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Many thanks to Jormungandr, iLost, Voice of the Nephilim, in addition to all the guys on the WbA thread on DLP for your criticisms and advice. Also, thanks to Taure for the use of his spell 'Arcessio'. The main difference in this universe is that the Fidelius Charm never existed. Make of that what you will.

Disclaimer- Harry Potter does not belong to me.

Placing the well-worn glass tumbler down upon the windowsill, a ring of amber clinging to the bottom, Harry James Potter turned away from the rugged landscape outside and moved towards his nearby desk. Catching sight of his reflection in the mirror, which was framed by a faded blue and bronze scarf, he frowned wearily.

The dark circles underneath his dulling green eyes were becoming more and more pronounced with each passing day, the increasingly pallid tone of his skin adding to the tired image before him.

Tracey, his wife, and Alice and Lily, two of his three daughters, were becoming progressively more worried about the amount of time that he had been spending shut up within his study recently - not that he was able to tell them what he was up to'. Thankfully Avery was at Hogwarts; she had always been the most inquisitive member of the family. All they knew was that his mysterious and lengthy disappearances into his study were due to increasing workloads piled onto him by the Ministry. He had never liked withholding things from them, but, hey, he didn’t write the law.

He sat at the desk, pulling the nearest sheet of parchment towards himself and noting the untidy scrawl. Unsurprisingly, Alan wanted something. In this case, it was Harry’s notes and research into the effects of age upon magical awareness. Why he needed it now, at eleven o'clock at night, was beyond him. Sighing, Harry stood, plucking a simple letter-opener from his desktop.

He quickly stabbed his index finger, before touching the digit to the keyhole of one of his desk’s lower drawers. The drawer made several clicking noises before snapping open. Harry drew his wand, Vanished the blood from the knife's tip, making sure none remained. He then tapped his finger with the wand's end, watching as the skin began to rapidly stretch over and heal the small wound.

Harry knelt at the open drawer, pulled it open fully and began to sift through the numerous files contained within.

‘Natural Magical Sources? No. Differing Properties of Muggle and Wizard Organs? Definitely not. Long-Term Psychological Effects of Dark Arts Use? No, and that needs returning. Ah, Magical Awareness and Age.’ He withdrew the folder from its place between the others, standing and placing it on the nearby tabletop.

Now turning, Harry took down a small urn from the mantelpiece.

“Incendio.”

Pointing his wand at the fireplace behind him, he conjured flames, which crackled cheerfully within the grate. Handling the pot, he grabbed a handful of the white powder it contained and tossed it into the fire. The familiar green blaze of an active Floo connection was the result.

He knelt down in front of the fireplace, after taking the folder and casting a Flame-Protection charm upon it.

Sticking his head into the fire, he called out, “Number thirty-three, Heircourt Way!”

Although he was somewhat used to the bizarre sensation of Floo travel, no one could ever become fully acclimated to it, and travelling by using only your head hardly made the experience better. With his head spinning in the acidic flames, he coughed slightly as the ash circled around his head, caught in the convection current.

With a sudden wave of coldness, Harry’s head arrived at its destination.

He was looking out of a fireplace not quite as elaborate as his own, and into a cosy, rustic-looking sitting room. A slender-framed girl with a head of blonde hair was facing away from him, sorting a stack of books into a bookcase on the far wall.

“Sally?” She jumped slightly. Turning towards the new arrival, she smiled kindly.

“Hello, Mr Potter. You’ll be wanting Dad, then?” Sally asked, her voice soft .

“If you wouldn’t mind,” Harry replied.

Sally nodded, bustling out of the room. In seconds, she had returned with Alan Croaker in tow, who immediately sat in an armchair close to the fire. He stood taller than average, at least six feet, with short, greying hair and a slight slouch in his stance. His daughter immediately left the room, knowing that she shouldn’t be within earshot of a conversation between Unspeakables.

“Harry, do you have the information I asked for?” The ex-Hit Wizard asked, scowling darkly.

With some effort, Harry pushed his arm through the Floo connection, carefully handing him the folder.

“Thanks. Is the whole set of notations in here?”

“Yes, Samantha’s controlled study and my personal notes,” Harry replied. He hadn’t missed Alan’s temperament upon entering the room. “Were you busy?”

He grimaced. “I was tying an Illumination charm to a vessel. When Sal interrupted, I accidentally shattered it. They’re not bloody cheap, either.”

Harry wasn’t fooled. As the Head Unspeakable, Croaker lived on a more than just a modest salary. “Well, if there’s nothing else-“ Harry began, thinking of his now aching knees.

“Actually, Marge has been badgering me to get you and the girls around for tea again.”

Harry nodded. “I’ll talk to Tracey about it.”

“And I need to reassign you and Herrick to the Magical Foci study, as of next week. Get the materials ready for-“

Suddenly, everything went black, and Croaker’s voice was immediately cut off. After a few moments of blind isolation, Harry was jolted forward into the abyss, all senses useless. He threw his arms to the sides, looking in vain for purchase. He fell into what felt like a funnel, his limbs forcefully contorting to fit, and suddenly, he was shot out of his fireplace.

The force of his exit propelled him into a filing cabinet near the bay window, his skull loudly slamming into the metal box. A loud squawk of protest was made by the owl standing upon its perch, next to the window.

“Damn it!” Harry growled, angrily climbing to his feet and massaging his throbbing head.

Just as he started to fathom the possible causes for his disconnection from the Floo network, he was filled with an intangible realisation that something was very, very wrong. Turning to the same filing cabinet that had nearly fractured his skull, Harry pulled on the handle of the second drawer down. It opened to reveal a showcase of gleaming black and white, gem-like stones, arranged in two circles, one within the other. A set of curious runes were carved in the centre of the inner circle.

Harry opened the drawer further in order to inspect the stones further back, and swore loudly.

One of the outer stones had cracked right down the middle.

“Fuck!” He muttered, looking over the remaining vessels for possible damage.

Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue; the protection vessels required replacing at least once a year anyway. But these stones had been replaced just short of three months ago – there was no innocent reason as to why they were malfunctioning in such a way. Harry strode over to the large, round looking-glass next to a bureau containing his other Dark detectors.

Looking into the Foe-Glass, he saw slightly blurred figures, obscured just enough that he couldn’t see their faces or any other recognisable details. He ran over to the largest window, looking out upon the lawn of the property. He could see nothing but the wet and dark night typical of Wales waiting outside, below a half-moon sailing across the star-sprayed sky.

Harry opened the nearby oak door, stepping out into the hallway. He moved quickly up the stairs, taking two at a time and tossing all dignity away. Reaching the next landing, he nearly tore off the handle of the nearest door in his hurry to open it. He shoved the door open, striding into the lamp-lit room ahead.

“Harry, what’s wrong?” Tracey said worriedly, a look of concern upon her pretty face. Standing up from her seat on the bed, she abandoned the photos she had been slotting into an album and slowly walked towards him. She was wearing a thin nightgown, which hugged her every curve, dip and contour.

“I think that there’s somebody trying to get onto the grounds.” Her eyes widened.

“But… how? Aren’t the protections-“

“They’re being tampered with. By who, I don’t know.”

Tracey bit her lip. “I’d better get the twins,” she said, taking one of his discarded jumpers from its place next to the laundry basket, and pulling it on.

“It’s just lucky that Avery’s at Hogwarts,” she muttered as she hurriedly left the room, unknowingly echoing his earlier thoughts, but for an entirely different reason.

Harry quickly followed, and the pair ran down the stairs and to the doors across the landing from Harry’s office. He went into the room on the left, whilst Tracey went right.

The room was almost pitch dark, lit only by the moon outside.

'Lumos,' White light radiated throughout the small room.

“Alice?” He called out, moving closer to the bed pushed against the far wall. He heard the rustling of bedsheets, and then-

“D-dad?” The black-haired girl asked as she sat up in bed, arm raised to shield her drowsy eyes from the light.

“Alice, you need to come with me. It’s very, very important.”

Rather than asking what was happening, as he had expected, Alice simply slid out of bed, stepping over to him. He grabbed her hand, pulling her out and away from the bedroom. Looking into Lily’s room, he saw Tracey trying to haul her out of bed.

“Come on, Lily!”

“Lily, get out of bed now!” Harry said forcefully. Lily, obviously not understanding the magnitude of the situation, slowly got out of her bed, scowling.

“It’s almost midnight!” She said loudly and disgruntledly, her tousled blonde hair falling across her face.

“Be quiet and follow your mother.” He ordered, voice hardening noticeably. Lily quickly ran over to where Tracey stood. He met Tracey’s eyes, gesturing towards where they both knew the Room was. Harry specifically had it built during the reconstruction of the Hollow years earlier for a situation like this and had Obliviated the architects and builders immediately upon its completion.

Not entirely legal, but perfectly practical.

She nodded slowly, pulling the girls back up the stairs. Harry jogged back to his office, pulling open the vessel drawer again. Two more stones had cracked, leaving just six on the outer ring.

“Damn. How are they getting through so quick?” he growled, grabbing a ball-point and parchment and writing down a short message.

Boot,

The Hollow is being attacked. Unknown number of hostiles and motives. Alert the proper authorities. If not possible, get here yourself. Remember fifth year? You still owe me.

HP

He folded the missive, and then tied it to the nearby owl’s leg.

“Go on, Vulpes – hurry!” Harry said nervously, as he opened the window. The eagle owl clicked its beak twice in acknowledgement, before spreading its wings and taking off. Harry leant back against his desk, relieved that the Hit Wizards would be on their way soon to take responsibility.

That feeling of relief was soon dealt a lethal blow, however, for not even a single minute had passed before Vulpes came swooping back in through the window, crashing into his perch, the plea for help still tightly bound to his leg.

“What the - ”

The owl hooted dolefully from its crash site on the floor, barely standing upright. Owl-Repelling charms!

Harry looked out onto the garden again. There were shadows moving within the tree-line of the nearby forest, but he could not make out anything of significance in regards to their features. It could be anyone; people attempted to abduct Unspeakables on a regular basis, eager to try and take possession of the many secrets and mysteries contained within their minds.

Wrapped up in his nervous thoughts, the sudden voice from behind startled him.

“Who are they?” Tracey – he should have known.

“I have no idea. Aren’t you supposed to be with the twins?” He asked shortly.

“I’m not just sitting on the sidelines.” She said determinedly.

Harry sighed heavily. “Just go. Stay with the twins. I can handle it, they’re unlikely to get through anyway.” It was a lie, of course, but he wanted her safe.

“No. I am not just going to leave you. They’re safe; I locked them in the Room.”

They locked eyes, green meeting brown in a silent argument. After a brief moment, Harry shook his head, smiling sadly. He looked back out to the trees, scrutinising them for any sign of the trespassers. A hooded figure suddenly shoved a branch to the side, and Harry saw something that he had wished would never resurface.

A bone-white mask, standing out from a figure's ebon cloak as he looked out from the cover of the trees.

Harry almost laughed. He should have expected them to try something like this today. Halloween, the date of Tom’s original defeat at his hands – albeit thirty years later. Reciprocation, no doubt. While he hadn’t been na├»ve enough to expect the Death Eaters to dissolve completely with Voldemort’s death, he also hadn’t expected an attack this organised.

“Death Eaters,” Harry hissed under his breath.

“What? Death Eaters? What are we going to do?” She whispered, a long shot from the cool, calm and collected Slytherin that he had known since third year. Harry understood, remembering what they had done to her father during their seventh year.

“I’m going to check on the ward damage, and you’re going to go upstairs and stay there.” He said, grasping her arm gently.

“I said no!” She yelled, furiously wresting her arm from his grip. “In case you’ve forgotten, I fought them thirteen years ago and I’m just as able now. I have just as much right to fight as you, Harry, I’m a grown woman!”

Harry sighed, looking away. Rather than answering, he sat on the desk and picked up a silver ruler from its place next to the rest of his stationery, pointing his wand at it.

“Portus.” He intoned clearly. Harry had been expecting the ruler to glow blue, but instead it glowed a deep, ominous red, before snapping cleanly in two. He angrily threw the half still in his hand at the far wall.

“What about the emergency Portkey?” Tracey asked hesitantly.

“What do you think?” He retorted irritably.

“This isn’t the time to throw a fucking tantrum, Harry!” she snarled.

He exhaled.  “It won’t work, but you’re welcome to try.” He said, Summoning a pendant from a circular table in the corner and tossing her it. She cast a revealing charm on it, to be rewarded with another red glow.

“Told you. Well? Any ideas?” Harry said.

“Have you tried to get a message out?” Harry nodded, frowning. She interpreted the action correctly, frowning herself.

Standing suddenly, Harry reached out for her shoulder. “Tracey, please stay upstairs. Someone needs to stay with the girls, and I’m the better dueller.”

Again their eyes met, his beseeching, pleading with hers to agree.  She nodded reluctantly, looking away.

Harry nodded. “I’ll be up there soon, the hall needs sorting out.” He said, smiling wryly.

-

Although Harry had by no means been expecting this, he still wasn’t unprepared. He rushed into the well-lit main hallway, where a pair of magnificent centurion statues stood either side of the heavy door.

“Piertotum Locomotor!” Harry bellowed, raising his wand towards them. The statues moved almost imperceptibly, the right statue clutching his sword tighter, the left taking a more firm hold on his spear, but both remaining on their plinths, their pitiless grimaces remaining etched on their faces. Turning away, he then cast a personally modified Protean charm on the electric lights, magically linking them to the door.

“Pendularus.” The chandelier began to sway slightly in no particular direction. He then cast his Protean charm between it and the door.

“Arachnifors.” The hat-rack promptly transformed into a large Acromantula. Squirming slightly at the unpleasant sight of the hairy beast, Harry ordered it over into the corner. It stood sentinel, its many eyes reflecting the light.

Satisfied, Harry turned back to the stairs, going back to the study to check the stones again. Another five were now useless, leaving the outer ring, which protected the gardens of the property, almost negated. He had to rely on the inner ring, guarding the house itself, to give him time.

“Daddy, what’s happening?” Alice asked, ever the quiet, analytical one. He felt it impossible to answer her, to tell her that she might not be going to Hogwarts next year, that she might never see any of  them again, that she might not leave the house alive.

“There’s a little problem with the house’s magic. Daddy’s fixing it, aren’t you?” Tracey said, looking at Harry significantly.

He briefly considered telling them what was going on, before deciding it was better to keep them calm. “Yes, the wards are acting up.” Kneeling to Alice’s eye level, Harry beckoned Lily over from her seat in the dark corner. “Now, you two, listen to whatever your mother tells you to do. You are not to leave this room for anything, unless I come back and get you. Do you understand?”

They both nodded, eyes wide. He hugged each of them one-armed, exhaling heavily as he let go.

“I love you both.” He said quietly, smiling. He stood up and turned to see Tracey stood in his path, before she lunged at him, wrapping her slight arms tightly around him. She pulled back, looking at him greedily. He could tell she was holding back tears, biting her lip to retain composure. Her brown eyes were imbued with emotion; fear, concern. She hugged him tighter, placing her head on his shoulder.

“Careful.” She breathed in his ear. He nodded, pressing his lips to hers briefly. She smiled, embracing him again. Lily made exaggerated noises, Alice laughed, and for a moment they were a regular, happy family, unaffected by the presence of dangerous insurgents just outside.

Harry stood at the balcony overlooking the front hallway. It had stopped raining while he’d been upstairs. Through the opposite window, he could see multiple Death Eaters moving across the grounds, towards him. He had again checked the vessels, which showed that they were about two thirds of the way through the main building’s defences. As they drew closer to the paved path outside the door, Harry placed a Supersensory charm on himself. Almost immediately, a whispered conversation blew gently into his ear.

“I doubt Potter is yet aware of our presence. We should have the element of surprise.” Said a woman’s soft yet commanding voice.

“Malfoy wants the wife and kids tortured and killed in front of him first, before we kill him and use his blood to open his information storage.” Came a rough, harsh voice.

Malfoy. Lucius fucking Malfoy wanted Harry and his family dead. Although, after indirectly bringing about the deaths of his wife and son, Harry supposed he wasn’t really too surprised about it. He was more concerned about them apparently being after information, as well as their knowledge of how he guarded his documents.

“Doesn’t that seem a little… extreme?” asked a third voice, younger, quieter, less sure of itself.

A harsh laugh. “You’re bloody kidding, right? You signed up for it; you joined the infamous Death Eaters. You honestly weren’t expecting something like this?”

“No, not torturing kids-“

“Whatever. You’ll follow orders or you’ll leave me hoping I’ll be the one to kill you.” The harsh-voiced man cut in.

They had drawn close enough that he could see them on the path. Cancelling the charm, Harry moved behind a cabinet on the nearby landing, looking around it at the door. They’ll be surprised, he thought wryly.

The door suddenly began to rattle, gradually at first, then more intensely. Harry looked closer, trusting the locks to hold up a little longer. A loud grinding noise issued from the door, and it swung slowly open.

The room was plunged immediately into darkness, leaving the light of the moon to illuminate the hall. A click of pincers, and a high-pitched scream rent the air. Another grinding sound preceded an echoing crash, which violently rocked the room and caused Harry to stagger forward. A few more crashes rang out, followed by an anguished wail and another loud crash.

Lumen Expandit!’ Balls of gleaming light exploded into existence, flying to different corners of the hall. Harry looked over to the door, and smirked amusedly.

The doorway had been completely demolished by the swinging chandelier, along with a decent chunk of the front wall, leaving a light cloud of dust and plaster airborne. A dark silhouette was struggling to free itself from the resulting wreckage. Another cloaked figure was haphazardly kicking at the Acromantula, which had mercilessly mauled his shoulder, but he was clearly being bested. A third Death Eater was spread-eagled across the blood-streaked laminate floor, twitching and breathing strenuously, a marble sword embedded in his chest. He lay next to a large pile of marble, topped with a statue’s leg. The spear-wielding centurion had returned to its plinth.

“Shit…” He breathed, taking in the wreckage before him.

“Potter knew! He knows we’re here!” The rough-voiced man shouted from outside the doorway. A glowing red curse flew through the sizeable breach in the wall, splashing against the opposite wall and leaving a black mark as it dissipated. Multiple sets of footsteps resounded off the flagstones outside the house. Harry ran down the curving staircase and across the decimated room, Vanishing the Acromantula as he went. “Debilitus.” He growled, putting a Paralysis Curse on the Death Eater under the wreckage of the chandelier. He gave a cursory look towards the other two. Although they were likely dead or close to death, he also Paralysed them for good measure.  He then moved to the front wall, looking cautiously out of the hole.

Five more Death Eaters were running towards the house, wands held in a duelling stance. Far behind them, he could see at least three on brooms, flying over the acre-long field to the east of his home, silhouetted against the moon and stars. Harry stepped out and cast a Body Bind hex towards the middle Death Eater, who blocked it mid-stride and continued on, moving towards him. Harry muttered “Nox.” dispelling the glittering lights that marked his position. He was going to have to fight for his family, in an ironic redux of James Potter’s last moments, though this time, the protector had every intention of surviving.

Sectumsempra! He thought, making a vigorous slashing motion towards the group. The two on the left side fell in a violent spray of blood, black in the insubstantial lighting of the nearing midnight. One of the remaining attackers yelled a Cruciatus curse, which Harry had to drop behind the ruined wall to avoid.

He leaned out again, casting a Charging hex followed by a Severing curse, the first powering into the middle Death Eater and knocking him backwards onto the wet flagstones, the second missing his head narrowly before continuing on into the field behind.

Confringo Amplus!” was bellowed from outside.

Harry scrambled frantically out of the way, dropping to the floor as the Blasting Curse hit the wall he had been sheltering behind with a deafening impact. Harry looked up to see the damage, ignoring the debilitating ringing sound in his ears.

The room was filled with raining plaster, the floor covered in it, all sourced from the now non-existent front wall. The hallway was now open to the elements, in addition to the half a dozen curses flying in.

Getting to his feet, Harry readied himself as he heard more footsteps, now even closer. A Death Eater stepped through the massive hole, to receive a Paralysis curse to the side of the head. Before he had hit the ground, two more followed him through. Harry blocked the Bone-Splintering and Jelly-Brain curses they sent at him and replied with a Slicing arc. The spinning bolt of blue light soared between them, vigorously hacking them across their shoulders and spraying blood across the wall behind them.

An Impactus curse preceded yet another Death Eater through the wall, flying gleefully through Harry’s shield and smashing him clean in the jaw with a harsh crack, feeling like the force of an iron fist. Thankfully, he no longer wore glasses. Spun around by the shock of the curse, he hit the floor hard, his ribs taking the brunt of the fall. He immediately rolled, avoiding a Trauma curse by inches, before levelling his wand at the Death Eater.

Impetious!” The spell sharply snapped his head to the side, throwing him across the room and onto the table next to the stairs, which buckled and snapped under his weight. He saw the Death Eater struggling to rise, easy prey for a few nasty curses coming to mind.  Instead, he was bound and set away.  A fallen foe could not defend himself against a lethal spell.

Spitting blood, he held his jaw still, aiming his wand at his mouth as he stopped the bleeding. How many of them were there? Malfoy wouldn’t underestimate him -

Avada Kedavra!” The sickly green bolt flew dangerously close to his head, setting the cabinet behind him ablaze.

He turned, slashing angrily at the new arrival. Sectumsempra! He blocked it, throwing a Cruciatus at Harry, who dodged it and smashed the bones in his left leg. The man grunted, aiming at him as he again spoke the beginnings of the Killing curse.

Ducking under the spell, Harry bellowed “Deductora!” as he stood. The Death Eater fell, immune to revival spells for the next three hours at least.

Harry cautiously stepped out onto the garden path, glancing furtively around. The clamouring silence and the crowded emptiness of the grounds gave way to uncertainty, tension. Harry was, for the first time that night, afraid. He’d been afraid for his family since he realised they were in danger, as any normal man would be, but now…

Charging into the windowless room, Harry threw the Cloak at Lily, who was nearest.

“Lily, Alice, get under that.” The girls, who had heard stories of their father’s post-curfew escapades at Hogwarts, gasped at the sight of the Cloak, scrambling quickly under it and into transparency.

“Harry, what are you doing?” Tracey said. She observed him warily.

“We’re aiming for the forests. If we can get through, the Anti-Apparition wards won’t be in effect.”

She nodded, smirking. “Let’s go then.”

They took off  through the silent corridors of the house, the twins trailing invisibly behind them. Surprisingly, they met no resistance, leading Harry to the belief that they were waiting somewhere outside. Casting Life Detection charms as he went, he led his family to the devastated front hall. Tracey looked discreetly around at the indifferent corpses and the blood-spattered walls, the blasted fissure along the front of the house, the tell-tale scorches of malignant spells upon the walls, unable to hide her distaste.

“Well, what now? We can’t just trek across the lawn and expect not to be seen.” Tracey said, staring out towards the treeline through the smashed window.

Harry didn’t answer, too busy convincing himself to do what he had to. He levelled the Elder Wand at her back.

Imperio.” Tracey turned to him, hazel eyes blanked over, face void of expression. He could feel her resolve, her determination to escape from his control, which he savagely shot down. He reached out and tapped her on the head, spreading Disillusionment across her body.

Take the children. Hurry to the edge of the enchantments and Disapparate. Use any means necessary.

The brief mental struggle was won, and she complied. Her movements were wooden and unfamiliar, as Harry had never been able to use the curse too well.

“Girls, come on.” She said, in a broken, detached voice.

“What… what did you do to her?” Alice shakily asked from under the Cloak.

“Nothing, I was just checking she was well. Diagnostic charm.”

He could tell Alice had realised that the spell he had used had been dubious in nature, but he was both thankful that she knew nothing of the Unforgivables, and relieved that she kept silent.

A hand appeared, signalling their location with a wave before retreating, and the shimmering figure that was his wife held onto one of the girls through the Cloak, leading them out of the house.

A mild tremor reverberated through the house, but Harry kept his feet, surrounded by bodies and bricks in the wreckage of his home, his castle. They’d no doubt just completely gnawed through the defences, leaving the house and grounds completely open to unknown, but certainly large numbers of Death Eaters. He wanted to leave some more surprises for those pricks; he wasn’t just going to leave them to celebrate besting Harry Potter. While he was no Gryffindor, he still wasn’t just walking away.

He cast another Life Detector, assuring him that there was nobody nearby. Once he was sure Tracey had escaped, he was looking for a way out himself.

“Fissura!” He growled, gesturing at the floor. A wide crack forced itself through the wood, revealing pipes underfoot. Harry cast a Piercing curse at one of the larger grey pipes, eliciting a prolonged hissing sound from it. He then placed a touch-activated Flagrante curse on the floor near the foot of the stairs. Jumping the patch of trapped floor, he tore up the stairs to look through the higher windows.

Around a dozen Death Eaters were hurrying towards him, thankfully from the opposite end of the grounds to where he’d sent Tracey. One sighted him, casting a wildly aimed Killing Curse mid-step, which missed drastically, fading quickly as it careered into the black and white sky like a signal flare.

‘C’mon Harry, no time to hold back!’ He thought, wrenching the window open. Using his first truly Dark curse of the night, he sent an Entrail-Expelling curse flying into their midst. A taller Death Eater caught it, obscene amounts of blood projectile-spraying from his mouth and nose in a macabre imitation of a fire-hose. As the man started to vomit out his stomach, Harry put a Killing curse towards the group, missing and torching a tree far behind. In reply, a volley of various curses raced towards the window from where he was defending. He ducked back inside, watching the light show as the spells dashed against the walls.

He shuffled in front of the window again. “Confringo Amplus!” Harry shouted, using the same spell that had laid waste to the front wall. A purple jet of light hit the ground near the group, kicking up dust and carving a large crater in the manicured lawn. As the dust cleared, it was obvious that he’d caught at least one of them, a figure twitching helplessly on the sodden grass, the green blades war-stained.

They were drawing closer to the house. Harry sent another Slicing arc powering towards them. One saw it coming and countered in time, bending it back towards the house, where Harry had to shelter under the window to avoid it. Realising that they were too close, Harry pulled the nearest door open, and ducked into Lily’s room, slamming it shut behind him. Just in time.

A deafening, rasping roar sounded. Harry opened the door, looking out to be greeted by roaring fire and copious amounts of black smoke. Flames clung to the walls, licking them almost lovingly, while the smoke travelled towards the ceiling. He looked over the bannister, to quickly reel back at the acrid smoke and sickening heat rising from the lower floor.

Ossulus!”

Harry stepped back, casting a shield as the bannister exploded, showering him with sharp fragments of wood.

“He’s still alive! Nott, get up there!” Footsteps on the stairs. A hooded figure reached the top, casting a Slashing curse at Harry, who blocked, weakening the curse, which carved a path along his cheek nonetheless. Harry retorted with a muttered “Arcessio!” A loud clattering noise came from downstairs. The Death Eater launched a Bludgeoning curse at Harry, who spun to the side, just as numerous chunks of flaming debris flew up the stairs and smashed, one after another, into his back. He bound the unconscious Death Eater with Conjured ropes.

Harry charged back down the stairs, trying to ignore the heat. The smoke wasn’t letting up, and he could hardly see-

A spell crashed into the side of his head, sending him sprawling. Looking up, he saw the black, elaborately carved mask of an inner circle Death Eater looming out of the smoke. Harry aimed his wand at him, only for the wand to be viciously kicked from his hand. The Death Eater levelled his own wand at Harry, a green hue glowing at the tip. Desperately, Harry lashed out, sweeping the man’s feet from under him. The man dropped his wand, which clattered to the floor, rolling away into the fumes.

Another kick swept close to Harry’s face, and he retaliated by swiping at him with a fist. The Death Eater knelt over him, repeatedly punching at him. A punch snapped Harry’s nose, snapping his head back. Harry kicked out again, hitting his oncoming fist with a loud crack. He cried out, and Harry used his moment of distraction to search the nearby floor. Finding a rather short and incompatible wand, he bellowed the first two words that came to mind.

Avada Kedavra!” The familiar rushing sound and the flash of green signalled his death even before he hit the floor.

Summoning his wand, Harry dropped the incompatible one and stamped on it. He cast a Zephyrus charm, clearing away the smoke with a conjured gust of wind. The hall was completely obliterated. Flames ran rampant around the room, and he could smell and taste the flammable gas he had freed from the pipes, in addition to the smell of the flaming bodies strewn across the floor.

Holding his nose, Harry healed it with a silent ‘Episkey.’ He stepped through the hole in the wall, glancing around. He saw nobody, and broke into a run, dashing towards the woods.

Suddenly, he heard a shout behind him, as an orange jet of light sped over his shoulder and collided with a tree in front of him, ruthlessly tearing the bark from its trunk. Harry turned and batted away another curse, sending it sailing back towards his two pursuers, before continuing his run. He reached the forest, but could hear them crashing through the trees behind him.

Prohibera!”

Harry was convinced the Trip jinx had missed him, until his feet hit an invisible barrier and he went sprawling, crashing into the ground at the foot of a tree at the edge of a clearing.

Not wasting any time, Harry sat up and started launching curses in their direction, most missing. The replying spells hit his hastily conjured silver shield one after the other, the last quickly tearing it down. He hastened to his feet, sending a Bludgeoning curse at the left of the two, which was deflected away, before the Death Eater countered with a Slashing curse, which Harry spun out of the way of, moving him into the path of the other Death Eater’s Cruciatus curse.

He fell to his hands and knees, biting back a howl of agony as the Death Eater holding the curse moved closer, but as the other added his own curse to the effect, Harry could no longer hold it in. He screamed, the distorted sound slowly reaching his ears, as if through a body of water. Just as he thought he could no longer take it, that he wanted to die, the effect was lifted. Harry fell backwards into a tree, panting heavily as he levelled his wand at the closer of the two.

“Avada-“

The wand was suddenly and viciously wrenched from his hand, landing in the outstretched palm of the other Death Eater. The one Harry had attempted to kill aimed his wand at him.

“Incidus.” He said calmly. A white bolt of light was expelled from his wand, tearing towards Harry at an angle. It sliced at his throat angrily, spattering the tree behind him with crimson blood. His head jerked to the side and he gasped desperately, green eyes wide, disbelieving. He brought a hand up to his severed jugular, attempting in vain to staunch the swift flow of blood from his neck as it surged down his arms.

The Death Eater who had cast the curse moved towards him, conjuring a small crystal phial. He waved his wand, and the phial soared towards Harry, scraping across the collection of blood spreading across his arm before returning to the Death Eater. He swiped it out of the air triumphantly.

“’The Dark Lord Slayer’, eventually brought to an end by His ever-loyal Death Eaters. What a surprise.” He said, smiling a victorious smile through his carved black mask as he watched Harry bleed.

“C’mon, we’d better get the stuff out of his office before anybody gets here.” The other Death Eater growled, speaking for the first time.

The first Death Eater raised a finger. “Good point. Well Potter, we’ve got places to be, people to see, including your Tracey and the kids.” He said jovially, turning to leave the clearing. At the last remark, Harry allowed himself a satisfied laugh, which came out as more of a choking noise than anything else.

The other Death Eater raised his wand at Harry, conjuring ropes which bound him to the tree he leant against.

“Don’t go anywhere.” he muttered, chuckling to himself. He spat at Harry’s feet and stalked out of the clearing.

Through the branches, Harry could see the flames tearing through the house, dancing across the roof. His breathing quickly became more and more laboured, as a thick white mist seemed to encroach on the periphery of his vision, accompanied by an audible dampening of the sounds nearby, the rustle of the trees. He could feel his robes becoming soaked with his blood, but even that feeling quickly faded.