Disclaimer: We do not own Harry Potter, nor are we making any money by doing this.
Summary: Harry Potter killed Lord Voldemort twenty years ago. Lord Voldemort killed Harry Potter twenty years ago. When two worlds collide, the last person they expected to meet may turn into an unexpected ally.
The street was dark and dingy, impervious to the holiday cheer that had infected the rest of the town. There were no wreaths or lanterns here, no sparkling Christmas lights; there were, in fact, no street lamps on this road at all. The houses seemed to creep up on each other in the darkness, a claustrophobic collection of shabby roofs and boarded up windows. No one had bothered to shovel the snow that had fallen across the pavement; it had been allowed instead to grow murky and brown from the passage of wheels and feet. Somewhere nearby, a dog was crying softly.
Half-hidden in the shadows between houses stood a man in a tattered winter coat. A scrawny fellow with beady eyes, he was muttering quietly to himself, stealing furtive glances up and down the dark street. A wand was clutched tightly in his right hand. Every few moments he would reach up with his left to touch it, as if to remind himself that it was still there.
Continuing to mutter, the man dug into the pocket of his coat and produced a cigarette. He fumbled with it for a moment in the cold, whispering muffled spells from where it dangled between trembling lips. The end glowed bright as he inhaled, a prick of orange in the darkness. His eyes fell shut, visibly relaxing as the smoke curled and spread across the icy air. The whimpering dog began to bark.
Suddenly, a jet of red light streaked across the way. The man's eyes flew open, cigarette flying from his fingers; his mouth had only just begun to form the counter-spell when the magic hit him square in the chest. He crumpled to the ground without a sound.
"Quiet! There may still be more."
The Aurors seemed to materialize out of thin air. Seven in all, they approached the unconscious body sprawled across the sidewalk in silence, wands aloft. A sandy-haired young man pressed the burning cigarette into the snow with his boot and laughed. "Fool didn't even see us coming."
"Davis! What did I just say?"
Davis seemed highly affronted. "I was only -"
His mouth fell shut when he saw the anger on his superior's face. "He didn't see us coming because we were silent. This is no time for games."
Davis bowed his head and muttered an apology.
Harry Potter passed a stern glance across the rest of them, as if daring them to make any more unnecessary noise. "All right. Williamson - I want you to take Goldstein and form a perimeter. Davis, you will wait here and watch this gentleman. The rest of us will be entering the building through the front door. If anything should go wrong, I want you to call for backup immediately - is that understood?"
The front gate was rusted, and it swung open with a creaking groan. As Senior Auror, Harry led the way down the path, the rear guard obliterating their footprints in the dirty snow. A muttered Lumos revealed an eviction notice which had been nailed to the door a year past. An obscene word had been sprayed in red across most of it, obscuring the name of the tenant.
Harry passed his wand over the door. A net of wards thrummed across its surface in response. He stepped aside; Auror Darby was expertly trained in this sort of magic.
It was only a matter of minutes before they were inside.
The air was clotted thick with dust and Dark magic, the hallway empty of furniture. Some of the floorboards, bare of carpet, seemed to be rotting through. By all appearances, no one else had set foot in this house for many months - but Harry's ear caught the low murmur of voices from a closed door at the end of the hall, chanting softly...
The aurors moved silently down the hall, wands raised. Harry looked at each of the wizards and witches behind him in turn, and when they had each nodded, he faced the door and raised three fingers. Three. The chanting began to swell, gathering tempo. Two. A woman's voice joined them in eerie dissonance, singing in a language Harry had never heard before.
The door crashed open with a BANG, and the aurors flew inside. Harry glimpsed a circle of kneeling men and women, their faces hidden beneath dark cloaks, disturbingly reminiscent of Voldemort's Death Eaters - and then he was dueling, deflecting a flurry of curses. A handful of them continued to chant, the woman's warbling voice reaching a desperate pitch - but Harry would worry about that in a moment. Right now, his team was outnumbered three-to-one - their source had grossly underestimated the numbers involved. But Harry was not daunted. They had been trained for much worse.
Upon later reflection, Harry would see that it was such arrogance that had caused everything to go wrong.
He had managed to incapacitate two of them - tied up back-to-back, ropes bundling them tight together on the floor - and was now battling down a third, more powerful wizard with cocksure ease. He was, in fact, just beginning to enjoy himself when one of the other aurors shouted his name.
Harry whirled around just in time to see an object hurtling toward him. He raised his wand to halt its flight, but his magic simply bounced right off of it. It was a book, Harry noticed detachedly - its pages flying everywhere as it arced toward him. Time seemed to ripple and warp as it approached, slowing down and jerking the room around him with unthinkable magic. Some gut instinct urged him to move away - to jump, to dive, to do anything at all - but instead, Harry, stupidly, reached out and caught it.
Time shuddered to a stop. For one strange moment, everything was silent and still.
The world burst apart in an explosion of blinding white light. Harry was sent spinning headlong down a narrowing white tunnel, faster than he had ever flown, rushing, spiraling forward - it was worse than Apparition, than the Cruciatus - he being stretched in a hundred different directions, pain beyond imagination -
And then he was spat out on a hard floor, spilling forward onto his knees. The cursed book flew out of his hands; it took all his effort to keep hold of his wand. Nausea briefly overwhelmed him, and Harry squeezed his eyes tightly shut, praying that he wouldn't be sick.
When it had passed, he opened his eyes and, slowly, rose to his feet.
It was dark: thick, impenetrable blackness without a single source of light to pierce it. Things whispered and rustled through damp, cloying heat. It reminded Harry of the greenhouse at Hogwarts where Professor Sprout had kept the tropical plants. Below the floor he could just make out the sound of water lapping against stone and, as Harry cautiously moved forward, he could feel the air around him heavy with steam.
Echoes of potent spellwork itched against his skin - uncomfortably familiar. This was an evil place, stained by eerily familiar magic. Whispers shivered through the darkness, and Harry had the strongest feeling that he ought to understand the soft susurrus of murmurs, but the words passed through him like mist. He flinched when a frond brushed his arm, confirming his original theory that he was in some sort of hothouse garden.
The blue glow of wandlight revealed dark stone and dense foliage. Snakes of every possible variety curled sleepily around a tangled canopy that almost obscured the high, vaulted ceiling above. A multitude of beady eyes turned to stare at the intruder who had disturbed them, hissing and spitting, their long tongues tasting his scent on the warm air.
"Welcome..." A voice called softly from behind him - a voice Harry would never forget - a voice he had thought dead and gone forever. High, silken, and impossibly cold, it was a voice that could only belong to one man.
Lord Voldemort stood amongst the plants, his narrowed, livid eyes and gaunt, serpentine face fixed on Harry, the pallor of him gleaming in the light of Harry's wand. "I shall be most interested in learning how you bypassed Lord Voldemort's wards," the Dark Lord hissed, circling Harry, wand twirling in his left hand. "But first, I would know the name of the assassin who has so unwisely violated my sanctum. I do not believe we have been..." the lipless mouth smiled wickedly, "...introduced?" It was the same vile, mocking politeness Harry remembered from the graveyard in Little Hangleton. Bow to death, Harry...
It was impossible. Voldemort was twenty years dead, by Harry's own hand. Yet here he stood, Dark magic pulsing in his aura, red eyes as cruel and terrible as they'd been that fateful day in the Great Hall. There was no doubt in Harry's mind that this person was truly Lord Voldemort... and there was also no doubt that the man standing before him was very much alive.
"Oh, I think we have." He followed Voldemort's movements step for step, heart pounding wildly in his chest; to let the Dark Lord out of his sight for even a moment, Harry knew, meant death. "Quite intimately, in fact."
"Indeed?" Voldemort loomed over him, the crimson eyes narrowing even further, squinting against the bright glow of Harry's wand. He tilted his head, looking the auror up and down. Harry fought not to shrink away. "There is something familiar about you..." The Dark Lord mused thoughtfully, almost to himself, as he continued to slowly pace. Beneath his long, black robes, white, sharp-clawed feet were just visible, their talons clicking loudly against the marble floor.
"As there should be," said Harry, his voice remarkably steady. "I did kill you, after all. Twenty years ago, if you've forgotten."
There it was: the mad ripple of chilly, high-pitched laughter which had haunted Harry's childhood dreams. Voldemort offered him a vicious smirk. "Do I appear dead to you, fool?"
Voldemort's snake-like profile, in fact, looked even less human than Harry remembered. Tom Riddle's long, elegant fingers had warped into something rigidly reptilian; instead of nails, his hands and feet ended in thick, curved claws. A narrow, circlet of silver was wrapped around his hairless head - a crown? Goblin-made, by the look of it.
"You've certainly looked better," Harry said coldly. "And considering the fact that I, you know, watched you die... I'd say it's not so unlikely."
The crimson eyes widened. "You dare mock your sovereign-?" Voldemort levelled his wand at Harry's head, reminding him of those final moments before Voldemort's death: all wild bluster and furious outrage. Harry's own holly wand swept up between them in response. He's mad, Harry thought, heart pounding. He's been locked up for twenty years in a tomb full of serpents, and now he thinks he's some kind of snake king.
Voldemort's wand briefly caught in Harry's own wandlight then, and all of Harry's panic was momentarily forgotten. For there were berries - elderberries - carved unmistakably into the wooden handle. There was only one wand in the world with such markings, and it had long ago been put to rest in its proper place, with its proper master.
Harry was overcome by a sudden rush of anger. "How did you get that? That's supposed to be back in Dumbledore's tomb! I put it there myself!"
"I took it from the old fool's corpse," Voldemort spat at Harry, clearly sensing weakness. The Dark Lord ran a possessive talon down the length of the elderwood, but then seemed to lose himself in caressing the wand, his slit-pupilled gaze becoming glassy and distant with reminiscence. "I confess, at first, it was a great disappointment to me. I could not understand why it seemed no more powerful than my yew wand of old." Voldemort continued to fondly twirl the Elder Wand with his grotesque, reptilian claws, his voice soft and silken - almost nostalgic. "But I was patient and, eventually, it yielded itself to Lord Voldemort, as he knew it must. All became clear after I killed the Malfoy boy and his traitorous parents... Ah, to think - for all those years - Dumbledore could only ever duel me to an impasse with such power at his command. Extraordinary."
Voldemort looked up at Harry. A smile curled his lipless mouth, but his red, gleaming eyes were blank of anything resembling happiness. "But we understand each other, the Deathstick and I. We both thrive on murder. Now tell me your name, my erstwhile intruder, and Lord Voldemort shall ignore your insolence and grant you a swift and painless death."
Harry laughed. He couldn't help it. The Elder Wand had only one master when Voldemort had died, and it had not been Malfoy, Dumbledore, or least of all Lord Voldemort. "You think you're going to kill me, Riddle?" Harry's voice was mocking. "You've never been able to kill me. I'm quite famous for it!"
"You dare use that-" Then Voldemort stopped, caught in recognition, his livid gaze moving carefully across Harry's changed features. The Dark Lord took an involuntary step back, and - for a moment - shock flitted across his mask-like face. "You!" The pronoun cut the air between them like a dagger. "What is this...?" Voldemort's soft, disbelieving hiss was almost fearful. "You are dead. I cut off your head and fed your body to Nagini..."
"You - what?" Harry took a step forward - suddenly encouraged by the snatch of fear he had caught in the crimson gaze. "No... I killed you - twenty years ago this May, during the Battle of Hogwarts! I buried you in the ground - I watched you die!"
The red eyes glowed like twin embers, their evil glitter seeming to stare into Harry's soul. The dark room swam in front of his eyes. Probing fingers glided across his mind, taking inventory of Harry's mental walls - and then he was assaulted with nightmarish images; flashes of the bloodied head of a boy with jet-black hair being jammed onto a spike tore at the edges of his mind...
And Harry, who had passed Occlumency with flying colors during his training, felt his mental shields begin to slip beneath the weight of his repulsion and terror. His instructors could have never prepared him for this - for the sight of his own head, dripping with blood from the flapping skin of his severed neck, eyes wide and empty - Ron lying lifeless and Hermione beside him, her bushy hair spread out against the rich carpet of Malfoy Manor, throat gushing blood, and Bellatrix Lestrange wiping clean a long, silver knife - the same knife that had killed Dobby. It was too much. Harry stumbled backward, struggling frantically, but the walls of his mind were ripping open, splitting at the seams, pried apart by Lord Voldemort's impossibly sharp claws -
- And he was racing through the chaos of the Battle of Hogwarts and saw Voldemort fall; it seemed to take an age for the tall figure to collapse, as the Elder Wand flew high, and the Dark Lord finally hit the ground with a dull thud. No one closed the red eyes. He lay there, staring vacantly up at the ceiling of the Great Hall, all but forgotten in those first few moments of utter relief -
Voldemort shrieked, a wail of horrified rage, as he staggered back from Harry, losing what scant colour remained in the shadows of his pale face. He tore from Harry's mind in a rush of pain, leaving Harry panting and clutching his head.
"I killed you," said Harry at last, breathless and triumphant. "Do you remember now? I killed you - so how are you here?"
"You are... are not lying..." Voldemort was shaking his head, still backing away. "I know... I always know... and yet how...?" He shrieked again, dark robes whirling. "You are a trick! An apparition sent to torment me!"
"And you're delusional!" Harry followed the Dark Lord's retreat with measured steps and an outstretched wand. "I'm not an apparition. I'm an auror. And I was on a case when I ended up here after touching - that." He gestured with his free hand toward the cursed book which lay open upon the marble floor. Its pages were curiously blank in Harry's wandlight. "It... must have been a Portkey."
"Of course," Voldemort said, regaining his composure and staring at Harry in wonder. "You are right."
Harry blinked. "I am?"
Voldemort pointed a claw at him triumphantly. "You are a delusion!"
"I'm not a delusion!" Harry snapped, losing his patience. "I'm not an apparition, I'm not a trick! I'm alive, and you're supposed to be dead, and I haven't the faintest idea of what's going on right now!"
"Dreadful apparition, why do you trouble me?'' Voldemort whispered.
"Got a guilty conscience, do you?"
The Dark Lord drew himself up to his full, imposing height, glaring down at Harry disdainfully. "I have never felt guilt in all my life. It is a limp, useless emotion invented by weaklings who cannot stomach their own actions."
The Dark Lord seemed to have withdrawn into himself, searching for the answer. "You have come to torment me with visions of my death. Yet, you will not find me so far gone as to be cowed by such things. Harry Potter is dead! Lord Voldemort has ruled this country for almost two decades!"
But then his voice grew hesitant, husky, and almost inaudible, "Even if my... my faculties are not... what they were, Lord Voldemort is still far more powerful than any wizard living... I am immortal...!" Drawing strength from his words, Voldemort met Harry's eyes again, declaiming wildly: "I shall rule forever and no night time delusion will stop me! Avaunt, figment! Cease this madness at once!"
Harry stared. He had been wracking his mind this entire time trying to figure out a way to safely incapacitate the Dark Lord so he could hand him over to the Dementors, once and for all… But he was starting to think that Voldemort would be better off in a bed at St. Mungo's than in Azkaban.
"Er… all right. You've caught me." Harry lifted both hands, as if in defeat - though his wand was still gripped tightly in his right hand. "But if you'd like me to, um, avaunt - you'll have to show me the way out. And then I'll never bother you again, I swear it." Voldemort had said, after all, that he'd left this place to go and steal the Elder Wand from Dumbledore's grave. If Harry could only get out of here, perhaps he could summon the rest of his team and they could deal with Voldemort from there.
But the Dark Lord gazed at Harry as though he had not understood a word he'd said. He ghosted closer, closer - until the pale claw of his right hand cautiously - experimentally - touched Harry's shoulder, almost as if Voldemort expected the gesture to go right through Harry's thick cloak.
Harry jerked back, as though he'd be scalded. The holly wand was suddenly between them again. Harry watched the Dark Lord carefully, but there was no trace of emotion in his expression. "Yes - er - nice and solid," Harry said, a little weakly. "You've got quite an imagination there."
The crimson eyes blinked down at him and then Voldemort looked away, towards the old book Harry had dropped, summoning it to his hand without even a flick of his wand. Harry could only watch, panic mounting, as Voldemort examined it methodically, taking care not to do further damage its already precarious leather spine. "This is quite clearly not a Portkey, even a misenchanted one. And you are clearly not a delusion, as you claim." Voldemort's voice was as level as the wand in his left hand. "Tell me, what were you doing with the remains of my old, school diary?"
"I…" Harry looked from Voldemort to the diary and back again. For a long moment, there was no sound in the dark room but the hissing of the many snakes, watching them avidly from the shadows.
And then Harry's wand cut through the air with a flash of red light: "Expelliarmus!"
But Voldemort was quicker, deftly performing the counterspell and vanishing with a crack to reappear behind Harry, a whirlwind of molten quicksilver streaming from his wand. Harry had just enough time to conjure a shield before it encased him - a sphere of shimmering liquid, its heat passing through Harry's magic and prickling his skin; a slash of Harry's wand and it erupted outward, showering the room in shining silver.
Harry's spell would have thrown a normal wizard off his feet, but Voldemort vanished again. The room was filled with the anguished hissing of serpents as their bower was brought crashing down by the force of the explosion. Voldemort's magic arced like brilliant lightning in the glittering darkness and the rain of silver turned to lines of blue fire that streaked murderously back toward Harry.
Swearing, Harry deflected one, two, three balls of blue fire before a whole cluster converged on him. Sweeping his wand to the ceiling, Harry froze them mid-trajectory, and then a blasting curse sent them zooming outward in all directions; a great hailstorm of ice.
It was then that Harry realised his error. He'd been so focused on defending himself from the fireballs that for, half a second, he'd forgotten about Voldemort. A jet of silver light was streaking fast through the darkness, and suddenly it was all Harry could see, and his wand arm was still raised toward the ceiling. Harry was blasted off his feet as it struck him in the ribs with the force of a truck. He hit the floor, gasping in pain, the air knocked out of his lungs by the sheer force of the Dark Lord's spell, which bound him in a web of shimmering silver.
In the absence of any light except that provided by the glittering net, all Harry could see were two red pinpricks, glowing faintly in the darkness. The air was thick with the sound of angry snakes. This was it. He had lost. "Now, Harry Potter, you shall-"
But Harry never did learn what Voldemort thought he would do, for at that moment, the world split open again with dazzling light, swallowing him. The last thing Harry saw was Lord Voldemort's face contorting with fury - and then he was
(propelled headfirst through blinding, blinding light, wind roaring in his ears, body twisted and seized by an invisible force as he fell and fell and fell and)
crashing through a door and stumbling into the room of a decaying Muggle house.
"Potter!" Ernest Darby cried, as Harry struggled with another bout of nausea on the splintered floorboards. "It's Potter! I've found him!"
Authors' Notes: "I did my waiting – 12 years of it!" Well it hasn't been quite that long, but it certainly feels that way! We are back and collaborating on some new (and old) projects about our two favorite wizards. Hope you enjoy.