On Archive of Our Own
On Twisting the Hellmouth
XXIV: Truces and Treaties
As Minerva entered the great hall most of her attention was taken up by smashed tables and the huge Muggle truck that had demolished them. Around it were a couple of dozen people, mostly muggle-borns she recognized from the school, and two young women wearing oddly archaic armour. Hermione was standing on one of the surviving tables, and seemed to be organizing things: "Harry, if there's time you need to get down to the Chamber of Secrets and get some basilisk fangs. Diana, Ron can show you the Room of Requirement, and Luna knows what the Diadem looks like, we're counting on you to destroy it. Everyone who hasn't got wands should go to the Room of Requirement too, there should be plenty of old wands there, you might get lucky and find something that works for you. But wait until they've destroyed the Diadem, that thing is dangerous! John, get ready to dump the truck. And..."
Minerva clapped her hands sharply. "Miss Granger, Mister Potter, Mister Weasley, welcome back. Am I to take it you have some sort of plan for dealing with our current situation?"
"We think so," said Harry, "but it's a bit complicated."
"Of course it is. Now will you please explain why the wards are indicating the presence of two demons?"
Harry took a deep breath. "Okay... one of them is inside Luna. It's an attempted possession, we have it under control for now."
Luna smiled and waved, as one of the women in armour, one side of her face covered by a half mask, stepped forward. "And I am Mazikeen of the Lilim, General of Lucifer's armies, here under truce. Your pitiful dark lord tried to cheat Hell, and indirectly my master. I am here to ensure that he pays for this mistake."
"Oh Merlin," said Percy, drawing his wand and moving in front of Thickness. Shacklebolt and Minerva drew their wands too.
"Wait," said Thicknesse. "I am the Minister for Magic. What are the terms of the truce?"
"I am to destroy the creature Voldemort, or whatever he calls himself now, or at least witness his death and ensure that he does not escape, and remove all dementors. They should not have been allowed out of Hell."
"And after that?"
"I return to my master. I am not authorized to negotiate additional services, and I know that Lucifer would not wish me to offer them, regardless of price."
"If we capture Voldemort rather than killing him?"
"I will kill him for you. Immediately. He is too dangerous to be given another chance."
Thicknesse rubbed his forehead, thinking for a moment, then said "Done. Weasley, record it as my decision. One question, General Mazikeen; did someone summon you? We have strict laws about that..."
"The only summoning has been done by Voldemort, the demon that is now inside the child. Lucifer sent me here when he learned of Voldemort's betrayal."
"And you mentioned a truce?"
"The Princess and I agreed to work together to help Harry Potter defeat Voldemort. We will settle our differences later."
The other woman in armour nodded at him. "I am Princess Diana of Themiscyra. I owed a life-debt that will be satisfied by the defeat of Voldemort."
"The Amazon homeland," said Rolanda Hooch, who had followed them into the hall while they were talking. "Do keep up, Minister." She smiled at Diana. "It's been a long time, my dear. I was sorry I missed you the last time you visited, perhaps we can talk later." Diana smiled back.
"Amazons?" Thicknesse said dazedly, "Do we even have a treaty?"
"My country prefers to minimize its involvement with other nations. Unfortunately the wizard Voldemort chose a path that..."
"Stop saying his name!" said Thicknesse, "don't you know he has a taboo on it?"
"Not any more," said Constantine, "Riddle's silly anagram name isn't based on his full name, which breaks spells and contracts that used it. He was a Thomas, not a Tom. I've done the ritual to fix a new anagram to him, the idiot never did anything to block it, so the taboo on his old name is gone. But if you want to attract his attention the new name is Lord Revolted Sham. Yup, he felt that, can't do anything about it though, not in here."
"Excellent spell-work," said Minerva, "mister.. ah.."
"Constantine. John Constantine."
"Really? I've been wanting to meet you for some time."
Harry murmured to Hermione. "Something tells me that isn't good news for John."
"You're not kidding, she's just gone from worried to bloody furious."
Harry raised his voice. "The clock's ticking, and there's a lot to do. Everyone, let's get on with it while there's still a castle to save."
"You know," Hermione said, "we're going to look like total idiots if the bastard doesn't attack the castle."
"There are already a few Death Eaters close to the castle," said Minerva, "probably scouts. I'd imagine that the rest of their forces will arrive soon."
"Good point. Let's get cracking!"
"What in Merlin's name was that?" asked Ginny Weasley.
"Sounded like a muggle car crash," said Neville Longbottom. "Low down in the castle."
"You're right. I heard a really loud horn too. Hope it wasn't Dad's old car."
"The House is still locked down," said Alicia Spinet, rattling the common room door. "Alohamora!"
"I could have told you that wouldn't work," said Ginny. "Let me take a look." She dug into her robe and pulled out a stick of chalk, and carefully marked some runes on the back of the door. "Bill taught me this one, it ought to work if they're not using anything too unusual." She cast a rune activation spell, and the door slowly swung open.
"What about the Fat Lady?" asked Neville.
"If it worked right she won't notice anything while the runes are active."
"Only one way to find out," said Neville, climbing through the opening, wand in hand. The Fat Lady sat immobile, her eyes blank. "Okay, I think it's all clear." Ginny followed him out.
Nearly Headless Nick drifted through the corridor wall a moment later. "I say, what are you doing out of your house?"
"Trying to find out what's going on," said Ginny.
"I was just coming to tell you. Back inside, please, I need to make an announcement."
"Inside please. Now!"
They reluctantly climbed back into the common room.
"Please get everyone down from the dormitories," said Sir Nicholas, "this concerns all of you." He waited while people ran upstairs and came back down.
"I think that's everyone," said Neville.
"Very well. Pay attention, please. The headmistress has been warned that Death Eaters will be attacking Hogwarts tonight. Some defensive measures are being prepared, and it's important that everyone stay out of the corridors for the time being. Arrangements are being made to evacuate as many students as possible, starting with the first years and some older students to escort them, and you will be called down shortly. Please make sure that you are all carrying your wands, and anything small that you want to take with you. You won't be able to take trunks, unless you can shrink them. Any questions?"
"Why are they attacking now?" asked Ginny.
"There was an incident earlier this evening," said Sir Nicholas, "there were several deaths including our late headmaster, and You-Know-Who has apparently decided that those responsible would seek refuge here."
"It has to be Harry!" said Lavender Brown.
"Mister Potter and his friends were apparently involved, but I have no details."
"Is he here?" Ginny asked excitedly.
"I'll bet you a galleon he is," said Neville.
"Fool's bet," said Lavender, "You know what Harry's like, he's not going to miss it."
"Sir Nicholas," said Ginny, "what do we do if we want to stay and help?"
"I have no idea. Speak to the Headmistress when you're called downstairs."
"I've sent out word," said Minerva, "I hope we'll be getting help, but we'll be hardening the wards as soon as there's any sign of... him, anyone who arrives will probably be trapped outside unless you have a better idea."
"Constantine got us here though a portal," said Hermione, setting a brisk pace away from the hall, "We're going to be evacuating the kids that way, unless you have a better idea? Once we've done that maybe we could open it up somewhere in Hogsmeade to let people come in."
"Where are you planning to send the children?"
"I thought the Forest of Dean. We were there a few weeks ago, it's a nice big area without many tourists now that the muggle kids are back in school. If we send some prefects and house elves to keep things under control there shouldn't be any problems."
"Where exactly are we going?"
"We need something from the Defence classroom, it's part of our plan. Harry's taking care of another part."
"Am I going to like these plans when I hear them?"
"Depends really... what are your feelings on divine intervention?"
"You might not want to say that too loudly or often tonight."
In the Room of Requirement Diana's sword flashed down, and Ravenclaw's Diadem shattered, fragments of metal flying off in all directions, and bouncing off Ron's hastily-erected shield charm. A cloud of smoke rose from the largest piece, shaping into Voldemort's face, and she cast her lasso to contain it. Death appeared to cup her hands around the contracting sphere of rope and retrieve the soul-fragment. Luna blew her a kiss, the others couldn't see her.
"That's right," said Ron, "kiss the bugger goodbye. Another one bites the dust. The bastard's mortal now."
"If all our guesses are right," said Diana.
"They are," said Luna. "I don't think that Death would be smiling like that if there were any left."
"Riiiight," said Ron. "Well, fingers crossed. Okay, all sorts of junk in here. Accio Wands!" Ron ducked as nearly fifty wands flew at him from all directions, and hastily cancelled the spell so that they fell around him and Luna. "Awesome. Give me a hand, Luna, let's get these outside. With a bit of luck some of the people we rescued will find something they can use."
Luna picked up one of the wands, a slim stick like a chopstick, made of oak with an acorn pattern carved into the wood, and tucked it behind her ear. "This one's mine, the Carrows must have dumped it when they took me, so maybe some of the others will find their wands here." She helped gather the wands and they took them out to the waiting witches and wizards.
"My Lord," said Bellatrix, "the surviving scouts have reached Hogwarts. They report that the wards are active."
"No surprise. How long until the werewolves arrive?"
"Another five minutes or so. My Lord..." She hesitated.
"We're lost seven trolls and two giants. Mostly to centaur attacks, but two trolls were killed by a mass acromantula attack."
"The clumsy brutes must have stumbled into a nest. How exactly does a centaur kill a giant?"
"Archery, my Lord. The scouts report that their bows look different, but couldn't get close enough to be certain. Bates thinks they may be using crossbows or arbalests, they seem to be more powerful than their old bows."
"Then kill the centaurs, of course, do I have to think of everything?"
"With respect, my Lord..."
"It might be better to wait until we've recaptured Hogwarts. The centaurs are a nuisance, but if we divert forces to attack them it will weaken our attack."
"Hmm... Very well."
Bellatrix braced herself for another Crucio, but it didn't come. Instead Voldemort glared out across the forest again, and cast a spell in Parseltongue. The tent, pitched on a high quality Arabian flying carpet, rose into the air and began to fly towards Hogwarts.
"Okay, guys," said Fred, passing out small cardboard boxes to some house elves. "Spread these around on firm ground outside the castle walls, but for Merlin's sake don't let the Death Eaters see you, I don't want any of you getting hurt."
"Pointed end up, okay?" added George.
"Easy-peasy, Masters Weasley," said the elf who seemed to be in charge. "Nobody is seeing us when we dont's want to be seen."
"Thanks, guys, when you get back we've got a couple of boxes of cockroach clusters for you."
"Okeys dokey." The house-elves vanished.
"Last group!" shouted George. Another dozen house elves ran forward. "Okay, guys, last one's a little trickier." He held up a wine bottle with a wax seal, which appeared to be full of swirling smoke. "We need these spread around wherever there's a bit of cover. In bushes, ditches, under benches, down rabbit holes but not too deep, that sort of thing. But for Merlin's sake don't break the bottles or damage the seals, or shake them too much, that could get nasty, and don't let anyone see you."
One of the elves took a bottle gingerly, rapped it with his knuckles, and winced as the bottle momentarily glowed bright green. "This what we thinks it is?"
"You really don't want to know," said Fred.
"Just really, really, really don't break anything," said George.
"Box of clusters each for this one."
"We can give you four tonight, the rest will have to wait until someone can get them from Honeydukes."
"Deal!" The elves began to share out the bottles and pop away.
"Okay," said Fred, "let's get up to the battlements."
"You reek," said Ron.
"Sorry," said Harry, "the Chamber still stinks of rotting basilisk. I had to use a bubblehead charm to breathe down there."
"You got the fangs?"
"Eleven of the buggers. How's the evacuation going?"
"Everyone's gone that's going. But a lot of the sixth and seventh years are insisting on staying to fight or help. Including Ginny and Neville."
"What about the Slytherins?"
Ron shrugged. "Most of their sixth and seventh years are missing, I heard someone say that Snape's ghost turned up and took them off to do something for Voldy. We checked the others for the Dark Mark, and sent them off with the evacuees."
"Snape's ghost? No way. The bastard's been dead about two hours and he's already causing problems. Balls... How much time have we got?"
"We're pretty much out of it," said Hermione, staring into a crystal ball that was monitoring the edge of the Forbidden Forest. "I think Voldemort just arrived."
"Is everything ready?"
"It'd better be."
As the carpet landed Voldemort strode out of the tent, touched his wand to his throat, and said "Sonorus!" His voice amplified, he said "Students and teachers of Hogwarts... you have fifteen minutes to surrender."
There was no reply for a moment, then a glowing light appeared above the Astronomy Tower, like a golden aurora. It seemed to shift and writhe, then resolved itself into a familiar shape, a human face about fifty feet across.
"Hello, Tom," said Albus Dumbledore, "We've been waiting for you."
Notes: For some reason I was under the impression that the greenhouses were outside the castle walls and near the lake when I wrote Chapter XXII. For simplicity let's just say that they keep some of the REALLY dangerous stuff used in years 6 and 7 herbology at a safe distance from the castle...
Comments please before I post to archives.