The Lull by Drakir
Summary: War is coming to Hogwarts and, standing on the parapets, Field Marshall Harry James Potter reflects on war, blame, guilt, and his will to fight as the enemy draws nearer. AU set in the World at War universe.
Categories: Alternate Universe
Series: The World at War
The Lull by Drakir
Chapter 1: Chapter 1Author's Notes:
‘It should be a crime for such a horrible day to be so beautiful,’ thought Harry Potter as he gazed out from the school parapets to the scenery before him.
The sun was bright and high, the wind had picked up into a gentle breeze, the grass and trees were green, and on any other particular day, Harry would have been anxious to simply lie down on the grass near the lake and take a nap.
But not today.
For today evil stalked nearer to this bastion.
Today, war marched on Hogwarts.
Harry noted absently that several of his aides were waiting passively nearby, probably waiting for orders. Wanting to put off the war for as long as he could, Harry merely gazed at the serene scenery before him with an exterior calm he did not feel.
How did one reconcile oneself with the idea of having to kill another man? How did one take the deep breath before the plunge and not go mad from the wait?
Where was the courage that fed the hearts and souls of men and women in times of greatest need? Where was the hope that kept a soldier going?
Harry knew the answer to both. They had passed and fled with the winds of war, to be replaced by uncertainty and fear.
It had been years now since Dumbledore’s death at the hands of Severus Snape.
Seven years, in fact.
Harry spent the first year hunting down Horcruxes, only to come to the conclusion that finding the Dark artifacts with a three-man team was not only impossible, but downright preposterous. What had possessed him to think life would be like one of Dudley’s old video games? He knew the answer to that, too.
It always came down to that man.
Why he was kept with the Dursleys.
Why every year at Hogwarts, Harry was placed in preventable mortal danger.
Why Snape was allowed to walk free, and still does.
Why Sirius had died.
Why Voldemort was corporeal at all.
Why the war was going bad, even after his death.
Why Voldemort even existed.
Other men might call Harry unfair, or childish by placing all the blame on Dumbledore, the still-respected ex-Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but Harry thought otherwise.
He’d spent hours upon days thinking on it, trying to defend the deceased Headmaster’s actions, but it always ended up being an exercise in futility.
How did you justify letting the courts become corrupt?
How did you justify letting Death Eaters walk free?
How did you justify letting Fudge rule, knowing his character?
How did you justify standing by while the world burned?
And so it had happened that Harry vowed to forsake the path Dumbledore had laid for him, and forge his own.
Throwing away all ethical reservations, Harry threw himself into his work, researching Muggle warfare and trying to find some form of advantage he could give his men. He found the answer quick enough, for it permeated every book he found.
The ability to stand when you do not wish to. To fight when you’d rather flee. To coordinate when your mind should be blocked by fear.
And so he drove the battered remnants of the Order and any volunteers to perfect their discipline; to be able to march in single line even if under fire.
But the war had grown more violent, and he was hard-pressed for time. He began recruiting any willing student, despite any objections from those older him. But Harry cared not. For every adult vowing to leave, he found two students far more willing to fight.
For Harry preferred the younger generations, because they brought with them the fiery desire that lies within each man to fight for a better world.
Harry was no longer content fighting for the world of Dumbledore; Harry now fought to forge a new world; a world of reason, of logic, of justice, and method.
And so Harry called, and hundreds answered.
Now, Harry waited atop the parapets of the school walls while his enemy made his move. Harry watched passively as the afternoon sun began to fall ever so slightly, making his navy blue uniform shine.
Harry had long discarded the use of robes, and had his men similarly use uniforms, though of a red color.
The color of blood.
Blood like the amounts that would be spilled on this day. Harry allowed himself a glance behind him and saw that the thousands of pitched tents were still around, meaning that his men had yet to store them away.
Where had the days of peace gone? Where was the life they once knew? They had fled, like birds before an oncoming storm; never to return until the storm tired itself out.
“We men are wretched things,” he murmured.
Harry glanced over to his aide, who looked confused. “Nothing, thinking aloud,”
The aide nodded and stood passive as Harry turned his attention back to the scenery before him.
The enemy was coming. He could feel them.
And so he would kill them.
Harry wondered grimly how, years, ago he could justify to himself the amounts of people he’d killed. Always for some cause or another. First it was for revenge. Then, it was to continue the deceased Headmaster’s ideals. After that, he killed for his new world of logic.
But did it justify him at all? Did he truly believe that?
When, at the time of his death, he would be confronted by Judgement, could he truly stand straight-backed and say it was all for the greater good? For a better world? That these men needed to die so a better world could be made? The proverbial sacrificial lambs, as it were?
Did he truly believe that?
Only now, years after he first tried to convince himself of this, did he realize that he did not.
He did not kill for revenge.
He did not kill for Dumbledore’s ideals.
He didn’t even kill for the creation of his new order.
He killed because if he didn’t, then the man he fought would kill him.
It amused Harry how inconsequential things like honor, justice, the Light, Darkness, country, and loyalty became when it came down to a fight.
Sure, he deluded his army into thinking they were fighting for a cause, but when he fought–when his men fought, he knew such things were last in their minds. No man ever won a fight by loving the Light, or Darkness, or country.
But, as he stood there, watching the peaceful scenery before him, Harry realized that no matter how inconsequential such things became in a fight, he needed to believe they weren’t. It was what kept him sane, what kept him human.
What separated him from the Dark Lord.
But Harry knew that even then, he didn’t fight to save the world, for it was too large to save. So Harry steeled himself by reaffirming his desire to save the ones he loved; or, at least, those that were left.
And so, standing on the parapets of the school, Harry found his answer; his reason to fight.
He would fight for his friends, whom he made at school and in the army.
He would fight for Remus and Tonks, who’d recently been able to marry.
He would fight for his soldiers, who now resolved themselves to fight to the death for their beloved leader.
He would fight for his children, Lily and Karen, female twins of three years of age.
But most importantly, he would fight for his wife, his soul mate…
His beloved Ginny.
Harry drew the saber from its scabbard and turned to his aides.
“Form up half the men at the gate walls and half on the lakeside wall,” he ordered. One aide scurried away to give the orders while the rest stood passively. Harry swung his saber in the direction of the scenery behind him and kept it pointing there.
“There, gentlemen, the war marches from. We have fought for over five years now against the Dark Lord, and it all comes down to this. The final battle.”
The aides around him sucked in their breath. “We have endured what no man should ever have to endure; we have faced the horrors of war in its totality, and risen above it. We have fought tooth and nail in every corner of Britain, but it all comes down to here. Now.”
“Before the hallowed walls of Hogwarts will the doom of our time be decided. The Darkness creeps nearer, ever so willful to spread chaos and destruction. It comes in overwhelming numbers, but we must not fear.”
“We do not fight for the Light, gentlemen, nor for some higher ideal of a country or utopia of Light or Darkness. We do not fight for coffeehouse fops or arrogant fools who’ve never set foot on a battlefield.”
Harry allowed for a significant pause to develop.
“We fight, men, for our homes; our friends. Our daughters and wives. Husbands and sons. Lovers and sweethearts. We fight for the times in our past where peace was present and our memories still clean from the ravages of war. We fight because if we do not, our loved ones will die. We fight, because it is the right thing to do.”
And that, Harry reflected, was all the reason he needed.
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