Hi everyone! Welcome to the last chapter. Yes, last chapter. Don't worry, though, I'm planning on a sequel titled Irrevocable. It's going to be fun, and definitely put a new twist on things. Also, sorry if this is freaking weird, but I was going through the pre-stages of a migraine when I wrote most of it, only I didn't realise it, so this is kind of odd, to say the least. Anyway, enjoy!
Chapter Twenty One
It had been a trying time. Dumbledore said as much in his speech, standing on the platform at the end of the Great Hall, looking out at the pale, drawn faces sitting at the restored House tables. There weren't many there; they probably could have all squeezed around a single table and been marginally comfortable.
Comfortable was a dim memory, for Dumbledore. He hadn't been comfortable since Harry had turned, a mere month after he had been captured. And now, with the boy beginning to remember... comfortable was the last thing he felt.
Harry was an Occlumens. That was unexpected, and unwelcome. The obliviate had given them a chance, however small, and now all that was coming to an end. Dumbledore had known Harry could learn Occlumency, and easily. He had always been a private boy, and the mind is the most private part of a person. Still, he had not expected that to be something that Voldemort would teach the boy, as there was the chance that it would block the connection that the two shared. But perhaps he had overcome that obstacle by his other marks, the Dark Mark and that sickening serpent upon his face. Dumbledore didn't know. There was far too much that he didn't know, that he needed to know. But he did know one thing, as much as the knowledge pained him.
"Voldemort is gathering his forces once more. His ranks are united, and we are the only obstacle to his complete and total victory. He will be here within the hour."
Harry felt awkward. He stood on the small platform in what he had been told was the Great Hall, a wand he had instantly recognized with both his heart and his magic in his hand. Dumbledore stood beside him, a hand on his shoulder, its purpose as much to restrain as to strengthen.
Everyone was staring at him.
Hate and fear. Nervous. They were all nervous, and he was mostly sure that at least a part of that was directed at him. Why did he make them nervous? He couldn't do anything, couldn't hurt them. Or, he could, but he wouldn't. He only knew one spell, which he had been taught hastily.
The words made him shiver, but he wasn't sure if it was in fear or anticipation. He wasn't sure of anything anymore. But he was fairly sure that he wanted Draco. Whoever Draco was. He knew the name, the hair and the eyes, and the way the mere mention or thought of him made him feel, but that was it.
He looked for Hermione, the one person he felt he could trust. She had been honest. She had told him everything, he instinctively felt. She had told him of the lives he had saved, the lives he had destroyed. And it didn't matter to her, none of it. She just wanted him to know, to make his own decisions. He didn't understand that, and he had asked her why.
"Because everyone deserves the right to choose. Free choice is the most important thing in the world. We have to be free to decide if we want to hurt or heal, construct or improve or diminish. And every action has a consequence that we should face. But you, Harry, you've had to face the consequences of others' actions far too often, as well as your own. And you've had so few choices, almost no say in the shape of your life. And you should have that now.
"We need information, data, facts, to make the right decision. And that's what I'm giving you. Whatever decision you make, I'll know that I at least did that much."
And Harry respected that. He respected her, liked her even. Shards of returning memories told him that she had spoken true. But he couldn't find her in the hall. Instead, he found himself looking at a tall, gangly boy with far too many freckles and a look of such intense hatred in his eyes that Harry took an involuntary step back.
"Spiders," he said suddenly, unsure of why he said it. The boy shivered.
"You should have been strangled the moment you were born," he declared with rancor.
"Mr. Weasley," Dumbledore said in a warning tone. The boy's mouth worked, as if he was debating whether or not he should push, but it closed after a few moments. It seemed he did not believe that Dumbledore would give so much as an inch if put under pressure.
Instead of spewing whatever was in his head, he stared at Harry. Hard and long. His gaze made his intentions clear: I don't trust you, don't like you, don't even think that you deserve to live.
Was he a Weasley? Harry didn't know, but he knew the Weasleys all had red hair. Or at least the ones he had killed had. He remembered that. He had killed, without mercy, without remorse, without even thinking of the lives he had taken. Was he really a monster?
But Dumbledore expected him to kill Voldemort without a qualm. Red eyes, the pupils slightly elongated. A cold, elegant hand caressing his cheek, the silver serpent writhing in pleasure. What was the difference? What made killing one man okay, but killing others evil?
Worst of all, he couldn't even remember why he had killed the three Weasleys. It was almost as if the memories he had were those of some silent observer. He saw himself, and he saw the bodies. But that was it. No surroundings, no other people. Maybe he had been justified in killing them. Hermione had not said much on the subject. She just gave him their names, and told him that he had killed them. Perhaps she didn't know.
He wasn't sure he wanted to either.
The doors to the Great Hall flew off their hinges, shrapnel flying in all directions. The doors themselves, mainly intact, landed harmlessly off to the side, not crushing any of the armed wizards and witches who stood shaking at the front of the room.
A man was standing there. He was tall and pale, thin and strange. He began to move further into the Hall, and when he stood perhaps a few metres from the gathered crowd, Harry finally understood the small, niggling sense of recognition.
He mouthed the name, remembering the flashes of red eyes. Voldemort smiled at him with his thin lips, but it was a grotesque thing, full of arrogance and... a darkness that he couldn't describe, but which called out to him nonetheless.
"Harry," he hissed, the word an embrace, full of meaning. Welcome home. I have trapped you once again. You are mine. You are about to return to your proper position beside below me. Which one was it? Were the equals, or was Harry the subordinate? He didn't return the greeting, instead tightening his grip on the wand- his wand.
"What have they done to you, my snake?" The words sounded odd, convoluted and serpentine. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the others inch away from the man, fear in their eyes.
"What has anyone done to me?" he responded, trying not to think. Was this man his friend or his enemy? His consciousness tugged him both ways, a vicious game that left him feeling empty and somewhere in the middle. A mere possession.
The others edged away from him this time, looking at him with an odd mixture of awe and repulsion. "Parseltongue," they whispered, as if this were the one thing that could damn any man to hell for a certainty.
"Your memories have not yet returned," the snake-like man crooned, taking a few steps closer to Harry. Harry took a few steps forward, jumping lightly off the platform without thinking. This man called to him, like a siren song that only he could hear. The serpent on his cheek danced around, making the sign for infinity as quickly as it could.
Voldemort's hand reached up, stroking the silver serpent with the utmost care. "Twice I have marked you as mine," he intoned, as if this were a ritual that must be done with precision. His other hand moved to Harry's arm, lightly tracing the shape of the Dark Mark that seemed to glow a dark, dark black at the motion. "And mine you shall remain."
Harry's head spun, his ears rang, and he felt as if he were falling forwards when he was only standing still.
Suddenly, his back was against Voldemort's chest, and the man bent down to whisper in his ear.
"Kill Dumbledore, my little serpent."
And Harry raised his wand.
Draco stared at the ceiling. No one had come for him, no one had told him anything. He was beginning to think that he had been forgotten. The House Elves delivered food, but only when he was sleeping. He tried to fool them, to feign sleep just to see something else that lived and breathed, but it was to no avail.
His nails were bitten down to stubs, and he had taken to twisting his hair until small strands were jerked out, just to release some of his nervous energy. His heart thudded loudly, the only sound aside from his short, panicked breaths.
When the doorknob appeared, he ignored it. He'd seen it appear, again and again, taunting him, only to disappear as soon as he stretched out his shaking hands. It was an illusion, a mirage in this desert of stone.
The handle turned, and Draco focused on counting. One, two, three, four... But then the door opened, and all of his self control disappeared, and he prostrated himself before the feet of whatever magnificent god had seen fit to release him from this hell.
Two slim hands grabbed his arms, pulling him upright with an effort. "Listen, Malfoy, Draco..." He opened his mouth, but the girl continued. "I know what you think of me, but we don't have time for that right now. Voldemort's attacking the castle," Draco's heart rose, "and Harry's in deep trouble." His heart crashed through the bright clouds and plummeted deep into the earth, splintering stone as it went.
He gave a wordless cry, but Granger continued pulling him along relentlessly. "He's lost his memory, and he doesn't know who to believe. I've told him as much as I know- the truth- but he only has a few flickers of things that he recalls. Flickers of you, mostly. I don't know if you can do anything to help him, and I don't care what you do, but he needs someone right now. And you're the best choice."
He'd only forgotten his memories. Draco felt as if he could sing, but he couldn't find the breath to do so. They could fix that, and if not, they'd make new memories together, good memories. Harry was safe, Harry was uninjured, and Harry was still his!
Draco began to walk more briskly, and Hermione matched his half-run with a sigh of relief. Perhaps this would work out, now.
"Harry." That was all Dumbledore said. He had a look of trust on his face, trust in Harry, but his eyes were full of fear. And even, way down in those blue, incessantly twinkling depths, a look of hate. But the name, his name, he realised distantly, meant nothing. The wand seemed to tremble in his hand, and he raised it further.
Voldemort was at his back, one hand clenching at his hip, his mouth nearly touching Harry's ear as he whispered in that soft, hissing, malevolent voice of his.
"He lied to you, didn't he, my little serpent? He used you, abused you, threw you away as if you were trash. But you aren't trash, are you? You're a treasure, a jewel, my little silver serpent." That long cold hand flicked down his cheek again, and the snake upon his cheek felt as if it were trying to rip itself out of his skin, thrashing in pleasure across his face, half blinding him from the flashes that it's silver body sent into his eyes. "All mine, all mine, and he tried to take you away, tried to make you his. He deserves punishment for that, doesn't he, my sweet?"
"Draco's," he managed to croak, shutting his eyes, his head feeling as it itself was spinning. His stomach clenched, and he could feel the world weaving around him, weaving through him. Bile rose in his throat, but he did not retch, just gasped and gaped, opening his mouth and working the muscles of his throat, wishing that something, anything, would happen and that this would all go away.
"Mine," the voice hissed, and Harry could barely feel the long nails digging into the flesh of his hip, leaving thin red crescents of blood that dribbled down onto the tops of his hospital issue trousers. His skin itched, and his mind itched, and suddenly the touch of the cold body at his bare back was too much, and he threw himself forward, stomach heaving, wand nearly splintering as he crashed to his hands.
And Harry wasn't sure what he did next, only long silver hair pooled to the floor, the head hung at an awkward angle over the edge of the stage. He tried to pick himself up, tried to look, tried to forget and remember all at the same time.
"Dead!" And it was the one voice, the one that was still whispering, but it was other voices, too. A million times the words was repeated, with joy and rage and sorrow and triumph and disbelief. Dead dead dead dead dead deaddeaddeaddeaddeaddead DEAD!
A pair of warm arms pulled him close, cradling him against another's chest, and his fringe was pushed away, out of his eyes, his eyes that were open and seeing and yet he saw nothing. "Harry, Harry, Harry, Harry, Harry!" A few tears splashed on his chest, then a few more, mixing with the blood and turning his trousers pink.
And then there were eyes, the eyes that he knew and wanted, not the eyes that came unbidden, and that pale hair, and the familiar face, and all of a sudden he was back where he should have been all along, in his body.
"Draco?" he tried to ask, reaching up a pale and trembling hand. "Dead?"
"Not dead, not dead, you're not dead, you're just fine, just fine, Harry, and Dumbledore's dead, and you've done it, and it's all going to be okay now! All done, you're fine, I'm fine, done done done!" And Harry wanted to say something, but he couldn't, he could only hiss, and Draco looked at him in confusion.
He tried again, wanting to ask what was going on, what had happened, where was he, when this was all going to be over? But his mouth wouldn't work properly, and his voice didn't form words, but a long string of hisses that made those eyes blink in confusion in pain in misunderstanding.
"My serpent, you've killed Dumbledore, my brave, brave little sweet serpent," the voice crooned, but the voice didn't match the movements of Draco's lips, and suddenly he was lifted off the ground, away from Draco, away from comfort, and held in the air by the red eyes. And the hissed endearments continued but Harry could barely tell one apart from the other, and they all melded together in a long stream of sibilants that made less sense and more sense and none at all.
He was being sucked in by that voice, that darkness, and his feet had already gone, and his torso was so elongated that it shouldn't be possible, and he stretched out his arms, crying for Draco, for sanity.
And the good voice, Draco's voice, called for him, but the black hole arms wouldn't let him go, and he was falling falling flying rising.
"Harry!" Draco screamed, reaching out for the boy. "Please, my lord, please, let me have him, let me hold him, he needs me!"
But Voldemort only shifted Harry's weight, ignoring the boy's feeble struggles, and tightened his grip. "You are no longer necessary, Draco Malfoy. Harry is no longer yours. You have served your purpose, and now that he is fully mine, I release you from your service." A jerk of his hand, and Draco shivered as the silver serpent on his cheek seemed to float away, cursing and spitting at him, baring his fangs as it flew through the air back towards its maker. "You are not needed."
"Need Dracossssssss," Harry wheezed, reaching blindly in the wrong direction. He twisted his body, fighting the grip of the too-strong arms, thrashing about until he finally fell to the floor. He landed with a thump, but no one noticed. Draco was screaming at Voldemort, tears streaming down his face as he begged, pleaded, and Voldemort was snarling back at him, telling him that Harry was his, not Draco's.
Hermione rushed to the fallen boy's side, propping his chest up, his head lolling against her shoulder. She tried to comfort him, running her hands through his black hair, rubbing his back, but he squirmed and twitched and didn't seem to know where he was at all. But she'd seen everything, seen the dazed Harry throw himself to the ground, seen Dumbledore fall. Draco had rushed ahead of her into the Great Hall, the only one moving in the stillness at the wizard's death.
And now Voldemort and Draco were fighting, and Harry lay on the floor between them, half-forgotten, his eyes lidded as if drunk and his voice switching between Parseltongue and English, and none of his words made sense.
Hermione didn't know how long the room held like that, no one moving, the only sounds the shouts of Draco, Voldemort's terse replies, and Harry's sobbing nonsense. But slowly, so slowly that she wasn't sure, Harry began to come back from wherever he had been. He blinked his eyes, gazing at Dumbledore's corpse and the Death Eaters and Aurors and the Order of the Phoenix, and finally at Draco and Voldemort.
"All done?" he asked, voice high and childish. He wavered as if sleepy, eyes opening and closing languidly, his thumb drifting towards his mouth.
"All done," Hermione and Draco said as one. Voldemort smirked and, with his eyes locked with Hermione's, he crooned gently to the boy.
"All done now, my sweet serpent. All you have to do is kill the Mudblood and the boy, and we can be away from this place." He smirked, red eyes flashing in delight as Harry looked at the wand in his left hand, nibbling his right thumb slowly.
He waved it about, almost experimentally, a child who had stolen their parent's wand but wasn't quite sure what it did. "Avada Kedavra," he whispered, but there was no jet of green light, no body falling to the floor.
"That's right, little Harry," Voldemort encouraged, pointing at the two teenagers. "Avada Kedavra."
Hermione closed her eyes, wondering if she had come so far only for this to happen now. "It's your choice, Harry," she told him calmly, feeling the boy at her side stiffen. "You decide what you want to do."
"Kill them?" he asked of Voldemort, his eyes losing some of their glaze, his voice deepening. "Why?"
"Because I told you to, Harry," Voldemort replied.
"No. No!" He shook his head wildly from side to side, his too-long hair whipping Hermione in the face. "My choice."
"You don't have a choice, little serpent." Voldemort's voice had lost its lilting quality, becoming cold and hard, the voice that everyone was used to. "You belong to me."
"Mine!" Harry yelled, sounding like a petulant toddler. "Mine mine mine!" He raised his wand, waving it at the Dark Lord, brows drawn in fury. His head was still pounding, and he wanted nothing more than to sleep. "Mine!" he cried a final time, bringing the wand down hard, splintering the wood as a light of green so intense that Hermione would never dare to call anything else green again slammed out of the wand towards Voldemort.
There was a moment of silence, and slowly the body crumpled into ash, a small pile of dust that whipped away in a wind that touched nothing else.
"Mine," Harry stated one last time, pointing to himself. "Mine." And then he buried his face in his hands and cried.