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Paradoxical Reality
As I Gird On For Fighting
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Title: As I Gird On For Fighting

Summary: Based off of the A.E. Housman poem of the same name.

Rating: R

Pairing: Harry/Hermione; Ginny/Lucius; Hermione/Tom

Warnings: Non-con, mild description of torture, Much angst

Disclaimer: I own neither the characters or the poem. They belong to their respective owners (J.K. Rowling and A.E. Housman)

As I gird on for fighting

My sword upon my thigh,

I think on old ill fortunes

Of better men than I.

The alarm sounded all throughout the camp and chaos reigned as the frenzied personnel rushed back and forth, frantically trying to prepare for what little they could, to help defend themselves against the coming onslaught. One man alone was not rushed. Slowly, he stood and silently began preparing himself for battle. As he pulled on his battered curse-resistant dragon-hide armor once more and began to arm himself, his thoughts turned to the others, those who’d already fallen.

Think I, the round world over,

What golden lads are low

With hurts not mine to mourn for

And shames I shall not know.

The Weasleys had been decimated, literally. Percy had died in one of the first of the Ministry riots, protecting the Minister he served so faithfully with his body and magic. Fred and George had been captured and were rumored to be the Lestranges’ new playthings. He hoped with all the humanity that he could still lay claim to that the rumor was false. Molly and Arthur had been killed along with so many others when Dumbledore had died and the Order Headquarters had been blown to bits. All that was left of the once jovial family were Bill, Charlie, and Ron. Ginny was not to be spoken of, ever. She’d joined with the other side and if what he’d heard could be believed, she was now the ‘pet’ of Lucius Malfoy.

What evil luck soever

For me remains in store,

‘Tis sure much finer fellows

Have fared much worse before.

Neville Longbottom had been another. Forced to watch as Bella had toyed with his lover, Luna, he’d been a changed man once he’d managed to escape. Neville hardly slept now, it really wasn’t worth it, not when all he saw was Luna being tortured and killed all over again. Seamus Finnegan, Dean Thomas, Susan Bones, Alicia Spinnet, Daphne Greengrass all dead or captured, for their sakes he hoped they were dead. He wouldn’t wish the tender mercies of the Death Eaters on anyone, save for Voldemort perhaps. He still remembered the anguished screams of Oliver Wood when they’d found Katie’s corpse, well it’d be more accurate to say that they’d found what remained of the corpse of one of Gryffindor’s beloved Chasers.

It was over.

And everyone knew it. He really didn’t know why they even bothered to try anymore, save for the fact that it really was all they knew how to do. All that they’d been trained for; no one in the camp now had any life or much chance at one apart from this. They’d all come to learn the hard way that Death was a blessing, a sweet release from the shackles that kept them earthbound. The true curse was being forced to remain here on earth while everyone around you was slowly killed off, most in horrific ways unimaginable to the human mind.

Today would be the last battle. He would expend what effort he had left to him and try to end this one last time. However, failing this should the sweet green glow of blessed release come towards him, he would not try to dodge out of its way, but would face it head-on like the man he’d come to be.

So here are things to think on

That ought to make me brave,

As I strap on for fighting

My sword that will not save.

Even if he did manage to kill Voldemort today, he had no more will left in him to live. He’d seen too much, felt, experienced, and lived through too many horrific things for him to ever find peace on this earth. He knew that one way or another when this day was all said and done; he would be with those he’d loved the most. His parents, his godfather, his friends and colleagues, the woman he loved. If he had to be truly honest with himself, he say that it had been Her that pushed him over the edge from Life to this apathetic barely half-life existence he’d been in. She’d smiled and she’d blushed and she’d stolen his heart and soul from right under his nose. With her wild brown hair and her expressive brown eyes and that sweet voice, she’d killed him, as surely as if she’d taken a knife and plunged it right into his heart. This corporeal shell he’d once called a body might die today, but as far as he was concerned, he’d died the day that she had. After having found out about Harry’s visions, Voldemort had stepped up the number of raids and for the first time in a long time, actively participated in torturing any and all of Harry’s friends and colleagues that they’d managed to capture. The worst though, was when he’d witnessed Ginny selling Hermione out to Voldemort as “Potter’s love.” He’d screamed that night loud enough to wake the dead, the others told him. It had amused Voldemort to no end to take Hermione as his ‘pet’ for a time. Especially after he’d managed to break through her mental shields and he saw the memories of her secret marriage with Harry. Voldemort had dedicated valuable time and effort into breaking the former Gryffindor know-it-all. She’d managed to hold out for a month and a half until finally she couldn’t take it anymore. She’d rushed the Death Eaters and managed to impale herself on Rodolphus’ knife. That’d been the day that she’d found out she was pregnant. Harry had done the math and realized that had things turned out differently, he’d have been a father in a few months. It was at the death of his wife and unborn child that he’d finally given up, stopped caring altogether. His only goal now was to go out fighting and try to take as many of them with him as he could.

Voldemort had won. Even if Harry did manage to kill him, the world he’d fought for was no more. The Death Eaters would squabble and fight for the pieces of Voldemort’s newly crafted empire and they’d set themselves up as Warlords or something like that. It’d be the Dark Ages all over again.

Harry tightened the last strap on his armor, squaring his shoulders as he strode out of his tent, his wand in one hand and the Gryffindor sword in the other.

It was a good day to die.

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