A/N:

The awesome cover image was done by the talented Erebus-Merula!

Thanks, dearest! It's so awesome! ~love~

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They say that history repeats itself. They say that the more things change, the more they stay the same. They say that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. They say that words are cheap and that the actions make the man. They say that time heals all wounds. They say only the good die young and that cowards live forever.

They say that the road to ruin is paved with good intentions and adorned in well-meaning lies.

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The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches….born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies...

There were only a handful of people who had rejected or openly opposed the Dark Lord Voldemort and lived to tell the tale. Fewer still who were due to give birth in the late summer. So, truly, it was not much of a stretch for the man to find couples who fit the parameters of the Prophecy that his faithful spy had overheard part of and plot a course of action that would remove the so-called Chosen child from his path.

He had always been an intelligent child and had grown into a shrewd, sharp man with an unusually high capacity for magic and the will to wield it. He had grown up in a filthy Muggle orphanage during the worst years of the Second World War and had been continually denied the chance to stay at Hogwarts- his home, where he belonged- by the man who now held the title of Headmaster.

Voldemort hated that man.

Hated the way Dumbledore had looked at him from the very beginning; hated the way the pleasantly smiling man with the suspicious eyes would smile at him and chatter about how Muggles were not all filth as if he would know.

More than anything Tom- before he had surpassed the need for that filthy Muggle's name- had hated the darkness of his summers, huddled underneath his flimsy bed with no light as the air raid sirens blared and the sounds of explosions tore through the night. He hated the knowledge that right then- at that very moment, while he was huddled under his bed choking on his fear that his prison would be the next place to go up in ravenous flames- the denizens of the magical world- the world he belonged in- were tucked safely away behind their wards.

Laughing, drinking, and feasting; while Tom felt the ground tremble beneath him as the Axis Powers rained hell down upon his filthy Muggle orphanage.

It was those nights that had instilled within him an irrational fear of death while they also cemented his hatred for Albus Dumbledore and any magical who lowered themselves to consort with filthy Muggles.

Lord Voldemort rose where Tom Riddle ended, and he swore he would cleanse the magical world of such undeserving filth and if those filthy Muggle-lovers thought a baby could defeat him, he would most assuredly prove them wrong.

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...and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not...

Harry Potter would grow up unwanted and barely tolerated, but protected. That was enough reason for the venerable old man with the strange robes and the long beard to stand his ground in the face of his friend and colleague's concerns over the people who would wake up to find the orphaned toddler on their doorstep.

Though his heart was heavy, the great man who had defeated Grindelwald did what he felt was right and just for the orphaned lad.

For the man was convinced that young Harry had heartbreaking and terrible fate ahead of him. Albus knew that the lad must be molded and shaped correctly, lest the tragedy that was Tom Riddle's descent into the depths of the darkest, most evil magicks imaginable be repeated.

The lad came from good stock, though, unlike young Tom. Therefore Albus felt that young Harry- who had been saved by his mother's love, whereas Tom had never known his mother or love- would make the right choice when the time came.

It was all for the greater good, after all.

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..and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives...

Voldemort hadn't been known as one of the greatest wizards in the modern age without good reason and Peter Pettigrew had spent almost three years in the same dorm as James Potter's son.

Those facts changed everything.

When Harry Potter went to duel Voldemort in the Graveyard after the fiend's resurrection, Voldemort used a different wand.

This meant that the Priori Incantatem effect was never invoked, because Voldemort was not using the wand that contained the brother feather to the one in Harry's Holly wand.

Harry was still defiant in the face of death, still borrowed courage in the face of his fears- he was still a bloody Gryffindor.

In the end, however, Harry was just a fourteen-year-old fighting against a man old enough to be his great-grandfather.

Harry Potter died at the age of fourteen in a graveyard in Little Hangleton.

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...the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies...

Since his 'death' nearly four years ago, Harry had learned a lot of things.

Things he learned at Voldemort's side- as he couldn't move very far from the man- and a few things from when his spirit was pulled to one of the other horcrux locations.

Harry Potter watched the 'final' battle unfold with weary, jaded eyes.

As he was anchored to the mortal plane through the blood Voldemort stole from him during the snake-like man's resurrection party, and was unable to interfere or even be seen by anyone.

Trust him, he had tried.

Now, as he watched the forces that were comprised of his old friends and mentors, battling it out at the edge of the Wards of Hogwarts, he was not sure what to feel.

After his 'death' Albus- the man did not deserve the title of 'Professor' in Harry's mind, not anymore- had quickly rallied his Order of the Phoenix and had nearly immediately started cultivating Neville Longbottom to take the fallen Potter's place as 'savior'. Eventually, Harry's friends had rallied around Neville, pushing the shy, clumsy boy to the forefront of the fight against his will, and Harry had barely been a memory as the war heated up.

Harry really did not have a whole lot of respect for the Order, not really.

The teenaged spirit had witnessed the atrocities that those the Order refused to do more than stun and turn over to the Ministry had then gone out to commit. Harry watched as the 'misguided children' went out and they raped, tortured, and killed for pleasure after their release or escape.

Harry's heart hurt as he thought of how so many lives could have been spared had the terrorists been crippled or killed- or even just effectively dealt with back when they were still children. Before they became monsters-in-training and forsook all manner of reason and decency or morality.

It would have been a mercy to their victims, if nothing else. Most of whom could not even defend themselves due to age or being nonmagical.

Harry's spirit had been there when Albus had bantered with Tom during one of their clashes, and he had witnessed the venerable man that Harry had trusted all but admit that he had raised Harry as a lamb to be slaughtered.

Oh, the Headmaster had not always known of the horcruxes- or that Harry had most likely been one- but the Headmaster had always suspected that Harry would have to pay a high cost in return for utilizing the 'power the Dark Lord knows not'.

The blatant evidence of such an crushing betrayal had stripped away the last of the innocence that Harry had tried to view the world with, and suddenly so many things made sense and it had made him heartsick.

Harry had spent the next months trying to learn as much as possible from Tom, rifling through his mind- being dead and connected to the man was bound to have some sort of perk- and delving deeper and deeper into the dark as he tried to find a way to be free.

A way to be away from the screams and the lies and the puppet masters.

Turning back to the present, Harry helplessly watched as Neville fell and bore witness to the despair that swept through the ranks of the Light-minded fighters.

Honestly, Harry kind of wanted to laugh at their faces.

They always were looking for someone else to fight their battles, weren't they? Harry thought scathingly as he watched the unholy glee that spread over Voldemort's face as the Light-minded fighters began to falter and the stalemate that the forces had been locked in for the past few hours began to turn in the Dark side's favor.

Then Harry felt the last horcrux as it was destroyed- it always felt a bit unpleasant and Tom always became extremely angry- and suddenly Harry knew.

He- Harry- was what was keeping Tom anchored. His connection to the man through the bond of blood that had been forged through the despicable actions of the traitor Wormtail was what was keeping Tom alive. It would continue to do so, he realized suddenly, years of information and rifling through Tom's memories finally coalescing and casting light on the crux of the issue; until Harry- the true owner of the Cloak of Invisibility, called for Death to come and claim him.

The power the Dark Lord knows not, huh? Harry thought, a melancholic sadness running through him as he steeled his resolve and forcibly embraced all the anger, sadness and betrayal that he felt towards the world and the magical world especially. Closing his luminescent eyes as he dug through all the emotions that had burned so fiercely these past few years, Harry prayed.

His prayers grew more desperate as the anger and bitterness and fear of the unknown swelled within him, eclipsing the love and compassion and kindheartedness he felt for his former friends and their allies as the dark, seductive whispers of vengeful wrath tried to sink its claws into him.

You could live forever. It whispered gently as it threaded through his soul and tried to ensnare his mind. You have the power. The knowledge. The right. You could make them all bleed and beg and scream for mercy from your place above them. What do you owe them? What did they ever do for you? Don't you deserve a chance at happiness and life? You know how they betrayed you, so why do you want to die for them? They won't even know of your sacrifice! Do you think yourself so perfect, so noble that you-

Harry was on his knees, ignoring the war raging all around him as he desperately prayed that he would somehow find the strength to follow through with his plan when the faded memory of a red-haired woman flitted through his mind's eye.

(You are so loved Harry. So very, very loved. Mummy loves you, Dada loves. You are so, so loved, baby.)

I choose death. Harry thought as his eyes anpped open and he gazed out unseeingly over the field of fighters. Harry held firmly to the faded memory of his mother's voice as he slowly climbed to his feet and forced his mouth to move.

"Death, can you hear me?"

Then there was a tall Being clothed in black and swathed in living shadows before him.

Harry smiled then, strangely bright and warm and breathtaking despite all the bitterness and anger that brewed within his soul.

Harry reached his shimmering hand towards the Being that had appeared before him. "It's good to see you, My Friend. Let's walk together." He said, strangely breathless and calm as the maelstrom of emotion faded into serenity.

As his hand made contact with the Being's the world exploded into a sea and sky of light and color.

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At the darkest moment of the battle, a brilliant light flared.

For the briefest of moments the visage of a teenager with dark messy hair, glasses, and a dirtied Hogwarts uniform appeared beside the Dark Lord.

Then the sky broke and when the fighters could see once again, both of them were gone. Shortly thereafter, the Dark Mark disappeared from the Death Eaters, but at great personal cost to the followers of the Dark Lord Voldemort.

Sirius Black, whose name was cleared in the aftermath of the war, maintained that it was the ghostly visage of his Godson who ended Voldemort until the end of his days.

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Death carefully turned the bright souls over in his hands, somewhat reluctant to let them go.

It truly would be a shame, the Being mused, to not give the souls who had suffered so much with so little reward a chance at life.

Both souls had held power and talent and had still chosen humility, and the Creator allowed Death some leeway in cases such as this.

Hmmm, but where to send them?

Ah.

Perfect.

A flick of bone white hands, a thread of will imposed onto reality, and the Being was alone.

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The Great Toad Sage shifted as a chill swept through him.

Sharp and bitter and weary, but not evil.

Milky eyes stared into the sacred waters of Mount Myoboku and as he gazed into their reawakened depths, the Great Toad Sage smiled.

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