Disclaimer: The HP Universe belongs to Miss J.K Rowling, I don't – AT ALLChapter Twenty
What Was Around The Corner
'So now you got me out….' Harry began to say as he stepped outside the door.
He felt it push gently behind him as it clicked shut, and the rest of the sentence melted away at his lips.
The figure had vanished.
There was no one here.
His eyes flickered around, taking in his surroundings. He was standing in an alleyway, just as he had expected. It was a narrow and confining walkway, stretching thinly into the distance before turning left around a remote corner. The open sky was an infinite murky ceiling, covering its length.
'Where are you?' he asked.
He took one step forward and called out the beckoner's name.
The dark bricked walls closed in on either side as he began to advance.
He called out the name again and frowned.
What was going on? Why was he not being answered?
He stopped and stood still as he called out the name for the third time. He listened carefully but again there was no reply.
He walked a few more steps ahead.
He would call one final time and if no one answered, then he'd go back inside.
'Are you still here?' he asked the dark lane.' Because if you don't say anything, I'm going to go back in…' he took a deep breath and listened for any movement or sound.
He wasn't alone. He could sense it.
It was a faint reply and seemed to be coming from further up.
From around the corner.
He wet his lips and tread carefully as he took a few more steps away from the door.
He could smell the dampened walls, and the cobble-stoned ground crunched with a slightly gritty sound under the soles of his shoes. The rain continued to trickle down insistently and he could feel the raindrops whisper against his skin and hair.
'Why did you go down so far?' he asked in a louder voice as he walked on.
'Because we were too near the door,' came the faint reply again.
'Ok,' he said.
His heart suddenly fluttered in his rib cage and he stopped again. He was about half way down the alley.
' Why don't you come out here now, so I can see you at least, we're not that close to the door.'
He heard the words he was saying and cursed himself for the unexpected attack of nerves.
You're being silly. Just go ahead and walk up, and see what was going on.
But something was holding him back.
Something didn't feel right.
'No Harry, you come here. I'm not that much farther," was the response.
Harry felt his skin prickle.
'Please?' the voice added as an after thought.
He was nearing the voice. He didn't have far to go.
Not far at all.
He could actually feel the presence gravitating towards him. Feel the person just around the corner. Feel it just like when you approach a room where the TV is on standby. That electrical charge that ripples through the air and travels to you and about you. You can feel it.
'Harry…' the voice called him.
He instinctively reached for his wand and muttered under his breath, taking a tentative footstep forward. He couldn't shake off the uneasy feeling that was plaguing him.
He walked a few more hesitant steps. The alley seemed to grow darker, as if he were approaching the depths of a cave, leaving behind the light of the entrance.
He was getting closer…
Turn back. Something is not right here, turn back…
'Harry, please, come here. What are you doing?'
The actions were strange, but the voice, well… Harry knew that voice, knew it as well as he knew the face he had seen through the alley door window. His logical mind fought with his gut instinct. He had his wand. He could defend himself if he needed to.
Just go and see.
He looked over his shoulder again.
The door was falling further and further away from him. He was walking away from it. Away from all those people in the pub.
He was nearing the corner.
It was just there…
He could feel his heart start to accelerate and gripped his hand tighter around his wand.
He gritted his teeth, go back Harry.
But he couldn't go back, he was so close.
He inched further, hardly edging a foot ahead of him. He felt jittery, like a hand was gripping his heart and dragging it down towards his stomach.
Stop being stupid, just walk.… but he suddenly didn't want to.
'Harry…' the voice called out softly.
He froze as fear enveloped him.
His feet felt leaden as if they had been glued to the spot. He found himself not being able to move, neither forward nor backwards; trapped within the confines of the narrow alley and his own overwhelming dread.
What was wrong with him?
The air was growing heavy around him and he felt a cold sweat break out on his forehead.
'Harry?' the voice questioned and he stayed silent.
He didn't want to reply. He was almost afraid to speak for fear of disturbing the space around him. He stood still, not moving, hardly breathing. Every fibre of his body was telling him that something was very wrong. And now he couldn't move.
He was gripped by fear and tried to tell himself that it was unfounded and irrational. He took another deep breath and lifted his wand a little higher.
His feet dragged heavily with another step forward.
The short distance to the corner was taking him an age.
He didn't want to reach it… he didn't want to see what was there…
Just go would you.
He squeezed his eyes shut and took a few long strides and walked around the corner...
He opened them slowly, squinting against his vision - fearful of what he might see.
His eyes snapped fully open and he looked around.
There was nothing there.
Just another narrow alleyway.
His breath suspended somewhere between his lungs and his throat.
There was no one here.
Oh my god…
He suddenly felt it.
The tidal wave of danger looming over him. The walls pulsed and rippled as the torrent surged past them and towards him. It was gathering force and he could feel it.
It was coming closer… it was coming closer…
He turned around.
His scream had barely left his mouth before it became a stunned cry of agony. His body recoiled with the impact.
He felt it go in, he felt it sink in.
His lips opened to yell out another shout of pain, but a hand clamped over his mouth, muffling his tormented cries.
He was shoved back against the wall and his wand slipped from his fingers.
His eyes widened in horror as he found himself looking into a crimson glare. A bright red glow. He tried to twist his head violently to rid himself of the hand over his mouth. But his struggling only increased the pressure and his glasses were knocked off of his face. He heard them clatter to the ground as everything went blurry. The brick wall opposite him lost its hard edges, becoming indistinct and vague. Everything went hazy, all except the figure in front of him.
It was too close, horrifyingly close. He could see it too clearly. This could not be happening. It wasn't possible.
But it was.
His stomach stung painfully as if a white-hot rod had been pushed into him. He brought up his hands and tried to kick out with his legs, when he froze in agony. He was burning inside. His screams thrashed wildly in his mouth; unable to escape from under the palm that was suffocating him.
His wand…. He couldn't reach his wand. It was on the ground. He couldn't reach it.
'Now, now Harry. Settle down,' the cold voice whispered. The palm left him momentarily and he gasped for breath.
He felt a wand tap his arms and drop lower. Words were spoken but he wasn't listening. He could not focus. He couldn't think at all. Shooting pains like knives stabbed his head. He opened his mouth to scream but the hand stifled his cries once again.
'Scream into my hand Harry. Scream as loud as you can for there is no help to be had.'
He was in so much pain.
He saw a glint of steel as he felt it dig in deeper.
A cold sensation seeped into his arms and legs and within seconds his limbs felt heavy and immovable. They were going numb as they hung uselessly from his agonized body.
More words fell around him but he was deaf to them. All he could hear was his frantic heartbeat and his blood rushing past his ears.
He stood mute against the tall, thin figure. The chalk-white face closed in on him. A black hood covered the top of its head, grotesquely contrasting with the colour of the face. The red eyes narrowed, tilting thinly upwards.
Harry's scar flamed upon his forehead.
'You took so long. One might begin to think that you didn't trust me. Who was I?' the voice said silkily.
The sickeningly white face came within inches of his own.
He had been so convinced it was… he had been so sure. He had walked to his death so willingly. Following the face and the voice…
What did it matter now? It had been a trap and he had walked into it again. Voldemort had lured him in and he couldn't get away, he was helpless. What could he do?
He was going to die.
The double-edged blade continued to press into him. Tearing through skin and flesh, paving the way for more steel. Harry could feel it creep inside him bit by bit and he was in agony.
'This will hurt. It will hurt so much you will beg me for death,' Voldemort hissed in cruel amusement. 'Though the bearded fool did say that there are things much worse than death. I guess you'll find out won't you Harry? Once you are dead you will be able to reflect upon whether it is true or not.'
The sharp end drove in deeper and he felt his blood stream out against his skin.
He saw the glimmer of silver as Voldemort's spidery hands gripped the handle. The blood was oozing out of him and coating the blade with a scarlet sheen.
He could hardly breath and the cold palm crushed his lips as Voldemort pushed back against him for more leverage as he drove into Harry with his other hand.
Blackness encroached his vision and he was starting to fade. The pain was beginning to numb too. He felt the hand move away and he felt so weak. He had no voice left.
He was fading..
He saw the gaping slash in front of him open and close and let out words as his vision blurred further. His head lolled to the side and he breathed shallowly.
He didn't understand the words. They were fragments, 'Minuom. Inquam cum fluotis…' They didn't make sense. 'Sanguit fluit ex oris. Minuom.'
The only realisation he had was that he was going to die. Maybe he deserved to die if he had made it that easy for Voldemort. He hadn't been able to save Sirius or Cedric and would now die himself without any fight. No fight at all.
He felt the thin fingers press against his mouth again. The sensation of hot oil being poured into his abdomen drowned his senses completely. A small whimper broke out in his throat.
The blade was slick with his blood and the flames were still licking his insides with long tongues of intense heat.
Harry began to slip away….
It was becoming black…
'Respiravit,' Voldemort hissed and Harry regained full consciousness, reliving the pain fresh as if he were being skewered again.
He sucked in a tortured breath and his scream splintered into the hand. The pain began to gather in strength.
'It won't do Harry,' he said softly,' for you to sleep now. Not now.'
The lipless mouth appeared as a black line that was now twisted cruelly upwards. Harry felt his lacerated stomach lurch with contradicting emotions of severe pain and joy as his scar throbbed.
'Ask me for death, I'll give it you. You want to die, I know you do. Dumbledore couldn't even fulfil that request for you could he? He wanted you to go through this. He always wants you to go through these things. I think he believes it builds character. How strong are you Harry? Why don't you show me?'
The steel was vanishing into him and he kept fading only to be brought back to full awareness, being forced to go through the pain from the beginning again.
It wasn't possible to go through so much agony and live.
Yet he was.
The torture went on and on.
He couldn't tell for how long.
Time had lost all meaning.
The pain was excruciating…
He could feel the wall against his back, the sword as it tore its way in further, the hand that was crushing his mouth. Unbearable pain.
' I had wondered if you were able to increase your resistance to our little connection. It seems that you have indeed succeeded. I won't bother asking how, but only that you are still quite predictable. It was only a matter of time until we would meet again.'
Harry screwed his eyes tighter against the onslaught mauling his body. He had become good at Occlumency hadn't he? The headache he'd had earlier was the result of its dulling affect to the connection. Strange how ''blocking his mind'' had worked against him in the end. The irony might have made him smile had he not been dying.
He wouldn't see Ron and Hermione ever again. They had gone hadn't they? They couldn't help him. He wouldn't see them again. Draco… he was going to die. He hadn't had the chance to…
He could see the shadows swirling like mist in front of his eyes.
'Beg for your death and I might reconsider… beg. Ask to live. I'm sure that is what your parents would want you to do.'
Voldemort removed his hand briefly and Harry felt anger and hate loom in his chest.
'NEVER,' he spat out with the last dredges of strength he could muster.
He would rather die than do that. This monster had killed his parents, he would never ask him of anything. He would never beg for his life.
'FOOL,' the red eyes narrowed venomously and Harry felt the sword drive into him to the hilt, slicing through his torso and out of his back. The force of the blow was of such magnitude that he heard the sword crack the bricks behind him as it pierced through the wall. The guard was the only thing preventing the handle from fully embedding within him.
His scream ripped out of his throat, dying against the hand. He writhed uselessly as he was impaled onto the wall behind him.
'Qui agnoscit mortem, cognoscit artem. Do you know what that means Harry?'
He couldn't possibly live through this. Why wasn't he dying? He must die now. The pain had to stop. It was all right. He wanted to die now. He would see Sirius and his parents. Luna had said so. He would. He would be with them. Away from here. Away from the pain and the horror.
He had thought that the Cruciatus curse was the worst physical pain he had ever felt. But this was worse. So much more worse. The blade seemed to have become molten inside of him. He was helpless against the overwhelming agony. He couldn't move, he couldn't escape. He could do nothing but breath through every second of what was left of his life.
He tried to picture himself somewhere else. Make his last images of something other than this.
He'd always imagined that he would be killed quickly by a curse. That Voldemort would just point his wand at him and he would be dead. But he had never imagined this. He had never imagined the terror of being speared by a sword in Voldemort's hands.
He could feel every tear, every rip.
It seemed that he was being pushed into the wall as the blade smouldered with the heat of Voldemort's malice.
It would cool down and the blackness would coat his eyes once again.
The pain came back ten-fold and he sucked in what breath he could. I have to die. He could not take it any more.
His skin felt sticky under his clothes. Wet. He was going into shock as the blood continued to surge out of him.
'Well it seems that we have been here long enough, you and I. But who will come to your aid I wonder?'
Nobody, Harry thought hazily. No one had seen him leave. He didn't think anyone had noticed and all this time no one had come looking for him. They certainly wouldn't think of coming to look for him here. No one knew he was here and he would die alone.
He closed his eyes as his head fell back against the wall. Voldemort lifted his hand away for a second.
'Where did your voice go Harry?' he asked softly.
He had no voice left. He couldn't speak. He felt so weak and drained, if not for the sword pinning him against the wall, he would have slumped onto the ground.
'We need a witness…' Voldemort continued, his eyes glowing crimson. 'A little display of light perhaps. How long do you think it will take for someone to notice?'
But Harry didn't care. He was dead anyway. Someone would eventually find his body but he would be dead. He had not rid the world of this evil. He was going to die to it. What was going to happen to the Wizarding world? Who would kill this monster? But there was nothing he could do now. He was gong to die and that was okay, he had asked for death in his mind, for the pain to end…
The inky blackness seeped before his eyes and he welcomed the dark.
He was drifting again and Voldemort did not attempt to revive him once more.
Draco looked at his watch agitatedly. It was nearly four thirty. He tied his cloak tighter under his neck. The small raindrops that had fallen on him on the walk down, had managed to sneakily soak him quite thoroughly.
He could dry himself later.
He had to find Harry first.
He passed the railroad tracks and came onto the high street.
His first instinct was to go into the Three Broomsticks. That was where he expected most of the students to congregate on a rainy afternoon.
As he approached the door, he saw faint blue sparks in the sky behind the pub. Not paying them any attention he opened the door and went inside.
It was packed with people and Draco ran an anxious eye over the room. There was the female weasel, Thomas, and Longbottom.
Where was Harry? He had to be here somewhere.
Draco pushed his way past several people.
'Draco! Over here…' he heard someone call. But it wasn't Harry so he didn't stop.
Where are you?
He's probably gone into one of the shops, Draco thought, and made his way to the bar, searching over it to the other side just to make sure that Harry wasn't there.
He stood on his toes and lifted his head higher, peering over people's heads for a sign of jet-black hair.
He went to the left hand side of the bar and ran a hand through his wet hair, when a faint flickering light caught his eye. It was coming from behind a window on the door next to the bar. It looked like someone was doing fireworks or sparklers and the light was bouncing against the glass.
Draco suddenly felt his stomach plummet. His heart started to beat faster and he impulsively walked towards the door. He could feel it pulling him.
He pushed it open and found himself in an alleyway. The blue light was coming from further down, from around the corner.
Draco felt his mouth go dry.
'Harry?' he called out.
He didn't wait for a reply and started to run down the path, his feet pounding swiftly on the ground.
'Harry? Are you here?'
There was a rustling sound and Draco halted and rounded the bend.
In a split second his eyes took in the horror before him.
Harry was against the wall; there were dark red stains on his jumper and a sword handle protruding from his abdomen. A black-cloaked figure whispered, ' a witness.'
Red eyes glowed in a white face and the figure stepped back.
' Eruo Gladuim,' and the sword shot out into long, spidery fingers. Harry's body jerked forward and blood spurted out like a tip of a fountain before it streamed downwards.
'NO,' Draco screamed.
Harry was sinking to the ground; a glistening red trail decorating the brick wall as he slid down like a limp doll.
Draco rushed forward hearing a popping sound as he gathered Harry into his arms.
Sheer blind panic overtook him as he held Harry's body close.
'HARRY,' he cried out petrified.
My god THINK, THINK.
He's hurt, he's hurt bad.
Draco desperately tried to get his thoughts in order.
OH MY GOD.
He drew out his wand and threw red sparks into the air and down the alley, praying that they would hit against the door.
He projected his voice loudly and yelled,' HELP ME! PLEASE SOMEONE COME QUICKLY. HELP!'
His shout lingered in the air and echoed all around.
He looked down at Harry. He was so still. His eyes were closed and there was so much blood. Draco quickly bent his head over Harry's face. He was still breathing, he felt for a pulse. It was there, but faint and thready.
He lifted Harry's jumper and gasped.
There was so much blood.
A trickle of red appeared from the corner of Harry's mouth and snaked down.
He had to stop the bleeding.
He took a deep breath and desperate tears clouded his vision. What had he learnt about healing spells from his relatives? One summer in France, his aunt had taught him.
'Abstergo Depurgit,' he choked out, hoping to clear away some of the blood so he could see the lesion more plainly. It worked.
'Medicorom,' he hovered his wand over Harry's torso. It did not begin to close the severe wound but it did seem to slow down the flow of blood.
He shot more red sparks and shouted again for help. He unhooked Harry's cloak and loosened his tie and collar. He hastily tugged off his own cloak and pressed it into the wound.
'Harry, please hold on, please.'
He was doing something wrong, he should be doing more to help…what?
What was taking them so long?
Harry, oh god, how could this have happened? It was him. Draco knew it. It was him. But how had he baited Harry out here? How? A sword… Why a sword? Draco couldn't focus his panic-stricken brain. What had stopped him from killing Harry with Avada Kedavra? Why a sword? Because he had wanted to inflict as much pain as possible that's why. The two killing words would have been too merciful for him, he had wanted to ensure that Harry went through as much pain as could be humanly inflicted. To be stabbed to death by a sword…to be impaled on one…
He wanted people to know that it was him. Wanted people to know that he had managed to…wanted people to see what he had done to Harry.
Draco could not begin to understand such hatred and evil.
The agony Harry must have gone through. Draco's body trembled with grief as he cried at the thought.
There was so much blood.
Draco's hands were sliding in it as he held onto Harry.
'Harry, please open your eyes, please. Oh god, please. I love you, I love you, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry,' he sobbed.
As if ''I love you'' would magically heal him. As if ''I love you'' would make any difference at all now. As if ''I love you'' would open Harry's eyes…
What was taking them so LONG?
He was filled with terror, regret, and paralysing fear that shook his hands as he clung onto Harry tightly.
'PLEASE SOMEONE HELP!'
It had probably been under two minutes since he had called out for help, yet it seemed like forever until he heard several footsteps running in his direction.
'He needs a healer, please. He needs to get to a hospital,' he yelled out before the persons became visible.
He heard more footsteps.
'We've got help, ' he whispered.
Harry's face shone with a ghostly pallor. His glasses…his glasses must have fallen. Where were they?
Hold on please. Please dear lord let him be okay, Draco prayed. Please, please. I got here too late. I'm sorry my darling. I'm sorry.
'Harry,' he wept. His tears leaked out of his eyes and were falling down his face as he felt his heart breaking.' Please,' he cried.
Hold on, I beg you. You can't leave me. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Don't take him away from me please. I'm sorry, don't punish him please.
As if his pleas would make a difference.
His tears were spilling over and he couldn't see straight, he couldn't think straight. Harry. It seemed so selfish to ask Harry to hold on with all that pain.
But I need you. You have to be okay; there's so much we have to do… I need to tell you…please oh god. Don't go, don't go. Just a little bit longer, they'll help you. I love you.
'Good heavens,' he heard a sharp intake of breath.
'It's Harry Potter,' said another horror-stricken voice.
'Please he needs help,' Draco cried out.
'It's all right son, someone is coming. We'll get him out of here.'
'Let me take a look at him.'
Draco loosened his grip on Harry and cradled his head in his lap as a man moved away the cloak and looked at Harry's wound.
'He's bleeding very badly. It was a sword. I saw it,' Draco said in a low voice. 'He needs help,' he repeated dumbly.
He watched as several people came forward, each trying to assist with healing spells.
Madam Rosmerta's husband came rushing out. He ran towards the small crowd in the alley and made his way to the front. He recognised Harry straight away. The boy's eyes were shut and his clothes were drenched with blood. Another boy, his blond head lowered over Harry's body, drew deep shuddering breaths as he held Harry in his arms.
'Harry please,' the blond boy sobbed. Madam Rosmerta's husband went closer. Several Aurors had run towards the commotion. They had been patrolling Hogsmeade since last summer and had heard the cries for help. However, it looked like they were too late to save the Potter boy. From the fear he could read in the eyes of the Aurors, it seemed as if they all shared the same sentiment.
Draco looked up and saw the pitying and shocked looks on their faces. He looked at the bleeding figure that lay in his arms. They thought Harry was…
'He isn't,' he shouted out, crying hysterically. 'He's alive, he's breathing. He'll be fine.'
They were trying to help but the blood continued to spread and soak into Harry and Draco's clothes. The blood on the wall shimmered mockingly as its path continued to seep down onto the ground.
The starting point; a cracked brick coated with blood.
And Harry's was running out.
Harry had lost too much blood.
Draco had never felt so helpless in all of his existence. The most beautiful thing in his life was slipping away from him and he couldn't do a thing to stop it. A montage of thoughts relayed in his mind in quick succession.
There was so much that he hadn't yet discovered.
I'll never get the chance to now…
Kisses. Our last kisses. Just want to remember the last time.
I wasted all his breath by words, by shouting. I didn't keep anything of his inside of me.
It all escaped out of my mouth, I let it go, I let it all go…
Please Harry I need you back.
Take me for I am yours.
Draco wept silently, every second precious, every moment crucial.
Harry had to be all right. He had to. Because…
He just had to.
Hate, black, bitter, pungent hatred gorged Draco's heart. The injustice of evil ravaging something so good and pure was devastating. That evil and darkness was in an instant daring to snatch away the best thing that had ever happened to him. That evil could steal away precious beings like that from the world was unjustifiable. That evil could consume and overtake and engulf…
It was wrong and that couldn't happen.
He was supposed to start living today. That was what was supposed to have happened. His life was going to start when Harry forgave him. That was the plan; he'd had a plan…
He'd planned it all out...his apology.
And he hadn't had the chance to say it yet...
He thought he had time, plenty of time to right his wrongs. We all think we have time, Draco thought as he watched numb with dread and shock; silent tears dripping down his face. But we don't. There is never enough time.
He stared fixedly at Harry's face as the rest of the background died away into colour and noise.
A petrifying sense of sheer hopelessness surmounted his mind. What if he didn't get any more time? What if time ran out? It was running out and he could feel uncontrollable hysteria constricting his throat. The unfairness left him breathless with sorrow and guilt and his tears burned hot paths down his skin.
He imagined Harry smiling not bleeding. He imagined Harry alive not dying.
I love you.
Draco lifted his eyes and looked at the sea of faces around him.
They still had that look on their faces. That time had indeed run out.
Harry Potter was dead.