1. Fanfic Competition -- Topic -- HOGWARTS DAYS

    Word count? 500-17500 words!

    Due date? October 2nd! CLICK HERE! write now!

    Dismiss Notice
  2. Hi there, Guest

    Only registered users can really experience what DLP has to offer. Many forums are only accessible if you have an account. Why don't you register?
    Dismiss Notice
  3. Introducing for your Perusing Pleasure

    New Thread Thursday
    Shit Post Sunday

    Dismiss Notice

Entry #2

Discussion in 'Q3 Competition Before Christmas' started by Xiph0, Nov 3, 2021.

  1. Xiph0

    Xiph0 Yoda Admin

    Dec 7, 2005
    West Bank
    Title- Last Resort

    One. Two. Three. Should be easy enough.

    Harry strode forward, careful not to let his cloak slip in the slightest. His fingers tightened around the handle of Godric’s sword, and the familiar feeling helped to settle the rapid beating of his heart. No matter how many times he did this, it always left him jumpy. He wouldn’t have it any other way, though. Jumpy meant you weren’t calm, and calm is how you got sloppy.

    And sloppy is how you got yourself killed.

    He was getting close now, the shambling figures near enough to smell. One was an adult woman in a sundress, her pale white skin a sharp contrast to her bright blond hair that was speckled with stains of red. Her emotionless face was caked in blood, though whether it was her own or not was impossible to tell. The next was a man in jeans and a white button up. The shirt was torn in three separate places, one spot giving a clear site at his ribcage while the others showed off deep scars caked in dried blood. The last was a boy that couldn’t have been older than twelve, his mousy brown hair matted and messy. He was quite a horrifying sight, given that nearly half his jaw and one of his eyes were completely absent. They had been a family, it looked like, and muggle, based off the clothes. That was a relief- it made Harry’s job much easier.

    Two years ago, when the dead first clambered their way back into the world of the living, Harry had tried to remember the face of every single one he put down. He’d thought it only right that he keep their memory alive after doing what he had to. But there was only so many faces one could remember, and as the list grew and grew, he couldn’t keep up.

    Nor could he find it in himself to care.

    He lunged forward, whipping off his cloak and slashing his sword in a single movement. The man’s head hit the floor, severed before he could react. The other two turned and lunged, guttural growls rumbling from their throats.

    But Harry was already moving.

    He stepped close to the boy and shoved him backwards with his free hand. As the small figure toppled backwards, he spun on the spot, meeting the woman’s charge with another slash. The enchanted steel cut through her neck like it was air, displaying sharpness beyond any mundane sword. Before the body had even hit the ground he had spun back around to face the last of them…Only to find a lunging figure a foot from his face.


    Harry grabbed the boy’s neck desperately, just about keeping him out of biting range. His hands strained to hold the gaping mouth away from his exposed skin. Spittle sprayed his face and rancid breath assaulted his nostrils as yellow teeth came closer and closer, centimeter by centimeter.

    And then the scene was gone, the boy torn away from him and hurled to the ground. Pouncing on the opportunity, Harry leapt forward and sliced his sword down. He watched the decomposing head roll away from its body and let out a tired sigh. Not his best work.

    “Losing your touch a bit there, mate?”

    Harry tossed his cloak over his shoulder. “I owe you one Ron.”

    Ronald Weasley had changed as much in two years as Harry himself had, if not more. Physically he looked much the same- gangly and awkward with long, bright red hair. But his eyes were harder, less optimistic than they had been once. Currently, those eyes were bloodshot and sitting above bags, signs of inconsistent sleep and all too recent tears. Harry’s own probably looked much the same.

    “I know I was supposed to hang back in case things went really wrong,” Ron said, tapping his wand. “But it seemed like you could use a hand, and I’m not sure casting would be a good idea here, in any circumstances.”

    Harry followed his gaze to where the roof and ramparts of a castle were peeking over the top of a rolling green hill. Hogwarts. “You’re probably right. Who knows how many of them would come running.”

    Ron stepped forward and draped an arm across Harry’s shoulder. “We’re back to where it all started, huh?”

    “I guess we are.”

    They stared at the familiar rooftops for a few minutes, bathing in memories of better times passed.

    It wasn’t until Harry noticed the sun was beginning to set that he realized how late it was getting. They’d wasted enough time.

    “Let’s go,” he said, shedding his friends arm and turning his back on the castle. “The others are waiting, and we’ll need all the rest we can get.”


    There were a lot of names for them. Zombies. Walkers. The Undead.

    Harry called them his mistake.

    He’d had no way of knowing the ramifications of his actions. How could he when he was the first to ever do it? But that logical part of his brain was never enough to keep the guilt off his shoulders.

    The resurrection stone was one of the three Deathly Hallows, a gift from death itself capable of calling the dead back to the world of the living. It had also been, for a time, a horcrux. The dark soul magic mixed and muddled the item, unbeknownst to even the horcrux’s creator. It had mutated, waiting patiently for a trigger to set that power free. It found a new owner while it waited, and then another. That second owner died, and still it waited. Then he came back, and it found its trigger.

    And with that, the dead rose to action.


    The others were sat around a small campfire when Harry and Ron returned, basking in its warmth, and the two of them wasted no time in settling down to join them. Fire was a luxury they usually refrained from, for fear the sight or smell of it would draw Walkers. But with the task looming in front of them, and the events that were looming behind them, they needed all the luxuries they could get.

    “Any trouble?” Kingsley Shacklebolt asked, the firelight reflecting off his dark skin and bald head. The former auror’s often-serious face was particularly grim as he eyed them critically, checking for signs of injury.

    “Do you even have to ask, Shack?” Parvati Patil leaned forward where she was sitting, resting her chin against her knees. “You know how many times they’ve done this before.”

    Kingsley frowned. “Now is no time to get complacent.”

    There was a hollow laugh. “When is there ever a time to be complacent these days,” muttered Dawlish. The man was gaunt, with a crazed look in his eyes that never seemed to fade anymore. “You relax, you die. I think we’ve all seen that by now.”

    “Maybe,” said Kingsley, “But it doesn’t change that now is a particularly bad time.”

    Dawlish snorted, brown eyes glittering in the firelight. “Right. How could I forget? We’re hurling ourselves into the goddamn epicenter, without even being told why.”

    “You know why,” Ron broke in, glaring at the older man. “Harry has an idea. A way we might be able to end all of this.”

    “And yet he won’t so much as tell us what it is,” said Dawlish, a bitter smile on his face. “Bloody great idea it must be then. Definitely worth throwing our lives away for.”

    “No one’s keeping you here. If you want to turn tale and ditch, be my guest!”

    Ron and Dawlish glared at each other. Their hands began slowly inching towards the wands sitting beside them.


    Harry stood as he spoke and was acutely aware of everyone’s attention shifting onto him.

    “You have reservations,” he said to Dawlish. “I understand why. Even I’m not certain if my plan will work. But we have to try something…We have nothing to lose.”

    He looked around at the assorted faces. Ron and Kingsley watching him with complete confidence, Parvati smiling tiredly, Dawlish staring back defiantly…and the last member of their group, her face utterly neutral.

    “He’s right,” Tonks said morosely, speaking for the first time. “Look at how few of us are left.”

    Long gone was the vivacious punk with flashy pink hair. These days her appearance was styled very differently- rounded face, brown eyes, and medium-length brown hair. She kept herself muted and unassuming, in both appearance and behavior, having internalized the lesson ‘sticking out bad’.

    Harry couldn’t help the twinge of sympathy he felt whenever he saw her. Lupin had been one of the Walker’s first victims, and he’d fallen saving her. His death had torn her to shreds, and then when she’d returned home and found Andromeda and Teddy…Well, it was no surprise she was never the same person after that.

    “I can’t promise you we’ll survive this,” Harry said firmly. “But what I can promise you, is that we won’t survive if we keep on like we have been.”

    The others looked away, harsh memories bubbling up. Ron’s hand balled into a fist. Parvati glanced longingly at the empty space next to her. A few month ago they’d had 10. Go back a year and the number was well over twenty.

    “We have to try something,” Harry continued, still standing. “And to do that, we follow the plan tomorrow, and make sure we rest now while we can. Any questions?”

    A few heads shook and the rest just kept staring forward. No one spoke.

    He took that as a yes and sat back down, trying to hide just how tired he truly felt.

    Time to take his own advice.


    For wizards, the concept of animated corpses wasn’t an alien one. Inferi had long been well-known, albeit rare, magical creations. They were mindless and magicless things with an acute weakness to fire. If Walkers were the same as Inferi, their threat would have been dealt with quickly.

    They were not.

    Walkers were not mindless. Unintelligent maybe, but never mindless. They possessed an animalistic sort of cunning, always using crude strategies as they hunted. Fire was nearly useless, same as most other methods of injury. They could be crippled like any other body, but there was only one way to truly end one: decapitation.

    Their only visible goal was to make as many of themselves as possible, hunting down the living one by one. A single bite was all it took to turn a creature into a Walker, the change taking effect within an hour.

    And yet, even with all this, they should’ve posed no threat to witches or wizards. These were people that could create explosions and teleport at the drop of a hat. Their magic should have proved an insurmountable gap. But it didn’t.


    Because Walkers had magic too.

    Any witch or wizard that was turned could wield their wand almost as well as they had in life. It was a lesson both sides at the Battle of Hogwarts learned harshly, as Death Eaters, aurors, and Order members alike suddenly found themselves under attack from fallen comrades and defeated enemies with no prior warning.

    Before anyone truly understood what was happening the Walker’s numbers had tripled. By the end of the day they had tripled again.


    Harry crouched at the edge of the Forbidden Forest in the shade of a tree, tapping his foot anxiously.

    “It should’ve been me,” he muttered for the thousandth time, only to feel a fist cuff the back of his head.

    “We’ve been over this, Harry,” Ron said, standing behind him. “You’re the only person it couldn’t have been- we need you here and healthy to get the,” He cleared his throat and dropped his voice to a whisper. “Stone.”

    He was right, but that didn’t make Harry like it any better. “We could have done something differently. Come up with a different plan.”

    “No, we couldn’t have, and you know it. Coming up with plans has never been our strong suit, especially without…y’know…” he trailed off, grimacing at the recent memories. “A distraction was our only shot, and Kingsley made his choice- you need to respect that.”

    Harry stared sideways towards the corner of the forest, beyond which he knew Hogwarts lay. Then he looked back over his shoulder at his group- Ron standing close to him, Dawlish polishing the rusted machete he’d taken a liking to, Parvati laying on the grass looking at the sky, and Tonks sitting listlessly off to the side, staring blankly at a tree. It was hard to accept that Kingsley was risking his life for them right then, drawing the attention of as many Walkers as he could. Clearing them a path while they simply sat around and waited.

    But he’d have to accept it. This was the only way forward.

    “Fine,” Harry relented, looking back at Ron. “I give in. You’re right.”

    “Make a habit of it,” his friend said, giving him a wink and a forced smile. “You’ll be better off in the long run.”

    A boom wrang out far away, the magically amplified sound of a high-powered explosion.

    “There’s the signal, people,” Harry called out, pushing himself to his feet and grabbing his sword. “Time to get this show on the road. Ron, to my left. Parvati and Tonks, you two stick on the right. Dawlish, you’re taking up the rear.”

    They all slipped into their spots quickly and quietly. Ron hefted up a large club. The girls both drew long cooking knives. Dawlish gripped his machete with more purpose.

    Satisfied, Harry gave a short nod and the group set off into the woods.

    They clambered over mangled masses of roots, under a canopy thick enough to blot out the morning sun. The Forbidden Forest had always been ominous, but the knowledge that every wide trunk or thick bush could be sheltering a Walker brought it to a whole new level.

    The first one appeared twenty minutes in, a short figure wearing torn Ravenclaw robes. She couldn’t have been older than thirteen when she died. Harry held up a hand to stop the group, pointing toward where she stood with her back turned, a hundred feet further in. He made another gesture and the others scrambled away from him, slipping in between the trees to hide themselves from sight.

    Satisfied they wouldn’t been seen, Harry slipped under his cloak and began closing the distance.

    At thirty steps he could make out her dirty black hair. At twenty he saw the tell-tale bite mark on the side of her neck. At ten the smell hit. At two he stepped forward and swung. She never got the chance to turn around.

    Harry waved his hand in a ‘come forward’ gesture to his team and they fell back into step behind him, stepping over the now still Walker as they went.


    Culture dictated that a wizard or witch was to be buried with their wand in hand, on land by where they were raised. There were exceptions, such as those buried somewhere special to them or those whose wands were left to a family member, but they were few and far between.

    It was symbolic. The location was said to keep them grounded and remind any visitors where they came from. The wand was buried with them to show it was a part of them, as well to commemorate all they had done with it.

    No one had ever guessed it would come back to bite the living.

    All across the country – and indeed the world – graveyards were turned upside down, wooden coffins and layers of Earth blasted away as their occupants rose up.

    The pureblood families were the first to fall, the size of their family burial grounds working against them. That nearly all their skilled combatants were away at the Battle of Hogwarts only made the process faster.

    Those that ran from Hogwarts looking for refuge in their manors found only more enemies, many of them with familiar faces.


    “Shit,” Dawlish cursed.

    Shhh!” Harry whispered harshly. “Don’t make noise- you’ll draw their attention.”

    A clearing stretched out in front of them, just past the trees they were taking shelter behind. It should’ve been a welcoming sight, the green grass and sunlight a pleasant change from the dense, dark forest they’d traveled through the last few hours. Instead, the group was lurking out of sight, watching a group of figures wander aimlessly.

    They were tall things, seven of them, clopping about on their four hooves. From the waist up they looked almost human, though not all of them were whole- one was missing its nose, another missing half of its fingers. All of them carried bows, a few crude arrows resting in quivers on their backs, and all of them had a visible bite mark, though each’s rested in a different spot.

    Centaur Walkers, right in the path they’d been following. They had to get to the other side somehow, either around them or through them. Harry glanced at his group’s crude weapons, then back to the massive, well-armed creatures. The choice wasn’t a hard one.

    “We’re going around,” he whispered. “Back away and we’ll swing around to the right.”

    The others nodded and started moving. Harry lingered a moment, making absolutely certain they hadn’t been seen. The centaurs never even looked in their direction.

    Then a shriek pierced the forest and Harry spun.

    Parvati was on the ground, holding shaking hands in front of herself protectively, trying to fend off an attacker that was no longer here. Dawlish was standing beside her, the headless body of a squirrel at his feet, its right side showing the scar from an old, humanoid bite.

    “Are you okay?” Harry asked, dropping to Parvati’s side.

    “She wasn’t bitten,” said Dawlish, flicking his machete to clean the blood off. “I got it as soon as it jumped on her.”

    Harry gave him a nod. “Good work.”

    He grunted and looked away.

    “Uh, Harry?”

    Harry looked at Ron and found him staring toward the clearing, eyes wide.

    With a sinking feeling in his stomach, Harry twisted back around. Through the trees he could just about see it. All the centaurs had stopped…

    And they were looking right at them.


    In the days after the Walkers first rose up, the survivors began to spread out. They’d seen what happened to those that got caught and wanted no part of it. They fled to the countryside, looking to buy themselves time by running.

    Unfortunately for them, they didn’t yet understand the Walker’s.


    A low branch scratched his cheek as he ran, drawing a thin line of blood. Harry didn’t stop.

    Ron was beside him, pulling Parvati along as she did her best to keep up. Ahead of them were Dawlish and Tonks, and Harry stepped up the pace to draw alongside them, the sound of thundering hooves in the background.

    “We need to find somewhere they can’t follow us,” Harry said to them between breaths. “They aren’t going to get tired like us.”

    “Easier…said…than…done!” Dawlish huffed irritably. Beads of sweat were already running down his forehead, and his shirt was beginning to stick to him.

    Harry tried desperately to think of a place for the group to take shelter, but it was a losing effort. He’d spent time in the forest, but he was no Hagrid; the only reason he knew the way to their ultimate destination was how memorable it was for him. For the rest of the forest, he was damn near lost.

    There was a thwack behind him, and Ron let out a yelp. An arrow had lodged in the tree just to his right. The group sped up, but Harry could hear how labored Dawlish and Parvati’s breathing was getting. They couldn’t keep this pace up much longer.

    Suddenly, a figure stepped out from between the trees, only a few feet in front of them. It was a middle-aged brown-haired Walker, the left half of his face a torn and bloody mess. Something about him seemed familiar to Harry, but his attention was quickly occupied by the Walker’s already raised wand, and the cutting curse that came flying from it after a guttural incantation.

    Dawlish, the only one in the spells path, was forced to hurl himself to the ground, and Harry darted around him, closing the distance before the Walker could cast again. Behind him, he was distantly aware of Tonks sliding to a stop, her mouth dropping open.

    The gap was too great for Harry’s sword to reach the Walker’s neck, but that wasn’t his target. Instead he lashed out at the still-raised wand, cleaving it in two. The wand parts separated with a hissing pop, their magic fading, and Harry stepped forward and swung his sword back around, eager to cleave the now-defenseless Walker’s neck.

    What happened next was a blur. He saw the white of the Walker’s remaining eye and finally recognized who it had once been, just as his sword sliced through its neck. He heard Tonks’ voice shriek “Expeliarmus!” with fervent desperation. And then he felt his body launch forward, his sword flying from his hand and spinning in the opposite direction.

    He landed with a thud against a large clump of roots, the impact jarring him into a daze. There was a moment of stillness as everyone processed what happened, the only sound coming from the hooves of their not-so-distant pursuers.

    He looked back at Tonks, ready to tear into her over just what she thought she was doing. He froze.

    Somehow, she was still standing, wand in her hand and blank eyes fixed on the severed head of the Walker. Of Remus Lupin. Embedded in her stomach, blade sticking clear out the other side, was Harry’s sword. It felt like slow-motion when she fell, an eternity between when she first toppled forward and when she finally landed, face down, beside the body of her husband. Her wand slipped from now-loose fingers to rest on the ground.

    And in the distance, it started.

    A slight shaking of the ground and a distant rumbling. The signs of hundreds of legs sprinting in the same direction as fast as they could.

    The Walkers around Hogwarts were on the move. All of them.

    And they were heading right for Harry’s group.


    Harry wasn’t sure who’d first figured it out. Hermione, maybe, or even Padma. All he knew was it took two weeks and far too many deaths to get there.

    They’d been the largest group of survivors to escape the Battle of Hogwarts, a ragtag combination of aurors, Order members, and students that managed to flee into the Scottish countryside. But no matter how far they ran, they could never seem to get away.

    When they conjured tents, the Walkers found them. When they engorged food, the Walkers found them. Even apparition only bought so much time, Walkers tracking them down in a matter of hours.

    It was magic, they’d eventually realized. Walkers could sense magic.

    Whether it was an unforgiveable or a coloring charm, if you cast it near a Walker, the Walker would know and come running. Magic made them easier to fend off, but from the moment you gave in and used it, they wouldn’t stop coming.

    So the group had to improvise. Magic was used as sparingly as possible, only as a last resort. They found themselves makeshift weapons, blades and clubs they could scavenge up to deal with muggle Walkers. Harry took up Godric Gryffindor’s sword once more, pulling it from Neville’s loose fingers with a heavy heart. They learned how to raid supermarkets and take shelter in abandoned buildings. How to get by without the magic they were so used to.

    But it still wasn’t enough.


    Time seemed to be standing still.

    No one was moving, and Harry couldn’t take his eyes off Tonks. He’d lost friends before. Too many times to count. But this had happened so suddenly. So unexpectedly.

    His own sword had done it.

    “Goddamn it, Potter! Move!” Dawlish screamed, have risen to his feet.

    He kept staring. Her appearance didn’t change or shift. The forgettable face and boring brown hair would be immortalized, the pink punk look gone forever. It was all so wrong.

    “I. Said. Move!”

    Harry found himself hauled roughly to his feet. Two hands rested on his shoulders and shook him.

    “If you don’t get your head out of your ass right now, you’re getting left behind.”

    Harry blinked, his eyes finally focusing on the furious face of Dawlish hovering in front of him. He shook his head and pushed the thoughts down. There would be a time for all that later.

    If they were lucky, that was.

    “Right,” said Harry, forcing himself back into his leadership role. “Wands out, everyone! No point in avoiding magic now. That ship has sailed.”

    He aimed his wand at the path they’d come from, just as the centaurs came into sight.

    “Ron. Shield.” The redhead waved his wand and a shining blue shape shimmered into existence, repelling the arrows that were sent towards them. “Diffindo. Incendio.”

    Harry’s first spell sliced through the truck of a thick tree in the centaurs’ path while his second set it ablaze. In the tightly packed forest, the fire wasted no time in spreading.

    Harry ran over to Tonks’ body and, with a wince, pulled his sword free. “All right people, time to run like our lives depend on it!” He pointed toward where the Walker horde could be heard and tried for a smile, only managing a grimace. “Because they do.”


    The group’s rate of losses slowed significantly after avoiding magic. Rather than a casualty a day, it became a casualty a week. Then one every month. But no matter how much it slowed, it never stopped.

    Something would always go wrong. Proudfoot didn’t see the Walker in the second-story window until it jumped out on him, mouth first. Emmeline Vance tried to summon her picture of her father after losing it and couldn’t escape the mob that formed. Lavender Brown couldn’t take the state they’d had to live in, so she took the only way out she could see.

    Harry could name more. So, so many more. Then there was what happened in Barnes, on the outskirts of London.

    That was the final straw.


    Roots blurred by under his feet as Harry sprinted at the head of the group, his 15-inch wand clutched at the ready in his hand.

    It was only a matter of time until he’d need it. The sounds from the Walkers had only been getting louder, even as his group ran as quickly as they could- which wasn’t all that fast. Dawlish and Parvati had already been forced to slow to a jog, and he and Ron had matched their pace, unwilling to leave half their group behind.

    Two days ago he’d seen the Hogwarts grounds, scouting it with Kingsley from a nearby hill. Either most of the Walkers had never left after the original battle, or more had been drawn there in the time since because the area had been dripping with the things. There were hundreds, at least.

    Trying to fight them had been, and still was, a lost cause. Against that many opponents they’d be overwhelmed before you could say stupefy. It was why Kingsley had proposed his role.

    He’d separated from the group that morning, trekked to the opposite side of the school, and started casting. He’d promised to only do a few spells before running for the ward line and apparating away. It was the only way Harry would agree to it.

    But none of that mattered now. Their whole plan had revolved around avoiding all magic. Sneak in, get the stone, sneak out. That was off the table.

    The only chance Harry saw for them was getting to the stone, and him figuring out how to reverse whatever it had done all that time ago…And he would have to do it in a few minutes at best.

    Did he like those odds? Not in the slightest. But anything was better than zero.

    Behind him Dawlish cursed and tumbled to the ground.

    “Cramp,” He gasped, squeezing his calf and trying to get back to his feet. He hobbled a few steps before dropping again, hissing in pain.

    Wingardium Leviosa.” Ron said, and Dawlish floated up off the ground.

    He glared at the redhead. “I could’ve made it work, Weasley.”

    But he also didn’t fight to be put down. They started moving again.

    “Once the first ones get to us,” said Harry. “They aren’t going to stop coming. If we stop to fight we’ll be swarmed. We have to keep moving at all costs.”

    He pondered what the best spells would be to delay the Walkers. Fiendfyre would burn them to ash, but it would consume his group just as quickly. Severing charms could work on a few targets, but the area of effect was too small. Blasting curses, maybe?

    A green spell flashed across his path, missing by a few yards but providing a warning. He looked right and caught sight of the first of the Walkers, a death eater with mask still on its head, even as its robes were torn and ripped. He snapped a curse off at it and noted with satisfaction that it hit, the thing’s head exploding in a gory mess.

    The satisfaction dissipated when three more immediately took its place.

    “Change of plans!” Harry yelled. He waved his wand and Parvati rose into the air with a startled squeak. He and Ron made eye contact, exchanged nods, and sped up, pushing their bodies as fast as they could go.

    Spells flew haphazardly across their path, but their moving frames were proving difficult targets. A piercing curse brushed Harry’s back and drew a wince. An exploding charm struck a tree spraying him with slivers of wood.

    Harry wished he had a broom. He’d be faster on a broom. At this pace they weren’t going to make it.

    More spells rained down. His left hand was struck, and he heard a crack as pain flared up. Behind him, Ron cried out but didn’t fall. They kept running.

    Harry’s breath was coming in bursting pants now. His chest was burning almost as much as his hand. A Walker leapt into their path but was sent careening away by a banisher from Parvati. He put his head down and forced himself to go faster.

    A thud, and a curse. Ron had been hit, knocked to the ground. He wasn’t moving. Dawlish was on his feet, but still limping. Harry jerked his wand and both of them rose into the air.

    He couldn’t slow down.

    The triple levitation required focus. The pain of running made focus hard. Somehow, he was doing both.

    But it wasn’t enough.

    Walkers were appearing.

    The spells were increasing.

    A bludgeoner hit his stomach. He felt a rib crack.

    He kept going.

    Something was looming ahead of him now, a brown blob that was slowly growing bigger. Was it more roots? A fallen tree?

    It was getting closer, and so were the Walkers. No, Harry was getting closer to it, and the Walkers were getting closer to him. That was it.

    He tripped but managed to keep his feet. The smell of decay was all around him, filling his nostrils with every desperate breath.

    The shape was close now, close enough to recognize as a…fence? Small wooden posts running together, the kind you’d see around a garden.

    Harry didn’t have long to process the information. A blasting curse struck near his feet, close enough to send him flying forward.

    He crashed straight through the fence, landing on his side and skidding across the ground of a small meadow. Around him, he could hear a succession of impacts, the sounds of the others hitting the ground like he had.

    He could barely think. His ears were ringing, and his head hurt as much as the rest of him. All he could manage was one repeating thought.

    This is it.

    Slowly, he staggered to his feet. He would fight, and he would lose. But that was better than lying down and accepting death. He tried to drop into a dueling stance, but only managed to bend a little lower and grip his wand a little tighter. He waited.

    The strongest blasting curse he knew was poised on the tip of his tongue, ready to spring out at a moment’s notice. As soon as the first Walker appeared he’d reduce it to goddamn mist. The first one…

    He was still waiting. He shouldn’t have been.

    For some reason, the Walkers weren’t coming.

    With the realization he felt his adrenaline fade. Before he could even think about questioning just why they weren’t coming, his body gave out. With a final groan, he fell backward into unconsciousness.


    Barnes was a quiet, unassuming place. A sleepy suburb nestled between Fulham and Brentford with nearly nothing remarkable to its name. That was why they’d picked it.

    London was at once dangerous and safe for Harry’s group. It was crawling with muggle Walkers, filling the streets and clogging the buildings. But aside from a select few areas, there were almost no wizards or magic creatures.

    It was also the most reliable place to find supplies. As time dragged on, more and more food had spoiled or been used up. It had reached to the point where urban centers were the only places with enough grocery stores to have anything left for scavenging.

    Once a month, the group would head somewhere into the city and collect as much as they could carry. It was a task they’d done time and again, and one they were thoroughly accustomed to. The only thing that changed was the suburb they’d hit.

    Barnes was the last one they ever did.

    It was dangerous, but not overly so. Harry’s cloak allowed him to scout ahead and clear a path for the others. They’d follow after the way was ready, and he’d do it all over again to get them out.

    The final run had started out the same way; Harry didn’t even know something was wrong until he finished his part.

    When he came back to say the way was clear, he found half as many people as he’d left.


    When Harry awoke it was to the smell of food and the sound of voices. He was lying on something…not soft, but softer than the ground. His eyes opened blearily, and he tried to make sense of his surroundings.

    “So then your brothers look at me, and they have the bollocks to say, ‘It wasn’t us, sir’.”

    There was a round of chuckles.

    “Those twins were something. Never let me get a moments-” The voice cut off. “Oh, Mr. Potter! Back to the land of the living so soon?”

    Harry tried to place the strangely familiar voice as his vision came into focus and his brain back online.

    “Here, need a hand there lad?”

    An arm gripped his shoulder and helped him into a sitting position, leaning his back against a wall. He looked up at his helper and found an aged, wrinkled face with a terribly receding hairline.

    “Much better. Now, Weasley, your brothers may’ve been the worst, but this little gremlin wasn’t too far off. Lost count of how many times I’d find him skulking around. Though I don’t need to tell you that- you were always right there at his side!”

    Harry reached up and rubbed his eyes, wondering if he wasn’t still asleep and dreaming. But when vision returned the scene hadn’t changed a whit. It was clearly Argus Filch, the grouchy squib that had been Hogwarts’ caretaker, standing alive and well, and chatting amicably. Harry wasn’t sure which was more surprising. He was even smiling for Merlin’s sake!

    They were in a small room with a dirt floor and walls of plain wood. There was a solitary window, dusty aged class letting in a bit of sunlight. The door was closed but still showed slivers of the outside around its edges, signs it didn’t quite fit right.

    Harry himself was lying on an old bed, its aged mattress stained stiff. A few crude wooden chairs dotted the room, edges rough and corners clumsy. Ron was sat in one, leaning back and rubbing a nasty purple bruise that covered his left cheek. When he saw Harry, he broke into a grin.

    “You had me worried there for a bit, lying there not moving. Good to see sleeping beauty’s still with us.”

    From the corner she was leaning against, Parvati rolled her eyes. “Do you have to tease him first thing after he wakes up?”

    “Have to? No. Want to? Hell yes.”

    Harry felt a weight he hadn’t even noticed lift from his shoulders. He was alive, and, more importantly, the others were too.

    “How are you feeling?” Filch asked him.

    Harry thought about it for a moment. “My head hurts and I can’t use my left hand. So better than I expected.” He glanced around the room expectantly. “Where’s Dawlish? Is he back on his feet already?”

    Parvati looked away. Ron’s smile faded.

    “Dawlish…didn’t make it Harry,” Parvati said softly.

    Harry stared at them. “What? But we escaped! The Walkers stopped coming after us, how could he have…”

    “It’s true,” Filch said gravely. “By the time I found you he was already gone. One of the spells got him.”

    Harry reeled. Dawlish may’ve been unpleasant, but he had always been reliable. He’d saved Harry himself multiple times, and others in their group a whole lot more. Harry’s good hand clenched into a fist, and he felt tears well up. “Both Dawlish and Tonks in one day.” The hand lashed backwards and struck the wall. “Damn it.”

    Filch looked between the three of them before turning and making for the door.

    “I’ll give you all some space,” he said over his shoulder. “Feel free to come get me if you need anything.” He started to slip outside but stopped halfway and looked back at Harry. “The other one you lost, was it close to here?”

    Harry blinked. “No. No not really. Why?”

    “No reason, just thought there might be a body to bury.”

    And he swung the door shut with one more commiserating smile.

    Silence hung in the air for a few moments, none of them knowing what to say. This was everyone that was left. The realization struck Harry like a hammer. Maybe they could find Kingsley, but the odds were slim. Who knew where he’d had to run to. No, for all intents and purposes, Harry’s group was now a party of three.

    He didn’t want to think about that, so he changed the subject.

    “Is that really Filch?”

    “Has to be, right?” said Ron. “I mean you saw him. A little gaunter, a little paler, but other than that he’s a spitting image.”

    Harry frowned. “I know he looks like him. He just doesn’t act like him. I didn’t see him smile like that once in six years, let alone chat and joke!”

    Parvati smiled sadly. “Everyone’s changed Harry. The ones that couldn’t…they’re not here anymore.”

    “But how is he here,” Harry wondered. “Even if he can’t cast magic there’s no way he avoided every Walker for two years. And how are we here, for that matter? Where did the Walkers go?”

    “Oh,” Ron said. “That, you’ve got to see.”


    “Whoa,” Harry murmured.

    Ron nodded beside him. “It’s a real sight, isn’t it? Damn creepy…”

    They were stood outside Filch’s shack, back in the meadow they’d been blasted into. All along the tree line’s edge were Walkers, tons of them, standing utterly still, shoulder to shoulder. The only movement they showed was their eyes, which moved slowly to follow whatever person was closest to them. Harry stepped first right, then left, and watched ten of the things track his progress without missing a beat.

    “Yea,” Harry agreed with a shiver. “But I’ll take creepy over dead.”

    There was a slight pause. Then Ron said, “Yea! I feel you mate!”

    The redhead picked up a small stone and chucked it at a Walker in auror robes. The projectile collided with its forehead, leaving a slight dent and eliciting absolutely no reaction.

    “The only time they react is if you try and cut their head off,” he said to Harry. “Don’t know how the creepy buggers can tell the difference, but the one time I tried a cutting curse they had a shield up in seconds.”

    Harry stared the figures in silence. Then he turned to his friend, grin spreading across his face.

    “We did it!” He shouted. “This is it; this is what we were after!”

    Ron looked at him like he’d grown a second head. “The stone is…here?”

    “Has to be. I didn’t recognize it at first because a bunch of the trees were gone and rocks removed, but this is the clearing. And the stone must still be here! What else could be keeping the Walkers away?”

    Hesitantly, a smile started to spread across Ron’s face. “We could actually finish everything?”

    Harry nodded. “Damn straight.”

    Of course, what he didn’t say was that he wasn’t entirely sure what he would do with the stone once he found it. Make it do the opposite of what it had years ago, he supposed, but just how to manage that was…still up in the air.

    But making it up on the fly had always been his style, and most of the time it worked out well. He would figure something out.

    “What are you to knuckleheads plotting over here?”

    Parvati strolled up to them, a three-foot slice of tomato with a few bites out of it clutched in her hands. She smiled playfully as she came to a stop right in front of them.

    “On second thought, I don’t think I want to know.”

    “Where’d you get that?” Harry asked, staring at the fruit in her hands.

    She pointed toward the opposite side of the shack. “Filch’s garden, over there. It’s not particularly big, but nothing some good Engorgement charms won’t fix. Want some?”

    Harry waved the offer away. “Filch has a garden here?”

    She shrugged. “Well, yea. He can’t leave the clearing and he has to eat something.”

    “It’s just strange,” Harry said. “The ground here isn’t very fertile- it’s too hard and dry. Plus, a lot of it seems rocky.”

    Parvati stared at him. “Didn’t take you for a gardener. Thought you’d have too much on your plate to go picking up hobbies.”

    Harry just smiled weakly, memories of pulling weeds and tending plants in front of number 4 Privet Drive flashing through his head.

    “Come on, I’ll show you it,” Parvati said, turning and walking back the other direction. The other two fell into step beside her.

    “It’s strange,” she said through a mouthful of tomato. “Just walking around, casting magic without a second though- It feels too good to be true.”

    “Soon, everywhere will be like that,” Ron said confidently. “We’re close now.”

    Parvati bit her lip nervously. “About that…”

    “What is it?” Harry asked.

    “I know the plan is supposed to be all super-secret, and that you two love to whisper about whatever it is we came here for when you think nobodies looking – Oh don’t look so surprised, you aren’t nearly as sneaky as you think you are – and I was wondering if you could, well, tell me?” Her voice cracked at the end, a pleading note leaking in. “We lost half of our group in a single day. For the second time! The first time it ended with me having to cut my twins head off. Is it so much to ask to be let in on what’s waiting at the end of this one?”

    Harry and Ron exchanged a look, coming to an eye-contact consensus.

    “Yea,” Harry sighed. “Yea, ok.”

    He took a deep breath and tried to figure out where to start while Parvati stared expectantly.

    “Have you ever heard of the Deathly Hallows?”


    Harry stared down at the dinner in front of him- leafy lettuce, carrots, and tomatoes mixed into a conjured bowl. It was a better meal than he’d had in months, if not longer.

    “Good enough for you, lad?”

    Harry looked up to find Filch standing in front of him, a bowl of his own held casually in his hands.

    “I know it isn’t exactly a feast fit for a celebrity-”

    “No, no,” Harry interrupted. “This is more than enough. And I’m no celebrity anymore. No one is.”

    Filch settled in beside him with a chuckle. “Suppose you’re right.”

    They were outside, Harry haven taken his meal to where he could keep an eye on the Walkers. It was cold in the clearing, the sun having completely set, and the others had argued there was no need. They were right – if the Walkers attacked now, they would be dead with or without a warning from him – but guard duty was an old habit that wouldn’t easily die.

    “I noticed you didn’t try the dressing.”

    Harry shook himself from his thoughts. “You noticed that?”

    Filch nodded. “I did. Any reason?”

    “No, no reason at all.”

    The truth was, luxury was something Harry had forgotten how to enjoy. His first six years at Hogwarts had been wonderful but three years on the run, one hunting horcruxes and two escaping Walkers, had washed all that away. Somewhere along the way his taste had reverted back to that of a scrawny ten-year-old who celebrated getting the leftovers of food he’d cooked. Luxury was a scarce commodity these days, after all. Which reminded him…

    “Where in the world did you even get dressing?”

    “Hm?” Filch raised an eyebrow. “I made it, from my garden.”

    Harry glanced over his shoulder at said garden, a well-tended plot of land with a variety of plants growing on it. “But where did you get the garden?”

    Filch laughed. “Not sure I’m following your question, lad. Get the garden? I made it. These old hands have to be good for something.”

    There was a row of corn, a few tomato bushes, some carrots growing in the corner, and some scattered lettuce and herbs. “But that’s what I don’t follow. The garden is too big, and it’s doing too well.”

    “Is this about the dinner?” Filch asked. “I know it’s a bit over the top, but I got carried away having wizards around to quintuple my stock. I don’t always eat this well, as you can probably see!” He chuckled and tapped a finger against a rib, showing off how thin the layer of skin there was.

    Harry was silent for a moment. Maybe the man was telling the truth, but Harry couldn’t shake a feeling of uneasiness.

    “How’d you come to be here?” Harry asked, changing the subject.

    Filch let out a long exhale through his nose. “that’s not a happy story, lad.”

    “No one’s is these days.”

    “Suppose you’re right about that.” Filch leaned back, tilting his head toward the sky. He was silent for a few minutes, before finally continuing. “How much do you remember about the first day? When the Walkers first appeared?”

    A barrage of memories flashed through Harry’s head: stepping into this very forest, a flash of green, a train station, a battle…Walkers, cutting down familiar faces. So, so much death. Sometimes he felt like death had gripped his life that day and refused to let go since.

    “Too much.”

    “Ain’t that the truth,” Filch murmured. “I was there, you know. In the Great Hall when Voldemort carted you in.”

    Harry nodded. “I saw you.”

    “Did you? Well, I was right there, right in the thick of things when the first ones sprung up. McGonagall was on my right, Sprout on the left. It was luck that the Walkers went for them first. Nothing more than luck.”

    He shook his head ruefully. “They came after us from behind, two of them. Sprout managed to fight hers off, get rid of it, but not before it bit her. McGonagall though? The Walker had been one of her lions. She hesitated when she saw the face, and it got her with a body bind. After that it was on her in seconds.”

    They lapsed into a moment of silence, Harry staring blankly at the ground. It wasn’t that he’d expected his head of house to be alive, but it was different hearing the exact story.

    “What happened next?”

    Filch let out a sigh. “We ran. What else was there to do? Me, Sprout, and a pair of upper years. Took everything we could and did anything we could to survive. Somewhere along the way, we ended up in this forest.”

    He paused suddenly and held the dressing bottle out to Harry once more.

    “Afraid that’s all you’ll get for free. Now, if you were to say, try some of the dressing, that might change things,” Filch said with a wink. “It’s my pride and joy these days- I just can’t pass on the chance to see someone new try it.”

    Harry frowned but took the bottle in his hands. Its weathered glass blurred the sight of the murky liquid inside it, and he twisted its cap off with a pop and smelled the contents. It had an earthy, fresh aroma.

    “What’s in this?” Harry asked curiously.

    “Again with the questions?” said Filch. “You’re trying to wring an old man for his trade secrets here, lad. Just go on and try some, the unknown always tastes better!”

    Harry tilted the bottle over his salad, hovering at an angle just barely too steep for the contents to pour out. He hesitated a moment, then another…

    “No, I think I’m okay.”

    Filch chuckled tightly. “Really now, there’s no need to be stubborn.”

    He reached out and grabbed the bottle, still in Harry’s hands, and tried to tilt it forcefully. Instead, Harry jerked it free from his hands and held it straight up.

    “I said, I’m okay.”

    Filch stared at him, and for a second Harry felt like they’d stepped back in time, because the former caretaker’s eyes held the same venom they’d always had when he caught a student breaking a rule. Then, it was gone, replaced once more by a friendly smile.

    “Of course, of course,” Filch said, pushing himself to his feet. “Sorry about that, I’m afraid I can get a bit overzealous when it comes to the things I’ve made. But, sorry or not, a deal is a deal. The rest of my story stays with me, for now.”

    The man turned and trudged back to his shack, whistling as he went.


    The stars really were bright these days, Harry thought as he lay on his back, a conjured mattress beneath him.

    “It’s strange, isn’t it?”

    Harry rolled his head to the side, looking towards where Ron lay a few feet away on a mattress of his own. “Hm?”

    “We’re still here. After everything that’s gone on, risking our lives over and over and over again, we’re still here. It’s strange.”

    Harry looked back at the sky. “I guess it is.”

    The two of them had opted to spend the night outside under the stars, rather than the cramped interior of the small shack where Parvati was taking the floor and Filch the aged bed.

    “Do you ever wonder why?” Ron asked. “Why you? Why us?”

    “Not really,” Harry said casually. “I just try and make the most of the chance it gives me.”

    “You don’t see a reason? Some grand purpose you have to survive for?”

    “My purpose is to help as many people survive this mess as I can. If I can save even one person, it makes my surviving worth it, you know?”

    “And if that purpose stopped mattering to you?” Ron asked slowly.

    “I’d find a new one.”

    A brisk wind brushed through the clearing, stirring the long grass around them with a soft hiss. Even with a warming charm active, Harry felt a few goosebumps crop up along his arms.

    He’d spent the afternoon and evening searching the clearing for the resurrection stone, sifting through the grass as quickly as he could, but came up empty handed. He was certain it was here somewhere – it had to be – but it was remaining elusive.

    It shouldn’t have been important; they should’ve had plenty of time. But Harry had a strange feeling egging him on, like he was working against the clock.

    “Ron, what do you think of Filch?”

    “Huh? Now, or in general?”


    “Seems nice enough. He helped us recover, fed us, told some great stories- he’s been a solid enough bloke.”

    Harry pursed his lips. “You haven’t noticed anything weird about him?”


    “Nothing at all?”

    Ron sighed. “Give it a rest mate, he’s been fine.”

    “I can’t shake this feeling though!” Harry insisted. “There’s something more going on here. Something’s up with him. When was the last time someone helped us like this, without getting something in return?”

    “Exactly,” said Ron. “We’re overdue.”


    “I’m going to sleep, Harry, my eyes are already drooping. If you really want to, we can talk about it in the morning.”

    Harry heard his friend yawn and turn over, followed shortly by snoring. It took a lot longer before sleep came to him, too.


    Harry was in a field, a barren expanse of featureless dirt that stretched as far as the eye could see. Everywhere he looked, anywhere he turned, he could make out nothing else. Somewhere, a voice faded in.


    It was a faint, wailing sort of call, but the message was clear all the same.


    “Who is it?” Harry called out into the wasteland. “What’s wrong?”



    Harry flinched and fell backwards as a massive face taller than him flashed into existence with empty, hollow eye sockets locked onto him, bushy brown hair flowing out behind it.

    “Hermione,” Harry choked out. “I’m sorry! I should’ve been there! I should’ve-”


    Suddenly it wasn’t just one face, more and more appeared until there were five of them, all very familiar.

    “Heeeeeelllllllppppppp us…” they all said in unison, voices melding together.

    Harry wanted to yell at them. To apologize again. To say it was all his fault, that he should’ve been more careful, checked Barnes more careful.

    That he should’ve realized Padma had been bitten.

    Then the others wouldn’t have been caught off guard. Then Hermione wouldn’t be dead, attacked by what had been one of her closest friends without ever seeing it coming. Then Parvati wouldn’t have had to put down her own sister, slicing off a head that looked identical to her own.

    But he couldn’t say any of this. All he could manage was to move his jaw up and down, no sound coming out, the faces closing in, closer and closer, until they were just about to touch him…

    He bolted upright, lungs desperately pulling in air. His heart was beating like crazy, and he stared down at shaking hands.

    A dream. It had been a dream.

    He shoved his way to his feet, trying to burn off the nervous energy flooding his system. It was still dark in the clearing, the moon and stars shedding the only shreds of light present.

    It was coming up on six weeks since Barnes, and he could still barely close his eyes without the echoes plaguing him. He wasn’t sure if he pitied Ron and Parvati for actually having been there, or envied them for not having to shoulder the guilt of not being able to help.

    He took a deep breath and allowed a long-ignored reflex to spring to life, flicking his wand and muttering “Lumos.”

    The light that blinked into existence brightened the clearing, illuminating the ground around him and shining menacingly off the eyes of the still-present walkers lining the tree line.

    Still in an unsettled mood, Harry sent a silent, half-formed cutting curse at them. Just as Ron had said, they raised a shield just before it struck, rendering the spell useless. Oh well.

    Speaking of Ron, Harry glanced over at him to make sure his spell hadn’t woken him. He was still sound asleep, eyes shut tight and skin…pale?

    Harry strode over to get a closer look, his light following him, and scrunched his eyebrows at what he found.

    His friend’s naturally pasty complexion seemed to have ratcheted up a notch, freckles standing out against skin as white as a sheet. His eyes were indeed shut but not peacefully as they’d first looked, instead twitching wildly. His face shone, a sheen of sweat catching the light and reflecting it.

    “Ron,” Harry said, dropping to a knee and shaking him. “Ron, wake up!”

    It took a few seconds, but the redhead did stir, much to Harry’s relief.

    “Whu izzit,” Ron slurred, eyes drifting open.

    “You feeling okay?” Harry asked him. “You look like shit.”

    Ron blinked at him. “Yea, well, you look…blurry.”

    Harry stared at his unfocused eyes and felt worry settle in. “Right. Let’s get you back inside.”

    He looped Ron’s arm over his shoulder and stood up, supporting his taller friend as best he could. Awkwardly, they stumbled back to the shack.

    Harry yanked the door open with his good hand. “Filch, Parvati! Somethings up with Ron!”

    They stepped into the room and Harry raised his wand, shedding the light at its tip onto the room. Filch’s cot and Parvati’s conjured matt were both empty. There was no one in sight.

    “The fuck,” Harry muttered. “Where are they. Filch! Parvati!”

    There was no answer.

    Cursing, Harry helped Ron to sit down on an empty chair.

    “Does it hurt anywhere?” Harry asked his friend.

    “Hurt? Oh, uh my chest. Stomach too. And arms,” Ron said, voice lethargic. His mouth hung open, muscles in his face loose. “I don’t…feel too hot.”

    Harry ran through his repertoire of healing magic and cursed at how short the list was. Somehow, it didn’t seem like spells for closing small cuts or healing bruises were going to be helpful here.

    Which just gave him another reason to find Parvati.

    “I’ll be right back mate, just hang in there.”

    “Yeah,” Ron muttered. “I’ll…do that.”

    The first place Harry checked was outside, slipping back through the door and running a quick lap of the clearing. It turned up nothing, so he ducked back inside.

    Somehow, Ron already looked paler than when he’d left, which only boosted his motivation. He scurried from chair to chair, bent down to check Parvati’s matt, looked for a clue on the walls, and still came up completely emptyhanded.

    “Where are they!” Harry snapped, his frustration getting the better of him, and lashed out a foot at Filch’s bed. Instead of providing a relatively soft target for his irritation, it felt like kicking a wall.

    “Ow,” Harry groaned, hobbling on one foot while clutching his now throbbing ankle. “What in the world is in this thi-”

    He cut off as he looked back at the bed, noticing something strange. It had shifted a few inches to the left, and through that small gap he could a hole. Quickly, he scurried down and set to work shoving the bed further forward, revealing more and more of the space beneath it, until he’d created a gap large enough to slip through.

    A worn latter traversed a ten-foot gap down into what looked a basement more sizeable than the shack itself. A lone candle sat on the floor near a tall, closed wooden door.

    “What in the world,” said Harry. “Ron, did Filch mention a cellar to you while I was out?”

    Ron groaned. “Cellar? Don’t…think so.”

    He was breathing heavily now, his eyes bloodshot, and Harry shivered at the rate he was worsening. At this point, he was scared to leave Ron alone for even a few minutes.

    “Brace yourself,” Harry told his friend, gently floating him into the air with his wand before clambering down the ladder. As soon as his feet hit the ground, he guided Ron down after him, careful not to bump or jostle him in the descent.

    The walls and floor were made up of plastered stones. A wooden roof coated the wide but empty room’s top, crisscrossing beams holding up everything above them. Harry lowered Ron to the ground and carefully leaned his back against the wall before straightening and closing in on the shut door.

    The hinges squeaked in protest as Harry yanked the old handle, and a much better lit room greeted his eyes, its horrifying scene illuminated in great detail.

    The room itself couldn’t have been more than a 20 feet across and wide, but it was packed to the brim with shelves along the walls and a huge table in the middle. All around the room, coating every empty space, were human body parts. Legs lay next to fingers next to toes, all spaced out and in varying states of decay.

    But the part that really made Harry’s blood run cold was the center table. Strapped down tightly, eyes open but blank, was Parvati. Leaning above her, holding a blood-stained knife, was Filch, who looked up at the sound of the door opening.

    “You’re not supposed be here,” the man said, staring at Harry unblinkingly. “Not yet.”

    “What the fuck are you doing?” Harry growled.

    “Not yet. Not Yet!”

    “Answer my question,” Harry yelled at the man. “And get away from her!”

    “This is all because you,” Filch jabbed a finger at Harry, “wouldn’t be reasonable and eat the dressing. All three of you would have gone to sleep, none of you would wake up, and I’d get what I needed. But no, you had to be stubborn and ruin everything!”

    Harry didn’t even think at that point, his wand moving practically on its own as it banished the older man against the back wall with a crack. He quickly rushed to the table and pressed a finger to Parvati’s throat. There was no pulse.

    “What have you done!” Harry roared at Filch.

    “What I had to,” the man bit back, stumbling to his feet. “What should I care if a few rotten wizards and witches had to die, after what’s happened to my precious Mrs. Norris!”

    He jerked his arm to the far corner that had been obstructed from Harry’s view by the table. It was filled by a small cage and prowling in said cage was a very familiar feline with a large bight across its side.

    “You all were always too good for me, always looking down on the stupid squib. So why shouldn’t you become sacrifices for such an amazing creature!”

    “You have until the count of ten,” Harry said dangerously, “to give me the antidote for whatever poison you used, or I’ll take it from you.”

    “Antidote?” Filch barked out a laugh. “Why would I make an antidote?”

    “One.” Harry pointed his wand at him.

    “What are you going to do to me with that? Make me give you what doesn’t exist?”


    “It’s sad, watching you stumble around so desperately.”

    “Three.” Harry shifted his wand away from filch and towards the cage.

    “What are you- Don’t you dare!”

    “Give me the antidote, then. Four.”

    “I can’t. Haven’t you been listening, it doesn’t exist!”






    “Stop or you’ll never see the antidote!”

    “I thought it didn’t exist. Eight.”

    “I’m giving you your last warning.”

    “So am I. Nine.”

    “Fine,” Filch yelled. “Take the stupid thing, just don’t hurt her!”

    He pulled a small vial from his pocket, making a show of holding it up.

    “A few drops of this and your friend will be fine.”

    Harry levitated the glass from the man’s hand, flicking his wand and letting it fly to hover in front of him. “Wasn’t so hard, was it?”

    Filch glared at the floor. “Just get out of here.”

    “I will,” said Harry. “But I’ll be back for you. We’re not done here.”

    He turned and started walking out the door when his eyes locked on a jar by the door, two eyes floating in liquid inside it. Two familiar, brown eyes.

    “Dawlish wasn’t hit by a spell, was he.”

    “What,” said Filch. “Has that just dawned on you? Of course I killed him. Slit his throat and passed it off on a Walker. Only thing I regret is not getting the rest of you before that bitch woke up,” he gestured to Parvati’s body. “I felt sick having to chat with you lot, but I had my revenge in the end.”

    He tilted his head back and laughed, only for it to cut off abruptly.

    The cutting curse had been a reflexive, emotional decision, but Harry couldn’t find it in him to regret it, even as he watched Filch’s head roll off his shoulders. Part of him was horrified at what he’d so casually done, but the rest was just glad to be done with the psychotic man.

    Besides, he didn’t have time to waste.

    Harry stumbled back into the room and found Ron exactly where he’d left him, chest moving shallowly.

    “Ron!” he called, stumbling up and crouching next to him with the vial in hand. “Drink this, quickly! It’ll fix you.”

    “It doesn’t hurt anymore,” Ron said weakly. “I just feel numb. It’s…nice.”

    “Hey mate, none of that now. Just drink this and it’ll be better.”

    “But this is better,” Ron protested. “I- I think I’m dying.”

    “You are! That’s why you have to-”

    “I don’t want to change that.”

    Harry stopped short. “What? Come on, is your brain going?”

    “I’m tired of it all. The running. The fighting. The losing people. I think I wanna move on.”

    “No. No, no, no! Are you listening to yourself right now! What would Hermione say.”

    “That’s…what I want to hear,” Ron muttered, lips flicking into a sad smile. “I want her to say it to me.”

    Harry felt tears begin to fall, striking the stone floor. “What about me?”

    “You’ll manage,” Ron said, managing to meet his eyes. “You’re the one that can find a new purpose, remember?”

    And his head lulled down bonelessly, chin resting against his chest.

    Mechanically, Harry rose to his feet and climbed out of the cellar. His movements were stiff as he stumbled back from the shack into the clearing, a single goal in mind.


    It took him hours. Or maybe days. It was difficult to tell with nothing to judge time by. He barely knew what he was doing or why, just that he had to find the stone. And find it he did.

    The small stone had been covered by dirt and buried in the grass just to the left of the shack. Harry found it, wiped it clean as best he could, and watched the sun glint off its surface.

    All he could do was sit there, staring at the object.

    He’d found what he was after, and lost the reason it mattered in the process.
  2. haphnepls

    haphnepls Seventh Year

    Mar 26, 2019
    This is objectively a well written story so I'll just list all subjective nitpicks that bothered me.

    I feel like there's a problem with the tone of the story. The new world you showed us is grim, gritty, dark, and your protagonist goes through a lot deaths in the scope of the story, that's fine, but then Harry comes off as an YA protagonist. The two doesn't clash well. There is this great visual scene of Walking Centaurs that is in my opinion ruined with the dialogue that followed it. Harry said something like That ship has sailed. followed by something, and it just sounds wrong to me.

    Later, we have Ron, dying, Harry's best friend, obviously ready to go, saying he doesn't feel so hot. The only character that seems to fit into this setting is Dawlish of all people. The voices of characters, even though you narrative tells us of a survival story, are a tad too adventurous in a sense that it all comes unbelievable. The setting is getting more nuanced with those little bits of exposition that you've twisted in between storyline, it gets more real in that moments, but products of that past are just not here. Heavy shifts in personalities that you've hinted at worked better described than showed through dialogue.

    The second thing that didn't sit well with me was Filch. He has a heavy subplot aura about him. The deliberate wrongness of his OOCness comes off too strong, and it goes off for far too long, since the subplot takes a very big chunk of screen time. The quest - the very hook you've already sold us - comes of short, and it almost gets forgotten in all this Filch business - up to the point where I don't even care about it. It's a short story, and that much screen time for someone who came in play at the middle, is making the progress somewhat shaky.

    Having that in mind, the ending comes across short. The quest didn't have enough time to reestablish itself as the crux of the story and so it comes abrupt, undeserving of all the words written to that point, and ultimately, not as satisfying as it should have been. The punchline still hits good, but the reason why it does is not strong enough to feel it as deep it as it sounds.

    Visuals, I think, are the best part of this story, and the consistency is, even though I'm not a fan of your characters, solid. It's a good story, but it needs either more words to circle the ending better or less words to make the fic sharp, more gritty, more in-the-moment.

    Great editing, I think.
  3. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

    Jan 6, 2009
    The South
  4. BTT

    BTT Viol̀e͜n̛t͝ D̶e͡li͡g҉h̛t҉s̀ ~ Prestige ~

    Aug 31, 2011
    Cyber City Oedo
    High Score:
    Ah, zombies. Classic apocalypse scenario for a good reason. I suppose them having magic is the only real way to not have wizards solve the zombie problem fairly quickly, but then again the zombies seem fairly brainless and so I dunno if that really matches with magic being (to my mind) a more creative exercise.

    My criticism are, by and large, the lack of magic and the constant intercutting with facts about the Walkers and how things got to this point. The second kills the momentum dead and the first just made it a bit of a slog. Even with the exposition I kept thinking that with how wide-ranging and miraculous the effects of magic are, though, they should've been in a better state than this. Hide behind a Fidelius and keep duplicating food, maybe.

    But then we got to Filch. He was just too over the top. I figured he was to be a cannibal but he was just offering people to Ms. Norris. It felt stupid and pushed the story in my mind from dark and grim to needlessly so, and that's where you lost me. Ron's death was just kinda lame. Man fights his way through endless zombies and in the end it's salad dressing that does him in? Wow.

    In terms of technical writing it's okay. I can't find any major errors, just a few little niggles here and there of things that didn't read quite right.

    All in all I'll give this a 2.5/5.
  5. Mr. Mixed Bag

    Mr. Mixed Bag Slug Club Member

    Jun 18, 2021
    The whole last chunk felt like you stomped the gas pedal and ratcheted the speed up to a hundred and fifty miles per hour. You blast through multiple plot points, many of them not even coming close to being properly developed and end up just dumping a load of shit on the readers’ heads. It’s so bad that it ruins what amounts to a decent start and middle, which is a shame.

    Your characters feel one note. Most of them banter in the same way, seem to share the same voice, and don’t reflect their surroundings hardly at all.

    And the Walker’s are so inconsistent. They have magic, they’re supposed to be at least capable of strategy, and yet they have the aim of a stormtrooper during the chase scene. They only manage to hit a few spells, and none of them lethal? And Harry can pop one’s head like its nothing, even though they’re supposed to know shield charms? It reeks of inconsistency.

    You introduce concepts and put them to bed far too easily. Kingsley has importance, then disappears completely. The centaurs chase them, miss a few arrows, and are then dealt with with astounding ease. The sword of Gryffindor is important, then just winks out of existence. And while I’m on the topic, that’s one hell of a contrivance that Remus Lupin happens to be the Walker that wanders into their path from out of nowhere.

    The grammar is good at least, and there aren’t spelling mistakes left and right. Descriptions are solid, and dialogue (thought it has its issues) is consistent and generally believable.

    But in the end too many serious issues consign what could have been good to the lower side of mediocrity.
  6. WierdFoodStuff

    WierdFoodStuff Sixth Year

    May 24, 2018
    An amazing take on a very cliche idea.
    Zombies have been done thousands of times in thousands of different medias, crossing them with the familiar world of Harry Potter gives it some shine because it upturns that familiarity and comfort but it isn't enough. But the writing in this entry is good and so it just works ™.
    Great use of suspenseful pacing and mystery. There is just enough action and dialogue.
    The revelation of Filch as the crazy old man could have been handled better, that went over the top imo.
    I also don't really like the ending, isn't the whole idea that Harry will try and reverse the zombification? which will mean he will see plenty of old people he thought lost, plus I'd imagine someone like Harry would forcefully shove the antidote down Ron's throat, à la beozar incident.
    So yeah great writing but cliche idea and bad ending

    Bit unrelated but couldn't have the wizards used brooms from the start and go somewhere completely devoid of civilization magical or muggle? or can the walkers become fliers? Some unanswered questions there.
  7. Shinysavage

    Shinysavage Madman With A Box ~ Prestige ~

    Nov 16, 2009
    High Score:
    The bits in the present came across like a retelling of the zombies episode of What If...? on Disney+ a couple of months ago. That's not a particular criticism, necessarily, but zombies with magic vs zombies with superpowers, a quest to get to a familiar location to get the resurrection stone vs a quest to get to a familiar location to get the mind stone - the twist is the same as well, but while at first I was just thinking I could see it coming because of the similarities, you then write Filch as super obviously OOC and suspicious, so I guess that doesn't really matter. Again, I'm not necessarily criticising the plot lift itself, just that it meant, for me, I saw pretty much every beat coming.

    On the flipside, that made the glimpses of the past more interesting - not unusual material for zombie stories, I guess, but well told. The whole thing is well told, to be fair, I didn't really have anything to criticise on a technical level. The only real critique I've got that I've not already mentioned is the way it just kind of stops. Filch dies, Ron dies, and then...Harry gets the Stone somehow and that's it. What should have been a subplot - Filch - ends up becoming...well, the meat of the story, if you'll forgive the phrasing. And since he's so obviously dodgy, and his motivation so OTT - I suppose you can handwave it as him having gone mad since the outbreak, but still, he's killing people to chop them up and feed them to his cat, seriously? - that does undermine the story quite a bit.
  8. LucyInTheSkye

    LucyInTheSkye Slug Club Member

    May 29, 2020
    Away with the fairies
    This feels very 28 days later and I mean it as a compliment. I liked that film and I like this story. Maybe throw in some Hansel and Gretel as well.

    I enjoyed the atmosphere here, it’s gruesome but it doesn’t take itself too seriously, there is some levity mixed in. I’m a fan of that. I like that we’re on the move, and I think you have a lot of great individual scenes in here. The opening scene, the centaurs, inside Filch’s house, all good stuff. Pacing is good, I like how you cut back and forth between action and explaining, the high intensity scenes are particularly good. I like that your language is quite explicit but without revelling in gore or anything like that, the word choices feel rich, Harry’s thought monologues are a bit dramatic and have attitude, works great for this type of story (even though it’s different to how Harry thinks in canon).

    For me as a reader, characterization is the first thing I look for. Yours is ok, but no one sounds much like they’re from HP. Had they been OC’s I would still have said that the descriptions feel a bit blunt and that I lack distinct character voices, but I would have been a lot less critical. They do all sound like people talking, bantering, getting upset etc after all, but these are HP characters, the ones we all know and love, and that means they should sound like them. You can argue that it’s impossible to get them exactly right unless you’re JKR, but I think that if you looked at dialogue in the source material of the characters you’re portraying you could make it a lot better than this.

    You’ll likely catch the language stuff yourself in an edit, but there’s at least ‘caked in blood’ twice in the same paragraph, and turn tale that should be tail and wrang that should be rang. Yea to yeah or yes. I’ve come to understand that the writing advice given out nowadays is to use less names and more ‘the blonde’, ‘the older man’ etc, and I might be alone in this, but I’d at least edit the times you call Ron ‘the redhead’. To me it sounds like the epithet used to describe a particularly vapid Bond girl, I can't reconcile it with Ron. I’d also change Dawlish’s ‘goddamn’ to something that sounds less American, same with Harry’s ‘damn straight’. As for gardening, corn and tomato are not the easiest to get to thrive outdoors in a climate like the UK’s. Not impossible, but since your Harry knows all about gardening that’s something that should surprise him. Maybe do radishes or potatoes or beetroot, cabbage could work too. Other common things to have in a garden would be gooseberry bushes and blackcurrant bushes as well as apple trees. Now I’ve made myself hungry.

    I love the idea you had behind Filch, I think that’s a stroke of genius. I think the implementation doesn’t show the same genius, this becomes a problem both for Filch and Harry. Filch’s behaviour feels too off, either make him less obviously nice and happy, or only like that with other characters but still have him be a dick to Harry. Or give a plausible explanation for why nobody thinks it’s strange, like have him say he’s started on muggle anti-depressants or something. Having him be this ooc also means the reader will immediately expect him to be the bad guy, and to combat this you’d have to either introduce another suspect for the reader to consider, or you have to explain his behaviour in a way that the reader buys, probably should do both if you are aiming to add mystery to the plot. As is, we see it coming and don’t get the pay off.

    The Harry problem, then. The reader knows Harry better than anyone, and we know he isn’t stupid. The main offender is the scene where Filch tries to force poison into him, and afterwards Harry still isn’t quite sure if there’s something wrong with Filch, he is happy for them all to stay here to sleep, he has to ask Ron if he thinks there’s something weird going on. Ron’s death scene also shows both of them ooc, it just doesn’t work and feels like you needed to get rid of Ron asap and couldn’t be bothered to think of a plausible way to do it. I’m sensing that with more time you maybe would have written this part differently.

    Anyway, if this was my story I’d work on the character voices and add mystery to the existing adventure scenes. Good job, though, it was a fun read!
  9. Niez

    Niez Competition Winner CHAMPION ⭐⭐

    Jun 26, 2018
    Behind you
    The story is technically well written, and easy to read and follow. I liked the interlocking back and forth scenes, although you could have also left the reader to figure it out on their own and just focused on the present (it wouldn't have been hard to, after all). Prose wise I have no issues with it. It's just... zombies are a bit cliche innit? In general terms, I’d struggle to see how zombies would pose any sort of serious threat to magic users who still wield their magic (to be honest, I struggle to see how zombies pose any sort of threat to any moderately organised force, muggle or magical but that’s a personal gripe I won’t bother you with). Your solution to this is magical zombies, but - and I don’t mean to offend - that sounds absolutely retarded. Not is, mind, but sounds. Although in this case, it's also quite silly, as per your own worldbuilding.

    Three paragraphs down.

    This is quite simply a contradiction. Animals can’t perform magic. HP magic takes study, skill, dedication, in short, copious amounts of intelligence, as well as the capacity to speak - all of which animals (and half-decomposed corpses with animal-like intelligence) lack.

    You could have had similar mechanics, where the stone created shades, or ghosts, or shadows, or dementor-like creatures or something magical, which would have justified the threat extending to wizardkind as well, but as it stands I never bought into it, which kind of retracted from the reading.

    As a last point, I didn’t understand the purpose of insane! Filch in the story at all, aside from the rule of cool. I’m guessing it was for this line:

    But things were already stupidly grim before, and it's not like Ron and Parvatis deaths changed all that much to be honest. Like everyone being dead except Ron and Parvati vs everyone being dead including Ron and Parvati. Eh.

    Also, I don’t understand why Filch nursed Harry and the others back to health if he was planning on killing them anyways. Why not kill them the moment they stepped into his hut? Also the fuck is that with Mrs. Norris really. Just make him a cannibal or something.

    This is not how you do either em or en dashes, in any style you choose to use.

    Why would Harry be thinking like this after months of years of dealing with walkers? You’d think that at this point in his zombie killing career he’d know which spells to use and which not to.

    Final thoughts: well written, but too grim and with several problems imo. I’ll settle on a 3/5, although you could argue for higher, particularly if it was written in under a month. Assuming you agreed with some of what I'm saying, however, and modified things around a little bit I could see this getting a 4 from me, given the technical proficiency, even if it’ll be never be my cup of tea (because of the whole grimdark feel)
  10. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

    Jan 6, 2009
    The South
    One of the first things I notice is a lot of "was" being used, so passive voice. Story starts off well enough but I think you could edit that and make it even stronger.

    He was getting close now, the shambling figures near enough to smell. One was an adult woman in a sundress, her pale white skin a sharp contrast to her bright blond hair that was speckled with stains of red. Her emotionless face was caked in blood, though whether it was her own or not was impossible to tell. The next was a man in jeans and a white button up. The shirt was torn in three separate places, one spot giving a clear site at his ribcage while the others showed off deep scars caked in dried blood. The last was a boy that couldn’t have been older than twelve, his mousy brown hair matted and messy. He was quite a horrifying sight, given that nearly half his jaw and one of his eyes were completely absent. They had been a family, it looked like, and muggle, based off the clothes. That was a relief- it made Harry’s job much easier.

    The content of that paragraph is fascinating, but it's very passive and feels like telling instead of showing, despite how hard you are trying to show us what's going on. The issue continues later into the story as well, to the point that I think the best thing you could do in edits is replace half of your passive verbs for active ones and see if you like it or not.

    Story set up is great. You start with a cool scene that ends in a fight, THEN go back to discuss what they're called and what's happening. Kudos for structure.

    Hmm, Harry not sharing details of his plan, eh? Fair enough, but I expect a reason that will make sense in this scenario.

    Great line here:
    Before anyone truly understood what was happening the Walker’s numbers had tripled. By the end of the day they had tripled again.

    I like the bits of culture you added in, about being buried with your wand, etc.

    More suggestions with word choice:
    Time seemed to be standing still.
    No one was moving, and Harry couldn’t take his eyes off Tonks. He’d lost friends before. Too many times to count. But this had happened so suddenly.

    Time stood still.
    No one moved. Harry couldn't take his eyes off Tonks. He'd lost friends before, too many times to count. But this happened so suddenly.
    Get rid of words like "seemed" and "was" ffs and this will stand stronger. Same for that "had" there.

    The story idea is great, I'll give it that. But the prose kept encouraging me to skim through. It's possible that I missed a great reason why Harry had to keep this plan secret, so I can't say it's absolutely not there, but it felt like he could have shared his plan with Shack, etc. They were supposed to sneak in and get the stone and sneak out, right?

    Good ending.
  11. FitzDizzyspells

    FitzDizzyspells Seventh Year DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

    Dec 4, 2018
    Great opening. Harry feels like Harry — struggling not to lose his humanity in the face of a dystopia; shakily accomplishing his plans, while ultimately needing help and support to do so.

    In this story, sometimes the plot logic was solid and well thought-out. For example, it made sense why so many Walkers would be at Hogwarts (attracted to magic, haunting the place where so many of them had been while alive). I also liked the idea that burying wizards with their wands ultimately doomed the world to armed monsters.

    But other times, some of the author's choices seem odd and the logic breaks down.
    Yeah, I mean…. he should definitely summon one, right? They're using magic at this point in the story. Seems like the thing to do, no?

    And why wouldn't Harry's team call off their plan once Tonks used magic? Seems like things were sabotaged badly enough that it would be better to call off the mission and come back another time. Even if Apparition attracts Walkers, surely there's somewhere they can go where there are fewer Walkers than there are at Hogwarts? I feel like a couple lines of dialogue could've made me feel better about this plot hole. ("Harry, please, let's just Apparate!" "If we do, we'll be facing just as many Walkers wherever we arrive!")

    And now, let's address the most confusing element of the plot.
    I found this exposition too vague to be comprehensible. Horcruxes don't transfer ownership. And even if they did, why would the Harry-Voldemort connection cause all the dead to come back to life? I guess we're just supposed to accept "dark magic" as the explanation, which normally would be fine. But the fact that the entire plot hinges on it — the backstory, Harry's current plan, the reason the characters are protected from the Walkers during the last act of the story — makes me long for a more comprehensible explanation.

    I'll admit that it is very Harry-ish to have a super-vague plan which he withholds from others, praying he'll figure out what he needs to do in the eleventh hour. Like you said, making it up on the fly has always been his style.

    I can overlook most plot holes as long as the writing is strong. And for the first half of the story, it is. I enjoyed the cast of characters that you chose, and I liked the voices you had for them. The way you interspersed plot and exposition was very well done. I also thought you did a great job letting the tension come to a head with the centaurs.

    But things started to feel off once Tonks died. I understand that she was one of hundreds they'd watched die, but... for Ron and Pavarti to continually be downright chipper was just too off.

    Almost immediately after Tonks' death, the tone feels off. Right when Harry tries to smile and only manages a grimace, just after he'd pulled his sword from Tonks' corpse.

    Suddenly banter that I had liked before comes off as waaaay too glib after Tonks' brutal death:
    • “All right people, time to run like our lives depend on it! Because they do.”
    • ”Good to see sleeping beauty’s still with us.”
    • “What are you two knuckleheads plotting over here?” […] She smiled playfully as she came to a stop right in front of them. “On second thought, I don’t think I want to know.”
    • "The first time it ended with me having to cut my twins head off."
  12. H_A_Greene

    H_A_Greene Auror –§ Prestigious §– DLP Supporter

    Aug 30, 2009
    High Score:
    So straight off, good prose. Decent opening scene. Slightly confused though, it seemed like Ron used magic to repel the zombie boy, even though a few paragraphs on they mention magic/wand usage is apparently a bad thing. So I guess Ron just kicked it off of Harry or something. Moving on.

    Okay so its the usage of the Resurrection Stone that started this. Unique take to trigger a zombie apocalypse. I like it.

    Dawlish doesn't immediately seem the type to swear but hey.

    “No one’s keeping you here. If you want to turn tale and ditch, be my guest!”

    "But we have to try something…We have nothing to lose.”
    I'd either lowercase the w in 'We' or eliminate the ellipsis. Same deal a little further on around Teddy's death. Or maybe I'm just out of the writing game too long and can't parse things correctly.

    "Satisfied they wouldn’t been seen, Harry slipped under his cloak and began closing the distance."
    be seen

    Tonks reacting to her late husband's reanimated corpse attacking them is no surprise. That she should also die for her folly is fitting.

    "Roots blurred by under his feet as Harry sprinted at the head of the group, his 15-inch wand clutched at the ready in his hand."
    15 inches? Has it really been that long since I read canon that I've forgotten Harry's proper wand length, or is this a mistake?

    On another note, if the Walker's are also using magic, is it mentioned if that also attracts more of them? Is it just the living's usage of magic? Maybe that is to be inferred along the way.

    "There was a solitary window, dusty aged class letting in a bit of sunlight. "

    So right off I'm gonna predict Filch is actually Death. Possessed, posing, or something.

    "Harry stared the figures in silence. "
    stared at

    "They were outside, Harry haven taken his meal to where he could keep an eye on the Walkers"
    Harry having

    Yeah, Filch is definitely Death in disguise here.

    "bent down to check Parvati’s matt"

    "and through that small gap he could a hole."
    could see

    " A wooden roof coated the wide but empty room’s top"
    wooden ceiling?

    "The room itself couldn’t have been more than a 20 feet across and wide,"
    Ditch the a, or change feet to foot

    "familiar feline with a large bight across its side."

    And uh. Oh. I guess Filch is just batshit crazy. Okay.

    “Three.” Harry shifted his wand away from filch and towards the cage.

    And... done.

    Well damn if that isn't a downer ending. This took me a minute to get into, but when I did I couldn't really stop. Quality work overall, strong and rather depression narrative, the flashbacks serving their purpose fine throughout. I think you put together a great entry. I just don't know what the fuck Filch was trying to do to cure his cat by butchering Walkers and the living to harvest for parts. I guess that is how his garden grew, hah, with blood to give the soil nutrients /shrug/. The Walkers were the general antagonists of the story, but Filch served as a focal point to direct hatred upon at the end. And the ending really left me wanting for Harry to succeed. To know he managed to pull off the reversal of whatever had happened here, be it in destroying the Resurrection Stone, using it to ward off the Walkers so he could explore Hogwarts and try to clear it out and secure it or something, really anything more direct.

    But for what its worth, the ending still suffices for me. Really great entry.
  13. Mr. Mixed Bag

    Mr. Mixed Bag Slug Club Member

    Jun 18, 2021
    So, this one was mine.

    Like I said in the main thread, I wasn't actually planning to enter this comp. But I saw there weren't enough entries, saw that they'd delayed the deadline for another two weeks, and decided I could make that work. And I did...sort of.

    I made the decision to write before actually thinking of a premise, and because of the short timeframe I only gave myself a day to brainstorm. In hindsight, it would've been smarter to spend more time planning until I had a cleaner, better thought out story of a shorter length. I didn't, and the result was an imitation of the most recent apocalypse story I'd seen: the zombies episode of Marvel's What If (props to Shinysavage for catching me in that, lol). A lot of reviews pointed out the incompatibility of magic with its creativity elements and the mindless walkers. I completely agree. If you stop and think about it, there're a million holes like this in the concept, from more effective ways for wizards to escape to what Walkers should or shouldn't be able to do. Byproducts of a cobbled together premise, unfortunately.

    Then there's the ending. It's absolutely terrible, in large part because it wasn't what I'd planned. The whole last 2,000 words or so were cranked out on the final day, trying to get the story to a slightly acceptable end point before the clock ticked twelve or my motivation ran dry. For anyone that's curious, I'll attach a brief summary of what I'd planned end with below.

    The poison dressing didn't exist, or not in such an obvious way. Harry, Ron, and Parvati are all left poisoned after the meal, and wake up in the middle of the night feeling its effects. With the three of them separated from their wands and sapped of strength, Filch explains the why behind his actions.

    When he fled from Hogwarts with his cat, Sprout, and a few others, they ended up in the forest. The group was chased by walkers, and one of them was caught and bitten while the others broke away into a clearing. When the Walkers had turned the one they caught, they refused to come any further. The others were safe. The reason was that the resurrection stone was in the clearing, but since he didn't know that Filch was certain that it was the sacrifice of their group member keeping them away. He became obsessed with the idea that Walkers demanded sacrifices, and that letting others take the fall for him was the only way to stay alive.

    Eventually, after explaining his motivations, Filch kills Parvati to give her a quicker death, promising to get to Harry and Ron next. Harry snaps and a bout of accidental magic ends up killing the mostly insane old man. Filch had mentioned in passing that he poisoned all the food, and simply took the antidote himself. Because of this, Harry knows an antidote exists and goes to summon it. Before he can, however, Ron hits petrifies him from behind.

    In a similar (but more drawn out and explained) manner, Ron says that he's tired of living like this, and that he's going to let the poison run its course. Ron pours the antidote down Harry's throat to make sure he's safe, before dying peacefully. With his friends death Harry can move again, but has been left alone. He latches onto the idea of finding the stone, taking it with him, and going to find Kingsley. He works feverishly, eventually finding it, and runs for the ward line, looking to apparate out and find the only other possible survivor.

    But before he can reach the ward line, as he runs through a parting sea of Walkers, he finds Kingsley, already turned. The ending note was the same: Harry has the stone, but no one left to protect with it.

    So, erm, yeah...quite the debbie downer still. I'm usually a happy ending sort of guy, I swear, but something about the aftermath prompt just screamed 'tragedy' to me.

    I know I forgot something in this summary as well, but at least it gives a pretty good idea of what I wanted to go for.

    Ultimately, I'm really glad I entered. I was this close to nabbing the runner up spot (damn it Ched), got a ton of great feeback, look forward to putting in a better effort in future comps.
  14. Ched

    Ched Da Trek Moderator DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

    Jan 6, 2009
    The South
    ❤️Thank you for entering !
  15. FitzDizzyspells

    FitzDizzyspells Seventh Year DLP Supporter ⭐⭐

    Dec 4, 2018
    This was a phenomenal first draft, especially considering how quickly you threw it all together. I look forward to reading more from you, whether it's this or something completely different.
  16. Mr. Mixed Bag

    Mr. Mixed Bag Slug Club Member

    Jun 18, 2021
    Thanks :)
  17. H_A_Greene

    H_A_Greene Auror –§ Prestigious §– DLP Supporter

    Aug 30, 2009
    High Score:
    Dude, you largely knocked this one out of the park imo. For how little time you had to write it? I am impressed, even if you did borrow from Marvel.