|Blurred Lines Mods (blurred_mods) wrote in blurred_lines,|
@ 2009-08-31 17:30:00
|Entry tags:||! [1980-08] august, aberforth dumbledore, aeneas nott, agatha snape (née chubb), akhil patil, alana fenwick, alastor moody, aloysius croaker, amelia bones, amycus carrow, anastasia mulciber (née aesalon), andrew forsythe, angelica bobbin, anzhelina dolohov, aquila avery, araminta meliflua, astra lestrange (née avery), atticus avery, barty crouch jr, bellatrix lestrange (née black), bertie higgs, bertram aubrey, beth frobisher, ciara fitzpatrick, claudette nott (née delacour), corbina lestrange, damocles belby, daniel rourke, demetrius mulciber, doris crockford, elle abercrombie, elphias doge, emmeline vance, evangeline macnair, fenrir greyback, ferdinand gibbon, florence hall, gaius travers, gawain robards, georgina smythe, graley rosier, hestia jones, iago mulciber, igor karkaroff, james potter, jeremiah smith, josephine pepper (née savage), julianne wilkes, kate proudfoot, kingsley shacklebolt, lachlan kirke, lavinia travers, lily potter (née evans), lucinda greengrass (née yaxley), lucius malfoy, marius lestrange, mary macdonald, minerva mcgonagall, narcissa malfoy (née black), octavius pepper, peggy o'nell, petra podmore (née petrikova), rabastan lestrange, rita skeeter, rufus scrimgeour, sam madley, seraphina travers, severus snape, tabitha macfusty (née bagnold), tabitha pryce, ursula caldeira, walden macnair, xenophilius lovegood|
FINAL BATTLE [29/29]
THE FINAL BATTLE
The invasion of the ministry
The Ministry was silent and tense as the afternoon wore on. It had not escaped many peoples' attention that a large group of Ministry workers had left without any word or warning -- including the Minister for Magic himself -- and those whose attention it had escaped were quickly informed by their colleagues of the matter in hushed voices in the loo or over lunch. No one spoke formally of the strange disappearance, but no one had to; the reality was as loud as the silence pervading every department (except the Department of Mysteries, who had little idea of what was happening above and had barely noticed the missing Broderick Bode or Augustus Rookwood): The Death Eaters and their former Department of Magical Law Enforcement were fighting. On every floor, in every department, the wireless was switched on, turned down low so that no one had to openly acknowledge their interest in the fight, which could not be ignored with Rita Skeeter's running commentary forcing reality down their throats.
Most did not know who to root for, if anyone. Most just wanted it to be over and didn't care what happened so long as they could keep their families safe... though that seemed a distant dream after so many years of the bloody chaos.
And then eventually the unthinkable happened.
The thick silence quickly became a rush of whispers and then an irrepressible din. Supervisors stopped bothering to remind their workers to get back to their tasks, too busy journalling home and ministry ward alarms be damned. Desperate pleas for their loved ones to stay inside no matter what, panic when they had no response. If things were a disaster outside these walls, there was a special kind of chaos in here. And people were too afraid to leave and too afraid to act, so stayed at their desks hoping -- praying -- that everything would be all right... whatever that even meant now.
Rufus and Moody's charge into the ministry was significantly unlike that of the death eaters eight months ago. They did not shoot to kill or to terrorise, only to round people up and get them out so they could head up towards the floors. Not everyone was willing to leave so easily, however, and Rufus had to shield himself more than once to avoid a nasty hex in the back. Sending a few Albion members downstairs to make sure everyone in the Department of Mysteries could get out quickly and safely, he turned abruptly to Moody, determination on his now-scarred face.
"Ready?" Moody repeated with a scoff. Of course he was ready. He spent his life in a state of perpetual readiness! Okay, sure, he could have really used a nap and a really pleasant Healer to patch up the injuries he'd sustained at the hand of that madwoman and he wasn't sure how much energy he had left if anything particularly catastrophic happened, but he would sure as hell do his darndest to make sure there were no Death Eaters left to keep running the place when this was over.
"Let's kick some Death Eater ass, Scrimmy!"
Rufus vs Iago
Rufus struggled to get all the civilians out of the atrium as quickly as possible. It was a bit difficult to convince someone you meant them well when your face had dried blood on it and you'd just had the hell beaten out of you by Bellatrix Lestrange, but most recognised him at least and quickly guessed why he, Moody, and the others were there. The worst to get rid of were the security guards -- little better than tubby, underpaid bouncers who probably wouldn't survive two minutes into a real fight. Rufus was just pushing one of these through the floo when he heard the eruption of people coming out of the opposing ones. No. That was not the right direction. That meant only one thing. Protego -- but he waited before he fired anything offensive; his frayed nerves could at least recognise the importance of that.
Iago had done a quick patch-up on himself to save time before he'd left to defend the Ministry; they had already lost at Hogwarts (which felt like a cold shock, although if he were able to take the time an analyse their reckless form of attack on the castle, it would not be so surprising why they had lost as it felt as this moment). The Ministry was their only stronghold left -- if the vigilantes took this, too... no, he could not accept another failure. Everything they had worked for would be lost if the Ministry was taken back. Their strategy of attack was no different from Hogwarts, and Iago arrived with his wand drawn -- and as he took in the scene in the atrium before him, realising what was happening, instead of attacking immediately he trained his wand on the fireplace Scrimgeour had just pushed someone into and shouted -- "EXPULSO!" -- and although the person had vanished safely into the floo, the fireplace exploded upon impact of the spell. The only escape from the Ministry Iago intended to allow the vigilantes was by way of death.
Rufus ducked out of the way of flying shrapnel and mortar, first glancing out to see who else was in danger before turning his attentions back on Iago. He had to keep himself between the madman and the civilians, because he had no doubt in his mind that these bastards would feel free to eliminate anyone who played witness to their insanity. Wand lashing out, he growled an incendio and crucio -- spells rather at odd ends of the severity spectrum; but Rufus was far beyond the place of rational thought. He cast whatever came to mind, and just hoped that he could keep his eye on the other man's magic and his shields in place. This was their one chance to take back the ministry. Their only chance. He couldn't blow it now.
He flicked his wand around in a curl to redirect the flames, sending the blast back toward Scrimgeour as the second spell burst through the middle, an all too familiar pain spreading like a shock through Iago's body; too powerful to suppress a startled cry of agony as it brought him down to his knees. He could not help but think, even through the curse, of how reckless his actions were to keep his defences down to concentrate on desperate attempts to bring his opponent down as swiftly as possible. "Avada Kedavra!" His voice came breathless and strained as he struggled to speak, but green light streaked across the room nonetheless.
Rufus's hold on the cruciatus was abruptly interrupted by magic soaring towards him -- and between fire or death, he would take fire. A hoarse scream erupted from him, sharp and unhindered (this was no time for pride or masculine concerns), as fire consumed his bad leg. Another choice, then -- did he tend to the wounds, which made standing the second most excruciating thing he'd suffered through today, or did he take advantage of Iago's sudden weakness?
There wasn't really a choice. Suffering through the agony of his leg, he gathered his wits and strength and pointed his wand again at the death eater. Expulso was followed angrily by an entrail-expelling curse and the Avada Kedavra. There was no point in holding back. There was no point in taking prisoners. He only hoped he could save his soul after the damage he'd undoubtedly done it today.
Iago took advantage of the brief reprieve from the curse, pushing himself back up to his feet; for as well off as he'd come out of the battle at Hogwarts, it had left him feeling significantly drained, but what other choice did he have? Fleeing? The thought of allowing them to overtake the Ministry was an unfathomable one. A flick of his wand deflected the blasting curse down to his feet instead, taking a step backwards as the floor exploded in a shower of broken tiles -- Iago slashed his wand in front of himself, sending the tiles soaring toward Scrimgeour. Left with a similar choice, he moved in front of the entrail-expelling curse to avoid the killing curse and shouted: "Protego Horribilis!" Forced to take another step back, the curse and his shield spell absorbed into each other and vanished.
"Do you wish to have your corpse strung up where the Longbottoms once were, Scrimgeour? Increbresco!" He shouted without pause, having no interest in the other man's reply, only wishing to taunt him into a reckless anger. He only needed one opening. Just one.
Anger welled up in him, but Rufus didn't let it overcome his sense of survival -- or purpose -- as he had when he'd killed that poor girl. A swift movement of his arm brought the tiles to a halt, and then together into a tight shield that exploded against the power of the other man's curse. "The only corpse here is going to be yours," he snarled through a shower of ceramic. Loathe as he was to wilfully destroy any part of the ministry, he arced his wand from one of the floos towards the other wizard. Flaming wood and ash soared through the air with an oppugno, and again he cast the cruciatus, allowing his fury this one chance to bleed out of him.
Iago pointed his wand at the fountain and drew up the water like a shield in front of his body, the fires on the wood sizzling as they struck the water and falling short of hitting their target. The spell was dropped in favour of a powerful shield charm, water splashing to the ground as the cruciatus curse absorbed into the magical shield. Pieces of fiery wood passed by without the water to protect himself and showered down on him, catching on his robes and as he turned his head away from the ashes they fell onto the side of his face and in his left eye. He screamed at the feeling of fire burning flesh, his hand flying up to cover the side of his face and protect himself from being burned further.
Half blind, Iago turned his wand onto one of the civilians cowering only a few feet away from Scrimgeour and snarled, "IMPERIO!" The connection was almost immediate, the tingling feeling from his mind stretching down his arm to the tip of his wand to the man now under his control, and in his rage he shouted his orders across the room. "KILL HIM! NOW!"
The man -- his visitor's badge read 'Frederick' -- calmly pulled his wand from his robes and, against his will, aimed at Scrimgeour and shouted, "Avada Kedavra!"
Rufus's attentions split as another person was brought into it, and he knew that his shield had no chance against a damned killing curse. Diving for the floor, he listened rather than watched as the AK exploded against tile on the other side of him, sending a shower across him and the death eater across him. The other man was already opening his mouth to cast again, and Rufus pointed his wand, desperately bellowing "EXPELLIARMUS, DEPULSO" to get the bloody civilian out of the fray.
Frederick was easily overtaken, disarmed and thrown off his feet; and with an angry snarl, Iago thrust his wand forward, the green light of the Killing Curse speeding toward the man to strike him in the chest, and he fell over dead like a heavy weight on the crumbled remains of the destroyed fireplace.
Rufus reeled back on Iago, rage etched into every line of his worn face. That was uncalled for. That was unacceptable. Anger bled into his magic, and before he knew what he was doing, he was casting curses rather than clean magic. CRUOREM LACRIMO, SECTUMSEMPRA, ANGOR. Anything to take this bastard down.
The first spell was knocked away with a shield charm, and the second -- Iago underestimated Scrimgeour's strength through so much rage behind it, and the curse smashed through his shield as if it were made of glass. Gashes crisscrossing over his body -- across his chest, his arms, his legs -- and one cut deeply across the wrist of his right arm, recoiling as damaged muscles twitched and his wand flew from his hand. Blood flowed at an alarming rate from his arm, and before he could react, before he could even try to retrieve his wand -- his throat convulsed as he tried to breathe in, but there was no air to relieve his lungs. His hand went to his throat as Iago fell to his knees, eyes watering (although he could barely see anymore, the fire having done so much damage to one eye already).
His wand -- where was his wand? His hands fumbled uselessly through the rubble on the floor, coming up with nothing but ashes and broken tile. With every shuttering, desperate attempt for air, the world around him was becoming fuzzy and dull; his body felt too heavy, and when he was unable to hold himself up anymore he collapsed forward, the cold tile chilling against his skin. He didn't want to die -- he wasn't ready -- there was still so much to be done; the Ministry still needed to be protected. He needed to be there for his son's wedding. He needed to be there to take care of his wife.
His fist clenched around sharp shards of ceramic, cutting into his palm -- if only it were his wand, he could end this. He could save himself. He'd taken everything in his life for granted: Anastasia would always be there when he returned home, a good wife, and had he ever thanked her? For anything? Had he ever been appreciative of what Demetrius accomplished in his life? Iago could not even remember congratulating him on his engagement, proud as he had been to hear of it. And... and... it was becoming too hard to think, and when Iago tried to lift his head he was barely able to keep it up for a second, strength having left him and unable to see to search for his wand, anyway.
A strange feeling of numbness was settling over him, his body cold and head light, closing his eyes as a sudden rush of dizziness swept over him. He was tired -- just too damn tired, and if only he could close his eyes for a few minutes, he'd be just fine...
And there was no final breath, no final thought or last words; just a slip into darkness, and Iago's body went still.
Atticus vs Moody
Despite the agonising pain in his arm and back, despite the knowledge that the fight at Hogwarts had been lost, that without the Dark Lord, there would be little to control his already-scattering followers, Atticus had one thought on his mind. They had to defend the Ministry.
And if they could not hold the Ministry, there was more than enough evidence that needed to be destroyed, lest they all find themselves sentenced to several lifetimes in Azkaban. The thought that he could have just as easily fled to avoid prison was not an option to be considered. Not when there were others who could not flee as easily. But he had no intentions of allowing it to reach that point.
Neither, apparently, did the vigilantes.
Atticus was largely oblivious to his own appearance as he arrived in the Atrium of the Ministry. Most of the fur that had sprouted out from his skin had been dealt with, but there were still the odd patches visible here and there. The long tail that he thought he had been successful in shoving back into his trousers had sprung free again and he still had yet to notice the rather lemur-like shape that his ears had taken. But none of that mattered right now. Not in the face of duty and obligation and the cause that would endure long beyond him.
Long past the point of carefully thought out strategy, of reason itself, at the sight of Alastor Moody, Atticus roared out a furious crucio.
Okay, so maybe Moody should have taken more of a breather when he'd had a chance. Rushing into a battle at the Ministry may not have been the wisest decision he'd ever made, but between the scotch numbing some of his pain and the adrenaline keeping him upright, he figured he had a shot at making some of these bastards regret having fucked with the Ministry the first time around.
He'd been looking in the opposite direction when Atticus's Cruciatus Curse came barreling toward him. Thankfully, his reflexes hadn't completely worn off and he was able to cast a Shield Spell with only inches of space to spare between himself and the curse. It was then that he turned and got a good look at the Death Eater, though in his current state, Moody wasn't completely sure that any human term applied. After gawking for a moment, there was nothing he could do but laugh -- uproariously.
"How about a shave, my furry friend?" he asked, smirking as he drew out the knife he'd found in the Defence classroom (and used to kill Remus, but that was beside the point) earlier in the month. With a bit of wandwork, he charmed the knife to multiply before sending them toward Atticus with an oppugno.
Atticus did not take particularly well to being laughed at, but even for the man who had words for every situation, there was no retort to come to his mind. Only startlingly petty, irrational anger that caused him to send a fur-growing charm right back at the other man.
He tried to dodge out of the path of the flying knives, but his back protested against the sudden movement and he was not quick enough to avoid one that plunged into his shoulder. And that sharp pain was at least enough to bring him back to his senses as he grimaced and growled, sending a killing curse flying. This was not the time for games, or to allow ridiculous insults and laughter to so affect him. He was a reasonable man, who prided himself on his logic and good sense and Alastor Moody had to die.
Moody grimaced as Atticus's first spell hit him, sprouting patches of uneven, light brown hair all over his face, neck and arms. Now, he felt a little stupid for laughing, even though he really couldn't compare himself to a Death Eater with a tail and some strange looking sort of ears. Still, he was now hairy -- or hairier than usual -- and not happy about it. But he was even less happy about the fact that a Killing Curse was coming in his direction. This would take effort. And so, focusing his strength, he aimed his wand at one of the lift doors and pulled it off its hinges, yanking it quickly in front of him to block the spell before sending it soaring toward the half-man, half-something very unflattering in front of him.
Any brief moment of satisfaction that Atticus might have felt at the fact that Alastor Moody was now covered with fur as well (and truly, it did serve him right for mocking) was gone as the now-bent and twisted lift door came flying towards his head. He dove to the ground, his shoulder crashing hard against the marble floor as the door went flying through the space where his head had been only moments prior. Atticus rolled to his side and at a sudden idea, he thought the ground might very well be to his advantage after all. He cast a vanishing charm towards Moody's prosthetic leg, and then slowly pushed himself back to his feet before sending a bone-twisting curse at his other, still functional leg.
Moody let out a string of angry cursewords as soon as he felt his weight shifting beneath him so that he was leaning mostly on his walking stick for support. And as if that weren't bad enough, in the midst of trying to find a way to get the bloody thing back, he caught sight of the curse coming in his direction once he remembered to keep his magical eye on Atticus in the meantime. Of course, by then it was too late and Moody suddenly found himself breathless, on his back, on the atrium floor. If he were feeling at all inclined to have a sense of humor about this, he might have wondered out loud whether a Death Eater had somehow mistaken him for a very ugly purist woman with whom he was desperate to have relations. But considering the amount of pain he was in and the fact that he needed that goddamn leg, Moody was not in a joking mood at all. He was just spitting mad and in utter torment.
Had Atticus been privy to the thoughts going through Moody's head, he likely would have stood and stammered in disbelief, appalled that this man could think such a thing. Which likely would have been better for the ex-Auror since as it was, Atticus's only thoughts were of killing him. The bone-twisting curse was lifted and a killing curse sent in its place. He did not even know how many times he had cast that particular curse this afternoon and not once had it successfully connected with its target but this one suddenly seemed to be the only one that mattered. (Or more likely that was just what he was telling himself to compensate for his earlier failures.) Either way, Moody was a rallying point for the vigilantes and his death would at least even the scales. It was all they could hope for now. Give them time to regroup, gather their forces while they held the Ministry until they were ready to strike again. Properly, this time.
As soon as the curse was lifted, Moody knew that he had very little time to act -- he was in a vulnerable position, which was the last thing he wanted while in the presence of an angry half-Transfigured Death Eater. Clenching his wand, he threw out his own Killing Curse to intercept Atticus's, holding it just long enough so that he could find something to block it. From the corner of his eye, he saw the perfect substitute target -- one of the statues that he loved oh so very much (or not, since Moody wasn't exactly the artistic type). Dropping his curse, he summoned the statue from its threshold and guided it into the line of fire, where it exploded on impact. Poor statue, but no matter. Moody had to finish this.
Still lying on the ground, and unsure of whether he'd even be able to stand when he got a chance to collect himself (everything from the waist down throbbed and not in a good way), he sent a barrage of curses toward the Death Eater, including everything he could think of -- stunning, blasting, melting, stinging curses alike. He wasn't in the mood to be picky. And for a final effect, he swept his wand across the floor, gathering the remnants of the statue together before sending it flying at the Death Eater.
"Take that," he muttered under his breath before falling onto his back on the floor and taking a deep, shuddering breath.
Seeing yet another one of his killing curses deflected left Atticus with an overwhelming feeling of frustration. This was not how this was supposed to go. First off, they should not have even been in this situation at all. And second, the killing curse was supposed to kill people. And for a man who exerted such control over everything in his life, including himself, the realisation that he had absolutely no control over this situation left him feeling very close to throwing a tantrum, right then and there.
Somehow he restrained himself. Somehow.
It helped that the sudden onslaught of curses flying in his direction was a quite effective distraction from his frustration. Spell after spell was deflected, but Atticus was tired and in pain and his reflexes were not what they should have been. A blasting curse made it through his defenses, slamming into his chest and sending him flying back and into the hard, unforgiving floor. He struggled to get up, but his back was having no more of this and instead he remained on the ground as he lifted his wand. "Avada Ked-"
Before he could finish the curse, a chunk of the destroyed statue crashed into his head. Everything seemed to spin for one brief moment of skull splitting pain (maybe even literally) and then Atticus slumped unconscious to the floor, his wand falling from his hand.
Aeneas vs Elphias
It was a room he had walked through a million times before, yet this time Aeneas Nott did not walk through the centre of the Atrium of the Ministry of Magic, head held high. This time he snuck along the edges of the room hoping to make his way to the lift before he was challenged. Atticus had brought him to the Ministry since Aeneas was afraid of splinching and now Aeneas saw that his friend was engaged in a duel with Alastor Moody.
Aeneas of a month prior would not have been concerned - Atticus could certainly hold his own - but this Aeneas was not so sure. He never would have expected the Dark Lord to be felled either, but even as the Death Eater worried for the other man, he continued his way toward the lifts. He had an office to defend, the last remnant of the Dark Lord's empire. It was Aeneas' office and as long as it remained Aeneas' office the Cause could live on.
Elphias Doge wasn't certain how he had survived for so long to get to this point in the battle -- or the entire war, really. Not when so many of the others, especially the younger members of the Order, had so much more to live for and deserved to see the end of this -- and Albus, of course, should be here with the rest of them as they took back the Ministry and wizarding Britain from the Death Eaters; he should be alive to see his work and dedication to making the world a better place come to pass, to witness the end of Voldemort's reign of terror, to lead them in re-building everything once they had finally won and driven out His forces.
But there was still work to be done before reconstruction could begin, and as he peered over the Atrium to see if any of the other Order or Albion members needed help, he noticed Aeneas slinking along the walls several feet away from him. Even now, and despite Albus' murder at Voldemort's hands in April, he had no desire to kill, but he couldn't let a high-ranking Death Eater and 'elected' despot escape justice either.
'Where do you think you are going, Minister Nott?' he called out before aiming his wand at him and muttering, 'Confringo! Incarcerous!' Elphias admittedly wasn't much of a fighter, but hopefully Aeneas was injured enough that the spells he did know would be enough.
Aeneas tried to run when he heard his name, but Elphias' hexes caught up with him rather quickly and the Minister for Magic found himself thrown against the wall, a pile of ropes haphazardly at his feet. He kicked them away, glad that the curse hadn't hit him head on and actually tied him up. He groaned, leaning against the wall for support, and pointed his wand at Doge. "This is my Ministry," he growled. "You will never have it. Avada Kedavra!"
Elphias didn't have a second to give Aeneas a polite retort back before the green light from the Killing Curse was hurtling towards him. Knowing that no shield would be able to stop the spell no matter how strong it was, he dove out of the way and landed roughly against the hard floor of the Atrium. There were several good reasons for why he wasn't much of a fighter and why most of his work for the Order had little to do with combat, but he was still determined to help end this once and for all -- for Albus, for the Order, for everyone else in the wizarding world who had lived their lives in fear under the Death Eaters.
Not wanting to kill despite what the Minister had just tried to do to him, he pointed his wand at him again and shouted, 'Expelliarmus! Petrificus totalus! Stupefy!', hoping at least one of those would hit its mark.
Determined not to lose his Ministry but having difficulty with all of his injuries, Aeneas was unable to try to dodge the spells and instead knew he could only counter them. He no longer cared enough to vary up his attacks, he simply wanted the man dead and for himself to not be incapacitated. "Avada Kedavra! Avada Kedavra! Avada Ke-." The first spell hit Doge's Disarming Spell head-on while the second veered too far to the left. The Full-Body Bind snuck through and hit the Death Eater just as his last Killing Curse was on his lips. Aeneas felt himself go stiff and, staring at the man with his unmoving eyes, he realised for the first time that he had been bested. From the sounds ringing throughout the rest of the Atrium and what he could see with his eyes, it seemed like many of the others were being bested as well. Was this defeat? Panic swelled up inside him when he realised that this time there would be no one left to break him out of Azkaban (assuming he was lucky enough to escape the Dementor's Kiss) and, had Aeneas Nott been able to cry, he would have shed a tear for his Cause, his lost friends, his heir and, of course, his wine.
Walden vs Gawain, take two
It had taken some effort involving an enormous rock and finally his wand, but Walden had managed to free himself from Gawain's ropes. His anger had graduated to a full tilt rage and he headed for the entrance gate with the Ministry building in the forefront of his mind. He'd regrouped with the remaining Death Eaters and there was very little discussion of a plan. The only thing that mattered was keeping control of the government. Everything else was not important.
Walden spotted Gawain upon entering the Atrium and he immediately fired a killing curse in his direction. Gawain dodged the curse behind a pillar and shards of plaster sprayed through the air. He wasn't all that surprised to see Walden again so soon, but he couldn't say he was happy about it.
He poked his head and wand arm around the pillar. "Confringo!"
The spell smashed into Walden's chest and the wind was forced from his lungs. He had heard an awful crack under the pressure but the pain that followed the sound was like a million blades stabbing into his chest. Walden mirrored Gawain's blast and the ball of light hit the pillar that he was hiding behind.
Gawain flinched at the explosion but he didn't move from behind his shield. He did not relish the idea of finding himself on the other end of a second Cruciatus. He peaked around and did not see Walden anywhere. There were other fights going on but Walden was missing.
The Death Eater had tucked himself behind his own pillar so that he could have a moment to recuperate. He could hardly breathe but he had to stay strong. He would kill this man. He used his wand to lift a large piece of rubble and with a swing he brought it around the side of Gawain's hiding spot.
The piece of stone connected with his left arm and pinched it underneath the pillar. Gawain screamed, knowing that there was at least one broken bone there. He'd gone all day without an injury and now they were tearing each other apart in the Atrium of the Ministry. Gawain ran out from behind his shield and attacked with an arsenal of spells ranging from stunning spells to leg locking jinxes, hoping to bring the Death Eater to the ground.
Walden tried to defend himself but it hurt to breathe, which meant it hurt to speak. He tried to block the attacks with non-verbal shields and it worked almost as well as he could have hoped. One of Gawain's blasts tagged his shoulder and it ripped him away from the pillar. He hit the wall behind him with ridiculous force. His back hurt, his shoulders hurt, and it felt like someone had rearranged his internal organs. He did his best to stand but he failed. His wand had fallen from his hand and he could see it, resting uselessly against the wall feet out of his reach.
Across the room he watched Scrimgeour murder Iago and then Walden gave up. Aeneas and Atticus were duelling in the same room but none of them would walk away. It was prison or death, which were both terrible options.
On the upside he would be a bachelor again. He looked up at Gawain with a glare that came nowhere near to saying what he wanted to say, and then the Auror stunned him and Walden was done fighting. The next walls he would see would be three made of stone and one made of bars that would make sure that he never forgot the things that he had done.
Gawain would make sure of it.
The rest of the ministry had gone silent as sounds of fighting from the Atrium rose up through the building. People were afraid, and they were trapped. Even if they could have made it to the Atrium, how would they get out with (whoever it was they were supposed to be afraid of now) down there? A few hitwizards tried desperately to find and disable the wards, desperation making their work quick and clumsy. Members of the Department of Magical Sports and Games, remembering the last time people resisted capture, hid under their desks. Bravery wasn't even a believable front anymore. Some people, incapable of believing or coping with what was happening below, sat back at their desks, the WWN a blurry drone now, and went back to work. They didn't know what to do. And then suddenly there was an answer, in the form of a bellowing voice that reverberated through the entire building.
They recognised that voice, the voice of a celebrated auror -- an auror they'd had a hard time swallowing as a terrorist. If anyone wasn't a dark wizard it was Moody, that paranoid, wonderful bastard. Some were further terrified, some pretended they heard nothing, but some took up their wands, gathered whatever courage they had remaining, and prayed as they headed for the lifts that they would make it home to their families.
On the ground floor, there were already some dead; blood stained the tiles, and even the mighty fountain had taken damage. Furious fighting between ex-employees and current-employees (death eaters? some dared to whisper) scared those who first stepped from the lift, but those behind pushed on, and soon the fighting had intensified ten-fold. Standing side by side with aurors, hitwizards, and Order members alike, members of every floor, from Magical Transportation to the office of the Minister himself, fought against those who had brought so much pain and chaos to the people of Britain. They fought for their country, they fought for their families, and, most importantly, they fought for freedom.
And then, after some had fallen and some had lived, it was over.
Forced back by superior numbers, death eaters fled to the floos, or fell, or surrendered. There was nothing left to fight for. The Dark Lord was dead and whatever foundation they had built for the future of society had crumbled in the last few weeks of insanity. The inner circle was broken without a master, and the outer circle could not follow their crushed leaders. Those who could escape to their families, those who could flee the country, abandoned their comrades, afraid that they, too, would never see loved ones again. That they, too, were going to die for a cause that seemed so unimportant next to life and freedom. And in the end, that was what won a war: the ever-present, desperate, and utterly human desire to live.
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