Shut Up And Multiply, Part Two

Professor Quirrell was on the defensive, now. He had held off Baba Yaga andPerenelle before, but even he had his limits.

Riddle was more powerful than he had been before. David Monroe had spent hisdecade alone in space planning new spells and rituals, consolidating his graspof power, and now Riddle had somehow surpassed him despite having beenconscious and sane for under a minute.

He really should have thought of this.

He’d recognised, of course, that this plan would be absurdly risky.

But “risk” meant very little to David Monroe, what with his Horcruxes andcertain other special measures he’d taken.

This had obviously all been set up in advance in some manner. He didn’t havetime to think who the mastermind might have been.

Possessing Granger probably hadn’t been part of the plan, so Riddle must havea backup body… and yes, Baba Yaga had drawn something from a hidden pocket andcast it to the ground, and a too-tall man’s form lay still on the ground,glowing faintly blue. Breaking the possession would be pointless.

There was an Anti-Apparition Jinx up now, which he could trivially break ifhe weren’t, in fact, fighting for his life.

Riddle ran beneath him, inhuman speed more than making up for his lack ofbroomstick bones, and David barely deflected a wave of wrongness thatturned space in on itself and sucked the magic out of the air.

Even Dumbledore wasn’t this powerful.

And he made the obvious connection. Riddle had somehow gone to the Flamelsand arranged this, and the price he’d asked for, in exchange for retrievingtheir Stone, was all their hoarded lore…

David’s wand was almost knocked out of his hand by the next wave of magic. Hewas tiring, fast.

Harry was under his Cloak, and if he had something up his sleeve, it wasn’thelping David now.

He had no allies yet living who could meaningfully aid him.

Harry was wearing the True Cloak of Invisibility. He had broomsticks andemergency Portkeys. If all else failed, he was connected to the Horcruxes. Theboy could look after himself.

Winning this battle was not on the table, but he’d planned for thiseventuality, just in case, because there was no “too paranoid” when it cameto Voldemort. He might be able to defeat the Dark Lord, if it came to a SecondWizarding War, so long as he still held the Philosopher’s Stone.

Lose.

Without warning, David shot up into the sky like a bullet from a gun, weavingairtight shields around himself, inclining to the side and out of the range ofthe Jinx, and finally vanished with a soft pop of Apparition.

OoOoO

The Dark Lord has returned. Professor Quirrell cannot stop him. He will takethe Philosopher’s Stone and tear apart everything you know. He has Hermione’sbody and the magic of a troll and unicorn. He has over a hundred Horcruxes.

Solve.

… Harry couldn’t think of anything Professor Quirrell wouldn’t already havethought of.

What can I do that he can’t? What can I do that he _wouldn’t?_

Tom Riddle has a severe known bias: systematically failing to properlyconsider other people.

Harry looked at his Patronus.

He closed his eyes and willed it to listen to him: go to Professor Dumbledoreand tell him this: the Dark Lord has returned. Come quickly, with help.

The Patronus vanished.

Sirius seemed to have fallen to magical exhaustion, and Quirrell was fightingalone.

Harry looked up and saw Professor Quirrell fly high, high into the sky andDisapparate, and his stomach sank. No, no, no…

Albus Dumbledore burned into existence in all the fury of his wizardry, Snape,McGonagall, Bones and Moody about him.

And the Dark Lord turned and blasted him with a curse that brokeDumbledore’s rapid counterspell with a mighty crack, and Dumbledore stumbledback with his face showing raw shock.

THINK! Harry screamed at his brain. Quirrell had taken the Stone and fled,but if Harry left now, he would leave four people to die - and maybeDumbledore too, if Voldemort and Baba Yaga and Perenelle combined couldovercome the wielder of the Elder Wand.

The Order of the Phoenix fanned out, setting themselves behind Dumbledore,raising their wands.

The Dark Lord held his wand casually in Hermione’s hand, smirking.

“It was foolish of you to come here tonight, Albus,” said Tom Riddle withHermione Granger’s voice, in an entirely uncaring tone that Hermione herselfhad never once used.

Dumbledore might have been mistaken for a statue.

Hermione’s lips curled into a smile, and Voldemort gestured to the two at hisside. “Your friends the Flamels were very forthcoming with their secrets,you know.”

Dumbledore did break, then, and his gaze flicked between Baba Yaga andPerenelle with a terrible comprehension, and the Dark Lord laughed.

Harry was reminded horribly of the feeling when he’d finally put two and twotogether and guessed that Professor Quirrell was Lord Voldemort.

“Nihil supernum,” said Dumbledore, and nothing more.

OoOoO

Minerva stood beneath the moonlight, keeping steady control over herbreathing.

Riddle did have a flair for the dramatic - unless that’s another mask - butthat wasn’t the only reason for this delay.

Most offensive magic made some sort of sign, some sound or light or tangiblesense of magic that might actually be significant in a duel this close.There might be other subtleties to consider, with the sort of Interdictedmagic Albus used.

It seemed hopeless. Minerva didn’t understand what was happening, but if theFlamels had joined Voldemort she doubted even Albus could triumph.

I see you still look to others to save you.

David Monroe had said those words to her, and after the useless indignationhad faded, she’d mulled them over.

What can _I do, personally, to make a difference?_

Transfiguration, came the obvious answer.

Minerva hesitated. Using Transfiguration in combat was, was…

Was significantly less dangerous than letting Lord Voldemort live.

She couldn’t match Albus in skill, but perhaps there was something even hewouldn’t think of…

She could not afford - no, the entire world could not afford for her to besqueamish.

She looked hard at the enemy, and tried to think like Harry Potter, look forsome Hufflepuff bones to sharpen.

Voldemort was shielded already, naturally, nothing outside the shield. Thatwouldn’t stop anything Dumbledore cast, but it would slow down lesser magicand mundane forces. Albus Dumbledore was no pureblood supremacist - he hadheard of such things as sniper rifles, and Voldemort had adapted accordingly.

The Flamels, then. Albus had told her they were not accustomed tointerference, knowledgeable but lacking the insight that was essential for apowerful wizard or witch to make best use of eldritch lore. They werecertainly not used to combat, if Albus had ever known them truly.

And that was no lie. Perenelle Flamel was fidgeting ever-so-slightly, hadn’teven removed her cloak yet, the sweeping fabric trailing far away from her.

She was powerful and deadly. But she was not a Battle Mage.

Minerva considered the form and substance of Perenelle’s cloak, the interwovencloth fibres that composed it.

She could theoretically take one of those threads and pull it out.

One couldn’t Transfigure part of an object - at least, she couldn’t - but onecould Transfigure an object that so happened to be touching another.

Like, say, one of the threads of a cloak.

Minerva extended her magic, steadily, subtly, whilst Voldemort tauntedDumbledore.

The Dark Lord would certainly notice such an… unusual attack, sense thetrace of magic. But a witch who hadn’t duelled in half a millennium?

The time taken to Transfigure something into a target is a function of itsvolume and that of the target form.

Minerva Transfigured a thread of the cloak into a loop of razor wire.

Beneath the moonlight glints a tiny fragment of silver, a fraction of aline

And Minerva Transfigured the loop into another, identical one, one hundredthof an inch across.

(black robes, falling)

Blood spills out in litres

Minerva cried Finite and ended the magic, even as Dumbledore and Voldemortclashed together in a burst of red and green light, and somewhere in thebackground a too-adult child’s voice incanted Frigideiro, and Baba Yagabellowed and turned her staff on Minerva McGonagall.

Harry had seen the blonde witch fall, and only hesitated the barest fractionof a second before casting the Cooling Charm.

Killing Curses streamed from Baba Yaga’s staff towards Professor McGonagall,but they burst into nothingness against Harry’s Patronus.

Dumbledore’s wand was a blur of grey, and he was flying low over the ground,held up by Fawkes. He was throwing everything he had at the Dark Lord, but hewas too busy trying to shield the others from Voldemort, Harry could see.

Moody was already stumbling, and Bones didn’t look much better.

Voldemort gestured, and a burst of balls of fire hissed at all four Ordermembers. Dumbledore evoked a wall of purple light that sustained the impacts,but was sent staggering away by the bolt of sickly yellow that drilled throughit. Dumbledore began to say something, but the infant spell shattered under abeam from Voldemort’s wand.

Baba Yaga was holding off all four of Dumbledore’s allies together.Battlefield control, Professor Quirrell had once said, was a Battle Magicspeciality, and Voldemort exemplified it.

What deadly powers can I access? What force multiplier can I use?

Voldemort didn’t have his broomstick bones. If he didn’t have the Order toprotect, the mobility afforded to Dumbledore by Fawkes could help… but itprobably wasn’t enough

…And if the Order left, Voldemort and Baba Yaga could both concentrate forceon Dumbledore. Defeated in detail.

Harry had recognised its dark side for what it was, and he was employing everylast instinct of Riddle’s to find some weapon to bring to bear on hisprogenitor.

With Voldemort’s aid, Baba Yaga had cut off Snape and McGonagall from Bonesand Moody.

Harry realised with a jolt of panic what was going to happen an instant beforeit did.

A curse from Baba Yaga winged towards Professor McGonagall, passed cleanlythrough Harry’s Patronus.

Snape was already there in front of her, a Shield Charm on his lips.

And Voldemort leapt up, five metres or more, over Dumbledore’s head, andripped away Snape’s shielding.

The Potions Master made no noise as he fell, a hole punched cleanly throughhis chest.

Harry raised his wand and formed once more the words of the Cooling Charm-

And Voldemort blasted Snape’s body to ash and dust, because as far as AlbusDumbledore knew, a dead body wasn’t worth worrying about.

OoOoO

It should have had more gravity, that moment. Severus Snape was dark andbrooding, complicated and mysterious. He wasn’t supposed to just die likethat. It just wasn’t appropriate. His death, if it happened at all, should bepoignant and dramatic. He should have leapt in front of Professor McGonagalland pushed her to safety, not sort of awkwardly ended up in the path of thecurse meant for her.

He should have looked finally at peace in death, maybe whispered Lily Evans’name one last time, not collapsed in an undignified heap and then beencremated by Voldemort.

The Dark Lord was not stupid. He had seen what Harry had done when Perenelledied, and spared a curse to stop Harry from playing the party Cleric.

Harry could see it all unfolding. Perhaps the Order could still flee, but hedidn’t see how. Even if they could, Voldemort wasn’t playing games any more.Magical Britain might not have hours this time, let alone years.

Harry had never known Snape well, but he had given his life and his happinessin service against Voldemort, stood for decades against the darkness, for allhis flaws.

Intent to kill.

In the cold light of Tom Riddle’s dark intelligence, the battlefield fadedinto a series of possible weapons, the emotional shock of Snape’s death muted.

What is unusual about this place? What won’t he anticipate? What can killLord Voldemort?

Professor Quirrell’s voice in his head replied: some sort of truly greater,insurmountable magical effect, such that the world would be forever withoutthe Dark Lord…

What is lost to Dark Rituals cannot be regained.

Harry Potter froze in horror.

Why, yes, yes there was something here that could kill the Dark Lord.

The Dark Lord who was in Hermione Granger’s body.

Please, no…

Overruled, spoke the voice in his mind of… of Albus Dumbledore and ProfessorQuirrell and Mad-Eye Moody and Draco Malfoy and Slytherin and Gryffindor andRavenclaw and even Hufflepuff and Hermione Granger herself.

But they weren’t voices in his mind, they were all just him, just differentways he could think, and there was just… simply no way that Harry could thinkthat gave him a different answer.

Harry reached down and touched his wand to the sacrificial circle Quirrell haddrawn. The Philosopher’s Stone had left it not just permanent butnonmagical. Breaking the shape of the circle wouldn’t break the magic,because there was no magic.

He was empty and sick and he thought he might be crying, but he wasn’ttrembling, and his mind was still clear.

Hermione had been his best friend from the very beginning. His first friend,in fact. He had gone to extreme lengths to protect her. He had looked atLucius Malfoy and the Dementors of Azkaban and Death itself, and refused tolet any of them touch Hermione Granger.

But he was not the only person who felt like that about someone else. Howmany people would die, if it came to a Second Wizarding War? How many wouldfeel exactly how Harry had?

That’s not an apt comparison, protested some final part of him, weakly.Those people might still be retrievable, they aren’t going to be SACRIFICEDTO DARK RITUALS-

Shut up and multiply.

Harry Potter knelt beneath the moonlight, tears streaming down his face, andbegan to Transfigure the sacrificial circle around Hermione Granger.

OoOoO

Author’s Note: If you have any ideas for how Harry could get Hermione out of this, I would very much like to hear them.


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