Title: To Fall.
Character(s)/pairing(s): Gen. Harry, Hermione, Luna and Draco. Various zombies.
Genre: Zombie apocalypse AU. No, I'm serious. Horror themes, smatterings of angst.
Rating: PG-13 for mild violence. Just against zombies, though.
Length: 1,156 words.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
Summary/Teaser: Voldemort is dead, long dead, but the peace that they fought so hard for has been shattered. And it’s worse.
a zombie apocalypse AU by Naranne
They run, their feet pounding against cobblestones slick with rain and mud and, in some places, blood, their hearts pounding inside their rib cages in a frantic staccato of pure life. There’s no place that’s sacred, any more, not even Hogwarts. Not the Burrow, and certainly not Diagon Alley, where the shops have been sacked, all of the brooms taken, and the rain batters against cold, empty windows. Signs hang desolate from shop doors, merchandise either looted or scattered across the street. Harry reaches out blindly, grasps Hermione’s hand, and fires a wordless, desperate spell over his shoulder. He misses, and a window shatters – the noise is loud, too loud, and Hermione shouts a curse over her shoulder to finish off the creature that Harry tried to kill. The outbreak came out of nowhere, or so it seemed, but it spread and it spread, until it had devoured so much, and even now Hermione is still grappling with just what they’re fighting.
It is ruin more complete, more terrifying than anything any Dark wizard has ever wrought – except that this army, this force that hunts them only has one explanation in Hermione’s mind: Inferi, the dead, bewitched and driven by a horrible bloodlust and hunger. They’d thought that Voldemort’s most terrible army had vanished with his death, and yet— Hermione’s foot catches on a loose part of the paving, and she screams as she falls, her tangled hair whipped into her face by the wind. “Harry!” she shouts, scrambling to her feet, because he’s distracted by her fall and hasn’t looked behind him, and a mottled, bloody, rotten figure is charging towards them. He spins, raises his wand and bellows, “Protego!”
A shield charm, Hermione thinks, that won’t do us much good, but then her ankle protests sharply at the weight she puts on it and she realises that Harry was buying her time. “Episkey,” she gasps quickly, her wand hand steady despite the stress and horror of the circumstances, and feels relief as the muscle repairs itself. The shield charm vanishes beneath the battering of the creature’s bony hands, its eyes lifeless and its mouth open in a wordless yell – before it can take another step, Hermione conjures a ring of fire, lighting up the whole of Diagon Alley with red and orange.
“It doesn’t – it doesn’t stop them, Hermione.” Harry edges back towards her, as the body reaches out experimentally and runs a finger over the flames.
“But in the cave, with Dumbledore—” Hermione steps up towards him, warily eyeing the ring of flames. And then the Inferi decides that whatever that bright, hot stuff is, it’s not going to do it much harm, and charges through.
“It doesn’t work!” Harry yells back at her, eyes wild, and then severs the thing’s head with a spell.
It rolls, bounces towards them, and the lifeless, glassy eyes of a once proud wizard stare up at her. Hermione’s gut twists in revulsion, but she stamps down on it in determination and tugs at Harry’s sleeve, pulling him into a run. They should apparate, they should flee and never come back, she knows this – and yet she hopes against hope that every corner they turn, they’ll find survivors. Find their friends, family, because since the Ministry went silent, no-one has been heard from.
Voldemort is dead, long dead, but the peace that they fought so hard for has been shattered. And it’s worse.
Harry stops dead, his harsh breaths misting in front of their faces. She sees the reason why before he opens his mouth – there’s at least ten Inferi, fifteen, meandering towards them, and Hermione feels fear claw at the pit of her stomach. Not because of how ruthless these Inferi are, but because they don’t behave like Inferi and fire doesn’t stop them and Merlin help her she doesn’t know, and without knowledge she feels powerless. They dart into a side street, resting their heads against the damp stone of the shop wall behind them and catching their breath.
“Harry,” she whispers furiously, clutching her wand in a white-knuckled grip, “why won’t the fire work?”
He glances at her, and she sees her own fear reflected behind his features. Hidden, for none but a few to see. “I don’t know,” he admits, and that is not the answer she wanted to hear, “but Hermione, listen to me, I don’t think these are Inferi.”
It’s all the more awful because those words are exactly the thought that she’s been helplessly trying to banish. “They’re not afraid of fire, and sectumsempra works, and it shouldn’t – they shouldn’t exist.”
“I know, I know – they’re wrong, they’re different, it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before.”
“More wrong than Inferi?” Hermione hates the involuntary, shrill edge that creeps into her tone.
Before Harry can reply, there’s a crash and a loud bang from the end of the alley, and they both freeze, shifting so that they’re shoulder to shoulder and poised to fight.
“Who’s there?” Hermione calls, knowing she might draw exactly the wrong sort of attention to them but beaten enough to take that chance.
“People, Draco!” a familiar voice lilts, and a grin bursts across Hermione’s face. She glances at Harry, who mouths, Luna. Neither of them lower their wands.
“Show yourself!” Hermione calls, even though she’s daring to hope that it’s Luna and heck, even Draco Malfoy would be a welcome sight because it means they’ve survived.
A flicker of blonde, wispy hair precedes her, and then Luna Lovegood comes waltzing out in front of them, dirt and blood smeared across her smiling face and a dishevelled, terrified Draco Malfoy following behind her.
“It’s so fantastic to see you!” Harry blurts. “Both of you,” he adds, and Draco looks surprised. He offers them both a tight smile.
Survivors, they survived, Hermione repeats, over and over in her head. If they’re alive, then there might be more of us.
She opens her mouth to ask whether they’ve seen anyone, her throat clenching around the name, Ron, have you seen Ron, because she dare not hope, when Luna smiles serenely and says, “You’d better duck.”
Then, to their astonishment, she raises her arm and they realise she’s not only holding a wand, but a gun. She fires two shots in quick succession, and from behind they hear two sickening thuds. Harry glances behind them, but Hermione doesn’t quite know if her stomach could take the sight of it.
“Have you seen –” Hermione begins, and then changes direction abruptly, as the two of them walk towards her and Harry. “I don’t know what we’re fighting,” she admits.
Draco raises an eyebrow. “No?” Hermione thinks he’s going to come out with some sneered comment, but then he adds, “Well, neither do I.”
It’s Luna, however, who glances between all of them, and says, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, “Why, they’re zombies, of course.”