finish first. You have to understand something though. If I ever have to choose between you and Harry, I'm going to choose him. I can't afford to be some silly girl with a crush on him. Hell, until the war is over I can't even be his number one priority, but he /has /to be mine. My job is to support him, love him, and keep him from going Dark. His job is to kill the bastard who murdered my family!" Susan had worked herself up into a bit of a tizzy. She could feel her heart beating faster. She felt like she wanted to hit something!
"Do you love him?"
"Okay. I understand. I won't try and come between you and Harry. I'll warn Chelsea to watch her mouth around him too. I expect that will be useless though. You'll probably have to hex her a few times before she gets it through her skull. So, let's talk about something else. Show me that new wand you got. Did you get a holster for it yet?"
Susan reached into her purse and retrieved an eight-inch willow and phoenix feather wand custom made for her. It worked almost as well as her willow and chimera fur. The anger and the anxiety lingered. Hopefully, Justin would be back soon.
"Harry got his too - eleven inches holly and chimera fur."
"Really, so like the two of you are ass-kicking dual-wand-carrying hit wizards now?"
"Yeah something like that." Susan said quietly letting Hannah inspect the wand.
"Do you mind if I put my shield back on?" Hannah asked.
"You're getting all upset; you have the arm of that chair in a death grip, you know, subtle clues like that?"
As Susan looked down, Justin and Madame Pomfrey came back into the infirmary. "Susan, Hannah the Dark Mark's floating over Hogsmeade! Some of the teachers are going to investigate."
Madame Pomfrey instructed Susan to escort Hannah out of the ward to make room in case they had to take in wounded. Justin offered to stay and help, given his more than average knowledge of medical spells. To their surprise, she accepted and asked if Susan would send any other students in the dorms willing to lend a hand.
Halfway to the dorms, Susan finally realized the source of her persisting emotional turmoil.
"Shit! Harry is in trouble!" Susan exclaimed. "I've got to find someone. Can you get to the dorms by yourself? Don't forget to send someone to help the nurse and Justin!" Susan didn't even wait for Hannah to answer before hobbling towards the Headmaster's office. She prayed that she would be in time to get Harry some help.
Having spent many days and nights in this disgusting relic of magical living, Severus was impressed with the devastation wrought by the corrupted Veela. Smoke poured out as they opened the door. With a well-practiced flick his wand, he dispersed most of it. Vance headed straight into the parlor. With Jones at his flank, he moved towards Potter, who was standing by the suspended, naked girl. Reflexively, he tossed a Crucio that Potter dodged. Feeling no tug of Veela allure, he allowed himself a smile; the girl was dead.
"Equus per Coactum!" Jones yelled as she shot a blasting spell at Potter. Snape regretted not making his instructions more explicit to the addled witch. She is, after all, a weak, pathetic excuse for a witch, trying to cast a very powerful blasting spell; not a very workable formula. One so obviously lacking in talent and power should stick to basic spells.
Still the boy was forced to defend himself, no matter how inadequate Jones' attack. Snape launched a bone crusher, "Ossium Contrico!" He was shocked when the spell appeared as a shadow of its normal power. When had he been silenced? He concentrated on the counter-curse and wordlessly removed his enchantment as he dodged Potter's return fire.
Potter's cutting spell slashed his robes and opened a wound on his side.
Snape evaluated the damage on the fly; it was a lucky strike, nothing more. Potter followed it with a weak Reductor curse that was trivial to block. What bothered Snape more that Potter's pathetic defense was the streak of light hitting Jones, causing her to double over and retch. Potter hadn't cast it! He sent his very own custom severing curse at Potter, but found himself flung bodily into the air by - Levicorpus! /It threw his aim off and gouged the wall. The shame of having his own spell used against him enraged him. It was only then that he discovered the source of the extra spells - the paintings. Black's face mocked him from the portrait frame. He deflected another curse from Potter as he canceled the /Levicorpus spell. A gout of pain ripped his shoulder as he tried to roll through the fall back to the ground. The pain reminded him that he was not as young as he used to be. Jones managed to catch Potter with a bludgeoning curse, throwing the brat back into the wall by the stairs. /Where the fuck was Vance/? Snape's eyes grew wide as he saw an all too familiar burst of green energy come for him.
Surely it can't possibly end like this?
Harry grunted as he smacked into the wall. A wave of pain shot up his spine. He didn't need another battle, not now, not after Fleur! He had already been fighting for what seemed like an eternity. Harry could feel the intermittent drain on his magic from the paintings as they rose to his defense. Shards of broken plates and glasses cut into his hands as he rolled away, trying to shield himself while getting his bearings. He was focusing too much on trying to get Snape, which let the other one hammer him! In the parlor, he could see the third Death Eater stunned and bound already.
Drained and weakened, Harry decided to by himself some time. The spell didn't cost much in the way of energy. This should throw the greasy bastard off balance. /"Faux Kedavra!"/ Harry screamed the last word. Green light flashed towards his enemy; pity it wasn't the real thing. Snape was down, but not out; around him flatware came to life and assaulted him. He swatted defensively as forks, knives, and even a spoon gouged, sliced and stabbed at him. Bloody spoon was trying to dig his eyes out! He searched his mind for something that would stop his other opponent. The opening he had waited for presented itself as Bellatrix's slug vomiting spell struck again, interrupting the swirling utensils. Taking a deep breath and pushing away his exhaustion he cast his next spell.
The Death Eater was straightening up from his hunched over position when the meter long shard of jagged ice struck in his chest. His opponent swayed and dropped to the ground. He needed time, so he cast a smokescreen and scrambled up the steps. The pictures of Regulus, Orion and Pollux Black were gesturing to each other, agreeing on a strategy. Harry felt another drain on his magic as Pollux's magically conjured water splashed the steps. Orion froze the water, making a sheet of ice. Regulus readied his tripping jinx. Harry lay prone on the upper landing, minimizing his profile, hoping to deliver a kill shot.
Making a quick tactical decision, he took off his ring and slid it into his pocket. The paintings were drawing too much energy; he needed /all /of his energy if he was going to survive this fight
Snape dived out of the way of Potter's killing curse. He didn't feel the expected wash of power as the spell rushed by him. Yes. /Perhaps Potter isn't all I have been led to believe./ Moments before he was ready to send a barrage of spells towards the brat, he was hit with a slug-vomiting hex and another infernal silencer. This was becoming annoying! He cancelled the charms on him and sent a blasting curse into the painting of a young Bellatrix Black, destroying it.
He started to dodge a curse from Black's portrait, but it fizzled out before reaching him. The figure in the painting looked alarmed, but then made a typically juvenile obscene gesture. Sneering, Snape watched as his cutting curse hit that portrait, but the spell failed to cause any damage.
"Tough luck Snivellus! You always were a bit of a lightweight. Care to try again! I'm surprised your Master lets a squib like you carry a wand! Not going to beat Harry with you little potions mmmph!"
Snape did not the time to be insulted by a dead man's shade. Instead, he cast a sticking charm on one of cushions surviving the flaming wreckage of the couch and stuck it to the front of the painting, muzzling the mutt. He moved towards the steps Potter had fled up. The wretched paintings must be out of power to perform spells!
The smoke had cleared somewhat and Severus saw the paintings pointing at his current location. Snape moved up to the wall beside the steps. Damn! The cursed paintings were spotting for the boy. The wall shielding him exploded, throwing him onto the dining room table.
"Come and get me, Snivellus!" Harry jeered. "Or maybe you're too scared to go after someone who can shoot back?"
He raised his voice to shout over the old crone's screams. "I'm coming for you, you worthless brat! You can't hide from me forever. No mummy to save you today!" He spared a glance into the parlor to see Vance's limp, bound body. He revived and freed her. "Get him you worthless bitch!" he commanded. Obediently, she started up the steps, only to slip and fall, smacking her face repeatedly on the steps, falling back in the dining room in a crumpled heap.
Snape shrugged; he never expected her to be anything more than a distraction. He was already moving.
Crouching on the dining room table, Snape cast a spell to enhance his leap and blasted a hole in the ceiling. The boy knows a few spells. He might actually be able to duel. Let's see if he can fight!
Harry hoped, for a moment, that the Tonare he had just cast had found its mark, injuring injured Snape. I can't keep this up much longer! The other Death Eater tried a frontal assault up the frozen, booby-trapped steps, paying the price. His bludgeoning curse had just plowed into the fallen Death Eater, when the floorboards on the other side of the landing erupted in a spray of timber shards and Snape burst through, landing mere meters in front of him.
Harry rolled away from the cutting curse, towards the stairs to the next level, but Snape's cutter gashed his right leg. Harry banished the damaged banister and other woodwork directly into Snape, knocking the Death Eater back into the wall, pinning him for a moment.
Harry shot a piercing curse, but Snape's defensive wandwork was faster as it vanished the debris, giving his enemy the freedom to dodge the spell. He sent a Reductor curse, which Snape parried with a wordlessly created shield and then cast a snake, which was vanished in midair. Snape replied with a curse Harry didn't recognize. It was parried with a focused dueling shield, Harry silently thanking Flitwick for teaching him a series of shields that were vastly more effective than the generic /Protego. /The professor had said that Snape's most dangerous attribute was his aptitude for silent magic. It appeared that Flitwick's assessment was spot on.
Knowing he had to maintain the offensive, Harry started a series of offensive spells. From his kneeling position, he stuck his wand around the corner and cast a bludgeoner while a flash of white light blinded him in reply.
"Magia Excandesco!" Snape mouthed soundlessly sending a 'mage flare' to blind the boy. He took a bludgeoner like a kick to his midsection, as his spell released, partially blinding him as well. His vision would clear before Potter's, but it didn't matter. He knew the boy would instinctively retreat behind the shelter of the stairs leading to the third level. Snape blasted the backside of the stairs using the same strategy Potter employed, knowing there was less of a barrier there to weaken the spell.
Moving quickly, he blasted another hole to the third level and leapt again to the top of the stairs as his eyes readjusted - his landing lacking much of the grace of his previous one as his injuries took their toll on his performance. He yanked at a piece of the banister still embedded in his left arm and staunched the flow of blood before sending a heavy bone crusher down into the wreckage at one of Potter's arm. The ensuing scream of agony was a symphony of beauty to his ears.
Unwilling to wait for Potter to dig himself out with his undamaged or possibly less damaged arm, Snape cast /Levicorpus /and bodily dragged the worm from the wreckage, enjoying the boy's pain-filled ascent from the second to the third level.
"Use my own spells against me!" Snape screamed with rage. "You insignificant bug! /Pello Hostis!/"
A wave of his wand banished Potter through the wall and into the library. Snape staggered forward, bleeding from his own wounds and entered through the doorway. The boy lay sprawling on the ground by one of the leather wingback chairs. He smiled, seeing no wand on the ground or in his opponent's hands. Christmas had indeed come early this year.
"Feel my wrath, Potter!" Snape hissed.
"Do you think your pathetic parents are watching you squirm in pain? How about your beloved godfather? Oh no, I'm not done with you yet."
"We're all alone now. I never got a chance to do this to your worthless father, and I've waited for so long to do this to you in his place. I will not be denied any longer."
Harry thrashed in pain as the curses intensified the pain in his already injured body. His wand arm was shattered, bones protruding through the skin. His glasses and holly wand were somewhere below in the wreckage. Doing the only thing that came to mine, he dug into his pocket to get the Black ring back on his finger. Thankfully, it hadn't fallen out. Phineas Nigellus' portrait had always boasted of his precision with a cutting curse.
Harry's Cruciatus convulsions stopped a second later, allowing him to focus on Snape. The shocked man clutched the remains of his hand. He had just lost most of his thumb and first two fingers from the curse that destroyed his wand and ravaged his hand in the process. Harry wasted no time drawing his spare wand with his left hand as Snape also went for his backup wand.
"Expelliarmus!" Harry's spell was a fraction of a second quicker and Snape was forcibly separated from his spare wand. The former Potions Master of Hogwarts bounced off the wall and fell into a heap. Harry dragged himself to his feet and leaned on the chair as Snape desperately crawled towards his wand, three meters away.
"Abrupmo per Incindia!" Harry's summoned a fire whip. It was time to end this.
Snape struggled forward, knowing his life depended on reaching the wand. He thrust his good hand forward and tried to wandlessly summon it. His proficiency at wandless magic was nowhere near his skill with non-verbal casting, but the wand responded to his plea, sailing towards his hand.
For perhaps the briefest moment, Severus felt the sensation of the wood coming to rest in the palm of his hand before the searing white hot flash of light, every bit as blinding as his mage flare, blossomed before his eyes.
He whipped his arm around and blindly cast the killing curse. The boy was too close to dodge. There was silence as his vision cleared. The first thing he noted was Potter standing and looking at him with murder clearly visible in his eyes.
The curse couldn't have missed! Could it?
It was only then that he noticed the flame-cutting curse had taken the bottom third of this arm, neatly cauterizing the wound. He stared in disbelief as his brain attempted to process that his hand was missing. The dead one-legged Auror often said he had a 'phantom sensation' where his limb used to be. Only now did finally understand what Moody was saying.
Potter stood in front of him, with the fire whip swirling above his head.
"There will be no more foolish wand waving for you, Snivellus!" Potter said in an oddly detached voice. "No bottling of glory; no potions to hold death at bay; not today." His whip slashed downwards as Severus tried to move out of the way. It cost him part of his leg.
"Trying to leave so soon? No, we can't have that!" Potter said mockingly. "You haven't finished detention yet! Betrayals warrant at least a detention, don't they?" The whip snapped downward. Snape flopped forward. The one thought that resonated with crystal clarity in his mind was that the boy had snapped.
Severus Snape knew he was about to die. He could feel the heat approaching. He managed to cock his head and look back at Harry Potter and see the fire whip headed for his face. He felt the whip sear into his scalp as it wrapped around his skull.
"Let me show you how to clear your mind, Snivellus," Potter wheezed. Then he tugged on the whip.
Bill Weasley appeared in the corner of the damaged library. The portraits had urged him onward. Sirius had been particularly vocal that he stop staring at Fleur's dead body and go help Harry. His ex-girlfriend lay naked, like some beautiful doll that a child had undressed and then flung to the ground. There would be time to grieve later. There would also be time to get answers from Emmy Vance. Tonks and Flitwick would have to handle that when they finished securing the outside.
In the middle of the room, oblivious to the small fires burning all around him stood Harry, looking like he had fought and lost a war. A barely coherent flame-cutting curse was flickering from his wand. Bill watched him staring down at the floor screaming at something.
"No clever comments on my techniques? 'Potter, you are slicing when you should be mincing. Fifty points from Gryffindor!' Tell me something, does greasy hair burn quicker? Hah hah hah! One thousand points for Gryffindor!"
"Harry? Harry?" Bill called out, though only a few feet away; Harry did not hear him. Bill stepped closer listening to Harry's coughing laughter and dousing the fires separating the two of them. With the flames and smoke finally clearing, he was finally able to see what Harry was looking at.
It took all of his self-control not to immediately vomit.
Author's Notes - Well here it is, I hope I delivered a quality Snape death scene. I'd like to thank everyone again especially Chuck, IP82 and Kokopelli for their specific input into Harry's fight with Snape. Visit my discussion forums on Fanficauthors(dot)net and Darklordpotter(dot)net. I've been disheartened as of late by DLP, but it is still a good place to go and discuss fanfiction, which was my primary reason for joining in the first place.