A/N: Okay people, just bear with me. I'm sorry for the late update, but my life has been uber hectic lately. I just didn't have the time, but here's the next chapter!
NOTE! The story has gone under some revision. For example, chapter 2 (not including prologue) is longer and better than before. The other chapters have minor changes. Revision has also included a TITLE CHANGE!
I'D REREAD CHAPTER TWO ONCE AGAIN PEOPLE!
Avery said nothing as he forced Harry's mouth open. It wasn't really that hard considering how weak he was. Harry had no choice but to swallow the potion or choke. His perception of everything became even more hazy within moments, and the last thing he heard before the cold dark enveloped him was the sadistic laughter of three very disturbed men.
"It was your fault, you know."
Silence. The man shifted in the shadows.
"Why did you kill me?"
He could hear the words. It was as if the words were whispered right in his ears. He heard the words, but pain bleared his senses. He knew that the voice sounded familiar, but he couldn't match it with neither a name nor face.
He felt an ache, nothing like his physical ailments, but something else entirely different and much more painful. Had he killed someone? He could barely remember which way was up right now, but that voice . . . it filled him both with elation and unimaginable grief at the same time.
Who was it? He couldn't think. He didn't want to.
With great effort Harry opened his eyes. His vision was blurred yet he still had on his glasses. He blinked, and everything came into focus. It was still dark. He mustn't have been out for very long.
He tried to lift himself up by his arms, but his leaden limbs would not cooperate. He fell back to the floor with a dull thud and a groan, breathing hard. He couldn't see if he was alone or not.
The moon must have been covered by clouds as it's light was missing. Maybe he had just imagined the voice, or maybe he just had one too many pain curses. Harry closed his eyes and pressed his cheek to the cool stones of the dungeon floor. The coldness felt good against his flushed face. He was burning up, even though earlier he had been freezing. Maybe he was getting sick.
"Did my death make you happy?"
His eyes opened wide in fear. Did who's death make him happy? How can anyone's, besides Voldemort's of course, death make him happy? Wait! Voldemort! The memories came crashing back.
He had been captured, tortured, and the last thing he remembered was swallowing something foul -- the potion! His elation at remembering quickly deflated when he realized his predicament and simultaneously recognized the voice as it spoke again.
"I loved you once, as if you were my own son. But it wasn't enough for you, was it? I spent twelve years of my life in hell because of you. I stayed in England because of you. I DIED BECAUSE OF YOU!"
With a sob, Harry lifted himself from the ground and stumbled to the corner, curling into himself as his nightmare began.
"YOU SELFISH LITTLE BOY! EVERYONE YOU TOUCH IS CURSED WITH DEATH! EVERYONE YOU CARE ABOUT SUFFERS BECAUSE OF YOU! HOW CAN YOU LIVE WITH YOURSELF!"
"Noooo," gasped Harry, "Please, no, I didn't do anything! I'm sorry! No, no, I swear I didn't kill anyone. Please stop! I'm sorry! I'm sorry! Please, please, please . . ."
Harry's sobs were loud and uncontrollable, but nothing could drown out Sirius's voice. Nothing could stop the pain.
But then his voice stopped. And Harry's tears subsided. Cautiously, he looked up to see why the accusations had ceased. What he saw nearly made his heart stop.
"Oh Harry," a petit red head spoke wistfully. "How did you become such a monster?"
The man, you could have passed for Harry's taller twin, shook his head sadly. "It wasn't our fault Lily. He's just a bad seed. All family's have them crop up now and again. I'm sorry he killed us before we could have had a better child."
"No," whispered Harry. His eyes were bright with new tears. "Mum, Dad, please."
"How could such a thing come from my body!" Lily cried as she buried her head into James's shoulder. He glared at Harry with such hatred. Harry flinched back as if he had been physically struck.
"How dare you carelessly throw away our sacrifice. How dare you. You are worthless in my eyes. I refuse to call you my son. As far as I'm concerned, the Potter line ended with me."
Harry closed his eyes, fresh tears streaming down his face. He sobbed into his hands, refusing to look at his parents.
Harry continued to cry in anguish, refusing to face the next ghost.
"Harry, why did you make me do it?"
"I DIDN'T MAKE YOU DO ANYTHING! LEAVE ME ALONE!" screamed Harry, his eyes screwed shut and his hands fisted in his ears.
"You intentionally lead me to my death. You forced me to take the portkey. It's your fault my mother cries for me each night. It's your fault my father thinks of suicide. It's your fault my spirit cannot find peace. It's your fault."
"NO! LEAVE ME ALONE!"
"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU SCREAMING FOR FREAK?"
Harry had no trouble discerning his next ghost. He looked up from the floor to see the huge silhouette of his uncle against the moon's light.
"YOU UNGREATFUL LITTLE WRETCH! HOW DARE YOU SCREAM IN MY PRESENCE, WEARING THE VERY SAME CLOTHES WE GAVE YOU, WITH THE FOOD WE GAVE YOU IN YOUR STOMACH! HOW DARE YOU SCREAM ANT ME WHEN IT'S YOUR FAULT THAT MY FAMILY AND I ARE DEAD!"
Harry just shook his head in denial. No, it wasn't his fault. It was Voldemort's fault! It was all Voldemort's fault! Voldemort was the monster who killed his parents! He killed Sirius! And Cedric! And the Dursleys! Why were the ghosts blaming him? He wasn't the one to blame . . . or was he?
"I am so very disappointed in you Harry."
His head jerked up so fast it was a wonder he didn't give himself whiplash, for there, in all his purple robed glory, was the Headmaster himself, Albus Dumbledore.
"Professor! Please help me!" Harry cried. He was too dazed to realize that this Dumbledore would do anything but help him.
"I am sorry Harry, but in every person's life, one must learn to accept the responsibilities and consequences of one's actions."
Harry was speechless, but he managed to croak out a, "What?"
Dumbledore smiled, although there was no warmth in that smile. There were no twinkling eyes assuring him that all was well. No, this Dumbledore looked upon him as he had on the fake Alastor Moody. Harry was nothing more than vermin to the Headmaster.
"Harry, it's time for you to pay for the murders you have committed. It's time to repent. Your life for theirs, a fair enough trade."
Harry shook his head in denial. What was Dumbledore talking about? Harry scrubbed his eyes with his bloodied sleeve and replaced his dirty glasses.
"I don't understand," Harry whispered in despair.
"Harry, you must take your own life to gain the forgiveness of Sirius, your parents, Cedric, the Dursleys, and all those affected by your selfish deeds. It is the only way you could ever gain their forgiveness and the only way to be happy once again."
Hogwarts, Five Hours Prior
Headmaster Albus Dumbledore was exhausted as it had been an extremely long day. There had been piles upon piles of paperwork to do, which was one of the few things that Albus detested. A couple of Order members who had been out doing fieldwork reported in, which ended up adding more paperwork to the piles. But the most exhausting of all events was Fudge's weekly visit. Up to his office came the pompous man with his lime green bowler, demanding any new information Albus had on Voldemort, and generally doing a good job of annoying the headmaster. Albus was about to the point where all he wanted to do was spit the lemon drop out of his mouth and make the minister choke on it..
Ever since the return of Voldemort was recognized by the Ministry in the past month, Fudge had taken an aggressive approach to the apprehension of known and suspected Death Eaters, doubled Auror recruits, and more rigorous training programs were introduced to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Not that this was a bad thing of course, but it was all happening just a little too late in the game. It was very apparent that Minister Fudge was trying to cover up his ass as fast as possible to try and stay in office. And although his changes were welcomed, the public still hadn't forgotten about his earlier discredit of the Headmaster and the Boy Who Lived.
Of course, Albus thought ruefully, The public had conveniently forgotten that they had treated them both with just as much hostility as the Ministry had. The Daily Prophet had once again began to sing Harry's praises, blaming the Ministry for slandering Harry's good name.
The funny thing was that the Daily Prophet was the ones that had been doing the slandering right along with Fudge.
So this was why Albus had retired to bed early. A fire was blazing merrily on the far wall, a cup of hot chocolate steamed slightly from his side table, and a good sized book on the History of the Hogwart's Founders was nestled comfortably in his lap.
He sighed as he reached for his hot chocolate mug. This is what he had been missing when Voldemort was gone. He had missed the peace.
A sudden blaring noise caused the Headmaster to drop his hot chocolate right onto his book and in his lap.
He grabbed his wand from his bedside table and waved it over the mess. Instantly, he and his book were dry again. The blaring noise continued, and it was then that Albus realized what exactly the alarm meant.
"Oh no Harry!"
4 Privet Drive - twenty minutes after alarm
The whole of the Order apparated to the end of Privet drive. It was easy enough for them to find Harry's house since it was the only one on the street aflame. Death Eaters could be seen standing in the street in front of the house, jeering and shooting curses.
With a collective roar, the Order members rushed into battle, wands drawn and curses upon their lips. The Death Eaters came at them with just as much fury. Beams of light shot through the air, and many men on both sides fell, some dead, some luckier.
Dumbledore was battling Bellatrix. He shot a stunning curse at her, which she easily dodged, and countered with a cutting curse, which he in turn dodged. She sneered at Dumbledore, raised her wand to the sky, and shouted, "MORDESMORDE!"
A green skull with a protruding snake appeared over the burning house. One Death Eater, who sounded suspiciously like Lucius Malfoy, shouted, "DEATH EATERS! RETREAT!"
A sound of many pops signified the Death Eaters departure. Dumbledore sighed wearily as he took in their losses. Mundungus Fletcher was luckily the only casualty from the Order, although many more were injured. Dumbledore roughly tugged on his beard, a habit that had never left him. The Aurors would be here in minutes. It would be best to wait for them. And although Albus didn't like to admit it, he felt a small bit of anger towards his fallen comrade. Fletcher had been the one on duty tonight.
Tonks came up beside him. "Sir, Kingsly and I are going to go see if the Death Eaters got to Mrs. Figg."
Dumbledore waved his hand in an off manner. "Go on."
Tonks nodded. She looked as if she wanted to say something, but thought better of it. She gave her former headmaster a pat on the shoulder and then turned away.
Dumbledore turned to look at the flaming house and felt sick. Harry had been in that house. He turned to see Remus on his knees, tears streaming down his soot-smeared face.
Albus shook his head, a lone tear falling into his beard. "Oh Harry, I'm so sorry I failed you child," he whispered to the flames.
A chilled laughter reached his ears from down the street, and then an agonized scream rang out through the night. Remus ran towards the scream, but his speed was impeded by the leg injury he had received earlier in the battle.
The Order members chased after the werewolf, leaving the injured behind. Running, Dumbledore could barely make out the figures through the smoke, but he did catch the last words cackled by what sounded like Bellatrix Lestrange.
"-- world Potter. It's the last time you'll ever be seeing it."
They disappeared, presumably by a portkey, just twenty feet from where the Order had been.
"NO!" Remus fell to the ground, his leg finally unable to support him. "HARRY!"
A/N: Well, there you are. We should be seeing some past action either next chapter or the one after that. Once again, sorry for such the long wait, and yes, I know, the chapter wasn't as long as usually. Sorry.
Reviews: Thank you all for your encouraging reviews. They got me kick started again! I'll have to write responses later today, alas, school awaits.