Summary: He had lost it all. He had nothing left. Everyone was dead, and he, Harry Potter, was the Master of Death. How could he help but save them? He performed the final rite, a Peverell secret, mixing necromancy and blood magic to return to a time before as he accepts his fate and birth right. To return to a time when apples are flowers on the tree. Time Travel, Dark Magic, etc.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter completely nor do I have any monetary rights to the characters. "Murder" belongs to Within Temptation, et al.
Thank you all for supporting this story. I have never had so many responses to a story so immediately.
Arc 1: Apple Blossoms
Chapter 2: Run
"I've been around these vicious lies too
"Too long to be neglecting the truth
"I'm getting closer and I'm fully armed.
"...I don't believe in judgment day
"But you won't be leaving here unharmed."
— "Murder" by Within Temptation
He didn't seem to be aware of the passage of time, wrapped up in the feeling of summer heat and an over-encompassing loneliness as the darkness around him seemed to attempt to press around him. He shivered briefly – not from cold, for there was none, but for the sudden onset of ramifications impressing themselves upon him.
He fingered the silver waves extending from the valleys between his knuckles to the centre of the back of his hand, where the lines converged into a base. It was the rune for death, he knew, and the rune for the yew tree. His hand seemed so bare without his ring – by birth and by blood – and onyx stone. His arm seemed so smooth without the rigged scars and without the leather holster and without the wand of elder. He seemed so cold without the shimmering fabric of his cloak hiding him from view.
The world seemed so loud outside his cupboard with everyone still alive.
Death cannot be defeated, he knew. Death cannot be beaten. He could not win against Death. No matter what he did, everyone would still die.
And yet, on the tombstone-statue of a woman and her husband and their babe between them, a pedestal beneath them decreed: the Last Enemy to be Destroyed is Death.
Do you hate me, Mother? he wondered idly, Do not despair, for this is the path I have chosen.
The quill slashed across the parchment as he nursed an idle tea – an oolong blend – and several lemon drops. He twirled fingers across his long white beard that he could have tucked into his belt, if he so wished. His cloak was a vibrant red-violet and had little snidgets dancing across the ultramarine sashes. He wore a floppy, ragged brown pointed hat with a white speckled hawk feather dancing around the rim.
His portrait did not give him justice.
Albus Dumbledore presented himself as a simple but flamboyant man – candy-crazed, eccentric and overtly powerful, but nonetheless childish in his flashy colours and gaudy jewellery. His bare feet slipped out of his handmade buckle shoes (dating back to the eighteenth century). He hated his feet, he pondered to himself, he truly did. Only beloved Arianna could make socks quite correctly.
Nobody did it right anymore.
Nothing did anything right.
A blazing green and blue light glared from his fireplace. His twinkling blue eyes raised and he sipped demurely at his oolong, jumping at the chance for company, "Richard? How do you do? Why are you calling? Would you like to come through? Would you like a lemon drop – "
"Headmaster," the awkward man in a dark purple robe tried to edge in.
The headmaster stood with a flourish and waved a hand, "Come in, come in, Richards. I've been so lonely in this castle. Come visit with an old man, eh? Do you need tea? Black? White? Chai? Red? Oolong? You look like a jasmine. Do you like jasmine blends?"
"Headmaster, this is about the Veil," the man declared quietly.
The elderly man stopped mid tirade, stopping over his teapot, "What?"
The words gushed out, "The Veil suddenly grew very erratic last night at midnight. Mary Elecity and Selena Lovegood collapsed because apparently it began to shriek – even people who don't hear the veil felt a grave pressure on their heads for a total of forty-two seconds. The Archway to the Veil also started to crack and a grave but minor earthquake shattered a few time turners in the Time Room – and how an earthquake of all things was focalised on a single room we have not yet discovered – "
"Crack?" Dumbledore breathed, eyes widening and eyebrows drawing together in worry. His gnarled hands abruptly put down the teapot and abandoned the teacups on the table as he looked the young Unspeakable in the eye.
Richard shook visibly through the flames, "Y-yes – and runes started carving into it, more than the runes of secrecy and protection."
"What were the new runes, my boy?" he whispered quietly, "You must tell me. It is of the gravest importance that I know what these particular runes were."
"They were runes of death," he choked out, "It wrote out again and again in the runes – Death hath Come, Death hath Come, Death hath Come – and it didn't stop until the horrible shrieking stopped. Selena Lovegood has reported that for the first time in her lifetime, the Veil was silent. It did not speak any longer."
Albus Dumbledore sat heavily in his chair, and stared into the depths of his teacup, wishing he could See as Syball did, so he could discover a way out of this. He begged silently for a future where this did not happen. How could this have happened? His inner voices shrieked in curiosity and despair. He turned back to the fireplace and whispered, "No whispers? Was the Veil visible?"
"None, sir. No whispers, and yes, a tattered tarp disintegrated in the Archway. Selena – in a fit of hysteria – lunged towards the Archway, and," he paused briefly to take in a shaken breath, "She was fine. She simply ended up on the other side. The Archway was practically useless."
Albus suddenly gave a startling growl and hurled his cup across the room, and it shattered next to Fawkes' perch. Fawkes flinched and disappeared in a bit of flame, "There was nothing?" he demanded.
"Nothing, sir," Richard whispered.
"Nothing at all?" he shouted at the flames.
The head in the flames visibly flinched and whimpered, "You said you needed to know if that happened – if the whispers ceased. I was only doing what you asked."
"I'm not mad at you, Richard, but," he paused briefly to try and draw in a composed breath, "Was this an isolated event, or – "
Richard descanted quickly, nervous about another shouted word (the Department of Mysteries was often near silent), "In Jerusalem, the Veil of the Temple was also rendered useless. All of the rabbis and their wives committed suicide in synch. One of the daughters of the Jews – she was rendered to the state of a five-year old in her head – she was crying something about the Messiah and David and Abram.
"And, and in Greece, one of the Oracles wrote of a Great Coming before killing all of the Vestal Virgins that attended to her and killing herself.
"And in Turkey, at the Plutonian in Hierapolis, apparently hordes of spirits and bodies reanimated straight out of the ground – the Turkish Ministry is still casting Fiendfyre and have self-quarantined themselves. All Turkish residents are firmly stuck within the Turkish border.
"And in the Chinese City of Ghosts, a river suddenly broke through and ran red with blood – allegedly – and the Magickal Officials are still Obliviating the masses.
"And, the River of Acheron disappeared. Entirely. Reports are still being owled in worldwide and the Wireless is still going off at HQ." Richard finished blandly and with a touch of nervousness still permeating his figure.
"Merlin. Does Minister Fudge know? Does the ICW know? Do the Muggles know?" he whispered portentously.
"Not yet. You, ah, you demanded to be notified immediately if the Veil ever cracked or went silent or suddenly ceased working," he said promptly before breaking out in a sweat once more, "Master Unspeakable also wishes to know if you have an explanation for why this is all happening. No Seer has prophesied this and we are still being notified of Oracles going mad globally. W-what is going on? Do you know, sir?"
"Lord Voldemort has gone and united the Deathly Hallows, Richard. Somehow, in some way, Lord Voldemort has become the Master of Death," Albus declared easily.
"He's back?" Richard asked faintly, monotonous, shuddering within the flames of the Floo.
"Yes, he's back," Albus Dumbledore promulgated, the twinkle in his eyes breathing its last.
The door to the cupboard opened and a willowy, long-necked, blonde form appeared, sinewy as a young apple tree. Her face was twisted heartlessly, but he was struck with her youthful beauty. She was on the edge of homely, he knew, but she was also graceful and had a lot of things many women would die for: an elegant, straight nose, slim arms and a thin form, straight light-blonde hair, dark blue (near purple) eyes, high-arched eyebrows – but she was also cruel and petty and vicious. He doubted if he had ever seen her smile in his life.
"Get up!" she snapped at him.
He blinked at her owlishly and without a discernable expression. A pressure hummed in the back of his head and scarlet symbols briefly shimmered across her forehead. He blinked again and they had disappeared.
"Are you deaf, boy? I said 'get up!'" she crowed irritably.
He still didn't falter in his motionless stare.
She rolled her eyes and lunged forwards to grab his arm and yank him out. As she went to jerk him out, he stepped back easily, just out of her reach.
Her lip curled and she snarled, "You stupid freak!" She raised her hand to slap him but her hand froze in mid-air.
He cocked his head and his lips twitched slightly. He whispered gruffly, hoarsely as if he hadn't spoken in years, "What year is it?"
"Bloody hell, you freak! Let go of me!" she screeched.
"Answer me," he ordered with a hint of forced clemency. His brow twitched and her wrist began to redden with sudden pressure, as if a large hand was holding her wrist captive and she couldn't flee.
"You bloody piece of shite! Stop this freakishness right now!"
He turned his head so it was cocked the other way and the carpals in her wrist suddenly shattered. She squealed loudly like pig.
"Tell me the year or I do that to your head." The red symbols blazed brightly against the skin of her forehead before dissipating easily. He wondered what they were for, what they meant, and if it mattered, before he remembered the task at hand.
She was openly crying by then, "It's 1990 – July thirty-first in 1990! Let me go! For the love of God, let me go!"
He released her hand from his 'hold' and she immediately cradled it to her chest. It hung uselessly from her arm and he merely stared. What was that? he wondered. Where did that come from? But what exactly he was referring to – the woman or his own magic – he remained unsure.
He knew very well that this wasn't his Petunia, the one from his time.
This was housewife Petunia. Hatred-made Petunia. Mrs. Petunia Dursley, mother of Dudley and loving wife of Vernon, not General Petunia Evans, vilomah and widow – childless and husbandless. His Petunia was a warrior who would have snapped her own wrist if she could have seen her younger self. This Petunia was a pansy flower – frail and beautiful to some – where his Petunia was a knife in the dark, a mountain in the ocean, a callused hand that protected the children with her life and being.
It was all very confusing.
She stared at him, a peculiar, unfamiliar fear in her violet eyes and her rapidly bruising wrist cradled to her breast. Her arms were soft, and her legs were twiggy. She was not armoured, toned and chiselled nor was she fearless and blazing in the heat of battle.
His Petunia would never exist.
He inched out of the cupboard and the woman flinched from him. He entered the kitchen, hand drifting along the marble countertops and the silver sink. State-of-the-art microwaves and toasters and blenders. Stainless steel and polished porcelain. The window was spotless and had flimsy, frilly yellow curtains made of lace and embroidered with silk. His finger reached out hesitantly and his not-Petunia observed a slight sheen in those unforgivably, unnaturally bright eyes. He didn't touch the lace and silk however and he pulled back.
He turned again and looked at her dismissively, "I am ten?"
"Y-yes," she stuttered, surprised he spoke to her at all.
"That's alright. I have a year until Hogwarts then."
"Who told you that?" she hissed, cheeks reddening.
He rolled her eyes, "Honestly, woman. I don't know why you even bothered hiding it from me. You know that there is simply no way for magic to be stamped out – short of severe magical illness or invasive, continuous torture. You shouldn't have even bothered."
"What is wrong with you?" she breathed, "Who – why do you know such things?"
He spun, green eyes meeting violet, "I don't need to tell you. You don't need to know. You don't deserve to."
"You broke my wrist!" she shrieked before flinching away from his stoic face. She whisper-shouted after a moment of apprehension, "If whatever you know made you break my wrist, I'm going to throw you – ask you to leave," she corrected herself, hastily.
He simply stared at her. He spoke, "Where's Dudley and Vernon?"
Her eyes widened and hardened like amethysts. She squared her expression and her lips thinned. She lifted her jaw, dropped her injured wrist and said simply, "I'm not telling you."
His face hardened, he pursed his lips and simply sighed. His green eyes were hooded as they pinned her in place. "Do you want to know how you die?" Harry whispered.
Her brows furrowed.
"There is a war. World War Three. Except, instead of the world against Germany, it's the Muggles versus Wizards. Everyone dies," he told her, nodding simply, "Your husband dies by my wife's hand and she is burnt alive in London on national television. Your son is publicly hanged because he protected his daughter – who was born a Witch – and sent her to the haven for Wizards in China. You? You become a General in the International army that was crusading against us. You killed my best friend. You mutilated my brother-in-law. You tortured Draco into insanity, because you could. And in the end, it didn't matter. For the first time since the beginning of time, the Dark and Light forces of Magick united against you, and we killed you all. And that killed us.
"All except for you. And for me. You shot yourself within a month. I was thirty-four. I killed myself, too, when I was forty-one."
"H-how do you know this?" she gasped before scowling, "You're lying."
"Maybe I am," he conceded, "but maybe I'm not."
"Duddy wouldn't have a freak kid."
Harry rolled his eyes, "You idiot. It's genetic. Do you know what that means? It means that Magick is an inherent hereditary trait. It is on our DNA. We are a more evolved human. We aren't exactly a different species – yet – but we do have different DNA than Muggles do. Muggleborns are advancements of the genetic code. One extra gene is all it takes for magick to manifest. My mom had it. My best friend had it. Your granddaughter had it. Hell, if you have more kids that just Dudley, one of them might have it, too."
"Even if what you said happens – which it won't, because you're a delusional little freak – how would you know this?" she hissed, wary of the window and of the boy.
He shook his head, "I'm telling you this so you realise the severity of your actions. Your husband dies because he shared your idea of magic being inherently evil and freakish. He gets himself killed. He widows you. Your son? Your precious baby boy? He is so afraid for his own daughter that – unlike you – he ships her off to China and never sees her again, and he dies for you and your husband's beliefs. And you end up alone and insane and you kill yourself."
"You're insane," she declared, "You belong in the looney bin!"
"And what is the hospital going to do when I tell them how my Uncle Vernon whips me with his belt every night and how my Aunt Petunia doesn't feed me for weeks on end as punishment, and how my bedroom is the cupboard under the stairs?" he leaned in and breathed across her face, "How normal is it to be arrested for child abuse?"
"You are not my nephew," she breathed back, "You are some freakish apparition. You're that Dumbledore man playing tricks on me!"
He laughed harshly once and said, "I'm not that boy you hit over the head with a frying pan yesterday. I'm not that boy who knuckles under because I know of no other way. I survived two wars. I survived you. I am a Wizard. I am a freak. I am," he trailed off, before grinning severely, "I am your worst nightmare."
She backed up, leaning up against the countertop because he was stepping closer. His eyes were bright and wide like a normal child's but his mouth twitched in places, and his fingers spasmed.
"I just want you to reel in your husband, and feed me," he murmured, "Is that so much to ask?"
Unbeknownst to him, her fingers scraped behind her and met the steel of a knife. She grabbed it and lunged forwards.
The steel against his stomach and the sudden rush of blood surprised him. He stared at her in surprise and looked down at his abdomen, not comprehending the black handle protruding from a place above his navel. He blinked and fell to his knees, "How are you going to explain this to the neighbours?" he asked her idly, voice monotonous and high-pitched like that of a five-year old rather than a ten-year old.
She blinked down at him, breathing harshly. "Why aren't you dead? Bloody freak!" she yelled at him.
He looked up at her and said, edging on hyperventilation, "You fool. You bloody fool. I can't die."
The knife was ripped straight out of his abdomen, turned in mid-air and impale the woman straight through the eye.
She slumped down to the floor and made a nice smear against the countertop.
He blinked and he was face to face with a perfectly healthy and alive Petunia, who was glaring at him with hatred. Her arms were crossed over her bust and both of her wrists were fine. The scarlet symbols on her forehead blazed once, twice, thrice before disappearing into her skin.
A vision?! he thought wildly, I don't have visions.
But he was so sure….
She was dead, on the floor, in the kitchen.
She reached in and grabbed his collar, hauling him out of the cupboard.
"Aunt Petunia?" he began quietly.
"Shut up, freak. I have no idea what happened to your glasses and I'm not getting you anymore. You were the one stupid enough to lose them, not me!" she snapped.
He couldn't ask about the vision, then. It was only a….
A what? A daydream? When did he start having daydreams about murdering his aunt after she stabbed him? He never truly wanted her dead before. He had moments of weakness, yes, where he just begged anything in the universe for him to be taken away or found out about or for Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia to be killed in a car crash like his own parents (or so he thought at the time) so the Queen would have him sent to a foster home, but that was years ago!
Of course, he wasn't exactly forty-one anymore.
"Aunt Petunia, what day is it?" he asked suddenly, interrupting her tirade (that he hadn't a heard a lick of).
"It's July thirty-first, freak," she looked at him sharply and her too-arched eyebrows dared him to even mention the fact that it was his birthday.
He nodded, "Thank you, Aunt Petunia. Would you like a full English breakfast or something else?"
Her eyebrows twitched and her lips pursed but she said, "A full breakfast will be fine."
He went into the kitchen and began to work on breakfast for the first time in nearly two decades.
"Somebody retrieve Harry Potter and put him into protective custody!" he yelled for the eightieth time into his Floo.
Arthur Weasley stood by, watching Albus Dumbledore try and convince everyone that He-Who-Not-be-Named had returned.
Apparently, no one believed him.
Now, Arthur Weasley was a rational man, or liked to think of himself as so, and when Albus had Flooed him to tell him that his children and his wife were now in severe danger once more after a decade of reconstruction and peace, he had calmly sat down, sipped his tea and said, "What proof do you have?"
Albus, of course, never provided anyone with proof.
Hours passed with Albus screaming himself hoarse as he tried to facilitate an army of Wizards against You-Know-Who, but no one wanted to listen.
It had been a decade of peace. Harry Potter Day was coming up in a few months and a parade and a ceremonial tree planting was going to take place.
Nobody wanted another war to occur, so in true English fashion, they ignored it.
That was, of course, until one of the trinkets around Albus' office began to ring and squeal with bright red letters glaring: Harry Potter is in danger!
He worked with a quiet monotonousness that made his aunt very nervous. The red letters on her head returned every so often but the visions did not come again. He looked at her once or twice an hour and saw the symbols but they didn't really mean anything to him. He actually wanted another vision so he could prove to himself that he wasn't entirely insane.
Something. Anything. A car crash. An unfortunate knife. A slip on the staircase. A burglar. Something! Sometimes when he looked at her he got a strange feeling of imminence, and behind his eyelids he sometimes imagined her with blood all over her temple and dead violet eyes. Almost like when he discovered her body on the living room floor and her brains all over the wall.
It was nearly six post meridiem when Uncle Vernon came home. He was washing the dishes when Uncle Vernon arrived and he had truly forgotten to prepare dinner. Petunia hadn't yelled at him to do it as she did at lunch and he hadn't volunteered to do it as he did breakfast.
Dudley scurried in first, passing through the kitchen and punching his cousin mid-jog, sending the much smaller boy off-kilter. Vernon lumbered in with his hulking form and kissed his wife on the cheek and then he said, "What's for dinner?"
Petunia's eyes widened as well. Both her nephew and she were slim naturally and simply did not get hungry as often as other people did. It was a simple mistake, "Um, what's for dinner? We're having – lambchops! Yes, lambchops and they are in the oven."
He frowned, his bushy moustache moving over his lip like a caterpillar, "When will it be ready?"
"Half an hour," Harry told him, peering into the room.
The large man turned and his face immediately reddened, "Freak! Are you trying to starve me?!"
"Get in your cupboard!" he suddenly yelled, screaming and walking – well, waddling – forwards towards the much younger boy.
"Sir, I'm cooking dinner," he simply said. Inwardly he cursed; this wasn't supposed to happen.
The man snarled and grabbed the boy by his collar and threw him against the wall. White exploded behind his eyes and he found it rather hard to breathe.
His too large hands and walrus face leaned into his own form and he hissed, spit flying everywhere, "You goddamned freak, good for nothing waste of space! Get in your cupboard! And don't give me any cheek about it or I'll do more than toss you!"
With a sudden burst of suicidal impudence he replied, "And if you don't stop putting your grubby hands all over me, I'll do much worse than spit in your dinner."
Petunia gasped somewhere in the background. At that, Vernon stood up, unhooked his belt and snapped it against the air. He raised it high above his head and went and….
And the belt came down.
The old Wizard appeared on Privet Drive for the first time in nearly ten years and raced up the steps. He reached for the doorknob but his own wild magic burst the door off its hinges and he stopped dead in his tracks at the scene met with him.
Blood was everywhere. Tom had already come and gone it seemed. He gasped, taking in the horrible sight and the scarring smell of blood, and covered his mouth and nose with his arm as he shot off a lumos and a homenum revelio. Four bodies, yes. He stepped gingerly over the threshold and through the doorway.
Red lines covered every wall, as if the ceiling itself was bleeding. He raised his wand, following the red outlines of bodies courtesy of the human-revelation spell. He reached the kitchen and slowly, ever so slowly, opened the door, willing himself to stay awake long enough to see if Harry had suffered before he died. A voice in his head that sounded surprisingly like his brother at his sister's funeral, "Of course he suffered, Albus, he was tortured and never had a day of happiness beforehand! Which is, by the way, you're fault!"At the time, though, he had used a feminine pronoun because he spoke of Arianna rather than of Harry. Another causality that occurred because he failed in his responsibility to protect the innocent.
How many more deaths would he survive? Why, Albus despaired, oh, why had he tried to do it legally? Why did he try to have Harry Potter put into Ministry-paid protective custody, rather than Apparating immediately to Privet Drive and taking the boy himself, straight to the wards of Hogwarts? Now, the boy, the only chance for the future, was surely dead and forever reliving pain in his death.
He was only ten.
The kitchen door opened and the light showed a grisly scene.
A woman was crucified against the wall in a mock cross, with knives stabbing into her hands, her elbows, her breasts, her abdomen, her feet, her knees, her neck and her eyes. This, he breathed inwardly, was what became of little Tuney Evans who begged and pleaded to be in Hogwarts, too. With such a gruesome death, she must have attempted to protect her nephew and her child with her life.
A young, round boy with a shock of blood-stained blond hair – Tuney's child, not Harry – was in pieces on the floor. Tom always did like rending rather than mending. The child had no blood in him, and no blood was in Tuney either. This must be why several gallons of blood continued to cascade down the walls and pool onto the floor. He always did like dramatic scenes. Dumbledore remembered him performing theatrics in that one disastrous play so long ago – he enjoyed the blood and the smoke and even the incident that called for another play to never occur again.
On the other end of the room was a large corpse without fat, skin, muscle, or tissue. He was at the centre of a pentagram of blood. Every bit of innards had been removed and every bit of cell that made him more than the burnt skeleton he was. And yet, no Harry.
The boy couldn't have been taken, surely! Raised by Tom? Twisted by Tom? Tortured by Tom, until he was nothing but another Dark Lord? No, that would be much worse than his death in this house! – Or would it? He'd still live long enough to slay Tom, but he might take the mantel of rule himself! Where was Harry Potter?
The outlines caused by the homenum revelio had dissipated, but he was hesitant to cast it again, if it was not Harry. It could be a vengeful Wizard cleaning up his master's mess who would not hesitate to kill Albus Dumbledore.
In the dining room, he discovered as he opened the other kitchen door, was an elegant table with a white cloth and four plates set out. Four martini glasses were filled with pus – he gagged – and eyeballs with toothpicks through them. Four platters had cut intestines stuffed with burnt flesh and blood – a humanoid kishka – with a side of what he identified to be portions of a brain.
Tom had wanted to kill this family. He wanted to make a statement.
And yet, Harry Potter was still not there. He continued into the bloodied den and spied an abandoned belt and a cracked screen of one of those Muggle picture boxes. He passed a mantle and peered briefly at the pictures. None of Harry. Was the house Obliviated of Harry Potter's presence? Only very powerful Wizards could erase a Wizard from inanimate objects and of the surrounding Muggles with one spell. Of course, he reminded himself, Tom Riddle was nearly as powerful as Salazar Slytherin or Albus Dumbledore.
He reached the staircase and went to go upstairs, but he heard a muffled sound from a cupboard with nearly five deadbolts on it that sat underneath the stairwell. He took in a startled breath but otherwise steeled himself. He cast an Alohomara, reached for the knob and gently opened the cupboard, completely expecting a young boy's body to fall out of it.
There was a young boy inside of the cupboard. He felt tears prick at his eyes but quickly suppressed them, as he had for than a half-century by that point. He bit his tongue and pushed the glowing tip of his wand into the dark cupboard. He would see his charge, just once, before he had him cremated.
His face seemed intact though it was completely caked in blood. His clothes were torn and ruffled and blood-stained severely. His black hair was melded against his head with the browning fluids but some placed were ruffled upwards as if he had been dragged in and locked in the cupboard. Did his aunt or uncle shove him in to protect him, unaware he was already silenced?
Or had Tom took out his rage on the boy and then let him bleed out in the cupboard after murdering his family in front of him?
He went out to pull the boy out of the cupboard when a glint caught his eye.
Green eyes reflected the light.
"Harry?" he gasped.