Dean and Padma are still trapped in the garden. When Lavender, Susan, Oliver and I finally had to give up trying to take the wall down to get to them, we could hear Death Eaters on the other side as well. If Dean and Padma make it out of there alive, it will be a miracle fit for future myths and legends.
Oliver tries his best to run with us through the narrow passages that have unlimited ceilings, or I presume there’s a ceiling up there somewhere because I can’t see the sky. I can’t get my bearings at all. Even the Point Me
Charm won’t work.
The footsteps behind us diminish and I look back to see Oliver lean on the wall momentarily. At the same time I hear a crash and I know the wall has come down. I consider the strategy of having us all rush the oncoming Death Eaters that I can now hear, but I know Oliver is in no shape for battle.
Oliver motions that he’ll be okay and we start running, but this time I keep him in front of me. We purposely dodge around as many corners as we can and we get a few minutes to breathe, listening with baited breath to the frustration of our attackers.
We are all resolved to fight for our lives, but the Horcrux must be destroyed. If we’re killed here, at least we will have done what we came to do.
"What’s that?" Susan whispers, putting her hand to her mouth. An ungodly scream pierces the air and I hear voices on top of it.
"Alecto, no!" It’s Amycus’ voice. "Get away, get away!"
We all hear the sound of crackling fire and we are overcome by a smell worse than the sulphur from the rivers that meet in this awful place as it up to greet our senses. I can even detect Rabastan and Rudolphus yelling frantically.
"Incendio!" they scream in unison as we take this opportunity to run for it. But we are stopped in our tracks.
I’ve seen Dementors before and these aren’t them, but the feeling they give is the same if not worse. Oliver’s breathing is ragged and his teeth are clacking together now. Even with the heavy sweater that Susan was able to salvage out of my rucksack he’s freezing. Oliver curses loudly when Lavender pushes him gently behind us, but his breath wisps seem to be going directly into the mouths of these foul phantoms and they seem to want to reach right through us to get to him.
Spindly fingers that look like wisps of candle smoke spiral toward us. As they pass between our heads to reach Oliver, I’m overcome by waves of sudden despair and doom.
"Hannah, no..." Susan cries softly, and falling to the floor is the only thing that saves her from being kissed as far as I can tell because yet another phantom had reached for her chin and was drawing her breath to its putrid face. Still Oliver’s breath was drawn forward more.
"Incendio!" Lavender screams suddenly, brushing tears from her face. A burst of flame shoots from her wand and the phantom who had Oliver by the shoulders drawing him nearer erupts into a fiery mass that makes me feel like I’m going to throw up.
The sudden flash of fire and the warmth, coupled with the hideous vapours, temporarily wakes us out of our almost submissive stances. The phantoms draw back.
I help Susan up and hold her in my arms. Her eyes are as wide as saucers and I see real people reflected in them coming up from behind the phantoms. I hold her hand. Her ring is gone too. But I remember the day I got mine.
"Expecto Patronum!" I yell as loudly as I can and there’s no mistaking it. Everyone here will be able to see my Thestral. Those of us who have witnessed death and those of us who have taken it. War makes us do both.
The Thestral holds the phantoms off for a short time, but nothing like flame does. The Patronus does however strengthen the spirit.
One phantom is intent on Oliver still, and Lavender is now firing hexes toward Amycus and the Lestrange brothers. Susan is walking toward Rudolphus, wand out in front of her as phantoms reach for her, held back only by the Patronus.
"Justin!" Oliver yells suddenly. Behind me stands Alecto, but her face is expressionless. She’s been emptied. Her soul belongs to the phantoms now. But her body is able and I know why. The Imperius Curse still works upon the body and empty brain on the parts of the lobes which are not soul based.
If I let my Patronus down, Susan will be in danger. If I don’t, I’ll be killed.
"Incendio!" Oliver yells and Alecto catches fire spectacularly. She does not scream. I shiver as I remember the Inferi burning, blundgeoned, yet still coming for me. Alecto is not an Inferius. Her empty body falls and it’s too late for Amycus to douse the consuming flames.
Oliver watches the burning Death Eater in horrid fascination as yet another phantom seems intent to prey upon him. In the flames, I notice that Oliver’s lips are blue again. I try to make it over to him. The curse he just used likely drained his last magic. A Fire Ball Curse is not easy at the magnitude needed to burn a human body.
Susan and Rudolphus are battling, each hiding and throwing curses and insults. She’s holding her own, but I should be over there helping her.
Lavender has her hands full with a vengeful Amycus whose voice is breaking as he tries to kill her. We all dodge several beams of green light that he throws at her as she puts her DA training to good use.
The Phantoms are a curse and a blessing as they roam trying to suck whatever magic they can take the easiest. My Thestral flickers as I find it harder and harder to hold onto my good thoughts. I keep seeing my wedding day, but then I see Susan and Rudolphus and Lavender and Rebastan.
"Oh hell, no you don’t!" Oliver yells. I turn to see the phantom grab his chin and my Thestral goes out, darkening the place even more. The only light is now coming from wand tips and the dwindling smoke filled flickers of the fire which is dying from lack of its former human fuel.