Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
Harry and Dumbledore have just got back to Hogwarts after finding the fake locket in Tom Riddles cave.
Malfoy gave a harsh laugh.
'You care about me saying "Mudblood" when I'm about to kill you?'
'Yes, I do,' said Dumbledore, and Harry saw his feet slide a little on the floor as he struggled to remain upright. 'But as for being about to kill me, Draco, you have had several long minutes now. We are quite alone. I am more defenceless than you can have dreamed of finding me, and still you have not acted ...'
Malfoy's mouth contorted involuntarily, as though he had tasted something very bitter.
'Now, about tonight,' Dumbledore went on, 'I am a little puzzled about how it happened ... you knew that I had left the school? But of course,' he answered his own question, 'Rosmerta saw me leaving, she tipped you off using your ingenious coins, I'm sure ...'
'That's right,' said Malfoy. 'But she said you were just going for a drink, you'd be back ...'
'Well, I certainly did have a drink ... and I came back ... after a fashion,' mumbled Dumbledore. 'So you decided to spring a trap for me?'
'We decided to put the Dark Mark over the Tower and get you to hurry up here, to see who'd been killed,' said Malfoy. 'And it worked!'
'Well ... yes and no ...' said Dumbledore. 'But am I to take it, then, that nobody has been murdered?'
'Someone's dead,' said Malfoy and his voice seemed to go up an octave as he said it. 'One of your people ... I don't know who, it was dark ... I stepped over the body ... I was supposed to be waiting up here when you got back, only your Phoenix lot got in the way ...'
'Yes, they do that,' said Dumbledore.
There was a bang and shouts from below, louder than ever; it sounded as though people were fighting on the actual spiral staircase that led to where Dumbledore, Malfoy and Harry stood, and Harry's heart thundered unheard in his invisible chest ... someone was dead ... Malfoy had stepped over the body ... but who was it?
'There is little time, one way or another,' said Dumbledore. 'So let us discuss your options, Draco.'
'My options!' said Malfoy loudly. 'I'm standing here with a wand - I'm about to kill you -'
'My dear boy, let us have no more pretence about that. If you were going to kill me, you would have done it when you first disarmed me, you would not have stopped for this pleasant chat about ways and means.'
'I haven't got any options!' said Malfoy, and he was suddenly as white as Dumbledore. 'I've got to do it! He'll kill me! He'll kill my whole family!'
'I appreciate the difficulty of your position,' said Dumbledore. 'Why else do you think I have not confronted you before now? Because I knew that you would have been murdered if Lord Voldemort realized that I suspected you.'
Malfoy winced at the sound of the name.
'I did not dare speak to you of the mission with which I knew you had been entrusted, in case he used Legilimency against you,' continued Dumbledore. 'But now at last we can speak plainly to each other ... no harm has been done, you have hurt nobody, though you are very lucky that your unintentional victims survived ... I can help you, Draco.'
'No, you can't,' said Malfoy, his wand hand shaking very badly indeed. 'Nobody can. He told me to do it or he'll kill me. I've got no choice.'
'Come over to the Dark side, Draco, and we can hide you more completely than you can possibly imagine. What is more, I can send members of the Order to your mother tonight to hide her likewise. Your father is safe at the moment in Azkaban ... when the time comes we can protect him too ... come over to the Dark side, Draco ... you are not a killer ...'
Malfoy stared at Dumbledore.
'But I got this far, didn't I?' he said slowly. They thought I'd die in the attempt, but I'm here ... and you're in my power ... I'm the one with the wand... you're at my mercy ...' What does he mean the Dark side?
'No, Draco,' said Dumbledore quietly. 'It is my mercy, and not yours, that matters now.'
Malfoy did not speak. His mouth was open, his wand hand still trembling. Harry thought he saw it drop by a fraction, inching forwards Harry shot a meaningful look at his mentor.
Dumbledore gave a slight shake of his head, he didn't want Harry attacking Malfoy.
But suddenly footsteps were thundering up the stairs and a second later, Malfoy was buffeted out of the way as four people in black robes burst through the door on to the ram-parts.
Harry looked to Dumbledore who again shook his head. He understood, his master had a plan.
It seemed the Death Eaters had won the fight below.
A lumpy-looking man with an odd lopsided leer gave a wheezy giggle.
'Dumbledore cornered!' he said, and he turned to a stocky little woman who looked as though she could be his sister and who was grinning eagerly.
'Dumbledore wandless, Dumbledore alone! Well done, Draco, well done!'
'Good evening, Amycus,' said Dumbledore calmly, as though welcoming the man to a tea party. 'And you've brought Alecto too ... charming ...'
The woman gave an angry little titter. 'Think your little jokes will help you on your death bed, then?' she jeered.
'Jokes? No, no, these are manners,' replied Dumbledore.
'Do it,' said the stranger standing nearest to Harry, a big, rangy man with matted grey hair and whiskers, whose black Death Eater's robes looked uncomfortably tight. He had a voice like none that Harry had ever heard: a rasping bark of a voice. Harry could smell a powerful mixture of dirt, sweat and, unmistakeably, of blood coming from him. His filthy hands had long yellowish nails. Must be Fenrir Greyback.
A moment later Dumbledore confirmed Harry's suspicions.
'Is that you, Fenrir?' asked Dumbledore.
That's right,' rasped the other. 'Pleased to see me, Dumbledore?'
'No, I cannot say that I am ...' No! Harry, do not attack yet!
Harry backed off and waiting at the ready watching his mentor for the signal to attack.
Fenrir Greyback grinned, showing pointed teeth. Blood trickled down his chin and he licked his lips slowly, obscenely.
'But you know how much I like kids, Dumbledore.'
'Am I to take it that you are attacking even without the full moon now? This is most unusual ... you have developed a taste for human flesh that cannot be satisfied once a month?'
'That's right,' said Greyback. 'Shocks you, that, does it, Dumbledore? Frightens you?'
'Well, I cannot pretend it does not disgust me a little,' said Dumbledore. 'And, yes, I am a little shocked that Draco here invited you, of all people, into the school where his friends live...'
'I didn't,' breathed Malfoy. He was not looking at Greyback; he did not seem to want to even glance at him. 'I didn't know he was going to come.'
'I wouldn't want to miss a trip to Hogwarts, Dumbledore,' rasped Greyback. 'Not when there are throats to be ripped out ... delicious, delicious...' And he raised a yellow fingernail and picked at his front teeth, leering at Dumbledore.
'I could do you for afters, Dumbledore ...'
'No,' said the fourth Death Eater sharply. He had a heavy, brutal-looking face. 'We've got orders. Draco's got to do it. Now, Draco, and quickly.'
Malfoy was showing less resolution than ever. He looked terrified as he stared into Dumbledore's face, which was even paler, and rather lower than usual, as he had slid so far down the rampart wall.
Harry gritted his teeth, the potion his mentor had drunk was working faster than they'd previously thought it would.
'He's not long for this world anyway, if you ask me!' said the lopsided man, to the accompaniment of his sister's wheezing giggles. 'Look at him - what's happened to you, then, Dumby?'
'Oh, weaker resistance, slower reflexes, Amycus,' said Dumbledore. 'Old age, in short ... one day, perhaps, it will happen to you ... if you are lucky ...' Dumbledore winked and smiled at Harry.
'What's that mean, then, what's that mean?' yelled the Death Eater, he whipped around to look at what the old man was looking at, there was no one there just empty air.
'Always the same, weren't yeh, Dumby, talking and doing nothing, nothing, I don't even know why the Dark Lord's bothering to kill yeh! Come on, Draco, do it!'
But at that moment, there were renewed sounds of scuffling from below and a voice shouted, 'They've blocked the stairs - Reducto! REDUCTO!'
Harry's heart leapt: so these four had not eliminated all opposition, but merely broken through the fight to the top of the Tower, and, by the sound of it, created a barrier behind them.
'Now, Draco, quickly!' said the brutal-faced man angrily.
But Malfoy's hand was shaking so badly that he could barely aim.
'I'll do it,' snarled Greyback, moving towards Dumbledore with his hands outstretched, his teeth bared.
'I said no!' shouted the brutal-faced man; there was a flash of light and the werewolf was blasted out of the way; he hit the ramparts and staggered, looking furious.
Harry's heart was hammering so hard it seemed impossible that nobody could hear him standing there, imprisoned by Dumbledore's orders Alone -he so wanted to aim a curse from under the Cloak.
'Draco, do it, or stand aside so one of us -' screeched the woman, but at that precise moment the door to the ramparts burst open once more and there stood Snape, his wand clutched in his hand as his black eyes swept the scene, from Dumbledore slumped against the wall, to the four Death Eaters, including the enraged werewolf, and Malfoy.
'We've got a problem, Snape,' said the lumpy Amycus, whose eyes and wand were fixed alike upon Dumbledore, 'the boy doesn't seem able -'
But somebody else had spoken Snape's name, quite softly.
The sound frightened Harry beyond anything he had experienced all evening. For the first time, Dumbledore was pleading and he sounded weaker.
Snape said nothing, but walked forwards and pushed Malfoy gently out of the way. The three Death Eaters fell back without a word. Even the werewolf seemed cowed.
Snape gazed for a moment at Dumbledore, and there was revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face.
'Severus ... please ..."
Snape raised his wand and pointed it directly at Dumbledore.
'Avada Kedavra!, Avada Kedavra!, Avada Kedavra! '
The Killing curse shot from the end of Harry's 's wand and hit Amycus and Alecto Carrow.
The third Avada Kedavra was cast by Dumbledore and he'd done it wandless.
Snape was baffled even so he wasn't confused enough to forget the last Death Eater.
What little colour left in Malfoy's cheeks drained away, Dumbledore could have killed him all along!
After dispatching the last Death Eater Snape turned and faced their mysterious helper.
Harry nodded at Snape, it was a wild guess but he'd been right to trust Snape to take care of the last opponent.
Dumbledore's face light-up when his eyes found Harry's. 'Ah, Harry that was spectacular, you will do good. Now come let us finish this.'
Walking forwards Harry Stupefyed Malfoy and Snape, 'Master, is there anything else you'd like done.'
'Yes,' Dumbledore nodded his head, 'I want you to make sure Longbottom is taught well, he needs to know everything. Goodbye Harry, you will do well.'
Harry Raised his wand 'Avada Kedavra!'
Dumbledore was blasted into the air: for a split second he seemed to hang suspended beneath the shining skull, and then he fell slowly backwards, like a great rag doll, over the battlements and out of sight.
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