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Brain Activity by LovlyRita

Format: Novella
Chapters: 12
Word Count: 42,150
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Horror/Dark, Humor, Action/Adventure
Characters: Hermione, Molly, Neville, Albus, Hugo, Rose, Scorpius, Teddy, Victoire, OtherCanon
Pairings: Rose/Scorpius, Harry/Ginny, Teddy/Victoire

First Published: 03/03/2012
Last Chapter: 02/21/2014
Last Updated: 02/21/2014

Summary:



*Gorgeous banner by Violet@TDA!*

NOMINATED: 2012 Dobby Awards, Best Action/Adventure!

 Harry Potter has died, and Hermione Weasley is the last remaining piece of the golden trio left alive. Now 44 years old, she thirsts for the glory of her youth and the reunion of her friends. When she carelessly plays with magic in order to revive the fallen hero, the results were not as she dreamed. Her dearest wish has unleashed the Wizarding World's biggest nightmare.


Chapter 1: The Zombie Lord
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Brain Activity
By LovlyRita



Chapter Image by the brilliant Mihali1432



It was always so damp in the ministry’s morgue department, buried deep in the bowels of the otherwise inviting and spectacularly decorated mecca of government in Wizarding Britain. Hermione Weasley sat on a cold bench, the light of the candelabra above her barely enough to illuminate her next pathway. It was up to her to see that the process was done correctly. He had been her best friend, after all.

Harry Potter was lain out on the table, completely naked save for a white sheet draped lazily over his lifeless form. How utterly human it had been, his death. He had fought valiantly in his youth, always with honor and a charisma that could not be matched anywhere in the world. So how crushing, at the age of 44, to be taken by myocardial infarction. The press had said the heart attack was due to the stress he’d been under at work, eating poorly, and a predisposition to high blood pressure. The Daily Prophet ran articles about James Potter’s parents, how they had died tragically young with only one son. The conjecture was that James might have gone the same way, had he not succumbed to Voldemort when Harry was only a tot.

In the foot steps of his father, and his grandparents before him, Harry had died too early, much too early. Just a few years after her Ron, who had died while attempting to crush a rebellion in the highlands of Scotland. Harry had never quite gotten over the loss, and Hermione was forced to raise her children on her own. Rose was 18, freshly graduated from Hogwarts and an apprentice at St. Mungo’s, working to become a healer. Hugo was 16, still at school, but his father’s death had hit him particularly hard. And then there were Harry’s children with Ginny Weasley, who were currently grieving over their father- James, 20 years old working as a free lance photographer for the Daily Prophet; Albus, 18, who had done exceptionally well through school and was now beginning auror training, and Lily, 16, still at Hogwarts with her Hugo.

Hermione thought over the children as she bent over Harry’s body, determined not to cry. She, of course, was able to confirm the heart attack with a wave of her wand, but the ministry had called for physical proof, given the elevated nature and endless popularity Harry had enjoyed during his life. She had volunteered personally for the job, despite the cries of emotional entanglement from the office. She’d put her time in with the Department for Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures and would be soon moving over to Magical Law Enforcement following this tragedy. She’d seen many autopsies involving animals and magical creatures, so much so that she imagined that doing a human may not be so horrible. So, some leeway was given to her, and she was allowed to continue, under the supervision of the head of the department.

Mercifully, he was not here at the moment, for when he was, Hermione could smell his foul breath and could feel his eyes staring at her every movement twenty-five percent of the time, and at her arse the other seventy-five percent.

“Oh, Harry,” she whispered to no one, as she waved her wand and watched his skin close neatly, as though he would now spring off the table in a fit of joy. It was truly ridiculous that magic could not raise the dead, it could do so many other amazing things. Why not re-animate nervous tissue? What was the harm? Hermione halted the ridiculous thoughts at once. She knew very well the consequences of trying to revive the dead. If the inferi were any indication, nothing good could ever come from it. And yet, the inferi were simply nothing more than animated corpses, they were not actually attempts at bringing the person back to life. They were simply told to move by magic, the same way she often animated her dishes to do themselves when she was lazy. It wasn’t exactly science.

“Stop it,” she whispered to herself, pulling the sheet over Harry’s head. The fresh spring air outside was beckoning to her, and clearly it would do her some good. Gathering her belongings, she placed a temperature spell over the room so that the body would continue to stay fresh, and promptly left.

Above the morgue, the hallways were bustling with happy wizards and witches, on their way home to family and a hot dinner, and perhaps intimate moments later with husbands and wives. The closeness of the human connection, the very thing she’d taken for granted for years. Familiar tears began to war their way to the surface, and she swallowed hard to discourage them. She had to be strong for her children, for Ginny, for everyone else. Now was not the time to crack under the monstrous weight of grief.

Despite the normal chatter of the ministry, a heavy cloud hung down upon the mood. The interior of the halls had been changed to black, in order to honor the fallen hero Harry Potter. The statue that had been erected of him after the war was covered in rings of tiny white flowers and trinkets of remembrance. Hermione did not cast a glance at his stony face, frozen in an eternal smile.

Within minutes, she arrived to relax in the comfort of her own home. Her daughter, Rose, was already there, sitting in a lounge chair in the living room, books scattered haphazardly around her.

“Hi, Mum,” she said in greeting, not bothering to rise.

“Afternoon, darling,” Hermione replied wearily. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror hanging above their mantle and saw that her hair was frizzy and stubbornly escaping the tight bun she had wrapped that morning. “How was work today?”

“The same. People are talking about Uncle Harry but I don’t want to talk about him to anyone. I just can’t.”

“I know, dear. Stay strong, the funeral is tomorrow, and then we can put this business behind us and move on, just as we did after your father. Have you spoken with your Aunt Ginny?”

“No,” was her sullen reply. “I haven’t. Are you going over this evening?”

“I fear I must. I’m to deliver some dinner today,” Hermione fretted, glancing around her cupboards for something quick and easy to make. “Do you want to come? I bet Albus would be happy to see you.”

“I might. I just have a few more things to study for my exam tomorrow.”

Hermione found some chicken and decided to bake it quickly with some potatoes and asparagus as a side. Once it was finished, she waved her wand to package it.

“Well, I’ll see you in a bit then, Rose. Don’t be too long if you decide to come.”

“Alright, Mum. See you later.”

Hermione grabbed some floo powder from the mantle, and thew the green crystals into the fire. Within seconds she was standing in the Potter’s familiar living room. Their house was grand, with dark hardwood floors and expensive furnishings. Pictures of the family smiled and waved to her from the walls. The house was well lit, but it still seemed dark and uninviting without Harry’s booming voice to greet her. Ginny was seated on the couch, surrounded by some of her old friends from the championship HolyHead Harpies team she’d been a part of some years ago.

“Hermione,” Ginny choked in greeting.

“Oh, Ginny.”

Hermione dropped off the food onto the kitchen counter and joined her friend in the living room.

“What am I going to do? Lily is coming home from school in an hour, James is still off running around, getting drunk with his friends to stop the pain, and Albus is in his room, refusing to come out. I can’t do all of this on my own....I can’t do it, Hermione...I can’t, I can’t...”

She dissolved into tears once more, they streamed down her face and into her hands.

“Ginny, you can. You can do this. I’ll go try to talk to Albus. Rose should be along soon, maybe she can help talk some sense into him.”

Ginny answered her with a loud sob, collapsing into the arms of one of her other friends. Hermione made her way down the hallway, stealing glances at the happy, ignorant family on the wall that had been rocked from their happy cocoon and now lay in tattered shambles for the world to point at and feel sorry for.

The second door on the left belonged to Albus, decorated handsomely with the Gryffindor house colours that had once been his.

“Albus?”

“Go away, I said!” he snarled from the other side.

“It’s your Aunt Hermione,” she said gently. “Rose will be around soon. Please let me talk to you.”

“I don’t want to talk, there’s nothing to discuss. Just leave me be.”

“Your mother is in the living room waiting,” she tried again.

“I know, and sobbing, no doubt. I can’t deal with it, I can’t deal with her crying all the time, she’s driving me insane. Just leave me alone and let me have some peace, will you?”

“As you wish.” Hermione was determined that if anyone could get him out of that room, Rose could. “I love you, Albus. Don’t forget that.”

No answer was heard from the other side.

As she ambled back to the living room, her thoughts wandered once more back to the cold table that Harry’s body was occupying. She’d read some things once...no. It wasn’t a good idea to try. But what if she could give Ginny her husband back? Give Albus, James, and Lily their father back? If anyone could do it, she could. Suddenly, with all the clarity in the world, Hermione knew what she had to do.

“Ginny, I’m sorry, I have to go. Your food, it’s chicken and potatoes and asparagus, enough for the whole lot of you. I...I’m so sorry. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

She disapparated without another word, and within 20 minutes she was back down in the lab with Harry. She donned the protective jacket and glasses, and set to work with her wand. She warmed the room to 37 degrees C, normal body temperature. She then warmed his body to that, hoping that it would last. When it did, she felt excitement rise in her as her finger tips danced through the air over his body, conjuring up all the energy she could. She murmured a few protective spells, and felt the warmth in her hands as she tried to revive his brain. She could almost feel the connections in his spinal cord spring to life.

“Come on,” she whispered. “Come back to me, Harry. Come back to Ginny.” His eyelids flew open but the stare was still glassy, still lifeless. The room emanated with power. Some of the glass vials on the wall shattered, their contents leaking around the room, floating through the air. The glow under her hands was golden, thriving with life.

She was over heating, it was much too hot, but she pressed on. The feeling under her fingers was electricity, the messages she sent to brain, spinal cord, heart, lungs, liver and muscle alike. It screamed life.

“Come on, Damnit!” she yelled this time, her breathing labored. The contents of the broken vials began to mix together as it floated through the air. Hermione found this odd, as though the unknown liquids were being drawn to the magical energy as well. Suddenly the mixture of liquids, dark as night, centralized under her hands and hung in the air as if it were connected to a string, frozen and ominous.

Hermione was losing it, she couldn’t hold on to the spell much longer. Harry was still lifeless, though his skin seemed to glisten and its colour seemed healthy again. Finally, with a grunt, she released the spell and collapsed backward onto the bench. The magical mixture that had seemingly created itself also released, bathing Harry’s body in inky blackness.

She watched in horror as ulcers began to form on his fragile skin, melting away some of the flesh to the bone.

“Oh, God, no,” She said, her heart racing. She used her wand to try and clean the body but it was no use. The toxic concoction had left its irreparable mark. She felt the tears finally stream down her grimy face. What had she done?

The sobs took her then, the ones she’d been holding the entire day. They were loud and echoed in the vacant room.

She didn’t hear the rustle on the table through her grief. She didn’t see the first movement of the fingers or the wiggling of the toes. Not until he sat up straight, did she notice. She screamed, loudly.

“H-Harry?” She gasped, looking at his face, which was pockmarked and unsightly.

“Rarrrrrg,” was his reply.

“Harry?” She tried again. His eyes met hers. The irises were completely black. He attempted to stand from the table, and she felt herself moving backward. This wasn’t Harry...this was a monster.

“RrrrrAAARRRG,” the demon Harry yelled, as he transferred to standing. He was naked in front of her now, moving clumsily in her direction.

“Merlin...” she whispered. “Z...Zombie. ZOMBIE. SHIT!” It had Harry’s face, and Harry’s body, but it was not him. She watched as he came closer, and stared in awe as he moved. It truly was Harry, and yet not. “I’ve got to get out of here.”

He lunged at her then, making angry, wet sounding noises as he did so. He stunk of death and rot.

“Immobilus!” She cried, attempting to stop him from coming at her, but the spell did not affect him. After attempting several other spells with no success, Hermione realized her situation was dire.

She backed up slowly, as the awkward zombie came toward her, and tripped over something on the floor. Pain sprung quickly in her ankle, and she knew it was broken. Attempting to stand, she cried out in agony and limped toward the door as he lunged for her again. Finally, she reached the door, ran out of it, and slammed it shut behind her, locking it with such a ferocity the lock nearly broke. The zombie Harry yelled in frustration as he unsuccessfully attempted to breach the barrier.

Hermione sighed as she slipped slowly to the concrete floor. Her ankle throbbed annoyingly, but she ignored it as she tried to regain her senses and the famed logical thinking that had made her such an asset during the war. What had broken during the spell, what had caused this? It wasn’t just the magic, it was the substances that had flown out of the vials. Whatever it was, the zombie didn’t seem to be able to be touched by magic, or at least none of the things she’d tried.

One thing she knew for certain. It had to be killed. Tonight.

A/N: I have several people I need to thank. First and foremost, I need to thank Mihali1432 for hearing my ideas out and not telling me they were stupid. Also, to AccioHPFF for listening to my crazy ideas and coming up with titles, and to Caomoyl for coming up with some fun ideas for titles. I'm so broken up I couldn't use Om Nom Nom Brains.

Also to the people of HPFF for helping come up with this title. It was almost called Harry Potter:Zombie Lord but I was instructed that this was a bad idea. So thanks to Snapdragons, OctoberSeaBreeze, LilyPotterfan123, elladora, and Naidatheravenclaw

Make sure you check out Harry Potter Podcast for all your awesome podcasty needs and I will try to get a new chapter up really soon! :)

Chapter 2: Residue
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Chapter 2: Residue
By: LovlyRita


Lovely Chapter by AccioHPFF and myself, LovlyRita



 







One of his favourite things about working at Hogwarts was marking homework parchments at his large mahogany desk at night by candlelight, with the vast expanse of twinkling stars a stunning back drop against the spooky forbidden forest serving as his scenery. Garbed in silk, ruby coloured pyjamas, Neville Longbottom had achieved success as the dedicated head of Gryffindor house and Herbology professor. He smiled as he marked a few corrections on a second year’s essay with his quill. His chambers were decorated with warm red tapestries, and the glowing flames in the fireplace chased the early spring chill from his bones. Life was absolutely grand for him. His children had grown up, his beautiful wife came to visit him every weekend during the school year, and being head of Gryffindor was one of the greatest honours he had ever dreamed to have.

It literally would have been impossible for Neville to have dreamed of a better or fuller life; he had everything on earth. So, when news of Harry Potter’s death swept through the castle like a poisoned fiendfyre, Neville found himself extremely saddened, and yet grateful for the blessings that life had bestowed upon him. Harry had been a treasured friend, and they had stayed close following the war. His children had spent weekends at Harry’s, and vice versa. Along with Ron and Hermione, the end of their youth and the flourish of adulthood hadn’t been a particularly smooth transition, but they had made it all work.

Neville shook his head and attempted to concentrate on his marking once more. He still had another stack of N.E.W.T. level essays to grade, which would be a much more tedious task than the second years’ essays, for sure. His head was swimming with tales of magical plants and herbs when a frantic knock came from the other side of the door into his chambers. Frowning slightly, Neville placed his quill on the desk and stood, wrapping himself in a large oversized terry cloth robe. He stole a quick glance at his receding hairline in the mirror and sighed before moving toward his door. The knock came again, louder this time.

“Alright, alright, I’m coming,” he muttered. He grabbed the golden handle and pulled back, only to be nearly run over by a figure dressed in black.

“Neville!” It was that same, familiar, yet raspy voice called. Disgruntled, he turned to meet his guest and was completely taken aback by her appearance. Her hair stood in every which direction, her clothes were torn and nearly hanging from her thin form, and she was bleeding from multiple sites on her forearms and face.

“Hermione? What the hell happened?” He pulled up a chair quickly for her to sit down.

“Neville, I’ve done something terrible...” she carried off, collapsing in the handsomely upholstered seat trimmed in gold.

“Tell me. Tell me everything.”

“Harry...it’s...I’ve created...and he...” She was stuttering, as though she could barely believe the words coming from her mouth.

“Hermione,” he began, the muscles in his face beginning to relax. “I think I understand. I miss him too. Of course life is hard without him, and it’ll be difficult to say goodbye, but we’ll move on, like we always do.”

“No! Neville, listen to me, you have to listen. I’ve done something, terrible. I have these--” she reached deeply into her pockets and pulled out shards of glass, all of which had varying shades of colourful residue on them, “--and you have to tell me what this is on it. Or help me find something, the potions master...someone...I’ve done something awful.”

“What are you on about?” he asked suspiciously, glancing around the room. Hermione seemed completely wild.

“It’s hard to explain. I thought...it’s silly, really. I thought that...if I used some spells...some healer magic, some ancient things, that I might...be able to revive Harry. And...it worked. Sort of.”

Neville’s jaw dropped, and he stood frozen in place, scarcely believing her words.

“You brought Harry back to life?”

“Yes. Well, no, but...” she met his gaze then, and he could feel the sheer terror in the weight of it. “I created a zombie. A Harry zombie.”

“You...you what? That’s not possible.” Perhaps she had a fever, or it could be stress from helping Ginny plan the funeral. Or perhaps she’d eaten some bad food.

“That’s what I’m trying to tell you. It is possible, and I have proof in the basement of the Ministry.”

Neville raised his eyebrows incredulously before leaning against the edge of his desk. The impossible sentence she had just uttered danced in his brain. The proposition...the actuality of it...was more than just ridiculous. It was utterly terrifying.

“Why would there be a zombie in the basement? There are no such thing as zombies, just inferi, and Harry is no inferi.”

“Neville.” Hermione’s voice had lost its distressed fluctuation. “I tried some spells I shouldn’t have. I didn’t have a firm knowledge of what I was doing. I had a flippant thought while grieving, while watching Ginny cry and the son Harry loved so much refusing to come out of his room for anyone. I thought of Ron, and the way that I’ve been forced to live my life and...I didn’t want that for Ginny. I didn’t want it for me. So I tried a stupid spell, I don’t think I ever actually thought it would work. When I started the spell, there was this warmth in the room, and then these vials...they burst.” She held out the shards of glass again. “The contents all combined into this thick black substance that ended up washing Harry when the spell was over. And a few minutes later...Harry looked at me with the darkest eyes I’ve ever seen on a person. And then he attacked me. I hurt my ankle and...Neville, I’m not lying to you. Harry is walking, and he can see. But he isn’t alive.”

Neville took in each word of her story, feeling himself escape further into despair. If what she said was true...

“We have to go to see Roger Davies. He’s the potions master now after Slughorn died a few years ago. He’ll be able to help us out with this. But Hermione...if what you’re saying is true, then that means he could infect other people if he comes into contact with them. The myths about zombies are that they feed on--”

“--human nervous tissue,” Hermione finished. “I know. They like human brain, it’s what drives them. And worst of all, they can’t be touched by magic, or at least Harry can’t. I tried everything except the killing curse. He just kept coming at me, moaning with this gargling voice. I don’t know what to do, but I need to figure out what these vials are.”

Neville sighed and stood upright, nodding. “Right. Come on then, off to Ravenclaw tower.”

"Wait, wait," Hermione breathed, rolling up the leg of her trousers. Her ankle had turned purple and was swollen three times its normal size. "I have to fix this before we go anywhere."'
'
"Alright," Neville eyed injury with uncertainty. "Shall I call upon the infirmary...or...?"

"No, no, I think I can do it, but it's going to be painful. Healing has not always been my strong suit." Hermione pointed her wand at her ankle, took a deep breath, and murmured a healing spell. She gritted her teeth to keep from screaming, and within minutes her skin had returned to its normal colour. "That'll do for now. Let's go."

***


The corridors of Hogwarts were deserted as the team bounded quickly, their footsteps echoing in the empty expanse. It seemed like hours before they reached the tower, and Hermione felt like she was a student again. If she wasn’t so terrified of her creation, she would have enjoyed it. Neville knocked on the large door to Davies’ quarters, and he opened it sleepily a minute later.

“Neville? Hermione Weasley? To what do I owe this honour?” His voice dripped heavily with the arrogance that had tainted his persona since youth.

“I need your help. Immediately,” Hermione started, inviting herself into his room.

“What’s the rush, Weasley? Surely this could have waited until morning, I do have classes tomorrow, you know.”

“Listen to her, Roger. It’s serious.” Neville was always the peacemaker.

“I need you to tell me what the residue on these glass shards are.” Hermione held out her hand and dumped them onto the corner of his desk. His room was decorated in cool Ravenclaw blue, and his desk sat in the corner of the room with a plaque announcing Ravenclaw as last year’s house cup winners adorning the wall behind him.

He raised his eyebrows at her and turned back to his desk, eying the pieces suspiciously.

“What’s the rush? That hardly seems to be something I should trouble myself with this late in the evening.”

“Just do it, Davies!” Hermione exclaimed in exasperation. “This is official Ministry business. It’s a special job, I’ll pay you if that’s what you’re looking for, I just need the results ASAP.”

“Well, I can’t just look at this and know what the substance is, can I? It’ll take a few days to run tests. Dreadful time of year, very busy.”

Suddenly Hermione drew her wand and pointed it at Roger Davies’ throat, leaving Neville’s mouth agape. Roger sucked in a breath in surprise and narrowed his eyes ominously.

“Listen to me. You will do it, and you will do it now. This is not up for debate. This is a matter of life and death...or...anyway, I need you to do this now. Look at them, and tell me what you know.” She pointed with her other hand, bidding him permission to turn to look.

“You’ll regret this, Weasley.”

“Not as much as you will if you don’t do this.”

“What are you going to do? You don’t have it in you, not perfect Hermione,” he gloated. Hermione felt her features grow dark as the anger she’d been fighting to abate grew around her.

“Oh don’t be stupid. I’m not going to kill you. But I work at the Ministry, and am just starting work for the department of Magical Law Enforcement. I’m sure I could find something. Failing to assist with an investigation, perhaps.”

Roger rolled his eyes dramatically and rolled up the sleeves of his robe.

“Very well. But I wasn’t lying about the time. It will take me a few days to run some tests to figure out exactly what the chemicals are.” He grabbed a few of pieces and held them up to the candle. One of them was dark brown in colour. “This one looks like juice from the sophorous bean which of course is used in draught of the living death.”

“Well that’s helpful,” Neville put in quietly.

“This piece...it’s hard to tell, I’m not sure. This other one, the purplish colour suggests that it was already a potion, maybe invigoration draught, maybe something else. Looks like this could be hellebore...it looks like it’s from a store of potions and ingredients, to be honest. I’ll have to run tests, like I said--Would you get that bloody thing out of my face!”

Hermione blinked several times before lowering her wand. “Sorry. Thanks for your help. Get to work and figure it out. I’ll check back later. Neville, Come on. I need you to come with me.”

“Wait!” Roger snarled, whipping around. “You need to tell me what I’m doing this for. I don’t work for free.”

“You’ll be rewarded for your time. Calm down. It’s for Ministry business.”

“I don’t buy that bullshit. This isn’t at all the Ministry way, I’ve worked on projects for them before. I demand to know what this work is going towards, and how I’ll be compensated.”

“You ought to show him what he’s working for. That’d shut him up,” Neville muttered, clearly unhappy to be of no use.

“Shut up, Neville,” Hermione urged. “Fine. I’ll pay you 120 galleons for it. And what it’s for is top secret.”

“Longbottom seems to know,” Roger put in.

“Well...all right then. If you want to see it, you’ll have to come to the Ministry with me.”

“I’m not about to be ‘escorted’ to the Ministry if that’s what you think.”

“Fine, don’t. Either way, I’ve got things I have to do. So thanks for your help at such short notice. The...Ministry...appreciates it.” Hermione smiled at him, almost daring him to come.

“Right. Find your own way out then. I’ll send a report to your office, most likely in 3-4 days.”

When they were back in Neville’s quarters, Hermione sat back down in her chair by the fire and put her head in her hands. Neville gave her a firm pat on the back.

“I’ll come with you if you want,” he said nervously, wringing his fingers together.

“Neville, don’t be silly. You’ve got classes tomorrow. This is my burden, my stress. I did this.” Her words seemed to sink in then for the first time all night. “Oh my...I did this. This is my fault. I...I ruined Harry. I ruined him! And his funeral...his funeral is tomorrow and I...Ginny will never forgive me and...” The tears slipped from her eyes again but she brushed them angrily away.

“Stop it,” Neville instructed. “This is not all your fault. You couldn’t have seen this coming. Either way, we need to get back to the Ministry and...kill him...again. Before he kills someone else.”

“How! How are we to kill him? Magic doesn’t seem to work!” She cried, exasperated.

“Well, I haven’t figured that out yet. But we’ll find a way. Knives maybe.”

“Maybe...”

“I’m coming with you,” he asserted.

“Then we should go. Because the longer we sit here, the more time we waste. I’ve been gone nearly two hours. Let’s go.”

The duo stole away into the night, and disapparated once they reached the edge of the Hogwarts grounds. Once they apparated into London, just outside the Ministry, Hermione immediately knew something was amiss. There were several witches and wizards roaming around outside the Ministry.

“What...” Neville started, but he was unable to finish. There was a clear path of destruction down the side street behind the dilapidated building that adequately hid the gorgeous architecture of the Ministry.

“Oh no...oh no...” Hermione repeated several times, looking around. There were several people in the road, blood surrounding their broken bodies. It was grotesque, and Neville diverted his gaze. “He’s escaped...I don’t know how...but he’s gone...”






A/N: Ok so there are definitely some people once again to thank. Giola for her guidance and reading this for me before I sent it out. Or at least part of it anyway. And AccioHPFF For the AMAZING chapter image and also for being so kind as to beta this chapter and the previous to pick out all my mistakes

Thank you to Roots in Water for pointing something important about the POV out, which I have since fixed :)

I know a story about zombies is a little bizarre and maybe not something you would normally read, but I am sincerely trying to take something that's often mocked and make it into something amazing! So, thanks for reading, and I've already started the next chapter :)

Check out Harry Potter Podcast for all your amazingly awesome podcast needs!


Chapter 3: The Zombie Queen
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Chapter 3
The Zombie Queen



Chapter image by LovlyRita (That's me!)





The back alleys of London always seemed dingy and unsafe, but that didn’t stop the young beggar from standing his normal post on the street corner. He prayed each night that someone might spare him a few pence, maybe even a pound or two, if he was lucky. After a few days of saving, he’d head down to the shop to get a loaf of bread and some cheese for himself and his sister. It was the way his life had been ever since his mother had been busted for drugs and his father had died from an overdose. Instead of being taken by social services to find a foster family, he and his sister had gone on the run. He was only seventeen years old, but he had grand plans to get a job and maybe even get back to school somehow... or at least get his sister to school. She deserved that much at least.

Despite the recent arrival of spring, the frigid air sent a chill through his bones. He blinked a few times, trying to keep the familiar stabs of fatigue at bay. It was easy to grow tired with the unending monotony of begging for spare change. If he stood too long, sometimes the people meandering by would all start to look the same, blurs of well-to-do women with expensive handbags and upturned noses, and men in black suits with silk ties and extramarital affairs on their minds. It was all the same mundane routine, and yet his pockets remained woefully empty.

Suddenly, he heard a scrape from behind, and he turned quickly. A figure was making its way down the alleyway. It was a male, completely naked, and his gait pattern was oddly broken up and halted.

“Erm...sir? Sir?” The beggar had an extremely uneasy feeling about the man, but something seemed to draw him in. He felt completely rooted to his spot, unable to tear his gaze away from the horribly disfigured, pockmarked arms. As the man grew ever closer, he could hear a low rumble in his throat, and the scraping noises of his feet began to grate on his nerves. It became increasingly obvious that the stranger was not in his right mind.

“Sir... you’ll want to cover up. The-the police around here are... are pretty hard on... erm... criminals...” the beggar trailed off. The stranger passed through a street lamp just then, and a hazy yellow light cast a glow across the face. His eyes were coal black with no iris, and his mouth hung at an odd angle. The beggar noted a scar above his eye in the shape of a lightning bolt.

Finally, the boy found his legs, the connections between synapses firing frantically, sending the signal that danger was approaching. But he had waited too long. Despite the fact that the stranger had moved slowly and clumsily, he snapped to some sort of attention and lunged gracefully like a jungle cat. The beggar never had a chance.

As the zombie struck his fourth victim of the night, it was quite apparent that he was no longer hidden by the shadows. The people who had been passing by had stopped, gripped by terror and yet also strangely drawn to this creature, as though someone had tied their feet to the well worn concrete. The street corner filled with high pitched screams.

***

“GINNY!” Hermione pounded on the windows of the Potter’s house. “OPEN UP, PLEASE!”

Neville whispered quietly, “The door’s opening...” A red head popped her head out from behind the glass.

“What do you want, Aunt Hermione? It’s nearly 2 AM!” Lily Potter exclaimed. “Come in.”

“I need to speak with your mother immediately,” Hermione pressed, passing her niece in her race to get inside the house.

The dark sitting room did little to unsettle Hermione, as she rushed to the back of the house and knocked on the large door that used to belong to two.

“Ginny! Ginny, please! Open the door!” She heard some rustling behind the door, and decided not to wait for her sister-in-law.

“Hermione! Merlin! What do you want? It’s the middle of the night!” Ginny spat, trying to cover herself in a robe.

“Ginny, I’ve done something terrible and you might be in danger, and...I need to get you and the kids to safety.”

“What? You’ve done something? Is... everyone ok?”

“I’ll explain later, I just need to get you to safety. Come on.”

“I can’t just... leave,” Ginny said quietly, as she stood from her bed.

“I have reason to believe that there might be a... creature... that might try to come here and... possibly... harm you. I don’t know for sure, but I don’t want to take any chances. I have... no idea what this... creature is capable of.”

“Why would he come after me? What is all this about?” Ginny frowned deeply, and Hermione could instantly see the toll that Harry’s death had taken on her inexplicably youthful features. Ginny Weasley finally looked her age.

“No time to explain. Come on!”

Lily’s sudden scream sent shivers up Hermione’s spine. It had happened... he was already there.

No!” she yelled, leaving a confused Ginny standing her room, her mouth agape. The hallway was so black, Hermione hit her hand on the door frame and swore loudly as she illuminated the tip of her wand and ran.

“Lily! Are you ok?”

“I-I’m fine,” she stuttered. “Neville just scared me... I didn’t even know he was here.” Neville sheepishly grinned at Hermione. He was standing in the middle of the living room, mud covering his shoes.

“I stayed outside. She saw me and... I reacted poorly.”

“Why were you just randomly standing outside? That’s weird,” Lily put in, rolling her eyes in typical teenage fashion.

Hermione felt her heart beat wildly against her chest as she lowered her wand.

“You scared me half to death. Neville... get Albus and James up.”

“James isn’t here. He didn’t come home last night...” Lily said simply, before taking a seat on the couch.

“What the hell is going on out here?” Albus stood in red flannel pants and no shirt, his hair just as unruly as his father’s had been.

“Albus! Language!” His mother appeared behind him and tapped him on the head in warning.

“We have to go. There is a creature loose, and he might come here, and we need to go now!”

“Nobody is going anywhere. Hermione, you’re stressed, so am I. I think you’ve been working at the ministry for too long now. The funeral is tomorrow; can we at least get through that? I’m so damned tired... I just want to sleep...” her voice broke and carried off, and Hermione recognized the familiar sheen in Ginny’s eyes.

“Oh God, not again,” Albus complained, turning to stalk off.

“Ginny, please, listen to me. I am telling you the honest truth, I wouldn’t have come here if I didn’t think it was a legitimate threat. Neville can back me up here, can’t you, Neville?”

Ginny’s tearful gaze switched sharply to Neville. The three of them had been friends since their days at Hogwarts, going from sharing class notes and battling Voldemort and the Death Eaters to sharing summer barbecues and loaning the children out for sleepovers. Hermione has never seen fear in Neville’s eyes before, not really. He truly belonged in Gryffindor, the house that nurtured him into the man that stood before her. But on this night, Neville’s face was dark, and Hermione noted the deep bags that had formed under his eyes, in less than three hours time.

“Ginny, what Hermione says is true. There’s a creature that is on the loose, and there is a credible chance that he might end up here.”

“What kind of creature? Centaur? Troll? Crazy unicorns with lazy eyes? Do you realize how ridiculous you sound? My husband’s funeral is tomorrow, and I can’t deal with this right now. Lily, Albus, go back to bed. Hermione, we will see you tomorrow at the service.”

“No.” Neville’s voice was clear and authoritative. “Ginny, you are being ridiculous. I’ve spent my life teaching and protecting children, and I’m not going to have you put your children’s life in danger because of your grief. Now you don’t have to come with us, that’s fine. But we are not going to leave Albus and Lily here. Not while there is a threat.”

You won’t even tell me what it is!

“Mum...maybe we should listen to them.” Lily’s voice was small and shaky, and Hermione noted the fear written there.

“We’re wasting time. Either you are coming, or you’re not.”

Ginny’s eyes darted wildly from her children to her captors.

“What is the matter with you? When Ron died, we did everything... everything to help you. Why are you not extending me the same courtesy? You will not take my children, we are not leaving, and that is the end of it.”

Hermione heard it first. The scraping noise outside was louder than she’d remembered it.

“What’s that?” Lily asked, glancing toward the window.

Shit! We have to go, NOW!”

Scratches began emanating from the outside of the door, yet Ginny stood transfixed, staring at the door handle as it turned. The noise was a low hum, and Hermione instantly recognized what was happening.

“There are more of them. And there are some types of magical powers they still have control of.”

“Aunt Hermione!” Lily screamed and got up from the couch as the front window shattered into the living room, sending shards spilling onto the floor.

“Come on, grab my hand,” Neville instructed, pulling Lily over towards her brother.

Ginny!

“Harry...” She said in a distant voice. Hermione’s gaze shot to the door and there, stumbling through, was her husband, now clothed in a black suit and silk tie. Blood was drizzled around the fabric.

No! Ginny, PLEASE!.”

“Harry... what’s happened to you...?” Ginny seemed ignorant of all of the other things happening in the room, her eyes transfixed on Harry broken body. A small army had formed around him now, zombies that Hermione didn’t recognize.

Avada Kedavra!” Neville called, his wand shakily pointed at Harry. Nothing. Nothing but a whisp of smoke emanated from the end of the wand.

“You have to mean it Neville,” Hermione urged, as though they were sitting back in the classroom at Hogwarts.

“I did mean it! I want to kill this bloody bastard!”

“Dad?” Lily’s voice was small.

Get them OUT of here!” Hermione shrieked. “Albus, take Lily and go!

The zombies began lunging forward toward the family, and Neville grabbed the children and disapparated away. Hermione grabbed her wand and lit the tip so it was hot as fire. She grabbed Ginny’s arm, but it was nothing more than a cold, stony mass. It was as though there was a magical force field drawing Ginny toward certain death. Hermione pulled on her arm as one of the zombies zoned in on her.

Hermione quickly sliced the air with her wand, hitting the zombie at the elbow. The dead arm fell off and smacked the floor, where it reanimated itself and started crawling around blindly. A small shock of victory shot through her and she swiped again, aiming for the neck. The zombie fell, headless, to the floor.

Yes!” She exclaimed. She turned to see Ginny and met her eyes at the last second before Harry closed in on her.

GINNY!” She screamed for the last time. Another group of Zombies began to close in on Hermione and she ran to the back of the house to disapparate away.

The zombie king had found his queen.



A/N: Well there you have it! I need to thank some people again! First of all, to my beta AccioHPFF Because I apparently have a distaste for questions marks which I was unaware of. That's why he is bad ass. :p

To Giola my partner in crime for being the only person to review the second chapter! Woot!

Also, please don't think that I think my chapter image is an amazing work of art (even though clearly it is). I know that the great people of TDA make amazing graphics and I should be so lucky to have one. However, the banner (by the AMAZING AccioHPFF) and the Chapter images kind of play in with the theme of this story so I thought it would be fun to keep them up. Except for the gorgeous CI in my first chapter (by Mihali1432) which fits so perfectly it's staying up forever!

Please take some time to review. :)

Chapter 4: Inferno
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Chapter 4: Inferno
By LovlyRita


Chapter Image: By Mihali1432





The damp, dark perimeter of Hogwarts welcomed Hermione as she apparated next to the gates. The shock of watching Ginny succumb so easily to the zombies had left her shaky and sick, and she doubled over and fell onto the grass as sharp whispers from a few yards away wafted toward her.

“What the hell is going on here?!” Albus demanded, his eyes glowing fire in the moonlight.

“Albus, there’s no need for language like that--”

My father was standing in my living room with his jaw half way unhinged!” He boomed, grabbing Hermione’s attention immediately. “You tell me just how the fuck my language is an issue!”

“Stop it! Stop it!” Lily began to cry, tears glistening on her pale face.

“Enough!” Hermione found her voice as she stood to wipe the mud from her trousers.

“Aunt Hermione, what is going on?” Lily asked quietly.

“Your father has been resurrected. But he did not come back normally or even as the form of a ghost.”

“Yeah, no shit,” Albus muttered.

“Albus just...stop. You can say your piece in a second but this is what you need to know. He is not exactly a human. He is what is...colloquially known...as...a zombie. Or the undead. He does not represent your father.”

“And how exactly did a spitting image of my father who, might I add, was bleeding from every orifice, end up in our living room?

“Albus, I’ll tell you, I promise if you’ll just let me get to it--”

“Where’s Mum?” Lily’s voice rang clearly in Hermione’s ears, breaking up Albus’ biting angst.

“I--we need to get to safety.” Hermione made eye contact with Neville, and recognition clouded his face. He dropped his gaze and respectfully took a step back from the children.

“How will she know where to find us? Why didn’t she come with you? Where is she?” The 16 year old in front of her suddenly appeared to be no more than 5, clutching the soft pale folds of her night dress.

“Honey, I think after the night we’ve just had--”

“Answer her, Aunt Hermione. Where is Mum?” The tone of Albus’s voice had changed completely. Absolute and unrestrained fear replaced the anger on his young features.

“She...I-I don’t know what happened...she was in the middle of the room and I...I called out to her and it was like...she couldn’t hear me and...they started closing in. I tried to fight them off, but she wouldn’t...she was like stone. Her arm was heavy, I...I couldn’t...she was...it was like she was cursed or under a spell and she..she couldn’t hear me and I tried everything, I tried, and they were closing in and I had to...had to go because...they...”

She couldn’t bring herself to finish the sentence, but the underlying meaning was clear. Ginny Weasley Potter was dead, and James, Albus, and Lily Potter were now orphans.

“W-what?” Lily’s voice quivered.

“Neville...” Hermione trailed off, stepping away from them so that she could allow her tears to fall without being noticed.

She heard Neville whisper something to the two grieving teenagers, and knew that Albus had wrapped Lily into a tight hug as they cried. She couldn’t explain anymore to them because truth be told, she didn’t know anymore. Why had Ginny just stayed there? She was seemingly dead the minute she made eye contact with the zombie, as though there was an invisible force rooting her to the spot.

Suddenly a stray thought snapped her back to reality, away from the maelstrom of confusion.

“Oh...my...NEVILLE!” The shrill octave of her voice pulled Neville out of his grief and empathy for the remaining Potters. “Neville...if...if this...thing...can find Ginny. He can find Hogwarts. He can find...he can find our families...Rose..Hugo...James...”

“We have to stop him,” Albus asserted, clinging to Lily’s small, sweaty palm. “Before he...he hurts anyone else. We have to protect our family...”

“Albus, that’s noble--”

“NO. You do not get to tell me what to do, Aunt Hermione. Both of my parents are dead, I am 18 years old, a year older than my father was when he defeated Voldemort. Now I don’t know if this is from dark wizards, or what. I don’t really care at this point. But I’m not going to let him destroy anything else that I love. Now I’m coming with you, to save our cousins. Lily, you’re going to stay here at the castle.”

NO!” She shrieked. “I am not leaving you! Aunt Hermione, I’m coming with you. I’m coming to help.”

Hermione’s eyes darted back and forth between the two children, who looked so like their parents it made her heart ache desperately. What would Harry and Ginny want her to do? Would she have been able to battle, and possibly destroy, gross caricatures of her own parents? She made a snap decision, praying that she would not regret it.

“Fine,” she relented.

Albus nodded gruffly and grabbed Lily’s hand. “We should hurry. If they found us that easily before, we have to go now.”

“Neville, go to your family. And warn the headmaster of the school. Get the word out as best you can,” Hermione instructed. “Contact the prophet, contact whoever you can get a hold of. We have to stop this thing before it gets worse. And make sure Davies knows. We’ll need that report ASAP.”

“I’ll go home first, get Hannah and bring her here. I still believe Hogwarts is one of the safest places we could possibly keep everyone. I’ll contact all our relatives and try to get in contact with yours. But for now, go get Rosie,” Neville replied.

Hermione turned to the Potters. “Here’s what we’re going to do. Lily, you’re going to take my hand and we’re going to apparate to my house to get Rose. Albus, meet us by the large oak tree that’s a ways away from the property, do you know which one?”

“Yes,” Albus confirmed, standing a little taller now that he had been given an official responsibility.

“Ok. So we’ll go in, get Rose, and then we’ll figure out what to do next. Neville, we’ll send a patronous when we’ve figured it out.”

“You’re sure that’s safe? These creatures have some kind of magical ability, we’ve figured that out. Do you think that they’d be attracted to a patronous?”

“Well, we’ll either be coming to Hogwarts or...possibly the cabin that we owned in the woods. The one we used to go to on holiday at all the time?”

“Ok. Either place. We’ll wait for you. Good luck,” Neville said quietly, and Hermione gave him a curt nod.

“You too, Neville.”

She turned to her niece and nephew as Neville disapparated home.

“On my count, Al. Lily, take my hand.” A small, sweaty hand intertwined itself with her own. Hermione felt cold shivers run down her back as she sucked in a deep breath.

“1...2...3!”

The familiar pull of apparition was brief as Hermione and Lily were transported to the oak tree outside the Weasley residence.

“Albus?” Hermione called out, panic flooding her thoughts. All traces of the placid calm she had felt before arriving home were destroyed. She could hear the familiar scraping sound accentuated by the drone of mindless humming. Before her lay a black ocean ebbing and flowing upon her front garden. There must have been 400 of them. Hermione watched incredulously as their broken, uncoordinated bodies fought for precious traction on the trampled grass.

“AL!” Lily screamed. Hermione’s heart fluttered quickly, pumping adrenaline throughout her body. “Where is he? Where is he?!

“Lily, stay close to me and don’t move.” Hermione brandished her wand and pointed it at the gaggle of zombies before her. Spells sprinted through her mind, and she fleetingly wondered if a patronous would be an effective defensive measure. The light would most likely attract their attention but she had to do something quickly--Rose was in the house, alone.

Where in the hell was Albus? Scanning her surroundings quickly, she saw no trace of the raven-haired boy who looked so like his father. An idea sprang quickly to her mind, and she peered sideways at Lily before determining that it was the only course of action.

Hermione raised her shoulder toward the crowd and muttered the spell “Incendio.”

Flame burst from the tip of her wand, igniting the perimeter of the mob. Strangled growls erupted immediately, and the wave of awkward bodies briefly stopped their dance. For a moment, Hermione thought she had contained the threat, but the center began to move as a unit toward the forest.

“Albus!” Lily shrieked again. “Please!”

“Come here,” Hermione commanded. The large pack of undead humans inched toward them and she realised there was no hope for finding her nephew in the mess. He was lost to her.

“We can’t leave him!”

Come Here!” Hermione repeated. She grabbed Lily’s hand and disapparated immediately.

Within seconds they stood in Hermione’s bedroom. It was dark but she could make out the shadow of her bed and the dresser in the corner.

“How could you do that?!” Lily sobbed, dropping to the bed. “He could be dead!”

Hermione surveyed the situation quickly. No zombies had yet crossed the threshold of her personal quarters.

“Lily, stay here.”

Fine!” She seethed.

Grasping her wand, Hermione swallowed her fear and used the light of the nearly full moon pouring through her window to find the door. The hall was dark but she could hear Rose screaming from the front room, along with the resounding crash of breaking glass.

Her daughter was still alive! Hermione took off down the hall and toward the living room. The scene that met at the end of the hall would be nearly laughable if it wasn’t so terrifying.

Mum!” Rose cried. She was backed up against the fireplace, flanked on either side by two tall, dark haired men.

“Albus! James!”

“Aunt Hermione, watch out!” James called, shooting a spell toward a zombie approaching her on the right. Bits and pieces of poisoned flesh dotted the plush, light gray Italian carpeting. A stray head lolled aimlessly at her feet, and without thought she kicked it straight into the abdomen of another approaching creature.

James sliced his wand quickly through the air, violently severing arms off two zombies. Rose followed suit, decapitating a fair headed monster.

“Rose...the hallway is clear. Go into your room, grab whatever is most important to you that you can carry. Lily is in my room. Get her and wait there. Go.” Rose nodded, her eyes wide. She sprinted from the room.

“Albus, James, stand back.” With a soft sigh and a heavy heart, she raised her wand.

“Aunt Hermione, what--”

Back!

She whispered the spell first, knowing that the words could never be taken back. It was the only way.

Incendio.

Flames ripped around the room, torching all her beloved memories.

“Mum, no!” Rose reappeared suddenly, distraught at the development.

“Go, James! Back of the house!” The zombies hissed as the flesh melted from them. Even the all consuming fire could not stop their charring bones from rattling on the floor, still impregnated with magic.

“Incendio,” she repeated more forcefully, ensuring the entirety of the room was aflame.

She disappeared into the hallway and heard a scream from the back. James frantically emerged from Rose’s room and ran toward the screaming.

“Are you kidding me?” James yelled. The zombies had violated the window and were clambering through as broken glass sliced their emaciated, sagging skin. Lily, wand in hand, was fighting them off alone, holding her ground as she did so.

“James!” Lily said loudly, cutting her wand violently through the air.

Tall and muscular, James ran into the room and picked up his younger sister, slinging over her shoulder like a rag doll.

“Put me down!” she yelped, still using all of her force to attack the window.

“Disapparate to the cabin we used to use on holiday. Do you know where it is?” Hermione called. “James first, then Albus, then Rose. James, take Lily with you.”

“Got it. Know where it is,” James responded. She watched as they disappeared one by one. The zombies that had come in through the window were closing in on her, and she turned and saw several escapees limping down the hallway. Without time to even consider any alternatives, she set fire to her room.

Despair inched its way into her darkening heart as she watched the flames lash around her wedding picture, slowly destroying the frame and memories into oblivion.

Ron’s face smiled out at her, waving happily as fire consumed the few remnants of his existence. Unable to take anymore, with zombies dying around her feet, she disapparated to the only thing left worth living for.

***

At the cabin, the remaining members of their respective families, minus Hugo, gathered around the large table that previously had served as the spot for lively games and hearty meals. Now it was a place to catch their collective breath, to rest if only for a second, and figure out what to do next.

“So what about Neville?” James was asking, after being filled in to the situation.

“He’s getting his own family, and warning people. We’ll probably eventually end back up at Hogwarts but I just wanted to clear our heads first,” Hermione said quietly. “We’ll make sure all your cousins are safe, and Hugo is at Hogwarts so he’s most likely safe.”

“Are we safe here?” Lily asked.

“I don’t know. We’re relatively secluded here, there’s a lot of forest. It seems as though the threat has quadrupled. They are multiplying so fast, I’ve never seen anything like it. And most interestingly is that Harry wasn’t there. Which means he must be somewhere else...just mass producing zombies.”

“James, how is it you knew to find me?” Rose asked.

“I...” His eyes clouded as he dropped his gaze to the floor. “I went home. I saw the mess left there. No sign of Mum. I thought she’d be with you but...she’s not, so I can only assume...”

“Mum’s dead,” Albus said simply.

“What?” Rose interrupted, startled. Lily nodded, her eyes dry as though she had no tears left to cry.

“I knew something was wrong, immediately,” James admitted. It was then that Hermione realised James’ words were slurring. He had been drinking prior to arriving home.

“James, go shower. Sober up. I’m going to make some food. We’ll need to keep our strength up. We’ll stay here the rest of the night, it must be 4 or 5 AM.”

James nodded, shame invading his dark features. The group broke apart then, leaving Hermione to her thoughts. She checked the pantries and was happy to learn that they still had some non-perishable food stocked from their last holiday. As she pulled something from the tallest cabinet, a flash outside the kitchen window made her freeze.

Reaching into her pockets, she pulled out her wand and tiptoed to the front door. Opening it a crack, she could not see anyone, or hear the familiar scraping noise the zombies tended to make.

“Hello?” She called. “Neville?” She stepped further out into the front garden. Much further, and she’d be in the trees, surrounded by the budding spring vegetation and whatever forest creatures that lurked in the night.

She heard a snap and turned around quickly, expecting Harry’s malevolent red eyes to meet her. The sallow, yellow gaze that pierced her made her gasp. As the figure stepped out of the shadows, Hermione felt her stomach lurch painfully. Her luck continued to spiral further downward as she dared to speak words she never thought she would ever utter again.

“Hello, Greyback.”




A/N: Updated 4/21/2012- Thanks to my beta AccioHPFF for cleaning this up for me and making it look better! I apparently still hate questions marks, lol!

Mihali1432 made the lovely chapter image you see above and also took the time to read it before it was posted, so yay! Also, I should point out that he is a graphic artist at TDA. And paint is not normally what he creates in :p

I did some research to see if Greyback was killed during the war, and according to canon, he actually is still alive. And thank God too, because y’all know what a canon writer I am! Definitely old old old...but alive. So! You can only imagine the type of hooligans that are about to go down!

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this chapter, and I’ll be getting started on another straight away! :)

Chapter 5: Blame
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Chapter 5
Blame


Lovely Chapter image by AccioHPFF!





The woodland creatures were not the only beasts residing in the dense forest that blanketed the Potter’s holiday cabin. Hermione desperately attempted to stop hyperventilating, but she found that she could no longer control the speed of her inhalation. She hadn’t seen those yellow eyes in many long years.

Fenrir Greyback stepped further out of the shadows, and Hermione gaped at his frail form. Once the most frightening, savage being in the wild, Greyback was a whisper of his former self. Though he always appeared more beast than man, his fearsome silver fur was white and coarse, and he ambled slowly. His back was stumped and twisted with arthritis, and his limbs seemed willowy and incapable of holding what was left of his emaciated frame.

“You’re the Weasley then, the mudblood,” he coughed, sending a spray of red toward the grass. Hermione backed up warily, stunned at his appearance.

“Yes, I suppose. I don’t want any trouble, and I will kill you,” she asserted, clutching her wand with confidence and authority.

“Hah,” he growled quietly, mustering the courage to move closer to her. “I don’t have trouble with you, insolent woman. It’s nearly the full moon anyway, I’ll be finding my keep in the forest tomorrow. That’ll keep those bastards away from me.”

Recognition registered quickly on Hermione’s face.

“You mean the zombies?”

“I mean whatever those dead eyed walking pricks are that killed the majority of my pack and made to come after me. Barely made it out alive, I’m embarrassed to admit. And I’m passing through here, and I see lights on at your place. So I knew it was either someone escaping or more of those loud pieces of shit. They make that awful noise when they are standing idle.”

A wind blew from within the trees, sending a chill through Hermione’s bones. The grass was beginning to dew, and the lasts whispers of the chilling onyx night were beginning to fade into the promise of morning.

“So you’ve seen them, then.”

“Are you stupid, mudblood?” She winced. No one had called her that for years. “No, I’m talking about the other groups of people that go around and feast on brains for fun.”

“Oh you mean like yourself?”

Greyback chuckled and sputtered some more, red spittle dripping from his crusted lips.

“I don’t eat brains, girl. I don’t fucking eat people. I’ve got high spirits when I’m a wolf though, very experimental. You can’t fault me for that. But I never bit a person who didn’t deserve it.”

“I think Remus Lupin--”

“Don’t you dare utter that traitors name in my presence. I don’t care how long he’s been gone, or how long that war has been over. I don’t tolerate hearing that name, I get a little more violent, if you know what I mean.” His tone was menacing, but the sight of him nearly made Hermione laugh in his face.

“Fine. Don’t worry. You’re looking worse for the wear, Greyback. Life rough after the war? I heard you spent some time in Azkaban?”

He bared his teeth like the wild animal he was, anger darkening his countenance.

“Just because I look like an old man doesn’t mean that come tomorrow night, I won’t find this house and destroy your family.”

“My family is already destroyed,” she spat, matching his indignation. “And you won’t touch my family. You go into your woods, and you enjoy your precious full moon. I’ve seen what these Zombies can do. So have you. If I were an old, dying wolf like yourself, I might think about making myself some allies, rather than antagonizing every person I come across.”

“We’ll see about that. Those fuckers attacked while we were in human form. I bet if they cross me during the full moon, there will be a lot less of them around.”

“Well, I hope for the sake of our community right now that you are right. Keep an eye out for us.”

“I don’t do favours for filth like you. You’re not worth wasting my breath on anymore.”

Greyback began to hobble away, into the dark recesses of the forest. Hermione sucked in a deep breath and let it out slowly, allowing her heart to return to its resting rate.

“Aunt Hermione?” Albus called from the front door.

“Yeah, I’m coming in. Sorry,” she said, squeezing her eyes closed quickly before turning to go back inside.

“Who was that?”

“No one. A wanderer. Come on, let’s get inside.”

The house was warm and Hermione was relieved to be inside once more. She resumed her search for food, making sure that all the doors and windows were firmly secured. After settling on some cans of vegetables, she began the arduous task of preparing food. Purposely trying to ignore the conversation taking place at the back of the house, she focused on stirring the carrots, peas and broccoli, thankful that Ginny had thought to keep some stores of food.

Suddenly she was lost in destructive thoughts, her house swirling in hellfire, Davies and his reluctance to help, the loss of Ginny, her niece and nephews in the other room without parents. It had been so easy to forget that the entire nightmare was her fault and her fault alone. She felt the shame and worry wash over her, making her stomach feel like tight stone. How many lives had been destroyed because of her foolish plea for her best friend to live? Of all the people in the world, Hermione Weasley knew better than to play with magic, and yet she had let her guard down. How would she ever tell Lily that her father was a zombie because she had created him?

Mercifully she was pulled from the wretched reverie by the roar of emerald flames in the fireplace behind her. Startled, she nearly dropped the vegetables she’d been stewing to the floor. Removing the pan from the flame, she allowed her heart to slow down before approaching the living room.

Neville’s face flickered brightly amongst the discarded ash. His countenance was twisted in concern.

“Neville!” Hermione breathed, relieved to see the familiar face. “Hannah, is she...?”

“She’s fine. Everyone is fine. We’re bunkered here at Hogwarts. So far, the zombies have not been able to breach our walls. We’ve been in contact with the Ministry...or what is left of it anyway. The Minister has been killed, but we do have the Deputy here. Percy Weasley. We also have Teddy here-”

“--Oh thank Merlin,” Hermione sighed.

“He’s unharmed, but has been engaging the zombies in battle with the rest of the Auror team. They’ve lost a good number already. Hugo is fine, he’s at the castle asking for you. Hermione, Davies has done some preliminary testing... he has some results.”

“That arse! I knew he could get results faster than he was saying he could,” Hermione swore.

“It’s not good. The substances on the glass, some of them are common potion ingredients but some of them seem to be new creations. He was able to date the substances. Some of them are from the 1970’s, others are from the mid to late 1990’s.”

Hermione felt a stab in her temple as a particularly severe headache began to spread toward the back of her skull.

“Neville, you have got to be kidding me.”

“I’m not. You know as well as I do that during those times the Ministry was infiltrated with dark wizards, working on Merlin knows what. The room that the autopsies take place in, as it should turn out, is an old apothecary which was only remodelled and turned into a morgue about 15 years ago. Therefore, some of the older potions, particularly the ones that were interesting colours, were left in cases to decorate the walls, kind of as a nod to the room’s history.”

Hermione sat down on the old flowered sofa adjacent to the fire place and put her forehead in her hands.

“So what you’re telling me, is that whatever the chemicals were that mixed...”

“They were dark things, Hermione. Davies doesn’t even know what they might have been used for on their own. But together it’s just... a disaster.”

“And most importantly of all, it’s the work of Voldemort. Shit!” She swore loudly. “How is it possible that after all of these years, after all the things we’ve been through, that bastard still finds a way to destroy everything.”

“It might not have come down directly from him, but it’s definitely the work of the Death Eaters from the time. It could have been workers under the imperio spell, or it could have been Death Eaters that hid their agenda very well. But whatever happened, I can tell you that you are lucky to believe alive. Davies figures that exposure to several of the potions on their own might have killed you.”

“Well, they didn’t actually touch me,” Hermione admitted. “They were just drawn by the force of the magic for whatever reason... Which still doesn’t entirely make sense to me.”

Neville nodded. “It’s dark magic. We may never know the mechanism of action. It could be the electrical charge of the particles. Opposites charges attract, it could be something of a fluke.”

She could feel the panic begin to rise in her throat, the familiar realizations she’d just managed to keep down minutes ago forcing their way to the surface.

“How could I...how could I have done this?” she choked.

“Hermione.” The tone of Neville’s voice had changed, and he was speaking to her more like a worried student than an old friend. “You honestly think you are the first person that has ever tried to revive someone with magic before? It’s been tried millions of times, millions of different ways, by millions of different people. You trying to bring Harry back to us wasn’t malicious in any way. That could have happened to anyone, and given the state of the the chemicals, which according to Davies were extremely volatile, it most likely would have happened to someone even using a simple summoning spell. It was going to happen eventually. I don’t even think Voldemort himself would have predicted this to happen. Hermione, this is not your fault. You have not killed anyone, and you have not destroyed anything. So stop blaming yourself. You’re brave, and you’ve done so much already. Now, we’re still safe here so whenever you are able to, I would suggest coming here. Apparate outside the gates like normal and then come on in. Hogwarts will keep us safe.”

“I know, I’ve always known that much. I’m going to try to let the kids get some sleep and have some food, and then we’ll be off. I want to at least shield them from the questions as long as I can. Thanks, Neville. I needed that. We’ll be seeing you soon, yeah?”

“We’re holding the fort here. The kids are going to be waking up soon, and they still don’t know what’s happening. I think the Headmaster will be making some announcements soon. Stay safe. Speak soon.”

He was gone then, leaving the fireplace cold, dark and empty, just as it had been before. The short visit from Neville was encouraging, but now she felt unclean and just wanted to get away.

“Mum?” Rose poked her head around the corner from the hallway. “Are you ok?”

Hermione raised her head and stood to meet her daughter.

“I’m fine, dear. I’m just fine. I’ve got some vegetables made. It’s not much but it will at least keep our strength up for now. I want to stay here for the day, catch up on some sleep. I think I’m gonna shower first. Are your cousins ok?”

Rose brushed several stray strands of frizzy auburn hair from her face. Her normally bright blue eyes seemed dull as she answered.

“They’re fine. Lily is sleeping, and Albus is talking to James right now. I think James feels bad because he was drunk, but don’t be too mad at him, Mum. He is old enough.”

“Oh, I know he is, I’m not mad at him. He’s been through a lot lately. I just wanted him to rest and unwind. I kind of want everyone to do the same. Get James and Al to come have some food and then I want everyone to get a few hours sleep. Can you do that?”

Rose nodded, stepping further into the living room. She met her mother in the middle of the room, and then wrapped her into a large hug.

“I love you, Mum. Thank you for coming to save me. I probably wouldn’t have survived if it wasn’t for you, and James, and Al. I mean, Al just came out of nowhere. I don’t even know how he knew. I was really scared, but I tried not to show it. I’m just glad that you were there.”

“Oh Rosie,” Hermione murmured, kissing the top of her daughters head. “I love you too. Of course I came to save you. Now listen. You get everyone to eat, I’m going to jump in the shower. I’ll eat whatever you don’t and then I’ll be off to bed just like you lot.”

“Ok, Mum.” Hermione smiled reassuringly at her only daughter before vacating the room to have a shower.

The bathroom was small but functional, with modest fixtures and an average sized tub. Hermione turned the tap on and allowed the shower to run for a few minutes before stepping in. Dirt and grime dirtied the bottom of the tub as she washed the evidence of the night’s events from her exhausted limbs.

Once she was clean, she threw on some blue trousers and a red blouse she found in the chest of drawers in the guest room. She and Ron had stayed there some years earlier, and Hermione was grateful that the garments still fit. After she was dressed and had eaten some limp, under seasoned vegetables, she decided to attempt to sleep. Sunlight, bright and cheerful, poured through the windows, but Hermione ignored its call. She retreated to the guest room, tucking herself tightly under the pink and red patchwork quilt. Sleep did not come easily, but it did eventually come.

***

“Mum! Mum! Wake up! Please!”

Hermione jumped up, startled. She’d been tortured with nightmares about zombies, and her disorientation only further confirmed that most of them had been real.

“Mum, they are outside. There’s only a few of them, but they are here. James and Al are taking care of it, but there’s going to be more.”

Shaking her head, the first thing Hermione noted was that it was once again dark.

“What happened?! You let me sleep all day?” She asked shrilly, throwing the covers off.

“We all slept, Mum. James woke up first. He heard them. Lily’s in the back of the house. There’s going to be more. I can hear them.” Rose shivered.

Hermione leapt up from the bed and grabbed her wand. Her heart had already quickened its pace as she pictured the two boys fighting alone. She sprinted through the house and burst out the front door. Three dead zombies were piled at James’ feet. They were decapitated, and Albus was preparing to set fire to the remains.

“Are you alright?” She asked, taking stock of the situation.

“There are more. They aren’t here yet. It seems that they might be more dormant during the days.”

“We need to go, we need to get to Hogwarts.”

“Mum!” Rose called from the house. “I can’t find Lily! She’s gone!”

What?!” James roared. “Where the hell did she go?”

“She was here one minute...and now she’s gone.”

“Well she can’t have gone far!” Hermione panicked, frantically checking her surroundings.

“Lily! Lily!” Albus called, starting to search around the perimeter of the property.

“Albus, you stay here. I’ll go look.”

Suddenly there was a blood curdling scream from the forest.

LILY!” Albus yelled.

“James, come with me. Albus, stay here with Rose. Albus...Albus, NO. You will stay here with Rose!” Hermione snapped at her nephew, who had been actively ignoring her instructions. “I mean it. I need you to stay here. Do you understand? Answer me!

“Yes!” he snarled angrily.

“Good. James, come on.”

James nodded and took off, sprinting into the unforgiving darkness of the forest. Hermione followed behind.

“Lily!”

“Over here!” A scream issued loudly and James veered to the right. The droning hum began to get louder, and Hermione knew that a fresh wave of zombies were close by. She skirted past a couple of wide tree trunks before catching up to James, who was crouched next to Lily’s small frame. She was knocked clean out, with a bloody lip and what looked to be a broken wrist. James grabbed his wand and muttered “Reinnervate.”

Lily’s eyelids fluttered before finally opening wide.

“What were you doing?” He asked her, picking her up.

“I...I couldn’t find you, there was no one in the house. I just kept walking and got lost. But James..there’s a..a..a...”

“Werewolf,” Hermione gasped. She heard his growl before she picked out his face. His fur was completely white but saliva dripped menacingly from his sharp teeth. Greyback. He moved with all the grace of a freight train, unstable and just as wobbly as a wolf as he had been as a man. His eyes were cloudy with cataracts, and he limped so horribly it was debatable whether or not he could be considered a werewolf at all.

“Son of a bitch,” James cursed, staring at the wolf’s aged form. He adopted an athletic stance, waiting to engage the beast in battle.

Strangely enough, the wolf did not appear to be interested in the three delectable, warm blooded humans. He spun quickly and sauntered off, towards the direction of the zombies. Hermione could see them now, hundreds of them, stumbling over tree roots and into thick patches of brush. Her mouth was agape as she watched Greyback charge toward the mob. It was as though he was forty years younger all of a sudden, as he began to rip limbs off with his bare teeth.

“He’s saving us...” Lily trailed off.

“No, he’s saving himself. Come on, we’ve got to get to Hogwarts,” Hermione instructed. She was grateful for Greyback’s intervention, despite the fact that his actions were self serving and foolish.

Ten minutes later, they were back in front of the cabin, the sound of the improbable battle providing an eerie soundtrack to their departure from the forest.

“Lils!” Rose screeched, greeting her cousin with a hug. Albus appeared to be relieved, if not disgruntled.

“We’re not waiting any longer. Come on. We’re off to Hogwarts.” And with that, the group disapparated in hopes of finding a more calm environment to plan.



A/N: Hey everyone!

This time around I've of course got to thank my Beta and Skype BFF AccioHPFF for being so amazing and awesome. He made the chapter image, beta'd the story, and over all is a great friend and has always been there when I need him. :ashandscott:

Also, to Giola Because she made my day today, so she gets a dedication.



Chapter 6: Firearms
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Chapter 6: FireArms
By LovlyRita


Gorgeous and artistic chapter image by Giola!





Chaos.

It was the only word to describe the scene waiting for the refugees outside Hogwarts. As soon as they apparated to the gates of the school, the melee began. There were too many of the walking dead to count, and they were milling the perimeter of the school, waiting for warmth to appear.Hermione gasped as the side of her face made contact with the damp ground. Several zombies lost their balance and tumbled over her form before realizing they had stumbled upon a human. Horrified, Hermione leapt up from the ground and set her surroundings ablaze. She couldn’t see her family, all she could hear was the screaming.

Tears sprung to her eyes as a sharp breeze assaulted her face. She sliced her wand through the air over and over again, severing limbs, lacerating rotting flesh, and burning the remains. In the distance she could see Albus and James, back to back, fighting the horde as best they could.

Heavy fatigue washed over her as the impromptu battle waged on. Her shoulder felt heavy and awkward, and she was constantly tripping over the fallen enemies. She spotted Lily and relief washed over her. The resourceful girl had taken to a tree and was stationed there, shooting spells while clinging to a sturdy branch, out of reach of the threat. Despite this, panic gripped her heart because she still had not spotted her only daughter.

A near constant flow of disfigured faces caked with blood assaulted her, and she knew they had to work toward the gate. The castle loomed magnificently in the background, offering a place to plot and hide. Hermione had never seen anything so beautiful. She began to work her way toward the two boys, who were holding their own. As she battled her way through the threat, sending spells forward, and backward, she heard a blood curdling scream from behind her.

Hermione spun around, taking two zombies down in the process, and her stomach tightened painfully. One of the zombies had taken Rose’s wand and snapped it into pieces, littering the grass with its shards. Four of them began to close in on her, and Hermione’s panic shifted into full gear.

“No!” She cried furiously, taking off into a sprint towards Rose. She knew she’d never get there in time, but she elbowed zombies out of the way.

“Mum!” Rose screamed, her cries strangled and raspy. Hermione’s breath was ragged and her legs felt like dead weights, as though her effort were completely useless. Rose flailed her arms and legs, attempting to kick them away, but there were too many of them, and her fight was futile.

And then, just like her Aunt Ginny, Rose stopped fighting. She stood, her knees locked into extension, a blank look etched on her exhausted countenance. The zombies advanced on their prey, their droll hum suddenly excited at the impending feast.

“No! Please, No!” Hermione was completely unable to look away from her daughter’s final seconds of life. She felt tears of despair collect painfully at the corners of her eyes. The zombie directly in front of Rose opened its putrid mouth, ready to tear into her warm flesh, when his head exploded with a loud bang. Within seconds, all the zombies around her were down, and Rose was left in the middle, still alive, still healthy, face wet with tears.

Hermione whipped around to locate her saviour. A tall, blonde man emerged from the shadows, a large shotgun strapped around his broad chest. Rose broke down upon seeing him.

“Scorpius!” she screeched, falling like a rag doll into his strong arms. Hermione felt her jaw drop and then promptly closed it. She had far more pressing matters to worry about, like the ravenous zombies that were closing in on them.

“Scorpius. Keep her guarded. Stay with me. We’ve got to move out of here,” Hermione commanded, slicing her wand through the air once more. She could see Albus and James ahead, still holding their own.

“Right,” Scorpius replied, cocking his gun back. “Let’s murder these sons of bitches.” He took aim and fired straight through the forehead of one of the zombies, and it fell unceremoniously to the soggy earth. A cry escaped Hermione’s dry throat as she realized the face of the fallen monster belonged to Seamus Finnigan.

“Oh, Seamus,” She whispered sadly, stepping over his mutilated form. “We’ve got to get back over to the other two. We can set the field on fire if we do it that way, it seems to kill them relatively--” she paused to remove the limbs from a female zombie wearing a torn miniskirt with matching halter top “--effectively, but seems to take quite a long while. It will at least take their attention off us.”

“Stay close to me,” Hermione heard Scorpius murmur softly to Rose, as he prepared for another shot. Rose nodded and latched onto his arm, helpless without a wand.

The trio fought their way to the centre of the conflict, covered by Lily who was still fighting up on her branch. After several gruelling minutes, they finally made their way to Albus and James, who both looked like warriors dotted with the sludge that sat in the zombies’ veins.

“We can’t keep them off forever, there are too many of them,” James shouted, continuing his slaughter. “I don’t know where they are coming from, but I know I’ve killed at least two that were in my year at Hogwarts. It’s endless.”

“Can’t we reach Hogwarts somehow?” Albus’ voice was nearly drowned out by the disgusting drone of the zombies.

As if on cue, Hermione saw an angel float over in the sky.

“Brooms!” Lily screeched, pointing upward. A dozen people on broomsticks glided towards them, assisting immediately in the battle.

Incendio” Hemione asserted, and the flames issued from her wand, licking at the pasty, deteriorated skin of the undead before them. The brooms circled around the survivors, swooping lower as the inferno raged around them.

“It’s hot,” Rose complained quietly, clutching Scorpius’s arm. A putrid odour infiltrated their nostrils, and Hermione felt Albus wretch beside her.

“Stay strong,” she ordered loudly. “They’re nearly here.” She watched as one of the figures arced across the sky like a shooting star, grabbing Lily from the branch as though she was a rag doll, and carrying her back over the grounds to Hogwarts.

“Ok, Rose, you first. Then Albus, Scorpius, and James. Here comes the first.” The rescuer flew down and grabbed her hand, pulling her up onto the broom. Hermione caught Scorpius’s pained expression as his secret lover flew away from him to safety. The rest of the boys were rescued shortly after that, and finally Hermione was floating above the hellish blaze. Never one to fully appreciate the benefits of travelling by broom, Hermione clung tightly to her rescuer. Woozy by the time they made it back to the castle, she climbed off the broomstick, thankful for solid ground once more.

“Thank you,” She breathlessly stated, holding out a hand. “What is your name?”

“Anderson McLaggen. Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, 7th year.”

“Thank you, Anderson. Thank you so much.”

The rest of the rescuers, who were all either professors or students who were of age, lead them into the castle. The moon was beautiful in the night sky, and the hum of the zombies was nowhere in ear shot.

Neville greeted them the moment they stepped through the grand doors.

“Merlin,” he whispered, staring at the ragtag group of survivors.

“They are everywhere outside the walls. They appear to be unable to breach the protections of Hogwarts at this moment, but there are hundreds... maybe thousands of them. They’re multiplying so fast. We did what we could; it’s amazing we made it out alive. Some of us almost didn’t...” Hermione trailed off and snuck a glance at Rose.

“Is that Scorpius Malfoy?” Neville asked.

“Yes, sir,” he replied, slinging the gun across his back.

“How did you end up here...with a gun?”

Scorpius sighed, shaking his head slightly. “I was in my flat when I saw the zombies outside the window. I ran outside to see what was going on and immediately realised the threat. I didn't even have time to go to see if my parents were ok, I got away to find Rose. When I got to her house, and saw that it had burned down and that there were these zombies everywhere, I tried to fight some. I lost my wand in the process, and I saw that the shed was still standing in their back garden. I went in hoping to find something... anything. I saw this old gun and recognized it from some conversations I’d had with Rose. I picked up the gun and some Ammo, which I’m still not entirely sure how to work, and then decided that I’d try to come to Hogwarts. I never dreamed it’d be like this. And then I saw Rose, but the zombies were closing and she wasn’t... moving. Why weren’t you moving?”

“I... I... I don’t know,” she admitted. Hermione listened intently because she had been wondering the same thing herself. “At first I was scared and I was crying... and then something happened. I caught one of their eyes... and it was like I couldn’t move. Truth be told, in that moment it’s like my brain was telling me that I didn’t want to move. So I didn’t. I don’t know what would have happened if... if Scorpius hadn’t been there.” She began to weep softly.

“It’s like they have some kind of power that paralyses their victims before they kill. There’s obviously some type of magical ability that’s transferred once the victim has succumbed. It appears that they are muggles and wizards alike, and that the illness is spreading.”

Hermione was vaguely annoyed by the fact that Neville referred to the zombies as an “illness” but did not respond.

“But we’re safe here, right?” Albus asked.

“Yes. You’re safe here. Come on then, let’s get you cleaned up at least, and some food. Others will continue to arrive; we’re going to have teams sweeping the grounds constantly.”

“That’s a good idea. I assume you have the room of requirement set up for them?”

“We do. Showers are in there and everything. Get cleaned up, there will be a hot meal waiting for you when you’re done. I’ll have one of the house elves show you the way.” Hermione nodded as the kids stalked off after the house elf, who continued to work at Hogwarts despite having been freed by Hermione’s own house elf initiatives.

Once they were out of earshot, Hermione sucked in a deep breath and turned to Neville. “What does Headmaster Flitwick have to say about what’s going on?”

Neville lead Hermione further into the Great Hall and they sat down at a table before he answered.

“He’s deeply concerned. Of course the safety of the children is paramount and always our first concern. It’s quite possible that half of the parents of these children are no longer living. There’s really no good way to find out, either. Right now, we’re protected by the intense magical shields guarding the castle, but we figure that these won’t last forever. The zombies themselves radiate magic, especially those that were witches and wizards previously. And it seems as though the more zombies they make, the stronger they become. One thing that’s important to us is we haven’t been able to locate Harry. He seems to be the ring leader of them. That’s what Percy Weasley has been telling us, he has people out scouting them out. The most concerning thing is... well...”

Neville trailed off for a moment, as though he almost regretted bringing the subject up. Hermione drummed her fingers impatiently on the wooden table, awaiting the bad news.

“They seem to not only be able to change living humans but... they seem to be able to wake the dead.”

WHAT!” Hermione gasped, feeling a sharp pain in her stomach. “Raise the dead? Who have they managed to raise?” She feared the answer, prayed it wasn’t true.

“Not Voldemort,” Neville said quickly, dispelling her fear. “He doesn’t have a body to resurrect. But it also means that this army could be endless. This battle could never end. We have to consider the possibility... that our side is the minority in this war.”

Hermione pushed her chair away from the table and stood abruptly. “Neville, this is madness. It’s barely been 48 hours; you can’t tell me that the entirety of the world’s population is now zombies. What about people overseas? Surely the zombies haven’t managed to swim across the damn ocean and infect France, or even more hilariously, Americans. Or Africans. I mean, is this contained in the UK?”

She slammed her hands into her hips and tapped her toe, staring Neville down.

“I don’t know, Hermione.” Neville sounded exhausted as he continued, “I’ve told you what I know. It’s something we haven’t experienced before.”

“I know that, but all I know is what I’ve seen, and these things are relentless, and damn near as hard to kill as Voldemort was. It’s almost like every single zombie Harry creates is a fucking Horcrux...” Hermione trailed off thoughtfully. “I need to go to the library.”

Neville gaped at her incredulously.

“I... you can’t be serious?! The Library? At least take a shower first! You’ll smudge the books with that disgusting zombie blood on your fingers.”

But she had already walked away, a new purpose in her step.

***

The tomb loomed before him, illuminated by the great moon that hung perfectly in the cloudless sky. The stars twinkled magnificently, reflecting in the modest lake that surrounded the small island. It was quiet around the quaint wooded area, except for the sound of a gurgling drone that echoed sickeningly in the solemn silence. The centrepiece of the island was the large, magnificent tomb made of white marble. It stood out in contrast to the onyx heavens, a small monument of tranquility.

Scrape. Scrape. Scrape.

The zombie with the lightning bolt scar arrived at the island alone, away from the massive army that he had created. The first of his kind, he acted without conscious thought or reasoning, yet there seemed to be a pattern to his actions. He used the strength he that had gained from his feeding habits to remove the lid of the unblemished tomb.

Though he was incapable of showing human emotion, the zombie reached down within the tomb and pulled out a wand that rested inside. Holding the thin stick between his clumsy fingers, the monster moved his arm slowly across the air, as though the stick would perform an action for him.

A great yellow light issued from the tip of the wand. The zombie shoved the wand in his bloody, stolen black trousers. He turned and crept slowly back into the water, toward the land and the army he had left.

Behind him, the contents of the tomb rustled. A fresh zombie, newly turned, sat straight up, his long, white beard rustling softly in the wind.




A/N: Thanks to my beta AccioHPFF For betaing this for me, and catching something SO HUGE AND AMAZING that it has completely changed something I hadn't even thought of. Big Big Big Thanks to him, and eventually y'all are going to be thanking him too!

Also, thank you to Giola For creating this amazing chapter image! I love how big Scorpius's arms are...I've nicknamed him "Rambo Scorpius" and he's my new favorite character

Chapter 7: Hot
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Hot
By LovlyRita

Gorgeous Chapter image by: WeasleyTwinMom





The silence was soothing to her, a welcome escape from the horrid sounds that were becoming all too familiar. The library was her solace, and it had always been a place where she could come to think clearly and strive for greatness. The Hogwarts library was her personal favourite; it held the sweet, distant memories of her time at school, flanked on each side by Harry and Ron as they stumbled through yet another assignment. She still remembered the homes of her favourite volumes, especially those hidden deep within the restricted section.

She had pulled several dusty books from the shelves and lined them up chronologically on the table. More than any other time in her life, she was having a difficult time focusing on the strings of words on the pages. It had always been in her nature to run and bury herself in books when life had given her more than she could handle, yet tonight even they could not break her thoughts.

Hermione wondered briefly about Rose and Scorpius. When had they become a couple? How long had her only daughter been hiding their relationship? Rose didn’t seem too bothered by the fact that she had failed to tell her mother, but this was probably due to her relief at seeing Scorpius during the terrible scene outside the Hogwarts gates. Lost completely in her thoughts, oblivious to the words lined on the page and the flicker of the small candles around her, she drifted away from the room, away from the pressure to come up with an answer for the zombie crisis.

Voldemort had created horcruxes to keep himself from dying; was it possible that zombies could do the same? That had been the original thought that had brought her sprinting into the cavernous library, but she had been aimlessly researching for hours against her better judgement. Of course there wasn’t any literature on the nature of horcruxes; she’d known that all the way back in her sixth year as a student. It had been a stupid thought, but she was clinging to anything that made sense to her, and as disgusting as the thoughts sounded rattling around in her over stimulated brain, horcruxes were something she knew all too much about. But Harry couldn’t be making horcruxes, the zombies he turned simply could not be horcruxes because he wasn’t using a wand to make the kills, nor was he using conscious thought. Regardless of the answer, what she did know was that Harry was getting stronger with each person he turned, and that the time for answers was running out.

The distant sound of footfalls startled Hermione out of a continuous loop of destructive thinking, and she glanced around desperately for the source of the noise.

“Hello?” she called, startled by the sharp echo of her voice through the stacks of ancient literature.

“Baby.” It was a statement, simple and soft, that met her loud declaration of revelation. The word rolled off his tongue like velvety chocolate, like something he had practiced a million times before to elicit a specific response in a woman.

Hermione felt goosebumps erupt on her arms, felt her breath catch painfully in her throat as the familiar tones caressed her ears. The steady cadence of her heart quickened as tears prickled in the corners of her eyes.

“No,” she told herself firmly. “You are so exhausted you are hallucinating now. He is not real.”

“Baby. Look at me.”

Oh Merlin, it was him.

She stared down at the table, willing herself not to look, bracing for disappointment. It was not possible. People didn’t rise from the dead, she knew that more than anyone else.

“Look at me, my sweet girl. My Hermione.”

What a mess she had become, tears streaking down her dirty cheeks, crying for what seemed like the millionth time that day. She dared not believe it.

“You aren’t real. People don’t rise from the dead,” she replied pointedly to the book laid out in front of her.

“Look at me.” The voice was inches from her, a gentle whisper, warm against the soft fuzz near her ear. Breathing shallowly, she slowly rotated her head to meet the figure next to her. His blue eyes sparkled triumphantly, passionately, so gloriously familiar, as clear as they had been when she first realized she would be his forever.

“Ron,” she choked.

He did not reply, but instead took her exhausted, emaciated frame into his arms. He appeared to be just as she’d last seen him, hair peppered with gray, laugh lines etched deeply around his eyes.

“How?” She managed to verbalize before being silenced by his lips crashing against her own. His kiss was hungry and fervent, begging urgently for the entirety of her being. And she had always been his, even before she cared to admit it to herself. He smelled of freshly cut grass and pine wood, and she was enraptured and bewitched by his presence.

“I love you,” he whispered against her, wrapping her in an intimate hug. She felt her hair stand on end, but still she was unable to turn off the logical side of her brain.

“This doesn’t make sense,” she said quietly. “How can it be?”

“Promise me you’ll never leave,” Ron whispered, pushing her against the table and pinning her with his hips. Hermione’s eyes widened in shock as she glanced into the endless ocean of his eyes that had always served as her safe haven, her home.

“I have never left you, after all these years, and I never will.”

Feeling drained and dizzy, she closed her eyes, trying to comprehend what was happening. Her mind was playing tricks on her. The lie twisted itself in her brain, embedded itself deeply within her emotions, and forced her to believe it was real. Hallucinations, falsities. He could not be real.

“This is a dream.”

She felt his warmth drift away as he released her, and she knew with foreboding finality that she had been correct. Sighing, she opened her eyes, feeling the hope that had blossomed in her heart only moments ago wither to nothingness.

Except he was still there, in front of her, standing several feet away now, his head buried in his hands.

“Ron?”

Slowly, he removed his hands from his face. Instantly she noted that his skin had adopted a sickly gray pallor.

“No...” Hermione trailed off, instantly feeling sick. “No. No, no no no.”

She took a step backward, grabbing her wand from the table as she watched him wretch awkwardly. His skin hung loosely from his bones, deteriorating in front of her like a piece of spoiled fruit. A low, menacing growl issued from his lips as he sputtered, his eyes clouding over before fading to black.

Knuckles white on her beloved wand, Hermione pointed her weapon at the zombie that had once been her loving husband. She stared at his ruined face as he began to creep toward her, the familiar scraping of his feet the final indication of the completed transition. Hand shaking, she glanced quickly around the room, hating every single ounce of her being for what she was about to do. Tears leaking freely from her brown eyes, she whispered the word that, once again, would destroy everything that she held dear.

“Incendio.”

Flames erupted from her wand, swallowing all of the books and history in its path. Her shadow danced wildly amongst the scorching heat, a demon against the backdrop of chaotic destruction. All of the books, all the memories of her adolescence, everything that helped her to find her true identity, gone in seconds.

Ron zombie roared in anger as the flames licked at his legs. Falling to her knees, she watched as the fire consumed the last shred of happiness she had left.

***
Hermione jumped, the entirety of her body drenched in sweat. The cavernous library was nearly silent, her laboured breathing the only exception. There was no sign of the blasphemous inferno she had created, no sign of the zombie that had claimed and shattered her quivering heart. Her eyes were wet from the most potent nightmare she’d ever had. Her own unconscious meanderings had viciously betrayed her.

Clearing her sticky, restricted throat, she didn’t even bother to shelve the books that she’d been perusing before rushing from the library.

Her research had been futile, but she was too exhausted and mentally drained to feign disappointment. The corridors outside the library were deserted and the only sound that accompanied her was the sound of her feet smacking the floor violently.

She stared down at her shoes as she maintained her brisk pace, determined not to let anyone glimpse her tear stained cheeks. Finally, she reached the familiar blank wall that appeared n more than ordinary to the average passerby. When a person was in need however, it morphed into protection, a place of solitude and peace. Hermione needed it now more than ever. Before she entered the room, her children’s faces unexpectedly flashed into her memory.

“Hugo,” she said aloud. Her Hugo, her only son, still sleeping soundly in the Gryffindor common room. His light brown hair would be tousled, his blue eyes heavy and watery with sleep, his expression startled and surprised by his mother’s random appearance. She couldn’t wake him like that. Sighing deeply, desperate to see his face, she entered the room of requirement and was instantly greeted by the rumble of voices.

The room had been styled as the four houses of Hogwarts and appeared very much like the respective common rooms. A shared bathroom with a toilet and shower was tucked off to the side. There were twin sized beds for each person- three in Gryffindor for Hermione, James, and Albus, one in Ravenclaw for Rose, one in Hufflepuff for Lily and one in Slytherin for Scorpius. The beds were sectioned off by their house colours. Near the entrance to the room was a small common room with a fireplace and a few chairs and couches. There she found Rose and Scorpius huddled close together. Her fingers were interlaced with his, and her eyes we closed as he absentmindedly stroked the tender skin between her thumb and index finger.

Hermione felt like an intruder as she watched them spring apart at the sound of her entrance.

“Mum!” Rose squeaked.

“Hello,” she greeted mildly, ambling slowly toward the couple. Rose smoothed down her curly auburn hair while Scorpius moved an arm’s length away.

“Mrs Weasley,” Scorpius nodded politely as she joined them next to the fire.

“Please, call me Hermione.” The boy flushed, so different from the man his father had been at that age.

“Alright, then.”

“Mum, have you seen Hugo yet?”

“No,” she admitted unhappily, "but I do plan to see him in the morning. I have to say though, I've been wondering something. The two of you? When did that happen?”

This time it was Rose who blushed crimson, as though she suddenly just realized her secret relationship was now out in the open.

“Since... since 6th year.”

“Rose!” Hermione gasped dramatically, shocked by her daughter’s lengthy deception. Rose dropped her head, clinging to the arm of the sofa. Concern flashed across Scorpius' countenance before he turned to Hermione.

“Well... it’s getting late... I should probably sleep.” He started to rise from his seat.

“Sit,” Hermione firmly commanded.

“Mum, Dad would have killed me! You know he would! And when he died I just couldn’t... I couldn’t tell anyone.”

Hermione’s mouth formed a small o as she watched her daughter start to lose control of her emotions.

“Oh, Rose,” she sighed quietly. A horrid glimpse of the dream she'd had not thirty minutes ago flashed through her head, but she extinguished the thoughts as quickly as they'd come. Turning to Scorpius, she asked, “Does your father know?”

“No.”

“Well you should tell him, if...” she couldn’t bring herself to finish the sentence the way she’d intended. If he’s still alive.

“I will. We will. I love her. I would let nothing harmful in this world come near her. She literally means everything to me.” Scorpius reached across to squeeze Rose’s hand tightly, and she looked at him with stars in her eyes, as though the man sitting next to her could do no wrong.

“I know that, especially now,” Hermione replied firmly.

“You’re not mad?” Rose choked.

“Of course I’m not. You are old enough to decide who to love. And for the record, your father may have been angry at first, but he’d have gotten over it when he saw what a fine young man you have chosen.”

“Thanks Mum.” A broad smile swept across her full lips, and for only a moment, she looked like the little girl she'd been once, sitting quietly in a chair while her mother twisted her long, unruly locks into a French braid.

“I love you, Rosie. I hope you’ll tell me things in the future.”

“Of course I will. So... what is our plan of action then? Are we just going to hide here and never leave?”

Hermione bit her lip until she felt bite marks form painfully in the soft flesh.

“I don’t know. I intend to use this time to do some thinking. The most important thing is: we need to find a way to let all the survivors know that Hogwarts is still okay. I’m not sure how we’ll do that yet, but it’s going to be a necessity to keep people safe.”

Rose and Scorpius’ head bobbed in unison. The conversation fell silent then, and Hermione felt like an intruder into their world once more.

“I think I’m going to go to sleep then. I want to see Hugo as early as possible tomorrow. Don’t stay up too late, ok?”

“Ok, Mum,” Rose smiled. Hermione walked slowly to the beds in the Gryffindor section, feeling every second of her age. She took the last unoccupied bed, as Albus and James had already fallen asleep. Her eyes were heavy with thoughts of impending unconsciousness, and minutes after pulling the soft down comforter up to her chin, she was asleep.

***

Hermione rose early the next morning, feeling a lazy stupor deep in her joints upon standing. Looking around the room, she noted that the rest of the wayward travellers were still sound asleep in their beds. After showering and donning some freshly laundered clothing, she suddenly felt ravenous.

Hogwarts looked brilliant in the mornings, with sunlight pouring into the wide corridors. Hermione skirted along the wall as she dodged a gaggle of students, all dressed in school robes. As she neared the Great Hall, she could smell the delicious aroma wafting from behind the doors. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d eaten a proper meal. More than anything else, though, she was excited at the prospect of seeing her son, and she had no doubt that she’d find him at the head of the Gryffindor table, head boy badge pinned to his chest, stuffing his face with breakfast pastries and pumpkin juice.

As she reached the large wooden doors, she smiled and raised her hand to the brass handle when a low, rumbling sound interrupted her. Turning abruptly, she was instantly terrified at the thought of a breach of the perimeter. The doors to the entrance of the castle shuddered violently, as a creature on the outside attempted to gain entrance. Hermione noted the students gathering around her, and started to prepare for the threat the best way she knew how.

“Students, into the Great Hall. Close the doors behind you, hurry now!” Wide eyed with small, panic stricken faces, the children heeded her orders quickly and without complaint. No doubt they had been briefed on the dangers that lie outside the castle walls. The doors groaned once more, and Hermione clutched her wand with purpose. Creeping slowly toward the threat, she took a deep breath before deciding that dealing with the monster on the other side was the only way to keep everyone in the castle safe. Who better than her to exterminate the first crisis invading their safety. With an expert slice through the air, she opened the door and assumed a defensive stance.

A body smacked the floor with a loud boom, its limbs completely still. Hermione used her wand to turn the body over and gasped as realized who the victim was. Draco Malfoy’s glassy eyes stared straight up, unblinking. His skin was thin and white, his chin covered with thick stubble. Several bleeding lacerations decorated his translucent face and forearms, some of them quite deep. He was completely alone, his wand dangling loosely between his bloody fingers. Desperately, Hermione glanced around the corridor as a fresh crop of students descended the main staircase. Her voice didn't even sound like her own as she yelled.

“I need the hospital wing! Please, send for the healer! He’s dying!”



A/N: I just wanted to quickly say a few words of thanks. Of course, as per usual, thank you to AccioHPFF for swiftly beta-ing this chapter, britishifying it for me (because it was hopelessly American beforehand) and generally being awesome!

Also, to Weasleytwinmom (Momotwins on the archives) for making this KICK ASS chapter image! WHOOO!! It's so lovely, one of my favorites so far. Gurl, you a genius with graphics.

I'm pretty excited about the next chapter, as this was mostly filler but I feel like i needed to switch it up JUST a hair, if only for one chapter :) Catch y'all later!

Chapter 8: Apprehension
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Chapter 8: Apprehension
By: LovlyRita


Chapter Image by the incomparable Starryskies55




The crisp, mid-afternoon breeze presented a cruel, biting assault to her weathered face as Hermione perched herself next to the the placid waters of the Black Lake. She couldn’t hear the monotonous drone of the zombies looming outside the castle grounds, but with the exacerbated paranoia she was beginning to experience, their grisly faces might as well have been advancing toward her. Despite the fact that her eyes were heavy with exhaustion, she didn’t close them longer than to blink, because the risk was too real and omnipresent.

She still hadn’t had any contact with Hugo, but given his typical sleeping patterns, it was possible that he had slept until nearly noon. All classes had been cancelled until further notice, though the students were largely unaware of the circumstances behind the free holiday. He had always been safe at Hogwarts, that much was certain, but she could not truly rest until she saw his face.

In the last few days, it had seemed that no matter which way Hermione turned, horror, desperation and helplessness meticulously stalked her every movement. After Draco Malfoy tumbled dramatically into a bloody, unconscious heap on the virginal stones of Hogwarts’ entrance hall, Hermione had seen him to the infirmary and was promptly informed to depart the room. Since then, he had been quarantined and, as far as she was aware, was still unresponsive.

In addition to that debacle, there was a large faculty meeting taking place that she had not secured a formal invitation to. Though she had tried to argue her way into the secretive, restricted assembly by citing her firsthand experience and observations, it had been Neville that had stifled her request. He had been swift and uncharacteristically surly in his reply.

“Hermione. You haven’t slept well in days. You’re overextended, and you aren’t going to be any help to us right now. You cannot do everything. I promise that I’ll fill you in later today. Go and try to get some rest.” Hermione had been taken aback by his blunt assertiveness, and yet she respected it.

Instead of persisting to be involved in every aspect of strategic planning, she penned a letter to Hugo instructing him to meet her by the lake once he had eaten. She then checked in with Rose, who was comforting Scorpius as he awaited word about his father’s condition, before padding awkwardly through the throngs of curious students to the tucked away, silent solace the Black Lake provided her.

She tried to push the thoughts of zombies away, opting instead to imagine instances in her life that filled her with joy and happiness. She pictured the clear, gorgeous day on which she had pledged eternal matrimonial vows to her husband. Her hair had been swept up in perfect chestnut curls, and her timeless gown was folds of white satin and lace that spilled elegantly on the rose petal adorned aisle. Ron had been waiting at the altar, wearing charcoal dress robes and a handsome tie, so eager to begin the rest of their lives surrounded by those they loved.

Swirls of hazy reveries captured her, ensnaring her concentration as she absorbed the thin rays of spring sunshine. She thought of the day she had given birth to Rose, after 22 arduous hours of labour. Thoughts of Rose’s shiny, pink cheeks, the small tuft of blonde hair in the centre of her head that would eventually fill out and darken to auburn, and the loud consuming wail that issued from her slight frame warmed Hermione’s heart instantly. Hugo’s birth had been much shorter and less eventful, but still one of the most beautiful, treasured memories of her entire life.

Her children were truly the only force that sustained her.

She felt her vision blur as her eyelids drooped steadily downward, but she willed them not to close. Not out in the open, where anything could find her.

“Mum?”

His voice was a quiet symphony to her senses ,which had been long numbed by fear, exhaustion, and sorrow.

“Hugo!” She breathed as her heart leapt gleefully at the sight of him. He was there, tall and lanky, all limbs just like his father. A mop of unruly brown curls twisted down just to his eyes, which were as blue as the depths of the clearest ocean. His wide, toothy grin could not hide the trouble lining his dark countenance. Hermione had never been so thrilled to see her only son. She wrapped the 16 year old in a tight hug, noting that he now towered over her 5’6” frame.

“Are you ok, Mum? I don’t know what’s been going on, they won’t tell us much. When I went to floo to Uncle Harry’s funeral, I went down to Professor Longbottom’s office and he told me it was cancelled, but not why. And when I got the note from you I... I knew something really bad had happened. And Rose is here too, I saw her on my way down but she said I should just talk to you...”

She could hear deeply rooted panic bubbling in his voice. He had so many of his father’s physical features but he truly was her son. Where Rose had the trademark red hair and legendary Weasley temper, Hugo was more mild mannered, very intelligent and always searching for answers.

“Hugo, honey. I’m fine, Rose is fine, Albus, Lily and James are fine. There’s... there’s been a... a threat to our society. Several people who were, originally thought to be deceased... they are... well...not deceased. Not in that sense of the word anyway. They aren’t ghosts, they are more like... like...”

Hugo eyed his mother with intense scrutiny.

“Like zombies?” He asked incredulously.

“Yes, like zombies. The situation is dire. It’s like a horrible virus, and the zombies are multiplying so quickly we can’t...I had to find a safe place to bring everyone. Outside of Hogwart’s grounds is...a state of emergency.”

“Did you set them on fire and cut their limbs off?” Hugo asked, his tone deadly serious.

“I...well, yes, we did. We tried everything.” Hugo lowered his body to the grass and sat down, placing his chin in his hands.

“Well, there are tons of ways to kill zombies. Did you try to run them over with a muggle vehicle or hit them with blunt objects? That’ll work in a pinch.”

“Hugo, it’s not like we just had access to all of this. It’s..more complicated than you’re making it out to be.”

“Zombies are tricky, Mum.”

For the first time since the crisis had begun, Hermione had hardly anything to say. Her son had his eyes rolled backwards as he analyzed the situation.

“How...”

“You have to destroy their brain, Mum. Just like a human.” Hermione gaped stupidly at her son opening and closing her mouth like a water-starved fish.

“Why do you know this?”

“Huh? Oh, video games. Christian--you remember him? I spent some time at his house last summer? He’s a muggle born, we played video games on the Xbox X class limited.”

“You played... video games...?” she trailed off, her tone flat and lifeless.

“Best training there is for the zombie apocalypse. The most fun way to get them is the chain saws, but I like running them down too. You do know what video games are, don’t you Mum?”

“Yes I know what video games are!” she snapped. “I’m just... I’m glad you’re safe, Hugo.”

“Well of course I’m safe, I’m at Hogwarts,” Hugo replied matter-of-factly, as though a suggestion otherwise would be ludicrous.

The wind began to pick up ominously, and only then did Hermione notice the sun was obscured behind thick stratus clouds.


“Come on, Hugo. It looks like rain, and I want to catch up with your sister. Maybe we can have supper in the Great Hall together this evening.”

Hugo smirked. “I don’t know if Rose will be hungry, she was pretty busy eating Scorpius’ face before I came out here.”

Hugo! First of all, That is not funny given the circumstances--”

“--it was a little bit funny--”

--And secondly, did you know about the relationship between your sister and Scorpius?” Regardless of her annoyance at his inappropriate remark, she was morbidly curious about the extent of their relationship.

“Of course I did. She wasn’t shy about it at Hogwarts. She told me not to tell you, so I didn’t,” he replied nonchalantly. Indignation quickly stormed across Hermione’s face. “Am I in trouble?”

“No, you’re not... in trouble. Come on then, back to the castle. Hugo, I’m... I’m happy to see you.” She snaked an arm around his shoulders and pulled his rigid frame into her own, ruffling his hair.

“Come on, Mum!” He moaned irritably, readjusting his tousled locks. “I’ve got a look I’m going for!”

She smiled warmly at her youngest child. He had succeeded at drawing her mind away from the grave situations and sadness that had occupied her for so long.

“Seriously, Mum, no one else’s mum is here. Be chill.”

“Alright, Hugo, I’ll try to ‘be chill.’”

The two began the walk back to the castle as stray droplets of rain began to fall from the heavy clouds.

“Oh, Mum... everyone’s ok, right? Teddy, the rest of the cousins, Aunt Ginny, and Gran and Granddad?”

He stopped walking and regarded Hermione intently.

“Hugo, there’s a lot I don’t know yet. I haven’t... heard from many of them yet.”

“Many of them? Does that mean you’ve heard from some of them?”

Hermione felt instantly weary as she came to the realization that she would once again have to explain Ginny’s death.

“Aunt Ginny... she... she didn’t make it.”

Hugo dropped his head, his eyes fixed on the ground.

“Oh,” he replied sadly.

“We did everything we could, but she just...”

“Are Al, James and Lily ok?”

“They’re sad, honey. We all are. It’s not just our family, it’s everyone’s family. Many of your classmates, they don’t even know what’s going on outside the walls, let alone that their parents or siblings maybe dead. There’s just... there’s a lot of questions right now. I know that’s a lot to take in, but please don’t spread this around. We don’t want to create widespread panic. I thought you should know about your Aunt though, in case Lily or Al wants to talk about it.”

“Okay.” He began walking again, and Hermione did not press his feeling further. She knew that if he wanted to talk, he would, and her prodding would not help.

Several hours later, Hermione occupied a deserted corner in a long corridor outside Neville’s chambers, awaiting his arrival. She’d spent the rest of the day with her children, and hadn’t felt so relaxed since before Harry had died.

However, the curiosity of the secret meeting had gnawed on her subconscious all day. As soon as her children had retired for the evening, she made the quick trip to see her old friend. Every evening he had a shift of night duty in order to assure the security of the castle, and the job was now more pertinent and important than ever.

After 10 long minutes, she began to hear the faint echo of footsteps advancing toward her. Alert, she staggered her stance, a defensive habit she had developed over the last few days. The heavy footfalls drew closer, and the shadow from a glowing wand tip became more apparent in the otherwise consuming darkness. As the owner of the brightly illuminated wand turned the corner, a sharp yelp escaped his lips.

“Sssh! Neville, it’s just me.”

“Jesus, Hermione! You scared me!”

“Well, I... I haven’t had a chance to talk to you since this morning, and I thought--”

“--it’s fine. Just... come in.” He unlocked his door and Hermione traipsed behind him, feeling bad for startling him.

“Tea?” he asked distractedly, bumbling clumsily around his room.

“No, thank you. I stayed away like you asked; I spent the day with Rose and Hugo. It was a beautiful day. I think I needed it.”

“You did,” Neville interrupted, nearly dropping his kettle from the fire. Hermione’s sharp gaze met his.

“Well, regardless, I am calmer and more rested now and I’m most curious about Draco’s condition.”

Neville poured his tea and settled in beside his guest. She eyed him expectedly.

“Well, first of all, Draco is still unconscious but alive. He’s been bitten on his leg by a zombie.”

“My God,” Hermione whispered. “Will he... is he...”

“They’ve amputated his leg in order to stop the progression. Once he wakes up, we’ll go from there. Of course, if he shows any signs, he’ll be executed immediately.”

Hermione nodded absentmindedly, staring uncomfortably at her hands.

“Do we have a plan for a counter offensive attack against them?”

“We have a few options we’re looking at. They can’t be killed by normal magical means, according to your research and testimonials from others. Nothing that directly affects their biology, which means they are killed by fire, external forces, or blunt force trauma.”

“Neville. This is information I already know,” she lamented impatiently.

“I’m telling you what happened in the meeting. Just... please.”

“Sorry.” Hermione clasped her fingers together impatiently, somewhat put off my Neville's official attitude toward her. She figured it was most likely due to the stress of the situation, and the fact that, for all intents and purposes he was supposed to be privy to more information than her given that he was a part of the faculty.

“What we’re looking at right now is basically... think like a muggle.”

“Think... like a muggle?”

“Well, with the help of magic. Obviously, fire is our best option so far. It's a fallible plan, granted, but that's honestly the best we've come up with so far. We’re exploring the option of using fiendfyre.”

Hermione gasped.

“Fiendfyre? Neville, that’s dark magic. Plus, as stated in Dark Magic: An Advanced Guide to Protection, Fiendfyre preys on living creatures and hunts down its prey. If we use fiendfyre, not only will it destroy everything in its path and be virtually impossible to extinguish, it may not even target the zombies.”

“We’re just exploring the option, no decisions yet. Other options include equipping wizards with beater’s bats for protection, in case they lose their wands.”

“Beater’s bats? How are beater’s bats going to fend off an entire group of them? We need to educate the masses, Neville, whatever masses are left! We need to throw everything we have at them. What about an army, what about contacting people who are left?”

Neville pursed his lips slowly and took a deep breath.

“We’re currently sending out patronuses to all living wizards. We’re going to try to make a perimeter around Hogwarts where people can apparate safely. Headmaster Flitwick is in contact with some of the top Ministry leaders and we’re going to set up shop here. We’ve been able to locate some of the current Aurors, who have been dealing with looting and widespread vandalism while trying to protect themselves from the zombies. It’s complete anarchy outside these walls and we are going to reach as many people as we can.”

“When was the last time we got outside word?”

“A few hours ago. The estimated domestic zombie population is around 18,000---”

“--EIGHTEEN THOUSAND?”

“Yes. That still gives us quite an advantage. As far as I am aware, there have been no confirmed cases in other parts of the world. Given that our country is an island, they haven’t spread beyond our borders. However...many of the surrounding countries are reluctant to send aid.. One of the main concerns right now is the muggles. Obviously it has trickled into their population as well, and pretty soon it’s going to be broadcast worldwide.”

“Our whole community...” Hermione trailed off as she tried to grasp the enormity of the situation. “This is...this has the capacity to destroy the safety and anonymity of wizards everywhere.”

“It’s not come to that yet.”

“No, I know that it hasn’t come to that yet. We have to find a way to destroy this before it gets to that point. We have to eradicate these zombies, and we need to do it without help from anyone. It’s been several days, have the muggles sent out any transmissions, anything at all?”

“There have been several calls of distress. I believe the Muggle Prime Minister has declared the country in a state of emergency and the muggles have been completely taken aback. But, from what I have gathered, the surrounding countries are... they are not offering much aid. In fact, I believe that France, Ireland, Spain, and Germany have all individually declared Great Britain to be a quarantined war zone. They are refusing to send people in to evacuate those that are still healthy.”

“Then they condemn millions of people to certain death!” Hermione exclaimed loudly.

“The Ministry officials are working with the Muggle government at this time. They are appealing to as many people in the world that they can but... it doesn’t look good. People are absolutely terrified of this, as they should be. Hopefully they will see the error of their ways and come to our assistance.”

“So what’s our plan, then? Sit here and await our fate? Wait until Harry Potter the zombie comes to turn us all? Where is our army?”

As if on cue, there was a deafening strike at Neville’s door. Hermione jumped as Neville drew his wand. Roger Davies spilled into his room, seemingly out of breath.

“The first of our contacts is arriving. Auror Teddy Lupin and his wife Victoire have arrived, back from the mission they were sent on the day before last. So have several of the other Aurors, Greene, Brooks, and Schwartz.”

“Excellent news,” Hermione responded, drawing Davies’ eye toward her. Neville nodded curtly, closing his eyes slowly and sucking in a deep breath.

“Glad to see you’re about, Hermione. Missed you in the meeting today,” Roger frowned insincerely as he caught his breath. Hermione wrinkled her eyebrows disapprovingly but said nothing. “Hope you don’t mind, I’ve got some official Hogwarts business to discuss with Neville. Only a second. You understand.”

“Right,” Hermione replied coolly, standing up. “I’ll catch you in a bit, Neville, I’m just outside the room.”

“Okay, Hermione, this will only be a minute.”

She knew that it was perfectly within Davies’ rights to ask her to leave, but she’d never been more annoyed at his seemingly childish antics. As the door clicked shut behind her, she felt a cool breeze from the hallway and shivered. The information she’d just gained wasn’t all that shocking to her, yet had really unsettled her. Her heart beat a little easier with the information that Victoire and Teddy were both safe and in the castle. It would hopefully only be a matter of time before others began showing up too. The army was assembling.

Hermione knew that James would want to fight, and that Albus probably would too. She also knew that she would spend every ounce of energy she had trying to dissuade them from enlisting. As she devised a strategy in her head to discuss this with Albus, the door cracked open and Davies walked out, a smug look on his face.

“Have a nice evening, Hermione. We’ve got it all under control.”

“I’m sure you do,” she snarled, marching back into the room where Neville was pacing in front of his fire place.

“Neville, I--”

“--Draco’s awake. Let’s go.”



First and foremost I want thank everyone who nominated me for a Dobby award and voted for me. That means so incredibly much, you have no idea. I really appreciate it.

Secondly, I have a few people I have to thank. As always, my beta Acciohpff who, despite being an SLSA always reads my chapters and gives me good feedback.

And of course, the lovely girl who made my CI, Ms. Starryskies55, who is absolutely brilliant and I'm in total love with her creation! Check out her story, Honour Among Thieves, if you get a chance!

Finally, to Mihali1432 who is always excited for an update, even if he's already read the whole chapter.

I know this was a boring one, but the end had a lot of good info and you'll see a return to action next chapter I believe :) Thanks for reading, and please review!



Chapter 9: Escalation
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Chapter 9: Escalation
By: LovlyRita

Chapter image by Levana



The infirmary was dark, except for the long, spindly fingers of the waning crescent moon that crept through the aged windows and the erratic jump of flames atop several wax candles placed around the room. The last bed on the left held the only occupant. Next to the bedside was Scorpius Malfoy, his pale face devoid of emotion as he looked down at his father’s still form.

Hermione followed Neville up to the bed, noting the unmistakable rise and fall of Draco Malfoy’s chest. He was covered from the neck down by a thick woollen blanket, but her eyes were still drawn to the indentation where his right leg should have been. Draco’s eyes were open but vacant, seemingly locked on a random spot near the centre of the room. She glanced at Scorpius again, and noted quickly how very much he resembled his father. His stormy expression was cast down at the bed, with chunks of blonde hair plastered to his forehead in the exact same pattern as Draco’s.

“Scorpius. Are you ok?” Hermione asked, breaking the looming, suffocating silence.

“I’m fine,” he replied, not bothering to acknowledge her presence.

“How long has he been like this?”

“He opened his eyes and moved his head around a bit, so naturally we thought he was coming to. But instead he just…stopped moving again, and his eyes are focussed up at the ceiling and…he can’t hear me.”

Hermione felt a stab of compassion for the boy who loved her daughter, and she moved closer to him and put a hand on his shoulder. Neville stayed a comfortable distance away, his hands clasped in front of him.

“Draco?” Hermione whispered, her eyes darting around his body in case of any noticeable change. He did not stir. “Draco…Draco, wake up. Draco?”

It seemed as though Draco continued to confront the precipice between life and death with each passing breath. Hermione hesitantly moved her arm from her side to his forearm, resting it lightly on his warm, dry skin.

“Draco.”

He blinked. Scorpius gasped, and hope filled Hermione as she watched his fingers twitch listlessly. His unseeing eyes blinked a few times, and finally a rough, low growl issued from deep in his throat. He began mumbling incoherently, a series of moans, syllables and fragments. Finally, it seemed as though he had settled on a syncopated pattern of noise, and Hermione was able to make out a word.

“Story?” She asked as she listened intently to his rambles. His hands shook slightly, as though he was having a fit, and his skin quickly began to perspire.

“What’s happening?” Scorpius asked, anxiety and fear bleeding into his steady tone.

“Story…story…story…” Draco repeated several times. Hermione glanced to Neville and back to Draco. Their shadows danced eerily against the gray walls, and she began to doubt Draco’s lucidity. His breath came in frenzied gasps as he slurred.

“Scorpius, what could he be talking about?” Hermione asked more forcefully than she meant to, whipping her head to make eye contact with him. She grabbed his other arm as well, trying to hold him in place while his body convulsed in the sheets.

“I…I don’t know, I don’t know!”

“We should call for the Healer, for Madame Rhodes,” Neville suggested calmly.

The mild tremor that had been wracking his body stopped suddenly, and for a second, Hermione feared he was lost. Then, without warning, he grabbed Hermione’s arm tightly, causing a sharp pain in the area of the pressure, and his eyes widened, his pupils constricted despite the absence of the bright beams of light. He sucked in a tortured breath, as though he hadn’t felt the tickle of oxygen in his lungs for ages, and muscles in his body all contracted at once, rendering him as stiff as the stones of which the walls of Hogwarts were constructed.

“Draco!” Hermione exclaimed, trying to wrench her arm free without success.

ASTORIA!” He roared, his guttural scream filling the entirety of the infirmary. It reverberated off the walls, sending a chilling echo throughout the room. Hermione’s hair stood on end as she tried to pry his rigid fingers from her tender, aching flesh.

“Dad, Dad, it’s me, it’s Scorpius, you’re safe!” He tried to break in, tried to distract his father, but Draco was unresponsive. His steel gray eyes darted around without purpose, and his breath escaped in unrestrained gasps.

ASTORIA!” His cry was louder this time, intense agony filling his voice as it broke. “ASTORIA!

“He still thinks he’s being attacked,” Neville observed, grabbing his wand and holding it over Draco, who was beginning to convulse more violently than before. Blood began to seep out of the lacerations where Draco’s fingernails were lodged in Hermione’s skin. Her eyes watered in pain but she ignored it.

“Neville, you have to stun him, you have to put him back to sleep.”

ASTORIA!” His cries penetrated Hermione’s defences, she wanted to help him, to take away his terror, if only to stifle her own. He screamed her name again, enunciating every single syllable, his voice cracking as he sputtered and choked on his saliva. He began to wretch as thin, white foam began to leak from the corners of his mouth.

“Neville! He’s choking! Do something!” Hermione screamed. Scorpius had tears in his eyes as he called out to his father.

“Dad, please, you have to wake up, you have to calm down, it’s Scorpius, Dad, please!”

Suddenly he fell backward onto his pillow, and his grip loosened on Hermione’s arm. Gasping, she broke free and immediately opened Draco’s mouth, which had fallen slack from Neville’s sleeping charm. After concluding that his airway was clear and he was able to breathe normally, she turned to Scorpius and wrapped him into a hug as he began to cry into her shoulder.

“Scorpius, listen to me, it’s going to be ok. That was probably a reaction to the stress his body has been under. We probably forced him awake too soon.”

“You don’t know that!” Scorpius exclaimed, his voice fragile and child-like. “They had to amputate his leg because he might have been bitten. My mother is probably already dead or a zombie or something awful. It’s going to take my Dad too.”

“We are doing everything that we can to prevent that from happening. You just have to give it some time.”

“He’s fine. He’s breathing normally, he seems to be back in a deep sleep,” Neville reported solemnly. “Scorpius, I know that the healers are doing everything they can to keep him with us. Tonight just was not the night. You never know, he could be better tomorrow.” Scorpius nodded as Hermione released him. Her arm throbbed painfully as a shower of crimson droplets trailed down her finger tips and on to the floor.

“I need to get this healed. Neville, can you wake Madame Rhodes? Scorpius, you should be off to bed, I am sure that Rose wants to see you after this long day, yeah?”

She smiled at him, but his face was a glum reminder of the tragedy that had befallen their community. He seemed much more like a ten year old then, and less like the man he had grown into.

“Thank you, Hermione. Thank you for your help.”

“You’re welcome. I’ll be up to join you in a bit.”

Once he was gone and she was alone in the room, she took a seat next to Draco’s bed to wait for the arrival of the healer. Her own anxieties had calmed, and she closed her eyes as exhaustion stormed its way through her body. She heard the footsteps then, as Neville re-emerged and informed her that Madame Rhodes would be in shortly.

“Neville, what the hell was that?” She glanced back at Draco once more, just to assure that he was still asleep.

“I have no idea. It was almost like an altered state of consciousness, perhaps a hallucination of some sort. This really isn’t my area, unfortunately.”

“I know, I just… that was frightening. And for Scorpius, to see his father like that...” Hermione sighed and briefly closed her eyes, grateful for the pitch black oasis that greeted her. She heard Neville take a seat beside her.

“Hermione, I’m sorry I’ve been short with you, during our discussion earlier and just now. I don’t mean to be, I know you are just as stressed as I am.”

“This has been hard on all of us. And let’s be honest, I am just used to knowing information very quickly, to be on the research and development side of things. Waiting for information is excruciating for me, but it’s not your fault that you have to do your job. Part of me is just sitting here thinking… How did it all end up like this? I miss the days when… When everyone was so full of life, the summers where our kids would play together, and all of us adults would sit back, happy for a short reprieve. What happened to those days?” Her eyes felt so heavy that it was a tedious chore just to reopen them slightly.

“We had it pretty good. Harry and Ron, the two of them always cutting up or doing something to make everyone smile. Ginny cooking—“

“—she could cook just as well as Molly herself. She had a gift,” Hermione laughed, thinking of the ginger haired beauty, spatula in hand, shooing Albus and Hugo out of the kitchen while the rest of the kids played Quidditch outside. “I really was a shit cook compared to her, Rose always said so.”

“Well, I wasn’t going to say anything...” Neville laughed, deftly dodging a punch from Hermione.

“Go on, laugh. Ron never said anything, but I know he didn’t care for it. He always ate three portions worth of food whenever we had dinner at Harry and Ginny’s. I knew all along he didn’t like my cooking, but after every single meal I made, he always said to me ‘darling, that was delicious.’ It always made me feel good about myself, despite the fact that I knew it was awful.”

Hermione felt her throat constrict as the warm, sweet memory bubbled to the forefront of her mind. Neville nodded and patted her hand as Madame Rhodes, the healer who had replaced Madame Pomfrey some years ago, hurried in through the doors.

“Where’s Hannah? Isn’t she here?” Hermione asked suddenly. Neville nodded, rising so that the healer could have a place to examine her patient.

“She’s here, in one of the spare rooms. She’s in charge of setting up the castle as a place for refugees, and has been tottering around the castle all day. I think she retired early though, you’ll probably see her at the large meeting tomorrow. Which I haven’t told you about yet, right, because of this whole mess with Draco. Now that the Aurors have returned, there’s going to be a meeting tomorrow, to discuss taking up arms against the zombies. And… Davies did tell me one other thing while he was in the room.”

“Sorry to interrupt, but what happened?” Hermione’s eye flicked to Madame Rhodes, who was regarding her with all the concern of a grandmother.

Madame Rhodes was in her late sixties, a plump woman with mounds of tight, gray, ringlet curls. Her pale green eyes swept up Hermione’s arm and then glanced over at Draco’s resting form.

“Draco awakened suddenly. He started screaming his wife’s name, and his whole body went rigid. He grabbed hold of my arm in the process, causing these wounds. It appeared to be some sort of hallucination or vision. He was not fully conscious but did foam a bit at the mouth, causing him to choke. Neville put a sleeping charm on him to send him back to sleep, and we made sure his trachea was clear, to allow for proper breathing,” Hermione recounted in case documentation of the matter would need to be made.

“It’s most likely a reaction due to the trauma his body has incurred, though it could also have something to do with the poison in his body. It is too soon to tell if the affliction will spread to his central nervous system, which will render his mental faculties useless. We had hoped earlier in the day that he would recover fully, and had some positive signs. His blood pressure stabilized to 109/72 after originally yo-yoing back and forth and his body temperature settled at 37C after spiking to 38.5C. I recorded a respiratory rate around 14 breaths per minute while his heart rate held steady at 74 BPM. After we removed the damaged tissue, we healed the incision, and now we are looking at options to regrow the tibia and fibula in his lower leg.”

Hermione nodded during Madame Rhodes list of vital statistics and cringed as the warm, prickly sensation of healing magic trailed up her arm.

“So you’re going to try and regrow the bones, then? What about the skin tissue, the muscles, the nerves?”

“There have been several documented cases of wizards with amputations before, especially in the elderly. While their bodies are usually too frail to deal with the intense pain and metamorphosis that comes with regrowing a limb, we believe that Draco might have a better shot at it, given his age. While it’s true that he will never be able to use his leg like he could before, it is possible that he could walk again with an assistive device such as a cane.”

Within seconds, the spell was finished and Hermione’s forearm was once again in pristine condition. She thanked the woman for her help and then turned back to Neville.

“You were saying?” She asked, running her fingers over the smooth, flawless patch of skin that had been mangled not minutes earlier. Neville nodded and waited for Madame Rhodes to finish her quick assessment of Draco before turning in for the night.

“This is not going to be easy to hear. But it’s something that we are going to have to face, knowing that it could get much, much worse.”

“Just spit it out, Neville,” Hermione sighed impatiently.

“Remember when I told you that Harry in particular seems to have the gift of raising the dead?” A chill ran down the length of Hermione’s spine.

“Yes. What has he done?”

“Davies spoke to Teddy Lupin. Before you got here, we sent them out on a mission to fly over the zombies, collecting as much information as we could about their habits, their killing style, whatever they could come by. The Zombies do indeed become dormant during the day, which is a great advantage for us. The only exception to that rule is those that have been resurrected. They are impervious to the daylight, and they are much more dangerous. And Hermione…”

Neville seemed to choke on his words. He was visibly uncomfortable, and it sent Hermione’s heart speeding away from hope.

“What, Neville?”

“Teddy said that outside the town of Hogsmeade, he saw a tall zombie that…had a long white beard…half-moon spectacles…eyes as red as hell itself…”

Hermione clapped a hand to her mouth, suddenly feeling faint. Her arms felt rubbery and useless, her head swimming in horror and dread.

“Dumbledore…” she trailed off, understanding immediately the horrifying, delicate nature of the situation.

“As soon as he saw that, he flew to the island of Dumbledore’s tomb. It was cracked…and empty. Apparently, the zombies that have resurrected are not afraid of water. Those that are turned whilst living avoid it, but the others will walk through it without thought.”

“You said Dumbledore’s tomb was empty. Completely empty?” She prayed it wasn’t true, hoped that it couldn’t be.

“It was empty,” Neville admitted.

“The elder wand,” she whispered. “No, Neville… no…”

“Even if the zombie who created him, which is believed to be Harry, has it, there’s no telling that he could even use it. He’s dead, remember.”

“But he’s the master of the elder wand! And there’s some part of him that is living, just not his brain! Neville, this is catastrophic. Harry put the wand back there because he wanted no one to find it, to use it for evil again. And now this creature that he has become very possibly could control the most powerful wand in the world. And there isn’t even a damned book I can use to research this, it is unprecedented.” Exasperation crept into her voice. Books had always been her crutch, even in the days when she was fighting alongside Harry and Ron against Voldemort. But now, not only was her world shifting into untold nightmares, but she couldn’t even lean on the trusty guidance of books to see her through it.

Despite the grim news, Neville looked mildly amused.

“We’ll get through this together. As a family.”

Hermione nodded and tried to smile despite the fact that her carefully crafted façade was beginning to crack down the centre with this new information.

“You’re right. Let’s turn in for the night, it’s late and I want to make sure that Scorpius is ok.” She smiled and Neville nodded, following her lead out of the infirmary.

***

“Everyone please quiet down so we can start the meeting. My name is Teddy Lupin, I have been heading a research team of Aurors for the past day to better understand the threat that we are facing. To my right is Headmaster Flitwick of Hogwarts, to my left is Minister of Magic Percy Weasley. This is going to be a quick briefing about the state of the country, and then we will get into our general plan.”

It was midday, and everyone in the castle was crowded into the Great Hall, students and refugees alike, to listen to the words of the Aurors and the Minister. Along with the arrival of several more Aurors, around thirty witches and wizards from the nearby areas had been collected and brought to safety. Hermione hadn’t had a chance to see if any among them were family.

She was standing on the left side of the room, with Hugo and Lily crowded in beside her. The large number of people stuffed into the normally spacious hall made the general atmosphere seem hot and sticky, and she could not help but feel slightly claustrophobic. Pushing the awkward, uncomfortable stems of panic aside, she listened intently as handsome Teddy Lupin, with his father’s big eyes and his mother’s easy smile, began the briefing.

“First, I would like to introduce Headmaster Flitwick, who has a message for the students.” The headmaster was very advanced in his age, but he still had a powerful presence that commanded undivided attention. He cleared his throat and gazed pointedly at the students, who were organized by house.

“Students, we have suspended all classes until further notice. Despite this, we are enforcing a strict curfew for all students under the age of sixteen in this building. You are to be in your common rooms promptly after dinner ends at seven PM. This has never been more important. Those of you who are over sixteen, please listen closely to the presentation. Those of you who are guests here are welcome to our castle and our provisions, but please be advised that there are young students that are here, so mind your behaviour and your language. No one is allowed outside the walls of the castle. This includes going outside for any reason at all. The entrances to the castle will be blocked and guarded at all times. Please understand how dire this situation is. We want to keep everyone here as safe as possible.”

Even though his words were painfully serious, Hermione couldn’t help but notice that Headmaster Flitwick’s voice still had the musical quality to it that had always made his classes such a joy to attend. She felt a quick pang in her heart for the past as he vacated the centre of the stage, and Percy Weasley took his place.

Now in his late forties, Percy Weasley looked a far cry from the curly headed pain in the ass he’d been at Hogwarts. Deep lines were etched under his eyes, and it appeared as though he hadn’t slept in days. Hermione surveyed the crowd quickly, searching for her nieces Molly and Lucy. Lucy was a year below Hugo, in Gryffindor, and Hermione spotted her easily. Molly, however, was Rose’s age, and she was nowhere to be found. Nor was their mother, Audrey, who had been happily married to Percy for years. It felt as though a large bony hand had clasped itself around her stomach. What of her other nieces and nephews? Hermione had become slightly distant from the extended family since Ron had passed, but all the different factions of the Weasley family were so busy with their own lives, it wasn’t uncommon for them to only unite during the holidays or summer months.

She knew it was too early to give up hope entirely, but she couldn’t help but drown out part of Percy’s speech while she searched the crowd for familiar faces. There was Victoire, standing next to her husband, her face gaunt and translucent. Of Bill and Fleur’s other two children, Louis was standing in his Ravenclaw robes across the room, but Dominique was absent, as were her parents.

Lorcan and Lysander Scamander, Luna and Rolf Scamander’s children, were standing next to Louis in their seventh year Ravenclaw robes. Their parents were also noticeably absent. Hermione’s heart leapt suddenly as she made eye contact with George Weasley and nodded in his direction. He returned the grim gesture, pulling his wife Angelina closer. Roxanne and Fred, their children, were both accounted for, standing next to them. Molly, Arthur, and Charlie Weasley were all conspicuously missing.

“—All of us have lost someone. Parents, children, aunts, uncles. Many of your relatives could still be alive, and we are going to pull together and make sure that we rescue as many people as we can. These zombies outside, they are relentless and they will hunt down anyone that tries to challenge them. While fighting them with brute strength and numbers is our most plausible option right now, we also need to brainstorm some concepts in order to try and come up with creative ways to fight them. My job is to keep the order and collaborate with the muggle government to come up with an effective offensive strategy against them, while also dealing with foreign governments to try and obtain aid and assistance. I will now be turning the floor over to Teddy Lupin, who is going to discuss some of the tactics that have already been devised.”

There were some quiet mumbles throughout the audience, and Hermione felt Hugo move a little closer to her. She put her arm around her son, filling her lungs up with his slightly spicy scent. In another lifetime she might have told him to go a little easy on the cologne, but instead she pulled him close, and he did not object.

“Those under the age of sixteen are now asked to return to your dormitories with your prefects and stay there until dinner.” There was some mild protesting, but most of the younger children looked relieved to be dismissed from the heavy subject matter. Hermione wanted to push Hugo and Lily out the door, but they were both of age, and there was nothing she could do to stop them. Once the hall cleared out, Hermione felt some of her tension melt away as she gained more room to move freely.

Pointing his wand at his throat, Teddy Lupin cast a sonorous charm, and addressed the remainder of the crowd.

“Like Minister Weasley stated, these creatures cannot be killed by normal magical means. Throwing an unforgivable at them will not even cause them to trip. Despite the horror and fear they inspire, they are most easily killed with fire. They can also be killed with blunt trauma, which often comes from a variety of muggle means. We are tasked with coming up with creative ways to use magic to ward them off.

“There are two separate types of these zombies. They can be turned straight from a living person, or they can be resurrected and appear much like inferi. The first group is easily overcome and is the easiest to kill. Those that have been resurrected from persons already deceased formally were witches or wizards in life, and are usually turned specifically by the ringleader of them all, or the alpha zombie as we have been referring to it as. These zombies are amazingly resilient but can be overcome. They also have powers that the others do not. Looking straight into their eyes renders the victim completely unable to move. This allows them to turn people more easily and without a fight. It is important to never look in their eyes whilst fighting them.

“Despite their histories as witches or wizards, none of the zombies appear to exhibit magical powers or any type of rational, active thought. They do not have any control over their higher brain centres and appear only to use their brains to execute gross movements and motor functions. They do not breathe, they do not think. They are completely consumed with turning humans into walking wastelands. The one exception to this may be the alpha zombie. We are aware that he has possession of a wand, but we have not yet located him.”

Hermione felt a burning sensation throughout her limbs as her panic began to build. She tried to ignore it, to lock up the expansive feelings of guilt and sorrow in some remote part of her brain and never remember them again, but the sensation of complete and catastrophic failure overwhelmed her. She felt her eyes water as she tried to concentrate on taking slow, steady breaths, but still the weight of it all, despite what Neville had told her a few days ago, was too much to bear.

“Mum, are you ok?” Hugo was staring down at her, concern thick in his deep voice.

“I’m fine, Hugo. I’m just fine,” she replied steadily, willing the emotion out of her voice. She tried to focus on Teddy’s presentation again, anything to take her mind off her thoughts.

“Those of you that are sixteen or older are allowed to volunteer to help. We are making important connections with the muggle government right now to get the military involved, and possibly collaborate with them. Right now, our plan revolves around strikes during the day. While they do not openly seek victims at that time, they will fight back when provoked, and can be more dangerous in that capacity. Our mission right now is to eliminate as many of them as possible. One strategy that has proven effective so far, but which has only tested a few times, is using a group of wizards on brooms to bait the zombies into a large circle, where they can then be set on fire. While this is effective, we need to focus on strategies to kill large numbers of them at one time.

“What we need at this time are people. We need volunteers to help us to contain and eliminate this threat. Know that it is not without danger and there will be no heroes. It isn’t just our country that’s under attack, but it’s everything that we hold dear. Once we get a group together, not only will we be setting out to kill these zombies, but we’ll be searching for survivors: muggles and wizards alike. We need adept fliers, we need an air team, a land team, those skilled with a wand, anyone that knows how to work muggle weapons. If you wish to help out with this effort and any reconnaissance missions we do, we need you to place your magical signature on the parchment here at the front of the room.”

Hermione glanced quickly to the right and saw Albus leaning forward as he drank Teddy’s every word. His expression was a mix of fiery intensity and anticipation. She feared for her nephew and wanted to keep him at the castle, just to protect him from his own stupidity. As Teddy finished his speech and a line began to form, Hermione broke free from Hugo and jogged over to Albus, who was moving forward to sign up.

“Albus, wait!” She cried, catching his attention. Albus pushed his dark hair out of his eyes and crossed his arms, as though he knew exactly what she was about to say. “Doing this is not going to bring your parents back.”

“I know that,” he spat indignantly. “But I have to do something. I can’t just sit here at the castle and wait, hoping that someone is going to do a job that I know that I can do better! Besides that, as I’ve told you before, I am older than my father was when he conquered Voldemort. I am not letting some sixteen year old kid jump in front of me to do this, Aunt Hermione, and you can’t stop me.” His voice was so cold and firm that it slashed through Hermione’s resolve.

“Albus, if you would just listen to me—”

“—you are not my mother!” He yelled so loudly that several people in the room turned. Hermione flushed as his words penetrated her, provoking the already raw nerves that were twisted with guilt. “My mother is dead.” His voice was suddenly softer, cloaked with extreme sorrow and pain. “I love you, Aunt Hermione, I do. But this is my destiny. This is what I have to do. I won’t be able to live with myself if I don’t.”

“I know. I know, Al. I was just… I was just going to tell you that your father would be proud of you. And please, just… please be careful. I love you, and I know you’ll use your best judgement when you are out there.” She couldn’t bring herself to say what she truly wanted to, because telling Albus not to be the hero would not be beneficial at this stage. He simply nodded and, without another word, turned to rejoin the line.

Deciding that she should go and speak with George, she turned to walk away when she saw him in line. George, Angelina, Roxanne and Fred, followed by Rose, Scorpius, and Hugo. Her baby Hugo, signing his life away to fight against a foe that she had created, an evil that she had unleashed. All she could think of was the lives she had ruined, the horrors that these brave volunteers would meet. She had caused this, and they would suffer, possibly even die, because of her actions. All of it, all because of her greed and stupidity. She had always been the smartest witch of her age but now she felt bitterly stupid. The zombies; Harry, Ginny, Ron, all dead. Everything was unraveling, everything was ruined because of her.

“Mum?” Hugo asked, as all pairs of eyes in the line focused on her swimming with concern.

“This is all my fault,” was all she could manage to choke out, before running out of the room and to a hiding place where no one could find her.


A/N: Well of course I have so many people to thank for this. First of all, to Levana who made my fabulous chapter image. And as per usual, to accioHPFF my great beta who helped me a lot with this chapter. And to Giola who helped me out in a tough spot as well.

Next chapter I think we're going to see a return to the action, so thank you to all those who have stuck around and are reviewing, especially all the kind reviews I got during the christmas review exchange. You guys are all amazing

Chapter 10: Preparations
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Chapter 10: Preparations
By: LovlyRita


Beautiful chapter image by TenthWeasleyWriter!





“Mum! Mum, please let me in!”

“Aunt Hermione!”

She sat on a slightly unstable, wooden desk in an abandoned classroom, her eyes cast downward at the thick blanket of dust covering the floor. The small group that had gathered on her behalf was knocking wildly on the door, begging for entry, but she ignored their pleas. She had to be alone, to fester in the infection of her guilt. There was no other way to truly confront the horrors of her decision to raise Harry from the dead. What had she been thinking?

What had happened to Hermione Granger Weasley? She once had been the extremely clever girl who, armed with knowledge and a few choice texts, could take on anyone or anything. Was she the same woman who helped put an end to house elf suffering, and who had worked with Kingsley Shacklebolt to help eliminate laws favouring purebloods? Would she ever again find the young mother who snuggled her children at night and felt safest in the arms of her husband, but who could argue her way out of most situations with logic and sheer tenacity?

She was broken, bent over with tears dirtying her sunken cheeks. Alone, without Ron, she was completely useless against an unpredictable foe and pathetic in her attempts to justify her original actions. A dangerously thin shadow of her former self, Hermione’s emotions were always tinged with crippling guilt and anxiety, and she found it easier to sit in a forgotten classroom alone rather than confront her children, who would almost certainly die because of her actions.

Suddenly the loud, pleading voices disappeared, and she finally felt safe enough to let out a small sob. Her breath punched through the air quickly, almost like the sound of the Hogwarts express barrelling down the tracks. She had sworn to herself that she’d never lose it like this again, like she had the night after Ron had died. But still it consumed her, and she succumbed to it only because she felt like there was nothing else left for her to do.

As she continued to decompose into panic and pain, she did not hear the sound of the door unlocking. Not until Headmaster Flitwick stood before her did she realize that she was no longer alone, and she quickly wiped her eyes and attempted to regain some semblance of composure.

“H-headmaster F-Flitwick I’m s-s-sorry,” she stuttered, finding her hands useless against the slick sheen on her cheeks.

“Hermione Granger.” His voice was thin but still had the unmistakable singing quality of the man that had taught her so many years before. “It’s been several years since you and I have been able to talk.”

She nodded. The headmaster looked up at her and smiled through the ancient folds of his face. He was garbed in simple royal blue robes, much unlike the fancy, embroidered sets Professor Dumbledore often donned. Despite her grief and emotional turmoil, she still had great respect for the man who had taught her to be confident in her charm casting ability.

“I’ve been headmaster here a few years, since Headmistress McGonagall passed, which I’m sure you know. She was a great friend of mine, and I try to emulate her and Headmaster Dumbledore through all that I do. I know that you were close with Minerva.”

Hermione nodded like a first year student, drinking in his words. She felt equally repulsed by and grateful for his company. Her thoughts were a tangle of desolation and intrigue. Swallowing the darkness of her mind, she turned her full attention to the Headmaster.

“They were both wonderful leaders of this school, and now I have the pleasure of having their portraits hanging in my office. Although Albus does sleep quite a bit. I envy him. But no matter, I did not come here to discuss how much he snores, because it is quite a bit and I sometimes have difficulty concentrating.”

A small, polite laugh erupted from her, and she was instantly ashamed. Still she could not find the words to speak to him.

“The situation that our country is currently facing is one of the worst threats we’ve seen. Teddy Lupin tells me that we’re going to have to present a united front, some sort of staggered attack in the coming days. I, of course, nodded and smiled at him, and promised him whatever resources I could give him. But an old man like me has no place flying around on a broom stick, leading counter offensive attacks. That’s something the young adults ought to be doing. I am an educator, and this school will always be my number one concern.”

“Of course.” Her voice cracked.

“You know, Hermione, it always puzzled me why you didn’t end up in my house. Of course, I am grateful that you didn’t, because you might not have become such dear friends with Potter and Weasley. And far be it from me to question the Sorting Hat. But you are one of the smartest witches to have ever walked these corridors, and it goes without saying that I was always bitterly jealous of Minerva during those times.”

This time, her smile was genuine.

“I know a thing or two about magic. But did you know I also know a few things about history as well? This very well may be shocking for you, why I chose to teach Charms over History of Magic, but do you know that old Professor Binns would have shown up to class regardless, and sat right on top of me while we both tried to teach! I’m not very tall, but using the argument that he could not see me was offensive. I’m glad I ended up with Charms, much more interesting in the long run.”

Hermione recognised his attempts to cheer her up, but did not feel patronised. She had always been very fond of Professor Flitwick at school.

“But because I know a little about history, there are some things that I can tell you, Hermione. It is magically impossible to raise the dead. The only way this has ever been achieved is through the magical artifact known as the resurrection stone, which was lost at the end of the wizarding war and never recovered. You know the story?”

“Of course I do, I was the one that told Harry and Ron about it when I realized we were dealing with the Deathly Hallows during the war,” Hermione replied, a little more impatiently than she had intended.

“I know. And yet, when you saw Harry lying there on the table, and you saw the pain that your friend Ginny and her family were going through, mixed with your own sorrow, you tried to bring him back to life.”

Her stomach knotted painfully as a fresh wave of tears threatened to fall.

“I…I wasn’t thinking, I thought…I just thought…”

“It is easy to let our emotions drive our actions. It happens to the best of us, the smartest of us. Even you. Those who normally have kept a level head, when confronted with deeply personal pain and loss... it happens. You are not the first person who has tried to raise the dead, nor will you be the last. You did not want this to happen, you did not try to make this happen, and you are not responsible for this happening.”

“How?!” Her emotions betrayed her again as a tear escaped. “I said the words, I performed the magic.”

“Yes, you did. You performed harmless magic on a corpse. But you did not pull those chemicals off the shelf. You did not knowingly mix them. As Professor Longbottom has told you, those potions that you brought in, that was very powerful dark magic left over from Voldemort’s reign. They were extremely volatile; there was nothing that could have been done. The alternative to this was that someone walked by and bumped them by accident, which would have unleashed the terror into the world. The spell you performed did not do this. It was the potions, Hermione. It was an accident.”

The rock in her stomach began to slowly dissolve.

“I’m sorry, I am so sorry.”

“Don’t apologise, dear girl. You don’t have to apologise to anyone. You need to talk to Teddy Lupin and tell him everything you know. From there, you should decide which front you want to fight on. You can stay here at Hogwarts if you like. We have a board that will be discussing important strategies while looking after the children that remain here as well as caring for any of those individuals that are brought back as refugees. Or you can go out with the team and fight on that front. But whichever decision you choose, it will be the right one for you.”

“Oh, I’m not staying here. Even if my children weren’t volunteering to be the first in line, I have to be able to see what’s going on. I have to stop this.”

Flitwick peered at her through half opened eyes, the smile returned to his face.

“I suppose that would be the reason you weren’t a Ravenclaw. Ah well, it was your loss, Miss Granger.” With a wink, he vacated the room, leaving Hermione with a renewed since of confidence and a sudden desire to go talk to her nephew-in-law.

***
Teddy Lupin sat in a large oak chair opposite Hermione, attentively listening as she recounted the harrowing days that led up to their arrival at Hogwarts. Her tone was steady and without emotion as she spoke, and when she had finished her tale, he leaned back in the chair and interlaced his fingers across his chest. She had requested the private meeting nearly an hour before, and now she was exhausted both physically and mentally.

“That’s everything?” His voice was gravelly and rough, as though he had been talking the entire day.

“Yes,” she said quietly, before taking a deep, steadying breath.

Nodding, he rubbed his eyes and managed a wan smile.

“Thank you for telling me this, Hermione. It’s information that we can definitely use. I did know parts of the story from Neville and such, but hearing your first-hand account will be beneficial to us. ”

She searched his dark brown eyes for validation, praying that what she had divulged to him had not destroyed her reputation in any way. She remembered Teddy Lupin as a young boy who had spent weekends besides her own children. So vivacious, despite the tragedy that befell him before he was old enough to walk, he had grown into a well behaved teenager and demonstrated himself to be a remarkable metamorphagus, just like his mother. The heavy, dark shadow of the past hung between them, obscuring the true lines of reality into a muddy, complicated mess.

“So, what’s your plan?” Hermione broke the uncomfortable silence, still unsettled by his lack of warmth toward her.

“We’ll have to go out in two teams. One of them will be tasked with massive destruction of as many zombies as possible. The other team is a search and rescue for anyone that might still be alive and fighting. I know there are some people out there, and this zombie epidemic, or whatever you want to call it, can’t have reached all corners of Britain yet. We’ll have a couple people with us to set up refugee camps away from Hogwarts, hopefully with the same protective spells Hogwarts employs.”

“That’s actually a great idea. In my experience, as I’ve said, the zombies don’t react to magic, they can’t be killed by magical means. But I find it very interesting that they can’t penetrate our defences here. I don’t know if I’ll ever fully understand all the enchantments that protect this castle, but I hope that we can create other areas for a safe haven. I assume you’ll be saving muggles and wizards alike?”

“That’s the plan. Of course, Hogwarts is for wizards only, again due to the enchantments, so our satellite camps are going to be well armed with enchantments and muggle weapons. The one thing I really want to avoid is martial law developing. People need to understand clearly who their leaders are. And we need to find a safe place for all the government officials. We’ve lost the Minister so we have Percy, but to my greatest knowledge the muggle Prime Minister and the royal family are still alive and safe in London. I’ll send someone soon to assure their safety. One of the King’s sons is out of the country, doing some sort of work in India. Besides them, there are people all over the country that need help. As soon as I leave here, I’m going to go to London and explain what is happening to the Prime Minister, because we’re going to have to work together with muggle forces, and they’re going to need to understand what to expect from us.”

He paused then, and Hermione noted how very tired he looked. The last couple of days had aged him tremendously. Pushing long strands of chocolate hair from his eyes, he took a deep breath before continuing.

“You mentioned that Harry had some type of special powers that maybe the other zombies don’t. That he seemed to be seeking out his family members and raising those who he knew. Is there some…way that he might have retained some sort of cognisant awareness?”

It was Hermione’s turn to sigh.

“I don’t know. If he had some functioning thought process, surely he wouldn’t seek out his own family members? I don’t know if there is something else at work here…”

“I think Harry can disapparate.”

It was a simple statement that seemed so utterly absurd, yet was the only possible explanation.

“That is it!” Hermione startled herself as she spoke, the high pitched, agitated tones of her voice bouncing off the walls of the room. “He can disapparate. That’s why he’s going after his family members, why he went after Dumbledore. It’s also the reason that we have zombies all the way in Scotland, when the trouble started in London. Maybe he was dead, but whatever the hell it was that mixed in that room, combined with my magic... It must have reanimated something in him. Enough to harness raw magical energy but not return all mental faculties. And it would make sense that he is the only one that can do it, because none of the other zombies would have the same combination of magic. It makes him harder to kill because his position is always unpredictable.”

Hermione was suddenly extremely annoyed with herself for not coming to that conclusion sooner. It seemed so easy, so black and white. Of course he could disapparate. Teddy didn’t seem to share her enthusiasm, but he nodded slowly as her epiphany blossomed.

“So how do we kill him? How can we track him?”

“I don’t know yet. But I agree with your strategy to get the muggle military and police forces on board. They can help with the search and rescue for muggles and then we can focus on wizards and witches. Can you answer a question for me, though? Of the two teams, which one is more dangerous, in your opinion? The search and rescue squad or the destroyers?”

“I’d say probably search and rescue. Some of the people out there might not just be stranded, they could be actively engaged in battle with the zombies, and the team would have to fight. Those that are destroying the zombies theoretically could stay mounted on their broom the whole time and just fly. It depends on the situation.”

Nodding, Hermione briefly closed her eyes, embracing the darkness she found there. The long golden fingers of the lazy sunset stretched across the room, further illuminating the exhaustion in Teddy’s features. The collar of his white button up shirt was drenched in sweat, and his discomfort with the situation made him appear more like his father. Hermione could see Remus Lupin in every expression of Teddy’s face, at the edge of every word he muttered. And she had no problems reading the disappointment in his face as she recounted her story earlier.

“You don’t think less of me, do you?” She asked.

The question put her on edge, but she fought back any urge to return to the mess she had been earlier in the day. Suddenly she cared deeply about what he thought of her. Perhaps it was because she’d watched him grow up in front of her eyes, caring for him the same way she had for any of her nieces and nephews. Still yet, it could be because he was the authority charged with leading the offensive strategy against the zombies. Either way, she was embarrassed to admit even to herself that his opinion in that moment was gold, and she desperately needed him to be on board with her.

“No, Hermione. I don’t. I couldn’t. It’s a lot to swallow, I’ll give you that, but this isn’t your fault. I just…I’m so tired. I think I’m going to go to Victoire, have a quick conversation with her, and then turn in for the night. I will be able to approach all of this with a clear head tomorrow.”

Nodding, Hermione stood from the table and smiled at Teddy. “That’s probably a good idea. Before you go, though, I have a request. For my children… Hugo and Rose… and for Lily and Albus too… can you make sure they get assigned to the destroyer team? If they are flying, I know they’ll be ok. “

Nodding, Teddy offered a small smile that did not touch his eyes. “Rose, Hugo, and Lily I can deal with. Albus will be a different story, but I’ll do what I can.”

“Thanks.” She gave him a quick hug and sent him on his way. Despite being ravenous and feeling physically weak, she still had one more stop to make. Since a curfew had been established for all persons in the castle under the age of 16, the halls were relatively quiet as Hermione skirted a corner to the stairwell. She had a small flash of déjà vu as she laboured up the stairs, remembering all the different times she’d skipped up this same path, library books in hand, her bushy, unmanageable hair bouncing along. The innocence of her youth suddenly became a painful memory, and she pushed it out of her mind. She had become an expert at avoiding complicated, damning thoughts, and instead she thought only of her destination—she was going to see Draco.

She found the infirmary to be completely abandoned and easily snuck in through the large doors. Everyone else had most likely gone down for dinner. Draco rested in the same position that he had been the night before, with a few exceptions. A pillow was folded gently under the knee on the side of the amputation, with his stump floating above the thin mattress. On the other leg, a pillow was similarly lodged under the calf, keeping the pressure off his heel. Both of his arms were propped up so that none of the bony prominences of his elbows were touching the bed. These modifications prevented Draco from getting any skin openings due to lying in the same position.

His face had a dreadful pallor, as though death were merely seconds away, and his thin lips were colourless, cracked and dry. Her stomach twisted into a thick knot as she approached the bed.

“Draco,” she stated monotonously, her head dipping so that her chin touched her chest. She hesitantly reached out and touched a hand to his cheek. A slick sheen of perspiration greeted her touch. His forehead felt feverish, but the sides of his face were so cold.

“Story.” His eyelids fluttered, and Hermione yanked her hand back in fear. “Story.”

His voice sounded different than it had the night before, the intonation and volume strong.

“Draco? It’s Hermione! Can you hear me?”

His eyes slowly opened, and he peered at her through heavy lids, his sleepy steel gaze locked on her. She swallowed and adjusted her red button down shirt in nervousness, unable to predict his behaviour.

“Astoria, we have to get out of here! They are coming, they are coming.”

Her heart lurched as she watched him glance anxiously around the room.

“Draco, I’m not—“

“There’s no time. You have to go to Scorpius, tell him, Astoria, you tell him that I love him.”

Hermione stood with his mouth agape as Draco mumbled a few strings of unintelligible gibberish. The strength of his speech began to diminish.

“Draco, who is coming?” She asked, suddenly unsure why she was playing into his feverish delusions.

“The…the monsters. They… I saw them… I was coming home from work… they are only a few minutes away…you’ve got to run. Run. Go to Scorpius, find him. I’ll protect us… I’ll protect our life. Go to Scorpius… I love you Astoria… I love you so much… tell Scorpius… tell him… tell him that I love him. Tell him… Astoria… promise me... promise me…”

“I-I promise.”

For once, Hermione wasn’t crying due to guilt or her own pain. The tears running down her cheeks were for a man who had once been her arch enemy, who lay dying before her, pleading with the love of his life to go on without her, to find their son who he cared about so much.

“Run, Astoria. Run.”

And then, Draco fell away again, lost in the abyss of all consuming illness. But Hermione did not cry for him anymore, now her tears were for his wife. Because when Astoria went to find their son to tell him, she had found his house empty. Scorpius had run away to be with Rose. His mother had gone to protect her son, and instead she found no trace of Scorpius. What she had found instead was nearly instantaneous death.

When she returned to the Great Hall, dinner had nearly finished. She grabbed a plate and nibbled feebly on a turkey sandwich before returning to their quarters in the Room of Requirement. Rose and Scorpius were huddled together in front of the fire, their conversation a muted tangle of hushed tones and sobs. Deciding not to interrupt them, Hermione wandered to her bed, quickly noting that Hugo had taken up residence there, his head propped up on his arm while he wrote animatedly on a piece of parchment. He was prone with his knees bent, feet crossed at the ankles, just as he had always positioned himself as a child.

“Oh, hi Mum,” he greeted, not looking up from his ferocious scribbles.

“Hi, sweetie. Are you moving in here from your Common Room?”

“Yeah, I just kind of wanted to hang out with you guys. Tomorrow we’re all leaving so I decided it would be good for me to spend the night in here.”

“Ah. Where are your cousins?”

“Dunno.” Hermione smiled at him, and suddenly felt the urge to pull him close to her and never let him go again. She highly doubted that her sixteen year old son reciprocated that feeling, but the fact that he wanted to spend the evening in their room spoke volumes.

“Scoot over, would you? What are you writing?” She poked him in the ribs to expedite the process, and he glared at her briefly before shifting over so there was enough room for her to sit.

“I’m writing all the different ways I can think of to kill zombies.”

“Oh, you are? Can I see?” She smiled at him encouragingly.

“I’m not done yet,” he huffed. “I just have to spill all this out of my brain first. Maybe it will help Teddy, I don’t know if he ever played video games.” Hermione suppressed an urge to roll her eyes.

“Come on, Hugo. Just let me hear a few.” She made a point to allow her bottom lip to protrude.

“Oh, God, Mum. Fine.” He cleared his throat. “Number six: Dig a large hole in the ground. Pour petrol on the zombies. Blow it up with dynamite.”

“What?!”

“Number twenty three: find a wood chipper. Add a ladder. Lure zombies up with bait until they fall in the woodchipper and explode.”

“You cannot be serious. How do you even know what a wood chipper is?”

“Number seventeen: lure zombies onto railroad track. Run them over with the Hogwarts Express.”

“Alright, I’ve heard enough!” Hermione exclaimed, putting a hand up. “Run them over with the Hogwarts Express? Are you…I can’t even…”

“It’s always a possibility. We could knock out a few hundred of them that way.” He regarded her with a steady, serious expression.

“Ok, Hugo. Ok. I’m sure Teddy would love to hear your…ideas. But we should get some sleep. It’s gonna be a big day tomorrow and I want to make sure you’re well rested.”

“You think I’m really going to be able to sleep tonight? Seriously, Mum?”


Hermione knew he was right, and that made her more nervous than ever. Tomorrow, everything would change. They would no longer be hiding behind the walls of the castle. Tomorrow, the real fight would begin, and there was nothing she could do to stop it now. She would never sit by and watch war happen around her. Wondering for a fleeting moment what her own parents would have thought of her predicament in the last war, had they not had their memory wiped, Hermione kicked her son off the bed and settled in for the night. How wonderful it would be to point a wand at herself and selectively erase pieces of her memory that would be better off floating in the bottom of oblivion. But no, her choices were made, and the only answer forward was clear.

Tomorrow, all hell most likely would break loose. And as was true to her character and nature, Hermione Weasley planned to be right in the thick of the action. And it wasn’t because of guilt; she was springing to action because she was a Gryffindor, brave and valiant, and she would protect everyone that she could in the name of the house that helped raise her to greatness, zombies be damned.



A/N Once again, big thanks to my awesome beta AccioHPFF! I thank you all so much if you are still with me this far, and I promise you in the next chapter things are about to get exciting again!!!



Chapter 11: Dynasty
By: LovlyRita


Awesome chapter image by Gryffin_Duck






Morning came entirely too soon. Thick golden fingers of sunlight burst through the tall cathedral-like windows, creating an atmosphere of hope among the ragtag assembly of survivors and students. A wild thunder of chaos echoed around the Great Hall as Hermione ambled through the large wooden doors. Her sleep had been fitful at the best of times, but she had awoken with strengthened resolve and a thirst to set things right. She had wound her hair up in a tight bun and donned loose fitting khakis and a light green jumper, hoping to blend into the crowd. At the top of her agenda was finding and uniting her children and the rest of her family, but she was quickly distracted by Teddy.

“Hermione, great to see you. The assignments are at the front of the room, find Victoire to help you.”

She politely smiled and glanced toward the large crowd in front of her. Within seconds, Teddy was animatedly gesturing to some of the other groups who were mounting their brooms in anticipation of lift off. He was ridiculously adept at managing the situation, troubleshooting on the fly and appointing leaders in each pod of flyers.

Even without visiting Victoire, it was easy to see how he had arranged the volunteers. There were two main squads—rescue and tactical offense—that were broken into smaller branches with group leaders. Each member of its respective branch was responsible for checking in with the leaders. Teddy was going to be leading a small team of wizards, including five aurors, to London to help inform the Muggle government and diffuse any tension that might be growing in those sectors. The rest of the seventy-five volunteers were split equally.

She quickly located Hugo, who was joking and smiling with several friends, seemingly unaffected by the severity of the situation. He’d been placed in a group led by James Potter. Albus’s disposition was indifferent as he stood with his arms crossed next to his sister. Lily absently grasped at the hem of her shirt, her eyes darting quickly around in nervous anticipation. Taking a deep breath, Hermione surveyed the dense crowd before spotting her daughter standing near the center of the controlled pandemonium. Tears streamed down her face as she looked longingly over toward the other side of the room, her fingers entangled in anxious energy.

“Rose!” Hermione called, jogging over to her.

“Mum!” Rose sniffed. “They put us on different teams! They-they put Scorpius on the rescue team and they put me-they put me with the destroying team. Mum, I-I tried to talk to Teddy, I tried, I told him that I don’t want- I can’t have us separated. I can’t concentrate, he’ll die! I can’t do this without him!”

Hermione nodded and quickly snaked her arms around her daughter’s fragile form.
“Listen, sweetie, I’m going to be on your team, ok? Scorpius is going to be fine. He’s had some experience with this, remember? When he came and saved your life? He is going to be fine. And so are you. It’s only for a few days. We’re to meet back here at the very latest by tomorrow morning, probably earlier if we run out of rations.”

Rose answered her mother’s calming voice by wailing against her shoulder. Despite the fact that Teddy’s choice was the right one for her daughter, it gutted Hermione to listen to her sob. Rose was safer staying in the air on a broom, helping to bait the zombies. Scorpius and his magical talents and remarkable ability to aim muggle weapons would be indispensable, and he would be an asset to the team that Teddy would never part with. Even so, Hermione remembered the burning, consuming rage of young love and immediately empathized with the fear that was probably swirling around Rose’s mind. It was most likely similar to the feelings Hermione had experienced when she had been younger with an infant daughter on her hip, praying for her husband’s safe return from Auror missions.

“Rose, listen to me. Scorpius is going to be fine. He is going to be fine. And you are going to be ok. This is not forever. It’s only a day. There were times when your father didn’t come home for a week and I never knew if I’d see him again. You can survive a day, do you understand me?” Her tone was harsher than she meant it to be, but Hermione was a firm believer that tough love was preferable to coddling. “You are strong. And I know that you have faith. So just take a deep breath, and we will get through this together, ok?”

Rose pulled away from Hermione and wiped the tears from under her red rimmed eyes. She took a deep breath and nodded, stealing a brief glance at her boyfriend, who was completely oblivious to his girlfriend’s distress.

“Zombies, all this. It’s boy stuff. He’s going to have a blast doing this, you watch. And he’ll be a hero. So let him be a man and shoot some zombies in the face. We’ll be fine, Rose. Now come on, who is your team leader?”

“N-Neville.”

“Neville?” Hermione asked incredulously, whipping her head around to the front of the room. There, standing next to George Weasley was Neville, donned in dark trousers and a white shirt with a loose fitting suede jacket. Hermione smiled to herself and led Rose to her group. Neville was talking enthusiastically with his hands, discussing the strategy with his team.

“—our designated area for termination is Yorkshire. We’ll be scouting the countryside, flying a safe distance above the zombies, and our offensive strategy will involve starting small fires in rural areas aimed at massive extermination while eliminating danger to any survivors. Our biggest challenge will be Leeds and Sheffield but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. We’ll focus on the places we can first. I’m to understand that after southern England and portions of Wales, Yorkshire has not seen the large population explosion of zombies yet, but they’re closing in from the west. We’ll be accompanied by George Weasley’s rescue team, working in tandem to help out as many people as we can…”

Hermione gently pushed Rose toward Neville as she listened to the plan. It was flawed in so many ways; Yorkshire was one of the largest counties in England and would be nearly impossible to contain with two units. If Neville was aware of that, however, he did not allow his doubt to cloud his countenance. Once he had finished with safety instructions and other basic rules, Hermione was finally able to speak to him directly.

“Nicely done, Neville, I think you’ll be great leading this team.”

“I bloody well hope so. I just spent half the night in the library researching Yorkshire, and I spoke to Teddy about predicted ‘hotspots’ of zombies. I refuse to be unprepared for this, especially if I have the lives of other people in my hands.” He gave her a small half smile, and Hermione realized she was genuinely impressed with his work.

“I’d expect nothing less from you. Between us, we should be able to pull this mission off well.”
Neville raised an eyebrow in confusion. The level of noise in the room was slowly rising, making quiet conversation nearly impossible.

“This mission?” he questioned.

“Yeah, to Yorkshire. I’m looking forward to being a part of your team, it’ll be great to be there with you, Rose, and Hugo, I think we’ll be able to be very efficient, and—”

“—Hermione, you’re not on our team. I think you’re part of the rescue teams.”

“What?” The colour drained from her face and her healthy breathing pattern swiftly diminished as a lump settled in the back of her throat. “That can’t be right.”

“Check the assignments again, maybe Victoire was wrong when she told you.”

She had forgotten to find her eldest niece as Teddy had instructed. She scanned the raucous crowd and found Victoire at the front of the room. The blonde pixie cut that she had worn since leaving Hogwarts was a sharp contrast to her conservative purple blouse and black trousers.

“I’ll be right back,” she said, nodding at Neville before pushing her way through to the front of the room. The different teams were beginning to spread out and plan as Teddy, Madame Williams - the current flight instructor - and several others led a group of the youngest volunteers outside to continue testing their flying abilities. When Victoire saw her, she smiled warmly.

“Aunt Hermione! I’m sorry I haven’t had a chance to catch up with you, we’ve both been so busy planning things. How are you?” Her speech was so rushed that her words nearly ran together in an unintelligible jumble.

“I’m fine, dear, it’s good to see you. Listen, I was under the impression that I was to be on the destroying team with my children. I thought I had asked Teddy specifically to put me on that team.”

Victoire pursed her lips as she looked down at the parchment before her. “Let’s see here. It looks like you’re…on the search and rescue team. You’re part of the special group that is searching the countryside and Godric’s Hollow for those wizards and witches that are missing, as well as monitoring the cemeteries to keep the zombies from raising more dead.”

Hermione’s jaw dropped in surprise. “What? But…Teddy…I thought I asked him…” Her gaze traveled to the ceiling as she tried to recall yesterday’s exchange. She had explicitly asked for her children to be placed on the destroying team, but had she done the same for herself? The last 48 hours were starting to blur together into whispers of vague shapes and grey figures.
“I’m sorry, Aunt Hermione. But I was there when Teddy made this list, and he said that you were the best to be on this team, given your experience. You’ll be heading it with Roger Davies.”

Hermione did little to muffle the groan that issued from deep in her throat. Of all the people she had to get stuck with, it had to be the pretentious, insufferable Potions professor.

“Are you absolutely sure?” She glanced behind her shoulder to see Davies talking flamboyantly with his hands. Occasionally, she overheard phrases like “cohesive partnership” and “geographic tactical defensive alliances” from his overly large, protruding mouth. Hermione resisted the urge to roll her eyes. It appeared both Scamander children were also in the group, along with an Auror that had worked with her husband named Justin Calloway.

Victoire pointed to Hermione’s name with a slender, manicured finger.

“Right here. I’m sure it will be fine. There’s about eight people in your group and I’m sure you’ll be ok. Teddy said that besides his group going to London to keep the Muggle Prime minister and the monarchy safe, your group has the most important demographic. You’re going to be going with James’ group as well, which will be covering you from the sky.”

Hugo would be going with her. A small piece of the boulder lodged deep in her chest began to dissolve once she realised she would be able to keep a close eye on her imaginative son.
“Brilliant. Right, thanks Victoire. Any word from your mum or dad?”

“No, I’ve heard nothing from them, or Dominique. I…well, I hope you find them, Aunt Hermione.”

Hermione nodded and pulled her niece into a firm embrace, noting how fragile she suddenly seemed.

“I’ll do my best, dear. And now I should go to see what kind of trouble Roger is creating. Hang in there.” Smiling encouragingly, Hermione turned and took her time walking over to her group. It wasn’t long before she began to hear more of Davies’ speech.

“—entrusted the wizarding communities to us, and we will use our tenacity and unyielding determination to ensure success and instill confidence in the other groups that will be admiring us from afar. And, oh look, Mrs. Weasley has finally decided to grace us with her presence.”

Hermione flashed a quick smile before turning to the rest of her team. They stared at her with rapt attention. Introducing herself, she cleared her throat and forced another smile in Davies’ direction.

“I am to understand we will be surveying Godric’s Hollow first, is that correct?”

“Well, had you been here during my introductory remarks, you would know exactly what we were planning.” His smirk was infuriating; arrogance practically seeped from his pores. Hermione slowly counted to five as the rest of the group eyed each other uncomfortably. Once she had reigned in her urge to tie him up and hex him until he begged for mercy, Hermione matched his condescending grin.

“Ok, Davies, let’s get one thing straight. That will be the last time you undermine me with your pompous, ostentatious remarks. We are all in this together, we’re going to be fighting together, and the last thing I want is to have your snooty words cloud my judgment as to whether or not I feel like saving your arse when the zombies have you paralyzed on the side of the road. While all of you,” she gestured to the group, “were under the safety of Hogwarts or your own homes, I was fighting these monsters. I burned down my own house to escape them. I have seen them destroy my friends and I’ve seen them swarm and swallow small towns. This is not a joke, nor is it a time for inflated egos. If you want to survive, you’ll stick by me, and then one day you might earn the right to tell your war stories in fantastical fashion. For now, let’s just stick together and fight, sound good to all of you?”

Six heads bobbed up and down in unison as Davies gaped stupidly at her. The rest of their meeting was largely uneventful as they met individually and then consulted with James Potter’s squad. The decision was made to launch in an hour’s time. Percy was already busy arranging portkeys from Hogsmeade village to predetermined “safe” locations around the country. It was important to use an offsite location to avoid the possibility of a zombie accidentally finding the portkey and thus transporting themselves onto the Hogwarts grounds. Once there, the teams would mount brooms and fly a short distance to their duty stations. Hermione was not keen on flying; it was one of the only lessons of her youth at which she did not excel, and she had subsequently developed a fear of the activity. Regardless, she would do what was necessary to keep herself and her teammates alive.

At their destination, the teams were to perform a quick perimeter search from the sky before dismounting in the community and locating as many survivors as possible. One of the rescuers would be tasked with carrying a bundle of extra brooms in order to help the survivors back to the portkey, which was to be no more than a mile in any direction. During their mission, the destroying team would man the skies, searching for stray zombies and killing anything that compromised the mission. Once they had collected as many survivors as they could, both teams would reconvene at the portkey and meet everyone else back at the castle no later than eight o’clock that evening.

Hermione was grateful for the attentiveness of her group. In addition to the Scamanders, the young Auror, and Davies, there were two Gryffindor students, Callum Mitchell and Aria Schneider, and one Slytherin called Cora Stevens. They seemed well behaved and asked questions where appropriate, but most importantly they seemed to be participating in the task for the right reasons. There were no glory seekers among them; rather, they were there to save anyone they could and preserve the nation over all.

At forty-five minutes past noon, Hermione already felt physically and mentally exhausted. The sun was high in the sky as the two groups exited the Great Hall together, on the precipice of embarking on a journey into hostility. The heaviness of the air felt foreign to her skin as the sun’s heat forced the temperature to soar to their highest of the year. James Potter led his group with gentle authority, the Gryffindor traits easily recognizable in his steady, calming speech. Hugo caught up with her and jabbered on for several minutes about their plans and Teddy’s favorable reaction to his wild ideas. While she listened attentively and nodded in the right places, Hermione felt as though she was floating through a dense fog, unable to completely comprehend the events that were hours away from unfolding. It had been so easy to fall into the assurance of safety that Hogwarts provided, but now she was willingly stepping back into danger, with her children no less.

Once they queued up on the sprawling grounds of Hogwarts, just outside the small, dilapidated hut that used to belong to the groundskeeper, Teddy and Percy addressed them with a few minor remarks regarding safety and the importance of communication. After that was finished and Hermione felt thoroughly patronized by a man for whom she had once changed nappies, the brooms were handed out. Hermione was issued a Comet 5034, a broom which had been created shortly after the fall of Voldemort, and therefore largely outdated. Glancing to her left, she saw the gleam of excitement in her son’s eyes as he accepted his broom from James. Hugo was so tall that his broomstick fit awkwardly between his legs, but this did little to squelch the excitement. Hermione’s own broomstick felt like a long, disproportionate rod of impending doom and death as she uncomfortably mounted it. The anxiety she felt while holding the smooth, polished handle was much different than the previous days when the weight of the world burrowed itself roughly between her shoulder blades. The fear that consumed her now was born of her natural aversion to flying.

“Are you ready, Mum?” Hugo asked excitedly. Hermione nodded and looked out onto the grounds of Hogwarts, searching for one last glimpse of her daughter. She finally spotted Rose with Neville, sitting sullenly on a patch of fresh grass.

“She’s going to be ok, you know,” Hugo continued, patting his mother on the arm. “She’s got Neville, and we’re all going to see each other tonight so stop worrying. I can tell that you are.”

Hugo’s voice was tender and concerned, and for a second Hermione felt reinvigorated with purpose and resolve.

“Thanks, honey. You know how I am with you and your sister. I’m glad that you’ll be here with me though, so I can keep my eye on you and make sure you don’t conjure up a massive diabolical killing machine.”

Before Hugo could come up with another pointed retort, Teddy gave the signal for their group to depart for Hogsmeade. Hermione swallowed hard and tentatively lifted her feet from the moist ground. The broom began to ascend slowly into the air, instantly giving her the suffocating feeling of unsteadiness. Her head was swimming as she climbed higher, but she kept her center of gravity stable and attempted to concentrate intently on the whipping robes of the person in front of her despite the overwhelming desire to keep eye contact on her son.

As the team crossed through the protective charms of Hogwarts and beyond the grounds, the massive swell of zombies swiftly came into focus. Swallowing and tightening her grip on the handle, she retrained her focus on the cloudless cerulean sky. She could see James swooping majestically through the air, as though he had been born on a broom. Even several hundred feet off the ground, she could still hear the buzzing groan that had haunted the deep recesses of her nightmares.

Within a few minutes, the small quaint village of Hogsmeade came into view. The streets, usually teeming with witches and wizards stopping for tea at Madame Puttifoot’s or raiding Zonko’s joke shop, were completely desolate and abandoned. A few stray monsters lurked around the perimeter, but the town had largely been pruned of the morbid threat before the portkeys were created.

Hermione gently tilted the handle of the broom inferiorly as the fluid in her ears adjusted to the change in air pressure. Their group was headed to the building that once housed the Hogs Head Inn. As she dived deeper into a swift descent, Hermione felt the feelings of anxiety lift. Once her feet hit the firm ground outside their meeting point, her quick heart rate reluctantly began to relent. Gasping in relief as Hugo landed safely several seconds later, she attempted to compose herself before anyone guessed how unravelled the flight really made her.

“That was awesome! I think I really missed out by not playing quidditch! And the zombies, did you see them milling about down on the ground? It was scary, but not as bad as I thought it was going to be!” Hugo exclaimed, flashing a wide smile as he turned to speak to his friend.

Hermione shook her head incredulously. Hugo had never been one to shy away from danger, annoyingly enough, but his blasé attitude toward the zombies worried her.

The empty streets of Hogsmeade made her feel incredibly uneasy, and she hurried through the front door of the building. Despite the pathetic ray of light that filtered through a small cracked window behind the bar, the cramped space was dark. Rickety, dilapidated tables and equally unstable chairs were lined up along the walls, each covered in a thick paste of dust and water from damage in the roof. The air was thick with mildew and decay.

“Aunt Hermione.” A hand clasped around her shoulder, and she turned to find the source of the voice.

“James. Are you ready for this?” James roughly shoved the shag of dark, unruly curls from his eyes and nodded firmly. The noise level in the small vacant pub swelled, the nervous energy of the teams steadily crescendoing with each passing minute.

“I just wanted to run through the plan one more time. My team will be spread out and stay approximately three hundred feet off the ground. We will provide a perimeter for you, utilizing fire as our main tool against zombies. Should further assistance be required, I’ll be on guard to help on land but the rest of my team stays in the sky.”

With each point that he made, James smacked his hands together vigorously, as though he was trying to convince himself that he had made the right decision in accepting such an important role.

“Are you ok, James? Are you sure you’re ready for this?” Hermione murmured, keeping her voice low so as not to attract the attention of others.

“I’m fine, I’m fine. I just needed to go through it again, thanks.”

He sauntered off to gather his team, and Hermione followed suit. Each group had a separate portkey; a rusted can of lima beans served for James, and model of a toy car without wheels was to deliver Hermione’s group to their destination.

“Is everyone prepared?” Davies’ clear voice rang out above the rest. There was a soft chorus of affirmative replies, and he quickly explained the rules for travel by portkey.

“We must all touch it at the same time, and we will be transported in seconds. Once there, we will immediately grab our brooms and fly to Godric’s Hollow, which should be less than a quarter mile away. We will be travelling together. Never break apart from the group. Are there any last minute questions?”

Silence greeted his words, and he nodded to Hermione. Despite the steady confidence in his tone, she saw the ragged hint of fear cloud his face.

“Alright. On my count, we go. One. Two. Three.” Eight unsteady hands reached out for the small car, making contact roughly at the same time. The inside of the pub began to spin as the magic of the portus spell took effect. She heard the gasp of Callum Mitchell beside her and attempted to use her other hand to steady his grip,but the weight of the broom in her hand coupled with velocity with which they were moving through space was too much for her. Swallowing, her head pounding viciously against her temple, they finally came to an abrupt stop several seconds later.

Squinting her eyes closed, Hermione took a deep breath before examining their new location. The sky was muddled with dark clouds, obscuring the sun from view. Large imposing trees stretched upward toward the unforgiving sky, their branches heavy with the promise of spring. A rolling spread of small hills dotted the horizon, decorated with small bushes and a few unimpressive cottages. A tall, bronzed pole was sticking out of the ground next to the used portkey, signaling from a distance where their rallying point would be in several hours. In the far distance, the clustered, antiquated housing of Godric’s Hollow stood.

“Is everyone ok?” Hermione asked, standing despite her lingering vertigo.

“I think so, yeah,” Lorcan Scamander said, brushing the stray bits of grass and mud off his robes.

A crack sounded across the sky like a sharp thunder clap, and suddenly James Potter and his group landed unceremoniously on the soft earth. As everyone was composing themselves and mounting their brooms, Hermione pulled Justin Calloway aside.

“You’re comfortable leading us into the village, right? Since you have experience with these matters?”

“Yeah.” His voice was extremely deep and calm. “I’ll start. We’ve got to be careful though. The zombies aren’t milling about right now, but in a few hours they will be, and they are most likely congregated in abandoned houses so any chance we take will be a big one. I think we should split up into teams for four and go that way. We’ll cover less ground but it’ll keep us safer.”

Hermione nodded and forced a tense smile. Thoughts raced through her head at unprecedented speeds, focused mostly on the uncertainty of the state of the village. She found herself mounting her broom once more before launching into the sky with the others.

The cold familiarity of anxiety clouded her mind, but she attempted to shove it to the back and instead focus on the issue at hand. A couple of lone zombies ambled around aimlessly below them, but Hermione paid them no mind. The trip to Godric’s Hollow was much easier to bear than the flight she had taken not an hour before. Within minutes she landed seamlessly on the walking path near the center of the deserted town. Memories of horcruxes and giant snakes flooded her as she glanced around at the buildings.

Despite the feeling of a ghost town, the houses and shops were fairly well kept. There was no one on the street, and Hermione instantly had a feeling of unease. She glanced toward the sky and saw the team there, ready to deploy any needed defensive measures. She heard Justin call out a few names to join his group and quickly realized that she would be leading a group of three--Lysander, Callum, and Lorcan. Swallowing, she gestured for the boys to follow her.

There was absolutely one thing that she had to see first before they could start checking the houses.

The graveyard was located in the center of town, a modest fence built along the outside to keep unwanted pests from entering. The three boys followed her quick, jerky movements as she ducked through the wooden planks and into the sacred ground. Most of the graves stood untouched, pillars frozen in time to honor the memory of the dead. She deftly dodged the stone markers, trying to remember where their graves had been.

“What are we doing?” whispered Callum, who carried several brooms with him in case they found underaged survivors.

“I just need to check something,” Hermione whispered back, scanning the names on the stones for a familiar moniker.

“Look! There!” Lysander pointed, and immediately her worst fears were confirmed.

The graves of Lily and James Potter were desecrated, the dark earth chaotically pushed aside where two bodies who were supposed to have been encumbered in eternal sleep had risen.

“Oh my God.”

The monster that had once been Harry Potter had not only had been here, but he had joined his parents at last.



A/N: I am so sorry in the delay it took me to get this posted. First of all, I am extremely humbled to be a featured story. It's really been a blessing and I'd like to say hello and thank you to all the people that have reviewed this.

Thank you to my beta, acciohpff, and also to starryskies55 and JChrissy for looking over this chapter for me, and to Gryffin_Duck again for the great CI!

Thanks for sticking with me. You guys mean the world.



Chapter 12: Suit Up
By: LovlyRita

Flawless chapter image by tell_me_what_the_truth_is (AKA marinahill)





“What does this mean? I mean, they’ve been dead for thirty years or something. Does this mean that there are skeleton zombies up and walking around? Can we even kill skeletons? Maybe we can just reach over grab their femur, and then they’d just fall over and then basically we could declare ‘problem solved!’” Lorcan’s excitement at the grisly find made Hermione’s stomach turn, and she quickly looked away from the gaping, vacant holes in the ground.

“I don’t know,” she whispered, casting her eyes toward a group of imposing grey stratus clouds forming overhead. The frenzied murmurs of her group steadily grew louder as their ideas became even more outrageous.

A chilly wind rustled her hair as she tried to collect her thoughts, very acutely aware that the zombie Harry had some sort of awareness of those he knew in life. That explained how she seemed to attract zombies wherever she went; more alarmingly, it meant that somewhere Ron was most likely scraping the earth among the undead.

“Hermione? Are you alright?” Callum asked softly as the other two boys continued to brainstorm.

“I’m fine. Clearly this is going to be more difficult than originally thought.” She paused and performed a quick survey of her surroundings. “At least the rest of the cemetery is still intact. Quite possibly it means that the only one who can raise the dead is Harry.” Despite the mild nausea still gripping her stomach, Hermione took a deep, calming breath to regain focus. The object of this mission was to help refugees, not hypothesise the unfathomable.

“We need to regroup here. The best plan of action is to search the nearby buildings and houses.” She had finally gained their full attention. “We’re going to start with the buildings on this street and then work our way back through the south end. If for any reason a house looks unsafe, we won’t venture in that direction, does that sound fair?” Three heads bobbed up and down in unison. Pleased, she began to navigate away from their unsettling find, towards the empty cobbled street. The boys followed her like ducklings, their faces full of the excitement and anticipation that comes from being important.

“Always keep your wand at the ready. If you should happen across any zombies, the quickest thing you can do is cast a quick “incendio” spell towards them. You can also use a slicing spell to remove limbs. Dismembering will not kill them completely, you must set them on fire.” Her voice was firm and confident.

“We know, we heard all of this in the briefing,” Lorcan said impatiently as they came to a halt in front of an abandoned two storey brick building that had once been a grand wizarding apparel shop. Behind the dusty, cracked window panes, a mannequin posed wearing sensible green robes. Hermione had once owned a set just like them, before she had made the split second decision to char everything she had ever owned.

The awning jutted awkwardly from the building, pregnant with the weight of water and debris from the obvious struggle that had occurred. It had only been a few days since the zombies had begun their domination, but it felt like an entire lifetime.


“The door is boarded up, looks like a bit of a shoddy job,” Lysander observed, approaching the entrance with caution.

Dropping his bundle of brooms in front of the shop, Callum joined Lorcan for a quick survey of the perimeter. As they left, Hermione took the opportunity to survey the interior of the shop one last time. Past the mannequin, it appeared that the rows of robes hung untouched, as though the owner of the shop had simply stepped away quickly for lunch and would be back any moment.

“Should we knock?”

“I don’t see why not, I can’t imagine that there are zombies inside given the order of the merchandise.” She peered around the corner and noted the general disarray of the landscaping. “But they certainly have been outside this building, and by the look of it, have tried to get inside.”

Lysander delivered four sharp knocks to the wooden plank protecting any tenants from intruders.

“Ministry of magic rescue squad! We’re here to help you escape, please open your door!” he yelled, his deep voice rebounding in a thin echo. They waited a few minutes, but the effort yielded no response. Further attempts to summon anyone were unsuccessful. Lysander sighed in frustration as the other two rejoined them at the front.

“It’s a relatively small building. Scratch marks visible on the back door, but all the windows are intact. Do you think that we should go inside? Break down the door?” Lorcan asked, running a hand through his wavy blonde hair.

Shaking her head, Hermione was silent for a second before an idea sprang to her mind.

“Instead of breaking our way inside, I’ll try to send a message using a patronus charm.” They had discussed sending patronuses out to all the survivors before they had come on the rescue mission, but she had no idea if the plan had been successful. It was worth a try; anything was worth a try at this point.

Stepping forward, Hermione tried to clear her mind and focus on pleasant memories. A time when she was at peace, before the entire world had upended into hellish chaos. When had she last been happy?

Ron in the morning, his reading glasses slipping slightly down his nose as he reads the morning paper. Hermione sitting across the table, trying to scan the news upside down. His fiery red hair, peppered with grey, mussed from sleep as he makes some mild comment about the state of affairs at the ministry. Sipping tea from his favorite mug, a beat up, porcelain ode to the Chudley Canons in a horrifically tacky orange hue, steam from the boiling liquid fogging up the glasses. Her husband, smiling at her, patting her hand and asking what she has planned for her day at work. Her Ron, her rock.

A silvery whisp emanated from the end of her wand, and within seconds a fully formed otter bounded through the barricaded door, off to offer asylum to any refugees locked inside.

“We’ll check the next building. Looks like it was a bakery of some sort,” Lysander said authoritatively, leading his brother on toward the abandoned business.

“Be careful,” she cautioned whilst staring vacantly at the façade of the building in front of her.

“What if there are no survivors?”

Callum’s voice was small as he spoke, most likely because he understood the weight of his words. Shaking herself from the trance of erstwhile happiness, she turned to regard him. He was a tall boy - no, man - with coal black hair and wide, slate grey eyes. A very handsome lad, to be sure, and smart as well. The true meaning of his query had crossed her own mind more than once.

What if we’re the only ones left.

No, that was impossible. She pushed the thought from her mind as soon as it had entered. It was statistically impossible for the zombies to have completely devoured the entire population of Britain. Sure, they had invaded the reaches of Scotland all the way from London, but Hermione suspected there was some kind of magic that had occurred there —though she wasn’t entirely sure of how it had happened.

“I wouldn’t worry about that right now. We need to focus on finding as many people as we can, and thinking negatively won’t help us with—“

A loud smacking noise. A hoarse scream. The sound of a body falling with a thump. Hermione’s heart jumped up into her throat.

“Someone’s inside!” Callum exclaimed in a tone tantamount to absolute glee.

“No…” Hermione trailed off. “That wasn’t from inside the building.”

“Help!” A desperate wail from behind the building next door. The Bakery.

“Callum, stay here, do you understand me? Wait to see if anyone comes out. Don’t let go of your wand!”

She took off, sprinting as quickly as possible toward the voice that could only have belonged to Lorcan. Her legs pumped as furiously as her mind raced, attempting to calculate every possible outcome she was about to face. She figured it couldn’t have been zombies — she would have heard them. Turning the corner, she was greeted by absolute confusion and panic.

“What the hell happened!” she asked more harshly than she intended. Lysander was on his knees, his platinum blonde hair stained with viscous, red blood. Holding his head in his hands, he rocked slightly from side to side as his brother stood by, helping to apply pressure with a section of his robes.

“We were poking around back here, to see if there was any sort of entrance or sign of zombies and Lysander stepped on this board,” he began, pointing to a long plank of spruce wood. There was a rather sharp edge that jutted out the side, splattered with blood. “It knocked him out for a few seconds, but he seems to be ok now.”

“He seems to be ok? Lorcan, he’s on his knees! Lysander, can you hear me?”

“Yeah,” he responded weakly, holding his hands against the wound. “I’m just dizzy, that’s all, if I could just have a moment.”

“No, we have to get you out of here, this wound is going to make us vulnerable.” She wasn’t exactly sure that this would be the case, but logic held that if a zombie was attracted to the very scent of a human, it was likely that the scent of blood would drive them absolutely mad.

“I’m fine. just give me a second.” He lifted his head, attempting to focus his clear blue eyes on Hermione. Blood dripped down his neck in fine rivulets, staining the collar of his shirt. His wavy hair was so long it brushed the tops of his narrow shoulders. With wide, inquisitive eyes and a generally easy smile, he looked so like his mother. But now his skin was ashen and slick with sweat, and she could see that any attempt to regain an upright position would be a struggle.

“You’re not fine. I’m going to summon James, we’re going to get you out of here now.”

“Christ, just hold on—“ he leaned to his side and vomited.

“You have a concussion Lysander, come on.” Her voice was more gentle this time, a plea for him to just listen to her for a second. “We’ll try this mission again some other time.”

As she began to move toward him in order to examine his wound, she heard it.

“No,” she whispered. “Lysander, come on, we have to move you. Now. Lorcan, send sparks up with your wand.” Lorcan looked bewildered, his eyes darting back and forth between his brother and her.

Do it, Lorcan!” she hissed, “they are coming.” She couldn’t believe the calm in her voice despite the very real threat that was about to descend upon them. The droning of the zombies. They were here.

Somewhere far away on the other side of the small wizarding community, there was some sort of explosion. A dense cloud of smoke spewed up from the earth, spitting debris across town.

What the bloody hell was that,” Lorcan cursed, his head whipping to the side quickly. The air filled with the smell of rot and burning flesh. She did not know if it belonged to zombies or her own team. Her heart sank. There was no way that there would be enough air support to help both of them. This entire operation had been folly.

She did not have a visual on the zombies yet, but she knew they were close. The area behind the bakery was not adequately closed off; it faced the back of what looked to be a personal residence. The only thing separating them was a poorly constructed fence with multiple holes, and there was a low stone wall dividing the back part of each of the neighbouring businesses.

There was nothing in the way of cover from attack. The entirety of the property was covered with concrete rather than grass. Near the fence there were bins overflowing with rubbish, and there appeared to be old pieces of equipment scattered on the ground, apparently picked through and discarded by in great haste. She could hear the screams of the other half of the rescue team, but could not see any of them because the sky was obscured by the acrid smoke. She prayed that Hugo was still safe in the air, his legs anchored around his flimsy broomstick.

Lorcan finally sprung into action, releasing his brother only for a moment in order to raise his wand and send a series of multicoloured sparks into the air.

“We have to move him. We have our apparition licenses now, we could try to disapparate from here,” he said once he was finished.

“No, it’s too risky, he’s not in good stable condition, and the chance of splinching is too great. Come on, we can pick him up.”

“I’m fine,” Lysander complained.

“Shut up, Lysander, you’re not ok for fuck’s sake, you’re bleeding out the side of your head! Be quiet and just let us help you! Can you hear them?” Gone was the smiling and the joking, as Lorcan finally realised the imminent threat before them. “Wingardium Leviosa!


As Lysander Scamander was slowly lifted into the air, the zombies finally appeared, stumbling through the flimsy, worthless fence. It was as though they had come from nowhere, even though the sound of them had signaled plenty of warning. They were moving more quickly than she remembered.

With great relish, she aimed her wand at the growing hoard. “Get him out of here. Go. Find Callum, get the air team, send more sparks. Do what you have to do.” Her words were slow, even, and calculated. All the anxiety that had nearly crippled her during her last rendez-vous with the walking dead were gone. Instead, she felt nothing but serenity, and reckless abandon.

“Hermione you can’t face them all on your own.”

“I’ll be fine,” she said gently with a reassuring smile. “Get your brother out of here. Find Callum.”

They were coming at her now, their droning as loud as bees near a hive. An undulating ribbon, headed straight for her. Squeezing her eyes shut, she raised her wand, listening as they trampled the grass, inching ever closer.

Incendio” she whispered half heartedly, feeling the slight quiver of her wand as fire spewed from its tip. She didn’t look as the zombies in front of her began to hiss. The black solitude behind her eyelids was welcoming, and she did not feel any fear. Waving the wand around, the fire continued to spill out, but it would not be enough to keep the entire pack at bay. Wondering whether or not back up would come, she still refused to open her eyes. She was finished with panic, finished with dread.

Swoosh. Her hair blew into a frenzy as a something flew quickly over her head. “Mum what are you doing?” Hugo screamed, and that made her eyes fly open, bringing everything back into focus. The zombies surrounded her on every side, the front line a mess of charred limbs as the rest tripped over the barricades. Hugo flew low on his broom, attempting to distract them, but not really managing to do so. His hair whipped around as he clumsily attempted to change directions, showing just what a novice he really was on a broom. No, no, it wasn’t supposed to be this way, he was supposed to be safe. She was supposed to be saving him, not the other way around.

“Hugo! Move! Get out of here!” She roared, her wand bursting to life as she began to hack away at the hoards, agile and swift, alternating between slices and spells of fire. But it was not enough; the incendio spell would only go so far, and it would do little to swallow the great mass that was moving ever closer. They were closing in, and she knew she didn’t have a chance, that the end was nigh. Her right arm throbbed as she thrust it again and again into the air, fighting for her life. What had she been thinking? Why had she waited so long to attack?

She knew why they were so horrifically aggressive - it was the smell of the blood, the sweet human flesh that had brought them from their dormancy. But Lysander was out of this area and hopefully far enough away that they would be able to escape unharmed.

Why hadn’t it occurred to her to turn and run? That would have been the smart thing to do, and no one would have blamed her or called her a coward. It wasn’t in her though; she had to protect the rest of them, protect her son, and she would die in the process if she had to. Running was never an option. Careless, reckless even, but no one would ever dare say she was anything but an Gryffindor.

Again and again she struck, postponing the inevitable, but doing so in an admirable and honourable fashion. More of them continued to drop before her as Hugo flew zigzags over their heads, picking off a few of them as they pushed toward the bakery. It would never be enough.

And then, an inferno. Out of nowhere, a fire so fierce and hot it singed her eyebrows, seemingly galloping across the decomposing masses, taking out everything in its path. Stunned from the sudden presence of what appeared to be something akin to fiendfyre, she finally found her feet and turned to run out of the path, but the blaze had risen all around her, creating a deadly cage, trapping her in with the zombies. Hugo was still there too, swooping in and out above the flames, whooping as though he had summoned the great flood of fire himself.

Where, where was the source? She pinned herself against the building as far from the death and the heat as possible, crouching down to shield her face with her arms. In her haste to escape the fire, she hadn’t even been aware that she’d dropped her wand until now. The emptiness in her hand shattered her heart - it had been years since she had been separated from the thin piece of wood that had forever changed her life as an eleven year old. If Hermione had not been in mortal peril before, she certainly was now.

Within seconds, her short reprieve was cruelly stolen as the building itself caught fire. She noted that the invaders had turned, retracing their steps as they tried to avoid the fire, and it was not lost on Hermione the absolute irony of the undead trying to escape death once more.

The crackling and hissing of the fire overtook the sound of the zombies as she remained plastered against the wall.

Mum! Mum, grab my hand!” Looking up she saw Hugo hovering above her, the tail of his broom dangerously close the the flames that were inching ever closer to them.

“Hugo, no, it’s too dangerous! You have to get to safety!” She screamed back, quickly covering her head as one of the eaves fell from the top of the bakery. It smashed into the ground, spewing shards of fiery wood toward Hermione’s face. Oh, it was so hot. Tears leaked from her eyes as the sweltering heat and thick smoke began to take their toll on her body.

“Mum, it’s ok!” His voice was so strong, so confident. Always optimistic and full of hope, her Hugo. “It’s ok! Grab my hand! It’s going to be alright! You have to come now!”

“I’ll-I’m too heavy. I lost my wand-“

“-I have it!” She watched in disbelief as he reached within his robes and threw the missing object down to her, almost as an after thought. She had a million questions but didn’t bother to ask them. Instead, she caught the wand, noting that it was unharmed, and stood up immediately, her face still wet with tears. She coughed and spluttered through the unyielding smoke, and lifted her hands. After a quick nonverbal spell, a small passageway opened up to allow them to safely pass through the inferno. The alleyway between the buildings came into view, and Hermione took off into a sprint, Hugo following a safe distance overhead. Upon seeing the familiar cobblestoned street, Hermione collapsed onto her hands and knees, her body wracked with a harrowing mixture of sobs and dry coughing.

Hugo landed in front of her, running to her side as she tried to catch her breath and calm herself. Her vision was slightly blurred; it was like she was peering through a long tunnel, and her eyes were dry and irritated. It appeared that Callum was standing to her right, his back turned. Lorcan was kneeling on the ground next to his brother.

“What—“ she tried to speak, but was interrupted by more coughing.

“Mum, I have to go, they need me over there. The other team ran into some trouble, I’ll tell you more about it when we get back!” Without another word he was off again, taking to the skies as though he were born to play this role. Wearily, she turned to face the direction she’d just come, and saw that the flames were still rippling toward the sky in a golden maelstrom.

Then she noticed something she hadn’t seen before. A figure, clothed in a yellow protective suit from head to toe, a mask of some sort obscuring his face, began to move toward her. He had a contraption strapped to his chest, and Hermione’s eyes widened when she realised what it was, what he was.

He moved toward her slowly, deliberately, as though he was savoring the moment, and it made her skin crawl. Unable to do anything due to her inability to gain an adequate breath, she collapsed onto the pavement, dizzy with the effort. She was just so tired, so weak, so finished. His footfalls were heavy, easily signaling how close he was to her.

“You okay?” The voice was a deep, scratchy tenor. Hermione looked up, dazed, and saw two large hazel eyes peering at her from behind protective plastic.

“Who—“

“Don’t speak, you’ll hurt yourself. I’m sorry. I didn’t realise you were back there. I’ve been waiting to use this baby for a long time, didn’t mean for you to get caught in the crossfire, as it were.” He chucked softly to himself, as though he had just made the most hilarious pun on earth.

“Flame…thrower…” she choked out, pointing to the device. He smiled in return, nodding his head before turning to the others in her group.

“You’re going to want to get him back to safety if he’s gonna live. The rest of your team is in danger over there, I’d wager there’s about 300 of those bastards that’ve been unleashed. Don’t know why you came poking around these parts, but I can tell you there isn’t much to find. Godric’s Hollow is relatively abandoned, save for me and a few others.”

It was so hard to breathe. She tried, but it came out as a brittle wheeze. Closing her eyes she found the darkness to be welcoming once more. If she could just…catch her breath.

“Oh no now, don’t go closin’ your eyes on me, you have to stay awake, do you understand?”

His voice sounded so funny, sort of robotic, but in a tunnel. She wondered what Ron would have said about that. He would have laughed probably, because he thought robots were ridiculous. They’d had a discussion about robots once, to the great delight of Arthur Weasley.

“Come on girl, open your eyes!”

Rose was her girl. Where was Rose? She had blue eyes like her father. Ron, Rose, Hugo and Hermione. Her family, the most important thing to her in the world. She wanted to be with them right now, would give anything to be with them. They were her answer to everything, her reason for existing. And she let herself fall, if only so she could be with them once more.



A/N: Hello everyone! I know it's been quite a while but you should know that I have had the worst writer's block I've ever had, and it took me forever to get this chapter out, but I am so pleased to finally have it here for you! I am hoping to get updates out a little sooner now :)

I must thank tell_me_what_the_truth_is who goes by marinahill over here on the archive. Not only did she make that gorgeous CI up there, but she also beta'd this chapter and brit picked it for me, because as most of you know I'm pretty damn American :P I also want to thank the beta of my first 11 chapters, acciohpff because he was always really supportive of me from the beginning with this story, and even though he isn't betaing for me anymore, I'm still really grateful of all he's done for me.

So, what did you think? Thoughts on the mysterious man in the yellow suit?? How on earth did he get a flame thrower? Don't worry, I've got it all figured out and I can't wait to share with you. And how about those Lysander boys? Things are really
heating up (hahahaha I'm hilarious) and I can't wait to get this story all out there for you! Thanks for reading, and please drop me a review if you have the time!


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