AN: I am graduating tomorrow with a 4.0 in Art History and 3.9 overall! Most of me feels dead inside because I gave up my sanity for those grades but I am sure I will bounce back soon. After all, grad school awaits. So while I should be packing I thought I would write while my mood is still relatively somber.
Shout out to my best friend, James who asked; "In what scenario would Voldemort be redeemable? What if he really could feel remorse?"
And then I was like should I handle that question along with; is loved ones telling their son that death is Easier than Falling Asleep a morally acceptable thing?
To which this story arose to answer with: Yeah, that sounds about my speed."
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Dylan Thomas, 1914 - 1953.
Chapter 31 - Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light
The OWL exams were not difficult by any stretch of the imagination for Voldemort. In those two weeks, he helped Hermione study.
Voldemort found her fretting adorable, he knew she was prepared to pass her exams above and beyond those of her age.
He hated the fact that he found her… cute.
Cute, was not a word he thought he would ever use. He hated that he thought. In fact, he wanted to kill her for eliciting such feelings and thoughts from him. But then, Voldemort was up to ears in processing his kill list.
In his own head, killing and torture were a means to ends, people died, he was better than any of them, the world moved on. But in Harry's head… Harry didn't fully understand his own value but the concept of killing or torturing someone was abhorrent to the Boy Who Lived.
A fact that had begun to make itself known in Voldemort's dreams, or rather his nightmares.
An endless stream of faces, and bodies laid out before him and Voldemort cared. He had begun to think of each person, muggle or wizard, as an individual, with their own feelings.
Voldemort was afraid that if he didn't do something to blacken Harry's heart soon than the boy might be able to gain control again. Acquire control because Voldemort was sick with these emotions that hounded him night and day.
Sirius was deeply concerned about Harry, who was avoiding him like he had the plague. He would hardly ever make eye contact and Sirius was- Well, there were alarm bells going off.
That he seemed to be smitten with his best friend Hermione, who was mostly oblivious to Harry's growing feelings was also worrying.
On one hand, it wasn't all that uncommon for a teenager to fall in and out of love. On the other, if Harry was acting oddly because of Luna's condition then it made no sense that he would be following after Hermione like a lost puppy.
In fact, that Harry had not spent every night at Luna's side -for as long as Pomfrey would allow it, was concerning. Sirius knew what love looked like, and Harry loved Luna, deeply, with the same whole hearted manner that James had loved Lily. Everything about Harry's actions and reactions were just this side of believable. Sirius had the sinking suspicion that something was more wrong than he knew.
He had gone to Flitwick who had said that Harry hadn't laughed once since Luna was cursed and had been pouring himself into his work. But then Hermione wasn't in the same Charms class as Harry, so Flitwick might have been able to observe the oddest bits of Harry's behavior.
The same was true with Minerva which meant that Sirius had only two people to seek help from who knew Harry.
Naturally, Sirius went to see Hagrid first.
"He's been acting a bit odd, yeah," Hagrid said.
"So you noticed his thing for Hermione?" Sirius asked.
"'Arry has a crush on Hermione!?" Hagrid spluttered.
Sirius frowned at the big man, "You just said he was acting oddly."
"Yeah he has- But not, well, those three have always been close. I'd image with Harry being as hurt as he is 'bout Ms. Lovegood, 'Moine might be giving him a shoulder to cry on and all…"
Sirius ran a hand through his shoulder length curls, "What did you notice about Harry's behavior that was odd to you then?"
Hagrid's lips tightened, "Well I'm not really sure how to say this, but it hasn't been 'Arry who has been acting queerly, it's the animals, you see. Yeah, the creatures been responding strangely. Won't come near him and Harry hasn't been volunteering like he used. He had a natural gift for this class, and if he enjoyed it a bit more he could get a job working with magical creatures, but anyways, I've never seen creatures go so far out of their way to avoid a student before."
An idea was taking root in Sirius's mind, one he had no desire to acknowledge or consider the ramifications for. But that is what it meant to be a parent, to make the hard choices and put your child's needs and comfort above your wants.
"Thanks for your time, Hagrid," Sirius said.
"Anytime," Hagrid said with a smile, "hope I helped and hope 'Arry feels more himself soon."
With a shudder, Sirius turned and returned to the castle, going straight to the dungeons.
When Snape opened his office door the first thing Sirius said was, "Do you really think Voldemort can possess anyone?"
Snape sighed and stepped back to the let his nemesis in.
"What do you think his limits are?" Sirius pressed.
Snape sighed again, "We have no way of knowing."
Sirius's scrutinized the other wizard, "What the hell happened to you? You look like shit. Not that you had much to work with, to begin with."
Snape rolled his eyes and tapped a bottle on his desk. "I keep telling myself I'll stop, but it seems every other weekend or so I can't… I just- some things, old memories, you just want to forget."
Sirius's shoulders sagged, "I get that, but-" Sirius met Snape's onyx gaze, "What is Voldemort capable of? And I don't mean morally capable of, I mean what can he accomplish with this body jumping thing?"
"The Dark Lord is capable of much and can accomplish many things depending on his host. But you didn't come here to discuss the Dark Arts. What specifically are you here for?"
"Does Harry seem… off, to you?"
"Heartbreak is a lot to deal with for someone his age," Snape said, placidly.
Sirius shook his head, "What about his occlumency lessons? How have they been going?"
Snape was going to answer back with something snide, but froze. The memories, when asked so directly- "Those are usually the nights I drink."
"You make that sound like a question. How heavy have you been drinking?"
Snape just glared at him, "Get to your point, Black."
"I think- I mean what if," Sirius took in a deep breath, "What if Voldemort got to Harry?"
Snape's eyebrows shot up, "You think the Dark Lord is inside of Harry Potter, without any of us noticing something is wrong?"
"Something is wrong with him, and I could be wrong, but he doesn't exactly seem to be heartbroken about Luna."
"I have my last occlumency lesson with Harry tomorrow night," Snape said smoothly.
"So you do think it is possible! Do you want me to be there?" Sirius asked.
"Many things are possible and the Dark Lord is manipulative enough that given access to Harry's mind he might be able to pull it off, though it seems unlikely given how close he's been to the muggleborn girl, Granger of late."
"Yes, but Harry shouldn't be that close to her."
"I don't pretend to follow the dramas that take up a teenager's existence. As to your question before, we should plan to meet afterwards. If you are there and the Dark Lord is in residence, then we do not want to tip him off."
"And you think you'll be okay on your own with the 'Dark Lord'?" Sirius asked.
"Black, I have been in worse circumstances and I am a better liar than you have ever been."
"Snape," Sirius said in the same condescending tone, "I grew up in a home of Slytherins, and as Bella's cousin, I can tell you that underestimating any of them is a bad plan."
"Except, I am also a Slytherin."
"Really?" Sirius asked sarcastically, "You think that matters? You think you will not need any backup handling your Master when he is inhabiting the most powerful wizard of the rising generation who is also at the peak of his physical health?"
Snape snarled at him, "I am not going to fight the boy, I am just seeing if your accusation against him has any merit or if you're just bitter that he hasn't turned to you in his time of need."
"This isn't about me," Sirius growled.
"Isn't it? Harry's little girlfriend has been out of his life for months now and you seem to think it astounding that he is looking elsewhere."
"It isn't like that," Sirius said, angier for the rising doubts. "Look, I don't want Harry to be possessed, I just need to know that he is okay. I can't ignore the little signs. If I am wrong, good, and if I'm right than I could never forgive myself if I did nothing and kept my mouth shut."
Snape sighed, "I will meet with you after I've met with him. Now get out of my office."
Sirius left, slamming the door behind him. He was not going to be able to sleep tonight. He was glad he wouldn't have to teach tomorrow because of exams. Sirius paced the halls and found himself in the owlery.
Harry's owl, Hedwig flew down to him at once, nibbling on his ear, rubbing her head against his cheek.
"Hello, pretty girl, what do you think Harry is going through?"
She hooted mournfully.
Sirius found a ledge that was out of sight of the door and spent the night overlooking the Hogwarts grounds with the snowy owl.
When the sun rose Sirius spotted something on one of the lower roofs. "Hedwig?"
She opened her amber eyes and blinked at him, waiting.
Sirius pointed at the little rectangle, "Could you grab that for me?"
Hedwig gave a single hoot and glided down to grab what Sirius was able to make out as a book when she had brought it back. She settled back on her perch -which was Sirius's shoulder.
Pulling out his wand, he was able to reverse the water and other element damage done to the little paperback. Good as new, the cover of the book revealed its title.
"American Gods," Sirius read out loud, and he opened it to the cover page.
May a world of dreams help color your days as I aim to make your reality better than anything anyone could imagine.
If Sirius had needed proof -that he hadn't imagined the depths of what Harry felt for Luna, then he needed to look no further. James had been a terrible poet, but in their seventh year Sirius and Remus had been stunned by how sincere and genuine James's written words had become when he wrote to Lily.
Sirius had that same impression from reading Harry's letter to Luna.
After last period of the day on Friday. Final Exams finished.
The wind eventually won the tug-a-Luna contest. She was flung from the ocean, pulled into the skies. She was weightless and for a time she relaxed in the arms of a warm breeze which quickly became freezing and not relaxing at all when she began to think of the nightmare she was trapped in.
She tried to think past the roaring in her ears, the cold in her bones- tried to think of the past.
Luna looked around herself, spotting the rising moon, a solid thought formed in her mind.
"My name means moon," she whispered to the winds, which eased.
She needed to go home, where she was loved.
I love you, Luna Lovegood, forever and always.
"I love yo-" she tried to say but she couldn't remember the name or the person she had completed the words "Every bit of you," to. She couldn't remember who but she remembered how she felt. She reached out to the silver disk in the sky, "Help me!"
A white flash sparked, followed by a tiny silhouette that at every movement flashed silver. It was a bird, an owl, a snowy owl. The silver light was reflecting off her white feathers.
"Hedwig!" Luna cheered. The wind grew more gentle still and began to sing.
Feeling as though she could fly like in the play her mother had read her once, about a girl who had flown to a place called Neverland, Luna soared after Hedwig. Hedwig led the way back to the beach where Luna had spent a long time saving jellyfish, and back to a dark wood where the invisible creatures that she should have been able to see dwelt.
She saw their leathery wings first, and then there great skeletal heads with their opaque white eyes.
Luna could not understand herself, could not understand why she felt such affection for these creatures who could only be seen if she had seen someone die.
Her mother. The memory of her mother's death was not pleasant nor was the memory of the wreck her father had become directly afterward.
How could there possibly be anything good to come from such sorrow?
The wind sang through the trees and Luna found what she had lost.
Harry had followed her into a place that he had feared, for want of her company, he had followed her. Harry hadn't called her strange or belittled her or thought her perceptions simply an 'overactive imagination.' Harry Potter had taken her for who she was, taken the time to see the world as she saw it, trusting her judgment and challenging her without degrading her when his own instincts told him something different. He had walked with her, made her laugh, and held her when she needed not to be lonesome. He was impossibly real, her Harry.
She loved him and he loved her.
Forever and always.
Luna opened her eyes and sat up with a gasp. Her curse was broken and she didn't know how long she had been under but she knew, knew she needed to get to Harry now.
Voldemort walked sluggishly down to Severus's office. He felt so tired. The exams hadn't been tiring but the weight of nightmares and his growing feelings for his classmates had uprooted his sense of self.
Harry had remained deathly silent in his corner.
On the occasions that Voldemort poked at him, it was like poking a lead ball with a piece of paper. No response. Voldemort had tried to attack that little space in his mind and had been unable to penetrate Harry's mental walls. What had been Voldemort's prison for the boy had been taken over as the boy's personal fortress.
It worried Voldemort, but it was beginning to frustrate him more that Harry wasn't around to help him. None of Harry's new thoughts or emotions were at his disposal, which under the nose of Sirius Black had been a tricky thing.
Voldemort knocked on Severus's door, glad that this would be their last torture session. Truthfully, he wasn't even sure if he had it in him to torture the old bat today. His heart wasn't in it.
As per usual, Severus let him in and went back to his desk.
"Prepare yourself, Potter," Severus said.
Had Voldemort been paying closer attention, he would have seen the dark gleam in the other wizard's gaze.
But alas, it didn't matter much for Severus, as Voldemort drew his wand and flicked Severus's wand out of his hand.
Voldemort sent the man crashing back into the shelves, "You do look so astonished each time I do this." He sneered, "I mean, I know I keep whipping your memory but you think you would have caught onto something being out of place by now."
Voldemort drove his foot into the side of Severus's head, sending him crashing back to the ground, "Begging is done on your knees, swine."
"But how?" Severus asked, blood dripping from the corner of his mouth.
"Swallow the blood, I did not wish to clean up after you again, this night." Voldemort's anger rose and he was ecstatic at its arrival. Anger was an emotion that rightfully belonged to him and it made him feel larger than life.
The door crashed open behind them, the lock charm Voldemort had placed on the door irrelevant because there was no longer a door.
Voldemort spun, wand pointed-
He recoiled at the sight of the woman standing in there. Recoiled from the relief and joy he felt at seeing the pale-eyed beauty standing awake and unharmed before him.
Luna Lovegood did not recoil or hesitate, "Expelliarmus!"
The Holly Wand flew from his grasp into hers.
Voldemort's emerald green eyes widened and he cried, "No!" And summoning his strength, he made to attack her with a wandless blow of energy.
Severus Snape did not give him that chance, "Legilimens!"
Severus's consciousness entered Voldemort's mind and Harry uncurled from his harbor and struck out with such force, Severus was forced to retreat for a brief time. When Severus rejoined the battle of wills, he directed Harry in wrapping a barrier around Voldemort.
The three of them felt Luna grab Harry's hand and squeeze.
Harry's heart burst with a renewed sense of hope and purpose. Harry squeezed Voldemort into a metaphysical ball, Severus added his strength so that together, they began to suffocate not the air, but the life out of the Dark Lord.
Panicking, Voldemort flailed himself against thing encasing him like a large fish inside too small of a tank.
Harry, please, don't do this, Voldemort pleaded.
Harry ignored him.
Please, my friend, do not kill me.
We. Are. Not. Friends. With each word thought, Harry tightened his death grip.
But we could be so much, you and I. Please, there must be another w-
Severus slammed his magic down on the Dark Lord.
Please, Harry, forgive me for what I've done. I can change, you have shown me how to change.
Harry laughed, capable of change is not the same thing as changing.
For you, Voldemort said in a soft plea, I would, I will change for you.
You think I will forgive the person who murdered my parents?
I know you are capable of forgiving anyone, Voldemort said earnestly.
Even if I could forgive you, it doesn't matter. I could never trust you, Tom, I will never trust you. You have to be stopped.
In a sickly sweet whisper the Dark Lord asked, But what if by killing me, you kill yourself? Could you really take a hand in your own death, again?
Severus had heard their exchange and subconsciously loosened his grip.
Harry bore down harder, If I die, then this time, I will die fighting.
In a rush of blackness, what had remained of Tom Marvolo Riddle was snuffed out.