14- The Battle for Russia

What was left of the light from the setting sun was barely enough to illuminate the tiny shadowy figures marching across the tops of the surrounding mountains. With every defensive enchantment the army of Cade and Morgana Bowton broke through, the closer they got to the Russian Ministry and the louder their cries and wails became.

The galleon clenched in Harry’s fist burned for the umpteenth time that night though his focus was towards the western mountains and not on Bruno’s eagerness for updates. Harry had not expected much from the mountain lain traps they had set up, expecting them to slow the army’s progress if nothing else, but it appeared they were barely accomplishing that. If the ever-dimming silhouettes were anything to go on, it was clear that the Giants that marched alongside the advancing force were leading the way; shrugging off the effects of the traps that they were tasked with activating.

From a wide balcony located halfway up the Ministry’s main structure, there was little that Harry, Naomi, Tyrus and Berkoff could not see. Although they had done all they could to seal off and man all of the six courtyards, Harry’s nerves were tested when he turned his attention away from the western side and towards the east. What looked like an ever increasing pitch black shadow was crawling its way towards them, the last of the light from the setting sun apparently unaffecting it.

“Dementors,” Berkoff growled, his rough face as pale as paper.

“Give the signal for all sides to be ready to cast a Patronus on my signal.” Harry ordered, pocketing the continuously burning Galleon and eyeing the advancement of the shadow carefully. Clearly they could only advance as far as the next enchanted barrier before waiting for their western counterparts to be rid of it.

Berkoff didn’t respond but instead lit the tip of his wand so that it glowed a brilliant silver before waving it at those below.
At once Harry heard loud orders being given and a number of fighters raising their wands in anticipation. But even this order, it seemed, proved to be premature. For over an hour the defenders of the Ministry waited, doing nothing more than slowing their attackers down by re-activating disenchanted spells. Eventually though their air-space was crowded with hundreds of Dementors swooping overhead as they prepared to strike the moment the final enchantment was taken down.

Although the darkness forbad the Ministry’s inhabitants from seeing the Wizards, Witches and Giants that were at their doorstep, Harry knew that they would be as close as possible to the final enchantment’s boundaries just beyond the bridges and paths that led to the Ministry.

Harry raised his wand alongside Tyrus and Naomi as he strained his eyes on the surrounding creatures. Although their outlines were somewhat fuzzy to his eyes, he noticed that they were becoming clearer by the second.

“Now!” Harry ordered and as soon as Berkoof’s wand gave off a second glow of silver light a chant of “Expecto Patronum” rang throughout the Russian Ministry. The moment the final defensive barrier gave way the Dementors attacked and swooped down upon them. The majority of them however were countered by over three-dozen silver animals charging back at them.

Harry watched as his stag Patronus ran beside Naomi’s robin, Tyrus’ bumblebee and many others towards the cloaked horde and scatter them.
Berkoff howled jubilantly as the Dementors flailed around in an attempt to find an opening in the light being cast by the silver stampede.

His laughs died down however when a loud cry came from one of the western courtyards. “They have a visual!” Berkoff translated as he strained his eyes to look. When Harry turned he could see the bulk of the twin’s army start their way down the nearest bridge as they began firing spell towards the Aurors posted atop the wall of the courtyard.

“What are you waiting for? Bring it down!” Naomi pressed as they watched an Auror being thrown violently from the battlements and fall towards the base of the mountain.

“Not yet!” Berkoff snapped as he watched the advancing crowd closely.

“He’s right Naomi.” Harry said darkly before she could retort.
One of the three giants the Bowton’s had brought joined the charge and ran with a booming howl towards courtyard’s gates; armed with the trunk of a tree in each hand.

“Now.” Berkoff purred with a malicious grin as he raised his wand. A jet of bright orange light burst from the tip and zoomed towards the occupied bridge. The duel-wielding Giant had just reached the halfway point when the spell struck one of the supports. At once the entire structure appeared to turn to dust, smoke and flame so devastating was the resulting blast, sending every man, woman and Giant that survived the detonation into the valley miles below.

There was an echoing cheer from the Aurors below though Harry watched as the rest of the western force began making their way via one of the paths; a second Giant leading the way.

“They’re focussing their strength!” Harry called to Berkoff. “You need to get every Auror in the western courtyards to meet them when they arrive.”
Berkoff nodded his agreement and had just sent the signal by showering the courtyard all Aurors in sight should report to with red sparks, when Harry noticed several somthings in the air that were neither Dementor nor Patronus.
“Flyers!” Harry bellowed and, with a wave of the Elder Wand, he sent a flash of yellow light into the air and in the direction of the airborne foe. At once, from what seemed like miles above them, their own air-support flew out from the Ministry and clashed, mid-air, with their counterparts. Harry could see, through the swirl of Dementors and Patronus’, bolts of light flashing above them like lightening as the fighting in the skies began.

“There are more on our nine!” Tyrus growled as she pointed them out. Harry cursed to himself as he spotted them zooming over the smaller horde that were travelling up the eastern path.

“They’re coming for us.” Harry realised as he noticed their swerving of the Auror-filled courtyards.

“Ve’ll have to face them den!” Berkoff roared as he sent a curse at the incomers.

“He’s right.” Naomi said, indicating the Russian and Mongolian fighters above them. “We can’t afford to draw any of them away from that first lot, they’ll be overwhelmed.”

Harry drew a deep breath before aiming his wand and murmuring “Agreed.” And a flash of red light flashed towards the oncoming flyers and struck one of their brooms, sending the flyer down into one of the courtyards as he struggled to keep control of his burning broom and leaving only six attackers left flying.

“Inside! Now!” Harry ordered as spells began raining upon them. They had just sprinted into the corridor within when there was a bomb-like explosion from behind them, knocking all four of them to the floor. When Harry turned he saw that the balcony they had commanded from had been turned to smouldering rubble, leaving a large hole in the wall.
He’d just helped Berkoff to his feet when the six flyers flew in through this new entrance and landed with their wands raised and their brooms abandoned.

Time seemed to freeze as Harry took in the four Wizards and two Witches before the two sides charged. As spells began flying everywhere, Harry ducked a Killing Curse before striking one of the Wizards down with a stunner.
One of the Witches, a dark-skinned stick figure of a woman, then lunged for him and sent a curse that missed his head by an inch. As he retorted with a counter-jinx, Harry noticed a spurt of scarlet splash the walls, though who it belonged to he couldn’t see for his own opponent had deflected his counter and had gone back on the offensive. Harry was forced to block and deflect more than a dozen subsequent hexes and curses. Despite her size and stature, Harry had to admit, she was a quick one.
Harry spun out of the way of her next curse and he felt his heart settle as he spotted Naomi, apparently uninjured, finish off her own challenger with a flash of white light that sent the man into the air with such force he collided with and cracked the ceiling. But Harry soon realised that this mere moment of distraction had cost him as he felt the woman tackle into him. Her sharp, bony shoulder digging painfully into Harry’s chest, the two burst through the door of an adjacent office. Harry felt himself slam onto the floor, the woman pinning him down by holding his wand arm down with her own and restraining his other hand with her knee.

She gave him an unpleasant smile as her wand-free hand delved into the pocket of her robes and drew out a short knife. The moment Harry saw the blade, he forced his body to kick upwards and slammed his knee into the woman’s back. She toppled off of him with a grunt of pain as Harry began to re-aim his wand. There was a flash of red light but his target leaped out of the way and behind the desk of the office.
Harry heard a shriek of “Reducto!” from her and had to duck back down to the ground in order to avoid the desk hurtling at him. Harry saw the woman spring back up just in time to roll out of the way of her next two curses, each of which left large scorch marks in the carpet, before getting a spell in himself. Harry swore as he missed again and hit instead the stain-glass window, smashing it to pieces.
He had just gotten himself off the floor when there was a wail of “Crucio!” and Harry felt himself being lifted off of his feet and into the wall; a sharp, burning pain encasing his entire body as he fell.

The woman panted as she advanced on him, her curse still holding Harry down. Harry looked up and noticed that several tiny shards of the window’s glass had fallen onto the carpet behind her. If he could aim his wand just right…

“Oh, I’m going to enjoy this.” The woman said in a shrill voice.

“Really? Me too.” Harry retorted through gritted teeth as he forced his arm to battle against the pain and aim at the glass shards scattered around them.
At once half-a-dozen of them flew upwards and sliced into the face of Harry’s target. The woman’s recoil from the pain and distraction from her curse was all Harry needed to spring back up off the floor and the pair re-aimed their wands.

There was a colossal, ear-splitting boom and ferocious fiery heat-wave as the wall directly behind the woman exploded. Harry instinctively shielded his head and eyes from the blast and felt himself being pelted with large stony debris as he was thrown back to the floor. It was several seconds before Harry moved his arms away from his view, his ears still ringing and his flesh frozen, and saw a gaping hole where the woman once stood.

“Harry!” He heard in a muffled sound from the corridor. “Harry!”

Harry pushed himself up and saw Naomi burst through the door to the now destroyed office.
“Oh thank Merlin!” She said as she ran to help him to his feet. “Harry, it’s Berkoff. He’s hurt!”

The two ran back through the door and Harry found himself standing amongst the unconscious and dead figures of the remaining flyers with Berkoff sat up against the wall; a copious amount of blood streaming from his stomach. Tyrus was still fighting the last of their attackers at the end of the corridor, the flashes of light being conjured from their wands blinding anyone who even chanced a glance.

Both Harry and Naomi ran to Berkoff’s aid as a tremor shook the entire building. Harry forced the injured man’s hand away from his wound and began grazing the deep gash with the tip of his wand.

“Bastard just caught me,” Berkoff growled as he indicated the nearest corps. “But I vas able to return the favour.”

There was a flash of green light from the end of the corridor that stole Harry’s attention away from Berkoff but was eased somewhat at the sight of Tyrus being the one walking away from the fight.
As the open gash on Berkoff’s stomach became a fresh scar, Harry heard Tyrus call out “You guys are going to want to see the western front!”

Harry helped Berkoff back to his feet before the two walked over to the office sized hole in the wall. The sight punched the wind from Harry’s stomach. He had been right to refocus their fighters for the Bowton’s army was piling into a single courtyard in an attempt to flood out the defenders. Jets of coloured lights were flying in all directions but while the Ministry’s forces were keeping them at bay, their numbers were slowly but surely dwindling and the Giant, now swooping his club-like arm at the wall-stationed Aurors, was not helping matters. Dementors were still swooping overhead amongst the flyers of both sides, still trying to evade the pulsating light of the Patronus’ and find a way through to their prey.

“They need help.” Naomi said as she joined in overlooking the scene.

“How’re the Eastern courtyards holding up?” Harry asked Tyrus, who was watching from what remained of the balcony.

“Obar and his men seem to be holding them!” Tyrus cried out. “They’ve got a Giant attacking their line too but it doesn’t seem to be doing as good a job as that other beast.

“Come!” Berkoff commanded. “We head for de Vestern courtyard. If dats vere de bulk of their army is, den dats vere ve vill find these Bowton twins!”

Although Harry could not fault the logic, the idea of taking an injured Berkoff and the Supreme Mugwump into the thick of the battle was not what he had in mind.
“Me and Tyrus will head down.” Harry began. “Naomi, take Berkoff to the second floor balcony and help him command from there, the view’s not as good but-”

“No, if these fools think dat they can march on my Ministry and attack my people-” Berkoff started but, to Harry’s surprise, he was cut off by Naomi.

“Berkoff, Harry’s right. They need backup but they need someone watching overhead too.”
Berkoff looked as though he was about to retort when it was clear the soreness from his recent injury stopped him from doing so.

“Fine.” He said before glowering at Harry. “But make sure my Ministry stands.”

Harry gave a sharp nod before calling Tyrus over to follow him. The two raced over to the lifts, praying that they would still work as Harry slammed the button that would take them to the ground floor.
The doors slid closed before being shaken by a second more violent tremor.

“Does Berkoff know about Naomi?” Tyrus asked as the lift began to fall.

Harry nodded. “I asked Chingis to tell him about it before he left.”

“Oh good.” Tyrus said as she braced herself for the doors to open. “So long as I can die with a clear conscience.”

The moment the thick silver door opened up for them, the two rushed out and pelted through the ornate stone-walled corridor for the western courtyard. Harry waved his wand as they ran and the heavy oaken doors before them creaked open just enough for them both to slip through.

Utter chaos unfurled itself before them. Wizards and Witches from both sides were running in every direction, barking orders and advice as they sent off hexes and curses at one another. The breachers had also succeeded in getting some of their fighters atop the wall surrounding the courtyard as Aurors battled against them and the towering Giant in an attempt to retake the surrounding structure.
However, the far left-hand corner of the yard where the mountain led path began was where the main bulk of the fight was being fought. Ministry fighters were attempting to block the flow of intruders while the invading army continued to pour in as they diminished the line of Aurors bit by bit.

As the pair ran down the stone steps, they were each set upon by those who had made it past the wall of Aurors. Harry deflected his attacker’s hex and sent it zooming off to join the other stray spells that lit the dark sky above them.
Stupify!” Harry cried and his target was struck by a jet of bright red light that sent him hurtling back down stairs.

“Potter!” Cried a voice that made Harry jump to aim his wand only to find himself aiming at Alexei, his robes and fake-arm covered in dirt and blood. “Vat happened? Vere’s Berkoff?”

“Heading to the second floor balcony!” Harry answered as he ducked a bolt of white light. “They’re going to take command from there!”

“Fuck dem commanding!” Alexei bellowed. “Ve need to retake the wall and push dem back!”

Harry nodded as he rescanned the scene. “Rally as many Aurors as you can!” He ordered. “Me and Tyrus will see to the Giant while you charge up there and clear them out!”

“Oh will we now?” Tyrus bellowed as she struck down her own attacker with a jet of green light.

“Yes, now move!” Harry cried and he and Tyrus charged at the towering, pale-skinned beast while Alexei called over a number of Aurors to his side.

Harry sent a curse that slammed into the side of the Giant’s oval shaped head. Immediately enraged, the Giant turned to find the source of the attack and saw the two bite-sized figures charging at it.
It knelt down to pick up a stone pillar that had once helped support the wall of the courtyard and swung it at the pair. Tyrus conjured a Shield Charm in time to take the blow while Harry waved his own weapon and shot a flash of purple light at the Giant’s hand. With a wail of pain the beast dropped the pillar making it fall and crumble to the floor.

Now unarmed, the Giant instead chose to swing one of its man-sized fists at Harry who was now the one forced to cast a shield.
Tyrus had raised her wand, ready to strike when there was a loud cry of “No!”

Tyrus barely had time to react as one of the intruders slashed his wand at her. A spurt of scarlet burst from the shoulder of her wand arm though this didn’t stop her from countering the attack.
As Tyrus fought off her attacker, Harry was left dodging and blocking the Giant’s enraged flails. After diving out of the way of a kick and landing on his side on the hard, stony ground, Harry took his chance and fired a Reductor Curse at the beast. The spell caught the Giant squarely in the face forcing it to recoil as though someone had punched it in the nose.

As the Giant clenched its now bleeding face Harry noticed Tyrus blast her own bloodied opponent through the air and into the wall.
“Tyrus!” Harry bellowed as she turned to look for him. “Reductor Curses! Now!”

She spun to see the Giant’s weakened state and nodded when she re-caught Harry’s eye. As the pair aimed their wands, they shouted “Reducto!” and two shining jets of white lights burst from their wands and into the chest of the wailing Giant.
There was a brief second when the two spells swirled upon their collision before there was a sound like cannon-fire and the Giant was carried off its feet.
The fighters directly behind scattered out of the way to avoid being crushed by the brute as it fell back down to the ground with an earth-shaking crash. Although its stomach still rose and fell with every breath, it was clear the Giant was now down for the count.

Harry heard several victorious yells and turned to see Alexei with over a dozen others climb the spiral stone steps to the top of the wall and charge.

“Come on!” Harry called to Tyrus as he indicated the stone stairs that led to the opposite side of the wall. The two sprinted and climbed before joining the fray that had been taking place above them.

However, before either of them could even cast a single hex, there was a shower of golden sparks from down the mountain path that crackled throughout the air and a voice from the opposing side shrieked “Fall back!”
Immediately, those that had made their way to fight the Aurors on the wall obeyed and pelted their way back towards the path; some even going as far as taking the risk of leaping off the side. Harry, Tyrus and the rest of the wall-positioned Aurors fired after them, striking a good number of them down. Harry noticed that Alexei and his squadron too were giving chase and firing down on those who still remained in the courtyard and the even mountain path.

Harry couldn’t help but smile to himself. Was this it? Had they done it? Had they beat them back?

There was a loud cheer amongst the defenders as the last of their attackers scattered from the courtyard and towards the nearby mountain where it appeared they were regrouping. Even what remained of the twin’s flyers had taken the signal to heart as they swooped back to re-join their ground force.

“Potter!” Cried a jubilant Alexei as he ran all the way around the courtyard’s wall to embrace Harry in a one armed hug. “Dat vas incredible!”

Harry couldn’t help but laugh. “Alexei, where’s your arm gone?” He asked, indicating the stump halfway down the man’s arm.

Alexie bawled with laughter. “Damn thing vas getting in da vay so I threw it at them! Got one of dem right in de head!”

“We could strike them.” Tyrus mused as she watched the regrouping. “They won’t expect a counterattack.”

“No,” Harry answered with Alexei’s remaining arm still wrapped around his shoulders. “That’ll take us out into the open. Give the order to-”

A deafening roar echoed throughout the mountains. As one, the Aurors within the courtyard turned towards the direction of the source and Harry’s heart froze as they spotted the shadowy outlines of two Dragons.

“Well that explains the retreat.” Tyrus said dryly as she stared at the figures.

“Alexei,” Harry commanded to the wide-eyed Auror.

“Dere are… two of dem…” Alexei breathed in disbelief.

“Alexei, you need to remind everyone to aim for the rider or the visor over their eyes!” Harry pressed, physically grabbing the Head Auror to snap his focus back to the fight. “And give the order to prepare for Shield Charms!”

Alexei nodded though it seemed to take him a few attempts to clear his throat before translating Harry’s order to the others. At once every wand in the courtyard was now aiming up at the approaching figures.
Harry looked up towards the Ministry and saw that Naomi and Berkoff too had noticed the new incomers.

Once they were close enough, Harry recognised the beasts as Peruvian Vipertooths; copper-coloured, a golden visor concealing their eyes and each the size of a Giant. This time however, Harry did not have an angry mother-Dragon that was twice their size on his side to help fight them off with.

Once they were in range, both beasts opened their wide mouths and let loose a stream of fire. Alexei bellowed a command and every man and woman cried out “Protego!”
A thick transparent shield sheltered the courtyard and took the full blast of the fiery streams as the Dragons swooped over them. One of the Dragon-riders however waved his wand at the shield, his other hand gripped tightly on the reins of his beast, and appeared to make a weak point in the barrier.

Harry, Tyrus and Alexei watched in horror as the Dragon let loose a second stream of flame that broke through the shield and rained over the side of the wall that guarded the mountain path. The combined heat of the flame and the force with which it had been hurled blasted the stone wall to pieces, engulfing all of those that had not been quick enough to flee.

The three of them hurried over to the scene to help the survivors. “Vere the hell are our flyers?” Alexei shouted over the cries of pain and distress of those that had survived the assault. However Harry couldn’t blame the assigned squadron for rethinking their plan to take on twice the Dragons they were expecting.

The rest of the courtyard’s defenders wasted no time in recasting their Shield Charms just before the pair opened their mouths for another fire blast.
As he fixed the dislocated shoulder of an Auror that had jumped the wall just in time, Harry watched as the flames collided with the new shield. He was just about to try and get an aim on one of the riders when both Dragons reared mid-air and flew off. Looking around Harry noticed that the flyers had finally joined the fray and were descending on the Dragons.

One of the Dragons sent a jet of flame at the twelve-man group that, after catching the tail-end of a broom turned them into eleven. The flyers were quick to retaliate though as they swarmed around the beast, curses rebounding off into the distance whenever they collided with the scales.
The second Dragon-rider seemed to have noticed this and hauled his reins to redirect his steed. Within moments the second Dragon was upon the flyers.

“Potter!” Tyrus shouted and Harry turned away from the action to see Tyrus pointing upwards. Looking up, Harry saw at least a hundred Dementors giving up on trying to get through to the Ministry and make their way towards the flyers.
Both Harry and Tyrus pointed their wands at the horde as one flyer was overcome by the draining power of the advancing creatures and lost grip of his broom. There was a collective gasp as the figure tumbled through the air though Harry’s focus was elsewhere.

At once there was an explosive shockwave of silver light as Harry’s stag and Tyrus’ bumblebee Patronus soared onto the scene from behind the Ministry. The pair ran through the horde and scattered them away from the fight against the Dragons.

When Harry next looked, they had lost three more flyers. He was about to command Alexei to give a retreat order when a streak of white light struck one the riders in the chest. As he recoiled in pain from the spell, the rider tugged hard on the reins making the Dragon roll backward without question.
There was a loud cheer as the Vipertooth dived head first into one of the northern mountains with an echoing boom. This now left seven flyers to deal with the last Dragon, though it was clear that this was the more skilled out of the two for the rider weaved his beast without fault in Harry’s opinion out of the way of any curse or hex.

“Looks like dey’re getting ready for another try!” Alexei cried out as he looked over the regrouped ground force of the twin’s army.

Harry looked desperately at the pile of smouldering rubble that had been their main defence against breachers. “Reform the line!” Harry ordered. “You’ll just have to make do with what’s left standing. Hold them for as long as you can but should they start to overwhelm you…” Harry took in a deep breath as he second guessed his next command. “Let them in.”

Alexei stared at Harry. “Let them…”

“Let them in. Yes.” And Harry pointed up towards the remaining Dragon. “As deadly as that thing is, they’re not going to order it to breath fire on their own fighters. It’s not worth our Auror’s lives to hold a formation that won’t last.”

“So ve’ll meet dem in de open!” Alexei said, catching on. “Very well!”

As Alexei turned to rearrange what was left of their defences, Harry groaned as he watched another two flyers were immersed in flame while the remaining five struggled to catch the Dragon’s rider off guard.

Harry looked up again and saw Naomi and Berkoff taking in every movement of both Dragon and flyer. The pair then winced and Harry snapped his head back to see another flyer spiralling towards the ground on half a broom. Harry stared at the remaining flyers. Was four enough to take down one Dragon? He then noticed that the Dragon rider was flying further and further away until within mere moments it appeared as nothing more than a tiny shadowy figure with four rather annoying flies buzzing around it.

“Alexei!” Harry bellowed once the rider’s plan had reached him. “It’s preparing for another swoop around!”

Alexei spun around to see for himself before ordering a number of men and women to Harry’s side. “Cast another shield!” He ordered before turning his attention back to the advancing army.

Obediently, Harry led the others in raising their wands in preparation for the Dragon hurtling towards them so quickly now that the flyers pursuing it were struggling to keep up.
There was a chorus of “Protego” as a stream of fire was let loose on them. The shield was just enough to protect the courtyard as the Dragon zoomed overhead shortly followed by its remaining attackers.

Harry heard Alexei bellow out something in a language he could not understand and turned to see that he was ordering the Aurors to fall back and regroup.
Harry’s heart sank and his blood turned cold as he ran to join the defenders just as the opposing army ran over the top of what was once a wall, flood into the courtyard and charge at them.

The Aurors opened fire and sent a volley of hexes and curses at their attackers, taking out the first few lines, but within moments the two sides clashed.
Harry slashed his wand and sent one man flying backwards into two others before cursing a woman who had just killed an Auror.
Tyrus was duelling fiercely with another Witch; both of them spinning around each other so quickly it was a difficult for those wanting to assist to interfere.
Alexei was fighting his way through in an attempt to join what few Aurors were left on the wall and raining down spells on the breaching army.

After avoiding a Killing Curse, Harry hit its caster with a Stunner that made the man crumple to the ground. He attempted to scan the chaos in the hope of spotting either of the Bowton twins, but it was no good. There were so many men and women fighting around him, so many crashes, bangs and cries that it was near impossible to focus on anything but on who was trying to kill you.

Meeting eyes with a second opponent, Harry ran at him and began relentlessly slashing his wand and sending curse and curse at the breacher. It was all the man could do to protect himself when a large enchanted chunk of what had once been the wall slammed into him from the side and carried him off.

“Potter!” A voice cried out and before Harry knew he had been tackled to the ground from the side. Rolling to see his attacker, he saw the man’s crazed look of glee as he aimed for Harry’s head. Instinctively, Harry backhanded the man’s wand, ruining his aim and causing the curse to strike the ground right next to Harry’s head with a bang that stung Harry’s eardrums. Not daring to be down for too long, Harry forced himself up and head-butted his assailant in the face before readying his own wand for a curse.

Petrificus Totalus!” His attacker, still reeling from the assault on his now broken nose, suddenly froze on top of him and the man’s arms and legs snapped shut.
Harry pushed the frozen Wizard off of him and looked around in time to see an Auror land from sky before him, the broom she had been on landing some feet away.

His mind failing to gain a grasp of what was happening amongst the chaos, Harry threw caution to the wind and wasted no time in continuing his offensive streak. Clearly survival wasn’t a matter of skill, but of blind luck.

After ducking a stray curse that then struck down an enemy Witch, Harry aimed at a nearby pair that was overpowering an Auror. There was a flash of purple light and one of the two was sent hurtling behind a tight crowd of fighters but the Auror was struck by a bolt of dark-red light from his second foe.

Stupify!” Harry shouted though he could barely hear himself over the shouts and bangs. His spell missed and before Harry knew it the Auror-killer had turned and began sending a volley of hexes at him. Harry deflected one of the many varying attacks causing the man to be struck in the shoulder by his own spell. To Harry’s surprise, the man kept his footing and retaliated with a counter-curse that Harry then had to side-step to avoid, however as he did so something soft caught his foot and tripped him.
After hitting the ground Harry noticed that it had been the body of an Auror that had caused his fall.

Not daring to waste any time, Harry re-aimed his wand to find his attacker bearing down on him. The man had just began to mouth his incantation when a flash of green light silenced him. As the man fell, he revealed Tyrus, blood stained and panting, standing behind him.

“How long do you think we can keep this up?” Tyrus asked as she helped a panting Harry back to his feet, her previous opponent lying face down some feet away from them.

Harry didn’t answer. He didn’t want to. All that was on his mind was fighting; fighting off every last member of Bowton’s army right down to the last. Although the Aurors were currently outnumbered, the gap wasn’t so large that they couldn’t pull it off. They had the more skilled fighters, they still held the better vantage points, they had-

An unnaturally strong gust of wind washed over the fighters and broke Harry’s train of thought. He turned and, with his heart sinking to his stomach, saw the remaining Dragon slowly descending on Alexei and the rest of the wall-stationed Aurors; the flyers that were tasked with its defeat nowhere to be seen.

“To the wall.” Harry ordered Tyrus. “To the wall, now!” And the two began their way to Alexei’s aid, but with every other step they took they were forced to deal with another attacker.

Although it was clear that the Dragon’s rider dare not let loose another stream of fire so close to his allies, he was more than happy to let his beast snap at all those nearby with a mouth full of spikey, green-tipped teeth. Again and again Alexei and his men deflected and dodged the snaps but not a single one of them could get a clear shot on the rider.

After putting an Incarcerous curse on his sixth assailant, Harry looked up in time to see the rider grow impatient with the persistent Aurors and rear his Dragon back into the air. But before Harry could even begin to predict his next move, the rider forced his steed to spin around with a hard tug of his reigns. There was a sound of something large and thick cutting through the air and then a loud, explosive crash.

Every single man and woman that had been on top of the wall flew through the air as the Dragon’s tail tore into the rampart like a wrecking ball. As stone and Aurors rained down upon the fighters, Harry saw Alexei slam into the ground no more than a few yards away.

“Alexei!” Harry cried as he attempted to reach the man now trying to push himself up with his remaining arm. “Alex-” He began again as he broke free from the bulk of fighters but a second powerful gust of wind blew Harry off his feet. After landing hard on his back, he felt the ground beneath him quake. Harry lifted his heavy head to see the Dragon standing before him, its large, clawed foot atop the now motionless figure of Alexei.

Ice cold fear stuck Harry to his core. Instinctively, he raised his wand but a hex had already slammed into the side of the Dragon’s head. The thick golden visor concealing its eyes loosened at its hinge where the leathery strap kept it bound to the beast’s head.
“No! No! No!” The rider shrieked as he pulled the reigns and brought the Dragon into the air again. “Repairo! Repairo!”

Harry looked around to see Tyrus running towards him. “It won’t keep it off us long if he fixes the visor!” She shouted over the battle. “That little stunt it pulled hasn’t half fucked us!”

“I know!” Harry shouted back, his eyes transfixed on Alexei’s body. “We’ll retreat to the Eastern Courtyard. If we can clear that side out, we might be able to regroup.”

Tyrus nodded before helping Harry up to his feet. “They’re gona charge after us.” She said.

“Put as many obstacles between you as possible. Give the Aurors time to do their job once they reach the other courtyard.”

“And where exactly will you be?” She pressed.

“Someone needs to get Naomi and Berkoff.” Harry answered, catching Tyrus’ eye. “Now, move!” Harry commanded and the two sprang into action. Tyrus sent up the yellow sparks to signal the rest of the Aurors to retreat while Harry sprinted towards the Ministry.
Hexing and cursing as many as he could while he moved, Harry ran up the stone steps and slashed his wand to open the doors.

It was eerily quiet within the Russian Ministry, as though the building itself was gracing a moment of silence to its fallen Head Auror.
Wasting no time Harry ran towards the lifts only to find them dead on his arrival. Swearing loudly, he ran around the nearest corner and made his way up the stairs.

After sprinting up what felt like a hundred flights, Harry reached the second floor passageway. He was just about to continue his speedy pace when he heard footsteps from behind a nearby corner.

“Who goes there?” He bellowed, his wand raised and ready to fight.

“Harry?” Naomi and Berkoff ran from behind the corner. “Harry, what the hell happened down there?”

“That Dragon got the better of us.” Harry admitted bitterly. “Alexei’s dead.”

Berkoff’s face twisted in anger. “What’s the plan?” He growled, readying his own wand.

“I’ve sent Tyrus to lead a retreat from the Western Courtyard and to clear out the main Eastern one. If we can regroup our full strength…” Harry tailed off, half terrified that explaining what would happen next would cut off his own confidence from the idea, let alone Berkoff’s.

But the Russian Head nodded. “Den we best go help dem.” He stated and he indicated for the two to follow.
Harry was about to hold Naomi back but there was a tremor that shook the entire building and she slipped away down the flight of steps besides Berkoff.

“Naomi!” He called as he ran after her down the stairs. “Naomi, wait!” He cried when he caught up on the first floor but before he could do anything else, there was a loud bang and the wall behind them was blown apart to allow three broom riders to swarm in.

Stupify!” Harry and Naomi shouted and the two spells collided into the man at the head of the group, sending him hurtling back through the hole.
The remaining two swooped around the pair and began raining down hexes as they flew around them.
Forced to stand back-to-back, Harry and Naomi parried and deflected every spell that was sent at them. After deflecting a curse aimed at him, Harry noticed it collide with the pale ceiling above them and crack it severely.

“Naomi-” He began but was cut off by a hex that zoomed passed his ear.

“I see it!” Naomi cried as she span around to aim her wand upwards. There was a flash of white light and a second loud bang and the ceiling collapsed.

Protego!” Harry bellowed and a thick transparent barrier appeared above the two Aurors, protecting them from the falling debris. The two flyers however were not so lucky as the cascade of rubble dragged them to the ground and buried them.

“Come on!” Naomi ordered as she continued her way down the stairs.

“Naomi, wait!” Harry called after her as he resumed his pursuit of her.
They had just reached the ground floor, retreating Aurors rushing past them as they made for the Eastern Courtyard, when Harry finally gripped hold of the shoulder of her robes.

“What?” She asked testily as she spun around.

Harry was about to explain when he noticed the now empty space on the breast of her green battle-robes. “Naomi, where’s your medal?” He asked urgently, his heart tripling in beats.

“My medal?” Naomi asked in a tone that Harry did not like. “Oh, you mean my Portkey?”

Naomi glowered at Harry. “Look, I know you’re an-”

“How dare you!” She spat before he could finish. “I volunteer to help you and fight with you and then you lie to me when you accept?”

“There’s no time to argue Naomi, you’re too valuable!” Harry snapped.

He was about to continue when a canon like explosion from the opposite side of the building resonated throughout the dark corridor shortly followed by shrieks of jubilation that Harry could tell were not coming from Aurors.
“Move!” Harry bellowed and he, Naomi and the remaining Aurors pelted their way towards the eastern courtyard.

Harry saw Tyrus and two others manning the heavy open doors and immediately began waving to them. “Prepare to bolt them!” He commanded and they acted without question.
Harry and the others sprinted through the closing doors like runners past a finishing line though, instead of another battle, Harry found himself in courtyard completely empty of all but Aurors.
This courtyard at least had all of its walls still standing though large craters were dotted around the place and the rows of trees that once lined the walls were now either toppled or a smouldering heap. The dead from both sides were being moved and lined up against the wall, out of the way from where any more fighting would take place.

“I see you were able to clear them out this side.” Harry commented as he looked over the remainder of their force. Out of their entire army less than seventy men and women now stood before him with the majority looking tired, worn and sporting heavy injuries.

“They ran off the moment they saw us coming, Giant and all.” Tyrus explained as she pointed towards the oaken doors on the opposite side of the courtyard. “We were able to seal them out but…” And she indicated the airspace above them. Harry looked up to see the swarm of Dementors swirling above them with Harry, Naomi and Tyrus’ Patronus’ now the only things keeping them at bay.

“We’re surrounded.” Harry finished as he, Tyrus and Naomi climbed the stairs down to join the rest of the force.

“Potter,” Berkoff snarled. “Please tell me you have a plan.”

Harry stared at the man though he could feel the eye of every other person in the courtyard upon him.
“We…” Harry began dryly. “We charge the smaller force when they mount their attack. Order every Witch and Wizard to make for the mountains and Apparate to safety.”

Tyrus nodded and began spreading the word to the rest of the Aurors but it appeared Berkoff disagreed.
“I vill not abandon my Ministry.” He hissed.

“Then you can stay here and die.” Harry snapped back in equal volume. “But these people have given too much to deserve that.”

“Defenders of the Russian Ministry of Magic!” A nasally voice rang out from within the Ministry building. “I have to admit, you have put up a much better fight than I was expecting. I certainly never imagined myself calling upon two of Cecilia’s Dragons to assist us.”

“Cade.” Harry growled in answer to Berkoff’s questioning look.

“But the battle is won!” The man continued and there were cries of victory from behind both sealed doors. “I now speak to the highest ranking of your member who has survived. Come forward, don’t be shy, and announce yourself.”

There were more cries of laughter as Berkoff stepped up and placed his wand to his throat. “My name is Berkoff Vadim,” He said, his magically enhanced voice ringing throughout the mountains. “Head of de Russian Ministry’s Department of Magical Law Enforcement and standing Minister for Magic.”

“Mr Vadim,” Cade taunted in a mock-impressed voice. “Well, my name is Cade Bowton, Head of the British Ministry’s Auror Office and leader of the impressive army currently surrounding you.” There was a third cheer at Cade’s words before he continued “Tell me, Berkoff Vadim, how would you like your remaining fighters to live?”
A bitter chill followed this question that Harry feared had nothing to do with the Dementors above them.
“You see I’m told that both Harry Potter and the Supreme Mugwump herself are currently by your side. I’m sure you can see where this is going, it’s very simple. Hand them both over and unarm your fighters and I will stand my men down in order for you and your Aurors to leave this place.”

Berkoff stared at the Ministry as though it were Cade himself. “If you are so confident in your impressive army, den vy not use it to take Potter yourself?”

“Oh I will,” Cade replied. “Should you refuse me. Believe me, I have no qualms about crushing the remainder of your little band of fighters but that would require putting more of my own men in harm’s way and, after already losing a good number of them, two Giants and a Dragon to you, I’m sure you can see why I’m eager not to diminish our forces even further. And if I gave the command to attack, I fear that there’s no guarantee that I’d get Potter and Pryce alive. ”

Harry stared as Berkoff breathed heavily in contemplation. “And how do I know you’ll keep your vord?” He asked after several moments of silence.
Harry looked around to see that every Auror was now staring at Berkoff with the exception of Tyrus who had moved protectively in front of Naomi.

Cade’s following laughter rang in the ears of every man and woman in the courtyard. “I tell you what, Vadim,” He began after calming down. “Agree to my terms and I will perform an Unbreakable Vow with you. Should any of my men attack yours without cause, I will die.”

For the first time, Berkoff’s eyes met Harry’s. He let off a wry smile before answering “Now vy would I vant dat? Dat just robs me of killing you myself.” A few laughs sprung out from amongst the crowding Aurors while nothing but silence came from their invaders.

“Very well then,” Cade replied sternly. “Attack!”

At once the doors to the courtyard began their ordeal as they took on every charm, curse and Giant punch that came at them.

“Naomi,” Harry urged as he rounded on her. “You need to leave.”

“He’s right, Supreme Mugvump,” Berkoff added as the surrounding Aurors readied their wands. “You have done more than vat should have been asked of you.”

“You’ve gone above and beyond with your position and I couldn’t be prouder of you for it, Naomi!” Harry pressed, advancing on her. “The Confederation needs you.”

“You’re right,” Naomi began in a croaked voice and she even advanced and consolingly placed a hand on Harry’s shoulder. “I was pretty good, wasn’t I?” A small sad smile crept onto her face. “But I’m not the one the Confederation needs, Harry.”

“Naomi, no!” Tyrus cried out.
Harry turned to see that she was staring at the place where Naomi had patted him. Craning his neck back, he saw the star shaped medal glistening on his shoulder. He spun back around as Naomi pointed her wand and had just begun to raise his own wand to deflect the oncoming Portus Charm, but it was too late.

An eruption of silver light illuminated the sky above them, scattering the swarm of Dementors to reveal an army of Wizards and Witches, over two-hundred strong, zooming on brooms towards the courtyard.
For most, it was the golden hemmed robes the incomers wore that identified who they were, but for Harry it was the two Wizards at the head of the horde. Bruno Calogero, shortly followed by Enzo Mulvenna, was waving his wand arm and yelling instructions to his fellow Aurors of the Italian Ministry.

The remaining Dragon swooped around the Ministry and was about to attack the unexpected reinforcements but it was clear the Italian Aurors had planned for this. The moment the Dragon reared it’s scally head, what must have been two-dozen flyers immediately moved to swarm the beast and began pelting both it and its rider with a vast combination of hexes and curses.

There were two simultaneous loud crashes as both the doors to the Ministry and the eastern mountain path were smashed open.
Both sides of Cade’s army flooded in and began charging at the remaining Ministry defenders when the Italians swooped in a perfect protective circle around the group, shielding them from all harm. Around and around they flew striking down a large number of the would-be attackers.

“Hanging in there, Harry?” Bruno yelled as he floated down the centre of the tornado of Aurors. “I hope you got my message!”

“Been a little distracted!” Harry replied, a smile forcing its way onto his face.

The third and final Giant roared at the new challengers and it was clear that it too was about to join the fray.
“Prepare to charge!” Harry ordered as he snapped his focus back to the fight and readied his wand. Berkoff translated the order and at once every remaining fighter was at the ready. “Bruno! Break the formation! Now!” Harry bellowed as the Giant ran towards the circling swarm.

Bruno gave a loud shout of an order and the formation of Italian Aurors broke and scattered allowing the remaining Russian and Mongolian fighters to charge back.
The rampaging Giant recoiled as it was suddenly bombarded with spells and fell over as a result, crushing nearly a dozen of his Wizard companions. The Dragon rider was attempting to flee but no matter which way he turned his beast it was clear he feared being left open and vulnerable. And he was right to be so as a jinx hit him squarely in the back. Although the rider was now incapacitated, the spells from his Italian pursuers continued to pound into both he and the Vipertooth as they fell into a nosedive into the canyon below and out of sight.

Harry, alongside Berkoff, Naomi and Tyrus, was caught in the centre of the battle, each of them fighting off attacker after attacker. Harry had just crippled his fifth opponent when he caught sight of a burly looking Wizard aiming at him. He deflected the resulting hex and was just about to retaliate when the honour was stolen by Enzo; who had led a group of his fellows to join the fight on the ground.
Enzo gave Harry his all too familiar child-like grin and a wink before throwing himself head first into the thick of the battle.

Harry laughed at the sight. He couldn’t help it so elated was he at the Italian’s arrival. But there was still one last thing left for Harry to do and, charging after Enzo into throng, his hunt for the Bowton twins began.

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