The Third Task
The Third Task
Just an FYI for some readers, I will not deviate from the story I am writing to suit you. Flame all you like but do so at your own peril because I will come back at you.
We have lost too many writers because of this and I for one am quite sick of it.
Constructive criticism is always welcome but not people being d! ks.
Anyway, for most of you, please do enjoy, review, follow and favourite.
This chapter is dedicated to a most excellent Pander x
He eyed the entrance to the maze in front of him, unnerved by how calm he felt. Again, the feeling that something impending was plaguing him and had been since he'd arrived at the stadium.
His glance shifted to the judges table where Percy Weasley sat in the seat usually occupied by Barty Crouch. The man had been taken ill and his assistant was filling in for him, the first turn of events that caused him concern. Were Crouch not so strait-laced, the concern he felt would be much deeper.
So dedicated and loyal was he to the Ministry that he'd even sentenced his own son to life in prison before promptly resigning from his position as Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and taken the reigns in his current role. Harry had learned of such when he had investigated Igor Karkaroff, the man that had openly declared the younger Crouch a Death Eater.
No, it merely had to be a coincidence that he had taken ill. The map had corroborated this, and that Percy Weasley was who he claimed to be. Harry had paid close attention to the redhead and had seen nothing to cause him suspicion. However, he was on high alert, remaining vigilant to anything that could pose a threat to him for the duration of the task, though he could not see how one could interfere without being detected.
In the maze, he would be alone with the other champions and whatever had been placed there under the supervision of the judges, none of whom he suspected of foul play.
Truly, he was at a loss and vowed to continue as he had planned. He would reach the cup first and proceed from there with caution. To what end? He knew not. He would cross that bridge when he came to it with all the care he could.
Finally, the claxon sounded and he entered the maze after giving a reassuring nod to Fleur who had been rather subdued. Because of her score, she would be the last to enter and had the lesser chance of emerging victorious. As far as he was concerned, the further away from the cup she was, the better.
"Remember, Harry, calmly and carefully," Tom reminded him.
He nodded his understanding. Tom appeared to be much more nervous than he or perhaps that he was finding it difficult to believe that he would be foolish enough to fall into any trap that may have been set for him. The words Tom had spoken to him made themselves known once more, however.
"Voldemort tends to get exactly what he wants, Harry. He is as resourceful and as cunning as they come. Never, ever forget that."
The words gave him pause as he lit the end of his wand and proceeded down the first row of the maze, his senses sharpened to the world around him that had fallen ominously silent. It mattered not to him. He had endured years of silence and darkness, so this was nothing disconcerting to him.
Rounding the first corner came to, he found himself facing two diverting paths, one to the left and one to the right.
"Point me," he muttered, utilising the useful spell Tom had taught him.
The wand spun in his hand before indicating the path on the right was the direction in which he would find the cup. Though it was not fool proof, it was better than guessing his way to the centre of the maze.
Carefully traversing the path in front of him, he frowned as the sound of scuttling could be heard from ahead. Only a moment later, an enormous armoured creature came into view. It appeared mostly to be a scorpion but there was something else mixed in with it.
Before he could ponder the species further, it turned to face him and was propelled in his direction with a loud bang, a jet of flame exploding from its' posterior.
His eyes widened as he deftly rolled to his right to avoid the large claws and clicking mandible. Whatever the beast was, it was determined to kill him, of that he had no doubt.
Pushing himself to his feet, he fired a cutting curse and frowned as it bounced off the armour. Once again, he had to take evasive action as it turned to face him and shot towards him.
"Bloody hell," he growled as he stood.
No longer willing to take any chances on a spell that could be useless, he fired another curse, this one aimed for a spot that was a weakness for all creatures, other than perhaps a basilisk.
A shriek of agony could be heard as it began to flail, now bereft of its' eyes, the organs having been eviscerated by his efforts. Seizing the advantage, he sent forth a stream of fire that engulfed the behemoth. The pained screeching increased and the unpleasant stench of burning filled his nose before silence reigned once more. Ending his spell, all that remained was a smoking husk and he could only shake his head. He took no pleasure in what he'd done, but in this situation, it was him or his foe.
"What on earth was that?"
"I do not know, Harry. It is not a creature I have seen nor heard of. Remain vigilant. We do not wish to be caught off guard by the unknown."
Harry nodded as he pressed forward, stepping around the smouldering remains and continuing on his path. He had heard no claxon but was aware that one or two other champions were now likely in the maze also after the distraction he had faced.
After a few moments of walking, he rounded another corner where two statues were seemingly standing guard. Knowing the danger such things posed, he kept his distance and assessed them.
Both were large, clad in armour of stone. One held a shield and sword, the other, a flail, the dangerous end resting on the floor.
He had experimented with such things during his own studies and knew them to be a threat. Only someone adept in transfiguration and charms would create something like this. He deduced that this was likely the work of either McGonagall or Flitwick and the thought did little to calm his nerves at facing them. Both were excellent and meticulous in animation.
Without the need of testing, he knew they would be resistant to magic, so blasting curses would do nothing, nor would any other curse for that matter. This was why they were an exceptionally useful tool for battle. Very little could break the magical combination imbued into them. There was, however, always a flaw and he grinned as he realised the one that was apparent.
Trying to pass them would be difficult in such a narrow space. He would likely be cleaved in two, or at the very least, be quite injured in the attempt. Thankfully, such a thing was not needed, and he began waving his wand and muttering under his breath.
As the effects of his spell began to show, the statues that had been dormant sprung into life and attempted to resist what it was he had done, but to no avail. Slowly but surely, they began to sink into the ground, the resistance they put up, futile against the pull of the mud beneath their feet. Still, they fought until they were submerged to the neck and Harry ended the spell, the ground solidifying around them, leaving only the stone heads visible.
"That was very well done, Harry," Tom praised.
Harry released a deep breath.
That could have proven to be truly dangerous had he not had the knowledge he did in transfiguration. Animated warriors were not something he wished to face in circumstances beyond this. They were notoriously difficult to dispatch of but were equally an excellent weapon should one have the time to create them. He had a few of his own guarding his house that were the labour of many days of trial and error on his part so he understood the boon they could offer.
Shaking his head of thoughts of the creations, he switched his focus back to the task at hand and proceeded, the need to reach the cup before the others starting to become more desperate with each hindrance.
Though his vigilance remained, his pace quickened as the path before him opened out once more into two diverting ones. Taking the left this time, he rounded another corner, only to be faced with an odd sight.
It was him, only younger. He was thin and sickly looking, his green eyes dull and devoid of happiness. The image caused a shiver to run down his spine as his younger self looked at him pitifully. He was cradling what was obviously a broken arm and the clothing he wore was oversized and torn, his t-shirt ripped in several places.
He swallowed deeply as his younger self turned away from him, revealing a bloodied back where he had evidently been struck repeatedly.
Harry remembered this well, remembered the way that Vernon's belt buckle tore into his flesh until he blacked out. He remembered waking up and being stuck to his mattress by the congealed blood and the Velcro-like sound it made when he pulled himself free. It was the lowest point of his life, the time he had been powerless to do anything.
"It is a Boggart, Harry," Tom interrupted gently. "It is no longer real. That is not what you are."
Harry nodded and wiped away the tears that had unwittingly formed before turning his wand on the creature.
"Ridikulus," he muttered.
He watched as the apparition shifted the resemble what he did now. Stood before him was a much healthier Harry, one that was not plagued with hopelessness but with determination and resolve. With another flick of his wand, the boggart was banished through the opposite hedge and he glanced around to ensure none had witnessed what had transpired.
Lupin had been mistaken during his third year in the belief that Voldemort would appear were he to face the creature. Undoubtedly, it would have been what he just saw. He did not fear Voldemort, nor the Dementors. What he feared was what he had once been; a lonely and helpless child with no means of escape from his misery.
Pushing the fear aside, he pressed on, the knowledge that the others were inside the maze spurring him forward with haste.
One of the champions was the next thing he was confronted with as he neared another path that split in two directions.
As he approached, Viktor Krum walked past in what appeared to be a dreamlike state, his wand held loosely at his side. Harry frowned as he passed and paid him no heed. The older boy could not have possibly missed his presence. Curiously, he followed and still Krum showed no awareness of him being close by. His seemingly leisured walk continued.
It was when the boy turned to head down another path that Harry caught a glimpse of the vacancy in his eyes and his chest tightened. Krum had either encountered something in the maze that had messed with his mind or he was under the Imperius Curse. Either one was not good for the Bulgarian or any other in the maze. Thinking quickly, Harry levelled his wand at him before firing a stunning spell.
Krum collapsed to the ground limply having offered no defence and Harry relieved him of his wand before firing off a stream of red sparks in the air with it.
Taking no chances, he pocketed to foreign wand and cast a repelling ward around the unconscious boy, hoping it would be enough to deter any wandering creatures away from him until help arrived.
He was not one to jump to conclusions, but all evidence suggested that he had been placed under the curse and that it was not the product of something that would be found within the maze. Very few witches or wizards were sufficiently versed in the mind arts to justify such a thing. They were a sacred branch of magic and practitioners would not use them lightly, not for something so trivial.
"I do not know what was hoped to be achieve by controlling him. I can only assume whomever it was would look to eliminate any competition you faced if their wish is for you to reach the cup first."
"Should I proceed as planned?"
"Yes," Tom agreed reluctantly. "It is too late to deviate from our plan."
Harry nodded as he made his way down the path that Viktor had chosen, his steps pausing as he heard a male scream sounding from another path nearby. He hesitated for a moment, torn between helping and putting an end to the task as quickly as possible.
"They are close, Harry. You must get to the cup."
An illumination of spell fire to his left made up his mind and he ran forward and away from the conflict. Cedric was fighting. That meant his situation was not so desperate that Harry needed to intervene. If anything, it was exactly what he need so that he could reach his goal knowing there was one less champion to worry about.
Rounding another corner, he broke into a sprint, his heart leaping as he spotted the glowing cup on a plinth ahead of him. His run, however, was not without issue.
With each step he took, the hedges on either side of him attempted to seize him around the ankles as they closed in on him, leaving the only way to go being forward. Pushing himself, his pace increased until he was clear of them, the final few feet needing a roll to avoid being swallowed up by the incessant plant.
He released a deep breath before he approached the plinth, his wand ready.
"Carefully, Harry. You do not want to trigger any potential traps. Feel what is present but do not touch the cup."
He nodded as he closed his eyes and began reaching out for the magic on the cup, ignoring the overwhelming urge he felt to grab it. It was a powerful presence unto itself, imbued with very old magic that was not familiar to him, though it did not feel threatening. It was only when he delved deeper into the magicks that he began to feel spells that were more modern.
"Preservation charms, cleaning charms, dust repelling charms…" he reeled off as he became aware of them. "A confundus charm."
"I suspect it was used to trick the cup into accepting your name."
Harry nodded as he continued his investigation. He found tow portkey charms, one expertly layered on top of the other and the expected compulsion he had felt the effects of as he'd entered the clearing.
Undoing the work would take time and it was not something he wished to do. He had no experience dealing with artefacts like this and he could not be certain what could happen were he to interfere with it. Something powerful enough to create a magical contract was certainly not something to be taken lightly.
Instead, he fired off a wave of green sparks and waited, only for his summoning to be answered much sooner than he'd expected as he could hear a disturbance coming from one of the hedgerows beside him.
His eyes widened as a streak of silver caught his attention and headed straight for the cup.
"NO, FLEUR!" he shouted, snatching hold of her robes as her hand closed around the goblet.
Immediately, he felt as though he had been hooked through his navel as the world around him spun away.
Alastor Moody prodded the unmoving form of Viktor Krum with his foot, questioning how the boy had sent up the sparks if he was unconscious. With a frown, he aimed his wand, and with a muttered incantation, Krum began to stir, his eyes widening as he looked around confused.
"You're alright, lad," Moody assured him.
"Vere am I? vat happened?"
"What do you remember?"
Krum frowned in thought.
"I remember leaving the ship this morning and nothing else," he answered.
Moody grabbed the boy under the chin and looked in his eyes, his own narrowing as the final vestiges of what appeared to be the Imperius Curse faded.
"You do not remember anything that happened in here?" he pressed.
Krum shook his head and Moody cursed under his breath, his gaze shifting upwards as a fountain of green sparks illuminated the sky ahead of him.
"Come with me, lad, and keep your wand handy. Something is not right."
"I do not have my wand," Krum explained, checking his pockets.
"Then stay close," Moody instructed as he rushed forward, his wooden leg hitting the ground with a thud with every other step.
It took several moments but eventually the pair reached the centre of the maze where they came upon a bleeding and disheartened Cedric Diggory.
"Did you send up the sparks, boy?" Moody questioned.
"No, Potter and Delacour must have. I got here in time to see them vanish with the cup."
"Right, then it is time for us to leave. It should have transported them outside the maze. Don't take it harshly, lad. You've done well. You too Krum. There's no shame in losing in a tournament like this."
Cedric offered a dismissive shrug as Viktor scowled.
"Professor? Could you do something about my leg? I was bitten by an acromantula."
Moody noted the two puncture wounds and bandaged them tightly with a wave of his wand. Diggory would need anti-venom and despite his own paranoia, it wasn't something he kept about his person.
"That will have to do until you get to Pomfrey."
Cedric nodded gratefully and hobbled along after the ex-auror and quidditch star as they headed towards the exit. He was disappointed he had not one, but both Potter and Delacour had proven themselves worthy. When it came to who had reached the cup, he had no idea. He had only just managed to identify the two as they vanished.
Exiting the maze proved to be as difficult as navigating the way to the centre. With his injured leg and Moody's missing one, it took almost twenty minutes for them to emerge on the outskirts, though it was to a resounding cheer and round of applause.
The grizzled man ignored the crowd as his magical eye spun in the socket, evidently seeking out the wayward champions. The concern of the man showed as he stalked towards the judges table where Dumbledore was stood, a look of questioning marring his features.
"Did Delacour and Potter arrive?" Moody questioned.
"No," Dumbledore answered worriedly.
"Something has happened, Albus, I can feel it. Diggory saw them both take the cup. Wasn't it supposed to bring them here?"
"Indeed," Dumbledore answered gravely as the crowd began to fall silent, a wave of confusion washing over those in attendance.
"Someone put Krum under the Imperius Curse and his wand is missing. I don't know what the hell is happening, Albus, but I don't like it."
The benevolent visage of the headmaster was absent as he drew his wand and closed his eyes. With a burst of fire his phoenix appeared and perched upon his shoulder.
"My friend, I need you to locate Harry and Miss Delacour," Dumbledore requested of his familiar.
With a screech the bird vanished in another burst of flame.
"Albus, what is happening?" Madame Maxime questioned.
"I do not know, but two of our champions are missing," he answered candidly. "Did anything happen today to suggest that Miss Delacour was acting out of the ordinary."
"She spent the day with 'er parents and Mr Potter," Maxime answered as the Delacour's arrived.
"What is 'appening?" Sebastien demanded, noting the look of worry on the face of the judges.
Karkaroff suddenly fell from his chair, groaning in agony, drawing the attention of those nearby to him.
"What is it, Igor?" Dumbledore demanded as he knelt next to the man.
Karkaroff trembled, his eyes wide with fear as he lifted his sleeve to reveal a blackened skull with a snake protruding from its' mouth.
Dumbledore felt his heart sink as he stood and searched for the potion's professor. He found the man staring at him with a look of disbelief, his already sallow skin much paler than usual. Severus gave only a nod, confirming what he feared.
"The situation is now desperate," the headmaster announced as he flicked his wand several times, releasing wave after wave of silvery spells that headed in different directions. "Minerva," he called, "ensure that none leave the grounds. Alastor, I need you to wait for the arrival of Madame Bones. It must be her I speak with. The rest of you, I need you to control the crowd."
"And me, headmaster?" Snape questioned.
"Are you ready, my boy?"
Snape swallowed nervously before nodding.
"Then you know what to do."
Snape said nothing as he turned and rushed towards the gate in the distance.
"Albus, what is happening?" Sirius demanded breathlessly, evidently having run to reach him with Remus Lupin in tow.
"As yet, I do not know but it seems as though the unthinkable has happened. My priority is ensuring that Miss Delacour and Mr Potter are safely returned."
Before Sirius could reply, Dumbledore felt a disturbance in the wards of the school and the sounds of horrified screaming started only a moment later.
The old man rushed towards where the screaming continued with the judges and concerned families in tow, his heart sinking further at what they came upon.
A disorientated Harry slammed hard into the ground with the wind being knocked out of him, the sickness and landing indicating that the person who created the portkey was not well-versed in the art.
It was as he attempted to stand that he felt a series of wards wash over him and he tried to take in his surroundings through the haze of nausea, his wand at the ready.
"You need to get out, Harry," Tom urged frantically.
His words, however, were for naught as sporadic swishing sounds heralded the arrival of a dozen cloaked figures, their faces obscured by bone-white masks.
"You must escape. Whatever it takes, Harry."
"Drop the wand, Potter," a gruff voice commanded.
"Who is that?"
"Walden Macnair," Tom answered questioningly.
"Now, why would I do that, Macnair?" Harry returned. "I'd much rather die on my feet than cowering before you shits."
He was buying time, his vision beginning to clear from the effects of his arrival. He had no such sense of belief that he could defeat twelve Death Eater's, but he was not going to allow them to do as they wished. They would only kill him anyway.
His eyes shifted to the stirring Fleur, his only thoughts being to get her out of here.
"Stay down," he whispered. "Whatever you do, do not get involved. If you get the chance, find the cup."
Giving a quick glance around, the glowing goblet could not be seen anywhere. Not that it would be much use with the wards still up. The magic in them was strong, that he could feel with only a cursory examination. Whoever had put them together had taken their time to do so. Breaking them would not be easy and impossible during a fight. The odds were heavily stacked against him escaping this alive.
Macnair looked towards his comrades, and though Harry could not see his face, he was evidently confused as to how Harry knew his name.
"If you drop your wand, neither you nor the girl will be harmed," the calm voice of Lucius Malfoy assured him.
"I should have known you'd be here, Lucius," he greeted the man, drawing the s of his name out longer than necessary in a gentle hiss.
The slight hint of parseltongue worked to unsettle the gathered men and Harry sprung into action. A thick plume of black fog escaped his wand, obscuring him from view and he did the only thing he could think of in that moment.
Withdrawing his cloak and ignoring the shouts of the Death Eaters, he wrapped it around Fleur before casting a cushioning charm, a useful binding charm he had found in the book Dumbledore had gifted him at the end of his first year and a banishing charm that stuck her to the back of a large tombstone a short distance away.
"Non, 'Arry," was all he heard before he silenced her with a flick of his wand.
It was not perfect, but it was the best he could do to keep her safe. The binding charm would hold for thirty minutes or until he died, and the cloak would conceal her sufficiently. There was not room for them both beneath it and he would see her away from this place. He would do all he could to ensure that.
"THERE HE IS!" a voice shouted.
Harry turned in time to avoid a stunning spell and swept his wand across his body, destroying several stone statues before banishing them towards his foes. What he hoped to achieve, he did not know, but if he was to die, he would do so with his wand in hand.
"WHERE IS THE GIRL?"
"FORGET THE GIRL, IT IS POTTER OUR LORD NEEDS."
The sickly jet of green light that had haunted his dreams as a child passed him by, closer than he was comfortable with.
"YOU FOOL, HE MUST NOT BE KILLED!" Malfoy chastised.
Harry's nostrils flared as he returned fire. They may have given him the boon of not trying to kill him, but he was not feeling so munificent. He would kill them all before surrendering.
His own offering rocketed towards one of the cloaked men who tried to intercept it with a shield. The spell tore through it as though it were made of paper and sent the man soaring through the air with a scream. Even when he landed, the screaming continued as he was boiled alive inside his own skin, the spell he had been on the receiving end of courtesy of the Blacks.
Seizing the advantage, he conjured a ball of green flames into his hand before blowing into it. The fire erupted into an enormous serpent that scorched the ground as it headed towards his foes, one having enough wit about them to divert it away with a guttural roar and a slash of his wand.
It was Harry's turn to go on the defensive as several spells were sent his way and his serpent faded as he lost concentration, the need to defend himself taking precedence over maintaining his creation.
Having thrown himself to the ground to avoid the onslaught, he rolled behind one of the gravestones as he prepared for his next move. He couldn't avoid so many spells for a prolonged period. One would get through eventually.
"Use your surroundings more, Harry," Tom offered.
He nodded as began hastily transfiguring small stones and blades of grass into metal spikes before firing them blindly towards where he knew the Death Eaters were waiting for him to emerge.
Another scream indicated that another had fallen as he stood and arced his wand over his shoulder. A loud crack sounded as he released his spell and a blinding bolt of lighting was sent forth, scattering the Death Eaters who were not keen to meet such an end.
"WILL SOMEONE BLOODY GET HIM?"
Remaining as composed as he could, he took aim once more and fired a series of bone-splintering curses that had them ducking for cover, buying him some much-needed time for what he hoped would not only put an end to them, but would bring down the wards also.
"NOO!" he heard a voice reply as the summoned basilisk roared into life.
Harry, however, did not get to enjoy the intended devastation be wrought as something heavy collided with the back of his head and he slipped into darkness.
It took the combined effort of the ten remaining Death Eaters to extinguish the hellish fire. What the hell was Potter thinking throwing that spell around? Could he even control it? And if so, how did one so young achieve such capabilities?
Had the rat not finally proven his worth and put the boy down with the blow, Merlin knows what would have happened. Likely, they would have all been killed.
Lucius shook his head as he watched Pettigrew secure the boy to a large tombstone.
"Make sure you get his wand," he commanded.
The squat man flinched as he relieved Potter of any defence he had and scuttled away to fetch their master.
It had been quite the surprise when Wormtail had arrived at his home a few months prior, but not as surprising as what he had brought with him. A shiver made its way down his spine at the memory.
He arrived home much later than usual having spent the evening stroking the ego of the Minister. The man was a buffoon but currently held the lofty position, so Lucius had to pander to his needs to an extent. Besides, he was not one to turn down a fine meal with excellent wine. Still, Lucius could not abide idiots and he had tolerated Fudge for almost fourteen years, though his foolishness often proved to be to his benefit.
Often enough, he was able to manipulate the man into getting exactly what he wanted. Some gold donated here or a whispering there was enough. Fudge may have the title of Minister, but Lucius was the one pulling the strings.
He was pulled from his thoughts by the arrival of his wife. She appeared to be worried and it unsettled him greatly. He may have cared for her little, but she was an astute woman, had been raised by a great house and was not one easily reduced to her current state.
"We have guests, Lucius," she informed him.
"At this hour?" he returned irritably. "Tell them to leave and I will make time when it is convenient."
"I do not think that is wise," Narcissa replied. "They are in the second parlour."
The second parlour was where he would meet with his less than savoury contacts, all of whom knew not to intrude upon him without prior arrangement.
With a growl, he stalked towards the room, intent on chewing out whichever fools had defied his wishes.
Opening the door, he was greeted by a sight that sickened him but also caused his stomach to sink. Pettigrew would not emerge without cause, not without his safety being assured.
"I should have known it was too good to be true that you had perished," he spat, his nose wrinkling at the man.
"You should be grateful that he did not, Lucius," a wheezy voice replied.
It was then that he noticed a cloaked figure cradling what appeared to be a bundle of robes to his chest seated in a chair next to the fire. What unsettled him most, however, was the gentle hiss the voice spoke with. Though it did not sound familiar, the lilt was unmistakeable.
"M-my L-lord?" he stammered.
He could almost feel the smile gracing the lips of whatever his master was now before it addressed him once more.
"It is I, Lucius. Were I in any fit state, you would be punished for denouncing me so readily."
Instinctively, Lucius fell to his knees as he always had when the Dark Lord was displeased with him.
"M-my Lord, I can assure you that had I heard but a whisper…"
"SILENCE," Voldemort ordered. "There have been many whispers, my slippery friend. You chose to ignore them. But I am a merciful lord and I offer you the chance of redemption. Barty will explain what needs to be done."
Lucius frowned as the cloaked man removed his hood, revealing the face of another he believed to be long dead.
"It's been a long time, Lucius," the man replied.
He barely resembled the youthful boy the Malfoy patriarch remembered. Fifteen years ago, he had been young, blonde-haired and blue-eyed, looking to prove his worth. It hadn't been long after he joined that their Lord had fallen and Barty had been sent to Azkaban where he had allegedly died.
"My father granted my mother her dying wish of seeing me free. For years I was held under his control with no wand and no escape. That was until my master came for me. Now, it is my father that is at my mercy."
Lucius could not ignore the glint of insanity in the eyes of the now greying, aged man. His time in Azkaban had ravaged his body and it did not seem his mind had survived the ordeal either.
"What is it you would have me do?" he asked, knowing he had no other choice.
In the following days and weeks, he had resorted to his former subterfuge to bring the others back into the fold so that they could be gathered here tonight for the resurrection of their master.
He had been informed that Potter would need to be subdued, but he had not expected the fight that was put up. As far as he was concerned, the sooner their master was given a body, the better. He himself was not keen on dealing with the Potter boy again, not with the type of magic he had proven to be adept in.
Much to his relief and worry, Pettigrew arrived, clutching the bundle of robes that concealed the Dark Lord and he set to work, retrieving a vial of blood from Potter who started to stir as his flesh was cut into.
It was to the smell of burning and a sharp pain in his arm that he woke to. The gentle crackle of several fires could be heard as he opened his eyes and took in the destruction around him.
Someone had managed to snuff out his fire, but not before it had reduced much of the area to ash. Panicking, his eyes shifted to the stone he had hidden Fleur behind, and he breathed a sigh of relief to see that it was intact.
His head was throbbing, and he had been gagged and tied to a rough stone that dug uncomfortably in his back. Worst of all, he was bereft of his wand and the Death Eaters he had fought back against were gathered in front of him around a large cauldron, the contents bubbling away gently within.
He growled into his gag as he took note of the pudgy, short man that was tending to the potion. Pettigrew was someone he intended on dealing with, though he wished his opportunity had come when he found himself at an advantage and not of the mercy of those that would see him dead.
"Be patient, Harry. Your chance to escape will come. Voldemort will not wish you dead immediately. Here, he feels in control, you will need to exploit his ego," Tom advised.
Though little showed in his voice, he was worried, concerned by the situation Harry found himself in. As was the boy himself but currently, he had eyes only for the rat. He wanted him dead just as much as he did Voldemort for what he had done.
Wormtail pointedly ignored him, trembling as he carried out his work. Picking up a bundle of robes, he dropped whatever it contained into the cauldron and the Death Eaters fell to their knees as Pettigrew began circling, speaking aloud.
"Bone of the father, unknowingly given. You will renew your son!"
"What the hell is he doing?"
"I believe that Voldemort has concocted a ritual to give himself a body," Tom answered defeatedly.
Harry watched as Pettigrew placed a bone into the cauldron before withdrawing a large dagger from within his robes.
"Flesh — of the servant — w-willingly given — you will revive — your master."
He proceeded to lop off his own hand with a single stroke of the blade and began whimpering in pain as he added it to the illicit brew. Harry cringed at the sight. Although he took much satisfaction in seeing the rat in pain, self-mutilation was not easy to watch.
After spending a moment composing himself, Pettigrew withdrew a vial of blood from his robes and continued, his words now pained and frantic.
"B-blood of the enemy... forcibly taken... you will... resurrect your foe."
Once he managed to empty the vial of blood into the cauldron with a shaking hand, he collapsed to the floor, clutching his stump.
The gentle bubbling of the concoction increased rapidly, began emitting an array of coloured sparks and enough steam to obscure it from view.
Harry was riveted by the display, his eyes unblinkingly focused on the spectacle as he prayed that something had gone amiss. His prayers, however, were unanswered as an eerily, high-pitched voice sounded from within the fog.
"Robe me," it commanded.
Pettigrew scrambled to his feet to carry out the order. Once done, he again crumbled to the floor and the mist began to clear, revealing a tall, cloaked figure. Whatever Voldemort had become was not a sight Harry would ever forget.
His skin was waxen, pulled obscenely tight over the bones in his face that were far from appearing human. His nose consisted of nothing more than two, crude slits and his eyes were those of a serpent, red in colour and narrowed dangerously towards him.
For a moment, the two of them stared balefully at one another before the Dark Lord, content that Harry wasn't going anywhere, turned his attention towards the still-kneeling Death Eaters.
"Rise," he instructed calmly.
The followers did so, none brash nor cocky as they had been before the return of their master. Silence reigned as Voldemort walked amongst them, pausing sporadically to stare into the eyes of seemingly random masked men.
"Would anyone care to tell me what it is I sense from each of you?" he questioned dangerously.
When none deigned him with an answer, he sighed disappointedly.
"Guilt and fear are what I feel. You all carry guilt and yet you are fearful, but of what. Is it me? Or is it that you no longer believe in our vision, that you are here tonight knowing that you cannot hide from Lord Voldemort? That the vows you took so many years ago truly meant for life? The mark you carry, the words spoken were not done so in the moment and were a dedication of a declaration to make the needed changes happen. I have not forgotten our mission, have you?"
"No, my lord," the collection of voices rang out as one.
"I am pleased to hear it. I do not wish for friends to become foes. We have enough of those that would see our dreams trampled beneath the heels of the mudbloods and filth that continue to plague our world. Is it not our duty as sons and daughters of our families to ensure our continuation without need of sullying our blood with those lesser?"
"Yes, my lord!"
Voldemort nodded as he walked on, pausing and shaking his head as he came to a gap.
"There should be others amongst us, those that did not denounce me when they were captured. We will liberate them, and they shall be rewarded for their loyalty, as shall you, Barty," he added as he stopped before another cloaked figure. "Tell me, how fares your father?"
"Very much in control, my lord," the cloaked man answered with a bow. "Now that his usefulness has outlived itself, I shall take great pleasure in killing him."
"A reward well-earned," Voldemort replied. "For those of you that do not know, Barty has worked his way into my good graces. His loyalty never wavered, even when he was held in Azkaban. Thanks to fortune and willingness to serve me, I have risen once more to continue with our endeavours."
"Barty Crouch Jr," Tom explained. "I know not how he managed to escape the prison, but it would be he, I suspect, that is responsible for your name being placed in the goblet. His father's position would offer him the needed advantage. I'm sorry, Harry. Once again I have failed to protect you."
"How were you to know? All evidence pointed to him dying. It is his father that is to blame. What we need to do is get out of here."
"You must wait until the time is right. If you fail, then you will die."
Harry nodded as he bit down on the rag in his mouth and tested the bindings holding him. They were tight and he could scarcely move let alone attempt an escape.
"And that brings us to our guest," Voldemort continued, his gaze shifting once more towards Harry who stilled. "Thirteen years ago, I overlooked something, and it cost me dearly. My error became the legacy of the boy before me, a legacy built on the lie that it was he who defeated me."
The Death Eaters muttered unhappily amongst themselves.
"You see, it was not Harry Potter that defeated me but a moment of my own foolishness. I did not account for the repercussions of neglecting the ways of old magic. Before me is not a boy of great power but one of luck, one that benefited due to my own ignorance."
He slowly walked towards Harry whose head began to throb once more, though this had nothing to do with the blow that had felled him.
"Because of the actions of his mudblood mother, I could not bring harm upon. Now, however, her protection is no more and there is nothing that I cannot do to the boy," he added in a whisper as he pressed his forefinger to the lightning bolt scar on Harry's head.
The pounding within his skull increased exponentially and he bit down hard on the gag to prevent himself from crying out. The voice of Tom screamed in protest within his mind and Harry slumped forward when the finger was removed.
"What was that?"
"I felt myself being drawn to him. Remember, Harry, soul shards will look to reconnect with their host."
"I thought that you were part of me?"
"I am, Harry. Physically and by my own wish, I am part of you, but I am also a part of him. He created me, and though I have changed, he remains a monster that I will always share a connection with."
Before Harry could respond, Voldemort spoke once more.
"You may find yourself wondering why I would go to the trouble to ensure the boy was brought here tonight. Well, the magic protecting him was in his blood, and now, it is in mine also. Perhaps a further demonstration of my superiority is needed? I feel the doubt radiating from each of you. I can assure you, such a thing is unwarranted."
His wand snapped upwards in a blur, aimed at the bound teen.
"Crucio," he intoned gleefully.
The pain he had felt at Voldemort's touch paled in comparison to what was coursing through him now. The beating with the belt buckle was a playful punch, and the burning of the iron but a gentle tickle as the feeling of a thousand scorching knives ravaged his body.
After what felt like an eternity but was likely only a moment under the curse, Voldemort relented and Harry released a staggered breath, the taste of iron filling his mouth from where he had evidently bitten through his own tongue in the throes of agony.
"I don't suppose you would like me to do that again, would you, Harry?"
His reply was muffled by the bloody rag forced between his lips.
"It is rude to speak back to your betters," Voldemort chided before his wand was once more levelled at Harry. "Crucio."
Again, he ended his spell after only a moment, revelling in the pained thrashing of the teen.
"My apologies, Harry. I was not aware that you could not speak. Allow me," he offered as the gag was removed with a wave of his wand. "Now, you may answer. You do not wish for me to do that again, do you?"
His words were forceful, his callousness on show for all to see as he took pleasure in the pain of the boy. The Death Eaters too took merriment in the sickening approach he had adopted, laughing heartily at the cruel jape.
Breathing heavily and attempting to compose himself, Harry met the stare of the man before he spat out a mouthful of blood.
"Coward," he gasped, much to the surprise of the Dark Lord and the Death Eaters who fell silent.
Voldemort looked at him speculatively for a moment before nodding.
"I will forgive your transgression this once. Being raised by little better than dogs has failed to teach you the manners that your parents perhaps would have, had they lived," he returned with a smirk. "I will ask you once more, Harry, and I urge you to choose your words carefully. You do not wish to experience such pain again, do you?"
At the mention of his parents, his blood began to boil. Having the man that murdered them mock them ignited a rage within him of the like he had never felt. He had always been quick to anger, had quite the volatile temper but what he felt was new. It spurred him in a direction in that caused him to speak without reverting to intellect.
"You're a fucking coward," he seethed. "You claim to be the greatest wizard to have ever lived, and yet, you have me tied up and wandless because you fear me."
Voldemort narrowed his eyes.
"You are a fool if you…"
"DO NOT LIE TO ME!" Harry roared.
The Dark Lord recoiled slightly as he pushed away the unexpected legilimency probe he felt.
"You are truly full of surprises," he muttered, "but you mistake caution with fear."
Once again, Harry found himself straining against his bindings as another wave of agony overwhelmed him courtesy of the Cruciatus Curse.
"Then prove it," Harry wheezed.
Voldemort tilted his head before smirking.
"And why would I do that? I have already won."
"Because if you don't, the world will know that you are a c-coward that could not defeat a mere boy without resorting to having him defenceless. The doubt of your followers will continue, and you will not b-be able to look at yourself in the mirror knowing you did not truly conquer your demons. You have won nothing yet, Riddle," he finished in a whisper.
The Dark Lord's eyes widened at the use of the name before the narrowed once more, glowing with fury.
"Untie him and return his wand," he growled.
"My lord, I do not believe that is wise."
"DO AS I BID, LUCIUS!"
Malfoy flinched before he hurried forward and began fumbling with the ropes that held Harry.
"I'm going to kill you, Malfoy, but not before I kill your wife and son. If it is the last thing I do, I will put an end to your line."
The man growled and struck him across the face with a gloved hand, only to collapse to the ground a second later, screaming in agony as Voldemort turned his ire on his own follower.
"You dare interfere in my affairs?" Voldemort questioned dangerously.
"He threatened my f-family, my lord," Lucius defended.
"He is in no position to carry out such," the Dark Lord reminded him. "You forget yourself, Lucius. See that it does not happen again."
"Y-yes, my lord," Malfoy answered before finishing his task, hesitating for a moment before handing over the wand and retreating amongst the ranks.
"I would have been merciful, Harry, and granted you an almost painless death. All you had to do was comply, and yet, you foolishly defy me. For that, you must suffer, but first, etiquette dictates that we must bow before we engage in a duel."
"I am not one of your followers and I have no respect for cowards. I will not bow to one."
"YOU WILL BOW! IMPERIO."
He was fast, that, Harry could not deny, and his weakened state made it impossible to avoid the spell. As such, a familiar sense of calm washed over him, the pain he had felt all but gone as a voice not his own tempted him.
"You need only bow to me, Harry. I will make it quick and you can join your parents knowing you died on your feet. Bow to me, Harry, and it will all be over."
With a growl, he forced the presence from his mind and fired of a series of curses the he had not delved into against a live opponent. Were any to land, the death one would face would be most unpleasant. The first was one he had learned from the Black library that would reduce the brain to a jelly. The second would rip the spine away from the other bones that held it in place, and the third would cause the sternum to turn ninety degrees, crushing the heart it protected.
Voldemort shielded the three with a golden construct before offering a nod of appreciation.
"That is very dangerous magic, Harry, but you must do better if you wish to stand against me. Allow me to demonstrate the correct way to truly eviscerate your foes."
Immediately Harry found himself having to defend against spells that flew towards him faster than he had ever faced from a single opponent. His own wand was a blur as he flicked them aside and his shields buckled under the force they were hit with when the need arose to erect them.
Voldemort proved to be exactly what he had been taught to expect. His casting was efficient, his own movement fluid and the magic he sent forth as deadly as any could face. For the first time in his life, he felt truly out of his depth as the Dark Lord attempted to overwhelm him. Unbeknownst to the man, however, it was he that had taught him what he would face, and as he continued to defend himself, it was as though he was tangling with a monster he had slayed a thousand times before.
"You must fight back, Harry. Do not allow him to become comfortable!"
The teen gritted his teeth as he spun away, twirling his wand in his hand as he did so, chanting under his breath. A loud bang echoed throughout the graveyard and the ground beneath their feet cracked in several places.
Voldemort's red eyes narrowed as the corpses of his muggle ancestors began clambering from their final resting place and headed towards him and his Death Eaters, intent of tearing them limb from limb.
It was the distraction Harry needed as he began focusing his energy on the first thing he needed to do to escape.
The Dark Lord, though surprised by his crude grasp on necromancy, reduced the animated corpses to ash before they could cause harm and quickly turned his attention back to the teen as he slashed his wand in a downwards motion.
A sense of foreboding washed over him as a deep rumble of thunder was heard from above, that being the only warning he received before the need to move became apparent. He rolled deftly to his side as a bright blue fork of lighting scorched the spot he had been occupying. Were that to hit him, he was unlikely to survive.
By the time he recovered from the shock and had pushed himself to his feet, a heavy wind had picked up and he cast a repelling charm on his own face to keep the sweeping dust and ash from his eyes.
He was surprised once more by Potter's ability as the swirling debris began forming into shadowy figures that broke away from the vortex and began heading towards his followers who scattered, likely never having faced such constructs before.
It angered the man to see those that were supposed to be the best that wizarding Britain had to offer, fleeing from a mere boy.
With a shriek of fury and sharp jab of his wand, the wind ceased, though the ashen animations remained. His followers would have to deal with them he decided as he turned his head to avoid a searing curse sent his way and shielded two cutting curses that would have cleaved through his newly acquired body. He knew not where Potter had obtained the knowledge of these. He had not come across them until he had been in his twenties.
He growled as he returned the gesture with some of the more obscure spells he had in his arsenal, his anger surfacing once more as the boy expertly shielded himself from them. There were but two that could endure these spells and Potter immediately cast one of them as though he was aware of it.
"Impossible," he thought. "His luck simply continues."
Having destroyed the wards with his magical lightning, he began pondering just how he would locate the cup, not that Voldemort seemed to be aware the wards keeping him here were no more.
He had made it appear that he had cast an elemental spell that would create the blue bolt. Had he done, the wards would have remained intact, unaffected by his efforts. In truth, he had only created the thunder, the lightning coming courtesy of a spell he had learnt to dismantle temporary wards. Although they had been woven together expertly, he suspected they had not been anchored to the muggle property for longevity. Fortunately, he had been proven correct as the scheme collapsed and he continued his onslaught, hoping to keep the Dark Lord busy enough so that he could proceed with his escape, though he knew not how he would do so, yet.
He didn't know what state Fleur was in and he had never side-along apparated anyone. In his own weakened position, it was not something he was willing to risk. Both could die or be irreparably damaged were his efforts to go awry.
He needed the cup, but first, he needed to locate it. He smiled as he fired a trio of blasting curses towards the Dark Lord.
"Point me," he muttered.
His wand spun in his palm and settled, pointing almost directly behind him.
With a plan, albeit one he was not certain of forming, his duel with the Dark Lord continued in earnest as he slowly but surely began his retreat.
She had struggled against whatever it was holding her in place, but to no avail. The spell Harry had cast on her held firm and she was forced to listen to the events unfolding around her, unable to do anything.
Though she could not see, she had felt the heat radiating from the fiendfyre that Harry had summoned along with the trickle of fear that settled within her. How did he know of such a spell? Could he even control it?
Of course, he could. He would not be foolish enough to bring forth something he could not.
The next moments had been fraught with worry as a dull thud sounded and the shouting of men could be heard as they wrestled with the cursed flames, eventually bringing them under control. Though the eerie silence that followed unsettled her more than the conflict. The silence meant that Harry was no longer fighting back against those that he had been opposing. Again, she fought against the magic holding her, needing to see that he was okay. All that could be heard was the crackling of flames until she heard a voice ring out through the din.
"Make sure you get his wand."
Her heart sunk as her fears were confirmed. Somehow, they had gotten the better of Harry.
She couldn't comprehend how things could worsen but hearing the voice of one claiming to be the risen Dark Lord after the some seemingly nonsense words had been spoken, chilled her to the core. Even that, however, could not compare to the sounds of Harry being tortured by the dreaded curse.
Her struggling became desperate as she had to endure hearing it happen time and again, her eyes brimming with tears that fell freely at the thought of the suffering that had befallen him.
The words spoken by the others became muffled through her efforts and choking sobs until Harry's voice broke through, strong and defiant as he had always proven to be.
"DO NOT LIE TO ME!"
She swelled with pride as she equally cursed him for his impudence when faced with such danger. He was outnumbered, had no wand, and yet, he refused to cower.
Hearing the order for him to be untied and handed back his wand both confused and instilled hope within her.
Did Voldemort not know how capable was? Could Harry hope to stand against him?
She had read of the last war, had read of the devastation the man could wrought with but a flick of his wand. People that had witnessed his power described him as a demon, the same way those that followed him did a god. Harry was undoubtedly cut from the same cloth but was he ready to face him?
Once more, she was subject to listening only to the sounds of combat around her, flinching at the sounds of destruction. Though they terrified her without any means of defence, they meant that Harry stood, that he yet lived.
She instinctively covered her ears a loud explosion sounded closer than she was comfortable with. The stone she was hidden behind was peppered with debris, but she could finally move.
Cautiously, she rounded the side of the stone, her eyes widening at what she witnessed.
The entire graveyard was in disarray. What had once been tombstones like the one she had been behind had been broken and now stuck out of the ground like broken teeth. Much of the ground had been scorched and cloaked men were scrambling away from what appeared to be large, smoky creatures that pursued them amongst the carnage.
Her attention, however, was drawn to the battle occurring between Harry and another whose visage would haunt her for the remainder of her days. The one that claimed to be Voldemort was simply hideous. He appeared to be more snake than human, in features at least, of which were twisted in fury as his wand slashed and parried spells away from him.
For a moment, she was entranced by the back and forth between the two, her own abilities feeling inferior in comparison to what was on display. The grace and speed with which both fought was humbling and the spells, varied and unrecognisable for the most part.
Shaking herself, she was at a loss on what to do. She did not want to risk involving herself in the ensuing duel between Harry and Voldemort. She would likely be killed or get Harry hurt. No, he was handling himself.
She could simply wait and watch to ensure no other interfered, which was likely if Harry were to be at an advantage.
Again, she shook her head as the final words Harry had said to her replayed in her mind.
"Find the cup."
She did not know where Harry had gotten an invisibility cloak, but it proved to be a boon as she scrambled around looking for any sign of the glowing cup. Surely, it could not have gone far from where they arrived. The issue was, she couldn't be sure as to the exact spot. She had been disorientated and had been moved before she had been able to take in their surroundings.
Still, she couldn't the search in vain whilst the fighting continued a short distance away.
Steadily, he was covering ground with his retreat, the ache in his body from the curses he had been subject to before being untied starting to take their toll on him.
Unwaveringly, he fought back with all he had left, his focus shifting briefly to a crawling figure illuminated by the fire still crackling beneath the cauldron used to resurrect the Dark Lord.
He was sickened once again by the sight of the man that had betrayed his parents and his wand was pointed towards him without thought.
"NO!" Tom screamed within his mind as he released his spell, only for a sharp pain to shoot down the length of his arm as the bone was snapped by a rebuttal from Voldemort.
His wand slipped from his grasp as he spun to the ground, clutching his throbbing, limp arm. Something dug uncomfortably into his thigh as he rolled to be greeted by the sight of the approaching Dark Lord.
"A foolish mistake, Harry," he chided almost disappointedly. "Your inexperience shows. You were blinded by the need of vengeance when your focus should have never shifted from the true threat. You may have gotten Wormtail, but now I have you."
His eyes shifted briefly to the retching animagus, trembling as he vomited blood. He would be dead within a minute and he could not help but feel satisfied that he would be taking the traitor with him.
His satisfaction gave way to fear, however, as Voldemort took aim with his wand.
Pushing himself backwards, whatever was in his pocket again prodded him and his heart soared when he remembered what it was.
"'ARRY, NON!" a familiar voice sounded, proving to be the distraction he needed.
The Dark Lord looked towards where the voice had come from and Harry retrieved Krum's wand from his pocket. Uncertain if it would respond to him, he gave it a flick, wanting nothing more than to put some distance between himself and Voldemort in his moment of panic and vulnerability.
With how close the man stood, his offering was impossible for him to dodge, but he managed to produce a hasty shield. It was not, however, enough to negate the full effect of the blasting curse and he was sent flying through the air with a roar of pain and rage.
After searching for much longer than she would have liked, she managed to locate the cup that had rolled under a bush considerably further away than she had expected.
Triumphantly, she levitated it as she turned to find Harry on the ground with Voldemort bearing down on him.
"'ARRY! NON," she screamed.
The eyes of the Dark Lord met hers and her stomach sank for the brief second they stared at one another. Harry quickly seized the opportunity and banished the man away from him before standing on shaky legs and grabbing something from the floor nearby.
"QUICKLY, 'ARRY," she urged as the Dark Lord stood, his wand pointing quickly towards where she stood.
"AVADA KEDAVRA," he shouted, the sickly green spell illuminating his features as it left his wand.
At the same time, Harry vanished from where he had been and appeared next to her, the relief in his eyes giving way to a fear she had never expected to see within them.
Unceremoniously, she was pulled towards him and turned away. Instinctively, she snatched the cup from the air as the spell collided with Harry and he fell into her arms as they were swept away from this place.
They arrived with a thud, to where, she knew not. An anguished scream escaped her as she turned him, only to be faced by a pair of emerald eyes devoid of life.
"Non, 'Arry," she pleaded, shaking his limp form.
Tears spilled as she continued in her efforts to rouse him, but he remained unmoving.
"'Arry, please," she choked. "'Arry."
Realising that her efforts were for nothing, she fell across his chest and did all she could in that moment, and sobbed for her loss, her heart irreparably broken.