On Archive of Our Own
On Twisting the Hellmouth
XXVIII: Too Stubborn To Die?
Voldemort shouted "Quansb par tol!" as three of the hairless warriors kneeled to bite him and (Harry suspected) inject venom that would kill any normal man. Harry hoped it wouldn't make him stronger. Two of the bearded warriors were down, apparently dead, probably victims of Voldemort's last spell, the others were literally pinning Voldemort down, their swords impaling him.
"Too stubborn to die, Tom?" Behind him Diana deflected another cutting curse, the reflected spell whizzing off over the lake and gradually fading into nothingness. Harry didn't notice, almost all of his attention was on Voldemort. It was time to try something Hermione had suggested.
"You can't kill me, you fools! I am..."
"Expecto Patronum!" The white stag flew at Voldemort, trampling and goring him with its antlers. Harry knew it couldn't do any physical damage, but these days Voldemort wasn't exactly physical, he was an evil soul fragment riding a homunculus. Maybe something intangible and opposed to evil could drive him out, if Harry could believe in it hard enough. The stag's head rose and fell, its antlers dipping deep into Voldemort's head and chest. And suddenly something rose with them, a churning screaming black miasma Harry instantly recognized. Diana snapped her lasso out, whipping it around the last soul remnant and wrapping it in layer after layer of golden cord, a throbbing mass that tried to pull away from her. With a last horrible shriek Voldemort's body disintegrated into a plume of grey ashes, rising into the sky.
Death appeared, her hands cupped around the knotted lasso. There was the sound of beating wings and it sagged, the knot suddenly empty. She smiled at Diana and Harry then vanished again. The fight continued around them for a few moments, then seemed to slacken off as they were bathed in a sickly grey light, and most of the Death Eaters stared up at the source. Harry ducked down under a cutting curse and turned to look.
Floating down across the lake was a humanoid figure roughly ten feet tall, the right site of its face in shadow, the left glowing like the moon, growing taller by the second. Harry wasn't sure if it was a man or a woman at first, then he found more pressing concerns and dove to one side as another cutter narrowly missed him, firing Bombarda Maxima!" at his attacker.
"Great Hera!" said Diana, as Harry's spell exploded in the middle of a clump of Death Eaters, "Eclipso! Voldemort called it before he died."
Harry looked again, and thought he recognized some of Luna's features in the approaching demon as it raised its hands towards the sky, and swirling clouds began to appear. In seconds the sky was inky dark, and lightning began to flicker in the clouds. A beam of darkness swept from its left eye, moving from one group of Death Eaters to another and leaving death and destruction in its wake, as lightning flashed down to incinerate one of the trolls.
"Luna, you don't have to do this!" shouted Harry. "Voldemort's dead, there's no reason to obey him."
The demon laughed, its voice deep and inhuman. "OBEY?"
A phone rang in Tonguetongs' off-site office. "Report."
"Voldemort is down," said Switchblade. "Confirmed by the detector spells, he's gone for good. There's still fighting going on, I think Potter and the Princess are dealing with the remaining Death Eaters. Unfortunately..."
"He summoned the demon before he died."
"Don't say its name. You can see it?"
"Airborne over Hogwarts grounds, about twenty feet tall and growing."
"Then get the hell out of there, you idiot! Cover your tracks as you go!" Tonguetongs slammed the phone down, and headed back to Diagon Alley. It was time to evacuate all goblins to the deepest caves.
"My arm hurts," said Draco Malfoy, "where I was Marked."
"Show me," said Narcissa.
He rolled up his sleeve, revealing the Dark Mark, now red and inflamed.
"That isn't the Dark Lord's normal summons," said Narcissa. "Can you feel him calling to you?"
"No, it's just really bloody painful."
"Dobby," called Narcissa, "we need something to heal a bad pain."
After an interminable wait Kreacher appeared. "Dobby is busy. What do the prisoners want?"
"Draco's arm is hurting," said Narcissa. "I think the Dark Lord may have done something to his Mark."
"Must have been killed again," Kreacher said with a shrug. "Properly this time. Strange..."
"What exactly is 'strange?'"
"Dark Lord has a curse on the mark, when he dies for good all Death Eaters die too. All Death Eater house elves know this." He gestured at Draco. "Why isn't he dying?"
"What do you mean, the elves know?" asked Draco, clutching his arm. "Why didn't you tell your masters?"
"Elves smell the magic. Try to tell masters, but Dark Lord made it a secret, they couldn't hear the words. Didn't work anyway. Never mind, maybe you'll die later." Kreacher shrugged and vanished with a pop. A couple of minutes later a jar of burn salve appeared on the table, and Narcissa began to treat Draco's arm.
In the Forest of Dean nine sixth-formers who'd managed to avoid discovery during the evacuation were nursing similar burns, afraid to reveal them to the other evacuees. In the crypts under Hogwarts the students Snape had potioned whimpered in their sleep, but none came close to waking.
"Do you think we should set off the other bottles?"
Fred Weasley thought for a moment, then shook his head. "It might have been a good idea if we'd done it while it was only Death Eaters out there, but Harry's out there now - and Ron and Hermione and that weird Greek bird with the armour. It'd throw them off their game."
"Probably wouldn't do much to hurt a demon anyway," said George. "Pity, it was a great idea. Banshee in a bottle..."
"We'll have to save it for the next Dark Lord that comes along..."
More than half the Death Eaters were down, dead or incapacitated by the Riot Act spell, the rest were trying to flee, and Eclipso towered over the grounds nearly fifty feet tall, as clouds covered the sky and gale force winds blew. On the borders of the Forbidden Forest the surviving trolls and fleeing Death Eaters were under heavy fire from the centaurs. Twice Diana had used her shield to defend herself and Harry from one of the demon's black blasts.
"Hypermenés Días!" Diana called to the Gods, "Hypermenés Athená! Dóse mou dýnamin! Hypermenés Apóllonas, dóse hemîn to phos sou!"
Harry transfigured some of the wreckage from the battlefield into long spears, then shouted at the eight surviving Spartoi and basilisk-men, "Come on, we've got a demon to fight!" Later, he couldn't remember if he'd shouted in English, Greek, Parseltongue or a mixture of all three, but they somehow got the message, and ran to snatch the spears from his hands. They advanced on the demon's legs - Harry was trying not to think of it as Luna - and broke into a run, with Harry and Diana leading the charge. Eclipso seemed to ignore them at first, but at the last moment leapt into the air, hovered there for a moment as the puzzled warriors threw their spears at her bare feet, then abruptly dropped back to the ground, splintering spears and squashing three of the warriors as she landed. The impact made the ground quake and threw Harry off his feet, but he rolled and came up again, wand in hand, as Diana threw her lasso to wrap around Eclipso's legs.
"Expecto Patronum!" It was a forlorn hope, but the only spell Harry could think of that might have any effect on a demon. The stag patronus flew up towards her head. It was the largest he'd ever cast, nearly ten feet tall - and completely dwarfed by her. As it passed her chest she reached out and somehow siezed it, her mouth opening impossibly wide to swallow it whole. And as she did so Harry felt his connection to the patronus shatter, and somehow knew he would never be able to cast it again in that form.
Diana leapt into the air and began to circle the demon, evading her blasts and entangling her in an ever-increasing length of golden rope, and Harry yelled "Locomotor Mortis", casting the strongest leg-locking curse he could manage, following it up with a succession of body-bind curses, to no effect, as the warriors tried to stab her legs, their swords barely scratching her skin.
"Need a hand?"
Harry snapped round and saw Mazikeen, her armour and sword dripping blood, with several semi-transparent heads he guessed were from dementors in a net bag at her side, and a huge multi-jointed leg, probably from an acromantula, in her free hand.
"Can you stop her?"
"Eclipso? I can probably kill her, if that's what you want."
"No! That's still Luna in there!" "Tough break. No, then there isn't much I can do to help." She took a bite from the acromantula leg, and added "Want some?"
"No thanks." Harry ducked to evade a killing curse thrown by one of the few Death Eaters that were still on their feet, and cast "Confringo!" at the source of the spell.
"Hey, asshole," said Mazikeen "don't interrupt!" She turned away from Harry, saying "Don't look," and removed her half-mask. Harry was trying to protect the warriors from stray spells and couldn't spare much attention, but the tiny glimpses he saw hinted at strange angular forms, mind-wrenching dimensions and chaotic movement, a light where no light should have been. A Death Eater screamed and apparated away, followed by another, then several more. Unnoticed by Harry, they reappeared high above the Astronomy Tower, plummeting down from Constantine's illusion to bounce off the castle wards and out into the lake. Some would eventually make it to shore, others were stunned by the fall and drowned or fell victim to vindictive mermen and grindylows. Others began to run, a rout that took them within range of the approaching centaur herd's arrows. Mostly the centaurs were aiming to wound, not kill, but their new high-powered bows meant that there were several more deaths.
Hermione crouched over Ron, covering both of them with the cloak and trying to find a general healing potion in her bag. They'd been fine until Eclipso started to attack the Death Eaters, but then they'd been clipped by a Bombarda Maxima spell thrown blindly by a fleeing witch. Hermione had cracked ribs and a horrible headache, Ron was bleeding from his nose and ears, and wasn't responding to Rennervate and other basic healing spells. She didn't dare try anything more complicated, she wasn't sure she'd be able to cope if she was as concussed as she thought.
Eclipso tried to blast Diana with her dark rays, which Diana dodged or reflected back with her shield, and trample Harry and the warriors. Although the lasso was limiting its movements the demon turned slowly, until the castle was in its line of sight, and the next blast hit the castle wards, pierced them as though they didn't exist, and blew a huge hole in Ravenclaw Tower. Inside the castle Anthony Goldstein and Marietta Edgecombe were killed by falling debris, another four students were wounded. The survivors evacuated down to lower floors, and continued to cast spells at Eclipso and the Death Eaters.
Harry had a sudden brainwave, cast Sonorus on himself, and shouted "Cast light spells, everyone, as bright as you can or we're all dead. Lumos Maxima!" A brilliant ball of light appeared on his wand, and he flicked it towards Eclipso's face. In the castle most of the defenders followed his example, and some of the Death Eaters began to join in. Soon the light was brighter than the full moon.
"IS THAT THE BEST YOU CAN DO?" Eclipso roared, "YOUR PUNY LIGHTS are very pretty," she said, switching to Luna's voice in mid sentence, "but they need SOON YOU WILL DIE!"
Diana landed, looped the lasso around a rock outcrop and began to pull the demon to her knees, repeating her chant: "Hypermenés Días! Hypermenés Athená! Dóse mou dýnamin! Hypermenés Apóllonas, dóse hemîn to phos sou!"
For a moment nothing seemed to happen, then there was a sudden eerie silence. And somewhere a bird began to sing. It was a sweet, haunting melody, soft at first then becoming louder, accompanied by a burst of bright red flame amidst the spell lights. The flame grew brighter by the second, and Eclipso turned its dark beams on it. They vanished as they hit the light. The ball of flame doubled in size and brightness, and in it Harry thought he could see the shape of a bright red bird, a phoenix. In moments it outshone all of the other lights, flaring so bright that it hurt to look at it, and blazing an actinic blue-white.
"Cover your eyes!" shouted Diana.
Harry raised his hand to shade them, and realised that he could see the bones of his fingers silhouetted by the light penetrating his flesh. He blinked hard, seeing bright light even with them closed, then the light abruptly vanished. He looked up again, blinking, to see a cloud of burning sparks drifting down, and Eclipso shrinking, her face changing. The sparks were falling faster now, and Harry hastily raised his wand, shouting "Accio phoenix ashes!". A stream of sparks shot toward his hands, and he caught them, feeling the heat through his dragon-hide gloves. By the time the last of them were in his hands Luna was back to her normal size, and looking her old self.
There was a soft "cheep" and the beak of a baby phoenix appeared from the pile of ashes, shaking them off. Harry thought it looked familiar. "Fawkes?" asked Harry. The phoenix cheeped again, and Harry was sure it meant "yes".
"I asked the gods for their aid," said Diana, "Zeus and Athena for strength, and Apollo for his light. He's the god of the sun and music, phoenixes are in his domain. I think he was listening."
All the fight seemed to be gone from the remaining Death Eaters. Some were unconscious, others seemed to be blinded, and the rest were surrendering to the surviving warriors and the centaurs. Luna looked around, and Diana said "Is Eclipso gone?"
Luna smiled. "He's gone, burned away by the light, at least until some other idiot summons him. It's just me and Del now. But that's nothing new, she's been with me for years."
"Okay," said Harry, "that explains a few things. Are you feeling okay?"
"A bit wobbly," said Luna. The lasso dropped from her and shrank back to a coil at Diana's waist.
"I've got my hands a bit full," said Harry, "but I've still got the cola and some pepper-up potion if you want it."
"You've both been hurt," said Diana, "and a lot of the Death Eaters are seriously ill, can you call for help?"
"I'll do it," said Luna, "Expecto Patronum!" Her usual hare appeared, and she spoke to it for a moment then sent it to Professor McGonagall.
"Your friends need help," said Mazekeen, as usual surprising him by her abrupt arrival. She was wearing her mask again and carrying Ron. Hermione limped behind her, looking a little dazed.
"Are you all right?" asked Harry.
"I think I might be a little concussed," said Hermione, "and everything's looking a bit blurry. I think Ron is badly hurt."
"Bugger. Fawkes, can you help them, please?" He held the phoenix over Ron, worried that he might refuse to go near Mazekeen. Fawkes looked at him, seemed to shrug, then fluttered down, landing on Ron's face and pried his mouth open with a claw. A glistening tear rolled down his beak and into Ron's mouth. He fed Ron another tear, then hopped back onto Harry's hand. Harry took him to Hermione and repeated the process, then Fawkes climbed up his arm and settled on his shoulder, chewing on his ear lobe.
Luna giggled. "I think Fawkes has a new pet."
"Sounds about right," said Harry, grinning broadly. "I could sleep for a week."
"Let's hope you have the opportunity," said Diana, "there's still a lot to do. I think that you've won your war, now you have to win the peace."
End notes: Apologies for the delay on this chapter, I've been a little blocked on it. There's probably one more chapter and an epilogue to come, if all goes well.
I wanted a way to finish off Voldemort that I hadn't seen a dozen times before, I hope that this feels vaguely plausible.
Greek translation, via Google and corrected by whswhs on Livejournal:
"Hypermenés Días! Hypermenés Athená! Dóse mou dýnamin! Hypermenés Apóllonas, dóse hemîn to phos sou!"
"Great Zeus! Great Athena! Grant me strength! Great Apollo, grant us your light!"
Enochian (via various web sites):
"Quansb par tol!"
"Destroy them all!"
For anyone interested in the Antikythera Mechanism mentioned in earlier chapters, there's news on continued work to reconstruct the mechanism, which is even more complicated than it first seemed:
Comments please before I post to archives
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