Sign of the Lion
Chapter 5 - Wandless but not Powerless
Hermione's face went white. "What was that?"
Harry was already on his feet and pushing through a panicked crowd to the door. He groped in his pocket for his wand and restrained himself from cursing. He'd left it back at headquarters. He flattened against the wall as those in the shop began to trample each other and add to the din from outside. Harry waited a moment then charged through the door.
At first he saw only students and their parents scrambling around like trapped Skrewts, then the masked Death Eaters came into view. Harry could feel his anger coming to surface again and he made no attempts to stem it. With a strangled yell, he threw himself onto the Death Eater with a mask shaped into the face of a vixen. Surprised, the attacked toppled over onto the ground, Harry's leap taking him further.
Dizzy and watching the world spin before his eyes, he rolled onto his back to see the Death Eater looming over him. The vixen mask was mocking him as the wand came up in a steady movement. Without thinking, Harry pointed at her and shouted the Disarming spell. The Death Eater was once again knocked off her feet, her wand soaring into his hand.
"Stupefy!" he cried without even raising the wand.
Harry turned and saw Fred and Ron exiting the shop with their wands raised. Ron's hair was a violent shade of green, his expression somewhat sour. Hermione followed them, frantically searching for her wand and keenly surveying the chaos in front of her. Harry ran over to them and forced the wand into her hands. Fred stopped a passing wizard he knew, asking urgently, "Have you seen George?"
"Aye, I have," the wizard replied. "Last down Knockturn Alley where all this began."
He hurried off without another word. Harry felt cold all of a sudden, saying quietly, "What do you think?"
Ron looked shaken but determined. Hermione bit her lip. "Harry, I don't think it wise to go looking for trouble."
"What are you talking about?" Harry said casually. "Trouble finds me."
He, Ron and Fred began making their way down Diagon Alley towards the turn off. Hermione stood still for a moment then sighed in frustration, hurrying after them worriedly. There were signs of several curses through the narrow street, windows broken and Healers already bending over patients. Harry didn't pause at this scene, charging boldly into the turn off for Knockturn Alley.
The first thing that struck him was the darkness, how it closed in from all sides. Slowly, as his eyes adjusted, he could make out several dark shapes ahead. From behind him he heard, "Lumos!"
Ron drew up beside him, wand held out front, eyes frantically searching the surroundings for George. The shadows in the alley seemed to move in several directions, Harry realising with a lurch that they consisted of people in Death Eater robes hiding their faces behind masks.
"Look," cawed one, "the children wish to challenge us."
Harry forced himself to remain composed as he noticed George lying on the ground nearby. His breaths came uneven, but his eyes were open and fixed on Fred and Ron. Harry again wished he had his wand, but decided that it wouldn't be much more help if he had it anyway. He kept his voice even. "Give him to us."
The answer was a chorus of soft laughter, turning Harry's stomach. He fought the urge to double over, noting slight movement from Fred out of the corner of his eye. Fred's wand arm shook a moment, then he brought it up and cried out a curse.
"Fred, no!" Harry heard himself shout then threw himself in the path of one of the Death Eater's Cruciatus Curses.
Trying to ignore the stabbing pains, he rolled over and heard footsteps race past his face. Shooting through his chest was the pain of the curse and he wasn't sure if he was imagining the cross fire overhead.
Using the wall as support, he got steadily to his feet and looked back around. Obviously some of the Order had arrived and were trying to clear the entire area surrounding Diagon Alley of Death Eaters. Breathing slowly, Harry looked around the dim passageway and saw George propped up against the filthy bricks. Harry bent over his knees for a moment then began making his way over to where George was.
"You alright?" Harry asked breathlessly.
George made a noncommittal nod, then his eyes widened. Spinning, Harry caught a jinx again in the chest, but it was not the Cruciatus. As his legs started to twitch involuntarily, he gritted his teeth, trying to wrench out of the jinx but ended up stumbling into George. Swimming above him dizzily was the Death Eater, standing far enough away not to be hit with Harry's flailing legs.
The Death Eater sounded almost bored. "Here before me is the famous Harry Potter. I almost expected more of a challenge from you..."
Harry flushed, feeling defeated, but he suddenly got to his feet, all effects of the spell gone. Smiling grimly at the look of disbelief his opponent sported, he held out his hand and formed it into a fist. The other was blasted backwards into the opposing side of the passageway. Shaking, he then stood over the Death Eater. "There's your challenge. Pity you won't be going off to tell your master...otherwise I might have sent my best wishes."
He pointed his finger at her and watched almost casually as bright scarlet flames engulfed the screaming Death Eater. It only seemed to strike him when he fell forward onto his knees in the smoking ashes. Harry choked in horror and scuttled away. He hoped against hope that no one had seen it, please, no one! With relief he noted that George's eyes were closed - he must have passed out. Harry sighed, rocking back on his heels.
"Harry?" asked a nervous voice.
He jumped to his feet and spun around guiltily, heart pounding. Hermione was standing barely metres away, her eyes opened wide in terror. Far beyond her were the others, but they hadn't noticed. She stepped forward cautiously, almost timidly.
"Hermione - wait - listen!" Harry could hear his ears thudding. "I can't explain it - it started happening on my birthday. Just don't tell anyone; I'll tell Ron later, just keep it to yourself."
Hermione waited a moment, then nodded mutely. From behind her dashed Ron, who was out of breath. "I don't know how mum's going to let us off with this one."
Fred, who was at his shoulder, looked down at his twin in dismay. "She's going to kill us."
"What were you thinking?" shrieked Mrs Weasley, shopping bags swinging from one arm. "You could have been killed! And what was George doing in Knockturn Alley?"
She was beside herself with relief, having seen George into the care of a Mediwizard. Fred shifted under his mother's furious gaze a little. "He was only getting some ingredients."
Mrs Weasley looked fit to burst so Ron interjected in their defense, "They had George mum! We had to save him."
Off to the side, Harry watched with a slight smile. The Mediwizard who was checking him over was very shy in talking to him, but didn't hide her amazement that he wasn't in poorer shape. Hermione had a cut on her cheek and seemed more worried about Ron than herself. Harry grinned at this and finally managed to make his way over to the Weasleys. Mrs Weasley enveloped him in a fierce hug and drew back, her eyes shining.
"I was so worried!" she whispered fondly. "Are you alright, Harry, dear?"
Harry nodded slowly. "I will be."
Over her shoulder he saw Hermione giving him a reproaching look before turning back to Ron. Mrs Weasley drew away and hurried off to where Lupin and Tonks were talking quietly outside the ransacked Quality Quidditch Supplies. Both looked grim, not to mention sporting several scrapes. Harry leant against the wall nearby, listening carefully.
"Does Dumbledore know what happened?" Mrs Weasley asked quietly.
Lupin grimaced either from pain or annoyance. "There was an attack on Azkaban, this was just a diversion. Several servants of Voldemort escaped. You'll have to tell them, Molly, they'll find out anyway."
Harry coughed loudly and all three looked at him. He shrugged innocently, smiling bravely. Tonks beamed at him, and then scrunched her face up. A moment later, her hair went jet black and her eyes green. Now with a messy fringe, she winked and turned back to discussion, quieter so that Harry couldn't hear. He sighed and rubbed his forehead. Why hadn't he had any pain in his scar?
It had been since before his birthday when he'd had the last nightmare about Sirius or Voldemort. Biting his lip, Harry wondered if he should tell someone other than Ron and Hermione. Seeing wizards and witches scurrying by with worried expressions on their faces reminded him that the second war had only just started. A war only he could end, if Voldemort didn't kill him first...
He felt his stomach plummet even more - something else to tell his two best friends about. He wasn't sure he should, but even so...he felt they deserved an explanation or two. That much at least.
Once things had settled down a bit more a few days later, Harry decided to talk with Ron and Hermione. They came up into his room, each a little apprehensive. He outlined to them what Dumbledore had told him about the prophecy, to which Hermione looked extremely worried.
"But, Harry," she said anxiously, "that means either you kill him or he'll..."
She trailed off, letting the matter go. Ron frowned pensively and declared, "He'll have to go through us first."
Hermione looked terrified, her lip trembling. "Ron! Don't talk that way."
Though Harry admired Ron's resolve, he didn't quite like dragging them into this. They were taking it only slightly better than he had thought they would but, then, how do you take information like that? Hedwig broke up the moment with her soft hoots, demanding owl treats. Harry retrieved some and waited until she was perched on his shoulder before giving over the treats. Ron yawned loudly and stretched back lazily.
"Mate," he said at last, "Hermione said there was something else you wanted to talk about."
Harry's mouth twitched into a smile and he looked over Ron's shoulder at a passively hovering book. Hermione couldn't help but grin a little as the book made slow progress toward Ron who gave them a quizzical expression. "What? I don't think there's anything funny..."
The book drifted around and in front of Ron who noticed it suddenly. He gave a shout and toppled over backwards. Harry doubled over with laughter didn't even need to make a gesture so that the seat was upright and his friend sitting in it. Ron didn't look at all amused.
"Sorry," Harry apologized sincerely, holding out his palm and collecting the book.
Ron stared at it, agape. "Was that...wandless magic?"
Hermione removed the hand she'd used to hide her grin, turning hopefully to Harry. "You did say you'd inform us."
Harry knitted his eyebrows thoughtfully for a moment, wondering where to begin. After a moment his face cleared. "I suppose it all began on my birthday. I suddenly didn't need my glasses and I think I grew over night. Then I started doing things without wand, but I didn't get a letter from the Ministry or anything. I even managed to Apparate once but as to why, I have no idea."
"You should tell Dumbledore," Hermione suggested firmly. "He'll know more regarding to it."
Harry shook his head in response. "I don't want to concern him with any more. There's one more thing...I haven't had any dreams lately."
Hermione tapped her lips with a finger for a moment, clearly not wanting to be disturbed. Ron thumped him on the shoulder. "That's good isn't it? You-Know-Who hasn't been into your head lately."
Hermione didn't at all view it this way. Instead, she looked even more worried than before. "Or maybe he's been able to keep his motives hidden from Harry now that he knows about the connection."
"But that makes no sense!" Ron cut in. "He should still use it to trick Harry - no offence, mate."
Harry watched Hedwig take off around the room in a graceful swoop. He shook his head. "No, Ron, it makes perfect sense."
And for the remainder of that afternoon, they sat in silence.