This story bares no relation to Harry Potter and the Emerald Sceptre. While locations and similar themes may appear in both, events that occur in ES don't affect this fic. This story contains spoilers for all FIVE of the Harry Potter books. Also, this fic will, in future chapters, use other people's POVs. Don't be surprised when you find yourself reading from another character's POV.
A Change of State
It was very hot and stuffy in the car. Harry had been sitting in the back seat of Uncle Vernon's new car staring blankly out of the window for the last few hours. The average speed on the M5 was far less than seventy. There were road works all along the Bristol section of the road; it was covered in road cones. Traffic conditions were hectic to say the least, especially in the morning rush hour during which they had set off. They were now crawling along at ten miles per hour. To make matters worse, there were signs on the central reservation that informed them that a temporary speed limit of forty miles an hour was in effect.
"I would do bloody forty if I could," huffed Uncle Vernon.
Harry had been back from school for two months. Dumbledore had not allowed him to visit the burrow, except for one afternoon. He had spent hours and hours in his room daydreaming, reminiscing over a life he could have had. Sirius had offered him a home; a chance to escape from the hellish family who were now dragging him off to a destination he had dreaded returning to since his previous and only other visit.
After many glorious weeks of ignoring him when at all possible, this morning Aunt Petunia had lowered herself to speak to him. Speaking was a bit of an overstatement. She had banged on the door to his bedroom at six- thirty in the morning, over two hours before he would normally rise, and informed him in a rather loud voice that he was to be down in the hall ready to leave in twenty minutes or he would regret it. Harry had been tempted to just roll over and see if they really would make him regret it, even though they knew that Mad-Eye Moody was watching the house. Instead, Harry had done as he was told and made his way to the shower.
Sitting there in the car, heading slowly but surely towards four days of pure hell, Harry really wished that he had just rolled over and refused to come. Instead, he had made it downstairs in the requested twenty minutes to find that they weren't leaving until nine, which left him plenty of time to do some housework. He had chosen, out of pure spite, to use the vacuum cleaner right outside Dudley's bedroom door. That had got Dudley up, and much to Harry's pleasure, he was not in a good mood. Harry had seen the desire to hit him in Dudley's eyes but fear of magic prevented Dudley from taking action. The fat oaf provided Harry with so much amusement, were it not for him being an idiot, Harry would have had nothing to cheer him up. His friend's letters were all the same, 'can't say much,' 'miss you,' 'don't let the Muggles get you down,' 'chin up'. Harry's time back at Privet Drive was boring, but an improvement over last summer. He was not being ordered around nearly as much. He had access to his school things though he had no work to do as he had finished the OWL course and not yet started the NEWT ones. OWLS, bugger! The results were due in a few days. He really hoped that they did not arrive while he was away. He would not imagine that the owner of his accommodation would appreciate an owl dropping by with a letter for him. He was fairly confident that he had done well, not exceptional, but OK. His only major worry was Potions. He needed O for NEWT level potions but looked unlikely to get it. Harry thought he deserved an E because he would exceed Snape's expectations by getting a single mark. He had described the effect of Polyjuice Potion accurately due to his experience of it. Harry thought he would probably get an A for Potions. He felt a deep sense of disappointment as his ideal future dripped away from him. Oh well, it seemed that that little window of hope was now closed to him as well. He didn't graduate for another two years, plenty of time to decide on a new career. Back to the problem at hand. The next four days of hell. Compared to the punishment he was now facing, a week with Yvonne seemed like heaven on earth. Mrs Figg's house seemed like a pleasure cruise. Come to think of it, he would even settle for spending the summer with Severus Snape if it got him out of the holiday he was now on.
It was not really a holiday. Dudley had been 'advised not to return to Smelting's for sixth form'; in other words he had been kicked out, but not expelled. Schools have to keep a record of everyone they suspend and expel. Many of them ask disruptive pupils to leave so that they don't have to put a black mark on their record for having expelled a pupil. Smelting's could still tell any OFSTED inspectors, in all truth, that no one had ever been expelled. This left Dudley out on his own. Uncle Vernon would tell anyone who listened that Smeltings had gone downhill and that the new Headmaster had turned a quality establishment into a joke. Aunt Petunia would tell anyone who listened that Smeltings was too basic for her Duddykins and that they didn't understand how the mind of a genius worked.
However they explained it, it still left them with the problem of Dudley needing a new school for Sixth Form. Dudley would have liked to just not go to school, but that cut off his main source of financial income: stealing younger children's dinner money. Mugging and theft was another option but he was not clever, fit or competent enough to be a criminal. That meant he had to work. He could either get a job, or go back to school for sixth form and then University. His parents had managed to convince him to return to school; the presence of a new set of weights in the cellar, which doubled up as his weight room, may have influenced his discussion. Anyhow, with that said, they still faced the problem of finding a school for him. Harry had been sent to his room with no tea for suggesting St. Brutus' Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys. This punishment was not really punishing, it basically sent him back up to the room that he had only left seconds ago to get a glass of water after which he had planned to return to that very room anyway. Prospectuses were ordered from various colleges and Dudley flicked through them, basing his decisions largely on the attractiveness of the girls in the pictures. Eventually they short listed possibilities to a total of three.
Today they were off to visit the last one, Kelly College in Tavistock, Devon. It was a large school founded to teach sons of Naval Officers how to be gentlemen. It must have been the aristocratic nature of the school that appealed to Uncle Vernon and the blonde with the large breasts in the photo on page six of the prospectus that appealed to Dudley. To be more precise, they were visiting the school tomorrow, but since Devon is five hours drive from Surry depending on traffic, they had opted to come down a day early. They had a week left until Harry returned to school. This school was having an open day and the Dursleys had decided to attend. This, Harry could have lived with, but then Uncle Vernon had come up with 'a better idea'. It was not a better idea; it was the worst idea since someone suggested putting a snooze button on a smoke alarm. He had suggested that they stay with darling Aunt Marge who owned a farm nearby on which she bred dogs.
They would arrive early afternoon, spend tomorrow at the College and then another day at Marge's before returning home. Harry had pleaded all of yesterday evening to be allowed to stay at home but his aunt and uncle were having none of it.
"Absolutely not!" shouted Uncle Vernon. "I am not having you holding a party for all your freaky little friends when we are away. I know you too well, boy. We'd come home and find the whole house crawling with black cats, frogs and newt's eyes."
All this had resulted in Harry being stuck in the back seat of his uncle's car, with a fat lump of lard asking if they were nearly there yet every few seconds in his ear. Dudley had become bored after about twenty minutes. He was too scared to play his usual travelling game that involved hitting Harry and seeing who could make him cry out the loudest and then laughing when Uncle Vernon told him to shut up. He had no wish to engage Harry in conversation; not that he actually possessed the ability to raise conversation on the same intellectual level as Harry, anyway.
After five hours in the car, they had covered 250 miles, Dudley had consumed four packets of Haribo and they had stopped at three Motorway Service Stations. Harry had said a total of about four words since leaving the house. He had sat in almost perfect silence dreaming of what life would be like if he had been born someone else. Why does it always come down to me? he asked himself. He had never asked to be the Boy-Who-Lived; it was thrust upon him. Come to think of it, with all he had seen and done, not to mention all he had left to do, and the responsibility weighing down on him, it was a miracle that he was still sane.
They stayed on the M5 for over three hours, mainly due to the slow speed and traffic. Harry took to reading the signs and looking for interesting place names. He was so bored that it seemed interesting and it was also informative. He learned that Exeter Car Supermarket was having a sale, Digger-Land was a place where they let both children and adults drive real Diggers, tractors and JCBs off-road, and if you bought a Whopper at Burger King, you would get another one free. He also encountered some interesting place names, his favourites being Wookie's Hole, Crapstone and, much to his surprise, as they neared Exeter, he saw a sign to Ottery St. Mary.
I wonder if Ottery St. Catchpole is anywhere near here, thought Harry to himself.
They turned from the M5 onto the Duel Carriageway that was the A30. It was also called the Devon Express Way until it split into the A30 and the A38 and then the DEW followed the A38 through Plymouth and onto Cornwall. Uncle Vernon stayed on the A30 until they got to Okehampton as directed by Aunt Petunia who was reading from the sheet of directions which Aunt Marge had sent them in the mail along with a note requesting that Harry be left at home. It was a further half hour before they turned onto a muddy lane that led up to the farm. Higher Croft Farm said the signpost; this was the place. Uncle Vernon drove up the thin, winding road, with the brambles from the hedges on either side scraping along the car, decimating his paintwork. He pulled into the courtyard and parked the car under a tree to shield it from the sun. The three Dursleys climbed out of the car. Harry sat motionless, gazing at the house. It looked in some respects quite similar to the Burrow. It was a two-story house, with an old, and in this case, disused pigsty attached to the front wall. There was a porch outside the front door on which was set a table and four chairs. The sound of barking could be heard from around the other side of the house. It had a real farmyard feel to it. They also happened to be on top of a hill so the view was spectacular. The famous Tors of Dartmoor rose around them. Piles of rock atop huge hills surrounded them. Fields and Moorland stretched as far as the eye can see. It was a beautiful green landscape; a complete contrast from the noisy, grey, smoke infested world of Surrey suburbia, such as Little Whinging. It was quiet and tranquil with the exception of the dogs.
Harry undid his seatbelt and opened the door. He climbed out, expecting the smell of manure to instantly fill his nostrils. To his surprise, he smelt fresh air.
"Ah, the county paradise," muttered Harry cynically.
"What was that, boy?" growled Uncle Vernon.
"Nothing," muttered Harry.
Uncle Vernon made his way towards the front door. The sun was shining and reflecting off of the puddle on the patio. Aunt Marge must have watered her hanging baskets and missed because the unwound hose was sitting on the patio slowly secreting a steadily growing puddle. Uncle Vernon hopped over the puddle, not wanting to get his smart shoes and best suit muddy, and knocked on the door. It was then that he noticed the sign on the door.
Please use door around the back. Thank you.
Harry thought it somewhat out of character that this woman could be polite enough to say please and thank you. Still, the sign wasn't meant for him or else it would say 'Sod off and die' without even a please. Anyway, Harry followed his uncle around the side of his sister's house.
Harry's initial impressions of this place were far from what he had expected. He had expected a muddy hole fit for pigs with hundreds of little rat-like dogs barking for no good reason and driving him mad. Instead, he found a rather beautiful village with an ornate, cosy little farm. However, any hopes that Harry harboured about these few days being 'not so bad' were quickly shattered with the arrival of Aunt Marge.
"VERNON! How good to see you!" she bellowed from the middle of a pen full of dogs. She waddled to the gate of the pen, scattering dogs and, from the yelp Harry heard, it seemed clear that she had stepped on a tail or a paw of one of the dogs. Judging by the size of this woman, that had to hurt. "Petunia, so glad you could come, welcome to Mary Tavy! And here he is... my darling Neffy-Poo!" she shouted as she waddled closer. Harry saw Dudley grimace at the thought of the upcoming hug, kiss and his deeply ironic statement, 'It's wonderful to see you again, Aunt Marge.'
The three events came and went; Dudley looked nonplussed about it but didn't react. Harry assumed that he was once again being paid to be polite. Just then, tragedy struck. Aunt Marge's eye's fell on Harry.
"Ah," she mused. "The plot thickens. I assume by your presence that Yvonne was ill again?"
"Yes," replied Aunt Petunia. "She's back in the hospital, something about her liver"
"Shame," said Aunt Marge. "Still, let's not leave you all out here. Do come in and get comfy. You, boy..." her gaze returned to Harry. "Make yourself useful and bring in your Uncle's suitcase, and be quicker about it than you were when I last visited you."
"Since you asked so nicely," replied Harry sarcastically, earning him a glare from Aunt Marge and her brother. "Uncle Vernon, I need the keys to get into the boot." His uncle thought for a second, presumably trying to decide whether he should give Harry the keys and risk him joyriding, or unlock it himself. He soon realised that the second option required effort on his part and since Harry didn't know how to drive, nor did he have any desire to drive, he decided to give Harry the keys. He removed them from his pocket and threw them to Harry who caught them effortlessly, thanks largely to his years as a Seeker.
Harry unlocked the car and hauled the two suitcases, one for Dudley and one for his parents, as well as the small rucksack that contained Harry's possessions, up to the house. Harry had brought a few items to amuse himself. He couldn't bring any magical books as Uncle Vernon had inspected all that he had elected to bring. He had brought a bottle of water, a thick jumper in case it was cold, a spare pair of clothes, his wallet which was full of Muggle money as well as Galleons, and today's copy of the Daily Telegraph.
Harry had once again been banned from the television this holiday. Since his hiding place beneath the window was now known about, he had no other way to listen to the news. Uncle Vernon read the Daily Telegraph everyday and after he discarded it, Harry would pilfer it and have a read himself. Harry also read the Daily Prophet on a regular basis, having taken out a subscription at the end of last term. He had paid for the next six months up front so the owls didn't hang around, and you got a discount for a subscription like that. Much to his surprise, it seemed that Voldemort had been rather quiet. He had not attacked, there were no accounts of Dementor attacks, Lucius Malfoy and his illustrious gang were still behind bars and Dumbledore had been reinstated. Harry should be happy that no one else had died or been hurt but he wasn't. He knew full well that this was just the quiet before the storm. Everyday he woke up with a sense of dread at what he might read in today's Prophet. One morning, much to both Harry's horror and amusement, Uncle Vernon had picked up a copy of the Daily Prophet. What followed was a brief shouting session and Harry being threatened with the door. After Harry had reminded him somewhat less than politely that if he left, the house was venerable to an attack by Dementors, his Uncle had conceded and sent him to his room.
Harry managed to get the suitcases up the stairs and into their appropriate rooms. He left them on the bed and returned downstairs. Aunt Marge had seated them in the lounge and had poured them all a drink of what Harry assumed was brandy. Dudley even had a glass, 'They had to teach darling Diddy-Kins to be a gentlemen'.
"Ah, all done are you, boy?" asked Aunt Marge with malice that rivalled Professor Snape.
"Yes," replied Harry. "Your keys, Uncle Vernon, and yes; the car is locked. Not that there is much danger of a sheep stealing your car."
"Silence, boy," growled Aunt Marge. "Your uncle has been kind enough to let you live in his house, eat off his table, and even had the courtesy to drive you down here today and all you can do is cheek him?"
"I was merely pointing out that the car is locked and is not going to be stolen," replied Harry with a very patronising tone. "Now, if you'll excuse me."
"Where are you going?" asked Aunt Petunia.
"To have a look around," replied Harry.
"Keep off my bloody flowers and don't go near the dogs!" shouted Aunt Marge as Harry left.
"Well, this is another fine mess that you've gotten yourself into," muttered Harry to himself. He wandered out of the door and through the field. He passed the dog pens and the orchard before wandering down the hill towards the fields that covered most of the Devon countryside. There were sheep in most fields, some with cows and the occasional paddock with horses. Judging by the high stonewall which rose about eight feet, the fields belonged to the farm next door. Harry climbed the tree next to the wall; the wall itself was topped with barbed wire to stop sheep climbing over, not that a sheep could jump eight feet in the air. It seemed that Marge valued her privacy. He peered over at the endless greenery, decorated with white dots that were sheep. He saw a combine harvester up on one of the hillsides and a tractor or two working in the crop fields.
The sun was warm but there was a cooling breeze. The landscape was quiet, peaceful. This was what he needed, time to be alone and think. He was perched on a thick branch of a pear tree. His legs were dangling down and he was leaning back against the trunk of the old tree. He pulled out his wand, which he had successfully managed to smuggle out of the house. He rolled it over between his fingers. Having polished it two nights ago and not needing to use it, it was beautifully shiny. It reflected the sun's light up into his eyes. He had always considered it a tool, an object that could make things fly or change colour or move. He had never thought of a wand as a weapon before, certainly not as a device to kill with. Maybe that was part of his problem.
He remembered his duel with Bellatrix. Her sick voice echoed in his mind.
You have to want to cause pain; you have to enjoy it!
Harry had wanted to hurt her, to make her suffer the way he was suffering now, but he never enjoyed causing pain. He could never enjoy hurting someone. Not even Voldemort or Bellatrix. If he couldn't even perform the Cruciatus Curse, what hope was there that he could use Avada Kedavra? The killing curse; the fake Moody had said that everyone in the room could point their wands at him and say the words and he wouldn't even get a nosebleed. If Harry couldn't even summon up hatred enough for the Cruciatus Curse, he certainly could not summon enough to end someone's life. His situation was hopeless. He couldn't even kill Voldemort, and all the while, his friends and loved ones were going to be picked off one by one. Cedric had been the first, then Sirius. How many more would die before Harry was hateful enough to be able to kill? Harry could imagine Ron and Ginny playing Quidditch with their brothers in the orchard. He could imagine Hermione on holiday in Spain where she said she was going on the train ride at the end of last year. No doubt she would come back with tales of historic witches and wizards who had done great things centuries ago. Harry wondered if he would be remembered in a hundred year's time. Would his gravestone read Harry Potter – The Boy Who Failed or would it be Harry Potter – Beloved Husband, Treasured Friend, Noble Saviour?
The problem with sitting in a tree is that, due to the shape of the branches it is hard to find a comfortable position, and when one becomes uncomfortable it is hard to change. Harry gave up fidgeting and jumped down. He meandered back up through the orchard but not towards the house. Instead, he followed the boundary of Aunt Marge's property. The farm wasn't huge but since Harry lived in suburbia, he was unaccustomed to large open spaces and the abundance of greenery. Harry came to a small stream that trickled through one of the fields. Aunt Marge did not own any sheep so the field was empty. The grass had recently been cut and the hedges looked like they had been clipped back. The hedges consisted of dry stonewalls which were covered in brambles, bracken and stinging nettles. They looked unruly and ugly all around the farm, but as Harry saw them cut back to their stalks, he realised that even the ugliest plants are favourable to the barren look of the stalks which covered the field on one side. The stream was about a metre wide and a foot deep. The banks were flat and covered in short grass. The field was sloped slightly on either side and the flowers of summer were pushing back up after the cutting for the grass. Harry found the whole place quite peaceful. Surrey was noisy and grey, yet here he found a place of natural beauty which, for the moment at least, he had all to himself. There was silence except for the trickling of the stream; the sun was warm and the sky was clear.
This was what Harry wanted; time alone to think things through. He took his top off, revealing his thin and pale chest. I really need to do some exercise, thought Harry to himself as he folded his t-shirt into a pillow and lay down on his back. He put his arms behind his head and laid back. He closed his eyes and relaxed, allowing the sun's rays to warm his pale body. Harry dozed off in a few minutes.
Harry awoke with a start. His quiet paradise was now noisier than Surrey. Harry sat bolt upright and looked around quickly for the cause of the commotion. The sheep in the next fields, which belonged to another farmer, were bleating loudly. Harry looked around to see what had scared them. His hand instinctively pulled his wand out from the waistband of his combats and he pulled on his shirt. The sun was still high and warm. Harry checked his watch; it was half past seven. He had probably missed dinner but he wasn't concerned with that; he wasn't even hungry. Harry looked over at the sheep; they were running madly around in what Harry thought was terror. Something was scaring the sheep. Harry cautiously got to his feet and crept over to the dry-stone wall. He cautiously poked his head over the top to see what was scaring them. It could just have been the farmer coming out with his dog but Harry too could feel something. He felt cold; he could feel something coming. He couldn't tell what it was, but he felt scared. It was a feeling similar to the feeling that you are being watched, but in addition there was the fear from the sheep as well. Something was not right.
Harry knew he shouldn't be there. There was no other human around; he should get back to the farmhouse. At least there, there were others around and he could contact someone. Harry turned and ran; he sprinted as fast as he could back up the hill towards the gate through which he had come. With every step the feeling of fear grew. Something was coming and he didn't know what. Harry was just out of the gate and onto the track back towards the farmhouse, when he heard a strange sound. It sounded like a whistle, but he couldn't tell where it was coming from. It seemed that the whole valley was making this soft whistling sound. It was a constant note, which made Harry think that it was not the wind. That is being made by something alive, reasoned Harry. Something that thinks!
Harry ran faster still, bursting up the hill towards the farmyard. With every pace, the volume and pitch of the whistle increased. Harry stopped once he was out of the gate and onto the stone floor of the farmyard. He couldn't bear the sound any more. It was now so loud that Harry couldn't hear anything else at all, not his footsteps, not the dogs; nothing. He clamped his hands over his ears and fell to his knees, trying ever so hard to block out the sound. His ears felt as thought they were going to burst, he could feel the pressure of his head pounding in his ears.
Harry screamed as the whistle became louder and louder. His ears were throbbing. Harry felt his lungs begin to tighten. He was finding it increasingly hard to breath. His breaths were long and painful, his heart was pounding and his head was fit to burst. Suddenly it all stopped.
Harry still felt drained and his head ached. He released his ears and tried to stand, feeling weaker all the while. Harry managed to get up, but he could still feel that something was wrong. The whistling had stopped, but Harry knew that something dark was coming. He continued to move towards the farmhouse, staggering as fast as he could. He fell over after a few paces and tried to get back up. He was just inside the courtyard.
"Need a hand, Harry?" asked a voice.
Harry looked up from his position on the stone courtyard. His blood ran cold and his limbs became numb as his scar exploded with pain. Harry clasped a hand instinctively to his scar. He looked helplessly up into a pair of unforgiving, red eyes.
"NO! You can't be here!" shouted Harry. "You can't!" It couldn't be true; Dumbledore had promised him that he would be safe with the Dursleys. Dumbledore had promised him!
"I assure you I can, Harry," smirked Voldemort. Harry didn't know where he came from, but he was standing in front of him as real as anything else. Dumbledore had told him he would be safe, as long as he was staying with his Aunt. Voldemort reached out a hand and grabbed Harry's wrist. The pain in his scar intensified as the cold bony fingers wrapped themselves around his wrist and pulled him sharply up onto his feet. Once Harry was upright and supporting himself, Voldemort released his wrist. Out of common politeness, Harry came very close to thanking Voldemort but managed to stop himself. He was still dazed and was having trouble maintaining his balance. Harry immediately reached behind him and grabbed his wand. Before he could bring it around, Voldemort grabbed him roughly around the throat with one hand and pulled the wand out of Harry's hand with the other. The pain in Harry's head was too much, he couldn't hold onto the wand and his balance was wavering. Harry crumpled to the ground and stared helplessly up at the towering figure of Lord Voldemort. He just had time to acknowledge that two wands were being pointed at him before pain ripped though every cell in his body.
"CRUCIO!" hissed Voldemort. Harry felt like he was on fire. He had felt the curse before but he could never get used to it. The pain was so intense; he couldn't breath, he couldn't think. Voldemort removed the curse and stared maliciously down at Harry. "Never try to attack me, Harry. It hurts my feelings. You don't want to hurt my feelings, Harry."
"Do it!" croaked Harry. The pain was too much; he didn't care anymore. He would see Sirius again; he would see his parents. Ron and Hermione would join them when Voldemort took Hogwarts. They would all be together on the other side.
"Patience is a virtue, Harry," hissed Voldemort malevolently.
"Do it, coward!" coughed Harry.
"I do what I want, when I want," replied Voldemort. "Are you really so eager to die?"
"You've won, now finish it!" shouted Harry.
"If it is any consolation, I will miss you, Harry," sighed Voldemort, his eyes still glowing with hatred. "Our little game kept me occupied. I dare say there will be times when I will regret not having a worthy opponent."
"I thought you thought I was nothing special."
"Yet you escaped me several times, you duelled with me and lived. It grieves me to admit that you gave me a good run for my money. Good bye, Harry."
"When Dumbledore kills you, remember me," choked Harry.
"As you wish," smirked Voldemort. "AVADA..."
"Invertae Statim!" Harry saw a flash of light to his right before Voldemort was launched several feet backwards. The Dark Lord landed on his back, and rolled down the hill. He rolled three times before coming to a stop. His head shot up to look at who had dared to try and hex him. Harry's head spun around as well. Harry's heart lifted as he recognised the figure in blue, who was standing behind him.
Albus Dumbledore had come to the rescue.
"Dumbledore!" spat Voldemort as he got to his feet and brushed himself down. "You can't protect him from me, Albus."
Voldemort bent down to brush the bottom of his robes off, but then quick as a flash shot back up and fired a curse at Dumbledore. The Headmaster reacted instantaneously, spinning gracefully and effortlessly out of the way of the curse. The ball of light rocketed past him and smashed into the wall, bowing it apart and releasing the sheep in the next field. Dumbledore stood perfectly still, his eyes once more on Voldemort. He still hadn't drawn his wand, while Voldemort had both his wand and Harry's aimed at the Headmaster.
"Tom," said Dumbledore coolly. "While I am impressed that you managed to get past my spells, I must warn you that we are not helpless."
"Do you really believe that that half-blooded little boy could ever defeat me?
"I have the utmost confidence in Harry," replied the Headmaster.
"You lie!" spat Voldemort triumphantly. "You are lying to me! You do not believe he can do it, do you?" Voldemort sent another killing curse straight at the headmaster who effortlessly sidestepped again.
"You cannot win, Tom. Hatred can never be as powerful as love."
"Then why is there no way to block the killing curse? Why can nothing block pure hatred?"
"A mother's love blocked your curse. A mother's love cost you thirteen years of your life."
"But it never truly triumphed. In the end, darkness will always win. And now, I shall prove it. If love truly is more powerful than hatred, if Harry's love for his friends, his late godfather, his father, his Mudblood mother and you, Dumbledore, is really stronger than my hatred, then his Shield Charm should block my curse." He threw Harry back his wand.
"You're insane!" spat Harry, finding his voice again.
"Even Potter knows I'm right! You both know that I am right. Neither of you will risk it!" sneered Voldemort.
Dumbledore didn't alter his expression at all, he kept his sparkling blue eyes on Voldemort. Seconds ticked by as the three wizards stared back and forth between each other. Then Dumbledore moved. Slowly, he pulled back his cloak revealing a long silver object, which was hanging from his belt. Harry recognised it at once as the sword that had saved him in the second year. Godric Gryffindor's sword was shining brightly from under Dumbledore's robes.
"What are you going to do with that?" asked Voldemort with a bored tone.
Voldemort and Harry watched as Dumbledore slowly unclipped the sword from his belt and walked over to Harry. He handed it to Harry, who weakly took it.
"I can't fight like this, sir," croaked Harry. Dumbledore looked at him for a second before removing something else from his pocket. It was a small piece of chalk.
"Draw a circle around yourself. As long as the sword and you stay in the circle he cannot harm you." Harry did as he was told. Dumbledore was standing between Voldemort and Harry so the Dark Lord couldn't see what Harry was doing. Harry quickly completed the circle and Dumbledore stood aside.
"Do you expect the boy to try and stab me to death?" gloated Voldemort.
"Not at all," replied Dumbledore. "I expect you to leave." Voldemort stared unblinkingly at Dumbledore for a few seconds before firing another killing curse at Dumbledore. The Headmaster spun around with a twirl of his cloak and was gone. The curse flew harmlessly into the ground.
"Tom," called Dumbledore from his new perch atop the wall to Harry's right.
"Enough games," spat Voldemort. He fired another curse at the Headmaster who jumped backwards off of the wall and landed eloquently just outside the gate. "First mistake!" hissed Voldemort in triumph. He flicked his wand and the gate in front of Dumbledore slammed shut and bolted. Harry jumped as a hazy wall of light appeared over the gate and the walls, surrounding the field in a translucent bubble of energy. Dumbledore walked slowly up to the light and reached out with a hand. He quickly withdrew it, as if in pain.
"You see, Dumbledore," said Voldemort slowly. "You can't protect him. Nothing can enter here." Harry tried to stand as Voldemort turned back to him. "And you, Harry. Did you really think that Dumbledore could protect you? Did you actually believe that you had a chance of beating me?"
"You bastard!" growled Harry.
"CRUCIO!" hissed Voldemort.
A wall of blue light shot up around the edge of the circle of chalk as the curse struck it. Voldemort jumped back in shock at the sight of the barrier. Harry felt the sword pulse with energy in his hands as the blue light absorbed the curse and then disappeared.
"Stuck again, are we, Tom?" came Dumbledore's muffled voice through the bubble. The tome of amusement was unmistakeable and Harry felt Voldemort's anger pulsing through his scar. "Have you forgotten the ancient conflicts between Gryffindor and Slytherin?" asked the Headmaster.
"I know the magic!" hissed Voldemort.
"Then you also know that no spell nor person of Slytherin blood can enter the circle as long as Gryffindor's sword and blood lie within, don't you!" said Dumbledore coolly.
"A cute trick," spat Voldemort. "But nothing can block the killing curse. AVADA KEDAVRA!"
Green light erupted from the end of Voldemort's wand. It surged towards Harry like a rocket, straight at his chest. The blue bubble appeared again, blocking the curse. Harry felt the sword vibrate furiously as the curse struck. He felt tremendous energy surge within the sword. It grew hot; his fingers began to burn. Harry knew that he should let go, but if he did, the bubble might break and he would die. The pain grew, the whole sword was beginning to glow white. Something was happening. The whistling suddenly came back louder than ever before. Dumbledore and Voldemort both clasped their hands to their ears and fell to the ground in pain.
"What is this magic?" screamed Voldemort.
The world began to spin around Harry. He wanted to cover his ears but found he couldn't let go of the sword. Every cell in his body felt like it was on fire. Every inch of him seared with pain. It was as bad as the Cruciatus Curse, coupled with the painful whistle that grew louder still. The world began to spin, literally; Harry was sitting almost perfectly still, but the world rotated around him. As he span faster, the pain increased and the whistling grew louder. Faster and faster he span and around him the light became brighter and brighter. An intense white light was shining all around him, forcing him to close his eyes. His eyes, ears, and limbs were in agony. Suddenly there was a tremendous bang.
The world suddenly stopped spinning; the whistling stopped and the pain subsided. Harry found himself in midair, a few feet above the ground. Harry just had time to notice that he was falling before he slammed into the ground. Wherever he was, it was not in Aunt Marge's courtyard. He was in a flat field, the sun was setting and the dry-stone walls that Aunt Marge had, were replaced by barbed wire fences. Harry landed face first on the soft grass. Summoning his remaining energy, Harry managed to look up. He just saw Gryffindor's sword stop glowing white before he passed into unconsciousness.
Harry awoke to the feeling of something nudging his legs. As he opened his eyes, the world came into focus. He had been lying face down on a patch of grass, meaning that he now had an impression of the grass imprinted onto the parts of his body that he had been lying on. He was cold but dry. Every limb ached as he tried to move. Something warm and soft was nudging against his left thigh. He rolled over to try and see what it was. As he rolled over, he came face to face with a large, brown horse. The shock of seeing the animal's face that close caused Harry to cry out for a split second before regaining himself. Aching all over, Harry managed to climb to his feet. His head ached as well, not the pain of his scar, but a dull ache that one feels after a night out on the town. Harry felt disorientated and was having a hard time maintaining his balance. He looked all around. He was standing in the middle of a field. One side of the field ended with some woods, while the other three sides were lined with a dry stonewall, topped with barbed wire. Beyond this field was another, and another. All around him were green hills, stretching for miles, some covered with bracken and gorse and others full of sheep and horses.
"Where the hell am I?" muttered Harry to himself. Images came flooding back to him. He remembered sunbathing, then Voldemort appearing, and then the pain.
It was dark; the valley was in shadow. At the bottom was a town, lit up by hundreds of lampposts. These appeared like an orange lake amidst the darkness. Harry looked down at his watch. It read 19:41. It had only been ten minutes since his encounter with Voldemort, yet the sun had set. As Harry looked at his wrist, he realised that his clothes had changed. Gone were Dudley's old clothes. He was wearing a pair of black combat trousers, held up by a thick black belt. He had a holster on each thigh, attached to his belt, one containing his wand, the other containing a strange sort of stick he had ever seen. It was about twenty inches long. It had a short metal handle on one end, the rest looked to Harry like a glow-stick that had yet to be ignited. He removed it from the holster, feeling the heavy stick in his hands. He had a sudden urge to cast a spell.
"Stupefy!" he muttered. Suddenly the glow-stick lit up with a brilliant scarlet light. The stick was holding the spell within it. Harry knew better than to touch the glowing stick, for he somehow knew, he would stun himself it he did. He removed the spell and placed the stick back in the holster. A useful little toy, thought Harry. He had no idea how he had known what to do with the stick. He had never seen one before, but somehow he just knew what to do. He was wearing a thin black top, with Dragon scale armour over the top. It looked like a Muggle flak jacket, but Harry knew it was made of Dragon Scales. It was as black as the rest of his clothes. He was wearing a pair of leather gloves and, strapped across his back, was a huge sword. Harry pulled it out and looked at it. It was a Samurai sword, with a sharp curved blade that reflected the moonlight. Harry put it back in its scabbard. Attached to the back of his belt was a second wand. Somehow Harry knew that if he lost his primary wand, he had this as a fall back option. Harry had a feeling that it had saved his life before, but he had no memory of ever owning a second wand.
Harry had just woken up, in a strange place, armed to the teeth with no knowledge of how he had come to be there.
Harry realised that he was not in the same place. Whatever had happened had transported him somewhere else. He brushed himself down and stretched his arms and legs, willing the numbness to end. The aching didn't go away and Harry slowly began to limp in the direction of the wire fences. He would look a right sight if anyone saw him. He was carrying enough weapons to make the Aurors look like pacifists. He knew that when you were lost you follow one wall and eventually it will lead to a gate. As he neared the gate, he heard a distinct crack. It was not someone Apparating; it sounded like a branch braking. Harry turned to the direction from which the sound had come. He stood as still as possible and listened.
There it was again, as Harry listened it happened again and again, becoming more rapid each time. Harry realised that someone was moving quickly in the woods. Suddenly Harry heard voices.
"He went that way!" shouted a voice in the distance. Harry's first instinct was to hide, but then it occurred to him that he could ask these people where he was. He hadn't done anything wrong, they would be able to point him in the right direction. Harry stood in the field, waiting for the Muggles to come out of the wood.
A few seconds passed then two figures came bursting out of the woods. Harry was shocked to see that the figures were wearing a long black cloak and a glowing white mask.
Harry groggily fumbled in his holster for his wand. By the time he had withdrawn it the Death Eaters were just in front of him.
"Sir," called the first Death Eater as he tried to regain his breath. "We've been looking for you. They have an Anti-Apparation barrier all around us. There are too many, we need to get you out of here."
"What?" asked Harry, completely bemused by the Death Eater. If he didn't feel so weak he would have stunned them, but he was having trouble staying on his feet.
"Sir, did you hear me? We have to leave, quickly."
"But, I...you're..." stuttered Harry.
"Sir, my orders are to get you out of here!" said the second Death Eater firmly.
"This way, quickly," said the first Death Eater. He took Harry's arm and began to hurry him down the slope. "Look out!"
Harry looked up just in time to see several red spells come shooting out of the woods. They found their marks, making the Death Eaters collapse around Harry. He looked up as six figures in red robes emerged from the woods.
Thank God, thought Harry. Aurors have found me. He breathed a sigh of relief as the figures in red drew nearer.
Harry made his way towards them. He put his hands up to show that he had no wand.
"It's alright," he called. "I'm fine; they didn't hurt me." As he neared the Aurors, they ignited their wands, shining six very bright lights in Harry's eyes. He tried to cover them with his arm. "Can you lower the lights, please!" he called.
"Identify yourself!" called one of them.
"Harry Potter," shouted Harry.
Several binding spells hit him at once. Harry felt the armour absorb most of them but one struck him in the face. He never really saw them coming. His arms snapped against his sides and he keeled slowly over, landing painfully on his back. His already thumping head started throbbing. Voldemort wasn't close or even angry but his head was in pain. What I wouldn't give for a Neurofen tablet, thought Harry.
"What the hell is going on?" he shouted.
"Silence, Potter!" growled an Auror. "Call the office, boys. We've finally caught the infamous Harry Potter!"
"What have I done?" asked Harry.
"Silence!" hissed the Auror. "Save your breath for your confession. You're going to Azkaban, Potter."
"Azkaban?" he coughed. "What have I done?"
"Don't play that game with me," snapped the Auror, giving Harry a hard kick to the gut. He hardly felt a thing, due to the protection of the Dragon armour.
"Frank, calm down," said a second Auror. "He needs to be able to talk for his trial."
"Crouch won't give him one," spat Frank. Frank, the name rang a bell to Harry. The moonlight was shining brightly enough for Harry to be able to see his captors. The Auror named Frank, seemed familiar, yet Harry couldn't place a name.
"True," said the second Auror. "But Dumbledore might; the Wizengamot can still overrule Crouch and give him a trial. Lily and James are very close to Dumbledore." This conversation was bemusing Harry more than the Death Eaters had.
"Lily and James, as in my parents?" asked Harry. The curse was beginning to wear off and he could move his finger and hands slightly.
"Once," sneered Frank. "Lily is too ashamed to even admit that a little shit like you ever came from her body."
"My parents are dead," sneered Harry. How dare they taunt him about them? How dare they trample on the memories of his parents? Even Voldemort had yet to stoop that low.
"What?" snapped the second Auror.
"They were murdered by Voldemort," sneered Harry. "Where have you been for the past fifteen years?" This was all a sick joke. Aurors were despicable, taunting an orphan about his deceased parents. This was lower than Death Eaters; they didn't even have a motive...unless...these must be Death Eaters!
Harry was snapped out of his trail of thought as Frank grabbed him and hoisted him roughly into the air.
"What did you say?" he growled.
"You're pathetic! How dare you do this to me!" shouted Harry. Tears of anger began to build in his eyes.
"How dare I? You may be the Dark Lord's number two, but you're also pretty high on my shit-list at the moment, so tell me. What have you done with Lily and James?"
"What's that supposed to mean?" Harry lowered his voice, complete confused.
"TELL ME! WHAT'VE YOU DONE TO THEM?" In his temper, Frank knocked his hood down and Harry finally recognised him, but it wasn't possible.
"Frank Longbottom?" stuttered Harry in shock. "But you...you should be in St. Mungos!"
"I should be?" whispered Frank. "I SHOULD BE? You're right, I should be, but I wasn't there when your friends arrived. They killed my wife, and our unborn child. You took everything from me!"
"What about Neville?" coughed Harry through Frank's strong and overly tight grip. The look Frank gave him scared Harry to death.
"Alright, that does it!" Frank threw him to the ground roughly and pulled out his wand. "Mr Potter here is about to be killed resisting arrest."
"FRANK!" The second Auror grabbed him by the arm.
"He's not worth it!"
"Did you hear what he said?"
"Neville's dead, Frank, and killing Potter won't bring him back," said the second Auror softly. He took a step past Frank and kneeled next to Harry.
"Harry," said the Auror softly. "What did you mean when you said James and Lily were dead?"
"As in the opposite of alive," spat Harry, his temper getting the better of him. "Voldemort came to their house and murdered them in front of me."
"You're lying!" said the Auror firmly, thought Harry heard the doubt in his voice.
"Why would I lie about that?" asked Harry sarcastically. "It's in every history book you'll read. What the hell is going on? One minute I'm in a fire-fight on a farm, the next I'm being stunned by my own God-damned side. What is going on?"
"Your own side?" asked the Auror in a puzzled tone. "As in Death Eaters?"
"Do I look like a bloody Death Eater?" snapped Harry, trying to get to his feet. Instantly, he had six wands aimed at his chest.
"No," sneered Frank. "You look like the bloody tooth fairy! I've had enough; gag and bag this little prick. Crouch can deal with him."
With that, two pairs of hand grabbed him from behind. A bag came down over his head. It was made of a thick fabric that blocked out all light. Harry felt his hands being twisted behind his back.
"Wait!" he shouted. "I'm not a..." He was silenced by a kick to the stomach. Harry fell to his knees, gasping for air. His hands had been released as he fell. He ripped the bag from his head, trying to get air into his lungs. He looked up at the Aurors around him. He turned back to Frank, just in time to see a fist come out nowhere and slam into his face. White blobs appeared over his vision and he toppled to one side.
Harry tried to sit up. He moved his head enough to see the incoming spell. The jet of red light struck him in the face and then everything went black.
Thanks for reading. Please take the time to review. Your feedback is always apreciated and it help me to make the story better. Thanks.