Chapter 11: Dynasty
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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?”
“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.
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