Disclaimer: I apologise sincerely to J.K.Rowling for mangling her characters in such a manner. I promise they'll be back in their box tomorrow, Jo, all stitched back together.
AN: I feel I should say a little about where this story came from. It came one bleary-eyed morning after a night spent a) thinking too much about the Prophecy and its implications and b) arguing with homophobes. These things simmered in the bizarre place that is my mind and came out the other side awaiting only one further addition. I got up the next morning, had breakfast and mused on this fic, and then went online – where a friend with a literally bloody fishbowl greeted me and proceeded to tell me about the sad demise of her fish (sucked up into the filter, poor things.) This collided with the story and, well, the result is before you.
It's also my first and only DH story. I don't intend to write much more of it – I'm far too set in my ways with DHr – but I hope all my usual faithful try it! You should be aware that this story contains suicidal tendencies, alcohol and fishbowls. Dedicated to my beta, Hannah, because in writing this I managed to inadvertently hit her three biggest dislikes – and she betaed it anyway. Good on her.
1. The act or practice of ending the life of an individual suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable condition, as by lethal injection or the suspension of extraordinary medical treatment, called also mercy killing.
2. A quiet, painless death.
Somehow Harry looked small: alone and lost among the finery of Voldemort's Great Chamber, his footsteps ringing, small and hollow, on the cold marble floor. He was half-drunk already, of course, because no one could do this kind of thing sober, but as soon as he saw the glass of something amber and alcoholic – he could have cared less precisely what – he smiled, his eyes seeming oddly golden for an instant, and crossed the floor to grasp it.
'To business,' he said, amusement dancing in his voice. He glanced at Voldemort, who was sitting in what could only be described as a throne on a raised dais at the opposite end of the room, and threw the drink to the back of his throat in one gulp. He winced.
'Foul stuff,' he said, setting the glass down firmly and turning to face Voldemort with a firm stare.
'Critics hail it as the finest in the world,' Voldemort remarked off-handedly. 'Certainly the most expensive. One man's meat, it would appear, is another man's poison.' He smiled, an odd expression with his snake-like face, and nodded once more towards the table, where Harry's glass had refilled.
'Nice trick,' Harry remarked, and despite what he'd said earlier, picked up the glass. He stared at it contemplatively for a minute as though he'd forgotten something and the whisky was reminding him, then shrugged and drank a mouthful.
'I confess myself,' Voldemort began, leaning back in his seat, 'rather curious as to why you are here.'
'You know why,' Harry pointed out, gesturing quite wildly with the whisky glass. 'I wrote it all in the letter. I gave you the proof, too. Dumbledore's memory of it, straight from his Pensieve. Either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives.' He took a gulp of the whisky. 'You know what I'm here for.'
'Your letter, and the ensuing contract, was quite explicit about that,' Voldemort remarked. Harry had written the contract which outlined their deal, making it binding and magical. There would be no suspicion of foul play; he wanted this over with. 'You desire to die.'
Harry merely grinned at him, as though he were a particularly foolish schoolchild who'd finally managed to figure something out. 'I tried it myself, you know,' he remarked conversationally, then fumbled to pull back his sleeve, revealing a twisted and fairly new scar running from elbow to palm. 'Didn't work. The cut just healed over. Either must die at the hand of the other,' he repeated, thoughtfully.
'Indeed,' Voldemort remarked, watching Harry's movements with an oddly calm expression. 'What I fail to understand is exactly why.'
'Why?' Harry repeated. 'You don't know? I'd have thought you were smarter than that, my lord,' he added, with a mocking bow and a gulp of his whisky in mockery of a toast.
'I can glean some of the details,' Voldemort replied. 'The contract states that you would come here on this night at a specified time. Alone. You also are magically bound by this contract not to harm either myself or my followers.' Voldemort paused thoughtfully. 'And, in return for this, I am to kill you, as according to the Prophecy which you supplied me with the details of, you cannot die in any other way.'
Harry simply nodded in reply, squinting up at the ceiling above, throat exposed and pale.
'Simply put,' Voldemort said, 'I fail to see how this furthers your cause.'
'My cause?' Harry asked with some amusement, then snorted. 'Sod my cause. The Order can go fuck itself.' He paused, taking a gulp of whisky and looking at one of the curtains reflectively. 'I used to really believe in it,' he said softly. 'Saving the world, being a hero… sod all that,' he said. 'The world's not worth saving. It doesn't deserve it. And I don't want to be a hero, either.'
He paused, walking – slightly unsteady – across the room. 'They don't treat their heroes well, you know,' he remarked. 'They want you to be perfect. To be put on a pedestal and worshipped. Perfect. They want everything from you. All your time and all your effort and all your self. All your life. They want to turn you into a little golden statue, a perfect thing they can bow down and idolise.' He frowned at his whisky. 'I'm not perfect. I tried to be, but I'm not a god. I'm just human.'
Voldemort allowed him precisely thirty seconds of introspection, and then prompted, 'And?'
'And? Oh, and.' Harry remarked distantly. 'And I gave them it. What I could. You know it all, you were the one fighting me. All my time, all my effort, was for the War. The Order.' He paused. 'I was such a fool. All the people dying, it felt like it mattered then. Lately? Lately it's just been one less person to hate me. To hate us, when there was an us.'
'I assume you are referring to Draco Malfoy?' Voldemort asked.
Harry winced. 'Don't say his name. Don't remind me,' he whispered. He stared away from Voldemort, at the vast expanse of green velvet that covered the windows. 'Yes. Draco. How they hated him. Your lot weren't any better, of course, but the real hate was theirs.'
He finished the glass of whisky and crossed back to the table, where placing it down caused the glass to refill. 'Ron was the worst, though Draco warned me about Ron. Most Purebloods really hate homosexuality, he said. He looked so bloody beautiful then, you know. So serious. So concerned. Gorgeous.' Harry glanced down at this whisky and shook his head.
'I still thought Ron'd take it okay, especially after Hermione died. But he was furious. Gay and with Malfoy. Hasn't spoken to me for a year now. Keeps sending owls though. Dire warnings and disgust. I just throw them on the fire. I throw all the letters on the fire.'
He reached a wall, having been wandering across the room, and slumped against it, eyes closed. 'They didn't know him, none of them did. Dumbledore saying he was dangerous and I shouldn't go near him, Ron saying being gay was disgusting. Everyone turned against me one way or another, except the ones who were dead.'
'And that is why you're doing this?' Voldemort enquired, completely without sympathy. 'Revenge?'
'Yeah,' Harry replied. 'If I die, you can't be killed. Game over, they lose. Excellent.' He raised his glass, drank another mouthful of whisky, and smiled, an oddly bitter twist of his mouth, his eyes sparking suddenly with a kind of hatred. 'Two goals in one. My death and my vengeance. I first wanted to do this,' he said, raising a finger, 'right after they found out about us. When we woke up one morning to pictures of us kissing splashed over the Daily Prophet and tons of Howlers screeching at me for loving a Death Eater, at him for seducing me, or tricking me. At both of us for being gay.' He glared violently at his whisky, before continuing, his tone quieter. 'I said it to him, when there wasn't one supportive note. Not from anyone, not even my friends. Not even his. I want to kill them. And then I had the idea.'
He was silent after that, eerily so, utterly unmoving except for the too-quick rise and fall of his chest 'And why didn't you carry it out immediately?' Voldemort prompted eventually.
'I still cared, back then,' he shrugged. 'I sacrificed everything to fight against you. To fight for their lives. My friends died, my world was consumed with finding out your plots, your weaknesses… I think a bit of myself died,' Harry explained. 'Draco was the only real thing. The only thing I had left, at the end. Now I don't even have him.'
He fell silent for a moment, then started to slowly walk back across the floor. 'We were in the Leaky Cauldron, a few days later,' he said, 'because we were sick of hiding and cowering from Howlers and death threats. Public appearance, he said, show them we aren't afraid. Load of bloody good that did. Everything just went silent, so we went up to the bar. Tried to make an order, he just ignored us. Said really stiffly, 'We don't serve your kind here,' then people started chanting. Get out, get out, get out. So we did. Never went out again if we could help it. And then the Ministry started hunting Draco down.'
'He was a known Death Eater,' Voldemort remarked, 'and thus…'
'They never cared before,' Harry spat. 'As long as he gave the Ministry money like his father used to they left him alone. Bribery, yes, but... I didn't approve of what he was doing either, you know. But no one's perfect. I know the kind of things he used to do. He had blood under his fingernails, some nights, and he'd tell me about bits of it… nothing about plans, and I didn't ask. We were on opposite sides. It didn't matter. I… I loved him. I really did. And he loved me. But the Ministry didn't like that, no, couldn't have him dirtying their Golden Boy, their idol on a pedestal. So they turned on us, on me. Everyone did.'
Harry blinked, trying to focus on Voldemort. 'I'm getting incoherent, aren't I?' he asked.
'Somewhat,' was the reply.
Harry shook his head, turning back to his whisky and his pacing across the floor, now rather uneven and unsteady. 'He couldn't leave the house, in the end. Had to hide. The Ministry were after him, any wizard would kill him on sight, you were after him… I could barely leave the house either. And it wasn't just the wizards. Once we were walking down a Muggle street, back when it was still secret, and we were holding hands. Kids started throwing stones. One of them pulled a knife on us. Stabbed him before we could react, but I healed it. I haven't a clue what you're going on about with Purebloods being better than Muggles, because they act exactly the same. Only difference is a wizard would have used a wand. They did use wands, when they attacked us.'
Harry sighed, leaning once more against the wall and swaying unsteadily. 'I love him. Not loved, because I still do. He was beautiful. And kind, and so, so gentle, for all that he was a murderer in his spare time. It wasn't perfect. I'm not claiming perfection. We fought all the time. Argued. And we were both on opposite sides, so we fought over that too. But I loved him, and he loved me. And he always knew when to just come over and hug me, and all the stupid little things like that. When I just wanted to sit with him, or when I needed to talk, or… or everything.'
He fell silent, biting his lip, and stared at the glass in his hand. 'Why am I drinking whisky? He hates whisky,' he said, almost to himself, then threw the glass to the ground. It shattered into razor-edged spikes of crystal, the amber liquid escaping. Harry turned away.
'And now he's dead,' Voldemort replied, with neither compassion nor glee.
'Yes,' Harry replied, leaning against the wall again and staring upwards. 'Three days ago today. They didn't report what happened properly in the Prophet, you know.'
Voldemort nodded. 'What happened?'
Harry shook his head, sliding down to the floor, and was silent for almost five minutes. When he spoke, he was shaking, trembling.
'We had a fishbowl,' he said, his voice wavering but his tone firm.
This odd statement was met with a raised eyebrow from Voldemort. Harry drew his knees up to his chest and continued.
'A fishbowl. It was a fairly normal one. We had two fish in it. A golden one with little bits of red, and a silver one with bits of green, because Draco liked the symbolism. It was in the front hallway. So that when you opened the front door you could see it. It was quite a pretty one. Had plants and everything.'
Taking a deep breath, he continued. 'It was a Wednesday. Six o'clock. I'd just been out buying food, because we needed to eat, and as long as I kept my head down it was fine. Or I thought so. Hah.' He paused again, wrapping his arms around his knees. 'I just wanted to curl up on the sofa with him. Watch some Muggle TV, if I could persuade him, or play a game. He liked word associations. He liked thinking up the oddest association he could. Oh, Draco…'
He buried his face in his knees, and when he spoke again his voice was strained with the effort of not crying. 'I opened the front door. I want you to picture this. The fishbowl was right opposite me, and the water was all pink with blood, and in the water… They'd cut his head off and thrown it in the fishbowl. Facing the door. He looked… cold, and bloated, and dead. And in pain. The fish were dead too. The fish…'
He rocked back and forth, and the chamber filled with the sound of Harry trying not to cry, choking back sobs. 'I didn't even know what they'd done to him,' he said, barely more then a whisper, when he could speak again. 'He was in pieces. All over the house. Our house. They'd cut him up. In pieces. And… and…'
Harry shook his head. 'I loved him. I didn't want anything special. I just wanted to be left alone with him. He was the only person left. Everyone else was dead or hated me, and I… And they couldn't even give me that. They couldn't even let me love. They… they had to take that away too… They couldn't even give me one thing… Draco… No one tried to help. No one said it was wrong that they hated us, or that we should be left alone, they just hated blindly and they didn't think that we were human too, hero and Death Eater and both gay, who cares, and they didn't think we were both human too and fallible and in love.'
Voldemort allowed him a few moments, curled tight into a ball at the far end of the room. 'And this is why you want revenge?' he asked.
'Yes. Because they hated. Because they didn't think, didn't care. Not one of them. Not one. I used to want to save them from you, from being killed and tortured and whatever else you do to them. But they don't deserve to be saved. They deserve to die. They deserve you.' He raised his head, tears now running slowly down his cheeks. 'Kill me. Please, don't wait any longer. Just do it now.'
'You're already dying,' Voldemort replied. 'The whisky was poisoned. I felt it the safest way of ensuring you didn't go back on our agreement.'
Harry stared at him for a moment, before raising his head and laughing, wildly, almost hysterically. 'Excellent. How much longer?'
'Not much,' Voldemort replied. 'A few minutes.'
Harry nodded, his eyes already unfocused – though that may have been the alcohol – and rested his head against the wall. 'I should say something profound,' he muttered, 'but I can't think of anything.'
He didn't speak again for the next five minutes, but Voldemort, watching him carefully, could see the poison taking effect. His limbs went slack, his eyes were unfocused and appeared sightless, and when he shifted – which was rare – his movements were slow and sluggish.
Right at the last moment, when Voldemort had to watch his chest very carefully to tell whether he was alive or dead, Harry lifted his head, made an effort to speak out of a tongue that would no longer obey him, out of lips that no longer worked.
It was quite difficult to hear his last words, right before he finally slumped lifelessly to the floor, but Voldemort made them out.
They were: 'Thank you.'
AN: Yes. I know. I'm evil and horrible.
And I want to know what you thought, so hit that review button. Tell me if you liked it, loved it, loathed it, if it was too scary, if it was too political… If you have nothing else to say, then tell me what your views on the gay rights issue are.